Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2020

Fear of losing dedicated readers? Newspapers struggle to survive Covid-19, lockdown

By Nava Thakuria*
Newspapers in India face an uphill task to maintain its readership index as New Delhi declared for a complete lockdown till the middle of April because of pandemic Covid-19 outbreak in the large country. A shutdown that instantly prevented the vendors to deliver morning newspapers at their doorsteps of buyers and the rumour that the paper itself can carry the novel corona virus forced many publishers to drastically reduce their circulation figure.

Inadequate? 90% of Sitharaman's COVID-19 package 'includes' already running schemes

By Amarjeet Kaur*
The first round of announcement from the Finance Ministry for some sort of economic package for mainly the registered construction workers, women under Jan Dhan accounts, those families covered under Ujjawala for free cylinders and for farmers is inadequate. Much more needs to be done for the vast majority of workers who remain excluded.

Organize shelter for homeless, migrants sans violence, stigma: Petition to Thackeray

By Natash Maru*
On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown as a preventative action against the community spread of the novel coronavirus. But while we remain within the safety of our homes, the homeless, migrant workers, and people of nomadic and denotified nomadic tribes have found themselves stranded and shelterless in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Sitharaman's relief package half-meets poor people's expectations: Senior activists

Counterview Desk
In a critique of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Rs 1.7 lakh crore package to deal with the economic fallout of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, half-a-dozen senior activists have said, it would have been more appropriate to make such an announcement prior to the lockdown so that lakhs of migrant workers would not have panicked and travelled, creating distress and health hazards.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Seventeen years ago: Two unrelated but 'infamous' incidents in Gujarat's history

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Seventeen years ago, two seemingly unconnected, but strangely enough, inter-related incidents, took place in quick succession: the murder of Haren Pandya and the passing of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Bill. March 26, 2003 would surely go down to rank as one of the most infamous days in the history of Gujarat, and perhaps of India!

Sitharaman's package 'disrespectful': TUs, civil society networks, 900 people tell PM

By Our Representative
While taking note of the 1.7 lakh crore package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the poor in India, the Social Security Now (SSN) has said that the package is “inadequate” and “disrespectful” of the recipients as it involves transfer of less than Rs 1000 a month to their accounts, and justifies payment of wages less than minimum wages.

Cordoning corona pandemic: Unorganized workers 'highly vulnerable' to infection

By Dr S Jayaprakash, Bharathy, Dr Simi Mehta, Dr Balwant Singh Mehta, Dr Arjun Kumar, Dr Manish Priyadarshi*
We have had an information overdose on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), possible precautions, and treatments from this infection. The major facilitator for this has been the print, electronic and social media. This article focuses on the need for next level planning that is needed to protect the unorganized and informal labourers and those at the bottom of the ladder in India. Ascertaining these measures will answer the basic question whether the humanity still retains its rationality.
Impact on human and economic health In the past, various parts of the world have frequently been gripped by spread of different epidemics. Along with mortality, the fear psychosis of succumbing to the epidemic has often had negative consequences on the overall economy. For instance, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which infected 500 million people, which was about quarter of world population a…

Impact of COVID-19 in India, where stigma, public humiliation, lynching are 'endemic'

By Battini Rao*
India is passing through the second stage of the most serious health crisis in its recent history. How we respond to it as a society is crucial to mitigating the effect of COVID 19 virus on our individual health. Democracy is ultimately a system of social relationships, of everyone with everybody else that respects the twin principles of equality and individual autonomy, so that everyone becomes responsible to everyone else without the use of threat, fear, and social power.

Silicosis death of 4 Gujarat workers: NHRC takes 10 years to 'request' compensation

By Our Representative
After waiting for 10 long years of a complaint filed by a health rights organization, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the district collector, Bharuch, Gujarat, to take up the matter of paying compensation to the next of kin (NoK) of four confirmed cases of deaths due to the fatal occupational disease silicosis with the labour department, Rajasthan government.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

COVID-19: Top TU demands Rs 5 lakh crore package, as marginalised 'left in lurch'

Counterview Desk
One of India’s top trade union organizations, All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), in a statement, has taken strong exception to a “meagre” allocation of Rs 15,000 crore to fight the deadly coronavirus, has said that little is being done to help the marginalized sections of society, especially daily wagers, migrants, agriculture workers and self-employed persons like hawkers-vendors, porters, loaders, domestic workers etc. who are “losing their livelihood in the lockdown.”

India 'needs' likes of Oscar Romero, who fought injustice, divisiveness, xenophobia

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Forty years ago, on March 24, 2020, Archbishop Oscar Romero was brutally gunned down, whilst he celebrated the Eucharist in his native El Salvador. As the world remembers and celebrates the memory of this great Saint of our times, one is reminded of the three Ps that epitomised him: Prayer, Presence, Prophet.

COVID-19: 'Helpless' Gujarat govt can't supply midday meal, ICDS food to children

By Pankti Jog*
Following the coronavirus outbreak, the government declared closure of all schools and anaganwadis of Gujarat. While this is an essential preventive measure, evidence suggests, it has excluded lakhs of children, pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescent girls from nutrition support they were getting from the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

Stop harassing Sarvodaya leader: Ex-Gujarat BJP CM, 200 others write to Rupani

Counterview Desk
More than 200 academics, activists, students, business-persons, other concerned citizens have sought Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani's intervention to stop harassment of Gandhian Sarvodaya activist Lakhan Musafir, an active campaigner for tribal rights and opponent of land acquisition for the Statue of Unity tourism project.

Kovind on coronavirus: Govt is 'unwilling' to consider basic philosophical facts

By Sandeep Pandey*
The President of India Ram Nath Kovind has written an article on coronavirus reminding us that we are merely biological organisms, dependent on other organisms for survival and that humankind’s craving to control nature and exploit all its resources for profit can be wiped out in a stroke by a minuscule organism.

Anti-CAA, NPR protests amidst COVID-19: Women's groups ask govt to negotiate

Counterview Desk
Several women's organisations, collectives and individuals* have called upon the State and Central governments, institutions, authorities and elected representatives to urgently address take executive measures to ensure that the entire the process of National Population Register (NPR) data collection is deferred immediately.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian NGO: Adani mining site 'may turn' into COVID-19 breeding ground

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, an Australian environmental group, Frontline Action on Coal, has claimed that Adani Mining Carmichael mine site, being operated by the powerful Indian industrial house known to close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is operating in “full swing" during a time Australian states are closing their borders because of the COVID-19 crisis, with many states advocating for only supermarkets and pharmacies to be open.”

Govt's 'misleading' figures to Parliament: Corruption free J&K apple procurement?

By Our Representative
Publicised as a measure to ensure better economic development in the newly formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and corruption-free procurement, there appears to be little clarity at the highest level on the apples bought J&K growers under the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) that the Central and State/UT level governments claimed to have implemented through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED).

Leadership crisis: Will others in Congress emulate Scindia's 'business model' to join BJP?

By Anand K Sahay* 
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s defection to the BJP was a business decision. Once he lost the Lok Sabha election last May to his secretary, who had joined the BJP, Scindia would have known he would be following suit to protect his investment in politics at the present juncture.

How Matheran, a serene getaway, turned into a tourist hub with shameful irregularities

By Gajanan Khergamker*
Matheran, a hill station in Maharashtra, finds itself mired in controversies. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has flayed the much-touted Zonal Master Plan (ZMP), formulated after a whopping 15 year delay, for being ‘faulty and incomplete’ leading to a violation of environmental laws. NGT has prevented any new constructions in the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) and put brakes on all things spanking new and ‘developmental’ until concerns raised by environment groups under the eco-sensitive zone notifications are tackled.

Filthy rich love junk food and Modi, and are 'macabrously scared' of coronavirus

By Chandra Vikash*
Of the four deaths reported on account of coronavirus in a nation of 1.3 billion even on the 50th day of the #CoronaVirusPandemic, all of them are comorbidity cases, meaning that they were already severely ill from lifestyle diseases. So, if we really care for human lives, and I agree with fellow traveller Smita Sharma, that every life is precious, we should do the utmost to change our diseased lifestyles. Where do we start?

Cononavirus crisis 'giving rise' to racism, maskophobia against Chinese, migrants

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The coronavirus pandemic is battering lives and wreaking havoc in world economy at the same time. This worldwide health and economic crisis reveal the inherent structural fault lines within neoliberal economic system dominated by global corporations. The fault lines are further exacerbated by the amoral market led states that protect interests of big businesses and pharmaceutical corporations.

COVID-19 'pushes' Jharkhand to economic crisis as migrants return from Maharashtra

Counterview Desk
The civil rights organization Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand, has called for urgent overhaul of social security and public health system in the state even as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is beginning to be felt in the state. In a statement, Asharfi Nand Prasad, convener of the campaign, said it is not just the pandemic that concerns the state.

Sanitary workers 'most unprotected' against coronavirus, Gujarat CM told to act

By Our Representative
Manav Garima, a grassroots voluntary organization, which works for the amelioration of the sanitary workers of Gujarat, has raised the alarm that the coronavirus pandemic may harm those involved in different types of cleaning work on streets, in gutters and canals, collecting garbage from individual households and societies, cleaning public toilets, and disposing of dead animals.

Well-established? Why now no one will mind suggestion of Hindu riots or Hindu terror

By Aviral Anand*
Dange Hote Rahe Hain, It’s a Part of Life”, said Haryana Minister Ranjit Chautala on Delhi violence on February 27, 2020.
The now normalised, almost impersonal, term, “dange,” communal clashes, points to the tiresome predictability of so-called Hindu-Muslim confrontations, almost in the mock-exasperated tone of “boys will be boys.” Yes, it has come to that.

Stop celebrations, think: Feminist group comments on Nirbhaya rapists' execution

By Our Representative
A Delhi-based “feminist autonomous women's group” claiming to work on violence against women for over three decades, condemning the hanging of the four December 2012 gang rape and murder convicts, has asserted that “capital punishment is not the answer, it has never worked as a deterrent for any crime.”

26% fall in RTI pleas, Gujarat departments 'not registering' applications: MAGP

By Our Representative
The annual report of the Gujarat’s State Information Commission (SIC) for 2018-19 submitted to the state legislative assembly on the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act shows that there are over 4,800 cases pending before the SIC, even as five commissioners’ posts are vacant.

Prime Minister’s speech people of India wished they could hear at 8 pm yesterday

By Leo Saldanha*
My dear brothers and sisters,
The global pandemic of COVID-19, a viral flu, has cost thousands of lives and made thousands more sick. It has brought the world to a grinding halt.
As humanity faces its gravest challenge in recent decades, it is a time for the world to reflect on what we must do right, from now on. While India joins the community of nations to tackle the pandemic, this requires us to take effective steps within our country to contain the disease, so we can save lives and ensure a secure future for all.

Scindia effect: India’s 'sole' stakeholder of freedom struggle sinking into Modi quagmire

By RK Misra*
There is this tale about the wise man and the fool.
The wise man does at once what the fool does finally, said Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political philosophy and science.
Whether Jyotiraditya Scindia is the wiseman, and the Congress a fool, is best left for posterity to decipher but current facts bode a different political script .

Lignite-based power plant in Bhavnagar dumping effluents, 'polluting' groundwater

By Our Representative 
The Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL), the state-owned electricity generation company, is in the eye of storm in the rural areas of Bhavnagar district for allegedly polluting groundwater sources. Running lignite-based power plant in Padva village of Ghogha taluka of the district, GSECL took over the plant from another state-run Bhavnagar Energy Company Ltd about 18 months ago.

Restrictions in the name of COVID-19? Authoritarian clampdown predicted

Counterview Desk
In a background paper on understanding the COVID-19 epidemic in the context of India health rights organizations, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), have argued that, faced with such a disaster on this scale, “governments often resort to blaming the victims and use authoritarian exercise of power that would distract from its failures. This has happened in the past, and it could happen again.”

COVID-19: NGOs warn India's 'excessive' dependence on private healthcare

Counterview Desk
In a statement, two health rights organisations, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) have warned that while the Government of India has "reacted swiftly" to the COVID19 (coronavirus) epidemic by curtailing international travel, but the government knows, the worst is yet to come.

Fossil fuel air pollution costs India 5.4% of GDP, lead to 9.81 lakh preterm births

By Our Representative
Pointing towards the economic cost of air pollution, a recent report by top international environmental NGO Greenpeace has said that China, the United States and India “bear the highest costs from fossil fuel air pollution worldwide, at an estimated US$900 billion, US$600 billion and US$150 billion (Rs 10.7 lakh crore) per year, respectively.”

India's 'improved' air quality due to market slowdown, Delhi most polluted world capital

By Rajiv Shah
Stating that, regionally, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East carry the highest burden of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution overall, a high-profile report, jointly prepared by the top environmental NGO Greenpeace has said, "Of the world’s top 30 most polluted cities during 2019, 18 are located in India, 28 in South Asia, and all the top 30 cities are within greater Asia."

Citizenship row: Over 1100 women sign letter asking 29 CMs to delink NPR, Census

By Our Representative
Even as the Government of India (GoI) is going ahead with the "updation" of the National Population Register (NPR) starting April 1, 2020, prominent women's rights leaders have released a letter addressed to 29 chief ministers stating that, "irrespective of caste and religious community", women across the country will be adversely affected by the "new NPR-National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) citizenship regime."

Slowdown impact: Joblessness in India may cross 8%, people quitting labour market

By Our Representative
A 30-day moving average of the unemployment rate during most of the first week of March 2020 was over 8 per cent, even though the ended with an unemployment rate of 7.71 per cent, Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO of one of India’s top consulting firms, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), has said.

Peace, normalcy? People's tribunal on Delhi riots questions role of Amit Shah, cops

Counterview Desk
Drawing parallel with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a People's Tribunal on Delhi Carnage organised by human rights several organizations at the Constitution Club of India sharply criticised underreporting of the death count as also damages by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha on March 11, 2020 while addressing the house on riots.

Ninth death in about a year because of deadly silicosis in Gujarat's top ceramic hub

By Our Representative
With the death of Dinesh Palji Jitiyua, 50, who passed way after suffering from silicosis at the Rajkot Civil Hospital on March 13, in all nine persons have succumbed to the fatal occupational disease over the last about a year in Than, the hub of ceramic industry in Gujarat.

Does Gujarat govt believe working for tribal land rights is communal mindset?

By Sagar Rabari* 
Sarvodaya worker Lakhan Musafir has been served a notice by Rajpipla Sub-Divisional Magistrate barring his entry in five Gujarat districts (Narmada, Bharuch, Vadodara, Chhota Udepur and Tapi) for two years. Citing a police report, KD Bhagat, sub-divisional magistrate, Rajpipla in the notice states that:

Spike in Gujarat’s public debt has been 'consistent' with increase in Modi influence

By RK Misra*
Estimates may deign to deceive but figures ferret out facts. In Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, the government’s cumulative public debt has shot up to an astronomical Rs 2,96,268 crore which is almost Rs 75,000 crore higher than the size of the state’s budget estimates of Rs 2,17,287 for 2020-21 placed in the State Assembly on February 26.

Deaths in anti-CAA protests: UP police 'pressuring' kin not to pursue murder cases

Counterview Desk
The Delhi-based collective, Citizens Against Hate (CAH), in its new 206-page report, “Everyone has been Silenced: Police Excess Against anti-CAA protesters in Uttar Pradesh, and Post-Violence reprisal”, has alleged that the police are not been “disclosing, admitting to, or registering cases of deaths by police firing”, adding, this is happening despite “ground reports” by affected persons, civil society organisations, and the media.
Prepared by a research team* under the guidance of well-known scholar Henri Tiphagne, among others, the report says, based on on-the-spot inquiries in December-January in the nine districts where violence took place Bijnor, Firozabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Rampur, Sambhal and Varanasi, the report says that all that the UP Police has done is only to project “denials and contradictions in disclosing how many deaths have occurred due to police firing.”
The result is, it adds, First Information Reports (FIRs) registered to…

Delhi riots: Evading investigation, sections of media 'happily' offered police version

Counterview Desk
The Press Club of India (PCI), in a statement signed by its president Anand K Sahay and general secretary Anant Bagaitkar, even as conceding that "intrepid" journalists "went out in the midst of violence, risking their life and limb" during Delhi riots the four-day in order to tell stories and offer visuals, has come down heavily on the media "friendly to the government" for failing to do "fuller" investigation and accepting police version.

Journalists' murder: No respite from attack on press freedom in South Asia, world over

By Nava Thakuria*
Even as attacks on journalists continue unabated in South Asia and across the world, Pakistan has reported the murder of a journalist this year, whereas India has so far not reported any across the country. Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) indicates that nine journalists have been killed till date this year while on duty. Highest number of casualties are reported from Iraq (3) followed by Syria (2), Pakistan (1), Somalia (1), Nigeria (1) and Paraguay (1).

Delhi riots: Seeking to 'criminalise' women protesters, govt floats conspiracy theories

By Our Representative
Ten women's groups and more than 100 individuals* led by economist Devaki Jain, historian Uma Chakravarti and activist-writer Farah Naqvi in a statement issued in the wake of violence that gripped Delhi in the last week of February have regretted that, instead of holding the people who incited violence accountable, there is a rush to spin arbitrary conspiracy theories.

Victory for local Dalits: London authorities 'agree' to turn Ambedkar House into Museum

By Our Representative
There is good news on the Ambedkar House in London. While the permission to convert this house into a museum was refused by the local authorities, thanks to the Maharashtra government, which assisted a number people in London appeal against the decision, after a lengthy public inquiry, it has become possible to convince the authorities and the permission has been granted. Now the house has officially become Ambedkar Museum.

Delhi riots: Saffron report admits cop failure, blames 'Left-jehadi' guerrilla tactics

By Rajiv Shah
A new “fact-finding” report, taking a line similar to that of Union home minister Amit Shah, who has termed Delhi riots “pre-planned” and “part of a conspiracy”, has admitted that “the police and law enforcement agencies were on a back-foot” during the riots which have claimed more than 50 lives, rendering hundreds injured and thousands homeless.

Scindia 'wasn't alone', Gaekwad took British help to crush Saurashtra Vagher rebellion

By Our Representative
Jyotiraditya Scindia, on joining BJP, has reportedly invoked forgotten history -- the Scindia's forefathers had joined the British during the first was of Indian independence, 1857. Well-known social activist and researcher Nandini Oza has now revealed that the Scindias were not alone in their support to the British.