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Posts Tagged ‘Indian Economy’

BMC’s dome gets a touch of gold

Gold plated offices! Our colonial heritage must be be gold plated and saved!

Gold plated offices! Our colonial heritage must be be gold plated and saved!

“During our research, we found that there were traces of gold in the original dome. We wanted to restore it to its original glory,’’ said architect and heritage conservationist Abha Narain Lambah. “The gold leaf gilding has been done by a team of craftsmen from Jaipur under the supervision of Ghanshyamdas Nimbarak, who has done gilding work for the Mumbai University’s convocation hall,’’ she said.

In 2007, the BMC floated tenders for restoring the building, pegged as the largest conservation project in India. Expected to be completed in two years, the Rs 60 crore project involves an overhaul of the main heritage building of the BMC as well as the annexe. The project is being carried out by architects Shimul Javeri Kadri, Shashi Prabhu and Lambah. The tenders for the second phase of the project—upgradation of the annexe building—have been floated and work is likely to begin soon. (via BMC’s dome gets a touch of gold).

Our colonial buildings are so important!

This is the most awesome and perverse piece of monstrosity that independent and free India could have come up with. While the ASI on one hand says that they will abandon Buddhist caves because they cannot be saved – yet the administration is gold plating colonial eye-sores – which are also their own offices.

Are there any words to describe this abuse of public office?

What benefit are Buddhist caves

But it cant hurt these architects to be ‘restoring’ the BMC offices. To have access to the BMC, which controls construction in the most expensive real estate market of India must be advantageous. Where real estate rates cross or equal Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Paris, London, New York!

On the other hand, what advantage can it be to be conserving Buddhist caves in Mumbai?

End of the Asian premium on oil?

Citibank has been saved 3 times in 30 years!

Citibank has been saved 3 times in 30 years!

Resource-scarce economies, such as China, India, Japan and South Korea, have long been heavily dependent on oil from the Middle East, giving producers there the upper hand in pricing. The surcharge, known as the “Asian premium,” has averaged about $1.20 a barrel since 1988.

Now, the tables are turning, handing an advantage to the region’s fast-growing countries in the form of relatively less expensive energy.

In March, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, sold its Arab Light crude to Asia for $6.37 less per barrel than it charged European buyers … Kuwait and Iraq also followed suit … though official statistics aren’t yet available.

The latest flip in prices has led many analysts to conclude that fundamental changes in the global oil trade will soon eliminate the Asian premium for good, eliminating a drag on the region’s economy. In 2008, for example, Asian customers bought about 14 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East, according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy. The premium averaged $8.08 a barrel that year, amounting to about $41 billion. (via Economic Clout Earns Asia an Oil Discount – WSJ.com).

Economic miracles

Going down the drain!

Going down the drain!

One by one, each Asian country has been able to pull itself out colonial cess-pit that seemed bottomless at one point of time. Barring a few like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, some Central Asian republics, Asia is truly on its way out of the 20th century misery.

There are two economic miracles. One we have seen.

It is a miracle that Asia has been able to come out of its poverty pit, where it found itself in the 20th century – especially after WW2.

The greater miracle will be when Europe and Middle East find a way to rebuild their economic model – without the Asian premium!

And that is the miracle we may not see!

Mukesh Ambani weighs in on taxi drivers’ side. Infrastructure for the poor – III

February 7, 2010 3 comments

… During a panel discussion at the London School of Economics organised to release Rajya Sabha MP N.K. Singh’s book Not by Reason Alone: The Politics of Change … Mr. Ambani’s remark (ed) that while India’s corporate world had moved away from ‘licence raj’ after economic liberalisation, Mumbai’s “poor taxi-walla is still dealing with licence raj” was received with applause from the gathering. (via The Hindu : News / National : Mumbai belongs to all of India: Mukesh Ambani, bold letters added).

Concerned Mukesh Ambani

Kolkatta taxis - not much better off than Mumbai taxi-wallahs

Kolkatta taxis - not much better off than Mumbai taxi-wallahs

Mr.Ambani is seriously and really surprised and bothered that ‘liberalization’ has left the poor and the small people in India behind.

I could suspect that Mr.Ambani was scoring brownie points in London. Or I can suspect he was being simply ‘correct’.

But this simple observation is so direct, that it would be churlish on my part to recognize this remark for what it is. Mukesh Ambani is bothered about this regulatory overload.

You are right Mukeshbhai! As usual, in ‘Desert Bloc’ political duratantrik systems, which ‘modern’ India explicitly follows, the poor are forgotten. That is not unusual.

Your care and concern, Mukeshbhai,  is unusual.

Kolkatta taxis – not much better off than Mumbai taxi-wallahs (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

Jagdish Bhagwati lays out diaspora’s impact on India

January 10, 2010 3 comments
Why are we not grateful to The Great Indian Diaspora?

Why are we not grateful to The Great Indian Diaspora?

Indeed, over time, the flood of such stories coming from the diaspora helped lay the groundwork for the abolition of the senseless licensing restrictions on capacity creation, product diversification, on import competition, that became part of the liberal reforms.

In the case of Japan, its transformation through major initiatives throughout the Meiji era was accomplished rather by sending gifted Japanese abroad to bring back ideas that were adapted to Japan’s culture and needs. In our case, the diaspora has served that function.

But the diaspora has also contributed to India’s achievement of world-class status by its achievements in a variety of fields of science, arts and culture. Noting this growing trend in the United States, I once remarked that we were the next Jews of America: a high-achieving diaspora that would soon dominate the scene as the Jews, once discriminated against brutally, had managed to do. Today, that forecast has come true. (via Jagdish Bhagwati: Diaspora impact on a changing India).

I am not proud of diaspora’s success

Mr.Bhagwati – let me be honest (I usually try and also succeed, at honesty, I mean).

I am very happy for the Indian diaspora – where ever they have succeeded. You will also find that I am not proud of it – because we, the desis, had very little (if anything at all) to do with your success. And we, poor country desi bumpkins that we are , we should realize that – fast.

So, taking pride in the diaspora’s success is hypocrisy on our part. It is recognized by (many of) us, we desis, that we cannot and do not want to provide the means, infrastructure, capacity, rewards and recognition that the West provides to get the output that Indians have produced in other parts of the world. Only too happy with your success – and we should take no pride or credit for it. Period. We are also very grateful that you have decided to keep your Indian passport – and not exchanged it for another country’s.

No reminders … puhleeze

I will not remind you about the benefit of the highly subsidized English language education – for which India’s poor have paid through their nose. Only to find that the bird’s fly the coop when the time came (poor idealistic sods, these desis!). I would like to see how many of the Indian diaspora have succeeded in France, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Korea, Germany, Russia – or now China!

Coming to the Indian ‘success’. This great liberalization that you are going rah-rah about!

The Great Indian progress

The poor, landless labourer, remains poor and landless. Hardly any change. The only way he can get educated is, if he agrees to learn English! The Indian State does not allow private sector into education – and denies him education in the manner and medium that he is comfortable with.

Shh ... How can you point out such 'truths'!

Shh ... How can you point out such 'truths'!

Coming to business – the SME sector remains at the fringe, and over-burdened with a regulatory overload. The only people who have seen a reduction in regulatory overload is Big Business.

Anyway, let us not quibble. The Indian economy has become a force to reckon with – and we Indians can feel proud of that. With your permission, that is! Of course, if you feel, that we should not take any credit for this, and the diaspora remote-controlled that too, I will defer to you.

Behind the ‘success’

Poor country bumpkin, that I am, I need your guiding light. Can you enlighten me about your opening comment, when you say “Indian policy framework had degenerated into an unproductive, even counterproductive, set of policy choices that had produced the abysmal growth rate of approximately 3.5 per cent per annum over nearly a quarter of a century.”

I have only one troubling question. When you speak of ‘degeneration’, the logical question is degenerate from what? From the Colonial Raj policy framework? Or is it the Maratha or Mughal policy framework? Or is it the Gupta or Maurya framework.

Policy options before Bombay High

When you talk of “external payments crisis in 1991 was the occasion for changes that would systematically begin to discard the policy framework” my chanchal mind (curse it!) begins to wonder again. What choices did India have before the Oil discovery at Bombay High? With a flat -on-its-back industrial and agriculture sector, with low capital, with a starving nation, what options did India have? Before Bombay High? If you can kindly enlighten me with the policy choices that India had earlier?

After Bombay High, India could start cracking the whip. The 1977 Janata Government, with comfortable foreign exchange and grain reserves, could take some bold policy decisions. IBM and Coca-Cola walked out. My sluggish memory recalls George Fernandes doing something about this.

A chastened Indira Gandhi

In 1980, Indira Gandhi started with de-licensing the auto sector and the consumer goods sector. With declining dependence on oil imports, India had foreign exchange to invest in building a agricultural and industrial base. This gradual liberalization continued – in spite of many democratic regime changes. My desi,  mand and moti buddhi tells me that broadly this was something that India could manage. One may quibble or cavil – but broadly where were the choices? Am I missing something?

Post 1991, choices are there for all to see.

Where would India be without its entrepreneurs

The current respect that India gets is for two reasons – both home-grown. The Indian software success was entirely home grown – without multi-national inputs, technology, entities, funding. To grow from nearly 50 million to 50 billion in a matter of 20 years – is something that we desis will have to give credit to the diaspora, I presume. Narayana Murthy, Azim Premjee, Rajendra Pawar, Fakirchand Kohli are just presumptuous upstarts who do not know when to be grateful! They have should have banged their head at the altar of the Great Indian Diaspora! I agree, Mr.Bhagwati.

Same case with the pharmaceutical industry, also I presume. Parvinder Singh, Yusuf Hamied, all the pharma czars from Ameerpet, Hyderabad are taking credit, which should rightfully go the Great Indian Diaspora.

The Indian auto-component sector, which has given rise to the Bajaj, TVS, Tatas, Mahindras are again, I presume,  being unduly arrogant of their success. They should quietly give all the credit (not to mention the profits, control, shares) to the Great Indian Diaspora.

I can go on with this list – Shri Pujya Jagdish Bhagwatiji. But you are right. We should now go out and build four temples at the chaar dhaam to the Great Indian Diaspora without whom India would have been nowhere.

What ungrateful wretches, we desi Indians are!

The road from Copenhagen | Ed Miliband | Comment is free | The Guardian

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment
Stop this scaremongering! We got enough problems of our own to worry about yours!

Stop this scaremongering! We got enough problems of our own to worry about yours!

We did not get an agreement on 50% reductions in global emissions by 2050 or on 80% reductions by developed countries. Both were vetoed by China, despite the support of a coalition of developed and the vast majority of developing countries. Indeed, this is one of the straws in the wind for the future: the old order of developed versus developing has been replaced by more interesting alliances. (via The road from Copenhagen | Ed Miliband | Comment is free | The Guardian).

Old bulldog … old tricks

President Bharrat Jagdeo. *Photo credit: thereddsite.files.wordpress.com

President Bharrat Jagdeo. *Photo credit: thereddsite.files.wordpress.com

Gordon Brown, The British Prime Minister declared, “today, together with Norway and Australia, the UK is taking a further step to a Copenhagen agreement: publishing a framework for the long-term transfer of resources to meet the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries.” (Paris Hilton note, who the PM of Britain is!)

More interesting was when Europe went ahead and committed funds and disbursed carbon credits. Small amounts – but nevertheless a significant step! So, what gives! How come Europe was disbursing – not serious money, but more than pocket money, without using IMF, World Bank, et al. No UN! How come?

Anglo-Euro efforts

The joint trojan operation (Norway, Australia and UK + EU) against China (or was it India?) was immaculately pursued. Bernarditas de Castro Muller, former lead coordinator and negotiator for the G77 and China in Copenhagen, writing in the Guardian of UK, reported,

The UK financed workshops in selected vulnerable countries and deployed climate envoys. One of its envoys told intransigent negotiators that the UK would mobilise a group of vulnerable countries to pressure the major developing countries – such as China, Brazil and India – into committing to emissions reductions, contrary to their obligations under the climate treaty.

The EU for example made sustained attempts to influence and pressure developing nations – something that only served to increase their cohesion. They bribed where they could, promising the same recycled financing and maybe more to come if countries bent to their demands. And they bullied when they could not bribe.

India’s neighbours, like Maldives, Bangladesh were co-opted – as were countries, led people of Indian extract like Caribbean island of Guyana, Mauritius. The strategy was to isolate China and pair India with the ‘vulnerble 14’ – like Maldives, Guyana, Bangldesh, etc. For instance, alongwith Mohammed Nasheed, Bharrat Jagdeo in Guyana, was faultlessly pursued. Long ignored and isolated, countries like Guyana suddenly found themselves in the spotlight.

Agreeably surprised, they wondered how Guyana “received a disproportionate amount of coverage and access given its size for its progressive and leading stance on climate change.” Time magazine nominated Guyanese president Bharrat Jagdeo, as one of Heroes of the Environment 2008. This year Time magazine included Mohammed Nasheed in its Heroes of the Environment 2009. It was also announced,

Stabroek News in Guyana has confirmed that President Bharrat Jagdeo has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to combat climate  change. He was nominated by Professor David Dabydeen, Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick.

US actor Harrison Ford and Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo at a news conference about forest protection on September 21, 2009 in New York. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

US actor Harrison Ford and Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo at a news conference about forest protection on September 21, 2009 in New York. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

The Commonhealth Heads meeting a few weeks before Copenhagen was supposed to seal this ‘alliance.’ Intriguingly, the French President Sarkozy joined the Commonwealth Summit, with Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon – and proposed a US$10 billion fund for climate change. Just imagine the French joining in a Commonwealth meet (a first, I would think).

Possibly it was the US efforts which made China and India stand together at Copenhagen.

Why the US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol?

The political undertones of climate control talks are unravelling. The first major smoke signal was when the USA refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol – while talking about global warming and climate change at the same time. Sometimes puzzling and wholly beyond understanding! The lip service paid by the US to climate change can be best summarized by a Hindi idom हाथी के दांत, खाने के एक, दिखाने के एक. Meaning, elephants have two sets of teeth – one for actual use and another for show.

Cynical subversion of media, honours and public opinion

Cynical subversion of media, honours and public opinion

The third element in the multilateral equations set was the efforts made by Bush /Obama to get India and China to ‘get on the climate change band wagon’ with the US. The Chinese ‘unilateral’ announcement of ‘voluntary’ carbon intensity cut after Obama’s trip to China a few days before Copenhagen was a signpost of this unusual ‘alliance’. India followed soon thereafter with its own ‘voluntary’ carbon intensity cuts. One of the justifications of Bush’s nuclear deal with India was climate change.

This US master-stroke of Obama+BASIC meeting, ensured that the “only breakthrough was the political coup for China and India in concluding the anodyne communiqué with the United States behind closed doors, with Brazil and South Africa allowed in the room and Europe left to languish in the cold outside.”

In hindsight, US covert resistance to climate change was actually resistance to the monopolisation by the EU on the climate change agenda and campaign. Under the garb of climate change, EU was trying to do what US did to the world, under the garb of poverty elimination, population control, Bretton Woods in the aftermath of WW2.

What were the BASIC countries resisting

Writing from a Western standpoint, John Lee, in the Guardian, of the UK, faults China for not allowing,

“Teams of international economists, scientists, inspectors and statisticians roaming China to gather information on carbon emissions and reduction initiatives … reporting to political masters in America and Europe … (on) the further problem of cheating in current and future carbon reduction schemes.” (ellipsis and linking text in brackets mine).

The Climate Change Agreement would have delivered us - hog tied and helpless!

The Climate Change Agreement would have delivered us - hog tied and helpless!

Ed Milliband, Britain’s Energy Minister, younger brother of British foreign secretary, David Miliband, writing for the Guardian,

“We cannot again allow negotiations … to be hijacked in this way. We will need to have major reform of the UN body overseeing the negotiations and of the way the negotiations are conducted (for this) global campaign, co-ordinated by green NGOs, backed by business … we must keep this campaign going and build on it. It needs to be more of a genuinely global mobilisation, taking in all countries …this year has proved what can be done, as well as the scale of the challenge we face. (ellipsis and emphasis mine).

Indeed much has been done.

Face behind the mask

Faceless NGOs, without accountability to anyone, were able to bring global political leadership, to the very brink of an agreement. Like Milliband’s boss, Gordon Brown remarked, “the political will to secure the ambitious agreement … comprehensive and global agreement that is then converted to an internationally legally binding treaty in no more than six months.was very much there. The same 25,000 people (25 countries x 1000 powerful people) who rule over the G8-/OECD wanted the poor to invite these 25,000 to have undue and illegitimate oversight over our ‘poor’ lives – in the name of climate change.

The message I got ... loud and clear

The message I got ... loud and clear

To deliver more than 600 crore (6 billion) of humanity to an agreement that would have allowed the likes of the Milliband Brothers (and their NGO ‘partners-in-crime’) to pry into our lives, our affairs and dictate our very existence – with our own consent. Without recourse, with no checks and balances. With large amounts of unaccounted money at their disposal. To decide how we live our lives. Under a system, that would have re-invented colonialism, in a way wholly unknown to us earlier.

Any deal was a bad deal

Last time around, India was called the deal breaker at Doha. This time around, it is China. Who gets called, what by whom, may seems unimportant! But as my grandfather reminded me many times, बद हो जाओ, लेकिन बदनाम नहीं (Beware of getting a bad reputation).

The Guardian, goes onto say, “Only China is mentioned specifically in Miliband’s article but aides tonight made it clear that he included Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, which also tried to resist a deal being signed.” Sadly India is not included in this list of ‘deniers’ who are, as Gordon Brown puts it, “anti-science and anti-change environmental Luddites who seek to stand in the way of progress.”

Climate control noise is just drowning out all debate

Climate control noise is just drowning out all debate

How I wish India was blamed for the failure of Copenhagen!

De-construction of climate change by 2ndlook

We can challenge India on Copenhagen goals: US – Global Warming – Environment – Home – The Times of India

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

We know how this place got so dirty

We know how this place got so dirty

White House senior advisor David Axelrod told CNN that the Copenhagen Accord would allow US verification. “Now China and India have set goals. We are going to be able to review what they are doing. We are going to be able to challenge them if they do not meet those goals,” Axelrod said.

While this was probably intended to keep the enraged constituencies of US labour unions at bay, who had insisted that Barack Obama come back with a commitment from India and China for carbon cuts and their verification, these statements will only fuel a fire in countries like China and India. (via We can challenge India on Copenhagen goals: US – Global Warming – Environment – Home – The Times of India).

Like last time

This time around, based on similarly dubious research, India is being pressured to accept monitoring of climate change. Climate control and the Copenhagen meet is that fast growing octopus which is spreading out. It tentacles can be found in all kinds of places. One of its tentacles has reached India – which was any way the target. The Aspen Institute, India (AII).

Something doesn't add up ...
Something doesn’t add up …

To ’soften’ up India, the AII organized a gab-fest. Who could be a good candidate for a gathering of such worthies? At least, Nobel Prize winners. Rajendra Pachauri? Al Gore? Any better candidates. Yes.

Amartya Sen – who ‘graced’ this gab-fest, hosted by Aspen Institute, India (AII) – an ‘associate’ of Aspen Institute, USA. Amartya Sen is tenderizing up the media, the academia, to accept Copenhagen outcome – which is primarily International ‘monitoring’ of India’s climate control and administration. Does Amartya Sen raise any of these questions? For his efforts to weaken Indian position and interests, Amartya Sen will soon qualify as a unique category of Indian passport holder – Non-Resident, Non-Indian, holding an Indian passport.

The AII-Board of Trustees reads more like Who’s Who of Indian industry – Bajaj, Birla, Godrej, Thapar et al.

The carbon credits ‘opportunity’

The rich fat-cats are already licking the chops. Estimates have been put out that the ‘carbon-credits business s worth Rs.28,000 crores.

Interestingly, note one thing very carefully. No one, but none, is talking up about cleaning up on pollution. No industry is being asked to reduce their pollutants (think of inks, dyes and chemicals), manage by-products (sulphur from petroleum refining), eliminate contamination (paper plants), decrease waste (electronics), recycle (just imagine the number of mobile phone batteries).

Dada Amartya, you got a memory lapse! How come you  don’t talk about any of this?

Polluter cleans – not pay

One of the fundamental flaws of the Kyoto Protocol was the principal of ‘polluter pays’. Based on retributive justice logic, it was something that was bound to fail. Instead it should have been based on the Indic justice principle – ameliorative and make good. The operating principle should have been ‘polluter cleans and does not pollute again.’

Camels … in the kingdom of heaven

Copenhagen is for the rich (from poor countries), by the rich (from rich countries) to the rich (from poor and rich countries) – and may the poor and common be damned. And one thing you can be absolutely, completely, definitely, positively, wholly sure of.

The poor will never, ever, at all, in any manner, benefit from climate control.

Copenhagen Talks End With Agreement, But No Binding Deal – AlterNet

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment
Too much money ... creating too much of maya

Too much money ... creating too much of maya

Environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben of 350.org voiced his disapproval. (and) summarized what Obama accomplished:

He formed a league of super-polluters, and would-be super-polluters. China, the U.S., and India don’t want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way.

(via Copenhagen Talks End With Agreement, But No Binding Deal: So, How Screwed Are We? | Environment | AlterNet).

QED

On Aug 14, 2009, a Quicktake post wondered if this entire climate change and global warming had something to do with coal-fired power plants.

This is too close to my dis-comfort zone

This is too close to my dis-comfort zone

Bill McKibben’s peeve does prove that this is indeed the case.

Now, coal is the cheapest way to generate electricity. Looking at the shortfall in electricity, and Indian consumers’ ability to pay, coal is the answer.

To low costs, add the fact that India has coal reserves that will last for the next 100 years – at least. But, coal-generated electricity, will also makes India industrially competitive.

And we don’t want that, do we? Right, Billy Boy!

Inside Indian bedrooms

60years ago, an assault was made by foreign ‘observers’ into Indian bedrooms. Foreign ‘observers’

  1. Tied ‘development aid’ to India’s population control.
  2. Trained Indian ‘health workers’ to control India’s human reproductive behaviour.
  3. Paid for by Western Governments, soon after that, we had ‘health workers’ fanning out across the Indian country-side, conducting  vasectomies /tubectomies on India’s (especially poor) population.
Is this the science we are talking about?

Is this the science we are talking about?

It did not matter then, who the ‘observers’ were – foreign or Indian. Neither does it matter now. What matters is someone’s monitoring. And I don’t like that at all.

Even if the monitors have brown skins (my liking for brown skin notwithstanding). Even if it comes with a recommendation from Nobel prize winner, Amartya Sen. How Indian power producers generate electricity is our business.

Getting a handle on the Indian  economy is the second and related part of the agenda.

An agenda, I don’t like.

All that nice, fresh, white newsprint …

Wasted!

Just the amount of newsprint that has been devoted to climate change and global warming must have raised temperatures (going by the ‘warmers’ calculations and estimates) enough to make this debate of questionable value. To that add, the amount of gimmickry and media overdrive (through slick PR) that raises many doubts and questions.

Hush, boy! Do not even mention ‘scientific manipulation’.

Just look at the record.

The most prominent and vocal votary of Climate Change was Al Gore – who was promptly awarded the Nobel Prize. The recruitment of Maldives and the positioning of President Mohammed Nasheed was again a very slick operation. The underwater Maldives cabinet meeting had a interesting story.

Maldivian officials said the idea to hold the attention-grabbing underwater cabinet meeting came from President Mohamed Nasheed when he was asked by an activist group to support its “environmental day” action on October 24.

“The 350.org group asked if the Maldives can hold an underwater banner supporting environmental day,” an official from the president’s office said.

“The president thought for a while and then came up with the idea to have an underwater cabinet meeting.” (via Maldives cabinet rehearses underwater meeting).

Is this the problem?

Is this the problem?

Propping up Maldives as ‘fifth’ column was done over the last more than 20 years. Based on excellent PR and media management skills, the Maldives was the trojan horse loosed on the G77+Basic grouping.

350.org is rather well armed on the PR front – with a specific agency for South Asia itself. The PR agency for the Maldives Travel and Tourism Authority McCluskey International does  seem to either bask in reflected glory – or is hinting at the authorship of this stunt. The Maldives climate change campaign seems to be headquarted in Britain also.

Been there and done that

The hallmark of the Maldives’ climate  change campaign has been it slick PR. Dramatic statements, intriguing sound bites, the Maldives’ campaign was beyond the common bureaucratic ‘creature’ – much less a Maldives’ bureaucrat. This is consistent and in line with Al Gore’s media and public relations management – which won the PR agency, the campaign of the year award. And Al Gore the Nobel Prize.

All this is much like, how from the early 1950’s to the late eighties, the Western world created hysteria regarding ‘population explosion’  in India and China. Enormous pressures were brought onto the Chinese and Indian Governments to ‘control’ their populations.

Same game, different name! Doesn’t wash. Just like last time.

Related Posts

Indian education – Stirrings at the margin

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

“Over 2 million children in 2,200 private schools across the country use his ‘Smartclass’ every day; 4 lakh kids so far are registered with online tutorial site WiZiQ; 4 lakh teachers have been trained just this year in skills they would have learnt if they had done a basic BEd; 14,000 computer labs have been built in government schools …

As for whether the distance education model is flagging, Prakash points to how its share in his revenues (65 per cent at the moment) is rising — just 2,200 of the 75,000 private schools have his Smartclasses and just 14,000 of the 925,000 government schools are covered by his computer labs, an indication of how much more scope there is.

According to a CLSA brokerage report, Prakash says, Indians spend $25 billion (Rs 112,500 crore) a year on education till Class 12 and another $5.5 billion on tutoring — needless to say, he wants to be part of this great business where, to quote him, demand outstrips supply by a huge margin and the business is cash-flow negative.

Much is known about 15-year old Educomp and its success — Revenues are up from Rs 112 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 517 crore in 2008-09; Return on Investment (RoI) from 12.92 to 16.04 per cent in the same period; Return on Capital Employed (RoCE) from 28.5 to 27.8 per cent; Return on Net Worth (RoNW) from 24.1 to 35.6 per cent … today, with 400 people just developing education content, in ten Indian languages, Prakash says, he has the largest team doing such work in the world.” (via Lunch with BS: Shantanu Prakash).

After 60 years …

More than 60 years after the departure of the British, Indian media at least seems to adore ‘phoren’ educated politicians as the following news extract shows. Another journalist was effusive in praise when a DMK minister, Azhagiri took oath of office in ‘faultless’ English.

Indian-English language media today finds merit just because these Central ministers are ‘phoren’ returned. While, Indian Universities have become recruiting grounds and supply centres to the West for trained and qualified manpower, Indian media thinks that only ‘phoren’ educated and returned are good enough.

Team Manmohan crammed with A-listers

Manmohan Inc’s team would be any multinational corporation’s dream. Resume for resume, its key members are in a league of their own.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) council of ministers, led by the 78-year-old Cambridge-educated economist, has at least 14 ministers who have graduated from Ivy League universities like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and of course, Oxbridge. There are also Cabinet members who have degrees from US universities. (via Team Manmohan crammed with A-listers- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times).

English language media in India is still in its colonial haze – and to see such decadent, colonial ideas, 60 years after the British were thrown out, boggles my imagination. To approve of a politician, because he has English-language skills, or their ‘phoren’ education seems so important to these journalists, who seem to be wagging their ‘colonial’ tail with such approval – and vigor.

These journalists instead should have been worried that 60 years on, Indian Universities don’t seem to be meeting standards. And looking at the (seeming) failure of these Universities.

Higher education in India

This (mixed record) of Indian Universities can largely be laid at the doorsteps of the faulty educational policies that Indian Governments have been following. For one, why is the State increasing its role in education. For another, why is the Indian State supporting English language education with thousands of crores of subsidies – while Indian language education languishes.

80% of India’s population is excluded from higher education as Indian higher system is predominantly in English. Hence, this puts a premium on English – and discounts Indian languages in the educational sweepstakes. The negative effect this on Indian self esteem is not even a point of discussion here.

The principle of exclusion (a colonial idea) is a dominant marker of the entire Indian education system – rather than inclusion. British (and before that Islamic rulers’) colonial practices supported foreign languages on the backs of the Indian taxpayers’ contribution – and actively worked on destruction of local cultures.

For instance, in the erstwhile State Of Hyderabad (equal to about 10%-12% of modern India), ruled by the Nizam, a large non-British kingdom, 2000 year old local languages like Telugu and Marathi were considered uncouth and barbaric languages – compared to a 700 year old language like Urdu, which was supported by the State. Thus anyone without the knowledge of Urdu was excluded from the system. So it is now in India, with English.

This restricts 80% of India’s population from contribution and access to opportunity. Without looking at it from an ethical point, but purely as an economic question means we should look at the cost of this policy.

English In Higher Education Institutions

The problem is actually higher education. What is the future of Marathi medium students once they reach higher education institutions? The Indian state is penalizing the Indian tax payer by granting a monopoly to English in higher education.

Cost to the Indian economy

How does this hinder India? India loses every year about 200,000 highly educated people to the West. These 200,000 people have been educated at subsidized Indian Universities at a considerable cost to the poor Indian taxpayer. What return does the tax payer get from this? Negative returns.

What happens when English stops being an important language in the global sphere? What use will India’s investment in English be at that time? And this will happen sooner than we imagine – at a greater cost than we believe.

The Indian tax payer is creating a large body of English trained graduates, who are finally picked up by Western economies at zero cost. If these Indian graduates were trained in Indian languages, the West may find it difficult to absorb them at zero cost.

English education is now clearly a liability.

What is the cost of switching from English?

Assuming that a 100,000 essential books need to translated into local languages, at a cost of say Rs.100,000 per book, it still amounts to Rs.1000 crores. Is that a large sum of money for modern India. Hardly.

What is the loss to India? How much does this reduce India’s growth rate by? Hard numbers – but definitely big numbers.

So why is India persisting with this policy. Because all the high and mighty, finally want their children to ‘escape to the West’, with a good education from India – at the cost of India’s poor. This vested interest makes this policy go around.

And a lot of propaganda.

Backdoor privatization

The Vedanta industrial group is setting up a University in Orissa. From a campus at the new Lavassa township, Oxford is going to start offering courses. These and other represent the quiet backdoor ‘privatization’ of Indian higher education.

Hidden subsidies

Large tracts of lands are being acquired by the Government, and handed over for a pittance to the private sector. Soon, we will have competition between State Sector subsidized English education – and private sector subsidized education.

Who will help Indian languages get back on their feet

While Indian language Universities are struggling – for funding, respect, status, support, foreign Universities, using paper money, backed by the Bretton Woods fraud, will impose their ideas, culture, etc in India.

While the English speaking economic bloc is struggling, India is not focussing on the French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese Blocs which are large, excellent opportunities.

This can be a way out …

This actually is a good way out. There is a significant demand for English language education – at least currently. This demand can be met by the private sector. In the meantime, misdirected State subsidies can be gainfully used to help Indian language education get back on its feet.

In the not very long run, the state must get out of business of making up the minds of its citizens.

India starts investing in Indian languages?Quantcast

On the ground, classical language status has meant substantial funds and awards. The solution to such vexed claims and counterclaims may rest in the central government giving up its partisan patronage of Sanskrit and Hindi, and providing the wherewithal for all languages. What languages are classical or not is best left to the scholars. (via Is classical language status meaningless?- Et Debate-Opinion-The Economic Times).

It has taken India 60 years to start with some small investments in Indian languages.

The Indian education system excludes a vast majority of Indians from the higher education system – which is predominantly in English. This puts a premium on English – and discounts Indian languages in the educational sweepstakes. The disadvantaged students who have studied in Indian languages ensure that their children get the ‘advantage’ of English education.

The negative effect this on Indian self esteem is not even a point of discussion here.

End of the road … the bankrupt model

This Indian education model was, till about a 150 years ago, unique in the world. With the highest literacy ratio in the world, and completely privately funded, it set global and historic benchmarks. This model has been buried under a mound of silence – and once in a while you get a glimpse of this.

My first glimpse of this model was through the draft of Parag Tope’s forthcoming book – Operation Red Lotus.

I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out. They scratched the soil and began to look at the root, and left the root like that, and the beautiful tree perished. (Gandhiji, at Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, Oct 1931 – extracted from Indian Models Of Economy Business And Management By Kanagasabapathi; Page 60).

Gandhiji, in correspondence with Sir Philip Hartog, (chairman of the Auxiliary Committee on Education), laid out the the pre-colonial scenario, which has now been buttressed by research by Dharampal, a Gandhian, in his book, Beautiful Tree, Indian Education in the 18th century.

Sreelatha Menon, seemingly, depends on Tooley’s own PR handouts to write this up. In the entire post in Business Standard, she never makes a mention of Dharampal, whose work is the most authoritative today. Tooley, a (for sometime) IFC-World Bank employee, this research resulted, (funded by the Templeton Foundation) in a book – of course called, The Beautiful Tree.

Between a rock and a hard place

Dharampal’s pioneering work, in 1983, has, not surprisingly, been ignored by the Amartya Sens and The Jean Drezes of the world – all their avid followers in India. Kapil Sibal has been trying to further the colonial British efforts by laying out a red carpet for foreign universities – while tying up Indian institutions into-knots-into-knots-into-knots. The ‘modern’ theory about Indian education goes that all credit for Indian education should go either to the British Colonial Raj or the Christian Missionary Benevolence.

The health care (USA), social welfare (USA), employment benefits (UK), showcase countries (Japan), are running countries into the ground. India has, as yet, not gone down that path. Though, the Indian State has been trying – quite hard.

The bubble you know

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment

A Chinese bubble has been deflated. Too bad it’s the wrong one. The main Shanghai stock market index has fallen 23% from its peak at the beginning of August, reversing half of the run-up that started early in 2009. That’s a welcome correction, but it doesn’t mean a return to normality, or address the bigger bubble round the corner.

Shares were driven up by a belief in China’s recovery – and by a rush of liquidity. The fall occurred because both were gently dampened. Politicians have warned that economic recovery isn’t a done deal. Monetary authorities drained some liquidity from the market, curbed certain kinds of lending and asked banks to show restraint. (via The bubble you know).

Look ma, Green shoots

Look ma, "Green shoots"

The long and short

The US economy is going to take some time to recover – a long time. Green shoots versus Brown Weeds is the kind of empty debate which covers the complete lack of visibility on the probable outcome that economists have.

The Japanese have finally decided to sack the LDP – after more than 50 years. The Japanese do not expect any major recovery or growth to happen for the next few years.

Europe is in the boondocks – and is unlikely to come out out of this soon. Their most feasible European option is a greater role for public sector – which the Europeans seem to have embraced in a bear hug.

The BRICs of global economy

Which leaves the BRIC countries. Russia is too dependent on high raw material prices – which need greater demand from the world economy to make a difference. Russia feeds on high growth rates – but cannot be the reason for growth of the global economy.

Ditto for Brazil. Which leaves the world with India and China. Let us first take the Chinese case first.

How ln can this model work

How ln can this model work

Biting the bullet

Most economists believe that to kill the Beast of Great Recession, the world is left with one, single  magic bullet – China. This being the only bullet in the chamber, makes everyone very nervous, keeps everyone busy, reading Chinese tea leaves with great care.

There is overall consensus that the Chinese growth figures need to be ‘tempered’ – and significantly. The fears seems to be in two areas: –

1. Overstated growth rates.

“The Chinese government is one of the few governments in the world that knows its GDP numbers three years in advance,” Marc Faber told CNBC. Combine this with the other preoccupation where “China is desperately trying to figure out how to withdraw its funds from the dollar without driving it down — not an easy feat.”

2. Understated bad loans by banks.

an astonishing $300 billion vanishing act … the amount of bad debt the top three banks offloaded in the early 2000s. Back then, the People’s Bank created four asset management companies to scrub away the dirt from two decades of policy-driven lending. There was a big catch. The AMCs bought the loans for up to 100 per cent of face value, while recoveries were in the 20-30 per cent range. That means the top three lenders’ Rmb1.2 trillion of AMC bonds, which start to mature this year, are likely to be almost worthless. In theory, the Ministry of Finance is ultimately on the hook, but it is unlikely to make good for the banks. The amount due to all three is roughly one-sixth of China’s fiscal revenues for 2008. (from If in doubt, rub it out BY John Foley /  August 29, 2009, 0:03 IST).

Housing makes up roughly a quarter of investment spending, which is in turn 40% of gross domestic product. The differences between China’s big cities make a bubble harder to spot. But record bids for land are cause for concern, as is falling affordability in big cities. Meanwhile, stagnant residential rents suggest speculation, not demand for somewhere to live, is pushing up house prices. A burst real estate bubble could be fiendishly tricky to clear up. While stock markets clear in a day, property gluts can take months – if they clear at all. ( from The bubble you know by John Foley, Septemeber 1st, 2009, 01:33 IST).

Everything is made in China

Everything is made in China

Both these severely strain the economic outlook and the banking sector. This may lead to, what the WSJ.COM says, a situation, where “China in the medium term will face just the overcapacity and bad debt that many observers feared already existed.”

But some of these observations and scare stories are exaggerations – and need to be read with the caveat that the dominant Western media portrays all competitors in a similar manner.

What about the Indian economy

That pretty much leaves India as the sole candidate. India cannot absorb the kind of imports that are required to make a difference to the global economy. Or boost exports to the rest of the world – to create consumer led growth. World Bank estimates are that India will grow faster than China by 2010. So, no go!

A plan for Indian businesses

What this means is that India needs to do: –

1. Not bank on any kind of global recovery soon.

2. And island itself – by ensuring that any kind of global mayhem, counter-party risks do not hit Indian banks, corporates, exporters, et al. This may need some strong alliances on export guarantees and credit enhancement by importers for exports from India.

The Indian Government, may not take any major initiative in this regard, but it is the Indian businessmen, who should and must understand this situation – and take the necessary precautions, actions, insurance, guarantees, due diligence, comfort letters – the entire gamut.

Climate change – How India is falling for propaganda

September 5, 2009 5 comments

Polluter cleans ... and Pollutor pays and gets away

Polluter cleans ... and Pollutor pays and gets away

I have been surprised by the number of reasonable Indians who have come to accept the proposition, advanced by equally reasonable but perhaps nationalistically-motivated Americans, that the acceptance of internationally-mandated restrictions on carbon emissions by India is in its own national interest. Some have even come to argue that India should actively seek a climate change treaty at the Copenhagen conference in December 2009.

If the big and largely rich emitters of today were to take mitigation in the immediate future seriously, they could achieve emission cuts commensurate with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) without denying the poor in India (and Africa) the prospects of a humane existence. With abject poverty eliminated and electricity and water provided to all, India could join the mitigation effort by 2040. (via India and climate change talks).

Acquisitive Indian CompaniesAcquisitive Indian companies making US nervous?

What if

The entire global warming debate is just a facade to keep up demand for oil from India and China. The opposition to coal fired power plants is to stop India and China from reducing the growth in oil consumption.

After all practically all of British GDP today is declining North Sea oil and British Petroleum. Apart from Chinese money, the other source of liquidity, which keeps the US afloat is petro-dollars. And, remember, US future is so closely linked to Arctic oil. If India and China were to reduce their reliance on oil, leading to a price collapse, the biggest losers will be the Anglo Saxon bloc.

Makes one think!

Indias pharma exports
India’s pharma exports

Three things…

First, many of the regulatory bodies are actually a US-Euro Club – to fool the world, with token actions and steps to demonstrate inclusion and fairness to the developing world.

And second, these token actions divert the attention of the developing world. For instance, World Bank list of banned entities were significantly, from two sectors – Software and Pharma. These are the two sectors where the US still has a lead – and the Indians are its biggest challengers. Generic pharma firms from India have become world beaters – and the Indian software companies have built up US$50 billion a year business, in less than 10 years. These 50 billion dollars have come out of (arguably) US pockets.

At least, the actions against Wipro and Nestor Pharma were pathetic excuses to ban a business – and no third party arbiter will uphold these actions.

Third, on January 9, Standard & Poor’s announced that Greece, Spain and Ireland were on review for a possible downgrade, indicating that a Euro-zone country could default. The cost of the US bailout is likely to exceed US$3 trillion. Current US budget deficit is likely to break all records and estimates.

Indians cows can generate electricity - Australian Cartoonist Researcher

Not so long ago …

In 1999, an employee of an auto-components manufacturer, Autolite, was arrested in France for trademarks and copyright infringement – based on a complaint by the car manufacturer PSA Puegeot Citroen. The French police, on similar complaints, arrested two other nationals, a Belgian and a Taiwanese woman also.

The Belgian was of course granted bail – and the Indian and the Taiwanese were denied bail ‘The lawyers representing the Indian businessman offerred to deposit his passport and the sum of 100,000 French Francs claimed by Peugeot in the custody of the court as bailbond, pending the trial of the case on November 12′.

French court procedures took nearly 1 month and the Indian executive was finally granted bail after being in prison for 1 month. After two years of appeals and expensive litigation, the complaint was found to be without any merit – and dismissed.

When the North Pole greens over

When the North Pole greens over

More recently …

A shipment of medicines destined for Brazil, from India, was detained at Rotterdam. The Dutch Customs used a complaint from a local Dutch company, to detain this shipment, based on local patent laws. After a few months of ‘negotiations’, the shipment was sent back to India. An expert writes, what

‘EU is doing is using Council Regulation (EC) No. 1383/2003 to impound drugs that are suspected of violating patents registered in member-countries even if these are simply in transit. The regulations permit customs to hold these goods for a minimum of 10 working days while informing the patent holder of the seizure. The patent holder then applies to a civil court to initiate legal proceedings in order to prove that infringement has taken place.’

Whats the Quicktake

These seem like offensive actions from the EU and the US – to undermine their competitors and to bolster Euro-US businesses. It makes me doubt the Satyam saga. To carry the conspiracy theory thread forward, was there a Merrill Lynch-Ramlinga Raju ‘deal’?

demmed Indian cows

'demmed' Indian cows

Modern day protectionism, huh?

This also furthers the importance of having non-Western bodies, which are sponsored by the Third World, which will regulate and govern international laws. To depend on the West, is to further dig the hole that the Third World finds itself in.

And in case you forget, remember that for some time Indian cows were blamed for global warming!

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