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Showing posts from June, 2019

Under attack from Govt of India, Greenpeace praises Gujarat solar 'model'

By Rajiv Shah
In a surprise move, a new report by Greenpeace India, the environmental NGO whose Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) license was controversially cancelled in December 2016, followed by an Enforcement Directorate (ED) freezing its bank accounts in October 2018, has showered praise on a scheme to solarize agriculture launched in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, Gujarat.
It is well known that the crackdown resulted in the top NGO deciding to “scale back” its operations and staff in the India by nearly 50%.
Analyzing solar irrigation in five states – Bihar, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha – a new report by Greenpeace India says, the Gujarat government scheme, Suryashakti Kisan Yojana (SKY), launched in June 2018, “not only ensures assured access to irrigation and electricity, it also provides the farmer with the dual economic benefit of selling surplus electricity to the power distribution company or DISCOM and selling water to farmers.”
Assert…

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.
Pointing out that the rhetoric of anti-reservationism is not the only of form of casteism found on FB, the study,  carried out by Equality Labs, a South Asian American human rights and technology start-up, says, "Additional casteist posts included caste-based slurs, derogatory references to caste-based occupations such as manual scavenging, anti-Ambedkar posts (such as photoshopping Ambedkar’s face onto memes as an echo of real-world vandalism), and anti-inter-caste love unions posts."
While casteist posts are found to be…

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.
Thus, among its neighbours, India ranks worse than Bhutan (15), Sri Lanka (72), Nepal (76), Bangladesh (101) and China (110). The only consolation is, India's 141st rank is better than Pakistan's, 153rd. Afghanistan ranks worst than all the countries, 163rd.
With offices in several top world cities -- New York, Brussels, The Hague, Mexico City, and Harare -- IEP's rankings, now in the 13th year, are claimed to be a "leading measure of global peacefulness". The report presents data-driven analysis on peace, its economic value, trends, and how to develop peaceful societi…

Congress' developmental plank, NYAY, 'failed to reach' vulnerable voters: Survey

By Rajiv Shah
A recent study of how social media users and non-users behaved during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has sought to suggests that the Congress’ main development plank, NYAY (Nyunatam Aay Yojana) scheme, promising a minimum income to poor households, announced allegedly to “wrest the post-Balakot momentum back from the BJP”, failed to achieve the desired goal, particularly among those for whom the proposed scheme was targeted.
No doubt, thanks to a strong penetration of social media, says the study, Congress’ effort to “create a counter narrative by bringing the focus of the elections back to economic issues” through NYAY succeeded to some extent, with the party managing to “communicate about the scheme to about three-fourths of the users having high/moderate exposure to social media”. However, it adds, “It failed to reach out to half of the nonusers of social media platforms.”
According to the study, “Congress perhaps relied more on social media but could never actually commu…

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.
Though not calculating the years that followed, he writes in a new paper, “there were also substantial upward revisions to estimates” later despite the adverse impact of two major policy actions of the Modi government – demonetization and GST – Subramanian, former chief economic adviser (CEA), Modi government, says.
Thus, in 2017 and 2018, Index of Industrial Production (IIP) manufacturing growth registered positive growth of 3.3 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, and this became part of the GDP calculation, what …

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honoraryCanadian citizenship

By Rajiv Shah
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.
An IT expert, Shah said, the answer that he has received has put in question the top actor’s claim of honorary citizenship. Akshay Kumar must now come clean on what kind of Canadian citizenship he has, as to get the citizenship, one must continuously stay in Canada for about three years after getting permanent residency. The actor, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may have bought the citizenship, as he has been living in India for the last seven years, added Shah.
Those who have been granted hono…

Modi assured Trump last year India would reduce tariffs on US goods 'substantially'

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the United States declared it was withdrawing its “preferential trade status” accorded to India, facts suggest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “assured” US president Donald Trump last year he would work on going soft on “very high tariffs” imposed on American products coming to India. Addressing a White House media conference on October 1, 2018, Trump had said, I had “spoken to Prime Minister Modi, and he is going to reduce them (tariffs) quite substantially.”
Talking to media, Trump – who announced a new trade deal with neighbouring Mexico and Canada, which abrogated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the two countries as it allegedly was against US interests leading a loss of billions of dollars – had identified India as one of the countries with whom a new trade deal was under negotiation.
Calling India “tariff king” imposing up to 100 per cent duty on certain goods imported from the US, and expecting a positive response from India, Trump,…