Dear Reader,

The surveillance of citizens by governments has always been a looming threat to privacy and personal freedom. The commercialisation of spyware, combined with huge strides in technology, makes it easier and more tempting for governments to turn on the heat. In the firing line are journalists, activists and political opponents.

Even if not fully understood, the consequences of the increasing sophistication and ready availability of spyware are writ large. In this context, MediaNama analyses a Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) study, released last week, on the consequences of commercial surveillance vendors' (CSVs) operations on the governments' ability to intervene surreptitiously in a citizen's life and liberty.

Every government, whatever its hue, is allergic to criticism. The present government is no different. Scalded by flak from some members of the Indian diaspora, the government has reacted by cancelling the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards of over a hundred such critics.

This was revealed in a response by the Union Home Ministry to an RTI application filed by Article 14. The government, the story says, is increasingly using Section 7D of The Citizenship Act, which gives "arbitrary powers" to the state to revoke OCI cards of those it is unable to see eye-to-eye with. Meanwhile, the Section has been challenged in the Supreme Court by a group of eighty overseas Indians and is pending before the Court.

Wayanad, in Kerala, has seen a spate of events involving human-animal conflict. This has raised a fierce debate in the public space on ways to reduce such skirmishes. In 2017, under public pressure, the state government appointed a 'People's Vigil Committee' – a collective of representatives from civic bodies, forest department officers and local people to mitigate and lessen the frictions. Keraleeyam Masika looks at the functioning of this Committee, its efficacy and its weaknesses.

And, a familiar story from Bihar, where a primary school in Saur block of Saharsa district sanctioned in 2014, is yet to get a roof a decade later. Umpteen petitions to the government have gone unheeded. However, in an unfamiliar twist, faced with the children's education coming to a hard stop, the villagers got together, pooled money and resources, and built the school themselves. मैं मीडिया brings you this bittersweet tale.

For more such stories from the grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Google's Threat Analysis Group Publishes Report On How Commercial Surveillance Vendors Operate

The increasing sophistication and commercialisation of surveillance technology and its use by governments pose a real threat to citizens' privacy. MediaNama analyses a recent study.

Read Here

How The Modi Govt Is Trying To Silence Critics In The Diaspora By Banning Them From India

Stung by criticism from certain members of the overseas Indian community, the government has cancelled over a hundred OCI cards, an RTI application by Article 14 reveals.

Read Here

മൃഗങ്ങളും മനുഷ്യരും കൊല്ലപ്പെടാതിരിക്കാൻ വഴികളുണ്ട്

Keraleeyam Masika reports on the frequent incidents of human-animal conflict in Kerala's Wayanad and examines the efficacy of the efforts at the local level to involve the citizens in mitigating the situation.

Read Here

सरकार से नाउम्मीद ग्रामीण खुद चंदा कर बना रहे हैं सरकारी स्कूल का भवन

मैं मीडिया reports that a decade after the government failed to build a sanctioned primary school in Saharsa in Bihar, the villagers have taken it upon themselves to make one.

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More from the grantees
Manipur's Women's Shoulder Responsibilities
Amidst the raging civil war in Manipur, young women are rallying to help the stricken and the afflicted, even as they reach out across the ethnic divide, The Citizen reports.
भोपाल के झुग्गी वासियों को नहीं मिला 'पीएम आवास योजना' का लाभ
Despite some successes, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U) funding for houses for the urban poor has not touched all the intended beneficiaries. The Mooknayak reports from Bhopal.
आदिवासी भाषा पर संघर्ष
In Tripura, the government's insistence that students use the Bengali script for the tribal Kokborok language in the exams, as opposed to the Roman script, has created unrest, reports मैं भी भारत.
The battle of backwardness within backwardness'
Last week, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on a case to decide if "sub-classifications" within the Scheduled Caste category are permissible. The Supreme Court Observer explains the significance of the case.

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