As district after district slipped out of control from the Afghan army, a valiant Salima Mazari, the woman Governor of Charkint, held fort till she was captured by the Taliban on 18th of August 2021. Such is the passion of women like her and the likes of Zarifa Gafari, mayor of Maidan Shar and Fauzia Koofi who braved assassination attempts to stay in public life and bring progressive reforms. All this stares into an abyss, as images of Taliban 1.0 return.
Reuters/Pajhwok news agencyAfghan womanSantiago Lyon/AP
WOMEN IN THE DAUR – E – JAHILIYA TALIBAN 1.0
It was a time when women in Afghanistan were virtually under house-arrest, and often had to paint their windows black lest they be seen from outside. Taliban declared that women were forbidden to go to work and never leave their homes without being escorted by a male family member. Women who earlier held responsible positions were forced to wander the streets in their burqas, selling everything that they owned or begging in order survive. Much has been written about the brutal rapes and sale of women into forced prostitution and slavery in Pakistan.
Women’s mortality had greatly increased because of the shortage of female doctors, and the Taliban stipulations that there should not be use of anaesthesia even during caesarean birth, and other operations. With Hammams (public baths) banned for women, in the face of water scarcity, sanitation became a pipe dream. Vaginal infections among women.rose. With no mobility, entertainment, access to health care or education, one can only imagine the state of women’s mental health. Alas, mental healthcare was hardly a discourse then!
This had a negative multiplier effect on society: Since majority of the women workforce comprised of teachers, so restrictions on women’s employment created paucity of teachers which dealt a blow to primary education. The Wahabi educated Taliban 2.0 is in fact the standing crop of this female workforce- deprived education system of Afghanistan. Despite these restrictions, however, many valiant Afghan women continued secretly teaching children, turning their homes into community homes for students, managed & financed by women.
The post -Taliban era constitution of 2004, at the dawn of this century provided for 27% reservation of seats in the House of the People for women, Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women, Afghan Women allowed to include their names on their Children’s birth certificates and Identification cards. The number of women officers in Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, and solo flying pilots in the Air force grew. By 2014 women in Afghanistan made up for 16.1% of the labour force including medical field and media specially in education. Several women went on to take up high offices of deputy ministers and advisors.
But now we seem to have entered a time travel machine, zooming into the dark past.
WOMEN’S TREATMENT: INTRINSIC TO TALIBAN SCHEME?
In early July, after Taliban leaders who took control of the provinces of Badakhshan and Takhar issued an order to local religious leaders to provide them with a list of girls over the age of 15 for “marriage” with Taliban fighters. Herded to Waziristan in Pakistan, they are offered as sex-slaves to lure more Taliban fighters to the fold. Women’s brutalisation, is hence a crucial cornerstone to the Taliban scheme of things. It is natural, therefore, for the Taliban to be abhorrent of their rights-an educated and self-dependent woman can never be enslaved!
And now young educated Afghan women are burning their degrees, lest they be penalised for being educated!. Women in banks have been sacked, and in the government may now only work from home, for the six months they have been allowed to work before being removed. The ‘disappearance of women’ in Afghanistan as it were has resumed, with women being dragged out of cars and killed for not wearing veils or being taken as forced wives.
TALIBAN 2.0: WHAT IS TO COME OF WOMEN?
The Taliban have begun this time by presenting a more benign picture of themselves-inviting women to be a part of government, dissociating from Saudi -Arabia, and Wahhabism. This emboldened nations like China and Russia who are already on the path of establishing a politico-economic relations with them. And of course, there is a lure of Afghanistan’s mineral reserves! The nations that are interested, justify their stand saying that Taliban 2.0 are largely an indigenous lot, and keep Saudi-Arabia and UAE at an arm’s length so less likely to be bigoted.
Girls’ schools are to remain open, but teachings are to be according to Sharia– which leaves out subjects such as computers, biological sciences, physics. On the threshold of Industrial Revolution 4.0, this amounts to the de-skilling of an entire generation, and has further socio-economic ramifications. On the other hand, lynching and maiming of the women police officers is running amok in the outskirts, setting stern ‘example’.
The voices of Afghan women loud and clear fall on deaf ears of international community. Women protest movements are lashed out to give way to numerous veiled women escorted by Taliban gunmen demonstrating support to the Taliban regime.
Even as the UN women expresses concern over sever rights’ infringement of Afghan women the political fatigue and defeatism in the post-pandemic West, however, makes it easy to ignore this dualism between actions and words of the Taliban towards women.
The NATO is not one of the 1990s era, and so even a thin veil of words is enough to keep an invasion at Bay. Meanwhile, efforts had started to reach an agreement with the Northern Alliance, which has far more progressive views on women’s rights, as it is said that the wiser Taliban 2.0 are amenable to persuasion and eager to gain legitimacy. But the prospects of coalition of these diametrically opposite views on governance also have already been consigned to flames, as the ‘lions of Panjshir’ bravely oppose the swarms of Taliban running over the territory. And so, what is to be expected of the women’s question?
The question remains as to whether this regime has anything different to offer the women this time. Whether the critique of Wahabism shall reflect on their policies towards women.
Whether the international community will be able to exercise restraint in indulging in this new Great Game, for the sake of women’s rights. If ever again Afghan women will see the light of the day out of their burqa, in boardrooms, streets and the parliament alike. If ever, children-girls and boys alike- will find their way to schools awash with the light of rational and empowering education, not the education of hatred and bigotry.
The voices of Afghan women loud and clear fall on deaf ears of international community. Women protest movements are lashed out to give way to numerous veiled women escorted by Taliban gunmen demonstrating support to the Taliban regime.
Women became officers in Afghan National Army, and solo flying pilots in the Air force. By 2014 women in Afghanistan made up for 16.1% of the labour force more saliently in medical field and media.
Women are offered as Sex-slaves to lure more Taliban fighters to the fold. Women’s brutalisation, is hence a crucial cornerstone to the Taliban scheme of things.
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TELANGANA WELCOMES TESLA TO SET UP SHOP IN STATE
Years after Tesla tried to make an entry into the Indian market, Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana, KT Rama Rao invited Tesla CEO Elon Musk to set up shop in the state in a tweet.
“Hey Elon, I am the Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India. Will be happy to partner Tesla in working through the challenges to set shop in India/Telangana,” Rao said in a reply to Musk’s tweet.
“Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives and a top notch business destination in India,” he added.
This statement has come days after Elon Musk said that Tesla “is still working through a lot of challenges with the government” in India to launch electric cars. Musk wrote in a post giving an update to a query on Twitter on Thursday. Tesla wants to begin selling imported cars in India this year but says taxes in the country are among the highest in the world, said Elon musk in a tweet
With a $39,990 global price tag, Tesla Model 3 may remain as an affordable model in the US but with import duties, it would become unaffordable in the Indian market with an expected price tag of around Rs 60 lakh.
Tesla’s request for tax cuts was first reported in July 2021, when sources told Reuters that the company had written to Indian ministries seeking a big reduction in import duties on electric vehicles. Soon after, Musk tweeted that Tesla was likely to set up a factory in India if successful with imported vehicles.
Another reason for the delay was that India treats clean energy vehicles the same as diesel or petrol vehicles, “which does not seem entirely consistent” with its climate goals, said Elon Musk as a reply to a tweet.
Lat year Rao helped in catalyzing a deal between the Telangana government and Kitex Group to get MD Sabu Jacob to invest Rs 2,406 crore in his state after Kitex pulled out of Kerala, withdrawing Rs 3,500 crore project from the state
INNOVATION FOR INDIA, FROM INDIA, SAYS PM
PM Modi called for a new mantra, that of innovate for India, innovate from India. This mantra came up to tackle challenges facing the country in the start-up industry. He counted the steps taken by the government in freeing entrepreneurs and innovation from bureaucratic silos. “The start-ups of India are changing the rules of the game. I believe that startups are going to be the backbone of the new India,” he said interacting with the youngsters from the world of startups. “Let us innovate for India, innovate from India”, he added. India, he said, has over 60,000 startups with 42 unicorns.
The government is focusing on three aspects to strengthen innovation, entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem- “Freeing entrepreneurship, innovation from government and bureaucratic silos; setting up institutional mechanisms to promote remodelling and innovation and handholding of youth innovators”, he said.
He also narrated the successes of startups during the recent years. “28,000 patents were granted last year as compared to 4,000 patents in 2013-14. In terms of trademarks, in 2013-14, 70,000 trademarks were registered in comparison with 2.5 Lakh trademarks in 2020-21”, he said.
He added, “India’s ranking on the Global Innovation Index is improving because of the programme on innovation started in the country. India’s ranking in the index in 2015 was 81 and now it is number 46.”
He lauded the efforts of startups in not only bringing innovation but also evolving as major job creators. As startups evolve and grow, the requirements of credential-bearing workforce with suited skill sets also increases. This leads to major job creation opportunities. Therefore PM Modi added that startups can be the ripe matrix for jobs and work opportunities to develop and blossom.
He said that the year 2022 has brought new opportunities and avenues for startups and January 16th will be celebrated as National Startup Day to help seep in the startup culture at the grassroot level in the society. Naming of the National Startup Day came in as big news because with the naming of the day, the entire culture of startups will get a new and rejuvenated boost. As people will be able to discern the day for startups and get to celebrate it the boost to the startups will be multiplied manifold.
Modi said that easier access to funds as well as making self-certification for compliance of nine labour and three environmental laws is also helping promote startups. Innovation and technology based solutions are being encouraged for finding solutions to facing the country.
Some of the famous startup unicorns of India include: UpGrad, CRED, Pharmeasy, PhonePe, OYO Rooms among others.
ECONOMIC REVIVAL, EXPANSION ON CARDS: SURVEY
There is no doubt that India is already under the grip of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country recorded at least 2.68 lakh new cases today, including 6,041 cases of Omicron; taking the total tally to 3.67 crore. Notwithstanding, the third wave spreading like wildfire, a significant percentage of industry leaders are optimistic about India’s economic revival with confidence ruling high amongst Indian businesses, finds a pre-budget survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP).
DTTILLP assembled a total of 163 responses from 10 industries. It was found that more than 75 per cent of respondents were positive about India’s economic revival as economic activities pick up steam with a healthy GDP growth.
The survey further finds that around 91 per cent of respondents believe that the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative (Self-reliant India), coupled with monetary policy actions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) played an instrumental role in driving back the economy from gloom last year.
“The industry leaders expect the Union Budget FY 2022-23 to build on to this momentum,” DTTILLP said in a release. The Union Budget is scheduled to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.
On the other hand, 55 per cent of business leaders believe that providing extra tax incentives to long-term investors for infrastructure investment can encourage growth in the country.
While, 45 per cent of respondents believe that the upcoming budget should focus on announcing incentives for increased R&D spending that can boost sectors like automobile, technology, telecommunication, life sciences and capital goods.
Industry leaders, through the Deloitte survey also conveyed some other expectations like enhancing export competitiveness, putting in place competitive import tariffs, and reducing administrative inefficiencies.
“The economy has witnessed a steady recovery during 2021-22”, said, Sanjay Kumar, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, while commenting on the survey findings.
“The Indian economy will continue to witness the growth momentum if the government is able to sustain the efforts on implementation of reforms such as asset monetisation for the infrastructure growth, and PLI schemes,” he further added.
Also, most of the business intellectuals foresee an increased start-up activity fostered by the Centre’s stimulus packages (ECLGS) and policies, which will brighten up the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) culture in the country, resulting in a faster economic revival, Kumar said.
The survey also finds that 59 per cent of respondents believe in the fact that India can be a favourable atmosphere to run a business. With this regard, they touched on three things: promoting digitalisation, simplifying tax regimes and, improving land and labour laws that would also help enhance the EoDB in India.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today announced that January 16 will be observed as ‘Start-up day’ as they are the game changers, whereas small businesses are the spine of country’s economy.
“This partnership (between small businesses and start-ups) can benefit both, the society and the economy, especially women employment will get strengthened because of this,” Modi said as he interacted with start-ups via video conferencing on the occasion of Start-Up India Innovation Week.
The survey conducted by DTTILLP aimed at analysing the industry’s expectations from the upcoming ‘Budget 2022’, where focus will be on EoDB, self-reliance (start-ups) and economic growth.
46 STARTUPS ANNOUNCED WINNERS OF THE NATIONAL STARTUP AWARDS 2021 ALONG WITH 1 INCUBATOR AND 1 ACCELERATOR
Startup India is about realising millions of dreams: Piyush Goyal
“Startup India is about realising millions of dreams,” said ShriPiyush Goyal today. Presenting the National Startup Awards 2021, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, he said the Startup Mission is a symbol of Self-Reliant & Self-Confident India.
“Be it a fisherman’s son from Chennai or a boatman’s daughter from Kashmir, they all want to bring prosperity to their families and to their people, and therefore are thinking bigger and bolder,” said Shri Goyal.
Shri Goyal said, realising the contribution of Startups towards nation-building, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today announced that January 16 will be celebrated as National Start-up Day, to take the Startup culture to the far flung areas of the country.
“Prime Minister Modi is a very firm believer in potential of Startups to contribute significantly to the growth of the nation during the Amritkaal, the next 25 years. He recognises Innovation to be the strongest pillar in making India ‘Aatmanirbhar’,” said Shri Goyal.
Shri Goyal said the PM has focused on three sutras (pillars) to strengthen innovation:
Liberating entrepreneurs from the web of Govt processes & bureaucratic silos, – over 25,000 compliances reduced, decriminalization of laws, etc, but what more can be done to help businesses grow & prosper in an easier environment?
Building institutional mechanisms, – strengthen regulatory processes and self-regulation, &
Handholding young innovators & new enterprises, – mentoring will define Innovation in the future
Shri Goyal called upon the Startups to focus mainly on five areas to make India the No. 1 Startup ecosystem in the world:
1. Develop solutions & content in Indic languages
2. Encourage products & solutions that have a larger social & economic impact
3. Promoting Startups in every district across the country, – Establish ‘Startup Access centers’ in every district
4. Creating Innovation zones at the level of Urban Local Bodies, &
5. Adopt best practices from across the globe & enhance India’s global competitiveness
Quoting PM Modi, Shri Goyal said, “Today India is rapidly moving towards hitting the century of unicorns. I believe the golden era of India’s start-ups is starting now…”
“Government is standing with our innovators and so is the entire country…Let’s Innovate for India, innovate from India!” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, DPIIT Secretary Shri Anurag Jain said the Department will handhold the Startup Award finalists across seven tracks i.e. Investor Connect, Mentorship, Government Connect, Capacity Development, Corporate Connect, Brand Showcase and Unicorn Engagement.
“Our journey together doesn’t end here with just awards, we will walk step by step with you in this journey,” he said.
During the ceremony, the Results of the National StartupAwards (NSA) 2021 were declared. A total of 46 Startupshave been recognized as winners of National Startup Awards 2021 along with 1 incubator and 1 accelerator.
The second edition of the awards invited applications across 15 sectors and 49 sub-sectors. The sectors included Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Drinking Water, Education & Skill Development, Energy, Enterprise Technology, Environment, Fintech, Food Processing, Health & Wellness, Industry 4.0, Security, Space and Transport and Travel. Six special categories were also introduced to recognize exceptional Startups contributing to the good of the society. The 2021 edition of the awards also recognized exceptional Startups innovating solutions to promote Indic languages and to compliment national efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 2177 applications were received from Startupsacross the 49 sub-sectors along with applications from 53 incubators and 6 accelerators for the ecosystem enablerscategories. These applicants included 863 Women-led, 414 innovations for combatting COVID-19 and 253 Startupsworking in rural areas.
All applicants were evaluated against six broad parameters namely Innovation, Scalability, Economic Impact, Social Impact, Environmental Impact, and Inclusiveness and Diversity.
After three rounds of detailed evaluation, 175 Startups were selected for presentation before the jury which made presentations before the 16 specialist jury panels, which comprised of domain experts from industry, investors and government.
The recognised entities will benefit from such recognition, not only in terms of being able to attract more business, financing, partnerships and talent, but also enable them to serve as role models for other entities, and to inspire them to be purposeful and responsible about their socio-economic impact.
53 applications were received from incubators and 6 applications were received from Accelerators. Select incubators and accelerators were selected after three rounds of evaluation for presentation before Jury Panel which gave presentations before the Jury.
The felicitation ceremony was accompanied by the release of an e-Report on National Startup Awards 2021 highlighting the year-round handholding support provided to the finalists of first edition of National Startup Awards and the journey of NSA 2021.
The ‘Blockchain-enabled verification for DPIIT tax incentive certificates’, ‘Digilocker enabled DPIIT Startup recognition certificate’ and second edition of the ‘Startup Champions’ programme on Doordarshan were also launched during the event.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) conceived the National Startup Awards to recognize and reward outstanding Startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact. The measure of success is not only the financial gains for the investors, but also the contribution to social good.
Pandemic proves to be good fortune for telecom sector
While every other sector was doomed during the lockdown, the telecommunication sector has been in high demand. The visible shift towards work from home, online gatherings and classes, streaming services such as Netflix for entertainment brought the telecom sector into the spotlight today. The pandemic has shown the importance of the telecom sector in running business and staying connected.
Contrary to many other industries, the telecommunication sector has been generally exempted from major COVID-19-related restrictions, such as stay-at-home orders and quarantine requirements, as it is recognized as an essential service. The importance of having a strong telecommunications network during this lockdown has also been acknowledged by the government in the guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which provides that telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT and IT-enabled services only are the essential services and are exempt from the lockdown.
Many telecom players from broadband to mobile to data center operators have benefitted from a surge in the traffic of data and voice. As a result, the telecom sector is performing well compared to other infrastructure sub-sectors. Telecommunications has been directly contributing around 6% of the GDP and during the lockdown, this has gone up 5-6 times, which is huge. According to our India Telecoms Report, India’s internet consumption rose by 13% since the nationwide lockdown. Indians consumed 308 petabytes (PB) of data daily on an average for the week beginning March 22. This sudden overnight surge in demand caught the industry off guard with mobile network operators (MNO) struggling to augment capacity and manage data traffic. The forecasts are that mobile subscriptions and fixed broadband subscribers will continue to fuel the telecoms sector growth in the 2019-25 period.
A recent report by Kantar highlighted that India’s rural areas have witnessed a 45% growth in internet penetration in 2019 as compared to urban India’s 11%. Sector regulator TRAI has asked telecom operators to extend the validity period of prepaid users to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21day nationwide lockdown. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also sought details of the steps being taken to ensure availability of uninterrupted telecom services to such customers on a priority basis.
Telecom sector is continuously adapting to the changes caused due to COVID-19 crisis. Being the sole distributor of Internet infrastructure to other industry verticals, telecom operators have made several amendments in their operations and offerings to serve their customers in a better way.
WFH and its impact on affordable housing
With the Covid-19 pandemic becoming endemic across the country, people have gradually learnt to accept the ‘new-normal’ and imbibe it to their lifestyle. A notable change that came to existence, since the pandemic struck is the concept of work from home (WFH). It started with the focus solely on keeping employees safe at home and gradually became the most popular work trend all over the country.
This led to companies stepping away from large real estate construction projects and lease deals. The workplace environment began to bear a scanty look with a depleted staff. The focus now has shifted primarily to an employee’s health followed by better communication while WFH.
The pandemic ensured that people begin to seriously consider homeownership where the idea is to own a home and give it an office-like makeover alongside a homely touch. Instead of going for multipurpose projects and erecting skyscrapers, developers and real estate firms have begun to cash in on this trend; by tapping the consumers’ minds. There was also a faster adoption of digital technologies by builders. On the other hand, some developers in partnership with architects are even going an extra mile to infuse business centres to give WFH population an office-like look.
This new trend of WFH also ensured that a major chunk of the middle class that is city-centric (based in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune to name a few) flies back to their respective homes as the pandemic-induced-WFH is here to stay. The developers have begun to shift their attention to tier-II and tier-III cities as the demand for affordable living increased during the pandemic with more and more people wanting to stay indoors while kids attending online classes.
REALTORS PIN HIGH HOPES THIS YEAR
The realty sector like most of the sectors staged a rebound from 2020’s economic downturn. It also stands at firm ground after tackling the pandemic gloom. Housing sales have witnessed a rise of over 50 per cent, thanks to a sharp rise in WFH. However, it is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. This uptrend has ensured the property dealers pinning their hopes from 2022 beginning with the Budget (that is scheduled to happen on February 1).
Economic revival is on cards as the real estate sector is projected to reach $1-trillion-mark by 2030 from $200 billion in the pre-pandemic year.
The year 2021 began on a positive note for the real estate sector as the sales were strong during the January-March period, assisted by low-interest rates on home loans, pent up demand, discounts offered by cash-starved developers and lower stamp duty offered by some states.
NAREDCO President Rajan Bandelkar described 2021 as a “year of recovery”. He said, “The declining number of cases and resurgent homebuyers’ interest paved the way for a sustainable recovery”.
The central government also extended an additional tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on housing loans for the purchase of affordable homes by one more year to March 31, this year; thereby facilitating recovery to the real estate sector. The additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh over and above Rs 2 lakh was brought in Budget 2019.
The government should focus on demand stimulation measures to sustain economic recovery. It should look for ways to boost private consumption and incentivise the real estate sector in the upcoming Budget.
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