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Showing posts from December, 2018

Telangana's deleted voters: "Hidden danger" in signing forms meant for first time voters

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Election Commission of India (ECI), Delhi, several political activists, including Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, have objected to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Telengana, offering Form 6 for deleted voters, which they say is “meant for new voters that has self-declaration clause under s.132 of Representative of People’s Act (RPA), invoking punishment if already has been in the voter list at least once.
According to them, “We have been asking for segregated list of deleted re-registered vis-a-vis first time new voters”, yet the demand has “not been heeded”, adding, “We have been asking for restoration of unauthorized deleted voters and not for fresh registration as new voter in Form 6. But this was overlooked.”
Signed by Pandey, Lubna Sarwath, who contested the Telengana assembly elections this year, Chakri S, and Guru Moorthy all belonging to the Socialist Party (India), the letter to the CEC says, there is a “hidden…

Govt of India "bent on selling off" coast to corporates, "eliminate" fishing communities

The National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), apex body of fisherfolks' organizations, has said that the Government of India, by giving the cabinet approval to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018, has turned a deaf ear to the protests and objections raised by the thousands of fishing communities, concerned organisations and individuals from all around the coast and the country.
"The sole purpose of the Government of India in drafting and approving the CRZ 2018 Notification has been to pave way to further sell off our coastal land and water to corporate and business houses by removing restrictions on constructions and activities detrimental to coastal natural resources", it said.
Signed by Narendra R Patil, chairperson, and T Peter, general secretary, NFF statement said, "The CRZ 2011 process guaranteed not only environmental protection and livelihood security, but also was a reminder of the robust democratic processes and engagements it followed in its impl…

NBA's women activists "succeed" in putting an end to tree cutting spree in Narmada valley

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) women activists on Friday succeeded in putting a stop to tree cutting spree, going on in a village near Indore city in Madhya Pradesh. This followed a complaint they lodged with the forest official about chopping of trees in village Nandgaon. The official called for contractor, who was involved in indiscriminate tree cutting in this village of Narmada valley over the last 15 days.
The contractor would bring with him three tree cutting diesel machines and other equipment and 12 labourers from Dewas district, chopping off, among others, 50 to 100 years old trees. "He must have transported more than 80 quintals of wood out of the village in the last 15 days", an NBA source said, adding, "Thousands of quintals of wood have been cut in other villages of the valley. Green cover of the Narmada valley has been hit badly."
The NBA source added, "Following NBA activists' complaint, the contractor first agreed to come on phone within …

#CHECKIT programme launched in Hederabad to decode fake news

Hyderabad-based NGO Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) has begun a new project #CHECKIT to address and counter fake news in order to sensitize and educate people to delink the perceived legitimacy of all printed word and broadcasted messages, and also to verify veracity before accepting and forwarding messages to others, especially on social media.
Partnered with faith groups, educational institutions, newspapers, TV channels and organizations working with communities to leverage their outreach to thousands of people on a regular basis to propagate about the phenomenon and dangers of fake news, the project seeks to encourage people to speak and publicize decoded statements, photos, videos etc., and share them to expose fake news.
#CHECKIT’s one-day training programme was inaugurated by K Srinivas Reddy, editor, “Telangana Today”, and Sister BK Anjali from Brahma Kumaris. While highlighting the present scenario in India, Srinivas explained how media is tackling the issue…

Salt factory causing pollution closed following Gujarat Lok Samiti intervention

Thanks to active intervention of the Gujarat Lok Samiti, a Gandhian civil rights organization, and its leaders Nita Mahadev and Mudita Vidrohi, a salt factory situated in Jarvala village in Patdi taluka of Surendranagar district, Gujarat, allegedly causing immense harm to environment, land and water has been closed.
Running for many years, a statement by Mahadev says, the factory caused the people of the village immense problems, with serious consequences to farming and land and water pollution. People of the village tried to find a solution to this in different ways, but to no avail.
Three months ago, the statement adds, the villagers contacted the Gujarat Lok Samiti. Mahadev and Vidrohi tried to understand the situation by doing an on-the-spot inquiry. They found the situation very serious.Citing various studied, including Supreme Court verdicts, people, with the help of the civil rights organization, began negotiating with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB).
Finally, the f…

Raghuram Rajan, others: Right to Education "unnecessary, disruptive" for low-cost private, government schools

In a surprising comment, a group of leading economists, who include former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghunath Rajan, has said that the Right to Education (RTE) law’s “input based” approach to education quality is “unlikely to succeed”. Pointing out that “extensive evidence” suggests most school inputs are “neither necessary nor sufficient for improving learning outcomes”, the economists say, “RTE has led to an unnecessary and disruptive closure of several low-cost private schools that parents were choosing of their own accord.” Noting that “in many cases, even government schools are in violation of these input-based norms”, the economists recommend “repealing all input-based mandates for schools under the RTE (for both public and private schools) and changing the approach to regulation of private schools based on transparency and disclosure as opposed to input-based mandates.”The comment has been made in the widely-reported “An Economic Strategy for India”, released by Rajan a…

Goa's rural children "can't go to school" because of mining dumps on roads

As many as 70 children of Sonshi village and other neighbouring villages in Goa have allegedly “stuck” in their homes and are “unable to go to school”, as mining companies after the mining operations came to a standstill following a Supreme Court order. No transport is available to these children to go to school, as roads are “inaccessible due to mining dumps placed near Soshi and other villages.
The issue came up for discussion at a district level consultation on Children in Mining Area, Illegal Mining, District Mineral Fund (DMF) and Future Generation Fund, organized by civil rights organizations Samata, mines minerals and people (mm&P) and Setu at Honda Panchayat, Sattari, Goa on December 22, 2018.
Participants said, mining children are nobody’s children and are falling through the cracks, as they are mostly ignored by all the concerned child welfare departments, government authorities, unaware of the mining children’s inclusion in the respective departments. They added, there…

Gujarat govt holding programmes on Christmas to "undermine" religious fraternity: MCC

Gujarat's civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), has strongly protested against the Gujarat government decision to hold government functions on December 25, 2018, which happens to be Christmas. In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, MCC convener Mujahid Nafees has said December 25 is the day on which Lord Jesus Christ was born and government programmes have been organized "deliberately to undermine the great occasion for the Christians."
Nafees added, festivals of different religions are observed across India so as to promote love, friendship and understanding among people belonging to different faiths. "However, the state government has behaved in a way that religious fraternity among different religions gets weakened. We strongly condemn this kind of attitude.”

Greenpeace decides to work with skeleton staff following ED raid: Climate change will "suffer"

Greenpeace India said it has decided to reduce its "core strength" to 20-25 people following the Enforcement Directorate’s freezing of its accounts. In a statement, Diya Deb, its Campaign Director, said, “We do not understand the reason for this continuous and relentless harassment against the organisation. This is not an attack on just Greenpeace India, but on the choices of thousands of Indians, who are supporting the fight against climate change."
Greenpeace India’s bank accounts were frozen following a raid by the Enforcement Directorate at the organisation’s Bangalore office on October 5, 2018. On November 5, the Karnataka High Court ordered the ED to expedite the investigation against Greenpeace India and allowed the organisation to access its accounts on furnishing a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh.
"With this kind of arrangement, the organisation’s funds stand to run dry and requires the organisation to cut-down on its operations and staff massively", a G…

Varanasi sewer death: Anti-atrocities, manual scavenging abolition laws "not mentioned" in FIR

A memorandum by the National Inquilabi Dalit Adivasi Forum's Dr Anup Shramik to the district magistrate and superintendent of police regarding the recent death of two labourers due to gas leakage in the sewer of Chawkghat in Varanasi on November 10, 2018 says that, even more than a month after the incident, no concrete action was taken by the administration to nab those responsible for this.
"A very weak FIR was filed by the administration against the guilty. It does not even refer to the anti-atrocities Act or manual scavenging abolition Act. There is no mention of the third person who was injured. As a result, till now,the injured person has not received any compensation or any help for treatment. He is being intimidated, instead, by the culprits", Dr Shramik says.

No meeting of Lokpal selection committee held for nearly four years: RTI reply

Information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has shown that, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the selection committee of the Lokpal met for the first time only in March 2018 -- more than 45 months after the BJP came to power.
Minutes of the meetings of the Lokpal selection committee were sought under the RTI Act. However, the minutes of the six meetings of the selection committee held between March 2018 till date have been denied by the government saying that the committee includes “high level dignitaries” and therefore the minutes are a “secret document”.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) stated: “As regards the minutes of the meetings it is submitted that the authorship of such documents which include 3-5 high level dignitaries does not vest in the DoPT”.
DoPT has not cited any exemptions allowed under the RTI Act, says Anjali Bharadwaj, a senior RTI activist.

Demand for “Mahagathbandhan” among political parties for education

A Roundtable Meeting with Parliamentarians and political parties, organised by the Right to Education Forum (RTE Forum), along with the Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and Alliance for the Right to Early Childhood Development, saw participants demand a “Mahagathbandhan” among political parties on education.
Held at the Constitution Club of India, the meeting put forward the demands listed in the RTE Education Manifesto, collaboratively developed by these three networks, for their inclusion into the probable election manifestos of various political parties for the forthcoming general elections in 2019.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Madhusudan Mistry said, “It’s imperative to pay more attention towards education. For this, a firm and honest political will is required." Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP Ravi Prakash Verma observed, “This government is deliberately diluting the provisions of RTE Act and Child Labour (Prevention) Act, thus consciously conspirin…

Bombay High Court raps govt for not providing housing to Mahul residents

Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) president Uday Samant, a Shiv Sena MLA, has sanctioned the proposal to allot 300 houses to the residents of Mahul, Mumbai's toxic hell. The allotment of houses by MHADA "disapproves" the Maharashtra government stand in the Court about non availability of alternative houses, Mumbai's civil rights organization, Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has said.
However, GBGBA points out in a statement, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), falling directly under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have "still not found out time to take decision on the matter involving the lives of thousands of residents."
High level of toxicity in Mahul has reportedly caused the death of 150 people since 2015. Two people died this week -- one of cancer and the other due to heart attack. They were healthy before forcefully shifted in Mahul last year.
Me…

Concern over poor implementation of district mineral fund in Indian states

In spite of the Mines Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 2015, giving instructions to respective state governments to form District Mineral Fund (DMF) Trust, it has taken almost 3 years for most of the states to set it up and frame rules. Worse, its implementation is still lagging, and most people still do not have any clue about what is DMF and that it exists.
Highlighting this at a state-level consultation on Children in Mining Area, Illegal Mining and District Mineral Fund (DMF), organized on December 16 by civil rights organizations, Samata, and mines minerals and people (mm&P), and collaborated by local organizations Jan Sangram Parishat and Sakhi Trust at Ballari, Karnataka, secretary-general mm&P Ashok Shrimali appealed to the Union and State Governments to create awareness among the people about DMF, its process and implementation.   Shirmali urged state governments to involve the affected people in the process of planning and implementation of projects r…

Minorities rally in Gandhinagar, seek separate minority affairs department, commission, budget

The civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), organized a mass rally in Gandhinagar on December 18, which happens to be the International Minority Rights Day, in order to press for the “basic demands” of the minorities, who form 11.5% of Gujarat’s population.  Organized at what has informally come to be known as Satyagrah Chhavani (cantonment) in the state capital, the rally sough to highlight the fact that there is no separate allocation for minorities’ welfare, nor is there any minority affairs department or state minority commission to take care of their rights.
Addressing the gathering, MCC convener Mujahid Nafees said that in Gujarat, the minority community is living in fear. Even those transport buffaloes are lynched by cow vigilantes. Calling the government’s slogan of Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao “fake”, Nafees informed the gathering, “In Gujarat, the Muslim girls’ dropout rate at the junior primary level (classes 1 to 5) is 10.58%, yet the government is n…

Hyderabad students prepare, display "social projects" with NGO help

In a unique event, Hyderabad NGO Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) in association with the Indian Children’s Action Network (ICAN) displayed project works prepared by students on different social issues. COVA in a press release said, the objective of the programme was to sensitise people, especially school, college, university students and young professionals to social issues and concerns to inculcate in them compassion and responsible citizenship.
Students displayed project works not covered in their syllabus, such as cleaning up government hospitals, importance of public transport, child safety, fake news and problems poor parents face in educating their children. In all 220 students from 31 schools worked on project works.
Students were trained in the methodology of social sciences that included field visits, interaction with stakeholders and data collection to prepare project reports. They were also encouraged to undertake advocacy with officials and social actions…

"Enthusiastic" response to 16-day Utthan campaign to end violence against women

The 16-day campaign on ending violence against women, launched by Utthan, ended with district-level programme organized in Dahod, Mahisagar and Bhavnagar districts on December 10 and 11, in which 1,500 delegates from 50 villages (including sarpanches, panchayat members, local leaders, and women) participated. During the 16-day campaign, more than 12,500 people from 50 villages of Dahod, Mahisagar, Bhavnagar and Amreli districts participated enthusiastically.
Conducting the campaign, Utthan activists apprised people that violence against women and children in the country has been increasing steadily over the past few years. There has been an 83% increase in the incidence of violence against women between 2007 and 2016, which is worrying.
The awareness campaign to end violence collectively, supported by the Edelgive Foundation, commenced on November 25. Several panchayats came forward to pass resolution to free their village of violence against women. People participated in signatur…

Farmer organizations to hold protests ahead of Vibrant Gujarat summit in mid-January

Around 30 organizations working with agricultural labourers, farmers, tribals and women farmers, who gathered at the Sardar Patel Smarak Bhavan, Bhadra, Ahmedabad, discussed issues like debt eradication, crop insurance, irrigation and drought, affecting Gujarat farmers. They also discussed issues related with forest land rights, tribal council, use of ST plan funds, PESA Act, mining etc.in tribal areas. Issues of saltpan workers, fisherfolk and farm labourers also cropped up during the meet.
The meeting decided to oppose the Vibrant Gujarat summit, even as focusing on how it runs against society's interests. A programme of action was chalked out to hold a foot march from Karamsad to Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad, from January 9 to 11, 2019, three days ahead of the summit. It was also decided to hold meetings on the same lines in Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Sabarkantha, Surendranagar, Bharuch and Ahmedabad districts.
Ahead of the state-wide protests, on December 26, 2018, it was decided, farmers…

Public hearing on right to food organized for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

A civil society-supported public hearing has been organized for Thursday, December 13, for the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) from all over Manika Block in Latehar District, Jharkhand, in order to empower them to help make them aware of their right. All PVTG families are entitled to Antyodaya cards, and in Jharkhand they are also entitled to a social security pension.
A NREGA Sahayta Kendra statement, ahead of the public hearing, said, "Because their traditional livelihoods have declined, these entitlements are critical lifelines for PVTGs", adding, "A recent survey in Manika, however, reveals that many PVTG families are still deprived of pensions and food rations. Further, they are struggling with numerous problems related to Aadhaar, such as freezing of bank accounts, refusal of school admission and delayed NREGA wage payments."
Pointing out that the survey also exposes several acts of gross exploitation of PVTGs, for instance by a para-teacher in …

Church priest tries to "stall" screening of film on atrocities on Christians

KP Sasi, a Bengaluru-based human rights activist, writer, cartoonist and film maker, has regretted that a Christian priest tried to stall the screening of their documentary, `Voices from the Ruins' in a Church in Pune, even though the film, according to him, was on the largest attack on the Christian community during the last few centuries. In an email alert, circulated through Dalit Media Watch, Sasi says, "I did not have much space to talk. That was fine. The pastor who organised the screening spent more than one hour shouting `Hallelujah' on top of his voice. And I was sitting behind the crowd wondering why the hell did I make this film. The film was on the persecution of Christians in India. But I was a total failure in communicating."
Sasi continues, "This idiot was not interested in discussing the real issue. And when I came out, a couple of youngsters came to discuss with me. At that time, the same pastor came and piled on to me. His problem was that I w…

Politics shouldn't come in way of SAARC summits: J&K rights defender

Syed Mujtaba, a well-known human rights defender from Jammu & Kashmir, has said that the Kashmiris are sandwiched between the unstable political relations between India and Pakistan, insisting, "For greater peace of the South Asian region, political issues should not be allowed to derail the South Asian South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summits nor it should be held hostage to the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan."
Mujtaba said this even as India declared New Delhi will not participate in SAARC summit, to be hosted by Pakistan, till Islamabad does not stop terror activities in India. Sushma Swaraj, external affairs minister, said this in reaction to Pakistan's statement that Modi would be invited to the SAARC summit.
He was addressing a roundtable meet at the India International Centre, New Delhi, organised by Centre for Peace and Progress founded by OP Shah on J&K: Road Ahead, attended by Round table discussion was atte…

Bullet train project ignores environmental, social impact: Gujarat environmentalists tell JICA

Gujarat’s top environmentalists, belonging to the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, in a representation before the main funders of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Surat, where they were called for a meeting, have said that the bullet train project violates JICA guidelines on environmental and social impacts of the project.
Raising three main issues before JICA officials, Rohit Prajapati, Kriashakant and Swati Desai sought answer as to why was the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is absent during public consultations in Gujarat and Maharashtra, where the project is being implemented, while a foreign government agency is participating in it.
Insisting that the ongoing consultation accepts the need for environmental concerns, they queried, “Why environment laws of India and MoEFCC have no role in the process?”, adding, “Are the MoEFCC and environment laws of the land mortgaged to JI…

15,000 March in 4 Australian cities to protest against Adani coal mining project

As many as 15,000 people are claimed to have marched in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns demanding that permissions to Adani’s mega coal mine in Australia be withdrawn. Responding to Adani’s announcement that it would start work by Christmas, and led by school students and first nations people, snap marches took place in the four cities.
Meanwhile, a new national ReachTel poll said that eight out of 10 Labor Party voters want to #StopAdani, while nine out of 10 Labour Party voters support students’ right to demand climate action. The marches come after thousands of school students walked out of school last Friday around the nation to demand urgent climate action, as bushfires raged across the country and two states continued in the drip of crippling drought.
Kelly Albion, campaigns and communications director with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said: “If Labor doesn’t oppose Adani now, it will haunt them every day of the Federal election campaign and beyond. We will put …

NAPM to celebrate Jashn-e-Samvidhan on Dec 10, Human Rights Day, calls for support

The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has decided to observe December 10, 2018 as Jashn-e-Samvidhan in order to "celebrate" dissent and resistance. Giving reason, NAPM, calling for widest possible support for the event, says, "Our country is currently being ruled by an extremely conservative and communal government."
Planned on the occasion of 70 years of International Human Rights at Parliament Street, New Delhi, it adds, "Institutions of governance are being weakened systematically and independent institutions are under stress from the ruling government to bend their laws in their favour."
Pointing out that 70 years ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and initiated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), NAPM statement says, "However, human rights are being threatened and violated across all countries, at a time when rapidly developing nations should have aided welfare instead of destroy…

Dalit youth tied to tree, beaten up till he became unconscious; time to protest: Jignesh Mevani

Strongly objecting to what he called "police terror" in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's top Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani has said that cops of the city's Kagadipith police station "tied Dalit youth named Umesh Solanki with a tree till they became unconscious", recalling, "We remember what Modi had said  -- it you want to attack, attack me, not my Dalit brothers."
In a statement, Mevani said, "I appeal to the Dalit brothers of entire Gujarat and others, too, that these atrocities in the BJP regime should be answered in 2019" even as demanding "strict legal action against the policemen who attacked our innocent brother." He added, "Even if this person of a Dalit community is involved in any illegal activities, the police have no right to take the law into its own hand."
Continued Mevani, "Two days ago in Ahmedabad city, a Muslim community person was murdered in custody. A few months ago, cops entered in the houses of …

RBI survey: Consumer confidence on jobs, economic situation deteriorates

Results of the Consumer Confidence Survey (CCS), carried out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for November 2018, suggest that growing pessimism on general economic situation and employment scenario. Conducted in 13 major cities – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna and Thiruvananthapuram - RBI said, "Future expectations index (FEI) also moderated due to lower optimism on the employment scenario and household spending."
Based on 5,326 responses on households’ perceptions and expectations on the general economic situation, the employment scenario, the overall price situation and their own income and spending, the survey results show, to quote RBI, that the current situation index (CSI) "declined further in November 2018 in a phase that commenced in November 2016, on the back of growing pessimism on the general economic situation and the employment scenario as also some cutback in spending."
RBI…

UP govt going slow on investigation of murder of police inspector: Rihai Manch

Uttar Pradesh-based civil rights organization Rihai Manch has regretted that the body of police inspector Subodh Kumar was not given due respect like a martyr, even as chief minister Yogi Adityanath's statement suggests that he gives more importance to cow vigilantes than those who seek to protect human beings.
Rihai Manch, which proposes to organize a demonstration in Lucknow on December 7, said that the "criminal role of the government on the murder of its policeman is evident from the manner in which the investigation in the matter is being carried out." It added, "It has come to the light that the special investigation team has already wasted more than 48 hours."
Rihai Manch said, the attack of organized crowd in the name of the cow was carried out with the backing of the Bajrang Dal, Bharatiya Janata Youth Morcha, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, something that  is not being looked into, which suggests the type of fear that exists among administrative officers.  Mea…

Muslims ready to abide by any Supreme Court verdict on Babri, it's land dispute: Milli Council

The All-India Milli Council (AIMC) has said that India's Muslims are ready to accept any Supreme Court verdict on the Babri mosque demolition, adding, "We believe, the main issue on Ayodhya is the dispute over land, and not faith." Addressing media, AIMC's Gujarat leaders said, the Government of India should take a position which is in favour of social integration and brotherhood, even as adhering to Constitutional values in the Supreme Court.
"The government should take a strong stand without taking any sides, strictly deal with fascist forces, including those who make provocative remarks", AIMC said. Those addressed media included AIMC president Mufti Razwan Kazmi Tarapuri, general secretary Abdul Hafiz Lakhani and vice-president Munir Kheruwala. They termed Babri demolition as "a big joke on India's Constitutional values", demanding, the government must "fulfill Narsimha Rao government's promise to rebuild the mosque."
Critici…

Dalits in Himachal's Sirmauri district, forming 30% of population, are "worst off"

The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Samman Yatra, on reaching Nahaan, Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh, learned from members of Dalit Vikas Sangathan and Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch that caste and patriarchy are deeply embedded in Sirmauri society, with evils like child trafficking, bonded labour, caste violence and lack of political to tackle these issues rampant in the area.

Students plan protest against Adani coalming project in four top Australian cities

Student-led marches are being planned across Australia for Saturday, December 8, in response to the "breaking news" that Adani will start work on their mega coal mine before Christmas. Students have invited adults to join them. To attend, with signs, banners and chants, a media alert said, the marches will take place in Melbourne, Sidney, Brisbane and Cairns.
"Speakers include school strikers, first nations people and Pacific Islanders", the media alert said, adding, "Thousands of school students and their supporters will join mass marches around the country this Saturday to call on Federal politicians to urgently stop Adani’s mega coal mine."StrA
The media alert further said, the marches will be led by "the same students who organised last week’s national school strike which saw over 15,000 students walk out of school", adding, "The students are demanding politicians take urgent action to stop dangerous climate change by ending the Adani c…

Appoint only SC-ST lawyers to fight anti-atrocity cases: Dalit rights body write to Gujarat CM

In a representation to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the Dalit rights organization, Gyati Nurmulan Samiti, has demanded that only scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) lawyers, selected through Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) examinations, should be appointed as special public prosecutors in order to take up anti-atrocity cases. Signed by co-conveners of the organization, Rajesh Solanki and Sanjay Parmar, the representation added, these special public prosecutors should be provided with all the necessary facilities to fight such cases, which are run in special courts.
Pointing out that in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal this is already being done, the representation further said, it is found that non-GPSC lawyers appointed as government pleaders are not committed to fighting SC and ST atrocity cases, nor are they accountable to anyone. Suggesting that even GPSC-appointed lawyers of the general category are also found to be not serious in f…

Vacancies in CIC, 26,000 backlog: Supreme Court seeks status report from GoI

Taking a serious view of vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC), the Supreme Court has expressed its concern regarding the status of functioning of CIC, asking the Government of India (GoI) to file a status report within one week and scheduled the next hearing on December 13, 2018.
During the hearing on December 3, the petitioners, Anjali Bhardwaj, Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri, pointed out that at present there were eight vacancies in CIC, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner, and the backlog of appeals/complaints had risen to more than 26,000.
The bench of Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer -- which heard the public interest litigation urging the Supreme Court to give directions to ensure that appointments of information commissioners in a timely and transparent manner -- sought clarification on advertisement issued by the GoI for the posts of information commissioners and chief information commissioner, which allegedly did not specify the salary and…

Call for Indo-Pak people-to-people contact, demilitarization, dialogue on Kashmir

In its third and final leg, the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) chapter of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum For Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) hosted the National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM)-sponsored Samvidhan Samman Yatra, which aims at honouring and protecting the Constitution. The yatra reached Jammu after covering over 30 states across the country, and will end in Delhi on December 10, the international human rights day.
In her welcome address, peace activist, PIPFPD national executive committee member and Executive Editor of the Kashmir Times Group of Publications, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, delineated the imminent dangers to the basic spirit of Constitution and rights conferred upon all citizens, irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or religion, from fascist forces. She said there should ben anall out efforts to protect human rights from onslaught by fundamentalists patronized by the ruling dispensation.
Those who participated at the meet included peace activists from…

Utthan campaign to end violence against women covers Mahisagar, Dahod districts of Gujarat

Ahmedabad NGO Utthan's 16 day campaign to end violence against women in Gujarat's rural areas is half way, and has so far covered 18 villages. The campaign saw active participation of 4,000 people, with 12 gram panchayats -- six from Mahisagar and Dahod districts each -- passing resolution in support of the campaign.
Begun on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, the campaign will end on December 10, the International Human Rights Day. During the campaign, people participated in rallies, signature campaigns, and cultural programmes, including film shows on the need to end violence against women, organized by Utthan.
Ramilaben Sangod, sarpanch, Pav village, Dahod district, told the campaigners that women's participation has increased their awareness on how to overcome violence against women both at home and outside. "Women are often branded as witches, are beaten up by drunken husbands, and widows and single women are denie…

Sales, profits of Indian firms in Oct 2018 "much less than normal" compared to Sept: IIM-A

An Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) survey has said, as of October this year, nearly 2/5ths of the firms in its sample reported that sales are ‘much less than normal’ in October 2018. "This proportion has sharply increased in this month from its average of around 30% observed during the last 4 months", the IIM-A survey says.
The survey further reveals that 47% of the firms in the sample in October 2018 indicated ‘much less than normal’ profit margins. "Proportion of firms reporting ‘normal or above normal’ profit has remained unchanged at around 30% for the last 4 months", it adds.
At the same time, the survey results show, the proportion of firms perceiving significant cost increase has slightly come down to 34% in October 2018 from 38% reported in September 2018.
Called Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), researchers of the IIM-A's sample is based on responses from top executives of over 1600 companies, mostly in the manufacturing…

North Gujarat farmers protest against "failure" of govt to provide Narmada canal water

Farmer representatives of from several villages gathered on Monday at village Bhramanvada, Chanasma taluka in Patan district, North Gujarat, to protest against the refusal of the Gujarat government to provide them Narmada water from the canal passing through the region. Belonging to 24 villages of Chanasma taluka they have been petitioning the government and local authorities for irrigation water from the Narmada canal for quite some time.
“The area falls within the Narmada command area and they are entitled to the water”, said Sagar Rabari, president, Gujarat Khedut Ekta Manch, a non-political farmers’ organization. “They had issued an ultimatum to the government on Saturday saying that if the water was not provided to their fields, they would draw water on their own. The government, characteristically, remained deaf and mute.”
Amidst heavy police presence, the farmers set off for the Khorsam pumping station to lift the water themselves. However, the police stopped them. Farmers …

Cancellation of Lok Rakshak exam in Gujarat: BJP "playing" with future of 9 lakh students

Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil has alleged that in the name of recruitment in government jobs, the BJP government in Gujarat is "playing with the future of lakhs of youth." Pointing out that the Lok Rakshaks in the police are proposed would be given a fixed pay, and it is not a permanent post, Gohil said, as many as nine lakh young people of Gujarat had made preparations for many days for the examination for the post of Lok Rakshak.
However, on Sunday, suddenly, after students from far away places such as Banaskantha district reached Bhavnagar to give Lok Rakshak examination, the government announced that it had been canceled because the paper had been leaked and was being sold for a hefty sum.
The BJP's corrupt government in Gujarat is compromising the lives of the youth, Gohil said,adding, the students had come to appear in examination after travelling 300 kilometers. Most of them belonging to ordinary families had to spend Rs 2000 each to reach Bhavnagar to…

GIFT city: Gujarat govt move to bail out IL&FS "anti-constitutional", says ex-BJP CM

Former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, in a letter to Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, has said that the state government is trying to bail out IL&FS, which has become "heavily debt ridden" as a result of its involvement in the state-sponsored Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT).
Referring to media reports which said that the state government has given "in principle" clearance to buy up IL&FS' 50% stakes in GIFT (in which the state owns 51% of stakes, while the rest are owned by IL&FS), Mehta said, "The decision to have the GIFT project was suspicious right from the very beginning." Insisting that the state government cannot spend people's hard-earned money to bail out a private company like this, Mehta insisted, it is "anti-constitutional" for the state government to go ahead with the deal without Gujarat state assembly's nod. Earlier this week, Rupani had announced, Gujarat would buy out the 50% stakes of the bele…

International water meet in Anand on innovative experiments to double farmers' incomes

An International Conference on “Building Climate Resilience for Doubling Farmers’ Income” is being organized at the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Anand from December 4 to 6 with the participation of about 250 scientists, experts, researchers, development professionals and policy makers from India and around the world.
The 9th International Water Management Institute (IWMI)-Tata Program Partners’ meet will see presentation of over 100 new pieces of research in 15 thematic sessions. The meet will include a field visit to Dhundi solar farmers’ co-operative, an innovative experiment implemented by the IWMI-Tata Program. The experiment was followed by NDDB and IWMI-Tata creating a similar co-operative at Mujkuva village near Anand.
“These models have inspired the Government of Gujarat’s Rs 900 crore Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY) pilot scheme and Government of India’s Rs 45,000 crore KUSUM (Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan) scheme”, an IWMI communiqué said, adding,…