Miljoenen Indiërs hebben dinsdag en woensdag (8 en 9 januari 2019) deelgenomen aan de Bharat Bandh, de nationale staking uitgeroepen door de overkoepelende vakbondsorganisatie Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). Van de CITU maken tien vakbonden deel uit.
De staking was vooral te voelen in het openbaar vervoer en de banken. Ook in het onderwijs en in de mijnbouw en zware industrie was de staking effectief. In het ganse land namen arbeiders uit openbare en privésector deel aan de vakbondsbetogingen.
De vakbonden protesteren met de staking tegen het asociaal beleid van de regering Modi. Ze tillen zwaar aan geplande wijzigingen aan de arbeidswet ten gunste van het patronaat. De vakbonden klagen dat de regering hen niet bij besprekingen over die wijzigingen betrekt.
Op talrijke plaatsen namen ook boeren deel aan de acties v an de CITU. Bij de boeren is het misnoegen over Modi’s politiek de voorbije tijd sterk toegenomen.
The government of India wants tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google to remove content it deems “unlawful” within 24 hours of official notice, and develop “automated tools” which would “proactively identify and remove such material,” reports BuzzFeed, citing the publication of the proposed rules by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
The rules would also require companies to break end-to-end encryption to allow the government to snoop on communications.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) published the proposed rules on its website following a report on Monday by the Indian Express revealing the government’s proposal to modify the country’s primary IT law to work them in. The report comes days after India’s government seemingly authorized 10 federal agencies to snoop into every computer in the country last week.
The proposed measures have provoked concerns from privacy activists who say they would threaten free speech and enable mass surveillance. –BuzzFeed
— Megha Mandavia (@MeghaMandaviaET) December 25, 2018
Under the new rules, any platform with over 5 million users in India would be required to appoint a “person of contact” to provide “24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers,” while also maintaining records of “unlawful activity” for a period of six months – or indefinitely if ordered by a court. Each user would also be sent monthly notifications notifying them that the platform can and may “remove non-compliant information immediately and kick the user off.”
A MeitY official discussed modifying India’s IT law to work in the new rules with representatives from at least seven tech companies including Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter in a confidential meeting last week, reported the Indian Express.
If the proposals were to go ahead, it “would be a tremendous expansion in the power of the government over ordinary citizens, eerily reminiscent of China’s blocking and breaking of user encryption to surveil its citizens,” the Internet Freedom Foundation,
The Kisan Mukti March in India is a powerful example of Huey P. Newton’s idea of revolutionary suicide. On November 29-30, tens of thousands of farmers and rural people from across India marched on New Delhi flying communist flags and chanting revolutionary slogans. It was this year’s fourth major demonstration of farmers in the Indian capital that have protested against the unbearable poverty in the country’s rural areas.
Crushing debt and deteriorating economic and social conditions in recent decades have driven many Indian farmers to take their own lives. Almost 300,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1995.[i] Speaking to Newslick, an elderly man from Nalanda who participated in the march said that “I have seen way too many people succumb to pressure and commit suicide, but now is the time to take on the government and make our voices heard.”[ii]
Huey Newton defined reactionary suicide as “the reaction of a man who takes his own life in response to social conditions that overwhelm him and condemn him to helplessness.”[iii] Revolutionary suicide, on the other hand, accepts the likelihood of death, but struggles wholeheartedly against capitalism and imperialism:
“It is better to oppose the forces that would drive me to self-murder than to endure them. Although I risk the likelihood of death, there is at least the possibility, if not the probability, of changing intolerable conditions. But before we die, how shall we live? I say with hope and dignity; and if premature death is the result, that death has a meaning reactionary suicide can never have. It is the price of self-respect.”[iv]
Often hailed by liberal propagandists as “the world’s largest democracy”, the Indian state is really the world’s largest dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Two-thirds of its people live on less than $2 a day[v] while its top 1% holds 73 of its wealth.[vi] The caste system, which was intensified by British colonialism to keep the Indian people divided, retains a strong hold on society.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Indian state has increasingly abandoned social democratic policies and moved towards further integration into the U.S.-led imperialist system. Two and a half decades of neoliberal economic policies has led to an extremely dire situation for rural Indians,
Genetically modified (GM) cotton in India is a failure. India should reject GM mustard. And like the Green Revolution, GM agriculture poses risks and is unsustainable. Regulatory bodies are dogged by incompetency and conflicts of interest. GM crops should therefore be banned.
You may have heard much of this before. But what is different this time is that the claims come from distinguished scientist P.C. Kesaven and his colleague M.S. Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and geneticist and widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution in India.
Consider what campaigner and farmer Bhaskar Save wrote in his now famous open letter in 2006:
“You, M.S. Swaminathan, are considered the ‘father’ of India’s so-called ‘Green Revolution’ that flung open the floodgates of toxic ‘agro’ chemicals, ravaging the lands and lives of many millions of Indian farmers over the past 50 years. More than any other individual in our long history, it is you I hold responsible for the tragic condition of our soils and our debt-burdened farmers, driven to suicide in increasing numbers every year.”
Image on the right: Bhaskar Save from thankindia.wordpress.com
Back in 2009, Swaminathan was saying that no scientific evidence had emerged to justify concerns about GM crops, often regarded as stage two of the Green Revolution. In light of mounting evidence, however, he now condemns GM crops as unsustainable and says they should be banned in India.
In a new peer-reviewed paper in the journal Current Science, Kesaven and Swaminathan state that Bt insecticidal cotton has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. These findings agree with those of others, many of whom the authors cite, including Dr K.R. Kranthi, former Director of the Central Institute for Cotton Research in Nagpur and Professor Andrew Paul Gutierrez and his colleagues.
The two authors conclude that both Bt crops and herbicide-tolerant crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place. Attention is also drawn to evidence that indicates Bt toxins are toxic to all organisms.
Kesaven and Swaminathan note that glyphosate-based herbicides,
Nuclear power production will grow by about 46 percent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) which highlighted that more than 90 percent of the net increase will come from China and India.
The two developing nations are now among the top consumers of energy in the world, as they pursue their national nuclear energy programs.
The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018 showed that global nuclear electricity output grew one percent last year, as the world’s nuclear fleet generated 2,503 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity.
Asia saw 8 to 9 percent growth in nuclear capacity last year, according to Agneta Rising, the director general of the World Nuclear Association.
She told CNBC: “The largest growth in nuclear energy is in the Asia region, especially in China and India.” Nuclear power is “absolutely compatible” and “necessary” for a low carbon future, Rising added.
The nuclear industry’s research found that China added three new reactors to its fleet in 2017, bringing its total number of operating reactors to 41 — behind only the United States and France. The country has also reached its highest nuclear production, with the total output up by a whopping 18 percent, or 35 TWh.
Beijing aims to increase nuclear capacities to a total of 58 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 compared with its current nuclear capacity of 34.5 GW.
Another top energy consumer, India, has the seventh-largest nuclear production fleet in the world, comprising of 22 nuclear reactors. India’s total net electrical capacity of 6,255 MW lags behind China’s 42,800 MW, but that could change soon as its largely indigenous nuclear program starts to open up.
A joint project with French electricity company Electricite de France (EDF) to build six European Pressurized Reactors is expected to result in the “largest nuclear plant in the world.” The plant will have a total capacity of 9.6 GW, according to Marianne Laigneau, group senior executive vice president at EDF.
Globally, nuclear energy capacity is forecast to increase as many countries continue to ramp up efforts to decarbonize.
With over 800 million people, rural India is arguably the most interesting and complex place on the planet. And yet it is also one of the most neglected in terms of both investment and media coverage. Veteran journalist and founder of the People’s Archive of Rural India P. Sainath argues that the majority of Indians do not count to the nation’s media, which renders up to 75 percent of the population ‘extinct’.
According to the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi, the five-year average of agriculture reporting in an Indian national daily newspaper equals 0.61 percent of news coverage, while village-level stories account for 0.17 percent. For much of the media, whether print or TV, celebrity, IT, movements on the stock exchange and the daily concerns of elite and urban middle class dwellers are what count.
Unlike the corporate media, the digital journalism platform the People’s Archive of Rural India has not only documented the complexity and beauty of rural India but also its hardships and the all too often heartbreaking personal stories that describe the impacts of government policies which have devastated lives, livelihoods and communities.
Rural India is plagued by farmer suicides, child malnourishment, growing unemployment, increased informalisation, indebtedness and an overall collapse of agriculture. Those involved in farming and related activities are being driven to migrate to cities to become cycle rickshaw drivers, domestic servants, daily wage labourers and suchlike.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic liberalisation. According to this report, the number of cultivators in India declined from 166 million to 146 million between 2004 and 2011. Some 6,700 left farming each day. Between 2015 and 2022 the number of cultivators is likely to decrease to around 127 million.
The core problems affecting agriculture centre upon the running down of the sector for decades, the impact of deregulated markets and profiteering corporations (Monsanto and its Bt cotton seeds being just one case in point), increasing debt and lack of proper credit facilities, the withdrawal of government support,
”The Fascist State organizes the nation, but it leaves the individual adequate elbow room. It has curtailed useless or harmful liberties while preserving those which are essential. In such matters the individual cannot be the judge, but the State only. The Fascist”
– Benito Mussolini 
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With a population of over 1.2 billion people, the Republic of India is considered the world’s most populous democracy. Yet, civil liberties and the power of the masses to direct their affairs in their own interest are being undermined if developments in recent years are any indication.
Beyond the increasing incidence of lynchings and mob violence targeting minorities, and the severe crack-downs on dissent, there is significant doubts being raised about the sanctity of the rule of law. A story surfacing in the fall of 2017 has cast suspicion on the ability of the courts to rule independently of political influence.
On December 1, 2014, a judge with the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation was reported to have died of natural causes. Judge Brijgopal Loya had been presiding over one of the nation’s most high profile cases, that of a murder implicating the president of the governing BJP party.
Two investigative reports published in November of 2017, brought to the fore doubts expressed by Loya’s family about the account of his death. These doubts were corroborated by documents accessed by the author highlighting irregularities in the overall depiction of events around Loya’s death. The family also detailed attempts at bribery and intimidation of the judge in the weeks leading up to his untimely death at the age of 48.
To date, the response of officialdom has been to try to discredit the report and downplay the revelations therein.
India is a significant power. One of the world’s largest economies and a member of the powerful BRICS alliance of nations with strategic links with both the U.S. and Russia. What does a significant deterioration of the India’s democratic rights mean within a larger geopolitical context.
These are the questions we will be exploring in a special recently broadcast live to air edition of the Global Research News Hour.
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Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand is an important figure in the field of environmental engineers in India. Formerly known as Professor G.D. Agarwal, he has been a faculty member in the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Member-Secretary Central Pollution Control Board.
At the age of 79, the engineer took diksha and became a sanayasi. He has played an important role in stalling 3 hydroelectric projects to ensure uninterrupted flow of Bhagirathi, which becomes Ganga after meeting Alaknanda, for the initial 175 kms.
The swamy now, 86, has undertaken another unto death at Haridwar since 22 June, 2018, demanding a law for conservation of river Ganga.
Close to Rs. 500 crores was spent as part of the previous Ganga Action Plan and now Rs. 7,000 cr. out of Rs. 20,000 cr., proposed budget for Namami Gange project under the current government, has been spent but most of industrial waste and sewage continues to flow untreated in Ganga similar to other rivers like Sabarmati in the country because, firstly, the installed capacity of Sewage Treatment Plants and Common Effluent Treatment Plants is woefully short of the total waste generated and, secondly, whatever capacity has been built remains non-functional for various reasons, including corruption.
The scientist turned swamy is unhappy with the state of affairs at the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). He is sure that the Clean Ganga-2020 mission will also fail as the previous mission Ganga Action Plan launched in 1986. In both these projects crores of rupees have been invested.
It is shocking that this government which projects itself as champion of Hindutva and changed the name of Water Resources Ministry to include Ganga Rejuvenation in its name is completely silent on Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand’s fast and the media is colluding in this conspicuous conspiracy.
Several activists, intellectuals, film makers, theater artists, former colleagues and students of the swamy and academicians have all demanded the government to take corrective steps to save the rivers and other water bodies and enter into dialogue with the Swamy thereby stopping his fast and saving his life. Some of the prominent names are that of Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Mallika Sarabhai, Ram Puniyani,
Over a decade ago, a disturbing trend among farmers in India captured headlines, as suicides among Indian farmers began to spiral out of control. Many of those farmers were indebted to giant agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, which – after gaining access to India’s seed sector in 1998 – enticed poor farmers to buy new “bioengineered” seeds every planting season along with the associated agro-chemicals required to grow them, promising bigger yields that would offset the costs.
When such benefits failed to materialize, many farmers – confronted with an ever-growing debt snowball – were faced with losing their land, leading many to take their lives by drinking the very same agro-chemicals that had helped trap them in debt. Though it has faded from the headlines, the crisis has continued unabated, with over 12,000 farmers in India still committing suicide every year.
While the crisis in India may seem a distant problem to many Americans, new reports have indicated that the U.S. is developing a farmer-suicide epidemic of its own.
A new report in CBS News notes that farmers in America now die at a rate higher than that of any other occupation and five times higher than that of the general population, even as the national suicide rate as a whole has jumped over the last few decades. As CBS notes, the increase in suicides mirrors a similar phenomenon in the 1980s, when U.S. farmers faced economic hardship related to debt, and suicides spiked.
Jennifer Fahy, communications director with Farm Aid, told CBS at the time that
“the farm crisis was so bad, there was a terrible outbreak of suicide and depression.”
Fahy now warns that the current situation is “actually worse.”
The newly reported increase in U.S. farmer suicides — much like the crisis for India’s farmers – is related to debt, specifically to global seed and agribusiness corporations that continue to raise prices as farmers’ incomes fall. Farm income has been dropping steadily since 2013, with the average this year set to be 35 percent less than it was five years ago. Meanwhile, farmers have seen a 300 percent price increase in recent years on products like seeds,
India is facing its worst-ever water crisis, with some 600 million people facing acute water shortage, a government think-tank says.
The Niti Aayog report, which draws on data from 24 of India’s 29 states, says the crisis is “only going to get worse” in the years ahead.
Around 200,000 Indians die every year because they have no access to clean water, according to the report. And as The BBC reports, many end up relying on private water suppliers or tankers paid for the by the government. Winding queues of people waiting to collect water from tankers or public taps is a common sight in Indian slums.
Indian cities and towns regularly run out water in the summer because they lack the infrastructure to deliver piped water to every home.
600 million people face high-to-extreme water stress.
75% of households do not have drinking water on premise. 84% rural households do not have piped water access.
70% of our water is contaminated; India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
India faces more than one problem – all compounding the nation’s crisis:
Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating severe problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers (~53% of agriculture in India is rainfed17).
When water is available, it is likely to be contaminated (up to 70% of our water supply), resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths each year.
Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.
And that means massive problems lie ahead…
40% of the Indian population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 with 21 cities running out of groundwater by 2020 – affecting 100 million people which will cut 6% from GDP by 2050.
What remains alarming is that the states that are ranked the lowest – such as Uttar Pradesh and Haryana in the north or Bihar and Jharkhand in the east –
It’s not just about oil – there’s a complex interconnection of geopolitics and geoeconomics between the two countries…
Pay very close attention to what India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier this week in New Delhi:
“Our foreign policy is not made under pressure from other countries … We recognize UN sanctions and not country-specific sanctions. We didn’t follow US sanctions on previous occasions either.”
After fellow BRICS members China and Russia, India left no margin for doubt. And there’s more; India will continue to buy oil from Iran – its third top supplier – and is willing to pay in rupees via state bank UCO, which is not exposed to the US. India bought 114% more oil from Iran during the financial year up to March 2018 than in the previous term.
India-US trade amounts to $115 billion a year. In comparison, India-Iran trade is only $13 billion a year. India may grow an impressive 7% in 2018 and has reached a GDP of $2.6 trillion, according to the IMF, ahead of France, Italy, Brazil and Russia. To keep growing, India badly needs energy.
So for New Delhi, buying Iranian energy is a matter of national security. Couple it with the obsession in bypassing Pakistan, and it’s clear this is all about a complex interconnection of geopolitics and geoeconomics.
The comprehensive India and Iran partnership revolves around energy, trade and investment connectivity corridors, banking, insurance, shipping and – crucially – the imminent possibility of doing everything using the rupee and the rial, bypassing the US dollar.
India-Iran already trade in euros – so that is step one in bypassing the long arm of the US Department of the Treasury. Both nations are still using SWIFT. Assuming the EU does not give in to the unilateral US violation of the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, India’s oil imports won’t be sanctioned.
If that’s the case, step two will be turbo-charging the already booming trade in rupees and rials to the energy front – facilitated by the fact Tehran has invested in upgrading and perfecting insurance for its fleet of tankers.