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Showing posts from February, 2024

Opposition leaders' ideological vulnerability: Political significance of Rajya Sabha results

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Rajya Sabha poll results have shown  vulnerability of political leaders and their readiness for cross over to BJP, whose muscle power is well known. It uses all methods to win an election, and right now it has all big agencies and money power under its disposal, hence it can easily influence things. Even the presiding officers are  ready to dance to the tune of BJP leaders, as evidenced from the Chandigarh Mayoral elections. It is clear that BJP will do everything to steal the mandate.  

Why Congress’ seat adjustments for Lok Sabha polls may be counterpruductive

By Bharat Dogra*  It is often stated that seat adjustments at the time of elections by opposition parties are very important in India. However, these benefits are easier stated than realized, as satisfactory seat adjustments can be very difficult to achieve in the real-life political scene of the country. Even when leaders manage to work this out, this does not always have the intended or desired result.

Reeks of conspiracy to suppress democratic dissent: CASR on lifer to Bihar Left MLA

Counterview Desk The civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR)*, taking strong exception to allegedly “frivolous framing" and conviction of Bihar MLA Manoj Manzil and 22 others in the nine year old Badgaon murder case, has called the special court judgement awarding lifer to them as reeking of “conspiracy to suppress democratic dissent”.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Plea to stop 'unlawful' restraints, threats, harassment of farmers off Bangla border

Counterview Desk  In a representation to the District Magistrate, Cooch Behar, West Bengal, human rights defender Kirity Roy has said that Border Security Force (BSF) personnel off Indo-Bangladesh border have prohibited farmers of Hemkumari Dangapara village from going to their own agricultural lands to either pick up the crops they have cultivated or grow paddy.

Central govt 'can't unilaterally implement, impose' new education policy in Gujarat

By Our Representative  The All India Save Education Committee (AISEC), in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, has said that the Central government cannot take decision for “unilaterally” implementing the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in the state. Underlining that education is in the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution, it said, the Centre implementing it would runs contrary to the federal democratic structure of the country.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”

River Godavari 'assaulted' in the town which owes its existence: Trimbakeshwar, Nashik

By Parineeta Dandekar*  Most Indian languages have a saying which goes something like: “Do not go looking for a river’s origin or a Rishi’s lineage”. I thought this was because these stories become eclectic and frankly scandalizing as we trace them. But while looking at several origins of River Godavari on the Brahmagiri Mountain, I realized that the meaning can be much simpler (or much complicated): It is difficult to decide on a single origin for a river.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Security men 'trespass, destroy' West Bengal Dalit farmers' banana plantation off border

Counterview Desk    Human rights defender Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has in a complaint accused  BSF personnel of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation  on the lands of two marginalized farmers of Kaliyani village on the Indo-Bangladesh border, North 24 Paraganas district.

Shubkarman Singh's 'murder': With black flags in hand, protesters flood Punjab streets

By Harsh Thakor*  Spirit of vengeance is simmering at a boiling point, with Punjab farmers appear determined to bring the killers to the book. Hundreds of enraged and grief-torn people -- women, men and even children -- with black ribbons hung tied and black flags in hand flooded  Punjab streets observing ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ to protest the death of young farmer Shubhkarman Singh on February 21 at the Khanauri borders during the ongoing Dilli Chalo agitation. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Seeking to go back to Manu Smriti culture? Modi's temples move 'isn't decolonization'

By Ram Puniyani*  The recent (22 January 2024) Pran Pratishtha (consecration) of Lord Ram in Ram Temple in Ayodhya has been a major spectacle. This has accompanied promotion of the mass display of religiosity in most parts of the country, more so in Northern India. This also saw the fusion of roles ‘chief of religion’ and ‘chief of political power’ into a single person, the Prime Minister. 

Unsign aadhaar MoU, set example for other states: Plea to West Bengal chief minister

By Our Representative In a representation to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, a senior civil rights defender has said that the state home department's MoU with the  Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) dated July 1, 2010 is "outdated" and it "imperils the autonomy of the state and the citizens", asking her to "unsign" the MoU.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.

Escalating threat to biodiversity, wildlife: Steep rise in footfall in eco-sensitive zones

By Shankar Sharma*  Two recent news items (click here and here ) have brought focus once again on our inability/ indifference to satisfactorily address the ever escalating threats due to climate change. Whereas it is true that a lot more needs to be done by India towards meeting its own declarations and implied obligations to its own people, as well as to the global community, in the context of climate change, it is equally critical that the political leaders and the bureaucrats in the govt. should do a lot more in developing and implementing suitable policies in sectors like energy, industry, transport and tourism, water management, forests etc. so as to minimise the environmental impacts.

Haldwani violence: CM, radical rightist groups 'created' highly polarizing narrative

Counterview Desk  A citizen fact-finding team visited Haldwani on 14th Feb 2024 has said that the violent incident that occurred on February 8 was “not sudden” but an outcome of “steady rise in communal tempers in the state of Uttarakhand over recent years”, adding, “Haldwani which has a significant Muslim population has witnessed in recent months a series of small communal clashes and disputes.”

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

A 'distorted narrative' of Indian politics: Congress failing to look beyond LS polls

By Prem Singh*  About 15 days ago, I told a senior journalist friend that there are not even two   months left for the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi is roaming around on a delectation (tafreeh). The friend probably found my comment exasperating and replied that he is not on a delectation trip. The conversation between us on this topic ended there. 

Spirit of Lord Ram as envisaged by likes of Kabir and Gandhi 'different from Modi's'

By Ram Puniyani*   This January 22, a massive spectacle was created when Prime Minister Narendra Modi consecrated the idol of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Declarations were made that Ram is the soul of India and is the one who united India. Just before this ceremony, some Muslim leaders warned that Muslims should avoid travel on January 22  as there would be large scale movement of Kar Sevaks during the day. 

Is Moscow a tense war-fatigued capital? Or is West weaving a misleading narrative?

By Vinay Shukla*  I am tempted to retell the story I had written about six month back on how Western media has been misleading narratives about Russia. My desire to do so arises from Facebook a few days back removing the image of my article published in the Indian quarterly, "Raksha Anirveda", because it contained what I thought was the actual situation in Russia. They declined to review their decision for "ensuring safety and security".  The article was carried in the journal's online edition on October 21, 2023, too. Here is the slightly updated version of the article: ***

Myth and reality of Govt of India's renewal energy talk: Solar rooftops, parks

By Shankar Sharma*  Whereas, the recent announcement about 1 crore households to be fitted with rooftop SPV systems is a great step in the right direction, questions are being raised as to why such a target could not have been much more ambitious, such as 15- 20 crore houses by 2035-40, along with some financial contribution by the house owners, which could also have reduced the financial burden of the state.  

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

As BJP's electoral politics begins influencing Muslim elite, discrimination 'intensifies'

By Ram Puniyani*  As the 2024 General Elections are looming on the horizon, some elite Muslims are appealing to their community to give a relook at BJP. They claim that Indian Muslims are not being discriminated against. Such intellectuals also argue that BJP is giving special attention to Pasmanda Muslims and Sufi Muslims. 

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

Economic challenges, focus on personalities 'overshadow' coalition takeover in Pak

By Pranjal Pandey*  On February 8, 2024, Pakistan conducted its parliamentary elections with 44 political parties contesting for 265 seats in the National Assembly. This marked the 12th general election in the country since it gained independence 76 years ago.

'Bad optics': Congressional briefing on Biden govt decision to sell India reaper drones

By Our Representative   A Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, has taken strong exception to the Biden administration's decision to sell India reaper drones. Speaking on the occasion at the briefing, titled "US Arms Sales to India: The role of the US Congress," Human Rights Watch Asia advocacy director John Sifton criticized “bad optics” of the Biden administration’s intent to sell the Indian government 31 armed MQ-9 reaper drones with accompanying munitions. 

Despite ensuing polls, Interim Budget 2024 has left country's farmers 'most disappointed'

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  If politics and other sensational things are ignored, it is unfortunate that the farmers who grow food for the country take to the streets for their demands. Although the Central and Haryana governments are showing strictness in view of the violent incidents and the Red Fort incident during the long-running farmers' agitation in 2020-21, erecting huge barricades and nailing the roads where the farmers are protesting cannot be said to be doing a good job for the farmers. 

Livelihood issues return to national agenda ahead of LS polls: SKM on Bharat Bandh

Counterview Desk  Top farmers' network, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has claimed big success of Grameen Bharat Bandh and industrial /sectoral strikes, stating, the “struggle reflected anger of farmers, workers and rural people across India”, adding, the move on February 16 succeeded in bringing back peoples’ livelihood issues in the national agenda just ahead of the general election to the Lok Sabha.

Bharat Bandh: Workers pledge to counter 'heinous' religious fanaticism, jingoism

Counterview Desk  In a joint statement, the platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) and Independent Sectoral Federations/ Associations* on nation-wide mass mobilisation of working class on farmers’ Grameen Bandh, claimed it was a “grand success” in which students, teachers, youth, women, professionals, artists, writers and other social movements participated make it a “great national protest.”

'Withdraw new labour codes': Unions observe workers' resistance day across India

By Harsh Thakor*  The Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), a coordination platform of 17 workers organisations/ unions, staged Workers’ Resistance Day on 8th February, 2024, engulfing the entire country against the allegedly anti-worker policies and to press for the just demands of the working masses in the country.

No discussion on Ram Mandir: How top private university 'acted tough' on students

By Ramnit Kaur*  For organizing a discussion on Brahmanical Hindutva fascism, the administration of the OP Jindal Global University (OPJGU)  suspended two students for a whole semester and banned all democratic organizations in the campus. On 12th of Feb 2024, the administration released a notice, where it declared all democratic student organisations on campus,  specifically Revolutionary Students League (RSL) and Safdar Hashmi Reading Circle (SFRC), as banned. 

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

NREGA's 'slow death': Continued budget cuts, poor wage rates, technical complexities

By Our Representative  Rural workers from several States, participating in a public hearing organised in Jharkhand, have regretted that the Union Government's rural jobs guarantee scheme is posing  numerous challenges in their daily life, yet the authorities have failed to listen to their plight.

Corporatizing Indian agriculture 'to enhance' farmer efficiency, market competitiveness

By Shashank Shukla*  Today, amidst the ongoing farmers' protest, one of the key demands raised is for India to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO). Let us delve into the feasibility of such a move and explore its historical context within India's globalization trajectory.

GoI response undemocratic, tyrannical: PUCL on 'brutal' crackdown on farmers’ march

Counterview Desk  India's top civil rights group, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), even as condemning the Union government seeking to "wage a war" against the farmers, has said, the latest "brutal crackdown" off Delhi highlights the hypocrisy of the Government of India (GoI). While conferring the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, to Charan Singh, a "celebrated" farmers’ leader and former Prime Minister and to Dr MS Swaminathan, agricultural scientist, it "deployed violent measures" to prevent the protesters from exercising their democratic rights.

Supreme Court Bar Association letter to CJI 'meant to defame' protesting farmers

By Prem Singh*  Have we ceased to be a wakeful and sensitive civil society and instead have become the horns of parties, leaders and governments? Whatever profession we are in, have we lost all respect for our responsibility and dignity?  It is understandable that a pro-corporate government should launch a campaign to defame the farmers from the very first day of its agitation against the government's apathy to their long-pending demands. Because it considers the people of the country, especially the hardworking farmers, labourers, artisans, unemployed and underemployed, not as citizens but as subjects who live at the mercy of the government.  But the professional noblemen of the civil society should defame the farmers in an organizational manner -- this explains our fall as a civil society.  It is a matter of utmost regret that the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association has written a letter to the Chief Justice demanding that he take suo motu cognizance of the “erring” far

NIA raids multiple locations in 4 states in order to create 'imagined' red scare

By Harsh Thakor*  On 8th February morning the National Investigation Agency (NIA) randomly conducted raids on multiple locations across four states -- Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It was an expression of the BJP-RSS government emulating the past British colonial rulers by using tactics to place a lid on the voices against exploitation and oppression of the people, or those vocal in condemning loot of the country’s resources by foreign and domestic corporates.

SBI, GAIL, ONGC among global giants helping Myanmar junta's 'oppressive' pipeline

By Henrieke Butijn*  February 1st 2024 marked the third anniversary of the attempted coup d’etat by the Myanmar military junta. The military junta has inflicted extreme suffering on the people of Myanmar and has caused a humanitarian and economic crisis. The constant and mass resistance to the military’s attempted coup and efforts to build a federal democracy has been met with severe repression and retaliation by the junta, which can count on a large and reliable source of revenue from Myanmar’s oil and gas infrastructure.

Why Modi isn't advising ‘It's not the time for war’ to Netanyahu like he did to Putin?

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Sandeep Pandey*  After having pounded Gaza for over three months killing more than 26,000 Palestinians, during the course of which Israel also attacked Children’s hospitals and refugee camps in West Bank, on the pretext of flushing out Hamas fighters from there, Israel, with the help of its western allies, is doing the most unthinkable thing – trying to stop the humanitarian help to the beleaguered citizens of Gaza reaching through United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Beyond politics? Rediscovering Lenin: How communism in India can become movement

By NS Venkataraman*  Nearly a century has gone after Vladimir Lenin,  who was the initiator and doyen of communist movement in the world,  passed away.  The dream of Lenin to usher in a world led by working class, that would have no exploitation and total equality have gone for a toss.  Why has this happened? Who is responsible for this? Has communism collapsed under its own weight?

Uttarakhand law contradicts Supreme Court ruling that 'legalized' live-in relationships

By Narender Nagarwal*  The Uttarakhand government, led by Pushkar Singh Dhami, recently introduced the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), which has sparked considerable opposition from various segments of society. Critics argue that the UCC violates the basic principles of governance, legislation, and democracy. Upon analysing some of the provisions of the Uttarakhand model of UCC, it becomes clear that this legislation is a blatant disregard of the fundamental tenets of a modern welfare state as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Five tasks that may boost Congress prospects in Telangana during Lok Sabha polls

By Sudhansu R Das  Good governance in Karnataka and Telangana will boost the election prospect of the Congress party in the coming Lok Sabha election. Any deterioration in the quality of life in those two states may plummet Congress’ poll prospects of winning more MP seats in those states.  The newly elected Congress in Telangana has five most important tasks to perform and prove that they are different from the former BRS government.

Railway cops torture youth on ascertaining his minority status: Rights defender

Counterview Desk  Referring to what he calls “illegal detention and custodial torture by a Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel at the Pundit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction Railway Station”, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a complaint to the Director General, Railway Protection Force (RPF), New Delhi, ,has demanded that the incident must be “inquired into” by a neutral authority.

Hindu supremacists 'influencing' well-meaning US centrist, progressive institutions

By Rajiv Shah  In a sharp admission, several Indian diaspora human rights groups in the US have regretted that there is “a lack of awareness about Hindu supremacy” in the country, leading to “well-meaning centrist and progressive institutions to mis-recognize Hindu supremacists as representative of the wider, far more diverse, and more liberal Indian American community.”

US Hindu group 'refuses to tell the truth': Ram wasn't a cause of conflict till RSS intervened

By Shamsul Islam*  In January 2024, the U.S.-based Hindu nationalist group, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), released a series of videos and a so-called factsheet addressing the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya which was built on the ruins of the 500-year-old Babri Masjid.