Tag Archives | Brazil

On India—Portugal relations

by Pranay Kotasthane (@pranaykotas)

Bárbara Reis, Editor-in-chief of the Portuguese magazine Publico asked me to comment on Portugal PM António Costa’s ongoing trip to India. Here are the questions and answers. [The full interview on the Public website is here]

Q: How would you describe India-Portugal bilateral relation, in particular compared with other European countries?

I’d put Portugal as the fourth most important country in Europe for India along with Netherlands. The first spot goes to Britain because of historical links and strong contemporary economic ties. Moreover, like other Asian members of the commonwealth, India too sees Europe through Britain. Germany and France are the other two European nations with which India has strategic partnerships. Then comes India’s partnerships with Netherlands and Portugal, both of which have substantially large Indian communities.

Q: Is Costa’s visit relevant for India? In what way? 

Costa’s visit is very significant for three reasons:

One, it comes at a time when India’s traditional connect in the European Union — Britain, is on its way out. Thus, India needs other partnerships to help navigate the complex mechanisms of the EU. As it stands, the EU is not looked upon as a credible strategic actor internationally. Apart from matters of trade and investment, emerging Asian countries like India prefer to interact directly with the member-states of the EU and vice-versa. This is where India-Portugal relations in general and this visit in particular become significant.

Two, India needs to partner with Portugal not just to access the EU, but also to link it with other Lusophone countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Costa’s visit can give impetus to these partnerships as well.

Three, Costa will be visiting Gujarat, Goa, and Karnataka. It is not very common for the leader of another country to go out of the capital New Delhi. This visit can hence be utilised to establish links directly with these states, all three of which are amongst the economically better performing regions of India.

Q: PM António Costa’s father was an Indian from Goa. How does that fact play in Indian internal and external politics?

Not directly. But Mr Costa’s visit can be used to give impetus to Goa as a foreign policy actor, not only with respect to Portugal but also to other Lusophone nations. Traditionally, foreign policy has been seen to be the sole responsibility of the union government. But over the last decade, many states have started engaging with other countries directly, mostly for economic diplomacy. In this context, Goa is an important state because it is the richest state in India in per capita terms and also because a sizeable number of Goans reside outside India. Thus, riding on Costa’s Goan connections, the Goa—Portugal partnership can be made the first success story for this new paradigm of foreign policy in India.

Q: What could Portugal do to improve and strengthen the bilateral relation with India?

Portugal can help in three ways:

One, open up its doors to Indians for education. India has a shortage of world-class universities. Portugal can provide scholarships, especially in the social sciences stream.

Two, to establish stronger cultural links, Portugal can start short-term fellowship programmes for Indians on the lines of the US State department’s fellowships. This can involve not just Goa, but other Lusophone nations of the world.

Three, the Portuguese language in Goa has declined steadily over the years. It would help if Portugal could boost the Centro de Língua Portuguesa in Goa and tie-up with other schools and colleges for this purpose.

Q: Do you agree that Goa is being underestimated by both countries? Meaning, could Goa be the center of a new triangular type of diplomatic relations? Triangles like India-Mozambique-Portugal? Or India-Portugal and any of the other Portuguese speaking countries?

Definitely. The idea that states are important partners in India’s foreign policy is gaining ground now. States too see themselves as important players and are ready to engage other countries for establishing mutually beneficial economic relations. Many state departments now have NRI departments that interact with nations having large diasporas from their state. Goa can become the crucial link between India and all Lusophone nations. Goa should consider having a permanent trade representation in all Lusophone nations to accelerate the bidirectional flow of investments.

Also read: My colleague Anupam Manur’s article in Mint on the investment opportunities for India in Portugal.

Pranay Kotasthane is a Research Fellow at The Takshashila Institution. He is on twitter @pranaykotas

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Why Strong Institutions Matter?

By Abhijit Katikaneni 

Brazil is a country with great disparity and destitution, 21.4% of Brazil’s population lies below the poverty line.[1] Brazil employs an open competitive political system but its effects have not been straightforward. Brazil’s education policy’s efficacy at times has been hampered due to its open competitive political system and the number of allies the governing party houses. Has democracy in Brazil endorsed equity-enhancing reforms in the arena of education? Brazil and its policymakers has worked towards equity enhancing reforms with the creation of institutions such as FUNDEF and has been successful to an extent but inequity in the education policy itself creates inequality and further widens the socioeconomic gap. But with the creation of institutions such as FUNDEF Brazil’s population of 21.4% under poverty line could leave the poverty cycle and embark on a prosperity cycle with the aid of education.[2]

I will be highlighting how education policy has been approached in Brazil and then will look at how political actors over a period of time have approached education policy and the challenges in framing policy they’ve faced and will illustrate why it is of utmost importance to provide quality reforms and not access reforms.

Education policy in Brazil: 
Brazilian policymakers have preferred and focused on providing an increase of services in the education sector, aiming for access reform instead of focusing on equity enhancement through a restructuring of the sector. Public schooling at the primary and secondary levels do not promise a high quality education, Brazilian governments traditionally have not held it to be a central concern. Brazil spends 5.1% of its GNP on education in the aggregate however their achievement outcomes are poor by those standards, spending per student on secondary and primary education ranks below most Latin American countries.[3]

With the help of public policy, schooling can be one platform in which one could reduce inequality and make an impact, it should be central to equity enhancing reforms. Public primary and secondary education needs to hold its own and have a strong foundation, as the beneficiaries of public schooling are the poor people as most upper class and middle class Brazilian opt for private schooling. A good education is essential to escaping the poverty cycle. A close link between education and salary levels in the Latin American nations illustrate this.[4]
Education technocrats and politicians have long tried to improve the education sector in Brazil not only to increase welfare but also to enhance and enable Brazil to compete globally.

President Cardoso’s priority was to provide better schooling. However, there has no been social movement targeted at providing high quality public schooling since democracy had been reinstalled. That might be due to low levels of civil society.[5] In other countries, the middle class stresses the importance of high quality education and presses for it whereas in Brazil the middle class has long left public schooling at primary and secondary levels, the middle class is no more a stakeholder. And whereas parents from low education background make demands about the functioning of the school, they don’t press for reform in education.[6] In any case we would expect Brazil to have improvements in outputs and results due to the fact that politicians still have to appeal to the poor. However this is not the case.

The state has increased funding to all three levels of education: primary, secondary, and tertiary by almost 30% since the late 1980’s.[7] An increase in funding can be seen at federal, state and municipal levels. Brazil’s Human development index improved in 2006 and that was largely down to increased access to education.[8] The focus is levied upon the percentage of children between the ages of 7-14 attending school but the quality of education they receive is not taken into account, which is of prime importance.[9] An issue of access reform versus quality reform, focus needs to be levied upon providing quality reform once the goal of access reform has been achieved.

Political hindrances to Policymaking:  
Apart from an increase in spending, other efforts have been made to develop the quality of basic education. The first of these started with Brazils new democratic regime as President Jose Sarney at the helm. However due to the number of political parties in Brazil, patronage oriented allies are common and each of the allies according to their respective agreements with the party control a particular ministry.[10] The Partido da Frente Liberal (PFL) an ally of Jose Sarney controlled the ministry of education; the ministry was ineffective in the mid to late 1980’s. For instance, the education ministry on the base of project proposals presented was to make transfers to states and municipalities, while suffering from low administrative capacity. But the ministry undermined the quality enhancing value of the program and focused on making political qualifications rather than the looking at the projects comprehensiveness, which was the goal. When the PMDB won 25 out of 26 state governorships in 1986,[11] transfers from the ministry to state governments were reduced considerably while transfers to municipal governments as to where Jose Sarney political allies continued to stay strong were increased by 600%. These are the kind of hindrances policymakers face in shaping policy, the goal is to develop institutions such as FUNDEF to bypass such problems. These problems will remain as they are engrained in politics and policy making but the creation of institutions that are independent will help overcome the problems.

FUNDEF under President Cardoso: 
A team of highly devoted reformers under President Cardoso overlooked some improvement with the inception of FUNDEF (Elementary Education Development and Teacher Valorization Fund). FUNDEF’s success was the chief concern they pursued in education. The program is designed to deliver technical assistance and federal funds to municipalities and poorer regions that do not reach their goal of FUNDEF – clear minimum threshold spending per student which is around three hundred reais in 2000 despite reaching their constitutionally allocated budget spending on Education. Municipalities and States that are better off and which spend above their mandated mark are required to subsidize their counter parts who are not performing well. FUNDEF is the most equity-enhancing program in Brazils education system as two-thirds of the benefits go the North and North east.[12] One important difference between reforms employed by President Sarney and President Cardoso was the ability of the ministerial teams commitment to reform and the backing provided by President Cardoso. The ministerial team moved fast and discreetly in order to keep the program on a low and before the stakeholders could estimate their costs the program was passed within a month with the help of a majority backing President Cardoso. By the time opposition formed it was too late and by the 2000’s the results of the program spoke for themselves.

Inequity in possibly Brazils most equity-enhancing sector: 
Possibly the clearest equity-enhancing reform Brazil could pursue would be to redistribute financing among the three levels of the system (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary). Brazil’s spending on higher education is close to the highest in the world, the country spends 4.7% of its GDP on education, one quarter of it is spent on higher education, which enrolls 2% of all students. [13] On a per capita basis, students in universities enjoy more than 2.5 times funding of primary school students.[14] The state having to burden itself by taking the total bill of public universities hinders equity-enhancing reform. Most public university students are middle class and pay nominal fees.[15]Entry to universities is based upon competitive examinations and students who attend public primary schools and secondary schools are underprepared for these examinations due to a lack of quality education. And that is in part due to states having to bear total bills of public universities. No funding goes towards the betterment of public primary and secondary education because the interest groups with around higher education namely university students, their professors are from the middle and upper classes. They are prepared to mobilize against change and the interest groups with low income are not. Governments fear backlash from student protests is they try to put financial burden on them or try reallocate funding from tertiary education to the other two levels which is arguably more important to get people out of the poverty cycle.
The interest groups who stand to benefit from the status quo remaining are stronger than low-income groups that would actually benefit from vital reform.

Conclusion:  
I have illustrated above that the only way to bypass or overcome the politics for personal gain or to disrupt the status quo is to build institutions such as FUNDEF that facilitate growth from the bottom to top and form human capital and enable low income groups to get out of the poverty trap and kick start a prosperity cycle to lower the percentage below the poverty line. Brazil also needs to relook its policy on the amount of funding tertiary educations gets as that is only helping the ones who do not really need it. Brazil in order to compete globally, reduce poverty and increase human capital need to invest further in public primary and secondary education via institutions.

Abhijit Katikaneni is a student from the GCPP14 batch. He is currently studying international relations at the University of Rochester.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_policy_in_Brazil

[1] https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2046.html#br

[2] http://www.campaignforeducation.org/docs/reports/brown/EFA%20Report_Low%20Res%20v2.pdf

[3] Draibe, Sonia. 2004. Federal leverage in decentralized system: Education Reform in Brazil

[4] Stallings, Barbara and Wilson Peres. 2000. Growth, employment, and equity: The impact of the Economic reforms in Latin America and the Carribean. Brookings institution Press.

[5] http://bresserpereira.org.br/papers/2000/97After-elite.pdf

[6] Nelson, Joan. 1999. Reforming health and education. Overseas development Council and Johns Hopkins University press.

[7] World bank. 2004. Brazil: Equitable, Competitive, sustainable: Contributions for Debate. Washington DC: world bank.

[8] http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/Country-Profiles/BRA.pdf

[9] Gitahy, Ana Carolina, and Rafael Pereira. 2003. http://www.jb.com.br/capa/

[10] Cohon, Adam. 2015. International Relation 225. Lecture Feb 9th. University of Rochester.

[11] http://electionresources.org/br/index_en.html

[12] Moura Castro, Cladio de. 2000. Education: Way Behind but trying to Catch up.

[13] Moura Castro, Cladio de. 2000. Education: Way Behind but trying to Catch up.

[14] Unesco Global education digest 2007.

[15] OECD ( 2004, 2007) – socioeconomic profile of public university students in brazil

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Clear and present danger of Zika virus

Indian government should not bypass safety norms in clinical drug trials and testing to give expedient advantage to pharmaceutical companies and risk innocent lives

A global public health emergency has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the outbreak of mosquito borne virus Zika.  The Indian government too has sounded the alarm on February 2. The virus gets its name from Zika forest in Uganda where it was first found in rhesus monkeys. It is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which is also responsible for Chikungunya and dengue. The outbreak commenced in Brazil in May 2015  and nearly 1.5 million people are reported to have been affected. The virus is responsible for some serious congenital malformation.

Though a causal link has not yet been established, as of January 23, 4180 newborns had been reported in Brazil with microcephaly — where newborn babies have abnormally small heads. Cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system have also been reported. WHO estimates that there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in Americas in the next year.  The fears of rapid spread of virus through Americas has forced governments to issue travel advisories. This outbreak is reminiscent of Ebola virus in West Africa which killed about 11,000 people in 2014. What makes diagnosis more difficult is that the symptoms of Zika are very similar to dengue and there is no known cure available in the market at present.

An Indian firm, Bharat Biotech announced a breakthrough in developing the first Zika vaccine on February 3. The vaccine is at an advanced stage of development. Krishna Ella, the Chairman and Managing Director of the company hopes that the Indian government will move quickly to give approval for trials because of the pandemic situation. The Aedes mosquito is widely found in India and there is every reason to be apprehensive. In addition to rigorous mosquito control measures, there is an urgency attached to introduce the drug into the market. The export potential can be very encouraging, both from building goodwill as well as profit for the company.

As a norm, drug development policies are quite stringent about testing and safety. The clinical trials takes three phases of development before being approved.  Regulatory approval is granted only after completion of pre-clinical studies which normally takes five months.  Earlier, the company had bypassed phase 2 for Ebola vaccine trials, which is its justification to speed up the process. This phase is testing of drug on patients to assess efficacy and safety. To side step this again will be setting a dangerous precedent. Just because a previous risk taking was a success is no convincing reason to bypass safety norms. The  company needs to be questioned whether it is a mere coincidence of the outbreak and development of vaccine.  As the outbreak is not yet reported in India, the ministry of health should issue instructions for necessary preventive measures. The government should ask Bharat Biotech to produce the drug after due testing process. We cannot afford to put innocent lives at risk.

Guru Aiyar is a Research Scholar at Takshashila Institution and tweets @guruaiyar

Featured Image: Antibiotics by Michael Mortensen, licensed from creativecommons.org

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Brazilian Economy in the Doldrums

By Anupam Manur

Brazil is staring at a lost decade of economic output, with political upheavals, domestic economic crisis of falling output, debt and inflation and a stagnant external sector due to falling commodity prices internationally.

While the world is gripped with stories of Chinese slowdown, another economy is staring down the barrel of deep economic and political crisis and faces the possibility of a lost decade for economic growth. Brazil has had another contraction in the previous quarter and according to The Economist, by the end of 2016, the Brazilian economy may be 8% smaller than it was in the first quarter of 2014. The Economist’s GDP forecast for 2016 is particularly dire for Brazil, the largest economy in the downside projections, with over 2% contraction in real GDP.

The last time that the Brazilian economy saw positive growth was in the first quarter of 2014. So, Brazil is officially in a recession in 2015, going by the NBER definition of recession as contraction of output for two consecutive quarters.

 

Brazil's GDP growth rate has been negative for the past 7 quarters and is expected to fall further in 2016.

Brazil’s GDP growth rate has been negative for the past 7 quarters and is expected to fall further in 2016.

Amidst the economic downturn, Brazil is also facing a political upheaval. Dilma Rousseff  and many of her party members, who are part of parliament, face very serious corruption charges against them and are presently being investigated. They are alleged to have accepted billions of dollars in bribes in exchange for bloated contracts with Petrobras, the State controlled oil and gas company. Also, Joaquim Levy, the Finance Minister who was known to bat for greater fiscal austerity and structural reforms resigned last week. When the need of the hour is urgent economic reforms and a plan to kickstart the economy, the Parliament Is obsessed with the impeachment of President Rousseff. This implies that Rousseff does not enjoy the political capital to initiate any reform agenda, assuming she has one, to get the economy back on track.

Falling commodity prices have a big part to play in Brazil’s misfortunes. Brazil’s commodity exports, and with it, its GDP, had a spectacular rise along with China’s growth story. However, with China slowing down, demand for commodities has fallen and so have its prices. Oil, iron ore and soy beans account for more than half of the Brazil’s export basket and their prices have been depressed for quite some time now. Brazilian commodities index has slumped 41% since 2011, according to Credit Suisse. The average price that Brazil used to receive for a ton of iron ore has slumped from about $125 in 2011 at its peak to about $40 currently. Among the big commodities exporters of the world, Brazil has been hit the hardest.

While it may be convenient for Brazilian administration to blame global conditions for their weak economic performance, a closer look will establish Brazil’s home grown problems as the chief culprit. Australia is a bigger commodity exported and relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing industry for its GDP growth. The share of exports in Brazil’s GDP is 11.5 per cent while Australia’s is much higher at 21 per cent. Despite this, Australia is slated to grow at a 2 percent this year. Other major commodity exporters in Latin America such as Chile and Peru are also affected by the declining prices, but are yet slated to grow at 2-3 percent this year.

The reason for this is Brazil’s structural problems. While Australia handled the global 2008 recession with caution, Brazil followed an excessively loose monetary policy and uninhibited fiscal expansion. Brazil has been spending indiscriminately: the estimate of budgetary deficit for 2015 was 10 percent of GDP. The debt to GDP ratio in July 2015 was already 65 percent and was set to touch 70 percent by end 2015. Further, the government is running a primary deficit of $13.9 billion or roughly equivalent to 2.5 percent of GDP. Primary deficit is defined as the difference between current government spending on goods and services and total current revenue from all types of taxes net of transfer payments, and excludes interest payments. This implies that Brazil is adding to the total debt at a far greater rate than it can afford to do. Rating agencies such as S&P and Fitch have already downgraded Brazil’s debt instruments to junk bond status, which will translate into even higher costs of borrowing.

Corporate debt has been on the rise as well for the past decade. It is presently as much as 63 percent of GDP. It does not help the government that much of this is from either state owned companies such as Petrobras or other companies who have the implicit backing of the Brazilian government.

Quite unfortunately for Brazil, the usual routes for recovery from a recession are unavailable to them. As aforementioned, public debt is far too high to accommodate a fiscal push to the economy. The need of the hour is, in fact austerity, but that is bound to depress the economy further.

Monetary policy does not have too much wiggle room either and the central bank is in a real fix. The SELIC rate, Brazil’s policy interest rate is at 15%. With 150,000 jobs being shed in the formal sector every month, there is a real clamour for reducing the rates. However, this might fuel inflationary pressures, which are already quite high and high inflation will drive away the investors further. The consumer price inflation is hovering around 10 percent and the real has been steadily depreciating.

Raising taxes is also going to be extremely difficult, as Mr Levy  found out. Part of the reason for him quitting the cabinet as Finance Minister was the political opposition both from the opposition and within his own party to raising taxes, cutting federal spending and general fiscal adjustment.

The only way out is unlikely to be popular. Ms. Rousseff needs to come out with a credible new plan for restructuring the economy. This will involve painful cuts to pensions and other social security measures along with slight increases in the tax rates. Finally, Brazil also has to look at improving its business environment. It is currently placed at 120th out of 189 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Report by the World Bank. Though it is definitely going to be a tough period for Brazil in the next few years, it must aim to reduce the duration and severity of the problem by following sound economic policies.

Anupam Manur is a Policy Analyst at the Takshashila Institution and tweets @anupammanur

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The Favelas: Gangs, Violence & Society

Manan Sanghvi

“Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it” Henry Thomas Buckle

Criminals, Violence and Gangs are the by-products of an ineffective social system and Brazil is no stranger to it. Apartheid, social exclusion, authoritative governance and disregard for the poor have all been imperative in the emergence of the street gangs in the cities of Brazil. The violence of the gangs reflects their ambitions to feel belonged and to be respected as equals in a biased society. Most importantly it reflects their basic human instinct to improve their life styles, which has been ignored by Brasilia for over a century now. It comes as no surprise that the violent street gangs have emerged in the pockets of Brazilian poverty, the Favelas. Today, many of the favelas in Brazil have become small illegitimate territories, where the government can exercise little or no authority. Street Gangs, with advanced weaponry control administrate the favelas as a safe haven to carry on their illegitimate drug and arm trades.

Origins of the Favelas

The first favela was started in Brazil in 1897 by the troops returning from the War of Canudos (1893-1897). 20,000 troops who had fought and won the deadliest civil war in Brazilian history against Antonio Conselherio in Bahia were brought and stranded in Rio de Janeiro without accommodation. Tired of failed government promises of providing them a home, the soldiers took over a nearby hill called Gamboa to build themselves shanties to live in. The soldiers called the place Morro da favela, after the hill where they had camped just before launching their offensive against Conselheiro’s forces. Shorty after its name was changed to Providencia. Favela originally refers to a shrub found in abundance on Morro da favela.

After the abolition of slavery in 1888, a wave of recently freed black slaves primarily from north-east Brazil flocked to urban centers of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Some of the older favelas were originally started as quilombos (independent settlements of fugitive African slaves) among the hilly terrain of the area surrounding Rio.

The 20th century has seen a phenomenal influx of rural immigrants who started populating the cities mostly in the favelas due to poverty and social non-acceptance. At the beginning of the century, less than one in five Brazilians lived in the cities. Today nearly 4 in five Brazilians inhabit urban regions with the south west regions of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro drawing the most sizable immigration. The explosive era of favela growth dates from the 1940s, when Getúlio Vargas’s industrialisation drive pulled hundreds of thousands of migrants into the Federal District. Most of the current favelas began in the 1970s, as a construction boom in the richer neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro initiated a rural exodus of workers from poorer states in Brazil. Since favelas have been created under different terms but with similar end results, the term favela has become generally interchangeable with any impoverished areas.

In the 1950’s favelas began forming Resident Associations known as Associacoes de Moradores (AM’s). AM leaders resolved conflicts through systems of legal reasoning internal to favelas and presided over dramatic mutirao (cooperative building) projects that provided basic infrastructure to their region.

Drugs like Cocaine were observed in Favela society as back as 1910. But the 1970’s saw an explosion in drug use with large scale smuggling from neighbour Columbia. The system of the Resident Associations began to crumble as drug trafficking grew and drug traders, usually the poor uneducated people from the favelas started getting involved in drug distribution. Drug Traffickers grew in power during the 1980’s and 1990’s when the nation’s economy was experiencing severe inflation. During that phase, non-profits pulled out and the AM’s developed alliances with the drug traffickers. Even the role of the Catholic and Pentecostal churches, which were traditionally powerful in the favela society diminished in power.

The Gangs of the Favelas

The Favelas of Brazil were not traditionally violent and subversive. The origins of their violence and the creation of gangs in Rio de Janeiro are interestingly found in the political scenario of Brazil. Under the successive military regimes between 1969 and 1985, the public rights were severely curtailed. In 1979, Left Wing political radicals were held together with criminals at the Candido Mendes prison on Ilha Grande, in the sea west of Rio. Also known as Devil’s Island, guerillas and political radicals were held in this prison during the military dictatorship. On the Devil’s Island, an alliance was formed between the guerillas and the criminals and the Comando Vermelho or the Red Command was formed. The Red Command is the oldest and most powerful of Rio’s narco-mafia.

The Red Command was based on Marxist principles with the motto “Peace, Justice and Freedom” which the gang retains to this date. But after the restoration of Brazil’s democracy, Marxism no longer remained their agenda. Today the organisation has purely criminal interests mainly drug supply and distribution and arm’s trade.

Drug gangs have hierarchical systems just like corporate companies. Favela chiefs are gerentes gerais or general managers, their deputies are sub-gerentes, the top gang bosses are donos or owners. The general manager usually has a small army under his command. The average age of the people enlisted is usually 15 to 18. The gangs recruit youngsters luring them with power, respect and money. Growing up poor in the favelas, kids find social acceptance and a chance to improve their life styles under the helm of the drug gangs.

Rio is one of the very few cities of the world where you have whole areas controlled by armed forces that are not of the state. Any one gang in the smallest of favelas has weapons that could rival a small army battalion. The street gangs are entropic, an anarchic group of young men and women who become criminals to earn respect and a better lifestyle.

The organisations have historically provided the favela residents with minimal social services such as financial assistance for funerals, water services and vans to take students and residents from stores and hospitals. (Gay 2005, Arias 2004).  They provide administrative services which are restricted to control other criminal activities against favelados, usually by brutal violence and keeping order. They would also provide financial support to Non-Profit organisations to provide medical care in the favelas. They would support organisations providing education, food and shelter to the street kids. The gangs would finance and organise Baile Funk or parties attended by youths from outside the favelas, from o asfalto or “the Asphalt” which refer to the legally constituted parts of the city. They would support and endorse the Catholic and Pentecostal churches doing social work in the favelas. They even support local Football clubs and provide financing for them to play.

In comparison, the government is looked at with vehemence; with the administration paying little or no attention to the needs of the favelados and excluding them from social policies. The police, with their aggressive and violent stance have added to the anti establishment feeling generally felt by all the favelados.

These reasons have allowed the gangs to be endorsed and even loved and respected in the favelas. The gangs, in return for lei do silêncio or the law of silence protect them against the “oppressive government”.

 Manan Sanghvi is a graduate of the pioneer batch of the GCPP programme at the Takshashila Institution.

 

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