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Live and Express


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Does #India have space for illegal immigrants?

A touchy, sensitive issue of the illegal immigration from Bangladesh, which has been raised several times. I am hoping that in the recent meet between Indian External Affairs minister and the Bangladesh Premier, this would have been brought up by the Indian minister.

Why is this a big problem? Because India has enough resource issues already in the Indian states surrounding Bangladesh, with average 5 times more population than the ideal according to this Wikipedia source. Out of the 8 Indian states near Bangladesh (Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram), the immediate neighbors of Bihar and West Bengal have very high population density above 1000 persons / sq.km (Note : ideal for India is 197 persons / sq.km).

Source: http://populationmatters.org/documents/overshoot_country.pdf

The problem gets compounded multi-fold, because once the illegal immigrants get into India, they can spread out to other states very easily because of the ubiquitous availability of Indian trains.

If you look at the Indian railway maps and the traffic, you will see that the corridor between Assam and NCR is the most densely traveled in the entire India.  This leads to illegal immigrants getting into states like Uttar Pradesh, which already has high population density of 828 persons / sq.km. Not only this, these people travel to states as far south as Kerala to do labor work. A typical example is the Guwahati-Trivandrum express (Indian railways train no. 12516), which I have personally traveled in from near Chennai to Kerala, and witnessed the migration (illegal or not). Mind you – not even ticket checking in even reserved compartments, forget about identification).

Doesn’t India have enough population to deal with, on its own?  Does India need this additional head-ache?

Some measures of eradicating this issue have been considered – like National Population Register and Aadhar card, which are good, and need to be fast-tracked.  The identification schemes should be implemented in the Indian states neighboring Bangladesh at the first place on priority, as that’s where the illegal immigration needs be contained.

There are challenges like lookalike of Bangladeshis with Indian Bengal people, cultural similarities, same language, which are impediments to effective implementation, but modern technologies like fingerprint, retina and genes identification should be implemented, and mere photo identification and signature has not proven sufficient!

Will the Home ministry take fast action before the problem gets out of hand? It’s a very necessary step towards containing India Population.

 

 

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Hydro-power from Bhutan – a good source but only temporary relief

In a welcome move, India has started partnering with Bhutan for getting low-cost, clean, hydro-energy. According to the reports, these plants have capacity to deliver around 6750 MW power daily by 2016-17, when every project is finished. Totally, 10 projects have been planned, out of which some have already started delivering.

Now, let’s look at the demand situation. The neighboring Indian states which have huge population density are Bihar and West Bengal. While Bihar says it is going to generate surplus energy in the coming years, it has to be seen. Currently it has an energy requirement of around 3000 MW every day. As a state, it has the largest population density, and it remains to be seen how it would tackle the increase in population vis-a-vis the supply of power.

West Bengal is claiming that it has 15 to 20 percent of surplus energy. But, industrial demand of energy, which amounts to 40% of the total requirement, has increased only 4% in the near past, because of industrial slowdown. This situation is going to change, and industry is going to pick-up across India, because of the new Central Government. In this case, additional energy will be required.

While power from Bhutan will definitely take some load off of at least two states near Bhutan, one has to look and plan for the far future.

Out of the 4 Indian states (apart from the Union territories) which have the highest population density, 3 of them are in the north-central-east region (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal).  This corridor (starting from West Bengal to the National Capital Region of Delhi) has been having the maximum population density and also the highest railway traffic and movement of human beings (as can be verified from railways maps).  Power has been and going to be a big problem if population is not contained by policies, with focus on these three states. The other state is Kerala, which needs attention too.

Indian Ministry of Home presumably is well-aware of this situation, and hopefully taking the right strides in containing India Population.


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Muhammad Yunus – the inspirator!

My friend, who works for RangDe had invited me to watch a video that was to be screened on the event of RangDe’s 6th birthday, on January 26th.

I was a bit familiar with RangDe’s work, and I have had the opportunity to interact with their people a couple of times. I was thinking probably it’s about the work that RangDe is doing in the areas of microcredit to needy people in India.

What I saw was totally incredible – it was a documentary video called ‘Bonsoi People’ by Holly Mosher, which talked about how Muhammad Yunus transformed the lives of millions of people in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. The model is ‘Teach a man to fish’ instead of giving them the fish. It totally made sense to me, as I think – enabling them with the little capital that they need to stand on their own legs will make them take their lives in their own hands and thrive.

A typical example was shown in the video – an enterprising mother, who started with a small loan – how she expanded her economic wellbeing by slowly – educating her child and making him to dream to become a fashion businessman, constructing a house, helping her neighbors by giving them work, etc.

This particular case in Bangladesh – The Grameen bank – for which Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Price for Peace (Note: not for economics) – strongly displays the point that microcredit is not sucking money from people, but enabling them at grass roots. Muhammad believes that peace can be achieved only if there’s economic wellbeing among the masses – and it shows. His Grameen bank has touched the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh to take their lives in their own hands. 97% of them are women!

It was also interesting to note that Grameen Bank didn’t just stop by giving loans and then collecting them- they have a bank representative who becomes like a family member and cares for what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with their clients. If they have a problem, they try to address it. They give directives to the people on how to live – for example, they stress that having a strong house and roof is important for people – because if they get wet or infected, their health is affected and sometimes they even die.

They have 16 such directives. The one that touched me the most was ‘Limit the no. of babies that you have, so that you can care for them’. How true! How much I wish this message is passed on to the central Indian states where people are having babies just for labour! How are we going to spread the message of having less children, so that they can care enough for them, and also thus not contribute to the country’s burgeoning population! Yes, I feel, an attempt should be made.

India might be a different story from Bangladesh. The dynamics might be different, and the approach could be different to eradicate poverty, bring economic wellbeing, and then bring sense into them to make them not have more and more babies. But, the concept is the same. How it needs be made aware, communicated to the most economically backward rural, is what needs be worked on.

If you are interested in this area of work, please leave a comment with your contact information in the comments section, and I will get in touch with you!