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Showing posts from December, 2020

Ex-IAS Atanu Chakraborty and a tale of two different Gujarat vision documents

By Rajiv Shah The likely appointment of Atanu Chakraborty as HDFC Bank chairman interested me for several reasons, but above all because I have interacted with him closely during my more than 15 year stint in Gandhinagar for the “Times of India”. One of the few decent Gujarat cadre bureaucrats, Chakraborty, belonging to the 1985 IAS batch, at least till I covered Sachivalaya was surely above controversies. He loved to remain faceless, never desired publicity, was professional to the core, and never indulged in loose talk.

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

Never in nation's history have rulers been embarrassed to the very core as here...

A spot report on what's happening near Delhi borders by Harsh Thakor* ***   I simply do not have an adjective in the dictionary to sum up the intensity of the farmers resistance in Delhi. History continues to be re-written like an inextinguishable light. It is reminiscent of a protracted war launched by an army against unflinching odds, confronting the enemy in the very belly. Each and every day it is further consolidating. With the methodology and skill of an architect or surgeon and relentlessness of a boulder resisting a thunderstorm the farmers organisations have braved it out on the outskirts of the capital. 

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.

Melbourne-based rights activist in search of Indian soldier gone missing in Pakistan

Captain Sanjit  By Rajiv Shah Pushkar Raj, who at some point was national general secretary of India’s premier human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), currently settled in Melbourne, sent an email to me seeking my mobile number. I promptly sent it across, and within no time, he phoned me up. 

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.

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.

Gujarat Dalit rights leader identifies dumped plastic extracted from dead cows' womb

Natubhai Parmar showing plastic extracted from a dead cow's womb By Rajiv Shah After a long, long time, Natubhai Parmar, a grassroots Dalit rights activist based in Surendranagar in Gujarat, rang me up. I was pleasantly surprised. I have known him for the last about eight years. Though we used to talk on phone, and met once in a while in Ahmedabad to do stories on Dalit issues, it was only after the famous Una flogging incident in 2016 that I found how deep his understanding is on Dalit issues.