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Showing posts from September, 2018

Fasting for 101 days to clean up Ganga, Swami Sanand to stop drinking water on October 9

Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, earlier GD Agrawal, professor of civil engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, has entered 101th day of his hunger strike at Matri Sadan, Haridwar, for cleaning up Ganga. Among those who met him included Cabinet minister Uma Bharti, asking him to give up the fast. Another Cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari has written a letter with a similar plea.
While the swami has declared he would stop drinking water starting October 9, the BJP government, which has spent over Rs 7,000 crore, has not only failed to clean up Ganga, the river has become even dirtier, said Sanjay Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey in a joint statement.
On the other hand, the government has come up with projects that would further pollute the river. One of them is to connect by highway four religious spots, Gangotri, Janmotri, Haridwar and Rishikesh. It would only help the corrupt contractors, who are associated with the ruling party, the …

UP govt "not allowing" installation of Ambedkar, Buddha statues in two villages

Dalits of two Uttar Pradesh villages, situated not very far from to the state capita. Lucknow, are not being allowed to install statues of Dr BR Ambedkar and Gautam Buddha, allegedly because of the adamant attitude of the influential people of the ruling party, BJP, and officials of the administration.
While despite their repeated pleas, Dalits of Sarasondi village of Barabsanki district are not being given permission, in Gumai Majra village of Sitapur district the idols of Ambedkar and Buddha, installed on the private land of a Dalit farmer, were removed by the police and staff from the sub-magistrate's office on September 24-25, 2018, saying that it is a disputed land.  In a joint statement, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and well-known academic and social worker Sandeep Pandey said that the statues were removed two days after they were installed because people associated with local BJP MLA Gyan Tiwari are seeking to "illegally" trying to occupy the la…

Narmada Bachao Andolan celebrates three decades of struggle at Badwani

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Farmers of the Narmada valley, farm labourers, potters, fishermen, tribals, and Dalits gathered in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh in a show of strength to mark the 30th anniversary of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which was set up on September 28, 1989 in Harshad, district Khandwa. The gathering was addressed, among others, by NBA leader Medha Patkar.
Present on the occasion to mark the occasion included Dhanshyam Chowdhury of the Swabhiman Shetkari Sangathsn, Member of Parliament and farmers' leader Raju Shetty, Madhuresh Kumar of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, social worker Anil Hebbar, who has been associated with late Baba Amte, Maninder Singh Raisingh Patel (Bittu), President of the Congress-ruled Janpadh Panchayat, Badwani, and Tamil Nadu artist Oviar Pugale Di. An NBA statement issued on the occasion said, people from villages, towns and villages are watching the displacement of in the Narmada valley, not only of themselves, the land, the trees, fores…

Three months after they were "illegally" detained, two of three UP forest rights activists released

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After spending three months in jail, Kismatiya and Sukhdev Gond, tribal human rights activists of Sonabhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, have been released on bail. These two, along with woman tribal rights leader were allegedly "illegally incarcerated under false charges, in what is the State's way of punishing those who are active in their fight for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act (2006), says the All India Union of Forest Workers (AIUFWP).
Citizens for Justice and Peace(CJP), which has been supporting the AIUFWP, adds, "Now, we await the bail hearing for Sukalo Gond, who we expect will be released next week. This development comes after Sukalo and Kismatiya were produced before the Allahabad High Court on September 7, following a Habeas Corpus petition filed by CJP, where the Court had allowed both women to seek ‘judicial remedy’.
Roma, who serves as General Secretary of the AIUFWP, said, “We are very happy at this development. Even for a small thin…

Part two of video on Nitin Desai, a top UN official who worked closely with Kofi Annan, released

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Second part of the video on the life and work of Nitin Desai, an Indian economist and international civil servant, who was Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations from 1992 to 2003, released for public view, takes off from Nitin's return to India in 1987 after fleshing out the concept of sustainable development for Brundtland Commission in its final report "Our Common Future". On returning to India, Desai worked as Chief Economic Advisor and Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
In 1990  Desai joined as Deputy Secretary General of the World Commission on Environment and Development, a conference set up by the United Nations after the success of the Brundtland Commission. Over the next 10 years he was with the UN in Geneva and New York, working for the success of the Earth Summit in Rio and the launch of Agenda 21 (a vision for the 21st Century), in which every constituency's concerns and views on sustainable development were ref…

Bullet train land acquisition: Farmers' representatives to go to Japan, meet JICA officials, politicians, media

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A 20-odd farmers' delegation consisting of representatives from Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli is planning to go to Japan in October to represent before the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is funding the Rs 80,000 crore Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project.
The delegation plans to go to Japan after JICA "agreed" to listen to the grievances of the project-affected farmers. It will also be meeting the leader of the opposition, student leaders and intellectuals in Japan, and hold press conferences in five cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to make a statement that it's not just land but life that is being for the project.
Revealing this, senior advocate Anand Yagnik, who is representing the aggrieved farmers in the Gujarat High Court, said, JICA guidelines "categorically say that if any person aggrieved by the land acquisition being carried out on finance from Japan Bank can file a petition f…

PIPFPD condemns cancellation of Indo-Pak meet, says dialogue only answer to fight terror

The Pakistan-lndia Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has expressed its strong disappointment with the Indian government for cancelling the scheduled meeting of India and Pakistani foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly late this month. The meeting was to take place following exchange of letters by the Prime Ministers of the two countries.
PIPFPD in a statement said, dialogue is the only answer to continued mistrust between the two countries. Condemning all acts of violence, including inhuman acts like beheading of soldiers or civilians, it added, one should not forget that dialogue is the only answer to bring about an end to acts of terror.
Calling upon resumption of the dialogue, PIPFPD said, it should not have been cancelled, as it would have provided an opportunity to interact with the new leadership of Pakistan. Insisting that dialogue is necessary as tension is growing between the two countries, it hopes that the meeting of Foreign Minis…

Himachal govt must put in public all info sought by murdered RTI activist Jindan exposing corruption: NCPRI

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In a strongly worded letter to Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on the murder of RTI activist Kedar Singh Jindan in Sirmaur district on September 7, the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) has said that it "gravely concerned" by the incident. Jindan, it said, was first brutally assaulted and then crushed under a SUV in broad day light near his house. The reason for the murder was, he had "flied numerous applications under the RTI Act to exposed "fraud and irregularities" of the officialdom in the identification of families living below the poverty line (BPL).
Pointing out that he had presented his findings in a conference in Shimla on June 29, 2018, the letter states, he had also put forth proof that he had obtained from six families related to members of the panchayat that had used fake BPL certificates to secure government Jobs. Further, he had registered a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Noting that Jin…

Dubbed RSS plant, Modi man, new Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks VC to celebrate Sept 29 as Surgical Strike Day

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In a surprise move, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, newly-appointed chancellor of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), a central university based in Hyderabad, has asked it's vice chancellor to celebrate September 29, the Surgical Strike Day, as a day of bravery "in order to accord the highest acclaim to those soldiers who carried it out for the safety and security of our borders" in 2016.
Ahmed, who claimed in a letter to the President of India that he is being branded as an RSS plant and a Modi man, and is not being allowed to function by MANUU vice chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz, has asked the latter to "organize various activities, including the parade of the three wings of the forces, and a skit on India army besides organizing a talk-session involving ex-serviceman to sensitize students about sacrifices made by the armed forces."
"Students must be told how Army carried out the surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC", Ahmed h…

MCC to begin state-wide Gandhinagar Chalo campaign, to hold public meeting on Minority Rights day, Dec 18

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The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has decided to begin a public campaign under the slogan "Gandhinagar Chalo" in all the districts of the state with its eight-point demands. MCC, which held a state-level meeting, decided to hold a public meeting on December 18, 2018, the International Minority Rights Day to press its demands.
Pointing out that the aim of the campaign is to bring about awareness through district-level conferences, addressing media, MCC convenor Mujahid Nafees said, the demands include setting up a Minority Welfare Ministry, allocation of special fund in the budget for minority community development, establishing a state minority commission by passing a law, open government schools up to class 12 in minority areas,recognition of Madarsa degrees equivalent to Gujarat Board, special economic package for the upliftment of minorities, a government policy for the rehabilitation of people displaced due to commun…

Ex-diplomat Bhadrakumar chosen as one of world's top 10 bloggers

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Well-known Canadian author, financial consultant and media analyst Peter Diekmeyer has put a former Indian diplomat MK Bhadrakumar, who writes blogs under the title Indian Punchline, published in several online media sites, as one of the top 10 bloggers of 2017. Diekmeyer, in a personal communication to the ex-diplomat, says, "I prefer your opinions of India over that of western journalists any day of the week."
Diekmeyer, in an article introducing his choice of top 10 bloggers, says, "MK Bhadrakumar, an India-based blogger and former diplomat, has been far ahead of the curve in analyzing the return of balance of power politics, in which weaker nations — such as Russia, China and Iran— are increasingly banding together to protect themselves from larger predatory powers."
Diekmeyer continues, "India, which will soon be the world’s most populous nation (and possibly one day its biggest economy), will be crucial in determining how the global chess match will …

Aligarh encounter was fake, the two youth were picked up from their house on Sept 16: Rihai Manch letter to DGP

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In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh police chief, civil rights organization Rihai Manch has accused the police of "killing" two youth, Rashid and Irfan, in a fake encounter in a town in Aligarh district. Releasing a video shot by a news agency, the letter, signed by Rihai Manch president Mohammad Shoeb and general secretary Rajiv Yadav, says that the encounter, which the police claims took place in Harduaganj in Aligarh district on September 20, says that, strangely took place after the media was called to watch the scene.
The letter states, the video clearly suggests that the cops were relaxed, which shows that there was no live encounter, as claimed by the police. It quotes family members of the two youth as  claiming that the two were picked up by the police from their houses on September 16. But when the family members reached the police station to find out about them, they were told, the two had fled. However, according to the family members, they suspect, they were in po…

COVA to "delegitimize" fake news, to hold workshop for journalists, IT professionals, social activists, faith leaders

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The Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA), a Hyderabad-based network for responsible citizenship and global peace, has begun a new initiative, Check-It, to “delegitimize” fake news. The Check-It programme, says COVA, aims to sensitize and educate people to delink the perceived legitimacy of all printed word and broadcasted messages and properly verify the veracity before accepting and more importantly forwarding it with others, especially on social media platforms.
Partners for Check-It IT TechCamp, which is scheduled for September 29-30 in Mahabubnagar, Hyderabad, would include IT professionals, reporters from print and electronic media, faith leaders, social activists, police, and concerned citizens active on social media.
The Check-It TechCamp would be on the theme ‘Decoding Fake News and Propagating It’, and it will address and counter the spread of fake news, with participants are being trained in harvesting fake news, decoding fake news, propagating the decoded fake ne…

New Gujarat govt death compensation to farmers "not applicable" to landless, sharecroppers, tribal cultivators

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Gujarat's top farmers' leader Sabar Rabari has said that there is "nothing new" in the announcement made by deputy chief minister Nitin Patel regarding increase in accidental death compensation to farmers from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, and for serious injuries from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
In a statement, Rabari has pointed out that the announcement had been made several years ago when Anandiben Patel was Gujarat chief minister, adding, "In insofar as farmers are concerned, the government headed by the Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel duo has proved itself to be a miser. Anandiben Patel had announced that the death compensation would be Rs 4 lakh. Instead of implementing her announcement, this government has reduced the amount by half."
Further, Rabari regretted, only those farmers and their families who have land titles in their name have been included for compensation. "The reality is, Gujarat has a large number of landless agricultural workers. Many of them …

Dialogue on dams in Indore to review impact of big projects across India

The Narmada Bachao Andolan, in association with the Matu Jan Sangathan and the Bargi Bandh Visthapit Evam Prabhavit Sangh, will be holding a dialogue on dams on September 30 at the Hindi Sahitya Samiti, Indore, in order to highlight that with the disaster in Uttarakhand and Kerala, and threats faced and felt in the Narmada valley, it is now more important than ever before to come up with a "sustainable a just way to harness resources and monitor their utilisation and distribution of benefits, drinking water, irrigation and power generation."
In a joint statement, the three civil rights organizations have said, "Dams are in the public domain again! Not all, check dams to small dams, but large dams especially, have become an issue to be debated for their costs, impacts, benefits and resultant equity to injustice. These dams, as symbols of development paradigm, need to be reviewed."
Pointing towards the need for a dialogue on dams, it adds, "Dams have an insepara…

Thousands of displaced gather in Madhya Pradesh along Narmada to protest Modi declaring dam completed a year ago

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Thousands of displaced persons – tribals, farmers, labourers, fishermen and other people living in Narmada Valley of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat – gathered in Chhota Barda, Badwani, on September 17 to protest against Prime Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the completion of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam exactly a year ago.
Organized by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), the gathering highlighted how around 35,000 affected families of Sardar Sarovar are still living in the submergence area. NBA said in a statement, “By changing the backwater level, 16,000 families have been left out from getting any benefit which other displaced persons are to get. They don’t have complete right to farming or livelihood, or housing.”
“In 65 villages of Badwani district alone, a total of 4,500 families are left out”, NBA said, adding, “Despite the Supreme Court order, few thousand applications are pending for special grant of Rs 60 lakh. There is a complete lack of facilities…

Take action against those who killed Himachal RTI activist: Letter to chief minister

In a letter to Jai Ram Thakur, chief minister, Himachal Pradesh, insisting upon the need for “immediate action” on those accused of killing social worker Kedar Singh Jindan, a social activist, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said, in all, 72 RTI activists in the country till now, and it is highly condemnable and shameful that the state government “has increased another figure to this.”
The work that Jindan did was exemplary, NAPM said. “Through his RTI pleas, he ensured the work that many government agencies should be normally doing. He helped people below the poverty line this way. This could not be digested by people of the ruling establishment in his area.”
Demanding strict action against the culprits and “suitable compensation” to his family, NAPM said, Jindan was lawyer by profession was a Dalit, who “constantly struggling for the upliftment of the society. His endeavour was always to get the right to education”, adding, “The killers of Kedar Singh Jindan …

Left Front should allow dissent: NAPM tells Kerala govt on anti-pharma MNC activist's arrest

In an “explanatory” note on its recent statement (click HERE) on the promoter of alternative medicine Jacob Vadakkanchery’s arrest, the top civil rights network has said that it “does not seek to hold any brief for the merits or demerits of Jacob as a medical practitioner”, since it is “not competent to do so” and it is “the subject matter of experts in the domain of medical and public health.”
However, it insists, as for Jacob’s arrest, “We wish to state that we expect more maturity on behalf of a government in such a situation, particularly a left-ruled government in Kerala, to deal with dissenting opinions, in ways other than arrest.”
Pointing out that the arrest of the anti-pharmaceutical MNC activist has “obfuscated the deeper questions”, it adds, “We are of the considered opinion that independent of the opinions he holds, Jacob is entitled to all civil liberties, like any other citizen”, hence such “arbitrary action, including arrest”, should be taken against him.”
At the same …

Holding simultaneous polls is against federal structure of Indian constitution: Jagdeep Chhokar

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Speaking at the Western Regional Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms, organized by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) in Ahmedabad, top academic Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, founder-trustee, ADR, said that the federal structure is “basic to the Indian Constitution and holding simultaneous elections is against the federal nature of the constitution and it will amount to changing the constitution itself.” He added, one main reason given by the government to hold simultaneous elections is to bring down the cost of elections, though “nobody knows the exact amount of election expenditure during elections.”
Speaking on electoral malpractices, former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta said the main reason for for this is “lack of manpower with the Election Commission of India (ECI)”, adding, “During elections ECI is dependent on state administration and therefore it is unable to curb electoral malpractices effectively as they are under pr…

Gujarat Bhim Sena demands setting up of community hall, library, sports complex for Dalits in western Ahmedabad

Gujarat's Bhim Sena chief Manishbhai Sondharva, in a letter to Bijalben Patel, mayor, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), has demanded that, in the vacant plot in the Jivraj Park, behind the TV9 Office and next to the D-Mart shopping complex, special facilities be set up for the Dalit population living in the western part of the city.
"The facilities should include a community hall, a study centre, a library and a sports complex in the name of Dr BR Ambedkar", the letter insists, adding, "Currently, there is no place for social occasions for about 100 Dalit localities situated in the western part of the city, including in such areas as Vejalpur, Ambavadi, Rajiv Nagar, Vasna, Malav Talav, Someshwar Nagar, Gupta Nagar, Sorai Nagar, Azam Society, Baldev Nagar, Sant Krupa Society, Ugam Society, Chamunda Society, Shri Krishna Tenement, Bhaleshwar and Sajwas."
Pointing out that the current facilities in the area are very costly, unaffordable and often unavailable, …

Indian Railways "bulldoze" makeshift shanties in Ahmedabad as Modi decides to visit to city on Gandhi Jayanti

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The Indian railway authorities on Saturday “bulldozed” about 50 make-shift shanties near the Sabarmati Railway Overbidge. Vipul Pandya, a civil rights activist, says that this was done “because on October 2, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Ahmedabad for the Gandhi Jayant.”
Pointing out that these make-shift shanties belong to adivasi workers, who migrate to Ahmedabad in search of jobs in construction sites from the eastern tribal belt, Pandya said, earlier, a warning was issued by Railway authorities, Ahmedabad, which had warned these workers to vacate the site by September 15.
The letter, forwarded to CounterView, said, the area “belongs to the Indian Railways and the shanties put up there are unauthorized, hence these should be vacated, otherwise these removed to clear the land.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the development, Gujarat's well-known child rights activist Sukhdev Patel says, "There has been a criticism over the way a girl  was abused at the Rajpath Club…

Repression on a peaceful educational movement in Telangana is unprecedented: AIFRTE, NAPM

All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), in a statement has said it is “shocked to learn of the arrests of several senior leaders of the Telangana Save Education Committee (TSEC), the Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV) and Progressive Youth League (PYL) on September 14, 2018 at around 11:30 AM, when the inaugural event of Telangana Vidya Porata Yatra (Telangana March for Education) was starting from the Telangana Martyrs Pillar, Gunpark, Hyderabad.
“The police roughly handled and arrested Prof K Chakradhara Rao, Prof G Haragopal (both Presidium members of AIFRTE and president and general secretary respectively of TSEC) and Prof K Lakshminarayana (member of the national executive, AIFRTE, and organising secretary of TSEC). They have been detained at various police stations in Hyderabad city”, the statement says.
Pointing out that the cops manhandled president of TVV), general secretary of PYL, and vice-president of PYL, AIFRTE said, there are “nearly 100 persons belonging to stu…

Agitating Surat embroidery workers seek minimum wages, weekly off, other benefits

Following police lathicharge and firing on Surat embroidery workers (click HERE), labour union representatives held a meeting with factory owners’ association in the presence of of the Commissioner of Police, where the demand was put forward to provide workers minimum wages and better working conditions. Held in the meeting hall of the Surat Police Commissioner's office, those who were present included representatives of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Gujarat.
During the meeting, in which Gujarat state labour department officials were also present, the labour leaders said, violent instances in the city are unfortunate, but the misrepresentation and misbehaviour of the factory owners is also responsible for workers' agitation.
A charter of demands put forward by labour leaders, which included strict implementation of labour laws, which are allegedly being violated in 90% of embroidery factories; a weekly off; double the wages to those willing to work on the…

New sexual offence victims scheme starting Oct 2 to compensate refugees, foreigners, minors

Starting October 2, a woman, who has been sexually assaulted, will be entitled to Rs 4 lakh to Rs 7 lakh as compensation, while victims of gangrape are entitled to Rs 10 lakh. In case of disfigurement of the face in acid attacks, the victims will get a minimum compensation of Rs 7 lakh.
The new compensation norms come into force a year after the Supreme Court judgment in the Nipun Saxena vs Union of India case, in which the apex court had asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to formulate a scheme for compensating the women victims and survivors of sexual assault/other offences. The scheme was meant to prescribe uniform compensation across all states in India.
Significantly, the scheme has extended the compensation to refugees and foreigners, on one hand, and to minors, i.e victims/survivors of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), Act 2012, on the other. Under POSCO, the word woman is gender neutral.
As per the Supreme Court order…

Why is Maharashtra govt afraid of Gautam Navlakha: Open letter by a colleague

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Megha Bahl, an activist with the People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), in a open letter to Gautam Navlakha, one of the five activists arrested by Maharashtra police early on August 28, but are under house arrest under a Supreme Court order, has said that arrests reflects the “fear” that appears to have gripped the ruling establishment. The fear stems from Navlakha and other activists' campaign for the deprived people.
“Looks like they are really scared of your loud voice of your folklores”, Bahl says, pointing out that she is forced to write this open letter as 65-year-old Navlakha is under house arrest. She adds, “They are really scared of you because you have stood up against the suppression of the tribals, for the interests of the workers, for the Dalits who are living daily in gutters.”
“The dictatorial government is unable to understand how a person has been working with people for so many years. Perhaps it must have noticed and monitored PUDR discussions on iss…

Video on Nitin Desai's pioneering role in UN policies on sustainable development released

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A two-part video on Nitin Desai, a former Planning Commission member who played central role in defining the concept of Sustainable Development of the United Nation's, traces his journey as Planning Commission's head of the Project Appraisal Division, when he realized the fundamental connect between environment and development and the need for it to be sustainable, to becoming a top UN functionary.
The first video recalls his appointment to head the secretariat of the Brundlandt Commission on Environment and Development, which set the stage for him to flesh out the concept of sustainable development and his global involvement through the historic United Nations Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.
The result was, for the first time civil society, among other constituencies, became active consultants, resulting in policy impact on the UN System and its Agencies and the way of viewing the world an conducting its work. A new department for Policy Coordination and Susta…

Firing, lathicharge on Surat embroidery workers unjustified, govt ignored demand for minimum wages: TU

The Major Adhikar Manch, a trade union of unorganised workers in Gujarat, has said that the recent police action and firing on agitating embroidery workers in Surat was "one-sided", adding, "While resorting to violence by any party is to be condemned, it needs to be pointed out that workers demand is legal and represents a basic right."
Ramesh Shrivastava, secretary, Majoor Adhikar Manch, said in a statement, "Embroidery workers are being forced to work 12 hour shifts and work seven days a week. This is in complete violation of provisions of Factories Act."
Noting that the "right to paid weekly leave and eight hours work day are basic labour rights that are universally recognized", Shrivastava said, "It is surprising that while the agitation has been going on for three weeks now, the Labour Department has not taken any action so far." Seeking immediate intervention, he demanded, the government must "ensure that the workers' …

Ahmedabad budget for Dalits should be in proportion to its population in the city: Dalit rights leader

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Taking strong exception to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) “failing” to allocate budgetary funds for the Dalits in proportion to its population in the city, senior activist Kantilal Parmar, in a representation to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has demanded that the scheduled caste (SC) sub-plan should be implemented in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad’s Dalit population is approximately 14%, as against less than 7% of the state as a whole.
Parma, in a letter to Rupani, said, there should be a monitoring committee which must ensure that the SC sub-plan is properly implemented. As the same, Parmar insisted, the city’s MLAs and MPs should ensure spending their funds for popular schemes for the Dalits in their areas in accordance with the Dalit proportion of the population of their constituencies. While MPs get an annual fund of Rs 5 crore, MLAs get a fund of Rs 1.5 crore for implementing popular schemes.
Even as demanding housing facilities to Dalit localities, especially where the…

Arrest of Kerala anti-pharma MNC activist: Left Front govt throttling dissent, says NAPM

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Taking strong exception to the arrest of Jacob Vadakkanchery, a practitioner and advocate of naturopathy, purportedly on the directions from Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has said it is "another example of intolerance towards voices of dissent and an attempt to throttle them."
The arrest is said to be for “sharing misleading information on rat fever” and “questioned the authenticity of the leptospirosis preventive medicine prescribed by the government”. Jacob is a known critic of the over dependence and unquestioned use and promotion of allopathic medicines, without disclosing the side effects of the same. He has questioned the mighty and powerful pharmaceutical companies for spreading panic among public to amass profit at the cost of human lives.
Last week "The Indian Express" reported that the Indian arm of Johnson & Johnson, the giant pharma company, deliberately suppressed key facts on the har…

A clear case of personal vendetta by fascist forces: Sanjiv Bhatt's wife on his arrest in 22-year-old case

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Shweta Bhatt, wife former Gujarat top-cop Sanjiv Bhatt, who was recently arrested in a 22-year-old case, in a statement has said that the Gujarat government action is a clear example where the “police force and judiciary are used to achieve personal vendetta”, and where “journalists are left to choose between professional integrity and their wellbeing.”
Even as thanking supporters for “unwavering and unconditional support for Sanjiv”, Shweta said, “The last few days witnessed the level at which our government can fall to muzzle a voice of dissent”, adding, “This is an uphill battle against fascist forces.”  Bhatt is known to have resigned from the IPS after differences with then chief minister Narendra Modi. He created a flutter for his affidavit before the Supreme Court that Modi instructed top people in Gujarat to “let Hindus vent their anger against Muslims following the Sabarmati Express train-burning incident in Godhra on February 27, 2002”.
Bhatt was arrested on September 5, f…

Remove ban on entering Sachivalaya, activists to Gujarat governor; lodge complaint to NHRC, to agitate on Oct 2

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A group of social activists led by Dalit rights leader Kirit Rathod has sought the intervention of Gujarat governor OP Kohli to lift the restrictions imposed on individuals entering Gandhinagar Sachivalaya, the seat of political power in Gujarat. In a representation to the governor, they have particularly taken strong exception to a black list, claimed to have been prepared by the state government, containing names of individuals who should not be allowed to enter the Sachivalaya.
Insisting that the all those individuals who wish to enter Sachivalaya should be allowed in, the representation says, the black list is "unconstitutional", and the state government has no right to put such a ban. Referring to how he and his colleagues were recently told on the gates of Sachivalaya that they were "blacklisted", Rathod, accompanied by Kantilal Parmar, Subodh Kumud, Chandu Maheria, Romel Sutariya and others, told Kohli that they had not done any unlawful activity, and they …

BJP forced to withdraw survey as results showed Jyotiraditya Scindia best CM candidate for MP

In what is proving to be a major embarrassment for the BJP, the party's Facebook page for Madhya Pradesh had to suddenly withdraw a "survey" midway, meant to "assess" who is the best chief ministerial candidate. Reason: the "survey" showed that Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia was surging ahead of state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The "survey" was meant to find out, on the state BJP's Facebook page, as to who was the best chief ministerial candidate for Madhya Pradesh.  The survey featured CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, besides Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia. The survey began in the morning of September 5, with Chouhan taking the lead over others. But the situation changed in the afternoon, when Scindia surged ahead and maintained the lead. The comment box was full of praise for Scindia, forcing an embarrassed BJP to stop the survey in the afternoon.

Adivasi women's rights leaders to "walk free" three months after they were detained by UP police

Finally, two Adivasi women’s rights leaders, Sukalo and Kismatiya Gond, detained about three months ago by the Uttar Pradesh police, will be set free. The High Court, which heard the Habeas Corpus petition filed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), has said that the two can take “judicial remedy” for their release, which means that they can apply for bail.
CJP in a statement said, the two human rights defenders belonging to the Sonabhadra district, were “illegally incarcerated under false charges, in what is the state's way of punishing the women who are active in their fight for the proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act (2006).” It added, “We, along with the AIUFWP will move the court for their bail within the next few days, setting in motion the process for their release.”

Supreme Court ruling on Sec 377 not applicable in J&K

The Supreme Court on September 6, 2018, pronounced a historic judgement by scrapping down the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and legalising consensual gay sex, the LGBT+ community across the country, but it will not be applicable in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).In J&K the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) rules, and IPC does not automatically extend to the state, which is governed by its separate constitution and a separate penal code.
The RPC, say legal experts, was also framed during British rule in India and is on the lines of the IPC. Though Section 377 has been diluted by the top court's sentence, the RPC still criminalises sex against the order of nature.
To make the SC ruling applicable, J&K Assembly would have to frame a law and send it to the state governor for approval. The governor, in return, must forward it to the President of India for a final nod. Although Jammu and Kashmir is under Governor's Rule, the state Assembly cannot frame any law. Hence, the …

SC verdict on Section 377: As BJP rulers keep mum, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind says it will "destroy" family system

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At a time when human rights activists across India and the world are rejoicing the Supreme Court verdict striking down Section 377, while India’s BJP rulers are keeping mum, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has said it is dismayed. In a statement, its secretary Muhammad Salim Engineer said, “The Supreme Court verdict to legalize homosexual behavior between two consenting adults, effectively scrapping section 377 of IPC, overturning the earlier judgment of the Delhi High Court, will destroy the family system and prevent the natural evolution and progress of the human race.”
Engineer said, “No society can accept crimes, vices and anarchy in the name of freedom and personal liberty. We will persevere to educate the people and exercise all democratic options to resist this shameful perversion and decadence in values which ignores religious teachings, our culture and the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the people.”
He appealed to citizens to “save this country from falling into sexual anarchy…

Despite victory, LGBT people's struggle for right to marriage, adoption, inheritance "continues"

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Calling the Supreme Court order, that criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct is unconstitutional, as a major victory for “human rights and the LGBT people’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, LGBT people in India have suffered “widespread discrimination, sanctioned by a discriminatory law” and been “vulnerable to violence and extortion, including by the police.”
Saying that it has international significance, HRW added, “Over 70 countries, including many in the Commonwealth, still criminalize consensual same-sex relations. Kenya and Botswana, both of which inherited versions of the Indian penal code during the colonial period, currently have cases pending before their courts that would also strike down laws outlawing consensual same-sex conduct. Other countries in which courts have struck down sodomy laws in recent years include Trinidad and Tobago (2018), and Belize (2015).”
“Striking down Section 377 is a momentous step that will resonate a…

NBA gives call for Jeene Ka Haq satyagraha for Sep 17 along Narmada river

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has given the call for Jeene Ka Haq Satyagraha, which would include Jal satyagraha on September 17 by farmers, labourers, fisher-people and others, asserting rights of peoples and rivers to live along the Narmada river, a public meeting at Rajgadh, Badwani on September 29, and a seminar on September 30 on “Sardar Sarovar Project- Kya Khoya, Kya Paya? A Dialogue on Dams” at the Hindi Sahitya Bhavan, Indore.
NBA said, the call has been given against the backdrop of “struggle by thousands of people, especially women, in Narmada that took place last year”, when, “facing police battalions armed with lathis, arrests to false cases”, activists, including NBA leader Medha Patkar, resorted to fast for 17 days. “People gained through certain decisions and orders on rehabilitation benefits although compliance is partial and not without the corruption”, it added.
NBA claimed, “More than 35,000 families in the submergence area not yet rehabilitated; environmental …

Activists, journalists in Bangalore demand: Declare Sanatan Sanstha terrorist organization

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At a gathering in Bangalore, held on the occasion of the first anniversary of the murder of well-known journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, senior activists and journalists demanded that the right-wing “supremacist” organization Sanatan Sanstha, whose members are allegedly involved in the conspiracy to murder Lankesh, be declared a terrorist organisation.
Earlier, they paid homage at Lankesh’s grave.
Those who participated in the meeting included Lankesh’s sister Kavitha, social activists Swami Agnivesh and Teesta Setalvad, youth leaders Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid, and senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan. Later, they marched to the Raj Bhavan in favour of their demand.
Just meters away, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti also held a counter protest, blaming the Congress for framing ‘innocent’ Hindu men in the terror plot that was recently discovered by the Maharashtra ATS. One of the key accused in the Lankesh murder case allegedly has links to the Sanatan Sanstha.
Speaking on the occa…

Amnesty's global call for pressuring release of Dalit Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad 'Ravan'

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Amnesty International has given a global call to all Dalit networks, human and democratic rights groups and civil society groups for a major campaign on September 28 to release Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, Bhim Army leader, currently under detention in Saharanpur Jail, under the National Security Act (NSA), which allows for the state to detain people without charge or trial for up to a year.
Pointing towards the need for the campaign the statement says, “Since Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan's NSA detention ends in November, it is crucial to build pressure both from within India and around the world on the Uttar Pradesh government to not detain, intimidate and harass the Bhim Army leader, and release Dalit protestors who have been arrested for protesting peacefully.”
Noting how the Allahabad High Court in November 2017 observed that “the charges against Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan look to be politically motivated”, the statement regrets, “Although the High Court granted him bail in Nov…

Mentally-retarded teenage Indian boy in Pak prison in Karachi for three years

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The Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy, has released the photograph of a boy aged around 17-18, who, it says, has been in Karachi central prison for the three years. "He is an Indian, but cannot give any details on his family or home address -- all he says is Bharat", claims the Forum.
According to the statement, "He is not mentally stable and is suffering from TB. It is unlikely that the states will be able to confirm his nationality with no leads -- requesting friends here to spread the message, so perhaps we can use media to highlight his case -- all he says is his name is Chevy, son of Lorak."
The Forum says, "The boy was arrested in 2014 and his sentence ended in May 2015."

Need to connect reality of Narmada with Kerala experience: NBA

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Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), India’s top anti-dam organization, has said that a major reason for Kerala floods was, water from 35 dams had to be discharged, affecting about 20 lakh people in 14 districts of the state. Estimating a loss of Rs 50,000 crore worth of public property, NBA in a statement added, “This horrific crisis of Kerala has once again brought the relationship between the dam and the flood onto the national platform.”
Pointing out that though rain to the tune of 3,000mm took place 1924, the tragedy of such immense proportion did not take place, NBA recalls, recently, the floods in Uttarakhand got accelerated because of the upstream dams. The same thing, it adds, happened during Surat floods in Gujarat because of release in water from the Ukai dam.
Seen in this context, NBA says, there is a need to “connect the reality of Narmada with the experience of Kerala”, wondering whether the authorities would understand how dark are the dark clouds hovering over Narmada. NBA sa…

What's wrong if GDP growth under UPA is shown in better light?, asks Govt of India panel chief

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Economist Sudipto Mundle, who headed the committee which prepared the back-series GDP report – which showed higher growth during UPA years than under four years of NDA rule – has said that there is nothing wrong with the data. The Committee on Real Sector Statistics under Mundle, appointed by the Modi government, averaged the growth rate during 10 years of UPA rule at more than 8 per cent, while concluding that it has been 7.35 per cent in the last four years of the NDA government.
“The controversy is not about the numbers or the data that has been published; nobody has questioned the numbers that have been put out. It is more political in nature and that is somewhat natural – the opposition parties will say that they did things better and the ruling party will say that they are doing things right. It is part of the game.”
The report, which was first published on the website of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on July 25, removed from its original web addres…

Police version of my Maoist "links" a mix of baseless fabrications, publicly available facts: Bharadwaj

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In a statement, human rights defender, trade union activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, denying Pune Police's letter issued to the media alleging her links with Maoists, has said that it is a "mixture of innocuous and publicly available facts and baseless fabrication". In a point-by-point rebuttal, she says, the police has sought to "delegitimise" Indian Association of People's Lawyers, "whose president is Retd. J. Hosbet Suresh and which has been active in speaking up against attacks of lawyers." "Categorically" stating that she has "never given Rs. 50,000 to hold any programme in Moga, Bharadwaj adds, "Nor do I know any 'Ankit from Maharashtra' or 'Com Ankit who is in touch with Kashmiri separatists'." The statement, issued through prominent Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover, she asserts, "I know Gautam Nadvlakha, a senior and respected human rights activist whose name has been mentioned in a man…