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Showing posts from October, 2019

Whither Diwali in Narmada valley? No lights anywhere, darkness part of tribal life

By Medha Patkar*
When I decided to spend Diwali days with the adivasis, our saathis of last 34 years struggle, in the hilly villages of Maharashtra, I knew what the scenario would be. In Manibeli, Chimalkhedi, Bamani and Mukhdi, houses after houses and fields had been submerged… lost partially or fully into the oblivion! Yet when I reached, crossing a number of police checks by boat from the Sardar Sarovar dam site, I got a shiver, witnessing the huge ocean that the mother river, Narmada, had turned into. It was demonic, indeed.

If India can’t trust Farooq Abdullah, who will it ever trust?, ask Baramulla villagers

By Anand K Sahay*
In an extraordinary display of deployment -- amidst nationalistic fervour -- not seen since the militancy of the early 1990s, the country’s armed forces are spread across the towns and villages of the Kashmir valley, guns at the ready. Men of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, doing duty alongside them in urban areas, no longer carry a weapon.

Sardar Patel was iron man, Indira Gandhi iron lady, both had 'tough' frame of mind

By Shaktisinh Gohil*
Come October 31, and we have functions to mark events relating to two great personalities who have played very important role in the making of India. They are Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Indira Gandhi. Like many other friends in public life, I also have to attend functions involving these two leaders at some places as speaker, while at some as guest.

Indira Gandhi's martyrdom: Congress became 'precursor' to Hindutva dominance

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
This last day of October reminds us the brutal assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own security guards who were supposed to protect her. Since June 1984, when Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh feelings were tremendously hurt, but there was no attempt to assuage the feelings.

Statue of Unity: Modi donned Sardar legacy, and Congress had 'no time' for it

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Exactly a year ago, Narendra Modi inaugurated the giant Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue facing the Narmada Dam. It is 3.2 km away from the dam on a river island called Sadhu Bet near Rajpipla in Gujarat. Standing almost six hundred feet tall, it is the world's tallest statue.

Bundelkhand Dalit dropouts distribute self-made diyas to 'fight' illiteracy on Diwali

By Our Representative
In a unique celebration of Diwali this year, school dropout children from Dalit and other backward class communities of the rural areas of Orai taluka of Jalaun district in Uttar Pradesh went around to schools, colleges, government offices and police departments, offering to staff and officials diyas (earthen lamps) they had made with their own hands.

Gujarat human rights, tribal activists detained ahead of Modi reaching Statue of Unity

By Our Representative
Several Gujarat human rights and tribal activists have been detained in Gujarat ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaching the Kevadia Colony on Thursday, October 31, to celebrate one year of the Statue of Unity off Sardar Sarovar dam. The state officialdom acted similarly a year ago, too, when Modi reached the Kevadia Colony to inaugurated the 182-metres statue, tallest in the world. October 31 is Sardar Patel's birthday.

In Kashmir, state doesn't have to kill. It establishes reign of fear in 'other' ways

By Anand K Sahay*
The gun trigger that took the first life in Kashmir was squeezed on August 6, just one day after constitutional violence had been done to J&K state- and it wasn’t the militants.
In the Ilahi Bagh-Soura area of Srinagar’s old city, locally called the “downtown”, Asrar Khan, a 14-year old pupil of the well-regarded Kashmir Harvard School, near his home, was shot in the head from a pellet gun.

Adopt Israeli unity 'model', Sanskritise India: French scribe tells Assam journos

By T Navajyoti*
Francois Gautier, an India-based senior French journalist, believes Hinduism is “the only religion” today that accepts and respects all the other religions, and though Hindus are descendants an ancient civilization in human history, there are many western journalists and correspondents who are “still biased” against Hindustan.

After Kashmir, is Govt of India ready to go back on promise to Nagaland?

By Sandeep Pandey and Meera Sanghamitra*
The Nagas claim that their leader Phizo never signed any instrument of accession with India like the other 562 princely states and Nagaland or Nagalim, as they prefer to call their land, was never part of India either with consent or by conquest. Nagas are proud of their unique history in which they have never been subject to any foreign rule.

India's policies 'erratic': Raghuram Rajan doubts WB's Ease of Business ranking

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Raghuram Rajan, who resigned as Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor in 2016 ahead of the Modi government’s controversial demonetization move, has taken strong exception to the World Bank seeking to show India climb up the East of Doing Business indicators, saying these do not match “the actual conditions in India” that “prevent businesses from working easily.”

Kashmir traders ask: Why does govt think it can do anything and get away with it?

By Anand K Sahay*
Says a 30-year old, a minor government functionary in Baramulla, in an uncomplicated, way, “Aap apne Pakistan ka gussa Kashmir par nikal rahe hain!” (You are taking it out on us in Kashmir because you are angry with Pakistan!)

Will New Delhi henceforth be guided only by mistrust in dealing with people of Kashmir?

By Anand K Sahay*
My recent trip to Kashmir has revealed a picture that can only fill one with gloom and dread. Grave political uncertainty and psychological disarray at the level of ordinary people is the standout impression.

What's behind rise and rise of Girish Chandra Murmu, Gujarat cadre IAS official

By Rajiv Shah
Girish Chandra Murmu. The very name amuses me. A 1985 batch Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat retiring next month, I still remember, during my interaction with him as the Times of India (TOI) man in Gandhinagar, his rather huge laughter (a loud “ha ha ha”) after he would frankly tell me what all was going on in the government. Now, the very same Murmu, 59, has been appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

People over business? Ease of doing business 'hurting' India's poor, environment

By Maju Varghese
In the last week, we saw two indices, which were released globally. One on hunger and another on Ease of Doing Business. India slipped from 95th position to 102nd position out of 117 countries in Global Hunger Index, while the country gained another 14 points in Ease of Doing Business jumping from 77th position last year to 63rd position this year among 190 countries. India improved its ranks by 79 position from 2014.

US supply chain told to be wary of fatal impact of Indian agate industry on workers

By Our Representative
A high level conference in Chicago has seen a strong appeal to the Government of India to promote safer technology among stone cutters in India and better occupational health standards in India’s jewellery business by developing better inspection standards. The appeal came after a senior Gujarat-based health rights activist, Jagdish Patel, made a presentation on the state of agate stone cutting industry in Khambhat in Gujarat and Jaipur in Rajasthan.

Poorest of poor of unorganized sector 'kept out of' India's new social security code

Counterview Desk
Representatives of trade unions and workers organisations of all sectors (including formal, informal, self-employed and home based workers), who met in Delhi on October 23-34, 2019 in order to analyse the Code on Social Security 2019, published at Ministry of Labour and Employment, has taken strong exception to the Government of India seeking to exclude the unorganized sector, insisting, what is actually needed is a right to social security Act.

Bilkis Bano, Ishrat Jahan: How Gujarat BJP rulers 'dragged' cases in top courts

By RK Misra*
Seventeen years after the incident and six months after the apex court ordered relief for the victim, the BJP government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat figured in a callous disregard for compliance. Successive BJP governments in Gujarat have dragged their feet, particularly in matters relating to the minority community, even when the highest court of the land has unequivocally ruled it’s mind.

Centre's new RTI rules would turn information commissions into 'caged parrots'

Counterview Desk
The Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), a civil society network campaigning against alleged efforts of the Government of India to dilute the Right to Information (RTI) Act, has said that the new RTI rules, which follow the Act’s amendments about three months ago, have reduced India’s Information Commissions into ‘caged parrots’.

Modi no reformer, manages economy incompetently: Western investors warned

By Our Representative
In a sharp rejoinder to “Western businesspeople”, who are said to be still inclined to “defend” Prime Minister Narendra Modi by claiming that Modi may be “bad for democracy his pro-business philosophy is good for the economy”, the powerful British periodical “The Economist” has declared, “But that argument no longer washes. India’s economy is incompetently managed and doing badly.”

India’s cyclical slowdown severe, downturn sharp: Now World Bank contradicts itself

By Rajiv Shah
For the powers-that be, surely, it is but natural to consider this a proud moment: That the World Bank’s new “Ease of Doing Business” report has shown India jumping 14 points; and that India is one of the two countries across the globe out of 190 economies analysed among the 10 top “improvers” which have shown climbed so sharply – the other country being the tiny Djibouti in the huge African continent.

Apex court asks chief ministers of 4 states, Centre to 'review' Narmada submergence

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court has refused to accept the report of the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee dated October 14, 2019, submitted by the Union of India and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA).

World Bank wants you to believe: Delhi, Mumbai doing so well in border trade!

By Rajiv Shah
Today, after I took my morning stroll as part of my daily routine, my search for online news led me a tweet by friend and colleague, whom I have for long considered an honest and sincere journalist, Abhishek Kapoor, currently executive editor, Republic TV. Formerly with Indian Express and Times Now, he loudly, perhaps proudly, proclaimed that India has jumped 14 points in the Ease of Doing Business (EDB) in a World Bank ranking.

Savarkar's dream of 'enforcing' Manu's laws would mean end of road for Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam*
The current vociferous campaign for awarding Savarkar Bharat Ratna by Savarkarites claims that this Hindutva 'Veer' was a ‘rationalist Hindu’ a leader who ‘ended the practice of Untouchability’, propagated ‘scientific temper’ and died as an atheist. They also persist in saying that his “outlook was absolutely modern and scientific and secular”.

Panama forgotten? Mysterious corporations in tax havens still finance India's 'exports'

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Just a few years ago the breaching of data from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed a number of Indians and Indian-owned entities were shovelling their money away from Indian tax officials into Panama based shell companies. One of those discovered doing this was India's favourite brand ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan, despite not being a posterboy for good citizenship.
Panama: No questions asked.

Govt of India refuses to make public files that say Nehru contemplated strike to save J&K

By Our Representative
Did Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru contemplate a strike to “save” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1947? It would seem so if one is to believe senior Right to Information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak, who made an application to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), popularly Teen Murti Library, to gain access to J&K files of 1947 to 1949 to find out what the truth was.

Gandhi 'insulted'? Australian court order bans indigenous people from Adani land

Counterview Desk
The Wangan & Jagalingou (W&J) Council, claiming to represent the indigenous people of the Queensland, where the powerful Indian industrial house Adani has begun to implement a $16 billion project, has complained that claiming the "First Nations land owners" are being "banned" from their own country.

Put draft rules of RTI amendment Act in public domain for discussion: PM told

By Our Representative
A civil rights network, the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has sought his immediate intervention on the Centre’s "failure" to prescribe rules regarding the salary, tenure and terms of service of information commissioners, after the enactment of the Right to Information Amendment Act, 2019.

Without tribal consent? 1,000 of 1,700 acres 'acquired' off Statue of Unity, Narmada dam

By Our Representative 
The Gujarat government has already acquired 1,100 acres out of 1,700 acres of the tribal land of six villages – Navagam, Limdi, Gora, Vagadia, Kevadia and Mithi – for developing tourism next to the 182-metre high Statue of Unity, the world's tallest, putting at risk the livelihood option of their 8,000 residents, and is all set to acquire rest of the land, representatives of the villagers have alleged in Ahmedabad.

BJP govt 'engaging' in scaremongering ahead of Jharkhand polls, inventing 'false' enemies

Counterview Desk
The civil society organization, Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JMM), even as condemning the attachment of well-known social activist Fr Stan Swamy’s belongings by the Jharkhand police on October 21, has said that the harassment is part of the state government’s growing attempts to stifle dissent and intimidate those fighting for justice.

When Savarkar said he had 'no quarrel' with Jinnah’s two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
The Hindu Mahasabha under the presidentship of VD Savarkar aligned with the British masters to crush the Quit India Movement in 1942. The Responsive Cooperation with the British was not only a theoretical commitment. It soon got concretized in ganging up of the Hindu Mahasabha with the Muslim League.

Kamlesh Tiwari murder: Why is needle of suspicion 'always' pointed to Muslims?

By Masood Peshimam*
It has become so easy to blame Muslims for any wrong in the country. Attuned to this scenario the needle of suspicion was immediately turned to Muslims for the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, who was an appellant on behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha in the Ayodhya title suit. He was shot and stabbed to death at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.

Maharashtra villagers boycott polls to protest flooding 'as a result of' Narmada dam

By Our Representative 
The adivasis from the Sardar Sarovar affected village, Manibeli , the first in Maharashtra from the Narmada dam site, boycotted the voting in the assembly elections on October 21 to protest against waters gushing into the village, allegedly because the dam was filled up to the brink.

Church divided, faces internal issues, as anti-Christian crimes rise under Modi: Report

By Our Representative
A top US-based Catholic 'voice', "National Catholic Reporter" (NCR), which claims to provide the "only significant alternative" to diverse Christian perspectives, has said that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to the United States was greeted with "a lack of enthusiasm from Christian groups", as they are "aware of the rising violence against religious minorities in India fueled by the government's Hindu nationalist ideology."

Plebiscite in J&K? Delhi meet demands implementation of UN 'commitment'

Counterview Desk
A citizens’ protest, organised on October 19 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, to protest against the 75 days of “oppression” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) saw over 200 activists, academics, intellectuals, prominent citizens, students, citizens from a large number of groups controversially appeared to suggest holding plebiscite in order to decide the future of the state.

Suspicious death of Adivasi hockey girls: Hundreds protest cop ‘inaction’ in Jharkhand

By Our Representative
Hundreds of people gathered at Simdega, Jharkhand, to protest against alleged lapses in police investigation into the death of two young Adivasi girls, who were hockey players. The protest on October 19 was organised by the National Federation of Indian Women in association with several other civil rights organisations.

Jignesh Mevani: Cadre building amidst atmosphere of fear; in search of alliances

By Rajiv Shah
A few days back, I met independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, one of those who has been regarded in some circles as an iconic Dalit leader of Gujarat. He had come for a meeting in Gujarat Vidyapeeth, organized to remember a truly iconic Gujarat High Court advocate, late Girish Patel, known to be the founder of public interest litigations (PILs) in India, and one who firmly stood by the underprivileged. After listening to several speeches, including that of Mevani, I came out of the hall along with a journalist colleague, Darshan Desai.
I murmured in Desai’s ear a strange rumour I had heard a few weeks earlier – that Mevani, known for being a long-time opponent of BJP, had “possibly” met Union home minister Amit Shah, or maybe he have asked for an audience. Desai immediately advised me to ask Mevani. I never believed in the rumour, though I thought there was nothing wrong in meeting Amit Shah. After all, he is India’s home minister, and if one has to make a representation or a com…

Mumbai special court rejects NIA plea for media ban on Malegaon blast case hearing

By Our Representative
The Special NIA Court has allowed the intervention application filed by 11 journalists in their individual capacity against the National Investigating Agency's (NIA) plea seeking to make the rest of the 2008 Malegaon blast case "in camera", which effectively means no media reporting. BJP MP Pragya Thakur has been one of the Malegaon blast accused.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Setback to environmentalists? Adani signs major rail contract for Aussie coalmine project

By Our Representative 
In what appears to be a major setback for environmentalists in Australia, India’s powerful Adani Group, close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has announced a $100 million rail contract with the Martinus Rail for the 16.5 billion Australian dollar Carmichael coal-mining project. The contract took place amidst continuing protests against the project, with pickets being organized at different sites.

Three years on, mystery surrounds as to who advised Modi on demonetization

By Rajiv Shah
Recently it was reported that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has stopped printing Rs 2,000 notes. The report said that the “slowdown” in printing the notes – which were widely proclaimed (for unknown reasons, and from unknown sources) as high security because it was claimed they contained a hidden chip which would help the powers-that-be to trace their whereabouts – began about two years ago. Fewer and fewer notes were being printed, and now the printing has just stopped.
Several reasons are being advanced for the “withdrawal”, something that was in the air for quite some time – one of them being it is “easier” to hoard high denomination notes. It was also rumoured that fake Rs 2,000 notes – printed with much fanfare alongside the by now infamous demonetization days of November-December 2016 – are taking rounds in the market. Meanwhile, the ATMs across the country appear to have stopped offering these notes; they mostly offer Rs 500 currency notes.
There was, of course, a …

Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, the only beneficiary of British masters' 'large-heartedness'?

By Shamsul Islam*
On October 15, 2019, BJP released its manifesto for the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Apart from making miscellaneous promises it made a specific promise to the Maharashtra voters, that BJP would secure Bharat Ratna, the highest national honour, for the Hindutva icon, 'Veer' Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and two of the greatest thinkers and warriors of anti-Brahmanical Dalit resurgence, Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.

J&K 'atrocities' on children: Juvenile Justice Committee relied just on DGP arguments

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which actively campaigned for justice for 2002 Gujarat riot victims, and is currently involved in helping out vulnerable sections declared "foreigners", has pointed towards how there is an effort to water down atrocities on children in Kashmir following the August 5 clampdown.

Why can't welfare NGOs think beyond doles, learn to empower vulnerable sections?

By Rajiv Shah
This is what happened near Ahmedabad the other day. I am deliberately not revealing the name of the person or the spot where the incident took place. This gentleman, a seasoned trader having unassuming aura, also runs a “welfare” NGO. Driving a large-sized car with two of his team members sitting next to him, he was stopped by traffic cops, who saw his license, and wanted to know what exactly he was carrying in the car.
This gentleman explained that he had collected old, used clothes, blankets, toys, shoes etc. from those who were associated with the NGO and was on his way to distribute them in a slum area. Unconvinced, the cops demanded a few thousand as fine.
Revealing his identity as head of the NGO, this gentleman said, there was no question of giving the fine, as he was carrying used clothes for welfare activity, and if the cops wanted they could accompany them during their distribution among the slum-dwellers. Still the cops remained adamant and sought the fine. Fin…

Poor quality post-monsoon road repair work in Ahmedabad: Complaint filed

By Our Representative
A Gujarat civil rights organization, Nagrik Sashaktikaran Manch (NSM), in a letter to Ahmedabad municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra has complained about “poor quality of the resurfacing of road” carried out over the last 24-48 hours. Especially referring to road from Surdhara Circle to Subhash Chowk, NSM secretary Jatin Sheth says, “The quality of material -- asphalt, bitumen, coltar -- is probably lower.” He has attached latest photographs to prove his point.

Gandhi 'didn't like' Dalit, tribal conversion to Christianity, even Sikhism or Buddhism

By Bhaskar Sur*
On January 23, 1999 Graham Stuart Steins, an Australian missionary working among the tribals of Odisha, was burnt to death along with his two children by members of the Bajrang Dal, an outfit close to the BJP. Stein had been working among the tribals and taking care of people suffering from leprosy, and in turn, he was deeply loved adored by the tribals impoverished, exploited and excluded.

RTI amendments regressive, why is Centre not making rules? asks Justice Lokur

By Our Representative
Justice Madan Lokur, retired Supreme Court judge, has told a public meeting in Delhi that the recent amendments made to the Right to Information (RTI) Act are regressive and will have an impact on the functioning of the law. Speaking on the occasion of the 14 years of the existing nce of the Act, Lokur regretted, despite their passage more than two months ago, the Central government has not made rules regarding the salary and tenure of information commissioners.