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Showing posts from November, 2016

It's mischievous, Gujarat govt "closed down" Narmada dam gates disregarding plight of 20,000 outees: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah
Well-known social activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan has told Counterview that the Gujarat government cannot close down Narmada dam’s gates, as it would risk the life and property of at least 20,000 oustees of Madhya Pradesh living in 192 villages. Text of the interview: 

Q: A top Gujarat government official has told Counterview (click HERE) that it would get all clearances to close the gates of the Narmada dam, raising it to the full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.94 metres. Your comment…
Medha Patkar: They can’t do it… But let me first start off with how many oustee families, in our view, have been resettled in Gujarat, which is obliged to provide a house and a five acre land to any oustee family, whether from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh (MP) or Maharashtra. They are in all more than 11,000 of them – 5,500 from MP, 5000 from Gujarat, and 750 from Maharashtra. Even they have been partially rehabilitated. A large majority of them have been given poor quality lan…

Castro: In lieu of a tribute

By Rajiv Shah
It was August first week, 1985. Strictly speaking, this my first foreign trip. Earlier, in late 1960s, I had been to Nepal in a school tour, but that was hardly foreign. I was sent to Havana by my bosses in “Patriot”, the former Delhi-based pro-Soviet daily, to cover world indebtedness conference, called by Cuba’s supreme leader Fidel Castro. This was my first assignment; the effort, apparently, was to ascertain if I could be transferred to the news bureau from the desk.
A semi-communist then, I held Castro in high esteem, and I was actually quite excited. Hardly a photographer, I even carried with me to Havana a heavy Nikon SLR, which my maternal uncle, settled in US – Bharat Kinariwala, 90, professor-emeritus at Hawaii University – had given me. I had hardly put to it any use till then. I was sure, I would be able to click some photographs of Castro, which I proudly did, after borrowing a zoom lens from a reluctant photographer in the press gallery.
Castro threw a huge pa…

Gujarat govt: Jha Commission report on corruption in resettling Narmada dam oustees "poorly prepared"

By Rajiv Shah
Setting aside fears of large-scale submergence in Madhya Pradesh, top Gujarat government insiders have authoritatively stated that the crucial permission to close down the gates of the Narmada dam will surely be obtained by June 2017, ahead of the monsoon season, in order to store as much water as possible during the rainy season up to the full reservoir level, 138.64 metres.
Considered crucial for the state assembly polls, scheduled for December 2017, insiders quote circles close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say that he would take a final call on the matter by mid next year "following environmental and resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) clearance from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as also the Narmada Control Authority (NCA)."
The NCA permitted Gujarat government to raise the dam's height to 138.64 metres in June 2014 by installing gates, but ordered these should remain open till the clearances were obtained. If the gates are closed, the water…

Foolhardy to assume demonetization would extinguish black money, warns Finance Ministry research paper

By Rajiv Shah
Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi go ahead with demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1000 notes without allowing any expert analysis of the impact it might have on the economy? It would seem so, if a recent paper by a research team attached with a Union finance ministry outfit is any indication.
Terming the step “a large shock to the economy”, the research paper says, the Government of India has been arguing that the cash that would be extinguished would be “black money” and hence, should be rightfully extinguished to set right the perverse incentive structure in the economy.
Pointing out that “this argument is based on impressions rather than on facts”, the paper argues, “Facts are not available to anybody” on what might happen, and that “it would be foolhardy to argue that this is the only possibility.”
Titled “Demonetisation: Impact on the Economy”, the paper has been prepared by researchers Dr Kavita Rao, Dr Sacchidananda Mukherjee, Dr Sudhanshu Kumar, DP Sengupta, Suranjali Tan…

India's under-5 pneumonia-diarrhea deaths go up in 2015-16, albeit marginally; action plan far off target: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A high-profile report prepared to mark the World Pneumonia Day (November 12) by a well-known US-based institute has revealed that, over the last year, there is an increase, albeit marginal, in the number of under-five deaths among children because of pneumonia and diarrhea.
Titled “Pneumonia & Diarrhea Progress Report: Reaching Goals Through Action and Innovation”, and prepared and published by the International Vaccine Access Center, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the 2016 report reveals that have been 296,279 deaths, as against 297,114 deaths mentioned in the 2015 report.
This suggests a considerable improvement in pneumonia and diarrhea deaths in children under five – it was 436000 deaths in the 2013 report and 318,000 deaths in the 2014 report – the report regrets, between 2015 and 2016, “The ranking of the 15 countries (including India) accounting for the greatest number of pneumonia and diarrhea deaths remain unchanged.”
No doubt, the repo…

Demonetization: India's economic growth unlikely to improve till second half of 2018, predicts Motilal Oswal

By Rajiv Shah
Motilal Oswal, one of India’s topmost financial services firms, has predicted that the economic growth of the economy is likely to slow down in the second half of 2017, and is unlikely to improve in the next one year because of demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. In a sector update, it says, “Overall, while economic growth in the second half of 2017 could be lower than expected, fundamentals of the economy should improve from the second half of 2018.”
Noting that on two earlier times when demonetization was announced – in 1946, just before Independence, and 1978 – it had little impact, as the notes that were withdrawn, of Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 (both in 1946 and 1978) and of Rs 5,000 (in 1978) were of high-value and “rarely held by the common public.”
Thus, in 1978, the macroeconomic impact was “negligible”, the firm recalls. “Real GDP growth was 7.7% in financial year 1978 and 7.5% in financial year 1979”, while the “industrial sector grew ~6% and 11% in these tw…

Ease of doing business? Gujarat ranks No 1 in just one of 10 reform categories, fails to make it to top five in eight

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India’s latest inter-state comparison may have humbled Gujarat to No 3 position in ease of doing business, from the No 1 it enjoyed a year ago. However, what should be even more disconcerting to state policy makers is, of the 10 reform categories examined for ease of doing business, Gujarat ranks No 1 just in one.
Equally, the assessment, carried out by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, in partnership with the World Bank, finds that of the 10 categories examined, Gujarat ranks in the first five positions in just two reform categories –access to land and in commercial disputes resolution enablers.
Thus, in access to land category, the assessment, which is based on the implemented DIPP’s Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) for states/union territories in 2015-16, covering the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, Gujarat is No 1 in availability of land, and No 2 in commercial disputes resolution enablers.
In the oth…