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Showing posts from January, 2016

Gujarat an average performer in female empowerment, ranks No 10 among 21 major states: McKinsey report

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat ranks tenth among 21 major Indian states in top consultants McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI’s) new Female Empowerment Index (Femdex), released recently. A decade ago, a United National Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored report, released by the Ministry of Woman and Child, Government of India, came up with an almost ranking, putting Gujarat as an average state in what it called Gender Development Index (GDI).
The calculations made by the MGI, on a scale of one, gives Gujarat a Femdex value of 0.56, which is lower than Kerala (0.67), Himachal Pradesh (0.63), Tamil Nadu (0.60), Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, and Karnataka (all 0.59), and Uttarakhand (0.57).
The report, titled “The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in India”, says that the state-level Femdex scores range from 0.42 to 0.70. It finds that some of the lower states such as Mizoram, Meghalaya, Goa, and Sikkim have considerably good Femdex scores, ranging between 0.70 and 0.64.

Patidar leader Hardik Patel, activist Teesta Setalvad targeted thru "overbroad, vague" laws: Human Rights Watch

By Rajiv Shah
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government using “overbroad and vaguely worded sedition, criminal defamation, and hate speech laws” for “arresting Hardik Patel, who is spearheading protests to demand quotas in education and government jobs for his community, and charged him with sedition in two separate cases.”
Pointing out that the sedition laws are being used across India to “harass and prosecute those expressing dissenting, unpopular, or minority views”, the just released "World Report 2016: Facts of 2015" notes, another law, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), has been used to target human rights activist Teesta Setelvad.
Qualifying action against Setalvad as “politically-motivated intimidation”, the HRW recalls that she “well-known for her work supporting victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots and for seeking criminal charges against scores of officials, including Prime Minister Modi”, who was chief min…

2002 Gujarat riots: Despite many extreme cases of gender violence, so far just one conviction in Naroda Patiya

By Rajiv Shah
Although 32 accused – including a minister in the Modi government – were in 2012 found guilty of “murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, spreading enmity and communal hatred” during the 2002 Gujarat communal violence in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area, so far, just in one case there has been conviction for gruesome acts of sexual violence there, regrets a new American study.
The University of California, Berkeley, study, “Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal”, says, this happened even though “10 of the 62 defendants were charged with crimes of sexual violence, including rape, ‘assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty’, and an ‘act done with intention of preventing child from being born alive’.”
The study, based on interviews with victims and a plethora of documents, says, “The solitary conviction was premised upon the confession of a defendant, who raped a Muslim girl and killed her by throwing her from a roof.”
Pointin…

Govt of India "excludes" Ambedkar's top ideological treatise "Annihilation of Caste" from Collected Works

By Rajiv Shah
In a shocking revelation that is likely to create a major ripple among India’s top Dalit rights activists, the Government of India has published Collected Works of Bhimrao Ambedkar (CWBA) in Hindi without 11 of Ambedkar’s books, including two which are considered his ideologically significant works, “Annihilation of Caste” and “Riddles of Hinduism.”
Published by the Ambedkar Foundation, which is a Government of India body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, a senior journalist-researcher, Dilip Mandal, has revealed that this is particularly surprising as the Foundation is “the sole publisher of Babasaheb's writings and speeches in Hindi.”
Top litterateur and writer Arundhati Roy recently called “Annihilation of Caste” Ambedkar’s “most radical text”. She said, “It is not an argument directed at Hindu fundamentalists or extremists, but at those who considered themselves moderate, those whom Ambedkar called the best of Hindus”.
Roy says, “Ambedkar’s poin…

Gujarat's lag in under-five nutrition suggests economic progress alone can't reduce undernutrition: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile study, “India Health Report: Nutrition 2015”, released last month, has found that “developed” Gujarat lags behind most major Indian states in child nutrition status. Quoting latest Government of India figures, the study says that 33.5 per cent of under-five children are underweight, which is the seventh worst among 20 major Indian states.
The study, which has been carried out by the Public Health Foundation of India, and jointly sponsored by Transform Nutrition and UK Aid, further says that 41.6 per cent under five children in Gujarat suffer from stunting, which is the fifth worst among 20 major states; and 18.7 per cent suffer from wasting gujarat(or low weight for height), which is the third worst among 20 major states.
Basing its analysis on the latest data (for 2014) provided by the Rapid Survey on Children (RSoC), Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, the study’s example of Gujarat goes a long way to suggest that, to quote from t…

Indian policy-makers "neglect" poverty reduction, social factors in fight against chronic child undernutrition

By Rajiv Shah
A new study on risk factors for chronic undernutrition among children says that India’s policy makers have disproportionately focused on “what can be termed ‘nutrition-specific’ interventions targeted at addressing the immediate causes of undernutrition”, and considerably less emphasis on “social and structural factors, including poverty reduction, improvements to socioeconomic status and maternal education.”
Carried out by Daniel J Corsi, Iván Mejía-Guevara, and SV Subramanian, and published in a top American journal, “Social Science & Medicine”, the study says, the issue is particularly important because, despite reduction in childhood stunting and underweight in India, the country accounts for “38% of the global burden of stunting (nearly 62 million children) underscoring the importance of reducing undernutrition in India.”
“The prevalence of childhood stunting and underweight in India remains persistently high”, the study says. “In 1992–93, amongst children aged 0–…