Friday, December 28, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY THROUGH RENEWABLES: THE ONLY WAY AHEAD

The quest for Energy Security has been the endeavour of mankind from times immemorial. The growth and prosperity of nations has revolved around their capacity to harness natural resources in the best possible manner even in pre industrial revolution era.It all started with concept of use of manual energy from humans and animals. Then mankind started using the force of flowing water ( Kinetic Energy ). Post industrial revolution, conversion of one form of energy to another and inventions of steam engine, petrol engine, electricity generators etc. changed the entire scenario. Fossil fuels and hydroelectric potential became synonymous with energy security. Then came the taming of the atom and nuclear power  was considered to be the ultimate word in energy security. It was by about 1980, after the Three Mile Island accident in USA nuclear power plants started losing their sheen. So much so that after Chernobyl and recent Fukushima Daichi disaster the nuclear power route to energy security because of nuclear energy safety concerns has been abandoned by many advanced countries and phasing out of existing plants is underway. Energy from the fossil fuels has its own problems of huge carbon dioxide emissions which are a big contributor to global warming which is threatening the very existence of mankind on this globe. Besides the fossil fuel reserves are finite and at best can last for another seventy years or so for commercial exploitation. Needless to emphasize that carbon is precious and needs to be saved for future generations in view of futuristic requirements of mankind.
The enormity and eternity of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, ocean waves was always known to mankind and the thrust towards renewable energy sources is languishing because of vested interests of nuclear club nations and powerful industry lobbies who have spent billions and billions on researches, technology development and required manufacturing infrastructure in the fields of power plant engineering, transmission and distribution  for fossil fuel and nuclear fuel based power plants which seems to be redundant in the light of  majority of the electricity requirements of any country bestowed with very large solar, wind and tidal energy potential.
Deciding on renewable sources for energy security by any country is a win win situation for all times to come because of the following:

  • Available in huge quantities with almost all nations much in excess of even their future requirements implying thereby that the user nations don't have to buy it from anywhere.
  • Available on the site where electricity is needed or is to be employed with no additional fuel transportation costs and need for related infrastructure. 
  • The availability is eternal and not finite as is the case with fuel based sources.
  • The technology of harnessing energy from these sources is suitable for standalone, micro,mini and even large grid applications with no bearing on its cost because of scale and size of operation.
  • Clean energy with no contribution to much worrying issue of global warming.
  • No large scale impact of natural disasters like hurricane Sandy in USA and grid failures witnessed this year in India,  on the supply of power.
  • Immunity against terrorist strike on the plant or accidents and catastrophe resulting thereof.
  • Immunity against rising fuel costs as global reserves of all fuels are getting depleted at at a fast pace.
  • Quick response capability instead of long gestation periods, five to seven years for thermal power plants and up to twenty years for nuclear plants which are normally witnessed. Imagine the compounding effect of investments in renewable energy technologies as benefits start accruing in proportion to the investments just after say six months from the day of start instead of waiting for the returns till the installation and commissioning of the plant takes place may be after five, ten or fifteen years.
  • And above all, invest as per your present demand and requirement and keep on adding as the requirement grows without prejudicing earlier investments as the technologies are totally modular.
Some vested interests who want to delay the march of humanity to renewable energy sources and those who refuse to see the ultimate reality of energy security  point out that the intermittence  of  supply of energy from these sources as also the requirements of large land footprints are the two major stumbling blocks for abandoning fuel based power plants in favour of solar and wind energy. The whole world has realised the enormous potential of roof top solar and available unused government and community lands. The problem of intermittence is hardly a problem in the light of science and technology knowledge available to mankind. If modern day science has found ways and means to produce atomic energy, controlling natural forces in a big way, there is simply no reason it cannot find solution to intermittence through energy storage or hybridization. Old classical concepts of having large power plants and national grids have to give way to newer concepts keeping in mind the flexibility, modular nature and the economics of power generation from solar and wind energy. In any case this is bound to happen. Now or after seven decades is the question, when we run out of all fuels, fossil or nuclear. The wisdom says we do it right now by focusing on renewable sources with all our might for the simple reason that researches in these fields for improving efficiency and addressing problems of energy storage are going to be value additive for all times to come.As it is some men with wisdom and far sight are talking about 'Wind- Solar- Storage could power 99.9% Grid by 2030.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Direct Cash Transfer scheme not a complex project: P Chidambaram

Published: Monday, Dec 24, 2012, 18:17 IST 
Place: Puducherry | Agency: PTI
Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said the direct cash transfer (DCT) scheme to the targeted sections of people "will be a simple and error-free" arrangement with the utilisation of technology.
Addressing officials of Puducherry government and various banks at a meeting organised by state level Bankers Committee here, Chidambaram said, "With the availability of banking technology, the scheme is not a complex arrangement but an easy programme."
"Banking technology is a black box technology and there is absolutely no room for mistakes, corruption or human interference in the operation of the scheme," he said.
The Centre was releasing as much as Rs 2,00,000 crore as subsidies under various schemes for the targeted sections across the country. The intention of the government was to ensure that the DCT scheme was implemented by the end of 2013 in the country as a whole.
He asked bankers and officials to ensure that there was inclusion of beneficiaries in the scheme to provide them advantages of the 15 centrally sponsored schemes implemented in Puducherry.
Chidambaram said he was confident that the DCT to beneficiaries linking Aadhar linked bank accounts would go on stream successfully on January 1 in Puducherry.
He also reviewed preparations made by the banks and government departments as part of rolling out the scheme in the Union Territory, comprising Puducherry, Mahe and Yanam regions.

Monday, December 24, 2012

INDIA CRYING

It is a widely acknowledged fact that the nation is suffering in its war against corruption, black money, and maintaining law and order because of inadequate manpower for tax enforcement, police department, investigation agencies and judiciary. This invariably results in  cases related to all streams lingering on for decades. Punishing perpetrators of these crimes within a reasonable time frame has so far remained a mirage. Thanks to the priorities of the rulers of the country in spite of the fact that the government is aware of this fact, whole of the polity of the country knows this, the citizenry of the country have been clamoring to have an effective system in place for quite some time.
In recent times, a lot of  cases about rapes and gang rapes have been reported from different parts of the country. In fact a rape crime takes place every 20 minutes in this country. It is a well known fact that majority of the cases go unreported because of social stigma that falls on the victim. There is a lot of anger among the public over the insensitivity on the part of government over an issue that affects all members of Indian society. The protesters and all the well meaning citizens of the country are demanding justice for the victim in the quickest possible time as also necessary government measures so that such occurrences do not happen time and again. The deterrence has to come from

  • An awe striking  punishment delivered quickly. Indian government promises to set up fast track courts for such ghastly crimes but when. As it is the judiciary seems to be suffering from inadequacy of numbers in its ranks which is further accentuated by governments apathy towards filling in over 300 judges' posts lying vacant in High Courts. This is a little over 33% of the sanctioned strength of all the high courts. No wonder that Delhi high court alone has 61000 pending cases out of which 30% are pending for more than five years. The nation's requirement is enhancement of judiciary vacancies at all levels and it appears the polity's goal is exactly opposite of that. Is it their insensitivity to the cause of good of the nation and its common citizens or simple callousness or a simple ulterior motive of waiting for finding suitable candidates from within their near and dear ones committed to them personally or worst still their desire to allow all cases to linger for decades so that their innumerable brethren in polity who are booked for economic and criminal offences to continue as legislatures in the interest of their continuing in power.
  • The alertness and effectiveness of police force. Here too a large number of unfilled vacancies for reasons best known to these rulers with about 20% of Indian police force is only on paper. This is further complicated by the fact that very large contingents are deployed for VIP security, much in excess of the sanctioned numbers which are as it is bloated to cater for the whims and fancies of these VIPs rather than being need based.
In this given scenario, the intent of the government at the centre and the states leave a lot be desired and perhaps the Indian citizen has to be satisfied only with lip service unless and until some drastic changes are forced upon the present day polity and rulers. After all they are the servants of the people and not their masters as is their thinking at the moment.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BLACK MONEY: A CURSE ON INDIAN DEVELOPMENT STORY

In one of the latest reports by a Washington based research and advocacy firm, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), India lost $123 billion in black money in a decade in illicit outflows. "While progress has been made in recent years, India continues to lose a large amount of wealth in illicit financial outflows," said GFI director Raymond Baker.
There has been a lot of hue and cry on the recovering of Indian black money stashed abroad but surprisingly not much has been said about curtailing the ongoing outflows of this money and the creation and supply of this black money within the country. According to some estimates, India's underground economy has grown to a huge figure of about 50% of the Indian GDP. Imagine what could be achieved had this been taken care of by successive governments. And what can be achieved in future by putting this money as investment in various urgent needs of the country like education, infrastructure, healthcare etc. etc.. In fact the principle of compounding holds very well in this case and in about five years time perhaps the category of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would vanish.
Black money creation is a result of corruption, bribery, kickbacks and tax evasion and affects the GDP growth directly by making available less funds in the exchequer and simultaneously increasing the expenditure on every new implementation and maintenance. Its potential to blunt the Indian march to prosperity through deleterious effects of fiscal and current account deficits, inflation and rupee devaluation is immense and is being felt by the nation as in actual terms the growth rates are quite dismal.
 If somehow or the other Indian government can control corruption, bribery, kickbacks and tax evasion, country's face and the plight of teeming millions could be changed in no time through good governance, good economics and good politics in that order. What ails India and the remedies thereof does address majority of these problems and how to overcome them. It is a well known fact that the Indian government and Indian polity understands all this but for some reason known only to them are dilly dallying on this issue of prime and utmost interest to the future of this country, its citizens and even their respective vote banks.



Sunday, December 16, 2012

IS INDIA PROGRESSING OR REGRESSING ?

Day in and day out Indian government reels out statistical data on the growth of GDP, per capita income and the consumption of steel, cement, electricity etc., the various parameters of growth of a country. This data brings about the rosy side of government efforts. Some people in the country are satisfied with this pace of growth whereas to a vast majority these are only some numbers and has not made any material difference to their quality of life and the path to poverty alleviation.
The two important parameters, namely the reservations and subsidies are sharp pointers to the failure of India's planning policy.
  • Reservations and Quotas: In 1950, the country started with the  reservation policy wherein schedule castes and schedule tribes were given a reservation of 15 % and 7% respectively on the basis of social and economic status. After sixty years, instead of these quotas coming down, the country has reservations to the tune of 50% and some places even much more by additions from newer classes. In fact more population groups are clamoring for additional quotas for themselves. Either the number of people that falls in the quota criterion has risen or it is the boon of vote bank politics. Whatever may be the fact, the answer to ' Is India progressing or regressing ' is clear to any unbiased citizen of the country.
  • Subsidies: If India were progressing the number of people in need of subsidies for food, fuel as also the amount spent on doling out these subsidies should have come down whereas the reality is just the converse of this.
India certainly is on road to become an industrialized nation but sadly the fruits of this industrialization  do not seem to trickle down to its poor millions. This raises a very serious question. Is India's planning on the right path? Is this growth rate sufficient to alleviate poverty in a reasonable time frame, say two or three decades? Or India will grow into an industrialized giant/behemoth wherein a big percentage has to be content with poverty and live below subsistence level existence as had happened in the developed world during the early stages of industrial revolution. It is time the polity and planners brood over this concern and come out with solutions that will bring the graphs of reservations and subsidies sloping downwards at the earliest.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

WHY THRUST TOWARDS RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES IS LANGUISHING

Edison-solar-energy
This is what Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor who gave this world electricity and electric bulb thought about the potential of solar, wind and tidal energy way back in 1931. Simultaneously he had a premonition that the human race would commit the folly of waiting for the drying up of all our fossil fuel resources before tackling the scientific and technological problems associated with harnessing of renewable energy.
There are others like George Porter, Ralph Nader and Joseph A. Tainter who gave their own assessment for this delay and how right they have been.


I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun’s energy… If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
George Porter, an English chemist (1973).

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.~ Ralph Nader, an American consumer activist and politician (1980).

Any change from the long established practices and technologies are resisted by cartels of nations,industries and even the technocrat lobbies for reasons of self interest and fear of losing on their monopolies and importance. This is why the nuclear nations are strongly touting for nuclear energy in spite of the universally known fact that a nuclear power plant is a ticking catastrophic bomb and has massive problems associated with disposal of wastes, dismantling of old plants, danger of nuclear fuels passing into the hands of terrorists and what not. Joseph A. Tainter, an American anthropologist has very aptly summed this in the following lines.
…a voluntary change to solar energy and green fuels, energy-conserving technologies, and less overall consumption… is a utopian alternative that… will come about only if severe, prolonged hardship in industrial nations makes it attractive, and if economic growth and consumerism can be removed from the realm of ideology.
The two main problems i.e. the requirement of large tracts of land and energy storage when renewable energy sources are to be employed are just excuses by vested interests to avoid them for the time being. 
“Opportunities to install renewable energy systems on vacant properties can be found in every community,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Tapping sun and wind power at brownfield sites, rooftops, parking lots, and abandoned land could provide untapped gigawatts of clean energy.”
Similarly, the requirement and problem of energy storage is not as big as is being made out. First of all, about 50% of power requirements are during day time, similarly large quantities are required in stand alone applications, mini and micro grids. All solutions lie in combining and hybridization of technologies. In fact the developed world is guilty of telling us how renewables cannot be used for providing energy security to  this world  instead of how they can be used. Where there is a will, there is a way.The day politicians, scientists and technologists set their sights on these inexhaustible sources, nothing else will be required for energy security.


Friday, December 14, 2012

INDIA CALLING OR CRYING: REFORMS: CABINET COMMITTEE ON INVESTMENTS AND LAND...

INDIA CALLING OR CRYING: REFORMS: CABINET COMMITTEE ON INVESTMENTS AND LAND...: Cabinet committee of Government of India cleared two much hyped reforms, namely the formation of cabinet committee on investments chaired ...

AADHAR BASED PAYMENTS ARE A BIG STEP FORWARD

Unique identification number (UID) or the Aadhar based cash transfers will take effect from January 2013 in 51 districts of India. This initiative is ultimately going to be a game changer in the fighting corruption particularly the petty one. This corruption involves payments of  National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) wages, scholarship and pensions to non existing individuals, leakages and pilferage of subsidized food articles, kerosene and LPG gas to non existing persons. Though petty in nature, the impact of this corruption on the economy is huge as the loss amounts to something like 25000 to 30000 crores of rupees. Similar amounts gets wasted as a result of wrong classification of poor, wrong allocation of NREGA work, maintaining musters, identifying beneficiaries for scholarships and pensions etc. India aims at covering 600 million people under Aadhar by 2015. for such payments and that will be a day of reckoning for no legal beneficiary will have to dole out cuts to any person.
Aadhar is the only viable solution to the malaise of black money and corruption . The day India is in a position to link all asset forms to an Aadhar card, a new prosperous and powerful India will start emerging.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FDI In MULTIBRAND RETAIL

The Indian parliament is engaged in a hot debate on whether India should go ahead with FDI in multibrand retail or not. Various classes of people namely the Indian retail community including small retailers ( Kirana stores ), farmers, employees of Indian retailers, multi layered middlemen system and finally the consumer. Every body's aspirations are to have a prosperous and better life. This means interests of every class clashes with that of the other. Farmer will like to have maximum value of their produce, consumer will like to have maximum value for its money, workers whether in the farming sector or small retail will love to have better wages and better working environment or in other words will love to be part of organised sector and the middle men will will like to earn maximum through commission trade. It is in this confusing scenario that the country has to seek a solution for the betterment of its masses.
It is a basic fact that every individual whether belonging to rich, middle or poor class, whether from the farming community, working class, retailer community is a consumer and any means/ any policy measure that can help in lowering down the price to the consumer and simultaneously giving better remuneration to the farmer has to be welcomed. Any measure that moves the work force to organised sector from unorganised sector with better working conditions, amenities and basic perks like insurance and medical facilities has to be welcomed and not decried. If the scale of operations can help in manufacturing activity and reduce the cost to consumer in fields like automobile, telephone etc. without harming the small sector and in fact giving a big boost to all ancilliary industry and small scale industry.
In the light of this, the country must make use of benefits of scale of operation which is the only way forward to improve the standard of its masses and FDI in multibrand retail is one such measure that will go a long way in mitigating the plight of Indian masses with enormous high grade employment opportunities at all levels at the front as well as back end. Not going ahead with such an opportunity will be a retrograde step and an opportunity missed to improve upon the plight of India's poor masses.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY THROUGH NUCLEAR POWER : A BANE OR A BOON FOR HUMANITY

The story of  immense energy locked up in an atom and its release during fission and fusion processes is about seventy year old and has been a talk of thinkers, philosophers, scientists and leaders for use in  military, energy and medicine fields. In the early second half of the last century, we were given to understand that the catastrophic effects were associated only with the military application of nuclear bombs and if we allowed science to develop as a good servant instead of its being the master, nuclear sciences could well be the game changer for humanity for all times to come. Slowly the overall deleterious concerns of playing with the nuclear sciences came to light. The concept of energy security through nuclear power emerged as a bane  rather than a boon to the humanity. The rhetoric of a few world leaders, a few powerful lobbies and  industrial cartels with vested interests and ulterior motives not withstanding. "I do not know with what weapons the third world war will be fought but the fourth world war will definitely be fought with bows and arrows" These ominous words from none other than A. Einstein, the man behind the concept of nuclear energy, though said in the context of an atom bomb hold equally well for mankind's efforts to utilise this energy for peaceful uses, the much touted nuclear power. We have to understand that controlling such an enormous energy giving reaction with our limited knowledge of nuclear physics, mechanical sciences, material sciences, causes of accidents along with the uncertainties of nature and allied phenomena  with 100% surety is nothing but a mirage. It will only be prudent on the part of mankind not to sit on thousands of these ticking catastrophic bombs of self annihilation just for the sake of energy security and that too for the coming few decades ( In the light of limited availability of nuclear fuels ), particularly when our planet has been bestowed with eternal and absolutely safe energy sources like sun and wind. If we are destined to fall back upon the use of renewable energy sources for all our energy needs after six or seven decades, is it not worthwhile to do it right now and be done away with the risk of destruction of mankind.

NUCLEAR FUELS ARE A CURSE ON HUMANITY

Today Energy security is the topmost priority requirement of the mankind and how to achieve this is the hottest topic of debate in all countries on our globe. While everybody seems to agree  to the idea of having clean energy so that global warming is controlled as a first step and subsequently reversed, a fierce battle is going on about the route to be adopted for this clean energy. The candidates for clean energy are nuclear, and renewable energy sources like hydro, solar, wind, ocean, geothermal etc. etc.. The major criterion for  any clean energy are 
  • Involvement of clean and safe processes for making available energy source at the power plant
  • Power producing  process to be safe, least accident prone and incapable of being catastrophic under any conditions
  • Wastes and by products resulting from the process should also be safe and clean
It does not require rocket science to understand that all renewable energy sources measure themselves adorably when subjected to the rigours of all criterion postulates mentioned above but can we say the same about nuclear energy. The answer is a big emphatic no to all the three criterion.
Let us now examine the story of energy from nuclear power plants rigorously.
  • Nuclear fuel mining: The troubles start right from the stage of the mining of uranium ores to their crushing, leaching to make what is known as natural Uranium. The miners are subjected to toxic effects and the mines are left with toxicity on the surface which otherwise was lying dormant deep under the surface of earth.Uranium mining is a very inefficient process and generates vast amounts of toxic waste.In fact uranium mine tailings leave vast amounts of toxicity.
  • Fuel enrichment: Natural Uranium is about 99.27% of U-238 and 0.72% of U-235, the fissile isotope which is used for nuclear reactors of power plants and nuclear weapons. What is left behind is called depleted uranium ( DU ) containing about 0.2 to 0.4% U-235 and the balance U-238. DU has a density of 19.1 g/cc and is used for defensive armour and armour piercing projectiles as also the so called Dirty Bombs. DU contamination occurs when these products are employed during a war and produces lingering toxic effects on humans and land area.
  • Nuclear power production: Apart from the ever imminent lurking danger  of  a catastrophic  accident, as probability theory cannot be relied upon for assessing the safety of a nuclear power plant in the light of big chunks of deficiencies in our knowledge of nuclear physics, mechanical sciences, material manufacture and subsequent behaviour in different conditions and the vagaries and severity of natural calamities and disasters. Also we have to understand that technology can never be a guarantee to safety.
  • Wastes and by products: The spent fuel and its disposal are the biggest cause of concern for the humanity and even though the world has been producing nuclear power for well over fifty years, no viable solution has been found. Solutions to the problem of managing Nuclear waste and its safe custody are the topics that are bothering the strongest exponents of nuclear power for the costs involved and effectiveness of these solutions.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY VIEWPOINT

Energy security is the most pressing need of all the nations on this globe and the debate on various options available has been going on for the last few decades. Any energy source that qualifies as the ideal viable energy security option must fulfill the following conditions.
  • The first and foremost requirement of a viable energy security solution is that it should be a clean source  capable of producing energy in a clean manner without any contribution to the biggest worry of  global warming.
  •  The source must be eternal and have the capacity to last for thousands of years so that the researches and technology development efforts can lead to an eternally valid solution like the invention of wheel. 
  • All processes involved in utilising an energy source for producing energy right from mineral stage to fuel extraction, power plant wastes and spent fuel disposal should be absolutely safe for humanity. In addition there should be zero chance of catastrophic accidents.
A quick simple analysis ( requiring no rocket science knowledge ) of all available energy sources within the framework of conditions cited above leads to the renewable energy sources as the only answer to the problem of energy security. The global efforts, time, money and resources need not be spent in a zigzag haphazard manner to cater to the whims, fancies and vested interests of leaders, industry cartels and powerful lobbies. The wisdom of humanity and ultimate welfare lies in taking the shortest straightforward route to taming of nature's gifts of sun, wind, ocean, river and geothermal energies for its energy security.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

BLUE PRINT TO A PROSPEROUS INDIA

India as a nation is marching ahead on the road firstly to poverty alleviation and subsequently to prosperity and global economic superpower.No doubt the path is riddled with obstacles at each and every step but the final goal can be certainly achieved through relentless, coherent and sincere efforts by the rulers of the country  This requires balanced good politics, uncompromising good governance and  good economics powered through good governance.We do hear once in a while that good economics is good politics also but never heard from any quarter that good governance is the key to everything and is in fact the mother of good politics, good economics and subsequent march to prosperity. Total attack on the problems facing the country which are impediments in the path of journey to prosperity requires reforms like legislative, administrative, judicial, election pertaining etc. etc. and appear to be extremely difficult in the light of fractured mandates and compulsions of coalition politics even if there is will to do so. But still a lot can be achieved within the framework of existing rules and regulations and by attacking problem areas whole hearted from all angles rather than finding a patchwork solution which at best will provide some relief in the short run.

  • The first and foremost step towards making of a prosperous India lies in ensuring long term proper and sound fiscal health of the economy. The two important parameters namely the current account deficit and fiscal deficit must be kept within a tolerance band so that the inflation and rupee exchange rates do not completely nullify the effect of GDP growth on per capita income and instead of contributing to poverty alleviation contribute to poverty elevation as is happening during the last few years.
  • Education and human resource development is the next most important step towards bringing prosperity in India. Monetary and fiscal measures do help in improving the sentiment for investments but to realize the full potential of investments and the economic health of the country as also to fire up these sentiments, a lot of value addition is mandatory in the field of human resource development. A country where only 20 % of manpower pouring out of universities, business schools, engineering colleges, technical diploma schools ( polytechnic colleges ) and Industrial Training Institutes ( ITIs ) are considered to be employable along with the vast majority of manpower who can only boast of two hands without any particular skill can never become the preferred investment destination by the international community.
  • Corruption mitigation and good governance is potentially perhaps the biggest growth drivers of the Indian economy and  in fact can catapult the Indian growth story to a level much beyond the normal comprehension. Indian rulers have to exhibit a deep sense of devotion to the Indian cause and rise above the short term attractions of so called good politics.
  • Infrastructure development : Development of  roads, rail, power plants, power transmission, ports, airports etc. can lend a lot of momentum to Indian growth story and race to prosperity.
  • Reforms in all sectors be it electoral, financial, judicial, administrative must be taken up immediately. We have been hearing about them for a very very long time but somehow are the other the total polity of the country develops cold feet when it comes to implementing them, on one pretext or the other.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

CORRUPTION IN INDIA - A RESULT OF APATHY, COMPULSION OR CORRUPTION MOTIVATED GOVERNANCE ON THE PART OF INDIAN POLITY

India and its development pace are going to dogs because of malaise of corruption which is prospering exponentially. But sadly enough this issue is not getting the due attention it should get from the rulers of the country. This is a known fact, a fact known to all the citizenry of this country that every action, every deed of the government, small or big is mired with corruption and graft but no worthwhile action is coming forth. Still worst the common man has been reduced to being a mute spectator to the demon of corruption and left wondering whether the corruption in India is a result of apathy, compulsion or corruption motivated governance on the part of the polity.
  • Apathy towards corruption is so apparent that a person like me had to rethink about the role of rulers and legislatures. As a youngster like all students I understood that we elect representatives through elections for ruling and governing states as well as nation. But today after witnessing the drama on corruption and the concern of these legislatures for more than a decade I am left with no option but to  conclude that elections are meant for electing informers to the nation in the same way as the police has informers on the streets. Leaders belonging to all parties, starting from grass root level workers to the mightiest of the land are found dutifully informing the voters that corruption and graft are prevailing here there and everywhere. Yet no action comes forth - administrative, judicial, preventive or legislative
  • Compulsion of coalition government in not getting necessary legislation in place cannot be understood by a normal citizen particularly when such legislations cannot come in the way of social, political or economic ideology of any party. A partial explanation can be found when one thinks of the crab mentality of politicians which is an absolute must in politics for denying the credit to the ruling party for anything that can affect the votes. But this explanation is wrought with dangers as no body will like to be seen as a perpetuator of corruption. 
  • Corruption motivated governance is the only plausible explanation as corruption and black money and  allowing such opportunity to one and all of the cadres,bureaucracy, power brokers etc.. are the back bone of politics in India. Money makes the mare go and it is the sole victory ensurer in elections and is equally important for continuance in power as well. The pressures of transfers, promotions, greed of doles of appointments and extensions after superannuation and many a times discretionary allotment of real estate are enough to change the outlook from 'Loyalty to the nation' to 'loyalty to boss or chair' for most of public servants.
When these are the realities on ground, only a systemic change along with quick disposal of cases and plugging loopholes in system as also change of attitude of the polity is a must if India is not to be denied its rightful place of glory amongst the developed world in a foreseeable future.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

GOONS AND BUFFOONS RULING / RUINING INDIA

The every day occurrences of high handedness by the mighty of the land, their views on heinous crimes like gang rapes and economic offences speaks volumes about what they think of their beyond the law of the land status and unlimited powers. The rights of a normal citizen and his existence is that of the worm of the lowest order as seen in the following:

  • Abduction of Chief Medical Officer of a district in Uttar Pradesh by a minister for not acceding to his illegal orders
  • Multitude of gang rapes in Haryana and the apathy and complacency on the part of government and the uttering of senior leaders of the state.Somebody saying that girls should be married when they are minors. Somebody saying that girls themselves are responsible for these rapes. Who knows tomorrow we may be told that girls should be killed before they are born. Not a single word on deteriorating law and order situation and helplessness on the part of government to nab and punish the guilty.
  • A Member of Parliament (MP) from Gujarat brandishing his gun on an attendant at the toll plaza who had the audacity of asking the Demon of an MP his I Card for letting him pass without paying the toll tax. Gone are the days when performing one's duty in the right earnest was rewarded even if meant a little bit of inconvenience to the mighty one's of the land.
  • Financial irregularities by VIPs and their kith and kin and the government instead of taking a serious note of these irregularities and necessary action thereon, is fighting tooth and nail to defend the actions with all its might. It seems that the government and its ministers are either the lawyers to these VIPs or all apparently dubious looking deals are done after seeking their legal opinion. No surprises that the Honorable Law Minister of India earns the epithet of son in law's minister on our media channels. A national spokesperson of the ruling party and an eminent lawyer was heard on a TV channel the other day saying that the government cannot act in matters of business deals between private parties. A  small question for the guidance of fellow citizens to these legal luminaries. A powerful individual X in government does a favour to a private party and tells the firm to give the benefit to his major son in cash or kind. Is it in order as far as the government of India is concerned. An Individual Y buys an ordinary wooden table from his son for a few crores. Is the transaction in order in the eyes of the government?
There are 746 MPs and 4063 legislatures from all states of India. Out of these 31 % MPs and MLAs have criminal records and cases pending against them in Indian courts. How many more will fall under the economic offence category? Your guess is as good as mine but needless to emphasize that the number is going to be pretty large. George Bernard Shaw could not have imagined that a country with the credentials of India could also exist when he said,"Politics is the last resort for the scoundrels." Though one feels ashamed even to to say so for your country, but is forced to agree to the slightly modified maxim "Politics is the first refuge of a scoundrel." With this mix of elite and august gathering amongst the polity of India, the ruling class, what else can be expected. All these guys get elected also in elections is the saddest commentary on the democracy of India. So how can the rulers or the parties which form the government ignore them or do something against their interests inter alia their own continuance in power.
Every day we are reminded by the polity that no man is guilty unless convicted by a court of law.The first and foremost deduction from this is that these guys with the connivance of the government of the day will never insist and work towards having a judicial and investigating system for the quick disposal of all cases, ideally in two years time from lower courts to the highest court of law. Unless and until that happens, we in India have to live in an atmosphere of anarchy, hoodlumism, might is right and above all in a thoroughly corrupt country destined to be ruled/ruined by the goons and buffoons at the helm of affairs.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ON CORRUPTION IN INDIA

Indian prime minister today made a passionate speech at the 19th conference of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and state anti corruption agencies wherein he laid stress on the ill effects of so called atmosphere of negativity and pessimism. He has either failed to realize the correct picture and magnitude of the malaise or is deliberately downplaying  it or perhaps it was not the forum where he could lay bare the naked reality of the extent of corruption menace prevailing in the country. As a general citizen of this country, one cannot but scoff at such attempts when corruption and corrupt practices are a rule rather than an exception in business, administration and governance.
These anti corruption agencies no doubt have to upgrade their skills in order to achieve greater success but the real answer has to be found with some out of the box thinking on the part of government. In my opinion  following things are a must if India wants to tackle this menace in a big way. Firstly the anti corruption agencies and related judiciary must be beefed up to an extent that no case drags beyond two years.It is a pity that many times the cases hang on for decades in various courts for one reason or the other. We often hear that justice delayed is justice denied but what about punishment delayed or denied? In my opinion it is a slur on the name of governance, a slur on the name of investigating and convicting agencies and in short on the government.
Secondly, all asset classes real estate, gold, investments in stocks and commodity market, trusts and even the companies should be linked to Unique Identification Number so that at the click of a button total value of an individual or a business entity can be found out year wise along with tax liabilities, tax remittances as also pointers to an economic offence if any.

And lastly the government should not shirk its responsibility to unearth corruption even when two private parties are involved. If it fails to do so, it is giving a unique methodology to all powerful members of the polity and bureaucracy to do everything shady in the name of their near and dear ones ( private parties ) and government just becomes a mute spectator to the rape of country's rightful monetary accruals/gains.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CORRUPTION MITIGATION IN INDIA : A DREAM LIKELY TO REMAIN UNREALIZED WITH PRESENT POLITY

Corruption mitigation and recovery of black money can perhaps be the biggest growth engine of the Indian economy. With a history of scams coming to light one after the other everyday and nothing worthwhile coming out of the probes because of ulterior motives and hidden agenda of one set of polity or the other or powerful bureaucracy on frivolous grounds and with the help of total government machinery and might the solution to this malaise remains a mirage.
It is really surprising that the moment a scam involving some bigwig of the country is brought to light by the efforts of media, some organisation or an individual on the basis of circumstantial or derived evidence, all big wigs of the government jump in to say that no crime has been committed or there is no case of corrupt/ illegal practices followed in the deal or decision. They have never realized that such certificates of clearance can only be given by the person concerned, his accountant, his attorney or his accomplices who no the truth. Others who hold very high offices in the government or happen to be national leaders forget that from them the "country expects loyalty to the nation and not to the chair or the party as is expected out of lowly placed workers". These mighty individuals very conveniently forget that they are enjoying tax payers money and lofty positions to mitigate all wrong doings on the economic front, be it corruption, graft, bribery or black money creation and not for making use of their gift of the gab and legal profession knowledge to help criminals and law offenders.
Recently in the case of 2G scam and Coalgate scam, the ruling polity is taking shelter behind supreme court decision on allocation vs auction route for country's national wealth and natural resources. The court gives a ruling on whatever it is asked. Has the court said that in the name of policy a route will be followed that is detrimental to the national exchequer and in the name of policy a route will be followed that will benefit the kith and kin of those in power, their cronies and stooges. In the most recent case involving Robert Vadra dealings with DLF, the topmost real estate company of the country, government is not willing to probe saying that the dealings between two private parties don't fall under the purview of the government agencies. If this is the case only a couple of thousand individuals in this country fall under the purview of government agencies, for all relatives, friends and near and dear ones of those in power are private citizens of the country and enjoy immunity against probe by government agencies.The millions of people actively involved in corruption, graft and economic offences are left to flourish in this country. For whose benefit? Your guess is as good as mine.
But the fact remains that with this polity who has no inclination, no sincerity and no will to fight and eradicate  the rot of  corruption, corruption is going to stay and flourish in India and the Indian masses will keep on suffering through poverty, harassment at all levels and giving bribes for even their legitimate rights.


Monday, October 8, 2012

REFORMS IN INDIA ONLY SCRATCHING THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG Of GROWTH POTENTIAL

Of late government of India has initiated some reforms like the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, insurance and pension along with a small attack on the subsidy bill which are likely to have positive effect on the fiscal health of the country. No doubt the country needs funds to control high current account deficit and investments by way of FDI and Foreign Institution investments (FII) which results in perking up Indian rupee visa a vis dollar. Rupee has appreciated about 8% as a result and this will reduce country's oil import bill by the same amount. The feel good factor about the Indian economy brought about by this and likely to be strengthened further through continuing of the reform process only can at best help in changing the course of GDP growth trajectory but cannot take it to the highs of a good double digit growth which is there for the asking in the light of global turmoil and the opportunity window that has come India's way because of low cost skilled manpower, right demography and a huge insatiable internal market.
The next gen drivers of  Indian economy i.e. infrastructure and human resource development, corruption mitigation and good governance, and Indian energy security have been actually left unattended and unaddressed. It is hard to understand the logic and wisdom of trying to develop India through service industry alone rather than through the hard core manufacturing and industrialization approach. No country on this globe has achieved prosperity through this route, least of all a country of the size and population density of 650 per square kilometer.Though a meaningful reform process is needed in all the sectors mentioned above, the following need attention on topmost priority basis if the intentions of the government are to make a sincere whole hearted effort to make India a prosperous country and catapult it to the status of an economic superpower in the foreseeable future.

  • Corruption mitigation and bringing out black money whether stashed in banks abroad or packed in gunny bags and lockers in the country itself or invested in real estate or other asset classes  or businesses generating and thriving on black money is the first and foremost reform that is needed in the country. A concerted effort on a war footing in administrative, judicial and legislative reforms/measures  to achieve this goal is required. This can come through only when " Loyalty to the nation is the motto" rather than loyalty to the chair or party as is professed in power corridors now a days.
  • Austerity in all government spending and cutting down all infructuous expenditures.
  • Rationalization of subsidies (already existing and likely to be provided in the near future) and defining a clear road map for doing away with them. No doubt subsidies are a must in a poor country with a large population living below subsistence level but the country cannot afford to have them for eternity and it is the responsibility of the government to come out out with ways and means so that the number of beneficiaries decreases by at least 10 % each year. Subsidy in no case can be an open ended scheme. Simultaneously it is the responsibility of the government to see that there is no pilferage/ theft of subsidized goods and subsidy going into undeserving hands.
  • Doing away with all discretionary powers vested with executive and legislative executive particularly for doling out favours of real estate, promotions and postings, post retirement jobs/extensions which are generally used for obtaining favourable decisions/rulings by who's who of the power corridors. After all there is no dearth of talent and experience in this country and people remain in the power corridors by virtue of their manipulative skills and ability to fit in the jig saw puzzle of the government.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

INDIAN GOVERNANCE COMES ONLY THROUGH COURTS

India is perhaps the only country on this globe where the total polity and the governments in states and centre, day in and day out are busy yelling at the top of their voice that they are working overtime for the benefit of the poor citizenry of the country and the governance is solely aimed at improving the lot of have nots. The basic fact however remains that Indian government is a government sans any governance and is busy filling up personal and party coffers through actions which on paper are people centric and for the good of the country and its hapless millions.
Whatever iota of governance comes is because of the intervention of the courts, be it in the small matters of preventing pollution, safety of drivers, cleanliness and collection of garbage or bigger concern of corruption, graft and bribe. This has been going on for umpteen years and is still going on. The two recent examples, namely, providing of toilets in all schools in six months  and the time and petrol wasted at Delhi Gurgaon toll plaza speak of little concern by the governments to the woes of people and country. In another case where the court had to step in is the case of bringing 348 drugs ( National list of Essential Medicines ). This has been pending with the government for the last 9 years in spite of intervention of the highest court of the land. The court has made it amply clear that it cannot run the government but still even for small administrative decisions it has to intervene and force the government for taking decisions for the good of the country and its masses. The irony is that the ruling class and polity of all hues is always claiming to be working for the benefit and welfare of common man.

FDI IN RETAIL IN INDIA : WHAT IS THE FUSS ABOUT?

With great difficulty and hesitation the UPA government has taken a small step in the reforms towards building a modern prosperous India. Most of the opposition parties have taken a position against this measure based on their so called political ideology which only caters to populism and vote catching rhetoric. Surprisingly even the principle opposition party which was a strong exponent of this reform when in power has shown the famous crab mentality and is vehemently opposing the measure.
The main advantages of this measure were discussed in FDI in retail in India : A step in the right direction and its direct and indirect contribution to the fiscal health of the country cannot be undermined. However India as a country has to take a call on few basic postulates of Growth of the Indian economy and mitigation of poverty. Unless and until polity takes a forward looking stance on major policies Indian poor will remain poor and a neglected lot.

  • The first and foremost step in the right direction will be aiming at bringing in majority of Indian workforce in the organised sector with a shift from daily wage workers to regular employees in the quickest possible time so that they also start living a meaningful life with a better work place environment, medical care and retirement benefits. Such things can happen only when the scales of operation of every business whether in manufacturing, service industry, retail or construction industry are increased manifolds. FDI in retail and encouragement to Indian organised retail with strict adherence to employer employee relationship is definitely a game changer in this direction.
  • A farmer is a producer of goods no doubt, but is he not a consumer. He produces say five items but consumes hundreds of other everyday requirement items and is going to be doubly benefited through higher prices for his produce and at the same time getting his everyday requirements at cheaper prices.
  • Industrialisation, automation and large scale operations in any field are cost effective and ultimately result in lowering down of prices of products. These processes and operations have not harmed any country on this globe and there is no reason or truth that they will harm the Indian citizenry. In fact the woes of the advanced countries and their economies emanate from over doing of social security and unfavourable demographic mix . The Indian polity will do well if they foresee all this and succeed in not letting the country ultimately fall in this trap.
The Indian rulers and polity will do a service to the nation if they become a little forward looking and try to spend their energies in putting every Indian worker in the organised sector with proper policy decisions and legislative measures wherever required instead of harping upon the rhetoric of retrograde vote catching slogans.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

INDIA: A LAND OF SCAMS

Japan is known as the land of rising sun, Korea is known as the land of morning calm
Finland is called the land of midnight sun,Indonesia is called the land of thousand islands, Turkey is called the sick man of Europe and Africa is called the dark continent


These epithets are earned as a result of unique geographical location or the strength and weakness of a particular nation. While the government of India likes to call India by the epithet ' Incredible India' , to a common unbiased man the right description for the country is India: A land of scams'. Everyday one comes across some new scam of the magnitude of thousands of crores of rupees, not that what has come to light already is the end of list of scams. In fact all these come to light as a result of probing by media with its meagre resources and strangely enough the all powerful government and its agencies, be it at the centre or states, never saw anything wrong the way country's assets are being looted in the name of development of the country and bringing prosperity to its masses by the who's who of powerful polity, executive and their cronies, stooges and near and dear ones.
We are just talking of instances involving losses and involvements of thousands of crores of rupees and if we have the inclination, energy and resources to find out all cases ranging from 50 lakhs to 1000 crore, the extent  to which this  malaise is affecting the country and its masses is simply beyond human imagination. Yet the polity of all hues is least concerned about it and the attacks and defence are kept in the political arena only. No body is interested in seeking a solution as it affects the very existence of the polity and its ability to loot the nation.
We have heard some top guns of Indian political system screaming that they are ashamed of being Indians over  realities of poverty in this country but never have we come across anyone from this polity being ashamed of corruption malaise. At least I was embarrassed when a foreigner named India as The land of scams and could only hang my head in shame. After all I am not a politician.

Monday, September 24, 2012

INDIA ON THE PATH OF GLOBAL LEADERSHIP OR SELF DESTRUCTION

India on the path of global leadership or self destruction ? This is the basic question in the minds of majority of Indians as well as analysts all over this globe. On one hand is the golden opportunity window resulting out of drying up of growth and earning avenues in most of the advanced countries of the world. while on the other India offers a huge insatiable market of consumer goods, services, infrastructure, medical care etc.etc. along with a huge skilled low cost human resource of a demographic mix compelling for all economic and manufacturing activity.
The path of global leadership revolves around the statesmanship of its leaders and the lesser humans in the form of polity will not only fritter away these opportunities but will lead the nation to a mess all around.
Actual scenario:
  • The economy is riddled with high inflation, rupee depreciation, high current account account deficit and high fiscal deficit and at the same time the government is riddled with the problems of lack of conviction and direction, indecision, compulsions of coalition politics and its own compulsions of not resorting to good governance and good economics. 
  • Luckily the prime minister could convince his party that good economics is good politics too. But sadly enough the Indian polity,both of the government and opposition do not seem to be attracted to the maxim that good governance is the ultimate and can catapult the results of good economics to yield ideal good politics.

For the sake of march of India to prosperity, for the sake of poor and under privileged and for putting India on the path of global leadership, a sincere and earnest effort and thrust in the following key areas is required or else India is certainly treading on the path of self destruction.
  • Corruption mitigation the first and foremost growth engine of Indian economy needs special attention from the government firstly through administrative measures and finally reinforcing these through legislative measures otherwise sooner than later India will move on the path of self destruction.This requires
  1. Election reforms on topmost  priority basis as elections are the mother of all corruption in India 
  2. The country witnessed 2G scam, Coalgate, Commonwealth games scam, Adarsh society scam and many others in recent times as a result of  governance which is motivated and guided by corruption and the governance has to get rid of this taint if India has to tread on the path of global leadership.
  • Infrastructure and human resource development could be a game changer in the Indian growth story
  • Resorting to renewable energy sources in a big way for use in  standalone mode and with micro and mini grids to start with covering more than 50% of the households in remote locations, small villages and towns. The expenditure in transmission and distribution, normally referred to as poles and wires expenditure and costing as much as the cost of electricity at the plant is not warranted. Simultaneously large scale power plants utilising in situ, free of cost, clean energy sources  like solar and wind with zero probability of catastrophic accidents should be developed on a war footing for providing energy security to the country.
  • Reinforcing Monetary policy decisions taken by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to tackle the problems of rupee devaluation, inflation, current account and fiscal deficits with actual increase of goods produced, measures to bring in austerity in government expenditure and cutting down all infructuos expenditure of the State.
  • Rationalisation of subsidy: Subsidies are a requirement in any developing nation but they have to be provided only to poor needy individuals and sectors with a cost effective and efficient distribution system with minimum cost to the exchequer and adopting procedures which do away with the thefts, pilferages and subsidy going into wrong hands. Diesel is a typical case in point. Diesel cars, fuel guzzler SUV's, top end sedans and luxury vehicles in the hands of rich and ultra rich of the land, factories, businesses and corporate sector are enjoying diesel subsidy along with the government itself and account for something like 50% of this burden. Similarly theft and misuse of kerosene and LPG cooking gas accounts for about 50% of the subsidy bill on these items and needs corrective action immediately.
The government has off late started with some decisions towards good economics and reforms in the policy. Further it is likely to come out with social reforms to allure its vote banks with various doles, freebies and subsidies. Unless and until these are carried out in an efficient manner and after devising a methodology to benefit only the real needy and target audience there is going to be a large unnecessary, wasteful drag on the exchequer. It is still not clear whether the reforms will stand the test of time in the parliament or not,for the Indian polity is very very volatile when it comes to taking a stand. In fact principles or policy considerations are the last word and everybody is looking for his pound of flesh in every vote for or against any issue that comes up for consideration. Even the two major national parties are guilty of switching their stand depending on whether they form the government or form the opposition as has been witnessed in the case of (Foreign Direct Investment) FDI in retail.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Ending India’s Massive Power Grid Outages

 By 3p Guest Author | September 20th, 2012 

 the great indian outage solar energy smart grid Renewable Energy india energy constraints
World’s Biggest Blackout – Image courtesy National Post, Canada
By Darshan Goswami, M.S., P.E.
On July 30th and 31st, the world’s largest blackout – The Great Indian Outage, stretching from New Delhi to Kolkata – occurred.  This blackout caused by northern power grid failure left nearly 700 million people – twice the population of the U.S. – without electricity.  A grid failure of this magnitude has thrown light on the massive demand for power in a country and its struggle to generate a much-needed power supply.
India aims to expand its power-generation capacity by 44 percent over the next five years. In June, the country’s power generation fell short by 5.8 percent against a peak-hour demand for 128 gigawatts, according to government data. India is divided into five regional grids, which are all interconnected, except for the southern grid. All the grids are being run by Power Grid, which operates more than 100,000 kilometers of electricity transmission lines.
Serious concerns have been once again raised about the country’s growing infrastructure and inability to meet its energy needs.  Government officials have concluded, “The grid failed because of the overloading of power,” and contend that “many states” try to take more power than they are allotted from the grid.
The country’s lack of energy security is a major constraint to its capacity to generate power.  The slow pace of tariff reforms is hindering infrastructure investment at the state level in most parts of the country.  The centralized model of power generation, transmission and distribution is growing more and more costly to maintain at current levels to meet increasing energy needs.  The blackout and shortage of power are hampering India’s economic growth and its capacity for growth.
So what can the world’s biggest democracy do to help eliminate such wide-sweeping outages in the future? Government should assess how best to address the power needs to meet the future growth and prevent such massive power failures. India’s power blackout is an opportunity for developing sustainable energy.  India urgently needs to develop and deploy large-scale renewable energy to end its power grid outages. I have addressed these concerns in my presentation, Renewable Energy Solutions For India – A Strategic Development Plan, and in the following published papers:  How Concentrated Solar Power Can Meet India’s Future Power Needs, Solar Farming Potential in India, How To Empower India With Big Solar Energy Plans, and Full version: India’s Solar Sunrise – Renewable Energy Focus.
For economic as well as environmental reasons, India needs to shift to non-polluting renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy is the most attractive investment because it will provide long-term economic growth for India. Decentralized off-grid renewable distributed generation sources like solar, wind, hydro, biomass, biogas, geothermal, hydrogen energy and fuel cells are the answers. These sources have the advantage of empowering people at the grassroots level and utilize distribution and transmission methods with little to no emissions. India should consider developing targets for electrification that include renewable off-grid options and/or renewable powered mini-grids. This will take a substantial electrical load off the existing power grid and also reduce the need for installing additional transmission and distribution systems.

FDI in RETAIL in INDIA: A STEP in RIGHT DIRECTION

The government of India has at last woken to the need of some policy reforms and has started with the FDI in retail and aviation which do not seem to fall in line with the vote bank politics of almost all the opposition parties of the country.Let us be reminded that many of them fought tooth and nail in seventies and eighties of the last century against mechanisation in farm sector, computerisation of the workplace including banks, railways etc. etc. by saying that these steps will increase unemployment. Today also we are no different and most of these parties who only believe in redistribution of already created wealth for bringing in prosperity rather than propelling wealth creation.Recently an article titled FDI in retail: made in united states has tried to project a lop sided picture of FDI in retail and this forms the basis of resistance by the opposition polity of the country who are only looking for some vote catching matter to fool the gullible citizenry of India.
Retail activity in a market covers following areas

 Fruit & vegetable sellers – Sells fruits and vegetables.
 Food stores - Result of bakery products. Also sells dairy and processed food and beverages.
 Non-Vegetable Store - Sells chicken and mutton.
 Kirana I - Sells bakery products, dairy and processed food, home and personal care and beverages.
 Kirana II - Sells categories available at a kirana I store plus cereals, pulses, spices and edible oils.
 Apparel - Sells men’s wear, women’s wear, innerwear, kinds & infant wear.
 Footwear - Sells men’s wear, women’s wear, kid’s wear
 Consumer durables & IT- Sells electronics, durables & IT products.
 Furnishing - Sells home lines & upholstery.
 Hardware - Sells sanitary ware, door fitting, tiles.
 General mechanize - Includes lighting, stationery, toys, gifts & crockery.
As it is the so called organised retail in the country is about 4-5% of the total retail. The interest of the retailer and employee always go against each other.  The footwear, apparel, consumer durables and IT, furnishings,hardware etc are part of the so called Indian organised retail, organised because of the fact that they just have sales tax number and not because they have employees rather than servants whose interests are taken care of through provident fund, medical insurance and other benefits due to an employee. Any good governance should aim at increasing the organised sector, be it a retailer or an employee.Incidentally retail in India is of the order of Rs 23000 billion (2,30,000 crore) and its contribution to the Indian budget  is  negligible but the contribution to black money is significant.These were discussed earlier in FDI in retail in India:why so much of opposition. But the Indian polity with all self professed concern for the poor man is working feverishly not to reduce this unorganised sector.
The talk about desruction of all the  Kirana and mom and pop stores along with 12 million retailers and 40 million employees is grossly over hyped and incorrect simply because its penetration in the Indian economy will be very very small.

  • Villages and towns below 1 lakh have a population of more lest than 900 million and are bound to cover 80% of 12 million retailers and 40 million employees comprising of the following categories and will be totally  unaffected by FDI in retail as big ticket retail stores have not been allowed to operate there.
  • Even in larger cities, where these stores will come in peripheral areas, presently only about 2-3% customers will be in a position to use the services of these mega stores because of limitations of personal transport, capacity and capability to store even a week's requirements.
 Then why go in for FDI in retail:
It offers many advantages, namely

  • A 10% mega store retail which may become a reality in the coming 15 years offers
  1. Rs 23000 crore of business which will abide by all the taxation rules of the government
  2. Bringing about 0.2 million employees into the organised sector with all the accompanying  benefits of giving them better remuneration, working environment and social security.
  3. Better earnings for the farmer and less rates to the consumer.
  • Apart from these direct advantages it offers certain grey area advantages which mean a lot in India's march to progress.


  1. Big boost to back end infrastructure like storage facilities including cold storage thus reducing the losses of farm produce
  2. Improvement in logistics of perishable and other commodities and allied infrastructure.
  3. Lowering of current account deficit directly and through feel good factor thus strengthening rupee. A 10% strengthening of rupee will reduce oil import bill proportionately and lower fiscal deficits thus helping in easing out inflation.
  4. Any capital inputs to the retail sector will upgrade India's  realty sector directly. 
In fact FDI in retail is a step in the direct direction and offers a win win situation in all aspects of economy. For this to happen the wise polity of the country should stop resorting to vote catching rhetoric and act in the interest of nation and common man.



Friday, September 14, 2012

INDIAN GOVERNMENT, A GOVERNMENT SANS GOVERNANCE

Governments of countries are meant for administration, governance and necessary legislations to increase the government revenues so that the same could be employed for the betterment of country's economy, and its masses.The present Indian government has failed miserably on these counts because of policy paralysis, its failure to curb inflation, current account deficit, fiscal deficit and above all mitigation of corruption, graft and black money. In fact the Indian government is a government sans governance. In fact sometimes I wonder whether the small phase of 8-9% GDP growth was just a providential jackpot thrust on the nation because of compulsions of advanced western economies. Any value additions on the part of Indian government through far reaching policies, administrative and governance positives does not appear to be a reality.
Statesmen think of next generation and create opportunities, Leaders Seize opportunities that come their way, while Politicians think of next elections and fritter away these opportunities and dirty politicians simply mess up everything.
In fact the Indian polity and leadership falls in the last category of dirty politicians and they are leaving no stone unturned to make a mess of everything and are hell bent not to use this unique opportunity window that has been thrust on India because of global economic woes.

Governance through courts : The courts have been forced to intervene in normal governance functions for the political process and the government's will was found deficient.The court interventions have grown to such a proportion that it has become a cause of concern as brought out in Disturbing trends in judicial activism but were absolutely necessary in the face of inaction by the government. Some excerpts are highlighted below:

COURT INTERVENTIONS
  • In the interest of preventing pollution, the Supreme Court ordered control over automobile emissions, air and noise and traffic pollution, gave orders for parking charges, wearing of helmets in cities, cleanliness in housing colonies, disposal of garbage, control of traffic in New Delhi, made compulsory the wearing of seat belts, ordered action plans to control and prevent the monkey menace in cities and towns, ordered measures to prevent accidents at unmanned railway level crossings, prevent ragging of college freshmen, for collection and storage in blood banks, and for control of loudspeakers and banning of fire crackers.
  • The Court is made the monitor of the conduct of investigating and prosecution agencies who are perceived to have failed or neglected to investigate and prosecute ministers and officials of government. Cases of this type are the investigation and prosecution of ministers and officials believed to be involved in the Jain Hawala case, the fodder scam involving the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Taj Corridor case involving the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, and the recent prosecution of the Telecom Minister and officials in the 2G Telecom scam case by the Supreme Court.
  • Matters of policy of government are subject to the Court’s scrutiny. Distribution of food-grains to persons below poverty line was monitored, which even made the Prime Minister remind the Court that it was interfering with the complex food distribution policies of government. In the 2G Licenses case, the Court held that all public resources and assets are a matter of public trust and they can only be disposed of in a transparent manner by a public auction to the highest bidder. This has led to the President making a Reference to the Court for the Court’s legal advice under Article 143 of the Constitution. In the same case, the Court set aside the expert opinion of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to sell 2G spectrum without auction to create greater teledensity in India.
  • The Court has for all practical purposes disregarded the separation of powers under the Constitution, and assumed a general supervisory function over other branches of governments. The temptation to rush to the Supreme Court and 21 High Courts for any grievance against a public authority has also deflected the primary responsibility of citizens themselves in a representative self government of making legislators and the executive responsible for their actions. The answer often given by the judiciary to this type of overreach is that it is compelled to take upon this task as the other branches of government have failed in their obligations. On this specious justification, the political branches of government may, by the same logic, take over the functions of the judiciary when it has failed, and there can be no doubt that there are many areas where the judiciary has failed to meet the expectations of the public by its inefficiency and areas of cases.
  • Economic Governance Through Reserve Bank ( RBI )
The Indian economy appears to be in a mess. Inflation rates are uncomfortably high. We have rupee valued at a all time low value in international markets. We have high current account deficit along with high fiscal deficit and the GDP growth is moving downwards continuously. Strangely, the government has left the answer to all these problems solely to RBI whose actions are leading to a catch 22 situation because of the interdependence of these problems when tackled through monetary policy actions. These patchwork solutions will only give some breathing period for the government to act with long term measures to have lasting solutions and alone will take the country nowhere and will only delay the impending disaster. The real answer lie in 
  • Inflation control through increasing the availability of goods and not through raising the interest rates which will only reduce the growth rates.Economics, governance and inflation go hand in hand and are the only permanent remedy to inflation and growth rates.
  • Current account deficit and fiscal deficit are dependent on Indian Oil Economics in a very big way and requires immediate attention on the part of government to seek a long term permanent solution in reducing the quantum of oil imports as also the subsidy burden in the light scenario of ever increasing   international prices of crude. The path of raising the prices through reduction in subsidies can give respite in the short term but reducing demand, pilferages, thefts and mismanagement of subsidies has to be accorded topmost priority to find a lasting solution.
But the Indian government has chosen the path of 
  • Disinvestment in Public Sector Units, a decision country is going to regret in the long run
  • Foreign Direct Investment
  • Policy of wait and watch  
  1. hoping international crude prices will cool off thus reducing the oil bill of the nation
  2. western economies will improve and our exports to these countries will grow.
  • And lastly Raising oil prices partially but good economics and good politics will never go hand in hand and ultimately good politics will rule supreme. The answer has to through a combination of good governance with a 60% weightage and good economics and good politics with a 20% weightage.
These actions can provide some relief to the Indian economy in the short run but the long term solutions will emerge through good corruption free governance, increasing efficiency, stopping thefts and pilferages and meaningful austerity measures. Alas, no effort in these directions is forthcoming from the Indian government and sadly it remains a government sans governance.