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Need to unravel knotty Kashmir issue by 'accepting' American offer to mediate

By Saloni Kapur*
Before a recent meeting in Davos with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, Donald Trump reiterated his offer to help mediate over the issue of Kashmir. It’s been six months since India revoked the special constitutional status for the disputed territory of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and put the state on lockdown. While internet restrictions have eased, connectivity remains patchy and prominent local politicians are still in detention.

Ahmedabad citizens' letter opposing Namaste Trump, wall to hide poverty, eviction

By Our Representative
Several prominent academics of Ahmedabad have written an open letter protesting against the construction of the wall near the Indira Bridge in the city in order to “hide the slums from the eyes of the VVIP visitors to Ahmedabad.” The letter, interestingly, does not say that the wall has been constructed in the wake of the proposed visit of US president Donald Trump, allegedly in order to “hide” the sight of poverty during his three-hour visit to the city on February 24.

Gujarat single women's meet seeks increase in widow pension by five times to Rs 5,000

By Our Representative
A single women's conference, held under the auspices of the Ekal Mahila Adhikar Sangathan, in Gujarat's Modasa town of Aravalli district has asked state chief minister Vijay Rupani give them lifelong pension, insisting the amount of pension should be increased to Rs 5,000 per month. Currently, the state government offers Rs 1,000 as widow pension.

Bihar civil society meet decides to make right to education main plank of assembly polls

By Our Representative
A state-level dialogue, organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Bihar, has insisted that education should to be made the main issue in the forthcoming state assembly elections, scheduled to take place in October this year. During the discussion, which centred around girl child education, speakers expressed concern on lack of improvement in the condition of girls in the public education system of Bihar.

Tata Mundra case: US court took 'narrow view', Kutch fisherfolk to challenge ruling

Counterview Desk
Strongly reacting to a US Federal Court ruling in favour of the World Bank’s private arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), in the Tata Mundra Case, the civil rights organizations Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), representing the fisherfolk of Kutch, and the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) have said that IFC, in its arguments, before the court was trying to hide “behind technicalities of jurisdiction”.

Supreme Court procedure 'not followed' in selecting chief of India's RTI watchdog

By Our Representative
A civil rights organization has protested against the February 18 selection of the chief of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and one information commissioner of CIC, saying, the procedure followed for selecting them go against the directions of the Supreme Court order of February 2019.

US court dismisses Kutch fisherfolks' lawsuit against IFC funding of Tata power plant

By Our Representative
In a major setback to the fisherfolk of Kutch, Gujarat, who have been claiming that their livelihood has been adversely affected by the Tatas' coal-based ultra mega power plant (UMPP) at Mundra, the US District Court of Columbia has given clean chit to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the ground that IFC’s "direct involvement" in the Tata Mundra plant did not occur in the US but in India.

American diplomat 'grasped' Godse on January 30, 1948: Letter to the mother

Counterview Desk
Herbert “Tom” Reiner started his first diplomatic posting his in September 1947 as vice consul at the newly opened US embassy in New Delhi. On the fateful day, January 30, 1948, he made a visit to Birla House, where Gandhi lived, to see the Mahatma. Soon after the three fateful bullets were fired, Tom seized Nathuram Godse, the assassin, and handed him over to the Indian security personnel present there.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Sitharaman's budget reeks of old Hindu tradition of 'daan' by the rich to the poor

By MK Shaji*
In her budget speech 2020-21, Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman states that the Budget presented by her aims to address the aspirations of every member of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), along with those of “today’s youth” and “every woman”.

Modi building wall to prevent Trump’s pure white eyes from 'impure' brown squalor

Counterview Desk
In a strongly-worded statement, a civil rights organization, the National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization (NCU), even as condemning US President Donald Trump's forthcoming India visit, referring to the construction of a wall in Ahmedabad to "hide" the slum on the route he will take, has said, both he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi "love to build walls and hate the poor".

Mallika Sarabhai, others protest 'sexual harassment' in Bhuj Swaminarayan institute

By Our Representative
Strongly protecting against the Shri Sahajanand Girls Institute, Bhuj, for its allegedly outrageous act of forcing young women hostelers to undress to check if they were menstruating, thereby violating the “religious norms” of the institute, the Gujarat Mahila Manch (GMM) has claimed, the incident "violates the basic rights of young women".

Marginalised community women politicians targeted with 59% more casteist tweets

By Our Representative
A new Amnesty International study, “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India”, has found that one in every seven, or 13.8% of tweets, that mentioned women politicians in India were 'problematic' or 'abusive'. Based on a database of over 114,716 tweets mentioning 95 women politicians from India, the study says, a similar database by Amnesty in UK and USA found that 7.1% tweets mentioning politicians were problematic or abusive.

Narmada Valley, where powers-that-be are 'oblivious' of destruction they've caused

By Shabnam Hashmi*
I must admit that I have not worked on the Narmada issue. After my visit to the Narmada valley in December 2019, I have gone through a large number of policy papers where I found how Narmada rehabilitation policies have been violated and are not being implemented on the ground.

Golden City of India? 40% migration, no jobs, school dropouts, social backwardness

By Rajiv Shah
It is called the Golden City of India. The raison d'être is simple: Virtually no houses in the 70,000-odd population of the small township are made of red bricks reinforced with cement. They are all constructed with yellow sandstone found in the nearby hilly tracks. One can go atop any house, not to talk of the hilltop fort, to fathom that it’s all yellow all the way, everywhere, including the beautiful hilltop Jain temples in the fort premises. Jain temples, we were told, aren’t coloured yellow anywhere, except here.

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Gujarat chief minister doesn't have email id, there is 'no record' of those meeting him

By Our Representative
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani does not have an official email id, nor is any register maintained of those meeting him in his office. Revealing this through a Right to Information (RTI) plea which he had filed, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), has asked Gujarat chief secretary Anil Mukim set up an email id for the chief minister as also maintain a register of those meeting him.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Gujarat 'fails' to come up with new sewage treatment plants: Apex Court deadline Feb 22

Counterview Desk
Top Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, in a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, has complained that, despite frequent reminders and meetings with senior officials in Delhi and Gujarat, issues related to existing Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) across Gujarat and India as prime source of pollution of the rivers remain unresolved.

Dear Bishops! Speak out today publicly against 'unconstitutional' CAA/NPR/NRC

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Dear Catholic Bishops of India!
Greetings and good wishes to each one of you, as you gather together for your 34th biennial plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) at St John’s National Academy for Medical Sciences in Bengaluru. I am writing this letter (to each one of you) after much personal discernment and discussions with some, including those who have encouraged me to do so. It is not easy because I would like to be concise yet substantial; however, let me begin...

Failure of Gujarat 'model'? Why hawking hatred for poll gains didn't succeed in Delhi

By RK Misra*
History repeats itself -- first as a mistake, second time as stupidity and thereafter as a tragedy -- invariably with lethal costs.
It began in 2002 as an experiment in crass communal cleaving to win elections in Gujarat and has endured up to February 2020 as the BJP pulled out all stops in ethnic animosity to wrest India’s capital, Delhi from the Aam Admi Party (AAP) only to fall flat on its face. A recap would be in order.

Congress decimation in Delhi: It was a 'wicked comment' to blame Sheila Dikshit

By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*
Sheila Dikshit was clearly a colossus, not only in the Congress, but in Delhi as a whole. It is really distressing that Sheila Dikshit’s major role has been sidelined. One did not believe that Sheila Dikshit’s huge contribution, blaming her for the “start of the decline in the Congress party’s fortunes,” would be so nasty.

Bipartisan US senators ask Pompeo to talk Kashmir, CAA with Modi: Trump's visit

By Rajiv Shah
Ahead of President Donald Trump's much publicised India visit, which includes a visit to Ahmedabad on February 24, a bipartisan group of American senators have written to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concerns and seeking State Department assessments on India's "crackdown" in Kashmir and the controversial citizenship law.

Delhi's 90% sites 'ignore' law on creches at workplace. Will Apex Court note?

By Dr Aparna*
The Supreme Court of India, in all its wisdom, quizzed the mothers of Shaheen Bagh with the query: Can a four-month old decide to participate in a protest? Who will listen to four-month olds? A four month old cannot protest, as the Supreme Court has noted. A four-month old can't be a construction worker either. And its absolutely true -- a four-month old can't speak, can't protest.

Why no Haryana-type welfare plan for silicosis victims of Gujarat? NGO asks govt

By Our Representative
Regretting that the Gujarat government has still not taken any policy decision to pay assistance for the welfare of those suffering from silicosis, a fatal occupational disease, the health rights NGO People's Training and Research (PTRC), has wondered why is this happening even though there exists a government resolution (GR) of 2014 to offer Rs 1 lakh to the unorganized sector workers who die an unnatural death.

Positive Apex Court verdict amidst 'sharp rise' in atrocity cases against Dalits, Adivasis

By Our Representative
Even as welcoming the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Constitutional validity of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act (PoA Amendment Act), civil rights organizations seeking to strengthen the law have regretted that there is a failure to ensure its actual implementation.

Growing influence of Gujarat’s Satipati cult 'caused' Jharkhand Burugulikera killings

Counterview Desk
A civil rights organization, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) suspects that "growing influence" of Satipati cult, started in Gujarat, exhorting people to boycott government schemes and elections, on one hand, and religious practices of Adivasis, on the other, may be behind the recent killing of seven persons in Burugulikera village, West Singhbhum district, Jharkahnd.

Mumbai: Demand to withdraw 'BJP-inspired' sedition charges against 51 trans persons

Counterview Desk
In a "solidarity" statement, Labia - A Queer Feminist Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBT) Collective, has taken strong objection to sedition charges levelled against a young trans person and 50 unidentified persons for a slogan in a peaceful gathering, pointing out, such targeting against TBT community makes their lives even more vulnerable.

Fear 'grips' India's Indigenous People: CAA, NRC likely to render millions stateless

By Gladson Dungdung*
On January 5, 2020, Naresh Koch, a detainee in the Goalpara detention centre in Assam, breathed his last breath at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital. He became the 29th person who had died in detention since 2014.

Gujarat 'improves' structural capacity to deliver justice. But with little impact

By Our Representative
Even as ranking Gujarat eighth among 18 major states -- 12th in police, 9th in prisons, 7th in judiciary and 6th in legal aid – the Gujarat part of the India Justice Report 2019, released at a formal function at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), Gandhinagar, has said that the state has improved its position on several counts, though it has a long way to go in a few others.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

In the name of development? Gujarat urban authority seeks to 'murder' Vadodara lake

By Rohit Prajapati*
The Sursagar Lake precinct is a vital identity of Vadodara on the national map and local citizens. Emphasis on a higher quality of urban landscape design and architecture along with the lake’s ecological connections and impacts must be given priority while envisioning and designing the (re)development of such important landmarks in the city.

Gujarat Catholic Church: CAA, NRC 'contradict' Vasudhaiva Kutumbham, scrap it

Counterview Desk
In a significant move, the Catholic Church of Gujarat, even as “welcoming” the Government of India's attempt to provide “citizenship protection to some refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan” through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), has expressed “concern and apprehension” about the CAA’s exclusion of certain religious groups on the basis of religion in conferring citizenship.
“It is unconstitutional to determine citizenship on the basis religion”, asserts the statement, signed by Bishop Athanasius Rathnaswamy of the Diocese of Ahmedabad; Bishop Jose Chittooparambil CMI of the Diocese of Rajkot; Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes SJ of the Diocese of Baroda; Archbishop Thomas Macwan of the Archdiocese of Gandhinagar; and Fr Vinayak Jadav SJ, spokesperson, Catholic Church, Gujarat.
Insisting that “for the Church ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is a non-negotiable ideal”, as “any prejudice or discrimination of any group, contradicts the spirit of a ‘world fa…

Uttar Pradesh: Use of armed civil clothesmen has created sense of terror among people

Counterview Desk
A fact-finding team of the Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), on a visit to western Uttar Pradesh to investigate violent incidents between December 18 and 20, 2019 in several towns, has found that protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were sought to be suppressed with unusual brutality.

Marathwada sugarcane industry: Child labour rampant, 1.3 lakh 'deprived' of education

By Our Representative
A new study, “Human Cost of Sugar Living and Working Conditions of Migrant Cane-cutters in Maharashtra”, has expressed distress that over a staggering 200,000 children below 14 years of age migrate with their parents every year for sugarcane cutting in the drought-prone Marathwada region, which, ironically, is also a hub of sugarcane industry of India.

Union Budget 'reduces' spending on key govt programmes, to negatively impact economy

Counterview Desk
More than 50 organisations, including labour unions, farmers' groups and campaigns working on issues of food security, health, education and employment came together at Jantar Mantar to protest against the 2020 Union Budget presented by the BJP government.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

IIM-A survey: Profit margins subdued, sales fail to recover, cost pressure builds up

By Our Representative
The latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), carried by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), has suggested that cost perceptions data show some early signs of cost pressures building up, with nearly 50% of the firms believe that the current cost increase is 3.1% and above, as compared to the same time last year. Around 1/4th of the firms perceive the current cost increase in over 6%.

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk
The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).

Unite India, Save Constitution yatra seeks legal ban on cop firing on nonviolent protests

By Our Representative
A Unite India, Save Constitution yatra, which was not allowed to commence from Delhi on January 30 by the police despite having necessary permissions, continued normally after it crossed Rajasthan border after it passed through Gurgaon. While in Rewari in Haryana, BJP workers protested against the yatra, on reaching Rajasthan, it was able to conduct programmes in Kotputli, Shuklawas and Chandwaji, before reaching Jaipur.

EU-India trade: Call to include 'strong' human rights clause, suspension mechanism

By Our Representative
While recent reports on the European Union (EU) resolution on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), quoting EU officials, seek to suggest that EU is “keener” on concluding trade and investments agreements with New Delhi than discussing Kashmir and the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a closer look at the draft resolution, proposed to be taken up for discussion in March 2020, appears to point towards something totally different.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Budget 2020-21: Scheduled Caste allocation 'shortfall' Rs 421,754 crore, highest since 2014

By Our Representative
In a quick analysis, three civil society organizations, Dr Ambedkar Cooperative Federation, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch have claimed that the Union budget's shortfall for Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCP) is the highest since 2014-15 -- a whopping Rs 421,754 crore.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."

BJP govt 'evades' rural distress, reduces MGNREGA allocation by Rs 9,500 crore

Counterview Desk
The Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a civil rights group, has taken strong exception to the BJP Government cutting down on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) allocation by Rs 9,500 crore, which it says has happened despite an unprecedented economic slowdown.

Stress on privatising education: Union Budget to 'adversely' impact marginalized kids

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to what it called “insufficient allocation for education”, the Right to Education (RTE) Forum has said, the Union Budget 2020-21 shows “the government’s shrinking responsibility towards school education and implementation of RTE Act 2009.” It added, “Only digitization and online courses do not guarantee quality education, rather it widens the inequality,”.

Sabarmati not polluted? Gujarat CM 'lied' on Gandhi martyrs day: Top envionmentalist

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani stating during his poll campaign in Delhi on January 30 that Sabarmati river has become clean after the Riverfront Development Project was implemented, senior environmental activist Mahesh Pandya has said it doesn't augur well for him to "lie of the Gandhi martyrs day."

Sectarian agenda? Challenge to Saraswatic tradition comes from modern 'asuras'

By Bhaskar Sur*
Saraswati is commonly known as the Goddess of speech, learning, the arts and grace. She has other names -- Sarada, Shatarupapa and even Ila. Like other Vedic deities, Saraswati has gone through curious transformations. It seems originally she was a fertility Goddess, and her origin is associated with a rather a scandalously incestuous creation myth.

Manuben's diary, Jan 30, 1948: Bapu would say, 'I'm an ordinary man, why touch my feet?'

By Nandini Oza*
An Indian parliamentarian from the right wing Bhartiya Janta Party, whose government is in power at the centre, when recently called Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse a deshbhakt, I cannot stop penning the pages from Manuben Gandhi’s diary as she describes 30th January 1948, one of the darkest days in the History of India, exactly seventy one years ago today.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.