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Showing posts from March, 2023

Cow politics: When the issue of religious faith, performance of rituals raise ugly head

By Harasankar Adhikari  Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa preached that the religion of man is like the dialect of an individual or a group of individuals. Individuals of varied religious groups pray to reach the infinite and supreme soul considered to ‘God’ or ‘Allah’ or "Rama" or "Krishna" through religious practices in daily life. Sri Rabindrannath also shares his view on religion in the same vein, and he expresses his dissatisfaction regarding the origins of the different religious groups and religious practices. According to him, the origin of different religious groups is the cause of communal harmony. However, the various practices of a particular religious group are very special and personal. It never harms any other group if it is not imposed by one group on another. Thus, separate religious groups might have their own food practices and other rituals as per their choices.

Individual freedom can't be absolute, nor liberty personal, it has to be social contract

By NS Venkataraman* It is more than seventy years now, since India attained independence from British rule and drafted a well balanced Constitution, which form the basis for Indian democratic process. Several national and state elections have been conducted and the victorious political party has taken over the governance in a smooth manner. Over the years, there have been building up of great awareness amongst the people about their fundamental rights and freedom of speech. While for an outsider, it may look like a noisy democracy in India, with protests, allegations and counter allegations and even corruption charges being raised and framed and complaints about dynastic political culture being developed with number of political parties coming under the grip of family control, still the ground reality is that democracy as an institution is surviving and thriving.

Rotterdam Convention: UN experts seek amendment, say, list hazardous chemicals

UN experts* have called on all Parties to the Rotterdam Convention to adopt an amendment that would list hazardous chemicals and strengthen the international treaty that is designed to facilitate informed decision-making by countries with regard to trade in dangerous chemicals. The UN experts issued the following statement:

Welcome move: Now, Bescom to harness solar energy for irrigation pump sets

Shankar Sharma, Power & Climate Policy Analyst, writes to the Additional Chief Secretary, Energy Department, Govt of Karnataka: *** This has reference to a news item Now, Bescom to harness solar energy for irrigation pump sets that Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) will soon harness solar power to energise close to 2.6 lakh irrigation pump sets (IP sets).

Indian cricket administration's unjust ways hit Mohinder Amarnath's potential

By Harsh Thakor*  Mohinder Amarnath, born on 24 September 1950 was the son of late Indian former cricketer, cricket analyst and actor Lala Amarnath (the first post-independence captain of India). His brother Surinder Amarnath was a former test player and Rajinder a first class cricketer. Few batsmen were more reminiscent of an architect or surgeon out in the middle, doing exactly what the doctor ordered as Mohinder or ‘Jimmy’ Amarnath Ultimate man when the tide was swaying against you.

Why rapid transition to green energy should be people-centric and community-led

Synthesis Report of IPCC AR6 is a warning call: Grounded action needed to ensure social and ecological justice: ActionAid Association note: *** The Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report is a warning call for action on the quickly closing opportunity of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees centigrade. Unless fossil fuels are rapidly retired, the impacts of climate change already faced by vulnerable communities will become difficult to handle. The IPCC report also highlights that we have the renewable energy technology, policy tools, and financial capital required for a just transition; however, “both adaptation and mitigation financing would need to increase many-fold”. The loss and damage caused by heat waves, crop failures, and rising sea levels suffered by majorities of India’s working peoples are already significant and uncompensated. News reports tell us that due to heat, India already loses around 101 billion hours yearly. E

Why is media so preoccupied with glorifying corrupted political criminals in trial?

By Harasankar Adhikari  Now, the state of West Bengal is a lying-in room for corruption and criminals, which are unfortunately sponsored by the state. These special acts of corruption and criminalism are alleged to be the work of political cadres of the ruling Trinamool Congress. Rampant corruptions and hooliganisms in every sphere of administrative affairs and even in private affairs are under trial in the honorable High Court of Calcutta, and the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation are investigating. But it is an unnecessarily delayed process.

Gram swaraj's basic tenet: equality, justice, genuine democracy, decentralization

Bharat Dogra  The freedom movement of India to get independence from nearly two centuries of colonialism was one of the most inspiring phases of the history of India. People were motivated to take up very inspirational work and were willing to suffer unending hardships including imprisonment and torture with courageous songs and slogans. This inspirational spirit must be retained even now as there are very big challenges to contribute to reducing very serious problems of the country and indeed the entire world. Some concepts which were very popular and inspirational at that time have an enduring relevance in terms of contributing much to guiding us in resolving some of the most serious problems, at national and world level, particularly as leaders of freedom movement were far-sighted and tried to guide these concepts towards more enduring objectives.

Will the democratic capital of India be only for the betterment of the political leaders?

By Harasankar Adhikari  We know that every nation/country throughout the globe significantly depends on its capital as a marker of its progress and development. These capitals are of various types—social, economic, cultural, etc. The progress and development of a country are obviously determined by these capitals. And there is co- relation and integration among these capitals. Economic capital consists of the resources and assets acquired through financial gains (money or land). 

Hetero-patriarchal socialization of women’s inequality: Violence and moral censure

By Harasankar Adhikari  Because of the hetero-patriarchal structure and socialization in every society, women face many dangers (especially sexual dangers) even today. Women’s sexuality is embedded and experienced at the service of the state, power regimes, and commodification in the media. Carole Vance (1984) shared that ‘the threat of male violence is not the only source of sexual dangers. Sexuality activates a host of intra-psychic anxieties; fear of merging with another, the blurring of body boundaries, and the sense of self that occurs in the tangle of parts and sensations, with attendant fears of dissolution and self-annihilation.’ Female sexuality has two aspects: cohesiveness, power, danger, and fear are one, and another aspect is the realm of ecstasy, desire, intimacy, mutuality, and pleasure. Women’s sexuality and embodied agency are potentially under the control of hetero-patriarchal logic. Michel Foucault opined that ‘the body is not simply a passive surface, i

Thousands of cases pending in Indian courts, why waste time on same sex marriage?

By NS Venkataraman*  Thousands of litigations and cases are pending in lower, middle and apex courts in India for several years. Some of the cases have been pending for over ten years without judgement being delivered. The ground reality is that after completion of hearing , judges take long time to deliver the judgement. Apart from this, stay orders are frequently given by the higher court over the judgement delivered by the lower courts. Further, several hearings are delayed due to adjournment, etc.

Why is Australian Prime Minister Albanese mouthing platitudes on Julian Assange?

By John Pilger*  I have known Julian Assange since I first interviewed him in London in 2010. I immediately liked his dry, dark sense of humour, often dispensed with an infectious giggle. He is a proud outsider: sharp and thoughtful. We have become friends, and I have sat in many courtrooms listening to the tribunes of the state try to silence him and his moral revolution in journalism.

American capitalist crisis and invasion of Iraq: remembering 20th anniversary of Iraq war

By Harsh Thakor  On March 20, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of one of the blackest moments in history. The War of Iraq by the United States is an event that will be inscribed in black letters forever. Hundreds of millions of people in every part of the world revolted to the bloodbath of a merciless military power shattering a small and defenceless country. The invasion of Iraq was an imperialist war in the classic sense of the term: a barbaric act of aggression that manifested the interests of the most reactionary and predatory sections of the financial and corporate oligarchy in the United States. Its immediate purpose was s the establishment of monopoly over Iraq’s vast oil resources and converting that long-oppressed country to an American colonial protectorate.

BSF's unconstitutional, whimsical order violates life, livelihood of Dalits, minorities

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I want to attract your attention towards the illegitimate restrictions on the life and livelihood of the villagers of Paschim Sahebganj village under Dinhata - II Block and Sahebganj police station in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal by the Border Security Force personnel attached with Dharala Border Out Post under 138 Battalion BSF. The population of Paschim Sahebganj village is around 1480, where almost 75 percent of the villagers belong from Hindu Scheduled Caste (Dalit) and 25 percent from minority Muslim backgrounds.The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. About 260 acres of cultivable land in the village that belongs to the villagers is located outside the border fencing, which is heavily guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF). The BSF regulates the ingress and egress of the villagers to their fields through the fencing gates that a

Democratic rule? In India, ruling party is trying to cease the existence of opposition

By Harasankar Adhikari  The term "democracy" is derived from two Greek words: "demos ‘(or people) and ‘kratos’ (rule). So, in simple terms, democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. ‘It is a system of governance where power and civic responsibility are, ideally, exercised directly by all citizens.' But unfortunately, the practice tells a different story because the "people" typically exercise their power indirectly through elected representatives. There, modern democracy "is a system of governance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of the elected representatives." The key characteristic of democracy is ‘the responsiveness of government to the preferences of its citizens," (who are, in theory, "political equals" of the rulers). In this responsiveness, ‘citizens have opportunities to formulate

New concern: genetic modified animals to be a big environmental and health risk

By Bharat Dogra  As though the havoc created by GM crops was not adequate, several experimental efforts relating to genetically modified or engineered animals are bringing a wide range of new risks and uncertainties. These include health hazards relating to transfer of diseases from genetically engineered animals to normal animals as well as to human beings. In addition there are the additional risks from consuming the food based on or obtained from genetically engineered animals. Then of course there are grave doubts regarding the scientific basis of the technology and to what extent it can actually succeed in achieving its aim regarding transfer of certain genetic traits, quite from the hazards involved in this, as well as the ethics of playing around with an uncertain technology regardless of serious harm that may be caused to the health and welfare of animals in the process.

96% of households used vegetable seeds to grow nutritional kitchen garden in Odisha

  An Atmashakti Trust note on why State government should continue schemes that benefit  against malnutrition: *** The supply of vegetable seeds by the Odisha government is a welcome move, and it has a far-reaching impact in combating malnutrition. So, the government must continue providing vegetable seeds to rural households, especially in remote, tribal areas, to yield results, revealed a survey report conducted by NGO Atmashakti Trust and its allies Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha. The survey, which covered 900 households (HHs) under 650 villages of Tumudibandha and Kotagada blocks in the Kandhamal district, revealed that 96% of households had used vegetable seeds to grow nutrition kitchen gardens which are helping them to enhance food security and dietary diversity. Positive trends 96% of the HHs have used the seeds provided by the Horticulture Department to grow a nutritional kitchen garden, and 100% of the seeds used have yielded output. Subseque

In this Ukrainian region, Russian, Soviet, and Donbas flags fly high everywhere

By Fergie Chambers  It is evening in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, one of NATO’s easternmost members. I am waiting at the edge of Izvor Park in the city center to meet with a young friend who has fled Ukraine. In the backdrop of the park is the Palace of the Parliament, the brutalist architectural crown jewel of the Ceaușescu era, and the heaviest building on earth.

Why Putin believes Russia has no other way to survive without winning Ukrainian war

By Fumiko Yamada  The Ukraine war has entered such a critical phase that Putin cannot think of ending the war without achieving victory. But the question is, why can't he think about it when the loss is apparently much greater than what Russia has gained from this war? In February 2023, Vladimir Putin said that if Russia concedes defeat in this war, not only the Russian Federation but the Russian nation may collapse. At the time, commentators in both Moscow and the West also believed that Putin was actually practicing a campaign rather than speaking his own words. They do not think that losing Ukraine will collapse Russia, and neither does Putin (Polit.ru, November 25, 2022). But now it doesn't seem that way. Putin actually believes that Russia has no other way to survive without winning this war. And the larger population of Russia does not disagree with that idea. Recent opinion polls indicate that the Russian president has wide public support, despite the various ills. Levan

Ultimate champion in crisis, arguably best ever skipper: Created history in Aussie cricket

By Harsh Thakor  In the history of cricket few cricketers knit and propelled a cricket team or had such profound influence on the game as Ian Chappell. Ian Chappell was responsible for converting a bunch of talented individuals into a world beating side, giving a dramatic turn to Australian cricket. Few cricketers ever led such a renaissance.

Macabre nature of killing of young Kashmiri woman has shocked society

AIDWA statement demanding sternest action against the brutal murder of a young woman in Budgam (Kashmir): *** The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) strongly condemns the brutal murder of a young woman in Budgam (Kashmir). On 7 March, Arifa Jan went for coaching class but failed to return home. Her brother lodged a missing report with the police on 8 March. The police interviewed several suspects and after sustained interrogation, one Shabir Ahmad Wani of Mohandpora Budgam confessed to the murder of the missing girl. We have recently seen other cases of brutal murders of women shocking the nation. This is one more such incident where the culprit has cut the body parts into pieces and buried them at various places. With his disclosure they have been able to uncover these body parts. The macabre nature of this killing has shocked society. People in various areas, particularly locals, have staged protest demonstrations and demanded harsh punishment to all the accused in t

Grassroots research gave indigenous rice high yields without chemical fertilizers, pesticides

By Bharat Dogra  It has been confirmed time and again that traditional knowledge of farmers and farmer communities has a lot to contribute much but despite this the authorities of various countries have often tried to impose technologies without trying to work with farmers in a spirit of learning together with each other. This has curbed creativity and the access of invaluable information best suited to local conditions in farm development programs.

Anti-corruption efforts: Modi would go down by failing or go up by succeeding

By NS Venkataraman*  The respect and public esteem that politicians commanded in India was at the highest level , when they were fighting for the freedom of the country from British rule under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi . The freedom for India was attained in 1947. At that time, ethics and morals were considered as cardinal principles of politics.

Brutal torture in custody clubbed with inaction: Colonial system of impunity

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I want to draw your attention towards a case of criminal trespass, illegal apprehension, brutal and unethical custodial torture upon the innocent Muslim youth of Purba Sahebganj village under the Dinhata-II Block and Sahebganj Police Station in the district of Cooch Behar, West Bengal. Mr. Johirul Islam, a 30 years young man isthe victim of this incident.

Rejuvenating small water bodies is key to ending water scarcity in Bundelkhand

By Bharat Dogra  Bundelkhand region, spread over 14 districts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in central India, has often been in news due to water scarcity, a problem that can easily worsen in times of climate change if adequate steps are not taken to check this.

Marxist intellectual who diagnosed flaws or inconsistencies in socialist countries

By Harsh Thakor  The evergreen Marxian socialist scholar and critic of Marxism, Paresh Chattopadhyay (PC) left us on January 14, 2023, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at age of 96.He was emeritus professor of political economy in the department of sociology at the University of Quebec, Montreal. With in depth mastery of Marxism, PC made his readers think and reflect over what he wrote, with an independent bent of mind. His research penetrated boundaries almost unscaled, by any Marxist historian or economist. It is remarkable that Paresh , in the thick of the scenario of times when Marxism has been given a crippling blow by counter revolutionary forces or imperialism in the form of globalisation, penetrating the globe on an unparalleled scale, stuck to his task of shimmering spark of Marxism, with the solidity of a boulder. Paresh Chattopadhyay should be revered for sheer single mindedness or relentless spirit. He unflinchingly stuck to the task as a Marxian socialist scholar and intellect

In today’s India aggressive violence has become weapon of choice for buying peace

By Harasankar Adhikari  Mahatma (the great soul) Gandhi's vision stands for "ahimsa" (non-violence) and ‘Satyagraha’ (holding of the truth). It is absolutely the beacon of his spirituality. His searches for peace and bliss are within the realm of ahimsa and satyagraha. Although his works are confined to the political movement for India's freedom as the political leader, his lifelong practise is enshrined as the political saint of India( according to Swami Yogananda Paramhans). His devotion and self-sacrifice for the universe are the revelation of his sainthood. 

Rohingya crisis: US aid announcement should lead to more aid to Bangladesh

By Sufian Siddique  Human rights groups and agencies have expressed alarm at the widening funding gap. WFP's move alone to cut food rations will add significant pressure, said John Quinley of the human rights group Fortify Rights. "The [latest] cuts on food aid will be dire and could lead to significant health consequences for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh."

Panchayat funds defrauded: Roads without potholes a fundamental right but not here

Kirity Roy, Secretary Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and National Convenor (PACTI) Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, writes to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** Through this complaint, I want to draw your attention to the plight of the villagers of Nawdapara in the District of North 24 Parganas. The village is situated under the Bagdah Police Station, Bagdah Block and Mama Bhagina Post Office respectively. Nawdapara is a Muslim minority populated village. Indo Bangladesh Border Road (IBBR) passes through the middle of the village. There is a naka checking post of the BSF inside the village and BSF associated with Mama Bhagina Border Out Post, 68 Battalion, ‘B’ Company guard 24 hours in that check post. People have lived in this village since the independence of India. The market is about three to four kilometres away from Nawdapara village. One primary school is situated within the village but the high school is about five to six kilo

How NGO Vaagdhara’s vision of Swaraj became a source of hope in thousand-odd villages

By Bharat Dogra  Vaagdhara is one of the few voluntary organizations in the country which has centered its work around the vision of swaraj—or self-rule based on increasing self-reliance of rural communities. It has worked with this vision for nearly two decades in the tri-junction area of three states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, with most concentration in South Rajasthan (particularly Banswara district). This is a region known for heavy concentration of tribal communities, particularly bhil adivasis. These efforts have so far reached an estimated one hundred thousand (one lakh) households spread over about 1000 villages. The concepts of swaraj, gram swaraj and self-reliance of rural communities have a special significance in the context of tribal communities with their more distinct social and cultural features and identities. In particular there is a clear need to recognize the special strengths and virtues of tribal communities and to build on them on the basis of underst