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Education of over 70 percent of youth disrupted by Covid-19: ILO

Most of the affected youth have been unable to transition to online learning successfully

14 Aug 2020

education

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has discovered that 73 per cent of youth who study or combine study with work have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities and training centres. According to an analysis published in a recently released ILO Report titled Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being, 65 per cent of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of the pandemic because of the transition from classroom to online and distance learning during lockdown.

The report says, “Despite their efforts to continue studying and training, 51 percent believed their studies would be delayed and nine per cent thought that they might fail. The divide is even more shocking when we take into account the varying degrees of privileges enjoyed by youth in countries from the developed and developing world.”

The Global Survey aimed to capture the immediate effects of the pandemic on the lives of young people (aged 18–29) with regards to employment, education, mental well-being, rights and social activism. The survey covered 12,000 youth from 112 countries, with a large proportion of responses coming from educated youth and those with Internet access.

According to the report, while 65 per cent of youth in high-income countries were taught classes via video-lectures only 18 per cent in low-income countries were able to keep studying online. This highlights the ‘digital divide’.

In another important finding, the report has discovered, “Severe disruption to learning and working, compounded by the health crisis, has seen a deterioration in young people’s mental well-being. The study finds that 17 per cent of young people are probably affected by anxiety and depression. Mental well-being is lowest for young women and younger youth between the ages of 18 and 24.” This underscores the interlinkages that exist between mental well-being, educational success and labour market integration.

“The pandemic is inflicting multiple shocks on young people. It is not only destroying their jobs and employment prospects, but also disrupting their education and training and having a serious impact on their mental well-being. We cannot let this happen,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

The entire report may be read here: 

 

Education of over 70 percent of youth disrupted by Covid-19: ILO

Most of the affected youth have been unable to transition to online learning successfully

education

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has discovered that 73 per cent of youth who study or combine study with work have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities and training centres. According to an analysis published in a recently released ILO Report titled Youth and COVID-19: impacts on jobs, education, rights and mental well-being, 65 per cent of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of the pandemic because of the transition from classroom to online and distance learning during lockdown.

The report says, “Despite their efforts to continue studying and training, 51 percent believed their studies would be delayed and nine per cent thought that they might fail. The divide is even more shocking when we take into account the varying degrees of privileges enjoyed by youth in countries from the developed and developing world.”

The Global Survey aimed to capture the immediate effects of the pandemic on the lives of young people (aged 18–29) with regards to employment, education, mental well-being, rights and social activism. The survey covered 12,000 youth from 112 countries, with a large proportion of responses coming from educated youth and those with Internet access.

According to the report, while 65 per cent of youth in high-income countries were taught classes via video-lectures only 18 per cent in low-income countries were able to keep studying online. This highlights the ‘digital divide’.

In another important finding, the report has discovered, “Severe disruption to learning and working, compounded by the health crisis, has seen a deterioration in young people’s mental well-being. The study finds that 17 per cent of young people are probably affected by anxiety and depression. Mental well-being is lowest for young women and younger youth between the ages of 18 and 24.” This underscores the interlinkages that exist between mental well-being, educational success and labour market integration.

“The pandemic is inflicting multiple shocks on young people. It is not only destroying their jobs and employment prospects, but also disrupting their education and training and having a serious impact on their mental well-being. We cannot let this happen,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

The entire report may be read here: 

 

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Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra confused over multiple government orders on Gram Sabhas

The 3 different orders issued by the state government have left Panchayats confused on whether to convene the Gram Sabha on August 15 as is the practice every year

12 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:lokmat.com

With just a few days left for August 15, India’s Independence Day, the Gram Sabhas in Maharashtra are in a state of confusion. This confusion has been created by some mixed instructions coming from the state government on the convening of the Gram Sabha meeting on Independence Day as is the practice in accordance with law. As per section 7 of the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1959, Gram Panchayats are required to hold at least four Gram sabhas in every financial year. One of these meetings is held on August 15 every year. Failure to convene these meetings invites disciplinary action against the Sarpanch or Upa-Sarpanch as the case may be and the decision of the Collector in this regard is final.

There are three decisions from the government which have created this confusion. An order dated May 12 states, “Gram Sabhas have been postponed due to the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Government Resolution of August 5 instructs, “prepare necessary labour budget for Employment Guarantee Scheme and discuss in the Gram Sabha on August 15 and get approval for the same”. The subsequent government order dated August 6 states, “As the women’s meeting of August 15 has been cancelled, Gram Panchayats should solve the problems of women by using digital technology like phone, Whatsapp, email”.

The August 6 order addresses subsection 5 of section 7 of the Act which states that meeting of women members of Gram Sabha shall be held before every regular meeting of the Gram Sabha.

A marathi daily Dainik Divya Marathi has reported that the confusion has arisen because Gram Sabhas have been put on hold since May 12 in order to maintain physical distancing in villages but the August 5 order directs that labour budget should be discussed during the August 15 Gram Sabha while subsequently mentioning that the women’s meeting shall not be held physically but their concerns may be addressed over Whatsapp or email. Hence, Gram Panchayats are unable to take a definite call on whether or not to convene the August 15 Sabha (meeting).

Some important matters are considered and decided during the August 15 Gram Sabha and hence it holds significance in rural Maharashtra. Tasks such as approving the annual action plan of the development works in the village, passing resolution for inclusion of development plan in District Planning Scheme, selection of beneficiaries, recommending names of beneficiaries of the village for various schemes are undertaken during the August 15 Gram Sabha.

Related:

Gram Sabha Resolution to aid defence of forest rights
Second Sarpanch shot dead in J&K in 48 hours; fourth such attack in two months
Sarpanch shot at, grenade lobbed at cops in J&K; officials deny violence!

Gram Panchayats in Maharashtra confused over multiple government orders on Gram Sabhas

The 3 different orders issued by the state government have left Panchayats confused on whether to convene the Gram Sabha on August 15 as is the practice every year

Image Courtesy:lokmat.com

With just a few days left for August 15, India’s Independence Day, the Gram Sabhas in Maharashtra are in a state of confusion. This confusion has been created by some mixed instructions coming from the state government on the convening of the Gram Sabha meeting on Independence Day as is the practice in accordance with law. As per section 7 of the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act, 1959, Gram Panchayats are required to hold at least four Gram sabhas in every financial year. One of these meetings is held on August 15 every year. Failure to convene these meetings invites disciplinary action against the Sarpanch or Upa-Sarpanch as the case may be and the decision of the Collector in this regard is final.

There are three decisions from the government which have created this confusion. An order dated May 12 states, “Gram Sabhas have been postponed due to the emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Government Resolution of August 5 instructs, “prepare necessary labour budget for Employment Guarantee Scheme and discuss in the Gram Sabha on August 15 and get approval for the same”. The subsequent government order dated August 6 states, “As the women’s meeting of August 15 has been cancelled, Gram Panchayats should solve the problems of women by using digital technology like phone, Whatsapp, email”.

The August 6 order addresses subsection 5 of section 7 of the Act which states that meeting of women members of Gram Sabha shall be held before every regular meeting of the Gram Sabha.

A marathi daily Dainik Divya Marathi has reported that the confusion has arisen because Gram Sabhas have been put on hold since May 12 in order to maintain physical distancing in villages but the August 5 order directs that labour budget should be discussed during the August 15 Gram Sabha while subsequently mentioning that the women’s meeting shall not be held physically but their concerns may be addressed over Whatsapp or email. Hence, Gram Panchayats are unable to take a definite call on whether or not to convene the August 15 Sabha (meeting).

Some important matters are considered and decided during the August 15 Gram Sabha and hence it holds significance in rural Maharashtra. Tasks such as approving the annual action plan of the development works in the village, passing resolution for inclusion of development plan in District Planning Scheme, selection of beneficiaries, recommending names of beneficiaries of the village for various schemes are undertaken during the August 15 Gram Sabha.

Related:

Gram Sabha Resolution to aid defence of forest rights
Second Sarpanch shot dead in J&K in 48 hours; fourth such attack in two months
Sarpanch shot at, grenade lobbed at cops in J&K; officials deny violence!

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Vrindavan’s ISKCON temple sealed as priests, and many others test Covid-19 positive 

With 22 new Covid-19 cases coming to light, sealing done on the eve of Janmashtami, a major festival in Uttar Pradesh 

12 Aug 2020

iskon

Janmashtami is the biggest festival celebrated at Krishna temples across the world, this time, most are said to have muted celebrations minus the crowds. However, the most affected may be the landmark The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. On the eve of the festival, the temple was sealed due to a massive spread of Coronavirus on campus. The temple was sealed on Tuesday after 22 people, including some priests, tested Covid-19 positive.

According to a report on Times Now Digital, the temple was sealed just ahead of Janmashtami celebrations due on Wednesday. The report quoted an official stating that, "The movement of people has been restricted and the temple has been sealed." According to a report in Amar Ujala, the health department officials had collected the samples of 165 people staying in the residential complex of the temple after two residents were found positive. 

So far, the news has confirmed 22 people have tested positive for Covid-19, there and it was reported that the coronavirus spread at ISKCON  was probably caused when people returned to Vrindavan from West Bengal. They had gone there to attend the funeral ceremonies of Bhakti Charu Swami, the ISKCON leader, who died of Covid-19 in Florida (USA) July 4. The Times Now report states that it “is being claimed that a number of people from ISKCON Vrindavan had gone to West Bengal to pay their last respects. They returned to Uttar Pradesh just 10-15 days back.” 

The first two Covid-19 positive patients at ISKCON, were among those 10-15 people who had gone to West Bengal. Now a total of 22 have contracted Covid-19. It is not yet publicly known how many people visited the temple, and may have come in contact with the infected priests and others, before it was sealed. 

According to iskconnews.org, Mamata Bannerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal “arranged the smooth return” of Bhakti Charu Swami's body to Mayapur from the USA.

The news post published on July 17,  details of how the West Bengal government “facilitated the final journey of the vapu (body of ISKCON-guru Bhakti Charu Swami, who passed away on July 4th in Florida, back to Mayapur.” According to ISKCON the CM “arranged a pilot car, and all the police stations from the Kolkata airport to Mayapur were alerted” before the plane landed. It adds when the body was being taken “from the airport to Mayapur, a VIP corridor was formed, and the traffic was stopped in stretches, so that Maharaja’s vapu could reach Mayapur without a delay.”

The CM tweeted about the passing of the ISKCON leader on July 5 and also sent a condolence letter to the ISKCON Kolkata temple. “On July 13, she had sent a representative all the way from Kolkata to Sridham Mayapur to garland Maharaja upon his arrival in Mayapur.”

It added that evening, devotees were also present outside the airport, where officials donned PPE suits and then transferred the body to the ambulance, which was waiting next to the plane. The samadhi ceremony was held the next morning and “followed all the safety protocols,” stated ISKCON news. It did not state how many people attended the ceremonies.

Meanwhile, another post on the site states that, since July, ISKCON New Vrindaban (INV) has been offering “summer weekend retreats and brunches that connect visitors with a spiritual path and give them a semblance of normality during the pandemic, all within a very safe environment with Covid-19 precautions in place.”

According to the post the organisers say, “We’re also lucky to have so much space, so we’re more easily able to accommodate guests at this time of social distancing.”

The news of a Covid-19 spread at a religious place comes close on the heels of a similar situation at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) in Andhra. Around 743, staff members, including priests, have tested Covid-19 positive since the temple reopened. Around 338 staff are still undergoing treatment at various Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine facilities in the city. The temple reopened in July, and recorded footfalls of around 2.38 lakh devotees who visited from across the country to worship at the temple in that month itself. 

Thankfully, just like in the news coverage from Tirupati, the media has refrained from calling ISKCON Vrindavan a  Covid-19 ‘hotspot’. The famed Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra too was held on schedule this year at Odisha. However, no lessons seem to have been learnt about the lack of social distancing at religious places in India. 

 

 

 

Related:

Is Tirumala Tirupati still a Covid-19 hotspot?

Kanwar Yatra cancelled, but will devotees stay home?

Will the Jagannath Rath Yatra be held this year?

820 ASI monuments including of places of worship set to reopen today

 

Vrindavan’s ISKCON temple sealed as priests, and many others test Covid-19 positive 

With 22 new Covid-19 cases coming to light, sealing done on the eve of Janmashtami, a major festival in Uttar Pradesh 

iskon

Janmashtami is the biggest festival celebrated at Krishna temples across the world, this time, most are said to have muted celebrations minus the crowds. However, the most affected may be the landmark The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. On the eve of the festival, the temple was sealed due to a massive spread of Coronavirus on campus. The temple was sealed on Tuesday after 22 people, including some priests, tested Covid-19 positive.

According to a report on Times Now Digital, the temple was sealed just ahead of Janmashtami celebrations due on Wednesday. The report quoted an official stating that, "The movement of people has been restricted and the temple has been sealed." According to a report in Amar Ujala, the health department officials had collected the samples of 165 people staying in the residential complex of the temple after two residents were found positive. 

So far, the news has confirmed 22 people have tested positive for Covid-19, there and it was reported that the coronavirus spread at ISKCON  was probably caused when people returned to Vrindavan from West Bengal. They had gone there to attend the funeral ceremonies of Bhakti Charu Swami, the ISKCON leader, who died of Covid-19 in Florida (USA) July 4. The Times Now report states that it “is being claimed that a number of people from ISKCON Vrindavan had gone to West Bengal to pay their last respects. They returned to Uttar Pradesh just 10-15 days back.” 

The first two Covid-19 positive patients at ISKCON, were among those 10-15 people who had gone to West Bengal. Now a total of 22 have contracted Covid-19. It is not yet publicly known how many people visited the temple, and may have come in contact with the infected priests and others, before it was sealed. 

According to iskconnews.org, Mamata Bannerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal “arranged the smooth return” of Bhakti Charu Swami's body to Mayapur from the USA.

The news post published on July 17,  details of how the West Bengal government “facilitated the final journey of the vapu (body of ISKCON-guru Bhakti Charu Swami, who passed away on July 4th in Florida, back to Mayapur.” According to ISKCON the CM “arranged a pilot car, and all the police stations from the Kolkata airport to Mayapur were alerted” before the plane landed. It adds when the body was being taken “from the airport to Mayapur, a VIP corridor was formed, and the traffic was stopped in stretches, so that Maharaja’s vapu could reach Mayapur without a delay.”

The CM tweeted about the passing of the ISKCON leader on July 5 and also sent a condolence letter to the ISKCON Kolkata temple. “On July 13, she had sent a representative all the way from Kolkata to Sridham Mayapur to garland Maharaja upon his arrival in Mayapur.”

It added that evening, devotees were also present outside the airport, where officials donned PPE suits and then transferred the body to the ambulance, which was waiting next to the plane. The samadhi ceremony was held the next morning and “followed all the safety protocols,” stated ISKCON news. It did not state how many people attended the ceremonies.

Meanwhile, another post on the site states that, since July, ISKCON New Vrindaban (INV) has been offering “summer weekend retreats and brunches that connect visitors with a spiritual path and give them a semblance of normality during the pandemic, all within a very safe environment with Covid-19 precautions in place.”

According to the post the organisers say, “We’re also lucky to have so much space, so we’re more easily able to accommodate guests at this time of social distancing.”

The news of a Covid-19 spread at a religious place comes close on the heels of a similar situation at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) in Andhra. Around 743, staff members, including priests, have tested Covid-19 positive since the temple reopened. Around 338 staff are still undergoing treatment at various Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine facilities in the city. The temple reopened in July, and recorded footfalls of around 2.38 lakh devotees who visited from across the country to worship at the temple in that month itself. 

Thankfully, just like in the news coverage from Tirupati, the media has refrained from calling ISKCON Vrindavan a  Covid-19 ‘hotspot’. The famed Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra too was held on schedule this year at Odisha. However, no lessons seem to have been learnt about the lack of social distancing at religious places in India. 

 

 

 

Related:

Is Tirumala Tirupati still a Covid-19 hotspot?

Kanwar Yatra cancelled, but will devotees stay home?

Will the Jagannath Rath Yatra be held this year?

820 ASI monuments including of places of worship set to reopen today

 

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Is Tirumala Tirupati still a Covid-19 hotspot?

Media reported a Covid-19 ‘scare’ in Tirupati, after 743 Tirumala temple staff test positive since July reopening

10 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:firstpost.com

Around 743, staff members, including priests of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) have tested Covid-19 positive since the temple reopened, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE). Out of this, around 402 staffers are said to have recovered and resumed duties, while the remaining 338 staff are undergoing treatment at various Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine facilities in the city.

The temple reopened in July, and recorded footfalls of around 2.38 lakh devotees who visited from across the country to worship at the temple in that month itself. However, even as at least 743 employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams tested Covid-19 positive, there was hardly a news media frenzy, and the matter did not make the nightly TV discourse.

Thankfully, the media did not call it a ‘hotspot’ or blame the visitors and the priest, or even the temple management for this massive spread of the infection. Those infected, including some priests of the Lord Venkateswara shrine, reported TNIE. The temple has had a surge of devotees following the relaxation in coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state.

It is an interesting contrast to the way the media, politicians, police, governments had reaction when  news reports of Covid-19 cases emerged after the March 10 event at the Markaz Nizamuddin mosque in Delhi. News portals ran special bulletins, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also shared special lists of those testing positive after visiting the meeting, a police case was registered and what followed is a part of the city’s communal history. That event was held, 14 days before the unplanned nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24. Some cases related to the Jamaat event are still sub-judice. However the Communal forces used the Covid-19 hotspot to fuell hate and target minorities across the country.

The Supreme Court, on May 27, had asked the Centre to submit a response in three combined petitions which seek strict action against the media for communalisation of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi. CJI Bobde, stated, “Don’t let people instigate law and order issues, there are the things that later become law and order issues,” while addressing the Centre and seeking a response from it.

The petition filed by Jamiat-ulema-I-Hind stated that the “unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat was being used to demonise and blame the entire Muslim community”, it also pointed towards the dangerously communal terms coined and used by the news media as well as social media such as ‘corona jihad’, ‘corona terrorism’, ‘islamic Insurrection’, ‘corona bombs’.

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had also called out the blatant communalisation of the pandemic. CJP has sent written complaints to news channels like India TV and India Today which had made false claims relating to Tablighi Jamaat and its connection with Covid-19 as well as for sensationalizing and communalising news reportage of the pandemic. At that time,  TV news media indulged in creating “anti-Muslim narratives that viewers develop animosity towards their fellow members of society and even people who have lived in harmony, start discriminating against families belonging to Muslim communities.”

Interestingly, in July, when the temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district was under a complete Covid-19 lockdown, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams had continued to allow pilgrims to go up the Tirumala hills to have see the and pray to Lord Venkateshwara. According to a report in The Hindustan Times, District collector Bharat Gupta said reporters that the “entire temple town of Tirupati had been declared as a containment zone for Covid-19 and a complete lockdown would be in force from Tuesday till August 5.”

This, he said, was done “in the wake of the intensity of Covid-19 in Tirupati,” where all 50 wards under Tirupati municipal corporation were affected, and some wards reported “more than 40 positive cases for Covid-19.” It was also reported that three staffers had died due to Covid-19 also.

The TNIE reported that the TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal, has said that, “Only three employees succumbed to the virus and we are giving best possible arrangements and treatment to all our employees in the COVID centres,'' adding that devotees have “expressed immense satisfaction over the arrangements of darshan, accommodation, Kalyana Katta, laddu, annaprasadam” and other facilities at by TTD. According to Singhal, “cases have not increased in Tirupati alone, but the entire state as well the country is facing a similar problem.” 

"On August 8, about 8500-odd pilgrims had darshan against the quota of 9000 tickets”, he added. Media reports state that in July, it had been suggested that the 'darshan'  be discontinued in the interest of public health. However, that month around 2.38 lakh devotees from across the country worshipped at the temple in July. It had reopened to pilgrims on June 8 and initially allowed 6,000 visitors per day, with Covid-19 protocol in place. However the number soon increased.

Most of this information came to light at a media interaction during the `Dial Your TTD EO' program that was widely covered by journalists, and media porters covering South India. According to a report in Hans India, the TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal “made it clear that the management will not hesitate to take action on any employee found indulging in other religious propagation or practicing it.” 

The  government of Andhra Pradesh has also recently extended his  deputation as TTD executive officer until further orders. This reports Hans India, is his second extension under the current government as executive officer of TTD, the biggest Hindu religious institution administering Tirumala Sri Venkateswara temple. Singhal was appointed as TTD EO in 2017 during the TDP regime and got extension after the completion of the two year deputation period in 2019 after YSRCP came to power. 

The TTD had recorded an income of Rs 20.66 crore through Hundi offerings in July, cash offering of Rs 16.69 crore made by visitors and online offering of  Rs 3.92 crore.


Related:

Kanwar Yatra cancelled, but will devotees stay home?
Setting an example: Muslim devotee donates sprayer for Tirupati temple
Will the Jagannath Rath Yatra be held this year?
820 ASI monuments including of places of worship set to reopen today
Foreign attendees of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz pay small fine, may go home soon
Don’t let people instigate law and order issues: SC on communalisation of Covid-19
Tablighi Jamaat members still under the scanner

 

Is Tirumala Tirupati still a Covid-19 hotspot?

Media reported a Covid-19 ‘scare’ in Tirupati, after 743 Tirumala temple staff test positive since July reopening

Image Courtesy:firstpost.com

Around 743, staff members, including priests of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) have tested Covid-19 positive since the temple reopened, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE). Out of this, around 402 staffers are said to have recovered and resumed duties, while the remaining 338 staff are undergoing treatment at various Covid-19 hospitals and quarantine facilities in the city.

The temple reopened in July, and recorded footfalls of around 2.38 lakh devotees who visited from across the country to worship at the temple in that month itself. However, even as at least 743 employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams tested Covid-19 positive, there was hardly a news media frenzy, and the matter did not make the nightly TV discourse.

Thankfully, the media did not call it a ‘hotspot’ or blame the visitors and the priest, or even the temple management for this massive spread of the infection. Those infected, including some priests of the Lord Venkateswara shrine, reported TNIE. The temple has had a surge of devotees following the relaxation in coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state.

It is an interesting contrast to the way the media, politicians, police, governments had reaction when  news reports of Covid-19 cases emerged after the March 10 event at the Markaz Nizamuddin mosque in Delhi. News portals ran special bulletins, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also shared special lists of those testing positive after visiting the meeting, a police case was registered and what followed is a part of the city’s communal history. That event was held, 14 days before the unplanned nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24. Some cases related to the Jamaat event are still sub-judice. However the Communal forces used the Covid-19 hotspot to fuell hate and target minorities across the country.

The Supreme Court, on May 27, had asked the Centre to submit a response in three combined petitions which seek strict action against the media for communalisation of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi. CJI Bobde, stated, “Don’t let people instigate law and order issues, there are the things that later become law and order issues,” while addressing the Centre and seeking a response from it.

The petition filed by Jamiat-ulema-I-Hind stated that the “unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat was being used to demonise and blame the entire Muslim community”, it also pointed towards the dangerously communal terms coined and used by the news media as well as social media such as ‘corona jihad’, ‘corona terrorism’, ‘islamic Insurrection’, ‘corona bombs’.

Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had also called out the blatant communalisation of the pandemic. CJP has sent written complaints to news channels like India TV and India Today which had made false claims relating to Tablighi Jamaat and its connection with Covid-19 as well as for sensationalizing and communalising news reportage of the pandemic. At that time,  TV news media indulged in creating “anti-Muslim narratives that viewers develop animosity towards their fellow members of society and even people who have lived in harmony, start discriminating against families belonging to Muslim communities.”

Interestingly, in July, when the temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district was under a complete Covid-19 lockdown, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams had continued to allow pilgrims to go up the Tirumala hills to have see the and pray to Lord Venkateshwara. According to a report in The Hindustan Times, District collector Bharat Gupta said reporters that the “entire temple town of Tirupati had been declared as a containment zone for Covid-19 and a complete lockdown would be in force from Tuesday till August 5.”

This, he said, was done “in the wake of the intensity of Covid-19 in Tirupati,” where all 50 wards under Tirupati municipal corporation were affected, and some wards reported “more than 40 positive cases for Covid-19.” It was also reported that three staffers had died due to Covid-19 also.

The TNIE reported that the TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal, has said that, “Only three employees succumbed to the virus and we are giving best possible arrangements and treatment to all our employees in the COVID centres,'' adding that devotees have “expressed immense satisfaction over the arrangements of darshan, accommodation, Kalyana Katta, laddu, annaprasadam” and other facilities at by TTD. According to Singhal, “cases have not increased in Tirupati alone, but the entire state as well the country is facing a similar problem.” 

"On August 8, about 8500-odd pilgrims had darshan against the quota of 9000 tickets”, he added. Media reports state that in July, it had been suggested that the 'darshan'  be discontinued in the interest of public health. However, that month around 2.38 lakh devotees from across the country worshipped at the temple in July. It had reopened to pilgrims on June 8 and initially allowed 6,000 visitors per day, with Covid-19 protocol in place. However the number soon increased.

Most of this information came to light at a media interaction during the `Dial Your TTD EO' program that was widely covered by journalists, and media porters covering South India. According to a report in Hans India, the TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal “made it clear that the management will not hesitate to take action on any employee found indulging in other religious propagation or practicing it.” 

The  government of Andhra Pradesh has also recently extended his  deputation as TTD executive officer until further orders. This reports Hans India, is his second extension under the current government as executive officer of TTD, the biggest Hindu religious institution administering Tirumala Sri Venkateswara temple. Singhal was appointed as TTD EO in 2017 during the TDP regime and got extension after the completion of the two year deputation period in 2019 after YSRCP came to power. 

The TTD had recorded an income of Rs 20.66 crore through Hundi offerings in July, cash offering of Rs 16.69 crore made by visitors and online offering of  Rs 3.92 crore.


Related:

Kanwar Yatra cancelled, but will devotees stay home?
Setting an example: Muslim devotee donates sprayer for Tirupati temple
Will the Jagannath Rath Yatra be held this year?
820 ASI monuments including of places of worship set to reopen today
Foreign attendees of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz pay small fine, may go home soon
Don’t let people instigate law and order issues: SC on communalisation of Covid-19
Tablighi Jamaat members still under the scanner

 

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Our families will die of hunger or commit suicide: Auto Drivers of Bengal

Sabrangindia 10 Aug 2020

Autorickshaw drivers in Bengal are facing major crises amid the covid-19 lockdown. Caught between the struggle of fare hike and reduced number of passengers per ride, they are also facing the risk of scaring away potential passengers and a major reduction of daily income. In such a situation, some auto drivers don’t know the way forward. Watch this SabrangIndia exclusive video where auto rickshaw drivers of Bengal share their experiences.

Our families will die of hunger or commit suicide: Auto Drivers of Bengal

Autorickshaw drivers in Bengal are facing major crises amid the covid-19 lockdown. Caught between the struggle of fare hike and reduced number of passengers per ride, they are also facing the risk of scaring away potential passengers and a major reduction of daily income. In such a situation, some auto drivers don’t know the way forward. Watch this SabrangIndia exclusive video where auto rickshaw drivers of Bengal share their experiences.

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Over 50 percent exposed to Coronavirus in Mumbai slums: Sero survey

Survey by BMC, TIFR and Niti Ayog also says that women have marginally higher immunity

08 Aug 2020

dharavi

As per a recent survey by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) the coronavirus has spread to 57 percent of people living in slum areas of Mumbai. The prevalence in non-slum areas stood at 16 percent suggesting that perhaps greater population density and shared spaces like toilets and water taps led to higher infection rates in low Income neighbourhoods.

The study also found that women had marginally higher immunity to the disease while asymptomatic carriers caused a bulk of the infections. However, in a refreshing finding, the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) was found to be low; ranging between 0.05-0.10 percent. This could be an indicator of an improvement in what is termed as ‘herd immunity’ or the immunity of the population as a whole. While the theory, on account of its comfort factor, may have become popular, medical experts don’t seem to agree.

Dr Prasun Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Department of Geriatric Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) told ANI, "This pandemic cannot be overcome by thinking that tomorrow we will have herd immunity. Herd immunity has failed in the UK. There is no point in saying that India has developed herd immunity. We have tried to contain the virus through the lockdown."

It is still worrying that out of India’s over 2 million confirmed cases, Maharashtra has over 4,80,000 confirmed cases so far, higher than the total number of cases in Mexico! India as a whole meanwhile recorded over 60,000 new cases for a second straight day. Out of these 10,483 were in Maharashtra alone.

The SARS-CoV2 Sero-prevalence study in Mumbai involved the collection of 6,936 samples out of an estimated 8,870 from the general population in three BMC wards; R-North, M-West and F-North (Dahisar, Matunga and Chembur). The study took place over a period of 12-14 days in the first half of July 2020.

The study was jointly commissioned by the Niti Ayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). It was conducted in association with the Kasturba Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), ATE Chandra Foundation and the IDFC Institute.

The report may be read here:

mumbai

In light of these findings, some of the provisions of Mission Begin Again, that lays the framework of how the Mumbai Metropolitan Region steps out of the lockdown, appear to be a bit risky. For instance, from August 5, malls and market complexes being allowed to function from 9 AM to 7 PM. While theatres and food-courts there-in will not be allowed to function and restaurants will only be permitted to operate kitchens to provide home delivery, thereby still allowing multiple footfalls of shoppers at these malls. Rules related to marriages and funerals still allow for 50 and 20 people respectively.  

Provisions of Mission Begin Again may be viewed here: 

mumbai

mumbai1

 

mumbai

mumbai

 

 

Related:

Corona warriors adorn walls of Mahim Jn

ASHA Workers on Covid-19 duty demand safety gear, healthcare, insurance

Over 50 percent exposed to Coronavirus in Mumbai slums: Sero survey

Survey by BMC, TIFR and Niti Ayog also says that women have marginally higher immunity

dharavi

As per a recent survey by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) the coronavirus has spread to 57 percent of people living in slum areas of Mumbai. The prevalence in non-slum areas stood at 16 percent suggesting that perhaps greater population density and shared spaces like toilets and water taps led to higher infection rates in low Income neighbourhoods.

The study also found that women had marginally higher immunity to the disease while asymptomatic carriers caused a bulk of the infections. However, in a refreshing finding, the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) was found to be low; ranging between 0.05-0.10 percent. This could be an indicator of an improvement in what is termed as ‘herd immunity’ or the immunity of the population as a whole. While the theory, on account of its comfort factor, may have become popular, medical experts don’t seem to agree.

Dr Prasun Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Department of Geriatric Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) told ANI, "This pandemic cannot be overcome by thinking that tomorrow we will have herd immunity. Herd immunity has failed in the UK. There is no point in saying that India has developed herd immunity. We have tried to contain the virus through the lockdown."

It is still worrying that out of India’s over 2 million confirmed cases, Maharashtra has over 4,80,000 confirmed cases so far, higher than the total number of cases in Mexico! India as a whole meanwhile recorded over 60,000 new cases for a second straight day. Out of these 10,483 were in Maharashtra alone.

The SARS-CoV2 Sero-prevalence study in Mumbai involved the collection of 6,936 samples out of an estimated 8,870 from the general population in three BMC wards; R-North, M-West and F-North (Dahisar, Matunga and Chembur). The study took place over a period of 12-14 days in the first half of July 2020.

The study was jointly commissioned by the Niti Ayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). It was conducted in association with the Kasturba Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), ATE Chandra Foundation and the IDFC Institute.

The report may be read here:

mumbai

In light of these findings, some of the provisions of Mission Begin Again, that lays the framework of how the Mumbai Metropolitan Region steps out of the lockdown, appear to be a bit risky. For instance, from August 5, malls and market complexes being allowed to function from 9 AM to 7 PM. While theatres and food-courts there-in will not be allowed to function and restaurants will only be permitted to operate kitchens to provide home delivery, thereby still allowing multiple footfalls of shoppers at these malls. Rules related to marriages and funerals still allow for 50 and 20 people respectively.  

Provisions of Mission Begin Again may be viewed here: 

mumbai

mumbai1

 

mumbai

mumbai

 

 

Related:

Corona warriors adorn walls of Mahim Jn

ASHA Workers on Covid-19 duty demand safety gear, healthcare, insurance

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Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

The 51-year-old died in the fire that broke out in the ICU of Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad on Thursday morning

07 Aug 2020

Ayesha

Ayesha Tirmizi was on the road to recovery after successfully battling the dreaded Coronavirus. She was being treated at the Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad, a dedicated Covid care facility, when fate dealt her a cruel hand. Instead of walking out of the facility after beating the virus, Ayesha perished in the fire that broke out in the facility in the early hours of Thursday. By morning, Ayesha was no more.

Ayesha was born on November 16, 1968 in Bharuch, Gujarat to Mr. Kamaluddin and Shaheda Nagamia. She was the eldest of four children and always looked after her parents and her three younger siblings; Samira who was two years younger, Kauser, who was three years younger than Ayesha and her youngest brother Aamir. Ayesha did her graduation in Arts from Mumbai's Sophia College and dedicated her life as a homemaker, taking utmost care of herself and her family. 

Most people know Ayesha Tirmizi as the wife of Gujarat High Court advocate and human rights defender Suhel Tirmizi. She leaves behind a 27-year-old son Asim who practices law in Mumbai.  

According to human rights defender and journalist Teesta Setalvad, “With Ayesha Tirmizi’s demise, we lost a beacon of light and strength for all of us activists and Survivors of the Gujarat 2002 Carnage. Life partner and beloved wife of Suhel Tirmizi, our robust guide through all legal cases, we drew our strength from her steady support.”

She adds, “Some losses just cannot be explained. After battling Covid 19 and complications caused by some comorbidities, Ayesha was bright and smiling, eager to be moved out of the ICU the next day. These deaths just should not have happened.”

About the incident

A fire broke out at Shrey Hospital at about 3:30 A.M on Thursday. The 50-bed hospital had 49 patients at that time, eight of whom were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ICU located on the fourth floor is where the fire reportedly broke out due to a short circuit, killing all eight of its patients; five men and three women by suffocation.

The others who died in the incident have been identified as Arif Mansuri (42), Lilavatiben Shah (72), Arvindbhai Bhavsar (78), Jyotiben Sindhi (55), Manubhai Rami (82), Navnit R Shah (80) and his son Narendra N Shah (61).

But what is truly shocking is that the 22-year-old hospital, that was designated a Covid care facility on May 16 this year, did not have fire clearance according to Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services Chief Fire Officer M F Dastur. According to the Indian Express, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered an inquiry headed by Additional Chief Secretaries Sangeeta Singh and Mukesh Puri, and sought a report within three days. At present hospital director, Bharat Mahant, and an unidentified ward boy have been held for interrogation.

All hospitals are quired to renew the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire department annually. Following the fire at Shreya Hospital, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ordered a fire audit at 72 Covid care facilities. 20 have been found to be lacking the NOC so far. According to Ahmedabad Mirror, six incidents of fire have been reported from public and private hospitals in Ahmedabad over the last 16 months.

 

Related:

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire 

Ayesha Tirmizi was recovering when her life was cut short

The 51-year-old died in the fire that broke out in the ICU of Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad on Thursday morning

Ayesha

Ayesha Tirmizi was on the road to recovery after successfully battling the dreaded Coronavirus. She was being treated at the Shrey Hospital in Ahmedabad, a dedicated Covid care facility, when fate dealt her a cruel hand. Instead of walking out of the facility after beating the virus, Ayesha perished in the fire that broke out in the facility in the early hours of Thursday. By morning, Ayesha was no more.

Ayesha was born on November 16, 1968 in Bharuch, Gujarat to Mr. Kamaluddin and Shaheda Nagamia. She was the eldest of four children and always looked after her parents and her three younger siblings; Samira who was two years younger, Kauser, who was three years younger than Ayesha and her youngest brother Aamir. Ayesha did her graduation in Arts from Mumbai's Sophia College and dedicated her life as a homemaker, taking utmost care of herself and her family. 

Most people know Ayesha Tirmizi as the wife of Gujarat High Court advocate and human rights defender Suhel Tirmizi. She leaves behind a 27-year-old son Asim who practices law in Mumbai.  

According to human rights defender and journalist Teesta Setalvad, “With Ayesha Tirmizi’s demise, we lost a beacon of light and strength for all of us activists and Survivors of the Gujarat 2002 Carnage. Life partner and beloved wife of Suhel Tirmizi, our robust guide through all legal cases, we drew our strength from her steady support.”

She adds, “Some losses just cannot be explained. After battling Covid 19 and complications caused by some comorbidities, Ayesha was bright and smiling, eager to be moved out of the ICU the next day. These deaths just should not have happened.”

About the incident

A fire broke out at Shrey Hospital at about 3:30 A.M on Thursday. The 50-bed hospital had 49 patients at that time, eight of whom were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ICU located on the fourth floor is where the fire reportedly broke out due to a short circuit, killing all eight of its patients; five men and three women by suffocation.

The others who died in the incident have been identified as Arif Mansuri (42), Lilavatiben Shah (72), Arvindbhai Bhavsar (78), Jyotiben Sindhi (55), Manubhai Rami (82), Navnit R Shah (80) and his son Narendra N Shah (61).

But what is truly shocking is that the 22-year-old hospital, that was designated a Covid care facility on May 16 this year, did not have fire clearance according to Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services Chief Fire Officer M F Dastur. According to the Indian Express, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has ordered an inquiry headed by Additional Chief Secretaries Sangeeta Singh and Mukesh Puri, and sought a report within three days. At present hospital director, Bharat Mahant, and an unidentified ward boy have been held for interrogation.

All hospitals are quired to renew the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire department annually. Following the fire at Shreya Hospital, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation ordered a fire audit at 72 Covid care facilities. 20 have been found to be lacking the NOC so far. According to Ahmedabad Mirror, six incidents of fire have been reported from public and private hospitals in Ahmedabad over the last 16 months.

 

Related:

8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire 

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Covid-19 in Assam: AASU demands relief package

With over 14,000 active cases the state is struggling as it faces the twin blows of the pandemic and floods

07 Aug 2020

covid19

Even as the eastern Indian state of Assam appears to be gradually recovering from floods that affected over 28 million people in 31 of its 33 districts, the coronavirus still remains a clear and present threat to its people.

At present, as per the official Assam government website dedicated to Covid-19 updates (https://covid19.assam.gov.in/) the state has 50,455 confirmed cases out of which 14,429 are active, 35,892 people have recovered, 121 people have died and 3 have migrated to other states.

The worst affected districts are:

District

Confirmed

Active

Recovered

Deceased

Kamrup Metro

16,105

4,720

11,336

46

Jorhat

2,155

576

1,569

10

Nagaon

2,175

385

1,688

2

In light of this, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has demanded that the state government put together a comprehensive relief package to not only address health concerns, but also alleviate financial distress.

Tweeting from his official handle on July 29, Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharjya, Chief Advisor, AASU, said, “The Pandemic has not only caused health adversities but also financial distress. Daily wage earners, Farmers, Vendors, local Entrepreneurs, Media Houses, Advocates, Entertainment industry, Sportspersons etc bear the brunt. Urge @mygovassam to announce financial package for those affected.”

At present, Covid-19 also poses a grave threat to the families who were evacuated from flood affected areas and are presently living in relief camps. An estimated 44,000 families are living in 276 relief camps. The state’s resources are stretched thin and Covid warriors are doubling up as flood relief providers.

However, the state government has stepped up testing in the state. On August 4, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, “In pursuit of our commitment to contain COVID 19 infections in our state, today we have completed 59,064 number of tests. By far, this is the highest number of tests we have achieved in a single day. For the next ten days, we will continue with massive testing across the state.”

On July 22, the central government had announced a Rs 346 crore flood relief package, but that only addresses one of the calamities affecting the state. Luckily, the flood situation appears to be improving with water levels in inundated areas beginning to recede.

Earlier this year as a part of a nationwide Rs 3 lakh crore package for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Assam government received Rs 933 crores that were allocated to 28,000 MSME units in the state. However, given the nature and scope of the devastation caused, the people of Assam need a dedicated Covid relief package that addresses both health and economic issues.

Related:

First Covid, now floods; NRC work still on hold in Assam

Floods wreak havoc on 31 out of 33 districts in Assam

Gauhati Central jail turns Covid-19 hotspot!

Covid-19 in Assam: AASU demands relief package

With over 14,000 active cases the state is struggling as it faces the twin blows of the pandemic and floods

covid19

Even as the eastern Indian state of Assam appears to be gradually recovering from floods that affected over 28 million people in 31 of its 33 districts, the coronavirus still remains a clear and present threat to its people.

At present, as per the official Assam government website dedicated to Covid-19 updates (https://covid19.assam.gov.in/) the state has 50,455 confirmed cases out of which 14,429 are active, 35,892 people have recovered, 121 people have died and 3 have migrated to other states.

The worst affected districts are:

District

Confirmed

Active

Recovered

Deceased

Kamrup Metro

16,105

4,720

11,336

46

Jorhat

2,155

576

1,569

10

Nagaon

2,175

385

1,688

2

In light of this, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has demanded that the state government put together a comprehensive relief package to not only address health concerns, but also alleviate financial distress.

Tweeting from his official handle on July 29, Dr. Samujjal Bhattacharjya, Chief Advisor, AASU, said, “The Pandemic has not only caused health adversities but also financial distress. Daily wage earners, Farmers, Vendors, local Entrepreneurs, Media Houses, Advocates, Entertainment industry, Sportspersons etc bear the brunt. Urge @mygovassam to announce financial package for those affected.”

At present, Covid-19 also poses a grave threat to the families who were evacuated from flood affected areas and are presently living in relief camps. An estimated 44,000 families are living in 276 relief camps. The state’s resources are stretched thin and Covid warriors are doubling up as flood relief providers.

However, the state government has stepped up testing in the state. On August 4, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, “In pursuit of our commitment to contain COVID 19 infections in our state, today we have completed 59,064 number of tests. By far, this is the highest number of tests we have achieved in a single day. For the next ten days, we will continue with massive testing across the state.”

On July 22, the central government had announced a Rs 346 crore flood relief package, but that only addresses one of the calamities affecting the state. Luckily, the flood situation appears to be improving with water levels in inundated areas beginning to recede.

Earlier this year as a part of a nationwide Rs 3 lakh crore package for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Assam government received Rs 933 crores that were allocated to 28,000 MSME units in the state. However, given the nature and scope of the devastation caused, the people of Assam need a dedicated Covid relief package that addresses both health and economic issues.

Related:

First Covid, now floods; NRC work still on hold in Assam

Floods wreak havoc on 31 out of 33 districts in Assam

Gauhati Central jail turns Covid-19 hotspot!

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Remembering Usaa: The greatest revolutionary barber after Upali

The anti-caste activist succumbed to Covid-19 recently

04 Aug 2020

Image Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Usaa Barber (Uppumavuluri Sambashivarao) (1951-2020)- a well-known social reformer, anti-caste ideologue and anti-brahminism fighter succumbed to Covid-19 on July 25, 2020.  He died because of the Indian medical system that could not reach to a stage where it could meet the challenge posed by the new coronavirus. 

After Savitribai Phule and her son Dr. Yashwantharao died of Bubonic Plague in 1898, Usaa Barber (whom I named so), as committed as Savitribai and Mahatma Phule for abolition of caste and untouchability, died of the brutal Covid-19 pandemic.

Usaa was a legend in many ways.  From his student days, he has been a staunch atheist, and used to compose songs and poems to motivate the masses. For a boy who came from a poor barber family from a village, Brahminkoduru near Tenali, which was known as centre for cunning brahminism in Andhra Pradesh this was surprisingly a bold step by a barber boy. Such a beginning of his was unexpected. A barber has to lead a slave life by going from house to house to shave the heads of those rich unproductive castes, who keep insulting them. They were supposed to behave like skilled slaves and eat the meagre food that they offer and survive.

In the 1960s, a barber going to school in that region was rarest of rare thing. Usaa was put in the school and later in the college by his elder brother. His school teacher seems to have given a date of birth - February 19, 1951.

But unusually this barber boy, instead of shaving the heads of brahmin poojaris who needed to have a clean-shaven head with a scalp like that of Mahatma Gandhi’s at the apex of the head to perform pooja, archana, and offering pure vegetarian food items to brahmanized Hindu Gods, revolted against their God itself. The poojari life and pooja was ultimately to make money to lead the life without doing any productive work either in the family or at community level. A barber had no right to enter the temple along with Dalits. Ages together, Poojaris habituated to live as parasites and justify this sort of life as holy and worthy by their so-called spiritual fascism.   

God for them is free food and a good life provider. This deception was understood by this atheist barber quite early in his life. The barbers of that area in those days were designating themselves as Nayi Brahmins to get some respect but that respect was never to be given by brahmins. They treated them as spiritual and social slaves meant to shave their body on a daily basis for priests and their women who became widows so that they lose their beauty, dignity and human life and live like a brahmin female slave within the four walls of the house.

Brahminism of Andhra was brutal. Brahmin reformers like Gurijada Apparao and Kandukuri Veereshalinam Panthulu initiated some reform for better life of their own brahmin women but a barber’s life remained unreformed and un-upgraded. Leaders, writers and thinkers were not supposed to come from that community even in the freedom movement. They were supposed to shave the leaders’ heads and give them beautiful and clean shape for their elegant public appearance. That was considered to be their contribution to nationalism, without any respect and livelihood.

If any barber aspired for the role of a leader, he would be snubbed and pushed back into his shaving job. The Indian freedom struggle was not anti-caste or struggle for change of the millennial occupational stagnation and indignity of labour. Nobody had a right to change their oppressive caste occupation. The lower caste occupations - in fact all productive occupations - were treated as undignified, unequal to the most unproductive occupation like pooja and purohityam. No brahmin god was pro-production and the Shudra productive god images were pushed into what they cunningly called the ‘little tradition’ by the brahmin intellectuals of the freedom movement. The communist intellectuals having come from the same cultural roots did not think of changing it, rather they reinforced it with loud silence.

Usaa Barber joined the radical left movement once it began. He was in jail during the emergency. Later worked in the Tribal areas to conduct an armed struggle. In plain areas he mobilised farmers and labour for irrigation and drinking water resources. He contested elections and challenged the so-called conservative communists of CPI in Nalgonda district of Telangana. He worked with me to expand the notion of human rights to starving masses, caste atrocities and women’s rights in the 1980s. He was a tireless mass lover and lived with them.  He got expelled from his party for his stand on Ambedkar and anti-casteism. 

Usaa compared and understood the civilized barbarism with brahmanised radical left and started writing and speaking against their loud-silence on caste culture in Telugu quite eloquently. All communist intellectuals were upset, angry with him.  If only he was to come out of a radical Maoist party he would have been, perhaps, attacked physically as there was a bad culture of accusing every dissenter as a police agent. But he was from moderate Tarimela Nagireddy (a Shudra Reddy) and Devulapally Venkateswar Rao (a Brahmin) group. Democratic centralism destroyed the sense of democratic dissent in the communist structures of India. That was most un-Marxist culture but well developed in those structures. Once brahminism operates as democratic centralism it uses only Vishnuchakra to resolve differences.       

Usaa was the first full-time worker rebellion in Telugu region and oppressive caste leader who, within no time, was identified as leader, writer, thinker, poet and song composer, of course, singer. Singing in the revolution was always left to Dalits/Shudras, as Gaddar and many others did all their life without having a stature of a leader.  Though they were popular among the masses, they were never given a leader’s stature.

This boy started questioning the very existence of their God in the temples. Afterwards this man challenged Brahminism in communism. This was what the first barber Upali did by joining Gauthama Buddha’s system as his close confident during 6th Century BCE. After that, in the known history, only Usaa Barber did that at a very young age. He never turned back.

He was in a haste to fight the exploitation and oppressive system, hence joined the most militant Naxalite (Moist) movement to kill the enemies as soon as possible with a barrel of gun. He mobilized the poor Dalits and Shudra (Other Backward Class) labouring masses to rebel against landlords and oppressors.  Meanwhile in 1975 the emergency came in. He was arrested and kept in Rajahmundry jail for two years.

Then he went into a deep tribal area called Kondamodulu and organised tribals to fight for their lands with bows and arrows. He was a tribal among tribals, eating everything from root to raisin and rat to rabbit. After that, he shifted to Nalgonda to organise farmers to fight for irrigational and drinking water and became a famous peasant leader. He contested from Motkuru constituency in 1984 against a Communist Party of India landlord leader and lost the election. He was not sparing anybody.         

He realised that even in the revolutionary movement brahminism was playing a key role. There was a Brahmin (pure vegetarian) leader called Devulapally Venkateswar Rao (DVR) who was claiming all theoretical authority on Marx, Lenin and Mao as if they were like Vedavyasa, who wrote Mahabharat, Kautilya, who wrote most dangerous Brahmin-State craft book- Arthashastra and Manu who wrote Manudharmashastra that was burnt by Ambedkar. 

Their’s was a culture of read and recite among their families hence they would pick up quotations from Marx, Lenin and Mao’s writings and write funny documents and ask the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi cadre to apply to them to the concrete conditions of India’s class system, as if there was no caste in India of their mind. What an understanding of concrete conditions of India.     

Usaa sensed DVR’s brahminism in the revolutionary movement. DVR was treating a much better revolutionary leader, Tarimela Nagireddy, who is a Shudra and the author of a famous economic theory book ‘India Mortgaged’ as an unworthy leader. Usaa stood by Nagireddy to finish DVR’s revolutionary Brahminism. But Nagireddy never saw brahminism in communism and died unsuccessful.

Usaa was married to a brahmin woman within the party. The DVR’s camp tried to set his wife (Padma) against him.  But he could take her with him.  She finally became a State Government officer with a Mangali (barber) caste certificate. He was the first man to successfully navigate an extreme inter-caste married life between a barber and a brahman by converting Padma into his caste and she became the bread-winner to support his full-time socio-political work and educated their only daughter Hima Bindu. Both of them lived all along with an unfriendly kitchen at home.  

The caste-blind communist brahminism did not realise a barber whose home preferred food was/is mostly meat and fish across the Telugu society and country and that was/is their pride food culture.  Padma comes from a family that could not even tolerate the smell of meat and fish. Her family, caste, even her ‘out eating’ system was always confined to pure vegetarianism as their God was believed to be a vegetarian at home and also in the brahmin society. All Shudra gods are considered to be meatarians. Usaa’s childhood food was his god’s food who he rejected even that gods too in later life and turned to Buddha.

Her food culture was not a choice based but was a caste trained food culture. Communists should have understood caste is in the blood and class is on the body. Both of them had to struggle a great deal to navigate with two opposite food and work cultures as wife and husband. Like Gandhi, DVR also thought that all Indians should become vegetarian only to die after his communism comes to go to Hindu swarga. But they managed with a great difficulty to be under one roof till their death as Padma died in 2015 in his lap. Thereafter, Usaa became a Buddhist and carried his work.  

In the process of fight against DVR’s so-called Braminic-Marxist theory, Usaa mastered Marxist-Leninst theory quite seriously. Later he developed differences with Nagireddy group leaders on understanding Mahatma Phule and Ambedkar and integrating it into caste-class revolutionary movement, in the context of Karemchedu Dalit massacre in 1985.

Though the main leaders in Telugu states were Shudras (Kammas and Reddys), their intellectual rigor was very weak and could never perceive the role of Brahminism in the communism. That was a green snake in the green grass. A barber who knows how to identify snake of any colour anywhere and kill it, he located this green snake in the green grass.  None of the leaders who hailed from Shudra upper caste background studied the history of Hinduism and Buddhism as rival schools to the Brahminism. And, none of them read what Ambedkar wrote on Indian history.

In the life of the Indian communist movement only Brahmins wrote theory who never had an agrarian or artisanal productive mind. And, they only became intellectual leaders -- a tragedy at that. This was a paradox. Dange, Ranadive, Charu Mazumdar, EVS Namboodripad, DVR, Vinod Mishra and so on became leaders and dreamt of becoming like Lenin or Mao. Hence Marxism became Vedamantra but not scientific theory that could adopt to caste cultural conditions. Usaa challenged that communist brahmin heritage. No Kamma, Reddy, Jat, Yadav, Nair, Patel, Maratha could become well-known theoretician from the communist ranks. This barber changed that hallow Shudra house into an intellectual Saloon.

No Shudra leader could acquire an intellectual and philosophical stature even from the communist school exactly on the lines that happened in the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) school. Usaa even with his limited English could perceive this. The RSS Brahmin intellectuals construct a consent system among the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi activists about the Hindu spiritual system, which is completely under the grip of Brahmins as priests, philosophers as part of necessary parampara. Productive Shudras have to live as spiritual slaves.

The communist Brahmin intellectuals never allow a serious discourse on Hindu spiritual system quite consciously as that would overthrow their hegemony in the communist structures, under the rubric that they believe in atheism not in religion. They refused to realise that no Shudra could become a priest in a temple like Tirupati or Jagannath, while being treated as Hindu. Usaa has opened this shell of silence in the communist ranks. The bogus theory of base structure and superstructure are separate guarded the Hindu brahminical system in the communist parties. Usaa told them that ‘these two structures are interdependent and you are operating on hypocritical humanism’.   

He was expelled from the Nagireddy group, few others along with me in 1986 on the same question of caste and Ambedkarism. He worked with me in human rights protection and feeding the poor people dying of draught conditions in Mahabubnagar district. In 1987, I wrote a small book ‘Annihilation of Caste - A Marxist Approach’ in Telugu he helped in that project. The communist brahmins mainly tried to make State as the agent of attack leaving the oppression that the Dalits/Tribals/Shudra faced related to caste atrocities as myth. Caste according to them was/is a myth; class was/is material reality. They decided to see only the human body not the soul.

This theory came from Bengali and Marathi brahmin intellectuals into the communist revolution exactly on the line as it came into the RSS from Maharashtra Brahmins. This barber realised that this deceptive ideological framework certainly does not allow even social reform, leave alone revolution.

The Shudra/Dalits who worked in leftist structures believed as Marxism was given divine truth, as such brahmin nationalism is God given truth in RSS. In both mainstream communist parties also Shudra/Dalits could not become intellectual leaders as they could not in RSS till today. In the CPM’s Politburo there is no single Dalit/Adivasi member even now. This is where caste disease destroyed human creativity.  

To sustain such brahmin intellectual hegemony many wings -- literary, cultural, student and so on were started in communist parties. The Brahmin youth were trained to read and write. Others were made to do the mass work, as if it was like tilling land again in the revolution, which no brahmin does. And they became poojaris of Marxism. 

Usaa became an all-rounder in this struggle.  He became a poojari of his own gods --Phule and Ambedkar, and started shavings the head of brahminism, rather clean. 

They abused him as renegade, reactionary and lackey of imperialism. Usaa said ‘my foot -- get lost’.  His tongue and pen became sharper and shaper. He travelled into the nook and corner of two Telugu states prepared youth for a leaderless #Black Lives Matter# like leaderless #Shudra/Dalit Lives Matters movement any time in future.       

Usaa Barber a college drop-out leaving after his II year B.Sc perceived this quite well. So far, no communist leader in Bengal or Kerala or Maharashtra did that. We do not even know even a single Shudra/Dalit intellectual leader from these two states even though the communists ruled them for decades.  

In literary and cultural field in Telugu states P.Varavara Rao led that strategy of Brahmin control. In organizations, a Brahmin is given the hold to control the written word.  Even if others--Shudras/Dalits/Adivasis come into that field marginalizing their written word or making it invisible has been a historical strategy.  Varavara Rao with his friends did that quite consistently. 

Since the communist movement gives more weightage to written word--the theory--they made Marx as a Brahmin in India and others could never counter it with strong autonomous strategy of written word.  Usaa hence started his own journal, a small Youtube studio in his house at the time of his sudden death. Corona took him away from his busy work. However, he made it difficult for the communists to continue their long-time caste-blind approach and continue the brahminism in future--a life that never rested till he breathed his last.  

(Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, a long-time associate of Usaa Barber, Political Theorist and Author)  

Other pieces by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd:

Disease distancing, not social distancing during Covid-19
Babu and Bhasha: The Game may end with this
Opinion: Why Hindutva philosophy never discusses poverty

Remembering Usaa: The greatest revolutionary barber after Upali

The anti-caste activist succumbed to Covid-19 recently

Image Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Usaa Barber (Uppumavuluri Sambashivarao) (1951-2020)- a well-known social reformer, anti-caste ideologue and anti-brahminism fighter succumbed to Covid-19 on July 25, 2020.  He died because of the Indian medical system that could not reach to a stage where it could meet the challenge posed by the new coronavirus. 

After Savitribai Phule and her son Dr. Yashwantharao died of Bubonic Plague in 1898, Usaa Barber (whom I named so), as committed as Savitribai and Mahatma Phule for abolition of caste and untouchability, died of the brutal Covid-19 pandemic.

Usaa was a legend in many ways.  From his student days, he has been a staunch atheist, and used to compose songs and poems to motivate the masses. For a boy who came from a poor barber family from a village, Brahminkoduru near Tenali, which was known as centre for cunning brahminism in Andhra Pradesh this was surprisingly a bold step by a barber boy. Such a beginning of his was unexpected. A barber has to lead a slave life by going from house to house to shave the heads of those rich unproductive castes, who keep insulting them. They were supposed to behave like skilled slaves and eat the meagre food that they offer and survive.

In the 1960s, a barber going to school in that region was rarest of rare thing. Usaa was put in the school and later in the college by his elder brother. His school teacher seems to have given a date of birth - February 19, 1951.

But unusually this barber boy, instead of shaving the heads of brahmin poojaris who needed to have a clean-shaven head with a scalp like that of Mahatma Gandhi’s at the apex of the head to perform pooja, archana, and offering pure vegetarian food items to brahmanized Hindu Gods, revolted against their God itself. The poojari life and pooja was ultimately to make money to lead the life without doing any productive work either in the family or at community level. A barber had no right to enter the temple along with Dalits. Ages together, Poojaris habituated to live as parasites and justify this sort of life as holy and worthy by their so-called spiritual fascism.   

God for them is free food and a good life provider. This deception was understood by this atheist barber quite early in his life. The barbers of that area in those days were designating themselves as Nayi Brahmins to get some respect but that respect was never to be given by brahmins. They treated them as spiritual and social slaves meant to shave their body on a daily basis for priests and their women who became widows so that they lose their beauty, dignity and human life and live like a brahmin female slave within the four walls of the house.

Brahminism of Andhra was brutal. Brahmin reformers like Gurijada Apparao and Kandukuri Veereshalinam Panthulu initiated some reform for better life of their own brahmin women but a barber’s life remained unreformed and un-upgraded. Leaders, writers and thinkers were not supposed to come from that community even in the freedom movement. They were supposed to shave the leaders’ heads and give them beautiful and clean shape for their elegant public appearance. That was considered to be their contribution to nationalism, without any respect and livelihood.

If any barber aspired for the role of a leader, he would be snubbed and pushed back into his shaving job. The Indian freedom struggle was not anti-caste or struggle for change of the millennial occupational stagnation and indignity of labour. Nobody had a right to change their oppressive caste occupation. The lower caste occupations - in fact all productive occupations - were treated as undignified, unequal to the most unproductive occupation like pooja and purohityam. No brahmin god was pro-production and the Shudra productive god images were pushed into what they cunningly called the ‘little tradition’ by the brahmin intellectuals of the freedom movement. The communist intellectuals having come from the same cultural roots did not think of changing it, rather they reinforced it with loud silence.

Usaa Barber joined the radical left movement once it began. He was in jail during the emergency. Later worked in the Tribal areas to conduct an armed struggle. In plain areas he mobilised farmers and labour for irrigation and drinking water resources. He contested elections and challenged the so-called conservative communists of CPI in Nalgonda district of Telangana. He worked with me to expand the notion of human rights to starving masses, caste atrocities and women’s rights in the 1980s. He was a tireless mass lover and lived with them.  He got expelled from his party for his stand on Ambedkar and anti-casteism. 

Usaa compared and understood the civilized barbarism with brahmanised radical left and started writing and speaking against their loud-silence on caste culture in Telugu quite eloquently. All communist intellectuals were upset, angry with him.  If only he was to come out of a radical Maoist party he would have been, perhaps, attacked physically as there was a bad culture of accusing every dissenter as a police agent. But he was from moderate Tarimela Nagireddy (a Shudra Reddy) and Devulapally Venkateswar Rao (a Brahmin) group. Democratic centralism destroyed the sense of democratic dissent in the communist structures of India. That was most un-Marxist culture but well developed in those structures. Once brahminism operates as democratic centralism it uses only Vishnuchakra to resolve differences.       

Usaa was the first full-time worker rebellion in Telugu region and oppressive caste leader who, within no time, was identified as leader, writer, thinker, poet and song composer, of course, singer. Singing in the revolution was always left to Dalits/Shudras, as Gaddar and many others did all their life without having a stature of a leader.  Though they were popular among the masses, they were never given a leader’s stature.

This boy started questioning the very existence of their God in the temples. Afterwards this man challenged Brahminism in communism. This was what the first barber Upali did by joining Gauthama Buddha’s system as his close confident during 6th Century BCE. After that, in the known history, only Usaa Barber did that at a very young age. He never turned back.

He was in a haste to fight the exploitation and oppressive system, hence joined the most militant Naxalite (Moist) movement to kill the enemies as soon as possible with a barrel of gun. He mobilized the poor Dalits and Shudra (Other Backward Class) labouring masses to rebel against landlords and oppressors.  Meanwhile in 1975 the emergency came in. He was arrested and kept in Rajahmundry jail for two years.

Then he went into a deep tribal area called Kondamodulu and organised tribals to fight for their lands with bows and arrows. He was a tribal among tribals, eating everything from root to raisin and rat to rabbit. After that, he shifted to Nalgonda to organise farmers to fight for irrigational and drinking water and became a famous peasant leader. He contested from Motkuru constituency in 1984 against a Communist Party of India landlord leader and lost the election. He was not sparing anybody.         

He realised that even in the revolutionary movement brahminism was playing a key role. There was a Brahmin (pure vegetarian) leader called Devulapally Venkateswar Rao (DVR) who was claiming all theoretical authority on Marx, Lenin and Mao as if they were like Vedavyasa, who wrote Mahabharat, Kautilya, who wrote most dangerous Brahmin-State craft book- Arthashastra and Manu who wrote Manudharmashastra that was burnt by Ambedkar. 

Their’s was a culture of read and recite among their families hence they would pick up quotations from Marx, Lenin and Mao’s writings and write funny documents and ask the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi cadre to apply to them to the concrete conditions of India’s class system, as if there was no caste in India of their mind. What an understanding of concrete conditions of India.     

Usaa sensed DVR’s brahminism in the revolutionary movement. DVR was treating a much better revolutionary leader, Tarimela Nagireddy, who is a Shudra and the author of a famous economic theory book ‘India Mortgaged’ as an unworthy leader. Usaa stood by Nagireddy to finish DVR’s revolutionary Brahminism. But Nagireddy never saw brahminism in communism and died unsuccessful.

Usaa was married to a brahmin woman within the party. The DVR’s camp tried to set his wife (Padma) against him.  But he could take her with him.  She finally became a State Government officer with a Mangali (barber) caste certificate. He was the first man to successfully navigate an extreme inter-caste married life between a barber and a brahman by converting Padma into his caste and she became the bread-winner to support his full-time socio-political work and educated their only daughter Hima Bindu. Both of them lived all along with an unfriendly kitchen at home.  

The caste-blind communist brahminism did not realise a barber whose home preferred food was/is mostly meat and fish across the Telugu society and country and that was/is their pride food culture.  Padma comes from a family that could not even tolerate the smell of meat and fish. Her family, caste, even her ‘out eating’ system was always confined to pure vegetarianism as their God was believed to be a vegetarian at home and also in the brahmin society. All Shudra gods are considered to be meatarians. Usaa’s childhood food was his god’s food who he rejected even that gods too in later life and turned to Buddha.

Her food culture was not a choice based but was a caste trained food culture. Communists should have understood caste is in the blood and class is on the body. Both of them had to struggle a great deal to navigate with two opposite food and work cultures as wife and husband. Like Gandhi, DVR also thought that all Indians should become vegetarian only to die after his communism comes to go to Hindu swarga. But they managed with a great difficulty to be under one roof till their death as Padma died in 2015 in his lap. Thereafter, Usaa became a Buddhist and carried his work.  

In the process of fight against DVR’s so-called Braminic-Marxist theory, Usaa mastered Marxist-Leninst theory quite seriously. Later he developed differences with Nagireddy group leaders on understanding Mahatma Phule and Ambedkar and integrating it into caste-class revolutionary movement, in the context of Karemchedu Dalit massacre in 1985.

Though the main leaders in Telugu states were Shudras (Kammas and Reddys), their intellectual rigor was very weak and could never perceive the role of Brahminism in the communism. That was a green snake in the green grass. A barber who knows how to identify snake of any colour anywhere and kill it, he located this green snake in the green grass.  None of the leaders who hailed from Shudra upper caste background studied the history of Hinduism and Buddhism as rival schools to the Brahminism. And, none of them read what Ambedkar wrote on Indian history.

In the life of the Indian communist movement only Brahmins wrote theory who never had an agrarian or artisanal productive mind. And, they only became intellectual leaders -- a tragedy at that. This was a paradox. Dange, Ranadive, Charu Mazumdar, EVS Namboodripad, DVR, Vinod Mishra and so on became leaders and dreamt of becoming like Lenin or Mao. Hence Marxism became Vedamantra but not scientific theory that could adopt to caste cultural conditions. Usaa challenged that communist brahmin heritage. No Kamma, Reddy, Jat, Yadav, Nair, Patel, Maratha could become well-known theoretician from the communist ranks. This barber changed that hallow Shudra house into an intellectual Saloon.

No Shudra leader could acquire an intellectual and philosophical stature even from the communist school exactly on the lines that happened in the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) school. Usaa even with his limited English could perceive this. The RSS Brahmin intellectuals construct a consent system among the Shudra/Dalit/Adivasi activists about the Hindu spiritual system, which is completely under the grip of Brahmins as priests, philosophers as part of necessary parampara. Productive Shudras have to live as spiritual slaves.

The communist Brahmin intellectuals never allow a serious discourse on Hindu spiritual system quite consciously as that would overthrow their hegemony in the communist structures, under the rubric that they believe in atheism not in religion. They refused to realise that no Shudra could become a priest in a temple like Tirupati or Jagannath, while being treated as Hindu. Usaa has opened this shell of silence in the communist ranks. The bogus theory of base structure and superstructure are separate guarded the Hindu brahminical system in the communist parties. Usaa told them that ‘these two structures are interdependent and you are operating on hypocritical humanism’.   

He was expelled from the Nagireddy group, few others along with me in 1986 on the same question of caste and Ambedkarism. He worked with me in human rights protection and feeding the poor people dying of draught conditions in Mahabubnagar district. In 1987, I wrote a small book ‘Annihilation of Caste - A Marxist Approach’ in Telugu he helped in that project. The communist brahmins mainly tried to make State as the agent of attack leaving the oppression that the Dalits/Tribals/Shudra faced related to caste atrocities as myth. Caste according to them was/is a myth; class was/is material reality. They decided to see only the human body not the soul.

This theory came from Bengali and Marathi brahmin intellectuals into the communist revolution exactly on the line as it came into the RSS from Maharashtra Brahmins. This barber realised that this deceptive ideological framework certainly does not allow even social reform, leave alone revolution.

The Shudra/Dalits who worked in leftist structures believed as Marxism was given divine truth, as such brahmin nationalism is God given truth in RSS. In both mainstream communist parties also Shudra/Dalits could not become intellectual leaders as they could not in RSS till today. In the CPM’s Politburo there is no single Dalit/Adivasi member even now. This is where caste disease destroyed human creativity.  

To sustain such brahmin intellectual hegemony many wings -- literary, cultural, student and so on were started in communist parties. The Brahmin youth were trained to read and write. Others were made to do the mass work, as if it was like tilling land again in the revolution, which no brahmin does. And they became poojaris of Marxism. 

Usaa became an all-rounder in this struggle.  He became a poojari of his own gods --Phule and Ambedkar, and started shavings the head of brahminism, rather clean. 

They abused him as renegade, reactionary and lackey of imperialism. Usaa said ‘my foot -- get lost’.  His tongue and pen became sharper and shaper. He travelled into the nook and corner of two Telugu states prepared youth for a leaderless #Black Lives Matter# like leaderless #Shudra/Dalit Lives Matters movement any time in future.       

Usaa Barber a college drop-out leaving after his II year B.Sc perceived this quite well. So far, no communist leader in Bengal or Kerala or Maharashtra did that. We do not even know even a single Shudra/Dalit intellectual leader from these two states even though the communists ruled them for decades.  

In literary and cultural field in Telugu states P.Varavara Rao led that strategy of Brahmin control. In organizations, a Brahmin is given the hold to control the written word.  Even if others--Shudras/Dalits/Adivasis come into that field marginalizing their written word or making it invisible has been a historical strategy.  Varavara Rao with his friends did that quite consistently. 

Since the communist movement gives more weightage to written word--the theory--they made Marx as a Brahmin in India and others could never counter it with strong autonomous strategy of written word.  Usaa hence started his own journal, a small Youtube studio in his house at the time of his sudden death. Corona took him away from his busy work. However, he made it difficult for the communists to continue their long-time caste-blind approach and continue the brahminism in future--a life that never rested till he breathed his last.  

(Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, a long-time associate of Usaa Barber, Political Theorist and Author)  

Other pieces by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd:

Disease distancing, not social distancing during Covid-19
Babu and Bhasha: The Game may end with this
Opinion: Why Hindutva philosophy never discusses poverty

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Sabrang

Unmindful mining will bring permanent pandemic

A closer look at the allocation of the country’s natural resources to crony corporates during the Covid-19 lockdown

04 Aug 2020

mining

Today the whole world is facing a health crisis created by the corona virus which has led to a pandemic situation since January and nobody, not even a group of scientists engaged deeply in research work to produce medicines for its treatment, knows when the crisis will end.

But it is possible that it could end in two years after the treatment becomes available. And it is a temporary crisis and may again reappear through a new virus as a result of destruction of deep forests along with its rich biodiversity which is natural shelter of zoonotic viruses.

Across the world, nation-states appear to be totally driven by the capitalist global market forces for profits, and profits are insensitive to the need of a cool earth, an unexpected side-effect of the lockdown due to reduction of air pollution. But countries are determined to enhance the drive of more use of fossil fuels extracting and exploiting natural resources through mining and destroying green forest. By this they are inviting the permanent pandemic which will be in the form of dangerous natural disasters by climate change.

This will pose a very serious threat, not only to human health, but also to nature, human existence as well as civilization. The nations like India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the defiant empire like the USA under the presidentship of Donald Trump, arbitrarily forwards its economy through handing over the natural resources like coal and iron ores to the corporates who neither care for environmental justice nor for scientists warning of destruction by global warming.

The PM justifies the diversion of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining to private Indian and foreign Conglomerate of companies as a means to achieve ‘’Atma Nirbhar Bharat’’ or self reliance of India. But the move is totally opposite of its underlying rationale, action and consequence. Because the sovereign state like India as democratic, republic, socialist and secular, will be resourceless after a short time witnessing the ashes of destructive developmental fires and ultimately (we the people of India) can not claim as sovereign and republic.

The lockdown is not desirable for cooling the earth but the truth prevails in this period that the over polluted cities in the world have seen the clean blue sky, the return of migratory birds, the clean water in rivers and free journey of beautiful deer along with many such flora and fauna on the highways because of stoppage of vehicles consuming fossil fuel and chimneys of industries. In this experience it is learnt and felt that the reduction of greenhouse gases and diminishing extractive industries is the only way to save the burning earth as the mother to every human being and all living creatures.

The learning from Covid-19 lockdown is widely accredited that the less consumption is directly related to prevention of climate change, which is the outcome of high consumption by rich people, high resources exploitation by rich nations and opting for a high lifestyle by the middle class.

Last year 11,000 scientists, in a joint appeal to the heads of nations and the decision makers of every country, had urged to reduce unnecessary consumption, unmindful mining and unending industrialization which is responsible for dwindling non renewable resources and excess emission of carbon dioxide.

This pandemic lockdown should be taken as an opportunity to begin changing the present economic system and developmental paradigms to the sustainable development for achieving minimum needs for dignity of life to everyone without concentration of either natural resources or capital in the hands of limited people or corporates.

But the central government’s new economic package in the name of economic revival is a dangerous antithesis for mitigation or prevention of climate change. It is also fuel to the fire to destroy the livelihood system of the marginalised sections like tribals, Dalits, farmers and labour class who need small-medium industries, food processing, renewable energy for which the protection and conservation of land, forest and water resources and its development are necessary with priority.

This will open the gates for mass employment in every region of the country. The present auction of 41 coal blocks will destroy lakhs of acres of forest and agricultural land in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hasdeo Arand, the longest forest area of 1,70,000 hectares has many ecological spots, elephant corridor and primary sources of water streams to river Hasdeo, a main tributary of River Mahanadi.

Similarly in Anugul and Jharsuguda districts of Odisha 33,000 acres of forest and agricultural land will be diverted and the mining activities will pollute and create water scarcity in river Brahmani which has been already vulnerable to industrial and mining activities. In Jharkhand there will be huge loss of livelihood system of tribal communities. In Maharashtra, a tiger sanctuary will be affected along with land of tribals. In Madhya Pradesh 11 coal blocks are to be auctioned whereas the state is surplus of power generation.

Anyone can point out the purpose of the central gov’t, especially the PM, that handing over such rich non renewable resources to the corporates is violating the principles, laws and restrictions and is subject to scrutiny.

In 2010 the ministry of MOEF had notified 60 thousand hectares as ‘’no go zones’’ and ‘’inviolate area’’ in forest areas of the country. It is a matter of deep concern that there are 11 such restricted zones among 41 coal blocks for destruction. Why this madness? Because these are areas in favour of blue-eyed corporate giants of the ruling boss. All these auctions of mines are fixed ignoring the Forest Protection Act 1986, Environmental Protection Act 1986, PESA of 1996, FRA 2006 and Land Acquisition Act 2013.

In this Covid period, the MOEFCC has cleared Dibang Valley Etalin hydropower project of 3097 megawatts dam in Arunachal Pradesh’s forest area of 1178 hectares which is natural habitat of more then 300 species of birds and mammals along with endemic goat, antelope. It has 2.8 lakh matured trees. The hydro-project above 25 MW was not considered as green energy but the government changed the criteria of limitations to unlimited, only to show the increasing amount of green energy.

India is a signatory to Paris Climate Agreement 2015 on which we have to reduce fossil fuel up to 30-35% till 2030 and have to strive for green energy like solar and wind. The Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres has said that the governments shouldn't open new coal mines in lockdown and they should go for solar and wind energy production to maintain the quiet of the present atmosphere in this pandemic lockdown. The UN environmental chief Mrs Ingar Anderson also said to keep the deep Forest's untouched to prevent viruses transfer to Human living regions. So if electricity generation is concerned, India has capacity of 4 lakh MW to produce but our maximum national consumption in last year was below 3 lakh MW for which 33 per cent plants have been closed for operation because of low demand.

For the coming 20 years the Indian gov’t has the responsibility to go for increasing green energy without stepping into new thermal projects. This is the conscience of any concerned citizen or a human being who is deeply involved in protection and conservation of non renewable resources as the primary source of livelihood of millions of people. Therefore, the alternative development as the need of the time awakens us that the arbitrary anti climate justice coal auction is unwanted, undesirable and unwise.

In addition to the said plights of coal mining in Odisha, green forest and cropland for another 9 iron ores blocks will be finished by the corporates in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts. Notification for auction has been done. One of these, a very rich and deep natural forest of 9 lakhs saal trees in Dangalpada of Keonjhar district, has to be untouched for future generational equity. Neither the present gov’t, nor the future has the right to finish the non-renewable natural resources in which the future generations have right of inheritance as nature is not of any one’s property or made by any one or gov’t. To prevent global warming and to stop emissions of greenhouse gases not only the un-mindfull endless mining has to be stopped but also climate emergency directs to conserve the green forest, rich biodiversity and source of streams and rivers for ecological balance and climate justice.

If the people in power like the U.S President Donald Trump, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil as defiant of science and nature’s retributions and the President of China or the Prime Minister of India are not prepared for environmental and economic justice to millions and millions of people, at least the concern people of conscience in various fields like education, science, sociology, agriculture forest and small medium scale industries have greater responsibility to create pressure through mass awareness to compel the gov’ts and political parties to accept the reality of dangerous permanent virus or climate disaster and opt for sustainable economy of minimum needs for simple dignified life for everybody but not for greed of a few rich.

*The author is President, Lokshakti Abhiyan Lohia Academy

 

Related:

Green Nobel winner Prafulla Samantara protests against ‘undeclared emergency’

NAPM demands that Centre immediately revoke the commercial auction of 41 coal blocks

Satyagraha with 12 hour fasting by Prafulla Samantara

Unmindful mining will bring permanent pandemic

A closer look at the allocation of the country’s natural resources to crony corporates during the Covid-19 lockdown

mining

Today the whole world is facing a health crisis created by the corona virus which has led to a pandemic situation since January and nobody, not even a group of scientists engaged deeply in research work to produce medicines for its treatment, knows when the crisis will end.

But it is possible that it could end in two years after the treatment becomes available. And it is a temporary crisis and may again reappear through a new virus as a result of destruction of deep forests along with its rich biodiversity which is natural shelter of zoonotic viruses.

Across the world, nation-states appear to be totally driven by the capitalist global market forces for profits, and profits are insensitive to the need of a cool earth, an unexpected side-effect of the lockdown due to reduction of air pollution. But countries are determined to enhance the drive of more use of fossil fuels extracting and exploiting natural resources through mining and destroying green forest. By this they are inviting the permanent pandemic which will be in the form of dangerous natural disasters by climate change.

This will pose a very serious threat, not only to human health, but also to nature, human existence as well as civilization. The nations like India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the defiant empire like the USA under the presidentship of Donald Trump, arbitrarily forwards its economy through handing over the natural resources like coal and iron ores to the corporates who neither care for environmental justice nor for scientists warning of destruction by global warming.

The PM justifies the diversion of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining to private Indian and foreign Conglomerate of companies as a means to achieve ‘’Atma Nirbhar Bharat’’ or self reliance of India. But the move is totally opposite of its underlying rationale, action and consequence. Because the sovereign state like India as democratic, republic, socialist and secular, will be resourceless after a short time witnessing the ashes of destructive developmental fires and ultimately (we the people of India) can not claim as sovereign and republic.

The lockdown is not desirable for cooling the earth but the truth prevails in this period that the over polluted cities in the world have seen the clean blue sky, the return of migratory birds, the clean water in rivers and free journey of beautiful deer along with many such flora and fauna on the highways because of stoppage of vehicles consuming fossil fuel and chimneys of industries. In this experience it is learnt and felt that the reduction of greenhouse gases and diminishing extractive industries is the only way to save the burning earth as the mother to every human being and all living creatures.

The learning from Covid-19 lockdown is widely accredited that the less consumption is directly related to prevention of climate change, which is the outcome of high consumption by rich people, high resources exploitation by rich nations and opting for a high lifestyle by the middle class.

Last year 11,000 scientists, in a joint appeal to the heads of nations and the decision makers of every country, had urged to reduce unnecessary consumption, unmindful mining and unending industrialization which is responsible for dwindling non renewable resources and excess emission of carbon dioxide.

This pandemic lockdown should be taken as an opportunity to begin changing the present economic system and developmental paradigms to the sustainable development for achieving minimum needs for dignity of life to everyone without concentration of either natural resources or capital in the hands of limited people or corporates.

But the central government’s new economic package in the name of economic revival is a dangerous antithesis for mitigation or prevention of climate change. It is also fuel to the fire to destroy the livelihood system of the marginalised sections like tribals, Dalits, farmers and labour class who need small-medium industries, food processing, renewable energy for which the protection and conservation of land, forest and water resources and its development are necessary with priority.

This will open the gates for mass employment in every region of the country. The present auction of 41 coal blocks will destroy lakhs of acres of forest and agricultural land in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Hasdeo Arand, the longest forest area of 1,70,000 hectares has many ecological spots, elephant corridor and primary sources of water streams to river Hasdeo, a main tributary of River Mahanadi.

Similarly in Anugul and Jharsuguda districts of Odisha 33,000 acres of forest and agricultural land will be diverted and the mining activities will pollute and create water scarcity in river Brahmani which has been already vulnerable to industrial and mining activities. In Jharkhand there will be huge loss of livelihood system of tribal communities. In Maharashtra, a tiger sanctuary will be affected along with land of tribals. In Madhya Pradesh 11 coal blocks are to be auctioned whereas the state is surplus of power generation.

Anyone can point out the purpose of the central gov’t, especially the PM, that handing over such rich non renewable resources to the corporates is violating the principles, laws and restrictions and is subject to scrutiny.

In 2010 the ministry of MOEF had notified 60 thousand hectares as ‘’no go zones’’ and ‘’inviolate area’’ in forest areas of the country. It is a matter of deep concern that there are 11 such restricted zones among 41 coal blocks for destruction. Why this madness? Because these are areas in favour of blue-eyed corporate giants of the ruling boss. All these auctions of mines are fixed ignoring the Forest Protection Act 1986, Environmental Protection Act 1986, PESA of 1996, FRA 2006 and Land Acquisition Act 2013.

In this Covid period, the MOEFCC has cleared Dibang Valley Etalin hydropower project of 3097 megawatts dam in Arunachal Pradesh’s forest area of 1178 hectares which is natural habitat of more then 300 species of birds and mammals along with endemic goat, antelope. It has 2.8 lakh matured trees. The hydro-project above 25 MW was not considered as green energy but the government changed the criteria of limitations to unlimited, only to show the increasing amount of green energy.

India is a signatory to Paris Climate Agreement 2015 on which we have to reduce fossil fuel up to 30-35% till 2030 and have to strive for green energy like solar and wind. The Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres has said that the governments shouldn't open new coal mines in lockdown and they should go for solar and wind energy production to maintain the quiet of the present atmosphere in this pandemic lockdown. The UN environmental chief Mrs Ingar Anderson also said to keep the deep Forest's untouched to prevent viruses transfer to Human living regions. So if electricity generation is concerned, India has capacity of 4 lakh MW to produce but our maximum national consumption in last year was below 3 lakh MW for which 33 per cent plants have been closed for operation because of low demand.

For the coming 20 years the Indian gov’t has the responsibility to go for increasing green energy without stepping into new thermal projects. This is the conscience of any concerned citizen or a human being who is deeply involved in protection and conservation of non renewable resources as the primary source of livelihood of millions of people. Therefore, the alternative development as the need of the time awakens us that the arbitrary anti climate justice coal auction is unwanted, undesirable and unwise.

In addition to the said plights of coal mining in Odisha, green forest and cropland for another 9 iron ores blocks will be finished by the corporates in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts. Notification for auction has been done. One of these, a very rich and deep natural forest of 9 lakhs saal trees in Dangalpada of Keonjhar district, has to be untouched for future generational equity. Neither the present gov’t, nor the future has the right to finish the non-renewable natural resources in which the future generations have right of inheritance as nature is not of any one’s property or made by any one or gov’t. To prevent global warming and to stop emissions of greenhouse gases not only the un-mindfull endless mining has to be stopped but also climate emergency directs to conserve the green forest, rich biodiversity and source of streams and rivers for ecological balance and climate justice.

If the people in power like the U.S President Donald Trump, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil as defiant of science and nature’s retributions and the President of China or the Prime Minister of India are not prepared for environmental and economic justice to millions and millions of people, at least the concern people of conscience in various fields like education, science, sociology, agriculture forest and small medium scale industries have greater responsibility to create pressure through mass awareness to compel the gov’ts and political parties to accept the reality of dangerous permanent virus or climate disaster and opt for sustainable economy of minimum needs for simple dignified life for everybody but not for greed of a few rich.

*The author is President, Lokshakti Abhiyan Lohia Academy

 

Related:

Green Nobel winner Prafulla Samantara protests against ‘undeclared emergency’

NAPM demands that Centre immediately revoke the commercial auction of 41 coal blocks

Satyagraha with 12 hour fasting by Prafulla Samantara

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