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Showing posts from October, 2020

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Hathras Dalit victim's family facing pressure from UP's powerful feudal-caste interests

By Our Representative A fact-finding report, prepared after its recent visit to Hathras, has said that ever since the gruesome grangrape incident in Uttar Pradesh on September 14, the victim’s family has had to fight its “battle amidst feudal-casteist environs and politics” in which it is being forced to operate. Worse, hurdles were created for those who seeking to give a supporting hand the family. The victim (identified by the team as Dasya), died in a Delhi hospital a fortnight later.

UN human rights commissioner objects to Stan Swamy's arrest, use of FCRA on NGOs

Counterview Desk
Objecting to the use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) against Amnesty International, forcing the top NGO to close its office in India, and the arrest human rights activists, especially 83-year-old Fr Stan Swamy, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has asked the Government of India to safeguard the rights of human rights defenders and NGOs, and their ability to carry out their crucial work on behalf the groups they represent.

1.3 lakh children work in cottonseed plots in Gujarat tribal area, claims NGO study

By Our Representative
A recent survey, carried out by the Centre for Labour Research and Action (CLRA), a civil rights organization, of cottonseed plots in Danta taluka of Banaskantha district has claimed that tribal children continue to be employed in large numbers for cross pollination work in cottonseed production in Gujarat. While some of the children belong to the farmer households, other children are hired for wages as the pollination work is labour intensive.

Those in sex work are workers entitled to govt schemes: 12,000 activists support NHRC

Counterview Desk
A statement signed by nearly 12,000 women’s rights activists and organizations across India, “Sex Workers have Human Rights too”, has taken strong exception to by a letter by Sunitha Krishnan and her organisation, Prajwala, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which seeks to reduce sex workers to hapless victims of violence and not citizens entitled to rights.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Feminism in Sanskrit classics? Sita refused to prove chastity before kingdom, gave up life

By Kabita Ghosh, Arup Mitra*
There is a strong view that western feminism made the world aware of gender equality and talked about women empowerment openly. Some of the Indian women writers dealing with gender issues contested this view through their writings and held that western feminism may have influenced the feminist movement in India, giving it a concrete shape, but to say that it made India fight for equality is rather an exaggeration.

Kazi Karimuddin wished individuals secured from 'unreasonable' search and seizure

By Moin Qazi*
Human civilisation has always believed that there is something primal about the need for privacy, for secrecy, for personal space. This has, in the world of some judicial authorities, taken to mean “the right to be let alone”-- that is, the right to privacy. They believe “privacy is the beginning of all freedom”.

Untangling governance? State policy 'protects' Adivasis, not in terms of rights and identity

By Rajiv Shah
A new book, “India’s Scheduled Areas”, has gone a long way to suggest that the contradictions between two diametrically opposite views during the “intensive discussions and debates” at the Constituent Assembly on what policy to adopt towards India’s tribal areas – whether to see them as regions with distinct identity or now – continues to this day.

Soul of Narmada movement, Jagannath kaka absolves Nehru of sanctioning High Dam

By Nandini Oza*
The news of the passing away of one of the senior-most members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) Jagannath (Kaka) Patidar at the age of 93 seemed as if the foundation of the movement itself has been shaken. There is no hesitation in saying that Jagannath (bhai) Patidar, popularly known as “Kaka” and his family is the first family of the NBA. Hardly anyone in the plains of Nimad, Madhya Pradesh (MP), must have opposed the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) for over five decades with the kind of resilience as that of Kaka.

US polls: Should Indian Americans vote those refusing to condemn RSS ideology?

By Mike Ghouse*
Why should we support or pull down the Indian Americans running for US Congress or Senate?
The answer is simple, almost all Indian Americans have families back in our motherland, and we must support and elect candidates who subscribe to American values. You and I came to America and have cherished this nation for its values of freedom, equal opportunities, equal justice, equal dignity, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should wish the same for our fellow Indians back home or any people anywhere.

Insurance cos failing to cover poor, allow NGOs in the sector: GoI-supported report

By Our Representative
In an unusual development, a Government of India (GoI)-supported report has favoured the NGO model for taking insurance to the poorer sections of the people, stating that since they are aligned with vulnerable communities they can take insurance to them if necessary policy changes are made in the desired direction. The report comes amidst the strong view among Indian NGOs that they have to operate in an “increasingly repressive” political environment.

Control population to abolish bonded labour: NHRC official praises Emergency policy

By Rajiv Shah
A senior National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) official, Justice PC Pant, wants the population control policy initiated by Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency days to return in order to end bonded labour. Speaking on the occasion of a virtual book release function, Justice Pant, who is member NHRC, and was Supreme Court judge between 2014 and 2017, recalled, “During 1975-76 under the 20-point programme there was not only emphasis on abolition of bonded labour but also population control.”

Maharashtra governor, an RSS man, 'ignores': Festival season may aggrave Covid-19

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is upset with chief minister Udhav Thackeray and his government for not allowing the ‘religious places’ to open up during the festival season. Suggesting that our Gods and Goddesses have been “condemned” to stay under lockdown, he has told Thackeray, "You have been a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as chief minister.”

Symbolic rite in memory of Hathras gangrape victim performed by women in 1,000 villages

By Our Representative About 30,000 people participated in over 1,000 villages of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka in the Prerna Sabha (sacred get together), organised on October 14, to give respects to the Hathras teenage girl, who was gangraped on September 14. The died a fortnight later in a Delhi hospital.

Attempt to implicate Mahila Ekta Yatra in Delhi riots 'malicious': Judicial probe sought

Counterview Desk
More than a dozen women’s rights leaders*, commenting on the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police in FIR No 59/2020, which assigns blame for the communal violence in North-East Delhi in February 2020 to not just protestors, activists and students, but also participants in a women’s rally in which they provided leadership, have demanded independent judicial inquiry into the manner in which the investigation is being carried out.

Amend food security Act, ensure midday meal to poor kids in private schools: Plea to Modi

By Our Representative
A senior Ahmedabad-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya, has pleaded before the Government of India to amend Section 5(1) (b) of the Food Security Act, 2013 in order to enable poor students admitted to unaided private schools to get midday meal, compulsory for primary school children under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

Fr Stan's arrest turns Bhima Koregaon into 'most sweeping baton' to silent critics

Counterview Desk
Commenting on the recent arrest of Jharkhand-based tribal rights leader Fr Stan Swamy and subsequent filing of charge-sheet against several human rights activists, a civil society network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), has said, the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case has turned into the “most sweeping baton used for silencing human rights activists and intellectuals who have stood alongside the struggles of the most marginalised castes, classes and community.”

India among 19 worst countries 'failing' to criminalise bribery of foreign officials: Study

Counterview Desk
A new report, “Exporting Corruption”, published by Berlin-based non-profit Transparency International, regrets that although India has been a party to the UN Convention against Corruption since 2011, it has yet to meet the Article 16 obligations to define and criminalise foreign bribery, adding, the country’s legal framework suffers from shortcomings which affect its capacity to prevent and prosecute foreign bribery.

RTI: 9 of 29 information commissions headless, backlog of cases 'steadily' increasing

By Our Representative
Marking 15 years of implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a civil rights organization, has said that nine out of 29 (31%) information commissions in India are headless, i.e. they are functioning without a chief. “These include the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) and State Information Commissions (SICs) of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Goa, Manipur, Telangana, Jharkhand, Tripura and Nagaland”, it notes in a new report.

Hathras part of 'disturbing' pattern: Delhi riots, Bhima-Koregaon, Jharkhand lynchings

By Our Representative  Civil rights organization Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), in a statement, has demanded the resignation of the UP chief minister, even as seeking strict action under the scheduled castes/scheduled tribes (SC/ST) Atrocities Act against all those responsible for the recent violence in Hathras, even as offering “comprehensive assistance to the victims.”

Hathras: UP govt 'encouraging' brutal display of Brahmanical supremacy of upper castes

Counterview Desk
The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a network of civil rights groups, trade unions and students and youth associations*, taking strong exception to the arrest of journalists and activists against the backdrop of brutal gangrape of a Dalit woman in Hathras under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), has said that this stands in sharp contrast to the impunity provided to “dominant caste perpetrators of violence by the Uttar Pradesh government and police.

India's elite educational institutions turning into 'killing fields' for marginalised students

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The Supreme Court's order allowing the three accused of abetting the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi – Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal – to complete their medical studies is deeply disturbing. It indicates a trend where violence against Dalits and Adivasis seems to be happening with impunity.

New York award to Avni Sethi for museum on conflicts amidst 'attacks' on human rights

By Our Representative
The Vera List Center for Art and Politics, a Manhattan, New York-based non-profit research organization and public forum for art, culture and politics, has announced Avni Sethi as recipient of the 2020-2022 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice for her project Conflictorium, a museum of conflict resolution in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Sheikh Matlub Ali, symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in crowded columns of power corridors

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Amidst the names of politicians crowded the columns of power corridors in history but in contemporary political and cultural firmaments of India, nobody can match Sheikh Matlub Ali of Odisha. He was born on December 16, 1942 in a village called Dharoshyam Sundarpur, Sukleswar (Mahanga) in Cuttack district and studied in the famous Ravenshaw College, Odisha. His life was a praxis of Gandhian principles with Nehruvian outlooks. He was an incomparable icon of Hindu Muslim unity in Odisha.

10 Dalit women raped every day, Supreme Court should intervene: Dalit NGOs

By Our Representative 
India’s top Dalit advocacy groups in have insisted that the Supreme Court should take suo moto cognisance of the rising atrocities against Dalit women and minor girls in the country. In a joint statement, the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) and the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) said, the Hathras gang rape and murder is “not stand-alone case”, adding, data suggest “every day 10 Dalit women and girls are raped in the country.”

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”

A fishworkers' leader, Peter worked for unity of social, workers', environmental groups

Counterview Desk
In a solidarity statement in the memory of T Peter, who passed away on October 8 from Covid-19 related complications in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, several civil rights organizations* have said that he was a “street fighter, trade unionist and leader of India’s fishworkers”.

Gujarat Dalit move to apply 'haldi tilak' as symbolic last rite to Hathras gangrape victim

By Our RepresentativeIn a massive programme, Gujarat’s 431 villages and 305 villages of other states of India, will be holding Prerna Sabha (sacred get together) on October 14, the day on which top Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar embraced Buddhism in 1956. The programme will be held to give respects to the Hathras teenage girl, who was gangraped on September 14.
She subsequently died a fortnight later, but her body was allegedly refused respectable funeral by the authorities, not allowing her mother to apply “haldi-tilak” (turmeric mark) to her body, a religious rite. She was reportedly unceremoniously cremated in the absence of the family past midnight.

Why pandemic has 'wiped away' livelihood options in India's large urban spaces

By Arup Mitra*
Employment problem in a developing country context cannot be gauged merely in terms of open unemployment rate. The phenomenon of working poor engaged in low productivity activities with meagre earnings is a vast manifestation of the employment problem in a country like India. The periodic labour force survey (Periodic Labour Force Survey [PLFS]:2017-18) witnessed a rise in the unemployment rate which was also accompanied by improvements in educational attainment. Besides, the positive association between the rate of urbanisation and unemployment was evident.

Farm laws' 'unbridled' monopoly to MNCs: Can Amul-type coops rescue farmers?

By Moin Qazi* Three new farm Acts were recently introduced in the country. The most important of these, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 is aimed at putting an end to the monopoly of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis. Earlier, under the 1964 APMC Act, all the farmers were required to sell their produce at the government-regulated mandis.

Neglected by social justice politicians, Paswan failed to give Ambedkarite push to Bihar

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's sudden demise on October 8 evening has created a big vacuum, particularly if one speaks of Bihar politics. Paswan was a seasoned leader, a powerful orator and a mass leader who broke many a record in electoral politics. His record win from the Hazipur Lok Sabha constituency, as also other constituencies in Bihar, showed his grip over masses. In fact, he entered the Guinness Book for his record wins.

Malicious, spiteful, inhuman, motivated, vindictive: PUCL on arrest of Fr Stan Swamy

Counterview Desk
Condemning the detention of 83 year old Fr Stan Swamy, a well-known Ranchi-based tribal rights activist, in the Bhima Koregaon case, India’s premier human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that it is “shocked” by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) move to take him to Mumbai to be remanded for being part of “larger conspiracy” to cause unrest following the violence in Pune, Maharashtra, in January 2018.

Gujarat Vidyapith not living up to Gandhiji's 'legacy': Online petition seeks broad support

Counterview Desk
An online civil society-sponsored petition has sough broad support stating that the university founded by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, is not living up to its historic legacy, as evident from events starting with January 2020, when police entered the campus for the first time in since independence to stop students from flying anti-CAA kites.

More than 80% business executives say sales, profits post-lockdown remain dormant

By Our Representative
The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A’s) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), seeking to examine the extent of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders, has said that around 28% of the firms still expect significant (over 6%) cost increase as compared to the same time last year, though this proportion has been gradually declining after March 2020.

'Dire need' to further decentralise Gujarat urban local bodies, form Areas Sabhas

Countreview Desk
In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, My City Our City (MCOC), a network of civil society organizations (CSOs), researchers and development professionals of Gujarat has asked the state government to frame state legislation on lines of the Government of India’s Model Nagar Raj Bill (MNRB), stating, this is necessary in order to remain committed to the ideology of ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Self-reliance’ of Gandhiji at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is talking about Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

Labour union seeks rural complaint panels following migrant worker's rape in Kutch

By Our Representative
A zero number FIR under section 376 and relevant sections of the atrocities Act has been filed in an alleged case of rape of a tribal migrant agriculture worker at a farm in Kutch on September 16 at the Sabarmati Police Station of Ahmedabad. The victim, a resident of the tribal dominated Dahod district in Gujarat, had gone to work with her husband in an agricultural farm in village Ratnaal, Anjar taluka, Kutch district, Gujarat, as a wage share cropper for the whole season.

Hathras not isolated case, is structural anti-Dalit violence: BIAS, TISS students, alumni

By Our Representative
A large number of students and alumni of the Birla Institute of Applied Sciences (BIAS), Nainital, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), with branches in Mumbai, Guwahati and Tuljapur, have said in an identical statement that the Hathras incident “cannot be seen in isolation but as structural casteist violence committed by upper caste people against Dalits as a community and Dalit women in particular.”

Why FCRA amendments are 'blatantly' anti-people, anti-poor, anti-women, draconian

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
CIVICUS is the well-known global alliance of civil society organisations that strives to promote marginalised voices specifically in the Global South; it has members from over 170 countries. A report which was recently published by them entitled ‘Punished for speaking up: The ongoing use of restrictive laws to silence dissent in India’, highlights the tremendous increase in judicial harassment of activists, journalists, and protesters.

Jaswant Singh wished BJP larger vision of India than RSS', 'lamented' its lack of vision

By Anand K Sahay*
Jaswant Singh, who passed away recently after being in a coma for nearly six years, was by training a soldier, common enough in his native Rajasthan, but aristocrat by birth, a reason why he had a broad conservative outlook of which gentlemanliness -- in his day -- was an essential part. However, as for his personal inclinations, he was a man of books, which is far from common in that state, or anywhere else for someone of his background.

Pothan Joseph: A rare journalist, who made people laugh at life, and at himself

By Alexander Luke*
Pothan Joseph was my grandmother's brother, she used to often remind me, I remember when young. Later it became clear it was not only she who talked of her brother, others held him in very high regard. When he died in 1972, I was 24 and still did not know much about him. “The Times of India”, in a lead editorial, used the word greatness for him. Others spoke the same way.

NRI Ambedkarites 'seething' with rage, pain, sadness: Brutal hate crime in Hathras

Counterview Desk
In a solidarity statement, NRI Ambedkarite groups from several countries have said that an analysis of “caste-motivated hate crimes such as rapes/murders” in UP at Hathras, Balrampur, Azamgarh, Bulandshahar suggets that “the conviction rate for the men accused of raping Dalit women is almost nil.”

UK media whipped up anti-immigration hatred, now draws flak from climate protesters

By Peter Markham*
Climate change is threatening the future of life on earth as we know it. It feels that more grim evidence emerges almost every day to reinforce the fear that we are hurtling towards irreversible existential dangers. It can be hard therefore to understand why this is not the lead story of every publication, every day of the week. The world’s top line feels well and truly buried. And so, early in September, the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion decided to take on the UK’s press.

India would be 'authoritarian' like neighbours China, Pakistan, Burma without Gandhi

By Pushkar Raj*
Even as yet another birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation was being celebrated on October 2, it is worth recognising that thinkers, writers, and activists are valuable for a society. Gandhi represented all of these, leaving a mark on the humanity that even his enemies find hard to deny.

Kandhamal college girls turn teachers for tribal kids as govt online education drive fails

By Our Representative
Two girls from the tribal-dominated Jhimaghia village of Kandhamal districts have stepped up to teach tribal kids when they saw that children of the village are deprived of education after the lockdown was enforced to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. Recently graduated, Jyotsnamayee Naik (23) and Bidhata Pradhan (22) have taken up the responsibility to teach these children in batches both in the morning and evening shift.

Empowered Gujarat forest dwellers overcome financial losses during pandemic: Report

Counterview Desk
In new report, citing instances from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha, has claimed that despite major issues faced by tribal people during the pandemic, they have been able to “overcome” constraints and crises situations by creating coping mechanisms through gram sabhas.

Recent threats India's forest dwellers: 'Erosion' of democratic space, right to dissent

By Amita Bhaduri*
If during the pre-colonial times, India’s forestlands were mostly under the use of local communities, forest policies during the colonial times led to their centralisation. Forestland began being subjected to commercial over-exploitation for revenue generation purposes, which in turn led to land alienation of forest dwellers and an overall increase in deforestation.

Letter to Bharat Mata on birth anniversary of Father of the Nation 'mourning' Hathras

By Sanghmitra S Acharya*
Dear Bharat Mata,
In this Corona times, hope your face is masked and you have washed your hands off.
Once again a daughter of yours has been raped. And killed too. Brutally, inhumanly and heartlessly. Could you see from behind your mask? And on this day of the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, when you must be getting ready to wish him, some officials through the news channels tell the country that she was not raped! Are you perturbed on this blatant denial? How will you convey this to the Father of the Nation?

Supreme Court asked to take suo moto note of Babri verdict, bring 'perpetrators' to justice

By Our Representative
India’s civil society network National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has demanded that the CBI Court verdict must be challenged, insisting, there has been “criminal neglect of the prosecution in the case and complete denial of the findings of the Liberhan Commission”. It has asked the Supreme Court to “take suo moto note of the verdict and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Hathras a 'blatant case' of upper caste power, patriarchy, socially sanctioned violence

By Our Representative
Thousands of people from all walks of life -- teachers, activists, journalists, homemakers, corporate executives, artists, writers, poets, teachers, students, retired private and public officials, students, faculty, IT professionals and others from across the world -- have regretted that the Hathras gangrape suggests, caste solidarity remains one of the “ugliest and strongest kinship performances of the modern Indian state.”