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Showing posts from August, 2021

Recalling Gandhi's warning of the dangers of 'abject dependence' on technology

Dr John Chelladurai By Rosamma Thomas* The Gandhi Research Foundation (GRF), Jalgaon, was founded in 2012. In its less-than-a-decade lifetime, this institution has worked to “preserve for posterity the profound legacy of Gandhiji’s life, thought and work,” says its vision, declared on its website .

Net zero pledge? India's 'ambitious' climate action falls short on walking the talk

By Sandip Chowdhury*  India stands vulnerable today, severely impacted by the effects of Covid and a fluctuating economic barometer on the one hand and an ecological crisis on the other. Scientists concur that biodiversity loss and climate change impacts could be more devastating than the current Covid crisis.

Why India needs to curb activities of religious ideologues who radicalize young minds

By Sudhansu R Das The USA’s war against terror with the support of Pakistan has abruptly ended after the US trained Afghan army meekly surrendered to the Taliban. Many US trained Afghan soldiers sold their weapons to the Taliban and ran away. USA has not succeeded in de-radicalizing the Afghan youth because it was treating the symptom and not the disease; it pumped dollars to Pakistan in its war against terror and Pakistan radicalized the young Afghan minds to root out USA’s presence in Afghanistan. 

Humans as guinea pigs: Whither systemic changes, transparency, accountability?

By Anushree Naik*  The struggle with illegal clinical trials and their cryptic impact on the victims, their families has been long drawn. The battle began somewhere around 1995. Clinical trials are the testing of drugs that happen on research participants, known as subjects, as a part of clinical research by pharmaceutical companies or a health tech companies.

Reason why people fear police officials: Govt treats people as subjects, not citizens

By Mukund Maheshwari*  To be silent is to be ‘anti-national’, believes Kannan Gopinathan , ex-IAS officer-turned-social activist, who has travelled across the country to 60-65 districts (~10% of the country) spread over 18 states, meeting thousands of people from different backgrounds and perspectives, observing agreements and disagreements in different parts of the country. During a conversation with me, he observed how different people think differently within the bounds of their own rationality framework.

Telangana tribal eviction follows 'rejection' of 92,000 forest land claims, half of total

By Palla Trinadha Rao Telangana is using brute force and dispossessing tribals from their forest land occupations without recognizing their preexisting forest rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006. The fear of eviction looms large over several tribal habitations in the erstwhile Khammam, Warangal, Adilabad and Mahaboobnagar districts affecting nearly one lakh tribal families.

Govt ‘ignored’ expert view on Chardham highway project, asserts panel chairman

By Sanjana Koli*  Hailing from the mountains, I have always felt privileged to experience the best of nature, the purest of environment, and the calmest places in my life. Over the years, I have appreciated the beauty that I see and learnt the importance of this environment and its element in the working of our day-to-day life. Most of which goes unnoticed. We get most affected when some damage is done to a thing belonging to us. That is why environment concern affects most the people who have either been in proximity of the environment or have dedicated their lives to it. One such person is Dr Ravi Chopra, with who I got in touch to share my concern about the deteriorating environment and natural beauty of my native place, Uttarakhand. A person born at the time of independence, who has patriotism in his blood, his zeal to do something substantial for the nation, made him bring out the First Citizen Report of India, an account of the current state of India’s Environment. When the natio

How Rakesh Tikait, constable-turned-farmer-leader, is still 'holding fort' along Delhi

By Narender* Rakesh Tikait is a farmer activist from the Muzaffarnagar of western Uttar Pradesh. He is the son of a well-known farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) co-founder, late Mahender Singh Tikait. After completing his MA from Meerut University, he joined Delhi Police and now holding the position of spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union. Tikait also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the ticket of RLD but lost the election badly, even lost his deposit.

Finding it difficult to change Dalit mindset for better prospects, 'respected' lifestyle

A Gujarat Dalit women's demonstration   By Shantanu Singh Yadav*  Even after 75 years of independence, India, along with significant macro and microeconomic issues, is dealing with a problem that lies at the very heart: Casteism. The first thing an individual associates to, right after being born, is their caste. This is a critical factor during admission to a school, marriage, renting/buying a flat in society, and even the rights performed during cremation. The result of casteism is heavily skewed with only selected individuals enjoying power at the helm of everything while the masses still facing the brunt.

Young political undertrial may face custodial murder 'like Fr Stan Swamy', alleges family

By Our Representative  Atikur Rahman (28), a young political activist from Muzaffarnagar, arrested by Mathura police on October 5 last year along with Masood Ahmad (28), Mohammad Aalam (37) and journalist Siddhique Kappan (41) while they were heading to Hathras to meet the gangrape victim’s family members, may face “custodial murder”, his family members have alleged.

Why none is recalling national reconciliation floated by Afghan leader Najib in 1987?

Najib with Gorbachev By Rajiv Shah  The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan has taken me down the memory lane to my Soviet days, when I was special correspondent of the daily “Patriot” and the weekly “Link”, both semi-Left papers, in Moscow. I landed in the Soviet capital on January 23, 1986. Mikhail Gorbachev was already in command of the Soviet Communist Party after the 27th Congress – the first major event which I covered in Moscow. Already words like perestroika and glasnost were in the air, with ideas floating around that these would be applied to the foreign policy as well.

Beyond Afghanistan: Rather than imperialist coloniser, world 'deserves' Vishvaguru India

Counterview Desk  In response to a lecture by well-known Marxian scholar Vijay Prashad, who is director of Tricontinental, originally a Cuban journal which now seeks to serve what is considers as anti-imperialist causes across the world though its website thetricontinental.org , Chandra Vikash, convener, GAIA Earth Sansad , offers coordination between Tricontinental and those who advocate what he calls the "global indigenous" thrust.

Despite invincible Rambo-III, US army 'forced' to vacate Afghanistan like in Vietnam

By YS Gill  One Deshbhakt Col Trautman is shown trying to put together a mercenary army for a clandestine CIA-sponsored mission to supply arms, train and fight alongside the Mujahideen and other tribes, to dislodge the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Despite being shown photos of civilians suffering at the hands of the Russian tyrants, the invincible super commando Rambo refuses to go for the kill. Rambo says he is tired of fighting. Enough is enough!

Gail Omvedt: An extraordinary scholar who researched on Phule-Ambedkarite tradition

Gail Omvedt with Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Bharat Patankar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Gail Omvedt is no more. She passed away on August 25, 2021 in Kasegaon. On August 18, I went to see her along with my dear friend Rahul Nirmal. Her condition was deteriorating and her partner Bharat Patankar was doing everything to serve her at their ancestral house in Kasegaon, Maharasthra, where Gail and Bharat decided to live and work for the people.

Committed, courageous, prolific writer who brought to fore Phule-Ambedkar legacy

By Vibhuti Patel*  We salute Dr Gail Omvedt for her revolutionary spirit. Dr Gail Omvedt, committed and courageous, prolific writer and powerful social scientists who brought to the fore Phule-Ambedkar legacy in the context of rising social movements in the post emergency period is no more .

US govt urged to recognise caste-based discrimination on par with racialism

By DB Sagar*  The International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR), together with the National Coalition Against Caste Discrimination (NCACD) and other civil rights groups, have submitted a policy memo demanding the US Department of Justice recognize that civil rights laws prohibit caste-based discrimination in the United States and integrate and enforce this recognition into civil rights and non-discrimination guidelines.

When there was racial tension in Singapore amidst controversy over Delta variant origin

By Atanu Roy*  “What is there in a name”, a popular phrase originated from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". May be Shakespeare never imagined on the looming controversy surrounding Covid B1617 variant. B1617 variant has been the most contentious and ravaging Covid-19 variant from the very outset. A series of claims and counter claims ensured, whether B1617 variant originated in Singapore or India.

Sewer workers not manual scavengers? Union minister lives in delusion, roundtable told

By Our Representative A roundtable with sewer workers, organized by the civil rights group Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) at Tahirpur, Delhi, has taken strong exception to Union minister for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale seeking to distinguish between manual scavenger and sewer workers.

Right to health? Govt of India 'coercing' beneficiaries into clutches of private players

By Raghav Agarwal*  The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare the Indian public health system and brought it to its knees. Visuals of patients and kin desperately searching for bed, life-saving oxygen or critical medical supplies have hogged international headlines. After decades of neglect and underinvestment, the unfolding human tragedy has taken the veil off the problems plaguing India's public health system.

Higher income groups accessed govt health facilities better during Covid: Oxfam study

By Rajiv Shah  A recent report, “India’s Unequal Healthcare Story”, based on 768 respondents from households in seven states, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala, Bihar and Odisha, has regretted that while all sections faced “a hoard of issues during hospitalization for Covid-19”, the experiences during hospitalization “varied across income groups.”

When anti-nuclear groups are portrayed as anti-nationals, as roadblock to progress

Yash Khanapure*  In 1984, a severe disaster occurred at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, and in 1986's Chernobyl accident was eye-openers for the world. The debate on the use of nuclear power sparked a fire. The people became aware of nuclear energy and its consequences.

UP govt's 'coercive measures' on number of children to worsen sex ratio against girls

By Shriya Bajaj, Sandeep Pandey* Recently population control bill has been in the light in India. Two states Assam and Uttar Pradesh have proposed Population Stabilization Bill. Also, many other states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Odisha are following two-child norm for the local body elections.

Incentivizing cops? Love jihad cases fabricated to 'implicate' Muslim youth: NGO team

Neha Dabhade* Recently, Maya (name changed) went to the Gotri police station in Vadodara, known for being cultural capital of Gujarat. Maya was facing domestic violence at home at the hands of her husband, Sameer Abdul Qureshi. The police instead filed a case under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 against Qureshi for forcefully converting Maya and marrying her.

'Don't recognise Taliban': NGOs, women's groups, to observe Afghan solidarity day

Counterview Desk Several campaign organizations*, including women's groups, giving a national call to organise Afghan solidarity demonstrations across India on August 23, making a direct attack on the Taliban takeover, have said that, today, "the liberties and lives of Afghanistan’s feminists, human rights activists, care workers, welfare workers are all in especial danger from the Taliban. Refugees fleeing the Taliban are risking their lives in conditions that display their desperation."

Successive UPA, NDA govts responsible for 'extreme stringency' of UAPA: Ex-babus

Counterview Desk  In an open letter addressed to the "citizens of India", more than 100 ex-civil servants, who are members of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), have said that the Government of India is violating citizens' fundamental rights by the arbitrary use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Vehicle scrappage policy 'ignores' repair shop workers' livelihood options, poor roads

By Sudhansu R Das The Union Government has launched Vehicle Scrappage Policy to scrap 15 year old commercial vehicles and 20 year old private vehicles; the estimated target is 51 lakh vehicles in the first phase. The government said its new circular economy would attract investment worth Rs 10,000 crore and create 35,000 new jobs. 

India saved from 'unsafe' Brazilian asbestos, but not ones from Russia, China, Kazakhstan

By Gopal Krishna*  Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) welcomes the Brazilian court’s immediate suspension of the extraction, exploration, processing, marketing, transport and export of asbestos produced. The 25 page long decision of the court located in the Brazilian State of Goiás is consistent with the decision of the Brazilian Supreme Court. In 2017, decisions of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) recognized the unconstitutionality of Article 2 of Federal Law No. 9,055/95, which allowed the extraction, processing, transportation, industrialization and export of asbestos of chrysotile variety. The order was communicated by Federal Public Prosecutor's Office on August 16, 2021. India is one of the key consumers of Brazilian asbestos. It is noteworthy that both the Brazilian decisions are consistent with the 24 page long verdict of Supreme Court of India in Consumer Education & Research Centre (CERC) v Union of India (1995) authored by Justice K Ramaswamy as part

Medium of teaching: Majority Kerala migrant children 'favour' Malayalam, parents English

By Vignesh M*  At a time when migrant children are transitioning their education through a difficult phase, the education policy discussions were primarily on providing di gital accessibility. However, non-coordinated and unplanned efforts altogether avoided the discussions on the medium of instruction (MoI) that critically affects the learning of migrant children.

SC pulls up state govts for 'choking' peoples' right to know: Info Commission vacancies

By Anjali Bhardwaj, Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd), Amrita Johri* On August 18, 2021, a petition regarding delay in appointment of information commissioners under the RTI Act was heard by the Supreme Court. The bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari heard the matter. During the hearing, it was pointed out that despite the judgment of the SC, the Union of India and several states had failed to fill the vacancies in the information commission leading to a large number of pending cases and long delays in the disposal of appeals/complaints.

National interest? Modi govt's new Afghan policy 'reflects' hostility to Muslims, Islam

Counterview Desk The New Socialist Initiative (NSI), a Trotskyite political group based in Bengaluru, has said in a statement that the Government of India is likely to shed "crocodile tears for the Afghan people", but, like other governments around the world, "are in fact only motivated by the crude and amoral considerations of realpolitik."  Insisting that "it is the good of the Afghan people, not our supposed 'national interest', that must be our point of departure for reflecting on what we must support and oppose", in a statement, distributed by well-known political commentator Ram Puniyani, NSI demanded,  "There should be no restriction to those seeking refuge or asylum and adequate provision be made for them to stay or relocate to where they can."  Pointing out that India was and remains a non-party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol which "rejects refoulement (forcible return of refugees to their places of di

Jamaat: Taliban must protect life, property of all, including minorities, women's rights

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), considered the liberal face of Islamic political groups in India, lending its support to the the new change in Afghanistan, has hoped that they will end "years of unrest and bloodshed" in the country and "restore peace and order in the region and help to reinstate the rights of the Afghan people."

What will India gain if it also follows the path of Gen Zia? Of partition horrors day

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  India is much older than 75 years. Hence our leaders need to speak the language of maturity and reasoning. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and his government are least bothered about governance and more about elections. To declare August 14 as the 'partition horrors day’ is nothing but a deliberate effort to create an atmosphere of mistrust and disharmony. We all know the horrors of partition and there are issues which can be discussed.

Why India's response to Covid was in striking contrast to the reaction against TB

By Nihir Gulati* On January 16, 2021, the first-ever dose of the Covid vaccine was administered in India. With the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare claiming to have administered both doses to a mere 10% of India's 94.5 crore adult population, I reached out to Bobby Ramakant, director, for policy and communications at Citizen News Service (CNS), to gain a deeper insight into the snail-like pace of covid vaccine administration in the country.

US NGO: Artificial quartz countertop export spike leading to silicosis risks in India

Counterview Desk  The Occupational Knowledge International ( OK International ), a US-based NGO that works to build capacity in developing countries to identify, monitor, and mitigate environmental and occupational exposures to hazardous materials in order to protect public health and the environment, has raised the alarm that the rise of a new export industry in India may lead to “significant health risks” in the country.

'Stop supplying military technology': Indian PSU advised to snap ties with Myanmar junta

Counterview Desk Hannah Greep of the international BankTrack, an international tracking, campaigning and CSO support organisation targeting private sector commercial banks and the activities they finance, in a recent report has identified several banks and companies, including those from India, which have ties with the Myanmar junta.

Cinematic perspective of 'Mimi': Why 'bias' of commercial surrogacy must be smashed

By Gajanan Khergamker*  Perception, almost always, has a symbiotic relation with perspective. One shapes the other and only in a manner that one can. A person, whose perception is honed, over time and with experience, is perceived as one possessing an exhaustive perspective on the issue. That the perspective is subjective doesn’t matter in the least to a homogenous audience, with views similarly coloured, which conveniently considers it entirely objective.

Call to 'refocus' on WASH in arsenic-affected areas of Assam, Bihar to fight Covid-19

By Prithvi R Bommaraboyina*  India as whole has more than 60 million people prone to disease, disability and death by consumption of arsenic and fluoride contaminated water. As of now the world is undergoing a critical Covid-19 health crisis , the risk is future elevated in Bihar and Assam, by the natural disaster, viz., flood and migrant labour movement.

Impact of lockdown? 64% rural children may drop out: MPs apprised of new danger

By Our Representative  The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, a civil rights group, has shared its concerns on existing educational scenario with Members of Parliament (MPs), telling them about the need to take a decision to send children back to school with adequate protection, even as underlining how education and social protection of children have been severely compromised in the current scenario.

School lockdown to cost India $400 billion, yet national education budget 'cut' in 2021

Counterview Desk  The civil rights group Right to Education (RTE) Forum, even as insisting on the need to implement a list of demands it has worked out for overcoming the huge gaps in education, has said that children suffer from "psychological trauma", regretting, there is "loss of psychosocial support for those already vulnerable.

Politics of 'hate, divisiveness' in posh Delhi sub-city, Dwarka, 'polarize' residents

Counterview Desk In a suprise move, around 100 residents * of a huge posh Delhi locality, Dwarka, have objected to what they call "communal contents of the letter" written by a "small group", the All Dwarka Residents Federation (ADRF), to the lieutenant governor of Delhi protesting against a Haj House on government land. The land was allocated in 2008.

NGO appeal to intensify campaign to repeal 'draconian' laws, assert right to question, bail

Counterview Desk As many as 172 voluntary organisations have called for country-wide action to “save democracy”. In a statement issued on the eve of the 75th Independence day, August 15, 2021, they insisted on the need to “intensifying the campaign to defend the right to dissent”, and campaign for repeal of the sedition law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other “repressive" Central and State laws.

Ayodhya, Kumbh: 85% people wanted sacred places closed, 50% 'favoured' lockdown

By Rajiv Shah  A new Covid survey report, published by well-known human rights organisation Anhad, has said that 84.7 per cent of 2,243 respondents said it was necessary for all religious places to be closed down during the second wave of Covid-19. In sharp contrast, only 49.5 per cent supported the lockdown, with 37.5 per cent saying they were “unhappy” with it, insisting, it created problems instead of presenting a solution, 36.7 percent reported loss of earning and 32.5 percent said their freedom to move was curtailed.

Time to save election expenditure? Needed: Honest, educated, efficient political 'anti-hero'

By Sudhansu R Das  Political parties in India spend massive expenditures during election campaigns. The 2019 Lok Sabha election was the world’s most expensive election; a report by the Centre for Media Studies shows a huge amount of $8 billion was spent to conduct the 2019 Lok Sabha election. An authentic documentation of the election expenditure since independence is not available; every Indian deserves to know the expenditure incurred by political parties during election since independence.

Proposed popular actions to resonate Tilak's Swaraj is My Birthright, Gandhi’s Do or Die?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The institutional murder of 84-year-old Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy, who died on July 5, 2021 while still in judicial custody, has shaken the very foundations of democracy in India. The importance and the urgency to defend democracy and all that is precious in the Constitution of India against repressive and anti-people laws, is perhaps felt today, as never before.

Pegasus: Civil rights leaders demand live streaming of Supreme Court proceedings

Counterview Desk  Well known civil rights groups, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, has sought live web cast of hearing in the Pegasus case.