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Showing posts from August, 2020

Maulana Azad had sensed: Sardar Patel 'instigated' Nehru into accepting partition

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
The ghost of partition is haunting us even today. Partition is a very complex and complicated jinx to understand. However, it couldn’t be understood unless we go into the details with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, quite a few of which were confided into me by his nephew (and my father), Ghulam Yasin’s son, Nooruddin Ahmed at the time when 30 unpublished pages of Maulana Azad’s “India Wins Freedom” had to be published in 1988 as per his wishes 30 years after his death.

Divisiveness, discord, distrust 'eroding' pluralist motto of Independence day

By Mike Ghouse*
India is one of the first nations on the earth to practice pluralism, i.e., respecting others' otherness. While the Hindu ethos considers the world as one family, also known as Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum, the Islamic, Christian, and other traditions also subscribe to the idea that we originated from a single couple. Together, these values 'had' contributed to India's post-independence political stability. We have lost those values now.

New normal amidst Covid-19 crisis: Politics of greed, power, divisive propaganda

By Debmalya Nandy*
Widespread economic distress, loss of employment due to unplanned lockdown, and now unlock phases, have been a nightmare for millions of people, yet, ironically, the biggest headlines in Indian media have been a temple, which is increasingly becoming a founding stone for normalizing majoritarian politics in the country. A close second are the stories of elected state governments sought to be toppled.

Supreme Court adding substance to the view: It's criminalizing dissent, says PUCL

By Our Representative
Expressed “dismay” and “disappointment” over the the Supreme Court holding Prashant Bhushan, senior advocate, guilty of criminal contempt of court for a set of tweets, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said that the judgment will add substance to the view that, just like other democratic institutions, it too is criminalizing dissent, “acting in a manner which would silence democratic voices using the draconian power of contempt of court.”

Six-day online Janta Parliament amidst Modi govt decision making 'cloaked' in secrecy

Counterview Desk
Several civil society organizations (CSOs) have declared their intention to organize a week-long 11 session online Janta Parliament under the banner of Jan Sarokar from August 16 to 21 in order to demonstrate that the Government of India could have called online Parliament session, curtailed on March 23 as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown.

Committee to reform criminal law lacks diversity, represents 'privileged' classes: NAPM

Counterview Desk
In a letter addressed to the Union home minister, India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has objected to what it has called “unrepresentative nature of the Committee to Reform the Criminal Law”, formed recently the Government of India.

Undoing 'past wrong' at Ayodhya: Will Modi govt hand over Puri temple to Buddhists?

By Shamsul Islam*
While laying the foundation of Ram Janmabhoomi Temple at Ayodhya on August 5, 2020, with the get-up of a prosperous Hindu sage, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that wait of Hindus of the world for centuries was over, as Lord Ram’s birthplace has been finally liberated from numerous attempts to destroy it.

Humiliation of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot? Sonia family 'wins', Congress loses

By NS Venkataraman*
All those who understand the need for healthy and progressive democracy in India want a strong opposition party at national level that can question the Modi government if and when necessary, with dignity, facts, figures and logic.

Farmers' group to GPCB: Why refuse to seal industry-controlled 'polluting' borewells?

By Our Representative
The Farmers Action Group (FAG), a Gujarat-based group, in a letter to the chairman, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), taking strong exception to a GPCB letters dated July 15 and 27 to the farmers of seven villages of Vadodara district seeking to seal their borewells, has wondered why is the top state government agency refusing to take a similar step against polluting industrial units in the region.

Bhoomi pujan: Indian Muslims 'didn't like' conversion of Turkish museum into mosque

By Adv Masood Peshimam*
Prime Minister Narendra Modi likened the Ram Mandir campaign to freedom struggle at the bhoomi pujan at Ayodhya. As he did this, he appeared to reveal his real worldview, failing to understand as why the two events are poles apart. Indeed, there cannot be any comparison between the two.

FIR against Assam prof 'ignores': There's not one but 300 plus Ramayanas in India

Counterview Desk
An online petition, seeking support for Anindya Sen, a faculty at Assam University, who has been named in three FIRs (per latest news) for sharing a joke on Facebook, has asserted that the complaints of ‘religious hatred’, ‘communal feeling’ and ‘cyber-crime’ levelled against him are “baseless to the point of being ridiculous.”

Alternative experiments 'ignored, concealed' by mainstream media, voice of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The pandemic driven lockdowns have triggered worldwide growth of unemployment, hunger, homelessness and poverty. The speed of economic descent in world economy is extraordinary. The world is sleep walking into greater economic depression of the century and its impacts will reverberate for decades.

Growing challenge of 'idle' youth: Just 1.8% received formal industry-relevant training

By Balwant Singh Mehta, Simi Mehta and Arjun Kumar*
August 12 each year is celebrated as the International Youth Day (IYD) to raise awareness about the challenges and problem faced by the youth. It was first observed in the year 2000. This day aims to endorse ways to engage them in becoming more actively participated in accomplishing affirmative contributions to their association.

Hindutva 'transformed' Ram from man with exemplary virtues to aggressive warrior

By Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey*  Ram has been described as Maryada Purushottam, the most virtuous among men. He left his kingdom merely because he didn't want to hurt the sentiments of his step mother and went on a 14 years exile. It was not in his character to enter into a dispute. He had to enter into a fight with Ravana only because his wife was abducted.

One Nation One Ration? Govt 'ignores': 40% beneficiaries don't have ration card

Counterview Desk
Right to Food Campaign (RtFC), reacting to the Government of India’s recent One Nation, One Ration (ONOR) scheme, has said that, in its current form, it is unlikely to ensure universal food security, as just 60% of the population has ration cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), suggesting, there are doubts this official data as well.

Gujarat NGO asks Javdekar to make public all comments on draft EIA notification

By Our Representative
Gujarat-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has asked Union minister for environment forest and climate change Prakash Javdekar to ensure that all the comments made on the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 notification are uploaded on the Union ministry’s website for perusal of the general public.

Proposed changes in environmental law 'undemocratic, compromise jurisprudence'

Counterview Desk
The Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 has received serious criticisms from environmentalists, civil society activists and citizen’s groups ever since its release on March 12, 2020, even as our country was just about acknowledging the gravity of the Covid-19 crisis. Now, more than 100* movements, organizations and environmentalists have come together to write to 785 Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs seeking its immediate withdrawal.

Costs, sales, profits: Top business executives see 'some early signs of optimism'

By Our Representative
An Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey of responses from top executives of 1,200 companies has found that that, as the country is “unlocking” itself, the percentage of firms expecting significant (over 6%) cost increase has been gradually declining, but the firms reporting moderate (in the range of 3% to 6%) cost increase has sharply increased -- from 16% in May 2020 to 22% in June 2020.

New education policy 'promoting' Sanskrit as enriching option at the cost of Urdu

By Sudarshan Iyengar*
The New Education Policy (NEP) announced after 34 years claims to make way for large-scale transformational reforms in education on foundation pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability. The announcement needs to be welcomed, the process of decision making notwithstanding.

Social inclusion: How MGNREGA 'helped' marginalized sections in Rann of Kutch

By Gazala Paul, Pawan Atkari, Ashish Mehta*
Every year, the stories of deprivation and lack of access to food and water among the people of Rapar and the Bhachau blocks in the Little and the Big Rann of Kutch in Gujarat are pretty much the same. Amidst the vastness of the desert and the salty marsh, residents, especially those who are economically and socially weak, would somehow survive.

No to non-violence: Recalling Aug 9 for Quit India, Adivasi day, Nagasaki bombing

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Three significant observances mark August 9 every year: The anniversary of the Quit India Movement, the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Though each of these observances have their own specificity, there is a deep inter-connectedness among all three, particularly in the values that they are intended to highlight on a day like this.

Cancel environmental hearings scheduled in August: NGO plea to Gujarat CM

By Our Representative
Gujarat environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra in a letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani seeking his intervention to postpone seven public hearings announced across the state between August 18 and 29 in view of the current pandemic situation, regretting, his plea to the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the state chief secretary has gone “unheeded.”

Aug 5: Whither 'Hinduism' that Gandhi, Ramkrishna, Vivekanand, Tagore preached?

By Prem Verma*
Sixth December, 1992 – the day India lost its secular character and opted for majoritarionism as its ruling philosophy. The quilt of India made from its myriad beliefs, religions, languages, customs and traditions was torn to shreds by an insane crowd of zealous fanatics egged on by a short-sighted selfish leadership of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

When Islamic nations galore, why question Modi seeking Hindu 'predominance'?

By NS Venkataraman*  In the 16th century Mughals invaded India, stayed back and then started spreading Islam in the country. Several Hindu families were converted by coercion and other methods. In 1608, British entered India as traders and slowly started occupying the country, spreading Christianity. Many Hindus were similarly converted.

Odisha lockdown: Children's learning level 'plummets' as 32% take attend classes

By Our Representative
A civil society sample study in Odisha has found that children’s overall levels during the lockdown have drastically plummeted. It has found that out of a total of 845 school students of class VIII, who appeared for English language test, 48% were “below expected standard.” In Mathematics, this percentage was 45%, the study said.

Ex-official: Murmu, appointed as CAG, will 'surely' perform shradh of the institution

Counterview Desk
A former senior official of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Shantanu Basu, in a Facebook comment in the wake of the appointment of GC Murmu, a Gujarat IAS cadre official of the 1985, has raised doubts about the independence of CAG following the Government of India move.

Education policy: Few takers for 'utopian' talk about Sanskrit, traditional knowledge

By Sandeep Pandey, Praveen Srivastava*
The Bhartiya Janata Party government did what it is best at in announcing the New Education Policy (NEP) -- high on publicity, low in content, with the country's Environment Minister taking the centre stage and Human Resources Minister, now rechristened as Education Minister, playing second fiddle.

Selling resources? Indian political class 'needs' police force to call opponents traitors

By Prem Singh*
"Members of the police shall exercise their functions, powers and duties as impartial servants of the general public and the Government of the day... No member of the police may be ordered or forced to exercise his other functions or powers or deploy police resources to promote or undermine any political party or interest group, or any member of such a party or group. The police have the duty to uphold the rights of and afford protection to all political parties, persons and organizations equally without fear or favor" -- United Nations Guidelines on the Role of Police in Democracy

Bullet train authority 'ignores' listing big trees to be razed in Gujarat corridor

By Our Representative
Environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have alleged that at just one location alone, the planned Bullet Train corridor between Ahmedabad and Mumbai wouldn’t just be razing to the ground not those trees which have been listed, but also several other rare trees well.

Quit India: How Hindutva icons 'backed' British when Congress was outlawed

By Shamsul Islam*
On the eve of 78th anniversary of the glorious Quit India Movement (QIM) we must evaluate the role of the Hindutva gang in India's anti-colonial freedom struggle. QIM also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution) was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee.

Indira’s Congress successors showed ‘no interest’, lacked capacity to build party

By Anand K Sahay*
Significant public discussion around the recent defection of Jyotiradatya Scindia and the proto-defection of Sachin Pilot, political dynasts who gained traction early in life primarily on the strength of their proximity to the command headquarters (owing to their lineage), has centred on the state of ennui that is said to envelop the party’s top leadership.

Divisive, communal politics? Community kitchens reveal social fabric 'still intact'

By Supriya Joshi, Vishal Kumar, Sandeep Pandey*
India is one the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations of the world. It has a syncretic culture and people have learned to live together respecting each other's beliefs. However, in the recent past, communal politics has been used extensively for mobilizing voters. This has led to extreme communal polarisation and caused sufficient damage by sowing the seeds of distrust between Hindu and Muslim communities.

'False' action against top activists: Why is NHRC condoning errand cops? PUCL

Counterview Desk
Welcoming the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) direction to the Chhattisgarh government ordering Rs 1 lakh compensation to 13 members of two fact-finding teams -- lawyers, academics, writers and activists -- were wrongly booked and illegally arrested in 2016, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has regretted that even a month later, the state government is yet to act.

Notice externing anti-CAA protester from Ahmedabad 'politically motivated'

By Our Representative
An online petition, forwarded as an email alert to Counterview by activist-academic Maansi Shah, has termed the Ahmedabad police notice, dated July 17, served to Kaleem Siddiqui, social worker, community organizer and journalist, seeking an explanation as to why he should not be barred from Ahmedabad and neighbouring districts for two years as “malafide and politically motivated.”

Indian Americans in New York protest 'celebration' of Babri demolition on Aug 5

By Our Representative
The Coalition to Stop Genocide in India, a broad network of Indian Americans and US based civil rights organizations and activists, organized a rally at the Times Square in New York on August 5, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bhomi poojan of the Ram Temple, calling the event in Ayodhya as “celebration of the destruction of the Babri Mosque in India.”

A myth and a legend, Sadia Dehlvi believed true Islam is about Sufi way of life

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed* “You never said I’m leaving,
You never said, good bye, 
You were gone before I knew it 
And only God knew, why! 
All people die, but not all people live!” 
Sadia lived! She packed so much life into her eventful six decades. She travelled, chased her dreams, worked in a profession she loved, fell in love, mended a broken heart and still put one foot in front of the other battling what she knew from the start, was an incurable cancer. She did so with grace, dignity, integrity and courage. Even during her utter weakness and painful moments, she had the heart to laugh at her lovely foibles. 

Eight crore children, 1.6 crore pregnant women 'deprived' of right to food

Counterview Desk
The Right to Food Campaign, in a memorandum to Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, even as demanding to restart hot cooked meal and other Integrated Child Development Services, has regretted that despite India’s unlock phases, a whopping 6.40 crore children and 1.56 crore are pregnant and lactating women continue to be denied the right to food.

Larger conspiracy? Delhi police questioning Prof Apoorvanand termed 'abnormal'

By Our Representative
In what has been termed as “nationwide condemnation”, more than 1,300 concerned citizens, including academics and social activists, have protested against the Delhi Police interrogation of Apoorvanand, professor of Hindi literature, Delhi University, stating, it is part “a clear strategy” by the capital’s cops to present protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a conspiracy to plan and stage the communal riots that shook Delhi in late February.

History crudely shredded: Sheikh Abdullah rejected Jinnah offer to 'join' Pakistan

By Anand K Sahay*
On August 5, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) observed the first anniversary of what’s unarguably the darkest period in its history since October 1947 when the ruler of the former princely state situated on the boundary with Pakistan opted to “accede” to the Indian Union -- rather than “merge” -- under guarantees of a special dispensation.

Allow right to self-determination, free and fair referendum: Kashmiri diaspora group

Counterview Desk
The World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a Washington DC-based group, claiming to represent Kashmiri diaspora organizations, even as demanding to immediately lift what it calls “the year-long military siege”, has sought restoration of all internet connectivity and communications links, and release of all political prisoners including underage children, journalists, and civil society members.

Kashmir: Mainstream academia, civil society sections 'never stood up' for people's rights

Counterview Desk
India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), calling abrogation of Article 370 a year ago “arbitrary”, has vowed solidarity with the “resistance” of the people of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), even as calling for intensifying the struggle to “end oppression, militarization and corporate loot.”

NEP's 'big' challenge: 7.5 lakh students in foreign lands, only 40,000 return each year

By Our Representative
Participated by senior academics from India and abroad, a web policy talk on Evolving Paradigm of Higher Education Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic, jointly organized by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, and the University of Idaho, US, has sought to endorse the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 for “paving” the way for transformational reforms in the country’s higher education systems, though several speakers underlined the need to overcome infrastructural constraints and digital divide.

Ayodhya: Babri demolition should be held 'legally accountable', demands NAPM

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), India’s premier civil rights network, has termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ayodhya-Ram Mandir inauguration a frontal attack on India’s Constitutional democracy. Calling the proposed Ram temple a monument of violations”, it demanded the perpetrators of the “criminal demolition” of Babri Masjid should be held legally accountable.

Govt 'assures' Gujarat HC no action against MBBS students defying corona sahayak order

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has assured the High Court that no action would be taken against Part-I and Part-II MBBS students of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)-controlled NHL Medical College and LG Hospital and Medical College. The assurance follows the direction by Justice SH Vora to the State government not to prosecute or initiate action against the students who were defying the college authorities’ order to work as corona sahayaks (helpers).

Balancing equities? Polarization of an already divided nation on August 5, 2020

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Fifth August 2020:A ‘bhoomi pujan’ has take place in Ayodhya, marking the beginning of the construction work for a Ram temple, at the site where the Babri Masjid once stood. The construction of the temple is expected to take three years and the costs, yet undisclosed, will surely run into astronomical amounts. The Babri Masjid- Ram Mandir fight, has been one of the most contentious issues in post-independent India. It has resulted in plenty of bloodshed, destruction, violence, hate and divisiveness.

Hey Ram! Congress follows BJP, endorses Ram temple, 'woos' Hindutva

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
‘Hey Ram’ were the last words of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. He uttered these words on January 30,1948 while taking bullets from his assassin, a Hindutva terrorist called Nathuram Godse. The Hindutva politics of hate-filled bullets from the Beretta automatic pistol killed the Mahatma. This was the first onslaught on the secular and multicultural fabric of independent India.

Ram Temple bhoomi poojan with Bhagwat as chief guest 'violates' Modi's oath as PM

By Shamsul Islam*
The sovereign-democratic Indian Republic came into existence on January 26, 1950 coinciding with the promulgation of a historic constitution which in its Preamble declared its firm commitment to "Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation…"

All PMs since Nehru, including Modi, set aside plea for High Court bench in west UP

By Sanjeev Sirohi*
Amidst frantic preparations for the bhumi poojan of Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya, the lawyers of 26 districts of West UP once again went strike on August 4, 2020 in protest against the gruesome murder of a fellow lawyer, Dharmendra Chaudhary, from Bulandshahr. Chaudhary was missing for 8 days. His decomposed body was recovered from a marble godown in Khurja area on night of July 31, 2020.

Pesticides endorsed? Business Standard ad on foreign funded NGOs malicious: Activists

By Our Representative
In a sharp rebuttal to a full-page advertorial published in the daily “Business Standard” (July 29), more than 160 academics, activists and NGOs, many of them working in the environmental field, have said that the content the advertorial by the all-India pesticides and chemical fertilizer industry body, Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), is “malafide as it seeks to promote harmful agricultural practices detrimental to public interest.”

How state 'violates' MNREGA's legal provision of job for more than 100 days

By Anurag Singh, Sandeep Pandey*
Atma-nirbhar (self-reliant) India must perform on several fronts in order to vindicate itself on its adopted path in the current economic crisis coupled with crippling pandemic, two of which are Education and Employment. As a matter of considerable advantage, two recent historic social legislations offer a means to overcome the times of crisis -- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), 2005 and Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.