Archive for ‘Population’

15/02/2019

Fire alarms “faulty” at Delhi blaze hotel, prompting mass reinspections

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hotel that caught fire in the Indian capital on Tuesday, killing 17 people, passed safety checks 14 months ago, but an investigation has revealed breaches of regulations, such as faulty alarms, prompting a mass reinspection of other hotels.

Poorly enforced regulations lead to thousands of deaths in fires across India every year and officials in New Delhi say an overstretched fire service is hampering safety efforts.

The Hotel Arpit Palace passed a fire safety check in December 2017, but a copy of the initial police investigation seen by Reuters showed several breaches of fire regulations, including a lack of signs to guide guests to exits and fire alarms that did not work.

Delhi’s fire service, which is responsible for safety inspections as well as fighting fires, is now reviewing certificates issued to more than 1,500 hotels in one of India’s tourist hubs, a senior fire official told Reuters.

“Fire officers have to do a lot of work,” said Vipin Kental, Delhi’s chief fire officer. “We have to be inspectors and fight fires. We do not have the manpower.”

The city has around 1,700 firefighters, he said, which is less than an eighth of the number in New York, a city with less than half of Delhi’s population.

PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY

The fire is believed to have begun on the hotel’s first floor, spreading quickly through wood-panelled corridors, police say. Among the dead were members of a wedding party from Kerala and a two Buddhist pilgrims from Myanmar.

“From the outside, the building looked intact, but inside everything was completely charred,” a police officer told Reuters.

Two of the 17 died after jumping out of windows in desperation after failing to find emergency exits, added the officer, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

“Fire preparedness is a matter of shockingly low priority in most parts of the country,” said an editorial in the Indian Express, one of the country’s leading newspapers.

A 2018 study by India’s home ministry that found the country had just 2,000 of more than 8,500 fire stations it needs.

More than 17,000 people died in fires in 2015, according to data from the ministry, the last year for which figures are available, one of the largest causes of accidental death in India.

Fire safety is an issue for shanty towns and some of the country’s most expensive real estate.

A day after the Arpit Palace disaster, more than 250 makeshift homes were destroyed in a slum in Paschim Puri, a poor area of New Delhi, though no one was killed.

In 2017, 14 people were killed during a birthday party at a high-end bar in India’s financial capital Mumbai.

In several upscale neighbourhoods in Delhi, police shut hundreds of shops and restaurants last year for trading on floors meant for residential use, though many continue to operate illegally, residents say.

By the boarded-up Arpit Palace in the Karol Bagh area of New Delhi, wires from adjacent hotels still trail across the street, though staff there told Reuters they were complying with fire regulations.

Adding to the safety problems, poorly paid staff in the hotel and restaurant industries are often unable to help guests when fires break out, Kental said.

“They are not trained. They don’t know what to do in the event of a fire,” he said.

Source: Reuters

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05/01/2019

China’s population set to peak at 1.44 billion in 2029 – government report

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s population is set to reach a peak of 1.442 billion in 2029 and start a long period of “unstoppable” decline in 2030, government scholars said in a research report published on Friday.

The world’s most populous country must now draw up policies to try to cope with a declining labour force and a rapidly ageing population, according to the summary of the latest edition of the “Green Book of Population and Labor” published by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Growth in the working population had now stagnated, the report said, and the rising number of elderly people will have a far-reaching impact on the social and economic development in the country, especially if fertility rates remain low.

“From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously ageing population, is bound to cause very unfavourable social and economic consequences,” it said.

China’s population is expected to fall back to 1.36 billion by the middle of the century, it said, which could mean a decline in the workforce of as much as 200 million. If fertility rates remain unchanged, the population could fall to 1.17 billion by 2065, it said.

China decided in 2016 to relax a controversial “one-child policy” aimed at curbing population growth and allow all couples to have two children. However, the country’s birth rate still fell 3.5 percent in 2017 and is expected to have fallen again last year.

China’s “dependency rate” – or the proportion of non-working people, including children and the elderly, in the total population – rose for the first time in more than 30 years in 2011, and is widely predicted to increase further for at least the next few decades.

The proportion of retirees is projected to rise until 2060, the CASS report said, and while the decision to relax “one-child” rules was designed to rebalance China’s age structure, in the short term it will also lead to a greater dependency rate.

According to previous forecasts, China’s elderly population is expected to reach 400 million by the end of 2035, up from around 240 million last year.

05/12/2018

China ‘rejects German human rights delegation’s request’ to visit Xinjiang

China has denied a German human rights delegation access to the far western region of Xinjiang to investigate mass detention centres for Uygurs, according to the German foreign ministry.

German Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler said on Tuesday that the request was made as part of preparations for the annual German-Chinese Human Rights Dialogue in Lhasa on Thursday and Friday.

“I am shocked by reports of the treatment of the Turkic Uygur minority, more than one million of whom are estimated to be imprisoned in internment camps in Xinjiang,” Kofler said, adding that she would continue to ask for permission to travel to Xinjiang.

She said she would also raise Germany’s concerns about religious freedom, civil society, and other human rights issues in China during the meeting in Tibet.

Germany has been a vocal critic of China’s human rights record, including the interment camps in Xinjiang

China says the camps are vocational training centres and part of its anti-terrorism efforts, but critics say Uygurs are forced into centres in violation of human rights.

Former inmates and monitoring groups say people in the camps are subjected to prison-like conditions and forced to renounce their religion and cultural background.

On a trip to China last month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Beijing to be more transparent about conditions in the camps.

Germany, along with the United States and France, called on China to close the camps during a United Nations review of China’s human rights record in Geneva last month.

Last week, Uygur woman Mihrigul Tursun told the United States Congress that she was tortured multiple times while detained in one of the centres, where a number of detainees died.

After the dialogue in Tibet, Kofler will return to Beijing to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is on a state visit.

Last year’s human rights dialogue was cancelled by China, with neither China nor Germany saying why it was called off.

26/05/2017

Indian population is bigger than one-child China’s, claims academic | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

India has overtaken China and become the world’s most populous country, according to an academic who believes that Beijing has overestimated the number of its citizens by as much as 90 million.

With none of the infamous birth control policies that China enforced for decades, India had been expected to become No 1 in the next five to ten years.

However, Yi Fuxian, a researcher and critic of China’s one-child policy, says that the Chinese authorities have greatly overstated the country’s real fertility rate since 1990.

At a conference in Beijing, Mr Yi concluded that China was home to 1.29 billion people at the end of last year, not the 1.38 billion that is Beijing’s official estimate.Mr Yi’s calculations would put China’s population lower than that of India, whose government estimates that the Indian population is 1.33 billion. Yesterday China’s “ministry of births”, the national health and family planning commission, rejected his claims.

“Some people ignored the birth population data issued by the state statistics bureau after revision, make no analysis on the raw data of population census and random surveys, directly gathered, and believe 2015’s total fertility rate is 1.05,” the commission said. “This is completely not in accordance with the real situation.” It said the 2016 fertility rate — births per woman — was 1.7.

Mr Yi, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose book Big Country with an Empty Nest was published in Hong Kong and banned on the mainland, said that the government’s denial came as no surprise.

“I am confident in my research,” he told The Times. If the public knew the true numbers then they and policymakers would have stopped the policies and the commission would have been closed years ago, he added.

He called on China to abolish all restrictions rather than just allowing two children per family, a reform introduced last year.

Its one-child policy was introduced in 1979 and was phased out gradually. There were many exceptions: ethnic minorities were exempt and some families could have a second child if the first was a girl.

The title of the world’s most populous nation probably remains with China for the time being, according to other experts. He Yafu, an independent demographer in Guangdong province, said China’s official population statistics probably are inflated “but it’s impossible to be that much [90 million]”.“China’s population must have exceeded 1.3 billion but is less than 1.4 billion. Figures from social insurance and other areas can also prove that it’s definitely more than 1.3 billion,” Mr He said.

“It’s already too late to abolish the family planning policy because according to surveys, even if the policy was totally relaxed only 5 per cent of families will have a third child. Therefore policy-loosening won’t have too much effect on China’s birthrate.”On online forums Chinese people debated the news. “We don’t want to wear the hat of world’s No 1 population country,” wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Hurry up to give it to India!”

Another sympathised with Mr Yi’s sceptical view of official Chinese statistics, saying: “It’s very normal. The family planning commission made up data for its own long existence, which already wasn’t news a long time ago.”

Source: Indian population is bigger than one-child China’s, claims academic | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

13/10/2016

Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News

The VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, a boarding school in India‘s Uttar Pradesh state, is offering an elite education for pupils drawn from the rural poor.

There are about 200 places on offer each year – but such is the appetite for families to get a better life for their children, there are 250,000 applications.

The school, set up by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, is completely free, and offers the type of education usually available only to the very wealthy.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, a businesswoman and trustee of the foundation, says the school has been modelled on India’s private schools, which put students on the pathway to top universities and high-flying careers.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra wants the school to produce a more meritocratic generation of leaders for India

But the VidyaGyan school is open only to the very clever and very poor – which she describes as the “top of the bottom of the pyramid”.

No-one can even apply u

Unless their family income is below the equivalent of £1,500 per year, and the school carries out checks to make sure that better-off families are not trying to get in.

“Most of India is rural, there is a huge population in India not being tapped for their excellence. They have no access to great universities,” says Ms Malhotra, who is chief executive officer of the HCL technology company.

A performer from Uttar Pradesh prepares to take part in a festival

“We wanted to see if we could have an admissions system that was truly meritorious.”

The admissions system operates on an epic scale.

After the initial 250,000 applications, Ms Malhotra says, about 125,000 turn up to take a written test.

The drop-out rate is a reflection of the tough lives of these families, who might struggle to travel to a local test centre or be stopped by bad weather.

The school’s ambition is for its students to compete anywhere in the world

Based on the results, there is a shortlist of about 6,000 students, who then take another set of tests. There are also visits to the homes of applicants.

This sifting process produces an intake of 200 pupils, boys and girls, who are taught, clothed, fed and housed by the school.

These children from the poorest rural families, a deliberate mix of religions and castes, then receive a high-cost education, exposing them to ideas and opportunities.

It is an intensive process, designed to create a “stepping stone” to top universities in India or abroad.

The school has been founded to help clever poor pupils from Uttar Pradesh

It has become such a phenomenon that there are now coaching academies dedicated to training people for the test.

So far the school has cost the foundation £59m – and Ms Malhotra says there have been questions about whether the money would have been better spent on teaching basic literacy to much bigger numbers of young people.The final intake of 200 pupils stands compared with Uttar Pradesh’s population of about 200 million.

But Ms Malhotra says the distinct purpose of the school is to create a leadership academy focusing on providing a chance for disadvantaged youngsters to compete with India’s elite.

These are the children of poor, uneducated farmers, and she wants them to be equipped to reach the top in politics, business or sport.

The school is intended to provide a stepping stone to top universities

And she says there is a “ripple effect” on the home villages of these pupils, as they see their young people being able to go to a top university in India or in Europe or the United States.

“When students get into a great university, it’s a huge aspirational lift for their village. These students become beacons of hope.”

There are also expectations of paying back to their local communities. In the summer, when they go home, they have to carry out a socially useful project, such as providing cleaner water, clearing away rubbish or finding a safer way of cooking.

“It’s about getting their hands dirty and finding out how to solve problems,” says Ms Malhotra.

Once pupils are accepted, everything in the school is free for families

The school’s first graduates have left with “stellar results”, but she also wants them to be equipped to compete with international students anywhere.

“It’s not just about getting in, they need to be able to survive. All of a sudden you’re thrown in with other highly competitive students from all over the world.”

It will be some time before it is possible to see if they become India’s future leaders, she says. “But they’re on their way.”

Source: Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News

21/10/2015

Time to end China’s one-child policy urgently: government advisers warn of demographic crisis ahead | South China Morning Post

Government advisers have strengthened calls for China to further ease its stringent one-child policy urgently, ahead of a meeting this month during which the Communist Party’s decision-making body will set the tone for national economic and social development for the next five years.

Newborns receive vaccines in a hospital in China. Photo: Reuters

In a report recently submitted to the authorities, China’s top think tanks urged Beijing to immediately relax restrictions on the number of children couples are allowed to have, according to an academic with knowledge of the matter.

The report was based on a survey jointly conducted by several institutes including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Renmin University and a think tank under the national family planning office, said the academic, who did not want to be named.

“There is already a consensus among China’s demographers that the limits should be relaxed,” said Wang Feng, a demographer with the University of California, Irvine, and a guest professor at Fudan University. “It’s … already too late to be doing so.”

While the survey’s contents were not made public, an earlier report by the China Business Network, a consultancy group, said it included predictions of the population trend and when it would peak. The survey had been commissioned by the decision-making authorities, highlighting the likelihood of a revision in the policy, the group said.

Source: Time to end China’s one-child policy urgently: government advisers warn of demographic crisis ahead | South China Morning Post

15/10/2015

Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton on the Chinese and Indian Miracles – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Angus Deaton, the economist who won a Nobel Prize this week, has spent much of his career trying to measure poverty and progress in India and China.

He won the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences award in economics by devising systems to understand consumption and poverty using household surveys and number crunching.

“Deaton’s focus on household surveys has helped transform development economics from a theoretical field based on aggregate data to an empirical field based on detailed individual data,” the academy said.

His decadeslong deep dive into data on the poor, their spending habits and their health gave him a surprisingly upbeat assessment of human progress, largely owed to the great strides that have been made in China and India. His book, “The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality,” documented why the world is a better place to live than it used to be.

A recent World Bank report suggested that more than one billion people might have been lifted out of extreme poverty already this century. Most of that progress was in China and India.

Here are a few of the things Mr. Deaton said in his book about the massive shifts in China and India that are changing the world.

On what China and India have taught us … “China and India are the success stories; rapid growth in large countries is an engine that can make a colossal dent in world poverty.”

On infant mortality in India and China … “India’s decline in infant mortality has been remarkably steady–not at all responsive to changes in the rate of growth–and the absolute decline from 165 out of every 1,000 babies dying in the early 1950s to 53 in 2005-10, is actually larger in absolute numbers than the decline in China, from 122 to 22.”

On how Chinese and Indian bodies have evolved with the economy… “Indian children are still among the skinniest and shortest on the planet but they are taller and plumper than were their parents or grandparents … Indians too are now growing taller decade by decade, though not as quickly as happened in Europe, or indeed as is now happening in China, where people are growing at about (the now familiar figure of) a centimeter every decade. Yet the Indian escape is only half as fast–about half a centimeter a decade–and that figure is for men; Indian women are growing too, but at a much slower rate, so that it takes them sixty years to grow a centimeter.”

On a better measure showing how China and India have lifted the world … “Although China and India are only two countries, their rapid growth at the end of the century meant that around 40% of the world’s population lived in countries that were growing very rapidly … (Thus) the average country grew at 1.5% a year in the half century after 1960, but the average person lived in a country that was growing at 3%.”

On how long the miracle can continue …  “At least over the past half-century the fast-growing countries in one decade have tended not to repeat their performance in the next or subsequent decades. Japan used to be the place that had perpetually high growth, until it didn’t any more. India, now one of the most rapidly growing countries, seemed capable of only slow growth for much of its existence, not to speak of the half-century that preceded its independence, when there was no growth at all. China is the current long-run superstar, but by historical standards the longevity of its growth spurt is extremely unusual.”

On the difficulty of defining poverty …  “In India, as in any country where a substantial fraction of the population is poor, there are millions of people who are close to poverty, either just above or just below the line … We don’t really know where the line should be, yet its precise position makes a huge difference. To put it more brutally, the truth is that we have little idea what we are doing.”

Source: Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton on the Chinese and Indian Miracles – China Real Time Report – WSJ

20/01/2015

Tapping China’s ‘Silver Hair Industry’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Researchers at Abbott Laboratories in Shanghai are busy testing flavors of nutritional drinks for China’s senior citizens. Kimberly-Clark Corp. has launched television ads for its Depend adult diapers and expanded distribution online. Local e-commerce companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc. are rolling out senior-focused marketing pushes.

The companies are after the growing ranks of people born during a Mao Zedong-inspired baby boom that took the country’s population to nearly one billion people in 1980 from 542,000 in 1949. China’s birthrate dropped sharply during the 1970s and 1980s as the government reversed course and implemented a one-child policy.

The boomers are now hitting old age: China’s over-65 population is projected to soar to 210 million in 2030 from 110 million, and by 2050 will account for a quarter of China’s total population, according to United Nations data. By then, the U.N. says, China’s elderly population may exceed the entire U.S. population.

“What has us interested…is that half a billion people over the age of 60 will be living in China over the next 35 years,” said Scott White, president of Abbott’s international nutrition division.

via Tapping China’s ‘Silver Hair Industry’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

25/01/2014

Global hunt for top skills accelerates – Chinadaily.com.cn

China will speed up the exploration of immigration policies this year to attract skilled foreign workers, a senior official said on Thursday.

However, Zhang Jianguo, head of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, did not give details on when the policies will be introduced.

Experts said Zhang\’s remarks show that China may, for the first time, single out skilled workers as a special category in its general immigration polices, as the country faces a shortage of such workers.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, said the government urgently needs to revise its immigration policies to attract more highly skilled foreigners.

\”China\’s population is aging quickly and we also need more skilled workers for our economic upgrading,\” he said. China needs to loosen its immigration policies, including giving citizenship to skilled foreign nationals, he added.

Such immigration policies are common in Western countries, which roll out favorable measures for the skilled foreign workers they lack.

China has experienced a talent \”deficit\” for years. In 2012 alone, more than 148,000 Chinese obtained overseas citizenship, while just 1,202 expatriates were granted permanent residency in China, according to a report by Wang\’s center on Wednesday.

China usually grants its version of green cards to foreigners in certain categories: Businessmen who have invested at least $500,000 in the country; technical personnel such as managers; people with skills \”needed by the State\” and spouses of Chinese nationals, providing their marriage has lasted at least five years and they have lived in China for at least nine months in each of those years.

via Global hunt for top skills accelerates – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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01/12/2013

Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters

College students in China\’s restive western Xinjiang region will not graduate unless their political views are approved, a university official said, as the country wages what school administrators called an ideological war against separatism.

A Uighur student attends a lesson at the Xinjiang College of Uighur Medicine in Hotan in the southwestern part of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region September 15, 2003. REUTERS/Andrew Wong

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur ethnic group, many of whom resent controls imposed by Beijing and an inflow of Han Chinese migrants. Some Uighur groups are campaigning for an independent homeland for their people.

University officials from Xinjiang said their institutions were a frontline in a \”life and death struggle\” for the people\’s hearts and a main front in the battle against separatism, the ruling Communist Party\’s official newspaper in the region, the Xinjiang Daily, reported on Tuesday.

\”Students whose political qualifications are not up to par must absolutely not graduate, even if their professional course work is excellent,\” said Xu Yuanzhi, the party secretary at Kashgar Teachers College in southern Xinjiang, which has been an epicenter for ethnic unrest.

It is unclear if such a policy has been officially implemented throughout the region.

\”Ideology is a battlefield without gun smoke,\” Xinjiang Normal University President Weili Balati said.

\”As university leaders, we have the responsibility to do more to help students and teachers properly understand and treat religion, ethnicity and culture and help them distinguish between right and wrong,\” he said.

China blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for an attack on October 28, when a vehicle ploughed through bystanders on Tiananmen Square in Beijing and burst into flames, killing three people in the car and two bystanders.

Uighur exiles, rights groups and some experts have cast doubt on the official accounts of what China has deemed terror attacks and foreign reporting of the incident has discussed whether it was motivated by punitive ethnic policies.

An Islamist militant group has released a speech claiming responsibility for the incident, which China\’s Foreign Ministry said should silence those who are skeptical about the threat of terror within China\’s borders.

The Uighurs are culturally closer to ethnic groups across central Asia and Turkey than the Han Chinese who make up the vast majority of China\’s population.

via Xinjiang college says approved political views needed to graduate | Reuters.

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