Are We Staring at Another Phase of Dilution of PDS in India?

On February 28, 2020, it was reported that the central government’s think tank, NITI Aayog, in a discussion paper recommended a revision in the coverage of urban and rural populations under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 to generate annual savings of Rs 47,229 crores spent on food subsidies. It has recommended that the coverage of rural population be reduced from 75% to 60% and that of urban population from 50% to 40%.

A couple of days later, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey clarified that once the new census data was available, the Centre might consider revising the number of people who get subsidised food grains under the NFSA and that the Food Ministry has had discussions on the recommendations made by NITI Aayog.

These recommendations have been made at a time when farmers from across the country have been agitating on the borders of Delhi against the three farm laws

— source | Shinzani Jain | 18 Mar 2021

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Pulwama Attack Happened Despite Reliable Intelligence Inputs

An investigative report on the 2019 Pulwama terror strike by Frontline has revealed that a series of intelligence inputs shared with authorities responsible for maintaining internal security, including the Jammu and Kashmir Police, between January 2, 2019 and February 13, 2019 “were not acted upon or at least not acted upon successfully”, resulting in the killing of 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers.

The report claims that the series of intelligence inputs in the said period also included two successive “actionable inputs” that would have “staved off the strike” had they been acted upon.

“If an intelligence input is specific, say an intelligence input on terrorists

— source | Feb 19 2021

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UK farmers support Indian farmers, cite poor experience with corporates

The Indian diaspora in the UK has already shown their support for the farmers’ protests back home, but it is now the turn of British farmers to come out strongly in solidarity with their Indian colleagues and feel inspired by the unique movement launched more than two months ago.

Farmers and landworkers across the UK are writing to their Members of Parliament asking them to act against the Indian government and get them to repeal the three laws that are threatening the future of farmers in India. They are also posting images of themselves standing in support with Indian farmers on social media.

Small and medium farmers, predominantly white as farming is not a profession that Indian immigrants flock to here, feel inspired by Indian farmers who they argue are resisting corporatisation of farming, which has forced farmers in the UK into

— source | Sajeda Momin | 31 Jan, 2021

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Liberalisation of Agriculture: Lessons from Developed and Developing Countries

It has now been three months since farmers and agricultural workers from various Indian states have been agitating at the borders of Delhi demanding that the three farm laws be repealed. The farmers have argued that the implementation of these laws will result in falling prices for their agricultural produce, increased costs of cultivation and increased indebtedness. They fear that this economic situation will force them into selling their lands.

They also argue that the new laws will eventually lead to the dismantling of the public procurement system (under which the government procures from farmers at a pre-decided Minimum Support Price (MSP)), which is intrinsically connected with the public distribution system, ensuring food security and food sovereignty in the country.

They fear that the entry and subsequent dominance of large agri-businesses and corporations over the agricultural sector will convert them into wage labourers on their own land. This dominance by giant corporations, it has been argued, will

— source | Shinzani Jain | 28 Feb 2021

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Suspicion Over EVM-VVPAT Manipulations

For a while now, concerns have been raised over the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) used by the Election Commission of India (ECI), with some claiming that they could be tampered with or were not reliable.

Adding to these concerns is a new piece of information revealed by former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, raising serious questions over the ECI’s claim that EVMs are stand-alone machines which are neither accessible remotely from any network nor can be connected to any external devices. However, with the introduction of VVPAT, these claims do not hold as these machines are apparently connected to laptops or symbol loading units (SLUs).

VVPATs were inducted into the electoral process in 2013 to provide an additional layer of scrutiny against possible EVM manipulation. They allow physical tallying of votes.

In a series of tweets, Gopinathan claimed that with the addition of the VVPAT

— source | Himadri Ghosh | 18/Feb/2021

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UIDAI asks Hyderabad man to prove citizenship, alleges his Aadhaar could be fake

The UIDAI on February 3 sent a letter to Sattar Khan, a resident of Hyderabad raising questions on whether he was an Indian citizen. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that oversees the functioning of Aadhaar in the country in a letter to Sattar claimed to have had received a complaint/allegation that he was not an Indian National, the letter did not specify who made the complaint. UIDAI alleged that according to the complaint Sattar had obtained the Aadhaar card through false pretences, making false claims and submitting false documents.

The UIDAI has asked Sattar to present himself before an enquiry officer at 11 am on February 20 at Balapur in Rangareddy district. He has been asked to provide necessary original documents to prove his Indian citizenship. If he is not an Indian National, he is to prove that he entered the country legally, the notice says. And if he failed to show up, the UIDAI would take a decision suo moto, the notice warns.

Its unclear how many such letters have been issued by the UIDAI so far. Muzaferullah Khan, Sattar’s advocate reasons that since UIDAI has orgainsed the inquiry at a function hall, there could be many more people turning up. “They have booked a function hall for the probe, it could mean there could be a lot of people who they have sent letters to,”he said. The lawyer intends to challenge the UIDAI in the Telangana High Court, questioning the authority of UIDAI to summon Indian citizens and question their citizenship.

— source | Mithun MK | Feb 18, 2020

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In Shiv Vihar, Were Local Rioters Paid to Target Muslims?

“Pradeep and I were like brothers,” Sameer said. “We used to go out and eat together and he used to eat from my plate.”

When Pradeep owed Sameer Rs 5,000, it didn’t bother Sameer. The money was in the family, as it were. They would square it eventually.

But on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Sameer, hiding from a mob, watched his friend set houses on fire.

That morning, as Sameer had returned from Seemapuri to Shiv Vihar in his auto, a group of about 30 men started chasing him near the samshan ghat (crematorium) at Gokulpuri nala (canal). Panicked, he looked for a hiding place, but when no road seemed safe, he finally abandoned the auto and ran inside a building where he knew a fellow Muslim lived, three doors down from his own house. He huddled on a small balcony on the third floor and peered through a railing as a mob rampaged through the streets below.

An auto driver, Sameer also worked as a painter and plasterer and Pradeep, who lived nearby, was a colleague. They spent a lot of time together, Sameer said. If

— source | Naomi Barton | 01/Mar/2021

US presses India to join anti-China alliance

While visiting New Delhi this week, the head of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, publicly pressed India to take steps that would be tantamount to making it a “frontline state” in the US drive to strategically isolate, encircle and prepare for war against China. Harris called for the Indian and US navies to mount joint patrols across the Indian and Pacific Oceans and for India to join the US and its two most important Asian-Pacific military allies, Japan and Australia, in a quadrilateral “security” dialogue.

— Read more | 2016

US will never fight a war in their land. they always create the war they wanted by other countries. if possible they sell weapons to both countries. by this they enrich themselves and destroy development of other countries.

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Disha Ravi says if highlighting farmers’ protest is sedition, it’s better to be in jail

Stating that there is no evidence to link Disha Ravi with Sikhs For Justice, a banned organisation, the climate activist’s counsel Siddharth Agarwal Saturday told a Delhi court that “if highlighting farmers’ protest globally is sedition, I am better in jail.”

Responding to the arguments, the defence told the court that Ravi was not a rebel without a cause. There’s a cause of environment, of agriculture and interlink between them,” he said.

there was no evidence to show that the toolkit was responsible for the riots during the farmers’ march on January 26.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court yesterday, hearing arguments in a plea by Disha against the “leaking” of her WhatsApp chats, allegedly by police, to the media, directed the police to abide by Home Ministry guidelines and not “rush to the press with half-baked, speculative or unconfirmed information about ongoing investigations”.

— source | Feb 20, 2021

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High volatility in crop prices, made worse by the absence of APMCs

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

— source | Parth M.N | Feb. 20, 2021

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