Posted: June 29th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Economics, Human Rights, International Business, Politics | Tags: BRIC, India, poverty gap
Skyscrapers buildings in Mumbai, while the poverty is increasing
India is a country with a population of 1.21 billion people (India Census, 2011). The economic boom of the second most populated country is continuing even though all over the world the effects of the economic crisis may be felt. Europe is currently fighting against the recession and other economies are struggling to maintain their economic growth rate. India, however, enjoys a continuing economic growth. According to the India Central Statistical Organization (2012), the economy grew by 7.7% in 2011. Nevertheless, the country is still receiving development aid. This contradiction is forcing more and more donors to raise the question if India, as one of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), should still receive development aid.
However, the picture of India as a successful emerging economy is harmed by the growing poverty gap, especially when comparing the rural areas of India to the developed cities. Although the economy has been growing at 8%, it is necessary to consider the 645 million people, who live beneath the poverty line. These people account for 55% of the Indian population and are left behind. Although the living standard is increasing, the majority of the population does not have access it and continue to live beneath the standard of the 21st century. Nafisa D’Souza, the founder of the Laya Resource Center, a non-organization promoting the rights of the indigenous population of India, states that the country is only interested in its growing economy. She claims that once the government has to make a decision concerning the profitability than human rights are less important. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: Chamraj, Fair Trade, Fair Trade International, Fair Trade Label Organization Certificate, Fair Trade Label Organization International, Fair trade Organization, World Fair Trade Organization Asia
Many enjoy coffee or tea on a daily bases without considering the impacts this might have.
For many of us a good cup of coffee or tea symbolizes a better start of the day and has become indispensible. It might also mean a small break from work or a moment to spend with family and friends. However, for the farmers as well as planation works coffee and tea means life and they are highly depending on it. Every day, when we decide for or against buying a Fair Trade product, we are making an important decision. Did you ever consider that a cup of good coffee could also mean to influence the lives of people we do not even know?
Most of the world’s coffee and tea is produced in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) states that these developing countries are the parts of the world, which are most struck be poverty and exploitation, because of their dependence on the world economy. According to the Fair Trade Label Organization International (FLO), a non-governmental organization promoting awareness for Fair Trade, two billion people across these continents suffer from the fluctuation of gas and aliment prices. It directly influences the worker’s income and their for the amount of money to spent each month. These fluctuations may have severe consequences for the people, as it results in the loss of jobs, incurred debts and finally leads to impoverishment. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 6th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Human Rights, Thailand | Tags: Bangkok, Education, Empowerment, poverty, Street Children, Thailand
Bangkok a city, where poverty and wealth coexist closely
It was on a Saturday afternoon. I was standing on the roof top of one of the top 5 star hotels of Bangkok. Around me people were partying and enjoying their life. Champagne, cocktails were ordered and people talked about the newest luxurious stores they needed to go to. I was enjoying the sunset; everywhere I saw skyscrapers, the symbols of power and wealth. Shortly before the sun was setting I caught a glimpse of a smaller building. It consisted of five stories and a large roof. I noticed people on it. First I thought they were repairing the roof, but then I observed these people were too young to repair a roof. I was astonished to realize that the people I saw down there were teenagers, not older than 15 years, and they were preparing their beds for the night. I was stunned to see that poverty and wealth coexist so close by one another and no one seemed to care. Here I stood and enjoyed the perfect life, never having to worry about the fulfillment of my basic needs and never questioning my needs beyond those. Not even one block away from me, there are children who do not know where to sleep at night nor when they can eat or drink. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 26th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: Barefoot College, Barefoot Solar Engineers, Bunker Roy, Empowerment of Women, Tilonia
Tilonia, Rajasthan, India - the village did not have access to electricity until the Barefoot Collage opened its doors.Tilonia, Rajasthan, India - the village did not have access to electricity until the Barefoot Collage opened its doors.
Let me take you on a journey to India. Imagine a small village far away from the industrialization and the development of our globalized world. The village does not have access to electricity produced in the cities. Most of the inhabitants have never left the village and struggle to survive by farming and breading animals. Image a school in this village, which is open day and night and that this school is completely solar-powered. Envision that the teachers of this school belong to the poorest of the poor and do not have a degree – most of them are illiterate. Convince yourself to believe that these illiterate teachers can train their students to become carpenters, doctors, architects or even solar engineers.
This may sound as an unachievable dream, but it has actually become reality. In 1972, Bunker Roy, an Indian social activist and educator, created a school, called Barefoot College, in the little village of Tilonia, Rajasthan, India. Today the Barefoot College is also knows as Social Work and Research Center. It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) which is focused on self-sufficiency and self-sustainability by educating women and men in their own local communities. Throughout the years the NGO was able to extend its operations across Asia and to Africa. It provides people who have been forsaken by society with the opportunity to move out of the vicious circle of poverty and “into the virtuous circle of an improved life” (Sheryl WuDunn, 2010).
An Indian woman learning how to install the solar lights
Apart from providing education the Barefoot College also emphasizes the importance of solar energy as well as the empowerment of women. According to the Larry Summers, former chief economist of the World Bank, the highest return on investment in the developing world will be generated when investing into the education of women. In order to promote the empowerment of women as well as the importance of solar energy, equally every community has to take the responsibility for its own solar panels. They are urged to set up a Solar Energy Committee, which is an elected group. Bill Gates once said that a country can only grow to become one of the top 10 countries in the world if it utilizes all human resources – men and women alike. Therefore, 30 percent of the board members have to be female. The board’s responsibilities consist of defining the fees to be paid by each family for the system as well as for the administration. Additionally, this Committee selects the students who are to be trained to become Barefoot solar engineers.
The selected Barefoot engineers, most of whom are female, are trained for three to six month. During this time they will learn how to install and maintain solar panels. As most of the teachers as well as their students are not able to read or write, classes are given orally. The students learn by listening and then memorizing what has been taught. To enhance the learning process color-coded charts are utilized. This is to support the memorization of the combinations and arrangements of wires. Bunker Roy states that women are worth investing in as they are more open minded when trying out new things. According to Bunker Roy, women are less impatient and not focused on receiving a certificate for what they did because they study for a better future for their families and communities.
By handing over the obligation of taking care of the systems themselves, the Barefoot College ensures the accountability of the long-term investment. As discussed in earlier blogs (http://asianowblog.com/2012/05/09/has-the-aid-system-failed/) development aid, which actively involves the community, by putting them in charge of the maintenance as well as the decision-making is more likely to be successful and therefore more sustainable, than projects which only provide the objects and even covers the costs for them. According to Ashden International, an organization supporting sustainable solutions for energy, by the beginning of 2009, 472 students qualified to be Barefoot solar engineers. Furthermore, Ashden International states that by 2009, 753 villages in India, as well as Africa and other parts of Asia, had installed 20,000 solar lighting systems and 65 heating systems. These numbers prove the success story of the Barefoot College. Besides these figures, the less-polluted air as well as the empowerment of men and especially of women should not be forgotten as it creates an opportunity for a better life.
The idea spread across Asia and even reached Africa
The Barefoot College was able to overcome the typical stereotype of poor rural females. Today, the tale of the little village, with no access to electricity, has become a thing of the past for Tilonia and many other villages. The school, which promotes that practical skills are as important as the certified degrees, impacted many people’s lives in a dramatic way. The Guardian reports that the Barefoot College has been so successful that the idea has spread across the South of Asia and even to Africa. Today Barefoot solar engineers from countries such as, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda or Bhutan have completed their education at the Barefoot College of Tilonia and went back home to brighten their world.
Posted: May 23rd, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Government, Human Rights | Tags: Cambodia, Khmer Rouge, Killing Fields, Pol Pot
I am interested history. If I travel to a country I attempt to understand the history of the country and try to talk to the people to find out more about their history and stories. When exploring Cambodia, I noticed the friendliness and the openness of the people, who were always willing to help me.
The Cambodians would greet me with a smile, but their eyes told a story of sadness
However, I also observed that every friendly smile bore sad eyes and everywhere I would hear stories about children who had lost their parents. I would hear stories about wives who lost their husbands and I started to wonder what exactly happened to Cambodia and its people. It seemed so surreal, that I traveled through a country that appeared to have lost everything – infrastructure, religion, trust and maybe even a bit of its own identity.
At the beginning of my journey to Cambodia, I hardly knew anything about the history. All I knew was that Pol Pot had led the Khmer Rouge. I knew that many people had died, that Cambodia has a problem with landmines and that the country is still struggling with the aftermath to the present day. Over the course of our journey I had to learn that, according to statistics compiled by Tuol Sleng Prison Museum, the Regime of Pol Pot killed almost 1.7 million people – this amounts to quarter of the population. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 18th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Asia-Pacific, Economics, Government, Governmental Policies
Asia - a fascinating continent facing the climate change
For many people, including myself, Asia is one of the most fascinating continents. Almost 60% of the world’s population lives here and the continent is the biggest on earth. Since it has such an exceptional size, amounting to more than 44 billion square kilometers, it offers a wide variety of climate zones, from rain forest to desert. Unfortunately, due to its great dimensions, it is also the continent most threatened by climate change (Asian Development Bank, 2012). Even though the climate of the world has changed throughout history, the climate change is different today. The climate change of nowadays is created by us –humans- and is not a natural change as it has been before.
According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Asian metropolises are especially endangered. Generally, people settle close to the rivers and oceans, as these areas provide perfect access to the sea, and therefore to trade. These regions, for instance Dhaka in Bangladesh or Jakarta in Indonesia, have a higher population than the rule areas and will therefore be more affected by the climate change than other areas. Both cities are located close to the water and offer only minor protection to the inhabitants. Additionally, most of the manufacturing industry is concentrated in these regions and therefore the production of greenhouse gases is significantly higher than elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 9th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: Uncategorized
Many people across the world donate money to NGOs
Many people across the entire world donate money to charity. Generally, we give money, thinking that it will make a difference. However, have you ever considered how you would feel if you found out that it did not make a difference?
Part of the question is if the aid system has failed. I am not referring to corrupt organizations. I am not thinking about dictators blocking the help. These are issues that are usually talked about by the media. I am thinking about failed aid in countries with stable governments, such as Cambodia. This leads me to a more general question. Does the aid provided by the non-governmental organizations (NGOS) really help on a long-term basis?
For my part, I have to say, the system may not have failed, but at least it is damaged and it is necessary to fix it. The reason, why I think it is malfunctioning is that many organizations only focus on providing the hardware. NGOs like Engineers without Borders, CARE Bangladesh or Promoting Education, emPowering Youth (PEPY) build schools, houses or pipelines for wells. This shows that we approach the problems of the developing countries from a very western point of view. Often we do not consider what is happening on the ground, for example, conflicts between different ethnic groups or a different understanding of time and values. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 2nd, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: China, Human Rights, Politics
Blind children learning to be independent
Can you imagine your world is dark? That you cannot see anything and are dependent on others, who perceive you as being less valuable because the chances that you can contribute to the society are almost zero? Can you imagine being excluded from social activities or losing your self-respect because you may not be able to support your family, as it is expected? Not?
These are the challenges and fears almost 6.7 million blind Chinese face every day. Countries in Asia have one of the highest rate of blinds globally. While Myanmar is the home of 8% of the blind world citizens, China already has a rate of 18%. Due to illnesses, serious injuries and accidents the number of blind persons in China is increasing each year by 450,000 people – meaning, approximately one person blinds every minute and that only in China.
Even though the number of blind people is so high, there is no or only little support for the affected and their families. In the rural areas of China the education for blind people is rarely developed, since there is a strict separation of regular and specialized schools. The Chinese government is already challenged to provide sufficient education to regular students, since many schools in rural areas are too expensive for the population. Therefore, many students in rural areas leave the school earlier than in developed areas and parents of blind children often decide to not send their children to school. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: China, Economics, International Business
Does Made in Germany and managed in China go together?
Made in Germany and Managed by China – can this go together?
Usually, when people talk about products made in Germany, words such as, knowledge and quality are utilized. However, when “Made in China” is discussed, products often are associated with providing less quality and being cheap – if not even being copied from another product.
Even though Europe plays only a marginal role in the Chinese trade strategy, the amount of direct investments in Germany is strongly increasing. While the direct investments amounted to 157 million Euros in 2000, it increased to a total of 629 million in 2009. According to the Agency Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the US was the most important trading partner for Germany until 2010, when China became number one. Chinese investments increased rapidly and managers were afraid that their company would be bought without a negotiation – just like being on sale. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 13th, 2012 | Author: Franziska | Filed under: International Business, International Relations
Usually tourism is profit-oriented but can it support peace making?
What about considering sustainable tourism as part of peace making? Generally, I have to admit that combining tourism with creating peace may sound rather far-fetched, as it is a profit-oriented business and not necessarily focused on creating understanding between nations. Nevertheless, I believe that sustainable tourism can lead to a more peaceful world.
According to the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), more than 940 million leisure travelers crossed the borders of states in 2010 This is unprecedented. Dr. Ian Yeoman, the founding editor of the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, suspects that this number will increase to 1.9 billion people by 2030. The UNWTO mentions on its website that today’s tourism industry may generate up to 5% of the gross domestic product of a country. Additionally, it is stated that globally one out of twelve jobs is tourism-related. Taking into account the increase in the number of conflicts, the travelers and the tourism related jobs, it seems clear that this creates new challenges as well as opportunities for the tourism industry and politics.
One of these opportunities is sustainable tourism. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that sustainable tourism requires the “informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building.” In order to achieve this objective, the United Nations are calling for a Global Ethics-Code for Tourism. This code aspires to strengthen the positive effects of tourism, such as a higher cultural awareness and a stable economy. Furthermore, it is aimed at minimizing the negative aspects of unsustainable tourism, for example damaged nature or vanishing cultural identities.
Mass tourism harmed cultural identities for centuries but now diversity is cherished by tourists
On big issue are cultural identities being by-passed by the mass tourism. However, Louis D’Amore, president and founder of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT), mentions that travelers are not only seeking to experience the country anymore. Nowadays they strive to meet the locals as well as to comprehend their culture and history. This statement is supported by the fact that the fastest growing tourism sectors are the cultural and educational journeys. This trend creates a new generation of global citizens. People are motivated to comprehend cultural differences, which will automatically decrease prejudice. In a broader context, these travelers function as cultural diplomats as they create friendships and promote their newly achieved perspectives, once they are back in their home countries. The exchange of experience and can lead to reconciliation as well as curing the damage caused by a conflict between nations.
The new trends in tourism can change politics and can be valued as an opportunity to decrease the threat of conflicts. Even though the world is becoming a global village, cultural diversity is promoted more than ever and a new mutual understanding is created. As citizens of the world started to take the first step toward a more peaceful world through respecting cultural diversities, politicians still have to follow. By creating policies, such as the Global Ethics-Code for tourism the collaboration amongst nations can be reinforced and the sustainable development of countries will be strengthened.
Sustainable tourism decreases prejudice and creates mutual understanding
Even hotel chain Marriott stated at the recent World Economic Forum that “the more people experience other countries and cultures, the more peace will spread.” Furthermore, the UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, explains that, the Globalization should function as a role model and promote a more tolerant world. This world should be ruled by respect between countries and cultures. Therefore, sustainable tourism can function as peace maker. It considers the values of different nations as well as cultures. It establishes an environment, which involves all stakeholders and politics to build up a tourism industry that is based on consensus building and the partnership of all participants.