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Thursday, 26 October

17:55

Private Military Companies: How Do You Close Pandoras Box? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Over the last two decades we have witnessed an abrupt increase in the number of private military companies (PMC) operating across the globe. Its curious that some of those companies have budgets that far surpass defends budgets of certain independent states. Such conflict zones as Afghanistan and Iraq have for a long time been a sort of a playing field for a handful of Western PMCs. According to those officials who hire private companies to wage wars in their name, contractors perform a handful of tasks on the ground more efficiently and, which is even more important, way cheaper than regular army units and government agencies.

However, both the alleged military prowess and cost efficiency of those PMCs is questionable, but the main advantage of those remains undisputed, since no statesman bears responsibility for their actions. Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have raised a serious concern over the legal status of such companies. But neither a string of flagrant human rights violations committed by those nor the facts of unjustified and inadequate use of all sorts of weapons could put a stop to this bloody business. Once a private military company gets deployed on the ground theres no more need to answer uncomfortable questions about loses and collateral damage, since no state can ensure that it fully controls the activities of its private armies.

States such as the United States that has been actively promoting PMCs as its tool of choices have repeatedly argued that they are ready to protect their mercenaries from any sort of persecution in other countries. Take, for example, the well-known decision of the chairman of the Iraqi Coordination Council, Paul Bremer, who led the occupation government of Iraq from 2003 to 2004. According to his order no member of the coalition forces or representatives of private companies operating in Iraq could be prosecuted by the state of Iraq.

The wave of regime changes triggered by Washington and the ever growing number of cases when Washington would meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign states has led to PMCs being in high demand. The active lobbying has resulted in mercenaries being described as consultants that are helping satellite states to establish their statehood and ensure logistics security to make these private armies to look somewhat respectable. Instead of addressing the absence of any legal pretext for the use of small companies, Washington has chosen to transform PMCs into full-fl...

17:28

Wide Angle Special: I Am Emotionally Attached to Kashmir Govt Interlocutor for J&K "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Maya Mirchandani interviews Dineshwar Sharma, recently appointed government interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir.

The post Wide Angle Special: I Am Emotionally Attached to Kashmir Govt Interlocutor for J&K appeared first on The Wire.

16:48

Defamation Should Be Treated as Civil Offence: Editors Guild "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The organisations plea comes at a time when The Wire is facing both civil and criminal defamation suits by BJP president Amit Shahs son, Jay Shah.

Representative image. Credit: Ahdieh Ashrafi/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

New Delhi: A day after a court in Ahmedabad admitted a criminal defamation case filed by BJP president Amit Shahs son against The Wire, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) criticised the increasing use of criminal defamation lawsuits to threaten journalists and appealed to the Supreme Court to review its decision which upheld the criminality of defamation in a recent judgment.

The organisations plea, in the form of a statement on Thursday, comes at a time when shahs son, Jay Shah, has also filed a Rs 100 crore civil defamation case against The Wire  for reporting a story about his business affairs.

The EGI expresses deep disquiet over the continued misuse of the law that treats defamation as a criminal offence. The Guild is concerned that this provision in the Indian Penal Code is being employed by many litigants to intimidat...

16:08

Subhash Chandra Joins List of MPs on Parliamentary Panels Handling Issues Linked to Their Businesses "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The standing committee on information technology, which the Essel Group chairman joined in September, closely deals with issues that concern the media and broadcasting sector.

A view of the Indian parliament building is seen in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters

A view of the Indian parliament building is seen in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP and Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra recently joined a long list of businessmen-turned-politicians who have made it to parliamentary standing committees that may deal with matters relating to their business interests.

In September 2017, when a number of committees were reconstituted, as they are every year, Subhash Chandra became a member of the standing committee on information technology (IT) a committee that has in the past looked into and dealt with issues relating to the media and broadcasting sector...

15:45

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 142: Anti-Black Money Day and Maharashtra Loan Waiver "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses why marking November 8 as anti-black money day is wrong and how the Maharashtra loan waiver has hit a roadblock as lakhs of farmers have the same Aadhaar and bank account numbers.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 142: Anti-Black Money Day and Maharashtra Loan Waiver appeared first on The Wire.

15:30

Police Diluted Charges Against Accused in Pehlu Khans Murder Case: Fact-Finding Report "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The independent probe, which has been endorsed by various human rights organisations, alleges that the Rajasthan police sought to diminish the enormity of the crime from the outset.

Pehlu Khan's mother (R). Credit: Murali Krishnan

Pehlu Khans grieving mother (R). Credit: Murali Krishnan

New Delhi: An independent fact-finding report, released on Friday at the Press Club of India, points at glaring gaps in the investigation carried out by the Rajasthan police in the Pehlu Khan lynching case.

Khan was killed by a group of so-called gau rakshaks in Alwar in April this year when he was returning home after purchasing cattle. The murder drew widespread condemnation, with opposition parties and civil society organisations expressing concern over increasing mob violence against minorities in the name of cow protection.

The report  which doesnt name any of the individuals who conducted the fact-finding mission but has been endorsed by a number of global and domestic human rights organisations  critiques the Rajasthan police on many counts.

First, although the attack on Khan happened between 7 PM and 10 PM on April 1, the police deliberat...

15:30

In Arid Trans-Himalayas, a Rise in Pest Attacks Indicates Changing Climate Conditions "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pests like aphids and scale insects, which until now have remained unseen in the region, have wrecked havoc on crops and lead to huge economic losses.

Sometime in early August, a team at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute in Leh was studying leaves of poplars, a fast-growing tree that is abundant in Ladakh and along with timber provides a spectacular cover of green in the arid trans-Himalayan region. Only this year, the leaves were wilted and left brown in patches after an insect used them as a host to breed. The scientists at the institute were trying to identify the insect.

In the nearby Kargil region, another fast-growing tree, willow, has been suffering from the menace of giant willow aphid, a sap-sucking pest that colonises the host tree and grows exponentially in a couple of weeks. Ngawang Dorjay, a researcher who studied entomology at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) is concerned about their growing numbers. Its only since last four-five years that aphids have become a major nuisance, he said. He has observed growing aphid attacks on other plants like green, leafy vegetables and on apricots, a prime cash crop in the region.

Aphids have been a common pest species in the region. However, last year it attacked apricot trees with such unseen aggression that it led to an economic loss of Rs 545 lakh in the Khalsi and Turtuk belt, according to the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR).

...

15:03

ISRO Collaborating With Research Institute to Develop Secure Quantum Communications in Space "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Quantum communication exploits a bizarre phenomenon of quantum mechanics called

Quantum communication exploits a bizarre phenomenon of quantum mechanics called quantum entanglement. Credit: PTI

After some delay, India is joining a handful of nations that have already embarked on a new kind of space race to build satellite networks for secure quantum communications. Existing communications systems are not hack-proof.

Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bengaluru has joined hands with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop the quantum technologies that ISROs satellites would need to establish such a network.

Quantum communication exploits a bizarre phenomenon of quantum mechanics  called quantum entanglement  in which photons (which are particles of light) are linked together in such a way that they affect one another no matter how far apart they are. They appear to be connected to each other, as if by magic, and behave as a single physical object.

Because a third party cannot tamper with the photons without destroying their entanglement, theres no way to eavesdrop undetected.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed recently between RRI and ISRO Space Applications Centre (ISAC) also in Bengaluru, the latter will fund the Quantum Information and Computing (QuiC) laboratory at RRI for developing the quantum technology tools.

This is Indias first step towards quantum communi...

15:00

Behind Our Prejudice Against Street Vendors Lies a Flawed Idea of Public Space "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Street vending is the natural outcome of the urban process, almost never the result of urban planning or the absence of it.

Street sellers in Mumbai. Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Street sellers in Mumbai. Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

On October 11, a panel headed by the chief security officer of Western Railways submitted its inquiry report on the stampede at Mumbais Elphinstone Road station on September 29 to the general manager. The panel found that heavy rain was the cause of the accident. It claims that when passengers rushed to the covered staircase to avoid the rain, and ones carrying luggage lost their balance, it resulted in a stampede.

Therefore, says the report, there should be restriction on heavy luggage carried by passengers, and vendors should be restricted from carrying their goods during peak hours. The existing staircase should be widened, and one more must be added to facilitate passenger movement.

Thus, according to the Western Railways, the death of 23 people was part natural calamity and part a disaster of their own making.

Two days after the incident, the Western Railways...

15:00

Podcast: If You Eat Egg, Your Child Will Be Bald "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In this episode, we visit an anganwadi and speak to a paediatrician who has set up a lab to understand how diet, culture and food affect women and children.

Posters at the local anganwadi on their health and nutrition services. Credit: Author provided

Posters at the local anganwadi on their health and nutrition services. Credit: Author provided

 

In India, the high rate of stunting amongst children is alarming. With no easy policy solutions, a glut of expert views, and a collective anxiety about its high occurrence, we tried to wra...

14:37

Technology & The Marxism of Jack Ma "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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The world famous founder of Alibaba may be a billionaire CEO, but the words he is repeating around the world contain echoes of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong. It may be difficult for the untrained ear to identify it, but it should be no surprise that this rock star of Chinas centrally planned economy is on good terms with the deeply ideological ruling Party. For those with a deeper understanding, Marxist undertones can be found all throughout Mas technological optimism.

Historical Materialism 

Many people have opened the Communist Manifesto, expecting to find a blueprint for an ideal world scrawled out before them. However, very little was written by Karl Marx or his associates about the supposed nature of the future world. Instead, the focus of Marxs writings was on the philosophical concepts he coined, dialectical and historical materialism. In essence, Marxism is an understanding of world history as being driven forward by a struggle to advance living standards, and achieve a higher mode of production.

Speaking at Valdai Discussion Club in October, Jack Ma harshly criticized those who responded to the birth of the internet with fear. He said where other people worry, we figure out ways to solve the worry. He reminded those of us in the audience of the many fears that accompanied the invention of the automobile. He says If we have more imagination and creativity we will feel much better.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, Marxs perspective was the same. While criticizing capitalism, Marx hailed the birth of the industrial economy and the earthshaking social revolutions that destroyed feudalism. Marx saw the end of serfdom, and the birth of the industrial working class or the proletariat, preceded by huge breakthroughs in technology, as a tremendous leap forward.

Jack Ma did warn the audience about the potential danger associated with advances in technological progress. He went as far as to point out that the first and second world wars both followed technological leaps.

In doing so, Ma was pointing toward an understanding of Marxs concept of overproduction and the falling rate of profit. Indeed, both the first and second world wars were preceded by economic downturns and periods of depression, and both of these prolonge...

14:30

Seven Health Secretaries in Seven Years Where Is the Accountability? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The government should keep the secretary of the health department unchanged for three years for him/her to be able to show results. But that has not been happening.

A health worker (R) weighs a child under a government program in New Delhi, India

A health worker (R) weighs a child under a government programme in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters

The NDA government had promised good governance and policy stability. Yet we have a fourth secretary in the health department in the last three years  the seventh in the last seven years. Since both the outgoing and the incoming officers have sterling reputations, the reason for this mid-course change is unclear.

Why it matters

Health is a complex sector, and a highly contentious one, with several stakeholders working at cross purposes, requiring focused leadership, undistracted by the noise something similar to the journey of Odysseus when he was tied to the ships mast to keep himself from being distracted by the lovely music of the sirens and in the process wreck the ship on the rocks. But such focused leadership requires knowledge of the purpose of the journey, the direction to take, the end to reach. And such clarity comes with years of engagement, absorbing the nuances, developing an intuitive grasp of matters and most importantly, building a team and assessing the political environment within which to steer policy. It is for this reas...

14:30

For Indian Universities, Merit Must Come First in Faculty Appointments "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The JNU vice-chancellor reportedly favours outsiders over home-trained PhDs for faculty positions. But is that really because hes worried about candidates merit?

The School of Social Sciences at JNU. Credit: Manuel Menal/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The School of Social Sciences at JNU. Credit: Manuel Menal/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Pushkar is director, The International Centre Goa, Dona Paula (Goa). Views expressed here are personal.

In a previous co-authored article, I made the case against academic inbreeding in Indias universities, especially in premier institutions such as central universities, IITs, IIMs and others. I argued that academic inbreeding certainly under Indian conditions lends to discrimination against not only better-qualified outsiders who apply for faculty positions, but also against better-qualified inbreds. Therefore, if Indias premier universities aspire to become better institutions, they should typically not hire their own PhD graduates for their first job. In opposing academic inbreeding, I emphasised that merit takes a backseat in faculty appointments.

Since then, it has come to my attention that senior officials at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), one of Indias premier universities, have determined that JNU PhDs should not be favoured for faculty positions. The vice-ch...

14:20

NIA Files Chargesheet Against Zakir Naik Alleging Hate Speech "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Zakir Naik. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Zakir Naik. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today filed a chargesheet in a special court against controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for allegedly inciting youth to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting enmity between communities.

We filed a charge sheet against Naik, an NIA official said.

The 51-year-old televangelist, who is currently abroad, is being probed under terror and money-laundering charges by the NIA. He fled from India on July 1, 2016, after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches.

The NIA had on November 18, 2016, registered a case against Naik at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

His Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), has already been declared an unlawful association by the Union home ministry.

The controversial preacher has been accused of spreading hatred by his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering several crores of rupees over the years.

The Mumbai-based preacher came under the lens of security agencies after some terrorists allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July last year reportedly claimed they were inspired by his speeches.

The post...

13:00

Textile Trader and BJP Member Who Led Anti-GST Movement in Surat Quits Party "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Other textile traders have also said that they are thinking about whether to continue supporting the BJP after facing huge losses due to the GST.

A poster put up by anti-GST groups in Surat. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

A poster put up by anti-GST groups in Surat. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

Surat: The textile manufacturing and trading business in Surat had barely recovered from the blow of demonetisation when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented. Within a week, textile traders took to the streets to protest against the new tax regime. An unprecedented crowd comprising lakhs of textile traders came out to express outrage when the police initiated a  lathi charge against them in July this year. Later, posters like Kamal ka phool, hamari bhul (It was our mistake to vote for the lotus symbol) were seen at multiple spots in Surat.

Three organisations were formed around the issue. The GST Sangharsh Samiti, which started during the movement and under whose banner the protest took place, is led by Tarachand Kasat, who was then an executive member of the BJPs Surat cell. The other two organisations, formed before the agitation, are the Vepari Pragati Sangh led by Sanjay Jagnani, former president of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) and an active BJP member, and the South Gujarat Textile Traders Association formed by Sawarmal Budhiya, a veteran textile trader believed to be close t...

13:00

Japan: Shinzo Abe Scores Major Electoral Victory "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Since WWII, Japan has been known as a country oriented towards pacifism, which disavowed war as an instrument of national policy. This may change soon. On October 22, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scored a major victory in national elections.

12:47

Delhi HC Dismisses Subramanian Swamys Plea to Probe Sunanda Pushkar Death "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who brought the petition to revoke the telecom licences issued in 2008, speaks with the media after a verdict outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi February 2, 2012. Credit: Reuters

Subramanian Swamy. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Delhi high court today dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamys plea seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the death of Congress MP Shashi Tharoors wife Sunanda Pushkar, terming his PIL as a textbook example of a political interest litigation.

A bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta said the petition by Swamy cannot be entertained as a PIL.

The bench also said that from what was placed before the court, it was unable to be persuaded that the probe, being carried out by the SIT, is botched up or under the influence of any party.

The court was also of the view that Swamy concealed information, based on which he had made swe...

12:42

In Photos: Mexicos Indigenous Muslims in Maya Heartland "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Locals say the conversions to Islam in the Maya heartland began in the late 1980s, around the same time Mexicos Zapatista movement was gaining traction in Chiapas.

Anisa, 20, a Muslim from the Tzotzil Maya ethnic group, poses for a photograph dressed in a hijab made from a traditional Maya shawl, in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas state, Mexico, August 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido/Files

Anisa, 20, a Muslim from the Tzotzil Maya ethnic group, poses for a photograph dressed in a hijab made from a traditional Maya shawl, in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas state, Mexico, August 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido/Files

San Cristobal De Las Casas, Mexico: A trip to Mexicos indigenous Maya heartland showed me how a vibrant Muslim community had sprung up in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

In the southern state of Chiapas, home to...

12:30

NREGA Payment Delays Continue Despite Repeated Pleas to Centre "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The NREGA workers group has blamed the Central government, banks and post offices for the delays in payment of lakhs of workers.

MGNREGA

Labourers work on a dried lake to try and revive it under the NREGA at Ibrahimpatnam, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, June 17, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Krishnendu Halder/Files

With wage payments for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) being frozen in 19 states across the country, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has blamed the Central government, banks and post offices for the delays in payment of lakhs of workers, noting that such delays have made the payment on time figure used by the Ministry of Rural Development, meaningless and a mockery of the right to work of the citizens.

Using data since August this year, the Morcha said, since August 31, no wage payments had been made in Haryana, in Karnataka and West Bengal, the payments had not been made since the first week of September, and in Kerala and Jharkhand, over the last month.

Wage payments worth at least Rs 3,066 crores are pending due to lapses by the Central and state governments and insufficiency of funds allotted for the programme; a problem that recurs year after year and is unlikely to get resolved soon, the Morcha said, adding that these were wage payments for which the Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) had been approved by the first and second signatories, yet they were pending at the level of the Union government.

No compensation for delays

The Morcha has also said that no legal compe...

12:15

Can Austria's New Wunderkind Solve the Migrant Crisis? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Fears about a hard-right turn in Austria following its parliamentary election this past weekend need to be put in perspective. The populist, anti-immigration, Russia-friendly Freedom Party of Austria (FP)founded in the 1950s by ex-SS officerscame third, with fewer seats than in the 1999 election.

12:13

Farmers Notebook: Organic Farming, Cattle to Meet Manure Needs Can Aid Farmers in Distress "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

An NGO in Tamil Nadu is helping farmers adopt organic methods of farming to help reduce their expenses.

Baskaran. Credit: Special Arrangement

Baskaran owns an area of two acres of land. Credit: Special arrangement

Growing crops, even on fertile soil, is a daunting task. The yield is often not in line with expectations and even with the best inputs, a farmer cannot be certain she will get the yield she expects.

This is the scenario throughout the country, despite the several-so called communication hubs and the technology/knowledge sharing through social media, which the agriculture department claims is being carried out to help farmers get a good harvest.

If this is the case for fertile land tracts, ones with good irrigation facilities, what about those in which the soil salinity is high, like the land in coastal Tamil Nadu where the soil nature has turned highly saline due to the 2004 tsunami?

After the tsunami in 2004, several NGOs were involved in relief and rehabilitation works. But several of these were working on sanitation, creating new toilet facilities, providing food, reconstruction of homes for those displaced and so on. In the area of agriculture, however, practically nothing remarkable was being done since the entire nature of soil even in the most fertile areas was damaged due to seawater and slush deposits.

...

12:09

Nuclear disarmament is unthinkable until trust is restored between Russia and the US "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

When calculating how to balance the future nuclear capabilities of Russia vs. the three Western nuclear powers, the combined nuclear arsenal of the United Kingdom, the US, and France should be taken into account.

11:45

Sweden, Submarines, and Propaganda "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

One of NATOs concerns in its obsession with Russia is to persuade Sweden to not only increase its already substantial collaboration with the alliance, but to actually become a member although defence minister Peter Hultqvist is not in favour of such a commitment, in spite of having increased military spending and reintroduced conscription.

11:15

How Saddam Hussein Predicted America"s Failure in Iraq "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In the late summer of 2002, as American Gen. Tommy Frankss staff was in the midst of drafting its plan for the invasion of Iraq (what would become known as Operation Iraqi Freedom), Major General Raad al-Hamdani was summoned from his headquarters by Saddam Hussein. 

10:52

GJM Leader Barun Bhujel Dies in Police Custody; Party and Family Allege Negligence, Torture "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

There was a delay in treatment. In jail, he kept on complaining about his ill health but authorities did not pay heed, the GJM leaders father has said.

Barun Bhujel. Credit: Facebook

Barun Bhujel. Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leader from Kalimpong Barun Bhujel, who had been in the custody of the West Bengal police since June, died at a hospital in Kolkata in the early hours of October 25. The death triggered a day-long bandh in Kalimpong town.

Bhujel, GJM councilor of Kalimpong and considered to be close to the partys top leader Bimal Gurung, was arrested on charges of arson and rioting on June 16, during the 104-day strike in the three sub-divisions of Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland. He was since lodged in Siliguri jail and was taken to a local hospital recently following a deterioration in his health. With no sign of improvement, he was thereafter shifted to Kolkata.

Forty-year-old Bhujel, also an elected member of the Kalimpong municipality, is survived by his wife and two children.

Media reports quoting doctors at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata said Bhujel had chronic liver problem and pancreatitis. When he was brought here, his condition was very bad and was admitted straight to the ITU, Manimoy Bandpadhyay, medical superintendent of the hospital told local reporters.

However, both the GJM and Bhujels family alleged t...

10:45

Why GDP Is Fake "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Deceit regarding GDP is routine, just as such a fake misuse of GDP is routine. (Its really no misuse of the term, at all.) GDP is designed to be a misleading basis for ranking the economic performance of countries; its used for the purpose its intended for, because the purpose its intended for is to deceive the public in this very way to ignore debt and, so, thats the way its used.

10:40

Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan Impasse Remains Despite Talks "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Kazakhstan has signaled its determination to stick to its guns in its ongoing diplomatic row with Kyrgyzstan by purportedly refusing to sign off on a roadmap on settling a border dispute.

Kyrgyz Economy Minister Artyom Novikov revealed on November 25 that Kazakhstan is dragging its feet despite attempts to thrash out problems during a Eurasian Economic Union heads of government summit in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

The signing of the roadmap did not occur. Further work will have to be done with existing mechanisms within the EEU and in our bilateral consultations with Kazakhstan. After that, appropriate measures will be adopted, Novikov told reporters.

Novikov said that Kazakhstans decision to complicate procedures for crossing the border are in violation of rules established by the EEU a Moscow-led trade bloc that also includes Armenia and Belarus among its members.

But Kazakhstans Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev said at the EEU summit that the tightening of controls where a regular part of his governments attempt to clamp down on smuggling.

Sagintayev said that EEU had collectively lost $2.68 billion in sales tax revenues in the first eight months of this year alone because of the high level of smuggling from China into Kyrgyzstan.

Everything that is being done on the border is not in any way being directed at Kyrgyzstan. During our checks we are receiving confirmation of everything we are talking about, Sagintayev said.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov replied to this point by saying that the increase of border controls is creating difficulties for citizens of both countries.

read more

10:31

Sushma Swaraj Seeks Report From UP Government After Swiss Couple Attacked Near Agra "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Sushma Swaraj. Credit: Reuters

Sushma Swaraj. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: A Swiss couple was attacked by a group of men with sticks and stones in Uttar Pradeshs Fatehpur Sikri near Agra on the afternoon of October 22, leaving them injured and bruised.

Late on Wednesday (October 25) the state police arrested one suspect in connection with the brutal attack, Hindustan Times reported. The arrest came hours before the state chief minister Adityanath arrived in Agra for a visit to the Taj Mahal.

According to an NDTV report, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on the attack, which left the man with a fractured skull and hearing impairment and the woman with a broken arm.

According to the police, after a visit to the Taj, Quentin Jeremy Clerc and Marie Droz, both 24 years of age, were walking around a railway track in Fatehpur Sikri when a group of young men began harassing them and insisted on taking pictures with Droz. The group then followed them and passed comments....

10:30

Why Are Children Still Dying of Vaccine-Preventable Diphtheria? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Poor implementation of routine immunisation programmes has led to continued outbreaks of the disease.

While the initial immunisation is done, follow-up booster shots are often missed. Credit: Reuters

While the initial immunisation is done, follow-up booster shots are often missed. Credit: Reuters

Eight weeks ago, Payal*, a ten-year-old girl, came to the emergency room at Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) or Peoples Health Support Group in Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh with fever and neck pain. We diagnosed her with diphtheria and immediately provided her with the appropriate treatment, including antibiotics and anti-diphtheritic antiserum (ADS). However, despite our best efforts, her condition worsened due to heart and kidney failure, and she died.

Unfortunately, Payal was not the only child who suffered from diphtheria during a recent outbreak. In the last two months, 23 patients have been diagnosed with diphtheria in Bilaspur. Of these, we have treated nine patients at JSS, seven of whom were from a single village Ghonghadih and one each from the nearby villages of Beltookri and Ajaypur. Only 14 of the 23 children survived.

There have been reports on a diphtheria outbreak in 2017 from multiple states, including KarnatakaKerala,...

10:17

Interview 1311 James Corbett on Howe Street "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

[audio mp3="http://www.corbettreport.com/mp3/2017-10-26%20James%20Corbett.mp3"][/audio]James joins Jim Goddard of HoweStreet.com radio to discuss the recent Japanese election, the situation with North Korea, the Chinese Communist Party's recent National Congress, the Las Vegas shooting and the Clinton Foundation's ties to the Russia-Uranium scandal.

10:15

Nariman: Ruling Partys Support to Private Persons Defamation Suit Must Be Condemned "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Every speaker at a Press Club of India meeting unequivocally criticised the frequent use of defamation as a means of stifling and threatening the media.

Jay Amit Shah (left) and his father, BJP president Amit Shah. Credit: BJP

New Delhi: Any support extended by a political party in power to a private persons defamation suit against another private person (of any profession or calling) is condemnable and must be condemned, said eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman on Wednesday.

His observation, made in a written message to the Press Club of India, was read out at a meeting held a meeting to discuss the defamation cases filed against The Wire by BJP president Amit Shahs son for reporting on his business affairs.

Shahs son, Jay Shah, has filed a criminal defamation case and a civil defamation case seeking Rs 100 crore in damages. He has already secured an ex-parte ad interim injunction against The Wire from a civil court in Ahmedabad which its editors say they intend to challenge.

The PCI meeting was called to discuss Issues arising out of support extended by the ruling party and government to a private persons defamation suit against journalists. Chaired by veteran journalist Anand Sahay, the gathering was addressed by PCI president Gautam Lahiri, lawyers Prashant Bhushan and Karuna Nandy and the former editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.

In his opening remarks, Lahiri said anyone was free to file a defamation suit but the Press Club of India was shocked to see the government machinery rallying to defend a private citi...

10:06

Italian Government Wins Initial Confidence Votes on New Electoral Law "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

5-Star Movement senator Andrea Cioffi reacts during a confidence vote at the Senate in Rome, Italy October 25, 2017. Credit: Reuters

5-Star Movement senator Andrea Cioffi reacts during a confidence vote at the Senate in Rome, Italy October 25, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Rome: The Italian government won an initial pair of confidence votes in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday on a new electoral law that looks unlikely to produce a clear-cut result at national elections due by next May.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has called five confidence motions in the upper house Senate on the reform and hopes to get the package approved by Thursday, despite furious opposition from the anti-system 5-Star Movement and small leftist groups.

The first two motions won by a comfortable majority of 44, even though many leftist allies had deserted coalition ranks. The bill has already passed through the lower house.

The proposed voting system favours parties that form pre-election coalitions and is backed by the largest parties within Italy...

10:04

Former US President, George Bush Sr., Apologises After Actress Accuses Him of Groping "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Five former US presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clintonspeak during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, US, October 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Richard Carson

Five former US presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Bill Clintonspeak during a concert at Texas A&M University benefiting hurricane relief efforts in College Station, Texas, US, October 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Richard Carson

Los Angeles: Former US President George HW...

10:00

From Janardhan Poojary to Crony Capitalism: Indias Bank Recap Must Be Accompanied by Further Reform "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

While there are several domestic and international examples of recapitlisation bonds having worked, none of them have prevented further NPAs from piling up.

Indian economy

Economic growth rates for the past four quarters are: 2.4% for 2016 Jan-March; 1.5% for July-Sept 1.5%; Oct-Dec: 1.6%; 2017 Jan-march 1.5%; April-June: 1.3%; and July-Sep 1.4%. That is enough for international rating agencies ready to mark India not so safe destination for foreign investment. Credit: Reuters

There you go again. That was former US president Ronald Reagans famous one-liner during the 1980 presidential election campaign trail.

If one reacted upon hearing the Narendra Modi governments new bank rescue plan, where Rs 1.36 lakh crore will be injected into the public sector banking system with Reagans favourite comeback, it shouldnt be a surprise. After all, we only need remind ourselves of the past half-hearted and hence ineffective efforts over the last three years to dig our way out of the public sector banks pile of bad loans.

Dominating the Indian banking scene since 1969 bank nationalisation intiative, public sector banks holding around 70% of the market are saddled with 80% of ba...

09:44

Thai Capital Draped in Yellow for Kings Funeral "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Royal Crematorium site is seen before the funeral procession for Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej near the Grand Palace in Bangkok , Thailand, October 26, 2017. Credit: Reuters

The Royal Crematorium site is seen before the funeral procession for Thailands late King Bhumibol Adulyadej near the Grand Palace in Bangkok , Thailand, October 26, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Bangkok: Amid beating drums, the whistle of an ancient flute and an artillery salute, Thailand began an elaborate ceremony steeped in ancient rites to mark the start on Thursday of a lavish cremation ceremony for revered late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Bangkok to watch the funeral procession, with buildings on the route draped in yellow marigolds on the eve of his cremation.

Mou...

09:42

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit Woman, Unborn Child Killed for Touching Bucket in Bulandshahr "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Earlier this year, in April and May, inter-caste violence rocked UPs communally sensitive Saharanpur district, with 26% Dalit and 10% Thakur population

Women members of Dalit Community carry a portrait of BR Ambedkar as they block the traffic during a protest in Ahmedabad on Wednesday against the assault on dalit members by cow protectors in Rajkot district, Gujarat. Credit: PTI

Women members of Dalit Community carry a portrait of B.R. Ambedkar as they block the traffic during a protest in Ahmedabad against the assault on dalit members by cow protectors in Rajkot district, Gujarat. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: On the morning of October 15, Savitri Devi, a Dalit woman collecting garbage from homes in Uttar Pradeshs Bulandshahr district, accidentally touched a bucket belonging to Anju, an

09:30

As US Presses Against Price Cap on Medical Devices, India Needs to Hold Health Above Trade "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The US medical device industrys allegation on the denial of equitable market access is a smokescreen to protect an inequitable market, at the cost of peoples lives.

The USTR has asked the government of India not to impose price controls on other medical devices. Credit: Reuters/Babu/Files

The USTR has asked the government of India not to impose price controls on other medical devices. Credit: Reuters/Babu/Files

As expected, the US medical device industry knocked the doors of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to pressurise the Indian government against the price ceiling on medical devices like cardiovascular stents and knee implants. On October 17, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) filed a petition to the USTR to suspend or withdraw, in whole or in part, Indias benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Under the GSP, Indian exports to the US enjoy less tariffs (import duty) compared to the tariffs imposed on other non-GSP exporters...

09:10

Tajikistan: Student Medic Pays $16,000 Admission Bribe "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The size of the alleged bribe needed to get an aspiring medical student into college in Tajikistan is, it turns out, enough to cover annual fees at some British universities.

Asia-Plus news website reported this week that the deputy rector of the Tajik State Medical University, Dilshod Solehov, is being investigated on suspicion he solicited an $16,000 payment in return for enrolling an Indian student who had failed his entrance exam.

Perhaps the only surprising aspect of this news is that somebody is actually facing prosecution. Medicine and education constitute a peak nexus of corruption in Tajikistan. The state anti-corruption agency itself burdened with bad apples have assessed the Health Ministry and the Education and Science Ministry as the two most graft-stricken government institutions.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that it is medical courses that attract the largest bribes entrance can cost anything up to $25,000 by some accounts. The authorities insist that the introduction of a single testing center through which all university applicants are channeled has cut down on corruption, but it remains standard practice for parents to accumulate cash war chests all the same, just in case.

In August 2014, anticorruption officials detained a Tajik citizen, Rano Radjabova, on suspicion of taking out an $85,000 loan with the intent to get her son through university. It was not later reported how this investigation concluded.

These kinds of sums are risible compared to what goes on in other government departments. 

read more

08:59

Desperate for News, Rohingya Refugees Tune in to WhatsApp Radio "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Rohingya refugee family stands outside their shelter at Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

A Rohingya refugee family stands outside their shelter at Kutupalong refugee camp near Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Coxs Bazar (Bangladesh): Sitting in his hillside grocery shop in a Bangladesh refugee camp, Rohingya Muslim Momtaz-ul-Hoque takes a break to listen to an audio recording on his mobile phone, while children and passers-by gather round to hear the latest news from Myanmar.

I listen because I get some information on my motherland, said Hoque, 30, as he plays a message on WhatsApp explaining the Myanmar governments proposals for repatriating refugees.

Hoque has been in Bangladesh...

08:58

Interview: This Little USB Holds 19,000 Indian Standards. Why Should it Not Be Made Public? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

An interview with Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org, on his legal quest to make the codes and regulations notified by the Bureau of Indian Standards available to the public for free without any payment.

Carl Malamud, an American technologist author and information activist, refers to himself as a public printer. His mission? To open source the operating system of society by placing digital and free versions of a countrys laws, codes and regulations on his website Public.Resource.Org.

It may seem strange, but this information which can be anything from Indias electricity standards or plumbing regulations to a states public gazette notifications is often available only behind a paywall or a poorly designed government website that inhibits rather than promotes access.

Want to access Indias national building code to check if your builder has adhered to the proper safety standards? It will cost you a cool Rs 13,700. What about the collective electrical and power equipment standards?  A single-user online subscription could cost Rs 49,600.

Malamud and other public domain advocates strongly believe that it is should not be possible for governments and government bodies to claim copyright on these standards, which in most cases are essentially laws that have a meaningful impact on the public at large.

His belief, naturally, has been tested legally. In the US, a number of standard development organisations and even the state of Georgia have sued Public.Resource.Org.

Malamuds work has brought him to India, up and in close confrontation with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), a statutory body. In 2013 and 2014, he bought most of the Indian standards documents from the BIS and made them available on his website for free. This sparked ...

08:23

CEC Cited Flood Relief to Delay Gujarat Poll Call, Not True Say Records, Officials on Ground "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

According to both government records and officials in charge of disaster management, much of the flood relief operations were complete before the Himachal Pradesh elections were announced on October 12.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro Ferry Service between Ghogha and Dahej, in Gujarat on October 22, 2017. Credit: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden voyage of Ro-Ro Ferry Service between Ghogha and Dahej, in Gujarat on October 22, 2017. Credit: PIB

New Delhi: Chief election commissioner A.K. Joti recently tried to justify his decision to delay the announcement of Gujarats election dates by saying that the application of the model code of conduct would have  hampered the states flood relief efforts. The explanation was rejected by the opposition because the model code of conduct which kicks in as soon as poll dates are announced and bars the government from announcing any fresh policies or development package does not come in the way of relief measures. Now it emerges that Jotis assertion is flatly contradicted by details of the state governme...

08:19

Fear of Iranian General Left Iraqi Kurdish Oil Fields Deserted "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

 An Iraqi flag is seen on a military vehicle at an oil field in Dibis area on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq October 17, 2017. Credit: Reuters

An Iraqi flag is seen on a military vehicle at an oil field in Dibis area on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq October 17, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Baghdad/London: When the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Shiite militia entered a key oil processing facility in Iraqs north to retake it from Kurdish Peshmerga forces last week, the installation was deserted and its alarm bells ringing.

Engineers and workers on the facility, which processes oil from two major fields in the Kirkuk area of predominantly Sunni Kurdistan, had fled, fearing the military advance.

No one wanted to risk their life and decided to evacuate as stories about the Shiite militia and Qassem Soleimani were spreading fast, said a senior Kurdish oil industry source, referring to the head of foreign operations for Irans elite Revolutionary Guards. The source declined...

08:18

Bodyguard Killed, MP and Two Others Wounded in Kiev Blast "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Investigators work at the site of a car explosion in central Kiev, Ukraine October 25, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

Investigators work at the site of a car explosion in central Kiev, Ukraine October 25, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

An explosion in Kiev on Wednesday killed a bodyguard and wounded three people including Ukrainian lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk, Ukrainian officials said, describing the incident as a deliberate attack.

Mosiychuk, a member of the opposition Radical Party, has been hospitalised but did not suffer life-threatening injuries, while his bodyguard was killed, according to party leader Oleh Lyashko.

Interior ministry adviser Zoryan Shkiryak said investigators were at the scene of the incident, where it appeared a motorcycle had been blown up near the entrance to a TV station.

Altogether four people were wounded in the explosion. Unfortunately, one could not be saved. He died on the way to the hospital from the wounds he received, he said.

Kiev police spokeswoman Oksana Blyshchyk said that at 7 pm GMT, authorities had received information about a car explosion in the Solomensky distr...

08:14

Eight Rights Activists Released on Bail in Terrorism Trial by Turkish Court "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Rights activists gather in front of the Justice Palace during the opening hearing of the trial of eleven human rights activists accused of terrorism charges, in Istanbul, Turkey, Credit: Reuters

Rights activists gather in front of the Justice Palace during the opening hearing of the trial of eleven human rights activists accused of terrorism charges, in Istanbul, Turkey, Credit: Reuters

Istanbul: A Turkish court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of eight human rights activists, including the director of the local branch of Amnesty International, pending a verdict in their trial on terrorism charges.

The case against the activis...

07:47

Corruption Case Against President Temer Rejected by Brazils Congress "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Brazil's President Michel Temer attends a ceremony to deliver the Order of Aeronautical Merit medals, in Brasilia, Brazil, October 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Brazils President Michel Temer attends a ceremony to deliver the Order of Aeronautical Merit medals, in Brasilia, Brazil, October 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Brasilia: Brazilian lawmakers rejected corruption charges against President Michel Temer on Wednesday evening, shelving a case that had threatened to oust a center-right leader who investors hope will bring Brazils budget deficit under control.

The corruption case, involving the payment of bribes by meatpacker JBS SA, had paralysed Temers reform agenda for six months and weakened his government.

The lower house of Brazils Congress, which has the authority to decide whether a president should stand trial by the Supreme Court, voted 251-23...

07:37

Saudi Arabia Might Recognize Israel Because Of NEOM "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Riyadh will probably recognize Israel in the coming future in order to guarantee that its city-state initiative succeeds and ultimately transitions the Kingdom away from its oil-exporting dependency.

07:36

Amid Tension, Aid Workers Blocked From Entering Muslim Camp in Myanmars Rakhine State "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Myanmar soldier stands near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 27, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A Myanmar soldier stands near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 27, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Yangon/Sittwe: Buddhists in Myanmar on Wednesday blocked aid workers from visiting a camp for displaced Muslims in the central part of Rakhine State, where the UN fears the spread of violence that has already displaced hundreds of thousands.

More than 600,000 of Myanmars largely stateless Rohingya minority have crossed to Bangladesh since August 25 attacks by Rohingya militants sparked a military crackdown beset by allegations of killings, rape and arson by security forces.

The UN has called the army operation ethnic cleansing. Myanmar has denied the majority of allegations and said it will accept the return of those who can prove they are residents.

A regional administrator and an activist told Reuters a group of about ten Myanmar nationals working for US-and Britain-based charity Relief International (RI) was forced to turn back when res...

07:30

Bank Recap: In the End, Indias Taxpayer Pays for Cronyism "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

While the government needed to kick-start growth and private investment, it is absolutely essential that promoters of defaulting corporate groups dont end up laughing all the way to the bank.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley: Is his bank recap plan a little too late? Credit: Reuters

Finance minister Arun Jaitley: Is his bank recap plan a little too late? Credit: Reuters

The Centres decision to recapitalise banks with government bonds worth Rs 1.35 lakh crore is nothing but the taxpayer bailing out Indias public sector banks whose capital base stands eroded because of mounting loan defaults by 50 large corporate groups.

Though the gov...

07:25

Defying Centres Directives Yet Again, Mamata Banerjee Says Wont Link Mobile Number With Aadhaar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The West Bengal chief minister also asked her party leaders to begin a black day campaign condemning demonetisation from November 8.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday (October 25) accused the BJP of unleashing an autocratic rule and destroying the federal structure of the country and opposed linking of Aadhaar with mobile phone number.

She alleged that the BJP was trying to finish off all other parties in the country and said that the Trinamool Congress would play a role in ousting it from power at the Centre.

They [the Centre] are interfering in the peoples rights and privacy. The Aadhaar number should not be linked with ones mobile phone, the West Bengal chief minister said.

I will not link my Aadhaar number with my mobile even if my connection is snapped, she said at the extended core committee meeting of the Trinamool Congress here.

Claiming that though her party did not want to be in power at the Centre, Trinamool Congress will play a vital role in removing the saffron party from power in the next general elections.

Banerjee asked her party leaders to start black day campaign from November 8 in every block and district in the state condemning demonetisation which was announced on that day last year.

A lot of people are not happy with the way the BJP-led NDA government is functioning. Our job will be to help them in defeating the BJP and save the country from dictatorship, she said.

...

07:01

The Raqqa Victory and the Tale of Mindless US Bombings "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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While the US claims to have won a number of battles against terrorists in Iraq and Syria, latest being the one in the city of Raqqa, these victoriesalmost all of themhave been achieved at a great human cost, leaving behind tales of destruction, showing minimum to no regard for the preservation of human life or even property. Despite the hard earned victory in Raqqa, the cityonce a vibrant metropolis on the Euphrates Riveris destroyed almost completely. Thanks to massive US air strikes in support of their ground allies, the Kurds, the United Nation estimates that 80 percent of Raqqa is uninhabitable now, raising a crucial question of who was the city won for and who will be placed there after Daesh has been forced to flee and re-locate?

While the liberators of Raqqa have said that the (destroyed) city will return to local governance and leadership and that the citys residents now have a chance to control their own future, the fact remains that the city has nothing, neither standing buildings nor residents, that the local authorities will be managing or governing. Most of the residents have long fled, with tens of thousands of the citys former inhabitants scattered across refugee camps or abroad. Plus, there is nothing for them to return to, and many of the predominantly Sunni Arab population distrust their liberators and the Raqqa Civil Council, which they see as a cover for the Kurdish-led SDF. In addition to it, the people continue to doubt if international aid would ever reach them to facilitate such large scale rehabilitation.

They have reasons to distrustreasons that include previous examples of complete post-victory abandonment in cities such as Kobani. While Daeshs defeat in this pre-dominantly Kurdish town in early 2015 helped turn the tide against the group and marked the start of a more open US military relationship with the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, the city was completely destroyed and remains in tatters even after two years. There were never (reconstruction) projects that reflected the scale of destruction, said Khaled Barkal, a vice president in the local government.

And, while the Western media seems to defend the destruction of Raqqa, as also other cities, by asking if there was any other way of winning, the fact of the matter is that it is not just Raqqa or Kobani that have been destroyed completely or partially as a result of US bombing. In fact, there is a long list....

06:58

Arrest Warrant Issued Against Hardik Patel in 2015 Vandalism Case "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Visnagar court has issued an arrest warrant against Hardik Patel today. Credit: PTI

A Visnagar court has issued an arrest warrant against Hardik Patel today. Credit: PTI

Mehsana, Gujarat: A court in Visnagar issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel yesterday after he failed to appear before it for the second consecutive time in a case of vandalising the office of a BJP MLA during the quota stir in 2015.

The warrant was issued against Hardik, convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), and six others including Sardar Parel Group (SPG) convener, Lalji Patel, by Visnagar sessions court judge V.P. Agarwal.

Hardik and others are accused of ransacking the office of Visnagar MLA Rishikesh Patel during the protest rally of Patidar community in July 2015.

Hardik and others had in the past secured bail in the case.

The leader, through his lawyer Rajendra Patel,  moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance citing his busy schedule, today. The court however, rejected his plea.

While the PAAS convener failed to appear before the court for second time, including today, Lalji Patel and others remained absent for the first time.

The same court had earlier rejected Hardiks plea seeking entry into Mehsana district, the epicentre of the quota stir. The young leader had requested the c...

06:54

Deadline to Link Aadhaar With Schemes Extended: Centre to SC "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Centre has extended the deadline to link details to the Aadhaar until March 2018. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Centre has extended the deadline for mandatory linking to the Aadhaar until March 2018. Credit: Wikimedia CommonsNew Delhi: The deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar to avail benefits of various government schemes would be extended till March 31, 2018, the Centre told the Supreme Court today.

We have decided to extend it until March 31, 2018, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the bench, which also comprised Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

The counsel appearing for petitioners, who have challenged the governments move to make Aadhaar mandatory for these schemes, raised the issue of the mandatory linking of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) number with bank accounts and mobile numbers.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, said that the main Aadhaar matter should be heard soon. Although the government has decided to extend the deadline until March 31 next year, it has not said that no action would be taken against those who do not want to link their Aadhaar with either bank accounts or mobile numbers.

Final hearing of the matter is necessary. They can make a statement that they will not take a course of action against those who dont want to link Aadhaar, Divan said.

When the attorney general said that he wanted to take instructions on certain...

06:32

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 141: Gujarat Election and Bank Recapitalisation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses why the Gujarat assembly election dates werent announced earlier and the governments decision to recapitalise banks.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 141: Gujarat Election and Bank Recapitalisation appeared first on The Wire.

05:30

Leather Workers, Flayers Are Victims of Thick-Skinned Polity "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Those who work with animal skin to make leather, and other items from dead animals, are forced to remain at the bottom rung of society.

What happens after cattle die? Credit: J. King

What happens after cattle die? Credit: J. King

Despite the best efforts of those who wish to protect them, cows and other bovines die as surely as sheep, goat and other domestic animals. In death too they become veritable source of useful materials and wealth. Men and women belonging to certain social formations engage in recovering the skins, bones and hooves of these animals. These materials find their use in downstream industry.

An anthropologist had commented that in India the social status of a group depends upon the frequency of contact the group members have with organic materials and the nature of those materials. Males from high castes have very little touch with any organic material during the course of their normal occupations. People from the middle castes tend to work with soil and with animals. Women constantly deal with organic material, etc.

We see the relevance of this hypothesis in the relative social status of the concerned people in the stagnant rural society. The flayers of skins and those who deal with bones, those who work with these skins to make leather...

05:00

Is the Nepali Left No Longer in the Lurch? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The maoists alliance with the largest communist bloc was an indication of several consolidating trends in Nepali politics in recent years. What remains to be seen is its viability.

UML leader K.P. Oli (left) shaking hands with CPN-Maoist Centre leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Credit: Reuters

UML leader K.P. Oli (left) shaking hands with CPN-Maoist Centre leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Credit: Reuters

As far as Nepali festival surprises go, this was a new one. The sudden announcement on Dashain that the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (UML), led by K.P. Oli, and the Maoist Centre, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, would come together in an electoral alliance in the forthcoming federal and provincial elections and merge the two parties after the elections was an indication of several consolidating trends in Nepali politics in recent years. The Nepali Congress, led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, seems to have been clueless about the alliance. Political commentators have remarked that the alliance could lead to...

05:00

Migrant Women Workers and a Lost Generation of Children in Kyrgyzstan "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Despite the fact that these women are sometimes the main source of income in their families, they have to face misogynistic behaviour and violence.

Kyrgyz women have gradually replaced men in various tasks, at home but also as migrant labourers. Credit: Author provided

Kyrgyz women have gradually replaced men in various tasks, at home but also as migrant labourers. Credit: Author provided

Dilya-eje, a secondary school teacher in the border village of Samarkandek, Kyrgyzstan, often visits the houses of her neighbourhood to record the children who should attend school the next year. She always indicates the status of their parents in her notebook. More than half of the parents are labelled as migrants.

When men migrate, women take on the usual male roles: today most agricultural labour in the villages is done by women. But in Kyrgyzstan there are also a high number of women migrants. In 2016, women accounted for about 40% of total Kyrgyz labour migrants to Russia. Some are divorced or married women and some are very young girls who begin to earn money just after graduating from high school. Women migrating to Russia are usually employed in the service sector.

Because of these trends, traditio...

04:30

Star Plus Cans Video of Comedian Mimicking Modi on The Great Indian Laughter Challenge "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

star plus, akshay kumar, the great indian laughter challenge, shyam rangeela

Almost a month after the episode was originally recorded, I got a phone call from the production team of the reality show asking me to shoot a new act because the channel decided to not air the one mimicking Modi and Rahul Gandhi, Rangeela told The Wire.

Rangeela, unlike other contestants who had to give auditions, was invited by the channel to participate in the reality show after his videos mimicking Modi and other politicians went viral on social media.

The production team told me that the decision to not air my act was taken because the channel feared that it will offend some people and they might protest against them, he claimed.

A video of the act, which received a standing ovation from judges Akshay Kumar, Zakir Khan, Mallika Dua and Hussain Dalal, has been doing the rounds on social media for the past few days. While the video has now been...

04:30

Myanmars Democracy Feels Strain of Religious Fault Lines "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The hatred towards the Rohingya is well known. But less documented is the spread of this hate towards other Muslims in Myanmar.

Muslims in the Thingangyun community of Yangon. They say extremist Buddhist monks sometimes try to provoke them by shouting nationalist slogans in their neighborhood. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

Muslims in the Thingangyun community of Yangon. They say extremist Buddhist monks sometimes try to provoke them by shouting nationalist slogans in their neighborhood. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

I try to hold on tight as my driver navigates his motorbike over a bumpy and muddy track. His helmet is decorated with a swastika and an eagle, part of an ill-inspired fashion trend called Nazi chic. Its symbolic for a country where hate and racism seem to have become normalised.

For many years the Rohingya in Rakhine State have been suffering from state-sponsored discrimination and stigmatisation. Today this hostility is spreading rapidly toward other Muslims in the country.

Were driving towards the outskirts of Dalla, a village on the Yangon River. I chose this place randomly, to sample the relations between Buddhists and Muslims. And it seems to go well.

We dont like what is happening in Rakhine. But here we have no prob...

04:30

Sabarimala Temple Case: Should Regressive Religious Arguments Be Constitutionally Protected? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The prohibition on the entry of women in Sabarimala perpetuates prejudice and is prima facie unsustainable being violative of Article 14 of the constitution.

Sabarimala temple. Credit: PTI

Sabarimala temple. Credit: PTI

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court will examine the controversial question whether women should be able to enter the Sabarimala temple. The problem presents complex issues of religious freedom, gender equality and female autonomy. Though much has been said about the controversy, some substantial questions remain unaddressed.

Reasoning with religion

Religious authorities make the obvious argument by relying on Article 26 of the constitution that every religious denomination has the fundamental right to manage religious affairs. They argue that interference by the state in matters wholly religious such as temple entry will infringe their rights. They further assert that faith cannot be subjected to the test of logic and reason.

However, this is a susceptible claim. Like every other right, the right to manage religious affairs is not absolute, but limited. Article 26 itself provides the inherent limitations of public order, morality and health to this freedom of management. Moreover, courts in India have always assessed religion and its practices in the light of other equally important constitutional rights. For instance, in Church Of God (Full Gospel) v. K.K.R. Majestic Colony Welfare Association and Others...

02:02

Most Malaysians cannot afford to retire "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Malaysia is ageing, and the population over 65 should make up 15 percent of the population by 2035. Current EPF savings for most Malaysians are barely enough for a decent life after retirement. Meanwhile, Malaysian life expectancy has been rising. Life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 72.5 years for males and 77.4 years for females. Assuming []

02:02

PH Budget: New deal for Sarawak, Sabah "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Abolishing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and giving special focus to Sabahs and Sarawaks development were among the key focus put forward by Pakatan Harapan in its Alternative Budget 2018 released yesterday. The alternative budget was unveiled in Parliament ahead of the tabling of the governments Budget for 2018 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri []

02:02

Najib, why are govt hospitals struggling? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Janelle (not her real name) is now a single mother after her husband passed away several years ago. Suffering from epilepsy, she has to take care of her only son who suffers from multiple disabilities. Anytime I can get into a fit, and it is dangerous for me to be driving at night, she said. []

02:02

Harapans budget offers 20pct royalty to oil producing states "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan, in its Alternative Budget 2018, said it will offer 20 percent royalty to oil-producing states Kelantan, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak. However, the coalition also indicated that it may scale back federal allocation with the increased oil royalty to the states. Pakatan Harapan agrees in principle to increase the royalty rate to 20 percent. []

02:02

Safety top priority, Sarawak DCM tells government contractors "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has asked contractors undertaking state government projects to prioritise workplace safety to avoid fatalities. He said safety should not be at stake in order to meet other contractual requirements, including project quality or rushing to meet completion deadlines. Analysis of past work-site accidents with fatalities showed that []

02:02

Stop arguing over who has winnable candidates, says UPP chief "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

United Peoples Party (UPP) president Wong Soon Koh has called on Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) leaders and supporters to leave it to the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership to decide on the candidates in the coming parliamentary election. Let us not argue whose candidates are winnable candidates. Lets leave it to (the) BN leadership to []

02:01

Pakatan will keep BR1M, but not allowed for frivolous items "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan (PH) said it would retain the 1Malaysia Peoples Aid (BR1M) cash aid if it took over federal government in the next election. The Opposition bloc however said unlike now, there would be a more stringent vetting process on recipients and might see a merit system being implemented for the cash handout. Pakatan Harapans []

02:01

Pakatan proposes targeted fuel subsidy, increased levy on foreign workers "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan said it would reintroduce fuel subsidies for low-income earners if it wins federal power. In its alternative budget unveiled today, the federal opposition pact also pledged to increase the levy on migrant labour in a bid to reduce the countrys reliance on imported manpower. PH said the pledge was a reflection of its []

02:01

Dont mix sex education with Islamic and moral studies, advocates tell Putrajaya "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has recommended a review to incorporate sex education in school, but parent-teacher groups and doctors are of the view that it should be a subject or programme on its own. Having it incorporated into the moral and Islamic studies will make educating students about sex less effective since []

02:01

Pakatans alternative budget shows how it can cut GST "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapans (PH) alternative budget for 2018 claimed it could not only cover the revenue loss by eliminating the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but record an RM6 billion surplus.The federal Opposition coalition said it estimated a net loss of RM25.5 billion in 2018 by eliminating GST and reverting to pre-GST numbers, which it said []

02:01

How not to enable sexual harassment "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Ive spent most of the month hiding from Twitter after a Tweet triggered a rage thats been dormant, one that I know will likely never truly go away. It was just a passing Tweet, callous, but it still hurt to read a man saying a woman only calls it harassment if the harasser is ugly. []

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Wednesday, 25 October

18:40

Will Reduce Trade, but No Cutting of Diplomatic Ties With North Korea: India to US "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Credit: MEA India/Twitter)

New Delhi: India has declined to close down its embassy in North Korea, a decision that it conveyed to US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Friday.

While the Trump administration did not formally request this of the Indian government, it has been urging various countries to isolate North Korea  and New Delhi had been indirectly apprised that Washington would prefer India to snap ties.

Tillerson arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday night after a whirlwind tour through Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Besides external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, he met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India has been ramping up its rhetoric on North Korea this year to align itself closely with the key foreign policy priority of the Trump administration. This change in rhetoric was most visible in the...

17:02

Shaky Situations in Syria and Iraq "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Despite the fact that reports of an imminent end to the Syrian war and the beginning of its economic recovery appear quite often, it is still too early to say that the Syrian Arab Republic is entering a peaceful phase of its development. The latest developments in the East and South of the country are further proof of this, especially considering what is happening in the areas of Iraq which border Syria.

On October 22, the formations of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with the support of the US-led coalition, managed to establish control of the left bank of the Euphrates River and claim the largest oil deposit in Syria al-Omar in the Deir ez-Zor. Meanwhile, the government forces of Damascus are based only three kilometers from this oilfield. Al-Tanak is also a large oil deposit, but it is already covered by the approaching Kurdish units, so it will most likely also go over to the SDF.

The Kurds compete with the army of the Syrian Arab Republic for control of the oil-bearing areas, said the head of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Walid Muallem. However, according to Mr. Muallem, Syria will not tolerate the violation of its sovereignty. Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov also commented on the oil race and said that the main battle is yet to come.

After the fall of Rakki, the Kurds received significant reinforcements, so they managed to develop their attacks at a very fast pace. Thus, on October 22, a message arrived reporting of the capture of another town on the Euphrates bank by the units of the SDF downstream the...

16:40

What the End of the Deng Era and the Beginning of Xis New Era Means for China "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Congress ended with the insertion of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era into the Party constitution, confirming Xi as the most powerful Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. REUTERS/Aly Song

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Credit: Reuters/Aly Song

The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China has ended, confirming Xi Jinping as the most powerful leader of the country since Deng Xiaoping. His stamp of authority was the insertion of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era into the party consti...

16:32

After Editors Exit, Hindustan Times Pulls Down Controversial Hate Tracker "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The development comes just days after former editor Bobby Ghosh stepped down from the organisation and a month after the organisation slowly distanced itself from the editorial initiative.

New Delhi: The Hindustan Times appears to have taken down its hate tracker initiative, a microsite that aimed at being a national database on crimes in the name of religion, caste and race.

Readers and viewers who tried to access the tracker on Wednesday morning were greeted with a 404 error message that indicated that its contents are currently no longer available on newspapers website.

Although the official reason behind the hate-trackers take-down is unknown at the moment, two journalists within the organisation that The Wire spoke to confirmed that it had been removed for the moment.

A detailed emailed questionnaire has been sent to current editor R. Sukumar and chief content officer Rajesh Mahapatra and the story will be updated if and when they respond.

The hate-tracker, which was intended to be a crowd-sourced database of hate crimes in India si...

16:09

Wonder Women: The Arab feminist revolution on Facebook "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Thousands of Arab women on Facebook are sharing, with heart-wrenching honesty, stories of female heroism that dont always make headlines. Is a new Arab feminism emerging? And what about the new Arab man?

Who needs a Hollywood movie like Wonder Woman about a woman overcoming fate, breaking barriers, and shattering glass and concrete ceilings alike, when these women are right here on Facebook, very close to every young Arab woman or girl who is starting out in life? (Gideon Markowicz / Flash90)

Who needs a Hollywood movie like Wonder Woman about a woman overcoming fate, breaking barriers, and shattering glass and concrete ceilings alike, when these women are right here on Facebook, very close to every young Arab woman or girl who is starting out in life? (Gideon Markowicz / Flash90)

A week ago one of my Facebook friends added me to a group for Arab women. Oh no, I thought. Not another group. But, as usual, I couldnt resist the feminist urge and went in to take a look.

I found stories of working Arab women of all ages from all over Israel: Muslim, Druze, and Christian, religious and less so, married and single; short, emotional stories along with simple reports, stories full of love and stories of disappointment, stories of crisis and stories of new starts.

[tmwinpost]

In recent years tens of thousands of women have found a home for their stories on Facebook. On the pages...

16:09

From whom is the IDF protecting Palestinian farmers? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

An IDF video celebrates its efforts to protect Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest. But human rights groups have documented dozens of attacks in just the past couple of weeks.

By Yael Marom

Israelis harvest olive trees belonging to Palestinian famers from the village of Al-Janiya, adjacent to the settler outpost of Zait Ra'anan, West Bank. (Yesh Din)

Israelis harvest olive trees belonging to Palestinian famers from the village of Al-Janiya, adjacent to the settler outpost of Zait Raanan, West Bank. (Yesh Din)

The Israeli military wants you to believe that it alone is responsible for ensuring that Palestinians can harvest their olive trees in peace. A new video, published on the Facebook page of the IDFs Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli military government that oversees the occupation of the Palestinian territories, shows how COGAT, in its words, is ensuring that Palestinian residents can harvest until the last olive this harvest season in Hebron.

The video shows a farmer from Hebron who describes how secure he feels while harvesting his 90 olive trees because of the Israeli soldiers sent by COGAT to protect him. According to Hebron District Coordination Liaison Safa Izz al-Din, the harvest season continues without problems.

COGAT officials may be carrying out their respective roles, coordinating between farmers and security forces in order to allow them to work their land, but is the harvest season really going off without...

15:59

Resource: The systematic abuse of Palestinian teens in East Jerusalem "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Affidavits collected from 60 Palestinian teenagers reveal how they are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, handcuffed, interrogated in violation of their rights, and kept in custody under harsh conditions, sometimes for extended periods of time by Israeli authorities. A new report by Israeli human rights groups HaMoked and BTselem reveals the broad, systemic human rights abuses against hundreds of Palestinian teens arrested every year in East Jerusalem.

15:30

Easter Island A Sustainable Society That Has Been Falsely Blamed for Its Own Demise "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

How did Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, carry out a cultural achievement on a barren island that seemingly lacked both resources and people?

Europeans inspect statues over a century after first contact. Carlo Bottillega 1827

Europeans inspect statues over a century after first contact. Carlo Bottillega 1827

Few places on earth are as well known for their so-called mysteries as Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui. For a tiny island of 64 square miles, with its nearest neighbours some 1,300 miles away, it has seen more than its fair share of controversy.

For a long while it wasnt clear whether the islands native population originated in Polynesia or South America. And how can we explain its apparent paradox: the design, construction and transport of giant moai stone statues, a remarkable cultural achievement yet one carried out on a virtually barren island, which seemingly lacked both the resources and people to carry out such a feat?

Anthropologists have long wondered whether these seemingly simple inhabitants really had the capacity for such cultural complexity. Or was a more advanced population, perhaps from the Americas, actually responsible one that subsequently wiped out all the natural resources the island once had?

...

15:25

Shifting Blame as US Agenda Unfolds in Myanmar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

October 25, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - As violence continues to unfold in Myanmar's western Rakhine state against the nation's Rohingya ethnic minority, the agenda driving the conflict is likewise unfolding in a more transparent and direct manner. 



As was predicted - the US is shifting blame away from the US-backed client regime headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy (NLD) party the US installed into power in 2015 - and toward Myanmar's independent institutions, including the nation's still powerful military. 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a recent talk before the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. (PDF) laid the blame squarely on Myanmar's military, claiming: 
...were extraordinarily concerned by whats happening with the Rohingya in Burma. Ive been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government. As you know, this is a power-sharing government that has that has emerged in Burma. We really hold the military leadership accountable for whats happening with the Rakhine area.
Reuters in an article titled, "Lawmakers urge U.S. to craft targeted sanctions on Myanmar military," would report: 
More than 40 lawmakers urged the Trump administration on Wednesday to reimpose U.S. travel bans on Myanmars military leaders and prepare targe......

15:25

Shifting Blame as US Agenda Unfolds in Myanmar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

October 25, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - As violence continues to unfold in Myanmar's western Rakhine state against the nation's Rohingya ethnic minority, the agenda driving the conflict is likewise unfolding in a more transparent and direct manner. 


As was predicted - the US is shifting blame away from the US-backed client regime headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy (NLD) party the US installed into power in 2015 - and toward Myanmar's independent institutions, including the nation's still powerful military. 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a recent talk before the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. (PDF) laid the blame squarely on Myanmar's military, claiming: 
...were extraordinarily concerned by whats happening with the Rohingya in Burma. Ive been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government. As you know, this is a power-sharing government that has that has emerged in Burma. We really hold the military leadership accountable for whats happening with the Rakhine area.
Reuters in an article titled, "Lawmakers urge U.S. to craft targeted sanctions on Myanmar military," would report: 
More than 40 lawmakers urged the Trump administration on Wednesday to reimpose U.S. travel bans on Myanmars military leaders and prepare targeted sanctions against those responsible for a crackdown on the co...

15:15

Fast Changing Equations in Poll-Bound Gujarat, BJP Uncomfortable on Home Turf "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

As political tides take a new turn every day, the BJP seems to be in an uncomfortable position in the state it has ruled for two decades.

Alpesh Thakor Joins Congress

Alpesh Thakor Joins Congress. Credit: Damayantee Dhar

Victory is certain, the Gujarat elections shall be about winning 150 seats, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah had said, addressing a rally in Junagarh in June this year. However, as the elections near, this target no longer seems easy for the BJP to achieve. As political tides take a new turn every day, the BJP seems to be in an uncomfortable position in the state it has ruled for two decades.

In mid-October this year, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, appeared together for an interview for the first time in a programme organised by a national channel. The three youth leaders took the platform to declare an anti-right wing front. Mevani claimed that the three of them could together make a dent in 120 out of the 182 assembly seats. The trio later found itself in the midst of the BJP-Congress face off in poll-bound Gujarat.

Even as speculations were ripe about the new-found caste polemics of a Dalit, OBC and Patidar leader, and the vote share conundrum, Reshma Patel and Varun Patel  key aides of Hardik Patel ...

15:00

Photos From Jantar Mantar: Is Anybody Listening? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The lanes of the Jantar Mantar have now fallen silent. Has the gulf between the authorities and the people widened?

My first visit to the Jantar Mantar an 18th century scientific monument in the heart of New Delhi was exactly 20 years ago while covering a protest organised by farmers.

From Anna Hazare to the Jawaharlal Nehru University students, from Tamil Nadu farmers to concerned residents of the city Jantar Mantar has seen protests of all kind. While covering these...

14:45

Will Shashi Tharoors Recommendations Reform the MEA for the Better? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Examining the three measures Tharoor suggested, and others which are debated frequently, aimed at improving Indias foreign policy and its delivery.

IAS Exam

Candidates writing IAS entrance exam. Credit: Reuters

Congress member of parliament Shashi Tharoor, a former United Nations undersecretary general and a former minister of state in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, is the first chair of the Parliaments Foreign Affairs Committee to take a professional interest in the operation of Indias diplomatic system.

In May 2016 the Committee had stoutly supported greater allocation of funds for MEA, pointing out, that if this was not done, with such limited resources the objectives of Indias foreign policy are definitely going to be compromised. That plea fell on deaf ears. Tharoor has continued to bat for giving more resources to MEA. In a recent comment, he has reverted to three themes he has espoused in the past:

  1. Expanding the manpower in the Indian Foreign Service (IFS),
  2. Providing lateral entry into the IFS, and
  3. Organisation of a separate exam for the service.

Let us examine these and other measures, which are debated frequently, aimed at improving Indias foreign policy and its delivery.

Unlike the general administration work that is handled by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), o...

14:29

Spotted: A New Small Clue for the Very Big, Very Old Puzzle About Our Sun "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The temperature of the Suns surface is 5500 C. But the solar corona, which lies about 2,000 km above the surface, rages at a few million degrees celsius. We dont know why.

These images from February 24, 2014, show the first moments of an X-class flare in different wavelengths of light seen as the bright spot that appears on the left limb of the Sun. Hot solar material can be seen hovering above the active region in the sun's atmosphere, the corona. The images were captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Caption and credit: gsfc/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

These images from February 24, 2014, show the first moments of an X-class flare in different wavelengths of light seen as the bright spot that appears on the left limb of the Sun. Hot solar material can be seen hovering above the active region in the suns atmosphere, the corona. The images were captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Caption and credit: gsfc/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Sarah Iqbal is a senior research fellow at the department of biochemistry, Aligarh Muslim University, India.

The Suns atmosphere is hotter than its surface, and physicists have been baffled by this for seven decades. Nuclear fusion occurring at the Suns core prod...

14:29

Girija Devi Immortalised Both the Thumri and Herself "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Girija Devis incisive voice invariably rang strong and true when she took to the stage, carrying with it the wisdom and experience of a lifetime spent with music.

Girija Devi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Girija Devi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At the age of 88, the iconic vocalist Girija Devi had a hectic concert schedule and many performances lined up in various parts of the country when she passed away last night in Kolkata. Those who had the opportunity to hear her in concert in the recent past will vouch for the fact that despite the natural silvering of her braided hair and the occasional ill-health that accompanies the process of ageing, Girija Devis incisive voice invariably rang strong and true when she took to the stage, carrying with it the wisdom and experience of a lifetime spent with music. Retirement has no meaning for such voices and musical temperaments. They live to sing, and quit only in death.

Girija Devis music won her countless disciples and followers, and several accolades and awards. A slew of Padma awards Padmashri, Padmabhushan and Padma Vibhushan honorary doctorates and titles paid homage to her artistry. So, instead of mourning the passing of an artiste who lived a full life, received adoration and recognition, and sang almost till her last breath, should we not be celebrating her life and her music?

My intention here is not to downplay the emotional wrench and irreparable sense of loss that a final parting brings. But the passing away of Girija Devi robs Indian music not only of an iconic singer; it also brings us a step...

14:02

Moon Jae-ins Great Purge. Episode 5: the Fight against Corruption and the Control of the Media "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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In the previous article on the current situation in the domestic politics of the RK, we wrote that the new president of the country, Mr. Moon Jae-in, had begun an extensive purge, which is being carried out in several ways.

First, another crusade against corruption has been launched that involves the establishment of an emergency body, as if bypassing the traditional structures that are occupied by Moons potential opponents. Thus, on September 18, 2017, the Committee for Reform of the Prosecutors Office and the Legal Department under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea recommended the establishment of a body to investigate crimes committed by high-ranking state officials. This recommendation will shortly be formally drafted into a specific bill, as stated by Justice Minister Park Sang-ki The above-mentioned body can have a staff comprising 122 people, including 50 prosecutors and several dozen investigators. The provisional title is: Investigative Directorate on Crimes of High-Ranking Civil Servants..

The Office will be empowered to investigate and launch legal proceedings; at the same time, where a case is being investigated simultaneously by the police and the prosecutors office, the new administration shall preside over that investigation. The objects of the investigation could be the president, the prime minister, heads of courts, members of the state, prosecutors and other high-ranking civil servants, their spouses and close relatives. The office shall investigate crimes related to the activities of civil servants, including the abuse of authority, the use of blackmail, coercion, interference in elections and others. Particular emphasis shall be placed on the receipt of bribes, the misuse of budgetary funds and other forms of corruption.

The head of the Office may hold office for one three-year term. This head shall be selected by the president from two candidates proposed by a special parliamentary committee. The deputy shall be appointed through a procedure of parliamentary staff hearings.

The discussion on the creation of this KGB analog began with Kim Dae-jung, when the so-called Audit and Inspection Bureau received extraordinary powers, and, in fact, finally turned out to be an extra-judicial body capable of conducting investigative actions. However, under Lee Myung-bak, this body was disbanded, while Park Geun-hye did no...

13:51

Episode 18. How Britain assisted the Soviet Unions fight against Hitler (III) "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Part I, Part II On July 28, 1942 Stalin issued his famous order no. 227: Not one step back! And this was not because he had forgotten to do it in 1941, but because the state of affairs on the front lines of the war had become much more dangerous []

13:30

As Nilekani Gives Clean Chit to Previous Infy Board, What of Narayana Murthys Corporate Governance Crusade? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The only conclusion that can be drawn from all this is that Murthy allowed his opposition to former chairman R. Seshasayee to become obsessive.

Infosys founder Narayan Murthy. Credit: Reuters

Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy. Credit: Reuters

The cloud hanging over Infosys ever since its founder and first chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy added his voice to the doubts being raised over two governance issues acquisition of Israeli automation firm Panaya and the severance pay of the former CFO will now hopefully be lifted.

...

13:28

South Africas Zuma Asks Court to Reject Call for Inquiry Into Influence-Peddling "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attends a SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa, August 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

South Africas President Jacob Zuma attends a SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria, South Africa, August 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

Pretoria: South African President Jacob Zuma has asked the high court to reject a call by an anti-corruption watchdog for an official inquiry into alleged influence-peddling in his government.

A report a year ago by South Africas anti-graft agency k...

13:21

US Top Court Dismisses Hawaiis Challenge to Trump Travel Ban "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

FILE PHOTO: Tourists and locals play on Ko'Olina beach on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, July, 29, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Hugh Gentry/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Tourists and locals play on KoOlina beach on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, July, 29, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Hugh Gentry/File Photo

The high court said it will not hear the case brought by Hawaii over the bans, which have expired and b...

12:50

How to Make Sense of the Radical Challenge to Sexual Harassment in Academia "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A list on Facebook naming alleged sexual harassers among South Asian academics has divided Indian feminists.

Columbia University. Credit: columbia.edu

The names on Raya Sarkars list include academics. File photo of Columbia University. Credit: columbia.edu

If theres a lesson the world has learnt this month, it is that in matters of sexual assault and harassment, justice is elusive but company is everywhere. Too often, women find their claims dismissed, and even the most liberal institutions favour powerful perpetrators over their victims.

In the digital age, many think the quick fix to this is to name and shame under the cover of online anonymity. First came a Google spreadsheet titled Shitty Media Men that circulated amongst women journalists in New York City. It was a public document where anyone could list the names and details of assaulters and harassers. Then came #HimToo, a corollary to #MeToo, which also encouraged women to name their perpetrators on social media. And now theres a list of South Asian academics out on Facebook, compiled by Raya Sarkar, that has the entire South Asian academic community in uproar.

Sarkars list is prefaced with two sentences. The first names prominent professors Dipesh Chakravaty and Kanak Sarkar  (the former was named by academic C. Christine Fair in an extensive personal account that has since been taken down by Huffington Post but is available on her blog). The second sentence tel...

12:49

Gujarat Election Dates Announced: Polling on December 9, 14, Results on December 18 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The announcement comes almost two weeks after the EC declared dates for Himachal Pradesh. Counting of votes for the two states will be on the same day.

Election comissioner

Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Joti announcing Gujarat poll dates today. Credit: Twitter/ANI

New Delhi: Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14, the Election Commission announced today, setting the stage for a high-stakes battle between the states ruling BJP and the Congress.

The votes will be counted on December 18, the same day as Himachal Pradesh, where elections will be held on November 9, Chief Election Commissioner A. K. Joti said at a press conference.

The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately. It will be applicable to the state government of Gujarat, the Union government and all candidates and political parties, he told reporters.

The poll process in the state will start on November 14 with the issue of the gazette notification for the first phase. Candidates can start filing their nominations from that day.

The first phase will be held in 89 of the 182 seats and will cover 19 of 33 districts. The notification for the second phase will be issued on November 20 for the remaining 93 assembly seats in 14 districts.

The last date for filing nominations in the first phase is November 21. Candidates can withdraw their nominations till November 24. For the second phase, candidates can file their nominations till November 27. They can withdraw their nominations till November 30.

Paper trail of votes will be used in all t...

12:45

Iraq Resists Outside Pressure: Hubris Inspires US Foreign Policy "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected a call by Washington for Iranian-backed fighters to leave Iraq at a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Baghdad on October 23.

12:23

Kirori Mal College Cancels Screening of Documentary Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyan "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

This is the second time a film by the same filmmaker has been prevented from being screened at the college.

Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyan

A still from Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyan. Credit: Youtube

New Delhi: Delhi Universitys Kirori Mal College (KMC) on Monday withdrew its permission to students to screen filmmaker Nakul Singh Sawhneys documentary Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyan. The film deals with issues of consent and honour killing. This is the second time the college authorities have refused permission to Sawhney to screen his film. Two years ago, in August 2015, ABVP students had disrupted the screening of his film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai centred around the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

Permission was granted to KMCs zoology students on October 16 to screen Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyan, reported the Times of India. The screening was part of a gender sensitisation programme, in collaboration with Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Study Circle.

There seem to be conflicting versions why the films screening was cancelled. Anita Kamra, head of department of zoology, withdrew permission citing technical faults&...

12:20

Assam Government Forms NSA Board to Prosecute Farmers Rights Activist Akhil Gogoi "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Gogoi has been charged of waging war against the state by urging people at a public rally to pick up guns.

Farmers rights activist Akhil Gogoi. Credit: Vikramjit Kakati/Wikipedia Commons

New Delhi: Assam government has formed an advisory board headed by retired Gauhati high court judge P.G. Aggarwal as per the National Security Act (NSA) to prosecute farmers rights activist Akhil Gogoi.

Gogoi, leader of the popular Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), was detained by the Assam police on September 25 under the NSA. As per section 9 of the Act, a person arrested under it would be tried by an advisory board formed by the appropriate government consisting of three persons who are, or have been or are qualified to be appointed as judges of a high court. If the board reports that there is sufficient cause for detention, the appropriate government may confirm the detention order.

In such a case, Gogoi would have to approach the Gauhati high court for relief.

A vocal opponent of the ruling BJP government and its ideological foun...

12:15

US Hopes to Cut the Gordian Knot of India-Pakistan Rivalry "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Most certainly, it stretches credulity that Pakistans military and intelligence establishment were in the dark about the US-Canadian couple held hostage (apparently by Islamist militants) for five long years before being freed on October 11 by the Pakistani military, ostensibly on a tip-off by the US intelligence.

11:55

Under Trump Plan, Refugees From 11 Countries Face Additional US Barriers "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

People come through the International Arrivals gate from Dubai at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas, U.S., June 29, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Laura Buckman/Files

People come through the International Arrivals gate from Dubai at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas, U.S., June 29, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Laura Buckman/Files

Washington/New York: The Trump administration will temporarily delay the processing of most refugees from 11 countries identified as high-risk, while resuming refugee admissions for other countries, government officials said on Tuesday. Most of the affected countries are in the Middle East and Africa, according to documents seen by Reuters....

11:45

Trump"s Task Is to Reverse the "Roll Out" of Iran by Challenging the JCPOA "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The false concerns of the US government about the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear energy program have always been a pretext to justify the US antagonism and drive to get Tehran to act in the interests of the US.

11:43

Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Other Nations Hit With New Wave of Cyber Attacks "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A passenger swipes a card against a terminal to ride the subway system in Kiev, Ukraine October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A passenger swipes a card against a terminal to ride the subway system in Kiev, Ukraine October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Kiev/Moscow: Cyber attacks using malware called BadRabbit hit Russia and other nations on Tuesday, affecting Russian Interfax news agency and causing flight delays at Ukraines Odessa airport.

While no major outages were reported, the US government issued a warning on the attack, which followed campaigns in May and June that used similar malware and resulted in what some economists estimated are billions of dollars in losses.

The attacks are disturbing because attackers quickly infected critical infrastructure, including transportation operators, indicating it was a well-coordinated campaign, said Robert Lipovsky, a researcher with cyber firm ESET.

More than half the victims were in Russia, followed by Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey and Japan, accordi...

11:15

The FBI"s Forgotten Criminal History "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Is the FBIs halo irrevocable? The FBI has always used its good guy image to keep a lid on its crimes. It is long past time for the American people, media, and Congress to take the FBI off its pedestal and place it where it belongs under the law. It is time to cease venerating a federal agency whose abuses have perennially menaced Americans constitutional rights. Otherwise, the FBIs vast power and pervasive secrecy guarantee that more FBI scandals are just around the bend.

10:45

Goodbye Royal Marines "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Over the course of the summer there was great fanfare and much to do from the British Secretary of State, Sir Michael Fallon MP, regarding the 'completion' of two new British aircraft carriers called HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales...

10:30

Exploring the Individual vs Community Debate on Triple Talaq and Privacy "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Supreme Court seems to have tread a course which marks a definitive, if not an entirely radical, departure from Indias original constitutional project of social transformation through state intervention.

How should we talk about this break in conceptual terms, and what must we remain wary of as it begins to capture Indias constitutional imagination? Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How should we talk about this break in conceptual terms, and what must we remain wary of as it begins to capture Indias constitutional imagination? Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The two recent Supreme Court judgments striking down the practice of instant triple talaq and declaring a fundamental right to privacy bear the potential of being regarded as important flag-posts in postcolonial Indias hesitant journey towards liberty, equality and fraternity. A majority of the justices on both benches sought to prioritise guarantees and entitlements conferred upon individuals in the constitution over concerns of a disproportionatel...

10:14

CECs Explanation on Not Giving Up Gujarat Govt Accommodation Doesnt Match the Paper Trail "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A.K. Joti has said that he vacated the Ahmedabad house in October 2016, but his clarifications still leave many questions unanswered about his own actions and those of the Gujarat government.

Chief election commissioner A.K. Joti. Credit: PTI

Chief election commissioner A.K. Joti. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The explanation that chief election commissioner A.K. Joti has provided to the Times of India in response to The Wires story on the retention of Gujarat government accommodation by him in Ahmedabad even after he had moved to the Election Commission in Delhi does not square with the official paper trail.

The Wire story noted the possible conflict of interest involved in an individual holding a critical constitutional position being obliged to a state government or political party for his personal accommodation.

I was allocated a house in Delhi only after one year of being appointed in the EC. I requested the Gujarat government to allow me to keep possession of the house in the Dafnala area of Ahmedabad as I could not have lived with my wife for a year in Delhis Gujarat Bhavan. I have paid the rent as per Gujarat government norms, he...

10:13

Will Dissident Voices be Trampled by a Full Frontal Assault "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Why is the world surprised an NGO with the crafty brand European Values published its own hit list of dissonant voices? After all, George Soros helped fund more than one Nazi organization in his life. Heres the latest Soros wolf in sheeps clothing out for the blood of innocents. But first let me remind Brussels and Prague

The European Unions fundamental values are respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These values unite all the member states no country that does not recognize these values can belong to the Union.

McCarthyism: Then and Now

In the U.S. Senate lawmakers have come up with a scheme to tear up the Bill of Rights so that only one message gets through to the public. The RussiaGate fabrication is now in the final phase of Orwellian desperation as Senator Mark Warner has announced a bill co-sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called the Honest Ads Act. The bill being parlayed as a transparency move against Facebook, is in fact another kind of hit list straight out of the McCarthy era. In order to get a better feeling for what is really going on in this RussiaGate mess, a short history lesson is in order.

For those too young to remember, the time from 1947 to roughly 1956 when U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy helped put in practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence, the scare led to things like Hollywood blacklisting and something called the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and hundreds being imprisoned. Thousands of Americans lost their jobs, and all because a mad group of politicians forgot the U.S. Constitution.

Fast forward to the abuses of the Bush and Obama administrations and we find ourselves spied upon by our own intelligence community, betrayed by our corporations that are assisting them, and brainwashed by the same media institutions that once fought McCarthyism. Hollywood is still playing the same anti-Rusky game it did in the 50s too. But back then Billionaire George Soros had only just grown out of his role helping the Nazis steal the property of Jews in Hungary. As bad as Hitler, the Zionists, and the fascists hated Communi...

09:47

Lee-Trump visit underscores Singapores balancing act "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

At the same time as he has been trying to repair relations with China, Singapore's PM has tried to reaffirm bilateral cooperation with the US


Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held talks with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office this week to reaffirm bilateral cooperation amid considerable anxieties about US commitments to free-trade multilateralism and long-standing alliances across Asia.

Lee, the fourth Southeast Asian leader to visit the White House, is on a six-day working visit to Washington at the invitation of the president. Both countries share a deep and multi-faceted relationship based on a basic strategic congruence of views about the world and the region, Lee said during a television interview with CNBC.

The US administrations emphasis on creating job opportunities for Americans has not been lost on the Singaporean delegation, nor the other Southeast Asian leaders who have visited Washington under Trumps tenure.

The two leaders oversaw a deal between Singapore Airlines and Boeing for the national carrier to buy 39 new planes, worth US$13.8 billion. Fulfilling that order will create 70,000 jobs in the US, according to Trump, who said the US-Singapore relationship was now is at its highest point and that his country was fortunate to have such a wonderful and loyal partner.

Read the full story at the Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times specialising on current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He...

09:37

Cuban Investigators Call US Sonic Attack Allegations Science Fiction "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A team investigating U.S. complaints of attacks on diplomats in Havana, lead by Cuban Interior Ministry's Colonel Ramiro Ramirez (R), participate in an interview at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, October 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A team investigating U.S. complaints of attacks on diplomats in Havana, lead by Cuban Interior Ministrys Colonel Ramiro Ramirez (R), participate in an interview at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, October 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Havana:...

09:30

How Bengals Mejia Power Plant is Wrecking the Life of the People Its Supposed to Benefit "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Nine people have died in Latiaboni in the past three months due to cancer, tuberculosis and breathlessness and villagers blame pollution from the plant.

The Mejia Thermal Power Station is located near Latiaboni in West Bengal. Credit: G. Arora

Latiaboni: Subhas Hazra suffers from breathlessness and coughs for several hours during the day. His skin itches and bleeds. In his seventies, he is still cheerful about life, but thoughts of the looming danger to his village have snatched the sheen from his face and replaced it with signs of worries of the impending future.

Hazra is a resident of Latiaboni village in the Bankura district of West Bengal, about 250 kilometres from Kolkata. At first instance, the village appears to be like any other rural setting in the state, but a closer interaction with the villagers reveals a tale of horror and apathy.

Perhaps the only fault of the village is its location. It is a stones throw away from the Mejia Thermal Power Station (MTPS) of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). The plant, with an installed capacity of 2340 MW, has eight units under operation. Commissioned in 1996, the MTPS is the largest thermal power plant in terms of generating capacity in West Bengal as well as among other DVC plants.

Despite supplying power to West Bengal and neighbouring states, the plant has brought misery to the lives of several hundreds of villages who live near it. Harmful emissions from the power plant have not only polluted the ground water but have also caused health hazards. The fly ash pond, spre...

09:30

Kidney Disease Stalks Rural Odisha, Suspicions Turn to Monazite Mining "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It is well known that monazite-mining adversely impacts human health and the ecosystem because of the radiation hazards it brings with it. Research is needed to address local fears about causality.

Tailing deposits outside the Orissa Sands Complex in Chatrapur district. Credit: Ranjana Padhi and Rajinder Singh Negi

Tailing deposits outside the Orissa Sands Complex in Chatrapur district. Credit: Ranjana Padhi and Rajinder Singh Negi

Ranjana Padhi is a feminist activist and writer based in Bhubaneswar. Rajender Singh Negi is a journalist, editor and translator based in New Delhi.

Badaputti (Ganjam district, Odisha): Sitting on a plastic chair with his legs stretched out, wearing a clean white round-neck shirt and a lungi, he seemed like a man who had lost all hope in life and someone who knew that the spectre of death was lurking around, waiting to consume him slowly but surely. He looked frail and weak and had festering wounds in his legs; his soles pale, indicating his anaemic condition. It was frightening to look into his eyes with those shadows of death staring back at you.

P. Jagannath, 51, has been suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) for the last two years. Having spent all their lifes savings, his family now has nothing left to continue his treatment. They can barely pay for his medicines and have to skip buying them more often than not. There is no question of affording dialysis any longer.

Till a f...

09:16

Pressure on as Xis Belt and Road Enshrined in Chinese Party Charter "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Policemen watch a broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering his speech during the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, as they stand guard at a railway station in Yuncheng, Shanxi province, China October 18, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Stringer/Files

Policemen watch a broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering his speech during the opening of the 19th Nation...

09:11

Kurdistan Region to Engage in Talks With Baghdad, Offers to Freeze Independence Vote "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A boy rides a bicycle with the flag of Kurdistan in Tuz Khurmato, Iraq September 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A boy rides a bicycle with the flag of Kurdistan in Tuz Khurmato, Iraq, September 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Cairo/Baghdad: The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) offered on Wednesday to put an independence referendum on hold as part of efforts to end the military confrontation with Iraqi forces, and resolve the crisis with the central government in Baghdad through dialogue.

The fighting between the two sides will not produce a victory for any, it will take the country to total destruction, said the KRG in a statement.

We make the following proposal to the government and Iraqi and international public opinion: 1- immediate ceasefire (..) 2- freezing the results of the referendum (..) 3- starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution, it said.

The Iraqi government has transformed the balance of power in the north of the country since launching a campaign last week to seize back territory from the Kurds, who govern an autonomous region of three northern provinces and had also seized a swathe of other territory in northe...

09:02

In Japan, Many Dont Want Abe as Prime Minister Even If He Won the Election "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), attends a news conference at LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Japan October 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), attends a news conference at LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Japan October 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Tokyo: Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may have won a major election victory on Sunday, but half the people surveyed post-election by the Asahi newspaper dont want him to stay prime minister.

It seems the election victory has boosted the approval rating for Abes administration, but not him.

Public support rate for Abes administration grew to 42% in the survey, conducted between October 23 and 24, up from 38% in its previous survey in mid-Oct.

But 47%...

08:43

Maharashtra Loan Waiver Hits Roadblock as Lakhs of Farmers With Same Account, Aadhaar Numbers Listed "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In addition, several farmers names have been repeated multiple times in the lists provided by various banks.

The state government wanted to expedite delivery of the farm loan waiver. Credit: PTI

The state government wanted to expedite delivery of the farm loan waiver. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Maharashtras implementation of the farm loan waiver has hit a rather strange road block. Lakhs of farmers, according to the data provided to the government by banks, have identical Aadhaar and savings account numbers. The state government, which wanted to expedite the delivery of the loan waiver to approximately 77 lakh farmers, hasnt yet announced what it will do about this problem.

According to the Indian Express, a leading national banks list to the government includes 253 farmers names with the identical Aadhaar number 100000000000. More than 50 farmers apparently have the Aadhaar number 11111111111. Of the 56.59 lakh applications from 77.27 lakh farmers for the farmer loan waiver scheme, only 15 lakh accounts have been found eligible for further processing,...

08:07

Xi Jinping Wins Second Term as Head of Chinas Ruling Communist Party "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Xi, in a brief address, thanked the national and international media for working hard in reporting about the Congress.

Xi Jinping. Credit: Reuters

Xi Jinping today secured a second five-year term as the head of the ruling Communist Party as it unveiled its new leadership with the Chinese president attaining iconic status enjoyed by modern Chinas founder Chairman Mao Zedong.

Xi, 64, was elected in a closed-door vote to head the Politburo Standing Committee while Prime Minister Li Keqiang retained his seat on the ruling council alongside five new members.

Xi and Li walked along with members of the new Politburo Standing Committee before a media event telecast live all over world from Beijings massive Great Hall of the People.

Five other men replaced comrades who had reached an informal retirement age of 68.

Xi, in a brief address, thanked the national and international media for working hard in reporting about the Congress.

He spoke about the China entering new era of modernisation.

As I look ahead to the next five years, I see several important junctures and signposts, Xi said.

Stating that the coming five years between the 19th and the 20th Party Congress is the period in which the timeframes of the two Centenary goals will converge, Xi said, Not only we must deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey towards the second centenary goal.

With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. In this new context, we must get a new look and, more importantly, make new accomplishments, he said.

Peace and development are precious and sho...

08:07

NO WORDS #FeelCamiguin an off-track Tourism Campaign "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

NO WORDS #FeelCamiguin a kind of different tourism campaign.

Camiguins tourism advertisements are always a bit different from the others. And often they are good to excellent. Or at least people are talking about the videos.

Do you remember This is Camiguin. This video from  2014 made its way around the world. The script idea of this 3 years old video is interesting:
Show video clips from areas on Camiguin island which are usually attributed to other countries or islands. Then inform the audience: This isnt X, this is Camiguin.
For those who dont know this former campaign, here is the movie again:

This is Camiguin from Camiguin Unseen on Vimeo.

NO WORDS #FeelCamiguin

The new campaign is also a bit different!

The video starts with a tourist talking to her friend who unfortunately left her alone because of a work emergency. She is complaining about how small and boring Camiguin is and wondering what she will do in the area alone. She then is approached by a friendly mute tour guide who takes her for a joy ride while riding a motorcycle. Although she is reluctant and fears the tourist guide at first, as the video progresses, the main character is caught by the islands beauty.

The whole video shows all the different breathtaking sightseeing places, mouthwatering delicacies, and friendly natives of Camiguin. It also showcases the colorful Lanzones Festival.

The video is part of the local governments #FeelCamiguin campaign. It was launched just in time for the 38th Lanzones Festival, happening from October 22 to October 31.
No Words is produced by James de la Vega. It was written by Benson Logronio and directed by ER Alviz. J-mee Katanyag and Marco Augusto Simene co-sta...

07:58

As Party Feud Deepens, Two Republican US Senators Blast Trump "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A combination photo of Republican Senators Jeff Flake (L) of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee are shown in Washington, U.S., on March 31, 2017 and October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A combination photo of Republican Senators Jeff Flake (L) of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee are shown in Washington, US, on March 31, 2017 and October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Washington: Tensions among Republicans about President Donald Trump boiled over on Tuesday as two senators accused Trump of debasing US politics and the countrys standing abroad, a rebellion that could portend trouble for his legislative agenda.

The extraordinary public criticism of the president from Jeff Flake and Bob Corker further strained what had already been a fraught relationship between Trump and fellow Republicans as they try to enact tax reform a...

07:51

Explained: The Great Indian Bank Recapitalisation Push "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

While it will almost certainly impact the fiscal deficit, this needs to be accompanied by an aggressive recovery of loans so that moral hazard doesnt set in.

A cashier displays the new 2000 Indian rupee banknotes inside a bank in Jammu, November 15, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Mukesh Gupta/File photo

The recapitlisation programme has to be accompanied by an aggressive recovery of loans. Credit: Reuters

The big bang bank recapitalisation is here. Call it a bailout, call it recapitalisation, or say that the government financial engineered a way to partially solve the bad loan problem. But what will they do?

There are three things that will happen:

  • Through budgetary allocations, the government will buy Rs.18,000 crore worth shares of public sector banks
  • ...

07:39

Listen: Mourning Queen of Thumri Girija Devis Demise "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Girija Devi, one of the foundational figures of Banaras and Senia gharana died on Tuesday in Kolkata after a cardiac arrest.

Girija Devi. Credit: Twitter

Eminent classical singer and Padma Vibhushan awardee Girija Devi passed away at a hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday following a cardiac arrest, hospital sources said.

She was 88 and is survived by a daughter.

Considered as the queen of Thumri and fondly called Appa ji, Girija Devi was taken to the citys BM Birla Heart Research Centre on Tuesday afternoon with cardiovascular ailments. She was put on life support, her family sources said.

Girija Devis condition was quite critical when she was brought to the hospital. She was admitted to the CCU and was under constant watch. But she passed away at around 8:45 pm, hospital spokesperson told PTI.

A legendary singer of the Benaras gharana, she was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, the Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016.

Born in a zamindar family at a village near Banaras on May 8, 1929, music was a part of Girija Devis life from an early age.

She took lessons in Khayal and Tappa from vocalist and sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra at the age of five.

She worked as a faculty member of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata in the 1980s and of the Banaras Hindu University d...

07:38

Myanmar, Bangladesh Agree to Cooperate on Rohingya Refugee Repatriation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Rohingya refugee family sits in a queue as they wait to receive humanitarian aid at Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A Rohingya refugee family sits in a queue as they wait to receive humanitarian aid at Kutupalong refugee camp near Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh October 24, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Naypyitaw: Myanmar and Bangladesh on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees and took steps to boost border security as relations between the neighbours have been strained by the continuing flow of refugees into Bangladesh.

Over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since August 25, when Rohingya insurgent attacks sparked a ferocious military response by the...

07:03

Shifting Blame as US Agenda Unfolds in Myanmar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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As violence continues to unfold in Myanmars western Rakhine state against the nations Rohingya ethnic minority, the agenda driving the conflict is likewise unfolding in a more transparent and direct manner.

As was predicted  the US is shifting blame away from the US-backed client regime headed by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy (NLD) party the US installed into power in 2015 and toward Myanmars independent institutions, including the nations still powerful military.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a recent talk before the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. (PDF) laid the blame squarely on Myanmars military, claiming:

were extraordinarily concerned by whats happening with the Rohingya in Burma. Ive been in contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the civilian side of the government. As you know, this is a power-sharing government that has that has emerged in Burma. We really hold the military leadership accountable for whats happening with the Rakhine area.

Reuters in an article titled, Lawmakers urge U.S. to craft targeted sanctions on Myanmar military, would report:

More than 40 lawmakers urged the Trump administration on Wednesday to reimpose U.S. travel bans on Myanmars military leaders and prepare targeted sanctions against those responsible for a crackdown on the countrys Rohingya Muslim minority.

And Freedom House a subsidiary of the US government and corporate-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) would also publish a piece titled, ...

06:29

The Newton Character That Missed Our Reviews the Forest "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

If the jungles of Dandakaranya are seen as a character in the movie, it is fair to aver that democracy in the jungle has to follow the rules of ecology, local knowledge and custom.

A scene from the film Newton. Credit: Eros

A scene from the film Newton. Credit: Eros

Neha Sinha is a Delhi-based conservationist.

In Satyajit Rays acclaimed short story, Big Bill, the unflappable protagonist Tulsi Babu visits the forests of Dandakaranya to procure a medicinal herb that works like magic. In the same forest, he finds an egg-shaped object.

As he watches, the egg begins to hatch. The head was already out of the shell. It was not a snake, nor a crocodile or a turtle, but a bird Its purple wings were unique, as was its alert behaviour so soon after birth.

The rest of the story is devoted to Tulsi Babus adventures with the newly born chick, named Bill and what Bill actually turns out to be. The deep, primitive forest of Dandakaranya has nearly the same importance as Bill in the story. In the Ramayana, too Dandakaranya has symbolism: it is the abode of Dandak, a demon. Surpanakha, sister of Ravana, meets Lakshman here, which leads to decisive events in the epic. In both Rays world and that of the Ramayana, Dandakaranya forest is brimful of mystery, medicine and terror, and is ultimately unknowable.

It is poetic justice then that Newton, one of...

05:30

Realising Universal Health Coverage in Karnataka "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Implementation of a single health programme such the Universal Health Coverage cannot overcome the challenges of weak governance, lack of accountability and poor implementation.

Current schemes in Karnataka are a combination of health insurance and assurance models, primarily target BPL populations, and offer secondary and tertiary care services. Credit: Reuters

Current schemes in Karnataka are a combination of health insurance and assurance models, primarily target BPL populations, and offer secondary and tertiary care services. Credit: Reuters

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030 is the primary health-related objective defined under the Sustainable development goals (SDG). The World Health Organization has defined UHC as the desired outcome of health system performance whereby all people who need health services receive them, without undue financial hardship.

Indias national health policy has reiterated the governments commitment to achieving UHC, and has begun brainstorming about mechanisms to maximise existing resources to increase coverage across populations and services, while ensuring quality. A high-level expert group (HLEG) was...

05:30

A Diplomatic Dispatch for an Ambitious India: How Shyam Saran Sees the World and Indias Place in It "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

How India Sees the World lays out the idea that diplomacy is not only an instrument of politics, but also shapes politics as we know it.

In a professional life laden with secrecy, what you say and what you dont say are both imbued with great significance. Credit: Pixabay

In a professional life laden with secrecy, what you say and what you dont say are both imbued with great significance. Credit: Pixabay

Over the generations, officers of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) have produced a scintillating array of memoirs that are excellent statements of the politics of their time, but also exhibit a particular kind of literary flair. In that sense, Ambassador Shyam Saran quite consciously embodies the histories of the senior roles he once held. In a professional life laden with secrecy, what you say and what you dont say are both imbued with great significance. The publication of such a memoir has therefore elicited some controversy and the expectation of an expos. How India Sees the World is, however, totally unconcerned with the personal detail, and so, Saran remains as inscrutable after the book as he was before it.

A recent essay in the English Historical Journal lamented the tendency of diplomats to attempt travel writing without having the finesse possessed by travel writers. This book turns this on its head, as the really delightful bits are, in fact, Sarans descriptions of his interactions with Chinese culture. There is a story about Indian cu...

05:15

How Fetching Water Adds to the Drudgery in the Lives of Jammu and Kashmirs Women "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Lacking piped water supply, young girls and women in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir spend hours walking long distances to get water far from their homes and waiting for their turn at the source.

Lacking piped water supply, young girls and women in rural areas of Jammu & Kashmir spend hours walking long distances to get water far from their homes and waiting for their turn at the source. Credit: Athar Parvaiz

Lacking piped water supply, young girls and women in rural areas of Jammu & Kashmir spend hours walking long distances to get water far from their homes and waiting for their turn at the source. Credit: Athar Parvaiz

Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban centers, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of WHO, said in a news release in July this year.

Villagers in many parts of...

05:00

Gold, Lumber, Cattle and Now, Energy Cycles of Wealth in Brazils Amazon "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The hydropower plants of Amazon could kick off a new cycle by providing more accessible energy to the mining industry and facilitating the expansion of export agriculture with new roads.

An aerial view of a tract of Amazon jungle cleared by loggers and farmers near the city of Novo Progresso, Brazil September 22, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Paranaita, Brazil: The burning down of the local forest, on June 29, 1979, was the first step towards the creation of the city of Paranaita, in a municipality that is now trying to shed its reputation as a major deforester of Brazils Amazon rainforest and has named itself the energy capital.

Two large hydropower plants, one of which is still being built, have changed life in Paranaita. But its future is not yet clearly defined between the rainforest, cattle-breeding and soy and maize monoculture that have advanced from the south, deforesting the west-central state of MatoGrosso, which is the southeastern gateway to the Amazon jungle region.

Construction...

National Mineral Policy Review A Golden Chance for Change "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

While illegal mining is worrying, what is little understood is the enormous loot that is taking place legally. Mineral owners sometimes receive less than 5% of the value of minerals.

mining in Goa

Mining in Goa. Credit: PTI

The three iron ore scams in Karnataka, Goa and Odisha have some things in common. There were widespread and diverse breaches of the constitution, laws, rules and regulations. The environment was badly damaged. The minerals were being exhausted. Enormous corruption was apparent, with both the politicians and the bureaucracy likely involved. In turn, miners became politicians, politicians became miners, and crony capitalism bloomed.

In the Odisha mining case, the Supreme Court has responded in three principal ways:

(a) it has clearly defined what is illegal mining, and clarified that under the mining laws, illegal mining requires the return of the mineral or its full value (as would be the case with theft), and jail terms/fines in addition;
(b) it is considering the formation of an expert committee to examine the myriad ways the laws were breached and to suggest appropriate controls; and
(c) after a discussion on inter-generational equity, it directed the government to revisit its National Mineral Policy, with the aim of making it effective.

While illegal mining is worrying, what is little understood is the enormous loot that is taking place legally. Under the pre-auction regime, we calculated that over an eight-year-per...

04:30

How I Went Blind and Started Hearing Colours "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Synaesthesia is a biological condition that causes some peoples senses to cross over, so one kind of sensory response is produced by stimulation of another sense.

 Paul Rousteau at Kiosk

Paul Rousteau at Kiosk

Out of the blue, Vanessa Potter lost her sight. As she recovered, her senses mingled hearing and touch changed the way she saw colours. Her quest to understand why introduced her to new tech that uses sound to help blind people see.

It took just 72 hours for me to lose my sight entirely, and for my hands and feet to feel like they were encased in ice. Just before my blindness hit, I had been laid up with an unknown virus that had left me suffering severe headaches and sweats. My bodys immune system had gone haywire, responding to the virus by attacking my own nerves, causing my loss of sight and mobility you could say I had been struck down by biological friendly fire.

Going blind was devastating. I hadnt just lost my primary sense I had lost my livelihood too. As a television producer, my vision was my job, so I was desperate to see again. After a few weeks, I regained some movement and normal sensation in my legs and feet, but my vision was another matter entirely.

The morning my sight finally started to return, I opened my eyes to a strange, supernatural view. At first I could only make out subtle light shifts, everything was just a swirling grey fog with no perceptible shapes. I was momentarily elated that the world was no longer a suffocating black cloak wrapped around my head but I realised quickly that I did not recognise anything arou...

04:30

Modi Governments Policy Paralysis Wont Fix the Economy "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It seems as thought the Centre does not know how to tackle the economic slowdown and lack of jobs in the country.

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley addressing the launch of the Axis Bank CSR project in New Delhi on September 26, 2017. Credit: PIB

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley addressing the launch of the Axis Bank CSR project in New Delhi on September 26, 2017. Credit: PIB

The Narendra Modi government finds itself clueless on how to tackle the present economic slowdown and growing unemployment in traditional as well as IT sectors. Certain exercises were conducted in the finance ministry after Yashwant Sinha gave the matter a political spin. However, there are sharp differences even on the efficacy of traditional remedies like increased public investment, rate cuts and a special boost to employment-intensive sectors.

So far, there is clarity on one point: there will not be any fiscal stimulus. Barring this, the government and its advisors seem to be at a loss to find any workable measures to bring the economy back to health. Nitin Gadkari has put forth an ambitious...

02:03

Speed up talk on education autonomy See Chee How "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How has urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state government to hasten the negotiation process with the federal government for the devolution of power with regards to matters concerning education in Sarawak before talking about the building and renovation of dilapidated schools, most particularly those []

02:02

In Dr Ms lawsuit, court told PM has no legal duty to advise on CJs revocation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The prime minister has no legal duty to advise the countrys ruler to cancel the chief justices (CJ) appointment, as there was no such duty written in the Federal Constitution, the High Court was told today. Senior federal counsel Alice Loke Yee Ching said she had objected against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamads bid to further []

02:02

What Malaysians want in Budget 2018 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

As Putrajaya prepares to table Budget 2018 this Friday with a theme of Shaping the Future, many Malaysians who are feeling the pinch are hoping for measures and aid that will help ease their burdens. Here are some highlights of what Malaysians hope to see in Budget 2018: Workers Employees in both the private and []

02:01

EC receives 229,919 new voter registration applications "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Election Commission (EC) has received 229,919 new voter registration applications and 65,083 applications for change of polling centre address during the third quarter of this year.EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said the 2017 third quarter Supplementary Electoral Roll (RDPT) would be on display for 14 days from tomorrow to Nov 6 at 960 places nationwide. During the period, those []

02:01

Lawyer: Incredible that EC did nothing to find addresses lost since 2002 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Election Commissions (EC) claim that it did not have some voters addresses and its failure to restore others lost during a 2002 data migration were incredible, a court was told today.Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, a lawyer representing the Selangor government, argued that the ECs redelineation exercise would not be valid without the addresses of 136,272 []

Tuesday, 24 October

22:58

Whats dividing Israeli society? Just dont mention the occupation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Is it possible to discuss the sources of Israeli disunity without addressing the countrys military regime in the West Bank and siege on Gaza? Can Israelis ever accept Palestinians as part of that conversation?

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man argues with an Israeli police officer during a demonstration against businesses that operate on Saturdays in Jerusalem, August 12, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man argues with an Israeli police officer during a demonstration against businesses that operate on Saturdays in Jerusalem, August 12, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The plight, let alone the very existence of millions of disenfranchised people living under Israeli military rule, was nowhere to be found at the ADLs first-ever Summit on Social Cohesion in Israel Tuesday.

Actually, thats not entirely correct.

[tmwinpost]

We are no longer the occupiers, we have become the occupied, former Defense Minister and erstwhile Labor Party leader...

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