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Showing posts from April, 2021

Contested grounds? Ongoing land conflicts in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal

By Mukta Joshi* From March to May 2021, four states and one union territory – Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puduchery – are conducting elections for their respective legislative assemblies. The Bharatiya Janata Party is currently in power in Assam, while Kerala is governed by the Left Front coalition led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Tamil Nadu by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and West Bengal by the Trinamool Congress.

Activist-journalist Indukumar Jani served marginalised, felt helpless towards end of life

By Martin Macwan* We, his friends and colleagues, lovingly called him Indubhai. He is no more . The vacuum created by his departure into a shrinking space for social activism will be difficult to fill. In his 77 year age, he spent 41 long years, serving the most marginalized through multiple activities, especially through his writings.

Militant, extremist? VHP's religious education in Aussie schools 'alien' to Hindu values

Counterview Desk Australian arm of the Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), a Washington DC-based nonprofit organization founded in 2019, which claims to advocate for pluralism as "rooted" in the values of Hindu faith, has taken strong objection to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Australia (VHPA) partnering with schools in New South Wales as an approved provider of Special Religious Education, stating, the values VHPA seeks to propagate are contrary to the Hindu view of shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth).

Refusing to develop scientific temper, Govt of India 'loses' historic opportunity

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The second wave of coronavirus has stuck hard, particularly in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Was the wave surprising or we allowed it to happen? The number of cases are all set to reach a whopping 300,000 per day.

Independent trustees oppose Gujarat hospital tie-up with defence PSU, budget 'approval'

Counterview Desk Independent board members of Ahmedabad's premier public-charitable health institutions, Chinai Maternity and Sarabhai General Hospitals (VS), in a letter to the Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), with copies to the VS Hospital chairperson and the Charity Commissioner, Ahmedabad, have protested against the manner in which the legally constituted VS Board and Trusts were "bypassed" while passing the budget worth Rs 163.85 crore for the hospital.

Mulshi: India's first anti-dam satyagraha and Gandhiji's insistence on non-violence

A Mulshi Dam affected village By Nandini K Oza*  The Mulshi satyagraha (struggle) against a dam being built by the Tata company on the river Mula in Maharashtra is one of the first anti-dam struggles of India, fought nearly a hundred years ago. However, not much is known about this important and powerful struggle, though it has been well documented in the book ‘Mulshi Satyagraha’, by Rajendra Vohra.

Jharkhand Covid restrictions? Hunger may worsen as Central grain stocks pile up

Counterview Desk  As pandemic rages across the nation, the Modi government is busy with election riding on religious majoritarianism, well-known civil rights network, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) has said, demanding a large number of urgent measures both at the Central and state levels to stop the fast pace at which the disease is spreading across the country.

OECD aid grossly insufficient to deal with 'lasting impact' of Covid crisis: 76 CSOs

By Our Representative  As many as 76 civil society organisations across the world, including two from India, have have objected to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the powerful Paris-based intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, for allocating a mere 161.2 billion USD of official development assistance (ODA), more commonly known as ‘development aid’.

54% youth not job ready, yet NEP fails to recognise widening inequities in education

By Simi Mehta, Anshula Mehta In an endeavour to harness India’s massive potential in the 21st century, the Government of India launched the “National Education Policy 2020”. The policy has been hailed as progressive and revolutionary; it has sparked discourse on the future of education.  Given its potential to initiate massive transformations and create substantial change, it becomes pertinent to analyze and question its comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, flaws, ability to impart value education and skills and whether it can make a peaceful, tolerant and just society.

How marginalised communities gave folk expression to 'lost' inheritance in eastern UP

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Fourteen years ago, when noted Hindi author and historian Subhash Chandra Kushwaha took the initiative to create a space for folk artistes against the culture of indecency and vulgarity in the name of folk culture, particularly in the Bhojpuri heartland, nobody ever assumed that the event would become hugely popular with the masses and ultimately gain international repute, perhaps the most sought after in this rural hinterland in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Does Gujarat govt know? Ambedkar advised Dalits to convert to 'gain' self-respect

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* On April 14, the nation gratefully remembered Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar who was born on this day in 1891, 130 years ago! He was a polymath and civil rights activist who contributed immensely to the nation: Among others, as the Father of the Constituent Assembly, as the one who conceptualised the Reserve Bank of India and, above all, as a social reformer who was known for his campaigns against the social discrimination which oppressed the Dalits, women and labour.

Why is it business as usual for India? Arrest of Burmese rights leader Thin Thin, others

Counterview Desk  Seventy three women’s rights defenders from India in an open statement have called upon the Myanmar junta to immediately release Thin Thin Aung, known to many of the signatories during her 15 years in exile in India as a Burmese refugee, as also other “illegally detained” pro-democracy activists.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.

Repetitive, non-creative strategy? Why is annihilation of caste still a 'distant' dream

By Aviral Anand*  If Dr BR Ambedkar's birth anniversary is a day of celebration, it is also a day of reflection. To honor the struggle of someone as dedicated and revolutionary as Dr. Ambedkar, one must be able to look back on what has been achieved and also look forward to what needs to be done.

April 14 as #DalitDiwali: Are Bahujan leaders 'insensitive' in choosing symbols?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Dr Mama Deshmukh is a veteran Bahujan historian. In a conversation with me recently, he said that only Ambedkarite Buddhists are capable to lead the Bahujan movement. He insisted, they should get united. An interesting part of his discussion was the advise to Ambedkarites to be sensitive towards 'egos' of the Marathas, Kunbis and other Bahujan communities.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Gujarat love jihad Bill infringes on women's rights, 'criminalises' marginalized Muslims

Counterview Desk  In a memorandum submitted to Gujarat governor Acharya Devrat, signatories on behalf of the India's top civil society network, National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), Gujarat, has said that the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021, passed recently in the state assembly, is "unconstitutional, infringes on the rights of women and polarizes the society along lines of religion."

Whither reforms? Pandemic 'witnessed' poor labour market governance in India

By Simi Mehta  Eminent labour economist and professor, Human Resources Management Area at XLRI -- Xavier School of Management, Dr KR Shyam Sundar’s new book titled ‘Essays on COVID-19, Labour Market Reforms and the World of Work in India’, released at a virtual event, has been dedicated the book to the premier international academic body (co-founded by former President Shri VV Giri), the Indian Society of Labour Economics.

Farm laws: Modi govt concocting false narratives, 'ignoring' ill-effects of its steps

By Rahul Singh Rana, Sandeep Pandey* The Farmers' protests are into their fourth month now. These protests started with people from Punjab and Haryana breaking barricades and heading towards the Indian capital. As expected, these protesting farmers were met with force at several places. Undeterred by the challenging circumstances, the farmers were able to reach at the borders of Delhi. 

Andhra govt, Centre 'collude' to repeat Bhima Koregaon type case against rights activists

Counterview Desk  In a comprehensive statement, running into about 3,500 words, India's premier human rights organisation, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), even as condemning the recent "unprecedented attack" on rights activists by the Andhra Pradesh government, with the Centre's National Investigation Agency (NIA) and stood in "solidarity", has said that the main aim of the "witch hunt" is to silence dissent.

Federalism in danger? Law 'paralyses' Delhi governance, follows abrogation of Article 370

Counterview Desk  In an open statement, a group of former civil servants of the all-India and Central services, who have worked for decades with the Central and State governments, have said that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amndment) Act, 2021, is not only "bad in law", it also "deprives Delhi’s citizens of the right to govern themselves in matters such as health, education, water, power, electric supply and roads."

Myanmar junta crackdown: Demand to allow refugees in India, sign Geneva Convention

Counterview Desk  India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as seeking restoration of democracy in Myanmar and declaring "support" to the "civil disobedience movement" against the military (Tatmadaw), has demanded that the Government of India (GoI) should allow refuge to Myanmar’s citizens "fleeing persecutions and violence."

Varanasi court verdict on physical survey of Gyanvapi mosque 'violates' Ayodhya verdict

By Our Representative  The Popular Front of India, a civil rights network, has said that the Varanasi district court order directing the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out a “physical survey” of the Gyanvapi mosque is a “clear case of abetting the Sangh Parivar assault on the Constitutional rights of religious minorities.”

Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: Why no CRPF jawan from Delhi, Mumbai upscale area?

By Aviral Anand*  A jawan from Tripura about to get married. Another, from a village in Bilaspur, looking forward to a new home. A recent father... The stories of martyred jawans are almost always the same, and the scenes of mourning too similar, set as they are overwhelmingly in rural or mofussil India. Has one ever heard of someone from, say, the preposterously-named residential complexes like "Maple Gardens Society" in the posh outskirts of the national capital, for example, ever falling victim to an ambush in Bastar?

Reminiscing Kashmir human rights lawyer, 'killed' 25 yrs ago by Indian army fugitive

Arshad Andrabi with photo of brother Jalil Andrabi, Srinagar, June 12, 2012 By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai*  Accused of murdering human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi, who was chairman of the Kashmir Commission of Jurists, exactly 25 years ago, it became a big news when a former Indian major, Avtar Singh, was found dead after he killed his wife and two children, and finally himself, in Selma, California. The event took place on June 9, 2012.

Sedition law: Independent India carrying imperial legacy to 'silence' dissent, criticism

By Prem Verma* The Indian sedition law owes its origin to the British Sedition Act of 1661, an Act of Parliament of England which was passed as an Act for safety and Preservation of His Majesties Person and Government against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts. However sedition was abolished in Great Britain through the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009.

'Defiance' of Election Commission guidelines in Tamil Nadu: Do media, politicians care?

By NS Venkataraman*  With the polling in Tamil Nadu over, many citizens heave a sigh of relief that they would be spared from the noise made by politicians and media at least for the next few weeks, it is time to reflect for a moment about the role of the Election Commission in Tamil Nadu and what kind of respect it commanded from the media and the political parties.

Why India's officials dislike anti-atrocities law more than the 'much misused' NSA

By Martin Macwan*  The judicial trial in the case of unnatural death of George Floyd is aired live on the American TV channel. It is also shown on other international channels. The most noticeable testimonies are of the police officers. They have clearly testified that the accused police officer in the case has broken the rules and protocols under which police officers have been trained.

Arbitrary, vindictive? There is no ground for disciplinary action against Saibaba: DUTA

Counterview Desk Objecting to the termination of top human rights leader Dr GN Saibaba's services, the DelhiUniversity Teachers' Association (DUTA), in a representation Prof PC Joshi, acting vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, even as appealing to review disciplinary action against him, has said that the Ram Lal Anand College, where he serves as associate professor, or its Governing Gody, has "never made out a case for disciplinary action" independent of the criminal case filed against him.

Decision to terminate Prof Saibaba's services 'inhuman, arbitrary, against natural justice'

By Our Representative  Taking strong exception to the decision of the Ram Lal Anand College, Delhi University, to terminate services of well-known left-wing human rights activist Dr GN Saibaba as associate professor with effect from March 31, 2021, a civil rights group fighting against his continued incarceration for his alleged Maoist links has said the move is “arbitrarily”, and is “in complete violation of all principles of natural justice.”

Chhattisgarh Naxal attack: 'Failure' to address Adivasi concern over their natural resources

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The brutal Naxal attack on the security forces in Chhattisgarh is a reminder of how the Naxals have amassed huge weapons to 'protect' their zones. It is a complete intelligence failure on the part of both the Central and state governments who allowed this massive assault to happen. This was the same region where earlier the Maoists had ambushed security forces killing them in large numbers.

PUCL warns against using Chhattisgarh tragedy for further militarisation of Bastar

By Our Representative  India's well-known human rights organisation, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), while condemning the "heavy loss of lives in the encounter between Maoists and security forces in Chhattisgarh", has appealed to all political parties to "maintain calm", insisting, it is time to "bring an end to all hostilities."

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

Subsistence to sustainability: Empowering women through self-help groups model

By Moin Qazi*  In the development sector, the focus on efforts to empower women is growing, but COVID-19 has put the hard-won progress in the field at risk. The shadow of this pandemic falls on women by way of loss of employment opportunities. Women hold the majority of insecure, informal, and lower-paying jobs.

Doubling of incomes? Niti Aayog view 'hides' the plight of 86% small, marginal farmers

By Dr Gian Singh* On March 28, 2021, Dr Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture) of the Niti Aayog, said that if the Agriculture Acts are not implemented soon, the target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 would not be achieved. He said that the government was ready to discuss these laws with the farmers section by section. Farmer leaders should consider this offer.

Nearing 180th day of incarceration, Stan Swamy carries cross, 'awaits' his Easter

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  April 4 was Holy Saturday 2021! Christians, in an age-old custom, waited devoutly, in patient silence but with deep hope: The tomb which contains the body of Jesus would be thrown wide open in a few hours, revealing the Resurrection of Jesus, his triumph over death and the promise to mankind of eternal life. 

Gujarat religious freedom amendment bill 'pursues' votebank politics, is anti-minority

Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja  By Our Representative  A Gujarat-based minority rights organisation, taking strong exception to the state assembly last week passing the Gujarat Religious Freedom (Amendment) Bill, 2021, has asserted that the proposed law “is completely unconstitutional”, even as asking the Gujarat governor to give his accent to it.

From Golana to Sonadar: Is social justice for Gujarat Dalits of concern any more?

MLA Jignesh Mevani (independent) paying homage to Amrabhai Boricha  By Martin Macwan*  The news were disturbing. There was unruly confrontation between the District Magistrate and an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat. Amrabhai Boricha, head of the lone Dalit family in Sanodar village, Bhavnagar district, was brutally murdered in the presence of his family members and the police guards assigned to protect his life.

Andhra, Telangana 'collaborate' with Centre to target human rights defenders: NAPM

Counterview Desk  India’s civil rights organisation, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), while condemning a spate of “fabricated” FIRs and “arbitrary raids” on activists’ homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, has regretted that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Unlawful Activities Prohibition Act (UAPA) “have become tools of stifling all democratic assertion and dissent by the current regime”.

Maoist link? Raids on Andhra, Telengana activists for their 'fight' against injustice

By Our Representative  The National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO), condemning National Investigation Agency (NIA) recent raids on Telangana and Andhra Pradesh activists, has said that it wasn’t any surprise that NIA raided the houses of around 25 activists of the two states for their alleged links with Maoists.

Ahmedabad tribal workers site demolished for metro project: Whither rehab policy?

By Mina Jadhav*  The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has demolished 69 settlements of tribal construction workers in front of Srushti Arcade, Motera, Ahmedabad. The settlement had come into news last year at the time of the visit of US President Trump to the Motera stadium.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Chhattisgarh Congress govt 'targeting, hounding' anti-mining woman tribal leader

Counterview Desk  A signature campaign begun to free tribal rights activist Hidme Markam, and other activists like her, addressed to Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has said that she is languishing in jail on “false and unfounded charges” despite being a seasoned and deeply committed activist, who has been raising her voice against “indiscriminate” corporate greed and “state-sanctioned” devastation through arbitrary development projects.

#MittiSatyagraha: Parallel civil society Dandi yatra continues amidst police 'obstruction'

Activists stopped at Umrachhi on way to Dandi  By Our Representative A civil society-sponsored #MittiSatyagraha Yatra, which has commenced across India amidst Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high profile Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, has seen a nervous administration in Gujarat seeking to block the entry of  activists at a spot near Dandi, where the yatra was heading.  The yatra has begun from Mumbai (Maharashtra), Bhadwani and Rewa (Madhya Pradesh), Champaran (Bihar), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Varanasi (UP), Bellary (Karnataka) and Amritsar (Punjab), and is scheduled to reach Delhi borders on April 6.

J&K: US govt report concern over arbitrary arrests, detention, 'denial' of fair trial

By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai* The United States Department of State, 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, issued on March 30, 2021 has reproached India on her human rights record. The country report graphic documentation of human rights violations being committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).