• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : myth

Why TAXAB is wrong about demanding #Bharat4PopulationLaw #WorldPopulationDay

by National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights

The World Population Day is celebrated every year on the 11th of July as a result of a UN Resolution in 1990 seeking to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development. In India the World Population Day has more often than not been an occasion to highlight the ‘overpopulation’ in the country with a focus on the total number of people living in India and that this number is ‘too much’. This year this focus on overpopulation has been reinforced by a new group of concerned citizens called TAXAB or the Taxpayers Association of Bharat who are calling for a new population control law under the hashtag #Bharat4PopulationLaw.

The overall logic of this campaign is two-fold – the first part argues that as tax-payers of India we should be concerned about the misuse of our taxes by the system towards the development of Bharat. The second part explains the nature of the misuse which manifests as lack of good roads, joblessness, increasing poverty, lack of good food, clean air etc. And this lack of good infrastructure and facilities as well as pollution is due to increasing population – primarily among the BPL.

In quick strokes it creates a division between the tax-payer who is being short-changed by the poor who are growing in numbers, and secondly it attributes all the ills of the country to growing population, though it first argues that there is mismanagement by the system. The problems in the country are there for all to experience, and urban overcrowding is a phenomenon nearly all taxpayers are facing daily – so the logic is bound to be extremely attractive.

However this entire argument is based on myths.

The population growth rate in India is not growing but instead has been slowing for the last few decades. From a high of 2.3 percent per year in the 1970’s and 80’s it is now down to 1.2% per year. At the level of the family the Total Fertility Rate or number of children a woman has in her life has reduced from 5 in the 1970’s to 2.2 in 2015-16. The total wanted fertility is below 2 but women do not receive the contraceptive services that they want. The population growth rate is a function of birth, death and migration. In India, the birth rates are still a little high, but not because women are having more babies but because the number of young couples in India is higher than ever before. And this large number of young couples even when they have fewer babies each, the total adds up. This will come down as the babies born in the heydays of population growth and their children become older. In other words there is not much we can do to reduce their reproductive rate other than provide them with spacing methods. Now understand the various problems that have been attributed to population growth. India was a poor country in 1947 when India became independent, now it is no longer a poor country.

By expert estimates the GDP growth between 1951 and 2011 was over 20 times and food grain output grew by over 4 times while population grew by a little over 3 times in the same period. Clearly the total amount of food or income available per head has grown but poverty seem to be all around us. The TAXAB campaign has highlighted the bad state of roads and infrastructure as a result of overpopulation, highlighting the poor state of infrastructure in cities. This overcrowding of Indian cities is not a result of overpopulation but migration from villages to cities. This migration is often as a result of rural distress, and lack of employment opportunities which is highlighted by the continuing news of farmer suicides from across the country.

The TAXAB campaign also makes reference to pollution in the name of ‘shudh’ and ‘ashudh’ food, water and air. Pollution in India is undeniable, but is overpopulation the cause behind it as the #Bharat4PopulationLaw seems to imply? Pollution is most often contributed by the burning of fossil fuels, either for transportation or for factories or for generating electricity which then powers our air conditioners, or factories. We need to understand that the poor, who are a much larger proportion of the population, require very little fossil fuel generated energy. Their requirements for water too are very little. Research shows that the richer countries and the rich in countries like ours consume 20 – 30 times more energy in their whole lifetimes than the poor. Here if the population of people is to be seen as a problem, it is the fewer rich who pose much more problems for the absolute consumption of resources as well as the contribution to pollution.


The overall logic of the #Bharat4PopulationLaw campaign seems to imply that the taxpayers need to be worried because not much has happened through their taxes in the last seventy years. And this is where the campaign organisers have been completely misled. While overcrowding is a fact, it does not indicate a failure of contraceptive related practices among the people. Overall contraceptive usage rates have increased from 13% in the 1970’s to over 56% now. Infant mortality rate, or number of children who die before reaching the age of one year has reduced from over 130 per 1000 children to 41 now.

Overall life expectancy has also increased from less than 40 years at the time of independence to over 64 years now. More people are living, less people are dying, fewer children are being born but more people are crowding to cities where there is inadequate infrastructure, few job opportunities and we see more poor people in our streets.

A population control law is not the solution to the problems that have been indicated by TAXAB. A population control law as we have seen in China will lead to further decline in the number of girls in the country, a problem that our society is already facing. It will lead to reducing opportunities for the poor, and marginalized, including the dalits, as such laws deny benefits to those with more children. Data shows the poor have more children, but not because they want it, but because they don’t receive the appropriate services.

Women bear the disproportionate burden of population control laws, as they bear children and can be faced with repeated abortions or even desertion as men take desperate measures to keep their family size small and qualify for positions for which they can become disqualified. Yes we need changes in policies and the way they are implemented to address the issues that TAXAB has highlighted but the approach is misplaced. . The problem lies not in the population related policies but in economic policies which have not focused adequately on health or education or economic opportunities for the poor.

Yes tax-payers need to rise up and make demands from our government to increase the investment of healthcare so that not only the poor but we all are healthier and more capable, without become penurious due to healthcare costs.

We need to make demands to increase the quality of standards of the government schools so that children educated there are more empowered, and we are all confident enough to send our children to these schools rather than the very expensive private schools that are coming up every day.

Our family planning programme needs to be reoriented towards the needs of younger couples through increased availability of spacing methods. Men need to involved in discussions around family planning.

And last but not the least we need to ensure all young people have adequate knowledge and information about their bodies, and reproductive health which enables them to take decisions that will enable them to live healthy and productive lives.


NAMHHR is an  Alliance of  members from 14 states of India, as well as expert advisors working with research, Right to Food, public health, right to medicines and budget accountability.

Dr Abhijit Das, NAMHHR Convenor

Related posts

Narendra Modi ‘butcher of Gujarat’; 9 Mythbusters on 2002 post-Godhra riots

Tuesday, 29 April 2014 – 1:14pm IST | Agency: DNA
For those who have developed “selective and motivated” amnesia about the truths of 2002 riots in Gujarat and are suddenly buying into the myths being perpetrated by Narendra Modi‘s PR machinery, here are a few myth-busters to refresh your memory and perhaps your conscience

Myth no 1: Post-Godhra violence was brought under control within 2-3 days by Narendra Modi’s government
Truth: “The violence in the state, which was initially claimed to have been brought under control in seventy two hours, persisted in varying degree for over two months, the toll in death and destruction rising with the passage of time.”
Source: Final Order of the National human Rights Commission chaired by the very respected Justice JS Verma, available here

Myth no 2: Gujarat Police acted fairly by taking action against rioters from every side
“We women thought of going to police and telling the police as in the presence of police, the houses of Muslims were burnt, but the police told us ‘to go inside, it is doom’s day for Muslims”
Source: PW219 testimony which was admitted as part of Naroda Patya judgment that led to conviction of Mayaben Kodnani, Narendra Modi’s cabinet minister who led murderous mobs during 2002 riots. It is available here.

Myth no 3: No conspiracy by the Gujarat government; post-Godhra violence was a spontaneous reaction
Truth: “A key state minister is reported to have taken over a police control room in Ahmedabad on the first day of the carnage, issuing directions not to rescue Muslims in danger of being killed.”
“Voter lists were also reportedly used to identify and target Muslim community members”
Source: Report of Human Rights Watch, April 2002, Vol. 14, No. 3(C). Available here

Myth no 4: Modi allowed a fair prosecution of those accused in rioting and hence even his cabinet colleague Mayaben Kodnani was convicted
Truth: “The modern day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.”
“Law and justice become flies in the hands of these “wanton boys”. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice. Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments.”
“From the facts stated above, it appears that accused wants to frustrate the prosecution by unjustified means and it appears that by one way or the other the Addl. Sessions Judge as well as the APP (Shri Raghuvir Pandya, the public prosecutor in this case at the time was a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contested elections from Ward 20, Vadodara in the 1996 Corporation Elections on a BJP ticket!)  have not taken any interest in discharge of their duties.”
Source: Supreme Court in Zahira Habibulla H Sheikh And Anr vs State Of Gujarat And Ors on 12 April, 2004 CASE NO.: Appeal (crl.) 446-449 of 2004. Available here

Myth no 5: Narendra Modi never justified post-Godhra killings
Truth: “Responding to queries regarding various statements attributed to him by the media, Mr Modi denied citing Newton’s law. Nor had he spoken of “action-reaction”; he had wanted neither the action (at Godhra) nor the subsequent reaction. When we cited footage in Zee to the contrary (Annexure 4A), there was no reaction from Mr Modi”
Source: Editors Guild Fact Finding Mission Report dated 2002. Available here

Myth no 6: Narendra Modi speaks only about development in his speeches. Even after 2002 riots, his speeches were never laced with communal poison
Truth: Narendra Modi’s reported speech: “For several months, the opposition has been after me to resign. When I did, they did not know what to do and started running to Delhi to seek Madam’s help. They realised that James Michael Lyngdoh, the Election Commissioner of India, is their only saviour.Some journalists asked me recently, ”Has James Michael Lyngdoh come from Italy?” I said I don’t have his janam patri, I will have to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Then the journalists said, ”Do they meet in church?”. I replied, ”Maybe they do.” James Michael Lyngdoh came and visited Ahmedabad and Vadodara. And then he used asabhya basha (indecent language) with the officials. Gujaratis can never use such language because our rich cultural heritage does not permit it. Then he gave a fatwa ordering that the elections can’t be held. I want to ask him: he has come to this conclusion after meeting only members of the minority community. Are only minority community members citizens of India? Are majority community members not citizens of this country? Is the constitutional body meant only for the minority community? Did he ever bother to meet the relatives of those killed in the Godhra carnage? Why didn’t he meet them? Why didn’t he ask them whether the situation was conducive for polls? Why? James Michael Lyngdoh ( says it slowly with emphasis on Michael), the people of Gujarat are posing a question to you.”
Source: Reported speech of Narendra Modi, September 30, 2002. Available here

Myth no 7: Narendra Modi never applied for a US Visa (when it came to light that he was denied one)
Truth: “The Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Mr. Narendra Modi, applied for a diplomatic visa to visit the United States. On March 18, 2005, the United States Department of State denied Mr. Modi this visa under section 214 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act because he was not coming for a purpose that qualified for a diplomatic visa. Modi’s existing tourist/business visa was also revoked under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa to the United States. The Ministry of External Affairs requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa. Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision.” This decision applies to Narendra Modi only. It is based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department’s detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.”
Source: Statement by David C. Mulford, US Ambassador to India, March 21, 2005. Available here

Myth no 8: Vajpayee never asked Modi to observe “Rajdharma”, did not rap him for 2002 riots
Truth: “In comments which appeared to back criticism of the state authorities, Mr Vajpayee said he would speak to political leaders about allegations that they had failed to do their job. “Government officials, political leaders, need to respond to the task. The constitution guarantees equal rights for all,” he said.The state government is controlled by the BJP, and the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, has come in for particular attack over the way the authorities reacted to the violence. At the Shah Alam camp in Gujarat’s commercial capital, Ahmedabad, Mr Vajpayee said that the Godhra attack was “condemnable” but what followed was “madness”. “The answer to madness is not madness,” he said in an emotional speech.”The duty of our government is to protect the property, life and honour of everybody… there is no scope for discrimination,” he said in an apparent reference to allegations that local officials had turned a blind eye to the killings.”
Source: Vajpayee says riots “shameful” – BBC News report April 4th 2002. Available here

Myth no 9: It’s not sheer opportunism that well-known Modi-baiters like Smriti Irani, have today become his cheerleaders
Truth: “Smriti Irani who unsuccessfully contested from Delhi’s Muslim-dominated Chandni Chowk constituency in the April-May parliamentary elections, blamed Modi for BJP’s recent electoral reverses. “Whenever people mention Gujarat they only talk about the riots and try to corner the Gujaratis on the issue. So, in order to maintain the respect that I have for Atalji and the BJP, I won’t hesitate to take this step( of going on a fast to seek Modi’s removal) ,” she said.”
Source: Times of India report dated December 12, 2004. Available here

These myth-busters took me just one hour to compile. So it’s quite surprising that none of the stalwarts who interviewed Modi, (some of whom saw the events of 2002 unfold in front of their very own eyes), never counter-questioned him further and exposed the glaring gaps in his “rebuffed” narrative. Much like Smriti Irani, I guess, each night they must be saying to themselves “Hey Ram”….


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Gujarat – A Look In The Mirror #Sundayreading #NOMOre_2014

Two academics hold Gujarat up against other states to see if it grew more in the Modi decade than in the preceding 20 years
<b>Gujarat shining?</b> The state’s growth is neither universal nor exceptional

Gujarat shining? The state’s growth is neither universal nor exceptional
Magazine | 31 March 2014

Maitreesh Ghatak, Sanchari Roy

The forthcoming election, it seems, will be fought mainly on issues of governance and economic performance. To the extent there is a focus on the personalities involved, such as Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal or potential ‘Third Front’ candidates such as Nitish Kumar or Mamata Banerjee, most of the discussion is about their economic track record or lack thereof. This is a welcome development. However, in the grand theatre of Indian politics, facts often take a backseat to slogans, and opinions get sharply polarised. For example, we either hear that Gujarat’s economic performance has been nothing short of miraculous due to the magic touch of Modi or that Gujarat’s so-called growth story is all hype and a PR campaign aimed at covering up a dark underbelly of poverty, inequality and low levels of human development indicators.

A lot of this debate reflects disagreements about two sets of issues. First, there are many dimensions of economic performance—we could look at the level of per capita income, the growth rate of per capita income, human development indices (HDI) that put weight on not only income but also on non-income measures like education and health, the level of inequality, percentage of people below the poverty line, and many others. Which index we choose to emphasise reflects either our preferences as to the aspect of economic performance we value the most, or our views as to which dimension has to be improved (say, per capita income) for bettering the dimension we care about (say, poverty alleviation).

Secondly, even if we focus on one particular dimension of economic performance, how do we attribute changes in this dimension to the role of a specific leader? For example, how do we isolate the contribution of Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar to the growth of Gujarat and Bihar, respectively, in the 2000s, especially as the country as a whole experienced a growth spurt in this period?

Therefore, the first issue is how to separate the leader’s contribution from other factors driving his or her state’s performance, for example, a general improvement in the economic environment of the country that benefits all states. The solution to this problem is to calculate the difference between the growth rate of the state for the years this leader was in power and the average growth rate of the rest of the states during the same period of time. If this difference is positive, then it is safe to say that the state under this leader grew faster than the rest of the country.

However, this is not enough. What if the state in question was always growing faster than the rest of the country? How can we then isolate the specific role of this leader?

To give an analogy, to show that a company’s performance under a new CEO has improved, it is not sufficient to show that the performance of the firm has been above average rel­ative to that of other firms after the new CEO took over, as it is possible that this firm was already ahead of others. Sim­ilarly, if we find that a firm beat its past record under the new management, we cannot automatically attribute this to the CEO, as it is possible that all firms performed better in this period due to positive changes in the economic environment. To claim that this CEO had a transformative impact on the firm, we need to show not only that this firm stayed ahead of other firms after he took over but that its performance margin relative to other firms improved significantly under him.

Thus, returning to the example of Modi, in order to claim that his leadership had a significant impact on Gujarat’s economic performance, it is not enough to show that the state did better than the rest of India after he came to power in 2001. We have to demonstrate that the gap between Gujarat’s performance and that of the rest of India actually increased under his rule. This is a statistical method called ‘differences in differences’. It is routinely used to evaluate the performance of organisations under a particular management or the effectiveness of a particular government policy.

Turning to evidence, we look at the following key indices of economic performance—level of per capita income, its growth rate, HDI, inequality and the percentage of population below the poverty line—for the major Indian states. All through, we have focused on the major 16 states in terms of population. The larger a state, the harder it is to achieve improvements in per capita average economic indicators. Therefore, comparing a large state like Uttar Pradesh and a small one like Nagaland can be misleading; it is better to compare like with like. However, we have to keep in mind that even among the major states, turning around a state with a larger population is a harder task.

We begin by looking at the most obvious economic indicator—the level of per capita income. In terms of average per capita income ranking of states over the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s, the top three states are Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra (see Table 1). Gujarat’s average rank is 4. On the other hand, Bihar, which has been in the news lately due to its spectacular turnaround over the recent years under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, has been consistently at the bottom of this league with a rank of 16, below UP, which too has remained steady at number 15.

In terms of improving their relative ranking over the three decades, the top performers among the leading states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Between the ’80s and now, Maharashtra has moved from 3 to 1, Gujarat from 4 to 3, Kerala from 10 to 5 and Tamil Nadu from 7 to 4. Interestingly, the rise in the ranks of these four has been accompanied by the relative decline of Punjab, which went from being the very top state in the ’80s and ’90s to No. 7 in 2010. This suggests that, as in athletic races, the relative rank of a state may go up or down either due to a change in its own performance or due to a change in the rival’s performance.

Thus, to obtain a fuller picture of the economic performance of these states, we also need to consider their relative growth performances. The relative ranking at a given point of time as in Table 1 gives only a snapshot of where states stand in terms of economic performance. But as we know from athletic races, unless that point happens to be the finishing line, it is the rate at which an athlete is accelerating that determi­nes the final outcome. While there is no final finishing line in the race of economic development, the current growth performance of a state can give an indication of its potential position in the future. Is the rise in rankings of states like Maharashtra and Gujarat also matched by a faster growth rate on their part? Also, are there states that are lower down in the ranking but are growing faster than average and so can hope to improve their ranking in the future?

Table 2 documents the annual average growth rates of states which have performed better than national average (leaders) in each of the three decades. Only three states have had above average growth performance in all three decades: Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. They were joined by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Kerala in the 2000s.

Interestingly, the growth rate of Punjab, initially one of the top-ranked states in terms of per capita income level, has been below the national average in the last two decades. Thus it is not surprising that it is slipping down in rank below other faster-growing states. Bihar, on the other hand, is poised to rise up the ranks with a higher than average growth rate of per capita income in the 2000s. In a way, Bihar’s story is the opposite of Punjab’s: while it is still at the bottom of the chart in terms of the level of per capita income, it can expect to improve its rank if it maintains its recent high growth rate.

Now we come to one of the key questions. Which are the states that improved their performance in the 2000s both with respect to their past performance in the earlier two decades, and with respect to the performance of other states in the 2000s? Table 3 graphically plots the average annual growth rates of five states against the national average over time. This graph shows an interesting trend: while Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have been going neck and neck (and Haryana, which is not shown in the figure), and as already mentioned, have consistently performed above the national average, none of them has experienced a huge acceleration in growth rate in the 2000s. In contrast, Bihar, which was consistently doing worse than the national average through the ’80s and ’90s, shot up above the national average in the 2000s, converging to rates achieved by established leaders like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

To sum up, we see that Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have been among the richest states in the last three decades. In the 2000s, the big news was Punjab dropping from the top 5 and Kerala breaking into this select group. Among the rest, Maharashtra ended as the topper in the latter half of the 2000s, and Gujarat at a very respectable number 3, after Haryana. In terms of growth performance, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were the toppers over the last three decades but in the 2000s, three other states raised their game to join the list of fastest-growing states: Bihar, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. However, if any state could claim that its performance relative to the rest of India actually improved in the 2000s, that state is Bihar.

Therefore, if awards must be given, Bihar deserves the prize for the most dramatic turnaround in the 2000s. Gujarat gets credit for having steadily been on top of the league in terms of both the level of per capita income and its growth rate, but has to share the honours with Maharashtra and Haryana in that category. However, there is no evidence of any significant growth acceleration in Gujarat in the 2000s.

One could argue that it is easier to turn around a state that was at the bottom of the league like Bihar than to maintain, or to marginally improve, the performance of a state already at the top of the league, like Maharashtra, Haryana or Gujarat. After all, there is greater scope for improvement in the former case. Conversely, one could also argue that it is more challen­ging to turn around a backward state, because if it were easy, someone would have done it already. This is reinforced by the argument that Bihar is the third largest state, whereas Guj­arat’s rank is 10th in terms of population, and it is difficult to achieve sharp improvements in a larger than a smaller state.

Be that as it may, many would argue that per capita income and its growth—the indices we have considered so far—are only partial measures of economic development. Among other things, these indices ignore aspects of development that are not captured in income, for example, life expectancy or education. Nor do these take into account income inequality or the extent of poverty. Therefore, we now turn our attention to the performance of the states in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI), level of inequality and the percentage of people below the poverty line.

Table 4 highlights HDI scores of the seven states with HDI scores above the national average over the last three decades. These are Kerala, Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. Table 5, on the other hand, plots the performance of some selected states with respect to the all-India average in terms of HDI. As we would expect, Kerala’s performance is literally off the charts. Maha­rashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat,  on the other hand, appear to have been going head to head. Their trends tell an interesting story. While Gujarat’s HDI performance was above the national average in the ’80s and ’90s, it decelerated in the 2000s and came down to the national average. In contrast, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which started off at a similar level of HDI as Gujarat in the ’80s, have continued to perform better than the national average in the 2000s. Bihar, on the other hand, has consistently been below the national average, but it has made significant improvements over the last decade and shows signs of catching up to the national average.

Thus, the HDI rankings of states present a different story than their rankings of per capita income levels or growth rates, with one exception. The only state that is in the top 3 in all the rankings so far is Maharashtra. Otherwise, the top prize for HDI goes to Kerala, and “the most improved in the 2000s” prize goes to Bihar.

Next, we look at a few states’ ranking in terms of level of inequality (see Table 6) based on consumption expenditure. Assam and Bihar have consistently had the lowest levels of inequality according to this index. However, the state that really stands out, both in terms of relative ranking and absolute decline in inequality, is Rajasthan. Between the early ’80s and late 2000s, Rajasthan’s relative ranking improved from 15th to third, while its inequality measure fell by 14 per cent, the largest decline for any state. On the contrary, states that are leaders on the growth dimension are found to perform worse on inequality. For example, it’s evident from Table 7 that while inequality in Gujarat was lower than the national average in the ’80s and ’90s, it actually rose to levels above the national average in the 2000s. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, too, have consistently recorded higher levels of inequality than the rest of India, with Kerala showing a sharp spike in the 2000s.

Lastly, we consider the percentage of population below the poverty line (see Table 8). We find that Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala, Gujarat, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have consistently had lower levels of poverty than the all-India average. Gujarat’s performance in poverty reduction over the years has been similar to that of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. However, if we look at improvements in performance over the last decade, then Tamil Nadu is one of the top performers. Starting from a level of poverty that was higher than the national average in 1983, it ended up at a much lower level, similar to those of Gujarat, AP and Kerala, in 2009 (see Table 9). Bihar, although well above the national average in terms of poverty levels all through the three decades, has shown a sharp improvement over the last decade.

Is there, then, a clear answer to the question we had started with: did Gujarat truly outshine otherstates in the 2000s in terms of economic development? If we simply look at the figures, four facts will jump out: first, Bihar has improved the most in the 2000s, even though it has been at the bottom of the list for all indicators and still has a fair distance to go before it can go above the national average; second, Kerala has far outpaced other states in terms of HDI all through; third, Rajasthan was the star performer in terms of reducing inequality; and fourth, Maharashtra and Gujarat have consis­tently been top performers in terms of per capita income and its growth, with Haryana and Tamil Nadu deserving mention too. All these achievements are noteworthy but it is hard to single out any state as the top performer in the 2000s.

To the extent this assessment goes against the view held by many people independent of their political leanings that Gujarat has done spectacularly well under Mr Modi, the explanation lies in our ‘differences in differences’ app­roach.

In particular, this is what we tried to figure out: did a state that has for a long time been one of the most developed states in terms of per capita income, and was already improving at a rate higher than the rest of the country, accelerate further and significantly increase its growth margin under Modi’s stewardship? Our analysis shows that this did not happen. Both Maharashtra and Gujarat improved upon an already impressive growth trajectory in the 2000s, but the margin of improvement was too small to be statistically meaningful. So while Gujarat’s overall record is undoubtedly very good all through the last three decades, its performance in the 2000s does not seem to justify the wild euphoria and exuberant optimism about Modi’s economic leadership.

Of course, it is possible that there are trends that this evidence cannot capture. Maybe with a longer time horizon, the effects of some of Modi’s policies will show up in the evidence, although given that he is now in his fourth consecutive term of power, this argument is not very strong. It is also possible that if Modi comes to power at the Centre, he may well achieve a turnaround of the Indian economy due to his governance style. All that is possible in theory, but the existing evidence is insufficient to support these views.

As John Maynard Keynes had famously said in the context of stockmarket bubbles, often our decisions to do something, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be “taken as the result of animal spirits”—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction or rational calculation. In politics, too, maybe it is animal spirits that rule, not rational calculations based on statistical evidence. However, while election campaigns are run on slogans and sentiments, good governance depends on facts and figures. Bubbles eventually burst, waves of euphoria recede. At some point, the numbers need to add up.

By Maitreesh Ghatak and Sanchari Roy

(Maitreesh Ghatak is Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics; Sanchari Roy is a research associate at the Department of Economics, University of Warwick, UK.)

Read more here —

Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

Top myths about Muslims

I am a Muslim not a Commodity

I am a Muslim not a Commodity (Photo credit: Edge of Space)


Tanweer Alam | Mar 21, 2014, 12.05 AM IST




It’s absolutely untrue that benefits of economic development have bypassed Indias largest minority

As the 2014 general elections draw close, all major political parties have been vociferously showing their concern for Muslims and competing to woo the Muslim voter. Even BJP is trying to win them, using tokenism and stereotyped gestures. In the current milieu, some myths about Muslims are in circulation.

One myth concerns their voting behaviour. It assumes that Muslims are a homogenous community. They vote en bloc in favour of a party. A section of Muslims believes the community vote brings Congress to power. A section of the majority community too harbours this delusion.

The fact is that the Indian Muslim community is as diverse as Indian society. Religion unites as much as caste, sect, region and trade divide them. These divisions make them fit into the plural, diverse patterns of Indian life.

A majority of Muslims live in states such as UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala that have a strong presence of regional parties. Congress figures only in the third or fourth position in these states. In these states, a majority of Muslims vote for regional parties. In states such as Assam and Andhra Pradesh, Muslim voting for Congress has come down.

According to the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, more than 70% of Muslim votes go to Congress in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Delhi where the contest is bipolar, between Congress and BJP.

In states where the contest is multipolar and Congress is in number two or three position, or the junior partner, Muslim votes for Congress come down to 30%. A majority of Muslim votes are fragmented and go to different political parties, reflecting their local and class interests. It is evident from this that no party can take the Muslim vote for granted.

In the 2014 parliamentary elections, they are likely to vote for the best-placed candidate to defeat BJP nationally. In 2009, Muslim votes started to come back to Congress in UP. They voted for Samajwadi Party and BSP also in almost equal proportions. There is a ray of hope for Congress in UP in the post-Muzaffarnagar situation, where Muslims may largely vote for Congress and BSP.

AAP is a new phenomenon and Muslims are still sceptical. The AAP agenda does not fully reflect their hopes and fears. For Muslims, communalism is a much bigger issue than corruption.

There is another myth, largely among Muslims, that they have not benefited from economic development. It is nobody’s argument that a lot has been done for Muslims by succeeding governments. However, it is not the case that nothing has been done for them.

Since Independence, the state’s approach to the rights of religious minorities has proved inadequate in promoting inclusion. Despite constitutional safeguards and stark backwardness of the Muslim community, it has been kept out of the purview of affirmative action policies, except for a small number of Muslims in the OBC category.

Their issues were limited to protection of religious identity and security. But over the last decade a noticeable shift has occurred in political thinking regarding minorities, and many policy initiatives have been taken to empower them. The Sachar Committee report was one such landmark step.

In pre-Sachar days, talking about Muslims meant ‘appeasement’. Sachar gave an atmosphere in which pluralism and diversity could be acceptable socially and legally. In the wake of Sachar’s recommendations, many welfare programmes were started for Muslims, yielding substantial improvement in some areas.

As per latest data by HRD ministry, enrolment of Muslim children at elementary level has risen to 13% from 8% in 2006-07. The refrain about no benefit having reached Muslims is obviously untrue.

As per government data, the flow of priority sector credit to minorities during 2012-13 reached Rs 1,71,960 crore, which was more than 15% of total priority sector lending.

Many studies found problems in the delivery mechanism of minority welfare schemes during the 11th plan. In the 12th plan a focused strategy has been adopted, making blocks instead of districts the basic unit for planning and implementing these schemes. Now that an area-specific approach has been adopted, benefits should go directly to minority-concentrated villages where a substantial number of Muslims live. Bottlenecks are now being identified and the delivery system is being streamlined. Amid all this, nobody can honestly claim that benefits of economic development have bypassed Muslims.

Finally, there is a misunderstanding among some people, mainly Muslims, that preservation of secularism is the exclusive responsibility of Muslims. This certainly is not the case. India is secular not because Muslims want it to be so, but because this country has evolved over millennia in a way that religion and its practice have been left out of the domain of the state.

This is reflected in India’s Constitution. It is relevant to note that Europe did not become secular to accommodate Jews, Muslims or Buddhists, but to protect people from sectarian strife within Christianity. US secularism has similar origins. India too is secular because of Hindus, not Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or Parsis.

Nehru’s idea of nationalism was based on a shared historical past and a future project of common development. This idea still holds good. It is a broad reflection of Congress thinking and a tradition of accommodation and synthesis that stretches back to a hoary past.

Read mor ehere —


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

What if Modi becomes premier? #NaMo #Feku


By Fr. Cedric Prakash
Ahmedabad:As a Christian and particularly a Jesuit priest, I take stands and believe that while being open to dialogue and reason, one has to be unequivocal about what one stands for. So, I take a stand against politicians or political parties that are sectarian, corrupt, casteist and above all those who indulge in the criminalization of society.

I do not espouse any political party. All have their own drawbacks. A reality check would show that each one has failed the people of India in some way or another, especially the poor and the marginalized, either because of their particular ideology or because they have catered to a particular class or caste.

All this brings to mind the powerful words of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) in which he condemns “the economy of exclusion and inequality” and “a financial system which rules rather than serves”.

We have to accept that genuine fears and anxieties exist about Narrndra Modi, the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate and three-time chief minister of Gujarat becoming prime minister, after the general election due in May.

However let me clarify some matters about Modi and his rule in Gujarat.

Myth 1: Modi is a development man

This cannot be further from the truth. Gujarat has always been a developed state from the time it was carved out of Bombay state in 1960. Economic indicators clearly show that Gujarat under Modi has been ‘worse off’ than under previous governments (even the BJP one before him).

The fact is that foreign direct investment in Gujarat has taken a severe beating in the last few years and even local investment is far below what is being flaunted. Regarding social indicators, Gujarat fares poorly.

A UNICEF report published in 2013 says social development in the state has not kept pace with economic development; almost every second child in Gujarat under five years old is undernourished, while three quarters are anemic.

Myth 2: The Gujarat carnage is a thing of the past and Modi has been given a “clean chit”

Many believe the courts exonerated Modi of involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim riots in 2002. The hard facts are, however, very different. First of all, no court has given Modi a clean chit.

True, there is a Special Investigation Team (SIT) report that says there is not enough evidence against Modi.

But this has been challenged, with the petitioner Zakhia Jafri being given leave by Ahmadabad magistrates to question the merits of the SIT report in a higher court.

Raju Ramchandran, appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae for many of the Gujarat riot cases, asserts that there is enough evidence to prosecute Modi on several counts with regard to the violence in 2002, in which more than 1,000 people died.

Modi has neither shown any remorse nor taken responsibility for the killing of innocent people under his watch. The least a chief minister could have been expected to do was to enforce law and order and protect the life and property of every citizen in his state. That he ignored this responsibility, there is no doubt among many. That he has denigrated minorities has been documented by the print and the electronic media.

Myth 3: Modi has “made up” with the minorities

There are some claiming to be representatives of minority Christian and Muslim communities who sing Modi’s praises.

A careful analysis indicates these people have vested interests, especially in business, and are not really interested in their community or what is happening to minorities in the country.

In 2003 Modi introduced an anti-conversion law and established rules to govern the implementation of this law in 2008.

It is perhaps one of the most draconian laws in the history of democratic India. It forbids a citizen from converting to another faith unless she/he has permission from civil authorities.

Even now, police and intelligence officers constantly visit Christian institutions and Christians in general, making all kinds of inquiries and demanding to check baptism registers and other records.

Myth 4: Modi is not corrupt

In May 2012, anti-corruption campaigners Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal visited Gujarat. They came away declaring it the most corrupt state in the country. Why they have not continued to highlight corruption in Gujarat is anyone’s guess.

Several years ago, the Tata Motor Company was allowed to establish a plant to build the “world’s cheapest car” in Gujarat with surprising ease, flouting every rule in the book and even the state’s industrial policy.

It is alleged that the Adani Company controls the price of compressed natural gas, amassing huge profits. In addition, the role of the Ambanis in mega projects in Gujarat is being questioned. The way environmental laws are flouted and the terrible ecological degradation that is taking place all over the state, all point to the fact that corruption is alive and kicking in Gujarat.

Another indicator is the way land has been handed to big corporations, displacing thousands of small farmers across the state. There have been huge protest rallies, but they were not covered by a media, which by and large seems to have been muzzled in Gujarat.

These four myths provide an insight into the grim reality in Gujarat under the leadership of Modi. No one really knows if he will become prime minister. But India deserves better leaders. Indian politics revolves around regional parties. As of now, the BJP has practically no allies from several states. Most regional parties are obviously waiting to see which party will emerge as the single largest party in the 2014 elections.

Fr Cedric Prakash SJ is the director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.

Read more here —

Related posts

‘Anti-Rape Underwear’ reinforces every Rape Myth #WTFnews #Vaw

Think Progress / By Tara Culp-Ressler

The line includes several different types of underwear and shorts that are intended to be difficult for a sexual predator to remove.
November 6, 2013  |


A company named AR Wear is making waves by marketing “a clothing line offering wearable protection for when things go wrong.” The line includes several different types of underwear and shorts that are intended to be difficult for a sexual predator to remove, and the founders explain that could help women feel safer when they’re “going out on a blind date, taking an evening run, ‘clubbing,’ traveling in unfamiliar countries, and any other activity that might make one anxious about the possibility of an assault.” AR Wear has currently raised about half of its $50,000 fundraising goal on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo.
It’s fairly clear that AR Wear’s founders have the best of intentions. In a press release about the crowdfunding campaign, they explain that they want to help women reclaim control over what happens to their bodies. And on theirIndieGoGo site, they note that as long as sexual predators are still out there, it’s important to protect women from them.
Nonetheless, their effort has been widely criticized, derided as a new type of chastity belt for the “modern rape victim.” That’s not because people are opposed to preventing rape, of course — it’s because AR Wear seems to be missing a few crucial points about the reality of sexual assault. Here’s what the campaign gets wrong:
1. Rape isn’t an accident.
From the onset, the tagline of AR Wear’s campaign signals that this isn’t exactly the right framing for effectively tackling sexual assault. Marketing anti-rape underwear “for when things go wrong” suggests that sexual assault is an accident, or simply a night of partying gone sour. It subtly frames the incident in terms of the victim’s bad luck rather than in terms of the perpetrator’s decision to rape. In fact, sexual assault isn’t a slip-up; it’s a crime that a rapist has consciously committed.
“A woman or girl who is wearing one of our garments will be sending a clear message to her would-be assailant that she is NOT consenting. We believe that this undeniable message can help to prevent a significant number of rapes,” AR Wear notes. That’s not exactly right, either. Extensive research has shown that the people who commit rape aren’t simply confused about whether or not their victim consented. Rapists typically carefully select their victims and use a variety of tactics to manipulate them in order to accomplish their goal of sexual assault. In fact, especially when it comes to date rape, it’s often the victims who are confused about what constitutes consent, and that’s how the rapist gets away with it.
2. Rape doesn’t typically occur among strangers whom women encounter at clubs.
AR Wear’s product totally obscures the reality of date rape or intimate partner violence — which actually comprises the majority of sexual violence in this country. Of course, some women are the victims of random violent crimes. But most women aren’t raped by strangers who accost them while they’re jogging or out dancing. According to RAINNnearly 75 percent of rape victims are assaulted by someone they know. Anti-rape underwear doesn’t seem so helpful for the women who grow to trust a partner before he ends up raping them.
AR Wear’s IndieGoGo campaign notes that the “work of changing society’s rape culture” still needs to move forward — but the myth that date rape is some kind of lesser version of sexual assault, or that it’s somehow less serious or less violent than stranger rape, actually contributes to unhealthy societal assumptions about sexual crimes.
3. White, pretty girls aren’t the only ones at risk of sexual assault.
AR Wear’s campaign doesn’t explicitly address race. But the founders of the clothing line still sent some clear messages about the type of women who need to be protected from the strangers lurking in the bushes waiting to rape them. Although there are a few stock photos of women of color at the beginning of the video, the vast majority of the women who appear — and every single woman who actually speaks — is a slim, pretty white woman. They all fit mainstream society’s conventional standards about what is considered to be beautiful and desirable.

That’s a subtle dynamic, but it furthers a dangerous myth about rape: The idea that it’s about sexual desire. In fact, rape doesn’t happen because men are wildly attracted to beautiful women, even though that’s been society’slongstanding approach to female sexuality. Rape is about power and entitlement. That’s why teaching women to cover up isn’t actually an effective rape prevention strategy.
Purity and whiteness have also typically been linked in our culture. Society has a troubled relationship with black women’s sexuality, and tends to portray women of color as inherently promiscuous. That ultimately means they’re assumed to be at less risk for sexual assault. Our deeply-ingrained rape culture typically eschews the idea that promiscuous women can beraped — since they must have “asked for it.”
4. It’s misleading to suggest there are simple steps women can take to guarantee they won’t be raped.
AR Wear’s founders acknowledge that their new line of underwear won’t put an end to all sexual assaults. “No product alone can solve the problem of violence against women,” they note. But putting forth this type of product in the first place suggests that there are small steps every woman can take to mitigate her risks. It’s understandable that many people are eager to help women feel safer. That’s arguably why so many well-intentioned public figures continue to tell women to drink less, hoping that advice will help protect them.
But every time we tell women that they should take another precaution to keep themselves safe — wear more clothing, stop drinking as much alcohol, watch their drink carefully, and don some anti-rape underwear — we’re furthering the fundamental premise upon which rapeculture rests. As Slate’s Amanda Hess notes, “Rape is a societal problem, not a self-help issue.” Even if women follow all the instructions that are given to them, that still won’t necessarily prevent them — or other women — from being victimized. It will simply end up laying the blame at their feet if they do fall victim to a sexual crime, since they’ll wonder what more they could have done to protect themselves.
5. We already know about some very effective strategies to prevent rape; we’re just not implementing them.
Of course, this isn’t to say we’re all powerless in the face of the global sexual assault epidemic. There are very real ways to tackle rape culture. Sexual assault prevention advocates believe that it starts with comprehensive sex education, to help educate kids about how to recognize when someone is violating their consent. And when kids age, the education campaigns should continue. College activists are attempting to implement more bystander intervention programsto teach students how to get involved when they see something that might turn into a sexual assault. Strong criminal justice policies that make it easier for victims to report crimes, and that actually hold the perpetrators accountable for those crimes, are another important area ripe for policy change.
It’s easier to develop products like anti-rape underwear than it is to take on theactual roots ofrape culture. It’s easier to raise awareness about sexual assault than it is to actually implement the right policies to prevent it. It’s easy to have good intentions. But it’s also largely unhelpful when it comes to advancing the real goal of creating a world that’s safe for women.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts

World Mental Health Day- You know the facts or believe the Myths ? #mustread

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Every year on 10th of October, The World Health Organization joins in celebrating the World Mental Health Day. The day is celebrated at the initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and WHO supports this initiative through raising awareness on mental health issues using its strong relationships with the Ministries of health and civil society organizations across the globe. WHO also develops technical and communication material and provides technical assistance to the countries for advocacy campaigns around the World Mental Health Day.

The theme of World Mental Health Day in 2013 is “Mental health and older adults”.

Mental Healthcare in India

There are only 5000 mental health professionals in India.

One in five people in India live with a mental illness.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries like India devote less than 1% of their health budgets to mental health compared to 10%, 12%, 18% in other countries.

While there are as many as two crore (20 million) Indians suffering from mental illnesses, the country has only 3,500 psychiatrists and 1,500 psychiatric nurses to treat them.

Medical Statistics states that one in four people globally experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. In India prevalence of mental disorders is six to seven percent for common mental disorders and about two percent for severe mental disorders.

The Government of India has also introduced The Mental Health Care Bill 2013 in Parliament on 19 August 2013. The bill seeks to safeguard the right to access mental healthcare, right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and right to equality.

Some commonly myths that relate to mental illness are below, along with the facts:

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: Most people with mental illness are not violent; only 3%-5% of violent acts are committed by individuals living with a serious mental illness; people with severe mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence than the general population.

Myth: People who go to a psychologist/psychiatrist  are  mad

Fact: People come to see a psychiatrist for many reasons. Some people have severe mental illnesses whereas some people are simply having trouble coping with the many stresses of modern life. Most people who see a psychologist/psychiatrist are simply trying to find ways to cope better with difficult feelings or behaviours and see psychiatric treatment as an opportunity to improve their lives.

Myth: People with mental health needs are weak and they cannot tolerate any kind of stress and are unable to hold a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as others.Mental health problems have nothing to do with being weak and many people need help to get better. There are many factors that contribute tomental health problems including biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, and injury. Life experiences, such as trauma, or a history of abuse, a family history of mental health problems, can all serve as contributory factors. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. Many people with mental health problems are highly active members of our communities, therefore you may know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?

Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual; and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with multiple support systems during the healing and recovery process.

Myth: Children cannot be depressed.

Fact: Young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: I can’t do anything for person with a mental health problem.

Fact: Friends and family can be important support systems, to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help

  • Being available to listen to them and their stories
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by labels such as “crazy” or “mad”

Myth: It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.

Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mentalhealth problems. Identifying the vulnerable and encouraging help-seeking goes a long way in preventing mental illness.

Myth: One needs to take medicines for life and mental illnesses are not cure able

Fact: Sometimes medicine might not be necessary and only therapy can help. Medication may be necessary for controlling the initial stages of mentalillness. It is not necessary that medication used is habit forming. Mentalillnesses are manageable, just as one manages diabetes. There are people like Abraham Lincoln and John Nash who have been successful in their respectable fields, despite their illness.

Myth: Marriage will resolve everything: “Shaadi kara do; sab theek ho jayega”

Fact: Marriage does not resolve or cure mental illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries like  India devote less than 1% of their health budgets to mental health compared to 10%, 12%, 18% in other countries.



Befrienders India – National Association 
c/o Sneha, 11 Park View Road
600 028


Lifeline Foundation 
17/1A Alipore Road
Sarat Bose Road
700 027
Hotline: +91 33 2474 4704
Hotline: +91 33 2474 5886
Hotline: 2474 5255

A-4, Tanwar View, CHS,
Plot NO – 43, Sector 7
400 701
Contact by:
Hotline: +91 22 2754 6669
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 09:00 – 21:00

255 Thyagumudali Street

Hotline: +91-413-339999
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 14:00 – 20:00

1-8-303/48/21 Kalavathy Nivas,
Sindhi Colony
S.P. Road
500003 A.P.

Hotline: +91 40 7904646
E-mail Helpline: [email protected]
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 11:00 – 21:00

B12 Nilamber Complex
H.L. Commerce College Road
380 006
Hotline: +91 79 2630 5544
Hotline: +91 79 2630 0222

11 Park View Road
(Near Chennai Kaliappa Hospital)
R.A. Puram
600 028

Hotline: +91 (0) 44 2464 0050
E-mail Helpline: [email protected]
24 Hour service: 

The Samaritans Sahara 
Sir J-J. Road
Byculla Bridge
400 008

Hotline: +91-22-2307 3451
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 15:00 – 21:00
 Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 21:00

1 Bhagwandas Lane
Aradhana Hostel Complex
110 001
Contact by: Face to Face  – Phone  – Letter: 
Hotline: 2338 9090
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri: 14:00 – 22:00
 Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 22:00

MAITHRI – Cochin 
Ashirbhavan Road
Ernakulam Kochi
682 018

Hotline: +91 239 6272
E-mail Helpline: [email protected]
 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10:00 – 20:00


Enhanced by Zemanta

Related posts