Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Did Tagore lean towards the performative idea of gender or the normative and traditional one?

Through critical sensibilities nurtured by feminist theory and gender studies, Professor Malashri Lal in her edited book “Tagore and the Feminine” published by SAGE publications attempts to understand Tagore’s engagement with the feminine from the perspective of a contemporary reader for whom biological determinants and psychological assumptions of being masculine and feminine are questionable. Tagore’s use of androgynous principles has received scant attention—One of reasons being that they occur as subtle subversions of the patriarchal norm. This book successfully attends the subject of androgyny and its engagement with the feminine in Tagore’s work. It is constructed with the belief that in commemorating the 150th year of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth, his global and cosmopolitan identity and his contribution to intellectual history is acknowledged. Within that frame, his views on feminine along with issues of gender and sexuality deserve notice for he garnered information at home and abroad, reflected on women’s status and wrote in bold and sometimes radical ways.   

The author establishes the search for Tagore's engagement with the feminine as subject and agency, character and voice, philosophy and politics in this book. There is rich cultural interplay as Tagore muses over the contrasting social position of women in the 'East' and the 'West'. He relies on Indian traditions to understand them in the context of domestic ethics, marital institutions, parenting, empowerment, aesthetics and gender politics. 

The book includes new translations while presenting fresh insights into previously published works. Pick your copy to read more.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In its vision to make employment accessible, has MGNREGA overlooked the safety of the “second sex”?

India has made considerable progress in terms of legislative gender equality which has been shown to increase political participation, property rights and female access to employment. Similarly, fertility rates have declined and the educational gender gap has diminished. This pattern is suggestive of an improvement in women’s conditions even though there are several barriers to women’s access to the labor market. In spite of this, recently violence in India has been increasing, with violence against women partially contributing to this trend. This is one aspect of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), launched 10 years ago, that has perhaps not been sufficiently addressed.

In an article from the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, the researchers- Sofia Amaral and Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay of the University of Birmingham, UK, and Rudra Sensarma of IIM Kozhikode analyze the extent to which FLP affects women’s well-being in India with respect to the violence they face at home and at the work place. It scrutinizes the relationship between violence against women and the implementation of one of the largest public works programmes in the world which aimed to reduce poverty levels and increase employment opportunities for the poor and, in particular, improve women’s access to the labour market.

The research has also been referred to in a recent article of the Times of India on MGNREGA and women's security, where its findings suggest that increased female labor participation following the NREGS has increased total gender-based violence. There have been increases in kidnappings, sexual harassments and domestic violence, while dowry deaths have decreased. 
The rise in domestic violence along with the increases in kidnappings and sexual harassment appears to have contributed to an increase in total violence. Therefore while the NREGS may be designed as an anti-poverty programme with economic benefits, reasearch findings imply that the government must pay greater attention to policing and security needs to control some of the undesirable consequences that the scheme seems to have on women’s well-being.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Thinking about innovating your product?—Start with the Customer, not technology!

Innovation is vital to the continued success of any business. Customers no longer stay satisfied for long. They are looking to be surprised and delighted by most, if not all, of the products and services they buy. Today’s challenge is to find ways to better and more quickly satisfy these ever-increasing demands of our customers.

Customers today are more demanding than ever before and innovation is an essential element of any successful business. But the majority of new product launches are a failure. Therefore, innovation today must go far beyond just new products and services. Many more levers are necessary to meet consumers’ constantly rising demands for novelty. An article from the Journal of Creating Value discusses about the main levers that make innovation of increased value to both customers and companies. These include setting stretch targets for every new launch, regular connection with and observation of customers, and the expansion of idea generation to greater input from both internal and external sources.

Successful innovation and creating shared value go hand-in-hand in today’s connected world. There are numerous examples of companies that have managed to stretch their brands into new categories and markets through the use of new innovation levers. One such example of this type of innovation comes from Coca-Cola. Last year, Coke used several different levers, combining them into what they called their ‘sharing can’. Not only can the can be split into two for sharing, but it also enables new potential consumers to consider buying a can, such as those with smaller thirsts or those who are travelling.

All businesses have customers, so why not start with them? What do they dream about improving, what are their biggest issues with the category? The companies should focus on starting innovation with the Customer, not R&D. It is important to ‘know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself’. This way the most relevant products and services can be proposed and are then more likely to be met with positive excitement, pride and happiness, rather than negative surprise, disappointment, irritation and frustration.

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Friday, May 06, 2016

“An Incredible journey of the Independent documentary film Movement in India”

In this era of globalization where the world can be shrinked to fit into a television set or on a table or even a cell phone, it is important to look at the documentary film movement in India as placed within a larger universe.

Indian documentary film making tradition dates back well before independence, and has carved a niche for itself in the nonfiction genre world with its creativity and hard-hitting works on subjects ranging from Indian arts and social concerns to natural history. Traditional Indian images of the Taj Mahal, droughts and poverty-stricken villagers have given way to films covering a spectrum of social, societal, environmental and human issues facing India. Films on issues such as human rights, censorship, gender roles, communal politics, individual liberty and sexual identity form the new Indian documentary filmmaking community.

SAGE Publications recently came out with a book “Filming Reality” on the subject. The book explores the independent documentary film movement in India post-1970s, when it began to acquire an identity of its own and many films got worldwide recognition. It analyses notable documentaries made over the last four decades, including those by iconic film-makers such as Satyajit Ray, Mani Kaul, Anand Patwardhan; activists such as Rakesh Sharma, Ranjan Palit, Amar Kanwar; feminists such as Deepa Dhanraj and Madhusree Dutta; and auteurs such as Sanjay Kak, R.V. Ramani and others.

The author, Shoma A Chatterji says, “In India, mainstream cinema is celebrated and promoted and awarded across the world and documentary cinemas are discarded by the wayside; even then Indian documentary film making remains the most dynamic and ongoing form of Cinema known to the world”.

The Independent documentary cinema is alive and flourishing every passing moment. It refuses to be killed, injured or damaged for stringency in funding, scarcity of exhibiting space, distribution support and so on. This several years old movement is going ahead despite the pitfalls, struggles and blocks—financial, political, and administrative—besides the lack of necessary distribution platforms.

To read more on the Independent Documentary Movement in India grab your copy now!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Are we heading on the path of Inclusive Development?

After experiencing dramatic structural changes and transition recessions following independence, Central Asian economies have been able to recover and experience high rates of growth and declining poverty rates over the last 15 years. The challenge for Central Asian countries over the next 30–40 years is to sustain a rapid growth path, pursue their transformation and integration into the global economy, and ensure a gradual convergence towards the more developed countries.

It is indeed well established that investments in human capital—education and health—not only have a direct impact on productivity and well-being but also facilitate the transmission of knowledge and technology, which in turn enhance a society’s innovative capacity.

The vision for Central Asian countries in human resources development is that by 2050, a strong human capital base will be in place, with knowledge and skills close to those of developed countries and the flexibility to adjust to the needs of rapidly changing economies. By then, it is also expected that young people in the region will have mastered not only their own national language but also some foreign languages, and acquired skills that can facilitate cooperation within the region and economic links with neighboring countries. A strong human capital base also means a healthier population whose well-being is thus enhanced. By 2050, countries will have improved the quality of health care through more efficient management, use of highly qualified personnel and modern technology, and increased attention to prevention and primary health care. Disparities in health outcomes within the region will have been reduced, and levels will be at or above those of upper-middle-income countries.

To achieve these goals, Central Asian countries will naturally have to take into account differences in their economic endowments and their initial levels of development, and they will also have to take advantage of past investments and build on the links that existed between them and the rest of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Under the middle-income trap scenario, not all five Central Asian countries, which are, at the moment, at different levels of development and at different stages in implementation of reforms, will be on a converging path. While the fast reformers will have, by 2050, pursued their transformation and converged toward upper-middle-income countries, those lagging behind will still have kept elements of a command economy and failed to accelerate the pace of reforms. Under such a scenario, disparities within the region in health and education outcomes will have increased and migration flows will intensify toward countries which can offer better services and income opportunities.

Register now to read full article from the Global Journal of Emerging Market Economies

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