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Category Archives: Socio-economic Collapse

SNS leader Danko unexpectedly withdraws from coalition agreement – The Slovak Spectator

Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:41 am

PM Fico finds the Dankos move absurd and convened a session of the Coalition Council for Tuesday

Speaker of Parliament and leader of the co-governing Slovak National Party (SNS) Andrej Danko withdrew from the coalition agreement on August 7. He explained this move as an absolute necessity to reset rules and adjust relations within the ruling coalition. He also cited the need to set completely new priorities that would be reflected within the process of drafting a new budget.

The favourable socio-economic situation of 2017 shows the need to focus on new challenges and priorities that need to be reflected in the coalition agreement and the new Government Manifesto, said Danko, as cited by the TASR newswire. When the countrys economy is doing well, citizens themselves must feel it too.

Smer, SNS and Most-Hd parties signed the current coalition agreement on September 1, 2016, after the fourth party in the coalition, Sie of Radoslav Prochzka, disbanded.

The opposition sees Danko’s move as an effort of SNS to cover up the scandal involving the distribution of EU funds by Education Minister Peter Plavan.

Danko denied the accusations and recalled that the system for drawing on EU funds in the education sector was set up in December 2015, when Smer nominee Juraj Draxler was at the helm of the education department.

As Danko said in an interview given prior to his party’s withdrawal from the Coalition Agreement, the biggest mistake made by Education Minister Peter Plavan (SNS nominee) was that he did not make a comprehensive change in the drawing of EU funds and continued along the line of his predecessors, who unfortunately had seen the absorption of EU funds as a competition between private companies and universities.

“This then degraded into a war among private companies,” Danko said, as cited by the SITA newswire. “I do not find this fortunate. The absorption of EU funds should have been set directly into universities.”

Prime Minister Robert Fico and the leader of the strongest ruling party, Smer, finds Dankos move absurd. He is convening a session of the Coalition Council for Tuesday, August 8, where it is expected that Danko will explain his withdrawal from the coalition agreement.

He [Fico] expects that the SNS chair will explain to his partners the absurd decision by the Slovak National Party which doesnt introduce peace and stability into society, said Beatrice Szabov, the prime ministers spokesperson. She added that Smer will act responsibly towards voters and the country as a whole at the session.

The Most-Hd party expects that Danko would arrive at the coalition meeting with a tangible proposal of what he needs to change in the coalition agreement. The party also expects an explanation as to why he decided to withdraw from the agreement. Bla Bugr, the leader of Most-Hd, said this after the partys leadership session on Monday evening.

This is an issue that needs to be discussed at the Coalition Council, said Bugr on Monday. We will require explanations. There are things that are solvable, while there are things that are not.

Bugr considers the situation to be serious, adding that he does not know exactly what Danko requires.

SNS vice-chair Jaroslav Paska indicated that the cabinet may collapse and that the current situation may even lead to an early election.

President Andrej Kiska met Danko following the announcement that he was withdrawing from the coalition agreement. Kiskas spokesman, Roman Krpelan, told TASR that the president thinks it the task of the leaders of the three governing parties Smer, SNS and Most-Hd to discuss the issue among themselves at coalition sessions.

The opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party also sees Dankos withdrawal as an effort of SNS to divert the publics attention from the scandal involving the distribution of EU funds for science and research by the Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry, which is led by Peter Plavan, a nominee of SNS.

Therefore, hes provoking a seemingly serious conflict within the coalition, reads a statement signed by SaS leader Richard Sulk, vice-chairs ubomr Galko and Jana Kiov and chief of the SaS caucus Natlia Blahov.

SaS believes that Danko would like to get rid of the Education Ministry.

Hes obviously found out that this is a sector where a lot of real work needs to be done for students, teachers, for Slovak society, rather than stealing, they said.

If this transparent August game by the SNS leader leads to the break-up of the government, SaS is ready for early elections and ready to take power. It still views itself as the sole realistic alternative to Smer and the current coalition.

The opposition OaNO-NOVA said that dividing the loot of EU funds for science and research is so important to SNS that its head is ready to cause chaos in Slovakia for it.

Responding to Dankos withdrawal from the coalition agreement, Veronika Remiov and Igor Matovi of OaNO-NOVA said that the action taken by the SNS head is proof that the coalition is unable to govern together and that instead of addressing the main issues in Slovakia, like education and health care, it will now quarrel about spheres of influence.

Andrej Danko has failed in managing our country and has shown that he is unable to communicate, said Remiov and Matovi. After the coalition council session on Thursday [August 3] he pretended that everything was fine, but today hes sending paper notes to his coalition partners as if they werent members of the government but classmates at primary school.

They added that this move wont help Danko cover up the scandal concerning the distribution of EU funds for science and research.

Political scientist Juraj Maruiak said that it is difficult to assess the situation at the moment, as the formulation of the withdrawal from the coalition agreement is very extensive. He believes that coalition partners will try to negotiate in a way that allows the coalition to continue.

It seems that Danko is not satisfied with the SNSs position within the ruling coalition, said Maruiak, as cited by TASR, adding that tensions between Smer and SNS have already been growing for some time. We will see. The strengthening of the position of SNS will probably be in question. I also think that Danko sees this as a way to cover up the situation that has arisen surrounding the education minister and the scandal with the distribution of EU funds.

7. Aug 2017 at 23:38 |Compiled by Spectator staff

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SNS leader Danko unexpectedly withdraws from coalition agreement – The Slovak Spectator

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Essay: After neoliberalism, what next? – Red Pepper

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm

We may be living through one of those moments in history that future historians will look back on as a watershed, a period of flux that marked a transition to quite different economic and social arrangements. Unfortunately, in human history a moment can be a very long time, so long that it could be decades before the final shape of the new arrangements are even evident; and in the interim, there could be many dead cat bounces of the current system.

What is clear is that the established order broadly defined as neoliberal globalised finance capitalism is no longer capable of delivering on its promises of either growth or stability, even as it generates more inequality and insecurity across the world. In Marxist terms (as befitting the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital), the property relations under which production is organised have become fetters on the development of productive forces themselves, and generate more and more alienation. This may explain why, perhaps even more significantly, the system is also losing legitimacy in most countries, under attack from both right and left.

Whether we look at straws in the wind or green shoots in the ground, there is no doubt that there are incipient signs of change. But at this point there are many directions in which such change could go, and not all of them are progressive or even desirable. That is why it is important to get social and political traction for alternative trajectories that focus on more equitable, just, democratic and ecologically viable outcomes for most of humanity.

The question what is your alternative? is a familiar one for most progressives, and too often we are overly defensive or self-critical about our supposed lack of alternatives. In truth, there are many economically-viable, socially-desirable alternative proposals in different contexts. The problem is not their lack of existence but their lack of political feasibility, and perhaps their lack of wider dissemination. But it is certainly true that the alternative does not consist of one over-arching theory (or even framework) that can subsume all others, since there are many good reasons for being sceptical of the days of the grand theory that supposedly could take care of everything.

While rejecting the totalising theory, it is possible to think of a broad framework around which there could be much agreement, even among people who do not necessarily identify themselves as of the left, but are nevertheless dissatisfied with current economic arrangements at both national and international levels.

Much current discussion on economic strategies for global capitalism is framed around the financial crisis of 2007/8 and its continuing repercussions. But it does not really need a crisis to show us that the past strategy for growth and development has been flawed in most countries. Even during the previous boom, the pattern of growth had too many limitations, paradoxes and inherent fragilities. Everyone now knows that the economic boom was unsustainable, based on speculative practices that were enabled and encouraged by financial deregulation. It also drew rapaciously and fecklessly on natural resources, and it was deeply unequal. Contrary to general perception, most people in the developing world, even within the most successful region of Asia, did not gain.

The financial bubble in the US attracted savings from across the world, including from the poorest developing countries, so that for at least five years the global South transferred financial resources to the North. Developing country governments opened their markets to trade and finance, gave up on monetary policy and pursued fiscally correct deflationary policies that reduced public spending. Development projects remained incomplete and citizens were deprived of the most essential socio-economic rights.

A net transfer of jobs from North to South did not take place. In fact, industrial employment in the South barely increased in the past decade, even in the factory of the world, China. Instead, technological change in manufacturing and new services meant that fewer workers could generate more output. Old jobs in the South were lost or became precarious and the majority of new jobs were fragile, insecure and low-paying, even in fast-growing China and India. The persistent agrarian crisis in the developing world hurt peasant livelihoods and generated global food problems. Rising inequality meant that the much-hyped growth in emerging markets did not benefit most people, as profits soared but wage shares of national income declined sharply.

Almost all developing countries adopted an export-led growth model, which in turn suppressed wage costs and domestic consumption in order to remain internationally competitive and achieve growing shares of world markets. This led to the peculiar situation of rising savings rates and falling investment rates (especially in several Asian countries) and to the holding of international reserves that were then placed in safe assets abroad. This is why the boom that ended in 2007/8 was associated with the South (especially in developing Asia) subsidising the North: through cheaper exports of goods and services, through net capital flows from developing countries to the US in particular, through flows of cheap labour in the form of short-term migration.

The collapse in Northern export markets that followed the recession brought that process to a halt, and recent moves towards more protectionist strategies in the US and elsewhere, as well as the persistent mercantilist approach of surplus-producing countries like Germany, have made it more difficult since then. In any case, such a strategy is unsustainable beyond a point, especially when a number of relatively large economies use it at the same time.

In this boom, domestic demand tended to be profit-led, based on high and growing profit shares in the economy and significant increases in the income and consumption of newly-globalised middle classes, which led to bullish investment in non-tradeable sectors such as financial assets and real estate as well as in luxury goods and services. The patterns of production and consumption that emerged meant that growth also involved rapacious and ultimately destructive exploitation of nature and the environment. The costs in terms of excessive congestion, environmental pollution and ecological degradation are already being felt, quite apart from the implications such expansion has on climate change.

There have been other negative impacts. Within developing Asia, for example, it led to an internal brain drain with adverse implications for the future. The skewed structure of incentives generated by the explosive growth of finance directed the best young minds towards careers that promised quick rewards and large material gains rather than painstaking but socially necessary research and basic science. The impact of relocation of certain industries and the associated requirement for skilled and semi-skilled labour led to increased opportunities for educated employment, but it also led bright young people to enter work that is typically mechanical and does not require much originality or creativity, with little opportunity to develop their intellectual capacities.

At the same time, crucial activities were inadequately rewarded. Farming in particular became increasingly fraught with risk and subject to growing volatility and declining financial viability, while non-farm work did not increase rapidly enough to absorb the labour force even in the fastest growing economies of the region.

The boom was not stable or inclusive, either across or within countries. The subsequent slump (or secular stagnation) has been only too inclusive, forcing those who did not gain earlier to pay for the sins of irresponsible and unregulated finance. As economies slow down, more jobs are lost or become more fragile, insecure and vulnerable; and people, especially those in the developing world who did not gain from the boom, face loss of livelihood and deteriorating conditions of living. This is why it is so important that we restructure economic relations in a more democratic and sustainable way.

There are several necessary elements of this. Globally, most now recognise the need to reform the international financial system, which has failed to meet two obvious requirements: preventing instability and crises, and transferring resources from richer to poorer economies. Not only have we experienced much greater volatility and propensity to financial meltdown across emerging markets and now even industrial countries, but even the periods of economic expansion were based on the global poor subsidising the rich.

Within national economies, this system has encouraged pro-cyclicality: it has encouraged bubbles and speculative fervour rather than real productive investment for future growth. It has rendered national financial systems opaque and impossible to regulate. It has allowed for the proliferation of parallel transactions through tax havens and loose domestic controls. It has reduced the crucial developmental role of directed credit.

Given these problems, there is no alternative but systematic state regulation and control of finance. Since private players will inevitably attempt to circumvent regulation, the core of the financial system banking must be protected, and that is only possible through social ownership. Therefore, some degree of socialisation of banking (and not just the risks inherent in finance) is inevitable. In developing countries this is also important because it enables public control over the direction of credit, without which no country has industrialised.

The obsessively export-oriented model that has dominated the growth strategy for the past few decades must be reconsidered. This is not a just a desirable shift it has become a necessity given the obvious fact that the US and the EU are no longer engines of world growth through increasing import demand in the near future. This means that both developed and developing countries must seek to redirect their exports to other countries and most of all to redirect their economies towards more domestic demand. This requires a shift towards wage-led and domestic demand-led growth, particularly in the countries with economies large enough to sustain this shift. This can happen not only through direct redistributive strategies but also through public expenditure to provide more basic goods and services.

This means that fiscal policy and public expenditure must be brought back centre stage. Calls to end austerity are becoming more widespread in the developed world and will soon find their counterpart in developing countries. Clearly, fiscal stimulus is now essential, to cope with the adverse real-economy effects of the current crisis/stagnation and to prevent economic activity and employment from falling, and then to put good, quality employment on a stable footing. Fiscal expenditure is also required to undertake and promote investment to manage the effects of climate change and promote greener technologies. Public spending is crucial to advance the development project in the South and fulfil the promise of achieving minimally acceptable standards of living for everyone in the developing world.

Social policy the public responsibility for meeting social and economic rights of citizens contributes positively to both growth and development. This means especially the provision of universal good quality care services, funded by the state, with care workers properly recognised, remunerated and provided with decent working conditions. This also helps to reduce gender and other social inequalities generated by the imposition of unpaid care work, and has strong multiplier effects that allow for more employment increases over time and generate a bubbling up of economic activity.

There must be conscious attempts to reduce economic inequalities, both between and within countries. We have clearly crossed the limits of what is acceptable inequality in most societies, and policies will have to reverse this trend. Globally and nationally, we must reduce inequalities in income and wealth, and most significantly in the consumption of natural resources.

This is even more complicated than might be imagined because unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are deeply entrenched in richer countries and are aspired to in developing countries. But many millions of citizens of the developing world still have poor or inadequate access to the most basic conditions of decent life, such as electricity, transport and communication links, sanitation, health, nutrition and education. Ensuring universal provision across the global South will inevitably require greater per capita use of natural resources and more carbon-emitting production.

Both sustainability and equity therefore require a reduction of the excessive resource use of the rich, especially in developed countries but also among the elites in the developing world. This means that redistributive fiscal and other economic policies must be especially oriented towards reducing inequalities of resource consumption, globally and nationally. Within countries, for example, essential social and developmental expenditure can be financed by taxes that penalise resource-wasteful expenditure.

This requires new patterns of demand and production. It is why the present focus on developing new means of measuring genuine progress, well-being and quality of life are so important. Quantitative GDP growth targets, which still dominate the thinking of policy-makers, are not simply distracting from these more important goals but can be counterproductive.

For example, a chaotic, polluting and unpleasant system of privatised urban transport involving many vehicles and over-congested roads generates more GDP than a safe, efficient and affordable system of public transport that reduces congestion and provides a pleasant living and working environment. It is not enough to talk about cleaner, greener technologies to produce goods that are based on the old and now discredited pattern of consumption. Instead, we must think creatively about consumption itself, and work out which goods and services are more necessary and desirable for our societies.

This cannot be left to market forces, since the international demonstration effect and the power of advertising will continue to create undesirable wants and unsustainable consumption and production. But public intervention in the market cannot be knee-jerk responses to constantly changing short-term conditions. Instead, planning not in the sense of the detailed planning that destroyed the reputation of command regimes, but strategic thinking about the social requirements and goals for the future is absolutely essential. Fiscal and monetary policies, as well as other forms of intervention, will have to be used to redirect consumption and production towards these social goals, to bring about such shifts in socially-created aspirations and material wants, and to reorganise economic life to be less rapacious and more sustainable.

Since state involvement in economic activity is now an imperative, we should be thinking of ways to make involvement more democratic and accountable within our countries and internationally. Large amounts of public money will be used for financial bailouts and to provide fiscal stimuli. How this is done will have huge implications for distribution, access to resources and living conditions of the ordinary people whose taxes will be paying for this. So it is essential that we design the global economic architecture to function more democratically. And it is even more important that states across the world, when formulating and implementing economic policies, are more open and responsive to the needs of the majority of their citizens.

These are general points and obviously leave much to the specific contexts of individual countries and societies. But finally, we need an international economic framework that supports all this, which means more than just that capital flows must be controlled and regulated so that they do not destabilise these strategies.

The global institutions that form the organising framework for international trade, investment and production decisions need to change and become not only more democratic in structure but more genuinely democratic and people-oriented in spirit, intent and functioning. This is particularly the case with respect to the dissemination of knowledge, now privatised and concentrated thanks to the privileging of intellectual property rights. Financing for development and conservation of global resources must become the top priorities of the global economic institutions.

These proposals may seem like a tall order, but human history is replete with stories of major reversals of past trajectories and transformations that come when they are not expected and from directions that are unpredictable. What has been created and implemented by human agency can also be undone to bring in better alternatives. It may well be that the time is ripe in terms of greater social acceptance of such ideas and thoughts about how to refine and adapt them to particular contexts.

Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and the executive secretary of International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS). She is closely involved with a range of progressive organisations and social movements. She blogs at and

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Essay: After neoliberalism, what next? – Red Pepper

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We will protect Free SHS, NHIS, others from collapse Ofori-Atta – GhanaWeb

Posted: at 3:39 am

General News of Monday, 31 July 2017


play videoKen Ofori Atta, Finance Minister

The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta has given assurances that government will do whatever it takes to protect its socio-economic development programs from collapse.

He said the programs including the flagship Free SHS program, National Health Insurance Scheme, Planting for Food and Jobs among others, will be provided with the needed financial resources to ensure that they achieve the desired results.

Presenting the governments mid-year budget review to Parliament on Monday, Mr. Ofori Atta said despite the governments plan ensure fiscal discipline and prudent spending, it is committed to growing the economy through its various social intervention projects.

Mr. Speaker, despite the measures being taken to ensure that we maintain fiscal discipline, the government remains strongly committed to growing the economy and delivering services to our people through strategic allocation and efficient use of resources.

Our flagship programmes such as the Free SHS, NHIS, School Feeding, LEAP, Planting for Food and Jobs etc will be protected, he said.

The New Patriotic Party government secured the mandate to govern the country on the back of a number of social intervention programs including the Free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs among others.

The Free SHS policy, which is expected to take off from September, will ensure government pays tuition among other fees for all students in public Senior High Schools for their three-year stay in school.

It is expected that the program will increase access to quality education and as well as reduce the rate of senior high school drop-outs due to nonpayment of fees.

The planting for food and jobs program, which was announced earlier this year by the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Afriyie Akoto, is aimed at revolutionizing the countrys agricultural sector and creating jobs.

As part of the program, government will provide farm inputs, fertilizer, and improved seeds among other resources to boost agricultural production.


We will protect Free SHS, NHIS, others from collapse Ofori-Atta – GhanaWeb

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IEP for strict enforcement of code of ethics in construction industry – The Nation

Posted: July 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm

ISLAMABAD – Speakers at a seminar arranged here on Saturday by Institution of Engineers Pakistan, Rawalpindi-Islamabad (IEP-RI) called for strict enforcement of code of ethics in construction industry to ensure public safety.

If a doctor makes a mistake, one person die and if engineer commits a mistake it kills hundreds of people, said key-note speaker Engineer Prof. Rafiq Muhammad Chaudhry while addressing the seminar that was also participated by the Chairman IEP-RI Engr. Hafiz M. Ehsanul Haq Qazi, Engr. Najumuddin and Engr. Shafiqur Rehman. The seminar was part of the institution’s Continuing professional development (CPE) program for young engineers.

It was emphasized that there should be a zero tolerance for corruption and mal-practices in construction industry. Recent incidents, collapse of constructions structure of high-rise building led to massive human-loss. Ethically, concerned engineer should be made accountable for any such incident. Safety, health and welfare of public should be made fundamental requirements for undertaking any development project, Prof. Rafiq asserted. He emphasized that the engineers should be sincere to the society, having no compromise on basic design, specification and contract of the construction deal. While undertaking the construction work, the relevant engineers must apply latest professional techniques for achieving better results.

Prof. Rafiz Chaudhry who enjoyed rich experience, working in engineering sector, home and abroad emphasized that the engineering community must keep up dignity and honour of their profession.

He also gave detailed presentation on contract management among the relevant parties. He explained legal and moral responsibilities and obligations of each party in executing building contracts. Each contract should be according to the law of the land, he added.

Chairman IEP-RI Hafiz Ehsanul Haq announced that they would be holding a number professional development activities during the year for the capacity-building of the young engineers, enabling them to play productive role in the countrys socio-economic development.

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Empowering Women in Developing Economies – Council on Foreign Relations

Posted: July 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Economic opportunity is vital to strengthening peace and stability, especially in fragile states and post conflict societies. Developing sustainable employment entails a strong partnership between the private and public sectors, as well as multilateral organizations. Kate Spade & Companys social enterprise investment in Rwandawhich enables women to be part of its supply chainis an innovative example of that partnership.

Rwanda suffered one of the worst genocides in history in 1994. The Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda claimed more than one million lives and left in its wake a near total collapse of political and socio-economic institutions. The leadership of Rwanda and its people embarked on an arduous journey to mend the fabric of their society, and out of the ashes of destruction rose a new and prosperous nation.

Today, Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. There are several reasons for Rwandas economic and social progress. A growing body of research demonstrates that womens economic participation is essential for economic progressand for post conflict reconstruction and recovery. Women entrepreneurs drive GDP and create jobs, and the way women spend their income has a multiplier effect, as they invest it in education, nutrition, and other needs; this in turn improves the well-being of families and grows the standard of living. Rwandas leadership in gender equality has fostered a positive environment for womens political participation and entrepreneurship. Women comprise over 60 percent of the Parliamentthe highest in the world. Inheritance and land rights have been advanced, and there have been significant improvements on a range of indicators from education and literacy to health care. We have observed the impact that the private sector can have on womens economic empowerment in Masoro, a village of twenty thousand people roughly twelve kilometers away from Rwandas capital, Kigali. Like many rural communities, Masoro suffered from higher unemployment and lower earnings than the national average. On the positive, local artisans were skilled in embroidery and sewing.

Officials from Kate Spade & Company decided to make a social enterprise investment in this small community to test if this investment could produce economic and social returns. The company recruited 150 of the villages most talented and committed female artisans in 2013, and helped them set up their own worker-owned, for-profit social enterprise: Abahizi Dushyigikirane, Ltd. or ADC. Kate Spade & Company has worked to build the capacity of the workers and has been using them as a supplier for its related brands. In that way, the women and their families can prosper and Kate Spade & Company can have a dependable supplier.

According to a recently released study by Georgetowns McDonough School of Business, in partnership with the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security, Kate Spade & Companys initiative has already contributed to the empowerment of the women in Masoro. They are flourishing economically and socially. The women have improved their spending on necessities and are investing in the future. They are earning a decent and steady wage and receiving opportunities for training and development from ADC. The average woman working on the initiative has also reported higher levels of decision-making within her family related to personal finances.

This is evidenced by Appolinaire, a team leader in ADCs beading department. Appolinaire first applied to be a temporary worker at ADC in order to supplement her households income. To her surprise, she positively adjusted to the position right away, and especially enjoyed the camaraderie with other women. ADC offered Appolinaire an opportunity to take the sewing test required for a permanent position, which she passed.

With her new income from the factory, Appolinaire and her husband have been able to invest in a new kitchen, and they are gradually replacing their mud brick walls and dirt floor with bricks. Appolinarie says her voice is heard on all of the important household decisions. She no longer tends the land or cares for the cows. As she progressed at ADC and her salary increased, a young man was hired to do those chores. Clearly, she is becoming economically empowered.

On the business investment, the Georgetown study found that Kate Spade & Company has created a financially viable business model in Rwanda. The Masoro supplier will become more competitive as production increases. The increases are set to occur over the course of 2017 with the acquisition of another client. Kate Spade & Company is actively assisting in the search for a second client and potential investors to support their growth trajectory.

This innovative social enterprise investment offers a model approach for creating economic opportunity that is sustainable in marginalized communities. Other companies can also contribute to their bottom line and help to transform fragile and war-torn societies. Its a win-win approach: one that is good for business and good for society.

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Why Big Up Is Way Down – Outlook India

Posted: at 7:40 pm

At the time of Independence, UP (United Provinces until 1950, when it was renamed as Uttar Pradesh) was described as one of the best governed states, with tall leaders and some of the finest IAS officers. Today, it is the most important state in national politics, but remains poor and backward. Regional inequalities between the states in southern and western India and those in the Hindi heartland have shown increasing divergence rather than convergence in recent years. The reasons lie not just in the feudal, caste-based society that reinforces economic backwardness, but also in the states competitive and divisive politics of governance.

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Social change was slow in the colonial and immediate post-colonial period in UP. The Congress, which enjoyed a majority until the late 1980s, failed to use the states enormous physical and social resources to bring about socio-economic development. UP was described in the mid-1960s as the sleeping giant and later as suffering from the burden of inertia. During the 80s, for the first time, there was a slight shift away from agriculture to industry and economic growth surpassed the national average mainly due to the green revolution in eastern UP. Poverty was reduced, fuelling the assertion of the backward castes and Dalits.

This proved to be short-lived, though, with UP getting caught in a downward spiral in the 1990s. The collapse of the Congress in 1989 had made space for the politics of self-respect and dignity. Democratisation was accelerated with heightened consciousness of caste or communal identities and the rise of parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BJP, too, was mobilising the electorate using its Hindutva ideology, leading to communal riots and the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, UP had hung assemblies and short-lived coalition governments. Competitive populist policies led to steep deterioration in the states fiscal health and growth rate, leading to a debt trap.

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Two developments in the 2000s created hope of improvementthe weakening of identity politics and the emergence of majority governments. During the same period, however, UP witnessed a new wave of riots: Mau in 2005, Gorakhpur in 2007 and Muzaffarnagar in 2013. While the Mayawati government (2007-12) had introduced an inclusive economic agenda and witnessed no riot, UP has been seeing rapes, lynchings, riots and poor quality of public policy since 2012. Much of this has been due to communal politics and breakdown of law and order. The Akhilesh Yadav government, hoping to gain Muslim votes, did little to prevent communal incidents, and was accused of communalising the police and the administration.

The decline of the social justice parties has given room to the BJP and its new ideology of non-Brahminical Hindutva, aimed at bringing the lower castes into its fold. This explains the shift from the politics of social justice to that of aspiration among the upwardly mobile OBCs and Dalits, who are getting attracted to the promises of development made by Narendra Modi. This, and the BJPs communally charged campaign were responsible for its massive victory during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and again in the assembly polls this year. Although CM Yogi Adityanath has promised development of all, appeasement of none and no discrimination based on caste, religion and gender, his government has not been able to rein in cow-protection vigilantes and lynchings. Instead of focussing on development, Adityanath has introduced divisive policies such as the ban on illegal slaughterhouses and new rules governing the sale of cattle, which have created economic difficulties for Muslims and others dependent on the trade.

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There is indeed a close relationship between the divisive politics of identity and UPs continuing trajectory of economic backwardness. The state epitomises the Hindi heartlandcaste and communal mobilisation by political parties in their desire to capture power, riots, breakdown of law and order, negligent and poor governanceand needs a new leadership to bring in political order and development so that it can resume its position among the better-governed states.

(The writer is a national fellow at ICSSR and former professor at JNU, New Delhi.)

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Bridges at Nobekaw, Garu-Tempane collapse; movement of people and goods affected – GhanaWeb

Posted: July 17, 2017 at 4:39 am

General News of Monday, 17 July 2017


The truck on the collapsed bridge at Garu-Tempane

Two bridges in the Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions have collapsed, disrupting socio-economic activities in the affected areas.

They are a wooden bridge over the Tano River at Nobekaw, which links the Asunafo South District and the Asutifi South District in the Brong-Ahafo Region, and the Tambe bridge that links the Garu-Tempane District to the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region.

From Sunyani Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that three students of the Nobekaw Junior High School (JHS) escaped death narrowly when the Tano bridge in the area collapsed last Wednesday.

Fortunately, two of the three students who were crossing the bridge when the incident occurred managed to swim out of the river and saved their mate who did not know how to swim.

The students, Abass Seidu, 16, Ebenezer Ochere, 16 and Enoch Antwi, 15, were returning from Nobekaw in the Asunafo South District where they attend school to Kwakunyuma, near Mehame in the Asutifi South District.

Bad state

Residents of the area have been using the bridge, which has been in a deplorable state for so many years now, but the situation worsened last month when the area experienced series of torrential rains leading to the overflow of the river.

More than eight communities in the area have been using the wooden bridge.

Kwakunyunma and its surrounding communities have been hit hardest because of the absence of social amenities in the area.


The collapse of the bridge has halted socio-economic activities at Kwakunyuma and Nobekaw, including the surrounding villages. This is because residents of the two districts cross the river daily to transact businesses.

Teachers and students, who have been crossing the bridge to school, have since July 12, 2017 not been able to go to school.

The residents, who are mostly subsistence farmers, cannot transport their produce for sale in the major markets outside the area, while it has become very difficult to access health care in an emergency situation.

Means of transport

As a temporary measure, a-23-year old farmer, Mr Solomon Ozoro, has acquired a canoe to ferry people across the river at a cost of GH5.00 per person.

Call for help

After visiting the area to assess the situation, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asutifi South, Mr Robert Dwomoh Mensah, called on the central government to assist the assembly to construct a proper bridge to replace the collapsed one.

He pleaded with the Ministry of Roads and Highways to consider the plight of the people and add the district to the list of beneficiaries of the bridges to be constructed under an agreement between Ghana and China, which was signed when the Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, visited China recently.

Tambe Bridge

In another development, Vincent Amenuveve reports from Bolgatanga that the Tambe bridge collapsed last Thursday, making it difficult for trucks, mostly loaded with cereals, to cross from Garu-Tempane District to the southern sector.

The development has compelled residents to find cumbersome alternative routes to get to Bawku.

The District Chief Executive for Garu-Tempane, Mr Emmanuel Avoka, told the Daily Graphic that the collapse of the bridge was due to lack of routine maintenance since it was constructed in 2007.

He observed that owing to the ongoing construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam in the district, about 30 heavy duty trucks plied the bridge several times within a day, thus putting a lot of pressure on the bridge.

Mr Avoka was, however, of the view that if routine maintenance works had been carried out on the bridge, the situation could have been prevented.

Reports, he said, indicated that some individuals had been going there at night to loosen some of the bolts and nuts holding the bridge.

“Looking at the level of collapse of this bridge,it will require a high-level technical expertise to fix it,” he noted.

He further disclosed that he had informed the regional minister, Mr Rockson Bukari, and the Member of Parliament for the area about the situation and hopefully this week something would be done about it.


Mr Avoka further stated that owing to the collapse of the bridge, residents and other commuters from the area now spent about three hours to get to Bawku whereas when the bridge was functional, they used only 20 minutes to make the journey

He indicated that commuters now passed through Garu-Tempane to Gagbiri through Bugri and then to Bawku.

The DCE was also of the view that the construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam, although a step in the right direction, had eventually blocked water from flowing freely hence putting extra pressure on other smaller bridges built over smaller rivers which might collapse as more rains set in.

Meanwhile, residents have made an urgent appeal to the authorities to fix the bridge quickly to facilitate the free movement of goods and services.

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Bridges at Nobekaw, Garu-Tempane collapse; movement of people and goods affected – GhanaWeb

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A Hidden Treasure Amid Many Chessed Organizations in Jerusalem – Yeshiva World News

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Sara, a 4-year-old child with Down Syndrome and the youngest in her family of ten, jumps into the dentists chair when accompanied by her oldest sister Galit. Beginning dental treatments at a young age will get her off to a good start and keep her smiling. Eden, on the other hand, is 21 and will never be caught smiling she is missing her two front teeth as a result of violent abuse at the hands of her mother. Then there is Naftali, the fourth out of 8 children in his family. Despite the fact that both his parents work hard, they are having trouble supporting the family.

By the time he arrived at DVI (Dental Volunteers Israel) he needed a root canal, fillings and a pulpectomy. And lets not forget the Refaeli family, victims of the Versailles Wedding hall collapse in 2001, who fell into financial difficulty when the mother was injured and unable to return to work and the father, after many surgeries got back on his feet only to be tragically killed by an exposed wire while leading his family into a bomb shelter. These are some of the patients of DVI the only 100% free dental clinic in Israel which serves Jerusalem residents aged 4-26. For chareidi families who have been blessed with many children as well as and many others, even the minimal co-pays required at the government clinics make dental care and oral hygiene services unaffordable. Youth from lower socio-economic backgrounds are particularly prone to dental disease and in fact, 80 percent of all caries occur in just 25 percent of kids. With a social workers referral, these individuals will receive top quality dental care from specialists from around the world who donate their time and expertise to the DVI clinic.

DVI- Dental Volunteers for Israel is a non-profit organization established in 1980 by Trudi Birger, a Holocaust survivor, who vowed to ease the suffering of others if she were to survive. Based on her ethic of giving to those in need as if they were a member of your own family, the DVI dentists and staff do much more than dental work they encourage youth to maximize their potential; they treat them with respect; they go the extra mile and often times provide patients with coats and schools supplies when seeing that just how poorly off they are. One of our dentists once asked his patient what he wanted to do when he grew up and the young man responded, No one ever asked me that before. Maybe I will become a dentist! Ten years later, he is one of our favorite local dental volunteers and he credits DVI with helping him succeed in life!

Annually, DVI treats approximately 3000 patients aged 4-26, representing over 11,000 individual treatments, and last year added the Free Dentures Program for Holocaust survivors and elderly in need. Over 130 dentists from around the world volunteer their services in addition to some of the local Israeli dentists who also volunteer their time.

DVI also serves as a teaching clinic for future pediatric dentists under the supervision of its clinical director Dr. Roy Petel who is a clinical instructor at the Hadassah School of Dental Medicine and a member of the Israeli Board of Examiners in Pediatric Dentistry.

Note: Families and patients have agreed to have their names used and displayed to assist the clinics efforts.

(YWN Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: DVI)

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Osun 2018: I have the blueprint to take Osun out of economic doldrum PDP guber aspirant – NIGERIAN TRIBUNE (press release) (blog)

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Osun 2018: I have the blueprint to take Osun out of economic doldrum PDP guber aspirant

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant in Osun, Senator Segun Bamigbetan-Baju on Sunday hinted that he had developed a detailed blueprint to take the state out of the current economic disaster.

He maintained that with the present socio-economic malaise, bedeviling the state, only a thorough and strong economic policy can save Osun from becoming a failed state.

Senator Segun Bamigbetan Baju, who made this known in a personally signed press statement made available to the Nigerian Tribune in Osogbo, Osun State capital said part of the measures to explored if elected to power include the effective building of virile and steady local economy that will drive the machinery of government and bring succour to the people.

He contended that the seeming collapse of the local economy across the 33 local councils as a result of lack of financial autonomy for third tier of government had stifled social and healthy economic growth, which would have had multiplying positive impacts on the state economy and empowerment of the people.

While promising to create an interactive engagement with all the critical stakeholders to brainstorm on the solutions to myriads of problems, confronting all the strata in the society, Bamigbetan-Baju said inputs of technocrats and other professional expertise were germane to set Osun on the path of greatness.

The politician who was in the National Assembly in the aborted third Republic said the time had come to relieve the pains and suffering of the people of Osun State.

Senator Bamigbetan Baju, however, congratulated PDP and the Senator Ademola Adeleke for electoral the feat accomplished in the July 8, 2017 Osun West Senatorial by-election.

He advised the federal government to curb insecurity and implement policies that will attract investors so that the nations economy can exit recession.

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Osun 2018: I have the blueprint to take Osun out of economic doldrum PDP guber aspirant – NIGERIAN TRIBUNE (press release) (blog)

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Cultural factors at work in social inequality in HE – University World … – University World News

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Andrs Santos Sharpe, an inquisitive and friendly doctoral candidate at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, has dedicated his fledgling career to listening to the life stories of students who drop out of the institution.

If his immediate goal is to earn his PhD, his greater wish is for universities to better serve society, especially students at risk of falling through the cracks. He describes himself as part of a tradition that links critical thinking with collective action and with a deep impatience with the status quo.

Santos Sharpe also is part of a new generation of researchers grappling with the latest iteration of an age-old problem: Social inequality, and what higher education might do to lessen it.

Right now, the academy seems more like part of the problem than the solution. Even as participation in higher education is rapidly expanding globally, the increasing stratification of both institutions and societies worldwide challenges the often-made claim that a college education is a sure path to upward mobility.

Figuring out how to crack that conundrum is what drew Santos Sharpe and 21 other emerging scholars mostly graduate students at various stages of their dissertation research to a week-long summer school in St Petersburg, Russia. As a doctoral candidate interested in understanding the influence of US higher education in a global context, I was one of them.

Over five days in June and under the tutelage of a faculty of international repute, we shared our work, discussed how to make it better, and explored how it might inform larger public policy debates.

Like Santos Sharpe, many of those of us who gathered in St Petersburg seek to improve the prospects of marginalised populations, be they Native Americans in the United States, indigenous students in Latin America or Austrians who are the first in their families to go to college.

One of us is looking at access to higher education for Roma students in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Another has found a pattern in which, over and over, working-class students in the United Kingdom blame themselves specifically, their laziness for failing to land an internship. Wealthier classmates, meanwhile, turn to family connections.

Other presenters focused on the social, political, cultural and economic contexts of their homelands and the role they play in enabling inequity. Presentations looking at reform policies in Azerbaijan, Peru and Chile, for example, touched on issues such as corruption in admissions and political crisis as catalyst for change. My focus is on how inequalities might present themselves in cross-cultural collaboration.

People come with different agendas but we still have a common theme, says Po Yang, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at Peking University in China, who led a seminar on quantitative approaches to analysis. Were trying to debate at the very abstract level how you operationalise this idea of social inequality.

Summer school in its fifth year

This was the fifth year of the summer school, hosted by the Institute of Education at the Moscow-based National Research University Higher School of Economics, or HSE, and offered in collaboration with the China Institute for Educational Finance Research at Peking University. Our venue was HSE’s stately campus in the town of Pushkin, a short walk to the country residence of Catherine I of Russia.

Through a series of seminars, group projects and critiques, the summer school objective is to create a space where everyone can learn, get new ideas and also feel supported academically and personally, says Anna Smolentseva, senior researcher at the Institute of Education.

Examples past and present reminded us of the many guises in which inequality exists, as well as the limits of higher education’s ability to tame a societal problem.

Chirakkal Madhavan Malish, one of the few participants among us who has achieved the title of doctor, brought that home in his presentation on a research project exploring the effects of admission quotas in India.

While university enrolments of disadvantaged students soared, beneficiaries of the policy reported discrimination on campus in other shapes and sizes, including ethnic jokes and neglect by their instructors.

The increased student diversity is seen by institutional leaders and faculty there as the root cause of deteriorating academic standards and quality, said Malish, an assistant professor at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration in New Delhi.

Similarly, the former Soviet Union in the 1930s combined class- and ethnicity-based quotas to create a more diverse meritocracy in its universities but only up to a point, Isak Froumin, academic supervisor at HSE’s Institute of Education, told us. And upon the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, institutions abandoned such policies altogether, ushering in what Froumin called a triumph of inequality.

A 2011 report by the institute pointed out the growing inequality in Russian education, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 to initiate a programme aimed at equalising education opportunities.

Affirmative action

Katharina Posch, a graduate student looking at the socio-economic composition of students in Austrian universities, called Froumin’s presentation one of her “aha” moments.

“Affirmative action policies do work if executed strictly and aggressively, says Posch, a teaching and research associate at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. But [Froumin] also showed what is behind it and what further consequences there might be. What happens to the field of higher education? What happens to overall social inequality?

Many of us were struck by the power of cultural factors mentioned by Jussi Vlimaa, of the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyvskyl. Nordic countries, including their universities, are among the most equitable in the world, he told us, and a big reason is trust.

Such an antidote, with all of its nuance, would inform our thinking through the end of the week, when we worked in teams to come up with strategies to reduce social inequality in higher education. Alas, “We can’t all be Finland”, became a rallying cry for one group.

Whether we come up with more useful answers over the course of our lives remains to be seen. If the first step toward change is commitment to social equality, the discussion at the summer school offered hope. Hope, and bit of new data.

Some have passionate concerns, some see it as part of their life story, says faculty member Professor Simon Marginson, director of the Centre for Global Higher Education at University College London in the United Kingdom.

Still, the “clear message” of many papers is that the solutions to social inequity in higher education neither start nor end at the university door, he adds.

“Participants looked beyond the higher education sector to rethink its relationship with society and economy, which is where the motors of inequality are found.”

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