The Union Minister of Railways and Coal Shri Piyush Goyal met with Architects and Planners to discuss issues related to Station Redevelopment Program. A total of 110 professionals from 54 firms participated in the meeting.
The Minister was categorical that in view of the financial condition of Indian Railways and the paying capacity of public, there is a need for finding solutions that meet the aspirations of travelling public at low cost.
“We shall work on providing innovative solutions tailored to uniquely Indian conditions. I am confident that we will eventually be in a position to share the expertise in other countries as well,” Goyal said at the meeting.
This consultation meeting held with Architects was aimed to understand the issues and difficulties in participating in development/redevelopment of railway stations. The discussions were held on a wide range of issues from the difficulties that the architects and planners are facing in participating in station redevelopment program; modifications required in various documents guiding the station design; general direction that station redevelopment program shall take.
Goyal assured the participants that as desired the empanelment will be made in more categories; the name of the Architect will be included in the plaque. The Minster also directed IRSDC to take up capacity building of Consultants as Station Development is as yet a new field.
Goyal also stated that young architects and planners shall also be involved in the station development program and they may be engaged in smaller/simpler stations.
It may be recalled that Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC), as the nodal agency, is taking up redevelopment of around 600 major Railway stations across the country. Towards this objective of stakeholders’ consultation, an idea competition for development of 635 stations of Indian Railways, ‘SRIJAN’ (Station Rejuvenation Initiative through Joint ActioN) has been launched at MyGov portal since 26.01.2018.
This mammoth exercise will kickstart the program worth Rs 1,00,000 crore investments and requires extensive involvement of engineers, planners, architects and other professionals besides the contractors and developers. To prepare the plans for stations, IRSDC has taken up multiple initiatives:
- International Design Competition for 3 Railway Stations, namely, Nagpur, Gwalior and Baiyappanhalli
- IRSDC has empanelled experienced consultants with multi-disciplinary teams
- IRSDC has also invited professionals to take initiatives and share their vision for railway stations for a token fee and in response, eleven architects have registered themselves for development of 74 railway stations.
- SRIJAN (Station Rejuvenation Initiative through Joint Action), an Ideas competition has been launched by IRSDC, where users and young minds are invited to put across their ideas for implementing “Low-Cost High Visibility” items at station areas. Around 450 entries have been received so far.
The last date for submission of entries in this competition is 26.03.2018. The winners will get certificates and worthy ideas will be incorporated into the designs.
IRSDC has also launched competition through Mygov portal for IRSDC logo and tagline. The winner for logo competition will get a cash prize of Rs 75,000/-and for tagline also will get Rs 75,000/-. The last date for submission of entries is 26.3.18.
SC Asks Govt for a Scheme for Construction Workers in Six Months
The SC directs all the state governments and union territories to constitute an expert committee and bring out statutory rules within six months.
The Supreme Court on March 19 directed the Narendra Modi-led government to frame a model scheme before September 30 to address the issues of education, health, social security and pension for construction workers, saying they build not just infrastructure, but also the nation.
The top court said that more than Rs 37,400 crore have been collected for the benefit of construction workers, but ostensibly only about Rs. 9,500 crores have been utilized for their benefit.
It questioned as to why millions of construction workers across the country are being denied the benefit of remaining Rs 28,000 crore.
The top court further directed all the state governments and union territories to constitute an expert committee and bring out statutory rules within six months.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the directions given by the court from time-to-time to implement the two laws — The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW Act) and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996, (Cess Act) — have been flouted with impunity.
The top court said that the every state government and Union Territory shall constitute an expert committee and frame statutory rules under provisions of the BOCW Act, if such statutory Rules have not already been framed.
“Setting up an expert committee and framing statutory rules should be in a time-bound manner, with the exercise being completed preferably within six months and in any event by September 30, 2018,” it said.
Empowering India’s daughters
“Societal preference for sons in India is historical and long-standing, and appears inoculated against development.”
The pink-coloured Economic Survey 2017-18 contends that the societal preference for sons in India is historical and long-standing, and appears inoculated against development.
While the preference has its roots in culture, the factors driving it are entwined with economic and practical considerations. In the largely patriarchal Indian society, parents perceive daughters as liabilities who are to be married off on payment of dowry. Given limited household resources, there is little incentive to invest in daughters’ education and (employable) skills, or even health.
This, in turn, causes women to be at a disadvantage as potential entrants to the productive workforce, and in achieving financial independence. Indeed, they end up having no choice but to rely mainly on their husband’s income, with the limited agency regarding their own life and family, let alone to contribute towards their parents’ well-being.
The opposite is true for sons who are viewed as assets that support their families and are, therefore, worthy of investment. As long as these are the beliefs and practices of the majority in the community, it is ‘rational’ for individual families to follow suit, and we are stuck in a ‘bad equilibrium’. This is a vicious cycle that perpetuates son preference.
Even in the case of parents that do not subscribe to this school of thought and are equally invested – financially and otherwise – in the education of both daughters and sons, there may be other constraints to women’s economic participation. Examples include time poverty due to the primary responsibility of the care economy and restricted mobility on account of safety concerns.
The policy push in the form of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009 and programmes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao has led to significant improvement in gender parity in school enrolment. The gender parity index ─ the ratio of the number of females to the number of males that are enrolled at a particular level of education ─ stood at 1.03 and 1.01 respectively for primary and secondary schooling in 2014-15, although disparity persists in higher education (gender parity index of 0.92) (Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), 2016).
However, more female education does not seem to be translating into more female employment. The Survey reports that female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) has, in fact, declined from 36% in 2005-06 to 24% in 2015-16. Besides, culture may be an explanatory factor for the low levels of FLFPR but not for its decline over time as cultural norms are unlikely to have become more stringent. Other elements seem to be at play.
Understanding and addressing constraints on women’s economic participation
A body of research has emerged in recent years that seeks to understand the alarming trend of stagnant or falling FLFPR in recent decades. (See I4I e-symposium on ‘Women and work’.)
For instance, in an International Growth Centre (IGC) study, Afridi et al. (2016) analyse National Sample Survey (NSS) data to show that the fall in FLFPR is concentrated among rural, married women. They argue that this is because of a lack of job opportunities that are commensurate with women’s enhanced education levels, and their time is better spent at home on child care and domestic work; increased income of husbands enables them to make this choice. Chatterjee, Murgai and Rama (2016) emphasise the need to generate suitable jobs opportunities outside of farming and close to place of residence.
Other recommendations by stakeholders include flexible working conditions, adequate maternity leave (Ahmed 2017), and reliable childcare facilities to enable women to manage their dual responsibilities of work and home; strengthening public services and infrastructure to ease the burden of unpaid domestic tasks; addressing gender discrimination in the job market (Deshpande, Goyal and Khanna 2016); ensuring women’s safety in public spaces to facilitate their mobility (Pande 2014); and encouraging female entrepreneurship via access to finance (Field and Pande 2017, KC and Tiwari 2014), networks, information, and markets (Ghani, Kerr and O’Connell 2012).
Further work is needed on disentangling the various constraints on female economic participation and assigning relative weights to them, so as to get policy priorities right and allocate resources efficiently. Importantly, this would require closing the gender data gap ─ a problem that exists in India and beyond. So although mind-set changes can only take place slowly over a long time horizon, concrete measures can be designed and implemented in the short- to medium-term to change the economic dynamics and address practical constraints at the least.
Promoting women’s education: Beyond enrolment
Education is fundamental to women’s empowerment. In an environment where women are able to engage effectively in productive economic activities, parents are more likely to not just send their daughters to school, but to actually focus on their education and skilling in order to prepare them for the workforce.1 In their research in Bangladesh, Heath and Mobarak (2012) found that the explosive growth of the garment industry had a significant positive influence on girls’ educational attainment, and delayed marriage and childbirth.
They also showed that job growth had a much stronger effect on the demand for education vis-à-vis a large-scale government conditional cash transfer programme to encourage female schooling.
Despite the improved gender parity in school enrolment in India, there is a gender gap of 19.6% (2011) in the adult literacy rate2 (MoHRD, 2016). The Annual Survey of Education Report (2017) tested rural youth (14-18-year-olds) on applying basic foundational skills of reading and arithmetic to real-world situations and found that females almost always perform worse than males. Why is it that despite the increased presence of girls in educational institutions, they still significantly lag behind boys in terms of learning outcomes?
One possibility is that this is a time-use issue. According to ASER (2017), 89.4% of females versus 76.8% of males do household work daily. The differential outcomes may also be a manifestation of boys receiving a lot more support for their education at home as compared to girls. Does such discrimination pervade the classrooms as well? These are important questions for further research.
- Maitra, Pal and Sharma (2016) find a systematic female disadvantage in enrolment in private schools, which are considered as more efficient than government schools by parents.
- The Adult Literacy rate is the percentage of the 15-24-year-old population that can both read and write, and understand a short simple statement on everyday life.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of League of India or of any of its partners.
Reprinted with permission from Ideas for India
India and Japan Hold the First Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction
The two-day workshop is being jointly organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Disaster Management Authority and Government of Japan.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar on Monday inaugurated the First India-Japan Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction in New Delhi.
The two-day workshop is being jointly organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Disaster Management Authority and Government of Japan.
Speaking on the occasion, the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog underlined the synergy between the two ancient Asian civilizations of India and Japan, both of which have frequently witnessed the fury of natural catastrophes and are investing proactively on mainstreaming risk reduction into development.
He said that this workshop “marks the beginning of the formal implementation of the initiatives agreed under the Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the two countries on Disaster Risk Reduction in September 2017”.
While underlining the impact of the disaster on development, Dr Rajiv Kumar stated that uncontrolled development without proper disaster risk assessment has increased the risk of losses from disasters. He added that climate change has further aggravated the disaster risk.
“Therefore, disaster risk management can no longer remain isolated from the overall strategy of sustainable development”, he said.
Recalling commitments made in Sendai on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Paris on Climate Change and in New York on Sustainable Development Goals, Dr Rajiv Kumar emphasized the role of country leadership for implementing the commitments particularly in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction, as returns to investment are not easily visible.
He said that “Disaster Risk Reduction should be seen not as a cost to economic growth, but rather as a valuable asset for the country”.
The Vice Minister for Policy Coordination in the Cabinet Office, Japan, Mamoru Maekawa, thanked the Government of India for hosting this Workshop, which is the first outcome of the Memorandum of Cooperation regarding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
He shared the Japanese experiences of DRR policies, including legal and planning framework, and discussed how Japan is preparing against mega-scale disasters, in collaboration with government, academia, private companies and citizens.
He concluded that Japan and India could collaborate for the implementation of the Sendai Framework so as to contribute to Disaster Risk Reduction globally.
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