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Showing posts from April, 2019

Rafale deal: How successive Prime Ministers turned Make in India into Made for India

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after making all that hoopla about Make in India, tied up one of the biggest arms deals in the world in recent times by placing an order to buy 36 Rafale fighters from France. We are still to be officially told about how much this will cost us. From the break-up available in media some questions need to be asked.

Two lakh India's poor forcibly displaced in 2018, 11.3 lakh face eviction threat: Study

Counterview Desk
A new publication by a civil rights organization, Housing and Land Rights Network India (HLRN), "Forced Evictions in India in 2018: An Unabating National Crisis", has discussed different dimensions of India’s eviction and displacement crisis, even as highlighting violations of the human rights to adequate housing, work, health, education, and life, as a result of the demolition of homes by Central and state government agencies.

Modi supporters blamed for attack on journos, as India slips in press freedom index

By Our Representative
In what may prove to be a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time when he is seeking a second term in office from India's electorate, the latest rankings released by the high-profile Reporters Without Borders (RWB), based in Paris, shows that India has slipped by two points from 138 in a year to 140 out of 180 countries in World Press Freedom Index, worst since 2015.

Why was Hardik Patel's plea to suspend his conviction in a 2015 rioting case rejected?

By RK Misra*
While the Apex Court gave relief to a Gujarat Congress MLA regarding his disqualification, it denied urgent hearing of a plea from Hardik Patel of the same party, bringing into question his ability to contest the polls. In the space of just 24 hours, two leaders from Gujarat who looked for succour from the Supreme Court were left with different expectations.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Clean fuel? Modi's Ujjwala fails: Poor households 2.5 times "less likely" to use LPG

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India's (GoI) Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, launched in 2016 in order to promote the use of clean cooking fuel to villagers by subsidizing liquid petroleum gas (LPG) connections, and thus reduce exposure to "harmful" indoor air pollution, has mainly helped the rural elite, a recent study, titled "Persistence of solid fuel use despite increases in LPG ownership: New survey evidence from rural north India", has said.

60% urban men aged 20-24 unemployed, 50 lakh lost jobs in India since 2016: Study

Counterview Desk
In a new report, "State of Working India", prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, Bangalore, even as taking strong exception to the Government of India discontinuing employment and unemployment survey, has quoted independent surveys to say that a whopping five million able bodied men lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, adding, the situation is extremely grim among the relatively less educated youth.

How Modi's Margdarshak Mandal became parking place for discarded, elderly egos

By RK Misra*
Political epitaphs have a way of returning to reclaim the hand that buried them. If the present prime minister of India spares no effort to berate Jawaharlal Nehru for perceived injustice to his deputy Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, how would Narendra Modi be rated when posterity evaluates him for putting to pasture two of his own party patriarchs -- LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi? Lot less flatteringly then he desires.

Muti-religious, caste Jallianwala matyrdom lies hidden in dark rooms of National Archives

By Shamsul Islam*
Today India has turned into a grazing field for all kinds of religious bigots led by the Hindutva gang. Even the Prime Minister of the country, who took oath to uphold democratic-secular polity, is identifying himself as a Hindu nationalist as if he is in office to serve the cause of Hindutva.

Hiding failures, targeting Nehru, BJP "refuses" to blame Muslim League for Partition

By Ram Puniyani*
In the recently-released BJP manifesto, what strikes one is absence of any mention of what their previous promises achieved, as same promises are being repeated with stronger dose of ultra-nationalism. In public speeches its leaders are attributing the failures of their government to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minster of India.

Elections 2019: BJP in Gujarat trying hard to respond to Modi ‘withdrawal’ symptom

By RK Misra*
Gujarat is the home state of two of the most powerful people in India today: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Both were deeply rooted in state politics before graduating to centre-stage. Both leveraged their standing in the state to carve out a national niche for themselves. And both wield power with elan and an element of ruthlessness to achieve desired results.

Northeast voters "oppose" saffron welcome to religious asylum seekers from Pak, B'desh

By Nava Thakuria*
Often termed as the largest democracy on Earth, India has gone for national elections since April 11, 2019, and the biggest electoral exercise through electronic voting machines (EVM) will continue till May 19. Over 900 million voters will participate in the seven-phase general elections to elect 543 representatives to 17th Lok Sabha, the powerful lower house of Indian Parliament in New Delhi.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Allurement to voters: Indian system "isn't yet offering" a genuine electoral process

By Sheshu Babu*
As the election schedule has started, debates on victories and losses of political parties has picked up momentum. Among the factors which are responsible for the outcome, the role of various lucrative offers to people is a topic of intense analysis by media and elite intellectuals.

Occuational safety? Indian factories record 21 fatal accidents per 10 lakh, EU less than 2

By Jagdish Patel*
The world of developing countries is very vast, and spreads across multiple continents. Among these countries we can see wide variety of political systems, governance, economic situations, demography, culture, labour laws and its enforcement, numbers of workers in formal and informal sectors and difficulties in recording and reporting of accidents and occupational diseases. This leaves a narrow range for comparison.

How World Bank ignored "positive side" of regulations on labour, environment, land

Counterview Desk
Well-known Delhi-based advocacy group, Financial Accountability Network India, in a just-released compendium during the on-going general elections, “5 Years of Achhe Din: A Quick Look at Banking and Finance Sector”, has sought to analyze on different aspects of finance, banking and the economy. Prepared by well-known experts, including Dinesh Abrol, Rohit Azad, and Sucheta Dalal, the analysis is claimed to have been carried for triggering an “informed discussion” on the economic performance of the NDA-II government.

Gujarat govt performance on development "below average": ADR voter survey

Counterview Desk
Conducted as part of its all-India survey, the high profile NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has found that, in Gujarat, Better Employment Opportunities (42.68%), Drinking Water (37.12%), and Better Hospitals/Primary Healthcare Centres (30.23%) are the top three voters’ priorities. The survey also found that caste and religious considerations are key factors for 36% of voters in choosing candidates with criminal records.

Fix official responsibility in death of 10 NREGA women workers: NAPM demands

Counterview Desk
Expressing shock at the death of 10 NREGA women workers in Telangana, India's top civil society network National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has demanded judicial probe and official accountability for avoidable loss of lives, saying, the incident is a cruel and unforgivable consequence of the neglect by the authorities.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Abandon coal-based power plants, dams on Narmada river: MP 34 civil society bodies

Counterview Desk
As many as 34 civil society organizations of Madhya Pradesh, forming Jan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, have, through a statement, put forward a list of demands before candidates fighting the Lok Sabha elections, ranging from abandoning new plans to have coal-based power plants to suspending fresh dams on the Narmada river in view of sharp deceleration in the flow of water.

UK NRIs protest lynching of minorities, Dalits by "RSS-led mobs", hate, hysteria

Counterview Desk
Even as India goes to polls on April 11 in an atmosphere allegedly causing deep concern, several UK-based human rights and Dalits organisations held a vigil outside the Indian High Commission in London Pointing out that this was part of a global day of action with a similar protests taking place in New York and in solidarity with people’s agenda 2019 event which took place in Delhi, they released a set of demands on rights situation in India.

Social security? Only 2.3% informal workers subscribe to Govt of India schemes: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent paper, “Inequality and Social Security in India”, published in the just-released Oxfam study, “Mind the Gap: State of Employment in India”, has pointed towards pitiable condition of social security in India, which covers only 8% of the workers, adding, things are particularly bad for marginalized sections.

Sarangi's films are a "passionate" voice against injustice both within and outside Odisha

Counterview Desk
Documentary film maker Deba Ranjan Sarangi’s latest release, “Those Stars in the Sky”, tells the tale of crusade against corporate giants trying to "appropriate" Odisha adivasi land, known for being rich in minerals. Also a well-known activist, Sarangi, who was arrested in 2016 because of his protest against mining practices, displacement, police impunity, and for raising issues of farmers’ suicides, was with the Prakrutika Sampad Surakhya Parisad (PSSP), which resisted mining operations by the Utkal Aluminium International Limited (UAIL) in Kashipur in the state.

Niamgiri villagers in Odisha "subjected to" illegal arrests, kidnapping, fake encounters

Counterview Desk
A fact finding team, consisted of six members of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), a nationwide civil society network, visited Odisha from March 23 to 27 to understand the issues impacting the tribal communities – Dongria Kondhs, Kutia Kondhs and Majhi Kondhs – and Dalits, following the alleged violence meted out on them to make way for mining giant Vedanta to do its business.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”

How Indian Constitution offered language in which citizens could communicate with state

Counterview Desk
Rohit De, assistant professor of history at the Yale University, in his new book, “A People’s Constitution”, argues that that the Indian Constitution was written by Indian citizens rather than by Whitehall, as was the case for many former colonies of Britain. Its writers represented diverse backgrounds, demands, inputs, and petitions poured in from postmasters, housewives, and even schoolchildren, during its drafting. It was truly conceived as a people’s constitution.

If arch enemies Germany, France can be friends; why can't India, Pakistan cooperate?

By Syed Basharat*
Kashmir is a zone of chaos, a highest militarised zone in the world. Kashmir is a bone of fight between the two Nuclear Countries. The independence of India and Pakistan gave the birth to conflicts, chaos, and hatred. The two independent dominions of Pakistan and India were born on August 14 and 15 respectively. The Kashmir conflict is a legacy of the past.

India "slides" in liberal democracy index after Modi came to power: EU-assisted report

By Rajiv Shah
Even as India goes to polls, a recent European Union-assisted Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) report, claiming to provide "new ways to study the nature, causes, and consequences of democracy embracing its multiple meanings", has raised the alarm that "freedom of expression, media, and civil society are under threat", especially in "key countries, such as Brazil, India, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and the United States."

Mumbai's 9 million slumdwellers to decide electoral fate of India's richest city

By Gajanan Khergamker*
India’s financial capital and home to the largest number of the richest in the nation, 46,000 millionaires and counting – Mumbai – will be going to polls on April 29. With a total wealth of $ 950 billion, according to the New World Wealth, Mumbai figures 13th on the list of the 15 Wealthiest Cities across the world, beating Toronto and Paris. The riches notwithstanding, the city’s poll prospects will be decided by its more than half slum-dwellers.

Inconclusive mandate "likely", will require a leader whose appeal cuts across parties

By Mohan Guruswamy*
At a time when an inconclusive mandate seems a very likely outcome, we will miss personalities like AB Vajpayee and Chandrashekhar, more so the latter, who had larger than life personalities and whose appeal cut across party lines so as to be able to weld together many factions in a united cause. Narendra Modi's acolytes know this and hence they keep asking "if not Modi, who?" Clearly a person like the late Chandrashekhar will be missed in the next Lok Sabha.

Book on how RSS "hardliners" captured BHU, other campuses, expelled top academic

By Our Representative
In a controversial decision, in January 2016, the Banaras Hindu University’s Indian Institute of Technology (BHU-IIT) expelled well-known Gandhian academic, educationist and Magsaysay award winning social activist, Prof Sandeep Pandey, allegedly under “hardline” RSS pressure. Despite an Allahabad High Court order, to reinstate him he was not allowed in.

Martyred in Syria, this Dutch Jesuit sheltered victims of conflict, Muslims and Christians

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Beirut: Miryiam (name changed) spoke in a steely voice, but with passion as tears welled in her eyes, “Yes, they killed him! But for me, Abouna Frans will never die!” Those words of a young lady are a fitting tribute to a person who meant so much to her and to many others. Her profound sentiments, echo the feelings of hundreds of others who were impacted by Abouna Frans.

No end to woes of "abducted" Dalit girl's parents: NCW told to investigate cops' role

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights activist from West Bengal, Kirity Roy, secretary, Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), in a letter to the chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW), has urged immediate action to expedite investigation regarding the abduction of a 17-year-old girl, daughter of a Dalit below poverty line category, belonging to Sabaipur village of the North 24 Parganas district.

Waste pickers face respiratory, musculo-skeletal, gastrointestinal ailments, social stigma

By Sheshu Babu*
In cities and towns, one often comes across heaps of garbage on roadsides and poor -- mostly slum dwellers, children -- hovering around the pile. These people are mostly ignored by authorities as well as rich and middle-class elites. Waste pickers are the lowest in the hierarchy of urban informal occupation.

Elections 2019: Why are unfulfilled social needs not being debated fiercely?

By Prof Anil Gupta*
The shower of promises has not cooled the tempers of electoral rhetoric yet, though real rains are still some time away. Several models of poverty alleviation are being discussed, some rely on providing infrastructural support in various ways so that entrepreneurial, risk-taking people among the poor can rise above the poverty line. Millions have indeed come up like this in the last decade.

London School of Economics students protest "casual Islamophobia" of Sadhguru

Counterview Desk
In a fresh round of controversy involving Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization which offers yoga programs around the world and claims to be involved in social outreach, education and environmental initiatives, has referred to a Muslim student at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) as “a Talibani” and “Taliban”.
Earlier Sadhguru invited criticism from the well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), for his Rally of Rivers campaign, allegedly meant to support of the establishment, and playing in the hands of India's corporate interests. In 2017, NBA accused Sadhguru of gathering “millions of rupees from many corporate and many media houses” for his campaign.
NBA said, Sadhguru, “who has taken up to saving the rivers by spending millions of crores of rupees himself is accused of violation of many environmental laws in Tamil Nadu”, including “encroachment on the Kundakoi tributary of the river N…

When boyfriends, sex were "unwelcome" diversions for Indian Communists

Counterview Desk
Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, who belongs to a communist family in India, in her new book, has sought to examine the lives and subjectivities of militant-nationalist and communist women in India, from the late 1920s, shortly after the communist movement took root, to the 1960s, when it fractured.

Economic abuse, coercive control, more than dowry, "intimidate" young NRI women

Counterview Desk
Melbourne-based academic, Supriya Singh, who is professor of sociology of communications at the Graduate School of Business and Law at the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, believes that dowry for non-resident Indians (NRIs), who have settled down in the country, may not be practiced as in India, but it has acquired a new form. Giving specific examples which she found during her research, she writes in a prominent Australia-based e-journal, it should be seen more as part of “wider issues of economic abuse and coercive control”.

Govt "failure" to offer accommodation to Mumbai toxic hell PAPs led to illegal colonies

By Gajanan Khergamker*
In what is being interpreted a much-awaited display of judicial activism, on April 3, 2019, Bombay High Court Justices AS Oka and MS Sanklecha rapped the State government for dragging its feet on the issue of relocation and examined the Mahul pollution imbroglio against Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and upheld “the right of project affected persons to say that they cannot be forced to reside in an area where air pollution is life-threatening.”

Fourth industrial revolution? Female labour force down from 37% in 2005 to 26% in 2018

Counterview Desk
Discussing the paradox around the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as an enabler of gender equality or an accelerator of gendered disparities, a new report, "Opportunity or Challenge? Empowering Women and Girls in India for the Fourth Industrial Revolution", says that, in India, a decadal analysis of employment data reveals a declining trend of Female Labour Force Participation (FLFP).

Jharkhand cops "forced" village headman to sign land acquisition papers or face tune

Counterview Desk
A village headman of Kochang in Khunti district of Jharkhand, Sukhram Munda, in an interview with prominent tribal rights activist Gladson Dungdung, pointing towards the type of oppression faced by the tribal people, has said that he himself was a victim when, on his return from the state capital Ranchi, police caught him and was forcibly asked him to on a land acquisition paper.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

Overcentralization: Reason why MGNREGA may be seen as destined to be a failure

By Debmalya Nandy
Successive governments have almost did everything they could possibly have done to destroy the spirit of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005. MGNREGA is a classic case study of how a well intended programme for the poorest can be converted into a failed dream by the great Indian bureaucracy and the negligence of the political parties at power.

Political parties told to promise community-based land, forest governance in manifestos

By Manohar*
The State Chapter of Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha which fought for the enactment of historic Forest Rights Act, (FRA), 2006 in the country has asked the Political Parties to priorities Forest and Land rights recognition issues in their partynmanifestos.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Authorities asked to act against officials, industries responsible for polluting Sabarmati

Counterview Desk
Top environmental NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists Rohit Prajapati and Krishna Kant have sought immediate action against Central Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs), Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), polluting industries, and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) "in view of dangerously very high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) and zero DO (Dissolved Oxygen) levels observed in the water of Sabarmati River."

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.