India’s missing women

This article is not a detailed post but links to various articles relating to India’s missing women and Gender Inequality,  these are collection of articles in that direction.

What is a social dilemma? How is it related to social capital?

A social dilemma occurs when an individual faces the choice of incurring a personal cost for a greater benefit for others. When social capital( trust, cooperation, understanding and sharing among members of society) is high, individuals are more prepared to incur such individual costs for the greater good; and when most people in society behave in that manner, society as a whole benefits in higher economic productivity, stronger social insurance, greater social resilience to natural hazards, and greater mutual care (such as Good Samaritans coming to the
emergency aid of others).

Many social dilemmas occur in countless faceto-face encounters in daily life and business dealings. When two individuals engage in abusiness encounter, there are the possibilities that they may engage in deceitful behavior such as theft, fraud, or even violence. Some of these threats can be controlled by legal contracts, butwriting and enforcing contracts can be costly or even impossible in some circumstances. Thus, trust is critical: the confidence that the counterparty will behave honestly or morally and transparently.
Without social trust, a wide range of mutually beneficial economic and social arrangements may be impossible to negotiate, much less to sustain.Other social dilemmas occur at the societalscale. When social capital is high, individual citizens are more prepared to pay their taxes honestly, more prepared to support investment in public goods, and more likely to support social insurance policies. The Scandinavian countries, with perhaps the highest social capital in the world, also have the most extensive social welfare systems (broadly classified as social democracy). High social capital is conducive to electoral support for a strong social safety net and extensive social services.

Social capital is best built by exemplary laws, ececution,systems and behaviour of leaders in all walks of life.

Child labour In India Kailash Satyarthi

Banning child labour is a prerequisite for eradication of poverty I appreciate the efforts of the labour ministry regarding the passage of pending legislation to ban child labour for children under the age of 14. While a Parliamentary Standing Committee consisting of cross-party law makers had already cleared the bill, to my utter surprise the bill has been referred back to the labour ministry, citing the hushed reason that child labour cannot be completely banned due to poverty.

Even today, ordinary citizens, academia and many politicians are victims of a misbelief that child labour is a necessary evil in a country like India. Having worked in this area for the last 35 years, i can emphatically say that nothing could be further from the truth. I take it as my responsibility to debunk a few myths surrounding poverty and child labour.

There exists a vicious circle between poverty, illiteracy and child labour. Child labour and poverty have a chicken-and-egg relationship. A child born in a poor family begins life in a disadvantaged position, most often missing school. Children excluded from education grow up to be illiterate and economically vulnerable. These children are at high risk of exploitation and are more likely to be pulled into child labour at the cost of their health, education and well-being.

Another key fact that people ignore is that parents of most child labourers are essentially jobless or underemployed. There are almost 168 million child labourers worldwide and 200 million unemployed adults, with parallels existing in most developing countries.

Most of the jobs done by child labourers are essentially regular jobs that have been forced on kids. There are jobs, there are unemployed adults, but still millions of children are pushed into labour. Why? Simply because, children are the cheapest form of labour available. They are not aware of their rights, are easily misled and are too young to speak against their conditions, but our laws permit employers to exploit these hapless souls.

The truth remains that a working child will not extricate his or her family out of poverty, in fact it will keep the family stuck in the rut for generations.

This slippery slope continues unabated till one such child is imparted education. It is a well-researched, but often ignored fact that child labour perpetuates poverty. A report by International Labour Organisation verifies that every $1 spent on the eradication of child labour would return $7 over the next two decades.

Also, another report says that a single year of primary school education increases the wages people earn later in life by 5 to 15% for boys and even more for girls. Child labour is hence the biggest obstacle to development and must be tackled in tandem with poverty alleviation schemes.

India’s ranking among the fastest growing nations in the world will stand shaken if its children are continually marginalised. A recently completed study from 50 countries established that every extra year of schooling provided to the whole population can increase average annual GDP growth by 0.37%. Where the education is of good quality, the improvement of cognitive skills increases the impact to 1%.

Let me also debunk a myth regarding child labour law. We are demanding a complete ban on child labour up to the age of 14. It nowhere means that children cannot help their families in their free time.

They definitely can, but not at the cost of their education, health and leisure time. Also, a child cannot be involved in a commercial activity even at home. The proposed child labour law provides for this. This point is important because several law-breaking employers fake familial connections with the child labourer to escape punishment.

The existing Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act passed in 1986, bans child labour only in so-called hazardous occupations for children under the age of 14. In other words, this law bans only 20% of all child labour in India and is silent on the rest 80%.

Our Constitution and the Right to Education law guarantees free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14, as their right. As far as children between 15 to 18 are concerned, the Juvenile Justice Act safeguards this age group from all kinds of abuse and exploitation. However, the current child labour law is mute about treatment of these young adults.

The new amendment must harmonise with the Right to Education law and the Juvenile Justice Act, thus paving the way for protection of our children and their future.

We are also demanding a complete ban on the worst forms of child labour such as hazardous work, bonded labour, child prostitution, illicit militia and forced beggary for children in the age of 15 to 18 years. This age group is the most vulnerable to abusive situations and violence. The government must take effective measures to give all children an education that enhances their employability, entrepreneurship and ethics.

We as a country must invest in imparting skill-based education to our youth. This will go a long way in ensuring that the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to harness the demographic dividend of India is fully realised.

The writer is a child rights activist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. via TOI blog. 

Child labour in India

Child labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on part or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood, and is harmful to their physical and mental development. Poverty, lack of good schools and growth of informal economy are considered as the important causes of child labour in India.

A 2009-2010 nationwide survey found child labour prevalence had reduced to 4.98 million children (or less than 2% of children in 5-14 age group). The 2011 national census of India found the total number of child labour, aged 5–14, to be at 4.35 million and the total child population to be 259.64 million in that age group. The child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work, many full-time.

Indian law specifically defines 64 industries as hazardous and it is a criminal offence to employ children in such hazardous industries. Constitution of India prohibits child labour in hazardous industries (but not in non-hazardous industries) as a Fundamental Right under Article 24. International Labour Organisation estimates that agriculture at 60 percent is the largest employer of child labour in the world Outside of agriculture, child labour is observed in almost all informal sectors of the Indian economy.

Companies including Gap, Primark, Monsanto, have been criticised for child labour in their products.

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and India figured among 74 countries where significant incidence of critical working conditions has been observed.

Article 24 of India’s constitution prohibits child labour. Additionally, various laws and the Indian Penal Code, such as the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of Children Act-2000, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labour in India.

Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, Talaash Association Child Rights and You, Global march against child labour, RIDE India, Childline etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.

Pratham is India’s largest non-governmental organisation with the mission ‘every child in school and learning well. Founded in 1995, Pratham has aimed to reduce child labour and offer schooling to children irrespective of their gender, religion and social background. It has grown by introducing low cost education models that are sustainable and reproducible.

Child labour has also been a subject of public interest litigations in Indian courts.

More than 300,000 children are estimated to be working in the carpet industry, the majority of them in bondage.

The great majority of the carpet weavers’ bonded brothers and sisters are working in the agricultural sector, tending cattle and goats, picking tea leaves on vast plantations, and working fields of sugar cane and basic crops all across the country. Apart from agriculture, which accounts for 64 percent of all labor in India, bonded child laborers form a significant part of the work force in a multitude of domestic and export industries. These include, but are not limited to, the production of silk and silk saris, beedi (hand-rolled cigarettes), silver jewelry, synthetic gemstones, leather products (including footwear and sporting goods), handwoven wool carpets, and precious gemstones and diamonds. Services where bonded child labor is prevalent include prostitution, small restaurants, truck stops and tea shop services, and domestic servitude.

India has a federal form of government, and child labour is a matter on which both the central government and country governments can legislate, and have. The major national legislative developments include the following:

The Factories Act of 1948: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory. The law also placed rules on who, when and how long can pre-adults aged 15–18 years be employed in any factory.
The Mines Act of 1952: The Act prohibits the employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: The Act prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law. The list was expanded in 2006, and again in 2008.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. This legislation also mandated that 25 percent of seats in every private school must be allocated for children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.

India formulated a National Policy on Child Labour in 1987. This Policy seeks to adopt a gradual & sequential approach with a focus on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. It envisioned strict enforcement of Indian laws on child labour combined with development programs to address the root causes of child labour such as poverty. In 1988, this led to the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) initiative. Despite these efforts, child labour remains a major challenge for India.
April 2015

In a controversial labour reform, the government plans to push through an amendment to the Child Labour Prohibition Act which will allow children below the age of 14 to work in select family enterprises if it doesn’t hamper their education.

A draft provision in the Child Labour Prohibition Act says the prohibition will not apply if children are helping the family in fields, forests and home-based work after school hours or during vacations, or while attending technical institutions. The new norm will also apply to the entertainment industry and sports except the circus, a proposal by the labour ministry says.

“While the provision will especially help poor families where children help in family subsistence, we have enough safeguards to ensure that these children are not forced by families to work in any industry.” As sdaid above, India has seen a sharp drop in the number of child labourers in the last decade, down to 4.3 million from 12.6 million, according to census data. Industries such as fireworks, matchboxes, footwear and carpet making are the biggest employer of children below the permitted age.

The original child labour law banned employment of children below 14 in only 18 hazardous industries, but the UPA government in 2012 proposed to extend the ban to all industries. It also introduced a new category of adolescents — 14 to 18 years — who were banned from hazardous industries, but allowed to work in other sectors.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, 2012, introduced in the Rajya Sabha, recommended a complete ban on child labour until they finish elementary education, guaranteed under the Right to Education Act.

EPW More Outrage, Less Action

The raging controversy over the banning of the documentary film India’s Daughter by British documentary film-maker Leslee Udwin, which focused on the 16 December 2012 gang rape in Delhi, has revived the discussion around rape in India. Yet the discussion around the government’s decision to ban the film in India, and around the world (a preposterous demand), overlooked the central issue that still waits to be addressed.

Instead of arguing about the merits of this one film, we should have been discussing why, despite changes in the law, the incidence of rape continues to grow and the conviction rate remains abysmally low — a mere 27% in 2013. Instead of being surprised and repelled by the despicable attitudes of the defence lawyers interviewed in the film, we should have asked, what is being done to change male attitudes? And we should have questioned why at every stage when sexually assaulted women turn to the criminal justice system, it continues to fall so short, from the response of the police to the way rape cases are conducted in the court.

Not only were these questions not asked but unfortunately, the unrepentant and misogynist statements of the convicted rapist Mukesh Singh in the film fuelled renewed demands for death penalty for rapists. These coincided with the 5 March 2015 tragic public lynching and death of an Assamese Muslim man accused of raping a Naga woman in Dimapur, Nagaland. Within hours of this there were calls for summary justice for rapists by some members of the ruling party and others. Once again, instead of addressing the complexities of dealing with violence against women, we reinforced the popular belief that the delivery of death (even better if public) is the best preventive medicine.

Obscured by all this noise is the ugly reality of how little is being done to set in place the infrastructure that could make a real difference to women victims of violence. So while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley grandly announced in Parliament on 28 February that an additional Rs 1,000 crore would be allocated to the Nirbhaya Fund, set up after the 16 December gang rape, he did not admit that previous allocations lie unused. In 2014, the Ministry of Women and Child Development headed by Maneka Gandhi announced that a one-stop rape crisis centre or Nirbhaya Centre would be set up in every district in India and in six metropolitan cities, a total of 660. These centres would be equipped with all the facilities that women seeking help after sexual assault need, such as a doctor, a trained nurse, a counsellor, a police official to take down the statement, a visiting lawyer and forensic support. In less than a year, that grand plan lies in shambles. Away from the gaze of the never-vigilant media, and without any reasonable explanation, the number of crisis centres has been scaled down to just 36. An allocation of Rs 244.48 crore has been cut down to Rs 18 crore.

While one can argue that merely setting up such rape centres will not alter the depressing statistics on rape in this country, there is no question that such facilities are desperately needed. They encourage women to report rape, they ensure that vital evidence is collected under medical supervision, they provide the woman with the medical aid and counselling she seeks — both legal and psychological — and they help prepare her to pursue the case. In many countries, such facilities are part of public hospitals, and even some private ones.

It should also be obvious that these centres need to be accessible. There is no point in providing facilities that are so far apart that women cannot reach them. Just one rape crisis centre, somewhere in a state, is like scattering eye drops from a mountain top in the hope that they will reach an infected eye somewhere along the way. Also, whether the centres are in separate buildings or within existing hospitals is less important than that they are needed. The argument against separate buildings, as proposed earlier by the ministry, is that they cost more and also expose the women seeking help to the public gaze. Some advocates for women’s rights have suggested that creating rape crisis centres within existing medical facilities is not just cheaper but more practical and would facilitate a greater level of anonymity.

While the details about the shape and size of rape crisis centres and their location can be debated, how can the decision to scale them down so drastically be explained? Instead of getting agitated about the image of India through films like India’s Daughter, the government needs to address the very concrete problems that sexually assaulted women face in seeking justice. The law has been strengthened, there is greater awareness, but there are gaping holes in implementation and in support structures for assaulted women. If this government is really concerned about India’s image, let it speak through actions, not through empty promises or pointless outrage about how others view India’s grim reality. A rotten reality cannot be tarnished further.

Article is editorial of Economic and Political weekly

Facebook Introduced new gender options Here’s what they mean.

Facebook introduced new gender options , making the site more user-friendly to people who don’t identify strictly as male or female. They were also given the option of not answering or keeping their gender private.User’s can now select a “custom” gender option.allowing people to identify themselves as something other than male or female.

Read moreFacebook Introduced new gender options Here’s what they mean.

Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture Representation of Women in Indian Cinema and Beyond by Sharmila Tagore

Time and again, our films underline the supremacy of man. Modernity is reduced to a matter of packaging. A modern woman is defined by her westernized attire. She looks modern but when it comes to making informed choices, she chooses the conventional.

Shyam Benegal—one of the few Indian film-makers who has created strong, individualistic women in his films—has said,

‘Her virtue is in being the good mother, wife, sister—a set of essential roles a woman has to play—which is a terrible kind of oppression; a glorification not allowing the woman any choice.’