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By Sundar Senthilnathan and Sudeep Surendra

A well-designed transport system

A well-designed transport system

India is no longer the place where one can romanticize sleepy villages. It is urbanizing at rapid pace. Out of a billion plus people, 377 million are living in more than 7,000 towns and cities. Over the next fifteen years, more than 200 million people could be added to the urban population. The number of million plus cities in India increased to 53 in 2011 from just 35 in 2001. 40% of the total urban populace reside in these 53 million plus cities. There is nothing unnatural about this spectacular growth as economic growth and urbanization go hand in hand. Despite Indian cities disproportionately contributing to GDP, the quality of life is getting worse by the day. Roads, public transport, traffic regulation, housing, waste management, water distribution networks, sewerage systems, health and education services, and law and order – all in a state of seemingly irretrievable mess. In the 2013 liveability rankings by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Mumbai ranks 116 out of 140 cities. It fares just a notch better than violence-prone Karachi and Damascus.

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By Rebekah Read

The Immigration Bill will give the Secretary of State power to exile those who she thinks have acted in a way “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK” regardless of whether this will result in them being stateless.  The civil liberties lawyer Gareth Pierce (of Birmingham 6 fame) has said that this is akin to “medieval exile – just as cruel and just as arbitrary.”

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Currently, citizenship is only allowed to be revoked if the individual will not be left stateless (apart from circumstances where the citizenship was obtained by fraud).  This executive power was granted in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (with the bar subsequently lowered in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006).

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wysiwyg_image_246_2792853by Daragh Gleeson

One of the great success stories of the Developing World is the improvement in the provision of primary school education. In 1970 global primary school enrolment was at approximately 50%. Now enrolment in developing regions has reached 90%.

This is a fantastic achievement, but due to the global financial crisis total aid decreased in real terms in 2011 for the first time since 1997, and fears have arisen that the momentum may stop.

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by Daragh Gleeson

The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911, and was established to support the cause of gender equality worldwide. With the passing of the 104th International Women’s Day last week, one hopes that the world has progressed to the extent that a person’s gender can no longer make their life more or less difficult.

While huge strides have of course been made, globally there are still significant problems facing women in all societies. Take domestic violence for example. Globally, on average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. Read More

by Daragh Gleesonabkhazia_map_395

The world is waiting to see what is Russia’s next move in Crimea. Some say Putin regrets the decision to invade, given his failures to argue international law to his liking in the Security Council, and given the potential economic ramifications for Russia if sanctions are properly implemented. Others say this is just another step in an imperial policy that is not overly concerned about any possible international reaction.

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By Rebekah Read

The recently exposed tragedy of the Winterbourne View hospital, which saw vulnerable, elderly patients assaulted by staff who pulled patients’ hair, gave them cold punishment showers, left one outside in near zero temperatures and poured mouthwash into another’s eyes, rightly left the public outraged at the State for the apparent indifference shown to the care provided to their most vulnerable citizens.

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By Criminonymous

"Look at Bangladesh today / Buildings once filled with workers are now filled with graves / Six cents an hour’s not a suitable wage"

“Look at Bangladesh today / Buildings once filled with workers are now filled with graves / Six cents an hour’s not a suitable wage”

Learn from history and present times
Help to solve the mystery of how societies survive
If you’ve never seen a gun, you’re a lucky one
And think about your life in the context of the world
Because so many grow up in a place we can’t imagine
A hard life to live, can’t get ahead like Anne Boleyn
Strivers and shirkers: the rhetoric we’ve heard for ages
Simply doesn’t capture the complexities of work and wages
If hard work always led to successes
So many African women would live lives like princesses
If innovation were truly decorated
So many Indian women would be emancipated
But it’s just not as simple as they want us to believe
Our reality depends on power’s distribution
Equally, yes, we have free will; yes, we have choice
But options seem narrow when you’ve lost hope and voice
There’s so much to do, but there’s so little time
Another day goes by, more starving people die
But I feel encouraged, my view isn’t negative
It’s better round the corner, at least that’s our prerogative
To make it a reality, change mentality
And say it really proudly: we can stop the brutality!
We’re overdue a bit of peace, I’d say
And to this, I hope that we will contribute one day

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By Sam Tomlin

Education is one of the most hotly debated topics in British politics. The Education Secretary Michael Gove is one of the highest profile government ministers and most people will be aware of debates around ‘academies’, ‘free schools’ and tuition fees even if they do not know the specific details. Of course this is understandable as education is vital for any society to function properly – everyone has been through it and almost everyone knows people still in it.Voc Ed

There is one area of education, however, which has consistently failed to generate any kind of sustained popular or mainstream political debate and that is vocational education.

As it says on the tin, it is essentially education which prepares people (of all ages, but traditionally younger people) for a vocation – something that they specialise in. The system, involving various types of college, university and apprenticeship courses, is not simple to understand, but still plays a vital role in educating millions of people today (in 2011 it was estimated there were around 1.8million 16-18 year olds studying for vocational qualifications). Read More

By Sam Tomlin

David Cameron, we were told in a 2011 parliament publication, ‘has placed the Big Society project at the centre of his political agenda’. The vision was bold, if a little fuzzy in practical application: ‘the term describes the Government’s intention to open up public services to new providers, increase social action and devolve power to local communities.’Big Society

So fuzzy in practical application that the same report, just a year or so after the concept was introduced, suggested ‘There is little clear understanding of the Big Society project among the public, and there is confusion over the Government’s proposals to reform public services.’

If that was the truth in 2011, it is certainly the case today. The battle has now all but been lost as the coalition enters its final stages. The term (‘BS’ as many have renamed it) mostly evokes ridicule around the country and in various opinion outlets. Read More

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