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Showing posts from November, 2018

Declare chemical emergency in Gujarat's vegetable basket: Environmentalists demand

By Our Representative
In a letter two senior environmentalists of Gujarat, Rohit Prajapati and Krishna Kant, have asked above a dozen senior Government of India and Government of Gujarat officials, to declare chemical emergency in the Vadodara district, pointing out that the Effluent Channel Project (ECP) of Vadodara, which is in force along 24 villages' prime agricultural land, known as the Vegetable Basket of Gujarat, is polluting land next to the 55.6 km long effluent channel.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Two more "aadhaar-linked" Jharkhand deaths: 17 die of starvation since Sept 2017

Counterview Desk
A fact-finding team of the Right to Feed Campaign, pointing towards the death of two more persons due to starvation in Jharkhand, has said that this has happened because of the absence of aadhaar, leading to “persistent lack of food at home and unavailability of any means of earning.” It has disputed the state government claims that these deaths are due to reasons other than starvation, adding, the authorities have “done nothing” to reduce the alarming state of food insecurity in the state.

Haren Pandya murder: Big guns free; lower rank officers, constabulary face music

By RK Misra*
Ghosts from the past have an uncanny way of turning up in the present with immense potential to blight the future of the most powerful. On November 3, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case told a Mumbai court that the murder of senior BJP leader and a former Gujarat minister Haren Pandya in 2003 was a contract killing executed at the behest of former IPS officer DG Vanzara.

Smartness, brilliance, humbleness are all caste traits, say top Indian varsity students

Counterview Desk
A research paper by two research scholars with the Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA, Gaurav J Pathania and William G Tierney, based on campus interviews with students of a high-profile educational institute, suggests how deep caste prejudices and discrimination are rooted among the educated youth.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Gujarat's budgetary outlay, expenditure "never" in proportion to SC population

By Mahender Jethmalani*
In order to ensure direct “policy-driven” benefits for Scheduled Castes (SCs) through specific interventions, the Planning Commission during the 1970s introduced plan strategies known as Special Component Plan (SCP). The main objective of SCP was to channelize plan funds for the development of SCs in accordance with the proportion of SC population.

Vedanta is out but corporate loot continues in Odisha: Local activists tell NAPM yatra

By Our Representative
Lok Shakti Abhiyan leader Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental (also known as Green Nobel) Prize in 2017, has regretted that though Sundergarh in Odisha, like other forest areas, is a fifth schedule area, where Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) is applicable, but these laws are being “outrightly violated to facilitate corporate loot.”

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

"Larger conspiracy" on build up to 2002 Gujarat riots: SC to hear "fresh" evidence

Counterview Desk
The Special Leave Petition (SLP) of Zakia Jafri -- widow of late Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed on February 28, 2002, the day on which Gujarat riots killing more than 1000 persons began -- has been placed for hearing in the Supreme Court on Monday, November 19. SLP challenges the order of the Gujarat High Court (dated October 5, 2017) dismissing her challenge to Magistrate Ganatra’s Order (dated December 26, 2013) and confirming the Closure Report of the SIT (dated December 8, 2012).

Buddhist Ayodhya? Ayuththya's ruins in Thailand "show" rich civilizational linkage

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Many of us have the firm belief that Ayodhya, for which the Brahminical Hindus have been shouting loud to develop into a Holy place of Hindus, actually belong to Buddhists. My dear friend Vinit Maurya is now a party in the Ayodhya case seeking to hand over the entire land to Buddhists and asking the government to release the details of the digging happened there.

Social workers, architects, students, historians, common people come together, protest "politics" of renaming Ahmedabad

By Nandini Oza*
No sooner did the BJP leaders of Gujarat announce the intention of changing the name of Ahmedabad to Karnavati just before Diwali, on November 7, 2018, many people’s mood changed from festivity to heated debate and furor across the state. For many of us, an online petition, initiated by Bandish Soparkar, on change.org protesting name change came to immediate rescue.

Assam’s detention camps for foreigners: Where hope "fades", time "stands still"

Counterview Desk
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), in a detailed note, has likened Assam’s detention camps, created in Assam to lodge “declared” foreigners, with “purgatory”, which, in Catholic theology, is an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first "undergo purification”.

A Gandhi-made nationalist, Sardar Patel survives as "maker" of majority Hindu India

By Nilesh Jain*
“It would perhaps not be unfair to say that Vallabhai Patel was the founder of Indian Partition" – Maulana Azad (‘India Wins Freedom’, 1988, page 198)
Whenever we talk about the partition of India, we almost always end-up discussing the man who broke up India. And, the discussion almost always leads to the conclusion that, it was Jinnah, if Indians are discussing, and it was Gandhi, Nehru or Patel, it’s happening in Pakistan. The inherently biased results are the products of Indian nationalism, and/or Pakistani nationalism.

Forced displacement, starvation deaths, industrial pollution "rampant" in Jharkhand

By Our Representative
After successfully completing two-phases, traversing through 11 states, top civil rights network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Samman Yatra began its third phase this week from Jharkhand. Travelling through Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, it will culminate in Delhi on December 10, International Human Rights Day.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Protesting Mumbai “toxic hell” residents form 3-km human chain, minister agrees to meet

By Our Representative
Hundreds of residents of Mumbai’s highly-polluted Mahul area gathered on Sunday, on the 15th day of their protest, to form a human chain in order to capture the attention of the Maharashtra government towards the plight of over 30,000 citizens, who were “rehabilitated” here last year. The three kilometres long human chain saw the participation of people from other slums in Mumbai, students of the Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, representatives from several civil rights organizations, NGOs and individuals.

Unemployment rate 6.9%: Industry admits, retaining employees becoming tough

By Mahesh Trivedi*
India may be the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but the link between growth and job creation is clearly weakening. According to expert estimates, the current growth rate of 7% is only leading to just 1% improvement in employment. Indeed, the view has gone strong, if the Government of India (GoI) fails to create opportunities for the young workforce hunting for decent jobs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election dream may be smashed to smithereens and the economy’s current pace of expansion would be stonewalled.

Saints dying for Ganga's sake keep piling up: Modi's Achilles heel in 2019 polls?

By Sandeep Pandey*
Former Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, professor, Guru Das Agrawal, who became an ascetic in 2011 at the age of 79 years and came to be known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, died on October 11, 2018 on the 112th day of his fast, demanding a law for conservation of river Ganga, at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh.

"Fudging" data and "misinterpreting" them are now part of Modi's and Jaitley's nature

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The tale of King Canute holds a salutary lesson to our Prime Minister. Canute set his throne by the seashore and commanded the incoming tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes. Yet continuing to rise as usual the tide dashed over his feet and legs without respect to his royal person. Then the king leapt backwards, saying: 'Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.'

"False" charges may be levelled against Adivasi-Dalit rights leader: Top Dublin-based NGO

Counterview Desk
Front Line Defenders (FLD), a Dublin (Ireland)-based UN award winning advocacy group, which works with the specific aim of "protecting" human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has expressed the apprehension that cops may bring in "false charges" against Degree Prasad Chouhan, convenor, Adivasi Dalit Majdoor Kisan Sangharsh, which operates from Chhattisgarh.

Statue of Unity? Dedicating it to nation, Modi "subtracted" all that Sardar Patel stood for

By RK Misra*
The 182 metre tall Statue of Unity built on the Narmada river at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore facing the sprawling 1210 metre long sardar Sarovar dam, in Gujarat has been billed as the tallest in the world, surpassing China’s spring temple Buddha. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dwelt at length on the legendary vision of the first deputy Prime Minister, who had unified the country and appealed to countrymen to remain united against divisive forces.

Recalling Kristallnacht: When will our rulers learn India is about diversity, harmony?

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
It is exactly eighty years since that infamous night of November 9-10, 1938. The world will never ever forget that night known as the ‘Reichspogromnacht’ or by a seemingly more pleasant sounding ‘Kristallnacht’ (crystal night), which ironically refers to the litter of broken glass strewn on the streets after the pogrom. The Nazis and their henchmen were on the onslaught as they attacked Jews and destroyed their property in a night of bloody violence and terror, across Germany and Austria.

Media houses told to reject Sabarimala Karma Samithi "misogyny" in deploying journos

Counterview Desk
The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI), strongly reacting to the Sabarimala Karma Samithi -- which wrote to editor’s news media owners, asking them to refrain from deputing women of certain age groups from reporting on Sabarimala on November 5, when a special puja was to take place -- has said that all media houses should refuse to entertain such "misogyny" and to "deploy the best journalist for the job, not limiting the choice to men.”

Peaceful protests: UP police’s behaviour "unlawful, violent", NHRC told to act

Counterview Desk 
In a representation to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice HL Dattu, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a well-known human rights organization, has said that the right to protest peacefully, enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, is being eroded across the country, citing several instances where the police are cracking down on those demanding action or raising awareness about legitimate issues.

Sabarimala: Civil servants ask SC to take legal action against BJP chief's "blatant" contempt

Counterview Desk
As many as 50 retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers have reportedly written to the Election Commission, Supreme Court, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind, seeking action against BJP chief Amit Shah for his speech in Kannur, Kerala, on October 27, he where extended support to those who had been protesting women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple despite the Supreme Court.

Women farmers' suicides in India are under-reported, "conveniently" manipulated

Counterview Desk
A factsheet on women from farm suicide affected households, prepared by Seema Kulkarni of the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAM), a civil rights advocacy group, has said that more than three lakh women farmers in India have been left to fend themselves after their husbands committed in avout two decades time years since mid-1990s. Their situation becomes even more vulnerable as they are not recognized as farmers but merely as housewives.
MAKAM note on women farmers' suicide: As per official data of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 332,798 farm suicides have taken place in India between 1995 and 2016, with 94% of these being of men. 19,968 female farmer suicides have been counted into this reporting. This means that 312,830 women in these households have been suddenly left to fend for themselves, and manage the home and the farm. These official numbers are of course quite under-reported and conveniently-manipulated, compared to what might be the real situatio…

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

At 33%, India's gender gap in mobile phone usage is fourth highest in world

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released Harvard Kennedy School study has estimated that, today in India, 71% of men use mobile phones, as against 38% of women, pointing out that India, along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, are “clear outliers among countries of similar levels of development”, exhibiting “some of the world’s highest gender gaps in access to technology.”

10 Indian workers die in Gulf nations per day, for each $1 billion remitted 117 deaths occur

By Our Representative
A recent Right to Information (RTI) intervention and research of proceedings in Parliament has revealed that between 2012 and mid-2018 more than 24,570 Indian workers died in in six Gulf countries, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This works out to an average of more than 10 deaths per day.

Mumbai's "dangerous" rehab site: There isn't even an evacuation road should any untoward accident occur

By Gajanan Khergamker*
On October 28, 2018, around 200 Project Affected People (PAPs) staged an indefinite sit-in in front of Gate No 2 of Somaiya College in Vidyavihar, their original location, from where they were shifted to Mahul. An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Mumbai inception report on the issue only validates their fears. And, this time around, they are firm, they're just not going back to the hell that risks engulfing their very existence.

Facing 2019 elections, Muslim community's puzzle: Collective vote casting for a "secure" future

By Dr Syed Mohammad Raghib*
A week ago, an eight-year-old madrasa student Mohammad Azeem became the most recent victim of hate crime in Malaviya Nagar, South Delhi. Clearly, the hate culture continues to take new shapes. The lynching mayhem, continuing for the last four-and-a-half years in the name of ‘cow protection’, began with the murder of Akhlaque, and followed with the killing of Pahlu Khan, Junaid, Alimuddin, and Tauheed Ansari.

A weak left and other reasons for right wing forces' "victory" in Brazil, other countries

By Sheshu Babu*
With the far right victory in Brazil, many analysts are predicting domination of right-wing ideology in the coming years. This may sound true, as elections in many countries reflect this, but deeper analysis might reveal the actual state of affairs.

"Neglected" modernization of madrasas: Apex court issues notice to MHRD, 18 states

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Rohington Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, in a landmark order, on November 2, took serious note while hearing a petition by a madrasa teacher on not releasing the grant for the beleaguered madarasas registered under SPQEM (Special Project for Quality Education to Madrasas). The bench issued notices to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the principal secretaries of 18 states, asking them to forthwith file replies in connection with defying the order of givings salaries to the madrasa teachers.

"Apathy" towards open defecation in newly developed areas of Gujarat's state capital

By Kevin Antao*
Barely seven kilometres from Gujarat’s seat of power, the new Sachivalaya complex, open defecation is a reality. A newly developed area fast becoming part of the state capital, Sargasan, and part of the Gandhinagar urban development area, has proved to be a mockery of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM), one of whose major thrusts has to free India of this despicable practice.

Tata Mundra lawsuit: US SC hears arguments against World Bank funders' total immunity

Counterview Desk
Earth Rights International (ERI), a US-based non-governmental, nonprofit organization, specializing in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns, with offices in Southeast Asia, the United States and Peru, is involved in fighting a crucial lawsuit that will determine whether international organizations, like the World Bank Group, are absolutely immune from lawsuits in the United States.

J&K's Jamaat-e-Islami "misleading" educated youth into militancy, regrets Islamic site

By Our Representative
A top Islamic site, claiming to map agenda for the 21st century, has taken strong exception to the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (JIJ&K), a cadre-based religio-political organisation in J&K, likening Indian administration as “Pharaoh’s era” in Kashmir. Distinct from the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, JIJ&K in a statement said: “Indian forces have devised a sinister plan of genocide of Kashmiri youth on the same pattern the Pharaoh of Egypt had once ordered to kill the male infants of Bani-Israel in Egypt.”

India's changed poverty estimates "temper confidence", would reclassify 50 million from poor to not poor

By Rajiv Shah
While the Indian authorities are basking in happiness over the World Bank, in a recent report, showing that India has jumped 23 places to the 77th position in ‘ease of doing business’, another Bank report, “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle”, released last month, has found “important measurement issues” that “temper confidence” in India’s poverty estimates.

'Don't have solution to rehabilitate 30,000 "living" in Mumbai's toxic hell, Mahul'

By Our Representative
The impression has gone strong: The Government of Maharashtra’s housing minister has "denied" 30,000 lives’ freedom from the #Mumbai's toxic hell, Mahul. Talking with the residents of Mahul, Prakash Mehta, Maharashtra’s Cabinet minister for housing, declared, “I don’t have a solution for the rehabilitation of Mahul residents; the ‘government’ will take care of it.”

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”

Impunity shrouds murder of 14 Indian journalists since 2010: Free Speech Tracker

Counterview Desk
The Free Speech Collective, an initiative of journalists, activists and lawyers of India to protect the right to freedom of expression and “vigorously promote free speech and the right to dissent”, in its Free Speech Impunity Indicator, has tracked the status of investigation in the murder of journalists in India, and found that only in one of 14 cases since 2010 there has been some movement towards delivering justice.

"Coercive" land acquisition on in Andhra Pradesh to build Singapore-type state capital

By Our Representative
Civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Dandi-to-Delhi Samvidhan Samman Yatra, currently in its second phase, reached the Amravati region, the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh, where it was told that the whole vision of making a capital city by chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has “devastated the agriculture in more than 29 villages in the name of development.”

Ram Mandir issue has potential of causing holocaust similar to 1984 anti-Sikh riots

By Shantanu Basu*
October 31 was the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi. On this day at 1300 hours I was at Hazrat Nizamuddin Station boarding a special coach attached to the Utkal Express to Jhansi, en route to Lalitpur, an offshoot of Jhansi district. This was for our village visit from LBSNAA, Mussoorie. Crowds had started gathering in the streets of Delhi as the news of the PM's assassination spread like wildfire.