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Showing posts from April, 2019

Indian industry's 40% mergers caste-based, create lower value than caste-distant deals

By Rajiv Shah
Suggesting that India’s business class is still not out of its feudal culture, a recent study on merger and acquisition (M&A) deals of top Indian business houses, carried out jointly by scholars of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, and Pomona College, Claremont, California, United States, has found that the “observed percentage of same-varna mergers” is 40.11%, which is at least “twice as high as” (15.47% to 20.34%) as M&A carried out with firms that do not have the same varna.

Mental stress causes higher farmers' suicide rate in "better off" Gujarat, West Bengal

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Farmer suicides always catch the fancy of politicians who see votes in death. Few of them seem to understand the reality that has overtaken farming in India. With almost 60% of the population still dependent on it, Agriculture’s share of the GDP has declined to just 13% and declining fast. Very simply it means that farming only ensures greater relative poverty.

"Threat" to 14 centuries long Kerala ethos from pseudo-Hinduism, pan-Islamism

By RB Sreekumar*
Fathomless antiquity of Indian history and civilization generated amazing diversity not only in the evolution of various facets of human activity but in the nature and character of engagement with outsiders landed in India also, as traders, sanctuary seekers, immigrants and invaders.

Demand to decommission polluting habitats, industries along Ganga, rehabilitate sufferers

Counterview Desk
An Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) and Indian Indsitute of Management (Kolkata) alumni, Chandra Vikash, convener, Global Academy for Indigenous Activism (GAIA), has in an open letter to Union Minister for River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari sought urgent intervention to save "Mother Ganga and people's livelihoods from the greedy and criminal polluter class", insisting, there should be a "decommissioning of all polluting habitats, industries, and infrastructure in a scientific and phased out manner."

Proposed monuments of Hindu icons to "transform" secular India, unnerve minorities

By Indulata Prasad*
Statues – big statues, the largest in the world – are being built all across India. Like many public monuments, they attempt to convey history in a concrete form. But India’s new statues convey something else, too: the power and vision of one dominant group – and the vulnerability of others.That’s because India’s biggest new public monuments all pay tribute to Hindu gods and leaders.

Bhopal poll to decide if Sangh would succeed in "undermining" religious freedom in India

Counterview Desk
An unusual commentary published by the Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)-controlled think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) has said that a “bitter and nasty no-holds barred battle” in the Lok Sabha polls between BJP’s Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a terror accused, and Congress veteran Digvijay Singh in Bhopal will determine whether the Sangh policy makers would be able to embark upon the path to "undermine" the Constitution that guarantees religious freedom and right to life along with freedom of expression.

Kanhaiya Kumar "represents" Communists' Aryan Jatitva, not Dalits or Muslims

Counterview Desk
With just two days to go for polls (April 29), controversial Communist candidate from Begusarai, Kanhaiya Kumar, has come in for virulent attack from a section of the Left-of-the-centre ideologues, saying, he represents "caste arrogance" of India's organised Left, which is allegedly "neither free from the Aryan Jatitva nor it has understood Aryan Jatitva as the supremacist ideology that defines Indian fascism."

Delhi govt adopting "lackadaisical approach" on subsidized grains to 50% urban residents

Counterview Desk
The Delhi High Court has said that the Delhi government’s affidavit filed on rules for grievance redress under the National Food Security Act is “wholly unsatisfactory”. In its verdict on Friday, it has directed the presence of concerned official in the next hearing. It was hearing the contempt petition filed by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan against the state government for its “failure” to comply with the court order of September 1, 2017, requiring it to put in place the requisite grievance redress and accountability framework under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

In manic hurry to grow in stature, Modi "appropriates" available greatness symbols

Counterview Desk
An anonymous commentary received by writer and commentator Sonali Ranade, and published in her blog site, is being cited as providing "crucial insights" into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's character. Pointing out that she doesn't know who the author is, Ranade asserts, Akaar Patel, who heads Amnesty International office in India, "had once offered a similar insight but he appears to have lost his voice these days."

WhatsApp misinformation: India "follows" Brazil, which elected extreme rightist

By Our Representative
A Harvard University scholar has raised the alarm that "on the heels of a Brazilian electoral process that was marked by outrageous disinformation campaigns", India, where elections for the Lok Sabha are on, "may be witnessing the world’s next WhatsApp election."

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

State stands convicted: Gujarat riots gang-rape victim Bilkis Bano on "historic" SC verdict

Counterview Desk
In what is being described as a “historic day for women’s rights and state accountability”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the Gujarat government should give Bilkis Bano, a gang rape victim during the 2002 communal riots, should be given exemplary compensation of Rs 50 lakh, a job and a house for she suffered.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Media turmoil following allegation of Assam editors' support to "anti-national" elements

By Nava Thakuria*
Reporting turmoil and conflicts was order of the day for most of the Assam-(also northeast India) based scribes as the region was overshadowed by separatist militants with their disruptive activities till few years back. Media persons then faced two edged swords. Reporting would bring brickbats from government agencies, and aloofness could invite wrath from the armed rebels.

India's "learning crisis": Result of household food insecurity among 47% of 12-year-olds

Counterview Desk
In their just-released study, “Inequalities in adolescent learning: Does the timing and persistence of food insecurity at home matter?”, Jasmine Fledderjohann, lecturer in sociology and social work, Lancaster University; Elisabetta Aurino, lecturer, Imperial College London; and Sukumar Vellakkal, Assistant professor, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, have sought to investigate inequalities in learning achievements caused by food insecurity by taking the sample of 1,911 Indian children ages 5, 8 and 12 years.

Disinterested in politics, Punjab's 93% women farm workers "ignorant" who is India's PM

By Rajiv Shah
Even as political parties are fighting a pitched battle during the Lok Sabha elections, a recent study, 'Socio-Economic Conditions and Political Participation of Rural Women Labourers in Punjab', has made the stark revelation that “a very large majority of the rural woman labourers, i.e., 95.28 per cent have no interest in politics”, even as pointing out, “They do not read, listen and watch news.”

Gujarat's first transgender candidate for Lok Sabha was "compelled" to register as male

By Tanushree Gangopadhyay*
Gujarat’s first transgender candidate in the electoral fray, Jaysawal Naresh Babulal, will contest from the labour area of Ahmedabad East, but couldn’t claim her gender identity. Ironically, this vibrant constituency has fielded the largest number of crorepatis, numbering seven.

Obnoxious generalisations "rampant" for rejecting Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai

By Nalini Taneja*
From the vociferous political discourse in the media – both social media and channels – it seems Begusarai results will decide the fate of the nation, or at least the fate of social justice in this country. And, by this logic, if Kanhaiya Kumar somehow wins, it's the victory for upper castes and defeat of all marginalised, including the Muslims who constitute a sizeable section of the population in Begusarai.

New phenomenon? Communal violence "being taken to" Gujarat villages, small towns

By Our Representative
A "fact-finding" report by a Gujarat-based minority civil rights organization, Alpsankhyak Adhikar Manch (AAM), involving 13 communal incidents in 2018, has suggested how, following the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which more than 1,000 persons, majority of them Muslims, died, the saffron brigade has allegedly changed its tactic by seeking to spread of communal hatred and violence in rural areas and smaller towns.

Despite "higher" water storage in Narmada dam, Kutch, Saurashtra, North Gujarat go dry

Counterview Desk
Well-known environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar of the top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has wondered as why, despite Gujarat having so much Narmada water this year, it is refusing to share it with drought hit and thirsty parts of the state. Analysing figures mainly provided by the Narmada Control Authority, Thakkar says, while water in enough quantity is being released from the upstream dams, Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat are being starved for unknown reasons.

As Gujarat goes to polls on April 23, Narmada is "forgotten", is on nobody's agenda

By Mayank Aggarwal*
Sanjaybhai Machhi, 33, a resident of Bharuch in Gujarat, was a fisherman until a few years ago. He would earn enough from fishing in the Narmada river, to sustain his family. But now things have taken a turn for the worse and Sanjaybhai has had to switch professions to earn a living. With heavy pollution, seawater ingress and lack of release of water from the Sardar Sarovar dam, fishing in the Narmada is no longer a lucrative occupation. Sanjaybhai is now an auto rickshaw driver and his wife works as domestic help.

Over-dependence on groundwater usage for irrigation: Gujarat average 72%, national 62%

By Persis Ginwalla, Sagar Rabari*
Over the three agriculture census periods (15 years), one can see that there has been an increase in overall holdings and the area under irrigation, and a net decrease in the unirrigated holdings and area in Gujarat. Increase in the irrigation cover in Gujarat is certainly significant, and is rightly attributed as one of the major reasons for the agricultural growth of Gujarat.

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.