De-Lurking on the Net

June 19, 2015

Greece Induced Euro Meltdown reaching to its climax

Filed under: Currencies,Europe,Finance,World — Geekay @ 1:18 am
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The turmoil in Greece due to its inability of committing to austerity pledges as proposed by Brussels & IMF etc. makes one imagine of the day when this turmoil will end. It makes one compare the situation of the country with a company who becomes bankrupt. US companies, who owes others and unable to service their debts, gets protection under chapter 11 keeping its lenders etc from dissolving the company and meanwhile some more funds are arranged by the company from some others source to carry on running. Ford and Gen Motors came out stronger after this situation when it got rescue funds from US govt itself. Not every company is salvageable. So, willy-nilly one cannot fund any amount of loans to such a sinking company. Chapter 7 deals with protection to creditors when a company‘s assets are sold and given to creditors first before returning the rest to owner of company. Important issue is to identify in the sinking company if the salvage plan is any good. It usually rests on selling the currently produced items with the better design and better competitive price or sales with some incentives. Now, in the case of Greece, clearly Greek people want to pay the same pensions or other benefits as before. So the costs for the govt will stay the same and current account deficit will stay just the same. How can the solution lie in sticking to austerity without building some additional revenue generating capacity in Greece. So, if the Greece not only gets funds to service its loans but also additional money to build such a capacity then there may be a ray of hope. The productivity cost in Greece should now be comparable to the best in Europe. The ideas could be to produce new items in Export promotion Tax Free Zone areas. The richer countries should not only commit to buy from such zones but also help in setting it up in the first place. It means the richer countries basically shifting their own industries to Greece.

So, to rescue the EU currency project, not only other member countries have to commit to extend new loans to service the debts of Greece but also shift some of their industrial base out of their own country to Greece.  One cannot see that happening.  The Europe’s centre is pretty weak. The member countries have no desire to help those sinking members unrestrained. The centre has no ability to impose its own taxes and build reserves. Currently EU raises money from member countries’ VAT receipts(0.3%), its gross national income (usually around 0.7%) and export duties it collects on non-EU  products imported. So, if EU parliament cannot decide tomorrow to levy a new tax to build emergency rescue funds for countries in trouble and the individual country‘s largesse does not exist. So, why should Greece not be left to drift away. Of course, it will mean once untethered from Europe, it will seek saviours from where ever the cash pockets can be found in the world.  It could be in China, Russia, Gulf Countries etc.

It gives a lesson to those blocks or groups (like ASEAN, NAFTA, MERCOSUR, SAARC, BRICKS etc) who want to follow EU trading block example to build tighter integrated block. Any block should never attempt the currency union without building a strong centre. No matter how effective the intra trade within the block may be. For a currency union to succeed depends on giving up power from the member countries to raise the tax for the whole group. Merely imposing an austerity formula cannot keep the currency union safe. But if an austerity formula is devised, then countries should be allowed to join and leave at will. A mechanism should be built to entangle and disentangle. Perhaps, writing off debt to creditors after a forced ejection may mean losing the capacity to raise any money at all unless a saviour country outside EU can be found.

A picture of Greece debt (in billion Euros)

GreeceDebt

A wilderness for years like Argentina  following its second default in 2014 in last 14 years awaits Greece, if it doesn’t agree to those willing to bail it out on their terms. On the other hand, will EU risk Greece to move into the arms of unsavoury company of countries? An example of Zimbabwe could be followed where it has now adapted the stable global currencies in place of its own currency. After leaving Euro project, Greece will be free to default on its debt. It can still use Euro and does not have to stick to austerity plans imposed by IMF, Brussels. It can stabilise and build its reserves, economy gradually. Of course, being outside the EU project means it  will probably not able to trade with EU any more but perhaps EU may allow some trade on some conditions.

February 16, 2015

Should wider world continue surrendering to religion whether radical or otherwise ?

Filed under: Faith,Science,World — Geekay @ 1:54 pm
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Today, we learnt Coptic Church adherents of Egypt have been beheaded in Libya by ISIS. The middle east is turning rest of the world into an unstable world where not only outside faith people(Kuffars) are getting beheaded, raped, butchered but also many of those who live in the Islamic lands itself.   Current strategy seems to be nudging some of these countries towards banning the funding and declare them terrorists groups and sporadic bombing.

sisi&CopticChurchMan

The fight against radical Islam remains in abeyance. One of the problem is the differing policies of  most countries .  Starting with west – it does not declare openly the new war on  radicalism as it  does not want to define the contours of radicalism. It chooses to condemn in mild tones to some countries like India where it knows that criticism will not undermine the relations but otherwise takes the  conversation private with the respective country like Saudi etc. I do not think these private conversations will help in the long run. The west remains ill prepared to monitor the indoctrination level  by the Imams/Maulvis or teachers in school by framing a law. Anjem Chaudhri comes to mind. Not only the killer of Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo but the new guy, Brusthom Ziamani,  arrested on way to murder another army cadet had been inspired  by the Anjem’s thoughts along with Abu Hamza. The material on net also remains available. Perhaps, it remains available not only for the indoctrination of radical elements but also for helping the spy agencies to monitor the people who access this.  Countries like UK have allowed the independent Islamic education where integration and becoming patriot to the land one is living in is not the focus of  education but to make pupils more adherents to the faith just like followers in Mosque are drilled into doing something for saving their faith by invoking the supposed insult (against prophet or Islam) or crimes against the fellow Muslims. The victimhood card remains the hallmark even of the intellectuals of Islam.  So, when should non-Muslims feel alarmed? Should they worry  “When someone is expressing the feelings of  muslims being the victims or only when there are open declarations of hate against others. The linkages to incitement expressions is very hard to prove. Perhaps, that is why Anjem remains elusive to jail. So, degree of radicalism needs defining for conviction.

The Islamic countries till date have been open supporters of  not only allowing  the fundamentalists ideologies like Wahabism or Deobandies to flourish among their midst  but they also fund the followers of these ideologies. Taliban used to get funding from Saudi, USA, China. Saudi continue the funding of Madrassas in South Asia –India (Kashmir and other parts), Pakistan, Bangladesh. The funds for Jama’at-ud-Da’wah ‘s chief Hafiz  Saeed comes from Pakistan establishment  and also privately from people ‘s donations in Pakistan. This person was linked to Mumbai Carnage of 2008. Iran supports the Hizbollahs and Hamas besides the Syria, Iraq and the new group  in Yemen. The Muslim brotherhood also gets funding perhaps from Jordan even though it is on the receiving end in Egypt after Morsi’s (last President) ouster. Saudi remains averse  towards it. However, the Muslim brotherhood not only has controlled ministry of education in Jordan for last 17 years but has received  funds raised by charities in the name of Palestine. It is considered a terrorist group in one country like Egypt, Saudi, UAE, Baharain but not outlawed by others like Jordan, Qatar. It was feared that brotherhood has taken root  in many British campuses ( London University campuses), so in 2014 David Cameron had ordered a review of activities of Brotherhood.

                                            Following ‘Peshawar Massacre’ of school children, there was a lot of soul-searching going on in Pakistan. But some elements there are just too powerful. The media invites them all for discussions and they soon change the discourse of the nation. The fight against radical elements start slipping even before it begins.  Here is the list of 2012 in Pakistan of banned Islamic groups. The list has grown only since then but against most of them there are no actions as they continue to thrive among local and intellectual support on media. The prevaricating Jordan on fundamentalism has been bitten suddenly like Pakistan, by the burning of its pilot which has inflamed the Jordonians into taking some action. Saudi too wants to support the action against IS and so is the Turkey, Iraq and the west. This has not prevented IS to continue the game of killing the captured assets. The resoluteness against IS is one thing but when it comes to dealing with radicalism at home in each of these countries, every govt find themselves in conundrum. They want to deal but do not want to inflame the existing saner elements of Islam. There are very few liberal voices within the Islamic fold and they become target of bigots as soon as they present their views or their sane reasoning. The others outside the faith are not allowed to have any voice. They quickly get labelled as Islamophobes. In any case the Islam has to begin a reformation within itself but it can never do that. There is a fundamental problem. In Islam, Christianity and Judaism, there is a concept of  immutability meaning  God does not need to gain knowledge; he knows all things, eternally and immutably so an infinite and changing God is inconceivable . Now, if that is so, how can the Islam begin to accept the knowledge outside Islam in science or from other faiths. This is the crux that makes one tenet of Islam call itself holders of true Islam and other tenets as non-Islamic. No wonder there is such a big fight with Islam where Ahmedi, Shia etc are all considered non-muslims by Sunnis.  I am not sure, why it is not affecting the followers of  Judaism, Christianity. Perhaps, Judaism, Christianity allows dissenters within its fold and it allows more tolerance of those who refuses to listen and follow to the dictates of the orthodox Rabbi, father, priests, Pope etc.  Hinduism is all-embracing & accepting all. They have in their temples even photos of Jesus Christ, Budhdha, Guru Nanak(Sikh).

Religion should not be relevant today but it continues to thrive. If one were to look at the attributes of God in Chrisitianity, one of the attribute says God is omniscient means it has all the knowledge, perhaps similar to what Allah is considered to have. If you think about this, then you think first of all knowledge is changing and expanding all the time. So, when today not only we know the BigBang took place but we can simulate the universe at the time of BigBang i.e. 14 billion years ago. Here is the simulation of BigBang done after 6 months of  number crunching on a super computer. Perhaps, the God was not there at the time of BigBang.

BigBang

Because if God was there at time zero i.e. time of BigBang then it must have existed in some material form, gas, rock or liquid – perhaps it must have gone into some star, planet, dark hole or dark matter that holds galaxy together. If that was so, how could God move from that existence onto Planet earth or heaven where ever it is. Most likely, it should still be where it always was. Presumably like thoughts of  Plato, God has been similar to human form (based on Genesis 1:27) and only came to existence only after humans evolved. Earth is only 4.6 billion years old and earliest humans 55 million years old. Since human have finite shape and size so, God will also be like that only. It is physically impossible to be everywhere (omnipresent – another attribute of God). So, if there is finite size of brain, then it can not know everything. If it is physical in nature means of finite size than it can not be everywhere.  Let us assume it is present in every cell of living creature after all Hindus say it is present in “Kan Kan” means in every molecule. If that was so, perhaps it was present at time zero and will be at the infinite time when there will be no humanity on Earth. First of all our galaxy Milky way and its nearest galaxy Andromeda are heading towards collision in 4 billion years time.

Andromeda_Collides_Milky_Way

If it escapes that collision then we have Sun ready to engulf it in 7.6 billion years from now when Sun’s fuel runs out. Will the God disappear as earth or God ‘s abode heaven disappear? If that is true that means God has end too and it is perishable too.

BigBangUniverse

So, if God is in every molecule than it must be either in nucleus or in the orbits around nucleus . If it is in biological cell, then again it could be in nucleus (DNA) or the cell area outside nucleus. So, if it is present in nucleus, then it must be a part of DNA, RNA or who knows God may be just letter of  DNA or a gene expression. If it is outside nucleus, then it could be just an an atom, ion or molecule of protein, harmones, enzymes etc. But, since the cognizance in human brain takes place when we have memory and processing capacity of brain, so how will God do processing when it is merely a part of molecule, a whole molecule or combination of the molecules. The processing by brain requires communication between neurons(brain cells). So, if it knows everything then it has to be in brain cells alone and not in every cell or molecule as the religions claim and it can not be infinite as neurones will require continued supply of blood with oxygen means survival of neuron depends on the presence of a body. If it requires a body that means the existence of  God has to be finite as body is of finite size. So, it can not be infinite. It also means the God can not be  omnipresent if it is finite and  if it has limited faculties, then It can not be omniscient. It can also not be immutable, if knowledge keeps changing all the time. The fact is the God was created when people thought of miracles and there was no knowledge to understand the natural phenomenon like volcano eruption, earthquakes, famines and floods, diseases etc. Perhaps, it is time for people to move on from God  as most govts. are unable to chart out a course of  freeing the man from the clutches of Godman of whatever faith – radical or liberal .

December 16, 2014

Pakistan’s s Future could still be rosy after the latest mayhem

_79757855_pakistan_army_school_attack_624map

(courtesy Digital Globe: google Images)

So, soon after Malala got the Nobel Prize, this carnage today on a Pakistani Military School comes along, perhaps it is the biggest attack fatalities wise in Pakistan. Taliban seems to be the perpetrator. In spite of being poignant, I am looking again with the renewed vigour on Pakistan. There is this article from Shashi Tharoor on Pakistan and India relations, talks etc. Shashi Tharoor was the state foreign minister in last Indian govt. He came second to to Ban Ki Moon  of being head of the UN . He writes that it  is no policy for India not to engage with Pakistan in talks. I wonder what type of meaningless talks he advocates and with whom. All talks are meaningless as Pak Army has persisted with the same ideology of two nation theory and bleeding India to thousand cuts even after the appointment of its latest General, Mr Raheel Sharif. They do not want to give up controlling the Pak budget. It does not matter if it keeps the Pakistan sliding further into destitution. They are becoming good guys in the eyes of public at present though as TTP seems to have been suppressed or eliminated in spite of this one off carnage today. The attitude however on the path regarding capturing Kashmir or controlling Afghanistan has not changed one bit by Army. So, saving the terrorists or so-called Mujahid’s terror camps or their infiltration into Kashmir remains as before. Also, those Talibans were saved which may soon be operating in the  Afghanistan e.g. Haqqanis. The new Afghan govt is on the back foot at present as it can not afford to blame Pakistan straight away on daily unfolding bombs explosions.  It wants Pakistan to help in reconciliation with Talibans who have already started getting better results in the aftermath of withdrawal of NATO forces.

So, where do we stand ? The Afghan govt is definitely better equipped this time as against when USSR left Afghanistan in 1989. This time it has functional army with some tools handed over to them by US/NATO. But it is dependent on the handout from US etc and it has developed no self sustaining capacity financially. So, a sustained campaign by  Taliban reducing the govt capacity to fight back daily will make the Afghan Govt cede a sizeable controlling power  in Afghanistan soon to them. With that looming victory, the role of India and US in Afghanistan will soon be over and both of these powers have to reconcile to this fact. However, Mr Kerry is going to Pak to develop a good relationship of US with Pak. So, Pak army will be resurgent and confident in spite of occasional setbacks as today’s carnage. It has already started dictating to its civilian govt on India-Pak relations. So, in such a scenario, without doubt no brick can move in its  relationship with India either on trade or on other disputes irrespective of what civilian govt Pak may have? It is also not in India’s interests to pursue the repair of any relations with Pakistan when the army  remains in ascendance and largely in charge unless someone like Gen Musharraf comes again to the fore.

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(Courtesy AP – BBC)

This does not sound very optimistic but where does the future rests of Pakistani state. Well, it is entirely in the hands of Pak Army. If the army believe in the welfare of Pakistan and not just in the welfare of their own institution, then there is a solution.

In 1959, there was a proposal made by then Pakistani ruler Gen Ayub Khan to India for building joint Defence . It was shot down by India as it was not clear on joint defence against whom. India at the time wanted to follow avidly non-alignment as being its founder and Pakistan was a member of SEATO and CENTO and completely aligned with the west.  So, it would have meant defence against communist block. Mr Nehru, had however made several (at least 10) no-war pact proposals to Pakistan e.g. in 1949, 1958, 1963 but Pakistan rejected them all because it wanted Kashmir to be settled first.

Now, one thing that can happen which did not happen in the past  is for Pak Army to accept the divided Kashmir on the current boundaries (Ceasefire lines, Lines of Control etc)  and make a new  pact with India on joint military for any expeditions or joint missions e.g. terrorism or Maoism in India. It could be based on the same lines like UK and France have done. Such a pact should not be seeking only the joint defence against external enemies or no-war pact as these two sides offered to each other in the past. This should enable  Pakistan to stay together and be governable and be able to educate its public and make them reasonably well off. Pakistan will be able to exploit its resources and the  restive states as Baluchistan etc can become peaceful .In doing so, the Pak Military does not have to drastically reduce its budget but the  army  will also benefit as it does not have to compete any more with India on every modernisation effort Indian army engages in. It will help not only SAARC to become a proper union but also help Afghanistan to become viable. I am sure India will not shoot down such a proposal if it came from Pak Military. Trouble is India has to recognize that Indian civilian govt has to talk and negotiate either directly with Pak Army or with a group made up of civilian govt and Pak Army. This alone can help build the trust between these two eternal enemies (Pak and India) and this alone will establish that Pak definitely have an intent of moving forward  on its relations with India.

November 6, 2014

Combating Global Jihad, Miseries & Human Rights Abuses    

Filed under: Pak,World — Geekay @ 7:00 pm
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Recently, the world has witnessed a common fight against Ebola in Africa. Rightly, the world was alarmed and in the todays’ global world where the global travel has become so common,  without a concerted effort, there was no hope to stem or stop the Ebola from becoming the world’s  number one problem. These days, the problem of one country soon become the problem of the region and then it progresses  world wide. While,  it may be heartening to see the fight against Ebola by so many countries together, the same is not true against the miseries suffered by many sections of population in many countries. Perhaps, the fright of Ebola explosion worldwide drove the world community to come together. The speed to act was essential to curb the spread to manageable level. However if one were to think of the persecution of minorities in any one country, there is no effort made. Yesterday only there was an incident in Pakistan where a young Christian couple was threshed & then burnt to death for blasphemy. Before Christians, Ahmedis, Shias(Hazaras), Hindus, Sikhs, Balochis were targeted there. The minority may not even be demanding any special privileges or indulging in freedom struggle but regardless of that some sections of some country want to eliminate the minorities. Such sections perpetrating these acts get the protection of the govt or the govt is simply incapable of finishing them off or even resisting them.  Dr Azra Raza, a  doctor of Pak origin made recently, a moving speech  of the plight of doctors who just happens to be Shia or Ahmedi.  Like Pakistan, lots of minorities fate in number of countries come to mind e.g. Uighers  in Xinjiang(China), Kurds in Turkey etc. Earlier there was struggle of black Sudanese against Arab Sudanese before Sudan was split few years back. There was another struggle 15 to 20 years back in Indonesia by Christians of East Timor to become free. In the end, East Timor was freed and finally the persecution stopped just like the struggle of Bosnia and Kosovo to break free from Yugoslavia and later Serbia. Every time, without intervention from abroad, the situation just kept on festering by bringing more and more slaughter.

BokoHaram

Only today, there was a dawn newspaper report giving the names of all the major terrorist groups in Pakistan. Though, officially, if someone asked Pakistani govt and citizens directly, both will try to pretend their problem is not the worst but the scourge has been worst elsewhere. May be they are right, ISIS could be the largest gathering of terrorists together in one place. So they  will be no 1 of any terrorists related index. But can such an index help? Well indexes only bring focus to the problem where it is most acute e.g. without corruption index or human rights development index etc, people would not have focussed on the problem countries. I gather no country wants such stigma of harbouring the most terrorists. Since, now we have a new index for number of terrorists  harboured by a country, Pakistan came at No3 in this list of terrorists infested countries.   Can the problem of the suffering stay confined or spillover will reach the wide world? One can only shut their eyes as long as it does not rankle them. The case of Boko Haram comes to mind . But for a few sympathetic words in  the west, the world turned  their  attention away even when the 200 girls were abducted. When Yazidis’ plight in Iraq  became too much, some bombarding aerial action was taken by west.

BokoHaram2

No body has enough resources to fight one menace or the another across the world. I think,  the whole world needs to come together to meet tomorrow’s challenges like building a global reactionary force to fight these  type of situations before they become too much for any kind of action. I know some people will say even if the resources were enough to start such an action, one can not punish people before they have committed serious enough crime. Everyone understands that one tragedy has to happen before the next one can be prevented. But at least this will be an  improvement on the current state of affairs where tragedies after tragedies just mount up. Action start only after some country start feeling a guilt of not preventing new round of tragedies. I reckon, there should be a common database on incidents in any country and all countries should join such a global body for protecting human rights. Just like NPT for stopping nuclear proliferation, this body  has to have some teeth like sanctions etc. Such a body should decide a plan of action against the country where the abuse has taken place. UN  is too unfit for this purpose. If the abuse is by a govt of a country that is nuclear, certainly there is no recourse other than persuasion and putting pressure. For any normal country a time limit should be given  to fix the problem. If they find the govt of  that country do not have enough resources, then the unified reactionary forces should be sent to that country e.g. if such a body concur that Nigerian govt is simply unable to overcome Boko Haram, I think it should be helped by such unified world reactionary force.

BokoHaram3

There are human rights abuses in so many countries, at any time neither there will be enough funds nor enough people willing to put their lives to put out somebody else’s fire, but it is a noble cause and any action in this direction will help to stabilise the world and reduce human suffering.

July 8, 2014

Making a Viable Afghanistan

Filed under: Democracy,Europe,India,Pak,USA,World — Geekay @ 6:51 am
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To make Afghanistan viable, one has to compare it with the situation of Iraq as both have some similarities. In her interview recently, Hilary Clinton alluded to the reasons for Iraq hemorrhaging and falling apart. So, the new govt. of Afghanistan has to ensure from repeating the mistake of Iraq of alienation of its ethnic groups. Next, the task of sustaining Afghanistan will need elimination of dependence in most walks of nation’s life particularly as it is a landlocked country. The sustainability of any state depends on the economic activity and meeting defence needs.  India has already signed on being a security partner. Deal with the US should also happen after new Afghan president comes on board. So India has to ensure both these needs. Relationship of Afghanistan with Pakistan is a frayed one and the dependence on the only land route to sea via Pakistan has left Afghanistan vulnerable. So, just like it needs a formal deal with Pakistan, it needs to cut also a deal with Iran to allow transportation via its Chābahār port. So perhaps some sort of treaty is needed like Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan. It demarcated the division of Rivers after the emergence of both India and Pakistan. A fee for the use of their (Pakistan, Iran) resources like road or railway network need to be set up. Once, it gets formalised, the frictions will get minimised and there will be recourse to get to an international body like Indus Water Treaty, if a dispute were to arise.

(Source: Map Of the World )

For the economic activity, a country will need to have resources for agriculture like tools, fertilizers and electricity. For electricity, it will need generation, transmission equipment. For transport it will again need building roads, bridges besides the need of setting factories for auto parts or refineries for fuel. For building infrastructure setting up of steel mills will be required. For defence needs, the country will need not only ordinance factories but also the big equipment so that it can root out the Taliban etc. from making any part of their land as a base for themselves. So, defence will need re-strengthening or building new cantonment areas around the country, now that NATO is leaving those areas behind. There is a need to reassess the overall need of the locations of all the bases. Perhaps, as NATO may not even be covering certain areas. The armed forces as well as general public will also need lots of hospitals. The country need educational institutions. Perhaps, India can play a role in everything but it comes down to meeting the costs by Afghanistan. Virtually most important institutions India has like technical, management, planning, agriculture, hospital staff training or general educational institutes can start their chapters or branches in Afghanistan. Indian govt. can facilitate talks between its various bodies and the relevant parties in Afghanistan but those parties or institutes need to be formed. Some training is needed even for the bureaucracy in Afghanistan. Since in the short run there is bound to be more unemployment due to losses of jobs as NATO and US leave, India has to ensure these people get back into jobs at the earliest. They will not only be better experienced but if they get into the hands of Taliban, it will make the situation deteriorate pretty quickly. So, perhaps these resources should get the training in India to build various institutes or bodies in Afghanistan. They can then return to Afghanistan to start these bodies.

But how to build all this since there is no cash flowing into Afghanistan. In the short run, Afghanistan has to plead and seek commitment with donors like NATO, US and India, China, Russia and Iran. In the longer run, the mining activity has to start but that can only happen if transport deals with both Iran and Pakistan are in place. Afghanistan need capital not only to build factories etc. but also for building and sustaining the armed forces. One can think the private sector will come on board for 60-70% needs of economic activity like building required factories etc. But for building essential economic activity like infrastructure as roads, canals, electricity, hospitals, ordinance factories etc., the 30 to 40 % capital will be needed by the govt. So, the Afghanistan need to decide what it will need on year by year basis e.g. it needs to set up goals like 1 hospital in year 1 plus a refinery and an ordinance factory etc. This way, it can work out the capital required for these activities with the help of donors. Perhaps, Afghanistan can start getting some money if TAPI pipeline gets going. It can also build a target of 2 to 3 years before it start getting the mining revenue. It still has to move quickly on the transport deal with both Pakistan and Iran. Though a deal with Iran perhaps will need rehabilitation of Iran in international community and that is dependent perhaps on its resolution of Nuclear Issue. What is the new road block in that pursuit is not clear. The world needs a viable Afghanistan as much as Afghanistan itself needs it.

April 10, 2014

Is it possible to resist the allure of Space Research?

Today, I was reading how India’s  mission to Mars has reached half-way stage in its journey. I was happy to see the mission succeeding and reaching a milestone . This mission has a limited objective like searching methane in martian environment. It achieved one other objective that missions can be low cost and still succeed but I was wondering why humans are so obsessed with space while there is so much on earth remains  unexplored, unexploited and rather more necessary. 'Red' letter day: India's Mars mission crosses halfway mark

I guess the answer to this lies in number of observations –

1.  The sky above is always so visible and since it remains an unconquered territory so it ‘ll continue to pose a challenge until there is something left. On earth barring deep sea or deep earth, man has gone everywhere so there is nowhere it can go. So, humans can not easily build on the tales of Robert Scott. Edmund Hilary etc.

2. The science bodies have also lobbies within most govts and they(planetary science) get most funds allocated for their pet projects. Since the prestige and visibility of  space research remains foremost, they get most attention from govt who usually after haggling still allocates the biggest fund to space research see this report .

3. The other research projects are fragmented and too numerous and since not having a  big enough voice on one or two prestige projects, so they can not compete with the space research budget.

4. The interlinking of many countries on space projects also mean that certain degree of space spending is guaranteed  but the plethora of other science projects are usually competing with each other rather than cooperating . Of course there are exception on nuclear research ( Nuclear Fusion reactors) and fundamental science projects like “Hadron Collider” in France, Switzerland etc.

But this spending on only one  area of research does not have to be. There are plentiful  impossible challenging missions on planet earth itself e.g. sending a sub or human in a sub into the deep see to mine the expensive minerals. China control the rare earth elements. The world needs more sources for the same than just relying on one country. Can there be minerals picked up from deep sea which can be converted into  rare earth elements. Chinese were given the license for  deep sea mining last year by  International Seabed Authority. The number of licences issued to prospect for minerals now stands at 17 with another seven due to be granted and more are likely to follow. They cover vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.Similarly there can be plentiful opportunity to invest money in unusual projects like underwater cities or using plantation ( phytoplankton) for health and food, algae that  can be converted into crude oil or  bio-fuel, Ocean thermal power plants or basing  storage power plant at the sea bed  itself. Perhaps, a project can be started  in claiming the land near the coast by shifting sand from desert, boulders from mountains etc. Japan, Dubai etc has already done this but as there are low lying lands across the world are plentiful and  such land has remained unprotected from not only the rising sea water  but also any occasional typhoon, cyclone or Tsunami . It has plentiful sea and not much on land warehousing space built . Perhaps everything from food grain to chemicals can be stored in the sea or even the the marine food (like fishes caught) etc can also be kept in deep sea . Whenever needed they can be lifted etc. Due to less sea temperature, it will be possible to exploit not only temperature but plentiful space in sea. What I wonder however is this – since all countries need employment generation.

No global leader has a clue about employment generation. They do not talk about employment generation through funding of new science projects or new technology or like the projects mentioned above.  Space programs may seem necessary but I guess far more necessary is employment opportunities for billions across the world. India itself need 12 million new jobs every year just to stand still. Somebody discusses it here in his blog. Leaders still do not believe in any exceptional funding on science or new technologies to generate new jobs. Without this, the employment generation can  just grow marginally with each economic cycle from recession to growth . There is tendencies  in countries of stealing the jobs from one other by a new round of protectionism . This parochialism can be most seen at election time. President Obama wanted to stop the jobs outflow from US to other countries in software or manufacturing and was promising to bring  jobs back from the other countries. This is nothing but  protectionism  which is antithesis of globalism and if the world is returning to age gone by when protectionism was rife then it will not be doing itself any favour.

December 8, 2013

Aah, India is saved

The 8th Dec 2013 happens to be the date when the fate favoured India and stopped the rot. The Indian States Election results of 5 state assemblies that took place last week were to be announced. The capital had the biggest suspense in abeyance because of the new entrant party AAP, formed only a year ago. The promise from the party was to change the Indian politics completely. Results came but left AAP as a runner up. It may not be the outcome, the supporter hoped but it is on debut and credit worthy.

Indian democracy had degenerated from sublime to now awful and uncaring. It has allowed asset stripping and a complete plunder by lots of people not always in power but close to power and under their wings of patronage. They were not merely related to politicians but belonged to corporate houses as well. There was no check. The parliamentary term itself of 5 years seems now astronomically long given that public knew precisely in 2010 itself that ruling party needed to go after having voted them to power in 2009. To tolerate this barely performing govt for this long has been a big ordeal for whole of India.

The election results leave the ruling party routed in Delhi State, the capital region where it was ruling for decade and half. AAP should also thank their stars that they did not win the elections outright. AAP, in their manifesto had promised to reduce the power tariff by 50% which was well nigh impossible to achieve even with all good intentions. Putting a figure and also so high like that is recipe for voters not to trust the Party’s promises. AAP also ignored the attack coming from the eventual winning party BJP that AAP has cheated Anna Hazare, the 2011 architect of India’s mass movement against corruption. Perhaps, they could have combatted it vigorously by insisting that BJP has cheated themselves. They promised like the ruling congress party that they will enact law for Jan LokPal (corruption watchdog ). Not just that but they also failed to appoint state Lok Ayukt (corruption watchdog) in the states they ruled. BJP could have been pinned like Congress about promises for freeing the CBI, the investigative agency from Govt shackles. Finally, AAP also suffered from mis-judgements. It erred in not removing the assistant of Shazia Ilmi, one of its main candidate who was clearly suggesting in a sting video how to circumvent the election expenses limit rules framed for candidates by election commission. AAP should have apologised to public after removing such an assistant.

The coming of AAP promises a few new things for India. The funding for this party came from individual donations living either in India or abroad. Since it did not depend on industrial houses for donation, so it did not have to return any favour to them. The Party has promised to take governance to street level bodies by consulting with them on most issues. It withdrew one candidate midway through the election campaign because the candidate had failed to inform the party of court case pending against him. Its candidates were chosen by party members at local level and manifesto also took shape after consulting the public at local level. After looking at all party ‘s manifesto, it has become clear while there is greater merit in making manifesto with public consultation but it lacks vision as public keeps an eye on smaller short term outcomes. The other parties who had not consulted public for their manifesto promised to build a new hospital, a degree college and parking spaces which are in chronic need in capital. This type of promises could have only come as a result of vision of party leaders themselves. So there is a need to have a party vision as well in making manifesto. AAP’s election campaign was also unique. It had lots of volunteers from not just the capital but also from other states and abroad. They went around virtually all households in Delhi rather than conducting rallies.

Now, these election practices will begin to be accepted across the country. The party politics will begin to get cleaned. Though, there will be same temptations to indulge in old corrupt manner as before when to come in power and stay in power the money was used to buy the elected members of the opposition party or investigative agency CBI was used. Until now, the thugs were chosen as candidates by the parties without fear of court as India’s court system is crippled under the weight of pending cases. The parties were bound to a family or a group. It was difficult for anyone else to penetrate this circle of power without connections. Now, this outcome also leaves enough room for AAP to start building branch network across all states. There is so much goodwill for the party across the country. Having been free from governance after these election results, AAP needs to join Anna who is launching yet another fast for bringing the same Jan Lokpal bill as was sought in 2011. Anna need to be supported and brought back to AAP as both movements think alike. AAP needs to build a nationwide team . How such a big team will be communicated, funded etc remains a stupendous task, a task that is needed indeed to salvage India and reclaim.

June 23, 2013

Fixing International Job Creation Problem

Where are the jobs? Can panacea be so far away?

A few days back, there was a news from India that says that million engineers are struggling to get job. Recently, in a BBC discussion on science, I heard about the British immigration oversight in denying the entry of young Scientists to UK. Well, it did not surprise me totally. Often, the politicians across the world are glib talkers about the problems. If their advisers also lack vision and solutions, then country or any state within it will only stay at same economic activity if its economy does not get  eroded. Here is a discussion between two advisors – one to Mr Obama and one to Mr M M Singh, the Indian PM. While the advisor to Mr Obama is overselling the initiatives the US govt is taking in bringing various stake holders together to create jobs, the advisor to the Indian PM leave the impression that he has become by now a wily politician himself. The same person 20 years ago used his vision to transform the Indian telecom sector but now his proximity over a long period of time to top politicians has turned him into defending govt policies rather than talking about the new initiatives the govt has taken or will take soon.

How to create jobs is the biggest problem the world face. The job creation depends most of all on developing and employing new technology means it needs science inputs. The biggest example have been development of fracking (extracting oil) in US just like earlier it was the development of internet itself in which now millions are employed world over. There are tech jobs (knowledge economy) and non tech jobs which can be gradually be turned into tech assisted jobs or moved to a country where none exists.

The job creation does not merely need policy tinkering but also state involvement. In the earlier period of India’s development, India’s socialist PM, Mr Nehru inspired from USSR built industries (steel production, turbines, railway engines, defence items), science institutes, dams etc but since USSR no longer exists. So that inspiration is gone from world over. After Mrs Thatcher came on to the scene in UK transforming its economy, it has left the other inspiration that state should not involve in economic activity as it does not do a good job. So, the drive for privatisation has taken root the world over. India also believes in this philosophy now, so much so that it is gradually reducing the state stakes in the well run state owned companies. But in place of creating new industry from that dis-investment money it is just disbursing that money into poverty elimination programmes etc.

Some of the new jobs, in  the global economies could happen in these undeveloped  or under-developed areas –

gene therapy, epigenetic, stem-cell therapy, repairing DNA damage to treat cancer through modified virus, developing medicines using bacteriophage, manufacturing antibiotics, proteins(recombinant pharmaceutical proteins) & hormones via other animals, bacteria etc, developing synthetic biology, rare metal mining including deep sea exploration, dealing with hazardous waste recycling such as with bacteria including nuclear waste, developing land fertility, seeking control of pesticides or replacing these with alternatives so as to control the spread of cancer, water harvesting(rainfall) by creating new reservoirs, bunds etc and generate drinking water from sea using RO (reverse osmosis) and solar energy and thus removing draught conditions ( building mini regional water grids), deploying equipment for capturing energy loss(heat) at thermal plants, manufacturing artificial blood, normal organs using 3d printing technology and human stem cells, organ transplant industry, nanotechnology, medical diagnostics(scanners, dna analysers), new sensors and signalling equipments, robotics for hazard material handling, lasers in industrial (surgical, cutting etc), building safe (encrypted data transmission – optical fibre network including routers), building new defence industries(robotics), developing IT internet security industry and old tech tasks of converting all the existing written texts into online ones, creating targets for computerisation of govt machinery and legal justice system(it may help cutting down on delayed justice), develop local cloud servers companies, building freight corridor infrastructure (railway) etc – 2. Since the IT activity only helps other activities, so it is important to find those other activities where IT could be deployed. One area is where big databases are now employed such as genomics which is a field progressed from genetics.

It is not that no tech innovation is taking place in India. Here is the news about how the low cost high tech innovation is helping India improve its health. To get the jobs for million of engineers and others, you need a vision which is a mix of Mr Nehru, the socialist and Mrs Thatcher, the capitalist. It means state should start those economic activity where private sector is unable to go – it is often the innovative areas or areas where economic dividends are not going to come to fruition in short span of time or even apparent at the outset.

Schematics of a reverse osmosis system (desalination) using a pressure exchanger. [Photo Credit: Wikipedia]
1: Sea water inflow, 2: Fresh water flow (40%), 3: Concentrate flow (60%), 4: Sea water flow (60%), 5: Concentrate (drain),
A: Pump flow (40%), B: Circulation pump, C: Osmosis unit with membrane, D: Pressure exchanger

Margret Thatcher philosophy is also needed later to free the state from economic activity once that state owned activity is flourishing, it can then be sold into the hands of private sectors and the released capital be deployed into another new activity. New innovations are taking place all the time but as those innovation in science and technology is taking place in west and west does not believe in getting involved in economic activity, so most of the time, the technology waits until someone from private sector is willing to risk their capital. While the rest of the world waits for any such innovation to be established in west. It is therefore imperative in east particularly China and India to innovate so that technology can come to the market faster by active state involvement.

April 14, 2013

India sits precariously in global recession

Filed under: India — Geekay @ 6:56 pm

During April-February 2012-13, India had £182 bilion deficit in foreign trade. India’s trade deficit is likely to widen between $193 billion and $196 billion in the last fiscal year. It sits precariously and sliding towards 1991 when balance of payments situation arose. The trade deficit grew mainly due to the 14.5 percent growth in imports and the 0.1 percent increase in exports; thereby widening the trade deficit by 49.2 percent during the period. India’s oil import bill leaped 40 per cent to a record $140 billion in Year 2011-12 as high oil prices bringing down its GDP growth rate.
India needs to see why it should import any thing other than the items which it definitely needs like copper, petroleum, fertilizer, gas products and edible oil. It of course have to import those items where it adds the value to export them back after finishing like diamonds, gems etc. But, it needs to eliminate or limit gold and coal import for domestic use even if it renews the Gold smuggling. India should not be importing any chemicals but rather building a domestic capacity to export it back. Currently European Union, Japan exports the most and China and Mexico imports most chemicals. There should be thinking of exporting of only finished goods rather than raw materials unless it is too abundant. Coal could be replaced by electricity for which it should use  hydel energy, domestic coal, solar, nuclear energy but alas reactors based on thorium which is abundant in India are never going to be ready in spite of ongoing research for eons and uranium dependence will remain in spite of growth in uranium production where India’s production increased by 73% in 10 years (2011). But China increased its production by 81 % in just one year and now its annual capacity stands 3.5 times of India. This is how the import bill stood –

                              2011-2012                2010-2011

Oil imports            $140 bn                    $73.7 bn

Gold and silver     $62 bn                     $31.2 bn

Coal                      $29 bn                      $8.6 bn

No wonder the rupee value is sliding for last few years. It slid 16 per cent in 2 years in dollar terms.The question to ask is if the exports can not increase due to global recession why should imports continue to gallop. Its current account deficit now stands at highest 6.7% in latest quarter which is an alarming figure.

The British Miners strike In 1984-85 [Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

How the coal import is allowed to be increased close to 4 times of previous year figure, one wonders. Is it due to production shortfall. If that is so then any figure will be justified. In the data both coal and oil imports have gone up. If it was just coal then one could have thought the coal has replaced the oil import but that is not the case. Also, privatising the coal mines has just led to big license scams only so far. The increase in production tonnage perhaps will come later. The coal India Ltd which meets country’s 81% consumption requirement has seen its annual production capacity stuck at same figure of 420-430 million tonnes for last 3 years to 2013. Clearly it is beyond Coal India Ltd to add more production. China’s coal production is 5 times that of India. Clearly, increase in coal production can reduce current account deficit as oil requirement should come down if the coal is used in electricity production and freight is moved onto electric railway lines. So, there is a need to remove quickly, the monopoly stranglehold of Coal India Ltd, the biggest coal miner of the world. Perhaps it should be broken into pieces – based on coal pits. The ones not being cost effective should be closed down. In mining, India has plentiful reserves but Coal India consistently fails to meet targets. The coal import permitted should only be to meet production shortfall and that too should be of higher grade coal from abroad. Also, there is a particular need to attend the rail transport bottleneck experienced by major coal consumers like steel producers or thermal power plants.

Maggie Thatcher ‘s example of selling the equity to general public should be followed. It can make more middle class investors by limiting the equity lots offered for sale thereby increasing number of investors. The preferential treatment should be given to sell the holdings to the workers. With coal strike almost every year in Dhanbad etc (in Jharkhand state), the trade union reforms along similar lines as ushered by Maggie Thatcher should be introduced where she brought a compulsory ballots by members before a strike can be called upon. The election of trade unions has to be more transparent on the lines of national election. The limit of terms should be introduced for the party posts etc-2. The  privatisation of coal India Ltd will also help in removing the subsidy India has to make so that state electricity boards can buy the coal at cheaper prices. That would mean the state electricity boards have to ramp up electricity prices meaning the electricity prices will have to be at realist and sustainable level and close to other parts of the country where they may not have a subsidy. It can also help in removing need for dispute arbitration on quality like the ongoing tussle between NTPC and coal India Ltd, where NTPC says – Why should it pay for the stones that coal India Ltd produces. Divestment or privatisation should not be allowed to be rolled back by trade unions as is the case now. The unions need to be confronted or how else India can confront its current account deficit.

March 6, 2013

Was Partition a blessing in disguise – A travel from Akhand Bharat to Akhandit Hindu Samudaay

Amidst the gathering gloom about imploding Pakistan, I came across a positive news from Pakistan. It said Pakistan carried out drone attacks in Feb: US Officials . Well, isn’t it a surprise when many Pakistan political leaders were deriding US drone attacks for killing innocent civilians along with terrorists and wanted it to be stopped, that establishment in Pakistan realised that with US departure, now Pak army has to do what US was doing all along. Well, other news emerging from that country seem all depressing. A third major attack within last 2 month on Shia community and the news that part of the Pakistan state is now controlled by outside fighters not just in FATA etc but within its biggest city Karachi itself is hugely depressing. The Shia community is new target. Earlier targets for attacks have been other religious minorities like Hindu, Christian. The puzzle now seems who will follow Shias. Will it be Barelvis, Muhajir (Muslim migrants from India who came at Pakistan creation), will it be Punjabi v rest Pukhtuns, Sindhis etc. Baluchi like Shia are already on the anvil getting hammered.

Shia Massacre

Figure 1 After the Shia Bombing in Pakistan

Every time, all these bad news gather pace, the question goes back to the genesis of Pakistan. Was it necessary to placate and encourage a few Muslims by British to create a partition of India. The present affairs of Pakistan seems uncontrollable but who knows if more resources come into Pakistan, it may stabilise. There seems more if statements and wishful thinking about it, though.

Recently, I came across a facebook Hindu group page wanting to besmirch the good memory of Mahatma Gandhi decided to post a picture of Gandhi’s killers. The others were supposed to fall in line and pay respect to the killer because it would have meant rejecting Gandhi’s love for Muslims, Hindus etc. I was not happy for them losing sight of Gandhi’s contribution in India’s freedom as well as inspiring others like Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. etc for the world peace in general.The group photo had included unfortunately another individual called “Veer Savarkar” who spent considerable years  in jail from (1911 -1924)  for violent struggle against British.  Savarkar was a complex person. In jail, he turned to revive Hinduism and wrote several books.  In 1920, the Indian National Congress and leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded his unconditional release. Savarkar tactically signed a statement endorsing the trial, verdict and British law, and renouncing violence, a bargain for freedom. But his incarceration continued. After his release, however, in stead of joining India’s non-violent freedom movement with Congress, he went against the Congress and Jinnah’s Muslim League. He, presided over a new organisation till 1943  called Hindu Mahasabha which became a pre-cursor to current BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party). Hindu Mahasabha could not reconcile to partition. Gandhi was considered guilty as he acquiesced to partition. It is hard for anyone to conclude those days in 1948 that Veer Savarkar had nothing to do with Gandhi’s murder,  if he was sitting in that photo along with Gandhi’s eventual killers and met the killer just before the murder mission. So, Savarkar was also arrested for Gandhi’s murder too along with others but he was freed  as the evidence linking him with it lacked independent corroboration. Current BJP brigade keep bringing Veer Savarkar in front because  of their need to highlight his message of Akhand Bharat (undivided India) and also for his so much work on Hinduism.  Savarkar was a patriot to the core and devoted to the cause of India. I believe he should be brought to lime light denied to him so far but BJP should not dismiss Gandhi’s contribution and spoil his memory as  it was not just Savarkar who gave the message of Hindu unity and empowerment but Gandhi too did the same in equal measure, if not more.

Savarkar (above) and Gandhi politely agreed to...

Savarkar (above) and Gandhi politely agreed to disagree on whether Ramayana justified the use of violence in freedom struggle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BR Ambedkar, the man responsible for Indian Constitution, talked about Savarkar like this –

“In his scheme a Muslim is to have no advantage which a Hindu does not have. Minority is to be no justification for privilege and majority is to be no ground for penalty. “

Savarkar also expressed joy at the recognition of the claim of Jewish people to establish an independent Jewish state, and likened the event to the glorious day on which Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage.

However, there is a concern in majority Hindus that the current Congress and many other parties in India like SP, BSP, TMC(Trinamul Congress), AIADMK etc  who all want Muslim votes are doing the same thing that led to partition of India. It was  then the active appeasement of Muslim constituency  by British. The appeasement of any section of society lead to disenchantment in others. Already the reservations for even Hindu lower castes(dalits etc) is causing this. This has been extended  to Muslim reservation in number of states but if Muslim reservation for Jobs etc goes nationwide,  it will exacerbate into a deep seated anger against the beneficiaries and divide the communities along religious lines too besides already castes divided Indians. So, while most Indians thinking nostalgically about Pakistan hurts in one way asking question as to why we had to separate or why this dream of Savarkar ‘s  Akhand Bharat could not be kept, I have begun to feel and thank God for partition that India is saved at least from the mayhem (daily bombs) that Pakistan is facing. The Hindu community swelled after migration from Pakistan, perhaps, they must be feeling blessed too that they have become now an Akhandit Hindu Samudaay (undivided Hindu Community). However, it is not just Hindus, but Muslims feel relieved too. Here there is one Shia Muslim expressing his joy on remaining in India .He commented on the Pakistani news paper Dawn’s website like this –

Javed Hussaini

  February 17, 2013 7:13 pm

So much for the two nation theory, Maulana Azad was 100% right, I am glad my parents stayed put in India and not move to Pakistan, on the eve of partition. Being a Shia , and a minority in India, I feel much safer in Haryana, a 90% Hindu area where I live, then I ever will in a Muslim nation. Pakistan needs to learn to respect people and be tolerant, if the Hindus want they can wipe out Muslims from India and the world would probably do nothing , as it is a big economic power on which no military or economic sanctions will work, but that does not happen in India, periodic riots do happen that is as much a fault of Muslims and Hindus or Sikhs, Our MLA is a Muslim, the next constituency the MLA is a Sikh, and again the population of both communities is less then 10%. I hope that this venom from Pakistan does not spread to Muslims in India, already we have seen anti Shia violence in Lucknow.

Well, I hope India remains undivided between castes, groups and religions for long long time irrespective to whatever is happening in Pakistan.It was a blessing in disguise that partition happened. India should survive to give refuge to any one undergoing persecution anywhere.

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