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7-Most Important Things You Should Know About Narendra Modi

July 16, 2013 24 comments

Must you not know why you love or loath #NaMo – more commonly known by his full name Narendra Modi.

After you read these 7-Most important things about Narendra Modi you will no longer wonder why you loved him – or loathed him.

Clear your ideas about Narendra Modi.

1. From CM-to-PM

If Narendra Modi does succeed in his Prime Ministerial bid, he will India’s first Prime Minister (PM) who progressed from a party worker to a Chief Minister onto become the Prime Minister.

Narendra Modi’s move from CM to PM will not be an ‘accidental’ PM, as some of the other PMs. Like Deve Gowda (Karnataka-CM -11 December 1994 – 31 May 1996), Chandrasekhar (never a CM per Wikipedia), Choudhary Charan Singh (UP CM-18 February 1970 – 1 October 1970; 3 April 1967 – 25 February 1968), VP Singh (UP CM – 9 June 1980 – 19 July 1982), IK Gujral (never a CM per Wikipedia).

Narendra Modi’s kind of career progression, from party worker-to-minister-to-Chief Minister-to-probable PM candidate while logical, has never happened in India.

If it happens, it will open the minds of career politicians on possible career paths.

2. Modi’s Polity

How close is Narendra Modi to the classical Indian ideal of polity where concentration of power is impossible with wide dispersal of power, wealth and poverty – defined as Bharattantra by 2ndlook?

Narendra Modi is as far – or as near to Bharattantra, as any politician in India. After all, a fruit never falls far from the tree. Indian political parties, politicians, party workers are all part of the system – of which Narendra Modi is a product.

Narendra Modi’s activist, hands-on style makes it appear that he is more efficient – but as LK Advani pointed out, Gujarat is an already ‘efficient’ State. Modi ‘may’ lay greater ‘focus’ on agriculture, education, mega-projects, etc. Congress may ‘claim’ greater ‘commitment’ to ‘minority, women & child’ welfare, etc.

Is Modi likely to ignore ‘minority, women & child’ welfare? Unlikely, going by his sound bytes.

Is Congress likely to ignore agriculture, education, mega-projects? Unlikely, going by their manifesto and sundry noises made by talking heads.

More or less is the difference between BJP and Congress.

3. Modi As A Polarizing Figure

So, is Modi a polarizing figure?

More than 6 years ago, APJ Kalam, India’s erstwhile President suggested that India must move towards a 2-Party democracy – like the US.

This movement from multi-party democracy to a 2-party democracy calls for a kind of polarization that is now common across Desert Bloc. In Europe it is Social Democrats  (represented in India by the Congress) and Christian Democrats (which is BJP in India). In the US it is Republicans and Democrats. In Britain it Conservatives versus Labour. In the Islāmic world, it is Shia vs Sunni.

Only in India has there been so many political entities with a rainbow of ideologies. Till 1977 it was Congress and the Seven Dwarfs – Congress (O), CPI, CPIM, Forward Bloc /Republican Party, Jana Sangh, Praja Socialists, Swatantra Party. In 1977, Jayaprakash Narayan worked to create an amalgam of Janata Party – which managed to oust Congress for the first time. The amalgam melted under pressures of power-jockeying by the Janata Party constituents.

Nevertheless, the 1977 Janata Party victory unleashed a spate of regional parties, that made local issues centre stage. Now for more than 30 years, no single party has won a parliamentary majority on its own steam. In such a situation, political fluidity has forced a certain kind of national consensus that ensures whichever party is in power, has to follow a broad political consensus on national policy.

More than Congress, BJP is trying to break this mold, by polarizing voters – which it hopes will be at the cost of the regional parties. Congress with the momentum of being a party in power, sees less need for this polarization right now. But that can change. For now, it is BJP which is eager for this polarization.

What are the ideological underpinning to this polarization? Nil. Zero. Zilch. 零. Nul. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. cero. It is simple power-calculus by BJP-Congress to reduce the importance of the regional parties.

4. Will Namo Polarization Strategy work?

Considering the sheer number of issues that confront India, people will choose ‘specialist’ political parties to address specific issues. Can two-party system capture all the issues that bother the Indian Voter? For now, seems unlikely.

Modi instead of chasing coalition partners, is chasing polarization!

Will this polarization strategy work?

Modi has gathered around him many Indian-Americans and it seems like this polarization idea is coming out of an Brown YummRikan Hat. Much like how some Brown YummRikans crafted the India-Shining campaign, even the current Modi strategy seems to have significant Brown YummRikan inputs.

Many of these Brown-Foreigner voices are creating a red-herring agenda for Narendra Modi. In less than 10 days, two such foreign writers expected Modi to model himself on Reagan and Thatcher. Are these foreign-consultants influencing Modi?

For instance, this revealing statement

In a democracy there will be a polarization between Democrats and Republicans.

Namo’s inspiration from US, sounds much like Advani’s call for debate with Manmohan Singh in 2009 elections – just “like in foreign countries.”

Wonder why this preoccupation by Narendra Modi with taking direction from American democracy!

5. Namo’s Message

What is Narendra Modi’s agenda? If NaMo has no defining agenda, Congress will define it.

Like 2002. Or ‘Hindu Terror’.

He says Development. Modernization. What does this mean? Will words like development, modernization enthuse the Indian Voter to stand in a line and vote for Narendra Modi?

How many Voters will stir from their houses to ‘save’ India from dynastic politics? How many Voters share Modi’s concerns about dynastic politics.

After notching up more than 75 combined man-years of governance in 12 states and the centre from 1990-2013, does BJP have to answer silly accusations about ‘secularism’?

Will Modi get more votes, if he raises the debate pitch on ‘secularism’? In a nation, where people do not bother about their neighbours religion, will speeches about secularism brings votes or boredom?

In 2009 elections, Advani raised dead topics like:

  • Money in Swiss Bank (Why bother? I am not getting any of it?)
  • Television debates (I doubt if he has anything interesting?)
  • Terrorism (Bhai, yeh terrorism kya hota hai? Urban anxiety!)
  • Strong India (Looks pretty solid to me!)

Is this anything as simple and smart as ‘Garibi Hatao’? Narendra Modi agenda as PM and his campaign has, similiar-to-Advani lack of focus.

6. Modi The Reformer

While Narendra Modi keeps making sounds about ‘minimum government, he is also admiring how the Chinese State spends an amount far bigger than India on ‘educating’ Chinese.

While  data on Gujarat government has not been collated, it is also irrelevant. Narendra Modi’s policy-response as a Prime Minister are likely to be far different from his actions as  Chief Minister. The change in context will surely change the response also.

Apart from paying lip-service, Narendra Modi has made no policy outline on thinning or reducing the State. Of course, one must remember that the India State is the thinnest among all major economies of the world.

7. Modi & 2002

Which party organized communal riots in response to Direct Action announced by Jinnah? Congress!

India has long history of communal riots – and Congress has used this ‘tool’ – liberally and frequently. While this is public knowledge, no one penalizes Congress for being an organizer of communal riots.

Unlike BJP, Congress has managed to keep 1984 anti-Sikh riots out of limelight – and keep the 2002 riots in full focus. Even the horrific Godhra incident has been airbrushed out of the national RAM (random access memory).

Is this the first time communal riots have happened in India? No. Is it the last time. No, to that also.

Will communal riots happen in the future. Definitely yes. Just like tension and riots are happening in Belfast. Like the US police forces are readying for race riots after Zimmerman acquittal in the Trayvon killing case.

Assuming Narendra Modi did turn a Nelson’s eye to the rioting, in previous and subsequent cases (like in Assam) did riots happen without political connivance?

2014-The Bugles Sound

Clearly, the 2014 Election Bugle has been sounded.

BJP and Narendra Modi have time to clean up their confusion.

By early announcements by the BJP, Congress has been forced to drain their venom early. Will they have the bite left, by the time elections actually happen?

Anna-Kejriwal has seen their first defection. Kiran Bedi has thrown her lot with the BJP.

Interesting times ahead, folks!


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India’s Deficient Healthcare System: Is Public Healthcare the Only Model?

May 18, 2013 2 comments

Must India model its healthcare system on the vastly inefficient and costly healthcare system of the West?

US Healthcare costs and expenditure  | Credits and source details embedded in image.

US Healthcare costs and expenditure | Credits and source details embedded in image.

T

he Euro-zone health system costs the tax-payer close to a trillion dollars (two-thirds of total healthcare expenditure paid by the State; total healthcare expenditure by EU is 10% of EU GDP, that is US$ 15 trillion). Ditto multiplied by two for the US.  One trillion and two trillion for EU and US respectively.

As a result of high tobacco consumption, aging problem, China’s expenditure on healthcare is expected to be a trillion dollars by 2020, due to proposed expansion of facilities, coverage.

The combined population of the US and EU is about the 800 million – versus the 1200 million of India. Even if due to lower costs, India were to replicate the EU and US systems, the expenditure will be US$3 trillion. That is 50% more than the Indian GDP.

Simplistic?

Sure. But, if we are going to throw around billions and trillions that belong to taxpayers, why worry?

These systems will collapse – and when that happens, there will be plagues and epidemics across the West.

Remember that less than a 100 years ago, the flu-epidemic killed tens of millions in the West. Conservative estimates start at 2 crores, go to realistic estimates of 4 crores (40 million) and some estimates go beyond 5 crores (50 million). This depletion in population, coupled with WWI deaths toppled the West into the Great Depression, ten years later.

As John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza,” has observed, “Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years.”

via Grounding a Pandemic – New York Times.

The State as the natural and logical answer to every social problem is uniquely modern extension of Desert Bloc model of governance. The confidence that media and academia project in this model has no relation to reality.

We have seen the collapse of Spain, Portugal as imperial powers, Britain is at a tipping point – and many expect Pax Americana to follow.

Why must India duplicate this vastly inefficient and costly healthcare system of the West, as this recent article in the FT suggests.

Western governments could haul New Delhi to the WTO dispute panel to challenge its patent law as non-compliant with global trade rules, generics executives’ and health activists’ bigger worry is that the EU, and eventually the US, will secure provisions in new free-trade deals. These provisions would give western drugmakers more tools to stop Indian generic rivals.

Western pharmaceutical companies counter that India’s real health crisis is not the price of a handful of patented drugs but of a government that has abdicated its responsibility to ensure decent healthcare for its citizens. India’s government spends less than 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product on healthcare.

Some western companies, led by GlaxoSmithKline, are trying tiered pricing strategies in India to reflect the extremes of its wealth and poverty. Merck Sharp and Dohme sells its patented diabetes drug Januvia in India for about $24 per month, 80 per cent lower than its global price.

Still, the cut-rate price for Januvia has not deterred Glenmark, an Indian generics firm, from making its own version, which it sells for 30 per cent less than the discounted price. Last month MSD tried unsuccessfully to get a court order stopping Glenmark from selling its medicine, and protracted litigation lies ahead.

“You can parachute free medicine across the country but that will not improve access because you don’t the health infrastructure,” says Mr Shahani. “You don’t have doctors, you don’t have nurses, you don’t have nursing homes and you don’t have diagnostics.”

Shortages of nurses and orderlies meant young doctors had to do menial tasks such as carrying laboratory samples or wheeling patients into the operating theatre.

The junior doctors say the public hospital is so overstretched – and poorly managed – that they have to make snap decisions on how to handle patients, as if processing the wounded from a battlefield.

“This government doesn’t want patients to die, so our major concern is to prevent death, but what about proper management after that?” asks Sameer Prabhakar, a doctor at Safdarjung. “A doctor seeing 100 patients a day won’t have time.”

Safdarjung’s problems resonate across India’s public health system, which is starved of funds. Clinics struggle to cope with the flow of patients who can spend days queueing to see a doctor, only to be told they will have to wait months for treatment – even for potentially fatal diseases such as cancer.

India has just six doctors and nine hospital beds for every 10,000 people, compared with 15 doctors and 38 beds in China, and 24 doctors and 30 beds in the US, according to UN data. “The biggest question is: why is the government not building more hospitals and opening more medical colleges?” says Dr Prabhakar.

The emergence of swish upmarket private hospitals catering to India’s rich and middle classes is exacerbating the strain on public hospitals, as doctors, nurses and other specialists are drawn to the higher salaries and better working conditions.

With India spending just 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product on health – compared with nearly 3 per cent in China – the problems will not be resolved easily. Many poor Indians go to unqualified quacks. Lower middle-class patients are driven to private hospitals they cannot afford, clocking up debt to pay for essential treatment.

via India: Patents and precedents – FT.com.


Hollywood Games In China

April 21, 2013 14 comments

Just like Shashi Tharoor was well-grounded in the West, son @ishaantharoor is learning how to push Western interests..

Po, the Panda confronts Shen the despotic  ruler of Gongmen city.

Po, the Panda confronts Shen the despotic ruler of Gongmen city.

Before we get to the main story, let us have the basics out of the way.

Back To Basics

What is India’s national bird? Peacock.

Where does the panda come from? China.

Which country was the world’s largest producer of gunpowder elements till 100 years ago? India.

How did India take advantage of its gunpowder production  to wage war, conquer nations, enslave people and loot? The British did that.

What about India’s export of steel in medieval and colonial eras? India’s Wootz steel to global markets.

For how long has India ruled over China, Tibet, Iran in the last 2000 years? Nil.

America’s Story For China

In May-June 2011, Hollywood released a much anticipated sequel to a successful film. The original film had grossed more than US$25 million in China alone. The sequel was expected to do much more – and finally grossed nearly a US$100 million (official figure – US$91.5 million) in China. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, (an American from Korea) the sequel was named the most successful film made by a woman.

In ancient China

Here is the storyline.

Despotic Peacock Prince Shen, of the benign Peacock clan returns from exile, usurps the throne. Despotic Peacock Prince Shen expands armament production, disrupting military balance based on hand-to-hand combat.

Despotic Peacock Prince Shen plans to turn fireworks into war materiel, manufacturing cannons. Despotic Peacock Prince Shen would like to make his Gongmen city kingdom into an imperial force, threatening Valley Of Peace, home of Po, the Panda. Despotic Peacock Prince Shen soon after usurping the kingdom, captured all the metal and made it into large cannons and guns.

The film – Kung Fu Panda-II.

One of the Top 3 films in China for 2011 – grossing nearly a US$100 million in China. Made by Spielberg’s Dreamworks, released by Hollywood, let us see what this film is actually telling us.

This film shows the Peacock prince (India), as a historical oppressor. Prince Shen, misusing the Chinese ‘invention’ of fireworks-gunpowder for war, using metal and gunpowder for oppression of China. Po, the Chinese Panda battles and defeats the Peacock Prince (India).

The Plot Thickens

This imagery was probably the reason why this film evoked protests and boycott in China. Since Hollywood has such low traction in India, this film has not provoked any reactions in India. Or possibly since most Indians swallow Western propaganda hook-line-and-sinker, having an image of a benign West, drilled into their thinking.

Who’s funding Steven Spielberg’s movies? When it seemed that Dreamworks would fold!

Anil Ambani.

Who’s funding Anil Ambani’s  power plants in India. China. Will someone in Dreamworks pay for this gross insult? Wonder if Anil Ambani has been briefed about this ‘game’ by Spielberg?

Remember Spielberg’s story on how he lifted the Satyajit Ray script for ET. Some readers have traced Spielberg’s antipathy to India, as depicted in Temple of Doom, to being ‘caught’ out in this ‘inspiration’.

Maya’s Apprentince

Many among India’s leadership have links to Western citadels of maya. Many leaders today ensure that their children are well-grounded in Western culture, education, industry, media academia. These apprentices will then try and take over papa’s fiefdom.

These ‘prince-lings’ are being well-educated by Western ‘specialist’ in maya. Propaganda.

No wonder, even before the bombed street is released, clean in Boston, Ishaan Tharoor is outlining how America can blame Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran Korea, China, Syria – everyone, except US.

Or as can be seen by the tutoring being given to Ishaan Tharoor by a Western academic.

Is this not how the West wants to keep India & China apart, glowering at each other.

Is this not how the West wants to keep India & China apart, glowering at each other.

Beijing officials are increasingly worried about India’s ambitions. If you look at the writings of Chinese experts, they refer to Indian military posturing in the Indian Ocean and also to military partnerships India is developing with several countries in Southeast Asia and East Africa. In the public realm, Chinese Netizens’ views of India are very negative. You get the sense the Chinese never seemed to expect India to climb up to the ranks of the great powers. Now, as India attempts to make that leap, the Chinese are very worried of its impact on China’s primacy in Asia.

It wouldn’t first be open war. China and India are building up their interests in conflict-prone and unstable states on their borders like Nepal and Burma — important sources of natural resources. If something goes wrong in these countries — if the politics implode — you could see the emergence of proxy wars in Asia. Distrust between India and China will grow and so too security concerns in a number of arenas. It’s an important scenario that strategic planners in both Beijing and Delhi are looking at.

At the same time, India won’t let itself be drowned in America’s orbit. It’s important for India to have its strategic independence. It has a very long and historically close relationship with Russia, which in turn is close to China. So it’s a little more complicated. I don’t think the Americans have thought very strategically about all of this.

via China-India Competition: Is a Military Clash Inevitable? – TIME.

Who are you? asks the Indian SC

April 15, 2013 1 comment

Who is it that the Indian elittes are closing the doors on? The ‘person on the road’.

In a space of one week (Apr. 3-Apr-8, 2013) three events, proved one thing. Unconnected,  well-covered by the media (specially in Mumbai), these three events had one thing in common.

Power corrupts.

And that is why in Bharattantra, power was dispersed, centralization was frowned upon, society was classified into the chatar varnashrama.

Slavery vs Freedom

In March, 1857.

About 1 month before India went up in flames, against the British Raj, the  Supreme Court of the USA (SCOTUS) covered itself in infamy. On  March 6, 1857 the US Supreme Court upheld slavery (Dred Scott v. Sanford).

In March 1857, while Indians were preparing to battle the British for freedom and independence, the SCOTUS was busy finding new ways to keep slaves – stooped, shackled and in chains.

In a complex judgement (Dred Scott v. Sanford), on March 6th, 1857, SCOTUS stopped any slave from approaching US courts for justice.

It took another 100 years of protests, assassinations of leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, even a Civil War to change rampant discrimination in the US. But, above all, finally an acute shortage of factory labor and soldiers forced the US Government to withdraw its support to entrenched racism.

The SCOTUS just did not stop at slavery.

SCOTUS supported racism (United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923)), segregation by Plessy v. Ferguson 1896. Books have been written, news journals regularly compile their ‘favorite’ lists of Worst 10 SCOTUS judgements.

Unlike the SCOTUS, the Indian SC has not allowed such unjust judgements to escape its portals. The Indian Supreme Court, in its’ short history has been a remarkable body in juridical operations.

But …

“Who are you?” the Chief Justice (Altamas Kabir) asked Swamy, who said he had moved the contempt application. “I am asking you, who are you?” the judge responded. “I am sorry you are not an advocate. You have no right to appear. You have no right to argue. What will happen if any person on the road comes and says I want to argue. You might have done it earlier, but we will not allow you.”

In a nation where “Do you know who I am?” is the ultimate assertion of power, that’s pretty much the mother of all insults. But Kabir wasn’t finished downgrading Swamy. He went on to order him out of the front row, which is “meant for lawyers, not for litigants. You have no right to sit there”.

via Supreme Court smacks down Swamy: “Who are you?” | Firstpost.

Subramaniam Swamy is a powerful politician – and at times he has been brave also. In any dispute between two powerful people, it is best that small people like us keep our distance. But, when Justice Kabir starts on ‘person on the road’ then I am angry.

Outraged.

Furious.

Corruption Is Not Only Bribes

Justice Kabir is not bigger than the ‘person the road.’ No one in this country is. The Biggest Man in this country is the ‘person on the road.’

Many a time corruption is also arrogance, Your Honour.

Of power over the lives of other people. Of being ‘above’ other people. This is probably a deeper form of corruption.

Less condemned, mostly not even recognized.

Image source & courtesy - afternoondc.in on Friday, February 22, 2013

Image source & courtesy – afternoondc.in on Friday, February 22, 2013

More Power Corrupts Even More

Second, was the Ajit Pawar urination disaster.

Under increasing pressure, Maharashtra‘s Deputy Chief Minister cracked.

Ajit Pawar was addressing a public meeting in Indapur tehsil in Pune district on Saturday. Referring to Deshmukh’s ongoing hunger strike, he said, “He is on fast for the last 55 days. If there is no water in the dam, how can we release it? Should we urinate into it? If there is no water to drink, even urination is not possible.”

via Ajit Pawar’s statement blackened face of democracy: Farmer – Mumbai – DNA.

From February 5th, 2013, between 50-400 farmers were on protest at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan. With increasing industrialization, Maharashtra Government had been prioritizing water for industrial use – depriving vast areas of water for drinking and agricultural purposes.

After days of protests, the government dragged its feet on earlier agreement to release some water for drinking purposes only – and not for agriculture.

With juicy footage looped for the next 24 hours across national television, Ajit Pawar ended up wallowing in his own filth.

MNS activists protest against Ajit Pawar's recent remarks on drought.  |  PTI Photo

MNS activists protest against Ajit Pawar’s recent remarks on drought. | PTI Photo

An apparently remorseful Ajit Pawar decide to go on a 1-day fast in atonement of his callous statement.

The State High Court went further and issued directions to the State Government to release water within 24 hours.

For old hands at the Chief Minister’s beat, this was not unprecedented. In a similar situation, Maharashtra’s earlier Chief Minister, Babasaheb Bhosale had made a similar remark.

Small consolation.

Unlike Babasaheb Bhosale, who got away with his arrogance intact, Ajit Pawar had to eat crow.

Kotak Presidium  |  Image source & courtesy - epaper.timesofindia.com

Kotak Presidium | Image source & courtesy – epaper.timesofindia.com

Three Strikes – You Are Out

Do you visit exclusive showrooms and restaurants?

More sensitive British traders in India labelled their premises as ‘exclusive’.

Who do you think they excluded?

Insensitive British officers went beyond exclusive, and displayed boards that read ‘Indians not allowed’ at various social and business premises.

This third element in the narrative is probably seen by most as harmless – which is why it is so dangerous.

It was a big advertisement by a prominent bank owned by a prominent banker, released in major newspapers like Economic Times, the Mint, etc.

Described as a meeting behind ‘closed doors’, covered by mass-media, it made me ask myself, one question.

The Supreme Court, these gatherings of financial muscle-men, who are these elitists shutting the doors on? Who are they urinating on?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

They are shutting the door on us. Pissing on us.

On us, the ‘person on the road.’



Can The Agriculture System Of The Developed West Feed the World?

Western farmers get more subsidy than the GDP of 125 countries in the world.

Used food tins with overwhelming propaganda branding stacked near the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. |  Image source - AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam; courtesy - theatlantic.com

Used food tins with overwhelming propaganda branding stacked near the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. | Image source – AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam; courtesy – theatlantic.com

Looking at butter mountains, lakes of wine and milk, in Europe and US after the starvation and famine in Africa, it can be easy to jump to wrong conclusions.

Just 60 years ago, Europe was dependent on food imports – and was on limited rations.

Food aid is frequently a market seeding program to create markets for Western food multinationals. A Somali refugee with a high-energy biscuit at the Ifo refugee camp on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya.  |  Image source - Oli Scarff/Getty Images; courtesy - theatlantic.com

Food aid is frequently a market seeding program to create markets for Western food multinationals. A Somali refugee with a high-energy biscuit at the Ifo refugee camp on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. | Image source – Oli Scarff/Getty Images; courtesy – theatlantic.com

Today the story is different.

The price of a ton of skimmed-milk powder, which in the summer of 2007 was above €3,000, had fallen roughly in half. In Germany it is currently around €1,400.

Farmers had been hit by a slump in demand for commodities caused by the global financial slowdown, and by the strength of the euro.

“We export a lot to Russia in terms of butter, cheese to the United States and milk powder to Africa and Asia, and all these are hit by the strength of the euro”.

Though the EU managed to dispense with its butter stocks in 2007, grain mountains and wine lakes still exist.

The latest figures show that 717,810 tons of cereals is piling up, along with 41,422 tons of sugar and 2.3 million hectoliters of wine, according to the European Commission.

via EU’s butter mountain is back – The New York Times.

Graphic source & courtesy - economist.com on Jul 1st 2010

Graphic source & courtesy – economist.com on Jul 1st 2010

Currently, there is belief that food shortages in the West were an exception – maybe even an aberration.

This confidence and belief has grown to the extent that the West seriously asks itself.

“But can we feed the world this way?”

following World War II, with the onset of the “Green Revolution,” feeding the world became a national mantra. It was a ubiquitous “good” that handily justified the discovery that the petrochemicals used in warfare could find postwar applications if dumped on our food supply.

However, 75 or 100 years ago, such a question would never have entered into our dialogue. To ask a local farmer or homesteader how his or her production methods were going to feed the world would have been absurd. The local producer’s job was to support the family, the community, and his or her bioregion–not the world.

Feeding the world” was the background tune playing in the bank, on the car radio of the seed salesman, in the office of the accountant as farmers were counseled to “get big or get out,” to expand their production and change their growing practices to participate in a global food supply, rather than a regional one.

Can the local, sustainable food movement in the United States feed the world? Hell, no. Nor can the industrial agricultural paradigm. No one can feed the world. One country cannot do it, nor can any specific model of production.

Thus, I leave you with one question: What can you do today that will enable the world to feed itself?

via The Downside of Expecting America’s Agriculture System to Feed the World | Alternet.

As Europe & US play out a charade of negotiations, it is Africa and Asia which is suffering from food shortages. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson; on July 5, 2005; source & courtesy - nicholsoncartoons.com

As Europe & US play out a charade of negotiations, it is Africa and Asia which is suffering from food shortages. | Cartoon by Peter Nicholson; on July 5, 2005; source & courtesy – nicholsoncartoons.com

Truthfully?

Forget about the world. Forget about pollution, environment, green-planet, ecology, rain forests et al.

Think of yourself.

Between the US and the EU, the agricultural system gets close to US$100 billion dollars. Western farmers get more subsidy than the GDP of 125 countries in the world.

Western governments subsidize their farmers by a sum greater than the GDP of countries like Morocco, Oman, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Kenya, Libya, Tanzania among many others.

The West can afford this subsidy regime for now. One more crisis like the ongoing Great Recession – and these subsidies will have to go. When agricultural subsidies to Western farmers go, food from dinner tables across the West will also vanish. As subsidies decline, Western consumers may see food shortages and nearly 50% increase in food prices.

Go.

Worry about that.

Levels of total farm income and total subsidy over the years in the US

Levels of total farm income and total subsidy over the years in the US


Live Insurance Scam: How To Steal A Trillion

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

A fool and his money are soon parted. Better that fools handover money to a Sahara or an LIC – rather than these firangi types.

Even though there are no (significant?) depositor-complaints, Sahara is being forced to refund Rs.24,000 crores to various ‘depositors’. As though, Rs.24,000 crores amount was lying around. In some account somewhere.

Rs.24,000 crores – waiting for refund command from regulatory or judicial authorities.

Unspilling Milk

I am not sure where Sahara Parivaar gets its thousands of crores from – but surely we know where most of this money goes. I can quibble about the end-use of these funds – but can’t complain.

Wonder what is bothering RBI-SEBI-SC?

Phoren Maal

On the other hand, no one seems to be bothered about a similar scam being executed in the insurance industry. The Sahara scam is being executed by a back-of-beyond Bengali-huckster who appeals to the UP-bhaiyya – and that is not acceptable.

The insurance swindle is run by foreign-returned, slick-MBA types, with MNC connections. And that is is an ‘important’ part of our economy?

A fool and his money are soon parted. Better that fools handover money to a Sahara or an LIC – rather than these firangi types.

With Sahara-LIC we know where the money is going.

When one lives in a country of over a billion people, big numbers seldom come as a surprise. But when I looked at the number of Rs.1.5 trillion, I was astounded. That’s about 1.5% of the Indian gross domestic product, was the first thought. . Knowing that the industry will come after this number, as my colleague in this work so graphically put it, with their bazookas, we did the numbers again. And again. And several times again. Checked and re-checked the methodology with insurance industry experts, actuaries and academics. We used another, totally different method to see if we were way off the mark. But the final number refused to back down. Retail investors lost a minimum of Rs.1.5 trillion to the insurance industry and its agents over a period of seven years that ended in the financial year 2011-12. Mint on 6 February 2013 here: http://bit.ly/X3YJDY.

Not only did companies manufacture toxic products, sold them through very large incentives (remember, the Insurance Act specifies the maximum limit for commissions, not the minimum), but once the policyholder let the policy lapse on finding out that it was unsuitable, kept the money with themselves, again imposing the maximum possible cost on the policyholder, and then moved that money over to their profit account. Question them about it and they say that the rules allowed it. They were just following the Insurance Act that allows them to do so after a waiting period of two years.

What next? One view is that now that the insurance regulator has changed the rules of the game, we should all get on with life. But is that the correct approach? Let’s look at how the industry behaved once the Ulip rules were changed in 2010. It moved to producing and selling traditional plans which still had all the features that made Ulips toxic.

The regulator will now change these rules as well to take most of the toxicity out before the end of the current fiscal year. But what does this market behaviour say about the industry? It says that the industry will continue to find loopholes in the rules and will use them to the detriment of the investor. What will make them move from checking regulatory boxes to really looking after the policyholder? It could be the fear of big ticket penalties.

We’ve proved that policyholders have lost huge sums of money. We now need the finance minister to put in place a mechanism to get this money disgorged and returned to the policyholder. And a stiff penalty for doing what they did.

via How to steal a trillion – Livemint.

The Corruption Dilema: Fall Of Activist Politicians

January 26, 2013 2 comments

Artificial conflict between ‘corruption-performance’ vs ‘clean-ineffective’ has riven Indian polity.

The problem with conflict of interest  |  Creative credits embedded

The problem with conflict of interest | Creative credits embedded

In the quest for ‘progress’ and development, Indians have come to expect greater speed and ‘efficiency. Any delay in ‘obvious’ cases of decision-making are see as signs of Indian ‘inefficiency.

Ignoring Appearances – Conflict of Interest

To overcome this tag of ‘inefficiency’ some Indian politicians have fallen into the track of ‘activist’ development. In such a framework, getting things done becomes genuinely more important than who does the job – or who benefits. Conflict of interest is seen as an artificial restraint – sophistry at best and lame excuses usually.

Falling On A Sword

One of the earliest such political leader in India was Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon. Chief Minster from 1956-1964, of the united Punjab, before the split into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Kairon was a whirlwind whose governance motto was performance.

For instance, Pratap Singh Kairon, actively worked to introduce lichees in Pathankot, potatoes in Spiti and personally directed the development of a seed-less variety of table grapes, that was fungus resistant. This ‘brave’ tale of Pratap Singh Kairon, much written about, was narrated to me by an agri-business technologist, in Hyderabad.

Or behind the funding of Chetan Anand’s Haqeeqat – the Bollywood tribute to Indian soldiers of 1962 war by China on India. To a nation traumatized by the 1962 experience, the Government turned to Bollywood for a healing narrative.

Prior to Haqeeqat, war films were unknown to viewers in the country. The morale of India was shattered after the hard-hitting defeat in the 1962 war with China.

Anand was passing through a very lean phase of his career in the 1960s, with almost no work. It was at this crucial juncture that Punjab chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon offered him finance and support to make a docu-fiction on defeated soldiers, with the 1962 Sino-Indo war as the backdrop. Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister, also promised help as he was keen that the betrayal of India’s respected neighbour be projected on celluloid.

Chetan Anand started working on Haqeeqat in an unconventional way.

via Celluloid war chimeras.

Corruption allegations is one good way to paralyze a government  |  Cartoon by TN Ninan

Corruption allegations is one good way to paralyze a government | Cartoon by TN Ninan

And those who wish to appear clean – are then portrayed as ineffective. This artificial conflict between ‘corruption-performance’ versus ‘clean-ineffective’ has riven Indian Indian polity for no real reason.

Except false moral standards.


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