De-Lurking on the Net

January 10, 2016

India needs Jobs (wealth) creation pro-active Initiatives

Just like, for many countries, India could focus on the two areas which create more jobs (including in outsourcing) besides producing revenue. These are tourism and agriculture. India is opening on-arrival visa regime for up to 150 countries soon. Before, it is done any tourism focussed initiative will help it big way to ramp up the revenues. But as before any new initiatives are considered, the funding for them should be arranged. For this, the special bonds in respective industry could be issued which may become redeemable after 10 years.

India has made beginning in both these areas but the inputs needed to make them contribute manifold are missing. Within tourism, the areas to focus should be medical tourism and adventure sports.

  1. Medical tourism

The new medical facilities can be opened by private public partnership (PPP). The govt. can provide the buildings(smart small clinics or mini specialist-hospitals) and equipments and give this facility on license or lease to doctors associations. They can run it on the same lines as private facilities such as Apollo, Fortis etc. The hotels or other residential areas in the vicinity can be developed by builders as patients will require areas to stay while convalescing. Such a facility provides the employment or training opportunity for both experienced (to run) and young doctors (trainee) besides bringing valuable foreign exchange and foreign tourists.

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Medical tourism is gathering momentum, one can see the growing revenue from this area for last 10 years but India is no4 after Mexico, Thailand, CostaRica. There is an outstanding opportunity to cut across the world in this area as most of Africa lacks the expertise or facilities. In America, Europe, the treatments as being so expensive, it gives opportunities to seek an outsourcing treatment contracts with the hospitals or govts or health insurance companies (such as BUPA, NHS etc) abroad. In fact, it will also benefit to improve the healthcare to Indian general public as well as there will be less pressure on the big public hospitals from those who can afford expensive treatments in India itself. India has 0.7 doctor to 1000 people in comparison to west where the best countries have 3 to 4 doctors per 1000 people. One of the lacunas could be perhaps not producing enough young doctors though India produces 3 times as many as USA.  First of all an assessment will be needed to figure out how many engg or medical employment positions are getting created annually in India. Not finding a job after a degree,  not only adds frustration to the students and families but also to the banks who may be adding these costs to Non-performing Assets(NPAs). There are roughly about 370 medical colleges, 49,840 MBBS seats and  charging Rs 50 lakh capitation each per annum in comparison to engineers ( 3,345 colleges, 15 lakhs students). Perhaps, lots of engg colleges should be converted into medical colleges and others closed down or students taught a particular craft to develop small scale or cottage industries – may be entrepreneurship too. The industry should be consulted for their annual requirements as education policy needs to be built to serve the industry. So, for formulating the education policy, education ministry should consult labour ministry, industrial ministry or directly survey industry’s needs and take inputs from planning commission plans in formulating type of colleges required in future and how many should be kept open or running. As clearly can be seen here India ranks in low income countries’ category when it comes to talk about healthcare infrastructure.

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  1. For adventure sports,

There can be any number of countries to emulate from. Most of them do not just engage in one sport but many acquire over the years a must status to visit for these types of tourists. Among these are New Zealand (Bungee Jumping etc), Switzerland(which has many trains going up the slopes or tunnels or has excellent piste infrastructure so it is good for many snow bound sports),  Australia (water sports- scuba diving, snorkeling), US(theme parks) etc.  The inputs such as setting up infrastructure – roads to such sites, the metal structures (Ropeways, support etc), concrete or building structure such as lifts taking to the mountains viewing areas, slopes etc can be built by issuing yet another tourism bonds.

New infrastructure can have ticket for entries to generate revenue and any hotels developed in that area can also have special tourism taxes to recover the infra building costs fast. So if the govt creates infrastructure as a priority, it will not take long to pay off the bonds. This initiative  will bring not only tourists(foreign and desis) to those areas but generate employment too. Infrastructure building will also help steel industry, as well as stop rich Indian people from flying abroad to spend foreign currency on these activities. The employment in areas where  very few other employment opportunities exist is particularly appealing.

Agriculture:

As India’s population will peak, its demand will go up in many of these areas. The areas for growth are olive production (Spain, Italy, Greece are leading countries but Israel could be tapped for exceptional high quality olive oil production who in spite of growing it in arid areas, using drip irrigation as well using salty (brackish) and purified wastewater which helps it to add natural fertilizers to the soil produces superior quality olives), mushroom production (China, Italy are leading and in USA, Pennsylvania, California are the leading ones), other edible oil production facilities particularly coconut oil where India is no 3 and Philippines is no1 with almost close to 4 times that of India’s production level, Orchards developments like in California to grow Almonds(which requires more water than how much olives need), Pistachio(good for arid areas – Iran is no 1 producer in it), Walnuts(US produces 9 times, China 8 times, Iran 5 times of India’s production level), apples, orange (citrus), plums(prunes). It will be particularly good in the  area of India’s Northeast where on the line of California orchards could be developed. As the North-East offers enough water resources (required for almonds etc) and the temp may be just right too but for production of pistachio(arid areas should be OK) and for Olive production could go to Rajasthan  bordering Punjab (as Olives need water too) or in dry areas of UP, AP, Maharastra etc for Pistachios. Orchards will largely depend on developing bee keeping industry too for pollination of fruits.

 

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.

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.

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