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Showing posts from 2023

Will India finally allow power corridor to Bangladesh to import electricity from Nepal?

By Samara Ashrat*  Bangladesh needs transition from conventional energy sources to ensure its energy security and long-term sustainability in the near future. Given the supply chain disruption followed by the Ukraine crisis, energy security has become a major concern for developing and least-developed countries. As the sources are becoming scarce and prices are becoming volatile, these countries are finding it difficult to navigate without cooperation. In this context, cross-border energy cooperation and revitalizing the idea of the power corridor can help Bangladesh to mitigate energy shortage. During Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India on September 2022, Bangladesh requested that it be allowed to import power from Nepal and Bhutan via India. The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) sought approval from the Indian authorities to export 40-50 MW of electricity to Bangladesh through India’s existing transmission infrastructure. In August 2022, Bangladesh and Nepal

Human rights leader blames BSF for migrant worker's death off Assam-Bangladesh border

Family members of the deceased By Our Representative  A senior human rights defender has complained of "barbaric, illegitimate and unjustified killing" of a young migrants worker, Musa Miah, at the Indo-Bangladesh border district of Dhubri in Assam, allegedly by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, claiming, "This incident again proves our stand that the BSF resorted in reign of terror and systematic killing of innocents at Indo-Bangladesh border and enjoying full impunity."

Demand to lift ban on Modi documentary 'not blanket endorsement' of BBC, British rule

Counterview Desk  In a public statement on censorship of the BBC documentary “India: the Modi Question”, a group of Indian scientists and academics, expressing dismay at the government's decision to censor the documentary and the actions taken by University administrations to stop its screening, has said, “Our criticism of censorship should not be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the BBC or of the British establishment.”

Tughlaqabad demolitions can devastate poor families, 'probably even cause' deaths

By Bharat Dogra*  Thousands of people in Tughlaqabad, Delhi, will become homeless if the demolition notices served by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are carried out within the next few days. These are working class poor people who pooled their savings and incurred debts in order to be able to somehow arrange their present shelter here. The threatened demolition is likely to take place in cold weather at a time when exams of children are close by.

Modi govt 'assaults' on rural workers' rights, moves towards 'killing' NREGA programme

Counterview Desk  Advocacy groups Peoples' Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) and NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM) have said that considering the estimated pending liabilities of this current year, only Rs 50,600 crore will be remaining for expenditure for implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). Consequently, they note, only 16.64 days of work per active household can be generated for FY 23-24. “If we consider all 16 crore registered households (HHs), the days will further decrease to just 10 days. Additionally, the allocation for FY 2023-24 as a percentage of the GDP is around 0.198% which is the lowest ever in the history of NREGA. This unjust allocation by the Modi government is an assault on rights of rural workers and is a step towards killing the programme”, they said in a statement. “NREGA workers and their supporters from across the country will gather in Delhi to protest for 100 days starting from February 6 under the banner of NREGA Sangharsh

'Worrying': Share of health in total Union budget declines further from 2.26% to 2.06%

Counterview Desk  The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a network of various peoples organisations across India working on people’s health issues, has regretted that not only the Union Health Budget 2023-24 continues to fall, the National Health Mission (NHM) and health research have been neglected, while the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) continues to be promoted despite low utilisation. In a statement, it said, the health budget falls flat “because it has completely overlooked the lessons of the Covid-19 epidemic and fails to allocate much-needed increases in allocations for public health system strengthening”, even as neglecting services for women and children and the mental health programme. Text: While the Central Government claims that “India has emerged a shining star”, “showing signs of robust viability”, we find that the Union Budget allocations for the health sector have declined further, making it the second year in a row to have witnessed sharp budgetary cuts in crucia

Nothing further needs be done: Sardar Patel on Nehru allowing UN to settle Kashmir issue

Ram Puniyani*  There has been overwhelming response to the Bharat Jodo Yatra in its final phase in Kashmir. At the same time, some writers and commentators have used the occasion for Nehru bashing, blaming him for the difficult situation created there. Some have used this to create a binary between Nehru and Patel yet again, stating that had Patel handled the issue it would have been ‘solved’. This understanding is not only na├»ve, accusatory but also far from truth. This only aims to further the BJP-RSS narrative on the troubled past and painful present. As India was to gain Independence from colonial rule, the princely states were given the option to either merge with India or Pakistan or even to remain Independent. Most of the princely states could be merged with ease. The problem remained with Hyderabad and Kashmir. Hyderabad was merged to India through the police action (Operation Polo), while issue of J&K became more complicated due to its geographical proximity with Pakistan

'Numbers gamble': Why no one should be thrilled with 12%, 33% rise in SC, ST budget

By Sanjeev Kumar*  The Union Budget 2023-24 is Rs 45,05,097 crore, an increase of 14% over the budget estimate of 2022-23, Rs 39,44,909 crore For Scheduled Castes, it is around a 12% increase; in the year 2023-24, it is Rs 1,59,126 crore compared to Rs 1,42,342 crore in the year 2022-23. For Scheduled Tribes, it is about 33%; in 2023-24, it is Rs 1,19,510 crore compared to Rs 89,265 crore in the year 2022-23.

Union budget 'mum' on relief to marginalised communities facing climate change impact

Counterview Desk  ActionAid, an international advocacy group which claims to work for a world without poverty, patriarchy and injustice, has wondered if the Union budget 2023-24, which is being acclaimed for providing succour to the middle classes, has anything to offer to the India's poor. In a statement, it said, while the budget may have "prioritised inclusive development", the financial outlay for ensuring it "does not show the zeal as hoped." Stating that the Finance Minister said Rs 35,000 crore revenue would have to be "forgone" due to a reduction in personal income taxes, "fiscal prudence is not enough to expand public employment, social security, welfare, education and health expenditures considerably." "The need of the hour is to raise revenues through the reduction of revenues forgone and innovative mechanisms such as wealth tax on super accumulation of wealth", it added. Text: The Union Budget 2023 has given significant

Civil rights fact-finding team seeking probe in aerial bombing detained in Chhattisgarh

Counterview Desk In a sharply worded statement, the civil rights group Forum Against Corporatization and Militarization (FACAM), New Delhi, has objected to the fact finding team of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) comprising of 25 members from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Delhi being stopped at Dobbatota town in Sukma District of Chhattisgarh at midday 1st Feb, 2023.

BSF personnel beat up youth, who tried to protect someone from torture: NHRC told

Counterview Desk  Bringing to light an incident of alleged  torture by Border Security Force personnel senior activist Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) in a written representation to the National Human Rights Commission chairperson has wondered, "If someone is apprehended due to illegal smuggling activity, why are they not treated as per the procedure of law of land?" Noting that in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment it has been clearly described why torture is entirely unsuitable in the civilized society, Roy regrets, "But India is yet to ratify it while these sort of incidents are repeatedly occurring in its territory." Text:  I want to bring an incident of BSF torture on a villager named Salam Mondal, S/o Gaffar Mondal, of Village: Noudapara, Block: Bagdah, PS: Bagdah, Panchayat: Bagdah, PO: Mamabhagina, District: North 24 Parganas, State: West Bengal, PIN Code: 74

'Woeful allocation': Union budget 'neglects, condemns' physically challenged persons

By Muralidharan*  This year’s budget has been no different as far as the disabled community is concerned. They continue to be condemned to the margins and neglected, high sounding rhetoric like “inclusive India” notwithstanding. In comparison to the previous year, there is merely a 1% increase. However, it needs to be underlined that the amount allotted for 2022– 2023 was underutilized by Rs. 196 crore. It is disturbing that the allocations for the Scheme for Implementation of the (Rights of) Persons with Disabilities Act has been severely reduced by 90 crores, from Rs. 240.39 (BE) last year to Rs. 150 crore this year, despite the mandates of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which the government has miserably failed to implement. It is the woefully inadequate allocation that is in the main responsible for the failure in implementing the provisions of accessibility within a span of five years as mandated by the RPD Act. Sadly, even support for important autonomous bod

Middle class bonanza? No benefit to anyone who earns less than Rs 25,000 a month

By Gautam Mody*  At a time when working people are faced with job losses and rising unemployment, inflation and the erosion of real wages and rapidly widening income and asset inequalities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government think it is just the right time to lower income tax for the middle class, the rich and the superrich whilst cutting the government’s expenditure on food rations, MNREGA, ICDS, healthcare and education in the Budget Statement 2023-34 (BS). They want us to believe that all this is possible because the ‘Amrit Kaal’ (golden age) has arrived. What has certainly arrived is the institutionalised capacity of government, under the BJP, to fudge and fabricate numbers hoping to create an illusion that all is well. The economic crisis today is deep and there are no easy solutions out of it. The truth also is that, for India, the economic crisis began with the introduction of demonetisation in 2016. It has persisted and gotten aggravated by covid, the supply ch

Unexpected? Food, nutrition budget down by Rs 77,500 crore, NREGA by Rs 29,000 crore

By Bharat Dogra*  The Union budget for the year has been presented at a time of growing concerns that expectations regarding an inclusive recovery from the COVID and lockdown related economic crisis have not been realized for millions of poor households, while inequalities have been increasing sharply.  There was therefore hope for using this budget as an instrument for providing immediate relief to the bottom half of the population (which now has access to only 3 to 6% of the total wealth, according to various estimates, and only 13% of the total income of the country) for improving its prospects for sustainable and stable livelihoods as well as better access to essential services like education, nutrition programs, health and sanitation. The work available under NREGA or the  National Rural Employment Guarantee Act can be very important for some of the poorest households in these difficult times. The allocation in the previous year was found to be adequate just for about just 40 days

Govt of India 'eliminating' rural jobs scheme: Allocation one third of NREGA demand

By Our Representative  Ahead of the presentation of the Union budget, the civil rights networks Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) and NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), have claimed that an estimated Rs 2,71,862 crore would be required as a budgetary allocation for FY 2023-24 for implementing of the rural jobs scheme under the provisions of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) if all the workers who worked in the current year were to be given 100 days of work. Even as focusing on other issues affecting NREGA such as social audits, wage delays and the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) app, the statement asserted that work and payment of wages under NREGA, which have been stopped for more than a year in West Bengal under the garb of corruption, must be resumed immediately. Talking to media while releasing the statement, Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, said, if the government sees NREGA as a demand-based programme, and according to the la

Indian diaspora watch, discuss banned BBC docu-film in Canada on Gauri Lankesh b'day

By Our Representative  While it remains banned in India, with those showing it being detained in Delhi University, an Indian diaspora group in Canada based in Surrey, British Columbia, organized free screening of the BBC documentary on Gujarat riots, "India: The Modi Question",  which has created sensation in India. The occasion was slain activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh’s birthday, which fell on Sunday, January 29.

Joshimath disaster result of colonial policies which 'deprive' communities' land rights

By Sandeep Chachra*  The residents of Joshimath in Uttarakhand are coming out in protest. Land subsidence in the region has put their lives, houses, and town at risk and impacted the surrounding land. As part of the relief efforts, at-risk families are being shifted to temporary relief centres, and work is underway on building transition centres, where they can stay till a long-term solution can be worked out.  Newspaper reports and colleagues who lead development work in Uttarakhand tell the stories of affected people protesting the development activities that have created this situation and what they see as inadequate relief and rehabilitation operations, as they are demanding proper rehabilitation in Joshimath. While these issues need urgent resolution, we also need to step back and understand the implications of this ecological disaster and the lessons we need to learn to deal with what is increasingly becoming our fragile planet. First, we must remember that the Himalayas are the