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Showing posts from June, 2020

Andhra gas tragedy: Favourable court order helps 3 LG Chem personnel 'flee' India

By Our Representative
Three South Korean LG Chem personnel, whose passports were confiscated due to their importance in the investigation of the company’s deadly styrene gas release, have "fled" India after getting a favourable court judgement. Bringing this to light, the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV), an international NGO network, said, this would "help" the company to “avoid responsibility” as has happened in other cases, including Bhopal.

How India's 'draconian' sedition law hasn't just survived in statute books but thrived

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
British left India in August 1947 but left many of their draconian laws here as a colonial legacy. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code 1860, i.e., the law of sedition is one such law. British Government of India had inserted it in the penal code in the late 19th century to curb anti-colonial activities in British India.

Neoliberal patronage leading to 'sharp rise' in religious, cultural right-wing in politics

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The world is facing its deepest crisis after the world wars. The legitimacy of Westphalian international systems and their post-war reincarnations are falling apart. Political parties are losing public trust and people question their legitimacy. States and governments are becoming hostage and facilitators of neoliberal capitalism, where people live in an environment of unfreedom and market oligarchs enjoy absolute freedom.

Wanted a John the Baptist who will walk with migrants, uplift Dalits, stand with Adivasis

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Wanted Now: A John the Baptist! – who brings hope. For many, these past months have been a period of hopelessness, of despair, of despondency and of dejection. There is a listlessness and a cloud of unknowing that have gripped the lives of millions over during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. John’s birth was announced to a barren, aged woman Elizabeth. No one would have expected that; but with God nothing is impossible: John is the new hope!

Custodial death of father-son duo in Tamil Nadu tip of 'horrendous' iceberg: NAPM

Counterview Desk
Denouncing what it has called “all-pervasive and routine culture of police violence and impunity” pervading currently in India, India’s premier civil society network, National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), referring to the custodial death of Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu) residents, Jayaraj and Bennicks, said, the FIR filed by the police on the incident “indicates an obvious attempt at obfuscation.”

How Gujarat NGO helped market women farmers' produce locally amidst lockdown

By Sanjay Dave*
In these difficult times of coronavirus pandemic a unique initiative has been undertaken by Utthan, an NGO based in Gujarat, to turn adversity into opportunity for rural poor and marginalized. Due to lockdown the daily wage labourers stopped getting work, and thus there was no source of any income for them.

Expanding Indian media circle of those 'ready' to go along the credo of communalism

By Anand K Sahay*
The time since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in office began – about a year ago – has been tumultuous in India. A succession of momentous events, with likely long-term impact, has passed before our eyes. Each of these had strong communal undertones and overtones. Each shook the country.

Luring neighbours to 'encircle' India, China may be biting more than it can chew

By NS Venkataraman*
It is clear by now that China has not concealed its aim and determination to dominate the world as a superpower and expand its territories. In fact, China has begun to give the impression that it would combine different types of strategies on the trade front, propaganda campaign and military strategy to achieve its objectives, depending upon circumstances.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.

Unwilling 'sacrifice': Who will be responsible for India's 884 non-Covid deaths?

By Simran Kaur, Vasundhra Kaul, Varsha Sharma, Sandeep Pandey*
While the entire world faced the threat of the coronavirus, India was witness to a peculiar phenomenon. Hundreds of migrant workers poured into the streets, despite explicit warnings – and passionate appeals – by the Prime Minister to stay indoors.

Hindutva impact? Why political, ruling elite don't need Emergency rule today

Counterview Desk  Marking 45 years since the declaration of the Emergency, the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a platform of 36 organizations*, mainly civil rights groups and Left-wing labour unions, has called upon on all its constituent organisations and all democratic and progressive organisations and forces to carry forward the struggle for upholding democratic rights and principles and strengthen the movements for unity across caste and community and the struggles for wages, land and livelihood.

Govt apathy, funds crisis? 36% NGOs drop Covid relief, 54% plan to: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey of civil society organizations (CSOs) has complained that government indifference despite the “felt need” to continue with the relief work to the poorer sections society amidst Covid-19 crisis was a major reason why more than 36% of CSOs were forced to stop doing the work, while another 54% said they had plans to stop it in a month’s time.

Smart cities: Why pandemic response can't rely heavily on high-tech platforms, apps

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar*
The Covid-19 pandemic brought the world's smart cities to a halt and is exposing the fault lines in human habits and habitations. More than 99 million people living in India 100 smart cities, especially those living in the densely populated informal settlements and slums, with dreadful combination of poverty and inadequacies in access to water and sanitation and poor waste management, are facing the wrath of this pandemic.

It's a pity: Small neighbours Bhutan, Sri Lanka offer free universal healthcare, not India

By Prem Verma*
The spread of coronavirus in India and the subsequent misery of the Migrant population has exposed the underbelly of dismal healthcare in our country. There is a daily outcry of shortage of hospital beds, doctors, nurses, intensive care units (ICUs), absence of functioning rural healthcare centres, etc.

Odisha view: Govt of India centralising power, 'destroying' cooperative federalism

Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Dr Gopabandhu Dash* 
The pandemic of Coronavirus has exposed all limitations of free market economies and anomalies in capitalist global economy. The world economy is in shambles. The unprecedented restrictive and unavoidable lockdown measures by governments across the world has led to the loss of livelihoods, growth of unemployment, economic stagnation and crisis. It is one of the biggest challenges in world history.

Situation 'worse' than Indira's Emergency: PUCL calls for concerned citizens' campaign

Counterview Desk The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India's premier human rights organization, in a statement issued on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Emergency, has described the situation today as worse than what it was on June 25, 1975, when the “Indian government waged a war on its own people, suspending the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Super Emergency? 'Pity the nation, oh pity the people, Who allow their rights to erode'

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Few will forget that infamous night of June 25/26, 1975 when emergency was declared in India. No right-thinking Indian will ‘celebrate’ that event as one marks its 45th anniversary. There will be some muted voices perhaps, who will attempt to justify its imposition. There will certainly be no lover of Democracy who will count among them. Abrogating, denying or even suspending the Constitutional rights and freedoms guaranteed to the citizens of a country is a non-negotiable and not acceptable.

A reform move? Plan to auction 41 coal blocks 'on behalf of' powerful business lobbies

Counterview Desk
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), India’s major civil society network, has asked the of India to immediately revoke the auction of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining in order to “stop corporate loot in eco-sensitive and Schedule V Adivasi areas of Central and Eastern India”.

45th anniversary of Emergency: How RSS leaders 'kowtowed' to Indira Gandhi

By Shamsul Islam* 
RSS is a Hindutva gurukul (university) which appears to be specializing in training cadres in speaking lies and manufacturing history. As a latest proof, we find on the 45th anniversary of the Emergency, an ideologue of RSS, Ram Madhav, a prominent graduate of the above gurukul, to claim that Indian democracy survives due to "leaders in the government who fought for that very freedom and are committed to liberal democratic values, not just as a matter of compulsion but as an article of faith."

Big Brother 'watching': Isn't it worse than Emergency, perhaps close to dystopia?

By Pushkar Raj*
As we commemorate suspension of democracy in India during Emergency in 1975, it is disturbing to note that police are on spree to arrest and detain people and send them to jail as arbitrarily as then. Police knock at the door of journalists and social activists; one can be charged for airing views on television, or posting comments on social media.

Social, digital divide puts disadvantaged at risk of 'learning' losses, dropping out

By Our Representative 
Lauding the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) 2020 of UNESCO, which highlights the need to make education a universal right for all, the Right to Education (RTE) Forum has demanded the government and policy makers in India should pay immediate attention towards this as it has become crucial at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has further exacerbated the existing inequalities in society.

Remove Manu statue from Rajasthan HC: 600 Dalit activists write to Sonia Gandhi

Counterview Desk
A letter by well-known Dalit rights leader Macwan Macwan, signed by over 600 concerned citizens, including scholars, writers, teachers, activists and journalists, has asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intervention to remove the statue of Manu from the Rajasthan High Court premises.

Was Rahul ill-advised? By criticizing Modi, did he try to appease Chinese?

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
It seems that Rahul Gandhi has decided not to grow. Rahul’s displaced questions to the Narendra Modi government appears to be more as an effort to vitiate the atmosphere of patriotism. It only further helps bury the image of the already shattered Congress. Amidst trying circumstances at the India-Chinese borders, he asked where Modi was hiding.

Pandemic, subsequent lockdown used as excuse for media 'clampdown': PUCL

Counterview Desk
Asking the Government of India and state governments to stop “criminalizing” free speech and protect journalism, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said that the latest victim of media crackdown is new portal “Scroll” executive editor Supriya Sharma, wrote an eight part series on the suffering imposed by the lockdown in Varanasi, exposing the loss of livelihoods and hunger faced by the marginalized”.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

NGO effort to quell hunger better than govt, religious trusts: German-funded survey

Counterview Desk
A survey by the Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi Research Group and the Karwan-e-Mohabbat campaign undertaken to address key questions of how India’s labouring classes have had to cope with the strictest lockdown the world between March 25 and May 31, has talked of “continued humanitarian crisis of joblessness, intense food insecurity and massive dislocation of workers.”

Lack of jobs: Uttarakhand's 68% 'returned migrants' want to go back, says survey

By Our Representative
A telephonic survey, conducted among 323 returned migrant workers in hill districts of Uttarakhand, has revealed that even though they have returned from the places they worked – mainly Mumbai, Delhi NCR, other districts of the state and Rajasthan – majority of the respondent (68%) would like go back to their destination places in the absence of employment opportunities in their native places of the state.

Modi's 'ruthless' neighbours: Will US come to rescue India in case of war with China?

By NS Venkataraman*
There are still six months left in the year 2020 and it is difficult to predict as to how the India-China confrontation would turn during this period. It is crystal clear that India has no territorial ambition and has no desire to be involved in military confrontation with neighbouring countries, in the absence of provocation.

Why refugees do matter, should be made to feel welcome, protected, integrated

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
On June 20 the United Nations observed yet another ‘World Refugee Day’. In a statement for the day the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said:
“We are marking this year’s World Refugee Day against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis. Not only are record numbers of people forced to flee their homes, but the world is grappling with Covid-19, a disease that is still very much affecting us all. What started as a health crisis has expanded, and today many of the most vulnerable – refugees and the displaced amongst them – face a pandemic of poverty.

‘Distancings’ taking us away from making of aspirational, new, smart India-III

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*
The implicit presence of array of distances between the long standing social distancings and the pandemic’s requirement of physical distancing prevailing in the country, became more explicit rather exposed in the last few years and more so in the Covid-lockdown period. Those distances are Political, Economic, Judicial, and Intellectual, besides the prolonged Environmental/Ecological distancing.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

World Bank 'fails to provide' safeguards for engagement of private sector in education

Counterview Desk
In a collective letter, 1400 signatories, including education networks, teacher unions, grassroots organizations, academics, teachers and concerned citizens from 24 states have asked for the World Bank-supported quarter trillion rupees STARS education project to be delayed and wider public consultations held before its finalisation.

If poor are 'empowered' with govt healthcare, they wouldn't go to charity for help

By Dr Maya Valecha*
Let us understand each issue point by point. First of all I must thank you for initiating this mind churning discussion. It’s your response that has started discussion.
Let me make it clear right in the beginning that what is being proposed right now is that the huge resources of our country, material and human in private hands, specially in allopathy, to be taken to serve the public interest, because that resource is built by public money in the form of loans and used for many unnecessary investigations, drugs and surgeries.

SC's 'belated' order on migrant workers: Whither high ideals of judicial activism, PIL?

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
The Covid-19 lockdown in India has witnessed an unfathomable scale of internal migration, displacement, tragedies, and human sufferings not seen since the time of partition 70 years ago. The haphazard manner in which the government implemented the lockdown resulted in absolute chaos when crores were forced by cruel circumstances to go back to their homes using any means and routes they could get hold of.

Healthcare: Total nationalisation can mean 'strengthening' bureaucracy, state power

By KP Sasi*
Nationalisation of healthcare is not a simple idea to be pushed. Even with the existence of the private sector and the public sector in healthcare we are not in a position to deal sufficiently with the healthcare that is required. The non-government sector includes a large number of charities and missions in deep areas in India.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Govt of India 'silencing' media under the garb of curbing fake news: Think-tank report

Counterview Desk
The Rights & Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), a New Delhi-based think-tank claiming to conduct risks analysis to prevent human rights violations, in a detailed report on arrest, registration of FIRs, summons or show causes notices, physical assaults, alleged destruction of properties and threats for reportage against 55 journalists amidst Covid-19, has regretted that India has become the riskiest place for the journalists in the world.

Poet-activist's health deteriorating, present care in Mumbai jail 'unacceptable': 14 MPs

Counterview Desk
Fourteen members of Parliament* have addressed a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, expressing concern over the health of Varavara Rao, veteran Telugu writer and poet, who has been lodged in Taloja Prison, Navi Mumbai, following sharp deterioration in his health. A campaigner for the rights of the tribals and the poor, Rao was arrested from Hyderabad August 28, 2018 by the Pune Police following the Bhima Koregaon violence, where the police claimed to have found links between Varavara Rao and Naxal activists.

Galwan valley imbroglio: What is behind the standoff between India and China?

By Shabir Ahmad*
What is behind the Ladakh standoff along the India-China borders? India was carrying on some construction activity along its side of line of actual control in the Galwan valley, as there was no real dispute on the area. After all, it was for long considered part of Indian territory.

'Realisation' in India, US: Communal, caste, race virus more serious than pandemic

By Gary Frase, Sandeep Pandey*
In United States and India today dark, demonic spirits seem to be gaining power. The murder of George Floyd by a policeman on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis has ignited an explosion of pent up anger over wide-spread racism and hatred that has for too long led to lynching of black people with impunity, especially today in the hands of America’s police.

Kerala 'gives in' to ecologically destructive project, wants no confrontation with Centre

Counterview Desk
India’s premier civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has asked the Kerala government to immediately abandon what it calls “ecologically destructive” Athirappilly Hydel Project, thus leading by example in environmental and forest governance on the Western Ghats.

Ahmedabad authorities issue eviction notice to tribal basti amidst Covid-19 crisis

By Mina Jadav*
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) officials have tarted serving notices to migrant workers of Motera basti, ordering them to vacate the premises in a week’s time. The basti is close to the Motera Stadium, the second largest sports complex in the world, where where Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a rousing public welcome to President Donald Trump on February 24.

Heavy tariff on Chinese products to curb imports? A Trump 'solution' for India

By NS Venkataraman* 
Whether Government of India would admit or not, it is crystal clear that India is facing a war-like situation with China today.The most important thing that India needs to do now is to convey firm impression to the Chinese government that India would not buckle under pressure and military threat.

Wage non-payment may 'institutionalise' bonded labour: Appeal to monitor industries

By Our Representative
The Working Peoples’ Charter (WPC), a civil society network claiming to represent more than 150 provincial and local organizations of informal workers, has asked workers’ organizations across the country to identify industries, establishments and enterprises, as also their geographical location, where wage workers “are not paid wages" or where wages have been "withheld.”

Revival package? 35% of MSMEs, 37% self-employed may not recover, to shut down

By Thomas Franco*
The All India Manufacturers’ Organisation (AIMO), founded by Bharat Ratna Sir M Visvesvaraya in 1941, represents the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. With the initiative of KE Raghunathan, immediate past president of the organisation, AIMO has conducted a survey between May 24 and May 30, 2020. The survey has received 46,525 responses. The participants were MSME owners (49%), employees (17%), self employed (16%), experts (11%) and corporate CEOs (7%).

Failed prophet of propaganda? As Covid-19 death toll grows, so does Modi popularity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents contradictory character of Hindutva politics. The political history of so-called Hindu nationalism has not been consistent, even though it has helped shape national and international capital in India with the help of the state power.

Lockdown: NCW 'highly under-reporting' sharp rise in domestic violence cases

By Our Representative
Taking into account sharp rise in domestic violence against women across the world during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a web policy talk, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) in association with the GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation has been told that in India there has been a huge rise in domestic violence, though regretting, the National Commission for Women (NCW) is “under-report cases.”

Will Modi realise 'appeasement' policy has lost its value, pay China in the same coin?

By NS Venkataraman*
The morale of the world community is now at very low level due to the Covid-19 crisis, with no one knowing when it would end, and the consequent shattered economy of most countries in the world. Chinese government under the dictatorship of Xi Jinping appears to have decided that present is the best time for Chinese government to achieve its long cherished ambition of dominating the world in all respects and emerging as the undisputed super power of the world.

As 5.22 lakh migrants return to Odisha, civil society sets up help desks in 16 districts

By Our Representative
In a mission to restarting livelihood for migrant returnees and other needy families who mostly depend on the informal economy and had to lose their livelihood due to the Covid-19 in Odisha, two state civil society organizations have set up 16 district level help desks in order to link them with various livelihood based schemes and employment opportunities, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Indian state sector 'outperforms' private cos by 3-12% during lockdown: IIM-A study

By Rajiv Shah
A major study, released by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), first of its kind on “heightened uncertainty in product markets, business operations, and financing plans” of Indian firms during the Covid-19 crisis, has found that “the government-owned firms have outperformed the private counterparts.”