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Showing posts from May, 2023

Hate speech: Plea to Meta AGM to oppose Facebook's 'biased operations' in India

By Our Representative  Campaign groups Ekō, India Civil Watch International (ICWI), and Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), referring to Meta’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), to be held on May 31, where vote on Proposal 7’s bears “significance for the Indian audience”, has said that its outcome is particularly important against the backdrop of allegations against Facebook for allowing spread of hate speech.

Pandemic treaty to hit democracy, human rights, dissent; Parliament 'evades' debate

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  In the blockbuster Hindi movie, “Sholay” of yesteryears, the dacoit leader Gabbar Singh, while admonishing his three sidekicks who got roundly thrashed by two former prisoners turned Good Samaritans, utters the iconic dialogue, “Yahan se pachas pachas kos door gaon mein ... jab bachcha raat ko rota hai, toh maa kehti hai bete soo ja ... soo ja nahi toh Gabbar Singh aa jayega,” which translates to, “In villages within a radius of hundreds of miles from here, when a child cries at night, mothers coax them to sleep by saying, baby go to sleep otherwise Gabbar Singh will come.”

Investigate violence against women wrestlers: Memorandum to NCW, Police Commissioner

By Our Representative  A delegation of representatives from multiple women's organizations have submitted a memorandum to the Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW) and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, demanding investigation into alleged police violence against “peaceful protesters”, several of them top women wrestlers.

Sengol drama 'upper caste' move with eye on 2024 polls. Target: South Indian states

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* The new parliament building opened on February 28. However, it looked as if it is not Parliament but part of Pratinidhisabhas started by erstwhile princely states in India. The BJP for long has been acting as if India is a kingdom and Narendra Modi the new king of India. Even at the coronations of kings, you find a large number of people and dignitaries, but look at the opening ceremony -- we had only one face as if he built everything.

Hyderabad roads dangerously turning into source of misery for majority of city dwellers

By Sudhansu R Das  Good roads are the way to prosperity. Similarly, bad roads can significantly reduce people’s income. It will increase the commuting time, reduce productivity hours, increase the health expenses and the repair cost of vehicles. Roads in Hyderabad continue to be the source of misery for the majority of people. Giant potholes, cracks, broken edges, improper speed breakers and protruding manholes make roads dangerous to travel. 

Why ‘community dogs’ have inalienable right to be fed in both private and public areas

By Gajanan Khergamker*  According to Cambridge Dictionary, a Stray when used as a noun means ‘A pet that no longer has a home or cannot find its home.’ According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, a Stray means ‘A domestic animal that is wandering at large or is lost.’ Collins Dictionary describes a Stray as a noun and provides a usage ‘The dog was a stray which had been adopted.’ Britannica Dictionary defines a Stray as ‘An animal (such as a cat or dog) that is lost or has no home.’

Attack on protesting wrestlers: Whither PM's beti bachao slogan?, ask 1500 plus citizens

Counterview Desk  More than 1150+ people including activists, lawyers, academics, former civil servants, artists and concerned citizens, condemning what they call “brutal police action” against the protesting wrestlers and those who had come out in support of their call from all over Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for a Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat, have regretted, "On the day the Prime Minister inaugurated the new Parliament house, democratic space was being crushed outside."

Bangladesh's sanitation challenges as it sets 'positive example' for India on open defecation

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Globally, 2 billion people (26% of the population) do not have safe drinking water and 3.6 billion (46%) lack access to safely managed sanitation ( UNESCO report on behalf of UN-Water at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York ). Basic sanitation, proper hygiene, and access to safe water are key to maintain good health and to promote social and economic growth in a society ( Mara, 2010 ).

Act east policy? Naga businesses 'interested' to deal with Bangladesh counterparts

By Samara Ashrat*  The northeast of India is fast gaining attention for its rich economic resources and strategic location. It is positioned to serve India’s strategic vision encompassed in the Act East Policy. Economically, the region has large deposits of oil, natural gas, coal and limestone, and a sizable proportion of land under cultivation for agro-horticulture products, bamboo and rubber.

Displaced by Polavaram project, AP tribals 'struggled' to get land without title deeds

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*  The case study Village Kondamodalu, a Scheduled Village in Devipatnam Mandal of the erstwhile East Godavari District, is one of the Polavaram Project affected villages. The village is situated on the bank of the river Godavari. The Government of Andhra Pradesh (AP) is constructing a big dam on the river Godavari for industrial and agricultural purposes. The people living in the predominant tribal village, Kondamodalu, were displaced under the project and rehabilitated in various places within the Scheduled Area of the Devipatnam and other Mandals in 2022.

India joining US sponsored trade pillar to hurt Indian farmers, 'promote' GM seeds, food

Counterview Desk  As many as 32 civil society organisations (CSOs), in a letter to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and India joining the trade pillar, have said that its provisions will allow the US to ensure a more favourable regulatory regime “for enhancing its exports of genetically modified (GM) seeds and GM food”, underlining, it will “significantly hurt the livelihoods of Indian farmers.”

Amrit Kaal or Rakshas Kaal? Ask jury at public hearing on demolitions around G20 events

Counterview Desk  Advocacy group Financial Accountability Network, in note on a public hearing on "forced evictions", organised by Concerned Citizens, has termed the recent demolitions and displacement of poor around G20 events "cruel and brutal." It quoted the jury members* as stating that "G20 became an extra constitutional event, not abiding the rule of law."

No of Indians rotting in Pak prisons rises amdist secrecy on missing defence personnel

By Venkatesh Nayak*  According to recent media reports , prison authorities in Pakistan released and sent back 198 jailed fishermen who are Indian nationals as a “goodwill gesture” earlier this month. While their families might be celebrating the reunion with their loved ones, the families of another 454 fishermen who are also Indian nationals and languishing in Pakistan’s jails will have to wait much longer. 

Modi honouring Savarkar on May 28 'to hasten undoing of democratic-secular India'

By Shamsul Islam*   Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate  new complex of Indian Parliament on May 28, 2023 which is also the 140th birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is described as ‘great son of India’ and ‘Veer’ [gallant/fearless] by the RSS-BJP. Thus the new Parliament built under the direct supervision of PM Modi and his chosen few will be dedicated to Savarkar.

GoI move to 'redact' Sardar Patel’s vision of civil service, replace it with apparatchiks

Counterview Desk  In our open letter to the President of India, the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments, have requested her to convey their concerns to the Government of India (GoI) on the alleged attempts being made to change the character of the civil services, “with its serious implications for the future of constitutional government in India.”

Behind Harrods’ $7,000 Ambootia Snow Mist Darjeeling tea: Deplorable work conditions

By Saurav Sarkar, Rupam Deb*  In 2015, after you were done gawking at the statue of Princess Di in the world’s largest department store, Harrods in London, you could head on over to the world-famous food halls where you could buy, among other high-priced indulgences, a type of tea branded “Ambootia Snow Mist.”

Teacher shortage bogs Bhubaneswar slums' 49% govt schools: Odisha NGO survey

By Our Representative  Over 49% of Government Schools in Bhubaneswar slums struggle with teacher shortage, revealed a study on "status of school infrastructure in government schools'' conducted by the people's collective Bhubaneswar Bikash Sangathan (BBS) and NGO Atmashakti Trust. The study, which was conducted with 135 schools, found that many schools in the area are not complying with Right to Education (RTE) norms.

Another Kerala story: RSS Guru favoured Namboodri crossbreeding for purer race

By Shamsul Islam*  Demonizing Indian Muslims as barbarians is a project as old as the birth of Hindu nationalism courtesy high caste Hindus in the second half of the 19th century. Muslims were described as mleccha a Sanskrit term used for non-Aryans or barbarians. It is interesting to note that when the same barbarians, the dynasties with Muslim names, ruled India for almost a millennium, the same Hindu high castes served them most loyally as military commanders and senior administrators even occupying posts of Vazier-e-aalaa (prime minister).

ED targeting women rights leaders to 'stifle' their voices, 'stop' crucial work they do

Counterview Desk   Over 500 concerned citizens , democratic rights’ activists across movements, women’s groups, students and academics have condemned the alleged misuse of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against scholars and activists raising constitutional issues and asking for the government’s accountability. 

Will India's Catholic communicators be 'more responsive' to teachings of Jesus, Church?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The Catholic Church observed the 57th World Day of Social Communications on 21 May 2023. For India, this day coincided with the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, which adds to the significance of the observance. Just before Jesus is taken up to heaven he commissions his disciples, “to go out to the whole world to proclaim the good news,” which is in essence communicating the person and message of Jesus, for the values he stood for and died for!  Though the mandate is given to every single disciple of Jesus, Catholic Communicators have a specific responsibility of doing so, because of the very nature of their mission.

Protests in 12 Indian cities against Japan, G7 ‘push’ for natural gas, 'false' solutions in Asia

By Ashwin Parthasarathy*  Climate campaigners and groups held rallies in 12 cities of India have protested against Japan and the G7’s continued promotion of fossil gas and technologies. The protests happened ahead of the G7 Leaders Summit scheduled on May 19-21 in Hiroshima, Japan. Japan is this year’s G7 president and the only Asian member of the grouping of seven of the world's advanced economies, including Canada, Italy, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, all prominent fossil fuel financiers.

Undermining law, breastfeeding? Businesses 'using' celebrities to promote baby food

By Rajiv Shah  A report prepared by the top child welfare NGO, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), has identified as many as 15 offenders allegedly violating the Indian baby food law, the Infant Milk Substitutes Feeding Bottles, and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 1992, and Amendment Act 2003 (IMS Act), stating, compliance with the law “seems to be dwindling by the day.”

Climate impact, risk uneven due to unequal society, are mediated by non-climatic factors

By Garbhit Naik*, Mansee Bal Bhargava**  Climate change induced devastations of all the life forms on earth have begun by hampering the natural processes and their ability to adapt. Water, which has its own natural process of availability through water cycle is heavily impacted. Climate change is directly affecting the ability to predict the periodic availability of water which forms the basis of life on earth.

Karnataka 'warning bell': Hindutva defeated, not down, BJP may turn 'more reactionary'

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The defeat of BJP-led Hindutva politics in Karnataka is cause for celebration and hope for India's secular constitutional democracy. The people of Karnataka rejected divisive and bigoted politics under Narendra Modi's leadership. His campaign focused on polarization, while the Congress Party led a positive campaign. The Congress Party successfully consolidated its votes and organization, countering Hindutva propaganda with its five 'guarantees' policy promises.

'Supposed' alternative media, NewsClick, The Wire, only react to issues: Journos claim

By Our Representative  Speaking at an event, Journalism at Risk: Discussion About Attack on Freedom of Speech and Expression, held at the HKS Surjeet Bhavan, Delhi, several speakers highlighted the need to develop real alternative media amidst “on-going attacks by the Indian state against journalists and independent media.”

'Gender bias': A male bastion, Phalke award 'bypasses' top actresses of yesteryears

By Bharat Dogra*  Twenty years after independence a most creative phase of Hindi cinema was ushered in after some of the best films were made. Leading actors of the era had an enduring impact, which continues to this day. Four of the best and most popular heroes, with very wide impact on society (Ashok Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand) received the Dada Phalke award, the highest award of Indian cinema.

'Obnoxious' practice of VVIP, preferential treatment in temples to privileged people

By NS Venkataraman*  In the earlier days, there was restriction for entry in the place of worship for people based on caste and creed. This practice prevailed in several religions. Though such practice has now been largely given up due to proactive campaign, the practice is still prevalent in some places. Hopefully, this practice would go away completely soon. While the above practice is under debate for several years now, the most obnoxious practice seen today is the practice of providing preferential entry in the place of worship for those who pay entry fee, as against those who do not pay or who cannot afford to pay entry fee and opt for free darshan.

'Christians increasingly targeted': US State Dept report cites Indian Muslim diaspora NGO

By Our Representative  In an unprecedented move, a high-profile US State Department document on religious freedom, in what may be considered as a move to provide legitimacy to the Muslim diaspora group Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), has quoted the NGO to suggest how anti-Christian violence has been rocking India. 

Ukraine war: Progenitor of non-alignment, India’s 'silence, callousness' is worrisome

By Sudhanshu Tripathi*  Amidst recent grand show of Russian victory parade, Moscow apparently stands upbeat with its massive display of latest armaments to the whole world. However, the drone targeting of Kremlin on 03 May 2023, allegedly by Ukraine to assassinate Russian President Putin, the over-a-year long continuing Russia-Ukraine war has attained a new height.

How dominant knowledge is racially managed, sexually controlled, territorially prejudiced

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Universities are no longer producing critical mass to question power for social, political and economic transformation of society for greater common goods. Universities are no longer producing independent knowledge traditions to address essentialist and emancipatory needs of individuals and societies in short run and long run.

2018 Tuticorin police firing: CM Stalin asked to enquire into 'action taken, justice delivered'

Counterview Desk  Jury members of the independent fact-finding team led by Justice BG Kolse Patil, former judge, Bombay High Court, set up to look into the Tuticorin police firing on May 22, 2018, in a memorandum to MK Stalin, Tamil Nadu chief minister, have sought his immediate intervention to inquire into "the action taken and justice delivered" into the incident which had rocked the South Indian state.

Delhi demolitions for G-20 summit: Whither sabka saath, sabka vikas?, asks NAPM

By Our Representative  Well-known civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), even as expressing solidarity with “thousands of traumatized residents of Tughlakabad and some other bastis in New Delhi whose homes have been demolished and whose lives have been ravaged both prior to as well as in the lead-up to the G-20 Summit”, has said this is in utter disregard to “their minimum well-being and gross violation of their rights.”

Pay equal pay for equal work, demand Hitachi successor unit contract workers' union

By Harsh Thakor*  After 30 hours duration of sustained struggle, an agreement has arrived between the management and the contract workers, sitting on strike in the plant premises of the company Proterial , Manesar, formerly Hitachi Metals. Under the agreement, the company has consented to not to fire the protesting workers. Credit for this goes to the relentless spirit of the workers.

Emerging technology of Virtual Power Plants can be 'hugely relevant' to Indian planners

By Shankar Sharma*  There is a need to highlight few recent developments in the power sector, which should be of huge relevance to Indian scenario, provided the concerned authorities are serious about the same. In the overall context that the Union govt. is planning to set up 18,000 MW of pumped storage plants (PSPs) by 2032, and in the context of unacceptable and entirely avoidable and huge societal level costs of the same, the concept of Virtual Power Plants (VPP), and another development that eight hour big battery storage system can trump pumped hydro in New South Wales (Australia) long duration storage tender should have huge relevance to our power system. A fast emerging technology in the power sector "Virtual Power Plants" (VPP) should be of huge relevance to our planners. At a high level it can be credibly stated that an effective deployment of this technology can bring down the societal level costs (associated with conventional technology power plants, large size RE

India's power sector AT&C loss 22% amidst 'calamitous' climate change threats

Counterview Desk  Power and climate policy analyst Shankar Sharma, in a letter to RK Singh, Union Minister for power and NRE, with copies to the NITI Aayog vice chairman and the Prime Minister, has said that the reported Technical & Commercial (AT&C) loss in the electricity sector during 2020-21 was 22.32% took place even as the country witnessing “steep degradation” of natural resources -- land, air, water, minerals etc.

Victim of corporatisation of education 'in the name of' liberalism and globalization

By Pushkar Raj*  The message flashed on my phone informing death of a Delhi University, Philosophy Assistant Professor, Samarveer ‘by suicide’ in his rented accommodation near the University! I did not know Samarveer. But that is not important! I was surprised, why would an Assistant Professor with Delhi University, (the second-best job in India, the first being Indian Army), employed with presumably the second-best college of a top University commit suicide?

Entrance exams for professional courses 'are impeding' ideas of justice, fairness, equality

By Gangavath Ekitha, Ayush Bajpai*  Common Law Admission Test and All India Law Entrance Test (CLAT) was introduced in 2008 as a Common Entrance to the so-called Islands of Excellence -- the National Law Universities in India -- or the Law Schools as the students prefer to say. The admission test used to have five different sections, including English, Logical Reasoning, Quantitative Aptitude, General Knowledge Current Affairs and Legal Reasoning.

GoI's 'irresponsible, unscientific' policy on GM mustard seeks to criminalise farmers

Counterview Desk  The Coalition for a GM-Free India has asked the Government of India (GoI) to show how it will prevent farmers from using herbicides on HT mustard crop that received approval in October 2022. In a letter sent to Bhupendar Yadav. Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it said, the GoI has no statutory powers to regulate farmers in their use of herbicides either under Insecticides Act or Environment Protection Act (EPA).

Indian history is 'replete with knowledge' on wise water conservation, management

By Monami Bhattacharya, Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava*  With the increasing pollution and over exploitation of natural resources in the modern times, there is a genuine urge to find our ways back to the roots. While the awareness about tribal/indigenous community efforts of natural resources conservation and management is slowly gaining ground, few actions are also undertaken across the country in order to preserve the traditional knowledge and wisdom that lasted for centuries.

Protest forces Hitachi's successor unit in Manesar to re-instate sacked workers

By Harsh Thakor*  Following protest dharna by contract workers, the management of Manesar’s Proterial plant, which is a successor of the Hitachi Metals India, has been forced to re-instate two union leaders and 50 workers it had sacked. The contract workers had launched a militant strike. This followed the move of the management to sack two labour leaders, leading the company's nearly three hundred contract workers to proteest. The B shift workers left their machines and assembled at the shop floor.

'Enough evidence' in Indian tradition to support legal basis for same-sex marriage

By Iyce Malhotra, Joseph Mathai, Sandeep Chachra*  The ongoing hearing in the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage provides space for much-needed conversations on issues that have hitherto remained “invisible” or engaged with patriarchal locker room humour. We must recognize that people with diverse sexualities and complex gender identities have faced discrimination, stigma and decades of oppression. Their issues have mainly remained buried in dominant social discourse, and many view them with deep insecurities.

Lancet editorial 'lacks' scientific robustness in calling India's Covid data untrustworthy

Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*   The editorial, "India's ascendency: leadership demands integrity," published in Lancet, Vol 401, May 6, 2023  (click here for Counterview report) is a half baked political commentary more in the nature of an armchair exercise missing the finer nuances of the political situation on the ground. Regrettably, the editorial also alleges that the Covid-19 data from India is untrustworthy.

Victim of communal violence, Christians in Manipur want Church leadership to speak up

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  The first eleven days of May 2023 have, in many ways, been a defining period of Indian history! Plenty has happened in a rapid-fire stream of events. Ironically, each one of them are indicators of how crimes and the criminalisation of society has become the ‘new norm’; these include, the May Day rallies with a focus on the four labour codes which are patently against the rights of workers; the U S Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its Annual Report on 1 May stating that conditions for religious freedom in India “continued to worsen in 2022”; the continued protest by the Indian women wrestlers at Jantar Mantar for the expulsion of the chief of the Indian Wrestlers Federation on very serious allegations; the Elections in Karnataka on 10 May (with communalism and corruption as the mainstay); the release of the fake, derogative and insensitive film ‘The Kerala Story’; the release of World Free Press Index on 3 May which places India

Disastrous consequences 'await environment' as govt lifts travel restrictions to Char Dham

Gaumukh By Manasi Hansa*  The Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to four Hindu shrines located in the Himalayan region, has been opened for tourists this year from 22nd April. Until last year the government had put restrictions on the number of devotees allowed per destination which were revised, considering the outpour exceeding the daily limit. The revisions capped the daily limit of 16,000 in Badrinath, 13,000 in Kedarnath, 8,000 in Gangotri and 5,000 in Yamunotri, however this year, these restrictions were altogether abolished through a government order just a day before the commencement of the Yatra. The question remains whether this revision makes sense considering the eco-sensitivity of the Himalayan region. The Himalayan region is known for its fragile ecology, threatened by human activity over the years. Linking the Char Dham Project, comprising the widening of an 825 km road network is set to claim 56,000 trees in total, out of which 36,000 have already been chopped as of 2021.

Indo-Bangladesh borders one of the 'most vulnerable, violent': Plea to Amit Shah

By Kirity Roy*  On the occasion of the Birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, on 9th May 2023, Amit Shah, home minister of the Union government, visited West Bengal to take part in a programme. We heartily welcome his visit. As he visited the State, we want him to look into a few issues of the citizens residing at Indo-Bangladesh border villages to his notice. We hope that he will take cognizance of these matters and take prompt actions to resolve these issues.

Assam citizenship updation process in limbo despite FIR against ex-NRC chief, Wipro

By Nava Thakuria*  After a number of FIRs for alleged involvement with National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation scam in Assam, much talked about Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Prateek Hajela now faces a case registered in the Kamrup (metro) chief judicial magistrate’s court (CR/155/2023, 12 April 2023).

10 crore unorganised labour 'still left out' of ration card purview: Census 2021 deferment

By Our Representative  Even as welcoming the Supreme Court order to provide ration cards to eight crore migrant/ unorganised workers, the civil rights organisation Right to Food Campaign (RFC) has expressed the apprehension that an estimated about 10 crore of them would still be left out.

'Reinstate 13 suspended, 17 expelled workers': Belsonica union leaders begin protest fast

By Harsh Thakor*  Even as its trade union leaders embarked on hunger strike from 4th May, Maruti Suzuki’s components manufacturing unit Belsonica’s management is being accused of violating the orders/ instructions of the Labour Department and the Administrative Officer by suspending 13 labourers and terminating 17 labourers from their jobs.

'Fight communalism politically': West Bengal rights group opposes ban on Kerala Story

By Our Representative  The Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a human rights organisation based in West Bengal, opposing the ban imposed by the State government on the movie "The Kerala Story", has said that such a move will give "negative publicity to the attempts of communal polarization."

Why freedom to choose love is great equalizer in age of class, caste, gender discrimination

  By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*   Modern nation-states were established to secure citizenship rights and ensure egalitarian and democratic governance based on constitutional rules and regulations shaped by the values of secularism and science. These principles are central to governance and public administration. States and governments can manage various conflicts during the governance process for greater common good by adhering to constitutional values based on science and secularism.