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Document 'Reclaiming the Republic' to be discussed with political parties

Top civil society networks, National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Right to Food Campaign (RTF), Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan(SNS) have announced their decision to discuss the document  ‘Reclaiming the Republic’ and several other manifestos developed by campaign organizations with representatives of political parties.
In a joint statement ahead of the meeting on March 25, they have said that these documents bring together "the most urgent actionable reforms needed to protect and strengthen the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity." The meeting will be held from 2:30 pm to 5 pm at the Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, Delhi, and major civil society participants include Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Dipa Sinha, Kavita Srivastava and Meera Sanghmitra.

India ranks worse than Pakistan, China, Bangladesh in World Happiness Index: UN report

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In a shocking revelation, all of India’s neighbours – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar – rank better than India in the World Happiness Index, worked out by independent scholars under the aegis of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions network in part the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Ranking 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, the report which provides the ranking says, India ranks 140th, as against Pakistan 67th, China 93rd, Nepal 100th, Bangladesh 125th, Sri Lanka 130th, and Myanmar 131rd.
Identifying India as one of the “significant losers” along with Venezuela, Malaysia and Ukraine, the report says, the entire South Asian region showed “a drop of a full point, from 5.1 to 4.1 on the 0 to 10 scale, driven mainly by the experience of India, given its dominant share of South Asian population.”
The report continues, “The five largest drops since 2005-08 were in Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela, with drops o…

First ever reduction in male workforce in 2017-18 since 1993-94: Govt of India report

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In a stark revelation, a Government of India's yet-to-be released report has said that, for the first time since 1993-94, the actual size of India’s male workforce, or men who are working, has shrunk. Data from the National Sample Survey report, "Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFC) 2017-18", says that there were by 28.6 crore employed males in the country during the year.
This, it is reported, is the first instance of a drop in the male workforce that steadily swelled from 21.9 crore in 1993-94 to 30.4 crore in 2011-12 when the last NSS survey was conducted. This suggests fewer men were employed in 2017-18 compared with five years ago.
The decline in actual numbers occurred, again for the first time since 1993-94, in both rural and urban male workforce. The slide is steeper — 6.4% — in the rural areas compared to a 4.7% setback observed in the urban sector.
The yet-to-be-released PLFS report put the unemployment rate for male in urban and rural segments at 7.1 per cent a…

Elections 2019: Civil society network WNTA plans activists' meet on March 23

Well-known civil society network, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), has asked activists across India to join an event it has planned for March 23 -- the day of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru – for its campaign "Desh Mera, Vote Mera, Mudda Mera" it has launched in order to work out a strategy for the 2019 elections, saying Indian democracy is at a “critical moment”, and even as real and substantive issues had begun to surface, “suddenly the focus has been shifted national security.”
Insisting that “there seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep the focus on emotional issues so as to avoid critical scrutiny”, WNTA in its appeal to activists said, “The first and foremost duty of a citizen is to prevent this derailment and bring the focus back on real issues such as unemployment, farm distress, rising inequality, hate crimes, condition of marginal communities and deficits in the basic welfare provisions.”
Pointing out that “while it is for political parties to contes…

India No 2 in natural resource extraction, causing adverse impact on environment: UNEP

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A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Resource Panel (IRP), “Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want”, has raised the alarm that 10 economies across the globe, including India, are responsible for over 68 per cent of global extraction of resources today.
Expressing serious concern that more than a third of all materials in 2017 were extracted in China, the report states, the country is “followed by 7.6 per cent in India and 7.1 per cent in the United States.”
At the same time, the report says, while Europe “generates 20 per cent of the global resource-related value added, impacting just 5 to 10 per cent on the environment, India’s resource-related value-added in 2017 was just 4 per cent, but its environmental impact was as high as 7 per cent.
The report comments, “This inverse pattern of domestic resource-related value added and environmental impacts may be a sign of varying environmental standards, bu…

Pak scholars' invite to world Urdu meet cancelled because Islamabad promoted terror: Govt

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Close on the heels of former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju strongly objecting to the cancellation of invitations to Pakistani scholars for the three-day World Urdu Conference to begin on Monday in Delhi, the Government of India organizers have come up with the explanation that this was as a consequence to "the way Pakistan has been indulging in cross-border terrorism."
To be inaugurated by Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Human Resource Development, a chief organizer, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) vice-chairman Prof Shahid Akhtar, told media that there will be participants from Canada, Russia, France, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Denmark, Japan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Mauritius, apart from 40 Urdu scholars from around the country.
"Urdu is a window to the cultural heritage of Indian ambiance of harmonious bonding between one and all", he said, adding, the subjects to be discussed would include “Urdu as a Medium of Instruction: Primary t…

Delhi-Haridwar foot marchers for "saving" Ganga resolve to oppose BJP in elections

The Delhi to Haridwar foot march, which started from Jantar Mantar on March 9, 2019 concluded today at Matri Sadan, Haridwar, the site of long fasts for conservation of Ganga. Currently, 26 years old Brahmachari Atmabodhanand is on fast for 145 days in order to press upon the government listens to his demands.
Earlier, Swami Nigmanand lost his life after 115 days fast in 2011 against illegal mining in Ganga, followed by Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, formerly Prof GD Agrawal, who lost his life on October 11, 2019 after 112 days of fast demanding halt of all proposed and ongoing hydroelectric power projects on Ganga, illegal mining, deforestation in river basin and flow of sewage into Ganga.
A meeting was held in the presence of Atmabodhanand and Swami Shivanand, head of Matri Sadan, in which environmentalist Ravi Chopra, member of Parliament from Nepal Met Mani Chaudhary, and Asia representative of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Phoolman Chaudhary were present.

Demand from Gujarat Govt to support silicosis patients continuously on oxygen

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Senior health rights activist Jagdish Patel, who heads People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, has asked the the Government of Gujarat to urgently arrange for oxygen concentrator for patients like Sikandar alias Ratan, suffering from silicosis since 2013. At the age of 33 Sikandar began working as agate polisher on a vertical wheel machine known as patiya, used to make round beads.
Patel in a statement said, since 2013 Sikandar got sick and had to leave the job. He did not know anything on his right to claim compensation for silicosis and has not filed any compensation claim under the Employees Compensation Act. He is now completely bedridden. He needs to be on oxygen all 24 hours, even in the toilet.
Every third day, says Patel, someone from the family has to travel in autorikshaw to Anand, the district headquarter from his village Mamhmmadpura. Married with two children, he is landless, and his daily expenses of treatment are around Rs 250 which his family can…

ESIS to enrol private practioners, as it expands to Vadodara district, "benefit" 80,000 workers

The Employees' State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) has decided to enrol private practioners to "overcome" the scarcity of doctors following its decision to expand its wings in Vadodara district. According to ESIS, in all, 80,000 workers of the district would benefit from the scheme, which would require 1.75% contribution from workers' salary and 4.75% from the industrial units where they work. All the workers who salary is Rs 21,000 or less would be enrolled in ESIS.
Prominent health rights activist Jagdish Patel of the Peoples Training & Research Centre, Vadodara, even as welcoming the ESIS decision, said, Vadodara and its adjoining areas lack quality and affordable health services, resulting in people being asked to rush the Siyaji Hospital in Vadodara in case of any serious disease. It has also been found that, often, workers are at the mercy of private practioners, who charge huge sums for any treatment.

New single women's organization in Gujarat demands increase in pension to Rs 5,000

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A new organization, Ekal Mahila Adhikar Sangathan, proposing to fight for single women’s rights in Gujarat, has come into existence following a meeting of an estimated 1,500 single women, many of them from the minority community. The meeting was held in the North Gujarat town of Himmatnagar.
Those who actively participated in the meeting included Huraben M Dani, who was elected as convener of the organization, Jamila Khan from Ahmedabad, women from several villages of Sabarkantha district Hansaben, Vllasaben, Halima Ben, Hasinaben, Seema Ben, Gangaben, Hasuba, Hina Ben and Lila Ben.
Several male activists joined in to help form the organization, including Mujahid Nafees, who leads the Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat, as also Junaid Ansari, Shailesh Thakkar, Danish Khan and Shakeel Sheikh. Nafees agreed to take a leading role in the organization.
Following the meet, an 20-point memorandum was handed over to the district collector, Sabarkantha, demanding lifelong pension to …