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Showing posts from December, 2015

Examine RTI's exemption categories before releasing human rights violation report: Gujarat's top Info Commissioner

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat’s chief information commissioner Balwant Singh, in a ruling, which is unlikely to be taken kindly by RTI activists, has said that senior IAS official Sanjay Prasad’s two-year-old report on the death of three Dalit youths in police firing of September 2012, may be public, as it relates to a “human rights violation”, but under certain condition.
The release of the report, says Singh, should be done after examining if the report or its portions are under the Right to Information (RTI) Act’s exemption category Section 8(1).
Putting the job of examining this on Gujarat government officials, Singh says, they should find out if any of its portions in the report fall under the “exemption” categories of Section 8(1)(a), 8(1)(c), 8(1)(g) and 8(1)(i).
He underlines, the commission under him “is imposing this condition because the commission has not has not seen the report, which is supposed to be under submission and pending for government’s decision.”
Section 8(1)(a) exempts d…

Foreign funding rules to "affect" Indian NGOs working on human rights, policy, governance, electoral reforms

By Rajiv Shah
India’s civil society organizations have strongly objected to the new Foreign Contribution Regulation (FRC) Rules notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which require the NGOs to give an "affirmation" that they are not used the foreign contribution for activities that are likely to “prejudicially affect” the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security, strategic, scientific and economic interests of the state and the public interest.
Circulating a note written by a senior activist for perusal and comments to NGOs receiving foreign contribution, Subhash Mittal, secretary, Socio-Research Reform Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, comments, says, “Many organizations which work on, says, human rights, legal rights, policy, governance, electoral reforms related issues, may face interpretation issues.”
However, he adds, the “organizations who are working on clear cut issues (say health, water, development, etc.), such interpretation may not pose problem.”
This u…

Rural Gujarat's public healthcare services witness 7.9 per cent decline, one of the highest in India: Niti Aayog experts

By Rajiv Shah
In fresh evidence, Gujarat’s public healthcare has taken a beating over the last10 years, with rural areas witnessing one of the sharpest 7.9 per cent fall in the provision of government health services in India, Only two states witnessed a higher fall than Gujarat in rural public healthcare services -- Karnataka (13.2 per cent) and Maharashtra (9.5).
Based on an analysis of National Sample Survey (NSS) conducted in 2004 (60th round) and 2014 (71st round), a recent study, put on the Government of India’s (GoI's) Niti Aayog website, the data show that Bihar was No 1 state, where confidence in rural public healthcare delivery system rose by a whopping 28 per cent, followed by Assam (15 per cent), Haryana (12.7 per cent), Uttarakhand (7.7 per cent), and so on.
The study has been carried out four experts, three of whom are with the GoI – Nishant Jain, Deputy Program Director at German Development Cooperation, India; Alok Kumar is Adviser (Health) at NITI Aayog; Sunil Nandra…