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Showing posts from December, 2014

Regretting impact of 2002 riots, Tata Institute report talks of high incidence of sexual abuse of Gujarat girls

By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation, a new report by high-profile NGO Save the Children, Wings 2014: The World of India’s Girls” has said that Gujarat’s 63.1 per cent girls may be subjected to sexual abuse, which is apparently, the highest in India. Pointing out that in the country as a whole there are 47.06 per cent such girls, the report, which has been prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, says that most of these girls suffer silently, and “don’t report to anyone”. The report, significantly, carries a congratulatory message from Najma Heptulla, minorities minister under the Narendra Modi government, among others.
Lamenting poor child sex ratio (CSR) in Gujarat, as also other states, the report says, though “concerted community-level interventions” have meant that there should be significant improvement in CSR in states like Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, there have been only “marginal improvement in states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat…

Usurious moneylending prevails more in Gujarat than in other Indian states, suggests latest NSSO report

By Rajiv Shah
In a remarkable revelation, a new National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report, released early this month, has found that Gujarat has a higher proportion of indebted households which reported taking loan at very high interest rate – 25 per cent or more. Calculations, based on the data released by the NSSO, suggest that 64.6 per cent of the state’s indebted households took loan at such high rate – which can easily be interpreted to mean usurious moneylenders. Titled “Key Indicators of Debt and Investment in India”, the report has found that there is just one state of 21 whose indebted households may be depending so heavily on moneylenders – Jammu & Kashmir (69.3 per cent).
Based on NSSO’s 70th round, the data in the report say that there are 260 rural households in Gujarat out of every 1000 which reported outstanding cash loans. A breakup of the data suggest that there are 80 out every 1000 rural households which reported taking loan at an interest rate between 25 …

Gujarat: Dilemma of low income from agriculture

By Rajiv Shah
There have been loud claims, which continue to be made till date, that agricultural growth in Gujarat has been a “success story”, which other states must emulate. It is also suggested that Gujarat’s agricultural growth rose from 3.3 per cent per annum in the 1990s to nearly 9 per cent over the last one decade – notwithstanding claims by some experts who say the problem is with the choice of a wrong base year. The argument runs of following lines: Gujarat has written the success story despite facing challenges like depletion of water tables, deterioration of soil and water conditions due to salinity ingress along the sea coast, irregularity of rainfall, and recurrent drought. However, few have sought to see what impact has it made on the actual income of the agriculturists of Gujarat, and how much they have gained vis-à-vis other states. Now, new figures released this month by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in its report, “Key Indicators of Situation of Agr…

Kundu committee asks Modi govt to extend reservation to backward Muslims, help them through Jan Dhan

By Rajiv Shah
In a significant recommendation, the Amitabh Kundu committee, which submitted its “final report” on the status of minorities in India to the Narendra Modi government in early October, wants that the recently launched Jan Dhan scheme should go a long way in helping financial exclusion of the minorities. Even as risking of being dubbed for “appeasing minorities”, it wants the programmes launched by the previous UPA government for minorities to be further intensified, going so far to ask the Modi government to extend reservation to the most backward sections of Muslims, identifying them as “Dalit Muslims.”
In its chapter on reservations and affirmation action, the committee, in fact, underlines, “The Dalit Muslims must be taken out of the other backward classes (OBC) list and incorporated in the scheduled caste list. It should be possible to identify these Muslim caste groups based on the principle recommended by the Ranganath Misra Commission, that all groups and classes who…

Gujarat coal power plants highest polluters of deadliest particulate matter compared to all Indian states

By Rajiv Shah
While Gujarat may have topped Indian states in regularizing power supply to urban and rural areas, data released by a new report, “Coal Kills: Health Impacts of Air Pollution from India’s Coal Power Expansion” suggest this may have led to unprecedented health hazard in the state. The report has found that as of 2014 Gujarat’s coal-fired power plants, with a capacity of 15,900 MW, are emitting in air highest quantity of the deadliest PM2.5, the most dangerous particulate matter (PM), compared to all other state. PM2.5 is known to get absorbed deep in the lungs, causing “aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, lung cancer, cardiac problems, and premature death.”
According to top international environmental body Greenpeace, “Particles less than 2.5 micrometers, approximately 1/30 the average width of a human hair, can lodge deeply into the lungs. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion, including power plants, motor vehicles and residential wood burning…

Vulnerable women: Victims of neglect

By Rajiv Shah
The Nirbhaya case may have helped bring cases of violence against women sharply into focus, yet large number of a women activists have begun to wonder, as to why, if the victim is from a vulnerable community, she rarely draws attention. The mysterious death of a lady tribal police constable from Rajpipla in Gujarat — Vasanti Vasava — between November 24 and 26, 2014 highlights how a state machinery treats atrocities committed on such women. Tables were turned only after the Gujarat Women Rights Council, a recently floated group by a well-known dalit rights activist, Manjula Pradeep, took up the death of Vasanti as a case of sexual assault and murder at a time when the police was trying to turn it into a “simple case of suicide”.
Manjula was busy in Vadodara district with a month-long campaign on violence against women, which had begun on November 25, declared by the UN as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign was to continue for near…

'Vibrant' Ahmedabad?: Survey shows 78% slumdwellers are without toilet, forcing people to defecate in open

By Rajiv Shah
A recent survey of Ahmedabad’s two slum settlement colonies, Shankarbhuvan and Nagorivad, both of them situated in the old city area, go a long way to expose the loud claims of “clean" or "swachh" Gujarat by the state’s powerful authorities. Carried out by two non-government organizations (NGOs), Manav Garima and Human Development and Research Centre, the survey suggests that in the two slum settlements surveyed, out of a total of 1,447 households, 63 per cent of households (916) do not have toilets.
On the other hand, those households which do have toilets (531), 216 households do not use them because they are “unusable”, which means that 78 per cent of the total population in the two slum areas – about 7,500 – go in the open for defecation, forcing the cleaning staff to “clean up the narrow streets manually”, said Jitendra Rathod, a senior activist of Janvikas, the NGO which supports Manav Garima.
Rathod said, “Shortage of water supply, on one hand, and …