1 Why 10m jobs a year is key to China (Linda Yueh on BBC) China’s move to cut its growth target to 7% in 2015 from 7.5% last year has grabbed headlines, but the key number is the unchanged job creation target of 10 million. Premier Li Keqiang set this year’s GDP growth target at around 7%, which is the slowest in a quarter of a century. Correspondingly, the inflation target was lowered from 3.5% in 2014 to 3%.
But the targets that remained unchanged were the ones related to jobs. China is maintaining its unemployment target of 4.5% and the aim of creating 10 million jobs per year. Unlike the GDP target, this was exceeded last year when more than 13 million jobs were created despite the slowing economy.
Creating jobs for the millions of graduates each year and ensuring that the new middle class is not suffering from high unemployment are obvious goals for a system without the safety valve of an election. So, instead of investment-led expansion of the economy, the now larger services sector is more labour-intensive. Rather than building more ghost cities, output expands to provide services to the new middle class.
China recently cut interest rates for the second time since November. Last month, they also cut the reserve requirements for banks, which was the first such industry-wide cut since 2012. These moves to keep the easy money flowing aren’t exactly reassuring as they imply China needs to stimulate the economy to meet the lowest growth target in 25 years.
2 Boko Haram vows allegiance to Isis (San Francisco Chronicle) Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram group, newly weakened by a multinational force that has dislodged it from a score of northeastern towns, reportedly pledged formal allegiance to the Islamic State group.
The pledge to IS came in an Arabic audio message with English subtitles alleged to have come from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and posted on Twitter, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring service. “We announce our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims …” said the message. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared himself the caliph.
The Boko Haram pledge to IS comes as the Nigerian militants reportedly are massing in the northeastern town of Gwoza, considered their headquarters, for a showdown with the Chadian-led multinational force. Though there was no way to independently verify the message, it comes weeks after Boko Haram’s new Twitter account broadcast that the group’s Shura council was considering whether to swear formal allegiance to IS.
Boko Haram in August followed the lead of IS in declaring an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria that grew to cover an area the size of Belgium. The Islamic State had declared a caliphate in vast swaths of territory that it controls in Iraq and Syria. The Nigerian group also began publishing videos of beheadings.
3 Since Delhi rape, things have got worse (Jayati Ghosh in The Guardian) The day after the Indian government banned the BBC documentary India’s Daughter, on the horrific gang rape and killing of a student in Delhi, a 10,000-strong mob broke into a jail in a town in Assam, dragged out an alleged rapist, beat him to death and hung his body up for public view.
Does this mean that people in India are now so outraged by violence against women that they are seeking rough justice of their own? Sadly, no: the patriarchy and abuse of power that created the conditions for that appalling act in Delhi are alive and flourishing, and indeed are expressed in both this lynching and in some of the more aggressive reactions to the film.
Indeed, the notion of rape as particularly bad because it affects the “honour” of women, rather than their basic personhood and physical security, is a leading cause of such reactions. The documentary, made by a woman who is herself a rape survivor, has surprisingly been criticised by the government and women’s activists.
The Indian government’s real concerns are less about the safety of women than the international image of the country. They worry that the documentary will continue to present India in a bad light rather than showcase its achievements and new government. (The fact that such achievements – especially for women – are few and hard to find is not really considered.)
It is certainly true that India is not the only country where women are routinely denigrated and their rights to personal safety are implicitly taken as contingent upon their (“good”) behaviour. But we cannot escape the reality in India that the huge popular movement against that particular atrocity and the subsequent moves to change the laws to ensure more protection for women have so far borne little fruit. If anything, things have probably got worse.
Trying to hide this, or prevent others from knowing about it, is not a solution. Instead, we have to confront this head on, precisely because this extreme form of patriarchy is so pervasive. Knowing our enemy – within and without – means facing all this, no matter how repulsive it may appear, because only then can we ever hope to change it.