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Showing posts from September, 2019

Only 36 anti-atrocity cases filed since 2000 in Jharkhand's Adivasi dominated district

By Our Representative
A Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) youth conference in Ranchi saw participants expressing serious concern over rising majoritarianism, mob lynching, exploitation of Adivasis, Dalits and minorities, and lack of employment opportunities among the youth, even as expressing serious concern over refusal of the police to file cases under the anti-atrocities Act.

Channel, water body 'destroyed', resulting in flooding of Hyderabad society

By Our Representative
Dr Lubna Sarwath, an Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore alumni, who is currently Telangana state general secretary and spokesperson of the Socialist Party (India), and has worked as convener Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), Hyderabad, in a letter to the Telangana State Legal Services Authority, High Court at Hyderabad, has pointed towards how, because of the destruction of an inflow channel of a water body in the city has led to flooding of Navanami residency, Puppuluguda.

Why Hindu rites make me recall theatre of absurd and Backet's Waiting for Godot

By Rajiv Shah
As I was student of English literature for five long years (1970-75), doing my BA (Hons) and MA course from Delhi University, I (quite like my classmates) never read anything about a term towards which I was to become fascinated in late 1970s -- theatre of the absurd – apparently because it was a French concept. Coined by critic Martin Esslin in his 1960 essay "Theatre of the Absurd", at that time I had only vaguely knew that it pertained to post-World War II plays written by European playwrights.
My curiosity for theatre of the absurd especially arose after I saw the Hindi adaptation of a French play by Samuel Backet, "Waiting for Godot" in a theatre in Mandi House, Delhi, where I used to see lots of plays. That was late 1970s. I was told it was one of the top plays which was considered part of the absurd genre. In this play, two characters wait for the arrival of someone named Godot, who represents the ethereal, the unknown, maybe a god. The Godot nev…

Indians 'need to place themselves' in position of Kashmiris to understand their travails

By Sandeep Pandey*
When the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Farooq Abdullah was absent in Parliament on the day when the state’s fate was being decided on August 5, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah informed Parliament that he had chosen on his own will not to come to the Parliament. He even went to the extent of saying that he can’t bring Farooq Abdullah to the Parliament on gun point.

Sparse, austere mud-walled cottage, symbol of Gandhi’s dedication to the poorest

By Moin Qazi*
“My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth ….” -- The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 90
Eighty kilometres to the east of Nagpur in central India lies Bapu Kuti, a historic site in Sewagram, the ‘village of service’, nestled in the serene rustic surroundings close to Wardha district. This dwelling was the residential abode of Mahatma Gandhi from 1936 to 1948 and was the epicentre of the Indian freedom movement.

Cyber army 'disinformation': India among seven countries rated as top global influencers

By Our Representative
An Oxford University study, “The Global Disinformation Order 2019”, has found that India is one of the seven top countries around the world where “a handful of sophisticated state actors use computational propaganda for foreign influence operations”. It adds, Facebook and Twitter has identified India, along with China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which use the two social media platforms “to influence global audiences.”

Observing 'biased' cops, indifferent administration in a Saurashtra taluka

By Rajiv Shah
His name is Dhaval Chopada. A smiling young face, whom I used to meet at the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Ahmedabad. I believe it was several months ago, after he got married, and he "disappeared". Never bothered to find out whether he had gone to some other NGO, or got an assignment elsewhere, I saw him suddenly rushing to me the other day with, smiling as always, “How are you, Rajivbhai?”
Oh! Where did you disappear?, I asked him, and he replied, he is with Arvind Khuman, a lawyer and social worker with CSJ in Amreli, Saurashtra, and is currently stationed in Rajula – “just 40 km from Una, where five Dalits of a family were lynched, an incident which shot into national fame”, he recalled. Who doesn’t know the incident? The Una movement that followed threw up Jignesh Mevani, a major Dalit leader from Gujarat. Currently, Mevani is an independent MLA, won with Congress support.
So what’s going on? I asked Chopada, a lean, thin, tall guy, who wore a trendy jean.…

Model city Ahmedabad's 50% construction workers' children underweight: Oxford study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study published in the “International Journal for Equity in Health” has found that high levels of malnutrition has found the proportion of stunting (40.5%) and wasting (22.1%) among migrant children in the “model city” Ahmedabad were “close to the national average”, but the “proportion of underweight children (50.4%) was considerably higher.”

Top Baloch leader Marri wants Modi to 'prove' he is serious about Balochistan

By NJ Thakuria*
Baloch leaders are known to be fighting for the last seven decades to free Balochistan from what they consider as Pakistan's “illegal occupation”, even as seeking active support from India as a “trusted” ally. One of them, a Baloch nationalist leader and President of the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), Hyrbyair Marri, had a freewheeling interaction through video conferencing with journalists at the Guwahati Press Club in northeast India on September 25, 2019 as part of its Meet the Press programme.

Privatised and modernised, what's wrong with this top Gujarat hospital?

By Rajiv Shah
VS Hospital. Privatised and modernised, even the word sends a negative stimulus in you. This is one of the two biggest hospitals in Ahmedabad, founded by one of the most respected philanthropists of the city, Vadilal Sarabhai, in 1931. The only time I visited it was when I visited Ahmedabad from Gandhinagar, where I was posted as the Times of India representative. I think the year was 2007.
That was when I suffered a dog bite while, accompanied with children, we went in search of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, rumoured to have been opened in the Municipal Market area on CG Road. I parked our Maruti Fronty, we looked around, couldn’t find one, and lo, when we were about to re-enter the car, the dog hit me.
A journalist friend helped me go to VS to see a doctor, who immediately called me in, even as telling me he wasn’t supposed to look after patients on that day, but since he had got a phone call from “someone important” he was obliging. He ordered for the injection, a…

Picketers disrupt work, say: Adani Australian coal mine project would 'aggravate' drought

By Our Representative
In a fifth picket in a row, and third at the site itself, work at Adani’s controversial Carmichael coalmine project was disrupted by a group of 20 people, who blocked access from the Adani work camp. The group cited Adani’s immense water usage at a time when much of the country is in extreme drought. The region’s drought situation has reportedly been declared critical, with fears that several places could run out of water by the end of the year.

Narmada oustees: Apex court tells Madhya Pradesh to file R&R status by Sept 30

By Our Representative
Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari has directed the Madhya Pradesh government to file an affidavit on the status of the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) of Sardar Sarovar dam oustees by September 30. The bench fixed the next hearing for October 1. It said this following a plea by the state government counsel Kapil Sibbal for more time to file an affidavit on R&R status.

Oppressor can't bring freedom to Kashmiri women: Modi told ahead of UN address

Counterview Desk
A statement, simultaneously issued from Delhi and New York, by 211 women from India and 185 from around the world, and endorsed by 87 women’s groups, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2019, has taken strong exception to what it calls “particularly pernicious” argument of the Government of India that the clampdown on Kashmir will the state’s women in the long run.

Why should one doubt 'popular' Soviet support to Nehru was spontaneous in 1955

By Rajiv Shah
A lot is being written on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Howdy event in Houston. Indeed, none can can deny it was a grand success, so much so that even Opposition Congress leaders have begun praising it. One of the most commented, adversely of course, is President Donald Trump calling Modi "father of India".
With this comment, it seems, Trump seemed to be making desperate attempt to gather popular support among Indian immigrants when his popularity is sharply falling, if a recent Fox New survey is to be believed. However, what has puzzled many, especially diehard opponents, is, how could Modi gather so much of support -- 50,000 people in a jam packed hall. It was a PR success by Modi lobbyists, helped by Trump's.
One of the more famous comments was triggered by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who erroneously tweeted that Jawaharlal Nehru collected spontaneous crowd in USA in 1954. Others said the year was 1956. Pratik Sinha, in an article in his fact-check sit…

Families block access to Adani's Australian coalmine project: 4th protest since Sept 9

By Our Representative
In third such incident since September 9, a group of 30 people "disrupted" on Thursday at powerful Indian tycoon Adani’s controversial Carmichael mine, blocking access from the Adani work camp in central Queensland. Similar protests took place earlier on September 9, September 13 and September 18.

Fair, fast, forthright justice 'seems mirage' for Dalits, Muslims, other marginalized people

By Sheshu Babu*
It seems that judicial system is moving far away from major section of society, specially Dalits, marginalised sections, Muslims and women. Many recent instances are ample proof of this. While the brutal killing of Tabrez Ansari has made little progress, his widowed wife is still clinging on hope. Shaista Parveen has been a widow for three months, a month longer than her two-month marriage with Tabrez Ansari.

PUC not there in any country, abrogate it: Environmentalist enjoying UN observer status

By Our Representative
A senior environmentalist of a top non-profit, which enjoys observer organization status with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), has strongly objected to Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkare imposing huge fines if vehicles move around without Pollution Control Certificate (PUC) , insisting, PUC actually should be abrogated.

Gujarat Media Club foundation day: Between welfarism and 'compiling' archives

By Rajiv Shah
Six years is indeed a big gap. After retiring from the Times of India in January 2013, last week I attended the annual meeting of the Gujarat Media Club (GMC), which I very recently came to know is, legally speaking, a registered as a non-profit company, working for the welfare of journalists. The term welfare seems vague, but its past office office bearers would tell me it’s not a union, that’s the great difference.
Be that as it may, the last meeting I attended (perhaps it was in early 2012, or what it late 2011?), was when the then GMC president, Bharat Desai, then editor, the Times of India, put forward a series of demands before the chief guest, who happened to Narendra Modi.
The demands included giving land for a GMC building, where he had planned to set up a journalism school, in which, I was told, I should also be involved post-retirement. Modi nodded, and journalists were happy: Land would be allocated, cheap, subsidised.
Bharat Desai didn’t remain president after …

Activists 'wrong', Gujarat HC order on bullet train insisted on 'adequate' compensation

By Our Representative 
Senior High Court advocate Anand Yagnik has taken strong objection to what he calls some “Gujarat-based activist friends, more known for computer activism, who are happy that we lost matters of bullet train.” Claiming that they are “spreading misinformation out of malice to the people of India and Japan”, he regrets, “Unfortunately, this NGO hazard enjoys freedom of expression”.

Rallies such as Howdy Modi 'designed' to thank past donors, solicit future contributions

By Ian Hall*
With President Donald Trump as his “warm up act”, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally of 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora at Houston’s NRG Stadium on September 22. Dubbed Howdy Modi!, the event kicks off a busy week in the US for Modi, with no fewer than 40 meetings to attend.

Howdy Modi event organized amidst top survey suggesting Trump 'losing' popularity

By Rajiv Shah
A recent opinion poll by a top US media house has suggested as to why President Donald Trump badly needed Indian-American settlers’ support at the Howdy Modi event, and the reason why he ensured Modi to declare “abki baar Modi sarkar”. A Fox News survey, carried out days before Modi’s much-publicized Houston event, said that 52% of those polled are “frustrated” with the Trump administration government, while only 37% are “energized.”

Chhattisgarh encounter: Police behaviour 'retributive' despite promise by Congress govt

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has called for judicial inquiry into the “encounter” of two anti-mining activists of the Nandaraj movement, claiming, neither of them was involved with the underground Maoist movement”, even as condemning “persecution” of human rights activist and top academic Bela Bhatia, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and human rights defender Soni Sori, Dantewada sarpanches and 150-200 tribal villagers.

Howdy Modi? 'Houston Chronicle' recalls Kashmir, human rights, attack on minorities

By Our Representative
Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's big show in the town, "Houston Chronicle" (HC), even as calling Modi visit "historic for a foreign leader", as it "strengthens bonds between the world’s two largest democracies", has warned that "Texas’ hospitality should not be confused with an endorsement of India’s recent actions in Kashmir nor of Modi’s troubling brand of Hindu nationalism.

HC reprimands M'rashtra govt for ignoring security concern of toxic hell residents

By Our Representative
The Mumbai High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to move people out of Mahul, known as toxic hell, even as reprimanding the government for ignoring national security concern while planning the resettlement site in Mahul. It has given the government 12 weeks' time to comply with the order.

No reduction in bank charges, State Bank of India continues to 'fleece' citizens

Counterview Desk
The Financial Accountability Network (FAN), India, a collective of civil society organisations, unions, people’s movements and concerned citizens to raise the issue of accountability and transparency of the national financial institutions, in a public statement has said in a public statement that media reporting on bank charges is misleading, pointing out, State Bank of India (SBI) "continues to fleece its customers."
Text: There has been misleading media reports, which claimed that SBI has revised various services charges. The reports claimed that there has been a reduction in minimum balance required to maintain monthly, reduction in penalty for not maintaining minimum balance and restrictions on number of cash transactions allowed at the bank branches.
A close scrutiny of documents reveals that there have not been any reductions that are being claimed in the media. The only change in charges by SBI has been reducing of the SMS alert service charges from Rs …

Mergers to result in global banks? They would be worth $4 bn vs big banks' capital $70-80 bn

By Our Representative
Four officers’ unions, All India Bank Officer's Confederation (AIBOC), the All India Bank Officer's Association (AIBOA), the Indian National Bank Officer's Congress (INBOC) and the National Organization of Bank Officers (NOBO), have called for a strike on September 26 and 27 to protest against the merger of 10 state-run banks into four bigger banks, service charges imposed on the customers, demanding five working days a week, and scrapping of the New Pension Scheme.

Gujarat High Court bullet train judgment dubbed bad in law, spirit, undesirable

By Our Representative
Well-known environmentalist and human rights activist Rohit Prajapati, in a “quick comment” on the Gujarat High Court's Judgment on the acquisition of land for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet 508 km-long Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, has said that the judgment dated September 19, is “bad in law, spirit and undesirable”.

Narmada dispute: Supreme Court interim order seeks four CMs' meeting with Centre

By Our Representative
In its interim order, the Supreme Court bench has ordered a review meeting of four chief ministers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, and the Union water resources minister, in order to seek a solution to the contentious issue of filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL), 138.68 metres, which has submerged tens of villages in the Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh.

'First ever' in Gujarat: Three survivors meet life-savers who donated their blood stem cells

Counterview Desk
Datri, considered India’s largest unrelated blood stem cell donor registry, founded in 2009 by Raghu Rajagopal, Dr Nezih Cereb and Dr Soo Young Yang as not-for-profit organization in order to help patients seeking to find a healthy, willing and genetically matched donor, on Saturday introduced three survivors to their respective life-savers, a “first ever” in Gujarat.

Skill India 'failing' as it's considered a social stigma for less-academically able students

Counterview Desk  A policy research paper by the top Paris-based non-profit think tank, Institut Montaigne, has regretted that, five years on, the Narendra Modi government’s “first education-related full-fledged initiative” pertaining to vocational training, Skill India, is anywhere near achieving two of its desired goals – provide employment to the youth, and make them capable enough to become entrepreneurs.

'No regulation' in India on use of deadly chemical in surfactants, consumer products

By Our Representative
A new study released by Toxics Link, ‘Dirty Trail: Detergent to Water Bodies’, has found alarming levels of the toxic chemical nonylphenol in detergents as well as in river water in India. The detergent samples were taken from the local markets of Delhi and water from six rivers i.e. Garh Ganga and Hindon in Uttar Pradesh, Krishnan in Andhra Pradesh, Tapti in Gujarat, Bandi in Rajasthan, Mahanadi in Odisha and Ambazari lake in Nagpur.

Mumbai education company to 'empower' women through abacus training

By Our Representative
Kids Inteligence, which calls  itself a supportive education company engaged in providing end-to-end solutions for the development of children’s brains, has decided to incentivise homemakers and professionals to join its abacus coaching business. The organization claims itself to be a leading abacus teaching and training institute of Mumbai.

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).

Australian environmentalists block Adani coalmining site for four hours

By Our Representative
Around 30 environmentalists on Wednesday block access to Indian tycoon Adani's Carmichael coalmine site in Australia, disrupting work for four in the morning. The group blocked the gates of Adani workers’ camp, stopping workers from entering the proposed mine site. The group declared that with Prime Minister Scott Morrison set to "snub" the United Nations Climate Action Summit next week, there is an urgent need to take action and stop the construction of new coal mines.

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

As villages submerge, earthquake tremors felt in Narmada valley: Centre 'indifferent'

By Our Representative
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), India’s top anti-dam campaign organization, that following the Sardar Sarovar dam reaching full reservoir level (FRL), 138.68 metres, villages in the upstream have begun experiencing “earthquake tremors.” In a statement issued from Badwani, where NBA is holding a major rally to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday bash at the dam site, NBA said, this is happening alongside “drowning” of villages in the Narmada valley.

Tarbez lynching case: IIM-Bangalore faculty, students, staff seek Modi intervention

By Our Representative
In an unusual move, over hundred faculty, staff and students of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, have made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking his office to intervene in the Tabrez Ansari lynching case. The statement comes close on the heels of national outrage over the manner in which police and doctors have reportedly tried to undermine the motive behind the lynching of Tabrez, religious fanaticism.

Religious 'motivations', cops' negligence, doctors' lapses behind Tabrez's death

Counterview Desk
Ravi Kiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, national general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), have said, there is clear evidence to suggest, Jharkhand’s Tabrez Ansari “lynching murder case” is sought to be watered down by state authorities, including police officials and doctors, insisting, the government should “restore the murder charge under Section (u/s) 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)”, even as taking steps against the prosecuting police officials and doctors for “criminal negligence.”

Gujarat NGO 'certified' best workplace for women for second year in a row

By Our Representative
SEWA Rural, a Gujarat-based NGO, has been certified as the best workplace for women for second year in row by the Great Place to Work, which, says an NGO communique, is a global authority in “creating, sustaining and recognizing high-trust, high-performance culture at workplaces”. The organization partners more than 10,000 oragnizations across 60 countries to help them build a great work culture for their employees.

Gujarat Human Rights Commission seeks report on workers entering gutters sans mask

By Our Representative
The Gujarat State Human Rights Commission has asked the Patan district collector and the chief officer, Patan municipality, to respond detail within 20 days on what action have they taken regarding a complaint it received on gutter workers being forced to enter into manholes without necessary safety equipment, including oxygen masks, putting at risk their life.

Saltpan workers' body opposes proposal to turn Rann of Kutch into sprawling lake

By Our Representative
The Agariya Hit Rakshak Manch (AHRM), an organization working among Gujarat's saltpan workers, has opposed the proposal to turn the Rann of Kutch into a huge lake. Floated by Jaysukhbhai Patel, managing director, Ajanta-Oreva group, the industrialist claims that once the lake on a 4,900 sq km takes shape, the barren Rann would become arable, and the water problem of entire Kutch-Saurashtra region would be solved.