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Showing posts from May, 2020

Why Modi's Atma Nirbhar Abhiyaan looks more like Fend For Yourself campaign

By Anand K Sahay*
Now it is hard to find any classes of people, including among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s followers, who believe that the PM has given leadership in the execution of the urgent twin tasks before the country -- of fighting the pandemic, and dealing with the economy- after the unknown virus struck, or even before.

New era globalisation post-Covid crisis? Moving away from protectionism, free trade

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Is globalisation over after the Covid-19 pandemic? There are three visible signs during the unending Coronavirus led health crisis, which substantiates the end of globalisation thesis. The first sign indicates reversal of capitalist globalisation led by market integrations. The people and their nation states are fighting the pandemic alone. As a result, there is growth of ultra nationalist and right-wing forces during this pandemic.

Covid-19: Just 5% Gujarat masons agree to take all precautions at work, home

By Our Representative
A new study, carried out by an organization that has been working for the advancement of the building artisan, mainly masons, for nearly two decades, has found that only 5% respondents are aware of taking the three necessary precautions amidst Covid-19 crisis while on work on site and at home -- use masks, physical distancing, and washing hands.

Gender disparity: Untold tale of menstrual health during Covid-19 pandemic

By Subhanshi Negi*
It is somewhat ironic that even when we are amidst a major national health crisis, one of the paramount health issues of ‘menstrual hygiene,’ which is recognized as global public health and human right by the United Nations, is being thrust aside by the Government of India. Many organizations have pointed out that India is suffering from ‘period poverty.’

'Concerned' citizens object to change in Gujarat HC bench hearing Covid-19 cases

By Our Representative
In a representation to Gujarat Chief Justice Vikramnath Singh, senior advocates, scholars and activists have come together to express their “serious concern” over his decision to replace the High Court bench comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and IJ Vora with a new bench comprising himself and Justice JB Pardiwala. Justices Pardiwala and Vora had passed strong strictures on the state BJP government for its “inept” handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

Gujarat street vendors 'worst affected': Plea for cash relief, protection from cop harassment

Counterview Desk
In a representation to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, My City Our City (MCOC), a civil society network of activists, academics and urban planners have said that nearly 1.91 lakh street vendors of the state need “immediate relief and consideration” from the government, especially because they are one of the most adversely affected sections due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Caste 'discrimination' of Dalits, Adivasis in quarantine centres: Demand for inquiry

Counterview Desk
A civil rights organization, Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JMM), has taken strong exception to what it calls “contradictory statements by government officials in caste-based discrimination case in the Hazaribagh Banaso Panchayat quarantine centre, demanding the state authorities must seek clarification from officials concerned as to “why the dry ration was arranged in the quarantine centre and why confirmation regarding the incident was given to media.

Shramik Express? 'Harassed' migrants suspicious of govt orders, action, promise

Counterview Desk
Calling for coordinated and urgent actions for migrants in distress, a group of senior academics and social activists* in a statement, following a well-represented discussion on May 26 to understand the reasons behind their plight, have said that “no government authority, at the centre or in states, has any comprehensive understanding of scale and type of migrant workers, especially those who are in vulnerable, insecure and informal employment and occupations.”

CityMakers 'locked out': India's 80% casual, 60% salaried workers out of job: Survey

By Our Representative
Findings of a telephonic-survey by interviewing 3,121 households across 50 plus cities of the country from May 7 to May 17, 2020 by scholars of the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), Delhi, have suggested that eight out of 10 casual daily wage labourers and six out of 10 salaried workers reported unemployed or loss employment during lockdown due to closure of business/construction activities and inability to visit their workplaces.

Talc powder withdrawn in North America, why not in India? NGO plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk
In a representation to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Gopal Krishna, who is with the Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) and Occupational Health India (OHI), has accused the top talcum powder producer, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of “doublespeak”, stating that while the commodity has been withdrawn in North America, it continues to be a “cause of exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers” which allegedly contaminate the powder.

Lockdown checkup: PDS improves, but MGNREGA work 'missing' in many villages

By Our Representative 
The second round of the Lockdown Checkup survey, conducted by members of the Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand  has found that while the public distribution system (PDS) has improved in the state, work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is still missing in many villages.

Arrest of Delhi's Pinjra Tod protesters of Feb a conspiracy against 'democratic' struggle

Counterview Desk
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), networking several civil rights, students’ and trade union organizations, sharply criticizing the Government of India for the recent arrests of Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, has said that this is “not an isolated incident but part of a larger operation orchestrated by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the Delhi Police” since mid-February.

Whither safety gear for frontline cleaners? 'Caste-based' discrimination amidst Covid-19

By Sanghmitra S Acharya*
In this ‘war’ against Covid-19 a lot has been said about the ‘frontline workers -- the doctors, nurses, policemen, bankers, journalists. In the first place it would not have become a ‘war’ had the machinery for governance been a bit vigilant and considerate about the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that the Covid-19 is a public health emergency and the governments need to gear up their resources especially PPE, way back on 30 Jan 2020- when India reported its first case.

J&K: A BJP 'recipe' for conditional, tamed, controlled political activity, like some charity

Counterview Desk
Counting Days – Kashmir, a Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) initiative, has released an article by chief editor of a top Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) media house Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, to respond to BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav’s article ‘It is time to allow J&K full-fledged political activity’, published in the Indian Express (May 23, 2020).

Covid-19 crisis: Why states need to replicate Kerala model to 'empower' rural poor

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The spread of Covid-19-infused crisis has huge impact on all aspects of life and economy across India. It is particularly posing a serious challenge to the social and economic development of rural poor, migrants and farmers. The local businesses and communities are significantly affected by the pandemic.

Gujarat industry's puny understanding of pollution control: Plea to 'pardon' from laws

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to the Vapi Industries Association (VIA) letter dated May 18, 2020, addressed to the chairman, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) seeking exemption environmental laws, senior state environmentalists have said the VIA demand is “ludicrous”, adding, it shows “audacity and righteousness” to “pollute the environs.”

A new legacy? Folk artistes begin to 'sensitize' people about Covid-19 challenges

By Moin Qazi*
The current pandemic is an unprecedented calamity and its economic and social pain is immense. The worst affected are the populations who subsist on daily wage or seasonal income. Barring agriculture, which is still functional, the rural economy is groaning in distress.  Since the deeper behavioural changes and social restrictions that the pandemic has imposed are expected to become -- and remain -- the new normal for a long time, we will have to recalibrate our economic and social patterns so that the hardship of daily subsistence does not further compound problems created by the looming health crisis.
Almost 90 per cent of the workers in India are part of the informal economy and thrive on daily work, with little provision for employment protection. The pandemic has required governments around the world to introduce social distancing and lockdowns in unprecedented ways. These measures have impacted economies and jobs worldwide and in India, too.
One of the vulnerable c…

Fear of local storm amidst militancy in Kashmir: Why greater repression won’t do

By Anand K Sahay*
We will do well to recall that the fundamental reason cited last August for dissolving the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) – whose Maharaja acceded to India on terms that explicated a clearly enunciated autonomy – was that the existence of this autonomy engendered a “separatist” mind-set in the Valley.

Covid-19 panic 'exposes' fallacy of Govt of India's affordable rental housing package

By Darshini Mahevia*  As a part of the second tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package taking care of severe criticism of the Central government’s sensitivity to the migrant labour fleeing the cities, a rental housing policy for the migrant workers was announced on May 14, 2020. The rental policy, much in line with the subsequent two economic stimulus packages (on agriculture and infrastructure), is medium to long term.

Neoliberal fallout? Greed of few billionaires has hijacked our democracy and state

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Democracy is a product of struggles and sacrifices of the working classes. The October revolution, French revolution  and anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Americas shaped democracy. The struggles for freedom, equality and justice, anti-capitalist struggles, and people’s movements against war and terrorism, social and political movements for livelihoods have helped to deepen democratic practices all over the world.

Has Church in India 'mainstreamed' Pope Francis' call on human rights violations?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
May 24, 2020 completes full five years of Pope Francis’ path-breaking and incisive Encyclical Letter ' Laudato Si ' -- On Care for Our Common Home. It was the first major Papal teaching on a subject of critical importance namely ‘the environment’. ‘Laudato Si' meaning “Praise be to you" are the first words of the celebrated ' Canticle of the Creatures' of St Francis of Assisi.

They're nationalists, not migrants: Crucial for GDP, workers don't care for regionalism

By Shamsul Islam*
As a student of political science we have been familiar with Samuel Johnson's amazing words on patriotism, an essential ingredient of nationalism. He wrote: 'Patriotism is last refuge of scoundrel.' History has been witness to the truthfulness of this dictum multiple times globally.

Post-Covid challenge for rural India: 12 crore migrants face 'bleak' future in cities

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The SARS-CoV-2 virus has infected more than 5.1 million people out of which more than 330 thousand people died. Most of the countries are either under nation-wide or localised lockdown with more than half of the global population confined within their homes. Rest of the countries are also following many restrictive measures to avoid spreading of the virus.

Death of migrants amidst lockdown: Moral 'distancing' in time of social distancing

By Umang Kumar*
How should ordinary citizens understand the nature of responsibility in the case of the recurring deaths of migrant workers that they are witnessing? So many have died on the road, absolutely needlessly, in the process of trying to escape death by hunger which the Indian Covid-19 lockdown was making a reality. India has a very large number of (internal) migrant workers, especially from its more rural areas, who travel to more urban centers, looking for work. How does one even begin to view such instances, say, as a matter of ethics?

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Disaffection towards government constitutes offence of sedition: Gujarat govt tells HC

By Our Representative
Opposing the plea to quash sedition charges against the Gujarati online news portal “Face of Nation” editor Dhaval Patel, who was subsequently arrested in May second week, the Gujarat government has told the High Court that this is not possible since investigation is still going on, and such a step would be “premature”.

IIM-A rejects legal notice: Public authorities 'didn't arrange' trains for migrant workers

By Our Representative
In a rejoinder to the legal notice served on the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) director following unrest outside the IIM-A campus IIM-A, in a statement has asserted that the unrest of the workers from the construction site was not about wages and living conditions “but about the delay in obtaining travel permits and the arranging of transportation by the public authorities to take them back to their home states.”

Used to earn a living, Delhi's 'marginalised' communities now struggle to feed themselves

Counterview Desk
Volunteers of several civil society organizations*, providing financial assistance and food and sanitary kits (sanitizer, mask, towels and soap) to Delhi’s marginalised families, especially sewer workers, sanitation workers, daily wage labourers, denotified tribes and ragpickers, have found that while they used to earn a living till now, today they are "struggling to feed themselves”.

Will 'crisis-ridden' news industry regain credibility in post-Covid-19 pandemic era?

By Nava Thakuria*
Amidst myriad devastation created by the novel coronavirus around the world, the news industry might learn to survive only if it regains credibility, proves it authenticity and accountability in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era. Earlier if these principles were claimed to be necessary for the mainstream media, now it becomes an utmost priority for its survival.

Insurgency? Fresh cases of 'attack' on Naga villagers: NGO seeks UN intervention

By Our Representative
The Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), a civil rights organization based in Nagaland, has accused security forces based in the state for allegedly waging war on “innocent” Naga civilians under the pretext launching operations against insurgents.

'Tears Fall in my Heart': Adnan's joy, sorrow, anguish amidst 'disruptions' in Kashmir

By Annette Nasser*
Adnan Shafi's poetry left me in deepest thought throughout his book, and I am quite sure, whoever will read at present time or in the future, will certainly feel the same way.
With pensive rumination, contemplative is each poem, descriptive and expressed fluently, his articulate and creative usage of words, the flowing of his verses, the intensities of emotion with both rhythm and inflection, the senses of everything he feels, whether it be of joy, sorrow, anguish or even his ardency of nature, life and love, the experiences of his own and that of others living in the valley, the close observations through the disruptions of Kashmir, he has written with excellence of sublimity, throughout his book.

Modi govt 'withdrew' 2014 World Heritage Site proposal for New Delhi Central Vista

Counterview Desk
India’s top civil rights network, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), in public statement, has demanded that the Government of India should immediately withdraw the “hasty” Environment Clearance (EC) granted to the Central Vista Project with an investment of Rs 20,000 crore, stating, today, such expenditure is required in public health, not in pompous infrastructure.

India's 21 of 29 RTI watchdogs didn't take up 'life and liberty' issues amidst lockdown

By Our Representative
A report on the status of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and State Information Commissions (SICs) across India during the Covid-19 crisis, released by two civil rights organizations, Satark Nagrik Sangathan and Centre for Equity Studies, has said that of the 29 commissions set up under the Right to Information (RTI) Act , 21 have not held any hearings during during the lockdown period, currently in its fourth phase.

Why no 'pompous sounding' Vande Bharat programmes for stranded migrant workers?

By Vijaya Ramachandran, Sandeep Pandey*
Lockdown in the wake of coronavirus threat has seriously affected the livelihood options for the migrant workers and daily wage earners. While the government has announced that they will be given free ration, even if they are not linked with local Fair Price Shop (FPS) part of the Public Distribution System (PDS), which is the case with most migrant workers across India including the brick kiln workers in Kanpur and other places, the ground reality is very different.

Police action against journos in Gujarat, HP 'blot' on democracy: Press Club of India

By Our Representative
The Press Club of India, in a statement addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda, has said that they must bring sanity to a "string of seemingly malafide actions against journalists by BJP-run states and Centre-controlled Union Territories."

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”

Is Indian state ‘proxying’ for Hindutva project of militarization of the majority?

By Shamsul Islam*
Presently, the Indian defence paraphernalia is ranked as the fourth mightiest army in the world after USA, Russia and China with Japan at the fifth place. It has approximately 3,544,000 on roll, 1,444,000 being on active duty with 2,100,000 as reserve personnel. It is credited with innumerable military operations of glory like Bangladesh War 1971, Kargil War 1999, surgical strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir 2019 etc.

Covid-19 crisis: Modi 'manipulates' public opinion, as Kerala, Odisha show the way

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated existing economic, and social crisis in India. The country is witnessing incomprehensible distress among the migrant workers, farmers, and poor masses both in urban and rural areas. In such a situation of utter crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy in manipulating Indian public opinion to hide all his failures, even as the government under him is busy in satisfying the needs of capitalist class while the poor suffer.

Rs 20 lakh crore package a jumla, Modi pushes for corporatisation, privatisation: NAPM

Counterview Desk India’s premier civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), in a strongly-worded critique of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 20-lakh crore package has said that it is nothing but a ‘jumla’ on the people of India, stating its “pro-corporate thrust” flies in the face of the atma-nirbharta (self-reliance) talk.

Sulochna, 64, weaves on amidst sharp decline of Tamil Nadu's 'legendary' tradecraft

By Niki Sharma* 
Her eyes are fixated on the swinging blocks of the loom, while her fingers and feet move deftly, pacing back and forth as she weaves the pink and green yarn. Crouched on a narrow wooden plank, she continues morphing the bright yarn into a saree. The glimmering sunshine flanking the room is reflected in the golden threading that cleaves the fabric. What she is working on is vastly different from patterned, digitally printed sarees.

Lockdown: Hyderabad Urdu varsity 'refuses' to look after 300 poor outstation students

By Our Representative
Nearly 300 students of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad, have been stranded for lack of funds to feed themselves during the current lockdown. Revealing this, Umar Faruq, president, MANUU Students’ Union, has said that the students, mostly belonging to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, live outside the MANUU campus because of lack of hostel rooms.

Parochialism? Himachal govt refuses to show empathy towards workers of other states

By Rajeev Khanna*
Eleven trade unions, progressive groups and civil society organizations in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh (HP) have come forward with an appeal to protect the constitutional rights of the working class. These groups have in particular drawn attention to the plight of the migrant labour which like its counterparts in other parts of the country is extremely stressed.

Sitharaman's offer for rural jobs to 'create' just 3 crore rural jobs. Demand: 12 crore jobs

By Amarjeet Kaur*
The final package, the fifth one in a row, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 17 was a fiasco. Sitharaman during her press conference for two hours and six minutes spent more than an hour detailing the policy actions of her government’s last six years’ rule, repeating the already provided proposals during the two budgets after coming to power for the second time, even as reiterating her briefings on the four earlier packages she had announced over the previous four days.

Disappointed, dismayed at lack of Delhi govt effort to distribute ration to all: High Court

By Our Representative
The Delhi High Court bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh., hearing a petition filed by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyaan (DRRAA), regarding ensuring access to ration during the Covid-19 lockdown, has said that it is “disappointed” and “dismayed” at lack of compliance with its direction on distributing ration for all.

Gas leak in Vizag plant 'probably' human carcinogen, Korean co 'fully responsible'

Counterview Desk
Activists from India and South Korea attached with the well-known multinational advocacy group, Asian Network for the Rights Of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), has insisted that LG Chemicals, the parent company of LG Polymers, should take “full responsibility” for the May 7 Vizag tragedy, in which 12 persons died as a result of gas leak.

Workers 'forced' to give up basic rights. Why not ask corporates to shed profit for 3 yrs?

By Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey*
All the narratives of a progressing nation, Rajiv Gandhi's 'marching into the 21st century,' Atal Behari Vajpayee's 'shining India,' APJ Abdul Kalam's 'providing urban amenities in rural areas,' Manmohan Singh's achievement of 8-9% Gross Domestic Product (DGP) growth rates and Narendra Modi's 'smart cities' have crumbled in the wake of national level migrant workers' crisis during the coronavirus lockdown.

As men lose job, NGO 'helps' women to become prime bread earners of BPL families

By Moin Qazi*
As Covid-19 spreads, the government has already started to address the economic and livelihood challenges posed by the constraints the pandemic has put on behavior and employment. It is designing economic support measures to target the tens of thousands to millions of small businesses.

A 'fillip' to land grab: Sitharaman's Rs 6,000 crore offer for compensatory afforestation

Counterview Desk
The Community Forest Rights - Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA), a national advocacy ground, demanding transfer of compensatory afforestation funds to Gram Sabhas, has said that any plan to transfer these to state forest departments will allow land grabs for commercial plantations, even as increasing distress in tribal areas.

Odiya migrant worker's death in Surat police station: Demand for magisterial inquire

Counterview Desk
Gujarat civil rights activists Krishnakant Chauhan of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Sanjay Patel of the Ajeevika Bureau, in a letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani, with copies to chief secretary Anil Mukim, DGP Shivanand Jha and Surat commissioner of police RB Brahmbhatt, have demanded immediate action against the cops responsible for the death of a migrant worker during police action in the Amroli Police Station, Surat, at Anjani Industrial Estate-1.