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Showing posts from October, 2019

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

Medha Patkar with Ranya and Rajubai 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

Orai Dalit children with earthen lamps 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

Detained activists 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.

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

Bilkis Bano 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.”

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). 

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

Max Mueller's Manusmriti 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

Savarkar 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?

Kamlesh Tiwari 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

During a September 2018 nuns' protest against Malakkal in Kochi 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.

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

Pragya Thakur (right) 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.

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.

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.

India ranks below Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh: Global Hunger Index 2019

By Our Representative India is ranked 102 of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019, behind its neighbours Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said. The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe termed the level of hunger in India “serious”. In 2018, it was ranked 103 out of 119 countries. In 2000, the country was ranked 83 out of 113 countries. Now, with 117 countries in the fray, it has dropped to 102.

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.

Narmada dam submergence: SC asks Union water resources secretary to submit report

By Our Representative The Supreme Court has asked the Union water resources secretary to submit a report on the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam's reservoir regulation by October 21, even as directing the Madhya Pradesh government to provide basic amenities to the dam evictees.

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Anhad's Dev Desai, one of the signatories, displays pro-Kashmir placard with supporters Counterview Desk A week after it was floated , 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Shivaji allied with Islamic states, welcomed Muslims in army, had qazis on payroll

Audrey Truschke Counterview Desk Referring to her her book on Aurangzeb, Audrey Truschke, assistant professor of South Asian history, Rutgers, Newark, US, has controversially claimed that in the mid-1660s, a Rajput – acting on Mughal orders – besieged Shivaji at Purandar, adding, Marathas and different Rajput lineages often acted differently from one another, even fighting each other.

Muslim elite 'promote' English, regional languages: Just 0.8% enroll in Urdu schools

By Rajiv Shah A new report, “A New Agenda For The Education Of Indian Muslims in the 21st Century”, claiming to be independent and non-sponsored, has said that the ascendancy of regional languages and English, both in education and in general use, has seen a corresponding decline of Urdu, which is particularly sharp among school-going Muslim children.

For Gandhi sanitation was not just picking up a broom, cleaning for photo opportunity

By Sandeep Pandey* Mahatma Gandhi’s spectacles are being used as an emblem for Government of India’s sanitation campaign Swachha Bharat Abhiyan (SBA). Even though Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, abhors Gandhi’s ideology, yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to use Gandhi as a symbol for his drive for cleanliness.

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).