Ananta International Fellowship, 2014 – Deadline Approaching

One of my most fruitful intellectual ventures was as the Avantha International Fellow at Aspen Institute India. It is an experience I will encourage every international student to strive towards.

At Aspen Institute India

Ananta Centre, formerly part of Aspen Institute India, continuing in its endeavour to add value to society through participatory leadership, is proud to announce the Ananta Centre – Avantha International Fellowship 2014.

This unique fellowship will continue as an innovation lab for knowledge sharing and capacity building for international students during summer 2014.

 The selected fellows will be placed in Ananta Centre’s New Delhi office over a period of two months in the time frame of 1 June – 15 September, 2014 (dates are flexible to accommodate international university schedule) and exposed to India’s policy landscape. The fundamental aim is to foster prospective leaders and increase their responsiveness to national and international issues facing India. 

Are you interested or you know someone who could be interested. Then do well by informing and encouraging then  to apply for this unique fellowship opportunity. Last date for applications is 25th May, 2014.

 For further details, please contact ramit.grover@anantacentre.in

The United Kingdom In Immigration Gimmicks

January 1, 2014 is finally here and if one is to go by all the buzz and hype that has been going on in the British media, then the streets of the UK are undoubtedly going to be cluttered with an avalanche of Bulgarians and Romanians who are claimed will be stealing, begging and pick-pocketing. But as the charade has been going on, I have not ceased to wonder what immigration really means for the UK and the immigrant.

immigration

What it Means for the UK

There is no doubt that one of the most visible effects of globalisation has been the massive shift in the global demand for labour. The creation of new work opportunities in many richer economies in recent years, due to the shifts in type of industries could account for this. At the same time, lack of development and the absence of employment opportunities in poorer economies have created a labour force more eager, and able, to migrate to take advantage of these opportunities. The result of this has been a significant expansion of global mobility. The willingness of immigrant workers and their strong work ethic means that employers will be all too happy to have them work in the most demanding jobs, as was evident in the construction of the UK 2012 Olympic facilities.

It is argued that the movement of people from Europe to North America in the Nineteenth century did more to raise and equalise incomes than trade and capital flows and that in recent years, the Indian Diaspora in the United States for example, acted as an important catalyst to India’s breakthrough into the global market for e-services. This could only mean one thing, they were actively contributing to the economy of the United States. Looking at immigration from this perspective, it is therefore a positive sum game and as the Bulgarian President rightly pointed out, the UK also stands to benefit (if not more) from an influx of immigrants and will instead be at risk of isolation with tougher immigration policies.

If this were the case, then why is all this moaning in the UK about? While it is true that many people get to the UK because they consider it a place where they can tap into opportunities and better the lives of family members they left in their home countries, it is also true that anyone who strives to fulfil this objective will have to contribute massively to the British economy. Anything short of this will mean a backlash too terrible to describe.

The Existential Reality

The first impression given to the outside world is that in the UK, there are jobs simply waiting to be filled in.

Stats
Source: ONS

These statistics provided by the Office of National Statistics may show that there has been some improvements from previous years but this that not mean there has been a glut. For example, the ONS states that

  • The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.5%, down 0.1 percentage points from November 2012 to January 2013 but up 0.7 percentage points from a year earlier. There were 29.76 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 24,000 from November 2012 to January 2013 and up 432,000 from a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 7.8% of the economically active population, unchanged from November 2012 to January 2013 but down 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier. There were 2.51 million unemployed people, down 5,000 from November 2012 to January 2013 and down 88,000 from a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.4%, up 0.1 percentage points from November 2012 to January 2013 but down 0.5 from a year earlier. There were 8.99 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, up 40,000 from November 2012 to January 2013 but down 199,000 from a year earlier.
  • Total pay rose by 1.3% compared with February to April 2012. Regular pay rose by 0.9% over the same period.

These statistics mean that there are millions of British citizens who are looking for jobs but cannot get them. And if this is so simply put, it may tend to justify the argument that immigrants are coming in to take the jobs of British people. But is this really the case? Of course not… For, how can a person take what does not exist? The fact is that before ever a job is given to an immigrant, it is certain that there are no British people to do them. In the first instance, even a cleaning job in the UK requires previous cleaning experience – which must have been gotten in the UK for a period of six months. How  then does an immigrant who has just entered the UK amass six months experience, that is the basic prerequisite for unskilled work? The paradox beats me.

I remember vividly how I had to pay for training to become a cleaner and caterer, which meant I had to spend close to six months searching for my first part-time job while studying. This makes me to ask the question: if with all the specialist experience I had prior to coming to the UK, I could not secure unskilled work for a long period (and this happens to have been the case with almost all of us who were studying then) how possible is it that claims can be made about jobs being taken by immigrants? It would be only fitting therefore, if the British politicians and policy makers could be generous to add, that there are some immigrants who have no recourse to public funds, and who spend a lot of money in the UK within their first few months without getting anything from the system. Shocking as it may sound, most often, the first few months spent by most migrants outside the EU who come to the UK tends to be a zero sum game – the sole beneficiary of course is the UK.

The Illogicality of the Benefits Argument

I know that most people who are now reading this will already be arguing that migrants from other parts of the EU come to the UK to enjoy the largesse of the welfare system. This thinking defies common logic because British citizens who are living on benefits have a standard of living not much different from those of ordinary working people from other parts of Europe. How then would a person exchange one form of shoddy living for another?  Would a person really travel hundreds or thousands of miles, with the objective of living a better life, choose to live on benefits in the UK? Lets face it, that simply does not make sense.

While there is no doubt that some EU citizens will take advantage of the British welfare system, this can only be for a short term, if they really hope to improve their lives and that of those they left behind in their countries of origin.

Why the Hullabaloo about Immigration

If my thinking is anything to go by, why the fuss about immigration? I can think of only two reasons – fear and publicity.

If Net Migration is actually falling, why the fuss?
If Net Migration is actually falling, why the fuss?

First, the history of the UK is rife with exploitation of other countries. The UK went across the world, grabbed from many countries and helped build their empire. Today, the thought of others coming in simply makes them think that it could be for the same reasons. No wonder there has been bold assertions that Romanians are coming to steal, beg and pickpocket from British people.

Another reason for the immigration fuss could be publicity. The more the British media and politicians talk about immigration, the more the message is sent out across the world that it is a highly-sought destination. This can only mean one thing, the UK needs immigrants more than they are willing to acknowledge. There is no gainsaying the fact that migrants constitute a solid part of UK higher education earnings. It will also be a fair statement to say that without immigrants certain parts of the British economy will slowly grind to a halt.

Leave

There is little wonder then that British policy makers and politicians are sounding ‘the horn on the borders’ to call the people to support the notion of cutting immigration only because they have an axe to grind.

Cameroon: Africa in Miniature – In what Sense?

During the past few weeks I have had occasion to introduce myself to many people and three out of these remarked when I mentioned I was from Cameroon “you guys have a great football team! What is that guy’s name again… Roger Milla’…. and that was it. They knew nothing else about Cameroon. In a way it is a relief that I did not get to be asked whether there is war in my country or some of those obnoxious questions. The reason for this lack of information is not far from the fact that today, the world thrives in reporting on negative things and leaving out the good ones. Hence, I was really intrigued by this beautiful piece written by Ekango Afoh Rhoda of the Royal Concept Travels which gives a person a reason to visit Cameroon other than as a NGO worker or a researcher.

REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT CAMEROON

Planning a trip to Africa anytime soon?   Guess what? You have the unique opportunity of visiting the whole of Africa just by planning a trip to one country- CAMEROON.  Sounds intriguing right? You most be asking yourself right now-how’s that possible? Let me tell how.

Map of Cameroon

First things first – English and French are official languages, a heritage of Cameroon’s colonial past as both a colony of the United Kingdom and France from 1916 to 1960. This means that two of the most popular languages in the world are spoken in Cameroon. Canada is the only other country that has these two languages.

– But more intriguing is that Cameroon is home to 230 languages. These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, two Nilo-Saharan languages, and 173 Niger-Congo languages. This latter group is divided into one West Atlantic language (Fulfulde), 32 Adamawa-Ubangui languages, and 142 Benue-Congo languages (130 of which are Bantu languages).

Now to the more interesting bit…

Tourist literature describes Cameroon as “Africa in miniature” because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the continent: coast, desert, mountains, rainforest, and savanna. The land is consisted of flat plains, mountains and coastal plain. It is a volcanic prone area as well. Therefore the soil is rich in minerals. The natural resources of the county are timber, gemstone, oil, gas, phosphate, iron ore, manganese etc.

Want to find out more, then plan a trip to Cameroon and you will not be short of things to do and places to visit. Below are but a few of the touristic attractions you should be looking forward to visiting:

South West Region

Buea:-Mount Cameroon (Mount Fako) , commonly called “the

Mount Fako
Mount Fako

he chariots of the gods’’ its an amazing tourist site,and one of Africa’s largest volcanoes, rising to 4,040 meters (13,255 ft) above the coast of west Cameroon. Every year, people travel from all around the world to participate in the mount Cameroon race, either as spectators or runners. The race is hosted by

Mount Fako (Mount Cameroon)
Mount Fako (Mount Cameroon)

the government and sponsored by Guinness Cameroon, attracting over 2000 participants from around the world.

Limbe (Victoria):- while in Limbe you get to see a Zoo, Sun and Beaches. Limbe beaches :(Black sand Beaches at Semme and Ngeme,Batoke), limbe Botanic Garden covers nearly 48 hectares area. Presently it is a perfect garden to meet the requirements of science, education, recreation and tourism. This garden remains open for all. Limbe Botanic Garden in Cameroon is an ideal spot for nature lovers. The peaceful atmosphere will refresh your soul in no time. The backdrop of Mount Cameroon enhance the beauty of the garden.

Limbe Botanical Gardens
Limbe Botanical Gardens
Black Sand Beach Limbe
Black Sand Beach Limbe

MUNDEMBA:-Korup is Africa’s oldest and most diverse rainforest. Established in 1986, Korup National Park covers an area of 1,260 km² between Mundemba and Eyumojock in the South West Province of Cameroon. More than 620 species of trees and shrubs and at least 480 species of herbs and climbers have so far been recorded. Korup is the single richest lowland site in Africa for birds (more than 400 species), herpetofauna (82 reptiles and 92 amphibians) and butterflies (around 1,000 species). There are in addition 130 different species of fish and more than 160 mammals. Many of them are endangered and some are found nowhere else on earth.

 Hanging Bridge at Korup National Park

Hanging Bridge at Korup National Park

 

 

North West Region

Woodcraft in Bamenda
Woodcraft in Bamenda

Bamenda :-Just on your way to the North West you see Amazing landscapes  that will blow your mind, and take you to another world. You will get to see its beautiful Palaces and Fondoms e.g the Bafut chiefdom one of the most beautiful palaces in the traditional Northwest region with particular organization architecture. You could see the ‘’Talking Drum’ ’visit the museum and the palace and attend the mask traditional dance (Juju).visit places like Mankon, Babanki Tungo with its famous Sabga Hill; the Babungo Palace one of the greatest kingdoms of the plain and Ndop famous for its rich museums.

A Section of Sabga Hill
A Section of Sabga Hill

 Awing: one of the small villages in the North West Region but leaving without visiting there will not be fair it has and amazing landscape beautiful sceneries and  a  mysterious lake ‘’Awing Lake’’. The touristic attraction to Cameroon lakes over many years has been phenomenal. People are attracted to their eerie appearance, and bizarre stories. Most of these lakes are found in the Northwest region in Cameroon, spread across different tribes. They are believed to harbor ancestors and spirits which are worshiped as gods. However, the entire experience in visiting the lake is completely fascinating.  Lake Awing is the most sacred place in the Northwest village Awing. The lake is exceptionally still

Lake Awing
Lake Awing

during the day and glitters under a bright sunlight. Only certain areas are open for swimming but the lake is generally kept sacred for yearly sacrifices to the gods of the village.Myths have it that the water travels at night and anyone passing by it at a certain hour in the night will see lighted houses in the place of the water. These houses are reputed to be the residence of the ancestral spirits. However, curiosity is not advised. The lake is easily accessible by road given that it is found in the heart of Awing, which is a village with car roads.

Far North  Region

Elephants
Elephants

Garoua:-you get to visit one of the most famous arks in the country known as the ‘’Waza Park’ ’Founded in 1934,covers a total of 1,700 sq km, was instituted as a National Park in 1968.The Waza park is home to Giraffes, Antelopes, Elephants ,lions, Over 379 species of birds have been recorded in the park. Lions have been celebrated throughout history for their courage and strength, dreaming to be in direct contact with the  big wild Cats of Africa? Visiting Waza turns your dreams to realities.

Waza Wild Cats
Waza Wild Cats

Rhumsiki:-  a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon. Rhumsiki is located in the Mandara Mountains 55 km (34 mi) from Mokolo and 3 km (2 mi) from the border with Nigeria. Surroundings are “one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.” The spectacular effect is created by surrounding volcanic plugs (the remnants of long-dormant volcanoes), basalt outcroppings, and the Mandara Mountains. Get the chance to see Hippopotamus ponds. Pursuit, visiting assistant crabs that will predict your future with amazing accuracy, visit potters and weavers to discover their wonderful work.

Rhumsiki peak
Rhumsiki peak

East Region

Untainted Cameroonians
Untainted Cameroonians

Here you meet a people still very in touch with its tradition. Historically, the peoples of the East have been settled in Cameroonian territory for longer than any other of the country’s many ethnic groups, the first inhabitants being the Baka (or Babinga) pygmies. Though traditionally  hunter-gatherers, in recent times, the Baka have established trade with their Bantu neighbors, exchanging wild game for crops or metal tools. Pygmies believe that a god named Tore created the world and is the supreme being. He is identified with the forest, since everything is dependent on it. They only call upon Tore during times of crisis. He is usually summoned by a trumpet blast, which is supposed to imitate his voice. Some groups believe that

Eastern Region
Eastern Region

after creating the first humans, Tore was no longer interested in the affairs of the world, and so he withdrew to the sky.Pygmies also believe that “forest spirits” influence the souls of the dead. The Efe, in particular, believe that after Pygmies die, their borupi, which means “rhythm” or “life,” is carried away from the body by a fly. They believe the fly takes them to Tore.

Center Region

Yaoundé
Yaoundé

Yaoundé:- founded in 1888 by German traders as a base for the ivory trade and as an agricultural research station. It was occupied by Belgian troops during World War I. After Germany’s defeat, France became the colonial power in eastern Cameroon. Yaoundé consequently became the capital of French Cameroon, and continued as the capital of the Republic of Cameroon at independence. With a pop of approximately 2.5 million, the second largest city in the country after the port city Douala. Visit the Mvog Betsi Zoo-botanic garden.

Kribi:- It has an estimated population of 55401. [1] It services sea traffic in the Gulf of Guinea and also lies near the terminus of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. The Lobé Waterfalls are nearby and there is a road inland, through the Littoral Evergreen Forest, as far as Lolodorf.Visit of the cascade lobe(the only place where a waterfalls enters the Atlantic Ocean by a waterfall).Beautiful scenery of sea and beautiful sandy beach. You definitely will love  to eat fresh seafood. Visit the Museum of grand Batanga with varied and diversified objects.

Kribi Beautiful Beach
Kribi Beautiful Beach

The tourism industry is currently under going rapid growth of unsurpassed nature and Cameroon is moving along with that pace. Like most countries in Africa Cameroon remains still unknown to the world beyond negative reports of wars and famine. However it has lot to offer, we could go on and on just naming the varied touristic sites Cameroon has got to offer, but we will not be able to name it all. These are just few of the Beautiful sites you will be privileged to visit should you plan a trip to Cameroon. Thanks to its vast diversity, during a trip in Cameroon one is left with the impression of visiting the whole of Africa at the same time.

Pick up you Calendar and start scheduling for your next vacation to Cameroon you will be left breathless and you just might be planning a lifetime in Cameroon.