Monday, August 31, 2020

Have Modi's Misguided Policies Turned India Into A Beggar Nation?

India is set to receive nearly $500 million in emergency aid from Japan to cope with rising covid19 cases and worsening economy, according to Hindustan Times. This is the largest amount of financial assistance announced by any country so far to support India’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has had widespread impacts on the Indian economy and health sector. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter. It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic. Have Indian Prime Minister's misguided policies turned India into a beggar nation? The fact is that India was already the world's biggest recipient of foreign aid even before the pandemic. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.

India in Crisis:

Many in the world, including India's biggest cheerleader Fareed Zakaria, are beginning to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. Indian state has failed to contain the deadly COVID19 pandemic. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter.  It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic.  The country's democracy is in decline. India seems like a roadkill for China. This turn of events has created serious problems for Pakistani "liberals" who have long seen and often cited India as a successful example of "secular democracy" at work in South Asia.
Top Aid Recipients and Their Donors in 2017. Source: Wristband Resources

India World's Top Aid Recipient: 

The Japanese emergency aid of $500 million to India is only the latest instance of multi-billion dollar aid Tokyo has provided to New Delhi in recent years. In fact, India is currently the world's largest recipient of official development assistance (ODA) and Japan is its biggest donor. India's $4.21 billion in assistance is followed by Turkey $4.10 billion, Afghanistan $2.95 billion, Syria $2.77 billion, Ethiopia: $1.94 billion, Bangladesh $1.81 billion, Morocco $1.74 billion, Vietnam $1.61 billion, Iraq $1.60 billion and Indonesia $1.48 billion. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.

India: Epicenter of COVID19:

India is rapidly becoming the world’s new coronavirus epicenter, setting a record for the biggest single-day rise in cases as experts predict that it’ll soon pass Brazil -- and ultimately the U.S. -- as the worst outbreak globally, according to Bloomberg. Over 78,000 new cases were added in a single day taking the total tally to over 3.6 million. This represented the highest ever one-day surge among all major countries. At the current growth rate, India’s virus cases will eclipse Brazil’s in about a week, and the U.S. in about two months. And unlike the U.S. and Brazil, India’s case growth is still accelerating seven months after the reporting of its first coronavirus case on Jan. 30. The pathogen has only just penetrated the vast rural areas where the bulk of its 1.3 billion population lives, after racing through its dense mega-cities.

COVID19 Growth Fastest in India. Source: Bloomberg

Private International Charity to India:

India tops the list of charity recipients from private foundations while Pakistan is ranked as the 12th largest recipient of philanthropic giving in the world, according to a report released by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Private Foundation Philanthropy in Asia. Source: OECD 

Global Philanthropic Foundations:

Philanthropic contributions of major international private foundations in Pakistan totaled  $267 million out of the $42 billion global contribution in  2013-2015.  This compares with $1.6 billion in top-ranked India and $498 billion in second-ranked China.  US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) contributed nearly half of the $42 billion in global charity by private foundations.

Private foundations are filling the huge gaps in public funding of health and education sectors in developing nations. . They contributed  $11 billion for the health sector alone in the three year period, ranking third behind the United States and a global fund for fighting disease.

Massive Western Aid to India:

In addition to being the biggest recipient of private foreign charity,  India has been the number one recipient of official US aid since 1947, according to the US government data.   The country India's first Prime Minister turned to for help during the 1962 China-India war was also the United States.

India has received $65.1 billion in US aid since its independence, making it the top recipient of American economic assistance. Pakistan, with its $44.4 billion, is at number 5 on the list.  US data also shows that Pakistan is not among top 10 for military or total economic and military aid.

Local Charity in Pakistan:

Pakistanis donate generously to local charities in the country in the form of religiously mandated donations such as "zakat, sadaqa and fitrana".  One of the key measures of empathy is generosity to others, the kind of generosity demonstrated in Pakistan by the likes of  late Abul Sattar Edhi. The Edhi Foundation set up by the great man is funded mainly by small donations from ordinary people in Pakistan.

 Anatol Lieven, author of "Pakistan: A Hard Country" wrote the following tribute to the Mr. Edhi:

"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in an arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its elected representatives - and to see the flag of Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality."  

What Professor Anatol Lieven describes as "human religion and human morality" is the very essence of the Huqooq-ul-Ibad (Human Rights) in Islam. Abdus Sattar Edhi understood it well when he said, "there's no religion higher than humanity".

Edhi understood the meaning of what the Quran, the Muslim holy book, says in chapter 2 verse 177:

"Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteous is, one who believes in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the prophets, and who gives wealth for His love to kindred, and orphans, and the poor, and the son of the road, beggars, and those in captivity; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives alms."

A recent article written by Shazia M. Amjad and Muhammad Ali and published in Stanford Social Innovation Review said that "Pakistan is a generous country. It contributes more than one percent of its GDP to charity, which pushes it into the ranks of far wealthier countries like the United Kingdom (1.3 percent GDP to charity) and Canada (1.2 percent of GDP), and around twice what India gives relative to GDP."

OECD says corporate donations in Pakistan have increased from  $4.5 million to $56.4 million over the last 15 years. Corporate donations are dwarfed by individual donations made as zakat, sadaqa and fitrana as commanded by the Quran.

In addition to zakat, sadaqa and fitrana, Pakistanis spent about $3.5 billion on Eid ul Azha in 2017, according to analysts. This included sacrifice of $2.8 billion worth of livestock and another $700 million on clothes,  shoes, jewelry and various services. This amount represent a huge transfer of wealth from urban to rural population, including many rural poor, in the country. It also brings philanthropic donations of Rs. 2.5 billion to Rs. 3 billion ($25-30 million) worth of animal hides which are sold to the nation's leather industry.

Empathy Study:

A Michigan State University (MSU) study of 63 countries finds that Pakistanis have higher empathy for others than people in their neighboring countries. It also finds that the United States is among the most empathetic nations in the world.

The MSU researchers, led by William J. Chopik,  analyzed the data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world.

The survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. Countries with small sample sizes were excluded (including most nations in Africa). All told, 63 countries were ranked in the study, according to MSUToday, a publication of Michigan State University.


India's biggest cheerleaders, including Fareed Zakaria, are beginning to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. India is set to receive nearly $500 million in emergency aid from Japan to cope with rising covid19 cases and worsening economy, according to Hindustan Times. This Japanese emergency aid of $500 million to India is only the latest instance of multi-billion dollar aid Tokyo has provided to New Delhi in recent years. In fact, India is currently the world's largest recipient of official development assistance (ODA) and Japan is its biggest donor. India was already the world's biggest recipient of foreign aid even before the pandemic. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.  This $500 million is the largest amount of financial assistance announced by any country so far to support India’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has had widespread impacts on the economy and health sector. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter. It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic. Have Indian Prime Minister's misguided policies turned India into a beggar nation?

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Is Fareed Zakaria Souring on India? 

Pakistan Success Against COVID19

Study Says Pakistanis Have Higher Empathy Than Neighbors

Comparing Median Wealth and Income in India and Pakistan

Eid ul Azha Economy

Foreign Aid Pouring in India

Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Islam

Philanthropy in Pakistan

Panama Leaks Scandal

Misaq-e-Madina Guided Quaid-e-Azam's Vision of Pakistan

Interfaith Relations in Islam

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


samir sardana said...

Blunders are a way of life with Narendra Modi – the Tea Vendor PM Of India – whose mother Was a dishwasher.He correlates his mother with Ho Chi Minh,who was a dishwasher in London. Indians in their infinite wisdom,also state that Ho Chi Minh was inspired by Shivaji !

The intoxication and hallucinations of grandeur,w.r.t. gothic tales of hitherto Cinderella history,starting from Mount Meru .... have led to the doom of Hindoosthan !

Throughout Indian History – when men w/o pedigree,have ruled over India – they have destroyed India immediately thereafter.They all thought they were special,and from the grass roots.This is a apocalyptic trait peculiar to Hindoos - akin to that of a suicide cult.dindooohindoo

The Blunders of the Chaiwala – which you will not read in the media – as the media is owned by Banias,and operated by Brahmins – a race of servile slaves and cowards.

The Chronicles of Narendra (Narnia Chaiwala) Modi

Make in India = Total Disaster.
Defense Manufacturing in India = Total Disaster.
Demonetisation = Total Disaster.
Space = Disaster.
ISRO Chandrayaan has doomed all hopes.The problem of the Hindoo – 1 low brain ASAT hit and they start dreaming and jay walking.All the effect of Gau Mut-ram
Employment = Disaster.Destruction of all SME and Unorganised Jobs – FOREVER.
GST = destroyed all that was left of the SME, after the Demo
IAF = Disaster.IAF completely destroyed by the PAF.The IAF took the advice of Modi (stealth in Cloud cover).They did not send the best fighter jets against the PAF – Why ? How did 6 PAF, F-16s cross the Indian ADS (in daylight) and almost kill the Indian Army Chief and GOC-in-C Northern Command (and all escaped the Indian ADS on the way back,and the Indian ADS shot down its own Chopper)
Banking = Doomed.NPA is at least 400 Billion USD in the organised sector – RBI is defrauding the nation,by hiding and lying w.r.r. the NPA/Fraud cases,so that the corporates can cheat other banks and NBFCs and Co-operatives.
Impending DEFUNDING - AFTER RBI has circulated the credit NPAs and Fraud accounts, across the Indian public (by hiding their names,and allowing them to hoodwoink depositors and bankers),one fine day,INDIANS WILL BE ASKED TO FORFEIT A % OF ALL BANK DEPOSITS and GOI investments - to finance this credit fraud distribution - JUST LIKE THE US SUB PRIME PLAN !
MUDRA loans are 150 Billion USD of which at least 40% will disappear.Then there is the informal banking disaster (NBFC/Chit Funds etc.).
Kashmir - DISASTER
GDP - MINUS 24% is a lie.Exclude the Govtt sector from GDP and the decline will be 65%.When a Govtt company produces goods and pays GST - it is just a transfer pricing of taxes.If Private sector dies for 9 months - at least the SME and Unorganised part,will NEVER return.How will the GOI earn revenue BESIDES TAXING FUEL,NICTOTINE AND ALCOHOL (and exporting Cow piss cola) ?
The Trinity of Doom - DEMO + GST + COVID LCOKDOWN ! Covid has nailed the coffin – forever.
Crowning glory is the GALWAN AND PRC Disaster. Chinese will not spare Modi or India - it is the Pure Mongol DNA of the Northern Chinese.They will annihilate India.The Northern Chinese of PRC are not like the Chinese of HK,Taiwan,Chiang Mai or Chinatown of USA.
Anyone who says Hindi-China Bhai Bhai,has eaten too much Chini,id.,est., Ganja.

We are entering into the Chinese Decade of utter,complete and merciless domination.

Riaz Haq said...

Narendra Modi has left #India's #economy a shattered mess. #Modi is proving increasingly inept at managing India's economy, with his dream of building a $5 trillion behemoth by 2025 now looking increasingly unachievable. #BJP #COVID19 #pandemic

Ritesh Kumar Singh is chief economist of Indonomics Consulting and a former assistant director of the Finance Commission of India.

Despite his pro-business image, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is proving increasingly inept at managing India's economy, with his dream of building a $5 trillion behemoth by 2025 now looking increasingly unachievable.

A native Gujarati, one of India's most advanced industrial states, Modi has consistently raised hopes that he'd fix the economy and create enough jobs for the 12 million youths who join the country's workforce each year.

six years after riding a wave of optimism into office, India's economy is a shattered mess, with gross domestic product expected to contract for the first time in four decades and unemployment at an all-time high. None of the major growth engines -- consumption, private investment, or exports -- are firing. Worse, the government doesn't have the capacity to try and spend its way out of the downturn.

Managing the economy hasn't been Modi's only fumble. After promising to rein in corruption, Modi approved a disastrous banknote demonetization scheme aimed at eradicating the black market economy and clamping down on tax evasion. In addition to the chaos it created, the scheme ruined the prospects of hundreds of thousands of farmers and small to medium enterprise owners, the two sectors which relied most on cash transactions. While supporters insist the adverse impact of the note ban was short-term, the supposed long-term gains in the fight against corruption remain a pipe dream.

Then came the introduction of a nationwide goods and services tax, which, weakened by inconsistent rates and a plethora of exemptions, hasn't been the game changer voters were promised. Instead of creating a seamless market of 1.3 billion people that businesses could tap to grow faster, it's been a compliance nightmare. In other words, Modi's attempts to use the note ban and the GST to help clean up the Indian economy have actually dampened India's growth prospects.

Dr. H. A. Qureshi said...

Excellent analysis Sir. I think another important factor is demonetization. India's informal sector has not really fully recovered from it with severe lack of liquidity. Moreover, the human story is even worse as poor people had to travel on feet back home. Is the Hindu upper caste disgust for the poorer castes and other creeds behind this. Apparently there is no lack of violence against dalits in the new hindu nationalist India.

I have also started writing some articles on the history of the subcontinent. Please see my pages on Facebook.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi seems oblivious to what his Finance Minister has publicly admitted. There could be war with #China, the #economy could totally collapse, young, jobless #Indians could soon take to the streets out of desperation. #India #COVIDー19 via @IndianExpress

Life in our dear Bharat Mata can sometimes seem more surreal than real. Last week we saw surrealism totally subsume reality. It began with the official release of a video of the Prime Minister, in Rishi mode, strolling solemnly in his garden as peacocks frolicked and danced and ate birdseed from the hands of our leader. Who would have thought watching the Prime Minister in his garden that hours later would come the horrible news that the economy has shrunk by 23.9 per cent India has done worse than any other G20 country. This is attributed to that brutal first lockdown being imposed without warning.

The surreal element of this awful news is that the Prime Minister then addressed the US-India Strategic Partnership and said all was well. He urged investors to bring their money to India because of the boundless opportunities for investment that exist. He said, “You have a government that believes in delivering results. A government for which ease of living is as important as ease of doing business.” The truth is that neither is living easy nor doing business. Modi seems oblivious to what his Finance Minister has publicly admitted. Things were bad, she said, but what had happened was ‘an act of God’.

Wrong, Madame, quite wrong. The economy was showing such serious signs of contraction before Covid arrived, that economists evoked memories of those dark decades when the Indian economy was mocked for growing at ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. The economy was doing badly because since his second term began Narendra Modi has concentrated on political matters such as abrogating Article 370 and ramming through that discriminatory amendment to our citizenship law. Both decisions have failed in their separate ways. The Kashmiri people are more alienated than ever before from India, and jihadi violence continues despite the Valley having been under curfew for more than a year. As for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), it has made most Indian Muslims feel as if they are lesser citizens than their Hindu brethren. No amount of soothing words from Modi will erase the memory of the Home Minister describing illegal immigrants from Bangladesh as ‘termites’.


To return to the surreal quality of the week gone by, may I say that the media played its own part in this. With the terrible economic news and the bad news from Ladakh you would think that there would be an end to the obsession with Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. The highest investigative agencies are now examining whether he committed suicide or was murdered, so there is no need for senior TV anchors to behave like bloodhounds waiting for the kill. Alas, the hunt goes on and seems to turn uglier and uglier. On the morning that I write this I switched from channel to channel in English and Hindi and the main story was this venomous hunt.

There could be war with China, the economy could totally collapse, young, jobless Indians could soon take to the streets out of desperation but the only thing that seems to bother our ‘investigative’ TV reporters is the tragic death of a Bollywood star. They have turned the heartbreaking death of a talented young star into a tawdry circus. Indian journalism has never stooped this low.

Riaz Haq said...

Goldman Sachs projects deeper recession for #India in FY21 with #GDP contraction of 14.8% against its earlier estimate of 11.8% dip in #economic activity. India’s #economy shrank 23.9% in June quarter. #Modi #BJP #COVID19

Investment bank Goldman Sachs on Tuesday said it expects Indian economy to undergo a deeper recession in FY21 with a contraction of 14.8% against its earlier estimate of 11.8% dip in economic activity.

“In light of the Q2 (June quarter) GDP report, we are making further significant adjustments to our GDP forecasts for India. We now forecast Q3 (September quarter) 2020, and Q4 (December quarter) 2020 at GDP growth of -13.7% yoy and -9.8% yoy, respectively (compared to -10.7% yoy and -6.7% yoy previously). Our estimates imply that real GDP falls by 11.1% in calendar year 2020, and by 14.8% in FY21 (vs growth of -9.6%, and -11.8% in our previous forecasts)," the investment bank said in a research note.

India’s economy contracted 23.9% in June quarter, worst among the G20 countries and significantly below expectation of most economists. The stringent nationwide pandemic-induced lockdown created a double whammy through both a supply and demand shock as businesses shut down operations and consumers were forced to stay home.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's supply chain fantasies will not save #India's failing #economy. #Japan's SCRI offers a way to counter #China's dominance of global #manufacturing but #Delhi's ill-prepared for it, writes Ritesh Kumar Singh, chief economist of Indonomics Consulting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been busy reminding the world, again, that he remains clueless when it comes to securing India's long-term economic future.

The issue this time is trying to reduce India's dependence on China by teaming up with Australia to join Japan's proposed Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, or SCRI.

It's not a bad idea, in theory. Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 have underscored the risks associated with excessively relying on China, and provided the perfect opportunity for India to present itself as the world's next best manufacturing hub as more and more countries and corporations seek to limit their China exposure.

Given this backdrop, Japan's SCRI proposal offers a way to counter China's dominance of global manufacturing. Plans to invite the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and probably the U.S., which is engaged in an intensifying trade and tech war with Beijing, would further strengthen the initiative.

But joining Japan's SCRI is not just a matter of flicking a switch. Integrating with the Japanese or Australian economies will be no easy task, not to mention the U.S. and ASEAN. Overcoming the challenges required will involve a deep commitment not only from India, but Japan and Australia as well.

Has Modi forgotten India's recent experience, where freer trade with Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN bloc has resulted in more imports than exports? Despite a full-fledged free-trade agreement with Japan, India's apparel exporters say they are still effectively denied preferential access to Japan's market. Pharmaceutical companies complain that slow regulatory approvals are acting as non-tariff barriers.

India has had a similar experience in Southeast Asia, where its trade deficit with ASEAN has risen from $5 billion in 2011 to $24 billion last year. And despite India signing a free-trade agreement on services with ASEAN, it doesn't benefit Indian services companies all that much, especially those in software development and information technology.

India has its own protection problems too. After raising import duties on 3,600 tariff lines since 2014, more and more goods are being added to its restricted import list. India's excessive cane and sugar subsidies have made it difficult for Australia to compete in international markets, forcing it to take India to the World Trade Organization. Japan, along with Taiwan, has already filed a separate WTO case after India raised its import duties on information and communications technology products.

Trying to involve the U.S. -- the world's largest economy and top importer -- in any alternative supply chain initiative makes sense because it will expand the size of the market needed to help manufacturers reap the benefits of economies of scale. But that's easier said than done.

After nearly four years of President Donald Trump complaining about the size of the U.S. trade deficit, Washington is clearly not in the mood to join an alternative alliance that would lead to it importing even more goods and services. Even a limited India-U. S. trade deal has proved elusive, with Trump demanding improved access for American merchandise, agriculture, and dairy products that no Indian politician can afford to give. Besides, if the U.S. joined the SCRI, it would likely insist on tighter rules on intellectual property, extensive labor law reform, and a range of environment and investment protections that would be difficult for India to comply with.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Buses are packed, as are shops and markets’: #India’s rising #COVID-19 approaching cases in #US. Life alternates between slender hope & looming despair, with people uncertain of being alive tomorrow, yet thronging fish markets bereft of mask & distancing

Atul Thakur, referring to major Hindu festivals occurring in October and November, poses that question in the Times of India. He is not talking about primacy in economic growth. Rather, he refers to the number of COVID-19 infections and the pace of their increase, which are likely to catapult India ahead of the U.S. by mid-September, conferring the dubious distinction of being the worst-affected nation on the planet.

With Unlock 4 having commenced and most institutions and services back in full-fledged operation, infections too are going through the roof, having increased by 1.5 million in the first 17 days of September. While permitting the reopening of transport, temples, gyms, businesses, industries, malls and wine shops, the government has run the gamut from total lockdown to near-normalcy.

Of course, government relaxation notifications stipulate “subject to SOP” (use of masks, social distancing, etc.), thereby absolving it of any blame for the rising death toll and knowing full well that adherence cannot be ensured or enforced.

Predictably, buses are packed, as are shops and wholesale vegetable and fish markets, with people shopping as if there is no tomorrow, which is a very real possibility. Many do not wear a mask and the less said about social distancing, the better. The police have mopped up a tidy sum by way of fines for mask-wearing noncompliance, though social distancing is not being enforced.

By now, the coronavirus has become a stark reality, with many people losing one of their family members, neighbors, friends or acquaintances to the infection. Last week, the block of flats both to the left and right of my own bore banners from the Pallavaram Municipality, cautioning of homes under quarantine due to COVID-19. Yet the realization of “It could be me tomorrow” doesn’t seem to have dawned on most.

One wonders whether this is the innate arrogance of man, who considers himself invincible enough to triumph over nature and disease, or just ignorance, plain and simple. India has reported more than 5.6 million cases, just behind 6.9 million confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday, and more than 90,000 deaths, still less than half the 200,000-plus COVID-related deaths in the U.S.

While malls, gyms and shops are crowded, temples — especially the smaller ones — still find visitors few and far between. “Hardly anyone drops in, though the temple is now open for several hours,” says Sri Jagannatha Bhattachariar, a priest of one of the smaller shrines in Chrompet, Chennai. It makes you wonder whether people have at last found God within themselves, rather than search for Him in shrines.

Rural and indigent pupils find it difficult not only to afford the devices required for online classes, but also to comprehend them fully, and some have died by suicide. And while the lockdown did provide people the opportunity to spend quality time with their families, cases of domestic violence have also been on the rise.

Riaz Haq said...

In #India, engineers and MBAs are turning to manual labor to survive the #economic crash amid #COVID19 . “If I don’t work, we don’t get to eat,” said Bawge, flicking beads of sweat from his brow. “Hunger trumps any aspiration.”

On a recent muggy afternoon in southern India, Earappa Bawge hacked at the ground with a pickax, his white shirt pasted to his back. Each dull thud reminded him of how far his hopes had fallen.

Just months ago, the 27-year-old engineer was poring over project files in an air-conditioned room at a factory hundreds of miles away. The job was a ticket out of rural poverty for Bawge’s entire family, who had sacrificed for years so he could complete his studies.

Now he was back in the village where he was born, propelled by a wave of economic destruction rolling across India during the pandemic. To survive, Bawge began digging ditches under a public works program. Alongside him were a former bank employee, a veterinarian and three MBA students. At the end of the day, each received $3.70.

“If I don’t work, we don’t get to eat,” said Bawge, flicking beads of sweat from his brow. “Hunger trumps any aspiration.”

As India’s economy reels in the aftermath of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, a rural employment program has emerged as a lifeline for some of the tens of millions left jobless. The government program — which aims to guarantee 100 days of unskilled work in rural areas — was intended to combat poverty and reduce the volatility of agricultural wages. Now it is a potent symbol of how the middle-class dreams of millions of Indians are unraveling.


India Is Expected To Surpass The #US In Reported #Coronavirus Cases Soon. #India has more new cases daily than any other country but #Modi is still reopening #economy, making the #pandemic worse. #COVID19

Riaz Haq said...

#COVID19 in #India: false optimism amid rapidly rising cases & continuing relaxation of #Modi's lockdown that created a parallel crisis as incomes fell dramatically, hunger increased, and migrant workers walked long distances home. #economy #coronavirus

Despite a strong response at the outset of the pandemic, as of Sept 22, India has the world's fastest growing outbreak of COVID-19 in absolute numbers according to WHO, reporting more than 5·6 million infections. Restrictions began to be lifted in June, and this relaxation has continued in the face of a continuing dramatic increase in case numbers nationally. Beneath these alarming national figures, the pattern of spread in India is nuanced and complex, with marked differences between states, and between rural and urban areas. For example, cities like Kolkata and rural areas in the north of India were relatively spared the outbreak initially, whereas Delhi, with strong international connections, was at the forefront of the first wave. Even so, India is clearly facing a dangerous period.
The country has responded well in many regards, especially for such a large and diverse nation. India instigated a national lockdown in March, which was praised by WHO. During the lockdown period, tertiary care provision was increased, including access to specialist equipment such as ventilators. Testing numbers also increased quickly, with India being among the first to roll out innovations like pooled testing. India has also been at the forefront of efforts to develop and manufacture a vaccine, both through domestic vaccine candidates and manufacturers such as the Serum Institute of India preparing production capacity for internationally developed vaccine candidates.


According to news reports, hours before announcing the national lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told owners and editors from India's largest media organisations that it was important to tackle the spread of pessimism, negativity, and rumour. This pressure to avoid negative news, and to offer reassurance, appears to have been felt by several professional scientific organisations in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been singled out by experts for straying from scientific evidence, appearing at worst politically motivated and at best overly optimistic. A letter from the Director General of the ICMR, Balram Bhargava, said that the ICMR envisaged launching a coronavirus vaccine on Aug 15 (Indian Independence Day; a deadline considered unrealistic by most medical experts); ICMR has supported treatment with hydroxychloroquine despite insufficient evidence; and news reports claim that data on coronavirus infection were removed from a scientific paper.
Transparency of the data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, especially those underpinning the case fatality rate, has also been questioned, as detailed in a recent World Report. The Indian Government reports a case fatality rate of 1·8%, much lower than the reported rate in other countries, but it is difficult to know if the numbers are comparable.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi is turning to deregulation amid an #economic crisis. So far, the overhaul has led to more confusion. The poor have been hit hardest by #COVID19, with migrants returning from cities & unable to support families in rural areas. #BJP via @WSJ

The changes pushed through in recent weeks by his Bharatiya Janata Party, affecting everything from factory floors to farming, have so far led to more confusion than acclaim, but economists say the economic overhaul could ultimately improve India’s troubled growth prospects.

“The reforms are in the right direction. They are bold steps,” said Ashok Gulati, an Indian agricultural economist and professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.

India’s economic growth was slowing alarmingly even before the pandemic abruptly threw it into reverse, starting in March. In the months that followed, the economy contracted by almost one-quarter, the sharpest blow suffered by any of the world’s largest economies during the coronavirus-induced downturns.

The poor have been particularly hard hit, as workers who had migrated to cities to support families in rural areas returned home when those jobs disappeared. With many returning to farming, they now depend more than ever on India’s heavily regulated agricultural economy.

Mr. Modi, whose government’s perilous financial state has left few options for addressing the crisis, pushed through a grab bag of dramatic regulatory changes last month with little warning and no debate in Parliament. In a voice vote—obscured by technical glitches with the public broadcast of the proceeding that made it difficult to determine which parliamentarians actually supported the measures—the BJP passed a flurry of politically difficult changes.

In a single swoop, it dismantled a longstanding regulatory system that forced farmers to sell most of their crops through government-approved wholesale markets dominated by traders and middlemen instead of directly to consumers or food processors.

Then the BJP passed a series of new labor measures that increased the number of companies that can fire workers without government permission, raised the barriers for workers to unionize, relaxed rules preventing women from working night shifts and restricted unions’ ability to organize strikes. At the same time, it expanded the country’s social security program to include many contract workers


The new laws, for example, allow for the first time for many crops to be stored and sold later, eliminating restrictions that contributed to the spoilage of as much as one-third of some crops. That along with the elimination of the monopoly wholesale markets should encourage food processors to purchase goods directly from farmers or farmer cooperatives. Other companies are already planning new businesses that would purchase produce directly from rural farms and deliver them to urban grocers.

“It presents an opportunity to organize agriculture in modern terms,” Mr. Roy said, since the changes upend a system whose foundations go back more than 70 years to India’s founding as a nation. “It attacks a system that has become very corrupt and exploitative.”

Riaz Haq said...

"India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history," as per the article titled 'Economic Activity Index', authored by Pankaj Kumar of the Monetary Policy Department. ... The RBI has estimated that the economy will contract by 9.5 per cent for the full fiscal year.,of%20the%20Monetary%20Policy%20Department.&text=The%20RBI%20has%20estimated%20that,for%20the%20full%20fiscal%20year.

India's GDP growth is likely to have contracted 8.6 per cent in the second quarter this financial year, rendering the economy in a state of recession, the first ever published 'nowcast' report of the RBI said. This means that India will enter into a recession for the first time in history in the first half of this fiscal with two successive quarters of negative growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history," as per the article titled 'Economic Activity Index', authored by Pankaj Kumar of the Monetary Policy Department. 

A recession is a period of declining economic performance across an entire economy that lasts for several months. A recession is defined as two successive quarters of decline. India's economy had shrunk about 24 per cent in the first quarter ended June. 

Researchers have used the 'nowcasting' method to arrive at the estimates ahead of the official release of data and their views in an article in RBI's monthly bulletin released on Wednesday do not constitute the central bank's views. ‘Nowcasting’ is the prediction of the present or the very near future of the state of the economy. 

The government is due to publish official statistics on November 27. 

The pandemic-induced lockdowns had led to a steep contraction of 23.9 per cent in the GDP for the April-June quarter as compared to the same period a year ago. The RBI has estimated that the economy will contract by 9.5 per cent for the full fiscal year.

It, however, added that the contraction is "ebbing with gradual normalisation in activities and expected to be short-lived." The economy will break out of contraction of the six months gone by and return to positive growth in the October-December quarter of 2020-21. Incoming data for the month of October 2020 have brightened prospects and stirred up consumer and business confidence, it said.

“With the momentum of September having been sustained, there is optimism that the revival of economic activity is stronger than the mere satiation of pent-up demand released by unlocks and the rebuilding of inventories. If this upturn is sustained in the ensuing two months, there is a strong likelihood that the Indian economy will break out of contraction of the six months gone by and return to positive growth in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020-21,” it said.

The index is constructed from 27 monthly indicators using a dynamic factor model and suggests that the economy rebounded sharply from May/June 2020 with the reopening of the economy, with industry normalising faster than contact-intensive service sectors, it said. The economic activity index can be used to gauge directional movements in GDP growth well ahead of official releases, it said.

The article said despite the raging pandemic, preliminary estimates are showing a jump in household financial savings to 21.4 per cent of GDP for the June quarter, as against 7.9 per cent in the June 2019 quarter and 10 per cent in the immediately preceding March 2020 quarter. "The sharp increase is counter-seasonal and may be attributed to the COVID-19-led reduction in discretionary expenditure or the associated forced saving and the surge in precautionary saving despite stagnant/reduced income," it said.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s ruling #BJP party invents a #Muslim plot against #Hindu women, accuses #Muslims of being rapists, rails against interfaith marriages, warns against "Love Jihad". #Modi #Islamophobia #hate #lovejihaad

The ORGANISER, an English-language weekly that is a mouthpiece for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the century-old flagship of India’s swelling armada of Hindu nationalist groups, is in no doubt about the dangers of “love jihad”. The luring of good Hindu girls into marriage and conversion is only the first phase of a broader Muslim plot, asserts a recent article. The second stage is rape jihad, “a more unequivocal operation in which non-Muslim girls or women are raped and subsequently killed in many cases”. The third and final stage? Mass rape and ethnic cleansing.

Such ravings are not confined to the fringes of politics. Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest whose day job is running Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, proclaimed in October that those who practise “love jihad” should mend their ways or plan their funerals. So far five Indian states, all ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), have enacted or are considering laws against love jihad. On November 17th, for instance, the government of Madhya Pradesh announced a “Freedom of Religion” bill. This would punish any form of matrimonial trickery for the purpose of conversion to Islam with five years in prison.
The spectre of “our” innocent womanhood being preyed upon by “their” boys is not new. Hindu nationalists depict the long period of Muslim rule as a prolonged violation of “Mother India”. During national elections in 2014, the head of the bjp in Uttar Pradesh repeatedly asserted, entirely falsely, that Muslims, who make up 19% of the state’s 225m people, were responsible for 99% of rapes. The Election Commission chastised another bjp leader, Amit Shah, for describing the vote as a chance for Hindus to avenge violations of their women. He is now India’s home minister.
Replying to a parliamentary question in February, one of Mr Shah’s deputies admitted that there were no known cases of “love jihad” in the state of Kerala, at least. Journalists with ndtv, a news channel, found that even in Uttar Pradesh, a police team created in August to crack down on “love jihad” had already dropped seven of the 14 cases it had opened, for lack of evidence. Yet Tanishq, a fancy jewellery brand owned by the Tata group, one of India’s biggest firms, recently felt obliged to withdraw a television commercial portraying a happy interfaith marriage.
Indians rarely marry outside their caste, let alone their religion. The law that allows interfaith marriages is hedged with clauses that permit parents, bureaucrats and other outsiders to interfere. Courts have often seemed keener to uphold patriarchal ideas than to apply secular laws or give women freedom to choose. For India’s 200m Muslims, it is another affront. As one lamented on Twitter: “You can’t criticise, you’re anti-national…You can’t protest, you’re terrorists. You can’t fall in love, it’s ‘Jihad’.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Aid pours into #India from around the world as #Covid cases soar. Flights from #UK, #US, #EU, #Taiwan and #Uzbekistan have delivered hundreds of tonnes of supplies, with more expected in the coming days from Israel and elsewhere. #Modi via @financialtimes

India had in the recent past refused to accept international relief, which it felt was not in keeping with its own self-image as an emerging global power.


Emergency medical aid is pouring into pandemic-stricken India from around the world as the government seeks to fend off criticism about the slow pace of dispatching supplies to hospitals and states in desperate need.

Dedicated relief flights from countries including the UK, the US, EU member states, Taiwan and Uzbekistan have delivered hundreds of tonnes of supplies, with more expected in the coming days from Israel and elsewhere.

The inflow of oxygen generators, concentrators and cylinders, as well as life-saving drugs and other medical equipment marks the first time India has accepted large-scale international humanitarian aid since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, reflecting the magnitude of the crisis.

In a statement on Tuesday, the central government said the authorities were working “24 x 7 to fast track and clear the goods on arrival”.

Riaz Haq said...

#UK #aid to #India does little for #humanrights and #democracy, watchdog finds. Aid Program spent £2.7bn between 2016 and 2021 but is fragmented and lacks a clear rationale. There's no programming related to democratic space, free media or human rights

Britain’s aid programme to India is fragmented, lacks a clear rationale and does little to counter the negative trends in human rights and democracy in the country, the government’s aid watchdog has found.

The findings are likely to be used by those who claim the UK government risks using its aid programme to deepen its relationship with India, including seeking free trade deals, rather than attempting to reduce poverty, which is the statutory purpose of UK aid.

The review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact said the government spent £2.7bn on aid to India between 2016 and 2021, including the provision of loans by the government-run British International Investment to mainly smaller companies. In total, loans to India represent 28% of the BII global loan portfolio.

The review finds “the overall programme is fragmented across activities and spending channels and lacks a compelling development rationale”, particularly since India already has relatively developed financial markets.

The UK does not use its aid programme, enshrined in a joint roadmap signed by India and the UK in 2021, to support Indian democracy and human rights, despite backsliding in this area under the premiership of Narendra Modi, the review says.

The ICAI review group reported: “To explain the limited activity on democracy and human rights, Foreign Office officials noted India’s acute sensitivity to any external influence in its political affairs, particularly from the UK. They acknowledged that the UK and India have different perspectives in this area and described the roadmap as being based on shared interests, rather than shared values. They informed us that the UK engages in ‘quiet diplomacy’ on issues such as freedom of speech.”

On human rights the report finds the 2021 roadmap setting out India and the UK’s joint cooperation goals “does not include any objectives related to the promotion of democracy or human rights in India” and adds that “the UK has not been particularly active in India in this area in recent years, either in its aid programme or in its public diplomacy”.