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Showing posts from September, 2021

Communal menace escalates across MP as VHP ‘threatens’ to demolish Churches

By AC Michael*  The onslaught on citizens of minority faith continues in Madhya Pradesh. Individuals claiming to be members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) say they are preparing to demolish churches in the Jhabua district.

Laha Gopalan 'exposed' the myth of complete land reforms in Kerala starting 2007

By Our Representative  Mourning the death of Laha Gopalan, leader of the Chengara land struggle, Kerala, India’s civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said, he will remembered for leading a struggle which exposed the myth of complete land reforms in the State. Gopalan was 72. Ailing for quite some time, he tested positive for Covid-19 and was admitted to a hospital in Pathanamthitta on September 21.

Govt supports corporates, 'backtracks' on promises: Call to support Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), lending its full-blown support to the Bharat Banch call for September 27, 2021, given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), has regretted that even a year after the farmer's protests, “the anti-farmer, anti-labour, anti-people Modi government” has accepted not even one of their demands.

Us vs Them 'penetrates' society, be it Assam, Myanmar, Pakistan, or few Catholic bishops

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  On September 23, 2021, two civilians were killed and several others including nine policemen were injured in violence during an eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district. The so-called ‘eviction drive’ by the State Government is another blatant effort to ‘weed’ out ‘foreigners’ (read ‘Muslims’) from the State.

Economy in tatters, labour codes 'take away' workers' safety, benefits, right to form TU

By Our Representative  The four new labour codes promulgated by the Government of India came in for sharp criticism from several labour unions and civil rights groups at one-day discussion meeting organised in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on the issue of ‘changes in labour laws. Participants in the meeting asserted that under these new codes, many of the benefits and safeties accorded to labourers have been "taken away", while the right of labourers to create trade unions has been attacked.

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Elected governments 'resisting' police reforms directed by Supreme Court: CHRI report

By Our Representative  Marking 15 years since the Supreme Court of India laid down seven directives on police reforms in its judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others, 2006, well-known advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has regretted that “Not a single State, nor the Union Territories, is fully compliant with the directives taken together.”

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

Demand to restore minimum 30% tax on corporate profits, end all tax havens

By Our Representative  Top environmental group Environics Trust has demanded that India should stop the current race to reach “the bottom of corporate taxation”. Demanding that India should lead the way to stop the “relentless race to the bottom of corporate taxation”, it said, “In the past few years, we have seen dramatic reduction in corporate taxes with a concurrent increase in indirect taxes, tolls and user fees which burden the poor.”

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.

Govt of India's fresh 'experiments' add to delay in payments to NREGA workers

By Debmalya Nandy* The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) payments process has become no less than a technical conundrum which has not only resulted into workers’ predicaments but also diminished local accountability. The payments process is such that the workers will have no one to hold accountable for when their payments get delayed or in case of non-payments.

Safety net? MGNREGA turning into 'non-functional' scheme hurting rural poor

By Sanket Pandhare*  The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), offering up to 100 days of guaranteed work each year to rural Indians in every household whose adult members volunteer to do manual unskilled work, is the largest social protection programme in the world, in terms of the number of households covered.

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.

Boat accident: Assam engineers' body seeks total revamp of water transport service

By Our Representative  Commenting on the recent demise of a college teacher (Parimita Das, a resident of Kahilipara in the city), who drowned following the boat accident on mighty river Brahmaputra near Nimatighat in Jorhat recently, the State’s top engineers’ organisation, All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA), has sought a complete revamping of the State’s water transport services.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

As child workers rise to 160 million, Kailash Satyarthi named new UN SDG advocate

By Our Representative  António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, appointed Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate, as a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) advocate, a role that is integral to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Two of 12 top caste-based sexual violence cases from 'model' Gujarat: NGO report

By Rajiv Shah   The National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL), a civil rights group, has compiled what it has called “landmark cases of caste-based sexual violence” between 1985 and 2020 to mark the first anniversary of the notorious Hathras gangrape case, which led to the death of a young Dalit woman in September 2020.

Anti-Dalit atrocities increase 9.4% despite pandemic, Uttar Pradesh tops the list: Report

By Rahul Singh* Data on crime against Dalits and Adivasis in the Crime In India Report, 2020 draws a distinct pattern of similarity between rural and urban spaces. Published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), they capture some anomalies and interesting trends. The report also shows that a large proportion of crimes against Dalits and Adivasis involves crime against women.

Riddled with Brahmanical mindset, India's health care 'serving' corporate interests

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  In this second part of my conversation (click here for first part), Dr Manisha Bangar speaks about the health crisis in India how the government is trying to privatise things, and where our response during the Corona period was lacking. She also gives us an understanding of people opposing nutritious meals for children in the mid-day meal.

Hard times? Seeking to promote Urdu amidst 'efforts' to brand it as language of Muslims

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*  Those who believe that Urdu is a dying language, must come to the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), spend some time here and see that Urdu, like any other language, is on a fast track. For the connoisseurs of Urdu, it is a heaven!

Astonishingly sycophantic: Ex-Gujarat topcop on 2002 Godhra riots probe panel report

By Rajiv Shah  In a scathing critique of the 2002 communal riots inquiry commission report, released by the Gujarat government in December 2019 five years after it was submitted, the State’s former topcop RB Sreekumar has said that it “unequivocally” and “meticulously” takes care “to refrain from probing and taking cognizance of any deviant action of omission and commission by the State administration, particularly those operating in the criminal justice system, who facilitated extensive mass violence and enabled brigands to perpetrate anti-minority crimes.”

Power supply lines in Thar 'pushing' Great Indian Bustard to extinction: Researchers

By Rosamma Thomas*  Electricity supply lines pose a huge risk to birds and affect biodiversity, but there is little research about the numbers of birds dying of such collision in the tropical nations. In August 2021, academic journal Biological Conservation carried the results of a survey conducted in 2017-18 on 4,200 sq km of the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. This was the first comprehensive survey of this nature in the region.

Kerala Bishop raises love jihad bogey, takes stance 'similar to' Gujarat govt

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The bogey of ‘Love Jihad’ continues to be kept centre-stage! An insidious strategy to defocus on real issues plaguing society in India. Recently, a Bishop from Kerala directly accused Muslims for making ‘Catholic’ girls in the State, victims of ‘love and narcotic jihad’; on September 10 the CM of Gujarat (who has since resigned for other reasons) said that his Government is “dealing strictly with those who trap Hindu girls and elope with them.”

Bahujan patriarchy? Savarna feminists 'over-state' gender rights in Dalit communities

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Dr Manisha Bangar is a practicing senior consultant gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist, with around 20 years of clinica-cum-research and teaching experience. In terms of her medical qualification, she completed MBBS, MD and DM. She was a governing council member of the Indian National Association for Study of the Liver (INASL), and member of the Task Force for Hepatitis B and Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH) diseases of the South Asian Association for Study of the Liver (SAASL).

Americans, Taliban terrorists 'collaborated' to defeat Afghan liberal, democratic forces

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Many commentators from different ideological orientations provide a false equivalence of American withdrawal from Afghanistan with the fall of Saigon. It is false because American imperialism was thoroughly defeated by the revolutionary programmes and fighting spirit of Viet Cong. It led to rise of united, egalitarian, democratic, peaceful, and prosperous Vietnam.

Intrepid reformer reconfigures preschool paradigm: 'It smacks of factory process'

By Moin Qazi*  Preschools have now become an integral part of child education. Preschool, also known as nursery school, is an educational establishment that offers early education to under-fives before primary school. Preschools improve children’s social and emotional skills and enhance later stage educational attainment. They are a boon to working parents who sorely need better child care and pre-K options. It has also become clear that the best investment for future health and happiness was in the first five years of life.

Consumerism in India 'intricately linked' to stress on high GDP growth rate paradigm

Counterview Desk   Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, referring to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has reportedly said it is time to shift focus from consumption to conservation, insisting, if urgent steps are not taken to reverse the damage caused by climate change, a disaster is in store. “There is a lot to be gained and achieved in conservation, in minimizing our needs and wants rather than being in a consumer society," he insisted, adding Indian society traditionally created very little waste and "use and throw" was not a part of its culture.

Rise in farm production cost, inflation 'negate' Govt of India claim of MSP increase

By Dr Gian Singh*  On September 8, 2021, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced the minimum support price (MSP) for some of the 2021-22 rabi commodities for the 2022-23 marketing season. The MSP of one major commodity of rabi i.e. wheat has been increased from Rs 1,975 to Rs 2,015 per quintal.

Restricting protests: Gujarat government actions since 2013 'similar to' Taliban diktat

An anti-Taliban protest in Afghanistan By Rajiv Shah  Bollywood poet Jawed Akhtar has surely triggered Hornet’s nest. By suggesting that some of RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar’s ways are similar to the Taliban in Afghanistan, he has angered all those have adorned wear the saffron safa, including the Shiv Sena. While the saffron “anger” has been reported well across the media, every effort is also being made to minutely examine every movement, every step of the Taliban. One of them indeed amused me.

Sanskritist dubbed anti-Hindu for authoring books with Romila Thapar, RS Sharma

By Aviral Anand*  When a Sanskrit scholar, a Pune-kar to boot, is constrained to leave a list (a google group, actually) dedicated to Indian intellectual traditions, by his fellow countrymen, also supposedly interested in such traditions, one gets an inkling of the extent to which such people will go to purge public spaces of anyone who does not think like them.

Ram ke naam? Upper caste Hindus 'created' the demand for temple in Ayodhya

By Sahil Mital*  Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan brought an important issue to the forefront with ‘Ram ke Naam’ (In the Name of God). At a time when religious fundamentalism and fanaticism is on the rise, this movie brings to light the reality behind the thought process of people involved, both inside and outside such issues.

Inglorious end? SC dismisses Vedanta petition claiming iron ore mining rights until 2037

By Rosamma Thomas  Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal filed by Vedanta Ltd against a Bombay High Court order of November 2019 concerning their alleged iron ore mining rights for a period of 50 years, until the year 2037. A writ petition filed by a former mine lease holder, Geetabala Parulekar, for similar rights, was also dismissed.

Water privatisation: Odisha govt 'deals with' Adani group as local people suffer

Mega pipeline project being implemented amidst protests By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*   The people of Kendrapada district of Odisha are fighting peacefully for last two years to save their river Kharasrota. This river is the lifeline of farmers, fishing communities and other communities living besides the river. The Kharasrota river is the source of life and livelihoods for the people of Odisha in general and people of Kendrapada and Jajpur in particular.

Activist fights to overcome 'obstacles' in implementing rural jobs guarantee scheme

By Arika Roy*  At six in the morning in Araria, Bihar, Ashish Ranjan and his wife Kamayani Swami were woken up by a loud knock on their door. A family was at their doorstep seeking help after being assaulted in an ongoing caste conflict. The upper-caste perpetrators had filed an FIR of assault against the victims to add to the family's woes.

Govt of India's hurried environmental nod to infra projects faces a student challenge

By Milind Patil*  Goa is known for its beaches and pristine beauty, toured by visitors round the year from across the world. However, in recent years, it has created buzz due to infrastructural developments like Atal Setu. Despite the existing infrastructure, the State government was trying to introduce three major infrastructure projects, double tracking of railway lines, widening (four laning) of the existing National Highway 4A and construction on new 400kV power transmission line.

Youth can be activists even by stapling papers, getting photocopies done: PUCL leader

By Pramod Meena*  Kavita Srivastav, national secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a conversation with me has said, she has been fighting for issues of social importance without any boundaries, insisting, young students can and should contribute to activism in whatever way possible. "There are no boundaries to human rights, and so to activism", she believes.

Politicians, land sharks, smugglers, even murderers 'seen hand-in-glove with journalists'

By Nava J Thakuria*  Can the mainstream newspapers and satellite news channels be compelled to make their annual balance sheets public in India? Or will it be possible to ask the professional journalists to go for self-declarations about their assets so that they can question the financial integrity of individuals in other professions including in politics?

Depleted groundwater, polluted water bodies, environs affecting 'Gomata' survival

By Sudhansu R Das  The Allahabad High Court while hearing a bail plea of a man who was charged for offences under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act in the UP has said in a 12 page order that cows are an "integral part of culture of India" and should be declared the national animal. A single judge bench of Shekhar Kumar Yadav has reportedly said that a bill should be introduced in Parliament to declare cows the national animal and cow's protection should be included in the fundamental rights of the Hindu community.

Ahmedabad textile hub's 97% workers report presence harsh chemicals, fabric dust, fumes

By Our Representative  A civil society report based on interviews and focused group discussions with 95 workers – majority of them in the 18-35 age group – employed in large-sized processing factories situated in Narol, a garment and textile industry hub in the south-eastern periphery of Ahmedabad, has said most of the workers (96%) are contractually or casually engaged on verbal terms without any written agreements, with many of them being paid cash daily or on piece-rate.

Locked out? Only 8% of rural poor children studying online, 37% not at all: Survey

By Rosamma Thomas* The catastrophic consequences of the prolonged lockdown since March 2020 were documented in a recent survey of 1,400 children from underprivileged backgrounds. The survey found that only 8% of rural children were studying online regularly; 37% are not studying at all. Most parents want schools to reopen soon, as half the children surveyed could barely read.

Bhopal gas tragedy: Rs 100 crore memorial may 'expose' visitors to contamination

By Badal Choudhary*   Life may seem ordinary at large for Bhopal city, but for many, the nightmare of a tragedy still haunts. No one would have imagined that the night of December 2-3, in 1984 was going to leave a forever scar on lakhs of people in Bhopal. The tragedy had an impact not just on human lives, but it also left several repercussions on the environment and contamination of groundwater around the factory site of Union Carbide.

Apply anti-atrocities Act on Dalit Muslims, Christians: UN anti-race panel tells GoI

By Rajiv Shah  In a controversial move, which runs contrary to the current Modi government policy, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which falls under the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a new report has asked the Government of India (GoI) to ensure that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015 – called anti-atrocities Act – should be applied to not just those Dalits which are supposed to part of Hindu religion.

India must consider untouchability as a form of racism: Civil society tells UN panel

Counterview Desk  A Joint Civil Society* Contribution to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for the adoption of the List of Issues Prior to Reporting on India has regretted that despite the abolition of untouchability enshrined in the Indian Constitution, and a constitutional formal prohibition of discrimination on the ground base of race or caste, under the Constitution, Dalits and other communities affected by discrimination based on descent, including Adivasis, still face de facto discrimination.