Automation replacing workforce; fighting malnutrition; new mental health law

Are robots taking away our jobs; how can Karnataka show the way in tackling malnutrition; a psychiatrist's view on new mental health law; understanding populism: Here's what should be on your reading bucketlist this weekend

GN Bureau | May 13, 2017


#Automation   #Malnutrition   #Mental Health   #Governance   #Populism   #Weekend Stories  


At Raymond Limited’s modern textile facility in Vapi, whenever a supervisor has to check up on the looms, he doesn’t go walking around the factory floor asking the workers. He just looks at a computer screen. Looms in operation, their speed, their electricity and steam consumption, their error alarms – everything is available to him at a glance. The factory rolls out 75,000 metres of fabric daily, employing 1,100 workers. Just four years ago, a traditional weaving unit would produce no more than 18,000 metres, employing 2,600 workers.
Read: Here come the job killers!


India’s jinx in tackling this last unaddressed outpost in its growth and development story continues. Though a National Nutrition Mission was announced in 2014, no national programme has yet emerged, and this year’s budget speech makes no mention of it. Clearly, the subject appears to have got lodged on the backburner for the moment, and another opportunity seems to have been wasted, as this multi-turf subject continues to be stuck within the chakravyuha of stubborn turf protection, and without convergence or oversight. But an ongoing mission in Karnataka shows the way to overcome challenges.
Read: How to put India ‘on course’ to fight malnutrition


In March, parliament passed the Mental Health Care Bill, which among other things decriminalises suicide and bans the use of electric shocks for children. To understand the new law, we turned to psychiatrist Vikram Patel, former chairman and co-founder of the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Patel, named among the Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2015, was member of the committee that drafted India’s first mental health policy, 2014.
Read excerpts from the interview: “A mentally ill patient has the same right of freedom as any Indian”


Volunteers have helped villagers in Haryana’s Nuh district to have better access to government schemes. The initiative is worth replicating in other parts of the country.
Read: Good grassroot governance
 

The rise of populism – the revolt of common people against the elite or the ‘system’ – has been one of the broad themes of the past decade. Till 2000, populism was confined to obscure corners of the world, in Latin America and the former Soviet Block, and was largely ignored by the developed countries. The last time populism was strong across the world was in the 1930s. Over the last few years, it has re-emerged as a major force in the developed world with the rise of UKIP in UK, National Front in France and Podemos in Spain to give a few examples. Populism is symbolised by Maduro/Chavez in Venezuela, Durete in the Philippines and Erdogan in Turkey. In India, the populist wave started in 2011 with the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption movement.
Read: Populism: Its past and future
 

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