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Showing posts from 2017

Ananta Kumar Hegde should be sacked: People like him do not deserve to hold any constitutional office

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By Battini Rao*
A minister in the Modi government has publicly attacked secularism and stated that his party is here to change the Constitution. At a public meeting of Brahman Yuva Parishad at the Koppal district of Karnataka on 25 December, Mr Ananta Kumar Hegde said that seculars ‘are like people without parentage, or who do not know their bloodline’. He also said that he is happy if people identify themselves with their caste and religion, but gets suspicious about seculars who refuse to do so.

Financial inclusion? Merely opening physical accounts in banks as flag posts of financial identity won’t help

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By Moin Qazi*
For decades, balancing one’s checkbook has been the cornerstone of personal finance for conscientious adults in the developed world. I remember when I first opened an account of my own in my college days, I received a little booklet, the ubiquitous passbook, in which every deposit and withdrawal was acknowledged by the bank staff. I learned that keeping track of the bank balance was the personal hygiene of finance, like brushing your financial teeth. The implicit message, not just for me, but I think for society at large, was that the bank account was the locus of money management. All one’s main financial transactions would pass through the account, and the account would serve as a mirror of or financial health, showing not only income and expenses but also measuring solvency.

Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: America has failed to understand that new multipolar world is emerging

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By Adv Masood Peshimam
The momentous decision of 128 nations to reject American President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignore the American threat of revenge and intimidation explains the American role in global politics. America has failed to understand that new multipolar world is emerging. In the complex emerging multipolar world China is a growing economy developing more muscle. Russia which had declined in the reckoning with the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union is back in the count with the growth of more leverage. Iran is weighing its options to sustain its missile program. India and Pakistan have their own nuclear weapons.

How exactly EVMs were hacked in Gujarat to get BJP elected? EVM machine has firmware inside the hardware...

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By Amaresh Misra*
In 'Security Analysis of India’s Electronic Voting Machines', authors Hari K Prasad, J Alex Halderman and Rop Gonggrijp state clearly that "the Election Commission of India developed the country’s EVMs in partnership with two government-owned companies, the Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL)...second-generation models were introduced in 2000...these machines moved the firmware into the CPU (Control Processing Unit) and upgraded...other components..."

Unfortunate that there is little public discussion on the significance of the historic Mahad satyagrah

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By Subhash Gatade*
Can water catch fire? The question may surprise anyone in senses. Yet any person who keeps an open eye for social and political movements would know that when masses forge ahead, breaking millennia old chains of slavery, then not only sky can be pierced, but water too can catch fire.

Most of India's small-scale farmers would happily sell their land if only they could be provided alternate employment

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By Moin Qazi*
His speech if of mortgaged bedding,
On his kine he borrows yet.
At his heart is his daughter’s wedding.
In his eye foreknowledge of debt
He eats and hath indigestion
He toils and he may not stop
His life Is a long-drawn question
Between a crop and a crop
-- Rudyard Kipling, "The Masque of Plenty"

As the world transitions away from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, help for small farmers will become key to the stating aims of ending poverty and hunger and promoting sustainable development.

Who is Modi to “allow” eating habits in Meghalaya? Right to Freedom, Privacy are constitutional rights

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Open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Tiplang Syiem, 23 year old civil services aspirant from Shillong:
Congratulations on your second visit to my beautiful state of Meghalaya. Hope you enjoyed your time and found it easier to breathe, unlike in Delhi.
I had a fascinating conversation with someone from Delhi post your visit to my state which has compelled me to write this letter. As a Civil Service aspirant, I’m currently living in Mukherjee Nagar. Two days ago, I came back home from my classes to find my flatmate enquiring about my state. According to him, Meghalaya was a poor, illiterate state with zero infrastructure. In his words, “You have been gifted a road by Modiji.”
His words were a shocking jolt to me as I realized your power and what kind of a narrative your speech can set. Instead of portraying Meghalaya in a good light, you chose to play petty politics. Modiji, I hope you take out some time and read this letter by a very hurt but proud citizen of this country.
In…

Christmas is the gifts of love and fellowship; of mercy and reconciliation; of sharing and caring; of justice and solidarity

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By Fr Cedric Prakash, sj*
One of the most meaningful features of the Christmas Season is that of gift-giving! Across the globe, people love to give gifts at Christmas to others and of course to receive gifts too! Gifts come in a whole range: from the inexpensive yet lovingly hand-made card to perhaps a gold-crusted diamond purchased from an expensive jewelry store! Santa Claus (a caricature of the saintly Bishop Nicholas who went round caring for the poor and the hungry) comes laden with gifts; Christmas stockings bulge with gifts and one can find gifts below the family Christmas tree.

Ex-BJP minister Jaynarayan Vyas' defeat in Gujarat assembly elections is the "defeat of development"... and of Sidhpur

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Reproduced below is Facebook post by Kamal Khokhani, managing director, Akar Sakarr, into the business of infomedia and publications, on the defeat of Jay Narayan Vyas, former senior BJP minister, who has shuttled from between a rebel and a Modi protégé. Vyas’s defeat by nearly 17,000 votes acquires significance, as he is no saffron background to his credit, and is known to be one of the best intellectuals in the BJP has, who can talk incisively on economic and developmental issues…
It is not YOUR defeat, it's the defeat of Sidhpur and the defeat of it's development...
Perhaps, voters of Sidhpur have not heard this phrase or, they have heard it but they don't want to take any cognizance of it...
This is the hard (and a bit bitter) statement, which came to my mind, the moment I heard about the defeat of Dr Jay Narayan Vyas from Sidhpur constituency , yesterday. It came out of sheer anguish... Let me explain, why I made this tough statement...
I went to Sidhpur for the firs…

Amidst hype and hyperbole around Gujarat polls, the real story never gets asked: What does it mean for the people?

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By Revati Laul*
Not all elections are equal. But the difference between the Bihar assembly election and U.P. and on this day, between Gujarat and Himachal is this. Some elections are the nerve centre of our body politic. And sitting in the heart of that nerve centre in Gujarat, I ask myself; what is the job of a political reporter? If I look at the way in which people are increasingly disdainful of `the media’ and `exit polls,’

Gujarat elections: Dalits in state were perceptibly unhappy over failure of successive BJP govts to address issues of untouchability

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By Gagan Sethi*
Notwithstanding the BJP’s victory in the Gujarat assembly elections, the results show a massive shift against the saffron party, and one of the contributing factors for this is Dalits and other marginalised sections voting against the party, which has failed to address their plight in the last 22 years. This is evident in the victory of Gujarat’s Dalit face Jignesh Mevani, who fought as independent supported by the Congress, by nearly 19,000 votes.

Attack on secular fabric of Indian Constitution continuing, upsurge in religious attacks dangerous for democracy and harmony

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National Alliance of People's Movement's statement condemning the attack by Hindutva groups on Christians in Madhya Pradesh:
 National Alliance of People’s Movements expresses deep shock at the unprovoked violence against Christian priests and seminarians in Satna in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on the night of December 14, 2017. A group of people hailing from Bajrang Dal attacked a group of 30 Seminarians and two Priests of St. Ephrem’s Theological College as they were conducting a routine Christmas carol singing programme which has been the practice during the Christmas season for the last 30 years.

Modi's sea-plane ride on an aircraft owned by a foreign company was outright violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act

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Letter by EAS Sarma, former energy secretary, Government of India, to AK Joti, Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, with copies forwarded to PK Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, and Rajiv Gauba, Union Home Secretary:
I enclose a Business Standard report dated 14-12-2017 (“Gujarat: Did Modi's seaplane fly from Karachi to escort him to Dharoi?”) which suggests that

Feminism in Islam is finally having its moment: Quran may be Muslim woman’s most direct route to equal rights

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By Moin Qazi*
“Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.” In Khaled Hosseini’s novel about life in Afghanistan, "A Thousand Splendid Suns", the character Nana, a poor unwed mother, gives this grim advice to her five-year-old daughter, Mariam. In 25 words, she tries to sum up the way the world thinks men govern the lives of women in the world of Islam.

Why this book on GSPC seeks to accuse Gujarat journalists... for laziness and for failing to question Modi hype on PSU success

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By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking accusation, Subir Ghosh -- the writer who shot into prominence for controversially criticising Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), India's top industrial house, for cronyism in a book he co-authored, "Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis" -- has called Gujarat-based journalists, without naming them, of "intellectual laziness" for failing to expose state PSU Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC).

A farmer family, on an average, earns Rs 6,426 per month; income attributable from farming is only Rs 3,078

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This is the fifth article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
*** The condition of farmers and agriculture in Gujarat is bad, even though tall talks of development are being recited. Farmers do not get viable price of their produce, and they are sinking into debts because of ever-increasing cost of the essential inputs for farming year after year. In Gujarat, there are 52 lakh farmers and 68 lakh agricultural labourers. Thus, 1.20 crore people are directly associated in farm activities. As per a simple calculation, the source of livelihood of approximately 3.60 crore people of Gujarat is derived from agricultural activities. This represents about 55% of the total population of t…

Maduro in Venezuela, Duterte in Philippines, Modi in India, Trump in US: Textbook examples of those who undermine human rights

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By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
It is December 10th: ‘Human Rights Day’ once again! This year the day is extra-special as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein puts it, “Next year on 10 December 2018 we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this years Human Rights Day on Sunday marks the beginning of a year-long 70th anniversary commemoration. It will also, I hope, be a year of intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance of each and every one of the 30 articles contained in this extraordinary document.
The UDHR certainly needs to be celebrated; most countries in the world have acknowledged its intrinsic value and are signatories of this path-breaking document, which has been translated into five hundred languages. Sadly, the bitter truth is that in several countries of the world human rights continue to remain on paper today, just empty platitudes. The poor and the marginalized, the vulnera…

More unemployed persons registered in employment exchanges, but few get jobs, hardest hit are workers in unorganized sector

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This is the fourth article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
***
In the year 2001-02, 2.52 lakh fresh jobless were registered; during 2910-11, 4.11 lakh fresh jobless were registered. In the year 2015, 4.74 lakh jobless were registered, but only 3.37 lakh people got employment. Thus, year after year, more and more jobless people were registered.
During 2001-11, 29.86 lakh fresh jobless were registered and only 13.38 lakh people got jobs in Gujarat. Thus, during this period, 16.48 lakh people remained unemployed. Taking into account the span of 2004-15, 43.44 lakh fresh unemployed people registered their names in Employment Exchanges, but only 24.41 lakh people got employment, …

How Modi made mirth and merriment by collecting money worth crores on the occasion of Sharadotsav of 2005

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This is the third article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
*** An evidence of how much did Narendra Modi follow the dictum, that he "wouldn't eat, nor would allow others to eat",  has come to light from the Sharadotsav festivity celebrated in Kutch. As the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he flouted the Constitution in 2005 appears, making mirth and merriment by collecting extortion money worth crores of rupees on the occasion of Sharadotsav. It was cleverly committed financial corruption.
Worse, in return of contribution of Rs 50 lakhs made by a large company like Welspun, 40 acres of lands valuing crores of rupees were allotted to it at a cheap rate, and due …

Education: Despite chaos and anarchy, Gujarat government has started behaving in a way as if it has no liability at all

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This is the second article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
*** The extent of chaos and anarchy which prevails in the education field is not found in any other sector. Government has started to behave in a way as if it has no liability at all on the educational front. The education in the schools, colleges and universities has been made so much expensive and costly that parents earning income of Rs. 25,000 a month have no option but to incur debts to educate their children.
Primary, secondary and higher secondary education As per the Report of the Ministry for Human Resources, Government of India, for March 2014, 18% of the pupils studying in primary classes dropped out from cla…

Narmada: Tactic of encashing radial gates issue as a basis of grand celebration has turned out to be ridiculous

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This is the first article is the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker,  environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
*** It has been stated that the Narmada Project is a lifeline for the people of Gujarat but, for over last 15 years, the Government of Gujarat has not been able to complete the Narmada Project and could not provide waters to the farmers which portrays an example of its haphazard management. The celebration of "Mother Narmada" festivities creates a position of embarrassment instead of jubilation for the ruling party. By spending crores of rupees at the cost of the Government at the time of the assembly polls, the ruling party made the game-plan for electioneering, canvassing and campaigning.
The tactic of encas…

A bigger shame for us in India: Media in Pakistan has often shown extraordinary gumption in showing truth to military power

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By Anand K Sahay*
It is instructive to run a comparison between the American media in the time of adversity and our so-called independent news platforms- both print and television. (Not counting FM stations, by way of radio we have only the All India Radio, a government outlet and it won’t be fair to expect it to play anything other than a partisan role on the government’s side.)

One of Gujarat Children’s University jobs is to send a functionary to the house of a pregnant woman to read out scriptures!

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By Prof Rohit Shukla*
Gujarat is one of the fastest urbanising states. With increase in population and rising aspirations, a large number of young people are in search of good education. But this whole process is nipped in the bud with wrong policy set up, poor administration and prejudiced behaviour.

Should Nehru's party worker not speak up when a leader of a communal party makes statements incompatible with the Constitution?

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Disowned by Maharashtra Congress and his family, including his brother Tehseen, Shehzad Poonawalla wrote two controversial letters to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, first on November 15 and the second one on November 18, stating that, perturbed over "the unabashed proliferation of dynasty politics and children of leaders getting promoted everywhere at the cost of merit", he was offering his unconditional resignation from all offices relating to the party until he was given the opportunity to be heard. Text of the two letters:

Repeal laws like NSA which give unlimited power to state authorities to detain Akhil Gogoi and Chandrasekhar without trial

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By Battini Rao*
Akhil Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Asom, and Chandrasekhar of the Bhim Sena in Western Uttar Pradesh, have been under detention for many months now. Akhil was arrested on 13 September under sedition charges by the BJP government of the state. On 25 September a total of 122 cases against him were clubbed together under the National Security Act, foreclosing any possibility of judicial redress. The NSA advisory panel of the state approved his detention on 19 November, thereby sealing his incarceration for 12 months at least.

Utterances of BJP, Sangh Parivar functionaries sufficiently indicate to possibility of change in key elements of Constitution

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By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 November, speaking at a function in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath vehemently stated, “I believe that after Independence, the biggest lie in India is the word secular...the people who gave birth to this word and who use it, should apologise. No system can be secular. Political systems can be neutral towards sects, but not secular.” Coming from the CM of the biggest State in the country, this is obviously no off-the-cuff remark, but a well-calculated attempt to test the waters and at the same time prepare for the 2019 General Elections.

It's an unequal fight: They have resources, we have resilience; they are merchants of death, we carry with us dreams of oppressed

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Gujarat’s Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani has made an “urgent appeal” for funds through Crowdnewsing (click HERE) to support his campaign against the BJP ahead of the Gujarat elections. Text of the appeal:
Dear friends and well-wishers, ever since the horrific videos of Una flogging surfaced, some of us got together to relentlessly work against the fascist communal and brahmanical Gujarat government led by RSS-BJP. The Una flogging brought to the fore the largely invisible yet deeply entrenched casteist character of BJP led ruling class of Gujarat.

Need to look at look at the face and consequences of poverty, which suffocate millions of people across the world

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By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Pope Francis invited all Catholics and, in fact, all men and women of goodwill, to observe 19 November as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year was the very first observance of such a day (now fixed for the 33rd Sunday of the Liturgical Year). In a message, which was released last June, Pope Francis said:

Global production of GM soybean and GM cotton are declining; GM oilseed rape and GM maize hectarage have stagnated

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Angelika Hilbeck*
Genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced to the world almost three decades ago with great fanfare and the first crops commercialized over two decades ago. We were promised no more nor less than the abolishment of hunger and malnutrition and the creation of plants with higher yields and adapted to the challenges caused by the changing climate.

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