India: How One Village’s Successful Tryst With Self-Governance Inspired Others to Embrace Gram Swaraj

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The Wire | August 5, 2017

A village council meeting being held in Barkheda village to discuss community issues. Credit: Ishan Agrawal

A village council meeting being held in Barkheda village to discuss community issues. Credit: Ishan Agrawal

A few years ago, Barkheda village in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh was a typical example of how rural communities neglect their common resources and let them degrade or be used by a few influential households. Then a few villagers decided it was time for change.

With the help of development workers from a non-profit with expertise in natural resources management, some of them figured out that the commons could be used to the mutual benefit of the community at large. They started raising their voices at village council meetings.Read More »

‘How many deaths will it take . . .’

by Smarajit Jana

Frontier | August 15, 2017

How many farmers’ suicide would make it a ‘case’ and bring us to sense? ‘The answer is not blowing in the wind’. More than three lakhs of farmers committed suicide since 1995. This is the registered cases of suicides as per the Government department. However as per definition, farmers’ are those who own farm land in his or her name. Even if one of the spouses or child of a farmer commit suicide having no land holdings in his or her name will not be figured in the statistics. So the actual number would be much higher if all these cases of suicides that are dependent on agriculture are included. On an average 15400 farmers committed suicides every year in India in between 1995 to 2003. This has increased to more than 16000 in between 2004 to 2012. Suicides rose by 42% in between 2014 and 2015. The number of suicides quadrupled in the state of Karnatka during this period.  In fact the rising trend of farmers’ suicide across India is a well established fact since it first reported in 1995, barring only few exceptional periods. still it is not a ‘chilling factor’ and  none of these numbers has moved the policy makers, when the farming community is passing through deep to deeper crisis.Read More »

On Independence Day Leaders Of Narmada Bachao Andolan To Remain In Jail

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Countercurrents.org | August 14, 2017

medha-narmada

Badwani, Madhya Pradesh. August 14, 2017: The day Medha Patkar and others broke their 17 day indefinite fast, Madhya Pradesh police foisted cases of disturbing peace, kidnapping and many other trumped up charges on 55 named and 2,500 unnamed project affected and activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan. Most of the cases are related to the incident on August 7th when 2,000 strong police force violently attacked the fasting protesters, injured 42 and forcibly hospitalised 10 of them in Dhar and Indore Hospitals. This itself speaks volumes of the terror and oppression being unleashed in the Narmada valley today.Read More »

Medha Patkar Arrested Again

 | August 09, 2017

medha-narmada-fast

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar was arrested again after being released from hospital. She is on the 14th day of her fast. Today after discharged from hospital in the afternoon, Medha Patkar started at 4 PM from Indore after meeting her supporters and resting a little. As their vehicle was moving towards Barwani, her vehicle was intercepted by nearly 35 police vehicles and arrested her again. The vehicle’s driver was forced out and a police man took control of the vehicle. Medha Patkar will be produced before the magistrate.Read More »

Declare Adivasis as Indigenous People Of India

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Countercurrents.org | August 09, 2017

adviasi-dongira-kondh

Today we celebrate World Indigeneous people’s day but in the backyard of the biggest democracy of the world is the systematic isolation and displacement of millions of adivasis in the name of development. A veteran activist is fighting for the rights of the aadivasis on the Narmada valley but the government is determined to ‘develop’ the state even when it ensure dislocation of thousands of adivasis in India. Can we expect anything from those in power who have already decided what is ‘good’ for adivasis by dislocating them without any honorable rehabilitation? The state does not even allow activist to peacefully protest against a project which has never been shared with those who are going to be affected. The brutal and condemnable police action against the Narmada activists led by Ms Medha Patkar, in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh reflect the methodology of the Indian state which does not believe in dialogue on the issue of ‘development’. Those who challenge it peacefully are antinational while others who have picked up the guns have only given state legitimacy to brutally suppress the adivasi revolt in the name of Naxalism. Frankly speaking, fasting methods will not move Indian elites unless it is either done by the prime minister or some Swamies and Babas. Anna Hazare’s fast was to discredit the Manmohan Singh government and the nation is paying a price for it. Not that we loved Dr Singh but definitely he was much more sober and better than his alternative’.Read More »

Narmada Valley Hunger Strike Attacked: Medha Patkar And Four Others Arrested

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 Environmental Protection | August 07, 2017

narmada-protest

New Delhi | August 07, 2017 : In response to Indefinite fast led by 11 Sardar Sarovar Dam affected people and Medha Patkar in Chikhalda, Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, India, Govt of Madhya Pradesh send police forces in thousands and attacked the peaceful meeting going on there around 6 PM Today. There was no attempt to talk to the protesters sitting on fast against the illegal and unjust drowning and forceful eviction of more than 40000 families in Narmada Valley residing there without complete and just rehabilitation. For last 12 days govt made no effort to have any dialogue and started raising panic about their deteriorating health, no attempt at any dialogue.Read More »

India: Despite All the Neglect, Land Reforms Remain Relevant and Important

by Bharat Dogra

Frontier | July 27, 2017

One of the least commented upon but nevertheless important aspects of economic policy and agricultural policy during the last two to three decades has been the extent to which the important issue of land reforms has been neglected and sidelined in India. Not that land reforms were particularly successful in India at any earlier stage. There may not have been any great achievements but nevertheless, keeping in view that India is a large country, even limited achievements translated in terms of several hundred thousand people getting some land.

In terms of future programs and initiatives, a hope remained alive for several years that as long as land reforms remained on the official agenda, if not today then tomorrow something important can be achieved. But what has happened during recent years is that land reforms in terms of significant redistribution of land among the rural poor have almost vanished from the radar of government policy makers.Read More »

India: GST Conversion Blues – Weavers Weep, Free Kitchens Fret, Exporters Slap Their Foreheads In Despair

by Raman Swamy

Frontier | July 12, 2017

It has been a week since GST came into force.  Many big industrial houses have quickly adapted to the game-changing new tax regime and some have even issued statements welcoming it.

A significant number of prominent players, trade organizations and individual legal pundits, economists and chartered accountants have gone one step further by congratulating the government for bringing in such a bold and historic reform to galvanize the Indian economy, attract foreign investment and enable the country to achieve its potential to become an economic super-power.

The other side of the picture is that there are crores of common citizens, whether involved in small and medium scale trade, commence, manufacturing, retailing or services, for whom the last seven days have been full of stress and strain.   Some of them are determined to master the challenges posed by the new GST regulations come what may – they have rolled up their sleeves and girdled their loin cloths with grim resolve,  humming the words of the inspirational song “We shall overcome”.Read More »

India: Uncrowding Our Big Cities

The Smart Way to Smart Cities

by Mohan Guruswamy

Frontier | July 06, 2017

One of the early text books I read on Political Economy started with a scenario set in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a city with huge traffic problems in the 70’s and 80’s, with a traffic jam at a major crossing on a hot summers day, that turns into a gridlock, and then leads to people abandoning their cars unable to bear the severe heat, only aggravating the problems. This then leads to outbreaks of road rage, fistfights and soon into a welter of riots and inflicting a severe breakdown of law and order, that then spreads to others parts of Brazil. Brazil tackled the problem with its characteristic simple out of the box thinking. Sao Paulo still functions. I think India is now a better candidate to revolution coming out of a traffic jam.

Most capital cities have a concentration of government offices of various tiers and responsibilities crowded in as close as possible to the real and imagined corridors of power. In India apart from the ministries, departments and agencies, we also have a concentration of PSU corporate offices in New Delhi. Many of these actually need not be here.Read More »