32 % Indians found happiness in torturing others

A majority of people around the world are opposed to torture even if its purpose is to elicit information that could save innocent lives from terrorism, according to a BBC World Service poll of more than 27,000 people in 25 different countries.

The poll shows 59 percent of the world’s citizens are unwilling to compromise on the protection of human rights, however 29 percent think governments should be allowed to use some degree of torture in order to combat terrorism.There is however somewhat less support for outlawing torture in several countries that have suffered political violence including India, where slightly more respondents (32%) favour relaxing the rules against torture than not (23%).

The largest percentage endorsing torture was found in Israel. Forty-three percent say some degree of torture should be allowed, though slightly more, (48%) think the practice should be prohibited. Most Americans (58%) are against any use of torture. But opposition to torture in the US is less robust than in Europe and the percentage of Americans favouring the practice in certain cases (36%) is one of the highest among the 25 countries polled.Italians are the most opposed to the use of torture with 81 percent against, followed by three-quarters of respondents in Australia and France, 74 percent in Canada, 72 percent in the UK, and 71 percent in Germany.

Only in India do more respondents favour allowing “some degree of torture:” Thirty-two percent say using physical coercion is sometimes permissible—a bit more than the 23 percent who say existing rules should be maintained. Nearly half of Indian respondents (45%) favour neither position or did not answer. The largest percentage endorsing torture is found in Israel where 43 percent say that some degree of torture should be allowed, though slightly more (48%) say the practice should be prohibited. Israeli responses vary significantly by religion. A majority of Jewish respondents (53%) favour allowing governments to use torture to obtain information while 39 percent want clear rules against it. In contrast, Muslims in Israel (who represented 16 percent of total responses in that country) are overwhelmingly (87%) against any use of torture. No other country polled has a majority of any major religious subgroup that favours allowing torture.

In addition to India and Israel, there were four other countries where those rejecting torture fell short of a majority: Russia (43% reject torture, 37% accept), Nigeria (49% reject, 39% accept), China (49% reject, 37% accept), and Mexico (50% reject, 24% accept).

In the United States, most Americans (58%) oppose any use of torture. But opposition to torture in the United States is less robust than in Europe and the percentage of Americans favouring the practice in certain cases (36%) is one of the highest among the 25 countries polled.

The survey of 27,407 respondents across 25 countries was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork from May through July 2006.

Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes, notes, “The dominant view around the world is that terrorism does not warrant bending the rules against torture.”

GlobeScan President, Doug Miller, adds, “The poll reveals a public opinion climate in which human rights violations by governments are likely to cause outrage, especially in Western Europe.”

Countries polled were Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and the US.

Respondents were asked the following question:

Most countries have agreed to rules that prohibit torturing prisoners. Which position is closer to yours?

Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.

Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.

The poll found strong support for the latter position in favour of upholding the rule against torture with a majority in 19 countries endorsing it, plus another 5 with a plurality. There is however somewhat less support for outlawing torture in several countries that have suffered terrorist attacks or political violence including India, where a slight plurality favours relaxing the rules against torture.

All of the countries surveyed are parties to the Geneva Conventions that contain Article 3 forbidding torture as well as other forms of abuse. All countries surveyed are also parties to the more recent Convention Against Torture that goes further in how explicitly it prohibits torture, except India, which has signed but not yet ratified it.

Italians (81%) are the most opposed to the use of torture in all circumstances and the British are among the highest with 72 percent opposed and 24 percent in favor. Other countries with high numbers favouring a total ban are in Australia and France (75% in both) as well as Canada (74%) and Germany (71%).

There is little variation in the worldwide averages by income or education. But support for a ban on torture increases slightly with age: 57 percent of those younger than 35 years old were against torture compared to 61 percent of those 35 and older. Men are five points more likely to accept some use of torture than are women. As for religion, Israel is the only country where statistically significant differences exist between major religious groups on this question.

In total 27,407 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States were interviewed between 26 May and 6 July 2006. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 7 of the 25 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.5 to 4 percent.

For more details, please see the Methodology section or visit http://www.globescan.com or www.pipa.org.

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Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006 : India remains at one of the lowest position, 105

War, the destroyer of press freedom in Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority

France and the United States slip further The Arab world affected by row over Mohammed cartoons

New countries have moved ahead of some Western democracies in the fifth annual Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, issued today, while the most repressive countries are still the same ones.

“Unfortunately nothing has changed in the countries that are the worst predators of press freedom,” the organisation said, “and journalists in North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Burma and China are still risking their life or imprisonment for trying to keep us informed. These situations are extremely serious and it is urgent that leaders of these countries accept criticism and stop routinely cracking down on the media so harshly.

“Each year new countries in less-developed parts of the world move up the Index to positions above some European countries or the United States. This is good news and shows once again that, even though very poor, countries can be very observant of freedom of expression. Meanwhile the steady erosion of press freedom in the United States, France and Japan is extremely alarming,” Reporters Without Borders said.

The three worst violators of free expression – North Korea, bottom of the Index at 168th place, Turkmenistan (167th) and Eritrea (166th) – have clamped down further. The torture death of Turkmenistan journalist Ogulsapar Muradova shows that the country’s leader, “President-for-Life” Separmurad Nyazov, is willing to use extreme violence against those who dare to criticise him. Reporters Without Borders is also extremely concerned about a number of Eritrean journalists who have been imprisoned in secret for more than five years. The all-powerful North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, also continues to totally control the media.

Northern European countries once again come top of the Index, with no recorded censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals in Finland, Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands, which all share first place.

Deterioration in the United States and Japan, with France also slipping

The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

France (35th) slipped five places during the past year, to make a loss of 24 places in five years. The increase in searches of media offices and journalists’ homes is very worrying for media organisations and trade unions. Autumn 2005 was an especially bad time for French journalists, several of whom were physically attacked or threatened during a trade union dispute involving privatisation of the Corsican firm SNCM and during violent demonstrations in French city suburbs in November.

Rising nationalism and the system of exclusive press clubs (kishas) threatened democratic gains in Japan, which fell 14 places to 51st. The newspaper Nihon Keizai was firebombed and several journalists physically attacked by far-right activists (uyoku).

Fallout from the row over the “Mohammed cartoons”

Denmark (19th) dropped from joint first place because of serious threats against the authors of the Mohammed cartoons published there in autumn 2005. For the first time in recent years in a country that is very observant of civil liberties, journalists had to have police protection due to threats against them because of their work.

Yemen (149th) slipped four places, mainly because of the arrest of several journalists and closure of newspapers that reprinted the cartoons. Journalists were harassed for the same reason in Algeria (126th), Jordan (109th), Indonesia (103rd) and India (105th).

But except for Yemen and Saudi Arabia (161st), all the Arab peninsula countries considerably improved their rank. Kuwait (73rd) kept its place at the top of the group, just ahead of the United Arab Emirates (77th) and Qatar (80th).

War, the destroyer of press freedom

Lebanon has fallen from 56th to 107th place in five years, as the country’s media continues to suffer from the region’s poisonous political atmosphere, with a series of bomb attacks in 2005 and Israeli military attacks this year. The Lebanese media – some of the freest and most experienced in the Arab world – desperately need peace and guarantees of security. The inability of the Palestinian Authority (134th) to maintain stability in its territories and the behaviour of Israel (135th) outside its borders seriously threaten freedom of expression in the Middle East.

Things are much the same in Sri Lanka, which ranked 51st in 2002, when there was peace, but has now sunk to 141st because fighting between government and rebel forces has resumed in earnest. Dozens of Tamil journalists have been physically attacked after being accused by one side or the other of being biased against them.

Press freedom in Nepal (159th) has shifted according to the state of the fighting that has disrupted the country for several years. The “democatic revolution” and the revolt against the monarchy in April this year led immediately to more basic freedoms and the country should gain a lot of ground in next year’s Index.

Welcome changes of regime

Changes of ruler are sometimes good for press freeedom, as in the case of Haiti, which has risen from 125th to 87th place in two years after the flight into exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in early 2004. Several murders of journalists remain unpunished but violence against the media has abated.

Togo (66th) has risen 29 places since the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema in February 2005, the accession to power of his son and internationally-backed efforts to make peace with the opposition.

A coup in Mauritania in August 2005 ended the heavy censorship of the local media and the country has risen to 77th position after being 138th in 2004, one of the biggest improvements in the Index.

Improvement in North Africa, except for Tunisia

Things got better in Algeria and Morocco, where the authorities treated the media better than in previous years. Reporters Without Borders was also allowed into Libya for the first time ever to meet regime officials.

The lessening of restrictions by the royal family and the opening up of broadcasting moved Morocco up 23 places to 97th position. But two independent weeklies, Tel Quel and Le Journal hebdo, were sentenced in 2006 to pay huge fines after being found guilty of libel.

Algeria (126th) was up three places and Libya up 10 (152nd). Algerian journalists got a break with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s partial amnesty in July 2006 but no structural reform was made to expand press freedom. The Libyan regime allowed more access to news, especially online and through Arab and other foreign satellite TV stations, but still cracked down just as hard on all criticism of the government.

In Tunisia (148th), seizures of newpapers, unjustified dismissals of journalists and suspending them without pay were common. The November 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis was a farce. Several foreign journalists covering it were closely and openly spied on by the secret police. Just before the Summit opened, a journalist of the French daily Libération was beaten up and stabbed, a Belgian RTBF TV crew roughed up and two journalists of France’s TV5 harassed.

Repression continues in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia (161st), Syria (153rd) and Iran (162nd) were again among the bottom group on the Index, as they have been for years since they have no independent media, only organs that spout government propaganda. The rulers of these countries keep a tight grip on the news and have set many red lines journalists must not cross. Self-censorship remains the best protection for journalists. Foreign journalists can only rarely get entry visas.

Newcomers to the top ranks

Two countries moved into the Index’s top 20 for the first time. Bolivia (16th) was best-placed among less-developed countries and during the year its journalists enjoyed the same level of freedom as colleagues in Canada or Austria. But the growing polarisation between state-run and privately-owned media and between supporters and opponents of President Evo Morales could complicate the situation.

Bosnia-Herzegovina (19th) continued its gradual rise up the Index since the end of the war in ex-Yugoslavia and is now placed above its European Union member-state neighbours Greece (32nd) and Italy (40th).

Ghana (34th) rose 32 places to become fourth in Africa behind the continent’s three traditional leaders – Benin (23rd), Namibia (26th) and Mauritius (32nd). Economic conditions are still difficult for the Ghanaian media but it is no longer threatened by the authorities.

Panama (39th) is enjoying political peace which has helped the growth of a free and vigorous media and the country moved up 27 places over the year.

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The ranking

Country Score

http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/cm2006.pdf

India flunks UNESCO test in child education

Toufiq Rashid, Indian Express,October 26, 2006
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 25: While the Sachar Committee report highlighted the worsening education indices for the Muslim community in India, a Unesco report released in Paris has more bad news for the education sector in the country.

The report gives India minus points (-1.7) in reducing the number of illiterates among adults above the age of 15 years in the country. According to the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring report, while India had 27,30,66,000 illiterates in 1990, the number marginally reduced to 26,84,26,000 in 2004. This number is the highest in the world. This despite increasing literacy rate from 49.3% in 1990 to 61% in 2004.

India figures along with three other countries — Ethiopia, Nigeria and Pakistan — which account for a significant proportion of the world’s out-of-school children. The report says the children comprise child labour; children who cannot afford school fees; hard-to-reach groups such as those living in small settlements or remote areas where no schooling is available; children of migrant families; children in coastal fishing communities; those with special needs; Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe children; urban deprived children; and children from minority groups (read mostly Muslims).

India also tops in terms of gender disparity in education — for every 100 out-of-school boys, there are 136 girls. The numbers are comparable to Arab states (134), South and West Asia (129), Benin (136). Only Yemen (184) and Iraq (176) are worse than India.

On the EFA development index, the report gives India a score of 0.7. While 90 per cent children get enrolled in primary schools, only 79 per cent study till Class V. Only 71 per cent of these children enroll for lower secondary and 40 per cent for upper secondary. For tertiary education, the percentage enrollment is just 12.

Referring to a survey commissioned by the Government of India in 2005 (Social and Rural Research Institute), the report says a nationwide survey showed that 13.5 million children were out of school. The percentage for the 6-13 age-group was nearly 7 and for the 6-10 age-group, 6.1.

The analysis focuses on results for the 6-13 age group, in line with the practice by the Centre and state governments in India. The highlights are:

• The 7% rate of out-of-school children reflects 6.2% for boys and 7.9% for girls

• The 7.8% rate in rural areas is significantly higher than 4.3% in urban areas

• In urban areas the rates for boys and girls are similar while in rural areas they are 6.8% and 9.1%, respectively

• The variations across social groups were much larger than those across gender and place of residence — 10.0% for Muslims, 9.5% for Scheduled Tribes, 8.2% for Scheduled Castes, 6.9% for Other Backward Castes and 3.7% for the remaining social groups

• Among the states, the rates are highest in Bihar (17%), Jharkhand (10.9%), Assam (8.9%), West Bengal (8.7%), Madhya Pradesh (8.6%), Uttar Pradesh (8.2%) and Rajasthan (6.9%)

• By contrast, in the south, some states appear to have virtually achieved universal schooling for the age-group — Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu record out-of-school rates between 0.5% and 2.1%

• Surprisingly, the number of SC and Muslim boys who are out of school are higher than those for girls. This is not the case for Other Backward Castes or STs

The only positive remark is about the India’s Open Basic Education (OBE) programme of the 1990s, which has targeted neo-literates who have successfully completed literacy and post-literacy programmes.

2.3 million people of Indian ancestry : US Census Data

Indian community burgeoning in America

EDISON, N.J. — The train station billboards tell it all.

Local travel agents promise the best airfares from New York to Mumbai. Shagun Fashions is selling dazzling Indian saris. And DirecTV offers “the six top Indian channels direct to you.”

Roughly every third person who lives Edison, a New York suburb, is of Asian Indian ancestry. Many are new immigrants who have come to work as physicians, engineers and high-tech experts and are drawn to “Little India” by convenience _ it’s near the commuter train _ and familiarity.

Here they can “get their groceries and goods from home,” says Aruna Rao, a mental health counselor who lives in town.

Although a steady stream of Indians have settled in the U.S. since the 1960s, immigrants positively poured into the country between 2000 and 2005 _ arriving at a higher rate than any other group.

Not only is the Indian community burgeoning, it’s maturing. Increasingly, after decades of quietly establishing themselves, Indians are becoming more vocal in the American conversation  about politics, ethnicity and many other topics.

“I’ve been studying the community for 20 years and in the last four or five years something different has been happening,” said Madhulika Khandelwal, president of the Asian American Center at Queens College in New York. “Indian-Americans are finally out there speaking for themselves.”

Roughly 2.3 million people of Indian ancestry, including immigrants and the American-born, now call the U.S. home, according to 2005 Census data. That’s up from 1.7 million in 2000.

They have big communities in New Jersey, New York, California and Texas, and their average yearly household income is more than $60,000 _ 35 percent higher than the nation overall. Indian Americans, along with Indian expatriates worldwide, sent about $ 3 billion back to India in 2005, World Bank data show.

And so when Virginia Sen. George Allen was caught on video in August calling an Indian American man “macaca” _ a type of monkey and an offensive term _ the community quickly responded.

Within days after the reports emerged, Sanjay Puri, founder of the U.S. Indian Political Action Committee, and other Indian leaders in the Washington, D.C., area requested and got a lengthy meeting with Allen, Puri said. The senator publicly apologized.

If this had happened 10 years ago?

“It would have been a lot harder,” Puri said. “But this is a prosperous and fast-growing community. People are beginning to understand that we are contributing politically, so that made a big difference.”

Many Indian immigrants arrived in the U.S. focused almost entirely on individual success _ getting a top-notch job, making good money and pushing their children to do the same.

But things are changing. After the Sept. 11 attacks, many Indian Sikhs, who wear turbans as part of their faith, were mistaken for Muslims _ and terrorists. Hundreds were harassed or worse: In Mesa, Ariz., a Sikh gas station owner was shot and killed on Sept. 15, 2001, by a man who told police “all Arabs had to be shot.”

Few knew their rights because few had been engaged politically, said Amardeep Singh, executive director of The Sikh Coalition in New York.

“We were caught with our pants down,” he said. “Sept. 11 created a confrontation. We realized we now need to actively involve ourselves in the policy-making process. Otherwise policies will be made that exclude us.”

The group now has two bills pending in the New York city council _ one would allow city employees to wear turbans and the other would make city officials craft plans to prevent hate crimes if another terrorist attack happened. The community recently saw three Sikhs elected to low-level offices around the city. “It’s a good first step,” Singh said.

The push extends beyond Sikhs, Puri said.

“The question that every Indian-American is asking lately: Is the American dream _ making a lot of money and having fancy cars _ enough?” he said. “Giving back and being active is also happening.”

In New Jersey, Ready to Run, a Rutgers University-based project that helps women seek public office, will next year for the first time court Asian women, said Reema Desai, an immigration lawyer who is helping organize the outreach.

Indians also are working outside politics to influence broader society. They are overrepresented among college professors, engineers and technology workers. Between 10 percent and 12 percent of all medical school students are Indians, according to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the biggest physicians’ group in the nation after the American Medical Association.

Half of all motel rooms in the nation are owned by Indians, according to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.

In New York City, Basement Banghra, a popular Indian music event that blends hip-hop rhythms with Indian melodies, attracts hundreds of partygoers to Sounds of Brazil nightclub each month. It will mark its 10th anniversary next year.

There are novelists, including Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri of Brooklyn; filmmakers like Mira Nair, whose “The Namesake,” based on Lahiri’s novel and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is due in theaters next spring; and prime-time television stars such as Parminder Nagra on “E.R.” and Naveen Andrews on “Lost.”

“Many of these things are converging around the same time, so it all adds up,” Khandelwal said. “It seems like every other day there’s a big book or movie or high-profile accomplishment.”

Increasingly, American-born Indians _ who call themselves Desis _ have the confidence to make their voices heard. “There is a clear rise of this generation,” she said.

With rapid growth, the community is becoming more complex.

Layered atop the dizzying diversity of India itself _ there are dozens of languages, and distinct regional differences in culture, politics and cuisine _ are growing class differences among Indian-Americans.

About one-tenth live in poverty, and as many as 400,000 are undocumented, said Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow in Takoma Park, Md.

“This is a community of contrasts,” Iyer said. “We hear so much about this highly educated and affluent group, but we also have segments that are not fluent in English and are battling immigration problems and hate crimes.”

Such topics are often discussed in New Jersey, home to 170,000 Asian Indians as of Census 2000. Many have fresh memories of gangs of anti-Indian white youth in the late 1980s in Jersey City _ then the nexus of the state’s Indian community _ who called themselves Dotbusters, referring to the decorative bindi some Hindi women wear between their eyebrows. In 1987, a finance manager was beaten to death with a baseball bat while his attackers shouted “Hindu! Hindu!”

Such crimes have diminished, but they never disappeared, said Singh of The Sikh Coalition. Last year, he said, two Sikh youth suffered violent harassment in New Jersey public schools.

In Edison in recent years, there’s been low-grade tension between Indians and police, residents said, and it erupted during this year’s July 4 celebrations. Police were called to a heavily Indian apartment complex to disperse a crowd of nearly 800, and one Indian man said he was beaten by police, said Jerry Barca, spokesman for Edison’s mayor.

When the community held a protest the next month, the man was arrested on the spot for being an illegal immigrant. He remains in federal custody.

“There’s definitely tension and suspicion,” said Rao, who has lived in Edison for seven years and said the problems have left some Indians disillusioned. “People feel like, ‘What am I doing in this country?’ A lot of it is, ‘I told you so. We’ll never be accepted or assimilated.'” She added that there are no Indians on Edison’s school board or city council.

City officials called on state mediators to help build bridges in the community, and the advisory body includes two Indian-Americans, Barca said. “It’s going to take time, but it’s good because now people in Edison are talking _ as opposed to `you live over there and we live over here,'” he said.

Desai, the immigration lawyer, has lived in New Jersey since she was 3, and said she sees many signs of positive change compared to a generation ago.

“We’ve made an impact in all sorts of things, and now you even have people knowing about our holidays and our culture,” she said. “Things are different now. We’re more visible.”

27 October 2006,By ERIN TEXEIRA AP National Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

It’s official: India’s dazzling growth fails to dent poverty

Mahendra Kumar Singh, 19 Oct, 2006 TIMES NEWS NETWORK

NEW DELHI: Economic growth may have been spectacular since 1993 — that is, post-economic reforms — but it seems to be trickling down rather slowly.

A soon-to-be-released official report has estimated that poverty declined by a mere 0.74% during the 11-year period ended 2004-05. Although there are signs of things moving a little faster, at 0.79%, between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, going by another measure, the number of people below poverty line may have remained unchanged.

National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSO) findings show the number of people living below poverty line (BPL) at 22.15% in 2004-05, compared with 26.09% in 1999-2000. In the same period, the country’s GDP grew at around 6%.

This mismatch between growth and its distribution is politically worrying as it indicates a rise in economic disparities. Economists say uneven growth often leads to social unrest which, in turn, can cause problems for politicians.

Anyone consuming less than 2,100 calories in urban areas, and 2,400 calories in rural areas, is classifed in the BPL category.

The NSSO study also shows that poverty declined the sharpest in the poorer states.

Study: BPL population up in Delhi, Maha and Haryana

NEW DELHI: A National Sample Survey Organisation’s study suggests that while economic growth is trickling down very slowly, poverty has declined the sharpest in the poorer states.

Leading them were Assam and the north-eastern states, where people below the poverty line decreased by nearly 4% annually, followed by Jharkhand (2.51% a year during the five-year period), Chhattisgarh (2.15% a year) and Bihar (1.69%). Apart from the slow reduction of poverty, government also seems worried about a lower decrease in poverty ratios in urban areas, compared to rural areas. BPL population in rural areas decreased 4.68% between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, which was over twice the pace of the decrease in urban centres, estimated at 2.12%.

The trend of slower poverty reduction in urban areas, say economists, could be due to migration of the poor from rural areas. But they wonder whether if that is indeed the case, then the rate of actual decline of poverty in rural areas could be over estimated.

The NSSO findings also reveal an increase in BPL population in Haryana, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Goa. This is possibly because migrant labour is moving out of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand to these states in search of jobs.

There are also fears that dipping state growth rates, as witnessed in the case of Maharashtra, have added to the increase in the BPL population. Among the poorer states, Orissa has the highest proportion of poor — nearly 40% of its population is below the poverty line. The population of poor in Orissa’s villages decreased 8.36% during the five-year period while the urban BPL population fell 1.2%.

Next in line is Jharkhand, which had a marginally higher BPL population of 47.40% compared to Orissa’s 47.15% in 1999-2000. At the end of June 2005, Jharkhand’s poor constituted 34.83% of the state’s population. Bihar remained in the third spot with 32.57% population under BPL.

The estimates were prepared using monthly consumption expenditure of individuals during 365 days on clothing, footwear, education, durables in addition to their medical expenses. This method is called the Mixed Reference Period Method (MRPM). Going by the other measure used by NSSO — Uniform Reference Period which measures poverty based on every consumption for the last 30 days of the survey — BPL population accounted for 27.81% in 2004-05, compared with 35.97% in 1993-94. Economists, however, believe that the methodology is suspect as consumption during 30 days is not the right measure and the government, too, prefers MRPM.

India ranks 3rd from bottom of the world on malnourished kids

Sonu Jain, Indian Express,October 14, 2006

NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 13: Yet another report confirms India’s losing battle against hunger. In the Global Hunger Index, India ranks 117th for the prevalence of underweight children. Only Bangladesh and Nepal are worse-off.

Overall, India is ranked 96th out of 119 countries covered by the index, which doesn’t paint a rosy picture per se. But India comes off far worse in its record for malnutrition in children, as measured by body weight.

The proportion of children found underweight in India, according to the latest figures is 47.5 per cent, which makes it worse than conflict-plagued, drought-stricken Sub-Saharan Africa, where the figure is some 30 per cent on average. India’s figure is also worse than that of individual Sub-Saharan countries.

These findings are from a report released globally today by the Washington-based International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI).

The Global Hunger Index combines three indicators: child malnutrition, child mortality, and estimates of the proportion of people who are calorie-deficient.

The index has been calculated for 1981, 1992, 1997, and 2003. The latest round ranks 119 countries, of which 97 are deemed “developing” and 22 “in transition.”

Speaking to The Indian Express on phone from Washington, the report’s lead author Doris Wiesmann said the two major factors for India’s low ranking were that per capita food availability did not increase from 1997 onward, and that child malnutrition rates remained at very high levels, with more than 46 per cent of children under five years being underweight.

India is a different story from Sub-Saharan Africa. A higher proportion of the population (33 per cent) is calorie-deficient there than in India (21 per cent) or South Asia as a whole (22 per cent). The sub-text to India’s dismal showing is malnutrition in children under five.

“Mothers, who are usually children’s primary caretakers, and their education, nutritional knowledge, well-being and status in families and communities are particularly important in this respect,” said Wiesmann.

The results are a direct fallout of the low status of women in Indian society, several earlier studies have pointed out.

“In India, women eat the last and the least, increasing the chances of anaemia,” she explained. This practice partly explain why 83 percent of women in India suffer from iron deficiency anaemia, as opposed to about 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.

Not surprisingly, one-third of the babies born in India are born with low birth weight, compared to one-sixth in sub-Saharan Africa.

“It has been observed that the women who have a say in the family, allocate more resources to their children’s nutritional needs. Men have other priorities,” she said.

There have been other studies that have explained India’s presence as a hotspot despite its growing GDP.

Lisa Smith, a IFPRI research fellow, and Usha Ramakrishnan, Associate Professor at Emory University, identified three factors contributing to the nutritional status gap between South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in a recent study.

The first, making by far the greatest contribution among the three, is women’s status, followed by sanitation and urbanization

The implication for policy is clear: in the interests of improving child nutrition, women’s status should be raised.

The study also concluded that in regions where women’s status is low, programmes to improve child nutritional status would have more lasting impact when combined with efforts to improve women’s status.

India has a large programme that aims to provide supplementary nutrition for children called the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Studies have shown that preventing child malnutrition in the most critical phase of child development between six months and two years is more effective than targeting children under the age of five once they have become malnourished.

By the time a child has developed signs of malnutrition, the damage may already be irreversible

Indian companies are most corrupt on Transparency Bribe Payers Index

October 04, 2006 ; NEW DELHI:

In a global recognition to the “Much Merited Upper Class Rule”, India has been ranked as the worst performer by Transparency International on its global Bribe Payers Index, which is based on the propensity of companies from the world’s 30 leading exporting countries in bribing abroad.  India has been ranked at the 30th position in the Transparency International 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI), with a score of 4.62.  A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption, while zero means corruption is seen as rampant.  India’s major weapon supplier,  Israel  also ranked as one of the most bribing nation, with a score of 6.01. Israel accounted for 0.4% of global trade in 2005.

Upper castes — that is, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas — constitute less than 20 per cent of the Indian population but controles the business and civil service sector of the country. They claim perhaps 80 per cent of the jobs in the new economy, in sectors such as software, biotechnology, and hotel management. The large corporates and MNCs in India prefer candidates come from the upper caste families, so that they can get their jobs done using their contacts and networks. The scores of corruption among these groups explain why they want to shut every door for the Dalits and backward communities in the name of ‘Merit’.

The BPI Index results draw from the responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2006. In first place Switzerland scored 7.81 points out of a possible 10 in the BPI.  Israel tied with Hong Kong with 6.01 points (Hong Kong accounted for 2.8% of global trade in 2005). The US, which accounts for the 8.9% of global trade, the highest proportion, received a score of 7.22 points. China, with 5.5% of global trade, and India, with 0.9%, closed the list.

Under BJP’s rule, India became Israeli arms industry’s prized market and there were also reports in 2003, of the Israeli defense establishment dispatching “scores of agents” to persuade the Indian armed forces in to buying weapons resulting in large scale bribes among civil servants and politicians. The ideological bond between Zionism and Hindutva made India as the second largest trade partner for Israel in Asia, after China. It is currently working hard with their old “Hindutva bureacrats” to make India as  their “biggest trade partner”. Since the advent of Hindutva’s grip on the Indian elite castes, every visit by a delegation of Israeli officials either preceded or followed the cementing of ties involving the purchase of weapons, or the training and/or expansion of cooperation between Israeli armaments interests and their Indian counterparts.

In 2005, Israel has achieved a four-fold increase in the bilateral trade with India which stood at $2.4 billion. Business Week reported in 2005 that India became Israel’s largest importer of weapons the previous year, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by that country. Not coincidentally, that year also proved to be the second best recorded year for the Israeli weapons industry, making Israel the 5th largest weapons exporter in the world and accounting for about 10 percent of the world’s weapons trade. Obviously the Israeli armaments industry values India as a major new market for its weapons, and as such has much to gain from maintaining and deepening the appetite for arms by the Indian state.

The international corruption watchdog on Wednesday said overseas bribery is still common among the world’s export giants despite the existence of international anti-bribery laws, while companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia are the worst performers. Switzerland has been ranked at the top slot with a score of 7.81, followed by Sweden, Australia, Austria and Canada at the top five positions on the index. The US and UK have been ranked at 10th and sixth positions respectively.

Transparency International said that Switzerland has managed a leading score of only 7.8, which is far from perfect. This indicates there might be variations here but there are no real winners, it added.

According to the report, businesses from India, China and Russia, who are at the bottom of the index, have the most propensity to pay bribes.

This year’s BPI data shows that leading exporters are undermining the development with their dirty business practices overseas, while the foreign bribery by emerging export powers is disconcertingly high.

Companies from the wealthiest countries have been ranked in the top half, but they still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies, it added.

“In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad,” the report said.

“Bribing companies are actively undermining the best efforts of governments in developing nations to improve governance, and thereby driving the vicious cycle of poverty,” said Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle.

“It is hypocritical that Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based companies continue to bribe across the globe, while their governments pay lip-service to enforcing the law,” Transparency International CEO David Nussbaum said.

“The enforcement record on international anti-bribery laws makes for short and disheartening reading,” he added.

“Domestic legislation has been introduced in many countries following the adoption of the UN and OECD anti-corruption conventions, but there are still major problems of implementation and enforcement,” he added.

The index has been prepared on the basis of responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2006.

The watchdog said that India consistently scores worst across most regions and sub-groupings, while China is the world’s fourth largest exporter and ranks second to last in the Index.

Transparency International Chairwoman said, “With growing influence comes a greater responsibility that should constitute an opportunity for good.”

“This is the right time for Russia, China and India to commit to the provisions of the OECD Convention against bribery and contribute to the vitality of tomorrow’s markets. In doing so they will become part of the effort to make corruption history.”

Transparency International says the countries can be divided into four groups. In the first group – those whose companies are least likely to pay bribes – are Switzerland (which came top in the survey), Sweden, Australia, Austria, Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the US and Japan.

In the second group – somewhat more likely to bribe – are Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, France, Portugal and Mexico.

The third group – even more likely to bribe – are Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia.

Finally – and most likely of all to pay bribes – are Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, China and India (which came bottom in the survey).

Before countries near the top of the list start patting themselves on the back, it’s worth noting that their companies often apply different standards, according to where they are doing business. “Companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the index, but still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies,” Transpency International says. It continues:

Even high scorers are in major need of improvement. The behaviour of the Australian Wheat Board in the UN oil-for-food programme is just one example.

In March of this year, German-US motor company DaimlerChrysler admitted that an internal probe confirmed allegations of “improper payments” made by their staff in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Turkey, in 27th place, is nearly at the bottom of the BPI. This is a crucial result as the country pursues its bid for European Union membership. The poor score also raises troubling questions about the country’s commitment to the OECD (Organisation of for Economic Cooperation and Development) Anti-Bribery Convention, which entered into force there in 2003 …

The United States, which blazed new trails with its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, ought to be leading the way, but ranks behind many OECD countries.

The United Kingdom has demonstrated minimal enforcement of the Convention, despite scandals implicating firms such as British Aerospace.

Companies often try to shrug off bribes as a way of fitting in with local customs and practices, and there is a popular notion that the recipient, not the giver, is the guilty party. Apart from the fact that such payments are often illegal, they undermine any efforts to promote good governance in developing countries. Bribes also have a corrupting effect on the firms that pay them. Often, the payments are made by local subsidiaries – allowing parent companies to pretend that their hands are clean.

Transparency International warns:

Multinationals cannot be absolved of the corrupt activities of their foreign branches, subsidiaries or agents, and they must conduct due diligence before engaging with joint venture or alliance partners. The purchasing, export, and marketing and sales departments remain the business functions most vulnerable to bribery and corruption.

It adds:

The cost of a tarnished image “back home” can be immense. And companies with a culture of bribery overseas face a heightened risk of being undermined by the unethical acts of their own employees. In the long run, it pays for companies to take proper measures to end corrupt practices.

About 150 years ago, there were no Black Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the US, there were no rights for Blacks and there was no cultural influence from Blacks. But now, 75 Black CEOs are working in major US companies. On the contrary, there are no Dalits as CEOs in any private company in India today.

In 1930, the IBM Company in America gave reservation to Blacks, and at present almost all business houses there are accommodating Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics. Since the intention of our Govt. is not to empower Dalits otherwise on similar lines how US had done for Blacks and others, Dalits can be given participation in govt. contracts and the supply-chain of different articles. After millennia of oppression, it was the British in 1932 which gave reservation through the historic Poona Pact. English and public school education in India is undoubtedly out of reach for Dalits, and this is resulting in lack of English knowledge which is blocking Dalits to take up high profile jobs.

In India, the perception is that if you are a Backward then you do not deserve anything. And the worst is that the Backward is being touted as the hurdle to the ushering in the era of competitiveness. The reservation policy is only to deceive the rest that we have been properly taking care of the Backwards. But India is absolutely clueless about what results have been achieved through the huge money allocated and the policies being pursued for the development of SC/ST/BCs over the last 50 years. According to NSSO, Census of India and NFHS-II, 37 percent of Dalits living below poverty in India while 45 percent them don’t know how to Read and Write. When any insurgent or terrorist strikes, the ready answer is: “foreign hands bent upon to destabilizing our social fabric and economy”. If the reservation is introduced, our industrial giants would put the blame on reservations.

The Govt. of India protected our industry from foreign direct competition. Are they not reservations? If they talk of survival on the basis of “merit” then let the Indian market be open to foreign companies.
Who is to blame for the dismal performance of PSUs or their closure? Why do we forget that “meritorious” professionals are heading most of the PSUs since their inception? Why only PSUs enjoying a monopoly in the Indian economy are doing well? In whose interests a few PSUs (even the profit-making ones) are forced to either close down or are sold to private parties at a paltry sum?

When a person born Untouchable as per the Hindu caste system is condemned to carry the cross then why is this bogey of “merit” raised constantly by the educated elite? Let us not forget that a caste-ridden society like ours hardly provides a level playing field for a large section of Indian society. A person’s station in life is largely determined by birth. In such a system, there is little space for “merit” and efficiency. The recruitment practices in the private needs scrutiny. The upper castes have been enjoying unstated birth-based reservation since centuries. And extending the benefits of reservation to Backwards at any cost can only neutralize this. When can we see 17.5% IAS officers from Dalits, 27.5% from backward communities and 7.5% from tribal?

Someone who is familiar with the Indian social fabric know the age old doctrine of exclusion legitimised and sanctified by the Brahminical ideology. This upper caste elite controles the Business and Civil Service structure in India, by culminating “Bribing” as a ‘routine matter’ in India’s daily life. Transparency International’s BPI Index proves how this dangerous ideology of “self purity and pollution” has extended its wings to the “Globalization of Corruption.”

Website: Transparency International India