Showing posts from August, 2016

Singur Land Deal ‘Illegal’, says Supreme Court in Blow to Tata, Former Left Government // Singur verdict: 'Historic blunder' inflicts fatal wounds on a moribund Left Front

  In a major setback to Tata Motors, the Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the acquisition of nearly 1,000 acres of land in Singur made by the then CPM-led government in 2006. The land was acquired a decade ago by the state government for the Tata Group to build its Nano car manufacturing factory. However, a little over a year later, after numerous protests by farmers and locals, the project was shifted to Gujarat, leaving the company and state government locked in a tussle over who should possess the land. The Supreme Court, however, has put an end to the 10-year-ordeal. On Wednesday, it declared that the initial land acquisition was “illegal and void” and failed to meet “requirements under the Land Acquisition Act 1894”. In doing so, the Supreme Court has not only set aside a previous judgement of the Calcutta high court, which upheld the land acquisition, but has also pointed out that the West Bengal government in 2006 “committed fraud of power in land allotment” by acqu

Nasa: Earth is warming at a pace 'unprecedented in 1,000 years'

The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist. This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature  peaking at 1.38C  above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark  Paris climate accord . July  was the warmest month  since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat. But  Nasa  said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, suggest that the warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium... Read more:

Book review: Govind Pansare Had Some Lessons For the Left, If They Would Only Pay Attention

Govind Pansare :  Words Matter: Writings against Silence Reviewed by Monobina Gupta Govind Pansare was not among the nationally well known faces of the Communist Party of India (CPI), even though it was his political home for over six decades. Tragically, it was Pansare’s assassination in February 2015 that catapulted the CPI leader to the centre of national discourse. Prior to his murder, not many beyond Maharashtra, where he was based all his life, knew about the richness of his innovative work, his scholarship, and his organic links with the people he spent most of his time with. Reading Pansare’s writings in the recently published book  Words Matter: Writings against Silence , I wondered why his work did not get the attention it deserves during his life time, even within his own party. These diverse writings – he authored 21 books – clearly distinguish Pansare from run-of-the-mill communist leaders, many of whom despite their ordinariness, have become well known faces re

Ganesh Devy - Marching in Memory of M.M. Kalburgi

The brutal murder of the Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi in August last year had resulted in a sharp reaction from Indian intellectuals, literary scholars and artists. Earlier, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune and Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Reacting to these attacks on intellectuals, several artists and writers had returned their awards to the awarding bodies as a way of protest. Though in none of the three cases have the respective state governments been able to get to the bottom of these attacks, there has been some progress in the Dabholkar murder case. Despite appeals from individuals and concerned bodies from all parts of the country and even outside, the investigation in Kalburgi’s murder has made negligible progress. In order to protest the government’s indifferent attitude to such an important case and to remember Kalburgi, a silent walk is being staged in Dharwad on August 30, the day that marks a year since the tragic killing. Over 90 o

More than half of south Asia's groundwater too contaminated to use – study

Sixty per cent of the groundwater in a river basin supporting more than 750 million people in Pakistan, India, Nepal and  Bangladesh  is not drinkable or usable for irrigation, researchers have said. The biggest threat to groundwater in the Indo-Gangetic Basin, named after the Indus and Ganges rivers, is not depletion but contamination, they reported in the journal  Nature Geoscience . “The two main concerns are salinity and arsenic,” the authors of the study wrote. Up to a depth of 200m (650ft), some 23% of the groundwater stored in the basin is too salty, and about 37% “is affected by arsenic at toxic concentrations”, they said. The Indo-Gangetic basin accounts for about a quarter of the global extraction of groundwater – freshwater which is stored underground in crevices and spaces in soil or rock, fed by rivers and rainfall. Fifteen to twenty million wells extract water  from the basin every year amid growing concerns about depletion. The new study – based on local rec

Nicholas Dawes - Home is Away - India in 3 years and 3 centuries

Around me in the newsroom, in the 9pm television brawl, and on social media, I can hear hurt, insistent, voices reaching back to the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, or the accession of 1947, and out across the border to Pakistan and the breeding grounds of extremist terror, searching for a narrative to redeem the violence of the state. Answering them is Kashmiri rage shaded with despair, and the small, vigorous, chorus of Indian opinion counseling a political solution...  The same conversations play out wherever the crisis at the geographical margins of the country, or among its marginalised, confronts the democratic centre with contradictions that cannot be sustained: over caste, over sexuality, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or a broken penal code...  I won’t be plucking any swimmers from these currents, but it is in their tug toward justice, and in the terror of the breach, that India feels the most like home. Nicholas Dawes - Home is Away - India in 3 years and

The Climate Institute - Coffee quality and cost to be impacted by climate change, but there are things we can do

Climate change is already putting production and cost pressures on the supply of coffee in significant parts of the world’s ‘bean belt’ of coffee producing countries. Increasing temperatures and extreme weather events will cut the area suitable for production by up to 50 per cent, erode coffee quality and increase coffee prices for consumers, according to The Climate Institute’s  A Brewing Storm: The climate change risks to coffee report , released today. “Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day, with nearly half of Australians drinking coffee regularly,” said CEO of The Climate Institute, John Connor. “Yet coffee is just one of a multitude of things increasingly subject to negative climate impacts, and its negative flow-on effects.” “Our  A Brewing Storm  report, commissioned by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand, researched available information on climate risks to coffee, and should give a jolt to Australian coffee consumers and provide mor

The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age

Experts say humanity’s impact on Earth now so profound that the Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear bomb tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared, according to an official expert group who presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday. The new epoch should begin about 1950, the experts said, and was likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests, although an array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken were now under consideration. The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20t

"My God, Duterte, stop doing this" - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs - By Euan McKirdy,

Manila, the Philippines (CNN)  Lifeless bodies lying on the streets of the Philippines are a visceral sign of new President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. So far more than 1,900 people have died. Of those more than 700 have been killed in police operations since Duterte took office in late June, according to police statistics. Many of the unsolved deaths are attributed to vigilantes. Duterte's tough talk on the country's drug and crime problems won him the election and, 60 days on from his inauguration, he remains extremely popular. "Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars -- or below the ground, if they so wish," he said in his July 25 State of the Nation speech A Senate inquiry  is underway into the police and the extrajudicial killings. Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told the committee there was no shoot to kill order, but pe

Constanze Letsch - Turkey's crackdown on its media goes into overdrive. 'The coup was prevented, but the junta came to power.'

Turkey has intensified its crackdown on the media  since last month’s attempted coup , with rights groups decrying a wave of decrees that have turned the country into the world leader in locking up journalists. During Turkey’s current three-month state of emergency the government has the authority to rule by decree and has ordered the closure of 102 media outlets, including 45 newspapers, 16 TV channels, three news agencies, 23 radio stations, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses. Arrest warrants have been issued for more than 100 journalists, and, according to the independent journalism platform P24, 48 have been arrested since the investigation into the alleged coup plotters began. A total of 2,308 media workers and journalists, some employed by outlets with alleged ties to  exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen , whom the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the coup attempt, have lost their jobs. Hundreds of government-issued press accreditations have been cancelled, and an

Review essay: Wider Worlds - Manjushree Thapa’s illuminating view of a changing Nepal

All of Us in Our Own Lives   by Manjushree Thapa Reviewed by ROSS ADKIN IT WAS NOT UNTIL  the second decade of the twentieth century that Tri Chandra College, in Kathmandu, became the first institution in Nepal to offer degrees in English. This was arranged through an affiliation with the University of Patna, but Nepal’s rulers—the Ranas, hereditary prime ministers who exercised power in the name of an ostensibly sovereign Hindu monarch—made sure that students took their exams in Kathmandu, and did not allow them to travel to Patna. The arrangement was in keeping with a long-standing policy of restrictions on higher education, partly aimed to insulate young Nepalis from the nationalist and political ferment then sweeping Indian campuses. The Ranas were overthrown in 1951, inaugurating a brief experiment with democracy that ended with Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah, the king of Nepal, imposing royal rule in 1960. Mahendra took on a nation-building project to unite his diverse

The Supreme Court, Gandhi and the RSS

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive Sir Walter Scott The Supreme Court recently  took up a PIL  challenging a statement made by Rahul Gandhi alleging that the RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi. (Rahul Gandhi was then reported to have amended his statement, and the RSS demanded an apology.  A comment sent to me by a friend indicates that Rahul Gandhi did not amend his statement although the media tried to present it as such. It appears that he had said "RSS people" killed Gandhi and he stuck to that statement throughout. It seems the SC assumed that he had held the RSS collectively responsible. They asked him to apologise. When the Court record showed the original statement to be different, the SC backtracked. By then the media had taken off with its sensationalism). Stand by remarks against RSS, ready to face trial: Rahul Gandhi to SC RSS Has Shot Itself In The Foot By Taking Rahul Gandhi To Court: Ashis Nandy With due respect, I think the

Rahul Pandita: Kandhamal is still a ticking time bomb

Kandhamal is still a ticking time bomb On the night of 7 June this year, suspected Christian fanatics broke into a small Hindu temple in Daringbadi in Odisha’s Kandhamal district. The 'Ma Bana Durga' temple, which the locals say was at least 50 years old, was just a shrine under a tree till two months earlier when a proper brick-and-mortar structure was created around it.  On 22 June, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised a public meeting at the site of the broken shrine. A priest performed the  puja , as people from the neighbouring villages began to pour into the site. They examined the damage, particularly standing for long in front of a portrait of the Goddess Durga, painted on the wall of the temple, now broken into pieces. “There is no doubt that the Christian missionaries did this,” said Minaketan Sahu, who had come to the site from a neighbouring area. “They are the ones who killed Swami ji , and now they have done this,” he pointed at the rubble. This wa