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Showing posts from April, 2022

Death rate at Gujarat construction sites 74% of accidents; builders assert: 'can't avoid'

By Our Representative    In a surprise revelation, Right to Information (RTI) replies based on Badhkam Majur Sangathan (BMS) director Vipul Pandya’s plea show that a whopping 74 percent of those who have been victims of accidents at workplace in the construction sector died between 2008 and 2021 in Gujarat. Just about 26 percent of the victims survived, revealed the details presented by Pandya at a well-attended meeting organised by BMS on the occasion of the International Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28. Obtained from his RTI pleas to various police stations, Pandya told the meet, which took place at the Mahatma Gandhi Labour Institute (MGLI), Ahmedabad, in all 1,685 accidents were reported to different police stations of Gujarat. Of these, while 1,238 died, and just about 433 could survive. “Most of the accidents took place in Gujarat’s major four cities – Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. Those who died were mainly Adivasi migrant workers, who come for work in cities in the con

Occupational hazard? 88.3% waste pickers aren't equipped to deal with landfill burns

Bhalaswa landfill site By Our Representative  The extreme rise in heat in the National Capital has led to yet another climate induced disaster. This time it was the Bhalaswa landfill. A massive fire broke out on April 26, 2022 afternoon between 1 and 2 pm. Yet this was not an isolated incident. This was the 4th major fire in Delhi-NCR. According to data by Delhi Fire Service, there have been four fire incidents in Ghazipur, three in Bhalaswa and two in Okhla this year. Consequences on waste pickers of such disasters haven’t yet been gauged. In December 2021, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group conducted a survey on climate induced disasters with the waste picker communities. As many as 80.9% waste pickers said that they faced occupational hazard during landfill fires as well as health issues. A media monitoring exercise by Chintan, known to be an elite non-profit NGO, claiming to work in the field of sustainability and environmental justice for the past 20 years, indicated

Politics of hate an enormous societal threat, your silence is deafening: Ex-babus tell Modi

Counterview Desk  Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end politics of hate, 108 former civil servants who have worked with Government of India and various state governments, have said that “the hate and malevolence directed against Muslims seems to have embedded itself deep in the recesses of the structures, institutions and processes of governance in the states in which the BJP is in power.” In a statement, they said, “While we are not aware if the current spurt in communal frenzy is coordinated and directed by the political leadership, it is evident that the administration at the state and local levels provides a facilitating environment for mischievous lumpen groups to operate without fear.” Part of the Constitutional Conduct Group, they tell Modi, “We appeal to your conscience, taking heart from your promise of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.” Text : We are witnessing a frenzy of hate filled destruction in the country where at the sacrificial altar are not just Muslims

Lenin believed Marxism arose outside working class, had to be taken to proletarian homes

By Harsh Thakor*  On April 22 we rejoiced the 152nd birthday of a person who shaped the fate of history in the 20th century more than anyone else. Vladimir Ilych Lenin defined a new epoch in the history of mankind by discovering the concept of imperialism, even as he pioneered the first ever socialist revolution in history. Lenin interpreted Karl Marx, developing Marxism to formulate new tactics and strategy for the world proletarian revolution. He formed the Bolshevik Party, which had no precedent in history. Despite Stalin, who suppressed dissent, the socialist state remained intact because of the firm grasp of Leninist ideology. The mastery of Lenin's teachings influenced Ho Chi Minh who the won war against French and American imperialism. His colonial thesis paved the path for the Third Communist International inspiring anti-colonial struggles across the world. Among the non-Communists who accepted Lenin’s ideas included Bhagat Singh. Leninism is not classical Marxism but Marxi

Oral account of how Narmada dam has favoured haves, 'devastating' Adivasi lives

By Rajiv Shah  A new  book , “The Struggle for Narmada: An Oral History of the Narmada Bachao Andolan”, authored by a former NBA activist Nandini Oza, has gone a long way to reveal the type of worldview held by the powers-that-be who wanted hundreds of villages submerged and lakhs, all in the name of development, in order to build what was qualified as the world’s largest dam on the perennial river Narmada. Based on lengthy conversations Oza had with two NBA activist-leaders, Keshavbhau Vasave and Kevalsingh Vasave, both from Maharashra, Keshavbhau quotes Gujarat chief minister Chimanbhai Patel as telling a meeting held in early 1990s in Mumbai with the intention of having consensus on the dam amidst unprecedented opposition from Adivasis, that the project would resettle Adivasis, living in “monstrous” conditions, “near urban areas” and make them “human.” A Congress chief minister in early 1970s, Chimanbhai became the target of attack of the powerful Navnirman movement (a precursor to

Don't conduct aerial attacks in Chhattisgarh, other Adivasi areas: Civil rights groups

Counterview Desk  Thirty top civil rights groups, under the banner National Campaign to Defend Democracy (NCDD) have asked the Government of India and the Chhattisgarh government to explain the existence of craters and bomb remnants in the forests of Sukma and Bijapur,  citing ground reports of loud noises and flashes of fire from the forest in mid-April. Alleging these appeared to be “aerial attacks, with drones or other platforms, in these areas”, a statement issued by NCDD, e ndorsed among others by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (V Suresh), National Federation of Indian Women, (Annie Raja), Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan (Bela Bhatia), National Alliance of People’s Movements, (Arundhuti Dhuru, Meera Sanghamitra), All India Progressive Women’s Association (Kavita Krishnan), People’s Union For Democratic Rights (Deepika Tandon, Shahana Chatterji) and New Trade Union Initiative (Gautam Modi), wonders under which law such bombardment was done. Pointing out that “India is bound by

Dear Stan, powerful wanted to silence you forever; they forgot persons like you never die

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Dear Stan, It is your earthly birthday! You would have certainly felt embarrassed and even winced at the thought of anyone wishing you, leave alone celebrating your birthday today! In a style which has characterised you all your life here on earth – you would have shunned and even run away from the very idea of anyone attempting to organise anything for you on this day! Today however, dear Stan, you really have no choice, for the simple reason (which I am sure you will understand and humbly accept), your birthday today is about ‘us’, about we celebrating fond memories of you, thanking God for the gift of you to this earth and her people, particularly to those who needed you the most and above all, trying to see in what ways we can internalise and actualise the rich legacy we have inherited from you! This is the day we need: your untimely death on 5 July 2021 left a deep void in our hearts and lives; some us feel orphaned and have still not been able to ove

Whither waste pickers in managing waste?, ask Dalit groups at Earth Day event

By Our Representative  A recent event, organised by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) with the help of Janpahal, Workers Welfare Foundation and Basti Suraksha Manch to mark the Earth Day 2022, has pointed towards terribly inadequate plans to have landfill sites for waste management and involvement of waste pickers in waste management. Consisting of discussions and celebrations, and pointing towards “loss of land due to lack of scientific management of waste and the role of waste pickers”, it was asserted during the discussion that currently are just 262 acres of land for four landfills in Delhi for waste management. If Burari, Shastri Park, Sukhdev Vihar are included for processing, then this figure reaches close to 300 acres. If the slope houses are included in the mohallas, then this figure goes beyond the minimum 400 acres, which comes to just around 1.62 sq km, an expert participant said. According to an estimate, this expert said, by 2050, land equivalent to 88 sq

Dalits of 1000 Gujarat villages to switch off lights on May 1 to protest Mevani's arrest

Martin Macwan, Jignesh Mevani By Our Representative  Dalit households of more than 1,000 villages across Gujarat will be putting off lights for 15 minutes on the night of May 1, which happens to Gujarat foundation day, as a mark of protest against the arrest of Jignesh Mevani, independent MLA and well-known Dalit leader. Assam police, in coordination with Gujarat police, arrested Mevani on April 20 late night, charging him of fomenting inter-religious discord on the basis of a tweet in which he blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for refusing to speak up to stop recent incidents of communal violence. Announcing the programme, veteran Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan said, in each of the nearly 1,000 villages, Dalit men, women and children would gather and sign a petition to the Gujarat chief minister asking him to ensure the release of not just Mevani but also take back all the cases instituted against Dalit individuals as also other marginalised sections for political reasons as par

Haryana mining accidents reflect 'high-risk' hazards faced by India's quarry workers

By Bharat Dogra*  Rockfalls on April 23 and 24 in Dadam mining area (Bhiwani district of Haryana) resulted in the death of two more workers. The fact that such an accident occurred in the same mining belt which had only recently witnessed a widely reported and terrible accident in which workers died and several were injured on January 1 this year would appear to indicate that the authorities have just not cared to learn from past mistakes. According to initial reports although mining had been stopped in the precise area where the previous accident had taken place, the miners had tried to make up for this by excessive, unsafe mining in other parts of the mining belt, leading to this latest accident. It is extremely unfortunate that this happened despite so much attention being drawn to the widely prevalent risks in this mining belt, the result of years of reckless exploitation violating safety and environmental concerns. On the morning of January 1, in Dadam area of Bhiwani district, H

Beyond religion? Why Rev Thampu's new book serves well as footnote to religious texts

By Rosamma Thomas* “Religious traditions are like the trellis that you make around a sapling to enable it to grow. But when it begins to grow, it reaches a point where it starts pushing away the trellis itself,” Swami Muktananda said, when he met Rabbi Rubenstein, who had begun to fear that he was falling off the Jewish tradition. The first chapter of the book “Beyond Religion: Imaging a New Humanity” by Valson Thampu, who long taught English Literature at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and served as college pastor and principal, is titled “Why shed religions?” “In comparison to religious leaders, unbelievers and heretics do less harm,” writes Thampu, explaining that those lacking in faith leave God alone, and thus enjoy a more robust chance of being surprised by the discovery of God’s love and compassion. Religions serve to mark identity, whereas faith is abstract. The invisible can scarcely serve as an identity marker. Thampu sees the need to outgrow religion so that the soul can wake

Bahutva Karnataka calls for coordinated all-India civil society response to counter hate

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Several citizens representing and belonging to a wider spectrum of civil society participated in a virtual National Consultation on Sunday April 24, 2022, to address and to plan actions regarding the targeted violence, hate and discrimination which has been taking place across the country. The consultation was initiated and under the aegis of ‘Bahutva Karnataka’. A preparatory note for the consultation said: “The year 2022 has seen a sharp upsurge in organised violence by Hindutva groups, especially against Muslims. The ‘Sulli Deals’ and ‘Bulli Bai deals’ which attacked the dignity and freedom of Muslim women, the genocidal calls in the Dharam Sansads, the misinterpretation of the HC’s orders in Karnataka and the subsequent harassment of Muslim girls, calls for social and economic boycott to the Ramnavami violence. “There have been open calls for mass rape of Muslim women, all in the presence of the police. Prior to this there was also violence inflicted agai

Is this revolutionary bigger threat to repressive order than those waging war in Bastar?

By Harsh Thakor*  Professor GN Saibaba is one of the best sons of our land today. It is hard to visualize a physically impaired person face and resist the iron feet of oppression with the same magnitude. The poems and the book he has written illustrate the nature and struggle against fascism. Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba, 53, was born in Amalapuram, a small town in Andhra Pradesh. He got polio at the age of five but got the first position in the district in Class X. Until 2008, he did not have a wheelchair and used to move by covering his palms with chappals and crawl. He completed his Master’s in Arts in Hyderabad and joined the Central Institute of English and Foreign Language to pursue Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English in 1991. He was first arrested on May 9, 2014, when he was working as permanent faculty in the Department of English, Ram Lal Anand College, affiliated to Delhi University. Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 for his alleged links with the banned CPI (Maoist),