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Showing posts from March, 2019

Call to make education a major issue during 2019 election campaign

Ambarish Rai of the Right to Education (RTE) Forum has called upon civil society activists to "strengthen the nationwide campaign to make education a major issue in 2019 elections". Speaking at the stocktaking conference in Patna, organized by the RTE Forum, he said, Bihar has been slow in implementing the RTE Act, even as it is refusing to allocate enough funds for education and involve communities on educational issues.
Those who participated in the conference included intellectuals, social workers, teachers, students union members, and members of school management committees from different areas of Bihar. Speakers expressed serious concern over the absence of safety and grievances redressal mechanism for girls, and lack of empowerment of the public education system.
Speakers were unanimous in their view that it is not possible to realize the dream of a developed society based on equality without strengthening public education. They said, the commercialization of education…

Increase in NREGA wages by Re 1 to Rs 17 Modi govt’s "surgical strike" on workers

Counterview Desk
The NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has, in a statement, taken strong exception to the Government of India decision to raise NREGA workers' wages by a mere Re 1 to Rs 17, calling it "anti-workers decision". The top civil rights network has demanded an increase in the NREGA wage rate to Rs 600 a day, which it says is in consonance with the Seventh Pay Commission recommendation of Rs 18,000 as the minimum monthly salary for Central government employees.

Amit Shah's choice for Gandhinagar: Will ex-CM Anandiben Patel "play" a spoiler?

By RK Misra*
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Amit Shah as a replacement for BJP veteran LK Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency for the 2019 general elections, it was more to recreate the Atal-Advani visual imagery in governance than anything else.

Delhi High Court order stays Health Ministry advisory banning e-cigarettles may be challenged

The single bench of Delhi High Court in Litjoy International v. Union of India has stayed the operation of orders issued by Custom Authority and Drug Controller for compliance with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advisory dated August 28, 2018 to ensure that e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, vape, and similar devices that enable nicotine delivery are not sold (including online sale), manufactured, imported, traded, advertised etc.
The court while hearing the petition noted that though the advisory and subsequent orders from Drug Controller and Customs say they come under the Drugs Act, it does not specifically fall under definition of drugs under the Act and furthermore there are no specific provisions of Drugs Act mentioned in the Advisory or subsequent orders, under which such a ban is imposed.
The court recorded the submissions of both sides and asked Government of India to file response within 4 weeks and stayed the compliance order issued by Customs and Drugs Department t…

"Failure" of a Modi campaign: 51% Gujarat men tobacco addicts, higher than 14 states

By Rajiv Shah
While the Gujarat government may claim to have decided to begin a “tobacco free Gujarat” campaign in 2011 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state chief minister, yet, latest available data suggest that as many as 51.4 per cent of men and seven per cent of women in the state use any form of tobacco – it can be smoking cigarettes, bidis, cigars pipes, or hookas, chewing pan masalas with or without tobacco, use of gutkha or pan masala with tobacco, or use of khaini or snuff.

Indian women paid 34% less than similarly qualified male workers for same tasks: Oxfam

Counterview Desk
Top international non-profit, Oxfam, has said, its new report "Mind the Gap -- State of Employment in India", called the second India Inequality report, has sought to approach structural inequalities in India’s vast labour market with a particular focus drawn on gender disparities.

#OurVoteOurRights yatra begins in Delhi to "adequately" address people's issues

A civil society-sponsored #OurVoteOurRights yatra has been launched in Delhi in the run-up to the 2019 general elections. It will travel across Delhi to focus attention on real issues affecting peoples’ lives. A communique issued by the organizers says, "Reforms needed to address current challenges being faced by the country like inequality, corruption and discrimination will be highlighted."
Those organizing it include Satark Nagrik Sangathan, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikaar Abhiyan, National Federation of Indian Women, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Right to Food Campaign, Basti Suraksha Manch, Kachra Kamgaar Union, Aman Biradari, Delhi Solidarity Group, Naari Ekta Shakti Sangathan, National Domestic Workers Union, Mahila Pragati Manch, and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan.
The yatra proposes to draw on the peoples’ manifestos made and endorsed by various campaigns across the country, including the ‘Reclaiming the Republic’ document, which lists the most urgent reforms needed in law…

Need for a manifesto for 'non-voters', who aren't discussed either by politicians or people

By Sheshu Babu*
A child miseducated is a child lost -- John F Kennedy
While all the mainstream parties are busy issuing statements of promises to various sections of society, there is little concern for the children who are clearly outside the electoral process. These 'non-voters' are being neglected and the potential of 'future' voters is not being discussed either by the politicians or people adequately.

Indo-Gangetic plain: Winter fog reduces crop yield, affects tourism, impacts millions

Counterview Desk
The just-released study, “The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People”, a collection of papers by a large number of scholars, by the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) of the the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), has said tha tair pollution in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is on the rise and regional air quality has worsened in the past two decades.

Invasive alien species pose "serious" eco-challenge to Kailash Sacred Landscape

Counterview Desk 
A new voluminous study, “The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People”, published for the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP), which is a science-policy initiative coordinated by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), has sought to debunk the view that the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region remains pristine, citing water and air pollution as examples.

Sabarmati for120 km stretch is dead, releasing industrial effluents, sewage in Arabian sea

Counterview Desk
Several civil society organisations led by Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, in close coordination with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board have released reports'on joint investigations by pollution levels in the prime water source of Ahmedabad District, Sabarmati river, finding their condition disastrous.

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

2019 polls: Actionable plan to end corruption, generate jobs discussed with political parties

By Our Representative
A civil society-sponsored Jan Manch organised in Delhi, where what are claimed to be “peoples’ issues” for the 2019 elections were discussed with representatives of political parties, has been told that the BJP rulers came to power on the anti-corruption plank of a Bhrastachar Mukt Bharat, but the government “systematically weakened and destroyed the anti-corruption framework.”

NHRC seeks Gujarat govt reply on what has been done to rehabilitate silicosis victims

The People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), a Vadodara-based health rights organization, has regretted that the Gujarat government has not taken any action for prevention or policy for rehabilitation of the state’s silicosis victims, forcing the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to a issue notice seeking reply.
While NHRC recommendation for paying Rs4 lakh to the families of the deceased workers was accepted by the state government, it had also suggested several steps to prevent the deadly disease. As it did not receive any reply on this score, it sent a notice to send a report of 6 weeks on the implementation of the recommendations.
NHRC recommendations include closure of agate work done in residential areas as the Madhya Pradesh government did in Mandasaur; formation of a board for the welfare of workers; prior the government’s environmental nod to start an agate unit; and minimum wages to agate workers.

Distressing: For 41.34% voters cash, liquor, gifts an important factor for voting

Counterview Desk
An all-India survey on governance issues and voting behaviour 2018 by the civil rights organization, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), claiming to be the largest-ever voter survey in any country, has said that the top voters’ priorities were employment and basic amenities (like healthcare, drinking water, better roads etc.), and governance issues (including terrorism and strong defence/military).

Narmada water remains contaminated, Gujarat govt "changed norms" to declare it fit to drink

The Lokshahi Bachao Andolan, a Gujarat-based civil rights organization headed by former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, has alleged that the state government has changed the minimum acceptable standard of drinking water from 500 milligrams per liter of TDS to 2,000 milligrams, risking the health of crores of people of Gujarat. Pointing out that the permissible limit for water has been changed in “10 of the 13 norms”, addressing media, its members said, “The total hardness has been increased from 200 to 600.”
Prof Hemantkumar Shah, a senior economist, alleged, quoting Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) data, that “all the standards for water, color, turbidity, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, fluoride and alkalinity etc. have been revised upwards, in some cases for up to 200 per cent, while in other cases by 400 per cent.”
Suggesting that this has been done against the backdrop of Narmada waters getting contaminated, Mahesh Pandya, a senior environmentalist who head…

Coal India one of world's 16 top cos “exposed" to risks of human rights violations, climate liability

Coal India, with an annual coal production of 538.8 million metric tonnes, ranks No 1 of all the world’s coal producing units. Revealing this, a high-profile civil society report, “Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2019” has said that Coal India is among 16 top coal producing companies 16 key companies “exposed to potential risk due to human rights and climate liability.”
China’s National Energy Investment Group ranks No 2 with an annual coal production of 510.0 million metric tonnes, followed by China Guodian Corporation producing 171.6 million metric tonnes, Datong Coal Mine Group producing 167.0 million metric tonnes, and China National Coal Group producing 159.3 million metric tonnes.
The 15 key companies other than Coal India exposed to potential risk due to human rights and climate liability identified by the report are Energy Transfer, Drummond, TransCanada, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, BP, Peabody, Total, Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Irani…

Modi's campaign, Congress reaction "political gimmick", won't improve chowkidaars' lives

By Sheshu Babu*
"Dekh raha hai kya kya sapna raat ko sone waala /Ho sone waala/  Yeh na jaane aankh khule to kya hai hone waala/ Haa hone waala -- 'Yeh duniya nahi jagir kisi ki...' by Rajender Kishan in 'Chowkidaar' (1974). (What dreams the person sleeping might have been dreaming/ O! That sleeping person/ It is unknown what would happen when eyes are open/ Yes! What would happen)

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Book by India's well-known anti-communalism campaigner to be released on March 31

Organised by two civil eights organizations, Plural India and Anhad, a book authored by a well-known anti-communal campaigner Ram Puniyani, former Professor IIT Mumbai, is set to released ahead of the elections, "India in Communal Grip", on March 31 in Delhi.
Dealing with most of the issues which took place with coming of Modi-BJP coming to power, the book claims to show how the values of Indian Constitution and Indian ethos are being undermined.
Blaming "sectarian ideology espoused by Modi-BJP", the book is said to focus on the threats of sectarian politics in the name of religion and by the "imperialist aggression" for the lust of oil. Among those who will spek at the book release function include human rights leaders and experts Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, John Dayal, Shabnam Hashmi and Syeda Hameed.
Puniyani, says a communiqué, is a writer activist, working on the issues related to preservation of democratic, plural values in the society. He has been recipi…

Amend "discriminatory" law, give reservation to Dalit Muslims, Christians: Parties told

By Our Representative
The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has come up with a 14-point demands list for inclusion into political parties’ election manifestos for the 2019 polls. To be sent to political parties and their candidates shortly, these demands seek obligatory formation of minority commissions in every state and having a minority department in each state by promulgating law in Parliament.

Why India needs to emulate Oscar Romero as untruth, injustice, divisiveness "gain ground"

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On October 14, 2018, Pope Francis canonised Archbishop Oscar Romero. In his homily during the ceremony, the Holy Father lauded Romero for leaving "the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to live his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters".

Document 'Reclaiming the Republic' to be discussed with political parties

Top civil society networks, National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Right to Food Campaign (RTF), Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan(SNS) have announced their decision to discuss the document  ‘Reclaiming the Republic’ and several other manifestos developed by campaign organizations with representatives of political parties.
In a joint statement ahead of the meeting on March 25, they have said that these documents bring together "the most urgent actionable reforms needed to protect and strengthen the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity." The meeting will be held from 2:30 pm to 5 pm at the Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, Delhi, and major civil society participants include Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Dipa Sinha, Kavita Srivastava and Meera Sanghmitra.

How Balasaheb Deoras was made to believe: He was "foolish" to follow Bhagat Singh

By Shamsul Islam*
March 23, 2019 is the 88th anniversary of the martyrdom of three great revolutionaries, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged at Lahore for working to overthrow the British rule in India. The British government like any other colonial power thought that with the physical elimination of these freedom fighters their ideas and dreams of a secular and egalitarian independent India would also dissipate.

Ex-IIT, IIM scholar threatens: Would sit on indefinite hunger strike to "save" Ganga

By Chandra Vikash*
As already reported, a United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues team visited  Haridwar in support and solidarity with 26-year old Sant Atmabodhanand, who hails from Kerala. He is fasting for making River Ganga Aviral (free-flow) and Nirmal (pollution-free).

India ranks worse than Pakistan, China, Bangladesh in World Happiness Index: UN report

In a shocking revelation, all of India’s neighbours – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar – rank better than India in the World Happiness Index, worked out by independent scholars under the aegis of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions network in part the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Ranking 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, the report which provides the ranking says, India ranks 140th, as against Pakistan 67th, China 93rd, Nepal 100th, Bangladesh 125th, Sri Lanka 130th, and Myanmar 131rd.
Identifying India as one of the “significant losers” along with Venezuela, Malaysia and Ukraine, the report says, the entire South Asian region showed “a drop of a full point, from 5.1 to 4.1 on the 0 to 10 scale, driven mainly by the experience of India, given its dominant share of South Asian population.”
The report continues, “The five largest drops since 2005-08 were in Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela, with drops ov…

Skill India? 80% of engineers "not employable", no change in last nine years: Report

Counterview Desk
“The National Employability Report: Engineers”, prepared by a high-profile consultation firm, Aspiring Minds, with offices in India, US, China, The Philippines Dubai, has expressed concern that low employability of engineering students of India “is a stubborn issue that has shown little or no macro improvement over the last seven years.”

Govt of India labour reforms would make unorganized workers "more vulnerable"

By Manohar Chauhan
A senior women's rights leader, Parilata Mohapatra of the Swarozgari Mahila Sangh, Odisha, has expressed concern that though 94% of the domestic workers in the state work in the un-orgainsed sector only 6% work in the organized sector, the Government of India (GoI) decision for coming up with new labour codes, repealing 44 labour laws, would make them even more vulnerable.

First ever reduction in male workforce in 2017-18 since 1993-94: Govt of India report

In a stark revelation, a Government of India's yet-to-be released report has said that, for the first time since 1993-94, the actual size of India’s male workforce, or men who are working, has shrunk. Data from the National Sample Survey report, "Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFC) 2017-18", says that there were by 28.6 crore employed males in the country during the year.
This, it is reported, is the first instance of a drop in the male workforce that steadily swelled from 21.9 crore in 1993-94 to 30.4 crore in 2011-12 when the last NSS survey was conducted. This suggests fewer men were employed in 2017-18 compared with five years ago.
The decline in actual numbers occurred, again for the first time since 1993-94, in both rural and urban male workforce. The slide is steeper — 6.4% — in the rural areas compared to a 4.7% setback observed in the urban sector.
The yet-to-be-released PLFS report put the unemployment rate for male in urban and rural segments at 7.1 per cent an…

Winnability "not important" for Cynthia Stephen, Karnataka civil society candidate

By KP Sasi*
The debates on the forthcoming elections have already started. Activists and people's movements who have been contributing actively without the representations in Parliament have started discussing on strategies. The usual debates are on. All these debates have been repetitions of the debates we have heard for decades. Some will decide to opt out.

If implemented, Supreme Court order would "threaten" conservation, climate, tigers

Counterview Desk
The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of more than 200 organizations dedicated to advancing the forestland and resource rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and rural women, has said in statement issued from Washington DC that evicting millions of indigenous and local peoples from their forest homes – as ordered by Indian Supreme Court – might prove to be “highly detrimental to conservation in India”.
Pointing out that “conservation organizations and rights groups agree: the decision threatens conservation, climate, and tigers”, RRI, quoting UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, regrets, “This is a phenomenon seen around the world. Indigenous peoples and local communities are treated as squatters when in fact the lands belong to them, and they have protected and stewarded their holdings for generations.”
Text of the RRI statement: The Indian Supreme Court decision in February to remove mil…

Elections 2019: Civil society network WNTA plans activists' meet on March 23

Well-known civil society network, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), has asked activists across India to join an event it has planned for March 23 -- the day of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru – for its campaign "Desh Mera, Vote Mera, Mudda Mera" it has launched in order to work out a strategy for the 2019 elections, saying Indian democracy is at a “critical moment”, and even as real and substantive issues had begun to surface, “suddenly the focus has been shifted national security.”
Insisting that “there seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep the focus on emotional issues so as to avoid critical scrutiny”, WNTA in its appeal to activists said, “The first and foremost duty of a citizen is to prevent this derailment and bring the focus back on real issues such as unemployment, farm distress, rising inequality, hate crimes, condition of marginal communities and deficits in the basic welfare provisions.”
Pointing out that “while it is for political parties to contest…

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

A courageous journalist who was committed towards sustained ecological growth

By Sheshu Babu*
Very few journalists stood by peoples'rights and dared to expose atrocities committed by corporates and government. One such fine committed journalist was Darryl D'Monte who inspired younger generation. He passed away on March 16 in a Mumbai hospital.

India's party-based democracy has created a "self-perpetuating" political aristocracy

By Mohan Guruswamy*
With the seventeenth Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, we increasingly hear them described as a Celebration of Democracy! It very well might be, but for who and how still remains to be seen.
This reminds me of a tale from the Mahabharata, when many years after their victory in the great eighteen-day war, King Yudhishtra decides to perform the Ashvamedha yagna at Hastinapur.

Ganga depletion leading to loss of indigenous livelihoods: Fasting saint tells activist

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Ramnath Kovind, President of India, Chandra Vikash, who is convener of the civil rights organization Global Academy for Indigenous (Dalit) Activism (GAIA), Delhi, has expressed the apprehension that crores of indigenous (Dalit) livelihoods would be affected if the Government of India fails to ensure “free-flow” of River Ganga and other rivers, making them “pollution-free”.

India No 2 in natural resource extraction, causing adverse impact on environment: UNEP

A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Resource Panel (IRP), “Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want”, has raised the alarm that 10 economies across the globe, including India, are responsible for over 68 per cent of global extraction of resources today.
Expressing serious concern that more than a third of all materials in 2017 were extracted in China, the report states, the country is “followed by 7.6 per cent in India and 7.1 per cent in the United States.”
At the same time, the report says, while Europe “generates 20 per cent of the global resource-related value added, impacting just 5 to 10 per cent on the environment, India’s resource-related value-added in 2017 was just 4 per cent, but its environmental impact was as high as 7 per cent.
The report comments, “This inverse pattern of domestic resource-related value added and environmental impacts may be a sign of varying environmental standards, but…

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Hindutva rulers discussing China to "divert" attention on who handed over Azhar to Pak

By Shamsul Islam*
The present RSS-BJP rulers are using every dirty trick to hide the fact that blood thirsty criminal, perpetrator of the Pulwama massacre, Azhar Masood is roaming free thanks to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government which was ruling India in 1999.

Fascist danger? 2019 election campaign "might witness" communal and hate speeches

By Sheshu Babu*
As the country is preparing for elections, all politicians are trying to outsmart each other in promises and rhetoric. Amidst of statements of leaders, some are really very disturbing. For instance, Sakshi Maharaj, MP, Lok Sabha said that the upcoming elections will be fought in the name of the country and there will be no elections after that.

Confront gravity of threat to democracy: 73 intellectuals to India's opposition parties

Counterview Desk
As many as 73 intellectuals -- including academics, artistes, social workers and writers -- in an appeal to non-BJP opposition parties regarding 2019 elections have said, since the threat to democracy from Narendra Modi and BJP is real, they should not only "rise above political competition" but also come up with a minimum programme suggesting their firm commitment in democratic institutions and the Constitution.

Gujarat government bravado and "slow death" of agriculture in the state

By SagarRabari*, Persis Ginwalla** 
Why is Gujarat, an otherwise ‘developed’ state, with an agricultural growth rate ostensibly much higher than other states of India, as claimed repeatedly by the Government of Gujarat (GoG), reeling under the anger of farmers? If the GoG’s claims of development are indeed true, then why is the average monthly farm income at a mere Rs 3573? And why is Gujarat at number nine in the country in terms of farmers’ incomes?

Pak scholars' invite to world Urdu meet cancelled because Islamabad promoted terror: Govt

Close on the heels of former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju strongly objecting to the cancellation of invitations to Pakistani scholars for the three-day World Urdu Conference to begin on Monday in Delhi, the Government of India organizers have come up with the explanation that this was as a consequence to "the way Pakistan has been indulging in cross-border terrorism."
To be inaugurated by Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Human Resource Development, a chief organizer, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) vice-chairman Prof Shahid Akhtar, told media that there will be participants from Canada, Russia, France, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Denmark, Japan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Mauritius, apart from 40 Urdu scholars from around the country.
"Urdu is a window to the cultural heritage of Indian ambiance of harmonious bonding between one and all", he said, adding, the subjects to be discussed would include “Urdu as a Medium of Instruction: Primary to S…

Delhi-Haridwar foot marchers for "saving" Ganga resolve to oppose BJP in elections

The Delhi to Haridwar foot march, which started from Jantar Mantar on March 9, 2019 concluded today at Matri Sadan, Haridwar, the site of long fasts for conservation of Ganga. Currently, 26 years old Brahmachari Atmabodhanand is on fast for 145 days in order to press upon the government listens to his demands.
Earlier, Swami Nigmanand lost his life after 115 days fast in 2011 against illegal mining in Ganga, followed by Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, formerly Prof GD Agrawal, who lost his life on October 11, 2019 after 112 days of fast demanding halt of all proposed and ongoing hydroelectric power projects on Ganga, illegal mining, deforestation in river basin and flow of sewage into Ganga.
A meeting was held in the presence of Atmabodhanand and Swami Shivanand, head of Matri Sadan, in which environmentalist Ravi Chopra, member of Parliament from Nepal Met Mani Chaudhary, and Asia representative of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Phoolman Chaudhary were present.
The …

Demand from Gujarat Govt to support silicosis patients continuously on oxygen

Senior health rights activist Jagdish Patel, who heads People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, has asked the the Government of Gujarat to urgently arrange for oxygen concentrator for patients like Sikandar alias Ratan, suffering from silicosis since 2013. At the age of 33 Sikandar began working as agate polisher on a vertical wheel machine known as patiya, used to make round beads.
Patel in a statement said, since 2013 Sikandar got sick and had to leave the job. He did not know anything on his right to claim compensation for silicosis and has not filed any compensation claim under the Employees Compensation Act. He is now completely bedridden. He needs to be on oxygen all 24 hours, even in the toilet.
Every third day, says Patel, someone from the family has to travel in autorikshaw to Anand, the district headquarter from his village Mamhmmadpura. Married with two children, he is landless, and his daily expenses of treatment are around Rs 250 which his family cann…

ESIS to enrol private practioners, as it expands to Vadodara district, "benefit" 80,000 workers

The Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) has decided to enrol private practioners to "overcome" the scarcity of doctors following its decision to expand its wings in Vadodara district. According to ESIS, in all, 80,000 workers of the district would benefit from the scheme, which would require 1.75% contribution from workers' salary and 4.75% from the industrial units where they work. All the workers who salary is Rs 21,000 or less would be enrolled in ESIS.
Prominent health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the Peoples Training & Research Centre, Vadodara, even as welcoming the ESIS decision, said, Vadodara and its adjoining areas lack quality and affordable health services, resulting in people being asked to rush the Siyaji Hospital in Vadodara in case of any serious disease. It has also been found that, often, workers are at the mercy of private practioners, who charge huge sums for any treatment.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Operation All Out? Ban on Jamaat-e-Islami in J&K part of "ongoing repression": PUDR

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), a civil liberties and democratic rights organization based in Delhi, believes that there aren’t sufficient grounds for banning Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), insisting, the ban has been instituted as part of the “ongoing repression” in the Kashmir Valley. Seeking revocation of the ban, PUDR says, the ban suggests the “cavalier attitude” of the Government of India, which has “ignored” provisions of law and Supreme Court judgments.
Text of the statement: PUDR draws attention to the illegality behind the decision of the Central Government-ruled Jammu and Kashmir to ban Jamaat-e-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir on February 28, 2019. While attention has been focussed on the escalation and de-escalation of tension between India-Pakistan, the Central Government has intensified repression in the state. The J&K administration has picked up hundreds of persons and booked them under preventive detention laws.…

Scheduled castes got a "raw deal" under Govt of India credit schemes: Economists

By Our Representative
In a detailed presentation before a seminar in Delhi in front of civil rights and Left-wing politicians, two senior economists with the Transdisciplinary Research Cluster on Sustainability Studies (TRCSS), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dinesh Abrol and Rollins John have said that the Government of India’s (GoI’s) credit schemes meant for the country’s marginalized communities, as also minorities and women, have failed to take off.

New single women's organization in Gujarat demands increase in pension to Rs 5,000

A new organization, Ekal Mahila Adhikar Sangathan, proposing to fight for single women’s rights in Gujarat, has come into existence following a meeting of an estimated 1,500 single women, many of them from the minority community. The meeting was held in the North Gujarat town of Himmatnagar.
Those who actively participated in the meeting included Huraben M Dani, who was elected as convener of the organization, Jamila Khan from Ahmedabad, women from several villages of Sabarkantha district Hansaben, Vllasaben, Halima Ben, Hasinaben, Seema Ben, Gangaben, Hasuba, Hina Ben and Lila Ben.
Several male activists joined in to help form the organization, including Mujahid Nafees, who leads the Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat, as also Junaid Ansari, Shailesh Thakkar, Danish Khan and Shakeel Sheikh. Nafees agreed to take a leading role in the organization.
Following the meet, an 20-point memorandum was handed over to the district collector, Sabarkantha, demanding lifelong pension to si…

Linking Godavari, Cauvery based on "ecologically unscientific" premise: SANDRP

Sharply reacting to Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari, who has said “linking Godavari and Cauvery rivers will be the top priority for the next NDA government”, well-known civil rights organization South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said, “There is no surplus in Godavari as accepted by all the concerned states”, and even if one were to accept the notion of surplus in a river, it is “ecologically unscientific.”
Gadkari recently said, the interlinking of Godavari and Cauvery would be done by taking the backwater of Godavari from Polavaram, taking that water to Krishna, Krishna’s water to Pennar and Pennar to Cauvery -- the tail end of Tamil Nadu.
Calling it a dream project, on which his ministry is working, he added, “Actually, the water problem in the country is not the problem of whole of India. There are some pockets; but basically, water scarcity is a problem related to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya …