Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2021

IIM-Indore students anonymously compain: Authorities ignore their Covid concern

An email alert received by me from a 2020 batch alum of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Indore has forwarded a mail received by this person regarding "concerns of the current students towards the top business institute's Indore branch's authorities' alleged "disregard" towards the management of the Covid-19-related situation on-campus.

Why this marriage of son of non-IAS babu, earlier in Gujarat, became an event in Kerala

AK Vijay Kumar Many say, marriages are made in heaven. However, as a confirmed non-believer, I don’t seem to think that way. But if one were to believe that marriages are indeed made in heaven, would the guests who are invited in some of the high-profile weddings also decide the destiny of the newly weds? I don’t know. Yet, the fact is, the competition to invite guests at such weddings is something I noticed after I came to Ahmedabad in 1993 to join as assistant editor of the Times of India.

Why can't NRIs see the Gujarat govt website supposedly meant for them?

Neeraj Nanda In continuation of my previous blog , my friend in Melbourne, Neeraj Nanda, on reading it, tried to see if a Gujarat government site of the General Administration Department (GAD), which I opened sitting in Ahmedabad, is opening in Australia, too. Ironically, this site introduces itself as “Towards Smart Governance: Department’s main objectives lay strong foundations for citizens and fulfill their expectations and gain trust by finding measures through effective and responsive administration”.

Firewalled again: Gujarat govt sites aren't visible in Americas, Europe, SE Asia, Australia

Roshan Shah Recently, I got a message from an NRI friend settled in Canada, Roshan Shah. Himself a software engineer, he told me that several Gujarat government sites do not appear to be “accessible outside India.” He particularly cited the main state government site , referring to an IT tool , wondering, “When PM has touted Vibrant Gujarat for years, how would any investors trust a government which can't even get its main site, policies etc, accessible to outsiders?”

India is the fifth worst country in providing pension to its aging population

Last year, e-journal “Visual Capitalist” ranked about 36 countries on how they were doing insofar as providing pension to their population is concerned. The ranking suggested that India is the fifth worst country in providing pension to its aging population. Titled "Ranked: The best and worst pension plans, by country", and authored by Carmen Ang, other countries that rank worse than India are Mexico, the Philippines, Turkey and Argentina. The Netherlands ranks the best, followed by Denmark, Australia, Finland and Sweden.

About a Nazi anthropologist who tried to trace Aryan race among Tibetans

A Facebook page, titled “Silk and Steel”, has revealed something astonishing: How a Nazi anthropologist went as far away as Tibet in order to find traces of Aryan civilisation! Introducing itself as “a podcast about China and Silk Road, history, culture and current events” with the web address https://www.patreon.com/silknsteel , this is what it says: *** Nazi anthropologist Bruno Berger on 1938-39 Nazi expedition to Tibet sponsored by Heinrich Himmler, measuring Tibetan skulls to find trace of ancient Aryans... They’re trying to verify Nazi theory that a group of pure blood Aryans had settled in Tibet. They believed that Tibetan aristocracy still retained ancient Aryan bloodline. Later Berger tried to get access to skulls of executed Soviet Jewish commissars on the Eastern Front but failed due to logistics. So he participated in selecting 100 Jewish prisoners of Auschwitz to be killed for Jewish skeleton collection. He was convicted in 1971 for being an accomplice in the murder of

How false narrative was woven around Tablighi attendees as source of pandemic

A twitter handle, calling itself Indian Rwanda Radio, @IND_RwandaRadio, which claims to record evidence and examples of Indian professional media organizations allegedly engaged in what it calls "genocidal Rwanda Radio script”, has, in a series of tweets , pointed towards how nearly a year ago Muslims were sought to be blamed for spreading coronavirus. The tweets, shared on the social media, seek to expose prominent media houses for this, even as giving screenshots from electronic media which tried to send a communal message by blaming Tablighi Jamaat.

Mamata is winning as of today... remember, as of today. Communalism can be game changer

Mamata Banerjee is “injured”. The two main political opponents of Mamata, the Congress-Left combine, on one hand, and the BJP, on the other, challenging what so far seemed to be her indisputable rule in the poll-bound West Bengal, are stating that it was an “accident” and Mamata was trying to use it as to gain sympathy. On the other hand, as already reported, the Trinamool Congress, which she heads, says, she was “pushed” by four to five persons and was the result of “security lapse.”

Where do Ambani, Adani stand in a global visualisation of top richest people?

Last table: Top 10 excluding US and China Visual Capitalist , in its latest survey in order to “visualize” the richest people in the world, has suggested that India’s billionnaire Mukesh Ambani is the 11th richest person the world with an accumulated wealth of $90.9 billion, failing to make in the top ten. Even singling out two countries China and India, to identify their richest persons, the commentary refuses to comment on Ambani's wealth.

Revealing the real ways of Tibetan govt in exile through an anonymous friend

Recently, I received an email from from a person who introduced himself as Ronny Krier, claiming to be an American cultural researcher. He said, he visits Counterview in a regular basis to read news about India, and thinks, “It's a great platform to break the information filter bubbles and hear different voice.” Then Kreir, who is on Twitter and Facebook , and calls himself “independent investigator, religion-politics researcher,” refers to a friend whom he does not name to point out how the Tibetan government in exile is failing to take care of refugees.

How Amnesty went wrong in assessing Russian opposition leader arrested by Putin

Quoting a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) report , “Amnesty Move To Strip Navalny Of 'Prisoner Of Conscience' Status Sparks Outcry”, a Moscow-based journalist, Fred Weir, whom I peripherally during my Moscow days (1986-93), has brought into the light problems in which such top human rights organisations like Amnesty International, find themselves in while defending what they called “prisoners of conscience.

Clampdown on media: Why even well-meaning people fail to see news as news

Are journalists being misunderstood even by well-meaning people? I was to kickstart by quoting an article published in theprint.in titled “ED (Enforcement Directorate) says NewsClick used Rs 30 cr ‘mystery remittances’ to ‘pay Navlakha, CPM IT cell member’.” This article has invited a wild comment from a person who is known to be editing a well-known left-leaning blog. An old time friend since my college days in Delhi University, referring to this article, said on his Facebook timeline: “An absolutely unethical hatchet job by The Print against NewsClick that descends to unprecedented lows in ass-licking. But am I surprised? Yes, at those who still thought Shekhar Gupta is a journalist with integrity. This is him in his true colours. #StandbyNewsClick.”

A peep into Australia's South Asians obsessed with finding out each other's caste

There appears to be no end to South Asians settling abroad taking with them their casteist, anti-Dalit mindset – a fact brought to light by Deepak Joshi , a Facebook friend who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Joshi has shared on his Facebook timeline an article published in the ABC Radio National site titled “They've left South Asia, but they can't escape the discrimination and division of its caste system” authored by Karishma Luthria. It is actually a first person blog.

Nothing new about Gujarat's solar misadventures. They date back to 2008

Pointing out that it is hard to fathom why state governments in India go back on their word and tearing up contracts awarded by them, “Mint”, in an opinion piece , has given the example of how Gujarat has “reneged” one of its own deals. “In one fell swoop”, the daily says, “Gujarat’s power procurement agency cancelled tenders for 700 MW of solar power generation given to a clutch of energy producers, citing lower tariff bids in a subsequent auction.”

Reasons I decided to install and uninstall the nationalist Koo... nothing ideological

The “nationalist” Koo fever appears to have caught up with some Union ministers, BJP politicians, some right-wing actors, media and professionals. I too decided to try it out by downloading what is tom-tommed as a Twitter alternative on my mobile phone, thinking, perhaps it would give a little insight into right-wing news stories, which interest me.

Video reveals caste is still powerful means to suppress North India's neglected groups

Releasing a fresh video on the plight of two individuals belonging to highly neglected communities of Indo-Gangetic plains, Vidya Bhushan Rawat , a human rights defender, describes the plight of the family of Banarasi Mushahar, who was found dead on a road side about 200 meters from his house in the morning of May 24, 2020, and of his injured friend Rampreet Nat, lying unconscious across the road.

Concept of Bharat Mata didn't exist even during first war of independence, 1857

Abanindranath Tagore's Bharat Mata Well-known historian DN Jha , who has been an eyesore for Hindutva protagonists, passed away recently. In a revelation which he made in 2016 years ago, he claimed the concept Bharat Mata did not exist even in 1857, which has gone down in the history as the country’s first struggle for Independence. 

Indian fascism? A diaspora view on govt's heavy handed response to farmers' protest

Distributed by the Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre (PMARC), a Dalit media group, an article published in “Asia Samachar”, titled “Indian fascism and current farmers’ movement” says that though the discussion about Indian fascism is not new, the current farmers movement centred on the borders of the national capital Delhi, and the government's heavy handed response, has “raised the sense of concern and urgency amongst many observers.”

How Australian cops protected protesters favouring farmers' struggle in India

I was talking with a long-time friend of mine, Neeraj Nanda, editor, “South Asia Times”, which is brought out from Melbourne. He informed me, on February 7 he had gone to cover a pro-farmers’ rally in the town, where there was “massive” gathering (from current Australian standards, as coronovirus has just been “overcome”). The police was there to protect the protesters, he told me!Peaceful, the rally saw someone shouting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” The cops called him, queried him, and then he was asked to go, and he went away. “I asked the cops what did they ask him. And they replied that the person was from the opposite side, and that such disruption is not allowed. We we called him, and asked he to move out, which is what he did”, Nanda told me. While Nanda said the Indian diaspora is “vertically divided” on the farmers’ protest in India, and that a candle light march was also planned on the same day evening, where he did not go, this is what he reported in “South Asia Times”: “A massiv

Why US, European millennials don’t know about Auschwitz and Holocaust

An investigation by the e-journal “Forward” has revealed that there are hundreds of statues and monuments in the United States and around the world to people who abetted or took part in the murder of Jews and others during the Holocaust. “How many monuments honor fascists, Nazis and murderers of Jews? You’ll be shocked”, says the author of the writeup Lev Golinkin.

Should India's Radical Humanists feel proud? Mexico remembers MN Roy thru nightclub!

This was surprising: A nightclub in Mexico in the name of MN Roy, an early 20th century Indian revolutionary, whose thoughts are claimed to be have influenced Lenin, Einstein, Gramsci and Sun-Yat Sen! A Communist who turned a radical humanist, whatever that means, during the later period of his life, all that I know of Roy is, he founded the Mexican Communist Party and participated as one of the top representatives in the Communist International.

Why should rich country like Canada collect vaccines much beyond its requirement?

In conversation with human rights defender Vidya Bhushan Rawat , former United Nations diplomat Bruce H Moore, who has served as boards of several NGOs and institutes, including Transparency International Canada, Institute for Global Food Security at the McGill University, Canadians for Tax Fairness, Forum for Democratic Global Governance and the Huairou Commission (an international alliance of grassroots women’s organizations), speaks about growing inequality and food crisis in the post-Covid world.

Imports from China rise from 14.6% to 18.3% in a year: Failure to retaliate the aggressor?

Amidst Government of India seeking to retaliate Chinese aggression of Ladakh by banning mobile apps in order to create an anti-China sentiment among people, an official Chinese site has claimed that not only India’s “radical” scholars are misleading India on its northern neighbour, "Chinese products took 18.3 percent of India's total imports from April to September 2020, up from 14.6 percent in the same period in 2019..."

Influenced by his Jewish background, Marx called religion man’s self-consciousness

Was Marx influenced by his Jewish background? It would seem so, if one believes Shlomo Avineri’s book Karl Marx: Philosophy and Revolution . Praised for his “sympathetic and thoughtful interpretation of Karl Marx's view of religion”, Avineri says in his book, "Merely criticizing religion, without trying to identify the concrete social conditions that give rise to it, is to Marx shadow boxing, and unlike many other radicals, he finds it a waste of time.”

Veteran Bihar land rights activist on how land reforms became defunct in state

Human rights defender Vidya Bhushan Rawat talks to Pankaj Singh, a veteran land rights activist based in Champaran, Bihar. One who was arrested for raising the issues of the backward Mushahar community's land rights, he remained in jail for several months till the Patna High Court granted him bail. 

Did Nidhi Razdan find out if post-graduate diploma can be Harvard associate professor?

The Nidhi Razdan episode, which I learned from the blog she wrote on the NDTV site, has created a flutter among journalists, whether in New Delhi or in Ahmedabad. I talked with half-a-dozen senior journalists, three of whom said they knew her personally and were "surprised" how and why she was a victim of what she claimed to be a phishing attack, which led her to believe that she had been enrolled in as associate professor to reach journalism at the Harvard Extension School in US.

Have India's rulers favoured Gujarat by supplying only 'safer' Covishield to state?

The controversy surrounding the two vaccines appears to be taking a scary turn. It so happened that I was talking to a senior healthcare expert of Gujarat on January 17. A very kind soul, this expert, whom I have known since 1990s, took the vaccine and posted the exercise on the Facebook so that others should know it's "safe". I contacted him on Facebook messenger, congratulated his gesture, and asked him which one was it. He said, "Covishield. This is the only one in Gujarat."

Slavery existed in Kerala in early 19th century, Christian missionaries helped abolish it

A keen observer of history, culture and politics, Bhaskar Sur, in a Facebook post , has brought to light an unusual fact: Existence of slavery in India at a time slavery ruled the roost in America and Europe. Even as providing link to a short article published in a little known site “Nalloor Post”, he says, “There are many post-colonial historians who have dwelt exhaustively on the Trans-Atlantic slavery and its relation to capitalism. While we should admire the quality of the scholarship, we cannot help feeling that it is history writing with an agenda.”

A 2004 study first said how 2002 Gujarat riots spread communalism to rural areas

Recently, I did a story on a Gujarat NGO report by Buniyad, which said it had noticed a new trend: Especially since 2014, communal violence, it insisted, spread to new rural areas. While I did cover Gujarat riots of 2002, I must admit, as I was based in Gandhinagar, and my main job was to cover the state government, I did fewer spot stories compared many of my journalist colleagues of the “Times of India” and “Indian Express” based in Ahmedabad, who did surely an excellent job.

Folk singer Mukund Nayak on Adivasi identity, jal-jungle-zameen, untouchability issues

Mukund Nayak has been a prominent cultural voice in Jharkhand, who has staged live performances worldwide as well as in India. He was awarded with Padmashree by the Government of India several years ago. Sharing his video conversation which took place about three years ago, Vidya Bhushan Rawat , a human rights defender says, the prominent folk singer, songwriter and dancer talks about Jharkhand's Adivasi identity, issues of jal-jungle-zameen (water-forests-land), impact of the outsiders’ onslaught on Jharkhand, caste and untouchability issues.