There are two aspects to the news- knowing the headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Thirty Second Edition we are covering the following news:
- Ups and downs in two economics
- Tanishq Ad Controversy
- The world is not on track to Zero Hunger
- Bihar polls: Will the migrant crisis impact them?
- Increasing government college seats: a cure to 100% cut off?
In the latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected the Indian economy to contract 10.3% in 2020-21. But more than the sharp contraction, which has caught everyone’s attention is that Bangladesh’s real per capita GDP surpassing India’s real per capita income. It simply means the per capita income of an average Bangladeshi citizen would be more than the per capita income of an average Indian citizen. What makes the situation worse is that till five years ago India’s per capita GDP was nearly 40% higher than Bangladesh. But now, Bangladesh has overtaken India in GDP per capita.
There are some possible reasons for this such as:
The first thing is that Bangladesh’s economy has been growing rapidly since 2004. However, India grew even faster than it. But since 2017 onwards, India’s growth rate has decelerated sharply while Bangladesh’s has become even faster.
Secondly, over the period, India’s population grew faster than Bangladesh’s population. However, per capita income involves the population as a variable in GDP growth. Lastly, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have too much of a detrimental effect on Bangladesh’s economy as India’s GDP is set to reduce by 10%, and Bangladesh is expected to grow by 4%.
In other words, Bangladesh is one of the bright spots. The next question arises, what helped Bangladesh to stay ahead?
Apart from the possible reasons, some internal factors make Bangladesh grow so fast are:
(1) Its GDP is led by the industrial sector followed by the service sector. Unlike India, it has less dependence on agriculture.
(2) The labour laws were not as stringent and its economy increasingly involved women in the labour force which has diverse labour participation.
(3) It has over the years managed to grow its textile exports with the ongoing US-China trade war and other global tensions leading to a rise in per capita GDP growth.
Moreover, the country is now set to overtake India which had a significant lead over it a few years ago. Hence, IMF projections show that India is more likely to grow faster next year and likely to again surge ahead of Bangladesh.
Tanishq released a 45 second advertisement featured its new jewellery line “Ekatvam”, which means unity and symbolically sent across the message of Hindu-Muslim tolerance and harmony. It Featured a Muslim family celebrating the baby-shower ceremony of their Hindu daughter-in-law, a ritual which otherwise is not practised among Muslims. The daughter-in-law asks her mother-in-law that the ritual is not followed in her family. Gifting her jewellery, the doting mother-in-law replies that isn’t it a ceremony to make daughters happy everywhere?
The ad would be categorised as a heart-warming commercial by a progressive brand from a creative point of view. The advertisement sought to symbolise interfaith love and marriage in good sense but that became the very reason for #boycottTanishq on all social media platforms. As well-intentioned it appeared from the description the advertisement spiralled out into a huge controversy uncloaking the deep-seated bigotry and intolerance. The critics alleged that the ad promoted what they called “love jihad”. Tanishq noted that while the ad had drawn “divergent and serious reactions”, it was also acting to protect the “well-being of our employers, partners and store staff” and thus took it down.
While both the parties must have a freedom to express their opinion. However, the reaction that surfaced regarding the advertisement clip cannot be counted as just dismissal, rather outright rejection of an idea which is seen as subversive. Even if the idea was taken as unacceptable, protest could be in a more dignified way. Also, what protestors can’t deny is that there is no illegality in a Hindu girl having been married into a Muslim household and no questions can be raised on the same and rather the government itself has admitted there is nothing called “love jihad”.
It highlights a failure to act on part of the law and order machinery. It makes a mockery of policies like ease of doing business as one of the biggest industrial houses is made helpless in the face of violent threats. It also highlights that technology and social media are powerful tools that need some oversight, to ensure that controversies do not get out of control. Brands would have no option but to be cautious and ideologically neutral, despite their best intentions. Otherwise, they may find themselves in the middle of a controversy.
The world is not on track to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal known as Zero Hunger by 2030, hunger and malnutrition are increasing around the world. The report says that at the current pace, approximately 37 countries will fail even to reach low hunger, as defined by the Global Hunger Index severity scale by 2030. And overall India ranks 94 out of 107 countries in the index, lower than neighbors such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. In recent decades agricultural productivity in India has improved as it has gone from being a net importer to a net exporter of food grains. But still, India faces food security challenges. The study estimates that 3 billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet and the key reason behind malnutrition is the high cost of nutritious food and the low affordability of healthy diets for the vast number of people. Climate change also poses a potent threat to food and farm systems such as apart from floods and cyclones, the farmers are also having to deal with pests and locust attacks.
There is an immense mountain that needs to be climbed to achieve zero hunger by 2030 and that mountain has now grown steeper in 2020 due to global pandemic COVID-19. Globally, nearly 690 million people are undernourished. However pandemic could make the number grow by another 95 million people. It has made it clear that our food system stands inadequate to the task of achieving zero hunger. There is the inevitable need to move towards a more sustainable food system. This would ensure more sustainable production methods and provide more resilient and robust to future shocks as well. Hence this transformation of the food system will not only reduce the cost of nutritious food but also increase the affordability of healthy diets.
Researchers say the amount of aid given for food security and nutrition each year will need to double and the poorest countries will also need to invest more to make the problem solvable. There is a need for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis. This study is just a reminder that such a huge percentage of humanity is still going hungry and it is a wake-up call by the World Food Programme.
While the arithmetic in the Bihar assembly elections seems tilted in favour of the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), there is unease about the final verdict among key political players. There seems to be a consensus that Nitish Kumar’s governance record in this term did not match up to his past record. This was compounded by the failure of his administration to provide adequate relief to the migrants who came back home after the unprecedented lockdown that started in March.
First, while India has the world’s largest migrant population, work-related migration is relatively small. The Census figures are not reliable in accurately capturing the size of seasonal and temporary migrants (who form the bulk of work-related migration), though estimates suggest that the share of migrants within the eligible voting population is relatively low. Thus, as a voting bloc, the migrant population does not have much bargaining power. It is not easy for temporary migrants to enrol as voters at destination districts (where they work) as they often return home or migrate to a new location, either in the same city or another city. This electoral disenfranchisement of migrants has resulted in local politicians in the cities not taking enough interest in their problems. These politicians face almost zero electoral cost for ignoring the concerns of the migrants.
The second factor is that, can migrants make themselves count politically despite this electoral exclusion? Existing research has shown that the political socialization of migrants differs among members of their family, and in many cases, as the sole-earning members, their guidance is sought even in matters related to voting. Therefore, they seem to have some influence on voting decisions, and their motivations may well be different from that of the local population.
Our knowledge about how the migrant population in India engages with electoral democracy is limited. The scale of their electoral exclusion is staggering, yet no systematic effort has been made to enfranchise these invisible citizens. So, it isn’t possible to set up a direct relationship with a guarantee as the pandemic brings with itself many uncertainties.
With well-recognized colleges posting no less than a perfect score for the first cut-off, the colleges down the pecking order post near-100% cut-offs. To be sure we cannot blame the colleges entirely. This has made it necessary for colleges to increase their cut-offs to take minimum students initially and then reduce the bar according to the response. At the root are grade inflation and the fact that colleges are mandated to take in all applicants that make their cut-off, notwithstanding how many seats they actually have. Grade inflation is a contagion as if one board does it, others have no incentive not to do it.
With marks flowing free, the number of high scorers has been increasing. The number of students who scored over 95% in CBSE Class XII exams more than doubled this year over last year. Moreover, there are over 5,500 applicants to Delhi University colleges with 100% scores in the ‘best of four’ subjects. With the tribe of high scorers swelling each year, colleges are posting absurdly high cut-offs so that they don’t end up with ‘over-admission’. While the NEP talks about pushing higher education spend to 6% of the GDP, a goal adopted in the 1968 National Education Policy, the fact is that the budgetary allocation of the Centre for education, as a share of the overall budget, has fallen between 2014-15 (4.14%) and 2019-20 (3.4%), as per an analysis by IndiaSpend—though the share of higher education within the overall amount budgeted for education has increased.
Although, this high cut-off also has a mental drawback on the students who are to appear next year for their board exams as they doubt their capabilities because of such high cut-offs. We expect great things from the new education policy, but the current situations must be taken care of as well. Govt expenditure is a necessity today so that the new colleges match those already at the top to fairly distribute the pool of students without making it a drawback for any deserving ones.