Thursday, January 26, 2017

India Republic Day: Largest Democracy Tops World Slavery Charts

India, often described as the world's largest democracy, is home of 18.3 million slaves, the highest number of people trapped in modern slavery anywhere in the world, according to Global Slavery Index 2016 report.

Global Slavery Chart
The report says ten countries with the largest estimated absolute numbers of people in modern slavery include some of the world’s most populous countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Russia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia.

In terms of percentages, North Korea (4.37%) tops the slavery list followed by Uzbekistan (3.97%), Cambodia (1.6%), India (1.4%), Qatar (1.3%), Pakistan (1.1%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.1%), Sudan (1.1%), Iraq (1.1%), Afghanistan (1.1%) and Yemen (1.1%).

The Global Slavery Index defines modern slavery as a situation where “a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception, with treatment akin to a farm animal.” Others in the category of modern slavery include victims of human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.

In addition to the 18.3 million slaves in India, there are hundreds of millions of Indians trapped in abject poverty in one of the most unequal societies in the world today.  Depth of deprivation in India can best be judged by Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that comprehends 10 indicators, with equal weighting for education, health and living standards. Indian farmers are among the worst affected with a farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes. An OXFAM report on inequality released by the World Economic Forum 2017 at Davos, Switzerland, said the richest 1% of Indians own 58% of the country's wealth.

In spite of India's serious socioeconomic problems of slavery and poverty, the country now boats the world's third largest military budget. India's leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi is flexing his nation's military muscles with nuclear missiles, fighter jets, attack submarines and helicopters on Republic Day celebration in New Delhi today.

While India ranks 3rd in the world in military spending, it spends just 0.72% of GDP on social safety net,  ranking lower than its neighbors Pakistan (1.89%) and Bangladesh (1.09%), according to the World Bank.



In the new Trumpian world of "alternative facts", India stands out as a leader in "post-truth" era described by Indian writer Ranjit Goswami, Vice Chancellor of RK University in Gujarat, India. Here's an excerpt of what he recently wrote in "The Conversation" journal:


"....as the US and UK wake up to this new (post-truth) era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy (India) has been living in a post-truth world for years. From education to health care and the economy, particularly its slavish obsession with GDP, India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics. India’s post-truth era cannot be traced to a single year – its complexities go back generations. But the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 can be marked as a significant inflection point. Ever since, the country has existed under majoritarian rule with widely reported discrimination against minorities. India’s version of post-truth is different to its Western counterparts due to the country’s socioeconomic status; its per capita nominal income is less than 3% of that of the US (or 4% of that of the UK). Still, post-truth is everywhere in India. It can be seen in our booming Wall Street but failing main streets, our teacher-less schools and our infrastructure-less villages. We have the ability to influence the world without enjoying good governance or a basic living conditions for so many at home. Modi’s government has shown how key decisions can be completely divorced from the everyday lives of Indian citizens, but spun to seem like they have been made for their benefit. Nowhere is this more evident than with India’s latest demonetization drive, which plunged the country into crisis, against the advice of its central bank, and hit poorest people the hardest. Despite the levels of extreme poverty in India, when it comes to social development, the cult of growth dominates over the development agenda, a trend that Modi has exacerbated, but that started with past governments. The dichotomy of India’s current post-truth experience was nicely summed up by Arun Shourie, an influential former minister from Modi’s own party. He disagrees with the prime minister, just as many Republicans share sharp differences of opinion with President Trump. Shourie said the policies of the current administration were equal to his predecessors’ policies, plus a cow."

https://youtu.be/OzdGIgV7edE




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Inequality in India and Pakistan

India's Military Budget is World's 3rd Biggest 

Modi's Demonetization Disaster

India Home to World's Largest Population of Poor, Hungry and Illiterates

Abject Poverty in India

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Farmer Suicides Continue Unabated in India

17 comments:

Dawood M. said...

Reminds me of an old quote:)

" What has the color of Alice's hair got to do with price of tea in China"

Riaz Haq said...

Dawood: "Reminds me of an old quote:) " What has the color of Alice's hair got to do with price of tea in China""

So parading expensive military hardware as the 3rd biggest military spender on Republic Day is all about defending India's freedom? What about freedom for millions of Indians held as slaves or hundreds of millions living in abject poverty?

Dawood M. said...

Indeed yes, each country has the absolute right to build a defense force proportionate to the threat levels it face or perceives. .

Social problems are a country's internal issue and they are well equipped to solve them.

Riaz Haq said...

Dawood: "Indeed yes, each country has the absolute right to build a defense force proportionate to the threat levels it face or perceives. .
Social problems are a country's internal issue and they are well equipped to solve them"

So India has a right to perpetuate enslavement and abject poverty of its citizens and others don't have right to point it out and write about it as a human concern?

What kind of logic is that?

Dawood M. said...

There is no logic involved here. It is their own money and they can spend in whatever manner they see fit.

Are we now going to start asking our neighbor as to why he or she just bought that Ferrari instead of sending money to their poor or enslaved relatives in the interest of "human concern"?

Riaz Haq said...

Dawood: "There is no logic involved here. It is their own money and they can spend in whatever manner they see fit. Are we now going to start asking our neighbor as to why he or she just bought that Ferrari instead of sending money to their poor or enslaved relatives in the interest of "human concern"?"

Please don't trivialize it as buying a Ferrari. That's cruel when millions of lives are at stake. It's a huge humanitarian concern when hundreds of millions are condemned to live in slavery and abject poverty in a country with the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates who still defecate in the open

http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/08/63-years-after-independence-india.html

Riaz Haq said...

India is the second most unequal economy in the world, according to an Oxfam report released recently at the World Economic Forum. Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal tells Himanshi Dhawan that demonetisation has only aggravated this inequality with no significant long-term benefits.

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/the-interviews-blog/57-billionaires-control-70-of-indias-wealth-india-is-second-most-unequal-economy-after-russia/

Oxfam’s new report ‘Economy for 99%’ claims that since 2015, eight men own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world. In India, the richest 1% control 60% of the total wealth. Your comments?
In 2016, India is the second most unequal economy after Russia. Inequality is fracturing our economy and the reality is that today 57 billionaires control 70% of India’s wealth. Even International Monetary Fund recently warned that India faces the social risk of growing inequality. As per IMF, India’s Gini coefficient rose to 51 by 2013, from 45 in 1990, mainly on account of rising inequality between urban and rural areas as well as within urban areas.
India is currently too dependent on a regressive tax structure of indirect taxes and should move towards a more progressive taxation system that raises more tax revenues from the wealthy to fund more public expenditures on health and education to create a more equal opportunity country.
What have been the reasons behind this growing inequality? Would you say successive governments have failed to address the concerns of the 99%?
Over the last 25 years, the top 1% has gained more income than the bottom 50% put together. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are being sucked upwards at an alarming rate. Like many other countries, in India too policies have not focussed on raising the incomes of the poorest. India’s liberalisation in the early 1990s has seen an explosion in inequality since it created opportunities in a few high end sectors such as banking, IT, telecom and airlines that only created a handful of jobs for the highly skilled and educated. Not many policy reforms have happened either in agriculture or labour intensive manufacturing that could have created millions of jobs and raised incomes of the poor. Furthermore, not much effort has been made to raise more revenues and spend on basic education and health so that the poor could benefit from the opportunities being created.

Ras S. said...

Methinks that Riaz’s human concern on poverty wakes up only when India is concerned!



Pakistan has fewer such problems because it has approximately 1/5th of the population.

Riaz Haq said...

Ras: "Methinks that Riaz’s human concern on poverty wakes up only when India is concerned! Pakistan has fewer such problems because it has approximately 1/5th of the population."


Every one of my posts highlights problems in Pakistan as well. This report on slavery includes data on Pakistan as among the top slave-holding nations.
It's a concern that I have written about for years.

And your apologetic defense of slavery in India as due to its large population is based on ignorance of a basic reality...that of the caste apartheid.

A 2011 World Bank report titled "Perspectives on poverty in India : stylized facts from survey data"
discusses various causes of high poverty and higher inequality in India, particularly discrimination against certain castes and tribes who make up most of the poor. It describes exclusion based on caste (SC or scheduled caste) and tribes (ST or scheduled tribes) and describes it as follows:

"The Hindu hierarchy is said to have evolved from different parts of the body of Brahma—the creator of the universe. Thus, the Brahmans, who originated from the mouth, undertake the most prestigious priestly and teaching occupations. The Kshatriyas (from the arms) are the rulers and warriors; the Vaishyas (from the thighs) are traders and merchants. The Shudras, from the feet, are manual workers and servants of other castes. Below the Shudras and outside the castesystem, lowest in the order, the untouchables engage in the most demeaning and stigmatized occupations (scavenging, for instance, and dealing with bodily waste)."

Similarly, the scheduled tribes are also referred to as the Adivasis. .... we use the terms SC and ST, as these are standard administrative and survey categories. In the text we use the terms Dalits and Adivasis or tribals interchangeably with SCs and STs, respectively.

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/103691468041447795/Main-report


Here's a post from 2009 on the subject of slavery in Pakistan:


http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/slavery-survives-in-south-asia.html


The return of democracy in Pakistan last year has once again put feudal political elite firmly in charge of the nation's affairs. Both major parties, the PPP and the PML, are heavily dominated by the country's biggest landowners, who are reliability voted into power by their poor landless peasants making up the majority of the electorate in Pakistan. \

Anonymous said...

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/01/24/the-eight-great-powers-of-2017/

Riaz Haq said...

Can, #religion, #caste be banned from #India's politics? #BJP #congressparty #Modi #Hindu #Sikh #Dalit #Muslim

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/01/india-supreme-court-ban-politics-170127131816254.html


India is a nation of caste and religion. It is a nation where caste is policy. Upper caste policy is to move upwards, while lower castes continually struggle in their lowly status.

Everything that happens here is based on caste. At every stage of our life caste becomes important. We are unable to understand what is going on in the country if we disregard caste. We also see Justice T S Thakur, who delivered the court ruling, through the eyes of caste because the surname, Thakur, also represents a caste.

When caste is so integral in our society how can we separate caste and religion - a solid foundation - from politics and elections?

There are three main parties in India today: the Congress Party, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party. The Congress and BJP are outwardly "secular" parties. The BJP promotes itself as the party for Hindus, and on caste issues it says it is "secular". However they choose to self-define, if we search further, we find that the soul of these parties is brahminical, i.e. belonging to the highest caste.

The prominence of caste also applies to politics before India's independence. Priestly Brahmins who controlled the Bania caste - which had close business connections with them - have unjustly benefited from the new political reality, and that is why India's politics is called Brahmin-Bania politics.

-----------

In the first days of this year, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India banned political candidates from seeking election on the basis of caste, religion and language. On the surface, this ruling seems to be appealing to secular voters, upholding the secular values of the constitution and implementing the principles of democracy.

But it also seems to be contradicting a 1995 Supreme Court ruling which considered "Hindutva" (Hindu nationalism) and "Hinduism" a "way of life", rather than an ideology that belongs to a certain caste or religion. The court has been silent on reviewing the Hindutva issue.

There has been praise from seculars on the ruling and respect for the judiciary has further increased among ordinary people. But while the verdict is indeed an important new development, there are still questions about its practicality because caste, like religion, remains an integral part of Indian society.


Thakur said...

Regarding the Global Slavery Index, it is also important to know what the government response is and the vulnerability. In other words, is the outlook for the country better or worse. Pakistan vulnerability score (62) is 3rd highest (higher = more vulnerable), much higher than India (51) in Asia Pacific Countries and governmental response grade of CCC compared to India's B. The Index applauds India, for thorough evaluation in 15 states but more response measures are ongoing.

The story behind statistics is usually more important than the number itself!

Anonymous said...

Four Muslims are listed among the top 100 rich Indians in the ranking for the year 2011, released by Forbes on 26th October 2011. Azim Premji (3rd) from IT industry Wipro, Yusuf Hamied (30th) from pharmaceutical Cipla, Habil Khorakiwala (80th) Chairman of generics maker Wockhardt and Irfan Razack (87th) from the real estate industry Prestige Estates are among the richest Indians.

Riaz Haq said...

Stratfor: Why #India will continue to misfire against #China and #Pakistan. #kashmir #NSG

https://www.stratfor.com/sample/geopolitical-diary/can-ambitious-india-seize-moment

discussion of India's ambitions must be measured against the reality of its constraints. India's fiscal limitations stymie investment into the infrastructure projects it needs to spur growth. It is weighed down by an unwieldy parliamentary system that struggles to channel the demands of its billion-citizen polity into coherent policies. And it must contend with the persistent security threat from archrival Pakistan, which has prompted it to commit resources to support a strong military presence in Indian-held Kashmir, in turn undercutting the integration of South Asia's economies.

India also suffers from demographic shortcomings that limit its economic development. About 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas, and up to a quarter of the population is impoverished. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to grow India's manufacturing base and employ more of its large pool of semiskilled labor remain hamstrung by the lack of land and labor reform in the country. Even if India could implement land and labor reforms, however, it would still struggle to develop a globally competitive manufacturing sector in this era of increasing automation. For India, then, a further embrace of multilateralism could give it a path not only to compensate for those shortcomings and earn the investments it needs to bolster the economy but also to help it place a check on Pakistan.

Even as Jaishankar alluded to the uncertainty that colors New Delhi's view of U.S. intentions under President-elect Donald Trump, he sees an opportunity as the new U.S. administration takes power for India to increase its international engagement as a way to overcome its limitations. Sensing that Washington will grow more reluctant to throw itself into the affairs of distant nations, India wants to fill the vacuum by assuming a greater global leadership role of its own.

Historically, Indian policymakers have generally honored the call by Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister, to avoid entangling alliances. But the country has grown discontented with remaining aloof. In the past year alone, it has demonstrated the scope of its vision by engaging with every major region in the world. To wit, India hosted both the India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit and the BRICS summit and ratified the United Nations climate change protocol in Paris. Modi addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress in June and embarked on a four-nation tour to Africa in July. He also hosted British Prime Minister Theresa May in what was her first visit outside of the European Union since taking office, and on Jan. 26, he will host Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan, Abu Dhabi's crown prince, as the chief guest for India's annual Republic Day parade..

Yet for all of its diplomatic fervor, India bickers over foreign policy with its northern neighbor, China. Despite protestations and support from Washington, India has been unable to persuade China to place Masood Azhar, the leader of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, on a U.N. blacklist. Similarly, an 11th-hour diplomatic pitch in June and support from Washington failed to earn India a vote needed from China that would have allowed it to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 48-member body whose members share nuclear technology with one another. At the Raisina conference, Modi took a jab at China, saying that if Beijing wants its regional connectivity projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which runs through Kashmir, to be successful, it must respect India's sovereignty.


Source: http://defence.pk/threads/stratfor-why-india-will-continue-to-misfire-against-china-and-pakistan-got-dealt-a-bad-hand.473401/#ixzz4X7kP32mA

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan steps up #missile tests to counter #India #defence push https://www.ft.com/content/a66fdc8c-e6b1-11e6-893c-082c54a7f539 … via @FT

Pakistan is ramping up nuclear missile tests in response to India’s drive to modernise its armed forces, increasing already heightened tensions between the two countries, military and political analysts warn.

Islamabad last week conducted its first flight test of the surface-to-surface Ababeel missile, which has a range of 2,200km and which officials and analysts say marks a significant step forward in the country’s ability to target locations in India. The move followed Pakistan’s first ballistic missile launch from a submarine earlier this month.

“Taken together, these tests prove Pakistan’s ability to go for an outright war if war is imposed on us,” a senior Pakistani foreign ministry official told the Financial Times.

Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have been tense ever since the partition that followed independence from Britain in 1947. They have fought three major wars, largely for control of the disputed state of Kashmir.


--------

“If Pakistan has a ‘second-strike’ capability, it could make it more assertive and potentially more willing to launch a first attack against India,” said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior fellow for South Asia at the International institute for Strategic Studies.

Pakistani officials last week warned they were ready to use nuclear weapons against India in the event of an invasion by its neighbour. This followed an admission by Bipin Rawat, head of the Indian army, that the country had a plan to send troops across the border if it suffered a terror attack believed to originate in Pakistan.

------

Tariq Rauf, head of the disarmament programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said Pakistan’s response was a reaction to the build-up of India’s conventional military forces.

“If you look at deployment of India’s forces which can seize and hold territory, 75 per cent of the forces are within reach of the border [with Pakistan],” he said.

Ikram Sehgal, a prominent Pakistani commentator on defence and security affairs, said: “Pakistan cannot match India’s planned spending on conventional arms. The route that Pakistan is taking is to build up its strategic forces for a credible response if the Indians ever cross over [into Pakistan].”

After its submarine-based missile test, Islamabad said: “The successful attainment of a second-strike capability by Pakistan represents a major scientific milestone. It is manifestation of the strategy of measured response to nuclear strategies and postures being adopted in Pakistan’s neighbourhood.”

An official described the Ababeel missile — the first in Pakistan’s arsenal able to launch multiple warheads at different targets — “the successful completion of our deterrence”.

While most experts believe the threat of nuclear war between the two neighbours remains low, some warn about the risks of an accident caused by trigger-happy military leaders.

“Unlike the old days when the Soviet Union and the United States did not share a common border, India and Pakistan share a land border,” said one senior western diplomat with responsibility for monitoring the two militaries. “The risk of one side accidentally going to war is higher.”

Riaz Haq said...

5 Takeaways from India’s Budget

http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2017/02/01/5-takeaways-from-indias-budget/

India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley managed a fine balancing act in his budget announcement Wednesday, increasing spending to stimulate growth while at the same time ensuring the government’s financial health isn’t weakened.

Investors reacted positively to his announcements, as the benchmark stock index climbed as much as 1.8% after he presented the budget to Parliament.

Measures to boost a variety of sectors and strengthen the government’s efforts to fight corruption were unveiled. The focus, however, was on the country’s villages and small towns where job losses and hardships due to a cash shortage caused by the sudden withdrawal of 86% of currency have been felt the most.

We take a look at five big measures that were part of the budget:
1 FEB 2017 8:07AMBY Anant Vijay Kala
1 Relief for Farmers

Pressure was high on Mr. Jaitley to provide relief to people in India’s vast countryside, where farmers and contract workers employed on small wages had faced the brunt of a cash shortage caused by the currency withdrawal in November. Mr. Jaitley didn’t disappoint them.

The money that the government plans to spend on rural development next year has been increased by almost a quarter to 1.87 trillion rupees ($27.6 billion). The target of loans that banks are mandated to give to farmers has also been raised to a record 10 trillion rupees next year from 9 trillion rupees that was budgeted for the current year.
2 More Spending on Infrastructure

India’s crumbling infrastructure is often cited as one of the biggest hurdles in the way of higher growth rates. According to government estimates, as much as $1 trillion is needed over the next few years to overhaul existing facilities and add new ports, roads and airports.

The latest budget earmarks about 4 trillion rupees to be spent on infrastructure. That is 10% higher than the 3.58 trillion rupees spent this year.
3 Tax Cuts

Taxpayers in India, including companies, got some relief. The government halved the tax rate on incomes between 250,000 rupees and 500,000 rupees to 5%. Although the move is expected to cost the exchequer 155 billion rupees, it would come as welcome news to taxpayers who have been seeing their purchasing power erode due to high inflation.

Companies with turnover of up to 500 million rupees also saw their tax reduced to 25% from 30%. The government said such companies form 96% of the ones filing returns.
4 New Rules on Funding of Political Parties

The government expanded its fight against corruption to political parties, which are infamous for a lack of transparency in their sources of funding. A cap of 2,000 rupees has been placed on cash donations, which are often used by donors to hide their identity. The government also proposed changes to regulations aimed at enabling the issue of so-called electoral bonds for receiving donations.
5 Foreign Investors Weren't Left Out

The government has decided to disband a body that examined large foreign-investment proposals, to make it easier for overseas investors who want to spend money into India. Most such investors now won’t have to face the country’s bureaucratic red tape that led to delays. Those wanting to invest in India will now be permitted to do so unhindered, provided they inform the central bank.

The government also promised more measures to ease the rules for some key sectors where restrictions on overseas investments still apply.

Riaz Haq said...

#Credit Rating: #India Doesn't Deserve To Be Equal To #China #China rated close to #US, #India near junk via @forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2017/02/05/india-doesnt-deserve-to-be-equal-to-china/#6e2c485d76b8

India doesn’t deserve to be next to China — when it comes to credit rating agencies that is.

That’s according to all major credit agencies, which give China a near perfect score — close to the US — and India a near junk score. Fitch, for instance, gives China A+, and India BBB- (see table).

China’s and India’s Credit Rating

India’s credit rating lag behind China is also reflected in credit markets, where the Indian government has to pay almost twice as much as China to borrow money for ten years—see table.

That’s certainly upsetting to India’s government officials, who blame credit agencies for favoring China over India. Specifically, they are critical of the agencies for failing to lift India’s credit rating despite its improving economic fundamentals, like robust economic growth rates and fiscal discipline.


At the same time, they point to the fact that the agencies have failed to lower China’s rating in spite of deteriorating fundamentals like – the slowing down of the economy and soaring debt to GDP ratio.


------

China has a recent history of current account surpluses and enormous foreign currency reserves, while India has a recent history of current account deficits and moderate foreign currency reserves. This means that China lives below its means, while India lives beyond its means.

That’s a situation that may become worse with Narendra Modi’s free cash for everyone, which is expected to turn India into next the Brazil.

Persistent current account deficits make India more vulnerable than China to the next global crisis – one that, should it occur, will shift the tides of foreign capital flows from emerging countries back to developed countries—a big concern for the credit rating agencies and foreign investors that rely on them.

The bottom line: To move next to China in the credit rate scale, India must learn to live within its own means.