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Showing posts from October, 2018

Challenging Article 35-A: A BJP "assault" on special rights given to Kashmiri people

By Syed Mujtaba*
The former ruler of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Maharaja Hari Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, joining the whole of his princely state to the Dominion of India. By accepting the accession, the Dominion of India acquired jurisdiction over the state only with respect to defence, external affairs and communications. Clause 7 of the Instrument of Accession specifically protected the state’s right to ratify the application of any future constitution of India in its territory.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

When radical lawyer-activist Girish Patel's prophecy on "cchote Hitler" came out to be true

By Darshini Mahadevia*, Ghanshyam Shah**
Girish Patel, a prominent presence and voice in the radical section of Gujarat’s civil society, human rights lawyer and social activist, breathed his last on 6 October 2018, at the age of 86 years. Girishbhai, as he was popularly known, was the son of a sanitary inspector in the Ahmedabad municipality. His career began in 1958 as a professor in one of Ahmedabad’s law colleges. He went on to study at the Harvard Law School where he got his Master of Laws degree and also learnt about the vast philosophical aspects of law. He then studied at The Hague Academy of International Law.

#MeToo movement: Justice eludes Bhanwari Devi for 26 years

Counterview Desk
“As India's #MeToo movement mounts, we mustn't forget Bhanwari Devi's struggle”, says Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) in an email alert. Releasing her profile, CJP, one of India’s premier civil rights organizations, has pointed towards how, despite the “horrific assault” on her, she has retaliated with “path-breaking work as a saathin”, and “for over 26 years, Bhanwari has fought a long and challenging battle in the pursuit of justice.”
At the same time, CJP regrets, despite the “ground-breaking Vishakha Guidelines, where the Supreme Court laid down legally binding obligations for institutions regarding the prohibition, prevention and redressal of sexual harassment in the workplace”, these couldn’t come to her aid. It underlines, “Unfortunately, Bhanwari herself could not be covered under the Vishakha judgment, because as per the law, her rapists were not her ‘employers’ and were not at work.”
Text of Bhanwari Devi’s profile by Sushmita: “Indian cu…

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Vadodara redevelopment "polluting" river Vishwamitri's environs

By Our Representative
Several senior environmentalists and academics of Vadodara have written an open letter to the Municipal Commissioner, Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), asking the administration to take immediate steps to “immediately stop demolition, tree felling and clearing of vegetation, dumping of debris, discharge of untreated sewage, dredging, digging, filling, leveling, construction, etc. along the city’s Vishwamitri river and its environs.”

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

National TUs' betrayal? Birla-Century workers seek coop ownership

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which claims to have championed the cause of 900 protesting workers of the Birlas-owned Century mills in Madhya Pradesh, has taken strong objection to established unions such as INTUC (Congress), AITUC (CPI) and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BJP) for failing to consult the workers in agreeing to choose the option of voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), one of the three offered by the Birlas.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

Instead of alleviating poverty, Govt of India imported arms worth $14 billion, "supported" cronyism

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj* 
On October 17, the world community once again commemorated the ‘International Day for the Eradication of Poverty’. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the declaration by the General Assembly, (in its resolution 47/196 of December 22, 1992) of this special day. It also marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘Call to Action’ by Father Joseph Wresinski — which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty — and the recognition by the United Nations of the day as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Govt of India "fails" to recognize: Muslims are educationally most disadvantaged

By Moin Qazi*
India’s economy is booming but Muslims continue to suffer great economic deprivation. Muslims are the second largest religious group of India, with nearly 14 per cent of the country’s population or roughly 172 million people. Their situation is so dire that, for them, economic reforms need precedence over all other amelioration policies. In fact improvement in social and educational conditions as also the much talked about gender reforms can automatically follow as a byproduct of economic redemption.

Fight for conserving Ganga far from over: Priests warn Modi

By Medha Patkar and Sandeep Pandey*
The legendary Prof Guru Das Agrawal, who got promoted from a lecturer directly to professor at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur after having finished his PhD from University of California at Berkeley in two years and laid the foundation of India's anti-pollution regimen as the first member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board, ultimately failed to convince a government about his viewpoint on rejuvenation of river Ganga and had to pay for this with his life.

Asiatic lion falls prey to Gujarat's "parochial" political rulers: Systemic failure?

By RK Misra*
The death of 24 lions in as many days in Sasan Gir is evidence of the systemic failure of Gujarat to look after these mighty cats and its false pride in not relocating some of them to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. The worst fears of the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of an alternate home for Asiatic lions in Madhya Pradesh five years ago, seem to be coming true. Twenty four lions have perished in the last 24 days ending October 15 in their only home of Sasan Gir in Gujarat.

Probe sought into "fraudulent" corporate transfer of Chhattisgarh tribal land

By Dr Manohar Chauhan*
Amnesty International India, a premier human rights organization, has demanded probe into the alleged grabbing of tribal land by two private companies, TRN Energy and Mahavir Energy Coal Beneficiation Limited (MECBL), in Gharghoda sub-division in Chhatisgarh. Addressing media in Raipur, senior Amnesty activists said, on October 16, as many 85 adivasi villagers in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, called upon the state police to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that they had been unlawfully dispossessed of their lands by people acting as agents of these two private companies.

When Sardar Patel opposed reservation, asked Scheduled Castes to give up their “inferiority” complex

By Dr Hari Desai*
It is ironical indeed. Though Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was opposed to any kind of reservation in the government jobs and education as well as in the legislatures (like Mahatma Gandhi), even today his name is being drawn in controversies in the present-day agitations demanding reservation in India.

Opposition, land rights network come together, demand scrapping of Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project

By Our Representative
In an unusual development, India’s land rights network Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA) and 12 opposition parties, including Indian National Congress (INC), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (Secular), and Left parties (CPI, CPI-M), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have demanded scrapping of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project project, even as appreciating the suspension of the loans to the project by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as a “small step of success”.

Mining in India has mostly taken place in common grazing land: Study cites environment ministry data

Counterview Desk
A recent study, “Midcourse Manoeuvres: Community strategies and remedies for natural resource conflicts in India”, says that a sectoral and regional distribution of environment clearances for projects granted environmental clearance up to October 2017 indicates that states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have “a large number of environment clearances for industrial projects”.

Almost total impunity for "enforced" disappearances in J&K: Practice was first used in World War-II

By Syed Mujtaba Hussain*
Enforced disappearance is the most offensive form of human rights violation. It inflicts intolerable pain on the victim’s body, mind as well as spirit. Besides that, it creates separation among parents, relatives and children’s because they do not know whether their loved ones are alive or dead. They feel fear for their safety, economic deprivation, legal injustice and social isolation.

Whither mandatory 'rural bonds'? With few doctors in rural Maharashtra, public rural health is at risk

By Gajanan Khergamker*
Sixty-year-old Jamunabai Vasawe was bitten by a snake at six pm. Belonging to Manibeli village on the banks of Narmada river in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, bordering Gujarat, her family rushed her to the closest sub-centre, only to find it was shut. As for the primary health centre, it was simply out of reach.

Martyred priest who was "critical" of Church for enjoying privileges and power canonized as saint by Pope

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Sunday, October 14, Pope Francis canonized seven women and men as saints of the Catholic Church. Each of these have proved outstanding in holiness and contributed in significant ways to help make our world a better place.
One new Saint, who will truly be celebrated by several, particularly by the poor and oppressed, is Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Even in his lifetime, several of his own revered Romero. On March 24, 1980, he was brutally assassinated whilst celebrating the Eucharist in San Salvador. He was an outspoken critic of his Government, the military and of the other right wing elements of his country, for their continued oppression and exploitation of the poor.

Legacy of Gujarat's 13-yrs Modi rule: Three of India’s most polluted rivers, one of country's worst toxic dumps

By RK Misra*
Gujarat is the flavor of the Indian season.
Mahatma Gandhi, the man who won us independence is Gujarat’s gift to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who flagged off the country’s year long, high profile celebration of the Mahatma’s 150thbirth anniversary on October 2,2018, hails from here as does Amit Shah who runs the ruling BJP .There are two state Governors and additionally a long line of bureaucrats, technocrats and politicians from the state doing duty in Delhi and around the country.

Allow journos to freely report from both sides of Kashmir: PoK-based editor interacts with Guwahati scribes

By Nava Thakuria*
A well-known Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) based editor-journalist has favoured people-to-people contact and exchange of ideas between all parts of Kashmir for greater regional understanding and meeting of minds. Haris Qadeer, a former editor of an Urdu daily published from Muzaffarabad, said, there should be "frequent contact and movement of journalists" in conflict zones, so that truth doesn't remain in the wraps.

Punjab blasphemy law "violates" Constitution, is "attack" on democratic rights under secular garb

By Battini Rao*  The Punjab state assembly recently passed a bill for an addition to IPC clause 295 to give life imprisonment for any ‘injury, damage or sacrilege’ of four religious books, (Guru Granth Sahib, Koran, Bible and Geeta) ‘with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people’. This is the first time in independent India that a punishment usually given for willfully murdering another human being has been recommended for defilement of religious books.

World Bank’s bad business? Modi govt's pro-corporate labour reforms for "improving" investment climate

Counterview Desk
One of the largest recipients of the World Bank, having borrowed over US$100 billion over the last seven decades, India was recently rewarded by the Bank for finding new ways to push its agenda of "adopting Bank-backed pro-corporate policy reforms via the Doing Business rankings (DBR)", says a new report, "The Great Ventriloquist Act: The World Bank’s Bad Business in India."
Authored by Janhavi Mittal, Anuradha Mittal and Elizabeth Fraser, and published by US-based Oakland Institute, the report states, thanks to the country seeking to go ahead with policy shifts as desired by the World Bank, "last year India leapfrogged a staggering 30 positions in the DBR", though complaining, "But this jump has come at an enormous cost for both people and the environment".
Seeking to "expose" how India’s "one-track focus on improving its DBR has allowed massive environmental, labour, and human rights abuses", the report …

Ganga flows… with blood? Eco-crusader passes away after his pleas to save the river fell on Modi's "deaf" ears

By Sheshu Babu*
'Naitikta nasht hui ... Manavta bhrasht hui
Nirlajya bhav se behti ho kyon ...'
( Morality is destroyed ... Humanity has been corrupted
Why do you flow in this shameless way?)
– From ' Ganga behti hai kyon' by Pundit Narendra Sharma and lyrics rendered by Bhupen Hazarika

One of the present government's prime missions was to clean Ganga. It boasted of a flagship programme 'Namami Gange' but could not care to listen to the real fighter who was on fast since June 22 demanding concrete action to cleanse Ganga by not allowing industrial waste causing pollution and health problems to people.

CJP asks NHRC to monitor Varanasi Church attack, urges Facebook to act on video feature used to spread hate

Counterview Desk
In a complaint to Justice HL Dattu, chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) -- with copies to the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, and Facebook -- top social activist Teesta Setalvad, secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has has asked NHRC to monitor the manner in which “Hindutva extremists” are harassing the Christian community in Varanasi, leading to mob vandalizing St Thomas Church on October 2, Gandhi Jayanti.
Setalvad has called on the police to take action against those responsible for incident, including those spreading inflammatory messages on social media.
Text of the letter: We at Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) stand in support of the letter submitted by several citizens’ organisations–Saajha Sanskriti Manch, Kashi Qaumi Ekta Manch, Nagarik Prayas Manch, Insaaf Manch, Rashtriya Inquilabi Dalit Adivasi Manch (RIDAM), and Asian Bridge–to the Police Commissioner, SSP, and the District Magistrate in Varanasi. This letter was…

13.7% adult India suffers from mental morbidity: Allocation 0.16% of Union health budget, B'desh's 0.44%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most under-appreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. The National Mental Health Survey of India (2016), the largest exercise to count the numbers of those affected by mental disorders, reported that one of every ten adults experiences a clinically significant condition. Nearly 90% of these people have received no care at all in the past years.

Forced to sign blank paper, cops detain, "falsely implicate" video volunteer, others: Bhopal health workers' rally

Counterview Desk
Seeking urgent help from concerned citizens, Video Volunteers (VV), a well-known human rights NGO that promotes community media to enable citizen participation in marginalized and poor communities team, has said that one its workers and her friends, who had gone to a community health workers protest rally in Bhopal, were maltreated and falsely implicated by the police.
Pointing out that the "troubling case" is still unfolding, VV's programme manager, networking and advocacy, Amrita Sunita Anand has sought "legal advice and support" by contacting on info@videovolunteers.org.
Text of VV's appeal: On October 2, 2018, more than 2500 ASHA and USHA (community health) workers from 17 districts reached the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister's doorstep in Bhopal to bring to his notice their long standing demand of their rights. The police detained hundreds of ASHA & USHA workers, drove them around Bhopal in police vans, and most were later dro…

Marginalized communities "excluded" from World Bank Inspection Panel review, complains India's civil society

Counterview Desk
Senior civil society activists, including Medha Patkar, Bharat Patel and Nityanand Jayaraman, have criticised the Working Group of the World Bank Board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE), entrusted to “review of the Inspection Panel’s Toolkit to determine whether it should be revised to enhance the Panel’s effectiveness”, saying, its design would exclude marginalizes communities.

Raise percentage of reservation in promotion for SCs and STs to 16.6% and 8.6%: Ex-secretary, Govt of India

Counterview Desk
PS Krishnan, former secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Welfare, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has argued that there is an urgent need for Constitutional amendments following the Supreme Court judgment on September 26, 2018, which said that the reservation of Dalits and Adivasis in job promotions is not compulsory. The letter, distributed through Dalit Media Watch, cites media reports to say that the government appears reluctant to go ahead with the amendments.

Violence is permeating into key areas of Indian society, as is evident from authorities' actions and attitudes

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
We live in violent times! Society today is becoming more and more violent. This violence is augmented by the fact that those who are in power bless this violence and are even directly involved in it. The perpetrators of heinous deeds shroud themselves in cloaks of immunity and impunity. In a so-called civilized and modern world, violence has become the new normal, with an aura of sanctity and legitimacy. Facing the scourge of this violence are ordinary citizens: the poor, the marginalized, the excluded and other vulnerable people.

UP encounters: Not only people are being killed with impunity, killings are being glorified, supported by authorities

By Sheshu Babu*
In Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Odisha or North Eastern states encounters are common, but in Utter Pradesh, the UP government and its police have taken a step further by allowing to 'film' of an encounter live. A few journalists were asked by cops if they were interested in 'watching and filming a real encounter' in Machua village under Harduagunj police station limits.

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Minimum Support Price satyagraha to start on Oct 8: NAPM completes Gujarat yatra to "save" constitution

By Our Representative
Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), which began the nationwide Samvidhan Samman Yatra on Gandhi Jayanti from Dandi, against “increased mob violence, hate crimes, casteist attacks, natural resource loot, and consistent attack on constitutional values”, completed its Gujarat leg on Thursday in Ahmedabad, announcing that it would launch a parallel Minimum Support Price (MSP) Satyagraha from October 8 to 12, 2018.

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Only Gandhi "engaged" with untouchability, not Tagore, Nehru, Patel, Aurobindo or Jinnah: Senior expert

By Our Representative
Senior Gandhi expert Tridip Suhrud feels that “among the many things we have chosen to forget about Gandhi is his lifelong work with leather and his desire to shod every feet with leather chappals.” Recalling that this “attraction” and “fondness” for leather began South Africa, he regrets, instead, “we would prefer Gandhi the spinner of fine, ‘pure’ yarn.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

44% of those employed in organized manufacturing are on contract, leading to slow 1.7% per annum wage rise

By Our Representative
Even as claiming that between 2000 and 2015, real wages in India grew in every sector, including in agriculture and in unorganised manufacturing and services, at the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 3 per cent, a recent study finds a variation across sectors: Thus, from 2010 to 2015, real wages grew faster, at a CAGR of 4 per cent for unorganised manufacturing, 5 per cent for unorganised services, and 7 per cent for agriculture.