Saturday, September 29, 2012

Take responsibility to stop sexual assault

Panetta:Leaders Must Stand Against Sexual Assault
"Any sexual assault has no place in military."  
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2012 - Military leaders at all levels must take responsibility to stop sexual assault, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said.

In an interview with NBC's Natalie Morales that aired yesterday, the secretary said, "Any sexual assault has no place in the military."

He continued, "If we don't take steps to deal with it -- if we don't exercise better leadership to confront it -- it'll get worse. And that's why it's really important that we take the responsibility to ensure that it doesn't have a place in the military. I have men and women in the military who put their lives on the line ... to protect this country. Surely we owe it to them to be able to protect them."

Leaders know "that we have to do a better job at dealing with this," the secretary said. "Look, we've got 200,000 women who are in the military. We're trying to open up another 14,000 positions for women, to be able to fully participate."

Those women want to have a career in the military, and have earned the right, he said.

"They're putting their lives on the line," he said. "We've lost 150 during the wars ... 1,000 have been wounded. We owe them the respect, we owe them the honor, of being able to protect them."

The military stands for and defends the values of good order and discipline, he said, which means, "we've got to make sure that women are protected from any kind of assault."

The services have a clear superior-subordinate structure, Panetta noted.

"We can't go to war, we can't fight, we can't protect this country without a strong chain of command," he said. "But that chain of command means there have to be officers, there have to be [noncommissioned officers], there have got to be leaders who say, 'Wait a minute.'"

Leaders must exercise good order and discipline, and speak out against and act to stop certain behaviors, he said.

Panetta noted the department has taken steps to strengthen sexual assault prevention. For example, he said, department policy now allows a sexual assault victim to rapidly transfer from an assigned unit where the assault happened.

"Secondly, we've made clear that you can't just have a unit commander handle this kind of situation; it's got to be moved up to a senior commander ... who will exercise greater responsibility in bringing that [sexual assault perpetrator] to justice," he said.

Thirdly, he said, "We've got to improve the investigations ... have special victims units. And we're putting that in place."

Training is also critical, the secretary said. "We've got to do better training for both the recruits and the commanders," he added. "So that they're aware that this is a real problem."

What's happening in the military is also a societal problem, Panetta said. "We see alcohol playing a role in these areas. We see ... the abuse, the disrespect that's involved -- and the fact is, rape is rape. And it has to be dealt with in a serious manner, and sometimes that's downplayed in the society."

All of those factors lead to "a situation where you can have this kind of power game," he said. "Where people are put into vulnerable positions, and it all plays out. It plays out in society, and it plays out in the military."

He said the only way to prevent that abuse of power is to have strong leaders at every level who stand against it and say, "This has to stop."

Punishing offenders is also important, Panetta said.

"It's an outrage that we aren't prosecuting our people involved here," Panetta responded when Morales noted that 240 cases were prosecuted out of the more than 3,000 reported last year.

The secretary acknowledged assault prosecutions are "tough cases."

"But the fact is we can do this," he said. "We need to improve the investigations and ... we need to ensure that we have [military] prosecutors who are willing to bring these cases to court and make sure that these people don't get away."

The secretary said he opposes turning military sexual assault cases over to civilian courts. "We have a military justice system. We have to enforce good order and good standards," he said. "If somebody hits somebody, or somebody robs somebody, or somebody commits an act on a battlefield that's wrong, we've got to prosecute those people. We have a responsibility to do that. The same thing is true of sexual assault."

The "vast majority" of service members operate on a deep level of mutual trust, Panetta noted.

"Sexual assault can't be a part of that," he added. "We're the ones who have to make sure that doesn't happen."

The secretary said from the top reaches of the Defense Department down to the platoon and squad level, his message is that leaders must take responsibility.

"Frankly, part of this is also moving women into command positions," he added.

Panetta said he's confident the department can make progress against sexual assault.

"This is an issue I, as secretary of defense, am committed to making sure we confront," he said.  
Take responsibility to stop sexual assault

Leon E. Panetta

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Electric rickshaws

A new effort for economically backward women 
The Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah at the launch of the programme to provide environment friendly electric rickshaws to economically backward women, in New Delhi on September 06, 2012.  (PIB Photo)  06-September-2012

A Dazzling Success Story

India’s Gems & Jewellery Industry
                                                                                                                                                 Courtesy Photo
India’s gems and jewellery industry is a bright star of the economy, and one of the important foundations of the country’s export-led growth. It is a leading foreign exchange earner and one of the fastest growing sectors, which accounted for 14 per cent of India’s total merchandise exports during FY 2011-12. The industry has registered a remarkable growth over the last four decades, with exports growing from US$ 28 million in 1966-67 when the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council ( GJEPC) was established, to US$ 42.84 billion in FY 2011-12.

Diamonds account for 54 per cent of the total export basket of the industry, with gold jewellery contributing 38 per cent and coloured gemstones and others contributing 1 per cent each, whereas rough diamond contributes 4 per cent of the total share. The industry is a truly global one, with both suppliers and buyers from many different countries.

The UAE ( 44 per cent), Hong Kong ( 25 per cent) and USA ( 12 per cent) are among the major buyers, while Belgium, which accounts for 21.55 per cent of all imports of raw materials, is by far the major supplier.

Diamonds : Undisputed Leadership
A major contributor to the creditable performance of the industry is the massive diamond manufacturing sector, which employs nearly one million people across the country. India exported cut and polished diamonds worth US$ 23.30 billion in 2011-12.

The industry has grown from its small origins in the ‘50s and has established itself as the world’s largest manufacturing centre of cut and polished diamonds for the last many years, contributing 60 per cent of the world’s supply in terms of value, 85 per cent in terms of volume. Eleven out of every 12 diamonds set in jewellery worldwide, are processed in India, mainly around Mumbai, Surat and Jaipur. This feat has been possible due to various factors.  At the forefront is the skill of the Indian artisan.  The relentless efforts of Indian entrepreneurs, who took on the daunting task of setting up this industry, has contributed to its growth in no small measure. Indian diamantaires have gone on to create a marketing network worldwide, which is truly mind-boggling.  Added to this is the strong financial base of the industry and support of financial institutions of the country.

Today, after creating a niche for itself in the diamond world with small diamonds, India is developing skills for cutting and polishing larger stones and fancy cuts. Indian diamond polishing factories are on a par with the world’s best and are at the cutting edge of technology using laser machines, computerized yield planning machines, advanced bruiting lathes, etc.

Jewellery: Brilliant Impact

In the recent past, it is in the jewellery sector that India has made a brilliant impact, emerging as the fastest growing jewellery exporter in the world, averaging a growth of nearly 15-20 per cent each year over the last decade. Exports of gold jewellery in 2011-12 touched US$ 16.5 billion from just US$ 486 million in 1994-95.

However, the development of the branded jewellery segment is still in its rudimentary stage, mainly because the traditional jewellery has been dominated by home grown retail enterprises or the concept of the family jeweller. The Hall Marking of jewellery introduced by the Bureau of Indian Standards to institutionalize global bench marking in quality assurance and to prevent against frauds will go a long way in building a reliable Brand India.  A few Indian jewellery brands are marking their global footprints, having entrenched themselves in the domestic market.

The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council

The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1966, has played a significant role in the evolution of the industry to its present stature by effectively moulding the scattered efforts of individual exporters into a powerful engine driving the country’s export-led growth.  Today, the Council has 5,300 members spread all over the country.

           The Council undertakes direct promotional activities such as organizing joint participation in international jewellery shows, sending and hosting trade delegations, and sustained image building exercise through advertisements abroad, publications, audio visuals/corporate literature, members’ directory, etc.

It also directly aids intra-regional investments by encouraging co-operation and joint ventures in jewellery manufacturing, especially in the various EPZs/SEZs created by the Ministry of Commerce which offer special facilities for Foreign Direct Investments in Jewellery units through foreign collaborations and partnerships.

The Government, recognizing the the inherent strengths of this sector in terms of its employability potential has taken major initiatives to strengthen institutional linkages. Enhancing the skill levels of the workers commensurate with the requirement of the industry tops the agenda and two such centres are being set up at Domjur in West Bengal and Khambat in Gujarat.

The Government is also encouraging global partnerships and collaborative ventures for adopting a diversified approach in the jewellery sector. A collaboration with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre has also been sought to strengthen skills in diamond and gem stones grading, certification, research and development, cutting and polishing and setting up state-of-the –art training centres in India.

India International Jewellery Week & India International Jewellery Show
The Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, in its endeavour to promote India as the “Innovation & Design Destination” for jewellery, presents the India International Jewellery week (IIJW).  It is a five day extravaganza of 32 shows brought together major jewellery designers of India.  IIJW is an initiative to showcase India’s finest in jewellery, be it design or innovation supported by top of the line craftsmanship, technology and quality, to customers around the globe.

The Jewellery week is followed by the India International Jewellery Show, which has grown significantly to become the second largest Jewellery Expo in the Asia –Pacific region. It has acquired the reputation of being the most prominent sourcing show in India, evincing great participation from exhibiters, exporters, buyers and trade visitors. The 29th edition of the India International Jewellery Show, which was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Mr.Anand Sharma on August 23,  has attracted participation of over 800 exhibitors with 1800 stalls, with exclusive country pavilions of Thailand, Israel, Turkey, Belgium and UAE.

The India International Jewellery Show represents an amalgam of the ingenuity of handcraft, skill, technology, innovation and creativity of our brilliant minds truly making India.

Looking Ahead

The global market for Gems and Jewellery today is over USD 100 billion with jewellery manufacturing dominated by a handful of countries, namely- Italy, China, Thailand, USA and India. Although India is the global factory of cutting and polishing diamonds, the trading hubs are located in the bye lanes of Antwerp and Belgium where this trade is shared by Jews and Gujarati’s. The setting up of the Diamond Bourse in Mumbai –amongst the largest bourses in the world, at par with international standards is expected to ensure India’s strategic shift as a leading diamond trading market in Asia.  The vision is to make India the Global Jewellery Hub and world’s one stop destination for diamonds, gems, gold and jewellery, in the years to come.   (PIB Features.)                                                     
27-August-2012 18:00 IST
Click here to see picture


PIB Mumbai Feature.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Priyadarshini Awards -2012

Trade Liberalization & its Global Impact on Women
The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women and Child Development, Smt. Krishna Tirath presented the Priyadarshini Awards -2012, at the valedictory session of 12th Global Conference on “Trade Liberalization and its Global Impact on Women Entrepreneurs”, in New Delhi on September 05, 2012. (PIB)                                   05-September-2012