De-Lurking on the Net

November 20, 2016

Mr Trump, Mr Modi, Democracies & Intelligence

Here is a video between  Mitt Romney and Trump just compiled by BBC. See how Mr Romney was judging Mr Trump in this video –

Mr Trump is a phony. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament, nor the judgement to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”

In this exchange of this video, it is clear that Mr Trump is hurling abuses at Mr Romney, while Mr Romney is analysing the man, Mr Trump is or would be in his presidency. It seems that Mr Romney has mapped out the capacities of  Mr Trump quite well but it just makes you wonder why those who can see the future, judge things minutely do hardly ever become head of the govt. Why do they  get defeated in elections.

However, I would like to apply the Romney’s assessment of Mr Trump, to the champion who is leading another democracy in the world, Mr Modi. So, let us see if Mr Modi possess that elusive quality to stave off recession by his domestic policies (demonetisation move) or if Mr Modi’s promises made at election time can be fulfilled.

mrmoditrump

India has been pretty nascent democracy in spite of its seventy years of age and the analysing capacities or scrutiny of the govts’ performances are seriously lacking in media or by opposition. Usually, either you are ready to throw away a govt like previous scam ridden govt of UPA led by Congress or you are ready to revere a govt without understanding the implications of any govt initiative. So, analysis is missing but either hurling of abuses is non-stop or showering effusive praises are endless. The current govt of Mr Modi is having a easy time in spite of giving awful time to the public by its recent drive of de-monetisation  or rather reissuing a Indian currency note and introducing a bigger note. Public is staying calm because indirectly, it seems that rich people have become less rich overnight and some sort of redistribution of wealth is going on between rich and poor in order to defeat the govt drive to eliminate black money. The poor people are getting offered a commission in order to help convert rich people’s black money into white, legitimate money. The poor people can not resist the powerful rich people(politicians included) either due to their display of force,  power by rich or due to the poor people’s own greed or need. Somehow reverence of Modi gets converted into a devotion of him in spite of the hardships of standing daily in the queues to convert the money from black to white rather than going to earn your daily wage. Chances of  wiping out a big chunk of GDP seems certain that relied on the availability of black money. So, how much of a big hole in GDP will it cause remains to be seen. Will it usher recession or merely drop some GDP growth rate is not clear to any one. Will it wipe out corruption or bring back black money stashed overseas as promised at election? It is pretty clear, it will not. It would just eliminate some black money. It will help RBI(Reserve Bank Of India) and govt to strengthen the banks balance sheets by infusing new funds into them.

A roar goes out against those who throw the pebble in the wells where devotees of Mr Modi also called Bhakthas in Hindi not only dwell but have been enjoying themselves in great numbers – specially on most of the WhatsApp groups. Discovering myself at the receiving end, recently I had wondered if  they should be dared to be asked if any of them had ever read anything beyond local publications from New York Times, Washington Post, Globe & Mail, Telegraph, Guardian or Le Monde about demonetisation drive of Mr Modi. But I resisted the urge after remembering  been questioned already once when BBC was quoted wherein a quote of the Indian PM’s speech of 2014 was referred. But Bhaktas had told that BBC was hardly trustworthy source even if it was a direct quote of the PM. One of the Bhaktha sometimes back had called the BBC as ‘Bak Bak Corporation’ meaning BBC just knows how to yap most of the time.

Recently, I was watching a video  by Mr Arun Puri, an ex editor of a magazine called India Today. Mr Puri has been very eloquent in this video in summing up Mr Modi‘s inning thus far. When Mr Modi campaigned during elections, he was projecting all kinds of hopes in the minds of voters as well as giving the ray of optimism to the world. May be, he just projected and promised too much. It seemed as if he will not only be able to stop the corruption, scams of previous govt, but also  be able to bring the efficiency in his new govt like it was never seen before. Unfortunately, he has ended up only tinkering mostly, so far in his new bureaucratic governance even though spawning some new initiatives like MakeInIndia, JanDhanYojna etc. In the early days of 2014, when he was sworn in he had raised the hope greatly by saying him believing in minimum govt, maximum governance . The Cabinet is now 80-member strong, up from 45 when Mr Modi came to power two years ago.
The tinkered bureaucratic system in India by Mr Modi is hardly ever going to complain about not changing much as why would the bureaucrats or the system  machinery not like to retain their status quo. The public is hardly ever going to debate it, if the media does not display the state of affairs to the public. The opposition is abysmal, the media delinquent, boot licking type. It is strange that Mr Arun Puri till date, had not had a chance to say his bit that he has just said in this video. I wonder how could he never got a chance to say it earlier. Why could he not write this in local media or international media. May be he waited, perhaps, for the right occasion or perhaps like most in journalistic circles, he too was not ready to take on the sloganeering brigade of Bhakthas. Let us see how he copes with the new attention that he will now draw from those in power. But I am glad, he took the opportunity to judge Mr Modi‘s govt now. Like him, I had always felt the same.  Mr Modi perhaps finds himself overawed  in that position. He offers simplicity and sincerity in the face of complex issues, problems. The plethora of advisers must be making it really tricky for him. It is difficult to drop an advice on your own, if you can not think beyond the simple things and do not understand all the complexity of a system. In financial systems, demonetisation and impact of globalisation on investment, currency flows, corruption, recession, growth etc is even hard for most people to understand, so would it be any wonder if the simple leaders do not understand it. They rely on advisers alone. So, how will one make its mind  before deciding to dump this advice or that advice. I am not surprised that Mr Modi has got lost in this conundrum.   Unfortunately,  Indian political scene is totally bereft of intelligent people in politics who could attain a position one day to challenge him politically. The political parties are really controlled by few people or groups and real talent within parties get stifled and never allowed to rise. It is not true that no intelligence exists there but what is there can never rise.  But this  democracy in India will not fail you as comprehensively as it does in most other countries where not only honesty, competence of the leader remains suspect but is also that of the leader’s advisers that the leader himself has gathered around him. One could easily conclude that democracy is a compromised system of government as individual intelligence of those not near power have not much role to play in it.

Advertisements

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.

medical-tourism-in-india-swarna-18-638

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.

reaching-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid-6-728

 

  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.

 

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.

_79756185_79756184

(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.

July 8, 2014

Making a Viable Afghanistan

Filed under: Democracy,Europe,India,Pak,USA,World — Geekay @ 6:51 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

February 16, 2013

Af-Pak Region after Nato departure

Filed under: China,India,Pak,USA,World — Geekay @ 7:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As US is beginning to leave in 2014 after 13 years, many in Pak started to rejoice as its army felt it could now freely flex its muscles back in Afghanistan and subsequently in Kashmir. But it is beginning to dawn on the main political parties and intellectuals that the Pak itself is beginning to slip through their fingers. This editorial and the article “The shadow over Pakistan” gives away the anxiety felt by intelligentsia. It is clear now that they have to somehow talk peace with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) without asking for any pre conditions for talks like laying down weapons etc. So, Taliban will emerge from any talks stronger. How things shape up after Pak compromises with Taliban will be anybody’s guess as another major actor in this area is Pak Army who has not abandoned anything of the past. It continues to support Afghan Taliban and help other fundamentalist groups within Pakistan. No body is reporting any more of militant training camps, IED factories running within Pakistan to help Taliban dislodge NATO from Afghanistan but there is no reason to stop such an activity now if these were operating before. Even if the violence escalates within Pakistan, the chances of army and political establishment are far more further and further to compromise with these groups than to wage war on them. Without the US funds in Af-Pak, the drones, the holding off Taliban in Afghanistan by NATO there is simply no chance of averting Taliban dominance very much longer after US departure. Should India rue that other countries like Russia, Iran can not do anything to stop this. Both of these as well as China want a stable Afghanistan and not the one infested with Islamist training camps. But other than China, the others do not have big enough economic muscle. China also has an economic interest there just like India. In fact Indian and Chinese interests in Afghanistan are very much in sync to keep Afghanistan away from Islamic turbulence and stable enough for carrying out the economic activity. Iran can also play a big role in stopping Taliban from becoming unstoppable. Since all these three countries (Iran, Russia, China) have same interests in Afghanistan, they should convene a meeting with Afghanistan as to how to help it after NATO departure. Perhaps, India or any of these countries can take initiative for such a meeting. Although, it is in Pakistan’s interest as well not to help Taliban but Pak Army will not undo what it has been doing since 1979’s at the beginning of 9 years Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. US perhaps should do a speedy deal with Iran on the Nuclear concerns bringing that country out from cold. This can help India and Iran relations. These relations could be crucial for the health of Afghanistan as India or anyone else will be able to use Chābahār port of Iran for Afghanistan trade. Perhaps, a railway line can also be laid to connect Chābahār with Zaranj upto where India built a road but which still remains unconnected with the nearby road across the border in Iran due to Taliban control over that area.

India and Pak history of wars have always brought a stalemate because all those victorious PMs from India have shown magnanimity to sign accords with Pak and return the won territories for the sake of peace. But peace has not arrived because all these accords have strengthened Pak Army and not its civilian democracy. Current Pakistan media has twin worries on reporting any incident within Pak that they will have to face the wrath of Army as well as militant gangs supported by Mullahs. So, when the Pakistan troubles will escalate no body will come to know about them. Pak Army’s big role will continue to haunt this whole Af-Pak region and India at least   .

January 8, 2013

Thanks Karl Marx, the world is still changing the right way.

When Karl Marx published Das Kapital in 1867, the world had seen just capitalism and exploitation of masses. It was the time, the capitalism was looked down for its labour exploitation . The exploitation gave way to the thought of equality. The feudalism, capitalism and class culture started melting down across Europe and gradually elsewhere. In some societies, the class distinction was not very visible like in Americas (North and South). In place of feudalism, there the capitalism took roots as  neo rich people wanted to achieve the same social status which was denied to them in their European home countries from where they had emigrated.  The new class system based on wealth now took root in all countries. The wealthy people wanted to see capitalism to flourish and therefore abhorred those who wanted to finish this off.  Marx’s economic theories were changing the thought process . His books had affected the minds of Russians first as Russia was emerging out of profound  serfdom.  The book had got translated in Russian first before in English. Whether  Marx got the inspiration from the French Revolution(1789), melting away of slavery around the world (1833 in UK, 1865 in US)  and serfdom abolition in Russia (1861) to expound that theory  on the use of  capital, one can not be sure.

Somehow, that theory from Marx led  the Russia and the world to try communism . While the neo rich and capitalists in US and other countries carried on fighting to establish whether  capitalism and wealth should be  worshipped or the equality (socialism).The Marx has infected the minds of millions . A new social order has become desirable where those people who work are not looked down upon by wealthy and indolent people and they have more freedom.

When colonialism was giving way to democracies in late 20th centuries, all  the leading lights of the day were embracing socialism like Nehru, Tito, Bhutto, Nasser etc.  But, after the 1989 breakdown  of  communist bloc , the communism  is now considered a failed ideology whose time is gone. The socialism as being associated with communism is therefore a word people want to retreat from even though every body still wants to bring equality to masses.

In recent past, the socialism was just used by many to come into power and then forget about it. The socialist halo was also present in Sukarno, , Indira Gandhi and in military men Gaddafi, Suharto, Nasser & Anwar Sadat. The socialism  led many leaders to nationalise the  production assets, the banks etc. However, the nationalisation was on the retreat after the Margret Thatcher‘s show in UK to claim back the world from that ideology of socialism where the  labour unions had virtually paralyzed the country. So, for operational aspects the world began to see the folly of putting everything under the state control. But this retreat of socialism has also affected the effort in elimination of exploitation by few of the masses.

Arab Spring of 2011 began to claim back the rights of have-nots in Muslim world  and  let people have freedom. The democracy which was thought is not suitable model by some Muslims was now wanted by them. It also inspired other countries too by stressing that however entrenched any govt or system may be, it can be thrown away. The trigger was a single incident of Mohamed Bouazizi self immolation in Tunisia for the start of Arab Spring.

The advent of internet and means of mass communication like mobile phone has allowed people to see that the things can be changed . So, the aspirations of people are changing too. Why would they be willing to put up with the same exploitation and denials of their rights which they had in the past. But there are always those who have the capital, the power . They would not be willing to change and give it away so easily without struggle. So, Syria has simmered on and on.  While some struggles have started in some countries and some will have it some day  but the danger lurks that it may come suddenly to that country causing widespread misery and chaos.

Recently, this struggle manifested in a movement to claim back proper gender equality in India after the death of a woman following a rape but the govt  muzzled the protest. The govt may have had success in controlling the protest by closing lots of metro stations, water cannoning the protesters etc. but any such success of govt and the failure of masses to register protest stores the mass fury for the next time.

Image

In Pakistan, there was a march scheduled to the capital Islamabad calling for the end of feudalism.  The march  organisers have been under tremendous pressure to scrap the march in case it derails the democracy and allow the military to usurp power again. So, whether anti-feudal  struggle remains in abeyance will become clear on Jan 14, the March date to see if it has any effect. China is still waiting for something to happen as it is yet  keeping the individual freedom at bay. If its new leadership of 2012-13 does not take small steps now to let people allow  some protests, there is a danger that it will boil over in big way one day which will then also affect the whole world.

So, some govts will be changing a little and some will remain the same until the mass fury visits that country one day. But it is thanks to Karl Marx and his ushering a thought of socialism, the world after about 150 years of his book looks lot better place to live and breathe in as it is little more equal and allows lot more freedom.

December 12, 2012

Which one is the best government in the world? The winner is Canada !!

I wanted to seek reasons why the democracies are wobbling in reaching maturity. Of course the reasons are not far from comprehension – it is due to inability to develop mature institutions. Any successful democracy needs lots of institutions which are independent and beyond corruption. It needs independent media, independent judiciary, a fully working corruption free legislature who can raise the questions of probity without compromises and legislate the right laws and finally the executive who can oversee the implementation of those laws. Of course, one would also need independent election commission, a strong corruption free military and police for a working and mature democracy . I would like to rank democracies based upon these measures as to how much mature the democracy is. Since, China and other single party state also have to be accommodated in this maturity index. Let us call it govt maturity index rather than democracy maturity index. So, for this I have used stats from ‘Transparency International‘. I have used their stats on the measures like human resource development, judicial independence, press freedom, voice and accountability based on country wide data to discuss governance maturity. I have ignored corruption here as people tend to use this as a single parameter to discuss governance. In my view, there is no single consolidated governance parameter justifying why any country is getting better governance than another and how any country is travelling towards a better governance. But the world definitely need one govt maturity index. There is of course the table printed on which is the best country to live in but it has more to do with issues like standard of living, health, infrastructure etc. Here, I have picked up those countries I was interested in to compare them – the Source is Transparency International

Country Judicial Independence

(score out of Max 7)

Rule of Law Press Freedom

(High means bad)

Voice and Accountability
UK 6.2 1.769596058 2.00 1.312851012
France 4.9 1.524405497 9.50 1.225976029
Japan 5.8 1.31377106 -1.00 1.047643331
Germany 6.3 1.627934067 -3.00 1.345103086
USA 4.9 1.584584729 14.00 1.16180876
Canada 6.3 1.789068657 -5.67 1.379444766
Australia 6.1 1.770200087 4.00 1.428903554
China 3.9 -0.346839923 136.00 -1.649501221
India 4.3 0.057769364 58.00 0.42402758
Pakistan 3.9 -0.785570665 75.00 -0.81606361

Clear winner here is Canada. It has the best measure in all commonwealth countries even better than the mother country UK. The only measure Australia is better than the Canada is on “Voice and Accountability”. Comparing USA with Canada makes you wonder why USA is not as good – is it because the number of people it has in comparison to Canada? If that reason was plausible then it could justify why India is so low down as it has even more people. I consider that it has more to do with the will to change. Comparing India, Pakistan and China makes one wonder about the China’s real achievement. Other than the wealth creation, it virtually falters on everything else. How its citizens must feel one can only empathise. In Europe, it is not the UK who holds the flag of having best govt – but it is Germany. The only measure on which UK leave Germany behind is the “Rule of Law”. And of course, the Asia has also a first world govt in one country at least – it is in Japan.

October 24, 2012

Justice in Democracies

There is an article in Washington Post discussing the slick running ofDrone Attacks across Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia. There may even be need to enlarge the area of operations soon as Al- Qaeda seem to be taking root in Northern Mali, Algeria and Arab Spring States. Well, the acceptance of targeted killing is justice denial but there is little doubt that when states are unruly (Somalia, Yemen) and unable, unwilling to act (Pakistan), the drone action gets justified. But will the taps ever stop now having gotten used to them. The worrying aspect is that the judgement of deciding the targets based upon the input may be not all that right always. Inputs may be tainted, compromised or from a biased informer trying to take revenge of his own enmity.

The justification for anything can be done as attack on Iraq comes to mind which was justified at the time being based on WMD presence. But, I will contrast this theme of justice denied (effectively to terrorists or damned as terrorists) to selective justice practiced in India where it came to light more prominently in last few weeks. Recently, one activist turned politician Mr Arvind Kesriwal started giving the evidences against all corrupt politicians in India irrespective of which party they belonged. First, Mr Kesriwal presented the case of making big money via the government connections against the son-in-law Mr Robert Vadra of the ruling party president Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who is proxy PM of India. The ruling party responded the only way it knows that is by keeping quiet and speaking at times as if some sin has been committed by dragging the relatives of the party post holders as they said they never bring the matters related to the relatives of opposition party in public domain however damning these may be. Next, Mr Kesriwal gave evidence against another ruling party functionary or so called Law Minister for defrauding the system systematically via a government funded NGO. Brazenly, the Law Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid refused to resign, the PM decided not to meet anyone or probe or say anything. Next Mr Kesriwal decided to present evidence against the opposition party president, Mr Gadkari.

While the ruling party dismissed all evidence against its own party holders or beneficiaries but then they decided to use the government departments to probe for cases against the opposition party president. So, this is another pattern of selective justice in so called democracy which can aptly be described sham-o-cracy, brazen-o-cracy or thug-o-cracy (Russian democracy seems more apt for that, though). So, in some ways democracies should not be talking of human values and equal justice which they often seem to champion while talking about China, Syria, Sudan, Zimbabwe etc. While, there seems no real way to nab terrorists and the only way left is to strike and eliminate them in their own currency of terror but should we continue to uphold these values for unforeseen period? It signifies the failure of reason, diplomacy, decency as the outbreak of drone wars between countries could lead to bigger catastrophes for mankind while partisan justice of India will lead to witch hunt following a regime change.

August 16, 2012

Organ Shortages Around the World And Unresponsive Governments

While the Syria Crisis is on and there are unavoidable deaths taking place not just in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places, does the mind not wander if these deaths can bring someone else to life? Definitely it does. Most govts. around the world however considers that organ donations should only come from altruism or someone’s own will. What if some one never had a time to reflect and convey the will to donate when the death came. Such a time could be when a suicide bomber brings the death to innocents. When I think, that Ajmal Kasab, the only captured terrorist of Mumbai mayhem in Nov 2008, has got no right to live, would it not be nice if after his death, his organs could be used to give life to others. After all he killed so many. But would anyone accept his organs? I personally would not mind to have his. World Medical Association thinks no prisoner can give a real consent for organ donation so it is unethical to use any prisoner’s organs. But when a condemned prisoner has died following a death sentence, why those organs of that person be wasted and not be used for someone needing them?

(Illustration courtesy: Deccan Chronicle newspaper of southern India)

An article appeared few days back in Guardian paper from UK body worth more than alive“. The article author wanted to sell all her organs and everything else but no body was interested even though she got the prospective prices for body parts as selling or trading of organs is outlawed. Perhaps, she was just testing the waters for writing an article. If, she had discovered some underground organ trade in UK, there would have been alarm in media and it would have become a big news.

In China, few days ago, a nationwide trafficking ring of organ traders was busted that included doctors . On Pakistan TV (PTV) recently, I saw a reporter doing a live sting operation and talking to a doctor(specialist in transplants) pretending to need a liver and kidney. The doctor readily agreed to arrange it for certain amount of money and was willing to meet the reporter next day. In India, last week a prominent politician died needing liver because the family of dead donor suddenly reversed the decision to donate. There was a big illegal organ trading in India in the past and it is quite likely that it must be even now. People were getting kidnapped from roadside and when waking up they were discovering they had lost their kidney. This illegal organ trade in India, China was bringing medical tourists until recently, perhaps it still does.

There is an acute shortage of organs world wide. When new treatments are evolving all the time, it seems incredible that countries are not moving fast enough to make more organs available. Every year, 1,50,000 Indians need either transplantation or dialysis Just 3,500-4 ,000 kidney transplants are performed annually in India. In UK, about 1,000 people die each year because they do not get a transplant, according to NHSBT, its nationwide transplant donor organisation. To reform the organ donation system, NHS is running a survey. After the survey, it will try to emulate Israel where they give priority to those who are already on the donors list themselves. They will also try to introduce opt out system (presumed consent) of organ donation like 17 other European countries in particular Belgium and France. US and UK currently practice opt-in system like India does. But at least there is a nationwide donor database in US and UK unlike in both India and China.

                                                                                                                                                                                 In India, Transplantation of Human Organs Act was passed in 1994 and rules were made in 1995. These rules have been recently amended in 2008. The main purpose of the act was to regulate transplants and promote deceased (cadaver) donor organ transplant. Still the bureaucratic nightmare one has to face is very frustrating. Even those who want to donate can not do so easily.    Of
course, if the donors are next of kin and from the same state then perhaps donation can be accepted without too much paper work but otherwise get NOC from respective state authorities. In accidental deaths, police has to give no-objection certificate after autopsy and dead bodies have to be sent to transplant registered hospitals. The doctors are not allowed to visit for organ harvesting . Often it is too late when the organs are collected. Organ donation does not need big funds to operate. There is a good trend setter NGO, MOHAN based in southern Indian state, Tamil Nadu, which is becoming a model for other states to follow. But it can not be a state issue. The govt. of India need to make national donor register and transplant co-ordination body and remove all bureaucratic hurdles. I wonder if it is general apathy or inaction present in all Indian policy making . It is regrettable when we know one person ‘s donation can benefit 25 others.

There is a time window for organ collection.

Hearts/Lungs

4-6 Hours

Liver/Pancreas/intestines

12-18 Hours

Kidney

36+ Hours

During all this time, if the donor and recipients have to run from pillar to post than death is the only outcome even if one is rich or powerful person.

In US, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Network (OPTN) was created by the Organ Transplant Act of 1984 by United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). Even though, it has best records for cadaver collection for opt-in countries. The rules state that all hospitals should report any death to local organ procurement organisation (OPO) which then discusses the issue of donation with the prospective donor’s family. However, the availability is uneven across all of US. In Spain, which has got even better record than US, there are dedicated referral units attached to every hospital.

In China in 2007, its Chinese Deputy Minister of Health Huang Jiefu admitted that there were 95% organs used for transplant came from executed prisoners. After a media and worldwide scrutiny, they agreed to restrict this from donors to their immediate relatives. The world Medical Association thinks it is unethical to take organs from prisoners because they can not consent organ donation of their own free will. It is said that selling violate human dignity,  eliminates the measure of true charity for making such a donation and promotes a market system which helps those who can pay. A French pharmaceutical company buys placentas from Canadian hospitals to manufacture vaccines and other blood products . In US, sometime back a family resorted to conceive and abort pregnancy in order to get tissue for their suffering child. This may be the state of things to come but should such a family be condemned or helped? Why should such universal organ shortages be there?

Not all people are born equal. Some  minds only comes once in centuries. It may be anathema for socialists and liberals to accept it, but I believe, there is a need when the human race may want to save its best people. Suppose, Einstein needed an organ tomorrow and he is the last person on the waiting list and dies. Will it not be our incompetence then not to be able to save him? I suppose not only there should be national organ banks like countries have blood banks but also these all organ banks should be linked across the world. There should be an international body like Red Cross for collecting and donating both blood and organs. Like Red Cross, it should be allowed to work even in war torn areas and exempted from attack from all sides. There simply can not remain only two sources for organ transplant– live donors and deceased ones who have already given consent. No dead bodies should be wasted – let that be of a prisoner, attack, accident victim or one due to natural death. So, opt-out or presumed consent for all countries is a must.

No religion condemns organ donation. There is nothing better than after the death of a person if part of him or her can still live. For a burial or cremation, there is no use to save an organ. So, why would anybody mind to donate is beyond me. I have several friends who all have got diabetes which is one of the main disease that may cause organ failure. So, I dread about them. In 1995, my father died. I did not know at the time, being a doctor, he had desired to donate all his organs. Because there was no national donor register in India, so no body brought this up. It was my brother, who only knew about his desire but forgot in the grief of his sudden death. We all regretted it greatly afterwards for not being able to carry out his wish.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: