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Showing posts from September, 2023

Grave injustice to villagers in the name of expanding tourism and parks in Tanzania

Rangers in the REGROW project Area By Bharat Dogra Despite the fact that several highly respected conservationists have been repeatedly advising that the best way of achieving success and sustainability in conservation efforts is by involving local communities in these efforts and not by displacing them, it appears that injustice instead of justice for local villagers is still the path pursued by some authorities and the banks financing them. This certainly appears to have been the sad experience of the villagers including indigenous communities and pastoralists living close to the Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA) in Tanzania. In a new report released on September 28 titled ‘Unaccountable and Complicit’ the Oakland Institute, USA, has exposed in this context “how the World Bank is enabling the violent tactics of the Tanzanian government to increase tourism revenue.” In a strong statement the Oakland Institute has stated, “The expansion plans for RUNAPA are greased by rampant violence and

Still not dead and buried: A rural Punjab move to keep alive the spirit of Naxalbari

By Harsh Thakor  There was a well attended and most lively meeting in memory of Thana Singh of around 2000 persons in Thana Singh’s village of Bhallai Ana in community hall in Muktsar on September 17th, with most encouraging participation of youth. It was a testimony that the spirit of Naxalbari is still not dead and buried with the audience literally reverberating the message of Naxalbari. In spite of every effort of the state to crush the naxalbari movement, it is not dead and buried, as we witnessed here. I was privileged to participate in the event.

Pot calling the kettle black: EAM Jaishankar accusing Global North of double standards

By Chandra Vikash*  While addressing a Ministerial Session on Saturday 23 September 2023 in New York on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session titled ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas’, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that economically dominant countries are leveraging production capabilities and those who have institutional influence have weaponized these capabilities. He also cited an example of Covid-19 and stressed that it is still a world of double standards."

Will India’s foreign policy help genuine claim for permanent seat in UN Security Council?

By Prof Sudhanshu Tripathi*  The foreign policy of India is a distinguished policy statement regarding independent country’s aspirations to play its tryst with destiny. The core or the focal theme of this policy converges over strategic autonomy for the country that it passionately continues to accomplish under all circumstances. But this does not mean that India would ever break the cardinal features of its rich ancient tradition and so-evolved cultural heritage characterized by eternal and universal moral values viz. peace, love, truth, compassion, justice, freedom and many more, until and unless an unfortunate situation so emerges and that too in the context of protecting core national interests like territorial integrity and state sovereignty apart from peace and security of its citizens and their overall well-being and socio-economic welfare including political stability.

Why originality of Gandhi's thoughts, example of his life still inspire people world over

By Moin Qazi*  Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary reopens a familiar debate around his legacy every year. How could a frail man use his moral strength to galvanize 400 million Indians in their struggle for independence from the mighty British Empire? How did Gandhi inspire ordinary people to turn fear into fearlessness and anger into love? What were his tools for fighting colonialism? How could he inspire the world to embrace his philosophy of nonviolence? What can we learn from him today? And is he still relevant?

Dev Anand ably acted as westernised, urban educated, modern hero, as also anti-hero

By Harsh Thakor  On September 26th we celebrated the birth centenary of legendary actor Dev Anand. Dev Saab carved out a new epoch or made a path breaking contribution in portraying romanticism and action in Bollywood cinema, giving his style or mannerisms a new colour. Arguably no Bollywood star manifested glamour in such a dignified or serene manner or struck the core of an audience’s soul in romantic melodies. Possibly we missed this evergreen star being cast in a Hollywood film. Dev Anand is like an inextinguishable soul of Bollywood. Although not as artistic or intense as Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor or Ashok Kumar ,Dev Anand surpassed them all for liveliness or flamboyance, with his performances radiating g energy on the screen, in realms rarely transcended. In his own right, Dev Saab, was a craftsman, like his classical contemporaries, with a characteristic composure. Perhaps never was a Bollywood star so suave, bubbling or charming as Dev Anand, who often looked like an Indian versi

Empowering communities to exercise right to access information from J&K govt bodies

J&K RTI Foundation note on RTI Pend's third event successfully held in Magam:  *** September 25, 2023 marked another significant milestone for RTI Pend as it successfully conducted its third event at the J&K RTI Foundation office in Magam. The event, which saw enthusiastic participation, was dedicated to spreading awareness about the Right to Information (RTI) Act, empowering individuals to exercise their right to access information from government bodies. The event featured Mr. Karar Reshi, the District Coordinator of Baramulla District for J&K RTI Foundation, as the esteemed guest. The discussion, hosted by Mr. Irfan Banka, an anthropologist and the driving force behind RTI Pend, was engaging and insightful. One of the highlights of the informal discussion was the exploration of Section 26 of the Central RTI Act, which delineates the government's responsibility for the implementation of the RTI Act. Participants delved into the significance of the RTI Act, its pro

Sewer workers not given ESI cards that would ensure health benefits they need the most

A note by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), an organization working for the issues of sanitation workers in Delhi NCR, on right to life and dignity which still seems light years away for sewer workers: *** Exploitation of Sewer workers is not just a labour issue, but it is rooted in the caste system and cannot be separated from the historical socio-religious-cultural-economic exploitation of the Dalit community! Stated Mr. Y.S. Gill, Senior Journalist and Documentary Film maker in the press conference organised by Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) in Integrated Social Initiatives (ISI), Lodhi Road, New Delhi on issues of sewer workers in Delhi. The press conference was attended by a number of community members, activists, members of the civil society, students etc.

Why Govt of India, Sangh Parivar want to stop the use of ‘India’? What's in a name?

By Ram Puniyani  Coincidentally after the opposition parties came together to form INDIA (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance), the ruling BJP is desisting from the use of word India in official communiqués and its parent organizations RSS has issued a fatwa that only word Bharat should be used for our country. While inviting the representative’s participants of G 20, the President issued the invitation in the name of ‘Rashtrapati of Bharat’. Since then BJP is on the track of avoiding the use of the word India in all its pronouncements, saying this word smacks of colonial legacy since this word was given to the country by British colonial rulers. Mr. Hemant Biswa Sarma of BJP said that word India is part of the colonial legacy and should be removed. RSS chief and other functionaries have intensified this message. Speaking at a function at Guwahati Mr. Bhagwat, stated “We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak Eng

North Korea is a pretext for U.S. to train forces for preemptive strategy against China

By Dae-Han Song*  July 27 marked the 70th anniversary of the 1953 ceasefire to the Korean War. In the three years leading up to the anniversary, South Korean peace movements organized the international Korea Peace Appeal campaign to replace the armistice agreement with a peace treaty to conclude the 70-plus-year Korean War. The anniversary has come and gone, but, instead of peace, the Joe Biden, Yoon Suk Yeol, and Fumio Kishida administrations are stoking tensions in the Korean Peninsula as a smokescreen to build a NATO-level U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance against China.

Indian youth can choose political career which offers tremendous opportunities

By Sudhansu R Das  The Indian political sector is growing faster than any other sector in the world. This sector has been fully liberalised. Political career in India is open to any age group starting from 25 plus to 90 plus; people with any educational background, even an illiterate person can contest election in India. An old man or woman with multiple organ failure can become leader of a political party; they can control party workers from the hospital bed also. Social status, physical and mental ability seldom stand in the way of a political leader. Advanced age is not an issue which can be reversed with effortless ease. 

Grassroots NGO enlightens people of Kupwara with intricacies of Right to Information

J&K RTI Foundation and Founder Civil Rights Movement Kupwara note on how RTI Pend is empowering Kupwara with insights on Right to Information Act: *** RTI Pend, the grassroots initiative aimed at democratizing access to information, hosted its 2nd event in Kupwara. On the request of the Civil Rights Movement Kupwara, this event was tailored to enlighten the people of Kupwara with the intricacies of the Right to Information Act, presented in their local language and dialects. The event successfully bridged both offline and online participation, addressing queries on the spot and offering applicants practical solutions.

How the merciless Zionist state of Israel is being heroically defied by Palestinians

By Harsh Thakor  State of Israel has boundlessly continued to rip the flesh of the Palestinian people, to champion Zionism. Nevertheless, Palestinians led by the National Liberation Movement with relentless or death defying courage are retaliating the Israeli might, like a phoenix rising from the ashes or cornered tigers .A protracted battle is simmering.

Significant step towards empowering and particularly engaging with informal workers

ActionAid note on drive to empower informal sector workers Odisha with the support of District Labour Department: *** The Odisha Unorganised Workers Social Security Board (OUWSSB) facilitated an Unorganized Workers Awareness Camp at the Red Cross Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The event took place in collaboration with the District Labour Department at Khordha, Centre for Child and Women Development and ActionAid Association. This informative event aimed at empowering informal sector workers by disseminating crucial information regarding their eligibility for various social security schemes provided by the Government of Odisha.

African farmers learn to fight alien invasive species ruining mangoes, other fruits

By Busani Bafana*  Mango farmer Eufria Nyadome used to earn $60 from selling a 20-litre bucket of fresh mangoes and now can barely make $20 even though her mango trees are giving a good yield. She is throwing away buckets of rotten mangoes.

We need to resurrect Neruda, give birth to poets of his kind amidst neofascist rampage

By Harsh Thakor  On 23rd September we commemorate the 50th death anniversary of Pablo Neruda, whose contribution to revolutionary poetry was path breaking. Pablo Neruda’s poetry manifested the spiritual essence of revolutionary poetry and how poetry was a weapon for a revolutionary struggle. The story of his life illustrated the spiritual transformation undergone a human being to transform him into a revolutionary and how environment shapes the lie of revolutionary.

Local NGO Vidya Dham Samiti's food bank helps households facing seasonal hunger

By Bharat Dogra  Jarva Chauki is a village in Atarra rural area of Banda District (Uttar Pradesh). Several households face a livelihood crisis here and at times lack the minimum food stock needed to keep away hunger. These problems increased after the pandemic related distress.

Crucial to revisit roots, embrace core Hindu principles: love, compassion, harmony

A note on religious leaders'  Satya Dharam Samvad in Haridwar: *** In a groundbreaking gathering, more than 25 religious leaders including Swamis, Acharyas, Pujaris, Gurus, and Sadhvis from all over India convened to discuss the tenets of Hinduism on September 16th, 2023, in Haridwar, to discuss and discern the current trajectory of Hinduism. This brand new initiative, the Satya Dharam Samvad, was inspired to organize its first assembly in response to the December 2021 Dharma Sansad, where hate speech and calls for violence against the Muslim community contravened the essential principles of Hinduism. Religion is being used to incite riots among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, etc. In the face of such hatred, Swami Raghavendra felt that something meaningful should be done in the present climate. 

2024 elections in India: An agenda for justice, peace, democracy and environment

By Bharat Dogra  As debates leading up to 2024 union elections in India preceded by some important state assembly become intense, it is not enough to talk about election alignments among various political parties and their seat adjustments; the questions relating to the most important priorities and a future agenda based on justice, equality, peace, environment protection and democracy must get the most importance.

By undermining Dravidian politics, can Tamil Nadu regain glory of Kamaraj governance?

By NS Venkataraman*  For over fifty years now, Tamil Nadu has been ruled by two Dravidian parties namely DMK and AIADMK alternately. Before the Dravidian party came to power, Tamil Nadu was ruled by the congress party and had experienced the golden rule by K. Kamaraj who was succeeded by Bhaktavatsalam for a short period.

Commodification of road accident deaths: The hidden health hazard of motonormativity

By Chandra Vikash*  Jahnavi Kandula, an Indian student from Andhra Pradesh, studying in America was killed in a road accident by a police motor car in January 2023. Now, 8 months after the accident, a bodycam video of Daniel Orderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has gone viral on social media. He was laughing at her death and saying that “she was 26 years old, anyway… she had limited value… just give her $11,000 (ie Rs 9.13 lakh)”.

Understanding universe, time, space: A crucial, unresolved question before humanity

By Prof Sudhanshu Tripathi*  A crucial question before humanity, still unresolved, is to comprehend the true nature and expanse of Time and Space in Universe. If both are indeed limitless, there is no question then to go beyond them. Because both Time and Space are indeed the two key determinants in this mundane world which define the very expanse of the life period of all living organisms and non-living entities and their relative spatial area producing mental and extra-mental consciousness. 

Informal efforts to help children of remote Bundelkhand village unable to go to school

By Bharat Dogra  Rajaram Ka Purva is a remote rural hamlet in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh inhabited by the poorest of the poor. Almost none of the children in this hamlet are able to go to school. The reasons relate to poverty, distance of the nearest school as well as the unsafe path to school.

This Central American country making little effort to eradicate illiteracy in rural areas

By Edgardo Ayala*  El Salvador’s efforts to improve the educational level in the country seem to be falling short, with rundown schools, especially in rural areas, and little progress in overcoming illiteracy. In almost a decade, this Central American country of 6.7 million inhabitants has moved just two percentage points in its fight against illiteracy , going from 11.8 percent in 2013 to 9.7 percent in 2021, the last year with available official data.

Seeking help from Centre, Himachal Pradesh urgently needs to redefine development

By Bharat Dogra  Himachal Pradesh has suffered heavier damage during this monsoon season than in any recent year that most people here can recall. While over 300 people have died and economic damage has been put at Rs. 12,000 crore till early September, given the extreme nature of the devastation the mortality figure could have been much higher but for the noble efforts of many brave rescuers.

Inside Indian energy-mining giant Vedanta's campaign to weaken environmental rules

By Akshay Deshmane  It was 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic was ripping through India, crippling the country’s health system and bringing the economy to a standstill. But for Anil Agarwal, chairman of the energy and mining giant Vedanta Resources Ltd, the crisis presented an opportunity.

Fighting climate change is fighting scarcity and extinction in Chittagong Hill Tracts

A Kapaeeng Foundation note on consultation in partnership with Indigenous Peoples organizations and communities from Asia led by the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) with the support from CIVICUS, as part of preparation for the COP 28 this November in UAE: *** Climate Change is a serious issue that affects the entire species of flora and fauna in the natural world. It further impacts the livelihoods of human beings but affects the Indigenous Peoples the most who depend on nature and forests for their livelihoods. Realizing the urgent need to act against the issue, Kapaeeng Foundation organized a “Community Consultation on Indigenous Peoples Rights and Climate Change” on 26 June 2023 at Rangamati in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The consultation was organized with the support from IPMSDL and CIVICUS. Mr. Pavel Partha, Researcher, Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation was present as resource person in the consultation while Mr.

Hyderabad housing societies have become hotbed of corruption, mismanagement

By Sudhansu R Das  House buyers in Hyderabad have flooded the State government with revenue. Over two decades, villas, apartments and gated housing communities have been mushrooming in and around Hyderabad city; it has phenomenally increased the size of Hyderabad city. People who have invested their lifelong savings and bank loans in buying houses have entered into a far bigger crisis than before.   The majority of the registered housing societies in the city have become the hotbed of corruption and mismanagement. Corrupt people take advantage of the innocent resident members; they enter into the Managing Committees of the societies to loot the societies’ funds. In many societies they eat up the Corpus funds also. Diversion of funds, money laundering and needless expenditures are very much rampant in many housing societies. The resident owners silently suffer; when they lodge complaints, they are harassed by the MC members through different means.  A few housing societies in Hydera

Telengana peasant uprising 1946-51: Path breaking period in Communist movement

By Harsh Thakor  Telengana armed struggle from 1946-51 was path breaking period in the Indian Communist Movement, enabling it to reject the Russian insurrectionist path and emulate the Chinese model. The intensity of the movement escalated people’s democratic power to a scale unparalleled in Indian history. It literally dawned a new era. Revolutionary zeal climbed heights rarely traversed in semi-colonies. The death defying spirit which the comrades displayed in giving a blow to the Nizam ruler of Hyderabad and the Razakar landlords will be written forever in the red letters of history. Tragically it was crushed by the Congress party led by Nehru, who mercilessly ordered the army to swoop on the rebellion, with the Communist Party of India adopting a compromising position. It was ample proof of how Nehru and the Congress party collaborated with the feudal landlord class.

Integration, assimilation of Hindus, Muslims inspired freedom movement in India

  By Bharat Dogra*  It is an undeniable fact of Indian history that all those leaders of the freedom movement who received the greatest support and affection of people were those who had very firm faith in communal harmony. For Jawaharlal Nehru inter-faith harmony was a matter of the deepest commitment and a firm base for the progress of the country.

Brazil where landlords hold complete monopoly but peasants resist tyranny

By Harsh Thakor  Democrats and true progressives are rocked by the implementation of the “Marco Temporal” [Time frame, law which denies the claims of indigenous peoples on their ancestral lands] law at the Commission of the Agrarian Reform and Agriculture of the Chamber of Deputies It will place into oblivion 523 years of genocide and deny five centuries of theft of indigenous lands by the Portuguese invaders and the privileged Brazilian lords of lands and slaves, as well as their descendants and beneficiaries.

How disappearing fish is spelling hard times for women's livelihood in Zimbabwe

By Marko Phiri*  Zimbabwe’s ballooning informal sector has, in recent years, spawned the over-exploitation of the country’s natural resources, with the fisheries taking some of the most felt battering. Amidst challenges brought by economic hardships, fisheries—for long imagined to be an infinite resource by hawkers and fishermen—are providing women with livelihoods against odds brought by climate change and competition from male fishmongers who go into the water.

Victim of bloody coup, Allende inspired Chileans to freedom, democracy, dignity

By Harsh Thakor  September 11th, 1973, marks the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état sparked by army led by Pinochet and the execution of Salvador Allende. One of the highest turning points or defining moments in history of Latin America or the world, in paving breeding ground for neo-fascism or military rule. No more perfect illustration of how the USA government through the Central Intelligence Agency patronised or nurtured military dictatorships to perpetrate their hegemony of neo-colonialism, and penetrate the social base of third world countries.

Job opportunity in unexplored territory... to bulldoze hurdles on way to Akhand Aryavart

By Abdul Puncharwala*  Baba and Mama the Jai-Veeru Jodi of Shuddh desi politics bring an excellent opportunity of employment to all the bright matriculate drop-outs busy with their Insta and YouTube reels. Keep your phones aside for a moment and read this advert carefully. It is going to change your life forever.

Dharna in Vadodara against proposed law aimed at snatching away varsity autonomy

An AISEC Gujarat note on dharna against Common University Act in Vadodara: *** The All India Save Education Committee (AISEC) along with Teachers' Union of all the universities organised an impactful dharna against Common University Act in Vadodara opposite to MS University jointly by AISEC, Abhivyakti ni Azadi, Baroda University Teachers' Association (BUTA), Baroda University Staff Association (BUSA) as well as Students against CUB. Eminent personalities like I. I. Pandya, Dr. Bharat Mehta, Dhiru Mistry, Amee Ravat, Ajay Dave, Narendra Ravat and others participated in Dharna. Prof. Hemantkumar Shah and Dr. Kanu Khadadiya, Joint Secretary, Gujarat Chapter, AISEC, specially came to participate from Ahmedabad. Earlier, an impactful dharna against the Common University Act was organised in Ahmedabad. Also H. D. Patel, President, Sardar Patel University Area Teachers' Association (SPUATA) as well as the former secretary, M. G. Mansuri also came from Vallabh Vidyanagar in solida

J&K activists explore transformative potential of Right to Information Act

J&K RTI Foundation note on RTI Pend Initiative's successful inaugural event, which explores the transformative power of the Right to Information (RTI) for transparency and community empowerment: *** The RTI Pend Initiative, a community-driven platform dedicated to transparency, accountability, and community empowerment, made a significant impact with its inaugural event, "RTI Pend 1st," held on September 10, 2023. The event, both online and at the J&K RTI Foundation's office in Magam, brought together individuals, activists, and community leaders to explore the transformative potential of the Right to Information (RTI). Irfan Banka, a social activist, anthropologist, and the founder of J&K RTI Foundation, assumed the role of host and warmly welcomed participants, setting the stage for a day of engaging discussions and shared insights. Sheikh Maqbool, Co-Founder of J&K RTI Foundation, graced the event as the esteemed guest speaker. His profound insight

‘One Earth, On Family, One Future’ deserves praise but G-20 leaders must face reality

By Bharat Dogra  It is a very commendable effort that the G-20 Summit could issue a common declaration with consensus. The most praiseworthy part of this declaration is the basic precept given on the cover of the declaration—One Earth, One family, One Future. The very first sentence of the declaration says—We are One Earth, One Family, and we share One Future. In keeping with this precept, the declaration also asserts that this is not the era for wars and the world should instead have a common increased commitment to protection of environment, justice, sustainable livelihoods and sustainable development goals.

Children demand Kidizens’20 summit as testament to the power of young voices

By Steve Rocha*  As India welcomed the world leaders for the G20 Summit, over 200 students representing schools and not-for-profits from across the country gathered virtually for the finale of their Kidizens’20 (K20). Kidizens (child-citizens) is a word coined by children themselves to represent their engagement as active citizens of today’s decision-making processes.

Sanatan debate meant to divert real issues, part of design to turn the clock back

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Sanatan debate is growing while important issues are getting ignored. Amidst the heat of this debate there are issues being sidelined or sidetracked by all. Of course, all that is happening despite hosting G-20 or sending our mission Chandrayan on the moon, things at home reflect a growing attempt by the ruling elite to push people back to old system where caste hierarchies work accordingly and every superstition is considered as 'culture' and 'tradition'.

Amidst Sanatan Dharma talk, why religions are necessary in spite of their limitation

By NS Venkataraman*  Kanchi Paramacharya, Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi were amongst the great saints who lived in India and who highlighted the fact that basic approach of all religions are essentially the same and there is really no particular conflict between them, though the rituals and day today practices differ from one religion to another. The saints hailed Sanatana Dharma, evolved by ancient Indian philosophers, as the ultimate universal message to promote human harmony and decisively improve the standard and quality of one’s life. It was stressed that Sanatana Dharma is relevant for all people all over the world for all time to come.

Overall trend towards lesser transparency despite strong Right to Information law

By Bharat Dogra  India has a strong Right to Information (RTI) law that has been considered a model law by many countries. Despite this, in recent times, there have been several complaints that RTI applications are leading to rather evasive replies that are not very helpful leading to more need for appeals to get proper information. Unfortunately, however, even after appeals the proper information is frequently not becoming available in time, one reason being that the arrangement for timely responding to appeals has been weakened at many places. While the situation may not be the same in all the states, an overall decline in the ability to get timely and proper information has been noticed widely.