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Showing posts from January, 2020

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

Manuben Gandhi (left) with Gandhiji and Abha Gandhi 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

Screenshot from Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning biopic on the Mahatma 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.

Gandhiji's murder: Hindutva zealots today 'demolishing' whatever was dear to him

By Shamsul Islam* The October 6, 2019 issue of "Organizer", English organ of RSS, was dedicated to 'Mahatma Gandhi', celebrating his birthday; the October 2. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi who identifies himself as 'a Hindu nationalist' also remembers Gandhiji regularly, his ideological parent, RSS displaying Gandhiji's photo too in some of its meetings.

Amit Shah for sure didn't visit Gujarat twice around Makarsankranti just to fly kites

By RK Misra* With a critically important election in Delhi and the country in the grip of a debilitating anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-Nation Register of Citizens (NRC) stir, there has to be more than just ‘kite flying’ that brought Union home minister Amit Shah twice to Gujarat in a matter of ten days.

Madhya Pradesh Dalit-Adivasi meet seeks anti-CAA resolution from state assembly

By Our Representative Thousands of Adivasis, Dalits, farmers and other common citizens gathered in Barwani district to protest against National Population Register (NPR), National Citizen Register (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) under the banner 'Save the Constitution Jan Andolan', raising the demand from the Madhya Pradesh government to pass a resolution in the Legislative Assembly regarding not implementing NPR in the state.

Rampant demolition: Maharashtra govt told to declare rehab policy for slumdwellers

By Our Representative In a major relief to around 1,500 families of a Cuffe Parade slum in Mumbai, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has upheld the rehabilitation rights of slum dwellers living on mangrove land. MSHRC directed the Maharashtra chief secretary to form a committee of experts in order to make a rehabilitation plan for the families of Ambedkar Nagar slum in Cuffe Parade.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

How political identity of J&K has been 'systematically usurped' by rightist politics

Omar Abdullah, then and now By Sandeep Pandey*, Rajendran Narayanan** The decision on August 5, 2019 to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A and division and downgrading of State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union Territories J&K and Ladakh was taken in a most undemocratic manner without consulting a single person of J&K. The State Assembly is not in existence for 18 months now.

Women, students lead anti-CAA protests to 'reclaim' Indian Republic in 70th year

By Nachiketa Desai* Seventy years after the people of India gave themselves a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic, the youth from university campuses and women in towns across the country are up in arms to reclaim the republic from a fascist regime out to impose a Hindu nation.

Lack of adequately budgeted funds: 93% of wage payments 'delayed' in January

By Our Representative Demanding “adequate budget” for schemes under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has revealed that, as on January 17, 2020, 93% of wage payments were pending for the month, pointing out, “Every financial year, from the third quarter onwards, the funds for NREGA dry up” and “work slows down and delays in wage payments escalate.”

Jharkhand: Written commitment sought to ban NPR/NRC, declare CAA black law

By Our Representative Country-wide agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)/ National Register of Citizens (NRC) took a new turn in Ranchi on the Republic Day as thousands gathered in Idgah Maidan (Kadru) for a long evening of protest songs, poems and plays. The programme, “Ek Shaam Samvidhan ke Naam”, was held to reassert the constitutional values of liberty, equality and solidarity at a time when Indian democracy is allegedly under threat.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Top Congress leader Mistry suggests solution to end 'impasse' by amending CAA

Martin Macwan explaining Constitution house By Rajiv Shah A senior Congress leader, considered close to interim party president Sonia Gandhi, has suggested a way out of the current impasse on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is being opposed across India for making religion as the basis for providing citizenship to the persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Nirbhaya case: Death penalty being used to 'distract' public from state accountability

By Our Representative Even as the date for the execution of Nirbhaya rape case convicts -- Akshay Kumar Singh, Mukesh, Pawan Kumar and Vinay Sharma -- draws nearer (February 1, 2020), the Coalition Against Sexual Violence and the Death Penalty has said that "execution is not the solution to the problem of sexual crimes. It is only a spectacle created to distract us."

Invitation to 'misogynistic, homophobic, anti-people' Brazilian president 'outrageous'

Counterview Desk As many as 23 civil rights organizations and 134 individual activists and experts from different fields have taken strong exception to the Narendra Modi government making Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro the chief guest at the prestigious Republic Day parade, to take place at the India Gate in New Delhi on January, stating that he is "a threat to democratic values, indigenous people and environment."

India's 30% girls from poorest families have never set foot inside a classroom: RTE Forum

The fact-sheet being released on January 24 By Our Representative A fact-sheet released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, a network of 10,000 civil society organizations across 19 states, has revealed that girls are twice less likely as boys to receive 4 years of schooling. It further said, 30% of girls from the poorest families have never set foot inside a classroom, and 40% of adolescent girls between ages 15-18 years are not attending any educational institution.

Rise in child labour in S. Gujarat? Reason: Sugarcane harvesting isn't yet hazardous

Counterview Desk A note on mapping of the condition of the children of migrant sugarcane harvesters in South Gujarat, prepared by the Centre For Labour Research And Action (CLRA) -- an organisation working for the rights and welfare of unorganised and migrant workers -- has said that in spite of the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Amendment Act, 2016, the number of child and adolescent labour is increasing.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index: India drop 10 ranks to 51st position

By Our Representative The latest edition of the Democracy Index spells gloom for India. The world’s biggest democracy slipped 10 places in the 2019 global ranking to 51st place. The survey published on January 22 attributes the primary cause of “the democratic regression” to “an erosion of civil liberties in the country”. India’s overall score fell from 7.23 to 6.9, on a scale of 0-10, within a year (2018-2019) — the country’s lowest since 2006. The average global score also recorded its worst value ever, down from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44, driven by a sharp regression in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, a lesser one in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and by stagnation in the remaining regions that were covered. The report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit — the research and analysis division of The Economist Group, which is the sister company to The Economist newspaper — records how global democracy fared, analysing 165 independent states and two territori

How climate change 'refugees' became victims of citizenship scrutiny in Assam

Sabita Biswas Counterview Desk Of the many people struggling to prove their citizenship in Assam are thousands of climate refugees who have been displaced because their lands have been swept away by erosion or floods, says a report in The Third Pole, pointing out, the situation has created mistrust between mainlanders and those staying on the chars (riverine islands) or on the banks of the Brahmaputra, the transboundary river that starts in Tibet and flows right through the Assam valley before entering Bangladesh.

How RTI Amendment Bill was passed undermining pre-legisaltive consultation rule

By Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri* In 2019, regressive amendments were made to the Right to Information (RTI) Act to empower the Central government to prescribe through rules, the tenure, salaries and other terms and conditions of service of information commissioners across the country.

Why India's powerful film industry is yet to get on board with climate action

Counterview Desk India’s first carbon-neutral film, “Aisa Yeh Jahaan”, was released in 2015. But the concept has not taken off in India as yet, argues Kartik Chandramouli in a report in the environmental journal Mongabay-India. According to him, at a time when carbon-intensive industries such as energy and aviation are highlighted in the fight against climate change, the film industry is yet to get on board with climate action. The report points out, “Sustainable practices in the resource-intensive film industry could help reduce emissions as well as build awareness.” Text: Biswajeet Bora’s 2015 Hindi feature film Aisa Yeh Jahaan not only showcased the alienation of urban denizens from nature but also demonstrated that even the film industry can take action to tackle climate change. The film was India’s first carbon-neutral film. Bora’s desire to make such a film, together with the work of the Centre for Environmental Research and Education ( CERE ), made the initial inspirat

Gujarat CM 'fails' to address Vadodara river's eco-destruction by real estate developers

Counterview Desk Rohit Prajapati, environmental activist with the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, researcher and writer, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and senior officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Union of India, and their counterparts in the Gujarat, has said taken strong objection to the taking a meeting with concerned authorities on Vishwatri riverfront project despite objections by legal authority.

UP's 70-90% marginal farmers 'forced to sell' sugarcane at 40-50% lower prices

Counterview Desk An Oxfam study, “Human Cost of Sugar: A farm-to-mill assessment of sugar supply chain in Uttar Pradesh”, conducted in 58 villages across 5 districts of Uttar Pradesh – Meerut, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Lakhimpur Kheri and Muzaffarnagar – has found that sugarcane cultivation is the primary source of income for 67% of the marginal and 95% for the small farmers, but as high as 60% of the farmers, said that their basic quota of sugarcane supply is usually less than their actual produce by anywhere between 150-220 quintals.

A case for perjury? Claim in petition before Madras HC: RSS did not hate Muslims, Islam

Golwalkar, Hegdewar By Shamsul Islam* This dossier is in continuation to my request to friends in Tamil Nadu that democratic-secular organizations/individuals must intervene in this case so that anti-national RSS fails to manipulate/use higher judiciary for hiding its toxic communal agenda. I have reproduced original RSS documents (except one by Rajeshwar Dayal ICS who was the first home secretary of UP after independence) for use in the court. The original documents can be provided on demand.

Instead of providing security, Jagmohan 'engineered' relocation of Kashmiri Pandits

By Praveen Kabthiyal* There is a need to do some reading on Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) and why they fled from the valley. Between 1990 and 2007 the number of KPs killed in the valley was 399, out of which around half were killed in the first year.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel* Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating   its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

AIIB's water strategy contradicts itself, 'allows' privatisation of essential commodity

Counterview Desk China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) recently came up with a draft Water Sector Strategy  in order to play what it calls "unique and catalytic role" in improving the efficiency of the water sector through the application of innovative technologies. However, an analysis by Gaurav Dwivedi for the civil rights organization, Centre for Financial Analysis (CFA), says that AIIB contradicts itself when it says that water is a basic necessity and can also be treated as an economic good.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

CAA-NPR-NRC: Vengeful state repression, esp in BJP-ruled states, 'deeply' concerning

Azim Premji University students' protest against CAA, NRC Counterview Desk Faculty, post doctoral researchers and members of the Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, in a statement against allegedly undemocratic practices in the wake of "vengeful" state repression against peaceful protestors, have asked the Government of India (GoI) to set up an independent body to impartially look into recent cases of campus violence.

Modi's love for Christians in India's neighours amidst 'persecution' within country

By Shamsul Islam* No ruling elite on this earth can beat Hindutva rulers of India in hypocrisy and demagogue. Under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 the persecuted Christians in the neighbouring countries would be awarded Indian citizenship; a fine gesture. This love for persecuted Christians in the neighbourhood is to be evaluated not with a pinch of salt but a fistful of salt.

Protests return: Resurgence of far-right in US, Brazil, India hasn't gone unchallenged

By Feyzi Ismail* The first two decades of the 21st century saw the return of mass movements to streets around the world. Partly a product of sinking confidence in mainstream politics, mass mobilisation has had a huge impact on both official politics and wider society, and protest has become the form of political expression to which millions of people turn.

JNU VC 'should learn' from Aishe Ghosh: Every stick, rod to be countered with debate

Aishe Ghosh By Sandeep Pandey* Educational Institutions are meant to be places of learning and authorities managing them are expected to provide a liberal space where diversity of ideas can exist. Of course, this ideal is present at very few places but Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), before the Modi government came to power was one such place of international standing in India. It was comparable to the best institutions in the West in terms of their academic freedom, rigour and diversity.

Central RTI watchdog headless again: Pendency 34,500 up from 27,400 in a year

By Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri* The Central Information Commission (CIC) is without a Chief Information Commissioner once again. Chief Information Commissioner of the CIC, Sudhir Bhargava, retired on January 11, 2020. It was a routine retirement and his date of retirement was known from the time Bhargava took over as Chief. Despite this, the government failed to appoint the next Chief Information Commissioner in a timely manner and has allowed the CIC to become headless.

Condemn CAA, NRC, police brutality: US South Asia lawyers to American counterparts

Counterview Desk Several human and civil rights lawyers of South Asian descent, expressing "grave concern" about alleged legal abuses and human rights atrocities in India, have said that “the crisis unfolding in India today is rooted in a long history of impunity and failed democratic institutions.”

Feminists oppose death verdict to rape convicts: 'Politicians capitalising on pain'

Counterview Desk Following dismissal of the curative petitions filed by two convicts in the December 2012 case, feminists from across the country issued a statement to appeal to the President of India to stop the execution of all four persons convicted in the case. The signatories included organisations working on women and children’s rights as well as queer and trans rights, disability, environment and other people’s movements.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

China justifies Modi's whopping 4,200 hrs internet shutdown: Economic loss $1.3 billion

By Rajiv Shah India appears to be competing with terrorist-stricken north-central African nation, Chad, in the number of internet shutdowns. In 2019, says a recent report, released by the UK-based top10vpn.com, which provides services meant to protect online privacy, India experienced 4,196 hours of internet shutdown, next only to Chad, with 4,728 hours of internet shutdown.

Guided, shaped from above? India's complex, lethal 'counter-revolutionary' process

By Anand K Sahay* The architect of the Russian Revolution, its master strategist and grand thinker, Vladimir Lenin, whose genius brought about a cataclysmic shift for the better part of a century in the affairs of most parts of the world, once observed that life was more “cunning” than any theory or plan we may devise.

JNU attack: Deepika Padukone's 'silent protest' inspires us all, says Raghuram Rajan

Deepika Padukone at JNU Counterview Desk Writing on the masked attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students on January 5, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan has said in a blog on his LinkedIn timeline that there is no point in blaming leaders, because, after all, “it was the citizenry” that put them into office, and “acquiesced in their divisive manifesto, which they have taken as their marching orders.”

Meerut, Muzaffarnagar: Bullets, lathis 'hit' Muslims, houses looted, Hindus also angry

By Vimal Bhai* "Bring my son back". In a small room, Aalim's mother was crying. Next to her, Aalim's brother Salauddin said, "We want justice for everyone with whom something like this has happened." Municipal councilor Haji Noor Alam added, "The police was not giving the corpse back. We as well as the MLA had assured the police that we would bury the corpse in a small burial ground next to the house of a relative nearby. But they were reluctant."

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey** “Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Gujarat Dalits meet on Republic Day eve to 'examine': What's Indian Constitution about?

Constitution Home By Our Representative Martin Macwan, founder, Navsarjan Trust, Gujarat's premier Dalit rights organisation, has declared to hold a unique public programme at the Dalit Shakti Kendra, village Nani Devti, Sanand-Bavla Road, Sanand taluka, Ahmedabad district on January 25 at 11.30 AM: To release a toy-house which seeks to answer the simple question bogging large sections of people today, "What is the Indian Constitution about?"

SBI denies information under RTI regarding names of purchasers of electoral bonds

Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri* In November 2019, information accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act had revealed how the government pushed through the anonymous Electoral Bonds (EB) Scheme, ignoring warnings of the Election Commission of India and RBI, which termed anonymous funding via Electoral Bonds "a retrograde step" for transparency and highlighted that they would lead to money laundering and more black money in the system.

Orchestrated conspiracy was unleashed on JNU campus by rightwing 'hoodlums'

Counterview Desk The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), in a statement on the January 5 attack on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), has said that it was an “orchestrated conspiracy”, stating, it is “sufficiently clear” that the attack was one sided. “The street lights were turned off, entry was closed, the campus security let a murderous mob enter and even doctors and ambulances were attacked – all under the watch of Delhi Police that stood by as a mute spectator”. the statement, signed by PUDR secretaries Radhika Chitkara and Vikas Kumar, said.

Gujarat BJP rulers using state assembly for political ends: Former BJP chief minister

By Our Representative Former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta has accused the Gujarat government of "misusing" the state assembly for political ends. Referring to the decision to call one-day state assembly session on January 10, he told media in Ahmedabad that it has been called "without any agenda", adding, "MLAs have been kept in the dark about why the session has been summoned, yet the governor has issued notification for it."

Left youth bodies call JNU attack 'planned', SAARC varsity faculty is 'outraged'

By Our Representative Several Left-wing youth, students' and civil rights organisations condemning the violence "planned and meted out by groups of violent goons allegedly from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)" on students and faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on last Sunday, saying, all the while Delhi Police, present there, refused to prevent the goons from entering the campus, and remained "mute spectators in this entire ordeal."

Gujarat Congress MLA 'siding with attackers' of Dalit RTI activist: Civil society team

A fact-finding team member with Amit Parmar By Our Representative A civil society fact-finding team has taken strong exception to a Dalit MLA belonging to the Congress, Pravin Maru, for pressurizing the local administration in Botad district to take back the police complaint concerning brutal attack on Dalit rights and Right to Information (RTI) activist Amit Parmar, belonging to Khopala village. Instead of helping Parmar, the Congress MLA is siding of the attackers, Parmar’s family members alleged while talking with the team.

Delhi elections: People talk of long wait for ration card, aadhaar issues, starvation deaths

By Our Representative An interaction with representatives of political parties organised by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan in order to put forward demands ahead of the upcoming Delhi Assembly Elections has seen people pointing out how large number of people were being deprived of ration cards.