People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 27, 2009

on file


DESPITE the US economy showing indications of recovery, the global job market remains gloomy, with companies laying off at least 27 employees every hour to cut costs.

With companies continuing to reduce their headcount in their efforts to tackle the downturn, around 13,000 jobs have been slashed so far in September by some of the leading global firms most of them headquartered in the USA. Job losses of about 12,900 have been witnessed in just 20 days of this month, translating into an average of 645 people being laid off per day. In turn, the toll comes to at least 27 people losing jobs per hour.

 The lay-offs are happening across almost all the sectors from pharma to software to refinery, among others. Most of the job cuts happened in the United States, which has already seen a staggering 5,50,000 Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the first week of September.


--- The Statesman, September 21


Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) do not just rely on scientific calculations before a rocket launch � they also seek divine help. Prior to every launch, the scientists make a visit to Tirupathi to have a darshan of Lord Balaji seeking his blessings by placing a replica of the rocket to be launched.

It seems the superstition extends to numbers as well. After the 12th commercial launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle termed PSLV-C12 from the spaceport here, Indian Space Research Organisation has jumped one number and called its next rocket, that launched Oceansat-2 and six European nano satellites, as PSVL-C14. Queried about the fate of PSLV-C13, a high ranking Isro official said: "There is no such rocket designated with that number." He declined to comment when queried whether Indian Space Research Organisation considered 13 an unlucky number.

--- The Asian Age, September 24


FIRST the good news --- 10,000 fewer children are now dying every day before reaching their fifth birthday compared to 1990. The bad news --- India alone accounts for 21 per cent of the under-five mortality of the globe.

In fact, half of the deaths occurred in India, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan and China. Interestingly, among them, India and Nigeria together accounted for nearly one-third of the total number of under-five deaths worldwide (21 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively).

According to a new UNICEF study, published in Lancet on Friday (September 11), there has been a 28 per cent decline in the under-five mortality rate since 1990. In absolute numbers, this means that under-five child deaths in 2008 declined to 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990.

Nineteen years ago, 90 children per 1,000 live births died before their fifth birthday. This stands at 65 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008. UNICEF executive director Ann M Veneman said, �While progress is being made, it is unacceptable that each year 8.8 million children die before their fifth birthday�..

These new estimates calculated by UNICEF, WHO, World Bank and United Nations Population Division pointed to another interesting fact that under-five mortality is increasingly getting concentrated with 75 per cent of these deaths occurring in only 18 countries, including India. Around 40 per cent of the 8.8 million children who die globally every year are from India, Nigeria and Congo.

--- The Times of India, September 12


OF the 12 occasions on which the Union Cabinet has met since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) returned to power, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee has attended just five.

In choosing to absent herself from the latest meeting of the country�s highest executive decision making body on September 10, Banerjee not only worsened her attendance record further, but also ensured that her ministry�s proposal seeking a Rs 17,700 crore Japanese loan to fund Indian Railways flagship project --- the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, could not be taken up. �..

But for the fact that the Cabinet did not meet thrice --- on July 9, 16 and 30 --- Banerjee�s attendance record would have been much poorer.

While her spending more time in Kolkata than in Delhi is one of the main reasons behind her poor attendance in the Cabinet, there has been at least one instance, on August 6, when she did not attend the Cabinet meeting despite being in Delhi��

As Didi continues to spend more and more time in her home state, important files have been piling up in her Rail Bhavan office. Many key decisions, sources said, have been pending simply because the minister has remained unavailable for discussion and consultation��

Several other key decisions, for instance, the final call on the alignment to be followed to construct the Kashmir rail line or a decision on the fate of two locomotive manufacturing units in Bihar, have also been hanging fire for weeks now.

--- The Indian Express, September 13


FOR the past year, as the economic crisis convulsed much of the world, India wobbled but never tumbled over. And now that the world is starting to pull itself out of the mire, India seems poised to resume its rapid economic expansion. Government officials are projecting that growth will reach or surpass 6 per cent this year, almost the pace that established India as an emerging global economic power second only to China.

But the cautious optimism about the broader economy has been tempered by a historic summertime drought that has underscored the fact that many people are largely untouched by the country�s progress. India�s new economy may be based on software, services and high technology, but hundreds of millions of Indians still look to the sky for their livelihoods; more than half the country�s 1.1 billion people depend on agriculture for a living even though agriculture represents only about 17 per cent of the total economy.

No one thinks India is facing the type of famines that struck it decades ago; government grain stocks can replenish any shortfalls. But the drought has focussed attention, again, on the problems facing Indian agriculture as the population continues to expand at the same time that water resources come under greater pressure.     

--- The Asian Age, September 12


US job losses fell to their lowest level in a year last month, but the unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high, painting a mixed picture of an economic recovery hindered by weakness in the labour market.

The Labour Department said on Friday (September 4) the jobless rate climbed to 9.7 per cent in August, the highest since June 1983. The bigger than expected rise suggested weak consumer spending would impeded recovery from the worst slump in seven decades.

Employers cut 216,000 jobs, the smallest since August 2008, but the department revised upward the June and July job losses by 49,000�..

Analysts had expected non-farm employers to cut 225,000 workers from their payrolls in August and had looked from the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5 per cent after dipping to 9.4 per cent in July�..  

A Reuters survey showed most big banks that do business directly with the Federal Reserve expect the jobless rate to peak by the first quarter of 2010�.

--- The Economic Times, September 6