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Showing posts from 2020

Green signal to Hyderabad pharma city or to ash, muck, pollution and misery?

By Dr Narasimha Reddy Donthi, Dr K Babu Rao, Dr Lubna Sarwath*
Hyderabad Pharma city being established by the Telangana government is a move towards establishing a toxic city. By going ahead with it Telangana industries minister KT Rama Rao is neglecting the travails of pharma pollution victims. Pharma exports will earn mountains of profits for a few, while Telangana residents would end up with ash, muck, pollution and misery.

'Warped understanding' of Gandhi's views on caste, race comes from his early writings

By Ram Puniyani*
The #BlackLivesMatter protest saw a strange incident in the United States: Unknown miscreants vandalised the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC with graffiti and spray paint. The incident took place on June 2 night amidst nationwide protests that erupted the country against the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Journalists continue to be targeted in South Asia, yet most media houses are mum

By Nava Thakuria*
As the pandemic year 2020 rolls on, Indian subcontinent sets to improve in its journo-murder index with only two casualties this year till date. First half of the year witnessed the murder of one scribe each in Pakistan and India for their journalistic works, where as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet (presently under China), Sri Lanka and Maldives evaded any incident of journo-casualties in the last six months.

Tamil Nadu custodial deaths 'suggest', rights have gone all wrong in today’s India

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
 It is a season of discontent for millions everywhere: the pandemic Covid-19 has disrupted life and livelihoods, the routine and the ‘normal’. People have been forced to adjust and to adapt; to become more frugal, more simple and much more. It is also been a time of immense grief, pain and suffering particularly for the poor and the marginalised; the migrant worker and the daily wager; the unemployed and the differently-abled.

Tamil Nadu custodial deaths: When top cops 'ignore' brutalities, don't inspect detentions

By NS Venkataraman*
The murder of George Floyd in USA by a policeman in open area, which was approvingly witnessed by a few other policemen caused concern not only in USA but the entire world. While some politicians and activists in USA and elsewhere interpret this murder scene as due to racial conflict, the discerning observers view it as an incident reflecting the behavioural pattern of policemen.

Woman sarpanch of Warora who plays 'multiple' roles during Covid-19 pandemic

By Moin Qazi*
Warora is a small township in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. It is best known for the small village republic the great humanist Baba Amte set up for disabled people alienated by mainstream society. The most vulnerable among these are leprosy patients who still suffer from social stigma but find love and dignity in this wonderful village named Anandwan, a forest of bliss.

Revocation, 'misinterpretation' of Article 370 led to lot of turmoil in Beijing: Webinar told

By Our Representative
Making a major intervention at a webinar organized by Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, Ambassador Nirupama Rao, former Foreign Secretary of India, who has served as Indian Ambassador to China, the US and Sri Lanka, has said that China has used India’s infrastructure development and excuse of India violating the border commitments along the borders as an interpretation to stir up tensions, though they themselves have engaged in expansion of their own infrastructure along the borders.

What would India's border security mean to mother or child 'dying' of state negligence?

By Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar*
One of the writers of this article is reminded of an incident, when he was teaching at Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar which was then functioning from a campus in Chandkheda in Ahmedabad. On December 16, 2011, a dog picked up a two months old boy child Akash who was lying on ground while parents were busy cooking or eating dinner at 10 pm.

Despite 1962 debacle, Nehru stated India’s position upfront. Will Modi come clean?

By Anand K Sahay*
One can perceive some important similarities between the border situation with China under Prime Minister Narendra Modi now, and the one that obtained in the tenure of the country’s first leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, leading eventually to the month-long clash in 1962 in which the Indian forces were routed, though they showed determination in icy conditions, and rare courage.

How new saffron rulers 'unrolled' political grammar of opposition as India's enemy

By RK Misra*
Rahul Gandhi is a ‘pappu’ and Priyanka Gandhi is ‘babli’, but every time the two open their mouth, why does the BJP get verbal diarrhoea?
Cold derision to deep embedded antagonism has marked the targeting of the two along with their mother Sonia Gandhi, the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was the victim of a terrorist attack as was his mother, late prime minister Indira Gandhi gunned down.

Option before Congress: Get rid of family control to halt BJP's 'authoritarian' trap

By NS Venkataraman*
As time passes by, the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to increasingly have feet firmly on the ground. Under the leadership of Modi, seen as charismatic and honest by large sections, the country’s opposition leaders seem pygmies. In the process, the BJP government is becoming very powerful, though some people call it authoritarian, too.

Why Nagland governor Ravi's 'disciplinarian' approach towards Nagas may not work

By Sandeep Pandey*
Nagland governor RN Ravi has written a scathing letter to chief minister Neiphiu Rio alleging complete collapse of law and order and unwillingness of the elected government to resist several armed groups indulging in extortion and violence.

In Covid-19 times, Gujarat NGO takes water, food to ‘inhospitable’ Kutch regions

By Gazala Paul*
Parbat Bijal Koli and Shantiben Bala Koli live 63 kms apart in two different villages of two administrative blocks in Gujarat's most inhospitable region -- the Greater Rann of Kutch. And at a time when Gujarat is among the worst hit Covid-19 states in India, Parbat and Shantiben are battling two different challenges compounded by the blistering heat of the Rann -- a near-total lack of drinking water in the case of the former and severe shortage of food grain as far as the latter is concerned.

'Unlocking' Covid policy gap? Just 10% Indians 'covered' under healthcare schemes

Counterview Desk
Among many “defining challenges” India’s top policy makers need to address midst Covid-type health emergency is overcoming huge gaps that exist between what India’s CityMakers need and what the government offers. A recent survey has revealed only one out of 10 respondents were covered under the Government of India’s flagship public health as well as life insurance schemes -- Ayushman Bharat, PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima and PM Suraksha Bima Yojna.

'Frivolous' charges against Assam rights leader: Demand for full HC bench hearing

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s top civil society network, has demanded immediate release of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, a well-known human rights activist of Assam, who is in jail for the last 200 days under what it called “ill-conceived charges foisted against him.”

Andhra gas tragedy: Favourable court order helps 3 LG Chem personnel 'flee' India

By Our Representative
Three South Korean LG Chem personnel, whose passports were confiscated due to their importance in the investigation of the company’s deadly styrene gas release, have "fled" India after getting a favourable court judgement. Bringing this to light, the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), an international NGO network, said, this would "help" the company to “avoid responsibility” as has happened in other cases, including Bhopal.

How India's 'draconian' sedition law hasn't just survived in statute books but thrived

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
British left India in August 1947 but left many of their draconian laws here as a colonial legacy. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code 1860, i.e., the law of sedition is one such law. British Government of India had inserted it in the penal code in the late 19th century to curb anti-colonial activities in British India.

Neoliberal patronage leading to 'sharp rise' in religious, cultural right-wing in politics

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The world is facing its deepest crisis after the world wars. The legitimacy of Westphalian international systems and their post-war reincarnations are falling apart. Political parties are losing public trust and people question their legitimacy. States and governments are becoming hostage and facilitators of neoliberal capitalism, where people live in an environment of unfreedom and market oligarchs enjoy absolute freedom.

Wanted a John the Baptist who will walk with migrants, uplift Dalits, stand with Adivasis

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Wanted Now: A John the Baptist! – who brings hope. For many, these past months have been a period of hopelessness, of despair, of despondency and of dejection. There is a listlessness and a cloud of unknowing that have gripped the lives of millions over during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. John’s birth was announced to a barren, aged woman Elizabeth. No one would have expected that; but with God nothing is impossible: John is the new hope!

Custodial death of father-son duo in Tamil Nadu tip of 'horrendous' iceberg: NAPM

Counterview Desk
Denouncing what it has called “all-pervasive and routine culture of police violence and impunity” pervading currently in India, India’s premier civil society network, National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), referring to the custodial death of Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu) residents, Jayaraj and Bennicks, said, the FIR filed by the police on the incident “indicates an obvious attempt at obfuscation.”

How Gujarat NGO helped market women farmers' produce locally amidst lockdown

By Sanjay Dave*
In these difficult times of coronavirus pandemic a unique initiative has been undertaken by Utthan, an NGO based in Gujarat, to turn adversity into opportunity for rural poor and marginalized. Due to lockdown the daily wage labourers stopped getting work, and thus there was no source of any income for them.

Expanding Indian media circle of those 'ready' to go along the credo of communalism

By Anand K Sahay*
The time since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in office began – about a year ago – has been tumultuous in India. A succession of momentous events, with likely long-term impact, has passed before our eyes. Each of these had strong communal undertones and overtones. Each shook the country.

Luring neighbours to 'encircle' India, China may be biting more than it can chew

By NS Venkataraman*
It is clear by now that China has not concealed its aim and determination to dominate the world as a superpower and expand its territories. In fact, China has begun to give the impression that it would combine different types of strategies on the trade front, propaganda campaign and military strategy to achieve its objectives, depending upon circumstances.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.

Unwilling 'sacrifice': Who will be responsible for India's 884 non-Covid deaths?

By Simran Kaur, Vasundhra Kaul, Varsha Sharma, Sandeep Pandey*
While the entire world faced the threat of the coronavirus, India was witness to a peculiar phenomenon. Hundreds of migrant workers poured into the streets, despite explicit warnings – and passionate appeals – by the Prime Minister to stay indoors.

Hindutva impact? Why political, ruling elite don't need Emergency rule today

Counterview Desk  Marking 45 years since the declaration of the Emergency, the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a platform of 36 organizations*, mainly civil rights groups and Left-wing labour unions, has called upon on all its constituent organisations and all democratic and progressive organisations and forces to carry forward the struggle for upholding democratic rights and principles and strengthen the movements for unity across caste and community and the struggles for wages, land and livelihood.

Govt apathy, funds crisis? 36% NGOs drop Covid relief, 54% plan to: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey of civil society organizations (CSOs) has complained that government indifference despite the “felt need” to continue with the relief work to the poorer sections society amidst Covid-19 crisis was a major reason why more than 36% of CSOs were forced to stop doing the work, while another 54% said they had plans to stop it in a month’s time.

Smart cities: Why pandemic response can't rely heavily on high-tech platforms, apps

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar*
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world's smart cities to a halt and is exposing the fault lines in human habits and habitations. More than 99 million people living in India 100 smart cities, especially those living in the densely populated informal settlements and slums, with dreadful combination of poverty and inadequacies in access to water and sanitation and poor waste management, are facing the wrath of this pandemic.

It's a pity: Small neighbours Bhutan, Sri Lanka offer free universal healthcare, not India

By Prem Verma*
The spread of coronavirus in India and the subsequent misery of the Migrant population has exposed the underbelly of dismal healthcare in our country. There is a daily outcry of shortage of hospital beds, doctors, nurses, intensive care units (ICUs), absence of functioning rural healthcare centres, etc.

Odisha view: Govt of India centralising power, 'destroying' cooperative federalism

Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Dr Gopabandhu Dash* 
The pandemic of Coronavirus has exposed all limitations of free market economies and anomalies in capitalist global economy. The world economy is in shambles. The unprecedented restrictive and unavoidable lockdown measures by governments across the world has led to the loss of livelihoods, growth of unemployment, economic stagnation and crisis. It is one of the biggest challenges in world history.

Situation 'worse' than Indira's Emergency: PUCL calls for concerned citizens' campaign

Counterview Desk The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India's premier human rights organization, in a statement issued on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Emergency, has described the situation today as worse than what it was on June 25, 1975, when the “Indian government waged a war on its own people, suspending the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Super Emergency? 'Pity the nation, oh pity the people, Who allow their rights to erode'

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Few will forget that infamous night of June 25/26, 1975 when emergency was declared in India. No right-thinking Indian will ‘celebrate’ that event as one marks its 45th anniversary. There will be some muted voices perhaps, who will attempt to justify its imposition. There will certainly be no lover of Democracy who will count among them. Abrogating, denying or even suspending the Constitutional rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizens of a country is a non-negotiable and not acceptable.

A reform move? Plan to auction 41 coal blocks 'on behalf of' powerful business lobbies

Counterview Desk
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), India’s major civil society network, has asked the of India to immediately revoke the auction of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining in order to “stop corporate loot in eco-sensitive and Schedule V Adivasi areas of Central and Eastern India”.

45th anniversary of Emergency: How RSS leaders 'kowtowed' to Indira Gandhi

By Shamsul Islam* 
RSS is a Hindutva gurukul (university) which appears to be specializing in training cadres in speaking lies and manufacturing history. As a latest proof, we find on the 45th anniversary of the Emergency, an ideologue of RSS, Ram Madhav, a prominent graduate of the above gurukul, to claim that Indian democracy survives due to "leaders in the government who fought for that very freedom and are committed to liberal democratic values, not just as a matter of compulsion but as an article of faith."

Big Brother 'watching': Isn't it worse than Emergency, perhaps close to dystopia?

By Pushkar Raj*
As we commemorate suspension of democracy in India during Emergency in 1975, it is disturbing to note that police are on spree to arrest and detain people and send them to jail as arbitrarily as then. Police knock at the door of journalists and social activists; one can be charged for airing views on television, or posting comments on social media.

Social, digital divide puts disadvantaged at risk of 'learning' losses, dropping out

By Our Representative 
Lauding the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) 2020 of UNESCO, which highlights the need to make education a universal right for all, the Right to Education (RTE) Forum has demanded the government and policy makers in India should pay immediate attention towards this as it has become crucial at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has further exacerbated the existing inequalities in society.

Remove Manu statue from Rajasthan HC: 600 Dalit activists write to Sonia Gandhi

Counterview Desk
A letter by well-known Dalit rights leader Macwan Macwan, signed by over 600 concerned citizens, including scholars, writers, teachers, activists and journalists, has asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intervention to remove the statue of Manu from the Rajasthan High Court premises.

Was Rahul ill-advised? By criticizing Modi, did he try to appease Chinese?

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
It seems that Rahul Gandhi has decided not to grow. Rahul’s displaced questions to the Narendra Modi government appears to be more as an effort to vitiate the atmosphere of patriotism. It only further helps bury the image of the already shattered Congress. Amidst trying circumstances at the India-Chinese borders, he asked where Modi was hiding.

Pandemic, subsequent lockdown used as excuse for media 'clampdown': PUCL

Counterview Desk
Asking the Government of India and state governments to stop “criminalizing” free speech and protect journalism, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said that the latest victim of media crackdown is new portal “Scroll” executive editor Supriya Sharma, wrote an eight part series on the suffering imposed by the lockdown in Varanasi, exposing the loss of livelihoods and hunger faced by the marginalized”.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

NGO effort to quell hunger better than govt, religious trusts: German-funded survey

Counterview Desk
A survey by the Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi Research Group and the Karwan-e-Mohabbat campaign undertaken to address key questions of how India’s labouring classes have had to cope with the strictest lockdown the world between March 25 and May 31, has talked of “continued humanitarian crisis of joblessness, intense food insecurity and massive dislocation of workers.”

Lack of jobs: Uttarakhand's 68% 'returned migrants' want to go back, says survey

By Our Representative
A telephonic survey, conducted among 323 returned migrant workers in hill districts of Uttarakhand, has revealed that even though they have returned from the places they worked – mainly Mumbai, Delhi NCR, other districts of the state and Rajasthan – majority of the respondent (68%) would like go back to their destination places in the absence of employment opportunities in their native places of the state.

Modi's 'ruthless' neighbours: Will US come to rescue India in case of war with China?

By NS Venkataraman*
There are still six months left in the year 2020 and it is difficult to predict as to how the India-China confrontation would turn during this period. It is crystal clear that India has no territorial ambition and has no desire to be involved in military confrontation with neighbouring countries, in the absence of provocation.

Why refugees do matter, should be made to feel welcome, protected, integrated

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
On June 20 the United Nations observed yet another ‘World Refugee Day’. In a statement for the day the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said:
“We are marking this year’s World Refugee Day against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis. Not only are record numbers of people forced to flee their homes, but the world is grappling with Covid-19, a disease that is still very much affecting us all. What started as a health crisis has expanded, and today many of the most vulnerable – refugees and the displaced amongst them – face a pandemic of poverty.

‘Distancings’ taking us away from making of aspirational, new, smart India-III

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*
The implicit presence of array of distances between the long standing social distancings and the pandemic’s requirement of physical distancing prevailing in the country, became more explicit rather exposed in the last few years and more so in the Covid-lockdown period. Those distances are Political, Economic, Judicial, and Intellectual, besides the prolonged Environmental/Ecological distancing.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

World Bank 'fails to provide' safeguards for engagement of private sector in education

Counterview Desk
In a collective letter, 1400 signatories, including education networks, teacher unions, grassroots organizations, academics, teachers and concerned citizens from 24 states have asked for the World Bank-supported quarter trillion rupees STARS education project to be delayed and wider public consultations held before its finalisation.

If poor are 'empowered' with govt healthcare, they wouldn't go to charity for help

By Dr Maya Valecha*
Let us understand each issue point by point. First of all I must thank you for initiating this mind churning discussion. It’s your response that has started discussion.
Let me make it clear right in the beginning that what is being proposed right now is that the huge resources of our country, material and human in private hands, specially in allopathy, to be taken to serve the public interest, because that resource is built by public money in the form of loans and used for many unnecessary investigations, drugs and surgeries.

SC's 'belated' order on migrant workers: Whither high ideals of judicial activism, PIL?

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
The Covid-19 lockdown in India has witnessed an unfathomable scale of internal migration, displacement, tragedies, and human sufferings not seen since the time of partition 70 years ago. The haphazard manner in which the government implemented the lockdown resulted in absolute chaos when crores were forced by cruel circumstances to go back to their homes using any means and routes they could get hold of.

Healthcare: Total nationalisation can mean 'strengthening' bureaucracy, state power

By KP Sasi*
Nationalisation of healthcare is not a simple idea to be pushed. Even with the existence of the private sector and the public sector in healthcare we are not in a position to deal sufficiently with the healthcare that is required. The non-government sector includes a large number of charities and missions in deep areas in India.