Archive for ‘India alert’

29/07/2014

Adani gets clearance for $16.5 billion coal mine in Australia

Adani gets environmental clearance for $16.5 billion coal mine in Australia

Despite serious environmental concerns, the Australian federal government approved the Adani group’s $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine and rail project. When completed, it will be one of the biggest coal mines in the world.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

29/07/2014

In Delhi, an unintended consequence of free parking: violent deaths

Rajender Bhatia was sitting in his ground floor apartment in central Delhi on Sunday morning when his neighbour turned up. Kartik, who lived on the second floor of the same building, had come to pick a bone with Bhatia about the parking situation around their building. The argument quickly escalated and, according to the police, a couple of other men also joined the fracas that turned into a proper scuffle.

Then suddenly the 55-year-old Bhatia collapsed, prompting the others to run away and his family to take him to the hospital. The doctors there declared Bhatia dead on arrival and a case was registered against Kartik and the other men, who have since been arrested and booked with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Bhatia, unfortunately, is not the first to have died in an argument over parking in Delhi: there have been seven other violent incidents related to it this year alone. And, considering the state of parking in the capital, it’s unlikely Bhatia’s case will be the last.

Police records suggest that 15 people have died in the capital over parking-related issues in the past five years, with many more incidents of violent clashes. Other than the capital’s generally high stress levels, which have given it the reputation of being particularly prone to violence and spats, the huge number of cars being added to the roads combined with limited space is mainly what is behind this unique category of crimes. It isn’t uncommon to see car tires being slashed or a parked car being keyed by angry residents who see it as a way to complain about parking.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

29/07/2014

Why India’s family planning program is unhappy with parents

It’s not just politicians resisting sex education, but parents as well, according to Mahinder Watsa, former president of the Family Planning Association of India, which turned 65 last week.

Watsa, perhaps better known today for his newspaper column dispensing often wry advice on sex, was also the first to push for the inclusion of sex education in the FPAI’s programmes in the late 1970s.

“You need to have special classes for parents,” he said. “Parents should be the ones who should be involved deeply, but they pass the job on to teachers.” But teachers, he said, do not take an active part in sex education for fear of being criticised by both parents and politicians.

This fear might partly stem from the pronouncements of political leaders. In the latest instance, last month, health minister Harsh Vardhan, a qualified doctor, advocated the Gandhian route to birth control through abstinence and yoga and said that sex education in its current form should not be taught in schools. He later clarified that he was only against graphical representation of what he termed “vulgarity”.

But his remarks have yet again underlined the political class’s confused and often misguided approach to sex education.

In contrast, over the years, the focus of the FPAI, which was founded in 1949, has expanded from issues of fertility and controlling the number of children a healthy family should have to the rights of young people in accessing information and knowledge about their sexuality.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

25/07/2014

What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s census data consistently shows two things: the country’s inexorably expanding population and its deep preference for sons over daughters.

A new United Nations study takes a deep look at how parents keep choosing boys over girls, despite laws that seek to block the use of ultrasounds and other pre-natal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child.

India’ child sex ratio – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991.

India’s sex gap “demonstrates that the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” said Lakshmi Puri, an Indian who is a U.N. assistant secretary general.

Here are five significant takeaways from the U.N. study, written by Mary E. John, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Improvements in the Overall Sex Ratio are More Nuanced Than You Think

Since 1991, the number of women per 1,000 men has been rising, though it remains far below normal. In 1991, there were 927 women for every 1,000 men. In 2011, the year of the most recent census, that number had risen to 943. The U.N. study argues that much of the improvement isn’t because fewer girls are being born and surviving into adulthood. In India, in the past, women had a shorter life expectancy than men – unlike the situation in most of the rest of the world. That has changed. Indian women now outlive men, in part because of lifestyle changes and “diseases that take a greater toll on” men.

via What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/07/2014

India’s human development index in 2013 improved slightly from the previous year

India’s human development index in 2013 improved slightly from the previous year, while it ranked 135 out of 187 countries, according to the 2014 UNDP Human Development Report.

This is only seven positions ahead of Bangladesh, but well behind Sri Lanka, which is at 73. Nepal and Pakistan fall in the low development category, at 145 and 146 respectively.

The human development index is derived from a measurement of life expectancy, education, and income indices and is used to rank countries into four tiers of human development: very high, high, medium and low.

The report, released on Thursday morning, shows that India’s index is 0.586 out of a maximum of 1. India’s index was below the average of 0.614 for countries in the medium human development group.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

22/07/2014

Armed bandits demand water in dry northern India – Businessweek

Armed bandits in drought-stricken northern India are threatening to kill hundreds of villagers unless they deliver 35 buckets of water each day to the outlaws in their rural hideouts.

Since the threats were delivered last week, 28 villages have been obeying the order, taking turns handing over what the bandits are calling a daily “water tax,” police said Monday.

“Water itself is very scarce in this region. Villagers can hardly meet their demand,” officer Suresh Kumar Singh said by telephone from Banda, a city on the southern border of central Uttar Pradesh state and caught within what is known in India as bandit country.

Though the number of bandits has declined drastically in recent decades, they are still common in the hard-to-reach forests and mountains of the Bundelkhand region. Banditry dates back some 800 years in India to when emperors still ruled.

The area is cut off from supply lines, leaving the bandits reliant on surrounding villages. Since 2007, it has been starved for rain, with the yearly monsoon bringing only half the usual number of 52 rainy days a year.

“A few bandits are still active in the ravines,” Singh said. “They ask for water, food and shelter from the villages.”

via Armed bandits demand water in dry northern India – Businessweek.

22/07/2014

BRICS Summit: A Show of Economic Might Is Nothing to Fear – Businessweek

As Brazilians were recovering last week from the World Cup, the country held another global event: the BRICS summit, a gathering of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The outcome was no doubt more pleasing to Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff than her country’s soccer performance. The countries agreed to set up a $50 billion “BRICS bank” to invest in development projects in the developing world, alongside a $100 billion pool of reserve currencies earmarked as “a kind of mini-IMF,” according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. It was a strong statement of the grouping’s growing global economic heft and a challenge to the order established by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

China President Xi Jinping being welcomed by President Rousseff at Planalto Palace in Brasilia

Some in the West have perceived that challenge as a threat. The U.S. has veto power over major decisions at the International Monetary Fund. Without European or American backing, it is almost impossible to get a loan through the World Bank. The North Atlantic powers will have no such say in the operations of the BRICS bank, another sign that the global balance of economic and financial power is shifting.

The BRICS do pose a threat, but their own development bank isn’t it. The more worrisome risk is that the BRICS won’t grow as quickly as they have in the past, that the grand plans hatched in Brazil will dwindle along with the economies supporting them. If pessimistic forecasts of Asian and Latin American economic performance turn out to be justified, that’s no reason for cheer in Washington or Brussels—collapsing growth in the developing world would be terrible news for the West.

via BRICS Summit: A Show of Economic Might Is Nothing to Fear – Businessweek.

17/07/2014

Four of every 10 Asians living with HIV are Indian – U.N. report – India Insight

India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world, with 2.1 million Indians accounting for four of every 10 people infected in Asia, the United Nations said in a report on Wednesday.

People walk near a red ribbon sand sculpture created by Indian sand artist Patnaik on the eve of World AIDS Day in Odisha

The epidemic has killed about 39 million of the 78 million people it has affected worldwide since it began in the 1980s, the U.N. AIDS programme said, adding that the number of people infected with HIV was stabilising around 35 million.

Here are some facts and figures on India from the report:

India accounted for 51 percent of AIDS-related deaths in Asia in 2013 and 8 percent of deaths worldwide.

via India Insight.

17/07/2014

Indian eatery run by murder convicts praised for politeness, hygiene – India Insight

As India’s capital baked under a heat wave this month, banker Gaurav Gupta sat down for lunch at a new air-conditioned restaurant, and was greeted by a smiling waiter who offered him chilled water and took his order — a traditional “thali” meal of flatbread, lentils, vegetables, rice and pickle.

Nothing unusual, except that the employee, like most of his co-workers, is a convicted murderer serving time in South Asia’s largest prison complex.

“Tihar Food Court” on Jail Road in west Delhi is part of a wide range of reform and rehabilitation initiatives undertaken at the Tihar prison. It opened in the first week of July on an “experimental basis” while waiting for formal clearances, and is located half a kilometre from the prisoners’ dormitories.

With a spacious interior lined with gleaming wooden tables and walls adorned with paintings by prisoners, the 50-seat restaurant is coming in for praise from customers, especially for being clean and for the polite behaviour of its employees, who were trained by the Delhi Institute of Hotel Management, an autonomous body under the state government.

“The food is average. But the hygiene factor is really good, very clean. And it’s a good thing they are employing prisoners,” said Gaurav Gupta.

via India Insight.

16/07/2014

Hope floats for Delhi’s e-rickshaws after minister’s backing – India Insight

The office of the New Arcana India e-rickshaw company is not easy to find. It is in a nondescript building nestled among other nondescript buildings in West Subhash Nagar, a middle-class neighbourhood of New Delhi.

If enthusiasm showed up on a map, it would be hard to miss the place. Inside on a recent Thursday, a meeting of Delhi’s Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association was in session. Steaming cups of tea were being handed out to members, mostly manufacturers of battery-operated rickshaws.

There are an estimated 100,000 such “e-rickshaws” working Delhi’s streets. Introduced in 2010 and operated by unlicensed drivers, they are a less environmentally harmful and cheap way to get around the city compared to traditional gas-powered autorickshaws and cars that are too expensive for many people to buy. They’re also easier on the operators than pulling a traditional rickshaw or riding a bicycle taxi. But transportation officials nearly made driving e-rickshaws illegal earlier this year in a bid to curb nightmarish traffic congestion and reckless driving.

via India Insight.

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