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Showing posts from October, 2016

India's fossil fuel, especially coal subsidy equaling 2.7% of GDP, main hurdle in climate change target: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, “Thermal Coal in Asia – Stopping the Juggernaut”, by top international energy consultants, Energy Transition Advisors Pty Ltd, has raised the alarm that India’s fossil fuel subsidies, especially those related with coal, remain a major hurdle in the country’s contribution to achieving climate change target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade.
Pointing out that the fossil fuel subsidies are a huge drain on India’s finances, too, the report says, “The accumulated losses of India’s power distribution utilities equates to about 2.7 per cent of GDP, largely owing to the provision of free or underpriced power.”
Suggesting that this is a populist subsidy, the report says, “India has long suffered from an overall shortage of generation capacity” with 300 to 400 million people not having access to electricity. Yet, it adds, ironically, “the official peak demand (approximately 145GW) and installed capacity (around 290GW) create an opposite impression—i.e…

Dalits, Adivasis disproportionately affected by poverty, pushing India's Global Hunger Index to 97th rank: Report

By Rajiv Shah
An India case study, supplementing the report “2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI)”, which ranks India 97th in GHI among 118 countries, has regretted that “by contrast, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, all of whom share the BRICS high table with India, have a single-digit score” in undernourishment.
While the 2016 GHI report has been prepared by  prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the case study has been published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
Worse, the case study says, “India’s neighbours, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, have better GHI scores as well.” The GHI report shows, Bangladesh ranks 90th, Sri Lanka 84th, Myanmar 75th, and Nepal 72nd.
“Although the country has managed to reduce instances of stunting among children by nearly half in the past decade compared to the previous one, India remains home to one-third of the world´s stunted children. It therefore falls into the ‘serious’ category in this ye…

How Gujarat government refused to make public inquiry commission report on corruption

By Rajiv Shah
It was February 2011. I was in the Gujarat state assembly, covering routine House proceedings. Mostly boring, as after sitting for the whole day, I wouldn’t get a story worth reporting, except for the usual BJP-Congress duels, which seemed to be happening more according to a written script. On one of these days, a good friend, Mahinder Jethmlani, running Pathey Budget Centre, a small state budget analysis centre in Ahmedabad, reached up to me with a colourful four-page folder.
It was the summary of a report prepared by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), Delhi, which qualified Gujarat as the most transparent of the 10 states had it surveyed. Titled “Transparency in State Budgets in India”, it gave a score of 61.7 to Gujarat for budget transparency, as against the average of 51.6 for the 10 states it surveyed. The score of other state was Madhya Pradesh (60.2), Andhra Pradesh (51.8), Chhattisgarh (56.1), Odisha (52.6), Assam (51.1), Jharkhand (48.4),…

India's poverty estimate would go down to 12.4% from 21.2% if new methodology is adopted: World Bank report

By Rajiv Shah
The World Bank wants India to urgently rework its methodology of estimating poverty, more "compatible" with international estimates, saying if it does so, it “would eventually lead to a substantial downward revision of the poverty numbers in India” – from 21.2 per cent to nearly half of it, about 12.4 per cent, as worked out for the period 2011-12.
It is not known if the Government of India will accept the new methodology. If it does, the BJP-led government can go around propagating how poverty in India has substantially gone down, just as it did while revising GDP methodology, showing a higher GDP growth than previously estimated.
However, there is a risk in estimating lower poverty rates: It would mean providing fewer doles to people under populist programmes, alienating lots of people getting advantage of subsidies because they are categorised as poor.
Taking strong exception to the way India has been estimating poverty, the World Bank says, in its new report, …