News Wrap


While farmer suicides in India have declined, the number of suicides among agricultural labourers have gone up. Farmer suicides in 2016 have fallen to 6351 from 8007 in 2015, which is a drop by 21%. Agricultural labour suicides have increased by about 10% from 4595 farm labour suicides in 2015, rising to 5019 in 2016. Government figures are available up to 2016 only. Earlier figures for suicides in the "farming sector", included farmers and farm labourers. States with a high number of farmer suicides, have also witnessed a high number of farm labour suicides. In Gujarat, while farmer suicide figures have reduced by about 50% in 2016, the state records 378 labour suicides in 2016, as against just 244 in 2015. Farmer suicides have increased marginally in Karnataka, but farm labour suicides have more than doubled between 2015 and 2016. Punjab has 22 farmer suicides in 2016, against 100 in 2015. Haryana witnessed 91 farmer suicides in 2016, against 28 in 2015. The agricultural sector points to overall distress. The suicide pattern among agricultural labour in 2016, has followed the same pattern among farmers. The states which have recorded high farmer suicides, have recorded high agricultural labour suicides as well.

Women Migrants
Within India, the number of women migrating for jobs elsewhere is increasing. It has been on the rise over the past three decades in rural and urban areas. At the same time, the ratio of adult male migrants to adult male population has decreased. Primarily for economic reasons and better employment, Indian women are travelling more within the country often alone and at a higher rate than men. Massive migration to the existing urban centres, is leading to demographic growth and labour market integration. The National Sample Survey (49th NSS round), indicates that 38.2% of urban women were migrants in 1993, rising to 45.6% female migration in 2008 (64th NSS round). For men, it increased from 23.9% to 25.9%, over the same period. Migration of women has gone up over the past three decades, both in rural and urban areas, attributable to economic factors. The percentage of women, aged 20-24 years, married before the age of 18, has reduced from 47% in 2005-06, to 27% only in 2015-16. A large percentage of women at the bottom of the economic ladder work as domestic help, whose demand has gone up, with the increase in work participation rate among middle and upper class women.

Single male migration, driven by poverty and other push factors, has gone down. Improving the gender ratio among the migrants, implies there is an increase in family migration at higher income and skill levels. A lot of the migration has been for marriage, and now the migration also means women marrying across districts. Certainly in the past two decades, there is a leap in the number of women travelling for work, and migrating and taking up any odd job. There is a concern over not including work done by women in the Indian economy, and their low participation. As of June 2018, about 25% of India's workforce is female. It is estimated that a 10% increase to that, could add $770 billion to India's Gross Domestic Product, in the next seven years.

Children in Military camps
United States is sheltering around 20,000 migrant children, on four American military bases, as federal officials struggled to carry out US President Donald Trump's order to keep immigrant families together, after they are apprehended at the border. The 20,000 beds at bases inĀ  Texas and Arkansas are housing "unaccompanied alien children". Mr Trump's executive order calls to keep families together at the same location, after they illegally cross the Mexican border. Earlier, US bases have been used to house people thrown out of their homes by earthquakes and hurricanes. More than 2300 children under the age of twelve, many of whom are toddlers and infants, are being held in special "tender age" shelters. Prosecution of migrants travelling with families has been suspended, by the Border Patrol. The US Justice Department insists that there has been no change to the department's zero-tolerance policy to prosecute adults who cross US borders illegally, instead of claiming asylum at any part of entry, at the border. There are temporary tents outside ElPaso [Del Rio (South Texas)] and Torillo, Texas to house immigrant teenagers in custody. Children separated from their parents are allowed to communicate with their families by phone, twice a week. They are temporarily housed in military bases in Del Rio (Texas), Brownsuille (Texas), California and Oklahoma. A 1997 court ruling, known as the Floras settlement, requires that children must be released from the custody of immigration enforcement authorities within 20 days. After that they are to be transferred to the care of a family member or placed in the custody of licensed, government sponsored shelter for children.

Han Domination
The ethnic group Han Chinese make up more than 90% of China's population. Besides religion, one of the main reasons for Uighur unhappiness with Chinese rule, is deliberate attempt by the Chinese authorities to submerge their identity by settling millions of Han Chinese in the province that was once known as "Chinese Thirkestan". Today almost half of Xinjiang's population is Han Chinese, whereas in 1950, it was only one-fifth. The first anti-Chinese violence in Xingiang began in the late 1990s. Almost 200 people mostly Han Chinese were killed in ethnic riots in the capital, Uremqi, in 2009. Since then, there have been numerous knife, bomb and vehicle attacks on Xinjiang and in China proper. Xinjiang's 20 million people are only 2% of China's population, but the province accounts for 20% of the country's arrests. There are numerous mass detention and re-education camps. The Uighurs are much poorer than the Han new comers, and fear they will lose their identity. The co-chair of the United Nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, alleged that up to a million people belonging to the Uighur and other Muslim minority groups in China's north western province of Xinjiang, have been detained in concentration camps, to be re-educated about religion. China's Communist Party Central Committee maintains that while China was not running a "de-Islamisation" programme, "those deceived by religious extremists are assisted by resettlement and re-education". China fears that sporadic terrorist attacks that have hit cities in Xinjiang and even China proper may escalate as Islamic State, seeks to build support in other regions of the Muslim world.

Vol. 51, No.21, Nov 24 - Dec 1, 2018