Category Archives: Economy

Come, Let’s recycle!

Recycling reduces pollution, saves energy and resources. It is an important tool in the waste management. In USA, as much as 34 % municipal solid waste (MSD) is recycled. In India, recycling happens, but in an unstructured manner, viz. rag pickers, etc play important role in that. Here is my article on “Recycling and solid waste management” published today (Nov. 17,2014) in a Delhi-based daily The Political & Business Daily.

PBD Nov 17 2014 Recycling

दास्तान-ए- सड़क: अमरीका व भारत

विकास का स्वपन बिना अच्छी सड़कों के अस्म्भव है। नवम्बर 10, 2014 को “दैनिक अजीत” समाचार पत्र में प्रकाशित मेरा आलेख: http://www.ajitsamachar.com/edition/20141110/3.cms

Published Ajit Raod network Nov 10 2014

Austerity Drive is like a make-up

Recently, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced that his government will bring in austerity measures for his Ministers and bureaucrats. This is a right step by the Prime Minister and I welcome the decision. But the real economic growth will happen if the Modi govt. focuses on curbing the mammoth corruption that is eating the very foundation of Indian democracy, nabbing black marketeers (they run a parallel economy in India) and by bringing reforms that lead to better governance with more transparency. Create a pro- business environment that stimulates economy. By austerity measures, no doubt, the nation will save some money, but this is peanuts compared to the crooks and criminals milking the system under political patronage. Austerity to me looks like a facial make up! The real glow on face would come only if the circulation of the body increases so that it vitalizes the whole body. In other words, treat the root cause and not merely symptoms!

India- where roads take you nowhere!

Decent roads in India that let you drive with dignity: Am I asking for too much? The road network in a city is like circulatory system of the human body that brings vitality to the life. We must understand that good roads are a prerequisite for the ‘promised’ smart cities.
This is the theme this time of my weekly column “Musings from Chicago” published in the ‘Political & Business Daily’ on October 27,2014. 
Column 8 PBD Road network

Does Black Money lie in “Black Hole”?

Well, Black money does not lie holed up in the ‘Black Hole’ that it can not be recouped! I hope we Indians -irrespective of our political affiliations and beliefs- understand this simple fact!

It is clear that the Modi Government is  trying to save its face on non compliance of Black Money promise.
Per media reports, BJP will be disclosing a few SELECTED names of black money holders to the Supreme Court (SC). A very obvious question arises: Why only selected, around 136 names and why not all?
Is this not just a diversionary tactic to buy time to save rest of the influential tainted people?
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)has been insisting that all the names should be revealed.. AAP has published a detailed document on this issue on its website too. The reality is that there is not any law in India or treaty with any country due to which the government cannot take action against the black- money holders.
Simple! Where there is a will, there is a way! Always! 

Two main reasons that raise doubts about Mr. Modi government’s intentions are:
1) Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty: Is it a mere shield to escape from reality or the issue? The way, Modi government has been squirming, it raises doubts.
On the double Tax Avoidance Agreement between India and Germany, the Supreme Court observed that there was no provision in the agreement that limits the disclosure of information. It also stated that the plea is unsustainable as neither an agreement can limit nor violate the principles laid down in our constitution.
An extract from the judgment: “The above clause in the relevant agreement with Germany would indicate that, contrary to the assertions of Union of India, there is no absolute bar of secrecy.Comity of nations cannot be predicated upon clauses of secrecy that could hinder constitutional proceedings such as these or criminal proceedings”.
2) The provisions of the 
United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) are being ignored by BJP.
India, Germany and Switzerland are signatories to the UNCAC. Therefore:
• India is authorized to make requisite changes in the laws of our country to deal with black money issues.
• UNCAC overrides ‘bank secrecy laws’.
• UNCAC permits us to freeze, seize and confiscate illegal money.
So, BJP should utilize powers given under UNCAC to get back the black money rather than using it as an excuse to protect the black money holders!
Mr. Modi, do not genuflect! As Swami Vivekand said: Be up and doing!

दास्ताने-सड़क: अमेरिका व् भारत की जुबानी

दास्ताने-सड़क: अमेरिका व् भारत की जुबानी. सड़कों का विकास में महत्व उतना ही है जिस भांति शरीर के लिए रक्त का ! अमेरिका के विकास में सड़कों की भूमिका. भारत कहाँ खड़ा है उस मुकाबले में ?

पढ़िए मेरा साप्ताहिक स्तम्भ “वीर अर्जुन” समाचार पत्र में प्रति बुधवार को.

अक्टूबर 22, 2014  (बुधवार) के कॉलम के लिए क्लिक करिए: http://goo.gl/9a1WFK

 

Is the black-money chase turning into a pied pipers dream?

While addressing a rally in Haryana on April 3 2014, Modi as a prime ministerial candidate had said: “…I promise whether a new law is needed or a new pact with another country is required, I will bring this black-money back to India.”
Now on October 17, 2014- approximately seven months later -Mr. Modi is the Prime Minister of India. The Modi Government says that NOT all information can be disclosed and requests the Supreme Court to modify its order in the black money case on absolute disclosure of information pertaining to people who stashed tainted money abroad. The reason being put forth is the double taxation avoidance agreement to state information relating to account holders in foreign banks could not be put in public domain by virtue of the treaty.
I have a question: ” Are not double tax treaties aimed at avoidance of double taxation burden on ASSESSES rather than being considered as a vow of SECRECY?”

Is this not a betrayal by BJP, when so many voted them to power on their promise of ‪#‎Blackmoney‬

Even UPA gave the same excuse while in power. As opposition, BJP had come come up with a 23 point charter for getting back the black money stashed abroad citing the example of Tunisia. Here is the link for the same: http://ap.bjp.org/component/content/article/165.
The BJP’s U-turn has only one explanation: BJP had fought parliamentary elections with black money , as till date source of the funding is not known. So how can BJP disclose the names of those who funded their campaign! 

Coal makes the vision cloudy

August 25,2014: The Supreme Court today declared all coal block allotment done between the years 1993 to 2010 as ILLEGAL. It says coal block allocation was done in an arbitrary, unfair and non-objective manner. Though, it has stopped short of cancelling the allotments as the apex court says more hearing is needed into the case.
Thus, the roots of this mega-scam can be traced to NDA-led BJP also. It would be hard to believe if someone says that the Coal Ministry under the Prime Minister Shri A.B. Vajpayee did not know about the unfair means of continued or continuing allocations (a total of 70 coal blocks were given away from 1993- 2005, when BJP-led NDA was in power for a part of that duration). And later, Congress governemnt totally swept over the issue. Obviously, as Prime Minister and Coal Minister, Congress’ Man Mohan Singh owes a major responsibility for this scam ( he should have resigned as PM when the scam came to light during his resign, but he persisted). It seems, the coal had clouded the vision of all our parties and politicians during those years. It also shows that the beneficiaries of such scams and financial irregularities just play it low so that they continue to reap the benefit.

The coal scam is indicative of rampant and deep-rooted corruption and opaqueness in our systems of governance. As responsible citizens, let us not get divided over party lines. Who took the beating if politicians made the loot over coal blocks? We all- the hard working citizens of India!

To read more about the judgement of Supreme Court today on this matter, please click here.

सुहृद पूंजीवाद (Crony-capitalism)

जिस प्रकार हमारा समाज और हमारी अर्थव्यवस्था भ्रष्टाचार रूपी दंश से पीड़ित है, उसी प्रकार सुहृद पूंजीवाद (Crony-capitalism) हमारी अर्थव्यवस्था और इस समाज के लिए एक अभिशाप है। सुहृद पूंजीवाद में जहाँ व्यापारी व् पूंजीपति अपने व्यापार की सफलता के लिए सरकारी अधिकारियों के बीच अपने करीबी रिश्तों पर निर्भर होकर गलत तरीकों से कई महत्वपूर्ण निर्णयों पर सरकारी अधिकारीयों की सहमति की मोहर लगवाकर अपने हित और अपने व्यापार को पोषित करते हैं। फिर वो चाहे कोई कानूनी परमिट हो, सरकारी अनुदान हो या फिर किसी अन्य सरकारी योजना का हिस्सा हो। इसे हम व्यवस्था में व्याप्त वितरण में पक्षपात भी कह सकते है।
रिज़र्व बैंक ऑफ़ इंडिया के गवर्नर रघुराम राजन ने सुहृद पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ चेतावनी दी है, जिसमें उन्होंने कहा है: ” यह हमारी विकास दर को अत्यधिक धीमा करता है “। यह विकासशील देशों के विकास के लिए सबसे बड़ा खतरा है। आम जनता के हितों के लिए यह एक वास्तविक चिंता का विषय है।“ यह बात उन्होंने पिछले सप्ताह को मुंबई में ललित दोशी मेमोरियल लेक्चर में कहीं। श्री राजन ने कहा की पिछला आम चुनाव पूरी तरह से राजनीतिज्ञों और व्यापारिक समूहों के बीच सांठगांठ के आरोपों से भरा था जो की एक गंभीर चिंता का विषय है। राजन ने अपने गहरे पहलुओं को सबके सामने रखा जिसमे उनका कहा कि ‘अमीर और प्रभावशाली व्यक्ति भूमि और प्राकृतिक संसाधनों के आधिपत्य के लिए सुहृद पूंजीवाद का प्रयोग कर रहे है, कही ऐसा तो नहीं की सुहृद पूंजीवाद, अतीत में व्याप्त सुहृद समाजवाद को प्रतिस्थापित कर रहा है। यह लोकतांत्रिक अभिव्यक्ति, पारदर्शिता और प्रतिस्पर्धा के लिए हानिकारक है। यह एक स्वाभाविक प्रश्न है, की क्यों जनता ऐसे राजनीतिज्ञों को वोट करती हैं, जो की सुहृद पूंजीवाद को बढ़ावा देते है। कुछ अच्छे लोग है, जो राजनीति के परिद्रश्य को बदलना चाहते है पर जब वो चुनाव लड़ते है तो उनकी जमानत भी जब्त हो जाती है।
ध्यान देने योग्य बात यह है की मैं पूंजीवाद के खिलाफ नही हूँI मेरा अर्थशास्त्रीय झुकाव बाज़ार की तरफ है I सरकार का काम बिज़नस स्वयं करना नहीं है, अपितु, सरकार ऐसा मूल ढांचा तैयार करे ताकि नागरिक अधिक अच्छे ढंग से गुणवत्ता व् उत्पादन वाला व्वसाय कर सके।

Black Markets thrive in India

How much money lies in white in India (and abroad, by Indians) and how much money lies in black?

What is BLACK money? In today’s technology-driven era, monetary or financial transactions happen 24×7. The transactions where a portion of the money should go to the government, but does not happen is a black money. For example: If sales tax is not paid, income tax is not paid or where dues or fees are not paid but go to the intermediary hands (bribery, greasing palm), they constitute black money. Who suffers if black market thrives? The treasury (sarkaari kosh/khazaana) suffers and in the process, and consequently we all suffer because development work (civic amenities like roads, bridges, schools and other govt related works) does not happen as expected.

An article published today in The Hindu says that as per latest estimates, 75 % of Indian economy could be in form of BLACK money.

It is difficult to reliably estimate how much treasure lies in black markets!  To get some idea, the UPA government led by Mr. Man Mohan Singh had commissioned the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) to undertake this task. The report was submitted to the then Finance Minister Mr. P Chidambaram, but as the news reveals, he never brought it out. The file now lies with Mr. Arun Jaitely, the current Finance Minister.

The 3 sectors contributing most to black economy are: Capitation fee for higher education sector, Real estate deals, and Mining industry. For example, last year capitation fee collected in clandestine manner by private colleges was to the tune of approx. 6000 Crores. 

If the law of land is strong, if it is easy for people to do businesses in more transparent way, when financial laws are not complex and where government makes it easy for its citizens to do businesses through technology (e-governance), black markets will find it difficult to grow. But if politicians and businesses join hands to foster a mutually rewarding relationship, the interests of the the public are often ignored under such circumstances. This is called crony-capitalism.

Q: Can govt control black markets?
A: Yes, a strong government can. I mean you do not have to be physically strong. The intent to curb corruption is enough to make a headway in this direction.
Q: Do we have a strong govt at the Center?
A: Suna to yahi hai! But, does the current BJP party – even though with clear majority in the Parliament- has a clear financial integrity as its goal and objective? If its house is not in order, how can it bring semblance to the financial order of the country? 

To read the details , click to view the article here.