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Showing posts from July, 2021

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people. 

Olympic Laurel awardee Prof Yunus sends out message of solidarity, peace, resilience

By Nava Thakuria*  With Nobel peace laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus receiving the Olympic Laurel award at the opening ceremony of 32nd Games of the Olympiad Tokyo 2020, organized under the shadow of Covid-19 pandemic with no audience on the ground, his motherland in South Asia incorporated its name in the history of Olympics.

Project launched to fight high malnutrition in Odisha's backward Malkangiri district

By Our Representative Odisha civil rights groups have launched a new project, which will cover 8,000 households under of Podia block in Odisha’s Malkangiri district in order to provide essential preventive medicine to the community through the trained village-based Swasthya Sathis (health workers) and fight malnutrition in the district’s rural areas.

Racist assumptions, stereotypes influence UK Home Office raids on 'immigrants'

By Aaron Gates-Lincoln*  It is no secret that the UK government’s current attitude towards issues in immigration are harsh and punitive based. Recently, Priti Patel has faced much criticism as Home Secretary for implementing a large range of policy that many argue is regressive and unnecessarily ruthless as she attempts to deter migrants from wishing to enter the UK. One method that has faced heavy criticism as of late is that of frequent immigration raids within local communities.

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

Meghalaya: Demand to release Rs 52 crore for unoganised workers 'pending' for a year

By Our Representative Taking serious note of the failure of the Maghalaya government's refusal for a year to ensure distribution of the Rs 52 crore promise by it in March 2020 under the Chief Minister’s Relief Against Wage Loss (CRAWL), intended to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on unorganized sector workers, India's civil rights network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it supports social activist Angela Rangad who has been on a protest sit-in at the gates of the Secretariat in Shillong on this.

How BSF, police, court turned Bangladeshi woman slave victim into accused in crime

Counterview Desk  Civil rights leader Kirity Roy has strongly objected to the manner in which the Border Security Force (BSF) , the police and the judiciary in West Bengal have treated a 35 years old Bangladeshi woman victim of human trafficking, who was subjected to sexual exploitation for 15 long years, has been declared guilty of violating the Foreigners Act, violating all human rights norms.

Madhya Pradesh tops India's 145 instances of 'anti-Christian atrocities' this year

Counterview Desk  A report prepared by the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), founded in 1951 as the national alliance of evangelical Christians of the Protestant denomination, in its just-released report, “Hate and Targeted Violence against Christians in India: Half Yearly Report 2021”, has said that an analysis of 145 cases of violence it has documented against Christians, mainly by non-state actors, “stems from an environment of targeted hate.”

Video documents 'bitter struggle' of Dang tribals working as sugarcane cutters

By Debarun Dutta*  Nearly two lakh tribal workers migrate every year from districts of Dang and Tapi in Gujarat and Nandurbar and Dhule in Maharashtra to harvest sugarcane in farms of South Gujarat. The workers are deployed by the Sugarcane Cooperative Factories promoted by sugarcane farmers who are a powerful political community. The workers are recruited by middlemen against advances that they have to pay back one and a half times after the six-month work season.

Demolition drive: Why aren't high-end hotels, farmhouses treated same way as Khorigaon?

By Our Representative A public hearing, sponsored by the civil rights group National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) to hear the affected citizens of Khorigaon, off Faridabad, Delhi NCR, has seen local people complaining how their houses are being demolished even as the entire area was converted into a prison through heavy police deployment.

Delhi's 97% ration shops 'not distributing' rations, 42% closed during working hours

Counterview Desk Ponting towards "alarming state of food insecurity in Delhi", the civil rights group, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyaan (DRRAA) has regretted that ration distribution for people without ration cards has stopped in most areas and public distribution system (PDS) grain distribution is yet to be started in most places for the month of July.

Covid impact on menstrual cycles? Young girls 'relapsing' back to unhygienic old-cloth rags

By Dr Sudeshna Roy*  Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the world in health and economic shock. Combating this public health crisis has diverted development resources earmarked for adolescents and the youth. India; having world’s second largest population; 1.38 crores as per UN mid-year 2020 estimation, also shelters the largest adolescents and young adult population, which at 243 million constitute 20% of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescent population.

Two child norm to increase girls' abortion, family violence against mothers: Prof Kundu

By Our Representative  Even as Uttar Pradesh goes ahead with its decision to introduce a bill to control its population denying government jobs, subsidies and the right to contest local elections to anyone who has more than two children, top demographer Prof Amatabh Kundu, who is senior fellow at the World Resource Institute in India, has warned, “Forced implementation of the two-child norm would increase the number of abortions of girls.”

Meaningful? Punjab govt's debt waiver offer for agricultural workers, landless farmers

By Dr Gian Singh*    On July 14, 2021, the Punjab government announced that it would hold a state level function on August 20 to waive the debt of agricultural labourers and landless farmers(pure tenants) of Punjab to the tune of Rs 590 crore. Prior to the 2017 elections, the Congress party had promised in its election manifesto and public speeches that the Punjab government would waive all the institutional and non-institutional debt of farmers and agricultural labourers of Punjab.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest govt move to displace 8,000 people, allow diamond mining

By Our Representative  Over 3,000 Adivasis reportedly stormed the Khandwa collectorate in Madhya Pradesh (MP) in order to “teach” law to district administration and officials responsible for “illegal evictions and assault on Adivasi families”. NGO sources said, the raid took place under the banned of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), which staged a demonstration against the forest department and the district administration (DC), Khandwa.

Positive side of Vaishnaw? Ex-official insists: Give him loss making BSNL, Air India

By Rajiv Shah A senior chartered accountant, whom I have known intimately (I am not naming him, as I don’t have his permission), has forwarded me an Indian Express (IE) story (July 18), “Ashwini Vaishnaw: The man in the chair”, which, he says, “contradicts” the blog (July 17), "Will Vaishnaw, close to Modi since Vajpayee days, ever be turnaround man for Railways?" I had written a day earlier and forwarded it to many of my friends. Written after taking extensive talks the reporters Liz Mathew and Aishwarya Mohanty appear to have had with BJP insiders and government officials (of course, all anonymous), I read through the IE story and sought a reaction from a former government official, who had also seen my blog and was happy about whatever I had written, doubting Vaishnaw would be a big success. The ex-government official, whom I forwarded the story, told me, while IE piece was surely presented a “positive side of Vaishnaw”, and that the new Railways-cut-IT minister is indee

Pro-corporate? New GoI circular 'blatant attempt' to control Adivasi lives, livelihoods

By Hemant Das*  The Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN) condemns the anti-forest dwellers circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the (Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), Government of India (GoI) on July 6. 

Why no human rights mechanism in South Asia, but other regions in world have them?

Counteview Desk A civil rights group, Peoples' Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), has floated an online petition  titled "Governments of South Asia: Time for the Establishment of a South Asian Human Rights Mechanism", stating that South Asian states should work towards the establishment of a regional mechanism for human rights at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) SAARC level in order to create better conditions for peace in South Asia.

When phone tapping rumours were afloat in Gujarat among BJP leaders, IAS babus

Gordhan Zadaphia By Rajiv Shah  While alerts were coming in over the last few days about a series of articles on how phones of “journalists, ministers, activists” may have been used to spy on them with the help of an Israeli project, Pegasus, finally, when I got up on Monday morning, I saw a Times of India story quoting (imagine!, we never used to do this, did just a followup in case we missed a story) the Wire, a top news portal on this providing some details, along with government reaction. While the first Wire story on Monday confines itself to journalists, including the news portal founder-editor Siddharth Varadarajan, pointing towards an “international collaborative reporting project” which establishes “the frightening extent to which governments around the world, including India, could be using surveillance tools in ways that have nothing to do with national security”, a friend in Australia, Neeraj Nanda, editor, South Asian Times, Melbourne, sent me a link of a “Guardian” stor

Shariat Council: Muslims must offer sacrifice 'as for as possible'; precaution needed

By Our Representative  Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s (JIH's) Shariah Council, in an appeal to Muslims, has asked them to celebrate Eid-al Adha and offer sacrifices “with necessary precautions”. Issuing guidelines ahead of the Eid this year , Shariah Council chairman Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari and secretary Dr Muhammad Raziul Islam Nadvi cautioned that Muslims should remember, "the coronavirus has not yet been eradicated.”

Political party run by Supremo, controlled by single voice 'always looks for' turncoats

By Sudhansu R Das  In a democratic country a politician is free to choose a party of his choice. If he does not like the party’s ideology or its leadership, he can change his party which is not an unethical political behavior. But, if a politician changes his party at an opportune moment for enjoying power, it erodes people’s trust on democratic system.

Gandhi Ashram eviction: Finally historian Guha speaks out; but ageing trustees are silent

By Rajiv Shah  Finally, at least one expert, top historian Ramachandra Guha, has spoken out on eviction of 200 families living in the Gandhi Ashram premises. Last week, I received an email alert from a veteran academic, Ashoke Chatterjee, former director, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, which happens to be one of the most prestigious academic institutes of India based, informing me about it. NID is one of the several top institutes founded when Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s Prime Minister. The email alert by Chatterjee, who is also associated with several NGOs, including Centre for Social Justice and Janvakas, quotes Guha, stating how the eviction drive by the Gujarat government in order to build a hi fi Gandhi memorial reflects the challenges faced by a Trust, which is said to look after the Gandhi Ashram, especially in view of the fact it is “composed of ageing men and women, who all live in Gujarat, and thus cannot speak out for fear that they or their families will b

New pension rules an attempt to 'impose' silence on govt servants: Ex-civil servants

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 100 civil servants, protesting against the amendment to Central civil services pension rules, have said this would curtail “freedom of expression of retired officials”.

Climate change: Can India be Vishwa Guru through glib statements as glamorous pursuit?

Counterview Desk  Shankar Sharma, a well-known power and climate policy analyst based in Karnataka, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has said that there are “striking examples” of accelerated degradation of natural resources in India, including “fast-disappearing natural forest cover and wildlife habitats, with “unacceptable level of pollution/contamination of air, water and soil.”

Citizens object to 'utterly destructive' activity for executing Vadodara riverfront project

Counterview Desk Several concerned citizen of Vadodara have asked concerned authorities to to stop immediately “utterly destructive clean up activities undertaken” on the river passing through Gujarat’s cultural capital in light of the National Green Tribunal order, dated May 25, 2021.

Will Vaishnaw, close to Modi since Vajpayee days, ever be turnaround man for Railways?

By Rajiv Shah  Ever since he was appointed as railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, I was curious to know who he was and how did he come closer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, most important, when. Hence, I decided to talk with some Sachivalaya officials in Gujarat in order to find out if there was, if any, Gujarat (or Modi) connection. I got particularly keen after I read in Free Press Journal (FPJ) that, a product of IIT, Vaishnaw “quit government service in 2008 and went to Wharton University in USA to pursue an MBA.” On his return, the daily said, “After working for top firms, he set up his own automotive components manufacturing units in Gujarat.” First, let me put the record straight. FPJ is wrong: he did not quit government service (or IAS) in 2008, as reported. He quit in 2010, after returning from Wharton, as the Hindustan Times reports . Apparently, he went to the US to do MBA, obviously after taking study leave from the Government of India, which is what many bureaucrats

Cops, outside mob 'let loose' on MP tribals, looted grain, cattle, money, household goods

Counterview Desk  Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a Madhya Pradesh civil rights group, pointing towards how in Khandwa atrocity and illegal eviction were “committed” by the state forest department in in the state forest minister’s home district, has said, as many as tens of adivasi families have been illegally evicted, their belongings were looted by mob brought by the forest department, and six people were assaulted, abducted and illegally confined by forest officials.

Bulldozers, cops 'used' to demolish 600 plus houses off Delhi, whither rehabilitation?

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* Demolition has continued in Khori village during the first monsoon rains in Delhi. Sitting in the comfort of her office, Garima Mittal, the commissioner of Faridabad Municipality, carried out the demolition drive.

'Sudha Bharadwaj, Fr Stan not Maoists': Deccan Herald told to remove 'malicious' ad

Counterview Desk  In a joint letter, more than 100 civil society groups and citizens* have demanded that from the daily “Deccan Herald” editor Sitaraman Shankar and owners to withdraw and apologise for publishing the visual connect advertisement in its Bengaluru edition on July 15, stating, it is meant to “vilify” human rights activists Sudha Bhardwaj the late Fr Stan Swamy.

Gujarat's 27% healthcare facilities 'mixing up' biomedical and municipal waste: Study

By Our Representative  Finding “serious gaps” in disposing of biomedical waste in Gujarat, a new study, jointly carried out by Delhi-based environmental group Toxics Link in collaboration of Ahmedabad’s Paryavaran Mitra, has found that 13% of health facilities in what India’s powers-that-be consider “model state” have not even tied up with a Common Bio Medical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF), a condition without which they are not allowed to operate under law.

Receiving 150 'taabars' per month, this NGO 'cares, protects, rehabilitates' child labour

Ramesh Paliwal with rescued children By Gazala Paul*  It was in 2007. Two years after he started working with street children in Jaipur, child rights activist Ramesh Paliwal founded Training Awareness and Behaviour Change About Health and Rehabilitation ((TAABAR) Society. Taabar means child in Marwari language. Till then it was more of a voluntary work in a non-formal environment. But as the intensity of work increased, he realised the enormity of the task, and a need for an institutional mechanism.

Today you're martyr for justice and truth: Thank you, dear Fr Stan, you'll live forever!

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Dear Fr Stan Swamy, On 5 July, you completed your pilgrimage here on earth! Thousands feel your loss everywhere; a light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere! There is spontaneous outrage because of what led to your death; most regard it as institutionalised murder! I am sure that you will not want us to mourn your death; as we look back, we also celebrate your life of commitment; the rich legacy you have left us all. We are overwhelmed with emotion; our hearts are full as we say “Thank you, dear Stan, you will live Forever!”

'Alarming rise in child trafficking': Kailash Satyarthi demands urgent passage of Bill

By Our Representative Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has demanded urgent passage of the anti-trafficking Bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament without further delay. This, he said, is necessary in the light of alarming rise in cases of trafficking and forced labour in the country due to further impoverishment of poor families during the pandemic.

Supporting bigotry, Islamophobia? Diaspora NGO opposes Australian MP's views on Yogi

Counterview Desk  Humanism Project, an Australian civil rights organisation with large number of India diaspora as its members, has a shot letter to letter Craig Kelly, member of Parliament from Member for Hughes, New South Wales (NSW), on his alleged effort to spread misinformation about Covid-19 and his “inadequately informed” views about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Forest rights law: How joint environment, tribal ministry memo 'ignores' tribal interests

By Palla Trinadha Rao The recent Joint Communication by both the Secretaries of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Tribal Affairs for implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 dilutes the very spirit of the Forest Rights Act.

#WednesdaysForWater: Land conversion in Buxwaha to 'kill' forest, water system

Buxwaha forest  By Manisha Sharma, Aryan Singh, Anmol Goyal, Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Sooner the correlation and co-dependency between forests and water is taken seriously by the decision makers, better it is for us to address climate induced rising water distresses. Forest (and deforestation) impacts the regional and local ecology and microclimate in particular, the water quantity and quality in the local rivers, wetlands and lakes. It is extremely difficult to restore the natural forests and thus, knowledge of forest is crucial to learn about water.

Inflation expectation goes up, profits are down: Survey of 1,300 business executives

By Our Representative  The just-released Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), which provides ways to examine the amount of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders, has said that one year ahead business inflation expectations in May 2021 shot up by 23 basis points to 5.43% from 5.20% reported in April 2021, adding, the firms' inflation expectations have been rising since September 2020.

Possessing extraordinary democratic trait, Fr Stan displayed absolute faith in people's rights

By Battini Rao* Leading social activist and tribal rights movement leader Fr Stan Swami was arrested for a crime he did not commit by the BJP Central government. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) could not produce any logical or legally acceptable evidence against Fr Stan Swami or others co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. 

Non-entity 6 yrs ago, Indian state turned Fr Stan into world class human rights defender

Jharkhand's Adivasi women  By Rajiv Shah  A lot is being written on Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who is known more for his work for tribal rights in Jharkhand. His death at the age of 84, even when he was an under trial prisoner for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence three years go, has, not without reason, evoked sharp reaction, not just in India but across the world. Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, said, “Human Rights Defender and Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing Human Rights Defenders is inexcusable.” In India, human rights groups have been sharper, calling his death an “institutional murder”, stating, Modi-Shah regime is solely responsible for this. While there appears to be little to deny in what is being stated, I wondered how I had great difficulty in finding out who Fr Stan was six years ago. My friend, a senior civil society activist A

Second wave: 92% NGOs faced funds crunch even as Niti Aayog sought civil society help

By Rajiv Shah  A new civil society report “Civil Society Support to Covid-19 Affected Families: Outreach and Resourcing in the Second Wave” has wondered why, despite the Government of India think-tank NITI Aayog soliciting support from civil society organisations (CSOs) for fighting the pandemic, “financial and legal regulatory frameworks” constricted access to resources, especially by small and medium size organisations, during the second wave.

Remoteness, poor teledensity, lack of roads add to Odisha tribals' disbelief in vaccination

By Our Representative  Salman Patamajhi, a 30-years old youth from the Kondh tribe in Bangadi village of Kotagada block in Odisha got vaccinated last week after a month of disbelief and reluctance. He had hardly any trust in the vaccine; rather he has heard about its alleged dangerous side effects.

Delhi HC view termed absurd: UCC 'needed' as Indian society turning homogeneous

By Our Representative The Popular Front of India (PFI), a well-known civil rights group, has said that the Delhi High Court "favouring" Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is not only unwanted but also "unacceptable." In a statement, its chairman OMA Salam said termed the High Court asking the Centre to take necessary steps regarding a UCC as out of context, as the issue came before Justice Prathiba M Singh was the applicability of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, in respect of parties belonging to the Meena community.

UP: Ex-civil servants protest 'extra-judicial' encounter of minorities, Dalits, dissenters

Counterview Desk In an open letter, 87 members of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), commenting on "complete breakdown" of governance and "blatant violation" of the rule of law in Uttar Pradesh, have demanded that "arbitrary detentions and torture of and police attacks on peacefully protesting students, minorities, dissenters and others be stopped forthwith".