Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2023

'Wakeup call ignored': Village 30 km from Joshimath 'suffered similarly' in Feb 2021

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Reni witnessed massive flash flood on February 7th, 2021 because of the bursting of a glacial lake on the river Rishiganga, which originates from the Nanda Devi peak. The devastation at village Reni, about 30 km from Joshimath,  and later at Tapovan and Vishnuprayag, was intimidating. Over 200 lives were lost and property and livelihood of many villages were lost.  The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) power project at Tapovan was completely washed away. A few other bridges which link Reni to the border areas also swept in the rising waters of both Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga. Reni today is declared unsafe for living. People want alternative place. I visited the place in December 2021 and recorded conversation with local people and activists, who were part of the Chipko movement. The 45 minutes video tells us about his experiences of the movement and the people.  Listening to them, one would realise why the movement of which he was part of collapse an

Joshimath-2: Govt of India likely to 'sideline, deny' changes in Himalayan region policies

By Bharat Dogra*  The recent tragic development of many houses (and other buildings) being devastated and many families having to leave their homes in Joshimath and to a lesser extent in some other parts of Uttarakhand has once again raised serious questions regarding the path of development being pursued in the Himalayan region. 

How a liquor vend was ousted by Sikh-Hindu, Gurdwara-Temple unity in West Delhi

By Bharat Dogra*  There was a lot of troubled questioning in the streets of Khyala in West Delhi. Many people were asking -- has that terrible liquor shop opened once again? There were reasons why the people were so worried. This liquor vend had created simply too many problems in the past as the liquor shop and the neighboring snack joints became the gathering place for many anti-social elements. Women and girls felt more insecure than ever before as drunk strangers made lewd gestures. What angered local people most was that the liquor vend was located too close to temples, gurdwaras and a school, violating policy guidelines. Hence small efforts to oppose the liquor vend started. However some powerful local persons were in favor of the vend, particularly those who had been able to earn high rent from shops selling liquor and snacks, and so some people were also a bit scared to become too vocal in protesting against the liquor vend. However, matters soon came to a head when the gatheri

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

West Bengal govt 'refusing to heed' power supply demand of border area villagers

Counterview Desk  A senior civil rights leader has said that even after 75 years of Independence, the Noudapara area of Mamabhagina village of the North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, has no electricity connection. Stating that the BSF has "prohibited power transmission at Noudapara", in a representation to the home department of the West Bengal government, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), the action is "preventing education for children, treatment of sick persons, and other household activities where power connections are a necessity." He regretted, on November 1, 2022, 62 people from the Noudapara area submitted a mass petition with their demand at the SDO at Bongaon in the North 24 Paraganas district, yet nobody seemed to care. Text: This letter requires your immediate attention to sufferings of Noudapara area of Mamabhagina village under Police Station & Block Bagdah of North 24 Parganas District in West Bengal accessi

Dominated by Dravidian politics, will Tamil Nadu accept Annamalai as new strike force?

By NS Venkataraman*  The view appears to have gone strong in some circles that just after a period of less than 24 months of entering Tamil Nadu politics and becoming the President of Tamil Nadu BJP and with no prior political experience, Annamalai has become a “strike force” in Tamil Nadu politics. Indeed, many feel, he may outshine many experienced politicians in Tamil Nadu, including those in the opposition and the Tamil Nadu BJP. Annamalai has entered politics when some sections in the state seem to have become tired of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu, which is ruling the state for 60 years now, marked by controversies, including high level corruption, increasing number of people, including children, getting addicted to liquor, and caste based politics. People have been voting for one Dravidian party or the other, since they have no other alternate party to bank upon. Poor people have been voting for any one of the Dravidian parties based on what have been dubbed as

BBC film dispute: 2022 saw 20% rise in ban on Twitter URLs, 3.5% for other social media

By Venkatesh Nayak*  Readers may remember from earlier this week, a detailed write-up about the refusal of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoI&B) to publicly disclose orders to block content on social and digital media platforms under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (2021 Rules) notified under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act). 

Massive Jind rally 'precursor' to proposed farmers' stir to Parliament in mid-March

By Harsh Thakor*  After the conclusion of the historic farmers' struggle in Delhi, farmers' organizations are moving along the trail in different ways regarding the remaining demands taking off from where the Delhi protest ended last year. During this past year, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has undertaken a spate of militant actions at various levels. A massive gathering of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other neighbouring States was staged on January 26 on the call of raising voices in different ways encompassing the whole the country on their issues. The spirit of resistance simmered at a crescendo like a spark turned into a prairie fire. SKM, the umbrella front of hundreds of farmer’s organisations, pledged to intensify the movement at the all-India level for achieving the crucial issues on which the Central government has backed out despite written assurances. The leaders at Jind appeared prepared for a long haul struggle for getting legal guarantee of minimum support

Fifth largest, fastest growing economy? 63% of India claimed to be fed with free food

By Prasanna Mohanty  How do you describe a nation that is the fastest-growing major economy in the world and also the fifth largest economy in the world (by overtaking the UK) in 2022 and yet is forced to feed 62.5% of its population, or 813.5 million people, with “free ration”? Two days after the Indian government announced “free ration” for 813.5 million Indians , Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the nation, in his monthly radio talk “Mann ki Baat” on December 25, 2022, that the country entered “Amrit Kaal” (golden period) in 2022 with tremendous economic progress. He said: “2022 has indeed been very inspiring, wonderful in many ways. This year India completed 75 years of her independence, and this very year Amritkal commenced. This year the country gained a new momentum…India attaining the status of the world’s fifth largest economy …” Since 2013’s National Food Security Act (NFSA), 75% of rural and 50% of urban households (62.5% households in all) are entitled to and getting (sinc

Joshimath-1: When development priorities depend on companies, politicians, officials

By Bharat Dogra*  Reports and images of a large number of badly damaged and cracked up houses and other buildings in Joshimath town of Uttarakhand, located at a height of over 6,000 feet, have shocked and distressed people even in distant parts of the country as they have a deep emotional and cultural attachment to the Himalayan region and its people. While the main focus has been on the more widespread devastation in Joshimath, problems have also been reported from other places like Karnaprayag.

Move to 'scuttle' judicial autonomy amidst pomp, pageantry of 74th Republic day

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  At a Press Conference held in Delhi on 18 January, the Government spokesman said: “The Nation will celebrate its 74th Republic Day on January 26, 2023. The celebrations include the traditional march past at Kartavya Path comprising a grand parade by the contingents of the Armed Forces & Paramilitary Forces; tableaux display by the States and Central Ministries/Departments; cultural performances by children; acrobatic motorcycle rides and a fly-past, besides Beating the Retreat ceremony. The Republic Day celebrations are going to be week-long commencing on 23rd January, the birth anniversary of great national icon Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and culminate on 30th January which is observed as Martyrs’ Day… Many new events are being organised as part of the Republic Day celebrations this year. These include Military Tattoo & Tribal dance festival; Veer Gatha 2.0; second edition of Vande Bharatam dance competition; performances of Military & Coast Gua

India’s latest descent into authoritarianism: US diaspora group on BBC documentary ban

By Our Representative  A US-based diaspora group, Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), has said that the Government of India ban the BBC documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” which "exposed India’s Hindu supremacist prime minister Narendra Modi’s complicity in the mass killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat state in 2002", is the latest turn in India’s descent into authoritarianism during Modi’s nine-year rule. Claiming that the Modi rule has seen "unprecedented attacks on free speech and press freedom", IAMC, in a statement, said, it has "arrested and jailed journalists on unfounded terror charges", even as raidint news organizations "that are critical of its failures." Slamming Twitter and YouTube for removing references and links to the documentary under pressure, IAMC executive director Rasheed Ahmed said, “It is appalling that platforms touting their commitment to free speech should cave under pressure from an authoritarian governm

BSF's whimsical restrictions 'challenging' life, livelihood of West Bengal border villagers

Counterview Desk  In a representation to the additional chief secretary, Home and Hill Affairs Department, Government of West Bengal, a senior civil rights leader, protesting against the prohibitory order by the Border Security Force (BSF) on the farmers of Chaingor, Asmanhat and Matiadob villages, situated next to the borders with Bangladesh, has said that the action is causing a loss of Rs 1.80 crore of earnings to the villagers.

Varanasi weavers' poor wages 'force children' to study in madrasas: meeting told

By Harsh Thakor*  With the goal of raising class consciousness and mobilizing the working population of Banaras, especially the weavers, a meeting was organized at the Swayamvar Vatika on behalf of the Fatima-Savitri Janasamiti. The weavers discussed the issues related to their status and wages in the programme.

No Lok Sabha scrutiny of IT blocking rules, yet BBC film on 2002 Gujarat violence banned

By Venkatesh Nayak*  A controversy of considerable magnitude that can impact upon its relations with the United Kingdom, is brewing over the Government of India's recent decision to block public access to a two-part documentary series produced by the BBC on the communal violence that ravaged Gujarat in 2002 . 

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

'Laughable': Destruction of 13,075 acre Nicobar forests to be 'compensated' in Haryana!

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to President Droupadi Murmu, seeking to draw attention to the adverse consequences on the tribal inhabitants and the ecology of Great Nicobar Island as a result of the 'development project' planned for the island, 87 former civil servants* – forming Constitutional Conduct Group -- have said that it will “destroy one of the most pristine habitats in the country.” Calling the manner of implementation of the project “laughable”, they said, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has not only granted environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance with certain conditions, “it has also given an ‘in principle’ clearance for diversion of 13,075 hectares of forest land, with compensatory afforestation to be carried out in the State of Haryana.” Text: We are a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our career

Why Indo-Bangladesh ties are crucial for India's North-Eastern connectivity

By Samara Ashrat*  Recently, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar stated that, if there is one border and one region of India which has dramatically improved in the last decade, it is eastern and northeastern India. And the reason for that is that India has vastly improved its relationship with Bangladesh. Not only that, but recently India also has expressed interest in building and operating an airport in Bangladesh. India wants a piece of Bangladeshi land in Brahmanbaria to upgrade and expand the Agartala airport, which is set to become the third international airport in India’s northeastern region by the end of this year or early next year. Following the completion of the project, flights between Agartala and Dhaka, as well as other Bangladeshi cities like Chattogram and Sylhet, would be operated. The main reason behind this is, Bangladesh is the trump card for India to implement its Act Fast for Northeast policy. And Chicken’s Neck or Siliguri Corridor created the importance of Ban

Why water management 'isn't just about' conservation but also gender bias

Counterview Desk  A note prepared by Mansee Bal Bhargava and Garbhit Naik* titled Water Fest ‘Be Like Water’ on a recently-concluded water festival did not just insist upon bringing more knowledge on water worries and wisdom towards water conservation and management. Held in Hyderabad under the banner of Wfor W Foundation, a not-for-profit network, it also focused on water, gender and women. A highlight from the Fest was a discussion on why the role of women needs to be seen in the context of vulnerability and leadership and why there is “need for change in the manels in decision making for water matters”. It was highlighted, water problems are “mostly patriarchal” in nature, as there is “male dominance in decision making despite women being the epicentre of activities/ vulnerabilities related to water.” Text: Water management is people management and thus calls for collective action towards addressing the water worries through the abundance of wisdom available since antiquity. Any