1 For workers, hard year of slog in 2013 (The Guardian) Workers can expect longer hours, a continued squeeze on pay and fewer jobs being created in a “hard year of slog” in 2013, a report has warned. Job insecurity will remain high, with workers maintaining a “grin and bear it” attitude, said John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist.
Unemployment is forecast to increase by 120,000 to 2.63 million in 2013 because growth in the workforce will exceed the number of jobs being created, Philpott said. Youth unemployment is forecast to fall below 900,000, while long-term unemployment will remain broadly the same, the report said. Pay deals will continue to be affected by unemployment, with pay increases lagging behind inflation, leading to wage cuts for workers.
Philpott said he expected only limited support from workers in private firms for union opposition to public sector cuts. “Workplace disgruntlement in the private sector will instead take the form of simmering distrust of bosses, especially those who adopt the trendy management speak mantra of ’employee engagement’ while piling the pressure on overstretched staff,” he said.
2 China orders – Visit your parents (Johannesburg Times) Visit your parents. That’s an order. So says China, whose national legislature on Friday amended its law on the elderly to require that adult children visit their aged parents “often” – or risk being sued by them. The amendment does not specify how frequently such visits should occur. State media say the new clause will allow elderly parents who feel neglected by their children to take them to court.
A rapidly developing China is facing increasing difficulty in caring for its aging population. Three decades of market reforms have accelerated the breakup of the traditional extended family in China, and there are few affordable alternatives, such as retirement or care homes, for the elderly or others unable to live on their own.
3 India: Another day, another rape (Khaleej Times) After India recently witnessed one of its most horrific rape cases, the hitherto apathetic public decided not to let the incident slip as just another sexual crime in a sprawling metrapolis. Despite the freezing cold, Indians battled batons and water cannons in recent weeks to pressurise their leaders to guarantee safety for women in Delhi. Overtly, their tactics seemed to have worked; major figures of the ruling Congress party — Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde — have assured that the authorities are keen to improve security in metropolitan areas to prevent such heinous crimes.
But it seems like the government is failing to honour its lofty promises. In another disturbing incident, the Delhi police reported the case of a 42-year-old woman who was kidnapped, drugged and gang raped in a car by three men from Uttar Pradesh, before being dumped in southeast Delhi.
And this is not it. A 17-year-old girl, who was abducted from Patiala, Punjab, drugged and then repeatedly raped, subsequently committed suicide after the police pressured her to drop her case and marry one of her attackers. This time around, it’s clear that the authorities will not have it easy. The government will have to do more than just make tall claims and earnest vows to appease India’s agitated masses. They want better security for women, and they won’t stop their strident chants till they get it.
4 How much more can India take? (Paul Beckett in The Wall Street Journal) It was an act against a young person that, even by the grisly standards of the daily crime pages, was so horrendous that people were outraged. This was the story of “Baby Falak,” the two-year-old girl whose plight gripped the nation earlier this year as she battled for life then succumbed to her injuries. The victim of a gruesome sexual assault on a bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16, who died early Saturday, was 21 years older than Falak. But their stories, the public confrontation they unwittingly prompted, and the grief that they generated in their passing have much in common. And both incidents, happening in the nation’s capital within 12 months of each other, beg the question: What will it take to change?
In both cases, the public felt a deep connection to the victim. They monitored, via the breathless coverage of 24-hour television news channels parked outside the hospital, their medical roller-coaster. For a while, in both cases, doctors sounded cautiously optimistic about a recovery. Falak was dubbed “India’s Baby.” The young woman became “India’s Daughter.” As they struggled to live, their plights attracted attention worldwide.
It will not be enough simply to yell at the political class and the guardians of our collective safety then throw up our hands in disgust. Rather, it will take massive – yes, massive – reforms. Of the police , in terms of the number of officers on the street, the training that those officers have, and whatever incentive — positive or negative — that they need to take crimes against women seriously. Of the legal system, so that when another rape occurs, the public is confident that the wheels of justice will move swiftly and effectively. Of the political class, which needs to respond faster and less defensively while, judging by the standards of the president’s son, engage in a wholesale change of attitude toward those who would criticize them.
Of India’s chauvinistic men, many of whom clearly see women as inferior and see no issue, therefore, in abusing them without fear of consequence. All that will take engagement at a time when the overwhelming temptation for many will be to fume on Twitter then mentally withdraw. Politicians must engage, too. And, if they don’t, they must be punished in the only way that they appear to understand: Removal at the ballot box, where voters have a recurring chance to prove that they don’t forget.