Rural-urban shift is more fluid than we believe

Friday, September 11, 2015
There is great fluidity of occupations in rural India.

Census 2011 brought in a revelation that the population of urban India increased much more than the rural population, for the first time in 90 years. If urban population shows greater increase, does that necessarily imply rural to urban migration, where the migrants have given up on agriculture? And when we say migration, is it only about rural to urban migration for better work opportunities? Is this an inevitably one sided transition? A...

A penny well spent?

Sunday, August 16, 2015
Better learning outcomes are coming at high costs. Source: Pixabay

India spends almost 2.5 per cent of its GDP on elementary education. This includes 0.71 per cent of private expenditure. Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the flagship government programme on elementary education, got 67 per cent of the total elementary education budget in 2015-16 at Rs 22,000 crore. High expenditure on elementary education per student leads to better learning outcomes but this expenditure is highly inefficient and needs...

Women cops satisfied with work, not with set up

Sunday, August 9, 2015
Two police women in Chennai. Source: John Hill/Wikipedia

There are only 499 women police stations in India, out of a total of 15,000 police stations. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is also proposing to appoint women in six lakh villages across the country as Special Police Officers (SPOs) on a voluntary basis. SPOs are ordinary citizens appointed by the state police to help them in community policing mostly given non combative assignments. While there is consistent emphasis to bring more women...

Organic way to deal with disability

Monday, August 3, 2015
A new set of smaller and lighter farm tools for those with functional disabilities have also been developed.

People with disabilities are often seen as unproductive beings requiring assistance from family members and community at large. This perception is starker in rural India where lack of varied work options, good public infrastructure and assistive devices leave little scope for those with disabilities to realise their potentials. An experiment in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh is challenging the old concepts by dovetailing orgnaic farming...

How we fail our RTI heroes

Sunday, August 2, 2015
Babu Ram Chauhan showing RTI documents in 2012.

Babu Ram Chauhan always knew what was coming but he could not afford drop what he was doing. Belonging to Ramgarh village located near to India’s border with Pakistan in west Rajasthan, Chauhan exposed encroachment on more than 17,000 hectares prime irrigated land in the area. On July 11, he was kidnapped while returning home after teaching at a school 30 km away from his village. The kidnappers beat him up badly, shaved his head and forced...

India's largest employer has less than 7% women in its workforce

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Maximum women are employed in Group A and B and least with Group D.

Train tracks connect India like nothing else. Meandering through valleys, counting fields, jumping over rivers and bringing to halt road traffic, Indian Railways carried over more than 23 million passengers a day in 2014-15 on its 65,436 km network. For many, train turns into a home for few days. However, it’s not easy for women to commute on this convenient and many a times the only mode of transport. In 2013, 693 cases of crime against...

Last man in the queue

Friday, May 15, 2015
Mental illness is more common among homeless than securely domiciled. Source: Tomas Castelazo

This mobile clinic in Delhi is especially aimed at mentally ill who live on streets of the capital. That they represent the most vulnerable of our society is a known fact. There is strong evidence to suggest that severe mental illness is more common among the homeless than the securely domiciled. An outreach camp, which helps these people regain their sense of belonging through innovative strategies, is thus more than welcome. Though there...

A school to her thoughts

Thursday, May 14, 2015
The share of girl student declines with each level of education.

Unqualified teachers, low salaries, no free education for poor students and lack of infrastructure mar the implementation of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act in India. Punjab is no different in this respect. A study points out deficiencies in the current system and little effort being made to rectify them. Though private schools of the state have good infrastructure, these lack commitment to poor students and teachers, who...

When States get rich and powerful

Monday, May 4, 2015
States are better capable of administering their finances. Source: Aart van Bezooyen/Flickr

The Union budget saw increase in share of states in the gross tax receipts. While in actuals this might translate to an increase of a nominal 4 per cent in terms of tax revenue shared from Rs 7.62 lakh crore in 2014-2015 to Rs 7.93 lakh crore in 2015-2016, it is the nature of these resources that add value to fiscal devolution. Studies have indicated that states are better capable of administering their finances, while at the same time...

'Policing requires wide and numerous reforms'

Sunday, May 3, 2015
Amidst Chaos. Source: Harni Calamur/Flickr

In India, police are trained well, paid minimally, put to odd times and jobs. Yet they remain in a position of power over the rest of the citizens, which is then used to extract money, and other favours. Political control further aggravates the situation. This is why the need for reform of the police force was felt but the reforms were not really acted upon, and if done, it was merely a lip service. Devika Prasad, who works with police...