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Showing posts from September, 2015

India slips in internet ranking, is worst performer among competing BRICS nations: UNESCO broadband report

By Rajiv Shah
Even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was meeting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as part of his effort to gather international support for his high-profile Digital India campaign, a new report, sponsored jointly by UNESCO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and released by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, has found that India has slipped in global ranking for the use of internet, both broadband and internet in general.
The report, “State of Broadband 2015: Broadband as Foundation of Sustainable Development”, dated September 2015, ranks India 131st in the fixed broadband subscription category and 155th in the mobile broadband subscription category among 189 nations of the world. The report says that India has 1.2 per 100 capita fixed and 5.5 mobile per 100 capita broadband penetration.
A comparison with BRICS nations suggests as India ranks worst both in fixed and mobile broadband. In fixed broadband, Russia ranks 56th with 17.5 per 100 capita, China 67th wi…

India's annual export losses may reach $50 bln if economy not opened up to world trade: US govt policy adviser

By Rajiv Shah
A senior policy expert attached with US government has sharply criticized the Government of India for not doing enough in opening up its economy to the world. Pointing out that “India’s international competitiveness is lagging badly”, the expert says, “The shares of both manufactured and services exports in the economy have stagnated for over three years”, and “the responsiveness of Indian imports to global growth has declined sharply.”
The expert, C Fred Bergsten, says, India’s :merchandise trade deficit has hit record highs in the last two years”, and the country’s “competitiveness problem is compounded by its absence from the world’s new megaregional trade agreements, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but also the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)”.
In his paper titled “India’s Rise: A Strategy for Trade-led Growth”, Bergsten says, what is particularly regrettable is that the Narendra Modi government has failed to take advantage of the …

Gujarat No 1 in ease of doing business. Really?

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat is, again, No 1— assessed for “ease” of doing business. At least this is what a new report, titled “Assessment of State Implementation of Business Reforms”, is said to have made out by a World Bank report. The moment news broke out, I was amused, and decided to go to the source.
I visited the World Bank site, and found a small summary, prompting one to visit the Government of India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Policy (DIPP) site to download it. Initial remarks on the World Bank site were revealing: “This report captures the findings of an assessment of reform implementation by states, led by the DIPP, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, with support of the World Bank Group and KPMG as the knowledge partner, and facilitated by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).”
A clear effort of the government of India to “highlight” Gujarat model, this time with the help o…

PM's 15 point programme: Gujarat govt refuses to implement minorityschemes despite policy nod, funds

By Rajiv Shah
Latest information, gathered by Gujarat-based non-government organization (NGO) Janvikas, indicates that even a decade after the Gujarat government declared it favoured implementing the controversial 15 point programmes of the Prime Minister for “ameliorating” the plight of minorities, things remain struck where they were in 2006. Official sources say, the matter has been under “active consideration” ever since, and there is no indication when it will be implemented.
The Prime Minister's 15 point programmes – floated by Manhoman Singh in 2006 following the high profile Sachar Committee report sought a “helping hand” to overcome minorities' social and economic exclusion – was initially criticized by Narendra Modi, then Gujarat chief minister, as minority appeasement. Modi and the BJP had dubbed it “communal budgeting” and a “ploy” to divide the society on religious lines.
Yet, at the policy level, under him, not only did the state government allow the programme to …

Floods, human pandemic biggest risks to Ahmedabad, Surat: Lloyd's city risk study

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile study by top international consultants, Lloyd’s, has found that Ahmedabad’s 11.82 per cent of the annual gross domestic product (GDP), or 14.01 billion dollars out of the city GDP of 118.50 billion dollars, would be at risk because of manmade or natural threats. The study, titled “Lloyd's City Risk Index 2015-2025: Analysing the economic exposure from 18 threats”, has been carried out on 301 top world cities.
Based on an index worked out by the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, the study has chosen ten Indian cities – two of them from Gujarat – for assessing the risk factor. The Indian cities chosen are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat, Pune and Kanpur.
The study shows that flood is the biggest threat to Ahmedabad, accounting for 3.45 billion dollars or 24.67 per cent of the city GDP at risk. Interestingly, the next to come is human pandemic, accounting for 23.…

Why Gujarat imposed mobile internet curfew during the Patel agitation

By Rajiv Shah
It was Wednesday, October 31, 1984. After finalizing the semi-left Link newsweekly, for which I worked then, the office driver boldly drove the Ambassador late at night through Delhi streets, which were already in the grip of anti-Sikh riots, erupted following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The driver squeezed his way through burning vehicles. At several places we could see houses in flames and heard painful, shrieking voices. It was a ghastly scenario, of the type I had never witnessed, or even imagined, before. I reached home, a middle class South Delhi locality; to my consolation all was quiet, though we had a Sikh neighbour.
My lovely daughter on that fateful day was just 21 days old. After taking my dinner, it befell on me to look after her, as she would refuse to sleep. I was still awake, and at 2 am, I found somebody knocking on our door. “Shah saheb”, the person who knocked the door loudly said. I immediately recognized his voice: We used to call him a “chadd…