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Archives for : Politics

Where books teach that gods live inside cows: Inside Bengal’s ‘RSS-inspired’ schools

The Mamata Banerjee government has said shutting down of 125 schools for “deviating” from the state’s curriculum and operating without obtaining ‘no-objection certificate’.


Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
The TMC government ordered closure of 125 ‘RSS schools’ for ‘deviating’ from state’s curriculum.
The TMC government ordered closure of 125 ‘RSS schools’ for ‘deviating’ from state’s curriculum.(Snigdhendu Bhattacharya/HT Photo)

Teachers of Saraswati Shishu Mandir at Balibela in Hoogly district, about 100km northwest of Kolkata, are a worried lot. The school’s silver jubilee celebration in December coincided with the biggest survival threat it has faced – chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s crackdown against “RSS-inspired schools”.

After education minister Partha Chatterjee’s announcement in the assembly Tuesday regarding the shutting down of 125 schools for “deviating” from the state’s curriculum and operating without obtaining ‘no-objection certificate’, teachers at the Balibela school are anxious to find out if their school features on the list.

‘Breeding hatred’

Chatterjee had said that the government has received information about 493 schools that are inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological mentor of the BJP, and had also remarked that “schools are not the places for wielding sticks”.

“At a public meeting two months ago, MLA Manas Majumdar lambasted us for preaching hate and working towards disturbing communal harmony,” said Bijoy Chandra Roy, a swayamsevak and the school’s headmaster since its inception.

The MLA said that the school was a “facade” for the RSS’ main operational centre for its Arambag subdivision. “Senior RSS pracharaks stay at the school while visiting Arambag. It hosts RSS’s training sessions. Why are they using a school as breeding ground for communal hatred?” he said.

Roy claims teachers from government-sponsored primary schools “have been asked to convince parents to get their children enrolled at government schools”.

District school authorities recently informed Roy that 65 of his 427 students have enrolled in government-run schools.

An inside look

Run by Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan, the educational wing of the RSS, the school started operating in 1992 in a mud hut with 17 students. It now functions from two two-storeyed buildings named after RSS founder KB Hedgewar and his successor MS Golwalkar.

Eighteen teachers (acharyas) and three non-teaching staff look after 427 students in eight classes: pre-primary sections Arun, Uday and Pravaat, and Classes 1 to 5. Vidya Bharati runs 326 schools in the state, where 65,000 students are taught by 3,200 teachers. Most of the schools are for students up to Class 5 while about half-a-dozen have sanction to hold classes until the 10th standard.

In the morning, the school begins with Saraswati vandana, yoga and moral lessons. Students are allowed to have their tiffin only after chanting the ‘bhojanam mantra’.

Curriculum fix

The state government finds the books on India’s history and culture, titled ‘Bodhamala’, most objectionable. The books speak about Hinduism and place RSS ideologues Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Deendayal Upadhyaya among the “great men” of India since the ancient times. Among other things, Maharshi Kanada is mentioned as “world’s first atomic scientist” and that Afghanistan’s name “came from Sanskrit word Upaganasthan”.

Books claim that eating food before taking bath affects health and that cow is mother “because gods live in her body”.

The importance of the ‘Bodhamala’ books is so high that the teachers are also required to take centrally-conducted tests every year. “We stress equally on curricular and co-curricular activities, aiming at the child’s comprehensive development,” said Anil Kanrar, teacher, Sarada Shishu Mandir at Tantiberia.

Partha Ghosh, Vidya Bharati’s north Bengal in-charge, said government authorities carried out inspection twice in last one year.

“School inspectors were accompanied by the police. The headmasters were asked about the curriculum, whether the RSS funds these schools and gets a portion from the earnings,” Ghosh said.

Ten schools in North Dinajpur district took the legal route last year after receiving the closure notice. The HC in February ruled against the district inspector of schools for acting “on a verbal order” from the education department. “..but we are ready to go to Supreme Court,” the education minister has said.

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Jignesh Mevani – Cops discussing my encounter in Whatsapp chat #WTFnews

Jignesh Mevani said,“This is a serious matter. Two top police people are indicating that I can be killed in an encounter. I am going to file a complaint to the DGP, the home minister and home secretary.”

Jignesh Mevani fears for safety after Whatsapp chat of senior cops goes viralI

In the video, Mevani is seen saying “tara baap ni jagi chey,” (Is it your fathers property) and ‘Lakhota’ to the plain clothed policemen who are trying to detain him. (Source: Express photo by Renuka Puri/File)Vadgam MLA and Dalit activist J


My life is under threat” — this is what Gujarat’s Vadgam Member of Legislative Assembly and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani has expressed after a conversation on a WhatsApp group called ‘ADR Police and Media’ went viral. Group members constitute many senior police officers from Gujarat and professionals from media. After posting on the ADR group, the two videos are doing rounds on the internet. In the first video, a man looking like a politician was seen being thrashed by the police and in the other video, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath can be clearly seen justifying his government’s stand on recent police encounters in the state.

Ahmedabad’s Rural DSP RB Devdha, who is also a member of the ADR Police and Media Whatsapp group has sent a message which said, “Those who call the police as lakhota and want to be the baap of the police and those who take videos of police should remember that the police will be like this with people like you. We will settle scores. Gujarat Police.” But the DSP Devdha, while talking to a national daily, Indian Express, has denied the charge of wrongdoing and said the message has been misinterpreted because he had only copied and pasted a forwarded message.

This message is followed by a thumbs up emoji by the SP of Ahmedabad rural. “I just copy pasted the messages that were forwarded in another group. It has been wrongly interpreted. It was not a personal message and neither is it a threat. It was just shared from one group to the other,” said RB Devdha, DySP of Ahmedabad rural.

Reacting to viral whatsapp conversation Jignesh Mevani tweeted, “Jignesh Mevani’s encounter? Here is the link to a web portal which exposes a Whatsapp communication where two top cops are discussing how I could be killed in an encounter. Can you believe this?” .

In a telephonic conversation with an The Indian Express reporter, Mevani said,“This is a serious matter. Two top police people are indicating that I can be killed in an encounter. I am going to file a complaint to the DGP, the home minister and home secretary.”

On February 18, a video went viral in which Mevani is seen arguing with the police as he was detained just before he was to start Ahmedabad bandh. The bandh was called in protest of the death of Dalit activist Bhanu Vankar. In the video, Mevani is seen saying “tara baap ni jagichey,” (Is it your fathers property) and ‘Lakhota’ to the plain clothed policemen who are trying to detain him.

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Gitanjali Gems was a partner for Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2017

Congress accuses Gujarat police of inaction when Nirav Modi and Choksi duped people of Rs 50 billion

pnb, punjab national bank

The Congress party on Friday alleged the bank fraud involving jewellers and not only syphoned Rs 213 billion from public sector banks, but also cheated India‘s middle class of Rs 50 billion.

Gujarat Congress leader and national spokesperson said owned Limited had floated three jewellery investment schemes — Shagun, Swarna Mangal Labh (SML) and Swarna Mangal Kalash (SMK).

He said under these schemes people seeking to buy jewellery were given an attractive option to earn a return on investment. People needed to pay 11 instalments, while the Gitanjali Group promised to pay the 12th as free. Tenures of these instalments ranged from 12, 24, or 36 months. At the end of this tenure, the accumulated money could be redeemed for jewellery with the added bonus of up to 50 per cent, Gohil said.

“But people were duped into these schemes. In a large number of cases, neither the instalment was paid nor jewellery given or invested amount returned,” Gohil said. A large number of police complaints were filed in Gujarat by way of affidavits in September 2015. The Congress released some of these affidavits.

Another set of complaints were filed against the Gitanjali Group in October 2017. Gohil alleged the Gujarat police didn’t act on the complaints. “The interesting fact here is that the complaints were filed on October 10, 2017.

But the Gujarat police waited until January 25, 2018, by when and Choksi had fled the country along with their families,” Gohil said. The Congress leader said there are several cases across Gujarat against and Choksi, but the state police didn’t act. He termed it “jan dhan loot yojana”.

Gohil said despite these cases against the Gitanjali Group, the Vijay Rupani government of Gujarat projected Gitanjali Group as a “collaborator” for the 2017 Vibrant Gujarat summit of 2017, which was held between January 10 to 13, 2017. The Congress furnished evidence of this.

“Why is the BJP silent on the connections between and Choksi with their leadership. Isn’t it true that Choksi was one of the select few invited at the PM’s inauguration of the gold monetization scheme in 2015?” Gohil asked.

The Congress had earlier released a video clip where the PM can be heard acknowledging Choksi’s presence at the event and addressing him with “great affection” as “hamare Mehul bhai (our brother Mehul)” in his address to the gathering.

was photographed with the PM in Davos. Why is the PM shy of admitting his connections with Choksi and Neerav Modi?” Gohil asked. The Congress leader alleged that Aparna Chudasama, sister-in-law of BJP’s Maharashtra leader and spokesperson Shaina NC, was the head of sales in Nirav Modi’s company.

Gohil said Choksi and Geetanjali Group had showcased designs by at an exhibition in August 2015, where Amruta Fadnavis, wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Anar Patel, daughter of the then Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, were present as guests of honour. He said Choksi had advertised the event in newspapers.

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NAPM salutes the life and relentless work of Neelabh Mishra for journalistic justice and human rights #RIP

National Alliance of People’s Movements is deeply saddened to know of the untimely demise of our dear friend, veteran journalist and human rights activist, Neelabh Mishra, today in Chennai, after a prolonged battle with liver failure. In so many ways, Neelabh reflected the true spirit of an Indian citizen who believed in, lived and breathed the constitutional values and constantly challenged, through his words, work and wisdom, the narrow confines of ‘nationalistic’, divisive and unjust politics.

As the Chief Editor of National Herald and Navjeevan and subsequently as the Editor of Outlook (Hindi) from 2005, Neelabh worked relentlessly and meticulously to bring forth numerable stories that mattered to the masses and marginalized people of the country. With over three decades of commendable work on a wide range of issues, he groomed and guided an entire generation of journalist-activists. A true feminist and partner of multiple people’s platforms, he was deeply committed to truth, fairness and secular values. A widely-read and well-informed person, with command over many languages and also an equally abiding interest in literature, culture and politics, he carried his wisdom very lightly, with immense humility and responsibility.

With the passing away of Neelabh, the world of journalism and conscientious citizenry has lost a brave, self-effacing comrade who had an unflinching faith in the values of constitutional democracy, justice and equality of all beings.  In the times that we are living in, where sections of the media shrill-mouth only the interests and prejudices of corporates and fascist political forces, Neelabh stood out like a rock and never for once drifted away from the spirit of progressive politics and journalistic ethics of pro-people, secular values.

On behalf of all saathis in NAPM, we extend our most sincere condolences to human rights activist and long time co-traveller, Kavita Srivastava, who has constantly been by Neelabh in the past many months, as he fought bravely against his illness. We will sorely miss him and his brilliance, but re-commit ourselves to the values he cherished and lived, all his life. His work has been and would be a guiding spirit to a generation of young journalists and activists who we know and hope would carry and keep the torch aglow.



Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and NAPM, Odisha

P.Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre For Labour and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn UrimayIyakkam, Madurai and NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, (Tamilnadu)

Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, and NAPM, Karnataka

Maj Gen (Retd)S.G.Vombatkere, Mysuru, NAPM, Karnataka

Arundhati Dhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof.Kusumam NAPM, Kerala

Anand Mazgaonkar andKrishnakant, ParyavaranSuraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat

Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Vimal Bhai, MatuJansangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-MoolnivasiAstivtva Raksha Samiti, NAPM Jharkhand

Dr.Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava,KisanSangharsh Samiti, and NAPM, Madhya Pradesh

Samar Bagchi andAmitavaMitra, NAPM West Bengal

Suniti SR, SuhasKolhekar, and Prasad Bagwe, NAPM Maharashtra

Basant Kumar Hetamsaria and Ashok Verma, NAPM Jharkhand

Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan

Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhattisgarh

Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

KaladasDahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh

Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh

Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan SangharshVahini, NAPM, Delhi

Faisal Khan, KhudaiKhidmatgar, NAPM Haryana

J S Walia, NAPM Haryana

Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad,Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, and NAPM, Odisha

Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab

Richa Singh, SangatinKisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM Uttar Pradesh

Arul Doss, NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar

Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, and NAPM Bihar

Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar

Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai and NAPM

Rajendra Ravi, Nanhu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Sunita Rani, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma, NAPM, Delhi

Aaquib Zabed Mazumder, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM, Telangana – Andhra Pradesh

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‘What he stole is rice. The reason, hunger’: Shock over Kerala Adivasi man’s death

Justice for Madhu

The death of Madhu, a 30-year-old Adivasi man who was assaulted by a self righteous mob in Attappadi in Kerala, has left a wound in the conscience of the state. Accused of stealing rice and groceries worth Rs 200, Madhu was confronted and assaulted with sticks by a group of men, who then handed him over to the police. And when the police were taking him to the station, Madhu vomited blood and died before he could get medical help.

As Kerala comes to terms with the ugly incident, one person who has been left completely devastated by this is Madhu’s mother, Malli.

“My son would have managed to survive somehow in the forest, by eating whatever he got. And I would have had the solace of knowing that he was alive. Now, he has been lynched,” Malli told Manorama News.

“He didn’t live in our house for nine months… I haven’t seen him for the last nine months. I would come to know that the police had nabbed him and put him jail. But even if he was caught, he would manage to get out soon,” she said.

The incident has been condemned by people across the state, including the DGP, Lokanath Behera, who has insisted that people should not take the law into their own hands.

“Even if there is theft, what the people should have done is to hand over the accused to the police. Mob killing does not happen in Kerala – though it does happen in some other states. Kerala society is not like this. This is an unfortunate incident, and it should have been avoided. People should restrain themselves,” the DGP said.

Promising action soon, the DGP said, “There is a video of the incident, therefore it won’t be difficult to identify the culprits.”

While the police have arrested two men involved in the incident, the pace of action has been criticised by many.

Condemning the incident, former Kerala CM and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy said. “Even after such a shocking incident, why is it that the police is delaying action? Are they afraid of someone? Strict action must be taken at the earliest.”

CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in a statement condemned the assault, and said, “It reminds one of the honour killings that happen in north Indian states where RSS and Sangh Parivar have dominance. Swift action must be taken to nab the culprit.”

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala meanwhile said that the law and order situation in the state had completely broken down. “This is a humiliation to Kerala society as a whole,” he said.

The fact that one of the alleged assailants even took a selfie with Madhu in the background, with his hands tied and being reprimanded by another man, has caused even more outrage.

Palakkad MP, MB Rajesh, in a Facebook post wrote, “The mob killing in Attappadi is shocking and deeply painful. The fact that the deceased was an Adivasi youth who had mental health issues, add seriousness to the incident. Such tendencies should be nipped in the bud. The cruelty of the assailants who took a selfie after tying his hands and legs, before killing him is chilling.”

“Kerala should not be made into north India. It’s an attack on the democratic sense, consciousness and sense of justice of the land. The ‘selfie’ culture of making violence similar to life evokes panic,” he further wrote.

Noted writer and activist Sara Joseph took to Facebook to write, “This is a dangerous face of the Malayali people. I am scared realising that this is the attitude of the rich towards starvation and poverty… I feel ashamed of those parents who teach their children to eat in excess and drink at five star hotels. What he stole is rice. The reason for that was hunger. Where are the gods?”

Many are sharing an image with a picture of Madhu, in which he is imagined as saying, “Brothers, I stole because I was hungry. Should I be killed for that?”

Another post with a drawing of Madhu reads, “Why he was killed? Because he stole? Should he be killed for that? Because he was black and not well-dressed, and was hungry too?”

Actor Joy Mathew took to Facebook to condemn Madhu’s killing, saying that the state of Kerala must hang its head in shame. “They beat him to death, accusing him of robbing a shop for items worth Rs 200. Since Madhu is not part of any political party, there will be no one to fight for him. But, we should all feel ashamed thinking about that Malayali who took a selfie and celebrated, just moments before Madhu was beaten to death,” Joy Mathew wrote.

Writer CS Chandrika in her Facebook post said, “The Adivasi population in Kerala is merely 4.45 lakh. The answer to the question of where adivasis stand in the planning, programmes and the rigorous official meetings being held for the state’s development, lies in the death of hundreds of Adivasi children in Attappadi. Killing an Adivasi, who was starving, by tying him up, is a continuation of those deaths. The life and death of Adivasis reflect the heinous,

anti-human, violent face of Kerala’s hither to development.”

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Rajasthan MLAs fear assembly haunted by ‘evil spirits’ #Hahanews


  • Legislators in Rajasthan believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long.
  • They have blamed the‘evil spirits’ for member resignations, arrests and untimely death.
  • Some of the lawmakers have even shared their fears with CM Raje & urged her to call priests to pacify the ‘buri aatma’.

CM Vasundhara Raje and other MLAs during budget session at Rajasthan Assembly in Jaipur. (TOI File Photo)

Rajasthan MLAs fear assembly haunted by ‘evil spirits’

JAIPUR: Call it superstition or the fear of death. Legislators in the state are beginning to suspect that the Rajasthan assembly is haunted by spirits. The lawmakers believe that the House never retains its maximum strength of 200 members for long, either because one or the other member resigns, goes to jail or has an untimely death. And they blame it on ‘evil spirits’.

In fact, some of them have even shared their fears with chief minister Vasundhara Raje and urged her to call priests or clerics to pacify the ‘buri aatma’. A priest was spotted performing rituals near the assembly’s entrance on Thursday.

The demise of sitting BJP MLA from Singh Chouhan on Tuesday night has revived the belief and the fears of legislators who have been demanding measures to control the supernatural.


Last year, BJP MLA from Mandalgarh Kirti Kumari had succumbed to swine flu. Before that, BSP MLA B L Kushwah was jailed for murder. In the last assembly, Congress MLAs Mahipal Maderna, Malkhan Singh Bishnoi and Babu Lal Nagar were jailed on charges like murder and rape.


And yet, the superstitious MLAs fear all this is happening because the assembly building has been built by covering part of a cremation ground. Barely 200 metres from the building there still stands the Lal Kothi Moksh Dham (cremation ground).

The present assembly building, which is spread over nearly 17 acres and located close to the SMS Stadium, was built between November 1994 and March 2001. Before that, the state assembly was was housed in the old city’s Sawai Man Singh Town Hall that was built around 1884.

BJP MLA from Nagaur Habibur Rahman said, “The land over which the new building has been built was earlier used as a graveyard or for cremation and garbage ground where god knows what all used to be dumped. People must have buried bodies of children too here. Evil spirits usually roam around such places.”

The five-term MLA, who has been a minister too, said he was part of the committee that surveyed the land when the then CM Bhairon Singh Shekhawat sanctioned Rs 5 crore to build the new assembly building here. “To address my concerns about it being a graveyard/cremation land, they got some temples built in the vicinity,” Rahman said.

“When madam (Raje) asked us yesterday (Wednesday) why is this happening (untimely deaths of Chouhan and Kumari), I told her about this place’s past. I suggested that ‘yajna’ be performed or a ‘maulana’ be called to purify the place. It is in our culture. If we build at some wrong place, we can be freed through prayers and offerings,” he added.

Government chief whip Kalu Lal Gurjar said, “It’s true this assembly building has not had a full strength of 200 members for long. The untimely deaths of MLAs Chouhan and Kumari have worried us and we cannot help but think about the graveyard/cremation ground that was here. I believe that spirits can do bad. We spoke to the CM and she has assured us to do something about it.”


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Chhattisgarh govt cancels tribal rights over forest lands #WTFnews

Forest Rights Act allows government to divert forest lands for other purposes only after prior consent of the tribals through gram sabhas

The latter is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Adani Enterprises and RVUNL is a Rajasthan government enterprise.In an order passed on January 8, the government had cancelled the community land rights of the in the village, given under the (FRA).

The government, in the order, stated that the villagers had been using their legal rights over the forest land to stop work of mining in their village, which falls in the Parsa East and Kete Besan coal block. It is the first such order to come to light in India, where community rights of have been cancelled after being granted through the process laid down in the Business Standard reviewed the January 8 orders cancelling the land rights of the in the village.

The government and the district authorities, however, did not respond to the queries.The does not provide for revocation of either community or individual land rights once granted under the law. The law and the attendant regulations provide only for the government diverting the forest land for some other purpose after prior consent of the through their gram sabha. Under the FRA, are empowered to claim individual and community rights over forestlands they have traditionally hold on. The gram sabha of Bhatbarra did so and in September 3, 2013 they were handed over the lands by the state government.After that, the village became aware that the coal block could remain susceptible to mining despite the Supreme Court orders cancelling earlier allocations. In October 2014 the gram sabha (village council) of Ghatbarra, along with 19 other villages, took out a formal resolution opposing the mining in their lands.

Under the FRA, the gram sabha is the only authority empowered to decide the future of traditional tribal lands.The also requires that the claims and rights of all and other forest-dwellers are settled before the government looks to remove them under section 4(5) of the law and other rules.But the central government gave the clearance to divert the land for mining in 2012 without settling the rights. Business Standard reviewed the orders of the environment ministry.

One set of orders said the land would be diverted only once the rights of the and others had been settled. But then later orders (called stage 2 forest clearance) handed over the land for mining without ascertaining that the rights had actually been settled.The state government in its order dated January 8 notes (translated from Hindi): “When the administration tries to get diversion of forests done for the Parsa East and Kete Besen open coal block, the villagers, using the context of the land rights given by the collector to them, create barriers and protest to stop work.”The order notes that this was investigated by the forest department. The conservator of forests of Surguja found that the land rights were given to in 2013 while the forest clearance to RVUNL had been given in 2012.

He concluded, therefore, the community forest rights given to the could be cancelled.The district administration along with the tribal affairs and the forest department based on latter’s conclusions passed an order saying, because the land had been given in 2012 to the company for mining, it no longer classified as forestland in 2013 when it was given to under the  Consequently, the three set of authorities collectively decided that the government order handing over rights to in 2013 is cancelled.

The block has been caught up in a legal fracas over the forest clearance for other reasons as well. In 2014, the Green Tribunal (NGT) had

cancelled the forest clearance noting that the environment ministry had not looked at the impact of coal mining on biodiversity in the region, including presence of protected species such as the elephant. It asked the environment ministry to take a look again at the case. But the stay on operations was removed by the Supreme Court even as the NGT orders to relook at the clearance continued to operate. Since then the ministry has not taken a decision on the matter, records show.

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Patients and health groups condemn excessive and unethical pricing by private hospitals, stress need for regulation of healthcare charges



New Delhi, February 22, 2018


The study of the National Pharmaceutical Price Authority (NPPA) that analyzed patient bills from four prominent private hospitals is the newest evidence of overcharging and exploitation of patients. Patients and health groups asserted that the unethical practices of private hospitals are a direct outcome of the regulatory vacuum, which allows them to monetize the vulnerability of patients.

Gopendra Singh Parmar, father of late Sourya Pratap who was treated for dengue at Medanta – the Medicity, Gurgaon shared that more than 45% of his bill of Rs.16 lakhs was for medicines and consumables on which the hospital appears to have taken huge margins. Just lab charges accounted for another 9.5% of the bill. “The Government must frame rules to contain the rates charged by hospitals to make them affordable. Otherwise families will continue to be forced to sell their assets, beg and borrow in their desperation to treat loved ones, just as in my case,” he said.

With regards to existing regulation to control the prices of essential medicines through the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) 2013, Dr. Mira Shiva, Co-convenor of the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) pointed out several deficiencies. “The NPPA findings that non-scheduled medicines make up around 25% of the combined bill costs is hardly surprising given that almost 90% of the pharmaceutical market remains outside price control. Hospitals are easily able to use this to their advantage by choosing to prescribe more expensive medicines. In its report, the NPPA has acknowledged that the market-based formula for fixing ceiling prices leaves room for huge trade margins. The central flaw of the DPCO, 2013 is the deeply flawed market-based pricing mechanism that legitimizes profiteering and high prices. AIDAN has consistently advocated for expansion of the scope of the DPCO to cover all essential and life saving medicines and to reinstate a method of cost-based pricing that provides reasonable profits to companies” she said.

“The report has observed that a large share of the total costs comes from in-house diagnostic services.

There is a grave problem of absence of regulation of the rates of diagnostics because of which, according to national surveys, diagnostics account for an increasing share of out-of-pocket expenditure in both in-patient and out-patient care. The problem is being compounded in large private hospitals because they prey on patients by charging higher than market rates as well as adding on convenience fees,” remarked Dr. Dinesh Abrol, National Working Group on Patent Laws.

“Moreover, the testing and diagnostics industry is fueled through a model of cut practice, commissions and irrational, unnecessary prescription. Exploitation is aggravated and enabled by healthcare conglomerates formed by integrating pharmacy, diagnostic centre and hospital businesses. The Government should strengthen free diagnostics schemes, put in place national regulated prices and a system of prescription audit for diagnostics. In parallel, it should break the emerging monopolies of the conglomerates which contribute to driving up costs of healthcare”, Dr. Abrol continued.

Prasanna Saligram, Janaarogya Andolana Karnataka reiterated the consequences of absence of regulation as a result of which “healthcare providers are free to practice what is termed “supplier induced demand” and indulge in over medicalization since there is an inherent information asymmetry between the provider and the patient.”

Sulakshana Nandi, Joint National Convenor, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan highlighted the blatant violation of patients rights. “In case of both private insurance and Government sponsored health insurance schemes like RSBY that are supposed to be ‘cashless’, private hospitals regularly extract illegal payments from patients in order to make profits. This expenditure is impoverishing for many families”, she said. “Patients are commonly exploited in less obvious ways. Hospitals may have protocols that ban patients from buying medicines and consumables from outside the hospital pharmacy, refuse to display their rates or refuse to provide detailed bills” she continued.

  1. M. Gopakumar, AIDAN said, “the government should act decisively to put an end to pushing peoples’ health over the edge and forcing families into economic ruin for the sake of protecting profits. Towards this end, Government should immediately take measures to impose strict price controls, especially on medicines, devices and diagnostic services related to healthcare as well as on the treatment procedures”.

“The Central Government has the policy space to take the lead in regulating healthcare charges and should put in place an institutional mechanism, backed by necessary legislation, to oversee the price regulation of all aspects of healthcare and all over India in a systematic manner to make them affordable” added Malini Aisola, also of AIDAN.

“I appreciate the NPPA conducting such a detailed and thorough analysis and identifying the systematic loot process of private hospitals. I expect the Government to take cognizance of the NPPA findings and create new policy and regulations that will deter the healthcare mafia from fleecing patients and can prevent criminal collusion between pharmaceutical companies and hospitals/doctors. It is high time that the Government takes severe action against those found guilty and punishes them,” said Jayant Singh, whose daughter late Adya Singh was admitted to Fortis hospital, Gurgaon and charged in excess of Rs.16 lakhs.

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Kamal Haasan launches party ‘Makkal Needhi Maiam’, says will devote life to people




  • Actor Kamal Haasan’s political party will be known as Makkal Needhi Maiam (People’s Justice Centre).
  • The flag of his party is a set of hands holding one another by the wrist with a star in the middle.
  • Earlier, in the morning, the actor launched his political journey from Rameswaram.

MADURAI: Actor Kamal Haasan, who on Wednesday launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam (people justice centre) in the presence of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and others, said he would devote the rest of his life to the people.

“I was in your heart all this while. Now I want to be in all your homes. You had looked at me as a star all along. Now I request you to look at me as a lamp. Light me in all your homes,” he said, addressing a large gathering of people at Othakadai in Madurai.

Citing the Tamil proverb ‘Oru Soru’, which means a small example of a whole lot, he said the launch was just the first step for ‘makkal atchi’ (people’s rule).

Later, addressing his supporters Haasan said they have a duty and reminded them that this was not a “one day event”, but “a way of life.”


“I am not a leader to give advice. I am a worker to listen to your advice,” he said.

Haasan asked how much longer would the people wait and watch the injustice around them.

“If we reduce corruption, all of us will get power in our homes. I will not give Rs 6,000 for a vote. Because I don’t have the money. But even if I did, I won’t give,” he said in an apparent reference to the recent RK Nagar by-election in which parties allegedly bribed voters.

“If you had voted for the right person, forget Rs 6,000, you people could have earned Rs 6 lakh in a year. Instead, you got Rs 6,000 for five years. Don’t let the robbery of the past continue,” he said.

“Last night, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu asked me not to mind the left or right but just commit to action. Good and quality education must reach all sections of society. Games committed in the name of caste will have to be stopped. We will do it,” he said.

“People ask if I’m left or right. That is why I have named my party – centre (people justice centre).”

“I’m 63 years old. I haven’t come to rule for 40 years. I have come to sow the seeds for the next generation. People poke fun of my age. These are people with low life expectancy,” Haasan charged.

The actor expressed his desire to “make a change” and “oversee it.”

Speaking on the occasion, Kejriwal said he had always been a fan of Kamal Haasan the actor, and was now “a fan of Kamal, the real life hero.”

“Till date, people of Tamil Nadu were stuck between two parties – DMK and AIADMK. Kamal offers an honest political alternative. Next time don’t vote for a corrupt party. Now you can vote for an honest party. Vote for Kamal Haasan,” Kejriwal added.

“If you want corruption, vote for the DMK and the AIADMK. But if you want schools, road, water, electricity, vote for Kamal.”

He shared what he believed were the actor’s “best qualities”: “His courage to speak up and fight against injustice and communal forces in the country”.

The launch function began with the hoisting of the party flag.

The flag, in white background, has six hands joined together, with shades of red over three hands and the rest in white. A star can be seen in the centre, surrounded by a star-like background in black.

Haasan explained that the hands stood for the six south Indian states. “The star in the middle stand for you, the people,” he said.

The colours black and white have political significance in Tamil Nadu. They form part of the flags of the two big parties of the state – AIADMK and DMK – and the shades are also seen as a pointer to Dravidian ideology.

Earlier, in the morning, Haasan launched his political journey from Rameswaram and visited late President APJ Abdul Kalam’s residence and memorial.

He first visited Kalam’s residence and sought the blessings of the late President’s elder brother, Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraicker.

“Kalam resided in a simple house, but his national spirit was something which everyone should learn,” the actor said after his visit to Kalam’s residence.


Haasan also interacted with fishermen, calling them his “meenava nanbargal” (fishermen friends).

“I have come here to personally interact with you and understand your problems. Fishing is one of the important professions and all that is needed should be done to sustain it and safeguard their safety,” he said.

He stressed that he was interacting with the fishermen not to ask him to join his party, but that he had “come here to join them.”


Before leaving Rameswaram, the actor visited Kalam’s memorial and paid tributes to the late President. From Rameswaram, he went to Ramanathapuram, from where he travelled to his native place, Paramakudi. Huge crowds greeted him en route.


Haasan made short speeches in a few places including in Paramakudi. In Ramanathapuram, the actor said, “I am no more a cinema star. From now on, I will be a lamp at your home.”

Haasan also announced the constitution of the party’s high-level committee. CK Kumaravel, a Chennai-based businessman running salon chain Naturals; Gnanasambandam, Tamil scholar and professor; and actor Sripriya Rajkumar have joined the party.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and party leader Somnath Bharti, and farmer leader PR Pandian also participated in the event.

Kejriwal congratulated Haasan and his team for starting the great political alternative for the two Dravidian parties in the State. “What Kamal is proposing is an honest government, which will transform the State and I can see that people are ready for it,” he said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in message that Kamal, as an actor, had been a great unifying force between the two States. Tamil Nadu, which is known for its political reformist movements, has been a great influence on Kerala too.

Earlier today, Kamal Haasan visited the late President APJ Abdul Kalam’s house at Rameswaram and paid respects. Later he met the fishermen and interacted with them before he left for Madurai. En route to Madurai, he addressed meetings at his native Paramakudi, and at Manamadurai and Ramanathapuram.


Kamal Haasan addresses a gathering at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district, on Wednesday   –  L Balachandar


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India – Republics for Kshatriyas

Ancient regimes in India were far from democratic, had little place for other castes

Republics For KshatriyasThe strict control exercised by the ‘republican’ states through executive edicts and legislation exposes their undemocratic character.In his article, ‘Denying Nehru his due,’ Ashutosh Varshney (IE, February 14) has rightly contested the assertion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that democracy is integral to the Indian nation and that there are many examples of its rich democratic traditions dating back to centuries. Modi’s braggadocio is inspired by the obsolete ideas of the historians who frequently spoke of ancient Indian “republican” polities before Independence as part of their project to unduly glorify ancient India and to explode the colonial myth of Indian despotism.

These polities existed in the Indus basin where they were survivors of the early Vedic tribes, and in the Himalayan foothills in eastern Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, where, inspired by the tradition of a varna-less egalitarian society un-oppressed by the hereditary monarchies in the remote past, they emerged as a reaction to the steadily growing Vedic orthodoxy.

This is borne out by the legendary account of the origin of the Shakyas, the tribe to which Gautama Buddha belonged. They are said to have descended from the Koshalan royal family which expelled its members — four brothers and four sisters — who went to the sub-Himalayan region where they married among themselves so as to maintain their purity of blood. The founders of the so-called republics broke away from their parent stock and moved to new areas. This may have been the case with Videha and Vaishali, which were monarchies transformed into “republics”.

The chief feature of the “republican” governments was their public assembly (santhagara) attended by the representatives of the tribes and the heads of the families and presided over by one of the representatives called the raja or senapati. All important issues were placed before and discussed by the assembly where decisions were taken unanimously. This has given rise to the much trumpeted notion of a republican tradition of ancient India and may have been the basis of PM Modi’s boastful statement.

But knowledge of history has never been a strong point of the RSS from whose ranks Modi has risen to become the prime minister. Had he any familiarity with ancient Indian history he would have known that the tribal assembly (santhagara) was dominated by oligarchs and that non-Kshatriyas, slaves and wage earners had no place in it. Members of the assembly bore the title raja or king; in the case of the Licchavis 7,707 rajas, all Kshatriyas, sat in the assembly and the head of their state was a senapati, the term denoting commander in a monarchy. Far from being a democracy, the Licchavi state was an oligarchy.

Further, the strict control exercised by the “republican” states through executive edicts and legislation exposes their undemocratic character. When, for instance, the Buddha visited the city of Pava, the Mallas, another contemporary “republican” tribe issued a decree that a general welcome should be accorded to him and any defaulter would have to pay a heavy fine. According to a Buddhist Jataka story there was a ban among the Shakyas on the marriage of girls even with a king of supposedly low status.

The gana of Vaishali formulated a rule which related to the marriage of girls in different wards of the city. Similarly, inter-dining among the people of unequal birth was also prohibited. Rules such as these were no better than those evolved by the Brahmin authors of the Dharmasutras. A closer scrutiny, for which there is no space here, would show that the governments of the Licchavis, Shakyas and Mallas possessed all the paraphernalia of a monarchical state. One would expect that the prime minister of the largest democracy in the world is better informed about the country’s past before articulating his effete and obsolete ideas and misleading the people of the country.

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