information and stories about India.

Total Literacy in KeralaLiteracy has always been an important measure of development and a huge means to further progress through an educated population. People usually define literacy as the ability to read, write and comprehend information. This is important in even basic infrastructure improvements for a community, such as implementing road signs in order to lower road injuries and deaths. Literacy in India is improving rapidly. The most recent measure of literacy in India took place during the 2011 census. India’s 2011 literacy rate was 74.04 percent, an immense increase from the previous census, where the literacy rate was only 12 percent. But even more impressive, Kerala has the highest literacy rate of all the states and even has the label of a total literacy state. In fact, the total literacy in Kerala is 93.91 percent.

History of Kerala

Kerala is a fairly small state and largely rural, rather than being a center of commerce. Additionally, it does not have a high level of industrial development. However, Kerala rises above other states regarding development indicators like literacy, health outcomes and life expectancy. It is crucial to analyze and understand Kerala’s success so that the literacy rates can improve in other regions.

Kerala’s history as a region plays a role in its literacy success. Starting in the 19th century, royalty called for the state to cover education costs. While still a colony, Kerala implemented social reform in the early 20th century that allowed access to education for lower castes and women. Post-independence, socialist or left of center governments overarchingly controlled the state government and they made equity and social goals a huge priority.

Literacy Programs in Kerala

However, aside from these factors, one of the biggest contributors to Kerala’s total literacy is its literacy program, Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority. This is an institution that works under the state government and received funding from it, but operates autonomously. The values of this organization are clearly framed in its slogan, “Education for all and education forever.”

The program works on many levels, including basic literacy programs and equivalency programs. The basic literacy programs include a push to take Kerala to a full 100 percent literacy rate. These programs focus on regions and peoples who tend to have lower literacy rates, including urban slum, coastal and tribal populations. District-specific programs target localized issues, needs and a total literacy program for jail inmates. The equivalency program provides the opportunity for adults who did not go through all levels of primary and secondary school to take classes and tests which will bring them up to fourth, seventh, 10th, 11th, or 12th-grade literacy standards. The program also offers certifications and is constantly adding smaller, new programs in social literacy as different areas require attention.

The Goal

The goals of this program center around developing literacy skills through continuing education and offering opportunities for all who have an interest in learning. This ensures secondary education, providing the skills necessary for those learning to read and write to apply these new abilities in their daily lives and to conduct research on non-formal education. The organization and practices of the Keralite government in terms of improving literacy in their state are undoubtedly successful.

In the development field, it is easy for one to become bogged down in the failures. The total literacy in Kerala is a success story that should receive attention. This is the value of investing in development projects. There are concrete gains when development receives careful formulation and funding with the population in mind. There is much that one can learn from the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority and apply to achieve total literacy around the world.

Treya Parikh
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Fastest Developing CountriesThe world economy is changing every day due to trade investments, inflation and rising economies making a greater impact than ever before. Improvements in these economies have been due to significant government reforms within these countries as well as the administration of international aid through financial and infrastructural efforts. These are the top five fastest developing countries in no particular order.

Top Five Fastest Developing Countries

  1. Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Argentina is actually considered a developing country. Argentina’s economy was strong enough to ensure its citizens a good quality of life during the first part of the 20th century. However, in the 1990s, political upheaval caused substantial problems in its economy, resulting in an inflation rate that reached 2,000 percent. Fortunately, Argentina is gradually regaining its economic strength. Its GDP per capita just exceeds the $12,000 figure that most economists consider the minimum for developed countries. This makes Argentina one of the strongest countries in South America.
  2. Guyana. Experts have said that Guyana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It had a GDP of $3.63 billion and a growth rate of 4.1 percent in 2018. If all goes according to plan, Guyana’s economy has the potential to grow up to 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent in 2020 and 2021. Its abundance in natural resources such as gold, sugar and rice are among the top leading exports worldwide. Experts also project that Guyana will become one of the world’s largest per-capita oil producers by 2025.
  3. India. As the second most populated country in the world, India has run into many problems involving poverty, overcrowding and a lack of access to appropriate medical care. Despite this, India has a large well-skilled workforce that has contributed to its fast-growing and largely diverse economy. India has a GDP rate of $2.7 trillion and a $7,859 GDP per capita rate.
  4. Brazil. Brazil is currently working its way out of one of the worst economic recessions in its history. As a result, its GDP growth has increased by 1 percent and its inflation rate has decreased to 2.9 percent. As Latin America’s largest economy, these GDP improvements have had a significant impact on pulling Latin America out of its economic difficulties. Additionally, investors have also become increasingly interested in investing in exchange-traded funds and large successful companies such as Petrobras, a large oil company in Brazil.
  5. China. Since China began reforming its economy in 1978, its GDP has had an average growth of almost 10 percent a year. Despite the fact that it is the world’s second-largest economy, China’s per capita income is relatively low compared to other high-income countries. About 373 million Chinese still live below the upper-middle-income poverty line. Overall, China is a growing influence on the world due to its successes in trade, investment and innovative business ventures.

This list of the five fastest developing countries sheds some light on the accomplishments of these nations as they build. As time progresses, many of these countries may change in status.

Lucia Elmi
Photo: Wikimedia

 5 Facts About Heart Disease in India
The rates of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases are increasing at alarming rates in developing countries around the world. However, heart disease in India has had a particularly high impact on the nation’s population. This increase requires attention and action to reduce the strain of heart disease on the Indian population.

5 Facts About Heart Disease in India

  1. Rising rates of cardiovascular disease have rapidly increased in India. The number of cases within the country has more than doubled from 1990 to 2016. In comparison, heart disease in the United States decreased by 41% in the same time period. Death as a result of cardiovascular disease has increased by 34 percent in the country in the past 26 years alone. In 2016, 28.1 percent of all deaths were caused by heart disease and a total of 62.5 million years of life were lost to premature death. Heart disease in India accounts for nearly 60% of the global impact of cardiac health even though India accounts for less than 20 percent of the global population.
  2. The burden of heart disease, while high throughout India, varies greatly from state to state. Punjab has the highest burden of disease, with 17.5 percent of the population afflicted, while Mizoram has the lowest burden, a full 9 times lower than Punjab. These immense disparities between Indian states are dependent upon the level of development and regional lifestyle differences. Understanding prevalent risk factors in different regions allows for more effective interventions. Specifically tailored programs are needed, rather than viewing India as a monolith.
  3. Rates of heart disease are far higher in the urban Indian populations when compared to rural communities. Urban areas record between 400 or 500 cases in every 100,000 people, while rural populations record 100 cases per 100,000 people. Risk factors for heart disease include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, central obesity, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. All of these factors are abundant in urban populations and limited in rural populations, thus accounting for the discrepancy.
  4. On average, heart disease in India affects people 8 to 10 years earlier than other parts of the world, specifically heart attacks. This huge discrepancy can be explained by increased rates of tobacco consumption, the prevalence of diabetes and genetic predisposition for premature heart disease. A common genetic determinant of heart disease in Indians is familial hypercholesterolemia, a lipid disorder. Although this disorder is treatable with lifestyle changes and pharmaceuticals, it is often undiagnosed. This causes an increased likelihood of heart disease. Furthermore, stress levels in young Indians have been on the rise due to hectic lifestyles and increased career demands. Mental stress compounded with genetic predisposition and environmental factors like diet, sleep, and exercise has resulted in higher rates of heart disease in India’s younger population.
  5. The India Heart Association is committed to increasing awareness of the severity of heart disease in India. This organization is nongovernmental and launched by individuals who have been personally affected by heart disease. The organization’s major goals include increasing awareness of heart disease in India through online campaigns and grassroots activities. The organization has been appointed to the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Instrumentation Subcommittee of the Bureau of Indian Standards by the Indian government. Efforts are multi-faceted, operating through partnerships with local governments, hospitals, and programming with donors. Organizations like this one are making effective strides in addressing the burden of heart disease in India.

As heart disease in India is on the rise, it is important to understand the impact on global health. Non-communicable diseases have an undeniable effect on development. The World Health Organization stated, “Poverty is closely linked with NCDs, and the rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries.” In an effort to reduce global poverty, attention should move to heart disease in India, and further, to non-communicable diseases in developing countries globally.

Treya Parikh
Photo: Flickr

The Malaria Crisis in India
The malaria crisis in India has been an ongoing issue for centuries. However, along with the rest of the world, India has been making significant progress throughout the past few years with respect to decreasing its malaria cases. While millions are still at risk, India has implemented multiple health care plans that have contributed to its malaria reduction.

 What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasite that mosquitoes spread and can produce a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, sweating, mental confusion and gastrointestinal symptoms. Malaria is most common in warm, humid and rainy climates because that is where the parasite is able to survive and complete its growth cycle. This is why malaria has been such a prevalent disease in India and in other countries close to the equator. However, despite the stagnant weather patterns, India has been making strides towards a malaria-free nation.

In 1995, there were approximately a total of 2.93 million cases of malaria in India, with about 1,151 deaths from the disease. In comparison, 2017 saw approximately 0.84 cases of the disease in the nation and only 194 deaths.

Eliminating Malaria

Due to a combination of factors, India is on track to complete its goal of total elimination of malaria by 2027. The nation has taken the disease very seriously and has strengthened both its Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) and the National Health Mission (NHM). A combination of these two programs has helped health professionals and citizens respond to the malaria crisis in India.

A few different strategies currently control malaria cases in India. One is vector control, which means that people control mosquitoes in high-risk areas of malaria with personal protective measures and environmental awareness. Early Case Detection and Prompt Treatment (ECDPT) is a necessary strategy for all cases of malaria, as it not only improves symptoms of the disease in those already infected, but it also helps prevent the spread of the disease by providing treatment at the time of infection.

Since malaria is a very widespread disease across Asia, India is a member of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN). This is a network that the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) runs, which has the goal of eliminating malaria and sharing action plans across the countries of that region.

Though there is not a malaria vaccine yet, multiple countries in Africa are currently testing a vaccination program that could make its way to India if successful. A vaccine would be economically friendly for those who are among the poorest in India or live in remote areas, where 90 percent of malaria cases occur. The vaccine would also solve the recent issue of drug-resistant parasites.

World Malaria Day

Every year, on April 25, people celebrate World Malaria Day to encourage everyone’s education about the disease and how to prevent its spread. Four percent of all malaria cases occur in India, a substantial amount, which is why it is important that the awareness of the disease is prevalent in the country.

With the significant progress that the country has made in eliminating malaria, India will continue to defy odds by continuing to empower communities and committing to further action plans.  This will ensure that the malaria crisis in India will no longer pose a major threat to its population.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

Improving Living Conditions in Dharavi
Mumbai, India plays an integral role in improving living conditions in Dharavi. Being a port city, Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, having operations in the manufacturing and finance sectors. Mumbai is also home to many Bollywood films. The population of Mumbai estimates over 20 million residents. The reason for this increase is because of the squatter settlements. One major squatter settlement is Dharavi, which is home to 1 million people. Dharavi is located between two railway lines on a low-lying land once a garbage dump. A highway that divides the formal city from the informal city determines which areas are slums and which areas are not. A slum is a term that people use to identify unauthorized and illegal residents. Slums often lack basic amenities, including safety measures.

The Characteristics of Squatter Settlements

  • Noisy, overcrowded and smelly.
  • Cardboard houses.
  • Lack of proper sanitation.
  • Increase of population and disease.
  • Strong sense of community.

Despite the stigma of slums, Mumbai is home to well educated, middle-class people who simply do not have adequate housing. Mumbai has been its own micro-industry. For example, it is most prosperous in the making of pottery.

Facts About Mumbai

The world’s population is 7.3 billion since 2011 and the highest growth is in low-income developing countries. Today, 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Urban growth, also called rapid urbanization, is often located in low-income developing countries, as well as emerging and developing countries. The cause of urban growth can be due to natural diseases and migration. Moreover, the job prospects are low and crime and pollution levels rise when the population increases.

The population of Mumbai continues to increase in thousands each year. Some have cited that this could be because of the “push and pull factor,” which is when people leave rural areas for a more urban way of life. Lack of employment or housing can also push people out of rural areas. However, there may be some benefits for urbanization such as increased cultural wealth, more knowledge and skills in the city community and increased economically active elements of the community.

The Vision Mumbai Project

The Vision Mumbai project is improving living conditions in Dharavi by replacing squatter settlements with higher quality flats. With this project, there would be more schools, more shops, better health care centers, better roads and more jobs. Estimates determine the cost to improve the living conditions of Dharavi as 2 billion euros, however.

The current slum redevelopment is based on the government’s initiatives in 1995. Today, private developers can purchase slum land from the government at 25 percent of the fair market value and redevelop it. This means utilizing a plan and developing tools to control population density. Further, they can use building designs to secure safety and health initiatives.

With purchasing and obtaining 70 percent of slum dwellers’ consent, the project is moving forward by removing the dwellers and re-housing them in a free of cost multi-story building. However, the project will only provide this to slum dwellers who can show proof that they occupied the residence prior to Jan. 1, 2000.

Also, on other land areas, the developers may construct other buildings and sell them on the market as a free sale component. An example of this would be the Imperial Towers, the tallest building and one of the most expensive in India. It is obvious the redevelopment initiative has brought growth to the country as real estate in this area has grown since then.

The Slum Redevelopment Authority

The government of Maharashtra implemented an oversight agency called the Slum Redevelopment Authority in 1997. This agency was responsible for evaluating and approving slum redevelopment proposals. In the past two decades, it reestablished and rehabilitated .15 million tenements, as well as approved .12 million more that are waiting to begin.

Another step in improving living conditions in Dharavi includes the implementation of a motorized concrete producer. On April 1, 2012, Dharavi received a motorized rickshaw that weaves around the slums carrying 15-liter buckets of slow-setting concrete. Due to this innovation, residents can add on to their homes. Houses are more spacious, stronger, safer and more comfortable. This adds to a better quality of life for each resident and a start to better living conditions in Dharavi.

– Michelle White
Photo: Flickr

The Evolution of Brain Drain in Developing Countries  The impact of establishing systems of education on the economies of developing countries and the well-being of its citizens are without question; education allows for higher-paying, skilled jobs to enter the market, it promotes gender equality among children and it has positive effects on the health of those children who go to school. A phenomenon that has stemmed from an increasingly globalized world is brain drain, which is the migration of educated and qualified people to countries with job opportunities better suited to their skill level, higher standards of living and higher rates of technological progress. Here is some information about brain drain in developing countries.

Brain Drain in Developing Countries

Brain drain in developing countries is a proven difficult hurdle for governments to overcome, and the effects of globalization have redefined what brain drain entails for countries such as India and Pakistan. The issue with this movement of intellect and skills lies in the fact that oftentimes, foreign-born workers and students in developed countries rarely return to their countries of origin, and they do not put the knowledge they obtain back into developing economies and development programs.

Why Does Brain Drain Happen?

One of the major causes of the phenomenon is the greater rates of technological advancement in developed countries compared to those in the developing world. Many developing countries have established education programs and continue to do so, but funding for research opportunities and investments in the scientific sector is lacking. For example, in 2000 there were 836,780 immigrants from India to the United States, with 668,055 of them having received tertiary education. These people tend to stay and work in the countries they migrated to. Brain drain does not only affect jobs in technical fields. Ten percent of teachers and people in academia are foreign-born, with 6 percent of them from developing countries.

Brain drain in developing countries produces more immigrants to countries such as the United States, and the theory suggests that the knowledge they obtain in a foreign country remains there and fails to make its way back to their country of origin.

As economies and education become more dependent on technological advancement, the circulation of foreign-born workers becomes increasingly important to globalization. An inverse effect of globalization as the world becomes increasingly aware of other countries’ international influence is the expansion of technological and scientific programs at a much faster rate in developed countries. One can see this in those nations with existing programs, funding and infrastructure to support technological advancements as opposed to those that do not.

The Future of Brain Drain

At the heart of the discussion of brain drain lies a necessity for a better understanding of how globalization affects perceptions of brain drain and its implications for education and employment in developing countries. Despite the negative effects of brain drain in developing countries, good things come from it too. An increase in attention from governments to education, incentives for developing countries to invest in the development of skilled jobs and globalization brings greater mobility and intellectual circulation that enhances the knowledge of the general population. The circulation of knowledge allows for an exchange of intellect between countries, improving relations and promoting understanding of different cultures. Brain linkage creates an opportunity for increased technological advancement when foreign-born workers interact with their home countries, furthering transnational connections. The understanding of brain drain in developing countries has shifted to allow for more positive mindsets surrounding brain circulation to allow for poor countries to experience the benefits of globalization.

Jessica Ball
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Randomized Control Testing
“It can often seem like the problems of global poverty are intractable, but over the course of my lifetime and career, the fraction of the world’s people living in poverty has dropped dramatically.” – Dr. Michael Kremer

In October 2019, Michael Kremer of Harvard and Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee of MIT won the Nobel Prize in Economics for their extensive, randomized control testing-based research in tackling global poverty. At 46 years old, Duflo is the youngest economics laureate ever and only the second woman to receive the prize over its 50-year history.

Incorporating Scientific Studies

The trio set out to establish a more scientific approach to studying the effects of investment projects in the developing world. One of the ways they discovered that they could accomplish this is through randomized control testing. Commonly used in the medical field and made legitimate in the social sciences by the trio, this type of testing involves randomly selecting communities as beneficiaries of experimental projects. Randomly selecting the beneficiaries removes selection bias, providing more accurate and legitimate results.

Randomized Control Testing in India and Kenya

Duflo and Banerjee used randomized control testing experiments in schools in India in an effort to improve the quality of education. The authors discovered that simply getting students to school was not sufficient in improving test scores. Previous research also noted that additional resources, even additional teachers, had minimal impact on students’ performance.

The laureates discovered instead that providing support for an interventionist to work with students behind on their educational skills and making computer-assisted learning available so that all students could have additional math practice improved their scores. In the first year, the average test scores increased by 0.14 standard deviations and in the second year, they increased by 0.28 standard deviations. In the second year, the children initially in the bottom third improved by over 0.4 standard deviations. Those sent for remedial education with the interventionist saw 0.6 standard deviations increase and the computer-assisted learning improved math scores by 0.35 standard deviations in the first year and 0.47 in the second year for all students equally. These results provide clear and definite numbers on the success of the program and show that those who experienced the most benefits were the students in the greatest need of assistance.

Kremer completed a similar study in Kenya. Again, the research found that additional resources did little to improve the learning abilities of the weaker students and that much of the school policies and practices were helpful to the advancement of the already high achieving students. Another of Kremer’s studies in Kenya further showed the impact small interventions can have on student retention. His research found that by bringing deworming medication directly into the classroom, school absenteeism rates decreased by 25 percent, leading to higher secondary school attendance, higher wages and a higher standard of living.

Impact vs. Performance Evaluations

The key to Kremer, Duflo and Banerjee’s success was not the result of pumping out positive statistics. Their success, and reason for winning the Nobel Prize, came from the rigorous scientific approach they took with their studies by using randomized control testing that led to not only positive results but also to meaningful impact where they were working and beyond. For instance, after the success in Kenya with the deworming, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed to finance Kenyan scientists to travel to India to help expand the program. Soon, 150 million children were receiving treatments of deworming medication each year.

This example shows the lasting impact of the work of the laureates. When the fields of economics and politics use more rigorous and randomized studies, it becomes clearer what programs work and which do not, creating greater efficiency and enabling successful projects to expand. The work of the three professors has already led to the leaders of USAID to question the utility of performance evaluations over impact evaluations. In other words, the agency has started to see a shift from success defined as the generated output of the programs to success as the net gain or impact as a direct result of the programs.

Altogether, the work of Kremer, Duflo and Banerjee has raised the bar for economic and social research in the future. Their work has set new expectations that will force researchers to create more detailed and accurate studies that will continue to guide policy.

– Scott Boyce
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Child Labor in India
Child labor binds more than 218 million children around the globe. India has the highest number of children in the world involved in child labor, numbering 10.1 million. Between 4.5 to 5.6 million of these children are between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the 2011 census. Child labor is most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Most of these children are part of the “untouchables” caste, the lowest caste in India. Other castes shun them and they often work in occupations such as burials. Here are 10 facts about child labor in India.

10 Facts About Child Labor in India

  1. Impoverished Children: There are child labor employment agencies in India that look for children in impoverished communities. Often, floods, waterlogging or droughts plague the areas they search. A family’s survival may depend upon their children going to work.
  2. Unregulated Work: Child laborers in India work under the table. The establishments where children work are unregulated. Because of this, employed children do not reap the benefits of child labor laws and other governmental laws that govern the workplace. The children often work from 9 in the morning until 11 or 12 at night. There are many workplaces where the children only get the opportunity to bathe once or twice a week.
  3. Child Labor Reduction: The Indian government says the child labor market has seen a 64 percent decrease between 2005 and 2010. According to the country’s labor ministry, 4.6 million children were working in 2011 verses the 12.6 million a decade earlier. Unfortunately, this is the most recent data, as there has not been a national child labor count since 2011. The definition of what qualifies as child labor is also changing in India.
  4. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking plays an important role in child labor. There are two types of child trafficking: forced labor where children must leave their homes to work in mines or factories and sex trafficking, which often involves young girls. Often, there are Child Domestic Labor placement agencies that are part of this trafficking.
  5. Penalty for Child Labor: Child labor in India was not a punishable offense until a few years ago. Today, if the authorities find a person guilty of being involved in child labor in India, the penalty is a fine between $281.52 and $750.79 or imprisonment for up to two years.
  6. Types of Child Labor: Seventy percent of children involved in child labor in India work in agriculture. Most of the rest work in construction. Many children in India work in hidden workstations, employers’ homes, tiny factories or remote areas.
  7. Child Labor in Metropolitan Areas: Puja Marwaha, the chief executive of Child Rights and You, said that children have migrated to metropolitan areas of Mumbai and Delhi for work. She cited a government report which showed a 60 percent increase in the child workforce of Mumbai in the decade leading up to the census of 2011.
  8. Child Labor Ban: There have been several laws dating back to the 1930s banning child labor in India and promoting education. The Right to Education Act, enacted in 2009, required children between the ages of 6 and 14 to attend school. The Child Labor Protection Act of 1986 banned employing children under the age of 14; however, there are exceptions in the act that allowed children to work in family businesses. Because of these exceptions, critics of the act say that it allows child labor by default in Indian villages.
  9. Mica Mining: Many children involved in child labor in India work in mica mines. These mines often exist deep in the forest far from prying government eyes. The largest mica deposits are in the Kadarma district of Jharkhand province. Generally, mining is the only livelihood the families of these children have. Children also work in India’s coal mines. They are useful in the mines because they can go into holes too small for adults known as rat holes. Many children, especially those working in coal mines, have no training, protection or monetary compensation for injuries.
  10. The Bonded Labor Act: When the Bonded Labor Act releases children from child labor, they receive a certificate and compensation varying from $1,407.58 to $4,222.75. Schools or government-aided NCLP centers admit the kids for their education. If the child is 16 or 17, they receive vocational training. There are many children who were child laborers who are now lawyers or engineers.

There are international companies working toward eliminating child labor in India, including IKEA, which expanded its involvement with Save the Children to reach an additional 790,000 children in India. It also donated 7 million Euros in an effort toward this cause. Eliminating child labor in India requires improving income and education in the nation. Additionally, consumers can help by striving to only buy products that child labor did not produce.

 – Robert Forsyth
Photo: Flickr

Scheduled Tribes in India
The term “Scheduled Tribes” refers to multiple tribes in India who the Indian government and the country’s constitution recognizes. Currently, 705 Scheduled Tribes exist in India. Among these 705 recognized tribes, 75 of them have the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) designation. These groups have a pre-agriculture level of technology, stagnant or declining populations, extremely low literacy and subsistence-level economies.

Scheduled Tribes

Scheduled Tribes of India are usually called Adivasi after the original inhabitants of India. Many of these Scheduled Tribes have their own languages, religious customs, forms of self-governance and traditions of their own.

During India’s industrialization era, from 1750 to 1947, many Scheduled Tribes experienced displacement from their homes and homelands. Mining activities, commercial farming, timber industries and war were the main causes of Adivasi displacement during this time period. Due to their displacement, Adivasis had to migrate to different parts of India. The majority of these Adivasi had problems integrating into the mainstream Indian society since many of them were illiterate and malnourished. This contributed to the Indian perception that the Adivasi were poor, ignorant and backward.

According to the 2011 census of India’s population, Scheduled Tribes made up approximately 8 percent of India’s population. Scheduled Tribes also accounted for 25 percent of the poorest populations in India. In 2018, India’s National Data found that Scheduled Tribes in India were the poorest populace. According to The National Family Health Survey 2015-2016, 45.9 percent of Scheduled Tribe members lived in the lowest wealth bracket. This finding was even more shocking since more people of Scheduled Tribes lived in the lowest wealth bracket than the people of Scheduled Castes, who people previously knew as the untouchable castes.

Statistics

A 2018 study in the Journal of Social Inclusion Studies delves deeper into the above statistics. The study points to the lack of access to productive income-earning assets, non-utilization of available resources, lack of education and equal opportunities, all serving as the main causes of poverty among Scheduled Tribes in India. What further complicates the matter is that traditional methods of addressing tribal poverty are not viable.

While economic development usually associates with poverty alleviation, economic development and industrialization are the cause of Scheduled Tribes’ poverty in India. The recent economic development has eliminated many of the traditional occupations that tribal inhabitants of India had. The same study presented a table of data about the incidence of poverty between tribals and non-tribals in India. The researchers noted that India’s economic development did not occur equally for the many Scheduled Tribes. The data from 1993 to 2012 shows that tribal poverty is always higher than non-tribal poverty. The study found that tribal poverty was still more than two times higher than non-tribal poverty, even though India’s overall incidence of poverty has been in decline since 1993.

The Indian Government

The Indian government is working to reduce poverty among Scheduled Tribes. In 2019, for example, India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India is allocating 85,000 crore ($74,710.96) of its 2020 budget to furthering the development and welfare of scheduled tribes. The Indian Ministry of Tribal Affairs is also responsible for promoting and implementing the programs that will benefit Scheduled Tribes in India.

On February 14, 2020, the Minister of Tribal Affairs conducted a workshop with the Tribal Cooperation Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED). During the workshop, the minister recognized and congratulated TRIFED in its mission of expanding and promoting products that tribal craftsmen and craftswomen made. In the same workshop, multiple shareholders, mainly leading national institutions, social sector and industry leaders, met up to discuss their further cooperation with the TRIFED’s mission.

Scheduled Tribes in India still find themselves in a difficult economic reality. The historic and economic marginalization which displaced the Scheduled Tribes still seems to still loom over India. More shockingly, the cause of Scheduled Tribe poverty seems to have its roots in India’s improving economic conditions since 1750. The Indian government does, however, recognize the importance of economically supporting and developing its Scheduled Tribes. With the help of the Indian government, many hope that a better financial future waits for the Scheduled Tribes in India.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Everything You Need to Know About the Protests in India
People in India gathered on December 19, 2019, to protest the government’s intensified religious discrimination. Around 25,000 people filled the streets of Mumbai and 10s of thousands more protested other major cities in India. On Dec. 11, the Indian government passed a new Citizenship Amendment Act. This act makes religion a qualification to gain citizenship. As the people continue to disagree with the actions of the state, here is everything that people should know about the protests in India.

Reasons for the Protests

The Citizenship Amendment Act promises to expedite the citizenship statuses of people of religious minorities in the countries neighboring India. This includes Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and many more, however, it excludes Muslims. Many of the protestors view the bill as an anti-Muslim sentiment in India, coming to a legislative light under Prime Minister Modi, even though Islam is the second-largest religion in India. It also sparks the fear that the 200 million Muslims with citizenship currently living in India could have their status called into question in the future.

Who are the Protestors?

Most of the protestors at the forefront are students from some of India’s most acclaimed universities, like Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU) in New Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and IIT-Bombay. The first protest at JMIU turned violent. In addition, there was rampant police brutality against Muslim students. Consequently, this sparks other universities to stand in solidarity against police brutality. Police officers threw tear gas into the library and hit some nonviolent students with batons.

Violence in the protest

The protests in India as a whole have resulted in the arrests of thousands of people, of which authorities arrested around 5,000 “preventatively” and 23 died. Six people alone died in Uttar Pradesh, a city in the north. However, the police chief of the area, Prakash Singh, claimed that the police did not fire any bullets and that they used only tear gas and batons on peaceful protestors. Despite these claims, the causes of death have yet to receive a public release. The most recent wave of peaceful protests in India has been in violation of an act temporarily preventing gatherings of more than four people at a time, heavily restricting the right to protest at a time of mass civil unrest.

Internet and Cellular Service Shut Downs

The internet and cellular services shut down in parts of the country, specifically the state of Uttar Pradesh. Prior to the cut, authorities arrested over 100 people. As of the end of 2019, there were inflammatory or inciting posts on social media regarding the CAA. Additionally, the police chief backs this move as a means to prevent the circulation of fake news and to stop the apparent fear-mongering of the CAA opposition.

The scale of the public outcry against the Citizenship Amendment Act shows that the fight to maintain India’s position as a secular state is far from over, although the authorities have stopped protestors. Protestors have had international support as well. On December 18, 2019, many people protested outside of the Indian consulate buildings in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. As the protests in India rage on, the country remains torn over the discriminatory nature of this new law, and what it means for its democracy as a whole.

Anna Sarah Langlois
Photo: UN Multimedia