I           India

Indians just can't hang up: The argumentative Indian is also talkative Indian. An average Indian spends more time talking on his mobile than his counterparts anywhere else except the US, according to the latest data available with telecom regulator Trai. With over 160 million subscribers, India has the highest monthly 'minutes of usage' (MOU) per subscriber in the Asia-Pacific region. The figure, according to the December 2006 data, is 454 minutes a month for GSM users and 424 minutes a month for CDMA subscribers.

At 450 million, China has the largest number of mobile subscribers, followed by the US, India and Russia. However, despite its numbers, the average usage at China Mobile, the country's leading telecom service provider, is just upwards of 303 minutes a month, with China Unicom hovering close to 220 minutes a month. However, the US still holds the top slot in terms of minutes of usage per month. According to Merrill Lynch, in the fourth quarter of 2006, the US recorded 838 minutes a month, with India at the second position with 461 minutes.

In contrast, Russia, the world's fourth largest mobile market, had just 88 minutes a month. India's mobile growth potential is no surprise considering the fact that with average call tariffs at well below Re 1 a minute it is rated as one of the cheapest markets in the world. In fact, global corporations eyeing India are often torn between low prices and growth.(Shalini Singh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indians_chat_most_on_mobiles_Report/articleshow/2118357.cms assessed on 13 June 2007)

1.         77 per cent believe Indian judiciary is corrupt: survey: A Transparency International report says that 77 per cent of respondents in a survey in India believe the judiciary is corrupt. According to the Global Corruption Report 2007, the perception of corruption is higher in India and Pakistan in comparison to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In Pakistan, 55 per cent of the respondents said the judiciary was corrupt

"The degree of delays and corruption has led to cynicism about the justice system. People seek short cuts through bri-bery and favours, leading to more unlawful behaviour. A prime example is the unauthorized buildings in Indian cities. Construction laws are flouted in connivance with persons in authority," the report says.  According to the report, as of February 2006, 33,635 cases were pending in the Supreme Court with 26 judges; 3.34 lakh cases in high courts with 670 judges; and 2.5 crore cases in 13,204 sub-ordinate courts

This vast backlog leads to long adjournments and prompts people to pay to speed up the process. In 1999, it was estimated that at the current rate of disposal of cases, it would take another 350 years for pending cases," the report states.  It also points out that the ratio of judges is abysmally low at 12-13 per one million people compared to 107 in the United States, 75 in Canada and 51 in the United Kingdom. "If the number of outstanding cases are assigned to the current number of judges, caseloads would be 1,294 per Supreme Court judge, 4,987 per high court judge and 1,916 per lower court judge."

The report recommends judicial reforms including an independent judicial appointments body, higher salaries for judges, limited impunity to actions relating to judicial duties and transparency in the functioning of judicial organisations. (Chetan Chauhan and Satya Prakash, http://hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?id=58a04fa1-9bc4-448d-b686- c4c997651b09&&Headline=77+per+cent+believe+Indian+judiciary+is+corrupt%3a+survey assessed on 25th May 2007)

2.         Once more for the Twice-Born:  The Brahmin population of India is 56 million (5.6 crore).  13% of Brahmins are poor while 19% are rich.  Literacy levels above the age of 18 is as high as 84%.  39% of them are graduates.  From 1950-2000 47% of Chief Justices of India were Brahmins.  Associate justices during the same period was 40%.  The percentage of Brahmin population is high in few states like: Delhi 12%; Himachal Pradesh 14%, Jammu & Kashmir 11%, Uttarkhand 20% and Uttar Pradesh 10%.  Moderate presence of Brahmins is in the following states:  Bihar,  Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim, Punjab, Gujarat and Karnataka 5% each, Orissa 9%, Goa and Rajasthan 7% each,  Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana 6% each.  Brahmins have meager presence in the following states: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu 1%, Chattisgarh 2 %, Tripura  and Jharkhand 3% each, Assam and Maharastra 4% each.  The core group of 20 leaders of the constituent assembly had 13 Brahmins.   (Saba Naqvi Bhaumik, Outlook 4 June 2007, p. 36-40)

3.         Suicides:  According to the National Bureau Of Crime Records, the total number of reported suicides in India was 113914 in the year 2005 compared to 108506 in the year 2001.  Maharastra, west Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have registered consistently higher number of suicides.  It has been observed in the recent past that more and more young people are contemplating, attempting or committing suicide.

Urban lifestyle, the break up of the joint family system and the increasing number of nuclear families and single parent households also seem to contribute to the problem. Counselling helps prevention of suicides in many cases.   (DNA, 25 May 2007, p. 4) The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that the suicide rates has increased in the year 2006 in comparison with 2005: Jammu and Kashmir (162.5%), Daman and Diu (146.2%), Jharkhand (93.8%), Dadra & Nagra Haveli (76.9), Bihar (54.7%), and Meghalaya (29.1%).  There is a downward trend in few states like: Punjab saw a decline of 8.8%, Haryana 1.7% and Himachal 3.2%.  The Union Territory of Chandigarh stands seventh highest in the country.  City’s cosmopolitan culture, high expectation of parents, stress at the work place, and breaking of families are some reasons for suicides in Chandigarh.  (Anilesh S. Mahajan, Tribute of Chandigarh, The city, 20 June 2007, p.3)

4.         Murder Pradesh: India’s sex ratio is 933 females per thousand males, and the State of Madya Pradesh has 919.  In Chambal’s twin districts of Bhind-Morena it stands at 828, and an alarming 400 in some villages.  The imbalance in the sex ratio is caused by femal foeticide and infanticide.  It is observed that low castes allow their girls to work in fields and go out, they do not see any difference between girls and boys.  But the upper castes like Gurjars, Thakurs and Yadavs attach a lot of importance to it, as it hurts their pride if their girls go out, or marry outside their castes.  (Deepak Tiwari, The Week 10 June 2007, p. 16-17)

5.         If you know me by now:  Haryanvi men are breaking culture, language and caste barriers to find suitable brides in Southern tipping point, Payyannur in Kerala.  According to local estimates, over 100 women from Payyannur town and ndarby villages have been given in marriage to men in Haryana.  Haryanvi youths, many of them are farmers with only basic education, fail to find brides in their own state.  Girls from Kerala are educated, have clean habits, take care of children better.  These women are bringing changes in patriarchal attitudes.  Poor girls from Kerala are glad with the uncomplicated marriages as there is no horoscope matching, no enquiries, and most importantly no dowry.  Language is a problem but the girls pick Hindi within few weeks or months. (John Mary, Outlook, 11 June 2007, p.14-16)

6.         What do the rich watch?  What does the “elite” three per cent of India watch when they switch on their TVs.  At present Rs. 800 crore of advertising on TV is targeted at the creamy layer – 12% of the total outlay.  A sample survey was done in Delhi and Mumbai among those who lived in three bed room houses, traveled abroad on work or holiday, owned more than one car, had air-conditioners and personal computers.  While the general viewer was spending 966 minutes (about 16 hours) every week, the elite were hooked for only 792 minutes. 

This could be due to many sources of entertainment available to the rich like DVDs.  The viewership for entertainment channel was 32 per cent.  English movies commanded a large and faithful following.  Formula one racing, Australia Open, Soccer league are niche sports events.  Cricket has taken a beating.  During the World Cup, even for matches in which India played, the average TRP (Television Rating Points) was just 3.76 compared to the general category’s 5.39.  But here is a real surprise-god is big among the moneyed.  Channels like Aastha and Sanskar are religiously watched by them.  The TRP for such channels among the rich was 2.48 while for the general viewer it was 1.96.  Rich homes have more than one TV so youngsters watch some programmes while older folks watch some other programmes.  (Anuradha Raman, Outlook, 11 June 2007, p. 18-20)

7.         Grain Drain:  The spectre of foodgrain imports stares India in the face, as agricultural growth plunges to an all time low.  India commands just 4 per cent of the global freshwater resources, but supports 16 per cent of world population. 40% of the farmers want to opt out of their current profession.  There are just 120 million hectare available for foodgrain production in the country- a figure that has not increase for over two decades now and has in fact begun to drop.  Even 15 years ago, over 60% of rural households own less than a hectare of land – there has been further fragmentation since then.

It is estimated that 7.5 lakh hectare of agricultural land are being diverted to other uses every year.  Even after 60 years of Independence, 60 per cent of the farmlands are still dependent on good monsoons for reasonable crop production.  Punjab was forefront in wheat production but yield that was 4700 kg per hectare has reduced to 4000 kg per hectare.  There is 15% fall in wheat yields in Punjab because of overuse of land. Since urea is cheaper than potash or phosperous, farmers grossly misused it, damaging the fertility of the land. The Central Government has decided to import 5 million tonne of wheat to tide over any possible shortage

has been no technological breakthrough in the agricultural sector. To grow an additional two million tonne of pulses, we would have to give up 8 million tonne of rice.  To stave off five million tonee of oil imports, we would need an acreage capable of growing 30 million tonne of foodgrain.  Gujarat by tapping of surface water and applying multi-pronged strategy became the highest producer of oilseeds.  Gujarat built 1.77 lakh farm ponds and 1 lakh check dams in public-private partnership and deepening 5000 village lakes.

The soil health card policy – under which scientist attached to the four agro universities in the state go to every farm and test the soil quality.  The card helps the farmer to provide the right nutrients to the soil.  Around 1.7 million farmers in Gujarat have already received such cards. Agriculture expert comments, “We spend more time choosing our cricket coaches than selecting directors to key missions like – Food security mission.  (Raj Chengappa and Ramesh Vinayak, India Today,11 June 2007, p.55)

8.         Overstretched dads:  An ACNielsen survey this year revealed 74 per cent Indian men do not want work to take up all their time.  There seems to a process of redefinition of father hood in urban India happening.  Moms enter the workforce.  For every five men, there is one woman who works in an income-generating activity.  Men feel that intrusion of technology – the Internet, e-mails and mobile phones-makes it harder to detach from work.  Guilt and regret are the by-word in many a dad’s life.  A psychiatrist says, that most of his patients are in their late 30s or 40s, work round the clock, spend long hours in office, are busy on the BlackBerry or the Internet at home, and often on the phone with colleagues across the seas at unearthly hours. 

They visit doctors because children’s ‘grades are falling’, or they are getting ‘difficult to handle’.  In the course of counseling it often appears that it’s the father’s physical or mental absence that’s at the root of the crisis.  Fifty years ago, parenting was simpler for men.  As the sole breadwinner, a dad’s responsibilities typically ceased the moment he crossed the threshold of his home.  The father was more aloof and emotionally more detached.  The breakdown of the joint family has lessened the father-child distance.  Kids don’t seem to hold fathers in awe anymore. 

Families are much more child-centric now and children are quick to grasp this.  One student said, “My father is a Sunday Father I see him only on Sundays”.  Children’s disappointment with fathers is clear in a survey done by VIMHANS.  73 per cent prefer to discuss issues troubling them with friends, and only 13 per cent with parents.  In 2005, teachers across the country claimed, 70 to 80 per cent of fathers do not turn up at parent-teacher meetings in schools.  Fathers try to bribe teenagers with gadgets, cars, foreign trips, unlimited pocket money etc.  One father lamented, “He did not misbehave or loose interest in studies.  He just lost interest in his parents.  He was totally detached from anything at home.”  The father made serious efforts to build bridges, bit it was too late to reinvent the wheel.  Fathers are in conflict. 

They are called, “Transient Confused Fathers”.  Having two incomes may have brought economic benefits to countless families and given women opportunities for fulfillment, but it has lef men scrambling to become the full-fledged co-parents their wives now need them to be.  A study shows that Indian men today pitch in 16 hours a week in homework-up from 1.2 hours in 1965.  The thought running in the minds of fathers:  Should I pause and spend more time at home?  Will that mean losing out on the fatter paycheck, the fancier car, the promotion?  Till that dilemma is resolved, the tribe of Transient Confused Fathers can only increase.  (Damayanti Datta, India Today, 11 June 2007, p. 68-72)

9.         Farmers are dying in Gujarat too:  Across Gujarat, farmers’ suicides are either unreported or wrongly reported.  Ironically, the people protesting against this are from the farmers’ wing of the ruling BJP.  The Government has declared that there were 148 farmers’ suicides while unofficial estimates put the figure at 300.  Small farmers are in distress.  Families do not report suicides to police fearing harassment.  Many widows are scared of going to police. The most industrialized state, ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ is more feudal than modern.  Earlier farmers had to pay only for seeds, now they have to pay for tractor, power, water, and labour.  A pair of jeans that weights around 500 grams sells for Rs. 1500-1700 in the designer stores, but farmers get only Rs. 13 for 500 grams of cotton.  Those who are processing get all the profit, not those who produce. (Dionne Bunsha, Frontline, 15 June 2007, p. 41-43)

10.       Higher Education, Lowest standards:  In this season of celebrating toppers and staggering cut-offs in college admissions across the country, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has come up with a startling admission: Over half of the students who pass Class XII don’t even enter the higher-education sector; 90 per cent of colleges and 68 per cent of universities across the country are of middling or poor quality. On almost all indicators, from faculty standards to library facilities, from computer availability to student-teacher ratio, higher education is in crying need for an upgrade

“quality gap” in both universities and colleges is alarming: 25 per cent faculty positions in universities remain vacant; 57 per cent teachers in colleges do not have either an M Phil or PhD; there is only one computer for 229 students, on an average, in colleges. The assessment was conducted on 123 universities and 2,956 colleges across India — an estimated 60% of these institutions were private, the rest government-run. Institutions participated on a voluntary basis. It was based on seven broad parameters: curriculum, teaching, research and consultancy, infrastructure, student support, management and innovative practices.

The data acquire extra significance given the boom in the higher education sector and the exponential rate of growth expected. The number of universities has risen from 20 in 1947 to 378 in 2006; colleges, from 500 to 18,064 during the same period. And yet, “little more than half, 52.61 per cent, of those who passed the 12th standard get into colleges and universities, the other half drops out,” said UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat  The dropout rate among Scheduled Tribes is maximum (61.5 per cent), followed by Scheduled Castes (51.21) and Other Backward Classes (50.09). The key findings are startling:

• Of 123 universities, only a third is of “good quality,” over a half are B-grade and a sixth C-grade

• Among 2,956 colleges, only 10 per cent made the Grade A cut; 66 per cent were B-grade and 24 per cent C-grade.

(Shubhajit Roy http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/33198.html assessed on 10th June 2007)

11.       Chandigarh will be India’s first smoke-free city: Chandigarh is all set to add another feather to its cap — it will become the first smoke-free city in the country.  The Chandigarh administration is working to get the city declared smoke free by July 1.

The joint capital of Punjab and Haryana will have designated smoking areas at all public places and buildings to ensure that smoking is restricted and the general public is not forced to passively inhale smoke.  Besides protecting children, women and non-smokers from the harmful consequences of tobacco and smoking, such an initiative will improve the global image of Chandigarh and will be helpful in promoting business and tourism. (Jaideep Sarin,

http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/india/chandigarh-will-be-india’s-first-smoke-free-city.aspx assessed on 10th June 2007)

12.       150 cameras to monitor city: The police, in an attempt to track anti-social elements, will install 150 cameras all over the city of Hyderabad.  This will enable city police to keep a tab on public movement at important locations. So far, six cameras have been installed and another 24 cameras will be installed by the end of July.  The sophisticated close circuit cameras will come up outside Mecca Masjid, Charminar, Assembly building, Secretariat, Necklace Road, Public Gardens, NTR Marg and other important traffic junction. The cameras will capture the movements of vehicles and public and is connected to offices of commissioner, concerned zonal deputy commissioners and police control room.  The cameras will have a facility to zoom in on suspicious persons at important places and on those carrying suspicious objects and other material. The city traffic police will also use the video cameras to record vehicle numbers parked in no parking zones. The erring motorists will get e-challans with pictures.  (http://deccan.com/City/CityNews.asp?#150%20cameras%20to%20monitor%20city assessed on 10th June 2007)

13.       Low salaries lead Bangalore upwardly mobile to crime: A computer science graduate, an engineer at a Bangalore MNC, an economics graduate and an MBA student. The foursome did not get together and create something for the betterment of mankind. Instead, these educated, employed youth of Bangalore robbed an accountant of Rs 10 lakh, 10 days ago. The four followed the accountant after he had drawn Rs 1.2 crore from a bank till he reached Castle Street, where they took his money at gunpoint. Says Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bangalore Central, "They said that they did it with an eye on improving their lifestyles, that they are influenced by the fast life in the city." The robbers said they had seen others in expensive cars, going to expensive hotels, using expensive mobiles, and they were lured by the city's materialistic comforts. So, they decided that a Rs 20,000 salary was not cool enough

they chose to crime route to luxury, they did it with meticulous planning. They chose a reasonably secluded spot on a one-way road and had been tracking their victim's movements for for one week before they robbed him. When the police caught up with them in Kerala, they recovered over Rs 6 lakh in cash, and a revolver - which the police feels was just brandished at the accountant to give the robbery a filmy touch.  And it's not a one-off case. Police officer said, "Recently, there was the case of a boy drugging a driver and taken his Ford Ikon to impress his friends in college. Possibly the thrill, and the fact that sometimes cinema glorifies crimes may have influenced these people to go ahead with these outrageous schemes." Educated, employed and harping after that dream brand - these are the new faces of crime because the money is simply not enough and that is what's causing an alarm in the city these days. (Deepa Balakrishnan, http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/06_2007/low-salaries-lead-blores-upwardly-mobile-to-crime-42697.html assessed on 11 June 2007)

14.       Stolen electricity:  30000 crore  (300 billion) of rupees worth electricity is stolen in India every year.  (The Week 17 June 2007, p.4)

15.       Act or get tagged for slavery, warns US: India has been warned to act swiftly on its human trafficking record involving forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation or risk being censured for what Washington calls "modern-day slavery." For the fourth consecutive year, India has been placed on a Tier 2 watchlist in an annual State Department report on human trafficking, a citing that implies unrelenting human exploitation. Tier 2 Watch list should be a warning. Unfortunately, too many major countries on Tier 2 Watch List have ignored this warning, year after year, according to  Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The countries named are: India, China, Russia, Mexico, and South Africa among other countries in this category. While charging that the Government of India "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking however," the report acknowledged that "it is making significant efforts to do so." However, it cited large scale systemic sloth and indifference thereafter, saying, "Overall, the lack of any significant federal government action to address bonded labor, the reported complicity of law enforcement officials in trafficking and related criminal activity, and the critical need for an effective national-level law enforcement authority impede India's ability to effectively combat its trafficking in persons problem." The latest report noted however that New Delhi passed a law in October 2006 banning the employment of children in domestic work and the hospitality industry. It also pointed out that in a July 2006 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Maharashtra government could proceed with its plan to seal brothels under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA). (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Act_or_get_tagged_for_slavery_warns_US/articleshow/2118390.cms assessed on 13 June 2007)

16.       Indians just can't hang up: The argumentative Indian is also talkative Indian. An average Indian spends more time talking on his mobile than his counterparts anywhere else except the US, according to the latest data available with telecom regulator Trai. With over 160 million subscribers, India has the highest monthly 'minutes of usage' (MOU) per subscriber in the Asia-Pacific region. The figure, according to the December 2006 data, is 454 minutes a month for GSM users and 424 minutes a month for CDMA subscribers. At 450 million, China has the largest number of mobile subscribers, followed by the US, India and Russia. However, despite its numbers, the average usage at China Mobile, the country's leading telecom service provider, is just upwards of 303 minutes a month, with China Unicom hovering close to 220 minutes a month. However, the US still holds the top slot in terms of minutes of usage per month. According to Merrill Lynch, in the fourth quarter of 2006, the US recorded 838 minutes a month, with India at the second position with 461 minutes. In contrast, Russia, the world's fourth largest mobile market, had just 88 minutes a month. India's mobile growth potential is no surprise considering the fact that with average call tariffs at well below Re 1 a minute it is rated as one of the cheapest markets in the world. In fact, global corporations eyeing India are often torn between low prices and growth.(Shalini Singh, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indians_chat_most_on_mobiles_Report/articleshow/2118357.cms assessed on 13 June 2007)

17.       Dalits not welcome in IIT Madras: There are only a handful of Dalit students and faculty members at the elite institute,  But they face widespread discrimination and harassment.  Even though there is mandatory 22.5 per cent quota for students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, only 11.9 per cent of the students belong to this category according to institute’s deputy registrar.  They were fewer in the higher courses – 2.3 per cent in MS (Research) and 5.8 per cent in Ph.D.  Out of a total of 4687 students, Dalits made up only 559.  Activists who have been fighting for proper implementation of reservation of reservation describe IIT Chennai as modern day agraharam –a Brahmin enclave.  Located on a 250 hectare wooded campus in the heart of the city, the majority of 460 faculty members and students here are Brahmins. 

There are four Dalits among the institute’s faculty, a meager 0.86 per cent.   There are about 50 OBC (Other Backward Castes) faculty members.  Dalit Ph.D. scholars are regularly harassed by changing their topic of research midway and unduly delay the thesis and fail in viva.  The institute does not have a single professor from Dalit community even after nearly four decades of existence. There are several departments in which not a single Ph.D. scholar has done research.  Dalit student are compelled to do preparatory course of one year.  A Dalit student with 94% mark was compelled to the preparatory course and was deliberately failed.  The institute does not advertise vacancies in the newspapers.  Of the six deans in the institute, four are from Iyengar community.  High Court dismissed a case filed against flawed selection process of faculty last year.  Vasantha Kandasamy, assistant professor in mathematics,  has been denied even free telephone connection and promotion as she belongs to OBC.  She has published 26 research books (21 published in US), 640 research papers, guided 15 Ph.D. scholars but she has been denied promotion. (P.C. Vinoj Kumar, Tehelka, 16 June 2007, p. 8-9.)  Please note the High Court also has not reprimanded the casteist elite institute.  Readers may buy a book “No garlic and No Onions” – a novel that brings out the caste clash in one campus – enlightening book.

18.       Fraud scientist takes RSS for a ride down Lord Ram’s bridge: The “space scientist” who, for two years, helped the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) formulate its opposition to the Sethusamudram project has turned out to be just like the Sangh’s argument — a fraud.  The RSS said today that it would “remove” him as pracharak after an investigation by The Sunday Express showed that Puneesh Taneja, who is said to have access right up to Sarsanghchalak K S Sudershan, allegedly forged his credentials

passed himself off as “Dr” Puneesh Taneja and flaunted visiting cards and stationery identifying himself as “Senior Research Scientist/Additional Secretary, Department of Space, Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, New Delhi.” These cards, obtained by The Sunday Express, are embossed with the logo of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Sources said Taneja told the RSS that he was on a two-year leave from the Government and that he was with ISRO. There are red faces in the saffron brotherhood because many within the RSS were taken in by these cards and even saw Taneja as a “linkman” between the RSS and the UPA Government. So much so that he was made a fulltime pracharak in 2005 and began operating from an RSS flat in Noida. “ISRO has no relation with this man. We have not heard of him at all. The Additional Secretary, Department of Space, is an IAS officer. He is S V Ranganath, he sits in Bangalore

Also, the Sethusamudram project has no connection with ISRO,” ISRO director for information S Krishnamurthy told The Sunday Express in Bangalore. For, last month, Taneja even held a press conference in the capital with VHP chief Ashok Singhal who slammed the Government on the project. Defying all scientific evidence, the VHP and RSS officially urged the UPA Government to re-route the project claiming it would destroy the “Rama Sethu” built by Lord Ram to Lanka to rescue Sita. The Sangh even threatened to launch an agitation against the Centre in case the canal’s route isn’t changed.

(Shishir Gupta http://www.indianexpress.com/sunday/story/33813.html assessed on 17 June 2007)

 19.     Tribals and quotas:  Rajasthan is the single largest beneficiary of the quota for scheduled tribes despite there being many other states with much larger tribal populations.  And in Rajasthan, it is the Meen community that corners the biggest chunk of the ST quota benefits, if their representation in the all – India civil sercies is any indication.  Meenas dominate the ST quota compared to the numerous other tribal communities of the state such as Bhils, Sahariyas, Patelias and Koknas.  Rajasthan has 8% of national tribal population; out of 474 selected Civil Sercies candidates in 2006, 36 were ST candidates.  Of these 13 were Meenas constituting 36% of tribal quota.  The North East staes – Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal – together account for 8% of country’s tribal population.

  10 civil services candidates came from this region – 28% of the tribal quota.  The states with the biggest share of tribal population like Madhya Pradesh (15%), Maharashtra (10%), and Orissa (10%) have little or no representation in tribal quota.  Gujarat, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh have 8% each and have poor representation in the tribal quota.  Jammu and Kashmir also has but just over 1% of India’s tribal population.  (Rema Nagarajan, Times of India, 31 May 2007, p. 5)

20.     6 mn displaced tribals yet to get compensation:  Since 1980, about 9.8 lakh hectares of forestland has been diverted for 11282 development projects according to an official reply to a Parliamentary question.  It specifically mentions that about 1.6 lakh hectares of forest land was diverted for 300 mining projects alone.  Though there is no official estimate of displaced tribals, 2004 study done by NGO Manthan Adhyayan estimates that the Indira Sagar Dam in Madhya Pradhes has submerged 42000 hectares of forest land and displaced over 80000 people.  Ekta Parishad, another NGO, estimates that in the last one decade about 4.7 million hectares of forest land has been occupied by the Chattigarh government displacing about 1.5 million tribals.  A 2006 National Advisory Council paper by D. Swaminadhan, says that in the last 50 years over 9 million tribals were displaced  out of which 6 million are yet to get any compensation.  The Government just compensates the assets and not livelihood which has social and economic consequences.   (Saikat Noogi, Hindustan Times, 18 June 2007, p.12)

 21.     Out of school students: Bengal first, Bihar second:  Thee are as many as 11 districts in Bihar where out of school children in the age group 6-14 are more than 50000,.  Neighbouring West Bengal has nine such districts.  But, when it comes to exact numbers, Bihar has total of 6.96 lakh out of school children while West Bengal tops with a figure of 9.61 lakh.  Over all, there are 24 districts having more than 50000 out of school children – contribute 19.33 lakh children of the total national number of children70.18 lakh.   (Akshaya Mukul, Times of India, 20 June 2007, p. 14)

22.    Institution of excellence:  The Prime Minister of India has proposed to start 30 New Central Universities and start 340 colleges in each backward district where the enrolment with colleges is less.  It would be in addition to 367 universities and 18064 colleges in India.  (Tribune 25 June 2007, p.10)

  II         Indian Diaspora

Great immigration debate has Indians steamed up: The fate of tens of thousands of high-skilled Indian professionals waiting to be permanent US residents is being sidelined in an immigration debate that is heavily tilted in favor of illegal workers, according to advocates of high-tech immigration and Indian activists. Close to 450,000 Indian professionals are caught up in the H1-B-Green Card gridlock. 

The ongoing debate centers mainly on the 12 million mostly illegal immigrants, who, under the new proposals being mooted, will jump ahead of high-skilled Indians and qualify to become US citizens.     What's being debated here is a pro-illegal worker, anti-skilled professional bill - "What this country is saying is that it prefers cherry pickers to high skilled work force, not that I have anything against cherry pickers," according to one skilled worker from India. Not only is there a proposal to reduce skilled worker Green Cards from 140,000 to 90,000, there is also a move that would require H1B holders to renew their visas on an annual basis. 

Even accounting for proposed hike in skilled worker Green Card allocation to individual countries from 7 per cent to ten per cent of the total quota, it will take 45 years to clear the backlog from India at the rate of around 10,000 Green Cards a year. (Chidanand Rajghatta, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Indians_now_face_a_Green_Card_gridlock/articleshow/2072510.cms)

III        Global

In a first, UK bans video game for too much gore: British censors on banned a video game for the first time in 10 years, rejecting US published “manhunt 2” for what they described as an unrelenting focus on sadism and brutal slaying.  The decision was taken by the British Board of Film classification.  The game encourages visceral killings which is cumulative casual sadism.  (Times of India, 22 June 2007, p.12)


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Global Urban Vision – July 2007

(Compiled and Published by J.N. Manokaran  (jnmanokaran@yahoo.com ) on behalf of Glocal Resources Development Associates)