A Dalit goes to court

When Bhanwari Devi’s 13 year-old daughter was raped in the bajra fields by an upper caste youth, she picked up a lathi and went after the rapist herself. She had no faith in the police and courts. Either way, she was prevented from seeking any redress by the dominant castes of Ahiron ka Rampura. “The village caste panchayat promised me justice,” she says. “Instead, they threw me and my family out of Rampura.” Nearly a decade after the rape, no one in this village in Ajmer district has been punished.

It doesn’t mean much, though, in Rajasthan . On average in this state, one Dalit woman is raped every 60 hours.

Data from reports of the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes show that nearly 900 cases of sexual assault of SC women were registered with the police between 1991 and 1996. That’s round 150 cases a year – or one every 60 hours. (Barring a few months of President’s rule, the state was entirely in Bharatiya Janata Party

— source ruralindiaonline.org | P. Sainath | Apr 17, 2018

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Will RBI’s New Measures Open Forex Floodgates?

Amid large capital outflows, downward pressure on the rupee and reserve drawdowns, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced on July 6 a slew of measures to attract greater foreign exchange flows to India. “In order to further diversify and expand the sources of forex funding so as to mitigate volatility and dampen global spillovers, it has been decided to undertake measures to enhance forex inflows while ensuring overall macroeconomic and financial stability”, the RBI said in its press release.

The measures are regulatory relaxations aimed at attracting larger forex flows through bank deposits, foreign portfolio investments in debt instruments, and external commercial borrowings (ECBs) by Indian corporates. The five new measures are summarized below:

A Two-Front Challenge

The above measures are intended to compensate for large foreign capital outflows and their downward pressure on the rupee-dollar exchange rate. So far in 2022, the rupee has fallen by 7 percent against the US dollar. On July 19, the rupee breached the psychological mark of 80 per US dollar amid global financial tightening, rising interest rates in advanced economies, and a stronger US dollar.

There is no denying that the Indian rupee has recently appreciated against several global currencies such as the British pound, Japanese yen and euro, but what really matters is the

— source madhyam.org.in | Kavaljit Singh | Jul 26, 2022

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Five Lakh Companies Shut Shop Since 2016 That Saw Triple Whammy of DeMo, GST, COVID-19

In the last six years, as many as 5,00,506 companies were shut down according to data shared in the Lok Sabha by Union Corporate Affairs Minister Rao Inderjit Singh on November 29. This period, which saw demonetisation, GST rollout and COVID-19 pandemic, also witnessed the constitution of 7,17,049 new firms across the country.

States, where firms downed their shutters in striking numbers, are Maharashtra (81,412), Delhi (55,753), West Bengal (33,938) and Karnataka (27,502).

Interestingly, the spike in the closure of businesses was most drastic in 2017-18, the financial year which saw the passing of the GST bill as also the year that immediately followed the liquidity crisis created by a sudden demonetisation decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For instance, in Delhi, 45,581 companies closed down in 2017-18, whereas in other years in the last six-year period, the number did not climb beyond 3,000 closures. Gujarat shows

— source newsclick.in | 30 Nov 2021

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On Juneteenth, Indians Must Learn About this Iconic Anti-Racism Song

As a student, I enjoyed singing revolutionary songs and shouting slogans in meetings and demonstrations. But I do not remember being moved by any song as I have been by “Strange Fruit”. The lyrics of this song have haunted me ever since I heard it a few months back. Each word is written with deep pain and sung with anguish rooted in suffering and anger.

I came across the song while idly surfing the net. Immediately, it struck a deep chord in my heart. It would be appropriate to remember the song’s history on 19 June or Juneteenth, the national Independence Day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States of America. It was only last year that America recognised the day as a federal holiday.

Written in the context of the lynching of African Americans, “Strange Fruit” has an iconic status for it is considered the first protest song of the civil liberties movement in the United States. The song was made famous by Billie Holiday, who sang it in 1939. Getting the song on record was difficult because Columbia Records would not touch it.

The song depicts lynching in all its brutality:

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

— source newsclick.in | Nandita Haksar | 19 Jun 2022

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The Continuing Saga of UIDAI’s Breach of Privacy Rights

The recent advisories by the UIDAI’s regional office and then by its parent body are of concern. UIDAI, which has been functioning without a chairman since 2019, is responsible for managing one of the biggest databases in the world. It has already been revealed by the CAG report that it has failed to maintain the uniqueness of the Aadhaar. The database has unpaired and mismatched biometrics data on its system. It lacks a data archiving policy. The lack of a mechanism to ensure its accountability is another worry.

ON May 27, the regional office of the UIDAI in Bengaluru issued a press release that refrained people from sharing their photocopies of Aadhaar cards with other organisations as they could be “misused”. However, a few days later, the advisory was redacted with immediate effect. These developments came months after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report titled ‘Functioning of UIDAI’ revealed the failure of the UIDAI to maintain the uniqueness of the Aadhaar.

The initial advisory warned people against the use of public computers to download the e-copies of the Aadhaar card. If the e-copies are downloaded, they should be permanently

— source theleaflet.in | Gursimran Kaur Bakshi | Jun 15, 2022

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Troubles begin after a good harvest

Rajiv Kumar Ojha does not know which is more stressful: harvesting a decent crop or trying to sell it. “You might find it funny, but my troubles begin after I get a good harvest at the end of the cropping season,” he said, sitting in the verandah of his dilapidated house in Chaumukh, a village in north-central Bihar.

Ojha, 47, cultivates paddy in the kharif season (June-November), and wheat and maize during rabi (December-March) on his five-acre farmland in the village, located in Muzaffarpur district’s Bochaha taluka . “Weather, water, labour and many more things need to come together for us to get a good harvest,” he told me in November 2020. “But even after that, there is no market. I have to sell my stock to the commission agent in the village, and I have to sell it at the price he fixes.” The agent in turn sells it to a wholesale trader for a commission.

In 2019, Ojha sold his stock of raw paddy at the rate of Rs. 1,100 per quintal – this was 39 per cent less than the MSP (minimum support price) of Rs. 1,815 at that time. “I didn’t have an option. The agents always buy at a lower rate because they know we can’t go anywhere [to sell]. So we hardly make any profit,” he said.

A farmer in Bihar invests Rs. 20,000 on an acre of paddy, said Ojha. “I get 20-25 quintals of harvest on an acre. At 1,100 rupees a quintal, I can make a profit of 2,000-7,000

— source ruralindiaonline.org | Parth M.N. | May 1, 2021

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Forbes, India and Pandora’s Pandemic Box

The ranks of Indian Dollar Billionaires swelled from 102 to 140 in 12 months, if the Forbes 2021 List is to be believed (and when it comes to billionaires and their wealth, Forbes is mostly to be believed). Their combined wealth, it notes, has “nearly doubled to $ 596 billion” in just the past year.

This means 140 individuals, or 0.000014 per cent of the population, had a cumulative worth equivalent to 22.7 per cent (or well over a fifth) of our Gross Domestic Product of $ 2.62 trillion, bringing, as they always do, that whole other meaning to the word ‘Gross’.

Most major Indian dailies carried the Forbes pronouncement in that approving tone they reserve for such feats – omitting to mention what the Oracle of Pelf says in a more upfront and honest way.

“Another Covid-19 wave,” says Forbes in the first paragraph of its report on this country, “is sweeping across

— source ruralindiaonline.org | P. Sainath | Apr 18, 2021

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7 Electoral Trusts got Rs 258Cr Corporate Donations in Lockdown Year; BJP got 82% Money

Seven electoral trusts received a total amount of Rs 258.49 crore from corporates and individuals, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged more than 82%, poll rights body ADR said.

Electoral trusts are non-profit organisation formed in India for orderly receiving of contributions from corporate entities and individuals to political parties. The trusts are aimed at improving transparency in the usage of funds for election-related expenses.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), in a new report, said 16 out of the 23 electoral trusts submitted details of their contribution for the financial year 2020-21 to the Election Commission of India (ECI), of which only seven declared to have received donations.

“Seven electoral trusts which have declared receiving contributions during FY 2020-21, have received a total amount of Rs 258.4915 crore from corporates and individuals and distributed Rs 258.4301 cr (99.98 per cent) to various political parties,” it said.

The BJP received Rs 212.05 crore or 82.05% of these donations, while the Janata Dl (United) secured Rs 27 crore or 10.45% of the amount.

— source newsclick.in | 21 Apr 2022

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Desperate Indians used up their savings, took loans to survive COVID-19 pandemic

dollars/day : pre-post covid-19
13.4 crore. Increase happened only for poor
$2.01 – 10 : low income. 119.7 -> 116.2 crore
$10.01 – 20 : middle income. 9.9 -> 6.6 crore
$20.01 – 50 : upper middle income. 2.2 -> 1.6 crore
>$50 : high income. 0.3->0.2 crore

increased from 6 crore to 13.4 crores due to covid-19 induced recession.

household debt. mar 20. rs 68.9 lakh crore. dec 20. rs 73.1 lakh crore. debt increased by rs 4.25 lakh crore.
46% indians borrowed to run their household
bank deposit july-sep rs 3.6 lakh crore. oct-dec rs 1.7 lakh crore. first peak of pandemic.
people withdrew nearly rs 2 lakh crore in just 3 months.

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