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Showing posts from July, 2017

"Deep concern" over rapidly changing socio-political atmosphere after coming to power of majoritarian government in India

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The all India Milli Council, which held its national convention on July 30, at Talkatora Stadium, came up with the following resolution:
At a time when there are counter efforts to mar the Indian Constitution’s basic components like pluralism, diversity, equality, justice and tolerance and those responsible for this feel sure that nothing would happen to them as if they have got sanction from the highest authorities in the government, the Constitution faces threats to its very existence. This extraordinary situation has perturbed the citizens of the country.
Realising the concerns of the citizens, All India Milli Council (AIMC) has called the national convention “Save the Constitution and Build the Nation” so that the issue is pondered over in detail and remedies are suggested. Following is the resolution passed by the national convention held at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi on July 30, 2017.
1. This gathering demands a total ban on hate speech which is against our ethos and the const…

As a consequence of chasing funds, NGOs shift their focus from their core mission, change their objectives to suit donor needs

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By Moin Qazi*
India is now all set to frame a law to curb the wild growth of NGOs following a series of strict observations of the Supreme Court. The CBI has informed the Supreme Court that it has detected 32.97 lakh registered NGOs and voluntary organizations but less than 10% of them, 3.07 lakh, filed their audited accounts.
India has tens of thousands of NGOs, including local arms of global charities and homegrown groups, working on a wide range of issues, including poverty, gender rights, urban safety, human rights, microfinance, environmental protection, healthcare, agriculture and clean energy. They form the bulwark of India’s vibrant civil society, which is crucial to developing an effective interface of the government and the community.
But sadly not all NGOs are necessarily formed for altruistic reasons, and in a number of cases NGOs are promoted because they make good economic logic to the founders.
There is a growing tribe of NGOs which exists, metaphorically or lit…

Tank in JNU campus: Vice chancellor should rightfully claim credit, patent the concept and process of Wargasm

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By Anand Mazgaonkar*
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice Chancellor’s (VC's) suggestion of installing a tank at a prominent place on campus is not only a brilliant, but also an honest idea. Just as we never found out the source of the demonetisation idea -- whether it was the Reserve Bank of India's (RBIs) own idea or whether the Government gave it to the RBI to give it back to the Government to implement -- we will never figure out where this one came from.
It may have come from the JNU VC’s own fertile brain, or from Nagpur, or Delhi or it may have done the merry-go-round like demonetisation, i.e., from Nagpur to Delhi to VC and back to Delhi for implementation.
Unquestionably, following due procedure, creating lot of smoke does indeed cover up the source, intent and purpose. We must indeed be a stupid people. The only problem is that some of their motormouths betray their true designs.
Mr Rajiv Malhotra, is reported to have said he was “glad we’re capturing JNU” a…

Andhra Pradesh sitting judge "indicted" in preliminary report, yet no further process undertaken to proceed against him

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Text of the letter dated 27th July 2017 by prominent advocate, Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan, as convenor of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) to the Chief Justice of India:
On 30th August, 2016, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) had sent a representation to the former Chief Justice of India, Justice TS Thakur, against Justice CV Nagarjuna Reddy, sitting Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, seeking initiation of in-house inquiry into the allegations in the representation. The allegations involved abuse of office, particularly nepotism and physical assault against a dalit junior civil judge and interference in the course of judicial process.
Thereafter Chief Justice Thakur had appointed Justice Gogoi to scrutinise the case for his preliminary view. It has been reported that Justice Gogoi submitted his report, indicting Justice Nagarjuna Reddy and has suggested that a more thorough three member inquiry committee be put in place t…

Whither ideology in power politics? Nitish Kumar "feared" Lalu Prasad Yadav would diminish his stature in the eyes of Bihar masses

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By Faraz Ahmad* I don’t claim a copy right to this Urdu couplet: “Pahunchi wahin pe khaak jahan ka khameer thha.” Actually I don’t even know the poet who composed this one. But I recall when Jamaate Islami chief Maulana Abul Aala Maudooodi died in New York, the Urdu daily ‘Masawat’ the party organ of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) , had a screaming eight column banner headline in red ink announcing Maulana Maudoodi’s death in United States of America (USA) with this couplet.
Ironically for all the supposed anti-US and anti-imperialist vituperation and rhetoric Mauddoodi indulged in in his Friday (khutba) congregations, he like many others of our sub-continent men suffered from typical racial inferiority complex besotten by fair skin and therefore took a white American as his wife.
It comes back to me in the context of Bihar strong man and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s latest, though much anticipated somersault discarding the secular Mahagathbandhan and embracing back his alma mater…

Victim of human trafficking: Hundreds of children brought from Rajasthan to work in cotton fields of North Gujarat

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By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, urging Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge. The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide. Three years later in 2013, the   General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action and through a resolution designated July 30th as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
The world body states, “human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are vi…

It's bizarre to discredit Dilip Kumar, K Asif, Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Guru Dutt, the spine of contemporary film business

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Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut has written an open letter in reply to a an open letter by Saif Ali Khan on the nepotism debate currently rocking Bollywood following his apology that the "nepotism rocks" joke at the recent International Indian Film Academy awards function by him and along with Karan Johar and Varun Dhawan was not directed her. Text: 
All the debate and exchange of thoughts on nepotism is exasperating, but healthy. While I enjoyed some of the perspectives on this subject, I did find a few disturbing ones. This morning, I woke up to one such open letter (circulating online), written by Saif Ali Khan.
The last time I was deeply pained and upset about this issue was when Mr Karan Johar wrote a blog on it, and even once declared in an interview that there are many criteria for excelling in film business. Talent is not one of them.
I don't know if he was being misinformed, or simply naive, but to discredit the likes of Mr Dilip Kumar, Mr K Asif, Mr Bimal Roy, M…

Lingayat rally in Karnataka: A deliberate attempt to whip up frenzy, a motivated effort to twist history

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By Deepak Parvatiyar*
It is very unusual of me to get into religious matters. I always try to keep myself away from matters of faith and religion for the simple reason that I respect one's faith and religious beliefs. But this post is quite interesting, and is more political than about religion and faith... So equally interesting is the presence of opportunist politicians in the melee.
I can say that a deliberate attempt is being made to whip up frenzy and this is very dangerous. I read the statements made by the so called Lingayat leaders with great interest and can only laugh at their claims. The way they are twisting their own history is nothing but motivated. And there is no insinuation.
Consider their arguments to prove that they are not Hindus – that they are the followers of Basavanna's Vachan; that the Vaidic religion is polytheistic and that Hindus have 33 crore gods and goddesses while Lingayats are monotheists... so on. They compare their religion with Buddhism to…

Image of Modi as militant modernist is built on a strategy of violence against region’s most vulnerable communities

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By Gargi Bhattacharya*
The rise to power of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been built on a paradigm of development and anti-corruption that has enabled him to develop sustained electoral support among the Indian middle classes and rehabilitate his image as a statesman on the international stage.
But the neoliberal model of development that Modi represents is one that comes at great cost in terms of economic inequality and basic civil rights.
A case-in-point is the infamous demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes last November that rendered 86% of currency notes in circulation invalid and all but wiped out the informal sector.
Markets closed, ATMs ran dry of cash for days, cash withdrawals were regulated with an iron fist and millions of people lined up in queues to deposit useless bank notes comprising their lives’ savings.
More than 100 deaths were reported in three months. People died of heatstroke in the queues, and they died of anxiety – they committed suicide i…

Legal notices to journalists meant as intimidation tactic, way to harass reporters through legal fees, time spent to respond

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By Aayush Soni, CPJ India Correspondent
On July 5, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who recently resigned as editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, and his colleagues Advait Rao Palepu and Shinzani Jain, received a notice from Thaker and co., a law firm representing Adani Power Ltd, that threatened legal action over a story published the month before.
While legal notices can result in civil or criminal defamation cases, journalists in India say companies are increasingly using them as part of a tactic known as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP, in an effort to intimidate or censor them.
Thakurta told CPJ that the point of the legal notices isn't to take journalists to court, but to serve as an intimidation tactic and way to harass reporters through legal fees and time spent responding to notices and appearing in courts sometimes hundreds of miles from where their newspapers are based.
This isn't the first time that lawyers acting on behalf of large corporat…

The wavering Vaghela: A spent force, who failed to manage elections when faced with formidable political enemies

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By Rajiv Shah
It was April-end 2009. As part of a journalists’ group taken to “cover” Lok Sabha elections on the polling day, we visited Vasania, known more as Shankirsinh Vaghela’s village, about 20 km north of Gujarat capital Gandhinagar. Brisk polling was on. Talking to the villagers, we were pretty impressed: While Vaghela himself was fighting from a constituency which is about 150 km away, here everyone seemed to vote Congress, the party he quit his 77th birthday, July 21. A local scribe rushed out of the polling booth and told me: “Do you know? There is no BJP polling agent in the booth! All are Vaghela men. So no vote for the BJP!”
His “information” made me curious. I began inquiring from the Congress people, mostly youth, sitting a little way from the polling booth on what the reality was. One of them, whose main job was to provide slips to those going to the polling booth, told me quietly: “BJP people wouldn’t dare enter the polling booth. They dare not put up their tables o…

Complaint against Rakesh Sinha: Having silenced her critics within Bengal, Mamata is spreading her tentacles outside the state

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By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
It left me aghast when I heard that at the Shakespeare Sarani Police Station, Kolkata, an FIR, at the behest of Mamata Bannerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, based on very flimsy and unfounded grounds was filed against my old time friend, Delhi University Political Science professor and RSS think tank/ spokesperson, Rakesh Sinha — truly, a man of letters and clear understanding on matters pertaining Hindu-Muslims relations, India’s secular credentials and communal harmony.
Why it actually traumatised me, was the fact that I have known Rakesh for almost two decades, even while he wasn’t the spokesperson of the RSS, as an erudite scholar and a very well-read intellectual. We have often sparred on the umpteen TV channels on a variety of topics ranging on a varied variety of topics, sometime on the opposing sides of the table and at others, on the same side! What impressed me was his deep-rooted knowledge of history and a holistic approach towards all aspects of pol…

EPW has earned its reputation as independent, impartial journal for publishing scholarly articles - research-based academic

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Full text of the statement issued by the Sameeksha Trust on the circumstances leading to the resignation of Paranjoy Guha Thakurta as the Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW):
A legal notice was served on the Sameeksha Trust, the editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and his co-authors, in connection with an article published in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW). Mr Guha Thakurta initiated a legal process ostensibly on behalf of the Sameeksha Trust without informing, let alone obtaining approval of, the Trust although such a decision was not in the domain of the Editor to make.
The legal reply (sent on the instruction of Mr Guha Thakurta) falsely began with a statement that it was at the instruction of the Sameeksha Trust. This reply and the legal notice were placed on the EPW website, even before the Chairman and Managing Trustee were informed, so that the Trustees were completely unaware of these developments.
On hearing about the matter, a special meeting of the Sameeksha…

Economic and Political Weekly and Article 19: How freedom of speech and expression was violated by EPW trustees

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By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*
Some one year after the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) editor C.Rammanohar Reddy was forced out as editor of EPW by the trustees, which we hoped would be unprecedented and a lesson for the EPW trustees, a much greater assault on Article 19 on the Freedom of Speech and Expression has been violated by the EPW trustees including several from whom this appalling behaviour was not expected.
Firstly, an article criticising crony capitalism by the highest politicians and industrialists in the land should always be exposed. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has earlier exposed the scam on the KG Basin, which was very well received, an example to all those seeking to expose the theft of national wealth and the gross misuse of power. It was widely appreciated.
Now Paranjoy as editor of EPW is forced out by the trustees on grounds that he (1) has subjected the trustees to court action. But what has been threatened by the Adanis is legal not court action. (2) Paranjoy hired a law…

Mob lynching mentality: India trying to catch up with Pakistan, replacing “insult to Islam” with “cow slaughter”

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By Irfan Engineer*
Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old journalism student was se Irfan Engineer ized from his dorm room by a mob that stripped and beat him, then shot him dead on 13 April 2017 in Mardan in North West Pakistan. Khan was accused of offending Islam. In the month of May 2017, a mob attacked a police station demanding that Prakash Kumar, a 34 year old Hindu, arrested under blasphemy laws of Pakistan, be handed over to the mob. Just over a week later, a mob attacked a mentally ill man who claimed to be a prophet at his local mosque in north-western Chitral (Pakistan). He was rescued by police. The spate of incidents followed government of Pakistan’s drive against blasphemy. Unproven allegations of “insult to Islam” led to dozens of mob attacks or murders since 1990 in Pakistan.
India is trying to catch up with Pakistan with spate of mob lynching after the BJP government was elected to power in May 2014, different only with regards to minor details. Replace the allegation of “insult …