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Showing posts from November, 2020

A 'fighter' for the cause of environment, preservation of water bodies in Hyderabad

By Sandeep Pandey, Venkatesh Narayanan, Kushagra Kumar* Dr Lubna Sarwath is a fighter. In a survey conducted by the leading South Indian daily Deccan Chronicle the residents of Hyderabad have highlighted conservation of environment as a priority issue on which they would like their Mayor to focus on and Lubna has dedicated her life to the cause of environment, specifically preservation of water bodies, and that is why she has emerged as the most suitable choice for the Mayor of the city in this survey.

US publication blames Gates Foundation for 'accelerating' India's healthcare crisis

By Rajiv Shah A new book, published by the New York-based Monthly Press Review (MPR), has blamed Microsoft founder Bill Gates for “crowning” the crisis allegedly engulfing India’s health sector, stating, the top American billionaire’s foundation of late has acquired “extraordinary influence" over India’s public health governance,  giving a fillip to a policy that deprives access of public healthcare facilities for majority of the country’s population.

Braving odds, 18 year old authors his first book in Kupwara district's far off village

By Basharat Rashid* For last few years, the young writers in Kashmir valley have been showing exhilarating passion in publishing their books on different aspects in nook and corner here. Most of the writers have been writing novels and poetry with particularly focus on the youth empowerment, social evils, conflict,  nature and women empowerment. 

Modi govt follows Nazi strategy? 'Labour division' between Hindutva, corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* History is about forgetting and remembering within different waves of time. If a society fails to view its present in the mirror of history, that society condemned itself to the dustbin of future. The Indian society is in such a dangerous crossroad. The ideology of Hindutva led by RSS, politics of BJP and policies of Modi government threaten the lives, livelihood of Indians and weakens India and Indian democracy. The failure of Modi-led BJP government is written in all fronts of governance from home fronts to foreign policies.

Panicky lockdown migration: Jobs reservation move for locals is 'eroding' citizenship right

By Prof Amitabh Kundu, PC Mohanan* The problems of non-materialization of full citizenship rights exist not only for persons arriving from other countries but also for those who have moved from one state to another within the country. These problems arise in forms and contexts different from those of the international migrants.

Vibrant Bangladesh despite Covid-19? How NGOs 'contributed' to rural development

By Prof Utpal De, Dr Simi Mehta* The Covid-19 pandemic has struck a huge blow to the economic growth and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost every country in the world. However, we see some resilience in the performance of the Bangladesh economy. Per the recent report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh’s per capita GDP would marginally overtake that of India in the 2020-21 financial year.

Police crackdown: When will farmers' unions 'entertain' landless workers' issues, too?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The police brutality on farmers protesting against the three farm bills passed by Parliament needs to be unconditionally condemned. The farmers are agitating against the bills since these were passed without proper discussion in Parliament. The fear is that these bills will pave the way for corporatisation of agriculture and will leave farmers and other sections of dependent on the farming community, especially agricultural workers, at the mercy of corporate houses.

'Smashed' by Covid, India second most dangerous country for working journalists

By Nava Thakuria* Largely smashed by the Covid-19 pandemic the mainstream Indian media has witnessed an alarming number of incidents relating to journalists’ killings this year. As the year approaches the end, India turns out to be an unsafe country for professional journalists after Mexico only. The billion plus nation braces news about journo-murders relentlessly in the second half of 2020.

Weaving diverse skills, barefoot chronicler documents India's 'endangered' crafts

By Moin Qazi* When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. -- John Ruskin We’ve all heard of endangered species and forests -- now imagine crafts are at risk of going extinct. A rising number of indigenous crafts are now in danger of becoming endangered on account of their time-consuming nature and fewer craftspeople possessing these specialized skills. Times are changing and not all young people want to take over their parents’ old jobs, nor is it easy to attract new people to enter these trades.

China, B'desh, Pak 'better places' to live than India during Covid? Bloomberg thinks so

By Rajiv Shah Bloomberg, a well-known financial, software, data and media company headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, has said that India’s GDP for 2020 would slip to –10.3%, in comparison to three of its immediate neighbours, China 1.9%, Pakistan –0.4, and Bangladesh 3.8%. The GDP comparison comes in a Bloomberg report of 53 countries in its Covid Resilience Ranking.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Odisha women earn earn 'thrice less than men': Campaign against gender violence

By Our Representative In an campaign organised by several women’s collectives and civil society, as many as 20,000 activists participated in a mass pledge taken across Odisha “help end gender based violence in the society”. The mass pledge was organised by the women’s collective Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Atmashakti Trust.

When 'angry' RSS put faith in Manusmriti instead of Ambedkar's Constitution

Dr BR Ambedkar  By Shamsul Islam*  The Constituent Assembly (CA) of India passed the Constitution on November 26, 1949 after almost three years' deliberations. It was an amazing contribution in the history of the modern liberal democracies as it was not only the lengthiest constitution in the world history (underlining the fact that the polity it was to govern was diverse and vast) but also created a polity based on egalitarian, democratic and non-sectarian ideals never attempted in the past in non-western world.

Sangh Parivar's Love Jihad campaign also 'pitted against' inter-caste marriages

A Sangh Parivar campaign in UP against Love Jihad  By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The Love Jihad rhetoric is back in action in almost all the BJP-ruled states. They appear to be competing with each other in proclaiming to come up with a law to stop the ‘conspiracy’ to convert Hindu girls into Islam in the guise of ‘love’. The fact is, as a political party, BJP has been very active in creating issues and narratives which are woven around Muslim conspiracy theories. It suits to its political interests.

We are thinking of a law 'against love, for hate': What kind of nation are we creating?

By Shreshth Virmani* Each year, India observes communal harmony week from November 19 to 25. This was started in 1992 by the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) , an autonomous body under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The aim of the week is to promote fraternity, maintain peace and communal harmony, and to run a fundraising campaign for children affected by violence.

New Govt of India policy seeks to 'centralise, commercialise, communalise' education

Counterview Desk The civil rights network, All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), which is to observe Constitution Day on November 26 as Reclaiming Social Justice Day, has decided to hold a large number of programmes to oppose the “dilution of Constitutional framework of social justice and equality" by the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, accusing the “right-wing Brahmanical/ Hindutva and patriarchal forces” of seeking to “destroy the Constitutional guarantees of equality, social justice and measures for affirmative action like reservations and other welfare measures.”

Those elected, took oath to safeguard statute book guilty of 'violating' Constitution

Prime Minister Narendra Modi bowing before Dr Ambedkar  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Medha Patkar is a woman of indomitable spirit. She is a person who has sacrificed a career in order to spend her life, accompanying the Adivasis and other vulnerable and excluded groups, particularly those who have been displaced by mega-projects. On Monday November 23, addressing a webinar, Celebrating the Constitution of India, she was at her fiery best.

Central Vista: Activists protest 'continued misuse' of environment clearance norms

Counterview Desk Protesting against “repeated misuse” of procedures of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification, 2006, while clearing New Delhi’s Central Vista Redevelopment Project, and “failure” of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC)-Infra 2 to carry out mandatory detailed project scrutiny, citing agenda item No 56.3.14 (click here ), India’s environmentalists have said that not only was the “iconic” Parliament building delinked from the need for detailed examination, a similar approach is now been proposed for the rest of the Central Vista project.

Lone ranger, Dalit 'icon' Mayawati slips into oblivion, as Chandashekhar Azad steps in

By Darshan Desai*  BSP in 2002: Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar, Inko maaro jutey chaar BSP in 2007: Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar, Inko pujo barambaar Once a Dalit icon and a tough ruler, who could get away with major success with both these diametrically opposite caste slogans in Uttar Pradesh, the inimitable Mayawati is today scrounging for every inch of space for existence. And getting lonelier.

Covid-19 and oppressive gender relations: Self-help groups as 'instruments of change'

By Moin Qazi* The Covid-19 pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportion and has convulsed societies like never before .Yet some sectors have proved resilient even in these challenging times. The sturdiest among these is the self help group movement in India.

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.”