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Africa's lost languages: How English can fuel an identity crisis From “BBC News – World”



The far-reaching repercussions of African students forgetting their mother tongues.







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China dismisses Western media claim that nation faces ‘demographic crisis’ — RT World News From “RT World News”



The Chinese Foreign Ministry has hit out at claims by Western media that the country’s latest census results are a sign that China is a nation in decline, both economically and in terms of its population size.

“I wonder if they have noticed that China’s population of 1.418 million is still more than the total population of the United States and Europe combined? I don’t know how those media reporters became demographic experts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told the media on Wednesday. Hua highlighted that at almost every key stage of China’s development, the West has made various judgments and predictions about China and most of them have proven to be incorrect.“We all know about the ‘China threat theory’ or ‘China collapse theory’, but as the country continues to develop, all these arguments have been defeated by facts, one by one,” she stated.The spokeswoman also noted that, during the past 10 years, the growth rate of the US population has dropped to the lowest level in nearly a century. “Declining birth rates and aging populations are common problems faced by developed countries,” she added. 

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Size matters in geopolitics, so the West is excited China’s population growth is ending. But here’s how Beijing will solve it

Reports in the Western media about China’s impending population decline and uncertain economic future came after Beijing published new census data on Tuesday.China’s census showed that, in the past decade, the population of mainland China increased 5.38% to 1.41 billion but is widely expected to decline in the coming years. The average growth rate of 0.53% is the slowest since the 1950s. Hua said that while population growth was slowing, it did not spell economic disaster for China, like the Western media had forecast. “The quality of China’s population has steadily improved, the education level of the population has increased significantly, and the population structure has changed,” she noted, adding that population growth rates were highest in ethnic minority groups, demonstrating China’s fair and positive society.If you like this story, share it with a friend!







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How English can fuel an identity crisis From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



Woman surrounded by speech bubblesSome children who have grown up in Africa being forced to speak English are facing an identity crisis.Khahliso Amahle Myataza’s family is from the South African township of Soweto in Johannesburg where they spoke Sotho, Xhosa and Zulu.She would switch languages depending on who she was talking to.But when Khahliso started primary school her family moved to a predominantly white neighbourhood of the city.”I was severely bullied for not knowing how to speak English properly, for not knowing how to pronounce certain words,” she told the BBC.”To learn English I immersed myself with white kids. I didn’t want to associate myself with the black kids any more. It was really difficult””, Source: Khahliso Amahle Myataza, Source description: South African student, Image: Khahliso Amahle MyatazaThere were other black children in a similar predicament but they didn’t make friends with each other – not wanting to be associated with others who did not speak English.”To learn English I immersed myself with white kids. I didn’t want to associate myself with the black kids any more. It was really difficult.”The 17-year-old’s fluency has come with the realisation of how, not only being able to speak English, but to speak it in a certain way – can open and close doors in South Africa.”When I go to a restaurant with my mum, and they hear her speaking Xhosa or Sotho, they will automatically assume we’re not really here to buy expensive food.”Then when they hear me or my brothers speak English, especially my brother, then we see people jumping.”‘Pidgin banned’For the parents of 22-year-old Nigerian Amaka, who asked us not to use her real name, this too must have been apparent.When she was growing up in Lagos, English was the only language she was allowed to speak.Her Igbo parents took her English language skills seriously and as a young girl she attended an etiquette class where diction was a key component of the lesson.Some Nigerian schools are based on the British modelThey also frowned on her using Pidgin, which is widely spoken in Nigeria as a lingua franca.”I was watching a movie on TV and they said something in Pidgin English. And I kind of responded… and I got in trouble,” she told the BBC.Story continuesTheir attitude was: “English is the only proper language”.This was so engrained that Amaka says the fact that she could not speak Igbo did not bother her initially.”I was very kind of proud of myself in being able to speak English language the way I can.”But when she was about 15, she met her paternal grandmother for the first time – and they could not communicate or connect at all.”That was the first time I realised that: ‘OK – this is an actual problem. This is a barrier.'”‘Am I really black?’And Khahliso says her relationship with her mother tongues has changed as she is now less proficient in languages like Sotho and Xhosa.She’s unable to hold a conversation without turning to English words – an experience she describes as being “colonised by English”.Khahliso believes her situation – and that of Amaka – are not unusual.”A lot of black children in the middle-income class are facing that identity crisis of: ‘I can’t speak my native language.'”I forced myself to unlearn it. Am I really black if I do not know how to speak my vernacular? Am I really black if I don’t know how to say: ‘I love you’ to my mum, in Sotho or in Xhosa, or in Zulu, or in Tonga?” The Comb podcast:Combing Africa for stories that bind us together and tear us apart. A single story, every week.Amaka is working to overcome her identity crisis by taking Igbo lessons and immersing herself in Igbo culture through films and music.”Language gives you a sense of community,” she says.”It makes you see the world in a different light, it makes you feel like you are a part of something, something greater than yourself, something that has been there for generations, and will continue to be there for generations”.Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has spoken about a linguistic famine in African societies – which he says is the result of prizing foreign languages over native languages.Despite an estimated 2,000 languages being spoken across the continent there is still a tendency to see English and French – the languages of the countries which colonised most of Africa – as those needed to succeed and as a result some choose to abandon their mother tongue.’Only smart kids speak English’In Ghana, which like South Africa and Nigeria was colonised by the British, this attitude is prevalent, says Ronald – a secondary school teacher in a rural area who also asked us not to use his real name.”There is this stereotype that the smarter kids are the ones that speak English. Even parents that never went to school try to force it on their children to also be fluent in English.”I know quite a number of people that have never travelled beyond the borders of Ghana, but they can’t speak any language besides English.”But he feels some students would perform better if some of the textbooks and the language of instruction was in their mother tongue – and that this would stop children dropping out of school.English is at the core of the Ghanaian school curriculum”If I ask them a question, some of them would tell me: ‘Sir, I know the answer, but I don’t know how to say it in English.'”Everyone is just trying to force them to speak this white man’s language and… some of the students then say: ‘It’s just not for me. It’s for the “smart” ones.'”Khahliso says if she could go back in time, she would approach language learning differently.”I would allow these languages to co-exist and to exist in one space – because they can co-exist. My sister and my friend are proof of that.”To assimilate I don’t think that I needed to throw away my languages and to completely stop speaking Xhosa and Sotho.”More from The Comb:







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UN human rights chief: Crisis in Gaza, Israel "has deteriorated at an alarming rate" From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



UN human rights chief: Crisis in Gaza, Israel "has deteriorated at an alarming rate"







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US climate envoy Kerry meets with pope on climate crisis From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



VATICAN CITY (AP) — John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, met privately with Pope Francis on Saturday, afterward calling the pope a “compelling moral authority on the subject of the climate crisis” who has been “ahead of the curve.”The former U.S. Secretary of State told Vatican News that the pope’s embrace of climate issues “hopefully can push people to greater ambition to get the job done.”Kerry is visiting European capitals to strengthen cooperation on climate change ahead of the next round of U.N. climate talks in Glasgow this November.Kerry said United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, must take a lead in cutting emissions and be joined by other big emitting countries.“Everybody shares an obligation here. No one country can get this job done. If the United States was at zero emissions tomorrow, we’d still have crisis,” Kerry said.The United States, which is responsible for 11% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, has set a target under Biden of reducing emissions over the next decade by 50% to 52%, Kerry said.Another 20 developed countries are responsible for 73.75% of emissions, he added.“We need other big emitting countries to step up and also offer some reductions. You can’t just keep going along with a coal-fired power plant or with more coal coming online and really be the part of the solution that we need,’’ Kerry said.___Follow all AP stories on climate change at https://apnews.com/hub/climate.







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Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border From “World News Headlines, Latest International News, World Breaking News – Times of India”



The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week. AP PhotoPORTLAND: The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the US Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead. The entire region is in extreme or exceptional drought, according to federal monitoring reports, and Oregon’s Klamath County is experiencing its driest year in 127 years. “This year’s drought conditions are bringing unprecedented hardship to the communities of the Klamath Basin,” said Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, calling the decision one of “historic consequence.” “Reclamation is dedicated to working with our water users, tribes and partners to get through this difficult year and developing long-term solutions for the basin.” The canal, a major component of the federally operated Klamath Reclamation Project, funnels Klamath River water from the Upper Klamath Lake just north of the Oregon-California border to more than 130,000 acres (52,600 hectares), where generations of ranchers and farmers have grown hay, alfalfa and potatoes and grazed cattle. Only one irrigation district within the 200,000-acre (80,940-hectare) project will receive any water from the Klamath River system this growing season, and it will have a severely limited supply, the Klamath Water Users Association said in a statement. Some other farmers rely on water from a different river, and they will also have a limited supply. “This just couldn’t be worse,” said Klamath Irrigation District president Ty Kliewer. “The impacts to our family farms and these rural communities will be off the scale.” At the same time, the agency said it would not release any so-called “flushing flows” from the same dam on the Upper Klamath Lake to bolster water levels downstream in the lower Klamath River. The river is key to the survival of coho salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In better water years the pulses of water help keep the river cool and turbulent – conditions that help the fragile species. The fish are central to the diet and culture of the Yurok Tribe, California’s largest federally recognized tribe. The tribe said this week that low flows from drought and from previous mismanagement of the river by the federal agency was causing a die-off of juvenile salmon from a bacterial disease that flourishes when water levels are low. Yurok fish biologists who have been testing the baby salmon in the lower Klamath River are finding that 70% of the fish are already dead in the traps used to collect them and 97% are infected by the bacteria known as C. shasta. “Right now, the Klamath River is full of dead and dying fish on the Yurok Reservation,” said Frankie Myers, vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This disease will kill most of the baby salmon in the Klamath, which will impact fish runs for many years to come. For salmon people, a juvenile fish kill is an absolute worst-case scenario.” Irrigators, meanwhile, reacted with disbelief as the news of a water shut-off in the canals spread. A newsletter published by the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents many of the region’s farmers, blared the headline, “Worst Day in the History of the Klamath Project.” Farmers reported already seeing dust storms that obscured vision for 100 yards (91 meters), and they worried about their wells running dry. About 30 protesters showed up Thursday at the head gates of the main dam to protest the shut-off and ask the irrigation district to defy federal orders and divert the water. The Herald and News reported that they were with a group called People’s Rights, a far-right organization founded by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have declared drought emergencies in the region, and the Bureau of Reclamation has set aside $15 million in immediate aid for irrigators. Another $10 million will be available for drought assistance from the US Department of Agriculture. Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, urged his members to remain peaceful and not let the water crisis “be hijacked for other causes.” The seasonal allocations are the region’s most dramatic development since irrigation water was all but cut off to hundreds of farmers in 2001 amid another severe drought – the first time farmers’ interests took a backseat to fish and tribes. The crisis made the rural farming region hundreds of miles from any major city a national political flashpoint and became a touchstone for Republicans who used the crisis to take aim at the Endangered Species Act, with one GOP lawmaker calling the irrigation shutoff a “poster child” for why changes were needed. A “bucket brigade” protest attracted 15,000 people who scooped water from the Klamath River and passed it, hand over hand, to a parched irrigation canal. The situation in the Klamath Basin was set in motion more than a century ago, when the U.S. government began draining a network of shallow lakes and marshlands, redirecting the natural flow of water and constructing hundreds of miles of canals and drainage channels to create farmland. Homesteads were offered by lottery to World War II veterans. The project turned the region into an agricultural powerhouse – some of its potato farmers supply In ‘N Out burger – but permanently altered an intricate water system that spans hundreds of miles and from southern Oregon to Northern California. In 1988, two species of sucker fish were listed as endangered under federal law. Less than a decade later, coho salmon that spawn downstream from the reclamation project, in the lower Klamath River, were listed as threatened. The water necessary to sustain the coho salmon downstream comes from Upper Klamath Lake – the main holding tank for the farmers’ irrigation system. At the same time, the sucker fish in the lake need at least 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) of water covering the gravel beds they use as spawning grounds. The drought also means farmers this summer will not flush irrigation water into a network of six national wildlife refuges that are collectively called the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuges, nicknamed the Everglades of the West, support up to 80% of the birds that migrate on the Pacific Flyway. The refuges also support the largest concentrations of wintering Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail







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India’s coronavirus crisis spreads to its villages, where health care is hard to find From “World”




Rural areas, where over 65 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people live, had been spared in the first wave of the pandemic but are now facing devastating numbers of infections.







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Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year.In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. The agency announced last month that hundreds of irrigators would get dramatically less water than usual, but a worsening drought picture means water will be completely shut off instead.The entire region is in extreme or exceptional drought, according to federal monitoring reports, and Oregon’s Klamath County is experiencing its driest year in 127 years.“This year’s drought conditions are bringing unprecedented hardship to the communities of the Klamath Basin,” said Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, calling the decision one of “historic consequence.” “Reclamation is dedicated to working with our water users, tribes and partners to get through this difficult year and developing long-term solutions for the basin.”The canal, a major component of the federally operated Klamath Reclamation Project, funnels Klamath River water from the Upper Klamath Lake just north of the Oregon-California border to more than 130,000 acres (52,600 hectares), where generations of ranchers and farmers have grown hay, alfalfa and potatoes and grazed cattle.Only one irrigation district within the 200,000-acre (80,940-hectare) project will receive any water from the Klamath River system this growing season, and it will have a severely limited supply, the Klamath Water Users Association said in a statement. Some other farmers rely on water from a different river, and they will also have a limited supply.Story continues“This just couldn’t be worse,” said Klamath Irrigation District president Ty Kliewer. “The impacts to our family farms and these rural communities will be off the scale.”At the same time, the agency said it would not release any so-called “flushing flows” from the same dam on the Upper Klamath Lake to bolster water levels downstream in the lower Klamath River. The river is key to the survival of coho salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In better water years the pulses of water help keep the river cool and turbulent — conditions that help the fragile species. The fish are central to the diet and culture of the Yurok Tribe, California’s largest federally recognized tribe.The tribe said this week that low flows from drought and from previous mismanagement of the river by the federal agency was causing a die-off of juvenile salmon from a bacterial disease that flourishes when water levels are low. Yurok fish biologists who have been testing the baby salmon in the lower Klamath River are finding that 70% of the fish are already dead in the traps used to collect them and 97% are infected by the bacteria known as C. shasta.“Right now, the Klamath River is full of dead and dying fish on the Yurok Reservation,” said Frankie Myers, vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “This disease will kill most of the baby salmon in the Klamath, which will impact fish runs for many years to come. For salmon people, a juvenile fish kill is an absolute worst-case scenario.”Irrigators, meanwhile, reacted with disbelief as the news of a water shut-off in the canals spread. A newsletter published by the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents many of the region’s farmers, blared the headline, “Worst Day in the History of the Klamath Project.” Farmers reported already seeing dust storms that obscured vision for 100 yards (91 meters), and they worried about their wells running dry.About 30 protesters showed up Thursday at the head gates of the main dam to protest the shut-off and ask the irrigation district to defy federal orders and divert the water. The Herald and News reported that they were with a group called People’s Rights, a far-right organization founded by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy.Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have declared drought emergencies in the region, and the Bureau of Reclamation has set aside $15 million in immediate aid for irrigators. Another $10 million will be available for drought assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Association, urged his members to remain peaceful and not let the water crisis “be hijacked for other causes.”The seasonal allocations are the region’s most dramatic development since irrigation water was all but cut off to hundreds of farmers in 2001 amid another severe drought — the first time farmers’ interests took a backseat to fish and tribes.The crisis made the rural farming region hundreds of miles from any major city a national political flashpoint and became a touchstone for Republicans who used the crisis to take aim at the Endangered Species Act, with one GOP lawmaker calling the irrigation shutoff a “poster child” for why changes were needed. A “bucket brigade” protest attracted 15,000 people who scooped water from the Klamath River and passed it, hand over hand, to a parched irrigation canal.The situation in the Klamath Basin was set in motion more than a century ago, when the U.S. government began draining a network of shallow lakes and marshlands, redirecting the natural flow of water and constructing hundreds of miles of canals and drainage channels to create farmland. Homesteads were offered by lottery to World War II veterans.The project turned the region into an agricultural powerhouse — some of its potato farmers supply In ’N Out burger — but permanently altered an intricate water system that spans hundreds of miles and from southern Oregon to Northern California.In 1988, two species of sucker fish were listed as endangered under federal law. Less than a decade later, coho salmon that spawn downstream from the reclamation project, in the lower Klamath River, were listed as threatened.The water necessary to sustain the coho salmon downstream comes from Upper Klamath Lake — the main holding tank for the farmers’ irrigation system. At the same time, the sucker fish in the lake need at least 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) of water covering the gravel beds they use as spawning grounds.The drought also means farmers this summer will not flush irrigation water into a network of six national wildlife refuges that are collectively called the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuges, nicknamed the Everglades of the West, support up to 80% of the birds that migrate on the Pacific Flyway. The refuges also support the largest concentrations of wintering Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states.___Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus







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UN envoy asks Thai leader’s aid in ending crisis in Myanmar From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



BANGKOK (AP) — The United Nations’ special envoy on Myanmar met with Thailand’s prime minister on Friday as she continues efforts to end violence in Myanmar sparked by a military takeover in February.The envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, told Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok that she hopes Thailand will find ways to work with Myanmar’s military to ease the unrest, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.The army’s seizure of power has been opposed by a broad cross-section of Myanmar’s population, and the junta has responded with a violent crackdown that has cost hundreds of lives. The escalation of violence and the junta’s failure to restore order has led to fears the country could become a failed state, impacting neighboring Thailand and the whole region.Prayuth told Schraner Burgener his government is ready to listen and exchange information that could be beneficial, according to the statement, which said the two also discussed humanitarian assistance for affected people, including those fleeing across the border into Thailand for safety.Prayuth, a former army commander who also came to power by ousting an elected civilian government, is perceived to have a close relationship with the head of Myanmar’s military government, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.The U.N. envoy has been based in Thailand since April. She attended a special meeting of the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Jakarta on April 24 and met with Min Aung Hlaing.Schraner Burgener has said she plans to stay in the region in the coming weeks and remain in close contact with ASEAN to support “the timely and comprehensive implementation” of its “five-point consensus” on the Myanmar crisis.It calls for the immediate cessation of violence, a dialogue among all concerned parties, mediation of the dialogue by an ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid through ASEAN channels and a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy to meet all concerned parties.Story continuesMin Aung Hlaing’s government has since indicated it will only consider the ASEAN agreement after reestablishing stability.While the junta’s use of lethal force against mass protests has reduced turnouts at peaceful rallies in Myanmar’s cities and towns, the level of civil unrest remains high. Some groups of protesters have embraced armed self-defense, often only with air guns, single-shot hunting rifles and homemade grenades and firebombs.On Thursday, the junta announced the imposition of martial law in Mindat township in the western state of Chin, which borders India. The remote area has been one of the most militant in putting up armed resistance to the security forces, who have suffered casualties in almost daily confrontations.A shadow National Unity Government established by opponents of the army’s rule announced last week that it is creating a “People’s Defense Force” to consolidate resistance to the military takeover.In addition to the protests for a restoration of democracy, there has also been an upsurge in fighting in border areas between the military and ethnic guerrilla armies that have declared their support for the pro-democracy movement. The fighting, including government air strikes, has forced tens of thousands of villagers to flee their homes in Karen state, close to the Thai border, and also seen clashes in Kachin state in the north.——Associated Press journalist Jerry Harmer contributed to this report.







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Workers turn to ‘gig economy’ jobs amid coronavirus crisis From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Tech workers in India.Frédéric Soltan | Corbis News | Getty ImagesIndia’s work culture is at an inflection point.The coronavirus pandemic is shaking up the country’s labor force, shifting the focus sharply to gig economy jobs — or on-demand, part-time work given to contract workers.The global embrace of remote work or working from home has reset expectations, employment choices and work cultures, according to industry experts who spoke to CNBC.”We believe that there will be structural shifts as part of a hybrid workforce that blends in-person employees with virtual,” said Sandip Patel, managing director of IBM India and South Asia, in an email.  “It’s a fight for skills and talent that will drive the business and talent models… and gig workers will certainly assume a strong place in the future workforce.”The workforce changes come as India battles a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 cases in the South Asian nation have spiked to daily record highs in the past month. India had 362,727 new infections over the last 24 hours with 4,120 deaths reported on Thursday.India is the world’s second worst-hit country, behind only the U.S. Health ministry data shows there are officially more than 23.7 million cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic. The death toll stands at  258,317 so far — a figure health experts have thrown doubt on as they say the true numbers are not reflected.The recent surge in cases has pushed the health-care system to the brink as hospitals run out of beds and oxygen, and morgues and crematoriums overflow. Many organizations will not go back to the same process of hiring people or even working with full-time employees, as having a pool of gig workers is more cost-effective for businesses.Navkendar Singhresearch director, IDC IndiaWhile Covid cases continue to take a human toll on India, it has also disrupted the country’s workplace.The South Asian nation has always been known for having a large pool of informal gig workers, such as contract workers on construction sites — but Covid-19 is speeding up this trend even more.”The pandemic really is accelerating the conversations around it. More companies are now open to people working remotely than before Covid,” Navkendar Singh, research director at information technology consultancy IDC India, said in a phone interview.”Many organizations will not go back to the same process of hiring people or even working with full-time employees, as having a pool of gig workers is more cost-effective for businesses,” he said, adding that such shifts in India’s workforce culture “will become permanent” with time.India’s ‘gig economy’The potential growth of the gig economy in a country like India is enormous. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has projected India’s gig economy would grow at a compounded annual rate of 17% to reach $455 billion by 2023, according to the Economic Times.A recent report jointly published by global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and non-profit organization Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, further underlined the growing trend.It predicted India’s gig economy could triple over the next 3-4 years to 24 million jobs in the non-farm sector — from the current 8 million jobs. The number of gig jobs could soar to 90 million in 8-10 years, with total transactions valued at more than $250 billion, the report said.The gig economy is also expected to contribute 1.25% to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the long term, according to the report.The pandemic has on the one hand led to large scale loss of traditional jobs across both service and manufacturing sectors. On the other hand, it has facilitated the development of a gig economy.Tulsi Jayakumarprofessor of economics, S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research”The gig economy presents an opportunity for India to drive job creation and economic growth. Technology platforms operating at scale within an ecosystem of information and services can help unlock efficiency, bring in demand-supply transparency, and drive greater formalization and financial inclusion,” said Rajah Augustinraj, principal at BCG and one of the lead authors, in the report.The increasing role of the gig economy was evident through the significant growth of online platform businesses during the pandemic-induced lockdown, said Tulsi Jayakumar, professor of economics at the S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.”The pandemic has on the one hand led to large scale loss of traditional jobs across both service and manufacturing sectors. On the other hand, it has facilitated the development of a gig economy,” she told CNBC in an email. She said the national lockdown and the associated needs of Indian customers have “resulted in the flourishing of platform businesses and the associated technology-enabled gig workforce.”Domestic challengesDespite its massive potential, India’s gig economy is still at a very nascent stage and faces many challenges.The main issue for gig workers is lack of social security benefits — how to pay for medical expenses and maintaining their livelihoods. Critics argue that there is no guaranteed minimum wage and that such workers have little legal rights to bargain collectively.Nearly 90% of Indian gig workers have lost income during the Covid-19 pandemic and are concerned about their financial future, according to a survey last year by Flourish Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.Given the problems gig workers face India needs to rethink its current labor laws to better protect them, Jayakumar from S.P. Jain pointed out.”The government would need to identify and assess existing laws and regulations that could cover the gig economy to promote its growth environment while ensuring worker protections,” she said.Let’s start making policies for them (gig workers), which make them feel that they’re part of the overall job ecosystem.Navkendar Singhresearch director, IDC IndiaDuring this year’s budget announcement, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a key measure to extend social security benefits for the country’s gig economy workers.”For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation,” Sitharaman said in her budget speech.While the move is a step in the right direction, the Indian government has to do more and create policies that allow the gig sector to flourish, said the IDC’s Singh.”Let’s start making policies for them (gig workers), which make them feel that they’re part of the overall job ecosystem. That could fuel India’s gig economy very rapidly,” he said.”I think the government will do something about it.”







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