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Showing posts from February, 2021

Vendetta politics of govt: Over 600 activists on FIR against Harsh Mander, CES

By Our Representative  More than 600 civil society activists, protesting against the Delhi Police move to file a first information report against bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander and the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) founded by him for alleged financial irregularities, have said, it signifies “decline in Constitutional values and shrinking space for civil society”.

'Bird, take me flying with you too!' Being Devangana Kalita

By Ashley Tellis*  I first met Devangana Kalita in a first year English Honours classroom in which I entered to teach Charles Dickens’ Hard Times in Miranda House, Delhi University, in 2008. She was one of the smartest students in the class – Devangana smiled the most and had the brightest twinkle in her eyes of the girls in the class. A middle class girl – Kalita comes from a family in upper Assam, the Kalitas along with the Brahmins dominate Assam (the Bamon-Kolita nexus as it is called) – in an elite all women’s institution known for a feminist, rebellious history. Like all institutions, it was repressive; like all all-women institutions, particularly so. But Miranda House had met its match in Devangana. She organised, protested, all within the democratic tradition resisted. The seeds of Pinjra Tod, the group Devangana was to eventually co-found, and which now finds her jailed for as absurd a reason as inciting a ‘riot’ were already sown in that first year. By the third year, they

Young Dalit labour leaders were 'mercilessly tortured': PUCL quotes medical report

Counterview Desk  Even as welcoming the bail granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to young Dalit labour rights leader Nodeep Kaur, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), taking note of continued incarceration of her colleague Shiv Kumar, also a Dalit, has demanded charges against them should be immediately dropped. Arrested in January from a Kundli border point, where they were said to be bring workers’ support to the ongoing farmers’ agitation, Ravi Kiran Jain, president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, PUCL, said, both were “brutally tortured.”

Surface irrigation won't improve 'dramatic' groundwater depletion in North India

By BN Navalawala*  Thousands of years old, our vedic scriptures such as Vedas, Upvedas and Purans make special mention, extensively and frequently, about water as one of the five basic elements (पंच तत्त्व) vital for the living world (सजीव सृष्टि), while stating that 'जल ही जीवनम \’.Water is the most essential resource now for major economic and societal headway anywhere in the world.

IMPRI survey: 72% Bihar casual workers reported they were jobless during pandemic

By Our Representative  High levels of female poverty, low female literacy and work participation rates, and high maternal and child mortality, indicate the extent of gender inequality in India. Women in rural parts of the country attend to their regular household care and other domestic activities (assumed to be feminine duties) and work in farms, either as paid or unpaid workers and caregivers.

Union budget: Except metro rail projects, no 'appreciable' increase in urban sector

By Tathagata Chatterji*  Coronavirus had badly impacted urban India, which accommodates one-third of its population and two-thirds of economic production. Metro cities, which are nerve centers of the economy and gateways to global trade, turned into pandemic epicenters. Millions of jobs were lost during the Covid-19 peak and lockdown phase, which triggered an unprecedented wave of deurbanization of migrant workers.

In a city and an industry obsessed with speed, Vivek Gomber is happy to be a slow runner

By Ashley Tellis*  When I first met Vivek Gomber, six years ago now, he was in his mid-thirties but as he loped toward me in a café in Bandra, near where he then lived, in his Bermudas and a tee, he might have been a US American just out of his teens. He was languidly fit and a far cry from the rotund, Uncle-like lawyer he played in Court which had at that point just been selected for the Oscars.

Withdraw prosecution against Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob, Shantanu Muluk: PUCL

Counterview Desk  Asking the Government of India to “stop witch hunt” and “drop all false and motivated cases”, India’s premier human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said that Disha Ravi’s case suggests how the law and order authorities are failing to respect “the fundamental right of free speech, dissent, assembly and association.”

Revealing the real ways of Tibetan govt in exile through an anonymous friend

By Rajiv Shah  Recently, I received an email from from a person who introduced himself as Ronny Krier, claiming to be an American cultural researcher. He said, he visits Counterview in a regular basis to read news about India, and thinks, “It's a great platform to break the information filter bubbles and hear different voice.” Then Kreir, who is on Twitter and Facebook , and calls himself “independent investigator, religion-politics researcher,” refers to a friend whom he does not name to point out how the Tibetan government in exile is failing to take care of refugees. Says Krier, “Under the pandemic, my friend, a Tibetan refugee who lived in Dharmsāla, had something to talk about the CTA (Central Tibetan Administration) in dealing with Covid-19 and current issues in the Tibetan community. I met him when I was travelling India, and recently he reached me and talked about it. He really wants to be heard by the Indian public and the global audience. However, he's still a bit c

Rally asks Punjab govt to repeal APMC amendment, contract farming laws

By Harsh Thakor*  History was literally made at the Barnala grain market in Punjab on February 21 in a conference staged jointly by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) or BKU (Urugrahan) and the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU), protesting the three farm laws. The venue resembled an Ocean in full flow with an impact: Two lakh people thronging in the venue. The grand rally in Barnala encompassed 20.66 acres. 

Odisha's Kulda mines 'heavily polluted', yet Centre allowed expansion: Protest letter

Counterview Desk  India’s civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), along with more than 400 civil society groups, movements, activists, academics and concerned citizens have come together to write to the Union Environment Minister, the Union Tribal Affairs Minister and the Chief Minister, Odisha, calling upon them to immediately intervene and halt all mining activities in the already heavily polluted Kulda mines area, in the Sundargarh district.

India needs accountability, should clean up politics, end cronyism: Dr Arun Kumar

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar The pandemic pushed the Indian economy to the greatest crisis that it ever had to face, leading to its collapse in the month of April/May 2020. Although the official data computed the fall at 7.7%, the economy has declined by around 29%, estimated Dr Arun Kumar, Malcolm S Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.

UP STF raid at Delhi state office part of 'ongoing vendetta': Popular Front

By Our Representative  Condemning recent  raids conducted by the Uttar Pradesh special task force (STF) at its Delhi state committee office in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, the civil rights group, Popular Front of India (PFI), has alleged that it is “part of the ongoing harassment launched against” it by the Yogi Adityanath government.

Kashmiri diaspora group sheds equidistance, ignores atrocities in Pak-occupied territory

By Our Representative  Clear indications have emerged that the powerful Kashmiri diaspora organisation, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, has shed its earlier approach of equidistance from both India and Pakistan while demanding what it calls the inalienable Kashmiri right of self-determination. The statement has been made in order to exhort the Kashmiri diaspora to stand united for demand the “inalienable” right.

Chauri Chaura: Why Modi govt decided to 'question' Gandhiji's wisdom, glorify violence

By Sandeep Pandey, Anandi Pandey, Kushagra Kumar*  In a surprise move, in the midst of farmers’ struggle, the government has celebrated the Chauri Chaura incident and glorified the families of freedom fighters involved. As part of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement when there was violence involving setting the police station in Chauri Chaura, near Gorakhpur, on fire killing 22 policemen as a reaction to police firing on protestors in which three people were killed, Gandhiji was so disturbed by the violence that he decided to suspend the entire movement.

Sreedharan's keenness to be part of saffron agenda and why celebrities seek limelight

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Delhi Metro's chief 'architect' E Sreedharan has decided to join BJP in Kerala and has said that he is 'ready' to accept the chief ministerial post if it comes to him. He said, he is determined to bring people to BJP and that it is the only party that India needs at the moment. Sreedharan has also given his 'expert opinion' on farmers’ issues and love jihad, supporting the official BJP line.

Aged 88, facing detractors, will Sreedharan's experience help his political experiment?

By NS Venkataraman*  With the rapid development in the field of science and technology practices, information technology and management, administrative techniques all over the world, there is a need for a high level update in knowledge amongst politicians, including ministers, both in states and the Central government, who govern the country today.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Favouring industrial lobby? 12,635 acres land acquisition for Telangana investment zone

Counterview Desk  India’s civil rights network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), condemning “blatant disregard” by the state and the industrial lobby for the lives of Telangana farmers, farm workers and scheduled tribes, has said almost 12,635 acres of land are likely to be acquired over 17 villages for the proposed National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ), Zaheerabad.

Budget 2021-22 is 'uninspiring' for Dalits: Whither real empowerment measures?

By MK Shaji*  The Government of Idia claims to work for all classes and peoples (Sabka Saath). Its leadership firmly believes in the merits of a full-fledged capitalist economy and makes all out efforts to facilitate maximal profit for investors, industry and businesses.

Intimidating atmosphere, as 'ramshackled' judiciary refuses to question authorities

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The recent raid on the newsportal “Newsclick” by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) unambiguously shows how the government 'respects' those voices that differ. The ED these days has become the new CBI and is being used as a political tool. It is deeply disturbing how these agencies have allowed themselves to be used as a political tool to harass the opponents of the ruling party.

As 'self-centred' politicians lose credibility, are activists seeking to fill in the gap?

By NS Venkataraman*  All over the world, in totalitarian countries, people are generally unhappy about the rulers, who run the country. In such countries, curtailment of individual freedom and liberty is common practice and transparency is conspicuous by absence. However, people put up with problems and stress, fearing suppression.

Land acquisition for coalmining: Outdated law being used to 'bypass' consultation

Chhattisgarh Adivasis protest Govt of India move  Counterview Desk  The Union Ministry of Coal’s notification to acquire more than 700 hectares of forest and Adivasi land in the Hadeo Aranya region of Chhattisgarh for under the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957, is a “blatant attempt to bypass public consultation provisions under multiple Central laws including, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a civil rights network, has said.

Digital fascism? Incriminating, 'fabricated' evidence being planted to blame activists

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  This year the World Day of Social Justice (February 20) is being observed in extremely trying times all over the world. The first signs and cases of the pandemic had already gripped parts of the world in December 2019; but it was not until after the middle of February 2020 did the seriousness of situation actually set in.

Disha Ravi case: Conspiracy theory is being floated to 'divert' public attention

Counterview Desk  Three well-known civil rights organisations, National Alliance of People's Movements, Coalition for Environmental Justice in India and People's Union for Civil Liberties have said that that government should “stop stifling democracy”, and instead enter into dialogue with the youth to “secure India’s future.”

Catholic Union: Hounding of young climate change activists is 'deeply worrying'

Disha Ravi By Our Representative  The All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has said that it is deeply disturbed and worried at hounding of young activists, insisting, “civil society is vital for healthy nation.” The 101-year-old organisation, in a statement, said it is particularly worried “at the hounding of young climate change and environment activists in the country.”

Attack on young girls: Madhya Pradesh tribal women demonstrate, seek 'stern action'

Counterview Desk Four tribal rights organisations, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti, Adivasi Chhatra Sangathan and Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) -- referring to the attack on Madhya Pradesh adivasi women in Badwani, including a pregnant woman and young girls in the name of religion on December 31 -- have regretted that despite one-and-a-half months have passed, no arrests of the perpetrators have taken place.

Dholi Ganga disaster: People just don't want dam, villagers tell activists, blame NTPC

Counterview Desk  Activists Vimal Bhai, Dinesh Panwar and Bharat Chauhan of the Uttarakhand civil rights organisation Matu Jansangthan, who were in Tapovan and Raini villages to assess the impact of the Dhouli Ganga disaster that took place on February 7, have said that things went worse because of the “disregard of security arrangements and criminal negligence by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) dam.”

West Bengal tea garden workers protest 'unjust' takeover plan, insist: Pay dues

By Sandip Singha, et al*  About 1,300 workers of the Jateswar Division of Birpara Tea Garden have begun a struggle to prevent the illegal and unjust takeover of their garden by Merico Agro Industries Ltd. They have read from the newspapers that a meeting has been organised by the West Bengal Labour Department between trade union leaders and the management of Merico Agro Industries Ltd. 

Clampdown on media: Why even well-meaning people fail to see news as news

By Rajiv Shah  Are journalists being misunderstood even by well-meaning people? I was to kickstart by quoting an article published in theprint.in titled “ED (Enforcement Directorate) says NewsClick used Rs 30 cr ‘mystery remittances’ to ‘pay Navlakha, CPM IT cell member’.” This article has invited a wild comment from a person who is known to be editing a well-known left-leaning blog.  An old time friend since my college days in Delhi University, referring to this article, said on his Facebook timeline: “An absolutely unethical hatchet job by The Print against NewsClick that descends to unprecedented lows in ass-licking. But am I surprised? Yes, at those who still thought Shekhar Gupta is a journalist with integrity. This is him in his true colours. #StandbyNewsClick.” I am referring to the FB post as an example of where do activists, particularly Leftists, go out of the way while referred to “media”. When they refer to media, they mean corporate media, but they forget a major factor: T

Our members arrested in UP citing 'fake' terrorism narrative, claims Popular Front

By Our Representative  The Popular Front of India, which claims to be a social youth organisation based in Kerala with presence in in several states, and under radar ever since its members participated in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), has said that the recent arrests of its members Anshad and Firoz by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) is based on “a ridiculous fake story of terror attack.”

Overcoming trade imbalance in South Asia and IMF's post-Covid 'extreme optimism'

By Prof Utpal K De, Dr Simi Mehta  Covid-19 has resulted in a disruption of trade as well as market linkage across the globe. The responses of various countries have been observed in the form of a structural shift from participating in global supply chains to looking inwardly. Lockdown of the economies hit global supply chains by halting the process of production and output.

Aadhaar a 'major hurdle' in disbursement of social security pension: Public hearing told

By Our Representative  Despite tall promises, Jharkhand’s elderly, widows and disabled continue to be denied pensions, a civil society-sponsored public nearing (jan sunwai) on social security pensions has been told. On February16, hundreds of elderlies, single women and differently-abled reached Chaibasa (West Singhbhum, Jharkhand) to participate in the jan sunwai.

Sinful forms of escapism? 'Buzzwords' in Church of India: Being apolitical, diplomatic

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* ‘Apolitical’ is both a word and a concept; it is reflective of one’s attitude and behaviour towards the realities that grip people anywhere. It essentially means having no interest in or association with politics. It is also defined as ‘politically neutral; without political attitudes, content or bias’. In ordinary parlance, for the ones who cry hoarse about being ‘apolitical’ it just means not getting involved in politics; because politics is ‘dirty’- and any involvement would mean repercussions on oneself or family or the institution one represents.

Ahmedabad slum dwellers lathicharged: Demand for basic amenities for settlements

By Our Representative  Ahmedabad police allegedly used brute force to break up an assembly of migrant workers demanding decent housing. Hundreds of workers had gathered before the district collector’s office, Ahmedabad, to submit a memorandum to the district collector demanding that their settlement be enumerated as slums and basic services like light and drinking water be provided.

Odisha NGOs launch #Mission1lakh to 'bridge' education gap of primary children

By Our Representative  In an effort to bridge the learning gaps among students of primary grade (classes 1 to 5) in Odisha arisen during the lockdown period, a new initiative called Mo Chatashalee has been aunched in Bhubaneswar by civil society organization (CSO) Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha (OSM) and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha (MSMO). Odia film actor Varsha Priyadarshini inaugurated the initiative.

Attack on Newsclick: Criminalising free speech as large sections of media 'surrender'

Counterview Desk  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), commenting on the recent Enforcement Directorate raids on the online media platform "Newsclick" has said that it suggests that the Government of India is “weaponising the law by criminalising free speech”. In a statement, the top human rights organisation said, “The attack on ‘Newsclick’ is not an isolated incident”, asserting, “If we do not stand up and fight for those being jailed, silenced and tormented now, we will face even greater restrictions on freedom.”

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

TINA factor? Why so many Indians still think: Modi’s stewardship is indispensable

By NS Venkataraman*  For the last 19 years, Narendra Modi, first as the chief minister of Gujarat, and later as the Prime Minister of India, has been receiving bouquets and brickbats from a cross section of countrymen. Modi’s ardent admirers see everything positive in his personal and public life. But his sworn critics have found several negatives in him and have not hesitated to be very critical in order to tarnish his image.

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Tikait's emotional outburst: Is emphasis shifting from agri-laws to farmers' honour?

By Dr Prem Singh* Two achievements of the ongoing peasant movement in opposition to the three agricultural laws which have transformed this movement into nothing sort of exemplary are: carving out a space for democratic resistance; and expanding awareness of the ill effects of capitalism pushed through policies of privatization-corporatization.

Govt of India 'treating' its own citizens as enemies. But who will win the war?

By Sandeep Pandey, Harleen Sandhu, Rahul Singh Rana*  Big hullabaloo has been raised by the Indian government and some sections of the Indian media on the incidents of January 26, 2021 during the tractor parade of the farmers’ movement. Government has used the incidents as an excuse to tighten its noose on the entire movement. However, things are not as polarized as shown by some media. Majority of the people participating in the rally conducted their march as intended peacefully.

A peep into Australia's South Asians obsessed with finding out each other's caste

Counterview Desk  There appears to be no end to South Asians settling abroad taking with them their casteist, anti-Dalit mindset – a fact brought to light by Deepak Joshi , a Facebook friend who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Joshi has shared on his Facebook timeline an article published in the ABC Radio National site titled “They've left South Asia, but they can't escape the discrimination and division of its caste system” authored by Karishma Luthria. It is actually a first person blog. What is shocking is, and this is what Joshi is particularly concerned about – that after he shared this article in a Facebook group called ‘Indians in South East Melbourne’, not only was the article removed by the Facebook administrators stating that it encouraged ‘Hate Speech or Bullying’. Joshi himself has been barred from commenting in the group! The Facebook group has 16.8 thousand members. Its very first post, authored by one of the two admins of the group, states, “Any accusations on e

Nothing new about Gujarat's solar misadventures. They date back to 2008

By Rajiv Shah  Pointing out that it is hard to fathom why state governments in India go back on their word and tearing up contracts awarded by them, “Mint”, in an opinion piece , has given the example of how Gujarat has “reneged” one of its own deals. “In one fell swoop”, the daily says, “Gujarat’s power procurement agency cancelled tenders for 700 MW of solar power generation given to a clutch of energy producers, citing lower tariff bids in a subsequent auction.” “The companies left staring at Letters of Award (LoAs) that might no longer be worth the ink they bear include Vena Energy, Tata Power, ReNew Power and O2 Power”, the unsigned opinion piece says, pointing out, “Last August, these firms had won contracts to put up facilities in Gujarat’s Dholera Solar Park through an auction process that yielded ₹2.78 per unit as the lowest bid for the supply of electric energy to a state-run power grid.” It adds, “In October, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd gave out duly-signed LoAs. The final

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

'Andolanjeevi' vs 'hum do hamare do': Will non-BJP leaders work for secular alliance?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* Oratory is an important instrument in today’s times. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a new term, 'andolanjeevi' , to his supporters which was countered by activists vehemently. Modi's speech was nothing but addressed to his audience, and now that includes the corporate bosses too, as he categorically said that private players are important for 'nation building'.