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Showing posts from May, 2019

Mob lynching, murder of Jharkhand Adivasi: People from 3 districts protest cop "inaction"

By Our Representative
Hundreds of people from Gumla, Latehar and Ranchi districts of Jharkhand have protested against police "inaction" against the killing of Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block. The protest took place under the banner of the Kendriya Jan Sangharsh Samiti (JSS), a civil rights organization.

Land Bank "main hurdle" for Adivasi, other dwellers' forest rights in Jharkhand

By Gladson Dungdung*
A village called Perka is situated at Murhu development block in Khunti district of Jharkhand, which is approximately 55 kilometers from Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand. A hundred and thirteen families reside in this village. As per the Census 2011, the village hasa  total population of 581, of which 300 are males while 281 are females.

2019 polls: "Mainstream" Indians accepted Hindu nationalism for their safety, security

By Nava Thakuria*
Amidst talk of majority-based politics and Hindu-centric propagandas vertically dividing the country and one man worship, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) triumphed again in the recently concluded national elections of India. There was an undercurrent of cautious nationalism, which led to the NDA crossed the tally of winners up to 353 in the 543 member Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.

India's two-thirds of under-5 deaths occur among newborns in first 28 days: Report

By Rajiv Shah
Top global NGO Save the Children’s latest report marking its 100 years of existence, “Changing Lives in Our Lifetime: Global Childhood Report 2019” has said that, while there is “much child survival progress to celebrate around the world, the job is nowhere near done”, India has scored poorly on this score. Especially focusing on deaths in early infanthood, the report, even as refusing to provide comparative figures, says, death rates of children in the first days after birth in India “have remained stubbornly high.”

Special status "not exceptional" to J&K, exists in Himachal, North-East, Andamans

Counterview Desk
National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah recently said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot remove Article 35-A and Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), adding, "Let him be as powerful as he likes, he cannot remove Article 370 and article 35-A...” Taking a similar stance, his son, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah had earlier said his party, National Conference (NC), was fighting the Lok Sabha elections for the protection of the state's special status and not on developmental issues.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

Maoist links? Jharkhand Dalit rights activist arrested for "opposing" Mandal dam

Counterview Desk
The civil rights organization Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), describing the recent arrest of Naresh Bhuiyan, an active member of the Bhartiya Bhuiyan Vikas Parishad and currently involved in protests against the Mandal Dam, as “unlawful”, has demanded that the state government should “immediately” initiate an independent enquiry into efforts to brand him as a Maoist.

A "dangerous" trend: Upper caste rulers of higher education resorting to torture

By Sheshu Babu*
'That the caste system must be abolished if the Hindu society is to be reconstructed on the basis of equality, goes without saying. Untouchability has its roots in the caste system. They cannot expect the Brahmins to rise in revolt against the caste system. Also we cannot rely upon the non- Brahmins and ask them to fight our battle' -- Dr BR Ambedkar
*** Discrimination on caste and communal lines seems to be spreading to many parts of the country. A Dalit youth was thrashed and was beaten up for sitting on a chair and eating in front of upper caste community in district of Tehri (Uttarakhand) and succumbed to the injuries days later.
With great difficulty, the family registered a case against the accused upper caste people. Even in higher education institutions, this disease of caste differentiation is taking the lives of lower caste students.
The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula is still waiting for justice and, meanwhile, many Dalits and Muslims are still…

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Unstated, subtle competition is "turning" religious tourism into big business

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Last year the number of foreign tourists who came to India was about 90 million. By contrast domestic tourism totaled over 1,400 million visits, clearly suggesting that its implied economics are far bigger than the foreign business. It also suggests that very many of our people make several trips for tourism every year.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Why blame opposition? 2014 verdict had told civil society where India was heading

By Joe Athialy*
“The winner takes it all, the loser standing small” -- ABBA
Now that BJP won has emphatically, everything BJP did is right, ‘touching a chord with the common people’, one is a Chanakya, and another a giant. Every other party and leader got it all wrong. Their slogans did not strike. Their strategies were wrong, they woke up to forming alliances late, and all that.

Post-Balakot 9% increase in support to Modi; "not" BJP or Amit Shah: An Ahmedabad view

By Rajiv Shah
Elections were over, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already won a landslide, yet the poll fever seemed to continue unabated among the middle classes of Ahmedabad. Ordinary citizens of Ahmedabad, called Amdavadis, are quite sparing when it comes to bets. They ensure that they do not splurge. One of the bets that I came across on the D-day, May 23, was to tell the most correct number of seats the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would win.

Proposed amendment to Indian Forest Act may "displace" traditional forest dwellers

By Santosh Gedam*
Reserve and protected forest ideas evolved during colonial period to allow British government unfettered access to further its interests by trampling rights of forest dwellers.
Forest governance has an interesting history in India from British East Indies Company trying to capture it for timber from the Malabar region of west coast after impressing Britain Royal Navy with Malabar timber warship in the eighteenth century to British government taking over its control to serve colonial projects.

NDA win decisive, but "questions" remain: Joblessness, farm crisis, lower GDP

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury
It is a decisive win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP and NDA. And we need to explore the reasons too. As for the Congress-led UPA, the situation appears only a little better than what it hitherto was. And as for the regional parties, they seem to be on the decline, except for the YSR Congress in Andhra, the BJD in Odisha, the TRS in Telengana and the DMK in Tamil Nadu (largely in South India). The Left is totally left out.

2019 polls: Why just blame EVM? Why not probe if non-political Left, Bahujans can ally?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
India has ultimately 'decided' as what kind of government we want. Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru truly lost today as Narendra Modi was actually fighting election against him. Throughout the campaign BJP did not give any 'hisab' of its governance but spoke about the past of Gandhis.

Vadodara river development projects to further "aggravate" waterlogging, flooding

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Gujarat government officials, including state chief secretary, and senior officials responsible for urban development and environment and forests, a group of concerned citizens* led by senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati have sought urgent action to prevent anticipated disasters, flooding, and water logging due to deliberate negligence regarding the reclamation of ravines in Gujarat's cultural capital Vadodara.

Eerie quiet in North Gujarat village where Dalit groom was stopped from riding horse

By Rajiv Shah
As one reaches Lhor, one can sense an atmosphere of unease gripping one of the five villages where Dalit wedding processions was recently blocked by non-Dalits in this small medium-sized North Gujarat village, barely 30 kilometres off the seat of the state's political power centre, Gandhinagar. Despite punitive steps, the village remains as divided on caste lines, just it was before the incident which shot into prominence after May 6, when the bridegroom Mehul was not allowed to ride a horse in a wedding procession on the main village street.

EVM-VVPATs: Micro-controller used not OTP type as claimed by Election Commission

By Venkatesh Nayak*
All seven phases of voting to elect members of the 17th Lok Sabha have been completed. The votes will be counted on May 23, 2019. Soon after the last phase of polling ended, pollsters had a field day with their exit poll findings about the likely performance of political parties and pre-poll/post-poll alliances. So did the bulls in the stock market the next day.

Thoothukudi firing: A year after no FIR registered against cops, rights groups targeted

Counterview Desk
People’s Watch, a human rights organisation, in its new report, “A Year After Thoothukudi Burned”, has said it is "surprised" by the silence of the National Human Rights Commission, the CBI and the Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission of inquiry over the police firing on peaceful protestors in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, "brutally" killing 11.

Punjab's farmers, except big ones, earning less than what they are forced to spend: Study

By Rajiv Shah
Rural Punjab may be richer compared to the rest of India's rural areas, but a recent study has raised the alarm that, except for big farmers, all other categories – marginal, small, semi-medium and medium in accordance with their farmsize – are forced to spend more than what they actually earn. Titled “Levels of Living of Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in Rural Punjab”, the study insists, the result is, “Large sections of the farm households have been facing a great deal of distress and increased debt burden.”

Post-Pulwama anti-minority, Islamophobic WhatsApp messages "up" from 24% to 41%

By Our Representative
A new research has shown that if between November 14 to February 13, 2019, as many as 23.84 percent the percentage of messages on WhatsApp groups were allegedly “anti-Muslim, Islamophobic, and deeply inflammatory with an intent to create disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill-will between Hindus and Muslims”, these sharply went up after the Pulwama attack on February 14.

Eviction threat "looms large" over Odisha tribals' 1.45 lakh forest land rights claims

By Our Representative
A workshop organized jointly by the Mayurbhanj Adivasi Bikash Manch (MABM) and the Mayurbhaj Jala, Jungle, Jamin and Jana Adhikar Manch (MJJJJAM) on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and the Panchati Raj Extension to Scheduled Area (PESA) Act has been told that a total of 1,45,750 individual forest rights (IFR) claims out of 6,17,935 filed at the gram sabha level in Odisha have been rejected and are under "serious threat" after the February 13 Supreme Court (SC) eviction order.

Why fruits of India's new found prosperity haven't flowed to low income layers

By Moin Qazi*
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
One of the most significant goals of inclusive and equitable development is poverty elimination. Although India has made rapid progress in several fields, its impressive economic growth has not trickled down to the larger population. India's millions still continue to face mounting daily challenges and are struggling to meet the bare basic necessities of subsistence; education, health, housing, employment and adequate food.

Jignesh Mevani: Why are non-Dalit social workers shy of fighting untouchability?

By Our Representative
Senior Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani, raking up a major controversy, has wondered why non-Dalit social workers and civil society activists, who have been working among the poorer sections of society such as maldhari cattle breeders and factory workers, environmentalists and farmer rights activists have not cared to raise the issue of untouchability in Gujarat society.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Modi's cloud theory: Why do intellectuals, elites "support" such irrational thinking?

By Sheshu Babu*
"The backward classes have come to realise that after all education is the greatest material benefit for which they can fight....' -- Dr BR Ambedkar
Past few years have seen the rise of many 'educated' persons supporting statements of politicians who propagate irrational and/ or unscientific ideas. Whether 'pushpak vimaan' being discovered long before present planes or 'Rama setu' bridge, despite questionable scientific explanation, many academicians and scientists have been supporting and trying to 'logically' prove their correctness in every way possible.

Transparency? Modi govt "refused" to divulge information on Lokpal selection process

Counterview Desk
The National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to the Lokpal Selection Committee, which consists of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chairperson, and members, chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, and eminent jurist Shri Mukul Rohatgi, has taken strong exception to alleged lack of transparency in the selection of chair and members of the Lokpal.

With power cuts happening under Congress in MP, past woes "haunt" state again

Counterview Desk
Amidst apprehensions that Pragya Singh Thakur -- whose BJP candidature from Bhopal was justified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his "symbolic answer to all those who falsely labeled the rich Hindu civilization as terrorist" -- might prove costly for the saffron party, the question that is being asked is: Will the Congress be able to take advantage of the situation?

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Top African academic "questions" Ghana varsity decision to remove Gandhi statue

Counterview Desk
In December 2018, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was removed from the University of Ghana’s campus in response to protests from students and staff. They argued that Gandhi was a racist who denigrated black Africans. Here, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, who was the university’s Vice-Chancellor when the statue was erected, he explains why the university under him made the decision to accept the statue, a gift from the Government of India in 2016.

Adanis' Myanmar port investment "not linked" with Australian coalmining project

Counterview Desk
In a rejoinder forwarded to Counterview, the Adani Group has said that its Myanmar investment in port “does not breach Australian, US, UN or other international sanctions.” Reacting to the story headlined “Adanis tieup with Myanmar army ‘involved’ in Rohingiya genocide: Aussie rights alarm”, quoting a “Guardian” report, the rejoinder said, “Adani rejects the insinuation that Myanmar investment is unethical or will compromise human rights”.

“Revolt” of Bengal’s lumpen bhadrolok against Muslims, Bahujanised lower castes

By Kuriakose Mathew
From famines to partition violence to political killings to colonial witch-hunt to confessional riots, millions of Bengalis have died unnaturally. The famines of 1770 and 1942 killed around 1.3 crore people. Preventable diseases and poverty too have killed millions of Bengalis. One does not even know how many have died in the partition of Bengal. One also does not know how many have been killed in Mughal, Maratha, and British wars! Natural death has been a luxury in lower Gangetic plains.

Adanis tieup with Myanmar army "involved" in Rohingiya genocide: Aussie rights alarm

By Our Representative
In a fresh round of controversy following the recent environmental hurdle to its decade-old dollars 16.5 billion coalmining project in Australia’s Queensland province, the country’s human rights groups have accused India’s powerful Adani Group of entering into a deal with Myanmar military-linked company, reportedly accused by UN investigators of committing genocide and crimes against humanity.

Dalit wedding processions row: Rights leaders question Gujarat CM's silence, cop inertia

By Our Representative
Addressing media in the wake of a series of incidents -- in which dominant rural castes stopped Dalit wedding processions to pass through village streets --  rights leaders Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA of Gujarat state assembly, and Martin Macwan, founder of Gujarat’s biggest Dalit rights organization, Navsarjan Trust, have accused the state administration’s alleged indifference towards what they described as clear examples of untouchability prevailing in a state, whose rulers claim to have overcome discriminatory practices.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

2019 polls: India's free for all vs Singapore's state controlled campaign, style, content

By Atanu Roy*
In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect do mention about a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability.

$16.5 billion Aussie mining project: Adanis blame anti-coal crusaders, officials for delay

By Our Representative
India’s powerful industrial house, Adani Group, is said to be terribly upset over what it calls further delaying tactics adopted by the Queensland government in finalizing an ecosystem management plan for groundwater management and an environment plan to protect an endangered bird species, black-throated finch, for kick-starting its controversial 16.5 billion dollar coalmining project in Australia. The project has been languishing for a decade due to environmental hurdles.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

BJP "ignores", Congress "downplays" land distribution to Dalits, Adivasis, Backwards

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Almost all analysts who have commented on political parties' manifestos have ignored the scheduled caste) SC, scheduled tribe (ST) and socially and educationally backward class (SEdBC) aspects. Rare exceptional analysts have referred to SCs, STs and SEdBCs briefly without being able to deal with important specificities. Even self-adulatory articles of party leaders and propagandists share this blindness.

Shyamaprasad Mukherjee had "supported" Kashmir autonomy, opposed Quit India

By Our Representative
A new book by Subhash Gatade, "Hindutva's Second Coming", published by Media House, has revealed that Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, considered by BJP as one of the main Hindutva ideologues, who died in 1953 under "debatable circumstances" after being arrested for opposing the special status to Kashmir, had "initially accepted" the inevitability of Article 370, which provides autonomy the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

Top Govt of India institute told to withdraw report calling onion, garlic, eggs "tamasik"

Counterview Desk
A group of signatories -- 10 organizations and 94 individuals* -- including activists, academicians, lawyers, doctors, journalists and researchers, have sent an open letter to scientists of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), asking it to withdraw its report submitted to Government of Karnataka regarding the appropriateness of the food being supplied by Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) as part of Mid-day Meals scheme.

AAP's Atishi being shamelessly attacked, but why was Vishwas' "sexist" view ignored?

By Nandini Oza*
The recent abusive-sexist attack on Atishi, Aam Admi Party (AAP) Lok Sabha candidate for the parliamentary elections, 2019, is most deplorable. I condemn the same in strongest words first as a woman and then as a person in public life. I truly hope the Delhi police will book the perpetrators and soon. This is the least the Delhi police could do. This episode also shows the extent to which women are vulnerable to abusive and sexist mindset prevalent in the country.

Why is this Gujarat BJP "heavyweight" so upset with state High Court?

By RK Misra*
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. This is what is hoped in the case of Gujarat minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, whose election victory in 2017 by a mere 327 votes was challenged in the Gujarat High Court by his Congress rival Ashwin Rathod. As the case winds down, all eyes are on the judgment that will come out.

Loot of people’s money by banks? RBI "fails" to issue guidelines on charges

Counterview Desk
The Financial Accountability Network (FAN), a collective of civil society organisations, unions, people's movements and concerned citizens to raise the issues of accountability and transparency of the national financial institutions, has said that India's banks should "stop imposing bank charges on poor for flourishing the rich in India".

Will Universal Basic Income replace a string of welfare subsidies for India's poor?

By Moin Qazi*
Universal basic income (UBI) is an old idea that is gaining traction as governments look to revamp their social safety nets. India is the most serious new aspirant. India is actively weighing the idea and the main opposition Congress has already promised that it will implement a variation of a universal basic income (UBI) targeted at 50 million families if it wins the country’s upcoming national election.

Govt of India shouldn't use FCRA to target missionaries, human rights groups: USCIRF

Counterview Desk
The just-released United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF’s) “2019 Annual Report” has said that India is one of the dozen-odd countries where USCIRF has found “deteriorating religious freedom conditions” as also “increased securitization and politicization of religion.” In India, it adds, “It is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.”

Will BJP maintain its advantage over first-time voters? Congress keeps fingers crossed

By Mahesh Trivedi*
Polling in five of the seven phases in India’s crucial general elections has been wound up, yet political parties still don’t have the foggiest idea whether young voters, who form two-thirds of India’s 1.3-billion population, will tilt the scales in their favour. In each of the 543 parliamentary constituencies has a significant 10 to 15 per cent electors aged under 35 years who have the power to swing the vote in any direction.

Jharkhand witnesses 9% decline in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme jobs

By Debmalya Nandy
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) functionaries were recently out of duty for nearly two-and-a-half months, as they were protesting and demanding for better remuneration and facilities. The result was, its implementation across the state came to a standstill during a period which happened to be the major working time after the paddy harvesting was over.