The Hindu – India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s ‘missing females’, says UN report

The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years – from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

New York – United Nations, 30 June 2020. India accounts for 45.8 million of the world’s 142.6 million “missing females” over the past 50 years, a report by the United Nations said on Tuesday, noting that the country along with China form the majority of such women globally.

The State of World Population 2020 report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world organisation’s sexual and reproductive health agency, said that the number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, from 61 million in 1970 to a cumulative 142.6 million in 2020.

Of this global figure, India accounted for 45.8 million missing females as of 2020 and China accounted for 72.3 million.

Missing females are women missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past, the agency said.

Girls ‘missing’ in India at birth

Between 2013 and 2017, about 460,000 girls in India were ‘missing’ at birth each year.

According to one analysis, gender-biased sex selection accounts for about two-thirds of the total missing girls, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about one-third, the report said.

Citing data by experts, it said that China and India together account for about 90-95 per cent of the estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million missing female births annually worldwide due to gender-biased (prenatal) sex selection.

The two countries also account for the largest number of births each year, it said.

The report cites data by Alkema, Leontine and others, 2014 ‘National, Regional, and Global Sex Ratios of Infant, Child, and under-5 Mortality and Identification of Countries with Outlying Ratios: A Systematic Assessment’ from The Lancet Global Health.

Highest rate of excess female deaths

According to their analysis, India has the highest rate of excess female deaths, 13.5 per 1,000 female births, which suggests that an estimated one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 may be attributed to postnatal sex selection.

The report notes that governments have also taken action to address the root causes of sex selection.

India and Vietnam have included campaigns that target gender stereotypes to change attitudes and open the door to new norms and behaviours.

They spotlight the importance of daughters and highlight how girls and women have changed society for the better.

Campaigns that celebrate women’s progress and achievements may resonate more where daughter-only families can be shown to be prospering, it said.

The report said that successful education-related interventions include the provision of cash transfers conditional on school attendance; or support to cover the costs of school fees, books, uniforms and supplies, taking note of successful cash-transfer initiatives such as ‘Apni Beti Apna Dhan’ in India.

It said that preference for a male child manifested in sex selection has led to dramatic, long-term shifts in the proportions of women and men in the populations of some countries.

Demographic imbalance

This demographic imbalance will have an inevitable impact on marriage systems. In countries where marriage is nearly universal, many men may need to delay or forego marriage because they will be unable to find a spouse, the report said.

This so-called “marriage squeeze”, where prospective grooms outnumber prospective brides, has already been observed in some countries and affects mostly young men from lower economic strata.

“At the same time, the marriage squeeze could result in more child marriages, the report said citing experts.

Some studies suggest that the marriage squeeze will peak in India in 2055. The proportion of men who are still single at the age of 50 is forecast to rise after 2050 in India to 10 per cent, it said.

The UN report said that every year, millions of girls globally are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities.

At least 19 harmful practices, ranging from breast ironing to virginity testing, are considered human rights violations, according to the UNFPA report, which focuses on the three most prevalent ones: female genital mutilation, child marriage, and extreme bias against daughters in favour of sons.

Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential, says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

Female genital mutilations

This year, an estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation.

Today, 33,000 girls under age 18 will be forced into marriages, usually to much older men and an extreme preference for sons over daughters in some countries has fuelled gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect that leads to their death as children, resulting in the 140 million missing females.

The report said that ending child marriage and female genital mutilation worldwide is possible within 10 years by scaling up efforts to keep girls in school longer and teach them life skills and to engage men and boys in social change.

Investments totalling USD 3.4 billion a year through 2030 would end these two harmful practices and end the suffering of an estimated 84 million girls, it said.

A recent analysis revealed that if services and programmes remain shuttered for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 13 million girls may be forced into marriage and 2 million more girls may be subjected to female genital mutilation between now and 2030.

The pandemic both makes our job harder and more urgent as so many more girls are now at risk, Kanem said.

The Hindu – Gunmen attack Pakistan stock exchange in Karachi, seven killed

The gunmen attacked the building with grenades and guns, media reported.

Karachi – Sindh – Pakistan 29 June 2020. Gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in the city of Karachi on Monday killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed all four of the attackers, police said.

Separatist insurgents from Balochistan province, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility in a post on Twitter but Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the claim and spokesmen for the group were not available for comment.

“We locked ourselves in our offices,” Asad Javed, who works at a brokerage in the stock exchange building, which is in a high security zone that also houses the head offices of several banks, told Reuters.

Javed said he was on the ground floor when he heard gunfire and an explosion and people scattered for safety.

The police chief in Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub, Ghulam Nabi Memon, told Reuters the gunmen attacked with grenades and guns after pulling up in a silver Corolla car.

They threw a grenade at security men posted outside the compound then opened fire on a security post. The four were killed when security forces posted there responded.

Their car was abandoned where they left it.

Two guards and a policeman were killed and seven people were wounded, Deputy Inspector General of Police Sharjil Kharal told media.

A counter-terrorism official told Reuters the attackers were carrying significant quantities of ammunition and grenades in backpacks.

The BLA claimed responsibility in a brief message on a Twitter account set up shortly before the raid, describing it as a “self-sacrificing” attack carried out by its Majeed brigade.

The account was suspended a short time after the attack.

Separatists have been fighting for years in resource-rich Balochistan, complaining the southwestern province’s gas and mineral wealth is unfairly exploited by Pakistan’s richer, more powerful provinces.

The BLA’s Majeed brigade also took responsibility for an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in 2018. Several projects linked to China’s Belt and Road initiative are in Balochistan.

This month, three explosions on the same day claimed by a little-known separatist group killed four people including two soldiers in the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is capital.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange did not suspend trading during the attack. Its main KSE-100 index dropped 220 points but it later recovered and was 200 points higher at 0830 GMT.

Islamist militants have also launched attacks in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan over the years but their violence has become less frequent after military operations against various factions in strongholds on the Afghan border.

The Hindu – Taliban says it will punish kidnappers of Afghan Sikh, denies role in abduction

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 25 June 2020. Nedan Singh was kidnapped in Chamkani district of Paktia province in Afghanistan on June 22 in the second such incident in recent months

The Taliban was not involved in the kidnapping of a leader of the Sikh community who was abducted by unknown persons in Paktia province of Afghanistan and his abductors would face justice from the group, the Afghan Taliban said on Thursday.

The statement from the outfit came three days after Nedan Singh was kidnapped in Chamkani district of Paktia in the second such incident in recent months.

“As a policy, we don’t kidnap any one, nor have we kidnapped this gentleman. Our goal is clear, that is putting an end to the [foreign] occupation. No question, if we find his kidnappers, we will send them to our courts to punish them as per the law,” Suhail Shaheen, spokesman of the political office of the Taliban, said in a message to The Hindu.

The statement is aimed at putting to rest speculations about the group’s involvement in the incident. The relatives of Mr Singh had received phone calls from Afghanistan and the callers claimed that they were part of the Taliban.

But Mr Shaheen said the kidnappers were not part of the group and had committed a crime.

The spokesman had earlier said the Taliban remained “committed to minority rights” and blamed the Islamic State fighters for the 25 March attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul which left at least 25 persons dead.

Mr Singh went missing on 22 June from Chamkani, Paktia, where he was a regular visitor as the caretaker of the Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Gurdwara which is considered special because of historic and religious reasons.

It is believed that the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, had visited the region during his tour of Afghanistan in the 15th century.

India had described the incident as a “matter of grave concern”, saying Delhi was in contact with the government of Afghanistan to ensure “safety, security and well-being of the minority community in Afghanistan.

We believe the government of Afghanistan would be able to secure safe and early release of Mr. Nedan Singh”.

The Hindu – The court noted that the probe agency had failed to file the chargesheet within 90 days from his arrest.

New Delhi – India, 19 June 2020. Suspended Jammu and Kashmir DSP Davinder Singh, arrested while ferrying two Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terrorists in a vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway earlier this year, was granted bail by a Delhi court on Friday, his lawyer said.

Singh and another accused in the case, Irfan Shafi Mir, were granted the relief by the court in a case filed by a special cell of the Delhi Police, noting that the probe agency failed to file the chargesheet within 90 days from his arrest, as prescribed under law, their lawyer M S Khan said.

The bail was granted on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties of like amount.

The Hindu – Two CISF personnel at Indian Mission in Pakistan missing for two hours

The matter has been taken up with Pakistan authorities, according to defence sources

Dinakar Peri

New Delhi – India, 15 June 2020. Two Indian High Commission officials in Pakistan are missing for the last two hours and the matter was taken up with Pakistan authorities, defence sources said on Monday.

“One vehicle with two Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) drivers had gone out for duty but did not reach the destination,” defence sources said.

The Hindu – Comment : Reimagining India-China border roads

Analysts point out that there has been a fundamental difference between the Indian and Chinese approach

Atul Aneja

New Delhi – India, 11 June 2020. Two rounds of military dialogue between India and China to end the Ladakh stand-off have brought into sharp focus their apprehensions on road construction along the unsettled frontiers.

Media readouts following the talks suggest that to China’s objections to Indian border road construction along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian side politely but firmly told Beijing that it should shed double standards.

China has already established a sophisticated road and rail network in its two strategic regions, Xinjiang and Tibet, that border India, and extended it in the direction of the LAC.

India has, therefore, only responded to the per-existing “facts on the ground”.

But analysts point out that there has been a fundamental difference between the Indian and Chinese approach to construction of border infrastructure outside the immediate vicinity of the LAC.

After launching its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s primary focus has been essentially geo-economic, to build connectivity for trade and investment on a Eurasian scale, rather than geopolitical, with the use of border roads for military purposes, only as part of its plan-B.

“In India, we fail to grasp that the DNA of the Chinese civilization is geo-economic, not so much about capturing territory through military conquests, but about capturing markets and resources based on trade and investments,”

P Stobdan, former Indian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, who specialises on China and Himalayan studies told The Hindu.

Kishore Mahbubani, a Singaporean academic and former diplomat spotlights that China’s strategic culture shaped over the last 2,000 years persuades the Middle Kingdom from fighting “unnecessary wars”.

“Two thousand years of Chinese history have created a strategic culture that advises against fighting unnecessary wars in distant places.

The likelihood, therefore, is that, while China’s strategic weight and influence in the world will grow significantly, it will not behave as an aggressive and belligerent military power,” says Mr Mahbubani in his book, Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy.

On the contrary, India’s long overdue road construction, including the arterial links to the Darbuk- Shyok- Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road, which China has vigorously opposed by deploying troops and heavy armour, has focused essentially on the security dimension, branding the new connectivity as a belated equaliser to militarily counter China.

Beijing says China and India taking steps to ‘ease’ situation along border

Analysts point out that while India is fully justified in building dual-use roads on its side of the border, New Delhi will be well served in pushing its interests by applying geo-economic and geo-cultural logic of reviving India’s “civilizational links” with China based on trade, commerce and culture, by constructing new border roads and modern economic corridors, which are digitally empowered.

“India has some reservations about the BRI, but even if it does not join this project, how can China object if New Delhi’s road construction in Ladakh is for building a trans-Himalayan economic corridor?” says Mr Stobdan.

Need for summit

In an article in The Kathmandu Post, Professor Mahendra Lama of Jawaharlal Nehru University elaborates about reimagining border roads by calling for a full formal or informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping “to exclusively review why such fracas, intrusions and border imbroglios become a repetitive phenomenon”.

“India started pretty late in building its mountain borderland infrastructure, The borderland roads and other infrastructures in the mountain areas are very critical both in the context of national security, scientific studies and steady migration of its population from these regions,” he observed.

In fact, apart from restoring some strategic balance in Eastern Ladakh, the DSDBO road, now in serious military contention, can become a major artery, for reviving the traditional trade corridor linking Ladakh and Xinjiang through the lofty 18,176 feet Karakoram pass.

Observers say that the DSDBO road, which terminates at the base of the Karakoram pass, can help instil new life in the old Xinjiang route, which had traditionally terminated at Kashgar.

Prior to the construction of the DSDBO road, a motorable road from Leh, Ladakh’s capital, entered the Nubra valley through the 18,600 feet Khardungla pass and headed to the base of Saser Kangri, a mountain complex of six peaks in the Karakoram range.

Thereafter, a track headed to Murgo, linking up with the DSDBO route through Burtsa, Qazilangar, Depsang pass to Daulat Beg Oldie, the gateway to the Karakoram Pass.

“The trade, through the Karakoram, influenced the dress, food and dance forms of Ladakh.

On the other side of the pass, ‘Chini Bagh’ at Kashgar [the residence of the British Joint Commissioner of Trade], “Gurdial Sarai” and “Kashmiri Kucha” [street] at Yarkand, where Indian traders used to stay, still remind us of the magnitude of commerce that took place.

The Bactrian camel [double hump] of Nubra valley is a relic from Xinjiang,” wrote Virendra Sahai Verma in a 2013 article in The Hindu.

For 28 years, Chini-bagh was home to George Macartney, British consul-general in Kashgar.

It hosted famous visitors, including Aurel Stein, Hungarian-born British archaeologist, known for his Central Asia explorations and archaeological discoveries, as well as Count Otani, famous for his expeditions to Buddhist sites in Central Asia .

‘Tibet route’

Besides, new roads in Ladakh can also help revive the “Tibet route”, which passes through Demchok and heads in the direction, 300 km away, of Kailash Mansarovar, an area with a powerful emotional connect with Indian pilgrims.

A geo-cultural approach is also likely to work well with the rapidly evolving Communist Party of China (CPC), under President Xi , which is digging deeply into the country’s civilizational roots of Confucianism and Buddhism.

For instance, at the foot of Mount Ni, the birthplace of Confucius, a vast cultural infrastructure is taking root where local CPC members have been instructed “to make people understand traditional Chinese culture, and ensure that some of its values can percolate into their homes,” a local CPC member had told The Hindu.

China has also been regularly hosting the World Buddhist Forum, drawing thousands of monks and scholars from across the globe.

“Unlike the Soviet Communist Party, it [the CPC] is not riding on an ideological wave; it is riding the wave of a resurgent civilization, and that civilization has proven itself to be one of the strongest and most resilient civilizations in history,” Mr Mahbubani observed.

The Hindu – No negligence in Tablighi meet investigation, Centre tells Supreme Court

The government’s reply came on a petition accusing the authorities of negligence.

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 05 June 2020. The government has said that the Delhi Police investigation into the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at the centre in Nizamuddin amid the national lockdown was at an advanced stage.

The Ministry of Home Affairs denied the charge that the gathering took place because of delay or negligence on the part of the authorities.

The Ministry promised that it would file a “comprehensive status report in a sealed cover” about the probe.

The government’s reply came on a petition accusing the authorities of negligence.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde asked petitioner Supriya Pandita on Friday to file her rejoinder to the government affidavit.

The Ministry said there was no need whatsoever to transfer the investigation from the Crime Branch, Delhi Police, to a central agency.

The 23-page affidavit said the Delhi Police had contacted the centre’s authorities as early as on 21 March.

It said the centre’s authorities were advised to take immediate action to prevent the spread of the virus. They were asked to send back the foreigners and others staying there.

The affidavit said an audio recording was circulated in social media “asking followers to defy the lockdown, social distancing and to attend the religious gathering.”

The centre’s authorities were told about the “menace and hazard” of the virus during a huge gathering. A meeting was also held by the Station House Officer with them.

They also did not inform the health department about the huge gathering and “deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly disobeyed the lawful directions promulgated” during the lock-down, the affidavit said.

The Hindu – China has moved troops in significant numbers: Rajnath Singh

Important dialogue between senior military leaders on 06 June, he says

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 03 June 2020. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday acknowledged that China had moved troops in “significant numbers” in the ongoing stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

There was an important dialogue between the two countries scheduled on 06 June to resolve the issue, he stated.

Separately, sources said a dialogue was held on Tuesday at the Major General level.

“It is true that there have been differences on the border at this time. A significant number of Chinese troops have come in. India too has done what it should,” Mr Singh told CNN News18.

“As of now, negotiations are going on at the military level. On 06 June, there will be talks between senior military officers. I discussed this with the Army Chief today,” he said.

Dialogue between military commanders had been going on daily, sources said, including at the level of Major Generals and on Tuesday too. No concrete resolution had been achieved, it had been learnt and the talks would continue, the sources said.

Mr Singh observed that China should also think seriously in this regard so that the issue was resolved completely.

Referring to the differences in perception between the two countries on the alignment of the LAC, he said there was something constantly going on between India and China regarding the border.

“There will hardly be a year when there is no face-off on the border between both the Indian Army and the Chinese Army,” he said. Sometime there had been such tensions that firearms had been snatched, he noted.

Specifically asked to comment on reports of Chinese troops moving inside Indian territory, he said without getting into specifics, “India will not infringe on anyone’s sovereignty and at the same time India will let not anyone infringe on its sovereignty.”

For close to a month now, Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in stand-offs at several locations along the LAC after Chinese troops moved into Indian territory at Pangong Tso, Galwan Nalah, Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh and Naku La in Sikkim.

Chinese troops have set up tents and brought in equipment inside at some places while also building up presence close to Indian positions on their side of the border.

Mr Singh later said on Twitter quoting the interview that India’s negotiation with China was on and so he “would not like to express doubts.”

“If the issue is resolved through dialogue then what else can be a good thing,” he said and added that the ‘forehead of India’ would not bend under any circumstances.

The Hindu – No immediate Supreme Court relief for anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 26 May 2020. Bench seeks replies from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh; hearing adjourned for two weeks

Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activist Sharjeel Imam on Tuesday failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court despite arguing that several First Information Reports (FIRs) registered against him in different States were politically coloured and a ruse to silence his right to dissent.

Appearing before a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, senior advocate Siddharth Dave, for Mr Imam, urged the court to club the cases against his client and transfer them to Delhi.

Mr Dave referred to how the top court had intervened with alacrity in the case of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. Mr Goswami too had faced multiple FIRs for making communal comments on his show. The Supreme Court had, in a recent judgment, quashed all the FIRs except the one that was transferred from Nagpur to Mumbai.

Mr Dave sought parity for Mr Imam, who is lodged in a Guwahati jail. However, the Bench said the petition filed by Mr Imam seemed to be “politically motivated”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that several States such as Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh needed to be heard first before any decision was taken on the plea for clubbing the FIRs.

He said the FIRs registered in Mr Goswami’s case were carbon copies of each other. They were identical. In Mr Imam’s case, the FIRs were varied and the facts and circumstances differed in each of them. Drawing parity in the cases of both men would be a stretch.

The Bench finally adjourned the hearing for two weeks. It sought replies from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on Mr Imam’s appeal.

Earlier in May, the Supreme Court had asked the Delhi government to respond to Mr Imam’s plea to club the five sedition cases registered against him in different States and to have them investigated by a single agency.

At that time, the court even orally remarked that there was nothing wrong in the registration of a FIR if police had information about a cognisable offence.

Mr Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police’s crime branch on January 28 from Jehanabad in Bihar for allegedly making inflammatory speeches in Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh.

He has been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Purported videos of his alleged inflammatory speeches made during protests against the CAA were circulated on social media.

The Hindu – Maharashtra returnees with COVID-19 in Karnataka outnumber Tablighi Jamaat attendees

Afshan Yasmeen

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 21 May 2020. Till the first week of April, Tablighi Jamaat attendees made up a major chunk of the COVID-19 positive cases in Karnataka. However, from 12 April onwards, the trend changed and those returning from Maharashtra have been contributing to the spike in numbers.

While 118 Tablighi Jamaat attendees and their primary contacts have tested positive so far, over 500 of the 1,040 persons who tested positive from 01 May are those who returned from Maharashtra. The first case of a person who returned from Maharashtra testing positive was on 12 April in Vijayapura. The 60-year-old woman spread the infection to 29 others.

Mandya, which is witnessing an influx of Mumbai returnees, recorded the first such positive case on 27 April. Then on, the number of positive cases in the district has increased to 201, with Mumbai returnees making up 90% of this number.

On Thursday, the number of active cases in Mandya was 176, which is higher than that in Bengaluru (122). While inter-State travellers contributing to the spike was expected, the State health authorities are now worried about the increasing number of Maharashtra returnees testing positive.

Districts such as Haveri, Yadgir, Koppal and Raichur, which had not reported any cases till April-end, are now doing so with migrants returning from Maharashtra testing positive. On Thursday, 96 of the total 143 positive cases were linked to travel from Maharashtra.

Terming the contribution of Maharashtra returnees to the spike in numbers a “worrisome” trend, C N Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said, “Maharashtra returnees’ contributing in such big numbers was not expected.

All our early interventions have now been washed away because of the influx of people from Maharashtra.” Dr Manjunath is the nodal officer for lab testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force.

143 new cases

On Thursday, 143 new cases were reported in the State, and 121 of them were inter-State travellers. As many as 43 of the 143 patients were minors.

While 96 were travellers from Maharashtra, six were from Tamil Nadu, three from Jharkhand, five from Telangana, two from Rajasthan, one each from Chhattisgarh and Kerala, and seven from the United Arab Emirates.

With this, the total number of positive cases in the State is 1,605. This includes 41 COVID-19 deaths, one non-COVID-91 death, and 571 people discharged.

Mandya reported the highest number of cases on Thursday. As many as 29 of the 33 new cases there had a travel history to Maharashtra. Udupi followed with 28 cases. However, two of these had been quarantined at Sirsi in Uttara Kannada and have been shifted to a COVID-19 hospital in Karwar.