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Himachal’s small farmers reach Secretariat to stage 24 hour protest to stop eviction, claim community forest rights, (PICS)




SHIMLA- On Tuesday, Himachal Kisan Sabha(HSK) and Himachal Seb Utbadak Sangh (HSUS),and HP Fruits and Vegetables Growers Association held a protest in front of HP Secretariat in Chotta Shimla seeking amendments in Forest Conservation Act 1980 and implementation of Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) to provide relief to small farmers as promised by the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. HSK president Kuldip Tanwar and state president, HSUS, Rakesh Singha showered allegations against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.


When Indian government faced conflict between its forest conservation laws and tribal people and traditional dwellers living in Indian forests, it passed the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) to solve the problem. The rights of forest and its resources were given to the dweller community instead of evicting people after declaring them encroachers. Lakhs of hectares of encroached land was regularized across India. Most of the Indian states provided relief to agrarian and traditional dwellers in forests by implementing the FRA 2006 act.


Surprisingly, the Himachal Pradesh Government didn’t implement it, saying the state doesn’t need it. The state government was informed regarding the shortcoming of not adopting the new regulations, but it didn’t bother to implement it.


Now, the surveys tell that states where forest rights are given to community or in states that implemented FRA 2006, the forest conservation has become easier task as entire community/villages take responsibility for its protection because its resources are their livelihood. It’s working fantastic across India.

Shimla City Police

HP Govt. can still adopt it and provide relief, at least, to small farmers, and that is why these farmers are forced stage protests, which aren’t being heard either. In a democratic state where people had elected its representatives in hope that they would understand and safeguard their rights, the government is allowing eviction of families and axing of fruit-laden, green apple trees.

That’s why the farmers are protesting and it’s quite justified because it’s been 14 years since the FRA 2006 was passed and the deserving dwellers are not given relief under it. The reason is simple – the shortsightedness of our politicians.

Virbhadra himself had disagreed with HP High Court’s orders and, time to time, promised small farmers that policy would be introduced to regularize land encroached by small, poor farmers. In fact, the communities have filed claims for their rights and according to the FRA 2006, no farmer can be eviction until the court doesn’t dispose all the claims.

HP Fruits and Vegetabels Growers Association

In April 2014, The Himachal Pradesh High Court had ordered eviction of farmers from encroached forest land after which the forest department had started felling green apple trees laden with season’s crop. Electricity and water supply to homes of encroachers were also suspended. No surprise, the forest department started with evicting small farmers with 1-2 bigha land, but it didn’t dare to touch VIP fish sitting on hundreds of bigha forest land.

Chhota Shimla protest

After farmer unrest, Virbhadra Singh had said in HP Assembly that his government was democratically elected and had the powers to legislate or amend any law and restraining the government from formulating or revising a policy was contrary to the Constitution. He had further added,

I do not personally agree with the High Court order of removal of all encroachments but there is no question of any confrontation with the judiciary, as executive, legislature and judiciary have their own demarcated areas of jurisdiction. However, I am of the firm opinion that the policy for small and marginal farmers and big encroachers should be separate and the two sections should not be clubbed There is no such discrimination and if at all it is being done then I assure that strict action will be taken against the erring officials.

In August 2015, the CM had constituted a high-power committee to look after the matter and had assured formulation of a policy to safeguard interests of small, poor farmers as soon as possible. Small farmers were told that their encroached land would be regularized. However, nothing was done, and that’s why now the farmers are forced to stage regular protests including the present two-day protest to secretariat.


The Kisan Sabha alleged that the government could have represented the farmers in High Court better, but it didn’t bother to do so, which doesn’t make any sense. What’s wrong with the government and the CM? The only reason appears to play politics by ignoring the protest because CPI(M) and Communist leaders are representing these farmers. Choosing politics over people’s livelihood and shelter is a really bad choice and it’ll backfire in assembly polls 2017

Farmers were also disappointed with government for its negligence of farmer hunger strike in Tihra, Dharampur that has entered 42 day. The farmers are protesting for a number of genuine demands including solution for wild animal menace, construction of public toilets. Even opposition BJP was herd mocking at the farmers.


While the agrarian section, especially small farmers are in unrest, the government is busy in mud-slinging and BJP couldn’t do anything better than walking out of assembly session, like always. So, who is left to represent these small farmers, some of which were cultivating on encroached land for past many decades?


Same is the case with laborers protesting for their pending wages and rights at Shongtong-Karcham project. The labor laws are being flaunted openly by the company, but the government has chosen to assist the company in suppressing their protesting voices. Every time the laborers try to protest, administration imposes Section 144 to suppress it.

Clearly, Himachal need to vote for right people who are actually looking to provide solutions instead of complicating them by playing politics.


Shimla Police

pedestrian path-Shimla

HP Secretariat

HP Police Force


Campus Watch

Bahra University and Siemens to run engineering course jointly




SHIMLA- Solan based privately owned Bahra University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with industrial giant Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited (SISW). The tie up will enable University to set up Siemens Certified Professional Learning Center at its campus.

Suman Bose, Managing Director & CEO for Siemens and Dr. SK Bansal, Vice-Chancellor Bahra University signed the MoU at University campus.

Elaborating on the benefits of the MoU Dr. Bansal said the University will start a new batch of 4-year integrated B.Tech, Mechanical with specialization in Design and Development program at their campus.

Dr. Bansal said the above course will be driven to produce industry ready engineers around broad specializations in industry 4.0 and Smart Factory, design and development, manufacturing and computer aided analysis. He said

Students successfully completing the course per stipulated guidelines will be awarded B.Tech Mechanical degree through the University and Certificate of Merit for the opted specialization in Design and Development through Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited,

Suman Bose assured to provide assistance to arrange for internship for students of University and also promised to assist in arranging industry projects for the students and endeavor to conduct conference and seminars in the University.

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Creative Corner

Himachal’s award winning filmmaker Ajay Saklani shares his journey with Himachal Watcher




SHIMLA- It is often said, every great dream begins with a dreamer. One must always remember that one has within self the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Keeping in mind the same talented Ajay Saklani hailing from a remote village Sihan, district Mandi of Himachal Pradesh, made the state proud not at national but even at international level by bagging two international awards during screening of his film Saanjh – a Himachali feature film at THE BORREGO SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL (held in California, USA) where it was chosen as the Best Feature Film among 750 other entries from around the globe was and “Award of merit” at Accolade Global Film Competition.


Ajay hails from a very humble background and showed people that one should be the flame and not the moth as having passed out from a government school his dream to achieve recognition not just for self but even for state and country.

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Sharing his journey to fame he with Himachal Watcher’s Community Member, Ritanjali Hastir, Ajay said,

My father was in army and he dreamt about me too following his footsteps. However, I was more inclined towards filmmaking that led me to taste the magic of theatre world.

As they say follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams so without any knowledge and guidance on filmmaking, Ajay shifted to Delhi in 2005.


There he joined RGB 4:3 Productions and learned the basics of filmmaking from Surender Sagar. He started his career as an editor and worked with some more production houses and few TV channels like Shakti TV, MH One Music, PTC Punjabi, Day & Night News to name.

His first documentary ‘Dyalee – a fading glory’ in 2006 in my village which helped him learn filmmaking basics. His second documentary ‘Upaasmar – The Taste of Hunger’ in 2011 was shot in the tribal areas of Maharashtra raising the issue of Malnutrition deaths in India and finally in 2014 after coming back to Himachal his own production company Silent Hills Studio in Hamirpur came into existence.

“With ‘Saanjh’ production I wanted to make a technical sound film that can compete with other films in the cinema halls. I hope that my work can inspire other filmmakers too and together we can promote Himachali cinema by providing with the quality work in future,” he shared.

“I feel that it was a film that fell in Art as well as Entertainment genre that made it touch hearts at the international level. As normally if we talk about Himachali Cinema, there is no such Cinema as of today in Himachal. Only a few films were produced till now and because of poor technical and creative work, those films could not make it to cinema halls or any film festivals around the country or world”, he expresses.

“Many people outside the state felt embarrassed considering the sad quality of music videos which fail to ravish visual or hearing senses; as they are also judged with the same rod. Recently some singers have given a ray of hope as they came forward with different music and quality videos. Many other singers from the state but they are all focused on Hindi and Punjabi music”, Ajay added as he contemplated on the situations one has to face considering the previous track records.


He further feels, “Cinema on the other hand is still untouched. As in 2011 Sanjeev Rattan’s ‘Dil Ch Vaseya Koi’ even won the National Award but due to the technical issues, the film failed to make it to cinema halls.Some filmmakers are coming up with great ideas for short films but again they are also focused on Hindi language. I believe until all these people don’t start making Pahari(Himachali)language films, there is no support for any kind of cinematic development in Himachal. Recently Siddarth Chauhan made a mark with his latest work and I feel happy that his next project is in Himachali language. It seems like a beginning of a new era for Himachali Cinema that has been neglected from a long time.”

“There is a great potential in Himachal and I receive a lots of calls everyday where people want to enter into acting or filmmaking and looking for guidance. But to their eagerness alone won’t do wonders we do need government support as well like in other states. The only exciting announcement is the financial support upto 10 lakh for filmmakers but only for short films and documentaries which again needs running from pillar to post and I can say is a herculean task. Exempting new cinema halls from tax for first three years is not taking filmmakers anywhere but support for film production in the state is better option which will also help in generating more and more tourism revenue.”

“Talking about my experience while making ‘Saanjh’ was a very difficult journey. Finding a producer or financier for a film in Himachali dialect was most difficult part. On the other hand our Himachal government doesn’t provide any kind of support for filmmaking in the state but expect a lot for the youth. Making people believe in me our project wasn’t easy,” shared Ajay as he keeps his view on talent promotion.

“As per his message he says My upbringing gave me deep insight into our culture and after coming back I realized a drastic change people in my village were trying to talk to in Hindi and the kids were being taught the Hindi and English words and were given punishment for talking in their own language. All our festivals were in disappearing stage and people had surrendered their traditions in the name of development. Actors feel ashamed to work in a Himachali film so very few actors turned out for auditions and they are happy to become part of crowd when a director from Mumbai.”

“I feel that as we don’t have a recognized language and we don’t have our own script to preserve the sounds of our language so there seems no way for the development of literature in our state. But yes, Cinema and Music can help in development of language & culture and it can take forward our traditional heritage. So this is very much important for us to have our own cinema and quality music. In all these years I learned the cinema, music and literature play a significant role in the development of language and culture and so we need to come forward and give Himachal its due respect,” he concludes.

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Himachal now ahead of Kerala in quality education in Govt schools: ASE Report 2016




SHIMLA- Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-2016 in its 11th Annual Report released in New Delhi confirmed that Himachal Pradesh now stood ahead of Kerala in the field of quality education in schools. The survey indicated that government schools of the state were leading and doing better than other states in terms of learning outcomes.

State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan,Ghanshyam Chand said that ASER was the largest annual household survey of the children in India that focused on status of schooling and basic learning. ASER visited almost 15,630 government schools in rural India. In Himachal Pradesh 283 schools were visited during the survey. As many as 15 organizations participated in ASER-2016 across the state.

The report ASER-2016 found enrolment rate of students in the age group 6 to 14 in Himachal Pradesh to be 99.8 per cent. The State secured first rank in achieving learning outcomes in basic reading and mathematics across the country.

In language category the achievement level of government schools of Himachal Pradesh was 65.3 per cent as compared to the national level of 41.6 per cent. In mathematics the achievement level of the state was 47.4 per cent as compared to the national level of 21.1 per cent. The government schools have performed better than private schools throughout the state in mathematics.

In learning of English language, significant improvement was observed in the State. At national level the achievement status is 15.3 per cent whereas it is 44 per cent in case of Himachal Pradesh. In English the State stands at 5th position.

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