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India second in scientific research P.32


Not so clean India P.45

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November 2016 I 3

Editor-in-Chief Ajit Sinha Editor Anand Mishra Senior Copy Editor Ramesh K Raja Consulting editor Rajesh Mehta Guest Writers & Contributors Anil Nagar Graphic Designer Girdhar Chandra Fuloria Web Developer Mani Dhaka CORPORATE OFFICE Strategy Head Ajay Kumar VP Sales Siddharth Verma I 9811561645 Sales & Marketing (Corp) Aakash Das, Vaishali Gupta I 120-4234008 Government Alliance Stuti Bhushan I 9999371606 ACCOUNTS EXECUTIVE Yogesh Chikara FOR SUBSCRIPTION CONTACT 9990267759 Published By Ajit Kumar Sinha 713, 3BA - Tower No. - 4, River Heights, Raj Nagar Extn - Ghaziabad Uttar Pradesh-201003 Printed & Published by Ajit Kumar Sinha on behalf of Odyssey Infomedia Pvt. Ltd. Printed at First Impression Corporate Services Pvt Ltd E-114, Sector-63, Noida-201301 (U.P.) Editor-In-Chief: Ajit Kumar Sinha @ All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, and mechanical, including photocopy, or any other information storage or retrieval system, without publisher’s permission.

4 I November 2016


The new great game

Traditionally treated as a backwater of global geopolitics and strategic calculus, the Indian Ocean region (IOR) has over the last two decades emerged as a key area of competition among great powers, emerging powers and littorals states that are trying to keep pace with the fast paced changes at strategic level. As countries of East Asia, especially China, Japan and South Korea increasingly get concerned about extreme vulnerability of their energy supplies navigating through multiple choke points in the vast stretches of the IOR, India, because of its location feels jittery on military presence of any outside, non regional state, most notably China. At the same time, because of multiple reasons that range from massive changes in threat perception, shifting fulcrum of global wealth generation engine and increasing perceived assertiveness of China that


threatens to alter the status quo, the US is repositioning its strategic posture under the broad program of “rebalancing.” Further, for all practical strategic purposes, the IOR and the Pacific have fused into one huge continuum, broadly christened “Indo-Pacific” and which is populated by states of extreme disparity in size, military capabilities, economic structures and development, ruling class and philosophies. This mega region is also characterized by problems as varied from maritime piracy to sea-borne terrorism on the one hand and complex border disputes on the other.






Nina Vaskunlahti Ambassador of Finland to India


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Budget 2016-17: Pragmatic and Prudent P.28


Net Neutrality P.42

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Cooperation, key to collective security


he first Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru once said that 21st century will be of Asia. No prize for guessing his prophecies came true even before entering the 21st century. The fulcrum of global economy has decidedly turned east. As China and India emerge as next big economies of Asia, following the lead of Japan, Korea and ASEAN, it is natural that the center of power will also move towards Asia. This is exactly what has happened and which has been acknowledged by the US first in its Pivot to Asia program which has now turned into Rebalancing. The only catch is that while earlier it was understood that the focus will be exclusively on East Asia, it is now well realized that the Indian Ocean will be equally important, if not more. Indian Ocean, though third largest of oceans, is the most important from global trade perspective. More material and oil passed through this ocean compared to any other. As China and India both try to secure their trade interests their interaction in the India Ocean is increasing, and is creating concerns for each other. Both India and China are trying to push their interests in the vast Indian Ocean region by courting smaller countries, providing them with loans, aids and developing infrastructure in those countries. While China is well ahead in this game, India is slowly but surely catching up and is aggressively pushing its goal of neutralizing China’s first mover advantage. The US which has been the source of security in the region since the cold war, has the tough job of managing these two Asian giants. However, there are lots of areas in which these countries can cooperate. As Indonesian Tsunami showed, there are disasters that are not in one country’s capabilities to deal alone and as such, everyone needs to come together to deal with them. Another area where many countries are working together is combating piracy in western Indian Ocean. US, China and India are all working with each other to handle the scourge. Afterall, a shared ocean is everyone’s responsibility. At domestic level, the border situation is tense as cross border firing is taking toll on both army and civilian population. There has been a marked increase in these firings since India carried out surgical strikes to flush out terrorists from across the border. Needless to say, these need to be dealt with adequate strength. Finally, as the dust of Diwali settles down and winter gives first knock, the cities are waking up to the hellish concoction of fog and pollutants. What is unfortunate is that the situation gets grimmer with every passing year, with no concrete action visible on ground. Even though there is ban on burning crops in surrounding states of Delhi, the result is what it always is – zero. Already the most polluted city in the world, Delhi is choking, children and old people being the worst hit. Hopefully, the government would do something this year to make city air breathable again. Best regards

Ajit Sinha Editor-in-Chief

November 2016 I 7

THUS THEY SPOKE Is it fair for a man to say talaq thrice over the phone and a Muslim woman’s life to be ruined? The government will ensure that constitutional rights of Muslim women are protected. This issue shouldn’t be politicised. Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India I can’t tolerate anything against Amar and Shivpal... Amar has helped me a lot. If Amar was not there I would have been in jail, he is like my brother. Mulayam Singh Yadav President, Samajwadi Party

Karunanidhi is someone who will give rest to the idea of retirement to work without retirement. But that doesn’t mean that I am not willing to hand over the baton to him (M K Stalin). Already he is playing a crucial role in party affairs. M Karunanidhi President, DMK We welcome those who would like to cooperate with us. And we consider it wrong, that we always have to be in conflict with one another, creating existential threats for each other and for the whole world. Vladimir Putin President, Russia

If the Supreme Court has done something, it must be for the implementation of its judgement on July 18. The court has done what it thought was best for having its order implemented. Let’s see to what extent the order is carried out by the BCCI. Justice (Retd) R M Lodha Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India

I understand the sentiments (post Uri attack) because I feel the same. Going forward, of course, I would like to say that I would not engage with the talent from the neighbouring country (Pakistan) given the circumstance. Karan Johar Filmmaker, Bollywood 8 I November 2016


UP among best performers under AMRUT

Unique ID to judges to track performance

The Centre has selected Uttar Pradesh among the best performing states in implementing reforms under its flagship Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. UP beat 23 other states under the urban rejuvenation programme initiated by the NDA government. The largest state of India was selected after an exhaustive screening on a 15 point scale. As per the letter issued by the Ministry of Urban Development on September 30, UP has been allocated incentive of over Rs 60 crores for achievement of reforms milestone mandated for the financial year 2015-16. The incentive, according to the letter, was in addition to the allocated fund and no matching funds will be required to be given by the state government. In all, 60 cities including Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad, Rae Bareli, Etawah and Rampur have been taken up under AMRUT. Centre had approved a project outlay of Rs 4,646 crore for UP under Atal Mission for 2015-16.

The Union government has decided to allocate a unique identification number to every judge in the country, including those in the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts, to help the apex court track the performance of individual judges and make all judgments delivered through his or her career available on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG). As of now, no such records are maintained. Once all judgments are linked to the unique IDs of judges, the publicly — accessible NJDG can be looked at to examine a judge’s performance — the quality of judgments, number of adjournments allowed in different cases, time taken for delivery of judgments, case disposal rate, etc. Currently, such details about individual judges are not available on any centralised electronic platform. The Centre, as part of its ongoing implementation of the second phase of the e-courts project, monitored by the SC e-committee, has asked the National Informatics Centre to work on giving a unique ID to all judges.

Class X board exam to return The Centre is bringing back examinations in elementary schools across the country and Class X board exams for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students. At a recent meeting in New Delhi attended by state education ministers, it was decided that the Human Resource Development Ministry will bring an amendment to the Right to Education Act to allow states to conduct exams in elementary schools, and issue an executive order bringing back CBSE Class X board exams. While the CBSE Class X board exam is set to return in 2018, exams in elementary schools may be held from the academic year starting in 2017. Both moves will impact nearly 200 million students. The quality of education and learning outcomes in schools were deteriorating, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said after the meeting of the Central Advisory Board on Education, comprising state education ministers and independent experts. CABE is the highest advisory body on matters of education policy in the country.

November 2016 I 9


National hub for SC/ST entrepreneurs

Social media adviser to curb radicalisation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the National SC/ST Hub to provide support to entrepreneurs from the community. With an initial outlay of Rs 490 crore, the hub will work towards strengthening market access/linkage, monitoring, capacity building, leveraging financial support schemes and sharing industry-best practices. It will also enable central public sector enterprises to fulfil the procurement target set by the government. The Public Procurement Policy 2012 stipulates that four per cent of procurement done by ministries, departments and CPSEs will have to be from enterprises owned by SC/ST entrepreneurs. The MSME sector, including the service segment, is a key driver of India’s economic growth as it contributes nearly 38 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs close to 11 crore people. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced setting up of the National SC/ST Hub under the MSME Ministry.

Worried over the use of cyberspace and social media for radicalization and recruitment of Indian youth by terrorist outfits like the Islamic State, the Union Home Ministry has appointed former IPS officer Ashok Prasad as adviser on cyber and social media. Prasad had retired as secretary (internal security) in the home ministry this January. Earlier, he had a long stint in the Intelligence Bureau. Prasad will help the home ministry adopt a strategy to track and counter radicalization on the social media in real time as well as monitor and fight cyber threats. Of the nearly five dozen IS-influenced youths arrested across the country, all were found to have been radicalized by head-hunters, believed to be based in Iraq and Syria but active on social media sites and applications. Such youth were constantly directed by their handlers via closed Facebook groups and Telegram etc, to pledge allegiance to Islamic State.

Stricter norms for stents, ortho implants The Union Health Ministry has come up with draft medical devices rules proposing stricter norms for companies selling critical medical devices, such as stents and orthopaedic implants, to ensure quality. The draft proposes a shelf life for all medical devices and makes it mandatory for such products to carry manufacturing and expiry dates. It also suggests that companies must seek approval for their products from the regulator before launching them in the market. The ministry released the draft rules through a gazette notification recently. The government has sought comments from all stakeholders, after which the rules will be finalized. The move comes in the wake of increasing use of these medical devices. The draft rules also highlight the need for the government regulating the medical devices sector due to the inherent risk. Currently, quality checks for medical devices are weak in the absence of specific rules, guidelines and norms.

10 I November 2016


500 central schemes to go DBT way In the biggest-ever push to track beneficiaries, improve efficiency and check leakages, the Union government is looking to move nearly half of its 1,000-odd schemes to direct benefit transfer (DBT) from the next financial year. At least 447 DBT-applicable schemes have been identified across 58 ministries after a rigorous exercise of scrutinising 1,061 schemes from 73 ministries. According to reports, a decision on another 160 is expected over the next few weeks and ministries and departments are being asked to ensure that Aadhaar numbers of all beneficiaries are seeded and cash payments are made directly to bank accounts. Schemes which do not involve cash transfers will only have a list of beneficiaries with Aadhaar numbers to ensure that the gains are not cornered by a handful, but are more evenly spread. The plan is to expand the coverage of DBT significantly. Currently, 78 central government schemes are part of DBT.

CSIR against random filing of patents The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has sent out a stern message to its 38 laboratories to avoid indiscriminate filing of Indian and foreign patents. In order to inculcate responsible behaviour, CSIR has decided that henceforth 25 per cent of expenses incurred on prosecution and maintenance of Indian patents and up to 50 per cent of expenses on foreign patents will be borne by the laboratories. According to reports, CSIR Director General Girish Sahni has told laboratories “if they succeed in licensing, headquarter will give you a matching grant”. Sahni said “patents are just filed for the sake of filing without any technocommercial and legal evaluation”. He told them that even choice of countries where patents are being filed is “ad-hoc without any logic”. He has told each lab director to take “personal responsibility for IPR and business development, and must put in place systems and processes so that worthless patents are not filed and demonetisation is pursued vigorously”.

IAF selects 21 highways as landing strips Indian Air Force has identified 21 highway stretches across the country which can be used for aircraft operation during operational contingencies and natural disaster for rescue. Some of the stretches are close to the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Some of these also fall in border states of Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. According to reports, these stretches have been identified after a detailed study by the IAF keeping in mind the minimum requirement for landing and take off of fighter and other aircraft in case of emergencies. In response to a letter from Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar recently has suggested that a committee with officials from highways and defence ministries including those from IAF should coordinate to see which all stretches can be developed for this purpose. Some of the stretches that have been shortlisted for such purpose are in Jaisalmer region in Rajasthan and Dwarka in Gujarat.

November 2016 I 11


App to fight air pollution The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) recently launched an app, Hawa Badlo, which allows the public to file complaints of waste and leaf burning and construction and road dust. The app can be downloaded directly from the Apple App and Google Play stores. Each complaint made through the app will be geo-referenced and provide information about the time and location where the violation has taken place. EPCA will forward the complaint to the official in charge, depending on the location and the nature of violation. The app will filter out false complaints by creating a “reputation system” similar to those used in online product ratings. Officials selected to deal with the complaints will need to take action within 15 days. As of now, the complaints related to waste burning and construction dust will go to CPCB, DPCC and the municipal control boards. Issues related to road dust will be handled by the PWD.

Psychiatric clinic for cyber addicts at AIIMS The country’s premier medical institute, AIIMS, has started a special psychiatric OPD for people who are hooked to social media, online games or the internet in general. This, doctors say, had to be done in view of the increasing number of such addicts, mostly school and college students, who were gradually slipping into serious psychiatric issues due to the habit. According to Dr Yatan Pal Singh Balhara, a psychiatrist leading the AIIMS’s Behavioural Addiction Clinic, depression, anxiety and substance abuse were common in patients addicted to the internet. “They are counselled, their access to the internet is controlled and in rare circumstances, admission is required for their wellbeing,” Balhara was reported as saying. At present, this clinic is open for patients on Saturday, from 9 am to 2 pm. Doctors said that the duration may be increased later depending on footfall.

Tata Sons sacks Cyrus Mistry as chairman In a dramatic development that took the corporates and others by surprise, Cyrus Mistry was recently sacked as chairman of Tata Sons and was replaced by Ratan Tata, from whom he had taken over the reins of the over $100 billion salt-to-software conglomerate four years ago. The surprise announcement came after the Board of Tata Sons met in Mumbai and decided to replace 48-year-old Mistry and appoint Ratan Tata, 78, as interim head. The board named a five-member search committee, which includes Tata, to choose a successor to Mistry within four months. Mistry was chosen as Tata’s successor in November, 2011, and was appointed Deputy Chairman of Tata Sons, whose board he had entered in 2006. He was made chairman on the basis of his representation from Shapoorji Palonji, the largest shareholder in Tata Sons. Tata Sons is the main holding company of the group. 12 I November 2016


Strategic PSU sales get Cabinet nod

Jail tourism in Maharashtra soon

The Union Cabinet recently gave in-principle approval to NITI Aayog’s proposal for strategic sale of stateowned firms and entrusted DIPAM with the task of finalising the PSUs in which management control can be transferred to private players. The Cabinet meeting, chaired by PM Narendra Modi, decided that the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) would work out the broad methodology and valuation, thereafter fixing the base price for each of the PSU being put up for strategic sale. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the names of PSUs that are up for strategic stake sale would be made public on a case-to-case basis once the Cabinet decide to put them up for the auction. The government has budgeted to raise Rs 20,500 crore via strategic stake sale of PSUs, but Jaitley said it would not rush to sell the companies in order to achieve the target. Besides strategic sale, government plans to raise Rs 36,000 crore through PSU minority stake sale.

Maharashtra home department plans to throw open its jails to the common public keen on a taste of history. Officials in the department are working on a ‘jail tourism policy’ which will allow access to certain jails in the state by common people. The department is in the process of formulating which jails and what part of the jail premise will they allow access under the scheme. They have also to keep in mind the security concerns while making this policy. There are over 30 jails in Maharashtra, but not all will be opened up for visitors under the new policy. Jails that have some history will be opened up first after security arrangements have been carefully looked into. According to reports, tourists would get the real feel of a prison and would also be told about the routine of a prisoner. States like Telangana have recently announced such a policy, while the cellular jails in Andaman have been a popular tourist destination for long.

Hefty fines for drinking in public places Following several complaints of public nuisance due to liquor vends near residential colonies, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia recently announced that people consuming alcohol in public places would face a heavy fine and may even be arrested. A threefold action plan to crack down on illegal consumption of liquor in the open had been formulated and special teams comprising Excise Department officials had been formed. A special awareness drive will be started to make people aware of the dangers of illegal drinking in public, which is not merely a criminal offence but a social menace too. Following the awareness drive, anyone caught drinking in public will have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 and anyone creating nuisance will be fined Rs 10,000 and face arrest. The decision was taken at a review meeting of the excise and finance department chaired by Sisodia.

November 2016 I 13


Britain, US to send planes, troops to deter Russia in the east NATO allies including the US, Britain and Canada pledged recently to deploy forces, tanks, jets and artillery in Eastern Europe amid escalating tensions with Russia. Following a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, Britain announced it would send fighter jets to Romania in 2017, while the US promised tanks, artillery and more than 900 troops to Poland. The UK, Germany, Canada and other allies had also committed to contribute to a 4,000-strong ground force in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe, which aims to check Russian belligerence in the region. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the reinforcement would be the biggest build up of NATO forces since the end of the Cold War. NATO accuses Moscow of continuing to support pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine following the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, and the alliance believes Russia has stationed around 330,000 troops close to its western border.

UN votes to launch negotiations on nuclear weapons ban A United Nations General Assembly committee has voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite fierce opposition from the world’s nuclear powers. A resolution presented by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was recently adopted by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions, following weeks of lobbying by the nuclear powers for ‘no’ votes. The non-binding resolution provides for negotiations to begin in March next year on the new treaty, citing deep concern over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. Four of the five U.N. Security Council nuclear powers — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — voted against the resolution while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan. Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea.

Chinese Communist Party elevates Xi Jinping as ‘core’ leader The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) recently declared President Xi Jinping as the “core” of its leadership conferring on him a status similar to that of party founder ‘Chairman’ Mao Zedong but decided to carry on with the collective leadership system. According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, a key meeting of the CPC has called on all its members to “closely unite around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core.” 63-year-old Xi also heads the party as general secretary of the CPC, and the military besides the presidency. The announcement was made at the end of the four-day closed-door plenary meeting of the party comprising over 370 senior officials of the party. But contrary to the speculation that the party may dispense with the over three-decade rule stipulating collective leadership, the plenum stressed the importance of adherence to the collective leadership system of CPC.

14 I November 2016


FBI reopens probe into Hillary Clinton emails Federal law enforcement officials said recently that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the FBI seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to the US Democratic presidential candidate, and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. The FBI is investigating illicit text messages that Weiner sent to a 15-yearold girl in North Carolina. In a letter to Congress, the FBI director, James B. Comey said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” According to reports, Comey said the FBI was taking steps to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to the investigation. The development gives enough ammunition to the rival Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump to seize on the FBI action. Trump has fallen behind Clinton in most national polls and in many battleground states.

National Geographic’s famed ‘Afghan Girl’ arrested in Pakistan on corruption charges Sharbat Bibi, the Afghan girl of National Geographic fame, was arrested on corruption charges recently by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Peshawar. According to Pakistan’s leading daily, Dawn, Bibi was arrested from her residence for forging a Computerised National Identity Card. She has dual Pakistani and Afghan nationality, and both those ID cards have been recovered from her. National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry took a photograph of Bibi at a refugee camp near Peshawar in 1984. She became known worldwide as ‘Afghan Girl’, after McCurry’s photograph became the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic Magazine. At the time, she was about 12 years old. National Geographic also made a short documentary about her life and called her the ‘Mona Lisa of Afghan war’. Bibi remained anonymous for years after a picture of her made the cover of National Geographic. She was eventually located in 2002 by the magazine.

3D-printed bone implant can dissolve in body Scientists have developed a new type of 3D-printed polymeric bone implants that can survive in the body for long periods and be subsequently replaced with natural bone tissue in the body. It is said to be a major step towards improving surgeries after head or face injuries. Researchers at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) MISIS in Moscow, developed the implant with shape memory that can be used without fittings and blocking devices during surgery. According to Alevtina Chernikova from NUST MISIS, the implant could be 3D printed at the selected dimensions, compressed twice in protective, biodegradable shelling, heated during the surgery and eventually fix into the renovated area of bone tissue without using blocking devices and fasteners used in transplantology. “We have successfully applied the shape memory effect in a polymeric composite material based on polylactide, which is a polylactic acid,” reports said quoting Fedor Senatov, head of the project, as saying.

November 2016 I 15


The new great game The triangular competition among US, India and China make the Indian Ocean a highly complex strategic theater Anand Mishra


raditionally treated as a backwater of global geopolitics and strategic calculus, the Indian Ocean region (IOR) has over the last two decades emerged as a key area of competition among great powers, emerging powers and littorals states that are trying to keep pace with the fast paced changes at strategic level. As countries of East Asia, especially China, Japan and South Korea increasingly get concerned about extreme vulnerability of their energy supplies navigating through multiple choke points in the vast stretches of the IOR, India, because of its location feels jittery on military presence of any outside, non regional state, most notably China. At the same time, because of multiple reasons that range from massive changes in threat perception, shifting fulcrum of global wealth generation engine and increasing perceived assertiveness of China that threatens to alter the status quo, the US is repositioning its strategic posture under the broad program of “rebalancing.” Further, for all practical strategic purposes, the IOR and the Pacific have fused into one huge continuum, broadly christened “Indo-Pacific” and which is populated by states of extreme disparity in size, military capabilities, economic structures and development, ruling class and philosophies. This mega region is also characterized by problems as varied from maritime piracy to seaborne terrorism on the one hand and complex border disputes on the other. On this terra firma, the rise of China, occasional heating on South

16 I November 2016

China Sea, naval exercises in IOR to Western Pacific, competition for befriending smaller, strategically located littoral states and port developments etc. engender multiple and overlapping security dilemmas. Confounding the problem is the fact that the region is too large to be managed by one or two institutions that could underpin peace and orderly addressing of conflicts. In this environment, as the country with large coastline and location, India is finding strategic environment opportune as well as fraught with challenges. Traditionally, India’s security and strategic thinking has been highly land centric and naval power was only seen as a support to land and air power. This was primarily because of the land based disputes that the country faced since its independence. However, over last decade or so, importance of naval power as a crucial element of overall national security has increasingly dawned upon Indian security planning elites, both in military and civil circles. The increasing reach of pirates in western IOR and the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 have marked the immediacy of this change. This change is also seen in changing stance in maritime strategy documents and announcements of key officials, and in higher resource allocation to navy though it is still very low relative to army and air force. At a strategic level, India faces an increasing Chinese presence in IOR, both as part of anti piracy activities and in form of port calls. Key infrastructure development by China in India’s immediate neighborhood has rung alarm in New Delhi, which has made conscious efforts to build a stronger navy and forge closer

relations with key neighbors. But a stronger navy, greater military relations and naval exercises are only one aspect by which India can secure its traditional primacy in the IOR. It will also need to strengthen relations with neighbors, while not preventing them to befriend China. Further, creating a secure IOR also requires working with China in some

Indian navy participating in Malabar exercise

important issues like fighting piracy, which India is already doing, disaster management and humanitarian relief, climate change and fisheries management etc. Finally, more robust and inclusive institutions needs be encouraged to bring more stakeholders, including China and the US, so that key issues can be deliberated and actions be taken

before conflicts deteriorate.

Strategic importance of the IOR For most of last century, the strategic environment of the IOR was quite stable, interspersed by occasional episodes of conflicts such as India-Pakistan war and Gulf

war. This stability was underpinned by presence of major powers like the US, UK and France. While their presence continues, though to a slightly diminished level, the environment in which they operate has changed fundamentally and comprehensively, as a result of which virtually every great power and rising power has been forced November 2016 I 17

to reassess its stakes in the region and calibrate stance and force posture. So, while the India-China competition is altering the basic geopolitical calculus of IOR, new and non-traditional threats such as maritime piracy, maritime terrorism, natural disaster and climate change etc. offer much ground for cooperation among parties. Also, because of multiple potential flash points on IOR coastline, the importance for maintaining force projection capability is also very high for major powers. It is not without reason that over last few years, the reference to IOR as a crucial security theater has tremendously increased in security literature. The energy flows through the Indian Ocean are of particular consequence. Nearly 40 per cent of the world’s offshore petroleum is produced in the Indian Ocean. Over 35 million barrels of oil, accounting for over 60 per cent of the global oil trade passes through the entryways of the Indian Ocean each day. Most exposed and dependent on IOR for its international trade is India 95 per cent of whose trade by volume and 68 per cent of trade by value come through the IOR. As for energy security, about 3.28 million barrels of India’s crude oil requirement, nearly 80 per cent of its daily requirement is imported via the IOR. The figure crosses 90 per cent if the country’s offshore oil production and petroleum exports are also taken into account. Further, 45 per cent of India liquefied natural gas (LNG) is imported via the IOR. Needless to say, IOR is central to India’s security calculus. But India is not alone when it comes to overwhelming dependence on IOR for trade and energy security. China has to import over 55 per cent of its crude and over 80 per cent of its crude import passes through Strait of Malacca from the Indian Ocean. Japan and South Korea are also predominantly dependent on IOR as most of their crude imports come via IOR and Straits of Malacca. The criticality of the IOR in global oil trade can only be gauged from the fact that four most critical oil transit choke 18 I November 2016

points, namely, Cape of Good Hope, Bab-el-Mandab, Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Malacca are located in IOR. Of these, Strait of Hormuz and Strait of Malacca handle around 30 per cent and 27 per cent all maritime-traded petroleum each day, respectively. The Sunda and Lombok straits, Mozambique Channel and Ten Degree and Six Degree Channels are other key Sea lines of communication (SLOC) on IOR. Another crucial aspect of IOR’s strategic nature is that it is home to a large number of conflicts that are varied and often unique in nature. In fact, each of the subregions of IOR – East Africa, the Arabian Gulf, South Asia and Southeast Asia has been engulfed by instability and conflicts. According to a Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research, 182 conflicts were documented in 2013 which involved the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and western Pacific. This was a staggering 44 per cent of the 414 conflicts observed worldwide. The region was also the theater for half of wars. Further, Global Trends 2030 of National Information Council of the US finds water stress facing South Asia as one of the regions that can see conflicts over water resources over next decade or so. Besides centrality to the energy trade for major economies of the region, and large number of conflicts, during the course of last a little over a decade, piracy and terrorism have arisen as two major non-traditional, asymmetric maritime threats fundamentally changing the strategic nature of IOR, especially its western part. While maritime piracy has been an age old phenomenon along major SLOCs, the lethality and reach of pirates during 2005 onwards have increased tremendously, aided by out of the job civil war fighters, and easy availability of sophisticated weapons. The rise of Somalia based piracy in early 2000s has radically changed the approach of how maritime piracy has to be dealt with and what assets are required to fight pirates. What differentiates the Somali piracy from the piracy in

other troubled areas, Malacca for instance, is that whereas in other places piracy is mostly for stealing and robbery, that in Western IOR is primarily in form of hijacking for ransom. Secondly, Somali piracy differs from others in their penchant for attacking vessels on way. Of all attacks between 1994 and 2010, more than 95 per cent piracy attacks in Red Sea and Somalia have been on vessels under way. The impact of an organized piracy movement is felt in form of disrupted trade increased transportation cost via massive jump in insurance. Broadly it impacts regional economies. In 2012, piracy was estimated to have cost the global economy anything between $5.7 and $6.1 billion. Thankfully, last decade saw unprecedented international cooperation in handling the maritime piracy in the IOR, most notably the US led Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150). As a side effect, the presence of multiple navies operating in the sub region has impacted the strategic landscape of the region in which the US has maintained substantial assets at least since first gulf war. India and China have also committed substantial resources in this area. Along with piracy, maritime terrorism has added a new dimension to security threat in the IOR. Terrorists have historically been thought of land based and their usage of littorals and coastal waters was not taken seriously in anti terrorism thought process for long. That however, has changed over last two decades. Carrying out attacks on sea based targets or attacking land based targets by using coastal waters is a relatively new yet dangerous trend which shows increasing capability of various armed groups. Sea Tigers (navy wing of LTTE, now defunct), Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda have all displayed capabilities to launch attacks in seas and impact local maritime transportation. Indeed some very high profile terrorist attacks in Western IOR have been carried out in seas or by terrorists coming from seas. Sea Tigers were especially dangerous in this game;

they used fiberglass and fast attack boats to attack Sri Lankan navy and had developed semi submersible crafts for mounting suicide attacks. Al-Qaeda is also reported to have learned much from Sea Tigers while carrying out spectacular attacks on USS Cole and French tanker Limburg in 2002. It had also used cargo ships to deliver explosives used to attack US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In Southeast Asia, groups such as Abu Sayaf have used coasts to carry out attacks in Philippines, killing hundreds. India suffered a major terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 which was carried out by Pakistan controlled Lashkar-e-Toiba. Terrorists had come to Mumbai on fishing boats. Broadly, the rise of maritime terrorism has radically changed the anti terrorism paradigm globally, especially in the IOR because many states in the region are suffering from separatist and religious terrorism, are unable to control territory, are facing civil wars or are at advance stages of failure. For India, a connected problem to terrorism is the well developed narco-terror nexus. Sandwiched between Golden Triangle and Golden Crecent, multiple examples of narco-trade through seas have been recorded which were used to finance terror outfits in the country.

What complicates the situation are the multiple conflicts that these countries have among themselves and with other regional and non regional states, especially the US. These conflicts engender the security dilemmas for these countries, and their actions feed the concerns for most other counties as well. Three countries that are most strategically invested in the region are India, the US and China, and each of these has its own unique reason for its heavy investment in the region. The US has, as mentioned, held the anchor of peace in the region, and while in recent past, its

Strategic interests and actions

asset deployment has come down a tad, its new policy of rebalancing and its support for multilateralist approach to maintain security has underscored its willingness to keep playing its role of peacemaker and security provider. China, on the other hand, because of its huge vulnerability to the SLOCs of the region, wants to carve out a space for itself in the security architecture. Finally, India because of its location and traditional stronghold, wants to remain an indispensible power in the region. While there are other countries like Japan, Korea, Australia and Singapore that have genuine security concerns emanating out of IOR or broadly Indo-pacific, it is the triangular contest of US – India – China that defines the emerging regional order.

The high and increased strategic importance on account of being the busiest body of water for global trade, large number of conflicts, traditional and asymmetric security threats and large deposits of natural and mineral wealth makes IOR a crucial area from security perspective, for countries of the region as well as for major global powers, especially the US which has guaranteed stability in the region for last seven decades. On the other hand, as energy procured through the IOR becomes increasingly crucial for the well being of countries from India to China, Japan and Korea, the stake for each of these countries in IOR has increased substantially.

US interests During the cold war, and for over two decades after the demise of the same, the US has maintained its force in IOR underpinning peace and stability. And even though the US does not have a security threat to its territories emanating from this region, its strategic interests are clearly linked to the stability and security of the region. The core of its strategic interests in the IOR is to ensure that nothing happens in the region to hamper or impede the engine of wealth creation in

Indian Ocean has most of the major SLOCs and choke points

South, East and Southeast Asia. As such, keeping SLOCs secure for international commerce is a critical concern for the US. Interruption to this highway can severely impact the global economy and indeed the security of East Asia, provoking imprudent actions from countries of the subregion, many of whom are allies of the US. The US has immensely benefited from the economic rise of the Southeast and East Asia and considers this region extremely crucial for its continued prosperity, a view shared by most western economies. Keeping the crucial choke points of the Straits of Hormuz and Straits of Malacca open for trade is an important elements part of the broad endeavor for the US. In recent past, Iran has November 2016 I 19

threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to economic sanctions over its nuclear program, and Beijing has aggressively underscored it’s claims to control the ‘‘Cow’s tongue’’ islets that make the way for sea lanes to Japan and Korea. So far, no real threat to these choke points or the trade routes of IOR in general has emerged from any state or non state actor, the increasing power-projection capabilities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Iran’s nuclear program, which has started to look less ominous post nuclear deal with P5 +1, may present credible challenge to the US in the region. From this perspective, it is necessary for the US to maintain the ability to bring in military assets to the region in quick notice from Pacific Command (PACOM) or Central Command (CENTCOM). Finally, the US would not like the region to develop as a potential space for naval competition between India and China, both of whom are jostling for influence. It is in the US interest to act as pivot in the strategic competition of China and India. Because of importance of the IOR, Quadrennial Defense Review 2010 mentioned that “An assessment that includes U.S. national interests, objectives, and posture implications would provide a useful guide for future defense planning.” At operational level, US maintains a powerful presence in the IOR. It bases its 5th Fleet in Bahrain, and uses the island of Diego Garcia as a major air-naval base. It has also committed sufficient assets to task forces like CTF 150, whose mission is to counter terrorist acts and related illegal activities, CTF 151, which aims to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea and to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation. The American intent to maintain a strong force in the region is further displayed by its decisions to not take defense cuts out of the Pacific Command and base approximately 60 percent of Navy ships and aircrafts in the Indo Pacific region. The US is also increasingly trying 20 I November 2016

to strengthen the naval relations with key regional states like India, Australia and Japan and encourages these countries to cooperate among themselves.

Chinese interests The Chinese economy has grown at high single digit and often double digit rate for nearly three decades and in this period, the country has established itself as a global manufacturing giant, which obviously needs massive energy resources to run. Like other East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea, China has depended on imported crude for a large fraction of its overall energy consumption. As its supplies have diversified from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America, China is naturally concerned about safety of its imports, not just of crude, but increasingly of other natural resources too, including minerals and ores. In this light, the crucial Chinese strategic interest in IOR and in South China Sea is guided by the need of securing its trade and imports. Because bulk of its oil supplies come from the Straits of Malacca, China suffers from Malacca Dilemma just as India suffers from Hormuz Dilemma, especially after Chinese involvement in Gwadar port. Because of such heavy exposure to high seas for crucial imports, China feels the necessity to be able to defend its trade in high seas. From the basic analysis, it appears that Beijing’s principal strategic interest lies in the need to protect the SLOCs in the IOR, which is crucial for the country’s energy imports. However, in recent past, Beijing’s articulation of the IOR’s strategic importance is evolved and point towards a more pronounced desire to have a strong presence in the region. And there are a few indications to this desire. The drills in Lombok and Sunda Straits in Western Pacific show China’s ability to operate far from its shores and confirm that Beijing is watching the developments in the region carefully. Another significant

endeavor of Chinese military in the region has been its participation in the anti piracy activity in western IOR. Through this exercise, Beijing has established semi permanent presence in this crucial subregion. Over the course of last decade or so, the military stance of China has given increasing importance to developing a deep water force projection capability. The 2014 defense white paper entitled “China’s Military Strategy” marked significant progression this direction and asserted that “the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea must be abandoned.” It emphasized “enhanced military strategic guidance” for its long-held

concept of “active defense,” and by “highlighting maritime military struggle,” indicated that most urgent threats for the country could emanate from offshore and that conflicts may take place in high seas. The document thus highlighted that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) needed to graduate from a coastal force a deep water navy and move from ‘offshore waters defense’ to the combination of ‘offshore waters defense’ with ‘open seas protection.’ Recent efforts in acquisition of assets by PLAN can be understood in this light. Realizing that even with a significant investment, it may not be able to decisively win conflicts in

faraway waters of IOR in near future, China has upped diplomatic efforts to forge strong relations with littoral states in the IOR. It has offered liberal assistances and undertaken large scale infrastructure projects, especially ports, in these countries which are commercial in basic nature but can form rudimentary facilities for stationing military assets. It has set up a base in Djibouti and invested significantly in Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar. Most significant of its overseas strategic investments, however, has been in Gwadar port in Pakistan which is highly strategically located.

Attackers in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks came from sea on a fishing boat

China’s investments in both Myanmar and Pakistan show a synchronized attempt to develop infrastructures which can be used to reduce dependence on the highly vulnerable Straits of Malacca for energy transportation. It has hosted the African nations’ summit, written off substantial debts to African nations and has developed sound relations with countries in East Africa facing IOR, like Kenya. China’s diplomatic efforts have been noted by analysts and some have commented on the rise of Chinese diplomacy even as US is pushing harder in Pacific.

Indian response India, because of its location and large coastline on IOR, has traditionally regarded itself as the primary player in the IOR. In its expansive view, India considers its perimeter of influence to stretch from East coast of Africa to West coast of Australia. However, it never had the might to petrol and assert its perceived influence in this stretch. Though, with enhanced economic clout, it has gradually increased its military capability, including naval capability, it is still in a disadvantageous position relative to China’s power. As it faces China probing IOR with increased frequency and with more potent assets, India feels more insecure. Dependent on the Gulf region for energy security, it also suffers from an acute Hormuz Dilemma, especially after China has established itself in Gwadar. It sees Chinese port visits in Sri Lanka and its deepening relations with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives and with key African states as developments which smack of greater territorial ambition of Beijing, and is deeply concerned by these developments. Facing a rising China whose actions in South China Seas belie a peaceful rise, India has also started to change its maritime defense strategy which is displayed in its official documents. Its latest Maritime strategy report, published in 2015 and entitled “Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime November 2016 I 21

Security Strategy” marks some of these shifts. First and foremost, it has expanded the navy’s areas of interest (both primary and secondary) showing India’s intent to play a larger role in the region. It has especially focused on West IOR and included places like Gulf of Oman and Aden, where it did not have even secondary interest, in its primary areas of interest. It has also brought in Southeast Indian Ocean, including sea routes to the Pacific Ocean and littoral regions in the vicinity, the Mediterranean Sea, the West Coast of Africa, and their littoral regions in ambit of India’s secondary areas of interest. The

in the direction towards greater engagement in various theatres. Third aspect in which the document assumes importance is the way in which it accepts the notion of IndoPacific and one geopolitical entity. Traditionally, India has kept the two oceans separate in its calculus. It states “The shift in worldview from a Euro-Atlantic to an IndoPacific focus and the repositioning of global economic and military power towards Asia has resulted in significant political, economic and social changes in the Indian Ocean Region and impacted India’s maritime environment in tangible ways.”

in managing strategic interests in the western and eastern sides of IOR and the Pacific. To counter the proactive diplomatic exercise of China in the IOR, India has embarked on forging stronger relations with littoral states of the region. It has made fresh attempts to improve relations with countries like Bangaldesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka with civil and military aids. Recently, India signed an agreement for conducting hydrographic surveys with Seychelles and gifted second Dornier aircraft for maritime monitoring to that country. Further, it is aiming to put in place a network of technical infrastructure through which it can keep an eye on the developments in the region. It has launched a coastal surveillance radar project as part of a project to build a maritime domain awareness network across the Indian Ocean. It calls for putting up eight surveillance radars each in Mauritius and Seychelles, six radars in Sri Lanka and ten radars in Maldives.

Multilateralism to reduce dilemmas

Gwadar port in Pakistan offers China a strategic foothold in the region

secondary areas of interest now also include South China Sea, East China Sea, Western Pacific Ocean and their littoral regions. The document has not outlined what sort of assets India will commit to these regions, but the basic intent to engage on both sides is clear. Second area in which a shift is visible is Indian Navy’s approach towards the concept of a net security provider. While the report shied away from actually donning the role, it has attempted to define what it means to be a net security provider. The strategy outlines: “The term net security describes the state of actual security available in an area, upon balancing against the ability to monitor, contain, and counter all of these.” This enunciation is seen as a baby step 22 I November 2016

Besides building up its own naval capabilities, India is building a progressively stronger military relation with the US which has a large naval component. At present, US has more joint exercises with India than with any other country. The annual Malabar naval exercise has become a permanent feature of the naval relation between the two countries. While the intent has been to have Japan and Australia as other permanent participants, their participation has not been consistent. To make up for this, India carries out bilateral exercises with these two countries along with a few other countries in Southeast Asia, most notably Singapore. It has also increased its military engagement with Vietnam. All of these indicate a more integrated approach of India

The net impact of the action of each of the major stakeholders in the region, namely the US, India and China, is that each is feeling insecure and uncomfortable which is leading to a vicious cycle of military buildup and increasing chances of conflicts. While China feels insecure from the growing military relation of India with the US and other major American allies, India feels threatened by the actions of China in the IOR which India finds ominous. Even though China’s primary theater of action would remain South and East China Seas and conflicts of that subregion at least in near and mid term, its asset build ups in the IOR and gradually increasing military visits to countries close to Indian shores feed India’s response in form of greater naval capabilities. The US on the other hand, realizes that an escalating environment is not conducive for keeping the trade routes free from trouble. This triangular tussle forms

the new terra firma of today’s IOR. This however, does not mean that there is no scope for cooperation or that these countries are not cooperating on multiple issues. They indeed are cooperating on bilateral level. Both India and China are working together on anti piracy drive in western IOR. These two are even having limited joint military exercises. China and the US are cooperating strongly in trying to stabilize Afghanistan. All of these countries have cooperated in times of disasters like Indonesian Tsunami and search operations in case of MH370. There are more

of the region are most diverse, those institutions that exist can and should be enlarged to bring in these three together. For example, the Indian Ocean Rim-Association of Regional Cooperation (IORARC), rechristened as Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), can be made more active by having both China and the US as members. Similarly, the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a 35-member security oriented group facilitating exchange of views among the naval professionals, should invite high level Chinese naval officials to deliberate on issues related to the

the new great strategic game will unfold in coming decades. Robert Kaplan notes, “As the competition between India and China suggests, the Indian Ocean is where global struggles will play out in the 21st century. The old borders of the Cold War map are crumbling fast, and Asia is becoming a more integrated unit, from the Middle East to the Pacific.” According to most experts, the job of the US is to manage the rise of both these powers to avert a confrontation. At the same time, the US would want to leverage inherent military, institutional and democratic strength of India to

PM Modi inaugurates the Radar for CSRS India-Seychelles Project

avenues for cooperation, such as the fight against overexploitation of fisheries and joint expeditions to explore mineral wealth in deep seas. Such cooperation invariably helps in reducing tensions or at least reducing possibilities of accidents arising out of misunderstanding or miscommunications. It is also worth noting that unlike other regions, IOR does not have a strong network of multilateral institutions which can facilitate consultations among these players at bilateral and trilateral levels. While it is true that the spread of the region is so large and countries

region. The need for a forum for consultation among the US, China and India to allay fears arising out of actions of each and bilateral relations has also been expressed by experts. The IOR has undoubtedly become strategically crucial as it has facilitated the rise of East Asian and Southeast Asian economies. With a perceived gradual decline in American commitment to the region, which is allayed by the “rebalance,” along with the rise of China and emergence of India, this vast region, replete with diverse subregions infested by unique issues, is where

create a more stable Indo-Pacific region and India sees it as an opportunity to maintain an upper hand in the IOR. At the end of the day, augmentation of naval power to protect merchant fleet is normal, as underlined by Alfred Mahan, and both China and India are doing what is rational, i.e. enhancing deep water capabilities to protect their trade. Prudence would, however, require these two to find ways to understand each other’s legitimate requirement and not feed undue fears. It is a tough task, though.

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26 I November 2016

The first impression of Finland in the minds of most Indians is of the country with best educational system in the world. While that is true, Finland is equally known globally for its expertise in clean tech, IT, start up environment and Northern Lights. Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti has recently been posted as Finland’s Ambassador to India. After graduating from the University of Turku in 1983 with a Masters Degree in Political Sciences, Ms. Vaskunlahti joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in 1984 and has held many important positions in various countries and in the European Union in Brussels. Prior to her posting in New Delhi, she served as Finnish Ambassador to Turkey for four years. In an interaction with Anand Mishra, Editor and Rajesh Mehta, Consulting Editor, Governance Today, Ms. Vaskunlahti shares her opinions about how to strengthen the relations between Finland and India. EDITED EXCERPTS: You have recently taken over as the new Finnish Ambassador to India. What are your expectations from the new assignment? For me, a totally new, fascinating country, rather a subcontinent, to explore! But on a serious note, India has so much potential and Finland has so less visibility, both in terms of a country and what Finland and Finnish companies have to offer to India. So, ensuring more visibility for Finland is on the list, and that is also a challenge, because we are talking about a rather small country far up in the northern Europe! And there is a fair amount of competition going on: everybody wants to be noticed in India. Thus, that is something we have to figure out how to do. As you must be aware, Finnish Prime Minister visited India last February, during Make in India initiative in Mumbai and had a very good discussion with Prime Minister Modi.

What is Finland’s New Action Plan towards India? Which are the major areas in which you see high scope of cooperation between India and Finland? An action plan was published in 2013, but a lot of new things have happened in India since then. A new government has taken over, because of which new horizons have come up, and as such, we need to revisit our action plan to respond to these new horizons. More presence, more visibility is required. Having said that, there are areas in which Finnish competence is well known, examples being clean tech, new energy solutions, IT, education, that Finland can offer. Also what we need to realize is that two way interactions is required. For example, when we talk about education and training; it is not something that can be exported per se. When education experts or ministers visit Finland to study our system, they pick up elements most useful to them and try implementing them in India.

Finland is going to be celebrating 100 years of Independence next year. What are the major programs which you plan to undertake on this historical occasion? Yes, indeed, it is a historic event and we have planned to spread out many events throughout the year because it is a yearlong occasion. The highlight will of course be on

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December 6th when Finland declared independence hundred years ago. We are planning to start the celebrations with a concert of Finnish music program comprising of both Finnish classical and lighter music. There will also be Finnish theatre and dance, movies and photography. We are also planning to put up exhibitions in four or five Indian cities of Northern Lights which are visible in Northern Finland and are very popular among Indians. Further, we are planning to have discussions and workshops where people from both countries would be able to share their experiences This interaction between people of the two countries is high on my priority list; let us make most of the connectivity between the two countries. Such people to people interactions create a positive impact, and create basis for greater economic interaction moving forward. And maybe even Father Christmas will pay a visit to India.

Relations between Finland and India have diversified in the last decade. How do you wish to encourage Finnish companies to capitalize on India’s growing business opportunities? I think I would highlight clean technologies. I am aware that India has an ambitious target for producing high per centage of its power generation from renewables and we would like to contribute to that target. I am impressed by the fact that India has already ratified the Paris convention for climate change, Finland is on its way to do the same shortly. This ratification by India shows that India is very serious about its commitments on emissions. It also means that India is very serious on renewable energy and that is where I think Finnish companies have a lot to offer, whether we talk about solar or waste to energy or smart grid 28 I November 2016

technology. Also, India is working on improving its infrastructure and we can contribute to the same. For example, you are working on modernizing harbors and Finnish technology can help in multiple ways; an example could be cranes.

How is Finland contributing to Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Startup and Digital India initiatives of the government of India? This is something that Finnish companies are currently looking into. Shortly, our Deputy Foreign Minister is about to visit India and he will be accompanied by a business delegation of about a dozen companies. The Indian initiatives will surely come up in the discussions. On these initiatives, though, I think there has to be clear understanding of expectation from the Indian side and then see what Finnish companies have to offer.

How do you see the progress of technology collaboration between two countries? Here is something quite interesting. In the field of academics, the cooperation between Finland and India in technology based education is quite established. In 2014, when Indian President visited Finland, a memorandum was signed which set a framework for interaction between Indian IITs and 12 Finnish institutions. It established Indian Finnish Consortia for Research and Education (INDFICORE). Two seminars under this have been organized so far in healthcare technology and biology. So that’s going on but yes more needs to be done in this area. But memorandum just gives you a framework; institutions need to take it forward in operational sense. And because there is high

quality academic research is going on in both India and Finland, there cannot be a better field for fruitful the collaboration in technical space. Then we have a couple of government to government working groups, which I think can be a bit more active. It is necessary that the MOUs should be followed up actively to achieve maximum impact. Energy is one area where I think there is lot of scope and which should be followed vigorously.

Finland & India are both vibrant democracies. How can we learn from each other? I would go back to my intention of increasing interaction between people. NGOs, young parliamentarians (I know lot of young Finnish parliamentarians whom I have been encouraging to visit India and interact with Indian parliamentarians) should be visiting each other’s countries, interacting, discussing, and comparing notes. I am a great believer in democracy and democratic systems. I think these are what we need to be safeguarding all the time. For both our countries, democracy is a starting point but in today’s world nothing can be taken for granted, including democracy. That means you have to defend it all the time, stay awake, be aware and conscious about it. We need to keep encouraging people to participate in politics. The worst thing that can happen in both our countries is people getting cynical about politics thinking it just to be corrupt or feeling that the decision making takes place high above our heads and thus, “none of my concern”. Democracy is a right and a privilege which if not used properly, shrinks. So, increase in participation is required which in turn, leads us to importance of education and access to information. It is also important to create a free environment that encourages people to talk, debate and to disagree.

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IRIS TECHNOLOGY IS THE MOST SECURED MODALITY IN BIOMETRICS WORLD Financial inclusion, internet based banking, and many more transactions are impossible without reliable and confidential identification technology. Biomatiques is a leading player in the latest Iris Recognition Technology whose products and services help in secure transactions across multiple services, including financial transactions. It’s broad range of products provide security solutions for individuals, townships, government departments and from small-medium enterprises to large corporations. Biomatiques’ applications range from tracking employees’ schedule adherence, basic access control mechanisms in apartments to large corporates, Could you share the products and immigration and law enforcement. services of your company? What is the In an email interaction with strategy and vision of Biomatiques in its Governance Today, Tamaal Roy business space? CEO, Biomatiques Identification Currently we have a flagship product model; EPI-1000 (STQC certified) for any Aadhaar enabled services. We Solutions Pvt. Ltd, shares his have many prototype Iris Scanners available for different opinion on the products and services business case in any verticals. Presently, we’re outreaching of the company and the domain in system integration across all the verticals for iris biometric identification displacing traditional authentication which it operates. methods. EDITED EXCERPTS: 30 I November 2016

How do your solutions help achieve greater financial inclusion?

Using Iris technology one can make secured transactions and providing the ease of convenience to the poor, since they are into laborious activities, and due to illiteracy, it is difficult for them to remember and safeguard the pins/ passwords/ cards and moreover the most abused part are their hands for which retrieving fingerprint can be a hassle. Iris technology is the answer to work under any weather, age, working conditions whereas Fingerprints cannot. With Iris technology one does not have to remember the pin/ password or carry any debit/ credit cards.

Biomatiques is the first and only Indian company in this field which has received the Standardization, Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) from Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY). How has that come about? Obtaining an STQC certificate is very crucial for becoming the UIDAI certified vendor for Aadhaar based authentication market. Currently, there are two Biometric modalities recognized by the Government of India, one is Fingerprint and the other is Iris technology. Since we are one of the manufacturers of Biometric Iris technology our highly professional team of engineers has worked very hard to conceive this concept in making the Iris technology meeting the standards and requirements of UIDAI to obtain the STQC certificate. With this achievement we have been able to do business with many state Governments for various Government schemes as well as ration distribution and pension

disbursements to the citizens of India.

What are the growth and expansion plans of Biomatiques? Which are the new areas you are working on? We’re persistently involved in focusing the growth plan considering the existing market of beneficiary authentication for the delivery of govt. welfare/ schemes using Aadhaar enabled services. We’re getting associated with system integrator for enabling the most accurate iris biometric based identification solutions (Made in India) for eKYC / identity verification in the Govt. market as well as BFSI, Telecom and Education sector.

Could you comment on the changing trends in the bio metrics market? It is said future of secure technology is Eyes. Could you explain? Biometrics is the technology used for the purpose of authentication and verification. Biometrics measure and analyze both physiological and behavioral characteristics such as DNA, fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns, etc. for authentication or identification purposes of a human being. Initiatives taken by the government to adopt biometrics systems for the purpose of identification and verification, introduction of e-passports, use of biometrics in criminal identification are some of the drivers that are fueling growth of the biometrics system market. Use of biometrics in e-commerce and cloud computing solutions for biometrics are the key opportunity areas for the market. Iris technology is the most secured modality in Biometrics world with the FAR performance at 1:12 million which is unmatched by any

other Biometric modality. Pattern of human eyes remains unchanged from birth till date; moreover even identical twins have unique patterns of the eyes, thus making Iris technology the safest and secured technology. It cannot be replicated.

How do you think the recent advancements in IRIS technology would change the way banking is done? How can solutions providers like you facilitate this change? Currently the most common technology used by the banks is fingerprint, which has many performance issues and can easily be duplicated being a touch technology. Since Iris recognition is a contact-less and cannot be duplicated nor replicated being the most robust and highly secured biometric at present.

What is the scope of Iris Technology in E-Governance? E-Governance applications have humungous scope for the iris technology. Aadhaar UID is becoming the tool for identity verification when it comes to beneficiary authentication. In E-Governance, G2C relation includes the services provided by the Government to the Citizens. These services include the public utility services i.e. telecommunication, transportation, post, medical facilities, electricity, education and also some of the democratic services relating to the citizenship such as certification, registration, licensing, taxation, passports, ID cards etc. Therefore citizen authentication in E-Governance application in G2C,C2G, G2G, G2B relationship is imperative in controlling misuse and freezing loopholes. November 2016 I 31


India ranks second in highquality scientific research

The Rising Stars report used the Nature Index which tracks the author affiliations of published research articles by more than 8,000 global institutions in a group of 68 journals 32 I November 2016

Ramesh Kumar Raja


elieve it or not, India is at the second position among the ten countries with the highest absolute increase in their contribution to high-quality research publications between 2012 and 2015, according to a new report which shows that the growth of research in the country is only behind China’s. The Nature Index 2016 Rising Stars supplement identifies the countries and institutions showing the most significant growth in high-quality research publications over the four years between 2012 and 2015. These are the emerging research powers to watch. Rising Stars uses the power of the Nature Index, which tracks the research of more than 8,000 global institutions published in a group of 68 high-quality natural science journals, which have been independently selected by scientists. While India makes its mark, the index finds that it is Chinese institutions that are leading the world in rapidly increasing high-quality research outputs. 40 of the top 100 highest performers across the globe are from this scientific powerhouse, with 24 of those showing growth above 50 per cent since 2012. The United States – which remains the largest contributor to high-quality scientific papers overall – is second, with 11 entrants into the top 100 despite

IISER is among the four institutions from India among the top 100 featured in the Nature Index

many starting from a high base. Nine institutions feature from the United Kingdom, eight from Germany and four from India. The four institutions from India among the top 100 featured in the index are the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Chemistry made up more than half (51 per cent) of India’s scientific contributions to the index in 2015. Following the Chemistry, 36 per cent was from physical sciences, nine per cent from life sciences and four per cent from earth and environmental sciences. “India’s emergence as one of the world’s largest economies is being reflected by its increasing contribution to the world’s highquality research publications as the Nature Index Rising Stars has shown,” Derk Haank, Chief Executive Officer of Springer Nature, said while releasing the report in New Delhi recently. He was speaking at a conclave titled “Research and Innovation in Science for Sustainable Development of India”. The conclave

organised by Springer Nature, brought together the diverse audience for a thought-provoking discussion on the role of science and innovation in supporting sustainable development in India. According to Haank, India needs to grow an attractive environment for research, so that students and academics that leave the country for higher studies and research opportunities have an incentive to return. “It is not that scientists educated in India don’t want to come back, they are desperate to come back. Many of them will come back if there is basic infrastructure for them to be able to work,” said Haank. Haank further said reports like this — proving that India is in fact progressing — will make them think and make it easy for them to come back and take office.“The Rising Stars report shows that India is moving in the right direction and hopefully, it will stimulate not only the government and individual scientists, but also young people in schools to take science more seriously,” the Springer Nature CEO said. An earlier report, published

by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), shows that less than three per cent of school-going children want to pursue a career in science in India. Students drifting to other joboriented courses after graduation (bachelor) in science is prevalent in India owing to the widespread impression among them that unlike professional courses, a career in basic science is not lucrative. The academic ambience in many universities does not encourage the research pursuits of faculties. Research management is another very serious problem faced by many Indian universities. China spends enormous amounts on basic research, Haank said. India currently spends around one per cent of its GDP on research and development. In contrast, China spent about $209 billion on research and development in 2015, or 2.1 per cent of its GDP, according to the report. However, rather than comparing progress with other countries, it is important to be moving in the right direction, Haank said.

November 2016 I 33


PERFORMANCE OF MPS IN PARLIAMENT MUST BECOME AN ELECTION ISSUE AND A PRIMARY RE-ELECTION ISSUE Rabindra Kumar Jena is a young first time BJD Member of Parliament from Balasore Lok Sabha constituency, Odisha. Jena has already made his mark in Parliament by being one of the most active MPs by raising over 300 questions, participating in 172 debates and introducing nine Private Member Bills to amend important legislations, and by being a strong votary of developmental, women and child related issues. A self made man, prior to joining politics he served as Managing Director of Balasore Alloys Ltd and turned it around. The lawmaker firmly believes that social development is key to uplifting India and should be the priority for any government. Jena discusses various governance related issues with Ramesh Kumar Raja of Governance Today. EDITED EXCERPTS: You have been quite active in Parliament despite being the first time young MP? Do you think the oft criticism about Parliament not functioning to its full potential is justified? How young MPs like you can make Parliamentary process and proceedings more engaging and productive? Unfortunately, past few Lok Sabhas witnessed logjams by opposition parties and violation of maintenance of law and order. But, parliamentary democracy is 34 I November 2016

showing signs of recovery as the output, particularly in the last two sessions, have been higher compared to previous sessions. Rajya Sabha met for 96% of its scheduled time while Lok Sabha met for 101% of its scheduled time. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha spent more than half of its time on non-legislative business, discussing issues like inflation, atrocities against Dalits and recent incidents in Kashmir. Parliament is the shrine of democracy. Sadly, there are instances, where it is being seen that the ruling party takes the advantage in the parliament, of fulfilling its own agenda which is highly contradicting to what the parliamentary democracy stands for. My contribution for making the parliamentary proceedings more productive can only reflect if I am always prepared, in the sense, having proper knowledge of the issues faced by my constituents and other relevant national issues. I have intervened the parliamentary proceedings through way of 304 questions that I have asked till date, participation in 172 debates and introduction of nine Private Member Bills to change important legislations. Performance of MPs in Parliament must become an election issue and a primary reelection issue. It could serve as a powerful incentive for MPs to engage and be more productive in Parliament in order to swing votes marginally.

The current government’s focus appears to be on the headline grabbing big pictures and industrial development. But there is a feeling that important social and inclusive developmental objectives are not the getting due attention. Do you agree

with this observation? Which are the areas which require more attention and care from the Union government? Indeed, the BJP government lays more emphasis on managing headlines than putting the right implementation strategy in place for its glorified vision statements and promises. The intended objectives lack substance considering the ground reality. Also, while it is important to have industrial growth and development, one must never

While it is important to have industrial growth and development, one must never forget the core sectors which drive development in a society. Education and health are pillars on which development depends forget the core sectors which drive development in a society. Education and health are pillars on which development depends. The balance between the two is very important for any country to prosper. Presently in India, it looks like the policy is skewed towards the former. We have been seeing social sector budget cuts right from year one of this government. Budget cuts in critical schemes like ICDS, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan will affect the future of our country in a negative manner. In fact, it is to be noted that in terms of health expenditure as a per centage of GDP we lag far behind the world.

Low commodity prices and a global slowdown, driven by faltering Chinese economy, are leading India to witness exports to their lowest since 1951. India’s exports faced downward spiral consecutively for 18 months till it rose by 1.2% in June 2016. Despite efforts such as Make in India, to create jobs for inclusive growth in the country, India has undergone jobless growth. Unemployment rate in India has shot up to a five-year high of five per cent in 2015-16. About 77% of the households were reported to be having no regular wage/salaried person. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji has made efforts to increase the goodwill of our country through his visits to neighboring countries yet India’s security is an issue. Considering China’s dramatic military expansion, it poses a more real and potent threat to India than Pakistan, which remains caught in a vortex of conflict and instability.

You have been a votary of National Employment Policy and a well-defined roadmap to create at least one million new jobs per month in the country. We believe that not governments, past and present, but all political parties too are quite serious about job creations as it is also a political and economic exigency. So can making of a national employment policy really make a difference towards employment creation? Countries need employment policies because challenges associated are getting more and more complex. With India’s demographic trends putting November 2016 I 35

as it took a toll on many lives in Odisha. Countries like the US and the UK already have lightning predicting technologies in place. Also, currently in India, lightning is not included in the list of natural disasters which is enough to gauge the country’s sensitivity towards tackling natural disasters.

Rabindra Kumar Jena listening to people during his constituency meeting

enormous pressure on labour markets, National Employment Policy shall serve as a solution to the problem of unemployment in the country. Despite better economic growth performance and macro-economic stability, the employment situation in India has not improved much in the last two decades. Naxalism has spread to quite a lot of districts of the country and is already upsetting investments in mineral-rich areas. The so called demographic gift that India enjoys of a large young working age population can easily turn into a demographic curse if we do not ensure decent and productive employment and skill development opportunities for the country’s youth.

Your constituency, Balasore, has been at the receiving end of high intensity cyclones. This also brings us to the question if we as a country are paying enough attention to tackling natural disasters? Your views and suggestions please. Not just Balasore but the whole of India, on account of its unique 36 I November 2016

geo-climatic conditions, has been customarily vulnerable to many natural disasters. I feel that the government should be a little more sensitive in handling natural disasters in a proactive way. There have been instances in the past, whereby, cyclones in Odisha have taken as many as 10,000 lives in one go. Next to cyclones, floods are a major concern in Odisha which severely affects the agrarian economy. Several days after the floods also,

The government should be a little more sensitive in handling natural disasters in a proactive way there are no means of water evacuations which creates a chaotic situation. These reflect lack of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time of and after the disaster. The predictability has not been consistent compared to other countries in the world. During the last session of Parliament, I had urged the government to develop technologies in predicting lightning

Girls dropping out of school before 10th, especially in rural India is a big problem. As a policy maker, what are your views on this situation and how can this be remedied? According to Census, almost 70% of girls who enroll in schools across the country drop out before they finish Class 10. The reasons for dropping out may differ; the consequences of the decision are remarkably similar and all those act singularly or in combination to produce dropout. The low female literacy rate has had a severely negative impact on family planning and population stabilization efforts in India. While a lot of importance is being given to enrollment of girls in schools, very little is being done to retain them. Not just in education, but as much as our Prime Minister talks of the welfare of women of our country, very less is achieved in reality. Crores of rupees are laying unspent which were initially allocated for schemes like Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. The government has also downsized its first largescale initiative for women, trimming the plan for a rape crisis centre in every district. Serious efforts are required in order to lay more importance to crucial problems of women in the country right from the school dropouts owing to lack of infrastructure or economical burdens to safety of women at workplaces and social security. What is the need of the hour is not

just plenty of schemes and false promises, but some real action on the ground.

You have often taken up the issue of health and water security which impacts the most vulnerable section of society. As a lawmaker, how serious is the situation and what are the measures we can adopt to overcome this problem speedily? In a diverse and large country like India, to rank problems and generalize them is very difficult. Every state, every district and every GP has its own unique problems. Therefore, I am a strong believer of the fact that planning and policy should be conceived in a decentralized manner. However leaving this aside, if you would

While a lot of importance is being given to enrollment of girls in schools, very little is being done to retain them want me to enumerate the top two problem of India – It would be healthcare and water scarcity. The problem in Indian health sector is such that at least 50 million Indians are going below the poverty line every year due to economic burden arising out of health issues. Several studies point out that per capita private health expenditure is growing at a faster rate than the per capita income meaning Indians are becoming more economically burdened with every passing day owing to their private health expenses. The problem is much more aggravated in rural areas. Hence, it becomes

imperative to focus on the primary healthcare, which taken earnestly will help bring a change in the current scenario. 54% of India faces high to extremely high water stress and more than 100 million people live in areas of poor water quality. Of the 3,15,000 people dying globally because of diarrhoeal diseases, 45% are from India leading to a shocking total of 13 diarrhoeal deaths every hour. 5% of country’s population spends almost 20% of their daily income in buying water. Pipes supply water to about one-third of rural households in India, of which more than 50% supply untreated water.

5% of country’s population spends almost 20% of their daily income in buying water

Rabindra Kumar Jena interacting with people during a field work

November 2016 I 37

There has been a growing conflict between ST community and developmental agenda as they fear loss of their identity, lifestyle and heritage. Nearly 11 per cent of your constituency consists of Scheduled Tribe population. How can the two seemingly conflicting interests or viewpoints be reconciled? Primarily, the conflict is because the tribals are affected most due to implementation of development projects. Their livelihood and places of residence both are affected leaving them at the mercy of external forces. To address the regional imbalances in the development, Backward Region Grant Fund Programme was run by the central government since 2006 to provide support to the identified backward districts and tribal development which was discontinued by the NDA government in 2015. Identified districts of Odisha under BRGF received almost Rs 300 Crores for their development. Even many Maoist organizations have admitted that in the first couple of years of implementation of BRGF scheme, lot of developmental works took place in the Maoist affected areas. Discontinuation has caused big deterrence to their development activities. This has led to widening of the gap between the general and tribal population which can only be filled if first the gap between the government’s planning and implementation efforts is filled.

Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi floated a very pertinent idea of having simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha 38 I November 2016

and state assemblies. What are your views on the same? Electoral reforms are important to enable government to deliver and fast-track progress. It is a fact that India is in constant election mode. Some state or local body is always going to polls every now and then, which makes rational and unbiased policy making, a problem. Electioneering costs have now reached stratospheric levels whereby thousands of crores of rupees are being spent on one election. Crucial manpower is also deployed on election duties for a prolonged period of time. If simultaneous elections are held, then this manpower would be

Discontinuation of Backward Region Grant Fund Programme has resulted in big setback to development activities in such areas made available for other important tasks. Frequent elections also affect the governance as the imposition of model code of conduct in the poll bound areas puts on hold all developmental activities in that area and also affects the bureaucracy’s functioning. It is not only these, but elections to municipalities, panchayats or even cooperatives that keep the political parties and politicians occupied. Odisha has undergone simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha in 2009 as well as 2014, which the Honorable Prime Minister has now taken into consideration and appointed a committee to study feasibility. This

Holding simultaneous Lok Sabah and state elections is a good idea as it will result in saving of unnecessary expenditures, enhance productivity of the government and generally bring lot of other benefits proposition needs larger political discussion and consensus building as it would involve constitutional amendments too, just like GST. But if the consensus is evolved, it would be a significant contribution to reforming Indian democracy for the good.

You have been a successful entrepreneur and a corporate leader before being elected an MP. Out of the two, which profession do you like more? I believe, one must be determined towards their work, and the rest follows. I never planned on getting into politics, I was working as a businessman and owing to my commitment towards my work and workers and social service along with business lines; I was offered becoming a politician. As an employer, I was catering to the needs of my employees and after becoming a politician, I would say, my responsibilities increased in terms of catering to the needs of a larger group of people i.e. my constituents and the nation at large. There is simply no comparison in the kind of efforts that both the professions require to excel; hence I strive to work hard, fulfilling different roles that I play for the betterment of the society.

November 2016 I 39


The fire within Sheela Kochouseph Chittilappilly

40 I November 2016

Divya Ravi Menon


alk into the plush offices of V-Star Creations Pvt Ltd, Kakkanad and you taste in an instant the elegance of creativity. The walls, the decor and the design of the office exude an aura of graceful inventiveness. You find the touch of a stylish creator in every nook and corner of the office. It is not every day that one comes across a woman who is a successful entrepreneur; is an efficient home maker and also an artist. Sheela Kochouseph is this and much more. The exceedingly charming Managing Director of V-Star Creations Pvt Ltd, the wife of noted business man and philanthropist Kochouseph Chittilappilly of V-GuardIndustries Ltd, is simply put, many roles rolled into one persona. Born into a business family that ran a jewellery and textile shop in Wadakkancherry of Thrissur district of Kerala, perhaps a business woman of the future was already in the making. Nevertheless, she categorically says that she never thought she would run an enterprise but for the demise of her father that left her mother in a state of dependence on the elders of a large joint family which invoked within her the thought that every woman ought to have a standing of her own born out of her own independence. However, the actual venturing out on her own into the complex world of business happened naturally once her children grew up and she appeared to have more time on her hands.In the early 90s, Sheela established a small stitching unit in Kochi consisting of ten creative individuals (designers, cutters, embroiders and tailors) creating ready-to-stitch V-Star Salwar Kameez for women. Over a short period of time, this small unit ventured into the glamorous world of innerwear and outerwear and is today one of South India’s and West Asia’s biggest manufacturers of inner garments for women, men & kids. V-Star

November 2016 I 41

today has a turnover touching 90 crores, with production units in Kerala and Tirupur; exclusive showrooms in Kochi, Thrissur and Calicut; Concept Stores in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The company that began with 10 workers today has nearly 17 units with more than

Management Studies, Kerala. The journey from the home to the boardroom was not easy. The transition from a full time housewife into the role of the navigator of this Enterprise was a slow process, through a method of trial and error and learning ‘on the job’, acquiring many skills as time went by. Mistakes were made but each passing day imparted newer confidence and courage to a lady who was determined to prove her mettle in an arena that was fairly new to her. The plunge from the kitchen into the business world won her appreciation and respect from family members and it was a moment of personal reinforcement of position in her own private space. “I was driven by the desire, passion and perhaps the obsessive

want to be independent”, she says. But that’s not it! Sheela Kochouseph is not just all about board meetings, strategies, marketing, advertising, fabrics and so on. She is a multi-faceted individual with a deep interest in all pursuits that are creative. She is a gardener in love with her bonsais, she is trained in the Carnatic tradition of Indian Classical music and has also been creating passionate art for about two decades now. She is an artist who has experimented with water colours, acrylics but creates her masterpieces on canvas in oil which happens to be her favourite medium. Gifted with a sense of humour, she is quick to quip, “I am stuck in oil”! In 1992 she underwent

Sheela is an artist who has experimented with water colors, acrylics but creates her masterpieces on canvas in oil which happens to be her favorite medium. Gifted with a sense of humor, she is quick to quip, “I am stuck in oil”! 230 direct employees and 1000 indirect employees, 45 distributors and 4,500 dealers in South India alone. As this article is being written Sheela Kochouseph has just been awarded the Berch Empresario 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Award instituted by the Berchmans Institute of 42 I November 2016

it a woman drawing water from a well, or a paddy field worker, a group of pot carrying village ladies or a shy yet sensuous village belle, her women radiate a certain sense of warmth characteristic of the countryside. Their countenance and body language talk of a world cut away from the rush and chaos of modern life. She captures the spirit of Indian villages in her oeuvres which transport you spontaneously into a different space of life. Sheela makes no claims of being a professional artist, and perhaps neither would these works participate in a world dialogue or create ripples in the complex world of modern art, yet, each painting is a story that instantly bestows a sense of peace and solitude. She does not make a conceited effort to market her paintings as each painting is a product of personal passion. They are precious and she formal training in painting from her sons’ painting teacher and continues to as time permits. Despite her very busy schedule running a challenging business concern, she finds time every day for a few hours after lunch to paint in total submission to the art. Painting takes her to higher realms of life, giving vent to the creative urge within, finding bliss of life in the process of creation and in the creation itself. Instinctively drawn towards nature and women, most of her paintings capture the beauty of nature or the rustic charm of women in mundane lifestyles. Fascinated by the forest, often her nature paintings highlight a brook or a mountain, perhaps a river bearing reflection of trees around, creating the perfect portrait for repose. The women protagonists of her paintings are generally simplicity personified. Be

November 2016 I 43

spends time studying her works long after they are done and framed. The exhibition circuit does not entice this artist, however, in 2015, upon the encouragement from Asif Ali Komu of Komu sons, Entrepreneur Sheela along with noted Malayali actress Sheela exhibited her works at the Le Meridien in Kochi in 2015 in a group exhibition called Sheela and Sheela. This was her very first exhibition and the experience remains memorable as she recollects. A major portion of the profit from this exhibition went into charitable causes in Kerala. As she waxed eloquently about some of the causes that are close to her heart, one discovered that there is a nature loving, kind hearted soul within her who goes all out of her way to help the needy. Together with her husband Kochouseph Chittilappilly, she is actively involved in charity in Kerala’s tribal zone - Attappadi, where the tribals struggle to negotiate their day-to-day 44 I November 2016

existence. Having adopted a village there, the couple has been doing sterling work by striving to improve sanitation facilities, water tank systems, school toilets and needless to say, funding tests on Sickle-Cell Anaemia and other ailments. A person with exceptional levels of energy, the undying desire to learn new things and excel in every pursuit, a health

culture in the country and so also the lack of cleanliness and wasted youth and talent. A change in the scenario with regard to these is a dream that this entrepreneur carries within her and also strives to exemplify through her own life. Her philosophy is as simple as she is. She says, “Each of us has a lot of

conscious sports person who was in the university Hockey team in college are some of the otheraspects of Sheela Kochouseph. If she creates state-of-the-art innerwear and outerwear, she also bakes cakes and tarts with equal expertise! She is passionate about interior decoration and design and believes in the power of colours. Drawn towards bright colours, her office and home are done in hues that reflect her zeal and drive towards life. She laments deeply about the lack of a sound work

potential, skill and talent within. However, caught in the turbulence of daily life and due to lack of motivation, much of these skills seem to die within us sadly. We must sharpen these skills every now and then to keep these skills intact. The fire to excel must exist in each or else one would perish into the rock bottom of life”. The author is a noted art critic, winner of the prestigious Sir Yousuf Alayan Award for journalism, is a poet, is trained in classical music and veena


Not so clean (India)

Ramesh Kumar Raja

T The biggest challenge to Swachh Bharat Mission’s success is lack of data-led behavioural change

here has been a huge investment of political and financial capital on the Swachh Bharat Mission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The programme however, is straining to achieve the desired results. While most action and efforts have gone in putting in place a working physical infrastructure, and rightly so, the softer, behavioural aspect of the program has not received as much attention as it deserves. There is a struggle to bring in the much required behavioural change among people to use toilets – the backbone of the programme’s success. One of the key factors for this is the lack of credible on-ground data and the absence of institutionalised tracking mechanisms to measure the health benefits of impacts of proper sanitation, or the adverse impacts of the lack of sanitation. While large-scale campaigns are essential to drive behavioural change, it is data that will connect the issue with health impacts and lead to impact on the ground. This emerged as one of the key takeaways from a national consultation on Sustainable Rural Sanitation organised recently in New Delhi by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environmental think tank. Currently, India does not have any mechanism for tracking waterborne diseases to shed more light about the progress on the sanitation programme. Sunita Narain, the director general of CSE pointed out, “Our experience and our work in air pollution bears out that change happens when we make a connection to people’s health. And the November 2016 I 45

According to a recent analysis, 82.3 million (or 8.23 crore) toilets are yet to be constructed across India by October 2, 2019

issue needs to be handled differently for rural and urban areas. While in the urban milieu toilets have to be linked with disposal and treatment systems, in rural areas the priorities should be address the issue in the context of poverty, behavioural change by linking it with health, water availability, toilet design and waste disposal.” Such an approach, however, has so far not been tried resulting in lack of urgency among rural folks to build and use toilets. The major issue with the current approach of the Swachh Bharat Mission, is the undue focus on construction of toilets. October 2, 2016 marked the completion of two years since the ambitious Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort. One of the key promises made was to make India open defecation free (ODF) by 2019, by constructing toilets for 1.04 crore households, apart from 250,000 community toilets and 260,000 public toilets. The reality on the ground however paints a dismal picture, with the government lagging behind in meeting its target. According to an analysis by the recently launched 46 I November 2016

U’KHAND DISTRICT BUILDS 8,000 TOILETS IN 20 DAYS Udham Singh Nagar has set a national record and secured a place in Limca Book of Records after 8,000 toilets were constructed in the district under the Swachh Bharat mission in just 20 days. The toilets were constructed in 351 gram panchayats of the district from January 25, 2016 to February 15, 2016. Swajal Pariyojna, which carried out the construction work, was awarded the certificate on October 13, 2016. The then chief development officer (CDO) of the district, Dr Ashish Srivastava has also been recognized in the certificate. Under the Swachh Bharat mission, the district has to achieve a target of 76,016 toilets in the rural areas to be declared opendefecation-free (ODF). Until now, 64,613 toilets have been constructed in seven blocks of the district. Rudrapur, Jaspur, Kashipur and Gadarpur have already been declared ODF and the district administration is hoping that the remaining blocks of Khatima, Sitarganj and Bazpur will also be declared to be ODF soon. According to district magistrate Chandresh Yadav, the administration is also running campaigns to bring awareness on cleanliness in the society.

Hindi edition of Down To Earth magazine, which CSE helps publish, 82.3 million (or 8.23 crore) toilets are yet to be constructed across India by October 2, 2019. This means the country needs to build 2.3 million (23 lakh) toilets every month – or a formidable 56 toilets every minute – to meet the target. That is a tall order, on any account.

However, more than looking at this as just another failed government scheme, there is a larger picture that emerged during the national consultation, which brought together sanitation champions, failed states, technical experts/consultants, government officials, non-profits and donors. What emerged from the discussions

ACCOMPLISHING SANITATION GOAL A FAR CRY Some of the key takeaways from a first-of-its-kind assessment of ‘toilet building performance’ done by Down To Earth Hindi: • In 2015-16, a mere 7,327 toilets were built in Varanasi, PM Modi’s constituency, against a target of 2,34,489 (till October 2019). At this rate, the target cannot be met before 2048. • In the case of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, whose constituency is Lucknow, the achieved number is 5,332 against a target of 1,86177. Singh can hope to reach the target only by 2051. • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has a target of 5,47,739 toilets to be built by October 2019 in his constituency, Kannauj. He has managed only 8,309. At this rate, he will take 66 years to reach his target (by 2082). • Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, Rae Bareli, has a target of 2,87,703, and the achieved number has been 6,581.The expected year of completion is 2060. • The other key political figures whose performance has been assessed include External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti,S urface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, among others. They are way behind in meeting the ‘toilet for every citizen’ target in their constituencies. As per its estimation and going by the prevailing rate, India will not be able to meet its target by 2019 as promised by the Prime Minister – but only by 2022. was that apart from the obvious problems of poverty, lack of access to water, unavailability of land or lack of delivery of government programmes, the most critical issue was in terms of data-driven behavioural change in people. Parameswaran Iyer, secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation said, “It took 30-40 years for people in the US to accept seat belts. In India, we are trying to compress the time frame in the context of sanitation. The challenge here is how does one scale up while maintaining quality and sustain the momentum after triggering such behavioural change.” It is clear that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Sikkim for instance is one of the successful states that achieved complete sanitation coverage. Haryana and

Kerala excelled in their respective sanitation programmes, while states like Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha failed miserably. Rajkumar Yadav, district collector, South Sikkim, said, “We followed a strategy of putting two different types of pressure on people – one positive and the other negative. Positive pressure was put through campaigns and social messaging across sections of society. Negative pressure was applied by restricting and denying government benefits to those who haven’t constructed toilets or haven’t given up open defecation. This has helped create an overall positive impact.” It is clear that a range of solutions is required, accounting for the varied geographies, socio-political setting and other factors in our diverse country – from technological

solutions, to behaviour change, to scientific data gathering to policy interventions. “CSE has started the process of drawing out shit flow diagrams to understand the flow of faecal matter. We are also setting up India’s first faecal sludge laboratory to test technologies for their effectiveness,” said Narain. This will be a crucial first step towards such data gathering, especially in understanding sanitation in the rural context. “Rural sanitation is more complex due to dimensions of poverty, and is much more extensive and inhuman, especially in the context of gender. World’s wicked problems are about gender -- whether cooking fuels, toilets or clean water,” added Narain, a renowned environmentalist.

November 2016 I 47


Rate cut to lighten up realty?

With the repo rate being slashed by 25 basis points, it is sure to boost sentiments both among lenders and borrowers because this benefit if passed well to the buyers is sure to provide cushion to all

Ramesh Kumar Raja


onsidering the political and international turmoil happening all around, the Reserve Bank of India was likely to keep the key rates unchanged but amid varied speculations, the apex bank has finally laid to rest the expectations

48 I November 2016

by cutting the repo rate by 25 basis points in its latest policy review. The new repo rate now stands at 6.25 per cent from the previous 6.50 per cent. Reverse repo rate is now at 5.75 per cent; Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 4 per cent and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) at 21.5 per cent respectively, remains unchanged. Among various economic agents,

households tend to be the most adaptive in their expectations formation. Expectations of improvement in demand conditions are a strong stimulus for the apex body in making crucial decisions of slashing key rates. While the second round impact of the 7th pay commission award in the form of salaries and pensions is incorporated

in the baseline forecasts, the effect of house rent allowances (HRA) is not, since its implementation was deferred, pending a review. As and when the revised allowances are awarded, they will have a direct impact on headline CPI Inflation through an increase in housing Inflation. Uncertainty prevailing about the pace of US monetary policy normalisation tends to get amplified by every incoming data. The outcome of the US presidential election also adds to uncertainty. On the other hand, India could become a preferred destination of capital flows, as is the case currently, in view of relatively stronger macroeconomic fundamentals. This may cause the rupee to appreciate.

Real estate is one sector which is severely impacted by any minor changes in the monetary policy. With the repo rate being slashed by 25 basis points, there comes a great scope for banks and other financial institutions to cut down on their lending rates. The rate cuts have followed for the last 18 months but substantial cuts have not been provided on the front end hence, disallowing buyers of direct benefits. Now, with this rate cut coming during the festive season, it is sure to boost sentiments both among lenders and borrowers because this benefit if passed well to the buyers is sure to provide cushion to all. This also happens to be the first monetary review policy by the newly appointed RBI Governor, Dr Urjit Patel, and this rate cut will allow the realty sector in the country to blossom,after all that has happened in the recent past and when the sector can be considered to be at it’s one of the lowest points. Manoj Gaur, President CREDAINCR and MD, Gaursons India Ltd., said, “With the ongoing tussle, realty sector of our country could not expect for a better news than a repo rate cut. At this point of time when the sentiments are positive and people are eager to buy and invest in property, banks will now cut interest rates, which will allow buyers to get their EMIs reduced. The demand will witness a better rise eventually allowing the inventory to clear in major metro cities. Realty sector welcomes this move by RBI and this being Urjit Patel’s very first policy review.” “This move was pretty much on the cards looking at the economic recovery witnessed over the last couple of quarters. For long there has been no reduction offered by the other banks but with the sentiments already improving and people looking for better and better options, banks can cash in well and allow further support to the real estate sector,” said Rajesh Goyal, Vice President CREDAI-Western U.P. and MD, RG Group. RBI has been extremely proactive in terms of bringing relief to the economy and pushing the banks

forward to provide final benefit directly to borrowers through reduced EMIs. “Real estate sector in particular was in dire need of a repo rate reduction as we are standing in the final festive season of the year. Sentiments will now become better as customers will be expecting banks to lower their rates that will be profitable for them prior to a big purchase such as, property,” said Vaibhav Jain, CMD, Rise Group. Dhiraj Jain, Director, Mahagun Group, said, “There exists a direct relation between reduction in lending rates by banks and an increase in demand for property. It is then just a matter of proper timing by the banks while adjusting the rates. Every year, massive demand is observed during the last quarter of the calendar year, and this is the time when potential customers plan and allocate their funds for the big purchase.” “A fall in lending rates today will promote the sentiments in the market and allow people to strategise their upcoming purchase as the maximum purchase decisions involving big amounts are made during this period. RBI has played its part well and now the ball is in the banks’court. This will not only enhance the purchasing power of the customers but also allow them to even go ahead with a better purchase,” said Deepak Kapoor, President CREDAI-Western U.P. and Director, Gulshan Homz. This rate cut has come at the most opportune moment which could have happened on the doors of Indian real estate. Kushagr Ansal, Director, Ansal Housing, said, “There had been many positives building up to this festive season like the RERA already passed, GST to be implemented by the onset of the next financial year, considerable reduction in FDI limitations, the only stone left unturned was a rate cut by the apex bank. Now, with the cut also done by the apex bank, there could have been no better sentiment enhancer for the already upbeat mood in the real estate sector.”

November 2016 I 49


The great leveler

Hybrid Model of education is allowing best resources available to all Anil Nagar


aurav was leaving his house for an important government exam when his mother stopped and enquired, “But I don’t see you carrying any pen, pencil etc. How will you write your exam?” A smirk came across Gaurav’s face.” I won’t write it Ma. I will click,” he said, and stepped out of the house. The digitization of Indian education has been going on for a long time now. There was once a time when school was unthinkable without the prospect of having to carry tons of books, pen, paper, and other appliances. Gradually, digital classes, popularly known as smart classes came into the picture. Nowadays, digital educational tools have brought the education scenario in India at the threshold of a revolutionizing transition.

Hybrid Model-Skills of great teachers combined with the mass-reach of digital tools Some of us can swear by that one teacher in our lives who, through her/ his knowledge, encouragement, scorn, wit and nurturing has motivated us to become better human beings. But, they were few and far between, and only a handful of individuals who had easy access to such teachers could truly cherish their unbridled genius. With the advent of a Digital Indian spirit, administrators realized that it is time the Age-old Indian system of examinations be digitized. As a result, all major exams from CAT to various government jobs such as SSC-CGL etc. have been transferred to the online mode. Apart from saving huge amount of resources and hassles, it is also a step towards acclimatizing the Indian youth to processes and methods of examination practiced worldwide. The advent of technology in education has been, among other 50 I November 2016

Many schools have started to use web in a big way

things, a great levelling factor. Deserving students from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, with the help of the World Wide Web, have suddenly found themselves on an equal footing with the privileged children, at least in terms of educational resources. The value of the ever growing online education market size in India, which is expected to touch US$ 40 billion by 2017, should not only be gauged by numbers, but also through the numerous success stories it has helped realize, those who have made it big and created history by capturing top ranks in competitive exams – be it in the field of Medical, Engineering, Banking or SSC. Traditional players, who have over the years accumulated a vast storehouse of knowledge and insight regarding various exams, have an added advantage to emerge as the dominant players in the ed-tech space. This is evident from the various websites and domains of famous educational organizations who have taken a liking to coaching the ‘app’ way and using technology as a source to reach out to a massive intellectual pool. This process ends up helping both the sides-while a majority of the students get better

access to quality education, the center administrators have a higher probability of finding one or many success stories from their organization and thus help in future publicity. The process of digitizing education via the Hybrid Model of personalized teaching through a digital platform has had many positive effects. Firstly, it has brought a marked change in the scoring capabilities of the students. While these are still early days in the journey of digitization, the simplification of process and lack of procedural delays have helped students think in a calmer manner. On a personal front, the presence of various apps and sites have made a student’s life very easy. They are able to manage time better, can easily share notes through social media platforms along with easy availability of online study material etc. There is still a lot of time before the judgment over ed-tech is made. It has, however, ensured one thing: information availability and dissemination has not remained a problem anymore. All it needs now is proper implementation and mass inclusion to realize the dream of an educated, self-reliant and equal India. The writer is the CEO of Career Power

November 2016 I 51

52 I November 2016

Governance today november 2016  

The New Great Game

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