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Showing posts from July, 2019

Whither protection? 88% Gujarat employees without job contract, 67% sans paid leave

By Rajiv Shah 
Amidst apprehensions that the Government of India’s new labour codes, tabled in Parliament recently, are driven by the interests of the industry in order to “alter” the labour protection landscape in India “beyond repair and reclaim”, facts have come to light suggesting that “model” Gujarat has been one of the worst states in the country as far as providing any form of protection to its workers is concerned.
Published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, a recent report, “Annual Report: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)”, has found that 87.7% of Gujarat wage or salaried employees in the non-agricultural sector work “without job contract”, which is the second highest among 21 major states, next to Karnataka (94.2%).
Based on a survey carried out across India between July 2017and June 2018, the report has also found that Gujarat’s 66.8% workers in the same category are “not eligible for paid leave”, which is again the second hi…

Rise in regional, secessionist forces 'triggering' heightened violence in India: Study

By Rajiv Shah
Is India compulsively moving towards a situation where centripetal tendencies are increasingly challenging centrifugal tendencies? A new research work, which has studied "link" between regional parties and secessionist forces, and resultant violence, goes a long way to imply that India's federal structure, governed from Delhi, is becoming fragile and may come under stress. For, already, no amount of "appeasement" of regional aspirations or "clampdown" on them is helping mitigate the situation.
The study comes amidst the ruling BJP, which acquired absolute majority in Parliament, seeking to appease the Naga aspirations by reportedly agreeing to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) demand for a separate flag and a separate passport. It also comes following the BJP victory at the Centre leading to a resurgence in the long dormant aspiration for a separate Dravidian state.
The study, "Regional Representation and Secession…

22,000 children risking lives in India's 'illegal' mica mines, 10-20 die each month

By Rajiv Shah
An investigation by a high-profile e-journal run by a top American digital media and entertainment company focused on young women, Refinery 29 (R29), based in the Financial District, Manhattan neighbourhood of New York City, has raised the alarm that 9,000 miles away, nearly 22,000 children are risking their lives while working for a paltry sum of Rs 20 to 30 per day in mica mines of Jharkhand and Bihar.
Titled “The makeup industry’s darkest secret is hiding in your makeup bag”, the 3,800-word investigation by Lexy Lebsack, gives specific examples of those working in these mines, pointing out how Pooja Bhurla, 11, with her friends – some as young as five years old – would spend a whole day “shimmying into small, man-made tunnels”, and “pouring out of holes, their cheeks and clothes caked with glittery dust.”
Prepared with the active support of 2014 Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation (KSCF) and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), among others, the repo…

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.
Replying to his critics (he doesn’t name his critics), who include the Prime Minister’s Office, Subramanian states in his new paper, "Prominent commentators have argued that the growth over-estimation cannot be large... They have argued along the following lines: '4.5% growth is a disaster. India’s economy is not a disaster. Ergo, India cannot have grown at 4.5%'.”
According to Subramanian, who resigned as chief economic adviser of the Narendra Modi government in June 2018, the critics’ argument is based on several “cognitive benchmarks", one of them being, “How can India be gr…

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.
Published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, and based on a survey carried out across India between July 2017and June 2018, the report, “Annual Report: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)”, suggests that per month average wages or salary earnings for regular employees in Gujarat during April-June 2018 was Rs 14,528.24, which is lower than all major 21 states with the exception of West Bengal (Rs 11,978.99).
Low wages aren't just cha…

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.
Giving the instance of a one such company, CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd, which has offices several countries across the world, the top newspaper says, “Every month thousands of tons of the substance are shipped by or on behalf of CJ Petrow & Co (Pty) Ltd from Sverdlovsk Oblast, an asbestos mining area in the Russian Urals”. It adds, “Most of it ends up in India, the world's second-largest consumer of asbestos behind China, where it's used by the construction industry to make roofing sheets and as insulation for brake linings.”
According to the report, “I…

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”
NCDHR, in its report titled "Dalit Adivasi Budget Analysis 2019-20", says that its analysis of the Gender Budget Statement (GBS) reveals that the allocation under GBS is Rs 1,36,934 crore, out of which appallingly for the SC and ST women only Rs 2,890 crore (2.1%) and Rs 1,006.74 crore (0.73%), respectively.
According to the report, “This is a clear paradox where on one side there is a huge discussion on inclusive development, while on the other there is very limited allocation addressing the needs of the SC and ST women.”
The repor…

Satellite data 'identify' Gujarat's Mundra among 6 of India's top air pollution hotspots

By Rajiv Shah
A fresh study, which analyzes data between February 2018 and May 2019, obtained from Tropomi, a satellite instrument on board the Dutch Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite, has warned that coal-fired power plants and industrial clusters are India’s “worst nitrogen oxides (NOx) hotspots” contributing hugely to air pollution in Sonbhadra-Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Talcher in Odisha, Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Mundra in Gujarat and Durgapur in West Bengal.
According to the study, these “hotspots” are in addition to the already identified hotspots, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, adding, the data show that power plants and industrial clusters have clearly turned into “the most polluting regions/hotspots” because of the high concentration of NOx.
Noting that Tropomi measurements have “a spatial resolution of about 7km”, which is “finer than the “7-km native satellite data”, the study says, “The powe…

Gujarat agate workers use potentially low preventive practices to 'evade' deadly silicosis

By Rajiv Shah
A decade ago the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) may have come up with a Global Programme for the Elimination of Silicosis by 2030. However, a new research paper co-authored by Canada-based scholars in association with senior Gujarat activist Jagdish Patel of the People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, suggests that the goal may not be easy to achieve, given the refusal of agate workers to believe in the efficacy of preventing the deadly disease.
Based on a survey of 1,120 respondents (agate workers 743, family members 277, and neighbours 100) in Khambhat, Central Gujarat, one of India’s top hubs for drilling, cutting and polishing agate – a home-based industry which employs up to 50,000 workers are employed across the country – the semi‐precious stone is used to make jewellery and other decorative items, which are exported to the US, Hong Kong, Thailand, and European countries.
Titled “Reducing agate dust e…