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Showing posts from November, 2019

India enters quagmire of 'mistrust economy', as GDP growth officially slips to 4.5%

By Rajiv Shah
I have had a special liking for GDP, and it isn’t new, either. During my Times of India days in Gandhinagar (1997-2012), I remember, how as chief minister, Narendra Modi, post-2002 Gujarat riots, kept harping on the state’s double digit rate of growth rate continuously for three or four years, but got a little puzzled when, during a press conference, I asked him how was it that an official document talked of just 5.1% growth rate.
Perplexed, he kept quiet for a little more than a minute, looked around for an answer, and finally got one from the then finance secretary, who, sitting behind him, murmured something in his ear. “It so happens that when your GDP rate is very high for several years, it reaches a plateau, and then the possibility of as big a rise becomes difficult”, he told the media.
A good explanation, I thought, but wondered, why was it that he continued harping on the double rate of growth for so long, when it wasn’t the case. During those years, data wasn’t …

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runsinto rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.
While Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani is said to be positive about the proposal, which has been opposed by the salt producers in the Little Rann, as it would take away their livelihood, as also by environmentalists, Central agencies, including the Central Water Commission (CWC), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) have raised doubts on it on technical and environmental grounds.
The proposal -- to be implemented in two phases -- requires "harvesting" the water of rivers draining into Li…

As fear 'grips' right liberals, Arvind Panagariya, too, would be declared anti-national?

By Rajiv Shah
It is surely well-known by now that India's top people in the power-that-be have been castigating all those who disagree with them as "anti-nationals". Nothing unusual. If till yesterday only "secular liberals", and "left-liberals" were declared anti-national, facts, however, appear to have begun surfacing that, now, guns are being trained against those who could be qualified as right liberals, too. Let me be specific.
The other day, a former bureaucrat of the Gujarat government, an IAS official, known for his keen perceptions of the state of the economy, whether India's or Gujarat's forwarded to me a video – an interview with Mahesh Vyas, managing director and CEO of India's topmost private sector data company, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
Interviewed by the news portal “The Wire”, long dubbed as "left liberal" by critics, of late Vyas has made a niche for himself by strongly asserting how unemployment…

Resettled Gujarat Narmada oustees 'lack' proper housing, health facilities: LSE study

By Rajiv Shah
A London School of Economics (LSE)-funded study, even as asserting that the Narmada dam oustees resettled in Gujarat are materially better off than their counterparts who have been living in semi-submerged areas and have not been resettled, has admitted existence of poor availability of public health facilities and housing even three or four decades after they began living in the villages with state support.
The study, titled “Are Resettled Oustees from the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project ‘Better Off’ Today?” by carried out by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, consulting editor with the Times of India group and a research fellow at the Cato Institute Washington DC, and Neeraj Kaushal, who teaches social policy at the Columbia University, New York, and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Massachusetts, finds that a whopping 73% per cent of the resettled oustees do not have access to public health.
Recently published in the research journal &…

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”
Noting that “there was Buddhist occupation” in Ayodhya then, Prof Varma, in an interview recently  “updated” in Huffington Post following the Supreme Court’s verdict handing over the Babri site to build a Ram Lalla temple, said, this is what even Alexander Cunningham, the first director general of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also said after he carried out “some kind of survey” around the Ayodhya region in 1861-62.
Belonging to the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and inserted as observers in the ASI team excavating the site following a Sunni Waqf Board plea in the Babri case, …

Cops' 'inability' to deliver justice? Model Gujarat ranks 12th among 18 major states

By Rajiv Shah
A Tata Trusts study, released in Delhi on Thursday, has ranked “model” Gujarat 12th out of 18 major states it has analysed across India to “assess” the police's capacity to deliver justice. Several of the advanced states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as some of the so-called Bimaru states such as Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are found to have ranked better than Gujarat.
Sponsored by India’s oldest philanthropic organization, founded in 1892 by Jamsetji Tata, the 146-page study, “India Justice Report: Ranking States on Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid”, has been carried out by well-known civil society experts from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), DAKSH, TISS-Prayas and the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
Seeking to rank states in delivering fair and speedy justice, the study claims to have used only government data, saying, “S…

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”
An investigation by Nexus3, forwarded to Counterview, said that hundreds of containers arrive in Indonesia from the US and other developed countries carrying wastes, some of which were recently seized by the country’s authorities as “illegal and improper due to the fact that they contained plastic wastes and hazardous waste contaminants in the paper scrap.”
The investigation provides the container number of each of the containers tracked, the date of export from the US, and the date of final arrival in India and other Asian countries. The containers went to Asian countries instead of the US despite the f…

Business interests? Hindu bankers 'helped' Company Raj to flourish, colonize India

By Rajiv Shah
A new book, ‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’, authored by well-known Scott historian William Dalrymple, has said that a major reason for the success of the East India Company (EIC), which “colonized” the country between 1600 and 1857, was the support it got from Indian financiers or moneylenders, including Jagat Seth of Calcutta, Gokul Das of Benaras and other “Hindu bankers” of Patna and Allahabad.
Insisting that textbooks wrongly attribute that the British ruled India between 1600 and 1857, Dalrymple, in an interview with South Asia Times (SAT) editor Neeraj Nanda in Melbourne on the book ahead of its launch, said what is little understood is the “the corporate nature of that period of Indian history”, which turned into a “role model and” a “new factor” in world history. The British rule, according to the historian, lasted for just 90 years, between 1858 and 1974.
Already making waves, “The Anarchy” tells the story of EIC, tracing its history…

As workers suffer, Assam tea business chain retains 60-94% of earnings in India, abroad

By Rajiv Shah
A recent paper, published by the high-profile UK-based NGO Oxfam Great Britain (GB), has revealed that supermarkets and tea brands in India retain more than half (58.2%) of the final consumer price of black processed tea sold in India, with just 7.2% remaining for workers. “For a typically sized pack of branded black tea sold in India priced at Rs 68.8 for 200g, supermarkets and tea brands would retain some Rs 40.4, while workers would collectively receive just Rs 4.95 per pack”, it says.
Titled “Addressing the Human Cost of Assam Tea: An agenda for change to respect, protect and fulfil human rights on Assam tea plantations”, the paper is based on the findings of research studies by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen Information (BASIC), further says that it uses “retail prices as a proxy indicator” for its estimate.
Exported abroad, the paper, authored by Sabita Banerji, Robin Willoughby and Amrita …