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Showing posts from October, 2021

Non-SC, non-ST workers face brunt of delay in NREGA wage payment: LibTech report

By Rajiv Shah  A new report by non-profit LibTech India, which comprises of engineers, activists and social scientists as its members, has objected to what inordinate delay in wage payments in the rural jobs scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to the rural workers belonging to the non-scheduled caste (SC) and non-scheduled tribe (ST) categories.

Reduced by 34%, five months to go, 90% NREGA budget used up: Advocacy group

By Our Representative  The rural jobs advocacy group, People's Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), has taken strong exception to the Government of India reducing the total budget for implementing schemes under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the FY 2021-22, which “is 34% less than the budget for the previous year, even though the effects of Covid-19 have not abated.”

'Stop politicking': Indo-Pak civil rights group for urgent humanitarian aid to Afghans

By Rita Manchanda*  Afghanistan’s continuing political social and economic crisis and its deepening humanitarian catastrophe was at the core of the urgent concerns that motivated a host of civil society and human rights advocates to join the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) in an online conversation which took place recently.

Very little appetite left with western powers to 'engage' with Afghanistan directly

By Simi Mehta* The Taliban within a short period has managed to usurp power and make a mockery of institutions of honor. India has made investments in the country’s nation-building process is all but expected to be impacted by the Taliban. What are the choices that India has, how do we categorize them, can the international community step up the pressure to establish a responsible government?

Communal tension on Hindu-Muslim owned hotel: Rights group blames Gujarat govt

Neighbours pouring water to "purify" street to the hotel By Our Representative    Even as the Gujarat High Court has adjourned to November 17 the hearing in a dispute between the owners of a new hotel in Anand and their neighbour, a prominent oncologist, over alleged illegal construction, the advocacy group National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) has taken strong exception to the case pertaining to Hotel Blue Ivy -- co-owned by Hindu and Muslim partners – taking a communal turn.

Digital sabotage of ministerial identity: Open letter to the three ministers of Jal Shakti

A screenshot of the Ministry of Jal Shakti website By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Dear Honourable Ministers of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Shri Bishweswar Tudu, Greetings of the Day! This letter is to express my concerns and ideas on the digital platform of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, in other words, the pictorial representation on the homepage of the website, which must give the due importance to the Ministry’s actions and achievements more than anything else.

GPay, PhonePe, PayTm: International players' 'banking activity' sans bank license?

By Thomas Franco* Today Google Pay (G-Pay) owned by Google, PhonePe owned by Walmart, PayTm owned by Soft Bank and other payment apps have taken over money transfers. As per the report of the National Payment Corporation of India, in September 2021, there were 3.6 billion (3654.5 million) Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions worth Rs 6,54,531 crore.

Despite fatal silicosis, Gujarat ceramic hub 'evades' health insurance, minimum wage

By Rajiv Shah  Situated in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, Thangadh, known as the ceramic hub of India, also characterises by its industrial units refusing to pay minimum wages or providing necessary health facilities eligible under the law. In all, about 20,000 workers are employed in Thangarh and nearby towns in in about 225 ceramic units manufacturing sanitary ware and other ceramic items.

Modi-Biden bonhomie: Relationship with US likely to be more unilateral, less multilateral

By Simi Mehta*  Indian foreign policy witnessed sharp changes in the last few decades, with increasing proximity to the US being the most notable of them. That trend of a warming relationship between the two countries has since remained unfettered. On this line of thought, the Centre for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, organized a #WebPolicyTalk series on India-US Strategic Partnership under Modi and Biden.

'Human rights trampled upon': Activists, litterateurs, academics 'reimagine' India

Bezwada Wilson, Romila Thapar, TM Krishna By Our Representative  The Reimagining India public lecture series, initiated by the civil rights group India Inclusive Collective, has brought together one platform about 50 prominent speakers in order to highlight how, over the last seven years, there have been “consistent attacks” on the democratic fabric of the country, with Constitutional and human rights of people being “trampled with impunity.”

Ease of doing business? Govt of India seeks legal cover to 'divert' forest land

By Gopinath Majhi*  The proposed amendments to Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) vide ‘Consultation Paper on Proposed amendments in the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980’ (F No FC-11/61/2021-FC dated October 2, 2021) must be dropped by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC). 

How are Tripura Muslims responsible for attacks in Bangladesh?: 'Concerned' citizens

Counterview Desk  Calling it a “retaliation” of Bangladesh violence, several “concerned citizens”*, including Magsaysay award winning social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey and PV Rajagopal of the Sarvodaya Samaj, have said that the recent attacks on Muslim community in different areas of Tripura is a the reflection of “growing trend of using violence against another community.”

Socialism with new face? 'Astute' thinker's collected works negate deterministic notions

By Prem Singh "The aim of consumerism, which the rulers of these [socialist] economies had promoted, when they aspired to surpass the United States in the standard of life, conceived in terms of capitalist West, forced them to abandon their socialist objective. The consumerist standards of the Western world could be achieved only by providing very high incomes to a few in highly competitive industries. 

Misrepresentation of gender in media leading to 'systematic' subordination of women

By Arjun Kumar*  To examine the portrayal of women in media, the inequalities perpetuated till date, and access of media to women and girls, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi presented a discussion with Anita Parihar on Gender and Media as part of the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Sonia's 'bold' stance at CWC: Have the basic questions the G-23 posed gone away?

By Anand K Sahay* Sonia Gandhi seems to have settled the question for now: she is a hands-on president of her party, no question. Her bold performance at the last meeting of the Congress Working Committee on October 16 can leave no room for doubt on that score, although leading issues still remain.

Distant Amazon rainforest losing 200,000 acres a day is 'no consolation' for India

By Shankar Sharma* According to reports, the Amazon rainforest is losing 200,000 acres a day, even fossil fuel industry continues to get subsidies of $11m a minute. Whereas losing 200,000 acres of rainforest every day cannot be anything but suicidal for humanity, the fact that it may be happening in a distant land cannot be any consolation either for India.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Climate change: Indian politicians, babus 'not ready' to even protect 5% of land area

By Shankar Sharma*  A team of researchers from Arizona State University has said in a detailed study report: "Protecting half of the planet is the best way to fight climate change and biodiversity loss --  we've mapped the key places to do it". Few other studies have also come to similar conclusions.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Culture of 'violence-driven immunity' in MP: CJP writes to Minorities Commission

By Our Representative  Well-known human rights organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has written to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), drawing its attention to the repeated attacks on Muslims in Madhya Pradesh that have been taking place since August 2021.

Nehru legacy? GDP-centric growth has had 'no positive impact' on people's livelihood

By Dr Kamal Nayan Kabra*  Experience has shown that many counties adopt measures to go in for the growth of their GDP, basically in the existing framework, though also going in for, at the same time, new products and technologies and similar other changes. It is believed that by means of this process enough new job opportunities would emerge to meet the economy’s needs both in terms of numbers as also in terms of the requisite remuneration (wages) as also the supplies of the goods and services to maintain the economy on an even keel.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Tardy disposal of RTI cases, vacancies: Backlog in 26 commissions reach 2.55 lakh

By Our Representative  Marking the 16th anniversary of the implementation of the top transparency law Right to Information (RTI) Act, the civil rights organisation, the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) has said in a comprehensive report on the functioning of the information commissions across India that while three out of 29 information commissions (ICs) – in Jharkhand, Tripura and Meghalaya – are “completely defunct” as no new commissioners have been appointed upon the incumbents demitting office, three other commissions, Nagaland, Manipur and Telangana, are headless.

Sign of BJP setback? Yogi 'fails' to ensure separate High Court bench for western UP

By Sanjeev Sirohi* BJP appears on have made it clear that in its five year rule it is deadly opposed to the creation of a new High Court bench in western Uttar Pradesh. Today, the Allahabad High Court has just one bench -- in Lucknow, created by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on July 1, 1948. Incumbent CM Yogi Adityanath had thundered for a High Court Bench for Gorakhpur way back in 1999 while representing it as MP inside Parliament, but as CM he could not ensure High Court Bench even for Gorakhpur, leave alone West UP, or Bundelkhand, or any other needy region in UP.

Notify law to monitor 'brazen abuse' of preventive detentions, demand ex-babus

Counterview Desk  The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), made up of India's former civil servants*, has asked Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju to notify Section 3 of the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, passed way back in 1978 "to provide for impartial and independent advisory board to examine the justification for preventive detention."

Conceived as infrastructure, western approach 'not fit' for building Indian cities

By Arjun Kumar* A recent webinar on Rethinking the City, organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) at the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, even as stating that Western concept of city cannot be applied on India, insisted, urban areas were conceived as infrastructure, disregarding the actual inhabitants who live in there. Those who participated in the webinar included Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani, Faculty and Dean, School of Advanced Studies and Research, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design & Technology, and Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla and Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI. The session was initiated by Tikender Singh Panwar providing the context on the current state of city planning in India. He emphasized the need for more sustainable models in order improved urban habitation. Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani focused on two important factors that force us to rethink the city as a construct and a space of habita

As Afghan economy crumbles, West working out emergency plans for 'cash airlifts'

By MK Bhadrakumar*  The Taliban is getting many suitors lately. It is far from the “pariah” that the Biden Administration thought it was destined to be. During the past month alone, the Taliban received six suitors from the region and beyond offering courtship – the foreign minister of Qatar; the special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan; the High representative of UK Prime Minister; and the foreign minister of Uzbekistan who visited Kabul on Thursday.

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Power crisis: Indian policy makers 'failing' to repose faith in roof-top solar systems

By Shankar Sharma*  A numerous reports /studies/ articles on the true relevance of roof-top solar PV systems or SPVs are appearing in the international media (click here , here and here ). There is an ever increasing techno-economic confidence level that the roof-top SPVs can meet most, if not all, of the electricity needs of the entire world. It is certainly so in the case of our country, where the per capita consumption/need of our households is very low.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Chhattisgarh Adivasis' 300 km march ends: Demand to stop coalmining in forest land

By Our Representative  A unique yatra which began on October 4, 2021, in which more than 250 Adivasi residents from 30 villages of the Hasdeo Aranya region of Surguja marched under the banner of the Hasdeo Bachao Padyatra, has ended its 10-day march in Raipur. The villagers began their march from Madanpur village, covering the more than 300 km distance to the State capital.

Protests planned against 'hidden agenda' to allow corporates access to forest land

By Our Representative  The top land rights network, Bhoomi Adhikar Andolan, which held its core group meeting on October 11, 2021 regarding the proposed amendments in the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980, has called for a nation-wide protests on November 12 against what it called “irrational and unconstitutional” changes proposed in the law.

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.

Employment loss vis-a-vis pre-Covid situation 'neutralized', claim Govt of India data

By Arup Mitra, DPS Negi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav* The Labour Bureau, an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, has been entrusted with the task of conducting the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES) which has two components namely Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers (mostly constituting ‘organised’ segment) and Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) to build up a frame in respect of establishments employing nine or less workers.

Protests across India seek release of Gulfisha, others arrested under 'draconian' UAPA

By Our Representative In a major show of strength across India, feminists, people's movements, students, trade unionists, farm workers, fisher people, members of Adivasi, Dalit and Muslim communities, civil liberty activists, journalists, and academics joined events across India, expressed their solidarity with Gulfisha Fatima, arrested on April 9, 2020.

Article 370 abrogation hasn't helped curb terrorist attacks: Kashmiri Pandit group

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Lt Governor, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in the Valley, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) president Sanjay K Tickoo has taken strong exception to what he calls" callous approach" shown by the administration and security agencies towards "non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus living in Kashmir Valley".

India's weak fiscal position: Can higher gold reserves help stem further deterioration?

Counterview Desk  India Gold Policy Centre at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA), which has been researching on global gold markets working closely with the Government of India as as an advisor on various policy initiatives in several key areas relating to the use of gold as a fungible financial asset, has claimed that high levels of Central Bank gold reserves has had “positive implications for India.”

India's 55% firms perceive significant, sustained high-cost pressure: IIM-A survey

Costs per unit compare: % responses By Our Representative  A new Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey, involving responses from executives of around 1,200 companies across India, has said that the cost perceptions data indicates “sustained high-cost pressures”, with over 55% of the firms perceiving significant (over 6%) cost increase.

Time to 'renew' Church, throw open doors and windows, allow fresh air blow through

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  On October 11, 1962, good Pope John XXIII (now Saint!) opened the historic Second Vatican Council, fully convinced that it was time to “throw open the windows of the Church and let the fresh air of the spirit blow through.” At the canonisation of John XXIII on April 27, 2014, Pope Francis said, “In convening the (Second Vatican) Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the church a pastor, a servant-leader. This was his great service to the church; he was the Pope of openness to the spirit.”

Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, secular Muslims now insecure: Plea to Lt Governor

Counterview Desk An online petition floated by well-known human rights organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has asked Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Lt Governor to "protect minorities in Kashmir Valley", insisting, Union territory administration should protect "Hindus, Sikhs and other vulnerable groups" from terrorists, who kill seven people.

Gunned down by Khalistani terrorists, Baldev Singh Mann also fought state repression

By Harsh Thakor* September 26 was the 35th martyrdom anniversary of Baldev Singh Mann, who succumbed after waging a valiant battle against the Khalistani terrorism. On the night of that day, he fell to the bullets of the Khalistani Commando force. He was the Amritsar district secretary of the CPI(ML) Chandra Pulla Reddy group and editor of party magazine 'Hirawal Dasta’.