News Wrap


Non-farm sectors have failed to provide adequate job opportunities in rural India. Although a little over 1% aspire for employment in the agriculture sector, four in five working teenagers in villages, are engaged in agricultural jobs. Findings of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 indicate that efforts by the Central and State Governments have not yielded commensurate employment opportunities of 79% of those who worked in the agricultural sector, just 1.2% aspired to work in agriculture. The government’s whole sample survey was in rural areas. Rural teenagers were mostly working on family farmland. There are not much opportunities in agriculture, which is the key sector in rural areas. In rural India barely 86% are in the formal education system, 5% in vocational courses, and about 79% working in agriculture. 25% of rural teenagers cannot read fluently, 57% struggle with 3-digit by one-digit divisions, and 76% cannot count money correctly. Only 51% of rural teenagers have deposited or withdrawn money from banks. Just 58% read newspapers.

Manipur Killings
During 2017, 98 cases were entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by a Supreme Court bench on the basis of prima facie findings by Gauhati High Court, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Justice Santosh Hegde Committee, all of which had adversely commented on the role of the police and security personnel in the killings in Manipur. The CBI has so far registered only 12 First Investigation Reports (FIRs). The earlier directive of the Apex Court was that FIRs should be registered in all the 98 cases. The CBI’s explanation was that it was examining voluminous documents and materials, and had to record the statements of various witnesses afresh. Foundational analysis establishes that a FIR needs to be registered in every single case.

Demography and Constituency
The states in India that have suceeded in family planning are ending up losing seats in parliament and the states that had not curbed reproductive profligacy are ending up increasing their numbers in parliament. The five South Indian states would see their combined share of population fall from the present level of 15% to around 12% by the middle of the 21st century. The share of only four states in India’s population is expected to increase, that of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The share of all other states is expected to almost certainly fall. The share of rising population of these four states would most likely increase from about 40% now, to about 44%, by the middle of the century. Kerala’s population is expected to peak around 39 million by 2041 and start declining thereafter. Similarly, Tamil Nadu’s population is expected to peak at about 78 million by 2041, and start declining thereafter. There is little probability that India’s population will begin to decline from 2081. Uttar Pradesh is expected to have a population of over 400 million by the middle of the century. As per latest total fertility rate trends and implications for India’s political economy, division of certain states, would become inevitable due to size and large population. The issue of delimitation of the parliamentary constituencies of populous states, can be expected to present itself by 2026, if not earlier.

Rakhine Buddhists
Al least seven ethnic Rakhine Buddhists were killed on 17 January 2017, after Myanmar police opened fire on a crowd trying to seize a government office. The demonstrators had gathered late on 16 January 2018 in Mrauk U township, in the northern part of Rakhine in Myanmar state, already scarred by ethnic and religious hatred. 5000 Buddhists had gathered for a nationalist ceremony, celebrating an ancient Buddhist Arakan kingdom, and also to mark the end of the Arakan kingdom. Dozens of ethnic groups (about 135 officially recognised), in Myanmar have been clamouring for autonomy, since independence from Britain, in 1947. Ethnic Rakhine, many of whom are poor and marginalised, have a long standing enmity with the Myanmar state, which is dominated by ethnic Bamar. Clashes occurred on the same day, that a repatriation agreement was signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh to start the return of some 655,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees, from squalid camps over the border. The United States and the United Nations have insisted on safe and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees to Rakhine.

Scheduled from 23 January 2017, the gradual repartriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, has been postponed amid widespread fears that refugees would be forced to return. While the repatriation process has to be voluntary, the paperwork for returning refugees has not yet been finalised and transit camps, had yet to be built in Bangladesh. The Myanmar authorities are not yet to give any assurance on the rights of refugees and justice, the return of looted wealth, and holding people accountable. The Rohingya Muslims have long been treated as outsiders in largely Buddhist Myanmar, derided as ‘‘Bengalis’’, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar.

XI and Mao
The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has hailed president Xi Jinping as a ‘‘lingxiu’’, as a leader in China, with the highest prestige, equating him with party founder Mao Zedong. The People’s Daily, the CPC’s flagship newspaper has sworn allegiance to Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Command (CMC). It is the first time that the news daily has referred to 64-year-old Xi as ‘‘lingxiu’’. The CPC identified Xi as the core of the party in 2016. Xi took power in 2013. He now heads the party, the military and the presidency. His name was included in the constitution of the CPC, making him the only leader, after Mao and his successor Deng Xiaoping. At the once-in-five years 19th Chinese Party Congress in October 2017, Xi’s political thought was included in the party constitution. The party has unanimously passed an amendment that added : ‘‘Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era’’, as one of the guiding principles. The 19th Party Congress of October 2017 stressed for an authoritative national supervision system to fight corruption throughout the state bureaucracy. Xi has been elevated to a level of previous leaders exemplified by Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory. Deng’s name was added after his death in 1997. 

Vol. 50, No.39, Apr 1 - 7, 2018