Archive for the ‘Nepal’ Category

The demographic landscape in South Asia

19 June, 2012

Recent changes in the demographic landscape of South Asia are producing handsome gains. Fertility and mortality are declining, survival chances are better and there is prolongation of later life. Demographers and public policy analysts attribute this to improved economic performance, the growing outreach of public healthcare services, and reductions in absolute poverty.
Sri Lanka has secured notable achievements, especially in its socio-demographic and health indicators.  Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are not far behind. India has reduced its fertility and mortality levels significantly. More than half of its major states have already achieved replacementlevel fertility and it is fast shaping a bulge in favour of working age youths and older adults.
Pakistan is projected to converge soon to joinothers. Afghanistan, unfortunately, remains the exception.
A growing bulge in the region’s younger population has two important economic repercussions.

• A youth bulge leads to a rise in new job seekers. Adopting appropriate economic policies to create more employment
opportunities for them holds the promise of a demographic dividend.
• A growing older population raises issues of income security and health provision.

Much of South Asia has yet to develop policies that explicitly target both these issues. Old age income security still needs to be fully addressed. Employment opportunities, particularly in the organised sector, are also severely lacking.
A South Asia regional conference was organised by the Institute of Economic Growth (Delhi) in 2008, to examine these challenges. It brought together international scholars, including demographers, economists, labour market specialists, poverty analysts and medical doctors. A selection of papers has recently been published in an edited volume,1 highlighting four dimensions of the research and policy challenge:
• Changes in country demographics of the region: opportunities and challenges.
• Bulge of the younger cohorts and meeting employment needs of the growing number of labour market participants.
• Rapid ageing and missing pillars in income and health security provision for the old.
• Achieving population and health MDGs in India and South Asia.

Two clear messages emerge from this research.

Firstly, South Asia is ill-prepared to face the challenges of ageing that will become increasingly visible over the coming years.
Second, the demographic dividend might not be fully realised, due to the failings of South Asian countries in ensuring broad-based opportunities for education, skill formation and decent work.

Read the full article at


Human Trafficking — the Dark Side of Globalization

29 January, 2008

The ease with which we can now travel, send money, and communicate has dramatically reduced the costs of shipping human beings — into prostitution and forced labour. Our recent post highlighted Hatti and Maiti Nepal and their work to help those trafficked in Nepal. The plight of Nigerian children trafficked through Manchester is reported here.

Now, Emma Thompson and Sam Roddick have teamed up to highlight this modern slavery at a UN forum which meets in Vienna in February (go to UN.GIFT). They are backing an art installation that dramatically explores globalization’s dark side.

7 cargo containers illustrate what happens to women sold into the global sex trade. Each container — by a different artist — shows the stages of the trafficking process, starting with hope and then descending into fear and despair.

The installation was first shown last September in London’s Trafalgar Square, to much praise (video here). Emma Thompson is Chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, which helps the victims of human rights violations and raises awareness of human trafficking. (Helen Bamber herself worked to help concentration camp victims).

Last week, 11 Romanian children were taken into care after being seized from alleged child traffickers (who were using them for crime on Britain’s streets, including Manchester, in a modern version of Oliver Twist). Go here for why kids in Romania still get a hard deal.

The choice of containers for the exhibition is inspired. Globalization would not have been possible without the container. The introduction of this humble steel box from the 1950s onwards allowed a much faster turnaround at ports, thereby dramatically cutting the costs of global trade. Now it is used to smuggle people.

Abandoned containers have been turned into homes by the poor. But now the construction industry is starting to use them to build affordable homes (there is one housing development in London). And a new school in Cape Town is built using containers (go here)

Get Your Cheap Designer Handbags Here

26 January, 2008

Just joking, wanted to get your attention.☺ But if you do need a good bag then go to Hatti Trading, a social enterprise that supports survivors of human trafficking as well as disadvantaged and stigmatized women in Nepal.

Nepal’s poverty is among the world’s worst. A difficult terrain makes it hard to eke out a living, communications are limited to outlying areas, and infectious disease is rampant. Deforestation and now global climate change threaten the sustainability of many communities. And the on-off 11-year old conflict adds to the impoverishment. As a result about 7 million people (30% of the population) live below the poverty line. There are big caste-based differences in poverty incidence and human development outcomes, with many in the lower castes living in chronic poverty (see this ADB study).

One positive development is the flow of remittances from Nepalis abroad — which are especially important to impoverished rural areas. This has reduced poverty from 42% to 31% over the last 10 years — good progress, especially during conflict (see World Bank).

But despite this good news on the direction of poverty, many young girls are still sold into prostitution and bonded labour. Trafficking of girls to India is prevalent. Escape is difficult (and dangerous). And their communities may not take them back if the girls do get out — making it difficult to find any kind of livelihood. Unfortunately many then get sucked back into their former ‘life’ with all its attendant risks.

Hatti Trading helps these girls to make a new start. It works with local charities such as Maiti Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate victims, and to generate the kinds of livelihoods that end the poverty and misery driving girls into the hands of traffickers.

For us scholarly types Hatti bags are excellent for carting your books around. For techies there is a great laptop bag. And they might stay in fashion longer than any designer bag.