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Showing posts from March, 2023

India one of 7 countries where disinformation used for winning polls: Global NGO Civicus

By Rajiv Shah  The State of Civil Society Report 2023, released by Civicus, an international non-profit organisation, which describes itself as “a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world," with headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in Geneva and New York, has singled out India as one of the seven countries where disinformation played a crucial role to win elections.

Sugarcane workers' 8-yr struggle 'bears fruit', Gujarat govt doubles minimum wages

By Jayesh Gamit*  The Gujarat government has issued a notification hiking minimum wages for sugarcane harvesting workers from Rs 238 per tonne to Rs 476 per tonne. The notification came after a long eight-year struggle of workers led by their Union Majoor Adhikar Manch. 

'Relief to poor': MNC patent on costly TB drug rejected, to 'help' generic production

By Our Representative  On March 23, 2023, the Indian Patent Office (IPO) rejected pharma company Janssen’s application for an extension of its patent on bedaquiline, a drug used in the treatment of tuberculosis patients. The verdict that came just a day ahead of World Tuberculosis Day was celebrated by health activists and tuberculosis survivors in India.

'A disaster in the making': Expansion of oil palm plantations in Northeast India

By Rupa Chinai, Ravi Chellam*  Until a few decades ago, India was nearly 100% self-sufficient in edible oils, with a diverse variety of oilseeds that were grown and consumed sustainably in keeping with the ecological and climatic conditions of different regions in the country. Today, India is highly reliant on palm oil imports to meet its vegetable oil demands. 

Support to BJP? Church in India 'isn't playing prophetic role' for the sake of truth, justice

Counterview Desk  In a strongly worded statement, the Executive Committee of Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, a Christian civil rights group, has taken exception to a recent utterance of Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry, who declared his support to BJP in Kerala to overcome the situation of the party not having an MP from the state.

Case for Gandhian realpolitik: Autonomy to Kashmiris, Indo-Pak condominium, plebiscite

By Shreyam Sharma*  One of the most geographically, politically and now militarily contested territory that has raised innumerable human rights questions in the recent and distant past continues to be Kashmir. Kashmir today is devoid of Swaraj, of the real essence of Kashmiriyat. Granville Austin underpins the legitimacy of a constitution in any given territory, and particularly India, in the consent of the masses.

Manesar union leaders' suspension: Conflict with management 'simmers' despite talks

By Harsh Thakor*  The Belsonica Company, which manufactures auto parts in Manesar, Haryana, suspended three office bearers of the labour union a few days. The management, which took this extreme step, is being accused of adopting it as a strategy to terrorise workers from asserting their rights or organising themselves.

Tribal culture, flora, fauna come alive on walls: Will 'far away' Bastar attract tourists?

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi  Many of us admire the wall paintings of Lodhi Art Colony in Delhi, but in faraway Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, murals executed in bright colours showcase the rich cultural heritage of a place yet unspoilt by modernity.

Modi govt move to defame, criminalise Oppn: 1000 activists on action against Rahul

By Our Representative   Expressing concern over the expulsion of Rahul Gandhi from Parliament and his conviction in a defamation case, more than 1,000 teachers, artists, scientists, cultural workers and members of the civil society have called upon people at large to take all measures to “save parliamentary democracy from the assault from the ruling party.”

A lot more than tribal festival: How Bohada’s mask magic 'transcends' generations

By Gajanan Khergamker *    In India's North Maharashtra, as tradition has it, Palghar District’s Mokhada taluka bears testimony to Bohada -- the 250-year-old festival that peaks in the last three days, transporting its residents into a magical realm of a mythological past.

Spiritualism simplified? About Guruji who speaks less, spends time in 'deep' meditation

By Arup Mitra*  Take the Gita or Durga Saptasati, the ever-assuring lines claim that the manifestation of God on earth is possible again and again. As per the requirements of the human society, incarnations and arrivals of divine souls do take place from time to time.

'Move on to slash rural jobs scheme': Govt of India 'suppresses' open discourse on NREGA

By Our Representative  The civil society group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), which has completed its one month of its 100-day dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, has claimed the authorities appear to be bent on refusing to allow any public discussion about the manner in which the premier rural jobs scheme is sought to be undermined by the Government of India.

Karnataka tribal network opposes capitalist, 'neo-colonial' conservation practices

Counterview Desk  Community Network Against Protected Areas (CNAPA), a newly formed group of community networks consisting of people’s movements and groups resisting colonial conservation, recently organised a week-long padayatra of the indigenous communities of Nagarhole, Karnataka, to protest against the manner in which community lands and forests have been forcibly grabbed to create a tiger reserve.

40,000 Odisha adolescent girls ask CM: Why is scheme to fight malnutrition on paper?

By Our Representative  In unique a postcard campaign to combat malnutrition, aimed at providing dietary diversity, considered crucial during adolescence, especially among girls, signed by about 40,000 adolescent girls from over 10,000 villages, have reminded Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik that his government's Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), which converged with Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman  ( POSHAN ) 2.0 in 2021, is not being implemented in the State.

Protesters across India insist: Bhagat Singh's worldview 'differed' from today's India

By Harsh Thakor*  It was heartening to witness the spirit Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguriu resurrected today engulfing regions of Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. In Rohtas in Bihar on March 23rd, commemorating the three martyrs, Kaimur Mukti Morch staged an impactful rally and conference, portraying the misery and denial of rights of the Kaimur Pathar, an Adivasi community.

BBC documentary row: Delhi varsity students detained for holding protest meeting

By Our Representative On March 24, even as commemorating the martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on their 92nd martyrdom day, several left-wing students’ organisations -- bsCEM, BASF, Fraternity Movement, SIO, AISA and SFI -- held a protest against the recent action of debarring several students for organising the screening of the banned BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's role in Gujarat riots.

Heat wave: All round 'failure' to fight land loss due to sea intrusion, groundwater salinity

By Our Representative  Calling the recent Synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6) a “warning call”, and insisting on the need for “grounded action” to ensure social and ecological justice, well-known civil society organisation ActionAid Association has insisted, governments must work for “quickly closing opportunity of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees centigrade.”

It's now official: Karnataka second only to Rajasthan in stressed water availability

Counterview Desk  Power and climate policy analyst Shankar Sharma, in a representation to the DG, Environmental Management Planning and Research Institute (EMPRI), Bengaluru, with copies to senior Karnataka and Government of India officials, even as welcoming a recent EMPRI report which says that over half of Karnataka districts stare at water crisis, has expressed concern whether the top government agency would work out requisite policies.

Dalits spend 94% income on food, 15% on ultra-processed, packaged food: Study

By Our Representative  A recent study has revealed that India’s marginalised and economically weak are consuming high quantities of ultra-processed and packaged food. In a country that faces one of the world’s gravest double burden of malnutrition, the lowest income quintile has gone from facing hunger to relying on unhealthy snacks.

Stop corporate loot or face new round of protests: Massive farmers' rally warns govt

By Harsh Thakor*  A massive Kisan Mahapanchayat was organized at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). Thousands of farmers from all over the country thronged to the venue. A manifestation of the unity and resilient spirit of the farmer’s movement. embarrassing rulers at the centre to the very core and an expression of mass revolutionary democratic consciousness.

As international food aid dwindles, many Rohingyas get involved in criminal activities

By Fumiko Yamada*  In a surprise move, the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations has reduced the amount of food aid to the Rohingya due to lack of funds. Nearly six years into the Rohingya crisis, life-saving aid to Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar has been cut. From March 1, the amount of assistance for each Rohingya was reduced from $12 to $10.

Rohingya repatriation? As ICJ hearing draws nearer, Myanmar begins to 'show concern'

By Sumaiya Jannat  On April 24, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hear Gambia's case of Rohingya torture against Myanmar. And before that, Naypyidaw wants to start repatriation of Rohingyas to keep the attitude of the court in their favor. The country has sent a technical team to quickly verify the Rohingya. Earlier, the country had adopted the same strategy.

Chinese pressure? Left stateless, Rohingya crisis result of Myanmar citizenship law

By Dr Shakuntala Bhabani*  A 22-member team of Myanmar immigration officials visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar to verify more than 400 Rohingya refugees as part of a pilot repatriation project. Does it hold out any hope for the forcibly displaced people to return to their ancestral homes in the Rakhine state of Myanmar? Only time will tell.

China ties up with India, Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingyas; Myanmar unwilling

By Harunur Rasid*  We now have a new hope, thanks to news reports that were published in the Bangladeshi dailies recently. Myanmar has suddenly taken initiatives to repatriate Rohingyas. As part of this initiative, diplomats from eight countries posted in Yangon were flown to Rakhine last week. Among them were diplomats from Bangladesh, India and China.

Betrayal of Christ, Constitution? Religious, political leaders seeking to 'sell the soul'

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the past couple of days, electronic and print mainstream media in the country, have been highlighting the public ‘promise’ made by the Archbishop of Tellicherry. During a protest rally of some Catholic rubber farmers he offered to help the BJP open an account in Kerala in the next election, provided the price of rubber is increased to Rs 300 per kilogram.

Lack of political consensus 'halting' execution of South Asian quadrilateral initiative

By Dr Shakuntala Bhabani*  The South Asian sub-region consisting of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal has, no doubt, immense potential for economic growth and significant untapped economic potential for intra-regional trade. What has been titled Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN), a quadrilateral sub-regional initiative, was endorsed way back in 1997 to strengthen the region’s pursuit of trade and economic integration, still has a long way to go.

More than 8,200 West Bengal govt schools 'to be closed down'. Can UNESCO help?

By Harasankar Adhikari  Recently, UNESCO showed interest in the West Bengal education system, and the Institute for Lifelong Learning of the United Nations Agency expressed its willingness to join the State’s education system because the government is reportedly taking several initiatives for strengthening the education system. But has this agency collected the information on the ground reality of this state’s education system and its very recent data?

Union minister 'lying': multiple complaints made on NREGA workers' digital attendance

By Our Representative  Taking strong exception to Union Minister Giriraj Singh’s recent statement in the Lok Sabha, statement that the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) had not received any complaints related to the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) digital attendance app, top advocacy network NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has claimed, it relentlessly drew the Ministry’s attention to the chaos that has been unleashed by the NMMS app and the Aadhaar-based payment system (ABPS), both of which are now compulsory for NREGA wage payments.

Punjab farmers hold anti-G-20 protest against state move to support 'imperialist' policies

By Harsh Thakor*  On the call of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), thousands of farmers, farm labourers, women, youth and students thronged to Amritsar to protest and hold demonstration against the on-going propaganda for the G-20 summit to be held in Delhi in September this year, demanding that agriculture, industry, education, health, electricity and water etc. should remain free of the tyranny of the imperialist powers.

Even during 1975-77 indoor meetings opposing Emergency weren't banned: PUCL, Delhi

Counterview Desk  Taking strong exception to Delhi police barring a meeting on media freedom in Kashmir, well-known human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, (PUCL), Delhi, has said, the real motive was to gag the freedom of speech on an important public issue involving rights of the people of Kashmir. The move, it added, is in “violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens and are harmful to our democratic system.”

Gujarat farmers allege political discrimination in converting land for non-farm work

By Our Representative  Seeking to “develop” Gujarat by increasing non-farm activities, facts, however, have emerged suggesting that the State government appears to be creating hurdles for converting agricultural land into non-agricultural (NA) land.

Earlier with Human Rights Watch, new US ambassador to India opposed citizenship law

By Our Representative  The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), claiming to be the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States, has said that the confirmation of Eric Garcetti as US Ambassador to India, would help "promote and uphold the values of human rights and religious freedoms."

How family obligations, poor support system 'impact' women's empowerment in India

By Dr Chandrasmita Deka*  Care and home-making have traditionally been viewed as women's responsibilities in India. Despite the changing dynamics of society, women are still burdened with the responsibility of caring for the family and managing the household. There is a need to explore the challenges faced by women in caring for their families and the home and the need for a concerted effort to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.

Banning 27 hazardous pesticides wouldn't impact food security: PAN India tells govt

Counterview Desk  The Government of India has made a U turn by banning only three out of 27 hazardous pesticides it had proposed in 2020, PAN India, a public interest, non-profit, research and advocacy organisation working to eliminate human and environmental harm caused by pesticides and uphold agroecology, has said.

41% Odisha households lack access to safe drinking water, govt must act: NGO study

By Our Representative  To deal with the upcoming heat wave conditions and address persistent water scarcity issues among rural households in the state, the Odisha government should initiate timely actions to ensure safe drinking water for all, revealed a study report conducted by NGO Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha.

Govt of India seeking to 'undermine' RTI, keep accountability outside the purview of law

By Our Representative  Several political leaders, rights campaigns and others, opposing amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act through the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP Bill), have expressed the view that the Bill, likely to be introduced in Parliament during the ongoing second half of the Budget session, will severely restrict the scope of the information access legislation. They were speaking at a public meeting organised at the Constitution Club, Delhi.

Karnataka's pumped storage projects may consume 25% more power than can generate

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, with copies to the Union Minister for Power and NRE, the Union Minister for EF&CC, the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson, and the Prime Minister, power and climate policy analyst Shankar Sharma has said that the recent decision of the State government to go in for pumped storage projects appears to have been taken without considering their direct and indirect costs to society.

'Ridiculous': Delhi police cancels media event on Kashmir, sites anonymous organisers

Counterview Desk  The civil rights network Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)* has said that the Delhi police decision to cancel the "Media Blackout and State Repression in Kashmir” event, which was scheduled for 15th March 2023 to address the question of continuing harassment and incarceration of journalists is an "undemocratic action" under the "frivolous pretext of law and order situation”.

Modi, Shiekh Hasina to 'oil' friendly relations via 130 km long diesel export pipeline

Dr Arpita Hazarika*  India will begin exporting diesel to neighbouring Bangladesh through a pipeline this month after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina inaugurate the cross-border oil pipeline on 18 March.

Demolished settlement Khori Gaon women insist: We don't beg but demand our rights

By Our Representative  Around hundred people from Khori Gaon, a 50-year old settlement at the Delhi-Haryana border demolished in the middle of the pandemic, gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day, raising slogans “We demand the freedom to go out, the freedom to work” (hum maang karte hai bahaar jaane ki azadi, kaam karne ki azadi), “We don’t beg for rights, we demand our rights” (hum humara haq maangte, nahi kisi se bheek maangte), and “Women power has arrived; a new dawn has arrived” (Mahila shakti aayi hain, nayi roshni layi hain).

River interlinking plan to 'benefit' industry along DMIC, water starve Maharashtra farms

By Parineeta Dandekar*  Pictures above have been taken five days apart. One would think the Inter-Linking of River (ILR) projects entail transferring water from the bountiful right to the thirsty left. In the case of Damanganga-Vaitarna-Godavari Link, it means the opposite: transferring water from the dry Mokhada to the verdant Dev Nadi in Sinnar. Like many ILR projects, it highlights the farce that is “surplus” and “deficit” basins. More rainfall does not secure water access, nor does moderate rainfall negate it. *** As we travelled through the parched but beautiful landscape of Northern Western Ghats in Mokhada, I could see a figure climbing up a hillock at a distance against a blazing midday sun. It was a lady with a pot on her head, dressed in the quintessentially tribal “phadka”.  As we reached closer, I saw a bright-eyed boy, standing precariously on the edge of a well, drawing up water. His mother then carried this water on her head to their precious mango saplings up on a hill.

Indian firms' costs up, profits 'remain muted' despite improvement in sales: IIM-A survey

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad's (IIM-A's) Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which claims to provide ways to examine the amount of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders across India, has said that the cost perceptions data indicates “increase of cost pressures”. It says, “Around 42% of the participating firms in the survey perceive significant (over 6%) cost increase, up from 37% reported in the earlier round of the survey. The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has increased sharply. Over 18% of the firms in perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – up from 12% recorded” in the previous survey. Calling the survey unique in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or households, to understand their expectations, BIES selects companies primarily from the manufacturing sector. The latest results are based on the re

Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Ban Ki-moon, others ask Bangladesh PM to 'protect' Yunus

Counterview Desk  A campaign has been launched to support Bangladesh-based economist, micro-finance guru and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, seeking signatures from citizens across the globe in order to “protect” his work, life and safety.