Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

03/07/2015

Fridges, Cellphones and Divorce Rates: Independent India’s First Socio Economic and Caste Census – WSJ

India on Friday released the results of a census that gives the first large-scale picture of India’s caste and socio-economic makeup since 1932.

The numbers from the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 reveal where Indians live, what work they do and what kind of products they own. They are separate from the Census of India that is carried out every 10 years, and highlight major gaps in education and job opportunities.

Here are 10 key numbers, all relating to houses in rural areas, from the census.

TAX

4.58%

The percentage of households where someone pays income tax.

Less than 10% of households get their income from a salaried job. Of these, around 5% are employed in government jobs, just over 1% in the public sector and 3.5% in private entities.

In only 8% of households, the highest earning member makes Rs. 10,000 ($157) or more a month. It is hardly a surprise then, that fewer than 5% pay income tax.

REFRIGERATORS

11.04%

The percentage of households with a refrigerator. Whether they have the electricity to run it is another question.

Goa has the highest percentage of households in rural areas with a fridge–at 69%. By contrast, in Bihar, only 2.61% of households in the countryside have a fridge.

NO PHONES

50 million

Households that don’t own a landline or a mobile phone. Roughly 70% of the 179 million rural households in India own cellphones.

But 27% have neither a cellphone nor a landline. The eastern states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, home to some of India’s largest indigenous populations, have the lowest access to telecommunications.

DIVORCEES

1,052,210

Divorced people living in rural areas. That’s just 0.12% of the population. Divorce is very rare in India.

FAMILY SIZE

4.93

Average household size in rural areas. Though in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state with 200 million people, the average number of people in a rural household is 6.26.

WOMEN HEADS

12.83%

The percentage of households headed by a woman.

MANUAL SCAVENGERS

180,657

The number of people who carry out manual scavenging, a practice of collecting human waste from primitive dry latrines by hand, which is outlawed but persists.  Manual scavengers are usually from the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system (Indian Muslim communities have similar low-status members who perform this job) and women, according to U.S. human-rights group Human Rights Watch.

MECHANIZATION

4%

Of households own mechanized equipment with three or four wheels for carrying out manual labor through which they earn a living.

Nearly 40% of households don’t own land and earn wages through casual, manual labor. Agriculture is tough work, with 40% of rural land still lacking irrigation facilities.

LEARNING

35%

More than 35% of rural Indians are illiterate, with the highest numbers of those who can’t read or write coming from the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

MAKESHIFT HOUSING

45%

Nearly half of rural households still live in what are called “kuccha” houses, which include structures made of materials such as thatch, mud, plastic and wood.

via Fridges, Cellphones and Divorce Rates: Independent India’s First Socio Economic and Caste Census – WSJ.

01/07/2015

India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sanitation a priority for his country, saying he would rather build toilets than temples and setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019.

But new data show India is lagging behind its neighbors in providing access to adequate sanitation.

“Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water,” a report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization this week, says that advancements in meeting Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, by 2015 in relation to sanitation have faltered worldwide. The report says 2.4 billion people still don’t have access to improved sanitation.

 

Mr. Modi launched his Clean India, or Swachh Bharat, campaign last year for good reason. Research shows that the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting in children and the spread of disease. A World Health Organization report said in 2014 that 597 million people in India still relieved themselves outdoors.  And the new WHO/Unicef report says that the Southern Asia region has the highest number of people who defecate in the open.

The new data show that despite recent efforts, over the past 25 years, India has been losing the regional race to improve sanitation.

Its neighbors, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan led the way with the greatest percentage-point change in the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities between 1990 and 2015.

Pakistan’s percentage point change was 40–64% of people have use an improved sanitation facility. In Nepal, a country in which just 4% of people had access to improved sanitation facilities in 1990, access rose by 42 percentage points to 46%. Bangladesh improved its score by 27 percentage points — 61% now have access to improved sanitation facilities.

India meanwhile, had a lower 23 percentage point increase in the same period – bringing the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities to 40%.

And Sri Lanka is way ahead, with 95% of people having access to improved sanitation.

via India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ.

29/06/2015

India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s aggressive eradication of polio established the template for moving a disease from endemic to eliminated and has been lauded by the World Health Organization.

But in the process, a rise in the prevalence of another polio-like condition, acute flaccid paralysis, has been recorded.

Known as AFP, the condition is the sudden onset of muscle weakness or the inability to move limbs, and can be a tell-tale sign of polio, but is also a symptom of other diseases, including transverse myelitis, which causes injury to the spinal cord, Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nerve disorder, and Japanese Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.

Since 1997, children in India who present with AFP are immediately tested for polio to comply with polio-eradication protocol and doing so has been one of the foundation stones for eradication.

Just this month, more than 200 young patients in the country’s most-populous state Uttar Pradesh, suffering from AFP were tested for polio. They didn’t have the virus, the federal Health Ministry said in a statement.

Such surveillance has resulted in a huge rise in reported cases of AFP.

In 2003, when polio was endemic in India, 8,500 cases of AFP were recorded. So far in 2015, a year after India was declared polio free, there have been nearly 18,000 reported instances but none linked to polio.

Often the cause of AFP remains unknown.

via India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/06/2015

China says economic losses from drug abuse hit $81 billion a year | Reuters

China on Wednesday gave its first-ever assessment of the scourge of drug abuse, saying it caused annual economic losses of 500 billion yuan ($80.54 billion) and as many as 49,000 deaths last year.

China has intensified a crackdown on drugs as the rise of a new urban class with greater disposable income has fueled a surge in the numbers of drug addicts.

In its fight on drug abuse, the government arrested a string of celebrities, including the son of Hong Kong kungfu movie star Jackie Chan. Jaycee Chan, 32, was released in February, after serving a six-month jail sentence on drug charges.

China has more than 14 million drug users, Liu Yuejin, assistant minister of public security, told a news conference.

“The direct economic losses caused by drug use in the entire country have hit 500 billion yuan annually,” Liu said.

Drug abuse had killed at least 49,000 registered users by the end of 2014 and fueled a rise in crimes such as murder, abduction and rape, Liu added.

China’s share of synthetic drug users eclipsed heroin users for the first time last year, according to an annual report on the drug situation.

By the end of 2014, China had about 1.2 million users of methamphetamine, up almost 41 percent from a year earlier.

Two major overseas drug sources for China are southeast Asia’s “Golden Triangle,” where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, and south Asia’s “Golden Crescent“, which includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, Liu said.

Heroin and methamphetamine are being smuggled into China’s southwestern province of Yunnan and region of Guangxi, which both border Southeast Asia, Liu added.

To fight this situation, China was strengthening law enforcement cooperation with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Myanmar and other countries, he said.

via China says economic losses from drug abuse hit $81 billion a year | Reuters.

25/06/2015

At least 18 dead in attack in China’s Xinjiang: Radio Free Asia | Reuters

At least 18 people are dead after ethnic Uighurs attacked police with knives and bombs at a traffic checkpoint in China’s western Xinjiang region, Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday.

The attack occurred on Monday in a district of the southern city of Kashgar, where tensions between Muslim Uighurs that call the region home and the majority Han Chinese have led to bloodshed in recent years.

Suspects killed several police officers with knives and bombs after speeding through a traffic checkpoint in a car in Kashgar’s Tahtakoruk district, U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said, citing Turghun Memet, an officer at a nearby police station.

Armed police responded to the attack and killed 15 suspects “designated as terrorists,” Radio Free Asia cited Memet as saying.

An SVG map of China with the Xinjiang autonomo...

An SVG map of China with the Xinjiang autonomous region highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png The orange area is Aksai Chin, a part of Xinjiang which is claimed by India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The attack comes at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a sensitive time in Xinjiang after an uptick in attacks over the past three years in which hundreds have died, blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants.

Repeated calls to the Xinjiang government news office were not answered. Such incidents are frequently reported in overseas media but not confirmed by the Chinese government until days later, if ever.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say repressive government policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam and on Uighur culture, have provoked unrest, a claim that Beijing denies.

via At least 18 dead in attack in China’s Xinjiang: Radio Free Asia | Reuters.

23/06/2015

After mega celebrations, government plans Rs 500 crore boost for yoga – The Times of India

The massive yoga day celebrations at Rajpath on Sunday could mark a new push for popularizing the discipline across the country. The ministry of Ayush is now working on a detailed proposal to promote as well as regulate yoga across the country. A comprehensive Rs 500 crore-plan is being drawn up for creation of infrastructure for yoga, and for training facilities and research on the ancient Indian practice.

 

“The International Day of Yoga is just a start. We want to take yoga to the remotest village of our country and to do that we need to create dedicated infrastructure, facilities and do research … Ayush ministry is working out a plan. It would require at least Rs 500 crore,” minister of state for Ayush Shripad Naik told TOI.

via After mega celebrations, government plans Rs 500 crore boost for yoga – The Times of India.

18/06/2015

China steps up controls in unruly Xinjiang as Ramadan approaches | Reuters

Some local governments in China’s unruly far western region of Xinjiang are stepping up controls on the Islamic faith followed by the Uighur people ahead of Ramadan, including making officials swear they will not fast.

An SVG map of China with the Xinjiang autonomo...

An SVG map of China with the Xinjiang autonomous region highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png The orange area is Aksai Chin, a part of Xinjiang which is claimed by India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holy month, which begins this week, is a sensitive time in Xinjiang following an uptick in deadly attacks blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants over the past three years in which hundreds have died.

In recent days, state media and government websites in Xinjiang have published stories and official notices demanding that party members, civil servants, students and teachers in particular do not to observe Ramadan, something that happened last year too.

In Jinghe county near the Kazakh border, food safety officials decided last week that they would “guide and encourage” halal restaurants to stay open as normal during Ramadan, the government said on its website.

Those that do stay open would get fewer visits from food safety inspectors, it added.

Muslims worldwide observe Ramadan, during which many abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.

Other government institutions have given similar instructions.

via China steps up controls in unruly Xinjiang as Ramadan approaches | Reuters.

18/06/2015

China military says two more top officers probed for graft | Reuters

China’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that two more former senior officers were being investigated for corruption, as part of a sweeping campaign against graft which has already felled dozens of senior people.

In a brief statement, the ministry said that Kou Tie, former commander of the Heilongjiang military region in northern China, had been put under investigation last November for suspected “serious discipline violations”. He was handed over to military prosecutors last month.

The other officer was named as Liu Zhanqi, a former communications division commander for the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, also suspected of “serious discipline violations”, common wording for corruption. He was handed to military prosecutors last month as well.

The ministry gave no further details. Neither case had been reported before.

Weeding out graft in the military is a top goal of President Xi Jinping, chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls China’s 2.3 million-strong armed forces.

Serving and retired Chinese military officers have said military graft is so pervasive it could undermine China’s ability to wage war, and dozens of senior officers have been taken down.

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, though China has not fought a war in decades.

via China military says two more top officers probed for graft | Reuters.

09/06/2015

China Headlines: How is the Chinese Dream changing the world? – Xinhua | English.news.cn

On the way toward the renaissance of its ancient glory, China is inspiring its people and the world with a new concept: the Chinese Dream.

Put forward by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in November 2012, the Chinese Dream of Great Renewal has not only struck a chord with the Chinese people, but been, believe it or not, changing the world.

PROFOUND CHANGES IN CHINA, WORLD

The ancient Chinese civilization had a broad influence on the world. Now China is “coming back” as it is reemerging as a great power.

For this reason, many people began to read “Xi Jinping: The Governance of China”, a book that outlines the full political ideas of the top Chinese leadership.

Xi’s book has sold 4.5 million copies worldwide, with an overseas circulation of some 400,000, a record for any Chinese leader’s publication in nearly four decades.

It is becoming increasingly easy to pin down a definition of the Chinese Dream. On cabs and billboards, the Chinese Dream is described as “a prosperous country, a revitalized nation and a happy people”.

The Dream is also elaborated on as “two centenary goals” — to double the 2010GDPand per capita income of urban and rural residents and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020; and to build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by the middle of this century.

If the development plan comes true, it will be one of the most earth-shaking developments since the First Opium War (1840-1842), not only for China but also for global history.

In a report published last year, London-based advertising company WPP said the Chinese Dream “enjoys a much higher level of awareness than the American Dream or British Dream.”

DREAMS OF 1.3 BILLION PEOPLE

China’s population outnumbers that of theUnited States, theEuropean UnionandJapancombined, accounting for about one fifth of the world’s total.

It is unprecedented in the history of human civilization for a country of such a scale to rejuvenate.

The Chinese Dream is the dream for every Chinese individual. In the Three Gorges reservoir region in central China’s Hubei Province, 35-year-old farmer Zhou Xingliang’s dream is quite ordinary: he wants his son to grow up healthy and go to a good college, and for he and his wife to be able to take good care of their parents.

Several hundred kilometers away, in Danjiangkou City, chicken farmer Tan Yong has different aspirations. Dreaming of inventing, the 44-year-old man made a two-tonne submarine with a red star painted on the cabin door. The sub can dive 10 meters below the water surface.

For the entrepreneurial Cantonese Zhang Qinwei, his dream of a “gold rush” in Dubai came true. In 12 years, Zhang expanded his business from a four-square meter shop to a wholesale mall of Chinese products.

As president of the Guangdong Chamber of Commerce in the United Arab Emirates, Zhang now dreams of helping more Chinese companies do businesses there.

via China Headlines: How is the Chinese Dream changing the world? – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

01/06/2015

Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News

Public smoking in China‘s capital, Beijing, is now banned after the introduction of a new law.

China has over 300 million smokers and more than a million Chinese die from smoking-related illnesses every year.

Smoking bans already existed in China, but have largely failed to crack down on the habit.

These tougher regulations, enforced by thousands of inspectors, ban lighting up in restaurants, offices and on public transport in Beijing.

Analysis: Martin Patience, BBC News, Beijing

Smoking in China often seems like a national pastime. The country consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. More than half of men smoke. It’s seen by many as a masculine trait – women, in contrast, rarely smoke.

A common greeting among men is to offer a cigarette – the more expensive, the better. A carton of cigarettes also remains a popular gift.

Anti-tobacco campaigners say many smokers are simply unaware of the health risks of their habit. They accuse the authorities of being addicted to the tax revenues generated by cigarette sales and therefore not warning smokers about the dangers.

But now there are signs the government has changed its mind. In the past, China’s leaders such as Chairman Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping were rarely seen without a cigarette in hand. But the current President Xi Jinping has bucked the trend: he’s quit. And he’s also banned officials from smoking in public in order to set an example.

via Beijing public smoking ban begins – BBC News.

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