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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

U.S. Leads World In Foreign Weapons Sales – Report – NYTimes.com

September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Citing a congressional study released on Friday, the Times said the United States was involved in 68.4 percent of the global sales of arms.

U.S. weapons sales jumped nearly 50 percent in 2008 despite the global economic recession to $37.8 billion from $25.4 billion the year before.

The jump defied worldwide trends as global arms sales fell 7.6 percent to $55.2 billion in 2008, the report said. Global weapons agreements were at their lowest level since 2005. (via U.S. Leads World In Foreign Weapons Sales – Report – NYTimes.com).

Can you stop me ...

Can you stop me ...

US in the Post WW2 world

In South East Asia from 1950-1975, Israel from the 1960 onwards and now in Iraq, Afghanistan, the US has been the in the middle of most expensive conflicts (measured in terms of lives lost) in post WW2 world.

This model of international relations is something that needs to change. The poor in this world has not become much safer, seen more democratic or significantly more richer. What justification does this policy have – apart from “I have muscles and can you stop me from flexing them” logic?

Gold – a non-military solution

As I see it, there are two simple solutions. One – everyone who disagrees with (or even if  you are worried about the economic consequences of) the US foreign policy should go out and buy gold. This will surely trigger a collapse of the US dollar. Just a 100,000 people buying a 100gm of of gold in the next 1 year will trigger the dollar collapse.

Drill for oil

The second solution will need more time and will need co-operation foron the BRIC Governments. The BRIC Governments must go out and drill oil wells all over the developing world. The collapse in oil prices will remove the petro-dollar funding of the US and simultaneously eliminate /reduce the trade deficit of the developing world.

Ben Bernanke’s version of history blames the victims

But for Bernanke...

For Bernanke, central bankers were the heroes. In the face of irrational hordes, they offered liquidity and a host of innovative policies, ensuring that financial panic did not lead to a new Great Depression. In Bernanke’s word, “the outcome could have been decidedly worse”.

His assessment isn’t exactly wrong. But as a historical record it is incomplete and far too generous to central bankers. (via Ben Bernanke’s version of history is incomplete – Telegraph).

Blame the Chinese!

Blame the Chinese!

It ain’t the first time

Helicopter Ben has a way with history. Earlier he created the concept of ‘savings glut’ – thinly blaming China ( and others) for saving money! He explained how,

“a significant increase in the global supply of saving–a global saving glut–which helps to explain both the increase in the U.S. current account deficit and the relatively low level of long-term real interest rates in the world today.”

This time around he was congratulating Central Bankers and policymakers

“in the United States and around the globe responded with speed and force to arrest a rapidly deteriorating and dangerous situation.”

Awesome! The man is so brazen! He has no shame!!

Of course, he makes no mention how the current Great Recession first came about by printing too much money – and then keeping interests low. Edward Hadas is right in one thing at least! He says, “Those who spread kerosene should not take too much credit for putting out fires.”

Benny Boy – That is good advice. Take it.

Global warming’s got me thinking …

August 14, 2009 2 comments
Carbon credits ... anyone!

Carbon credits ... anyone!

a call has been given by Al Gore that there should be an immediate moratorium on coal fired power plants. Look at how this will impact India. More than half of the 8,00,000 mega watts of power India plans to produce by 2030 are to come from coal fired plants. Simply because India has abundant coal resources.

What most western analysts don’t realise is nearly 600 million Indians do not have regular and formal access to any source of electricity. If comparison is to be drawn, it is a bit like the entire US population and half of the European Union going without any electricity.

Can you estimate the enormity of this problem? This is what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told George Bush at the G-8 summit in Japan last year when America tried to force India to commit carbon emission cuts. India merely said it will keep its per capita emmissions at below the world average. (via Carbon emmisions and Democracy!:Wisdom by Hindsight:MK Venu’s blog-The Times Of India).

How oil is sapping the world
How oil is sapping the world

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 the 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!

QED –

On 19th December, 2009, after the Copenhagen meet, alternet.org reported Bill McKibben of 350.org, saying how US President Barack Obama has

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.

voiced his disapproval. Writing for Grist

G8 refuses to cut export subsidies

July 13, 2009 5 comments

Leaders of five developing countries — India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa — who also met for summit level talks here had separately, called for expediting a global trade agreement that would stimulate the world economy.

But for this to happen, they wanted developed nations to end trade-distorting subsidies and export sops. The G-8 declaration, however, promised only to refrain from taking decisions to increase tariffs above today’s levels.

“We will refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new exports restrictions or implementing World Trade Organisation’s inconsistent measures to stimulate exports.”

Leaders of the world’s eight most rich countries, in the same breath, vowed to keep markets open and free and to reject protectionism of any kind. “In difficult times we must avoid past mistakes of protectionist policies, especially given the strong decline in world trade following the economic crisis,” the declaration said. (via G8 refuses to cut export subsidies).

US of A – the most efficient agricultural system in the world?

Today, an ‘efficient’ and ‘hi-tech’ agricultural farm sector in the US needs more than US$ 7.5 billion (conservative estimates, assuredly) of subsidies to survive. The US-EPA says, “By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country (America), accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data)– and gobble up most of this huge subsidy that lowers Third World agricultural prices.

Giant food corporations, killed buying competition with high prices (to farmers), direct buying from farmers (at higher prices), monoclonal seeds that destroy bio-diversity. And the US consumers are not getting the lower food prices that are being promised in India.

Devastation in the Third World

These subsidies lower agricultural prices, devastate agriculture in Third World countries, creating man-made famines. These man-made famines, of course, gives the West a false sense of superiority. The Indian farmer working without subsidies, with low technology, lower productivity has a cost edge over his European an American counterparts.

The ‘backward’ Indian farmer

The Indian farmer working without subsidies, with low technology, lower productivity has a cost edge over his European an American counterparts. With the declining power and use of the dollar, the US is fighting a losing battle against agricultural subsidies. The US depends on less than 50,000 corporate ‘farmers’ for 50% of ts production. These corporate ‘farmers’ will abandon agriculture at the first sign of reduced subsidies.

Over the next 20-30 years, this leaves India (and Russia) to cater to global food shortfalls. The Western industrial model is in its sunset phase. The Indian agricultural model can be the big winner in the next few decades – under the right stewardship.

Indian agriculture has a great future – and don’t you ignore it! On the other hand, industrial over-production, debt-financed over-consumption, American economic model, funded in the past by Bretton Woods /Petro-dollars /Sino-dollars, is about to end.

And that is the reason why the West (America and Europe) will not lower barriers or subsidies.

And then the propaganda overdrive

Of course, then out came the spin-meisters. The PR machines.

“There is an urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty,” G8 leaders said in a statement issued on the last day of their summit in Italy, at which they were joined by African heads of state. (via G8 announces $15 bn food security package- International Business-News-The Economic Times).

First the protection … then the subsidies … then the distortions … then the aid.

“The sums just aren’t adding up. Is this all really new money or are they fishing some of it out of the recycling bin?” asked spokesman Otive Igbuzor.

G8 is dead, long live G14 – Europe – World – NEWS – The Times of India

July 12, 2009 1 comment

The intimation of G8’s impending demise came from the host of the summit, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. “We saw that G8 is no longer a suitable format to show a global economic way of doing. Instead, a consolidated G14 representing 80% of the world economy could help create a real dialogue. We want to see if the G14 is the best solution for debates which will bring to us unique results.”

Berlusconi was merely echoing the creeping realisation among the G8 countries that the steady decline of the developed nations, coupled with the rapid rise of developing countries like India and China, had rendered the rich club irrelevant. (via G8 is dead, long live G14 – Europe – World – NEWS – The Times of India).

Western Clubs

On 5th November 2008, Raghuram Raman was appointed as by the GOI as advisor to the Indian PM – to advise the Indian PM about the forth coming G-20 meetings. As ex-IMF man, if he is the ‘expert’ that he is touted as, by this time Raghuram Rajan should know that the IMF and World Bank are international only in name. They are Western Clubs – meant for the benefit of the West.

Sinking .. or saving ...

Sinking .. or saving ...

All G20 members were ‘invited’ to join another Western Club – the FSF. The Financial Stability Forum, another club, with the same G7 members. Just why does India join these rubber stamp bodies – and lend sanctity to the exploitative agenda of the sponsors. Does the world need another body, with the same Central Bank members, addressing the same monetary issues problems, with the same agenda?

G7 and OECD countries have created a club for themselves, by giving each other unlimited line of credit – while the developing world gets credit based on fast-depreciating dollar/euro foreign exchange reserves. Maybe this needs an inversion. The OECD and G7 should be asked to pay their purchases. In a new global reserve currency. And the BRICS need to start working on that.

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

My feeling …

The BRIC leaders know well enough that the West will not let go of the IMF and the UN. The charade of UN /IMF /World Bank Reform is possibly required – and they are going through it.

Could you be loved ...?

Could you be loved ...?

Between ASEAN and IBSA, India needs to take Third World groupings from talk-fests to action-teams. Western clubs like UN, IMF, World Bank, G-7, P-5, etc are all heavily weighted against ‘outsiders’ like developing nations.

Join the gang

Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. And I will tell you why!

Trying to clean these Augean sales is a waste. India should engage with the BRICS countries – and focus on creating another institution without the West to start with.

Safe, Steady and Sure

We can keep banging our head against these Western altars, for another 60 years. It won’t work. We need to move – not necessarily fast, but surely and steadily. The Developing World (and India) can continue to knock at the doors of these Western clubs – and yet why would the West dilute their power and influence? And allow the Rest to take advantage of structures that the West has created for its own benefit?

Just why?

What is on the table

Bankrupt welfare state

Bankrupt welfare state

2 out of the G-7 countries are bankrupt – US and Britain. Their industrial base was supported by raw materials and captive markets – acquired by genocide, and the loot of centuries.

France, Germany Canada and Australia (not in G7) and Italy are tethering on the brink – under the weight of their social security system, and most of their business in the public sector. A geriatric Japan is dependent almost entirely on these declining seven. Japan’s investment in India and China has been negligible.

What Do We Bring To The Table

India, China and South Africa on the other hand, bring growing economies, young populations, lower welfare state burdens, expanding industrial base – and above all, a record of non-aggressive history.

These dubious clubs depend on victims to approve and finance their own slaughter – and these memberships don’t appeal to India.

G7, you are welcome to join us at our terms. We dont want to be a part of your ‘blood soaked history.’

Radically rethinking Indian agriculture – Sanjeev Sanyal

July 9, 2009 7 comments

In recent weeks, there have been growing apprehensions that the monsoons of 2009 will fall short of normal. This has again raised fears of rising food prices, collapse in rural incomes and possibly farmer suicides. Many a tear will be shed for rural India. Predictably, there will calls for greater support for the agriculture sector in the form of subsidised fertilisers/pesticides, cheap electricity for pumping ground water and farm loan waivers. We have been doing this now for generations now and our impoverished farmers still commit suicide. Surely, it’s time to rethink this strategy. (via Sanjeev Sanyal: Radically rethinking agriculture).

The Good …

Sanjeev Sanyal’s article does raise some interesting points – and usual points. After a promising start he then loses his way half way through.

He demolishes the idea that “the route to prosperity in rural India lies in accelerating farm production. Agriculture … contributes 16.5 per cent of the economy … great exertion … cannot … (make it) grow much more than 3 per cent per annum on a sustained basis (when the rest of the economy routinely does 7-8 per cent).”

He correctly points out that “India … produces enough food to feed itself but … 20 per cent of output is wasted (a) problem … of distribution and storage, (and with) population growth is now 1.6 per cent per year … we need to grow production by no more than this rate. … we should … slow agricultural growth … if we do not want … greater wastage or a structural price decline …a buffer for drought years … is better management of bumper crops rather than ever more production. India should shift focus from increasing agricultural production to improving its efficiency (with) investment(s) … in storage and distribution.”

His best one is the warning that “farming comes with a large environmental cost … the Green Revolution is anything but “green”. Current farming techniques are severely damaging to the environment through the depletion of ground water, conversion of forest land and over-use of pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals … sacrificing the long-term viability of the farm sector. It … made sense in the ‘70s to force a level-shift in food-grain production but why should we be still sacrificing the food security of future generations?”

He reminds us that “it makes … sense to strictly conserve ground water and use it only when the monsoons fail. Special attention should be given to water management (as opposed to extraction). Agriculture consumes 80 per cent of the country’s fresh-water in order to produce just 16.5 per cent of GDP … poor use of a scarce resource.”

The Bad …

Do we need this Great American Dream

Do we need this "Great American Dream"

After such good work, he succumbs to the banal – with some usual conclusions. He thinks that,

very large investments in water systems are needed to maintain even the current growth path.

Large investments in water systems are a bad, imported idea. India’s successful water management model is the nearly local 500,000 water bodies – ponds, lakes, anicuts, barrages, bunds, talabs, bawlees, wells. These water bodies stored surface water – and sustained Indian agriculture for the last 2000 years. Post-colonial India’s quest for Nehruvian “temples of modern India” spurred huge and wasteful investment in large hydro-electric dams. Reviving Indian water systems and rivers will take some 10 years and Rs.25,000 crores. About the cost of two large dams.

With around 70 per cent of the population still in the villages, it is absurd to hope that such a small and slow-growing part of the economy can bring salvation to such a large population.

US agricultural subsidies

US agricultural subsidies

Mr.Sanyal, you should consider the following, before you make such a sweeping statement. With the declining power and use of the dollar, the US is fighting a losing battle against agricultural subsidies. The US depends on less than 50,000 corporate ‘farmers’ for 50% of ts production. These corporate ‘farmers’ will abandon agriculture at the first sign of reduced subsidies. Over the next 20-30 years, this leaves India (and Russia) to cater to global food shortfalls. The Western industrial model is in its sunset phase. The Indian agricultural model can be the big winner in the next few decades – under the right stewardship.

And in the meantime, he himself follows up with an observation, “studies by economists like Dipankar Gupta suggest, non-agricultural activity already accounts for around half of rural India’s economy and provides employment to 35-45 per cent of the rural workforce.”

Third, encouraging agricultural growth for exports in not a viable option for India. Export of agricultural products is tantamount to export of water. International trade may make sense for some niche products like tea or for managing natural cycles in food-stocks. However, it cannot be a central strategy for a water-starved country like India. It is especially careless to be thinking about exporting water when climate change may be putting even current supplies at risk.

As pointed out earlier, both water management and agricultural exports is something that is both feasible and sensible thing to do. This is something that India must prepare itself for.

The truly ugly

Meanwhile, policies should be aimed at encouraging the process of moving the rural economy away from agriculture.

Broke ... and Broke

Broke ... and Broke

The Ikshavaku clan, (of Ramchandra in the Ramayana fame), became a ruling family for developing the agricultural strain of sugarcane. Bhagwan Krishna came to be known as Natho, for domesticating wild bulls. Balarama is the 7th avataar of Vishnu – whose ‘weapon’ was the plough – the founder of Indian agricultural practice.

The Indian agriculturist has made a remarkable recovery after the colonial collapse – and he may still surprise you.

The aspirations of rural India have already shifted — the literate children of subsistence farmers want real jobs, not pesticides. Why should we stop them? However, this requires a big shift in policy mindset. For instance, we need to shift from a regime of cheap but irregular power supply (which may work for irrigation) to one that is fully-priced but regular (necessary for the non-farm sector). This is our best bet for making India drought-resistant.

After ceaseless bombardment of advertising, with Indian languages weakening due to massive Government subsidies to English language education, is the movement to urban lifestyle a surprise? Not to me Mr.Sanyal. Though, why you are surprised, Mr.Sanyal is a puzzle to me. We need to invest in rural India. Currently rural credit is way below its contribution to GDP – and the low price realizations for agricultural output makes the case for investments stronger.

Next, we need to revisit general governance in rural India. The traditional structures may have worked for subsistence farming (even this is debatable) but they will not support large investments in industry, construction and services. The government needs to focus on how to deliver policing, enforcement of contracts, property rights and so on.

This is about shifting from a world of farm-loan waivers to one that can support large-scale mobilisation and investment of capital in these areas. The Naxalite movement that affects a fourth of India is not due to the failure of agriculture but the failure of governance. At the same time, note that the cause of property rights and governance is not served by the indiscriminate use of “eminent domain” to acquire large chunks of land for so-called SEZs.

Do we need this American model?

Do we need this American model?

When you refer to ‘traditional structures’, are you talking about ‘general governance’ of the colonial Raj – that post-colonial India continued with? Or are you talking about the pre-Raj structures? The Indian peasant was the first and the only peasant in the world to own his property – till ‘Desert Bloc’ rulers started a 800 year trend of ‘landgrab’. Yes. India does need to re-visit ‘general governance’! We need traditional governance – and not the ‘modern’ colonial baggage, that India has not discarded.

We need to give back the lands that were grabbed from the poor Indian peasant and the poor Indian tribal.

The need is for a framework of governance that allows industry and services to grow organically in response to local conditions.

Finally, there should be a greater effort to provide urban amenities for education, health, shopping and leisure at places that are accessible to the rural hinterland. Together with the shift to non-farm jobs, this provision of amenities will inevitably lead to urbanisation. This is a good thing and should be encouraged. However, urbanisation is not just about migration to the mega-cities of Delhi and Mumbai … mofussil towns need to be revived as social and economic hubs

Indian agriculture has a great future – and don’t you ignore it, Mr.Sanyal. On the other hand, industrial over-production, debt-financed over-consumption, American economic model, funded by petro-dollars /Sino-dollars, is about to end.

India cannot go down that path.

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