Page 1

Job reservation World Economic A key issue sidetracked by politicians

Situation and Prospects in 2014

Regaining Past Glory Russia planning another ‘Space Leap’



Russia Worried

World Telecom Day

NATO Expansion Sends Red Signals

In keeping with the trend in other parts of the world, the telecom sector has registered phenomenal growth in India.


Church and Politics

12 Regaining Past Glory Russia planning another ‘Space Leap’

The Church in India is on a fast track to get it represented in the political parties as well as in the government. Many organizations are being set up for this purpose and they are all working with fanatical zeal to fulfil the tasks assigned to them. The most active in this field is a Bishops’ group in Andhra Pradesh, which presented a charter of demands to the political parties and candidates.

Rape of Faith


Tribute to a Stalwart Veer Savarkar, the great patriot


Job reservation A key issue sidetracked by politicians

Home-schooling A trend that is catching up fast Forbidden Acts on the Rise



Roll-back of policy? Obama Administration Favours Modi

20 22 24



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India Continues to Forge Ahead

• By Raju Shanbhag


he world communicates on telecommunications. From calling your kith and kin on your mobile phone to making long-distance internet video calls on your computer, telecommunication has come a long way. Although major revolutions in the telecommunications domain transpired only a few decades ago, today the world cannot fathom a life without telecom.


Every year, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) celebrates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) on May 17. The purpose of celebrating this day is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. World Telecommunication and Information Day is being celebrated since May 1969, the day when ITU was founded. The world of telecommunication has witnessed a sea change during this period and every passing day brings in new inventions in the field of telecom. Interestingly, India too has had its fair share of development in the telecom sector during these years. From a country that was intrigued by the powers of telecom and Internet, India

has grown to be the second largest telecom user in the world based on the total number of telephone users (both fixed and mobile phone). As mentioned earlier, India has had its fair share of achievements in the telecom development story of the world. In fact, Indian postal and telecom sectors are one of the world’s oldest. In 1850, the first experimental electric telegraph line was started between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour. The Indian telecom industry underwent a high pace of market liberalisation and growth since the 1990s and now has become the world’s most competitive and one of the fastest growing telecom markets. The industry has grown over twenty times in just ten years, from under 37 million subscribers in 2001 to over 846 million subscribers in 2011. We have the world’s second-largest mobile phone user base with over 929.37 million us-

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In keeping with the trend in other parts of the world, the telecom sector has registered phenomenal growth in India. The country took a leap towards internet and mobile telecommunications in the nineties, and since then there has been no looking back. Today, India has the world’s secondlargest mobile phone user base with over 929.37 million users as of May 2012. And it has the world’s third-largest Internet user-base with over 137 million as of June 2012. ers as of May 2012. It has the world’s third largest Internet user-base with over 137 million as of June 2012. In the eyes of the developed world, India is no more a country of shepherds and snake charmers. It is now a power to be reckoned with when it comes to one of the most important technological inventions of the modern history. Apart from impressing the foreigners, telecom has contributed a great deal in bridging the digital divide in the country. The availability of telecom and broadband networks throughout the nooks and corners of the country, the growing interest

of general populace in these services, have all augured well for the development of telecom even in rural areas. Today, it’s not uncommon to see broadband penetration in hardto-reach rural parts of India, thanks to the efforts put by the government owned BSNL. Telecommunication also has helped to increase the transparency of governance with the introduction of e-governance in India. The government has pragmatically used modern telecommunication facilities to deliver mass education programmes for the rural folk of India. The mobile phone industry is likely to contribute

US$ 400 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and has the potential to generate about 4.1 million additional jobs by 2020, as per Ms Anne Bouverot, Director General, Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA). The telecom industry and the government need to work together to attract investments and exploit advances in technology. With the success in voice-connectivity being carried forward to data and emerging technologies including cloud computing, the government is targeting broadband connectivity to over 600 million in 2020. Various policy initiatives by the Indian Government have led to a complete transformation of the industry in the last decade. It has achieved a phenomenal growth during the last few years and is poised to grow further. On back of the ongoing investments into infrastructure, the country is projected to witness high penetration in the sector in the near future.

Some Interesting facts about Indian Telecom Being the second largest telecom sector in the world, Indian telecom domain has some unique characteristics that make it special. Here are some of them • Mobile tariffs in India are the second lowest in the world after Bangladesh. Countries with the highest mobile tariffs include Austria, Venezuela, Greece, Portugal, Australia, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, France and Brazil. • Mobile phones account for nearly 96.6 per cent of the total telecom subscriptions, and more than 95 per cent of wireless connections are prepaid. • Wireless phones dominate the market in India and the wire-line phone segment constitutes merely 3.4 per cent of the total sub-

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scriber base. • GSM continues to be the dominant technology for wireless phones with an 87.9 per cent share. Bharti is the dominant player in GSM segment, accounting for 22.35 per cent of the market in terms of market subscriptions followed by Vodafone (18.80 per cent), Idea (13.53 per cent) and Reliance (12.05 per cent). There are as many as 14 operators using GSM technology compared to just six using CDMA. Reliance is the leading player in the CDMA market with 51.32 per cent share.

• The credit for being the country’s oldest telecom service provider is taken by Loop Mobile (earlier BPL) which boasts of being the first operator in the country to offer services of MMS, GPRS and Caller Ring Tunes. • On June 11, 2010, the broadband wireless access (BWA) or 4G spectrum auction in India ended. Infotel Broadband, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, won pan-India licence in the auction across 22 circles, the only telecom operator other than state-owned BSNL/ MTNL to do so.


The Church in India is on a fast track to get it represented in the political parties as well as in the government. Many organizations are being set up for this purpose and they are all working with fanatical zeal to fulfil the tasks assigned to them. The most active in this field is a Bishops’ group in Andhra Pradesh, which presented a charter of demands to the political parties and candidates. A political party, called the Indian Christian Secular Party, is also in the fray.

Church and Politics

Bid to Increase Political Representation

• By Venktesh Deshpande


n an article published by an Asian newspaper, John Dayal, the general secretary of the All India Christian Council, declares that the Church has entered electoral politics in India like never before. “Has the Church gone beyond its duty as an ethics and morality watchdog, its responsibility to the poor and wider society by intervening like never before in the country’s political processes? he asks. Given his write-up, it all started after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India circulated a pastoral letter in February calling on people to come out and vote for parties and candidates committed to religious diversity. The most active is a bishops’ group in Andhra Pradesh, which presented a charter of demands to the political parties and candidates in the election fray. A political party, comprising only Christians, has also made its debut in Andhra Pradesh. And this is called the Indian Christian Secular Party. The sole aim of the party, according to its own statement, is to increase Christian representation in Indian political offices. Their demands include an assembly seat in each district and two Rajya Sabha seats for the Christian community, as well as land for building churches. In the meanwhile, the All India Christian Forum says Christians in


Karnataka are feeling “betrayed and hurt” as the Congress Party did not field anyone from their community. Christians, who make up about four percent of the state’s population, have traditionally supported the Congress Party, according to the Forum. The prominent Christian to lose candidature was Margaret Alva, a close associate of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Alva wanted to field her son Nivedita Alva in the Canara constituency. But Minister RV Deshpande outwitted her by winning the party ticket for his son Prashant Deshpande. Charles Gomes, former Chairman of

the Federation of Konkani Catholics’ Association and forum member, says the government neither appointed members for the Christian Development Council nor awarded Kannada Rajyotsava Award to any Christian. Konkani-speaking Christians make up a bulk of the population in several provinces on west coast. Some Christians are also talking of abstaining from voting. Christians certainly hold more sway in Kerala where they make up nearly 20 percent of the state’s 33 million population. This state has seen several Christian politicians becoming

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chief ministers and powerful ministers in the Union cabinet. AK Antony is an example. According to John Dayal, most parties have failed to nominate Christians, and in many northern and western states, there is not even a single Christian candidate. “For a Church as old as the Indian one, it is tragic that its only visibility is in the schools and a few hospitals it runs in various towns and cities,” he goes on.

Why Ruth Manorama? Ruth Manorama, a Chritian convert, is a prominent Christian in the electoral fray. She got the JDS nomination to contest from Bangalore South constituency, a seat that has long been represented by BJP’s Ananth Kumar. It would be wrong to say that Deve Gowda’s decision to field Ruth Manorama as part of his broader plan to support Christian representation in politics, because JDS has never won Bangalore South constituency. Most of those in the contest in JDS strongholds are Deve Gowda’s family members. And there was no demand for the party ticket in Bangalore South constituency. Born into a Dalit family in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Ruth Manorama has founded Women’s Voice to fight to get respect and dignity for women in economically weaker communities and societies. She has even worked for slum dwellers evicted by Karnataka Slum Clearance Board. Ruth’s mother is a first generation of converts. She was also deeply influenced by Pandita Rama Bai. This is how Ruth got her second name ‘Manorama’ - after Rama Bai’s eldest daughter. Ruth is married to N P Samy, the trade unionist who has brought together all independent, unorganised-sector trade unions under an apex body, the Na-

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tional Centre for Labour (NCL), of which Ruth is one of the secretaries, helping to build the organization. She has actively participated in rebuilding a slum submerged due to floods. She shifted to Bangalore and started her association with Grail International Women’s Movement. Later she registered a trade union for domestic workers. In 1986, Ruth

participated in a cross-cultural study comparing Afro-American Blacks in the US and Dalits in India. Her specific interest was to study the lives of Black women and compare it to the situation of Dalit women. She says she realised that although several core issues were different, there were many similarities in the situations of marginalised communities across the world. In the 1980s and 1990s, Manorama fought several court cases filed on behalf of slum dwellers evicted by slum clearance drive of the Karnataka Government and sustained a mass agitation of slum dwellers. She coordinated the South India chapter of the organizaion for the Fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. In 1975 Manorama took a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Madras and has trained in both the community organization methods of Saul D’Alinsky and the conscientisation methods of Paolo Freire.


Rape of Faith

Forbidden Acts on the Rise


xploiting unsuspecting devotees in the name of religion is a bane that has plagued religious establishments for long. The rot runs deep in every religion of the world and devotees are tricked in many ways. Ironically, every religion demands unquestioned faith from its devotees, and it’s the faith that the middlemen of god exploit. In one such recent case, a priest in an ultra-traditional Catholic sect, Society of Saint Pius X, based in Paris has been charged with rape and torture allegedly committed during exorcisms involving three schoolteachers. Here again, faith was used as bait to swindle the victims. The priest allegedly first raped one teacher during an exorcism to purge her of the “evil” from a previous sexual assault. He then used his “spiritual influence” to convince two other female teachers to undergo similar exorcisms. He molested three women in the autumn of 2010 after he met them at the private religious school Ecole Notre-Dame-de-la Sablonniere in Goussonville, west of Paris, which he was running at the time. The women did not come forward to the police and one of them was so traumatised that she couldn’t even describe what had happened to her. The 40-year old priest was charged with cruelty, torture and rape. He is now being held without bail. While being interrogated, he told the detectives that he had only “simulated” sexual acts, which the victims claimed were acts of torture using a broom, a toothbrush and some scissors.


Celibacy is prescribed for Roman Catholic priests, but there are a number of cases of their throwing this norm to the winds. A case in point is a priest in an ultra-traditional Catholic sect, Society of Saint Pius X, who has been charged with rape and torture for acts allegedly committed during exorcisms involving three school teachers. There are many such incidents but they are all swept under the carpet. In fact, various Christian organizations throughout the world have a history of safeguarding their priests with a tainted background. Interestingly, various Christian organizations throughout the world have a history of safeguarding priests with a tainted background. This priest has already been tried several years ago in a religious hearing by his sect of St. Pius X, which sentenced him to two years in a monastery. But then, the Society of St Pius X itself is shrouded in mystery and endless controversies. The church is a congregation of traditionalist catho-

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lic priests founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and refuses to recognise the authority of the Vatican. It has over 600,000 followers in 62 countries but has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism and farright leanings. The Society, which is not in full communion with the Holy See, was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988 after consecrating bishops without a papal mandate. The problem with sexual exploitation of devotees by priests is often a complicated one. The priests use their religious clout to make this look like a mutually consenting act. Adult victims of sexual exploitation by clergy often don’t see themselves as victims. Without wider public awareness of the extent and impact of this form of sexual violence, adults who have been sexually victimised by a beloved priest, pastor, minister, rabbi or other clergy will remain the “silent majority” of the clergy’s sexual abuse victims, suffering in their shame and self-isolation. News stories appear almost daily chronicling the extent of sexual misconduct by ministers, priests, rabbis and other clergy. The widespread incidents of sexual abuse by clergy across denominations indicate that even the sacred space in religious congregations does not provide sanctuary from sexual assault or harassment. The situation is no different in India. Recently, father K P Shibu, after serving as a priest in Vincentian Congregation of the Catholic Church for 24 years, quit the Church and wrote a revealing book, ‘The Heart of a Priest’ (“Oru Vaidikante Hrudayamitha”) exposing the inner secrets of life in a monastery. In his book, he reveals that sexual perversion and lust for power and money are rampant among the clergy. The hunger for power and money makes them corrupt, cunning and cut-throats. The book claims that 60% of priests had had illicit sexual relationships and instead of showering compas-

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Other Controversies T

he Society of Saint Pius X has been shrouded in controversies. The case of sexual exploitation is not the first one; and by the looks of it, will not be the last one either. There is an overlap in French society between the SSPX’s constituency of support and support for reactionary political positions. It also condemned the 1789 French Revolution and the French Republic, accompanied by support for the restoration of the absolutist French monarchy. In 1977, a group of SSPX priests and lay people, led by Monsignor François Ducaud-Bourget, entered the parish church of St Nicolas du Chardonnet in central Paris and celebrated Mass. They subsequently refused to leave, and the church remains in the possession of the SSPX to this day. There have been statements by some members of the society which have been widely interpreted as anti-Semitic, particularly regarding the Holocaust denial. The society itself denies the allegation that anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism are rampant in important circles of the Society.

sion and love, the messengers of God unhesitatingly take advantage of the poverty and helplessness of women, orphaned children and shamelessly abuse them. He uncovered that all sorts of sexual perversions, including homosexuality and watching blue films, are taking place among the priests and nuns, who are supposed to be celibates. Most of the confessions made by priests and nuns relate to their sexual perversions. The book narrates incidents of priest students abusing children to gratify their pleasure. Gays and lesbians are common in many congregations. In fact, there are children of priests and nuns in orphanages run by the Church. In the West, the civil society takes up such abuses to courts, compelling the clergy to pay compensa-

tion to the victims. The pathetic situation is that in India the civil society and human right organizations are reluctant and fearful of taking up the cases to courts. The so-called ‘saintly persons’ influence the victims not to take up these acts to courts and bully them to pardon and forgiveness. The problem runs deep with Christian establishments and instead of addressing this serious issue, the highest authorities of the church often sweep the matter under the carpet to safeguard their ilk. This encourages the perpetrators to try even more dastardly acts. The church should come out in the open about the sexual exploitations taking place in its organizations and punish the guilty ones.


Russia Worried

NATO Expansion Sends Red Signals


ussia’s relationship with NATO is at the crossroads. While NATO is merrily expanding its alliances in the eastern part of the world, Russia is experiencing a sense of betrayal and broken promise, which Mikhail Gorbachev would certainly agree. But before continuing with NATO’s stab in the back, here is a little piece of background about NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, one of the 28 member states across North


Russia is no longer the totalitarian state that it was during the communist regime. Yet the NATO countries treat it as one and still try to encircle it as they believe that Russia has aggressive intentions towards its neighbours. The present crisis in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by Moscow have strengthened this belief. Whether this will lead to a violent confrontation between the two blocks is yet to be seen.

America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defence spending. Members’ defense spending is supposed to amount to 2% of GDP. As the 65th anniversary of NATO arrives, the debate over the organization’s expansion remains highly contentious, with some viewing it as a broken promise to Russia after the fall of the Iron Curtain. But why does Russia, being a member country of NATO, oppose this expansion? Firstly, NATO has been continuously expanding and including coun-

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tries in a way to encircle Russia from all sides. Also, these expansions are coming at a time when Russian conventional forces are in deep trouble, badly in need of reform, poorly paid and demoralized. This is forcing Russia to consider placing greater reliance on nuclear weapons to assure its security and has raised the question of whether Russia should retain its most powerful, multi-warhead land-based missiles which START II is designed to eliminate. General Rokhlin, Chairman of the Russian Duma’s Defense Committee, has expressed concern that ratifying START II substantially prior to comple-

tion of the terms of START III involves risk to Russia and reliance on US good faith. In this context he has asserted that NATO expansion constituted reneging on assurances given to Gorbachev and Shevernadze at the time Russian consent was obtained to German reunification and to membership of a reunified Germany in NATO. There were also an ambitious agenda of nuclear infrastructure transparency and potential tactical nuclear weapons constraints. NATO’s expansion will make it much more difficult to establish the atmosphere of trust required for Moscow to agree to additional transparency measures for its stockpile and to abandon its increasing reliance on nuclear weapons to balance NATO’s approach to its borders. The standard response to the arguments against NATO’s eastward expansion was that Russia’s neighbours felt unsafe. However, with the

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Relationship with NATO


n September 2011, The NATO alliance invited India to be a partner in its ballistic missile defence (BMD). US NATO Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder has suggested that India should turn away from its non-aligned role and join NATO. Voice of Russia analyst quoted Robert Pshel, head of NATO’s Information Office in Moscow, as saying, “I agree with Mr Daalder that many modern threats are global, and tackling them without emerging powers like India is hardly possible.” Daalder further stated, “The dialogue should be on how India’s concept of its own security and of international security fits in with NATO’s concept of international security and how NATO as an actor and India as a country can work together to promote security. According to some reports, the United States and India have already studied the possibility of a joint missile defence system, though former Defence Secretary Robert Gates stated that “talks were only in their early stages.” And while most members of the Indian strategic community readily admit that NATO’s Afghanistan mission coincides with India’s own strategic interests in stabilising that country, they do not necessarily conclude from this that India and NATO should develop closer cooperation.

cold war over and a democratic political regime in Moscow, Russia clearly posed no military threat either to the Poles, Czechs or Hungarians. Neither Warsaw nor Prague could point to any sign that Russia had aggressive intentions towards Eastern Europe. But proposals to extend security guarantees to these countries without expanding NATO were turned down by Washington and Brussels. Therefore, the decision to include those countries into NATO was seen in Moscow as a desire to use Russia’s relative weakness in order to strategically push it out of Europe. Also, Russia always felt cheated by the empty promises made by the US over the expansion of NATO from time to time. From 1994-96, Russians were led to believe that it would stop at Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. At that point the US and its Western partners claimed that accepting the Baltic countries against Moscow’s objections would be unthinkable. And three or four years later it became quite thinkable. And three years have passed since the second wave of NATO enlargement, and now Ukraine and Georgia are said to be considered for membership. No one seems to ask what the United States is likely to gain from including Ukraine or Georgia in NATO. Neither of those two countries is going to be instrumental in solving the big challenges to US and Western security posed by Iran, North Korea and international terrorism. Besides, in the case of Ukraine, membership in NATO is supported by only 20-22 percent of Ukrainian voters-and there is strong resistance to the idea both in the eastern part of the country as well as in the Crimea. Is it worth risking partnership with Russia to drag Ukraine into NATO, almost against its own will? Or is the real reason for expansion, as more and more people think in Moscow, to weaken and marginalise Russia? But this, then, can clearly have nothing to do with any sort of real partnership.


Regaining Past Glory Russia planning another ‘Space Leap’ Russia’s new manned spacecraft will now be launched by means of Angara -5 rocket, originally developed for unmanned missions. The country’s new cosmonaut spacecraft getting ready for its maiden flight test in 2018, which was to have been launched by another rocket named Rus-M, will now be orbited by Angara-5. The Angara rocket will replace the existing launch vehicles including heavy lift off Proton to become the core of Russia’s unmanned launch fleet.


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• Radhakrishna Rao


ehind the successful 2013 testflight of Antares rocket –designed and developed by the US private space enterprise Orbital Sciences Corporation— at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island in Virginia, there was a tale of “Soviet connection.” This vehicle, to be operational by the end of this decade, features an improved version of two N1 engine originally developed by the former Soviet Union as part of the strategy to race fast the American Saturn-V programme that constituted the cornerstone of the American manned missions. Significantly, in early 2014, an Antares rocket carrying a commercially developed cargo ship made its first operational flight to ISS. ”The Soviet N1 booster had the highest lift off thrust of any rocket built in the history of space exploration,” notes Asif.A.Siddiqi, a US based historian of the Soviet space programme. Interestingly, Russians could not put N-1 to operational use though it was developed as an answer to the American Saturn-V. As it is, a string of four failures of N-1 mega booster meant that the Russian dream of launching a cosmonaut to the moon went up in flames. Subsequently, the N-1 project was cancelled by a decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia. N-1 had a massive cluster of 30 engines at its base. Incidentally, the cryogenic engine developed for N-1 ended up as the upper stage of India’s 3-stage

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Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) capable of placing a two tonne plus satellite payload into a geostationary transfer orbit. Under an agreement, Russia made available to India seven cryogenic engine stages for powering the flights of GSLV as a stop gap arrangement till India’s own cryogenic engine stage could take off. Because of the complex technological challenges involved in the development of a cryogenic engine in late 1980s, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) decided to acquire the cryogenic engine technology from Russia with the purpose of giving a quickening impetus to the development of GSLV, the first two stages of which are derived from the modules of the highly successful and reliable space workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). But then in 1992, the USA, citing the provisions of the so called Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), pressured Russia to abandon its commitment of transferring the cryogenic engine technology to India. The stand of the USA was that cryogenic engine technology has dual use potentials. But the ground reality is that cryogenic propulsion technology is not well suited for a missile system for the simple reason that the cryogenic fuel cannot be loaded onto the missile well in advance. Under US pressure, Russia watered down the original agreement and as a face-saving device decided to supply seven ready-to-use cryogenic engine stages to ISRO without any technology transfer. ISRO launched its Cryogenic Up-

per Stage Project (CUSP) about two decades back. The mission objective was to realize a three-stage launch vehicle capable of placing 2-2.5-tonne satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit. And thanks to the painstaking efforts of ISRO, the superb technological performance of the home grown cryogenic engine stage was convincingly demonstrated by the successful January 2014 flight of GSLV. Indeed, the flawless GSLV maiden flight featuring an Indian cryogenic engine stage was a slap in the face of the technology denial regime spearheaded by the USA.

New multi-billion dollar plan Meanwhile, Russia’s struggling space programme has projected a new multi-billion dollar plan focused on the development of a replacement for the obsolete and ageing Soyuz cargo spaceship by 2020. This US$70billion plan of the Russian space agency Roscomos also envisages the launch of new unmanned missions to the moon and beyond. One major setback suffered by the Russian space programme was the failure of the Progress-44 capsule meant to carry supplies to ISS .The Progress-44 carrying more than three ton of food supplies to ISS crew fell back to earth moments after its launch in August 2011, following the failure of a Russian Soyuz space vehicle. The Soyuz became the world’s only manned link to the ISS following phasing out of the US space shuttle in July 2011. President Vladimir Putin told astro-


nauts on-board ISS in April 2013 that Russia would send manned flights in 2018 using a new ultra-modern launch complex. He drove home a point that he wants the Vostochny cosmodrome to help Russia catch up with other powers in exploring beyond the near earth orbit. Baikonur cosmodrome in the Steppes of Central Asia was the nerve centre of Soviet space launch activities. The first human to go to space, Yuri Gagarin, made his pioneering space flight from here. However, the unresolved dispute over the lease terms continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over its use by Russia. According to Putin, the first launch from Vostochny will be in 2015 .The site, near Russia’s Pacific coast, was chosen to allow cosmonauts to splash down on water after their mission. He also announced that the town being built around the new cosmodrome to house its engineers, researchers and their families would be called Tsiolkovsky in honour of the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who spearheaded rocket design in early Soviet era. There is no denying the fact that this new launch complex in eastern Amur region would enable Russia to shift much of the launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Russia leases Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for US$115-million annually. In 2011, Russia spent close to US$4billion on its space program. However, the new push announced by Putin will imply that Russian space will get US$6.5-billion per year which means more than a 50% increase. Between 2011 and 2013 Russian space programme had to sustain a series of failures. Mishaps struck two Soyuz rockets in 2011, resulting in the loss of a military communications spacecraft and a Progress resupply ship heading for ISS. The once formidable Proton launch vehicle, which had come cropper in July 2013 with the three Glonass satellites it was carrying, turning into a ball of flame, however had its successful run in Sept.2013 when it launched a Euro-


pean telecom satellite. The July 2013 failure of Proton rocket was blamed on the placing of three rocket sensors

life of ISS till 2020 has provided Russia an opportunity to boost its income by providing crew and cargo transpor-

in an upside down fashion. However, one of Russia’s most conspicuous failures was the loss of its PhobosGrunt probe to Mars launched in 2011 which ended up crashing back into earth rather than coming close to completing its mission of visiting Martian moon.

tation service based on the Soyuz vehicle. As the US reusable space transportation system, the space shuttle, has been grounded, Russia’s reliable space workhorse Soyuz will be the only means of taking international crew to ISS. But then not long back Putin had observed, “Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferry man. We need to increase our presence on the global space market which is roughly worth around US$200-billion.” The high point of the Russian space programme is that it is developing a futuristic nuclear propulsion system for its proposed interplanetary missions. This is an area where Russia has a certain edge over the USA. According to Dr.Asif Siddiqi, Soviet space activities were essentially driv-

Successful launch However, 2014 seems to have proved luckier to Russian space missions. In March this year, a Russian Proton-M rocket successfully launched two Russian telecom satellites. Prior to that in February, a Russian Proton rocket delivered Turkey’s domestic satellite Turksat-4A into its intended orbit. The plan to extend the operational

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en by militaristic ambitions and not due to the push provided by a well planned and centrally funded orga-

nizational set-up. His thesis is that the Soviet space programme had an “accidental evolution” not because of the support from the Communist Government in Moscow but because of the vision of a few motivated individual scientists. Clearly and apparently, Soviets did

not have a long-term space vision on the lines of the goals set by NASA. From launching Sputnik to sending its first cosmonaut into space, Soviets relied on modified versions of its ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile). But then the Achilles heel of the Soviet space programme was that the outfit which produced space systems and hardware also worked on missiles and defence devices. This resulted in a diffusion of focus on the space activities. Consequently, without a long-term planning and sustained funding, the development of a high performance booster required to realize a manned flight to moon took a serious hit. Before the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russians had carried out a number of tests for developing a reusable space vehicle called Cosmolyot and a heavy lift-off Energia vehicle as the most powerful and versatile booster developed anywhere. However, following the political turmoil and economic crisis that accompanied the break-up of this mighty communist empire, Cosmolyot and Energia programmes came a cropper. But then the world cannot forget the innumerable space records set by the former Soviet Union which included the launch of the first animal, the first man and the first woman into space. Similarly, the first space walk was undertaken by a Soviet cosmonaut. The first pictures of the moon’s hidden sides were shot by an orbiting Soviet spaceship. Meanwhile, in an interesting development, researchers of Russian Space Forces are working on develop-

ing an unmanned reusable space vehicle somewhat similar to American X-37 orbital vehicle now being developed by Boeing for United States Air Force (USAF). In the ultimate analysis, Russia is working hard to push ahead with its projects meant to reclaim the space glory of Soviet era. In a major shift in its launch strategy, Russia’s new manned spacecraft will now be launched by means of Angara -5 rocket, originally developed for unmanned missions. The country’s new cosmonaut spacecraft getting ready for its maiden flight test in 2018, which was to have been launched by another rocket named Rus-M, will now be orbited by Angara-5. The Angara rocket will replace the existing launch vehicles including heavy lift off Proton to become the core of Russia’s unmanned launch fleet. Russia’s state space research and production centre Khrunichev is also developing a super heavy lift Angara-7, capable of orbiting payloads of 45 to 75 tonnes and for which there is no equivalent in Russia’s current rocket fleet. The main aim of the Angara family of rockets is to help Russia minimize its dependence on Baikonur cosmodrome. In addition, Angara will help Russia meet its diverse launch needs. South Korea’s Naro-1 rocket uses an Angara RD-151 engine as its first stage. Meanwhile, preparations are on for the debut flight of Angara, considered the first new big rocket since the end of Soviet era. (The author is Visiting Fellow, VIF)



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Tribute to a Stalwart

Veer Savarkar, the great patriot


t is difficult to describe Veer Savarkar in a few words, for he was a man of multifaceted talents. He was a great thinker, writer, poet, revolutionary and above all, an aweinspiring patriot. As the nation and the world pay tribute to Veer Savarkar on his birth anniversary on 28th May, it would only be fair to recall some of the great contributions he had made to our nation. Unlike many of his contemporaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who opted for nonviolence, Veer Savarkar believed in independence through revolution. He was born on May 28, 1883, in Bhagpur village near Nashik. After his parents died young, his elder brother Ganesh looked after the family. In 1898, the British hanged the Chapekar brothers in Pune for killing a British officer. This left a deep impression on the teenaged Savarkar, who decided to take up armed struggle against the British. In 1901, he joined the Ferguson College in Pune and set up the Abhinav Bharat Society, which preached a revolutionary struggle against the British. He also won a scholarship that took him to Britain to study law in 1906. While in Britain, Savarkar dreamed more about India’s independence than his own studies and even organized students for an armed struggle against the British Empire. He also wrote a book on the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, which he called India’s First War of Independence, a terminology the Indian Government accepted after Independence. Since it was impossible to print it in Britain, it was printed in Holland and later copies were brought to India.


In so many ways Veer Savarkar stands out as an exemplary leader. His patriotism and dedication for the cause of India’s independence are etched in the annals of our independence movement. He believed in overthrowing the British through a revolution though at that time leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru were swerving to the non-violence movement advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. No leader suffered as much as he did in the cellular jail in Port Blair nor did any one write poems and memorised them line by line for years as he did since he was denied pen and paper by the British jail authorities.

ish. The second edition was published by Indians in the US while Bhagat Singh printed the third edition. Its translations were a big success: the Punjabi and Urdu translations travelled far and wide while the Tamil translation almost becoming mandatory reading for the soldiers of Subhas Chandr a

The book was a huge success, giving Indians a strong sense of pride, providing a fresh perspective of a war that was till then merely seen as the outcome of disgruntled Indian soldiers in the service of the B r i t-

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Bose’s Indian National Army. Savarkar’s heroics and a burning passion for freedom alarmed the British, who promptly arrested him and deported him to India to face trial. The ship in which he was being taken to India stopped at Marseilles, France, on July 8, 1910. Savarkar wriggled out of the porthole and swam a great distance in the cold water to reach the shore. But the British recaptured him and he was tried and on December 24, 1910, sentenced to 50 years in prison. On July 4, 1911, he was sent to Port Blair’s cellular jail. Savarkar spent some incredibly difficult and degrading days in jail. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment when he was in the prime of his life. He was placed in solitary confinement while other leaders had it much easier and were released whenever their health failed or someone in the family fell ill. Savarkar enjoyed no such luxury. Savarkar was released in 1921, after which he founded the Hindu Mahasabha. He proposed the “one nationequal rights” theory where everyone will get equal rights irrespective of their cast or creed. The stated aim of Savarkar’s Hindutva was to create a collective identity. The five elements of his philosophy were Utilitarianism, Rationalism and Positivism, Humanism and Universalism, Pragmatism and Realism. Veer Savarkar passed away in 1966, after taking upon himself a fast unto death. The present generations need to be introduced to his radical thought processes so that he gets his rightful place in the history of India. For the current generation, Jawaharlal Nehru is probably the most well-known politician from the days of independence struggle. The nation pays tribute to this visionary and the first Prime Minister of independent India on his death anniversary on 27th of May. In the year 1916 Nehru actively participated in the Lucknow Session of the Congress where both the extremists and the moderate parties of the Congress agreed to the need

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Little Known Facts About Savarkar E ven though he was an intellectual giant, Veer Savarkar is not always counted among the greatest freedom fighters of our country. Some of the current politicians like Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, even mocked the 10 years that Savarkar spent in Cellular Jail, Port Blair, in horrific conditions, alone in a tiny cell. But there are a few facts about Savarkar which every Indian needs to know, just to understand the sacrifices he made for Indian independence.

• He was the first political leader to embrace death voluntarily by way of Atma Samarpan in the highest tradition of Yoga in 1966. • He was the first political prisoner in the world who was sentenced to transportation for life twice, a sentence unparalleled in the history of the British Empire. • He pioneered inter-dining of all Hindus, breaking caste barriers prevalent in 1931. He also opened the doors of ‘Patitpavan Mandir’ to all on February 22, 1931. • The first Indian revolutionary leader who within less than 10 years discarded the practice of untouchability in the remote districts of Ratnagiri while being interned there. • The first poet who was denied a pen and paper in jail, but he composed and wrote poems on the prison walls using thorns and nails, and also memorised 10,000 lines of his poetry for years and later gave them to India through his fellow- prisoners who also memorised them. • He was the first graduate whose degree was withdrawn by an Indian university for striving for India’s freedom in 1911 • Sarvarkar was the first Indian law student who was declined the membership of the English Bar despite having passed his examination in 1909.

and demand of ‘self-rule’ or ‘Swaraj’. Later on, after many movements and sessions, Motilal Nehru launched the ‘Swaraj Party’ in 1922. Though Motilal moved from the Congress to the Swaraj Party, Jawaharlal Nehru refused to leave the Congress. In due course Jawaharlal Nehru was also imprisoned for his active participation in the civil disobedience campaign. During the time he was in jail, Nehru was deeply touched by the beliefs of Gandhi that showed a completely new approach to deal with the system of caste differentiation and the social issue of untouchability.

After Nehru became the Prime Minister of independent India, he unveiled various plans for the country to take it on the path of the progress. He was instrumental in introducing five-year plans which are still being adhered to. Under Nehru’s regime, India’s economic growth averaged 4% a year, more than that of the United States at that time. The importance of Nehru in the perspective of Indian history is that he imported and imparted modern values and ways of thinking, which he adapted to Indian conditions.


Job reservation A key issue sidetracked by politicians • By Ganesh Shandilya


he election manifestos of most of the political parties talk of forcing the private sector to reserve seats for people from backward classes, scheduled class and scheduled tribes. But the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto, released on April 7, makes no mention of job reservation. In its 2009 manifesto, the saffron party has promised to introduce job reservation for poor people, irrespective of their caste or religion. But the job reservation has not yet been a focal point of discussion in this election, largely because political parties are no longer laying em-


phasis on this, nor are they highlighting this in political rallies. At the outset, it seems they are shying away from promising something that has long been considered a threat to the economic growth. Even the manifesto of the Congress Party appears silent on reservation. Finance Minister Chidambaram had once stated that promising to introduce job reservation in private sector would poison the political climate, sparking ugly debates on televisions and other media platforms. But this is not something you expect a senior Congress Party leader to say. The age-old party had once defended job reservation describing it as the only tool to plug the widening gulf between the haves and have-

nots. Reserving jobs for different castes and communities runs the risk of undermining secularism. The past manifesto of the Congress Party talks of enacting such a law. But it never tabled a legal proposal in this regard, let alone triggering a debate on a public stage. Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, says he believes that economic growth will one day narrow the gulf between the poor and rich, enabling every child to gain the skill the employers are looking for. In some towns of Gujarat, there is no unemployment whatsoever. A country can sustain economic growth only if it distributes its wealth equally among its citizens. The wid-

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ening gulf between the poor and the rich retards growth and breeds criminality as the helpless poor choose easy ways to make money. But politicians in our country are clueless as to how to deal with this problem. Is introducing job reservation in the private sector a solution? Articles 15 and 16 outlaw any attempt to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race, religion or caste. Clause 4 of Article 16 questions job reservation that takes away equal opportunity for all citizens. Today rich citizens from backward class community are claiming much of the jobs reserved for the community, leaving a vast majority of their fellow community members watching helplessly at their failure to make the most of the opportunity. On the other hand, political parties have continued to capitalise on job reservation, turning it into a powerful weapon to woo voters. In 1951, when the Supreme Court struck down a government policy designed to reserve seats in engineering and medical institutes for people from certain castes and religion, the Madras Government suggested amending the Constitution. Article 15(4) was introduced to allow the State to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes or for the SCs and STs. Yet, this amendment did not convince the Supreme Court. The court continued to hold, as it did for example in M.R. Balaji v. State of Mysore (1963), that policies of reservation are exceptional measures, requiring strict constitutional defence. It also ruled that backward class cannot be classified on the basis of caste. Such policies, wrote Justice Gajendragadkar, might “contain the vice of perpetuating the caste” system. In 1975, the Supreme Court appeared convinced about the job reservation policy. The court ruled that Article 16(4) wasn’t as much an exception to the general rule contained in Clause 1, as it was an integral component of the right to equality. So it

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Promising to reserve jobs for backward and other underprivileged classes of society in their manifestos has become an easy way for political parties to garner votes. Significantly, the BJP’s manifesto has avoided giving such a promise; it has instead promised jobs for the poor irrespective of caste or religion. Bridging the widening gulf between the poor and the rich is of utmost importance for the country, but no political party is serious enough in engaging themselves with this fundamental issue.

was permitted to classify backward class on the basis of caste to achieve the broader goal of equality. This was further validated in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India (1992) by a nine-judge bench, which ruled that the Constitution permitted backward classes to be identified on the basis of caste. In the years that went by, Parliament permitted states to reserve jobs for backward classes and also seats in medical and engineering colleges. Each of these amendments was challenged at various stages before the Supreme Court. But the court, after providing Parliament the legal justification for its general policy on reservation, could not strike down the

laws that came out as a byproduct. Unfortunately, neither the Supreme Court nor our Parliamentarians are willing to engage with these fundamental issues. Job reservation certainly benefits, because it attacks caste-based inequities that have proved so damaging to our society. But the policy makers have often been found using it to create vote banks rather than alleviate poverty. The biggest threat is that it perpetuates the caste system. Second, there is no proof that job reservation has helped to lift the community out of poverty.


It is a new trend that is catching up – home-schooling. The idea is new to India, but many parents are opting for it for various reasons such as the rising costs of conventional education, the intense pressure exerted on young students and the inability of traditional education to provide a variety of subjects. But home-schooling has its own pitfalls which the parents have to guard against. Nevertheless, it is a path-breaking trend which is going to make waves in the not-too-distant future.


A trend that is catching up fast • By Raju Shanbhag


he education sector in India has witnessed sea changes in the last few years. Parents and students are discovering new ways of educating themselves. Many such students prefer home-schooling to traditional methods of schooling and this method is increasingly becoming popular in India. There are many reasons why parents and students are choosing home-schooling. The rising costs of conventional education, the intense pressure exerted on young students, which in extreme cases, leads to various types of mental disorders, and the inability of traditional education to provide a variety of subjects are some of the major reasons why an increasing number of Indian families are resorting to home-schooling. While the traditional Indian populace seems to be embracing this new concept, the lawmakers of the land still seem to be confused about the legality of home-schooling. There have been concerns amongst homeschoolers about the RTE Act making homeschooling illegal. An affidavit filed by the Government of India on July 18, 2012, in response to a writ petition (No 8870 of 2011) filed by Ms Shreya Sahay & others in Delhi High Court comes as a welcome relief.


But the seven-page counter affidavit submitted on behalf of the respondent (Union of India and others) by Sh DP Majhi (Under Secretary, Department of School and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India), clearly states that there is nothing illegal

about home-schooling and that RTE Act does not, in any way, make homeschooling illegal. Parents prefer home-schooling for many reasons. While there are many who home-school for religious reasons and their faith, there are many who home-school because they want their children to have all the time and space to learn whatever they feel inclined to learn without the pressure of term end or grades at school. But home-schooling is not easy. When everyone around is clamouring for good schools, good grades, good colleges and good jobs, parents who chose not to send their children

to school are obviously swimming against the tide. This in itself brings many doubts and raises many fears among the parents and also among those in extended family and friends. The whole journey of home schooling is not only path-breaking but also extremely challenging at times. Home-schoolers often follow a mix of structured and unstructured studies. Some follow standard curriculums like NCERT, CBSE, IGCSE or Accelerated Christian Curriculum. Some do only those subjects in which the child has shown more interest. Some focus on the basic reading, writing and arithmetic and some other extra-curricular activities and leave the child free to make his/her own curriculum. Some do not adhere to any structure at all. Some of the learning is also outsourced to tutors and mentors. Especially the children who take exams spend a few hours each day with tutor mentors. Many colleges and universities are becoming increasingly open to accepting students from diverse backgrounds, including home-schooled students. In fact, many schools find that home-schooled children have dedication and energy that the university finds attractive and comparable to conventional high-school activities. Also, highly selective universities

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seek students who demonstrate excellence in a rigorous course of study and have a strong record of extracurricular activities, and that is as true for homeschooled students as it is for students who have studied in schools. While critics in India dismiss the concept of schooling at home as a Western concept, colleges and universities such as Lady Shri Ram and Jamia Millia Islamia are open to home-schooled children on an equal footing as long as they have the ‘necessary certifications’. Many parents and students choose home schooling to pursue non-academic activities that are equally important to them. Normal schooling will not allow them to pursue this self-directed experiment in education. There are many support groups for alternative schools and homeschoolers in India but most of them are only on the Internet. Many of the home-schoolers who interact in these groups are based in major Indian cities -- New Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, and Kolkata. However there is a considerable presence of homeschoolers in smaller Indian cities and other states who either independently educate their children or who are associated with many of the alternative schools. Home-schooling in India is still in its infancy and only a handful of parents are employing this method of education for their children. But it’s not doubt a growing trend. Dissatisfied with the traditional schooling system, an increasing number of ‘well educated’ parents are opting for home-schooling, and it’s a trend here to stay.

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The role of NIOS T

he National Institute for Open Schooling (NIOS) serves millions of children every year, and its programms, including the Open Basic Education programme should be recognized and supported under the Right to Education Act. Instead, some important programms of NIOS are facing cuts. Although the RTE Act states that schools cannot deny admission, and aims to enrol every child in school, there are many who are unable to go, who go and find conditions intolerable, or who are, in violation of the law, denied admission. There are also children attending schools that are not legally recognized. There are trusts, co-operatives and other organizations running schools under a variety of circumstances and conditions that are not recognized within the purview of the RTE Act – for example, they may be teaching in a local language, with staff that does not have B.Ed degrees, or teaching in a refugee camp or in a region zoned for displacement and, therefore, not allotted any schools or other government services. They may be teaching children with different learning styles or abilities in a way that is customized to the special needs and abilities of each learner. After attending such a school, a child may appear for the secondary exam through NIOS, and possibly continue in a mainstream college or other course afterwards. NIOS also offers the Senior Secondary exam. The service is available to all outof-school learners regardless of reason for not enrolling in school. In 2011- 2012, 2.5 lakh students passed the Secondary (10th standard) and Senior Secondary (12th Standard) NIOS exams.


Roll-back of policy?

Obama Administration Favours Modi

The Obama administration seems to have decided to bow to the inevitable --- A Modi-led NDA government in India. So it is carefully unwinding its tough stand on Narendra Modi. The visa denial to the Gujarat CM and other clandestine search for “mass graves” in Gujarat are all to be forgotten. Obama is understood to have asked his officials to halt their efforts to project Modi as guilty of mass murder and genocide. Accordingly, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, has sharply scaled back its criticism of the Modi government as compared to earlier reports. • By Raju Shanbhag


he elements for a Narendra Modi rule at the Centre seem to be quietly converging. After various opinion polls showed a clear majority for a Modi-led NDA government, news has leaked from overseas that the US has quietly reversed its policy on Modi. Parties like Congress make a hue and cry over Modi’s visa denial fiasco to the US as if the US acceptance is the sole criterion for a candidate to contest in an Indian election. This whole episode was triggered after the Gujarat violence, and many in the media and the Congress still blame Modi for that, even though the Supreme Court has categorically stated that Modi was not in any way involved in that violence. The US denied visa for Modi at the same time. Now, the Obama administration is understood to have rolled back on the efforts by Hillary Clinton to project the Gujarat CM as guilty of mass murder and even genocide. This can be seen from the latest report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has sharply scaled back its criticism of the Modi


government as compared to earlier reports. Looks like President Obama does not share Hillary Clinton’s confrontational approach and her preference for Sonia Gandhi, and is looking to establish a pragmatic partnership with India should Modi become the Prime Minister. In fact, many reports suggest that the Obama administration is searching for a US envoy who would be different from (former ambassador) Nancy Powell’s Clinton-style hostile approach to Modi. They are also looking for an individual who could be expected to bond with the new PM and his team. Many believe that President Obama is worried at the steep downslide in India-US ties caused by Hillary-style crusades and wants the relationship to be even better than what it was under the Bush presidency. But the reason for the Clinton administration denying visa to Modi does not have much to do with its professed love for minorities. A senior American official has stated that the US dislikes anyone who takes a stand that may be different from that favoured by the US administration. In fact, when the Clinton administration found that Modi does not bow in front

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of the US, the then US government decided to collect evidences against Modi to pin him down. During the tenure in office of Secretary Clinton, numerous ‘expert’ teams were sent to Gujarat who masqueraded as NGOs to try and find ‘‘mass

in Gujarat despite six years of clandestine search by undercover experts posing as representatives of NGOs. Five politicians, three from the state and two in Delhi, assisted the search teams, but the information given by them proved unproductive.

ter A.K. Antony decided to prefer the French Rafale fighter to its US rival. The US administration gave orders to activate the Khalistan file so as to create embarrassment for Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. So now, the US wrath has shifted to the Congress Party. Since 2011, several search teams have been active in Punjab, seeking human remains in suspected mass graves. Another cause for displeasure for the US was the Devyani Khobragade incident. In fact, many observers believe that the recent decision by the US Aviation Authority to ban extra flights into the US by Indian carriers was directly linked

Hillary and NGOs I

t’s known fact that Hillary Clinton loved to operate through NGOs, which are given funding through indirect channels, and which target individuals and countries seen as less than respectful to her views on foreign and domestic policy in the target countries. Rather than US NGOs, (the former) Secretary of State Clinton favoured operating through organisations based in the Netherlands, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries, especially Norway” as these were outside the radar of big power politics. These NGOs were active in the agitation against the Russian nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, with “funding coming mainly from a religious organization based in Europe that has close links with France”. Incidentally, French companies are in direct competition with Russian rivals in seeking to expand the market for nuclear reactors in India. According to some senior officials in U.S., the Manmohan Singh government has full details of the religious organization involved in funding the Kudankulam protests, but is keeping this secret as the organization has high-level backers in the UPA.

graves”. The purpose was to take the matter to the Office of the UN Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva as an example of genocide. Ironically, some bones were discovered in 2011 in a Gujarat field by one of the search teams and there was much excitement, but these were later found to be those of some buffaloes. . Eventually, no evidence whatsoever of mass graves was uncovered

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So, after years of searching, the Clinton secretary resigned from his post and the Obama administration did not have any interest left in the clandestine bone searching mission. It gave orders to those NGOs to stop wasting their time, much to their dismay. Also, at the same time, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s inability to water down the Nuclear Liability Act was exposed and Defence Minis-

to US displeasure over the strong Indian response to the Devyani Khobragade episode, especially as they had been privately assured by senior officials that the fallout of an arrest would be routine and perfunctory. It’s almost comical that the Congress has lost its ‘US Visa denial’ card so pathetically in its effort to subdue a very strong pro-Modi wave in the country. But what’s worrying for India as a country is the manipulations and senior level mind games the US plays with other nations to further its hidden aims. The government should also take a close look at the so-called NGOs who serve clandestine purposes of their secret masters. In fact, someone should dig the sources of funding of these NGOs which may see many skeletons tumbling.



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The Hotly Contested Seats in This Election

Electoral Battle Ground • By Shashank Bhooshan


n this marathon election, several political heavyweights are pitted against each other. For some of them, this is a life and death battle politically, but for many others, this is more of a game. Nowhere is the electoral outcome more keenly watched than in Varanasi, where the BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi is pitted against Aam Admi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal faces grim chances of success, but this contest will keep him in the spotlight for a long time to come. Varanasi is the most sacred religious site of Hindus, but here there are four lakh Muslims. That means votes of this community here will be the most decisive factor. In addition to Varanasi, Narendra Modi is contesting from Vadodara, his home constituency.

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The Indian general election, termed as the greatest democratic event on the earth, will be watched by countries all over the world with keen interest as it will throw up many surprises. For those nations that are yearning for democracy this is an event from which they can learn many lessons; for others this will be an event of immense importance from the point of view of democratic experiment in a country that has diverse languages, traditions and customs and is still tightly held in the web of political unity.

Nilekani vs Ananth Kumar


nother interesting fight to watch is taking place in the Bangalore South constituency, where Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is contesting against Ananth Kumar, who had represented this seat for more than six terms successively. More than his personal charisma and good deeds, Ananth might win the seat again because of the strong undercurrent in favour of Narendra Modi in India’s Silicon Valley. Here, the educated middleclass makes up the majority of the voters, the kind of voters BJP is counting on to come to power. Ananth says he is instrumental in bringing the Metro train service to Bangalore, as well as the city’s newly constructed international airport, while Nilekani promises to overhaul Bangalore’s infrastructure. Nilekani led the Union government’s biometric card known as Aadhaar. Ananth might become a powerful minister if BJP is

elected to power, and that has enhanced the allure of the BJP leader from the South. A far more interesting contest is taking place in Bihar’s Pataliputra, where the BJP has fielded former RJD leader Ram Kripal Yadav against Lalu Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti. In Bihar, both the BJP and the RJD are trying to ride on the wave sweeping against the ruling Janata Dal. Ram Kripal is repeatedly pointing his finger at Lalu Yadav’s brazen exhibition of nepotism and an attempt at grooming a political dynasty. Lalu prefers family over social justice and party, says Ram Kripal. Lalu’s daughter is a political novice, yet a large majority of poor in this part of the country still believe that Lalu might lift them out of poverty. But how long Lalu can fool around and how long he can capitalise on illiteracy and poverty is a difficult question to answer.

Jaswanth Singh as Independent


armer in Rajasthan would never have attracted attention had not BJP’s Jaswanth Singh contested as an independent candidate. He left the party and contested independently. He is pitted against Col. Sona Ram, who migrated from the Congress to the BJP. Yet Sona Ram is s favourite to win the contest, because Modi has recently gained a huge popularity in this desert state. It is certain that Modi


wave is facing the litmus test here. The main election issue in the hill ranges of Darjeeling is whether or not Gurkhaland will be created. Interestingly, the BJP won this seat last time, with Jaswanth Singh winning by a huge margin. This time the rul-

ing party of West Bengal, Trinamul Congress, has fielded popular soccer player Baichung Bhutia against BJP’s S S Ahluwalia. BJP might win this time again, because the Gurkhaland liberation party has agreed to back the party. BJP’s victory may lead to the creation of Gurkhaland, so the locals are most likely to support the national party. In Bihar’s Patna Sahib, popular Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha is fighting against noted Bhojpuri actor Kunal Singh Yadav of the Congress Party.

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Lakshman Singh vs Sushma Swaraj


n Delhi, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj is facing the laborious task of defeating senior Congress leader and former chief minister Laxman Singh. Laxman is no doubt a political heavyweight, and so is Sushma. Here only the Modi wave can tip the balance. Laxman Singh’s political journey started from Raghogarh municipality in 1987. He won from the Rajgarh constituency, both during his membership in Congress (won four times) and BJP (won once). He joined the BJP in 2004 after quitting Congress. He was then pushed out of the party for criticizing Nitin Gadkari, the then president of the party. In Amritsar, BJP’s powerful leader Arun Jaitley is locking horns with

former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Singh was in fact unwilling to contest from Amritsar but was forced by the Congress high command. Son of the former Maharaja of Patiala, Singh was elected MLA from the Patiala Constituency but had left the party following Operation Blue Star. For Arun Jaitley, this is the first electoral battle. He has long been the member of Upper House of Parliament. This election will make him realize how tough it is to enter Parliament through its main door.

Ajit Singh vs Satyapal Singh


he other important constituency in Uttar Pradesh is Baghpat. Here former Union minister and RLD leader Ajit Singh is pitted against BJP’s Satyapal Singh. The former Mumbai police commissioner and a retired IPS officer, Satyapal Singh, is one of the few bureaucrats testing political waters. He is talking of developing the constituency and generating jobs for millions of unemployed graduates. He too is counting on Modi wave to turn the tide in his favor. Ajit Singh is the son of the former prime minister of India, Chaudhary Charan Singh. He is demanding a separate state, Harit Pradesh in western UP. He was the President of Lok Dal, which merged with Janata Party and later with the Congress. He is an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus and a software engineer by profession. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are contesting from Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively. In Delhi, the hottest contest, however, will be wit-

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nessed in Chandni Chowk, where Union Minister Kapil Sibal is up against BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsha Vardhan. This is an example of BJP’s terrific electoral strategy. A defeat here will diminish the political prospects of Harsha Vardhan, but a success will boost his political career like never before. Ten years ago, Sibal defeated BJP’s Smriti Irani by 80,000 votes, and trounced Vijender Gupta by over two lakh votes in 2009. AAP has put up journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh, a popular face on TV. In Ghaziabad, General V K Singh and Shazia Ilmi have betted their political fortune contesting against Bollywood actor Raj Babbar. Former Army Chief General V K Singh is Narendra Modi’s close aide and he has been projecting himself as a patriotic and a real soldier who fights for the country. Posters displaying the former army general are becoming a common scene in the constituency. Narendra Modi has recently addressed a huge rally here to seek votes for the army man. AAP has fielded news anchor-turned-politician Shazia Ilmi, who lost the recent Delhi Assembly elections at R K Puram constituency.


Cross Media Ownership A Threat to Vibrant Democracy • By Shivaji Sarkar


ndia has been debating the issue of cross-media ownership for the last over 60 years. However, it is only now that it is being raised by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) at the behest of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the first time. In fact, TRAI in its paper expresses limitation on checkmating crossmedia ownership. Rather, softly it has given it up. TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar said the regulator would, with the help of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), attempt to ensure that there are a minimum number of mergers and acquisitions. A consultation paper will spell out restrictions, make mandatory disclosure requirements, spell out levels of market share which will ensure plurality and diversity, list general disqualifications, recommend how cross media ownership can be dealt with, set rules for disaggregated markets, and ensure minimum mergers and acquisitions The Indian media and entertainment industry is estimated at about Rs 1052 billion and is growing by the day. Veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta says the sheer number of media organisations and outlets often conceals the fact there is dominance over specific markets and market segments by a few players – in other words, the markets are often oligopolistic in character. The absence of restrictions on cross-media ownership implies that particular companies or groups or conglomer-


Most media companies in India and abroad are integrating vertically to sell cross-media, often acquiring or building multimedia platforms. News Corp.’s Star TV India and Sun TV Network Ltd, Zee group and others already own DTH and cable distribution platforms. Star’s cross-media India operations include television channels, Internet offerings, radio, mobile entertainment and home video (incidentally, 11 cable distribution companies provide some 400 television channels in India).

ates dominate markets. It is also well-known that political parties and persons with political affiliation own/control increasing sections of the media in India. There are two kinds of such newspapers or channels. The one which are known to be published by political parties while others are published as independent papers or run as independent channels but show a marked tilt in favour of the owner’s political preference. There are a few instances where the promoters have used the profits from their media operation to diversify into other unrelated businesses. These are the issues that need to be addressed to strengthen the democratic principles. But even TRAI guidelines are not so specific. Journalism evolved in India over a long period since the first newspaper, Bengal Gazette and Calcutta Advertiser of James Hickey, was published in 1780. We are talking of a period when the Indian press was confronted with the might of British imperialism in whose domain the sun never set, as was the common refrain. However, here we must bear in mind that the evolution of the press took place in the subcontinent on a totally different line after the country’s independence and partition in 1947. The Press Commission, formed under the chairmanship of J.S Rajyadhyaksh in 1952, thus drew attention to this aspect in the first part of its report, submitted in 1955. He wrote, “Formerly, most of the Indian Press had only one objective and that was political emancipation of the

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country. Most of the journalists of that era were actuated by fervent patriotism and a feeling that they had a mission to perform and a message to convey. Political emancipation having been achieved, the emphasis has shifted and the newspapers are no longer run as a mission, but have become commercial ventures.” (Press Commision, p. 482). In the same report, the Commission also commented that now the big newspapers, in particular, either kept mum on important occasions or hesitated from leading the public opinion, because they have to take care of certain business interests; they moved very cautiously and they had to act on the orders of the powers-that-are.

The ‘Jute Press’ It was precisely this press which the late V.K. Krishna Menon, an important member of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet, had dubbed as “the Jute Press”. The term originated as in early independent India most of the press was owned by jute industry barons and was used to further their own interests. There was another that


was called “steel press” being owned primarily by the steel industry owners like the Tatas. The Mahalonobis Committee, which developed the Second Five-Year Plan of the country, also made very trenchant criticism of the role the press played in the concentration of wealth in a few hands The Commission found that there was a great deal of scurrilous writing often directed against communities or groups, of indecency and vulgarity and personal attacks on individuals. It also noted that yellow journalism was on the increase in the country and was not particularly confined to any area or language. The commission, however, found that the well established, newspapers on the whole, had maintained a high standard of journalism. It felt that the best way of maintaining professional standards of journalism would be to bring into existence a body of people principally connected with the industry whose responsibility would be to arbitrate on doubtful points and to ensure the punishment of any one guilty of infraction of good journalistic behavior. An important recommendation of the commission

was the setting up of a statutory Press Council at the national level, consisting of press people and lay members. The Second Press Commission was appointed on May 29, 1978 under the Chairmanship of PC Goswami. Later KK Mathew became the Chairman and submitted its report in 1982. The Second Press Commission wanted the press to be neither a mindless adversary nor an unquestioning ally. The Commission wanted the press to play a responsible role in the development process. It opined that the press should be widely accessible to the people if it is to reflect their aspirations and problems. However, there are already at least six states where a single media house has a clear and growing dominance. These are media groups that are emerging as national conglomerates. They are all in the news business as well as in entertainment, media distribution and network business. They own newspapers, magazines, radio, cable TV and television channels, to name their key businesses. The latest development of purchase of “The Washington Post” in

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the US by Amazon is an instance of the emerging threats and interests of powerful groups in vibrant media organisations. Most media companies in India and abroad are integrating vertically to sell cross-media, often acquiring or building multimedia platforms. News Corp.’s Star TV India and Sun TV Network Ltd, Zee group and others already own DTH and cable distribution platforms. Star’s cross-media India operations include television channels, Internet offerings, radio, mobile entertainment and home video (incidentally, 11 cable distribution companies provide some 400 television channels in India). Sun Network has 14 TV channels in four states, cable assets, four magazines, radio stations and two newspapers. In Tamil Nadu, the dominance of Sun in cable and satellite TV (channels and distribution network) and now in the DTH market is quite visible. Sun TV and Jaya TV have evolved as rivals not only in the business sector but also the political set up as they represent two important political parties in the state. In Andhra, dominance of Eenadu group was challenged by YS Rajashekhar Reddy’s Sakshi – a television channel and some magazines. Some years back some of the news channels of Eenadu group despite bearing the name have changed hands. Some of these have been taken over by TV 18 group. It is indeed time to debate regulatory issues for cross-media ownership and, in the absence of an independent media regulator, the TRAI discussions have long-term implications for the critical and booming Indian media industry, says P.N. Vasanti, Director of New Delhi-based multidisciplinary research organization, Centre for Media Studies. The Hyderabad-based Adminstrative Staff College of India (ASCI) in its 200-page report has pointed out that there is “ample evidence of mar-

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ket dominance” in specific media markets and argued in favour of an “appropriate” regulatory framework to enforce cross-media ownership restrictions, especially in regional media markets where there is “significant concentration” and market dominance in comparison to national markets (for the Hindi and English media). The government sat over the report for three years till the parliamentary standing committee pulled it up. Paramita Das Gupta of ASCI named Sun TV, Essel Group, Star India, and Reliance ADAG as the top houses with large-scale horizontal and vertical cross media ownership, while five other major groups owned the largest number of TV and radio channels. She referred to the Broadcast Services Regulation Bill 2007, and wondered how the government had arrived at the figure of 20 per cent cross-media ownership. There were over 82,000 publications registered with the Registrar of Newspapers as on 31 March 2011. There are over 250 FM (frequency modulation) radio stations in the country (and the number is likely to cross 1,200 in five years) – curiously, India is the only democracy in the world where news on the radio is still a monopoly of the govern-

ment. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has allowed nearly 800 television channels to uplink or downlink from the country, including over 300 which claim to be television channels broadcasting “news and current affairs”. There is an unspecified number of websites aimed at Indians.

Domination of readership But the number of registration and domination is not the same. The media scenario is dominated by less than a hundred large groups or conglomerates, which exercise considerable influence on what is read, heard, and watched, says Guha Thakurta. One example will illustrate this contention. Delhi is the only urban area in the world with 16 English daily newspapers; the top three publications, the Times of India, the Hindustan Times, and the Economic Times, would account for over three-fourths of the total market for all English language dailies. Similar is the situation Kolkata which is dominated by Telegraph, Ananda Bazar Patrika, (both ABP group, which has partnership with the Star News), Times of India, Pratidin and Vartaman. Chennai has The Hindu, New Indian Express


and some Tamil papers. Mumbai has Times of India, DNA, Free Press Journal, and Marathi papers. Every other region has one or the other group that dominates certain geographical areas. Indeed, it is so important as Kuldip Nayar said sometime back. He says, “A reader may be shocked to know that the news he avidly reads is paid for. His frustration and helplessness are heightened because he does not realise which part of the story is news and which part is fake.” Nayar was speaking in terms of the violation of editorial standards by the Bennet Colman group, which “does not bother the Jain brothers because they treat the profession as an industry to earn money. They feel proud that they have torn ethics into tatters and have still remained the No. 1 newspaper in India. Not only that, they make more money than probably any other newspaper in the world. The great Rupert Murdoch’s empire is 20 times bigger than the Times of India. Yet he earns less profit”. Media is beset with problems and blatant violation of norms. Working Journalists Act that governs the wages and service conditions of journalists and newspaper workers as well as ensures freedom to the journalist has become a virtually a dead law. The government never tried to enforce


it. Media remains the worst employer. In a scenario like this, imposing curbs is a complex task. But it is not insurmountable. The US forced Rupert Murdoch to abide by the restrictions. Most other countries in the world, including the United Kingdom, France, and Canada have such provisions. The UK swooped down on Newscorp for malpractices. While TRAI is making a feeble bid, it remains to be seen how much it succeeds. For the functioning of a vibrant democracy, cross-media ownership remains a threat. It needs to be checked. Stringent norms are the need. There are reservations also whether TRAI, which has an entirely different mandate should be entrusted

with the job or not. Disagreeing with the current demands of the telecom regulator, Rohit Bansal, CEO and Co-Founder, India Strategy Group, Hammurabi & Solomon Consulting remarked, “Conceptually, I don’t see the legal basis in the reference made to TRAI. Since when is it in TRAI’s jurisdiction to be sitting in judgement over media ownership?” Bansal further asked, “These messiahs of ‘plurality’ cannot see an elephant in the room called the internet – the mother of ‘plurality’ among print, television, radio, broadcast distribution platforms, smart phones and the social media? If they do, how about eschewing the smokescreen of ‘plurality’ and setting the telecom terrier tilting at owners of the Internet!” Meanwhile, supporting the regulator’s move, John Thomas, Former Editor, Operations, Vijay Times Bangalore said, “TRAI’s notification is a positive step in establishing transparency in the system. Because the media publishes news, and the same may be taken as a product if a media company has an interest in any corporation. I believe that in a step ahead, even journalists should declare their interests in the form of equity shares in any company so that a reader knows that the publisher or writer of this particular issue has an interest in the sector.”

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Tr a n s c e n d i n g B o u n d a r i e s

European Studies

Need for Broader Framework

• By Muniraju S. G.


he Europeans and their new world nation-states in North America and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) are at their peak of world dominance and are increasing hegemony over the affairs of the world. While they quarrel and bicker among themselves, they continue to further their collective agenda throughout the rest of the world. In the European framework, internal conflicts are not completely a waste of resources. Rather they provide the sandbox where newer political, economic, socio-cultural, military, intellectual and religious tools are tried and finessed in a true Darwinian fashion. Since the Europeans have influenced the world tremendously over the last 500 years and continue to do so, it is imperative that they be studied and analyzed politically, economically, socio-culturally, militarily, intellectually and religiously. These studies need to provide an authentic critique of Europeans within a nonEuropean framework. How do nonEuropeans study Europeans? What are the frameworks used to analyze Europeans? Specifically what is the state of European studies in India? The following academic institutions in India have centres for European studies: 1. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) 2. Pondicherry University 3. Jadhavpur University 4. Manipal University 5. OP Jindal International University, and 6. IIT Madras. Among these the ones at JNU, Pondicherry, were set up under the


Who studies the Europeans in India? Who is supporting them? A review of the present state of the studies and a proposal for broadening the scope and recalibrating the focus. UGC area studies programme. Area studies are primarily a US invention post-Second World War to “respond effectively to perceived external threats from the Soviet Union and China and the emerging cold war, as well as to the fall-out from the decolonization of Africa and Asia.”(http:// Though area studies as a US phenomenon is 60 years old, the colonial powers, especially Britain, have been engaged in the “scholarship of others” at least for the last 150 years. So the UGC’s efforts in area studies are relatively new and at least 50 years late. Moreover, all of the above cen-

tres receive funding and grants from the EU or individual European countries and, therefore, the criticality of their scholarship of the Europeans is suspect. See Appendix. In contrast to the six or so centres for European studies in India, China has at least 20 centres and regularly conducts conferences and publishes journals in Chinese language about Europeans. Even smaller Japan has more institutes studying Europeans than India and South Korea has a similar number of centres as India. The number of institutes studying Europeans in the US is numerous running into scores. The only region with fewer centres studying Europeans than India is Africa. A broader framework for the European study in India is required to understand their operating mechanisms, motivations, circumstances and activities throughout history and in the present times. This would help India and other nonEuropean societies to cope with a European dominated world better.

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RESOURCES: 1. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) In view of the growing importance of European Studies in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recognised the Centre for European Studies as the centre of advance studies and research on Europe by granting special assistance under Area Studies Programme (presently under the project mode). 2. Pondicherry University 3. Jadhavpur University 4. Manipal University Funded by: The Department is supported by a funding from the Delegation of European Commission to India, Bhutan and Nepal. 5. OP Jindal International University Moving beyond the “tunnel history” which risks ignoring the relations of domination, exploitation and exclusion of non-Europe that has shaped Europe to the present day, CES aims to contextually study socio-political and legal transformations that continues to reinvent the region and engage in interdisciplinary diffusions - a shift from eternally studying Europe as the “inside” to Europe “inside out” 6. IIT Madras The Centre is funded by a research grant from the European Union under the India-EU Study Centre Programme” “The Department of Sociology at Sussex University, United Kingdom is the EU partner for the project.

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Summary of selected portions of the report by the United Nations

World Economic Situation and Prospects in 2014 38

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he world gross product (WGP) is estimated to have grown by 2.1 per cent in 2013, lower than the baseline forecast of 2.4 per cent. Underperformance in the world economy was observed across almost all regions and major economic groups. Most developed economies continued to face the financial crisis, grappling to find appropriate fiscal and monetary policy actions. A number of emerging economies, which had already experienced a notable slowdown in the past two years, encountered new headwinds during 2013 on both international and domestic fronts. Despite the notable differentials in the growth rates among different groups of countries, cyclical movements in growth remain synchronized. While the developed economies grew with 1%, Economies in transition was growing at 2.0%. Developing economies had a growth of 4.6% On the basis of level of development, High income countries had a growth rate of 1.2%, upper middle income group countries had a growth of 4.6%, lower middle income countries had a growth rate of 4.7%, lowincome countries had a growth rate of 5.7% and least developed countries (LSD) were growing at the rate of 5.4%. The United States of America is estimated to grow at 1.6 per cent in 2013, lower than the 2.8 per cent growth of the previous year. Japan had growth of 1.9%, EU had a negative growth of -0.1%. Commonwealth countries at 2.0%, Russian Federation at 1.5%. Africa had a growth rate of 4.0%, China at 7.7%, India at 4.8%, and Brazil at 2.5%. World trade, including goods and services grew with 2.3% and world output growth with PPP based weights was 2.9%.

Recession Many of the new European Union (EU) members in Eastern Europe remained in a sustained recession in the first half of 2013, but the situation

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The report is a joint product of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/ DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions (Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The numbers in this report are based on the information available in November 2013,

improved in the second half of the year Western Europe emerged from recession in the second quarter of 2013,Growth in South Asia remains lacklustre as a combination of internal and external factors hamper activity, particularly in the region’s largest economies, such as India, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan. Growth is estimated to be 3.9 per cent in 2013, nearly the slowest pace in two decades. Growth is forecast to pick up moderately to 4.6per cent in 2014 and 5.1 per cent in 2015, supported by a gradual recovery in domestic demand in India, an end to the recession in the Islamic Republic of Iran and an upturn in external demand. However, in most economies, growth will likely remain well below the level

prior to the global financial crisis. Private consumption and investment are held back by a wide range of factors, including energy and transport constraints, volatile security conditions and macroeconomic imbalances.

Inflation Among developed economies, inflation decelerated in the United States during 2013 and is expected to remain below 2 per cent in 2014 and 2015. Inflation has similarly decelerated in the Euro area, but has dipped below 1.0 per cent, which has raised some deflationary concerns. In Japan, the large expansionary policies aiming to reflate the economy managed to end the decade-long deflation in


2013, as the consumer price index (CPI) is estimated to increase by 0.3 per cent, and is forecast to hit the target of 2.0 per cent in 2014.Among developing countries and economies in transition, inflation rates are above10 per cent in only about a dozen economies scattered throughout different regions. Several economies in South Asia and Africa, plus a few in the CIS, will continue to face high inflation rates, mainly owing to elevated inflationary expectations, rapid credit growth, localized food price pressures and structural bottlenecks such as energy shortages. On the other hand, most economies in East Asia continue to face benign inflation.

External Debt Thailand had the highest external debt ratio of 50 percent in 1996. In the current episode, India and Turkey have the highest external debtto-GDP ratio of about 20 per cent. In South Africa, for instance, approximately two thirds of the total external debt is in domestic currency and only about 10 per cent of total external debt is short-term debt denominated


in foreign currency. Similarly, India’s short-term external debt accounts for only about 5 per cent of GDP. An insight into the deceleration of growth in BRICS countries A standard growth decomposition exercise for the BRICS for the period 1996-2012 can reveal some interesting features about the growth deceleration in these countries. By a production function approach, GDP growth can be decomposed into the contributions from three sources: growth in labor inputs, accumulation in capital, and increase in total factor productivity (TFP)—a catch-all category that measures the overall efficiency of the economy in transforming labour and capital into output. As illustrated in the figure below, most of the decline in GDP growth triggered by the eruption of the global financial crisis of 2008 can be attributed to a drop in the growth of TFP. However, the contributions from growth in labour (measured as total employment (quantity) adjusted for changes in the composition of labour) and capital have also been on a downward trend in recent years. One caveat about this exercise is that since TFP is estimated

as the residual, a large part of its fluctuation in the aftermath of the financial crisis may reflect a cyclical movement caused by changes in aggregate demand, rather than a structural change in technological advance or other supply-side factors.

Quantitative easing programme The unconventional monetary policies, or so-called quantitative easing (QE), adopted by major central banks in the aftermath of the global financial crisis have had a significant influence on the net capital inflows to emerging economies. The QE programmes injected substantial liquidity into global financial markets and at the same time repressed long-term interest rates in developed countries. As a result, in a search for higher yields, a significant amount of capital flows was driven to markets of primary commodities and markets of equities and bonds in emerging economies in the period 2009-2012. However, in late 2012 and early 2013, as systemic risks associated with the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area

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abated and the prospects for economic recovery in the United States and Japan improved, international capital flows started to move away from emerging markets back to developed markets, particularly developed equity markets. More recently, on the expectation that major central banks will taper their purchases of long-term assets and eventually sell their assets back to the markets, international investors have ratcheted up the repricing of assets and rebalancing of portfolios. This has led to the latest wave of declines in capital inflows to emerging economies. Given the prodigious size of the assets accumulated by major central banks through QE in the past few years, and the challenges for determining the timing and magnitude for unwinding these assets, more volatile movements of capital inflows to emerging economies are expected to occur in the next few years. Among emerging economies, declines and volatility in capital inflows have been most pronounced in Asia. While growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to China seems to have resumed some strength recently, portfolio equity inflows to India and Korea and non-bank credit flows to Indonesia have registered significant falls. Latin America has also seen a notable retrenchment of inflows, mostly in portfolio equities. In contrast, Africa, Western Asia and emerging European countries continue to see increases in capital inflows. External financing costs for developing countries and transition economies have also risen in the second half of 2013, triggered by the anticipation of QE tapering. The spreads between yields on sovereign bonds issued by emerging economies and the benchmark yields on government bonds of major developed countries surged by more than 100 basis points in the two weeks immediately following the Fed’s announcement in May 2013of the possibility for reducing the size of its QE purchases account that the benchmark yields on government bonds in major developed countries

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also increased by about 100 basis points, the costs of external financing for emerging economies, in terms of the yields, actually increased 200 basis points on average. Among emerging economies, the spreads for Latin America are wider than others. Outward capital flows from emerging economies have continued to increase. In addition to a continued increase in official foreign reserves, which are counted as part of outward capital flows and stood at about $7.5 trillion by mid-2013 for emerging and

reaching an estimated amount of about$1000 billion in 2013, almost to the same level as the net capital inflows to these countries. Among emerging economies, China has significantly increased its outward direct investment in recent years, supported by more encouraging government policies promoting its enterprises to “walk abroad”. After registering a total of $88 billion in outward direct investment in 2012, available data have indicated another increase of about 20 per cent in2013. Many econ-

Need for true International cooperation


he multiple and complex challenges in the world economy call for strengthening of international policy coordination. While the primary focus of globally-concerted and coherent policy actions should be a stronger recovery—particularly the recovery of jobs—increasing attention should also be given to mitigating the spillover effects emanating from the largescale, unconventional monetary policies adopted by major developed countries regarding developing countries and economies in transition. Maintaining an open multilateral dialogue on the economic policy intentions of all countries, particularly the major economies, is a crucial element in international policy coordination to promote policy coherence and concerted action. Such dialogue has so far been frequently held in the context of the Group of 20 (G20), but it should also be promoted to more broadly representative international forums, particularly the United Nations.

developing countries as a whole, private outward capital flows of emerging economies have increased in the past few years at a robust pace,

omies in Latin America, such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, have also increased outward capital flows, mostly in the form of portfolio


investments, reflecting the need by companies, banks and pension funds in Latin America to internationally diversify their assets.

Exchange Rate regime – Emerging economies transformation In the 1990s, most emerging economies adopted a fixed exchange-rate regime, pegging their currencies to the United States dollar, or other major currencies. The fixed exchangerate regime caused at least two types of problems. First, in the run-up to the financial crisis, the fixed exchangerate regimes tended to lead to overvaluation of the local currencies when these countries experienced higher inflation than that in the United States, and/or when they encountered adverse shocks to their exports. Second, when the crisis erupted, the fixed exchange-rate regime also obligated these countries to defend their currencies by selling their foreign reserves, only to watch those hardearned reserves quickly drain away. In contrast, most emerging economies have recently adopted floating, or managed floating exchange-rate regimes. A sharp devaluation of the local currency in a short period is still harmful for emerging economies, in terms of the adverse effects on inflationary pressures and losses on the balance sheets of businesses. But a flexible exchange-rate regime can, to some extent, act as a relief valve—it offsets part of the external demand shocks on the domestic economy, through adjustments to relative prices between the external sector and the domestic sector. Because of the flexible regime, the authorities do not have to vigorously defend their currencies at any preset level, thus avoiding rapid exhaustion of their foreign reserves. Before the Asian financial crisis, foreign reserves in the Republic of Korea were at about 5per cent of GDP, Indonesia about 8 per cent and Thailand about 20 per cent .When they began defending their currencies


from depreciation, foreign reserves were rapidly depleted, forcing these economies to seek aid from international financial institutions. Currently, foreign reserves in most emerging economies are substantially higher. For example, even in the five economies that are under financial pressure, each of them has accumulated foreign reserves above 10 per cent of GDP, not to mention a group of other emerging economies with much higher foreign reserves. Since the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, as well as a few financial crises in other emerging economies in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, these economies have made a number of improvements. There is a greater transparency in the disclosure of financial information, including data on foreign reserves and non-performing loans; banking supervision and regulation has been strengthened so as to reduce mismatches in currencies and terms of debt policy measures in managing capital inflows are more flexible; and better macroeconomic positions, in terms of more prudent fiscal and monetary policies and lower government debt-to-GDP ratios, have been achieved. In the outlook, as major central banks (particularly the Fed) are expected to taper and eventually unwind their QE programmers, emerging economies are bound to face more external shocks, especially marked declines of capital inflows. Some of these economies, particularly those with large external imbalances, remain vulnerable. Nevertheless, economic fundamentals and the policy space in these economies are better than when the Asian financial crisis erupted.

Unemployment Unemployment in the United States was at 7.0 per cent in late 2013, from a peak of 10 per cent in 2010. The decrease in unemployment is due to a retreat in labour force participation. The unemployment rate is expected to decline further and reach the United States Federal Reserve’s

(Fed) critical threshold of 6.5 per cent sometime in mid-2015. Unemployment in the euro area appears to have stabilized during 2013, at the historical high of 12.2 per cent. In the euro area, while the unemployment rate in Germany is near historical lows of about 5 per cent, Greece and Spain are facing extraordinarily high unemployment rates of about 27 per cent, with the youth unemployment at twice this rate. These high rates in the euro area are expected to come down only slightly, as GDP growth will not be strong enough to make significant progress over the forecast period. The unemployment rates remain low across much of East Asia, estimated at below3 per cent in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Reported unemployment still remains relatively low in India, but has deteriorated somewhat over the past fiscal year. In some of these economies, changes in employment due to structural issues have affected women to a greater degree, aggravating already significant gender gaps, with high female unemployment rates in Pakistan and low female participation in Bangladesh. Slowing growth in South Asia appears to have had a considerable adverse impact on employment. In Brazil and Mexico, unemployment remained at about 6 per cent or below. The unemployment rate remains at historical lows in the Russian Federation, between 5 and 6 per cent, despite a noticeable slowdown and in-migration from surrounding countries in the CIS.

Devaluation of Currencies Among major currencies, the yen devalued significantly vis-à-vis the United States dollar, from 80 yen per dollar by the end of 2012 to about 100 yen per dollar in March 2013, partly reflecting a set of drastically expansionary policies adopted by the euroto-dollar exchange rate saw some fairly wide swings, between1.28 and 1.34, but with no clear direction during the first half of 2013, and followed by a period of appreciation in the

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third quarter (reaching 1.38 before dropping to 1.34 during November). Currencies in a number of emerging economies depreciated by the greatest amount in May-June 2013, particularly in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey, at the same time capital inflows into these economies declined. In contrast, the renminbi of China continued to appreciate gradually against the US dollar and other major currencies. The difference between the trends in the exchange

rates of China and other large emerging economies can be accounted for by a number of factors, including much larger foreign reserves, a less open capital account, higher domestic savings, and more concentration of FDI in the capital inflows to China. Given the remaining current-account surplus of China vis-Ă -vis the United States, the renminbi is expected to further appreciate slightly against the dollar in 2014-2015, unless China liberalizes its capital and financial accounts soon, which could trigger more capital outflows and renminbi depreciation. The currencies of other emerging economies are likely to remain under depreciation pressures.

Price movements The prices of most primary commodities have declined moderately

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during 2013. the Brent oil price is expected to bearound $108 per barrel (pb) for 2014-2015, compared with an estimated average of $108.1pb for 2013 and $111.6 pb in 2012.As production is expected to increase by a large margin in 2013-2014, food prices declined steadily during 2013, with prices for wheat, maize and rice declining by about 5-10 per cent. In the outlook, food prices are projected to moderate further in 2014-201 based on the assumption of continued in-

creases in the global production of these grains.

Fiscal and Monetary policies of countries The average budget deficit of developed countries is estimated to have been reduced by 1.4 per cent of GDP to 4.5 per cent of GDP by 2013, compared with the peak of 8.9 per cent in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis. The average debt stands at108.5 per cent of GDP. Fed and the Bank of England have adopted forward policy guidance. The policy implies keeping the target range for the funds rate at exceptionally low levels as long as the unemployment rate remains above prescribed levels. The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has announced that it will continue the Quantitative and Quali-

tative Monetary Easing until the CPI inflation rate reaches the target of 2 per cent. In comparison, the forward guidance recently instituted by the ECB is to confirm that their current policy setting will stay in place for an extended period of time without specifying a numerical target for exiting this setting.

Policy risks associated with the unwinding of QE The tapering and unwinding of the unconventional monetary policies in major developed economies in the next few years pose significant risks for global growth and the stability of the world economy. It is a challenge for policymakers in these countries to harness a smooth process for this transition. At the macroeconomic levels, the timing and the pace of the unwinding are crucial: a premature and rapid unwinding may risk choking off the economic recovery, but a delayed unwinding could risk creating financial bubbles. At the technical level, contingency plans are also needed to deal with the overreaction of financial markets and prevent contagion. Efforts are needed to enhance supervision, regulation and surveillance of financial markets, in order to be able to identify and mitigate risks and vulnerabilities associated with the liquidity of some assets, market structure, and other problems in advance. For developing countries and emerging economies, the challenge is to shield themselves from the spillover effects of the unwinding of QE in major developed countries, which will be transmitted through international finance and trade. Many emerging economies today have gained policy flexibility from adopting a more flexible exchange-rate regime, compared with the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s. However, central banks in these economies may still have to defend their currencies from sharp depreciation in case of a significant decline in capital inflows. How to do it effectively remains a challenge.


Army Personnel Can Vote at the Place of Their Posting


n a welcome development for the Army, Navy and Indian Air Force personnel, the Election Commission has decided to permit them to vote at their place of posting in the coming general elections by treating them as ordinary residents of that constituency. Till now, the 15-lakh armed forces personnel used to exercise their franchise through postal ballot or by authorizing a relative in their native place as proxy to cast the vote on their behalf. The concession from EC, after steadfast opposition to any third alternative to postal ballot or proxy voting, came after a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph criticized the commission for adopting an obstructionist approach to rob armed forces personnel of their valuable right to vote. The decision to allow armed forces personnel to vote at their place of posting, as an interim measure, would be limited to “peace stations” and will not include those posted at forward and disturbed areas. Of the 15 lakh armed forces personnel, 13.5 lakh had already decided to vote through postal ballot or proxy. The EC decided to give postal ballots to Army


within 48 hours of finalization of nominations and it was for them to get it filled and sent back to the commission. The bench directed the Centre to give the list of peace stations to the EC within two days and requested it to take all possible measures to see that filled postal ballots were returned to the commission expeditiously before the counting day so that they did not go waste. There is a heavy deployment of armed forces in the disturbed and forward areas like north-eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, EC had opposed treating army personnel as ordinary citizens of areas they were posted in. It had claimed that if they were treated as ordinary citizens at the place of posting, then it would dramatically change the demographic complexion of the place and impede the choice of the local population in electing a representative.

A Mother Pardons Her Son’s Killer


young Iranian man escaped a hangman’s noose with just seconds to spare when the mother of the man he murdered intervened to save his life. The killer, known only as Balal, was saved dramatically as a crowd looked on, awaiting his execution. He survived despite the mother of the man he murdered in a street fight seven years ago refusing an offer of so-called blood money until the very last moment at the gallows. As the blindfolded convict awaited his fate, a grieving Samereh Alinejad, who

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lost another son in a motorbike accident four years ago, emotionally asked those watching the spectacle whether they knew “how difficult it is to live in an empty house.” Instead of participating in “qisas” – in which under the Sharia law of retribution relatives can push away the chair on which the condemned man stands – Alinejad pardoned the killer, imparting only a slap on his face as punishment. Other relatives of Abdollah Hosseinzadeh, whom Balal stabbed to death in 2007, favoured taking the blood money he and others had raised, but the family had not been unanimous. Police officers led Balal, black-hooded, to the execution site in the northern city of Nowshahr. Widely published photographs captured the drama, with the killer gritting his teeth, seemingly ready for death. But after slapping him, Alinejad removed the hangman’s rope with the help of her husband, Abdolghani Hosseinzadeh, a former professional footballer. Murder and several other crimes are punishable by death in Iran. The campaign to save Balal was launched last month by Kiaei and celebrities including Adel Ferdosipour, a football commentator and TV show host, and Ali Daei, a former international footballer, asking the family to forgive the killer. Meanwhile, appeals against death executions have been rising in Iran. Recently, a group of Iranian artistes launched an appeal against a woman’s execution. Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was sentenced to death for the murder of a former government intelligence official, and it has been suggested that her punishment could be imminent.

Lord Swaraj Paul Visits his Birth Place


eading NRI industrialist Lord Swaraj Paul recently visited Jalandhar, Punjab, to show his children his schools, Doaba Primary School and Doaba Secondary School where he studied when he was a child, and his grandchildren their roots. He recounted some childhood memories of his own. “I feel marvellous. It is a wonderful and a memorable moment for me. I am feeling highly emotional.

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And, I believe you students are very lucky to study here,” Lord Paul said. “I will always be grateful to the dedicated teachers who guided and inspired me to do my best while I was here and who made me look to the future. Let me pay tribute to all those teachers and convey my heartfelt thanks,” he said in his brief but inspiring convocation speech. During his close to two hours visit, in which he also took his family to his house where he was born, now converted to a school too, Lord Paul was visibly moved to “return to his roots” and termed the moment as “priceless”. Lord Swaraj Paul, who came with his son Angad, daughter Anjali, daughter-in-law Michelle and three grandchildren, took a tour of the three places and offered tributes on the statues of his parents. He visited the classrooms, interacted with students, got pictures taken with them and introduced his grandchildren to them. He also planted a sapling at his primary school. Lord Paul also attended a convocation at the Doaba College and re-lived his days there as a student between 1947 and 1949. Stepping into the college, he reminisced his student days and how the teachers at the prestigious institute shaped his mind and inspired him to become successful in life.

RSS Stimulus to Modi Campaigning


ashtriya Swayam Sevaka Sangh (RSS) is working hard on Modi’s campaign in various parts of the country. The organization is leaving no stone unturned to campaign for Modi. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too is involved in this


along with the RSS. The Modi project is being powered nationally by a high-octane advertising campaign visible in urban India, its wall-to-wall pitch crowding out competing election appeals. The RSS is also doing door-to-door campaigning. Observers believe that its role extends well beyond managing the ubiquitous Namoraths that are penetrating the remotest villages. Looks like the RSS campaigning is working wonders in rural areas. Political analysts believe that a section of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh have shifted their allegiance from the Bahujan Samaj Party to the BJP, included now in the Hindu fold, in the wake of the communal clashes last year in Muzaffarnagar, as conversations with some Dalits in parts of west UP demonstrate. The RSS is also employing its workers to oversee the election booths in this region. Similar teams monitor approximately 1.3 lakh booths across UP to “activate the organizational network to fill the gaps wherever there is a shortfall in BJP’s efforts. In recent years the RSS only began work “15-20 days before the elections” but this time, it started in November so that the plan reaches the bottom and the RSS’s many frontal organizations have all been drafted for a single goal. The RSS is employing different methods to campaign for Modi. For example, wherever it is cam-


paigning, every Hindu family is given a copy of “Rashtradev,” a local RSS paper. “Rashtradev” focuses on the achievements of Modi, with photographs of him on the front and back pages. It could be said safely that the RSS has been instrumental in creating Modi wave in the country.

Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari Supports Congress


hree days after AICC president Sonia Gandhi met Jama Masjid’s Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, triggering a political row, the religious leader announced his support to the Congress, the Trinamul Congress in West Bengal and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar. Bukhari, who had supported the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the 2009 polls, said Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party had betrayed the Muslims. He said though the Muslim community had grievances against the Congress, the decision to support the party was taken as the “country cannot be allowed to go to the communal forces”. On supporting TMC, he said Mamata Banerjee has already made it clear that she will not join the NDA and that is why he will back her. “Her role will be cru-

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cial in forming a government at the Centre. I appeal to West Bengal voters to support Mamata Banerjee,” he said. Terming communalism a “bigger threat” than corruption, Maulana Bukhari appealed to Muslims to support the Congress and ensure that “secular votes are not divided.” The BJP, which approached the Election Commission alleging that the meeting between the Shahi Imam and Ms. Gandhi could polarise the elections, reacted sharply to the Shahi Imam’s support.

“I am giving my opinion as a voter. I am free to give my opinion as no rules stop me from doing so. This is for people to decide whether they accept my appeal or not. In the last 65 years, no party has worked for the welfare of Muslims. If we had our own party, we would not have been in such a bad situation. Other communities like Akalis and Yadavs have their own parties,” he said. The BJP said while the Congress accused the party of practising communal politics, it “exposed” itself by seeking the support of Muslim clerics for votes. The Congress downplayed the meeting and said the Imam had met leaders of other political parties too.

UP women convince husbands to shutter liquor shops


group of women in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh have reportedly managed to convince their husbands to shut liquor shops all around their

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area. Most of these shops were selling country liquor. Country liquor often comes mixed with poison and is manufactured illegally and secretly by bootleggers in remote and isolated forested areas. These woman have now launched a campaign to educate men about the deadly impact of alcohol. Police also have aided their campaign to shut illegal liquor shops one after another. As many as six liquor shops have reportedly been downed their shutters so far. Large villages in rural Uttar Pradesh contain dozens of illegal liquor shops. Women have often been the victims of domestic violence, with alcohol being the main cause of men’s anger. Women in these villages have set an example of sorts by getting together and setting up an NGO called Mahila Samakhya, solely for clamping down on liquor shops. “These women would get together and discuss their problems daily. Some were victims of domestic violence, others complained that all their savings were snatched away by their alcoholic husbands and even the children’s education was being adversely affected,” reported Asian Age quoting Dr Safia Zameer, chief of the NGO, as saying. The seven villages that took part in the campaign include Zafarabad, Benipur, Haibatpur, Hulas Purwa, Sirsa Kalan, Bholaganj and Monchkala. The campaign has unveiled large-scale illegal manufacturing of liquor in the villages. Today, women call the police every time they see someone selling liquor in the area. So far, one liquor maker has been arrested. And his arrest led to the shut down of many liquor shops.

Manmohan’s Secretary Reveals how weak his boss was


anjaya Baru, former secretary of prime minister Manmohan Singh, has written a book, unveiling how his boss acted as a remote control in the hands of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. His book titled “The Accidental Prime Minister” notes that Mammohan’s second term in office was more or less devoted to obeying the orders of Sonia.


(Ms Gandhi) presenting them with suitable instructions. The book also exposes the charade that the Prime Minister has shared a trouble-free relationship with Sonia Gandhi. That may have been true to an extent during the first term of the UPA, but certainly not in Mr Singh’s second innings, when he was forced to follow Sonia directives in the matter of selecting his Cabinet colleagues. Singh, according to the book, felt let down when he saw nobody in his cabinet supporting his civil nuclear deal with the US.

When Buses in Chennai Try to Canvas for Jayalalithaa

But the book only reiterates what was widely believed about Manmohan Singh. And the book has proved that this was not just a belief but plain truth. Manmohan is angry with Baru and tells the media not to take his secretary’s words seriously. Baru was the media adviser for the prime minister. The Prime Minister’s Office says Baru was forced to resign as he had lost the confidence of the prime minister. It even accuses him of undermining the Congress Party. But his book says the Congress Party weakened the PMO. His Cabinet colleagues, most of whom are known cronies of the Nehru-Gandhi ruling dynasty, repeatedly troubled Singh. Though it was widely visible, the Congress Party has repeatedly stated that Sonia Gandhi never interfered with the government. Manmohan had relaised that he lacked electoral stature to challenge Ms Gandhi’s diktats. Whatever, it reflects poorly on a Prime Minister if his senior staff vets files on important national issues with an extra-constitutional authority



adras High Court has asked the government in Tamil Nadu to cover the paintings of leaves on small buses running in Chennai until the end of the elections. The paintings became an issue when the Election Commission said they bore an “uncanny resemblance” to the election symbol of the ruling AIADMK. The AIADMK chief, J Jayalalithaa, criticised the EC, asking if the rising sun, trees with green leaves, hands and cycles should all be covered since they are election symbols of other political parties. Moments after the high court order, Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer Praveen Kumar held a media briefing and said he had instructed the transport

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secretary to scrub off the pictures of leaves on the buses operated by the state-run transport agency. ‘Two leaves’ is the symbol of Jayalalithaa’s political party, AIADMK. The Election Commission said that the leaves, an advertised for the political party at the cost of people’s money. But the Tamil Nadu government went the extent of saying that the pictures of leaves on buses were aimed at educating people about need of protecting forests and greenery.

India test-fires its first underwater missile


ndia has test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile from an underwater platform. The missile has

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a range of more than 2,000 kilometres. The missile, test-fired in the Bay of Bengal, is the longest range underwater missile developed by the country so far. The missile can be launched from submarines. This is also the longest-range missile developed by India. Only the countries like the US, France, Russia and China have such a defense capability. And India now joins their league. The missile will be deployed on various platforms including the 6,000-tonne indigenous nuclear submarine “INS Arihant”, which will soon be ready for sea trials. The missile is part of the family of underwater missiles being developed by DRDO for the Indian strategic forces’ underwater platforms. The DRDO has already developed the BO5 missile, which can strike targets at a range of around 700 km.


Pepping Up the Economy New Govt. will have an Uphill Task


he corporate sector and the investors are waiting with bated breath for the results of the general election that has just ended. Many are banking on the NDA sweeping to power and in anticipation of that the stock markets have reacted positively, the Sensex touching alltime highs in recent weeks. The FDIs also are pouring in funds and chances are that the economy may rebound once the new NDA government takes over and starts initiating measures that will stimulate the economy. What everyone one would like to see is an end to the policy paralysis that characterized the UPA government at the fag-end of its term, which shook the faith of the investors and forced them to ‘flee’. One area where the new government should concentrate is infrastructure where much remains to be done. Many projects are held up due to various reasons such as those relating to environment, illegal mining and paucity of funds. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has just allowed resumption of iron ore mining in Goa though it has limited extraction to 20 million tones a year, which should help this sector boost its sagging morale. The decision will also have an overall positive impact on the economy as the mining sector accounts for a substantial percentage in the manufacturing sector which showed a sharp fall in February, 2014. Latest data showed a 1.9% contraction in factory output, which is considered by economists as the worst performance since May last. The poor result was due to consumer resistance to white goods and even non-durables. Now the companies are left with surplus production and unless consumer demand picks up, these units will


The new government at the Centre will have no plan of action cut out for it to stimulate the economy which is in really bad shape. Though inflation has come down, there is no knowing when the prices will shoot up owing to the unpredictability of supply of consumer items. Where the new Finance Minister will have to concentrate is on clearance of long-pending infrastructure projects that will go a long way in generating employment and boosting the economy.

have to face severe losses. The data released by the government showed nearly 27% fall in production of TV and communication equipment. The auto sector also presented a dismal picture. According to economists, the situation in 2013-14 is comparable to the worst scenario that prevailed during 1991-92, the year that ushered in economic liberalization under the stewardship of Narasimha Rao with Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Finance Minister. The new Finance Minister will have to urgently revitalise the manufacturing sector in order to stimulate the economy which grew at a slow pace of 4-4.5% in 2012-13. Trade deficit narrowed down marginally to $138 billion during the last financial year, thanks to a decline in gold imports. It may be mentioned

here that gold and crude oil imports form a substantial part of India’s imports. The government has been taking several measures to restrict gold imports, thus helping to narrow down the trade deficit, but it is helpless when it comes to curbing oil imports. Latest data released by the Commerce Ministry showed that non-oil imports fell by over 13% to $283 billion, largely due to restricted gold imports. But poor export performance during February and March meant that shipment rose by 4% during the financial year with the gains of rupee depreciation vanishing in recent months. Another piece of bad news is that in March trade deficit hit a five-month high of $10.5 billion. This will make it difficult for policymakers to remove restrictions on gold imports in the near future.

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RNI KARENG/2000/2368 Aseema English Monthly. Postal Reg. MNG/504/2012-2014 Publishing and Posting date : First of every month @ konchady post office

25042014aseemamay2014 final to print  

ASEEMA May 2014 - Transcending Boundaries

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