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Showing posts from February, 2023

'Vulgar display of wealth': Govt of India using G20 presidency for political, electoral gains

Counterview Desk  Seeking endorsement for a public statement on India's G20 Presidency, several people’s movements, trade unions and other civil society groups have come together to say that not only will G20 and its priorities “will worsen economic, social and climate crisis”, already, India’s presidency is being used “for vulgar display of pomp & for electoral gains.”

Petition blames saffron outfits for recent 'organised outburst' of hate in Maharashtra

Counterview Desk  A petition floated by the human rights organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), addressed to Eknath Shinde, chief minister of Maharashtra, with a copy to Rajnish Sheth, Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra, has expressed alarm over what it calls "dangerous trend of hate-mongering" boding ill for "social harmony" in the State.

Though poles apart, Ambedkar, Savarkar held 'identical views' on caste, two nation theory

By Rishi Shrivastava*  Indian modern political history has an entirety of thoughts of icons, miscreants and leaders who shaped the future of Indian political discourse. The ideas that drove post-colonial India were contradictory in ideological, political, economic, social and contextual aspects. In this shaping of the post-colonial nation that was vulnerable in all of the dimensions, various hurdles have come into existence. Many national leaders who were in the same ideological bloc have become rivals with their own set of ideas and views about social issues and nation-building.

Bangladesh daily shutdown: Reason? Editor, a 'fugitive, lives in UK to avoid jail term'

By Aziz Patwary*  On February 19th, the Bangladesh authorities shutdown a daily newspaper, "Dainik Dinkal", for allegedly violating the country’s press and publication law. The decision has created a national debate in Bangladesh. Many portray this shutdown by legal intervention as an attack on the country’s media freedom. The issue has also attracted international media such as BBC, "Al Jazeera" and "The Guardian".

Child marriage crackdown: Dread, dismay in Assam, young mothers rendered helpless

By Srinivas Goli, Shreya Singh*  The Assam government’s recent efforts towards addressing child marriages in the state appears to be doing more harm than good. Recent weeks have witnessed a brutal crackdown on culprits identified under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO, 2012) and Prevention of Child Marriages Act (PCMA, 2006) in the state of Assam . So far over several thousand arrested under PCMA. Supposedly driven by the underage marriage rate estimate provided by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 released in 2022, the government claims to continue this exercise till the next state elections of 2026.

Eliminating child marriage? Why is Assam CM so restive despite abuse of law allegation

By Nava Thakuria*  By 2026, will the Assam government eliminate the menace of child marriage, if one goes by State chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s "commitment"? The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Dispur claims to be fighting against the social evil in the State with full political will. Child marriage is a social scourge, and the State government is committed to ensure the evil practice is stopped, states Sarma.

State providing legitimacy to heinous crimes, as cries for justice in India 'grow shriller'

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  In India, the cries for justice are becoming louder and longer! They come from different segments of society and particularly from those who continue to be exploited and excluded! These cries are heart-rending: anyone with an iota of conscience will hear them! The sad and tragic reality is that these cries will remain unheard; those who need to hear these cries and to respond to them, have deadened their ears and hardened their hearts!

Why anti-Mamata agitations, movements by BJP, Congress, CPM lack any strength

By Harasankar Adhikari  Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Supremo and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, is a leader of gossip, debate, and criticism. She is among the very few leaders in India’s political history who have had no family background in politics, and she founded a separate political party and came to power in West Bengal. The most important question in this democracy is whether she is an exceptionally exceptional leader or a leader without merit. She has every right to secure her captive vote bank. At least, poll results showed many times her party’s victory with an absolute majority in the last three assembly polls in West Bengal. She is the only leader who formed her own party, and she is in power after defeating the 34-year-old Left Front within a decade. The majority of the population supports her and her party in spite of anti-encumbrance measures and continuous publicity (media trail and attack by the opposition). Now her government and her party are fac

'Scandalous': Energy economist who refuses to consider global climate emergency

By Shankar Sharma*  An opinion piece , "Solar energy is not the best option for India", has been carried by a leading media house on the power sector's future for the country. The tagline is: "The country should not give up on large hydropower and coal projects." Any person with even a modest knowledge of the power sector scenario in the country and across the globe is likely to be shocked to read such an opinion piece. If such a person also has an inclination to look at all issues around him/her with a holistic perspective of true welfare of all sections of our society, that person will be astounded that such an irrational/ unsubstantiated opinion piece can appear in the national media; even as late as 2023. It is impossible to notice in this article any reference to social, environmental (with a specific focus on climate change), financial, and economic aspects of the millions of vulnerable people in our country, either at present or in the future. The ar

Geopolitical interests? Myanmar anti-junta protests: 'indecisive' India, other neighbours

By NJ Thakuria*  The people of Myanmar (also known as Burma/ Brahmadesh) observed a silent protest a few days back marking two years of the military coup and subsequent public resistance movement against the military junta in the south-east Asian nation, which is the eastern neighbour of India. The international media (if not the government-controlled newspaper and news channels) reflected the deserted urban and rural areas of Myanmar highlighting the continued opposition to the Min Aung Hlaing military brigade.

Will this Ahmedabad memorial follow Kanti Bhatt-type journalism for subalterns?

By Rajiv Shah   Let me begin with a sharp admission: I know very little  Gujarati journalism, even though I do know a few (though not many) Gujarati journalists and have been reading Gujarati news in dailies and  portals. To me, Gujarati, which is supposed to be my mother tongue, became a sort of “alien” language very early, not because of my choice, but because I was born (as would happen in traditional houses, where women go to parents’ house during child birth) in Ahmedabad, but brought up in Delhi, where my parents taught art education in Jamia Millia Islamia.

'Unprecedented': Anti-caste law in US city bans businesses discriminating at workplace

By Our Representative  In an unprecedented move, the Seattle City Council, Washington State, USA, has passed a legislation to ban caste-based discrimination. Introduced by Council member Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), if passed, it will prohibit, “businesses from discriminating based on caste with respect to hiring, tenure, promotion, workplace conditions, or wages.”

Raid on Rajasthan human rights lawyer's home 'attack on his professional right'

Counterview Desk  The civil rights group, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, taking exception to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raid on human rights lawyer Ansar Indori, has said that raid has taken place despite the Supreme Court barring state agencies from taking any coercive action against Ansar and other lawyers providing legal defence to the recently banned People’s Front of India (PFI) activists.

'Unequal' slice: 26% of education budget goes to elite schools, 1% to students' study

By Bharat Dogra*  Adequate investment in equality-based education is widely accepted as one of the key components as well as a strong base for the progress of developing countries. Despite this, educational progress in India has been impeded badly by low budgets as well as inequalities.

Health budget falls short of Govt of India’s own roadmap 'by more than one-half'

By Bharat Dogra*  The most common description of the union budget’s allocations for health sector has been that these have increased marginally. However, it would be much more appropriate to say that the health allocations have been glaringly low compared to the officially recognized projections of what is needed.

'Insignificant' hike in rural budget: Farmers' hope for better procurement dashed

By Bharat Dogra*  The Union budget 2023-24 has failed to live up to the real needs and hopes of people living in villages, or to prioritize rural areas. A clear decline can be seen in the proportion of the budget going to rural development, agriculture and allied sectors.

Corporate control to make unorganized, small dairy farmers 'even more vulnerable'

By Bharat Dogra*  India is widely mentioned as the top milk producer in world and this achievement is frequently stated to have been achieved on the basis of its ‘white revolution’ which in turn is claimed to have been achieved on the basis of improved livelihoods of small dairy farmers. How real are these claims? This is not merely an academic question. If these claims are correct, then there would be strong reasons to go on promoting similar patterns of dairy development. On the other hand if there is something seriously wrong about these claims and there are actually many matters of concern and worry, then there would be strong reasons for reconsidering the present day path and trends of dairy development in India. The main base of dairy development is that it provides high nutrition food to people who need it. The extent to which this objective is achieved depends not just on the total volume of production but even more on the way consumption is distributed. If more milk and milk p

Sitharaman's Amritkal Budget 'ignores' social security for poor women and elderly

By Harasankar Adhikari  According to the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Budget 2023 is the first budget in ‘Amritkal’ of India. In her budget speech, she glorified it through her juggling vocabulary. She did not spend a single word for job possibility for educated youth (the most vibrant population of India), except skill training under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0, poor deprived section (aging population and women). Further, she fully ignores the price hikes of daily commodities, including gas. Is it a symbol of ‘Amritkal’? And is there a government for ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas Sabka Biswas and Sabka Prayas’? There is no budgetary allocation for women and the elderly population at the bottom of the pyramid for social protection and security. According to an Agewell Foundation report, more than 90 million Indian elderly people will be without financial security by 2021.  At the same time, it underlines, "Of the total number of people living in

Concretised, un-ecological architecture for Ahmedabad? BV Doshi: A tribute of dissent

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  I wish the thoughts were shared with  Dr. BV Doshi Sir before than writing a tribute knowing that he was constructive towards critical appraisal. The tribute is a discussion of dissent on the approach to yesterday’s architecture (pedagogy, profession, and product) by most masters including you as those approaches shape the built environment of today.

Not difficult to visualise multiple disasters in Himalayas: 30 more hydel power project

By Shankar Sharma*  Subsequent to the recent disaster and the ongoing crises for the communities in and around Joshimath due to the landslides, the focus seems to have been shifted to hydel power projects in the region and across the Himalayas. The associated concerns for civil society has multiplied in recent days due to the recent announcement by the Union government informing Lok Sabha that 30 large size hydel projects are being implemented in the vulnerable slopes/ valleys of the Himalayas. Many opinion pieces in the national media also have started discussing the pros and cons of hydel power projects. Whereas most articles have been raising serious concerns over the continuing policy of the Union government to build more hydel projects in the Himalayas, there are many opinion pieces indicating blind support for hydel power projects without deliberating on social and environmental aspects. It has come to be more or less accepted that hydel power projects are no longer deemed es

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Anti-Valentine's Day push: Sectarian move to 'restrict, constrict' India's cultural milieu

By Ram Puniyani*  Indian culture is diverse and plural. It has been enriching itself by accepting the diversity irrespective of religion or geographical boundaries. This gets reflected in all aspects of our life, be it food habits, clothes, art, architecture, social occasions, customs and religious traditions. This is the natural grain of any open and thriving society. With the rise of sectarianism the effort is to restrict and constrict our culture in particular. 

'Institutional murder': IIT-Bombay Dalit student victim of anti-reservationist bias

Counterview Desk  Gujarat chapter of India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), drawing a parallel between the recent suicide of Darshan Solanki, a Dalit student of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and of Rohith Vermula in 2016, has called it as another “institutional murder” resulting from “crass caste discrimination” prevailing in India’s elite educational institutes.

Dalit literary festival's 'clarion call' to educate, organise and agitate subaltern groups

By Sanjeev Kumar*  The 3rd Dalit Literature Festival (DLF) was organized by Ambedkarwadi Lekhak Sangh in collaboration with Aryabhatta College, Delhi University, on its premises on 3rd and 4th February, 2023. Ambedkarwadi Lekhak Sangh has been consistently organizing the Dalit literature festivals since 2019. First two literature festivals were organized at Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, and then owing to pandemic, it was put on hold till 2023 when it was organized again. The third edition was brimming with ideas and evolution of humanity as in making this world a better place to co-exist.

Saffron hype against minorities seeking to 'proliferate' myths, prejudices, biases

By Ram Puniyani*  In the case of Jamia violence of 2019, 11 students were arrested. One of them was Sharjeel Imam, who was student of JNU. The others included likes of Safoora Zargar and Asif Iqbal Tanha. While discharging them, the Delhi High Court commented, “Police was unable to apprehend 'actual perpetrators' and 'surely managed to rope them (accused) as scapegoats' in the matter.”  Court also observed that police has been filing supplementary charge sheets with nothing new to offer. Surely it was to drag the case and keep these eleven in the jail. There many others like Umar Khalid who were talking of harmony and peace are behind the bar, which Anurag Thakur got promotion from Minister of state to Cabinet minister after his provocative Goli maro (Shoot them). In the wake of Covid 19, it came to be known that many Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) members were having a conclave in Delhi. Some had come from abroad. The godi (lap) media jumped to the opportunity and blamed the TJ

Wages siphoned off by 'robber barons' much higher than other forms of burglary

By Liaquath Mirza  ‘When the rich rob the poor it’s called business. When the poor fight back it’s called violence’ – Mark Twain Winters in southern parts of India are mild and pleasant. For an avid walker like me there is an added bonus in that the park I frequent for my brisk walk routine wears a deserted look at dawn break. Morning walkers tend to avoid morning walks even if the winters are mild. The day started as usual at 5 AM as I ventured out fully clothed and covered with track pants thick hooded sweat shirt, headphones and sneakers to boot. Even though it’s not show time yet for the sun the park is well illuminated and poses no problems for lone walkers like me ambling about across the joggers track at five in the morning. My morning routine includes receiving gusty greetings from Somu the park attendant who has to be an early bird for park maintenance. He is a sprightly sprig of a lad in mid-twenties. Unlike me his hard labour doesn’t require him to have an exercise regimen t

Aadhaar, app-based payments order to deprive 57% rural workers of NREGA wages

By Our Representative  The civil rights network, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), protesting against the Government of India (GoI) decision of compulsory aadhaar-based payments to rural workers, calling it a major blow to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that this comes at a time when budgetary allocation for NREGA has been reduced to just Rs 60,000 crore in 2023-24 -- less than Rs 50,000 crore, if we deduct wage arrears from 2022-23, and the lowest as proportion of GDP (0.2%) in the history of the programme.

Regional political dynamics 'leading to' institutional violence in SAARC University

By Sandeep Pandey*  South Asian University is a university set up in Delhi by member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives – which is open to students from all these countries. However, as SAARC is receiving little attention these days because of regional political dynamics, it appears as if SAU has lost significance too. Because of the hiatus in peace process between India and Pakistan, the Board of Governors of this University is dysfunctional.

Counter-productive? Demonetisation a short-term remedy for a long term problem

By NS Venkataraman*  In November 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sprang a surprise on the country men by announcing demonetisation of high value currency notes. After announcing the decision, Modi spoke to the surprised and confused people and explained as to why demonetisation was necessary. Modi said that considering the urgent need to wipe out black money circulating in the country, root out corruption and eliminate counterfeit notes , he had taken this measure. While stating that demonetisation was one of the measures that he would initiate to achieve the objectives, Modi also implied that curbing currency in circulation is a pre condition to achieve such objectives. The demonetisation announcement was followed by long queue in front of the banks, causing hardships to people in several ways. Of course, the pledged admirers of Modi appreciated his courage of conviction to take such bold decision and sworn critics of Modi opposed his move bitterly . Howeve