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Showing posts from September, 2016

India's officials shadow journalist writing book on 2002 Gujarat riots? Scribe's claim in PEN International report

By Rajiv Shah
Revati Laul, an independent journalist who is writing a book about the 2002 Gujarat riots, has made it know how she is being meticulously shadowed for the last 18 months during her investigation into the massacre that took place 14 years ago through the eyes of three men who were part of a riotous mob. Laul is known to have been attacked by a 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre convict in January during her probe in Ahmedabad.
Writing in the just-released “Fearful Silence: the Chill on India’s Public Sphere”, a joint research project by the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto, and PEN International, a high-profile non-profit organization promoting freedom of expression across the globe, Laul says, though she has still not written a word, “Gujarat’s state intelligence bureau has been monitoring me.”
Giving details, she says, “One day, they asked someone I’d spoken with earlier how they knew me and what had I been inquiring about. Irritated, my con…

Ahmedabad ranks 43rd of 53 districts surveyed in Govt of India's cleanliness report, worse than most of Gujarat

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report has ranked Ahmedabad 43rd in its cleanliness survey of 53 districts it has selected for the purpose. Worse, Ahmedabad, which is desperately seeking world heritage tag from UNESCO, ranks poorer than all but one of the 13 districts chosen from Gujarat out of 53.
With a score of 71.6 out of 100, the survey finds Ahmedabad, the business capital of Gujarat, and sought to be projected as a model for urban India, performing worse than the tribal districts of Tapi and Narmada, with a score of 74.9 and 78 respectively. Only one district, Panchmahal, ranks worse than Ahmedabad, with a score of 64.1.
The best score in Gujarat is that of state capital Gandhinagar, 82.9. However, the survey finds Gandhinagar to rank 18th of the 53 districts surveyed. The best performer in India is Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, with a score of 96.8. Next is Nadia district of West Bengal with a score of 96.8, followed by Satara district of Maharashtra with a score of 92.…

India's municipal expenditures one of the poorest in the world, a major barrier to urbanization: UN-Habitat report

By Rajiv Shah
A new study by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), “World Cities Report 2016: Urbanization and Development – Emerging Futures” has regretted extremely low levels of “aggregate municipal expenditures in India”, which happen to be of the worst in the world.
“With only 1.1 per cent of GDP, municipal expenditures in India compare very unfavourably with OECD countries, but even with other BRICS countries such as Brazil, Russia and South Africa. In Latin America, several countries have significantly changed their municipal financial systems”, the report says.
Pointing out that Colombia, previously a highly centralized country, could give a good example on how to raise municipal expenditures, the report says, it has gone through “different phases of decentralization, beginning in the late 1970s.”
The report says, “With a new constitution in 1991, more responsibility was delegated to the municipalities, accompanied by a dramatic increase in transfers from …

Growth of Indian millionaire population down from 26% to 1.1%, reports top multinational consultants Capgemini

By Rajiv Shah
In a significant report, the latest "World Wealth Report" (WWR) 2016 has revealed that the rate of growth of the high net worth individuals (HNWIs) of India has grown by just 1.1 per cent, from 198,000 to 200,000, as against 26.3 per cent, as reported in the "Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2015".
An earlier report, “World Wealth Report 2014”, shows that while in 2012 there were 151,000 NHWIs in India, which went up by a mere two per cent in 2013 to reach 153,000. NHWIs are defined as those having investable assets of US$ 1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectives, consumables, and consumer durables.
An annual exercise undertaken by well-known multinational consultants Capgemini with offices in 40 countries, the "Asia-Pacific Wealth Report 2015" had said pointed towards how, "following marginal growth in 2013, India recorded the latest gains -- for the region and globally -- in NHWI population (26.3 per cent) and wealth (28.2 p…

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.
The latest figures of polygamy, released by the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS), carried out in 2006, also show that two per cent women reported that their husbands had more than one wife. It found that polygamy was prevalent among 1.77 per cent Hindus, down from 5.8 per cent in 1961.
The 1961 figures – based on Census of India data – also show that among tribals it was then widely prevalent: 15.25 of them were polygamous.
Crucially, while the Hindu personal law outlaws bigamy and polygamy, the Muslim personal law does not. AIMPLB said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, "Quran, Hadith and the consensus view allow Muslim men to have up to four wives", adding, whi…

Washington study praises Modi initiative to "reform" IAS, seeks GDP-based growth as performance benchmark

By Rajiv Shah
A new study by a top Washington DC-based think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has sought to give thumbs up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent review of the negative performance of IAS bureaucrats who have completed 30 years in service, with 13 of them “compulsorily retired” in 2015-end for their “unsatisfactory performance.”
Carried out by two of the think tank’s scholars – Milan Vaishnan, senior associate, and Saksham Khosla, research analyst – the study wants Modi to continue the process, insisting, “This process of dismissing officers who are negatively rated at predictable career benchmarks should be institutionalized so that it does not rest on the preferences of any one government.”
Titled “Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data”, the study, however, quotes critics as saying that the new process has been instituted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is suggests “centralizing power in the PMO” which “does not bode well for an effective…