Tag: people

India’s population is one of its greatest assets : Nayantara Sheron Appleton

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 16 July 2021: The population topic is not new in India. From ‘Do Ya Teen Bas’ (Two or three enough) and later ‘Hum Do Hamare Do’ (We two – Our two) and coercive population control during Indira Gandhi’s emergency are historical. The fact India will become the most populous nation is a foregone conclusion. The recent plan of the Uttar Pradesh govt led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath proposing incentives for those limiting their families to 2 kids and disincentives for those who have more than two children is generating debate and heating politics.

It also goes without saying China which had a one-child norm for many years has relaxed it and now families can have more children. The demographic consequences of the one-child policy are another subject.

Nayantara Sheron Appleton, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Science in Society, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand is researching Hormonal Contraceptives, Reproductive Rights, and Population Control. Born in UP, India, she describes herself as, ” I am a cis-hetero-Asian Indian immigrant female, interested in inclusions and exclusions in/from science, technology, and medicine from a feminist, queer, racial and post-colonial STS framework.”

Sydney Radio anchor Manbir Kohli (Kathe Sunte) talked to Nayantara about demography focussed on the latest UP population proposals. Explaining the subject, Nayantara says, if you go to India you see crowds in a city and feel too many people around and think this is the problem but ignore the many issues like inequality, gender disparity, economic disparity, literacy, infertility, rural-urban, and so on. A person who lives in the city does not know what is happening in the rural areas. So, the feeling is overpopulation needs to be curbed, she says.

So, to hide political, administrative, and social failures, the governments push agendas that paint excessive population as being the culprit. It is not the current government only but was earlier done by the Congress during the internal emergency, Nayantara explains.

“The population issue in UP is a political thing. It has not done well in the last 4 years and you want to convince lost development was because of too much population.”

Nayantara says India’s population is one of its greatest assets, the current use of the population issue as dog-whistling is evident. In fact, people are not the problem. Raising the population bogey is meant to hide failures. So, failure on the economic front and corruption issues can easily be diverted by the population issue. And, then there is no social security.

“Even if 50 percent of India’s population becomes middle class then it becomes the biggest consumer base in the world.”

About falling fertility, she says, ” India has rapidly declined in fertility rates, and in five years (by 2025) it will fall to 2.1, below the replacement rate. The issue of culture is also there. We had large farming families meaning more earners and when parents grow old they are looked after. If there is no one to look after in old age in the absence of social security then what happens.”

“Today the fight is for India’s future,” she says.

“The thing that people are the problem is there in our brain – too many people. I say, ” It is the love of people we need to bring back to India”.

Covid-19 exacerbated pre-existing grievances, stigmas, community divisions: UN study

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By Rajiv Shah
A recent study, jointly carried out by the UN World Food Programme and the International Organization for Migration, seeking to explore the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown measures on migrant workers, remittance-dependent households and the forcibly displaced, has identified India as one of the major countries where Covid-19 has “exacerbated pre-existing grievances, stigmas and community divisions, resulting in increased discrimination against mobile and displaced population perceived as disease carriers.”
Such dynamics not only have an “impact on the identification of Covid-19 cases” but has also lead to “discriminatory service provision, growing intercommunal distrust, political violence or arbitrary measures, as well as rendering migrants afraid to access services”, the study, titled “Populations at risk: Implications of COVID-19 for hunger, migration and displacement”, says.
Referring to India in particular, the study underlines, “In India, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing and on extreme poverty have highlighted the stigmatization as ‘virus carriers’ of the more than 100 million internal migrant workers in the country.”
It adds, “The spread of rumours and disbelief in some communities about the pandemic, coupled with weak or non-existent inclusive and accessible information on Covid-19 transmission, may further expose vulnerable, minority and marginalized populations to the transmission of the virus.”
Noting how this has happened in several countries, the study, without referring to the Tablighi event in India, states, “Migrants are used as scapegoats as carriers of the virus and as a result, suffer exclusion and violence. In addition to the forced removals, fears about Covid-19 have led to migrants experiencing verbal and physical harassment, increased detention and movement restrictions.”
Coming to internally displaced persons (IDPs), the study says, across the world, “by December 2019, the total number of IDPs had reached its highest ever point and included 45.7 million people displaced as a result of conflict and violence and 5.1 million who remained displaced as a result of disasters, due to weather-related and natural hazards.”
Even as pointing out that almost all IDPs live in LMICs. five countries – the Syrian Arab Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen and Afghanistan – account for more than half of the 45.7 million IDPs who have fled conflict and violence, the study states, “The 5.1 million people who remained displaced due to disasters are distributed across 95 countries and territories; Afghanistan hosts the largest number, with 1.2 million IDPs who have fled drought and floods in recent years, followed by India (590,000) and Ethiopia (390,000).”

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Suggesting how Covid-19 has affected international migration trend as also incomes, the study says, “A large number of South and Southeast Asian migrants have been forced to return to their countries of origin because of prolonged unemployment and ad hoc measures introduced by host countries. When borders were closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, India and Pakistan organized the repatriation of their citizens from the region in response to pressure from the Gulf cooperation Council l(GCC) countries.”
“In the United Arab Emirates alone, more than 200,000 Indian and 60,000 Pakistani nationals registered for repatriation”, the study says, adding, “Such migration movements may have had the unintended effect of driving transmission in areas with less capacity to provide testing, isolation and treatment, as well as increasing vulnerability for migrants during their journey and in their home communities.”
Suggesting how this may have affected remittances at home, the study states, India’s reliance on remittances has “fallen steadily over the past two decades along with their rapid economic growth”, yet it “continues to receive substantial remittance inflows.” Thus, in the South and South-East Asian countries, remittances sent to India stook the highest (USD 83 billion), followed by the Philippines (USD 35 billion), Pakistan (USD 22 billion) and Bangladesh (USD 18 billion).

Source- counterview.net,January 15, 2021

Why Indo-Pak relations have been on ‘knife’s edge’ , hostilities may remain for long

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By Utkarsh Bajpai*

The past few decades have seen strides being made in all aspects of life – from sticks and stones to weaponry. The extreme case of this phenomenon has been nuclear weapons. The menace caused by nuclear weapons in the past is unforgettable. Images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from 1945 come to mind, after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities.
This squashed the Japanese opposition and effectively ended World War 2, killing over 150,000 in its wake. Seventy-five years after Hiroshima, the nuclear threat is far from over. Even though the number of nuclear warheads has gone down since the Cold War, the number of countries possessing them has gone up – to nine. The aftermath of a nuclear war today can be catastrophic, especially so because of the rise in sophistication of nuclear warhead technology.
Troublesome neighbours
Out of the several regions of global tension, arguably the most critical is the one between India and Pakistan. Despite the shared historical, geographic, economic and cultural ties, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been strained ever since the partition of British India in 1947.
India’s nuclear programme dates back to 1944, while still in the shadow of the British rule. After not much progress, India revitalized its nuclear program in 1962, following a Himalayan border war against the Chinese. India refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). After detonating its first nuclear device in 1974 (under the codename “Smiling Buddha”), India became the sixth country to possess and detonate nukes.
This period saw a rising conflict between India and Pakistan, with three wars fought between the neighbours in the period. The First Kashmiri war was in 1947 over Jammu and Kashmir was the first. The second war was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, again over J&K insurgency.
The third and arguably largest war was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which resulted in Pakistan conceding over 50,000 sq miles of territory and millions of its populace in the form of the newly formed Bangladesh. This weakened Pakistan’s standing in South Asia. As a response, then PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto aggrandized Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Two decades and a half later, Pakistan conducted a successful nuclear test in May 1999. This made Pakistan the seventh nation to do so, sending shock waves across the globe. This event marked the beginning of the second distinct nuclear enmity in the world, the first one being the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Peace activists’ voice

The tensions between the two nations kept simmering in the next few years. It was around this period that the intellectual community of the nations took notice and acknowledged the peril that nuclear weapons could put the Indian sub-continent in. Voices started being raised on both sides of the borders.
One such voice belonged to Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a Pakistani physicist who did his PhD from London. Nayyar was one of Pakistan’s leading peace activist at the time, who opposed the ongoing nuclear race between India and Pakistan. Nayyar, along with his colleagues, were instrumental in the Peace Movements in Pakistan in 1985. Mass gatherings were held in different regions of Pakistan, where leading figures from the field of academia, politics, military and the likes mobilized support for the denuclearization and peace.
Nayyar and Co, along with counterparts from India, laid the founding bricks of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). The objective of this initiative was to create a platform for everyday citizens of the two countries to listen to voices different from the antagonistic voices of the respective Governments.
This organization held biannual joint conventions, alternating venues between both nations. In Nayyar’s admission, PIPFPD mustered resounding support in both countries. The group contributed several research papers, books and articles to spread their message farther. They also pursued the signing of No War Pact between India and Pakistan. However, in the forthcoming years, their efforts lay waste, as the friction between the countries grew.

Rising tensions, stubborn governments

To the world’s horror, India and Pakistan entered another war in May 1999, the Kargil War, again on the issue of Kashmir insurgency. Kargil War is the only example of direct warfare between the two nuclear nations. A much more dire incident occurred in December 2001, when the Indian Parliament was attacked by two Pakistani terrorist groups, leading to twelve casualties. These attacks strained the relations between the two states to a new extreme. This also had severe implications for all the diplomatic work done by the PIPFPD.
India, like China, committed to a No First Use (NFU) doctrine in 2003, with the intent of defusing tensions with its neighbours. Under this commitment, India promised to use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack, and never in retaliation to conventional weaponry. Pakistan felt it would be unable to defeat India in a conventional war, which was its motivation to pursue nuclear weapons.
Thus, till now Pakistan has refused to sign to any such doctrine. As a part of his 2014 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s manifesto promised to revise and reupdate India’s nuclear doctrine to make it more relevant to current times. Many interpret this as an upcoming change in India’s NFU doctrine, advocated initially by the Vajpayee led BJP. However, later Modi denied all such speculations.
Relations between the two have been on a knife’s edge since February 2019, when a Pakistan based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attacks, which led to the deaths of 40 paramilitary police officers. India responded with airstrikes on Pakistani territory, a first in almost half a century. At the time, a war breaking out seemed imminent.
As a response, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Until now, our nuclear policy has been based on ‘No First Use’, but what happens in the future will depend on the circumstances”. Such statements by the Defense Minister cast shadows of doubts on India’s NFU policy and effectively render it meaningless. To make matters worse, this statement came at a time when the two states were hardly on talking terms. This statement can have dangerous consequences for the two countries.
The different nuclear heads owned by India and Pakistan.

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What lies ahead?

No Indian government till now has shown the political intent (or courage) to address the Kashmir issue, to demilitarize it, or enter diplomatic talks with Pakistan to reach a solution. India’s decision to revoke Article 370 and divide India administered Kashmir into two territories, followed by inhumane measures such as the curfew and communications blackout, again put India and Pakistan at loggerheads.
Now, even though hostility has reduced relative to past years, the territorial rivalry remains, and is likely to last for far longer than expected. Pakistan says that it won’t take steps towards disarmament until the United States also does the same. However, hope for a peaceful future, free of weapons of mass destructions remains. Nayyar believes that times will change and the chasm between the people will fill.
He cites the examples of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register of Citizens (NRC) and farmers’ protests to say that times are changing, and people are finding their voices. Only after India and Pakistan agree on these fundamental issues can a peace future be envisaged, he says. Before India and Pakistan call for worldwide disarmament, they must normalize nuclear relations with each other. A world free from the fears of nuclear war can not be created or sustained without the active involvement of India and Pakistan.

* Second-year management student at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad. This article was written with inputs by Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a physicist and noted peace activist from Pakistan

Source- counterview.net

Media houses seeking to ‘transform’ citizens into customers in a society driven by profit

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By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

In early 15th century Europe, news used to be political, economic, military, and diplomatic messages of the ruling classes. There was no mass media. It was often the voices of the businessmen and ruling elites circulated within their own networks. The revolutionary upheavals and democratization of society during the 19th century led to the growth of mass media.

People used mass media to fight against all forms of exploitation, injustices, and inequalities. The mass media has also played a momentous role during the struggle against feudalism, colonialism, and apartheid. Mass media is vital in the growth of liberal, secular, democratic, progressive, and scientific ideas in society.

Therefore, it is the historic responsibility of mass media to report on realities of everyday life and consider the fact as sacred in professional journalism. Yellow journalism is no journalism. But idealism and principles are dead within mainstream capitalist media.
From the early 20th century onwards, the mass media is not only manufacturing consent but also works as an agency of the ruling and non-ruling elites to hide alternatives from the masses. The old world of yellow journalism is transformed into news and opinions for sale in a post-truth world.

It spreads fake news, misrepresents everyday realities, twists facts, and shapes opinions like a marketing or advertisement industry. The mainstream media works as a propaganda machine for people with money and power. The uncritical reporting and ruling class biases are obsequious.
There is limited space for debates and disagreements in the media today. The editorial pages and opinion pieces are sponsored by the market forces that are concomitant with the requirements of neoliberal capitalism and its governance models.
The essence of neoliberal capitalism and its affiliated media is to create a domesticated and uncritical mass audience and destroy critical voices representing people. The idea is to create mass-produce social, cultural, and political values that accepts the dominance of illegitimate authority and power.

It is the market monopoly that controls the media today. The market monopolies are controlled by oligarchs of mass media. There are six companies (Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, CBS, and Viacom), which control almost all 90% media in the USA and other parts of the world.
The National Amusements is a multinational media conglomerate owned by Sumner Redstone and Shari Redstone. These two people control more than 170 networks, reaching out to more than 700 million people in more than 160 countries with the help of a company called the Viacom.
It is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. It controls print, electronics, and internet media outlets. It also controls movies, video games, TV shows, and many other creative industries like music. These companies shape public taste in culture, consumption, and voting behavior.

The Walt Disney Company is known as Disney, which controls hundreds of media and entertainment outlets. It is one of the leading multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate which played a major role in shaping capitalism with American dreams. It helped to transform the need-based society into a desire-based society with the help of its advertisement and animation industry.

It has promoted a culture of self-gratifying fantasies of individualism. It is also responsible for producing popular cultural narratives for the naturalization and normalization of American and global capitalism.

Time Warner is known as Warner Media LLC, which is another largest mass media and entertainment conglomerate. This conglomerate has used individual privacy data for its financial gain and played a major role in destroying net neutrality.

The Comcast is another largest media and entertainment conglomerate, which played a major role in shaping American and world politics. It has a huge budget for political lobbying and it funds electoral campaigns in the name of universal political action.

Six companies Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, CBS, and Viacom control almost 90% media in the US and other parts of the world
It traps consumers with its political projects and propaganda. This media corporation is opposed to universal media access. The News Corporation is owned by media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, who controls media and publication outlets in five continents. The News Corporation is known as the predatory capitalist media, which destroys media diversity and democracy. It upholds the power of the capitalist market.

Similarly, the Sony Corporation is another leading multinational conglomerate that controls the largest music, entertainment, and video game business. These media corporations uphold the voices of the capitalist class and suppress the interests of the working-class masses.

The large media corporations are a threat to the democratic and liberal values of the societies across the globe. In the pursuit of profit, the mainstream mass media has formed its alliances with reactionary religious, nationalist, undemocratic, illiberal, and fascist forces across the globe. It negates every founding principle of mass media.

These media corporations and their affiliates promote a culture of no alternative to capitalism in politics, economy, society, and culture. These forces hide the economic, social, and cultural realities of everyday lives within capitalism and promote capitalist myth. Facts are no longer the foundation of journalistic analysis.

It’s all about spreading the falsehood of market forces by spreading consumer culture as the only culture where individuals can realize their free choices. These media houses are responsible for transforming citizens as mere customers in a society driven by profit. In this way, mass media destroys society based on solidarity, love, share, and care by celebrating unabashed hedonistic individualism. Mass alienation is the net outcome of capitalism that led to corporate mass media.

It is imperative for people to detox themselves from the propaganda machines of the governing elites and find their own alternatives. It is time to reclaim the founding principles of mass media by representing the predicaments of the masses.
The masses can organize themselves to create cooperative media organizations to uphold their voices and represent their interests while promoting liberal, democratic, secular, and scientific ethos in society. This is only possible when people can control their own narratives by establishing people’s media free from corporate cultures.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is the only alternative to defeat the toxic culture of capitalism and its mass media, which destroys the lives, livelihoods of the masses. It serves power and tame voices of people. The powerful mass movement can crumble the palaces of media moguls and their oligarchic empire of propaganda and profit. The cooperative media owned by people is the only alternative to uphold Vox Populi.

*Coventry University, UK

Locked up, caged? Back from abroad, ‘elite’ migrants too find their aspirations dashed

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By Shivangini Piplani, Sandeep Pandey*

‘Madam, Jhooth nahi bolenge, 1500 pada hai, hum 75 aadmi ek truck me aae the (Madam, I’ll not lie, we came back in Rs. 1,500 per head, 75 of us packed in one truck),’ Ram Kishore confessed to the first writer when she called him up in his village Dalkheda in Unnao District to verify some information related to migrant laborers who’ve returned. Ram Kishore is a Dalit like most workers from his village who had migrated in search of livelihood.

Ram Kishore used to work in a crockery factory in Delhi. Ram Sewak, from the same community, used to vend vegetables in Ludhiana. His two sons Shivam and Himanshu used to work in a sticker making factory there and had to return with unpaid salary for the last two months. He called up to say that it has been two months since they returned and there has been no support whatsoever forthcoming from the government, his family is landless and in desperation, he has come to Lucknow now but even here he is finding it difficult to earn a livelihood.

Ganga Ram from village Arsenal used to work as a guard in a newspaper office in Noida and his son Amit used to run errands in the same office. He lost Rs 5,000 is an automatic teller machine and his son returned with Rs 4,000 pending wages. Seema (not the real name), merely 17 years of age, was working as a domestic help in Noida to support her family. She had to return all by herself.

Listening to all the stories of the migrant workers who have come back made us feel really privileged for all the things we have.
The first writer was a student studying in Germany when lockdown forced her to take one of those repatriation flights, and she thought she had to struggle at the airport or wait in long queues, knowing little about the real miseries the less privileged were facing back in India. She got an opportunity to talk to these migrant workers as part of a survey that was conducted. She was inquiring about the cost each of them had to incur to come back.
She stayed at Clarks Awadh hotel for a quarantine period, where she was provided meals three times a day but for some of the migrant workers who were quarantined at some school in their vicinity, they had to manage food from their home.

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Maybe the system is not broken but sure there are many loopholes, some intentional, some unintentional, because of which many returnee migrant workers were denied the benefits which were promised by chief minister Yogi Adityanath and still continue to be neglected. It was not the government but the civil society which restored the faith in humanity by providing food, water, and other services to the returning migrant workers. The government appeared to be an obstacle in their passage back home.

We often start blaming our lives, but talking to the migrant workers and acknowledging their situation has shaped us in a better way
A stark disparity in our society has forced some of the less privileged to suffer and continue to suffer. Some of the migrant workers had to walk back and can one sitting in one’s house complaining about the lockdown imagine the sheer helplessness of the migrant workers?

They leave their family to find work in different cities to sustain. Due to lockdown they were forced out of work, managing a day’s meal became difficult and on top of that was the pressure of paying rent. ‘Everybody immediately agreed to the idea of returning as soon as it was suggested because there was no way we could have survived under the conditions of extended lockdown,’ as Ram Kishore told his story, not once did it appear that he was complaining, he was just narrating the simple fact.

On the other hand, the privileged class was safe inside their homes and had a comfortable cushion in the form of savings. Most service sector employees continued to get their salaries during the lockdown. They had the luxury to work from home.
On a bad day, we often start blaming our lives, but talking to the migrant workers and acknowledging their situation has definitely shaped us in a better way, despite all the misery and pressure they are in, they were all very polite and humble, not once they wailed, but to hear them breaks one’s heart a little.

It is beyond comprehension how some families managed to walk back on feet with their toddlers around and all belongings packed in one or two bags which could be carried on back or head facing threats on three fronts — the coronavirus disease, the hunger, and the police.

Sometimes people are not looking for solutions; they are looking for someone who is willing to hear them out. Some of the migrant workers we spoke to just wanted to pour their heart out because they felt finally someone is listening to them. Some shared their desperate condition in the village. Some of them are tired of sitting at home because there is nothing to do. The lockdown regime seems to have choked all their options.

That is where the difference between the privileged and migrant workers seems to end. As the migrant workers face an uncertain future, the first writer is not sure whether she wants to go back to Germany. Her social cushion may help her survive materially, but like the migrant worker, her aspirations are dashed for the moment. She may finish her degree formally by completing online classes but getting a job has become a big question mark.

*Shivangini Piplani is doing masters at the Berlin School of Business and Innovation; Sandeep Pandey is a Magsaysay award-winning social-political activist

Source- counterview.net
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July 25, 2020