August 2019
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[op-ed snap] Falling behind schedule

  1. Theme: Educational attainments around the world and personal well-being and social progress
  2. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has come out with the Education at a Glance 2016 report
  3. According to it, higher degrees (such as Masters) result in wage advantages and also result in increased taxes and social contributions for the OECD member countries.
  4. The report, which also covers partner countries such as India, raises a broader issue that states may not be able to to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal regarding quality education
  5. UNESCO 2016 report echoes similar concerns. Given that many important developmental objectives rest on this, it is a serious cause for concern
  6. The reduction of poverty, alleviation of hunger, expansion of employment, empowerment of women and gender equality are all influenced by the qualifications and skills that men and women possess.

[op-ed snap] Why India must leverage digital finance tech

  1. Theme: Digital finance could provide a boost of up to USD 3.7 trillion to emerging economies by 2025
  2. Recently, a McKinsey Global Institute report, Digital Finance For All: Powering Inclusive Growth In Emerging Economies was released
  3. It is about the convergence of the two trends – financial inclusion and growing internet penetration
  4. These trends would result in improving private sector and govt. efficiency through ways such as decreasing leakages (as in direct benefit transfer), or decreasing cost of service for financial institutions
  5. Increasing financial inclusion would also result in increased funds for investment.
  6. Knock-on effects: First, digital payments leave a data trail and better tax administration.
  7. Second, crunching data will yield useful insights for policy making, e.g. spending patterns for poor etc.
  8. Third, new business models are enabled, e.g. e-commerce and peer-to-peer lending.
  9. India has a good infrastructure in place, e.g. the Jan Dhan Yojana and Unified Payments Interface
  10. But many challenges remain, particularly changing the behavioural patterns and preferences.
Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Walking the talk on ‘Look East’ policy

  1. Theme: A no. of circumstances are coming are coming together to improve the development of the North-east
  2. Political: BJP is in power in the centre and in Assam
  3. Diplomacy: India has been able to mend relations with Bangladesh and make it a partner in connecting to the North-east
  4. Last month, India commissioned a rail link from New Delhi to Agartala, Tripura, passing through Bangladesh. Similarly, India is working towards access to the Sittwe port in Myanmar
  5. From there goods will move to the North-east along the Kaladan river. There are also plans for a tri-nation highway to connect the North-east with to Bangkok through Myanmar
  6. Gas: The Cabinet last week formalized plans to allow east India access to a green fuel, gas. A 2,500 km long pipeline, passing through UP, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, will be built
  7. With LNG terminals coming up throughout the coastline a gas infrastructure will be created for the region. This will provide a green and cheap fuel for industries on the coastline
  8. Conclusion: Combination of political, diplomatic and infrastructure factors can give a push to development in the east and North-east.

[op-ed snap] Raiders of hidden arks

  1. Theme: India got 3 ancient sculptures back. Know about acts which govern such rescue and suggestions to make it robust
  2. 3 ancient sculptures from the National Gallery of Australia returned to India – 900 year old statues of Goddess Pratyangira and the seated Buddha, and the third century Worshippers of Buddha
  3. Legal framework: Most illicit trade is carried out by smugglers, who use fake documentation to overcome the prohibition on non-governmental exports under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972
  4. Suggestions: A dedicated national agency with support from the state would be better equipped to fight the scourge of theft and illicit transfer
  5. It should have trained personnel who would devote themselves to the task of documenting antiquities and prevention of smuggling
  6. There should be a strong repository of information of all Indian antiquities, with forensic records, so that they can be claimed back
  7. Documentation should utilize both public and private records
  8. These treasures should be put on display in national museums

[op-ed snap] Case of political interference and others

Cost of political interference

Lehman brothers collapse caused a loss of confidence in banking sector and it triggered the Global economic recession. In this scenario, USA Fed had a choice of saving Lehman brothers and there by the world from crisis. It restrained to bail out Lehman brothers Inspite of having enough collateral. The reasons are

  1. US fed chairman Ben Bernanke and US treasury secretary failed to anticipate the consequences of Lehman fallout.
  2. Mr Paulson, US treasury secretary believed that bailing out Lehman brothers will not be a good political decision.

So, the Lehman brothers crisis proves a point that decisions in such crises must be thoroughly documented and subject to  oversight by  parliament. It ensures accountability for decision making.

Watch the video for more analysis

[op-ed snap] Nuclear Power in AP

Nuclear power in AP – challenges

  1. Cost of power – It is expected to be very high
  2. Risk – It is a Seismic zone
  3. Establishment cost – It is to the tune of 4 lakh Crore rupees.
  4. Capabilities – India does not have expertise in operating these special kind of reactors.

Watch the video to know more.

[op-ed snap] 1991, the untold story and more

1991, the untold story

  • The crisis in 1991 had its reasons in the functioning of the Government.
  • I G Patel has clearly said that in five years of Prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi the money was spent as it did not matter at all.
  • The debt esp short term debt was mounted to the peaks.
  • At the time of crisis, gulf war, raised oil prices, political instability, withdrawal of deposits by NRIs from Indian banks further worsened the scenario.
  • Exporters also deferred the receipt of payments from abroad in an expectation that rupee devaluation can occur.
  • In this scenario, Chandra Sekhar govt made certain important decisions.

To know more, watch the video.

[op-ed snap] Bridging the digital divide and more

Digital divide – Bridging the digital divide

  • One of the sustainable developmental goal is to provide universal and affordable access to the international to all.
  • Many of the countries are under performers in providing access to information, reliable networks and India is one such country.
  • The world development report 2016 highlights differences in accessibility in India. Increasing accessibility can only be achieved through affordability.
  • Added to this, requisite skills need to be nurtured for making optional use of Information technology.

Watch the video to know more.

[op-ed snap] Crisis of Indian Democracy and more

Crisis of Indian Democracy

  • Amartya Sen says capabilities will enable individuals to pursue the lives they value. So, the true freedom shall be the focus of all development effort.
  • Indian independence has a goal to  build a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation. It shall create political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of every man and woman. Dr B R Ambedkar has defined democracy as a means to bring about a significant change in the living conditions of the depressed without resorting to bloodshed.
  • Development of capabilities among women, Dalits and minorities need attention to have a robust democracy. Public policy shall engineer social spaces where every Indian can participate on an equal footing.
  • For instance,  the provision of  public housing in ‘capitalist’ Singapore with the provision that it should be shared between people of  all ‘races’, namely Chinese, Indian and Malay is a standing example to bring a just society.

Watch the video above.

[op-ed snap] Adding injury to insult & more

Adding injury to insult

The quality of country’s democracy is reflected in robustness of its institutions and also From the quality and decorum of public discourse. Comments against Mayawati by the UP BJPs MP do not reflect the Decorum. On the other side, allocating the parliamentary seats to highest bidder also do not reflect the quality of democracy.

Flawed premise and Misplaced prescription

Inflation is invariably connected with trade and capital flows. Inflation targeting suggested by the urjit Patel panel is drank from the foreign context that have a different economic environment compared to India.

It also did not take into consideration the supply chain constraints and external constraints.

Watch the video to know more.

[op-ed snap] Turkey coup, CSIR dismissed a senior scientist & more

Turkey coup – Erdogans coup

After the failed coup in Turkey, president Erdogan started taking vengeance and closing the institutions belonging to opponents. He blames Fethullah Gulen as responsible for revolt. The state of emergency and a large seal crackdown on society and military will have destabilizing impact on Turkey.

The sullying of scientific literature

  • Context – CSIR dismissed a senior scientist working on IMTECH on charges of data fabrication.
  • Integrity in scientific research is vital for its credibility. In India, lack of seriousness on this front is a cause of concern.India also shall create an office of research integrity as like in USA to investigate any case of scientific misconduct.

[op-ed snap] We need a Nutrition Mission

We need a Nutrition Mission

Global nutrition report 2016 shows a dismal state of nutrition in India.

  • Son stunting, India stands at 114 out of 132 countries
  • On wasting, India stands 120 out of 130 countries
  • On the prevalence of anaemia in women of reproductive age, India ranks 170 of 185 countries
  • Our situation is closely comparable to the countries like South Sudan

United Nations population fund report states that early marriages, multiple pregnancies, poor nutritional status of adolescent girls and women are the reason for low birth weight in India.

[op-ed snap] Shadow over South Asia

Shadow over South Asia

ISIS and its radical salfism, ideas of caliphate are attracting youth towards terrorism. India is also witnessing many sleeper cells. Recent arrests in Hyderabad are one such an example.

ISIS using social media is able to radicalise youth and train them to prepare bombs. The recent attacks in Bangladesh show that the danger is looming high in  our neighbourhood.

Added to this, the claims of declining of ISIS by the west are also far from true. If we see the number of attacks the world witnessed in 2016, it is still very active. The lone wolf attacks are a major security concern. It is time India shall acknowledge the threat.

[op-ed snap] Governing the governor

Governing the governor

Constitution has envisaged a limited role for the office of governor in the functioning of state Government. They merely possessed the formal authority of state and could act as a safety valve in case of a constitutional machinery break down. In normal circumstances governor is bound by the aid and advice of council of ministers.

But many times Governors have overstepped their role and it has led to misuse of Art 356 and consequentially governors office came under scrutiny as the agent of centre. In this case, the recent supreme court judgement in Arunachal Pradesh case clarifies the role of governor in the states.

[op-ed snap] The left’s winding road ahead and more

The Left’s winding road ahead

In Indian politics, right wing has gained a prominent position and Left, congress are not in a position to counter the same. After parting away from UPA 1 on India – USA nuclear deal lefts role in Indian politics has become marginal. Adherence to ideological dogma by the left may marginalise it further. There is a necessity for its revival and need for building a collective front of  the opposition parties.

A total clamp down

Mobile, TV, internet disruptions and clamp down on news papers in Kashmir as a strategy to counter ongoing clashes can have further repercussions. Inhibition of circulation of information reinforces a sense of siege and disrupts the necessary aid for the ailing people. It can cause further alienation among the Kashmiris.

Raja-Mandala: Maritime India versus Continental Delhi

The international fleet review is a reminder of India’s capabilities to help build an open, secure and prosperous Indian Ocean

  1. While bringing the Indian navy’s second international fleet review to a close at Visakhapatnam, PM emphasised, once again, the centrality of the oceans for India’s prosperity and security.
  2. On the economic front, India’s interests have become truly global.
  3. More than 40 per cent of its current GDP is linked to international trade. And most of this trade is sea-borne.
  4. On the positive side, Delhi has become increasingly conscious of its larger responsibility to provide public goods in the maritime domain.
  5. The political and naval leaderships have acknowledged the urgent need to cultivate special maritime relationships with key partners
  6. Amid the altering regional balance of power in the Indian Ocean
  7. The announcement that India will host its first-ever global maritime summit in April this year reflects Modi’s eagerness to shake Delhi out of its continental stupor
  8. The real challenge is to plugging the gap between, insufficient financial and institutional resources and the absence of effective bureaucratic mechanisms
  9. To implement declared objectives have meant that the gulf between India’s maritime promise and performance remains wide
Indian Ocean Power Competition

The GDP riddle: Is economy booming or recovering?

New estimates demand a more nuanced understanding of economic activity.

  1. New estimates pegged the GDP significantly higher than previous estimates.
  2. But this jump was not in line with other parameters of economic activity such as corporate profit growth, credit off take etc.
  3. The new estimation methodology is in line with global norms.
  4. Where increased value addition, as against an actual increase in quantity of production, leads to a higher GDP.
  5. This approach can work seamlessly in an economy where all value addition is tracked formally and recorded in well-codified data.
  6. But for a country like India, where 93 per cent of labour works in the informal sector, this method requires a more nuanced appreciation.

Clean up the Balance Sheet of Banks

Setting up of an asset reconstruction company by govt is a good idea. But test will lie in giving its managers a free hand.

  1. It will prepare them to lend to the corporate sector as and when economic activity picks up speed.
  2. Non-performing assets (NPAs) and restructured loans of scheduled commercial banks have only increased over the last two years.
  3. They stood at over 11 per cent of total advances in September 2015.
  4. The idea of dipping into taxpayer money for the ARC’s equity is opposed by some on the grounds of it creating a “moral hazard”.
  5. But if banks and corporates are forced to pay for the mess, a state-backed ARC would bring credibility to the asset recovery programme.
NPA Crisis

Keep Pushing for IMF reform

Launch of BRICS Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, finally pushed US and developed nations to modernize their quota structure.

  1. International Monetary Fund has finally made country quota reforms agreed by the G20 in 2010 a reality.
  2. The U.S. Congress which had blocked the reforms finally dropped its veto to allow quota reform to go through.
  3. With this structural shift, more than 6 % of the quota, including both the Fund’s capital and voting rights, have been transferred from developed to emerging economies.
  4. India and China have respectively increased their voting shares by 0.292 and 2.265 percentage points.
  5. All the directors on IMF board will now be elected and developed countries will not be able to nominate.
International Monetary Fund,World Bank,AIIB, ADB and India

Gujarat must give up terror bill

Police need better resources and training to combat organised crime and terror, and not laws that abridge and modify conventional criminal procedure to the detriment of human rights.

  1. Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill has already been rejected by two presidents.
  2. Clause that permitted the State Home Secretary to authorise the interception of telephone calls on his own was dropped after center’s disapproval.
  3. India’s repeated experiments with anti-terrorism laws have been, by and large, unsuccessful.
  4. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, (TADA) 1985, and its latter-day version, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2003, were allowed to lapse after allegations of persistent misuse.
  5. Substantive amendments made to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2012, the country does have an effective law to curb modern-day terrorism.