Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Caste determines spending on food, choice of work: NSSO

Rukmini S.

How much and what people eat and what work they do differs significantly by caste, new data from the National Sample Survey Office show. However, these differences are likely to be correlated, rather than caused by caste.

The NSSO released two new reports this week: one on household consumption expenditure by a social group and the other on employment and unemployment by a social group. The data show that while food takes up a larger share of the total expenditure of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) households, compared with those if Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and “others,” the food items that the different social groups spend on, changes with caste. Higher castes spend significantly more on milk and milk products. But spending on cereals and eggs and meat does not change significantly by caste in absolute terms. Among non-food items, higher castes ramp up their spending on education and rent, the data show.

While in general SC and ST households spend substantially less than OBC and upper caste ones, substantial regional differences exist, the numbers show. The total consumption expenditure of a rural SC household in Tamil Nadu is more than that of an upper caste household in rural Bihar, while that of a rural SC household in Kerala is almost as much as that of an upper caste rural household in Gujarat.

SC households are most likely to be engaged in casual labour in rural areas, but in regular wage jobs in urban areas, the data show, while OBC and upper caste households are more likely to be self-employed or in salaried jobs.

While the new data do not have information on wages, earlier research by Sukhadeo Thorat, Chairperson of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, had shown that even among casual labour, SCs have lower wages. “This should be seen as correlation rather than causation,” a senior NSSO official explained of the new data, asking not to be named.

“SC and ST households are among India’s poorest, and both the occupational profile and consumption patterns should be seen as a function of poverty,” the official added.

Source: thehindu

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

‘Babri demolition and Clean Ganga mission share an ideological thread’

Bageshree S.

‘Science too has become a target now’

Demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Clean Ganga Mission share a common ideological thread, even though the latter is subtle and therefore easily accepted by people, argued S. Settar, eminent historian and the former chairperson of the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR).

Speaking at a national seminar here on Saturday organised by the All India Save Education Committee, he said: “All animals, all books and all rivers are sacred. Why make any distinction?” The subtle ideological campaign of cleaning Ganga, he said, is more dangerous than the blatant bringing down of a monument.

He regretted that cow today has become “more important than a human being” and yajna is being projected as an environment-cleansing act. Such “absurdities”, he said, were being propagated by people worried about knowledge becoming accessible to all and the power over it slipping out of their hands. The Indian way has always been “to possess and protect knowledge, but not to part with it,” said Prof. Settar.

With a “committed rightist” at the helm of ICHR now, whose area of study was the Mahabharata , one can expect “Kurukshetra for the next few years,” said Prof. Settar.

He said that while history has always been the target, science too had become a target now, with highly regarded scientific platforms making space for “absurd arguments”.

Satyajit Mayor, Director at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, said that making claims about scientific advances in ancient India is easy and leads to an “ignorant happiness” that we had everything in the past. However, “such chauvinism is completely irrelevant” in the realm of scientific reasoning, he added.

Source: thehindu


Saturday, March 07, 2015

An open letter from a mother after ban on Nirbhaya documentary
TIME TO WAKE UP! Our justice system is so quick to ban but so busy when it comes to passing judgement.

New Delhi | Updated: March 7, 2015 7:52 pm   

By Jyotsana Mohan Bhargava

To whomsoever it may concern,

So you banned the documentary. I hope you saw it before. And in your role as sole arbiter of what we should and shouldn’t see, read, wear or eat, you’ve decided banning the documentary will help us in some arbitrary manner. But can you help us get rid of our sense of helplessness, our sense of frustration? And more than that, our feeling of utter and complete sadness?

I cried watching her parents speak. With dignity in their voice and pain in their eyes, only the heartless listening to them can remain unmoved. They sold their land, they lost their daughter in a way no one ever should and the Home Minister says he is upset about the film!

There are claims that the rapist has been glorified, that he has been given a platform. Is that all you see? Do you not hear the dark thoughts, do you not shudder when he says, without remorse that the girl deserved it and that future rapists will just kill? Or worse, if that’s possible, when his lawyer says he will set his daughter on fire if she were to step out like this? Ban the film, but what will you do about this mentality? Is this the legacy my country has for my daughters?

There was a time when I drove to work at 3.30 in the morning for my shift. I now look back and think – was I crazy? Being brave in Delhi is actually being stupid and if things remain the way they are, my kids will miss out on many college experiences because I won’t let them ever get on a DTC bus. Many young girls of course will have no choice.

Then of course there is this argument about women and their clothes. I recently shifted to the UAE. Not buzzing Dubai, but laid back Abu Dhabi. I expected it to be…I guess, conservative. But what a change! From abayas to shorts, women dress in what they want and happily walk the streets even as late as midnight. In Delhi my kids don’t even go to the park, which is just five steps across my house (at night). Here in Abu Dhabi there is no fear, because there is fear of law. Because justice is delivered swiftly. I have been here almost a year and in all this time there has been one major incident – and the reason it shocked the city was because nothing remotely similar had ever happened. A woman, some say with links to the jihadis, stabbed an American teacher. The culprit, who was covered from head to toe, was picked up within forty eight hours and has already been charged with the death penalty.

So my girls go and play outside but sadly I am from Delhi which means I need to keep checking on them. I have no answer when my elder daughter asks – “why do you keep coming…” even though this is a city where you can leave your wallet in an unlocked car with its windows rolled down.

The Delhi Police wanted the film restrained because it would apparently create fear. Really? Half the fear in this city is because we can’t really trust our own police. Have you ever been to a local police station? I have. Sniggering men with an air of such importance that I think our misplaced VIP culture begins right from here. It took me ten months to get a passport verification for my domestic help. I was made to call one police station after another; each policeman who answered too busy to help. So then, can you imagine the plight of a poor family that goes to report a rape at one of these police stations? I sometimes think that Indians don’t help others in distress on the road because they don’t want to get involved in a situation which they probably think will get messy. Harassment comes in different forms.

We are flawed on so many fronts that ‘it takes a village…’ may also not be enough. Our justice system is so quick to ban but so busy when it comes to passing judgement. Perhaps that’s why sections of the media and society are so quick to pass judgement. Some say no to the death penalty because it serves no purpose. It probably doesn’t if each punishment is ten years apart and loses all impact. But our justice system will take the time that it will; and nobody can question it. There are very few like Neelam Katara who have the forbearance to carry on and on. Our system can break even the strongest.

Then there are those like Meenakshi Lekhi who are more worried about how this film will portray India in a bad light, that we will lose out on tourism. May I please just tell the respected politician that our reputation is already smeared. Expats here tell me how they would love to visit India but have heard such horror stories that they would rather just go somewhere else. Once when I was travelling to Spain, I was told to watch out for people trying to steal wallets. I actually laughed. If you are an Indian, then that’s just a cakewalk to deal with. Banning a film will not take away the truth that Delhi is not just our political capital, it is also our rape capital.

So then here’s what we have learnt. Let’s bury our heads in the sand, look the other way, but let’s just never look in the mirror.

I grew up playing out in the sun and cycling with friends. My kids stay at home unless I can take them for some after-school lessons. I quit my job so I could let them have some fun. I have only female help in my house because it is always better to be safe than sorry. They are young right now but one day when my girls question me and want more, what will I tell them?

That their country failed them.

The views expressed by the author are personal. The article was first published in the blog Jo’s World. Log on to for more articles by the author

Source: indianexpress

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

No Proof Required: So why not ban the RSS?
Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. (PTI)

Written by Surjit S Bhalla | Published on:March 6, 2015 12:00 am   

The Narendra Modi government has lived up to its promise of being the best formation to set the economy right. Even the RBI has applauded the economic thrust of the Union budget by cutting the repo rate by 25 basis points. But on several social issues, the government has faltered and, according to several experts, this was one of the major reasons why the BJP got thrashed in the Delhi elections.

However, on one important social issue -- women’s empowerment -- Modi’s record has been outstanding. His appointment of several women in the cabinet has been noteworthy, though one can, and one should, complain about the incompetence of some of these ministers -- just as one should complain about the incompetence of some of the male ministers. Most remarkable, however, was Modi’s frank assessment of India’s record in killing unborn girls. In his Independence Day speech, Modi announced to India, and the whole world, our shameful record on female foeticide, and our shocking discrimination against women. His goal was to revolutionise and change the feudal mindset of the Indian public, and especially that of the Indian male.

Given this background, it has been nothing short of pathetic to watch BJP spokespersons writhe and contort under the yoke of defending the indefensible. The BBC made a documentary on the Delhi gang-rape of 2012 -- the rape that shocked the world in its brutality. The BBC received permission from all the authorities involved to film an interviews with one of the rapists. The documentary is about the sick mentality prevalent among males in all societies. From one’s understanding (along with the BJP Ban Brigade, I haven’t yet seen the film), the documentary is an honest look at the mind and mindset of one of the convicted rapists of the young woman -- Mukesh. How can anyone, least of all a responsible government, object to the screening of the interviews?

Once Home Minister Rajnath Singh made the decision to ban the film, the BJP posted its women leaders (Shaina N.C. and Meenakshi Lekhi) to defend the urge to ban. Curious -- just asking -- did the BJP think that their male representatives were incompetent to advocate and defend the ban on a movie about rape? However, it is highly unlikely that the men could have done worse. Here are the arguments presented by the BJP’s women leaders defending the ban.

Shaina NC: “We should respect the wishes of the parents of the rape victim.” If she had got her facts right, she would have known that both parents of the victim were strenuously arguing for the documentary to be shown. Indeed in an “illegal” (?) peek at the documentary shown last night by the BBC, the very first acknowledgement is to the victim’s parents.

Meenakshi Lekhi: She thankfully avoided the error of “parents will be upset”, but fell into several other traps, many of her own making. For example, she argued that all that the BJP was doing was conveying the “sense” of Parliament. Even though Parliament might have shouted approval of the ban, Lekhi should have reminded herself, and viewers, that Parliament is not above making mistakes -- unless the BJP now thinks that the Emergency was all right because it was approved by Parliament.
graphic-ban Illustration by CR Sasikumar

But Lekhi dug herself deeper into the mess of illogical and factual errors -- mistakes first made by Rajnath Singh. She claimed that the filmmakers had violated the law by filming without permission -- they hadn’t. She claimed they had not shown the uncut film to the Tihar jail authorities -- they had. And, somewhat shockingly, she argued that the screening of the film would affect tourism and should therefore be banned. Some might legitimately argue that the RSS’s thinking affects tourism -- so should the RSS be banned?

The simple conclusion is that the BJP jumped into the ban advocacy without looking at either the facts or, more importantly, the merits of the case. There are three major things wrong with this ban. First, if you are concerned about male violence against women, as you should be, you should make sure the film is shown, regardless of legal technicalities. (If the government still wants to ban the film, it should re-read Modi’s Independence Day speech.) Second, it is legally wrong to oppose the screening of the film after giving it legal approval and after the documentary-makers have fulfilled all legal commitments. Third, in this day and age, by arguing for a ban on a film that can easily be shown and seen on YouTube (even if you try to police that space), you are revealing to the world that you just don’t get it. Worse, you are stating, in a very public fashion, that you care more about false and fake national honour than the wellbeing and respect of women. H ow difficult is it to understand or appreciate that respect for women in all dimensions (reduction of foeticide, rape, domestic violence, etc) will do much more to preserve and elevate national honour than crude attempts to ban the screening of an unfortunate reality?

Unfortunately, and this is worrisome, the instinctive urge to ban (rather than think) is most prevalent in the newly BJP minted state of Maharashtra. This state has a young chief minister from whose youth we expected some modernity, if not progressivity, not the kind of regressive policies followed by Devendra Fadnavis’s government in banning of comedy shows and extending the existing ban on cow slaughter to the slaughter of bulls as well. What is it with young chief ministers in India, regardless of political persuasion, that they are so backward — for example, Akhilesh Yadav, Fadnavis and Arvind Kejriwal? Oof, bring back the old, ring out the new.

Regarding the extension of the cow slaughter ban to bulls (male cows), can someone please explain to me why cow slaughter is banned, but not the slaughter of buffaloes? Both give milk and, in that sense, both are “holy” or mother-like. Is there an implicit “racist” bias here, given that the buffaloes are mostly black and cows mostly white? Or is it the case that the cow is socialist and therefore fits in with the Preamble of our modified Constitution, and the buffalo is part of a capitalist disorder?

There is a larger disease at work in India -- it is the urge to ban anything that the “powerful” do not like. It is wrong to ban the screening of India’s Daughter, just as it is wrong to ban cow slaughter. And just as equally wrong to ban extremist political organisations like the RSS, unless they violate the law.

Bhalla is chairman of Oxus Investments, an emerging market advisory firm, and a senior advisor to Zyfin, a leading financial information company. Heis co-author, with Ankur Choudhary, of the book ‘Criconomics: Everything you wanted to know about ODI cricket and More’

Source: indianexpress

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