Fiinovation Reviews India’s Migration and Malnutrition Problems

The rising disparity among the people of India is a stark reminder that growth after the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation reforms of 1991 has not been inclusive. Although, the country developed significantly, yet the development ripples have not reached the remote villages. The initial plan of focusing on the service sector to reduce the dependency of the Indian GDP on the primary sector (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, etc.) paid off well, but didn’t solve the problem of the rural population which is nearly 70 per cent of the total Indian population.

As the primary sector didn’t receive as much investments, there wasn’t much growth to improve the standard of living of the rural population. The problems associated with agriculture and allied sector ensured that millions had to migrate to the urban areas for employment opportunities. Migration is not a recent phenomenon, rather the pace of it has increased in recent times due to widespread distress in the rural areas. As per the Census 2011, there were about 45.36 crore migrants. In fact last year 2.06 crore people migrated looking for employment opportunities and education.

It is understandable that the impact of migration is one the entire family and it’s the children who suffer immensely. It has been observed that the rapid development which ensured India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world is not helping to curb poverty and malnutrition. As per the global hunger index, India ranks abysmal 97 out of 118 countries which much worse that its neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Fiinovation reviews that about 38 per cent children living in India are stunted or too short for their age. There seems to be a link between growing urbanisation and increase in malnutrition as it has been observed that significant proportion of children living in urban areas are stunted.

Alarmingly, it is estimated that 90 crore people will be added as urban residents in just three countries (China, India and Nigeria) by 2050. It seems that there is a paradigm shift of the burden of malnutrition from rural areas to urban areas, especially due to persistent child undernutrition. Fiinovation reviews that the problem of malnutrition is evident amongst the 6.5 crore slum dwellers in the country. Hence, the reason behind urban poverty and malnutrition is definitely India’s incapability to develop the rural areas while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

The road ahead will not be easy as the government plans to double the farmers’ income by 2022. Currently, there is very less industrial development in the rural areas. Agriculture in India is a seasonal activity with majority of the regions being mono-cropic, especially due to lack of irrigation facilities and dependency on the monsoon. Therefore, it is important to create livelihood opportunities and promote healthy lifestyle amongst the rural population. If the migrant population start finding employment opportunities in their inhabited regions, it will reduce migration, poverty and malnutrition significantly.

Hence, Fiinovation urges the government to implement policies which promote growth of the rural economy. Efforts to increase the farmers’ income will definitely pay huge dividends for the country. The impact of this will also be visible on the global hunger index and help the country eliminate extreme poverty as per the Sustainable Development Goals. However, this massive task cannot be done only by the government and the role of the private sector will be significant in providing resources for the development of rural infrastructure. The businesses should also contribute towards betterment of the farming community and the people residing in the rural areas through their corporate social responsibility funds. Investments in the agriculture sector by the businesses supported by agriculture credit from the government will significantly boost the primary sector thereby reducing the burden of the rural households.

Let us hope that the next two decades India grows inclusively and sustainably becoming one of the largest economies of the world with a higher human development index ranking.

 

By Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation

Fiinovation Observes – WORLD TOILET DAY

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Every year, 19th November is recognised as the “World Toilet Day” across the globe. The day is celebrated to spread awareness about the issues related to sanitation and eradicate taboos related to health and hygiene. The United Nations passed a resolution in July 2013, recognising World Toilet Day as an official International Day for drawing the world’s attention on the current sanitation crisis. On this day, several campaigns are run worldwide on educating the world about benefits of sanitation, health, and hygiene. This year the World Toilet Day is based on the theme, “Toilets and Jobs”.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that around 2.5 billion (about 1 out of 3) people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and around 1 billion of them still practice open defecation. The forced unhealthy sanitation habits lead to chronic diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, soil-transmitted heminthiasis and schisosomiasis. It is estimated that around 58% of the diarrhea cases are caused due to poor sanitation, poor hand-washing and lack of hygiene. In 2013 alone, around 340,000 children under 5 years of age have succumbed to death due to unhealthy sanitation habits. Not only this, open defecation is also an infringement of privacy and dignity of young girls and women bringing them embarrassment and fear exposing them to sexual assault, violence, harassment and psychological trauma. However, this menace can be put to end by providing them access to toilets and basic sanitation facilities.

In India alone, around 55% of people out of 1.2 billion people have no access to toilets mostly comprising the people living in urban slums and rural areas. The central government has taken the uphill task of creating an open defecation free country by 2nd October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. They have pledged to construct 12 million toilets in rural India at the cost of Rs. 1.96 lakh crore. In his speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in open? Poor womenfolk of the village wait for the night; until darkness descends, they can’t go out to defecate. What bodily torture they must be feeling, how many diseases that act might engender. Can’t we just make arrangements for toilets for the dignity of our mothers and sisters?”

Deriving inspiration from the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Mission, many states in India have done commendable work in the field of sanitation. In a press note released by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation on the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin, around 15.04 lakh toilets have been built under the MNREGA scheme across rural India. Under this mission, 446 percent increase in construction toilet work has been observed. One lakh villages have been targetted under 35 districts to declare them as open defecation free. Sikkim has been declared as the first open defacation free state followed by Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

Even the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been actively working towards providing people safe access to toilets and end open defecation in the world. The Government of India and World Bank has inked a $1.5 billion loan agreement for supporting the nation’s sanitation initiatives. Additionally, the World Bank will also extend technical assistance of $25 million to capacitate selected states in implementing community-led behavioral change programmes, to end the toilet related taboos and spread awareness about the regular usage of toilets by rural households.

“Sustainable development goal 6 calls on the international community to ensure access to toilets by 2030. Delivering on this basic human right — the right to water and sanitation — is good for people, business and the economy.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

SMEs outshine big corporates with generous CSR Spend

A recently conducted research on 3,855 listed companies with the aim of studying their CSR spends and response towards the CSR mandate in fiscal year 2015. The report highlighted that around 1300 listed companies in India have met the mandatory 2% CSR spend in fiscal year 2015, during the second year of CSR implementation.

This year, SMEs have raised the bar with higher CSR spends as compared to the big corporations. Hence, it will not be exaggerating to term 2015 as year of SMEs in CSR. In fact, the companies with higher turnover lagged behind in meeting the 2% mandatory CSR compliance. Clearly, they are not short on altruistic, society-building motivation. This also reflects a broad-basing of CSR activity in India Inc,” Crisil said.

As per the Companies Act 2013, companies falling under the CSR ambit should either have the turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore to spend at least 2% of their average net profit in the preceding 3 financial years on CSR activities. 425 out of the 1024 companies surveyed were found to have turnover of Rs. 100 to Rs. 500 crore and 53% of them had spent the 2% or more of their net profit on CSR. 518 mid-sized companies with the turnover falling betwen Rs.500 crore to Rs.10,000 crore with 50% of them fulfilling the 2% spending requirement. However, in case of companies with turnover of over 10,000 crore or more, only 31% of the 81 companies either met or exceeded the CSR mandate. Many companies such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and HDFC Bank Ltd. even fell short of meeting the 2% target.

Mr. Ramraj Pai, President, Crisil Foundation, said, “Compliance towards CSR in fiscal 2015 seems to be inversely proportional to the size of the company; those with high turnover were short of the 2% mandatory spending.

Since SMEs contribute towards the development of Indian economy by providing employment to nearly 40% of the nation’s workforce and also contribute towards 45% to the manufacturing output, hence the larger CSR spend by them will pave the path towards holistic sustainable development as they employ a large chunk of employees from the rural and backward regions of India. The collaborative efforts in CSR domain by SMEs will not only help in upliftment of the weak and marginalized people but also prove highly beneficial for the companies by helping them in streamlining their business processes and managing their operational costs.

Considering this was the second year of implementation, the large corporations require considerable time and efforts to conceptualize CSR initiatives and implement the processes for maximizing the outcomes. But, the affirmative response of SMEs towards integrating CSR activities in their business reflects their long-term business vision and their concern towards the societal needs.

In nutshell, the size of SMEs doesn’t matter and they should engage in CSR activities both to avoid downside business risks and exploit the upside opportunities.

Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

GLOBAL WARMING- SHRINKING SIACHEN GAINING ENVIRONMENTALISTS ATTENTION

Controlling the negative effects of global warming has recently become the bone of contention of many global superpowers in the world. These negative effects are in consonance with the climate change caused due to global warming. Researches reveal that in the past 100 years, the average global temperature has risen by 0.8 degree Celsius and the average temperature of weather stations located in the Himalayan region have registered an upsurge of 1.25 degree Celsius leading to natural disasters causing massive death and destruction.

One of the hazardous effects of global warming has been observed at the world’s highest and arduous battlefield in the world- The Siachen Glacier. Located in the Karakoram range in the eastern lap of Himalaya Mountains, it is the second-largest glacier in the non-polar areas of the world, situated at 20,000 ft above the sea level.

Since 1984, the entire Siachen Glacier including all the major passes is under the control and management of Indian Government. The Indian Army soldiers are continuously deployed in the entire region to protect the country from China and Pakistan.

However ironically, Siachen is one of those battlefields which has been taking more lives of soldiers continuously due to extreme weather conditions, (temperature often stooping to as low as -50ºC) in comparison to the enemy bullets. The rise of temperature due to continuous global warming is now having adverse effects on the Siachen Glacier, further aggravating the risk of soldier’s life which is already at risk due to dangerous weather conditions and enemy bullet. As, due to rise in global warming the snow is melting faster causing dangerous snow avalanches taking the lives of soldiers.

One of the recent deadliest avalanche claiming lives of 10 soldiers deployed at the critical Sonam post located at about 19,600 feet near the Pakistan Line of Control in the Hind Kush Himalayas earlier this year is recorded as one of the worst incident in the history of Siachen battlefield. Experts reveal, that the deadly avalanche was triggered due to rise in temperature as generally Siachen Glacier doesn’t have long history of avalanches.

Explaining the reasons, Lt. Col. S Sengupta, Commandant of the Siachen Battle School told that 15-20 days before the incident the temperature in the surrounding area of Sonam post has been rising and a hanging glacier stuck at the ice wall had fallen off triggering the deadly avalanche. Even the days of rescue operations couldn’t retrieve nine soldiers buried alive under the snow. They could only rescue Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, who was buried 30 feet below snow for six days but he also couldn’t be saved later. The rising temperature at the Siachen Glacier is making life tougher in comparison to extreme weather conditions, making life tough in the region.

Researches reveal that the effect of rapid climate change is such that the snout of the Siachen Glacier has actually receded back by about 800 meters in the last one decade. Also, as per the recent (2014-2015) report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the higher frequency of glaciers retreats eventually leading to snow avalanches are the worst impacts observed in the Himalayan region. SASE (Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment) had also issued a snow avalanche warning a day before the incident. But still the soldiers couldn’t be saved as the ice avalanches are extremely difficult to predict.

As per the official records, since the Army launched Operation Meghdoot in 1984, around 869 Indian soldiers have been martyred due to avalanches, extreme weather conditions, and sickness due to extreme weather conditions at high altitude. A massive avalanche occurred in year 2012 claiming the lives of around 130 Pakistani soldiers.

The effect of climate change can be confirmed by the fact that in the past few decades rain has never been observed in this area, however now it witnesses light drizzle sometimes. No greenery was either possible or visible at 12000 feet height but now greenery is visible even at 15000 feet, which is certainly due to rising temperature observed in the region.

Another major cause of the glacier retreat is that before 1984, the glacier was uninhabited but since the Army has been deployed in the region, the glacier has been introduced to pollution leading to the melting of ice. Cutting the ice and melting it through chemical for constructing Army posts and camps, dumping of non-biodegradable waste material like empty ammunition shells, non-usable parachutes, plastic waste, and the use of arms and ammunition has also disrupted the Eco-system of the region considerably.

To protect the Environment and the precious lives of Indian soldiers, the Indian Army has launched the, “Green Siachen, Clean Siachen” campaign to airlift the garbage from the glacier, and to use biodigestors for biodegradable waste in the absence of oxygen and freezing temperatures.

By – Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications I Fiinovation

For more information visit our website – www.fiinovation.co.in

One Humanity

19th August, recognized worldwide as the World Humanitarian Day by United Nations General, is dedicated to acknowledge the efforts of humanitarian personnels for their relentless and selfless contribution towards the community. The day is marked in honour of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq and his 21 colleagues who were killed during the bombings of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad on 19th August 2003.

The Day not only celeberates the extraordinary efforts of 17 million volunteers, 0.5 million social workers with footprints of their humanitarian actions spread across 190 countries but also recognizes the efforts of glorified souls who have lost their lives in the service of vulnerable.

As per estimate, more than 130 million people around the world, who are victims of wars, natural disasters, extreme poverty and violence are in urgent need of humanitarian help for basic survival. However, it has been found that during the course of providing help, around millions of workers have been injured or lost their lives during the volunteer work and there has been no concrete policy or action to extend any support to the volunteers affected during contingent situations and felicitate them who have gone out of their way for saving and helping billions during critical situations.

In Syria alone, around 60 social workers providing aid to the war victims have died. The recent news of 65 year old Khalid Abdullah, a Red Crescent volunteer associated with the organization since 30 years being shot dead while organizing food distribution in Taiz, raised lot of rage over the inhuman activities rising around the world.

Although most of the people seeking help are either victims of wars or natural disasters and ironically it has been found that more than 60 million children alone have been homeless in the war hit countries. Records reckon that around 218 million people were severely affected by natural disasters in past two decades costing around $300 billion to the global economies of the world.

The theme of World Humanitarian Day 2016 is “One Humanity”. A wreath-laying ceremony will be held in New York at the United Nations headquarters preceding by a high-level event organized in the General Assembly Hall in remembrance and honour of dedicated humanitarians throughout the world.

The World Humanitarian Day has not only provoked the thought process and embarked the initiatives towards recognizing and remembering the efforts of millions of social workers dedicated towards humanitarian deeds irrespective of race, ethinicity and religion.

“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

By – Manisha Bhatia

Media & Communications

Fiinovation

An ode to the Nature Conservation Leaders

The International World Indigenous day, celebrated on the 9th of August, every year, is a call for action to the community as a whole, to acknowledge the contributions made by the indigenous communities towards conserving nature and maintain the delicate ecological balance.

This year the theme for the International Indigenous Day is ‘Right to education’ by the indigenous communities. These native communities are the marginalised who have been excluded from the mainstream society. The world indigenous day calls for a joint action towards raising the unheard voices of the tribal communities, their struggles and beliefs, within the mainstream plan of action. The theme is also protected by the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which in Article 14 states that, “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning (UN).” The right of the indigenous peoples to education is also protected by a number of other international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targets at ‘ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

“A critical education gap exists between indigenous peoples and the general population. In- terms of Educational access and retention & achievement”- UN.

Education is the critical medium which not only reflects the historical abuses, discrimination and marginalisation suffered by the tribal or the native communities, but also talks about their revolts and struggles for equality and respects for their ‘rights as people and as individuals’. It is an age old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. Education is one of the most powerful tools of empowerment and by excluding certain communities from accessing the educational system, is a serious blow to their human rights. The aboriginals have time and again been ostracised into the peripheries of poverty and vulnerability owing to their unique practices and beliefs such as, nature worship (animism), food habits, rather fluid cultural practices and minimal occupational specialisation, etc. In India, certain tribal communities were categorised as criminal communities by the Britisher. It is only recent that the communities were declared as de- criminalised, and have been assigned under the state list of Scheduled castes- Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India which refers to scheduled Tribes as those communities who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.

In India, the indigenous people are referred to as the Scheduled Tribes or Adhivasis. It has been repeatedly argued that, ‘Adhivasis are among those who have gained least and lost the most from the six decades of democracy in India.’ Ban Ki Moon, the UN Chief stated on the eve of the international World Indigenous Day, 2016, “In some countries, less than 40 percent of the indigenous children attend school full time. In many others, few indigenous children complete a full high school education.” the UN chief further added, “This is unacceptable. We will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if we fail to address the educational needs of the indigenous people. I call on the Government everywhere to draw on the guidance of this international framework (the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) to improve access to education for indigenous peoples and to reflect their experiences and culture in places of learning.”

Thus it becomes imperative to recognise the efforts of the indigenous communities towards mitigating the consequences of climate change, sustainable methods of farming, growing and conserving the natural resources through non exploitative methods of living. In this context, Irina Bokova, Director- General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), stated, “Nurturing and harnessing this potential calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all,” she also emphasised, “Too many indigenous peoples are still denied the full right to quality education.”

India is home to the largest concentration of tribal communities within its geographical boundary, almost 8 percent of India’s population is comprised by the tribals. Even though the constitution of India, which came into existence on 26th January 1950, prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15) and it provides the right to equality (Article 14), to freedom of religion (Article 25- 28) and to culture and education (Articles 29- 30)- Scheduled Tribes are supposedly addressed by as many as 209 articles and 2 special schedules of the Constitution- they bear the brunt of developmental crisis. The tribal groups are still subject to exploitation, oppression and illiteracy which has pushed them onto the brink of chronic poverty and dispossession. The Denotified tribal communities in India are harassed and abused on the grounds of their native identity and lifestyle. Most of the Denotified Tribes in India are nomadic in nature and work in extremely exploitative and inhumane work conditions such as in brick kilns, etc. The children of these tribes are excluded from being a part of the full schooling process due to their nomadic nature of work and lifestyle (seasonal work conditions/ opportunities make these tribes migrate to different places). The children, more often than not, become victims of the flesh trade, are trafficked, work as domestic labourers, work as labourers in the unorganised sectors, are school dropouts and some have never seen a text book in their entire lives.

On the International Indigenous day, Fiinovation would want to throw light on the vast ocean of possibilities that would integrate these children in the mainstream educational process through incorporating innovative Teaching Learning Methods (TLMs) at the school level through CSR-CSO alliances. The CSOs can be termed as the agents of change which have been able to reach the most marginalised and vulnerable. CSR is aimed at bringing about sustainable development by adhering to the Triple Bottom Line philosophy in all its core business activities. The tribal population in India should be encouraged to enroll in the education system and the schooling process should incorporate teaching methods and promote retention of these children, throughout the process. By extending the education to these communities, their issues and struggles can be raised to national and international platforms for consideration and plausible solutions.

Affirmative Action as practiced by corporations in India, would not only delegate the tribal communities as stakeholders in the developmental agenda but, would also give them a chance to combat marginalisation, denounce human rights violations and promote their rights and cultures.

Fiinovation complains that today’s world is changing at a very fast pace and so is the outlook towards development and growth however, these marginalised groups are still ignored and their access to basic rights is still being denied. Therefore, an immediate need to adopt a developmental path which aims at the holistic growth of the economy and is founded upon the foundations of ecological, social and economic progress. The nature conservation leaders i.e. the indigenous people are to be made an equal stakeholder in the process of wellbeing and be excluded and confined to stereotyped margins of ignominy.

By – Media Team

Fiinovation

World Youth Skills Day 2016

Development of skills among youth plays a vital role for the growth of the economy. It not only reduces poverty, but also better equips the youth to find decent employment. This process triggers empowerment and enhances self-esteem among the marginalised people which benefits the entire society. As per the United Nations, in 2013 world-wide 74.5 million people in the world were unemployed with majority of them living in developing countries. Another concerning issue is that 125 million people are working but still living in extreme poverty.

Understanding the importance of skill development, Sri Lanka proposed the World Youth Skills Day which was adopted by the 69th session of the General Assembly on 18 December 2014. The resolution invites all UN member states and other organisations to commemorate 15th July as World Youth Skills Day through education, campaigns, volunteering and public awareness activities. Fiinovation strongly believes that skill development capacitate youth to address challenges such as poverty, injustice and environmental degradation.

In India, skill development has been pushed both by the corporations and the government. India has also setup the National Skill Development Corporation to create, fund and enable support systems required for development of skills. Last year on the occasion of the first World Youth Skills Day 2015, the Indian Prime Minister launched the Skill India Mission to ensure that India becomes the global hub for skilled manpower. The mission is not restricted to skills and the government have also linked entrepreneurship to it. The government aims to skill nearly 400 million youth in the next few years and also supply surplus manpower of 40-50 million to tackle global challenges. India is currently enjoying a demographic dividend which is likely to remain till 2040. It is time when the youth needs to engage in activities which will spur economic growth.

The government of India has also urged the corporations to contribute towards skill development activities. Over the years, Fiinovation has engaged with corporations in conducting several skill development initiatives across the country. These initiatives majorly includes development of vocational skills, providing amenities to educational centres, development of adequate infrastructure for skill development trainings, providing financial support etc. Hence, it is important to harness the demographic dividend of the country before time runs out. The enormity of the skill development challenges in India can be understood from the fact that the process caters multiple sectors and requires involvement of diverse stakeholders. Planned engagements both by governments and corporations will help to overcome the skill shortages of India.

Skill Development is not filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. – Anonymous

By – Rahul Choudhury

Media & Communications, Fiinovation