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Showing posts from November, 2017

Democratic reforms NGO relies on Gujarat MLAs' data to say: They used just 54% of electoral expenses allowed

By Rajiv Shah
The Election Commission (EC) of India and the Narendra Modi government may be under scanner (click HERE) for "undermining" transparency by refusing to part with any information on the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme, allowing political parties fund their activities secretly.
Yet, surprisingly, in its new report, a top NGO, "working" on democratic reforms, has used official figures to analyze Gujarat MLAs' spending during the 2012 state polls, without once recalling the huge black money used during the elections.
Reasoning the use of the figures the MLAs have provided, and refusing to doubt them, the NGO, Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), has used a disclaimer: "Information about MLAs in this report has been taken from the election expenditure statements filed by them and submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer, Gujarat. ADR does not add or subtract any information, unless the EC changes the data."
Considering all information the…

India slips to become 15th worst country for Christians to live; it ranked 31st four years ago: US non-profit Open Doors

By Rajiv Shah
Open Doors USA, an American non-profit organization, has triggered Hornet's nest by ranking India 15th, next to Saudi Arabia (14th), among 50 top countries where Christians allegedly face "most severe persecution for their faith". Blaming the "persecution" on BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it says, "As a result, radical Hinduism, which was already present under the previous government, has increased steadily."
According to the study, "While the level of intolerance continues to increase, Christians are regularly attacked by radical Hindus", adding, "The level of impunity has gone up markedly, with communities of converts to Christianity from Hinduism bearing the brunt of the persecution... They are constantly under pressure to return to their old beliefs, and are often physically assaulted, sometimes killed."
Significantly, Open Doors ranked India far better -- 31st -- four years ago. Ranking North Korea No 1 …

India "hungrier" than North Korea, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Iraq: Now World Economic Forum cites top US report

By Rajiv Shah
While top bureaucrats in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) may have worked overtime to "lobby" and "manage" certain well-known international institutes (click HERE) in order to show how Modi's popularity is on the rise and the economy under him is looking up, it appears, they have been less successful with certain institutes. One of them seems to be is the World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Zurich, known for "uniting" world political, business  and academic leaders for economic development.
If only a few weeks ago, WEF came up with a comprehensive report ranking India's global gender index at 108th among 144 countries, it has now approvingly comments on a high profile Washington report, "India is hungrier than North Korea."
Pointing out that India has slipped in Global Hunger Index (GHI) from 97th to 100th rank, WEF, in a short but succinct commentary, notes how India, "home to the world’s second-largest population…

Improved ratings? Modi's top Gujarat babus in PMO "worked out" strategy to lobby with Washington institutes: Insider

By Rajiv Shah
Did Narendra Modi's top bureaucrats from the Gujarat cadre, currently in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), work out a well-planned strategy to lobby with three top international institutes, all headquartered in Washington, World Bank, Moody's and Pew, for ensuring a sharp image make over of Modi ahead of the Gujarat elections, after all three last year seemed least cared to show India under Modi in good light?
It would seem so, if a top insider of Gujarat government is to be believed. According to this insider, he knows how at least one of the closest Modi aides, who is a Gujarat cadre retired IAS bureaucrat and has been one of the most trusted Modi men ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots, was the key person who worked out a complete plan to ensure that the three institutes change their "approach".
"Those who have been in the Gujarat government under Modi have had enough experience about how lobbying works in the US", this insider, who did not…

Gujarat's health risk higher than 13 states due to child and maternal malnutrition: World Bank-supported study

By Rajiv Shah
A new study, published in one of the world’s most prestigious online health journals, “Lancet”, has revealed that, among major Indian states, “model” Gujarat’s mortality and morbidity risk factor as a result of child and maternal malnutrition is higher than as many as 13 of the 21 major Indian states.
Calculated using a World Health Organization (WHO) term, Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) rate, which seeks to quantify the burden of disease, with one DALY considered as one lost year of "healthy" life, Gujarat’s DALY rate for child and maternal malnutrition is 5013 per 100,000 population.
Major states with a higher DALY rate than Gujarat for child and maternal malnutrition – which the Lancet considers the most important health risk factor out of 17 factors – are seven, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Interestingly, not just prosperous states but also Odisha, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Hi…

Manual scavenging in India to continue because of growth of toilets, 65% of whom are unsafe: Top UN official

By Rajiv Shah
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Leo Heller has expressed the apprehension that, despite a 2013 law prohibiting manual scavenging, the “generations-old practice of imposing sanitary tasks onto the lower castes” (Valmikis) would continue because of “the growth in number of toilets.”
In a preliminary report Heller has prepared for submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following his visit to India from October 27 to 10 November 10, 2017, he said, his assertion that manual scavenging will “continue to be practiced in a caste-based, discriminatory fashion” comes despite the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission’s “preferred technology for excreta disposal – the twin-pit latrine.”
Asserting that he himself met “a number of current manual scavengers in Uttar Pradesh from various districts (Mainpuri, Hardoi, Bareli, Firojabad)”, Heller said, “I heard from several family members, during meetings in Del…

MastarCard study ranks India 41 of 42 countries, "beats" only Pakistan in digital payment despite noteban shock

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study, sponsored by MasterCard, one of the top American multinational financial services corporations, has said that, despite the “self-inflicting shock … by demonetizing its currency” a year ago, India beats just one country, the neighbouring Pakistan, in what it calls digital experience – a term used for identifying adoption for online transactions.
Carried out by the Fletcher School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context at the Tufts University, bringing this to light, the study ranks in all 60 countries countries’ regulatory, infrastructural, and identity- and interface “present in the digital environment, identifying the countries “by speed, quality, and ease of use when transacting online.”
However, from the 60 countries, it chooses 42 countries for ranking "digital experience."
Principal investigator of the study, Dr Bhaskar Chakravorti, senior associate dean of International Business and Finance at the Fletcher School, says, the lesson fro…

Warning bell for Gandhians: Dalit activist "justifies" Godse on learning Mahatma blackmailed Ambedkar

By Rajiv Shah
In what should prove to be a warning bell for Gandhians of all hues, a dangerous trend appears to be taking shape, accelerated amidst a sharp upswing of information explosion, especially through the social media. A senior Dalit rights activist, who has been actively involved in organizing the Valmiki community in Gujarat, put out a Facebook post justifying Nathuram Godse murdering Mahatma Gandhi on October 3, next day of Gandhi Jayanti.
While this activist deleted the post 24 hours later when he was told this would send a "wrong message", when contacted, he told Counterview, "I went to a Dalit rally in Dholka. There I came to know for the first time how Gandhi pressured Babasaheb Ambedkar into giving up the demand for separate electorate for Dalits, allowing us to elect our own representatives to legislatures."
The activist, who has been in the forefront of the fight for the cause of manual scavengers and manhole workers, continued: "Gandhi betrayed…

India slips in World Bank ranking on starting business, registering property; overall 30 point jump is from pre-GST data

By Rajiv Shah
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have tried to extract political capital out of the 30 point jump noted in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business report, calling the 100th ranking among 190 countries “historic”, a result of what he called “all-round and multi-sectoral reform push of Team India”, but a comparison with the last year’s report suggests there is little cheer about it.
In fact, India’s ranking in what could be considered as perhaps the most important factor for calculating ease of doing business, “starting a business”, has actually slipped by one point, from 155th to 156th. In yet another factor, which could be considered equally significant, "registering property", India’s ranking has slipped even more – from 138 to 154.
While the World Bank also notes slip in two other factors, “getting electricity” from 26 to 29 and “trading across borders” from 143 to 146, in a few other factors, the improvement is not as drastic – for instance, the ranking…