Posts tagged ‘Uttar Pradesh’

15/12/2016

India court bans liquor shops on highways – BBC News

India’s top court has ordered all liquor shops to shut down along state and national highways in an attempt to reduce drink driving and road accidents.

The court told the government to stop issuing new licenses and not renew the existing ones after 31 March.More than 146,000 people died last year in traffic accidents in the country.

About 5% – or 6,755 – deaths were due to cases where the driver was either drunk or had taken drugs.

Can India really halve its road deaths?

India crashes kill 146,133 in 2015

What Al Capone can teach India about prohibition”

(There should be) no liquor vends on national and state highways,” news agency AFP quoted Chief Justice TS Thakur, who headed the three-judge bench, as saying in his order on Thursday.The court also said that all liquor advertisements should be removed from the highways and shops selling alcohol must be located at least 500 metres (1,640 feet) away from them.

Campaigners say the large number of liquor shops located along the highways are “a great temptation and a distraction for road users”.

Alcohol is banned in four Indian states (Gujarat, Bihar, Manipur, Nagaland) and the union territory of Lakshadweep. There’s a partial ban on sale of alcohol in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Source: India court bans liquor shops on highways – BBC News

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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

02/09/2016

Jobs elusive as India clings to fastest-growing economy tag | Reuters

It’s been two years since India emerged as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but the rapid expansion has done little to improve the lot of Ashok Kumar.

Parked up and sitting on the kerb, the 25-year-old truck driver is going nowhere fast. He is the sole breadwinner for the 13 people in his extended family and his monthly salary is stuck at $150.

With new, better-paid jobs hard to come by, Kumar lacks options. He fears becoming unemployed like his elder brother, who recently returned to their village in Uttar Pradesh after months of searching in vain for work.

Data out on Wednesday showed India’s economic growth slowed to 7.1 percent in the quarter to June, a 15-month low. That is faster than other major economies, but not fast enough to create enough new jobs to absorb all the one million people who join the workforce every month.

A government survey found that job creation fell by more than two-thirds in 2015. Analysts at HDFC Bank estimate that for every percentage point the economy grows, employment now adds just 0.15 of a percentage point – down from 0.39 in 2000.

It’s a major challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to create 250 million jobs over the next decade.

“For one job, there are at least 20 candidates,” said Kumar. “If you want the job, you can’t afford to bargain.”

Nearly two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people are under 35 years old. This rising demographic “bulge” will create the largest working-age population in the world. At the same time China, which has long curbed family size, will age as a society.

Whether this so-called demographic dividend will translate into the kind of economic gains seen in Japan and Korea, or lead to upheavals, depends on India’s ability to generate jobs.

Yet, despite average annual growth of 6.5 percent between 1991 and 2013, India added less than half the jobs needed to absorb new job seekers.

MORE WORKERS, FEWER JOBS

Under Modi, India has opened up further to foreign investment, hoping to generate more manufacturing jobs. A loan scheme for small businesses has been set up and there are plans for a $1.5 billion fund for startups.

Modi has also launched a programme to train over 4 million people in different skills in six years.Pronab Sen, country director for the International Growth Centre, a British-backed think tank, said such measures were “laudable”, but they aimed at boosting supply when more demand was needed.

“India has become a demand-starved economy,” Sen said. “If there is no demand, there will be no incentive to produce more which, in turn, will mean no new jobs.”

The level of desperation for work is staggering. In August, nearly half a million people, including post-graduates, applied for 1,778 jobs as sweepers in the city of Kanpur.

This was not a one-off. Last year, in Uttar Pradesh, 2.3 million people sought 368 low-level government jobs that required a primary education and ability to ride a bicycle.

Competition for such jobs has become fiercer as the public sector’s share in formal employment is declining.

Two years of drought has caused distress in farming, while the construction business has suffered a prolonged downturn – making work scarcer in the two sectors that employ the bulk of India’s unskilled workforce.

Satellite cities around the capital, like Greater Noida were, until recently, bustling with construction activity.

Now, Greater Noida’s skyline is dotted with half-built, abandoned, high-rises. Cranes and diggers stand idle.

In Delhi and the surrounding National Capital Region, housing starts fell 41 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year, according to consultancy Knight Frank. Across India, starts were down 9 percent from a year earlier.

Bhuwan Mahato, a contractor who supplies workers to construction projects around Noida, says demand for labour is down by at least 25 percent.

“I wish I hadn’t joined this business,” said Mahato, a 30-year-old migrant from the state of Bihar. “But, truthfully, there are no other opportunities, either.”

Source: Jobs elusive as India clings to fastest-growing economy tag | Reuters

19/08/2016

Cowboys and Indians | The Economist

CLOSE your eyes and you could be in a farmyard: a docile heifer slurps a grassy lunch off your hand, mooing appreciatively. Now open your eyes to the relentless bustle of a huge city: the cow is tied to a lamp-post, cars swerve to avoid it and its keeper demands a few rupees for providing it with the snack.

Across Mumbai, an estimated 4,000 such cow-handlers, most of them women, offer passing Hindus a convenient way to please the gods. In a country where three-quarters of citizens hold cows to be sacred, they form part of an unusual bovine economy mixing business, politics and religion.India is home to some 200m cows and more than 100m water buffaloes. The distinction is crucial. India now rivals Brazil and Australia as the world’s biggest exporter of beef, earning around $4 billion a year. But the “beef” is nearly all buffalo; most of India’s 29 states now ban or restrict the slaughter of cows. With such strictures multiplying under the government of Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, entrepreneurs have sought new ways to profit.

One promising line of business has been to become a gau rakshak, or cow protector. Some of these run charitably funded retirement homes for ageing cows, including rural, ranch-style facilities advertised on television. Other rakshaks have proven more concerned with punishing anyone suspected of harming cows or trading in their meat. Such vigilantes have gained notoriety in recent years as attacks on meat-eating Muslims or on lower-caste Hindus working in the leather trade have led to several deaths. A mob assaulted a group of Dalits (the castes formerly known as untouchables) last month in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat, thinking they had killed a cow. In fact they were skinning a carcass they had bought legitimately; Dalits traditionally dispose of dead cows.

More commonly, India’s less scrupulous cowboys simply demand protection money from people who handle cattle. An investigation by the Indian Express, a newspaper, found that cattle breeders in the northern state of Punjab were forced to pay some 200 rupees ($3) a cow to ensure that trucks transporting livestock could proceed unmolested. Under pressure from the rakshaks, the state government had also made it harder to get permits to transport cattle.

Earlier this month Mr Modi broke a long silence on the issue. Risking the ire of his Hindu-nationalist base, the prime minister blasted “fake” gau rakshaks for giving a good cause a bad name. If they really cared about cows, he said, they should stop attacking other people and instead stop cows that munch on rubbish from ingesting plastic, a leading cause of death.

In any case, vigilantism and the beef trade generate minuscule incomes compared with India’s $60 billion dairy industry. The country’s cows and buffaloes produce a fifth of all the world’s milk. As Indian incomes rise and consumers opt for costlier packaged brands, sales of dairy products are rising by 15% a year. But although a milk cow can generate anywhere from 400 to 1,100 rupees a day, this still leaves the question of what to do with male animals, as well as old and unproductive females.

Not all can be taken in by organised shelters. This makes the urban cow-petting business a useful retirement strategy. A good patch (outside a temple, say) can generate around 500 rupees a day from passers-by. Feed costs just 20 rupees a day, says Raju Gaaywala, a third-generation cow attendant whose surname, not coincidentally, translates as cow-handler.

He inherited his patch in Mulund, a northern suburb of Mumbai, when his father passed away in 1998. His latest cow, Lakshmi, cost him 4,000 rupees around three years ago and generates around 40 times that every year, enough to send his three children to English-language schools and, he hopes, to set them up in a different form of entrepreneurship.

The handlers fear their days may be limited. A nationwide cleanliness drive has targeted urban cow-handlers, who are in theory liable for fines of 10,000 rupees. In practice the resurgent Hindu sentiment under Mr Modi should help leave the cattle on the streets. It may kick up other opportunities, too. Shankar Lal, an ideological ally of the prime minister’s, in an interview with the Indian Express extolled the many health merits of cow dung. Spreading a bit on the back of a smartphone, as he does every week, apparently protects against harmful radiation. Usefully for Indian farmers, only local cows can be used, not Western breeds such as Holsteins or Jerseys, he warns: “Their dung and milk are nothing but poison.”

Source: Cowboys and Indians | The Economist

08/08/2016

India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

A group concerned about the safety of India’s cows has embarked on a controversial and ambitious mission this month: counting all the cattle in the state of West Bengal.

“Our aim is to save the cow mother,” said Subrata Gupta, president of the Bengal branch of Cow Development Cell, which used to be associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The group will use the data to protect the state’s cows, many of which are being illegally exported to Bangladesh and Pakistan for slaughter, said Mr. Gupta.

The status of cows — an animal deeply revered in Hinduism – is a divisive issue in the country. Critics say conservative Hindu groups, emboldened by the BJP’s power in New Delhi, are eating away at the country’s secular roots by trying to ban beef consumption.

Over the weekend Mr. Modi spoke out against self-styled vigilantes who say they are trying to protect cows. He urged state governments to punish them when they use cow protection as a rationalization for hate crimes.

Cow slaughter is already illegal in many Indian states–including Uttar Pradesh where a Muslim man was killed by a mob last year following rumors he had slaughtered a cow for food.

The eastern state of West Bengal, however, allows the killing of cows during the Islamic religious festival of Eid.

Around 6,000 volunteers from Mr. Gupta’s group are going door-to-door across state to record how many cows each household owns. The group wants to finish the survey before Sept. 12, when Muslims will celebrate Eid.

“Thousands of cows are being smuggled across India’s border into Bangladesh, where they will be slaughtered,” said Mr. Gupta of the Cow Development Cell which has groups apprehending cattle trucks, even though it has no legal authority to do so.

He said activists from the group freed about 40,000 animals last month.

The BJP recently broke ties with Mr. Gupta’s Cow Development Cell.

“It was an all-India decision that a separate cell for cow development is not needed,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of the BJP in West Bengal.

That hasn’t stopped Mr. Gupta and his army of self-styled cow protectors who say they will release the results of the cow census on Sept. 15.

Source: India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

29/02/2016

India unveils fire-fighting budget to placate voters, sustain growth | Reuters

The government unveiled a fire-fighting budget on Monday that seeks to win back support among rural voters for Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government and sustain growth against a grim global backdrop – all without borrowing more.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley‘s third budget marked a strategic shift by addressing rural distress in a country of 1.3 billion, where two-fifths of families rely on farming and are reeling from two years of drought.

At the same time it hiked public investment in India’s woeful infrastructure by 22.5 percent, while taking further steps to revive corporate investment that Modi needs to create new jobs for India’s burgeoning workforce.

“We have a shared responsibility to spend prudently and wisely for the people, especially for the poor and downtrodden,” the 63-year-old finance minister told lawmakers in his 100-minute address.

India holds several state elections this year, including in the farming state of West Bengal, with the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, going to the polls in 2017. A strong showing will be vital to Modi’s chances of a second term.

Despite commanding a large majority in parliament’s lower house, Modi’s government has failed to pass several key measures since sweeping to power almost two years ago, raising doubts over the impact of its reform agenda.

Jaitley called Asia’s third-largest economy a bright spot in a gloomy global landscape, and reiterated a forecast that it would grow by 7.6 percent in the fiscal year that is drawing to a close.

Source: India unveils fire-fighting budget to placate voters, sustain growth | Reuters

21/07/2015

Traveling on India’s Roads Is Getting More Dangerous – The Numbers – WSJ

Traveling on India’s roads is getting more dangerous. In 2014 there were 141,526 deaths due to road accidents in the country, up from 137,423 a year earlier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is set to introduce the Road Transport and Safety Bill in the upcoming 18-day session of Parliament, which starts Tuesday.

It would be India’s first separate legislation to govern road safety. Counter-intuitively, the legislation would reduce penalties for offenses such as drunken driving or speeding, but road-safety campaigners say that would make the law more likely to be enforced.

Until then, some numbers from the National Crime Records Bureau that show how safe it is (or isn’t) to travel on India’s roads.

39.2%

The percentage of India’s accidental deaths in 2014 that were the result of traffic accidents.

May

The month in 2014 in which the most traffic accidents were reported in India. Accidents that month accounted for 9.2%, or 44,106 out of 481,805 of the total traffic accidents that year.

3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The time the largest number of traffic accidents were reported in 2014, making up a total of 34.2% of traffic accidents that year.

2.9%

Amount fatalities from road accidents increased by in 2014, from a year earlier. Road accidents overall increased by 1.8% in 2014.

31.39%

Percentage of road accidents in India in 2014 where at least one person died.

Two wheelers

Type of vehicle most often involved in fatal road accidents. More than one in four (26.4%) of accidental deaths on roads involved motorbikes, scooters and other two wheelers, followed by trucks and lorries at 20.1%, cars at 12.1% and buses at 8.8%. The statistics do not say if this included bicycles.

National highways

Roads which saw the highest number of accidents, contributing to 27.5% of total road accidents. These roads makes up just 1.58% of India’s total road network. State highways had a share of 25.2% of total accidents. The national highways also saw the most fatal accidents – accounting for more than 32.5% of the total deaths on India’s roads in 2014.

Uttar Pradesh

The state with the most road traffic accident deaths in India in 2014 –16,284. Perhaps not surprising, since it is India’s most-populous region. The state was closely followed by Tamil Nadu at 15,190 deaths and Maharashtra at 13,529 deaths.

Speeding

The cause of most road accidents in India in 2014–accounting for 36.8% of total accidents, causing 48,654 deaths and injuring 181,582 people. Dangerous, careless driving or overtaking caused 137,808 road accidents, the data showed, resulting in 42,127 deaths and injuring 138,533 people. Poor weather caused 3.2% of road accidents, while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol contributed to 1.6% of total road accidents

via Traveling on India’s Roads Is Getting More Dangerous – The Numbers – WSJ.

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.

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.

02/04/2015

India’s IT plans suffer from power cuts, congestion – and monkeys | Reuters

As India launches an $18 billion plan to spread the information revolution to its provinces, the problems it faces are a holdover from the past – electricity shortages, badly planned, jam-packed cities, and monkeys.

The clash between the old world and the new is sharply in focus in the crowded 3,000-year-old holy city of Varanasi, where many devout Hindus come to die in the belief that doing so will give them salvation. Varanasi is also home to hundreds of macaque monkeys that live in its temples and are fed and venerated by devotees.

But the monkeys also feast on the fibre-optic cables that are strung along the banks of the Ganges river.

“We cannot move the temples from here. We cannot modify anything here, everything is built up. The monkeys, they destroy all the wires and eat all the wires,” said communications engineer A.P. Srivastava.

Srivastava, who oversees the expansion of new connections in the local district, said his team had to replace the riverside cables when the monkeys chewed them up less than two months after they were installed.

He said his team is now looking for alternatives, but there are few to be found. The city of over 2 million people is impossibly crowded and laying underground cable is out of the question. Chasing away or trapping the monkeys will outrage residents and temple-goers.

Varanasi is part of the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist leader who came to power last May.

A shortage of electricity is further complicating efforts to set up stable Wi-Fi in public places – daily power cuts can last for hours during the sweltering summer in Varanasi and across much of India.

Modi’s government has pledged to lay 700,000 kms (434,960 miles) of broadband cable to connect India’s 250,000 village clusters within three years, build 100 new “Smart Cities” by 2020 and shift more public services like education and health to electronic platforms to improve access and accountability.

via India’s IT plans suffer from power cuts, congestion – and monkeys | Reuters.

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