Tag: India

NEWS ANALYSIS: 1 year and 700 lives lost, but the Indian protestors have succeeded in repealing anti-farming laws

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By Surinder S. Jodhya*

Days short of the first anniversary of the farmers’ protests, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a televised address the government had decided to repeal the three new farm laws. The prime minister also said a committee would be formed to address the farmers concerns. The committee would be made up of farmers’ representatives and agriculture policy experts.

The announcement was made on the day of an important Sikh festival that marks the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first of the ten Sikh gurus. Farm leaders welcomed the move, but said the protests won’t end immediately. They say they will wait until the laws are formally repealed in the Indian parliament, and all their demands are met.

Remind me again, what were the farmers protesting?

Farmers in India have been protesting three new laws they fear will fundamentally alter their ways of farming.

The laws, passed by the Indian parliament in September 2020, would open the agricultural sector to active commercial engagement by big corporates. Corporates could purchase, store, and even decide on what crops would be produced. Hence, farmers fear the new laws will trap them into contract farming arrangements with corporate buyers.

Once the laws were passed in September 2020, farmers across India began to protest. In November 2020, a large contingent arrived at the borders of the national capital demanding a complete withdrawal of these laws and introduction of concrete provisions for secure incomes from agriculture through a state-supported system of price security.

The protestors were not allowed to enter the city. So they sat, occupying some of the main national highways connecting the capital city to the rest of the country.

Two of these sites, at the Singhu and Tikri borders, are spread over tens of kilometres along the highway, with nearly 5,000-10,000 farmers staying at each site at any time.

They have braved the vagaries of weather, a raging COVID-19 pandemic, and a hostile bureaucratic machinery and police force.

Nearly 700 among them have died in the course of these protests. In October, four farmers were killed when a group of protestors was hit by a convoy of vehicles in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Four farmers and a local journalist were killed, and three others died in the mayhem that followed. The prime accused in the case is the son of a junior minister in the federal government.

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India’s agriculture crisis, and the genesis of farmer unrest

Two-thirds of India continues to live in rural areas. A large proportion remains dependent on agriculture, partially or solely. However, household incomes from agriculture have been steadily declining.

The average size of land holdings have been shrinking over the years, with nearly 80% of them now less than two hectares. This growing stress has been visible in the form of steadily rising cases of farmers’ suicides, mostly because of their growing indebtedness.

The farmers’ desperation manifested itself in an unprecedented set of mobilisations, as we’ve witnessed in the last year.

How a hostile government was brought to its knees

The federal government had been largely hostile towards the protestors. But despite this, the protests have had significant political impact, especially in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

In Punjab, it’s now almost impossible for politicians of the federal-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to step out of their homes to address political meetings or organise events. In Haryana, too, though the BJP is also in power at the state level, the situation is similar.

The chief minister of the state has been compelled to call off public meetings because protesting farmers won’t allow his helicopter to land at the site of the meeting.

The federal government had perhaps expected that the farmers would run out of steam. Since January 2021, farmers had had no formal negotiations with the government. But the movement had been gaining momentum. Besides the sit-ins, they have been holding protest meetings, maha-panchayats, across the country, attracting massive support.

They have been particularly effective in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, as well as others.

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Two of these are politically significant states – Uttar Pradesh and Punjab – that are set to go to the polls early next year. Given the damage these protests could have on the ruling party in the forthcoming elections the federal government appears to have decided to repeal the laws.

The farmers’ determination has been rewarded. Besides putting agriculture back on the national agenda, showing their strength as a political block, they have also managed to build new solidarities across castes and communities.

For the first time, women’s participation in agriculture, and in protest movements has been acknowledged.

This has perhaps been the longest protest movement of its kind in the recent history of India, perhaps, even globally. The protests, and its outcome, have become a source of inspiration for a wide range of political actors that wish to see democracy survive and thrive in India.

Their perseverance and grit has shown it is possible to mobilise and sustain political opposition against a powerful establishment.

*Prof. of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Source- The Conversation, 20 November 2021. (Under Creative Commons Licence)

Australia to establish a new Consulate General in Bengaluru

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 17 November 2021: Australia has decided to establish a new Consulate General in Bengaluru. The decision was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a message to the Bengaluru Tech Summit today. “Australia’s new mission in Bengaluru would expand our diplomatic presence in India to five posts, the PM said.

“Australia will deepen our ties to India’s innovators, to your technologists and entrepreneurs — as well as India’s governments at all levels. It is appropriate that today as you gather for this Tech Summit in India, that we’re kicking off the first-ever Sydney Dialogue in Australia.

This is a global summit on emerging, critical and cyber technologies — and I’m delighted to be announcing Australia’s first-ever Blueprint for Critical Technologies at that event. This signals Australia’s firm commitment to shaping the development and adoption of critical technologies internationally, including by working with trusted partners like India, PM Scott Morrison said.

The PM said, “We’re sharing expertise on cyber and critical technologies like quantum computing and AI. We’re working to make our supply chains more secure and resilient.

We’re collaborating on the mining and processing of critical minerals — like cobalt and lithium and rare earth elements — that are vital to clean energy technologies, and have military applications.

We’re also cooperating on space science, technology, and research — and Australia is proud to be supporting India’s inspirational Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission. We’re deepening our education and research links also — vital to technological cooperation.”

“I’m pleased a new Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy will contribute to that effort. The Centre will bring together Australian and Indian technologists, policy practitioners, academics, researchers and thought leaders.

Helping our nations shape technology governance so it aligns with our values and supports an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. The Centre will also promote investment opportunities and innovation between Australia and India in technology, and amplify our policy influence globally, ” he said.

Anecdotes from the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa

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From Harish Sharma in Goa, India

I have had the pleasure of attending the International Film Festival of India, which is held in Goa annually, as a journalist and a documentary film producer. I have also enjoyed the prestigious festival as part of the promotional team for several films.

This festival has an impeccable appeal; you can’t help coming back every year if you attend once. Every element is exceptional, from the international films screened at INOX and Kala Bhavan to the NFDC Film Bazaar held at the J.W Marriott Hotel.

The two main programs welcome filmmakers and artists from around the globe whose presence and insights are invaluable additions to the festival. However, why is it that the same roster of artists and journalists is invited over and over again? Why aren’t newer faces invited to the NFDC?

But after experiencing the festival firsthand, I realized that inviting new and various artists every year is not an easy task. It comes down to their availability. However, some of them aren’t even active and still partake in a lovely little Goan holiday with family when it comes to journalists.

I hope the government has taken steps to remedy this. After a long break, I am attending this year and hope to see upgrades and changes thus undertaken by the government.

The primary difference between IFFI and NFDC comes down to access. Anyone and everyone can attend IFFI. Even tourists can take day passes and attend the festival. On the other hand, getting into NFDC isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. A three-day delegate fee for NFDC costs somewhere between ₹5500-7000, while IFFI’s 8-day access costs merely ₹1180. IFFI also extends free entry for students who can avail of 4 film tickets per day through online booking.

The NFDC Film Bazaar will be held from November 20 to November 22, while IFFI will open from November 20 to November 28. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, last year’s festival was postponed to January 2021. Thus, this will be IFFI’s 52nd year.

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Media personnel can register for free after clearing some formalities. The pass allows you to watch world cinema, interact with producers, directors, and actors, spread your network with journalists old and new. The food stalls outside INOX offer mouthwatering delicacies too. You can even enjoy a pint or two of Kingfisher, provided that the booth still exists.

The hall would feature various computers for journalists to report back to their respective mediums. I am guessing laptops should have replaced desktops as technology has advanced.

My favorite spot at this festival is the craft services stall right in front of the media hall offered by Taj or some Panchtara Hotel. Catching up with journalist friends over cups of coffee is the highlight of the event for me.

I vividly recall the then chief minister of Goa had attended IFFI without any security detail. It was my first time at the festival, where I saw then Goa CM Digambar Kamat quietly dining on the table adjacent to mine. I was surprised to witness this sight. After that, I would see him at IFFI every year, and we even exchanged a few words here and there. His humble presence left me speechless.

Later, when the government was changed, I wondered whether newly elected CM Manohar Parikkar would attend the festival. Parikkar outdid his predecessor in humility and would dine with journalists at the same table. He would even pay from his pocket for our meals. His security staff would be stationed at the main gate while he happily mingled with the attendees inside. He was responsible for many positive changes in the annual film festival.

It remains to be seen if the present chief minister Pramod Sawant will extend the same courtesy to media persons like his forerunners.

Pakistan triumph over old rivals India in Dubai

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Photo-ICC Media Zone

By ICC Media Zone

Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, and Mohammad Rizwan propelled Pakistan to a famous 10-wicket victory as they toppled old rivals India for the first time ever at an ICC World Cup event in Dubai.

The blockbuster Group 2 clash marked the two sides’ first T20 meeting since the 2016 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and set a competitive target of 152 to win, Babar’s side cruised to a history-making triumph under the lights.

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Pakistan Captain Babar Azam and Indian Captain Virat Kohli at the match. Photos- ANI

Afridi starred with the ball as his spell of three for 31 – bolstered by Hasan Ali’s two for 44 – decimated the Indian top order and helped restrict Virat Kohli’s team to 151 for seven.

And despite Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja all spearheading a star-studded Indian attack, Babar (68 not out) and wicketkeeper Rizwan (79 not out) delivered a run-chasing masterclass to inflict a first-ever T20 ten-wicket defeat on India.

Babar inserted the Indians after winning the toss and with the atmosphere at fever pitch by the time Afridi steamed in for the first delivery, the skilful left-arm seamer got Pakistan off to a flyer.

He trapped the dangerous Rohit Sharma lbw with just the fourth ball of the match as his menacing, full and straight thunderbolt pinned the Indian opener on the crease.

That brought Kohli – and his stunning T20I average of 52.65 – to the middle but the Indian captain’s arrival did little to halt the rampant Afridi juggernaut.

The 21-year-old carried on where he left off in his second over as his sumptuous in-swinger proved too good for KL Rahul and bowled him through the gate.

The Indian top order rallied, however, with Suryakumar Yadav and Kohli pummelling two sixes in quick succession to extend a gripping opening period.

But Yadav soon followed Sharma and Rahul back to the pavilion as a fine diving catch by Rizwan – off the bowling of Hasan – had the Indians reeling at 31 for three.

Rishabh Pant led the Indian recovery as his enterprising innings of 39 – including two extraordinary one-handed sixes – helped steer Ravi Shastri’s side towards a defendable-looking total.

But with the left-hander motoring in the 13th over – and Kohli on a run-a-ball 29 at the other end – he succumbed to the leg spin of Shadab Khan as the Pakistan all-rounder held on to a steepler off his own bowling.

Kohli continued to keep things ticking with an intelligent middle-over innings as a steady stream of boundaries, coupled with some masterful manoeuvring, maintained India’s momentum and brought up his perfectly-judged 50.

But Pakistan then regained the initiative as Jadeja (13) was caught in the deep off Hasan and Kohli, who made 57 off 49 balls, was finally dismissed by the returning left-arm pace of Afridi.

And Hardik Pandya – hailed by Kohli for his finishing abilities before the match – soon followed his skipper in departing as he was caught by Babar off the bowling of Haris Rauf to leave India on 151 for seven at the interval.

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India’s Hardik Pandya bats during the match. Photo-ANI

Rizwan wasted no time kickstarting the Pakistan reply as he swatted Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a four and six in the very first over.

And with captain Babar’s cover drive functioning in typically-fluent – and aesthetically-pleasing – fashion at the other end, the 2009 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup champions had soon laid the foundations for a crack at India’s total in the blink of an eye.

With Pakistan on 43 for nought at the end of the powerplay, Kohli introduced the left-arm spin of Jadeja to initiate what felt like a crucial spell in the dynamic of the contest.

But Rizwan and Babar continued to masterfully navigate their way through the chase, with the skipper clubbing Jadeja for a monstrous six off the back foot before Rizwan survived a run-out opportunity at the non-striker’s end.

India continued to search for a breakthrough but Babar and Rizwan repelled all Kohli threw at them to leave 17 more runs required from the final three overs.

And they finished the job in style, with Rizwan launching Shami for two fours and a six to fire his side to victory and cap a historic day for Pakistani cricket at the Dubai International Stadium.

Scores in Brief

Pakistan beat India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, by 10 wickets
India 151/7 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 57, Rishabh Pant 39; Shaheen Afridi 3/31, Hasan Ali 2/44)
Pakistan 152/0 in 17.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 79 not out, Babar Azam 68 not out; Ravindra Jadeja 0/28, Jasprit Bumrah 0/22)
Player of the Match: Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)

Global Hunger Index : 15.3 % India undernourished; New Delhi says, calculating methodology unscientific

images By Harchand Ram*

 

Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”. The FOA is a specialized agency of the united nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Recently, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 released the GHI scores with the ranks for the 116 countries. The GHI scores are categorized as low, moderate, serious, alarming, and extremely alarming. The GHI scores on a 100-point scale, 0 is the best score which indicates no hunger, and 100 is the worst. The report stated that “the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on current GHI projections, the world as a whole and 47 countries, in particular, will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030”. The GHI 2021 also highlighted that food security is under attacks on multiple fronts e.g. worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges linked with the Covid-19 pandemic all lead to hunger. India ranks 101st out of 116 countries with 27.5 scores which is in the serious category. And, this score was 38.8 in the year 2000 and 28.8 in the year 2012. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores include three dimensions (and its four indicators) namely: Inadequate Food Supply (undernourishment), Child Mortality (Under-five mortality rate), and Child Undernutrition (wasting and stunting) with one-third weights each dimension. Inadequate food supply dimension: Undernourishment is associated with inadequate food supply, which is an important indicator of hunger and food insecurity. It measures among the entire population, both children and adults.

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Indian Govt. calls GHI India ranking as ‘shocking’

India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development in a statement on 15 Oct 2021 says: “It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report. The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population. The report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the covid period, verifiable data on which are available. The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the Government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries.

READ INDIA’s FULL STATEMENT HERE.

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This indicator is also used as a lead indicator for international hunger targets, including the SDGs. The index shows that 15.3% of the population in India is undernourished. And, globally the prevalence of undernourishment is increasing. Child mortality dimension: Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable. Child mortality is measured as the proportion of children dying before the age of five (in %). In India, 3.4 % of children die before their fifth birthday. The under-five mortality rate indicator has improved slightly from the year 2000 (9.5%) and year 2012 (5.2%). But the WHO study shows that reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services are critical for the beneficial, and breakdown of such services predicted to increase the child mortality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Child nutrition dimension: Child’s nutrition status measured from the wasting and stunting. The GHI 2021 also mentions that 17.3 % of children under five are wasted and 34.7 % of children under five are stunted. The stunting indicator refers to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from stunting which is low height-for-age. The wasting indicators refer to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from wasting which is low weight-for-height. The GHI 2021 stated that factors such as poverty, inequality, unsustainable food system, inadequate safety nets, lack of investment in agriculture and rural development, and poor governance leads to stalling and even being reversed the progress in the fight against hunger. Also, the hunger situation is playing out in the world as a whole, in global regions, and individual countries. — *Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi Source- counterview.net, October 16, 2021.