Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gender and Public Transport in India:

CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a workshop on
Gender and Public Transport in India: How do we move from women’s safety to gender equity?Tuesday, 28 February 2017, 3:45 p.m.
Sonal Shah
Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research
Image: ITDP India
The increased policy attention to gender in public transport in India has focused on women and is largely circumscribed by technological and project level interventions aimed at addressing and preventing gruesome incidents of violence. The accounts of sexual violence in the public sphere and Nirbhaya’s death in December 2012 galvanized action by civil society and different levels of government in creating safer public transportation systems.
However, public transport planning remains gender blind as city mobility plans rarely collect gender disaggregated data, investigate gendered trip chaining patterns, the mobility of care, inequities such as daily harassment, time poverty, forced mobility and forced immobility, lack of access to non-motorized vehicles and employment and growth in public transport organizations.
This is compounded by fragmented information on existing initiatives undertaken by public transportation authorities. For example, bus-based authorities have created toilets for transgender persons at city bus stands (Mysore), installed GPS devices and CCTV cameras, provided segregated seats and women only doors, conducted gender sensitization trainings, created Women Safety Committees (e.g. Bangalore) and reserved jobs for women drivers and conductors (e.g. Karnataka). Some of these were initiated prior to 2012, often on political requests or on receiving complaints. The implementation challenges, impact of these actions or the extent to which gender equity is rooted within the transport organization’s vision and goals has not been explored. Thus a wide area of research themes on gender and mobility in India remain uninvestigated.
This paper situates women’s security within a broader goal of gender equity; and identifies research gaps in moving the policy discourse towards gender equitable public transport systems. The research focuses on city bus services as they form the back bone of urban India’s public transportation system. The research was conducted at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and was first presented at the conference on “Urban Planning, Governance and Design for Reducing Urban Conflicts and Violence: Critical Learnings and Possibilities”, March 2-4, 2016, Ahmedabad.
Sonal Shah is Senior Manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, where she coordinates urban planning projects, policy and research. She has 12 years’ experience in over a dozen cities in India, on city-scale to neighbourhood plans, transit oriented development and station accessibility planning to street design, historic precinct conservation, gender, urban redevelopment and housing policy research.
She wears dual hats as a practitioner and educator. In addition to co-teaching undergraduate urban design studios and graduate history and theory of planning courses, she has conducted capacity building sessions and workshops with professionals, government officials and practitioners. She has presented in numerous conferences such as Safe and Inclusive Cities Conference (Ahmedabad), Transed (Delhi), Walk 21 (Munich), Eco-mobility Conference (Changwon), Talking Transit (Bhopal) and ConnectKaro (Bangalore and Mumbai).
Sonal previously worked with reputed organizations such as the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, World Resources Institute and with the late Charles Correa at the Urban Design Research Institute. She completed a B.Arch from KRVIA, Mumbai University and MSc Urban Planning from Columbia University.
This is the eighty fifth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Christine Ithurbide at , Partha Mukhopadhyay at or Marie-Hélène Zerah at

Gujarat Budget Spend Growth 52% – State Taxes 7.6% in 3 Yrs



February, 2017 : Continuing its commitment to the cycling community, Ciclo Café today announced – ‘ Ciclo Team Racing’ – India’s only Elite Amateur Cycle Racing Team. Having Naveen John , India’s first International pro cyclist as a team director, mentor and rider, the team will be training under his leadership. At the launch, Ciclo unveiled the team jersey, rider bikes and announced the team member names- Naveen John and Arvind Panwar (Two-time winner at the National Championships). Two young riders – Parashuram Chenji and Aman Punjani from Hyderabad will be the team’s first two development riders for 2017. Ciclo Team Racing – The brainchild of Bachi Pullela and Ashish Thadani, with a dream to bring Indian cycling to the international racing scene. The team’s focus will be rider development from every perspective – training, coaching, nutrition, equipment and racing.

Speaking on occasion of the launch, Ashish R Thadani (CEO, TI Absolute Concepts ) said, “ Ciclo Café was formed with a vision to bring together members of the cycling community, increase awareness about cycling and foster cycling excellence in the community. This is our effort to nurture young talent and expose them to cycling at an international level. Becoming a professional cyclist requires not just talent and an extraordinary amount of hard work on the part of the cyclist, but also requires a support system that empowers the cyclist with the best equipment, knowledge, coaching, training and racing opportunities.“ It is always a great feeling to represent India internationally and it’s about time that we build our aspirations and get laurels for the country. We have a few very important races coming up, Asian Cycling Championships, World Championships in Norway and 2018 Commonwealth Games. Having to be a part of ‘Ciclo Team Racing’, pushes the adrenaline to train young athletes who can further participate in international races and carry Ciclo’s palette of colours.” said, Naveen John.

Renowned Actor Arya who is an avid cyclist himself, graced the occasion and lauded the effort in putting together this team and giving a platform to Indian cyclists to enhance their skills. The core team of Ciclo Team Racing will consist of 6 handpicked riders who are among the best in the country. They will be taking part in National as well as International races. The team will have a regular racing calendar that will include marquee events in India. Naveen and Arvind will represent India at International events such as the UCI World Championships. The team will travel to Belgium – Home of Ridley Bikes, for 3 months in summer for training and race simulations,
where riders will be exposed to world class training and development facilities. The team sponsors will be – Ridley bikes, 2Go for cycling kits and Apparel, FSA and Vision for Equipment and support from Track & Trail.

Exhibition: A Myth of Two Souls

Exhibition: Early Times – A Myth of Two Souls
24th February to 6th March
Venue: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Conference: “Image Fiction” by Vasantha Yogananthan,
Friday 24th February 7-8PM
“Vasantha Yogananthan in conversation with Rahaab Allana (curator of the Alkazi foundation for the Arts), in partnership with Gujral foundation:

Monday 27th February from 7 PM.
Venue: Gujral Foundation
125 Meherchand Market, Lodi Colony, New Delhi.
Free and open to all, no registration required.


‘Ghadar Movement after a Century:

The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a Seminar
‘Ghadar Movement after a Century:
Study in its History and Historiography

Mr. Sunny KumarAssistant Professor
Miranda House
University of Delhi, Delhi

at 03.00 pm on Thursday,  23rd February 2017
in the Seminar Room, Library Building


Everyone agrees that the budget is a political exercise, albeit couched in economic and financial terms. It touches the lives of virtually the entire population. Therefore,  its impact is far reaching and necessarily takes on political overtones. It is often used to serve immediate partisan interests as for example in 2008, when the then finance minister, allowed public expenditures to explode by 3.5% of GDP. A brazen and successful effort for securing the 2009 elections for the UPA, which returned with a larger majority. It was widely believed that the 2017-18 budget (FY 18 budget) would also see fiscal profligacy for  helping BJP make a good showing in the ensuing elections in five states. Modi and Jaitley need to be commended for  not succumbing to these temptations. The stock market showed its appreciation by recording the highest post budget jump ever.
With FY 18 budget and the preceding ones, Modi and Jaitley have unequivocally shown  that they would not cede even an inch of the ‘left of center space’ to their  political opponents.  Modi has learnt, as he should have,  from the unfortunate experiences of Vajpayee led government who lost the 2004 elections against all odds. FY 18 budget carefully follows the trend in previous three budgets of retaining and where possible expanding allocations for public welfare schemes. Thus allocations for MNREGA, affordable housing; farmers’ crop insurance schemes, subsidies for food and fertilizers; distribution of cooking gas to poor households; subsidized life insurance schemes have either been increased or retained.
I support these transfer payments and subsidies as being necessary for achieving a modicum of equity and welfare in a poor, predominantly market based capitalist economy. This is the essence of Keynesian welfarism that kept the left at bay in Europe and the UK. It is, however, critical that these transfer payments are done efficiently with minimal leakages. Modi has focused on improving the delivery of these subsidies as is reflected in his oft cited example of ‘neem coating’ urea fertilizers. Similarly,  JAM based direct benefits transfer to bank accounts of actual beneficiaries is also aimed at plugging remaining leakages. This is the essence of putting in place a Development State.
By unabashedly proving its pro-poor credentials, Modi has ensured that he will not be electorally hurt by the emotive charge of being a ‘suit boot ki sarkar.’ This has been RG’s one and only successful attack on Modi. It demonstrates that in our hyper competitive democracy, a minor slip can blow up into a major weakness. The fear of being identified as a rich-persons man, has goaded Modi into ostensibly shunning  the company of Indian businessmen and avoiding budget measures that could be even faintly seen as being pro-business of pro-investor. Could he have gone too far in this direction?
Having secured his ‘left flank’, Modi now must attend to the political necessity of generating large scale employment. Indian youth’s aspirations are exploding and their patience wearing thin. This is evident from the dominant caste mobilizations of the Jats in Haryana, Gujjars in Rajasthan, Patels in Rajasthan and most recently Maratthas in Maharashtra. These communities, which benefitted disproportionately from 1990s liberalization, now see opportunities lagging significantly behind aspirations. Hence the mobilization. Surely, Shiv Sena’s newly found belligerence arises from smelling an electoral opportunity among the disaffected Marathi Youth
So the Modi government must urgently generate jobs and in large numbers too. This cannot happen without rejuvenating private investors’ sentiments which are currently so fraught that growth in private gross capital formation is negative. The ominous corollary is that productive capacities in the economy are shrinking and with that job opportunities are becoming scarcer and not plentiful as they ought to be. Aspiring youth do not appreciate NITI Ayog’s nuanced differentiation between good employment, full employment and under-employment.
These measures for generating jobs cannot wait for the next budget in February 2019 as that  would be too late. Investors sentiments take time to turn around, specially in an external and domestic environment  so full of uncertainties. Some measures were indeed announced in the FY 18 budget. These need to be supplemented to provide the necessary momentum in job creation. These can be announced when the Lok Sabha re-convenes to discuss and pass the finance bill.
First, corporate income tax cut must be extended to the remaining 8% that have been hitherto left out. Corporates should be given the option to continue with their exemptions or choose the lower tax rate for for next two years. SMEs depend on larger companies for their orders and so without improving sentiment and profitability of the latter, a  SME focused tax cut may not produce desired results.
Second, personal income tax cut should be extended to higher income categories  by levying the highest rate of 30% plus cesses on incomes above  Rs 20 lakh. This will give a  much needed boost to consumption demand, necessary for improving capacity utilization in domestic industry. Revenue foregone will be recovered with the widening of the tax base and higher compliance.
Third, at least Rs. 40,000 crore should be allocated for public sector banks recapitalization. Unfortunately, as happens all over the world, taxpayers will have to bear the cost of the past sins in order to unfreeze the credit flow from banks whose NPAs have climbed to a scary 11.5%. Surely, bank mortality must be also be permitted, while safeguarding depositors interests, in cases where NPAs have gone beyond redeemable levels
Fourth, private sector operators must be actively involved in the implementation of affordable housing and infrastructure projects. There is no shying away from extremely tardy implementation of housing projects. This must be rectified by inviting private contractors to execute projects where land acquisition, procedural clearances and financial closure have been secured. These projects can be awarded in the most transparent and competitive basis to deflect any charges of crony capitalism etc.
Fifth, private sector should also be actively involved in the resuscitation of agriculture extension services and creation of post harvest logistics that would improve farmers’ connectivity with private retailers and E-markets. Private retailers would be ideally suited to be used as extension service providers and suitably incentivized.
All these measures will assure private investors that Modi means business. And we know from his Gujarat track record that he does mean business. In Delhi he has been hemmed in by the need to propagate the correct political message of being pro-poor. This is fine. However, it is not necessary that taking steps to boost private investment and employment generation will queer the pro-poor pitch.
The calculus of Modi’s political messaging team could well be that his own persona and popularity, which remains exceptionally high for a person in the middle of his term, would suffice to win the 2019 elections. However, he would do well to take out an insurance policy against downside electoral risks, by ensuring that private investors are now enthused and actively working with him for generating jobs. And are not in either in a sulk or simply licking their self-inflicted wounds.  Smart political messaging can remove perceptional bias against pro-investor measures that are necessary for generating jobs, critically needed for electoral success and economic dynamism.
Author is Founder Director Pahle India Foundation, Delhi and Chancellor Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune

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