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Poverty in Kashmir
Kashmir has been a flashpoint for conflict between India, Pakistan and China for the 70 years since India and Pakistan gained independence. At the time, the area was a princely state, Jammu and Kashmir, and it had to choose between India or Pakistan. The Hindu king chose India, but Pakistan contested by saying that the Muslim majority would prefer to join Pakistan. A war between India and Pakistan resulted in the Kashmir area’s split with India, Pakistan and even China controlling different parts.

The Constitution of India’s Article 370 guaranteed autonomy for Kashmir, meaning that Kashmir had its own flag, constitution and several laws that gave it independence from the rest of India. For example, during Article 370’s existence, Indian citizens of other states could not buy property in Kashmir. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370, Kashmir does not have its own constitution and must follow the rules and regulations of the Constitution of India.

Modi Promises a Better Economy for Kashmir

As for Kashmiri citizens, the Prime Minister promised economic growth due to the changes. Modi and his allies pointed out that Article 370 slowed economic growth, and that revoking the article would give Kashmir a chance to catch up to the growth of other Indian states. Many believe that poverty in Kashmir continues because restrictions on Indian businesses of other states hold back business potential.

For example, Kashmir’s manufacturing sector “has grown at just 32 percent – lower than national average of almost 50 percent.” Indian businesses now have the ability to buy land and create a business in the Kashmir region, which could effectively kickstart the slow economy.

Modi emphasizes that the autonomy of Kashmir resulted in “separatism, nepotism, corruption to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” Since Kashmir does not have to compete with people from outside the region, corruption flourishes and remains unchecked by competition. Poverty in Kashmir continues to exist due to the lax attitude of corrupt officials who are unaffected personally by the reach of poverty in Kashmir.

Kashmiri Fear the Rise of Poverty

However, some fear that the negative effects of revoking Article 370 might actually increase the probability of Kashmiri people facing poverty. The autonomy and exclusivity of the Kashmir region meant that every Kashmiri citizen was able to find a job and buy land as a result of there being more jobs and land than people. Now, Indians of other states can get jobs and buy land in Kashmir, potentially leaving native Kashmiri people unable to obtain valuable jobs, and therefore, closer to poverty.

As with most important decisions, there are benefits and drawbacks, and Modi’s decision to scrap Article 370 is no different. Only time will tell if the move will help or hurt the common people, but poverty in Kashmir will definitely face drastic changes as Kashmir grows through several economic upheavals.

– Anish Kelkar
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

India water crisisIndia’s dry season has been notably harsh in 2019, and the country is suffering its lowest rainfall before a monsoon season in six decades. Just under half the population is facing a drought and dozens have died from the combination of a heat wave and a lack of water. The India water crisis is also causing evacuations as the drought is forcing families to leave their homes in search of water.

Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, is facing extreme water scarcity. The reservoir water supply shrank between 2018 and 2019 and is almost entirely drained of water.

Effect of the Drought

Experts blame the severe drought on mismanaged resources along with industrial and human waste, bad policy decisions and climate change. Thirty-two states have organized a State Action Plan on Climate Change in order to achieve national as well as regional priorities. But many farmers claim the government plan has not been carried out. “There is a lack of interest among politicians and the bureaucracy, which is keen to look for temporary solutions to drought and climate change impacts,” stated agricultural and climate change researcher Atul Deulgaonkar.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the drought has not only affected the monsoon and winter crops but also destroyed supplementary crops. Because agriculture is the most important sector of its economy, India is heavily reliant on monsoon rains. The drought is particularly dangerous for marginalized farmers in rural areas. Approximately 80 percent of districts in Karnataka and 72 percent in Maharashtra are faced with crop failure, which has put the livelihood of eight million farmers in jeopardy.

Solutions to the Crisis

However, there are solutions to the crisis such as reducing the need for the enormous amounts of water used for crops. Because agriculture accounts for nearly 90 percent of India’s water consumption, reducing the dependence on water-intensive crops and agricultural methods would substantially increase water for drinking and make farmers less vulnerable to water shortages. Environmental scientist Kyle Davis stated, “Diversifying the crops that a country grows can be an effective way to adapt its food-production systems to the growing influence of climate change.” In addition, the use of alternative grains can improve nutrition and reduce greenhouse emissions from agriculture.

Other steps are currently underway for alleviating the water crisis. In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed an $87 billion plan to reduce flooding and improve irrigation by linking 60 rivers across India. So far only 16 rivers have been linked and the effect of this plan is yet to be determined. Some Indian states such as Maharashtra have followed the example of Israel and implemented a drip irrigation method, which involves dripping water onto individual plants through tubes or pipes rather than flooding whole fields.

Whatever the means, the India water crisis must come to an end. One-hundred million children in India lack water and one out of every two are underfed. Water security must be guaranteed in India amidst rising temperatures and falling water tables so families can raise their children with dignity and health in the upcoming century. A slew of solutions indicate hope for the future, though.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

2019 Indian electionsThe 2019 elections in India represent the largest displays of democracy around the world. Because of the number of eligible constituents, more than seven phases of the election took place throughout the country. The same rules that apply in America apply in India; you have to be at least 18 years old and register to vote. The casting of votes ended on May 19, and the counted votes were revealed on May 23.

There were two primary candidates in the running for the elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won the 2014 elections, ran as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The opposing candidate was Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Congress Party.

Narendra Modi

“Together with All, Progress for All” was Narendra Modi’s campaign slogan for the 2019 elections in India. But, what does this statement mean for the country as a whole? India is one of the poorest countries in the world, even though its economy is rapidly growing. According to Forbes, “The GDP per capita of Delhi, the National Capital Territory with a population of 20-25 million, is roughly equal to that of Indonesia at around $4,000.” Although some provinces come in even lower.

The wealthiest territory in India is Delhi, and the poorest states are Bihar and Uttar. The disparity is so great that Delhi’s GDP per capita is over four times that of each of the poorest states in India. So, what does Modi plan to do with such variety within one nation? He plans on reducing internal trade barriers between states and constructing a highway that would connect most of the country.

Modi also plans to continue the reform of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that was implemented to reduce complications between different state taxes. The goal of the GST is to level the playing field for businesses, bringing about a common rule of taxation.

Reducing the internal trader barrier, implementing the construction of a national highway and continuing the reform of the GST will all help move India toward a reduction in national poverty. Uniting a scattered and diverse country through general taxation and a major roadway could help diminish chaos and confusion.

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi is part of the National Congress Party and has spent much of his life in politics. The Congress Party’s slogan for the 2019 elections in India was, “Now, There will be Justice.” Gandhi claimed that, if elected, he could assure the people of India “truth, freedom, dignity, self-respect, and prosperity for our people.” Gandhi believes the injustice that ruled during Modi’s previous regime has left the countryside of India scattered and depraved.

He his plan was to create job sustainability throughout the country by deferring application fees for government jobs and other work. He also hoped to bring growth to the manufactoring businesses and to encourage people to take up entrepreneur endeavors through the Enterprise Support Agency.

Furthermore, Gandhi planned to push for incentives for businesses to hire women and broaden diversity among the workplace. He wanted to abolish the law that states women are unable to work night shifts and to reinstate the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, which demanded men and women have equal pay.

The Election

The votes for the 2019 elections in Indian were counted on May 23. The nation reelected Modi who must continue to address the issue of regional disparity between states. If the government focuses on unifying its nation and bringing the people to one comprehensive understanding of law and regulation, India’s economic gain could be substantial.

Hannah Vaughn
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Disturbing 10 Disturbing Facts About Global Poverty
Global poverty is one of the most pressing issues currently facing the international community. Individuals mired in poverty often lack access to clean food and water and many do not receive proper health care or education. Listed below are 10 of the most disturbing facts about global poverty.

10 Disturbing Facts About Global Poverty

  1. More than 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. The world’s current population is roughly 7.5 billion people meaning that almost half of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. This $2.50 often has to support not just single individuals but entire families.
  2. Approximately 2.4 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation. This is often a result of poor infrastructure and a lack of monetary investment by governments into adequate sanitation facilities. These conditions often lead to individuals engaging in unsanitary practices such as open defecation, which can lead to the contraction of diseases like diarrhea and cholera. Developing countries, however, are looking at developing many technologies to help improve sanitation. One such technology is the Janicki Omni Processor (JOP), which turns human waste into clean, drinkable water. The JOP has been successfully implemented in Dakar, Senegal and is likely to expand into other countries in Africa soon.
  3. About 1.5 billion individuals worldwide have inadequate shelter. This has a number of causes including lack of job and education opportunities. Many of these individuals live in slum settlements in large cities like Mumbai and Cairo.
  4. More than 757 million adults worldwide are illiterate. Many poverty-stricken individuals do not have the resources to receive a proper education, which limits their future job and income prospects. This, of course, perpetuates the cycle of poverty. However, organizations are doing significant work to help solve this problem. In 2015, the nonprofit organization, Worldreader, launched the Read to Kids initiative, which reached 200,000 families across India. The initiative leveraged the increasing popularity of mobile phones in the country by creating a free app that provides users with an expansive library of books.
  5. Currently, 780 million people live without access to clean water. Many of these individuals have to resort to drinking dirty, contaminated water, which can result in the transmission of numerous harmful waterborne diseases. To make matters worse, this water is often far away, requiring long journeys to obtain it. This prevents individuals from attending schools or working, furthering the cycle of poverty. With that said, afflicted countries are making good progress towards ensuring more individuals have access to clean drinking water. Much of this progress has come via the implementation of technologies like rainwater catchment systems and sand dams, both of which have proven to be effective, sustainable solutions for communities throughout the developing world.
  6. Sixty-four percent of the world’s extreme poor lives in just five countries: India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There are various hypotheses as to why these five countries have such high rates of poverty. Many point to corruption, as well as poor government policies and inadequate education systems as the main culprits. However, countries are making progress towards the alleviation of many of these issues. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has received praise for his anti-corruption efforts while in office; additionally, the government of the DRC has made major strides in its educational system over the past 17 years (70 percent of children now complete primary school, compared to 29 percent in 2002).
  7. There are more than 820 million chronically malnourished people worldwide. While the world produces enough food to feed everyone, the distribution of this food is grossly unequal. Individuals in rural communities suffer the most as they often have to resort to growing their own food (subsistence farming) due to the lack of accessible, affordable food sold nearby.
  8. Approximately 1 billion people do not have access to proper electricity. While electricity is readily available in most wealthy, industrialized countries, hundreds of millions of individuals that go without this luxury every single day. However, initiatives such as the Electrify Africa Act (2016) are aiming to change this. The EAA will provide 50 million people throughout sub-Saharan Africa with access to reliable electricity by 2020.
  9. More than 3 million people worldwide die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. While coverage has improved in recent years, many individuals still do not have access to proper health care to receive critical vaccinations. As a result, preventable diseases such as measles and tetanus, as well as whooping cough, have persisted in many developing countries.
  10. Children make up more than 40 percent of the world’s extreme poor. Child poverty is one of the biggest contributors to the poverty cycle as children who grow up poor are unlikely to be able to obtain a quality education, meaning that when they have children, their children will likely be in the same situation that they were once in. Preventing this cycle is one of the main areas of focus for poverty reduction campaigns around the world. UNICEF’s Schools for Africa Initiative is a good example of these efforts. By helping to build schools and train teachers, the initiative has provided more than 21 million children with the opportunity to pursue an education.

While the list above detailing 10 of the most disturbing facts about poverty may be slightly depressing, there is hope for the future. Since 1981, the percentage of the world population living on less than $1.25/day has decreased by nearly 30 percent. In addition, new technologies and agricultural practices promise to make it easier than ever to obtain access to clean water and nutritious food. However, as detailed in this article, billions of individuals still suffer from extreme poverty every day; as such, it is imperative that progress continues towards eliminating global poverty.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

Building Toilets in IndiaKnown as the home of the magnificent Taj Mahal and the world’s largest democracy, the subcontinent of India lies in South Asia and borders both Pakistan and China.

Although India has significantly improved its infrastructure and is now one of the world’s fastest growing economies, much of the population continues to lack access to basic sanitation facilities such as toilets and clean running water. An astounding 500 million people in India resort to open defecation, accounting for 60 percent of the world’s population who do so. Unexpectedly, an Indian romantic comedy aptly named “Toilet, a Love Story” has been instrumental in pushing the need for building toilets in India into the spotlight.

With a renewed focus on providing more access to toilets, Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, has promised to build 100 million new toilets across the country. Additionally, he started a new cleanliness initiative called Clean India mission in 2014 that will attempt to make India open defecation-free by 2019. According to the Indian government, 47 million toilets have already been built in rural villages and public areas, but many have criticized the program for its many failures. New toilets are being built around the country so rapidly that many of them are not even connected to running water, rendering them dirty to the point that few use them. The Indian government must focus on adding additional sewage systems throughout the country in order to properly handle the increase in toilets.

Even if toilets are built, there needs to be an entire shift in mindset before open defection will stop. For many Indians, having a toilet inside a house is considered an unclean practice, so there needs to be tangible steps taken to confirm that the newly built toilets are actually being used. Educating communities, particularly rural ones, about the undeniable health benefits of utilizing toilets, is a worthwhile pursuit. With many families using toilets as a store house for fodder, India’s government must dedicate time and resources to bringing the serious harms of open defecation to the forefront of public health issues.

The lack of basic sanitation often leads to epidemics of dangerous diseases, including potentially fatal ones such as cholera, which are spread through fecal matter. Furthermore, water sources and crops are commonly contaminated by open defecation, but many lack the awareness or the resources to properly clean their food and water before consuming it, leading to thousands of deaths every year. In addition to the need for a larger effort into raising awareness of the benefits of building toilets in India, resources need to be invested into infrastructure for waste management.

Also, the lack of sanitation facilities has proven to be an issue for women’s rights and human dignity. Without access to toilets, women in rural villages are often forced to travel in groups and are only able to relieve themselves before the sun rises in order to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, these groups of women are often met with verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Sexual assault remains a frighteningly common occurrence for Indian women who are forced to relieve themselves in open fields.

Several studies have shown that lack of access to private toilets frequently make women significantly more susceptible to sexual violence. According to a senior police officer in the state of Bihar, about 400 women were raped while they relieved themselves outside simply because they did not have access to a private toilet. Rapidly and effectively ending open defecation must be of the utmost urgency, as millions of Indian women continue to endure vicious sexual violence on a daily basis.

With toilets being a taboo subject in India, there are undoubtedly serious obstacles to be overcome if India wishes to end open defecation, which is linked to sexual violence and the spread of disease. “Toilet, a Love Story” has gone a long way in helping Indians openly discuss and raise awareness of the dangers of continuing to avoid building toilets in India. If there is to be lasting success, the Indian government must prioritize shifting the public’s mindset away from believing that toilets are unclean as well as build an accompanying sewage system alongside the new toilets.

Akhil Reddy

Photo: Google

War On Poverty in India
On Saturday, Sep. 25, 2016, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed Pakistan for the first time. This address occurred in the wake of the Uri attacks, in which four terrorists snuck into an army camp and killed 18 soldiers. Modi confronted Pakistan on the attacks, saying, “We are ready to fight you if you have the courage.”

However, the war he declared was not one on the Pakistani people, but on poverty in India and in Pakistan. Modi, whose platform is buttressed with promises to uplift the poor, reiterated his pledge for the 21st century: freedom from poverty, injustice, unemployment, corruption and acts of violence against women. Modi’s war on poverty in India would work to not only make strides towards these goals in his country of India, but to neighboring countries like Pakistan.

Though Pakistan has made big strides toward reducing absolute poverty since 1991, unrest in the country and natural disasters have made many of its citizens vulnerable to falling below the poverty line. Pakistan is also behind other countries in terms of educational and health benefits for its citizens.

Keeping its citizens educated and healthy would provide Pakistan with a wealth of resources with which to bolster the country’s economy and the quality of life for its workers. India’s war on poverty, if Modi’s challenge is accepted, would be hugely beneficial not only to Pakistan but to the global community. Putting an end to poverty in Pakistan would not only help its people but its neighbors. Ending poverty is as important for peace and stability as it is for economic development.

So, India is ready for war — a war on poverty, a war on underemployment, a war on illiteracy and infant mortality and maternal deaths. According to Modi, “Let both countries fight to see who would eradicate poverty first.” Though Prime Minister Modi has challenged Pakistan to see who wins the war on poverty in India, this is a war nobody will lose.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

India's GoodsPrime Minister Narendra Modi has seen the biggest marker of his reformation efforts take hold in the Indian Parliament: the upper house unanimously approved the creation of a countrywide sales tax entitled the Goods and Services Tax.

If passed, the new tax will replace over a dozen levies around the country currently making difficult barriers for trade and market share between the states of India. Goldman Sachs has called this move “one of the world’s most compelling” events in the global economy.

By the end of the year, India’s Goods and Services Tax will have been passed or denied. If passed, it will revolutionize the way Indian economics currently operate and how the national market will interact with the global market.

Experts in business are describing India as a “caged tiger” that will be unleashed on the world. This shift could make India’s emerging market wildly profitable.

Many in the nation are excited, proved by the unanimous decision in the upper house. Once the lower house and over half the states approve the bill, it will be written into law and implemented. However, this process may still be lengthy.

Among other barriers, a new council must be created to bring together experts to manage the new tax and how much will be taxed. The Prime Minister’s administration plans to train 60,000 tax officials to help the entire nation transition.

Modi sees India’s Goods and Services Tax as a victory for the entire country, exclusive of party alliance. He hopes this will be step in the right direction for all in the areas of democracy and dismantling “tax terrorism.”

Although Modi had to compromise in order to pass the bill, the most recent state elections secured him a majority of representatives in the upper house who supported the bill, creating a tide that yielded the unanimous vote.

With this landmark vote, Modi and his administration firmly believe the country is ready to make the change, and look forward to one of the most drastic moves in the country in the last couple decades.

Connor Borden

Photo: Flickr

Indian Poverty
There are quite a few economies around the globe that aren’t doing very well, but one country’s economy is beginning to emerge as a potential powerhouse: India.

India is well acquainted with poverty and has been for many years now, with a large portion of the country’s population living in slums and other unsanitary conditions. Approximately 33 percent of the population lives in poverty, with only 62 percent of adults being literate, and only 49 percent of girls attending secondary school largely due to economic reasons.

The recent change in India’s economy could alter this. India’s stock market has reached new highs in recent months with a stable rupee.

Politics have had a large effect on India’s recent success, with the election of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or BFP, experienced its first win in 30 years. The result is a more optimistic India that hopes to heal a broken bureaucracy.

Nicholas Smithie, Chief Investment Strategist at Emerging Global Advisors, says Modi is more likely to tackle major obstacles, such as a poor infrastructure, than previous prime ministers. Modi and the BJP work on a pro-growth platform, focusing on government approvals and advances in labor and education.

India might only be getting lucky. Certain aspects of the global economy—slowdown in China, money printing in Japan, Russia’s recession, stagnation in the European zones and falling oil prices—aren’t hitting India quite as hard. The deflation around the world is proving helpful to India, which has suffered high inflation. India has a rare opportunity to capitalize on new political officials and economic reform. International corporations are growing eager to invest in India, now assured that India’s policies will foster economic expansion.

As India’s economy emerges with a strong, stable foundation, the future of poverty reduction looks a little brighter. As the economy improves, families are better able to afford food, clean water and sanitary conditions. Educational opportunities are allowed to expand as the economy grows, creating a more secure future for Indian children, particularly girls. The path to recovery and to reducing poverty in India is long, but with a stronger economy and a hopeful leader, India seems to be on the right track.

Alaina Grote

Sources: The Economist, UNICEF, U.S. News

Photo: Flickr

climate_change
The breakthrough collaborative announcement by the United States and China on curbing greenhouse gases has sparked a global movement on climate change. For many years, international climate talks have been ignored by those who caused the problem of climate change. The United States and China remain the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, and have now pledged to reduce emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030. With India on board with the global change, the movement would spark continual momentum.

A critical question is whether India will join the United States and China’s side in climate talks. India has become the third world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The world needs India to join many other countries to help alleviate climate change; without India, efforts to tackle global climate change will be difficult. India must consider its investment in developing clean and renewable energies, and reconsider its investment on coal.

India and China share a common domestic problem; fossil fuels that cause climate change also create major air pollution. Over the years, air pollution has risen to harmful levels. The World Health Organization monitors for air pollution, and has stated that China and India’s cities failed the organization’s test for satisfactory levels of airborne particulate. This microscopic matter is believed to be one of the most deadly air pollutants for the human health. More than half of these cities also fail to uphold to their own specific standards.

The pollution shortens lives and is costly to China and India’s economic growth. As a result, many Chinese citizens have called for change. China’s leaders have responded by taking big actions on the global climate change, and should motivate India to do the same before the problem poses a bigger threat.

India could possibly follow China. India’s Prime Minster, Narendra Modi, has publicly acknowledged the recognition of the country’s severe pollution problem. Modi made a public announcement on his objectives to make air quality data accessible to the public. India has a reputation for investing huge amounts on coal. In the last five years, India has increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent. Moreover, India plants to double domestic coal production to one billion tons a year, by 2019, to fuel new plants and boost imports.

India’s air is among the world’s dirtiest, with largely unregulated and unmonitored coal plants. Unfortunately India’s decisions to invest big on coal plants kills up to 115,000 Indians a year, and costs the Indian people about $4.6 billion annually.

Many climate change advocates in India have expressed doubts following India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, choice to not attend the United Nations Climate Summit to speak about the change.

The Green Climate Fund, which operates to redistribute money from the developed world to the developing world in order to assist developing nations in adapting to climate changes, have risen close to $10 billion in funds. Pledges to the fund come from the government of 22 countries; four developing countries were among the contributors.

If India makes amends to follow other nations in pledging towards helping the change, this will make its mark in history as one of the largest movements in confronting climate change.

Sandy Phan

Sources: WHO, UNFCCC, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Photo: LA Times

narendra modi
During a speech on India’s Independence Day, India’s recently elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, called for gender equality.

In the past year, India has been plagued with a string of highly publicized gang rapes and violence towards women. As the country has been criticized by domestic and foreign critics for its safety and equality, Modi’s comments come at an unsurprising time. His words reveal the legacy Modi wants to create during his term as India’s Prime Minister. Modi is not particularly well known for women’s rights advocacy, but he has begun to align himself with activism groups recently.

Tackling long-standing patriarchal attitudes, Modi has encouraged parents to raise their sons and daughters alike.

Additionally, directing his attention specifically towards boys, Modi encourages families to raise their sons to respect women.

Though Modi’s advice is promising, the attitudes of many generations will not change after one speech.

Compared to the rest of the world, India’s gender gap is among the largest. With many sexual assault cases being improperly handled and survivors being blamed, attitudes toward violence have reflected India’s patriarchal culture.

Modi has described the violence as “India’s shame,” and has underscored the double standard of female and male children. Parents rarely scrutinize their sons to the same extent as they do to their daughters. While the law convicts the criminals, Indian society can help prevent the attacks.

The hope of women’s rights advocates and sexual assault survivors is that Modi will pursue justice for women in India. With his first Independence Day speech including comment on the struggle for women’s rights, it will be interesting to see how Modi rectifies the situation.

– ­Kristin Ronzi

Sources: India Times, The Guardian
Photo: Forbes