1)WTO and India:-
Background :-Over the past few years , the WTO round of negotiation has seen more confrontation between policy makers than cooperation.This confrontation was heightened in Doha round of negotiations. In this context , it is important to understand the keys issues that led to confrontation and what the future holds for WTO and India.
What the Confrontation is all about?
Before getting in to the question , lets take a cue from our colonial history.While analyzing the economic situation in Colonial India , Karl Marx wrote that :-
“The colonial empire inundated the very mother country of cotton with cotton ”
(Keeping the views and philosophies of Karl Marx aside, it is undoubtedly clear that , he was the one who exposed the evils of capitalism and his rational analysis led the world to rethink over “absolute capitalism” and its viability of its economic framework)
So the colonial masters, with their policies , inundated India with cotton clothes manufactured in foreign industries. With the power of machine and a regressive policy , they managed to drive the Indian cotton industry to the brink of collapse, there by pushing large no. of artisans and cotton traders to give up their trade, who upon distress took up to subsistence agriculture.
Upon Independence , India took to an isolated economic policy until 1991. Many economist argue that, had India been self-sufficient in meeting its energy demands, it would have remained relatively an isolated economy till date.
Anyway, after the integration of Indian economy to the world economy post the liberalization phase, India found itself in a dilemma. It wanted foreign capital and technology for majority of its sectors , yet retained protectionist policies for other sectors where it didn’t want the foreign influx.One of such protected sector being Agriculture.
To understand agriculture protectionism , it is essential to understand what the WTO stands for and what are its policies.
Agriculture in India:-
Most of the developed world , have a robust agriculture sector – producing profits like any other sector.For example – only 3% of farmers feed 100% of America.Thus American farmers are quite well-off and for them agriculture is commerce – not a necessary tool for sustaining livelihood as like India.
On the contrary , India’s agriculture and its farmers are overwhelmingly Marginal and Small farmers. Which means, our farmers produce to feed themselves first and sell only the excesses.Hence , Indian agriculture sector is not commerce , but a social tool for sustaining livelihood.
WTO and India :-
Being a Trader Organization , it has its obvious goals- get access to the market and secure the market.The WTO as an organization is a promoter of “Free market economy”. It lends loans to different countries and tries to meddle with their policies to suit the needs of the organization . One of the key component of free market economy is to open up all sector of economy, remove subsidies , there by throwing it to world competition.
One might wonder, competition is good for any sector, so why the policies of WTO is objected by India for agriculture sector. The understanding lies in following facts :-
- Indian agriculture sector if put to world competition , our farmers will suffer, for them it is not commerce and hence they can not be competitive with foreign farms.There by , unable to compete they will be bereft of the little income they obtained from the sector.While in distress , our cotton trader and artisan took up agriculture in past, but if our farmers are thrown out of farming, there is no option left for them to sustain their livelihood. Hence , it is important that Indian policy should protect its farmers.
- The very protectionism is objected by WTO as the farms of developed country have no access in this sector.Hence the propaganda of free market economy and removal of subsidy.
While developed country , want to have access to the agriculture sector , majority of the world is either developing of least developed countries and this sector is the only hope of their livelihood.
Our policy makers , did not give in to the pressures of WTO demands and engaged and exposed the facets and rationale behind their stand firmly.
Overtime, the policy makers across the world came to recognize the stand and India’s stand is vindicated over time.
It is undoubtedly clear that , though as much as we love competition and integration with world economy, there are certain sectors that needs protection that have significant impact on millions at home.Hence India’s rationale behind the confrontation is well founded and in fact visionary .Being a developing country ,and millions of life at stake ,it becomes imperative to give a helping hand to our citizens. As much as we hate farm subsidy , loan waiver , protection by tariff and as much as we love competition and integration , India can’t shy away from its basic duties and need of the time.As long as India remains a developing country and as long as majority of Indians are engaged in agriculture , India can’t bow down to free market propaganda of WTO , put millions of lives at risk and let foreign farms to inundate the country with farm produce where majority of population are farmers.
Background :- Recent visit of Japanese PM to India
Cultural exchanges between India and Japan began early in the 6th century with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from India. The Indian monk Bodhisena arrived in Japan in 736 to spread Buddhism and performed eye-opening of the Great Buddha built-in Tōdai-ji,and remained in Japan until his death in 760.
Buddhism and the intrinsically linked Indian culture had a great impact on Japanese culture, still felt today, and resulted in a natural sense of amiability between the two nations.
One of the most famous Japanese travellers to the Indian subcontinent was Tenjiku Tokubei (1612–1692), named after Tenjiku (“Heavenly Abode”), the Japanese name for India.
Japan’s emergence as a power in the early 20th century was positively viewed in India and symbolised what was seen as the beginning of an Asian resurgence. In India, there was great admiration for Japan’s post-war economic reconstruction and subsequent rapid growth.(Mains Question of 2013 -How Japanese Industrial revolution is different from the “West”)
Since India was under British rule when World War II broke out, it was deemed to have entered the war on the side of the Allies. Over 2 million Indians participated in the war; many served in combat against the Japanese who conquered Burma and reached the Indian border. Some 67,000 Indian soldiers were captured by the Japanese when Singapore surrendered in 1942, many of whom later became part of the Indian National Army (INA). In 1944-45, the combined British and Indian forces defeated the Japanese in a series of battles in Burma and the INA disintegrated
The Japanese Government built, supported and controlled the Indian National Army (Subhas Chndra Bose) and the Indian Independence League. Japanese forces included INA units in many battles, most notably at the U Go Offensive at Manipur. The offensive culminated in Battles of Imphal and Kohima where the Japanese forces were pushed back and the INA lost cohesion.
(The U Go offensive, or Operation C was the Japanese offensive launched in March 1944 against forces of the British Empire in the northeast Indian region of Manipur. Aimed at the Brahmaputra valley, through the two towns of Imphal and Kohima)
At the United Nations International Military Tribunal for the Far East, trials for Japanese war crimes ; Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal became famous for his dissenting judgement in favour of Japan. The judgement of Justice Radhabinod Pal is remembered even today in Japan.This became a symbol of the close ties between India and Japan.
The Yasukuni Shrine and the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine have monuments specially dedicated to Judge Pal
After the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty, Japan and India signed a peace treaty, establishing official diplomatic relations on 28 April 1952, in which India waived all reparation claims against Japan.
Relations between the two nations reached a brief low in 1998 as a result of Pokhran-II, an Indian nuclear weapons test that year. Japan imposed sanctions on India following the test, which included the suspension of all political exchanges and the cutting off of economic assistance. These sanctions were lifted three years later. Relations improved exponentially following this period, as bilateral ties between the two nations improved once again.
Japan is currently India’s fourth largest source of foreign direct investment.
In recent years, Japan has assisted India in infrastructure development projects such as the Delhi Metro Rail Project. Both sides are discussing the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project and Dedicated Freight Corridor Projects on the Mumbai-Delhi and the Delhi-Howrah routes.
India and Japan also have close military ties. They have shared interests in maintaining the security of sea-lanes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, and in co-operation for fighting international crime, terrorism, piracy and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The two nations have frequently held joint military exercises and co-operate on technology
In 2014, the Indian Navy participated in Exercise Malabar with the Japanese and US navies, reflecting shared perspectives on Indo-Pacific maritime security.
Japan has also supported the reconstruction of Nalanda University, an ancient Buddhist centre of learning and has agreed to provide financial assistance, and recently approached the Indian government with a proposal
The Indo-Japan relationship has profound convergence.Japan is known for its Disaster Management and can substantially help India in this arena.The cultural ties have robust grounds which will keep these two nations together even if the economic and geopolitical forces change in future.The importance of cultural ties is best explained by a Chinese diplomat :-
Moreover, if looked closely , Japan is a developed county of the East which modernized itself without giving into temptation of westernization , which is essentially a question that baffles many in India too. The question before India is simple – How to modernize without being westernized ? , and Japan can be the answer to this Indian dilemma.
3) ‘Call money’ racket in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana:-
Call money is an instant loan available over a call through flexible process where the lender comes home with money, promissory note and other documents which can fix borrowers. The interest rate usually ranges from 120 per cent to 200 per cent. Another key ingredient in the process is that the lender can demand return of the money over a call any time and anywhere.
In case the borrower is unable to repay, vehicles, houses and other movable and immovable properties are demanded as a guarantee.
Hundreds of women were threatened, coerced and dragged into flesh trade if they were unable to repay on time.
Though this News is reported from these two states, yet the situation is more or less similar where there is low banking penetration and institutional micro-credit lending is absent.
The solution to this is to broaden the network of banking and micro-credit financing with affordable interest rate coupled with insurance in case of bankruptcy.
4)Education as an Eligibility to contest Election:-
The Supreme Court in the Rajbala vs. State of Haryana case (Dec. 2015) upheld the validity of the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act requiring that a matriculate alone can hold the post of Panchayat president or ward member.
Please note that , many editorials in the newspapers are running this , with the almost equivocal theme across all newspaper which ask the strange logic behind this law and questioning the supreme court’s intellect.
There is no doubt that supreme court can not be wrong, it had wronged in the past , but it has corrected itself too.
In this particular case, the editorials are simply arguing on the grounds of political right and have not given due consideration to the dismal status quo of Indian education and whether this Law can transform Indian education system , if not substantially , at least partially.
In this regard ,we have publish an editorial that more or less supports the view of the supreme court and the analysis is taken different aspects and not just plain theme of political right as many newspapers did.
You can read the editorial here and post your views in comment section :-
5)One-man commission on OROP appointed:-
The Union government has appointed Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, former Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, as the one-man judicial commission to look into the implementation of the one rank one pension scheme.
- The appointment of the committee is in keeping with the points of the notification issued by the government in November for implementing the scheme.
- The committee will make recommendations on removal of anomalies that may arise in the implementation of the OROP, which the government notified on November 7. It will also address inter-service anomalies, and any other matter referred by the Central Government.
Veterans have rejected this commission. They have been demanding for a five-member judicial commission with representatives from the military.
6)India ranks 130th out of 188 on Human Development Index in 2015
Global Human Development report, released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has placed India at 130 among 188 countries.
- With a score of 0.609 on HDI, India stands well below the average score of 0.630 for countries in the medium human development group. But it is marginally above the South Asian countries’ average score of 0.607.
- India stands higher than neighbours Bangladesh and Pakistan but lower than countries like Namibia, Guatemala and Tajikistan, even Iraq.
- Norway tops the HDI ranking, followed by Australia, Switzerland and Denmark.
- Data show that life expectancy at birth in India has over the past decade risen from 64.5 years (in 2005) to 68 years in 2014. Similarly, mean years of schooling have increased from 4.8 to 5.4 over the same period.
- Per-capita incomes in India have also risen significantly, from $3239 to $5497 (at 2011 purchasing-power parity).
- On the gender development index (GDI), with a value of 0.795, India ranks behind Bangladesh (0.917), Namibia, Guatemala, even Tajikistan.
- On the gender inequality index (GII), India stands at 130 among 155 countries, well behind Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are ranked 111 and 121 respectively.
What the HDR 2015 says:-
- For just four per cent of its GDP, India could provide “a basic and modest set of social security guarantees for all citizens with universal pension, basic health care, child benefits and employment schemes”.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development.
A long and healthy life: Life expectancy at birth
Education index: Mean years of schooling and Expected years of schooling
A decent standard of living: GNI per capita (PPP US$)
The HDI was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, is anchored in the Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s work on human capabilities, often framed in terms of whether people are able to “be” and “do” desirable things in their life and was published by the United Nations Development Programme.
Criticism of HDR:-
The Human Development Index has been criticized on a number of grounds including alleged ideological biases towards egalitarianism and so-called “Western models of development”, failure to include any ecological considerations, lack of consideration of technological development or contributions to the human civilization, focusing exclusively on national performance and ranking, lack of attention to development from a global perspective, measurement error of the underlying statistics, and on the UNDP’s changes in formula which can lead to severe misclassification in the categorisation of ‘low’, ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ human development countries
If we go by the definition of Human Development as stated by Mahbub Ul Haq :-
“Human development is defined as the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being. Human development is about the real freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live.”
And now if we look at the indices of HDR , which has only 3 components – health, education and economy and does not include :-
- Political rights and Freedom of Choice.(For eg- France is looked upon as a country that taught liberty and freedom to the world, however the irony is that The Law in France does not allow people to wear their religious attire in public places)
- Legal Regime :- HDR does not take in to account the Laws and policies that govern Human Development.
- Tax Policy ( For e.g.- Norway which ranks 1st int HDI has a regressive tax policy . On the contrary few middle eastern countries – where women don’t have voting rights and their laws are far from liberal , yet many of these countries don’t tax their citizens)
- Peace and Happiness (Both intra and inter-national) – For eg- Bhutan ranks quite high in Gross Happiness Index even though it’s per capita income is lower.This throws the question – what is the use of education, Money or long life(3 indices of HDR) – if you are not happy, because happiness is an integral part of Human development and well-being.
The examples will be endless, and what stands out is that the world is full of oddities and to compare all the country only on 3 indices is questionable.
If looked closely, what the HDR tries- is to quantify and look at the objective data from medical,schools etc. Even though the definition as put forth by the ones who developed the report is subjective, the report categorically does not allow the subjective parts because it is difficult to quantify the subjective parts.
However it is equally necessary to quantify or include these subjective parts, as human development cannot completely rely on objective data being a subjective issues.
Thus to call this report as Human Development Report , without a holistic addition of all the factors that one way or other contribute to human development would not do justice to its name .As long as the indices remain as is- it is just a tool to know – education index, mortality index and economic index, which are only 3 aspects of human development and not inclusive.