Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Kashmir - The Desolated Heaven

Kashmir - The Desolated Heaven 

By: Syed Liyaqat 

Desolated streets and empty hearts 

Made the people begin starving.

 

Far from the lord, dwelling, and dwarf

Shed their shells, made them apart.

 

From that humanity and that craft

Would have chosen the Almighty Lord.

 

Forgotten the dreams, that they had

Took a sigh from the mother's lap.

 

Hold on tyrant, let me gasp

Try your best, defeat me last.

 

O my Lord, hold me up

Save my soul, save my craft.

 

I am the one who took that map

Heading towards freedom and that lap.

 

O my Lord, save my craft, save my soul 

O Almighty Lord.


One Year Ago, India Killed Mainstream Politics In Kashmir, And ...

Monday, July 27, 2020

Stories

This is in no way to criticize those who are privileged, this is to criticize those who remain silent despite being privileged. If you aren't human enough to raise your voice for others, then you are not human at all.


Stories

By Anna Johnson


There's a story

A story you don't know.

There's pain

There's blood

There are tears stuck to the window

Like you're stuck to your privilege.

There are screams

As loud as the music you play.

There is anger

As angry as you are when you don't get what you want.

There is sadness

As sad as you are for life not going your way.

There is ignorance

From the ones who drown in power.

There is silence

From the ones who can't climb out of their privileged walls.

And then there is the story.

The story of them and you

You.

You see Christmas with lights

You see joy and happiness

You see sadness for seconds until it is gone

You see food

You see a roof

You see life, a future, a past to cherish.

Them.

They see despair

They see blood at their dining table

They see pain at their porch

Bedrooms with the screams of lost souls

Children don't play outside

Oh no, they don't.

There is pain and hurting

On all our stories

But yours.

Yours is a story they'll remember.

Theirs is a story many will forget like it was fiction

Another page to history.

Until you crawl through the silence

Crawl through the silence and scream.

And scream.


black and brown typewriter



Friday, July 24, 2020

The Death Of World's Largest Democracy

By Badra Abbas & Alazne Qaisar

THE DEATH OF WORLD’S LARGEST DEMOCRACY


“There is a great deal of intolerance and hatred in this world, but there isn’t enough hatred towards intolerance”-Alazne 


India’s treatment of minorities and in particular her Muslim population has recently surfaced on the international stage as a trend towards systemic oppression, suppression of cultural and religious identities, a rise in intolerance and discrimination. 
Nearing the end of February, communal violence exploded in Delhi, with Hindu nationalist mobs targeting Muslims, their businesses and communities. The death toll was reportedly as high as 50 (around 37 Muslims) and hundreds were injured. The events in New Delhi marked the worst violence in more than 30 years, and it began when people peacefully protested against the new Citizenship Amendment Act (or CAA). The BJP party, the current head of the Indian government characterized these protesters as traitors, which ignited days of violence. Muslims and protesters unable to escape were killed or burned by nationalist Hindu mobs. The response from the government, in light of this appalling violence, was not only late but incredibly ineffective. Prime Minister Narendra Modi waited days before responding to the violence, before feebly calling for peace with a tweet. 

India is the largest democracy in the world, a secular state containing a multitude of cultures and religions. Despite this manufactured global persona, India holds two positions on the genocide Watch List: for the state of Assam and the previously semi-autonomous region of Kashmir. Countries are placed on the list when the early stages of genocide occur or a significant threat to an ethnic or religious group is suspected. 

India has a long and bloody history of sectarian conflict, and under the ultra-nationalist BJP government, who has been running India since 2014, the levels of violence have only increased. According to an IndiaSpend analysis of data from the home ministry, under Modi's leadership occurrences of communal violence have increased by 28% between 2014-2017. In the years 2012-2019, there have been 168 attacks by extremists in the name of protecting cows, leaving 46 people dead. On the internet, horrific videos circulate, showing Muslims being beaten and tortured while police watch or participate. Accounts of police brutality or apathy have emerged, demonstrating a new reality, the end of Indian democracy.


If the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hitler’s  National Socialist German Workers' Party are compared, many similarities would be noticed. Firstly, both parties initially campaigned on economic promises, coupled with an aggressive form of nationalism and scapegoating. The BJP not only followed the same campaign strategy, but many key party members and supporters are open about their extreme dislike of Muslims and other religious minorities. For example, BJP leader Rajeshwar Singh vowed in 2014 to wipe out Indian Muslims and Christians by December 31, 2021. Would a man like Rajeswar Singh align himself with a democratic and secular-minded party? If the RSS, one of the militant branches of the BJP, is examined, many of the same troubling beliefs are present. Many of the faction’s operations mirror the actions of the Nazi paramilitary wing, the brown shirts, or Sturmabteilung. This violent right-wing group has participated in and incited many violent altercations and attacks since its founding. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that both the founding head MS Golwalkar and notorious member VD Savarkar were admirers of Hitler’s “cultural nationalism” and his policies concerning Jews. Consequently, the core principle of the RSS is Hindutva, which claims that India is a nation of Hindus, for Hindus alone. 

Even if PM Modi’s allies and supporters are disregarded, he espouses anti-minority sentiments and has been accused of involvement in a massacre. In 2002, PM Modi held a different position as chief minister of Gujarat. That same year, a train carriage carrying Hindu pilgrims caught fire and killed 58 people. Without any corroborating evidence, he immediately declared it the work of the Pakistani government or Muslim traitors, despite a later official inquiry reporting that it was likely accidental. But the damage was done. Riots killed more than 1000 people, almost 800 of them being Muslims, Muslim women were raped and murdered, while the state government declared a three-day strike. Narendra Modi and the government were suspected of ordering the police to stand by, earning Modi the title Butcher of Gujarat. While he was never formally charged for his alleged involvement, and an investigation concluded nothing, the U.S. still banned him from entry until he became the Prime Minister. To this day, allegations against him and party members are heard and dismissed in courts. 

Is this the kind of leader who wins landslide victories in a democratic nation? One that has never been cleared of his involvement in an atrocious massacre? What does it say about India, where such violence is justified in the name of patriotism? Does the rhetoric of ethnic cleansing not remind anyone of the Rohingya massacres or the Holocaust? When the BJP calls Muslims anti-state actors and terrorists, can the parallels to the Armenian genocide be ignored?

Many of the administration's greatest supporters seem to suggest that economic growth outweighs human life, and even if fundamental morality is removed, the Indian economy has not improved during the BJP reign. In December 2019, before the COVID-19 crash, India’s GDP grew 4.5%, the lowest rate in 5 years. Demonetisation has been devastating, as has the new goods and services tax Modi implemented. Since 2014, the previous narrative regarding economic improvements has been abandoned, and the focus has shifted to nationalist propaganda. Experts now speculate that Modi will double down on his efforts to dehumanize Muslims, another key stage of genocide. 

But for a moment, let us change the focus to something Modi has done, which would strip Muslims in India of citizenship. His party has passed two bills, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the NRC or National Register of Citizens. 

CAA makes it easier for people of every significant South Asian religion except for Islam to become Indian citizens. So Hindus living in Pakistan would be fast-tracked, but Muslims from Pakistan, or anywhere, would struggle to attain citizenship. This bill directly contradicts Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which bars discrimination based on religion, caste, sex, and place of birth. A second bill is the National Register of Citizens.  On paper, its purpose is to identify illegal immigrants in India. In reality, its basis appears to be the disenfranchisement of Muslims who live in India, such as the Bengali Muslims in Assam. In August of 2019, 2 million people were disenfranchised, and it does not end there. More than 4 million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared illegal foreigners. Ironically, the majority of Muslims have lived in India for generations. Some, like an army officer, Mohammed Sanuallah have fought for the Indian army. The stripping away of protections and rights is eerily similar to the removal of the Rohingya's rights before the mass killing. A massive detention camp is under construction, and at least six are currently operational in the state of Assam. History has indicated that detention camps are not typically interested in the welfare of people labelled traitors or illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, even Muslims who have lived in India for generations might not have proper documentation, due to poor literacy and a lack of birth registrations in rural and impoverished areas. These people would become stateless and stripped of constitutional protections. It would also be deeply unfair if the register was discriminatory, needlessly punishing people, and driving some to suicide, by declaring them illegal in their own home. NRC is a severe threat to the safety, right to citizenship, and any protections millions of Muslims were once guaranteed. The legislation also effectively destroys any chance of political participation and a change in how the country is governed. In addition to these existing problems, it is against Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which allows people to have a nationality, and protects them from being arbitrarily stripped of their nationality. 

As the crimes committed upon innocent people in Kashmir have emerged (torture, rape, beatings, and an end to journalistic freedoms), it is becoming clear that the violence in India is only going to get worse. 


Kashmir-- Saffronising The Land
Condensing the turbulent history of Kashmir, a disputed territory marred by decades of unrest and violence into a page would be impossible. But to look at Kashmir in the current sphere of the discrimination and rise in intolerance within India is something that peaked less than a year ago. 
On August 6th, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 and 35A followed by months of lockdown, internet and communications shutdown, cancellation of flights and the arrest of several Kashmiri leaders. Jammu & Kashmir was stripped of its statehood and Ladakh separated into union territories. 

Article 370 and 35A
Article 370 was the foundation of Kashmir’s accession to India in 1947. Former princely states had the option of acceding to Pakistan or India after gaining independence from the British. Kashmir acceded to India on the condition that a referendum or plebiscite must be conducted in the future under the UN to allow Kashmiris to determine their fate and the future of their land. This referendum was never delivered. Article 370 gave Kashmir a certain level of autonomy, with the region adhering to its own constitution rather than the Indian constitution. Article 35A allowed Kashmir to operate under its own jurisdiction in defining permanent residents of the land, property ownership and rights. It prohibited outsiders from purchasing land, holding government positions or winning education scholarships in the land. Many international law experts called the abrogation unconstitutional as the State Legislative Assembly was dissolved earlier since the BJP- PDP (People’s Democratic Party) coalition government saw BJP exit thereby leaving no clear majority in the house. Any changes to the laws affecting Kashmir have to be enacted in the presence of the State Legislative Assembly. 

As the region went under lockdown, any and all protests were suppressed, mobility was restricted, all flights were cancelled and major leaders such as Omar and Farooq Abdullah (National Conference leaders) were jailed. Mehbooba Mufti the PDP leader and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir were also jailed despite her party’s alliance with the BJP. Supporters of the decision raise the argument that the abrogation of the article will open doors to economic development and prosperity while critics argue that the move is to suppress India’s only Muslim majority region and change its demographics. 

Army Atrocities
Kashmir is the world’s most militarised zone with almost 950,000 army members in the region. The promised rainbow of economic development while a sanctioned lockdown, deprival of internet services and the arrest of Kashmiri journalists have created a farrago of prospering BJP interests and marginalisation of Kashmiris. As more army members were stationed in Kashmir after last year’s decision to abrogate the articles, people around the world are compelled to believe in the militarised settler-colonial sentiments that have carried the legacy of past central governments before. The army has routinely oppressed and committed war crimes in the valley. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, the army has "assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks". The Indian forces have also used rape as a means of torture. The incident concerning the soldiers of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the Indian Army raping 23 women during a search operation in Kunan Poshpora village in Kuphwara district is one of the well-known cases of crimes against humanity in the region. In 1990, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was enacted in the Indian parliament which gives unprecedented power to the army including limited to no accountability for security forces with cases of human rights violations according to Amnesty International. The army has also brutally massacred Kashmiris several times with some notable examples being: 

  • Kupwara massacre- On 27 January 1994 the Indian Army fired at and killed 27 civilians in Kupwara district.
  • Hawal massacre- At the funeral of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq (a religious leader) on 21 May 1990 over 60 civilians were killed by paramilitary forces and hundreds injured as troops began firing on the funeral procession indiscriminately.
  • Handwara massacre- On 25 January 1990, two BSF patrolling parties in Handwara fired at peaceful protesters and killed 25 people, injuring several.

Enforced disappearances and mass graves taint the valley as a State Human Rights Commission inquiry in 2011 confirmed the existence of thousands of bullet-ridden bodies buried in unmarked graves in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the 2730 bodies found in 4 of the 14 districts, 574 bodies were identified as missing locals, a contrast to the Indian governments claims that all the graves belong to foreign militants. In 2007, US officials raised the alarm on the use of torture by the Indian army in Kashmir and in 2012, a notable human rights lawyer, Parvez Imroz, along with his colleagues began the study of torture used by the army against Kashmiris accounting for crimes against humanity. His report detailed how torture against Kashmiris is both endemic and systematic. The report outlines that one in six Kashmiris have faced torture. In Imroz's study sample of 50 villages, more than 2,000 cases of torture were documented, and he found that there were 50 centres run by the army where torture is practised since 1989. For the first time in history, on 14 June 2018, the UN human rights council released a report of 49 pages on human rights violations in Kashmir and accused both stakeholder nations--India and Pakistan on the issue. 

The overall rudimentary hypocrisy embedded within the motivation for the BJP to continue its suppression of Kashmiri voices by imposing a lockdown, blocking all communication services and abrogating laws without consulting the Kashmiris themselves, is a move towards cultural genocide and homogenisation of society to alienate minorities. BJP leader Amit Shah exclaimed in a rally on how the current situation in Kashmir and the ‘prosperity’ that will follow are indicative of integrating Kashmiris and instilling nationalism within the valley. 

How can India expect Kashmiris to chant “Hail Modi, Hail India” after the unapologetic and brazen decision that ruptured the fabric of accession and its terms, trust between two nations? When Kashmiri children are being snatched away from their childhood, tattooed by blinding pellets, when fathers are taken away at the midnight hour, houses burnt down, women widowed. How can they expect sympathy towards the rest of India when few spoke out against the human rights violations by the army in the valley? 


Self-determination and the right to decide to future of their land is an inalienable right. But one of the misconceptions regarding the effects of economic development on sovereignty and freedom is that prosperity will stifle shouts for independence. In fact, some of the world’s richest or economically well-developed regions such as Catalonia still continue to fight for self-determination despite it being one of Spain’s richest areas. Similarly, low poverty rates in the oil-rich Kurdish governorates of Iraq did not prevent Iraqi Kurds from voting overwhelmingly for independence in a 2017 referendum. The continued oppression of Kashmiris with the simultaneous promise of blossoming economic development which seeks to benefit not Kashmiris rather the Indian government is a flawed policy 

The new domicile law is another centre for recent controversies. The law seeks to provide citizenship or permanent residency to people outside of Kashmir, a movement towards demographic changes. In Tibet, the Chinese government encouraged the mass immigration of the mainland Chinese population into the territory thereby forcibly making indigenous Tibetans a minority in their homeland. The situation compares to the Domicile Law in Kashmir as it seeks to eradicate a Kashmiri majority so that if a referendum were to be held, the Indigenous Kashmiri population would be outnumbered by supporters of the BJP. 

The misinformation and media propaganda that aid in fortifying support for the ruling party coupled with the lack of awareness in the rest of India is the reasoning behind the dangerous path that India has taken, astray from its secular, tolerant values towards the principles of draconian fascism. 

The latest attacks on Muslims in India, are indefensible, mobs make no excuses anymore, they just kill and destroy. The police no longer protect Muslims, or Hindus protesting against the BJP and against violence. Predominantly Muslim universities such as Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University have been targets for police brutality. Students have been attacked by police armed with tear gas at Jamia Millia, and AMU was put under siege by continuous attacks. Lynchings and beatings have put people in the hospital, and rapists and other perpetrators face no punishment. Indian celebrities and intellectuals openly condemn the killings of innocent African Americans by police, but hypocritically turn a blind eye to the violence experienced by Indian and Kashmiri Muslims. 

There have been efforts to eradicate Muslims from India’s history, despite the central role Muslims have played in India’s history from the very beginning. Muslims are responsible for some of India's greatest cultural treasures and accomplishments, such as the Taj Mahal. There are textbook changes, names of cities are altered (such as Allahabad to Prayag Raj), all to eradicate the contributions and existence of Muslims in India’s past. Approximately 182 million or more Muslims are living in India, and all of them are at risk, right now. 

There are ten stages to genocide, some of the most recognizable being discrimination, dehumanization, and of course extermination, at which point it is too late to save lives. As the Jews were once scapegoated, Muslims are easy scapegoats for an ineffective government. Muslims are blamed for a variety of imagined offences, such as domestic terrorism and transmission of the COVID-19 disease. The current slew of propaganda against India’s largest minority, the brutality of the police, and the authoritarian actions of the government might result in the loss of millions of lives unless immediate action is taken. Why must people wait for retroactive Nuremberg Trials and cries of Never Again? 

Perhaps the reason the international community is so slow to react and adequately hold India responsible is due to the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and intolerance worldwide. There are detention camps for Muslims in China, Palestine, Myanmar, the United States, and now India. How is it possible that the 21st century still hasn’t accepted the intrinsic value of human lives? 

If the international community chose to act, the effects could be profound. As a developing nation, India could be leveraged using economic trade. For example, countries with expected economic or growing economic ties to India could apply pressure in return for Kashmir's autonomy, or the removal of policies such as NRC and CAA. If liberal democracies decide to defend the moral principles on which they were founded, India could be sanctioned for its many offences. The United States, the ‘defender of human lives’, is in a powerful position to alleviate this crisis. India ratified the UN Genocide Convention, which means India cannot commit genocide as a signatory (articles 2 and 3 of the Convention), and the member nations of this convention are obligated to protect the Muslim population of India and Kashmir against the threat of genocide. India’s government and officials that were complicit could be tried in front of a tribunal (national or international). What is unfolding in India is preventable, and the loss of innocent lives is senseless.

As a reader possibly living in a nation with the power to change this, you need to act. Peacefully protest, speak out, educate yourself, and others. Either all lives have value, or no lives do. If you live in a nation on the Genocide Watch List, or a nation with similar crimes, you are complicit if you don’t act. Acting patriotically should never be about excusing or participating in your nation's crimes, but about bettering your country. 


In the age of information, ignorance is a choice. Links:


India 
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/02/india-muslims-delhi-riots-danger/
https://sikhsiyasat.net/2020/03/03/looming-threat-of-genocide-in-india/
https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/op-ed/is-india-sleepwalking-toward-a-muslim-holocaust
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/india-muslims-punished-indian-200306190342176.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/world/asia/new-delhi-hindu-muslim-violence.html
https://www.genocidewatch.com/ten-stages-of-genocide
https://www.dailysabah.com/world/asia-pacific/condemnations-grow-over-massacre-of-muslims-in-india
https://www.newyorker.com/news/on-religion/the-violent-toll-of-hindu-nationalism-in-india
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/17/world/asia/india-muslims-narendra-modi.html
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48278441
https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/the-real-objective-of-mob-violence-against-muslims-in-india
https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3051781/marginalised-under-modi-how-indias-minorities-are-starting-stand
https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/understanding-indias-citizenship-controversy/


CAA and NRC
https://theconversation.com/why-modis-india-has-become-a-dangerous-place-for-muslims-132591
https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/04/09/shoot-traitors/discrimination-against-muslims-under-indias-new-citizenship-policy#


Kashmir-specific
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/delhi-riots-news-narendra-modi-muslims-hindus-jammu-kashmir-trump-a9365376.html
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/young-kashmiris-indian-forces-leave-survey-200310083352101.html
https://www.genocidewatch.com/ten-stages-of-genocide
https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2019/10/03/india-changed-the-game-in-kashmirnow-what/#51673a3b1eb7
https://www.genocidewatch.com/single-post/2020/06/20/Fresh-protests-in-Kashmir-after-Indian-forces-kill-nine-rebels
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/kashmir-special-status-explained-articles-370-35a-190805054643431.html 
https://thewire.in/security/bjp-jammu-kashmir-separatism
https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/thestream/2020/06/domicile-law-kashmir-200610143308394.html



Other 
https://www.thefrontpageonline.com/breaking-news/how-much-has-changed-since-the-holocaust
https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/anti-muslim-activity/
https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide-convention.shtml
https://www.genocidewatch.com/single-post/2020/04/28/As-the-world-looks-for-coronavirus-scapegoats-Muslims-are-blamed-in-India
https://www.genocidewatch.com/ten-stages-of-genocide
https://news.gallup.com/poll/157079/muslims-india-confident-democracy-despite-economic-educational-challenges.aspx


Images
https://images.app.goo.gl/cvbk2xVnZxiQHUmE9
https://images.app.goo.gl/9ZB5ExqPjHA5SZY46
https://images.app.goo.gl/qSgUWGdKPqNowCpK8
https://images.app.goo.gl/SeeFqW5nnEkSuEEh7
https://images.app.goo.gl/4bA9uwnfmtanhkqm6 
https://images.app.goo.gl/BgjYWqdubbn2dALK9 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

man holding gray steel frame


The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Robots are coming to steal our jobs, and we aren’t ready for it.

Tim Vong

Marketing Specialist


    We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we work, live, and relate to one another. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is coming and we are not prepared to deal with the economic impact of automation as AI is projected to take over the workforce. It is difficult to predict the impact automation will have on our society, and it is even more difficult to come up with a comprehensive and effective plan to counter the economic downfall that we are prone to have. As technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, it’s important that the world braces itself for change in the global economic environment.


Who will be impacted and what will happen?

    

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is projected to take over the global economy, but one country in particular that will be impacted greatly is the United States of America. 30% of jobs are subject to automation, meaning that 30% of the American workforce will be at risk of losing their jobs to the development of technology. The top jobs in the USA are in industries relating to retail, food service, administration, transportation (including truck driving), and manufacturing. Being a retail clerk is the most common job in the country, what will happen when they are replaced by self-serve checkouts or when truck drivers are swapped for self-driving trucks? The Feds say that the majority of jobs in America are either repetitive manual or repetitive cognitive, which means people in those industries are at risk of losing their jobs in the near future. Secure jobs include ones that have non-repetitive manual work (eg. hairdresser, house cleaner) or non-repetitive cognitive work (eg. designers, coders). 


    It’s important to note that, although the American GDP has been increasing substantially over the past few years, this is a direct result of automation. Sure, automation makes lives easier by producing quicker, but it comes at a cost. The GDP is not an accurate representation of the state of the American economy; people are beginning to suffer as a result of new AI. Large corporations are gaining from the efficiency of automation, but workers are not. 88% of job losses between 2000 to 2010 were because of technological advancements. According to the Council of Economic Advisers in 2016, 83% of jobs that pay less than $20 an hour have substantial parts of their work that is replaceable by AI.


    Robots are silently taking American jobs away, and politicians aren’t catching on. There has been no change in political policy to address the dangerous threat of automation to the US workforce.


    Along with America, Canada is also forced to face the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The top jobs in Canada include retail workers, cashiers, and transport truck drivers; all of which can be replaced by AI. Experts say that 42% of Canadian jobs are at a high risk of being affected in the next two decades. Jobs involving STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and/or management are projected to be low risk or secure. 


    What does this mean for Canadians? Canada is actually considered by economists to be more confident and prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, than any other country. This is due to Canada’s true strength, social programs; our country’s willingness to create social programs is what experts say will lessen any future pain automation could inflict. Our country’s social and re-training programs provide a form of insurance to Canadians, resources that aren't available to Americans. Maybe there’s a reason why Stanford economist, Raj Chetty, found that it was twice as easy to achieve the “American Dream” in Canada than in America?


    Ontario’s new math curriculum, announced on June 23, is a step in the right direction as it prepares children for the jobs of tomorrow. Students in grades 1-8 are now taught about financial literacy, coding, and technology. These are fundamental concepts that need to be taught, as we face intelligent automation. 


How do we prepare?


As championed by breakthrough 2020 US presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, implementing a universal basic income (UBI) is vital. Yang's platform proposed a UBI, he calls it the “Freedom Dividend”; a check of $1000 a month for every American over the age of 18. His campaign called for human-centered capitalism, meaning that instead of Americans serving the market, it is the other way around- the market serves Americans. Putting money directly into the hands of citizens will allow for a “trickle-up economy”, therefore, promoting a boost and job growth in the economy. Providing a UBI would enable Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy (mentally and physically), relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future of the country. 


    UBI provides guaranteed income, which incentivizes people to leave poorly paid jobs for riskier but potentially more lucrative careers such as self-employment, entrepreneurship, or further education. With more creative and independent careers available, workers will be able to work without the fear of being replaced by AI. The resulting climate of innovation will reduce reliance on low wage jobs and the need to compete with technology. It will also support the economy because Americans will invest their $1000 back into businesses, thus creating a “trickle-up economy”, where everyone benefits from spending. 


    How is the government going to pay for UBI? A Value-Added Tax (VAT). All developed nations in the world except for the US utilize a VAT. With a VAT, big companies will have to pay taxes, without any loopholes. Large corporations such as Amazon or Google are good at funneling billions of dollars worth of assets around and overseas, which helps them avoid paying taxes. In fact, Amazon paid zero dollars in taxes last year, because of loopholes. A VAT ensures that companies like Amazon aren’t benefiting from the American people, automation, and infrastructure, without paying their fair share of taxes. With the contributions from these trillion-dollar tech companies, America would be able to afford a Universal Basic Income. 


    Along with this, we can also use education as a tool to prepare us. Education systems worldwide are often outdated. Both Canada and the United States can do better in regards to educating the youth; it’s important we start teaching the right things. Investing in a more modern education system will allow us to train the youth to work along with technology, not against it. Without a curriculum that covers subjects such as coding or financial literacy, youth entering the workforce will be displaced by automation. 


    There is a precedent that suggests changing the education system will benefit the working class. In the 1930s, America changed its school curriculums to focus more on preparing students for the industrial economy, rather than an agrarian one. This adaption put the USA far ahead of Europeans, in terms of the efficiency and skills of workers, as well as the overall economic growth. 


    As we prepare to enter a new economy that will be dominated by AI, it’s important we start training the next generation to be able to handle the rigors of the future economic climate. Jobs that don’t require degrees, such as a cashier or transport truck driver, will be replaced by robots. This means we need higher graduation rates from both secondary and post-secondary schools. As well, we need curriculums that will allow the youth to understand how to work with robots, meaning that students should be learning more about technology in school.


Closing Remarks


    As technological advancements increase, the dangers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution expand. Without a doubt, the evolution of AI can be good in terms of efficiency, but humans are going to be out of jobs. GDP will rise as production rates soar, but the people will be suffering. This is a worldwide issue that politicians aren’t paying attention to. Capitalist countries such as the USA need to implement more social programs to support their citizens in the wake of this technological revolution. Economists suggest that Universal Basic Income is the most efficient way of doing so. Others also suggest that a change in the education system is needed. Automation poses a real threat to the global economy; millions of jobs will be lost in the near future. It’s important we act quickly to lessen the burden AI will have on the economy.



Resources

Digital disruption: Meet the Fourth Industrial Revolution head-on

Innovation Nation: The fourth industrial revolution

Andrew Yang

Automation Will Dramatically Change The Workforce. Andrew Yang Has A Plan To Bridge The Gap

Andrew Yang: Yes, Robots Are Stealing Your Job

Why American Workers Need to Be Protected From Automation

Millions Of Jobs Have Been Lost To Automation. Economists Weigh In On What To Do About It


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