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Friday, October 18, 2013

India has 50% of world’s modern slaves

Largest Proportion Of Victims Made Up Of Indians Exploited By Indians: Study

Sixty-six years after independence, India has the dubious distinction of being home to half of the world’s modern day slaves. The first Global Slavery Index has estimated that 13.3 million to 14.7 million people — roughly equal to the population of Kolkata — live like slaves in the country. 
    The index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, ranked 162 countries based on three factors that include estimated prevalence of modern slavery, a measure of child marriage and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. Modern slavery includes slavery, practices such as debt bondage, forced marriage and sale or exploitation of children as well as human trafficking and forced labour. 
    According to the index, there are 29.6 million people 
in modern slavery globally. India leads the world, followed by China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. 
    These 10 countries account for 76% of the world’s modern slaves. India ranks fourth in terms of modern-day slaves as 
a percentage of the population, just after Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan. In Mauritania, 4% of people are regarded as slaves largely because they inherit the status from their ancestors. 
    The study says that in India there’s some exploitation of foreign nationals, but by far 
the largest proportion of slaves are Indians exploited by other Indians within the country, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labour. India is one of the few countries that has not ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. 
    The country with the second highest number of enslaved is China, with an estimated 2.8 to 3.1 million in modern slavery. This includes forced labour in many parts of the economy, including domestic servitude and forced begging, commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage, says the study. Pakistan is estimated to have 2 to 2.2 million in slavery. 
    Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom are tied with the lowest rankings in the index. These countries are not slavery-free, with the UK alone estimated to have 4,200-4,600 such people. Iceland has the lowest numbers — less than 
100. While Asia and Africa are home to the vast majority of modern slaves, no continent is free from modern slavery. 
    “It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent. This is the first slavery index but it can already shape national and global efforts to root out modern slavery across the world,” said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free Foundation. 
    The index was created in consultation with an international panel of experts and has been endorsed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, former Australian PM Julia Gillard, and philanthropists Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Mo Ibrahim. WFF was founded by Andrew Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, and his wife Nicola in May this year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Battle For Budtameez Dils

Rahul Gandhi’s groping in the dark when it comes to tapping India’s irrepressible youth

How you view Rahul Gandhi indicates how old you are. If you’re a venerable, mature sort (as most Indian political analysts are, the assumption being dyeing your hair gives brighter ideas), you might look at Rahul indulgently. You might murmur about his surprising choice of words – ‘nonsense’ which ‘deserves to be torn up’, dalits needing ‘Jupiter’s escape velocity’, et al. But it’s possible you’ll note his sentiments, the apology following his Press Club stop-press, the empathy behind the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe-style analogies. 
    However, if you’re 35 or under – 65% of India’s population today – it’s likely you won’t buy any of that. This is because Rahul’s strategists have addressed this constituency too little, too late, leaving Rahul groping in the dark while thundering 2014 will see a government of youth – how little his advisers understand this youth reflects in many missteps. 
    India’s youth today are unique. Every young generation energetically questions the status quo, but India’s youth does something more. This is a generation typified by the Bollywood song ‘Budtameez Dil’, cheeky heart, with its naughty stereotypes, sequined numbers in nightclubs, kisses in nooks throbbing to a DJ’s beat, the hedonism of youth, all hips and hormones, highs and lows. 
    But what’s special is that every bit of this zest has been earned by young people themselves. The 
evidence is in roof-shattering school results, girls’ struggles to learn, brave choices to forsake traditional occupations and step into unfamiliar worlds, an IIM Ahmedabad study finding 75.90% young Indians enthusiastically supporting entrepreneurship as a career compared to 66.97% Chinese. Alongside, young Indians are investing more in education while mushrooming malls salute their openness to spend on a good time. 
    Clearly, this is a generation shaking off constraints, its self-determination challenging social norms. More young people are marrying across identity lines and fewer are willing to stay bound, divorces reportedly dou
bling since 1990. This intense transition mirrors individualism amongst the young, choosing the right to reject in manifold ways, working hard and playing harder. 
    Yet, this isn’t a generation of clich├ęd yuppies. It has a dil with social concern. One reflection glimmered in the enthusiasm around Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement. Another showed in the grief after a gang rape evidenced a callous system that taxes but doesn’t serve. Beating with hope, this heart’s also hurt by corruption, inflation and politicians refusing to 
reform themselves. 
    This dil lends itself to budtameezi then, meaningful cheekiness, what Slavoj Zizek elsewhere calls ‘jouis-sense, enjoyment-insense’ or ‘enjoy-meant’. This is natural for Indians, apart from being argumentative, are an impertinent lot. But in older days, there were limited forums to cackle at officialdom falling apart. Newspapers had a markedly lecturing tone while Doordarshan smiled mainly during Krishi Darshan. All that’s changed. Today, social media is a vibrant network where news, views, jokes and jibes flow fast and fearlessly. TV shows, radio talk-ins, movies, magazines follow virtual budtameezi, like the ‘Pappu’ versus ‘Feku’ face-off, spotlighting the most engrossing jousts. 
    Such budtameezi isn’t sparing Rahul Gandhi jabs. Rather than personality, this reflects the Congress’s delay in understand
ing two concerns core to this group – freedom and jobs. The UPA’s record on creating the latter has been so dismal, Rahul couldn’t have seriously addressed the same, but he could’ve spoken for the former to his gain. 
    Opportunities abounded when two girls were arrested for comments online, a young cartoonist was jailed for drawings, an IAS officer suspended for doing her job, when water cannons and batons rained down on those protesting Nirbhaya’s death. Speaking then would’ve helped Rahul understand one ideal budtameez dils cherish. It would have also strengthened Rahul’s own liberal credentials, armour for his forthcoming clash. 
    Instead, opting for 1980s-style photo-ops – dinner in a dalit’s hut, a train across Mumbai, swinging a spade at an MGNREGA dig – Rahul overlooked this chance. Mentioning Kalawati, a widow in 
darkness after her farmer-husband committed suicide, his oratory swung the Indo-US nuclear deal debate. But the following neglect of Kalawati recalled Rahul’s earlier gesture, opening the Youth Congress to non-dynasts, tanking before you could quip, new card, old hand, leaving budtameezes laughing out loud. 
    This amuses opponents too. At 63, Narendra Modi is an unlikely youth icon but sidestepping the question of individual liberty, he’s capitalised on the second thing young people consider – jobs. Highlighting the UPA’s abysmal show, Modi describes his vision in words that may not bear close scrutiny but throb with passion and cheekiness. The last endears him to budtameez dils, themselves more candid than candied. 
    Not keeping up shows Congress’s lethargy. Ironic, as it was in Rajiv Gandhi’s time that this generation emerged. As the vote went to 18-year-olds, India became computerised and a communications revolution started in an STD booth, all the conditions fell into place to create a forthright cohort. Reforms added fizz to this test-tube, creating a young weaned on Bollywood and B R Ambedkar, Indi-pop and Steve Jobs, RTI and EMI, whose debates and debit cards warm India’s autumnal bones. 
    Poised to vote soon, this generation’s impudence can pressure dynasts to walk their democratic talk and demagogues to listen up. This generation can shred nonsense that must be torn up. This generation can truly change the game with its budtameez dil, jo easily maane na.

Source/ Crdit: Srijana Mitra Das