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Here’s why Pak’s 1st census in 17 years has been postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Non-availability of army personnel due to Indo-Pak tensions has forced authorities to indefinitely postpone Pakistan’s census, the first in 17 years, according to a media report on Sunday. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has not been able to come up with a concrete time frame for conducting the long- awaited sixth population and housing census in the country, Dawn reported. A meeting was convened by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to review PBS preparations for the census yesterday. Several such meetings have been held since the Council of Common Interests (CCI) decided to postpone the census in March 2016.But given the non-availability of army personnel due to escalating tensions along the Line of Control with India, it looks like the census will remain in limbo until the CCI revises its decision, the report said. The last census was held in Pakistan 17 years ago.”We are ready to hold the census,” a senior PBS official said, but maintained that the decision to conduct census with support from the army was taken in the CCI meeting held in March 2016. The bureau has completed its preparations, he said, adding that it was now up to the CCI to decide and give the bureau a roadmap moving forward. Following the decision to involve the army in the census exercise, the PBS estimated it would need around 167,000 army personnel to go door-to-door. In addition, the bureau estimated it would need an additional 20-30,000 personnel to supervise the census operation.A PBS official said that the army had estimated the total manpower for the census at around 300,000, but given the prevailing conditions on the LoC, it would be next to impossible to spare such a large chunk of human resource from the armed forces. Asked about the fate of the census, the official said it was up to the CCI to decide whether to go ahead without the army or not. But he was of the opinion that the involvement of army personnel would make the census results more acceptable and transparent. However, the government would decide the mode of the census, the official said.An official statement issued after the meeting said PBS Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa gave an overview of the preparations, apprising the meeting that the necessary preparations on the civilian side had been completed. The first census in Pakistan was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961 and the third in 1972 instead of 1971, due to political turmoil. The fourth census was held in March 1981 and the fifth, which was due in 1991, was conducted in March 1998 with the help of the army. Under the Constitution, the government is bound to conduct the population census every 10 years.

Tribal schools conduct pregnancy tests to curb sexual assault: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A report revealed that Maharashtra’s tribal residential schools, called ashramshalas, not only keep menstrual records of girls but also direct them to undergo urine tests if “dates are missed” to rule out pregnancy.Unfortunately, neither menstrual record nor pregnancy test can rule out sexual assault and exploitation.These startling revelations are part of the Dr Salunke committee report submitted to Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao over two weeks ago. Constituted by the Devendra Fadnavis government, following a lot of mysterious deaths in ashramshalas, the committee had expressed its fears that sexual assault and exploitation might have contributed to such a large number of death. Statistics show that there have been 1,077 deaths in ashramshalas, including 31 suicides, over the last decade. In 67% cases, the cause of death has been either missing or vague.On Friday, DNA spoke to three tribal school principals. All three confirmed that all students of menstruating age, who go home on vacation or even for two days, have to produce a medical certificate declaring “absence of pregnancy” when they return to the ashramshalas. “This is a common practice followed by almost every ashram school in Maharashtra,” a tribal school principal from Nandurbar said.Principals also said that if the girls residing in hostels miss their periods by 3-4 days, they are sent to a primary health centre for a medical check-up. “This primarily means a pregnancy test,” admits a principal from an ashramshala in Nashik district.When asked whether rules allow pregnancy test or mandate medical certificates after every vacation, principals claimed they are clueless but have been doing it for decades. “While most schools accept that they follow these practices, none could provide any document at the of inspection,” Dr Salunke said.”Urine pregnancy test and menstrual records are not the best response to sexual harassment. Pregnancy tests can also be an irritant for positive gender development and should not be undertaken without parental consent and proper counselling,” says the report.The report urged principals and the state administration to focus on the unsafe conditions of tribal schools. Taking serious cognisance of committee’s findings, the Governor has directed the Fadnavis government to take immediate steps to stop sexual assault and harassment of girls in tribal schools. He has also stipulated a three-week deadline for review.

Number of undertrials in prisons in India is the same as the population of Barbados

By Sneha Alexander

* Rudal Shah, arrested in 1953, remained in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur jail for 30 years despite being acquitted in 1968.

* Boka Thakur, arrested at age 16, was jailed and detained without trial for 36 years in Bihar’s Madhubani jail.

Shah and Thakur are examples of 282,879 undertrials in Indian prisons, according to Prison Statistics 2014, a number equal to the population of the Caribbean nation of Barbados.

An IndiaSpend analysis of available data reveals the extent of the problem: Between 2010 and 2014, 25% undertrials had been jailed for more than one year. The percentage of undertrials to total prisoners has remained over 65% during this period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

In 2014, seven in 10 prisoners were undertrials, and two in 10 had been detained for more than one year without being convicted.

Undertrials—those detained in prisons during trial, investigation or inquiry—are presumed innocent till proven guilty. But they are often subjected to psychological and physical torture during detention and exposed to prison violence and poor living conditions. Many lose their family ties and, often, their livelihoods.

Undertrials tend to have restricted access to legal representatives for two reasons: Lack of resources and curtailed liberty to communicate with lawyers from within the jail premises. This is despite a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that Article 21 of the Constitution entitles prisoners to a fair and speedy trial as part of their fundamental right to life and liberty.

The court also pointed out that prisoners face a “double handicap”—most are poor, come from disadvantaged social groups, have little education, and their voices are rarely heard.

“The judiciary and the government have admitted that many undertrials are poor people accused of minor offences, locked away for long periods because they don’t know their rights and cannot access legal aid,” Arijit Sen, manager, undertrials project at Amnesty International, an advocacy, told IndiaSpend in an email interview.

Undertrials often remain behind bars for years despite the provisions of Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which came into effect in 2005. This section mandates the release, on personal bond with or without surety, of undertrial detainees who have been imprisoned for half the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted for the offence they are charged with.

This section does not apply to those who could be sentenced to death or life term. But 39% of those charged for crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) couldn’t be punished with life term or death penalty, Prison Statistics 2014 show.

As many as 122,056 undertrial prisoners (43%) have been detained for more than six months to more than five years by the end of 2014. Many of them have remained in prison for more than the period of punishment they would have got had they been convicted.

Source: Prison Statistics, National Crime Records Bureau

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

J&K has the worst record for detention over one year

The number of undertrial prisoners in all detention periods increased over five years, except in the case of detention up to three months. The highest increase was seen in the category of detention for three-to-five years.


More than 25% of undertrial prisoners in 16 out of 36 states and union territories have been detained for more than one year in 2014. Jammu and Kashmir leads this list with 54%, followed by Goa (50%) and Gujarat (42%). Uttar Pradesh leads in terms of sheer numbers (18,214).

An attempt at reform

In June 2013, in a letter to the Supreme Court, former Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti had talked about how inhuman conditions persisted in 1,382 prisons despite a series of court and government orders.

In response to this letter, which was later registered as a public interest writ petition–and despite the lukewarm response from the states–the Supreme Court, in a landmark 2014 judgement, ordered the immediate release of undertrial prisoners eligible to benefit under Section 436A of the CrPc by establishing an Under Trial Review Committee (UTRC) in every district, recommended by a 2013 interim order.

A UTRC includes the district judge, district magistrate and district superintendent of police, collectively responsible for speedy trials and review of cases. “About 6,000 undertrial prisoners were released between July 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016. This is certainly a step in the right direction,” Sen said.

However, those released were 2% of undertrial prisoners in Indian jails. The pendency rate of IPC crimes–84% and 86% in 2014 and 2015, respectively–shows how slow the process of change will be.

Why the reform had little impact

One of the major causes of high pendency is vacancies in lower courts, IndiaSpend reported in December 2015. It would take a minimum of 12 years to clear 25 million pending cases in Indian courts, IndiaSpend had reported.

There is also little awareness among police and prison inmates about Section 436A of the CrPC. This section, which is a procedural mandate under CrPC, is often mistaken for an offence under IPC, according to Amnesty International.

Non-functional UTRCs, discrepancies in prison records, poor management of information systems, lack of effective legal aid and cancellation of trials due to shortage of police escorts and video conference facilities are factors that keep the number of undertrial prisoners in Indian jails high, reported Amnesty International.

(Alexander is a policy analyst with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative.)

Konkan Railway nabs liquor worth Rs 3.28 lakh in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Konkan Railway, despite having lesser number of Railway Protection Force (RPF) staff than the standard, is manfully fighting the liquor menace in its network. Statistics provided to dna by KR authorities show that in 2016, KR staff and RPF personnel patrolling trains, confiscated 4427 bottles of liquor worth Rs 3.28 lakhs and arrested 27 bootleggers against 12 bootleggers and 3936 bottles of liquor worth Rs 2.68 lakhs in 2015.”It is very clear that KRCL and RPF are trying their best to curb this menace,” said KR chief spokesperson KL Verma. KR officials who spoke to dna however maintained that, the primary responsibility of curbing liquor smuggling is with the state excise department and the police, both of which are state government organisations.”The responsibility of the RPF is to look into passenger security, especially since KR is the connector between Mumbai and some tourist-heavy destinations like Goa and Kerala. Therefore chances of thefts of passengers’ belongings from trains is fairly high and the RPF has to be fully geared to thwart it. However, as far as liquor smuggling is concerned, the RPF does carry out regular checks at stations and also inside trains to ensure that these activities are curbed. The provision of CCTV at 17 KR stations will greatly reduce these activities in future,” said a senior KR official.As reported by dna in its September 18 edition, the KR route is spread over 740 kilometre and has about hardly 80 RPF personnel at disposal, due to the large number of vacancies in their sanctioned strength of 129 personnel. Everyday, KR operates 42 pairs of express trains, 9 passenger trains and 17 freight trains, topped by a large number of holiday specials that run to cater to the passenger rush in festive seasons.

Mumbai: Western Railway’s protection force does better than last year to combat theft

The railway ministry’s recent emphasis on gradually building up the Railway Protection Force into the prime crime-fighting agency on the railway network seems to be paying off. Statistics, made available to dna by Western Railway’s RPF Mumbai division unit, show that for the first five months of the year, the number of cases detected as well as persons arrested reveal that the force is well on its way to better the performance it came up with in 2015. The cases pertain to theft of passenger belonging (TOPB), said RPF officials.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While all of 2015, the RPF had detected 47 cases, this year between January and May, the RPF had already detected 44 cases. It arrested 54 people last year for stealing passenger belongings, while this year till May the number of arrests have already touched 48.In 2015, the RPF had managed to recover about 12 per cent of the value of things stolen from passengers. In comparison, the January to May period this year has been better with recovery of stolen items standing at 19 per cent. However, officials agreed that recovering stolen items continued to remain the toughest ask as far as railway crime-fighting was concerned.”It is almost certain that we will be making more cases, arresting more people and detecting more cases than previous years. The emphasis is to turn the force into a proper crime and policing unit so that one day the RPF can become the sole policing agency on the railways, something like the Federal Railway Police prevalent in many countries,” said a senior RPF officer.One of the major security changes that the railway ministry wants to make on the railway network is to turn the current three-tier police system into a two-tier one. Currently, the railways has the RPF (which is under the railway ministry), the government railway police (under respective state governments) and the district police (also under the state government).The railway ministry wants to have just the RPF for policing on the railway network while the district police will take care of all cases falling under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.Numbers game:Property stolen from passengers between Jan-May 2016: Rs1.7 croresProperty recovered during the same period: Rs32.47 lakhs (around 19 per cent of the total value)Property stolen from passengers during 2015: Rs6.87 croreProperty recovered during the same period- Rs83.31 lakh (around 12 per cent)

WHO’s health report card confirms India’s massive non communicable disease burden

Diseases of the heart and of the lung remain the bane of India’s disease burden, being the top two causes of the deaths, respectively as shown by the recently released WHO World Health Statistics Report, 2016. Ischemic heart Disease (IHD) killed 1215400 people in 2012, 12.4 per cent of total deaths. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic lung disease killed 1061900 people, 10.8 per cent total deaths.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The data comes as no surprise, only yet another confirmation of India’s overwhelming non communicable disease burden.In the data studied from 2000 to 2012, the ‘ranks’ of these two conditions had not changed, among India’s top ten causes of deaths, pointing to the long term prevalence of NCDs. What has gone up in the studied period were deaths by stroke, killing 9 percent people overall, 881700 in absolute numbers.In broader groups, NCDs again contributed to maximum deaths among men and women; deaths by cardiovascular disease and diabetes together having gone up for both from 2000 to 2012.Worryingly though, what also went up were deaths by self harm and deaths by road accidents. Though eight and tenth on the list respectively the numbers are high enough for concern. Though data here has been studied up till 2012, a recent report by The Lancet said that suicide was now the leading cause of death among adolescents.India is hardly alone in its battle against NCDs, as IHD, COPD and strokes have remained top killers globally, according to the WHO data. It also showed that “road traffic injuries claimed about 3400 lives each day in 2012, about three-quarters of whom were men and boys.”In India, the lack of road safety kills 1.5 lakh a year, causing 3 per cent economic loss to India’s GDP. This contributes to 10 percent of the “global crisis”, says a statement put out by Save Life Foundation, that looked specifically at the road accident data in the report.Across the world, 1.25 million people died in 2013 from road accidents. The Foundation’s statement called out the systemic issues in India’s road laws and “missing safety standards for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and even children.”India’s estimated road death rate (per 100000 population) for 2013 was 16.6. Among its neighbours, Pakistan’s was 14.2, Sri Lanka 17.4, Bangladesh 13.6, China 18.8.The United States of America had a rate of 10.6. The safest roads, according to the study are in Canada, Australia, and across the European Union.Maximum deaths, 90 per cent, occur in Low to Middle Income Countries (LMIC), which have 84 per cent of the world’s population and 54 per cent registered vehicles. The causes, it reasons are “poor or poorly implemented regulations, inadequate road and vehicle quality, a higher proportion of vulnerable road users and increasing vehicle numbers.”India has to meet its Sustainable Development Goals target of 50 per cent reduction in current level of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020. However, the foundation said, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is too outdated to account for the rapid increase in vehicles on roads, a phenomenon seen across developing countries. In the 27-year period since its enactment, deaths caused due to road crashes have increased by 300 per cent.

Does India need a unified labour management system

Who would build such a system?The government needs to build an integrated database of the profiles of all the employed and unemployed people across industries. Such a database will consist of details of an individual’s educational background, employment status, current package, designation, key skills, interests etc. The database will also consist of the profiles of all the public and private sector employers and their job vacancies, location of opening, trade specializations, number of skilled resources required, salary bands, time frames, etc.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>How would this labour management system function?The employee database would be accessible to employers and employees across industries. This will enable the employees to understand the industry demands in terms of the skills, experience, qualifications required by their dream employers. This will also help employees keep a track of the emerging job roles in their field of interest for their perusal. For the employers, this database serves like a matchmaker- to match the right person with the right skills and interest for the right job. It will also help the employers to analyse the hiring trends of other companies to make an informed decision thus improving their hiring process and eventually reducing costs. Is there a system like this anywhere else in the world?In India, we do have Labour management systems. However, there is a lack of integration between the public and private sector industries. For example, the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labour and has a labour management system used to collect, process, analyze, and disseminate essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labour representatives. This provides all the stakeholders a statistical resource to do their research and plan their talent pipelines accordingly. How would this benefit everybody involved?In India, a majority of the fresh graduates, with years of college education from some of the country’s top 100 colleges fail to secure employment on campus placements. Despite initiatives like Skill India and Make in India by the government, there still exists a huge mismatch, with students claiming lack of opportunities and organizations claiming a lack of skilled talent. Hence, such an integrated system will benefit the private and public sector employers to find the right job for the right talent as well as help the employees to get the right job to fulfill their dream career. It will also help the skill development institutions to understand the industry demands and accordingly train the students with relevant skills required to bridge the skill gaps in the industry.