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Showing posts from April, 2024

Urban Naxal to Amit Shah, AAP Bharuch candidate tops ADR's Gujarat criminal cases list

By Rajiv Shah  Refusing to go beyond the data released by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on the Lok Sabha candidates’ own declarations of their criminal record, educational qualification and assets, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), a top-notch advocacy group, has declared Aam Aadmi Party candidate Chaitar Vasava, 35, having the highest number of criminal cases of all those fighting the electoral battle on 26 seats in Gujarat.

Green credit rules to 'help' business-driven, environmental rights violators' activities

Counterview Desk  Over 100 environmental and human rights organisations and 400 plus individuals have in a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change demanded roll back of the Green Credit Rules 2023 and the methodology introduced under the Notification dated 22nd February 2024, which they say in effect provides incentive for forest diversion activities through green credit earnings, at huge cost to the environment, forest and climate and to the rights of forest dwelling communities.

At developing nations' expense? US subsidies 'promoting' unfair trade practices

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury, Janet L Yellen visited the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from April 3rd to April 9th, 2024, for bilateral meetings aimed at strengthening healthy economic relationships and engaging in other diplomatic discussions. During her visit, Yellen expressed concerns about Chinese state subsidies, stating in a press conference that they "pose significant risks to workers and businesses not only in the United States but also globally." 

The EU’s evolving common defense network 'hindered' by its inability to match NATO

By John P Ruehl*  At the European Defense Agency’s annual conference in November 2023 , President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen warned member states from buying too much equipment from abroad and called for a European Defense Union. While the defense union is yet to materialize, the first-ever European Defense Industrial Strategy signed in early March 2024 marked another significant step toward achieving European Union (EU) military autonomy by focusing on improving European weapons manufacturing.

Climate crisis: Modi-led BJP 'refraining from phasing out coal production, emissions'

By Our Representative  Civil society groups have released a charter of demands for securing climate justice and moving towards a just transition, demanding review and reframing of India’s Climate Action Policy Framework. The charter says that while the daily summer temperature in the country has already begin to roar sky high, millions of people in India are heading to the booths to cast their vote in this scorching heat. The everyday impacts of extreme weather events, a result of the climate crisis, has become alarmingly threatening.

Chhattisgarh BJP turned Bastar into open warzone in run up to elections: FACAM

Counterview Desk  Commenting on the death of 29 persons in Bastar, which  the security forces claimed as part of a massive operation against Maoists, the civil rights network* Forum Against Corporatization And Militarization (FACAM) has said that reports received  by it suggest 17 of them were "not killed during the firing with the state forces."

Sharp rise in 'divisive talk' to increase hold of majoritarian nationalism for poll gain

By Ram Puniyani*  For majoritarian nationalism, communal divisive propaganda has been a major plank for increasing the hold in the electoral arena through promoting hate. The module of Hindu nationalist politics has centred around two major planks. One, glorification of the ancient past, the era when the values of Manusmriti were the social norm. And two, the distortion of history, particularly the medieval history. Here, temple destruction and conversion to Islam by force have been major falsehoods.

Murdered in 1943 like Gandhiji, Allah Bakhsh fought Muslim League's 'nefarious' Pak plank

By Shamsul Islam*  The search for the real culprits behind the Partition of India in 1947 seems to be an endless exercise. It is despite the fact that there is no dearth of writings on the Indian Freedom Struggle against the British rule in India and specially partition of the country on the basis of religion.

BJP, Congress manifestos 'fail to address' severe agrarian crisis, livelihood concerns

By Our Representative  As the country is in the midst of polling for the Lok Sabha elections, leaders of farmers movements, activists and researchers have called out mainstream political parties for their inadequate to insensitive approach towards some of the fundamental questions affecting the agrarian communities across India and the lack of a comprehensive vision, grounded in principles of equity, justice and sustainability. 

Congress manifesto: Delving deep into core concepts related to equity, social justice?

By Prof RR Prasad*  The deafening current clamor on one of the agenda items of the 2024 Congress Party Election Manifesto has made common people to ponder whether ideologies like social justice and equity could become conundrum and contentious manifestations of some organization's vision and mission.

As inequality afflicts voters, Ambanis seem 'happily honest' flexing economic power

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  There are several exercises in extremes playing out in India right now. Nearly a billion people are voting in elections that will last into early June, braving record-high temperatures to cast ballots. Against this backdrop, Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani , is throwing what will likely be the world’s most expensive wedding for his youngest son.

Tyre cartel's monopoly: Farmers' groups seek legal fight for better price for raw rubber

By Our Representative  The All India Kisan Sabha and the Kerala Karshaka Sangham that represents the largest rubber producing state of Kerala along with rubber farmers have sought intervention against the monopoly tyre companies that have formed a cartel against the interests of consumers and farmers.  Vijoo Krishnan, AIKS General Secretary, Valsan Panoli, Kerala Karshaka Sangham General Secretary, and four farmers representing different rubber growing regions of Kerala have filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court.

Delegitimizing social discourse? Portraying youth voice as unreliable, reckless, unworthy

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The geriatric ideology of feudalism, patriarchy, nationalism, religious culture, market led consumerism, monetised society and capitalism continues to propagate the notion that contemporary youths and students are deviants, lazy, unproductive, and useless idiots. They are depicted as being addicted to the digital world, lacking direction and commitment to their own lives, as well as to the state and society.

Amidst clampdown, US student protesters chant: Don’t scare us, get off our campus!

By Harsh Thakor*  Police in the entire USA have reportedly pounded on the students engaging in protests in solidarity with Gaza. Displaying relentless courage,  student protesters on campuses such as the University of Texas-Austin and the University of Southern California battled to the last inch. Scenes were reminiscent of protests during Vietnam war. This happened even as President Biden approved a bill that would provide USD 26 billion to Israel.

Modi win may force Pak to put Kashmir on backburner, resume trade ties with India

By Salman Rafi Sheikh*  When Narendra Modi returned to power for a second term in India with a landslide victory in 2019, his government acted swiftly. Just months after the election, the Modi government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution of India. In doing so, it stripped the special constitutional status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, and downgraded its status from a state with its own elected assembly to a union territory administered by the central government in Delhi. 

An insecure system? Connected with VVPAT, EVM 'no more' standalone or rudimentary

By Rosamma Thomas*  “VVPAT machine is totally opaque,” messaged one voter who voted in Kanniyakumari constituency on April 19, when polling began for the Lok Sabha elections. The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Election Commission, on a petition seeking the counting of all Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail slips cast in the 2024 elections, instead of only verifying five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.

Why India 'lacks' decommissioning policy for ageing, unviable, eco-destructive dams

By Parineeta Dandekar*  The recently-concluded World Fisheries Congress in Seattle in March 2024  discussed several themes relating to the health of our rivers, dependent communities and fish. Of the several interesting sessions, the  symposium on ‘Dam Removal as a River Restoration Tool at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus’ was of particular interest.   I was simultaneously at two parallel sessions and hence was unable to attend some of the presentations but have tried to provide an overview of the presentations and discussions, in addition to the session where I presented a paper.

River's existence 'under threat': Ken-Betwa inter-linking to degrade catchment areas

By Bhim Singh Rawat*  Ken is lifeline of Bundelkhand and among key tributaries of Lower Yamuna basin. The river is relatively clean and free of industrial pollution. However, its existence is under threat due to catchment degradation and the proposed Ken-Betwa interlinking proposal. Apart from this, the river eco-system and dependent people have been at receiving end of large scale mechanized and unsustainable, mostly illegal mining practices for the past many years.

India's non-violent freedom struggle a myth, 'helped keep' feudal values largely intact

By By Justin Podur*  If there is a single false claim to “nonviolent” struggle that has most powerfully captured the imagination of the world, it is the claim that India, under Gandhi’s leadership, defeated the mighty British Empire and won her independence through the nonviolent method.

Modi's 'deliberate abuses' designed to turn the poll into a Hindu-Muslim slugfest

By Sukla Sen*  ["Tum use chhinane ki baat kar rahe ho apne manifesto mein. Gold le lenge, aur sabko vitrit kar denge. Aur pehele jab unki sarkar thi to unhone kaha tha, ki desh ki sampatti par pehela adhikar Musalmano ka hai. Iska matlab, ye sampatti ikhatti karke kisko batenge…..jinke jyada bacche hai unko batenge…Ghuspaithiyo ko batenge. Kya apki mehenat ki kamayi ka paisa ghuspaithiyo ko diya jayega….Apko manzur hai ye… Ye congress ka manifesto ke raha hai ki wo matao aur beheno ka sone ka hisab karenge, uski jadti karenge, jankari lenge aur phir uss sampatti ko baat denge. Aur unko batenge…jinko Manmohan Singhji ki sarkar ne kaha tha ki sampatti par pehela adhikar musalmano ka hai. Bhaiyo beheno.. ye urban naxal ki soch.. mere matao aur beheno ye apka mangal sutra bhi bachne nahi denge”. (Re: video above, 28.39 to 29.54 mins.)

Modi’s Hindutva politics may offer short-term electoral gains by 'exploiting' religious divide

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Damodardas Modi, serving as the 14th Prime Minister of India, has successfully completed two terms in office and is now seeking re-election for a third term in the forthcoming 18th Lok Sabha elections.  Widely recognised as a prominent figure in Hindutva politics, Modi is often viewed as the face of a political ideology marked by division and animosity. 

Modi's 'outrageously communal speech': Ex-babus endorse top scholar's complaint to ECI

Counterview Desk In an open letter to the Election Commission Of India, the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), which constitutes former bureaucrats as its members, have endorsed the letter written by Prof Jagdeep S Chhokar of the civil rights group Association for Democratic Reforms, and former dean of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, regarding what it calls “outrageously communal speech given by the Prime Minister on April 21, 2024”.

Modi speech to have 'lasting consequences, will influence elections on communal lines'

Counterview Deak  The civil rights groups, People’s Union for Civil Liberties and  Rajasthan Election Watch*, in a complaint filed with the CEO, Election Commission of India, Rajasthan, demanding action against what it called the Banswara hate speech of Narendra Modi, star BJP campaigner, has said that  Modi not only lies but sought to promote hate and enmity on the grounds of religion and community with the intention of procuring votes from the citizens on communal lines.

'Assault on civic, academic freedom, right to dissent': TISS PhD student's suspension

By Our Representative  The Mumbai-based civil rights group All India Secular Forum (AISF) has said that the suspension of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) PhD student Ramadas Prini Sivanandan (30) for two years for allegedly indulging in activities which were "not in the interest of the nation" is meant to send out the message that students and educational institutes will be targeted if they don’t align with the agenda and ideology of the ruling regime.  TISS in a notice served to Ramadas has cited that his role in screening the documentary 'Ram Ke Naam' on January 26 as a "mark of dishonour and protest" against the Ram Mandir idol consecration in Ayodhya.  Another incident cited in the notice was Ramadas’ participation in the protest against unfair government policies in Delhi under the banner of the Progressive Students' Forum (PSF)-TISS. TISS alleges the institute's name was "misused", which wrongfully created an impression that

Govt of India's industrial-scale plantation plan likely to harm local communities: NGOs

Counterview Desk  In a petition to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, several civil rights groups* have sought immediate roll back of the Green Credit Programme notified under the Green Credit Rules, 2023, even as revisiting the law, "which in effect provides incentive for forest diversion activities through green credit earnings".

Indian authorities 'ignoring' renewable energy sources not requiring high voltage power lines

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent media reports greatly appreciating a recent order of the Supreme Court bench on climate action in India should also be seen in the context of threats to the Great Indian Bustard. The judgement is being hailed as very important for the success of climate action in India. The associated observation by the honourable Court that climate crisis impacts citizens’ right to life is being deemed as critical in the long-term welfare of our people.

'Modi instigating Hindus to see Muslims as infiltrators': Demand to ban his campaign

Counterview Desk  In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner & Election Commissioners, Election Commission of India ( ECI) to take strict action against Narendra Modi, a star campaigner of the Bhartiya Janata Party for his acts of violation of the Model Code of Conduct, nearly 17,500  citizens have accused him for "not only appealing to 'communal feelings' but also instigating and aggravating hatred in the Hindus against Muslims."

China's 5G signals magically attacking Ladakh region: 'Soldiers, herdsmen affected'

By Steven Alex  China's 5G is magically attacking people at the India-China border.  As China deploys 5G networks in border areas, our troops located near the Line of Actual Control between China and India have found that they are facing problems with radio communications. China's 5G radio signals cause strange popping noises to appear in our military's radio equipment. This has aroused great concern among our relevant departments and is eager to find a solution to this urgent problem.

Would China learn from British experience, allow other countries to live in peace?

  By NS Venkataraman* Several decades back, China aggressively entered Tibet, over powered the Tibetans who resisted China’s aggression and mercilessly massacred large number of Tibetans. Today, China is sitting pretty with full control over Tibet region and is hiding Tibet with an “iron curtain” from the eyes of the world. Outside China and probably within China, most people do not know what is really happening in Tibet at present.

Fake encounter? Bastar killings suggest failure of Maoists to adapt to ground realities

By Harsh Thakor*  The recent elimination of 29 Maoists in what is claimed to be the largest encounter in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, appears as a perfect illustration how the Maoists have failed to insulate and organise themselves. It is also being interpreted even by their supporters as suggesting that they have not adequately adapted to the ground realities, especially when State agents are said to have infiltrated into their ranks.

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

Turning the tide? Married as children, sisters fight, win legal battle with NGO support

By Shailendra Pandya*   The District Legal Service Authority (DLSA), Udaipur, has awarded Rs 1.25 lakh compensation each to two minor sisters who were married as 12 and 14 year olds. This compensation comes as a huge relief to the two sisters who, while struggling to free themselves from their child marriages, also became orphans and had no one to turn to. In September 2023, they had approached court to nullify their marriages.

BJP's 6% promise: India's education budget 04% of GDP, 'worse than Brazil, South Africa'

Counterview Desk   Bahutva Karnataka (BK), a platform of organizations committed to justice, harmony and the promotion of constitutional values, in its new Guarantee Check’ report, has juxtaposed the Central government’s official claims with evidence from credible (oftentimes official) sources on  education .

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Messiah of the poor? Modi 'successfully' trading poverty in the market of Bhogvad

By Prem Singh*  There is contraction of meaning in the phrase capitalist consumerism. The correct expression for the view of life (Jivan-drishti) underlying the modern industrial capitalist civilization would be the phrase Punjivadi Bhogvad. The capitalist Bhogvad operates by incorporating feudal Bhogvad into itself. 

Ahmedabad public hospital's Rs 8 crore PF scam: 'Why no action initiated for 7 yrs?'

Counterview Desk  Board members and trustees of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals, in letter to its chairperson with a copy to the AMC commissioner, have taken strong exception over refusal to initiate any action in the Provident Fund scam and recovery of Rs 8 crore penalty imposed by the PF commissioner.

Banning protests during elections violates people's fundamental rights: Petition in SC

By Our Representative  A Supreme Court bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta has heard a writ petition filed by Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey (photo), in their capacity as members of 'Rajasathan Election Watch', in order to bring to the notice of the court the practice across the country of district magistrates issuing blanket prohibition orders under Section 144 of the CrPC for the duration of the elections on the sole ground of conduct of the ongoing general elections.

Weaponised against critics? US Hinduphobia move 'inspired by' Hindu far-right groups

By Our Representative  Indian American diaspora groups have warned that a recently introduced House resolution condemning Hinduphobia ( H.Res.1131 ), which is they say supported by the Hindu American right, “can and will be weaponized against critics to shut down criticism of Hindu nationalism or Hindutva.”

Demagogues, dictators 'using' misinformation as tool to exploit trust of ordinary people

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  In this era of an Artificial Intelligence-fuelled digital revolution, misinformation has emerged as a potent weapon wielded by both ruling and non-ruling elites. Their aim is often to undermine truth, dismantle democracy, sow division among people, and exert control over various aspects of life and resources on the planet.

State machinary helping Amit Shah win with highest margin in India: Letter to ECI

By Our Representative  Human rights defender Shabnam Hashmi, in a representation to Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India (ECI), has alleged that the state machinery of Gujarat is putting “undue pressure” on various community and political leaders in order to ensure that Union Home minister Amit Shah wins the Lok Sabha elections with the highest number of votes in India from the Gandhinagar constituency.

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Hindutva, Muslim League founders 'insisted' on separate nations for Hindus, Muslims

By Ram Puniyani*  Recently, the Indian National Congress released its manifesto, called Nyay Patra (Promise for Justice), for 2024 General Elections. It prominently talked of caste census, raising the cap of 50% on reservations, jobs for youth, internship, and economic support for the poor among others. Its focus has been on justice for women, Advises, Dalit-OBCs, farmers, and student-youth. One of its spokespersons of Congress stated that the Manifesto addresses the steps needed to undo the injustices heaped on different sections of society during the last ten years of BJP rule.

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

Poll promises: Political parties 'playing down' need to retrieve and restore adivasi land

By Palla Trinadha Rao*  The Scheduled Tribes population of 10.43 crore constitutes 8.6% of the population in the country inhabiting 26 States and 6 Union Territories. Parliament elections along with Assembly elections in some states have been notified this year.

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Turkey meet tries to 'resurrect' Maoism, seeks to apply people’s war concept universally

By Harsh Thakor*  An International Maoist Symposium was organized by Umut Publishing on 6-7th April in Turkey commemorating 130th birthday of Mao Tse Tung. On the first day of the symposium two sessions were staged. The first session started with Volkan Yaraşır’s presentation on “Dialectics of the Chinese Revolution and Mao Zedong”.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

'Political insanity': Odisha's ageing supremos have 'failed' to build second line leaders

By Sudhansu R Das*  In the party headquarters of major political parties in Bhubaneswar, grassroots workers, leaders and ticket aspirants clashed, broke furniture, exchanged blows, burnt party flags, offices and effigies of leaders much to the delight of the television crew of Odisha. The action packed thrillers in party offices show that discontentment among the party workers is brewing. 

Global NGO rates Modi's India repressed: 'Alarming rise in assault on civic freedoms'

By Our Representative  Rating the civic space in India as " repressed ", the global civil society alliance CIVICUS has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term in power was sustained by a pattern of repression to undermine democracy and civic space. The assessment is based on its analysis of civic freedoms in 198 countries and territories to categorise them as either ‘closed,’ ‘repressed,’ ‘obstructed,’ ‘narrowed’ or ‘open,’ based on a methodology which combines several data sources on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

An equine landmark, Cheltenham Gold Cup centenary 'epitomized' heights unparalleled

By Harsh Thakor*  The Cheltenham Gold Cup  is the most prestigious jumping race in the British Isles Steeplechasing calendar and the Cheltenham festival, a cynosure of every English and Irish racegoer. Few sporting events match or surpass the sheer intensity, competitiveness and joy that radiates its legacy. Few moments are more pulsating than witnessing a Gold Cup or a Cheltenham festival. In addition to that the race is run amidst the background of an evergreen English countryside, encircled by hills and pastures, giving a sensation of a paradise or heavenly location.