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Showing posts from January, 2011

High food prices forcing Indians to cut other spendings:Study

Rising inflationary pressures, especially high food prices, have become a major cause of concern for Indians, who are being forced to cut down discretionary spends, according to The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index.

Despite being the most optimistic globally when it comes to their job and personal finance for the next 12 months, the survey said, in the next six months Indians will be most concerned about increasing food prices.

As per the survey, that polled over 29,000 Internet consumers in 52 countries in November 2010, 90 per cent of Indians were upbeat about their jobs, while 84 per cent of them are bullish on their personal finance.

"Increasing food and fuel prices remain a big concern for Indians and has a significant bearing on their lifestyles as they try and balance rising costs by cutting down other living expenses," The Nielsen Company Managing Director Consumer (India) said in a statement.

Fifteen per cent of Indians (polled) considered it as their biggest co…

Dowry-related crime behind arrest of one in every four women

One in every four women arrested in India go behind the bar for harassing their ilk for dowry and even leading the victim to death.

Out of the 1,79,294 women arrested in 2009, the National Crime Records Bureau said, 25.95 per cent were apprehended under heads of dowry deaths and cruelty by husband and relatives.

According to the 'Crime in India' report, 41,351 women were arrested in 2009 under Section 498A of IPC (cruelty by husband and relatives) while 5,182 went behind bars for dowry deaths (Sec 304B).

A total of 1,74,395 persons were arrested under Section 498A while the figure for arrest under Section 340B was 23,374.

Interestingly, the largest group of arrested women comes from the age group of 30-45 years.

While 15,137 women in the age bracket of 30-45 years were arrested on charges of cruelty, 12,996 belonged to 18-30 years, 10,743 from 45-60 years and 2,290 were in the bracket of above 60 years.

Similarly, the figures for dowry deaths in these age-groups were 1896, 1751, 129…

'Girl child ignored even in areas with few medical facilities'

Girl child survival is skewed even in those areas of northern India having limited access to public health facilities and modern ultrasound technology as families 'neglect' them to ensure there are few survivors, says a new study.

Since families can not know the sex of the foetus due to lack of technology, girls born in these areas face systematic healthcare neglect, specially in poorer communities to 'dispose them off', says the study.

Allowing the umbilical cord of the newly born girl to get affected, not spending on their healthcare and nutrition and treating their death as 'good riddance' show the neglect faced by girls in these areas, adds the study.

'Disappearing Daughters', the study has covered more than 6,000 families in Kangra in Himachal, Morena in Madhya Pradesh, Dhaulpur in Rajasthan, Rohtak in Haryana and Fategargh Saheb in Punjab.

The study has found the sex ratio even lower compared to one recorded in 2001 census in all the rural and urban s…

One-third adolescent girls under-nourished: Survey

Giving a bleak outlook on women's health, a government survey has found that at least one-third of adolescent girls in India are under-nourished while 56.2 per cent women in the reproductive age group are anaemic.

The number of adolescent girls (in the age group of 11-18 years), constituting 17 per cent of the total female population, is 8.3 crore, according to the National Family Health Survey.

The female literacy rate is only 53.87 per cent. Thus, they have considerable "unmet needs" in terms of education, health and nutrition, it said.

Women and Child Development Ministry officials attribute this to the lack of targeted health services for adolescents and widespread gender discrimination which limits their access to health services.

The practice of early marriage and child-bearing puts adolescent girls and their children at increased risk of adverse outcomes, they said.

Providing a still bleaker outlook on the women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the N…

Homeless people in Mumbai to be counted on February 28 night

The homeless people in the metropolis will be counted on the night of February 28 for 15th National Census.

The first phase of the Census began with house-listing on May 1 last year, and ended on June 15. The homeless people were not counted during this phase.

"To count the homeless, ward officials will carry out counting operations on the night of February 28, but the ground-work will begin four weeks before," Additional Municipal Commissioner said.

"We have asked all 24 ward offices to gather information on homeless people, who are either found on footpaths, or under the bridges," Commissioner said.

Over 600 officials from various wards will be involved in the night-long exercise.

"This floating population moves around the city during the day and by night they come to sleep at their usual places. So this is the only time we can go and survey them and get details. Survey will begin after 11 pm and continue till early morning," Municipal Commissioner said.

Bri…

Delhi shelter homes uninhabitable; over 1,800 children flee: RTI data

They were rescued from a difficult life of living on the streets or from the clutches of employers forcing them into labour and sent to children's homes. Sounds like a happy ending. But that is apparently not the case as over 1,800 children have escaped from various shelter homes in Delhi in the last four years because of their "uninhabitable" conditions, a RTI query has revealed.

Of the 1,807 children who escaped, only 57 have been found. The rest - 1,750 kids - are "still at large".

The data revealed is for the period between 2006 and 2010.

Children who are put in children's homes or shelter homes need to feel free; they should be able to participate in different activities. But in a lot of homes the situation is like in jails.
There have been cases where children have complained of sexual abuse by older kids in the homes, and these were being taken up by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). When it comes to homes run by NGOs, at le…

Big city life may change residents' green outlook: study

People, especially with good jobs, living in large cities are more likely to engage in green activities, says a new study based on the world's fastest growing economy, China's environmental behaviour.

The study, the first to weigh employment and leadership while considering environmental behaviour, showed that the downsides of China's explosive urbanisation such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions now are joined by an upside -- better environmental citizens.

The findings, published in the journal Environmental Conservation, showed that the city size -- especially the good jobs there -- influences citizens' pro-environment behaviours, like recycling plastic bags and sorting their trash.

"It is essential to study human behaviour because it directly affects the environment," said study author Jianguo "Jack" Liu, director of the Centre for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University.

"As China is the world's fastest gr…

Study raises concern over math ability of kids in rural India

Raising the alarm bell, an education survey has revealed a decline in children's ability to do simple mathematics in rural India, with only 35.9 per cent in class V able to solve easy division problems last year as against 38 per cent in 2009.

The annual State of Education Report 2010, facilitated by Pratham, a non-governmental organisation, has also said as against 69.3 per cent in 2009, only 65.8 per cent of class I students could recognise numbers from 1 to 9 in 2010, a decline of about four per cent.

The report further revealed that only 36.5 per cent of the children in class III could solve two digit subtraction problems in the survey carried out last year as against 39 per cent a year before.

The report, released by Vice President Hamid Ansari Friday, was based on a survey which covered seven lakh children in 14,000 villages in 522 districts.

It singled out Punjab for bucking the trend though, saying performance of children in maths there has improved over the last few years.

As …

Indians' fin literacy levels better than most others: Survey

Indians have better financial literacy levels than most others globally and rank second out of 10 leading nations in having a basic financial literacy level, according to a recent survey.

Indians turn out to be the second out of 10 leading nations in the world to have a basic financial literacy level (55 per cent), just behind the Japanese, an ING Consumer Resourcefulness Survey, said.

A majority of Indian consumers have not only shown better skills in managing their household financial budget but are also confident of facing any financial impediments in future as compared to citizens of nine other countries, the survey said.

The survey was carried out among 5,000 consumers across ten major nations, including India, the USA, Mexico, The Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Korea and Japan.

The survey shows that a whopping 84 per cent of Indians prefer buying life insurance products as compared to 54 per cent globally. A similar percentage of Indians believe in maintaining a house…

Poverty may suppress child's genetic potentials: study

Growing up in a poor family may suppress a child's genetic potential to excel cognitively, a new research has claimed.

The University of Texas study found that half of the gains that wealthier children show on tests of mental ability between 10 months and 2 years of age can be attributed to their genes.

But children from poorer families, who already lag behind their peers by that age, show almost no improvements that are driven by their genetic makeup, found the study.

However, the findings do not suggest that children from wealthier families are genetically superior or smarter. They simply have more opportunities to reach their potential.

These findings go to the heart of the age-old debate about whether "nature" or "nurture" is more important to a child's development, said Elliot Tucker-Drob who led the study.

It found that both "nature" and "nurture" work together and that the right environment can help children begin to reach their geneti…

Delhi Govt to distribute 15,000 houses to slum dwellers

In good news for slum dwellers, Delhi Government decided to distribute nearly 15,000 low-cost houses to them and the allotment of the flats will begin within next two months. A high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit decided that those who have settled in a slum or jhughi jhopri cluster not later than March 31, 2007 will be eligible to get allotment of the low cost houses. Earlier, the cut off date was March 31, 2002.
It raised eligibility criteria of annual family income from Rs 60,000 to Rs one lakh to get allotment of the flats built under the JNNURM scheme. In the meeting, Dikshit gave clear instruction to the Delhi Urban Development department to initiate the process of allotment of the houses as soon as possible. Officials said the actual allotment of the flats will begin before March. "The dream of a poor man to own a house in Delhi is coming to be true very soon," Dikshit said after the meeting of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (…

2010 was an action-packed year for Environment Ministry

The Environment and Forests Ministry was in news throughout 2010 -- be it for Vedanta Resources, Posco and Lavasa -- or for Jairam Ramesh's aggressive green activism.

While the ministry rejected the green signal to Vedanta for its USD 1.7 billion project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa noting that the company violated the environment and forests rules, it put the USD 12 billion project by South Korean steelmaker Posco under scanner.
The Posco project seeks diversion of 1253.225 hectares of forest land for establishment of Integrated Steel Plant and Captive Port in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district. The ministry was also in news for holding the Rs 3,000 crore Lavasa project in Maharashtra.
Lavasa has challenged the ministry's directive in the Bombay High Court. Two mega projects which got conditional clearance last year are Navi Mumbai International Airport to handle 60 million passengers annually by 2030 and 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra.
The m…

SC takes exception to Maha CS "outbursts" seeks explanation

The Supreme Court on Friday took strong exception to the reported remarks of Maharashtra Chief Secretary J J Dange that beggars/destitutes from outside can go back to their native states and government was not obliged to implement all court directives.

The apex court said if such remarks were made they amounted to contempt.

A bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma asked the state government counsel Sanjay Karde to bring to the state Chief Minister's notice the purported remarks and file an affidavit within three weeks whether such utterances had been made.

"Homeless people are outsiders and not from the state of Maharashtra. They should go back to their respective states. We cannot implement all directives from the court. The issue of homeless is not so important. There are many directives in waiting and this one is just an addition. Don't care much about it," the chief secretary is reported to have told an NGO when it sought shelter for the destitutes in p…

Year 2010: Moily pushes for reforms as Law Minister

Struggling to bring down the whopping over 3 crore pending court cases in the country, the Law Ministry proposes to soon place before the Union Cabinet a comprehensive National Litigation Policy which aims at disposing of cases within three years.

The proposed policy aims at reducing government litigation which forms a substantial chunk of pending cases.

"The proposed Litigation Policy will soon be before the Union Cabinet for its approval. We have received feedback from other ministries, including the Finance Ministry," Law Minister M Veerappa told.

"The new policy is expected to reduce average pendency time of cases from 15 years to 3 years, " he said, adding that it focuses on core issues like managing and conducting litigation in a cohesive manner.

"I will take all proactive steps to reduce the delays," he said.

The policy also ensures that bad cases are not needlessly pursued while good cases are won.

Several thousands of cases are pending in courts where …

CM launches campaign for collecting woollen clothes for poor

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today launched an initiative under which donation centres are being set up across the city to collect woollen clothes for distribution among the homeless and poor people.

The 'Spread the Warmth' initiative has also deployed mobile vans to collect woollen clothes from individuals and corporate houses so that the poor and homeless can survive the biting cold condition in the city.

One such mobile van painted with words "Spread the Warmth" was flagged off by Dikshit.

Speaking on the occasion, Dikshit complimented organisations for novel initiative which will continue till January 31.

Implementation of RTE Act highpoint of education in 2010

Implementation of the Right To Education Act heralded a new era in the country's formal schooling process while deferment of a key bill on tribunals came as a major setback for the government in its efforts to reform higher education sector during the year.

The government came up with four crucial education reform bills including one on allowing entry of foreign universities in India, but the deferment of the tribunal bill threw a spanner in its efforts to carry through the reforms process.

The Oscar Fernandes headed Parliamentary Standing Committee, to which the tribunal bill was referred, questioned the HRD Ministry's "hurry" in rushing through the bill without holding proper consultation with all stakeholders.

While it made several recommendations, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal rejected them, triggering resentment from Opposition in Rajya Sabha including his own party member K Keshava Rao.

Similarly, the Foreign Educational Bill came in for criticism from Left members who …

French saddest people in the world, Indians optimists: Survey

French are the saddest people in the world while Indians are optimists, a survey has revealed.

According to the BVA-Gallup poll of 53 countries, the French are the world champions of scepticism, with 61 per cent of respondents saying 2011 will be "a year of economic difficulty".

Britons were not far behind on 52 per cent, Spaniards 48 per cent and Italians 41 per cent, the 'Daily Mail' said.

The poll found that 67 per cent of French respondents believed unemployment would rise over the next 12 months. In fact, employment was also a major concern in the UK, with 74 per cent of Britons believing unemployment would increase.

The overall negative sentiment in Europe comes in stark contrast to the emerging economies in Asia, South America and Africa, where citizens are generally optimistic about the New Year.

In Brazil, India and China, 49 per cent of respondents said they believed 2011 would be economically prosperous, with only 14 per cent predicting hardship.

Vietnam topped …

MGNREGA provided employment to nearly 4 crore people in 2010

Nearing the four crore mark in providing jobs under MGNREGA, re-launching the Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas scheme and reinforcing social audit in programmes on complaints of irregularities were the foremost tasks of the rural development ministry in 2010.
While 3.9 crore households were provided employment, the share of women beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act went up to 51 per cent, with over 69.14 crore beneficiaries. The MoRD's functioning witnessed a revived zest in February after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted there were some "lapses" in the flagship job guarantee scheme's implementation, including the problem of payment of wages to workers. Even though there were reports that states like Rajasthan failed to check distress migration as minimum 100 days of employment assured under the Act was not provided to all workers, the scheme did manage to add 51 crore beneficiaries from Scheduled Castes and 23…

Delhi govt to upgrade facilities at night shelters

Homeless people living in night shelters in the city can hope for better amenities in coming days as Delhi Government decided to upgrade facilities at these centres as soon as possible. After visiting various night shelters on Monday, Delhi Finance Minister A K Walia, said he has directed the departments concerned to provide adequate medical facilities to the occupants apart from basic amenities such as toilet, clean ambience, sanitation, blankets and drinking water.
Delhi Government has already released Rs two crore for improving infrastructure at permanent night shelters. Walia said government would do its best to provide shelter to all the homeless people in the city so that they can protect themselves from the shivering cold.
Walia said 86 temporary night shelters have been functioning in the city currently against 24 last year. He said 64 permanent night shelters are being operated by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board which functions under Delhi Government.

Earlier these shelte…

Not much action on minority affairs in 2010

The Minority Affairs Ministry intended to do a lot in 2010 but its initiatives failed to take off after being mired in controversies and due to rejections. Be it four new schemes, the ministry's ambitious plans to implement the existing Wakf Act or setting up of an Equal Opportunity Commission, none could see the light of the day, the only solace being some silver linings.

Planning Commission rejected all four new schemes announced by the ministry in 2010 which included strengthening of state Wakf boards, scheme for providing interest subsidy on educational loans for overseas studies to minority students, scheme for promotional activities for linguistic minorities and fertility support scheme for Parsis and Zoroastrians. The fertility support scheme was rejected as the Planning Commission felt it would be akin to interfering in social issues. The scheme was announced on the basis of findings in a study carried out by the National Commission of Minorities, which had felt that the comm…

NHRC notice to Delhi Govt on plight of street children

The National Human Rights Commission issued a notice (on 24 Dec. 2010) to the Delhi government following reports that the city has no dedicated night shelters for street children.
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the rights body has asked Chief Secretary of Delhi to submit a report within two weeks detailing on the guidelines framed by the government for care and protection of homeless children in the national capital.
The NHRC took note of recent media reports which quoted a survey by an NGO claiming that more than 10,000 children in Delhi were living on the streets of the city alone.
"Most of these homeless children live outside railway stations and bus stands where they find odd jobs easily. Out of 76 temporary shelters in Delhi, not one is dedicated for them.
"It is alleged that the children are not allowed to enter the night shelters meant for adults and families. It seems that the Delhi Government has forgotten the homeless children," a statement by th…