Understanding India’s demographic transition November 27, 2013Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Jha, Raghbendra , Comment
Rising incomes, increasing levels of education — particularly in women — and a variety of social factors contribute to determining the demographic profile of India’s youth and their role in India’s demographic transition.
India’s 2011 census revealed two key trends regarding India’s demographic transition. The first is that the total fertility rate has dropped from 2.9 in 2001 to 2.62 in 2011. And the second is that the gender balance has deteriorated in recent times, particularly among India’s youths. The number of girls per 1000 boys, for age groups 0–4, 5–9 and 0–6, fell from 939 to 891, 920 to 889, and 927 to 914 respectively.
The first trend is usually taken as an indicator of the demographic transition associated with rising per capita income. The second trend, however, may point to the growing widespread gender imbalance that is taking place in India. There is evidence to suggest that sex selection tests exist in India and follow-up abortions are more likely to be carried out if the fetus is found to be female. One study uses household-level data from India’s National Sample Survey (NSS) for 1993–94 and 2004–05 to identify characteristics that increase the chance of feticide, something that the Census data alone cannot identify. The study found, ironically enough, that women with higher levels of education, as well as women from wealthier households, are more likely to contribute to India’s gender imbalance. Only when the level of education and wealth combined reach a relatively high level does the gender imbalance start receding. This implies that over time there will be fewer women than men among India’s youth.
When nature calls in India, phones are on hand November 8, 2013Posted by southasiamasala in : Doron, Assa, India, Jeffrey, Robin , 1 comment so far
Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey
Election season has begun in India and media-savvy politicians are taking up the cause of toilets. India has many fewer toilets than mobile phones and this, some politicians agree, is a crying shame.
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the state of Gujarat and the leading opposition candidate for prime minister in next year’s elections, jumped on the toilet bandwagon this month. He told an audience of young people that although he was a leader of an uncompromising Hindu movement, he believed in ”toilets first, temples later”.
Officially, India has more than 900 million mobile-phone subscribers but fewer than 600 million toilets. With elections in five states due in November and national elections by next May, toilets and telecommunications are hot issues. In the past 10 years, Indians have fallen in love with the mobile phone, but fewer have the chance to use a toilet.
Black dust and bicycles November 4, 2013Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala , Comment
Rural peasants once reliant on farming and forestry for their livelihood are turning to bicycles and India’s massive coal industry to survive.
Coal in India is much more than a mineral resource. For a country where coal-fired thermal power plants produce most electricity and one where 540 million people are still waiting to be connected to the grid, coal has always been ‘a national asset’, a symbolic icon of national pride.
- A man and boy push bags of coal on their bicycle. Photo by Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt.
India is the world’s third-largest producer of coal, the only country that can boast a separate ministry for coal, and a place where the train to the collieries is lovingly named as the ‘Black Diamond Express’.India, Weigold, Auriol , 1 comment so far
In May 2010 I noted that the then Civil Nuclear Liability Bill defined the financial and legal liabilities for groups, seeking “to put the burden of damages on the nuclear plant operator”. (South Asia Masala, “Operationalizing” the Indo-US nuclear agreement) That burden remained unacceptable to potential operators United States’ companies Westinghouse and General Electric Hitachi, which have waited some three years for inter-government agreement to be reached on the unsatisfactory Nuclear Liability laws, before taking up long-since allocated sites in India to develop commercial nuclear power plants.
The Liability bill approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Ministerial Cabinet in 2009 and passed by Parliament in 2010, defined financial and legal liabilities, and was the final facilitating step in the 2008 Indo-US Nuclear Agreement, itself several years in negotiation. The benefit for India in the US reversal of a lengthy ban on supplying nuclear fuel and technology is immense, but the fine-tuning in this last stage is as problematic as the earlier delays and trade-offs over the issue of a nuclear reprocessing facility in India.
India’s Central Asia ambitions outfoxed by China and Russia October 16, 2013Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Guest authors, India , Comment
Over one year after the announcement of its ‘Connect Central Asia Policy’, New Delhi has been sidelined in four of the five Central Asian Republics. India’s revamped Central Asian initiative is partly directed at counter-balancing Chinese and Pakistani influence in the region. But its attempts to accomplish this goal while maintaining India’s historical insistence on strategic autonomy from Moscow and Washington has done it no favours.
At present, Moscow has essentially shut India out from Kyrgyzstan after sending the first instalments of a new US$1 billion military aid package to the country. This follows the strategic setback that India suffered in 2010 when it lost use of the Tajikistan Ayni airbase to Russia. And in the two larger, energy-rich nations of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, New Delhi has also been sidelined by China’s assertive energy policy.
Nurturing India’s linguistic diversity October 11, 2013Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , 2comments
While we still do not have a definitive estimate of India’s linguistic diversity, the Summer Institute of Linguistics’ Ethnologue (17th edition) reports 461 languages from India, compared to the 122 languages with more than 10,000 speakers reported in the 2001 Census and nearly 800 languages counted by the recently concluded People’s Linguistic Survey of India. But a simple headcount could be misleading because, on the one hand, about 17% of the languages listed in the Ethnologue are extinct or endangered and, on the other, 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and their “dialects” together account for more than 95% of India’s population. Furthermore, only 10% of the languages listed in the Ethnologue are used in educational institutions, whereas less than 5% languages account for most of the publications. The rest of the languages are unable to thrive even in fields like entertainment. For instance, in recent years, the Central Board of Film Certification has received submissions in about 5% of the languages. But three languages accounted for 45% of the films produced and more than 90% of the dubbed films.
Defence Minister Johnston and Australia’s role in Pakistan September 27, 2013Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, Gordon, Sandy, India, Pakistan , 1 comment so far
As we wind down in Afghanistan after a twelve-year war, new Defence Minister David Johnston reportedly says we need to keep our counter-insurgency skills honed, including for possible use in Pakistan (SMH, 21 September 2013).
Mr Johnston and his advisers need to think such statements through. Does he mean a limited role in advising Pakistan on counter-insurgency or does he envision a more robust involvement in maintaining stability? Either way, there is no useful role for Australia, either singly or in concert with its friends and allies.
Pakistan is both a supporter of the insurgency in Afghanistan and involved in counter-insurgency against groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) within Pakistan.
In the former role, the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the ISI, support Afghan anti-government groups like the Haqqani network and harbour the Taliban leadership in Quetta. US intelligence believes the Haqqani network, with support from the ISI, was involved in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008, in which 58 died. The network also allegedly killed the Karzai government’s chief peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani.
India will never become a superpower September 20, 2013Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, India , Comment
The end of the Cold War and the era of “unipolar” US dominance that followed has led many to wonder about the future of international power. Who will rival, or perhaps even replace, the US?
At least one obvious candidate has emerged. Although it would be premature to categorise China as a global superpower, it is quickly developing into the US’s most plausible challenger. But in discussions of globally important matters – Syria, financial crisis, the NSA fallout and so on – one name is curiously absent: India.
When the dust settles on a rearranged global system, might India also become a global superpower? My answer is no.
Back to the drawing board as ‘shining’ India stumbles September 18, 2013Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, India , Comment
The news of “shining” India spiralling downward is everywhere. With estimated growth rates halved from the highs of 9% on average in the last decade, and the rupee tumbling, the luster of the “new” India seems to be a maya, an illusion.
Worse, the economic “miracle” no longer seems to work. The Indian “dream” has become distant for the stirring, aspiring middle class households, given the paucity of employment opportunities, made worse by the lack of relevant skills for the twenty-first century.
For many long-time India observers, including myself, there was no miracle, if by that we mean something unexplainable or the handiwork of the divine. India as a society and as a nation was on the go well before the vaunted economic reforms of 1991.
The politics of the India-Pakistan peace talks August 23, 2013Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , 2comments
Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides.
Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with India. This, he alleged, was crucial to Pakistan’s economic development. India’s Prime Minister has echoed this sentiment. From his perspective, better ties with Pakistan will enable India to concentrate on the “China threat” along its northern and north-eastern borders with that state. Also, the economic benefits to be accrued from a better relationship with Pakistan make it an attractive goal. Unfortunately for both Prime Ministers, though, forces in both countries are working, deliberately or otherwise, against such a resolution of their differences. Attempts at peace-making are no longer a diplomatic issue, but a highly politicised endeavour. (more…)