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Showing posts from October, 2023

Assamese singer, lyricist, composer, music director wins US award for song 'Xomoy'

By Prantik Deka   It's indeed a proud moment for Assam and the country as the popular and talented Assamese singer, lyricist, composer and music director Neeshantt Nitul has won the Best Song in the International Category at the prestigious 'American Track Music Awards (ATMA) 2023' for the song 'Xomoy' (The Time).

Seeking to contain China? US actions towards India 'aren’t motivated' by shared values

By Shaun Narine*  Canada’s deepening divide with India following its accusation that the Indian government was responsible for the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar has revealed a cynical truth: the West’s interest in democracy and rules-based international order is largely empty rhetoric.

Missing? Perpetual surveillance, inspection, monitoring, maintenance of 23 Himachal dams

By Archana Vaidya, Himanshu Thakkar*  In order to have high standards of dam safety the prerequisites are designing and constructing dams with reasonable safety margins; operating and maintaining them safely; and having emergency arrangements to address situations that might arise.

Gujarat epicentre of targeted violence against minorities, says compilation of 55 'attacks'

By Our Representative  Last year as many as 55 “attacks” on minority communities in Gujarat took place, a compilation of each of these incidents by a state civil rights group has said. Compiled by the Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a report enumerating these incidents was released in Ahmedabad at a meeting of around 70 minority community leaders from different districts of Gujarat.

72 Chinese cos use leopard, pangolin, tiger, rhino parts in traditional medicines: UK study

By Paul Woolwich*  A new Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) UK investigation has found the body parts of threatened leopards and pangolins are being used as ingredients in at least 88 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) products. Manufactured by 72 Chinese companies and licensed by the National Medical Products Administration of China, some of those identified also contain tiger and rhino, in contravention of recommendations made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The facts are contained in the new EIA report  "Investing in Extinction – How the global financial sector profits from traditional medicine firms using threatened species." EIA has also identified 62 banks and financial institutions – many of them Fortune 500 companies and household names – based in Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and USA which have invested in three publicly listed Chinese pharmaceutical groups manufacturing nin

Odisha CM 'fails to build' second line of leadership; gap rampant in other parties, too

By Sudhansu R Das*  The septuagenarian Chief Minister, Naveen Pattnaik, has ruled Odisha for more than two and half decade. Though, he has built good roads, bridges and schools in the state, he has not groomed a strong Odia leader in the state who is capable of safeguarding the vast mineral resources, build Odisha specific infrastructures, protect the rich Odia culture, create employment, prevent massive migration of the native Odias to other states. 

Lockdown story of migrant workers who walked hundreds of km to reach their home

By Bharat Dogra*  Bhaiyaram Lakshman is a youth from Naugavaa village located in Naraini block of Banda district ( Uttar Peadesh). He was working in Hyderabad as a construction worker when lockdown was declared. After waiting for a few days he decided to leave with two other friends from the area. After walking on the highway for a long time they managed to get a ride in a truck.

US senator floats resolution to end religious, political 'persecution' of minorities in India

By Our Representative  In an embarrassing move for the Government of India, United States Senator Tammy Baldwin has introduced of a Senate resolution calling for an end to religious and political persecution in India in order to "defend" the principles of democracy and justice in the country. The resolution underscores the centrality of religious freedom as a fundamental human right and emphasizes the responsibility of the United States to speak out against its violation wherever it may occur.

Hierarchy vs 'unutilised' expertise? Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son on Reliance board

Anant Ambani By NS Venkataraman*  Recently,  big controversy  arose over the proposal to appoint Mukesh Ambani’s youngest son, who is said to be just 28 years old, on the Board of the family controlled Reliance Industries Ltd.  A share holders services company has expressed its concern about appointing a person with little experience in the board of a large and technologically advanced company and has asked the share holders to vote against the proposal.

Ambedkarite scholar as critic of Gandhian nationalism from anti-caste perspective

By Abhay Kumar*  At the JNU Library Canteen, Dr. Umakant came to me and asked, "Do you recognise this person?" "No" was my reply. Afterwards, he said he [the man in the centre of the frame] was G Aloysius. On hearing this, I felt as if I had found treasure. "Sir, I am Abhay. I have read your works. Your book 'Nationalism Without a Nation in India' was an eye-opener for me. You have brilliantly critiqued nationalist historiography."

Typical Delhi 'company' worker 'can't hope to earn' more than Rs 7,000 per month

By Bharat Dogra*  Problems of working class colonies in Delhi get very little attention in the city’s media, but as recent visits to three such colonies revealed, these can be very serious. What is common to all these three colonies is that the earnings of most households do not allow them to have any savings as with great difficulty they can only manage the essential expenses.

Odisha govt services at doorstep? People have to travel up to 20 km to access MSKs

By Our Representative  Accessibility challenges, lack of adequate infrastructure, information dissemination, and varied fees taken from the Mo Seba Kendra (MSK) pose a major challenge in farmer’s registration in the Krushak Odisha portal, revealed a recent study conducted by Atmashakti Trust, Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha, and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha.

Epitome of artistry, few cricketers were as forthright as Bedi, called spade a spade

By Harsh Thakor*  Legendary Bishen Singh Bedi just left us. An ornament has departed from the cricket world. Without doubt one of the greatest spin bowlers or left arm bowlers of all time. Bedi was the ultimate epitome or mascot of cricketing grace. His was easy run up, action and follow through poetry in motion, with the rhythm of a snake dancer.

Did Israel 'embolden' Hamas to confront PLO, nullify any possibility of Palestinian state?

By Prem Singh*  It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Hamas is responsible for the genocide of Palestinians being carried out by Israel in the Gaza Strip since October 7. However, it is also a fact that for the killings of Israeli civilians in Hamas’ October 7 attack, Israel and its supporting countries are responsible even before Hamas. This fact has come to light from many sources.

India No 1 in world coal mining boom, thanks to Coal India, Adani Group: German NGO

By Rajiv Shah  Urgewald, a German environment and human rights NGO, which claims to be working for establishing strong environmental and social standards for the international finance industry, has called India "the number one hotspot of the coal mining boom" in the world. It states this in a report "The 2023 Global Coal Exit List (GCEL): Failing the Phase-Out", prepared by Urgewald and more than 40 NGO partners, seeking to offer in-depth information on over 1,433 companies operating worldwide along the thermal coal value chain.

Spot observation: 40% to 100% open defecation across 10 rural and urban clusters

By Bharat Dogra*  The recent emphasis of the sanitation campaign particularly the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM Rural and SBM Urban) on achieving ODF (Open Defecation Free) status in villages and slums has led to varying levels of success in various places. On the other hand we have situations close to complete success but on the other hand we also have situation close to almost complete failure or very limited success.

In this remote UP village, landowners 'stop' school going children, put them to work

By Bharat Dogra*  Baurapurva village, located in Naraini block of Banda district, is inhabited by the people of Kevat community known for their close association with rivers and inland water sources. This village was earlier located very close to the Ken river but it was devastated in the floods of 1978 caused by sudden and excess release of dam water. Then it was relocated at the present site. 

Ongoing ethnic, religious tension, violence 'hinder' Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar

By Dr Pranab Kumar Panday*  In a recent article published in the South China Morning Post , attention is drawn to the escalating tensions and violence in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. While it is essential to shed light on the challenges faced by this vulnerable community, it is equally important to provide a balanced perspective that considers the broader context of this complex issue.

India's anti-terror law used to silence top activist: US religious freedom commissioner

By Our Representative  At a Congressional briefing in Washington DC, while condemning the "wrongful incarceration" of well-known activist Umar Khalid, US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Eric Ueland called Khalid a “staunch defender of religious minorities” who “peacefully protested… discriminatory legislation.”

UP ATS arrest of activist couple for Maoist links: Timing suspicious, claims CASR

Counterview Desk   Civil rights network Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)* statement on arrest of activists Brijesh Kushwaha and his 3 months pregnant wife Prabha Kushwaha by UP ATS on charges of Maoist connection: Text:  On October 18, the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested activists Brijesh Kushwaha of the Mazdoor Kisan Ekta Manch and Prabha Kushwaha of the Savitri Bai Phule Sangharsh Samiti. Both are married and Prabha is three months pregnant. She had travelled to her maternal home in Raipur, Chhattisgarh to be with her family. In 2019, the activists were named in an FIR but were not arrested due to lack of “credible material evidence.”

'Welfare scheme slashed': 90% drop in Delhi construction workers' registration

By Bharat Dogra*  Construction work is now second only to that of agriculture in terms of its employment potential in India. Many construction workers -- both men and women -- are widely known to toil and live in very difficult conditions, and hence there is special need to protect their rights and take important welfare measures for them. This is all the more true in the context of women construction workers.

Indian business profits, sales deteriorate, no significant change in costs: IIM-A survey

Profit margins: % response By Our Representative  The periodical Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A’s) Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which seeks to provide ways to examine the amount of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders, has said that about 61% of the firms reported ‘much less than normal’ or ‘somewhat less than normal’ sales in July 2023 – up from 56% reported in June 2023.

Supreme Court 'departs' from international law: Right to marry not a fundamental right?

By Kavita Srivastava, V Suresh*  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) expresses its deep disappointment with respect to the verdict of the Supreme Court in `Supriyo v Union of India’ denying the right to marry to the LGBTQI community. While there were four opinions among the five judges, it is unfortunate that the bench was unanimous in declaring that there is no fundamental right to marriage. This is disturbing as the foundation of the claim for equal right to marriage is based on an understanding that the right to marry is a fundamental right.

Communal division? Bengali Muslim waste pickers kept away from Swacch Bharat meet

By Sanjeev Danda*  "Had I not been poor, I would not be collecting waste. If I could find work at home, I would not be in Delhi struggling to earn money", said Manju, a waste picker from Bhuapur, Ghaziabad in the Press Conference organised by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) on the exclusion of waste pickers from the Waste Management System held at the Press Club of India, New Delhi.

'Colonial project': Palestinian conflict result of imperial policies in 20th century first half

By Saurav Sarkar*  Israeli flags are flying over all government buildings in the United Kingdom currently, but this isn’t the first time the former imperial hegemon has put its weight behind Zionism. In 1917, the British government issued the infamous Balfour Declaration .

Cop 'clampdown' on pro-Palestine protests, social media comments across India

By Our Representative  The civil rights network* Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) has said that "attacks" by the Indian government have intensified following the 7th October 2023 "Palestinian resistance against the Zionist entity of Israel, against all who are coming in solidarity with the Palestinian people".

New round of raids, arrest of rights leaders across India 'in the light of 2024 elections'

Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, SR Darapuri By Our Representative  The civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, commenting on what it calls “a new round of raids and arrests" across India last week, has said that the action by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted in Delhi at Fazalpur, Shaheen Bagh, Okhla and Chandni Chowk, in Bhopal, Thane, Tonk, Gangapur, Lucknow, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Kanpur, Gorakhpur and Madurai, suggest the scale of “overall repression and scare tactics” in the light of the upcoming 2024 elections.

Food security? Union govt decision reduces ration entitlement of 81 cr people by 50%

By Aysha, Gangaram Paikra*  The celebration of World Food Day on 16th October began in 1979 as a way to commemorate the founding date of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. This year, the theme for World Food Day was “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind”, which acknowledges the link between water and how it is impacted by what we eat, and how that food is produced.

Rice fortification: Why no health warning for thalassemia, sickle cell patients?, asks SC

By Our Representative  In response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by citizens challenging the government's iron fortified rice program, the Supreme Court has directed the Union government to respond to concerns raised which focus on the government’s noncompliance with their own warnings that caution patients of Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease to not to consume iron or to use it only under strict medical supervision. Although citizens had written to several government departments as well as some state food commissioners, they received no response.

How technology, investment, family network 'improved' migrant small fishers' lives

By Jag Jivan  New research from University of East Anglia, UK, reveals how internal migration can work more productively for marginalized groups, in this case, of fishers. The research also highlights the criticality of women’s contributions, both direct and through their social reproductive and networking activities, in achieving wellbeing and sustainability outcomes.

Xi's 'increasingly aggressive' foreign policy turning China into regional antagonist

By John P Ruehl*  In the waning days of August 2023, closely following a BRICS summit and mere days ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and G20 meetings, Beijing revealed its latest seemingly innocuous “standard” map. Having been released regularly since at least 2006 , China’s standard maps are aimed to eliminate “problem maps” that do not affirm China’s territorial integrity. 

Apply, apply, no reply? RTI faces quiet death as CIC is all set to go into 'lockdown mode'

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2023, twenty-four hours after being released by police after 10 days of questioning by Karnataka police in a case of theft of a motorcycle, Muniraju, a 24-year-old villager in Andhra Pradesh, died.  Karnataka police did not publish details of the arrest on their website, as required by law; when a concerned citizen sought CCTV footage of the police station, that request was stonewalled by the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Nangali Police Station in Kolar district, where the questioning occurred. 

Bureaucrats 'working silently' with WHO for one-size-fits-all One World, One Bed policy

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Procrustes in Greek mythology was the owner of an estate In Corydalus in Attica, between Athens and Eleusis where mysterious rites were performed. He had a strange way of looking after his guests. He had an iron bed on which he invited them to rest after treating them to a generous dinner. But there was a catch.

Why Modi’s support to Israel in its war with Palestine 'shouldn't surprise' anyone

By Shamsul Islam*  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support to Israel in its current war with Palestine should not surprise anyone, as ideologically Hindutva and Zionism are natural partners. Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism.

Skill training? Modi scheme 'ignores' weavers, who are the biggest category of artisans

By Bharat Dogra*  On September 17, 2023 the Indian government launched its scheme for traditional artisans and crafts persons which had been announced earlier on August 15 Independence Day. This scheme, called PM Vishwakarma Scheme (PM-VS), has a budget of INR 13,000 crore to be spent over the next five years up to 2027-28, or an average annual budget of INR 2,600 crore, largely on collateral-free loans and skills training. The scheme has been placed under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Funding 233 projects for $44 billion, AIIB 'accepts no complaints' from affected people

Counterview Desk  Even as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced its long-awaited review of its Project-affected People’s Mechanism at its annual meeting in Egypt 25-26 September 2023, a new research, published by Recourse, Inclusive Development International and Accountability Counsel, has highlighted that the AIIB has not accepted a single complaint since its establishment five years ago.

Sikkim floods: Teesta was dammed beyond limit 'ignoring' Himalayas' fragile ecosystem

By Our Representative  Participating in a webinar on ‘Dams, Development and the Teesta Floods’, organised by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) in Delhi, experts and activists have asserted that the recent Sikkim floods were actually a “disaster foretold.”

Little discussion in India on Bishop Vigano, who created 'ripples' in Catholic world

By Rosamma Thomas*  Bishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as the ambassador of the Vatican to the United States between 2011 and 2016, raised points worth consideration in a video released after the Catholic Identity Conference on October 1 at Pittsburg in the United States.  The speech had been prepared for the conference, but since it was not delivered there, it was released later. Entitled ‘Vitium Consensus’ – flawed consensus – the bishop pointed to the possible influence of the Clinton Foundation on the current Pope, and questioned the direction in which the Jesuit Pope was taking the Catholic church.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Indian democracy so fragile it's threatened by Arundhati's 13-yr-old dissenting note?: PUCL

Counterview Desk  Insisting that dissent is the beating heart of a democracy, India's premier human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has demanded withdrawal of prosecution sanctioned against well known writer Arundhati Roy for offences under sections 153A, 153B and 505 of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to her speech at a convention on Kashmir, ‘Azadi: The Only Way’, organised in New Delhi in October 2010.

Bundelkhand grassroots activist's tryst with 'rich folk tradition' of weaker sections

By Bharat Dogra*  Lok Laya is an annual festival of folk arts, music and dance of Bundelkhand organized in Chitrakut district by Samaj Seva Sansthaan, along with the involvement and support of other organizations, which has become a meeting and solidarity point for several performing folk artists of the region scattered in various remote villages. They wait eagerly for the invitation and the endearing phone call from the main organizer, Gaya Prasad Gopal.

Hamas attack result of 'political grammar' imposed by Israeli occupation on Palestinians

By Vijay Prashad*  Who knows how many Palestinian civilians will be killed by the time this report is published? Among the bodies that cannot be taken to a hospital or a morgue, because there will be no petrol or electricity, will be large numbers of children. They will have hidden in their homes, listening to the sound of the Israeli F-16 bombers coming closer and closer, the explosions advancing toward them like a swarm of red ants on the chase. They will have covered their ears with their hands, crouched with their parents in their darkened living rooms, waiting, waiting for the inevitable bomb to strike their home. By the time the rescue workers get to them under the mountains of rubble, their bodies would have become unrecognizable, their families weeping as familiar clothing or household goods are excavated. Such is the torment of the Palestinians who live in Gaza.

Banda 'honour' killing: Gulab, wife Kamla continue fight for justice despite threats

By Bharat Dogra*  Honour killing is a terrible crime and a serious social problem. So anyone struggling against this in the middle of great hostility deserves help and sympathy. However, in the case of Gulab Rajput this help is deserved even more as he has shown great courage and determination in continuing this struggle – he was himself the victim of a hit and run incident and in this seriously injured state he sat with his wife Kamla on a fast-cum-dharna for 10 days to demand justice. Despite his rapidly dwindling resources and growing threats to him he has not given up his efforts.

Medical profession down the ages: From individual art to 'authoritarian' science

By Dr Amitav Banerjee*  Entering medical college in the 1970’s was a totally different experience than it is today. We felt we have arrived unlike today’s medical students for whom the MBBS course is the first step on a long, stressful and uncertain professional journey.

California governor has put concerns of 'privileged' diaspora castes over civil rights

By Raju Rajagopal*  When Sen. Strom Thurmond and other Southern Democrats set out to defeat the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s, they argued that there was no need to take any measures to counter racism in the United States, since, in Thurmond’s words, “there are already ample laws on the statute books.”

India imports hazardous asbestos from China, Brazil amidst 'declining' Russian supply

Orenburg Minerals, Russian giant specialising in asbestos mining By Laurie Kazan-Allen  The release in August 2023 of updated asbestos trade data provided food for thought. While much seems to have changed since I first began studying the industry over 30 years ago – including the dwindling number of countries producing and consuming asbestos – the fact that 1,330,000 tonnes (t) are still being used every year, despite all that is known about the asbestos hazard, is appalling.

Govt of India's additional renewal energy push 'not consistent' with demand growth

By Shankar Sharma*  This has reference to my earlier observation on the subject of Amendments to Electricity Rules 2020. Two recent news reports, Government issues 8-point plan to ensure power supply amid record demand and India would need 74 GW energy storage capacity for RE integration by 2032 , can be said to draw our attention to the overall effectiveness/ ineffectiveness of our power sector policies.

It's not an outright ban; why are other highly hazardous pesticides left out?: PAN India

Counterview Desk  Even as welcoming the recent Government of India (GoI) ban on four highly hazardous pesticides, the advocacy group Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India has regretted that the latest order has not banned outright, but qualified the ban with conditions. Government of India gives a window period of one year for farmers to move towards alternatives, PAN India said in a statement.

'False, mischievous': SKM on Newsclick FIR claim, farmers' stir illegally foreign funded

Counterview Desk The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which launched the successful year-long farmers' agitation two years ago off Delhi against the three controversial farm laws, has declared in a statement that it will launch nationwide mass protests against the "BJP-RSS led Modi government for its renewed attack on farmers’ movement through the Newsclick FIR."

Plenty of 'unwarranted fear mongering' about Covid virus, pandemic in The Vaccine War

By Word Virus*  Vivek Agnihotri is one of India’s most interesting film directors. He is known for his political films that often challenged mainstream narratives. Buddha in a Traffic Jam is about Naxalism. His The Tashkent Files explored controversial theories about the mysterious death of India’s Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. His last film, The Kashmir Files , was a heart-wrenching tale that captured the pain and suffering of the persecuted Hindu minorities of Kashmir who have become refugees in their own country. The Vaccine War is Vivek Agnihotri’s new medical drama film. The title of the movie is obviously a pun on the chapter “The vaccine wars” in our article A Short History of Big Pharma colonialism in India . The film features Nana Patekar, Pallavi Joshi, Raima Sen and Anupam Kher.

India reports 7,000 plus pesticide poison cases each year: Top global meet told

Counterview Desk  Advocacy network, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) India, in a note on fifth international chemical conference, held in Bonn last month, has said that the global meet has prepared a framework on chemicals for a safer planet in order to phase-out pesticides internationally by 2035. The Indian delegates at the meet regretted that while more than 120 out of the 330 pesticides registered for use in India qualify to be “highly hazardous”, even though more than half of them are banned in multiple countries.

Despite global protests, Nobel laureate Yunus 'again targeted' by Bangladesh govt

By Nava Thakuria*  Bangladesh’s lone Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is serving as the chairman of Grameen Telecom, appeared before the anti-corruption commission (ACC) in Dhaka on 5 October 2023, as he was summoned over the alleged misappropriation of funds meant for the workers’ benefit. A few others close to Prof Yunus were also summoned to appear before the commission.