Archive for ‘Social & cultural’

19/04/2015

The marriage squeeze in India and China: Bare branches, redundant males | The Economist

KHAPs are informal local councils in north-western India. They meet to lay down the law on questions of marriage and caste, and are among India’s most unflinchingly conservative institutions. They have banned marriage between people of different castes, restricted it between people from the same village and stand accused of ordering honour killings to enforce their rulings, which have no legal force. India’s Supreme Court once called for khaps to be “ruthlessly stamped out”. In April 2014, however, the Satrol khap, the largest in Haryana, one of India’s richest states, relaxed its ban on inter-caste marriage and made it easier for villagers to marry among their neighbours. “This will bring revolutionary change to Haryana,” said Inder Singh, president of the khap.

The cause of the decision, he admitted, was “the declining male-female sex ratio in the state”. After years of sex-selective abortions in favour of boys, Haryana has India’s most distorted sex ratio: 114 males of all ages for every 100 females. In their search for brides, young men are increasingly looking out of caste, out of district and out of state. “This is the only way out to keep our old traditions alive,” said Mr Singh. “Instead of getting a bride from outside the state who takes time to adjust, we preferred to prune the jurisdiction of prohibited areas.”

The revision of 500 years of custom by its conservative guardians symbolises a profound change not just in India. Usually dubbed the “marriage squeeze”, the change refers both to the fact of having too many men chasing too few brides and the consequence of it in countries where marriage has always been nearly universal. Sex selection at birth is common in China and India. The flight from marriage—with women marrying later, or not at all—is long established in Japan and South Korea. But until recently, Asia’s twin giants have not felt the effects of sexual imbalance in marriage. Now they are.

The marriage squeeze is likely to last for decades, getting worse before it gets better. It will take the two countries with their combined population of 2.6 billion—a third of humanity—into uncharted territory. Marriage has always been a necessary part of belonging to society in India and China. No one really knows how these countries will react if marriage is no longer universal. But there may be damaging consequences. In every society, large numbers of young men, unmarried and away from their families, are associated with abnormal levels of crime and violence.

via The marriage squeeze in India and China: Bare branches, redundant males | The Economist.

14/04/2015

The Statesman: Let’s make India Ambedkar dreamt of: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tributes to to BR Ambedkar on his 124th birth anniversary, and said, “Let us pledge to dedicate ourselves to creating India that Ambedkar dreamt of…an India that will make him proud”.

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“I bow to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on his birth anniversary – Jai Bhim,” the prime minister said in a message.

“Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar is a yug purush (man of the era) who lives in the hearts and minds of crores of Indians. His life is characterised by unmatched determination and a firm commitment towards social justice. He made a mark as a bright lawyer, scholar, writer and intellectual who always spoke his mind,” Modi said.

He added: “Who can forget Dr. Ambedkar’s contribution in the making of our Constitution? He served the nation and the people tirelessly and selflessly.”

“Let us pledge to dedicate ourselves to creating the India that Dr. Ambedkar dreamt of…an India that will make him proud.”

via The Statesman: Let’s make India Ambedkar dreamt of: Modi.

14/04/2015

Why the Trial of Former Chinese Oil Executive Jiang Jiemin Matters – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A court in central China’s Hubei province today began hearing the case of Jiang Jiemin, the former chairman of China’s biggest oil company who also briefly headed a government commission that oversees state-owned firms.

Though Mr. Jiang may not be a household name, his trial marks the most senior-level prosecution of a Communist Party official in President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption drive, which has targeted both large state industries and their political backers over the past two years.

Far more important than his past role as head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission was Mr. Jiang’s previous tenure as chairman of China National Petroleum Corp. Following his appointment to that role in 2011, CNPC’s revenue rose, and it grew to rival Exxon Mobil Corp. in total market value.

Mr. Jiang was tapped to head Sasac in 2013, just as several other oil-company executives were becoming ensnared in corruption allegations or disappeared from view.

While Sasac oversees state-owned companies, in practice analysts say it is weaker than the larger, clout-wielding companies it supervises.

Mr. Jiang’s trial is being closely watched in part to see if it yields any details about the circumstances surrounding the downfall of Zhou Yongkang, the country’s granite-faced former security chief, who was formally charged with bribery and abuse of power earlier this month. Mr. Jiang had risen through the ranks of the country’s oil industry under Mr. Zhou.

It is also being watched for further details of corruption investigations involving other politicians and officials in the country’s oil industry, a key target for Mr. Xi’s campaign. The trial began at 8:30 a.m. Monday and was announced in a brief notice on the Hubei Hanjiang Intermediate People’s Court Weibo account. Without elaborating, the court said Mr. Jiang faces charges in connection to bribe-taking, holding a large amount of property that came from unidentified sources and abuse of power.

The court said Mr. Jiang has a lawyer and didn’t object to the charges that include taking bribes, holding assets from unexplained sources and abusing his power.

Like Mr. Jiang, Mr. Zhou had previously served as the head of CNPC. A wide network of Mr. Zhou’s acquaintances and family members have been caught up in a far-flung investigation involving deals in areas where Mr. Zhou oversaw power, involving deals worth tens of millions or more.

Officials of Mr. Zhou’s standing have traditionally been considered off limits, but under Mr. Xi, that is changing.

Mr. Zhou is expected to face trial as are other associates, including Li Chuncheng, former deputy party secretary of Sichuan, who worked under Mr. Zhou from 1999-2002

via Why the Trial of Former Chinese Oil Executive Jiang Jiemin Matters – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

08/04/2015

Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds – China – Chinadaily.com.cn

Ikea has introduced new rules that forbid store visitors from sleeping on showroom sofas and beds, but the rule is proving hard to enforce, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Monday.

Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds

The world’s largest furniture retailer introduced the rule because many customers, both adults and children, have been sleeping in stores, creating a scene and affecting the experience of other customers.

A middle-aged woman said Ikea beds are comfortable so her friends “take a nap” there sometimes, according to the newspaper.

Pictures also show young couples lying on the sofas, their faces covered by pillows.

The newspaper said some customers take off their shoes and lie on the beds as if they were in their own homes.

Ikea encourages customers to sit or lie on beds for a short while to experience their quality, but many sleeping customers occupy the display pieces for too long, a staff member says.

The air-conditioned megastore in Beijing is known for attracting customers in summer who are looking to escape the heat.

Workers in Ikea said it is hard to enforce the no-sleeping rule as many of the perpetrators are often elderly or young children, and some customers simply ignore their requests.

via Ikea bans customers sleeping on showing beds – China – Chinadaily.com.cn.

07/04/2015

Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Former Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang has now been formally charged with bribery and abuse of power, in what appears to be yet another triumph in President Xi Jinping’s strategy to go after “tigers and flies”— in Chinese political parlance, both senior leaders and junior officials.

By all accounts, the hunting and the swatting have been a major success for Xi. The effort appears to be both popular and effective. For Xi, it has the added benefit of consolidating his political command.

That’s the good news.

But Zhou’s prosecution is coming at an important moment for the anticorruption campaign. A number of signs suggest that Xi’s strategy is beginning to show its age. Specifically, it appears Xi and his supporters are having an increasingly difficult time selling the idea that Beijing’s current approach is successfully rooting out the corruption that too often plagues Chinese politics.

First, there’s the fall-off in high-profile news coverage of cadres caught being bad. China’s state-controlled media still runs stories of officials who are being investigated for possible criminal conduct, as with allegations of bribery in the Chongqing city works department and claims of graft committed by a deputy director at the main television network in Anhui province.  But the focus in recent weeks has been on the identification and extradition of allegedly corrupt Chinese officials who have fled overseas. By broadcasting about those who are hiding abroad, Beijing is trying to pivot away from the persistence of graft at home. Indeed, the more cadres that are caught in-country, the more intractable the problem of corruption has to appear.

Then there’s the growing coverage in China’s state media of “maintaining political discipline”—code words for both party unity and getting cadres to conduct themselves according to rules and regulations set by the leadership.  That emphasis underscores the alternative view of some Communist party members that Beijing should rethink the way it trains and promotes cadres, rather than constantly supervising and occasionally punishing them. This conversation is taking place across major party publications, illustrating indecision in some quarters about which weapons the government should be wielding in the war on graft.

Xi’s supporters have also been forced on the defensive by the argument that the anticorruption campaign is having a deleterious effect on an already slowing national economy.  A recent essay that appeared in the Communist party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and various affiliated outlets argued that this “misconception needed clarification,” and went on to insist that “the anticorruption effort isn’t an obstacle but a way to smooth the path of economic development by removing inefficiencies and thereby provide positive energy,” especially in the realm of public opinion.

Even anticorruption czar Wang Qishan has had to come out in the past few days to defend the effort to go after “tigers and flies,” urging more grassroots efforts to identify corrupt officials and asking for patience from the public and fellow party members because, he insisted, “changing the political ethos is not achieved overnight.”

If Xi and his allies were in complete control of the anticorruption narrative, there’d be little need to have to counter criticism of Beijing’s current strategy.

It isn’t clear how this announcement about Zhou will end up playing out in the party ranks. If the formal charges against Zhou help to revitalize Xi’s anticorruption campaign, the strategy of striking hard will reinforce the sense that Xi is still on the right path. But to some cadres who want more accountability and party reform instead of political revenge, it may read like old news.

via Zhou Yongkang Charges Come As Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Snags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

07/04/2015

China corruption: Nanjing mayor jailed for 15 years – BBC News

The former mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing, Ji Jianye, has been jailed for 15 years for corruption.

Ji Jianye in Nanjing, China (March 2013)

The court in Yantai found Ji guilty of accepting 11.3m yuan ($1.9m; £1.2m) in bribes between 1999 and 2013, when he was dismissed.

As mayor he was nicknamed “Bulldozer” for his heavy promotion of construction and redevelopment in Nanjing.

Ji is the latest high profile official to be jailed under President Xi Jinping‘s corruption crackdown.

The court said in a statement that it had been “lenient in meting out punishment, as Ji admitted his guilt and showed repentance”.

Ji assumed the powerful role of mayor of Nanjing in 2010. The city is the capital of Jiangsu province and home to about seven million people.

In January 2013 he was placed under investigation suspected of “severe violations of disciplines and laws”. He was arrested and expelled from the ruling Communist Party last year.

via China corruption: Nanjing mayor jailed for 15 years – BBC News.

04/04/2015

Stolen artefacts: Relics of plunder | The Economist

BEFORE it was removed from display earlier this month, a Buddha statue formed the centrepiece of an exhibition at Budapest’s Natural History Museum. Encased in layers of clay, enamel and gold paint was a monk, mummified 1,000 years ago. The origins of this Chinese relic, just one of millions scattered across the globe, many of them plundered, were misty until a village in south-east China claimed it—and demanded it back.

On March 6th Lin Yongtuan of Yangchun chanced on a photo of the statue while browsing online. He thought it looked like the statue of Zhanggong Zushi, a revered monk, stolen from the village temple in 1995. After reviewing the archives and faded photographs, the authorities agreed. They have pledged to secure its return. This will not be simple. It belongs to a private collector who acquired it in 1995 from another who bought it from a “sincere Chinese Hong Kong art friend”. But where there is a will, there may be a way.

In 2009 Christie’s, an auction house, sold two bronze heads despite Beijing’s open disapproval. The winning $38m bid came from an adviser to China’s national treasures fund—who refused to pay. Eventually the chairman of Kering, which owns Christie’s, bought the heads and gave them to the National Museum of China. They were repatriated in 2013—the very year Christie’s became the first Western auction house licensed to operate by itself in China.

via Stolen artefacts: Relics of plunder | The Economist.

03/04/2015

Hindus to be world’s 3rd largest population by 2050, says Pew Research Centre’s religious report – The Hindu

The world population of Hindus will grow rapidly between now and 2050, based on a relatively high expansion rate and the youth profile of this community. The largest global growth, however, will be among Muslims, outpacing the growth of every other religion’s population.

Hindus will become the world’s third largest population by 2050 while India will overtake Indonesia as the country with the largest Muslim population, according to a new study.

This was a key result of an in-depth study on “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” by the Pew Research Center, which sought to explain “Why Muslims Are Rising Fastest” in terms of the community’s higher fertility – 3.1 children per woman – and the fact that 34 per cent of Muslims are below the age of 15 years.

The Pew growth projections report says that India would retain a Hindu majority but would also have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.

Worldwide, the Hindu population is projected to rise by 34 per cent over the period, from a little over 1 billion to nearly 1.4 billion, roughly keeping pace with overall population growth, the report noted.

By 2050, Hindus will be third, making up 14.9 per cent of the world’s total population, followed by people who do not affiliate with any religion, accounting for 13.2 per cent, the report said.

People with no religious affiliation currently have the third largest share of the world’s total population.

The Hindu population’s fertility rate, at 2.4 children per woman, is second to the Muslim figure, but ranks above Jewish and Buddhist fertility, respectively at 2.3 and 1.6 children per woman.

Further, 30 per cent of Hindus are below the age of 15, which is lower than the corresponding number for Muslims, while at the other end of the age spectrum seven per cent of Muslims were above 60 years old in 2010 and the figure for Hindus was eight per cent.

The Pew study found that Muslims would nearly double their numbers in Europe to more than ten per cent by 2050 and would outnumber Christians worldwide by 2070, according to the forecast of the growth of religions around the world.

In North America, the Hindu share of the population was expected to nearly double in the decades ahead, the report’s authors said, up from 0.7 per cent in 2010 to 1.3 per cent in 2050, when migration is included in the projection models.

However, without including migration effects the Hindu share of the region’s population would remain “about the same.”

via Hindus to be world’s 3rd largest population by 2050, says Pew Research Centre’s religious report – The Hindu.

31/03/2015

What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company

What could happen in China in 2015?

What do you get when you add slower economic growth, greater volatility, and rising competition to more international flights and genuine Chinese innovation? McKinsey director Gordon Orr’s annual predictions.

December 2014 | byGordon Orr

It seemed harder to prepare my “look ahead” this year. On reflection, I believe this is because political and economic leaders in China have clear plans and supporting policies that they are sticking to. You can debate the pace at which actions are being taken, but not really the direction in which the country is traveling. This means a number of the themes I highlighted for this year will remain relevant in 2015:

What could happen in China in 2015?

Author Gordon Orr discusses his China predictions with McKinsey director Nick Leung and principal Yougang Chen.

Improving productivity and efficiency will remain the key to maintaining profitability for many companies, given lower economic growth (overall and at a sector level) and the impact of producer price deflation on multiple sectors.

The impact of technology as it eliminates jobs in services and manufacturing will become even greater (but still not in government).

As a result, the government will keep a sharper focus on net job creation and the quality of those new positions. Companies will hire even more information technologists to keep up in the race to exploit technology better than their competitors.

The push to lower pollution, and now carbon emissions, will lead to even greater investment in domestic solar and wind farms, boosting the global position of Chinese producers.

High-speed-rail construction will continue domestically and increasingly abroad, as Chinese companies become the builder of choice for high-speed rail globally.

Beyond these, there are several additional themes that will be important in 2015. I describe them below.

What else may happen in 2015? – see article:

via What could happen in China in 2015? | McKinsey & Company.

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