Posts tagged: india
The dance of democracy: Voters turned in huge numbers to vote in the third and important phase of India’s general elections 2014 today (a picture or two are from the first two phases). (Part 1)
(CNN) — India’s general election, the largest democratic exercise in history, begins Monday. Voters will elect 543 members to the lower house of parliament, which will then select the country’s next prime minister. Here are 11 things you need to know about the world’s biggest election:
1. Its massive scale. More than 814 million voters are expected to cast ballots over the next month to elect the lower house of parliament, or Lok Sabha, up from 713 million voters in 2009. The Indian voting pool is larger than the total populations of the United States and Western Europe combined.
Given the infrastructure in India, an election of this scale can’t be done in a day. Voting will take place in nine blocks over the next five weeks, to allow election authorities to tackle the daunting logistics of operating 930,000 polling stations. The vote counting will be carried out and concluded on May 16.
2. It’s the economy, stupid. India’s flagging economic performance is the election’s central issue. After registering Chinese-style growth rates of 8% to 10% in the 2000s, India’s economy slowed sharply in 2012. GDP growth now remains below 5%, coupled with persistently high inflation.
Indian politicians and academics remain divided over whether the country should focus its energy on first reigniting growth or on alleviating poverty. Even after a decade of rapid growth, India is still home to one in three of the world’s poorest people. Unlike other countries, India’s poor tend to vote in higher numbers than the rich.
3. The BJP and the “Modi wave.” India’s main opposition party, the strongly nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, is positioned to win the most seats in the lower house of parliament, though it is not likely to win the outright majority necessary to form a government without coalition partners. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has gathered momentum by positioning himself as an advocate for economic development and good governance. Many expect Modi’s business-friendly campaign to lead his party to its biggest victory ever.
4. Modi’s charisma and controversy. Modi has a strong record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat and a “strong man” reputation that many see as a welcome contrast to current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But Modi has also been criticized for his authoritarian bent and ties to right-wing Hindu organizations.
Although an investigation set up by India’s Supreme Court cleared him of wrongdoing in 2012, some voters remain suspicious of Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The U.S. State Department denied Modi a visa in 2005 because of his alleged culpability, but it changed tack in March, saying it would welcome Modi to the United States if he wins the election.
5. The crisis of confidence in the Congress party. Anemic growth, persistent inflation and frequent corruption scandals have tried the public’s patience with the Indian National Congress, the country’s oldest party and the core of the ruling United Progressive Alliance over the past decade.
Rahul Gandhi, the heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the party’s choice for prime minister, has been portrayed as a reluctant leader, and some believe the Congress will be reduced to its lowest number of seats in history. For its part, the Congress criticizes the BJP’s policies as exclusionary and emphasizes its social welfare programs, aimed at helping the poor.
6. Nepotism is here to stay. The competition between Gandhi and Modi has become something of a public referendum on India’s entrenched political elite.
Rahul Gandhi, who is the son and grandson of previous prime ministers, is depicted by critics as cosseted and out-of-touch, while Modi’s campaign emphasizes his humble origins working for his father’s tea stall as a child. But despite Modi’s popular appeal, research by Patrick French indicates nepotism remains alive and well in Indian politics. Nearly 30% of current members of parliament are from political families; for parliamentary members younger than 40, the figure rises to two-thirds.
7. Criminality among the Indian political class is endemic. An astonishing 30% of the current parliament faces criminal charges. Judging by the new crop of candidates, it isn’t going to be much better in the new parliament. According to research published last week, almost a fifth of the candidates face criminal charges.
Put another way — and this may come as something of a surprise to those many American readers who hold the U.S. Congress in low regard — Indian parliamentarians are on average 60 times more likely to be charged with a crime than their U.S. counterparts.
Corruption and criminality may prove hard to shake in Indian politics, since the rising cost of campaigns means they are dominated by the wealthy. The Centre for Media Studies estimates that Indian politicians may spend around $5 billion campaigning, triple the sum for the last national poll in 2009. The figure is second only to the $7 billion spent in the 2012 U.S. presidential race, the world’s most expensive election.
8. The role of young voters and social media. First-time voters are expected to make up roughly 10% of those who will go to the polls this election. India’s population is very young: More than 65%, or nearly 800 billion people, are younger than 35, according to the latest census. This youth bulge is lending weight to candidates who prioritize economic development, as well as increasing the importance of social media in campaigns.
Young voters grew up after reforms to liberalize the Indian economy began in 1991, and thus have high expectations for leaders to reignite India’s growth. In large part because of the youth contingent, spending on social media advertising during the election may reach $83 million.
9. The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party. An offshoot of the anti-corruption protests in 2011-2012, the AAP galvanized support with its surprise showing in last year’s local elections for the Delhi Assembly.. The AAP won 28 of the legislature’s 70 seats and its leader, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, was appointed as Delhi’s chief minister. But while the AAP has energized young voters and the middle class, it hasn’t yet shown it can transition from a protest movement to a governing force.
After failing to deliver on key election promises, Kejriwal quit his post in Delhi after only 49 days in office. The AAP is expected to take votes from more established parties in the election and could be instrumental in forming a governing coalition.
10. Women are raising their voices. Long expected to vote in line with the male members of their families, Indian women are becoming an electoral force in their own right.
Women account for 48.5% of the electorate, but in some recent polls, they have voted in higher numbers than men. Inflation and safety are likely to be among their most pressing concerns as women control most household budgets and violence against women is an emergent political issue. The gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi in December 2012 and numerous other cases have sparked widespread protests and precipitated a reckoning of the position and treatment of Indian women.
11. The key role of regional parties. No party has won an outright majority in India since 1989. This year’s results are likely to be the same, meaning India’s regional parties will likely be instrumental in helping the BJP or Congress form a government. Regional parties control five of India’s biggest states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, which together account for more than 200 Lok Sabha seats — and their wide variety of agendas and proclivities make determining India’s future policy direction difficult.
Whether elected officials can deliver the decisive governance that India needs will depend in large part on the character and strength of the governing coalition.
Fifteen rape victims have formed martial arts movement and are prepared to confront abusers if no one listens to their complaints…A GROUP of women are fighting back against the sickening culture of rape which they say infects India. Fifteen determined females – all victims themselves – have trained in martial arts and are prepared to hand out rough justice if no one listens to their complaints. And the movement, called the Red Brigade, is growing rapidly following the gang rape and murder of medical student Jyoti Singh Pandey that horrified the world.In a nation where a woman is reportedly raped every 20 minutes, the group’s leader Usha Vishwakarma said: “We are fighting back – and the boot is now on the other foot.” Member Sufia Hashmi, 17, said: “We’ve caught a lot of men recently. I joined because men always used to pass comments on me and touch my body but now we beat them and they run.”Like the other members in the northern city of Lucknow, 25- year-old Usha has first-hand experience of the daily dangers women face in the huge nation – a teacher tried to rape her when she was 18. She said: “He grabbed me and tried to open my trousers. I kicked him in the crotch and ran.” Usha complained to staff but they told her to forget it and allowed her attacker to carry on teaching. She said: “Many parents tell girls to quit school so there will be no sexual violence. But we said no – this has to stop. We decided to form a group to fight for ourselves, not just complain.”MORERoll deep
After spending years developing a simple machine to make inexpensive sanitary pads, Arunachalam Muruganantham has become the unlikely leader of a menstrual health revolution in rural India. Over sixteen years, Muruganantham’s machine has spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states and since most of his clients are NGOs and women’s self-help groups who produce and sell the pads directly in a “by the women, for the women, and to the women” model, the average machine also provides employment for ten women.
Muruganantham’s interest in menstrual health began in 1998 when, as a young, newly married man, he saw his wife, Shanthi, hiding the rags she used as menstrual cloths. Like most men in his village, he had no idea about the reality of menstruation and was horrified that cloths that “I would not even use… to clean my scooter” were his wife’s solution to menstrual sanitation. When he asked why she didn’t buy sanitary pads, she told him that the expense would prevent her from buying staples like milk for the family.
Muruganantham, who left school at age 14 to start working, decided to try making his own sanitary pads for less but the testing of his first prototype ran into a snag almost immediately: Muruganantham had no idea that periods were monthly. “I can’t wait a month for each feedback, it’ll take two decades!” he said, and sought volunteers among the women in his community. He discovered that less than 10% of the women in his area used sanitary pads, instead using rags, sawdust, leaves, or ash. Even if they did use cloths, they were too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, meaning that they never got disinfected — contributing to the approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India that are caused by poor menstrual hygiene.
Finding volunteers was nearly impossible: women were embarrassed, or afraid of myths about sanitary pads that say that women who use them will go blind or never marry. Muruganantham came up with an ingenious solution: “I became the man who wore a sanitary pad,” he says. He made an artificial uterus, filled it with goat’s blood, and wore it throughout the day. But his determination had severe consequences: his village concluded he was a pervert with a sexual disease, his mother left his household in shame and his wife left him. As he remarks in the documentary “Menstrual Man” about his experience, “So you see God’s sense of humour. I’d started the research for my wife and after 18 months she left me!”
After years of research, Muruganantham perfected his machine and now works with NGOs and women’s self-help groups to distribute it. Women can use it to make sanitary napkins for themselves, but he encourages them to make pads to sell as well to provide employment for women in poor communities. And, since 23% of girls drop out of school once they start menstruating, he also works with schools, teaching girls to make their own pads: “Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?”
As communities accepted his machine, opinions of his “crazy” behavior changed. Five and a half years after she left, Shanthi contacted him, and they are now living together again. She says it was hard living with the ostracization that came from his project, but now, she helps spread the word about sanitary napkins to other women. “Initially I used to be very shy when talking to people about it, but after all this time, people have started to open up. Now they come and talk to me, they ask questions and they also get sanitary napkins to try them.”
In 2009, Muruganantham was honored with a national Innovation Award in 2009 by then President of India, Pratibha Patil, beating out nearly 1,000 other entries. Now, he’s looking at expanding to other countries and believes that 106 countries could benefit from his invention.
Muruganantham is proud to have made such a difference: “from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance… I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.” His proudest moment? A year after he installed one of the machines in a village so poor that, for generations, no one had earned enough for their children to attend school. Then he received a call from one of the women selling sanitary pads who told him that, thanks to the income, her daughter was now able to go to school.
To read more about Muruganantham’s story, the BBC featured a recent profile on him at http://bbc.in/1i8tebG or watch his TED talk at http://bit.ly/1n594l6. You can also view his company’s website at http://newinventions.in/
To learn more about the 2013 documentary Menstrual Man about Muruganantham, visit http://www.menstrualman.com/
For resources to help girls prepare for and understand their periods - including several first period kits - visit our post on: “That Time of the Month: Teaching Your Mighty Girl about Her Menstrual Cycle” at www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=3281
To help your tween understand the changes she’s experiencing both physically and emotionally during puberty, check out the books recommended in our post on “Talking with Tweens and Teens About Their Bodies” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=2229
And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section athttp://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math
Awesome, dude. Awesome. I mean, AWESOME.
WHAT AN EPIC BADASS!
This man is awesome!
I hope that’s his wife putting pads together in the back. His swag is on 5hunna just because he’s part of the gotdamn solution!
photos by (click pic) saravanan dhandapani, vilvesh swaminathan and mahesh balasubramanian from the mayana soora thiruvizha festival, which occurs every march in the small, southern indian village of kaveripattinam and is devoted to angalamman, one of the fiercest forms of the mother goddess amman.
When the British came to India, Bengal was India’s richest province.
The British would back certain Indian princely states with financial and military resources over others, or alternatively install puppet rulers during rule disputes, then in return for their backing they would demand immense sums of revenue which the princely states would be unable to procure leading to increasing and basically unpayable debt—at which point the British would take over politically. When this happened in Bengal the British started using the tax revenues from Bengal to pay for Bengal’s own exports to Britain. Essentially a policy of total wealth extraction, draining Bengal’s resources and causing, previously unthinkable, famines that wiped out perhaps 50% of Bengal’s total population.
When the British left India, Bengal was India’s most impoverished province.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India.
cannot wait for February! but you can only see snow everywhere
this is actually yangshuo county in guangxi province, china. rice paddies on the li river, to be specific,
the sheer irony
india was usa’s enemy during the cold war because it stayed in a neutral position (but moreso went towards the ussr) and in retaliation, the usa FUNDED the anti-bengali hatred in the two pakistans because bengalis were seen as more ‘indian’, leading to operation searchlight,…
Tulwar Sword with Scabbard
- Dated: blade, dated 1673; hilt, 19th century
- Culture: Indian
- Medium: steel, silver, diamonds, enamel, leather
- Measurements: Blade length, 31 1/2 in. (80.01 cm)
- Classification: Swords
The blade, of European manufacture around 1600, was inlaid later in gold. Along the back edge, there is an inscription in Arabic and Persian, and on the outer side, there is a parasol. The inscription mentions the name of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658–1717) and the sixteenth year of his reign, corresponding to 1673.
The parasol is an ancient symbol of the dome of heaven and was long used in the Middle East and India as a symbol of royal authority. A parasol mark on a blade thus signifies royal provenance and implies that the weapon belonged to a divinely appointed and protected monarch, in this case Emperor Aurangzeb.
Secrecy was paramount. Britain’s imperial general staff knew there would be outrage if it became known that the government was intending to use its secret stockpile of chemical weapons. But Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, brushed aside their concerns. As a long-term advocate of chemical warfare,he was determined to use them against the Russian Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1919, 94 years before the devastating strike in Syria, Churchill planned and executed a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia.
The British were no strangers to the use of chemical weapons. During the third battle of Gaza in 1917, General Edmund Allenby had fired 10,000 cans of asphyxiating gas at enemy positions, to limited effect. But in the final months of the first world war, scientists at the governmental laboratories at Porton in Wiltshire developed a far more devastating weapon: the top secret “M Device”, an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine. The man in charge of developing it,Major General Charles Foulkes,called it “the most effective chemical weapon ever devised”. […]
Trials at Porton suggested that it was indeed a terrible new weapon. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant, crippling fatigue were the most common reactions. The overall head of chemical warfare production, Sir Keith Price, was convinced its use would lead to the rapid collapse of the Bolshevik regime. “If you got home only once with the gas you would find no more Bolshies this side of Vologda.” The cabinet was hostile to the use of such weapons, much to Churchill’s irritation. He also wanted to use M Devices against the rebellious tribes of northern India. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” he declared in one secret memorandum. He criticised his colleagues for their “squeamishness”, declaring that “the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable. Gas is a more merciful weapon than [the] high explosive shell, and compels an enemy to accept a decision with less loss of life than any other agency of war.”
He ended his memo on a note of ill-placed black humour: “Why is it not fair for a British artilleryman to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze?” he asked. “It is really too silly.”
A staggering 50,000 M Devices were shipped to Russia: British aerial attacks using them began on 27 August 1919, targeting the village of Emtsa, 120 miles south of Archangel. Bolshevik soldiers were seen fleeing in panic as the green chemical gas drifted towards them. Those caught in the cloud vomited blood, then collapsed unconscious.
fact: monsoon wedding is a perfect movie.