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Showing posts from August, 2022

'Cost pressure decreasing': IIM-A survey reveals early signs of economic recovery

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A’s) Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which examines the amount of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders about their inflation expectations, has said that while the past five months’ survey had found around four-fifths of the firms reporting ‘much less than or somewhat less than normal’ profit, the latest round in June suggested that profit expectations are beginning to show “early signs of optimism.” Stating that the cost perceptions data indicates “persistence of high-cost pressures”, with over 65% of the participating firms in the survey “perceive significant (over 6%) cost increase for the consecutive four months”, the BIES report, however, said, “Percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined sharply. Over 25% of the firms in June 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 34% recorded in

Draft notification: MoEF&CC should 'critically protect' eco-sensitive Western Ghats

Counterview Desk  In a detailed representation to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Shankar Sharma, power and climate policy analyst, commentin on the draft gazette notification of the MoEF&CC dated July 6, 2022 on the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) of the Western Ghats (WGs), has said that the political class, having vested interests in Karnataka, has been opposing such a move for many years. Stating that there is no “rational basis to do so”, and stating that the opponents do not even seem to have even read the recommendations of Dr Kasturi Rangan committee report or the actual draft notification itself, Sharma underscores, the only aim of the vested interests, who have “unauthorisedly occupied massive pieces of forest lands”, to continue to do on in near. “These vested interests are continuing to be ignorant of the fact that Western Ghats not only harbour rich biodiversity of critical importance to our people, but also support

Char Dham roads in Uttarakhand burying natural water ways as boulders rain down

By Bharat Dogra*  On June 7, thirteen passengers were killed when a bus plying on Shainshar-Kullu road, in Sainj Valley of Himachal Pradesh, rolled down a hill. The high death toll was caused by at least two avoidable reasons which are often seen in hilly areas. Firstly, there was delay in relief and rescue. Secondly, a landslide had thrown boulders and stones on the road but there was delay in clearing the rubble, forcing vehicles to negotiate a narrow edge. In February in Champawat district of Uttarakhand, 14 persons died when a pick-up vehicle fell into a gorge. In May there were several fatal accidents in the state, including those involving pilgrims and tourists. These recent accidents provide only some indication of the exceptionally high toll of human lives in road accidents in the Himalayan region. In just one state Himachal Pradesh, over 11,000 people died in more than 29,000 accidents during the last decade or so, while over 50,000 were injured. Injuries related to road acci

Multi-crore NRC updation scam? Awaited: Assam media's self-cleaning mechanism

By Nava Thakuria  If some editor-journalists are allegedly involved in a financial scam, shouldn't the people get an opportunity to identify them? As the mainstream newspapers and news channels of Assam are avoiding the issue in their coverage, how come the actual picture will come to the public domain? If the mainstream media outlets intentionally kill the news, reasons best known to the editors, should the social media users take a lead? By now a number of senior journalists (with experience in print journalism for many decades) have highlighted the issue in social media. Their message is loud and clear- identify the corrupt television journalists who grabbed a huge amount of money which is actually meant for thousands of Assamese professionals. It all began when a second first information report (FIR) was filed by the outgoing State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) against his predecessor alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the 1951 NRC in A

'Insult to Ambedkar's anti-untouchability mission': brass coin yatra forced to return

By Our Representative  The anti-untouchability caravan led by top Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan, stopped about five kilometres inside Haryana, allegedly on instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has been forced to begin its return journey after failing to be allowed to proceed further to Delhi. It will reach Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon. On crossing the Haryana border and reaching Shahjahanpur, the caravan, consisting of a huge 1,111 kg brass coin having the photograph of Dr BR Ambedkar on one side and Lord Buddha on the other about 25 lakh one rupee coins and a huge Ambadkar statue, was stopped on August 7 evening by a large posse of the state police, which also put up barricades. Consisting of six buses with 350 Dalit activists and four trucks loaded with the huge brass coin, the Ambedkar statue, and 25 lakh one rupee coins, the activists sat for the whole day on dharna on August 8. Kirit Rathod, a senior activist, termed the refusal of the

Kailash Satyarthi NGO floats new centre in Delhi to 'empower' underprivileged children

By Our Representative  A voluntary organisation linked with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported NGO has floated a unique children’s resource centre at Sanjay Camp, Chankyapuri, New Delhi, in order to facilitate in imparting remedial education, recreational training and holistic development of children of around 2,500 under-privileged slum-dwelling families. Virender Singh Kadian, MLA of Delhi Cantonment, inaugurated the centre, which is called Shaheed Kalu Bal Vikas Kendra. The resource centre is in memory of Kalu Kumar, who died at an young age serving and working towards the development of under-privileged children, said an NGO source. A firebrand activist, Kalu Kumar was trafficked from Bihar to the carpet manufacturing belt of Allahabad when he was six. He was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan at the age of 10. A bright student, Kalu he covered up the lost ground very quickly and grew up to become a leader fighting for the rights of other child slaves at Bal Ashram. In

Guru Nanak's teachings relevant today, as world is at war with itself: Kailash Satyarthi

By Our Representative  Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in a message on the unveiling ceremony of the book, “The Guru: Guru Nanak’s Saakhis”, has said that “compassion is the central theme of Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings. His world view is rational, liberal and humane”. “He was a firm advocate of equality and was of the view that ‘he who regards all as equals is truly religious’,” said Satyarthi. The new book is authored by retired civil servant, Rajni Sekhri Sibal. The Nobel laureate could not join on the unveiling of the book owing to the rising Covid cases in New Delhi. Satyarthi said, short stories about Guru Nanak provide an insight into the life and teachings of a wise, rational and compassionate spiritual leader who walked this earth five centuries ago. He added, Guru Nanak’s teachings were radical and extremely relevant in the stratified society of his times, since at present we are living in “a world that is at war with itself”. According to Satyarthi, the stories expr

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

US rights groups claim 'continued violation' of basic freedoms in J&K since August 2019

By Our Representative  Top US-based non-profit, Human Rights Watch (HRW), headquartered in New York, and the Washington DC-based Indian diaspora group, Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), recalling the abrogation of Article 370 three years ago, have taken strong exception to "continued restrictions" on free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights in Jammu and Kashmir. Claiming that after revoking the region’s special autonomous status on August 5, 2019, the government’s “repressive policies and failure to investigate and prosecute alleged security force abuses have increased insecurity among Kashmiris”, in a statement, HRW said, “The government action was accompanied by serious rights violations including arbitrary detention of hundreds of people, a total communications blackout, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement and peaceful assembly.” It added, “Since then, the authorities have released many of the detainees and restored the internet, but have

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training

Coastal industry projects affect livelihood: Gujarat fisher leaders seek land rights

By Our Representative  Raising a series of demands following a meeting of the Samast Machimaar Samaj (Gujarat), Gujarat's small fisherfolk have insisted that they should be entitled to land rights over the sea coast, pointing out, projects along the coastal regions "adversely affect" their livelihood, a fact overlooked by policy makers. Issues discussed at the meeting held in Ahmedabad included clean drinking water at the fishing ports, angandwadis for children, schools near fishing ports, electricity connection, transportation facilities at ports, connection of roads from ports to their villages and main roads, removal of taxes imposed on diesel, rapid implementation of diesel subsidies for boats, kerosene supply to outboard motor boats, and so on. They also discussed rapid registration of boats following a complete survey, fish market facilities for women and cold storage facilities for fish catch, asserting, these issues and demands would be soon placed before the st

NREGA workers: Pending wages worth Rs 6,800 crore, 14 states run negative balance

By Our Representative  Three-day dharna of the rural jobs guarantee scheme workers, organised by the civil rights group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, ended at Jantar Mantar in Delhi highlighting as many as 14 states are running a negative balance on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) funds, and 64% of the budget for this financial has already been spent. Speaking on the occasion, workers said, more than Rs 6,800 crore are due in wages to workers only for this year, and no payments have been cleared in West Bengal since December 2021. Workers from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh added, for weeks they work without pay, causing difficulty and distress to their families. Objecting to the National Mobile Monitoring System application and other technological interventions for registration in NREGA, James Herenj, an activist with the Jharkhand NREGA Watch, spoke about non-functional, non-funded social audit units across states.

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a