Tag Archives: India

Mapping Education

by Benjamin Sacks

As pupils, teachers, and parents head into the final weeks preceding the winter holiday, education remains a perennial and hotly debated issue. In the last week alone, Education Secretary Michael Gove urged Lancashire primary schools to increase their standards and testing results, commentators discussed raising university fees on the Isle of Man and, while on a trip to India, Boris Johnson railed against declining numbers of foreign students attending British universities. These stories come on the heels of several years of upheaval in the British education system – ranging from the introduction of high tuition fees to reforms in primary and secondary care.

In the most recent Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Sarah L Holloway and Heike Jöns (Loughborough University) headlined a thematic issue focusing on changing geographies of education. The articles, as well as Holloway and Jöns’s summarisation, featured at the Second International Conference on Geographies of Education, held 10-11 September 2012 at Loughborough University, and presently form a 14-article ‘virtual issue’.

The authors begin their analysis with a discussion of the vital role states play in the successful implementation of educational policy at every level, from ensuring that regions meet appropriate national testing regulations, to provide local medical, nursery, and food assistance. In so doing, they highlight at least two key, but uneasy partnerships: the state and parents; and the balance between public and private responsibilities. These balances appear to be in nearly constant flux; demanding education reform that’s attune to the needs of different constituencies.

Sociologists and geographers of education are increasingly cognizant of the rapidly changing nature of education itself or, as the authors concisely described, ‘[W]hat is learnt’ (483). Several important themes are highlighted:  interdisciplinary studies; the importance of informal education, or education that does not take place within the traditional classroom (e.g., field trips, active citizenship and volunteering); introduction to and engaging in national and international issues, and conceptualising different ‘spaces of learning’ that can be tailored to maximise opportunities in various environments (484-86). Geographers of education must also engage with the ‘complex networks’ and the ‘diverse flows of knowledge, information, capital and resources’ that are becoming increasingly global in the age of internet communications. As a final call to action, both authors suggest that British debates on education geography and policy engage with non-British sources, incorporating ideas and priorities from the Americas, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

 Sarah L Holloway and Heike Jöns, Geographies of Education and LearningTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 37 482-88.

 Michael Gove: Lancashire primary schools need to improveBBC News, 23 November 2012, accessed 26 November 2012.

 Isle of Man students to pay more for universityBBC News, 26 November 2012, accessed 26 November 2012.

 Boris Johnson warns that UK is losing foreign studentsBBC News, 26 November 2012, accessed 26 November 2012.

Labour Geography: Labour Markets at Different Scales

By Fiona Ferbrache

Recently, the airline manufacturer Airbus has been catching my eye via online and printed advertisements, and also through the news.  The world’s largest passenger airliner, the A380, was on display at the Farnborough Airshow last week, and yesterday my neighbour was even wearing an Airbus cap purchased after a tour around the assembly plant in Toulouse.

Airbus is a consortium formed by national aerospace companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain.  With headquarters and assembly point in Toulouse, Airbus also has assembly lines in Hamburg, and Tianjin (China), and various subsidiary companies in the US, India and Japan.  Recently, Airbus made headlines with the announcement that it will establish an assembly line in Mobile, Alabama (the company’s first US-based production facility).  Airbus President and CEO confirmed this as a positive move that will create much needed jobs, and enhance Airbus’ global competitiveness.  An alternative view expressed by European labour force unions can be read in the Telegraph.

Jumping from global companies to small-scale rural economies in the developing world, Carswell (2012) presents research on local labour markets in rural India.  Carswell explores how labour markets are locally constituted and segmented by comparing the differences between two villages separated by only a few miles.  She examines the range of job opportunities available to people in the two villages, and how belonging to different social groups influences these opportunities.  The findings reveal the ways in which labour market segmentation is complex and beyond the assumption that it might be simply caste-based.  Carswell argues that “having an industry on your doorstep means very different things for different people” – a sentiment that is also borne out in reports on the Airbus expansion.

Grace Carswell, Dalits and local labour markets in rural India: experiences from the Tiruppur textile region in Tamil Nadu, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00530.x

Test pilots put the A380 through its paces at Farnborough Airshow, BBC News, 10 July 2012

Airbus to establish assembly line in United States, Airbus, 2 July 2012

Airbus’s US move highlights redefinition of globalisation, The Telegraph, 5 July 2012

RGS-IBG New Content Alert: Early View Articles (16th June 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Visualising postcode data for urban analysis and planning: the Amsterdam City Monitor
Karin Pfeffer, Marinus C Deurloo and Els M Veldhuizen
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01096.x

Changing countries, changing climates: achieving thermal comfort through adaptation in everyday activities
Sara Fuller and Harriet Bulkeley
Article first published online: 28 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01105.x

Rethinking community and public space from the margins: a study of community libraries in Bangalore’s slums
Ajit K Pyati and Ahmad M Kamal
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01100.x

Practising workplace geographies: embodied labour as method in human geography
Chris McMorran
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01101.x

Original Articles

Muslim geographies, violence and the antinomies of community in eastern Sri Lanka
Shahul Hasbullah and Benedikt Korf
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00470.x

Characterising urban sprawl on a local scale with accessibility measures
Jungyul Sohn, Songhyun Choi, Rebecca Lewis and Gerrit Knaap
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00468.x

The geodemographics of access and participation in Geography
Alex D Singleton
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2012.00467.x

Original Articles

Towards geographies of ‘alternative’ education: a case study of UK home schooling families
Peter Kraftl
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00536.x

Boundary Crossings

Geographies of environmental restoration: a human geography critique of restored nature
Laura Smith
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00537.x

A policymaker’s puzzle, or how to cross the boundary from agent-based model to land-use policymaking?
Nick Green
Article first published online: 25 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00532.x

Content Alert: New Articles (11th May 2012)

The following Early View articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.

Original Articles

Migration, urban growth and commuting distance in Toronto’s commuter shed
Jeffrey J Axisa, K Bruce Newbold and Darren M Scott
Article first published online: 8 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01097.x

Original Articles

Mobile ‘green’ design knowledge: institutions, bricolage and the relational production of embedded sustainable building designs
James Faulconbridge
Article first published online: 27 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00523.x

Creating and destroying diaspora strategies: New Zealand’s emigration policies re-examined
Alan Gamlen
Article first published online: 27 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00522.x

The demographic impacts of the Irish famine: towards a greater geographical understanding
A Stewart Fotheringham, Mary H Kelly and Martin Charlton
Article first published online: 27 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00517.x

Transnational religious networks: sexuality and the changing power geometries of the Anglican Communion
Gill Valentine, Robert M Vanderbeck, Joanna Sadgrove, Johan Andersson and Kevin Ward
Article first published online: 25 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00507.x

Geographies of transition and the separation of lower and higher attaining pupils in the move from primary to secondary school in London
Richard Harris
Article first published online: 23 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.519.x

Rethinking governance and value in commodity chains through global recycling networks
Mike Crang, Alex Hughes, Nicky Gregson, Lucy Norris and Farid Ahamed
Article first published online: 23 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00515.x

The ‘missing middle’: class and urban governance in Delhi’s unauthorised colonies
Charlotte Lemanski and Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal
Article first published online: 20 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00514.x

Science, scientific instruments and questions of method in nineteenth-century British geography
Charles W J Withers
Article first published online: 20 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00513.x

Genome geographies: mapping national ancestry and diversity in human population genetics
Catherine Nash
Article first published online: 18 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00512.x

Militant tropicality: war, revolution and the reconfiguration of ‘the tropics’c.1940–c.1975
Daniel Clayton
Article first published online: 18 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00510.x

Beginners and equals: political subjectivity in Arendt and Rancière
Mustafa Dikeç
Article first published online: 13 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00508.x

Scaling up by law? Canadian labour law, the nation-state and the case of the British Columbia Health Employees Union
Tod D Rutherford
Article first published online: 13 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-5661.2012.00506.x

The Geographical Journal Content Alert (New Articles)

The Geographical JournalThe Geographical Journal

Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)

 


These early view articles are now available on Wiley Online Library.


Original Articles

How are they othered? Globalisation, identity and violence in an Indian city
IPSITA CHATTERJEE
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2011.00427.x

Violent countries for women

By Kelly Wakefield

A month ago, the UK media reported on findings from the Trust Law Danger Poll (213 gender experts from five continents were asked to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks. The risks were health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking) highlighting the world’s five most dangerous countries for women.  Afghanistan topped the poll, emerging worst in three of the six risk catgories, followed by Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia.  Threats to women in these countries range from domestic abuse and economic discrimination to female foeticide, genital mutilation and acid attacks.  The Telegraph reported Antonella Notari, head of Women Change Makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world as saying that “ongoing conflict, Nato airstrikes and cultural practices combined make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women.”

Chatterjee (2011) discusses how local conflict may be influenced by processes of globalisation and argues that in order to understand how globalisation may be implicated in local violent events, it is essential to develop a nuanced understanding of the complexities of global–local interaction in places.  The case study used was of a Hindu-Muslim conflict which happened in 2002 in Ahmedabad city, India.  Although Chatterjee’s article does not directly discuss gender explicitly, it is a useful article to read to grasp a better understanding of how dangers to women can manifest within particular countries and cultures.

The Telegraph highlighted how ‘the poll showed that subtle dangers such as discrimination that don’t grab headlines are sometimes just as significant risks for women as bombs, bullets, stonings and systematic rape in conflict zones’. These subtle dangers are seemingly less headline grabbing than violent outbursts but very much underpin the everyday lives of women in these countries.  For example 87% of Aghan women are illiterate, in Congo 57% of pregnant women are anaemic, in Pakistan women earn 82% less than men,  in India 44.5% of women are married before they are 18 years of age and in Somalia only 9% of women give birth in a health facility.  These statistics truly make the countries in the Danger Poll dangerous to women because of their ingrained nature.

Chatterjee, I (2011) How are they othered?  Globalisation, identity and violence in an Indian city. The Geographical Journal, Online.

Trust Law, The World’s Most Five Dangerous Countries for Women

The Telegraph, 15th June 2011, Afghanistan named most dangerous country for women

Border Abstractions: Competing Notions of Sovereignty

The Himalayas: a traditional physical boundary. New geographies have complicated political and cultural borders. Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin Sacks

THE AMERICAN raid on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday, 1 May raised Islamabad’s concerns that its borders could be so easily breached by a foreign power. Washington cited Pakistan’s inability to control traffic through its borders as a factor behind the US decision not to inform the Pakistani military or the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) prior to the operation’s execution. Beyond the immediate coldness in Pakistani-American relations, however, is the broader relevance and role of boundaries in international affairs.

Physical geography defined the earliest boundaries. The first empires—including those of South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa—followed the course of rivers and hugged the sands of oceans. As civilisation moved into less-hospitable territory, Earth’s extremities became natural dividers. In the Americas, the wax and wane of the occidental mountain ranges determined the edges of the Mesoamerican civilisations. In Africa, the Sahara drew a nearly impassable barrier across the belly of the continent, fostering the development of multiple, distinct peoples. Perhaps most prominently, the Himalaya range sharply divided the Indian and Chinese civilisations from one another; even with tremendous cultural exchanges, the mountain peak-boundaries have changed little in the last two thousand years.

Political boundaries relied less on topographical geography. Products of nation-state organisation, many (but by no means all) political borders were formed from the machinations of seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European empires. Their efforts resulted both in regions of relative geopolitical harmony (North America) and, as documented by Ieuan Griffiths in a 1986 article, vicious instability (Africa, the Indian Subcontinent). RGS explorers and scholars have long been fascinated with how these borders came to be. In 1836, Colonel Don Juan Galindo read a paper to the Royal Geographical Society of his recent Central American travels. He classified borders along strictly political lines:

Central America comprehends the five states of Costarrica [sic], Nicaragua, Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala, united in one federation, and whose seat of government is at the city of San Salvador, within the federal district… (121).

As well as physical boundaries:

The principal points of the boundary towards Mexico are the ruins of Palenque, the river Nojbecan in latitude 19° north, and the Rio Hondo. Towards New Granada the river Escudo of Veragua, which falls into the Caribbean sea [sic], and the river Boruca, which runs to the Pacific (121).

A similarly traditional article appeared in the May 1927 edition of The Geographical Journal. W E D Allen documented the dissolution of the Tsarist Russian ‘Vice-Royalty of the Caucasus’ in favour of the new, ‘people’s republics’ that, after a very brief period of independence, were brought under Soviet control.

But physical and political boundaries only tell a small part of the story. Transnational borders, as the name suggests, are more difficult to quantify. They cover a vast spectrum of diasporas, international organisations, historical and contemporary treaties and various attributes of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power. In 2005, John Pickles (University of North Carolina) asked how the European Union and the collapse of formal empires have radically altered continental perceptions of borders in a Schengen Agreement world. Geographers are also returning to historical movements that transcended political boundaries. Morag Bell (Loughborough University), for instance, extensively documented the rise of ethical-environmental standards across numerous borders in the last years of the nineteenth-century.

The haziness of contemporary cultural and nation-state boundaries often allows multiple border layers to overlap and contradict one another. A now famous example occurred in 1983, when the United States invaded the small Caribbean island of Grenada. Grenadian authorities protested that the invasion violated their sovereignty. The United States responded, arguing that the island’s Communist coup had endangered the lives of Americans studying there, thus threatening US borders. London also formally protested an incursion into what it saw as its own sphere of influence; Grenada is officially a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

The current row between Washington and Islamabad is similarly complex. Pakistan’s assertion of sovereignty violation is based on traditional, geopolitical boundaries. But if we look deeper, the truth is less precise. Since partition, Islamabad has enjoyed an intimate, if complicated relationship withWashington. These long-term bilateral relations permeate throughout both cultures—from Karachi’s markets to Chicago’s Diaspora community. Strong bilateral relations thus gradually bend the country’s relative boundaries with each other as trust builds. Too, the United States’ continuing role as the ‘World’s Policeman’ (and Pakistan’s official support, or at least acquiescence of that arrangement) further reshape bilateral boundaries. It is a point reviewed in Reece Jones’s (University of Hawai’i) ‘Geopolitical Boundary Narratives, the Global War on Terror and Border Fencing in India’.

W E D Allen, “New Political Boundaries in the Caucasus“, The Geographical Journal 69.5 (May, 1927): pp. 430-41.

Morag Bell, “Reshaping Boundaries: International Ethics and Environmental Consciousness in the Early Twentieth Century“, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 23.2 (Jun, 1998): pp. 151-75.

Don Juan Galindo, “On Central America“, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 6 (1836): pp. 119-35.

Ieuan Griffiths, “The Scramble for Africa: Inherited Political Boundaries“, The Geographical Journal 152.2 (Jul, 1986): pp. 204-16.

Reece Jones, “Geopolitical Boundary Narratives, the Global War on Terror and Border Fencing in India“, Transactions of the Institute for British Geographers New Series 34.3 (Jul, 2009): pp. 290-304.

John Pickles, “New Cartographies’ and the Decolonization of European Geographies“, Area 37.4 (Dec, 2005): pp. 355-64.






Geopolitics of water

by Robin de la Motte

Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brahmaputra4.JPG; Author:ignat

The Brahmaputra River

In November 2010 it was reported that India and Pakistan were building rival dams on the Neelum river, a tributary of the Indus River. The river basin is covered by the Indus Water Treaty, signed in 1960. For decades, the treaty has been “widely cited as a model of exemplary cooperation in an often fractious bilateral relationship”, but India’s current development plans, focussing on hydro-electric power, threaten to destabilise the agreement. The agreement is crucial for Pakistan, as India controls the flow of the Indus into Pakistan, where it is critical for irrigation.

The geopolitics of water in the region are discussed in a 2003 article by Stephen Brichieri-Colombi and Robert W. Bradnock. The article compares and contrasts the Indus river basin with the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin, the latter governed by the 1996 Ganges Waters Treaty between India and Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan, until 1971). The authors describe how the relative lack of development of East Pakistan and its lower geopolitical significance resulted in substantially less cooperation between India and Pakistan in this river basin, with plans proceeding independently or in direct competition. The authors propose a complex of barrages which would allow the Brahmaputra River, whose flows are increasing, to supplement Bangladesh’s use of the Ganges, whose flows are decreasing; the scheme would also allow India to use more of the Ganges’ flows elsewhere, in drier parts of its catchment. The complex would require substantial cross-border collaboration, in support of the development of a river basin in which over 10% of the world’s population lives.

Pakistan and India in Dam Building Race — Interpreting the Indus Water Treaty Circle of Blue, 30 November 2010, “Pakistan and India in Dam Building Race — Interpreting the Indus Water Treaty”

View the Brichieri-Colombi and Bradnock (2003) article here Brichieri-Colombi, Stephen and Bradnock, Robert W. (2003), “Geopolitics, water and development in South Asia: cooperative development in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta”, The Geographical Journal, Volume 169, Issue 1, pages 43-64

Census of 37% of the World

By  Paulette Cully

Learning that China has recently completed its 2010 census of 1.3 million people and that India is in the midst of preparation for its February 2011 census of 1.2 billion people, I wanted to find out more about how one would go about counting what is in total, 37% of the world’s population. Keen to learn how this may be done, I read Len Cook’s article “The quality and qualities of population statistics, and the place of the census” in the journal “Area”. The article describes how population counts are the key to official statistical systems and the yardstick for many commercial and research surveys and analyses. In addition, the article describes how statistical offices around the world face an extensive range of challenges when counting their population, particularly because population flows have become much freer and the structure of families continue to evolve. Considering these issues, the article reviews how population counts have and will evolve over time in the UK and other countries.

In China , the decennial population Census was held between November 1 – 10, using an army of 6 million enumerators across the country. However, China has had special difficulties to overcome . Firstly, because of millions of illegal migrants, the so called “floating population”, and secondly because of the unauthorised births which were previously concealed due to the government’s stringent population policy. Some light should also be shed on the countrys’ skewed sex ratio at birth due to the preference for male offspring. There are officially about 120 male births to every 100 female instead of the global norm of 105. The official estimate of the sex ratio of the country’s 0- to-4 age group in 2008 was 123 males per 100 females.

The results of the census counts in China and India will be released at almost the same time in 2011 with India releasing their figures at the end of March and China at the end of April. Depending on the results a world population of 7 billion may be official by early next year.

Click here to read more about  the China and India census

Click here to read Cook, L., (2004), The quality and qualities of population statistics and the place of census, Area, Vol.36, Issue 2, pages 111-123

NGOs and microfinance

On 29 July 2010 The New York Times reported that one of the world’s largest microfinance organizations, India’s SKS Microfinance, was preparing to launch on the Indian stock market. Whilst not the first, SKS was one of the biggest, and it caused controversy because a US-based non-profit microfinance group invested in SKS, Unitus, had said it would close down its microfinance activities after the launch. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the microfinance pioneer he co-founded (Grameen Bank), criticized the move as encouraging profit maximisation. The launch ultimately raised around $350m. Besides launching on the stock market, Indian microfinance institutions are also pursuing securitization, with micro-loans being pooled into marketable securities.

A 2010 article by Bipasha Baruah looks at the role of NGOs in microfinance. Baruah acknowledges the success of NGO microfinance in extending credit to financially excluded groups, particularly women, but points to problems of sustainability, with many smaller microfinance NGOs dependent on donor funding and government subsidies, partly because many provide social services such as rights awareness and literacy classes alongside microcredit. Particularly for these less financially focussed NGOs, attempts to provide links for the poor into the formal banking system can serve poverty reduction well, since this offers a much broader range of financial instruments, including savings accounts, which NGOs cannot legally provide. Baruah highlights doubts in the literature about the long-term impact of microcredit on income levels of the poor, whilst noting benefits in consumption smoothing and women’s control over household resources. Studies also show concentration of NGOs in urban and better-developed areas, with less activity in very rural and very poor areas, following a certain market logic which in some cases leads to competition between microfinance NGOs in relatively well-served areas, at the expense of covering areas with greater financial exclusion. Contradictions between financial sustainability and reaching the poorest may also appear, with NGOs in some cases “moving up the poverty scale” to focus on those more able to borrow and repay.

Beyond this, Baruah argues that “the use of microfinance carries implicit neo-liberal assumptions about how development should occur.” She highlights literature showing that borrowers often lack economies of scale, complementary inputs, key skills, or other requirements for succeeding in an often highly competitive marketplace with limited microcredit funds. Uncoordinated access to microcredit can often lead to an overexpansion of particular local industries, limiting the poverty alleviation benefits and making microcredit, in one commentator’s words, “a glorified form of subsistence.” Some NGOs have recognised these problems and attempted to support borrowers with various aspects of enterprise development, including information and training. Some NGOs also organise women to pool their labour or act as unions to demand increased wages and better working conditions, and Baruah suggests pressing for government employment programs to support the poorest, who are often unwilling to seek credit because they lack the other resources needed to use such credit effectively. Baruah concludes that overall microfinance “is firmly embedded within a neo-liberal framework that seeks to increase access to existing financial resources without really challenging the entrenched status quo of unequal power relations between different groups of people,” and that this is precisely why microfinance has enjoyed such great support from governments, NGOs and donor agencies.

View the Baruah (2010) article here Baruah, Bipasha (2010), “NGOs in Microfinance: Learning from the Past, Accepting Limitations, and Moving Forward“, Geography Compass, Volume 4, Issue 8, pages 979–992

Rich I.P.O. Brings Controversy to SKS Microfinance Stephanie Strom and Vikas Bajaj, The New York Times, 29 July 2010, “Rich I.P.O. Brings Controversy to SKS Microfinance

Robin de la Motte