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Showing posts from January, 2022

Rise of 'new untouchables': Veteran academics trace roots of Hindutva in Gujarat

By Rajiv Shah  A new book by two veteran academics, “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, perhaps for the first time traces the roots of inter-religious strife leading to Hindutva’s political hold today, pointing towards the role played by so-called upper castes in a State known during the Independence movement for its composite culture -- though not without strong undercurrent of majoritarianism.

Govt of India 'ruining' an institution Sardar Patel considered critical for India's unity

Sardar Patel with all-India service officers Counterview Desk  More than 100 former officers of the All India and Central Services, who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of their careers, and are currently members of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), have said that the proposed amendment to the cadre rules of the all-India services (AIS) “fundamentally alters”, and makes a mockery of, the delicate federal balance that the AIS are designed to maintain. Stating the Government of India this way is undermining Sardar Patel, to whom the federal structure of AIS as also the officers’ ability to independently speak their mind were critical, the ex-officials say in a statement, “The whole idea of the Centre not having a ‘cadre’ of its own but having to ‘borrow’ the services of an officer for specific periods at key senior management levels is destroyed if the State as a ‘lender’ has no authority on what it lends and on what terms and conditions, but the bor

NREGA: Demand for Rs 3.62 lakh crore as BJP govt 'intentionally ignores scheme'

Counterview Desk  Demanding "adequate budget" for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2022-23, the advocacy group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM) has pointed towards how funds for the rural jobs scheme are allowed to be dried up, leading to NREGA workers failing to get wage payments on time or even the stipulated compensation in case of delay. In a statement ahead of the Union budget, the NGO states, at a time when the pandemic has further pushed the rural poor into distress, the BJP government is "intentionally ignoring the programme", which is helpful to the economy, adding, NREGA wages would "increase disposable income in rural areas", which in turn help "boost demand and increase consumption." Text : The stress on the economy became evident, especially in the aftermath of the raging pandemic from the 7.3% contraction in GDP in 2020-21. The distress faced by poorer households has continued over a period of time with the pandem

Private sector 'failing' on jobs front: Will Nirmala Sitharaman focus on employment?

By Puneet Kumar Shrivastav, Ishwar Chandra Awasthi*  Budget is for all, every aam aadmi (common man) expects something from the Union Budget. The upcoming Budget 2022, of the Modi 2.0 government to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 would come against the backdrop of gradual recovery taking place after the economy was severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the impact of the third wave is yet to be assessed in terms of its impact, as the number of active Covid cases were about 2.2 million as on January 25. The Covid-19 pandemic has had profound impact on the economy as millions of people lost their livelihoods and slipped into poverty trap. This has created a formidable crisis and challenge on how to provide livelihood to those who have lost jobs. The efforts made by the government provided a palliative rather than making employment focused development approach. The country has witnessed a reasonably good growth rate. It recorded growth of 4 perce

High 18% GST 'untenable' as mobiles, laptops, internet services are no more luxury

Nagendra Kumar Muarya, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav*  Every year in the second half of January month, policy makers, media and researchers are found to be busy in deciphering what a common man’s expectations are from the Union budget. This question takes an important place especially now, as the policy response through general budget will not only the affect common man’s Covid-affected fragile livelihood but also pave way for faster recovery for the economy. The Onset of Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way of business significantly. Digitisation has entered in almost every aspect of our lives. Work from home, online class (not only school/college regular classes but tuition/coaching as well), UPI based payments (Paytm, GPay, Amazon pay, etc.), online shopping, booking of tickets (air, road and rail), online banking and recruitment as well became the new mode of economic activity. Mobile phones and internet connectivity have become essential commodities and services. Also, the government i

'Fear no foe... ills have no weight', said Gandhi's pet hymn dropped by Modi govt

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Outside the St Michael’s Church in Mahim Mumbai is a powerful slogan, “God will always abide with me, even if I retreat!” In many ways this creative caption sums up the raging controversy on ‘Abide With Me’ that has been on prime-time news and on social media for a week now! A recent Government (Defence Ministry) communique finds no mention of ‘Abide With Me’ in this year’s ‘Beating Retreat’ programme which will be held on January 29 as the culmination of the events on and around Republic Day. ‘Abide in Me’ has been one of the staple tunes at the ceremony since 1950 and was Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite! The spokesperson of the Defence Ministry did not offer any comment as to why this immortal composition was dropped. Plenty of unofficial reasons are being flaunted for doing so. Earlier, the Government had planned to drop ‘Abide With Me’ in 2020 from the Beating Retreat ceremony but had later retained it after a huge nationwide uproar. This time there is also a

Biodiversity bill 'undermines' tribal rights, ayurveda, India's federal structure

Counterview Desk  Demanding immediate and complete withdrawal of proposed Biodiversity Act Amendment Bill, 2021, a statement issued by the Coalition for Environmental Justice in India, consisting of tens of civil society organisations, activists and experts, has said that it is a “well calibrated and clear attempt to progressively undermine and destroy the sovereign rights and control that the people of India have over their biodiversity, bioresources and associated traditional knowledge.” Floated by the Bangaluru-based Environment Support Group, it adds, the proposed Act would undermine “a right that is particularly crucial for adivasis, Dalits, farmers, fishers, vaids, hakims, nomadic and de-notified tribes, and such other natural resource dependent peoples whose lives, livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing are intricately linked to nature.” Text : The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has proposed comprehensive amendments to the Biological D

Incomes 'vanished' during Covid, 94.3% Indians seek universal healthcare, pension

Counterview Desk  Fight Inequality Alliance (FIA) India, of which Oxford India is a member, has said that while every 8 out of 10 Indians want a tax on the rich and companies profited during a pandemic, more than 90% of people demand social security, right to health, and prevention of gender-based violence from the Union budget. Based on a survey   it carried out, the FIA report says, “The Union Budget 2022-23 can potentially provide several measures to fight inequality. The stark inequalities exacerbated by Covid-19 have started a global wave of protests to make the rich pay their fair share. The Government of India can listen to the people and make provisions for social security, health, and well-being through the budget." A note: More than 80% of Indians support a tax on the rich and corporations who earned record profits during the pandemic, a nationwide survey by Fight Inequality Alliance India (FIA India) has revealed. The survey took inputs of total of 3231 Indians from 24

GoI 'violating' NREG Act, unpaid wage dues to reach Rs 21,000 crore by March 2022

Percent of initial NREGA budget spent in clearing past dues By Our Representative  A civil rights group, Peoples' Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), in a report ahead of the budget for financial year (FY) 2022-23 has said that though the destructive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health has impacted the poor most, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has acted as a crucial shock absorber for the rural poor, the implementation of the Act is dogged by poor budgetary allocation and delayed wage payments.

A golden goose, GoI bent on selling LIC 'for pittance' without consulting stakeholders

By Thomas Franco*  In spite of strong opposition from all sections of the society, the Finance Minister (FM) recently asked her Ministries to speed up Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Initial Public Offer (IPO). Does she realise that this can lead to collapse of the economy over a period of time because LIC is a golden goose which is giving golden eggs regularly to the economy, development projects and providing social security to the majority of the marginalised people of this country.

Blunting Constitution? 'Secular' parties using communalism to compete with BJP

By Prem Singh*  Most spheres of Indian politics have been tainted by communalism. Looking at the current political scene of the country, it seems that just as there is a consensus on neoliberalism among the political and intellectual elite of India, similarly a consensus has been made on communal politics or political communalism.

Modi's Gujarat 'ignores' India's biggest donor of Azad Hind Fauj, Dhoraji's Habib Sheth

By Dr Hari Desai* One surely feels happy that the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate in New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79-year-old daughter Prof Anita Bose Pfaff feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital. In an interview with an Indian TV, Anita, who is a German citizen, mentions that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that there existed a plan to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that place.  Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led Netaji to leave the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma Gandhi Father of the Nation on July 6,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast, and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA). Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate. It was removed and placed in the Coronation Park, New Del

Did Netaji turn blind eye to Japanese massacre while in Andaman during World War-II?

Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani museum off Chandigarh By Rajiv Shah  Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ignore the massacre carried out by the Japanese army in Andaman and Nicobar islands during the Second World War? It would seem so, if one goes by the account of Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who authored a book in memory of his father, 'A Titan in the Andamans, Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani'. Dr Diwan Singh was tortured to death by the Japanese soldiers in the cellular jail in Andaman in 1944.

Punjab Lok Morcha call to oppose 'repressive' social order, bring in radical change

A Lok Morcha protest in Punjab By Harsh Thakor*  The Lok Morcha Punjab has held a meeting at the Teachers’ Home, Bathinda, in order to project what it called democratic revolutionary alternative model to the people. It stressed on active political campaign, opposing slogan of boycott and stressed on participating in elections. Speakers touched upon the repressive social order and how to galvanise people to their full potential in waging a struggle against it.

Channi dishonest? How civil society was intoxicated with Kejriwal’s 'honesty'

By Prem Singh*  On January 20, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi a dishonest man, and emphasized that Channi should not be viewed as a common man. That is, the patent of the common man lies with Kejriwal alone, and in this respect, honesty as well.

Is it time to celebrate India's 'improved' sex ratio? Reasons to question NFHS data

By Aditi Chaudhary*  The recently published National Family Health Survey (NFHS) factsheet brought cheers amongst the public and the government. With Child Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males in the age group 0 - 6 years) and overall sex ratio (the total number of females per 1000 males), both showing an improvement, NFHS-5 (2019-21) got applauded by all around.

'GoI dithering on promises': Central TUs back farmers' Black Day move for Jan 31

By Our Representative  Declaring its decision to back the proposal of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to observe January 31, 2022 as A Day of Betrayal, the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions, in association with several independent sectoral federations and associations, has said that the Government of India (GoI) "seems to be dithering on the promises made to the SKM in writing."

How marriages seek to sustain kinship, caste, race, class; 'control' property, inheritance

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  In the Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare defines relationships as marriage of true minds, where sovereign individuals love each other to overcome all impediments in life with the tempest of unchanging will. These voluntary, organic and humane ideals are institutionalised and domesticated to comply with the requirements of patriarchal, religious and capitalist cultures in different continents.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Agricultural labour, farmer unions in search of alternative as poll fever grips Punjab

By Harsh Thakor*  With election fervour at full pitch, some organisations are making effort to plant the seeds of democratic alternative in Punjab. They have reposed no faith in established political parties’ agenda. Refraining from giving tacit support to their candidates, including those put up by some constituents of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the main thrust of their programme is to expose the nature of the present social order, with the main accent on basic farmers’ issues such as scrapping debts, loan waivers, remunerative prices, land rights and communalism.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Cash transfer at child birth: Women end up paying higher at 'free of cost' public facilities

By Our Representative  Findings by two Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, scholars, Sampurna Kundu and Prof Sanghmitra Sheel Acharya, has revealed that despite the efforts of the Reproductive and Child Health Services, that provided free or nominal cost public health services, the average out of pocket expenditure (OOPE) per delivery in public health facilities has increased for many states.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Rejection of tableaux: Why's Centre so uncomfortable with opposition-ruled States?

Sree Narayana Guru By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Republic Day celebrations on January 26 will not have State tableaux from Tamilnadu, Kerala, West Bengal as well as Delhi. There might be possibility that some other States too would get the rejection slip.

Central, State govts fail to comply by SC directions on migrant workers: Petition filed

By Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj, Jagdeep Chhokar*  On January 18, 2022, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court (SC) regarding non-compliance by the Central and State governments with directions given in the suo motu migrant workers case. 

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

How His Lordship sought to 'undermine' Ambedkar, favour Manu, Chanakya

By Shamsul Islam*  Justice Abdul Nazeer is not only one of the judges with longest term at the Supreme Court (SC) of India but also the one, only 3rd in the history of SC, who was elevated to the highest court in 2017 (to retire on October 20, 2023) without being chief justice of any High Court.

Melodramic, escapist? 'Awaara' Raj Kapoor's most creative movie with socialist theme

By Harsh Thakor*  On December 13 we commemorated the 70th anniversary of epic film 'Awaara’, a classic in it's own right. The next day we celebrated Raj Kapoor’s 97th birthday. The movie pioneered the donning of the Charlie Chaplin image portrayed by Raj Kapoor as the tramp, who exhibited touches of genius. The moral of the film is that environment shapes a man's life and not heredity, which is projected in a most subtle and artistic form.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."