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Showing posts from April, 2019

India's 99 river water projects completed? Modi "misled" nation, Parliament in Feb

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Wondering whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi misled Parliament and the nation on February 7, 2019, well-known environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that in his reply to the debate on President of India’s address to the joint session of Parliament, the PM said India has done the work of "completing" 99 river water projects through expenditure of thousands of crores of rupees.

Pointing out that Modi mentions the figure 99 in that 28 second interval at least four times, Thakkar says, “Interestingly, the PM claims completion of these 99 projects was a means of empowerment of the farmers.” Calling it “highly questionable”, Thakkar insists, “As the farmers feel totally slave to the operators of the irrigation projects, in whose decision making, implementation or operation, farmers have no role.”
“And yet”, according to Thakkar, BJP’s manifesto, published with PM’s letter dated April 8, 2019, contradicts him whe…

India fourth largest spender on military, defence expenditure rose by 29% since 2009: SIPRI

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A new report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says that the five biggest spenders on military in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 per cent of global military spending. It adds, at $66.5 billion, India was the fourth-largest spender in 2018.
The report says, adding, “Military spending in Asia and Oceania was $507 billion in 2018 and accounted for 28 per cent of global military spending. Five of the top 15 global spenders in 2018 are in this region: China (rank 2), India (rank 4), Japan (rank 9), South Korea (rank 10) and Australia (rank 13).”
Pointing out that “India’s military spending rose in 2018 for the fifth consecutive year, and was 3.1 per cent higher than in 2017”, the report says, “At $66.5 billion, India’s spending was 29 per cent higher than in 2009.”
“Despite this rise”, the report says, “India’s military burden in 2018 was at one of its lowest levels since the early 1960s: 2.4 per c…

Gujarat CM queried: Where has 24.81 acre feet of water disappeared from Narmada dam?

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Releasing month-wise data provided by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), well-known Gujarat farmers’ rights leader Sagar Rabari, in a letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani has said that, citing low rainfall, the state government has stopped providing irrigation water starting with February 15, even though there has been enough water in the Narmada dam’s reservoir.
The letter says, as of today, out of 90 lakh acre feet of water from Narmada, Gujarat has received 63.38 lakh acre feet of water. Further, the level of water in the reservoir is constantly going up, reaching 119.50 meters, as the inflow from Madhya Pradesh is continuing. On the other hand, as against 17.92 lakh hectares (ha) of the Narmada command area, only 6.40 lakh hectares, which is just about a third of the command area, is being irrigated.
Rabari continues, of the 90 lakh acre feet of water, if we set aside 10 lakh acre feet for drinking water and industry, we are entitled to get 80 lakh acre feet for irrigating 17.…

137 workers died at Gujarat construction sites in 2018: RTI reply

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Right to Information (RTI) replies to the Bandhkam Mazdoor Sangathan (BMS) has revealed that, in 2018, as many as 144 construction work-related accidents took place in Gujarat. Obtained by filling RTI pleas to police stations across the state, the replies show that 137 workers died in these accidents last year.
In statement issued on the occasion of the World Workers' Memorial Day, which falls on April 28, BMS leader Vipul Pandya said, as many as 990 construction workers in Gujarat lost their lives over the last 11 years. Most of accidents took place in top Gujarat metros, Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, mainly involving migrant workers from Dahod and Panchmahal districts, he added.
Pandya further said that for the safety and health of the construction workers, the Government of India has enacted the Building and Other Construction Works (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996, and the state government formulated rules for the Act in 2003.
About Rs 2,200 c…

PepsiCo tells Gujarat potato farmers: Enter into purchase agreement, or don't use "registered" variety

The legal suits initiated by PepsiCo India Holdings against four farmers of North Gujarat has been scheduled for hearing on June 12, 2019. This follows a hearing on Friday in the Commercial Court in Ahmedabad, where senior advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik filed his appearance and vakalatnama on behalf of the farmers in the four suits.   PepsiCo submitted to the Commercial Court that it wants to settle the dispute with the farmers. The plaintiff has been quoted as suggesting that either farmers give an undertaking that they shall not use registered variety or they should enter into an agreement with PepsiCo to purchase seeds from it and thereafter sell produce also to it on terms and conditions which PepsiCo has been offering to the farmers of Gujarat.  To the suggestion of settlement, Yagnik submitted to the court that a proposal be put to farmers and a reply would be sent to PepsiCo based on what the farmers want to do.

Modi's statement on N-weapon button mindless, disturbing: CNDP

The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) has said that it is with "shock and dismay" that one takes note of the Indian Prime Minister's "public nuclear sabre-rattling" on April 21, 2019 in Barmer in Rajasthan, when he "mindlessly and sarcastically" declared that India’s nuclear weapons were not for celebrating ‘Diwali’.
Signd by Anil Chaudhury, ND Jayprakash, Sukla Sen, Lalita Ramdas and Achin Vanaik, a CNDP statement said, "To speak so casually about the possible use of nuclear weapons and that too for the purposes of winning votes through arousal of hatred and by promoting an ugly, masculinist militarism, is deeply disturbing."
It added, "The very least that is demanded from nuclear armed governments is that their leaders should display some sense of responsibility and sobriety in what they say and do. That Prime Minister Modi has disregarded all this only goes to reinforce the view that South Asia is potentially the mos…

Sadhvi Pragya's statement on Karkare unfortunate, despicable: Ex-DGPs

Seven ex-DGPs -- Julio Ribeiro,Prakash Singh, PKH Tharakan, Kamal Kumar, Jacob Punoose, Sanjeev Dayal, Jayanto N. Choudhury, and N Ramachandran -- have in a statement said that the remarks of Sadhvi Pragya, a contestant from the Bhopal constituency, on late Hemant Karkare, Indian Police Service, Chief of ATS, Mumbai Police, are "unfortunate", and though she has retracted, the fact is "Karkare fell to terrorist bullets on 26/11 in the line of duty while defending his country."
Ex-DGPs say, Karkare "would probably be alive today had he not volunteered to return to the Maharashtra cadre from a plum posting at the Centre with the specific intention of working with the Anti-Terror Squad to prevent and investigate the activities of terrorists so that the rest of us could sleep safe in our beds. The country owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Anything that detracts from this is worthy of strong condemnation."
The statement continues, "This despicable and r…

Hold credible inquiry into sexual harassment complaint against CJI: Civil rights leaders

Thirty civil rights leaders have expressed “extremely concern” following the complaint of sexual harassment and victimisation made by a woman employee of the Supreme Court against the Chief Justice of India. “The charges are prima facie serious enough to warrant an independent inquiry by a high level independent committee”, they have said in a statement.
Those who have signed the statement include Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Bezwada Wilson, Yogendra Yadav, Harsh Mander, Syeda Hameed, P Sainath, Anjali Bhardwaj, Aakar Patel, Shabnam Hashmi, Amitabh Behar, Maj Gen SG Vombatkere, Kavita Srivastava, and Meera Sanghamitra.
The statement says, “The complaint has alleged arbitrary actions taken against the complainant, resulting in unprecedented victimisation that she and her family have been put through and continue to suffer after she rejected the alleged sexual advances, including the unjust termination of the services of the complainant, the suspension from service of her …

On fast for six months, Atmabodhanand warns: Will up water for clean Ganga if govt doesn't listen

An open warning young saint Atmabodhand, on fast in Haridwar for ensuring clean Ganga for the last about six months, has said that he would give up even water if by March 25 the Government of India does not concede to his demands. Bringing this to light, Matu Jansangathan, an Uttarakhand-based civil rights organization, has regretted, quoting the saint, that no representative of the government has come to talk to him so far.
In a statement, Matu Jansangathan said, the government “has neglected his demands for the past six months”, it is “not talking to him nor is replying to him in writing”, adding, “In a democracy this is a shameful act seeking to circumvent constitutional and moral force of non-violent movements.”
Recalling that on October 11, 2018, Swami Sanand wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he died in a government hospital in Rishikesh, the civil rights body said, Modi never cared to send a reply. “The government has not taken any concrete positive steps on…

Bangladesh's anti-terrorism "policy" leads to forced disappeance of 500 people: Paris report

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The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in a new report on "enforced disappearances in Bangladesh" has said that country's government has used these "to silence members of the political opposition and dissenting voices." The report is based on 30 interviews with victims of enforced disappearances that occurred between 2012 and 2018, their family members, eyewitnesses, and information from other civil society organisations.
According to the report, “Vanished Without a Trace: The Enforced Disappearance of Opposition and Dissent in Bangladesh,” state actors, including military and police, "worked in tandem to make people disappear. Some returned home, alive but silenced. Some were found dead, supposedly killed in crossfire. Others never came back."
The report believe, "There is a clear pattern of Bangladeshi authorities using enforced disappearances to silence political dissidents, especially since 2011." Documenting…

NGO releases videos showing workers entering into gutter in Ahmedabad without safety equipment

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A Gujarat-based grassroots organization, Manav Garima Trust (MGT), has taken strong exception to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) failing to implement the law prohibiting manual scavenging, saying, AMC has continued to use workers to clean up underground gutters without providing any safety equipment.
Releasing two videos and several photographs taken between January and April 2019, MGT director Parsottam Vaghela said, this is a mockery of Swacch Bharat Mission and the Supreme Court judgment of 2014, adding, these workers, employed by contractors hired by AMC, are sought to forced descend into gutter lines in the middle of night, though the law prohibits this after 6 pm.
One of the videos shows a worker entering into a sewerage line at 1.00 am in Bapunagar in February (on the top), and another one is of Vejalpur (the second one) taken a fortnight ago this month. Vaghela says, despite the death of two gutter workers in Bawla in Ahmedabad district, AMC has not woken up, add…

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh praises NYAY for its "Keynesian effect"

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“Endorsing” NYAY – Nyuntam Aay Yojana – announced by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called it “a powerful idea with dual objectives – to wipe out the last remnants of poverty and to restart stalled economic activity in our nation.” Under NYAY, the poorest 20% of Indian families will be given an annual income support of a uniform amount of ₹72000 for each family.
Singh in a statement said, “By providing direct income support, NYAY will empower our poor with economic freedom and choice” and it will “usher in an era of a minimum income guarantee and help create a new social contract for a new welfare state.” He added, “NYAY will also help restart our economic engine that has come to a stop today.”
According to Singh, who is known as a keen supporter of free market economics, “Money in the hands of the needy will stimulate demand in the economy which can then lead to increased economic activity and job creation, referred to as the Keynesian effe…

Amit Shah earns just Rs 56 lakh annually, owns Rs 40 crore assets, faces four serious charges: Affidavit

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BJP's  high-profile candidate from Gandhinagar, Amit Shah, who also happens to be the party's national president, has claimed that his annual income is just about Rs 56 lakh, and his main sources of income are agriculture, rent and share market. Shah has also declared that he owns 40.32 crore of assets -- 23.55 crore movable and Rs 16.77 crore immovable.
In his self-declared affidavit, Shah has also said that he faces four serious cases, related to "mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc." (IPC Section-436); "promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony" (IPC Section-153A); "imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration" (IPC Section-153B); and "criminal intimidation" (IPC Section-506).
Releasing these figures, advocacy groups Gujarat Election Watch and Association of …

Pragya Thakur's outlook is in "sync" with Modi's: Swami Agnivesh

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Well-known saint-activist Swami Agnivesh has said in a statement that BJP Bhopal candidate, Pragya Thakur, has "maligned" the cherished memory of Hemant Karkare, the martyr in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, adding, it "deserves to be condemned by all Indians, irrespective of party affiliations."
He said, "To claim that it was her curse that led to the untimely death of a brave police officer, who laid down his life in the line of duty, and for which he had been given highest civilian award (Ashok Chakra) in 2009" proves that "the lady may have the vestments of a sadhvi, but is wholly devoid of any spiritual sensitivity."
According to Agnivesh, "BJP did not choose Pragya for her spiritual finesse or political maturity, both of which lacks utterly. She has been chosen because of her ability to communalise the election. "Commenting on BJP seeking to "tactically distance" itself from Pragya’s statement, he added, "It cannot…

In 3rd phase, 27% BJP, 24% Congress Lok Sabha candidates declare criminal cases on themselves

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An analysis by the National Election Watch (NEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) of the self-sworn affidavits of candidates fighting Lok Sabha elections in the third phase (April 23) suggests, among the major political parties, and 40 (44%) out of 90 candidates from Congress, 38 (39%) out of 97 candidates from BJP have declared criminal cases against themselves.
As for serious criminal cases, 26 (27%) out of 97 candidates from BJP and 24 (27%) out of 90 candidates from Congress have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
In all, 1,594 candidates' affidavits analysed by NEW and ADR suggests that 340 or 21% candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, and 230 or 14% have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
Further, 14 candidates have declared convicted cases against themselves, 13 candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section -302) against themselves, and 30 candidates have declared cases related to atte…

Sir Syed's contribution recalled at Jamia Urdu's 80th Foundation Day

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Speaking on the 80th Foundation Day of Jamia Urdu, Aligarh, several Urdu enthusiasts, includind MM Ansari, former member, Universities Grants Commission (UGC), Firoz Bakht Ahmed, chairman, Academic Council, Jamia Urdu, and Dr Jasim Mohammed, director, Jamia Urdu, suggested how Urdu became the language of composite culture, paving the way for communal amity among communities.
While Kuldeep Agarwal, former director, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), stated that that the purpose of all the Indian and international languages is to achieve the spirit of fraternal ambiance and ecumenism, Musaid Kidwai, an academic, said that Jamia Urdu’s research wing’s purpose was to define the problem sectors in the field of Urdu language not only within the country but also internationally as well.
A coffee table book, “A Journey of Urdu” was released along with a compilation of Sir Syed’s writings, “Mazamin-e-Sir Syed”, authored by Farhat Ali Khan. Attended by students from different cour…

Book on seven interconnected "political" murders, including Haren Pandya, Justice Loya, released

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A controversial new book in Hindi, ‘Satta ki Suli’, with an account on CBI judge BH Loya’s death case, released in Ahmedabad, has sought to cover not only the alleged murder of the judge but also a series of seven other "political murders".
The book, authored by Mahendra Mishra, Pradeep Singh and Upendra Chowdhary, starts with the murder of ex-Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya and gangster Sohrabuddin and his wife Kasuar Bi, witness Tusliram Prajapti, followed by that of judge Loya and two others, advocate Shrikant Khandalkar and retired judge Prakash Thrombay.
Earlier released in Delhi, speaking during a similar ceremony in Ahmedabad, Mishra, who is editor of the web portal "Jan Chowk", said that it was remarkable, the book was being released at a time when freedom of expression was under threat. Criticising "Caravan", the e-magazine which first broke Loya's death, Mishra said, it failed to continue with required follow-ups as it was brought unde…

Future MPs being told to take a pledge to ensure sufficient budget for rape free India

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As part of the Rape Free India Campaign, the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF), in alliance with the Shala Mitra Sangh, a civil society group of Gujarat, released a draft pledge for the would-be elected representatives of the Lok Sabha polls, asking them to swear for ushering in a rape-free India.
The pledge would seek to make future Members of Parliament to take up two major issues in the Lok Sabha: That they would ensure a budgeted action plan to make India rape free; and that 10% of resources in union budget should be allotted towards making the country safe for women and children.
Releasing the pledge, KSCF said in a statement it is a matter of "grave concern" that issues relating to safety of women and children are not being raised during the polls, even though, as per the National Crime Research Bureau data, one child is sexually abused every 15 minutes in our country, 106 rapes take place every day, and between 2015 and 2016, crime against children …

Study documents 34 smart city projects forcibly displacing 17,700 people last year

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A just-released study, "Forced Evictions in India in 2018: An Unabating National Crisis", prepared by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), New Delhi, has said, it has documented forced evictions in 34 of the 100 ‘smart cities’ being developed across the country." The study, which documents evictions across India because of different types of development projects, says says, smart cities alone displaced 17,700 people.
Among the glaring examples it cites include the Tamil Nadu government demolishing about 1,700 homes (of over 4,200 identifed houses) for a ‘smart city’ project related to restoration of water bodies in Coimbatore, and in Thanjavur, where over 130 homes were demolished for a ‘smart city’ project to renovate a moat.
Then, HLRN says, un Nagpur, Maharashtra, 12 homes were destroyed for the Pardi Flyover, as part of the ‘smart city’ development work. In Machhi Bazaar, Indore, 455 families lost housing as a result of a road-widening ‘smart city’ project.…

Release Haragopal, others, arrested for demanding release of top poet: AIFRTE

The All-India Forum for Right to Education ( AIFRTE), in a statement, has condemned the arrest of Prof G Haragopal, member of AIFRTE Presidium, Prof Katyayani and Venugopal, along with many others in Hyderabad by the Telangana police, while they were in an indoor meeting demanding the release of poet Varavara Rao and other intellectuals arrested recently.
Claiming that Rao and others were arrested on "totally false and trumped up charges", AIFRTE said, the new round of arrests" is most condemnale and represents a new low in the current political situation in India today."
AIFRTE in a statement said, "Not only are innocent persons incarcerated without proper cause or evidence, but even those who protest such insupportable confinement are now being treated like criminals in an attempt to stifle all democratic protests."
It added, "Evidently, the Telangana police went to the extent of even blocking all the roads leading to the meeting hall so that the i…

43% Congress, 32% BJP Lok Sabha candidates declare criminal cases against themselves

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The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) has found that, among the major parties, 16 (31%) out of 51 candidates from BJP, 23 (43%) out of 53 candidates from Congress, 16 (20%) out of 80 candidates from BSP, 3 (14%) out of 22 candidates analysed from AIADMK, and 11 (46%) out of 24 candidates from DMK have declared criminal cases against themselves.
Analysing individual affidavits filed by candidates fighting Lok Sabha elections in the second phase (April 18), ADR has further found that, among the major parties, 10 (20%) out of 51 candidates from BJP, 17 (32%) out of 53 candidates from INC, 10 (13%) out of 80 candidates from BSP, 3 (14%) out of 22 candidates analysed from AIADMK, and 7 (29%) out of 24 candidates from DMK have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
In all, ADR, in alliance with National Election Watch, has analysed the self-sworn affidavits of 1590 out of 1644 candidates, who are contesting in the Lok Sabha Phase II. As many as 54 candidates have not bee…

Shutting Srinagar-Jammu highway is "eerily" similar to Israeli policy in Gaza: NAPM

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The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded revocation of the Government of India’s bi-weekly ban on civil traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, calling it an “unfair, undemocratic and draconian step, which goes against the Indian Constitution.” In a statement, it says, “This is yet another in a series of unacceptable measures taken by the Narendra Modi government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the most recent being the closing of a number of link roads to the same highway.”
NAPM continues, “This step amounts to physically trapping an entire population and rendering them immobile”, adding, “Such a step was not taken even during the violence of the 1990s. It is eerily similar to the Israeli policy in Gaza, and reaffirms the suspicion that this government is ideologically attracted to the shameful policies of Israel with regard to Palestine.”
 NAPM in a statement says, the move is “clearly an assault on J&K's economy”, as the highwa…

241 scientists appeal to citizens to vote against inequality, intimidation, discrimination

As many a as 241 scientists in an appeal to citizens have said that they should “vote wisely, weighing arguments and evidence critically”, taking into account “our constitutional commitment to scientific temper”, and “against inequality, intimidation, discrimination and unreason.”
Calling the upcoming election “crucial”, they say, it asks for “a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us: equal rights to faith or lack thereof; culture; language; association; personal liberty and freedom of expression. These rights, even as they accrue to each of us individually, can only exist if they accrue to all Indian citizens — without partiality or discrimination.”
“To defend these rights”, they say in their appeal, “We must reject those who lynch or assault people, those who discriminate against people because of religion, caste, gender, language or region.” They add, “We must reject those who encourage such practices”, insisting, “We cannot endorse a politics …

Saurashtra topcop "threatens" Dalit builder his mustache would be forcibly plucked

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Atul Chavda, an Amreli-based Dalit builder from Saurashtra, has complained to the director-general of police, Gujarat, that a senior police official of Amreli, an ASP, has used "derogatory words" against him on April 8 in front of the Circuit House, saying, "Police have to be very alert with Dalits having mustaches. I know pretty well how to pull out your mustaches."
The ASP is further quoted as objecting the Dalit builder having a golden chain around his neck, a golden bracelet on his hand and golden rings on his fingers, telling him, "Bring the bill of the jewellery you have put on, and take away your bike standing here." He allegedly said this after he was told that he was a Dalit on inquiring whether he belonged to the Rajput darbar community.
The whole episode at the Circuit House took place, the complaint to the DGP said, after the Dalit builder went to the spot to pick up his motorbike, which he had left there for a while, as he had to go to a s…

Dalit activist detained in Junagadh, as Modi arrives in city for poll campaign

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Bharata Parmar, a Saurashtra-based Dalit rights leader close to well-known Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who is an independent MLA, has been detained ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi arriving in Junagadh to address an election rally. Bringing this to light, Mevani has claimed, Parmar has been detained because he has been highlighting half-dozen local issues agitating the people.
The issues include investigation into Rs 50-crore scam involving Bantwa Khara dam in Manavadar taluka of Junagadh district, failure to pay Rs 5.99 crore to four villages adjacent to Bantwa, which were submerged, despite a 2015 court order, and refusal to make public the official report in the massacre of four youth seven years ago.

Educated unemployment 25% in India: Academic tells TU seminar in Indore

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A recent seminar in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on 'Employment and Labour Rights' has charged the Government of India of playing in the hands of foreign capitalists. Insisting that this has led to snatching away of crucial jobs, participants in the seminar said, this is the direct result of lack of socialist thinking in economic policies.
Among those who participated in the seminar included Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, former advocate general Anand Mohan Mathur, national vice-president of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha Harbhjan Singh Sidhu, senior trade union and farmers' leaders and academics. Participants included Century Mills workers strugging for their rights.
Mathur said policies of globalization have helped domestic and foreign capitalists to exert great deal of influence on the employment situation, even as regretting lack of socialist thinking in economic policies in the country. Siddhu, on the other hand, insisted on the need to intensify the struggle for wlrk…

GDP growth is not the true indicator people's well being: Gujarat activists release manifesto

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Fifty-odd Gujarat-based academics and social activists, many of them well-known Sarvodayists who had played a major role in the fight against Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency, have released a people's manifesto at a gathering in Gujarat Vidypeeth, the university founded by Mahatma Gandhi, declaring that even seven decades after India became independence, people haven't tasted freedom in true sense.
Prepared under the directions of top academics Prof Ghanshyam Shah and Prof Rohit Shukla, and veteran social activists Prakash N Shah and Indukumar Jani, the manifesto, running into 72 pages of incisive analysis on issues that directly affect the marginalised sections of society, including education, health, environment, Dalits, tribals, minorities, farmers, working classes, women and children, the manifesto insists, GDP growth is not the true indicator people's well being.
Pointing towards rise in inequalities, the manifesto wants those who will take over reins of power after…

Human rights site says it's "outrageous" for Fadnavis to compare Congress manifesto with JeM

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Sabrang India, a civil society site run by one India’s most prominent human rights activists, Teesta Setalvad, has said it is “outrageous” for the Maharashtra chief minister to Congress Manifesto to that of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). While addressing the crowd at the election rally of Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur, Devendra Fadnavis attacked the Congress party's manifesto in an outrageous language and asked if it belonged to the Congress or JeM.
According to the site, “Fadnavis seems to have taken special umbrage at Congress’s poll promises of removing the army from Jammu and Kashmir, repealing the AFSPA and section 124A of IPC on sedition and claimed that these will create loopholes in our security system.”
The site in a short commentary insists, “These are long standing demands of rights organisations, especially from areas that have significant army presence and where the sweeping powers (including a license to kill) given to it by the AFSPA have wreaked havoc. Even the sedition law tha…

Congress' Nyay scheme a surgical strike on poverty: Influential British weekly The Economist

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Top British weekly "The Economist" has praised Congress' Nyay scheme, which seeks to provide an extra Rs 6,000 to poor households, quoting a woman health worker, Rajmati, in a village in Haryana as saying, “It will also mean that you can survive without a husband,” insisting, her "enthusiasm is shared by the other villagers gathered in her back room, where she provides health checks, postnatal care and immunisations."
Calling the scheme promised by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi if the party comes to power as a “surgical strike” on poverty, the influential weekly says, it only escalates the “alms race” between the national parties, which are competing to show their generosity to the poor by offering health care, debt forgiveness and cash.
The weekly adds, "After the ruling BJP lost three state elections in December, it rushed to alleviate rural disgruntlement, pledging to pay 6,000 rupees a year to farmers with less than two hectares (five acres) of land. By …

BJP manifesto follows Savarkar's two-nation theory, ignores minorities: MCC

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Sharply criticising the BJP manifesto, which it has sought to call Sankalp Patra (pledge document), the Gujarat-based civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), has said that it has totally ignored the minorities, who form about 20% of India's population. Worse, it said, it is a document that seeks to follow the sectarian ideology of Damodar Savarkar's theory of two nation theory.
By seeking to undermine Articles 14 to 30 and 37, 38, 46, 51 (a), 347 and 350 of the Constitution of India, MCC said in a statement signed by its convener Mujahid Nafees, the document aims at making minorities even more deprived and vulnerable. Terming it a communal document to weaken the country's composite culture, MCC added, it has failed to address basic issues of education, employment, and people's participation.

Withdraw false cases against Dalit, backward class and minority youth: Azamgadh civil society

Several civil society organizations in Azamgarh, UP, have come up with a joint election manifesto for the protection of the deprived sections of society, pointing out that their main issues concern fake encounters, National Security Act (NSA), terrorism and ensuring that Baba Saheb Ambedkar's statues and photographs are not desecrated.
A statement issued by Rihai Manch following the release of the manifesto said, under the Yogi government, young people of Dalit, backward class and Muslim communities were being shot and injured in false encounters. There is an effort to implicate youths under false charges. There is a conspiracy to keep them illegally in detention.
Naming those who were shot dead in false encounters in Azamgarh -- Mohan Pasi, Jai Hind Yadav, Mukesh Rajbhar, Ramji Pasi, Rakesh Pasi, and Chunnu Sonkar -- the communique said, those injurednwere not receiving proper medical treatment. The police refuses to part with FIR, medical reports and other important documents…

Top theatre professionals ask people to vote against bigotry, hate, apathy

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About 700 theatre artists from across India have appealed to vote out divisive politics from power. Issued in 12 languages (English, Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese, Telugu, Panjabi, Konkani and Urdu), the statement says, “Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat.”
Pointing out that institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated, the statement says, “To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals”, adding, “The ways in which this hatred has seeped into our daily fabric are alarming and it has to stop”.
The signatories include Amol Palekar, Anurag Kashyap, Dolly Thakore, Lillete Dubey, Naseeruddin Shah, Abhishek Majumdar, Anamika Haksar, Navtej Johar, MK Raina, Mahesh Dattani, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah and Sanjna …

Vote out hate politics, division of people, inequality, intimidation, censorship, appeal 180 writers

About 180 writers have in an appeal said that people should “vote against hate politics” and “for an equal and diverse India”. The appeal says, the upcoming election “finds our country at the crossroads”, and though our Constitution “guarantees all its citizens equal rights, the freedom to eat, pray and live as they choose, freedom of expression and the right to dissent.”
But it regrets, in the last few years, “we have seen citizens being lynched or assaulted or discriminated against because of their community, caste, gender, or the region they come from”, adding, “Hate politics has been used to divide the country; create fear; and exclude more and more people from living as full-fledged citizens.”
The signatories say, “Writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural practitioners have been hounded, intimidated, and censored. Anyone who questions the powers-that-be is in danger of being harassed or arrested on false and ridiculous charges.”
Insisting that “all of us wan…

Those who disagree politically not anti-national, are not enemies, but adversaries: Advani

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In a sharply-worded critique of those at the top leadership in the BJP, party stalwart LK Advani, who has been "disowned" by his junior colleagues, has said that the party's conception of Indian nationalism "never regarded those who disagree ... politically as anti-national”. The comment comes amidst efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to paint the opposition, especially the Congress, during the current Lok Sabha poll campaign as anti-national.
In a blog he released ahead of the BJP's foundation day, April 6, Advani insists, "The party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level." He adds, "The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression. Right from its inception, the BJP has never regarded those who disagree with us politically as our enemies, but only as our adversaries."
Advani says, "The guiding principle of my life …

US Supreme Court ruling on World Bank "unlikely" to help Kutch fisherfolk: ICIJ

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A US Supreme Court majority ruling may have stripped the World Bank of absolute immunity enjoyed by the top lending institute, overturning a 74-year-old presumption that international financial institutions could not be sued when their development projects hurt local communities.
However, reports International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), even as the US Supreme Court struck down the World Bank’s claims of blanket immunity, it did not resolve significant legal issues that will determine the outcome of the case being fought in a lower US court regarding the future of Kutch's "minority fishing community", adversely affected by the Tata Mundra Power plant in Gujarat.
The case concerns impact on the livelihood of Waghers, who had fished from makeshift settlements on the coastline of the Gulf of Kutch for about 200 years. The Tata Group received a loan from the World Bank’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to build a ma…

Human rights violations: Jharkhand election official refuses to meet civil society delegation

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A delegation of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, along with representatives of the Adivasi Adhikar Manch and Khunti villages, which went to meet the Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to discuss the severe repression and widespread violations of human rights by local administration and security forces in villages of Khunti that saw Pathalgadi in the last few years, was allegedly refused appointment as the election official.
A civil'society communique said, the CEO's office had given the delegation an appointment for 3 pm but the CEO made the team wait for almost 3 hours. He was not in office for a long time and when he did come back, he made people wait for more time. He saw the delegation waiting outside. And finally the delegation submitted the memorandum in his office and left without meeting him.
The delegation consisted of Bharat Bhushan Choudhary, Stan Swamy, Ashok Verma, Kalyan Nag, among others.
The delegation said in the memorandum that attempts were being made by …