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21/10/2014

Happy Diwali from IndusView!

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Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It's the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights) that's marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy.

Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.

 

11/10/2014

Congratulations Satyarthi!

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Kailash Satyarthi who? That was the question in India after the Norwegian Nobel Committee yesterday awarded the 2014 Peace Prize to the little-known child-rights activist from the South Asian country.

Hours after the announcement, followers on his Twitter Inc. account surged to more than 22,000 from 89 on Oct. 6 as the scramble to know more about him crashed his web page and that of his New Delhi-based Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save Childhood Movement. He will share the $1.1 million prize with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, 17, the global face of a campaign against terrorism, illiteracy and poverty.

The 60-year-old Satyarthi has helped rescue more than 80,000 children from bondage, trafficking and exploitative labor in the past three decades. After giving up a career as an electrical engineer in 1980, he also spearheaded a movement to make free and compulsory education a constitutional right for children in India in 2009.

“People working hard at the grassroot level are hardly known by name or face,” said Vinod Shetty, a lawyer who runs an education project for children in Mumbai’s Dharavi, Asia’s second-biggest slum. “It’s a thankless job, and the award is a pat on the back for him and his family.”

India, home to the world’s highest percentage of malnourished children after East Timor, officially had 4.35 million child workers in 2011, according to the latest data from Ministry of Labor. Satyarthi wrote in an article in the Mint newspaper in the same year that the number might be as high as 60 million.

Child Labor

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state accounted for 15 percent of the officially tracked child labor in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The majority of children employed in the country work in the tobacco industry, followed by construction work and spinning and weaving, the report said.

In 2011, crimes against children in India rose 24 percent from the previous year with a total of 33,098 cases reported in 2011 versus 26,694 in 2010.

“The prize is a recognition to hundreds of millions of children who are still languishing in slavery, who are still deprived of their childhood, health, education and their fundamental right to life,” Satyarthi said as scores of reporters and photographers jostled in the overcrowded lobby of his office in New Delhi yesterday. “I recall all those children who are still languishing at some mine, stone quarries, brick kilns and in homes. They remain invisible and unknown.”

Civil Society

Satyarthi’s organization rescues child workers and provides them with free education, according to the Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee said the prize should be seen as a “recognition of the contributions of India’s vibrant civil society in addressing complex social problems,” according to a statement.

“It’s a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement yesterday. “In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

Satyarthi said he had been moved at the start of his education as a boy to witness the son of a cobbler who wasn’t able to go to school because he had to work.

Passing Sweets

“I was unable to digest the fact that some people were born to work, while fortunate ones like me were able to go to school and pursue our dreams,” Satyarthi said yesterday, wearing a brown kurta, a flowing shirt worn over pajamas. “It is a myth poverty causes child labor and poverty, but it is a proven fact that child labor causes poverty, child labor perpetuates poverty and child labor perpetuates illiteracy.”

Satyarthi’s office in a middle-class neighborhood of the Indian capital was thronged yesterday with well wishers, supporters and journalists. Some of the 100-odd staff were busy passing around sweets while others tried to bring order as the place, which was packed to capacity.

“Satyarthi is a brilliant choice by the Nobel jury,” said Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., India’s biggest SUV and tractor maker, who founded a charity that educates underpriviledged girls in India. “His work underscores that India, and indeed the world, will squander its future if it doesn’t free children from the burden of labor and preserve their right to education.”

‘Gandhi’s Spirit’

Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the committee, said at the announcement that Satyarthi has, in Mahatma Gandhi’s spirit, mobilized public opinion, in India and in other countries.

“It’s not a compensation for the fact that Mahatma Gandhi never got the prize,” Jagland said. “I don’t know why he didn’t get the prize. But we should then appreciate that one who is taking up his tradition gets the prize.”

The Nobel Peace prize, along with literature, physics, medicine and chemistry honors, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Winners include the European Union, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa, who until today was the only other Indian to win the prize.

“This award will guarantee recognition and draw attention to the dangers of child labor and the need to use education as a form of intervention for vulnerable children,” Shetty said.

29/09/2014

Indian PM Modi Could Learn From US Economic Recovery While In US

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IndusView, Monday September 29 (London): While the United States Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) is expected to raise interest rates in Spring 2015, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to maintain them in order to battle un-simmering inflation.

The world’s largest economy registered an annualized growth of 4% in the second quarter 2014, beating expectations of 3.1% and confirming its recovery is back on track. The U.S. central bank has kept America’s short-term interest rates near zero since the end of 2008, as it battled to fuel growth after the financial crisis. A rise next year would represent the first rate increase in more than eight years; the last increase occurred in June 2006.

In India, industrial growth, which had revived in the April-June quarter and grew by 4.2%, slipped in July to a mere 0.5% for want of stimulus. The only sector that performed well was power generation with an increase by 11.2% year-on-year (y-o-y). Capital goods and durable consumer goods have underperformed, indicating weak demand. Inflation going by the wholesale price index dropped to 3.7% – its lowest in five years – but inflation at the retail level remained high at 7.8%.

“Prime Minister Modi could learn a lesson or two from the U.S. economic revival,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman of London-based consulting firm IndusView. “India still needs to boost growth while the U.S. economy seems back on track.”

The U.S. is the only ‘superpower’ in the world today, with almost nine times India’s GDP and with a per-capita 33 times more than India’s. The U.S. is also the best example of the power of entrepreneurship enhancing prosperity of its people.

Modi will attend the United Nations General Assembly session in New York and then fly to Washington DC for the meeting with Obama at the White House on September 30. In his invitation letter, President Obama reiterated his invitation — that first came in a phone conversation with Modi on May 16 — and resolved to work closely with Modi to make India-U.S. relations “a defining partnership for the 21st Century”.

Modi, who was denied visa by the U.S. in 2005 due to the Gujarat riots, said he was of the view that “re-energizing the partnership between India and the U.S. would send an important message to the region and beyond”. Modi was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat when violence against its minority Muslim population resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. 

“The U.S. and India have always been unfriendly friends. Now is the time to make themselves friendlier,” said Rangar. “From energy, to defense, to counter-terrorism, to trade, America and India have many overlapping national interests and need to strengthen their relationship to realize their efforts to collaborate.”

The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution designating Sept. 30 as U.S-India Partnership Day. The resolution emphasizes the mutual benefits of a thriving U.S-India partnership, stressing the importance of increasing collaboration in order to promote stability, democracy, and economic prosperity in the 21st century.