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Showing posts from January, 2024

As free space shrinks, Gujarat human rights meet wonders: Where do we go from here?

By Rajiv Shah  In yet another confirmation of how space for free expression is shrinking in Gujarat, a human rights conference, attended by some well-known names – Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, environmentalist Vandana Shiva, People’s Union for Civil Liberties leader Kavita Shrivastava, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, among others – was held at a private terrace in Ahmedabad instead of a public space.

Uphold human rights, democratic values in relations with India: Euro Parliament insists

By Our Representative  A European Parliament resolution on India, which seeks to address the critical concerns surrounding human rights and religious freedom issues in India, has expressed concern over "violence, increasing nationalistic rhetoric, and divisive policies" and called upon Indian political leaders to refrain from making inflammatory statements, insisting on the importance of upholding "human rights and democratic values" in EU-India relations.

Gandhi's strong emphasis on experimenting with frugality in food, health, education

By Bharat Dogra*  What is common to the great struggles associated with such great leaders as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Badshah Khan in places so distant from each other? What is common to such famous environmental movements as Chipko/Appiko (for saving forests) and Narmada Bachao Andolan (for saving rivers)? 

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha role in Gandhiji's murder? What documentary evidence reveals

By Shamsul Islam*  Following is the compilation in chronological order the communications of Sardar Patel's home ministry, his letters to Nehru, Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Golwalkar on Gandhiji's murder. This chronological presentation shows how Sardar Patel developed his understanding (which must have been based on facts supplied by his officials) of the alleged role of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha involved in Gandhiji's assassination.

'Fake encounter': Chhattisgarh's Abujmarh has 3 paramilitary personnel for every 7 locals

Counterview Desk  The civil rights network*, Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM), commenting on what it calls “fake encounter of three Villagers in Nendra, Bijapur”, Chhattisgarh, has said that the incident comes “as part of the escalation that began on the 1st January 2024, when the Indian state initiated Operation Kagar in Abujmarh area, as an expansion to the ongoing Operation Samadhan-Prahar (OSP).”

How political citizenship is being undermined to favour 'moral and religious' agenda

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Citizenship is a product of working-class struggles against feudalism, colonialism, fascism, Nazism, capitalism, imperialism, and all other forms of authoritarian dominance. These struggles have led to the deepening of democracy and expansion of citizenship rights. Therefore, citizenship is a product of political struggles to ensure the collective realization of inalienable individual freedom. Essentialist freedoms are based on the immediate needs of individuals, families, societies, and states, while emancipatory freedoms are rooted in struggles to change conditions that act as obstacles to realizing both essentialist and emancipatory freedoms. Essentialist freedom contributes to emancipatory freedom, establishing conditions central to the creation of global citizenship without any form of discrimination and exploitation.

'Stop arbitrary blockades on roads to farm land, mosque off West Bengal border'

Counterview Desk  In a complaint to the District Magistrate, Coochbehar, West Bengal, human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), has said that there is “unlawful restriction of villagers” from not only going to their own farmlands”, but also their mosque, imposed by BSF personnel in the Jhaukuthi Village of Tufanganj I block, under Tufanganj PS.

Climate emergency: No official substantiation why India focuses on coal, nuclear power

By Shankar Sharma*  In the new year, will the Government of India fulfill the much needed commitment and success in formulating and implementing effective policies to meet the growing electricity demand of our people on a sustainable basis and at the lowest overall cost to the society?

'Climate destruction': Top Asian banks, three from India, keep doors open to finance coal

By Rajiv Shah  A new report released by a top Netherlands-based advocacy group, BankTrack , has said that of the nine major Asian banks which “are open for business in coal, dirtiest of fossil fuel” three are from India: State Bank of India, Axis Bank and Bank of Baroda. Other major Asian banks in the business of coal are Mizuho, SMBC and MUFG in Japan, and Bank Mandiri, Rakyat and Negara in Indonesia.

Broadcasting Bill to 'control' digital media, put small news operators out of business

By Our Representative   In a submission to the I&B Ministry, the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) has raised concerns over the proposed Broadcasting Bill with its potential to control and overregulate broadcast and digital media. NWMI said, the Bill could drastically alter the media landscape in India and exhorted the government to refrain from going ahead with it without exhaustive consultations with all stake-holders.

Why the temple that PM inaugurated at Babri site could, in time, be called Modi Mandir

By Rosamma Thomas*  A webinar on recent developments in India on the occasion of Republic Day saw one speaker mention that if the mosque that Mughal Emperor Babur built at Ayodhya was named Babri Masjid, then the temple that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated at the same site on January 22, 2024 could, in time, be named “Modi Mandir”. 

Temples should propagate equal respect to all religions: Gandhi on inaugurating Birla Temple

By Ram Puniyani*  Satyapal Malik, the ex-Governor of many states stated that the role of Pulwama and Balakot was very much there in the victory of Modi-BJP in the previous 2019 General elections. He also predicted some other major spectacle may happen before the 2024 elections. The hysteria created around the temple consecration is a spectacle of high order. 

Well-planned Hindutva strategy to convert India into a theocratic, totalitarian state?

By Shamsul Islam*  Ever since Narendra Modi, who claims to be a ‘Hindu nationalist’ and is a member of RSS, took charge as PM of India, the largest democracy in the world has had no respite from receiving fatal blows. The consecration of Ram Temple by Modi performing the role of a main priest on January 22, 2024 seems to be the beginning of end of the Indian Republic.

Bilkis case: When those who greet criminals with garlands are exonerated of crime

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  While ruling on Bilkis Bano's plea against the amnesty granted to the gang rape and murder perpetrators, the Supreme Court categorically termed the amnesty granted to the 11 criminals as fraudulent and termed the Gujarat government's act as an attempt to encroach on justice.  According to the Supreme Court's decision, even if the eleven rape and murder accused get some leniency in their sentences, it will come under the purview of the Maharashtra government and not the Gujarat government, where the court handed down the sentences.

How India’s ascendance as a major power is 'threatening' US-led global order strategy

By John P Ruehl*  Since mid-2023, a series of assassination plots have strained India’s relations with Canada and the U.S. In June 2023 , a Sikh separatist activist living in Canada was reportedly killed on orders from Indian security services. Subsequently, in November , it came to light that U.S. authorities were investigating an assassination attempt against another Sikh separatist figure on U.S. soil. While India vehemently denied the accusations from Canada, it later committed to conducting an investigation following the accusations by U.S. authorities.

Killing of 35 security personnel: Maoists are still a 'formidable force' in Chhattisgarh

Grenade launcher shells used by PLGA in attack on CRPF camp By Harsh Thakor*  The people of Maad in Chhattisgarh are being hounded and are facing survival crisis due to “Operation Kagar”, a mobilization of the Indian state’s paramilitary, which arose immediately after the victory of the BJP government in Chhattisgarh.

Three persons killed in 'fake encounter' in Chhattisgarh: CASR seeks judicial probe

Counterview Desk  The civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, condemning what it calls “fake encounter" of three villagers by police in Nendra, Chhattisgarh, has demanded immediate judicial enquiry into the fake encounter and the end of killings in the name of curtailing Maoists or national liberation movements.

Will interim budget 2024 focus on rural development to enhance jobs generation?

By Puneet Kumar Shrivastav, Mitali Gupta, Ujala Kumari*  The Union Budget has the potential to impact the lives and livelihoods of all significantly and lastingly, living up to its title of ‘budget for all’. The Interim Budget 2024-25 is going to be critical not only for the incumbent government but also for the common man as this is going to be the last budget of the Modi 2.0 regime.

As pollution levels rise, 91% informal labour 'feel sick', 75% face workplace exposure

By Bharat Dogra*  Many informal sector workers are more exposed to pollution because they work outdoors or else work indoors in polluting conditions. Hence, the health risks they face when air pollution levels are high are much higher compared to the risks faced generally by other citizens.  To avoid high health risks sometimes the authorities place many restrictions on  construction and industrial activities for certain periods of high pollution levels, or else sometimes place a complete ban on construction and certain other activities for extended periods.  When they hear about this, several citizens may heave a sigh of relief as they expect reduction of pollution due to this, but in the case of a large number of workers this means that for an extended period they will have no employment and hence no income.  They may not even be able to arrange such basic needs as vegetables or school fees as they have very limited savings. Hence on both sides of the pollution debate --

Solicitor General of India's utterances in the GM case 'misleading and irrelevant': NGO

Counterview Desk  The  Coalition for a GM Free India has  said, it condemns "misleading and irrelevant" utterances by the Solicitor General in the GM Case, equating the "highly-avoidable risk of some amount of GM edible oil imports illegally with the risk of cultivation of HT crops in Indian conditions. Stating that it "defies the very science of risk assessment", the top advocacy group underlines in a statement, "Several illegal and improper procedures were followed for biosafety assessment and clearance given to environmental release of GM mustard."  It adds, "No health expert participated in the health safety assessment of GM mustard." Text :  The Coalition for a GM-Free India condemns the irrelevant and misleading arguments of the Solicitor General of India on 18th January 2024, when the Supreme Court of India reserved the batch of petitions related to GMOs including GM foods for judgement. Gene technologies in agriculture constitute irr

Pristine rivers before they merge into Ganga suggest pollution crisis is totally manmade

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  After completing my journey of Ganga and Yamuna rivers in the Himalayas, I undertook a journey to see the beauty of river Kali which is known as Mahakali in Nepal and is known as Sarda after Purnagiri hills near Tanakpur in Uttarakhand. We started from Tawaghat, about 30 kilometres from Dharchula town in Pithoragarh district. 

Widely considered pro-India, will Hasina win benefit neighbouring north-eastern region?

By Nava Thakuria*  As Bangladesh went to polls on 7 January 2024 amidst violence and boycott call from the prime opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), it was well predicted that the ruling Awami League (AL) led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will win for the fourth consecutive term to lead the poverty stricken south Asian nation for another five years. Consequently, the 12th general election on Sunday (a working day for the Muslim-majority country of 170 million people) gave an absolute majority to the incumbent AL with 222 seats in Jatiya Sansad, the highest legislative body of the populous country strategically located between India and Myanmar.

Victims of patriarchy, 50% female domestic workers deserted by their husband

By Harasankar Adhikari   Domestic workers are unorganized and mostly unskilled. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), “domestic workers” perform their work in or for one or more households within an employment relationship. The International Labour Organization (2015) estimated that ‘among 67 million domestic workers across the globe, 80% are women’. Women's economic participation increases whether they are educated or not. It is a positive and significant indication of women’s empowerment. Women domestic help engage with work within the homes of their employers as part-time or full-time workers.  The ILO includes tasks like cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, driving family, nourishing children and elderly persons, etc. It has been observed that poor and illiterate or semi-literate female members are doing the job of domestic help. They are unaware of their rights and privileges. They have to face many unseen and hidden minor and major problems in their fami

Pandemics to become new route to global power grab? Introspection on the eve of R Day

By Amitav Banerjee, MD*  Our Constitution declares India as a "democratic republic." This confers on India the haloed status of not only being a democracy but also a republic. Since 1950, India has celebrated the Republic Day separately from the Independence Day. India's status as a Republic distinguishes it from some other democracies like Canada, Australia and New Zealand which still retain the British Monarch as their formal head. In addition to this, and more importantly, the roots of India's republic are deep and its meaning profound.

Robust scientific review suggests: rivals US, China 'exposed' world to pandemic risks

By Bharat Dogra*  It is a paradox that the point of research which became most controversial in the context of the COVID origin debate had a curious situation of a high-risk project in a Chinese lab being pursued with funds from the USA! This led to an even more curious situation in which powerful persons from both sides had an interest in covering up several inconvenient facts.

Percentage of firms reporting 'normal’ sales come down to 46 from 50: IIM-A survey

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad's (IIM-A’s) Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), has found that if there has been moderation in cost pressures, the sales expectations too have moderated, with about 46% of the firms reporting ‘normal’ or greater sales in November 2023, down from 50% reported a month earlier.

Why it's a choice between BJP's extreme and Congress' soft communalism in 2024 polls

By Prem Singh*  This article is the sequel to my three previous articles on this subject namely – ‘ Relevance of the Third Front ’ (May 2014), ‘ Lok Sabha Elections 2019: A Perspective for Opposition Unity – One ' (June 2018) amd ‘ Lok Sabha Elections 2019: A Perspective for Opposition Unity – Two ' (April 2019). Apart from these, the article ‘ Opposition alliance's knots and Muslims ’ (October 2018) can also be seen in this regard.

Odisha CM's Tamil aide Pandian's ambition 'poses challenge' to BJP, Congress leaders

By Sudhansu R Das  Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s close aide, VK Pandian, who is now the chairman of Nabin Odisha (a government welfare scheme) and 5T (transformational initiatives) questioned the ability of Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister’s ability to create employment opportunities in his own constituency. 

Naveen Patnaik's 'permanent invitation' to Hindutva in Odisha and irrelevance of Left

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Government of Odisha, led by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, provides massive funding to revive all religious institutions and their practices in the state. These religious initiatives are part of his political strategy to counter the BJP in the upcoming state and general elections.  "In competitive religious politics, Naveen Patnaik leaves no stone unturned to defeat the BJP and its Hindutva politics in Odisha," said a well-meaning comrade, who has been in the state leadership of left politics for more than five decades. Such a compassionate and confident political understanding and justification gives secular credentials to the religious politics pursued by Naveen Patnaik, who has been centrally responsible for providing government platforms by forming alliances with the BJP in the past.  However, Patnaik's religious politics and funding for all religious denominations in the state do not represent t

West Bengal border area woman 'assaulted', relatives, villagers maltreated: NHRC told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), human rights defender Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity, has said that a minority community woman from a border area village was "assaulted and molested" after Border Security Force (BSF) personnel "illegally" banged into her house. Taking strong exception to police inaction despite complaint, Roy said, her family members and other villagers who tried to intervene were also maltreated. "The BSF personnel prevented the ambulance from reaching her residence for nearly 4 hours. This is an act of criminal conspiracy with the only motive being to prevent the injured from seeking treatment", he added. Text : With deep concerns, we would like to inform you about an incident of molestation and torture perpetrated upon a woman after trespassing into her residence by serving BSF (Bord

How Bilkis Bano, and all those who believe in truth and justice, stand vindicated

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  On 8 January 2024, Bilkis Bano stood vindicated! Her relentless quest for truth and justice met with triumph, as the Supreme Court of India, quashed the Gujarat Government's decision to allow premature release of convicts in the gangrape case where she was the victim; a heinous, brutal crime which took place during the Gujarat carnage of 2002!

Ram temple won't bring Ram Rajya in UP, 'may ensure' political victory for BJP in Lok Sabha

By Sandeep Pandey*     A Ram temple consecration ceremony is scheduled in Ayodhya on 22 January. This temple is being built, after demolition of a mosque at the same place, in the name of a Hindu deity who is described as epitome of virutes. The act of demolition, described by a Supreme Court judgement as criminal act, was carried out by political organizations believing in Hindutva ideology. The land was given by the same Supreme Court judgement for building a temple. But again political organisations have taken over and want to take credit for the consecration ceremony. The role of Bhartiya Janata Party as a political organization is understandable but the ruling party has involved the entire government paraphernalia in this process. The money being spent to make it a special event is sheer madness. Since when did it become the government’s job to build temples, especillay in a country which abides by a Secular Constitution? The Prime Minister is going around as the chief priest of t

Consecration of Lord Ram’s idol: Which one? Baffling riddle of the temple at Ayodhya

By Shamsul Islam*  According to the Supreme Court of India (Ayodhya Judgment dated November 9, 2019), “The exclusion of the Muslims from worship and possession took place on the intervening night between 22/23 December 1949 when the mosque was desecrated by the installation of Hindu idols.” [Supreme Court Ayodhya Judgment, pp. 921-22]. The idol of Ram Lalla (Ram as child) which was placed under the central dome of in the Babri Mosque (claimed to be the exact place where Ram took birth) was made of metal and was of nine inches tall. It was the idol which was worshipped that time onward and continued to be worshipped after demolition of the Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992 in the make-shift temple by Hindus. However, on January 22, 2024 a 51-inch stone idol of Ram Lalla will be consecrated through a Brahmanical  ritual called as ‘pran-pratishtha’ (putting soul into an idol) ceremony ) in the newly built Ram Temple at Ayodhya.  “On January 22, 2024, PM Narendra Modi will perform the Pran