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Showing posts from February, 2020

Punjab, Haryana drop six ranks in MHRD school education index

By Our Representative Both Punjab and Haryana dropped down six notches in the national Performance Grading Index (PGI) of school education in 2018-19 since the previous year. The joint capital of the two states, the Union Territory of Chandigarh, has remained on top of the heap for the second consecutive year. According to a report of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for the year 2018-19, Haryana has come down to the 10th position from fourth in 2017-18 and Punjab has dropped from its 7th position to the 13th position during the same period. MHRD’s Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL) assesses the quality of school education through a Performance Grading Index (PGI). The PGI for states and UTs was first published in 2019 for 2017-18.

India's 703 land conflicts "locked" 7.2% of GDP in last 3 years: Oxfam-supported report

By Our Representative Identifying 703 ongoing land conflicts across India over the last three years, a new Land Conflict Watch (LCW) report has said that these have impacted over 65 lakh people and 21 lakh hectares (ha) of land, with "locked-in investments amounting to over Rs 13.7 lakh crore.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Chand Bagh: February 27 Counterview Desk A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

Huge 46 times rise in pollution level after Modi's 'favourite' Sabarmati riverfront ends

PSS activists Krishnakant and Rohit Prajapati displaying water samples By Our Representative In a major exposure, a joint investigation by an environmental organisation, Paryavaran Surksha Samiti (PSS), and a farmers’ rights organisation, Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has revealed that the pollution level of Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad rises by a whopping 46 times – from the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 4 mg/litre to COD to 184 mg/litre 25 kilomtres after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 11-kilmetre-long high-profile Sabarmati Riverfront ends at Vasna barrage.

BJP 'officially' received 3 times corporate-supported donations vs all other parties

By Our Representative A report, prepared by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), focusing on donations received by national political parties above Rs 20,000 during the financial year 2018-19, as submitted by the parties to the Election Commission of India (ECI), suggests of Rs 951.66 crore from 5,520 donations, the BJP received more than three times the total received by other major political parties analysed.

Mystery around who 'ate up' funds meant for Gujarat farmers suffering from crop failure

Farmers from Aniyali village: Real beneficiaries By Our Representative Claiming to have unearthed a major scam in the distribution of crop insurance funds to Gujarat farmers, a senior farmer rights leader, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that the real beneficiaries are not getting the amount due to them. Instead, he alleged, "non-farmers are benefitting... names are being changed..."

Govt's lackadaisical attitude towards 2002 riot victims 'intact' in Modi's home state

By Mahesh Trivedi* Eighteen years after the country’s worst anti-Muslim pogrom that left 2,000 people dead and thousands maimed, some 3,500 families, displaced because of the lackadaisical attitude of the government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat, continue to live in sub-human conditions.

All-encompassing ideology? Savarkar's Hindutva was 'on the fringe' till late 1990s

By Shamsul Islam* The term Hindutva took birth with the appearance of VD Savarkar's book “Hindutva” in 1923. Savarkar’s “Hindutva” was declared to be the “Holy book of Hindu sangathan or organization”. MS Golwalkar, who headed the RSS after KB Hedgewar, too regarded Savarkar’s Hindutva as a great scientific book which fulfilled the need of a text-book on Hindu nationalism (Dhananjay Keer, “Veer Savarkar”, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1988, p 527).

AAP's fake Gandhigiri? Mahatma had sought peace in Beliaghata, epicentre of riots

By Aviral Anand* In the days leading up to India’s independence, when communal violence roiled areas of Kolkata, Gandhi insisted on staying in Beliaghata, the Muslim-majority area, in the midst of deadly riots. Whatever one might think of Gandhi, he believed in walking the walk, and offering his own self as the physical mediator and presence in the event of a crisis. He was able to put his body on the line.

Persecute Kapil Mishra for 'instigating' Delhi riots: Petition to Chief Justice of India

Counterview Desk Well-known human rights organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has floated a an online petition asking the Chief Justice of India asking the judicial intervention at the highest level in order to hold BJP leader Kapil Mishra accountable for instigating violence in north-east Delhi, and prosecute him.

Kejriwal’s hands tied, Delhi Police under Home Ministry? No one muzzled his mouth

By Rakesh Sharma* #DelhiRiots #VigilanteViolence #DelhiBurning AAP aur Hum/ आप और हम: What terrible irony! 2012: Water cannons used against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) protestors. 2020: Water cannons used to disperse JNU, Jamia protestors outside chief minister Kejriwal’s residence.

India's worst economic crisis since 1991, combined with Modi's 'illiberal' polity: FT

Rahul Bajaj By Our Representative In a sharply-worded commentary titled “India is facing twin economic and political crises”, the top British daily “Financial Times” has noted that while India’s growth slowdown has been dramatic, its politics is taking “an aggressively illiberal turn”. The author, Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator, who was in India last week, says, powerful people in the industry agreed with this state of affairs “if only privately”, because of the prevailing atmosphere of fear.

Uncle Sam to milk India? Modi 'offer' to bail out US dairy industry may hurt Gujarat most

By RK Misra* There is an element of irony as India and Gujarat rolled out the red carpet to welcome US President Donald Trump. The Narendra Modi government move to give the US access to its dairy and poultry markets may help bail out the US milk industry but is set to hurt Gujarat and consequently India the most.

Trump in Ahmedabad: Did Modi display servile colonial mindset towards gora sahib?

By Rajiv Shah Donald Trump left Ahmedabad for Agra to "enjoy" the Mughal monument Taj Mahel in the afternoon on Monday, leaving behind scores of huge billboards standing across the megacity showcasing larger than life images of the US president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of them boldly captioned: “Two strong leaders of two strong democracies”.

Jharkhand govt told to implement promise to cancel Adani plant, address rights abuses

Counterview Desk The Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, network of people's organisations and activists, reminding the new state government of the promises it had made ahead of the budget session of the Jharkhand state assembly, has demanded withdrawal of all Pathalgadi cases, calling them human rights violations, set aside the “arbitrary” land acquisition law, and cancellation of the Adani power plant.

Namaste Trump? Modi's one upmanship key to 'welcoming' US President in Ahmedabad

By RK Misra* What is common between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and American President Donald Trump? A king size ego, giant size events and an obsession with walls that separate rather than bridges that bind!

Shaheen Bagh 'verdict': Public space and public realm in the light of peoples’ protest

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava* The Supreme Court on February 17, 2020, while hearing a plea against Shaheen Bagh road blockade, made an interesting observation cum interrogation saying that democracy works on expression of views but there are lines and boundaries and that people (protesters) cannot block public road indefinitely and create inconvenience for others; further adding that the "question is where can they demonstrate" .

Coronavirus fear: Recalling Gandhi as Pak refuses to bring back its citizens from China

By Prabhakar Sinha* The worldwide panic following the outbreak of coronavirus has further strengthened my belief that Gandhiji was one of the greatest human beings in human history like Christ and Buddha. He was so great not because of his politics or political ideology but his great humanity.

Catholic Bishops take exception to 'narrow, divisive' nationalism based false ideloogiies

Counterview Desk The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which met for its XXXIV plenary assembly, at the St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, on February 13-19, 2020, has, in a statement, said that “patriotism is different from narrow and divisive cultural nationalism, which is radically different from Constitutional nationalism.”

Hydro project: Nepal's indigenous people object to ADB, European bank funding

By Our Representative Indigenous communities affected by the Tanahu Hydropower Project in Nepal have filed complaints with independent watchdogs of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) -- two co-financiers of the project -- requesting an independent mediation process. The communities have alleged failure to uphold free, prior and informed consent and inadequate compensation for loss of lands and livelihoods.

Frequently evicted, Ahmedabad's 'untenable' slumdwellers seek viable rehabilitation

By Mina Jadav*  Nearly 1,000 residents of untenable slums of Ahmedabad held a public meeting at Sarangpur, Ahmedabad, and then marched to the Municipal Commissioner office at Danapeeth seeking an end to constant eviction of their settlements and decent shelter on February 20. The residents comprise of two groups of workers – seasonally migrant construction workers who migrate from the tribal belt comprising of Dahod in Gujarat and Jhabua and Banswara in neighbouring states and long-term migrants from the Nomadic Tribes and De-Notified Tribe (NTDNT) communities.

Focusing in backwardness, hold pre-budget dialogue with minorities: Gujarat govt told

By Our Representative A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation has demanded that the state government hold pre-budget consultations with representatives of minorities across the state. The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), which held a dialogue in Himmatnagar, a North Gujarat town, said that the allocation for the minorities should be in accordance with the proportion of the minorities.

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

Hurriedly built wall to "hide" poverty  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

Anjali Bhardwaj (right) during a protest in defence of RTI 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

Nehru announcing martyrdom of Gandhi on January 30, 1948 at Birla House 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.

Trump visit: New 1,640 ft wall built in Ahmedabad to hide slums

By Our Representative As President Donald Trump’s motorcade makes its way from the airport in the Indian city of Ahmedabad anticipating millions of cheering Indians waiting to greet him at a sprawling cricket stadium, there’ll be a few thousand locals hidden from view. The city’s municipal corporation has built a four-foot-high wall to hide a stretch of slums on the American leader’s route. Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to inaugurate and share the stage at Ahmedabad’s Motera cricket stadium at a public reception being touted as “Namaste Trump” on Feb. 24. Trump told reporters he expects some seven million people at the stadium and lining the streets to greet him at the start of his two-day trip. According to census data, which is nearly a decade old, the city’s population was 5.5 million though more recent estimates put it at over seven million.

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”.

Trump's visit: Civil rights body condemns construction of wall to hide squalor

Counterview Desk A civil rights organization, National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization (NCU), has condemned the construction of a wall in Ahmedabad to "hide" the slum on the route US President Donald Trump will take. The statement says, "This is rather not new; similar walls were constructed for other foreign dignitaries as well. For ages, India has been hiding its poor and calling it beautification. 10,000 basti dwellers were relocated for the surgical makeover of the Sabarmati river front, thus causing immense distress to the relocated families.

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

Chikhalda, the ghost village 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.

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

Fr Prakash detained at anti-CAA protest 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

Outsiders not allowed? Slab declares Burugulikera village sovereign territory 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.