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Showing posts from January, 2021

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

India's GHG emission may 'soon' become second largest in world: CJI told to intervene

Counterview Desk  Shankar Sharma, a senior power and climate analyst based in Karnataka, in a letter emailed to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, even as expressing concern over “climate emergency” looming large over India, has said that there is a “massive societal concerns over the pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil in the country.”

Academics, activists, lawyers condemn 'misuse' of anti-terror law against farmers

By Our Representative  Gathered at the Press Club of India in Delhi, several senior academics, activists and lawyers, condemning the Government of India’s alleged attempt to criminalize and break a “legitimate” farmers’ protest, have regretted that following the violence on January 26, the government has “activated the criminal justice machinery to lodge FIRs” against farmer leaders under a range of criminal laws, including the anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Land rights, wildlife, environment: Assam solar power plant has 'wider' implications

Solar power plant under construction in Nagaon district By Our Representative  An environmental activists’ fact-finding team led by Prafulla Samantara, recipient of Goldman Prize, also known as Green Nobel, has alleged that the process of acquiring the land in for a 15 MW solar power plant in Assam is mired in several “illegalities and violations of policies, laws and regulations” from the nature of land appropriation, to dispossession of people.

Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam*  As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 

Non-BJP-ruled states 'outperform' BJP states in justice delivery: Tata Trusts report

By Our Representative The second edition of the India Justice Report (IJR), a study undertaken jointly by Tata Trusts in collaboration with several advocacy groups, has said that five non-BJP-ruled states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala – are the top performers compared those ruled by BJP, including “model” Gujarat, which ranks No 6th in a ranking of 18 large states for the delivery of justice to people.

A World Economic Forum 'reset' agenda: Profit at the cost of human lives, health?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  As the mutilating power of Coronavirus strikes on lives and livelihoods and create havocs across the globe, the Davos priests of the World Economic Forum have started the Great Reset Initiative  to manage the consequences of the pandemic. It rightly recognises the urgent need for global cooperation to end the uncertainties and disruptions caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Govt of India 'failing' to realise: Farmers' protests have spread to all parts of country

By Prem Verma*  Farmers had a very successful tractor rally on January 26 in Delhi. The attempt to malign their non-violent effort through the Red Fort violent incident is a standard tactic the Government uses through their supporters masquerading as farmers. What the government fails to realize that the farmers’ protest has now spread to all parts of the country and more and more people are supporting the farmers.

Farmer leaders should have known: RSS-BJP have 'used' contradictions to suit their end

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The tractor rally on the Republic Day in Delhi allegedly turned violent at several places as the protesters clashed with the police and tried to remove the barricades. But these incidents could be termed as stray, given the nature of it things, which could have gone out of control. Of course, the attempt to run through a tractor trolley in and around ITO and then hoisting the flag at the Red Fort could have been avoided. But one must remember: Any movement can become victim of an uncaring and irresponsible state.

Global land rights NGO lauds Republic Day tractor parade despite police 'intimidation'

Counterview Desk In a statement, an international civil rights network, People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), has regretted that the new year has “kicked off with intensified repression targeting the rural sector”, citing how this is happening in several countries, including India. With offices in Philippines, Zambia, Bolivia and Jordan, and supporting land rights NGOs across the world, PCSF’s is pitted against “neoliberal globalization on food and agriculture policies.”

Azure Power rejoinder: Necessary permissions taken, purchases are private land deals

Counterview Desk In a rejoinder to the National Alliance Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) claim  published in Counterview (“Assam land rights struggle: Corporate-state nexus behind arrests, violence, says NAPM”, January 21), Azure Power -- criticised for setting aside the farmers' rights under land acquisition laws -- has said that its conduct has been “environmentally-public friendly” and is purchasing land in a “lawful and fair manner.”

Top academic claims he warned farmer leaders of Hindutva plot on Jan 26 morning

By Shamsul Islam* The photographs here show a Hindutva protagonist, Deep Sidhu, with his real masters. He is said to be the culprit who tried to derail the historic farmers' struggle by putting up a religious flag at Red Fort on January 26, with no Delhi police which works under the Indian home minister Amit Shah, a senior RSS cadre who is often described 'Iron Man' by Hindutva camp-followers. 

A Khalistani plot to tarnish Republic Day rally of 20 lakh farmers on 8 lakh tractors?

By Harsh Thakor* A historic peaceful march in the Capital of over 20 lakh peasants riding on eight lakh tractors is being foisted as a conspiracy against the nation. The sinister act of hoisting the Sikh flag at the Red Fort was undertaken by a person suspected to be a BJP agent, Deep Sidhu. He allegedly infiltrated the ranks, masquerading as a farmer activist.

Farmers' R-Day rally: Was l'affaire Red Fort handiwork of a BJP-sponsored fifth column?

By Shantanu Basu* The Red Fort 'assault' seems to be a premeditated one... Forty unions not part of Sanyukt Kisaan Morcha (SMK) refuse to follow the agreed pathways for the rally and say they would have their own rally. Next a BJP goon, with numerous pics with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah on the Internet, arrives and makes an inflammatory speech at one of the venues, suggesting that farmers had militant links and were acting at the latter's behest.

Cursory interest? Diaspora know little about 'happenings, problems' faced by India

By NS Venkataraman* From time immemorial, people have been migrating from one country to another. When India was ruled by British, thousands of poor Indians were taken to African countries, Caribbean countries, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and other places to work in plantations, construction activities etc.

Kashmiri diaspora group wonders: Will Biden keep 'promise', restore peace on their land?

Counterview Desk Regretting that there is “passivity” of world powers to resolve the Kashmir dispute, a Washington DC based Kashmiri diaspora organisation has wondered if new US President Joseph Biden will “get involved” in resolving allegedly one of the oldest unresolved international problems pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council.

Evading federalism: Centre 'bracketed' farm laws under Union list's Trade and Commerce

Counterview Desk The virtual Kisan Sansad, a civil society initiative held on January 23 and 24, 2021 at the Guru Teg Bahadur Memorial at Singhu, Delhi, has demanded the repeal of the three central farm laws, legalisation of minimum support price (MSP), and condemned the government’s “repression” of the farmer protests.

Acquitted in 12 of 13 cases, why is Assam civil rights leader denied bail?, asks NAPM

Counterview Desk Taking strong exception to the “continued incarceration” of Assam’s top civil rights leader Akhil Gogoi for more than 400 days and denial of bail by the Guwahati High Court, India’s civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said, it is “disquieting” that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a Central agency which is supposed to investigate terror cases, is being used to “bulldoze” democratic and mass peaceful movements and their leadership.

Neglect of small, marginal farmers: Why little space for livestock in India's agri-budgets

By Sanjib Pohit* It seems that that there is a complete breakdown of trust between the Union government and farmers. The multiple rounds of negotiations, offer to negotiate clause by clause of the farms’ bills fail to convince the farmers. As a result, there is no sign that the sit-in by the farmers around Delhi’s border would go up in the near future. It appears to have tuned into a question of ego on both sides.

Netaji tried foreign help to liberate India, Savarkar sought military support for British

By Shamsul Islam* The 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose fell on January 23, 2021. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior RSS cadre who identifies himself as Hindu nationalist was in Kolkata to inaugurate the celebrations given the nomenclature, 'Parakram Diwas' (Valour Day).

Shyama Prasad Mukherjee 'ignored': Why India's rulers try to appropriate Netaji legacy

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose would have been truly proud of India and its military might”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a programme organised to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary, which falls next year, 2022. But then the current regime is 'expert' in political profit and loss. Leaders acquire importance in accordance with their 'public image value'.

Stray cattle to be tied at Yogi's residence: UP farmers' group R-day 'solidarity' move

By Our Representative In a unique protest move, the Socialist Kisan Sabha (SKS), an Uttar Pradesh based farmers’ rights group, has decided has decided that on January 26, 2021, when the farmers will be entering Delhi on tractors, its cadres will show solidarity support by taking stray cattle to chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence to take care of them.

Govt offer on farm laws not in good faith: Diaspora groups submit letter to embassies

London diaspora protest  By Our Representative In a memorandum submitted to Indian embassies, mainly across Europe, several Indian diaspora groups have demanded repeal of the three farm laws, calling them “unjust.” In their statement, they said, the Indian farmers have been protesting since the three laws as these were passed “hurriedly in August 2020 without holding consultations with the farmers’ groups.”

Political game around demand to release Rajiv Gandhi killers: Govt of India in dilemma

By NS Venkataraman* In 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was murdered at Sriperumbudur near Chennai, while he was there to address a public meeting. He was killed by a woman suicide bomber, who belonged to the terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and she was also killed. Along with Rajiv Gandhi, another fourteen innocent persons were killed in the explosion and more than 40 people were injured.

Rise in temperature amidst lockdown means we did activities that 'warmed' atmosphere

By Dr Gurinder Kaur* According to the data released on January 14, 2021 by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the hottest year on record since 1880, with an average temperature rise of 1.00 degree Celsius. With an average temperature rise of 0.98 degree Celsius; 2020 got the second place pushing 2019 to third place.

Govt of India's stimulus package grossly inadequate, can't revive economy: Economist

By Dr Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta* Delivering a Special Lecture organized by Centre for Work and Welfare (CWW) at the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) on Labour, Employment and Pandemic: Policy Suggestions and Way Forward for Budget 2021, Prof Santosh Mehrotra, retired professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), observed that the fiscal stimulus provided by the Government of India (GoI) post-lockdown was severely inadequate. It was only a fraction of what was provided post the 2008 global financial meltdown where the effects on the economy were comparatively mediocre, he maintains.

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

How Sikh community is 'utilising' positive emotions of religion for farmers’ struggle

By Sandeep Pandey, Simran Kaur, Harleen Sandhu* BJP and its ideological parent, RSS, have used religion in manipulating the sentiments of the masses to gain political mileage, strengthening its grassroots presence as well as skyrocketing its electoral mandate. A mosque was demolished a few decades ago to mobilize the Hindu votes in the name of building a temple at the same exact spot.

Failure of land reforms and rise of 'absentee' landlords: Why farmers' agitation is rocking

By NS Venkataraman* From time immemorial, agriculture has always remained as an important and one of the most respected subjects in India. In recent times, it is receiving much more attention and considerable technology inputs and management techniques. This is a welcome development.

One crore secondary school girls may have dropped out during pandemic: Report

By Our Representative In India, nearly 40% girls remain out of school in the age-group of 15-18 years, a new policy brief , prepared by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, an education rights network, has said. The policy brief has been released to mark the International Day of Education and National Girl Child Day, falling on January 24.

Urban MNREGA likely to propel migration from rural areas, 'overburden' city services

By Dr Radhika Pandey* One of the biggest challenges facing India, since even before the pandemic, is the state of unemployment in the country. While the unemployment rate in the country has been gradually increasing since 2017, it came to the attention of the media and the public eye amidst the pandemic when countless migrants lost their jobs and were forced to walk back to their villages.

Water pollution 'failing' to get right attention in India: Social scientists to blame?

By Soumi Roy Chowdhury, Devendra B Gupta, Sanjib Pohit* In India, everybody regards water pollution is an externality, and an outcome of production and/or consumption process with laxity in environmental also standard in the society. There is a general agreement that it affects the society in a multitude of ways. For instance, takes the case of the Ganga basin with an area of around 1,080,000 square km spread across several states of India namely Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal running across a total length of 2,525 kms.

PUCL meet cites NIA notice to farmer protesters, demands repeal of UAPA

By Our Representative Senior activists from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), along with around 100 organisations, which began a three day virtual consultation on human rights issues, have demanded repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act, stating that these laws are being used as a tool to finish democracy and silence dissent.

Letter to Kejriwal: Home delivery of ration in Delhi to 'exacerbate' anxiety, distress

Counterview Desk A letter to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, written “on behalf of” the civil rights organisation Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA)*, has expressed concern regarding the proposed scheme for home delivery of rations,, stating, the 'CM Ghar-Ghar Ration Scheme' is being pushed by the government without any public consultation, disclosure of relevant information, awareness creation and without any piloting of the delivery mechanism.

Assam land rights struggle: Corporate-state nexus behind arrests, violence, says NAPM

Affected villagers Counterview Desk Condemning alleged "police-state atrocities" against Karbi and Adivasi farmers of Mikir Bamuni Grant cluster of villages in Assam for protesting against the "questionable purchase" of their cultivable land in the name of Green Energy, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has sought immediate stop to all "arrests, police persecution and intimidation, violence against women and villagers".

Samples suggest Gujarat lignite mining turns groundwater unfit for agriculture: PSS

Counterview Desk In a letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, and copies to the Gujarat chief secretary, Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority CEO, and senior officials of the state industries and forests and environment department, Gujarat government, top environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), have asserted that the groundwater samples from the Badi-Hoidad mining area suggests water has gone just unfit for drinking as also agricultural use.

Whither investigation? 'Intimidation' of top lawyer Pracha, fighting Delhi riots cases

By Sanjeev Sirohi* The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on December 28, 2020 had expressed shock on arbitrary exercise of brute power by the police against lawyers, including the search conducted at the premises of an advocate representing some of the accused in the North-East Delhi riots cases.

Smart city? Manual scavengers, sweepers, daily wagers evicted in Modi's constituency

Counterview Desk Condemning the demolition of settlements in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), India’s top civil rights network, has said that the loud talk about Smart City stands in sharp contrast to demolition of hundreds of houses in the area around Teliana railway in the city.

Alien to neoliberal Hindutva? Laissez-faire narrative, market, free choice, free individual

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* Hindutva neoliberalism in India is a specific variant of capitalism that enforces economic and political oligarchy in the name of ethnic and majoritarian nationalism. It liberalises market for few to establish dominant corporate monopoly. It does not allow complete free market competition as a distributive mechanism. It allows few crony corporations to control the production processes, coordinate the distribution mechanisms, and determine the nature of demand and supply in Indian economy.

Shadow Cabinet amidst Opposition parties' ideological variations, differing stances?

By Darpan Jain* “We are in an undeclared emergency”, were the words of one of my professors in a session where we talked about one of the darkest periods in India’s democratic history: The 1975 emergency. This was not the first time I heard this, especially during the past few years. For a long time, the Indian populace had been dealing with coalition governments, until Narendra Modi’s BJP ran home with 282 seats and stretched it to 302 in 2019!

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

Amended essential commodities Act 'legally' allows hoarders to charge exorbitant prices

By Dr Simi Mehta* Agriculture being the heart of every civilization, the sector and the lifeline of the sectors -- the farmers -- deserve a much better attention. The new laws formed by the current government have created havoc in the country with farmers marching to the borders of capital city to show their repulsion against the laws.

APMC is to agriculture what government school is to education sector: P Sainath

By Our Representative Calling upon non-farmers to support the farmers’ struggle, who have been protesting along Delhi borders for more than 50 days, Magsaysay Award winning journalist and social activist P Sainath has said that the three laws which the Government of India passed is an infringement of India's federal structure and the Indian Constitution.

Target farmer-worker unity? Arrest of Dalit woman TU activist at Singhu border

Haryana TU activists supporting farmers' protest Counterview Desk Condemning the arrest and alleged custodial sexual violence faced by Nodeep Kaur, a trade union activist, the civil rights network* Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) has demanded her “immediate release” and “strict action against the Haryana Police for targeting workers in the Kundli Industrial Area.”

Something big, in the 'ethos and culture' of fascism: Is that the Central Vista model?

By Tikender Singh Panwar* The protest at Capitol building in Washington DC on January 6 was unequivocally condemned worldwide. Apart from the general feeling which many of us had to this protest/attack, I was also intrigued to know: “How old is the building?” The same building which was targeted by the Trump supporters. This Capitol building was made operational in 1800 after seven years of construction work and continues to stand tall and serve its purpose. So, it is almost 220 years old.

If PM-CARES isn't public authority, why are Indian embassies 'seeking' funds for it?

Counterview Desk In an open letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 100 ex-civil servants, forming part of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), have wondered as to why the Government of India has refused to divulge details of why the PM-CARES Fund cannot be considered considered a Public Authority under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

2020 India's eighth hottest year since 1901: Reason? 'Deforestation, growth model'

By Dr Gurinder Kaur* On January 4, 2021, the Meteorological Department of India(IMD) released a report titled 'The Statement on Climate of India During 2020',which states that 2020 is the eighth hottest year in India since 1901. The country's average temperature has risen by 0.62 degree Celsius. Both the decades of this century, 2001-10 and 2011-20, have been recorded as the hottest decades ever.

Govt employees' pension is inflation indexed, why 'exception' for public bank staff?

By Moin Qazi* Public banks have played a historically stellar role in financial inclusion and the development of the social sector. They have been the backbone of the government’s socio-economic agenda and have made a transformative impact on the country’s development landscape. But sadly, the contribution of their employees has not been adequately recognised.

Delhi activists detained for protesting Madhya Pradesh move to 'track, surveil' women

By Our Representative About 40 women’s rights activists were detained soon after they reached the Madhya Pradesh Bhawan in Delhi to protest against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s proposal for "tracking" and "surveilling" women, purportedly for their safety. Those detained by the Delhi Police included Maimoona Mollah, Shabnam Hashmi, Anjali Bhardwaj, Poonam Kaushik , Deepti Bharti, Ritu Kaushik, Asha Sharma, Madhuri Varshney , Seema Joshi and Amrita Johri.

Unconstitutional? Gujarat information commissioner bars 3 from filing RTI pleas

By Pankti Jog*  In a surprise move, Gujarat’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has superseded the Right to Information (RTI) Act, asking a public authority not to accept any RTI applications from three citizens for five years. CIC, Gujarat, DP Thakar, issued an order at a scheduled hearing regarding complaint filed by Chintanbhai, Bharatiben and Dilhariben, banning them from making RTI applications for seeking information for five years.