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Showing posts from July, 2015

Indian right doesn’t seem interested in advancing vetted scholarship: US-based Hindutva thinktank scholar

By Rajiv Shah
A top US-based Hindutva scholar, representing a prominent pro-Narendra Modi thinktank, has regretted that right-wing historians in India have failed to develop what he calls "alternate history or even a robust theology in academia, either within India or the West." In a well-researched article titled "Saving History from Historians", Murali Balaji says, there is in fact, a "general lack of interest by most Indian academics to pursue a robust Hindu theological scholarly agenda."
Approvingly quoting editor of the right-wing journal "Open" S Prasannarajan (‘Wrongs of the Right’, July 20, 2015), Balaji says, "The Indian right doesn’t seem interested in advancing vetted scholarship, choosing instead to promote ill-qualified political patrons to head influential humanities and cultural bodies."
The comment from Murali Balaji -- who is director of the Education and Curriculum Reform at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the pro…

Alleging rampant child labour in Gujarat, Rajasthan cotton fields, Dutch report praises "initiatives" by MNC Monsanto

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, ‘Cotton’s Forgotten Children’, released in The Hague, has expressed serious concern over the fact that the number of child workers, who haven't reached adolescence and working in cotton farms, has gone up by a whopping 30,000 since 2010 in Gujarat and Rajasthan. As for adolescent children, the report says, the numbers have gone up by another 70,000.
The report, which seeks to prove an all-India picture of child labour in cotton farms, an abuse which is said to have particularly picked up following the introduction of the genetically modified Bt cotton seed to sharply increase cotton production, estimates that almost half a million Indian children produce cottonseed.
Saying that the sharp rise in child labour in Gujarat and Rajasthan has taken place because of an increase in cotton area, the report underlines, the governments of the two states are "not paying serious attention to tackle the issue" and are adopting a "denying mood", as i…

Gujarat has 2.72% rural graduates, worse than 14 major Indian states: SECC data

By Rajiv Shah
One of the major “policy thrusts” adopted by the Government of India is known to be to follow a still unexplained “Gujarat model of education” for the country as a whole. Not only very little official information is available on what this “model” is and how top policy makers wish to pursue it, latest data of the Socio Economic and Caste Survey (SECC), released by the Centre suggest that Gujarat one of the worst performers at higher levels of learning.
SECC data, collected in 2012-13, but had to “wait” till they were checked and rechecked by different state agencies before they were released, are still incomplete, as they lack gender and caste breakup, especially for education. Yet, they do point out that just about 2.72 per cent of the rural people of Gujarat are graduates, which is one of the worst in the country.
In fact, there are as many as 14 out of 21 major Indian states which perform better than Gujarat on this score. And, only poorer states have a still lower propor…

Higher percentage of Gujarat families live in kuccha houses, Dalits dependence on casual labour more than India average

By Rajiv Shah The latest Socio Economic and Caste Survey (SECC) 2011, released recently by Government of India, has revealed that, despite claims of Gujarat "model" to remove poverty, things are not so rosy as it may seem for the vulnerable sections of rural population. Not only do a much higher proportion of families in Gujarat live in kuccha houses, more Dalit households are dependent on manual casual labour than most of the 21 major states. SECC data show that Gujarat’s 44.52 per cent rural families live in kuccha houses, which is worse than all major 21 states with the exception of poor states such as Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar. The national average of families living in kuccha houses is 43.5 per cent. Though it is supposed to be a caste census, there is, however, no breakup separately for Dalits, Adivasis and "Others" -- the three categories worked out by SECC for providing separate data -- for the type of house…

Rural Gujarat's grim story: 95% household earners' income is less than Rs 10,000

By Rajiv Shah
Painting a grim picture of Gujarat’s rural areas, the latest Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), released on Friday, says that a staggering 94.81 per cent of rural households reported their maximum income below Rs 10,000 per month. Significantly, this is against the all-India average of 91.71 per cent, and worse than all 21 major states with the sole exception of Telangana (95.32 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (96.8 per cent).
The poor state of incomes of the highest earning member of Gujarat’s rural households comes amidst Government of India seeking to project Gujarat as a “model” state, where agricultural incomes have allegedly risen sharpest in the country. In fact, for nearly a decade, under Narendra Modi’s chief minisership, the state government kept talking about “double digit” rate of agricultural growth, despite expert view that the calculation was based on taking a poor monsoon year as the base year.
Pro-Modi economists such as Prof Bibek Deboy even tried to mak…

52% rural girls attend secondary school in Gujarat, worst in India, says NSS: Wither Kanya Kelavni enrollment drive?

By Rajiv Shah
In a revelation which may prove to be a major embarrassment to the Gujarat government’s much-publicized Kanya Kalavni annual fete aimed at ensuring cent per cent attendance in school, the authoritative National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) has revealed in its latest report, “Key Indicators of Social Consumption in India: Education”, that Gujarat has a far fewer percentage of rural girls in the age group 14-17 going to school than any of the 21 major states of India.
Based on NSS survey between January and June 2014, the data show that Gujarat’s just about 52 per cent rural girls attend school in the age group 14-17, as against the national average of 72 per cent. The data show that, while Kerala and Himachal Pradesh top in sending their rural girls to school with 96 and 95 per cent, even poorer states are far ahead: Assam 78 per cent, Jharkhand 72 per cent, Bihar 69 per cent, UP 68 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 67 per cent, Odisha 63 per cent, and Rajasthan 59 per cent. T…