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Showing posts from December, 2020

When Khushwant Singh objected to talk about Indianising people who are already Indian

Known for his incisive thinking, a senior IAS officer, who retired recently, has shared on social media top writer-journalist Khushwant Singh's article "Why I am an Indian", published as an editorial in the "Illustrated Weekly of India", a former Times of India publication. The bureaucrat insists, "It makes sense, and I believe is a must-read for all civil servants, perhaps all Indians in the present political situation." The article was published on February 15, 1970. Read on... ***

Conversation with Stan Swamy, tirelessly working for tribal rights, not money or fame

Vidya Bhushan Rawat talked* with   octogenarian tribal rights leader Stan Swamy , currently in jail for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence: *** None would ever have imagined that an octogenarian Stan Swamy would face such a harsh treatment for his committed work for the adivasis of Jharkhand. When the governments of the world over honour activists who work in tiring circumstances and devote their time to areas far away from their places then we must realise that it is not for money or fame but for pure commitment and convictions. Father Stan Swamy was born in Trichy and as a Tamilian Christian. He had enormous opportunities for him but he dedicated over 30 years of his life to the service of adivasis in Jharkhand. He worked with Indian Social Institute in Bengaluru but he always felt the fragrance of the natural lives of Jharkhand. He decided to fully dedicate his life for the rights of adivasis in Jharkhand. People like me were just reading his articles on displacem

Recalling Albert Camus' "The Plague" in our age of pandemic and polarisation

Writing on the one of the world’s topmost novelists, Albert Camus, author of “'The Plague'”,  Mugambi Jouet  calls him “a thinker for our age of pandemic and polarization.” Titled “Reading Camus in Time of Plague and Polarization”, published in the Boston Review, a political literary forum, Jouet's review says, “The French Algerian writer steadfastly defended democracy and humanity against dogmatic ideologies of all stripes. We need to read and reread him today.” Read on... ***  This year has not only seen revived interest in Albert Camus’s novel 'The Plague' (1947), it also marks a key anniversary: Camus’s death at the age of forty-six in a sudden car crash sixty years ago. The occasion has led to commemorations in France but it has been understandably overshadowed in the United States by COVID-19, the fateful presidential election, and beyond. Yet Camus is a thinker for our age of pandemic and polarization. He sought to transcend the divides of his own epoch by w

Interaction with a tribal-turned-Dalit community of eastern Gangetic plain in UP

Malwabar village Vidya Bhushan Rawat , a human rights defender, has interacted with the  tribal-turned-Dalit community found in the eastern Gangetic plain and the Terai, Musahars, living in village Malwabar, Deoria, Uttar Pradesh, on issues related with agriculture, land and how they deal with the entire issue. According to him, one would be able to understand the crisis  faced by the community in Malwabar village, which is a Musahar hamlet, even though it has changed a lot.

Putting farmers first? Modi's publicity outfit plays up Gujarat model via not secure site

Screenshot from the ebook Alarmed by the powerful farmers’ uprising in North India, as part of the Government of India’s (GoI’s) powerful propaganda blitzkrieg, the Bureau of Outreach and Communication (BOC), earlier known as DAVP, the nodal organisation of GoI for advertising and communication, has released a colourful 106-page e-book in order to justify controversial the three farm laws, which are the main point of contention.

When ex-armyman was blessed for leading Muslim nomads to Gurudwara langar

A delightful story of humanity, shared last year by Major General SPS Narang (retd) in “The Citizen”, is taking rounds on the social media amidst efforts by the powers-that-be to tarnish the farmers’ agitation variously as conspiracy by opposition to a Khalistani plot. The story is about his brief encounter with Muslim nomads whom he met while travelling from Dehradun to Chandigarh. Retired from the Indian Army, Narang led them into Gurudwara Paonta Sahib.

National COVID Vaccine Expert Group’s records: Health Ministry, ICMR ignorant?

By Venkatesh Nayak*  Media reports of the proceedings of the all-party meeting held on 4th December, 2020 about the progress made regarding COVID-19 vaccine administration plans have kindled hope for millions of people across the country suffering from the adverse effects of the epidemic in myriad ways. The Hon. Prime Minister announced that healthcare workers, frontline workers and the elderly who are already suffering from co-morbidities will be vaccinated on a priority basis. He also pointed out that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) comprised of technical experts, senior officials of concerned Central Ministries and Zonal representatives of States has been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the vaccine administration campaign. NEGVAC, he said will make collective decisions as per the requirements in consultation with the States. So NEGVAC is the primary decision making body on all matters relating to COVID-19 vaccine administration

Gates Foundation alliance favours GMO, calls critique of biotechnology antiscience

The Cornell Alliance for Science, an organisation that operates out of Cornell University, is misnamed, argues Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice in a recent report, pointing out, It owes its allegiance not to Cornell but to its founder and main funder, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is making frantic effort to side-step the current emphasis on food security, even as promoting corporate agri-business.

A probe into how PM-KISAN is benefiting different sections of society

By Venkatesh Nayak*  Come December, the Central Government will begin disbursing the 7th instalment of funds under the Pradhan Mantri- Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN). This is a Central scheme implemented through the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare for the benefit of eligible farmers across the country. According to a reply to an Unstarred Question tabled in the Lok Sabha (on 18th September, 2020) during the monsoon session, the Ministry acknowledged that a total of INR 94,119.49 crores (USD 12.63 Billion, where USD 1 = INR 74.49) had been deposited in three instalments of INR 2,000 each per year since its inception in December 2018.Two earlier instalments due this year were front-ended as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package announced on 26th March, 2020 to mitigate their hardships arising from the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic. The reply tabled in the Lok Sabha also stated that a total of 10.21 crore (100.21 million) farmers had benefite