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Showing posts from December, 2020

Concern over fall in penetration in world's 'largest' contact tracing app Aarogya Setu

By Arjun Kumar, Prerna Mukharya, Rohit Mehta, Ritika Gupta, Anshula Mehta* The coronavirus pandemic has prevailed globally for close to a year, with India living in the throes of the crisis since March. To trace, isolate and treat cases of infection, the Aarogya Setu app was developed, and launched on April 2, 2020, by the National Informatics Centre at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.

Farewell to 'terrible' 2020: 15 journalists murdered, 50 died of Covid in India

By Nava Thakuria* Indian media fraternity sets to bid farewell to the Covid-19 pandemic year 2020 with the horrible statistics of journo-killings with some dangerous countries for working journalists in the world. The largest democracy in the globe witnessed killings of 15 scribes till the last week of December and the populous country also lost over 50 working journalists to novel coronavirus infection aggravated ailments.

New Central info commissioner Mahurkar hadn't even applied for post: RTI NGO

Counterview Desk A Delhi-based Right to Information (RTI) NGO, Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), has taken strong exception to the appointment of Uday Mahurkar as an information commissioner in the Central Information Commission (CIC), stating, while the search committee had shortlisted seven persons for six posts in CIC out of 355 applications it had received in response to an advertisement, Mahurkar had not even applied for the post.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

Mumbai's anti-CAA activists 'backing' JNU student-victims hope: Cases will be dropped

By Our Representative As many as 29 activists, lawyers, students, artists, academicians and civilians appeared before the Esplanade court in Mumbai after being summoned in connection with an FIR filed by Colaba Police station under sections 143, 149 IPC and 37(3), 135 of the Mumbai Police Act for the protest at the Gateway of India in January earlier this year.

Why similar development projects take off in Kerala, but are 'failure' in Tamil Nadu

By NS Venkataraman* Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate the much-discussed natural gas pipeline between Kerala and Karnataka on January 5,2021. The story of this gas pipeline is a case study that can enable one to learn and unlearn about the government machinery deals with cause and effect of environmental activism.

Politics of 'hate, division, bigotry': 104 ex-babus ask UP CM to withdraw love jihad law

Counterview Desk In an open letter, as many as 104 former civil servants have asked Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to withdraw the ordinance on interfaith marriage, insisting, “The anti-conversion ordinance of your state is being used as a stick to victimise, especially those Indian men who are Muslim and women who dare to exercise their freedom of choice.”

Dalit leader remains in jail as government, court 'wilfully' disrespect previous judgments

By By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar* Writer, poet, artist, perennial protestor and Dalit leader Sudhir Dhawale, arrested and jailed in mid-2018, remains incarcerated under charges of the controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and assorted Indian Penal Codes. He has been accused of instigating violence at Bhima Koregaon event on January 1, 2018.

Reminiscing RTI activist whose murder signalled new authoritarian wave in Odisha

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Reminiscing the outrageous murder of Right to Information (RTI) activist Ranjan Kumar Das a year ago without doubt signaled new wave of authoritarian onslaught on democratic movements in Odisha. It suggested how the Odisha government failed to protect the lives of RTI activists. Ranjan was murdered near his village Beruan in the Kendrapara district of Odisha on 31st January 2020. Indeed, like his friends, family, fellow RTI activists and acquittances, I am yet to recover from this shocking news. 

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Ram Guha must know: Sonia, Rahul leaving space 'won't help' secularism, democracy

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* When the focus of the country's intellectuals, activists and journalists should be on the immediate challenge before us, particularly on issues of agrarian sector and farming communities protesting against the three farm bills, 'liberals' and 'seculars' seems to be more obsessed with the Gandhi family. The fulmination of Ramchandra Guha against the Gandhi family will neither help secularism nor democracy. At best, it will help BJP and Hindutva, whom Guha claims to despise so much.

Modi’s ‘thaali bajao’ proved to be clever smokescreen to hide ASHA workers’ plight

By Kishan Kashyap, Shubham Agarwal, Vaishak P*  The Government of India appears to be exceptionally good at two things – public relations and image management. On March 22, 2020, people gathered in their balconies and outside their houses across the country for the “thaali bajao”, a utensil banging even whose call was given by the Prime Minister in support of frontline workers. In his address, Narendra Modi called it a show of appreciation for “boosting” the morale of corona warriors.

Thanks to MSP, a 'dysfunctional' system, Punjab farmers are richest in country

By Mohan Guruswamy* The monthlong agitation by well provisioned and organised and mostly Jat farmers from Punjab and Haryana has gripped the attention of the nation. It is in many ways reminiscent of the agitation at Maruti’s Gurgaon plant where the permanent workers get among the highest wages paid to industrial workers in the country.

Incarceration of Prof Saibaba 'revives' the question: What is crime, who is criminal?

By Kunal Pant* In 2016, a Supreme Court Judge asked the state of Maharashtra, “Do you want to extract a pound of flesh?” The statement was directed against the state for contesting the bail plea of Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba. Saibaba was arrested in 2014, a justification for which was to prevent him from committing what the police called “anti-national activities.”

Protests 'alter' poll behaviour, shift fringe voters' attitude, organize disconnected ones

By Kashif Khan* Farmers and workers in India last month initiated a general strike that saw the participation of over 250 million people. Many have touted this as the biggest organized strike ever witnessed in human history. On November 26, millions of farmers and workers along with students, social organizations and opposition participated in "Bharat Bandh" against the Narendra Modi's contentious pro-corporate farm bills.

In case of corporate 'abuse' would Govt of India bail out Covid-19 vaccine makers?

By Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Should a government come up with laws to protect a corporation against liability lawsuits, or should it come up with laws to regulate corporations and empower citizens so that corporations can be held to account for any kind of abuses or exploitation?

Food security? Gujarat govt puts more than 5 lakh ration cards in the 'silent' category

By Pankti Jog* A new statistical report uploaded by the Gujarat government on the national food security portal shows that ensuring food security for the marginalized community is still not a priority of the state. The statistical report, uploaded on December 24, highlights many weaknesses in implementing the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in state.

Pandemic: India can learn from Brazil, where bottom 20% 'received' a higher income

By Arjun Kumar* The labour market has severely felt the brunt of the pandemic. While every nation has shared in the impact, responses to overcome the struggle have been varied. Elucidating on the state of employment in Brazil, Dr Ian Prates, researcher, Brazilian Centre of Analysis and Planning remarked, “The effect of pandemic on the labour market became a major reason for the impact on the lives of the people. 80% of the drop in per capita household income is the result of the drop in labour income.”

A top peace activist, Modi govt 'equated' Navlakha with terrorist Hafiz Sayeed

By Priyanka Preet, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar* Gautam Navlakha is a famed author, civil rights activists, human rights activist, journalist, an Editorial Consultant at the “Economic and Political Weekly”, probably the most internationally well known social sciences journal published out of India, the convenor of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir and the Secretary of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights.

Gadling in jail. Reason? As lawyer-activist he has been 'unpleasant' to India's topcops

By Nilkantha Mandal, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar* Surendra Gadling, now in jail in the Bhima-Koregoan violence case, is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur. He is known for taking up cases of extra-judicial killings, police excesses and atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts of Maharashtra. 

Kashmir youth 'deprived' of rich heritage: Rajatarangini, Sufism, Lal Deb, Buddhism

By Abhishek Daimari* Unlike the 1980s, the youth of Kashmir today reflect the Arab Spring movement where social media communication and reach take the forefront. This new generation uses these platforms to increase the movement's reach and organize their mobilizations. Stone-pelting has become much more prevalent than when the valley was sprawling with youths carrying guns.

Manufacturing, services: India's low-skill, middle-skill labour remains underemployed

By Francis Kuriakose* The Indian economy was in a state of deceleration well before Covid-19 made its impact in early 2020. This can be inferred from the declining trends of four important macroeconomic variables that indicate the health of the economy in the last quarter of 2019.

Recession not due to Covid-19; India 'had it' as early as January 2020: Prof Manoj Pant

By Dr Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta, Anshula Mehta* Covid-19 has impacted all our lives and livelihoods as restrictions have been imposed on mobility and movement to check the spread of the virus. International trade is one of the activities which has been deeply affected, especially for those countries that are deeply dependent on imported goods and services.

Why even if Dalit becomes Prime Minister, untouchability in India will not end

Former IPS officer Darapuri  By Siddharth Modi* The caste system in India is the oldest surviving social hierarchy. India is as much a caste-based country as it is an agriculture-based country. The whole societal structure is based on castes and class – dating back to the four varnas system, i.e. the Brahmins (priests), the Kshatriyas (soldiers), the Vaisyas (traders) and the Shudras (labourers). A fifth category that falls outside the varna system is that of the untouchables or the Dalits.

Jesus a crusader who laid his life for the liberation of humanity from tyranny

By Harsh Thakor The real Jesus Christ and what is professed today by the Church or Christianity at large today is like chalk and cheese. Today we celebrate Christmas, but we forget to give the day true respect. The Christian community immortalizes Jesus Christ for performing miracles like turning wine into water or resurrecting from the grave.

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Fantasy of free Tibet and truth of being refugee in India, as seen by Tenzin Tsundue

By Sounak Bhadra* Tenzin Tsundue, a 42-year-old Tibetan artist, essayist and Rangzen (freedom) activist, first grabbed the eye of the worldwide media in 2002 for enrolling a surprising type of dissent against the Chinese control of Tibet. During Chinese leader Zhu Rongji's visit to Mumbai, Tsundue climbed the platform outside the lodging at which Rongji was staying and spread out a 20-foot pennant that read "Free Tibet: China, Get Out.”

Policies on love jihad, Ram temple, ghar wapsi, triple talaq 'alienated' minorities in India

By Shiv Dutt Barhat* Every country, has its share of minorities, whether linguistic, cultural or ethnic. For nearly all the countries, maintaining and securing their interests is a problem. And, for the biggest democracy in the world with largest spectrum of diversity it becomes a far more complex.

J&K, Muslims: Human rights violations in India 'downplayed' in Australian report

By Our Representative In a surprise move, Amnesty International, which shut down its India branch after a recent move by the Enforcement Directorate to freeze the organisation’s accounts charging it with “violation” of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and alleging money laundering, has sharply criticised the Australian government for “dangerously” downplaying human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in a recent report.

Farmers, workers 'left' at the mercy of market, corporates: Call for solidarity action

Counterview Desk In a call to workers organisations for solidarity action in support of the protesting farmers, more than 40 trade unions and labour associations have claimed that the Government of India’s sole aim is to “push big corporate control over all aspects of farming, especially to allow farm produce to be bought by big corporates at low prices”.

Whither nuclear disarmament? India, Pak 'hurting' each other for decades

By Vikas Kumar* In an interview to three of us**, prominent Pakistani physicist and noted peace activist Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar talks of the dynamics of nuclear disarmament between India and Pakistan. Dr Nayyar taught nuclear physics at Quaid-E-Azam University, Islamabad, for 30 years and was a visiting scholar at at the Princeton University. He is well known for voicing for education reforms and military arms control.

Article 370 abrogated in order to 'allow' corporates to buy land from poor Kashmiris

By Akash R Gedam* The discussion on what should happen with Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has always been an interesting one, with no feasible, sustainable solution that can ensure peace in the valley on the table. While as an Indian, one might think of the J&K for its strategic location benefits for the military purpose, and the utter pride to say that such beautiful heaven is present in my country.

How Modi's agricultural laws ‘denigrate’ Bardoli satyagraha led by Sardar Patel

By Shamsul Islam* The Indian farm reforms laws of 2020 were rushed through Parliament on September 27, 2020. The BJP-led NDA government was in a hurry to impose these laws – these were promulgated by the President of India as ordinances on June 5, 2020 as part Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign), a favourite aphorism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for imposing a series of measures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blast from past: BJP 'followed' Congress to corporatise, destroy rural economy

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*   In 1991, when I was 12 years old and in 8th class in my village high school, the Government of India led by the Congress Party launched new economic reform programmes. I vividly remember reading local newspapers, which carried news on the reduction of agricultural subsidies on seeds, fertilisers, electricity and irrigation. It also started dismantling the universal approach to food security and public distribution system in India. 

What locus standi Modi has to lay foundation stone of Parliament?, ask ex-civil servants

Counterview Desk The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a group of retired officers All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought comprehensive review the Central Vista project, insisting, the Government of India must engage in dialogue with citizens before implementing the high profile project.

As 95,000 trolleys line up on Delhi border, pro-farmer groups launch newsletter

Counterview Desk Supporters of farmers’ protest have begun publishing “Trolley Times”, a newsletter in Punjabi, Hindi and English . Not the official mouthpiece of the Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, or the Farmers’ Coordination Committee, the non-political body which is leading the struggle around Delhi, The “Trolley Times” is being brought out by writers, artists, activists in support of the Morcha.

Why Indo-Pak relations have been on 'knife’s edge' , hostilities may remain for long

By Utkarsh Bajpai*  The past few decades have seen strides being made in all aspects of life – from sticks and stones to weaponry. The extreme case of this phenomenon has been nuclear weapons. The menace caused by nuclear weapons in the past is unforgettable. Images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from 1945 come to mind, after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities.

Steering woman-dominated farm company amidst uncertain, volatile environment

By Vanita Pise* I am co-founder of the Mann Deshi Farmer Producer Company (MDFPC) which aims to organize 12,000 small and marginal farmers (70% will be women) to secure better prices for their farm produce. It was founded by Chetna Gala Sinha, the well-known social entrepreneur is stewarding a rural revolution in western Maharashtra. The epicenter of this movement is Mhaswad, a large village that nestles in Satara district, on the placid banks of Manganga River, some 300 km south-east of Mumbai.

Street vendors 'devoid' of rights in a country run by one who claims to be chaiwala

By Shreshth Virmani* Sudhirbhai (name changed) is a tea vendor in Ahmedabad and since the time first curfew was imposed he has been struggling to survive. Now when the country has opened up, his earnings are nowhere near the pre-lockdown levels. Earlier he used to make about Rs 500 on daily basis but now it is less than Rs 200. People like Sudhirbhai are still struggling to meet their ends.

Civil rights leader explains how authorities in Bihar seek to 'undermine' MGNREGA

By Fareed Mohammad Ansari* The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been a politically controversial scheme ever since its inception in 2006. Some politicians have referred to fit as a means for menial jobs for poor, while others claim it as a symbol of the erstwhile UPA government’s failure. But the fact is, it is the only employment scheme that directly benefits the unemployed poor and downtrodden in the rural areas.

When Hitler amended law of inheritance, 'restricted' property rights for farmers

By Battini Rao* For nearly a month thousands of farmers are protesting at the Delhi border along with their wives and children in the coldest winters of Delhi against the anti- farmer laws and the electricity bill enacted by the BJP central government.

Twin messages of farmers' struggle: Uphold federalism, revamp economic 'model'

By Dr Gian Singh* The farmers’ struggle that started in Punjab, and has now spread across the country, is unique in many respects. There are few examples of such democratic and peaceful farmers’ struggles in the world. It has has attracted the attention of various sections of society and gained their sympathy and participation. It has turned into a people's struggle.

Hindus 'helped set up' minority school in Gujarat: Philanthropist Dr AR Nakadar

By Mahesh Trivedi   Dr AR Nakadar, the Gujarat-born United States-based cardiologist who founded Dr Nakadar Institute of Knowledge (DrNIK), in 2004, is happy to see spectacular progress made by the school. He has helped and guided communities in building hospitals, schools, and other social institutions in the USA and India.

A 'communal harmony' school in PM's home state: Will Hindu, Muslim fanatics learn?

Philanthropist Dr Abdul Rehman Nakadar with school kids By Mahesh Trivedi* There are countless Muslim-owned schools in Gujarat, infamous for the violent Hindu-Muslim clashes in 2002, but those offering higher secondary education are few and far between. But little-known Dr Nakadar Institute of Knowledge (DrNIK) situated in a small village stands out among them not only for its high standard of education but also for promoting communal harmony and many other unique special features.

UP govt 'resurrects' venom of curbing Love Jihad from buried casket with vengeance

Akash Singrodia* Are you an adult and thinking of getting married? Do you believe you have the freedom to marry the partner of your choice, even if he/she is from a different caste? If you think the answer to this question is ‘Yes’ on the premise of the fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution, then your beliefs are soon going to be shattered.

Police 'fail to see' caste-based crime in murder of a Dalit of UP's Mushahar community

Banarasi's wife and son  By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* On May 24 morning, when villagers were went to the field to defecate in the open, they were shocked to see two bodies on the road. It was a brutal murder. The head of the one of them was severed from the body. The other man was lying unconscious on the other side of the road. There were some hockey sticks lying on the ground.

Farmers' protest: 'Solidarity' wall slogans appear in different parts of Ahmedabad

By Our Representative  Even though Gujarat farmers may not have gone in for massive protests against the three farm laws passed by Parliament, there has been some sporadic movement in the state despite clampdown by the police, including detention and house arrest of those trying to “escape” to North India to join the huge protestation taking shape around Delhi. The clampdown appears to have led to dissenting voices resorting to different ways of protest, including going in for social media campaign to express their solidarity. Some of the farmers’ supporters have quietly painted walls in different parts of Ahmedabad. Social worker Hofeza Ujjaini in a WhatsApp alert to Counterview says, slogans on walls have appeared in about half-a-dozen areas of Ahmedabad, including several spots around the Gujarat University, Gujarat College, Lal Darwaja and the District Panchayat office. Insisting that these are all “anonymous”, he has sent some of the across photographs.

Recalling secular-egalitarian ideology of Kakori martyrs amidst Hindutva 'onslaught'

By Shamsul Islam* On August 9, 1925 a group of Indian revolutionaries affiliated to the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) which included Chandrashekhar Azad, Ashfaqullah Khan, Ram Prasad Bismil, Rajender Lahiri, Roshan Singh, Manmath Nath Gupta and others waylaid the British Government treasury loaded on a passenger train at Kakori railway station (approximately 20 kilometers from Lucknow) and captured the same.

Rights group to query Gujarat MLAs on what they have been doing for minority welfare

By Our Representative A minority rights group, accusing the Gujarat government’s “discriminatory” attitude towards the community in the state, has decided to issue a report card of each of the state’s MLAs on their attitude towards minorities. Announcing this, Mujahid Nafees, convenor, the Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), said, his organisation has put forward a list of 10 demands for the state legislators to take up and elicit their views on each of them.