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Archives for : January2018

21 questions Times Now and Zee couldn’t ask Narendra Modi for obvious reasons

Indira Gandhi is famously said to have labelled journalists as “glorified stenographers”. In LutyensDelhi, anchors and presenters of brain-dead TV news channels are working hard to remove even the glory part of it.

Partial and continuing proof of it comes in the form of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “interviews” with Sudhir Chaudhury of Zee, and Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar of Times Now.

Hacks and flacks from Government-run Doordarshan and Press Information Bureau should be blushing at the mild and innocuous questioning given the state of the country, the economy, and the institutions.

Which should surprise nobody given the state of “independent” media and the BJP’s attitude towards its independence.

Here are 21 questions Modi’s interrogators glossed over in the excitement of meeting the Pradhan Sevak in flesh and blood.

Obviously, given the terms and conditions that are imposed before modern-day interviews, it is impossible for such questions to be asked, but it is useful to remember the gap between hype and reality.

1.Pradhan Sevak ji, is ‘Achhe Din’ already here, as you promised, or has it been postponed to 2022? Is Rs 15 lakh going to be transferred by NEFT or RTGS?

2.In the recent elections in your home state, Dalits, Muslims, Kshatriyas, tribals, students, farmers, jewellers, businessmen, traders were all against you. Your party narrowly won but does this state of affairs really suggest you are doing a great job?

3.Why has the “independent” CBI not filed an appeal over the sudden discharge of BJP president Amit Shah, less than a month after the mysterious ‘death’ of judge Brijmohan Loya in 2016?

4.Key police officers who were in Gujarat in 2002 or those who provided a clean chit to you have all been reinstated or rewarded by your government. What makes you think that the people of India do not notice these acts of patronage and come to their conclusions?

5.Would you agree that despite all its faults, UPA presided over a more peaceful, harmonious, socially cohesive and more inclusive India?

6.India has survived as a democracy because of its institutions. Why does your government consistently disgrace the “temple of our democracy” by sneaking in key legislation as money bills, without proper debate and discussion?

7.Despite falling short of a majority in Goa and Manipur, BJP has formed governments by “buying up MLAs” in these states. Are you proud of these tactics? Or is everything OK in the quest for a Congress-mukt Bharat?

8.How do you sleep soundly at night when you could have done more when Mohammed Akhlaq was murdered, when Pahlu Khan was lynched, when Najeeb went missing?

9.Why is your government hellbent on killing institutions of excellence like JNU and the IITs?

10.Where did you pick up this gem about Lord Ganesha being a product of plastic surgery? And where do your colleagues learn about Charles Darwin and the origin of species?

11.Have you ever asked your esteemed colleagues M.J. Akbar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain for their expert, first-hand views on “love jihad”?

12.Is it fair to say you have allowed yourself to be turned into a 31% prime minister, a “prime minister of a party” rather than that of every section of the country, especially the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised?

13.Every known index—growth, jobs, agriculture, manufacturing, exports, etc—under you is way down compared to Manmohan Singh. Were the people of India fooled by the Gujarat Model? Or did they overestimate your abilities?

14.On what basis do you claim that you run a taint-free government when the Rafale deal involving Anil Ambani, the abnormal rise of the Adanis, the parcelling of state land for Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, etc, point to a new and obvious kind of crony capitalism

15. You were vehemently opposed to Aadhaar before the 2014 election Why did you change your mind after becoming PM? Will Nandan Nilekani stand for the 2019 elections as a BJP candidate?

16.RBI has put an official seal on the disaster that was demonetisation. Why have you not said sorry to the millions whose lives were wrecked and ruined by your ill-advised decision?

17.Has your party come to power “only to change the Constitution”, as claimed by your ministerial colleague Anantkumar Hegde? If so, is “New India” a euphemism for a ‘Hindu Rashtra’?

18.How has a “Hindu nationalist party” like BJP managed to make enemies of all its neighbours, including the last Hindu kingdom on earth, Nepal?

19.Why are you afraid of addressing a formal, open press conference even after 44 months in power? Why do you choose a one-way medium like Twitter or ‘Mann ki Baat’?

20.What do you do after work? What are the 44 books have you read in the last 44 months? What movies, plays have you watched? What music do you listen to? Do you have a life, or do you just watch reruns of ‘Tarak Mehta ka ulta chashma’?

21.Do you think the RSS is already preparing the ground for Yogi Adityanath as the next PM if BJP is reelected in 2019?

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India – More than 50 million jobless, Gujarat model has failed, demonetisation helped rich: California economist

By Our Representative
A senior Indian American economist, Prof Pranab Bardhan, has said that, as against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s big promise of creating 100 million jobs to win the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, what one is witnessing today is a movement in just the opposite direction: “We have a total number of workers exceeding 50 million who are either unemployed or underemployed”, he has said in a comprehensive interview.
“This”, says Prof Bardhan, who is is at the graduate school in the department of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, “Doesn’t count the hundreds of millions of women, who are outside the labour force.” He adds, in India, in order to gauge unemployment, the surveyors only ask questions “about employment to only those who are part of the labour force”.

Pointing out that “the Gujarat model of high growth was not a particular exemplar in job creation”, Prof Bardhan says, the “Gujarat model, in spite of its high manufacturing growth, was particularly in sectors like petroleum refineries and petrochemicals, which are highly capital-intensive. They don’t create that many jobs.”

According to Prof Bardhan, “It is by now clear to many people that the pace of job creation has not been shining. In fact, some of the data — like the annual data produced by the labour bureau surveys — show that there may have been even some absolute decline in jobs”, adding, though, ” This is not new. Even for the last 40 years, job growth in India has been by and large rather sluggish.”
Coming down heavily on demonetisation, Prof Bardhan says, a “This has turned out to be one of the grandest hoaxes ever in Indian political history”, adding, surprisingly, the step came ” after insignificant progress in getting the black money stashed in foreign accounts or from repeated announcements for tax amnesty”

“The announced objective was to vaporise the corrupt cash hoarded by the rich. But then other objectives were also mentioned — to eliminate counterfeit money, to prevent terror funding. And when these things were not working, they talked about the need to digitize the economy. So, goalposts were changed over time.”

“Looking back now”, he says, ” We can say that most of the money has come back. This means that black money hoarded in the form of cash was tiny. Or, even if it was not tiny, it has been deftly returned through the backdoor with the complicity of corrupt bank officials.”
Prof Bardhan says, “Usually, most rich people do not keep their black money in cash. They use other means like real estate, gold, foreign account etc. I don’t know what gave the government the idea that most black money was stashed in cash”, adding, “To this day, the hardship that it caused has not been properly measured.”<

He underlines, “What was done was a cruel joke on the Indian poor, particularly those in the informal sector. I think demonetisation was a hastily-thought-out programme by some ignorant but arrogant people in Delhi and foisted on an unprepared and somewhat confused bank bureaucracy.”

“We have now data — not for whole of India though — on the extent of losses in jobs and wages”, Prof Bardhan opines, adding, “Take the textile hubs like Panipat in north India and Tiruppur in south India. Now, there is evidence of huge losses in trading as well as jobs. We also have evidence of small companies losing out and the informal sector failing to pay wages and workers going back to their villages.”

Critiquing those who say that tax returns increased because of demonetisation, Prof Bardhan quotes the Economic Survey as saying that “the average income level of the new tax payers was Rs 2.7 lakh, slightly above the tax threshold”, which suggests that “the new people brought under the tax net are not the superrich who have been evading tax all these years.”

According to him, “They are more likely to be relatively small people who have come under the tax net because of pressure from the banks to link accounts with the Aadhaar card and the PAN card and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bringing some people in. So, it is not that fat cats were disgorging their illicit hoards due to demonetisation.”

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Dalits march in London protesting atrocities in India

By- Murtaza ali shah

LONDON: Dalit groups from across the United Kingdom have called for the international community to take notice of extreme violence against millions of Dalits and other minorities by Narendra Modi‘s Hindutva government.

UK’s key Dalit organisations came together for a large march bracing heavy rain on Saturday to protest against the incarceration of over 7,000 Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra, who were picked up by the security forces after clashes and riots earlier this month.

The Dalits had gathered to celebrate the historic January 1, 1818 event when a few hundred Dalit soldiers had defeated the massive Peshwa Army. As the Dalits gathered to celebrate, the upper caste Marathas, supported by the security forces, attacked the participants violently, killing one and injuring and maiming hundreds.

At the London demonstration to show solidarity with the victims, the Dalit organisations were supported by progressive groups, including South Asia Solidarity Movement, demanding the release of prisoners and an end to attacks on women and activists. The protestors said that the continuing incarceration of Dalit Leader Chandrashekhar Azad was illegal and unjustified.

They said that the slur on Dr B R Ambedkar by the Indian Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde and a threat to do away with the Constitution altogether had alarmed Indians all over the world who were worried that Modi had headed towards imposing Hindutvaism on the entire Indian polity.

The protestors travelled from Birmingham, Bradford and London for the march and carried banners and placard which read: ‘Our fight is for human rights’, ‘equal rights for Dalits’, ‘stop atrocities on Dalits’, ‘dynamite the Hindu scriptures’, ‘we stand together against hate’, ‘Dalit rights are human rights’, ‘value human life, not just cows’, ‘Hindutva is a threat to India‘s unity’, and ‘end caste violence against Dalits, now’.

The rally at the Parliament Square, Westminster, marched towards the Indian High Commission and throughout the way protesters chanted slogans against the atrocities being committed against Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs.

At the Indian High Commission, no official received memorandum from the protesters which was pasted at the door of the High Commission.

The memorandum called for the Indian government to bring the Hindutva leaders and activists who planned the violence at Bhima-Koregaon, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ebute to justice.

“Release the thousands of Dalits arrested in Maharashtra in the first fortnight of January, immediately drop the charges against them and launch a transparent public inquiry into the events of January 1 and 2. Immediately release Chandrashekhar Azad, the leader of the Bhim Army,” signed by nearly a dozen Dalit and human rights groups.

Satpal Muman on behalf of the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain commented: “Mr Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, is a Dalit and is perceived as such. He is in a position to understand the plight of Dalits who are daily facing violence at the hands of upper caste. We are urging him to ensure exemplary punishment, according to the law, for all those guilty of inflicting violence against Dalits at Bhima-Koregaon;, and to take immediate and concrete steps to curb the rise of Hindu fundamentalism which is currently threatening the democratic fabric of India.”

Keval Bharadia of South Asia Solidarity Group, one of co-organisers of the demonstration, said: “India is turning into a republic of fear and violence, where mob-lynching by the Hindu supremacist forces is a common occurrence. The descent into fascism has meant a horrific increase in attacks on Dalits – but the President, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit himself, is silent. We urge him to speak out and stem this tide of violence.”

Renowned activist Amrit Wilson told that Muslims were facing “genocide-like situation” in India and there was no one to speak up for them. She said that now Dalits were facing the same situation. “International community must take notice of what’s happening in India. It’s a scandal that needs to be exposed.”

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Health Ministry Decides To Shelve Cervical Cancer Vaccine After RSS-Affiliate Writes To PM Modi #WTFnews

The union health ministry has decided  to cancel the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which is used for preventing cervical cancer among women, after the RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him not to introduce it in the country.

In a letter to PM Modi in December, SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan had requested the PM to stop the move to introduce the HPV vaccine in India. The letter had compared those behind the HPV vaccine with those who pervert science and bring ignominy to the scientific community alleging that they sell the country to vested interests.

“Swadeshi Jagran Manch requests you to stop this move to introduce the HPV vaccine in India and we recommend the strongest action against groups that pervert science, which brings ignominy to the scientific community in the country and sells the country to vested interests,” the letter had said.

“It is our concern that this programme will divert scarce resources from more worthwhile health initiatives diverting it to this vaccine of doubtful utility and that its adverse effects will erode confidence in the national immunization programme and thereby expose children unnecessarily to the risk of more serious vaccine-preventable disease,” Mahajan had said, as quoted by the Financial Express.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) had earlier recommended HPV vaccination in India to prevent cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among women in India.

However, after the objection from the RSS-wing, according to a report by the Indian Express today, the union health ministry has taken a decision in principle not to introduce the vaccine.

“We are not going ahead with it now,” said a top ministry official, as quoted by the Indian Express without naming him.

The matter is still under consideration of the technical advisory body on immunization. But, the Express report, quoting highly placed sources in the ministry says that the vaccine will not become a part of UIP anytime soon regardless of what the NTAGI decides.

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India – Over 300 manual scavengers died in 2017 #WTFnews

Despite the ban on manual scavenging in India, over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging have been reported from across the country in 2017 alone, according to a reply given by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December last year.

Despite the ban on manual scavenging in India, over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging have been reported from across the country in 2017 alone, according to a reply given by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December last year.

Tamil Nadu has reported the highest number of cases of death of manual scavengers, with over 140 cases reported in the state during the said period, while 59 cases have been reported from Karnataka and 52 from Uttar Pradesh. Delhi also reported the death of 12 manual scavengers in 2017.

Not only this, the Ministry has also reduced the budgetary allocation for rehabilitation of manual scavengers by over 95% since 2014.

In 2014-2015, the budgetary allocation under the “Self Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers” was Rs 448 crore, which was reduced to just Rs 5 crore in 2017-18. The drastic drop in the budgetary allocation was witnessed from financial year 2016-17, when budgetary allocation was reduced to Rs 10 crore and was further reduced by half during the budget last year.

Bezwada Wilson, national convenor of the Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA), an organisation working for the eradication of manual scavenging, told The Sunday Guardian, “The deaths of manual scavengers is a burning issue. While the number of manual scavengers leaving their odd jobs to start a new life is increasing every year, the budget for their rehabilitation is decreasing. This shows the seriousness of the government. When funds are limited, how can manual scavengers be rehabilitated?”

The Ministry in its reply said that since a corpus of funds was available with the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation, the implementing agency of Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, the budget allocation for 2016-17 and 2017-18 was reduced.

TN accounts for 45% of manual scavenger deaths in India: Report

Karnataka came second with 59 deaths; UP recorded 52 fatalities, says a Union housing and urban affairs ministry report.Karnataka came second with 59 deaths; UP recorded 52 fatalities, says a Union housing and urban affairs ministry report.
COIMBATORE: Despite laws and Supreme Court orders, sanitary workers continue to enter sewers and septic tanks; many have lost their lives in the past two decades while cleaning human waste. Among states, Tamil Nadu has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest number of deaths of manual scavengers, as per data submitted by Union minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha.
Of the 323 deaths reported across the country since 1993, 144 were from TN, said the minister. In Karnataka, 59 workers died and in Uttar Pradesh 52 lives were lost while working in sewers and septic tanks.

Tamil Nadu government data shows that in 2016 11 deaths were recorded, of which five were in Chennai while cleaning septic tanks; two people died in Virudhunagar, and one each in Madurai, Thiruvallur, Trichy and Villupuram districts.

Members of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, an NGO working for the benefit of the sanitary workers across the country, said this is not the real picture. According to their survey, there were 1,340 deaths in the past 10 years across the country, and in Tamil Nadu 294 deaths were reported in the same period.

D V Samuel, state convener of Safai Karamchari Andolan, said, “The names of the workers who died in septic tanks and sewers in the past two years were not on the list of manual scavengers submitted by the state government to the Supreme Court.

According to the government, only 426 workers were engaged in manual scavenging. But as per a survey conducted by us in just 8 cities in Tamil Nadu, there were nearly 3,000 such workers.

Cases of manual scavenging continue to surface, say activists

“In Coimbatore corporation, which claims to have not a single manual scavenger, we identified 700 workers engaged in the act,” Samuel said. According to him, it was not just contractual workers, the government too was employing these workers.

Commissioner of municipal administration G Prakash said, “The definition of manual scavenger is different according to the government and the NGOs. If we classify workers employed in septic tank cleaning lorries as manual scavengers, then the numbers will be higher,” he said. He added that according to them, unscientific handling of human faecal matter without any safe equipment in place and without following proper protocol is manual scavenging. “Misinterpretation of definition will cause a huge difference. If there are discrepancies, people employed as manual scavengers can always come forward and we will verify,” said Prakash.

But activists said cases of manual scavenging continues to surface. On December 22, 2017, three men who were collecting gold dust particles from a gold smithery at R S Puram in Coimbatore died of asphyxiation. In March 2017, three men died in a manhole of asphyxiation in Cuddalore. “If the state claims to be free of manual scavenging, why are people continuing to die every year? Many contractors and officials are also threatening these workers,” said Muruganandham, an activist in Coimbatore.

JagadeeshHire Mani, member of the national commission for safai karamchari, said the reason for 44% of the deaths of manual scavengers in Coimbatore was the lack of awareness among workers on safety equipment. “They get paid around Rs1,000 for one such work and they undertake it. The government has to create awareness to reduce such deaths,” he said.


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