Sunday December 15, 2019
Home India Sikkim Holds ...

Sikkim Holds Exceptionally Steady And Silent Progress In Improving The Lives Of Ordinary People

Given the track record, it may be safe to predict that Sikkim might be the first Indian state to offer solutions to the rest of India - and the world.

0
//
sikkim
Sikkim, along with Meghalaya, occupies the top two positions in the best performing region of Northeast on women's empowerment index comprising of participation of women in household decisions, ownership of land, cell phones and bank account, and instances of spousal violence. Pixabay

Everyone knows that Sikkim is a small extraordinarily picturesque mountainous state tucked away in the Himalayas in the northeast of India. That indeed it is. Even today, there are only around 650,000 people living in the state. However, much less known about Sikkim to the rest of India – and also the world – is the exceptionally steady and silent progress in improving the lives of ordinary people that the state has recorded over the past two decades.

How did Sikkim achieve this? The obvious answer is that Sikkim, like many countries in the world, has ensured that policies that promote economic opportunities go hand-in-hand with policies that ensure an equitable expansion of health, education, nutrition and essential basic social services.

Less obvious is the critical role of political leadership in ensuring improvements in the lives of people. Ensuring that the additional tax revenues from economic growth are invested in expanding human capabilities does not happen automatically. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling – the longest serving Chief Minister of any Indian state – has prioritized investments in health, education and infrastructure like no other political leader has. After all, ensuring adequate funds for the social sectors is as much a function of the funds available as it is of making it a political priority. Very few political leaders in India and elsewhere recognize the importance of investing in people as Chamling does.

What goes even more unnoticed is the role that women have played in Sikkim’s development success. Traditionally women have enjoyed greater freedom in Sikkim than in many other parts of the country. The Sikkim Human Development Report revealed that the state had the best gender parity performance among the northeastern states, with female labour force participation at 40 per cent, much higher than the national average of around 26 per cent. In recent times, with the support of the state, they have played an active role in various spheres of life.

woman
Traditionally women have enjoyed greater freedom in Sikkim than in many other parts of the country.Pixabay

Sikkim’s women have exercised leadership by taking advantage of the available educational and development opportunities. This is revealed by the progress on multiple indicators from NFHS 3 to NFHS 4 recorded by Sikkim. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4), 41 per cent women in the state have 10 or more years of schooling – much better than the country’s average of 36 per cent. Only 15 per cent women, age 20-24 years, were married before age of 18 years as against the national average of 27 per cent. There are only 3 per cent teenage pregnancies in the state placing Sikkim as the best among the northeastern states. The infant mortality rate in the state is 30 against national average of 34. Sikkim has improved its performance with regard to safe delivery remarkably by 43 per cent points from NFHS 3 to 97 per cent in NFHS 4, the best in northeastern states.

Sikkim, along with Meghalaya, occupies the top two positions in the best performing region of Northeast on women’s empowerment index comprising of participation of women in household decisions, ownership of land, cell phones and bank account, and instances of spousal violence.

Women in Sikkim are more empowered to take decisions than women in other parts of the country. According to NFHS-4, in 2015-16, 85 per cent women have the freedom of movement, including to market, health facility and places outside the village or community compared to national average. Almost all (95 per cent) of currently married women in Sikkim participate in household decisions as against national average of 84 per cent. Nearly 80 per cent women in the state have mobile phones for personal use against 46 per cent at the national level. Close to two-thirds (64 per cent) of women in Sikkim – as against just over half 953 per cent) of women across India – have a bank or savings account that they themselves operate. Only 3 per cent ever married women have ever experience spousal violence as against 29 percent nationally – the lowest across Indian states.

Sikkim has, however, many things to worry about. This includes creating jobs for its young people within the state, improving the quality of education, protecting residents from natural disasters, expanding infrastructure and so on. Equally worrisome is the sharp decline in total fertility rate (TFR) – 1.2 in 2015-16 – which is well below the replacement level of 2.1. This sharp decline in TFR might have also contributed to the worsening of the female-to-male ratio at birth from 984 in 205-06 to 809 in 2015-16.

jobs
Sikkim has, however, many things to worry about. This includes creating jobs for its young people within the state, improving the quality of education, protecting residents from natural disasters, expanding infrastructure and so on. Pixabay

The reduced TFR is not good news as it may result in an age-structural transformation wherein Sikkim, like Kerala, will have to address the challenges of an aging population. This could get manifested in the short supply of workers as well as a further decline in the sex ratio. With shrinking active labour force, Sikkim’s economy could experience loss in economic output and possibly a decline in income levels. There could also be an increase in the elderly dependency ratio and morbidity levels on account of a rise in non-communicable diseases. Sikkim will have to mobilize the resources needed to extend financial support of the elderly and make provisions to address, in particular, their health care needs. It will also have to deal with the challenge of declining fertility rates.

Also Read: Millennium City Is Witnessing Rise In Illegal Trade Of Marijuana

These challenges may not come as a surprise to the political leadership in Sikkim. They should not given how well Chief Minister Chamling and the executive are connected the people. Given the track record, it may be safe to predict that Sikkim might be the first Indian state to offer solutions to the rest of India – and the world. (IANS)

Next Story

Xiaomi May Lose Top Spot in Indian Smartphone Market in 2020

According to IDC, India's smartphone market shipped a record 46.6 million units in the third quarter of 2019, registering 26.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 9.3 per cent year-over-year growth

0
Xiaomi, mi, devices, phones, sale
The highest demand among people was for of smartphones, followed by Mi ecosystem devices, accessories and Mi TVs. Wikimedia Commons

BY GOKUL BHAGABATI

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is confident that it will be able to retain its No. 1 position in the Indian smartphone market next year too, but industry experts believe that the country may see a different winner in 2020.

At the end of the first quarter of 2019, Xiaomi had a market share of 30.6 per cent, far ahead of Samsung, which took the second spot with a share of 22.3 per cent, according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report.

But by the third quarter of 2019, Xiaomi’s market share fell to 27.1 per cent. Samsung too experienced a decline as its share went down to 18.9 per cent, IDC data showed.

“Given the remarkable Q3 2019 strides made by the BBK (parent company of OPPO, Vivo, Realme and OnePlus) brands in India, Xiaomi would need to be wary of the rising competition and the decline in its market share. In the first three quarters of 2019, Xiaomi lost three per cent market share,” Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), told IANS.

Out of the BBK Group brands, Realme’s rise in the Indian smartphone market has been truly spectacular. From 6 per cent market share in Q1 of 2019, it grabbed 14.3 per cent market share at the end of Q3.

Vivo also witnessed its fair share of growth this year. Its share rose from 13 per cent in Q1 to 15.2 per cent in Q3. OPPO did even better than Vivo in terms of growth. OPPO’s share grew from 7.6 per cent in Q1 to 11.8 per cent in Q3, according to IDC.

“As per our estimates, 49 per cent of the sales of smartphones in 2020 will be in the basic segment (Rs 5,001 to Rs 10,000) where Xiaomi is still strong,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst at market research firm techARC.

Xiaomi
Xiaomi is expected to release the foldable phone by the end of 2019. Wikimedia Commons

“The other major chunk is mid-segment (Rs 10,001 to Rs 25,000). Here we have increasingly good number of strong players emerging like Realme, OPPO and Vivo. This segment will sell 44 per cent of smartphones,” Kawoosa said.

Speaking of Xiaomi’s prospects of retaining the No.1 position next year, he said that “looking at the potential and how Xiaomi is positioned, it seems difficult for the brand to retain the honours.”

“It is now on a defensive mode,” he added.

“As Realme comes with new offerings in the mid-tier and premium segment, and OPPO and Vivo also unveil plans to go premium, Xiaomi faces an uphill battle,” Ram agreed.

To retain their numero uno position, Xiaomi would need to go beyond its existing brand imagery and also consolidate its offline play, Ram said.

“Xiaomi has been able to build on their offline play by building their own chain of Mi Stores, apart from their non-exclusive network of Mi Preferred Partners,” he added.

But if Xiaomi loses the top spot in the Indian smartphone market, which brand will replace it?

Xiaomi
Xiaomi also refreshes ‘Mi TV’ series in India. (Wikimedia Commons)

While CMR’s Ram thinks that the question is “wide open right now”, Kawoosa believes that Samsung could resurface as the leader.

“It will take other challenger brands time to cross the 20 per cent mark and eventually aspire to become No 1. In that case, Samsung could resurface as the leader while Xiaomi’s share is being eaten up by Realme and others,” he said.

Ram, however, warned that one cannot underestimate the potential of Realme.

Also Read: Facebook Commits $130 mn to Build Global Oversight Board for Ensuring Accountability

“Realme looks promising and with aggressive strategies, it is potentially well-placed to scale new heights, as long as it is able to avoid inventory glut,” Ram said.

According to IDC, India’s smartphone market shipped a record 46.6 million units in the third quarter of 2019, registering 26.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter and 9.3 per cent year-over-year growth. (IANS)