Thursday, September 27, 2012

Adhikaro ka Beja Istemaal

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Extracts of an article published in Hindi Daily “Dainik Jagran” dated 13 Sep. 2012. An unknown person (cartoonist) who was “Zero” suddenly became a Hero due to wrong and unwarranted reactions, which should have been totally ignored. Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd)

Back In Great Form

The PM’s bold measures to revive the economy could herald his finest house in office

One answer to the question should come with the way the government has dealt with Mamata Banerjee’s ultimatum. If it continues to remain firm as it has in its dealings with her, it will signal the strength of its resolve to risk its survival in office to uphold the national interest.

Even more significantly, the BJP, which championed reforms when it was in power but has now become the pied-piper of a no-holds-barred populism, will find it hard to sustain its fierce opposition to the government.

He took that risk when, in the face of stiff opposition from the CPM, he pushed through the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal the CPM that had to eat crow.
For a prime minister who is cautious to a fault, such risk taking must surely be rooted in hard-headed calculations.

Armed with the backing of his cabinet and that of his party’s leadership, the prime minister made bold to take the steps he has taken. That such boldness wasn’t expected of Singh shows the extent to which analysts have underestimated his ability and willingness to rise to the occasion.

Each one of the measures announced over the past few days is thus a pointer to a dramatic change in the prime minister’s approach to governance.

Don’t Cave In
Mamata’s exit is the UPA’s opportunity to uphold a politics of conviction

The purpose of acquiring power is to govern. If coalition compulsions make governance impossible, exercise of power becomes an empty shell. Thanks to Mamata Banerjee, the UPA at the Centre put a moratorium on policymaking. She hobbled virtually everything it tried to pursue: reforms, land acquisition revamp or boosted strategic ties with key neighbors like Bangladesh. Now that UPA-II has shaken off policy paralysis, she’s walked out. Clearly, her backing for the government depends on its kissing reforms goodbye. For the UPA, that’s an unaffordable trade-off.

Extracts of an article by Dileep Padgaonkar
The Times of India, New Delhi
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cheap Chinese imports can be good for us

Cheap Chinese imports can be good for us
Only in India do opposition parties want to protect the aam bania against the aam admi. The worst argument against foreign retailers is that they will flood India with cheap Chinese goods, squeezing domestic producers and causing mass unemployment. The existing Wal-Mart-Bharti retail chain imports only 3% of its goods, sourcing 97% indigenously.

So, the arrival of foreign retailers will not produce a massive import surge of cheap goods. But even if did, would that be a tragedy? Not at all.

Many Indian politicians believe that self-sufficiency is the Holy Grail, and all imports are bad. In fact, India’s economic success since 1991 has been spurred by steadily reducing the standard import duty from 300% to 10%. Has this made imported goods cheaper? Of course. Has it decimated Indian industry? Absolutely not. Has  it let to slower economic growth or failing wages? On the contrary, it has led to record economic and wage growth.

In the import substitution era, computers cost three times the world price. This held back software and BPO development. India’s software and BPO exports accelerated only when computer costs came down, thanks to new technology and lower duties.

Critics have another argument: why allow Wal-Mart and Carrefour to come in when Indian companies can do just as well? Why allow foreign investment that will crows out Indian business and make profits at the expense of Indian consumers? For an answer, look at the auto industry. Till 1991, it was dominated by indigenous Ambassador and Premier Cars. These have been replaced by a cavalcade of new brands, some Indian but mostly international. Yet it would be moronic to mourn for the heyday of the Ambassador and Premier as a golden era when foreigners were kept out and all profits were retained in India. On the contrary, It was a veritable kalyug.

Extracts of an article by Ankleshwar Iyer, TOI, 23 Sept. 2012
No trick, FDI is a treat

The government has pushed through some long-overdue reforms in the last fortnight. These include allowing higher FDI equity in multi-brand retail and aviation. FDI creates extreme reactions in the country, and it might as well stand for’ Forever Debating Indians’.
Anyhow, it’s a good decision, if not monumental or heroic. Having a global mindset is beneficial for the country. We have seen the benefits of the 1991 reforms. The cell phones we carry, TV channels we watch, vehicles we drive, the appliances we use-are all a result of the liberalization that were initiated two decades ago.

For apart from the praise, there was backlash too. The BJP denounced the new policies presumably to please the trader community that supports it. The Trinamool congress is screaming hoarse about the anti-people nature of such reforms. Mamata Banerjee is hoping to target the poor who have not benefited much from the reforms.

China, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines are just a few examples of emerging economies that have allowed multi-brand retail and have had no major upheavals or large-scale unemployment.

Can we not have some ground rules when looking at reforms? Can the government, the allies and the opposition have just this one area of consensus-the country must bring in economic reforms if we want to create wealth. Can we accept that reforms do ultimately benefit people?

So if we have to debate forever, let us at least do it on the right issues: FDI Wal-Mart, welcome to India!

Extracts of an article by Chetan Bhagat, Sunday Times of India, New Delhi September 23, 2012

Playing to the Gallery

Mamata Banerjee is yet to make the transition from a combative politician to a diligent administration. But such is the political vacuum in Bengal that she may end up as the winner

Your finance minister Amit Mitra who as Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) secretary general was a strident votary of market economics, has now done a spectacular U-turn when he cautions against FDI in retail. In an interview, he told me that his shift was occasioned by the poverty he saw in his constituency. But how exactly would the setting up of retail chains affect the poor, or is there a vested interest in keeping the poor in a state of permanent deprivation?

There is where the politics of the Trinamool conflicts with the economics of Ficci boardrooms. Our chambers of commerce unapologetically lobby for FDI because it serves their self-interest. You champion the anti-FDI cause because you believe that the idea of foreign capital overwhelming the countryside will strike fear in the minds and hearts of your voters. You prey on the insecurities of your constituency, they appeal to the interests of their corporate citizens.

Unfortunately, instead of looking to manage and resolve the conflicts of a reformist agenda, you seem to relish the idea of permanent confrontation. Maybe, the antagonisms serve to mask the serious crisis of governance confronting you in Bengal.

Poriborton’ in 2011 was ultimately not just about ridding Bengal of the Marxists but also offering an alternative vision of governance. Maybe, you misread the massive mandate or maybe it was too much to expect an overnight transition from a combative politician to a diligent administrator.

Extracts of an article by Rajdeep Sardesai is editor-in chief, IBN 18 network Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Friday 21 September 2012

Many analysts, including the industry people and even selective BJP leader (Khandari & Arun Shourie) have spoken favorably, Just the hard core politicians are coming out critically to save their political constituencies. (Say the Vote Bank) Arent such people misguiding the innocent Indians?.

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