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Showing posts from December, 2016

India is 50% urban, Govt of India's 33% estimate based on stringent classification: World Bank-supported report

By Rajiv Shah
A new high-profile report supported, among others, by World Bank, has said that the Government of India estimate that the country’s urban population, 420 million or 33% of its total population in 2015, undervalues the “true extent” of urbanization in the country.
The report, titled “Better Cities, Better Growth: India’s Urban Opportunity”, blames this on India’s official classification of urban areas as being “more stringent than in most other countries”, pointing towards “long delays in the redrawing of municipal boundaries for fast-growing new areas on the edges of existing metropolitan areas.”
Quoting World Bank studies to arrive at a globally comparable definition of urbanization, the report estimates that “India is already over 50% urbanized”, adding, “Such a finding would underline even more emphatically the central importance of urbanization for India’s development.”
Apart from the World Bank, those who have partnered for preparing the report include World Resources …

Custodial deaths: NHRC "unwilling" to recommend prosecution of police officers despite prima facie evidence

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile report by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody”, has accused the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for having “failed to ensure accountability in custodial deaths” in India.
Based on field research and interviews conducted from April 2015 to April 2016, interviewing 45 witnesses and family members of victims of custodial death, and speaking to 25 lawyers, civil society activists and journalists, the report states,” A major weakness of NHRC has been its unwillingness to recommend prosecution of police officers, even when there is prima facie evidence that officers have committed a criminal offense.”
Pointing out that the NHRC “typically recommends only interim relief or compensation for victims”, the report, based on interviews conducted in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, and in New Delhi and Mumbai, says, “Delays in investigations, transfer of cases to i…

Hindu women are less educated than Muslim, their gender gap is worse than all other religions: Pew

By Rajiv Shah
In a revelation which is likely to create ripples among Hindutva advocates, a top US research organization, Pew International, has said that Hindus may have made “substantial educational gains in recent decades”, yet the fact is, they “have the largest educational gender gap of any religion in the world”.
“On average, Hindu men have 2.7 more years of schooling than Hindu women, and just over half of Hindu women (53%) have no formal schooling, compared with 29% of Hindu men”, the Pew International report, titled “Religion and Education Around the World”, says, adding, "The gender gap in higher education is narrower, but Hindu men are still nearly twice as likely as women to have post-secondary degrees (13% vs. 7%).”
Worse, the report notes, “Even in the youngest generation of adults in the study, Hindu women are considerably more likely than Hindu men to have received no formal education (38% vs. 20%).” Based on information collected from 131 countries about differences…

Bio-piracy: Govt of India lenient, doesn't support litigations, as it would affect foreign investment: Study

By Rajiv Shah
A just-published study has revealed the Government of India (GoI) has not been supporting litigations arising from violating National Biological Diversity (DB) Act, 2002, pointing towards how the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), the country’s watchdog for implementing the Act, has been at the “receiving end” for most of the litigations.
A statutory autonomous body, NBA functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, GoI, and was established in 2003 to comply by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which India signed in 1992.
Insisting that refusal to support legal cases can itself be “very resource draining”, the study, “Litigating India’s Biological Diversity Act: A Study of Legal Cases”, says, “Legal capacity to deal with cases is also quite limited in the bodies set up under the Act”, adding, the GoI “does not undertake the litigation work of the Authority.”
The result is that, according to the study, undertaken by researchers, S…

Polluted villages around Gujarat's cultural capital have brownish red to pale yellow groundwater: CPCB report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report has found that groundwater of villages near Vadodara, known as Gujarat’s cultural capital, is highly polluted due to “industrial activity”, mainly because of what it calls “unscientific disposal of hazardous waste water” into the effluent treatment channel.
The report, which is based on a study of samples taken in several villages near Vadodara, says that the colour of the groundwater all over varies from dark brownish-red to pale yellow, adding, the situation is particularly extremely alarming in groundwater locations around the dye intermediate industries.
Prepared in September 2016, the CPCB, which is a Government of India statutory body responsible for monitoring pollution, decided to carry out the monitoring job on receiving a complaint from the Farmers’ Action Group (FAG), a local people’s organization, about groundwater pollution in two talukas of Vadodara district, Padra and Jambusar.
The CPCB examined groundwat…