News Wrap


Only 18% of those who have successfully completed courses at vocational schools in India, have regular jobs. About 60% of the successful candidates, with two-year electronics-mechanical certificate or civil works certificate, are employed as informal workers, outside the organised sector. The remaining 82%, who do not have regular jobs, mostly work as daily wagers, or double up as farm hands. At the government-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI) of Umerkote, just three students from a batch of 32 landed jobs, after completing their two-year electronics-mechanical certificate. Those entering the job market from Naba-rangpur (Orissa) are the most disadvantaged, considering that a majority of the students are tribals, from a backward belt. Those hired from placement camps, for job outside the state, experience their monthly salary of Rs 8000 promised, being cut. Nabarangpur district has just one reasonably big industrial unit in entire district. The annual fee at ITI Umerkote is Rs 2400; and Rs 5000 annually for the electronics-mechanical course. Most of the girls at the ITIs, tend to opt for courses such as sewing technology and dress making. Girls get married after the course, but have the option of starting something of their own, at home.

Patel Uprising
The caste name Patel in Gujarat means ‘‘owner of land’’. The Patidars or Patels have taken to the streets in Gujarat, demanding reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota. Notwithstanding the sense of deprivation among Patidars, companies owned by them have market capitalization of over Rs 1,00,000 crore in the Indian Stock Market. According to projections based on the 1931 caste census Patels constitute 15% of Gujarat’s 6.5 million population. Patel leaders account for 33% in the Gujarat Assembly, and 24% of the Parliamentary constituencies. Patel entrepreneurs dominate engineering tools in Rajkot and Jamnagar, dyes and chemicals in Dhoraji Naroda and Ankleshwar, tiles in Morbi, and textiles and diamond in Surat and Ahmedabad. But only up to 20% of the Patidar population can be considered prosperous.

Gujarat has about 48,000 sick units, including small and medium enterprises, which are predominantly owned by the Patels. Apart from business, the Patels have been landowners, involved in agriculture and allied activities. Agriculture has registered negative growth in 2012-13. Gujarat has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 1.2%, against the national average of 4.9%. But with rapid urbanization, the youths have aspirations of white-collar jobs. The agitation for reservation in government jobs is a result of high incidence of joblessness among the Patel community’s youth, and the stressed conditions in the local economy. Earlier the Patels spearheaded the anti-reservation movement in 1985, and argued against reservation for the OBCs. 23 years old Hardik Patel, the leader of the agitation has steered clear of politics, and has reached out to the Gujjars of Rajasthan, and Jats of Haryana, who have also been demanding reservation in government job. The Patels have not yet applied to the National Commission for Backward Classes. The OBCs constitute 22% of Gujarat’s population, against the national average of 40%. Patels believe that the ‘benefits’ are going to a very small community.

Kurdistan and Israel
In recent months, Israel has imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish north. This has provided a vital source of funds to the cash-strapped region, as it fights militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The Kurds’ ultimate objective is full-scale independence from Iraq. Israel’s imports of oil are a sign of Iraqi Kurdistan’s growing assertiveness, and the fraying of ties between Erbil and Baghdad. Trade is conducted through secret deals, brokered by some of the world’s largest oil trading companies, including Vitol and Trafigura. Oil from the Kurdish region is making into world markets, with Italy, France and Greece, also emerging as big buyers. Israeli refineries and oil companies imported more than 40 million barrels of Kurdish oil, from May to November 2015. This would be worth almost $2 billion, based on international prices over the period. The oil imports are about 77% of average Israeli demand, which runs at roughly 240,000 barrels per day. Israel imports more than a third of all the Northern Iraqi exports, which are shipped from Turkey’s port of Ceyan. Some of the oil may have been re-exported from Israel, or put into storage tanks.

Vol. 48, No. 20, Nov 22 - 28, 2015