CAN THESE TEMPORARY MEASURES HELP DELHI? (II)

The first requirement to decongest Delhi is to draw a roadmap on how to decelerate Delhi’s population growth.

And it cannot be something like what China did while restructuring and developing Shanghai and Beijing, forcefully evicting people out of city precincts.

Delhi is magnate for people from across India because it gives best hopes to people to earn their livelihood when we compare the employment generation capacity of all the metros in India.

And that has been the major reason behind Delhi’s rapid population growth. In fact, if we see the population growth in Delhi without the migrants inflow, it comes out to be lower than the national average.

And they are most welcome. It is their Constitutional birthright to settle anywhere in India that supports their life.

So, what are the options that Delhi can adopt to decelerate population growth here.

The answer, though innovative in the Indian context, is nothing extraordinary. What policymakers need here is the vision to follow the roadmaps being followed with persistence (and patience).

Jing-Jin-Ji or Putrajaya are what India needs to look up to – in terms of what China is doing to decongest Beijing or Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur.

Jingjinji or Jing-Jin-Ji is a planned vision of China where it intends to establish a Megalopolis. China is working to develop Jing-Jin-Ji as an urban complex of superb economic growth.

But the underlying reason behind it is decongesting Beijing.

Jing-Jin-Ji, China’s National Capital Region, is going to be the answer of China’s Beijing woes – an environment nightmare. Beijing, like Delhi, is one of the most polluted cities. In fact, its notoriety precedes Delhi. Emergency alerts on extreme pollution levels have been a common feature of the city.

To tackle it, China is working on a multi-pronged strategy – developing areas in Beijing region to house industries and people – and shifting government offices out of Beijing. In fact, the municipal government of Beijing, that employs thousands of employees, is being shifted to a satellite town.

There will be infrastructure in place for industries and people to relocate, not far away from Beijing, developing the region as a whole. Once this starts happening, it will reduce population and thus the vehicular burden on Beijing.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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CAN THESE TEMPORARY MEASURES HELP DELHI? (I)

Like it is happening elsewhere, in hubs of intense economic, and thus social activities, around the world, should it not happen in India, in Delhi?

Experiments like odd-even scheme of traffic rotation or phasing out diesel taxis or putting on hold registration of diesel vehicles, are these really going to work for a city of 1.85 crore people (18.5 million) and some 9 million vehicles?

Can these short-term temporary measures work for a city that attracts some 1000 migrants daily to the city from different parts of India?

Delhi is in a mess. Years of unplanned growth has led to this – that the Indian national capital is now the most the polluted megacity on Earth.

Unplanned growth, because our policymakers never considered what should be the limit to the city’s spread – in terms of its human habitations.

Now, even the geographical extremes of the city are real estate goldmine, with hungry prospectors looking to snatch that last piece of land he or she could have.

When, ideally, for a better quality of life, and for a world class city, our policymakers should have cared for its open spaces.

And a robust public transportation system was the first need.

Well, we all know how pathetic Delhi’s public transportation is.

And its failure led to massive increase in number of private vehicles in Delhi – multiples times of any other city.

These vehicles are now a major contributor in choking Delhi’s air – along with the other major culprit, the construction boom – that is again related to the mindless growth Delhi has seen.

Reducing number of vehicles on roads drastically, as the odd-even scheme intends to do or not allowing further real estate projects or banning diesel taxis or shutting thermal power plants are not going to help until our policymakers come with something practical, that is innovative as well – at least in the Indian context.

Delhi needs to think, talk and act sense on it.

And here Delhi means our policymakers.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE IPL DROUGHT

Okay, at the face of it, let’s accept that if at all there is any rush of sentiments left for cricket, it for the national level matches, and certainly not for the club tournaments like IPL.

IPL, a highly successful brand name, has been highly controversial too – with its fair share of fixing and betting controversies and ‘spill over’ dozes of glamour and entertainment. While sitting in a stadium during an IPL game, what you come across is deafening music and silly commentary that simply dilutes the thrill of cricket.

Anyway, I am not going to look into highs and lows of IPL here.

It is about the ‘IPL drought’ controversy here – IPL drought because by continued insistence on holding the IPL matches in Maharashtra (20 in all – at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur grounds) – and thus wasting some 60 to 65 lakh litres of water water (some estimates say 70 lakh) – when the Maharashtra state government is failing to ensure even an abysmally low supply of 20 litres a day to the families in the drought affected districts – contributing thus to the misery of people already afflicted with the one of the worst drought seasons the state is witnessing – BCCI, the body governing cricket in India, is earning a bad name.

Do a simple calculation to see if it can be an eye opener for you.

The Maharashtra government has decided to supply 20 litres of water every day to each household in Latur, one of the worst drought-affected districts of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that is facing the worst drought in 100 years. But the problem is, even this supply is so erratic, once in a week or 10 days.

The 65 lakh litres of water used (wasted) by the IPL management to keep the cricket pitches up and ready for the 20 IPL games to be played in Maharashtra can supply 20 litres water to 325,000 families. To say, to argue, it is nothing, not even a day’s water supply to all families in a district like Latur with around 2.5 million people.

But, there is this big ‘but’ – with the social horror spreading in Maharashtra with thousands of farm suicides – and when the Maharashtra State Water Policy puts usage of water of purposes like IPL last in its priority list.

When some 2500 water tankers are needed in the region, the government can provide barely 100-200. The rest are privately operated. The region’s water reservoirs have water level below 5% – somewhere it is as low as 1%. There is no water for sowing. People are not able to take bath for days. Basic water needs like sanitation have become a luxury.

People are dying, they are committing suicide. According to a data-set, Maharashtra saw over 3200 farm suicides last year, while Taliban killed 3400 in the same period.

When seen in the context of all these, this use (or misuse) 65 lakh litres of water, that the BCCI says is not potable and therefore can be wasted, becomes a criminal offence.

Branding is all about strengthening your symbolic perception in people’s psyche and it happens with variety of factors – communication, action and obligation – and BCCI is failing here on all these three parameters. Its persistence on holding the Maharashtra leg of the IPL matches will associate a socially evil tag to IPL – the worst drought in Maharashtra’s history. So far, every communication coming from the BCCI camps and cricketers have only deepened the feeling that BCCI has no obligation towards the people of this country even if it claims to be the custodian of a people’s game.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

REFUGEE CRISIS: EUROPE, AND ITS PEOPLE, NEED TO GIVE THEM THAT ‘LIFE’..

Trains and the Holocaust were inseparable – and the images will haunt humanity forever.

Hitler’s Germany killed scores by stuffing them like cattle in trains and on roads in harsh weather conditions.

Trains were the final component of Nazi Party’s ‘final solution’ to ‘free humankind of ‘Jews and other unwanted races’ – as Hitler and his collaborators saw them.

Trains – that make a significant part of every Holocaust narrative – of books, of memoirs, of autobiographies, of documentaries, of movies – the Holocaust trains.

For millions who lost their lives and for millions who somehow survived – trains were the last nail in their coffin – beginning a ride to hell – ending in concentration camps.

Yes, it is nothing like that today.

The ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, the second biggest mass migration since the World War II (or since the days of the ‘final solution’) to the world’s wealthiest continent (and in the wealthiest continent) is not even remotely indicative of the inhuman ways of the Holocaust.

Except the images showing migrants being loaded into trains to stop them from entering a European nation (or European nations) – with rough treatments by Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Croatia!

And now, the ‘welcoming’ Germany too, has started showing regressive signs with closing its border and demanding ‘fair distribution’ of refugees’.

Yes, we can say the incidents were and are an aberration and the European leaders will find some solution – either in their meeting tomorrow – if they can build consensus – or in a follow-up meeting based on the outcome of the meeting tomorrow.

Yes, the images are not suggestive of those frightening years seven decades back, but they reveal, once again, a primeval mindset every human being has – that we are so easily swayed to the extent that we start disregarding the other human life as if it is non-existent.

Had it not been so, we would never have something called the Holocaust or other reasons behind assassinations and massacres.

The primeval mindset – that so easily makes us to act selfishly to the extent that we start thinking that those who are running from certain death – would start sharing some of the space shared by us – even if it doesn’t affect us in real terms – something that is happening in many countries of Europe.

Europe’s wealth can easily take care of some one million migrants including refugee from the worst humanitarian crisis hotbeds like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes, the countries need to sit and resolve nagging and divisive issues – and they must do it soon – possibly in the meeting tomorrow.

The world has already seen many bad images from a Europe that is peaceful for decades and has tried to send a message of harmony to the world by creating a unified documentation free travel zone of over 25 countries.

People, in search of life, are looking to a peaceful and financially well to do Europe to seek a passage to be able to remain alive – something that is ‘basic’ to every human civilization – and fundamental for us to remain humans.

And Europe, and its people – need to give them that ‘life’.

And yes, it is not just the responsibility of Europe. We all, in every part of the globe, must extend helping hands.

We all need to be ‘fair’ in distributing our responsibilities.

Keeping in mind the reality that we cannot do anything about partisan, irrational and selfish ways of geopolitics on international issues!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

HUMANITY HAS SURVIVED THROUGH THRESHOLDS OF HUMAN DEBASEMENT

What is the limit to one’s debasement?

What is the threshold of one’s deliberate insensitivity to hurt someone’s sensitivities?

No limit!

No threshold!

Humanity, with all its civilizations, extinct or extant, has been the aggregated reflection of individual viewpoints, morphed, modified or aligned – with changing times.

The viewpoints have been human. And there are the viewpoints that have been anti-human.

And civilizations are stories of struggles between these two types – pushed by their carriers – embodied in human beings.

Humanity has survived all along – through the thresholds of the debasement of this anti-human block that has manifested itself in varied ways since the dawn of the human civilizations – weathering direct and targeted assaults.

Surviving the fangs that know nothing but the crude blow of crushing everything to pieces.

Civilizations have seen, all along their existence, mass acts of barbarism, acts of ethnic cleansing, imperial wars, religious crusades, violent sectarian movements, terrorism and what not.

Humanity has suffered them all. And humanity will survive them all.

Though it will continue to bleed, as it has always bled!

Because human debasement has no threshold. It can mercilessly push a three year old child in an ocean to die or it can kill thousands of them in gas chambers or it can have scores of them shot in one go in the name of ‘race superiority’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES NEED TO REMOVE FENCES XENOPHOBIC SENTIMENTS

‘Europe’s Fascination with Fences’ is an interesting title for an article on refugee crisis spilling over in Europe now. The article especially pulled my attention by its title, like of many others, when I saw it in the list of chosen articles on Magzter.

Irrespective of ‘what, why and how’ in the article, the world, yes the world now, is looking at the crisis in a different light after the image of the body of a Syrian toddler washed out on a beach in Turkey went viral. The boy was from a family of four from Syria trying to migrate to Europe through Greece – the second most popular route as the article says.

Barack Obama just declared that the US will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. Germany is leading the access in Europe and the toddler’s image has forced countries so far reluctant like the United Kingdom to come forward. The day the image got out David Cameron said Britain would accept 20,000 more refugees.

Before it, Britain was in a state of ‘xenophobia’ on intensifying refugee crisis.

The image has drawn global attention and outrage over the way European countries have been handling the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II.

Because the world ‘rightly’ doesn’t expect anything of that sort from rich Arab and Middle-East monarchies.

People from the war torn countries of Middle-East and Africa are increasingly joining the way out to save their lives. Somehow escaping the guns in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria and other countries, people are heading to the countries in Europe or other nearby countries in ever increasing numbers as the war in Syria rages and as the Islamic State continues with its barbarity in Iraq and Syria – finding allies in Boko Haram in Nigeria or Al-Shabab in Somalia and so on.

It is true that there would be some economic migrants but the majority is from the lot displaced from their homes, localities, cities and countries and it is the responsibility of the humanity to open its doors for the them. After all, some one million (or even two million) cannot put strain on the wealthiest continent on Earth with around 750 million people.

They, in fact, can prove quite useful for the European countries which are facing crisis of manpower to serve their populace. Migrants (or refugees in this case), by the their ‘disconnectedness from the roots’ have noting more to lose and they, in fact, prove out to be industrious and better managed when given opportunities. Prosperous Jews are its most common example.

Fences may be a practical requirement to check illegal crossings but the European population and countries need to remove the fences that xenophobic sentiments can create/are creating in this humanitarian crisis. And as, the refugees, are responsibility of all of us, we all must reach out to them with helping hands – as the US has decided to do.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

#KIYIYAVURANINSANLIK: I DID NOT WANT TO SHARE THIS BUT..

AK-Reuters
Image Courtesy: Reuters

Yes, this one is a photograph that ‘humanity’ or the human-beings left with the conscience of ‘being human’ would desperately wish would not be there – with the reason behind it.

Yes, this one is a photograph that left me in great dilemma before I decided to share it on my website – trying to find the one with a frame composition that would look less offensive to our identities but I can say I failed in doing so.

Photographs like this deafen our souls, incinerate our whole existences and devastate the whole civilizational journey of humanity – just with a mere look at them.

We live in a world that has always been plagued with ‘humanity killing developments’ like wars, crusades, religious wars, ethnic cleansings and the Holocaust, yet this image, once again, has left us thoughtless, speechless, soulless and lifeless.

The photograph says all. Its backdrop becomes hauntingly clear just by a look at it. The photograph makes our lives beyond redemption. It puts us all, the combined human masses of the world, in the dock over a crime, once again, that humanity can never get rid of.

It rightly negates our claims of being the citizens of a civilized world.

I faced extremely troubled moments while looking at this photograph. I had to make serious efforts with my soul to draw some courage to look at it. But I knew I had to look at it. In fact, all of us need to look at it, and other images that remind us of human depravity – that how debased we have become.

European leaders say the ongoing refugee crisis is threatening the ‘idea of Europe’ but can they deflect the questions that this photograph raises?

The photograph, or the different frames of it or the video of it, is so shocking and depressing that it takes the courage of a lifetime to compose yourself to look at it – and compose yourself again after you have looked at it.

I am sharing it here because it would remind me – again and again – that it spite of all our civilized claims, multitudes of us still reek of raw animal instincts – when it comes to treating people who are not from our family – from our locality – from our community – from our region – or from our country.

I am crying and I want to cry. It is not that humanity died its first death today – but the horror that this image forces us to face cannot be explained in words.

Yes, the world, unfortunately, has layers of refugee crisis problems – in North Korea, in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, in Myanmar – in many other countries scattered across the different continents. People from these crisis hotbeds are forced to risk their lives to buy a safe life for their families.

The image sums up the horrifying situation tens of thousands of human-beings are forced to be in, seeking the shore to fix their lives, a shore that is increasingly becoming elusive.

Reports say ‘Turkish coastguards have rescued some 50000 people in Aegean Sea’, the asylum seekers in Europe, this year alone. Reports say ‘Europe is facing the biggest migrant crisis since the World War II’.

Here is an image of the three year old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi with his elder brother Ghalip shared by their aunt, Tima Kurdi, on her Facebook page. Tima is settled in Canada for long and Aylan’s family, too, was trying to move there. Aylan, Ghalip and their mother, a family from the strife-torn town Kobane in Syria, were among the 12 people who lost their lives while trying to migrate to Greece through sea-route. Later, Aylan Kurdi’s was found lifeless, lying face down, on a Turkish beach. Migrants arriving in Turkey from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and many others try to cross the Mediterranean to reach Greece that serves as the gateway for them to the European Union countries.

AK-G-TK FB
Image Courtesy: Tima Kurdi’s Facebook Page

©SantoshChaubey

BRICK KILN WORKERS: MUCH CRY BUT THE MISERY CONTINUES

A report by the International Labour Organization (Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour-ILO) on profits earned by the industries exploiting the forced labour coming from the poorest sections of the Indian ‘populations’.

The report says: “The annual revenue generated by a bonded labourer working in the brick kilns of India amounts to US$4,355. This value, when multiplied by the percentage of bonded labourers in the brick kilns, puts the annual revenue contribution of a brick-kiln bonded labourer to the total revenues generated by bonded labourers in South Asia at US$653.”

The report identifies some sectors including the brick kilns as such industries earning profits from the ‘bonded labour’. The other industries that it mentions are carpet weaving, rice and sugar cane industries.

In economically poorer regions with high unemployment, the standalone or small brick kiln operations do not operate on bonded labour but the condition is different for the larger players operating a number of kilns over a large geographical area requiring the manpower on absolutely low or almost non-existential wages or for the brick kilns operating in areas with short supply of manpower.

The forced migration of the labour due to poverty helps them in keeping their manpower in a consistent supply mode, in the ‘bonded labour’ conditions, where they extract the output mercilessly, even from the children.

Just a quick Google search with tags ‘bonded labour + brick kilns + India’ returns with a number of reports from credible research works and media outfits, right from the page-1, supporting the findings in the ILO report:

Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour – ILO – May 20, 2014 (The one that pushed to do this exercise.)

17 bonded labourers, their kids rescued from brick kiln – TNN Times News Network – May 9, 2014

Bonded labourers rescued from brick kiln – Times News Network – February 12, 2014

Why India’s brick kiln workers ‘live like slaves’ – BBC – January 2, 2014

Slave labour in Indian brick kilns – Union Solidarity International – October 9, 2013

No Bonded Labour anymore? Really? – ActionAid – May 16, 2013

A smart way to prevent bonded labour – ILO – May 3, 2013

Toddlers freed from brick kiln bondage – CNN – March 20, 2013

Bonded labour: Brick kilns biggest culprits, says report – Hindustan Times – September 8, 2012

Bonded Labour in India: Its Incidence and Pattern – ILO – 2005

And there are really too many, crying out loud, but not able to make much difference. The misery continues.

The brick kiln workers in ‘bonded conditions’ are taken in as faceless identities and they never know when they would get out. And most of them never realize the meaning of words or phrases like ‘freedom’, ‘bonded labour’, ‘slavery’, ‘labour laws’ or for that matter, ‘human rights’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BRICK KILNS: WHERE WORKERS ARE NEVER TREATED AS ‘WORKERS’

Those having the roots in rural India know it well – the brick kiln workers. What drew my attention to them was an International Labour Organization report on profits earned by the industries exploiting the poverty of the people forced to work in out of their financial misery.

The report identifies some sectors including the brick kilns as such industries earning profits from the ‘bonded labour’.

The other industries that it mentions are carpet weaving, rice and sugar cane industries.

Brick kilns are a regular feature throughout the India dotting the country’s landscape. Cities and towns have them on outskirts. And for villages, these are regulars, employing the folks from the lowest strata, the unskilled labourers.

In my childhood, I used to marvel at the efficiency of carving a simple-designed brick from the mud and heating the soil to make it a solid red-coloured block. Some of my family’s land was contracted to a brick kiln owner and I had some chances to visit there.

I used to question others why they were paid so less and why they used to live like that – soaked in dirt with no moments to take rest. And the condition has not changed much since my childhood.

It was a small operation and there was nothing like bonded labour as much as I could gather then. Yes, people working there were living in abject poverty and were ready to grab whatever earning opportunity they could have had through their physical labour.

But as I grew up and started getting the real sense of the social vulnerabilities of India’s societal formations through my associations and collaborations with some NGOs, I could gauge how deep the problem was.

Standalone or small brick kiln operations do not operate on bonded labour in economically backward regions as the labour is available but the condition is different for the larger players operating a number of kilns over a large geographical area or for brick kilns operating in areas with short supply of manpower to do this labour intensive work that badly affects the health of the workers.

Workers are still paid shamelessly low and the large operators need constant supply of cheap manpower to maintain their business on a consistent running mode.

And to ensure that, keeping the labour ‘bonded’ somehow is the ‘safest’ option for them. And given the poverty of the brick kiln workers, they get it done easily. And these mercenaries do not care if the worker is an adult or a child. The forced migration of the labour helps them in keeping a tight tab on their workforce that they never care for.

Being a ‘worker’ demands the conditions on ‘labour laws’ to be met but they are never treated as the ‘workers’. They are taken in as faceless identities and they remain so as long as they remain there, with no exit options to exercise.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SLUMS THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA WAY: NOTIFIED, RECOGNISED AND IDENTIFIED

..Though ‘slums are the places where dwellings are unfit for human habitation’ the Government of India recognises..

Recently, The Hindu had a report on India’s slum population quoting the latest Census of India figures.

Naturally, it said the slum population in India had gone up to 65 million from 52 million counted by the last Census in 2001.

Focus of the story was the slum population had a better child sex ratio of 922 girls for every 1000 boys than the urban India average of 905. It also said the average family size of 4.7 in slums was in line with the average urban family size in India.

Signs of progress! Okay, maybe, when we see the figures as pure population statistics.

But this huge growth in slum population over the decade, almost 25 per cent, belies it and cautions us to see the figures more as the signs of unplanned rapid urbanization.

‘Slums are residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation’, the report says quoting the Census of India. Now the direct corollary to this definition is the slums must not exist in a civilized world of the socialist, secular and democratic Republic that India is.

There must be efforts on war scale to undo the concept of slums! Daydreaming, isn’t it?

Okay, it cannot happen in one go and for a country like India with limited resources, it can only come in phased manner with sincere efforts spread over a period of time.

Sincere efforts, floating promises and a multiplying slum population with every count!

The government that says ‘slums are unfit for human habitation’ readily categorises slums as ‘notified’, ‘recognised’ and ‘identified’ the report says quoting the Census of India categorisation.

‘Notified’ and ‘recognised’ slums, that are unfit for human habitation according to the Census of India definition, are accorded legal status, and ‘enjoy’ some civic amenities.

‘Identified’ slums, ‘unfit as well for human habitation’ are ‘kept’ devoid of any legal sanctity though they too are recognised ‘officially’ in some form as the precondition to be categorised as an ‘identified’ slum is it has to have ‘at least 60-70 tenements with at least 300 people’ as the report says. These ‘identified slums’ are not extended ‘legal protection and municipal services’.

The catch is, according to The Hindu report based on the Census of India 2011, the largest chunk of slum population dwells in the dwellings of the ‘identified’ slums that are lowest in the ‘hierarchy’ of slums in India (where every slum is defined as ‘unfit for human habitation’).

Now, this ‘largest chunk’, one million of which are in Delhi, India’s national capital, claimed to be world-class city, cannot even ask the Government of India to provide them with that elusive sewage-line or water pipeline or electricity connections.

Human misery notified, recognised, identified the Government of India way – strangely familiar – predictably strange – in the socialist, secular and democratic Republic India that is busy discussing ‘requirement of toilets and temples in India’ these days!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/