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SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
FEBRUARY 1, 2019
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
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End of the road for Tata Nano
It was billed as the world’s cheapest car
and shaped like a jelly bean. But, after a
bumpy 10-year ride, India’s Tata Nano
is nearing the end of the road.
Indian automaker Tata Motors said
that it could stop manufacturing and
selling the vehicle from April next year
due to new safety and emissions rules
that would require major investment.
Tata launched the Nano, a compact
four or five-door hatchback, with great
fanfare in 2009 when its first edition
went on the market for around $2,200.
Crocodiles relocated in Gujarat
About 300 crocodiles are being
relocated from a reservoir next to the
statue of independence hero Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat to start a
seaplane service for visitors.
This provides an additional route of
transport for tourists as there are no
train services to the statue and most of
them reach the site by bus.
The crocodiles are being lured into
metal cages and sent elsewhere in the
Conservationists have criticised the
plan. Community Science Centre
Director Jitendra Gavali said the
decision to remove the crocodiles was a
violation of the country’s wildlife
Rahul dines at Goa restaurant
Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi
took people by surprise at the popular
Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant in South
Goa last Sunday when he had lunch
there with his mother Sonia Gandhi.
After attending the Republic Day
celebrations in Delhi, they flew to Goa
for a three-day private visit.
The mother-son duo posed for
photographs and selfies with patrons of
the restaurant who had arrived for a
Goa-based dentist Rachna
Fernandes told IANS that the two
Congress leaders had their lunch with
no security guards present.
She later took a picture with
Mr Gandhi and posted it on Instagram
with the caption: “Awed by his charm
Shops in Indian airports to sell
local products and handicrafts
India will get over 100 additional
airports, in addition to the existing
101 aviation facilities in a few years,
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu
He added that all the airports will
have “shops promoting local products
and handicrafts manufactured locally”.
For example, shops at the airport in
Goa will sell cashew nuts and related
“Every tourist who comes to Goa
wants to take back something that is
unique – not something that he can get
in Manhattan or New York. It may be a
small little memento but something
that is unique,” Mr Prabhu said.
India’s fastest train to be called
Vande Bharat Express
India’s fastest train will be called Vande
Bharat Express, Railways Minister
Piyush Goyal has announced.
The air-conditioned train, which has
16 coaches, has received statutory
clearances for commercial operations.
It will run between Delhi and
Varanasi at a maximum speed of
160kmh. The train will stop at Kanpur
and Allahabad and the fare is likely to
be higher compared to what is charged
in Shatabdi trains.
Uttar Pradesh to build world’s
Uttar Pradesh will be home to the
world’s longest highway – the Ganga
Expressway between Meerut and
Prayagraj. The 600km expressway will
be built at a cost of Rs36,000 crores.
The proposed Ganga Expressway
will weave through
Bareli-Pratapgarh and end at Prayagraj.
Colourful festival revives
ancient Indian cultures
Folk music, performances and exhibits
were part of the annual five-day
Lokrang Samaroh held to celebrate
ancient Indian cultures in Bhopal,
Folk dances of the state, Baredi and
Matki, accompanied by traditional
music played on the dhol, flute and
timki caught the attention of visitors to
Various cultural dances from
Haryana, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh,
Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Gujarat and
Tripura were also staged.
The exhibitions at the festival
showcased exclusive products of
Madhya Pradesh and people got to
witness demonstrations of textile
The festival is usually held for five
days around India’s Republic Day.
February 1, 2019
The election of three former bonded
labourers to village councils on Wednes-
day is a game-changer for millions in In-
dia who are trafficked to work and pay
off debts, experts said.
One of the trail-blazing winners was
Ms Kudumula Devamma, 40, who spent
two decades fishing to repay loans taken
by her father-in-law and husband in
southern Telangana state.
More than 100 labourers, some of
whom had been in bondage for three
generations, were forced to sell their
catch to the abusive family who owned
The family members used intimida-
tion to prevent them leaving the village,
before they were rescued in 2016.
“It is something I never dreamt of,”
said Ms Devamma, one the first female
former bonded labourers to be elected to
a panchayat or village council. “My first
priority is to improve the condition of
my community and help them stay free.”
Millions of bonded labourers work in
India in fields, brick kilns, rice mills,
brothels and as domestic workers to pay
Most are illiterate, keep no records,
are paid a pittance and do not know how
long it will take to pay off their debt.
Two other survivors of debt bondage,
the most prevalent form of slavery in In-
dia despite being banned in 1976, were
also elected to councils in the area.
India announced an ambitious goal
in 2016 to rescue more than 18 million
bonded labourers by 2030.
But freedom is rarely enough to en-
able former slaves to move on.
Most rescued workers battle “captiv-
ity mentality” as they are too scared to
admit to suffering, such as sexual abuse,
for fear of retribution from their former
owners, counsellors said.
“What these men and women have
achieved is quite remarkable and will
change the rules of the game,” said
Mr C. H. Vasudeva Rao, project coordi-
nator with the charity Foundation for
Sustainable Development, which res-
cues bonded labourers.
“Their journey from captivity to be-
ing leaders is inspirational. Today’s vic-
tory is a great opportunity to speed up
the rehabilitation for others in the area.”
Campaigners hope Wednesday’s
poll victory will raise awareness about
modern-day slavery and ensure other
rescued workers get access to govern-
ment schemes offering compensation,
housing and employment via village
When Ms Renu Devi – rescued from
agricultural bondage in 2014 – narrowly
beat her “owner’s” candidate in pan-
chayat elections in the eastern Bihar
state in 2017, her first move was to build
a road connecting her village to the rest
of the region.
“It takes months of ‘freedom train-
ing’ before a rescued worker finds the
confidence to even speak up,” said
Mr Zahid Hussain, programme coor-
dinator with Justice Ventures Interna-
tional, a local anti-trafficking charity.
“When I first met Renu Devi, she was
scared and didn’t speak at all. Today she
is too bold.”
Unemployment hits 45-year high
Unemployment in India rose to a
45-year high during 2017-2018, the
Business Standard reported yesterday,
quoting a government survey.
The assessment by the National Sam-
ple Survey Office conducted between
July 2017 and June 2018 showed the un-
employment rate stood at 6.1 per cent,
the highest since 1972-73.
The survey has become a political is-
sue after the acting chairman and an-
other member of the body that reviewed
the job data resigned, saying there was a
delay in its release.
The head of the government-funded
National Statistical Commission P.C. Mo-
hanan said he and colleague J.
Meenakshi were unhappy at the non-
publication of jobs data that had been
due for release in December and alleged
interference by other state agencies.
Business Standard said joblessness
stood at 7.8 per cent in urban areas and
5.3 per cent in the countryside.
The unemployment rate among the
youth reached a record high in 2017-18
compared to the previous year and was
much higher compared to the overall
population, highlighted the report.
“For educated rural females, the un-
employment rate ranged between 9.7
per cent and 15.2 per cent between
2004-05 and 2011-12, which rose to
17.3 per cent in 2017-18,” the report
said. In case of rural educated males, the
joblessness rate surged to 10.5 per cent
in 2017-18 from 3.5-4.4 per cent be-
tween 2004-05 and 2011-12.
For instance, the rate of joblessness
among rural males in the age group
15-29 years jumped more than three-
fold to 17.4 per cent in 2017-18 versus
5 per cent in 2011-12.
In the case of female youths in rural
areas, the unemployment rate stood at
13.6 per cent in 2017-18 as compared to
4.8 per cent in 2011-12.
“The youth is moving away from the
agriculture sector as it is becoming less
remunerative and moving to urban ar-
eas. On the sectoral front, construction,
which was one of the biggest employers
in urban areas, witnessed major tur-
moil,” the newspaper quoted Mr Madan
Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Rat-
ings, as saying.
In a similar trend, the labour force
participation rate – population working
or seeking jobs – declined 36.9 per cent
in 2017-18 compared to 39.5 per cent in
The data is significant as it was the
first comprehensive assessment of In-
dia’s employment situation done after
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deci-
sion in November 2016 to withdraw
most of the country’s banknotes from
circulation overnight, the report said.
India’s economy has been expanding
by 7 per cent plus annually – the fastest
pace among major economies – but the
uneven growth has meant there are not
enough jobs created for millions of
young Indians entering the workforce.
Earlier this month, the Centre for
Monitoring Indian Economy, a leading
independent think-tank, said as many
as 11 million jobs were lost last year.
From captivity to leaders
“For educated rural
ranged between 9.7 per
cent and 15.2 per cent
between 2004-5 and 2011-12,
which rose to 17.3 per cent in
– The report in the Business Standard
Protesters in New Delhi demonstrating against the increase in unemployment.
February 1, 2019
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