LIST OF NEWSPAPERS COVERED
CIVIL SERVICE 3-4
INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIETIES 25-27
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 28-30
SOCOAL PROBLEMS 34-36
INDIAN EXPRESS, JUL 14, 2017DoPT asked to prepare proposal on lateral entry into civil services
Sources said instructions have come from the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare a broad outline
of modalities for selecting private individuals for appointment in the ranks of deputy secretary,
director and joint secretary.Written by Amitav Ranjan
Sources said instructions have come from the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare a broad outline of modalities for selecting private individuals for appointment in the ranks of deputy secretary, director and joint secretary.
With a Committee of Secretaries favouring lateral entry into the civil service, the Department of
Personnel & Training (DoPT) has been instructed to put up a proposal on the induction of
outsiders in the middle rung of ministries that deal with economy and infrastructure.
Sources said instructions have come from the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare a broad outline
of modalities for selecting private individuals for appointment in the ranks of deputy secretary,
director and joint secretary. The move was in response to a central government staffing policy
paper where the DoPT had indicated a huge shortage of officers in the middle management level,
Sources said the shortlisting of private sector executives or social workers would be through a
matrix of experience and qualification, without taking into account their existing salaries. The
final selection would be done by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, they said.
The preliminary estimate was that around 40 individuals, including successful entrepreneurs,
academicians and social workers, would be taken in through lateral entry, mainly at the joint-
secretary level where there is a dearth of officers.
According to another official, these appointments would not be for regulating ministries such as
Home, Defence, Personnel or even Corporate Affairs. Last August, Minister of State for
Personnel Jitendra Singh had told Lok Sabha that there was no proposal to constitute a
committee to study the feasibility of lateral entry as such issues required political consensus.
STATESMAN, JUL 10, 2017Modi to interact with Chief Secretaries of states, UTs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday interact with Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories during a conference organised by NITI Aayog to "further the spirit of cooperative and competitive federalism".
Secretaries of finance, health, agriculture, and industry of states and UTs will also attend the National Conference of Chief Secretaries.
The deliberations will cover a wide range of issues. The focus will be on best practices in social and economic sectors across states, an official release said here.
Various developmental indicators developed by NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog in the areas of health, education, water management, and digital transformation will be discussed to measure performance and progress of states/UTs and rank them appropriately to instil a healthy competition among them.
Also, there will be interactive sessions on agricultural reforms, health and nutrition and developmental issues.
Discussions on the financial position of the states and UTs after the 14th Finance Commission, outcome-based monitoring, Direct Benefit Transfer implementation and its progress, ease of doing business figure as key element of the agenda of the daylong conference.
DECCAN HERALD, JUL 11, 2017Halt communal violence in WB×
Very often communal violence in most places is triggered by minor incidents. The violence in Basirhat, Baduria and surrounding areas in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal also started from a Facebook post by a teenager which was considered derogatory by the minority community. The problem could have been resolved at the local level if there was an earnest effort for it. Instead, the situation was allowed to escalate and develop into a political confrontation involving the Trinamool Congress and the BJP, the chief minister and the governor, and the state government and the Centre. More importantly, it marks the disruption of an atmosphere of communal peace that has prevailed in the state for many decades. There has been social and political conflict and violence in the state but it has largely been free of communal eruptions. The Left Front government which ruled it for many decades and the Congress which was the main opposition had made conscious efforts not to exploit communal sentiments and had tried to maintain peace. But the scene may have changed now.
Both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have to share the blame for the present situation. The Trinamool Congress has a solid support base among the Muslims who are considered to have shifted their allegiance to the party from the CPM. The party and its government under Mamata Banerjee are seen to be the protectors and benefactors of the minority community. The BJP has tried to turn this to its advantage by pandering to the Hindu sentiment and championing the majority community’s causes. West Bengal is among the states where the party has targeted in its next phase of growth. This has resulted in growing communal polarisation and the present situation is a sign of that reaching the stage of conflict and confrontation. This is dangerous in a state with a high minority population. Instead of working together to douse the communal fire, both parties have tried to take advantage of it.
The Union Home Ministry and the state government have different views and approaches, and the state has sent the central forces back. The BJP wants the state government dismissed and Mamata Banerjee has demanded recall of Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi who she says spoke to her like a ‘BJP block president’. Such stand-offs can only aggravate the situation. What is needed is strong and effective steps to end the violence and ease tension in the affected areas, and stern action against trouble-makers. The government should not be seen as having an unfair bias in favour of the minority community and the BJP should stop from exploiting the situation.
DECCAN HERALD, JUL 12, 2017Widen purpose of teachingShukla Bose×A Need for Good TeachersThere seems to be some traction in the realm of education in India of late. More reality checks are being made in government schools and some attention is being given to assessing learning outcomes of students rather than just celebrating enrollment and attendance.
It is through the Annual Status of Education Report reports that we have become aware that the percentage of children in Grade 2 who still cannot recognise numbers from one to nine has actually increased from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014. And this is a common phenomenon in other areas of competency in all the government primary schools.
While it is easy to criticise the public education system, the scene in the low budget private schools is no better. The poor actually pay fees that they can barely afford, to admit their children in the so called English medium schools just to get away from the perceived dysfunctionality of the government schools.
This puts greater onus on the private school managements, which they are either unwilling or incapable to fulfil. I have witnessed a Grade 5 English class being conducted entirely in Kannada and that I am told is quite common across many such schools in Karnataka. Why has our education system reached such abysmal depths of incompetency? The answer is simple. While we have spent years and crores of rupees on infrastructure, curriculum and technology, we have not paid enough attention to the real game changer - the teacher.
Over the last three decades, the position of teaching as a profession has fallen in the eyes of society. The question I often ask is while a doctor inspires and encourages his own children to follow medicine or an architect his profession, why is that a teacher actively discourages his/her children from being a teacher?
I am saying this with several years of observation of the teaching fraternity. And we see this trend as we walk through classes in several schools, both government and private. Most kids want to be astronauts, engineers and doctors but only one timid tentative hand will go up for teaching.
Is it because children are no longer inspired by the teachers they are interacting with everyday or is it because they think that this profession is not well paid? I have come across many people who think that the government schoolteachers are not interested in their work because they are poorly paid. That is total fallacy.
The Seventh Pay Commission has lifted the entry salary of a trained teacher to a similar salary structure of a new entrant to a mid level company in the IT industry. The teachers have even been given a hike of nearly 24% in their pension, which a software engineer rarely gets. So it is not the salary that is the problem.
Recently, 7.53 lakh candidates took the Tamil Nadu Teachers Eligibility Test and 95% failed to get through. Most of them failed in science and mathematics as the success rate of candidates from these streams was only 2.72%. While some claim to be shocked with this news, I am not a tad surprised.
After all, these teachers too are products of the same school system. There are several thousand colleges in India providing B Ed degrees. The National Council for Teacher Education under the Ministry of Human Resource Development has approved 144 of these colleges that have produced about eight million teachers in the country.
So one wonders who is exactly responsible for the poor motivation and talent in the teaching fraternity? The best talent never wants to take up teaching because of wrong perceptions of salary and right perceptions of the work place climate. There have been several attempts to fill in the growing vacuum of good teachers by providing quality content through ICT. This has shown moderate success in some states but we have to admit that ICT in education has failed to match the investment that has been made in this sector.
We can give teachers many digital tools but till they begin to use them, the impact will never be seen. Many believe that technology can never replace teachers and till teachers are ignited and inspired to teach, no change will happen. So what can be done in this scenario?
Culture of pride
We need to resurrect pride in the teaching profession and have teachers aspire for that profession. This is possible only if the management, and in this case both the government and the private, spend time, effort and energy to build a culture of pride in the schools.
More time has to be invested in getting the teachers find a purpose that makes them feel proud of what they do everyday. I have worked with schools where there is a vision for each class, each school, which leads to the vision for the entire institution. And all teachers work towards that collective vision.
Good teachers know that they are not into creating consumers but citizens. They know that they are special because their focus is not their income but the outcome. Teachers should take equal share of pride and responsibility when their students do well. They need expertise, caring and a lot of patience. They must realise that they are not just teaching but building a nation of creative and critical thinkers.
In today’s world of speed, scale and importance of the tangibles, we have lost out on the essentials. These essentials of teaching include building relationships with students and their world, of empathising with the turbulence that the students face.
And that is what makes teaching, a life-changing and meaningful exercise. The moment we widen the purpose of teaching, the faster will teachers be proud of their profession and look at it not as a job but a mission of change. That is when the best will become teachers.
(The writer is founder of NGO, Parikrma Humanity Foundation, Bengaluru)
HINDUSTAN TIMES, JUL 11, 2017No degree if one doesn’t do yoga or sports in engineering, technical institutes
Students will have to ensure 25% attendance in one of these activities although there won’t be any marks for their performance.
Students of engineering colleges and technical institutes will have to take part in yoga, sports or
other socially relevant activities in addition to their regular academics to be awarded a degree.
Earlier, the institutions had these activities, including National Social Service (NSS), National
Cadet Corps (NCC) and the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, but these were not compulsory for earning a
Now, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which governs more than 10,000
institutions having over 18 lakh students, has made these mandatory.
Students will have to ensure 25% attendance in one of these activities although there won’t be
any marks for their performance.
Officials said the move will help in the holistic development of students.
“Apart from studies, students need to do other activities too which is good for their well-being and for the society too,” a senior AICTE official said.
Welcoming the move, Pooja Sharma, a BTech student, said unless it is made mandatory, students
will not take it up.
For example, under the government’s flagship Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, which aims to uplift rural
India, students will have to visit villages and engage with the rural folk to learn from their
“By doing yoga or sports they can take care of their health,” the official said.
The all India boards of studies was considering incorporation of yoga and value addition to the
curriculum of engineering courses, the HRD ministry had said recently.
Last month, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had asked all universities and colleges to
prioritise the celebration of the International Yoga Day (IYD), and submit proof of activities
undertaken by students and faculty for review.
Under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA), the government aims to uplift rural India by enabling
higher educational institutions to work with villages in identifying development challenges and
finding solutions for enabling sustainable growth.
The NSS is a large-scale community service programme meant for the youth to engage with
social problems and is run by universities across the country. Delhi University, for instance, took
up the programme in 1969.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, JUL 10, 2017Pay hike for college teachers after a decade, 8 lakh staff to get raise
As per the proposal, an assistant professor’s entry pay would jump by Rs 10,396 with a grade pay of Rs 6,000 while that of an associate professor will rise by Rs 23,662.
The last pay hike for teachers was implemented in 2006.(HT FIle Photo)
Nearly 8,00,000 teachers and staff working in colleges, universities and institutions run by the
Centre and state governments are set to get a pay hike in the range of 22-28%.
The Cabinet is set to take up a UGC panel’s recommendation in this regard this month itself,
sources said, adding that it is “most likely to sail through”.
“A decision on allowances will be taken up later,” a senior HRD ministry official said.
As per the proposal, an assistant professor’s entry pay would jump by Rs 10,396 with a grade
pay of Rs 6,000 while that of an associate professor will rise by Rs 23,662.
The last pay hike for teachers was implemented in 2006. Several teachers’ associations of
various universities and colleges have been threatening to go on strike over the delay in
implementation of the seventh pay commission even after the UGC panel submitted its report in
February this year.
The pay revision will benefit faculty and staff in state government-funded colleges and
universities, at central universities, and other centrally funded technical institutions such as IITs,
NITs, among others.
Centrally-funded technical institutions will have a separate pay structure and a different pay
panel has suggested increasing their salary structure, but the proposals are being considered
together, officials said.
The pay hike is likely to cost approximately Rs 70,000 crore over a period of three years, and
this would be shared equally by the Centre and states, sources said.
The government had last year constituted a pay review committee, headed by UGC member VS
Chauhan, which had submitted its recommendations earlier this year. Following this, the HRD
ministry formed a committee to review the recommendations.
As per the recommendation, the existing system of assessing annual performance of teachers has
also been revised, keeping in view suggestions from various stakeholders. For instance, the
current point system is likely to be replaced by a grading system.
The Committee has also suggested linking grants to universities to the vacant posts filled by
them and qualified individuals to be able to make direct entry at both associate and professor
HINDUSTAN TIMES, JUL 10, 2017Time to wage a war on rote learning, but it will need courage and perseverance
India is plagued by the problem of the ‘educated unemployable’. According to some studies, only one of four graduates coming out of engineering and professional colleges are suitable for jobs.
It is that time of the year when most undergraduate colleges in India are nearing the end of the
admission process. Hundreds of thousands of exam-weary high-school students, with many a
harassed and anxious parent in tow, will have learnt of their fates. There will be winners, having
gained the colleges and the courses of their choice, alongside those compelled to make do with
plan B. A good chunk, however, will also find themselves left out in the cold. Others will
explore greener and costlier education pastures overseas, while there will also be many herded
into for want of a better term — degree granting shops.
The transition from high school to college in India, as we have begun to realise, is at bursting
point -- not merely in the sense of not having enough quality institutions for the demographic
youth bulge, but mostly over the rising despair about the kind of students being produced by our
schools. If one goes by the percentage of marks, then it appears that a good number have barely
made an error over the course of a punishing three-hour exam. This includes, surprisingly and
especially for my generation on the wrong side of the 40s, in subjects such as literature, history
and the range in the social sciences. One remains in wonderment over how ‘objective’ such
subjects can possibly be? And how remarkable can the grading be that it seems to discover only
the infallible, year after year.
And yet, India is also plagued by the growing problem of the ‘educated unemployable’.
According to some studies, only one out of four graduates coming out of engineering and
professional colleges in India are found suitable for employment. That number drops to one out
10 when it comes to general education. Many of our engineers and those freshly minted out of
the vast network of universities have poor abilities to frame problems, suffer from grim language
skills and suffer from the most basic crisis of comprehension. Inadequacies and failings that can
all be unambiguously traced to poor education, something that may be worse than having no
education at all.
Among policy makers and corporate honchos these days, there is a lot of talk about the urgent
need to harness employability among Indian graduates through curriculum changes, adoption of
global best practices, deepening industry-university links, soft skill training and so on. But none
of these would address the problem that lies at the core of the Indian education system – rote
The education system we have built over the years rewards anything but knowledge acquired
over the years spent in a school or a college. From the time a child enters the school, he/she is
taught to believe the result of an examination is more important than how it is achieved. A 17-
year-old budding historian is tested on his ability to recall and remember events rather than
evaluate and analyse the social, political or economic implications of the same. What good will
memorising mathematical and scientific formulae do if an aspiring scientist or engineer fails to
apply them to the world around her? That is why even the best of schools in India fare worse
compared to the average-rated schools in the OECD countries. That is why no one any longer
speaks of India’s youth bulge as a demographic dividend. It is, as we speak, fast turning out to be
a liability of monstrous consequences in the time to come.
It is time we launched an all-out war on rote learning. It is not going to be easy, for undoing our
reliance on rote learning would mean outcomes that will be financially overbearing and
politically unpopular. It would require courage and perseverance of the kind we demonstrated
when we made universal basic education a fundamental right. Now is the time to redefine the
ambitions of the Right to Education Act, which must mean right to quality education.
TRIBUNE, JUL 14, 2017Hard questionsElection Commission flip-flop draws judges’ ire
For long the Election Commission has escaped a serious public/media/judicial scrutiny. Liberal praise has often been lavished on this constitutional body — deservingly most often — for conducting “free and fair” elections. But its apparent failure to curb the use of black money in elections or enforce the cap on election expenditure has been overlooked. The commission winks at poll code violations by top politicians. There is little enthusiasm to link cash/drug seizures with contesting candidates. Given its importance in the democratic setup, these are serious issues.
There is, however, reason for hope and cheer. The Supreme Court has caught the commission wanting in its contribution towards decriminalising politics. Constitutional bodies often zealously guard their territory but the poll panel has happily conceded its autonomy to the legislature. A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha on Wednesday subjected the poll panel to some tough questioning after it hesitated to take a stand on the plea to ban convicted politicians from contesting elections for life. In an earlier affidavit the commission had supported the idea of a lifetime ban but on Wednesday its counsel said the poll body was in favour of “decriminalisation of politics” without endorsing the plea for a lifetime ban and the issue was in the legislative domain. To this the Bench response rather amounted to a rebuke: “Can you afford to remain silent when it is within the domain of the commission? If you don’t want to be independent, if you want to be constrained by the legislature, constrained even to express your views, say so freely.”
The commission’s affidavit had in fact gone a step further. It had backed the plea to bar convicts from forming political parties as well as becoming office-bearers of political parties. The climbdown in the commission’s stand has coincided with the recent change in its leadership. A few days ago the apex court had questioned the absence of a mechanism, a formal law or a panel to make the Election Commission appointments. It is welcome that some uncomfortable questions are now being asked. There are systemic loopholes and the functioning of the commission needs improvement, particularly its timid approach towards politicians.
HINDUSTAN TIMES, JUL 13, 2017Jobs in India: Lack of data hampering State efforts to address unemployment
One way to do it is, as suggested by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, to increase the frequency of the National Sample Survey
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) asked firms, which had hidden employees who were eligible for PF contributions, to bring these workers into the rolls(HT)
The Blind Men of Hindoostan make a reprise every time there is a debate on jobs in India. This
was further proven by the results the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) amnesty
scheme for the formal sector that ended in June. The EPFO had asked firms, which had hidden
employees who were eligible for PF contributions, to bring these workers into the rolls. The bait:
The companies would not be penalised for this disclosure. Over 10 million workers were added
to the provident fund rosters during the amnesty. To put that into perspective, the government’s
estimates for total formal sector employment in India is about 48 million of whom 38 million
were on the EPFO roster. The amnesty increased the EPFO’s subscriber pool by 26% and
probably total formal sector employment estimates by a similar percentage.
While the political and intellectual discourse in India is dominated about whether enough jobs
are being created, about the quality of these jobs and how government policies are or are not
helping employment, the truth is much of this is done wearing sunglasses in a dark room at night.
As the vice-chairman of Niti Aayog, Arvind Panagariya, has pointed out, of the two official
surveys used to calculate the state of employment in India one misses all shops and plants that
employ less than 10 people and is patchy in its coverage of economic sectors, while the other,
which is more accurate, the national sample survey, is done only every five years.
He has proposed that, at the very least, the Survey should be done more often. There are other
issues regarding measures of the job situation, especially in the informal sector and mobile
labour, but suffice to say India has only the most tenuous idea of how its people work.
It is not true that India is suffering from jobless growth. What is true is that India is not
generating enough jobs to absorb the millions of youth entering the workforce every year let
alone the millions of rural Indians fleeing their increasingly unviable farms for the cities.
This has been further aggravated by the continuing stagnation in private sector investment and,
most recently, by demonetisation. What matters politically, in the end, is popular perception and
opinion polls are showing that not only is employment seen as India’s primary problem, concern
on this issue is now greater than it was under the last two Congress-led governments.
STATESMAN, JUL 13, 2017Jobless growth won't help IndiaSubuhi Karim
As Narendra Modi completes three years as prime minister, he must seriously worry about his government's inability to meet the single biggest promise he had made in his election speeches in 2014 - providing jobs to new entrants in India's labour market.
"I can't do much about those in their fifties but I want to transform the lives of those in their twenties who are seeking new employment," Modi had said.
Providing gainful employment opportunities is essential for enabling people to improve their standard of living. For a country like India, which has surplus labour and a strong affinity for new technologies, employment generation in the 21st century poses a new challenge. More recently, the sluggish growth of various sectors of the economy, especially post demonetisation, has made this challenge more severe.
According to the labour ministry's 27th Quarterly Employment Survey of eight employment intensive industries -textile, leather, metals, automobile, gems, Transport, IT and handloom & power loom, there were 43,000 job losses in the first quarter of FY 2015-16. The second quarter was somewhat better, with 134,000 new jobs.
During the decade 2001-11, the growth rate of the labour force (2.23 per cent) was significantly higher than the growth rate of employment (1.4 per cent), which itself was several-fold less than the growth rate of the economy.
According to Census 2011, the average growth rate of the economy was 7.7 per cent per annum, when it was only 1.8 per cent for employment.
The trend of a significant gap between the pace of GDP growth and that of employment growth has given rise to the phenomenon of "jobless growth" in India. The limited impact of booming growth on employment generation is captured in an indicator called employment elasticity or the rate of change of employment per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
This has been secularly declining in the 2000s from 0.44 from 1999-2000 to 2004-05 to a near-zero level of 0.01 from 2004-05 to 2009-10. The situation has worsened due to weak industrial growth, a struggling agriculture sector with widespread drought, cost rationalizations in several sectors and the knock-on effect of a global slowdown. Also, traditionally labour-intensive industries are beginning to increasingly mechanize their operations.
While it makes them more productive and profitable, it also shrinks job opportunities.
The economy has become less labourabsorbent. In 2015, the government expanded the scope of organised industry from just eight manufacturing sectors to include some key services industries such as education and health. This was clearly done to bump up the employment growth figures because the manufacturing sector was showing a very poor growth trend - around 1.5 per cent annually - whereas the service sector was doing much better and growing at 7-8 per cent.
Adding service sectors to the organised sector employment data has helped the government show a slight improvement in new jobs growth in 2016. Prima facie, it is difficult to believe that industries were hiring when the economy was paralyzed by notebandi for about four months.
The bulk of the organised industry was busy managing the new situation caused by demonetisation, with a fall in the sales of manufactured items nearly across the board.
Large manufacturers are trimming operations, throwing many jobs into jeopardy. Nokia, locked in a tax dispute with Indian authorities, shut down its factory in Chennai in November 2014, rendering 8,000 workers jobless. Zomato, a food tech company, laid off 300 employees, or 10 per cent of its workforce, last year as the business went through a squeeze. Currently, the manufacturing sector has an overall employment share of 12-13 per cent.
While this share has been growing, the manufacturing sector has been losing people to the services sector, which is seen as more glamorous, better paid and gain international exposure.
Yet, there are some areas that still stand out when it comes to job creation, notably the financial services and the financial technology sectors. Ever since the RBI granted licenses to around 21 banks in 2015, employment opportunities have been growing. The banks have been opening new branches and hiring personnel to augment their services. Similarly the entry of outfits such as PayTM which combine technology with financial services is also giving a new impetus to job creation.
There is a need to understand that there will always be a trade-off between technology and the workforce previously performing that task. Jobless growth will only ensure that the demographic dividend becomes a demographic curse. There are several steps the government would need to take to bring the country out of this jobless growth trap.
One of them is the reform of labour regulations. Labour law reform that encourages greater flexibility while providing a safety net for the unemployed is equally necessary. Rajasthan has set an example through a recent state-level amendment where it raised employment threshold for enforcement of some of the restrictive provisions of the Factories Act and also raised the minimum membership for the registration of a labor union from 15 to 30 per cent of the firm's employment.
Encouraging states to make their own amendments is a step in the right direction. Additionally, the Centre has rightly set up a web portal for the self-filing of compliance reports pertaining to various central labour laws. India also needs to enable its workforce to adapt to the changing skills requirements accompanying technological progress.
Regulation of enterprises is a major factor that affects job creation. Simplification coupled with "smarter regulations" is the way to go. Encouraging people's entrepreneurial instincts will generate sustainable outcomes. The government could incentivise job creation by giving infrastructure a push. The credibility of employmentunemployment data needs to be established.
At present, the source used for estimating the employment/unemployment rate in India is NSSO data. However, this data is not available annually. Since 12 million people enter the labour force annually, frequent periodic assessment of the labour market is essential.
The writer, a post-graduate in economics, was formerly with the Indian Council of Food & Agriculture and Consumers India.
STATESMAN, JUL 10, 2017Policies should focus on creating more jobsAndrew Sheng
The 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis and 10th anniversary of the North Atlantic financial crisis brought back a sense of déjà vu – we have been here before.
Since last year’s Brexit and Trump election, unpredictable politics was the major disruptor. But the underlying cause was the insecurity of the working class – adjusted for inflation, American median weekly earnings are today no higher than they were in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the CEO in an Indian IT firm earns 400 times the wages of his average worker.
We can trace this severe job disruption to the convergence of several forces of demographics, climate change, technology and policy neglect.
Our current business model centres on the post-war creation of a global supply chain that tapped global resources to feed American and European consumption, paid for largely by US dollars. Technology enabled this supply chain to be built, first by “unbundling production from consumption”, an insight of Professor Richard Baldwin (The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization, Belknap Press, 2016).
The arrival of IT and telecommunications in the 1990s created the second unbundling, distributing knowledge and technology around the world faster, causing convergence between the advanced countries and the emerging markets. China was smart enough to use this opportunity to create jobs in manufacturing and assembly during this period.
Baldwin thinks that the third convergence will be caused by cost reductions in moving people, using telepresence and telerobotics. But as advanced markets age and become saturated in terms of consumption, the emerging markets are facing rising populations through high birthrates, growing stresses from rapid urbanization, and inability of their governance model to adapt to new technology. The result is rising unemployment, especially amongst the youth. When you add climate stress and food shortages from drought, agricultural failure, corruption and civil unrest, the outcome is civil war and spreading terrorism.
Europe is a rich region with an unemployment level of 8 per cent, roughly double that in the US, but as high as 11 per cent in Italy and 23 per cent in Greece. Worse, youth unemployment averages 19 per cent across Europe, and is as high as 41per cent in Spain and 45 per cent in Greece. The situation is creaking at the seams, stabilized only with welfare subsidies.
Europe’s neighbours, however, are facing serious climate warming problems. The United Nations has already declared that large parts of Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan are facing famine, partly man-made but largely from drought. Syria was previously a fairly rich country, but four years of drought, civil unrest and regional interference led to civil war. The migration at the rate of over 1 million a year into Europe comes at a time when Europe is struggling with its own internal debt and banking issues. It does not take much imagination to predict that if her neighbouring countries fall into disarray, there will be more migration into the cooler climates in Europe. With such social strains, European growth cannot recover as expected, and domestic politics will become more protectionist and inward looking.
Inward migration will keep wages low, whilst the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence will cut the need for existing workers. In 2016, an Obama Administration report estimated that just under half of existing jobs are at risk of being eliminated over the next two decades. This does not mean that jobs will not be created at the same time. The Gig economy means that more and more people are working independently and part time.
The arrival of Uber and AirBnB has rebundled consumption and income. Consumption goods (cars and housing) are becoming sources of new income. Excess capacity is being utilized in the new sharing economy. But we have not yet found a way to use the excess capacity of labour. We do not have as yet a Uberlike labour sharing platform, mainly because trust is what prevents us from hiring services of those we do not know.
Last month’s BIS Annual Report warned about the rekindling of inflation, even as the US unemployment level keeps dropping. The Fed is keen to “normalize” interest rates, and even the European Central Bank and Bank of England have signaled concerns about inflation. A lot of analysts wonder whether with increasing robotization, excess capacity and flat wages inflation will flare up. Lower oil prices suggest that there are worries that the US and Europe may perform worse than expected. But with unpredictable geo-politics and climate change, conditions can change rapidly. If the global food supply is shocked by drought or natural disasters, consumer prices may spike up fairly quickly.
Bottom line – the real fear is stagflation – growth stagnation with consumer inflation that worsens social inequality.
The job situation is perilous in many countries. McKinsey estimated that 45 per cent of the global working-age population is under-utilised, namely, unemployed, inactive or underemployed. Furthermore, more than 75 million youth are unemployed, many in the high population growth/low GDP income areas, vulnerable to social unrest.
There is a generational gap in understanding the issue of job creation. The old supply chain benefited the large multinationals and local champions, at the expense of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The establishment is owned by aging baby-boomers, whereas the start-ups are mostly the young. There are only 45,000 companies listed on global stock exchanges, meaning that millions of smaller companies do not access public equity capital.
Yes many SMEs fail, but as Silicon Valley (and even Shenzhen) experience has shown, their failure gave rise to new creativity and success at the next round. SMEs contribute to nearly half of GDP and two-thirds of job creation. They are the real drivers of change.
We face three crucial imbalances. The regional imbalance occurs because the wealthy countries are aging, whereas the poorer countries are still young. Within countries, the social imbalance stems from growing disparities in income and wealth. The job imbalance is even more skewed - the existing labour force fears retrenchment, whereas the young face intense competition for scarce jobs. These combine to create the swing towards populist and radical views for change.
It is time for our policies to focus on the young and their job creation.
(The writer, a former Central banker, is Distinguished Fellow, Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong.)
STATESMAN, JUL 14, 2017Does India really need Governors?Debaki Nandan Mandal
Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Puducherry and now West Bengal. The focus is on the Governor. Never before has the constitutional head of a state been exposed to public discourse, debate and legal scrutiny as in the recent past. Be it in the formation of government after an election or calling for a report from the political executive on the state’s affairs, his action, rather motive, falls short of the expectation of neutrality of the solemn office he holds.
An uncanny feeling haunts the observer that he is singing the tune of his employer. In Goa, the governor did not consult the single largest party, the Congress, before giving Parrikar the green signal.
The constitutional convention of inviting the single largest party in the case of a fractured mandate has been outlined by the Sarkaria Commission, later affirmed by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Rameswar Prasad vs Union of India, 2005. The Puducherry Lieutenant-Governor has unilaterally nominated three defeated BJP candidates as MLAs and swore them in on 4 July without consulting the elected CM or the council of ministers.
It would have been gracious for the West Bengal governor had he summoned the Chief Minister or any senior minister or chief secretary/D.G of police for an urgent one-to-one meeting to be apprised of the situation on the emotive communal flareup at Baduria and in some parts of Basirhat. Whether there was any immediate provocation behind the use of telephone to convey his anxiety may have to await a wellresearched probe, though a worthy of the central committee of the BJP has left no one in doubt by instantaneously describing the governor as ‘a soldier of Modi Brigade.’
The role of the governor between1947 and 1967 when the Congress was having a clear majority at the Centre and in most of the states was not a matter of public controversy, and had least attention paid to it. Sarojini Naidu, one-time governor of UP said that she considered herself “a bird in a golden cage”. Even during this period, the position assigned to them by the Constitution made some of the illustrious governors very unhappy.
Dr.Pattabhi Sitaramayya, governor of Madhya Pradesh had this to say, “My duties as a governor lay more in getting visitors and providing them tea, lunches and dinners than anything else.
The first thing I do in the morning is to peruse the list of visitors and invitees to lunch and dinner.” Mrs.Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, governor of Maharashtra, was of the view that the office of the governor should be abolished. She felt that the only thing that could induce a person to accept governorship was the salary that the office carried.
KM Munshi, governor of Uttar Pradesh had a tiff with his chief minister and complained to Pandit Nehru for redressal. When his plea was turned down, he described his job thus: “to run a
hotel and entertain guests.” NVGadgil, governor of Punjab considered himself as “the Patwari of the state of Punjab whose function was to assess the conditions prevailing in the state and report to the Union government.” Post-1967 and especially after 1977, coalition governments started assuming office in states and at the Centre. Regional parties gained a strong foothold. The federalism debate gathered momentum. In actual working, in states where one party has a clear majority, the part played by the governor has been that of a constitutional head in the matter of asking the leader of that party to form the ministry.
But in those states where there are multiple parties with an uncertain command over the Legislature,the governor has acted as a mere agent of the Centre in matters relating to inviting a person to form a ministry, or bringing about the removal of a ministry by means of a report under Article 356.
The grounds upon which a governor may be removed by the President are not laid down in the Constitution. Hopefully, this power will be sparingly used to meet with cases of gross delinquency like bribery, corruption, treason or violation of the Constitution.
A glaring exception to this sound principle took place when the President, on the advice of the National Front prime minister VP Singh, in December 1989 asked all governors to resign simply because another party had come to power at the Centre. A key element in the federalism debate is the appointment of partisan governors by the Centre in states ruled by the party in power or in oppositionruled states.The constitutional role of the governor is restricted to acting on the advice of the state Cabinet.
He/shehas no independent executive power except where there is no majority government in place. Given this reality, and given the unabashed hypocrisy with which governments at the Centre(Congress, UPA, NDA) have manipulated governors in the past, it is high time to ask: do we need a governor at all? Is it for ceremonial occasions or for that transitory period during ministry-formation or to offer favours to defeated, disgraced and unemployed party stalwarts and politicians?
Sometimes, the idea of an elected governor, as in the United States, is floated if the suggestion for abolishing the post is overruled. If presidents can be elected, why is this idea not favoured for appointment of governors? Why should the Centre appoint governors without a state's consent and inform the states ex-post-facto just to complete the formality?
True federalism means that formation of governments at both Centre and states should be contingent on the principle that elected governments will hold the reins of power without an unelected governor coming in between. The US example may not suit us since our Constitution does not envisage a presidential system of government.
Besides, in case of an elected governor, two rival centres of power will be engaged in outsmarting each other resulting in chaos and administrative deadlock. So,what is the alternative?
After demonetisation and GST it will be a challenge to the NDA government to firm up a case for abolition of the post of governor. Rehabilitation of the deadwood of his party should not deter the prime minister from accepting this challenge.
After all, do we really need a “spare wheel” at the statelevel?
The writer is a former Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal.
INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIETIES
FINANCIAL EXPRESS, JUL 13, 2017Autonomous bodies review: Part of resentment about panel is because of questions on transparency
Joseph Nye coined the expression “soft power” a bit later, in 1990. Several AB-s are supposed to
provide content that can feed into India’s soft power aspirations. Perhaps that’s the reason why,
until recently, they constantly faced soft budget constraints.By: Bibek Debroy
There is a Committee for Review of Autonomous Bodies (AB-s), chaired by Ratan Watal. The
Committee’s Interim Report is not in public domain, not yet. Media reports and comments on
what the Committee has recommended, even in the interim, are therefore premature. They are
uninformed and misinformed. This choice of words should remind you of a quote ascribed to
Mark Twain. “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper,
you’re misinformed.” The choice of quote is deliberate, since there is no evidence Mark Twain
ever said, or wrote, anything of the kind. The quote itself is uninformed and misinformed.
Instinctively, everyone understands the word “autonomy” and hence, “autonomous body”.
However, private enterprise is also self-governing and independent of direct government
influence or control. Therefore, if review is contemplated, there must be something beyond
notions of self-governance and self-rule. Right to Information Act’s definition of “public
authority” provides some inkling of what one is after. “Public authority means any authority or
body or institution of self-government established or constituted— (a) by or under the
Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State
Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and
includes any— (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government
organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate
If we leave out NGOs, we have ingredients of a definition. (1) An AB is set up by government
for a specific purpose. (2) It is independent in day-to-day functioning, but government has some
control over the AB. (3) Government funds the AB in some form, revenue expenditure, capital
expenditure, or both. In 2012, there was a CAG Compliance Report for AB-s, Report No. 33 of
2011-12. “During 2010-11, the Ministries of the Union Government released grants/loans
aggregating Rs 46,449.48 crore to 496 autonomous bodies.” Note that these are 2010-11 figures.
Incidentally, we are talking about Union government level AB-s, and Ratan Watal Committee is
also about these. There are other AB-s at state government level. In 1955, there were 35 AB-s.
Today, there are at least 679 AB-s. I used the expression “at least” deliberately—679 is the
number for which information exists. The actual number may be marginally more. The oldest is
clearly Asiatic Society, established in 1784. In the days of William Jones, even if objectives were
laudable, one didn’t look towards government for money. At best, one asked for land and even as
late as 1960s, financial assistance for constructing buildings. For Asiatic Society, constant
recourse to government funds probably started in 1984, when it became an Institution of
National Importance. Out of 679 AB-s, half were set up between 1984 and 1989.
Joseph Nye coined the expression “soft power” a bit later, in 1990. Several AB-s are supposed to
provide content that can feed into India’s soft power aspirations. Perhaps that’s the reason why,
until recently, they constantly faced soft budget constraints. The Rs 46,500 crore the CAG report
talked about was in 2010-11. In 2017-18, 679 AB-s obtained Rs 72,200 crore. Other than the
2016 Report of Expenditure Management Commission (chaired by Bimal Jalan), consider Rule
229 in General Financial Rules, 2016. This is on general principles for setting up AB-s and I will
quote only one clause. “Peer review of autonomous organizations—ministry shall put in place a
system of external or peer review of autonomous organisations every three or five years
depending on the size and nature of activity. Such a review should be the responsibility of the
concerned administrative division of the ministry/department and should focus, inter alia, on; (a)
the objective for which the autonomous organisation was set up and whether these objectives
have been or are being achieved; (b) whether the activities should be continued at all, either
because they are no longer relevant or have been completed or if there has been a substantial
failure in achievement of objectives; (c) whether the nature of the activities is such that these
need to be performed only by an autonomous organisation; (d) whether similar functions are also
being undertaken by other organisations, be it in the central government or state governments or
the private sector, and if so, whether there is scope for merging or winding up the organisations
under review; (e) whether the total staff complement, particularly at the support level, is kept at a
minimum, whether the enormous strides in information technology and communication facilities
as also facilities for outsourcing of work on a contract basis, have been taken into account in
determining staff strength; and whether scientific or technical personnel are being deployed on
functions which could well be carried out by non-scientific or non-technical personnel etc. (f)
whether user charges including overhead/institutional charges/management fee in respect of
sponsored projects, wherever the output or benefit of services are utilised by others, are levied at
appropriate rates; and (g) the scope for maximising internal resources generation in the
organisation so that the dependence upon government budgetary support is minimised.”
Since public resources are involved, and all resources have trade-offs, I think these questions are
entirely justified and, no, they wouldn’t have been asked between 1984 and 1989. Part of the
resentment about the Ratan Watal Committee seems to be because questions are being raised
about transparency and accountability. Culpability (C) has been added to AB. That’s the ABC of
DECCAN HERALD, JUL 14, 2017India-China face-off: Ties gone sourYusuf T Unjhawala
The technicality of the disputes between India and China and between China and Bhutan aside, there are several reasons for China's latest escalation:
India and China are in the middle of a major face-off since the last major flare up in 2013 in Depsang Plains in Aksai Chin in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. This time it is on the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction.
China claims Indian troops have crossed into their territory across Doka La. The Bhutanese region is in dispute between Bhutan and China but very close to India’s strategically important Siliguri corridor. Bhutan requested Indian troops to help stop Chinese road construction in the area to which New Delhi responded.
The technicality of the disputes between India and China and between China and Bhutan aside, there are several reasons for China’s latest escalation:
1) China wants to create a situation where Bhutan feels compelled to break free from India’s influence on its foreign policy and establish relations with China. Bhutan doesn't have diplomatic relations with China. Under the Indo-Bhutan treaty, Bhutan is guided by India in its foreign policy so that it is not detrimental to India's security interests.
China has been making inroads into India's neighbours. It has infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives with security implications. It has the CPEC project in Pakistan which goes through Indian territory occupied by Pakistan. In the last decade, China has made inroads into Nepal which has played the game of playing India against China. Bhutan's location is of immense strategic importance to India. It offers some depth to India against China for security of India's North East. The current site of China's aggression in the Doka La area has direct security implication for the Siliguri corridor which connects the N-E with the rest of the country. Bhutan is the only country that has remained out of China's net and China wants to change that.
2) Bhutan's security is India's responsibility although there is no treaty to that effect. In 1959, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru told parliament that India will consider any act of aggression against Bhutan as an act of aggression against India. India maintains a training mission in Bhutan, known as the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT).
The current face-off started after Bhutan asked Indian troops to intervene. India had to act not
only because it is in its own security interests but also to come to the aid of its friend. New Delhi backing Thimpu and standing up against Beijing has a larger message for the Indo-Pacific region which is facing China's aggression especially in South East Asia. India has openly stated that it looks at itself as a security provider in the region. China wants India to back down so that it can hurt India's image in the Indo-Pacific as a reliable security provider.
3) India has developed security ties with many of the nations with whom China has inimical relations especially the US and Japan. The US has been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the islands China has reclaimed and built military bases on them. China claims the Senkaku Islands from Japan and established an air defence identification zone over it.
India conducts a large and increasingly complex naval exercise named Exercise Malabar with both these nations. China has repeatedly warned India against any military alliance that threatens its interests in the Indo-Pacific. China will test the strength of India’s friendship with such countries with probing moves along the border and in the seas. The current face-off is one such.
4) India has increasingly opposed China in its ambitions to dominate the region, primary being the much touted Belt and Road Initiative. India was the only major country to not send a delegation to China for the Belt and Road Forum.
The state-controlled Chinese media has been scathing in its editorials criticising India. China wants India to recognise China’s pre-eminence in Asia and play second fiddle. It wants India to accept CPEC although it violates India's sovereignty. The Chinese media even hit out at India for the air corridor which India initiated with Afghanistan to trade goods saying it reflected India’s “stubborn geopolitical thinking” by looking at alternatives to connect with Central Asia than to join the CPEC.
5) China is also sending a message to the region and the world. China wants to project its power and show will to use force to deter big powers from getting involved in its disputes. It also wants to scare smaller powers with whom it has territorial disputes into backing down and settle all disputes on China's terms.
While China has overall taken a more aggressive posture with its neighbours with whom it has disputes, its relations with India have increasingly gone sour. After years of playing down India as a rival, China has started to realise that India stands in its way to dominate the region.
Chinese media has repeatedly tried to project India as unequal to it and virtually asked India to accept China’s dominance. We are likely to see more aggressive posturing by China on the long-shared border or the maritime domain. China will also use India’s neighbours against New Delhi’s interests.
India has no option but to hold out. This will require strong diplomacy as well as firm military posture that can counter any military provocation. India will have to look into its military readiness.Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has said the Indian Army is ready to face a ‘two and a half front’ war while the Air Force chief has said the IAF doesn't have enough numbers and will have to make do with what it has.
It is likely that the current face-off will end with both sides holding on to their positions with a face saver and without any military action. This is undesirable for both countries but its implications will be long lasting.
(The writer is Editor, Defence Forum India)
STATESMAN, JUL 10. 2017Trust deficiency?
Precautionary, a pre-emptive move to avert the appointment of Election Commissioners being dragged into controversy would be a positive, charitable interpretation of the apex court’s suggesting that Parliament frame a law governing those appointments. A diametrically opposite perception would be that of an overreaching judiciary seeking for itself a foothold in the appointment process ~ all laws and rules are justiciable.
And, pardon the resort to slang, a popular view might be “that if it ain’t broke why try to fix it” ~ since a bench over which the Chief Justice presided was of the view that thus far those selected had been “outstanding people, very fair and politically neutral.” Yet despite issuing that clean chit the court preferred formal shape being given to a “most transparent and just process”. It asked, “who should be short-listed. Who short-lists the names. What is the eligibility. There is nothing to show the procedure followed….” Does that not reflect a breakdown of the trust and confidence the people should, ideally, have in their elected representatives and the government? That a petition calling for a formalised process should be taken up by the apex court is itself an acceptance of a sad reality that over the years several norms of good governance have broken down.
It remains a moot question, however, if laws/rules suffice to keep things pristine: the court had mentioned the provisions for the appointment of the CBI chief ~ there is deep-rooted public belief that the premier investigative agency serves as a political instrument of the government of the day.
It was more than trifle ironic that the court’s suggestion was reported in newspapers on the same day that the seven-judge bench’s detailed order in the CS Karnan affair was published. For in their orders two of the judges called for re-visiting the collegium system of higher judicial appointments, and lamented the lack of a mechanism to monitor the functioning of judges.
That would fuel the continuing stand-off between the judiciary and executive, and reopen the question of establishing a national judicial appointments commission. Make no mistake about it, the former judge of the Calcutta High Court convicted for contempt of court (who subsequently evaded arrest) is not an isolated “offender”: recently a judge in Rajasthan acted like a gau-rakshak in black robes, and a couple of days back a bench of the Delhi High Court took a controversial line on Muslim burials when observing that Hindus were opting for electric/gas cremation to prevent deforestation but soon there would be so many graves that space for the living would be hard to come by. All of that comprising “transparent” evidence of the need for their Lordships to look within, and avert a modification of the famous exhortation ~ “physician heal thyself”.
HINDU, JUL 11, 2017The great Indian migrationDiego PalaciosThe socio-economic aspects of north-south migration need to be analysed
Despite the decline in total fertility rates (TFR) countrywide, 12 States continue to have
TFR above 2.1 children per woman, known as replacement-level fertility. However, when
the TFR declines, the drop does not stop at 2.1, as seen in Kerala (1.6), Tamil Nadu (1.7)
and Karnataka (1.8). This leads to faster changes in the population structure characterised by
a reduction in the proportion of young people and an increase in the proportion of the
When all the States in India are clustered in terms of fertility levels, one sees a
predominantly youthful north and a maturing south and west. This demographic divergence
between States and regions is important from the policy perspective and forward-looking
Most of the current and future demographic potential is locked in the northern States, and
largely located in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. As per
population projections, these five States will account for more than 55% of population
growth in India till 2030. Those who are under 15 years of age today will become India’s
working population in the coming decades, and almost every second person in this age
group resides in these five States.
The proportion of the elderly started increasing in the southern States several years ago.
Now, the phenomenon has extended to the western, extreme northern and eastern States. In
the coming decades, they will require a young workforce to keep institutions functioning
efficiently, and also to take care of the elderly. This need is likely to be met by people from
the youthful north, with many moving to the ageing States. Already, the migration trend is
evident, with established flows of young people from these States to other parts. The
divergent demographic transition in the high-low TFR States will add further impetus to this
movement in the coming decades.
The socio-economic implications of young people heading south, leaving the children and
elderly behind, need to be analysed. The challenges of moving into new communities that
speak different languages and have different cultures need to be understood and addressed.
Along with the migrants, the issues of the locals must also be appreciated.
There is a need to gain deeper understanding of migration flows, so that estimations and
projections can be made regarding changing need for housing and infrastructure, health care
and utilities, education and skills. States need to work together to provide portability of
identity proof and entitlements, as well as build support systems for families left behind.
India urgently needs to take cognisance of the divergent demographic transition trends.
Timely strategic action can develop human capacities to cater to future needs and build
rights-based policies that work for migrants as well as locals. All adding up to help optimise
development, employment and collaboration across States in the country.
Diego Palacios is UNFPA Country Representative (India) and Country Director (Bhutan)
TELEGRAPH, JUL 9, 2017Outdated codes- The struggles of a modernizer
Politics and PlayRamachandra Guha
In different but complementary ways, the debate on triple talaq, and the debate on cow slaughter, both demonstrate the medievalist mindset of modern India.
Why, when even the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has abolished the pernicious practice of triple talaq, has India not done so? Largely because the leadership of Indian Muslims is in the hands of bigots and reactionaries, not progressives and modernizers.
To to be sure, there have been exceptions, of brave individuals who sought to promote reason and justice among their fellow Muslims. One such modernizer was the Marathi writer, Hamid Dalwai. In a brief life (he died in his early forties), Dalwai worked tirelessly to get Muslims to shed their social and religious prejudices. The pursuit of gender equality was of pre-eminent importance to him; and he waged a long battle against triple talaq.
In 1969, Dalwai spoke at a conference of Muslim leaders in Pune. Here he remarked that "every new religion introduced its own rules and code of conduct to be followed by its believers. But if these centuries-old rules are no longer adequate and relevant to the present day they should be reviewed... [If] the laws, even if they are religious laws, are incapable of granting proper justice, then they need to be changed."
×Dalwai's words enraged a local patriarch known as 'Dada Master'. "Mr Dalwai, what you mean?" shouted Dada Master: "Everything in this world can change except Muslim law." To this statement of dogma Dalwai calmly replied: "We have a selfishly selective memory. You are all aware that the British abolished the separate Hindu and Muslim Penal Code and introduced a common Indian Penal and Procedure Code. The religious criminal codes had pronounced stricter punishment for the errants and there was no scope for criminals to improve their behavior. This has now been changed to softer punishments and increased opportunities of improvement. When the British changed the penal code why didn't anyone oppose it? Weren't you happy that punitive measures such as cutting off your limbs were abolished and you were safe? Am I wrong when I say this?"
When a supporter of Dada Master claimed that "Islam has considered men superior to women. It considers men responsible for women's well being", Dalwai responded: "Time will never forgive us if we do not pay attention to this issue now. Regarding the equal rights of women, let us remember that a number of Islamic nations have replaced the Muslim code by more equitable laws. Even in our country all other laws except those related to women have been transformed."
This exchange is recorded in the memoirs of an eyewitness. His name is Sayed Mehboob Shah
Qadri ( alias Sayedbhai) and his account of his own heroic struggle against orthodoxy was first published in Marathi in 2001 under the title Dagadawarchi Perani (which translates as Sowing on the Rock). A revised version, entitled Jihad-e-Triple Talaq: Our Battle Against Triple Talaq, was published in English in 2014 by Mumbai's Samakaleen Prakashan.
Sayed bhai was born in Hyderabad, but grew up in Pune, where his father worked in an ammunition factory and his mother worked as a domestic help. He himself had to drop out of school early and, at the age of thirteen, take a job in a pencil-making unit. Shortly afterwards, his elder sister, Khatija, was given triple talaq by her husband, and had to bring herself and her children to her parents' home. This incident left a deep impression on her brother.
Seeing his sister seek to rebuild her life, and become a seamstress to feed herself and her family, made Sayed bhai confront the patriarchy within Islam. "Why does the male alone possess the right to divorce [through triple talaq]?" he asked himself. He raised the question with maulvis and imams, who dismissed it (and him). Meanwhile, Sayed bhai fell in with a group of socialists in Pune, who were working actively to end gender and caste discrimination. Through them he came to know and meet Hamid Dalwai, and became one of his closest associates.
In March 1970, Hamid Dalwai and his colleagues formed the Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal. They were inspired by the great 19th century social reformer, Jyotiba Phule, who had set up the Satyashodhak Samaj to combat caste and gender discrimination. This new Mandal, said Dalwai at the inaugural function, had as its objectives "creating a spirit of nationalism free of religious prejudices among the Muslim community and establishing modern human values of social equality within it". The Mandal was very active in its early years, holding many meetings across India, as described in this book.
Hamid Dalwai died in 1977, in his early forties. The struggle against Islamic patriarchy was carried on by his courageous widow, Mehrnissa Dalwai, and by his associates such as Sayed bhai. They faced, as Dalwai himself had, verbal as well as physical attacks from reactionaries within their faith.
In the 1980s, Sayed bhai identified himself with the struggle of Shah Bano, travelled to Indore to meet her, and organized a felicitation function in Pune to honour her. In support of Shah Bano's pursuit of justice, Sayedbhai met several times with Rajiv Gandhi, despairing of the professedly modern-minded prime minister's capitulation to the Islamic orthodoxy, which had told him that if he did not overrule the progressive Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case, "the Congress party would not be able to get a single [Muslim] vote in the subsequent elections".
Neither his mentor's death nor the reversal in the case of Shah Bano deterred Sayed bhai. He continued his battle against triple talaq through the 1990s and into the present century. When I met him earlier this year in Pune, I was deeply impressed by his talk and by his bearing, a rather special combination of dignity without bitterness.
Aside from Dalwai, the heroes of Sayed bhai's memoir are the secular, modern-minded,
socialists of Maharashtra, both men and women. In his early years, Sayedbhai was deeply influenced by the socialist activist, Bhai Vaidya. Later on, he was greatly helped by the remarkable socialist-feminist, Pramila Dandavate. The socialists of Pune and Maharashtra were patriotic unlike the Marxists, principled unlike the Congress, and non-communal unlike the sanghis and the Shiv Sainiks. And they worked tirelessly for the emancipation of women. Once so influential, their decline and now near-total disappearance from political life has been a real setback for the progress of democracy in India.
Sayed bhai himself was born poor and working class. He left school well before matriculation. In the preface to his memoir he writes: "I was not so fortunate as to receive formal education beyond the primary level. I have hardly been to a proper school. But the lessons I learnt in the school called life have been so important." They have, indeed. His wisdom and his courage put to shame the highly educated, Harvard- and Oxford-trained, lawyers of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, who have used legal sophistry to oppose the granting of full equality to Muslim women.
In his book, Sayed bhai quotes from a speech by the great scholar of Islamic law and jurisprudence, A.A.A. Fyzee, made in Pune in August 1970. "In a modern world," remarked Fyzee, "we shall not be able to follow religious laws in a blind manner. Certain points about which the Koran speaks of are timeless but there are certain other aspects which were suitable in the past when Islam originated. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the commands given in the Koran only after testing their appropriateness in the current situation."
In that speech in Pune, Fyzee also made a specific observation about the law. Thus he stated: "Religion and law should be completely separated and be made mutually exclusive." This should be a guiding maxim of modern democracies. Hamid Dalwai himself argued that social reformers should neither base themselves on, nor target, any particular religion; rather, they "must take an intellectual stand that anything which is outdated and does not stand the test of reason should be avoided."
In the past, women such as Mehrnissa Dalwai and Shah Bano played a critical role in the struggle for gender equality within Indian Islam. In the present, that struggle is led by women themselves, as in the activists of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. But let us not forget the brave male pioneers who also defied the patriarchs of the community. Sayed bhai writes ruefully towards the end of Jihad-e-Triple Talaq: "While history glorifies all those who have worked to reform the society, they are condemned while they are actually carrying out the work." Hamid Dalwai and A.A.A. Fyzee, not to speak of Sayed Mehboob Shah Qadri himself, must not and will not be forgotten.
HINDU, JUL 12, 2017Getting GST rightSushmita Dev
Why tax exemption on personal hygiene products for women is crucial
I will always remember the midnight launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on June
30/July 1 as the moment when my government let down a girl who died in Assam’s Baksa
district. Maggots had found their way into her stomach because she had used a rag during
her periods. Her parents refused to treat her as they thought she was pregnant. Eventually it
was too late even though she was taken to a hospital.
The road to rights
When I started my online petition on March 8, requesting the Union Finance Minister to
make eco-friendly sanitary pads tax-free and reduce the tax bracket of other napkins from
12-14% to 5%, I found more than three lakh people joining me in my appeal. I also found
support from across the political spectrum. The Union Health and the Women and Child
Development Ministers also agreed that it was a proposal with merit.
The Finance Minister readily accepted that it was a cause mooted by activists and non-
governmental organisations, but it did not resonate with members of the GST Council that
for an adolescent girl, an affordable sanitary napkin is actually essential for her well-being.
Over the months, activists, writers and I have thrown pertinent facts and figures at the
government trying to convince them that this tax exemption would be an important health
intervention. That a woman needs all means possible to help her during menstruation can
only be forcefully argued by women.
I have argued in Parliament on many an occasion to deliberate on issues of women’s
empowerment using data on the dismal percentage of women in the workforce, the high
percentage of school dropouts among girls, and the rise in gender crimes. These have always
been received by the government with sensitivity, and have drawn assurances about the
government’s commitment. While we continue to focus on and highlight the problem, the
solution is complex. The right to equality is not an easy right to ensure and enforce.
My empowerment has to be about saving me from damage and not saving me after I am
damaged. It has to be about building my ability to seize an opportunity in education,
employment or a seat in a panchayat. It has to be about minimising and containing my
inherent disadvantages because of my gender, which stand in my way.
The Constitution recognises this and allows women a head start in life. Yet, girls have to
drop out of school because menstruation is a stigma; they have to stay away from education
because they have no restroom in school; and there is female foeticide because a girl is
considered to be a liability. The real empowerment of women does not need doles and
handouts. It needs interventions that tackle the problem.
We are a country where many women are still dependent on cloth-based products as they
cannot access high quality, expensive personal hygiene products or lack sufficient
information about sanitary pads. If a woman has to use hay, ash, sand, wood shavings,
newspaper, dried leaves, or even plastic as a substitute for a hygiene product, despite
subsidised napkins being distributed under the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) in
many States, I hope the government is compelled to think about the limitations of their
prevailing interventions in this regard. Their system of distribution is failing to ensure last-
Ensure last-mile access
In India, 70% of women say that their families cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.
Distribution of free or subsidised napkins in schools by States is a good step but cannot
solve the problem. If the government has to push the social campaign ‘Beti Bachao, Beti
Padhao’, it tells us that there are more girls out of school than in them in India. A
government that champions the idea of disinvestment/privatisation of its own businesses in
the name of greater business efficacy should have realised that commercial, private sector
entities can deliver better in rural and remote markets if the product becomes cheaper and
within the purchasing power of the economically weaker sections.
The celebrations of the midnight GST launch have numbed many. The harsh truth is that
ultimately, every manufacturer shifts the burden of cost to the consumer. If a huge budget of
the NRHM and its network can’t ensure last-mile delivery to the women of rural India or the
urban poor, it could have been achieved at a lesser cost by reducing the tax on sanitary
napkins, where only 12% of women use sanitary napkins. This could have worked as an
incentive for private manufacturers. It could have been a significant intervention.
Where some 11,000-plus products were discussed by the GST Council, I have no doubt the
members did have women in mind — bangles and bindis have been exempted from GST.
Whether they had women empowerment in mind, I don’t know.
Sushmita Dev is a Congress MP in the Lok Sabha
STATESMAN, JUL 12, 2017Women may be down but are not outAnjali Mehta
Rafia Zakaria’s article ‘Domestic violence: a man’s right’ (The Statesman, 19 May reproduced from Dawn) struck a deep chord with me. Her statement: “dismantling the cultural apparatus that would enable women to think like women, identify with other women and resist the domination of men is very difficult”, compelled me to take stock of the situation vis-à-vis this dismantling.
Women are gradually gaining ground in the quest for equality because international cooperation has ensured that women’s issues are at par with political issues thanks to steps taken by prominent men and women.
The UN secretary general Antonio Gutteres, has placed gender equality firmly at the top of the UN agenda.
The efforts of UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie are an inspiring example of what influential people can achieve when they set their mind towards women’s empowerment. It was in 2013 that Jolie strode up to the podium during the G8 Summit and spoke to the leaders there about rape in conflict zones.
In all likelihood, this was the first time such a topic took centre-stage during a political summit. Since 2014, due to her efforts along with those of William Hague, then British Foreign secretary, there are now summits on sexual violence in conflict zones and two-thirds of the member countries of the UN have signed the pledge to end this scourge and not treat rapes in conflict zones as a lesser crime.
Jolie has also highlighted the meagre presence of women in peacekeeping missions - a dismal five per cent. In 2014, members of the G20 Summit in Australia decided to introduce a W20 section to the Summit with the objective of reducing the employment gap between men and women by a further 25 per cent by 2025.
The focus of this women’s section was to develop women’s entrepreneurship and included women from the fields of business, politics and civil society.
Three such W20 Summits took place from 2015 to 2017 (Istanbul 2015, China 2016, Germany 2017). At these meetings, targets were set for empowering women at work.
To broaden this initiative, henceforth representatives to the UN from all countries should take a collective stand and get an already receptive UN to announce a minimum gender budget applicable to all countries.
Gender equality at the highest levels sets a fine example for all to see and emulate. Several countries are demonstrating their inclination towards gender justice, either by ensuring high
levels of female representation in their cabinets such as France and Canada; or electing women to high office as England, Scotland, Germany, South Korea, Brazil and several others have done, or by having large numbers of women in their parliaments such as Rwanda and Tunisia.
In India activists are lobbying political leaders for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (an unfortunate misnomer - it is actually a constitutional representation and women need to win an election to earn the seat). It guarantees that at least onethird of all seats in parliament will be reserved for women. It however, has the record of being one of the longest pending bills in the history of the Indian parliament.
Though a majority of politicians back it verbally, they have collectively not mustered up the interest or determination to see this important bill through. Several influential personalities are highlighting gender issues in their important public speeches.
Janet Yellen, chairperson of Federal Reserve bank of the US gave a speech at her alma mater, Brown University titled “So we all can succeed; 125 years of women’s participation in the economy”.
She quoted Malala Yousafzai’s thoughtful words “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back”. Justice Bhanumati, while delivering the judgment upholding the death penalty for the perpetrators in the Nirbhaya gang rape case in India, widened the ambit of her judgment to emphasize the need for gender justice.
To quote, “Every individual, irrespective of his or her gender must be willing to assume the responsibility in fight for gender justice and also awaken public opinion on gender justice.”
Corporates are being compelled to create more gender-equal environments as more women speak out against the prevalent injustices. Sexual harassment in the workplace is getting addressed better, thus helping women realise their career potential more fully. Silicon Valley has recently seen admissions of guilt and resignations by prominent men who were taking advantage of female colleagues. Recently a senior board member of Uber, Bonderman, had to resign after making sexist remarks about women on corporate boards at a staff meeting.
There is exciting new data highlighting the professionalism of women. Two studies in the February 2017 issue of the prestigious Journal of American Medical Association provide concrete data that women create better outcomes than men in the medical field. The study reports concluded that patients treated by female physicians were significantly more likely to have longer survival rates and less readmission rates than those treated by male physicians in the same hospital.
Women are playing a far greater role in interpreting the books that shape and regulate our lives i.e. religious and legal texts. One such respected expert on religion, British author Karen Armstrong is a delight to read and her vast knowledge is breath-taking. In her book titled Fields of Blood she makes a compelling argument that religion does not foster violence, it is man’s inherent aggression that surfaces, which can sometimes be tempered by religion.
Were we to focus more on the healing properties of religion rather than the differences between them, what a joyous world it would be! More of women’s voices, thoughts and interpretation of constitutional and religious texts would benefit society greatly. Issues pertaining to the private lives of people are being meaningfully discussed and people are not being left to simply ‘accept their fate ‘. Especially when those deciding the fate of others are extremely unjust.
For example, the one-sided practice of instantaneous or triple talaq, which caused grief to many women, is being legally examined by the Supreme Court of India. What is refreshing is that women citizens and groups themselves took the important step of publicly highlighting the inherent injustices in this practice.
At a more general level the very basis of marriage is being questioned in greater depth. More attention is being paid to the worldwide scourge of child marriage.
Marriage after the age of 18 enables them to enjoy childhood in full, gain self- confidence and be mature parents. Higher quality parenting leads to stable, calmer and more confident adults in the next generation. Also being questioned is the age difference in marriage for men and women. Indian law for example gives one sex an age advantage of three years (21 years for men and 18 for women) over the other. This is not conducive to equality.
It leads to greater domination by the male partner. Earlier disruption of women’s studies leads to lower qualifications at work and other imbalances follow, such as lesser pay. It may likely contribute to domestic violence.
Where women’s issues were once prised gently out from under the carpet, today they are placed boldly at the forefront. Due to the relentless efforts of all those who are working passionately for a more equal society, there is some reason to celebrate. However, the road ahead is long and arduous and far more ‘dismantling’ remains to be achieved.
The writer is a New Delhi-based medical practitioner.