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Showing posts from August, 2017

Bacchan's Khushboo Gujarat Ki ad campaign fails to put state among India's top 10 tourism destinations: NSS data

By Rajiv Shah
A new Government of India report shows that Gujarat does not figure among the top 10 tourist destinations of India. Led by Maharashtra, other states which are major tourist destinations are Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana (taken as one state) Odisha, Rajasthan, Kerala and Karnataka, in that order.
Data for the National Sample Survey (NSS) report, “Domestic Tourism in India”, was collected in 2014-15, immediately after top star Amitabh Bachchan ended his five-year “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” advertisement campaign, which began in 2010, following Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister of India.
The ad campaign called upon domestic tourists – the segment from whom the data was collected – to “spend at least some days in Gujarat” (kucch din to guzariye Gujarat mein), and became controversial for seeking to politically promote Modi.
The NSS report says, the data reveal that “Maharashtra had the maximum number of visitor trips (1.51 crore) a…

Gujarat govt "not interested" in turning farmers into solar power producers despite "successful" pilot project

By Rajiv Shah
A climate change experiment for promoting alternative sources of energy in Anand district, begun about two-and-a-half years ago by a world-renowned institute, meant for promoting groundwater solar pumps as a means for turning ordinary farmers into electricity producers, appears to have no takers in the Gujarat government.
Well-informed sources have told Counterview that though two top state officials have personally examined the experiment, carried out under the direction of well-known water expert Dr Tushaar Shah of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), things have refused to move.”
The experiment involves using solar pumps instead of diesel or electricity pumps for using groundwater for irrigation, but with a rider: The state government should connect the pumps with the state electricity grid and buy up whatever electricity is left unused after the farmers are done with irrigation.
Talking with Counterview on the sidelines of a media conference in Ahmedabad …

Govt desperation to showcase "feel good" factor behind estimate of 63% India as urban, suggests Prof Kundu

By Rajiv Shah
One of India’s topmost urban experts, Prof Amitabh Kundu, has taken strong exception to the Government of India’s mid-term Economic Survey, released in early August, especially its suggestion that 63% of India could be urban. Prof Kundu believes, this kind of statement would “add confusion” among policy makers and researchers of urbanization.
Prepared under chief economic adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian, the mid-term Economic Survey says that "India was 63% ‘urban’ in 2015 -- more than double the urbanization rate estimated by the 2011 Census", adding, there is a need to "go into a much greater level of spatial detail... to uncover important insights for promulgating expeditious public policy at centre, state and urban local body level."
Asked why the CEA appears desperatein calling India 63% urban, Prof Kundu told Counterview, “A major reason could be to suggest that there is feel good factor following the economy’s seven plus percent growth rate. If t…

63% India urban?: Govt's midterm Economic Survey seeks to "redefine" criterion citing European satellite methodology

By Rajiv Shah
Seeking to give a controversial answer to the tangled question being debated especially by India's urban development experts as to how urbanized India is, the Government of India's midterm Economic Survey, released last week, has questioned the Census of India data that just 31.2% of the country is urbanized.
Even as providing several urbanization criteria existing across the world, the top report, which has been prepared under the guidance of chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, appears to favour the urbanization definition based on the use of satellite data based of the Global Human Settlements Layer (GHSL) of the Group on Earth Observations at the European Commission.
Using this data, the report says, "India was 63% ‘urban’ in 2015 -- more than double the urbanization rate estimated by the 2011 Census", adding, based on this, there is a need to "go into a much greater level of spatial detail... to uncover important insights for promulgating …

Gujarat chief minister "declines" to accept Dalits' largest-ever National Flag, emissary says: "We don't have facility"

By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has declined to accept the largest-ever National Flag, prepared by Dalit students and teachers of the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), the Dalit empowerment centre, founded by top rights activist Martin Macwan in 1999 to train girls and boys from marginalized communities in technical skills.
A Rupani emissary, who met Dalit rights activists from 26 Gujarat districts on behalf of the chief minister in Gandhinagar, gave in writing that the state government “does not have the requisite facility” to keep a 125 feet long, 83.3 feet wide National Flag all the way from DSK, about 50 km away.
“Once such a facility is created, we would approach you and take the National Flag”, the hand-written letter, a copy of which has been forwarded to Counterview, said. The length of the National Flag represents the 125th anniversary of top Dalit icon and father of the country’s constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar.
Sources in the state government said, since Rupani “did n…

Delayed payment in e-transfer of NREGA wages: How Govt of India failed to pay 57% of compensation amount

By Rajiv Shah
A new study led by a senior expert of the Azim Premji University, Rajendran Narayanan, has said that in whopping 57% of cases, the Government of India has not been calculating compensation it should be paying for the delay in the payment of wages, as required under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005.
The study has been released as part of a media kit released by Swaraj Abhiyan to “expose” the Centre’s claims of prompt electronic transfer of funds through the National Electronic Fund Management System (N-eFMS) under NREGA, which mandates to pay wages within 15 days of workers completing their allocated work, after which a payment of 0.5% of wage compensation per day has to be paid.
Based on a survey of 3,446 gram panchayats of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Kerala, the study is titled “Analysis of Payment Delays and Delay Compensation in NREGA: Intermediate Findings of an Ong…

New Niti Aayog man Rajiv Kumar compared Modi with Gandhiji, called choice of Adityanath for UP "courageous"

By Rajiv Shah
Has the decision to appoint economist Dr Rajiv Kumar as successor of NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya, who announced his resignation for the powerful post less than a week ago, something to do with Dr Kumar’s more recent incessant support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that too mostly of political nature?
Author of the book “Modi and his Challenges” (2016), where he is critical of Modi, in his tweets, Dr Kumar, who is a DPhil in economics from Oxford, and has served in FICCI, CII and Asian Development Bank, in his more recent tweets criticizes Lalu Prasad Yadav for “using secularism to promote dynasty and corruption” and “cynical use of Muslim voters”.In another tweet, he praises the Modi government for “arresting” seven Hurriyat leaders, whom he calls “mere paid pawns of the ISI”, even as asking it to begin “delivery of good governance for Kashmiris”.
In one of the tweets, Dr Kumar doesn’t think UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath is “anti-development”, insisti…

Panagariya was "unhappy": Modi govt was slow on privatization, babus displayed overbearing presence

By Rajiv Shah
Did Niti Ayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, a renowned economist and a close follower of free market wizard Jagdish Bhagwati, resign from his powerful post because he was unhappy with the Narendra Modi government’s “slow” movement towards privatization, his favourite thrust? It would seem so, if what he said two days earlier (July 31) is any indication.
In an interview he gave to a top financial daily, Panagariya said, the Government of India wasn’t moving fast enough on his proposals for privatizing public sector enterprises (PSEs), even though the proposals for closing down sick units have progressed well.
Panagariya, who is professor of economics at the Columbia University, where Bhagwati is also based, said, though the Niti (full form National Institute for Transforming India) Ayog had proposed and the Cabinet “approved” privatization of 17 PSEs, and “some progress has happened”, and “even advisors appointed” in some cases, “in terms of actual sales we have had none.…