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Institute special task force to investigate rising Dalit atrocities: Uttarakhand CM told

By Our Representative
Several senior activists under the banner of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) in an open letter to Trivendra Rawat, chief minister, Uttarakhand, and Vijay Bardhwal, president, State Women's Commission, have regretted that incidents of rape of Dalits girls is constantly on the rise in the state.
Referring to the May 30 incident, in which 24-year-old Vipin Panwar raped a mine-year-old minor Dalit girl his village in Nainbagh Tehsil, Jaunpur, Tehri Garhwal, the letter said, efforts by the family to get justice failed, but things came to light only after the girl's mother reached Dehradun with her unconscious daughter for treatment.
Pointing out that the accused is absconding, NAPM said, four years ago, a young woman of the Dalit family was gangraped by young men of the village. She was later murdered. The matter was suppressed under the pretext that it would bring bad name to the village.
NAPM said, the incident took place in the vill…

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.

Why nobody objected to Gautam Gambhir, Sunny Deol in t-shirt, jean?: Activists

By Our Representative
Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s excitement on their first day as MPs was overshadowed by a barrage of sexism over their ‘non- sanskari’ outfits, a group of civil society activists have said in a statement. According to Aarushi Nigam, Divya Kaushik, Riya Sharma, Ruman Ganguly, and Anulekha Agarwal, both Bengali actors and first-time MPs "were certainly excited to take them on when they posted pictures from their new workplace on social media."
Hit by misogynistic comments, the activists say, "Their choice of workwear – jeans and a white button-down shirt for Mimi, a wine-coloured peplum suit for Nusrat – was the first and last word on their political competence for many."
“You’re not on vacation”, “they have mistaken Parliament for Kolkata’s Nicco Park or City Centre”, “this is not a photo studio, this is a place where you should fight for people’s rights and legislate”, “keep some respect towards your Bengali society” were some of the &quo…

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.

721 hate crimes in 2015-18, whither Modi's "promise" to minorities?: Amnesty

By Our Representative
Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting his second consecutive term, top international human rights organization Amnesty International has said that the recent crackdown by the Indian authorities – treating human rights organisations as criminal enterprises and human rights defenders as criminals – is inconsistent with the “recent promise” made by Modi to ensure that minorities should be made to live without fear.
According to Amnesty, between September 2015 and December 2018, Amnesty India “recorded a total of 721 incidents of hate crimes through its website ‘Halt the Hate’, adding, incidents documented by it “of hate crimes against people from marginalized communities, including Dalits, Adivasis, transgender persons, and migrants, and members of racial or religious minority groups” suggest that he has to take concrete actions for inclusive India.
"Hate crimes motivated by religious bias had risen to a decade-high of 93", Amnesy said, add…

Andhra Church leaders lend "all support" to Jagan Reddy

By Our Representative
The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), an apex body of the Bishops and Church Heads of mainline Churches and major Christian Denominations, has in a representation to new chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has said that it hopes he would fulfill “the hopes, aspirations and expectations of the people, especially of the poor and marginalized, without any fright, hatred, discrimination, favoritism and partiality.”
“May God grant you wisdom and discernment, courage and fortitude, generosity and magnanimity”, it said, adding, “We pray in a special way that God may enable and empower you to provide good governance free of corruption and crime, and casteism and communalism.”
APFC further said, “We, the Archbishops, Bishops, Church Heads and Leaders of Churches assure your Government wholehearted support and cooperation in the implementation of the Navaratnalu of your Government for the development of our State and prosperity of our people.”
The representation…

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.

Women's rights organization declares support to complainant against CJI

By Our Representative
Well-known women's rights organization, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), in an open letter to the complainant in the Chief Justice of India (CJI) sexual harassment case, has assured her that WSS will work with her "to ensure that due process is followed and that all institutions are held accountable, even at the highest court of the country."
Calling the "harassment" she and her family face even since she raised her voice against CJI Ranjan Gogoi as brazenly patriarchal, the letter praises her "resolve" to speak out against CJI.
Saying that it suggests her "resilience", the letter continues, her resolve "has forced into public domain, questions of accountability of the highest judicial body of this country, and demands that they demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and justice, which they are supposed to uphold."
Signed by WSS conveners Ajita, Nisha, Rinchin and Shalini, th…

Punjab-Haryana High Court order "encouraging" UP govt to continue with fake encounters

By Our Representative
The Uttar Pradesh civil rights organization Rihai Manch has sharply criticized the Punjab and Haryana High Court for saying that the two State governments should form a law to “finish off” criminals on the pattern of UP within six months, alleging it is speaking the language of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
In a statement, the Rihai Manch said, a delegation of the civil rights body met the family members of Shahzad after they raised questions over the manner in which he was killed in a police encounter in Saharanpur. The delegation consisted of Ravish Alam, Ashu Chaudhary, Engineer Usman, Ash Muhammad, Amir Ahmed, Arsh Tyagi and Sajid.
Following the meeting, the Rihai Manch issued a statement, where it criticized the Yogi government for the law which gives powers to the police powers to finish off gangsters and anti-social elements, insisting the High Court order has come at a time when backwards, Dalits and minorities are being targeted in UP.
In many ca…

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…

Rattled Congress "tells" media: Don't fall for rumour mongering, speculations

By Our Representative
Rattled by the report that Congress president Rahul Gandhi criticised at least thee senior Congress leaders -- former Union minister P Chidambaram, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot -- for placing their sons above the party during the Lok Sabha polls, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala has blamed media for falling on "conjectures, speculations, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour mongering".
Claiming that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) as the highest decision making body was involved merely in "exchange of ideas and take corrective action", Surjewala said, members of CWC had expressed their views in the meeting dated May 25, 2019, looking into "the reverses in the Lok Sabha elections as an opportunity for radical changes and a complete organizational overhaul, for which it authorized Rahul Gandhi."
Calling such media attitude "uncalled for and unwarranted&q…

Adivasi professor in Jharkhand arrested for Facebook post supporting beef eating

By Our Representative
Jeetrai Hansda, a tribal activist and professor at the Government School and College for Women, Sakchi, in Jharkhand has been arrested almost two years after he wrote a Facebook post asserting his community’s right to eat beef. Hansda's arrest is based of a complaint filed against by RSS' student wing Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad.
Arrested two days after the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results, the complaint was ‘investigated’ by inspector Anil Kumar Singh of Sakchi police station, Jamshedpur, Hansda wrote that the Adivasi community in India has had a long tradition of eating beef and ceremonial cow sacrifice. He had added, it is their democratic and cultural right to consume beef.
Supporting Hansda, Dasmath Hansdah, chief of the Majhi Pargana Mahal, in a letter to the vice-chancellor said that there were no inaccuracies in Hansda’s post, calling the assertions made by him a “truthful representation of the cultural and religious traditions o…

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.

Lok Sabha mandate "one-sided", casts aspersions on poll process: Sandeep Pandey, others

By Our Representative
A group of social activists led by senior academic Sandeep Pandey, supporting Mayawati’s demand to re-conduct polls using ballot papers, have said that :the manner in which recently conducted Lok Sabha elections have given an unprecedented one-sided mandate favouring Bhartiya Janta Party "casts aspersions on electoral process.”
Organized under the Lok Rajniti Manch, they said in a statement, “It appears as if BJP had managed a grip to control all institutions in democracy to get its desired results. We demand that to ensure citizens of India continue to believe in democracy, 100% VVPAT and EVMs data be tallied.”
The statement adds, “If irregularity to large extent is found then as demanded by national leader of Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati, entire election be conducted using ballot paper.” The statement has been also signed by Rajeev Yadav, Gaurav Singh (Lucknow), Yugal Kishore Shastri (Ayodhya), Faisal Khan (Delhi), Lubna Sarwath (Hyderabad), Gurumurti …

Post-poll debacle, surging oil prices is Congress' "top" priority

By Our Representative
The Congress Working Comittee (CWC), even as unanimously "rejecting" Rahul Gandhi's resignation as party president following the poll debacle, in its list "challenges" India faces has put "the issue of surging oil prices post-sanctions against Iran as also price rise stares us in the face" at the very top.
Then comes the banking sector which is allegedly in "dire straits with uncontrolled and unchecked non-performing assets (NPAs) soaring to nearly Rs 12 lakh crore, over last five years, threatening the very stability of banking operations", followed by "financial viability of non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), wherein hard earned savings of the people’s life are invested."
This is followed by "the downturn of economy coupled with lack of private investment and a steep fall in consumption patterns, point towards grave economic slowdown", the "looming job crisis" , the "agrarian c…

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.

Surat fire tragedy: Gujarat govt hasn't learned from past tragedies, says SUCI

By Our Representative
In a memorandum to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Gujarat, a political group, has said that the Takshshila fire tragedy in Surat, which has led to the death of 23 students, suggests that the Gujarat government has not learned any lesson over the last two years, during which period 11 incidents of fire tragedy leading to the loss of 27 lives took place in the city.
“Has your government learned any lessons from it? Or the same noise, same reaction of strict action by your government to forget it and to move on further?”, SUCI’s Meenakshi Joshi said, adding, “Every day, In our country there are 59 deaths due to fire incidents. This is much more than death due to terrorism or crime.”
Asserting that “fire safety norms are never complied in Gujarat”, Joshi said, “Three fire tragedies took place in past six months in Gujarat. Now after the incident in Takhshila tuition class, the government suddenly is awakened again to…

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.

Demand for 50% EVM verification with VVPATs: Missed call campaign reached 2.5 lakh on May 23

By Our Representative
In May first week, several political activists got together and launched a missed call campaign (on the phone No 9667655855) in support of the demand that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50 percent electronic voting machine (EVM) data with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.
During the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on May 23, as per the Supreme Court guidelines, only two percent EVM data will be verified with VVPAT slips. As of May 21, morning (10.30 am) 83,994 persons gave a missed call supporting the demand of 50 percent EVM verification with VVPAT. On the day of the polls, May 23, this number touched 2.50 lakh.
At the same time, senior political activist and environmentalist Mahesh Pandya had simultaneously launched a petition through change.org with the same demand of 50 percent EVM verification in each Assembly Constituency with VVPAT. As of May 21, 10.30 am, 9,973 people signed the petition. On M…

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.

Guard EVMs, role of Election Commission not neutral: Concerned citizens appeal

By Our Representative
A group of concerned citizens have in an appeal said they are "deeply perturbed" with reports coming in from various parts of the country of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and even a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) being transported in unauthorized trucks and private vehicles, allegedly to exchange EVMs from strong rooms and replace them with alternate EVMs.
Pointing out that there are also videos of EVMs being stored in unauthorized storage houses and shops, the appeal says, "While the Election Commission (EC) has denied over years that EVMs can be tampered, many of us have been raising the issue of EVM tampering from Gujarat 2002 election onwards."
Signed by academicians, litterateurs, trade union leaders, social activists and film makers, the appeal says, "We are concerned that voters’ verdict sealed inside the EVM machines is sought to be tampered. We strongly believe that the responsibility of ensuring that the Voters’ V…

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.”

Vidyasagar statue vandalization culmination of hate culture: Gujarat memorandum

By Our Representative
About 45 Gujarat activists have, in a memorandum to the President of India on the vandalisation of the statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar last week in West Bengal, have said that the incident is "the culmination of the culture and politics of hatred that has unleashed in our country." The memorandu, however, refrains from naming any political party.
"Words fail to condemn the vandalisation of the bust of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, one of the pioneers of Indian social reform movement, during the election campaign of Loksabha poll at Kolkata", the memorandum reads, adding, "Starting from Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Tagore and many were inspired by Vidyasagar. Devaluating the greatness of renaissance and freedom struggle will push us to the dark age of feudal society."
Continues the memorandum, "A culture of talibisation has usurped in the country. Statues of Gandhiji, Ambedkar, Periyar, and Lenin have been vandalized in recent past. Vand…

No minority community midday meal scheme cook-cum-helper in Gujarat: Govt of India

By Our Representative
A Government of India fact-sheet, released late last year on the midday meal scheme across India, has been brought to light to show that Gujarat is one of the two major states with zero minority community cook-cum-helpers. The other state is Chhattisgarh. In the country as a whole, out of a total of 25,12,111 cook-cum-helpers, 6.14% or 1,54,438 are from minority communities.
Out of 96,329 cook-cum-helpers in Gujarat, 10,887 or 11.3% are from scheduled castes (SCs), 22,542 or 22.4% are from scheduled to tribes (STs), 43,705 or 45.37% from other backward classes (OBCs), and 19,195 or 19.92% are from the general category. SC population of Gujarat is less than 7%, while there are 14% STs in Gujarat.
A Right to Information (RTI) plea filed by a senior minority rights activist failed to get any information on this score from the Gajarat government. Mujahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee told CV News that the official concerned sought to provide the sa…

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.

Withdraw FIR, "fake" charges against Bihar TU leaders in Araria: NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a top human rights network, has taken strong exception to FIR and "fake" charges registered by the Araria (Bihar) District Police against activists Kamayani Swami, Ranjit Paswan and 150 un-named persons of the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) for sitting in "peaceful satyagraha" against bureaucratic delays and corruption in Nagar Parishad Araria.
In a statement, NAPM said, On the May 7, 2019 around 200 members of JJSS, a local union of workers and marginal farmers, and residents of Baijnathpur in Araria District, Bihar, gathered in front of the office of the executive officer of Araria Nagar Parishad. Using the satyagraha method as a means of non-violent protest, people were demanding release of money in “Sabke liye Awaas” , “Swachh Bharat” and “Lohia Swachh Bihar Mission”schemes and social security pension scheme.
A representative body of JJSS even met the officials, and later executive …

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.

As Narmada goes dry, environmentalist asks: Where's Gujarat govt's water policy?

By Our Representative
Senior Ahmedabad-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has sharply criticised the Gujarat government for failing to come up with water policy despite "grim" situation across the state. Pandya, who heads Paryavaran Mitra, told a seminar jointly called by the Gujarat Institute for Civil Engineers and Architects and Public Cause and Environment that the water level in the Sardar Sarovar dam is 119 metres, yet Narmada downstream is dry.
"Sea waters are intruding into Narmada, salinity has gripped the villages along two sides of of the river, yet chief minister Vijay Rupani is dreaming of water tourism for 12 kilometres downstream of the dam, by filling up 32 metres water", Pandya said, adding, "Plans to have a barrage at Bhadbhut at the mouth of Narmada allegedly to stop salinity ingress invading the river are being toyed since 2012, yet nothing has happened."
Pointing out that the plan to bring to life dead rivers too has gone awry, Pa…

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?

High Court seeks explanation: Delhi govt attitude towards food security "lackadaisical"

By Our Representative
A Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Bhambhani has sought to know from the Delhi state government if any action has been taken to put in place the statutory grievance redress framework under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
It was hearing a contempt petition filed by the civil rights organization, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) against the state government for its "failure" to comply with the order of the court dated September 1, 2017.
The bench directed the representative of the food department to file a detailed affidavit along with relevant documents on steps taken since the order of September 1, 2017 and where the file was currently pending.
Expressing its dissatisfaction with the reply filed by the state government to the contempt petition, the bench observed the government attitude was lackadaisical, as the rules for grievance redress and accountability have still not been promulgated …

Central, Gujarat govts told to clarify: Why hide facts on pollution in Narmada Dam, canals?

By Our Representative
In a letter to Gujarat and Central government authorities, top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has wondered why is it such a big secret that it is refusing to share information on reasons behind the presence of sulphide and decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Sardar Sarovar Dam and its canals.
Referring to water samples taken in February 2019 by his team of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists, Prajapati said, though he had declared the pollution level, and informed about it to officials concerned on February 12, 2019, he has still not received any reply.
The letter, sent, among others, to the chairman, Narmada Control Authority, Gujarat chief secretary, and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) chairman, says that the state government declared that the concerned authorities were seeking the help of the Oceanography Department, which has the equipment and expertise to collect samples from the base of reservoirs, wondering what has happene…

Youth in Bhopal say they want to vote Modi, as they "haven't heard" the secular narrative

By Our Representative
Senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, known for her anti-Modi slant, has regretted that youth in Bhopal have not heard the "other narrative" on why BJP shouldn't in these elections. Talking with a group outside a sweet shop, when she asked whom do they want to win, the immediate "reply was Modi".
"I spoke to them for 15 minutes. I got their attention within 2-3 minutes. They listened. I could see on their faces they had never heard another narrative", Hashmi said in a recent Facebook post. Bhopal is witnessing a keen battle between Malegaon terror accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from BJP and veteran Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh.
Hashmi, who is known to have campaigned against BJP, especially Modi, ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots, admitted, "I have maintained since 2002 secularism has not failed. Our reach has failed. We are too small a numger to counter RSS propaganda."
Recalling that her organization, Anhad…