IAMC Weekly News Roundup - July 24th, 2017 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 24th, 2017

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Soul of India resides in pluralism, need to eschew violence: President (Jul 24, 2017, The Tribune)

Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday that soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance and the country must free its public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. In his farewell address broadcast to the nation, he said creation of an inclusive society has to an article of faith. He called for resurrecting the power of non-violence.…

He said multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. “We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries. There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away,” he said.…

“At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in the democratic process. “Power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a compassionate and caring society,” he said. Mukherjee said Mahatma Gandhi saw India as an inclusive nation where every section lived in equality and moved forward unitedly in ever-widening thought and action.…



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Chhattisgarh minister’s wife buys state forest land to build a resort, his dept says we can do nothing (Jul 25, 2017, Indian Express)

Raising questions of propriety and conflict of interest, Sarita Agrawal, wife of Chhattisgarh Minister and BJP leader Brijmohan Agrawal, acquired 4.12 hectares of forest land which was owned by the government and is now, along with her son, building a resort on it.

The purchase, in September 2009, was red-flagged by several officials of the Raman Singh government, as recently as June 30 this year, but her husband’s Ministry put down in writing that “it’s not possible to take any action in the matter,” an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed.…

The resort, called Shyam Vatika, is being developed near Sirpur in the Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh…. Not just the wife, his son, too, is involved with the project. Two companies, Aditya Srijan Private Limited and Purbasa Vanijya Private Limited, have acquired land for the same project. Registrar of Companies records show that the former company has both Sarita Agrawal and her son Abhishek Agrawal as directors while Purbasa Vanijya has Abhishek Agrawal as one of its directors.…



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‘Modi’s election, like Trump’s, has unleashed violence against minorities’ (Jul 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Drawing parallels between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Martin Luther King III, the son of American civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr, said here on Friday that both have limited regard for the poor and for law and order.

King III, a human rights advocate and community activist was speaking at the inauguration of the three-day conference “Quest for equity – Reclaiming social justice, revisiting Ambedkar”, in which around 300 scholars, activists and policymakers will discuss the ideas of Dr BR Ambedkar.

“Like Donald Trump’s campaign, the election of Narendra Modi has unleashed a ferocious animosity against minorities,” King said drawing unflattering parallel between the two leaders. The government has consistently denied that there is any intolerance in the country. “We must find a way to bring together the best minds in the world to find solutions,” he stressed.…



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Lynch mobs seem to know nothing will happen to them, they’re implicitly meeting approval from higher-ups: UCLA scholar (Jul 18, 2017, Indian Express)

…These lynchings are a form of communal violence that is different from what we have seen before. Firstly, they are apparently decentralised. Earlier, organised acts of mass violence were repetitive in character and there was a pattern, e.g. processions were attacked or the violence was timed with public festivals.…

But what we are seeing now is not at a single place, there are fewer numbers attacked and it is decentralised, done by little groups all over the place. These groups are either being told, or imagine that they have been told to act in this way. Further, after the event, no one in authority is clearly telling them the contrary. There is also an aspirational quality to the violence. It is low-level… if journalists don’t choose to report it, it may not even register if one isn’t vigilant.

But the curious thing is that the perpetrators want it to be known. After all, some of the people doing this are even videotaping it. They make sure the information is circulating, intended as a warning, as a signal and controlling device for the social behaviour expected of minorities. It is a form of violence which can pop up here one day and there on another. It is never mass killings, but based on the existence of grassroots kind of organisations which believe in doing this, and also to an extent on copycat behaviour. So even if it is decentralised, there is a larger context.…



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Adani Group ‘SLAPP’ Pushes EPW Editor Out of His Job (Jul 18, 2017, The Wire)

Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta became the first top-level editorial casualty of corporate India’s increasing tendency to file multi-crore defamation cases as a means of countering critical reporting, resigning after the directors of the trust which runs the storied journal ordered him to take down an article on the Adani group.

Last month, Adani Power Ltd. sent a letter via its lawyers to EPW, the article’s four authors (which included Thakurta) and Sameeksha Trust, which owns and runs the journal. The lawyer’s letter demanded that immediate steps be taken to “remove/delete and unconditionally retract” an article ‘Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group'(June 24, 2017) that they said was defamatory and harmful to the reputation of their client. The letter also objected to the publication of an earlier article,’Did the Adani Group Evade Rs 1,000 Crore in Taxes?’ (January 14, 2017), but did not specifically ask for it to be removed.

The letter said that unless this was done, “our clients shall be constrained to take such action as they may be advised”. On Tuesday, the Sameeksha Trust board, which met in Delhi, ordered the editorial department to take the article down (alongside which Thakurta had also posted a copy of the Adani letter and a legal response by EPW). Thakurta resigned soon after the meeting.…



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Maharashtra Collector Confirms EVM Malfunctioning In RTI Reply, Votes Went To Lotus Symbol (Jul 22, 2017, Outlook)

Contrary to the claim by the Election Commission of India (ECI), an RTI response from Maharashtra’s Buldhana district collectorate has confirmed malfunctioning of electronic voting machine (EVM), reported IANS.

According to the report, Buldhana collectorate’s election department has replied to an RTI query confirming that votes of an independent candidate had gone to BJP’s lotus symbol.

The “EVM fraud” happened during February 16 elections to Buldhana Zilla Parishad from Lonar, at a polling station in Sultanpur village of the district, said RTI activist Anil Galgali.…



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SC questions reappointment of Gujarat cops involved in ‘fake encounters’ (Jul 21, 2017, Hindustan Times)

The reappointment by the Gujarat government of two cops, allegedly involved in fake encounter cases, has come under the Supreme Court scanner.

A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar on Friday issued notice to the state on a petition filed by retired IPS officer, Rahul Sharma, who claimed the appointments are in violation of the law laid down by the apex court in the police reforms case. Sharma’s plea was not entertained by Gujarat high court following which he moved the SC.

The two cops are NK Amin and Tarun Barot. Amin was accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case but was discharged. He is yet to get a clean chit for allegedly killing Ishrat Jehan in a staged encounter.…



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Modi’s false promises on crop MSP exposed, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh makes a u-turn in Lok Sabha (Jul 21, 2017, Twocircles.net)

On Wednesday, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh again misled the country by making a completely false statement by claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never promised to offer a minimum support price to farmers but had instead promised to give a profit of 50% to farmers on the production cost.

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has said that not only is this a completely false statement, but the agricultural minister also did not clarify how the farmers can gain a profit of 50% without having an MSP in place.

Defying Singh’s claim, social activist and founder of Swaraj Abhiyan Yogendra Yadav tweeted a video dated April 4, 2014. The video clearly shows that Modi had promised to fix the crops’ MSP at above 50% of the production cost.…



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Modi government policies are burning Kashmir: Congress VP Rahul Gandhi (Jul 22, 2017, Hindustan Times)

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reiterated his charge on Friday that the Modi government’s policies are “burning” Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that no third party intervention was required to resolve India’s internal matters.

“India is Kashmir and Kashmir is India,” Gandhi told reporters in the Parliament House Complex. “It is being said there should be discussion on Kashmir with China and Pakistan, but this is our internal matter… our internal business and no one should interfere in it,” he said.…

“I have been saying this for a long time that Modi’s and the NDA’s policies are burning Jammu and Kashmir,” the Congress vice president said.…



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Ambedkar meet: Resolution adopted against ‘regressive forces’ (Jul 24, 2017, Indian Express)

Regressive political and social forces which are in positions of power are undermining the foundations of Indian society and pose “a grave threat to the idea of India espoused by the freedom movement and spelt out in the Constitution”, said a resolution called the Bengaluru Declaration that was passed at the end of a three-day international conference on Dr B R Ambedkar.

Regressive forces with state power “are systematically dismantling the institutions that are the foundations of our society, by undermining India’s holistic welfare and affirmative action architecture and by destroying the pluralistic fabric of our nation”, read the declaration, put together by academics and participants at the conference organised by the Congress government in Karnataka. The conference ended on Sunday.

While assiduously avoiding direct references to BJP, RSS, PM Narendra Modi or recent incidents of violence over food habits, the Bengaluru Declaration has called for all governments in the country to uphold constitutional values and the rule of law. “The State must be unequivocal in its protection of fundamental rights and constitutional values. Irrespective of religious identities or institutional affiliations, the State needs to strictly reassert political and legal accountability for any violence. This is the only way to prevent lynchings and uphold the rule of law,” it said.…



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Opinions and Editorials

India’s Turn Toward Intolerance – Editorial (Jul 17, 2017, New York Times)

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by India’s Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.…



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Muslims Still Consigned to Gujarat’s Slums 15 Years After 2002 Riots – By Rina Chandran (Jul 25, 2017, The Wire)

Shahjahan Bano was a young boy in February 2002, selling vegetables with his mother in a market in Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat, when some of the worst communal riots in the country’s history broke out.

For days mobs rampaged the city, burning houses, looting shops, raping women and killing men, women and children. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the violence. Bano and his mother, who hid in the market the first night, were taken to a relief camp the next day where other Muslims huddled, awaiting news of their families and homes.…

“As a result, Muslims are confined to the filthiest corners, with no hope of upliftment. Development and progress are for everyone else in the state, but not for Muslims,” he said. The division is so marked that Juhapura, a teeming township in Ahmedabad of about 400,000 people, many who moved there after the 2002 riots, is referred to by local Hindus as “Little Pakistan”. Conditions there and in other Muslim settlements in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, are similar: residents lack proper roads, streetlights, adequate drinking water, sewage pipes, and access to public clinics and schools.…



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Why Dina Nath Batra wants Tagore, Urdu, Mughals removed from school books – By Shougat Dasgupta (Jul 24, 2017, Dailyo.in)

Ideological warriors like Dina Nath Batra should have no part to play, no influence to wield in the writing of Indian textbooks or on the content of the national syllabus. As a reporter, I met Batra in 2014 when Penguin India, to general bemusement, agreed to pulp extant copies of scholar Wendy Doniger’s award-winning book The Hindus: An Alternative History.

I went to the school he ran in southwest Delhi and he proved, for the record, to be a genial companion. He is a man of considerable experience and achievement. But he is, without question, a crank.

Our discussion, apart from Batra’s digressions into the existence of nudist colonies in Calfornia, mostly centred around the lack of cultural education imparted to Indian schoolchildren. But no one who is thinking critically would accept Batra’s version of Indian culture and history. His myriad objections to passages in books amount to one overall objective – a desire to eliminate complexity.…



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Ram Nath Kovind’s election was fixed. It brings no honour to India – By Rajeev Dhavan (Jul 23, 2017, Dailyo.in)

No one can seriously claim that India has had a proper presidential election. Ram Nath Kovind’s election was fixed. That brings no honour to a nation that claims to be a democratic republic.

The election was a non-starter because the votes were pre-determined. If Meira Kumar provided a temporal moment which could provide the possibilities of a contested match, it was dashed into the ground by majority politics.…

As things stand, the president has interesting powers. The Constitution gives him the right to access all government information (Article 78), to remand matters (Article 78 (3) and 74 (1)) for reconsideration, especially after post-Emergency changes to the Constitution. He can block President’s Rule and ordinances. He has a role in the appointment of governors. He is not a mere symbol but can be the powerful conscience keeper for the nation. This is why his post is important and should go beyond appointing stooges bereft of dignity.…



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Trump and Modi’s silence on hate crimes provides shelter for criminals – By Rachana Kamtekar (Jul 17, 2017, TRT World)

…In May the Modi government proposed a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter in deference to extremist Hindu “cow protectors”, despite the fact that Muslims and Christians, and quite a few Hindus and Sikhs besides, might choose to eat beef. Since then India has seen seven lynchings of Muslims on the pretext of beef eating or cow slaughter. One of the bloodiest was the June 22 lynching of fifteen year-old Junaid Khan and his teenage friends as they were heading home on a suburban train from some Delhi Eid shopping.

“Beef-eater!”, “Anti-national!”, “Mullah!”, the twenty-odd assailants taunted the boys as they began slapping them around before stabbing them repeatedly and throwing Junaid onto the platform where he bled to death. India has seen a dozen lynchings of Muslims since the BJP came to power in 2014. Yet the BJP-led government has been silent about them. The Trump regime has also been reticent about condemning the rising tide of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US (260 since 2015).…

In India, criminalising what Muslims might ordinarily eat – and what they must, for fear of their lives, give up or at least deny eating – doesn’t just license criminals to attack Muslims.…



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Cow Is Mother As Long As It Gives Milk – Editorial (Jul 19, 2017, Nav Hind Times)

…Most lynchings have taken place in the BJP-rules states. There has been a spurt in the number of cases of attacks by the pseudo cow vigilantes over the last two years and scores of cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand.

The states did not take the Prime Minister’s first warning seriously. Let us hope that they would act strongly and arrest and prosecute the offenders as well as take steps to prevent lynching of people in the name of cow protection. The Prime Minister’s advice to the states to open dossiers to see how many of the self-proclaimed vigilantes were criminals should be followed.

BJP President Amit Shah recently alleged that there were more lynchings during the UPA regime. It cannot be anybody’s case that violence was not taking place during the Congress-led regime. Lynchings by mobs of criminals are quite a gory, but common phenomenon in India. There have been lynchings of eve teasers and boys in love with a girl whose family did not like him to see her. However, the difference between those lynchings and the lynchings taking place in the BJP-ruled states is that it is being done in the name of Hindu religion.…



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