Gujarat- Voice of Victims #Narendramodi


Frontline- May17,2013

GUJARAT CHIEF MINISTER NARENDRA MODI’S SPIN doctors have been portraying him as the new messiah of the country. In their enthusiasm to project him as the next Prime Minister, they even claim that he has appeased the minorities (read Muslims), and that they have apparently begun to accept him as a leader worth reckoning.

But the ground reality is something else. “If he becomes the Prime Minister, he will turn the country into another Gujarat. He is the country’s biggest enemy. He does not believe in democracy, peace, communal harmony or anything that India stands for. He has brought so much suspicion and distrust in Gujarat that he will ruin the country,” says Yusuf Pathan, a survivor of the 2002 communal riots in Mehsana district. “Modi is no messiah. Whatever development is seen in Gujarat has come from the Central government. He is fooling everyone by making them believe it is he who is taking Gujarat forward.”

The majority of Muslims across Gujarat will concur with Pathan’s views. Frontlinetravelled to several parts of the State to understand the condition of the minority communities, particularly Muslims, who are perhaps the most persecuted community in Gujarat, and check the veracity of the development claims.

Whether it is access to housing, employment and education or the exercise of fundamental rights, Muslims, who constitute about 9 per cent of the population, are marginalised or treated as second-class citizens. The injustices done to them are so blatant that it is hard to believe that Modi has any desire to appease these sections.

There are plenty of indicators to prove that Gujarat under Modi has no place for minorities. Several recent reports and analyses show that the Muslims of Gujarat are among the poorest and most discriminated against community in the country. Additionally, the employment of tactics such as amending laws to suppress the community establishes Modi’s agenda.

 

 

The Chief Minister sought to curb the freedom of choice of religion by passing the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Law, 2003. This law stipulates that anyone wanting to convert to another religion must take the state’s permission. In 2009, he introduced an amendment to the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, purportedly to check illegal transfer of property in the communally sensitive areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

The law essentially requires people from one religion to take permission from the state to sell their property if the buyer is from another religion. Modi has ensured that Muslims and other minorities do not benefit from the various Central government schemes. He sought to prevent the implementation of the Centre’s pre-matriculation scholarship scheme for students from minority communities. The scholarships were not disbursed in Gujarat because Modi felt it would be discriminatory against other religions. Gujarat has been allotted 55,000 scholarships of which 53,000 are for deserving Muslim students. On February 15, the Gujarat High Court, hearing a bunch of public interest petitions, ruled in favour of the scheme.

The danger of having Modi at the helm is that he will divide and rule, because that is the only language he knows, people belonging to the minority community say.

Pathan lost 11 of his family members in the post-Godhra riots at Dipda Darwaza in Mehsana district. This was one of the nine cases into which a further probe was conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). In July 2012, a special court convicted 21 people for rioting and attempt to murder in the Dipda Darwaza case. Pathan earns a living by running a paan shop in Visnagar in Mehsana district. Several riot-affected families have been provided some manner of housing by the relief committees. But, relief and employment and education opportunities are still not available for the victims.

“Though they have been given houses, there are no amenities. There are open sewers and water stagnates in them. One tap has been provided for running water, but it is defunct,” Pathan says. The majority of Muslims in this area are poor. They work as farmhands or as manual labourers at construction sites. Some of them take up odd jobs in small industrial units.

“Whoever wants Modi to become the Prime Minister wants the country to be ruined,” says Abid Khan, who works in a timber yard and also drives an autorickshaw. “Modi does not listen to the poor. He only listens to the rich Muslims who only have their business interests in mind.”

“What has Modi done in the name of development? The human development index of Gujarat is declining,” says Iqbal Sheikh, who is also a complainant in the Dipda Darwaza case.

 

 

An hour’s drive from Visagar is Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district where families of victims in the Sardarpura massacre have been provided protected housing. This small colony, tucked away from the main highway, has 22 families. Here again there is no sanitation or regular electricity or water supply. About 10 people live in each 10×10 feet room. This small lane of houses borders the Dalit colony on the fringes of the village, and those familiar with the caste system will realise that this is nothing but social exclusion.

“You have visited us before. Nothing has changed since then,” says Basheera Bibi, who lost her husband in the riots. “There is still no public health clinic in the vicinity. The only school, which has up to class VIII, is located far away. We work in the fields. But this year, the agriculture season has been very bad.”

Abdul Khan, a 40-year-old labourer from Himmatnagar, says, since the area is affected by drought there is no work throughout the year. Our rozi roti [daily bread] depends on daily wage employment. For this we have to travel quite far. If I am lucky I earn Rs.50 a day.”

Discriminated by the state

A report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), authored by Abusaleh Shariff in 2011, sums up the discrimination best. The report explores “the relative development of Gujarat, followed by the socio-religious differentials in the standard of living in the State”. Shariff, who has drawn data from the National Sample Survey Organisation, the Sachar Committee report and the Reserve Bank of India, provides some crucial and telling statistics that testify to the fact that Muslims in Gujarat are marginalised largely because of state policies.

Says the report: “Poverty amongst the urban Muslims is eight times (800 per cent) higher than high-caste Hindus, about 50 per cent more than the Hindu-Other Backward Classes and the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes [S.Cs/S.Ts]. Note that over 60 per cent of all Gujarati Muslims live in urban areas and they are the most deprived social group in Gujarat. On the other hand, rural poverty amongst the Muslims is two times (200 per cent) more than high-caste Hindus.”

He observes that educationally, Muslims are the most deprived community in Gujarat. A mere 26 per cent reach the level of matriculation, whereas the proportion for others, except the S.Cs/S.Ts, is 41 per cent. A large number of Muslim pupils drop out around class V. A disturbing trend was noticed in respect of higher education. Muslims who had the same level of education as other categories in the past are left behind compared with even S.Cs/S.Ts. A startling fact revealed by the study is that upper-caste Hindus have benefited the most from the public provisioning of higher education in recent years.

 

 

On the employment front, it found that a larger number of Muslims in Gujarat are self-employed or do petty trade. Self-employment and petty trade have shown only a marginal income growth in the past two decades in comparison with other sectors of the economy. In Gujarat, foreign direct investments and public investments are channelled into the organised sector where Muslims do not find employment.

Shariff says it must be noted that Muslims generally have better employment opportunities in State public sector enterprises across India, whereas in Gujarat they do not have access to organised and public sector employment.

“There exists deep-rooted poverty and income inequality in Gujarat. Putting the Muslim situation in this larger framework, the empirical evidence suggests that relative to other States and relative to other communities, Muslims in Gujarat are facing high levels of discrimination and deprivation,” he says.

Sophia Khan, a women’s rights activist in Ahmedabad, says, “All the challenges remain the same. Just because there is no visible violence on the streets does not mean that we are not targeted.” She says the issue is about internally displaced people. Severe polarisation has happened during Modi’s tenure and this will continue because he has ensured distrust between communities.

There are few options by way of leadership for Gujarat’s Muslims. Sophia Khan says it is unfortunate that the community cannot mobilise itself, find a voice and provide some able leaders. She says it is inaccurate to say that Muslims are voting the BJP. Where they are a minority, they have no option, mostly because there is no alternative. However, she says, Juhapura, which has three lakh Muslims, is a case in point. The area, which was a ghetto providing refuge to riot-affected people, has become a suburb of Ahmedabad and looks after the needs of the city’s Muslims, who, over a period of time, have literally been hounded out of “Hindu areas”.

She says the BJP fielded a retired Muslim Indian Police Service officer from Juhapura in the Assembly elections, but he lost. “This shows that we will not vote the BJP even if they put up a Muslim candidate. Modi will soon realise the country does not consist of only Gujarati middle class. He does not understand or follow the Constitution. How can he become the Prime Minister?”

In fact, in Modi’s Gujarat, even Christians, Dalits and S.Ts are not spared. For instance, Gujarat’s Christian population is 0.53 per cent. Even that is a threat to the Chief Minister.

The human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash told Frontline: “Christians in Gujarat [especially those who are from the tribal communities or belong to the backward classes] are subject to intimidation and harassment. Recently, the police visited one of our spiritual centres demanding to see the baptism register. This does not happen anywhere else in the country.”

On Easter Sunday, a huge right-wing Hindu rally demanding that Gujarat be declared a Hindu state by 2015 was held in Maninagar, Modi’s constituency, he said.

The plight of the minorities in the State never seems to improve.

 

 

 

The Reality behind Gujarat Model and Narendra Modi #mustshare


By Pravada Meethal, Facebook

Did you know ?

• Wages
The wage rates of casual and regular workers of both men and women workers in rural and urban areas are very low compared to other States. As per the latest National Sample Survey Office statistics, the daily wage rates of casual men and women workers in rural areas are lower than the corresponding rates in India, with the State ranking 14th (Rs.69) and ninth (Rs.56) in men’s and women’s wage rates respectively among the major 20 States. In the case of urban casual workers’ daily wages, the State ranked seventh (Rs.109) and 14th (Rs.56) for male and female wage rates. In the case of regular rural workers also the State ranked 17th (Rs.152) and ninth (Rs.108) in the male and female wage rates respectively. The corresponding ranks for urban areas are 18th (Rs.205) and 13th (Rs.182) respectively among the major 20 States in India. According to NSSO 2011 figures about 98 per cent of the women workers and about 89 per cent of the male workers in the State are engaged in informal work .

• Nutrition
The NFHS-3 tells us that 47 per cent of children below the age of three in the State were underweight. That figure was 45 per cent in NFHS-2. That’s about twice the average for sub-Saharan Africa. It is also marginally higher than the nationwide average of 46 per cent. The percentage of Gujarat’s children who are ‘wasted’ also went up from 16 to 17 per cent between the two NFHS surveys
According to statistics from a report of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, “Children in India, 2012—A Statistical Appraisal”, between 40 and 50 per cent of children in Gujarat are underweight, which bursts one more myth in Gujarat’s story of growth. Other States in this low weight category are Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Human Development Report 2011 said around half of Gujarat’s children were malnourished.

• Gujarat is the 7th worst state in adult men having a body mass index of less than 18.5.

Infant mortality :
Infant mortality is high in Gujarat, which ranks 11th countrywide in the rate of decline of infant mortality. According to “Children in India, 2012”, the infant mortality rate in Gujarat was still high, with 44 fatalities of infants per 1,000 live births.
In its 2012 State-wise report, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said, “Almost every second child in Gujarat under the age of five years is undernourished and three out of four are anaemic. Infant and maternal mortality rates have reduced very slowly in the last decade…. One mother in three in Gujarat struggles with acute under-nutrition….”

• child marriage :
Gujarat ranks fourth in reported cases of child marriage.

• School dropout rate : United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) statistics show that Gujarat ranks 18th when it comes to success in keeping children in schools. 59% school drop out

• The school life expectancy of children in Kerala (which ranks first) is 11.33 years, while that of children in Gujarat is 8.79 years.

• percentage of reduction of poverty :
Statistics of the NSSO show that the percentage of reduction of poverty between 2004 and 2010 was the lowest in Gujarat, at 8.6 per cent.

• Water:
According to Census 2011, 43 per cent of the rural households in Gujarat get water supply on their premises and 16.7 per cent get treated water from a common tap

• Toilets:
The data show that 67 per cent of rural households in the State have no access to toilets and members of more than 65 per cent of the households defecate in the open, very often polluting common water sources. Waste collection and disposal are matters practically unheard of. The State ranks 10th in the use of latrines

• Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI):
Anything over 70 on this index is considered to have crossed critical levels, that is, the pollution exceeds the capacity of the environment to handle it and it becomes a dangerous health hazard. According to statistics from the Central Pollution Control Board, Ankleshwar and Vapi in Gujarat top the list of 88 severely polluted industrial areas in India. Ankleshwar has a CEPI rating of 88.50 while Vapi’s is 88.09. Of the 88 areas, eight are in Gujarat

• Employment growth:
NSSO data show that in Gujarat , growth in employment has dropped to almost zero in the past 12 years

Human Development Index :
Gujarat (0.519) stands 11th in Human Development Index among the states in India. Where Kerala(0.790) stands first.

• Sex ratio :
Gujarat (918) stands 24th . where kerala(1084) stands first.

• Vaccination coverage :
In Gujarat percentage of children between 12-23 months of age who received all recommended vaccines is 45 % . that is in 19th among the states in India.

• Gujarat stands 12th in literacy among the states in india

• In Gujarat 28.2% man and 32.3 % women are underweight .

• In Gujarat percentage of children delivered in hospital is only 55%

REFERENCES
“Socio-Economic Review, Gujarat State, 2011-12”
National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO)
• Census 2011
• Planning commission
• Children in india 2012 – a statistical appraisal – ministry of statistics and program implementation
• 2012 State-wise report, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
• United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) statistics
• statistics from the Central Pollution Control Board
• National Family Health Survey
http://censusindia.gov.in/2011census/hlo/hlo_highlights.html , http://www.pratirodh.com/pdf/human_development_report2011.pdf , http://mospi.nic.in/Mospi_New/site/home.aspx , http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ghi11.pdf , https://nrhm-mis.nic.in/PublicPeriodicReports.aspx , http://mospi.gov.in/national_data_bank/table_20nov12_labour/table_20nov12_labour.htm ,http://iri.org.in/related_readings/India%20Corruption%20Study%202005.pdf ,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_states_and_territories_by_Human_Development_Index

 

#India- Average daily calorie intake in rural India falls 5%: Govt #WTFnews


PTI : New Delhi, Thu Mar 07 2013, 

Poverty

 

The average daily intake of calories of the rural population, as per the NSSO data, dropped by 4.9 per cent or 106 kilocalories from 1993-94 to 2004-05, Parliament was informed today.

“As per NSSO report based on the survey conducted by it in July 2004-June 2005, the average per capita calorie in-take at all India level in rural areas is 2,047 kilo calories as compared to 2,153 kilo calories based on the results of similar survey undertaken during July 1993-June 1994,” Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Kumar Jena told in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

This shows a drop of 106 kilocalories and percentage decrease of 4.9 per cent in per capita calorie intake in rural areas over 2004-05, he said.

Jena said the government has taken a number of steps to increase opportunities for livelihood/wage employment and food security of rural people so as to enable them to have access to availability of food and thus better intake of calories.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Swarnajayanti Gramin Swarojgar Yojana are some of the prominent wage employment generation schemes focussing at rural population in the country, he said.

Targeted Public Distribution System, Annapurna Scheme for Senior Citizens, Mid-Day Meal are amongst the schemes targeted for food security, Jena said.

 

Gujarat- Mirage of Development


Frontline
08MAR2013
GUJARAT
Mirage of development
LYLA BAVADAM
Social development indicators in Gujarat are poor, proving that development in the State is lopsided.

On a hot day last November near Rajkot, Ramjibhai Patel, an octogenarian farmer, pointed to the middle distance and said, “See that lake?” There was indeed a shimmer in the dry landscape indicating water, but after a relatively poor monsoon, it seemed improbable. Chuckling, he said, “Yes, I see doubt on your face and you are correct. It is a mirage!” With this he launched into a diatribe against the government on issues that ranged from the non-availability of water and the high cost of farming to the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and the cost of higher education of his grandchildren. “Life is a struggle for us. Whatever we have achieved, it is by our own sweat. Promises of the government for ordinary people like us are a mrugjal [mirage].”
The story of growth in Gujarat mirrors Ramjibhai’s mrugjal. Social development indicators in this State of over 60 million people tell a story completely different from the one of success, prosperity and economic development that Chief Minister Narendra Modi would have everyone believe. The Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summits and Modi’s projection of himself as a vikas purush, a sort of development leader, are all part of the illusion that Modi builds around himself.
Despite the much-touted Vibrant Gujarat programmes, it is interesting to note that foreign direct investment is not the highest in Gujarat. Maharashtra leads this list while Gujarat is fifth. Vibrant Gujarat summits have not yielded as much as the State government would like others to believe. According to the government’s own “Socio-Economic Review, Gujarat State, 2011-12”, the promised investments in 2011 were over Rs.20 lakh crore, but only about Rs.29,813 crore was actually invested. In the same year, out of more than 8,300 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed, only about 250 became a reality. The importance given to the Vibrant Gujarat programmes is explained simply. The Gujarat model of development is focussed solely on economic growth via industrial development. For this blinkered approach to succeed, it is necessary for the government to look to private capital. A comparison of promised and actual investments in Vibrant Gujarat programmes since 2003 shows a consistent trend of investors promising more than they actually deliver.
Even though the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the State has been significant over the past 15 years, Gujarat scores low in areas of nutrition, education, employment, wages, consumer price index, rural planning, health, the status of the environment and other indicators of the overall health of society. Indeed a look at official data gathered from the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), Census 2011 and others shows that the high economic growth rate in Gujarat has been at the expense of basic human development.
Employment growth stagnates
Paradoxically, employment has not kept pace with the spurt in economic growth. NSSO data show that growth in employment has dropped to almost zero in the past 12 years. Rural Gujarat has been particularly hit despite the fact that there has been an increase in growth in the rural sector. The explanation seems to lie with the policy changes in the sale and purchase of land. Small and medium farmers, who make up a large part of the agricultural community, are increasingly being tempted into selling their land. The lure of a large amount of money is often too much for cash-strapped farmers to resist, but the outcome of this is the sudden creation of a jobless section of people. Thus, rural residents are hit. The jobs that are created in rural areas through the construction of special economic zones (SEZ), small-scale industries and similar projects are usually unsuitable for local people.
Even though there is a slightly higher workforce participation rate in Gujarat, it is offset by the fact that it is poor-quality employment and the nature of the work is largely casual. Transport infrastructure accounts for a large number of work opportunities in the State, but since these are project based, the jobs are temporary. A high demand for casual labour combined with an increase in migrant labour from other States means that the job security of workers is low and the levels of exploitation are high. The average wages (for jobs other than those under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) are also very poor, putting Gujarat at a low 14th rank among the States.
The disparity in wages speaks of exploitation and an increasing use of contract workers. According to NSSO 2011 figures, the average daily wage a labourer in the informal sector in urban areas can expect in Gujarat is Rs.106 against Rs.218 in Kerala (which ranks first). In rural areas, Punjab ranks the highest at Rs.152 a day while Gujarat stands 12th at Rs.83. About 98 per cent of the women workers and about 89 per cent of the male workers in the State are engaged in informal work (against the corresponding national figures of 96 per cent and 90 per cent).
Health and nutrition
The workers’ low wages and poor purchasing power result in poor nutrition or malnutrition among them and their children. According to statistics from a report of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, “Children in India, 2012—A Statistical Appraisal”, between 40 and 50 per cent of children in Gujarat are underweight, which bursts one more myth in Gujarat’s story of growth. Other States in this low weight category are Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Human Development Report 2011 said around half of Gujarat’s children were malnourished.
Infant mortality, one of the basic indicators of the success of a government, is high in Gujarat, which ranks 11th countrywide in the rate of decline of infant mortality. According to “Children in India, 2012”, the infant mortality rate in Gujarat was still high, with 44 fatalities of infants per 1,000 live births. And with fewer health care facilities in rural areas, it is no surprise that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, both of whom are kept at the bottom of the social ladder, have a higher mortality rate. In its 2012 State-wise report, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said, “Almost every second child in Gujarat under the age of five years is undernourished and three out of four are anaemic. Infant and maternal mortality rates have reduced very slowly in the last decade…. One mother in three in Gujarat struggles with acute under-nutrition….” The issue of children’s health is further compounded by the continuance of child marriage. Gujarat ranks fourth in reported cases of child marriage.
Education spending low
Education also seems to be low on priority when it comes to government spending. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto claims to have achieved 100 per cent enrolment in primary schools and reduced the overall dropout rate by 2 per cent. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) statistics show that Gujarat ranks 18th when it comes to success in keeping children in schools. The school life expectancy of children in Kerala (which ranks first) is 11.33 years, while that of children in Gujarat is 8.79 years. The State also ranks seventh among 15 major States in terms of literacy rates.
UNICEF said the quality of education needed to be improved, with less than half the students being able to read, write and understand mathematics at levels appropriate for their age. Rather than improving the existing government educational infrastructure and thereby making education accessible to all, the government is leaning more towards private educational institutions. This trend was apparent at the January 2013 Vibrant Gujarat summit, where Modi proposed setting up a global forum for forging partnerships between universities across the world.
A marginal decrease in rural poverty put to rest Modi’s election boast of being a development-oriented Chief Minister. On the whole his government has a poor record of poverty reduction measures. Statistics of the NSSO show that the percentage of reduction of poverty between 2004 and 2010 was the highest in Odisha at 20.2 per cent, and the lowest in Gujarat, at 8.6 per cent.
The Gujarat government’s inattentiveness towards poverty reduction is all the more apparent when it is compared with Odisha, whose GDP growth is lower than that of Gujarat. Much-publicised handouts in the form of various benefits (with names like Garib Kalyan mela) were quite common in Modi’s last term, but an active anti-poverty programme was missing.
Low employment, low wages and high prices—the formula is one of despair. Indeed, food, fuel, clothing and housing in rural and urban Gujarat are the eighth most expensive in the country. This means that even though the per capita income is higher than the national average, the per capita monthly expenditure in both rural and urban areas is low when compared with other States and the national average. While the percentage of the population below the poverty line in Gujarat seems better than in some States, Planning Commission data show that the percentage of poverty reduction in a seven-year period between 2004 and 2010 was not creditable. In a comparison of percentages of poverty reduction in seven States, Maharashtra fares the best, West Bengal the worst, and Gujarat is fifth.
Water and sanitation
According to Census 2011, 43 per cent of the rural households in Gujarat get water supply on their premises and 16.7 per cent get treated water from a common tap. In urban households, the corresponding percentages are 84 per cent and 69 per cent.
The data show that 67 per cent of rural households in the State have no access to toilets and members of more than 65 per cent of the households defecate in the open, very often polluting common water sources. Waste collection and disposal are matters practically unheard of.
The larger issue of the environment is also severely neglected. Despite the Modi government’s pride in the economic boom brought on by the industrial clusters of south Gujarat, these are actually environmentally dead zones. The levels of air, land and water pollution are measured to arrive at what is called the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI). Anything over 70 on this index is considered to have crossed critical levels, that is, the pollution exceeds the capacity of the environment to handle it and it becomes a dangerous health hazard. According to statistics from the Central Pollution Control Board, Ankleshwar and Vapi in Gujarat top the list of 88 severely polluted industrial areas in India. Ankleshwar has a CEPI rating of 88.50 while Vapi’s is 88.09. Of the 88 areas, eight are in Gujarat. Even Dhanbad in Jharkhand, with its intensive coal mining and a longer history of pollution than the Gujarat centres, ranks only 13th on the list.
In the race to be seen as a State where growth (read industrialisation) is on the fast lane, Gujarat has forgotten human development. A former member of the administration told Frontline: “Modi runs Gujarat like a shopkeeper. Profits and losses are measured only in economic and monetary terms. The larger picture of human development, and I include the environment in this, is completely ignored. Not neglected, mind you. It is wilfully ignored.”
When the BJP released its election manifesto on December 3 last year, the party billed the document as a sankalp patra, or a pledge to the people. In it, the Gujarat government applauded itself and the “all-round development” it had created in the State. The reality is that this development has been one-sided and socially exclusionary. The State government’s claims are nothing but a mirage.

No Social Protection for India’s Elderly #Indiashining


Aged women sitting in front of an old age home in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu. Credit: K. S. Harikrishnan/IPSAged women sitting in front of an old age home in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu. Credit: K. S. Harikrishnan/IPS

NEW/DELHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Nov 9 2012 (IPS) – At midnight on Oct. 12, 91-year-old George Puthenveettil, a widower living in Kalanjur village in the Pathanamthita district of the southern Indian state of Kerala, was brutally tortured and ousted from his own house by his only son for “not earning any money”.

The nonagenarian wandered the streets of his village for hours before he reached a shelter in Pathanapuram with the help of neighbours. Police said the son had often beaten and harassed the old man, who was financially dependent on his son.

For many people like George, the sunset years of life turn out to be a traumatic period, in which they find themselves entirely dependent on families or friends due to the absence of a good social security system or government pension plan in India.

Expressing concern over the increasing insecurity of elders in the country, Dr. Irudaya Rajan, a prominent demographer and chair professor of the research unit on international migration under the Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs, told IPS that income security is one of the most urgent needs of India’s aging population.

Years ago, “traditional values and religious beliefs were quite supportive of elderly people”, he said.

Today, economic hardships and the faltering nuclear family system are “drastically eroding the support base of aged people”.

“The majority of the elderly tend to work even after the age of retirement due to inadequate social security and financial resources,” Rajan added.

A report on the aging population in India, released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) in New Delhi, said that the country had 90 million elderly people in 2011, with the number expected to grow to 173 million by 2026.

Of the 90 million seniors, 30 million are living alone, and 90 percent work for a living.

Experts estimate that only eight percent of the labour force of about 460 million receives social security from an employer.

‘Informal’ labourers left out in the cold

Over 94 percent of India’s working population is part of the unorganised sector, which refers to all unlicensed, self-employed or unregistered economic activity such as owner-manned general stores, handicrafts and handloom workers, rural traders and farmers, among many others.

Gopal Krishnan, an economist in Chennai, told IPS “There is no social safety coverage for people in the unorganised sector, which accounts for half of the GDP (gross domestic product) of India”.

According to the World Bank, India’s GDP in 2011 was 1,848 billion dollars.

In 2006, the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector recommended that the Union Government establish a National Social Security Scheme to provide the minimum level of benefits to workers retiring from the informal sector.

Until now, the government has not been able to compile a comprehensive policy to address the issues of elderly people. The ministry of social justice and empowerment drafted a National Policy on Older Persons in 1999, which was never implemented.

Hardships abound

Analysts point out that India’s aging population is constantly grappling with health issues, economic stress, family matters, uncertain living arrangements, gender disparities, urban-rural differences, displacement and slum-like living conditions.

Dr. Udaya Shankar Mishra, a senior demographer at the Centre for Development Studies in Thiruvananthapuram, believes the current “profile” of the aging population of India can change.

“The (perception) of the elderly as a burden can, with suitable policies, be turned into an opportunity to realise active and healthy aging,” he told IPS.

“With limited resources, we need to adopt viable policy changes to manage the crisis of the aged. This calls for a detailed auditing of (all) the affairs of the elderly, primarily health, morbidity and mortality in addition to economic and emotional wellbeing.

“Research on geriatric health needs to (shift) towards ensuring a better quality of life among future elderly persons. Considering the demographic inversion and its associated challenges, it (is clear) that investments into healthy aging are necessary,” he added.

Data from the 2011 National Census revealed that the percentage of aged living alone or with spouse is as high as 45 percent in Tamil Nadu, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Kerala.

Healthcare experts have found that the elderly are highly prone to heart diseases, respiratory disorders, renal diseases, diabetes, hypertension, neurological problems and prostate issues.

The National Sample Survey Organisation calculates that one out of two elderly people in India suffers from at least one chronic disease, which requires lifelong medication.

The most recent data available, taken for the period 1995-96, revealed that 75 percent of aged individuals are affected by at least one disability relating to sight, hearing, speech, walking, and senility.

Dr. Shanti Johnson, professor at the faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the Canada-based University of Regina, estimates that nearly eight percent of the elderly are immobile, while a disproportionately higher percentage of women are immobile compared to men.

“The average hospitalisation rate in the country per 100,000 aged persons is 7,633. There is considerable gender difference in the rate of hospitalisation, as a much greater proportion of men are hospitalised compared to their female counterparts,” she added.

Non-governmental organisations are advocating for more old-age homes, day-care centers, physiotherapy clinics and temporary shelters for the rehabilitation of older persons, with government funds allocated to the running and maintaining of such projects.

(END)

 

With most workers fleeing in terror, unions pin hopes on fair probe #Maruti


 

Aditi Nigam

MARUTI MANESAR VIOLENCE

New Delhi, July 29:

Analysts don’t see ‘light at the end of the tunnel, at least for the time being’ for Maruti’s Manesar plant, but the workers in its Gurgaon plant are hopeful.

“Our two jewels (here), Swift and DZire are made in Manesar. We are doing our bit to ensure immediate lifting of the lock-out there so that work restarts,” Kuldeep Janghu, General Secretary of Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, told Business Line.

But will all the Manesar workers be taken back, or will new workers be recruited? Janghu smiled, but did not answer the question. As of now, most of Maruti Manesar workers have fled or are underground.

In 2011, there were 970 permanent workers, about 1,100 contract workers, 400-500 trainees and 200-300 apprentices. Some permanent and contract workers were suspended after last year’s strike.

The lock-out followed the violence on July 18 that led to the gruesome death of an HR Manager, left about 90 officers injured and caused a fire in the administrative block. About 3,000 workers fled their homes overnight.

Ironically, the lock-out notice has been pasted on the main gate in Hindi and English alongside a black marble plaque with “Maruti Suzuki Employees Union, IMT, Manesar, Gurgaon (Regd no 1923), Established on March 1, 2012” written in golden letters. The tension is palpable and an air of suspicion hangs in the area.

Investigations on

The Haryana Government has set up a special investigation team and the Maruti management is merging its findings with it. The Japanese Embassy is said to be conducting its own probe.

The questions are many. What went wrong in the once buzzing car plant that catapulted as a market leader in the country? Why did the workers, most of them in their 20s, who carried out a peaceful and prolonged struggle last year, suddenly turn violent? What were the 300-odd bouncers hired by the company doing? Why didn’t the Haryana Police act? Wouldn’t one teargas shell or one firing in the air have dispersed the miscreants? The police could brutally cane Honda workers in 2005, so why not in this case? The dead HR Manager’s wife, too, has raised some of these questions.

Corporate statements abound and accounts of the injured managers have started trickling in. But, to reach any fair conclusion about the ‘good, bad and the ugly’, the camera has to zoom into every nook and corner of the scene.

The First Information Report by Maruti reportedly names 55 workers and has added 600 others. “Some 90-odd workers, many of whom were on the other shifts, have been picked up,” Janghu said. “They can be made to say anything in custody,” added another worker. Clearly, they did not trust the Haryana Government probe team and wanted a CBI inquiry.

There is terror in the villages where these workers stayed, said Satbir, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, which has sought a judicial inquiry. “Anyone is being picked up by the police to make up for the figure of 600. They are also picking up parents and family members and harassing them,” he added.

A Maoist angle is also being floated. “It is too premature. Could be anything, could be Maruti’s competitors, could be Maoists, could be a section of workers or the management,” Janghu said.

Area unions admitted that the situation in Manesar was “worrisome”, but warned against the danger of demonising all workers, which was adding to the panic among the huge casual workforce, largely from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Widespread concerns

“The tendency to demonise all workers is not good for industrial relations in the belt. The massive turn-out in the July 25 Honda factory meeting signals the widespread concerns of workers,” said Satbir.

Workers from Maruti’s Gurgaon plant, Suzuki Powertrain, Suzuki Castings, Suzuki Motocycle, Lumax Auto Technologies, Satyam Auto Components, Endurance Technologies, Hi-Lex India Pvt Ltd, Rico and others attended the meeting despite prohibitory orders.

Not just factory labour, about 30,000 workers attached to Maruti Manesar plant vendors are also sitting idle, said Satbir.

The huge casual workforce, a critical mass of this industrial belt, is living on the edge, with no laws to protect their livelihood, no social or job security, poor working and living conditions.

“In Manesar, the rent for one small room is a minimum of Rs 3,000. With inflation and rising transport costs, and a cut to the contractors, there is nothing left. Some companies even deduct provident fund and ESI from contract workers’ wages but do not submit these,” said Janghu.

According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010, the number of casual workers increased by 21 million, while regular workers increased by only 5.8 million.

Corporates blame rigid labour laws for their increasing dependence on casual labour. But, unions do not buy this.

“Who follows labour laws? Two years ago, 11 workers died in a Panipat factory. None of them were registered. When we approached the Haryana Labour Department, we were told that the factory itself was not registered,” Satbir.

“The problem is that 21st century corporates have 15th century mindset when it comes to treating workers. You can’t turn half the wheel of development back,” he added.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

 

60% rural India lives on less than Rs 35 a day


May 3, 2012, PTI

Around 60 per cent of India’s rural population lives on less than Rs 35 a day and nearly as many in cities live on Rs 66 a day, reveals a government survey on income and expenditure.

“In terms of average per capita daily expenditure, it comes out to be about Rs 35 in rural and Rs 66 in urban India.

Around 60 per cent of the population live with these expenditures or less in rural and urban areas,” said Director General of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) J Dash in his preface to the report.

According to the 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010, all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was Rs 1,054 and urban areas Rs 1,984.

The survey also pointed out that 10 per cent of the population at the lowest rung in rural areas lives on Rs 15 a day, while in urban areas the figure is only a shade better at Rs 20 day.

“The poorest 10 per cent of India’s rural population had an average MPCE of Rs 453. The poorest 10 per cent of the urban population had an average MPCE of Rs 599″, it said.

The NSSO survey also revealed that average MPCE in rural areas was lowest in Bihar and Chhattisgarh at around Rs 780 followed by Orissa and Jharkhand at Rs 820.

Among other states, Kerala has the highest rural MPCE at 1,835 followed by Punjab and Haryana at Rs 1,649 and Rs 1,510 respectively. The the highest urban MCPE was in Maharashtra at Rs 2,437 followed by Kerala at Rs 2,413 and Haryana at Rs 2,321. It was lowest in Bihar at Rs 1,238. The median level of MCPE was Rs 895 in rural and Rs 1,502 in urban India, indicating consumption level of majority of population.

According to the study, food was estimated to account about 57 per cent of the value of the average rural Indian household consumption during 2009-10 whereas it was 44 per cent in cities. — PTI

Government survey

n The 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010

n It says all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was Rs 1,054 and urban areas Rs 1,984

n The survey also pointed out 10 per cent of the population at the lowest rung in rural areas lives on Rs 15 a day, while in urban areas the figure is only a shade better at Rs 20 day

About 70 percent of India is poor: NAC member


New Delhi: Debunking the government’s claim that the number of poor in India has come down, a top adviser has claimed that around 70 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion population is poor, and stressed the need for a multi-dimensional assessment of poverty.

“The government claim that poverty has come down is not valid… there is a need for a multi-dimensional assessment of poverty as around 70 percent of the population is poor,” National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena said in an interview.

According to Saxena, the various poverty estimates the government relies on to assess the impact of developmental schemes are faulty as they fail to factor in the lack of nutritional diet, sanitation, drinking water, healthcare and educational facilities available to the people.

The former bureaucrat, who now is part of the NAC that reports to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, claimed that not only the National Sample Survey Organisation data is faulty, the ongoing Socio-Economic and Caste Census, which is expected to throw up the latest poverty estimates, is highly flawed.

“The NSSO data is unreliable and the SECC is highly flawed,” said Saxena.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) was set up as an interface with civil society. The NAC provides policy and legislative inputs to the government with special focus on social policy and the rights of disadvantaged groups.

After the government faced flak over its latest poverty estimates, according to which anyone earning over Rs 28 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 per day in rural areas is not poor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a multi-layered approach is required to assess poverty as the widely accepted Tendulkar committee report “is not all inclusive”.

The government now plans to set up another expert panel to devise a new methodology to assess poverty levels in the country, said the prime minister.

The government recently revised its poverty estimates from earlier Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs.26 per day in rural areas based on 2011 prices, to the current estimate which is based on 2009 prices.

Using the Tendulkar panel report, the Planning Commission pegged poverty at 37.5 percent of the population.

Saxena said in reality out of about 200 centrally sponsored schemes, only 5 or 6 are linked to the poverty estimates, pegged at 37.5 percent by the Planning Commission.

Having a realistic assessment of poverty in not only crucial for the government to ensure that around Rs 80,000 crore that it spends on various welfare schemes annually reaches only the genuinely poor, it is also important for the United Progressive Alliance which hopes to roll out the ambitious National Food Security Bill, which aims to provide subsidised rations to around 65 percent of the 1.2 billion population some time next year.

IANS