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Showing posts from June, 2019

Fresh FIR? Rajasthan govt isn't enquiring into 'false' lynching deaths since 2015: PUCL

Counterview Desk
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), one of India's top human rights organizations, taking strong exception to "false FIRs" and "fabricated charge-sheets" against late Pehlu Khan and all other dairy farmers booked for cow smuggling, has said latest FIRs show, the present government, led by senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, has still not bothered to enquire into false cases or in any of the lynchings that took place since 2015.

Under attack from Govt of India, Greenpeace praises Gujarat solar 'model'

By Rajiv Shah
In a surprise move, a new report by Greenpeace India, the environmental NGO whose Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) license was controversially cancelled in December 2016, followed by an Enforcement Directorate (ED) freezing its bank accounts in October 2018, has showered praise on a scheme to solarize agriculture launched in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, Gujarat.

Religious freedom? US seeks to 'nail' India on anti-conversion, foreign funding laws

Counterview Desk
Is the United States all set to make the alleged lack of religious freedom in India a major plank during future negotiations? Not only has US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched upon this  during his recent visit to New Delhi, insisting upon the need to "speak out strongly" in favour religious freedom.

Triple talaq Bill: Will Modi, his govt 'address' the plight of Tabrez Ansari's widow?

By Adv Masood Peshimam
Those on campaign trail to justify persecution and atrocities never want any opposition to arise against them. Efforts are made to ensure that any murmur of protest against those who unleash incidents of violence against the weak and the feeble is nipped in the bud. Not without reason, Muslims find themselves as political orphans in India today. Today, they are tasting the bitter fruits of a hostile social and political climate.

Indian Railways 'plans' privatisation amidst lackadaisical attitude towards general class

By Sandeep Pandey, B Ramakrishna Raju*
It appears that finally it is here. Soon after Union minister for railways Piyush Goyal said in a press conference that there are no plans to privatise Railways, either now or ever, it has been revealed that government is thinking of inviting private operators to run passenger trains on low congestion and tourist routes.

Limestone mining in Bhavnagar to 'impact' livelihood, water bodies, Asiatic lions

By Our Representative
The Khedut Ekta Manch – Gujarat (KEMG), a non-profit farmers’ organization based in Ahmedabad, in a representation to the High Court-appointed committee to study the impact of limestone mining in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, has that there are “very serious issues" would emerge in the wake of the decision to sanction of mining lease in the area "without the prior informed consent of thousands of families and people, who are to be divested of their livelihoods.”

Narmada dam stands like statue, not satiating Kutch-Saurashtra thirst: Medha to Modi

Counterview Desk
Commenting on the Prime Minister's recent speech in Parliament, top Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and her colleagues* have said that Narendra Modi's statement on Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on Narmada river is "rootless and proofless", insisting, the Madhya Pradesh government’s stand on the issue, of inability to provide more water to the dam, is "rational and realistic".

Foreign funding law 'misused' to target civil society: Amnesty, Human Rights Watch

Counterview Desk
Two top rights groups with presence in several countries, including India, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have said that the “criminal case” against the Lawyers Collective, a Delhi-based high profile NGO with some of the most well-known Supreme Court advocates as its office bearers, is the latest example of how the foreign funding law is being used by the Indian authorities to “harass outspoken rights groups”.

The monster Indira Gandhi 'unleashed' in June 1975 plagues us even today, unabated

By Shantanu Basu*
June 25, 1975, 1400 hours: St Columba’s, Delhi, was on summer vacation. Its swimming pool was however, open, and I had the 1400-1600 hours slot. I would cycle from Shahjahan Road to school (GPO), about 5 km away. Traffic was far lower those days and cycling was very safe. As I wound my way down India Gate, Ashok Road, Windsor Circle, et al, traffic seemed to have disappeared from roads altogether.

What is to be done? 'Elected' authoritarian regimes replace 'kings' as rulers

By Sheshu Babu
"People have always been and they always will be stupid victims of deceit and self- deception in politics", wrote VI Lenin in "State and Revolution", a treatise leader of the Russian Revolution wrote in 1917. With the spread of authoritarian tendencies of rulers almost in every part of the world, a revision of Lenin's approach may give some idea of how to deal with the situation.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Planned effort to 'wind down' Mumbai's BEST bus service step by step: Report

Counterview Desk
The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), a civic transport and electricity provider public body based in Mumbai, was originally set up in 1873 as a tramway company called Bombay Tramway Company Limited. The company set up a captive thermal power station at Wadi Bunder in November 1905 to generate electricity for its trams and supply electricity to the city, and re-branded itself to Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways (BEST) Company.

Jharkhand mob lynching: Adivasis protest police 'inaction', FIR against victims

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM), a civil rights network, on Monday sponsored a protest against the police action against the Adivasi victims of the lynching which took on April 10, 2019, in Jurmu village of Dumri block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The incident led the death of Prakash Lakda, aged 50.

Sabarmati 'cleaned up' swimming pool style: Untreated effluents discharged in river

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, senior Gujarat environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have taken strong objection to the recent clean-up drive of the about 11.3 km stretch of Sabarmati riverbed undertaken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), terming it as “swimming pool type clean-up.” The river’s total length is 371 km.

How Gujarat govt imposed curbs on livestock export for 'fear' of losing BJP vote share

By RK Misra*
Insidious are the ways authorities function, preaching one thing, practicing quite another. Administrative muscle-flexing to suit political goals was on display when the BJP-led Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat banned the export of livestock days ahead of Eid. Even the Narendra Modi-led government expressed its intent to confirm it countrywide, but stopped short of doing so.

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.

Despite NDA gaining 5%, geography of its votes only 'marginally' changed in five yrs

By Christophe Z Guilmoto*
Much ink has already been spilled on the 2019 general elections in India. The sheer scale of the triumph of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the defeat of the Indian National Congress (INC) has impressed commentators as the NDA, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gained 353 seats among the total of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha (the Indian parliament). The NDA has secured seats in almost all Indian state and the BJP clearly ceased to be the strictly north Indian party it once was.

FIR against Lawyers’ Collective a ‘witch-hunt’ of outspoken human rights defenders

Counterview Desk
In a statement, Ravi Kiran Jain* and Dr V Suresh** of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have said the CBI’s FIR against the Lawyers’ Collective and senior advocate Anand Grover is an undisguised attempt to silence not just the top human rights organization but is also meant to “serve as a lesson to all others who dare to challenge the Central Government.”
Calling the FIR “motivated, vengeful and vituperative act”, PUCL said the Lawyers’ Collective, which has for 38 years of its existence has taken up cases related with domestic violence, human rights, labour and womens’ rights, adding, among the important ones are the “Naz case on rights of the LGBTQ community, the Novartis case, the Sabarimala case, the triple talaaq case and the Sohrabuddin case, in which current Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah was involved.”
Demanding immediate withdrawal of the FIR, PUCL said, “The case lodged against the organization smacks of vendetta for its exceptional …

Sanjiv Bhatt paying price for deposing on Modi role in Gujarat riots: Wife Shweta

Counterview Desk
Following the Jamnagar sessions court ordering life imprisonment to former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for his alleged involvement in three decades old custodial death case, his wife Shweta Bhatt has said that he has been sentenced for a “for a crime he did not commit”, even as criticizing the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association, Gujarat, for not standing up for him.

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.

Demand for Bharat Ratna to Dalai Lama as top RSS leader warns China of 'strong' action

Nava Thakuria*
Dharamshala: Indian supporters for a free Tibet have urged the Government of India to confer Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, for his “immense contributions” in creating goodwill for India in the last six decades. A declaration, adopted at the 6th All-India Tibet Support Groups’ Conference held on June 15 and 16 in Dharamshala township of Himachal Pradesh, said that the Nobel laureate continues to be a holy ambassador of Indian culture enriched with non-violence, compassion and religious harmony.

There is no 'separate' Kashmir story, as there is for Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, Palestine

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The name Kashmir derives from the Sanskrit Kashyapmeru. The Greeks knew it as Kaspeiria. Herodotus called it Kaspatyros.

Gujarat govt 'considers' temples, charitable institutions as shops and establishment

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat state assembly recently passed a new law which would "govern" the working condition of shops and establishments. One of the most talked about provisions of the Act is, it allow shops and establishments across Gujarat to function 24 hours.

Senior advocates targeted because they took up cases against Amit Shah: Lawyers' NGO

Counterview Desk
The Lawyers Collective (LC), an NGO claiming to promote human rights issues, has expressed surprise at the latest move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

Gujarat Dalit teen's murder: 'Riddled' with bureaucratic bungling, NHRC registers case

By Our Representative
Will the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) go in for a “thorough inquiry” into the recent murder of 19-year old Rajesh Sondharva a resident of Manekwada village in Rajkot district of Gujarat? As claimed by well-known right to information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Commission (CHRI), following his complaint, NHRC has decided “register a case” in the matter.

Custodial violence, torture continue to be 'rampant' in the land of Buddha and Gandhi

By Stan Swamy* 
"Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him information or a confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed“ -- Association for the Prevention of Torture
***

Ex-CEA is 'right': India's new GDP growth data didn't pass the smell test. They still don't

Counterview Desk
In a hard-hitting defence of former chief economic adviser (CEA), Government of India (GoI), Arvind Subramanian, who created a major flutter by arguing in a recent paper that India's growth rate has been inflated by 2.5%, prominent academic Dr V Anantha Nageswaran wonders why is GoI not making available the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) data and methodology to independent statisticians for verification.

The new ‘Emergency': A grip that throttles the essence of Indian democracy

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The country will never forget that infamous night of June 25/26, 1975, when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had a state of emergency declared all over the country. During that dark chapter of the country’s history which lasted for a 21-month period till March 21, 1977, civil liberties were suspended, freedom of speech and expression was totally muzzled, political opponents of the Government and those who protested the emergency were imprisoned and human rights violations by those in power were the order of the day!

Bullet train impact on Gujarat farmers: Japanese funders asked to provide report

Counterview Desk
In a letter, Gujarat's environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti's (PSS') Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai have asked Katsuo Matsumoto, chief representative, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to share the copy of the report it has prepared, on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, submitted to the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), the Government of India Japan after a JICA team's visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Riddled with rickety management, India 'doing little' to conserve water for off-season

By Moin Qazi*
Water is the driving force of all nature. – Leonardo Da Vinci
India has long undervalued one of its most precious resources—water. The country’s chronic mismanagement of water is staring at it now. Over 600 million Indians rely on the monsoon to replenish their water sources and the unpredictable nature of rain leaves them vulnerable.

A Gujarati initiative to break stereotypes of Kashmiris created by mainstream politics

By Sandeep Pandey*
Sanjay Tula and his wife Tula Sanjay are products of Jayaprakash Narayan’s total revolution movement in the 1970s. They live in Mehsana, Gujarat, and run a small organization called Vishwagram which hosts less than 20 children picked up from railway platforms.

Congress' developmental plank, NYAY, 'failed to reach' vulnerable voters: Survey

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study of how social media users and non-users behaved during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has sought to suggests that the Congress’ main development plank, NYAY (Nyunatam Aay Yojana) scheme, promising a minimum income to poor households, announced allegedly to “wrest the post-Balakot momentum back from the BJP”, failed to achieve the desired goal, particularly among those for whom the proposed scheme was targeted.

Value of women's 'unpaid' labour in India 40% vs global 13%, can add 27% to GDP

By Sheshu Babu*
In analyzing economic data, various sectors like industry, agriculture, services, etc. are taken into account. But domestic work done by women is rarely 'measured' by analysts. A woman getting up early to make ready food for working husbands is very valuable but it does not figure in the estimates relating to economic figures.

Impact of Himachal's hydropower projects: Half of local sources of water have "dried up"

By Our Representative
A just-released report, “The Hidden Cost of Hydropower” by a Himachal Pradesh-based civil rights group, Himadhara, has warned that the market for hydropower has been “dwindling over the last few years”, as evident from "falling revenues from the hydropower sector" in the state, where “the installed capacity has risen from around 6000 MW to 10,547 MW in the last ten years”, but “the annual revenue from the sector which was around Rs 1300 crores a decade ago is at around Rs 908 crores in the last financial year.”

Mamata playing tired old game, voluble counter-aggression, which has 'no relevance' in Modi era

By Ajit Sahi*
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is headed towards failure in her pitched battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is no stopping Modi’s aggressive, no-holds-barred political play. And Mamata has neither a strategy nor any tactics to fend it off.

Lawless law? Detained at 14 under PSA, J&K authorities recorded his age as 22...

Counterview Desk
The Amnesty International India’s controversial report “Tyranny of a ‘Lawless Law’: Detention without Charge or Trial Under the J&K Public Safety Act”, released after the top international NGO was refused permission to hold a media conference in Srinagar, hasn’t just confined itself to analyzing 210 case studies, reportedly about the plight of the people who had been detained under  PSA between 2012 and 2018. It also documents how the Act is "misused" to detain minors.

Gujarat's politician-builder-bureaucrat nexus 'responsible' for Surat tragedy, killing 22

By RK Misra*
Gujarat spent Rs 3,000 crore building the Statue of Unity, the tallest statue in the world, but in Surat 22 students died on May 24 because the fire brigade did not have a ladder to reach the fourth floor of a building in flames. Considered the commercial capital of Gujarat, Surat is the eighth largest city of India. There are almost 14,000 people per km here and the skyline is dotted with multi-storeyed buildings.

Amended in 2018, J&K's 'lawless law' keeps detainees perpetually away from home

Counterview Desk 
Amnesty International India, which was not allowed to release of its report “Tyranny of a ‘lawless law’: Detention without charge or trial under the J&K Public Safety Act”, has made it public, pointing towards how the Act empowers authorities to arrest a person without any trial for six months, causing havoc among the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Why is disagreement, dissent seditious?: Tamil Nadu anti-nuclear campaigner complains

Counterview Desk
SP Udayakumar, well-known anti-nuclear campaigner, in a letter to the President of India has said that he and his colleagues have been branded as “urban-Naxals, Maoists, anti-Indians, seditious, separatists, foreign stooges and so forth”, even though they have advocated non-violent struggle.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Subramanian used "simplistic" model to assume Govt of India overestimated GDP

Counterview Desk
Even is refusing to reply point by point issues raised by Dr Arvind Subramanian, former chief economic adviser, Government of India (GoI), regarding how GoI has been ever since 2011  overestimating India’s GDP growth by a whopping 2.5%, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has asserted that the methodology followed by him based on indicators like electricity consumption, two-wheeler sales, commercial vehicle sales, etc. and using an econometric model to arrive at the conclusion is “simplistic.”

People of India have given a go bye to our secular ethos, admits Congress leader

By Salman Khurshid*
Two recent events have persuaded me to write this letter to my fellow country citizens. First, an interview of Arif Mohammed Khan by the inimitable Karan Thapar; the other, a letter written to Prime Minister Modi by 18 eminent Muslim citizens. But before I proceed with the content two caveats are necessary.

RBI "appeases" tech savvy upper class, refuses to remove big penalties affecting poor

Counterview Desk
Even as welcoming Reserve Bank of India's decision to remove RGTS and NEFT transactions the Financial Accountability Network India (FAN India) – a group of civil societies, unions, NGOs and peoples movements – has said that it merely seeks to boost digitalisation and is yet another indicator that the RBI is interested in promoting banking among only a particular class (tech-savvy, urban, middle and upper-middle class).

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Left's 'cynical' contempt for democraty, freedom and rise of ultra-right in Bengal

By Bhaskar Sur*
The Indian Left has come a long way. It was in 1920 that MN Roy founded the Communist Party of India in exile. It began with the promise of a revolution that would change everything and bring into existence a society free from exploitation and oppression.

Death rate of workers cleaning sewers '5 times more' than other urban Indian workers

By Sumeet Mhaskar*
The stigmatized workforce undergoes several health problems. I will begin with sanitation work which has acquired mainstream media attention over the past few years. The most appalling health related vulnerabilities are faced by manual scavengers. This is especially the case with workers who clean sewers and are hired by municipal corporations across the country. In that sense, the state itself is directly complicit in these work related deaths.

Bullet train: Release Japanese report on social, environmental impact, Govt of India told

Countreview Desk
Top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati in a letter to managing director, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRC), the Government of India agency responsible for the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, has sought copy of the report prepared by it in connection with the visit by its Japanese funders to Gujarat and Maharashtra to assess the project's social and environmental impact.

Poor earnings, no social security, unprotected by law: Plight of India's 'stigmatized' jobs

By Sumeet Mhaskar*
All the stigmatized occupations fall in the informal economy. An exception is in the case of sanitation workers, a tiny minority among whom is part of the organized workforce. As per the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 employers are required to hire labour on a regular employment basis for jobs that are perennial in nature.

Painting devil of Muslims? BJP leader 'deliberately' recalled fiction as historical fact

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
Once, a great Urdu drama writer Imtiaz Ali Taj happened to visit the grave of Anarkali, the kaniz or the courtier of Emperor Akbar at Lahore. Her name was Nadira, who hailed from Afghanistan. There is Anarkali Bazar at Lahore in Pakistan. Anarkali mattered much to Imtiaz Ali Taj. With a view to enlarge the canvas of Anarkali the dramatist thought of rolling out some new story with the touch of fiction.

India hiding disparities, 'under-reporting' figures of workers in stigmatized jobs

By Sumeet Mhaskar*
The scale of workforce employed in stigmatized occupations is enormous and each of the industries holds significant positions in the economy. For instance, in India there are ‘more than 2,000 tanneries that produce more than two billion square feet of leather annually, making the nation one of the world’s largest exporters of processed leather’.