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Showing posts from January, 2019

Indian tycoons' profits "double", share of cultivators' income down from 25% to 15%

Counterview Desk
Oxfam India’s recent “India Inequality Report 2018: Widening Gaps”, among other things, points towards how lurking gaps exist not just between the rich and the poor, but also between organized sector workers and unorganized sector workers. Authored by Himanshu, Associate Professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, the report states that the situation is particularly pathetic, as 93% workers come from the informal sector.

Govt of India "not serious" about old age pension, maternity benefit: Economists

Counterview Desk
Sixty eminent economists have written to the Union finance minister an “urgent and modest proposal” seeking to increase the Central contribution to social security pensions from the current measly Rs 200 per month to Rs 500 per month, and providing for maternity entitlements of Rs 6,000 per child as prescribed by the National Food Security Act.

Share of wealth held by top 1% in India is only second to the United States: Oxfam study

Counterview Desk
Basing its analysis on top rating agency Credit Suisse's  Global Wealth Report, Oxfam India has said in a recently-released study, “India Inequality Report 2018: Widening Gaps”, seeking to debunk the view that India’s wealth inequalities are lower than other countries, suggests, the country, in fact, appears to be  competing with the United States on this score. It adds, the “richest in India have made their money through crony capitalism rather than through innovation or the fair rules of the market.”

#UrbanNaxals: Efforts on to "undermine" right to dissent that existed in ancient India

Counterview Desk
Well-known historian Romila Thapar delivered a video message at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris last year on how the Maharashtra government authorities’ effort to discredit five activists as #UrbanNaxals actually undermines the right to dissent in India. This was followed by police action against academic and public intellectual Anand Teltumbde, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, retired professor and poet Varavara Rao, human rights lawyer Arun Ferreira, activist Vernon Gonsalves, and human rights activist Gautam Navalakha,

Include promise to repeal sedition law in Congress poll manifesto: Chidambaram told

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, the advocacy group South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre’s Ravi Nair has asked senior Congress leader P Chidambaram to include the promise to repeal sedition law, Section 124-A, IPC in Congress’ election manifesto for 2019, even expecting several Congress-ruled or supported states to take “immediate” steps to repeal it through state amendments. The letter comes following Chidambaram, a former Union home minister, condemning the “malicious” charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar.
The letter regrets that the sedition law was “misused” during successive Congress governments, too, though pointing out, the present BJP government has used “in a manner that the worst authoritarian anywhere on the planet would find difficult to emulate.” Nair insists, “A formal commitment in the Congress Party manifesto will draw a line under the Congress Party’s past on this important issue.”
Text of the letter: We would like to reiterate the request that the…

NGT imbroglio: Downstream people "to approach" a non-existent Narmada Tribunal?

By Shawahiq Siddiqui*
It was a sad Republic Day for the poor and vulnerable communities in the downstream of the Narmada Basin as their plea for protecting their fundamental and legal right to water and environment covered under right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution goes unheard by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Ironically, this comes almost on the eve of Republic Day when we embark upon celebrating the adoption of the Constitution of India that champions the protection of life and liberty as cornerstones of fundamental rights.

Relevance of Kaifi Azmi's birth centenary year in times of "rising" communal tension

By Sheshu Babu*
The above poem 'Doosra Banvas' by Kaifi Azmi, written in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, reveals the contradictions of the movement that caused it, and is relevant even today. "I was born in a slave India, grew up in an Independent India and would like to die in a socialist India", was his dream. This dream remains unfulfilled as the present system of inequality is growing very rapidly.

Anti-liquor march: Women padyatris "resolve" to occupy Karnataka state assembly

By Abhay, Swarna Bhat*
At a huge public convention held at Siddaganga Mutt on the Republic Day, January 26, 2019, in the presence of Sanehalli Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, padyatris of the Madya Nishedha Andolana decided to intensify the ongoing liquor ban movement. A resolution passed at the convention, in which thousands of rural women joined in, the marching women declared that on reaching Bengaluru will “occupy Vidhan Soudha” on Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day, January 30.

Post UN support, Australian natives go ahead with suit against Adani coalmine project

Counterview Desk
The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, who consider themselves “the proud traditional owners and native title applicants of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland”, taking a cue from a letter written by senior United Nations (UN) official to Australia’s UN representative in Geneva to suspend the Adani coalmining project, has declared that it would go ahead with its Federal Court appeal against Adani’s “sham Indigenous Land Use Agreement”.

Suspend Adani coalmine project till natives are consulted: Australia's UN envoy told

Counterview Desk
Noureddine Amir, chair, United Nations Committee (UN) on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in a letter to Sally Mansfield, Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN Office, Geneva, has said that, on receiving a complaint from the indigenous people of Queensland province of Australia, it is “concerned” about their land rights, pointing out that the Adani coalmine project in Carmichael and the rail project attached with would displace them.

Screening of "Boys Who Like Girls" to mark campaign on sexual rights, gender justice

Counterview Desk
Delhi-based NGO, Restless Development, in collaboration with Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA),  and Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), has launched an advocacy campaign, Youth-led Accountability for SDG5 and FP2020, on the theme, "Engaging men for gender justice and sexual and reproductive and health rights, and understanding the need for sexual health education among college going youth”.

Silence on the part of Indian judiciary on vital aspects of human rights "abuse" is painful

By Stan Swamy*
India has vowed to be a socialist, secular, democratic republic. Sadly, all these values are steadily being eroded in the present political developments. About 20 intellectuals, professionals, activists who are working for the fundamental rights of the poor and marginalized and upholding the above mentioned constitutional values are being labeled ‘urban naxals’ and are being harassed no end either as ‘accused’ or as ‘suspects’. Their premises have been raided, their electronic devices seized, serious cases filed. Some are already in prison, others face arrest anytime.

Sedition a potent weapon with India's rulers: 179 arrests, 112 cases filed, 2 convictions

By Shahana Bhattacharya, Deepika Tandon*
The slapping of sedition charges against writer and academic Hiren Gohain, Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Kisan Mukti Sangram Samiti, and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta on January 7, 2019, and the process of filing charge-sheet in the 2016 sedition case against Jawharlal Nehru University (JNU) students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and Anirban Bhattacharya, seven Kashmiri students, Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rasool, Bashir Bhat and 38 unknown others, once again illustrate the character of the law on sedition as a potent weapon in the hands of ruling dispensations.

Now young ascetic from Kerala, Brahmachari Atmabodhanand, stakes his life for Ganga

By Sandeep Pandey*
Prof GD Agrawal, formerly of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand since 2011, died on October 11, 2018 on the 112th day of his fast, demanding a law for conservation of river Ganga, at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh. Forty-years-old Sant Gopal Das, inspired by Prof Agrawal, also sat on fast for the same cause two days after Prof Agrawal began his fast, on June 24, 2018 at Badridham temple in Badrinath, was kept in the Intensive Care Unit of AIIMS, New Delhi after being moved about to different hospitals in Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and New Delhi.

Govt of India, state govts "fail" to redress pathetic condition of 60 lakh welfare workers

By Sheshu Babu*
While major contribution to implementation of social welfare schemes is through social volunteers and anganwadis, nurses, teachers, etc., their economic and social condition remains pathetic. Their problems have not been addressed either by governments or other welfare organizations for many years.

North-East protests snowball as indigenous people feel "increasingly" threatened

By Nava Thakuria*
It was a spectacular rally in the pre-historic city of Guwahati on January 23 last that strongly opposed the Indian Union government’s latest initiative to amend the country’s citizenship Act in favour of religious asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Organized by the All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU) along with 30 indigenous groups at the historic Latashil play ground of Guwahati on the southern bank of mighty Brahmaputra, the demonstration witnessed vivid participation of thousands of people from different sections in the society.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao? 60% funds used on publicity, 88% schools don't comply with RTE

By Mitra Ranjan*
India is a country which claims to have a culture of respecting women and girls since ages. But reality on the ground is entirely different, rather grim. Presently, girls are fighting for their right to birth and survival. They are deprived of literacy and education. They are forcibly pushed for early marriage and their safety and security have gone for toss.

Conclave #NetizensForDemocracy seeks to "reclaim" internet, empower social media

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Given the significance of the subject and the urgency which it entailed – it was an event that had to happen! Netizens for Democracy held a day long conclave on ‘Social Media as a Tool’, of Indian netizens who believe in the power of social media and want to use it to bring about sustainable and positive social change. It was held on January 19, 2019 at Fr Agnel’s Campus in Bandra, Mumbai.

Modi's Ujjwala scheme "fails": 96% women find LPG unaffordable, revert to firewood

By Paulomee Mistry*, Prof Hemant Kumar Shah**
The Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is apparently deceiving poor tribal women, as domestic cooking gas cylinders are not affordable to them. Worse, Below Poverty Line (BPL) families get converted to Above Poverty Line (APL) families on getting gas connection, and their access to kerosene is stopped, forcing them revert to firewood.

Financial inclusion? Bank accounts with 80% Indian adults, 53% farmers debt-ridden

By Moin Qazi*
Financial inclusion has been recognised as a key building block which will form the foundation for achieving several of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Access to the right financial tools is a key element in overcoming the hard, everyday realities for those who live in penny economies. It can provide them an opportunity to move out of poverty or build resilience to absorb a financial shock without sinking deeper into debt.

Children enrolled in private schools up from 22 to 30% in 10 yrs, learning levels stagnate

By Our Representative
In a clear indication that the Government of India and state governments have been refusing to encourage government schools, which should be their primary responsibility in the educational sector, the latest Annual Survey of Education Report, released by high-profile NGO Pratham, has regretted that, over the last one decade, “while the productivity of the government school system has declined overall, the effectiveness of the private schools has not changed as dramatically.”

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

India's "low" caste women live 15 years less than "upper" caste counterparts: Oxfam

By Our Representative
In India, a so-called low-caste woman can expect to live almost 15 years less than a so-called upper-caste woman. Suggesting that this is an international phenomenon, a just-released Oxfam report says, Life expectancy in one of the poorest parts of London is six years less than it is in one of the capital’s richest neighbourhoods, just a few miles away. Life expectancy in the richest parts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is 79 years. In one of the poorest areas of the city it is 54 years.

How Govt of India "violated" Supreme Court ruling: Information Commission vacancies

Counterview Desk
On January 1, 2019 five vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC) were filled up -- serving Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava was appointed Chief Information Commissioner; this apart four retired civil servants were appointed Information Commissioners.

Charges against top intellectual Teltumbde "vilest" post-independence plot by state

Counterview Desk
The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), India’s top education rights organization, in a strongly-worded statement condemning the threat to arrest of Prof Anand Teltumbde, has said that the “fabricated” charge of plotting a Rajiv Gandhi-style assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi  against him by the police, acting at the behest of their BJP political bosses, insisting, “His entire academic career and corporate career of nearly four decades has been an example of integrity of the highest degree.”

Why Indian farmer needed a way out of agriculture, into manufacturing or services

By Moin Qazi*
"Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade; /A breath can make them, as a breath has made; /But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, /When once destroyed, can never be supplied". -- Oliver Goldsmith, "The Deserted Village"
Small farmers are the key to ending poverty and hunger and promoting sustainable development. In India, small and marginal farmers — those who work on less than two hectares (five acres) of land — constitute 80% of all farm households, 50% of rural households and 36% of the total of all households. Sadly, the plight of these farmers is very distressing.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

Govt of India "deliberately" undermining selection of information commissioners

Counterview Desk
Protesting against Government of India issuing a second advertisement for the appointment of four information commissioners (ICs) in the Central Information Commission (CIC), several concerned citizens*, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have said, the ad, as also the accompanying notification, suffers from the same defect which existed in the earlier one – it does not mention the salary and tenure of ICs, as specified in the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

India "ignored" UN experts' concerns on sexual violence, religious minorities, activists

Counterview Desk
US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has sharply criticized BJP rulers in India for using draconian laws to “chill” free speech, use foreign funding regulations to “target” NGOs, failing to investigate incidences of mob lynching, promoting Hindu ultra-nationalism, inability amend its “discriminatory” citizenship law that effectively keeps the Rohingya stateless.

US war in Afghanistan: Why is Pakistan getting "concerned" with its peace, security

By Syed Mujtaba*
A war extending almost two decades led by US in Afghanistan has implications for the entire region. Pakistan has been a major stakeholder in the war, and now feels it was dragged into it. Undoubtedly, it played the most significant role in in this war, for which it has also paid a price higher than any other nation involved.

Ganges: Urbanites contribute 100 times more microbial pollution than rural counterparts

By David Milledge*, Josh Bunce**
The Ganges is a lifeline for millions of people who live within its catchment as a source of water, transport and food. During the Hindu pilgrimage known as Kumbh Mela the Ganges plays host to the largest human gathering on Earth as 120m people arrive to bathe in the river over 49 days.

19 Indian human rights defenders killed in 2018, as against just 2 in Pakistan: Report

By Our Representative
A new report, “Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2018”, has noted that as many as 19 human rights defenders (HRDs) were killed across India last year, which is the sixth highest among a group of 28 countries for which it has made an assessment. The highest number of HRDs killed was in Colombia, 126, followed by Mexico 48, Philippines 39, Guatemala 26, Brazil 23, and India 19.

New York-based journalists' body seeks release of Kashmir scribe accused of militancy

Counterview Desk
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, which claims to defend the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal, has accused the authorities in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) of “falsely” implicating Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan on charges of “promoting militancy”.

BJP attempt to polarize North East on communal lines "fails" to cut ice with people

Counterview Desk
New Socialist Initiative (NSI), a collective claiming to be committed to creating a society free of economic deprivation, gender, caste, national and racial oppressions, and ecological degradation, has said that failure to introduce the “communally motivated” Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Rajya Sabha after it was hurriedly push through in the Lok Sabha suggests the ruling BJP’s “game” to communally polarize the North East has failed.

France is "dwarfing" Sweden, Israel in supplying obsolescent technology to India

By Shantanu Basu*
Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed nuclear power plant in India. If built, it would be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net generation capacity, at 9,900 MW. Construction was to have started in late 2018. At an estimate cost of Rs 1.12 lakh crore ($16 billion) spread over six units of 1650 MW each. The state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India is the implementing and operating agency.

Forward caste inequality-within "higher" than SC, ST, OBC, led to Jat, Patidar protests

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research paper, published the Paris School of Economics’ World Inequality Lab, suggests that the inequality within the forward caste (FC) group in India is the highest compared to what it is among scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes and other backward classes (OBC). The paper, authored by Nitin Kumar Bharti, points out that the inequality “within FC has increased and it is potentially one of the reasons behind uneasiness among certain FC groups in country and their demand for OBC status.”

Govt of India asked to stop extra-judicial killings, threats to UP human rights defenders

Counterview Desk 
The United Nations Human Rights Office of High Commissioner (OHCHR) has taken strong exception to “extrajudicial killings” in Uttar Pradesh, pointing out that most of those who have killed are poor Muslims. It has also expressed “serious concern” about family members of victims and human rights defenders working on the cases being “harassed, subjected to death threats from police and false criminal cases” in an attempts to “intimidate them”.

"Shameless" effort to tarnish image of Justice Sikri, who agreed to oust CBI topcop

Counterview Desk
In a scathing attack on the "Indian media", especially the high profile news portal "The Print", former Supreme Court judge Makandey Katju has said in a Facebook post  that the story of the appointment of Supreme Court judge AK Sikri to a "plum post" is nothing but "shameless" sensationalism. Calling Justice Sikri "outstanding, totally upright, extremely competent and hard working judge", Katju adds, "Yet our mostly rotten and shameless media has sought to tarnish him in mud and ruin his reputation."

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Democratic functioning, natural justice scuttled: Topcop on his removal as CBI chief

Counterview Desk
Alok Kumar Verma, a 1979 batch IPS officer of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories cadre, with over 35 years of experience in the Indian Police Service, was on Thursday shunted out as director, CBI, on Thursday evening in what has been described as an unprecedented twist of events. The development came shortly after a high-powered panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for the second time in two days to take a call on Verma’s fate.

India’s corporate honchos "must invest" in law, admit: Divisive moves hamper growth

By Gagan Sethi*
While it was good news recently that India jumped 23 points to the 77th rank (out of 185 countries ranked) in Ease of Doing Business, the World Bank’s assessment precludes a crucial factor: As it has admitted, its rankings do not “measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms or investors”.

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Maharashtra govt invokes "draconian" law to crush BEST strike, pursue privatization

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has protested against the use of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), terming the law “draconian”, against the striking workers of Mumbai’s public transport body, BEST, saying that workers and their families cannot be penalized in such an “inhuman manner”.
Expressing fear that the administration is bringing in privatization through the back door and making a vital public transport service unaffordable and unsustainable, PUCL, in a statement signed by its convener, ad-hoc committee, has demanded that the state government immediately initiate talks with BEST employees.
Text of the statement: PUCL Maharashtra expresses shock and dismay at reports that the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) administration have chosen to invoke draconian provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against striking BEST emp…

Govt of India seeks to pursue unfinished agenda of "RSS-backed" two-nation theory

Counterview Desk
Three members of Parliament, who are part of the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee that compiled the report clearing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill of 2016, have submitted their dissent notes, saying that the right to Indian citizenship cannot be religion specific or country of origin specific.

Writers in India are being told: Do as you are told, or your life and your art are not safe

Counterview Desk
Nayantara Sahgal, winner of the 1986 Sahitya Akademi Award and niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, was to deliver her inaugural speech at the 92nd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan on January 11 at Yavatmal. In a surprise move, on January 6, she was disinvited following the allegation that her speech was “anti-government”.

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Transgender bill seeks to "police, criminalize" a highly vulnerable community: PUDR

Counterview Desk
India’s well-known civil rights organization, People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), characterizing the transgender bill – currently pending before Parliament – “draconian”, has said that it “violates” transpersons’ freedom of association in intimate and personal relations by refusing to “recognize ‘families of choice’ among hijras as self-determined arrangements of care.”

Gujarat BJP rulers woo unreserved castes with a pittance: Rs 10 of 500 crore "approved"

By RK Misra*
The caste conundrum has burnt the BJP’s boat in Madhya Pradesh. Now it appears set to singe it in Gujarat, even sink it. As the saying goes, don’t play with fire, it burns. Caught in a cleft-stick following the 2015 Patidar agitation, which saw the ruling party nearly toppled from its power perch in the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, successive BJP governments in Gujarat find themselves lost in the reservation alley, sinking further every time it seeks to beat its way out.

Lack of policy concern despite 61% increase in women prisoners in India since 2001

Counterview Desk
A public hearing, to be held on January 18, 2019 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi by the All India Union of Forest Working People and Delhi Solidarity Group, has been planned on women activists allegedly falsely implicated and are languishing in jails. It will be addressed, among others, by women rights leaders, human rights lawyers, academicians and civil society activists.