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Showing posts from November, 2020

Supreme Court, a favourite whipping horse for restless people, can't be assessed in isolation

By Salman Khurshid* Of late the Supreme Court had become a favourite whipping horse for restless people. Those who are by nature and training careful use respectable syntax and vocabulary but others resort to expressions that cannot but damage the standing of the Court. The serious concerns being expressed suggest a deep disappointment with the outcomes of proceedings in the recent times of challenge.

India's 'confusing' energy policy: Is govt putting the cart before the horse?

By NS Venkataraman* India presently imports more than 220 million tonne per annum of crude oil while Indian production of crude oil is only around 30 million tonne per annum. India imports around 35 billion cubic metre of natural gas per annum while Indian production is only around 30 billion cubic metre per annum. The domestic production of crude oil and natural gas is almost stagnant at present, with no feasibility of increasing the production in significant quantities in the foreseeable future.

Religious, rightist puritans rely on 'godly' ideas, nationalism to exercise authority

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The principles and ideological commitments in politics, culture, religion and social practices breed culture of puritanism both in its progressive and regressive forms. The transformation of society to lead an exemplary life is the core in the politics of puritanism as a movement of divinity. Both right wing reactionaries and left-wing radicals use puritanism like applied theology to the concerns of their followers.

Gender wage gap, women in management: India ranks poor among 100 nations

By Rajiv Shah Digital bank N26, based in Berlin, known to be offering services to customers to manage their bank account online and from their smartphone in real-time in Europe and USA, has ranked India 76th among 100 countries it has analysed in order to measure female opportunity and achievement around the world in the light on gender equality in business, government and society.

Pandemic exposed surge in untouchability, caste atrocities: Petition asks UN to 'act now'

Counterview Desk In a fresh move, the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), a coalition of over 1,000 Dalit human rights defenders from different states of India, has called upon the United Nations to “build back better on descent and caste-based discrimination”, claiming, “India's response to the pandemic” has sought to resurrect some of the “worst excesses of its casteist past.”

Amartya Sen and famine: Why Bengalis are ‘uncomfortable’ with the economist

By Bhaskar Sur*  Amartya Sen was the second Bengali to win the Nobel after Rabindranath Tagore and enjoy almost Olympian fame. In his time Keynes certainly was more influential but not more famous. A polymath, Sen made signal contribution to social choice theory and gender equality, but what made him famous was his attempt to understand hunger.

Rahul's predicament: Party leaders 'unable' to differentiate between secularism, Hindutva

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* Selective reporting of Barack Obama's new memoir, “A Promised Land”, has given another handle to the opponents of Rahul Gandhi to mock at him. Most of the time, once an election is passed and if the Congress performs better, media does not speak about him, but if the party fails, they start not only mocking him, seeking to to replace him, or ask other party leaders to rebel against him.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Suspecting witchcraft, relatives set ablaze migrant tribal female worker in Gujarat

NGO Anandi campaign against witchcraft in Dahod  By Our Representative In a gruesome incident, a migrant tribal woman worker has been allegedly set on fire after being suspected of being a witchcraftin Virnagar village, Jasdan taluka, of Rajkot district, Gujarat. The incident took place on November 18, when the three men and a woman tried to kill the victim in front of her husband under the suspicion that she was practising witchcraft.

Victims of Chinese competition, why no tears for Sivakasi fire cracker unit workers?

By NS Venkataraman* Sivakasi and Coimbatore are two regions in Tamil Nadu well known for entrepreneurial skill and initiatives. While Coimbatore focuses on textile and foundry industries, the main focus of Sivakasi region has been in the field of printing and production of fire crarckers and matchsticks. Both the regions have substantial share in the Indian market space for their products.

Wages and aadhaar: 40% NREGA workers face 'biometric validation problem'

Counterview Desk A new report, “Length of the Last Mile Delays and Hurdles in NREGA Wage Payments”, prepared by LibTech India and published by the Azim Premji University, with a foreword by development economist Jean Dreze, one of the brains behind NREGA, has said that aadhaar-based payments and centralisation has meant that workers “have little clue regarding where their wages have been credited and what to do when their payments get rejected.”

Fake secularism? Vajpayee's anti-conversion logic and MP govt's 'love jihad' move

Counterview Desk Harvard-educated policy analyst Mohan Guruswamy, who was finance minister Yashwant Sinha’s adviser in late 1990s, and then perceived as close to then Union home minister LK Advani, in a Facebook post has revealed how the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee wanted “all conversions to be registered by district Collectors or magistrates after application through proper channels.”

Dismiss petition to remove Mathura mosque: IIM-A students write to Allahabad HC CJ

By Our Representative A plea, launched by three Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) students, and signed by 70 persons, most of them part of the “IIM-A community”, has sought Allahabad High Court chief justice Govind Mathur’s intervention to dismiss move before a district court and the High Court seeking the removal a 17th century Shahi Idgah mosque adjacent to the Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura, calling the temple and the mosque symbols of “religious harmony in our country.”

Hanuman Chalisa in mosque? Need to grasp Faisal Khan's 'spirit' of religious amity

By Bobby Ramakant, Kushagra Kumar, Sandeep Pandey* Recently, 48-year-old Faisal Khan, who revived Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgar , and his colleagues Chand Mohammad, Alok Ratan and Nilesh Gupta, were arrested for defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion. They had undertaken the '84 Kos Parikrama' of Braj in Mathura, after which they paid a visit to the Nand Baba Mandir, where they received prasad from the temple. Faisal recited verses from Ramcharitmanas to the priest. Faisal Khan and Chand Mohammad offered namaz within the temple premises on October 29 with due permission from the temple priest.

Patriarchal, misogynist, love jihad emulates Golwalkar's idea of 'pure Hindu race'

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* Love jihad is an insidious, patriarchal, misogynist and anti-Muslim political project of Hindutva forces seeking to undermine liberal, secular and constitutional democratic society in India. The freedom to love and marry in India is part of the right to life and liberty guaranteed by the Indian constitution. It is further fortified by the Special Marriage Act (1954), which upholds the secular character of individual right to love and marry outside one’s own religion and caste.

Indo-Pak shelling leaves trail of destruction in Kashmir villages, witnesses recount horror

By Irfan Yattoo*  It was 11 am on November 13, when Mohammad Sadeeq Koli, a teacher at Government Middle School Chrunda village of Uri in northern Kashmir, was busy with 8th class examination when all of a sudden shelling started at Line of Control (LoC).

Australian diaspora rights group objects to envoy's visit to RSS hq, writes to PM

By Our Representative  The Humanism Project, a human rights and political advocacy organisation of the Indian diaspora based in Australia, has expressed its “dismay, shock and disappointment” at the visit by Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on November 15, 2020.

Right to food? Why India's information commissions 'failed' a poor Delhi widow

Right: Reena   Counterview Desk Reena, a 33 year old widow with two little children, ekes out a living working as domestic help. She lives in Delhi’s Kusumpur Pahari, a slum settlement with extremely poor physical and social infrastructure. Reena applied for a ration card in the Food Department of the Delhi government in September 2018 and in January 2019 she filed a Right to Information (RTI) application regarding the action taken on her request for a ration card.

Trump refusing to 'concede' defeat: Implications for US polity, world, India

By Haider Abbas* US President Donald Trump, who is saddled with every power till January 20, 2021, before what comes as the ‘inauguration-day’, may have lost to Joseph Biden. But Trump, as he had made it clear, would not relinquish power, even when he is finally declared as having lost. The whole episode has implications for US politics, as also for the world, including India.

Nehru had remarkable breadth of vision, unlike 'Gandhians', narrow and scheming

Nehru with Einstein By Bhaskar Sur* In his lifetime Jawaharlal Nehru was a legend. He was a remarkable personality -- a leader, a scholar, an internationalist who set himself to the task of bringing peace and sanity in a world emerging from the savagery of the Second World War and already caught between the ambitions of two superpowers.

Attacked for China policy, Nehru never shied away from 'responsibility' towards Tibet

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* On the 131st birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, which fell on November 14, large number of people paid him rich tributes. However, some notorious IT cell members did their dirty work engaging in character assassination. Their attempt to degrade Nehru, which they have been doing for quite some time, has not succeeded. In fact, Nehru has become more popular and immortal than those who hate him would have thought of.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Hindutva's 'exclusionary politics' in India creating conditions of deprivation trap

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The perils of Indian economy are products of directionless economic policies of the Modi government. It is led by ignorant leadership and arrogance of Hindutva politics based on exclusionary ideology. There is a method madness in the politics of BJP and RSS. It intends to convert multicultural India into a monolithic India based on Hindutva.

E-vehicles 'unlikely to reduce' pollution around India's power generation centres

By Our Representative A top conservation and environment news features service has warned that a large scale shift to electric vehicles (EV) “may not be as environment friendly as it seems”, pointing towards “concerns” over lack of solid plan for “this shift and in absence of a plan for integrating renewables to power.”

Votebank politics behind Tamil Nadu govt inquiry into Anna varsity VC's 'activities'

By NS Venkataraman* It is sad and depressing that the vice chancellor of the Anna University in Tamil Nadu has become a victim of Tamil Nadu politics. Recently, the state government  ordered an inquiry about his activities. Justifiably, several teachers of the Anna University have protested against the state government move to appoint an inquiry committee to investigate “the misdeeds” of the vice chancellor, who has said that he has nothing to conceal. Given his background and track record, one would tend to agree with him.

Children's day? Pandemic exposes faultlines, class divisions 'bravely borne' by kids

By Simi Mehta, Saswati Paik, Arjun Kumar* November 14 marks the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, and is celebrated as the Children’s Day in India. Unfortunately, the inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights, which should translate into dialogues and actions to build a better world for children remains far-fetched.

Varavara Rao's personal liberty: Will Justice Chadrachud's order set a precedent?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The Bombay High Court has rejected the bail of poet and author Varavara Rao, who is incarcerating in Mumbai’s Taloja Central Jail for over two years in the Bhima Koregaon 'conspiracy' case, in which a chargesheet has not yet been filed. Rao is 80 plus and cannot walk without help. He is suffering from various ailments. The court has “directed” the government to get him treated. It seems the government is willing to spend money on his treatment but is not ready to give him bail.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

Favoured criminals, cops creating 'disorder' in UP, Yogi has no clue now to gain control

By Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar* The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has now on numerous occasions claimed that the state has been rid of criminals, who have either been killed in the 125 encounter deaths that have taken place or they have got their bails cancelled and gone back to jails after he took over the reins as CM. 

'Realistic, sensitive': Feminist groups welcome modified NHRC advisory on sex workers

By Our Representative  Welcoming the modified National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) advisory titled “Human Rights Advisory on Rights of Women in the Context of Covid19”, feminist and women’s rights collectives and organizations have lauded NHRC for “proactively taking on board the diverse and even contradictory view points that emerged in response to the specific sections related to sex workers.”

Kashmiri diaspora group opposes Pak talk of 'reviving' autonomy, 'accepting' LoC

By Our Representative A top Kashmiri diaspora group based in Washington, DC, has opposed the main theme of a conference organised in Islamabad under the auspices of a Pakistani organization called Indian Atrocities in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) – challenges for restoring “peace and autonomy” of Kashmir, stating it ran against aspirations of the people of J&K.

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Bihar polls: Why Tejashwi Yadav should take Chirag Pawan, Owaisi, Left more seriously

Tejashwi Yadav  By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The Bihar assembly results are out. They have proved that those who tried to influence the polls before or after through their 'exit' strategies had egg on their face. The journalists and experts who claim to be 'grounded' were divided into pro- and anti-factions of Narendra Modi. If over 80% them were giving NDA a chance, the rest of 20% were certain that the Mahagathbandhan would take over.

Anti-minority thrust? Gujarat govt 'refuses' to observe National Education Day

By Our Representative Gujarat’s civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), has regretted that the state government has refused to observe November 11 as the National Education Day, celebrated every year in the memory of India’s first education minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s contribution in the field of education.

Supreme Court CJ 'ignored' Reliance Jio as better tech platform for virtual hearing

SCBA president Dushyant Dave, Supreme Court chief justice SA Bobde  By Our Representative Did Supreme Court chief justice SA Bobde ignore a suggestion to allow Reliance Jio as “better platform” for virtual hearings during the pandemic? It would seem so, if the controversial letter , authored by Dushyant Dave, president, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), to the apex court secretary-general protesting against what he calls “extraordinary urgency” in listing the special leave petition filed on behalf of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami is any guide.

Harris can honour her roots by opposing Hindu 'nationalism': Diaspora rights group

By Our Representative USA’s Indian diaspora group, Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), even as celebrating the victory of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris vice-president, has said that the best way Harris can “honour her Indian and Hindu roots would be to oppose Hindu nationalism and promote policies and positions which favour human rights in India.”

Repeat of Hathras, Butana? No FIR a month after 'rape, murder' in Delhi locality

Family members of the victim By Sonam Kumari* It is outrageous that the local police at Model Town Police Station have still not filed an FIR, though more than a month has passed after a young girl, aged 17, from the Nishad community was allegedly raped and murdered at the residence of her employer in Gurmandi, Delhi. Her body was was discovered on 4 October.

Why rise of Biden is not good news for Modi, who 'overtly' sided with Donald Trump

Modi with Biden, September 30, 2014, Washington DC  By Haider Abbas* The results of US November 3 elections 2020 have been declared, after around five days, as there were clear signs of Democrat Joseph Biden taking an unassailable lead over Republican US president Donald Trump, which is nothing short of a ‘landslide’ as Trump had already put that if he would loose he would not accept defeat. Trump is now set to be sharpening his legal battery to contest the rigging, fraud and manipulation of the elections in US Supreme Court.

Father Valles, who made Ahmedabad his home, passes away in Spain at 95

By Our Representative Father Carlos Valles, SJ, who came to India in 1949 and made Gujarat his home, passed away on November 9 morning in Madrid, Spain. Born in Logrono on November 4, 1925, Fr Valles, wrote over 78 books containing his essays dealing with life and how to live it, including 14 in Gujarati, including “Sadachar”, “Vyakti Ghadtar”, “Lagnasagar”, “Gandhiji ne Navi Pedhi”, “Parvotsav”, “Murli”, “Atmkathana Tukda” and “Shabdlok”.

Supreme Court 'diluting' anti-atrocities Act: Dalit rights groups protest judgment

Counterview Desk Dalit rights organizations – the National Dalit Movement for Justice-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NDMJ-NCDHR) and the National Coalition for Strengthening Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Castes (STs) Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act Act – taking strong exception to the recent Supreme Court judgment on October 5 that all insults or intimidations to persons belonging to Dalits or Adivasis are not offences under PoA Act, has said that the order will weaken “the roots of fight against untouchability”.

Involve Dalit rights NGOs for implementing anti-atrocities Act: Petition for PM, CMs

Counterview Desk The civil rights organization, Dalit Human Rights Defenders (DHRDNet), along with its social media partner Public Bolti, in an online petition on the implementation of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amended Act, 2015 and its Rules, 2016, has has asked a select group of MPs and MLAs, to ask the Prime Minister and chief ministers of their states to focus urgently on caste-based violence and crimes amidst Covid 19 lockdown.

Sacred freedom, enunciated by Gandhi, Tilak being curtailed for 'arbitrary' reasons

By Prem Verma* Today we are living in dark – the Age of Darkness. Under the present regime no one is able to predict what will happen tomorrow. Which draconian law will get “passed”, who next will be arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), what new “lies” will be told to the citizens, etc. etc. This is the rule of Hindutva homogeneity under the garb of national unity.

Pump and dump strategy? Erosion of GSFC's Rs 250 crore investment in Canadian firm

A Karnalyte site in 2013  By AK Luke (IAS (retd) Having earlier worked there in 2003-06, I became aware of the Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemicals’ (GSFC's) Canadian investment through a chance conversation with two of its employees some time in 2012 and its follow up information (click here ).

Importance of being a Jacinda Ardern for India and other developing countries

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The world needs new ideas and not rigidities of ideas. It needs pragmatic leaders and not opportunists. Pragmatism should not be considered as opportunism or vice versa. Also important to understand is, we live in a complex world. Resolution to problems facing societies will come through participatory polity and inclusion.

Dalit, Adivasi protest in Jharkhand against 'illegal' transfer of land for development

By Rishit Neogi Displacement and eviction are not new terms. It is surprising that they are still continuing and have become a tool in the hands of state backed corporates to forcibly occupy lands in the name of development.

US Kashmiri diaspora group protests NIA raids on NGOs, business in J&K, elsewhere

Parveen Ahangar  By Our Representative The Washington DC-based Kashmiri diaspora non-profit, the World Kashmir Awareness Forum ( WKAF ),taking strong exception to raids carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on business offices of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), has qualified them as “Orwellian dragnet” on civil society, human rights organizations and and their associates. It said, “NGOs targeted by recent raids include the J&K Yateem (orphan) Foundation, the Salvation Movement, Human Welfare Foundation, J&K Voice of Victims, Falah-e-Aaam Trust, the humanitarian outfit Athroot, and Delhi- based Charity Alliance. In addition, the NIA has searched the offices of Agence France-Presse and the Greater Kashmir Trust for ‘incriminating documents’.” Khurram Parvez The activists who have become “victims” of such raids, it says in a statement, include Khurram Parvez (coordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society), Parvee

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

USA's constitutional capitalism 'is based on' marginalisation, exploitation, inequalities

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The political turmoil in American presidential election reflects the limits of capitalist constitution and crisis of market democracy in United States of America. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden represent different versions of American capitalism. The imperialist foreign policy and domestic security states are twin pillars of American governance system. These twin pillars are going to stay whoever wins this presidential election. It will neither benefit the American society nor conducive for the world.

Trump Jr's map showed India in blue, anti-Republican. Why are Modi men mum?

Map released by Donald Trump Jr on Nov 3, election day By Haider Abbas* These may be dying moments of US elections, as ‘war of attrition’ between US president Donald Trump and Joseph Biden is turning out to be, as predicted, a nail biter, with Trump having declared that the ‘transfer of power’ would not be smooth, if he loses. But recent Trump moves suggest what would be the Republican policy towards India in the coming future.