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Showing posts from August, 2020

External Affairs Minister 'soft-pedaling' China issue to please Beijing rulers

By NS Venkataraman*
Speaking in a meeting on August 28, 2020, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that “realism should shape India’s China policy”. He further said that India’s China policy will be “critical to India’s prospects” and will require “going beyond traditional assumptions.”

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Atmanirbhar Bharat, PM Garib Kalyan Yojna riddled with gender bias: Top academic

By Simi Mehta, Ritika Gupta*
As India has crossed 3.4 million coronavirus cases, these extraordinary times have created conspicuous situations both at personal and professional places for women. There have been rise in the cases of domestic violence and intimate partner violence within households. Also, there has been an increase in the layoffs and loss of jobs for women in professional places.

Misleading, fallacious medical report led to Sudha Bharadwaj bail denial: Relatives

By Our Representative
The family members and friends* of Sudha Bharadwaj, who was arrested two years ago in the Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy Case, have described the denial of bail to the top human rights lawyer and labour leader by a division bench of the Bombay High Court on August 28 “as gross injustice.”

Authoritarian leaders have 'used' animals to project their power, strength, courage

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Even as India appears to be sinking amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, camera addicted and selfie-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy with sharing his multitasking photos, his photography skills and his love for animals, birds and wildlife. Economic and social crisis does not seem to disturb his focus on camera. The positive vibe photos of Modi feeding peacocks at his residence are flooding social media timelines.

Govt of India-supported meet admits: Urdu a language of interfaith bonds, syncretism

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
"Bari aristocracy hei zabaan mein
Nawabi ka maza deti hei Urdu faqiri mein!" 
(The language is so rich in aristocratic ethos
To a pauper it gives a king’s royalty all across!)
The fragrance, candour and timelessness of Urdu, basically an Indo-Aryan language was stamped at the two-day International Urdu Webinar by the NCPUL (National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language) recently in New Delhi. Indeed, since time immemorial, Urdu had been the lingua franca of Sindh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, undivided Bengal, Punjab, Doaba etc. besides being the language of the heart and soul.

Global NGO network calls for worldwide campaign against push for big dam in Sikkim

Counterview Desk
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a multinational civil society network, has opposed the state-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which is “pushing” for constructing the Teesta Stage IV Hydroelectric Power (HEP) project in North Sikkim.

Satluj-Yamuna Link canal: ‘Won’t give-up Riparian rights, will internationalize struggle’

By Hardyal Singh, Manpreet Singh* The World Sikh Parliament members from 26 countries deliberated over a conference call on the issue of the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal issue. Water is the source of life. India’s Supreme Court is preparing to deliver yet another deadly blow to Punjab’s riparian rights over its own crucially important river waters.

Incarcerated, 'erudite' scholar Rona Wilson worked for release of political prisoners

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
Rona Wilson is a prison rights activist who has been in jail since April 2018 and denied bail several times. The Pune Police raided his home in Delhi on April 17, 2018, and arrested him subsequently for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence in January that year. A few months later, the agencies also accused him of being part of a larger naxal plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Rajeev Gandhi style and overthrow the current government.

Bhima Koregaon: Hindutva 'conspiracy' to keep activists in jail without trial, delay bail

Counterview Desk
India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), expressing “solidarity against state repression of activists, lawyers and progressive persons”, has demanded that all political prisoners, including Sudha Bharadwaj, who has been imprisoned for two, years should be released forthwith.

60% rural, 80% urban unorganised workers jobless, yet political mudslinging 'rampant'

Counterview Desk
In a statement, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a network of civil society organizations seeking better living conditions for poorer sections, even as asking India’s political class to “stop political mudslinging”, begin providing relief and restore right to life to the vulnerable sections, has said that Union government has particularly “completely failed” to respond to the public health and economic crisis engulfing the country.

Gender rights NGOs' 'If we do not Rise' action on Gauri Lankesh day of tribute

Counterview Desk
More than 400 gender rights groups and human rights organisations across the country have announced Hum agar uthhe nahin toh… (If we do not rise…) campaign on September 5, 2020, marking the third anniversary of the assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. “The campaign is aimed at uniting voices against targeted attacks on the constitutional rights of the people of India”, a joint statement issued by them said.

Maoist link charges 'baseless': Global NGO seeks urgent release of Sudha Bharadwaj

By Our Representative
Even as August 28 2020 marks two years since the arrest and detention of Indian activist and human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Civicus, a global civil society organization, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately release Bharadwaj and drop all charges against her”, stating charges against her are “baseless” and there are also “concerns” for her health in prison during the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Vilification' campaign against arrested rights defenders: Week-long protests begin

By Our Representative Several well-known civil rights organizations, endorsing a call initiated by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to conduct protest actions from August 28 to September 5, against “deterioration” in civil liberties in the recent past, have regretted that the 12 “renowned” lawyers, professors, academics, writers and activists remain imprisoned under “fabricated charges” for the violence at Bhima Koregaon, while the actual perpetrators “walk freely.”

Entrance exams? How to make IIT selection free of 'extortionist' coaching shops

By Sandeep Pandey*
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic threat a raging debate is going on at present regarding the holding of the Joint Entrance Examination Mains, the preliminary examination required to be cleared for admission to prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology and other engineering and technology institutions, during September 1-6, 2020, by the National Testing Agency, in which 8,58,273 candidates are to appear.

Prof Soma Sen incarcerated 'merely' for daring to express her dissent against state

By Surabhi Agarwal*
Shoma Sen was arrested on June 6, 2018, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for charges which include inciting violence, being involved in raising funds for the banned CPI (Maoist) party and harbouring its fugitive members.

FB cotroversy: Corporates 'must follow' Lincoln’s advice - With malice towards none

By Mike Ghouse*
Religious discrimination is on the rise across the world and must be contained before it harms businesses and our social progress. A religiously or politically prejudiced employee can affect others’ morale, cause a lot of headaches, bring lawsuits, and affect the organization’s ability to function cohesively. He or she can waste the CEO’s time and the precious resources defending and correcting the mistakes rather than focusing on business development and creating employment.

Accidental death: Gujarat capital cops 'beat up' tribal witness, impartial inquiry sought

By Our Representative
The Majur Adhikar Manch (MAM), an Ahmedabad-based labour rights organization working among migrant workers, has alleged that cops of the state capital, Gandhinagar, have “beaten up” a tribal witness, who had been called to give statement in case of an accidental death. The tribal, Ter Singh, who is resident of village Margala, taluka Fatehpura, Dahod district, had to be taken to the Civil Hospital for a Medico Legal Report (MLR), MAM said.

Food insecurity? Indians 'hungrier' than they have been in half a century post-Covid-19

Counterview Desk
The virtual Janta Parliament, a civil society sponsored programme, has ended after listening to representatives from several opposition parties, including D Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), K Raju and Kodikunnil Suresh (Congress), Manoj Jha (Rashtriya Janta Dal), Sanjay Singh (Aam Aadmi Party), and others, all of whom agreed on the need for a common minimum programme of action in the backdrop the Government of India using the pandemic situation into an opportunity to push its pro-corporate agenda.

NHRC order: Dilemma on environmental hearing of top Gujarat refinery unit

By Our Representative
Does the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) appear not too keen to ensure postponement of the proposed environmental public hearings (EPH) of Gujarat’s top petroleum refinery, owned by Nayara Energy (formerly Essar-owned), seeking its unit’s expansion in two of Gujarat districts, Jamnagar and Devbhumi Dwarka? 

Kailash Satyarthi, Dalai Lama, world leaders to 'discuss' child rights amidst Covid-19

By Our Representative
The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) has announced holding of the Fair Share for Children Summit on September 9-10 with the participation of several top world leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, musician and philanthropist Ricky Martin, International Labour Organization director-general Guy Ryder, India’s Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Nobel laureates and youth leaders.

In defence of Sterlite Copper: Victim of 'vicarious satisfaction' of environmentalists

By NS Venkataraman*
When the history of India’s industrial developments and growth would be recorded, Sterlite Copper project in Tamil Nadu would certainly get a prominent mention, as case study of a profitable and technologically advanced project being brought down due to sustained campaign against the project by environmental activists ( obviously, sustaining the campaign for long period require fund support), half informed media campaign and vote bank politics of the politicians.

'Tainted' land of Gandhi: Whither India's faith in civil libertarian political system?

Counterview Desk
Top hostorian Mridula Mukherjee, known for her work on the role of peasants in the Indian independence movement, has said that one of the characteristics of India’s freedom fighters has been their insistence on the need to listen to and respect the dissenting view. In a speech delivered on the occasion of the 73rd Indian Independence Day, she regretted this great legacy is now sought to be undermined.

Withdraw FIR against J&K RTI Foundation leader: India's ex-information chiefs demand

By Our Representative
Prominent Right to Information (RTI) activists, including two former chief information commissioners Wajahat Habibulla and Shailesh Gandhi, and Magsaysay awardee and author Aruna Roy, even as seeking “immediate revocation” of an FIR filed against Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) RTI activist Sajad Hussain Mir, have regretted that the harassment has taken place at a time when the year-old Union territory is directly under the control of the Government of India.

Odisha NGOs start remedial classes for rural children, ask state govt to adopt module

By Anjan Pradhan*
With Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating, and the glaring digital divide posing a massive challenge in Odisha for the children seeking to attend the government’s online classes, a group of civil society organizations (CSOs) have taken the initiative of starting remedial classes for the state’srural children with their members engaging local youth volunteers for this.

VHP accused of targeting Gujarat Muslim youth of Pak, terror link, cow slaughter

By Our Representative
Well-known social activist Sandeep Pandey has taken strong exception to alleged targeting of one Nasir Pathan, 42, resident of Chandana village in Kheda district, Gujarat, by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists by taking up an “emotional” issue like cow slaughter. Pandey in a statement has demanded from the authorities to take action against people who abuse religious agenda to serve their political and personal interests.

Left-liberals' 'churlish' call to boycott Delhi riots book has one parallel: Dina Nath Batra

By Aviral Anand*
“I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” -- Voltaire quoted by Noam Chomsky in his essay, His Right to Say It.
A few days ago, a virtual launch of a book titled “Delhi Riots 2020” was vehemently protested by India’s left liberals, including by several prominent academics and writers. The book was authored by people sympathetic to right-wing views, especially with regard to the riots having been planned by the left.

Majoritarian silence, disbelief in minorities 'helped' Nazis gain ground in Europe

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In a haunting memoir, Piera Sonnino has narrated her devastating experience as a twenty-two-year Italian Jewish woman. She lost her parents and three brothers in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. She is the only holocaust survivor in her family. Her memoir, ‘This has happened: An Italian Family in Auschwitz’ provides a moving account of unspeakable evils of Nazism.

How Modi 'unfolded' political theatre of regression, reppression, utter confusion

By Bhargavi S Rao*
On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon people of India to observe a country-wide curfew towards tackling the COVID pandemic. People were asked to step out on their ‘balconies’ that evening and bang vessels (thali bajao) in gratitude for frontline workers straining day and night to keep us all safe.

South Gujarat sugarcane harvesting workers' struggle leads to 10% hike in wages

By Sudhir Katiyar*
Cooperative Sugar Factories of South Gujarat have hiked the wages of sugarcane harvesting workers by Rs 25 per ton to Rs 280 per ton. The commission paid to the labour contractors has been hiked by Rs 5 per ton to Rs. 55 per ton. This was declared by the labour supervisors of the Cooperative Factories at their meetings with the labour contractors, known locally as mukaddams, on August 18 and 19.

UN day against religious violence: Gujarat riot victims seek 'proper' rehab policy

By Our Representative
The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), Gujarat, has demanded that the Government of India should urgently formulate a comprehensive policy for rehabilitation of the victims of communal violence, pointing out that the 2002 Gujarat riots are a major example of persecution on the basis of religion in India.

Govt of India 'overlooks' option for open book examination in new education policy

By NS Venkataraman*
When I was a student of Annamalai University (Tamil Nadu) several years back, Dr CP Ramaswami Iyer (Dr CP) was the vice chancellor. It has been well recognized, then and now, that Dr CP was one of the brilliant educationists, scholars and administrators.

Refusal to implement NFSA? Gujarat babus 'fear' poverty numbers would spike

By Pankti Jog*
The National Food Security Act (NFSA) has the provision to cover 75% of rural and 50% of urban population for subsidized ration, for which the Government of India is giving 100% expenses. Many states like Orissa, West Bengal and some southern states are adding their own budgets to this. But as for Gujarat, surprisingly, it has been found reducing the scope of NFSA coverage.

A Hindutva gain? KISS, Odisha, dropped from World Anthropology Congress 2013

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) has decided to withdraw its collaboration with the Kaliga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) to organise the World Anthropology Congress 2023 in its campus. The decision of the executive committee is a product of “mounting national and international pressure” from academic, activists and civil society networks.

Combining traditional skills with modern needs to 'promote' bamboo craftsmanship

By Moin Qazi*
Melghat is a forest tract nestled in the Satpura range in eastern Maharashtra. It is inhabited by indigenous people like the Korkus, Gond and Bhilalas, who are bravely defending their verdant world against the ravages of modern commerce. Melghat has been in the news for several years for its lethal malnourishment, which had been claiming lives of hundreds of children year after year.

Sabarmati pollution: GoI's Rs 235 crore to clean up 3 Gujarat rivers 'go waste'

By Our Representative
The Government of India (GoI) may have allocated Rs 235 crore since 2016-17 for cleaning up three of Gujarat’s major rivers, Sabarmati, which flows through Ahmedabad, and Mindola and Tapi, both South Gujarat rivers. However, Mahesh Pandya, director, Paryavaran Mitra, has alleged that despite the allocation, things have failed to improve, with Sabarmati, especially in the downstream, remaining as polluted as before.

Ex-BJP rulers' sedition cases on Jharkhand tribals to be 'withdrawn' in a month

By Our Representative
The Jharkhand government has assured a tribal rights delegation that the cases filed against adivasis for putting up Pathalgadi plaques, erected as part of the rebellious movement in dense forests declaring their villages “independent”, prohibiting them for outsiders, would be withdrawn within a month.

Local bodies' centralized control reason for Gujarat's Covid care 'failure': Aiyar

Counterview Desk
Even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has lately begun appreciating the management of Covid-19 in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, suggesting the need to take it as a case study for its various measures being implemented, former Union panchayat minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, pointing towards “positive correlation” between Panchayat Raj system and effective handling of Covid-19, has said this is where Gujarat has failed.

Sadiqa Zaki who regretted: History doesn't record woman leaving courtroom in tears

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
There are some people, especially ladies among Muslim community, who, despite immense caliber, capability and capacity, tend to lie low, just as a matter of personal choice and the world knows not about them.

NGO activists discuss international carbon market rules, 'fail' to recall India's role

By Our Representative
An NGO-sponsored international webinar on the “role of international carbon markets in India” has regretted that negotiations to agree on rules to govern international carbon markets have “failed”, and uncertainty remains as to whether or not countries will be able to agree on such rules by the next UN climate conference (COP26), scheduled to take place in November 2021.

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

NEP 'fails' to answer: Why is there higher school dropout among Dalits, tribals, girls?

By Martin Macwan*
The opening line of New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 says, “Education is fundamental for achieving full human potential, developing an equitable and just society, and promoting national development”. A positive statement, though not clearly articulated, it agrees that India is still at a distance from developing an equitable and just society.

Political use of social media, where 'likes' and 'reach' decide authenticity of an item

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Social media can surely act as a liberating factor for all those who haven’t been able to avail the opportunity by caste supremacists in India in the name of merit. But it is also a fact that the same brahmanical elite control social media India. A recent report, which highlights how Facebook has been politically compromised in India, explosive in its own way, however, says nothing new. It was known to many of us from the very beginning.

Journalists, teachers should 'pledge' not to be seen as loyal to particular political party

By NS Venkataraman*
It is inevitable that a coin has two sides. Similarly, every view can have an alternate view on any matter. It is very rare that all people think in the same way and agree on every point. Therefore, difference in views between individuals on any matter is nothing to be concerned about.

Shaheen Bagh BJP sponsored? AAP view 'misogynist, patriarchal, undemocratic'

By Our Representative
Five gender rights organizations -- Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Delhi;​ National Federation of Indian Women, Delhi Unit; Centre for Struggling Women; Saheli; and.​ Swastik Mahila Samiti -- describing the recent Aaam Aadmi Party (AAP) statement that the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) movement in Shaheen Bagh was scripted by the BJP as “atrocious”, have said that this suggests AAP is not a gender just party.

Ignoring law and order, 'insecure' Yogi govt preoccupied in fighting opponents

By Sandeep Pandey*
One would wonder why after such a show of triumphalism at the foundation laying ceremony of grand Ram temple on August 5, in Ayodhya the Uttar Pradesh government would stoop so low to put a lock outside the Aam Admi Party office in Lucknow. What makes it feel insecure? 

Delhi landfill collapse: Whither livelihood options for urban poor, eco-regulation?

By Our Representative
The Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) and several other civil rights organizations have said that the landfill collapse at Bhalswa in north Delhi, because of incessant rains on August 13 leading to injury of three waste-pickers, and sudden collapse of livelihood options to scores of others, suggests that crisis is the result of failed environment regulations, and inability to address urban poverty issues of the poorest of the poor sections of society.

When sitting SC judges were called ‘cowards’ for their order during Emergency

Counterview Desk
Pointing towards why well-known advocate Prashant Bhushan drew a parallel with the way the Supreme Court has been acting today with the apex's ways during the Indira Gandhi-imposed emergency (1975-77), the civil rights group Citizens for Democracy (CFD) has said that it wasn’t without reason Justice VM Tarkunde (retd), the then CFD general secretary pointed towards ‘judicial suicide’ in an article published in the June 1976 issue of ‘The Radical Humanist’.

Delhi riots: Why failure to mention evidence on role played by 'Hindu' nationalists?

Counterview Desk
A new report on the violence that broke out in different parts of North-East Delhi, allegedly immediately after an incendiary speech delivered in Maujpur on February 23, 2020 by Kapil Mishra, a BJP politician, in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Police of North East, Ved Prakash Surya, has accused the Delhi police of “participating in the violence”.

How Thatcherism, Reaganism 'impacted' evolution of India's education policies

Counterview Desk
Giving an online talk at a webinar organized by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, Sachidanand Sinha, professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), talked about the evolution of India’s education policies over the last three centuries, pointing towards how the latest National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been evolved.