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Showing posts from April, 2020

Transgender community 'shocked' at timing, manner of seeking feedback on draft rules

By Our Representative
Responding to the “announcement” by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) seeking public feedback for the draft rules of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, more than 150 members of the transgender community in a letter to the minister of social justice and empowerment have strongly protested against a very limited time period of 12 days for sending suggestions, that too during lockdown.

Need for nationalisation? COVID-19 puts private healthcare services in doldrums

By Sandeep Pandey*
Ram Shankar met with a fatal hit-and-run accident in rural area of Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh on April 16, 2020 and was referred by the District Hospital to Trauma Centre of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow. He could not be admitted there and was referred to nearby Balrampur Hospital. From there he was referred to Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.

Fear of Covid-19 lockdown bites: Hunger, thirst over Khadir in Greater Rann of Kutch

By Gazala Paul*
Around this time last year, large parts of Kutch reeled under extreme drought conditions: several water bodies, reservoirs and canals across the desert-like district were dry; different marginal communities survived on scarce water and some food grains; small slivers of cultivable land were parched; cattle, that precious means of livelihood, turned into living skeletons.

Lights, sound... lockdown: How Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, went into slumber

By Gajanan Khergamker*
As it peeped from between two parked cars, a couple of policemen, masked and armed, holding fort at South Mumbai’s Babulnath Zone turned abruptly in response. Anticipating a motorcyclist breaking the lockdown and zipping through the parked vehicles, a police constable bolted towards the spot, a hand holding onto his mask and another with a raised baton only to find a peacock emerging and fanning out its full plumage.

Ahmedabad scribe's view from New Jersey... Loved and lost: dedicated to the grieving

By RK Misra*
“Grief is a lonely and confusing experience, even in less troubled times. But in the current season, death has been turned inside out; the bodies are crowding together at makeshift morgues, and the bereaved are left isolated in a tomb of loss”, says Belinda Luscombe writing on ‘Grief During Caronavirus’ in the April 27, 2020 issue of "Time" magazine aptly titled, "Finding Hope".

GoI 'violating' Supreme Court directions: Information commissioners' appointment

By Our Representative
Well-known right to information (RTI) activists Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore (Retd) Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri have alleged that the Government of India (GoI) is continuing to violate Supreme Court directions on appointment of information commissioners to the Central Information Commission (CIC), India’s RTI watchdog.

Lockdown: Combatting misinformation from WhatsApp university, other media

By Rohit Prajapati*
Lockdown. Lockdown is a statement in it itself. It encompasses strategies, methods, time-period, plans, and tools for helping and managing people’s behaviour in such extreme situations in a country, state, or other units of governments. From locking a house to businesses, to industries to neighbourhoods, and even to the entire state or country, there is a different way to go about implementing lockdown in each of them.

New India? A case for urgent transfer of public health from state to concurrent list

By Uday Shankar, Simi Mehta, Shubham Pandey*
The success of janata (public) curfew and the discipline demonstrated by the citizens of India during the nationwide lockdown has conveyed the message of citizen-government cooperation in the effort to contain the menace of coronavirus.

Corruption amidst Covid-19: Up to Rs 100 'charged' for grains to antyodaya card holders

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Bhartiya Janata Party-led government in India has a penchant for doing things in a 'surgical strike' manner, a much publicised military operation they carried out against Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out demonetisation in November 2016 at a few hours’ notice leaving the common citizens stranded with Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes which had suddenly become illegal.

Rocked by deindustrialisation, Bengal 'lags behind' erstwhile poor neighbour Odisha

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Historically, the idea of Bengali renaissance and anti-colonial struggles dominated the folklores of Indian intellectual awakening, political consciousness, and social reforms led by upper caste and upper-class Hindus. “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow” reflects Eurocentric propaganda based on narrow nationalist glory.

Ahmedabad's 74% poor households 'not earning' income regularly: IIM-A study

By Our Representative
An Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) study on the impact of lockdown on the marginalized households has found that that around 74% households reported “not earning regular incomes anymore” and 60% reporting that their current food supply would last “for less than a week”.

Lockdown time is that ‘Aahaa!’ moment to reform teaching and learning architecture

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*
The massive online teaching has arrived in big way finally in India! Thanks to the covid-lockdown, online teaching at most schools, colleges and universities are upped pan India. The Zoom, Outlook Teams, WatsApp, Skype, Classroom are some of the crucial teaching and learning tools. As teachers, while we are learning to teach, we are also teaching to learn.

Gujarat govt move for fewer Covid-19 tests 'pushing' people to edge: Activists, academics

By Our Representative
About 100 concerned citizens, including top social activists and experts, have strongly protested against the Gujarat government’s alleged move to “dictate” the medical community to “reduce” Covid-19 tests in order to suggest that the state has fewer number of cononavirus positive patients, stating, this is nothing but “criminal negligence” which would “push people towards death without their knowledge.”

Gurugram's distressed people don't have food coupons, getting ration 'seems distant'

By Our Representative
The Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), an NGO which claims to be providing an average of 350 ration kits per day since March 27, the third day of the lockdown, and about 25,000 cooked meals every day since April 4, has complained that the Haryana government’s response has “lagged behind the stark reality of distress” due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Ensure hungry persons are eligible for grain: Delhi High Court to state government

By Our Representative
The Delhi High Court bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh, hearing a petition filed by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyaan (DRRAA), has directed the Delhi government file a status report on whether all ration shops disbursing foodgrains are open during working hours from 9 am -1 pm and 3 pm-7 pm on all seven days and providing these to the needy.

On hunger strike at home, young Uttarkhand labour rights leader charged with obstruction

By Our Representative
A young labour rights activist and student from Uttarakhand, who happens to be secretary of the Lalkuan Unit of Parivartankami Chhatra Sangathan (PACHHAS), has charged by the Uttarakhand police for participating in a day-long hunger strike from inside his home, demanding provisions for workers, students and other people bereft of food and supplies due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

Roll back full lockdown, it's being used to 'brutally' assault, beat people: PUCL to Modi

By Our Representative India’s premier human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a 3,600 word statement, has demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in consultation with chief ministers, should immediately consider rolling back of the full lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, insisting, if it all, India should “have calibrated, limited lockdown areas.”

Exodus of migrant workers from Delhi: Where are the data to help foresee the crisis?

By PC Mohanan, Arjun Kumar* Large scale exodus of migrant labourers from Delhi following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis stirred up the nation’s conscience. Haunting scenes of people defying the law enforcing agencies’ instructions to keep safe distances from each other and not crowding at bus and railway stations and attempting to walk hundreds of kilometers in the absence of any transport were due to administrative inadequacies.

How disaffection caused by 1991 neoliberal reforms 'emboldened' Hindutva politics

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani created the foundation for Hindutva forces to access power by forming BJP-led coalition governments in New Delhi. This duo experimented with the troika of liberal, moderate and hard-line Hindutva slogans during the Babri Mosque-Ram Janmabhoomi movement to mobilise and expand their electoral base among the masses.

Time to lockout the lockdown: Why social distancing is a hugely unfulfilled aspiration

By Mohan Guruswamy*
It is time now to sit back and objectively reconsider the draconian policy measures unleashed in India. The four hours to midnight order for a nationwide “curfew” to enforce social distancing had caught our public and public administration woefully unprepared. In one fell stroke we have managed to render wage less at least 100 million people.

Why India's poor didn't stay back in cities, were better off on road, marching in hot sun

By Anand K Sahay*
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the uncertainties of major world economies, but in India it has laid bare our pretensions. The reality is sinking in slowly as hundreds of thousands of Indians have been forced, in the absence of governmental support, to make do with short-term charity from private individuals and voluntary agencies to stave off hunger in the past forty-odd days, the duration of the lockdown so far.

Pro-Modi Muslim scholar protests govt move to open shops in 'calibrated' manner

By Our Representative A well-known Muslim public figure, known to be close to the Modi establishment, has strongly protested against the government decision to open shops in a calibrated manner, stating this would “annihilate the excellent work” done by the Prime Minister and his team for over a month of lockdown.

Gujarat govt transfers funds, promised Rs 1,000 'elude' tribal construction workers

By Our Representative  Construction workers’ civil rights organization, Bandhkam Majur Sangathan (BMS), has strongly objected to the Gujarat government move to transfer Rs 250 crore from the welfare fund meant for construction workers to the chief minister's welfare package meant for the poor. As of today, an amount of Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund, collected as cess from the construction industry, is lying unutilized.

Jailed and quarantined, how followers were abandoned by Tablighi Jamaat chief

By Shamsul Islam*
According to a press report, in a shocking incident, a 50-year-old diabetic patient died on April 22, 2020 at the COVID-19 quarantine centre set up by the Delhi government in Sultanpuri, West Delhi. Despite several request to staff and doctors he was not given food and medicine on time.

Economic distress 'killed' 270: Demand not to extend lockdown beyond May 3

Counterview Desk
The civil society network, Right to Food Campaign (RTFc), in a statement* titled ‘No More Lockdown Beyond May 3’, has said that the current lockdown of 40 days has “hopefully” been used to prepare the health system to deal with a spread of the coronavirus in times to come”, and the government must now focus on putting in place “systems for vigorous identify, trace, test, isolate, treat strategies to be followed.”

Delhi Police 'taking revenge' against Jamia students: President Kovind asked to act

Counterview Desk 
In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention in recent arrests of several student activists of Jamia Millia Islamia, 140 plus signatories from diverse groups, including academicians, students, alumni and activists from India and abroad, have said that this is being done “with the ill will of the police authorities and is clearly a violation of basic legal norms.”

Police use volunteers, WhatsApp groups in South Kashmir to 'contain' Covid-19

By Basharat Rashid*
As the COVID-19 cases have been growing very fast in Kashmir valley for last one month, with hundreds of positive cases reported so far, Awantipora police district in South Kashmir witness no positive case yet.
The police along with administration here have created whatsapp groups and added large number of volunteers from around all the villages of the district, just to contain the spread of coronavirus in the area.

Right to life 'at stake' for Gujarat child workers forming 6% of MSME workforce

By Damini Patel*
Ever since the lockdown began, there has been an increase in complaints pertaining to the violation of child rights across the country. As reported, the Childline India has crossed 92,000 calls requesting protection from violence.

FIRs against Delhi, Kashmir activists, journalists: Demand to stop 'witch hunt'

Counterview Desk
Campaign against State Repression (CASR), a platform with over 36 organisations, including democratic rights organisations, student's organisations, teacher's organisations, trade unions and women's organisations*, has asked the Government of India to stop the alleged witch-hunt of activists and journalists in Delhi and Kashmir, even as seeking repeal the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which is being used against them.

Hunger, food wastage amidst Indian govt’s 'unplanned' lockdown, maladministration

By Sushant Kumar Singh* 
Today the whole world is grappling with the contagion effect of the disease named Covid-19 and is engaged with full force to fight the crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly distorted the world economic system. Heterodox economists have been asserting that this pandemic has broken the basic assumption of neo-liberal economics of laissez fair and invisible hand.

Artistes from Tral area of Pulwama make funny videos for Covid-stressed audience

Basharat Rashid*
As the whole country reels under COVID-19 threat, for last one month, with strict restriction orders coming from government day by day, asking people to stay indoors completely, the artists on youtube continue to entertain people, even at the time, when there is no option to smile.

Privileging agriculture will trigger migration from urban to rural areas, boost economy

By Varsha Sharma, Sandeep Pandey*
The coronavirus crisis lockdown has made one thing very clear that food is the single most important thing that human beings need. Life can go on without internet connections or mobile phones but not without food. While the economy was totally shutdown the only people who were allowed to freely move about, were people dealing in food items.

Uttar Pradesh and Kerala: Preparedness and effectiveness in 'battling' the pandemic

By Ajit Jha, Anmol Sehgal, Surya Tewari*
A country like India that accounts for the largest population in the world after China has not been left behind in witnessing the atrocities of the contagious spread of COVID-19. In the wake of the grim pandemic, it is crucial to take prompt measures strategically by central in alignment with state government to reduce the spread of infection.

Safe return Prabhatji! My first encounter with a migrant worker enroute his village

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*
It was a routine morning walk around 8.00 am nearby my apartment complex, when I met with Prabhatji (Singh). A short bearded middle-aged man, Prabhatji was cladded in a clean black security guard uniform with a handkerchief covering his mouth and a black backpack by his side. He was sitting under a Peltophorum Tree outside the compound wall when I approached him.

End of news? Cases against top Kashmir journalists 'evoke' widespread outrage

By Zahoor Hussain*
Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police in the trouble-torn valley have started filing cases against journalists for “glorifying terrorism and anti-national activities”, “provoking the public to disturb the law and order” and “causing disaffection against the country” through social media posts.

Ahmedabad NGO-aided self-run Dignity Kitchens feeding thousands of migrants

By Our Representative
In a unique initiative, an Ahmedabad-based NGO Janvikas-supported Institute of Social Studies and Transformation (IST), in close coordination with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Zone 5, Ravi Teja, has begun providing food, through 15 self-run kitchens, to thousands of migrants twice a day in Ahmedabad.

Doctors warn against discontinuing blood pressure medicines during COVID19

By Rajeev Khanna*
Amid the COVID19 outbreak in India, it is the exceptionally large community of high blood pressure or hypertension patients that stands out among the most vulnerable. Medical experts say that the number of hypertension patients in the country is more than 30 per cent of the total population.

Method in Modi’s 'directionless' economic governance: Manipulating public mind

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The world is heading towards worst economic recession in its history. The governments are worried about their citizenry and future of their country. But Narendra Modi cares little as long as his popularity and electoral victory remains intact. Modi fiddles with the future of India and Indians by manipulating the public mind with the help of mass media.

Hunger, starvation 'stare' Jharkhand poor in absence of effective food distribution

By Our Representative
The civil rights organization, Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand, in a letter to chief minister Hemant Soren has warned the state would see the danger of hunger and starvation in the absence of “any effective provision for the delivery of food rations to households without ration card.”

Lockdown a 'nightmare' for poor: Earnings dipped to zero, small savings exhausted

By Praveen Srivastava, Anand Mathew, Joseph Nitilal, Sandeep Pandey*
With lockdown extended and little relaxation in some essential services, the plights of poor are not going to reduce for sure. Lakhs of migrant labourers are struck in metro cities, far away from their homes.

Hindutva pressure? India's World Press Freedom Index 142, two points down

By Our Representative
India has dropped to rank 142, two points below its 2019 rank, in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.The annual press freedom list is produced by the campaign group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which surveys the state of the media in 180 countries and territories.
RSF’s latest report attributes India’s rank to the Narendra Modi government “tightening” its grip on the media, and pressuring it to “toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line”.
Among other issues, it has listed coordinated social media hate campaigns against journalists reporting on issues that “annoy Hindutva followers”, criminal prosecutions to gag journalists critical of authorities and police violence against journalists.
The report also suggests that India’s rank is heavily affected by the situation in Kashmir, where it has become “virtually impossible” for journalists to do their job.

Stranded migrants of South Gujarat: High Court says it 'trusts' state govt steps

By Our Representative 
The Gujarat High Court has said it “expects and trusts” that the state would be “vigilant and do its best” to ensure the safety of nearly sugarcane 90,000 workers from Maharashtra, working as sugarcane workers in four South Gujarat districts -- Bharuch, Surat, Valsad and Navsari – as also several lakh inter-state migrants from Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal -- but stranded in South Gujarat following the lockdown announced on March 24 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Govt of India behaving like 'nanny state' by trying to find jobs for migrants in cities

By Rit Nanda*
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff, Barack Obama, Former President of the USA It seems odd to start an article with perhaps one of the most cynical political quotes of recent times, but it is imperative that we see the truth in the latter part of the quote that a crisis is an opportunity to do things anew. And crises do not come bigger than the COVID-19 pandemic currently ravaging the globe.

Using words as swords: Power of speech in the COVID time ... and otherwise

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*
It was my PhD Defence day on Feb 20, 2015 at Erasmus University Rotterdam when my Thesis Supervisor, Prof. Jan Jaap Bouma, gifted a book titled, ‘Speeches that Changed the World’ written by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Quercus Publication), with a typical Dutch humor saying that my thesis arguments all through were positive and passionate and that I must use the assertive public speaking skill in future.

Nirmala’s native wisdom 'steered' resource-poor communities through COVID-19

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 discarded by mainstream society. One of the closest villages to the town is Wanoja, a hamlet of three hundred families. Twenty five years back, it was a bootlegger's paradise, as unruly men and youth would swamp the village square and shops, heavily inebriated and spouting filthy vocabulary.

'Modi govt’s redesign of New Delhi brings to mind some dead African despots'

Counterview Desk 
In a major media controversy, top daily, the Hindustan Times, refused to carry well-known historian and Gandhi biographer Ramachandra Guha’s fortnightly column ‘Past and Present’ in its original form this Sunday, asking him to make major changes before publishing it. Guha, who had written on “the folly and vanity” of the Central government’s Central Vista project in Delhi, immediately tweeted that the “newspaper has censored the column.”

Lockdown affects Himachal's 7 lakh people dependent on tourism, 6.6% of state GDP

Counterview Desk
A Himalaya Niti Abhiyan letter to the Himachal Pradesh chief minister has argued that the current lockdown has adversely impacted around seven lakh people and their families, who were directly or indirectly dependent on tourism, demanding, the state government should come up with a complete package for them.
Insisting that the concession ranging from tax waivers to livelihood support should be immediately worked out, the letter, signed by its senior activists, says that once the lockdown is over, the state government should begin consulting with all the stakeholders for a roadmap for the tourism section, which is likely to see a major change in the near future.
Text: We, the people of the tourism sector of Himachal Pradesh, appreciate the state government’s measures taken to check the community spreading of COVID-19, prevention, lockdown, and other administrative measures such as physical distancing seem to be the only way out of this situation. We fully support the e…

Why myth of western hubris, delusion of capitalist invincibility are falling apart

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The colonial and imperialist militaries, political and economic systems are defeated by the mutilating powers of the pestilence. The COVID-19 virus is controlling our so-called modern lifestyles and quarantining ourselves within walls of our rooms to reflect and reimagine. The ‘end of history’, ‘clash of civilisations’ and ‘there is no alternative’ were three rotten ideological theses advanced to established market led liberal democracy.

Govt, Congress united by 'imbecility': Order restricting investments from 'neighbours'

By Mohan Guruswamy*
A couple of days ago Rahul Gandhi demanded that the government "protect" Indian corporations from takeover by cash flush Chinese entities. He was spurred after it was announced that the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC) has increased its shareholding in HDFC from 0.8% to 1.01%. The Chinese Central Bank had bought these 1,74,92,909 crore HDFC shares worth about Rs 2900 crore between January and March 2020. This level of shareholding won’t even give PBOC a stool next to the watchman's at HDFC’s front door.

Lockdown: Plea to pay wages to 90,000 sugarcane workers stranded in South Gujarat

By Our Representative
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court, comprising Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice AJ Shastri, has taken up several public interest litigations (PILs) seeking assistance of the Gujarat government to urgently ask sugarcane factories and farmers to pay the wages to tens of thousands of workers, many of them from Maharashtra, stranded in the state, even as extend welfare facilities to lakhs of migrants stranded in South Gujarat cities.