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Showing posts from May, 2021

India's vaccination policy 'to cost' poorest 20% households 43-86% of monthly income

Counterview Desk Insisting on a time-bound, equitable vaccine policy to ensure universal access to a free vaccine before it is too late, public health practitioners and civil society members, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have said that India’s current pace Covid-19 vaccination drive will take 2.4 years to complete, warning, global epidemiologists feel it could take under a year before the virus may mutate making it difficult for current vaccines to contain the spread.

A non-BJP govt in Bihar? Chinks in Nitish Kumar-led coalition may soon gain in size

By Haider Abbas*  The day, since the West Bengal (WB) polls ended, the Union Home Minister is totally invisible! BJP, despite its most robust campaign, peppered with heavy communalism, could not even smell victory, as the Trinamool Congress (TMC) under Mamta Banerjee romped with her third time tenure in a row. It did not come late to political pundits that had Election Commission (EC) not played to the gallery of BJP, as it did in Bihar lately, BJP was not to cross even the 20 figure in WB.

'Absurd' to say 18 elephants killed due to lightning: Assam engineer body seeks probe

By Our Representative  The All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA), a Guwahati-based organisation, has said that the “tragic death of 18 wild Asiatic elephants due to electrocution by lightning within seconds”, as claimed by the State government, “can be justified only with an absurd argument.”

Urgently shift 'very fragile' Fr Stan to a good hospital, demands Jharkhand NGO

By Our Representative  In a letter addressed to Dilip Walse Patil, Maharashtra home minister, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM) has demanded that 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy should be immediately shifted to a good hospital in view of his fragile health.

Second wave: Migrants fear dying without food, money amidst 'abysmal' social security

By Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda With the exodus of millions of migrant workers returning to their villages during second wave of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the Central government has relinquished its role in the governance. The state governments are now parenting the city governance for their ignored migrants.

Munmun Dutta's utterance part of savarnas' 'rampant' feudal, casteist mindset

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A TV actress, more known for her flirting ways than acting, recently exposed her caste mindset when she said: “Lip tint ko halka sa blush ki tarah laga liya hai because main YouTube pe aane wali hoon aur main achha dikhna chahti hoon. Bhangi ki tarah nahi dikhna chahti hoon..." Simple translation: I am planning to speak to you through my YouTube channel and hence I want to look beautiful and not like the 'Bhangis'.

Have Catholic Communicators taken stand against 'callous, complacent' Govt of India?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Pope Francis has once again thrown a challenge to Catholic Communicators in his annual message for World Communications Day which this year falls on Sunday 16 May. In his typically direct yet profound way, he focuses his message on the theme ‘Come and See (Jn 1:46). Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are.’

Unable to read popular sentiment, Congress 'failed' to do a Mamata in Assam, defeat BJP

By Sandeep Pandey, Divesh Ranjan*  In the recently concluded elections in Assam, it turns out that if the votes of Mahajot alliance led by Congress Party and the alliance of Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal are combined then they would have been in a position to prevent Bhartiya Janata Party from forming a government in Assam. If 14 seats where Mahajot alliance and AJP-RD votes are together greater than Mitrajot alliance led by BJP votes are subtracted from 75 seats won by Mitrajot and added to the Mahajot and AJP-RD combine strength of 51, it yields a different result.

Security forces used to 'forcibly' implement Assam solar power plant, 'suppress' protesters

Counterview Desk  More than 150 academics, activists, students, lawyers, filmmakers and concerned citizens from Assam, North-East and across the country have taken strong exception to the deployment of security forces in the midst of a raging pandemic in Mikir Bamuni Grant, Nagaon district, Assam, to push forward the construction of Azure Power's solar power plant.

Shifting responsibility? How world’s vaccine capital ‘failed’ its citizens so blatantly

Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Covid infection has reached an inflection point in India which is now the Corona capital of the world, and the citizens need a warlike initiative to vaccinate the entire nation, of which just 14 crore out of 140 crores population has been vaccinated till now.

SC order: Eight crore migrant, stranded, needy workers get 'much needed' relief

By Our Representative  Senior civil rights leaders Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar have welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) order in the suo motu matter regarding the problems and distress being faced by migrant workers, calling it “a positive first step towards providing much needed relief to migrant workers, who are the worst hit by the lockdowns and restrictions imposed by several states to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Demand to release 15 top activists: Families, friends wonder Maharashtra CM will act

By Our Representative Will Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray act following a letter (see text below) written by family members and friends of 15 undertrial activists, currently in Maharashtra jails, and ensure bail to them bail? An online media conference addressed by them revealed that Thackeray, who was sent the letter two days ago, has so far only acted to ensure that, so far, only one of the activists, Dr Hany Babu, has got the "relief" of being shifted to a hospital as he has tested Covid positive.

Covid 2 & governance deficit-2: Wallowing in fault finding: Whither accountability?

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury* While the second surge of Covid is ravaging India, it is important to dwell upon the reasons of its lethality, for posterity and delineate good governance in public health, hopefully in future. Carrying forward from the first part on this theme, we look into the other issues compounding the crisis.

As poverty, unemployment rise, India’s 'poor' fiscal response to Covid at 1.5 of GDP

By Kingshuk Sarkar*  India’s labour market is characterized by incidences of very high level of informalization and precariousness. A study has revealed that the pandemic-induced lockdown led to further deterioration in quality of works and earnings.

Covid mismanagement? Modi govt in 'denial mode' even as 10 High Courts sound alert

By Haider Abbas*  It has always been found that whenever there is a government of brute majority, the executive succumbs and the tremors very often reach the judiciary. There have been countless examples of this over the last 70 years, notwithstanding the Keshavananda Bharti case . But, with the outbreak of Covid-19, the Modi government as also several State governments, mainly those under BJP, have had a share of a ‘rap-on-the-knuckles’ by their respective courts.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

Footprints of fascism in India? Encouraging violence, hatred, 'igniting' civil unrest

By Anhad Team*  A webinar, attended by close to 300 people on Zoom and Facebook, organized by  Anhad  to observe May 9, the day Hitler’s forces surrendered, focused on the current state of the country, which is quite worrisome and tragic. The atmosphere is filled with rage, despair and loss, and yet in these difficult times, it was felt, critical conversations must be had to remember the context within which we are living. The webinar was chaired by Prof Mridula Mukherjee, the former chairperson of the Centre of Historical Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and panelists included Prof Prabhat Patnaik, eminent economist and political commentator; Charanjit Singh, retired professor at the Centre of Russian Studies, JNU; Prof Ram Puniyani, formerly from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an ardent social activist; Vani Subramaniam, a documentary filmmaker and a member of the Saheli Trust; and Gauhar Raza, scientist by profession but also a poet and social activist. T

Covid 2 & governance deficit-1: 'Callous' decision making, management collapse

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  When the ongoing Covid mayhem in India hopefully ends, the questions that will remain: Was it largely a manmade disaster? Could this be avoided or impact lessened? On May 7, India's coronavirus cases hit a grim global record with 4,12,262 fresh infections in the last 24 hours. And 3,919 deaths were reported. India recorded over 4 lakh cases for the first time on May 1, after reporting 3 lakh daily infection for nine straight days. The country -- hit by a deadly second wave -- logged 1 lakh cases in a day for the first time about three weeks ago. While the total case-load has crossed 2.1 crores, the active cases are above 35 lacs, and deaths have crossed 2.3 lacs in total, as per government figures.

As Covid fear grips rural Gujarat, NGOs spread out to 1,000 villages, educate people

By Our Representative  Several Gujarat-based NGOs, including Janvikas, Navsarjan Trust and the Centre for Social Justice, are in the midst of a successful experiment in 1,000 villages of Gujarat, providing health-related education to the rural folk on how to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, even as pointing towards a simmering atmosphere of fear among the people.

NHRC vacancies to be filled up without due process? Petition to Kovind opposes move

Counterview Desk  The All India Network of NGOs and individuals working with National and State Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI)) has sought to draw the attention of President Ram Nath Kovind on the reported Government of India move to fill up vacancies among the first rung of leadership in National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) without following legal provisions and international norms.

'Shocked, dismayed': UN official's stance against universal PDS in India opposed

Counterview Desk  The civil rights group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has taken strong exception to Bishow Parajuli, India country director for United Nations World Food Programme, stating that universalising the public distribution system (PDS) is “not be feasible”, as everyone as in the country “does not need social protection.”

Great War of 1857: How our rulers allowed British lackeys 'slip' to RSS, Muslim League

By Shamsul Islam*  Now it is almost 170 years that people of this country, men, women, children belonging to all religions, regions and strata, rose in revolt, from Kashmir to Madras, and from Sylhet to the borders of Afghanistan. Today if Indians have forgotten about this glorious saga of commitment and sacrifices for the liberation of India can be forgiven in absence of the contemporary narratives.

Why Tagore 'pleaded' with Lord that he be spared the curse of being reborn in Bengal

By Bhaskar Sur*  Hindu Bengalis of West Bengal celebrated the 160th birth centenary of their poet exactly two days after he was born .Why? Because they follow an outdated, archaic calendar. Like so many matters they are behind the time. This is an indicator of their stubborn conservatism rooted in Brahminical tradition.

Mamata’s return isn't empowerment of Dalits, Muslims; it's 'retention' of Bhadralok rule

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The recently state assembly elections suggest that there was a lot at stake, particularly for the ruling dispensation of RSS, which made every effort to dislodge the West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee. Bengal was Amit Shah’s lab from where he wanted to show why he mattered the most for BJP.

Re-exodus and lockdown: Citymakers have 'no confidence' in government assurances

By Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda On April 20, 2021 Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation about the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country for the second time. In his national address, he assured the myriad of workers that national lockdown will not be declared as a response to the pandemic. He declared that the solution would be to create ‘micro-containment zones’, requesting all-state Chief Ministers to respond similarly and work with the central government.

Why under Modi one can't imagine likes of WB BJP chief Dilip Ghosh behind bars

By Haider Abbas*  “Modi Ji aapko sharam nahi aati”, shrieks the crying Payal Rohatgi, in a video available on Youtube. She is a cinema actress and she asks PM Modi as to why Hindus are getting killed in West Bengal (WB) in post-poll violence. If her speech is put to analysis it is a clear exhortation for Hindus to start to kill Muslims. Twitter has banned her account. She has in the past supported the rape-accused Asaram Bapu too.

George Floyd tragedy 'multiplied' with a loud cry: Get off our necks, we want to breathe

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  It was a scene which will forever be etched in the memory of millions the world over: on May 25 2020, on a street in Minneapolis, US -- a white police officer Derek Chauvin, had his knee pressed down on the neck of a black American George Floyd. This continued for more than nine minutes.

Illegal mining 'rampant' in Bhavnagar dist, degrading groundwater, rivers, ponds, farms

Counterview Desk  Senior Gujarat-based environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and of the Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) in a letter to the Union secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, have said that “illegal” sand mining in Bhavnagar, coastal district, is “contaminating and degrading the ground water, rivers, lakes, other water resources and check dams.”

Daily wagers left in lurch: Ration not being distributed for May in Delhi's PDS shops

Counterview Desk  The civil rights group, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA), in a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has expressed concern over failure to distribute ration for the month of May from the ration shops. This is adding to the economic distress of the working poor who have lost their sources of livelihood during the lockdown imposed by the government to combat Covid-19, the letter said.

Misgovernance amidst pandemic: Will UP go out of BJP hand following WB drubbing?

By Haider Abbas*  The deplorable medical conditions in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and overall in the country has been all in the making for quite some time. As we sit in big cities, we do have access to social media news and have a clue of ‘things-around’, but condition have turned far worse in small villages, qasbas and districts, where people are dying in large numbers due to the new variant of Covid-19.

Unnoticed, underutilised? Fridays with Future: Registering youth voices, thoughts

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  While addressing the nation few days ago, the Prime Minister called upon the youth (Bal Mitra) to help maintain Covid-appropriate behaviour, insisting that the lockdown would be the last resort . Later, the final year medicos are asked to jump into the medical practice for covid care due to the shortage of the healthcare human resources during this unprecedented medical crisis.

India losing 4 media persons a day to Covid-19, as global tally reaches 1,248

By Our Representative  India has emerged as the second most Covid-19 affected nation in the world to lose 141 journalists, almost four scribes per day, even as the global tally reached 1,248 scribes in 75 countries due to corona complications since March 2020, when the pandemic hit the human race.

Top-down policy-making approach? Reverse migration amidst second Covid wave

By Arjun Kumar, Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda*  Migrant workers have been assured multiple times that an economic lockdown will not be imposed and yet photographs have already started to emerge of reverse migration. Given this context, Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) and Working People Charter organized a Panel Discussion on Reverse Migration amidst the Second Wave of Coronavirus Pandemic: Challenges and Solutions. The chair of the session was Prof Arun Kumar, Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, and retired professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Australian human rights groups, UN official slam government's travel ban from India

By Our Representative  The travel ban and penalties on Australians travelling from India under the pretext of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has come under heavy criticism from the country's human rights organisations. The Humanism Project said that it is "deeply concerned" at the travel ban on Australian citizens returning from India, stating, it is nothing but "criminalisation of such travel under the Biosecurity Act."

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Civil rights group plans online homage to Corona spate every Friday starting May 7

Counterview Desk  A civil rights organisation, Rashtra Seva Dal (RSD), which claims to work to promote democracy, secularism, Constitutional values, equality and scientific thinking, has decided to offer collective homage for victims of the corona spate, which it says is both “biological and ideological.”

Pandemic impact: 81% stranded workers out of job, just 18% receive last month's wages

By Our Representative  A Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN) survey has said that just about 81% of the workers, who are either still stranded during the second pandemic wave or are in their homes, asserted they are currently out of job due to locally declared lockdowns/ restrictions.

Hindutva 'onslaught': Ayodhya is only a curtain raiser, Mathura, Kashi follow suit

By Anandi Pandey, Lubna Sarwath, Sandeep Pandey*  A common question asked by upper caste people, who form the core support of Hindutva politics, when opposing the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 or the policy of reservation in educational institutions, government jobs or elected posts is why should they be held responsible for the atrocities committed by their previous generations on the weaker sections (read lower castes) of society?

Capitalist trap? Pandemic severely weakens collective bargain of labour movements

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The coronavirus pandemic has already caused the colossal loss of lives and livelihoods around the world. It continues to create havoc in different countries like Brazil and India. It has destroyed livelihoods, communities and families. This global health crisis has taken a terrible toll on individual lives by expanding unbelievable levels of anxiety, alienation, deaths, destitutions, loneliness and loss.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Rejoinder: Assam solar power plant land purchase 'done in a lawful and fair manner'

Counterview Desk  An email alert on behalf of Azure Power Global Limited, referring to the Counterview article dated May 3 with respect to the land acquisition done by Azure Power for a solar power plant project in Assam, has said that the High Court of Assam had issued direction to maintain status quo in respect of possession of land owned by Azure Power Forty Private Limited (“Azure Power”) at Mikir Bamuni vide orders passed on March 5, 2021 and March 23, 2021 in Writ Petition (WP) No. 753/ 2021 filed by Azure Power.

Assam governor involved? Takeover of land for solar plant termed 'forcible, illegal'

Counterview Desk  A fact-finding report prepared by the civil rights group Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) has alleged “human rights violations and forcible takeover of land in Mikir Bamuni Grant village for a 15MW Solar Power Project of Azure Power” in Assam, stating, “State officials, especially form local and district administration, facilitated the illegal and unjust takeover of the land.”

Workers' collective successfully ran tea garden, why 'illegal' takeover?: Labour rights group

Counterview Desk  A West Bengal tea workers’ organisation, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), has opposed an agreement recently signed between trade unions and the Merico Agro Industries Limited to “re-open” the Birpara Tea Garden in the Jateswar Division of West Bengal allegedly against the will of the tea leave pluckers, who had formed a collective to run the closed tea garden since September 2019.

Model Gaon: Changing begging mindset to entrepreneurship for 90% of villagers?

Hira Lal By Utpal K De, Simi Mehta  The project Model Gaon was conceived on the basis of Dr Heela Lal’s experience at the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, where he was the district collector. In his brief time there, Dr Lal performed many successful experiments in different villages of Banda in the fields of agriculture development, women empowerment, drinking water, irrigation, etc.

Kerala human rights defender's 'crime': She sought food security for Dalits, Adivasis

Counterview Desk  India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), in a letter to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has sought immediate withdrawal of “arbitrary and unjustified” FIR against social activist Prof Kusumam Joseph by the state police.

Covid crisis: How India 'has become' an even more macabre version of Bolsonaro's Brazil

By Aviral Anand*  It will be considered no mean feat to outdo the likes of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. At every step of the corona crisis, he maintained a head-in-the-sand, denialist attitude. He pooh-poohed covid protocols and repeatedly played down the threat from the pandemic. He invested little to no resources in Brazil's testing and vaccination campaigns. As a result, Brazil experienced devastating loss of lives as the pandemic struck the country even in the first round of the pandemic in 2020.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.