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Showing posts from June, 2019

Nitish Kumar's office refuses to accept 3,800 farmers' plea for rehabilitation

In a letter to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, top National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) activists led by Medha Patkar have regretted that an official from his department refused to take the plea of 3800 applicant-farmers, who are affected by frequent flooding of the Kosi river.

Tarbez Ansari murder: US freedom of religion body seeks concrete action from authorities

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) chair Tony Perkins, responding to the "reported murder" of Tabrez Ansari by a mob in Jharkhand, has called upon the Government of India to take "concrete actions that will prevent this kind of violence and intimidation by a thorough investigation of Ansari’s murder as well as the local police’s handling of the case."
Insiting that "lack of accountability will only encourage those who believe they can target religious minorities with impunity", the top USCIRF official recalled that the perpetrators of the brutal murder "forced Ansari to say Hindu chants as they beat him for hours. Ansari later died from the injuries he suffered due to this horrific attack."
USCIRF said, the statement comes close on the heels of its recent Annual Report, released in April, criticising https://www.uscirf.gov/reports-briefs/annual-report/2019-annual-report India "for engaging in or toleratin…

Fresh 'onslaught' on Bengali migrants: Another 1 lakh declared foreigners in Assam

A whopping additional 1,02,462 people have been excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), released on June 26. Explaining the exclusion, the NRC authority said, “The persons whose names appear in the Additional Draft Exclusion list are those persons whose names were included in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018, but have been subsequently found ineligible."

Gujarat govt wants to fill up Sardar Sarovar dam to supply water to 481 companies: NBA

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has said that the statement given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament on Sardar Sarovar dam is “false”, pointing out, though the Sardar Sarovar Dam was meant to provide drinking and irrigation water to farmers, especially in the dry areas of Kutch, Saurashtra and Rajasthan, this is not happening.

Draft Education Policy 'undermines' RTE, will 'close down' schools meant for poor

An Ahmedabad discussion on the New Education Policy (NEP), the draft of which recently released by the Government of India, reached the drastic conclusion that, if implemented, it will “reduce” the number of schools in villages and towns, directly impact minorities, Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections.
Asserting that it seeks to hand over eduction to capitalists, participants in the discussion – who included representatives from the Right to Education (RTE) Forum Gujarat, Students’ Federation of India (SFI), and Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) – the discussion ended with burning of copies of the draft NEP.  MCC convener Mujahid Nafees, who also represented the RTE Forum, said that the government has failed to implement the RTE Act, and the draft NEP talk of doubling the budgetary allocation for education is an “eyewash.”
Pointing towards the draft mentioning the need to relax RTE norms in private schools, Nafees said, the overall quality of education cannot be imp…

Officers not supporting Sanjiv Bhatt working for extremist political regime: Shweta Bhatt

In an open Facebook post addressed to police officials, Shweta Bhatt, wife of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a three decades old alleged custodial death by the Jamnagar sessions court, has warned that what has happened to her husband today may happen to them tomorrow.

National consultation on danger of eviction of lakhs of forest dwellers after July 10

Several civil rights organizations have decided to hold a day-long consultation on forest rights movements and the way forward in New Delhi July 2, 2019 against the backdrop of the fear that lakhs of forest dwellers may again be on the verge of an “existential crisis” after July 10, the date till which the Supreme Court gave a reprieve on February 23 for its controversial February 13 order, directing state governments to evict them if their claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) have been rejected.

'Failure' to pay pension led to starvation death of two more persons in Jharkhand

Two more starvation deaths have occurred in Jharkhand recently, one in Jama (Dumka district) and one in Mahuadanr (Latehar district). In both cases, the victims were pensioners but did not receive any pension payment since January 2019. Had pensions been paid on time, Motka Manjhi and Ramachandra Munda would perhaps be alive today, says a fact-finding report by the Right to Food Campaign (RFC), Jharkhand.

80% applicants for pre-matric scholarship approved in 2018-19: Hyderabad NGO

The Confederation of Voluntary Association (COVA) a Hyderabad-bases NGO, has claimed major success in the sanction of pre-matric scholarships for the year 2018-19, pointing out, of the 3,557 students from 32 schools assisted by COVA that applied, 2,828 applications were approved (80.25% success).
"Together they received Rs 1,20,45,161 from the government as scholarships at an average of Rs 4,259 per student. COVA had spent a total of Rs 2,28,652 received as donations for this programme", COVA director Mazhar Husain said in an email alert.
"The results detailed above show that for every rupee donated and used for the scholarships program!e, COVA was able to generate Rs. 52 as scholarships", he asserted. "For 2019-20 the scholarship programme of the government starts from July 1, 2019 and COVA plans to support 15,000 students to access Rs 4.5 crore", he added.

Encephalitis deaths: Civil rights activists protest against Bihar, Union govt "inaction"

Several social movements, community organisations, child rights and women groups and students protested at Bihar Bhawan in New Delhi on June 17 afternoon against the “inaction and incompetence” of the Bihar and Union governments, which allegedly led the death over of 100 children due to encephalitis in Muzaffarpur district.

Ensure Gujarat urban water bodies receive clean monsoon water: Chief Secretary told

Ahmedabad environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra director Mahesh Pandya, in a letter to Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh has sought the latter's urgent intervention to ensure that wastewater in gutters and storm water during monsoon don't get mixed up and flow into water bodies.
Pointing out that this would create major environmental issues, Pandya said, during the recent cyclonic conditions in some parts of Gujarat, this reportedly became a major menace, adding, one should take care this does not happen in major cities.
According to Pandya, the situation has deteriorated, especially with regard to ponds and lakes in big cities, because the effluent treatment plants are not working in accordance with their requisite standards.
Insisting they should be treating effluent discharged into gutters by observing Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) norms, he added, this would go a long way in keeping urban areas' water bodies clean.
At the same time, Pandya said, the authorities sh…

India's solar installation down by 49%, targets 30% lower than those set by govt

While India's solar installations in Q1 2019 may have "increased slightly" at 1,737 MW, 4% growth compared to 1,638 MW installed in Q4 2018, installations were down by 49% year-over-year (YoY) compared to 3,377 MW installed in Q1 2018, says Mercom Communications India is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Mercom Capital Group, a leading clean energy communications and consulting firm.

PUCL regrets: It failed to start national campaign against "menace of fascism"

Ravi Kiran Jain, national president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), even as coming down heavily on India’s opposition parties, saying they have “no will or capability to face the ugly situation which has emerged on unprecedented political victory of Narendra Modi”, has regretted, it too has failed start any campaigns against the "menace of fascism".
Even as insisting in a statement in the PUCL Bulletin (June 2019) that in the current scenario "the role of PUCL becomes extremely important”, he said, it failed to launch anti-BJP campaigns, as decided at its National Council meet in Allahabad in September 2015.
The three campaigners it was to launch starting with 2016 were a nationwide campaign for securing the dignity of the individual in practice, a campaign against great threat posed by the divisive and fascist politics of the RSS and BJP, and a meaningful and effective reform of the criminal justice system.
Pointing out that “unfortunately, PUCL has n…

As social media picks up, newspaper readers "decline" from 29 to 18% in 5 yrs: Report

A new report, “Social Media & Political Behaviour” by Lokniti – Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, has revealed that the rise of social media platforms in India in the recent past “has been accompanied by a steady decline of traditional media over the years”, including newspapers and TV.

Ensure 20% of budgetary allocation for education: Finance minister told

In a representation to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Right to Education (RTE) Forum national convener Ambarish Rai has said that the forthcoming Union budget must put into effect the draft New Education Policy 2019 view that 6% of GDP and 20% of the budget should be allocates as public investment in education.

Adani coalmining project: Aussie govt told to look into public concern on water resources

In what is being interpreted as fresh trouble for the Adanis in Australia, who are on way to set up USD 16 billion dollar coalming project in the Queensland state, a local court has asked the Federal Government to listen to public grievances on Adani’s North Galilee Water Scheme.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), which had filed a case the Federal Government has said that the latter has conceded public grievances on the Adani’s water scheme were ignored.
ACF said, "This is a massive outcome for the broader community, who raised grave concerns about the effect this project would have on Australia’s precious water resources", adding, "In conceding the case, the Federal Environment Minister has admitted the Federal Government failed to consider all of the thousands of valid public submissions about if and how Adani’s project should be assessed, in direct breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999."
According to ACF, "T…

Raid on Stan Swamy meant to intimidate tribal rights activists: PUCL

The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has said that the Maharashtra police conducted raid and search in the residence of well-known tribal rights activist 83-year-old Father Stan Swamy at Bagaicha Campus in Namkum, Ranchi, Jharkhand, "without obtaining judicial search warrant", seizing his computer’s hard disk, internet modem and other storage devices, and forcing him to give his gmail and Facebook passwords.
Pointing out that the objective of the raid on Thursday morning was "to intimidate, scare and frighten all others – rights activists, democratically minded groups and concerned citizens – from extending any type of support to Stan Swamy and others", PUCL said, "These activists have for some years now been opposing state terrorism let loose in Jharkhand by a corrupt mafia of corrupt police and government officials, greedy politicians and vested corporate interests who have been attempting to grab valuable forest lands of adivasis."
"…

Maharashtra cops "raid" 83-yr-old Jharkhand tribal rights leader's campus, residence

An eight-person Maharashtra police team has made a surprise raid on the Bagaicha campus in Namkum near Ranchi, the residence of 83-year old Stan Swamy, a well-known activist of Jharkhand. The police searched Stan Swamy’s belongings for about three-and-a half hours. It took Stan Swamy’s hard disk and internet modem and forced him to give his email and Facebook passwords.
Thereafter, according to a statement issued by the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), the cops changed his passwords and “seized” his accounts. The Maharashtra police earlier raided Stan Swamy’s residence last year as well on August 28, 2018.
Stan, who works for tribal rights in the state, especially on displacement, alleged corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, is a known critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act…

Vadodara ravines, wetlands being "systematically destroyed", yet nobody cares

Several prominent Vadodara citizens have in a letter to the city municipal commissioner expressed concern that ravines and wetlands in Gujarat's cultural capital "are being systematically destroyed and filled with debris and municipal solid waste in order to reclaim land for further 'development'."
According to them, "This will further augment the already existing waterlogging and flooding woes in various parts of the city", adding, "We have raised the issues with the concerned authorities, related to prevention anticipated disasters, flooding and water logging due to deliberate negligence". Yet, what they got was "lip service" regarding cleaning up the debris with all kinds of solid waste.
The letter follows a Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) communication to Gujarat government authorities directing them to take steps to protect "the ecology of the wetlands and ravines there through effective wa…

Democratic organizations should unite to demand protection for Puniyani: AIFRTE

Condemning threats to the life and liberty of noted academic and former Professor of IIT Mumbai, Dr Ram Puniyani, the All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) has said, his articles, lectures and books are an "important resource for all civil society groups and activists in the struggle for promoting rationalism and scientific temper and opposing the Hindutva forces and ideology that are communalizing India’s polity and social life, in blatant violation of the Constitution."
"The cowards, who failed to identify themselves, telephoned his home on the night of June 6, 2019. They used highly abusive language and accused him of being ‘anti-Hindu’," the statement said, adding, "Dr Puniyani was threatened with dire consequences if he did not stop his activities and leave the city within 15 days."
A member of the Advisory Board of the AIFRTE, Dr Puniyani has filed an FIR with the Powai police station in Mumbai and also written to the Police Commissioner. …

Murder of Aligarh girl being 'communalized' through social media: NAPM

In a letter to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, India’s civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said that there a deliberate attempt to communalize the murder of two-and-a half-year old girl six days ago by some goons in Aligarh, which “has shaken us all.”
Calling it as “one of the heinous crimes of humanity”, the NAPM statement says, “What is also unfortunate is that some right-wing groups are giving it a communal colour by spreading fake news. Despite Aligarh Police’s continuous campaign to counter the false news, some people are continuing to communalise the painful incident by spreading messages full of hatred through social media.”
“The attempt”, the statement underscores, “Is to generate anger against the Muslim community because the culprit happens to come from this community and the victim is a Hindu girl. We believe that apart from punishing the culprits for their crime, it is also the responsibility of the police to stop att…

India's gender equality index worse than Saudi Arabia: UK report

A new report by a UK-based organization, Equal Measures (EM) 2030, “Harnessing the Power of Data for Gender Equality: Introducing the 2019 EM2030 SDG Gender Index”, has said that India’s Gender Index ranking is 95th among 129 countries it has assessed in order to provide an international to each of the country. This is worse than Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Guatemala, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and  Ghana.
Among its neighbours, with a score of 56.2 on a scale of I00, India’s rank is better than that of Pakistan (rank 113 score 48.9), Bangladesh (rank 110, score 49.2), Nepal (rank 102, score 52.6), Myanmar (rank 98, score 54.1), but worse than Sri Lanka (rank 80, score 62.1), and China (rank 74, score 64.7).
The report states that “girls’ access to education” suggests “persistent challenges” continue in
“gender equality in education”, adding while in India “almost 70 percent of 15–19 year-olds were in secondary education compared to less than 40 percent of those in the 20–24 year age group”,…

India's unemployment rate reached 7.6% in April 2019: Report

India's rate of unemployment doubled in the past two years, reveals a new report, "State of India’s Environment (SoE) In Figures, 2019", released by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on World Environment Day. This has particularly affected young graduates, it says.
According to the report, the unemployment rate has gone up from four per cent to 7.6 in the last two years (May 2017-April 2019). The unemployment rate in April 2019 was the highest in two years, it says, adding, the rate for rural areas in this month was also the highest in this period.
According to the report, the youth (between 20-24 years), who constitute around 40 per cent of India's labour force, have an unemployment rate of 32 per cent. The unemployment rate among the educated is even worse. The rate among people with at least a graduate degree was 13.17 per cent in September-December 2018, up from 10.39 per cent in May-August 2017.
In 2017, says the report, a major cause…

Aarti held to highlight Sabarmati pollution beyond Vasna barrage in Ahmedabad

Taking strong exception to the cleaning-up drive of Sabarmati river passing through Ahmedabad on the occasion of the World Environment Day, senior activists Jatin Sheth and Santosh Singh have said that the move started by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is restricted not to the entire Sabarmati river but to the area of ​​the riverfront in the city.  In a statement, they said, industrial sewage is "being transported to the river without treating it and is being released in the river after the Vasna barrage."
Wondering whether the river beyond the barrage not part of the river, the statement wonders if the Sabarmati riverfront area alone should be part of the authorities' beautification programme.   The statement follows the activists organising Sabarmati aarti next to the Vasna barrage along the Narol Road off Shastri Bridge in order to highlight how polluted water is being flown into the riverbed.

Rise in Ahmedabad's temperature 'related to' higher pollution levels: Green students told

The Green Catalyst team, consisting of 45 volunteers from 15 different colleges of Ahmedabad, organized two different programmes on the occasion of the World Environment Day, supported by Ahmedabad-based environmental organization Paryavaran Mitra.
The team, which works for awareness and education on waste management, including e-waste and plastic waste, organised a rally of about 100 students from Shyamal Char Rasta to Vastrapur with environmental protection banners.
In the second programme, the team organised a prakruti or nature dialogue at Juggernaut Arena on Sindhubhuwvan Road, where Paryavaran Mitra's Mahesh Pandya apprised students of the dangers of increasing city pollution and its relationship with rise in temperature of Ahmedabad, and measures to overcome the problem.
Participating students discussed issues related with water pollution, air pollution and solid waste management.

Madhya Pradesh CM should "personally" pay tribute to martyred Mandsaur farmers

The All-India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, a platform of 208 farmers organizations, will be paying tribute to the six martyred farmers in police firing on June 6, 2017 at Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh. As many as 70 farmers’ leaders will gather in village Takaravad, including VM Singh, Raju Shetty, Rajaram Singh, Prem Singh Gahlawat, Avik Saha, Pratibha Shinde, Sushila Tai, and others.
The purpose of paying homage to the martyred farmers is to send a message to the farmers of the country that despite the formation of the Modi government at the centre, the unity of the farmers is intact, said executive president of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti and former MLA Dr Sunilam, regretting, the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh has still not taken back cases filed against farmers for failing to pay debt, which was the main reason behind the Mandsaur movement.
Talking with media, Dr Sunilam appealed to Chief Minister Kamal Nath to personally pay homage to the martyred farmers on June 6 and promise th…

India joined Pakistan, supported Russia, to oppose listing of asbestos as hazardous

The Asbestos Network of India (BANI), which claims to be running the asbestos free India campaign, has said that Government of India has maintained “studied silence” on India's role on white chrysotile asbestos at the United Nations.
Quoting an official press release of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFFC), Government of India, BANI said, has maintained “studied silence about India's role with regard to white chrysotile asbestos at 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.” The theme of the meeting was Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste.
The BANI statement said, “An Indian delegation of the MoEFFC, and comprising other ministries such as agriculture, chemicals, and electronics and information technology participated in the meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, from Ap…

Costs remain high amidst dormant sales, profits: IIM-A business expectation survey

The latest round of Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) for April 2019, released by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), based on the responses of over 1600 companies, has revealed that around 50% of the firms in April 2019 reported increase in costs has been more than 3% (sharply down from 57% reported in March 2019) during the last one year, while the proportion of firms perceiving significant cost increase (more than 6%) in April 2019 has also come down sharply to 25% as compared to 32% in March 2019.
The survey further finds that in April 2019, nearly three fifths of the firms in the sample reported that sales are ‘somewhat or much less than normal’, with this proportion remaining similar during the January-April 2019 period. Further, the proportion of firms in the sample reporting ‘normal or greater than normal’ profit margins has marginally improved to 36% in April 2019 from 33% in March 2019, though overall, the profit margin scenario has remained…

Total Narmada Dam oustees 53,000, not 23,000, NBA tells Govt of India

Narmada Valley Development and Rehabilitation Minister Surendrasinh Baghel's claim in a press communique that all the 83 rehabilitation sites, built in Madhya Pradesh to resettle Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam oustees, would be given all the facilities till June 20 to make them liveable "is impossible to achieve", the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has said in a statement.
Asserting that lack of facilities at rehabilitation sites is a violation of all court orders as also the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) law, NBA said, theere was timeframe for providing facilities -- clearing of cases with the the grievance redressal authority by November 28, 2017, allocation of residential plots till December 31, 2018, ownership registration alongside provision of electricity, street lights and cremation grounds till March 31, 2018, and drinking water by April 31, 2018. Yet, till date things have not moved.
According to NBA, the displaced persons were to be compensated in …

Govt told to implement plea to extend RTE to pre-primary, secondary, higher secondary

The Right to Education (RTE) Forum has welcomed the draft National Education Policy (NEP) proposing to extend the RTE Act to include pre-primary and secondary and higher secondary education, insisting, the government must implement it in its full spirit so that school education becomes a legal entitlement of millions of children of India.
Also welcoming the “emphasis on instruction in the mother tongue of students in schools at primary, preferably at elementary level in the NEP”, the RTE Forum, in a statement by its convener Ambarish Rai, has said, the Forum had been demanding the regularization of teachers and the elimination of Para teachers from schools and this has also been “reinforced in the draft document.”
“Other much needed inclusions are doubling of the overall financial allocation to education, strengthening decentralized mechanisms of teacher management and support, expansion of school nutrition programme from Mid-Day Meal to include provision of school breakfast, and a…

Amit Shah among India's 22 of 58 ministers facing serious criminal charges: Report

Claiming to having assets worth Rs 40.32 crore, fourth highest among India’s new council of ministers chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, de facto No 2, home minister Amit Shah, faces charges related to criminal intimidation (IPC Section-506), mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc. (IPC Section436) 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), and so on.
A report by National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms, which analyses the self-sworn affidavits of 56 ministers out of 58 ministers (including Prime Minister) from Lok Sabha 2019 and current Rajya Sabha, says that out of the 56 ministers analysed, 22 (39%) ministers have declared criminal cases against themselves. The details of two minister, Ramvilas Paswan, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, and Dr S Jaisha…

JP Morgan: India's lowest growth in 5 years, 5.8%, worrying; recovery may be slow

Commenting on India’s January-March 2019 GDP growth, which "surprised sharply to the downside, printing at a 5-year low of 5.8%", JP Morgan, the American multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in New York City, has said that it has not just "dragged down full-year growth also to a five-year low of 6.8%".
It underlines, "The GDP undershoot reinforces the discernable slowdown that is currently underway. Growth has largely been flying on one engine in recent years – private consumption – and that has gotten progressively exhausted."
Worse, in its commentary, authored by Sajjid Z Chinoy and Toshi Jain, who are with the top MNC's
Emerging Markets Asia Economic and Policy Research wing, say, even this is "buffeted by sustained rural distress and a significant tightening of financial conditions amongst the Non Bank Financial Companies (NBFC), which have largely been financing consumption."
Continue the JP Morg…