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Archives for : December2017

Rajasthan – There is death in the air due to sandstone mining

In a village in Rajasthan, silicosis caused by sandstone mining has reached epidemic-like levels

Khemchand Yadav, mine worker and silicosis patient from the village of Dabi in Bundi, Rajasthan   | Photo Credit: Ashish V.

Even as the DGMS study on the extent of silicosis gets under way, more men in Rajasthan passively wait to die

Khemchand Yadav, 70, and Phoru Lal, 55, are neighbours in Dabi village in Rajasthan’s Bundi district. They have similar physical attributes — eyes like bottomless pits set in hollow cheeks and bones sticking out from frail bodies. They cough and draw deep breaths when they talk. They both suffer from silicosis, the fatal respiratory disease.

For most men in this region, and in the neighbouring districts of Kota and Bhilwara, silicosis killed their fathers and they know it will kill their sons. And despite the 7th Asian Mining Congress held last month in Kolkata, where the head of the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) admitted that silicosis was a “concern”, nothing looks likely to change soon.

The entire region is a major sandstone supplier to the international market. In fact, there is no other means of livelihood in Dabi and the villages nearby, where silicosis has reached epidemic-like levels.

DGMS is only now conducting a study to determine the extent of the problem. It has collected 9,000 samples from five or six States, including Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Gujarat.

An occupational lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust found in rock, sand, quartz and other building materials, silicosis is incurable and deadly, but since it affects underprivileged mine workers, it remains unnoticed and mostly under-reported.

The dust has settled

Yadav has four sons between the ages of 40 and 50. They all work in stone mines, as do his two oldest grandsons. All his sons suffer from lung diseases and two are suspected to have silicosis. Yadav carries his and his oldest son Madan Mohan’s chest X-ray and medical certificates around with him. On the X-rays, he points out where the dust has settled in the lungs. All his life he worked in mines, without the slightest suspicion that the dust could be killing him, till he couldn’t breathe any more and the doctor told him why.

In Dabi and across Rajasthan, wherever sandstone mining takes place, death is normalised to an extent that is peculiar. The men die young leaving behind widows who end up working in quarries or carving cobblestone by hand, and children who start working from the age of 12.

Yadav and Lal too started working in the mines when they were children.

As mining and construction activity has increased rapidly over the years, life expectancy is dropping sharply, says Pekham Basu, an independent researcher on mining and silicosis, who has worked in Bundi. “Earlier we would see men dying at the age of 60, now it must be closer to 40,” she says.

There are “villages of widows” in almost every district, villages where the entire male population has died. “It is so deep-rooted, that generation after generation, the same pattern is repeated,” says Rana Sengupta of Mine Labour Protection Campaign, an NGO that works with mine labourers in Rajasthan. “The dust here does not spare anybody, neither those who work in mines nor those who live around it,” he says. “Hamara khandan hi khan mein ghoom gaya (We have lost our family to the mines),” says Yadav, sitting on a charpoy at Lal’s house.

Yadav was diagnosed with silicosis last year. Since then he has been trying to get the ₹1 lakh compensation that the government of Rajasthan gives to “certified” patients.

“We don’t have money to afford a doctor. We are illiterate, but are expected to do all the paperwork to get the relief,” says Yadav’s wife Kinti Bai, who works in a quarry, carrying crushed stones on her head. The family is in debt after paying for the treatment of her husband and their sons, she says.

Cumbersome process

Rajasthan has the highest number of mine leases (close to 35,000 mines, according to a 2015 report by the Department of Mines and Geology, Rajasthan), and has been at the centre of the silicosis debate in the country. A large number of its nearly 2.5 million mine-workers are under threat, with sandstone miners at even greater risk because sandstone has some of the highest quantities of silica. There were 125 confirmed cases of silicosis in Bundi in 2015, and 113 in 2016, according to government data.

Even though silicosis can be prevented through wet drilling and protective gear, most mines in Rajasthan are small-scale and unorganised, the workers are recruited informally, without contracts, and health and safety rules are not enforced. The mine owners get away with the least amount of culpability and do nothing to improve the work conditions.

“We need a cultural shift where both the regulator and the miners put their minds to making mining safer,” said P.K. Sarkar, the Director-General of DGMS, at the Mining Congress, adding that policing day-to-day affairs would be tough as the mining industry gets bigger.

In Rajasthan, the families of those who die of silicosis are entitled to ₹3 lakh. “It might be one of the worst-affected States, yet it is the only one to have a mechanism for monetary relief,” says P.K. Sishodiya, consultant on occupational health to the Rajasthan government. But getting the diagnosis and then the compensation is a long and cumbersome process for workers. Since 2013, the State has provided monetary relief to 12,000 patients, though the actual numbers of those affected by silicosis are much higher, according to researchers and activists.

Lal has been suffering for eight years and was repeatedly misdiagnosed and treated for tuberculosis. The failure to detect silicosis is not uncommon either. His silicosis was confirmed only a few months ago, he says, almost with relief. Lal is aware that this means certain death, but he is desperate to receive compensation so that his family can pay off the debts incurred for his treatment.

Similar stories

Breaking the inter-generational cycle of debt and death is not easy. In 2013, the State Human Rights Commission and the Rajasthan government decided to pull out one member from each family and provide them with skills training for jobs apart from mining, says M.K. Devarajan, former member of the commission. It has not been implemented till date. “There is no literacy and agriculture is not reliable. We have to provide alternatives to them away from the mines.”

Every family tells a similar story. Mangi Lal is in his 60s and a mine worker. He has all the symptoms of silicosis — fever, chest pain, shortness of breath. He has been examined and rejected several times by the Pneumoconiosis Board. But in his heart Mangi Lal knows he has silicosis. He fears only that he might die before the disease is confirmed. As Lal says matter-of-factly, “We know that if death doesn’t come for you now, it will come for you later.”

 

http://www.thehindu.com/society/theres-death-in-the-air-here-in-dabi-village-in-rajasthan-silicosis-caused-by-sand-mining-has-reached-epidemic-like-levels/article21241289.ece

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US -Don’t Look to India’s Universal ID System as Model for Biometrics to Replace Social Security Numbers

 

India’s leading financial newspaper, The Economic Times, featured a piece today, You can’t make citizens safer by making them more vulnerable. Aadhaar does exactly that that spotlighted flaws in India’s Aadhaar universal identification number scheme– including its undue reliance on biometrics.

As I discussed at greater length in an October post, Biometric ID Fairy: A Misguided Response to the Equifax Mess that Will Only Enrich Cybersecurity Grifters and Strengthen the Surveillance State, the Aadhaar system is being held up as a model by those who would like to capitalize on the Equifax data breach by replacing US Social Security numbers with a biometric identification system.

Given that the Aadhaar scheme is being touted as a model for the US to consider, I thought it would be worth spelling out some of its flaws, many of which are well known in India but with which the core of Naked Capitalism’s readership is not familiar.

Linkage of Accounts to Aadhaar

The Government of India and its various bureaucracies, aided and abetted by Indian courts, are mandating widespread use and linkage of accounts to the twelve-digit Aadhaar number. Thus, Indians must now supply an Aadhaar number when they apply for a bank account, as well as link any existing accounts to that number (otherwise, the bank account is frozen). SIM cards are tightly controlled in India, and Indians must now link their Aadhaar number to their mobile ‘phone accounts (including mobile wifi systems).

The use of Aadhaar doesn’t stop there and is in fact accelerating, according today’s  Economic Times piece:

Next year, there is a plan to roll out Aadhaar-linked programmes like a Public Credit Registry with transaction data, and the National Health Information Network electronic health records. The risk of personal information leaks increases with more services getting linked to Aadhaar due to security vulnerabilities, or sheer incompetence of the government or third parties.

A couple of problems flow from this centralizing approach. First, the more basic services and accounts are linked to Aadhaar, the greater the consequences that follow from potential hacks. For not only will financial information be compromised by such a hack, but also mobile phone service, and all and any other services linked to the Aadhaar number.

Second, as today’s Economic Times piece makes clear,the terrorism boogeyman is being trotted out to justify a steady surrender of privacy– even though wider Aadhaar verification may actually supply a false sense of security. Once a person produces an Aadhaar number, it’s assumed that it was legitimately obtained– when that may indeed not be the case:

In October 2016, Delhi Police busted an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy ring and found that Mehmood Akhtar had an Aadhaar card naming him as Mehboob Rajput. In May this year, the Central Crime Branch found that three Pakistanis had obtained Aadhaar cards in Bengaluru through a middleman for Rs 100 each. More recently, Zeebo Asalina, an Uzbek national arrested in Orissa, had an Aadhaar card naming her as Duniya Khan.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman and former CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) R S Sharma suggested … that security agencies may have a better chance of nabbing potential terrorists if all mobile connections are verified using Aadhaar. There is a major flaw in this assertion.

….

What is common in the aforementioned cases is that these Aadhaar cards were based on forged documents. Since UIDAI does not conduct verification by itself, it retains the flaws of these documents and is not ‘fraud-resistant’. In fact, once they have Aadhaar, things may get easier for potential terrorists, given the incorrect perception that it is foolproof (my emphasis.)

Touchingly Naive Faith in Biometric Fairy

I want to highlight another problem: the misplaced overreliance on biometrics. The single most serious problem with such reliance – which I discussed in my October piece cited above–is that unlike a number, once compromised, your biometrics– fingerprints, eyeballs, DNA– cannot be changed. Another October Economic Times piece, Watch out, Aadhaar biometrics are an easy target for hackers expands on the security vulnerabilities of relying on such systems for authenticating identity:

Biometric data, unlike passwords, can never be changed, so if hackers successfully impersonate a fingerprint then they can cause serious havoc, and there is not much the victim will be able to do about it.

With the recent government policies making biometrics the central identity verifier via Aadhaar information, a billion consumers could be walking a thin line between security and convenience. Though it becomes extremely convenient to make transactions via a single touch on your smartphone, it also means that all a malicious hacker needs to get is your fingerprint. Once he gets that, there’s no stopping. Identity theft and fraudulent transactions may just be the beginning.

Now, the government of India had averred  that the biometric information collected under the Aadhaar system is secure.  [Jerri-Lynn here: They would, wouldn’t they?] But as the article continues,  that is not, actually the case:

The government claimed that Aadhaar is completely secure, and the data of the consumers was absolutely safe from any malicious party until a severe flaw was detected in the system. The bug allowed a malicious operator to save a user’s biometrics and simply use it to carry out transactions on the victim’s behalf via replaying the saved biometrics.

What I found particularly worrying is the ease with which fingerprints can be stolen:

Hackers can easily clone your fingerprints to gain access to your life. What’s scarier is that it’s neither too costly nor too difficult.

Fingerprints can be picked up from daily objects easily or mass attacks are possible if the servers of UIDAI are hacked. Hackers can also skim fingerprints via malicious biometric devices just as with infected credit card machines. The problem here though is that you can block your credit card but not your fingerprint.

The possibilities expand when 3-D printing technology is brought into play:

This can be done via digitally replaying the print to authenticate applications and transactions. Another possibility is to use 3D-model printers to simply make a physical copy of the print. It is even possible to make physical fingerprint replicas using simple dental moulds and some playing dough. According to a research at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University in the US, fingerprints can be replicated in less than $500 with conductive ink fed through a normal inkjet printer, in a procedure that takes less than 15 minutes. According to researchers at CITER, the disturbing thing about fingerprints is they can be hacked just by using everyday items like some dental mould to take a cast, some playing dough to fill it. All they need is an impression of a person’s fingerprint. Using the cloned fingerprint, the hacker can enter every mobile application or devices that use the fingerprint as a security measure.

Yikes.

The same October Economic Times piece discusses simple ways to hack other types of biometric identification: including facial recognition, retinal scans, and voice recognition.

So, it appears that the biometric ID fairy is actually not going to save the day here.

In fact, the opposite is actually the case, with the rush to widen Aadhaar creating a serious risk of potential catastrophe.

Regular readers are well aware of the misery and economic chaos that followed from Prime Minister Modi’s botched demonetisation plan– which I discussed on several occasions, most recently in Remember, Remember the Eighth of November: India’s War on Cash Assessed One Year Later. (See also other coverage hereherehereherehere, and here.) One reason demonetisation was such a debacle is that India remains a largely cash-based economy, and simply lacks the digital infrastructure that might have allowed its residents to cope with the nearly instantaneous cancellation of most of its currency in November 2016– and the failure to supply replacement currency quickly, and in sufficient amounts, to allow for normal economic activity to continue.

But don’t just take my word for the poor state of India’s digital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. See this piece from yesterday’s The Wire, Alongside Modi’s Digital India, a Mounting Pile of Unanswered Network Quality Complaints, discussing how India’s deficient digital infrastructure is thwarting the drive to shift Indians away from cash and toward more digital transactions:

A year after demonetisation, an examination of complaints received by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) shows that thousands of people across the country are struggling to make online transactions due to the lack of a mobile signal or because they receive their OTP (one-time password) messages three or four hours after they initiate a transaction.

These complaints aren’t restricted to a particular provider but instead point to a systematic quality of service issue.

The quality of service problems associated with India’s telecom network has been well documented. While the total data payload in the country’s network grew over 60% last year, India ranked 89 among 100 countries in terms of average mobile internet connection speeds. Various reports over the last two years have shown how frequent call and packet drops, network outages and congested networks result in poor coverage and increased download times.

Hacking Aadhaar and Digital Infrastructure

As the October Economic Times piece discusses, the potential for hacking Aadhaar also poses another threat to this digital infrastructure, if and when it ever gets up and running:

The government has made Aadhaar mandatory for Indian citizens to avail of many government services. Aadhaar is being used almost everywhere now. If the data gets leaked, unlike changing your passwords or creating a new account, people won’t be able to change their fingerprints or their facial structure. The digital infrastructure that the government is trying to push all across the country can come crumbling down if proper security measures are not at place.

The glorious dream of Digital India could simply be a disaster if a billion countrymen finally get digitalised and a single hack gives malicious hackers a lifetime access to their digital assets and identity.

Second Thoughts?

India is marching full speed ahead on Aadhaar plans, at a time when other countries– Estonia, Spain– are having second thoughts about such arrangements and in spite of the considerable burdens–mainly time and hassle– it imposes. I happen to be visiting India at the moment, and just a couple of weeks ago, I accompanied a friend as he purchased a new SIM card and wifi hotspot device. As I mentioned above, India tightly controls issuance of SIM cards. And the process my friend had to undergo to purchase a new wifi connection was anything but simple, requiring him to supply name, address, his mobile number; produce his Aadhar card; and be fingerprinted. Had to be seen to be believed!

This same friend mentioned that he’d just received notification from his mobile phone company, requiring him to verify a new account he’d opened in July– even though he’d supplied his Aadhaar number when he created that account. I know the plural of anecdote is not data, but imagine the costs Aadhaar is imposing, with everyone having to make time, in person, to produce an Aadhaar card and verify telecoms accounts (not to mention bank accounts, etc.) And that’s just the start of it.

This is in contrast to the situation in London, where last time I visited, SIM cards were available in vending machines. Many other Asian countries– Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand– make it similarly easy to purchase a “burner” SIM– for use in a ‘phone, dongle, or other digital device. Same in Australia, New Zealand, the US.

Today’s Economic Times article mentions in passing what I think is the crux of the matter:

The [Indian government’s] cavalier attitude towards privacy — that privacy cannot be at the cost of innovation — which Union information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad put forth at the prestigious Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) in New Delhi on November 23, indicates the willingness to put citizens’ personal safety at risk: that your privacy is a price that GoI is willing to pay for making it easier for businesses to be built around your data.

Or, to make a slightly different point:  creating Aadhaar and and other similar technological solutions from scratch provide spectacular opportunities for grift– and that is perhaps the primary reason that so many are cheering on such efforts so loudly– despite their myriad deficiciencies.

Bottom Line

This is not a model that the US should seek to follow, as it considers what policy should be adopted in the wake of the Equifax hack. The current Social Security number system is not without its flaws, but biometrics are no panacea, either.

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/11/dont-look-indias-universal-is-system-model-biometrics-replace-social-security-numbers.html

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Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy arrested again- ‘Govt responsible if I die’

The top leader of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist is facing trial in several cases.

Days after he was released from the Visakhapatnam Central Prison in Andhra Pradesh, Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy was arrested by the Jharkhand police in Achampet in Telangana’s Nagarkurnool district on Saturday.

According to reports, Ghandy was at an Achampet court for a hearing on an old case, following which he planned to travel to Mumbai.

DC reported that the case which was pending since 2010, and pertained to an attack on the Amrabad police station, where Ghandy was charged with possessing explosives to help the Maoists.

A soon as Ghandy came out of the Achampet court, a police team from Jharkhand was waiting outside and whisked him away. It was also reported that the team was accompanied by officials from the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB).

Activists protested after the Jharkand police allegedly flew him to Ranchi without producing him in a Hyderabad court, citing paucity of time.

The Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) has also condemned the arrest of Kobad, terming it as “illegal detention.”

‘Undemocratic methods’

Soon after his arrest, a hand written press note, purportedly written by Ghandy began doing the rounds on social media.

“After being acquitted in all cases and spending eight years and three months in jail, when I, Kobad Ghandy was finally released from jail, I was re-arrested by the Jharkhand Police just three days after release. On Dec 16, 2017, I was attending the Achempet Court (near Hyderabad), the Jharkhand, accompanied by the APSIB arrested me and took me by flight to Ranchi,” the letter read.

“I am 71 years old and have serious health ailments. Immediately after release, I had a check-up at the Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, which recommended at least one month’s complete rest. It is clear the police methods are being used to kill legally, given I am 71 years old and in very poor health. Since seven years, they did not bother about this case, but in order to keep me in jail as an undertrial indefinitely, they arrested me immediately on release,” he added.

In conclusion, the letter signed by Ghandy says, “If anything serious happens to my health in jail with this arrest, I will hold the government responsible. Given that I have been acquitted in all cases, that most have been acquitted in this case, and my age and health condition, demand my immediate release.”

Background

The top leader of outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, who was facing trial in several cases including murder and sabotage, was granted bail by courts in five cases.

Ghandy was brought to the jail in Visakhapatnam in April this year in connection with eight cases but was acquitted in three of them.

Arrested in Delhi in 2009 when he was trying to set up a network in the national capital, Ghandy was charged under the Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code.

He was initially lodged in Cherlapally central jail in Hyderabad for three months in connection with the assassination of former Congress legislator C. Narsi Reddy in August 2005.

Ghandy was also facing trial in the murder of former Andhra Pradesh Assembly speaker D. Sripada Rao in 1999 and for a conspiracy to kill the personnel of anti-Maoist force Greyhounds and police in Gunurkayi village of Visakhapatnam district in 2008.

According to police, the former member of the Central Committee of Maoist outfit was allegedly operating with several alias including Azad, Aravind, Kamal and Saleem and had links with revolutionary groups in various countries including Philippines, Peru and Nepal.

In 2015, the ailing Maoist leader went on a hunger strike in Tihar Jail to protest his repeated transfer in jail wards.

He was acquitted by Delhi’s Patiala House Court last year but he remained in prison due to other cases pending against him.

Ghandy, who studied in prestigious Doon School in Dehradun and Elphinstone College, Mumbai, was reportedly elected to the Maoist Politburo in 2007 and went underground after the merger of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India in 2004.

 

IANS inputs

 

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Blatant Violation of SC order on Aadhaar linkage by SBI

 

Anadish Pal

On Dec 16th morning  there was a recorded voice in an e-Rickshaw going around in our locality warning people to link their Aadhaar with their bank accounts by 31 Dec 2017, otherwise the accounts might face problems

 

A blatantly devious trick to fool people and to do scaremongering — plus contempt of the highest court of this land.

The video not only shows the e-Rickshaw, the SBI banner but also the SBI branch (Vaishali, Pitampura, Delhi 110034) which might have sponsored this contempt-of-court act.

Just imagine such a brazen contempt of the Supreme Court’s yesterday’s Order in the Capital of the Democratic Republic of India by the topmost government bank — and that too with such fanfare!!

 

 

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Hitler’s Hindus: The Rise and Rise of India’s Nazi-loving Nationalists

 

 

The ‘Hitler’s Den’ pool parlor that shocked me on a round-India trip 10 years ago was no outlier. Admiration for Nazism – often reframed with a genocidal hatred for Muslims – is rampant in the Hindu nationalist camp, which has never been as mainstream as it is now

 

Shrenik Rao

July 2008. I was on a cycling expedition, from the southernmost tip of India to its most northern state. Along the way, I took a pit stop at Nagpur, the geographic center of India and the epicenter of Hindu nationalism. There, I saw a building with a bizarre name: “Hitlers Den.” A pool parlor, its walls were emblazoned with tacky Nazi insignia, and on its shopfront – a swastika on full public display.

The "Hitlers Den" pool parlor in Nagpur, epicenter of Hindu nationalism

The swastika is not an unusual symbol in India. It’s ubiquitous. Markets, shops, homes, temples, vehicles, notebooks, property documents and even shaved heads are smeared with vermilion or turmeric swastikas, often with the words “Shubh Labh,” meaning “good fortune.”

But this was most definitely Hitler’s Nazi swastika – a tilted version of the Hindu swastika on a black background. This blatant display of Nazi symbolism was odd. What was “Hitler’s Den” doing in the middle of Nagpur? I wondered. I brushed it off as stupidity and cycled on.

 

The “Hitlers Den” pool parlor in Nagpur, epicenter of Hindu nationalismShrenik Rao/Madras Courier
Ironically, Hitler – the genocidal maniac who murdered more than six million Jews, who propagated a Nazi ideology that promoted hatred, Aryan racial puritanism and white supremacy – continues to find many followers in India, a nation of predominantly brown-skinned people.

Here, Hitler’s brand of fascism has taken on a distinctly Indian flavour, authenticated with a combination of ethnic hatred and Hindu nationalism, in stark contrast to the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) that accompanied India’s freedom struggle.

 

Recently, browsing through Facebook threw up an eerie shock. “Hari Om Heil Hitler,” said a post next to an image of a young Hitler, followed by a paean to Aryan values. The cover picture read, “Aum, Hail Aryan, Hail Aryavart,” meaning “Hail Aryans, Hail Land of the Aryans.” On display is his German screen name – “Kemradschaft Jeet.”

His feed is full of Nazi insignia with images of Hitler and graphics of Vishnu, a Hindu god known for several reincarnations. “Adolf Hitler, the ultimate avatar,” said one image. “India’s Swastika God,” said another. Their posts reflect an oft-repeated theory in neo-Nazi web forums, that Hitler was a reincarnation of Vishnu.

Vile anti-Semitic obloquy accompanied it: “Germany is now a Rabbit under the shelter of Jewish Finance,” “With the Hollywood movie industry and the majority of U.S. television networks, newspapers and publishing houses Jewish-owned, for nearly 70 years, the demonization of Adolf Hitler has been almost relentless.”

Rajesh Shah, one of the Indian owners of the Hitler clothing store poses in a t-shirt adorned with an image of Mahatma Gandhi, in front of his shop in Ahmedabad, August 28, 2012.

Rajesh Shah, one of the Indian owners of the Hitler clothing store poses in a t-shirt adorned with an image of Mahatma Gandhi, in front of his shop in Ahmedabad, August 28, 2012.AFP PHOTO/Sam PANTHAKY

 

His friends comment in chorus: “Jai Shree Ram, Heil Hitler” (“Hail Shree Ram, Heil Hitler”), “Nazi the great,” “Hitler was supporter of Indian Nationalist.” Many of them shared a YouTube video with over 100,000 hits, entitled “Adolf Hitler, The Greatest Story Never Told,” alongside the salutation “Jai Hind” (“Victory to India,” an independence-era slogan.)

These posts are a putrid mix of anti-Semitic racism, misogyny and extreme Hindu nationalism. Evoking the widely held myth of Aryan racial superiority (appropriated to refer to “Aryan” Indians) and the Nazi propaganda of the “sacralization of terror, embodied in the Kshatriya code and the Bhagavad-Gita,” these posts reflect the belief that Hitler was born to end Kali Yuga, the dark age of Hindu mythology.

As one post reads: “If we go to North East [of India] we find mixed races of Mongoloids and many more cases where pure Aryan bloodline was lost.”

Digging into social media reveals that there is a large and growing community of Indian Hindu Nazis, who are digitally connected to neo-Nazi counterparts across the world.

Other social media sites and online platforms too had their share of strange, yet fanatical admiration for Hitler, reframed with Hindu nationalism. “Hitler was great,” said “Hindu Hitler” on rediff.com, a popular Indian web portal. “I too love Hitler and am one of his biggest fans! Hail Hitler!” said one comment on a YouTube channel run by NewsX, a 24-hour English-language news television channel in India. I also found India-based WhatsApp groups discussing Hitler’s “positive contributions.” They portrayed him as Germany’s great leader, a “patriotic nationalist,” who “punished the “traitors.”

This strange adulation for Hitler has already gone beyond social media and entered our educational system. Schools across India have, wittingly or not, propagated Hitler’s “achievements.”

Temple worshippers with hindu swastika.

Not a Nazi: The traditional Hindu swastika, seen here on a temple worshipper’s shaven head, sits squarely on one of its ‘wings’ unlike the Nazi symbolRiyaz Shaik / Madras Courier

In 2004, when now-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, school textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board portrayed Hitler as a hero, and glorifyied fascism. The tenth-grade social studies textbook had chapters entitled “Hitler, the Supremo,” and “Internal Achievements of Nazism.” The section on the “Ideology of Nazism” reads:

“Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race.”

The tenth-grade social studies textbook, published by the state of Tamil Nadu in 2011 (with multiple revised editions until 2017) includes chapters glorifying Hitler, praising his “inspiring leadership,” “achievements” and how the Nazis “glorified the German state” so, “to maintain a German race with Nordic elements, [Hitler] ordered the Jews to be persecuted.”

In 2012, when tenth-grade students taking French lessons at a private school in Mumbai were asked to complete a sentence starting with “J’admire” followed by the name of the historical figure they admired most, nine out of 25 students picked Hitler. Students in the south Indian city of Madurai justified their admiration for Hitler, without even knowing that he was the leader of Germany.

"Mein Kampf" on sale at Mumbai international airport, December 2017.

“Mein Kampf” on sale at Mumbai international airport, December 2017.Shrenik Rao / Madras Courier

 

Mein Kampf has also gone mainstream, becoming a “must-read” management strategy book for India’s business school students. Professors teaching strategy lecture about how a short, depressed man in prison made a goal of taking over the world and built a strategy to achieve it.

This infamous polemic remains a money-spinner for publishers. English-language editions of Mein Kampf are published by a number of reputable Indian publishing houses, such as Jaico, Printline, Indialog, Maple Press, Mastermind, Prakash, Om Books, Rohan, Adarsh, Ajay, Embassy, Lexicon and Wilco. They fill bookshelves at airports, bookstores and online marketplaces, while cheap pirated versions fill pavement stalls in major cities. Crossword, the Indian book-retailing chain, has sold 25,000 copies in three years. Jaico alone sold 100,000 copies in seven years. It has also been translated into multiple Indian languages – Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengal and Tamil – and those editions are sold across India.

It is certainly alarming that young people think it’s “cool” to admire a murderous maniac. Is it the result of the naivety of youth, or of a sustained campaign of political patronage by Hindu nationalists?

In casual conversations, a surprising number of well-read, globe-trotting Indians shared a respectful, almost fanatical, admiration for Hitler. “This country needs a dictator like Hitler,” is a common trope I have heard from well-educated Indians with degrees from some of the best universities in the world. A poll conducted by the Times of India in 2002 found that 17 percent favored Adolf Hitler as “the kind of leader India ought to have.” It is not surprising then, that ice creams, pool parlors, restaurants, clothing stores, home furnishing stores, films and television shows have all chosen to use “Hitler” or “Nazi” as their brand names.

Indian policemen arrest an activist from India's Hindu hardline group Shiv Sena, after he tried to immolate himself during a protest against the non-Indian origins of prime minister-elect Sonia Gandhi. Bhopal May 18, 2004.

Indian policemen arrest an activist from India’s Hindu hardline group Shiv Sena, during a protest against the non-Indian origins of prime minister-elect Sonia Gandhi, .

Bhopal May 18, 2004.REUTERS/Raj Patidar

Several Indian politicians have built formidable careers evoking Hitler’s ideology and publicly professing their admiration for him. “It is a Hitler that is needed in India today,” said Bal Thackeray, the leader of the Hindu extremist outfit Shiv Sena, in 1967.

Known for his exceptional bigotry, xenophobia and hate-mongering, his fascist ideology is eerily similar to, if not an exact replica of, the genocidal Nazi ideology. He has a track record of inciting tensions among Mumbai’s communities, urging Hindus to form suicide squads to kill Muslims. But he hasn’t stopped at “tactical” acts of violence: He has created a distinct brand of Hindu fascism which explicitly seeks inspiration in Nazi genocide.

“There is nothing wrong,” he said in a chilling interview in 1993 with Time magazine, “if Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.” Citing Hitler’s infamous polemic, he tried to apply fascist ideology in the Indian context. “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word ‘Jew’ and put in the word ‘Muslim’, that is what I believe in,” he said.

His nephew and political successor, Raj Thackeray, took the baton. Speaking to journalists in 2009, he made this statement: “When it comes to organizational skills, there are few who can rival Hitler … there are several other things about Hitler, which any leader would envy.”

Volunteers of the extreme Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in the "Path-Sanchalan," or Route March in Ajmer, India, September 30, 2017.

Volunteers of the extreme Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in the “Path-Sanchalan,” or Route March in Ajmer, India, September 30, 2017.REUTERS/Himanshu Sharma
Nagpur, where I saw “Hitlers Den,” the pool parlor, has a unique connection to the Nazi leader. Here, he is a great hero for the leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the right-wing Hindu organization headquartered in the city. It’s the group from which current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also Nathuram Godse, the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi, emerged.

VD Savarkar, an extreme Hindu nationalist and early mentor of the RSS, had a great liking for Hitler’s Nazism and supported Hitler’s anti-Jewish pogroms. “There is no reason to suppose that Hitler must be a human monster because he passes off as a Nazi,” he said, addressing a Hindu gathering in 1940, adding, “Nazism proved undeniably the savior of Germany.” Seeking to purge Muslims from India, he wrote: “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslim friends of the League type will have to play the part of German-Jews instead.”

This fanatical admiration for Hitler and his genocidal agenda is not an aberration. It was, and still is, endemic among the RSS leadership. MS Golwalkar, another early RSS leader, also known as the “Guru of Hate,” idolized Hitler’s Nazi cultural nationalism, and wanted to create a Hindu nation by adopting Hitler’s totalitarian and fascist pattern. In his 1939 book, We, Our Nationhood Defined, he wrote:

“German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews … a good lesson for us in Hindustan for us to learn and profit by.”

This is not a careless, thoughtless evocation, rather a carefully planned political move.

Mohammed Ali Jan Khan, front, prays at a mosque in the the village of Bishara on the outskirts of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015.

Mohammed Ali Jan Khan, front, prays at a mosque in the the village of Bishara on the outskirts of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015.Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg
Banned three times and named a terrorist organization, the RSS has now regained political center stage with Modi’s prime ministership. With branches in more than 50,000 villages, there is growing support for a violent, fascist ideology.

A bizarre new strand of Hindu Nazism, particularly among the young, is rearing its ugly head. It’s menacing, to say the least. Its leaders boast of killing India’s minorities and beheading their political opponents, while promoting aggressive Hindu nationalism on narrow religious and ethnic terms.

A growing contempt for India’s minorities manifests itself racist remarks passed with casual insouciance.

It’s not uncommon to hear remarks such as “These bloody Jews/Rothschilds/Soros control the world/financial system/whole of Hollywood.” The number of Jews in India is very small. Yet there is, despite a long-held belief to the contrary, anti-Semitism. “These Christian missionaries deserve to be hanged – they are only interested in conversions” is another frequent comment. Only 2.4% of India’s population is Christian. Yet they are constantly attacked. When it comes to India’s Muslims, the invective is multiplied exponentially.

Performers wait for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address an election campaign meeting ahead of Gujarat state assembly elections, in Ahmedabad, India, December 3, 2017.

Performers wait for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address an election campaign meeting ahead of Gujarat state assembly elections, in Ahmedabad, India, December 3, 2017.REUTERS/Amit Dave

How can so many Hindu Indians be convinced that they suffer second-class status in a country where they number almost 82% of the population?

As Khushwanth Singh wrote in 2003, “The juggernaut of Hindu fundamentalism has emerged from the temple of intolerance, and is on its yatra [on the march]. … The fascist agenda of Hindu fanatics is unlike anything we have experienced in our modern history.”

The idea of India is based on the foundations of communal harmony, mutual respect and secular values. Now, it’s up to us to ensure our Indian political parties and constituencies don’t hijack Hinduism, a peaceful religion, with a repurposed Nazism that advocates the same genocidal intentions as Hitler, but this time round directed at our own minority communities.

A Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and an alumnus of the London School of Economics, Shrenik Rao is a digital entrepreneur and filmmaker. Rao revived the Madras Courier, a 232-year-old newspaper, as a digital publication of which he is the Editor-in-Chief. Twitter: @ShrenikRao

This article has been co-published with the Madras Courier.

 

Shrenik Rao
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.828702

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India -3 Caveats in 3 Days : Signs of These Times

Then, B.R.Ambedkar drafts the Constitution; Now, Saffron flag on Udaipur court to support self confessed communal killer.


 NEW DELHI: The right wing has found a new hero in Shambu Lal Regar who brutally hacked to death a Muslim labourer Mohammad Afrazul in Rajasthan, with a mob clashing with the cops on duty outside the Udaipur District and Sessions Court. Photographs of a man climbing the court building and holding a Saffron flag are now making the rounds with the Dainik Bhaskar reporting the incident.

Several policemen were injured, including an Additional Superintendent of Police. Some of the violent protesters were detained. A silent rally was taken out by Hindu right organisations soon after in Udaipur to protest against the arrest of the protestors and demand their immediate release. The police, completely on the defensive, are now trying to cope with a tense Udaipur and reach a face saving agreement with the aggressive groups.

Image result for bsp legislator hit for taking oath in urdu aligarh mayor

Caveat 2:

Carol singers were attacked by a mob in Madhya Pradesh. But instead of the attackers, the Christians celebrating Christmas, have been detained by the Satna police.The Catholic Bishops Conference of India expressed concern over the incident, and confirmed that the vehicles of priests were also torched by the mob. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX, Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told the media that a group of 30 seminarians and two priests from St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna were detained for routine carol singing saying, “what is even more shocking is that eight priests who later went to inquire about the detained prisest and seminarians were also taken into custody. Shamefully the situation outside the police station was allowed to be so hostile that even those who wanted to approach the detained persons could get no access to them.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India expressed its “shock, pain and hurt at the unprovoked violence against Catholic Priests and Seminarians.”

The incident has created panic among the small Christian community of the district town ahead of the Christmas season.

Caveat 3:

The Bahujan Samaj party won two Mayor seats in Uttar Pradesh in the recent elections. Two days ago the newly elected Mayor of Aligarh Mohammad Furqan took his oath in Urdu that led to a scuffle with the BJP members protesting loudly against the move. Efforts to point out that Urdu was a recognised language under the Constitution did not help.

A few days ago BSP leader Sunita Verma, who was elected mayor of Meerut Municipal Corporation or Nagar Nigam, revoked her predecessor’s order to make the singing of ‘Vande Mataram’ mandatory. She said only the national anthem will be sung at the start of every board meeting of Meerut municipal corporation.

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Odisha – Tribal Woman delivers in drain next to hospital after doctors refuse admission

Denied hospital admission, Odisha woman gives birth in drain

Koraput (Odisha) [India] December 16 (ANI): In a shocking incident, a 30-year-old tribal woman delivered a baby girl in an unused drain on the premises of a hospital on Friday after she was allegedly denied admission.

According to the woman’s relatives, the Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College and Hospital refused to admit her without the required medical documents.

The authorities later admitted the mother, identified as Daina Muduli, and her newborn to the hospital after she lay unattended for nearly an hour.

“The child was shifted to the special neo-natal care unit and the mother was admitted to the general ward. Both the mother and child are stable,” hospital superintendent Sitaram Mohapatra told ANI.

Daina Muduli, a resident of Janiguda village in Dasmantpur block, had come to the hospital in the district headquarter town on Thursday with her mother and sister to meet her husband Raghu Muduli, who had been admitted on Wednesday because of fever.

On Friday morning, Daina felt labour pains and visited the gynecology ward but the staff allegedly refused to admit her.

“The staff refused to admit my daughter as we had not brought the required documents. Hence, my daughter gave birth in the drain,” said Gouramani Muduli, Daina’s mother.

When contacted, Koraput chief district medical officer Lalit Mohan Rath denied the allegations, terming them ‘baseless’.

An investigation is underway. (ANI)

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No ‘paid sex’ without #Aadhaar card in Goa

Gauree Malkarnekar| TNN | 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The “danger” is from police who are cracking down on flesh trade in the state.
  • Agents and pimps don’t want to leave anything to chance and verify customers‘ identity with Aadhaar card to ensure they are not police decoys.

 

PANAJI: Banks and cellphone companies aren’t the only ones demanding your Aadhaar cardPimps in Goa are also making it mandatory, as a group of five young men from Delhi discovered recently.

The men, who flew in for their friend’s bachelor party, landed in Goa with a “contact” in hand. After booking into a hotel in the North Goa beach belt, they called up the “contact” and made enquiries for five girls.

The man promised to revert soon. For the next few hours, the group waited in anticipation while the man got busy verifying the cellphone number of the customer. Having established the caller was genuinely from Delhi, the man called back, this time demanding they send a photograph of each of their Aadhaar cards via WhatsApp. He also wanted a photo of their room keys with the hotel tag attached to it.

Baffled, the Delhi group complied. At the other end began a detailed background check on the men, including a survey of the area near the hotel premises for any impending danger.

The “danger” is from police who are cracking down on flesh trade in the state. Agents and pimps don’t want to leave anything to chance and verify customers’ identity with Aadhaar card to ensure they are not police decoys.

“Even after so many checks, the number of girls demanded will not be delivered. Pimps refrain from supplying many girls at once because if 5-10 of them are caught in one police raid, their entire earning collapses,” says a police officer.

Many tourists arrive in Goa lured by websites and social media forums promising escorts and call girls. “Ninety per cent of these cases end up with the tourist being cheated,” says an officer, and explains the gangs’ modus operandi: “The pimp points to a girl standing on a balcony who waves to the customer. The customer pays around Rs 4,000 to the pimp. The tourist is then asked to go up to the room. When he knocks, nobody opens the door. Hearing the banging on the door, those from neighbouring apartments come out (possibly planted by the pimps), and make a noise, forcing the tourist to leave.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/in-goa-no-paid-sex-without-aadhaar-card/articleshow/62101730.cms

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India- Can Interlinking Rivers and Greening their Banks Save our Cities?

 

 

In what turned out to be a most engrossing discussion on “Can Inter-linking our Rivers and Greening their Banks save our Cities?” organized by Environment Support Group at Ashirvad, Bangalore, on December 15, 2017, theatre activist and Playwright Shri Prasanna Heggodu delved into the importance of introspection whilst addressing the prevailing state of affairs of the World. In particular addressing the problematic proposition of interlinking rivers, Prasanna argued that it is not an issue in which we can target the government or the Supreme Court or Narendra Modi as Prime Minister as chasing what seems like a scheme that has not been comprehensively understood. He suggested that this is a challenge which demands our attention in addressing the path our civilization has adopted. For the first time in our civilization, the material world and the spiritual world are both asking the same question. “All of us are interested in a holistic way of life- constructing a world which is sustainable, not divided. But our training is such that we are not holistic as we are divided sectorally”, he said. The problem, however, is that we are only talking to governments and not speaking to and communicating with the people. We are not speaking in a language familiar with and understood by people everywhere of an issue that should matter to everyone.

Prasanna proposed that the real remedy to our prevailing situation cannot be found by addressing facts with counter facts. “The language of communication for our struggles has to be metaphorical. The river has to flow. It is metaphorically linked with the flow of life. All this technology of linking rivers is about tinkering and tampering with nature”, he concluded.

Prasanna

Major General S. G. Vombatkere (Retd.) of National Alliance of Peoples Movement presented how the entire proposition of Interlinking of rivers is presented as if it is as simple an idea transferring excess flood water from the Ganges to drought affected regions of peninsular India through a network of canals. What is not communicated, and thus not understood widely, is that this demands a massive network of mega dams and canals at a scale which is unprecedented. He also asked how we can even manage to transfer the flood waters of the Ganges when with all the proposed dams and canals we can only transfer a theoretical maximum of 4% of the flood waters to other rivers, and that too at an enormous and irreparable cost. Thus, the very idea of proposing that droughts can be resolved by transferring flood waters is preposterous, to say the least. He argued that the Supreme Court bench which directed interlinking of rivers must be implemented, did not have any material before them justifying the viability of this mega scheme. Yet the Court went on to rule that the project has to be implemented. The solution lies in ensuring people are informed and aware of the colossal and irreversible damage that this project will cause, and in fact attacks the very economic and ecological security of India.

River Linking Audience

Dr. Sharachchandra Lele of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment  (ATREE) acknowledged the importance of integrating facts and figures into a clear story of what is happening, and the need to go beyond blaming government to also reflecting on what we ourselves are doing. Addressing briefly “What causes declines in river flows?”, he summarised ATREE’s research in the Western Ghats and in the Arkavathy basin on river flows as clearly showing that declines in river flows are not caused by climate change, nor by deforestation in catchments, nor (in the case of the Arkavathy) by urbanization or encroachment of river channels in the catchment. They are caused by excessive groundwater pumping or lifting of water directly from the river for irrigation, and by planting of eucalyptus over large areas by farmers. But Bengaluru was not bothered by the decline in the Arkavathy because it had moved to importing water from the Cauvery in huge quantities. So addressing the question: “Does Bengaluru need to draw more water from distant rivers to meet its needs?” becomes urgent. Unfortunately, Bengaluru’s citizens are disconnected from Bengaluru’s water governance. Even after importing 1350 MLD water every day we do not know where half of this water is going. More imports (Cauvery 5th stage) have been sanctioned without any public hearings or assessment of alternatives. Water management is equated with importing river water, ignoring local water (rainwater, groundwater, lake water) and poor disposal of wastewater with very little reuse. Distribution is also highly inequitable. We need to introspect on our role in this process and constructively engage with changing our water governance.

Jagdish Krishnaswamy

Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment addressing the question: ‘Does greening river banks save rivers?’ contextualized the problematique of understanding rivers today. Jagdish started with his experiences of engaging with the Rally for Rivers. While recognizing that there was a genuine commitment to rivers that he detected in his meeting with Jaggi Vasudev and it drew media and civil society attention to the plight of rivers, he went on to draw our attention to its scientific limitations and contradictions especially with regard to its relationship with the political establishment which use its platforms to espouse “business as usual” policies and projects that are a real threat to rivers and the ecosystem services they provide. He went on to share emerging scientific knowledge on climate variability and climate change, and the functions provided by high flows and dry-season flows regionally within India that challenges the paradigm of “water surplus” and “water deficit basins”.

 

Jagdish also highlighted the role of free-flowing rivers and the water, of sediment and nutrients they carry in sustaining riverine and marine ecosystem services, which are being disregarded by those promoting Inter-linking of rivers. The recent discovery of a fresh-water river that flows along the east coast of India sustained by the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Godavari and the role it plays in marine ecosystems and possibly even climate regulation, is an example. The paradigm “that river reaching the sea is a waste” needs to be challenged urgently. He also cautioned against large scale sediment removal from rivers through dredging and commodification of rivers, such as through channelization for navigation, as it could pose a threat to water quality, human health and biodiversity and artisanal fisheries. Managing existing dams and barrages more efficiently and taking account of ecosystem services provided by rivers from head-waters to deltas and estuaries is the need of the hour.

 

Suprabha Seshan of the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary, Wayanad addressing the themeListening to Rivers’, read from her poem ‘Cry me a river’ in memory of Lata Anatha who fought to save till her very end the Chalakudy River from a disastrous dam proposed at Athirapally Falls. The Poem can be found here.1

Joe Athialy

A.R. Shivakumar of the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, addressed the theme “Making Water Bangalore Rich”. Explaining how the city is not facing a dearth of water but gross misunderstanding of what water means, he suggested that the city must realise that it is not water only if it comes out of pipes fed with Cauvery. There is so much water in the form of rain, run off and through delightfully tasteful well water that is simply not considered as water. Instead of focusing on highly decentralized systems of water conservation and water governance, the basic idea is to propose projects that are capital intensive, technologically complex, heavily dependent on energy and personnel, and thus extremely expensive. Besides, there is also the problem that people feel water must come free from the government, when in fact they thoughtlessly consume water which is privatized in many forms: such as through bottled water which is extremely damaging in its production, and is also not safe from a public health perspective. All this adds up to not realizing that simple techniques of harvesting rain in every house, complex and neighbourhood can save Bangalore from perpetual dependence on faraway rivers, which is highly unsustainable.

 

Shivakumar also shared how the dependence on Cauvery is precarious as with all the storage reservoirs built in Bangalore to supply the river’s water, only a day’s supply is available. Should the pumping stations fail, there will be no water in Bangalore. Meanwhile, the water that can be so easily and safely stored in the ground, or in lakes, is completely ignored, as no investment is made for their safeguard. Further, there is simply no attention paid to ensuring they can become reservoirs to support the drinking water needs of the city. Despite all the investment in diverting rivers from faraway rivers, less than half the city’s population gets water from the Cauvery, and the rest depend on the fast depleting ground water aquifers, which are not being recharged as rapidly as they are drained. The way forward is to decentralise governance of water conservation and supply, Shivakumar argued, saying this would also enhance transparency in water tariff, provisioning, use and abuse.

Shivakumar

Joe Athialy of the Centre for Financial Accountability addressing the theme ‘Where is the money to finance these mega schemes?’ said that no financial viability is done for the interlinking of rivers project. “A project of this magnitude cannot go ahead without financial viability analysis. Such an analysis should factor in the social and environmental costs as well, and not just construction costs”, he argued. Rs. 5,60,000 crores 2 is projected as the cost by the Government of India. But this cost does not include any of the massive social and environmental costs, he added. If the controversial Narmada Dam is considered, highly productive and ever fertile lands in Madhya Pradesh, that provided three food crops, were submerged to bring water to arid regions of Gujarat that grows dryland crops. But this justification which was employed for decades turned out to be bogey as much of the water is now being consumed by water guzzling industries, and is flooding the Sabarmathi as it flows through Ahmedabad city to increase its aesthetics. This is not just the case in Narmada, but in several other dams. All this means that with interlinking of rivers, this model of dam building will only support high levels of financialisation and commodification of water which would ensure the project is fatally in debt. If previous experience with big dam building and diversion were considered, it is more than likely that the interlinking of rivers will result in creation of dams that will not support drinking water and agrarian demands, but those of capital and water intensive industries.

 

Himanshu Upadhya of Azim Premji University speaking on ‘Is there any due diligence of these mega projects?’ said, “There is none.” But the problem is not there is none. But that there is not even a question raised that there is no such due diligence for such mega project developments. The bigger the projects, the lesser the number of questions that are asked, when, rationally, the contrary should be the case. The problem is also that the Government constantly pushes for mega projects, such as interlinking of rivers requiring mega dams and canals, and humongous numbers are thrown at us to posture the Government’s seriousness in addressing peoples problems. But these don’t at all translate into the claims of benefits such projects are promoted with. “We should not be afraid of this numbers game”, he said. “We must demand they explain these numbers to us, for it is being done with not only our money, but that of several generations to come”. Which brings up the question of audits, and in most cases involving mega dams and interlinking of rivers there is none, said Himanshu.

 

Drawing the symposium to a closure, Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group suggested that the symposium was not to provide answers to questions that come to our mind, but to ensure these questions not merely trouble some of us, but everyone in fact. This is a process which has to take place everywhere as everyone will be directly impacted by inter-linking of rivers. The fact that such projects are promoted with very little public and legislative enquiry, in fact based on a blind faith in technology is worrying, as much as it is worrying that millions are guided into believing the mere act of planting trees along river banks will save rivers and ensure we all will have water and ecological security. While it the responsibility of the Government to deconstruct our collective access to water security, the fact that it is not doing that, but, in fact, confusing and confounding the issue by proposing mega schemes, is a paradigm that has to be engaged with. The approach has to be transformative of the collective mind, so that we can all ensure our actions aren’t a crucible that will destroy the chances of future generations to also survive.

 

This note of the proceedings of the symposium has been prepared by Harsh Vardhan Bhati, Namrata Kabra, Apoorva Patil and Mallesh K. R. of Environment Support Group.

Rivers and Cities

Environment Support Group

(Environment, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives)

#1572, 100 feet road, \

Banashankari 2nd Stage

Bangalore, 560070.

Website: www.esgindia.org

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Maharashtra: Bhima Koregaon battle to complete 200 years on January 1

Mumbai: Bhima Koregaon Battle which was held against the Peshwas supporting Britishers in 1818 will be completing 200 years on January 1. Therefore, to mark the anniversary supporters from different groups, associations are organising campaigns for December 31, 2017, inviting people to gather in large number to raise their voice against the rising modern Peshwa-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis government at Shaniwar Wada, historical place of Peshwa.

Sudhir Dhawale a 48 years old man selling book titled ‘bhima korgovaane dila dhada’…, in one of the lane’s going towards Chaityabhoomi in English which means ‘a lesson taught by Bhima Koregaon Battalion… ‘said 20,000 copies will be sold at Chaityabhoomi as a campaign strategy.

“Around 20,000 people will gather at Shaniwar Wada to show their disappointment against the Modern Peshwa which is harming the poor dalit and leftist ideology people. Also, from last 40 months, the campaign is going on and experts like P B Sawant Justice of Supreme Court, B.G Kolse Patil, Raosaheb Kasbe, and many others will share the dice and give a speech on December 31.”

He also added Khairlanji massacre completed ten years and the issue will be raised during the event. Dhawale expressing his views remarked just three months before he has been released from Nagpur jail as raising voice against Modern Peshwa that is Modi and Fadnavis is considered at Anti-national and therefore, he was declared a Naxalite and sent to jail.

“In 2014 a 17-year-old Dalit boy named Nitin Aage was brutally killed and hung from a tree by three men from a Maratha community in Kharda Ahmednagar village and justice has been delayed. Students from 50 colleges  will observe fast at Azad Maidan on December 11,” said Jyoti Nikaljve of KMC Khopoli college.

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