Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The "Greatest Threat to India's Internal Security" !!??

The Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh had recently - and even earlier - described the Naxalites/Maoists as the "the greatest internal security threat to our country”.

This 95-page document says something just the opposite. Some excerpts:
----

  • "India is today proudly proclaiming an above 9 per cent growth rate and striving to achieve double digit growth. But it is a matter of common observation that the inequalities between classes, between town and country, and between the upper castes and the underprivileged communities are increasing. That this has potential for tremendous unrest is recognized by all. But somehow policy prescriptions presume otherwise. As the responsibility of the State for providing equal social rights recedes in the sphere of policymaking, we have two worlds of education, two worlds of health, two worlds of transport and two worlds of housing, with a gaping divide in between. With globalisation of information, awareness of opportunities and possible life styles are spreading but the entitlements are receding. The Constitutional mandate (Article 39) to prevent concentration of wealth in a few hands is ignored in policy making. The directional shift in Government policies towards modernisation and mechanisation, export orientation, diversification to produce for the market, withdrawal of various subsidy regimes and exposure to global trade has been an important factor in hurting the poor in several ways....(p. 8)"

  • "Much of the unrest in society, especially that which has given rise to militant movements such as the Naxalite movement, is linked to lack of access to basic resources to sustain livelihood... (p. 18)"

  • "The development paradigm pursued since independence has aggravated the prevailing discontent among marginalised sections of society. This is because the development paradigm as conceived by the policy makers has always been imposed on these communities, and therefore it has remained insensitive to their needs and concerns, causing irreparable damage to these sections. The benefits of this paradigm of development have been disproportionately cornered by the dominant sections at the expense of the poor, who have borne most of the costs. Development which is insensitive to the needs of these communities has invariably caused displacement and reduced them to a sub-human existence. (p. 36)."

  • "There are also large areas of labour not governed by the Minimum Wages Act. This includes categories where there is no discernible employer, which is for this reason included in the category of self-employment. Since the Naxalites are in any case not bothered whether or not there is a law governing the right they are espousing, they have intervened and determined fair wage rates in their perception in all labour processes in their areas of influence. This includes wages for washing clothes, making pots, tending cattle, repairing implements, etc. Naxalites have secured increases in the rate of payment for the picking of tendu leaf which is used for rolling beedies, in the forest areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand. This was a very major source of exploitation of adivasi labour, and while the Government knowingly ignored it, the Naxalites put an effective end to it. (p.57)."

  • "However, the Naxalite movement has to be recognised as a political movement with a strong base among the landless and poor peasantry and adivasis. Its emergence and growth need to be contextualised in the social conditions and experience of people who form a part of it. The huge gap between state policy and performance is a feature of these conditions. Though its professed long term ideology is capturing state power by force, in its day to day manifestation it is to be looked upon as basically a fight for social justice, equality, protection and local development. The two have to be seen together without overplaying the former. Its geographical spread is rooted in failure to remove the conditions which give rise to it (p 66-67)."

  • "The public policy perspective on the naxalite movement is overwhelmingly preoccupied with the incidents of violence that take place in these areas and its ideological underpinnings. Though it does concede that the area suffers from deficient development and people have unaddressed grievances, it views the movement as the greatest internal security threat to the country. Accordingly, the attention of the Government is concentrated on curbing violence and maintaining public order to achieve normalcy. While area development is also being speeded up, the security-centric view of the movement accords primacy to security operations. The contextualization of this violence is missing from this perspective. The scale, intensity and approach of security operations cause considerable collateral damage leading to greater alienation of common people. The strategy of security forces to curb violence has also encouraged formation of tribal squads to fight naxalites, with a view to reducing the security force’s own task and risk. This has promoted a fratricidal war in which tribals face the brunt of mortality and injury.(p. 83)"

  • "The government’s Status Paper on the Naxal problem appropriately mentions a holistic approach and lays emphasis on accelerated socio-economic development of the backward areas. However, clause 4 (v) of the Status Paper states that “there will be no peace dialogue by the affected states with the Naxal groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms”. This is incomprehensible and is inconsistent with the government’s stand vis-à-vis other militant groups in the country.... The government has been conducting peace talks with the Naga rebels of the NSCN (IM) faction for the last nearly ten years, even though the rebels have not only not surrendered their weapons but continue to build up their arsenal. What is worse, the NSCN (IM) have taken advantage of the peaceful conditions to consolidate their hold and establish what could be called almost a parallel government. In relation to ULFA also, the government is prepared to have a dialogue without insisting on the insurgents surrendering their weapons. In J & K, the government has more than once conveyed its willingness to hold talks with any group which is prepared to come to the negotiating table. Why a different approach to the Naxals? The doors of negotiations should be kept open. (p 67-68)"
    ----

    ...and before one concludes that this must be some propaganda material, or writings of some "bleeding-heart liberal/intellectual", I must also share that these exerpts are from a Planning Commission Expert Groups Report, entitled "Development Challenges in Extremist Areas, which was submitted to GOI in 2008. The document can be downloaded from:
    http://planningcommission.gov.in/reports/publications/rep_dce.pdf

    This document was either not read by the Home Minister, or was just shoved aside for a trade-off, since as the Prime Minister told the parliament on June 9th, '09: "...if Left Wing extremism continues to flourish in important parts of our country which have tremendous natural resources of minerals and other precious things, that will certainly affect the climate for investment.'

    ... In the meanwhile, from 51 maoist-naxal affected districts in 2001, India has now 231 districts in the category (out of 640 or so)...
    (*_^?)\

    Related Posts:
  • My "Encounters" with Maoists/ Naxals
  • A Rich Nation of Poor People
  • East is East, and West and West...

  • Thursday, October 15, 2009

    6 Novel Ways to Celebrate Diwali

    Came across this article by Vandana Rana in TOI, which makes so much sense...

    6 Novel Ways to Celebrate Diwali

    How do you celebrate Diwali? By lighting diyas, bursting crackers and eating sweets! But as we do this every year, how about bringing in a positive 6 novel ways to celebrate Diwali change this time, which will help people around as well?

    Traditional way to save electricity
    Diwali is also known as the Festival of Lights. So this time let's decorate our houses with traditional lamps and diyas rather bulbs. This was how in earlier times, people touched up their homes with cotton wicks dipped in ghee or oil. This will help you save electricity as well. This will add a traditional stroke with social responsibility in the festival.

    Food wise
    There are many people who cannot afford even one square meal so, how can they afford Diwali celebrations? In this season cut short your list of crackers and use that money in buying them food. Your joy will be doubled and your kitty will brim over with blessings and wishes.

    Celebrate with a new expression
    Our country is a blend of several religions and festivals too. Then why not celebrate this Festival of Lights with our Muslim, Christian and Sikh friends? Use this opportunity to introduce one culture to another. Such an act will encourage unity and teach new morals to your kids.

    Make a new family
    Diwali is family time. But what about those elders and kids who have no families. Wouldn't it be nice if we all could take out some time this Diwali to meet them. There are several old age homes and orphanages dotting the city so finding them shouldn't be a problem. This is the time to exchange your happiness with their gloominess. So go ahead and put a smile on at least one such pretty face.

    Have a healthy Diwali
    Post Diwali pollution is always on an all-time high despite there being a ban on crackers. Say no to crackers if you have'nt done so already and gift saplings to friends and relatives along with sweets. This effort will sweeten the celebrations of your loved ones. Plants are great for a pure and positive environment.

    Decorate the neighbourhood
    Every year we paint and touch up our homes. But no one pays attention to that garbage dump in the corner. It stinks to the high heaven and is a veritable house of all ills. Have it cleaned up and painted afresh. At least for sometime, flies and mosquitoes will be less. Let's join hands to clean the society as well as it will encourage positive atmosphere in neighborhood and double the joy of festivity.

    Happy Diwali to you!

    Friday, October 02, 2009

    And he said....

    ...and he said...

  • There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

    ...and he said...

  • Satyagraha does not begin and end with civil disobedience.

    ...and he said...

  • My notion of democracy is that under it, the weakest should have the same opportunity as the strongest.

    ...and he said...

  • To me I seem to be constantly growing. I must respond to varying conditions, yet remain changeless within.

    ...and he said...

  • True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men at the center. It has to be worked by the people of every village.

    ...and he said...

  • What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism, or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

    ...and he said...

  • We are constantly being astonished at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of nonviolence.

    ...and he said...

  • There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.

    ...and he said...

  • Today the cities dominate and drain the villages so that they are crumbling to ruins. Exploiting of villages is itself organized violence. If we want freedom to build on non-violence, we will have to give villages their proper place.

    ...and he said...

  • As soon as we lose the moral-basis, we cease to be religious.

    ...and he said...

  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

    ...and he said...

  • The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problem.

    ...and he said...

  • It may be long before the law of love will be recognized in international affairs. The machineries of government stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another.

    ...and he said...

  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    ...and he said...

  • Whatever you do will become insignificant, but it is very important to do it.

    ... such was that fussy old man who changed the destiny of an Empire with a fistful of salt!!

  • Thursday, October 01, 2009

    The Economics & Physiology of "Joy of Giving"

    Question 1: How do you "monitize" this act of "Giving"???.... What is the economics of "Giving"?

    Ramaa wrote a beautiful piece about "The Joy of Giving - What Price, Happiness?"... (which thankfully, was rescued out of Facebook and reproduced on his blog by Ninja...)

    Lots of events are happening in XLRI as we celebrate the "Joy of Giving Week" & the "Jamshedpur JoyFest"... e.g.





    ...and Ramaa's note was about one of them - the visit to the old-age home "Nirmal Hrudayalay"... her note ended with an observation:
    ---
    "I walked out of the gate, smiling a little, wondering about the price of happiness.

  • To Mala: her bangles and the promise of a big stool to sit on.
  • To the boy: strumming a guitar.
  • To Poorni: talking to me in Tamizh.
  • To the children there: playing throw ball.

  • To Nirmal Hriday: Two hours of our time.

    I had all of these things they each wanted, and yet I had never been so happy. Giving it to them created the happiness, the priceless joy- of caring, of sharing and giving."

    ---

    Question 2: What is the "physiology" of "Giving"?... Why do people indulge in "unselfish acts"... and self-lessly "give" - money, time, service, resources - in this age of an oxymoron - the "enlightened self-interest"?

    So, I also came across an interesting study by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Maryland - reported by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences... and converted into an article on "Altruism" by The Economist". To quote... because we "feel good" - the study reports....because "giving"/ altruism...

    "...also engages the part of the brain that plays a role in the bonding behaviour between mother and child, and in romantic love. This involves oxytocin, a hormone that increases trust and co-operation"
    ---------

    Ah! Good to know that !!... Good to know that the science/econmics has found out - what any decent human being would know in his/her heart!!

  • Thursday, May 07, 2009

    India Votes...

    I got two messages - on the net - today from old friends/ students/ alumni... Both from the NCR region - the penultimate "Indian Dream of becoming USA"...

    One read, which was posted:

    "I voted. I am sad. Not sad because I voted but sad because an old myth got shattered. The myth that education makes you responsible. The myth that education enables to make decisions and a better decsion. The myth about education has been shattered. Abysmal 16.67% of polling in an area populated by primarily educated guys. You will have shell out INR 10 million to buy an apartment in the area. It hurts!"

    The second one - an e-mail:

    "...had to tell you this, had a strange experience voting today.

    Gurgaon is one confused city in many ways - there are high-rises stumbling over  villages with their crumbling houses and still sustainable lifestyles. The voting centre was in some govt school just behind the apartment block we stay in, but somehow I  had never known that it even existed.  Its a government school after all, sad in many ways. I do know about the  swanky school not too far away, and another interesting school that follows an alternative kind of education system but i am digressing.

    Anyway the approach road was dusty, clogged with  buffaloes heat flaking off their skin, and fancy SUVs, pigs lay about in the open sewer lines that ran by (and that was scary) and barber shops and grocery stores abutted right onto this road.

    But the contrast hit hard when i stood in queue.  A far more skimpily dressed young woman stood in front of me, and behind - because there were separate queues for either sex - were several veiled women. The ghunghat reached down to their waists, and their arms were covered with bangles  up till the elbows and some could not understand the instructions of the lone police guard manning that centre.

    But they understood after their men, tall, strong Jats most of them, I would think,  with their turbans, proud moustaches, and lathis explained things to them. Most of them inked the form with their thumbs and the election officer was understanding and courteous. I dont know why, but the sarpanch of the village was striding around the booth -  the election guys however, were courteous to him too, usually mumbling a word or two in reply  to his pleasantries. I suppose he was just  showing off.

    Like me, the veiled women and the girl in the short sequinned skirt ahead of me pressed the beep on the EVM.  In that sense, in that one moment, all differences between us melted away.

    I know this must be usual, but time and again when i see a demonstration of India's strange and immense contrasts, and the understanding that still remains, I am somehow moved."


    From the same - NCR region - Ritu Sharma had posted an article -Rich Residents of Gurgaon too Busy to Vote? - a couple of days back:

    "They are affluent, educated, well travelled and vocal about their rights. They want the best equipped gyms and swimming pools in their high-end condominiums. But many residents of this 'millennium city' won't be voting this Thursday.

    Notwithstanding awareness campaigns, voting in urban Gurgaon is likely to be low with many staying away from the polling booth - some because it is a conscious decision not to, others because they don't have voter identity cards as they have moved recently or just haven't bothered to find out how to get it.

    Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of urban success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. But away from the oasis of glittering malls and privately-developed housing complexes, basic infrastructure like power, water, roads and sanitation are lacking.

    The affluent denizens of the gated townships of the city voice their grievances but have their own excuses for not casting their votes in the Lok Sabha elections on May 7....

    ....The figures tell the story. According to official records, only 6,947 voters have been added under the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency after a summary revision in the last five years. This is far less than the total number of people who move into the city each month. At present, the total number of voters registered with urbanised Gurgaon is 166,000, out of 1,230,949 voters in the constituency..."


    Meanwhile, an article in Hindustan Times, informs:

    "Dalits may be at the bottom of the country’s socio-economic order, but when it comes to fielding educated candidates in parliamentary elections, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party scores over the others.

    The BSP has fielded more graduates and post-graduates than any other national party. Also, the share of graduates among BSP candidates has risen sharply from 38 per cent in 2004 to 50 per cent in this election, according to an analysis of data available for the first four phases of polling.

    According to data compiled by National Election Watch... the BSP is slightly ahead of Congress in fielding more graduates and post-graduates... BSP has 264 graduates and post graduates in the fray, while Congress has 258.

    Experts said the numbers reflect a trend wherein the first generation beneficiaries of affirmative action are now seeking a bigger say in the country's affairs.

    "The rich among upper castes are turning apolitical and dalits are now seeking electoral power," said Arun Kumar, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Mayawati was a teacher before she joined politics, and her party was built on financial and intellectual support of such Dalits who made it to government jobs and bureaucracy with the help of affirmative action...."


    OR...
    ... as a certain survey across 172 countries shows that in terms of the voter-turnout (since 1945), India - the 2nd (or 1st??) largest democracy', ranks 105th (out of 172 countries).

    Perhaps this mail floating on the net says much:

    10 reasons why South Mumbai didn't come out to vote on April 30:

  • Clashed with Salsa class
  • Election whites were not drycleaned
  • No candidate was a hottie
  • Tony Jethmalani contesting from suburbs. Sigh!!
  • There was no valet parking at booth
  • I spotted servant in queue ahead of us
  • Driver did not come
  • But eElections over dude! aren't they?... Obama won!
  • No party is tackling real issues, eg, reduce Golds Gym rates.
  • There was no "home delivery!"

    In any case, India (or the rest of it) trudges on...

    Related posts:
  • One Single Vote!... that's India's Democracy is all about!
  • Yeh Mera India!!!
  • India... between "Masses" and "Classes"

  • Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Align!.. Optimize!!... Fire!!! - The New HR Mantra

    Last month, I met an old friend. He had done himself well, and is now the HR Head – or Chief People Officer as he would insist - in a blue-chip company.

    "How have you been?" I asked him.

    "Oh, I am doing well," he replied.

    "...and how has the current recession affected you?" This was a curiosity for me: what would the HR professionals be doing with people when there is not enough market demand to keep the employees productively employed.

    "Not much, really!! We have managed it well," he said. "In fact, we just concluded an Employee Alignment and Optimization initiative last week."

    "Employee Alignment and Optimization" seemed such a sexy term. It conjoured up images of a happy bunch of people being helped by my friend and his HR team to bring their interest and capabilities in-synch with their work and performance.

    "That’s really nice! You mean, you assessed and re-allocated them so that they get to do what they are really capable of doing, and enjoy doing?”

    He looked aghast and uncomfortable. “No! no!,” he said. “This was actually an initiative to disengage about 200 of them from the organization.”

    “You mean, you fired them?!!” I was startled, not being sure how can one “optimize” and “align” people by firing them.

    “No, actually, we didn’t have to fire them, at all,” he beamed, happily. “ In fact, as we had planned, it was a voluntary separation. It was really a very smooth process.”

    I was thoroughly impressed. “That’s really remarkable!,” I said with awe. “ It says so much about the level of commitment you must have fostered among the people, that they could make such a sacrifice for the larger good of the organization. Imagine!... you send out a mail saying that we need 200 volunteers to leave the organization – and people actually volunteer.”

    My friend looked at me as if I had lost my beans. “Of course, Not! It was not like that at all!!” he almost choked. “This was a very systematic and thorough exercise; we planned it with precision, and with full confidentiality; and we trained our HR and line executives to communicate the choice to the 200 of our employees who had be separated.”

    I was befuddled, “….and what was the choice?”

    “Oh!,” he said with the pride of a general who has cleverly ambushed the enemy. “We told them that they can volunteer to resign; they will have to sign a document to that effect. It was our legal department which suggested this. In return, we will give them 2 months of “sabbatical leave” – “

    “Sabbatical leave! You mean, the company will finance 2 months for their re-education?” I was amazed at this generous gesture, though by now, I had nagging doubt that there must be a catch somewhere.

    “No, no!, we can’t do that. Think of the costs!” he corrected me. “You know, what with this sensitivity of media about the pink-slips, we had to really think about what to call this interim period. What we actually offered them was 2 months of further employment at half salary, and they don’t have to come to office – actually, they can’t enter office, at all! We also promised to help their outplacement, and they get a decent separation package after 3 months. Depending upon their length of service, they would get 2-months to 10-months of their pay as the severance pay.”

    “…and what if they didn’t accept this offer?”, I was curious – or as Alice would have said, it was getting curiouser and curiouser.

    He laughed, waving his hands in the air. “Actually, there was not much of a choice for them.” he said with some satisfaction. “We had their performance ratings, and other inputs from the line managers, which we could use to retrench them. We told them that, upfront.... our Legal Dept had already put together a strong case for termination for each of them, really!.”

    A stray thought suddenly occurred to me.

    “But tell me,” I asked. ”why did you want to fire – er, sorry, disengage - them in the first place!?”

    He looked at me incredulously, as if I was from some other planet. “Don’t you read the newspapers?” he asked. “I don’t know if this is a cyclical recession or a meltdown, but the point is that we need to cut down costs – and maintain our margins.”

    “But aren’t employees the “resources” – I mean, Human Resources? I know organizations which even call them “the most precious assets” or “human capital”? How did they suddenly become “cost” to the company?”

    “Ugh! You don’t seem to understand…,” he lapsed into silence for some time. “After all, “resources”, “assets” etc., are just words. The key issue is: whether, as HR professionals, we are contributing to business or not.”

    “But what happens if the business picks up in a year or so, and you need more people?”

    “If that happens, we will have to hire new ones”, he said in a matter-of-fact manner. “The point is that have to maintain our profit margins of 35%...”

    Needless to say, we left each other, puzzled – and the rest of the conversation, somewhat, went on the same tenor…

    And I recalled Jerry Harvey’s classical article: “Eichmann in the Organisation”

    “… it was not the Nazis only who were to be blamed for what happened to Jews – but also the Jewish Council in Germany. To quote:

    “…the collusive role played by the Jewish councils – the most powerful, respected, and trusted members of the Jewish community – in the liquidation of their own people, including, in the end, themselves…. they compiled lists for the Nazis of persons to be deported… served as police during actual seizure of people and property… “
    etc.

    In the contemporary scenario, Eichmann was the quintessential Human Resources professional, and would have approved of the new HR Mantra:

    Align!... Optimize!!... Fire!!!

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Beyond "what ifs" and "Somedays"...

    It is ages - more than 2 months - since, I posted here...

    One of the reasons was also the 1st National Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, which we organised at XLRI on Jan 31-Feb 1, '09... and this post is about some of those "entrepreneurs with a social cause"...

    Their presentations videos - and links to their websites - of course are available there at:

    http://social-entrepreneurship-at-xlri.blogspot.com/

    ...and the photo slide-show of how the Conference unfolded is here:

    Photographs of Day 1:




    Photographs of Day 2:



    But, listening and interacting with them, made me recall the preface to Rashmi Bansal's book Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry:

      "Of all the questions we leave unanswered, the one that comes back to haunt us the most is: "what if...

    • what if I had married my college sweetheart?

    • what if I had the good sense not to?

    • what if I had been born in this joob market?

    • what if...

    • what if I'd planned a little less?

    • what if I'd planned a little more?

    • what if I'd chucked it all, and started my own company?

      "What ifs" are never idle fantasy. They are hopes, dreams and desires.

      Logic and reasons are the naphthalene balls we use to pack them away into a sandbook called "someday". But when that day comes, we are too old, too poor, too tired or too lazy.

      .... those people who seized their moment. So they would not wake up one day with regrets. Of course, they saw markets and opportunity and need gaps. But more importantly, they stood in front of the mirror and saw their true selves.

      That self told them it was meaningless to sell soap just because you are paid well to do so.

      That being corporate slave was in easy option, but not the one that felt right.

      That there was something bigger and better to do with their talents."


    Many years back, I had read Odyssey: From Pepsi to Apple. In one of the conversations, Steve Jobs had asked John Sculley:

    "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world."

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    India Inc. vs. "Mera Bharat"

    Few News Items which came out during last couple of days:

    Modi PM material for Anil Ambani, Sunil Mittal

    ...As the fourth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit drew to a close at Ahmedabad on Tuesday, corporate India, shedding its usual reticence, hailed the BJP leader’s (Narendra Modi's) stewardship and went to the extent of putting the "prime ministerial class" stamp on him.

    ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, while addressing the valedictory session of the meet, was effusive in his praise of Mr Modi’s leadership. "Narendrabhai has done good for Gujarat and what will happen if he leads the nation," he said. "Gujarat has seen progress in all the fields under his leadership. Now, imagine what will happen to the country if he gets the opportunity to lead it," he said and added, "Person like him should be the next leader of the country"....

    Bharti Group CMD Sunil Mittal also showered encomiums. "Chief minister Modi is known as a CEO, but he is actually not a CEO, because he is not running a company or a sector. He is running a state and can also run the nation," he said.

    ....Both Mr Mittal and Mr Anil Ambani described Mr Modi as the "future leader of the country," given his "capacity to dream with open eyes" and "drive to achieve the results." The younger Ambani asserted that Mr Modi’s achievements in leading Gujarat to an industrialised state had made him "a proud Indian and a proud Gujarati." He said the way he had transformed Gujarat, he could change the complexion of the country as and when he takes over its reins.

    Tata Group boss Ratan Tata led the corporates in lauding Mr Modi’s track record. "I have to say that today there is no state like Gujarat. Under Mr Modi’s leadership, Gujarat is head and shoulders above any state," Mr Tata...


    Modi’s ‘Taj Mahal’ to displace 35,000 families, says IIM-A study

    They say its Modi’s ‘Taj Mahal’, but the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project, which is expected to attract maximum attention during the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit 2009, will displace around 35,000 odd families from the riverbed and the surrounding areas, according to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

    Navdeep Mathur, a professor at IIM-A, said: "We conducted this study as part of the PGP-PMP course on displacement and rehabilitation issues in the governance. According to the interaction with community leaders and activists, we came to know that nearly 35,000 families will be affected".

    Mathur’s team visited the riverbed area in October, followed by a field visit two weeks ago in January. He added: “There is no clarity on the counting of project affected families. We found out that the there was little or no communication with the communities”.

    The survey of NGOs ­- Action Aid and Sabarmati Nagarik Adhikar Manch - and social activists stated that about 35,000 families will be affected, which is in stark contrast to the 4,400 figure given by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) initially. The locals of the riverbed, with the help of activists, had filed a petition against the AMC in the Gujarat High Court.


    Elsewhere, a news item - Half of Vibrant Gujarat Goes to Sleep Empty Stomach mentions some statistics:

  • According to International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2008 Global Hunger Index, Gujarat is ranked 69th along with Haiti, the nation infamous for food riots. The state is placed in the ‘alarming’ category.

  • The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation has identified urban Gujarat as ‘moderately food secure’ while rural Gujarat remains ‘severely insecure.’

  • The National Family Health Survey III (NFHS-III) conveys that 42.4 per cent of children in Gujarat are suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition. Also, about 47.4 per cent of children are underweight in the state.

  • NFHS-III also points out that more than half of Gujarat’s population is Anaemic, with a percentage as high as 80.1 for children aged 6-35 months.

  • NFHS-III further states that nearly one-third of adults in Gujarat have their Body Mass Index (BMI) below the normal, 32.3 per cent for women and 28.2 per cent for men.

    etc.

    Postcript: A couple of friends wrote back on the above post that it would be fairer comparison if Gujarat's hunger record is placed along side the national average.

    That is a legitimate query, and will certainly help in forming a more balanced view about its growth or otherwise. The India State Hunger Index from IFPRI report is as below. Among 17 states, Gujarat ranks 13 - above Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh

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