Is right to health should be a fundamental right in India

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imagesIndia is third largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity but what about the position of the India in healthcare access to its citizens? Economically sound country can have their citizens better health care facilities?. A sound economy is necessary for the growth of the country but it can augment better when healthy citizens contribute to GDP of the country. From the times of Nehru, We concentrated more on strengthening steel and manufacturing industries practicably absent in health and education, leaving to private sector. Socialistic measures taken by all  governments till to date are more or less oriented towards building up the economy of the country without constructive measures to build heath care. In post world war II , Japan, completely devastated and war torn country started from scrap became  one of the leading economies by mid 80’s, not only investing in industrial capital but also on human capital like health and education. So by improving quality of life we can enhance the economic development but there are less chances for the vice versa. Even it is true in Indian context, when we take the case of Kerala which invested in human capital having high literacy rate, life expectancy and low infant mortality rate. Kerala once having a poor economy now transformed in to state with highest disposable income per capita in India

          Governmental share of health care in India as a percentage of total health expenditure is one of the three lowest in the world. We are in the company of Haiti and Sierra Leone. We spend 1 percent of GDP while China spends close to 3 per cent and US spends 8.4 percent of their GDP. India is having a poor performance in various healthcare indicators like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate etc very low when compared to various south Asian countries like Srilanka, Bangladesh and BRICS countries. There are surplus of government schemes but failing utterly in providing primary health care facilities to citizens of India and reality is most of health care in India is privately funded. India’s awful performance in the HDI with 135 rank is mainly contributed by its low performance in healthcare indicators. To a country like India with more than 22 percent of population living below poverty line, catastrophic health expenditures by citizens further deteriorate there living conditions. So there should be effective and affordable universal coverage and health care insurance to be provided to all Indians

India took constructive steps to provide basic education to children by making right to education as a fundamental right by 86 constitutional amendment act of 2002, added article 21-A of the constitution, but heath doesn’t acquired any constitutional status. But Supreme court in various cases like Consumer Education and Resource Centre Vs Union of India, State of Punjab Vs Mohinder Singh held that right to health is essential for human existence and therefore, an integral part of the Right to Life, and It also held in these judgments that humane working conditions and health services and medical care are an essential part of Article 21. The Constitution of India also has provisions outlined in Directive Principles of State Policy, Articles 42 and 47 which promote citizens right to health but these are moral obligation on the state and cannot be enforceable in court of law like fundamental rights.

Traditional notion of access to healthcare is individual centric like access to medical treatment, medicines but there should be a wider interpretation of promotion of health at society level like clean living environment, protections against hazardous working conditions, education about disease prevention and social security measures in respect of disability, sickness and injury. Special emphasis is laid on elements such as women’s reproductive health and the healthcare of children. But public health sector in India is at nascent stage without any special emphasis from government and academic circles for constructive research in those areas. I want to be critical at his point, advance research in health care areas like molecular biology, nanotechnology etc are necessary but when more than half of the population of the India does not have access to primary health care facilities, what is the need for pouring millions of money in the name of scientific research which does not have any effect on the lives of common man. Present rightist Modi government spending more budgetary expenditure on defence in the name of modernizing it, but then what is the doom of living conditions of 1.2 billion Indians by the slashing the health care expenditure which is already one of the world’s lowest.

There is need for right to health as fundamental right like that of, right to food through food security act and right to work through MGNREGA, which is fundamental and will have complimentary effects on education, employment, economy and living conditions of the people.

Health is wealth: Sanitation -“Pehle shauchalay, Phir devalay” (first toilets, then temple)

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Sanitation and hygiene are the two important components of public health. India’s abysmal standards of sanitation are responsible for our poor developmental outcomes. There is an adverse impact of poor sanitation and hygiene on various aspects including environment, economics, education and gender. So, promotion of sanitation and hygiene has multidimensional outcomes and we need a multidisciplinary approach to achieve those goals. India has a population of almost 1.2 billion people and about more than half of this population (55%) has no access to toilets and defecate in open Most of these numbers are made up by people who live in urban slums and rural areas.

 Over 50 million people in urban India defecate in the open every day. Slum dwellers in major metropolitan cities, reside along railway tracks and have no access to toilets or a running supply of water. It is clear that, high density followed by highly congested living conditions in urban areas escalates problems like poor sewerage systems resulting to unhygienic conditions. 4,861 out of 5,161 cities across the country do not have even a partial sewerage network and eighty per cent of India’s surface water pollution is on account of sewage alone. Waste water treatment facilities in India are inadequate with very fewer sewage treatment plants. A report suggests that only 30% of India’s water is treated. The rest of the water makes its way into streams and rivers inducing water pollution. According to the country’s tenth 5 year plan, 75% of India’s surface water resources are polluted and 80% of this is due to sewage alone.

Problems related to sanitation in rural India are quite different, and they can mainly attribute to socio cultural reasons. For example, in the “Laws of Manu”, a Hindu text some 2,000 years old encourages defecation in the open, far from home, to avoid ritual impurity. Caste division is another factor, as by tradition it was only the lowliest in society, “untouchables” (now Dalits), who cleared human waste. Many people, notably in the Hindu dominated Gangetic plains, today still show a preference for going in the open—even if they have latrines at home.

Always there exists a direct correlation between better public health measures, improved health technology with rise in living standards and life expectancy. Noble laureate Angus Deaton explained this correlation excellently by narrating the story of “escape from poverty and death” in his important new book The Great Escape. During the mid19th century cholera epidemic in London, it was widely believed that cholera was caused by a blood disorder. John Snow, a physician, collected data on 1854 cholera deaths in London and put it on a map to find that cholera epidemic was more severe in areas with contaminated water supply, debunking the myth that cholera was caused by blood disorder. This led to a significant reduction in child mortality not only in Britain but also across the world in the 20th century.

India’s sanitation crisis is a key reason for India’s severe child malnutrition burden: rates of child malnutrition are higher in India than even in Sub-Saharan Africa. Research suggests that an unhygienic environment combined with high population density creates a perfect storm for diseases to thrive, and malnutrition to flourish in India and having severe impact on human health.  The water pollution aids the transmission of oral-fecal diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and other intestinal infections such as round worm and hook worm. Diarrhea alone accounts for over 535,000 deaths in children under 5 years of age. Several malnutrition cases in children due to contaminated water causing infectious diseases, rob them of their ability to absorb nutrients. Polluted water is also breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, carriers of diseases like Malaria and Dengue fever are responsible for another 300,000 deaths in our country annually.

In addition to health issues, the health-related economic impacts of inadequate sanitation, in India amounts to Rs. 2.44 trillion (US$53.8 billion) a Year this was the equivalent of 6.4 percent of India’s GDP in 2006. This means a per person annual impact of Rs. 2,180 (US$48). The economic repercussions are also evident in other areas like fisheries and tourism which are also hit by water related problems. The use of untreated sewage water for irrigation and the contamination of water bodies and contiguous areas is fast emerging as a health and environmental hazard in several countries, including India

Public safety of women is one under appreciated problem, as young women have to leave their rural homes after dark. In May, two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh visiting a field used as a communal toilet were raped, murdered and strung up from a tree. That case won notoriety for its extreme barbarity, but similar attacks are distressingly common. 66 per cent of the women in Delhi slums are verbally abused, 46 per cent are stalked and more than 30 per cent are physically assaulted while accessing toilets.

Present NDA government’s initiative of Swachh Bharat mainly aimed at ending open defecation by 2019. That will be 150 years since the birth of Mohandas Gandhi, who said good sanitation was more important than independence. But there is need to think beyond Swachh Bharat, rather than making flamboyant advertisements without any significant outcomes. While there is emphatic and unqualified evidence that better sanitation leads to better health, there is very slim evidence that large subsidies are alone responsible for reduction in open defecation. The answer to the sanitation puzzle in India could well be a combination of subsidies and social mobilization. Achieving better sanitation is not an easy task, as there are behavioural aspects that prevent people from adopting improved sanitation. Deaton argues in The Great Escape that “diffusion of ideas and their practical implementation take time because they often require people to change the way they live.

Social pressure is an important determinant of success in improving sanitary outcomes. Social shaming through information, education and communication can also be effective. There is a need for collective action and community participation. NO toilet and NO bride campaign campaign started by Haryana government is a good initiative

Swachh Bharat should include promoting sanitation facilities in public hospitals and to encourage research in areas like eradicating open defecation and improving sanitation. It should also include proper rehabilitation schemes and skill development programs for manual scavengers, which will reducing the caste prejudices present in the society. Smart cities initiative aimed at developing 100 smart cities in the country within in 5 years. Smart cities should be slum free and should have efficient drinking water facility with effective sewerage network. The urban sanitation policy of 2008 should be reviewed on the lines of present smart city project. There is a need for integration of smart cities project with swachh project to make the cities livable.

Next article: Health is wealth: Problems with invisibles

Health is wealth: Public Health Imperative in India

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Alcohol poisoning patients receive medic

Medicine or curative services is not the only soul contributor to health and well being of population. Health care covers not merely medical care, but also all aspects pro preventive care. There are several other determinants of health which include environmental, biological, socio-economic factors, information and communication, availability of health services, utilization of health services, age structure of the population etc. By influencing these factors or these determinants, we may play quiet a substantial role in improving the health. The excessive focus on curative medical care also detracts attention from the much more cost effective and efficient option of preventive public health investments that can stem the spread of infectious diseases and improve nutritional outcomes in the country. It is important to acknowledge factors beyond the realm of medical treatments in developing a healthy society.

The health of populations is a distinct key issue in public policy discourse in every mature society often determining the deployment of huge society. They include its cultural understanding of ill health and well-being, extent of socio-economic disparities, reach of health services and quality and costs of care and current bio-medical understanding about health and illness.

In World Health Organization’s 2009 World Health Report ranking, India’s healthcare system ranked 112 out of 190 countries. Some of the least developed countries like Senegal (59), Tunisia(52), Bangladesh(88) ranked better than India. It shows the poor policy making in relation to public health in India. Many of the policy makers argue that, country faces bigger challenges like economic development, infrastructure, jobs etc and they gave less importance to public health. But most of the time they failed to establish the relation between economy and health care.

The effects of health on development are clear. Countries with weak health and education conditions find it harder to achieve sustained growth. Indeed, economic evidence confirms that a 10% improvement in life expectancy at birth is associated with a rise in economic growth of some 0.3-0.4 percentage points a year. Disease hinders institutional performance too. Lower life expectancy discourages adult training and the emergence of deadly non-communicable diseases has become an obstacle for competitiveness, damaging the productivity.

Health financing, through out-of-pocket expenditures, is inequitable and can expose whole populations to huge cost burdens that block development and simply perpetuate the disease/poverty trap. On the other hand, health systems need financing and investment to improve their performance, yet this need cannot in turn impose an unfair burden on national spending.

Lack of healthcare insurance penetration is another major reason for high out of pocket expenditures. According to the World Bank and National Commission’s report on Macroeconomics, only 5% of Indians are covered by health insurance policies, which is only available for the urban, middle and high income populations. So there is the need for universal health coverage and I hope draft national health policy is going in the right direction.

Public health, which is, “Art and Science of protecting and improving the health of a community through an organized and systematic effort that includes education,provision of health services and protection of the public from exposures that will cause harm”.

This high burden of 3D’s, Disease, Disability and Death can only be addressed through an effective public health system. Ever increasing population with increasing geriatric population and changing lifestyle with more urbanization is putting pressure on environmental as well as on nutritional requirement resulting in nutritional deficiency, poor sanitation, increasing communicable and non communicable diseases etc.

Thus, public health approach is to deal with all determinants of health which requires multi sectoral collaboration and interdisciplinary coordination. Health care includes medical care and care of the determinants of health and this collective approach will help to improve the health of the community.

NEXT ARTICLE:

Health is wealth:“pehle shauchalay, phir devalay” (first toilets, then temples)

Imaging India as a constitutional monarchy

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India celebrated its 67th republic day on January 26, commemorating the adoption of its constitution in 1950. I have a point to make here. On the eve of Republic day, I am glad to see the patriotic Indians share the pride of Indian nation on their social networking profiles, but how many of them exactly know the difference between Republic day and Independence day celebrated on August 15. I am not questioning their patriotic credentials but at the same time most of them share their social media posts as a regular social networking custom.

                                Then coming to actual discussion, our constitution established, parliamentary form of government with president as a nominal head of the government. United Kingdom is a typical example for constitutional monarchy, where queen is the nominal head of the government. Canada and Australia still are ruled by the Queen of England today, though they are independent nations. Two former British colonies Malaysia and UAE, which got independence from British, adopted constitutional monarchy. Malaysia contains nine hereditary states, the rulers of which elect the  Yang diPertuan Agong (king), of Malaysia from among themselves for a five year term. Likewise, the president of the United Arab Emirates is elected from among one of the seven hereditary emirs of the constituent emirates.

 Sardar Vallabhai Patel had strived for a unified India, consolidating 565 princely states into the union of India. Some of the princely states like Hyderabad, Jaislamer, Bhopal are very big compared to European states. Patel and VP Menon worked indefatigably to bring all these princely states into the umbrella of republic India. It is the greatness of Patel and VP menon to enter into shrewd negotiations with princely sates, with rational offers like privy purses, and to retain their palaces and princely titles, but actually real power transferred into the hands of people and they were supposed to be princes only on paper.

Unlike 1970s western journalists, I have no doubt about the triumph and applicability of Democracy to India. But, If India adopted similar constitutional methods like that of United Kingdom or Malaysia, India would became a Pseudo democracy with constitutional head elected among the 565 princely states by themselves, but still the figure head would be nominal abiding to parliament. At the same time, there may be chances of India ending with wholesome monarchy because 42nd constitutional amendment converted the president into real ceremonial head. According to that amendment, president shall, in exercise his functions, in accordance with the advice rendered by the council of ministers. If India became a constitutional monarchy similar to United Kingdom, May be India does not have seen development of personality cults and dynastic politics around Nehru-Gandhi and there may be chance of more institutionalization of political parties and various organs of the executive. In United Kingdom, the actual parliamentarians and heads of government are more humble, since they themselves are not the object of praise and worship because that adulation is directed towards queen. Contrast to that Indian politicians behave as supreme beings, resulting to development of person based politics rather than the institution based political system. It finally adultered the ethos of democracy and take India to the brim of dictatorship during the times of emergency in 1975, which is mainly an outcome of increased personality clout of IndiraGandhi.

Although it is impossible now to imagine India as a constitutional monarchy, but if India adopted that type of constitution system it may or may not have contributed to political development of India, which is a debatable issue.

Rationality in India

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India is a large and populated developing country. India is called as subcontinent not only because of its distinct geographical features but also because of its religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity. It is very proud of its spiritual heritage, having given the world Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. India is a land of one of the earliest civilizations of the world that is Indus valley civilization, which is fully developed urban culture in proto historic times. Although India was a secular country, many political thinkers viewed the mainstream culture of Indian society is permeated essentially with ethos of Hindu religion which is believed, spiritually and morally superior to western culture, which is supposed to be materialistic, greed and lust for worldly goods.

“Spirituality is indeed the master key of the Indian mind; the sense of infinitive is native to it.”
“India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples.”

                                                                                    “Aurbindo Ghosh”

Swami Vivekananda was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world] and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. There are many prominent persons promoted spirituality, morality and religion in India but not at the cost of rationality among the Indians. In pre independence era and post independence era also many socio religious reformists try to promote rationality among the masse of India. They fight for scientific temper, secularism, freedom of thought and expression and defending reason and science, exposing superstition, blind belief, obscurantism, paranormal claims, and caste based social divisions. Rationalism cannot be merely taught in the classrooms, it has to become a way of life. Indian society was caught in vicious web created by religious superstitions and social obscurantism. Max Weber observed Hinduism as become a compound of magic, animism, superstition and abominable rites like animal sacrifice and physical torture had replaced the worship of god. In pre independence era many social reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy and Akshay Kumar Dutta etc take two important intellectual criteria for reform movements like rationalism and religious reformism. Raja Rammohan Roy affirmed the principle of casualty linking the whole phenomenal universe.

“Rationalism is our only preceptor” – Akshay Kumar Dutta.

Raja Rammohan Roy defender of basic and universal principles of all religions- Monotheism of Vedas and Unitarianism of Christianity – and at the same time attacked polytheism of Hinduism and trinitarianism of Christianity. Although pre independence era situation is different from the post independence era and especially post 1991 reform period India is a completely a different nation in world sphere. Now, India is one of the global economic powers and it is fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity but still struggling to promote rationality among Indian citizens. India, it is evident, is far away from such thinking. Far too many of us, despite degrees in science and technology, despite education and learning, continue to put our faith in seers and pseudo-science like astrology, vasthu, believing black magic’s, tantrics, witchcraft self proclaimed Godmans. There is a practice of consulting astrologers is widely practiced in India, including among the highly-educated middle class and the country’s elite politicians, businessmen and Bollywood celebrities. There are many constitutional provisions to develop scientific temper and secular characteristics among Indian citizens like- Articles 25 to 28 of fundamental rights promoting secularism and One of the Fundamental Duties mandated by the Constitution is ‘to develop a scientific temperament’.

There is a widespread debate in India for promoting the rationality, secularism and freedom of speech and expression after the recent assassinations of rationalists like Kalburgi, Panasare and Dabholkar, who provoked the religious fanatics and sectarian elements in a deeply conservative society. Panasare and Dabholkar are assassinated for raising voice against superstitious beliefs and Kalburgi for his writings against religious beliefs. Often the threat of physical violence is held out against writers and intellectuals by casteist and communal groups, which are quick to take offence at anything that criticizes matters of faith. Dabholkar’s killing prompted the state government Maharahtra to enact the revolutionary ‘Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices, and Black Magic Act, 2013, but it is popular as the anti-superstitions and black magic law.  We have seen a positive nod in the country and the people are now aware of the frauds committed by the fraudulent babas and swamis with number of recent registered cases against Nithyananda , Asaram Bapu ,Sant Rampal, Radahamai etc. Even the state of Karnataka drafted anti-superstition bill, which banned and made punishable wide range of practices like astrological predictions, black magic, witchcraft barring sections of people, including menstruating women, from entering houses of worship or living areas were included in the list of practices to be purged in the draft bill. Draft bill also dealt with the practices and beliefs that are indigenous to Karnataka region creating disharmony in society and promote discrimination like Made Snana (making people roll on leftover food) or the Ajalu system (making people eat human excreta, nails, hair etc, as is done in the case of Koragas, a Dalit community in Udupi and Mangalore districts).It marks the changing attitudes in India toward holy men who enjoy huge popularity and respect, and earn millions of rupees in return for promises of miracles and cures for illnesses.

“Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”-Pope John Paul II

But the matter of concern was the irrational violence promoting against the rationalist thinkers and warnings to other writers and intellectuals who dare to question the established belief systems. Article 25 of the Constitution not only allows the free profession, practice and propagation of a religion of one’s choice, but also an individual’s freedom of conscience. Atheists, agnostics and rationalists have the right to propagate their views on religion as much as believers have the right to spread theirs. What Article 25 guarantees is not a collective religious right but an individual’s freedom of choice. Political mobilization along caste and communal lines gives such groups an enormous veto power, which strikes at the very root of freedom of speech and expression. However, communal and casteist groups have often asserted they have a right not to be offended by any writing or work. Article 19 of Indian constitution provides fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression for every citizen irrespective of caste and creed to every citizen. But we have seen many incidents like Perumal murugan whose writings were came under attack by caste outfits and finally he was forced to take up the extreme step of give up writing. So there is an urgent need to address concerns of writers and rationalists regarding freedom of speech and expression which indirectly helps to promote rationality and scientific temper among the Indian citizens.

There is need for national level act against anti superstitions similar to the lines of Maharashtra which will indulge some kind of rationality in people of India and act as a threat to atrocities and frauds committed by various individuals under the name of god and religion.

Currency Wars

currencywars“University biologists working with infectious viruses have airtight facilities to ensure that the objects of their study do not escape from the laboratory and damage the population at large. Unfortunately, no such safeguards are imposed on economics departments.”

James RickardsCurrency Wars: The Making of the Next Gobal Crisis

Currency wars become a matter of concern in international economy with the recent decision taken by China to devalue its currency yuan by nearly 2% versus dollar, which is the biggest on day fall in two decades. Currency war refers to a situation where a number of nations seek to deliberately depreciate the value of their domestic currencies in order to stimulate their economies. Although currency depreciation or devaluation is a common occurrence in the foreign exchange market, the hallmark of a currency war is the significant number of nations simultaneously engaged in attempts to devalue their currency at the same time. Before understanding the dynamics of currency wars we have to understand the dynamics of exchange rate regimes and their chronological evaluation.

Historical outlook and rise of currency wars:

Brettonwood system of monetary management emerged in late 1950s out of the currency wars raised between the nations, aftermath of World War I. After World War I, Britain owed to the US substantial sums, which Britain could not repay because it had used the funds to support allies such as France during the War; the Allies could not pay back Britain, so Britain could not pay back the US. So Britain and France caught in debt overhang problems followed by stock market crash in US led to a breakdown of the international financial system and a worldwide economic depression. The so-called “beggar thy neighbor” policies that emerged as the crisis continued saw some trading nations using currency devaluations in an attempt to increase their competitiveness (i.e. raise exports and lower imports). In 1931, sterling was taken off the Gold Standard. It was devalued against gold and hence against the ‘gold bloc’ currencies (currencies that remained pegged to gold).  Following the devaluation of sterling, Norway, Sweden and Denmark went off the Gold Standard. The US economy, like other countries of the gold bloc, lost competitiveness and exports turned down. Eventually, it forced devaluation of US dollar against gold. Like US economy, remaining gold bloc countries (France, Germany and some smaller economies) also suffered a loss of competitiveness, poor export and industrial production growth. By 1936, they gave up and abandoned the Gold Standard as well. The devaluations also led to some countries imposing tariffs on imports as means of protectionism. So in 1944 at BrettonWoods system of exchange was evolved, as a result of the collective conventional wisdom favoring a regulated system of fixed exchange rates, indirectly disciplined by a US dollar tied to gold.

But in late 1970’s, negative balance of payments, growing public debt incurred by the Vietnam War and Great Society programs, and monetary inflation by the Federal Reserve caused the dollar to become increasingly overvalued. The drain on US gold reserves culminated with more and more dollars were being printed in Washington, then being pumped overseas, to pay for government expenditure on the military and social programs. In the first six months of 1971, assets for $22 billion fled the U.S. In response, on 15 August 1971, Nixon suspended convertibility of dollar into gold. Unusually, this decision was made without consulting members of the international monetary system or even his own State Department, and was soon dubbed as Nixon Shock. Throughout the fall of 1971, a series of multilateral and bilateral negotiations between the Group of Ten countries took place, seeking to redesign the exchange rate regime. Meeting in December 1971 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the Group of Ten signed the Smithsonian Agreement.

Finally Smithsonian agreement also failed resulting to collapse of Brettonwood and left all the countries to manage their own currency regime either floating or fixed or managed floating with occasional intervention of central bank.

2008 great recession and new era of currency wars:

According to Guido Mantega, the Brazilian Minister for Finance, third global currency war broke out in 2010. This view was echoed by numerous other government officials and financial journalists from around the world. But the stage for financial war game was made more intense by the fact it took place amid the market panic in late 2008 and early ’09. States engaging in possible competitive devaluation since 2010 have used a mix of policy tools, including direct government intervention, the imposition of capital controls, and, indirectly, quantitative easing.

“Regulators and bankers were using the wrong tools and the wrong metrics. Unfortunately, they still are.”

China initially started currency manipulation in which they sell their own currencies in the foreign exchange markets, usually against dollars, to keep their exchange rates weak and the dollar strong. So thereby subsidize their exports and raise the price of their imports, sometimes by as much as 30-40%. They strengthen their international competitive positions, increase their trade surpluses and generate domestic production and employment at the expense of the United States and others. The U.S. trade deficit has been several hundred billion dollars a year higher and it resulted to loss of several million additional jobs during the Great Recession. Currency manipulation is, by far, the world’s most protectionist international economic policy in the 21st century, but the responsible international institutions, neither the International Monetary Fund nor the World Trade Organization, have mounted effective responses. There was no supranational authority to control the uneven devaluations or revaluations of currencies, so it was become easy for the nation states to indulge in currency wars.

After 2008 financial crisis in order to boost their economic growth, US debased currency through Quantative Easing (QE). By using quantitative easing to generate inflation abroad, the United States was increasing the cost structure of almost every major exporting nation and fast-growing emerging economy in the world all at once. That led to the US dollar depreciating vis-a-vis other currencies, including yuan. US once again attained the growth track with recent World Economic Outlook update, the International Monetary Fund projected that the US economy would grow by 3.1% in 2015 and 2016, the fastest growth rate of the G-7.

Japan’s Shinzo Abe devalued the yen to revive the economy, and so did European Central Bank’s Mario Dragh launched a fresh programme of quantitative easing in January 2015, to revive the Eurozone, flooding the market with liquidity. Once again race to the bottom started, with China devaluing the yuan to regain competitiveness and to eke out an economic advantage for its exports. It has set off other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Malaysia to devalue their currencies.

 

Implications for India:

For India, the devaluation could mean “triple whammy” in the form of rise in rupee volatility, exporters facing more competition and China dumping more goods into India. India is already struggling on the domestic front with issues like infrastructure and stalling of key legislations. India and china compete with each other on several export items like textiles, gems and jewellery, a loss in currency competitiveness against the yuan will further hurt its ailing exports.

India’s major export items to China consist of primary commodities with cotton, copper and mineral fuels alone constituting more than 45 per cent of the total exports. Meanwhile, India’s major imports from China are electrical machinery and nuclear appliances (45 per cent of total imports).

Devaluation of yuan results to reduction in cost of Chinese goods and exacerbate the problem of dumping into India from China finally impacting the domestic manufacturers. Tyre makers, steel industry and organic chemicals, petrochemicals industry are already reeling under the increasing dumping cases from China as lower currency incentivizes the country’s exports. India has already huge trade deficit with china and it will further intensify with the situation impacting the current account deficit. Value of rupee will be effected stoking inflation and it will bad for the companies that have dollar denominated loans resulting to decrease foreign flows making stock market unattractive. India imports 80% of its crude oil requirements, and a weaker rupee would mean that our import bill would not fall as much as historically low global oil prices would warrant. This would prompt oil companies to hike petrol and diesel prices. Costlier transport fuel will knock up prices of most goods and stoke inflation.

Higher inflation would mean the central bank will not cut interest rates, ensuring that we have to pay large amounts every month to pay our housing loans. A weaker rupee implies us end up paying more to buy dollars for our foreign education. Likewise, if we were planning an overseas vacation, you had better set aside more money because air tickets, hotel tariffs, shopping and other costs will all go up.

If the yuan continues to lose value, then it might create pressure for the Reserve Bank of India governor to intervene to provide relief for the exporters and cut the key interest rate else the Indian goods would become less competitive.

Similar problems were faced India by during fed tapering following Quantative easing of US. To counter these problems Reserve bank of India has to sell dollars in the market to increase the rupee value at the cost of our foreign exchange reserves. So, developing countries like India, who are prone to hoarding reserves, must address the structural imbalances within their own economies. It will be much easier to do so before a crisis begins than when one begins, because financial markets are prone to “sudden stops”.

Conundrum of Kashmir

381786_Kashmir-disputeKashmir, which is known to be as Switzerland of east and dreamed to be more than that, is now a war torn and most disputed territory of the world with typical complexities. What conditions aggravated to such a situation of Kashmir?. Carefully  observing the chronological events dating back from independence of India, here the sufferers are Kashmiri people and betrayed are the citizens of both Pakistan and India and finally to be blamed are the media and politicians of both the countries.

Jammu and Kashmir which is known for its picturesque lakes and snow covered hilly tracts was ruled by maharaja Harisingh of Dogra Rajput clan at the time of independence. Here the anomaly is Muslim majority princely state ruled by a Hindu king and with sizeable number of Hindu and Buddhist population in Jammu and Ladakh. In 1947 Maharaja Harisingh was in a state of vacillation and finally decide not to join the either of the territories of India and Pakistan. On 15th  August 1947 ,J&K not joined either of the India and Pakistan and offered to sign a standstill agreement with both the countries , which would allow free movement of people and goods across the borders. Here another important person to be mentioned was Sheik Abudallah, who was a postgraduate in science from Aligarh University and started All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference which later became “National conference” including Hindus and Sikhs, giving a shape to the growing opposition towards Maharaja but who finally became the prime minister to Maharaja Harisingh.

 As Maharajas relations with Pakistan deteriorated and Pakistan prepared to send infiltrators to enter to Kashmir in considerable numbers. On 22nd October they crossed the border that separated the North-west frontier provinces from Kashmir with rifles and ammunition supplied from Pakistan and paved their way to the city of Srinagar. It is described by Pakistan as spontaneous rushing of Pathan Muslims to aid co-religionists persecuted by a Hindu king and Hindu administration. In mean while Maharaja signed instrument of accession with India and India send troops to Srinagar. Indian army pushed back the raiders and most of the territory was reclaimed but Still 1/3rd portion of Kashmir was in the hands of raiders. With onset of winter the military operations were stopped and curtain for unending drama was raised with typical behavior of unpredictable twists and turns.

India ie idealistic Nehru with socialistic perspective decided to take the issue to newly born imperialistic dominated United Nations on the issue of Kashmir, which finally became India Pakistan question .Nehru bitterly regretted on taking the issue to UN, which favored the cause Pakistan in new era of global power politics on the lines upcoming capitalist socialist divide. It is a well known fact that, Nehru was a socialist and he declared as such in number of occasions, which make the US dominated UN to lean towards the Pakistan. So it is clear that since independence of India more than 1/3rd  of the Kashmir is under the control of Pakistan ,then what is the need to show the entire Kashmir as a part of Indian map? I am sure that even more than 50% of India literates are in the false illusion that entire Kashmir is under the control of India and even they doesn’t know that there is a territory called as Pak occupied Kashmir(PoK). Then, what is the need injecting false pride of nationalism into Indian citizens on the name of Kashmir even without knowing the suffering of Kashmiri people and not knowing the some important facts related that. Here the people of India are betrayed by our own politicians for their electoral benefits in the name of Kashmir and hatred against Pakistan. This is not only happening in the case of India but the people on the other side of the border ie Pakistan are equally betrayed by their respective politicians.

Then coming to Kashmiris, what they want actually? Is they have any clarity on that? Whether an Independent nation or more autonomy beyond article 370 within democratic India or they want to join the Pakistan? Analyzing the each condition, if they want an independent nation, how long their sovereignty can be sustained between Pakistan and India in a land locked location? Then, if they want to assimilate to the mainstream India for a better development, is that possible with article 370 and by waving the Pakistan flags and anti- India slogans in protests. If they want to join the Pakistan, then on what lines?. Development or Religion? First option can be absolutely strike off because Pakistan matches nowhere with India in any of the fields and no need to prove that by showing statistics because it is a well established fact.

What Pakistan’s ISI tries to achieve by infiltrating mujahedeen’s in to Kashmir? Trying to instabilize India and Kashmir was nothing but a boomerang on their own developmental goals indirectly. Coming to India, if they want to absorb the kashmiris to main stream and make them to feel as Indian citizens, is Armed forces special protection act (AFSPA) an alternative giving draconian powers to Army to harass the kashmiris?

I have a strong opinion that always humanity precedes over nationalism and religion. Nation is formed and nationalism is raised for the sake of humans but not the vice versa. If humanism is at risk which is the basis for prosperity and wellbeing of a nation then there is no point of talking about false pride of nationalism in the mask of political aspirations. If peace to be established and prosperity to prevail in South Asia it can be possible only with upholding humanity and but not with nationalism which will make the things much more complex.

India’s daughter: A story never ends

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Leslee Udwin of BBC had made a documentary on horrific Delhi gang rape incident that occurred on December 16, 2012. The government of India responded quickly by banning the BBC documentary from public viewing and the sole reason given was, it contains repugnant comments made by the convict, blaming the victim for rape and murder. Unfortunately, all this will once again cover the views of typical Indian men towards women.   The other side of the documentary is completed ignored and misdiagnosed by giving prime focus to the response of the convict. Although it is true that, it is not morally and ethically correct to justify the horrific crime by convict without any remorse, blaming the victim and saying that, she would have survived if she not resisted the rape. Measures taken by the government like, banning the documentary, making the changes in the law and amendments to the criminal procedure code does not alone provide the solution for ongoing problem. Documentary was the actual reflection of the “Great” Indian society and culture and acting as the mirror for our attitude towards women. We can see many people around us, sharing similar views and stance taken by the public prosecutor and defence lawyer in the documentary and I am quoting the lines of them

“In our society we never allow the girls to go out of the house after 6.30 in the evening”

“There is no place for the friendship between boy and a girl before marriage in Indian culture”

“Girl is like a sweet and if it is on streets, dogs will come and eat them”

Till to date most of the men believe that women and men are not equal and housework and housekeeping is the work of women. Most of the women are not allowed to work after their marriage restricting them to house.  Similar type of views were expressed by the convict Mukesh and according to me approximately 50 percentage of Indian men use to think like that only. So there is no much difference between the root line thinking of convict and Indian men. The explanation given by the convicts for rape is “they want to teach them a lesson that women are not allowed coming out after 6 pm”. How their attitude towards women is framed? It is the society makes them to develop that kind of attitude towards women. Here people use to accuse the convicts as the monsters but I contradict with their views because the monsters in those convicts are further aggravated by the Indian society.  The documentary asked for impassioned plea for gender equality. According to me, humans included both men and women and the word “HUMAN” with “MAN” only getting prominence in Indian culture and society. As Immanuel Kant said that “A human being should be given respect because just he is a human being” but, Indian society manipulated the term human being as men but not women. The approach to get analyse the discrimination of women in the society can be taken from the socio economic conditions and deeply rooted myths about the women in the Indian culture and society.

Even the discrimination was seen against Indian women during medieval period in the form of sati and it is not new India.  The patriarchal mindset of Indian society initiate from birth of the child with undue preference given to male child, female foeticide and worst sex ratios in the states of Haryana, Punjab etc. As Sheila dixit rightly pointed out the discrimination against the women in the family system like a brother is given more preference than a boy in the family from different aspects like food to education and most of the important decisions in family are taken by the male head. To quote her “sister was given less milk than his brother and everybody in the family thinks he is a boy and he should have more energy than a girl”. Every human is born free and there should be no shackles restricting them but still women in Indian society are with fetters. Freedom for women should be not only in the public sphere but it extended to private sphere by Simone De Beauvoir by stating “personal is political”. Domestic sexual violence and harassment is the another side away from the public sphere where the Indian family system and customs restricting the women to outburst there sufferings. Views of different politicians regarding women by the well known and admired politicians would astonish us.

 “If girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in wrong way” – Haryanya CM khattar

 If we take the socio economic background of all the six victims; they come from extreme deprived conditions without proper education and minimum standard of living conditions. If we take a common criteria among them is – all of them are below poverty line. Crime reflects the socio economic background of the victims. The juvenile convict started working as a child labour from the age 11 for a mere income of 300 rupees for month. The conditions in which they lived provoked them to work for their livelihood. Education and better livelihood conditions can change the beast to altruistic moral human being. So now we have question our self, whom to blame?? Whether the age old great Indian society and culture or the Socio economic and poverty conditions of India or the psyche of convicts??.  If thinking statistically, then 75 percent to the ongoing problem was contributed by the Indian society and socio economic conditions and only 25 percent is contributed by the psyche of convict. First of attitude and approach of Indian society should be changed and there should be a conscious transition from culture of rape and gender violence towards a progressive society with equal place for women in it. This can be achieved with proper education and changing the mentality of men from childhood onwards imbibing them the culture of women at par with men in their mind sets. Without these changes in the thinking of conservative orthodox Indian society towards women- this story never ends.

Where Indian agriculture is heading on

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We all know that Agriculture was the basic structure for a sustained economy, but that conception was slowly replaced by service sector and manufacturing sector too, gets the prominence. According to most of the pro capitalist policymakers thinking, Indian farmer was now more the spine of the country and he slowly losing his ground in Government policy making. But according to me it is nothing but cutting the ground under its own feet and moving to abysmal. Although we are having bumper crops and increased food production but outputs from that, neither reached the farmer nor the 22 percent impoverished Indian citizens. Share of agriculture in Indian GDP for the year 2014 was 13.9% and it decreased from 51% of its share in 1951 but still it provides employment to nearly 54.6% of people. To give more importance to agriculture, 2002 NDA government declared agriculture was the prime moving force for the Indian economy determining its significance. According to Rangarajan, 1 percent growth in agriculture indirectly leads to growth of 0.5 percent in industries and 0.7 percent growth rate to GDP. Agriculture sector is the base for the industrial sector, as 40 percent of industrial output depends on agri based inputs like cotton, sugarcane jute as raw materials.

Moving back to the history, although Indian economy was agrarian based in pre-independence days but we can’t rid by the frequent famines due to lack of policy administration during British Raj. Great Bengal famine of 1942 , which results to death of 2 million people and showed the lacunae’s in Indian agriculture sector. On the lines of Soviet socialist and other capitalist economies, Nehru made Industries as prime moving force of the economy, which is the much debatable issue even today. To prevent food shortages and to promote agriculture, Nehru started investing in various mammoth irrigation projects, called them as temples of modern India and institutionalized, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Commission on agriculture costs and prices (CACP). FCI has functions ranged from procurement, storage and issue of food and later to recommend prices for government procurement of different crops. But still the productivity was less and depended upon foreign aid from US in the form of PL-480 program and imported wheat grains. It relegated the position of India in international arena being labelled as a nation surviving on a “ship-to-mouth basis” and influenced the foreign policy greatly. So there was dire need for self reliance in Indian agriculture and then Prime Minister Lal Bhadur Shastri gave a famous excerpt “Jai Javan Jai Kisan”, came to know the decisive importance of farmer. Thanks to torch bearers like M.S. Swaminathan and then agriculture and food minister C.Subramanium, who gave his wholehearted support for spreading high-yielding varieties on a large scale, together with irrigation water, minerals and fertilizers. Government of India in 1967 introduced high-yielding varieties programme in wheat, rice, maize, jowar and bajra and there was quantum jump in food grains production leading to Green Revolution in India. It is having an enormous impact on Indian economy; wheat production increased by 13 times and cotton, potato production increased by 8 times, improvement in employment opportunities due to 2-3 crops per annum and poverty decreased due to increase in income levels. There exist some kind fundamental flaws in first green revolution as it was confined to few crops like rice, wheat, bajra, jowar and maize and neglecting the remaining crops and restricted to some areas like UP, Punjab, Haryana, AP and Tamilnadu leading to wide spread disparities and regional imbalances leading to income inequalities. It also impacted the ground water tables in states of Punjab and Haryana, increasing the alkalinity of water and making the soil infertile due to over usage of fertilizers.

Coming to current state of affairs, learning the lessons from it, now we are in the stage of second green revolution or evergreen revolution for sustained growth in agriculture like use of bio-pesticides in place of chemical pesticides and extensive research before the usage of genetically modified crops for consumption purposes and their impact in ecology. India achieved bumper crop production and achieved self sufficiency in food grains and physical access with nearly above 200 million tons of grains every year and 57 million tons of buffer stocks. Although India achieved physical access but economical access is still a day dream to nearly 31 million citizens.  It is tight rope walk for every government, as millions of grains rotting in FCI warehouses and millions of Indians suffer from chronic hunger. The critical paradox was India is one of the largest producers of food grains and also home to largest hunger in world. Providing Minimum support price (MSP) to farmers, giving various input subsidies to agriculture like fertilizers, electricity is imperative to make agriculture viable for the farmers. Indirectly MSP’s on selected crops leading to inflation on food prices causing a burden on common man to spend his income mostly on the food and indirectly reducing the consuming capacity, which is having huge impact on the manufacturing sectors. On the government side double subsidies to farmers and subsidies on food securities for alleviating poverty adds further weight to fiscal regime. The main reasons behind all these problems were lack of infrastructural facilities in agriculture sector like warehouses, agro processing units, deeply rooted corruption in FCI and pilferages in public distribution system. Present Modi government try to address some of these problem by forming high level committee on FCI restructuring under Shanta Kumar. Recommendations include replacement of PDS with Direct benefit transfers, Caps on maintenance of buffer stocks and regulations for giving MSP’s etc. Agriculture is the primary sector not only economic terms but it should be given primary importance in policy making too for its upliftment along with manufacturing sector and service sectors. These sectors growth are complimentary towards each other and there is a need for a flagship program in agriculture like “Make in India” and “Digital India” programs.

How my esteem for BJP turned to agony

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In my previous post I came with my views on INC and this time on BJP. In parallel to my puzzles on Congress, I developed some kind of affection towards BJP during my school days without knowingly and personality clout of A.B.Vajpayee has utmost influence on me. In 2004 elections, I literally prayed god for the win of BJP –TDP alliance in Andhra Pradesh and BJP in union, but god listened to the millions of voters in world’s largest democracy. Al though God was not the main agenda for BJP in 2004 elections but he indirectly became the reason for defeat of BJP, on whose name India’s worst pogrom in modern history: Godhra riots  occurred during the BJP regime in Gujarat. At that time, I don’t know the reason behind the defeat of BJP but following BJP party closely for 10 years, I came across to know many facts which astonished me and those may be some of the reasons for its defeat in 2004.

Going back to history, we can trace the origins of BJP from various Hindu religious organizations like Hindu Mahasabha, Ramrajaya Parishad etc. These organizations were formed on the basis of Hindu religious chauvinism and fundamentalism. Later, Rasthriya Swayam Sevak Sangh(RSS) was formed by VD Sarvarkar. Although ideologically similar to Mahasabha, it politically grows much faster than its parent organization. There is no need to explain the present day the relations between RSS and BJP and how RSS was key factor behind the policies of BJP. Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Gandhi, was a RSS volunteer and brain behind the plot was VD sarvarkar, which was proved by kapur commission in 1969. At that time, Vallabhai patel take stiff stance and made RSS expelled from politics. Shyam Prasad Mukharjee, who was the rising star of RSS, came out of the party and established Bharatiya Jana Sangh, which acted as political wing of RSS. After that, they can’t able to sustain in the politics on the basis of Hindu ideology or Akhand Bharat and not performed well in the subsequent elections. Later they merged with Janata dal in 1978 and took part in the formation of Janata government and held two important cabinet portfolio’s, AB Vajpayee as the foreign minister and LK advani as Information and broad casting minister. In 1980 they came out of the janata party and reequipped as Bharatiya Janata party on the basis of socialist ideology but it not yielded fruitful results and won only 2 seats. So once again they started to think on the basis of religious fundamentalism to grab the political power. Adding the fire to fuel was Rama Janmabhoomi issue in Ayodhya and subject was completely politicized by Adavni’s ratha yatra from Ahmedabad to Ayodhya. It spurred the Hindu religious tinge over the entire nation and made them to win 85 seats in 1989 general elections. Still, those seats were not enough to form the government or to play a crucial role in the national level politics. But the flame which was initiated was enough to capture power in states and formed the Government in Uttar Pradesh, where the heart of tussle Ayodhya was present. In a larger scale this time, directly planned to attack the Babri masjid in Ayodhya, which was bone of contention and claimed to be as a Rama janmabhoomi.Thousands of Hindu Nazis (actually they were karasevakas but for me they were no less than Nazis) flooded to ayodhya and BJP’s Kalyan singh government silently watched the tarnishing of Babri masjid ,within in a half day they made it into ruins .That was the day, India lost its secular nature and nearly 5000 people were killed in aftermath communal riots in various parts of the country. Unlike the Ratha yatra of 1989, death of 5000 innocent civilians gave productive results in 1996 elections for BJP and it became single largest party with 161 seats. It formed the government but it was collapsed within 13 days. In 2002 one more black mark in the modern history of India was Godhra riots, which results to death of 2000 naïve civilians. I can’t able to digest the idea, for gaining political power, was the death of that much naïve civilians was an imperative? According to me, present day BJP was raised in Indian politics to this position by stamping on the corpses of Indian citizens. Present Modi’s BJP is extremely double tongued, by effectively using the name of Gandhi in Swachh Bharat and Patel as statue of unity. But still it maintains close relations with RSS and unveiled the portrait of VD Sarvarkar in parliamentary central hall, who was the principal conspirator behind the assassination of Bapu and infuriating various defiant thoughts  against unity and diversity like Love jihad through Sangh leaders.

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(I want proclaim myself as admirer of modi for his foreign policy and his vision for India but  hard core religious fundamentalism inside modi was intact bcoz he even not condemned the various religious statements by sangh leaders with in BJP. )

Story of my Hindu and Muslim friends in facebook

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(This is a fiction created by me. All the characters depicted in this post are not resemblance of any real life persons, if anybody is hurt, I apologizing them initially…..)

There are four facebook friends of mine named Ram, Shyam, Raheem, Javed

Shyam is from most populous state of the country and where birth of lord Rama took place. He wants Rama rajyam or Akhand Bharat (Hindu state) and all Muslims should be thrown away to Pakistan. He criticizes movies like PK and OMG, which questions the existence of unethical superstitions in Hindu religion and believed in love jihad regardless of pure love. His views are like this

“Hinduism is the oldest religion on the earth and has great culture. Muslims are tyrants and ruled the country for many years tyrannically. Now also they are trying to establish their lost glory through love jihad by eloping Hindu girls”

Javeed is from most disputed state of the country, which is completely in state of war for most of the time. He shares updates supporting ISIS, Caliphate and violence on naïve civilians and believed in orthodox religious fundamentalism. His views are

“In a span of 100 years, Muslims conquered half of the the world and islam dominated the world for 800 years. Now Muslims are facing problems all over the world. So it is our responsibility to establish Islamic state as per the Shariah law  by waging jihad ”

Ram is Hindu and Raheem is Muslim and they have utmost respect to their respective religions and at the same time, respect towards other religions too…they share updates and posts on all the Hindu and Muslim festivals equally and participate in them without any objections thinking them as humans before a Hindu or Muslaman. Ram from north India and Raheem from south India. They share common views like

“Humans and their sense are greater than a religion. For them true religion is, god as your father and fellow man as your brother and it is basis for good morals.”

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