The wounds inflicted on India’s secularism and democracy by the demolition of the Babri Masjid 25 years ago are still raw. And the ongoing push by the BJP Governments and its agents to construct a temple where the mosque once stood is rubbing salt into those wounds. Continue reading
The anti-people, anti-poor policies and activities of the BJP led Sarbananda Sonowal govt in Assam has once again been reflected in the eviction of more than 500 families in the area around the Amchang wildlife sanctuary. This harrowing atrocity left people in open amidst chilling winter, even the schools have not been spared by bulldozers. It is the time for annual exams in schools and this destruction has caused the loss of a complete year for the kids. This eviction too is done by misusing a high Court order for protecting the forest area as has happened in other parts of the country, this incidence leaves several questions unanswered. Continue reading
Just ten days back from today, New Delhi’s Parliament Street was reverberated with the thunderous roar of lakhs of workers from all over the country, demanding their rights. Their slogans and voices resonated loud and clear. India’s working class, in one voice, spoke for the whole country as they demanded curbs on price rise and universalisation of the public distribution system and creation of jobs. Their presence in lakhs at this protest ‘Mahapadav’ (grand sit-in) at Parliament Street was an indictment of the Modi Government and its utter betrayal of the labouring people of India.
Now, on 20-21 November, farmers from all over the country gathered at Delhi in a historic Kisan Mukti Sansad (Farmers’ Liberation Parliament). We are all witness to how in the past two years farmers brutalized by the twin burden of falling prices in the face of rising costs and mounting debts, have erupted in protests braving bullets and repression in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and several other states. Two of their key demands are: better prices for produce and debt relief. Continue reading
Pauperising the masses and pampering the big corporates – this in a nutshell is the unfolding economic agenda of the Modi regime. We have witnessed this in the recent policy level assaults on Indian economy and democracy – through the triple trauma of demonetization, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and bank recapitalization to cover up bad loans. Continue reading
The “OFFICIAL” figures speak for themselves
- RETURN of 99% of the notes withdrawn implying that either there was very little “black money” in cash or whatever was there had been WHITENED!
- ALL so-called justifications of demonetization have FAILED • FAKE currency is STILL around. A miniscule amount of fake notes was confiscated.
- “Terror funding” (as claimed by the government) certainly did not end.
- Indian economy has NOT become “cashless”!
- CRASH of the economy: India lost its fastest-growing major economy tag compared with China’s 6.9% in the same period.
- GDP growth rate FELL from 7% (in Jan-Mar 2016) TO 6.1% (in Jan-Mar 2017) and further to 5.7% in Apr-Jun 2017.
- Industrial STAGNATION: GVA (Gross Value Added) has consistently been falling, from 7.6% in the beginning of the year, to just 5.6% currently.
- Manufacturing GDP has FALLEN to merely 1.2%. Small and Medium Sectors have been severely hit.
- Massive FALL in the off-take of bank credit:
- Non-food bank credit increased by 5.5 per cent in August 2017 compared to 8.2 per cent increase in August 2016.
- Credit to agriculture and allied activities increased by 6.5 per cent in August 2017, compared to 13.6 per cent increase in August 2016.
- Credit to industry contracted by 0.3 per cent in August 2017 as compared with a contraction of 0.2 per cent in August 2016.
- Credit to the services sector increased by 5.0 per cent in August 2017, much lower than the increase of 12.1 per cent in August 2016.
- Personal loans increased by 15.7 per cent in August 2017, lower than the increase of 18.1 per cent in August 2016.
- MASSIVE fall in employment: CMIE has calculated 15 million job loss during the post-demonitisation first four months of 2017! Formal employment has declined from 928.7 lakh in Jan-April 2016 to 861.2 lakh in Jan-April 2017.
- Feku and Farcical Claims on the number of NEW taxpayers post-demonetization: MYTH of increased TAX RETURNS due to demonetization: The government has been on a PR overdrive this year, claiming all kinds of numbers at will:
Defeating All Attempts of Communal Polarisation, Workers Resolve to
Fight Back the Pro-Corporate, Anti-Poor, Anti-Worker Regime of Loot!
This November shall witness one of the largest working class mobilisations against the Modi government’s anti worker, anti-poor policies in the capital. Ten Central Trade Unions and Federations of Defence, Banking, Insurance, Telecom, Roadways, PSUs, State & Central Government Employees have come together to defy the diktats of the anti-people BJP government and organize a three days continuous dharna in front of the Parliament on 9th, 10th and 11th November, 2017. Continue reading
Few days back, the entire nation was shocked by the stunning news of a young girl, Santoshi Kumari in Simdega district of Jharkhand, dying of starvation after being denied food for not having Aadhaar-linked ration card. Shockingly, Santoshi died after starving for eight days and as she was dying, she kept asking bhat bhat (for rice) her mother. Santoshi’s family had not received any rice from the public distribution system for several months before this horrifying death, as their ration card had not been electronically linked with Aadhaar number. Continue reading
Modi, in an imperial style, will be in Gujarat tomorrow 17 Sep inaugurating the Sardar Sarovar dam on his birthday. And as he does this, he is signing a warrant for utter devastation drowning more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam in Madhya Pradesh. Also, the water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar is resulting drowning of thousands of families, houses, bridges, cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land. Nothing could be more shameful than the sight of an elected Prime Minister forcing a celebration of his birthday on the edifice of destruction of lives and livelihoods of our people. Continue reading
The Government claims to lack funds for education. Is that true?
JNU, well known for its inclusive character and academic excellence, sustains itself with government funding of about Rs 170 crores per year. In the year 2016-17, government sops to super-rich corporates, through exemptions in corporate tax were to the tune of Rs 83,492 crores. Had the Government made corporates pay their taxes, the amount could have funded 491 affordable and good quality Universities like JNU! Continue reading
It is ordinary citizens from all over the country whose determined challenge to the Central Government’s efforts to violate privacy and demand revelation of data under Aadhaar that led to the landmark Supreme Court judgement upholding right to privacy as a fundamental right.
The Government of India as well as various BJP ruled states argued in Court that citizens do not enjoy a right to privacy; that the poor do not need privacy; that citizens do not have a right over their own bodies; that the Constitution made no mention of privacy.
The Supreme Court verdict demolished these arguments and upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right. It affirmed that the right to privacy is not “granted” by the Constitution; rather every person is born with this right which the Constitution recognizes and affirms.
In response to the Central government’s argument that privacy is an “elitist construct”, the verdict responded: “Every individual in society irrespective of social class or economic status is entitled to the intimacy and autonomy which privacy protects. The refrain that the poor need no civil and political rights and are concerned only with economic well-being has been utilised though history to wreak the most egregious violations of human rights.”
The verdict made it very clear that the right to privacy is the citizen’s protection against the State’s authoritarianism: “Fundamental rights are the only constitutional firewall to prevent State’s interference with those core freedoms constituting liberty of a human being. The right to privacy is certainly one of the core freedoms which is to be defended.”
After the verdict, the usually talkative BJP leadership went silent; and then, even as Modi remained silent on it, BJP leaders like Ravishankar Prasad began to claim – contrary to govt.’s own written submissions and arguments in the court- that they had always stood for right to privacy! At the same time, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who argued against right to privacy in Court, have gone to the extent of suggesting that the verdict can also be seen as a case of “judicial overreach”!
The BJP Government, in response to citizens who opposed Aadhaar, said that data mining under Aadhaar was valid since the right to privacy was not a fundamental right. Now that the right to privacy has been upheld as a fundamental right, BJP leaders are all trying to claim that since fundamental rights are subject to reasonable restrictions, right to privacy too is “not absolute” and is subject to restrictions!
This remarkable and historic verdict has many aspects that give fresh meaning and relevance to the Constitution. One of its most significant aspects is that it reviewed and corrected the Supreme Court’s own flawed judgments – upholding the Emergency and upholding Section 377 that criminalises LGBT persons.
The verdict affirms, “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.”
The verdict also affirms, “I do not think that anybody would like to be told by the State as to what they should eat or how they should dress or whom they should be associated with either in their personal, social or political life.”
This has a direct bearing on the Constitutionality of laws under which BJP Governments have been justifying the raiding of private homes to search for beef; and attempts to ban the consumption of beef or slaughter of animals. Earlier, the Bombay High Court gave a verdict striking down sections 5(d) and 9(b) of the Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which criminalised and imposed punishment on persons found in possession of beef of animals, slaughtered in or outside the state, on the ground that it infringed upon a person’s “right to privacy”. The Maharashtra Government has challenged this in the Supreme Court arguing that right to privacy is not a fundamental right. Now after the latest SC verdict, this claim stands demolished.
In upholding the right to privacy, the verdict also safeguards the right to dissent and diversity: an immensely significant thing at a time when the BJP Government is seeking to brand every opinion, every practice, every taste that is not in tune with the “majority” view to be anti-national and criminal. The verdict makes it very clear that the Constitution safeguards the right of citizens to hold their own views and opinion and sexual, cultural, and dietary practices even if the majority does not approve of them. The verdict is a reminder that democracy is not about the rule of the majoritarian mob but about the securing of the rights of minorities and dissenters.
The implications of the verdict for Aadhaar are huge. No longer can the Government sustain its right to indiscriminately and mandatorily demand the revelation of data as a precondition to access their wages, their rations, their pensions. Just as the Emergency sought to take away the right to privacy and place citizens’ lives under state surveillance, so does Aadhaar – and the SC verdict has now put a spanner in those works. The Government can no longer justify giving citizens’ private data into the control of foreign and corporate companies. It can no longer justify extracting and using citizens’ private data for the purpose of surveillance and snooping.
Aadhaar is not – as the Government claims – simply a benign use of techonology to facilitate welfare measures. Surveillance technology is intimately linked with fascist and totalitarian projects. Can we forget that during Hitler’s rule, the IBM corporation created machines that served to identify and track Jewish populations across Europe, so that they could be ghettoized, and later transported to concentration camps?