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Domestic Abuse, Battering Floods, Private Mining, and a Centralised Health Card

This week, we look at rising cases of domestic violence, battering floods, private mining, centralised health card, and other stories.

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Rural

File:Street Theatre on Domestic Violence - Bridge Market Plaza - Chandigarh 2016-08-07 9101.JPG
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rising domestic violence cases

The lockdown has forced women to stay indoors, and they are facing abuse at the hands of men. 

The situation is grim — according to a report published in The Hindu by Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Sumant Sen, and Naresh Singaravelu, Indian women registered 1,477 domestic violence complaints between March 25 and May 31 this year. The number has never been so high in 10 years. Out of these, about 86 percent of women did not seek help — 77 percent did not even talk about the incidents with anyone.

Domestic violence has been persistent across the world — according to a UN report 60 percent of men have admitted to some kind of violence against their partner or wife. 

If someone you know has been going through domestic violence, here’s a detailed guide on how to seek help.

Other stories of the week:

India’s rural economy is improving, but how far can it go?

The monsoon is good and Kharif sowing has seen steady success — and there’s word that the rural economy is set to find a steady pace.

But there are some gaps.

Even though a good Kharif crop accounts for 50 percent of agricultural production, leading to higher GDP growth, there’s speculation if income will increase or not.

The minimum support prices on crops have not increased by more than 4-5 percent this time. This goes with the fact that only 35-40 percent of the economic activity is directed from agriculture, and the balance is laid out from the service and manufacturing segments that are largely small and medium enterprise (SME) segments.

The urban micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSMEs) segments are also affected by the large scale migration due to the COVID-19 crisis. Besides, goods produced by rural MSMEs are part of the indigenous machinery, so it is highly dependent on the overall prospects of macroeconomic demand.

The logic is this — good harvest results in higher rural spending with increased income, and this money is put into manufacturing goods. The forced migration in cities only downplays the trends.

Still sounds confusing, read the BloombergQuint opinion by Madan Sabnavis for more.

600k Anganwadi and Asha workers go on strike

Last week, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers took to streets demanding regularisation for their wages that have been held back over the last few months. The workers who went on a 2-day strike have been conducting door-to-door surveys on the front line for the fight against the raging pandemic. 

Around 90,000 ASHA workers in Bihar had already been on strike

It was reported that they were not provided with apt equipment while they carried out immunization tasks, and were paid just Rs 5,000 per month — an amount that they have not received since the last four month.

Read more in this report by Deeksha Bharadwaj for Hindustan Times.

A modern library rural students, 2G study app for Kashmir, syllabus pen drives in Nagaland 

The Haryana deputy CM Dushyant Chautala has said that the state government will set up modern libraries for students if panchayats provide land for the same.

The libraries, he said, will be equipped to provide facilities to students preparing for competitive exams.

Meanwhile, two IIT Bombay graduates have developed an Android app to help facilitate learning for internet-starved students in Kashmir. The app will run on 2G internet and has features such as that on Zoom. It also comes with other features that help with attendance and teacher control. Here’s more on this by Prashant K. Nagda in LiveMint.

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Also, the Nagaland government is to distribute pen drives with study materials among students of class 5 to class 12 in rural areas with poor internet connectivity. The pen drive will have syllabus covered from May 1. The government added that teachers posted in rural areas will assist students in this process. Read more on this initiative in this Indian Express report.

It will also be interesting to see how the internet connectivity will span out after the government’s promise to connect 6 lakh villages with optical fibres in the next 1,000 days.

Mounting debt, rising hunger, loss of livelihood

A national survey analysing the impact of the lockdown has put focus onto the perils of rural citizens who are now facing increasing debt, hunger, loss of livehlihood, and problems accessing healthcare. 

The study finds that 68 percent of rural Indians face ‘high’ to ‘very high’ monetary problems — 23 percent of the surveyed had to borrow money, 8 percent sold valuable possessions, 7 percent mortgaged jewellery and 5 percent sold or mortgaged land.

The study had 25,300 respondents from 179 districts across 20 states and was conducted by New Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies.

Here’s more on it by Luke Koshi in this The News Minute report.

Let there be light

India’s Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has planned to offer 600 million LED bulbs aT Rs 10 per piece in rural areas without any government support or subsidy. This comes as a part of the Gram UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) scheme.

EESL is also looking forward to registering this scheme under UN’s Clean Development Mechanism which will help claim carbon credits.

Read more on this by Utpal Bhaskar on LiveMint.

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Environment

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Floods batter India

Most of India now seems to be dealing with the consequence of the monsoon. While most of India has received rain and has flooded in some way or the other, there are parts of India that have not received enough rainfall. The IMD has stated that Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Ladakh have not received enough rains, while rainfall in the south, comprising Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, rainfall was 23% above normal. You can read a summation of how various parts of India have been affected in this LiveMint piece. 

Assam’s three districts – Dhemaji, Baksa, and Morigaon – are currently severely hit. As of Tuesday, 13,800 persons were reported to be affected across the three districts. 136 deaths have been reported across the state. 

Bihar has been struggling the most – up to 78 lakh people have been affected by 24 people have lost their lives. Additionally, watch this video by The Wire by Faiyaz Ahmad Wajeeh on what people think are the causes behind the floods.

In Kerala, the death toll in the landslide in Idukki district rose to 55 as of Wednesday. 6,300 relief camps have been set up in anticipation of a third flood. Read more by Dhinesh Kallungal on this for The New Indian Express.

Low-lying areas were flooded after continuous rains in Jaipur, Rajasthan, with three people losing their lives.

Karnataka has reported sixteen people dead with four missing in floods and landslides in Malnad and coastal and interior parts of the state. The damage is estimated to be worth Rs 3,500-4,000 crore as per Revenue Minister R Ashoka. 108 relief camps have been set up. 

Why does India always flood? Read about it here in this piece for YaleEnvironment360 by Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar. Additionally, read here about how the rains have affected the tea industry by Pradipta Mukherjee.

The game of private mining auctions

India is also opening up the coal sector to private buyers and investors after five decades. 40 new coalfields have been declared, in some of India’s most ecologically sensitive forests. States like Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh have written to the government against this move. Among some of the blocks commissioned to the auction, are four blocks of Hasdeo Arand’s 420,000 acres of forest in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Up to seven of these coal blocks are in areas that were previously deemed ‘no go’ areas due to the environment they would destroy, and up to 80% of the blocks are home to indigenous communities and thick forest cover. Read more on these no-go areas by Hannah Ellis-Peterson for The Guardian.

An investigative report by Scroll.in has found that it isn’t state governments that benefit from it. The analysis shows that “regardless of the number of participants, the design of the auctions itself leaves open the possibility of low revenues for coal-mining states. This is because the floor benchmark for bidding has been set considerably lower than previous auction rounds.” 

The terms of the auction have also been investigated. One point that stands out is that even though a focus on sustainable mining practices and better technology had been promised, this doesn’t seem to be the reality — for example, any company is allowed to bid for these coal blocks, irrespective of whether they have mining experience or not. Read the extensive report for Scroll by Supriya Sharma here.  

Additionally, watch this Mongabay India video on whether sustainable mining is possible, and what of those employed in these mines?

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Other stories this week:

Rajasthan locals vs administration to save a 600-year-old sacred grove

Read about the fight between locals and administration in western Rajasthan, near Jaisalmer, where the locals are fighting to save a 600-year-old sacred grove from high-tension power lines being laid in the area. This issue goes back to 2004, when the government took over the land in question and a portion of the Oran was left out in the official revenue department records, allowing district administrators to now claim that they are not officially laying the lines in Oran. Read more on this Azera Parveen Rahman for Mongabay India.

Update on locust swarms

The locust swarms continue, yet no significant crop loss has been reported as of the two weeks into August. Since April 11th, locust-control operations have been conducted in 2.6 lakh hectares in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Here’s more on this by Jayashree Bhosale for ET.

The cheap coal in India

You know how India manages to provide solar power for so cheap? It’s because it imports its materials from China. But in a bid to be more self-reliant, India plans to disallow Chinese firms from participating in the International Solar Alliance’ (ISA) price discovery tender. There are also plans to stop solar imports from China altogether in the continuing trade war between the two countries. More on this by Utpal Bhaskar for LiveMint and Sapna Gopal for Third Pole.

Reducing plastic waste 

A Singapore-based-NGO, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, plans to invest between $70 million to $100 million in India over the next five years to help in reducing plastic waste. India currently generates 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, and more than 10,000 tonnes isn’t collected. 

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Health

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A centralised health card

PM Modi announced the national health ID which comes with the 2018 recommendation of Niti Aayyog to help create a centralised mechanism which can involve users in the national health stack. 

The National Health Authority, in this regard, has said that those who want to have their health record in place can start by creating their health ID.

The health ID will be linked to a health data consent manager, such as the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). This will then seek consent from the patients to allow a seamless flow of information around personal health. The health id will be created using the person’s Aadhar ID and mobile number.

The health id is aimed to improve efficiency, transparency, and the experience of citizens across public and private healthcare systems and to “greatly reduce the risk of preventable medical errors and significantly increase quality of care”. 

Here’s more on the health ID in The Indian Express report by Prabha Raghavan and Pranav Mukul.

Other stories this week:

India’s death toll topples UK’s to become the world’s fourth-largest

India’s death toll has become the world’s largest as the infection continues to grow. Now, the death toll stands at over 49,000 with more than 2.53 million confirmed cases, out of which 1.81 million have recovered.

The rising number of deaths sees the PM touting the fatality rate, which stands at 2 percent and is one of the lowest in the world. However, the fact that India is only testing a fraction of its people has raised questions around the same. 

Here’s more on this by Ari Altstedter for Bloomberg.

More on how India is turning to faster tests in this BBC report by Shruti Menon.

Zydus Cadila launches cheapest remdesivir in India at Rs 2,800 per vial

Zydus Cadila launched the cheapest version of remdesivir in India to treat COVID-19 after reports of shortages in hospitals. The price stands at Rs 2,800 per vial and the medicine will be sold under the brand name Remdac to private and government hospitals that are treating COVID-19.

Read more on this.

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.LIFE

Weekly reads:

Last doctor standing: Pandemic pushes Indian hospital to brink by Danish Siddiqui for Reuters.

A taste of honey: how bees mend fences between farmers and elephants by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues for The Guardian.

Rapper who refused Bollywood to become voice of poor by Vandana Vijay for BBC.

Death by digital exclusion? : on faulty public distribution system in Jharkhand by Shiv Sahay Singh for The Hindu.

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That’s all for this week. See you next week, and take care! If you found our work interesting, spread the love a wee bit, would you?

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