Tag Archives: politics

Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 21

QUESTIONS ASKED DAY-21 (09/08/2013)

1)Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian diaspora in the North America from their host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine.

2)“Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment. (2009, GS-II)

RESPONSES:

  1. Nikku

     

    3 Votes

    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    Post the 1991 reforms, India has opened up several of its sector to foreign investment and integrated itself more deeply with the international economy.
    The foreign investment flowing into India are generally classified as “Foreign Direct Investment” which are long term, and “Foreign Institutional Investment” which are basically portfolio investment and are genrally short term and volatile.
    Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is generally encouraged as it brings in new and better technology, best practices of global management, the much needed capital for infrastructure development and generates employment thus providing impetus to overall development and growth.
    However, FDI too isnt without it flaws. Experts argue that foreign companies are generally insensitive to needs of the local environment. They exploit natural resource of the country and drain it’s raw material. Moreover, their intervention in strategic sectors like telecommunication could be a challenge with regard to security concerns.
    On the other hand, the portfolio investment done via FII are relatively less benificial as they are considered to be volatile and are very susceptible to the global market trends. Checks need to be in place to ensure that these investments do not destabilize the currency by making a quick flight as happened in the south east asian crisis in the 1990s.
    India needs foreign investment at the moment, as the domestic mobilisation of savings is not sufficient to pump in the capital that is needed to sustain the high rate of growth that the country needs to bring its masses out from the clutches of poverty.
    The govt needs to provide a stable and enabling policy and legislative framework while ensuring that the domestic needs of the country are not compromised in the zeal to attract to foreign investment.
    At the same time, we should also ensure that we do not become completely dependent on foreign investment. Efforts should be sustained parallely to generate domestic capital and entreprenuiral skills so that the country can achieve the desired degree of self sufficiency in case the foreign investments dry up.

  2. Amudhan

     

    6 Votes

    Discuss the demands and Expectation of the Indian Diaspora in North America from their Host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine
    Indians in the North American countries are predominantly engaged in highly skilled labor unlike Indians on work permits to Singapore or Dubai. These labors in in North America require Job security from their employers and in case of termination a period of respite to find new jobs and stable visa regime.
    There have also been demands by the Indian government to provide social security to these workers which flatly refused by US government. Additional the Diaspora wants equal treatment in Taxes and benefits arising from them; and equality in the job selection process along with ability to hold a broader range of jobs.
    The US government allows for a highly skilled labor force to come and work but its objectives are not to create to new citizens but procurement of a temporary skilled workforce for its aging population. It is very hard to judge the legitimacy of these since each country treats immigrants according to their own laws and values. The Indian Diaspora as foreigners must abide by them as we expect foreigners to abide by ours. These aspirations can however be reached by Bi-lateral government level talks rather than lobbying by the Diaspora itself.

  3. Amudhan

     

    6 Votes

    “Foreign Investments is far from being critical to India’s economic growth” Critically comment
    India’s CAD is currently at levels of 4% and sometimes touching 5% mark. However our balance of payments has been marginally positive, for which we owe some level of stability in our foreign exchange market, is due to foreign investments. India has high savings rate and sufficient domestic capital to meet most of its own demand however in the present context foreign is averting a BOP crisis – concurrent to which economic growth will not happen.
    The RBI allowed access to ECB’s for domestic companies during the liquidity crisis which galvanized our growth story through the liquidity crunch however a sizable amount of their foreign loans are due in March 2014, which in the absence of foreign capital will precipitate a BOP crisis and a spiraling exchange rate not auguring well for the economy. Foreign capital also brings in new technology and provides competition.
    However some circles point out to a positive cycle triggering this situation where in foreign capital creates a bubble in the real estate and finance markets triggering a wealth effect which increases our imports. Subsequently the rupee will also be overvalued leading to a higher CAD and the need for more capital. In which case we would need lower our dependence on capital and devalue the rupee to appropriate levels and brace for the long haul. Our politicians and the RBI for political and humanistic reasons consideration (33% of our imports is Oil – with a low exchange rate the common man will feel the pinch of price rises) have decided to pursue both in a phased manner in the medium term.

    •  

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      You are not critically commenting on the statement. Does foreign investment help India’s economic growth or not? I see some ambiguity in your answer.

  4. Anjali Motghare

     

    4 Votes

    Insights this is my humble request, if u can please frame question by paper wise, topic wise first finish any one paper then start next.
    Means it will give a sense of completing one paper and the like. It will also help in collecting data on one paper at a time. Other aspirants needs also be taken care of. Think for larger interest and decide. This my request purely.

    • lakshmi prasanna

       

      1 Vote

      sir i to feel the same, pls let us choose a systematic and planned path. so that it fills confidence. thank u

    •  

      1 Vote

      Ok I will do that. From next week, I will do that but alternately – three days from paper-I and next three days from paper-II, Sunday holiday!

      I will see if I can increase number of questions to 3 or 4 (with varying word limits – 250, 150, 50)

      But questions won’t be asked topic-wise – they can be asked from any topics within a paper. (if not, it becomes boring, predictable and monotonous, an element of surprise should be there. Also I assume that most of you have covered paper-I and II already in your preparation)

      I started this in your interest only – ok, larger interest. Thanks. (You have asked a 5 Star question!) ;-)

  5. Nirmal Singh

     

    5 Votes

    Indian Diaspora forming a large chunk of population of N.America has a number of issues and demands seeking to be addressed by host country.
    Incidents like recent attack on Sikhs through firing on Gurudwara motivated by racial discrimination raises important security raises reservation and need immediate attention. The immigration issue is another area which need reforms considering its discriminatory character and rigid conditions to sponsor one’s relatives. Indians are demanding parity in rights with fellow citizens in certain areas like more Political representation .The denial religious rights and freedom for Muslims and Sikhs is a matter of concern. The low wage migrants suffers from exploitation by employers and especially diplomats abusing diplomatic immunity under Vienna convention. They are demanding grievance redressal measures like ombudsman and helpline to address the same. Related issue is legalisation of undocumentated migrants gaining entry through illegal means.
    It is indeed a tragedy that USA and Canada has done little to prevent anti-racial attacks ,turning back to their constitutional obligation to guarantee security to its residents. The approach to minimise immigration considering its influence on demographic transition and economy must be replaced by transparent ,anti discriminatory measures. The religious freedom should be viewed in light for liberal civic rights of which USA is a ardent supporter rather than security needs. The issue of diplomatic abuse is more serious and complex as it is out of their domain and needed to solved through source country negotiations to include provisions for applying host country laws under special circumstances. The ombudsman and helpline would be a good step here. Further issue of legalisation of illegal migrants has no grounds since it is against country laws.
    The Diaspora seems to have reasonable and justifiable demands which every country is supposed and must give heed to considering the Diaspora contribution to country economy, human resources and secular credentials

  6. shanti

     

    2 Votes

    Foreign investment is needed for any country in two cases. 1) When domestic investment is inadequate. 2) When foreign exchange is required. In domestic investment front, position of India is fairly sound. As for foreign exchange, it can either be an asset or a liability depending on its repatriability. If it is repatriable it is liability foreign exchange else an asset.
    This way only three types of foreign exchange can be considered as assets – exchange earned from exports, NRO deposits of NRI’s, foreign aid from other countries or agencies. The rest are liabilities like foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign portfolio investment (FPI), foreign currency loans from other countries etc.
    FPI is investment in the capital markets by foreign institutional investors for quick and short term gains. It is called ‘hot money’ or ‘fly by night money’ since it can be withdrawn overnight. FDI is investment in the plant or enterprise by a foreign investor which is part of the paid up capital. It is a debt inflow or a liability foreign exchange because the profits it generates will have to be repatriated in foreign exchange.
    Foreign investment should be avoided unless the yields are more than the repayments. . It is not to be forgotten that the South East Asian crisis in 1997 was due to capital flight. In Indian context, in retail sector, if supply side management or technology was what we needed, strengthening these would have been better than opening it to FDI.
    No economy ever developed with FDI alone. Sustainable economic growth takes place only when the foreign investment is coupled with domestic technological development and application, indigenous mobilization of resources with the help of government’s support and regulation.

    • shanti

       

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      Insights,
      Sir, its heartening to see your efforts to help us. Thank you.

      Regarding my answer. It’s one of the first answers i have written. Realised that i havent added many points relevant to India. I should have mentioned CAD atleast. waiting for your review.

      Regards

    •  

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      Shanti,

      Your answer is too technical and everything you have mentioned is correct and valid. But it partially answers the question.

      Read the question again – the statement simply means that foreign investment is not critical for India’s economic growth. You have to ‘comment’ on this statement ‘critically’. When you are asked to comment, you have to take a stand – either support the statement and strongly defend it, or oppose it and justify it.

      So you should make your stand clear in the introduction and give a logical flow to your answer.

      This question, though was asked by UPSC in 2009, is very relevant today also(last month we saw easing of FDI norms, increase in capping etc). Going through India’s history – in economic policy making regarding foreign investments – to present scenario and its effect on economic growth, you have to either defend or oppose it. You will get points to justify both stances. Choose one and defend it with reason and logic.

      • shanti

         

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        Insights,
        Your review and others answers gave me a perspective of approaching this answer. But i was clueless when i started to write the answer. Nonetheless i will keep writing. I love the way things are happening here.
        Regards.

  7. lakshmi prasanna

     

    2 Votes

    2. During last few decades FDI has become important, as it improves savings and investments for improving production capacity which in turn causes economic development. FDI mostly greater between OECD countries, but recently attracted by developing economies ie BRICS. India started FDI in 1991 through FEMA act. Recent survey revealed India stood in second position after china in attracting FDI. Moreover FDI showed marginal significance in Indian economic growth.

    FDI improves economic growth of a country by bringing capital, technology, managerial skills and capacity and access to foreign markets etc. But the host country should have certain conditions like good per capita income, trade openness, educated labor, developed financial markets and absorptive capacity in order to see FDI impact on economic growth.

    The survey shows reasons for negative impact of FDI on Indian economic growth. The fact is increase in growth rate of FDI is much higher than GDP growth rate. To absorb this excess FDI inflow employment generation is needed. But unfortunately employment growth rate is lower than FDI growth rate. Resulted high inflation pressure and dropped economic growth. Therefore allowing FDI inflow into economy only cannot warrant economic growth minimal level of economic growth should be there in the economy to absorb the excess FDI inflow.

    So government should come up with a policy where FDI enhances domestic production, savings and exports. conclusion is FDI in exports oriented sector is advisable for better economic growth.

    • lakshmi prasanna

       

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      sir comment pls is this answer relevant or any drawbacks

      •  

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        In the introduction OPEC, BRICS is not necessary. You have given valid points like FDI should generate employment, productivity etc. But you are arguing that economic growth is the precondition for attracting FDI. You should have substantiated it further. Also it is wrong that India is receiving ‘excessive’ FDI. Check the data, it is going downhill (not because of low economic growth, but because of government policies). Also, you should mention the name and year of the ‘survey’ you are referring to – gives authenticity to your argument.

        •  

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          Ya I read that paper. In third paragraph you have mentioned that – ” The fact is increase in growth rate of FDI is much higher than GDP growth rate” – which gives a wrong idea.

          In the link you gave it is said that FDI had negative impact on GDP because India did not generate enough employment during that time period to absorb ‘excess; FDI. (your sentence should have been on this line)

          Read this again:

          “The negative impact of FDI on GDP is based on the fact that during this period the cumulative growth rate of FDI inflow into the economy was much greater than the cumulative growth rate of GDP. To absorb this higher rate of FDI inflow, immediate translation of FDI into employment generation was very much needed. But, unfortunately, the growth rate employment in the economy during this period was much lesser than the growth rate of FDI. As a result, excess capital inflow into the economy remained unabsorbed, which led to inflationary pressure, whichin turn, ate away the growth in the real sector, establishing a negative impact of FDI on GDP”

          The data I talked about is:http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/fdi-dips-by-38-to-224-bn-in-201213/article4775276.ece

          (I thought you gave your answer citing some very recent survey).

  8. premkumar

     

    1 Vote

    Paper wise question makes easier to understand it s feels easier to aspirnts like pls consider this request

  9. phani

     

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    1) Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian Diaspora in the North America from their host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine.

    The immigration of Indians to North America particularly USA and Canada has been happening from pre independent times. After independence many people from india belong to all kinds of skill sets migrated to these countries temporarily and permanently. The lucrative idea of “American dream “ and the development of those countries with relatively less accommodation in Indian industry based on their skill set many young IT professionals and especially IIT graduates migrated to north America and are in all walks of life .
    Out of total population, though Indians account for only a mere 0.7% , 75% of them continue to held very important positions in both private sector and public life. But they continue to face racial and cultural discrimination in some parts of North America. The recent attacks on Sikh gurudwara in USA are a standing testimony of the racial prejudice of some sections of the American population. Especially in times of economic hurdles and growing unemployment Indians are being seen as the biggest job snatchers. Many students are doing a less than skilled jobs like pizza delivery, working in grocery shops and petrol pumps to meet their ends meet. They do not come under any social security programs. They lose their jobs as and when their employer wishes.
    There is a difference in the wages too. A recent study says a Canadian Indian is getting an average income less than 10% of a Canadian though are endowed with the same skill set. With increasing terrorist threats, sometimes Indian Muslims are facing a hard time to clear the immigration checks at the airports is increasing the trust deficit. The NRI’S AND PIO’S expect not less than a fair and equal treatment in employment form countries which boast of equality and freedom. There is a need to increase the trust and value their contributions in the development of north America and constantly pursue the goal of safeguarding them by allying their fears and by providing a social security and stricter punishments against racial discrimination, the onus is on the host countries.

    •  

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      Good answer. But you are not answering the second half of the question – whether demands justified? if yes, why? I think their contributions to host countries should be stressed in the conclusion.

  10. Vijay Pateriya

     

    1 Vote

    QUES. Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian diaspora in the N.America from their host country.Are these demands justified?Critically examine.

    In this era of globalization when the world is turning into a global village,Indians are also spreading their wings to other countries in search of better prospects.The Indian Diaspora is expanding with time.North America is one of the leading recipient of the Indians because of economic chances and values offered .

    But this is not so harmoniously every now and then there comes complaints regarding continous discriminations Indians are being subjected in these countries.The concerning issues broadly refers to 3 categories –
    Social security- This covers issues related to attacks on Indians in workplaces or educational institutions on racial lines like Dot busters gang of New jersey.This is currently most burning topic.
    Religious issues –like relating to observance of ritual rites by certain religious communities ,for ex.bearing of turban by Sikhs,recent attack on gurudwara.
    Economic problems-this relates to problems like job security,wage security etc.
    Some other problems raising heads refers to visa problems and providing of basic facilities to Indians.
    Pointing to these lithora of problems,Indians in alien countries continues to seek support from their host countries as well as their Homeland.Host countries can try and sort out these problems at their levels by opening helplines ,extending support facilities to Indians ,discussing issues like religious ones with concerned religious heads and home countries through diplomatic channels while at the same time Indians diaspora must refrain from making any demands which prejudices the local laws and rules of the country concerned.On the whole Diasporas could well be a part of devt. Process as it participates in economic prospects and integrations process of the host countries as well thus they must try and protects foreign diasporas within their borders.

    • Vijay Pateriya

       

      1 Vote

      sir please,
      corrections and anallysis is welcomed & awaited
      thanking you all.

      • Vijay Pateriya

         

        1 Vote

        sir please …………all of you
        any feedbacks
        i want to build upon my ability …….humble request

        •  

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          Second half of the questions is not answered. First half is good. For specific information please have a look at this:http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter14.pdf(page 188).

          Your conclusion is not related to the question or introduction. From introduction to the conclusion the whole answer must flow logically.

          After writing each paragraph, have a look at the question. See if your answer is in the right direction and write accordingly. Your answer is good one, but try to make it the best one. :-)

  11. Nik

     

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    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    What got started in the late 80’s had its result in 1991, when India announced itself to be Liberalized, Privatized and Globalized (LPG reforms). The concept was clear in itself to prove India being a part of the Global Village. The doubts, however still hover around whether the foreign investment is critical for India’s economic growth? Certainly, a country’s growth in this era cannot be in isolation. It needs to have the benchmark practices of the world in order to be a real competitor. This is not at all possible unless the foreign players are actively involved in the country.
    We cannot deny the fact that our process of industrialization started very late as compared to the developed nations. Idea of getting started from the scratch and development by its own was rejected thoroughly at the time of independence. Help from foreign countries and their companies certainly helped in improving the condition of the people along with improving the economic growth of the country. Adding to it was the era of 1991. Results came slow but steady when India saw the GDP riding at 8% in 11th Five Year Plan.
    Yes, the reason was rise in internal demand but had not foreign players been active, fulfilling of demand was not at all possible. Indian rural market as an untapped niche market was also realized by the foreign investment when the companies started selling sachet packets of bigger brands at affordable prices. The overall result not only profited the companies but the Indian economy as a whole.
    It is this investment which will bring necessary changes to the infrastructure, logistics support and overall policy framing. Raising doubts about it being critical is like looking backwards to old economic era. Foreign investment has proved itself worthy before and will continue to do so.

  12.  

    3 Votes

    Q Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment
    Ans
    Foreign Investment may be temporary or permanent. It may be speculation based or industrial based. It is poised to bring foreign currency into an economy thereby bringing economic stability, competition, technology, capital etc. However most of them whether long term or short term, are profit oriented and do not reflect the local demands of the economy.
    After 1991 economic reforms, India opened its floodgates for foreign investors. This led to an increase in growth figures in past two decades. Though government opened many sectors in a phased manner, there was not much headway in long term capital inflow, and most was limited to speculative financial markets. In addition to that those who established much awaited industrial base did not bring in the required world class technology. This can be understood from India’s manufacturing base which still constitutes abysmal 14% of GDP which shows reluctance of foreign investors in spurring Indian economic growth.
    There has been low investment in infrastructure by foreign companies which require atleast $ 1 trillion during 12 FYP. Further recent lukewarm response and opposition to policy issues by foreign retailers regarding Multi Brand retail trade, which are critical to India’s domestic growth and establishing sound small and medium industries, shows the hawkish attitude. They have advocated for watering down of certain provisions of procurement and back end infrastructure. Most of the funds in financial market are speculative and short term gain oriented leading to destabilization of Indian currency. There is also a lack of CSR on the part of foreign investors.
    Hence, despite creating a business friendly environment by the government, foreign investors are least concerned about Indian growth and betting for more liquidation of norms according to their self interest.

    •  

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      Feedback welcomed…!!!

      • Nirmal Singh

         

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        Hello Sahil
        I have few reservations regarding some of your arguments.First it is said there was no technology bought by FDI ,I think it is more to do with government restrictive regulations like cap on FDI. No company will ever pour its hard work of decades of research and billions of money without getting any ownership and say in company decisions which is low thanks to FDI caps.Secondly the government has not created friendly environment so important for Direct Investments .The GARR and DTC code ,not fully convertible rupee and unpredictability in laws ensured Foreign investors will think twice before entering India

        •  

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          Hey nirmal,
          i did not say that fdi brought no technology. i only said it is not upto the global level or of obsolete nature. Many sectors have more than 50% of fdi allowed which provides access to ownership. Secondly, some legislations are in the pipeline for allowing more investment limits. The GAAR provisions may not be clear and government is working on it but it a genuine demand due to unscrupulous use through tax havens. Further GAAR has been in economic circles for the past 1 or 2 years only. Government has opened e Biz window for better facilitation and one window clearances. In addition, funds in the financial markets are completely speculative due to fiscal stimulus in america. the recent volatility in the market proves this.

  13.  

    2 Votes

    Q. Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian Diaspora in the North America from their host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine.
    Ans
    Indian Diaspora is one the major immigrant community in North America especially USA and Canada. Due to lack of opportunities at home, these Indians who are skilled laborers are looking abroad especially in American markets. However lately, there has been a sense of alienation among them due to growing intolerance of the Americans towards outsiders and rising protectionist attitude of the governments.
    Most of the Indian population present in America suffers from racial threats, economic constraints and religious fanaticism. This can be seen in context of the racial attacks on students studying in different educational institutions, racial biasness in the period of recession etc. In addition to this our diaspora still demands a level playing field for both domestic and immigrant labor force as most of them, being professionals working in trans frontier companies, are suffering from visa policy regime of US etc. Other issues involve the attacks on religious places like gurudwaras etc. There has been growing concern from community about the rising fanaticism from the indigenous people. This may lead to the rise of religious extremism.
    With these concerns Indian diaspora is expecting the host governments to take a pragmatic view of some of their legitimate demands like racial biasness and religious intolerance that are more of a real threat to the very existence of the community which has took the relations between Americans and Indians governments to a new height. However, visa policy regime is more a technical issue with the increasing slowdown in American economy and must be dealt at the inter-governmental level.

  14. Ashish Mandal

     

    2 Votes

    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    Foreign investment, comprising of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investment (FII), in the current environment of economic turmoil in India, is seen as augmenter of economic growth. However, critics argue that foreign investment is no panacea but a toll of neocolonialism.

    FDI being a stable and much sought investment helps in getting much needed foreign reserves, transfer of technology and generation of employment . FDI also helps in improving quality of goods and services by inducing competition, thus indirectly helps in increasing export potential. Thus, FDI can be said to be helpful in boosting economic growth of a country.

    Even FII adds to foreign reserve by bringing global liquidity into the equity markets. FII being non-debt creating flows reduces cost of capital and raises price earning ratio and supplements domestic savings. Thus, FII indicates a positive relationship with the economic growth of a country. Large FII flow often indicates good economic prospects of a country and reinforces further investments.

    However, critics point that FII being ‘fly by night’ or ‘hot’ money is a risky and poses potential threat of destabilization of economy due to its nature of short term gains.Even for FDI, it is argued that FDI indulges in cut throat competition and monopoly and is a threat to domestic firms. In long term, profits flow out of country just like colonial ‘economic drain’ and thus can be detrimental to the national interests.

    But in India macro-economic concerns of high current account and rupee depreciation calls for foreign investment, as India desperately need foreign currency. FII is no doubt accepted as risky so more focus should be more on FDI, evident from the current FDI policy reforms. Opening up market in new sector will boost economic growth of India as seen in 90s reform especially in telecom sector.

  15. RV

     

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    Foreign investment in the form of Foreign Direct Investment , FII , QFI are deemed to bring much needed foreign capital , enhance technology transfer and establish world class management and industry competetiveness.
    There has been much hue and cry over the recent “tapering” fiasco in the Indian markets and many have questioned the wisdom of foreign Investment citing reasons from low technology transfer to not so efficient management . I find this view myopic and stand by the long term gains the country stands to hold from Foreign Investments .
    India is destined to be the global growth engine and for this it requires huge injection into the infrastructure and the capital market which need to be partially sufficed from foreign investment as has been the case in the past. Foreign Investments have undoubtedly brought in competitiveness in the markets thereby reducing the inefficiency if not totally eliminating it and has brought in customer centric good practices.They have shown interest time and again in the Indian bond markets and still hold a considerable weight in that area. The condition of Indian economy had it not been for the 1991 reforms would have been abysmal .
    The belief in Foreign Investment has been aptly reflected by the competent authorities like SEBI and RBI which have proposed to ease the norms for foreign Investors and club them into a new profile of Foreign Portfolio Investors and is considering of increasing the avenues for tax benefits to furthen their interest in the Indian market. India would do well to not repeat another Vodafone and bring on amicable legislative and market reforms to augur well in the new era of Indo-China led growth.

  16. RV

     

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    The Indian Diaspora in the North America has been one of the main contributors for their resounding success on all the fronts today. The plethora of success they have achieved as doctors , entrepreneurs , engineers and of late legislators and judges in the U.S. has established them as a strong aspiring community and has filled all Indians with a sense of pride.
    However the recent cases of racial discrimination , crackdown on Muslims post 9/11 , increased attacks on Indians and the violent attack on the Gurudwara in Canada , paints a not so rosy picture when it comes to effective protection and grant of rights on equal footing by the host countries . The Indian Diaspora’s demand for greater security both political and socio economic is justified and has rightly been taken up by the Indian Government through bilateral talks. Indian Diaspora also contributes to our economic growth through remittances , NRI deposits and investment in the bond markets and the recent case of Totalisation agreement talks with U.S. shows prudence on our Governments part. The dotting cases of abuse of Diplomatic Immunity especially in case of low wage migrants needs to be taken up at the world forums due to their universal nature under Vienna Convention.
    The U.S. and Canadian Governments preaching moral values standing on the high pedestal of being liberal and biggest supporters of civil rights would do well to address these issues . They should realize the importance of the Vikram Pandits , Bobby Jindals and Sunita Williams of the country and the prospect the Gen-next holds for the country which needs their free , peaceful and non-discriminatory environment to realize their full potential.

  17.  

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    For the first question (Indian diaspora in North America), please refer this:http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter14.pdf (page 188)

  18. simran

     

    1 Vote

    kindly help me by point out my mistakes…. i know still i have done many mistakes but plz guide me regarding where i m lacking now … plz help meeee…
    Thank u

  19. phani

     

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    sir i expect an assessment from u , this is first time i am writing in insights on India.the initiative is awesome. it has literally created a space for all the interested aspirants to assess and reassess themselves by constantly improving their reasoning skills and honing their journalistic aptitude which i think now a days UPSC is looking for.

  20. Ritu Konar

     

    1 Vote

    FOREIGN INVESTMENT is far from being critical to india’s economic growth.critlcally comment.
    Growth of any country largely depends on the volume of its capital formation requring high savings within a country.But on the eve of 1991 Balance of Payment crisis in India,under IMF compulsion it necessiated to liberalise Indian economy thus opening its door wide for global investors to invest in our economy.Foreign Investment i,e. DIRECT and INDIRECT.Direct in terms of ownership and Indirect in terms of investment in shares and stocks.Though policy makers of the land restrained the maximum cap an foreign investors can put into a particular sectorbut very recently, after the recession in world economy in 2008 efforts had been made to enhance the limit with requisite limit on govt -hand.

    In this age of economic globalization foreign investment helps to better India’s Balance of Payment scenario,infrastructure ,employment generation in many ways thus paving way for better standard of living of the countrymen.But here one thing we never can ignore that foreign investment is always made with a profit making purpose by the investors thus many a time creating economic unstability by way of flight of capital or capturing local market and generating less than expected profit for the host country.
    Therefore ,Indian economy can expect better growth by developing manufacturing and industry sector and improving its service sevtor performance rather than being over- dependent on foreign investment.

  21.  

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    Good answer. :-)

  1. Nikku

     

    3 Votes

    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    Post the 1991 reforms, India has opened up several of its sector to foreign investment and integrated itself more deeply with the international economy.
    The foreign investment flowing into India are generally classified as “Foreign Direct Investment” which are long term, and “Foreign Institutional Investment” which are basically portfolio investment and are genrally short term and volatile.
    Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is generally encouraged as it brings in new and better technology, best practices of global management, the much needed capital for infrastructure development and generates employment thus providing impetus to overall development and growth.
    However, FDI too isnt without it flaws. Experts argue that foreign companies are generally insensitive to needs of the local environment. They exploit natural resource of the country and drain it’s raw material. Moreover, their intervention in strategic sectors like telecommunication could be a challenge with regard to security concerns.
    On the other hand, the portfolio investment done via FII are relatively less benificial as they are considered to be volatile and are very susceptible to the global market trends. Checks need to be in place to ensure that these investments do not destabilize the currency by making a quick flight as happened in the south east asian crisis in the 1990s.
    India needs foreign investment at the moment, as the domestic mobilisation of savings is not sufficient to pump in the capital that is needed to sustain the high rate of growth that the country needs to bring its masses out from the clutches of poverty.
    The govt needs to provide a stable and enabling policy and legislative framework while ensuring that the domestic needs of the country are not compromised in the zeal to attract to foreign investment.
    At the same time, we should also ensure that we do not become completely dependent on foreign investment. Efforts should be sustained parallely to generate domestic capital and entreprenuiral skills so that the country can achieve the desired degree of self sufficiency in case the foreign investments dry up.

  2. Amudhan

     

    6 Votes

    Discuss the demands and Expectation of the Indian Diaspora in North America from their Host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine
    Indians in the North American countries are predominantly engaged in highly skilled labor unlike Indians on work permits to Singapore or Dubai. These labors in in North America require Job security from their employers and in case of termination a period of respite to find new jobs and stable visa regime.
    There have also been demands by the Indian government to provide social security to these workers which flatly refused by US government. Additional the Diaspora wants equal treatment in Taxes and benefits arising from them; and equality in the job selection process along with ability to hold a broader range of jobs.
    The US government allows for a highly skilled labor force to come and work but its objectives are not to create to new citizens but procurement of a temporary skilled workforce for its aging population. It is very hard to judge the legitimacy of these since each country treats immigrants according to their own laws and values. The Indian Diaspora as foreigners must abide by them as we expect foreigners to abide by ours. These aspirations can however be reached by Bi-lateral government level talks rather than lobbying by the Diaspora itself.

  3. Amudhan

     

    6 Votes

    “Foreign Investments is far from being critical to India’s economic growth” Critically comment
    India’s CAD is currently at levels of 4% and sometimes touching 5% mark. However our balance of payments has been marginally positive, for which we owe some level of stability in our foreign exchange market, is due to foreign investments. India has high savings rate and sufficient domestic capital to meet most of its own demand however in the present context foreign is averting a BOP crisis – concurrent to which economic growth will not happen.
    The RBI allowed access to ECB’s for domestic companies during the liquidity crisis which galvanized our growth story through the liquidity crunch however a sizable amount of their foreign loans are due in March 2014, which in the absence of foreign capital will precipitate a BOP crisis and a spiraling exchange rate not auguring well for the economy. Foreign capital also brings in new technology and provides competition.
    However some circles point out to a positive cycle triggering this situation where in foreign capital creates a bubble in the real estate and finance markets triggering a wealth effect which increases our imports. Subsequently the rupee will also be overvalued leading to a higher CAD and the need for more capital. In which case we would need lower our dependence on capital and devalue the rupee to appropriate levels and brace for the long haul. Our politicians and the RBI for political and humanistic reasons consideration (33% of our imports is Oil – with a low exchange rate the common man will feel the pinch of price rises) have decided to pursue both in a phased manner in the medium term.

    •  

      Rate This Response!

      You are not critically commenting on the statement. Does foreign investment help India’s economic growth or not? I see some ambiguity in your answer.

  4. Anjali Motghare

     

    4 Votes

    Insights this is my humble request, if u can please frame question by paper wise, topic wise first finish any one paper then start next.
    Means it will give a sense of completing one paper and the like. It will also help in collecting data on one paper at a time. Other aspirants needs also be taken care of. Think for larger interest and decide. This my request purely.

    • lakshmi prasanna

       

      1 Vote

      sir i to feel the same, pls let us choose a systematic and planned path. so that it fills confidence. thank u

    •  

      1 Vote

      Ok I will do that. From next week, I will do that but alternately – three days from paper-I and next three days from paper-II, Sunday holiday!

      I will see if I can increase number of questions to 3 or 4 (with varying word limits – 250, 150, 50)

      But questions won’t be asked topic-wise – they can be asked from any topics within a paper. (if not, it becomes boring, predictable and monotonous, an element of surprise should be there. Also I assume that most of you have covered paper-I and II already in your preparation)

      I started this in your interest only – ok, larger interest. Thanks. (You have asked a 5 Star question!) ;-)

  5. Nirmal Singh

     

    5 Votes

    Indian Diaspora forming a large chunk of population of N.America has a number of issues and demands seeking to be addressed by host country.
    Incidents like recent attack on Sikhs through firing on Gurudwara motivated by racial discrimination raises important security raises reservation and need immediate attention. The immigration issue is another area which need reforms considering its discriminatory character and rigid conditions to sponsor one’s relatives. Indians are demanding parity in rights with fellow citizens in certain areas like more Political representation .The denial religious rights and freedom for Muslims and Sikhs is a matter of concern. The low wage migrants suffers from exploitation by employers and especially diplomats abusing diplomatic immunity under Vienna convention. They are demanding grievance redressal measures like ombudsman and helpline to address the same. Related issue is legalisation of undocumentated migrants gaining entry through illegal means.
    It is indeed a tragedy that USA and Canada has done little to prevent anti-racial attacks ,turning back to their constitutional obligation to guarantee security to its residents. The approach to minimise immigration considering its influence on demographic transition and economy must be replaced by transparent ,anti discriminatory measures. The religious freedom should be viewed in light for liberal civic rights of which USA is a ardent supporter rather than security needs. The issue of diplomatic abuse is more serious and complex as it is out of their domain and needed to solved through source country negotiations to include provisions for applying host country laws under special circumstances. The ombudsman and helpline would be a good step here. Further issue of legalisation of illegal migrants has no grounds since it is against country laws.
    The Diaspora seems to have reasonable and justifiable demands which every country is supposed and must give heed to considering the Diaspora contribution to country economy, human resources and secular credentials

  6. shanti

     

    2 Votes

    Foreign investment is needed for any country in two cases. 1) When domestic investment is inadequate. 2) When foreign exchange is required. In domestic investment front, position of India is fairly sound. As for foreign exchange, it can either be an asset or a liability depending on its repatriability. If it is repatriable it is liability foreign exchange else an asset.
    This way only three types of foreign exchange can be considered as assets – exchange earned from exports, NRO deposits of NRI’s, foreign aid from other countries or agencies. The rest are liabilities like foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign portfolio investment (FPI), foreign currency loans from other countries etc.
    FPI is investment in the capital markets by foreign institutional investors for quick and short term gains. It is called ‘hot money’ or ‘fly by night money’ since it can be withdrawn overnight. FDI is investment in the plant or enterprise by a foreign investor which is part of the paid up capital. It is a debt inflow or a liability foreign exchange because the profits it generates will have to be repatriated in foreign exchange.
    Foreign investment should be avoided unless the yields are more than the repayments. . It is not to be forgotten that the South East Asian crisis in 1997 was due to capital flight. In Indian context, in retail sector, if supply side management or technology was what we needed, strengthening these would have been better than opening it to FDI.
    No economy ever developed with FDI alone. Sustainable economic growth takes place only when the foreign investment is coupled with domestic technological development and application, indigenous mobilization of resources with the help of government’s support and regulation.

    • shanti

       

      Rate This Response!

      Insights,
      Sir, its heartening to see your efforts to help us. Thank you.

      Regarding my answer. It’s one of the first answers i have written. Realised that i havent added many points relevant to India. I should have mentioned CAD atleast. waiting for your review.

      Regards

    •  

      Rate This Response!

      Shanti,

      Your answer is too technical and everything you have mentioned is correct and valid. But it partially answers the question.

      Read the question again – the statement simply means that foreign investment is not critical for India’s economic growth. You have to ‘comment’ on this statement ‘critically’. When you are asked to comment, you have to take a stand – either support the statement and strongly defend it, or oppose it and justify it.

      So you should make your stand clear in the introduction and give a logical flow to your answer.

      This question, though was asked by UPSC in 2009, is very relevant today also(last month we saw easing of FDI norms, increase in capping etc). Going through India’s history – in economic policy making regarding foreign investments – to present scenario and its effect on economic growth, you have to either defend or oppose it. You will get points to justify both stances. Choose one and defend it with reason and logic.

      • shanti

         

        Rate This Response!

        Insights,
        Your review and others answers gave me a perspective of approaching this answer. But i was clueless when i started to write the answer. Nonetheless i will keep writing. I love the way things are happening here.
        Regards.

  7. lakshmi prasanna

     

    2 Votes

    2. During last few decades FDI has become important, as it improves savings and investments for improving production capacity which in turn causes economic development. FDI mostly greater between OECD countries, but recently attracted by developing economies ie BRICS. India started FDI in 1991 through FEMA act. Recent survey revealed India stood in second position after china in attracting FDI. Moreover FDI showed marginal significance in Indian economic growth.

    FDI improves economic growth of a country by bringing capital, technology, managerial skills and capacity and access to foreign markets etc. But the host country should have certain conditions like good per capita income, trade openness, educated labor, developed financial markets and absorptive capacity in order to see FDI impact on economic growth.

    The survey shows reasons for negative impact of FDI on Indian economic growth. The fact is increase in growth rate of FDI is much higher than GDP growth rate. To absorb this excess FDI inflow employment generation is needed. But unfortunately employment growth rate is lower than FDI growth rate. Resulted high inflation pressure and dropped economic growth. Therefore allowing FDI inflow into economy only cannot warrant economic growth minimal level of economic growth should be there in the economy to absorb the excess FDI inflow.

    So government should come up with a policy where FDI enhances domestic production, savings and exports. conclusion is FDI in exports oriented sector is advisable for better economic growth.

    • lakshmi prasanna

       

      Rate This Response!

      sir comment pls is this answer relevant or any drawbacks

      •  

        Rate This Response!

        In the introduction OPEC, BRICS is not necessary. You have given valid points like FDI should generate employment, productivity etc. But you are arguing that economic growth is the precondition for attracting FDI. You should have substantiated it further. Also it is wrong that India is receiving ‘excessive’ FDI. Check the data, it is going downhill (not because of low economic growth, but because of government policies). Also, you should mention the name and year of the ‘survey’ you are referring to – gives authenticity to your argument.

  8. premkumar

     

    1 Vote

    Paper wise question makes easier to understand it s feels easier to aspirnts like pls consider this request

  9. phani

     

    Rate This Response!

    1) Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian Diaspora in the North America from their host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine.

    The immigration of Indians to North America particularly USA and Canada has been happening from pre independent times. After independence many people from india belong to all kinds of skill sets migrated to these countries temporarily and permanently. The lucrative idea of “American dream “ and the development of those countries with relatively less accommodation in Indian industry based on their skill set many young IT professionals and especially IIT graduates migrated to north America and are in all walks of life .
    Out of total population, though Indians account for only a mere 0.7% , 75% of them continue to held very important positions in both private sector and public life. But they continue to face racial and cultural discrimination in some parts of North America. The recent attacks on Sikh gurudwara in USA are a standing testimony of the racial prejudice of some sections of the American population. Especially in times of economic hurdles and growing unemployment Indians are being seen as the biggest job snatchers. Many students are doing a less than skilled jobs like pizza delivery, working in grocery shops and petrol pumps to meet their ends meet. They do not come under any social security programs. They lose their jobs as and when their employer wishes.
    There is a difference in the wages too. A recent study says a Canadian Indian is getting an average income less than 10% of a Canadian though are endowed with the same skill set. With increasing terrorist threats, sometimes Indian Muslims are facing a hard time to clear the immigration checks at the airports is increasing the trust deficit. The NRI’S AND PIO’S expect not less than a fair and equal treatment in employment form countries which boast of equality and freedom. There is a need to increase the trust and value their contributions in the development of north America and constantly pursue the goal of safeguarding them by allying their fears and by providing a social security and stricter punishments against racial discrimination, the onus is on the host countries.

    •  

      Rate This Response!

      Good answer. But you are not answering the second half of the question – whether demands justified? if yes, why? I think their contributions to host countries should be stressed in the conclusion.

  10. Vijay Pateriya

     

    1 Vote

    QUES. Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian diaspora in the N.America from their host country.Are these demands justified?Critically examine.

    In this era of globalization when the world is turning into a global village,Indians are also spreading their wings to other countries in search of better prospects.The Indian Diaspora is expanding with time.North America is one of the leading recipient of the Indians because of economic chances and values offered .

    But this is not so harmoniously every now and then there comes complaints regarding continous discriminations Indians are being subjected in these countries.The concerning issues broadly refers to 3 categories –
    Social security- This covers issues related to attacks on Indians in workplaces or educational institutions on racial lines like Dot busters gang of New jersey.This is currently most burning topic.
    Religious issues –like relating to observance of ritual rites by certain religious communities ,for ex.bearing of turban by Sikhs,recent attack on gurudwara.
    Economic problems-this relates to problems like job security,wage security etc.
    Some other problems raising heads refers to visa problems and providing of basic facilities to Indians.
    Pointing to these lithora of problems,Indians in alien countries continues to seek support from their host countries as well as their Homeland.Host countries can try and sort out these problems at their levels by opening helplines ,extending support facilities to Indians ,discussing issues like religious ones with concerned religious heads and home countries through diplomatic channels while at the same time Indians diaspora must refrain from making any demands which prejudices the local laws and rules of the country concerned.On the whole Diasporas could well be a part of devt. Process as it participates in economic prospects and integrations process of the host countries as well thus they must try and protects foreign diasporas within their borders.

    • Vijay Pateriya

       

      1 Vote

      sir please,
      corrections and anallysis is welcomed & awaited
      thanking you all.

      • Vijay Pateriya

         

        1 Vote

        sir please …………all of you
        any feedbacks
        i want to build upon my ability …….humble request

        •  

          Rate This Response!

          Second half of the questions is not answered. First half is good. For specific information please have a look at this:http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter14.pdf(page 188).

          Your conclusion is not related to the question or introduction. From introduction to the conclusion the whole answer must flow logically.

          After writing each paragraph, have a look at the question. See if your answer is in the right direction and write accordingly. Your answer is good one, but try to make it the best one. :-)

  11. Nik

     

    Rate This Response!

    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    What got started in the late 80’s had its result in 1991, when India announced itself to be Liberalized, Privatized and Globalized (LPG reforms). The concept was clear in itself to prove India being a part of the Global Village. The doubts, however still hover around whether the foreign investment is critical for India’s economic growth? Certainly, a country’s growth in this era cannot be in isolation. It needs to have the benchmark practices of the world in order to be a real competitor. This is not at all possible unless the foreign players are actively involved in the country.
    We cannot deny the fact that our process of industrialization started very late as compared to the developed nations. Idea of getting started from the scratch and development by its own was rejected thoroughly at the time of independence. Help from foreign countries and their companies certainly helped in improving the condition of the people along with improving the economic growth of the country. Adding to it was the era of 1991. Results came slow but steady when India saw the GDP riding at 8% in 11th Five Year Plan.
    Yes, the reason was rise in internal demand but had not foreign players been active, fulfilling of demand was not at all possible. Indian rural market as an untapped niche market was also realized by the foreign investment when the companies started selling sachet packets of bigger brands at affordable prices. The overall result not only profited the companies but the Indian economy as a whole.
    It is this investment which will bring necessary changes to the infrastructure, logistics support and overall policy framing. Raising doubts about it being critical is like looking backwards to old economic era. Foreign investment has proved itself worthy before and will continue to do so.

  12.  

    3 Votes

    Q Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment
    Ans
    Foreign Investment may be temporary or permanent. It may be speculation based or industrial based. It is poised to bring foreign currency into an economy thereby bringing economic stability, competition, technology, capital etc. However most of them whether long term or short term, are profit oriented and do not reflect the local demands of the economy.
    After 1991 economic reforms, India opened its floodgates for foreign investors. This led to an increase in growth figures in past two decades. Though government opened many sectors in a phased manner, there was not much headway in long term capital inflow, and most was limited to speculative financial markets. In addition to that those who established much awaited industrial base did not bring in the required world class technology. This can be understood from India’s manufacturing base which still constitutes abysmal 14% of GDP which shows reluctance of foreign investors in spurring Indian economic growth.
    There has been low investment in infrastructure by foreign companies which require atleast $ 1 trillion during 12 FYP. Further recent lukewarm response and opposition to policy issues by foreign retailers regarding Multi Brand retail trade, which are critical to India’s domestic growth and establishing sound small and medium industries, shows the hawkish attitude. They have advocated for watering down of certain provisions of procurement and back end infrastructure. Most of the funds in financial market are speculative and short term gain oriented leading to destabilization of Indian currency. There is also a lack of CSR on the part of foreign investors.
    Hence, despite creating a business friendly environment by the government, foreign investors are least concerned about Indian growth and betting for more liquidation of norms according to their self interest.

    •  

      Rate This Response!

      Feedback welcomed…!!!

      • Nirmal Singh

         

        Rate This Response!

        Hello Sahil
        I have few reservations regarding some of your arguments.First it is said there was no technology bought by FDI ,I think it is more to do with government restrictive regulations like cap on FDI. No company will ever pour its hard work of decades of research and billions of money without getting any ownership and say in company decisions which is low thanks to FDI caps.Secondly the government has not created friendly environment so important for Direct Investments .The GARR and DTC code ,not fully convertible rupee and unpredictability in laws ensured Foreign investors will think twice before entering India

        •  

          Rate This Response!

          Hey nirmal,
          i did not say that fdi brought no technology. i only said it is not upto the global level or of obsolete nature. Many sectors have more than 50% of fdi allowed which provides access to ownership. Secondly, some legislations are in the pipeline for allowing more investment limits. The GAAR provisions may not be clear and government is working on it but it a genuine demand due to unscrupulous use through tax havens. Further GAAR has been in economic circles for the past 1 or 2 years only. Government has opened e Biz window for better facilitation and one window clearances. In addition, funds in the financial markets are completely speculative due to fiscal stimulus in america. the recent volatility in the market proves this.

  13.  

    2 Votes

    Q. Discuss the demands and expectations of Indian Diaspora in the North America from their host countries. Are these demands justified? Critically examine.
    Ans
    Indian Diaspora is one the major immigrant community in North America especially USA and Canada. Due to lack of opportunities at home, these Indians who are skilled laborers are looking abroad especially in American markets. However lately, there has been a sense of alienation among them due to growing intolerance of the Americans towards outsiders and rising protectionist attitude of the governments.
    Most of the Indian population present in America suffers from racial threats, economic constraints and religious fanaticism. This can be seen in context of the racial attacks on students studying in different educational institutions, racial biasness in the period of recession etc. In addition to this our diaspora still demands a level playing field for both domestic and immigrant labor force as most of them, being professionals working in trans frontier companies, are suffering from visa policy regime of US etc. Other issues involve the attacks on religious places like gurudwaras etc. There has been growing concern from community about the rising fanaticism from the indigenous people. This may lead to the rise of religious extremism.
    With these concerns Indian diaspora is expecting the host governments to take a pragmatic view of some of their legitimate demands like racial biasness and religious intolerance that are more of a real threat to the very existence of the community which has took the relations between Americans and Indians governments to a new height. However, visa policy regime is more a technical issue with the increasing slowdown in American economy and must be dealt at the inter-governmental level.

  14. Ashish Mandal

     

    2 Votes

    “Foreign investment is far from being critical to India’s economic growth”. Critically comment.
    Foreign investment, comprising of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investment (FII), in the current environment of economic turmoil in India, is seen as augmenter of economic growth. However, critics argue that foreign investment is no panacea but a toll of neocolonialism.

    FDI being a stable and much sought investment helps in getting much needed foreign reserves, transfer of technology and generation of employment . FDI also helps in improving quality of goods and services by inducing competition, thus indirectly helps in increasing export potential. Thus, FDI can be said to be helpful in boosting economic growth of a country.

    Even FII adds to foreign reserve by bringing global liquidity into the equity markets. FII being non-debt creating flows reduces cost of capital and raises price earning ratio and supplements domestic savings. Thus, FII indicates a positive relationship with the economic growth of a country. Large FII flow often indicates good economic prospects of a country and reinforces further investments.

    However, critics point that FII being ‘fly by night’ or ‘hot’ money is a risky and poses potential threat of destabilization of economy due to its nature of short term gains.Even for FDI, it is argued that FDI indulges in cut throat competition and monopoly and is a threat to domestic firms. In long term, profits flow out of country just like colonial ‘economic drain’ and thus can be detrimental to the national interests.

    But in India macro-economic concerns of high current account and rupee depreciation calls for foreign investment, as India desperately need foreign currency. FII is no doubt accepted as risky so more focus should be more on FDI, evident from the current FDI policy reforms. Opening up market in new sector will boost economic growth of India as seen in 90s reform especially in telecom sector.

  15. RV

     

    Rate This Response!

    Foreign investment in the form of Foreign Direct Investment , FII , QFI are deemed to bring much needed foreign capital , enhance technology transfer and establish world class management and industry competetiveness.
    There has been much hue and cry over the recent “tapering” fiasco in the Indian markets and many have questioned the wisdom of foreign Investment citing reasons from low technology transfer to not so efficient management . I find this view myopic and stand by the long term gains the country stands to hold from Foreign Investments .
    India is destined to be the global growth engine and for this it requires huge injection into the infrastructure and the capital market which need to be partially sufficed from foreign investment as has been the case in the past. Foreign Investments have undoubtedly brought in competitiveness in the markets thereby reducing the inefficiency if not totally eliminating it and has brought in customer centric good practices.They have shown interest time and again in the Indian bond markets and still hold a considerable weight in that area. The condition of Indian economy had it not been for the 1991 reforms would have been abysmal .
    The belief in Foreign Investment has been aptly reflected by the competent authorities like SEBI and RBI which have proposed to ease the norms for foreign Investors and club them into a new profile of Foreign Portfolio Investors and is considering of increasing the avenues for tax benefits to furthen their interest in the Indian market. India would do well to not repeat another Vodafone and bring on amicable legislative and market reforms to augur well in the new era of Indo-China led growth.

  16. RV

     

    Rate This Response!

    The Indian Diaspora in the North America has been one of the main contributors for their resounding success on all the fronts today. The plethora of success they have achieved as doctors , entrepreneurs , engineers and of late legislators and judges in the U.S. has established them as a strong aspiring community and has filled all Indians with a sense of pride.
    However the recent cases of racial discrimination , crackdown on Muslims post 9/11 , increased attacks on Indians and the violent attack on the Gurudwara in Canada , paints a not so rosy picture when it comes to effective protection and grant of rights on equal footing by the host countries . The Indian Diaspora’s demand for greater security both political and socio economic is justified and has rightly been taken up by the Indian Government through bilateral talks. Indian Diaspora also contributes to our economic growth through remittances , NRI deposits and investment in the bond markets and the recent case of Totalisation agreement talks with U.S. shows prudence on our Governments part. The dotting cases of abuse of Diplomatic Immunity especially in case of low wage migrants needs to be taken up at the world forums due to their universal nature under Vienna Convention.
    The U.S. and Canadian Governments preaching moral values standing on the high pedestal of being liberal and biggest supporters of civil rights would do well to address these issues . They should realize the importance of the Vikram Pandits , Bobby Jindals and Sunita Williams of the country and the prospect the Gen-next holds for the country which needs their free , peaceful and non-discriminatory environment to realize their full potential.

  17.  

    Rate This Response!

    For the first question (Indian diaspora in North America), please refer this:http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter14.pdf (page 188)

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Filed under DAILY ANSWER WRITING, IAS, UPSC

In Egypt, It Is Back To Square One

Egypt was ought to be a role model for other Arab countries - post Arab spring revolutions. After throwing out Hoshni Mubarak, a puppet ruler in the hands of USA, Egypt democratically elected its first leader – Mohammed Morsi, albeit belonging to Muslim Brotherhood, which was antithetical to the secular practices of previous governments.

arab spring, egypt revolution-2, egypt revolution morsey ouster

Source – The Atlantic

In fact, Muslim Brotherhood which got the majority of votes in the elections held after the Arab Spring revolution, had its birth in Egypt. Brotherhood believed that the Quran and Sunnah should guide the functioning of individuals, families, communities and the state.

This organization which did not hide its anti-secular beliefs won many hearts of Arab youths and managed to form first ever democratic government.

Now after a year of governance, the organization and its poster child – Morsi, have both lost their credibility in the eyes of the same youth. Morse, who initially promised a secular government, slowly tried to infiltrate Muslim Brotherhood’s ideas and functionaries into many institutions of governance.

muslim brotherhood, egypt revolution, arab-spring revolution,

Source- Sabbah.biz

This did not go well with the educated youth, who saw their revolution being hijacked and used for political and religious opportunistic purposes.

The Arab Spring revolution was an outburst of anger and despair against despotic governments which deprived these youth of their rightful employments, quality education and opportunities to live a healthy life.

Muslim Brotherhood, in its zeal to impose Sharia, meted the same treatment to these youth as did the despots of the past.

Expectedly the second wave of anger again out-poured on the streets of Cairo when eight young protesters were killed by the Muslim Brotherhood goons this week.

Military which waited for an opportunity to oust Morsi, gave him an ultimatum of 48 hours to resign from the post of President. When he did not, Military ousted him unceremoniously and instated a senior judge in his place promising Egypt quick elections.

In Syria the same Muslim Brotherhood is supported by Western countries in their endeavors of toppling the Assad’s government. In Turkey, the government which thinks it has Army in its control should realize that it is secularism that ultimately wins hearts of the majority.

For now, Arab Spring doesn’t stop to spring surprises now and then. One may argue that democracy is the victim in Egypt, but democracy at the cost of secularism is the weakest form of government to run in the long term.

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Filed under DEMOCRACY, IAS

I feel sorry for Kapil Sibal and company for their zero-loss theory, CAG Vinod Rai says

I feel sorry for Kapil Sibal and company for their zero-loss theory, CAG Vinod Rai says.

None of the 30 Comptroller & Auditor Generals of India before him had created the kind of waves as he did. Vinod Rai threw up gigantic figures of money allegedly stolen from government coffers. In full public glare, he exposed corruption — first 2G and then Coalgate — which shook the government’s very foundation. He was attacked, his motives questioned. But Rai stood his ground. On May 22, his tenure as CAG comes to an end. But even as he departs, he has possibly fundamentally changed the character of the 153-year-old institution. Future CAGs are unlikely to be toothless auditors. Rai discusses his eventful tenure withTOI’s Pradeep Thakur in a free-wheeling interview. Excerpts:

Your tenure has been very eventful. You have redefined CAG by giving it the kind of teeth that TN Seshan gave to the Election Commission. Wouldn’t you agree?

The role of every institution is well defined. It’s only the question of how you operationalize that role, and for operationalizing it’s not the individual who matters. I wouldn’t say it is combination of stars but combination of team, time and the individual. So I was lucky to have a very good team. The other factor that worked in our favour was you – the media, the 24×7 channels. Media has become so alert and it knows what needs to be highlighted. From our report, the media picked up only substantial issues.

There’s a perception that the media did so because you played to the galleries, that CAG in your time has played an adversarial role to the government.

Look, audit by definition has an adversarial role. Whether it is government audit or that of a public sector undertaking, the role of audit is to find out lacuna, to try and ensure that things have been done properly. If the executive takes the suggestions positively, we are on the same side. It’s not ‘we’ and ‘they’; it’s ‘we’. I’m a government servant as much as the finance secretary is. We are all trying to improve the governance of the country, the delivery channels, public policies and how they function. I am giving you suggestions, but if you start stonewalling them, saying what does auditor know, then where do we go? Yes, we work in hindsight, no doubt about it. But, that is what audit is all about.


In hindsight, would it have been better presenting the suggestions in a more low-key manner instead of holding grand press conferences? For that created the impression that you are going for the government’s jugular rather than providing constructive criticism.

I fully agree with you. But you must understand our difficulty. In 1988, post Bofors, the then CAG T N Chaturvedi, the government and the PAC sat together and decided how best to deal with audit reports which are placed in Parliament since lot of misinformation (on Bofors) was doing the rounds. Then we came up with this media policy where it was decided to hold press conferences. The day my report is placed in Parliament, it is also my responsibility to inform the media accurately about what the report contains. This policy is being followed since 1988. The current media policy was framed in 2006 and I joined in 2008. No changes have been brought in. I enclosed this book (media policy) to the PM when he had said that you talk to print media. I wrote to him immediately on policy and asked him, “Sir, what do you expect me to do?”

You said it was a ‘combination of team, time and the individual’. What did you mean?

By time, I meant the churning going on in the society. Citizens have come centre stage. That is why I said time has come. Our report came at a time when Anna Hazare and company where doing something different. There was a general churning in society… so it is a combination of factors.

By churning are you referring to the growing resentment against corruption?

Exactly! And which I think is a very positive development. Our capacity to put up with corruption was going beyond bounds and somewhere the line has been drawn now. It is the younger generation which is making a difference. You and I may agree that if some chai paani has to be given, to get over it, but the younger generation will not tolerate it anymore. And they are the ones who came out on the streets.

Don’t you feel that a person’s worth in society is often measured by his wealth? Doesn’t that give rise to an easy get-rich urge, even if corners are cut, or morals compromised?

It’s weakness in our mind which makes us believe that society values the money you have, that you are respected by the size of your purse. I’ve seen lots of people, in government and outside, who get recognized otherwise. Yes, money in India is a great distinguishing factor. But there are of two types: one is the Mukesh Ambani type, the other is a person at a lower level, the one who gives Rs 100 for a ticket reservation or if I am in commerce ministry, tip my peon only because he opens the door… these are people who are not mature.

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Is Civil Society In India Urban-Centric?

The use of phrase ‘civil society’ became quite popular during Anna Hazare led movement against corruption. Until then this phrase was non existent in public discourse.

Mainstream media then started assessing the nature of civil society institutions that were involved in this popular agitation. Many branded this movement as middle-class phenomena; urban centric; driven by internet and educated urban youth.

The whole movement led by Anna Hazare was branded as civil society movement. As agitations were limited to urban centres, the perception about civil societies was that of urban-centric and middle-class phenomena.

This perception created by mainstream media is a best example how public opinion can be moulded by TV debates.

Civil society is a group of people who organize themselves to protect common interests and demand certain rights from state whenever necessary. They are basically distinct from the state which wields power and controls almost every sphere of life of a common man.

These civil society groups can be any organization that is managed by common citizens and not funded by the state.

In India, at present civil society reminds us of either Anna Hazare and his erstwhile group, or NGOs headed by Aruna Roy or Medha Patkar. It is because they are frequently visible in the mainstream media.

But there are civil society groups in almost every village in India. If one visits rural area, they can see certain ‘sangh’ (organization) – for example, Ambedkar Youth organization (mostly of Dalits), certain caste affiliated groups, youth sports organizations, or cine/political fan associations. Their sphere of influence is limited to their villages or surrounding villages.

Apart from these regular groups, there are many NGOs working in tribal, backward, desert areas.

There is another argument – that civil society groups should be apolitical. Though most of the times, aim of these civil society groups is to achieve goals that fulfill needs of their own groups, the means adopted to achieve such goals vary. In villages members of above mentioned groups contest local elections and enter local bodies.

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan fielded its candidates in local elections held in Rajasthan. This organization is led by Aruna Roy.

Now, we witnessed how Arvind Kejriwal metamorphosed into a politician from an ardent civil society activist. His contention is that state is very powerful and one needs to enter it to make difference in the society by cleaning politics which controls whole state machinery.

Urban regions in India have innumerable civil society groups. They are vocal because they are informed, educated and aware about state’s activities and machinations.

In India, state is all too powerful for any civil society group to stand against it and force it to do something against its wishes. State can use its institutions to intimidate, spy, control, suppress and demoralize civil society groups that go against its wishes.

Here state can be a democratic or an autocratic regime. This happens more in autocratic states where power is concentrated in few people and who are intolerant of any form of dissent. Democracies also try to control civil society groups when there exists no accountability and is too corrupt.

Urban civil society groups know the means to fight such interventions whereas those located in villages hardly have such means.

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Acceptance Speech by Shri Pranab Mukherjee on his Assumption of office as President of India – Complete Text

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil,

Shri Hamid Ansari,

Smt. Meira Kumar,

Shri Justice S.H. Kapadia,

Members of Parliament,

Your Excellencies, Friends and fellow citizens,

I am deeply moved by the high honour you have accorded to me. Such honour exalts the occupant of this office, even as it demands that he rises above personal or partisan interests in the service of the national good.

The principal responsibility of this office is to function as the guardian of our Constitution. I will strive, as I said on oath, to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution not just in word but also in spirit. We are all, across the divide of party and region, partners at the altar of our motherland. Our federal Constitution embodies the idea of modern India: it defines not only India but also modernity. A modern nation is built on some basic fundamentals: democracy, or equal rights for every citizen; secularism, or equal freedom to every faith; equality of every region and language; gender equality and, perhaps most important of all, economic equity. For our development to be real the poorest of our land must feel that they are part of the narrative of rising India.

I have seen vast, perhaps unbelievable, changes during the journey that has brought me from the flicker of a lamp in a small Bengal village to the chandeliers of Delhi. I was a boy when Bengal was savaged by a famine that killed millions; the misery and sorrow is still not lost on me. We have achieved much in the field of agriculture, industry and social infrastructure; but that is nothing compared to what India, led by the coming generations, will create in the decades ahead.

Our national mission must continue to be what it was when the generation of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Ambedkar andMaulana Azad offered us a tryst with destiny: to eliminate the curse of poverty, and create such opportunities for the young that they can take our India forward by quantum leaps. There is no humiliation more abusive than hunger. Trickle-down theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor. We must lift those at the bottom so that poverty is erased from the dictionary of modern India.

What has brought us thus far, will take us further ahead. India`s true story is the partnership of the people. Our wealth has been created by farmers and workers, industrialists and service-providers, soldiers and civilians. Our social harmony is the sublime co-existence of temple, mosque, church, gurudwara and synagogue; they are symbols of our unity in diversity.

Peace is the first ingredient of prosperity. History has often been written in the red of blood; but development and progress are the luminous rewards of a peace dividend, not a war trophy. The two halves of the 20th Century tell their own story. Europe, and indeed the world, reinvented itself after the end of the Second World War and the collapse of colonization, leading to the rise of great institutions like the United Nations. Leaders who ordered great armies into the field, and then understood that war was more barbarism than glory, transformed the world by changing its mindset. Gandhiji taught by example, and gave us the supreme strength of non-violence. India`s philosophy is not an abstract in textbooks. It flourishes in the day-to-day life of our people, who value the humane above all else. Violence is external to our nature; when, as human beings, we do err, we exorcise our sins with penitence and accountability.

But the visible rewards of peace have also obscured the fact that the age of war is not over. We are in the midst of a fourth world war; the third was the Cold War, but it was very warm in Asia, Africa and Latin America till it ended in the early 1990s. The war against terrorism is the fourth; and it is a world war because it can raise its evil head anywhere in the world. India has been on the frontlines of this war long before many other recognized its vicious depth or poisonous consequences. I am proud of the valour and conviction and steely determination of our Armed Forces as they have fought this menace on our borders; of our brave police forces as they have met the enemy within; and of our people, who have defeated the terrorist trap by remaining calm in the face of extraordinary provocation. The people of India have been a beacon of maturity through the trauma of whiplash wounds. Those who instigate violence and perpetuate hatred need to understand one truth. Few minutes of peace will achieve far more than many years of war. India is content with itself, and driven by the will to sit on the high table of prosperity. It will not be deflected in its mission by noxious practitioners of terror.

As Indians, we must of course learn from the past; but we must remain focused on the future. In my view, education is the alchemy that can bring India its next golden age. Our oldest scriptures laid the framework of society around the pillars of knowledge; our challenge is to convert knowledge into a democratic force by taking it into every corner of our country. Our motto is unambiguous: All for knowledge, and knowledge for all.

The weight of office sometimes becomes a burden on dreams. The news is not always cheerful. Corruption is an evil that can depress the nation`s mood and sap its progress. We cannot allow our progress to be hijacked by the greed of a few.

I envisage an India where unity of purpose propels the common good; where Centre and State are driven by the single vision of good governance; where every revolution is green; where democracy is not merely the right to vote once in five years but to speak always in the citizen`s interest; where knowledge becomes wisdom; where the young pour their phenomenal energy and talent into the collective cause. As tyranny dwindles across the world; as democracy gets fresh life in regions once considered inhospitable; India becomes the model of modernity.

As Swami Vivekananda in his soaring metaphor said, India will be raised, not with the power of flesh but with the power of the spirit, not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love. Bring all the forces of good together. Do not care what be your colour-green, blue or red, but mix all the colours up and produce that intense glow of white, the colour of love. Ours is to work, the results will take care of themselves.

There is no greater reward for a public servant than to be elected the first citizen of our Republic. Jai Hind.”

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Union Cabinet Approves Introduction of the Criminal Law (Amendment ) Bill, 2012 in the Parliament With Provision Of Stringent Punishment For Rape

The Law Commission of India in its 172nd Report on `Review of Rape Laws` as well the National Commission for Women have recommended for stringent punishment for the offence of rape.

Taking this into consideration, government had constituted a high powered committee headed by Union Home Secretary, which  examined the recommendations of Law Commission, NCW and suggestions various quarters on the subject submitted its Report along with the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011 and recommended to the Government for its enactment.

Today (July 20, 2012), union cabinet approved the bill for introducing it in the Parliament, which if passed would become a law.

This new bill makes rape gender neutral. Instead of the word ‘rape’, a more encompassing phrase ‘sexual assault’ is substituted which includes sexual offence on both men and women.

This ‘gender neutral’ clause has been facing opposition from feminists,  according to whom in India it is women who are predominantly the victims of rape and making it gender neutral will not make this law a deterrent for would be offenders.

It is true that more and more crimes are committed against women with each passing year.

According to to the Union ministry of home affairs’ compendium on crime statistics, compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidence of crime against women in India has shot up both numerically and as a proportion of total number of Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes.

While the number of such crimes shot up to 2,28,650 in 2011 from 2,13,585 in 2010, marking a seven per cent spurt, West Bengal reported the highest number of such cases. (CNN-IBN)

Making it gender neutral enables the act to empower law enforcing agencies to register cases of sexual assault on men too, may be by women (!?), or by men – especially on boys. (boys and girls who are below 16 years of age are one of the worst victims of sexual assault in India – according to many studies it has come to light that people within family, or a known person is the common offender)

Highlights of the Bill

The highlights of the Bill include substituting sections 375, 376, 376A and 376B by replacing the existing sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C and 376D of the Indian Penal Code,1860, replacing the word `rape’ wherever it occurs by the words `sexual assault`, to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral, and also widening the scope of the offence sexual assault.

The punishment for sexual assault will be for a minimum of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine for aggravated sexual assault, i.e., by a police officer within his jurisdiction or a public servant / manager or person talking advantage of his position of authority etc. The punishment will be rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years which may extend to life imprisonment and also fine.

The age of consent has been raised from 16 years to 18 years in sexual assault. However, it is proposed that the sexual intercourse by a man with own wife being under sixteen years of age is not sexual assault.

Provision for enhancement of punishment under sections 354 and 509 of IPC and insertion of sections 326A and 326B in the IPC for making acid attack a specific offence have been made.

More than laws, it is action which is needed. Some police stations refuse to even register FIR, some show lack of interest, some buckle under pressure from influential people derailing the case, some cops even indulge themselves in ‘sexual assaults’, there are officers who blame girls for ‘inviting’ rape, and if not highlighted by media, many rape cases go even unnoticed and unregistered.

Police should be taught during their training to be sensitive and imbibe empathy. It is not tough laws which reduce crimes, but cultivation of civilized attitude by everybody.

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‘Soft Power’ China Divides and Tries To Rule Asia pacific

Last week 10 member ASEAN countries’ meet ended in debacle. China orchestrated  it, Cambodia the host and indebted to China, ensured it.

China has become assertive in its claim to superiority in the Asia Pacific region, scaring neighbouring countries and pushing them, quite stupidly towards US pivot.

Resource rich South China Sea has become bone of contention between China and host of countries that use its waters. Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have claims in South China Sea; but China claims almost all of the sea, including territory of Taiwan.

Territorial claims in South China Sea – Economist

ASEAN members are known for their unity and have a treaty to help each other and resolve any matters concerning them collectively. But, last week, they failed, first time in 45 years to issue a communique’ at the end of their meeting. It is said that Cambodia which chaired it, and which receives huge amount of aid from China jeopardized it.

Philippines and Vietnam wanted to include in the communique’ their recent skirmishes with China in the South China Sea. But, Cambodia did not agree for this citing that the matter was bilateral and could not be a part of multilateral outcome document.

That is what China is doing – dividing the unity in Asia pacific. It is chosing one at a time to resolve its disputes. It knows well that collective strength of ASEAN is huge.

Unwittingly, this has led to rejigging in geopolitical alignments – Philippines and Vietnam are elevating their relationship with USA to strategic level. Both are fast growing countries, and to meet future energy needs, they are claiming parts of South China Sea that has vaguely defined territorial limits between each nations.

China claims Paracel and Spratly islands which are also claimed by Vietnam. China claims Scarborough islands which Philippines says belongs to its jurisdiction.

According to Law of the Sea treaty of UN, an inhabited territory can claim 200 km of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) into the sea, and if they are  uninhabited, they can claim only 20 km of ‘territorial waters’.

China says it owns all the islands fully or partially in the South China Sea. That allows it to claim part of this sea until the doorsteps of Malaysia, some 2500kms away from Hong kong.

China has grown greedy over the years. Its increasing economic prowess has enabled it to bribe some nations into its submission, and make it more assertive beyond its conventional territories.

For those who advocate ‘string of pearls’ theory, here is a counter argument. It is actually China which is being surrounded by hostile nations  - from Japan to Vietnam – covering Pacific to Indian Oceans.

If it do not learn to keep its neighbors in good humor, China’s rise as ‘superpower’ will only prove perilous in the long term.

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Child Malnutrition In India – Magnitude, Its Causes, Consequences and Remedies

Though quieter than famine, persistent undernutrition kills many more people slowly in the long run than famine do”   (Dre’ze and Sen 1998)

India’s much coveted ‘demographic dividend‘ might be  in jeopardy. It is estimated that by 2030, there  will be 484.86 million youth (aged between 15 to 34) in India. Much has been said about its potential for the Indian economy to reap rich harvest in  the coming days.

But, the question is – what percentage of that population is healthy? fit enough to work in a challenging, highly competitive world?

image- BBC

MAGNITUDE OF MALNUTRITION

National Family Health Survey – III (NFHS-III)  (2005-06) revealed shocking data regarding the health status of India children – long before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, called malnutrition as matter of national shame.

According to NFHS-III, which is conducted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has 48% stunted, 20% wasted, and 43% underweight children below 5 years (45%, 23% and 40% respectively for children below 3 years). Stunted indicates chronic malnutrition; wasted – acute malnutrition and underweight indicates a composite index of chronic and acute malnutrition.

According to UNICEF:

  • Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections. Stunting generally occurs before age two, and effects are largely irreversible. These include delayed motor development, impaired cognitive function and poor school performance. Nearly one third of children under five in the developing world are stunted.
  • Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease. There are 24 developing countries with wasting rates of 10 per cent or more, indicating a serious problem urgently requiring a response.
  • Since 1990, underweightprevalence has declined from 32 per cent to 27 per cent in the developing world. The East Asia/Pacific and CEE/CIS regions have made the greatest progress in reducing underweight prevalence, and 58 countries are on track to reach the MDG target. Yet, 143 million under-fives in the developing world continue to suffer from malnutrition, more than half of them in South Asia. Most countries failing to make sufficient progress are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Recent report by Naandi foundation, named HUNgMA report which focused its detailed study on 100 ‘focus districts’  revealed that, 42% children are underweight and 59% are stunted who are under five (2010). During release function of this report that PM termed malnutrition as national shame.

India compared – source:Economist

CAUSES

The causes for malnutrition are various and are multidimensional. To sum up, they include:

- Household food insecurity

- illiteracy specially in women

- Poor access to health services

-Lack of availability of safe drinking water

- Poor sanitation and environmental conditions and low purchasing power etc.

- Early marriages of girls

- Teenage pregnancies resulting in low birth weight of the newborns

- Poor breastfeeding practices

-Poor complementary feeding practices

- Ignorance about nutritional needs of infants and young children and  repeated infections further aggravate the situation.

- Number of other factors such as environmental, geographical, agricultural, and cultural including various other factors have contributive effects resulting in malnutrition.

Therefore it is widely recognized that a multi sectoral approach is necessary to tackle the problem of malnutrition.

CONSEQUENCES OF MALNUTRITION

Undernourished children have significantly lower chances of survival than children who are well-nourished. They are much more prone to serious infections and to die from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, measles, malaria, pneumonia, and HIV and AIDS. The risk of dying increases with the severity of the under-nutrition. For instance, a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition is nine times more likely to die than children who are not undernourished.

Nutrition is important to ensure proper brain formation and development, which starts in the womb: development of the brain goes on during early childhood. Evidence suggests that children who are stunted often enrol late in school, complete fewer grades and perform less well in school. This, in turn, affects their creativity and productivity in later life. Iodine deficiency is known to affect a child’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) adversely. It has also been established that children with deficient growth before age two are at an increased risk of chronic disease as adults, especially if they gain weight rapidly in the later stages of childhood. A low birth weight baby, who is stunted and underweight in its infancy and gains weight rapidly in childhood and adult life, is much more prone to chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (FRONTLINE)

RECOMMENDATIONS OF PLANNING COMMISSION

A Task Force was constituted by the Planning Commission in December 2007 to study the Problems of Childhood Malnutrition.

The recommendations of the Task Force include:

  • regular annual survey under ICDS on malnutrition rates ;
  • Village Health and Sanitation Committee to monitor nutrition programmes through the Village Health and Nutrition Days ;
  • introduction of BMI as another index for assessing nutritional status at the Anganwadi level ;
  • effective antenatal care and conditional maternity entitlements to reduce incidence of low birth weight babies ;
  • focus on health and nutrition of adolescent girls ;
  • promoting appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and timely immunisation;
  • child specific growth monitoring cards ;
  • special focus on severely malnourished children ;
  • hot cooked meals and community participation under ICDS;
  • capacity building of the Anganwadi workers ;
  • convergence with other programmes etc.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Good nourishment is the right of every child, and the state must ensure proper nutrition for all children. In this regard government has taken number of steps, but in spite of these measure, malnourishment is highly prevalent. This is mainly because of failure in delivering services, and loopholes in some of the schemes.

Direct interventions schemes include:

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme,
  • National Rural Health Mission (NRHM),
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme,
  • Rajiv Gandhi Schemes for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) namely SABLA and
  •  Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY)

SIMPLE MEASURES WITHOUT INCURRING COST

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that tackling child under-nutrition requires a life-cycle approach, which implies that different interventions are needed at different stages in the life of a woman (during adolescence and pre-pregnancy as well as during pregnancy and after the birth of the child) and of a child (immediately at birth, up to six months, 6-23 months and 24-59 months). Listed below are such five critical technical interventions.

1. Improve breastfeeding practices in the first six months of life by ensuring that:

• All newborns start breastfeeding within one hour after birth (early initiation);

• All newborns are fed the nutrient-rich colostrum in the first three-to-four days of life (colostrum feeding); and

• All infants are fed only breast milk in the first six months of life (exclusive breastfeeding) and are not fed any other solid or liquid, not even water.

2. Improve foods and feeding practices for children 6-23 months old by ensuring that:

• Infants are fed complementary foods beginning at about six months of age while breastfeeding continues until two years and beyond;

• Complementary foods are rich in energy, protein, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

3. Control micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia in the first years of life by ensuring that:

• All children 6-59 months old are provided with vitamin A supplements twice a year (about six months apart);

• All children 12-59 months old are provided with deworming tablets twice a year (about six months apart); and

• All children with diarrhoea receive appropriate treatment with zinc supplements and oral rehydration solution (ORS).

4. Control micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia in adolescent girls and women by ensuring that:

• Anaemia is prevented in adolescent girls and pregnant women through supplementation programmes with iron and folic acid and deworming tablets;

• Iodine deficiency is prevented in adolescent girls and women by ensuring that all salt for direct human consumption contains adequate levels of iodine.

5. Provide quality care for children with severe under-nutrition by ensuring that:

• Cases of severe acute under-nutrition are managed at home with simplified protocols and also clinically (wherever required) under appropriate medical supervision.

In terms of immediate actions that can yield quick results, four priorities for the child would be the initiation of breastfeeding within one hour after birth, exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, introduction of appropriate complementary foods after six months, and bi-annual vitamin A supplementation with deworming for children under five. (SOURCE: Frontline)

To realize the potential of demographic dividend, India must ensure that its children grow healthily. Economic growth of 9% can not guarantee good health to the citizens if the state do not take pains to redistribute wealth properly to make India a safer place for its children to grow with dignity.

 

BOOKS REFERRED:

1) The Concise Oxford Companion To Economics In India

2) India 2012-Publication Division

3)Economic Survey (2011-12)

Apart from these, I have liberally taken paragraphs from Frontline magazine and PIB website and credits are duly acknowledged with links to the sources. 

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Addressing Infrastructure Bottlenecks In India – Recent Measures Taken By The Government Of India

India’s poor infrastructure is the major roadblock that is holding it from achieving 9% plus growth. Many bottlenecks such as delayed decision making, red-tapism, problems in environmental clearance, skewed land acquisition policies, inadequate fuel supply to power plants, lack of private participation in investment and importantly corruption.

To address some of these problems government has finally woken up from slumber after the poor show of economy in 2011-12 and continued downspin of all economic indicators.

In 2009, Prime Minister constituted Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) identifying infrastructure as priority area for speeding up the growth of the economy. CCI was given four main responsibilities:

1. To consider and take decisions in respect of all infrastructure related proposals costing more than Rs.150 crores specifically those concerning Energy, Railways, Roads and National Highways, Ports, Airports, Telecommunications, Information Technology, Irrigation, Housing and Urban Development with particular emphasis on rural housing and urban slum clearance.

2. To consider and decide measures; namely, fiscal, financial, institutional and legal required to enhance investment in the infrastructure sector, including grant of requisite approvals to facilitate private sector investment in specific projects;

3. To lay down annual parameters and targets for performance for all infrastructure sectors; and

4. To review the progress of infrastructure sector projects.

But, instead of speeding up the infrastructure projects, this committee became dysfunctional thanks to series of mega scams that started haunting this government. Many important projects involving thousands of crores are lying in suspended animation thanks to aforementioned bottlenecks.

In March 2012, government again woke up to the reality of looming danger of economic crisis and PM announced that his government would put in place a mechanism called  ‘Investment Tracking System’ to ensure quick implementation of major infrastructure projects.

According to this system, Promoters of the projects in PPP (Public Private Partnership), where the proposed investment is Rs 1,000 crore and above, are requested to provide details of their projects along with reasons behind delay.

This was a vague proposition without much muscle.

Economic Survey 2011-12 mentioned that country would need 50% private participation in developing infrastructure in India up from present 36% contribution. Lack of enthusiasm from private investors is because of delays in clearance of projects from government and inflating costs that come with it affecting their profits.

In the approach paper to 12th plan whose period has already started (2012-17) planning commission has proposed that India needs nearly $1 trillion to fund infrastructure during this period.

To rope in private investors, Finance Minister proposed slew of measures including setting up of ambitious Infrastructure Debt Fund in his 2011-12 budget speech.

Infrastructure Debt Fund

Ministry of Finance issued the guidelines for the IDFs that inter alia allowed IDFs to be set up as NBFCs or as mutual funds in June, 2011. Regulations governing IDFs structured as mutual funds was issued by SEBI in August, 2011 and regulations governing IDFs structured as NBFCs was issued by RBI in November, 2011.

 

The IDFs through innovative means of credit enhancement is expected to provide long-term low-cost debt for infrastructure projects by tapping into source of long tenure savings like Insurance and Pension Funds which have hitherto played a comparatively limited role in financing infrastructure in India.

Further, the IDFs set up as NBFC shall invest only in PPP projects which have successfully completed one year of commercial operation and are a party to a Tripartite Agreement with the concessionaire and the Government authority sanctioning the project.

Banks and NBFCs would be eligible to sponsor IDFs subject to existing prudential limits. The restricted portfolio of investment of the IDF, tripartite agreement and first loss of the sponsors would enable the IDFs to issue bonds with at least AA rating.  

Thus the IDFs would present an attractive option for such entities who wish to invest for long term in comparatively secure instruments. The off-shore investors that these IDFs are targeted to tap are Pension Funds, Insurance Companies, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Endowment Funds etc.

 

So far 3 IDFs have already been launched. The first IDF structured as a NBFC was launched on March 5, 2012, with ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda (BoB), Citicorp Finance India Limited (Citi) and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The initial size of this IDF is expected to be Rs. 8,000 crore. (source – PIB)

Latest Decision Regarding Infrastructure Development

On July 2012, government through its CCI (Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure) took an important step in speeding up the infrastructure projects by taking following decisions:

With an increasing reliance being placed on PPP projects across many wings of the government, it has become necessary to adopt a well-defined institutional structure for overseeing contract performance effectively.  This is all the more necessary as concessionaires will have an incentive to cut corners whereas the criticism would be faced by government.

 

            The Institutional Framework requires project authorities to create a two-tier mechanism for monitoring the performance of PPP projects:

(i)             A PPP Projects Monitoring Unit (PMU) at the project authority level

(ii)            A PPP Performance Review Unit (PRU) at the Ministry or State Government level, as the case may be.

            The PMU is to prepare a report to be submitted to PRU within 15 days of the close of the relevant month.  The report is to cover compliance of conditions, adherence to time lines, assessment of performance, remedial measures, imposition of penalties, etc.

The PRU is to review the reports submitted by the different PMUs and oversee or initiate action for rectifying any defaults or lapses.

        In addition to these, concerned ministries will send compliance report to the planning commission and finance ministry every quarter.

With slew of measure in place, now the government needs strong will to comply with its own decisions to enforce speedy completion of many impending projects.

India can not afford to neglect its infrastructure especially in power, transportation and communication sectors. The more we neglect these areas, more we will lag behind while rest of the world moves forward.

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Aftershocks Of ‘Policy Paralysis’

People at the helm still blame Eurozone crisis for India’s economic problems. The same people were jubilant two years ago when India somehow managed decent growth despite severe global economic crisis. The reason for their jubilation was that  they believed that Indian economy was decoupled from the crisis-hit economies of the West. Now, this reasoning seems to have died as problems have become perceptible by all.

The change in attitude of people who are in charge of taking country forward is cosmetic – they know that problems being faced by India are of their own making.  It is policy paralysis that is affecting growth, hence development.

The cost of inaction on important policy matters – whether related to infrastructure, finance, export-import, reforms in Insurance sector, or FDI – will be huge.

Moving beyond micro and macroeconomic dispensation, consequences of the present crisis for India are proving to be costly.

India was recognized as raising power only in late 1990s i.e. after economic reforms were rolled in to escape balance of payment crisis and whose benefits started to be  felt in the form of higher growth and income.

The recognition came with robust economic growth, and world leaders started visiting India more frequently.

The major benefit of economic growth for country like India with its long cherished democratic credentials is that of diversification of its choices on foreign policy front – countries want to associate with largest democracy and fastest growing country because it is mutually beneficial for them.

Presently, the political instability, poor decision making, policy inaction and buckling under pressure in the guise of ‘coalition compulsion’ – are deterring investors and policy makers of other countries’ from investing and fostering long term economic, political relations with India.

Good economic growth will enhance our clout and help leverage our position in important international fora to bargain and negotiate assertively.

With dithering growth, India may not be able to push its agenda at WTO or climate change meetings in the future.

Even UN Security Council reforms will suffer from India’s policy paralysis – its term as non-permanent member will end in few months without any glorious achievements.

India, a serious contender for the permanent seat in UNSC, will lose its advantage to other members of G-4, if its domestic woes continue unabated.

With highly respected economist as its leader, India is going through its worst crisis in recent times.

Someone said that Dr Singh is like Tendulkar, the Captain. Tendulkar knew what he does best and avoided captaining. That is the reason he still plays well. But political power is alluring, even saintly figures can not abdicate it howsoever troubling it is or even their ability is questionable.

The honeymoon of 9% growth was under threat when the global economy plunged into crisis in 2008-09, but politicians and bureaucrats took refuge under the ‘decoupling’ theory without making structural changes to the economy. Even to think India was decoupled while opening up economy more and more was shortsighted.

Post USSR collapse and end of cold war, India got opportunity to mend its relations with many developed countries in both east and west thanks to its growing economy. If India had continued to grow at the ‘Hindu rate of growth’  it would have lived under the mercy of developed countries even now. This is because there was no USSR for its rescue anymore. Precisely because of its shedding of Nehruvian political, economic and foreign policy idealism, India managed to win more friends.

It is evident from the fact that USA traveled extra mile to help India get nuclear deal – so-called end to nuclear apartheid. This happened thanks to the realization of India’s importance in regional stability, and also for American business.

The benefit of strong growth is that neither Russia, nor USA, or even China want to antagonize India.

This leverage may be under threat now. Poor governance is not only making economy sick which fosters unemployment, inequality, inflation, low-income – but is also affecting India’s image globally.

Democracy is an asset, not a liability. In spite of having strong democracy India is failing to realize its potential thanks to myopic thinking of our leaders.

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Book Review – ‘Turning Points’ – A Journey Through Challenges

                                                      (Rs 139/-)

Other books by Kalam: Target 3 Billion  

                                       Wings Of Fire

Indian National Congress supported A P J Abdul Kalam for presidency in 2002, but it chose not to in 2007 for his reelection and again in 2012 when Mamatha Bannerjee and Mulayam Singh surreptitiously announced his name for the same post in a surprising move.

Abdul Kalam showed interest in becoming the President of India again, but later withdrew from the race when it became clear that he did not have numbers. His image remained intact thanks to quick realization of politics behind announcing his name from nowhere by opportunistic political parties.

In his latest book, “Turning Points – A Journey Through Challenges“, Kalam gives us insight about why he chose to become the President of India in 2002, and the same motivation might have crept in his mind in 2012 for his initial inclination for running for the post again.

The reason he chose to say yes when Vajpayee asked him to become President was to realize his ‘India 2020′ dream by putting forward his vision before the nation and the Parliament. Vision 2020 – that grand vision for India to make it a developed nation by 2020 – is what Kalam breathes, and tries to inspire youth to strive towards achieving this goal.

Unfortunately, in this sequel to his earlier book ‘Wings Of Fire‘ which covered his life till 1992, there is a heavy dose of ‘India 2020 vision’ but less of personal anecdotes. Because it is said to be his ‘autobiography’ one would certainly have high expectations about life of this great personality who had the opportunity to participate and witness some of the momentous events in India in recent times.

From 1992 to 2012 Kalam served nation in various capacities – he was adviser to defence minister, head of some of defence research institutes, national scientific adviser to the Prime Minister, and then the President of India – during which he witnessed India grow from strength to strength from 1992 ignominy of begging IMF to becoming the one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Surely, he had more interesting stories to share from his personal point of view, but he consciously chooses to avoid sharing such events in this book. He also reveals that he declined to be a cabinet minister in Vajpayee’s government in 1998 – which makes it clear that he had unparalleled access to important government functionaries at the time.

He was still a scientist at that time, and it is rare for Prime Ministers to ask someone outside from politics to become part of government.

Instead ‘Turning Points’ is a more of a blueprint for making India a developed country by suggesting measures to make Judiciary, Parliament, and Executive more efficient in their functioning, and quite annoyingly all suggestions are in ‘points’ like in textbooks.

For example, there are: ‘ten’ pillars of development; ‘five’ causes of delay in delivering justice by courts and ‘nine’ suggestions to make them efficient; ‘four’ points on meaning of development of villages; and some ‘seventeen’ points for making our Parliament ‘functional’.

Kalam is basically a teacher, a patriot and a humble human being. This is reflected copiously in his book. The book reads like a lecture and avoids use of ‘I’ wherever it is possible.

This is its handicap. We miss out ‘autobiography’ of Kalam, and instead read about his vision for India and what measures he took during his presidency to realize some of them –  which is already in public domain in the form of numerous lectures and also there is a dedicated website for it.

When the news was out that Kalam had written his ‘second’ autobiography, the media, both print and electronic mainly focused on two revelations: one, about Rashtrapati Bhavan inviting Sonia Gandhi to form government in 2004 in spite of opposition from many quarters; and second, about  his offer of resignation when Supreme court held dissolution of Bihar assembly unconstitutional which he had signed from Moscow.

Also some media covered his withholding of his assent to ‘office of profit ‘ bill which was controversial. It is interesting to note that these events took place during UPA-I rule.

Kalam hopes that his book would be inspirational to its readers. But, the book would have been inspirational if it had revealed more about his life rather than his vision which is already known to those who have read his earlier books. To illustrate how he tries to make his point about use of technology(one of pillars of development) in speeding up decisions, he talks about dissolution of Bihar assembly in 2005 which he did from Moscow at the insistence of PM Dr Singh,  through an e-mail!

Though the decision was controversial and which led him to offer his resignation after Supreme Court’s ruling, and which ensued an emotional pleading by Dr Singh to save his government by taking back his decision to offer resignation, Kalam ends the episode by saying these words:

Very few people in the country are using e-governance, which I consider a tool for a borderless world. It is a facility I use liberally in India and abroad….” !

He calls Indira Gandhi ‘great stateswoman’; Dr Singh, ‘architect of economic reforms’ with an ‘impeccable image’ and in this way tries to be nice to every political leader he has met in his life.

His humility is evident throughout the book and he has made every effort to avoid any controversy that might arise from any revelations.

It is strange coincidence that the book was timed at the time of 2012 presidential elections for which his name was also dragged. For those who expect interesting anecdotes on Indian polity or even from Kalam’s own life, the book is a disappointment.

There are few occasions where he narrates stories about his father and brother, but in the end he shares moral lessons he learnt from those incidents – like in Panchtantra. But all the stories are incomplete.

‘Turning Points’ dwells less on turning points, but more on other ‘points’. Nonetheless, book is simple and ‘inspirational’ for those who have not read his earlier works.

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Western Ghats: Challenges of Sustainable Development

(From PIB)

Manish Desai*

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed the Western Ghats of India as a world heritage site on July 1. The tag came at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in St Petersburg in Russia. Altogether 39 sites that dot the Western Ghats landscape will be part of the region that has been designated as World Heritage Site. Kerala leads with 20 sites being inscribed in the heritage list followed by Karnataka with ten, Tamil Nadu five and Maharashtra four.

Western Ghats – Thematic Map

List of Western Ghats World Heritage clusters in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and TN

 

  MAHARASHTRA
Kaas PlateauKoyna Wildlife SanctuaryChandoli National Park
Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary
KARNATAKA
Brahmagiri Wildlife SanctuaryTalacauvery Wildlife SanctuaryPadinalknad Reserved Forest
Kerti Reserved ForestAralam Wildlife SanctuaryKudremukh National Park
Someshwara Wildlife SanctuarySomeshwara Reserved ForestAgumbe Reserved Forest
Balahalli Reserved Forest
KERALA – TAMILNADU
Kalakad- Tiger Reserve,Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary,Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary,
Peppara Wildlife SanctuaryKulathupuzha Range,Palode Range
Periyar Tiger ReserveRanni Forest DivisionKonni Forest Division
Achankovil Forest DivisionSrivilliputtur WildlifeTirunelveli North Forest Division
Eravikulam National ParkGrass Hills National ParkKarian Shola National Park
Parambikulam Wildlife

Sanctuary,Mankulam Range,Chinnar Wildlife SanctuaryMannavan SholaSilent Valley National ParkNew Amarambalam Reserve ForestMukurti National ParkKalikavu RangeAttapadi Reserved ForestPushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary

While environmentalists are rejoicing that constant international scrutiny will curb amassment of forest wealth by vested interests, the state governments have given a guarded reaction. Skeptics are of the view that the tag will make little difference to manyecologicaly destructive projects that have been implemented or are proposed in the Western Ghats.

Recognition Comes After Rejection

The world heritage tag for the Western Ghats has come after many glitches. The proposal for including 39 sites in the Western Ghats as world heritage was rejected by the World Heritage Committee in its 35th meeting last year. When the proposal for it was re-submitted for consideration this year, it was once again on the verge of getting rejected.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) suggested that India should review and refine the proposal to redefine the boundaries of the proposed sites to maintain the contiguity of the forests. The Indian delegation in St Petersburg, however, managed to convince the world heritage committee on the merits of India’s proposal and also discussed the issue with 21 members of the committee. The intense lobbying paid off, as the Russian delegation moved a proposal which was backed by several Asian and African nations.

Importance of Western Ghats

Older than the Himalayas, the Western Ghats are the treasure trove of bio-diversity. In fact they are recognized as one of the 8 global hot-spots harbouring a wealth of flora, fauna. The Western Ghats which begin at the Dangs in Gujarat, run through the western parts of Maharashtra, the tiny state of Goa, the Malnad region of Karnataka and the highlands of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, before ending near Kanyakumari.

The Ghats are currently known to have more than 5,000 plant and 140 mammal species, 16 of which are endemic, i.e. species found in that area alone. Notably among these being the lion-tailed macaque and the Nilgiri tahr. Out of 179 species of amphibians found in the Western Ghats, 138 are endemic to the region.  It has 508 bird species, 16 of which are endemic, including the Nilgiri flycatcher and the Malabar parakeet.

The Western Ghats are considered ecologically sensitive region with nearly 52 species moving one step closer to extinction. Habitat change, over-exploitation, pollution and climate change are the principal pressures causing bio-diversity loss.

The need to protect the ecology of the Western Ghats can hardly be over-emphasized.

The UNESCO Mandate

The UNESCO has noted with appreciation India’s ongoing commitment to conserving high bio-diversity values of the Western Ghats, but has clearly underlined that more needs to be done. The World Heritage Committee has suggested to the Indian Government to take into account the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel. It has also asked the government to strengthen buffer zones to provide increased protection within the nominated sites. The UN body also wants to promote participatory governance approaches through community participation to ensure equitable sharing of benefits. The panel has said that no industrial activity should be allowed without the consent of the locals.

The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, was constituted by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in February 2010 under the chairmanship of noted environmental expert Prof. Madhav Gadgil. The panel has identified several eco-sensitive zones in the region and recommended that they should be declared no-go areas. Among its recommendations, the panel has also called for scrapping of Karnataka’s Gundia and Kerala’s Athirapally hydro-projects, and gradual phasing out of mining activities in ecologically highly-sensitive areas of Goa by 2016.  It has also suggested setting up of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA), as a statutory authority appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, with the powers under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.  The 24-member body is to have ecologists, scientists, representatives of civil society, as well as tribal groups, officials from the Union Environment Ministry, Planning Commission, National Biodiversity Authority, Central Pollution Control Board, and representatives of the state government as its members.

Both the Karnataka and Kerala state governments have been opposed to the recommendation to scrap the hydro projects in their respective regions. The Karnataka Government had also been opposing the World Heritage tag citing regulatory hurdles in the development of places falling under these regions. Goa’s lackadaisical attitude in conserving the Western Ghats has resulted in the state not getting any site in the list of 39.  Maharashtra Government has welcomed the World Heritage Status to Western Ghats, but that is unlikely to change the state’s present stance of not imposing a complete ban on mining and industries, except in the core areas. The state, nevertheless is encouraging green fuel movement in the villages of Western Ghats by way of up to 75% subsidy on biogas and 50% subsidy on shift to low yielding cattle, which rely on domestic fodder instead of open grazing.

Impact of UNESCO World Heritage Site

The World Heritage status could have implications on development in and around these sites as UNESCO prescribes creation of additional buffer zones around the natural world heritage sites and putting in place an overarching management authority for conservation of the selected 39 serial sites.  Conservationists also fear a mad-rush to these sensitive areas in the guise of eco-tourism. “This might trigger commercial activities in the Western Ghats, followed by construction activities like building roads, structures, power lines and other infrastructure, which will defeat the purpose of protecting the green cover and habitat protection,” says an activist associated with the Kudremukh Wildlife Foundation in Karnataka.

The Western Ghats expert Dr. Madhav Gadgil has welcomed the UNESCO gesture and said “It will hopefully strengthen the Acts like Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which empowers the local bodies like panchayats to take appropriate steps for conservation.”  The participation of locals is going to be crucial in determining the success of conservation efforts and promising sustainable development.

All along the Western Ghats in five states, there are lakhs of tribal people who have made their homes in the ghats. The Thodas of Nilgiris, Soligas of BR Hills,Malekudiyas of Belthangady, Halakki Vokkals of Uttara Kannada, the Sidhis of Kumta,Paniyas of Waynad, Kattunayakans of Malabar and many others in Goa and Maharashtra are some of them. The Perspective Plan for Protection of Biodiversity 2001-16 states that “tribal communities are part of the biodiversity and the state governments should not take them out of their natural surroundings, but empower them democratically and let the government facilities go to them.”

The ground situation for people’s participation in development is conducive in most parts of the Western Ghats. The region has some of the highest levels of literacy in the country, and a high level of environmental awareness. The democratic institutions are well entrenched, and Kerala leads the country in capacity building and empowering ofPanchayat Raj Institutions. Goa has recently concluded a very interesting exercise, Regional Plan 2021, of taking inputs from Gram Sabhas in deciding on the land use policies. Evidently, Western Ghats are an appropriate region of the country to attempt to make the transition towards an inclusive, caring and environment friendly mode of development.

*****

*Director (Media), Press Information Bureau, Mumbai.

SOURCE-  (PIB Features.)

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THE PROVISIONS OF THE PANCHAYATS (EXTENSION TO THE SCHEDULED AREAS) ACT, 1996

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PESA,1996
THE PROVISIONS OF THE PANCHAYATS (EXTENSION TO THE
SCHEDULED AREAS) ACT, 1996

(24th December, 1996)
An Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution  relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas.

Be it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-seventh Year of the Republic of India as  follows:-

Short title
1. This Act may be called the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the
Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996

Definition

2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, “Scheduled Areas” means
the Scheduled  Areas as referred to in Clause (1) of Article 244 of the Constitution.

Extension of part IX of The Constitution

3. The provision of Part IX of the Constitution relating to Panchayats are hereby  extended to the Scheduled Areas subject to such exceptions and modifications as are  provided in section 4.

Exceptions and modifications to part IX of The Constitution

4. Notwithstanding anything contained under Part IX of the Constitution, the
Legislature of a State shall not make any law under that Part which is inconsistent with  any of the following features, namely:-

(a) a State legislation on the Panchayats that may be made shall be in consonance with  the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of  community resources;

(b) a village shall ordinarily consist of a habitation or a group of habitations or a hamlet  or a group of hamlets comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs;

(c) every village shall have a Gram Sabha consisting of persons whose names are  included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level;

(d) every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions and  customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution;

(e) every Gram Sabha shall-

i. approve of the plans, programmes and projects for social and
economic development before such plans, programmes and projects are taken up for  implementation by the Panchayat at the village level;

ii. be responsible for the identification or selection of persons as
beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes;

(f) every Panchayat at the village level shall be required to obtain from the Gram  Sabha a certification of utilisation of funds by that Panchayat for the plans, programmes  and projects referred to in clause(e);

(g) the reservation of seats in the Scheduled Areas at every Panchayat shall be in proportion to the population of the communities in that Panchayat for whom reservation is sought to be given under Part IX of the Constitution;
Provided that the reservation for the Scheduled Tribes shall not be less than one-half of the total number of seats; Provided further that all seats of Chairpersons of Panchayats at all levels shall be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes;

(h) the State Government may nominate persons belonging to such Scheduled Tribes as have no representation in the Panchayat at the intermediate level or the Panchayat at the district level: Provided that such nomination shall not exceed one-tenth of the total members to be elected in that Panchayat;

(i) the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas for development projects and before re-setling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State level;

(j) planning and management of minor water bodies in the Scheduled Areas shall be entrusted to Panchayats at the appropriate level;

(k) the recommendations of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory prior to grant of prospecting licence or mining lease for minor minerals in the Scheduled Areas;

(l) the prior recommendation of the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be made mandatory for grant of concession for the exploitation of minor minerals by auction;

(m) while endowing Panchayats in the Scheduled Areas with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government, a State Legislature shall ensure that the Panchayats at the appropriate level and the Gram Sabha are endowed specifically with-

(i) the power to enforce prohibition or to regulate or restrict the sale
and consumption of any intoxicant;

(ii) the ownership of minor forest produce;

(iii) the power to prevent alienation of land in the Scheduled Areas
and to take appropriate action to restore any unlawfully alienated land of a Scheduled Tribe;

(iv) the power to manage village markets by whatever name called;

(v) the power to exercise control over money lending to the
Scheduled Tribes;

(vi) thepower to exercise control over institutions and functionaries in
all social sectors;

(vii) the power to control over local plans and resources for such
plans including tribal sub-plans;

(n) the State Legislations that may endow Panchayats with powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government shall contain safeguards to ensure that Panchayats at the higher level do not assume the powers and authority of any Panchayat at the lower level or of the Gram Sabha;

(o) the State Legislature shall endeavour to follow the pattern of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution while designing the administrative arrangements in the Panchayats at district levels in the Scheduled Areas. Continuance of existing laws on panchayats:

5. Notwithstanding anything in Part IX of the Constitution with exceptions and
modifications made by this Act, any provision of any law relating to Panchayats in force in the Scheduled Areas, immediately before the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President, which is inconsistent with the provisions of Part IX with such exceptions and modifications shall continue to be in force until amended or repealed by a competent Legislature or other competent authority or until the expiration of one year from the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President;

Provided that all the Panchayats existing immediately before such date shall continue till the expiration of their duration unless sooner dissolved by a resolution passed to that effect by the Legislative Assembly of that State or, in the case of a State having Legislative Council, by each House of the Legislature of that State.

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Who Should Intervene In Syria?

Niall Ferguson, financial and economic historian of world repute in an article proposes that -it is not ‘who?’, but  Hu should intervene – in Syria to stop humanitarian crisis in that country.

Hu Jintao is the paramount leader of China.

By suggesting, that not USA but China who should be intervening in Syria to oust Assad and quell civil war, Niall Ferguson has gone a step further in overestimating China’s economic rise.

According to him USA should not intervene in Syria for three reasons: first, it has found enough shale reserves to reduce its dependence on oil from Middle East; second, USA has cut its defence expenditure and it makes little sense for it to wage another war and balloon its expenditure in times of economic crisis; third, people in middle east hate USA even after it has freed them from tyrants like Saddam Hussain and Gaddafi (He thinks it was a favor by USA!)

These reasons plainly accept that USA went to war – mainly for oil.

Fergusson wants China to intervene because now it is the supreme economic power which uses 60% of its oil from the region without contributing to the region’s stability. He calls it a supreme free rider.

His argument is that if you are using the region’s resources, you should also shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the region’s peace.

Did USA bring peace to the region in its hegemonic quest that ravaged the region with frequent wars?

His article does not call for military intervention by China, but it implies the same when he suggests that world is ready for China’s role in maintaining world’s ‘security’.

The question is not who should intervene in Syria, but should anyone intervene at all?

Syria, eventhough led by a dictator and under whom it has plunged into a state of civil war, there is no justification for any other country to militarily intervene in the internal matters of a sovereign country. There are reasons to believe that unrest in Syria might have been fueled by Western powers i.e. tacitly by NATO.

Even if China is ready to intervene in Syria, it will only make matters worse for the rising superpower which wants the world to recognize it as a soft and responsible power. China is surrounded by a host of hostile neighbors thanks to its assertiveness in the region.

If it gets involved seriously in Syria’s affairs, the Western powers will only get wary of its intentions in the region and beyond. China will make more enemies than friends globally.

Though Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states who represent majority Sunni muslims in the region and produce world’s most of the oil wants Assad to go, they can not afford to give chance to another foreign country to assert its influence in the region.

GCC is wary of rising clout of Iran, a Shia majority country which is also a friend of Syria, which is led by a Shia minority. For western countries ousting Assad is beneficial in isolating Iran in the region and punish it for its nuclear adventurism.

China is not Iran’s bête noire.  It has good working relationship with Iran and would like to keep it in good humor for it is gateway to central Asia where China’s real long term interests lay.

By arguing that China or any other country should take the responsibility in interfering in the Middle East to solve its problems is irresponsible  and lacks logic.

Instead, UN should be given prominent role in resolving the crisis, at the same time both Russia and Western powers should stop arming both government and opposition troops respectively.

Geopolitics should be guided by the motive of providing peace to the region, not economic exploitation.

In reality, hegemony by any country fails to establish peace,  instead gives rise to discordance and unrest as is evident in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.

Any military intervention will wreck havoc in the financial markets of the world as it may lead to  limited oil supplies and enrage Iran into action further exasperating the matter.

A peaceful solution, howsoever slow it is, is desirable at the moment. A democratic transition of the type happened in Egypt will be good for Syria. Any change will bring Sunnis into prominence, with it Islamist forces to the fore. But the world should learn to accept and respect diversity in political and religious ideologies to have a peaceful coexistence.

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Tackling Left Wing Extremism (Naxalism) – Recent Measures Taken By Union and State Governments

In Prime Minister’s words, Naxalism is the biggest internal security threat being faced by India. He is not wrong. Naxals have killed more security personnel and civilians than victims claimed by terrorists and other extremists in North East India put together.

Government has adopted both violent and peaceful strategies to tackle threat posed by naxals. But lately it seems government is keener to follow peaceful strategy of development as a tool to dissuade potent recruits from joining armed struggle in naxal hit areas.

Naxal Affected Districts

Instead of carrot and stick policy, it appears that more of carrots have been offered lately by the government. But this will not lessen the stain on its hands – security personnel have committed human rights violations in these areas in the past, and this one of the reasons why there is resentment among locals that makes it easy for naxals to recruit men and women to wage armed struggle against the state.

In a meeting conducted by home ministry, officials have been warned to adopt a fair play while dealing with naxals.

As put by TOI:

The meeting also directed the states and paramilitary forces to take all possible steps to ensure protection of human rights of every individual, while carrying out anti-Maoist operations and countering negative propaganda of the naxals.

The home ministry also asked the states to conduct a thorough probe into allegations of abuse of power by security forces and follow standard operating procedure while dealing with naxals. The states and the Centre are also firming up their policy to counter the negative propaganda of the naxals as they have been trying to garner support among the middle class by raising the issue of human rights.”

Both home ministry and rural development ministry have evolved a sensible approach in past two years to deal with naxalism effectively. Earlier, home ministry was under fire from rights activists and civil society for waging all out war against naxals named ‘operation green hunt’.

Development is the only approach that can eliminate any discontent in the long term. Areas affected by naxalism are some of the most backward regions of India. Take for example KBK region of Orissa and Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, latter region is where top leaders of naxal movement come from.

It was because of lack of basic infrastructure and poor governance which made life miserable for tribals and other poor residing in these regions that this movement grew in monster proportion. Harassment by moneylenders, human rights violations by local police and siphoning off the money intended for local area development by the politicians and officials that made matters worse.

National and state highways through these regions for better connectivity of inaccessible areas for movement of people to access services like healthcare and markets; establishment of schools, anganawadis and primary health centres in these remote areas; supply of electricity to these remote area; efficient PDS for all inhabitants; importantly, implementation of MGNREGA, NRLM; strengthening panchayats, forest committees and bringing land reforms – are some of the measure that needed urgent effective implementation to stop the spread of naxalism. Finally, government has put some mechanism in place for carrying out these measures.

Integrated Action Plan

The Government approved an Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for 60 Selected Tribal and Backward Districts on 25th November, 2010 and Rs. 1500 crore was released under the Scheme in December, 2010.

The IAP has been approved by the Government with a block grant of Rs. 25 crore and Rs. 30 crore per district during 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively for which the funds are to be placed at the disposal of the Committee headed by the District Collector and consisting of the Superintendent of Police of the District and the District Forest Officer.

Districts Covered Under Integrated Action Plan

The Development Commissioner/equivalent officer in charge of development in the State is responsible for scrutiny of expenditure and monitoring of the IAP. Macro-level monitoring of the IAP is to be carried out by the Committee headed by the Member-Secretary, Planning Commission. Also, the audit of the accounts will be done by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

Home ministry has asked government to include 18 more districts and extend this scheme for 12th plan period also. It is said that planning commission wanted to stop further funding the scheme, but at the insistence of rural development ministry it has been continued.

This scheme does not replace KBK plan (Kalahand-Bolangir-Koraput) presently implemented in 8 district of Orissa with an annual allocation of Rs 130 crores. The IAP would also focus on effective implementation of the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

KBK Districts

Jobs Galore                                                           

To attract youth in naxal affected areas, government announced that it would employ large number of youth from these regions in government jobs.

According to The Hindu:

Apart from ensuring the immediate appointment of 18,000 panchayat development officers and as many junior engineers, the Centre has drawn up a blueprint to provide jobs to three-lakh youth in the 60 left wing extremist affected districts in the country.

For better implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), Mr. Ramesh has ordered that each panchayat appoint one panchayat development officer and a junior engineer for a period of 10 years from within the district. Non-residents would not be considered for these posts.

All these districts would be covered under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) by March 2013 with the objective of training and providing jobs to three lakh youths over the next five years.

Potable Water and Good Roads

According to The Hindu:

“To ensure availability of potable water, Mr. Jairm Ramesh has earmarked 10 per cent of the Ministry’s annual budget under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) which amounts to Rs.935 crore for these 60 districts. The States would have to bear 15 per cent of the project cost with the Centre footing the rest.

He has also increased the provision under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme from Rs.12,000 per hectare to Rs.15,000 per hectare and approved construction of cement concrete roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana doing away the compulsion of blacktop roads.

The cost of construction of such roads is at least 50 per cent more and the Centre will bear 90 per cent of it. “

Positive Change

In January this year, CM of MP said that IAP has brought positive changes in the naxal affected areas. This is a welcome development, and heartening to hear this from BJP ruled state when funds are coming from Congress ruled centre.

At the same time, CM of MP asked centre to include some even districts of MP in the Security Related Expenditure Scheme. This scheme was introduced in 1999 to fund states for their anti naxal programs such as compensation amount to victims, rehabilitation package to surrendered naxals, cost of training given to state police etc. Presently this scheme is in place in 83 districts of 9 states.

One should remember PM Manmohan Singh’s words when it comes to implementation of such schemes meant for poor people. It is in the implementation that time and again governments have failed. He had said:

“……..to be persuasive we must be believable, to be believable we must be credible, to be credible we must be truthful. As administrators we must have zero tolerance towards corruption. Development programmes have to be delivered with complete honesty,”

Conclusion

Naxalism is an internal security matter and is not just a law and order problem also – it has grown into a big headache for both people and government. But its roots lie in deep discontent that apathy of government bred towards poor tribes of these regions. Only through addressing those problems it is possible to stop the further spread of left wing extremism. Whenever naxals indulge in violence, and obstruct development works being implemented, government must deal with sternly but as home ministry warned officials, without violating standard operation methods.

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