Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Left Approach to Development

By: Prabhat Patnaik Vol XLV No.30 July 24, 2010
Against the “means-based approach” to development that the bourgeoisie projects, the left must project a “rights-based approach”. Since “rights” are guarantors of welfare gains, every winning of rights likewise strengthens them. The acquisition of rights on the part of the people, including rights to minimum bundles of goods, services and security, amounts therefore to winning crucial battles in the class war for the transcendence of capitalism. If the left were to put on its agenda a struggle for people’s rights and adopt a rights-based approach to development as opposed to the means-based approach of the bourgeois formations, it would not constitute a retreat into abstract humanism but would be an integral part of the dialectics of subversion of the logic of capital. (EPWP

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Media hype and the reality of “new” India

Poverty in at least eight States — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — was worse than in some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
In a week when Delhi's new “world-class” airport opened for business and the Indian Space Research Organisation celebrated the successful launch of five new satellites, we had a stark reminder of another India that, increasingly, many Indians feel embarrassed to talk about. A United Nations-backed study by Oxford University revealed that poverty in at least eight Indian States — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — was worse than in some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
The findings are based on a global poverty index, the Multidimensional Poverty Index or MPI, developed by Oxford University. It takes into account a range of social factors not hitherto considered while measuring poverty and will replace the Human Poverty Index (HPI) which, until now, has formed the basis for the annual U.N. Human Development Reports.
How's the new index significantly different from the traditional ways of measuring poverty and how will it make a difference on the ground? Here, Dr. Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), who has travelled extensively in India, speaks to Hasan Suroor:
Were you surprised by the finding that there are more poor people in eight Indian States than in the 26 poorest African states combined?
No, I wasn't really surprised, as the scale of Indian poverty is well known within the academic world —whether measured in income terms or multi-dimensionally. But the recent focus on India's phenomenal growth in the media has given the impression that the largest numbers of very poor people are in Sub-Saharan Africa rather than South Asia (where there are nearly twice as many MPI poor than in Africa). We wanted to test that impression.
To get this comparison, what we did was to set a more extreme poverty cut-off, which identified the Indian States and the African countries whose Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was equal or greater than 0.32 (the MPIs we calculated for 104 countries range from 0 to .64). Eight Indian States and 26 African countries fall below that cutoff. That's where this figure comes from.
To give an idea of what this means, the least poor entry is West Bengal (MPI = 0.32), in which 58 per cent of people are MPI poor, and they are on average deprived in 54 per cent of the dimensions or weighted indicators; in Niger 93 per cent of people are MPI poor.
Actually, the intensity of poverty in Africa is still higher — the population-weighted MPI for the 26 African countries is 0.43, whereas for the Indian States it is 0.39.
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West Bengal releases three District Human Development Reports

Kolkata - An in-depth study of three districts in the Indian state of West Bengal reveals that where you live can determine your well-being as there are wide variations in human development between districts and also between rural and urban populations.
According to recent surveys, in the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal gender gaps in literacy have been narrowing faster than the state average and more than one-third of women own land. In North 24 Parganas, however, the picture is mixed – with a rise in income and purchasing power in the ever-spreading urban areas, acute distress in the rural areas (in nearly 30% of rural households) and severe malnutrition in the slums. In Uttar Dinajpur district, women’s political empowerment is noteworthy at 35 percent of seats in Panchayati Raj Institutions even prior to reservation of seats for women but fertility rates of 4.9 are significantly higher than the state average of 2.4.
It is also reported that the Sunderbans in South 24 Parganas is highly vulnerable to climate change and it is estimated that 15 percent of the region will be submerged by 2020. Neglecting the Sunderbans can have global implications.
These are among the findings of the three District Human Development Reports (HDRs), for the districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Uttar Dinajpur, released by the Government of West Bengal, maintaining its lead as the state far ahead in incorporating the human development approach in planning at district-levels.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where are the Indian Poor: Tendulkar report

Carrie Grant visits India with

Singer and vocal coach to the stars Carrie Grant is visiting a new community development project in India with World Vision UK this week.
Carrie, who is best known for her work on television talent shows including Fame Academy and Pop Idol, will visit the Vaishali project in the country’s impoverished north-eastern state of Bihar.
The presenter is the face of Girls Night Out, a new World Vision event for women in the UK. The evenings, which launch in the autumn, aim to entertain and inspire while sharing stories about World Vision’s partnerships with women who live in developing countries.
Carrie said: “I'm very excited to be visiting Vaishali. It's a fairly new project for World Vision, so it'll be interesting to see how things are taking off.
“I know World Vision grounds its work in grassroots cooperation and I'm a great believer in community – it'll be good to meet the people and learn how the local experts are moving forward day to day.”
Child health
During her trip, Carrie will see examples of the project’s work to improve the health of children who live in the community.
Many children in Vaishali are impacted by severe health problems, including diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Malnutrition is the underlying cause in at least one-third of child deaths.
Carrie will watch a street theatre group highlight important health messages and meet staff and patients at the community’s only health centre, which serves almost 78,000 people.
She will also talk to women involved in a local self-help group, who have been supported to start small businesses that help them to provide for their children.
The first Girls Night Out will take place at St Mary's Church in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, on 10 September, with other dates around the country to follow.
26 July 2010

World Vision reaction to UN Matrnal health Plan

From this World Vision press release, the humanitarian organization gives its reaction to a new United Nations plan on maternal and child health. World Vision fights poverty worldwide by focusing on improving the lives of children and the communities around them, you can learn more about sponsoring a child by going to their website.
The new United Nations initiative for global maternal, newborn and child health is a promising step toward reinvigorating progress, but neglects to adequately address some important action points, according to World Vision, the world's largest international humanitarian organisation focusing on the well-being of children.Stopping parent-to-child transmission of HIV, providing universal access to treatment for all children and mothers who need it, and ensuring safe pregnancy and childbirth are all essential to improve overall health and survival, UN leaders and health experts emphasized this week at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. World Vision also underscores the importance of strengthening family and community care, a cornerstone of successful public health interventions."This UN-led plan will help build on the progress made in reducing needless deaths of children and mothers so far, and we commend the leadership that has made this health catastrophe a priority," Stefan Germann, director of global HIV and health partnerships for World Vision International, said today at a panel discussion in Vienna with officials from UNAIDS, UNICEF and other groups."However, some critical gaps remain - particularly when it comes to ensuring that life-saving interventions make it the last mile to the people who most need them," said Germann.The Joint Action Plan, first introduced in June, calls for all countries to revitalize efforts to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by further reducing preventable deaths of mothers and children worldwide. Millennium Development Goal 6, which includes reducing HIV and AIDS, calls for universal treatment access and a stop to new infections of children."To succeed in achieving these goals, health care options must be brought closer to households, and barriers to using these services must be reduced," said Germann. "Even the poorest countries can deliver on their pledges if supported with the right kind of technical expertise and appropriate levels of funding, as we've seen in several examples."Wealthy countries must be held accountable to deliver on aid pledges they have already made and urged to ensure an additional US $42.5 billion in health investment by 2015. G8 and G20 leaders at last month's summits in Canada fell far short of this. Any global plan should also press mid- to low-income country governments to move toward dedicating 15 percent of their national budgets to health, as African countries pledged in the Abuja declaration, and include maternal and child health in their national poverty reduction strategies.World Vision's own Child Health Now campaign, launched in November 2009, has recommitted the organisation to aligning its health work to prioritise maternal and child health, with US $1.5 billion over the next 5 years to help priority countries improve their health systems reaching the community and household level. World Vision responds to HIV and AIDS-related needs in nearly 60 countries."Children still lag far behind adults in access to HIV prevention and treatment, while many mothers face pregnancy and childbearing without access to ways to protect their babies from HIV, and we must close those gaps," said Germann."We have good technologies, good treatments," said Germann. "Getting those within a mile of people is easy, but to cover the 'last mile' is the hardest part. That is why we need to focus on strengthening community systems-local faith groups, churches and community health groups-anyone who is able to make sure that health care options reach those in need."