The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

Is the law reformative or retributive?

December 2012 was the month of shock and dismay. A horrifying incident broke all boundaries of restraints and silence and led men and women to highlight the supremacy of democracy and change.
A countrywide protest and demonstrations forced the government to take a punctilious stance against sexual assault, rapes and gang rapes and child rights. Nirbhaya is now forever etched in the minds of the people and so is the crime of the juvenile who was one of the rapists of Jyoti Singh, a medical student. Her only fault was that she was returning from a night show with a male friend. Her rapists’ reasons were that she fought back and asked for it because women of our proud country do not wander around with men before marriage.

In the event of the brutal gang rape in Delhi, not only, the new amendments were made under sexual offences of criminal law, but the criminal scope of juveniles was also widened through Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

What was the need to introduce the new Bill?

The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 was passed in the wake of public fury on the release of the juvenile after serving a maximum of three years of imprisonment. Maneka Gandhi, the Minister of Women and Child Development first introduced the amendment bill in the Parliament. The Union Cabinet approved the draft law by overriding the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It took almost fifteen months for the Rajya Sabha to pass the bill after the Lok Sabha. Observers believe that the Bill was hastily passed by the Parliament to calm the public anger and their sentiments.

The juvenile delinquency is a behavior not uncommon to the subject matter of criminology and sociology. But there always had been an effort to ameliorate the actions and behavior of young offenders. A belief is that the rehabilitation and care and protection of children can make their lives better. Therefore, the juvenile laws aim to protect the children found to be in conflict with the law.

The protection of child rights in India has a history since colonial times.

Under the Apprentice Act, 1850 and The Reformatory Schools of 1897 an attempt was to keep children with petty offences away from the adult criminal judicial system and to provide them reformatory institutions. Post Independence, the Children’s Bill, 1960 was passed in Parliament following the 1959 UN Declaration. It was the first central legislation on the subject of children’s rights when found in conflict with the law. Prior to this, each state had a separate juvenile legal system.

In 1980’s India became a participant to adopt the rules of the Sixth and Seventh U.N. Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Juvenile Offenders, also known as Beijing Rules. It led to the enactment of first Juvenile Judicial Act in 1986. The Act extended the protection to boys below 16 years and girls below 18 years along with the establishment of Advisory and Children’s Boards and Children’s Fund.

The 1990’s were a period of series of developments like globalization. There was also a tendency to move towards restorative justice. It is in this light of global momentum, India ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992 and enacted Juvenile Justice Act of 2000. It called for Juvenile Justice Board and defined a juvenile as a person (whether a boy or girl) below the 18 years of age.

The new 2015 Act, is now in place of Juvenile Judicial Act, 2000.

Populist opinion and media play a significant role in politics. What prompted the government to take a new step was not only the shame that it carried on its back as the “Rape Capital of India” but also a number of misleading suggestions by the media houses to ascribe juvenile as the “most brutal” amongst the five rapists. The final move came when PILs were filed against the juvenile seeking to try him in an adult court instead of Juvenile Justice Court, as the offender was just three months short of 18 years of age.

One of the PIL petitioners and SC lawyer, Shweta Kapoor, said “ Minds of juveniles are well developed and do not need care and protection of the society. Rather society needs care and protection against them”.

However, in the history of juvenile laws, the new act has faced more dissatisfaction and opposition than any other legislation introduced before.

One step forward, two steps back.  The JJ Act, 2015 is a regressive law and unsupportive of the international juvenile system.

Let’s take a look at the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to understand its viability.

1) The bill mandates people between16 and 18 years of age will have an adult trial for heinous crimes like rape and murder, punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more (Section 2)

2) It gives authority to Juvenile Justice Board (which now includes a group of psychologists and sociologists) to decide whether a child between 16-18 years of age be tried as an adult.

3) The bill adopts some changes like the period of preliminary assessment of juvenile offenders is increased to 3 months to assess the capacity of child’s crime.

4) It introduces foster care system in India and makes adoption process of orphaned and abandoned children more efficient by adopting the concepts of Hague Convention and Inter-Country Adoption, 1993.

5) The proper implementation and juvenile cases are under the authority of National and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

6) The Act under the care and protection chapter includes many offences that did not appear in any other laws. These include kidnapping and abduction of children, giving of narcotic drugs, intoxicating liquor and tobacco products, illegal adoption or sale or procurement of children, use of children in militant or terrorist groups and offences against disabled children.

 

It is, however, important to note that the new law did not apply to the juvenile involved in Nirbhaya gang rape as it has a non-retrospective effect. CPI (M)’s Sitaram Yechury who walked out of the House in protest of the bill, also invoked this point.

The whole idea of providing a stringent punishment to the juvenile that began with the demands of Nirbhaya’s parents was rather fruitless and created hurdles for the young offenders who will now face an adult trial. But the proponents of the bill believe that it’s a measure to scare them with harsher punishment to bring a change.

Book Review: Imperium by Robert Harris

The Roman Republic has always had an unusual place in the pages of world history. Indeed, we attribute a great deal of importance to the Roman culture that stands as an example to modern society. From it’s political structure of self-governance and bicameralism to the idea of “innocent, until proven guilty; its principles are known for shaping the ideas of citizenship, justice and politics.

Thus, Robert Harris’s endeavor, by tapping into the exciting period of Roman History produced his most famous novel The Imperium. First, of the trilogy, the novel traces the political journey of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great statesman, orator and advocate.

Harris has a brilliant knack for turning insipid events of history into a stimulating fictional drama. Though Harris wrote the novel, the narration is in first-person by Tiro, Cicero’s slave but also his secretary and confidante. Cicero was an astute thinker and his composition of books, letters and speeches are the finest works of literature in Roman history. Tiro, the inventor of shorthand, remained loyal and always by his side. He described his life with Cicero as “ exciting, then astonishing, then arduous, and finally extremely dangerous.”

Cicero was considered a self-made man of his time. Often, there is a great admiration for a person with grit and perseverance. He cleverly outmanoeuvred his rivals to succeed to the most powerful position in Roman politics- the consul.

Not everyone is born successful. Even Cicero had to struggle with his health and stutter. With the professional help of Apollonius Molon, the Greek rhetorician, he became one of the powerful orators in Roman history.

A philosopher and an orator, Cicero’s fame was not unknown to the Romans. His sharp memory of remembering names, his public affection for his daughter Tullia, and his idea of fair justice were simultaneously on par with his insecurities, jealousy and his ruthless ambition.

According to Tiro, Imperium is “the power of life and death as vested by the state in an individual” and Harris emphasized on how power politics requires a man, who without a credible background had to risk his principles to reach the high level of political power of Imperium.

Cicero believed in the Roman judicial system, and as the book records, Cicero was determined to bring justice to the people who were cheated and robbed by Gaius Verres (governor of Sicily), which gained him the reputation of people’s champion. But at the same time, he was also afraid to ruin his image in the eyes of the Romans. His motive, in the end, was to achieve consulship, even if he had to defend the corrupt Marcus Fonteius, the former governor of Further Gaul.

However, Harris clearly shows that a true politician needs to be shrewd and pliant. Throughout the novel, Cicero found himself tangled between different social circles.

Despite all the efforts and endurance in collecting the evidence and witnesses against Verres, Cicero knew that the only way to win the case was to gain the support and friendship of Pompey. He even manipulated the Senate and the Romans to pass the two important laws Lex Gabinia and Lex Manilia in favor of Pompey. It eventually led to the fall of Roman Republic.

Such was the power of the aristocracy that the Roman Republic stood only for its name. Though each Roman class had voting rights, only the high-class aristocrats had a say in elections. The political system of Rome did not guarantee equal participation. What made Cicero popular amongst the people was his achievement without any aid, great wealth, powerful family and or a commanding army.

Cicero’s brothers, friends and Tiro- all played an instrumental role in his political career. But an exceptional and always a forgotten character in history is Cicero’s wife, Terentia. Though he married her only for money to become the senator, she was both supportive and critical of his tactics. Cicero often had to prove himself to her and twice in the book (the idea of short speech during Verres’ prosecution and her idea to form an alliance with the aristocrats to outplay Crassus and Catiline) had helped him surmount his struggles.

In the words of Tiro, “Cicero did not always emerge as a paragon of virtue” but his voice was so impactful that it was essential, to tell the truth about his dangerous and tactful venture in Roman politics.

Harris did a great job to prove the words of Tiro. His persuasive style creates a profound link between the story and its readers. A fast paced novel as this is sure to woo even to those who are uninterested in studying history.

Mexico: A Beginning of the Debt Crisis in 1980’s

1980’s was a watershed period for the Latin American economies especially Mexico that faced major financial and economic crisis from the late 1970s to 1980s. It is often known as the period of lost decade due to defaulting on sovereign debt by Latin American countries.

The crisis culminated due to mismanagement of fiscal and monetary policies of different government regimes of Mexico that proposed such policies.

Post World War II, Mexico followed an economic policy based on Import Substitution Model (a model that focused on internal development strategy by limiting the imports and encouraging regulated domestic markets in the country). Thus, from 1954 to 1972, Mexico claimed to have an era of Stabilizing Development (SD) or Mexico Miracle. It was a period of high economic growth and low inflation (3.5%). The major economic policies were introduced under President Miguel Alemán Valdés’s (1946-52) to maintain an overall price stability and a fixed exchange rate (fixed at 12.5 pesos per dollar). It allowed an economic structure that included private capital accumulation to stimulate industrial expansion along with high growth rates of agricultural output.

The high economic stability underwent a radical change under the presidential administration of Luis Echeverría Álvarez (1970-76). Under his regime, expansionary fiscal policy increased public spending in social development projects. In the succeeding five years, general government employment doubled and the share of total public sector spending in GDP jumped from 20.5 percent to 30 percent.

However, according to macroeconomic principles, as much as expansionary fiscal polices increase the aggregate demand that in turn helps in increasing the employment rates in the economy and high economic growth, if undeterred at the full capacity of the economy, it can cause high rates of inflation and fiscal deficit. Consequently, inflation rose above 20% in 1973-74 and another side effect of the fiscal policy was the crowding out. Since the government spending concentrated in the public sector, it led to a negative impact on private investment that slumped from 14 percent of GDP (at 1970 prices) in 1971 to 12.7 percent in 1975. The situation worsened with the disequilibrium of the balance of payments that led to a current account deficit of $4.4 billion in 1975.

Thus, Álvarez’s economic policies were a complete failure. Under his regime GDP grew at only 3.1%, slightly less than 3.7% under previous governments. An expansionary fiscal policy with high spending on education and other productive projects helps in long-term productivity. But the government failed to make such projects, as the priority was more on state-owned enterprises. The deterioration of the balance of payments led to a sixty percent devaluation in the peso at a fixed exchange rate of 12.5 peso per dollar.

Mexico was predominantly an agricultural economy with phases of industrial expansion undertaken by the government and a net importer of oil but this changed under President Lopez Portillo.

Years Real GDP per capita growth Inflation Current Account Deficit
1954-72 3.7% 3.5% -1.5%
Post 1972 3.1% 20% -2.9%

Source: IMF

In 1976, due to several unstable economic pressures, President Lopez Portillo replaced the political regime of Álvarez. To overturn the economic situation, Portillo made an arrangement of a stabilizing program of fiscal austerity with the IMF under Extended Fund Facility over the next three years (1976-79).

Positive Impact of IMF Intervention Pre 1976 1979
Fiscal Deficit (%of GDP) 9.9 6.7
Inflation (%) 27.2 20
Current Account Deficit $4.4 billion $2.2 billion

Source: IMF

The IMF intervention helped Mexico regained its reputation as one of the promising developing countries. The main reason for this positive impression was the two oil shocks in 1970’s and the discovery of oil reserves in Mexico. This placed Mexico in an advantageous position because in the period of oil shocks, Mexico became the primary exporter of oil. Moreover, the developed countries like the US encouraged by Mexico’s successful stabilizing program and economic growth extended bank loans to Mexico.

However, Portillo’s administration entered in an economic quagmire where rampant corruption and mismanagement prevailed and soon buoyed by the oil wealth, the IMF program was dropped and replaced by new expansionary fiscal policies. This was one of the first mistakes in the policy implementation due to the over optimistic picture of oil revenue wealth that eventually led to a fiscal deficit.

The new policy continued the Álvarez’s Public Expenditure-Led Growth (PELG) plan that entailed large development plans to increase real government spending. It also stimulated private sector investment from 11.7% to 14.1% in 1981.

The expansionary fiscal policies led to following changes:

Years From 1976 To 1981
Real GDP per capita (in US $) 4,973 6,467
Real GDP growth rate (%) 6.82 0.91
Inflation 27.20 28.61

Source: IMF

Though the policy reform led to some changes, it didn’t bring about a structural economic change. The inflation began to increase from 1978 and reached to high levels of 28.61% in 1981.

By early 1981, the share of Mexican oil market and export prices of oil began to decline, as the world economy entered a recession. This led to a sharp increase in the interest rates on short-term loans in contrast to near zero interest rates that the US commercial banks offered Mexico earlier. However, without analyzing the risk of borrowing more loans, the national oil company, PEMEX in the hope of continued demand for high quality of oil exported it without lowering down the prices.

The increase in fiscal deficit was offset by the reluctance of the banks to lend money and borrowed only at high interest rates. From 6.7% (in GDP), the overall fiscal deficit grew to 14.7% in 1981. By the end of 1982, the foreign debt grew to $81 billion. Inflation increased with an annual rate of 100 percent and real per capita GDP declined 8.1 percent.

In late 1982, Mexican Finance Minister Jesús Silva Herzog revealed the situation of the unsustainable debt crisis and that Mexico failed to service its debt to the lenders. The revelation brought out a bigger picture of the World debt crisis in 1982 and the incautious approach of the commercial banks to extend loans without considering the high risk of deficit involved. It also marked the end of new foreign lending and Import Substitution Model in Mexico.

Several efforts were made to leverage the economic situation that was marked by rising stagflation, high interest rates, and increased outflow of money from Mexico. Portillo responded by nationalizing the banks, introduced a system of exchange control, and devalued the peso by more than 260 per cent.

With the end of Portillo’s regime, the new President De La Madrid, restarted the structural reform program with IMF and with it Mexico’s economy set on a transition from ISM to the neo-liberal model of economy. Fiscal discipline was rigidly enforced and the consolidated public sector deficit relative to the GDP was halved from 17.6 percent to 8.9 percent. Drastic measures were taken to expand the export earnings and cut back the imports. This helped in trade surplus that rose to $12.8 billion.

Years From 1982 To 1985
Inflation (%) 98.87 63
Real GDP per capita growth rate -8.12 1.76

Source: IMF

However, such reform policies could not reduce the inflation rate that accelerated to 105% post 1985. The causes of the rising inflation were the contraction of domestic output and continued devaluation of the peso. Moreover, the situation worsened with another oil shock in 1986 and two earthquakes in Mexico post 1985. As the fiscal policies provided hardly any improvement in the economy, two Pacts- Pact for Economic Solidarity and Pact for Stability and Economic Growth were signed in 1987 to introduce a fusion of orthodox fiscal and monetary policy with income policy (limiting of the nominal wage increase to control the inflation) in short-term phases.

Hence, the economic changes along with the government policies moved Mexico to make a transition from inward-looking development strategy to outward and open market policies. The periodical fluctuation in the inflation and current account deficit rates show that poor policies of the government without considering the precautions and risks of the fiscal policies can have a negative impact on the economy along with the impression of distrust in foreign markets.

Bibliography

  • Buffie, Edward, and Allen Sangines Krause. “Mexico (1958-86): From the Stabilizing Developement to Debt Crisis.” Developing Country Debt and the World Economy (The National Bureau of Economic Research), 1989: 141-168.
  • International Monetory Fund. “The Mexican Crisis: No Mountain too High?” The Crisis Erupts 1982.
  • Gould, David M. “Mexico: Looking Back To Assess the Future.”
  • Kim, Kwan S. “Mexico: The Debt Crisis and Options for Development Strategy.” (The Helen Kellogg Institute of International Studies) September 1986.

Behind the Fog

When secrecy can harm the very purpose of having an intelligence organization in a State

Sitting in a café with friends sometimes makes one want to talk of complex global concerns. If for nothing else, then just to sound erudite to the person sitting on the table next to yours. And then there are times when this royally backfires.

So as my friend and I sat discussing intelligence agencies around the world, he mentioned China and that one word brought a hard-stop to the discussion. None of us could name the Chinese intelligence agency. Not that we are encyclopedias and that our not knowing, was a total shocker but still we could recall no mention of it in newspapers or in broadcast news. Anywhere!

I quickly made a run-through of all the intelligence agencies that I could recall- CIA, Mossad, R&AW, ISI but all the mind-palace efforts couldn’t help me stumble on the name. So finally, we pulled out our smartphones to clear the mystery.

-Ministry of State Security.

MSS was formed in 1983 and oversees counter-intelligence, amassing data from around the globe and political security. Not so astonishingly, it can even arrest citizens on violation of state security matters, unlike other intelligence agencies around the globe.

The MSS doesn’t work for the welfare of the people but for the maintenance of the Communist Party’s autocratic rule.

The Chinese name for MSS is Guojia Anquan Bu or GAB and it handles operations for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, spy handling, cyber security technical intelligence and foreign liaison.

During its initial years, Deng Xiaoping didn’t want the MSS to recruit spies but to employ businessmen, journalists who would have a natural existing cover to aid questioning of any sort on the international front. He thought that operating from under the MSS would have more information fall into China’s lap than via a façade of institutions, which would end up raising more eyebrows and investing in cover-ups than actual work.

There is a second civilian intelligence agency called MPS- Ministry of Public Security which supports information security research and engages to a lesser degree in domestic intelligence operations. Military intelligence, on the other hand falls under PLA(People’s Liberation Army).

china3

Most countries with populations more than 5 million have intelligence agencies asset up. Even Hong Kong had managed to set up a “political department’ to cater to such needs before it was returned to China’s control. But in a county of 1.3 billion such as China, talk of such an organization is taboo and non – existent in mass media conversations or official documents.

How do the citizens perceive the ‘intelligence agency’ which has transformed into ‘secret service’? Many concerned netizens have asked for reforms urgently to ensure transparency and instill a supervising mechanism in place for the Chinese intelligence. But first of all, China needs to officially admit the existence of such agencies which can allow for accountability by people or even relevant government agencies.

It has become a trend for scholars of comparative politics to overlook intelligence agencies as mere components of government information processing units. They miss the crucial role played by them in maintaining state power and in formulating international policies. The matter of policy interventions by an unchecked intelligence community, functioning on certain biases will lead to misguided decisions that can spell disaster for the country.

Taking US’s example, its intelligence agencies moved from “non-existence” to public scrutiny after the1960s, which led to unearthing of many scandals and direct control by the White House and Congress. Now, however damaging, be these scandals, they are atleast proof of the checks in place and reflect on the active-passive state of the agency.

But then yet again, ‘transparency’ in a secret service organization seems incompatible. Doesn’t the nature of the work itself incorporate discretion ? Also, the Snowden leaks have revealed, how little tabs governments can actually place on top intelligence bodies.

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China differs in another aspect — of reporting the information to the government. It does not have an official way of integrated reporting into considered strategic analysis, or the ability to distill assessments into a single holistic view. Chinese intelligence agencies, both military and civilian, also have components that operate at the provincial level, leading to regional differences in their analysis, performance and equipment. With multiple layers between the intelligence sources and China’s leaders, it’s probable that what reaches the top levels has been influenced by multiple procedures and biases, leading to a less reliable finished intelligence product. It’s important to remember that an authoritarian system isn’t necessarily a unified one.

The primary purpose of the MSS today is to be the panopticon in China. In Michel Foucaults’ Discipline and Punish, he mentions the Panopticon to be a circular building with a tower in the middle from where an observer can watch anything and everything – Non-stop surveillance. But for Foucault, panopticism wasn’t an intrusive term but an encouragement to economic productivity and social harmony.

But what he doesn’t take into consideration is what happens when the watchman starts abusing such all prevailing power, which is exactly the case with MSS and MPS today.

Hope China clears the fog.

Gandhiji’s Relevance in the 21st Century

Why I feel Gandhi ji’s Ideologies are highly relevant in today’s world.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a name whom no one can ever forget for all he did to get India its freedom from the British colonialism. He echoed the dreams of the colonized Indian nation. Just like a desired father who takes every responsibility of his children, Gandhi bore the hope of the millions of Indians who were bowed under the weights of years of slavery.  He was a man who could speak to the crowd with his virtue and befriend with the king while not lose touch with the common man.

Gandhi’s ideologies are not just for politics or economies or societies but for the way of living. His philosophy can be incorporated at every stage of life in every century and that’s what his relevance is all about. Many people will see Gandhi as a freedom fighter but he was much more than that. His staunch belief in non violence was his power to win every battle. It takes a lot of courage to face the lathi (police stick) when you are empty handed. We are living in a world where there are such high rates of crimes and the only way to counterattack all the evils can be fought with non violence because non violence does not give birth to the feelings of hatred and revenge.

Gandhi was a man ahead of his times. He foresaw many of the problems which we are facing today. In 1927 he wrote “a time is coming when those who are in the mad rush today of multiplying their want will retrace their steps and say, what we have done?”

If we look closely we would know that much of our contemporary problems are due to unnecessary development. Due to industrialization and high technology are creating ample amount of waste which we don’t know what to do with. We also don’t know what to do with the huge stack of nuclear weapons that the world powers have. Only a part of these nuclear weapons are enough to destroy the entire world more than once. If a part of this money would have been spent for social welfare agendas then world would have been a better place to leave in. Since we live in a capitalist world we only believe in accumulating more and more which force us to create market demand for every possible goods and services. Gandhi could foresee this and thus he wrote in Hind Swaraj (1980) that the modern civilization is a few days’ wonder and then it will sink into its own weight.

When Gandhi was preaching Swaraj he didn’t only meant self rule but also to become independent from the British way of living. Today after so many decades of India’s independence we see how much West driven our life and the entire system of Government are. British left India physically but mentally we are still slaves of British in our way of thinking and working. The white collar jobs have been replaced and given to the browns and nothing else changed. Gandhi never supported the Westminster form of Government for it divides the society into two – rules and the ruled. This form of Government gives the power into the hands of a few whereas in case of a decentralized form of Government power is shared among many which help to reduce corruption and advocates for better governance.

Gandhi strongly believed in secularism and had to give up his life for being a secular at heart. Today’s world has a different meaning of secularism. For now secularism has become just to respect one’s own religious which is a paradox to what Gandhi had preached all his life. Gandhi has lived for poor. He believed that God lived in poor but the increasing number of poor and their sad living condition shows how Gandhi’s ideologies are falling today. Gandhi could feel that the cities would always remain unstable as they are man made and not natural. Whereas Gandhi believed that villages where mostly of the population resides are natural and are far more sustainable. In order to have a sustainable livelihood villages have to developed and utilized efficiently. Gandhi believed that even politics has to be dealt with moral values which we can’t see in today’s politics. Politics has become a bad word now. Politics doesn’t mean service for the public anymore but to be powerful.

Gandhi’s ideologies are very much needed to be practiced in the current world of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. The world which is a witness to so much of terrorism, torture toward the females and children needs to be under control and only Gandhian philosophy of living can achieve that. Although many people would praise Gandhism but they would deny practicing them in real life as they would say that Gandhism is not realistic. Gandhi has become a figure of history. Everyone believes that his ideologies were just great to fly away the British but that’s not just what Gandhi meant to do. He wanted to make people realize the value of truth, non-violence and Swaraj (as per Gandhi’s understandings) and implement them in their way of living. The day Gandhi’s ideas of Sarvodaya, Swaraj, truth and non violence would take off the world would be the best place to reside.

For the people who believe that Gandhi was against science and technology I would like to say that he was not against technological advancement but was a pro people and protective of the environment personality. He thought no matter how much we develop in terms of technology we should attain sustainable ways of livelihood and if technology hampers sustainable living then it makes no sense to develop our technology.

Gandhi’s ideologies are only remaining in the pages of books which need to be fleshed out in front of the present world because I strongly believe that Gandhism is the instrument to make the world a better place.

Vile Parle’s pride “Parle-G”- A brief history.

Image result for parle G

Background

Parle-G is a known brand to millions now in India as its factory is established in the suburb of Mumbai since 1929. The founder of this Parle factory are Chauhan family and factory headquarters is in Vile Parle (east), Mumbai, Maharashtra (the factory has been closed recently due to increased costs of transportation). They started manufacturing biscuits from 1939. People were unable to buy British biscuits because of its high cost, then Parle factory came into market with its low price Glucose biscuit. According to top writer Nikhil Patel, earlier the biscuits were wrapped in wax paper unlike today’s plastic paper. After India gained independence in 1947, parle company started campaigning Parle biscuits in competition to the British biscuit called  Jacob’s biscuit from UK in 1929. Parle G biscuit stands out from other products of Parle also because of its friendly prising.

How parle-G name came into existence?

Founder coming from Gujarat community, Parle-G’s name first came from founder’s family. They started calling the biscuits as Parle, as Parle means suburb in Gujarati language. As the biscuit had sweet taste of Glucose in it, people started calling biscuits as Parle Gluco. After seeing the success rate of Parle biscuits, other biscuit companies in the market started coping Parle companies idea. To avoid confusion in the market, Parle owners changed its product’s name to Parle-G from Parle Gluco.

Parle-G gaining popularity

According to a recent report by Nielsen, article by Sagar Malviya on 24th june 2015; Parle-G topped the sales chart among other food companies in India during 2014-15, where, Britannia and Mondelez shared the second spot with Rs. 6,800 crores of revenue. Parle G’s sales had exceeded Rs. 8,300 crores according to the report. Parel G had hit the success rate wit 29% shares in the biscuit category plus sates going up by 5000 crores during that period. Under non-food category, HUL was doing great with sales of Rs. 25,400 crore nearly thrice compared to their rival company, P&G, who registered their sales with Rs. 8,600 crore.

In food category Parle company topped with growth of 3.1% (with revenue of 8,300 crore)  and least was Frito-lay India with growth of 1.7%.

Image result for Parle G

Sustainability of Parle G in the current scnerio

One of the old and trusted brand has grown successfully since 1929. Parle had strong hold in terms of revenue with two rivals; Britannia and Mondelez. At present, consumers have choice in the market with other glucose biscuits like, Oats, ragi cookies, digestive and milky biscuits in the market. Executive director of Parle Products, Ajay Chauhan, is aware of this situation. So, does Mr. Chauhan can still maintain the dominant position in the market?

Industry estimates the biscuit market share worth Rs. 15000 crore till September 2012 with glucose accounting for 30% of this segment. Glucose category has not launched much products compared to other cream or cookies category. Parle G had launched Parle G- Gold in May 2012, a premium glucose biscuit which was much heavier than the original one.

Preeti Chamikutty mentions few Parle G facts in her article published on Jan 16,2013. According to her;

400 million Parle G biscuits are produced daily, 1 billion packes of Parle-G are produced monthly, Parle G are sold in more than 500 retail stores, 4,551 Parle-G biscuits are consumed per second, if all Parle G biscuits consumed annually are put end-to-end; they would cover the earth’s circumference 192 times, Parle G sells more biscuits compared to China biscuit market, Parle G’s pricing remained unchanged even in 2000’s.

Basic question at present is, will the present youth from the population still go for Parle-G biscuit even today? In my opinion, if somebody is price sensitive, they will still stick on to Rs.5 Parle-G, which is filling and of course Mumbaikars should not give up on them for a reason :).

Africans (Siddi community) in India: The Unknown population!

Siddi community, Olympics, sports, Arab and Portuguese, rights, social status.

Image result for Siddi players

The Siddi communities also known as Sheedi or Habshi are a small and shy community who migrated from Bantu people, Southeast Asia, 300 years back.  This community has an estimated population of 50,000-60,000 in India. They are mostly confined to North Karnataka as well as Karvar and Sirsi in Karnataka and parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra pradesh. Siddis maximum population stays in Gujarat, tribes are settled down in Karnataka and AP. In Mumbai, there are only 8-10 families who are settled down. Few percentage of population has settled in Pakistan, Sindh and Balochistan. They speak in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu, kannada and konkani. Mostly Siddis are Sufi Muslims, where some are Hindus and rest are Roman Catholic Christians.

Many people from this community don’t know their proper origin. They only know that their ancestors were in India in 7th century due to which the present generation is staying in India. Siddis are mistaken as Africans by other citizens of the country because of their dark skin, curlicues of hair, snub nose and thick lips. In Mumbai, people were not renting out house to Siddis as they look like Africans and they faced lot of racism. Because of this they don’t feel united or comfortable. Sometimes they are even compared to chimpanzees.

Gir is home to the last remaining unknown-tribes, Siddi. Siddis landed on the shores of India as slaves of Arab and Portuguese merchants. Small number of population arrived as merchants and sailors. The Siddis in Gir were slaves to the Nawab of Junagadh who received them as gifts from the Portuguese. Eventually, Siddis were settled in village called Sirwan, which was gifted by the Nawab. They keep their culture alive by music and dance.Image result for Siddi players

The sports authority of India had launched a pro-gram in 1980’s to tap the  potential players so that they can participate in the 1984 Olympics. They travelled without slipper. They started getting trained. The siddi kids routinely started gettinuy g medals at the district, state and national levels.

Players like Kamala Babu Siddi (15), is a national record holder in the junior girl’s pentathlon. Kamala said showing her Olympics blazer (South Asian Federation Games, 1993)- ” This is from my first international meet, I didn’t really know about the specifics of the kit given by the government but I just knew that I wanted to wear the Indian color. Many people asked for it but it’s not something that you part with even after you die.”  Philip Anthony Siddi, took part in 800M at Nehru Stadium in Delhi. Carl Lewis was the first player among Siddis to represent nation abroad. This pro gramme improved financial status of Philip as he could buy 2-acre plot and without sports he would have been nobody. In 1993, suddenly all players were given letter and asked to go back to their respective countries in spite of performing well. No body knew the reason as why the pro gramme got cancelled? Few people cried and went back and few stayed back in India.

Image result for Siddi players

Because they are know through sports, Siddis who stayed back in India spoke to government to restart SAG program. They started with few number of athletes. When ever Olympics gets telecasts on television; Kenyans, Tanzanians, Ethiopians or Somalians ( From East Africa) are seen so energetic that despite any resources they come right on top in the medal tally. That gap has to be reduced when it comes to the comparison of Siddis and East African players.

At present Dandeli has full fledged special area game center for young Siddi talent. The first batch of athletes are being groomed at the Loyola school in Mundgod (Uttara Karnataka) for 2024 Olympics.

In my opinion, like other communities in India, Siddi community should also get their right and be included in the backward community list atleast, to get recognition and for lifting the nations flag high by participating in Olympics. Siddi community should also get a social status where people leave their stigma and give equal job opportunity as well apart from sports. The situation is always going to be tricky when we try to differentiate between Africans and Siddis.

Long story short, they should get Indian citizenship plus all the equal rights that constitute has provided to the rest of the Indian community.