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May 4, 2013
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BIG CITY WOES
The New York Times recently carried an article written by Lydia Polgreen on how rural to urban migration has caused displacement and a crunch on the cities' resources. She writes: "Mahitosh Sarkar came here from his distant village in West Bengal 12 years ago looking for a better life, and he found it. He abandoned the penniless existence of a subsistence fisherman to become a big-city vegetable seller. His wife found work as a maid. Their four children went to school. Their tiny household, a grim but weather-tight room in a dilapidated tenement, had a color TV and a satellite dish. But these days Mr. Sarkar is counting losses, not blessings. His 10-year-old son died along with more than 70 others when their tenement collapsed on Nov. 15. His wife is in the hospital with a broken leg. All of their possessions, including that color TV, are gone. The crumbled remains of the illegal building in which the Sarkar family lived in a riverside neighborhood of East Delhi have become an emblem of India's failure to come to grips with its urban explosion. " Talking about the rural to urban migration that has caused massive infrastructural shortages Polgreen says: "A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that by 2030, 70 percent of India's jobs would be created in cities, and about 590 million Indians would live in them. To provide enough housing and commercial space, it said, India must build the equivalent of the city of Chicago every year. But it has no such plans, and the cities already here are buckling under the strain of their new arrivals. From Mumbai to Bangalore, Delhi to Chennai, roads are perpetually choked. Sewers, water lines and electricity are lacking. Polgreen also writes as to how many Indian cities especially Delhi has building codes and zoning laws that were originally written for a much lower population density and today with vast exodus of manpower from outskirts those codes do not cater to the present scenario leaving cities in complete state of disorder and forcing people to thrive in slums.
INDIAN BRIDES FOR SALE
Dean Nelson in The Telegraph writes about the grave condition of women being sold in India's poorest states. He pins the trend to the practice of female infanticide which has resulted in skewed sex ratios in many North Indian states. Nelson writes: "According to a survey by one of India's leading women's rights groups, one 15-year-old girl was sold to a family in Haryana for around £15. The group, Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra, surveyed 10, 000 families in Haryana - believed to be one of India's worst affected by female infanticide - and found 318 cases of women who had been sold by their families as brides. Many of the women were from Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, three of India's poorest states. " Citing reports from the Times of India, Nelson says that most of the demands from brides stem from the Jat tribe of Haryana who shell out anything between £15 to more than £2, 000 for a suitable bride. Nelson further observes: "Haryana state has seen a sharp decline in the number of girls per thousand boys in the last year. The demand for sons has led to the growth of illegal sex determination tests and abortions where the results indicate a girl - considered a burden in a society where dowries and wedding ceremony costs have risen sharply. In Faridabad, a satellite town of the capital New Delhi, the number of girls born per thousand boys has fallen from 903 in 2009 to 877 this year. " The article also discusses how commercial agents organise these matches and fix the amount payable to the party concerned. In his article, Nelson also delves into how in many parts of rural India girl child are still considered burdensome because of age old practices such as dowry.
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