Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 21st Century Challenges of Resurgent India

The pre-British, early 19th century Moghul India, described as caste-ridden, feudalistic and unmodern, was economically ahead of the rest of the world,including Britain and the US, according to S. Gururmurthy, a popular Indian columnist. The Indian economy contributed 19 per cent of the world GDP in 1830, and 18 per cent of global trade, when the share of Britain was 8 per cent in production and 9 per cent in trade, and that of US, 2 per cent in production and 1 per cent in trade. India had hundreds of thousands of village schools and had a functional literacy rate of over 30 per cent. In contrast, when the British left, India’s share of world production and trade declined to less than 1 per cent and its literacy was down to 17 per cent. And yet, in 1947, India had large Sterling reserves, no foreign debt, and Indians still had an effective presence in such trade centers as Singapore, Hong Kong, Penang, Rangoon and Colombo.

For decades after independence, however, the Indian economy remained moribund. While Nehru's Congress party government made significant investments in higher education under Education Minister Maulana Azad by establishing institutions of higher learning such as IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), the pervasive License Raj hampered the entrepreneurial spirit of India. Fortunately, that began to change with the reforms initiated in 1991 by then Indian prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh (now prime minister) in response to a balance-of-payments crisis. These reforms limited the scope of the License Raj (investment, industrial and import licensing) and ended many public monopolies, allowing automatic approval of foreign direct investment in many sectors. Subsequent governments of both major parties sustained and extended the reform process and accelerated India's economic growth.

Early investments by Nehru administration are now beginning to pay dividends. India has a large pool of English speaking college graduates. The nation is second only to the United States in production of doctors, engineers, and PhDs. Many of the world's top CEOs and business leaders are alumni of India's prestigious institutes of technology and management. With the large presence of IIT graduates in places such as Silicon Valley, India has become a highly respected brand name as a source of top talent around the world. What began as the massive but temporary Y2K work for India around the turn of the century, the country has now become a preferred destination for high-tech and business process outsourcing from the United States and Europe.

The economic reforms in India have unleashed the talent and the energies of its people at home and abroad to help build its economy and restore its place in the world as a major force. Many entrepreneurs of Indian origin (NRIs) are now setting up shops in India to do heavy-duty research and development as well as some manufacturing. With them, they are bringing US foreign direct investments ($13b in 2007 and growing) from large investors and Fortune 500 corporations to their home country, which helps create jobs and sustain the virtuous cycle of intellectual and economic development. Last year, the Indian GDP grew 9% and it is expected to grow another 7% this year, in spite of the current global economic crisis.

A recent Indian government advertisement in Fortune magazine explains the reason why India's economy has remained relatively unscathed by the global economic crisis. It says: India has taken a generally conservative approach to globalization, moving slowly to open its markets to the rest of the world. Moreover, the domestic Indian market has remained strong. The ad quotes Ron somers, president of US-India Business Council, as saying, "India's internal market is so massive that it can sustain shocks better than many countries." The fact is that India's economy does not depend much on exports to the rest of the world. It is, therefore, relatively less connected to the problems in the developed world. In fact, it stands to benefit from a dramatic reduction in commodity prices, such as oil, due to the world-wide economic slowdown.

While the Indian advertisement and government leaders present a very rosy picture of India's prospects, it is important for Indians and others to understand that there are significant risks in India. For example, the extreme Hindu Nationalists are continuing to stir up trouble in many parts of India. According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence has affected 14 districts out of of 30 and 300 Villages in the Indian state of Orissa, 4,400 houses burnt, 50,000 homeless, 59 killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 priests/pastors/nuns injured, 18,000 men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 churches destroyed and 13 schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in refugee camps.

People like Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, BJP leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi represent the ugly underbelly of Indian democracy and a threat to India's secular constitution. Modi is currently in power in Gujarat, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his participation in 2002 anti-Muslim riots resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims. Mr. Advani has been held responsible for the destruction of Babri mosque and subsequent anti-Muslim riots. Mr. Thackeray is considered responsible for major anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai and continues to terrorize any one who disagrees with him.

The BBC reported yesterday on the "Hindu Terrorist" plot involving Indian military officers, a female priest and a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India).

The report said: It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" came to be used widely. That was because the state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.

One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith. So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.

According to an Indian writer Yoginder Sikand, some in India's Muslim minority have been radicalized by the actions of the Hindutva groups and their allies in the state and local governments. America's 'global war on terror' has provided a convenient cover to these Hindu groups and to fiercely anti-Muslim elements within the Indian state machinery to launch a concerted campaign of terror against Muslims. Large numbers of Muslims in various parts of India continue to languish in jails on trumped-up terror charges, suffering brutal torture as well as routine insults to their religion by police officials.

A rudimentary study of world history suggests that if the Indian political system can not find a way to marginalize and isolate Thackeray, Advani, Modi and other fanatics like them, India will continue to face threats to its secular constitution, its political stability, and its economic growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency emanating from the state of Chhattisgarh the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence in recent years as much as the bomb attacks in major cities have. These attacks are routinely blamed on Muslim militants. How long will Maoists remain confined to the rural areas will depend on the response of the Indian government to the insurgents who exploit huge and growing economic disparities in Indian society.

In 2006 a commission appointed by the government revealed that Muslims in India are worse educated and less likely to find employment than low-caste Hindus. Muslim isolation and despair is compounded by what B Raman, a hawkish security analyst, was moved after the most recent attacks to describe as the "inherent unfairness of the Indian criminal justice system".

According to Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

Based on a quick review of India's current status and great potential, including its strengths and weaknesses, I strongly believe India is clearly on the road to greatness it deserves with its rich heritage as one of the oldest civilizations on earth and the world's largest modern democracy. India's challenge will continue to be in how well it negotiates the obstacles and potholes created by internal strife from growing religious and ethnic fanaticism, ongoing regional insurgencies, and increasing economic disparity.


libertarian said...

Great post Riaz. The historical perspective is important. Also the first time I've heard about Maulana Azad fostering the IIT's - did not hear about it when I was there - the talk was always about Nehru's vision.

The threat - especially the religious one is well-framed. As a member of a minority community (and married to an Indian from another minority community) I understand it cannot be glossed over. I'm not sure it is an existential threat - you are certainly not making that point - but it is a sometimes ugly reality. Ahmedabad in 2002 was not the only blot. Delhi in 1984 was much worse. They are instances of the state-backed mass murder - much worse than the garden-variety communal riot. Hopefully, we'll never do something like that again. On the bright side several attempts to spark communal riots (bombs, desecrating places of worship) have ended in dismal failure in the recent past.

A rising tide raises all ships. A giant Indian success means good things for itself and its neighbors. Hopefully we'll live to see a South Asian Federation that is the envy of the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a post I wrote for this blog on Nehru and Maulana Azad:

"In spite of his deeply held socialist beliefs, Nehru was a pragmatic leader and believed in India's industrialization. He recognized that India
needed a strong higher education system to support industrialization.
The renowned IIT system was, therefore, started in 1951 by Prime
Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad with the first IIT in Kharagpur inaugurated by Maulana Azad on Aug 18, 1951. Maulana Azad was also the person who brought Birla and Nehru together after Liaquat Ali Khan as Finance Minister in 1938 started investigating Birla for his cash contributions to the Congress
party. Recognizing the contributions of Birla and Tata to Congress in the struggle for India's independence, Nehru gave special treatment to
both of the industrialists and asked them to help in India's

I wish we had a Maulana Azad in Pakistan in the early days of its existence. He was a prolific writer, a major scholar and a great visionary. Unfortunately, his contributions have not been appropriately recognized in South Asia.

libertarian said...

Unfortunately, his contributions have not been appropriately recognized in South Asia.

Agree. In the area of statesmanship, seems like Pakistan was at the shallow end of the gene pool. The one great statesman - Jinnah - exited way too early. It would have been very interesting to see how Pakistan evolved had Jinnah lived as long as Nehru did.

Riaz Haq said...

The BBC is now reporting on the "Hindu Terrorist" plot involving Indian military officers, a female priest and a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India). The report says: It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" came to be used widely.

That was because the state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.


One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith.

So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.

libertarian said...

The BBC is now reporting on the "Hindu Terrorist" ...

BBC has to sell its stories. They took their cue from the left-leaning press in India sensationalizing minor incidents. Truth is that Hinduism has a far more tolerant world-view than any of the Abrahamic religions - sarv dharma sambhav (all religions are equal). The facts bear this out: non-Hindu religions have seen an increase in the share of the Indian religious pie since 1947 - not just absolute number increases. There seems only one way to reconcile that with an 80% Hindu majority.

My faith in the good sense of the majority is intact - notwithstanding Modi and Thackeray. I don't agree with clubbing Advani with the other two.

Anonymous said...

Her detention shocked members of the faith.
Sorry to nitpick..There is no "faith" concept in "Sanathana dharma" or what is crudely called "hinduism". Its based on "Ista devta"(choice of path(god..crudely)) since all path lead to The One. Again, in case of tribals and all, they are nature worshippers which is the original "hinduism concept"(temple worship is just a few thousand years old..with code brought out by Adi Sankaracharya). Abinav Bharat "allegedly(ATS)" also planned taking out some top RSS leaders, so its not pure black and white thing. I personally sympathize with this new terror group, if the allegation is true. This will shake up some sleeping politicians for good. The ATS allegations leaks are difficult even for a bollywood script, i will keep my fingers crossed for court to sift through the evidence. Mumbai ATS is a very professional force(they forced Dawood to flee to Pak for his life), so if this allegations are false, it will hit their credibility hard big time.
just my thoughts..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece Shabana Azmi wrote for Hindustan Times on Aug 24, 2008:

Things very rarely catch me by surprise any more. Yet I am taken completely unawares by the viciousness of the attack against me for a remark I made in a recent television interview that I was denied a house in Mumbai because I am a Muslim.

I am being called ungrateful, wretched and even a liar. But these are the same people who applauded me and called me a hero when I took on Imam Bukhari.

To read the rest, please visit

Anonymous said...

If you care, in Mumbai and in communally sensitive areas, Hindus rent out places only to Hindus and Muslims only to Muslims. While rejecting people of other religion, brokers always mention that it is for their own safety, coz when pot boils, there will be less chance for either community to escape riot mob. This was shown in an NDTV(or HT..not sure) hidden cam expose. So this not a case of "Muslim victimization". Its just people being cautious. This is a total non-issue.

Riaz Haq said...

It's become fashionable to compare India and China. Here's an interesting take by Sashi Tharoor titled "India is Not China":

It has become rather fashionable these days to speak of India and China in the same breath. These are the two big countries said to be taking over the world, the new contenders for global eminence after centuries of Western domination, the Oriental answer to generations of Occidental economic success. Some even speak of "Chindia", as if the two are joined at the hip in the international imagination.

But in case anyone wanted confirmation that such twinning is, to put it mildly, premature, one has only to look at the medals tally at the Beijing Olympics. China proudly ranked first, with 51 gold medals and a total of 100. You have to strain your eyes past such step-children of the global family as Jamaica, Belarus, war-torn Georgia, collapsing Zimbabwe and even what used to be called Outer Mongolia before stumbling across India in 50th place, with precisely three medals, one gold and two bronze.

This is not, in fact, a surprise. Whereas China has set about systematically striving for Olympic success since it re-entered global competition after years of isolation, India has remained complacent about its lack of sporting prowess. Where China lobbied for and won the right to host the Olympics within two decades of its return to the Games, India rested on its laurels after hosting the Asian Games in Delhi in 1982, so that it is now considered further behind in the competition for Olympic host-hood than it was two decades ago. Where China embarked on "Project 119," a program devised specifically to boost the country's Olympic medal standings (the number 119 refers to the golds awarded at the Sydney Games of 2000 in such medal-laden sports as track and field, swimming, rowing, sailing and canoeing), Indians wondered if they would be able to crack the magic ceiling of two, the highest number of medals the country has ever won at this quadrennial exercise in international sporting machismo. Where China, seeing the number of medals awarded in kayaking, decided to create a team to master a sport hitherto unknown in the Middle Kingdom, India has not even lobbied successfully for the inclusion in the Games of the few sports it does play well (kabbadi, for instance, a form of tag-team wrestling, or polo, or cricket, which was played in the Olympics of 1900 and has been omitted since). Where China has maintained its dominance in table-tennis and badminton, and developed new strengths in non-traditional sports like rowing and shooting, India has seen its once-legendary invincibility in field hockey fade with the introduction of Astroturf, to the point where its team even failed to qualify for Beijing this year.

Forget "Chindia" - the two countries barely belong in the same sporting sentence.

What's happened at the Olympics speaks to a basic difference in the two countries' systems. It's the creative chaos of all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood versus the perfectly-choreographed precision of the Beijing Opening Ceremony. The Chinese, as befits a Communist autocracy, approached the task of dominating the Olympics with top-down military discipline. The objective was determined, a program ("Project 119") drawn up, the considerable resources of the state attached to it, state-of-the-art technology acquired and world-class foreign coaches imported. India, by contrast, approached these Olympics as it had every other, with its usual combination of amiable amateurism, bureaucratic ineptitude, half-hearted experiment and shambolic organization.

That's simply the way we are. If China wants to build a new six-lane expressway, it can bulldoze its way past any number of villages in its path; in India, if you want to widen a two-lane road, you could be tied up in court for a dozen years over compensation entitlements. In China, national priorities are established by the Government and then funded by the state; in India, priorities emerge from seemingly endless discussions and arguments amongst myriad interests, and funds have to be found where they might. China's budget for preparing its sportspersons for these Games alone probably exceeded India's expenditure on all Olympic training in the last sixty years.

But where China's state-owned enterprises remain the most powerful motors of the country's development, India's private sector, ducking around governmental obstacles and bypassing the stifling patronage of the state, has transformed the fortunes of the Indian people. So it proved again in the Olympics: the wrestlers, boxers, runners, tennis players and weightlifters who made up the bulk of the Indian contingent, accompanied by the inevitable retinue of officials, returned with just two bronzes amongst them, while India's only gold - in shooting - was won by a young entrepreneur with a rifle range in his own backyard and no help from the state whatsoever. Young Abhinav Bindra is, at 25, the CEO of a high-tech firm, a self-motivated sharpshooter who financed his own equipment and training, and an avid blogger. He is, in short, a 21st century Indian. At one level, it is not surprising that he should have won India's first individual gold in any Olympics since a transplanted Englishman competed in Indian colors in the 1900 Games. India is the land of individual excellence despite the limitations of the system; in China, individual success is the product of the system.

Indians excel wherever individual talent is given free rein. The country has produced world-class computer scientists, mathematicians, biotech researchers, film-makers and novelists, but the only Indian sportsmen who have worn the title of world champion in recent years have been a billiards cueist and a chess grandmaster. Come up with a challenge that requires high levels of organization, strict discipline, sophisticated equipment, systematic training and elastic budgets, and Indians quail. This remains as true inside the Olympics stadium as outside it. When China built the Three Gorges dam, it created a 660-kilometer long reservoir that necessitated the displacement of a staggering 2 million people, all accomplished in 15 years without a fuss in the interests of generating electricity; when India attempted its Narmada Dam project, aiming to bring irrigation, drinking water and power to millions, it has spent 34 years (so far) fighting environmental groups, human rights activists, and advocates for the displaced all the way to the Supreme Court, while still being thwarted in the streets by the protestors from non-governmental organizations like the Narmada Bachao Andolan (the Save Narmada Movement). That is how it should be; India is a fractious democracy, China is not. China will win the Olympic medals for many games to come. India, perhaps, might win some hearts.

Anonymous said...


curse of india, is that we donot know to work as a team. Individually they could be great achievers. As you have put it correctly there is a price of democracy, which india pays and it is fine.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times report today about growing Maoist insurgency in India:

India’s Maoist rebels are now present in 20 states and have evolved into a potent and lethal insurgency. In the last four years, the Maoists have killed more than 900 Indian security officers, a figure almost as high as the more than 1,100 members of the coalition forces killed in Afghanistan during the same period.

If the Maoists were once dismissed as a ragtag band of outdated ideologues, Indian leaders are now preparing to deploy nearly 70,000 paramilitary officers for a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign to hunt down the guerrillas in some of the country’s most rugged, isolated terrain.

For India, the widening Maoist insurgency is a moment of reckoning for the country’s democracy and has ignited a sharp debate about where it has failed. In the past, India has tamed some secessionist movements by coaxing rebel groups into the country’s big-tent political process. The Maoists, however, do not want to secede or be absorbed. Their goal is to topple the system.

Once considered Robin Hood figures, the Maoists claim to represent the dispossessed of Indian society, particularly the indigenous tribal groups, who suffer some of the country’s highest rates of poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality. Many intellectuals and even some politicians once sympathized with their cause, but the growing Maoist violence has forced a wrenching reconsideration of whether they can still be tolerated.

“The root of this is dispossession and deprivation,” said Ramachandra Guha, a prominent historian based in Bangalore. “The Maoists are an ugly manifestation of this. This is a serious problem that is not going to disappear.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting commentary by Kapil Komireddi published in the Guardian earlier this year:

Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984).

For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.

The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.

The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognise and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting revelations about Gandhi's attitude toward women, as published in the Guardian newspaper:

During Gandhi's time as a dissident in South Africa, he discovered a male youth had been harassing two of his female followers. Gandhi responded by personally cutting the girls' hair off, to ensure the "sinner's eye" was "sterilised". Gandhi boasted of the incident in his writings, pushing the message to all Indians that women should carry responsibility for sexual attacks upon them. Such a legacy still lingers. In the summer of 2009, colleges in north India reacted to a spate of sexual harassment cases by banning women from wearing jeans, as western-style dress was too "provocative" for the males on campus.

Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of "shame". Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelling Indian women who used them as whores.

Like all men who wage a doomed war with their own sexual desires, Gandhi's behaviour around females would eventually become very, very odd. He took to sleeping with naked young women, including his own great-niece, in order to "test" his commitment to celibacy. The habit caused shock and outrage among his supporters. God knows how his wife felt.

Gandhi cemented, for another generation, the attitude that women were simply creatures that could bring either pride or shame to the men who owned them. Again, the legacy lingers. India today, according to the World Economic Forum, finds itself towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. Indian social campaigners battle heroically against such patriarchy. They battle dowry deaths. They battle the honour killings of teenage lovers. They battle Aids. They battle female foeticide and the abandonment of new-born girls.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the latest report on India's right to food bill:

The members have expresses their shock by the EGoM draft bill which does not address any of the nutritional needs of the people. This draft is not only a betrayal of the people of India but also is in contempt of the letter and spirit of the orders of the Supreme Court in the right to food case. This draft completely ignores the multiple entitlements which constitute the right to food of all ages of people and all sections of society including vulnerable groups.

The single entitlement proposed by the EGoM in the name of food security of the people by provisioning for only 25 kgs per household is in fact less than what is the current entitlement of 35 kgs which has been mandated by Supreme Court orders. A legislation that promises a “right” but in reality reduces the existing entitlement is completely unacceptable to the people of India and an affront on their dignity.

To make matters worse, the proposed Bill seeks to restrict this “entitlement” further to just BPL families (as per Planning Commission estimates). As you are undoubtedly aware, child malnutrition rates in India at 46% is amongst the highest in the world, and twice the rate of child malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover we have an unconsciably and shamefully high maternal mortality, a large part of which is attributable to the malnutrition amongst women.

Nothing short of a universal entitlement for the Public Distribution System would suffice to change the existing situation. Every adult resident of the country must be covered by the PDS with entitlements of 14 kgs of cereals (including nutritious millets) per month at Rs 2 per kilogram, 1.5 kilogram of pulses at Rs 20 per kg and 800 gms of cooking oil at Rs 35 per kg with children getting half the entitlements and the ration cards made in the name of female head of the household.
A universal entitlement for food is the only way that the country can ensure food security for all.

Replacing food entitlements by cash will not bring about any food security to individuals instead the entire purpose of ensuring food and nutritional security will be defeated.

India is reeling under the worst food inflation in the last three decades and are dismayed at your Government's refusal to bring down prices. At such a time this bill makes a further mockery of growing hunger and malnutrition.

People are perturbed by the fact that the announcement of an inadequate and exclusionary PDS entitlement by the EGoM happened just when the Justice Wadhwa Committee report, which talks of an expansion of the PDS entitlement, was submitted to the Supreme Court. The timing chosen by the EGoM seems to be an attempt to sabotage the Supreme Court proceedings in the right to food case.

The multiple legal entitlements guaranteed by the Supreme Court of India already grant the right of 35kgs of food grains per household along with other entitlements such as reduced prices for the PDS grain under Antyodaya Anna Yojana forvulnerable sections of society, supplementary nutrition for infants and young children under ICDS, maternity entitlements under NMBS and Janini Suraksha Yojana, school mid-day meals, old age pensions and addressing needs of the homeless and urban poor, streetchildren, single women and infants under six months.
The members have urge PM to intervene immediately to ensure that the National Food Security Act creates multiple entitlements, as outlined above. The Act must also create an enabling environment for promoting food production by prioritising people’s control over productive resources including land, forests and water. No diversion of these resources must be allowed as large sections of the people of this country only survive on access to these natural resources.

Riaz Haq said...

India(49) has more than twice as many billionaires as Japan (22) which is a far richer country.

Indian and UNICEF officials concur that Indians are much worse off than Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in basic nutrition and sanitation.

Meanwhile, India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement in the area despite big money being spent on it, says Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed.

India might be an emerging economic power, but it is way behind Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan in providing basic sanitation facilities, a key reason behind the death of 2.1 million children under five in the country.Lizette Burgers, chief water and environment sanitation of the UNICEF, said India is making progress in providing sanitation but it lags behind most of the other countries in South Asia.

Most of the 8-9% growth has fattened the bottom line of a small percentage of India's population, with the rest getting poorer. India's Gini Index has increased from about 32 to 36 from 2000 to 2007.

India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004, according to official estimates released on Sunday. The poverty rate has risen to 37.2 percent of the population from 27.5 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.

The rising gap between abject poverty and obscene wealth in India is fueling anger, and insurgencies such as the Maoists'.

Riaz Haq said...

Chairman of the UCPN (Maoist) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” on Saturday warned India not to interfere in Nepal's internal matters, according to a report in the Hindu:

Addressing thousands of party cadre here on the occasion of May Day, Mr. Prachanda said: “If India thinks that by backing Madhav Kumar Nepal, it will make everything all right; if it thinks that it now holds the command of Nepal Army and the Army would do whatever it says; and that the Maoists want to kill Nepali people, then the Indian leaders are making a mistake. We appeal them not to make this mistake.”

He said the party cadre had gathered to protect Nepal's sovereignty. The Maoists say the CPN (UML)-led government is “remote-controlled” and is a “puppet” of India.
Stance changed

Mr. Prachanda said the government's stance changed after Mr. Nepal's visit to Thimphu, Bhutan, where Mr. Nepal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He pointed out a recent announcement that the Nepal Army could be mobilised to control the Maoist movement. “I believe you would not listen to a voice that came redirected from Thimphu,” he told the gathering.

Mayraj said...

The biggest flaw in democracy is that there is a tendency for the elected representatives' interests and those of the public will oppose each other. Elected representatives whether they are in a developing country (where this shows up quicker) or a developed country can act to serve own interests first. For the public's interests to be served the public needs to be informed, educated and not too busy to impose their will on their representative not just at election time but between elections. Also their needs to be proper money management no matter whose interests are to be served.

When this does not happen, elected reps will run country into the ground. Has happened in US, UK, Greece, Pakistan,. It is hoppening in Germany in slow motion. and when the population ages and expects govt help is when it looks like there will be no money in the till or maybe before if the govt owned banks acting as hedge funds lose big!. In India it will happen as soon as delicate balance of debt bought by locals is disturbed. This happened with oil crisis when India sought IMF help. Can happen again for many reasons. Anyway, due to farmers misuse of water and fertilizers means they will come banging on govt door for aid and not amount of debt will be bought by Indian public to make up for that need! Then the discipline of the bond market, being imposed on Greece will lead to same debacle.

In India IMF intervention meant market was opened and India became this outsourcing hub. But, this small change will not be enough to satisfy angry masses needs.

My assumption was Germany was immune to US, UK developing/ country problem. But this revealed I was deluded.. Yeow! And Germany is the linchpin of EU and Euro. How can Merkel be stern with Greece and not with own states and state owned gamblers? Of course all German parties are guilty, so maybe they cannot see what their own behavior has wrought until it smacks them down.
Pakistan had major problems with its nationalized banks. I never dreamed that Germany would show that state owned banks can make a mess in a country as evolved as Germany.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on India's state-owned banks discriminating against Muslims:

State-owned banks in India have been accused of discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.

India's minorities watchdog has received a record number of complaints from Muslims who say they have been prevented from opening bank accounts.

India's Muslim community is among the poorest in the country.

Some bankers say it is not so much their religious background, but their economic status that makes it hard for Muslims to get banking facilities.

The National Commission of Minorities says that there has been a 100% increase in the number of complaints it has received over the past year from Muslims who say they are being prevented from opening accounts in state-run banks.

Reports say the worst case took place in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where some 90,000 Muslim students were unable to open accounts to deposit scholarship cheques given to them by the government.

Official reports frequently put Muslims at the bottom of India's social and economic ladder - even beneath than low-caste Hindus.

Their economic status means they are often excluded by private banks, which prefer more well-to-do clients.

Already a number of reports have suggested that India's Muslims fare poorly when it comes to getting access to quality education or employment opportunities.

This latest finding will add more pressure on a government which is seen as doing very little for the country's largest minority group.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on more arrests linked to Hindutva terror:

NEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday claimed a major breakthrough in its probe against the Hindu terror web blamed for devastating attacks on Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid, the Sufi shrine at Ajmer and earlier at Malegaon, with the arrest of a senior Abhinav Bharat ideologue who was hiding in a Hardwar ashram under the guise of a Hindu seer.

The arrest of Swami Aseemanand (59), named by CBI as an accused in Mecca Masjid terror attacks, will help the agency join the dots between Ajmer, Mecca and Malegaon as investigators believe he scripted all three attacks.

The agency is also learnt to have confiscated several documents and has telephone phone tap transcripts that proved the role of Aseemanand and his fellow plotters from Abhinav Bharat.

The CBI termed the arrest as a major catch that could lead to two absconding accused in the case — Sunil Dangre and Ramchandra Kalsangra. There is a reward of Rs 10 lakh each for the two. Aseemanand, a botany graduate from Hoogly in West Bengal, has been variously known as Jatin Chatterjee and Naba Kumar Sarkar. CBI said that he was living under an assumed name and sleuths found a passport issued by RPO Kolkata, a ration card and an election card issued by Hardwar authorities from his possession.

CBI brought the fake seer to Delhi and produced him before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ajay Pandey at the Tis Hazari court which allowed the plea of CBI to take him to a court in Hyderabad within 48 hours. He will be produced there on Sunday. CBI sources said they had informed officials of the National Investigative Agency and Rajasthan ATS for a joint interrogation as there several contradictions were likely to appear during his examination. His name also finds mentions in the chargesheet filed by Rajasthan ATS in Ajmer blasts cases.

He has been on the run after the arrest of Malegaon terror attack suspect Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in 2008. The CBI and Maharashtra ATS had carried out searches in 2009-10 at various places in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat after receiving information about his presence.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on the deprivation of Muslims and Dalits in Gujarat:

NEW DELHI: Muslims in Gujarat have a long way to go. A new study shows there's deep-rooted poverty and income inequality among the state's lower castes and Muslims. The latter, in particular, fare poorly on parameters of poverty, hunger, education and vulnerability on security issues — nowhere benefiting from the feelgood growth story of CM Narendra Modi's state.

In the study titled "Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials", economist Abusaleh Shariff used the NSSO, NCAER's human development data and the Sachar Committee report, among others, to tabulate the status of Gujarat's Muslims. "Estimation of poverty by social group is rare, but the NCAER survey data, and NSSO, allow for such estimates," says Shariff, also chief economist at National Council of Applied Economic research (NCAER).

Disturbingly, and surprisingly, says Shariff, Gujarat's levels of hunger are high alongside Orissa and Bihar, with only Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh having higher hunger levels. Urban poverty among the state's Muslims is eight times more than high-caste Hindus, 50% more than OBCs.

Muslims are educationally deprived: despite 75% enrolment of Muslim children in primary school, a mere 26% reach matriculation. This is against 79% enrolment of 'others except SCs/ STs', 41% of who make it to matriculate levels.

Shariff points out that while FDIs and investments are channeled into the organized sector, self-employment — where most Muslims make their living — is "not a growing sector". Says Shariff, "Income growth in self-employment has only marginally increased compared to other sectors in Gujarat."

The study says that Gujarat's is hunting ground "for NRI and corporate politics", and that "the FDI hype" is designed to facilitate tax subsidies, cheap licensing and under-priced land.

Concluding that Muslims in Gujarat face high levels of discrimination and deprivation, Shariff adds, "Even on roll-out of NREGA, Gujarat is at the bottom of the pile."

The study is a first in series of studies of various states on similar lines, says Manzoor Alam of the Institute of Objective Studies that organised its presentation. The purpose is to cut through rhetoric and evidence the state of Muslims across states. "We get lost in the talk on 'appeasement'. It's important to see the actual status of Muslims. So, Muslims know where they stand, and it will help governments formulate policy," says Alam.

State of Gujarat Muslims
* 60% live in urban areas; their poverty is eight times more than high-caste Hindus, 50% more than OBCs
* 12% have bank accounts. But their share of total loan amounts is low at 2.6
* Gujarat among worst performers in NREGA-implementation. Only Rs 540 million distributed at a wage rate of Rs 50. Only 4.9 rural households participated.

(Source: Relative Development of Gujarat and Socio-Religious Differentials by Abusaleh Shariff)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC story on damning testimony against Narendra Modi by an Indian intelligence official:

A senior police officer's sworn statement to India's Supreme Court alleges that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence in 2002.

Sanjiv Bhatt says he attended a meeting at which Mr Modi is alleged to have said that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.

Mr Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.
'Vent their anger'

The riots began after 60 Hindu pilgrims died when a train carrying them was set on fire.

Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau during the 2002 riots.

In a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, he said that his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials.

He also alleges that, in a meeting in the night before the riots, Mr Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following an attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

The Gujarat government has responded to the allegations by saying they have already testified before a special panel investigating the riots and will wait for the court's verdict.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Tehelka story titled Hindutva Lab 2.0 on rising Hindutva threat in Karnataka:

IS KARNATAKA the new Gujarat, the second “laboratory of Hindutva” for the BJP and the broader Sangh Parivar? As the BJP government in the state enters the final year of its first term in power — it had earlier ruled in alliance with the JD(S) — that disturbing question comes up again and again. Behind the morality and hypocrisy, the humbug and corruption that the BJP establishment in Bengaluru has been charged with is a harder, harsher truth: the scary distortion of an entire society.
Take a small example. On 22 January, there was uproar in Uppanangadi, a hamlet near Mangalore. Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt, a senior RSS leader known for his proximity to Sadananda Gowda and his predecessor BS Yeddyurappa, was addressing a crowd and resorted to extreme and undignified imagery. “Lift the veils of Muslim women,” Bhatt told the throng, “and glimpse what they have to offer.” His listeners cheered; policemen listened too, but strolled casually, as if nothing were happening.

Soon after, the local minorities — a mix of Muslim and Catholic organisations — approached the police, which reluctantly filed an FIR against Bhatt. Yet it refused to arrest him, arguing there was no basis for taking him into custody. Rather, as if to compensate, the local police then filed an FIR against the president of the Muslim Central Committee, Mohammad Masood, under Section 153(a) of the Indian Penal Code — “Promoting communal enmity between classes” — as well as Section 505(2) — “Making statements that create or promote communal enmity”.
In 2009, Sitaram was arrested when a case was filed against him for defamation. Twenty-five policemen turned up and surrounded him. “It seemed like they had come to arrest a terrorist,” he exclaims. His fault was he had written about the exploits of a local Bajrang Dal leader.

Sitaram points to the newspapers stacked in his office. Picking up some of them at random, from the previous month’s pile, almost every day one finds mention of an attack on Muslims and Christians, on churches and mosques. Sitaram is distraught: “They go around shouting ‘Pehle qasaai, phir Isaai’ — First butchers (Muslims), then Christians.” According to official figures, a church has been attacked almost once every 10 days in the past three years. In some cases, the very presence of a Muslim boy with a Hindu girl has caused a riot.

The opposition to Hindu girl-Muslim boy romance is part of a peculiar phenomenon that the Sangh Parivar labels “love jihad”. This paranoia began in Kerala and alleges that Muslim men are being trained to woo and then indoctrinate Hindu girls, to win converts to Islam.

Bhatt is an exponent of theories of love jihad. In December 2011, the Hindu Nagarika Samiti held a massive protest meeting in Sullia, where Bhatt attacked the police for its supposed anti-Hindu sentiment and spoke of how love jihad, terrorism and cow slaughter were rampant in the state.

He was joined by others, notably Satyajit Suratkal, regional convener of the Hindu Jagran Vedike, who said: “Whenever the Muslims provoked us, we have given a suitable response. If they want more, then there might be a recurrence of earlier happenings. If the police join hands with traitors we will teach them a lesson too.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Mail piece on the economic history of the world since Jesus:

A stunning chart that shows the entire economic history of the world's most powerful countries over the past 2,000 years has been released by investment bank JP Morgan.

Viewed as a whole, the graph shows the creeping restoration of Asian economic supremacy as the rest-of-the-world catches up to the West and its levels of industrialisation.

Charting the globe's 10 major powers since the time of Jesus, the graph can be broken down by simply applying a cut off point at around the 1800 AD mark.

That was the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the U.K. and when taken into account, everything to the left of that mark can bee seen as economic power through sheer size of population and to the right is the effect of mass production on a country's economic output.

One feature of the simple graph is to show that up until around 1500 AD India and China accounted for between 50 and 60 percent of the world's economy until the late 18th century when the Industrial Revolution rendered countries with large populations, just countries with the largest populations.

In 1 AD, China had a population of almost 60 million people, while the United States had a population of 680,000.

It took the United States 1800 years to overtake China's economic output.

But by 1950, even though the U.S had a population three times less than China, it's economic output was three times as great.

Additionally, in 1913, China had a population of 437 million and the U.K. had a population of 45 million, but their economic output was almost identical.

Indeed, when the graph is broken down into its constituent parts, the analysis of what happened in Europe and later the United States shows that the Western lead was taken even before 1800.

For the majority of human history the most important factor in economic growth was the relationship between births and deaths.

If there were too many births then there was not enough food to go around and without mass production techniques people went without until there was starvation or disease.

After a higher death rate, a stable supply of food was re-established, goods were shared among a smaller group of people and everyone felt and became richer until the cycle occurred again.

However, between 1000 AD and 1500 AD, wages, or GDP per capita had started to slowly rise as small economies of scale were made in agrarian organisation and moderate technological advances were made which improved the quality and length of life.

If a similar graph is opened up to show the world from Jesus to Napoleon, the slow building growth especially of Europe is clear to see, even without factoring in the Industrial Revolution.

However, if the graph is expanded to show the world from 1500 to World War I then the effect of mechanisation on the planets economic growth is clear.

Theories about why the Industrial Revolution occurred in the U.K. and then Northern Europe include the dense, localised population, easy availability of natural resources and the mild climate that exists around the North Sea and the U.K. for cotton spinning.
As the world escaped the trap foreseen by Thomas Malthus of a rising population never matched by food production, population and GDP exploded.

The industrial revolution changed the Malthusian Trap leading to a situation today where the U.S. accounts for five percent of the world population and 21 percent of its GDP whereas Asia (minus Japan) has 60 percent of the world's population and only 30 percent of its GDP.