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Showing posts from December, 2018

Greenpeace warns Govt of India: Stage is set for a bout between an ant and an elephant

Counterview Desk
Well-known environmental NGO Greenpeace India, which faced Government of India ire for opposing corporate houses allegedly polluting the atmosphere and “looting” natural resources, has said that “shut-up or shut-down” is the “new law of the land” in India. In a scathing commentary, Rahul Prasad, a Greenpeace communications campaigner, believes, though Greenpeace’s bank accounts were frozen in October 2018, blocking donations of thousands of environmentally conscious Indian citizens, the clampdown on the NGO would only boomerang.
Already, Prasad says, the Karnataka High Court order has allowed the organization to access its funds on furnishing a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakhs, directing the ED to expedite the investigation. Meanwhile, he adds, the Enforcement Directorate of the Government of India has begun to drag its feet over the investigations, forcing the organization “to resort to a massive downsizing and restructuring exercise due to paucity of funds.”
However, s…

Not an accidental PM: Dr Singh was actually part of the ruling political dispensation

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The propaganda machinery of the Sangh Parivar is on full swing. One is now being forced to consume loads of information about 'Accidental Prime Minister', and both the government and BJP's social media cell are on an overdrive to promote it. Let me clarify: This is not meant to defend Dr Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi or Narendra Modi, but to point towards issues of accountability and responsibilities of elected representatives.

Ghalib’s Delhi mansion, engulfed in darkness for 364 days, "remembered" on his birthday

By Our Representative
It is indeed lamentable that in this age of communication boom and the onslaught of self-centricity, people appear to have forgotten Mirza Ghalib, about whom, once well-known English novelist Graham Greene wrote that he happens to be the best poet in all languages in terms of thought content. His three-day 221st birth anniversary, “Yadgar-e-Ghalib”, was celebrated in Delhi by Ghalib Memorial Movement under the patronage of renowned Kathak dancer Uma Sharma and other eminent citizens, ending with candle light march on December 30 in Delhi.

Attempt to curb minorities, Dalits may further escalate tension: Lesson from 2018

By Sheshu Babu*
As the New Year draws closer, there is an increase of tensions on caste and communal lines. The Naseeruddin Shah affair has not yet subsided, and another instance of repression took place in Mumbai. The dashing dalit leader Chandrasekhar Azad 'Ravan', who was invited to address a rally on December 29, wanted to use the opportunity to visit Dr BR Ambedkar Memorial in Mumbai at Chaitanya Bhoomi.

Neo-blacks of Bharat? What happens when "libtard sickular" happens to be a Muslim

By Liaquath Mirza*
So, we have veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah in the news again. No, it's not in connection with any of his movie projects or even his personal life. He is in the news because he wronged the "right" with his 'intolerant' uttering on intolerance.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Govt of India must stop criminalization of traditional Hijra livelihoods: NAPM

Counterview Desk
India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), in a statement signed by senior social activists* led by Medha Patkar, have demanded thst Parliament must "urgently review" two legislations on transgender person's rights and anti-trafficking.

"Politics" of rural votebank: Farmers 60% of India's population, account for 15% suicides

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The suicide of an indebted farmer has now become a nauseating stage drama by politicians and journalists of all hues. They see votes, viewerships and readerships in farmer suicides. Few of them seem to understand the reality that has overtaken farming in India. Though almost 60% of the population is still dependent on it, agriculture’s share of the Gross Domestic Product has declined to just 13% and is falling fast. Very simply, it means that farming only ensures greater relative poverty.

India's gender wage gap "highest" in world, but financial divide now "narrowing"

By Moin Qazi*
Men and women should own the world as a mutual possession. -- Pearl S Buck
Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality. India continues to fare badly in gender parity and that is bad news because leaving half the population behind would.

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Most statutory bodies "fail" to react to security forces occupying Jharkhand tribal schools

Counterview Desk
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), a well-known women's rights organization, has taken strong exception to nine schools and two panchayat bhawans in Khunti, Murhu, Arki, Badgaon villages of Khunti and Chaibasa districts of Jharkhand being "continuously occupied by security forces since June 2018."

To Mao, people's health was prerequisite for class struggle to "neutralise" the right

By Sheshu Babu*
Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893 - September 9, 1976) has been criticized for his policies, particularly by western media and writers. However, there is also the view that his philosophy contains human values, too, which are valuable to people. One of the most cited quotation by Mao in this context is his speech at Peking in 1957, where he said, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the science and a flourishing socialist culture in the land" (www.phrases.org.uk).

"Failure" to fill up Central Information Commission posts: Activists protest in Delhi

By Our Representative
Hundreds of activists on Wednesday protested outside the Central Information Commission (CIC) Bhawan in Munirka, New Delhi, against the non-appointment of information commissioners against the failure of the Government of India to fill up eight vacant posts of information commissioners, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner, out of the total strenght of 11. The previous Chief Information Commissioner, RK Mathur, retired on November 24, 2018 and since then the CIC is without a chief.

Sandwiched between electoral "betrayal", anti-India thrust, Kashmiris lurch for change

By Raqif Makhdoomi*
The conflict in Kashmir has reached a point where any new prospect offered to people makes many of them confused. The reason is that they have witnessed many ups and downs since the beginning that it has become hard for them to trust in any new idea. They have been subjected to so many changes -- be they elections or anti-India direction. If elections got them betrayal, anti-India thrust led to the spillage of blood of innocents.

Noteban: Harvard, Goldman Sachs scholars bemoan lack of "authentic" growth data

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp observation, scholars of a recent high-profile study, "Cash and the Economy: Evidence from India's Demonetization", whose results have been widely reported, have bemoaned: That there is lack of authentic official data on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the Government of India, forcing them to use “nightlights data”, a methodology usually adopted by top international scholars to assess socio-economic growth in highly underdeveloped countries of East Africa and parts of Asia, where no authentic ground level surveys are available to assess development.

Demand to take legal action against Vadodara industries discharging untreated waste

Counterview Desk
Gujarat's senior environmentalists, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, in a letter addressed to the Union environment and forests secretary, with copies to senior office bearers of the Central Pollution Control Board and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the Gujarat chief secretary, and other Government of India and Gujarat government officials, have demanded that a chemical emergency should be declared in the industrial cluster of Vadodara district.

Reports prepared under UPA to provide land to Dalit, Adivasi tillers "put on backburner"

By PS Krishnan*
A national centrally-funded programme of universal agricultural land distribution to all rural scheduled caste (SC) or Dalit families, and also all rural scheduled (ST) or Adivasi and non-SC-non-ST landless agricultural labour families – and along with them, to all rural landless and poor agricultural labour families – would fulfill the promise of “land to the tiller” of the pre-Independence nationalist movement for Independence.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Bulandshahr: 82 ex-officers seek Allahabad HC intervention, Yogi resignation

Counterview Desk Even as demanding Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's resignation for acting as "a high priest of the agenda of bigotry and majoritarian supremacy" following the murder of inspector Subodh Singh in Bulandshahr on December 3, allegedly instigated and engineered by cow vigilantes, 82 retired civil servants in a statement have said, the state's bureaucracy under the Chief Secretary and the top police administration should abide by their "constitutional duty to fearlessly implement the rule of law rather than the perverse dictates of their political masters."

Nasiruddeen Shah "mustn't" stop speaking: Silence in these times would be "criminal"

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
What Naseeruddin Shah said the other day was the reflection of the fear humanists and secularists have in all those societies which are today polarising on religious identities. It is easier to get around that and cry. The cinema in India has remained a vehicle for the Brahmanical hegemony over culture till date, with its leading lights behaving spinelessly before the power-that-be, even as getting benefits from it.

"Nothing" has changed 50 yrs on after 44 Dalits were charred to death in Tamil Nadu

By Qurban Ali
Fifty years ago 44 Dalits, mostly women and children belonging to the agricultural families, were charred to death by landlords. This massacre took place on the Christmas night of 1968, an inconspicuous hamlet Keezhvenmani (also known as Kilvenmani), now in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Women farmers' "articulation" on land, debt, suicides at massive farmers' rally in Delhi

By Ashalatha, Usha Seethalakshmi, Seema Kulkarni*
The recent kisan rally, held on November 29-30 at Delhi, saw sizable number of women representing various organizations, and also various sections such as women cultivators, who owned land in their name and who farm on their family land, tenant farmers, landless agriculture labourers, adivasi women, wives and daughters of farmers who have committed suicide etc.

Congress' electoral "success": BJP is hardly expected to be sitting on its haunches

By Anand K Sahay*
Suddenly, the expectation has been given birth in the minds of the people -- not just the political class -- that a credible challenge to the Modi-Shah BJP has sprouted. There is a sense of loosening up in the country, a feeling of normal breathing, a dispelling of the suffocation produced by overt and persistent majoritarian actions of Sangh parivar elements generated through their foul and violent methods which appeared to enjoy the indulgence of those who matter.

Himachal tribals' forest rights "rejected" despite assurance in state assembly

Counterview Desk
In what is being interpreted as a "clear example" of how the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, is being flouted despite political assurances, official members of a district level committee under FRA have rejected claims of tribals of Lippa Village, Himachal Pradesh.

Plan to hand over top Ahmedabad hospital to private group a BJP-led "misadventure"

Counterview Desk
Board members of the Vadilal Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals, Ahmedabad, Rupa Chinai, Brijesh Chinai, Jay Sheth and Dr Nishith Shah, who represent the original donor families, have denied reports appearing in the Ahmedabad media of December 17-18, quoting the VSH Board Chairperson and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Commissioner, who reportedly claim that we have “amicably” agreed to reduce the beds in the VSH to 500 from the original 1,160.
“If indeed they said this, then it is a deliberate and gross misinterpretation of facts and truth. The AMC Commissioner and Board Chairperson then stand accused of abusing the dignity of their office in their determined effort to get their way. In order to cover up for their outrageous behavior, they have sought to then issue a Caveat to us, preventing us from obtaining a restraining Court order”, they said in a statement.
Text of the statement: At the VSH Board meeting on December 14, Friday, the Chairper…

Fading Hindutva? Changing times "impact" vulnerable participants in Gujarat riots

By Rajiv Shah
Has unease finally begun creeping into the majoritarian psyche, which got swayed under the powerful Hindutva wave that followed the 2002 Gujarat riots? It would seem so, if journalist and film-maker Revati Laul’s just released book, “The Anatomy of Hate”, is any indication. The book does not say so in so many words, yet suggests that disconcerting traits for the Sangh Parivar have even sneaked into those who directly or indirectly participated in the violence which engulfed the state 16 years ago.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Why's DAE dragging feet on Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority?

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former Union Power Secretary, replies to the rejoinder by Dr KS Parthasarathy, former secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), to his letter addressed to the secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India, where he had talked of "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities":

Kaiga NPP extension: Overall "futility" of talking about relevance of nuclear power

By Shankar Sharma*
This has reference to the article in Counterview "Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily" by KS Parthasarathy.
Three recent documents/ discussions** -- a written submission presented at the public hearing as per Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) rules 2006 held on December 15, 2018, an address to the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, and a high level analysis of the proposal by the Union government to add 12 additional nuclear power reactors in the country from the general perspective as applicable to Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) -- sum up the relevant merits to the people of this country in the arguments of KS Parthasarathy.

45 hunger-related deaths in a year "reflect" distress across India: Aadhaar "main" reason

Counterview Desk
A protest took place at Krishi Bhawan, New Delhi, against "lack of government action on constant hunger deaths and hunger across the country" following which a delegation -- led by Aysha, Secretariat Coordinator, Right to Food Campaign, RTFC and her colleague Siraj -- met officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and discussed the situation of hunger in different states.

Mahul residents refuse to return to Mumbai's "toxic hell", spend night on railway station

Counterview Desk
Even as Mahul residents of Mumbai slept without shelter on a cold windy night on the 51st day of protest against the highly polluted Mahul, where they were allegedly dumped on being uprooted because of a pipeline project, the city's civil rights organ, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), which is leading the protest, claimed, the residents have declared they will not leave the Azad Maidan untill the government implements the High Court’s order to rehabilitate them at a safe place.

India's 90% schools not complying with Right to Education Act, alleges RTE Forum

By Mitra Ranjan*
The Right to Education (RTE) Forum (RTE), along with Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and the Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development, has launched a nationwide campaign on right to education (RTE -- from pre-primary to higher secondary) and abolition of child labour. Addressing media at the Press Club of India, New Delhi, Dr Sayeeda Hamid, former member of Planning Commission of India and Padma Shree, an RTE manifesto, collaboratively developed by the three networks, was also released.

Gujarat advocates' "rare upsurge" against controversial transfer of a top judge

By RK Misra*
In a rare show of solidarity over the transfer of Justice Akil Kureshi to Bombay High Court, the Bar in the Western India state of Gujarat went on strike and relented only after a meeting with Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. Rarely has the transfer of a High Court judge created the sort of upsurge in the legal fraternity in Gujarat as was witnessed when Justice Akil Kureshi was moved to Bombay. The Bar struck work, and in one voice urged the apex court to reconsider it’s decision.

Mumbai's "toxic hell" took life of 20 people since Aug 2018: Memorandum to CM

Counterview Desk
Seeking “urgent” and “immediate” relocation of residents rehabilitated in toxically polluted Mahul, Mumbai’s civil rights organization, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), a memorandum* to Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, has claimed that as many as 20 people have died since August 2018 as a result of the health hazard resulting from the extremely high level of environmental pollution in the area, where 5,500 families were dumped in flats for rehabilitation.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Subverting Gandhi's non-violence, Modi govt "beating" all records of atrocities on minorities

By Syed Mujtaba*
Gandhi’s vision of ideal society was that of a non-violent and democratic social order, in which there would be a just balance between individual freedom and social responsibility. He had a very high regard for ideals in human life. Without ideals, he said, life could have no meaning because there would be no goals towards which human endeavour could be directed.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

GoI, state govts "stifling" RTI Act: Apex court wants vacant posts filled up transparently

By Our Representative
Taking serious note of “lack” of transparency, the Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices AK Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and R Subhash Reddy, has directed the Government of India (GoI) to immediately ensure that information related to the selection of information commissioners, including the chief information commissioner, pending for quite some time, is uploaded on its website.

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

Why is Supreme Court "failing" to decide on anti-Sikh genocide, Gujarat massacre?

By Mike Ghouse* 
Is the Indian judiciary accountable? The people of India have never questioned the authority of India's judiciary. Indeed, they are the only branch of government, who have not been examined for their role in upholding the constitution and the rule of law. It is time one questions their lackadaisical attitude towards growing lawlessness in the nation and hold them accountable for their action.

Government of India “ensnares” itself in Northeast, Jammu & Kashmir

By Sandeep Pandey*
First the Bhartiya Janata Party-led government in Delhi was very enthusiastic about conducting the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam on the premise that this process will identify all the illegal migrants from Bangladesh who entered Assam after March 24, 1971, the date of creation on Bangladesh, who could then be sent back to Bangladesh. The assumption was that most of these illegal immigrants would be Muslims.

Mumbai toxic hell residents being "punished": State govt "erasing" protesters from voter list

Counterview Desk
Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), Mumbai-based civil rights organization, has alleged that the Maharashtra government is "erasing" names of protesters of Mumbai's toxic hell, Mahul, from the voters' list. Forcibly shifted to Mahul, their protests have entered 43rd day.

Came to power on anti-corruption plank, BJP is now "undermining" transparency laws

Counterview Desk
On December 12, hundreds of people protested against the proposed amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Delhi, demanding operationalisation of anti-corruption laws. People raised the slogan "RTI nahi toh vote nahi!", even as opposition party leaders, participating in the protest, pledged support to defeat RTI amendments.

History less known: "Identified" with Babri, Babar actually loved gardens, nature

By Nandini Oza*
Recently, I came across an article in the "Financial Times" titled “Seeds of a greener Kabul”, by Robin Lane Fox. Published on February 6, 2016, the following lines in the article drew my attention “...In Kabul the recently restored garden of Babur, the Bage [Garden] Babur, has just attracted its three millionth visitor since its restoration in 2008...Babur, the garden’s founder was a remarkable person, the most prolific garden king in history...”

Sardar made up his mind on Pakistan in Dec 1946 "before" Mountbatten's Partition Plan

By Hari Desai*
One has to be extra cautious while dealing with the history of towering personalities of the Indian freedom struggle, especially that of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 - December 15, 1950). Present-day politicians prefer to "pronounce” on his life and quote him according to their convenience like a blind person describing an elephant.

Amidst privatisation move corruption scandal "rocks" Ahmedabad's top public hospital

Counterview Desk
Four independent board members of the Vadilal Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals, Ahmedabad's top public health care facilities catering to the needs of the poor for decades, have taken strong objection to the failure of the city authorities to cope corruption scandals rocking them.