About Dixit Dubey

Positive political view

Vibrant Gujarat?: Traditional handicrafts village of Kutch under threat from proposed steel plant



The people of around ten villages surrounding Dhamadka, Anjar taluka, district Kutch, are angry. They are protesting against the proposed steel project, which their leaders believe will mean threat to their livelihood. Reverberations of the protests were first heard during the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) public hearing organized at the village on February 4, 2014. “The gathered villagers were of the opinion that they are already facing a resource scarcity in terms of water and land, and the upcoming expansion of the plant with huge production capacity will destroy their meagre resources”, said Ajitsinh Jadeja, sarpanch, Dhamadka group panchayat.
In a statement, Jadeja said the people of Dhamadka would suffer the most. “Kutch, the last frontier of Gujarat, is world famous for its craft skills. The region is home to many thriving traditional arts and crafts which sustain a large number of livelihoods in the area. Dhamadka is a craft village, where Khatri artisans are practicing the hand block printing craft since last 10 generations, now faces the threat of a Steel Plant being set up in its backyard”, it said.
The statement underlined, “The village has a craft turnover of 20 crore through its more than 70 block printing units. There are thousands of craft lovers, designers, tourists that visit the village from all over the world, every year, to see, understand and purchase products made with this great cultural tradition that not only belongs to the village but also to the region, state and the nation.” 

Sarpanch Ajitsinh Jadeja speaks at public hearing
However, now, “the Dhamadka village and its traditional craft is facing threat from a steel plant which plans to extend its capacity on the revenue land of a village with survey no. 405/3, 406, and 407. The plant is intended to make products like MS Steel Ingots /Billets (six lakh tonnes per annum), MS Joists (two lakh tonnes per annum), TMT Bars/Angles/Channels (two lakh tonnes per annum) along with a coal fed captive power plant with capacity of 10 MW.”
“Once the steel plant and the coal fed captive power plant start functioning, it will have adverse effects not only on the artisanal practices of village but also the traditional occupations of agriculture and animal husbandry of the area”, the sarpanch pointed out, adding, “The pollution of the land and water will force them to abandon their traditional craft practices which currently support almost 700 artisans across Dhamadka Panchayat.”
Jadeja contended, “The pollution will create patches on the fabrics that are dried on the ground, and push water tables further down. Evidence suggests that the iron and coal dusts coming out of the plant will do irreparable damage to this thriving traditional craft and traditional occupational practices. The villages of Dhamadka were joined by farmers of 10 surrounding villages who gathered during the public hearing organized in the presence of YD Suthar, regional head, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and district magistrate DB Shah.”
Construction work of the project in progress
He added, “The farmers protested against the company and exposed the borewells they had already dug despite the NOC given the condition that it will not use the ground water for its production purpose.“ At the meeting, Jadeja “provided all the details to the government officials present during the public hearing. They demanded an independent probe of the issue.” 
Jadeja said, in his bid to save the project, Manoj Jain, representing the company, “claimed that the company has started putting green cover around it and planted 1,500 trees. The artisans and farmers protested against these claims stating that there was not a single plantation undertaken by the Company, and that they were furnishing images of castor plants trees which were planted by local farmers in their fields.”
“The villagers gathered also provided details of the vibrant animal husbandry economy in the village due to the dairy movement by Sarhad diary. They feared that the environment pollution of this steel plant will affect the agriculture and animal husbandry adversely. Along with the farmers and artisans of surrounding villages, other village leaders present during the public hearing were Vastabhai of Dudhai, Vikrambhai and Rameshbhai Dangar of Kotda, Kanabhai of Chandrani, Ramdevsinh from Sukhpar and Navinbhai Patel of Sangamner. They all demanded firm and sensitive action from the district administration in the wake of the issues raised by them.”

Gujarat govt refuses permission to farmers’ rally against Dholera SIR, JAAG terms it “police raj” in Gujarat



The Gujarat government has denied permission to the Jameen Adhikar Andolar Gujarat (JAAG) to hold a farmers’ rally on February 9 at village Sandhila in Dholera special investment region (SIR) to protest against the SIR. Close on the heels of the state government decision, JAAG said in a statement said this signifies “Police Raj in Gujarat, portents of an emergency.” JAAG wants the Dholera SIR status, comprising 22 villages over an area spanning nearly 920 sq km in Gandhinagar district, to be cancelled, claiming farmers do not want it.
According to JAAG, farmers of the region “have been protesting against the Gujarat government’s so-called development project for the last three years to save their very fertile land and also to fulfill long pending promise of Naramada water for irrigation.” This is the reason why “they decided to put up a show of strength and combined protest against a project which spells destruction and death for them, not development.”, it added.
Pointing out that “a large number of villages, which fell under the Narmada command area, have now been de-commanded, depriving them of their dream of farming their lands with irrigated water”, JAAG has said, the protest was organized to “register farmers’ protest against the draconian SIR Act and to demand the cancellation of the Dholera SIR project.” 
“The fact that the farmers are opposed to the Gujarat chief minister’s pet Dholera SIR project and that they rather want the Narmada water for irrigating their fields was made known at the public hearing held in Dholera on January 3, 2014”, JAAG said, adding, “Wishing to respect the rule of law and the codes of civil behaviour, the farmers had sought police permission for the same and this has been denied.”
JAAG contended, by denying the permission, the state government has “made an unstated yet implicit admission that Gujarat today faces an undeclared emergency, that the civil and political rights of citizens here remain suspended, and that democracy is no longer alive here”, claiming, “Almost throughout the year, in most parts of Gujarat section 144 remains in force.”
Declaring that it will not cow down by the refusal of permission, JAAG said, “At every public gathering of this kind, the police remains present in huge numbers as if the citizens pose a threat to the nation. Despite denial of permission, the farmers are determined to gather, as declared and announced, on 9thFebruary 2014 at 10 am at village Sandhida. They will gather there and, in a peaceful and non-violent manner, will court arrest.”
Pointing out that the “behaviour of the police under the orders of their political masters is unacceptable and should not to be taken lightly”, JAAG said, “Gujarat has bid adieu to democracy and democratic practices. The Gujarat government, busy in tomtoming its (illusory) record of development to the world, is forcing its own version of ‘development’ down the throats of farmers.”
Pointing towards how permission for protests were denied, JAAG said, “On August 15, 2013, the police cancelled the permission granted for the flag hoisting at the last minute to the protesting villagers in the Mandal-Bechraji SIR area. Then, on October 23, 2013 the permission for the cattle rally from Hansalpur to Gandhinagar was denied to the protesting Maldharis.”
Further, “on January 18, 2014 the cattle rally by the maldharis was stopped by the police, they were beaten with lathis and had cases registered against them. Likewise, the protesting adivasis near the Narmada dam were rounded up just prior to the chief minister’s visit and released only after his appearance in the area was over.”
“Again on December 18, 2013, the police again tried to stop villagers who had gathered to share information about the SIR Act. The people assembled despite several attempts by the police to stop them. And then again on December 28, 2013 the police yet again denied permission to the youths for a motor-cycle rally on the issue of the SIR in Dholera”, JAAG said in the statement signed by its leaders Pradyumansinh Chudasma, Rajbha Chudasma and Sagar Rabari.

नरेंद्र मोदी के दंगों के दाग नहीं धुलेंगे


गुजरात में हुए 2002 के दंगों को लेकर राजनीति अपने चरम है। आगामी आम चुनावों के पहले उठे दंगों से जुड़ी राजनीति के शोर से सियासत गरम हो रही है। 

कृषि राज्यमंत्री तारिक अनवर ने शरद पवार और प्रफुल्ल पटेल के नरेंद्र मोदी पर दिए बयान पर सफाई दी की नरेंद्र मोदी पर लगे दंगों के दाग नहीं धुल सकते।

तारिक अनवर का कहना है कि लोगों के मन में गुजरात दंगों को लेकर नरेंद्र मोदी की जो छाप छूटी है उसे आसानी से मिटाया नहीं जा सकता। ना ही नरेंद्र मोदी की छवि साफ नहीं है। लिहाजा एनसीपी का बीजेपी के साथ तालमेल का सवाल नहीं उठता है, हालांकि एनसीपी को एनडीए से ऑफर जरूर मिला था। दरअसल एनसीपी और बीजेपी की विचारधार अलग-अलग है। बीजेपी की विचारधार सांप्रदायिक है, इसके अलावा शरद पवार को नरेंद्र मोदी से कोई लगाव नहीं है।चूंकि 1984 के सिख दंगों और 2002 के गुजरात दंगों में फर्क है। गुजरात दंगों में सरकार शामिल थी, जबकि 1984 के सिख दंगों को रोकने की कोशिश हुई थी। ऐसे में गुजरात दंगों के दोषियों पर कार्रवाई होनी चाहिए और दंगा पीड़ितों को इंसाफ मिलना चाहिए।



Public Hearing for Dholera SIR was based of incomplete, out-of-date facts provided in Environmental Impact Assessment report


This is in reference to the environmental public hearing (EPH) of Dholera SIR for Ahmedabad district held on January 3, 2014. We have reviewed the minutes of the public hearing that has been uploaded on the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) website. Based on the minutes, we have prepared a list of responses in which the project proponent has agreed, either at the EPH site (Dholera) or in writing, that it will incorporate several issues it had missed out while preparing the final EIA report.

The observations show that the project proponent has agreed to the fact that important studies like water source, power source, and allocation of land were either not carried out or were not done in detail. As the affected people and stakeholders will not be able to review the final EIA and cannot give their inputs now, we request you to cancel the draft EIA report submitted by the project proponent (Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation), and come up with a new EIA report incorporating all the above studies or details which the project proponent has agreed that they do not exist in the EIA report. We also request you to reschedule the EPH as per the EIA notification, 2006, so that people can review the EIA report with all the necessary information and then give consent to the project.

Some of the responses given by the proponent to the questions raised during the EPH are not satisfactory. When questions were raised about lack of any “provision or responsibility in the law for the livestock keepers and resettlement of the local people”, the proponent gave a vague response, that “this area shall be developed under the Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976. Since no land acquisition is involved in it, there is no question of rehabilitation/ resettlement. Farmers can cultivate their land till they wish to do so.”

Also, in the minutes the project proponent has claimed that “the farmers can continue to carry out agriculture on their land, till the time they desire to do so, in the re-allotted land that is given to the farmers after deducting the specific amount of land for basic infrastructure.” The draft EIA report has mentioned that “approximately 14 per cent of the total site area, i.e. 12,804 ha, will be retained as farmland for the short term” and “this land will not be required for development until the city grows beyond a population of about two million inhabitants.” It means once the population of the DMIC exceeds two million, land will be acquired from the farmers!

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a homogeneous and ambitious project but then it is also massively resource-intensive. Lakhs of people living in DMIC will get affected, because the project has refused to make them prime stakeholders. Instead of coming up with a very meticulous report at the important stage of public participation, the project proponent hasn’t spared a thought on the key issues like water source, power distribution, and allocation of land. Hence, we request you to cancel the EPH and demand a new draft EIA with details that the proponent has agreed to (in the minutes of EPH) and then hold EPH.

Following responses, cited in the minutes of the EPH by the project proponent, indicate insufficient study:



Only a few huts remain in the area of Dholera SIR where sea shore is shrinking

1. The project proponent has agreed in the minutes that on the basis of new “data, based on new satellite image, new survey and in consultation with the Central Salt And Marine Chemical Research Institute, Bhavnagar, the new Coastal Regulatory Zone lines shall be defined.”

2. People demanded increase in buffer zone of village from 150 to 500 metres, for which project proponent has assured that “the procedure to extend it to 500 mertres will be initiated.”

3. Regarding the objection to decommand the Narmada irrigation, the project proponent has responded that Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd has decided to provide canal in this area.

4. The project proponent has agreed that “details regarding environmental changes of village Bavaliyari and nearby region will be incorporated in the Final EIA.”

5. The project proponent has agreed in writing that “since Dholera SIR development would adopt maximizing re-utilization of wastewater and use of recyclable wastes, a detailed framework on waste management will be developed based on the latest technology options available for adoption. Moreover, Water Resource Management Planning and Waste-Resource Management Planning will be in concurrence.”

6. The project proponent has agreed that “precise power distribution details for various phases with respect to total energy demand of 1,700 MW will be worked out at a later point of time. If possible, these details will be included in the Final EIA report.”

7. One of the responses says, “The fact that you felt the Draft EIA to be representing information on various sources of water to be haphazard is acknowledged. Improvements in the Final EIA report will be made, to represent water source details with quantity for various phases of project to the best extent possible”.

8. Regarding comments on sources of water, the response was, “While preliminary  feasibility is established, a detailed feasibility study is in the process of being commissioned to plan the proposed solution of further treating the treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants of Ahmedabad city and using it as a source for industrial grade water demand. Large environmental benefits are anticipated by further treating the wastewater from the sewage treatment plants of Ahmedabad.”

9. The Development Plan of Dholera SIR is prepared based on record of existing village map of the revenue department, which are old and not updated. The work of re-survey is done by the state government. After receiving new certified maps from the revenue department with necessary changes will be prepared.

10. The state government has initiated the exercise of resurvey in the entire area, and the process of record promulgation in 22 villages covered under Dholera SIR has been taken up. After completion of the same, the authority will take the necessary action.

11.  Regarding power requirement for the Dholera SIR, the response was, “Environmentally compatible power generation facilities to meet the power needs for Dholera SIR will be planned either within Dholera SIR and/or as part of the DMIC Development Corporation’s comprehensive power infrastructure augmentation plans for various DMIC nodes, including Dholera SIR.”

12. For about 15 km East of Bavaliyari village exists the Gulf of Khambhat, and this coastal area is experiencing chronic erosion due to tides, at an average rate of around 1 cm per day. The Mandvipura village near to Bavaliyari has already lost its gamtal due to such coastal erosion. This fact is also in the records of the revenue department. The response was, “The Development Plan of  Dholera SIR is prepared, based on the record of the existing village map of the revenue department. The work of re-survey is done by the state government. After receiving new certified maps from Revenue Department necessary changes will be done accordingly.”

93K phone tappings in 6 months? Gujarat has become a police state….


This is what I was really worried about. Apparently, the snooping on the girl in Gujarat was not a lone case. Firstpost.in reports  that as many as 93000 illegal mobile phone tappings took place in just six months in Gujarat between Dec 2012 and May 2013. Phone tappings may be a less severe form of surveillance than physical snooping itself, but surely there is a worrisome story here.

Firstpost.in adds “reports now say phone tapping has been rampant in Gujarat, with a DGP discovering this year that as many as 93,000 mobile phones’ call data records had been obtained without his knowledge since December 2012”. The web publisher further reports “A report in The Hindustan Times says agencies such as the Gujarat Police, the IB, the Anti-Terror Squad and the Crime Branch are all routinely conduct illegal surveillance, either for investigations or at the instance of their political bosses. The extent of snooping is so pervasive that Gujarat’s director general of police Amitabh Pathak (now deceased) was shocked to learn in May that his own police officials had obtained call detail records of as many as 93,000 mobile phone numbers without his knowledge since December 2012”.

Referring to the same report, Firstpost.in writes further “The report also quotes from an affidavit filed by former IPS officer RB Sreekumar before the Justice Nanavati Commission probing the 2002 riots case in which he states that he was asked to rap the phones of BJP leader Haren Pandya and Congress leader Shankersingh Vaghela”.

Firstpost.in then refers to a report in the TOI “This report in the Times of India published in 2005 quotes BJP MLA Gordhan Zadaphia complaining about the Modi government engaging in illegal tapping of phones of MLAs and MPs. The report also said intelligence officers believed that official taps on phones was time-consuming and required several levels of permissions. It becomes more fruitful in this scenario to take the service provider into confidence and come to an “unofficial arrangementthe report said”.

What is clear from all this is that the stalking case was not an isolated one. Abuse of the power to tap is rampant. Abuse of the state police machinery is rampant. What is the power used for? In part, to get political leverage. Apart from Haren Pandya and Shankersingh Vaghela, Keshubhai Patel was also reportedly as complaining about being snooped upon. Any surprises that Modi has been besting his political rivals one after another over the years? We now know why. He had access to confidential information about his rivals. “Ipsa scientia potestas est” (‘knowledge itself is power’) is one of the most powerful weapons in politics.

What is perhaps even more stinking than the stalking, snooping and phone tapping scam itself is the way the BJP has been mounting its defence of Modi and Shah. The defence speaks more about the mindset of the BJP supporters. Madhu Kishwar (who supports Modi almost 100% of the times, even though she is a journalist and expected to be unbiased) tweeted ““56 yr old officer under watch of government 4 criminal misdeeds misuses posn to sexually exploit woman yng enf to be grd dtr, parents shd say fine?”. What is she saying? That the girl has no rights of her own? They can be usurped by her father, as if he “possesses” her? Meenakshi Lekhi, spokesperson of the BJP, has made inane accusations about the Congress asking how the tapes got out. Arre, forget how the tapes got out. The point is why what happened, happened.

And where is the “protected” girl (the victim really) in all this? Why is she not coming out and saying what she has to say? Why is her father fronting for her all this time? What is she afraid of? Did the girl really know what was going on? Did she know that even the phones of her family members were being tapped? Did she know that there were cops put on the flight that she took when she traveled out of Ahmedabad? Did she know that cops were monitoring her interactions with friends, including men? All of this looks extremely unlikely.

The real truth is that this snooping episode, along with many others – the 2002 riots, the numerous illegal fake encounters, the murder of Haren Pandya after he turned a government baiter, the tampering with the judicial process forcing the SC to move cases out of the state, the harassment of bureaucrats who don’t toe the line, the failure to appoint (or strategy not to appoint) a Lok Ayukta for more than a decade and later amend the law itself using brute legislative majority to wrest power of the appointment process, the absence of an adequate number of RTI commissioners – all points to Gujarat having become a classic police state over Modi’s tenure. If this is part of Modi’s “Gujarat model”, I don’t want any part of it….

Narendra Modi runs a Website that justifies Gujarat Riots (GujaratRiots.com) through his IT Team


In the modern times, to carry out an organized religio-ethnic cleansing and then to get away despite the present day media watching every event is indeed a great feat by any Goebellian standards. Keeping aside the question as to who was the prime mover of the Gujarat pogrom, the recent pronouncements of the special courts trying the major cases of violence like Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya, Best Bakery, Sardarpura etc would undisputedly establish that the violence was lead by the saffron brotherhood. In the Naroda Patiya case, even the minister of Modi’s Government Mayaben Kodnani and the VHP leading activist like Babu Bajrangi etc have been convicted. Yet despite these and many other irrefutable evidence, the concerted effort by the rioters to paint the violence as a spontaneous reaction of the angry Hindu masses to the “barbaric” attack of the Muslims killing 59 Hindus in Godhra has found many takers and paid handsome dividends to BJP which presided over the violence.

The perception of the common man to willy-nilly accept the action-reaction theory was primarily because of the voluminous propaganda material that the rioters threw at the common man without any effective counter by the other political establishments in the country. We have tried to research the mode and manner adopted by the saffron brotherhood to dominate the cyberspace, and to our shock and surprise, we discovered that Narendra Modi through his closest aides has created a network of websites to disseminate propaganda on variety of topics and subjects.

India272.com, GujaratRiots.com, NitiCentral.com, BJPOne.com etc – All these websites are being run by Rajesh Jain’s team who is officially appointed by Narendra Modi to run his IT campaign. Their common roots can be seen from the fact that each one of these websites reside on the same server with the IP Address Rajesh Jain’s blog Emergic.Org is also one of these several sites sitting on this server. India272.com which is regularly endorsed by Narendra Modi on twitter also sits on this same server.

Modi’s speeches show his Congress phobia….


There was a joke going around on twitter yesterday which captures all of Narendra Modi’s speeches very effectively: Congress talks about Congress, Congress, Congress. Modi talks about Congress, Congress, Congress! And indeed, hidden in this innocuous banter, is the very real truth about Modi’s Congress phobia. The Congress phobia manifests itself in the form of “virulent attacks” on the party, just like inferiority complex often presents itself as superiority complex. The fact that this is a phobia is borne out by the continuing refusal of Modi to be interviewed by journalists – who could expose it.
Just look at just a few of Modi’s Congress-phobic utterances yesterday:
·        Congress did not name in PM candidate because…..(a plethora of pitiable reasons)
·        The Nehru-Gandhi family is anti-OBC. It suffers from “feudal mindset, casteist prejudices and sense of uniqueness”
·        Idea of India no one’s monopoly (in reference to Rahul’s assertion that Congress is an Idea genetically coded into India).
·        (Congress) cannot deign to compete with a tea hawker
·        They feel ashamed because while they have pedigree, I can only boast of my achievements
All the above statements are just from today’s TOI. There were countless other references in his speech yesterday. Obviously, thanks to all these Congress-phobic jabs, there was no time left for anything that would tell us what Modi’s vision for the country is. What eventually came out looked second grade, and mostly a continuance of what Congress has been practicing for a full decade now. Sample the following:
·        Rainbow model of governance. Focus on culture, agriculture, women, natural resources, youth, democracy, knowledge  (I mean seriously, this banal statement is all Modi could make?)
·        Black money stashed abroad to be brought back and used for poor (Ya, but how? Does Modi support the idea that all currency notes above Rs 50 should be scrapped? All cash transactions above Rs 2000 should be banned? How will he do more than what Chidambaram has done with Swiss and other governments?)
·        Shift healthcare focus from curative to preventive. Health assurance needed, not just health insurance (But this is exactly what the Congress’s National Health Missions are, no? Besides Modi hasn’t been able to deliver even the most basic of healthcare in his state – as borne out by the pathetic HDI figures; so how will he do so nationally?)
·        Price stabilization fund for inflation (Very little is known of this idea which is a problem by itself, but isn’t monetary policy the turf of the RBI? Or does Modi not know that?)
·        100 smart cities to be created (A continuation of Congress’s idea. Remember a large number of cities are being created under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Ditto under the Mum-Bangalore, Bangalore-Chennai and now Delhi-Kolkata corridors as well).
·        IITs, IIMs and AIIMS in every state (Again, a continuation of Congress’s vision – it has already created several new IITs/IIMs).
Yesterday, the papers carried the story that the BJP was going to continue with MNREGA and FSB as well. So really, where is the difference between the BJP’s vision from the Congress’s?
There isn’t. At least not in Modi’s tiny mind. What is in abundant supply in his mind however is rhetoric and there was plenty on display yesterday, like in all speeches
·        Govt dole, dole, dole ki baat karti hai, per govt bhi dol rahi hai(completely senseless; just a play of words; besides, how many people understand the word “dole” to mean subsidies?)
·        Since defeat looks inevitable, Sonia Gandhi decided to protect her son. No mother would like to sacrifice her son at the altar of politics (Arre, but Rahul is the one who will face the flak anyways. Besides, he has the guts to campaign in difficult states. Modi on the other hand refused to go to Karnataka).
·        Congressmen had come hoping they would get their PM candidate but they got three LPG cylinders instead (Honestly, the same could be said about Modi. People came hoping to hear his vision; all they got was more gas).
·        And of course the rhetoric on black money. This is such a bogey now, no one believes it. Its one of those issues that the BJP rakes up before every election, only to forget it later).
The highlight of Modi’s speech yesterday however was his retort to Mani Shanker Aiyer’s “tea boy” comment. Senseless and silly as that comment was, for that kind of personalized attack is really the BJP’s style, not the Congress’s, Modi’s retort was equally senseless and silly. He painted the Congress as being casteist. Now the BJP, which is a party of Brahmins – one that has grudgingly appointed an OBC as its PM candidate – shouldn’t call others casteist. Aakar Patel once wrote on how the entire top leadership of the RSS, BJP, and other Sangh outlets is comprised of Brahmins. If there is one party that is truly casteist, it has to be the BJP. But for Modi, who has earned the #feku tag, truth is an easily dispensable commodity. This is also borne out by his advice that “Non violence is the top dharma”. Really, Mr. Modi, you are saying this? And “all spiritual paths are the same”, but then Mr. Modi, why did you just introduce a bill (Freedom of Religion (amendment) bill) in your state that seeks to merge Jains into Hinduism? The Jains have strongly protested against this bill; even held dharnas. Why did you do this? Only to show Hindus to be a larger number than they are? Why do you have this Hindu-centric world view?

Poor educational standards in Gujarat? It’s because private schools are not “encouraged” enough: elite NGO



Why is Gujarat so “backward” in education? Blame it on government schools, and promote private schools. This is the new mission sought to be put forward by one of the most high profile education advocacy groups, Pratham, which has stolen the limelight all over India for its work with policy makers for the last about eight years. This, apparently, is the only reason why, it indicates (but does not say so directly referring to the state), that Gujarat’s educational standards are so poor. And, it seems to believe, it is not government schools which can come to the children’s rescue but only a rigorous emphasis on private schools. 
According to Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), brought out by Pratham on January 15, 2014, Gujarat’s performance in ensuring admission to its rural children at the primary level is worse than 11 out of 20 major states. While a mere three per cent Gujarat children in the age-group were recorded as “out of school”, only eight states performed worse than Gujarat on this score. Worse, the ASER found that the situation deteriorated for the girls in the age group 15-16 (higher secondary level), Gujarat’s 29.7 per cent girls were “out of school” compared to all other 19 major states (click HERE for details). 

The Pratham survey, which becomes the basis of the national policy makers to push through their educational programmes, also found that in quality of education, too, Gujarat has performed equally badly. Thus, it reveals that Gujarat’s 26.8 per cent of children studying in classes VI to VIII could do division sums, which is lower than all other states but two – Madhya Pradesh and Assam. Further, children of just four states studying in classes III to V were worse performers than Gujarat in carrying out subtractions. 
Things would not have been so bad, ASER tries to imply, had Gujarat emphasized on private schooling in rural areas. In rural Gujarat, 15.1 per cent children in the age group 6-14 go to private schools as against the “best performing state” in education, Kerala, where 68.6 per cent go to private schools. The national average of children going to private schools is double that of Gujarat – 29 per cent. Then, Gujarat’s children spend Rs 140 per month on tuition, as against Rs 231 in Kerala. Here, too, the national average is high – Rs 169. 
Data of poor standards of education, ASER data suggest, are particularly glaring in Gujarat’s government schools. Thus, in private schools, 33.6 per cent children of standard III could do subtraction, as against just 13.4 per cent in government schools. As for division, 32 per cent standard V children in private schools could do division, as against just 15 per cent in government schools. Similarly, in government schools, 39.9 per cent children of standard III could read standard I text, as against 57.5 per cent of private schools. 
And what is the “reason” Pratham seeks to offer in order to suggest things are really bad? The advocacy group, which virtually functions as a corporate house, fields Madhav Chavan, CEO, to say that government schools have failed to deliver, and will not deliver. To him, private schools, are the “panacea”. Chavan says, under government aegis, “elementary school system in India was expanding slowly for several decades”, adding, “It is no accident that by 2005 over 92 per cent children were enrolled in schools.” 
“But”, he points out, “Something else had begun to change. When ASER started measuring enrolment in 2005, the all-India rural private primary school enrolment was about 17 per cent. ASER seems to have caught a big change in its early stages – rural private school enrolment rose to 29 per cent by 2013. Ironically, after the Indian Parliament declared that it would provide free and compulsory education to all children, the pace of enrolment in private schools quickened.” This, he suggests, has resulted in school education looking up.
“ASER 2013 indicates that although the proportion of families owning TV has not changed over the past five years (54 per cent in 2013), the proportion of those among TV owners who have access to cable TV has gone up from 36 per cent in 2010 to 79 per cent in 2013. That is, nearly 43 per cent of all rural households have cable or direct to home TV. Half of these families send their children to government schools today and may shift to private schools if they become accessible”, he says, adding, this is because “we have a clear failure of government schools to deliver or even basic achievements in learning.” 
Further: “There is a need to urgently deal with the trend of enrollment in private schools in urban and rural areas. Banning private schools or even curtailing them is no more a democratic option unless a visibly better government school alternative can be presented. By introducing 25% reservation for economically weaker sections, the Right to Education (RTE) Act has in fact opened the door for unaided schools being aided by the government. There is no reason why government-aided and privately managed schools cannot be encouraged further”.
Arguing thus, Pratham does not recall even once that private schools are refusing admission to children from the poorer, weaker sections (read HERE). On the contrary, he thinks that “the segregation of children, even among the poorer sections, into those who go to government schools and those who attend private schools is socially undesirable and the option of government-aided and privately managed schools which function autonomously can in fact help create schools where all children can go to school together.” 
Chavan underlines, “States where nearly half the rural population and considerably larger urban population send their children to private schools could lead the way in this matter. Discussions being held at different international platforms suggest that the next Millennium Development Goals for education will be much more focused on measurable learning outcomes.” This, thinks, can be done by discarding the view that the government schools can deliver: “ASER maintains that learning outcomes, especially in the government schools in most states, are poorer today than they were a few years ago.”

Gujarat’s anti-Modi topcop Sanjiv Bhatt says may not join AAP, wants it to come clean on secularism, Modi


Gujarat’s topcop Sanjiv Bhatt, who was suspended for taking up cudgels against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, may not join the Aam Admi Party (AAP), which has begun to attract influential sections of civil society in India and Gujarat. Taking part in an internal discussion in Ahmedabad, Bhatt told a senior AAP activist that there is still “no clarity” in AAP’s ideological leanings, especially on issues of secularism and communal riots. “I have yet to hear AAP taking a stance on the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, though they took place after the party was formed. It uttered no word about it during the Delhi elections”, he said.

“The difference between the BJP and the AAP remains blurred – while the BJP follows gutter politics, the AAP has still not come out of its extremely commonplace paan-galla politics”, Bhatt, who was rumoured to have joined AAP for quite some time, declared. While recognizing that the fledgling Gujarat unit of AAP, led by social activist Sukhdev Patel, was clearly “anti-Modi”, Bhatt said, “The party’s Central leaders give no such clue.” 
Taking on Kumar Vishwas, who has declared himself as AAP’s candidate against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Amethi, Bhatt said, “He has praised Modi in past. There is still no word from him on Modi’s role in communal riots.” Bhatt also said that AAP’s most important leader, Arvind Kejriwal, himself has not criticized Modi after the latter was declared the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. “While we know the views of other AAP leaders, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, Kejriwal remains silent on contentious issues.”
Kejriwal said, “I know Kejriwal personally. I handed over to him all the facts on Modi’s corruption. It took him three months to address a press conference on December 4, 2012, ahead of the Gujarat state assembly polls, saying that “if Congress is Mukesh Ambani’s dukaan, then is Modi government Adani’s dukaan”. He informed the meeting, which took place at a guest house in the centre of the city that not only Kejriwal “sat” on the facts he had handed over to Kejriwal for three long months. 
“At the fag-end of the press conference, Kejriwal was asked who gave him facts. His answer surprised me. He named me, but added, he was surprised why I did not hand over facts to the Congress, on whose ticket my wife, Shweta, was fighting polls against Narendra Modi from Maninagar”, Bhatt said, adding, “It is also not clear who is AAP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Kejriwal does not seem to be keen to be announced one, despite pressures on him.”
During the meeting, it was pointed out that there was “enough evidence” to suggest Kerjiwal does not want to take up a stance on communalism. “Before addressing a TV interview, had sent a chit where he said no questions should be addressed on communalism. The interview did take place, and the moment the interviewer shot questions on Muzaffarnagar riots, Kejriwal cut it short and walked out”, it was pointed out. 
Bhatt’s reservations on AAP have come to light in less than a week after top danseuse Mallika Sarabhai’s similar views on AAP’s Kumar Vishwas. Sarabhai, who has just joined AAP, kicked up a row by criticizing Vishwas for praising Modi. Taking on Vishwas on multiple fronts, Sarabhai sought clarification from Vishwas over latter’s glorifying remarks on the Gujarat CM in which he had been compared to a Hindu deity by the poet-turned-politician. “He compared Modi to Shivji, I want to know was it a paid performance.” 
She added, “His attitude towards women, homosexuals and minorities is very problematic,” Sarabhai said, adding, “He comes across as sexist and antigay, and has an anti-minority point of view, and at the same time praises Narendra Modi.” At the same time, she added, AAP is the “most positive thing to happen in many decades and takes democracy back to the people.” He comments came even as senior AAP leaders in Gujarat said they also wanted “clarification” from the Central leaders on what they think of Vishwas. “There is already a huge criticism of Vishwas on AAP’s Facebook page”, a senior activist said.

Gujarat govt’s “cash for land” format for Narmada oustees boomerangs, protests break out in Alirajpur



Fresh indications have emerged that the cash-again-land scheme, “worked out” for the Narmada dam oustees of Mahdya Pradesh (MP) as rehabilitation package by Gujarat government a decade ago allegedly to get over the “scarcity of land” problem in MP, has boomeranged. The National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM), an apex body of tens of civil rights groups across India, has informed that “hundreds of adivasis and farmers, representing the oustees affected by the Sardar Sarovar and Jobat dam projects in the Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh stormed the office of collector NP Deheria and engaged in a day-long protest, demanding the immediate of 40 adivasis, including six women.”
Gujarat government provided the “cash against land” scheme framework in the hope that the oustees’ problem would be resolved, and it would be able to begin further raise the Sardar Sardar Narmada dam’s current height from 121.94 metres to the full reservoir level, 138.64 metres, early. Under the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award, it is obligatory to complete rehabilitation of the oustees before the dam’s height is raised at every stage. Clearance for raising the dam comes from the inter-state body, Narmada Control Authority (NCA) only after ascertaining that the rehabilitation has been completed. 
But, apparently, this has not succeeded, and a dispute has broken out in MP’s affected areas. In a statement, the NAPM said, “the protesters were arrested on January 5 from the site of the Zameen Haq Satyagraha at Jobat”, adding, “They were stopped at the gates of the collectorate by a large contingent of armed police brought in from Alirajpur, Badwani, Dhar and Thandla, while the women, men, elderly and youth tried to barge inside for a dialogue with the collector. The women demanded that their family members must be immediately released, otherwise they would sit on an indefinite protest at the collectorate.”
The district collector, who came down to talk with the protesters, kept repeating that as “the oustees did not want land, they were being paid compensation”, the NAPM said, adding, contradicting the claim, provided by the Narmada authorities of the Madhya Pradesh government, the oustees’ representatives said, the “illegal submergence in the hilly villages of Sardar Sarovar began in 1994 and submergence in Jobat began in 2003. Till date, cultivable, irrigable, suitable and un-encroached land has not been provided to the affected families.”
Pointing out that “the only land offered to the SSP-affected adivasis was bad, uncultivable, encroached land, which is in utter violation of law and orders of the Supreme Court”, the statement added, “The Jobat Satyagraha is one of the longest non-violent, occupation struggles in recent history and has been resorted to by the oustees after umpteen attempts of petitioning, court cases and mass action by the adivasis. The oustees have been cultivating the land and have also reaped three harvests on this land.”
Over the last two weeks “notices were being issued to the oustees to vacate the land, else they would be forcibly evicted”, the statement informed, adding, “Replies to these notices and appeal for a concrete dialogue were not responded to by the authorities and a brutal eviction drive ensued.” Even Afroz Ahmed, director, rehabilitation, NCA, and Kantilal Bhuria, former tribal affairs minister, Government of India also visited the satyagraha and engaged in dialogue with the oustees.”
“Ahmed assured to raise the matter with the rehabilitation sub-group, Delhi, after which a direction was issued by the sub-group in its meeting on September 12, 2013 to the Madhya Pradesh government to offer government farm lands in rehabilitation”, NAPM said, adding, “The arrests have been made seemingly under Section 151 Cr PC. i.e. ‘causing disturbance to peace in the area’, while the oustees were in the farm land and there was absolutely nothing they did to disturb peace in the locality.”
“While in Sardar Sarovar, many hilly adivasis have not accepted any cash compensation, most of the Jobat Dam advasi oustees being illiterate, their signatures were taken on affidavits and were paid very meagre cash compensation, many years ago and the’, the NAPM said, adding, “The oustees have submitted a police complaint under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 demanding legal action against all the concerned officers for arresting the adivasis, evicting them for the land, causing destruction of the standing crop at the Satyagraha and submergence of their lands and homes, without lawful rehabilitation.”