Friday, December 01, 2006

Article: India's rural poor climb the economic ladder

For a long while, I thought income disparities in South Asia were making the gaps between rich and poor wider. Apparently, this article proves my knowledge wrong!

Some notable points copied below:

According to the NCAER, a new socioeconomic category, the rural rich, has emerged in India, creating a divide within the rural economy, as opposed to just the rural-urban income disparity.

The rural rich are 1,000 times more likely than rural poor to own a motorbike, 100 times more likely to own a color television and 25 times more likely to own a pressure cooker.

Many observers have also said that the reason China has progressed much faster is due to state-led capitalism that makes decision-making quicker. In India, democracy is seen to be a stumbling block to higher growth. However, it seems that the pulls and pressures of various vote banks, social class and caste of voters - inherent in a democracy - has ensured that the growth is more equitable, which is a much more sustainable trajectory.

n China, farmers, who, like in India, form the majority of the population, pay 300 different kinds of taxes. Between the mid- and late 90s, rural citizens saw their taxes go up 800%, when farm incomes rose by 90%.

Thus the consumption share in China has declined from around 50% of GDP in the 1980s to below 40% in 2005, which is completely out of sync with the high GDP growth due to large investments and exports.

In China, rural incomes on average have been a sixth of urban incomes, while a villager usually pays three times more in taxes than an urban-dweller. According to China's National Bureau of Statistics, the reduction in the tax burden due to reform/abolition of rural income tax is more or less balanced by rises in rural taxes on land, asset sales and inheritance. There's been no net relief in the tax burden for rural Chinese.

Indeed, there is a definite trickle-down due to India's consistent 8%+ growth. There are other factors that have contributed to greater economic equity including employment created by large infrastructure development work undertaken by the government in rural areas.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Family, Children, and State in Fin-de-Siècle Palestine - 12/7

Family, Children, and State
in Fin-de-Siècle Palestine

A Mine Ener Memorial Lecture
Iris Agmon

Thursday, December 7, 2006, 6:30-8:30 pm
Room C202
C Level (1 Floor below Main level)
The Graduate Center, CUNY
(365 Fifth Avenue, between 34th-35th St.)
Books will be available for purchase

For more info, view the flyer at

The popular image of the family in Muslim and Arab
societies is one which opposes modernity. This family
is often constructed as a patriarchal, extended and
unchanging social framework. Modernity, in contrast,
is seen as pertaining to new, rapidly changing,
rational, efficient, and flexible social institutions.
In this binary conceptualization, there is no room for
change: The family is represented as either
"traditional" or "modern." Fixed features are attributed
to each one of these two opposing family types, and
the passage between them is depicted as linear,
supposedly a "one-way ticket" from traditional to modern
patterns. Abandoning these stereotypes, Agmon analyzes
changing family patterns among the Muslim communities of
Jaffa and Haifa, the two flourishing Palestinian port
cities at the turn of the twentieth century. She examines
how innovations initiated by the Ottoman state affected
the vulnerable position of children, the gendered power
relations within the family, and the interaction between
the family and the emerging modern state.

Iris Agmon is Senior Lecturer in the Department of
Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.
She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem specializing in Ottoman social history.
Her articles have appeared in International Journal
of Middle East Studies, Islamic Law and Society, among
others. Her book, Family and Court:
Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman Palestine,
was recently published by Syracuse University Press.

Event: Using Information Technology to Fight Poverty: A Report from Brazil - 11/28

The Graduate Program in International Affairs presents:
"Using Information Technology to Fight Poverty: A Report from Brazil"

A talk by Rodrigo Baggio

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
at 8:00 pm
The New School
66 West 12th Street
Room 510

The relationship between closing the digital divide and reducing poverty
has become increasingly clear. Social entrepreneur Rodrigo Baggio began
working on this concept 11 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when he
founded CDI, the Committee for Democracy in Information Technology
( CDI began by opening information technology schools in
Rio's favela communities where it is extremely difficult to break the
cycle of poverty due to chronic lack of education and resources. CDI's
experience has proven that information technology is a powerful tool to
promote development and foster the social and economic inclusion of the
world's most marginalized populations. CDI students have gone on to
complete their education, find better jobs, open their own small
businesses and transform their communities. Today, there are over 900
CDI schools in eight countries. And more than a half million people have
benefited from CDI programs.

Rodrigo Baggio has been named by the World Economic Forum as one of 100
Global Leaders for Tomorrow and by Time Magazine as one of the 50
leaders in Latin America that will make a difference in the third
millennium. More recently, Baggio was invited to join the Strategy
Council of UN's new Global Alliance for ICT and Development and was also
named by the Principal Voices project (sponsored by CNN, Time and
Fortune) as one of the world's three leading voices in economic
development along with Jeffrey Sachs, head of the UN Millennium
Development Goals, and Muhammad Yunus, founder of Bangladesh's Grameen

For more information, please contact GPIA at: 212-206-3524.
This event is open to all members of the University community.

Maria Hoffmann
GPIA Events