Posts Tagged 'us'

Why the decline of the West is best for us – and them

Source: The Economist & McKinsey

Why the decline of the West is best for us – and them

By R Vaidyanathan

R Vaidyanathan is professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and can be contacted at vaidya@iimb.ernet.in. The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organisation.

Ten years ago, America had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. Now it has no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash. Or so the joke goes.
Only, it’s no joke. The line is pretty close to reality in the US. The less said about Europe the better.Both the US and Europe are in decline. I was asked by a business channel in 2008 about recovery in the US. I mentioned 40 quarters and after that I was never invited for another discussion.
Recently, another media person asked me the same question and I answered 80 quarters. He was shocked since he was told some “sprouts” of recovery had been seen in the American economy.
It is important to recognise that the dominance of the West has been there only for last 200-and-odd years. According to Angus Maddison’s pioneering OECD study, India and China had nearly 50 percent of global GDP as late as the 1820s. Hence India and China are not emerging or rising powers. They are retrieving their original position.

The dollar is having a rollercoaster ride at present. Reuters
In 1990, the share of the G-7 in world GDP (on a purchasing power parity basis) was 51 percent and that of emerging markets 36 percent. But in 2011, it is the reverse. So the dominant west is a myth.
Similarly, the crisis. It is a US-Europe crisis and not a global one. The two wars – which were essentially European wars – were made out to be world wars with one English leader commenting that ‘we will fight the Germans to the last Indian’.
In this economic scenario, countries like India are made to feel as if they are in a crisis. Since the West says there’s a crisis, we swallow it hook, line and sinker.
But it isn’t so. At no point of time in the last 20 years has foreign investment – direct and portfolio – exceeded 10 percent of our domestic investment. Our growth is due to our domestic savings which is again predominately household savings. Our housewives require awards for our growth not any western fund manager.
The crisis faced by the West is primarily because it has forgotten a six-letter word called ‘saving’ which, again, is the result of forgetting another six letter word called “family”. The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years. Old age, ill health, single motherhood – everything is the responsibility of the state.
When family is a “burden” and children an “encumbrance,” society goes for a toss. Household savings have been negative in the US for long. The total debt to GDP ratio is as high as 400 percent in many countries, including UK. Not only that, the West is facing a severe demographic crisis. The population of Europe during the First World War was nearly 25 percent and today it is around 11 percent and expected to become 3 percent in another 20 years. Europe will disappear from the world map unless migrants from Africa and Asia take it over.
The demographic crisis impacts the West in other ways. Social security goes for a toss since people are living longer and not many from below contribute to their pensions through taxes. So the nationalisation of families becomes a burden on the state.
European work culture has become worse with even our own Tata complaining about the work ethic of British managers. In France and Italy, the weekend starts on Friday morning itself. The population has become lazy and state-dependent.
In the UK, the situation is worse with drunkenness becoming a common problem. Parents do not have control over children and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation in London said: “There are all signs of arteriosclerosis of a culture and a civilisation grown old. Me has taken precedence over We and pleasure today over viability tomorrow.” (The Times:8 September ).
Married couples make up less than half (45 percent) of all households in the US, say recent data from the Census Bureau. Also there is a huge growth in unmarried couples and single parent families (mostly poor, black women). Society has become dysfunctional or disorganised in the West. The government is trying to be organised.
In India, society is organised and government disorganised. Because of disorganised society in the West the state has to take care of families. The market crash is essentially due to the adoption of a model where there is consumption with borrowings and no savings. How long will Asian savings be able to sustain the western spending binge?
According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal (10 October 2011), nearly half of US households receive government benefits like food stamps, subsidised housing, cash welfare or Medicare or Medicaid (the federal-state health care programmes for the poor) or social security.
The US is also a stock market economy where half the households are investors and they have been hit hard by bank and corporate failures. Even now less than 5 percent of our household financial savings goes to the stock market. Same in China and Japan.
Declining empires are dangerous. They will try to peddle their failed models to us and we will swallow it since colonial genes are very much present here. You will find more Indians heading global corporations since India is a very large market and one way to capture it is to make Indian sepoys work for it.
A declining West is best for the rest and also for the West, which needs to rethink its failed models and rework its priorities. For the rest—like us—the fact that the West has failed will be accepted by us only after some western scholars tell us the same. Till then we will try to imitate them and create more dysfunctional families.
We need to recognise that Big Government and Big Business are twin dangers for average citizens. India faces both and they are two asuras we need to guard against. The Leftists in the National Advisory Council want all families to be nationalised and governed by a Big State and reform marketers of the CII variety want Big Business to flourish under crony capitalism. Beware of the twin evils since both look upon India as a charity house or as a market and not as an ancient civilisation.

Mr Obama, do you have real business to talk with us?

Mr Obama, do you have real business to talk with us?

http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/comment_mr-obama-do-you-have-real-business-to-talk-with-us_1457914

DNA / R Vaidyanathan / Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:10 IST

The next two weeks will be full of atmospherics and inanities linked to the visit of US president Barack Obama. Indians are known to derive satisfaction from symbolism rather than substance. When Diwali was supposedly celebrated by George Bush’s White House — a celebration in which the US president did not participate — we went into raptures. When Rajan Zed of Nevada was called to chant Vedic hymns at a Congressional opening, we were ecstatic. Similarly, when Obama visits India next month, we will drool over Michelle buying Kanjeevaram sarees or Obama savouring a paratha at a Delhi dhaba — or some such meaningless events. There is a move to take Michelle to the Red Light areas of Mumbai to get a feel of “inclusive” growth. Imagine Gursharan Kaur being paraded in Soho in London as part of her itinerary. Sikhs are pleading with Obama to visit the Golden Temple, even if he merely wears a baseball cap to cover his head.

(Comment: Remember our PM requesting Obama’s autograph?)

This is how we barter away our self-respect, even as our civil aviation minister Praful Patel is charged a hefty free (£480) for using the lounge at Heathrow airport. Our high commissioner in London had to hurriedly pay for it. In India, even head clerks and deputy assistant undersecretaries of the Anglo-Saxon establishments command red carpet treatment and free VVIP lounges at airports. When Obama arrives, he is going to come as a wounded tiger from a declining empire. His party of change would, by then, have lost its last dime in the Congressional elections to be held on November 2. He could well end up as a one-term president. When American presidents are hurt at home, they try to show off abroad. Nixon made his China trip when his fortunes were going downhill back home. Clinton did mischief in J&K and Bush in Iraq.

Democratic presidents come across as more sanctimonious humbugs and self-righteous compared to Republicans. The latter just bother about business; the former want to be seen as backing causes like human rights — as long as it is done abroad. What should our agenda be with Obama? First, we should ask him to remove every Indian entity which is on the banned export list of the US. Second, if he even mentions Kashmir, we should request him to carry on to Indonesia — his next stop. We should recognise Bangladesh as the successor country to a united Pakistan because of its size and the number of members in it had in parliament before the break-up. If at all anyone has a say in Kashmir, Bangladesh as the successor entity has a more legitimate case, Obama should be told.

Third, we should insist on the need to split Pakistan into many more countries in the interests of world peace. Pakistan’s army is the world’s terror central and a constant threat to world peace. The David Headley saga reveals that US intelligence and enforcement agencies such as the FBI, CIA and DEA have been infiltrated and compromised by the Pakistani ISI and its creations like the LeT. The billions given to appease Pakistan will not help world peace and it will only increase global terror. Hillary Clinton says her heart is in Pakistan and one wishes her a hale and healthy heart. We should remember that her husband, through Robin Raphael, was instrumental in creating the Hurriyat in the Kashmir Valley.

The fourth point is that India should not bother with the talk-shop called the UN Security Council. It has lost its purpose and role. It helps some Indian government bureaucrats to have untaxed pensions. The only important member is China and we can deal with it directly. Becoming a permanent member of the UNSC is not exactly a big payoff for us. Many UN agencies are a joke. What is one to make of the fact that Saudi Arabia and Libya are on the human rights panels, and Pakistan is heading the International Atomic Energy Agency (no doubt, by rotation), after proliferating nuclear weapons and sponsoring terror.

The fifth point we need to tell Obama is that India will not look at China through the US’s lenses. We will deal with China on our terms. We have no need to play sidekick to the US when it deals with China. A British political leader during World War II is reported to have said that Britain would fight the Germans to the last Indian. We do not want to be in the same situation with regard to US-China conflicts. The sixth point is that any enlarged scope for US companies to do business in India should be linked to India getting unrestricted access to the US markets for onshore and offshore software services, including visas for our professionals. Every additional Coke bottle consumed in India or insurance policy sold should be dependent on how the US puts Pakistan on leash. We need to unashamedly and unequivocally link commerce with US pressure on Pakistan on terrorism.

Declining empires do listen to rising powers if they want market access. We need to ask Obama to address our real concerns instead of getting carried away with all the soft praise he may shower on us. We have to grow up.

Was Election 2009 rigged?

Source: http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/jul/04/was-election-2009-rigged.htm
Was Election 2009 rigged?

A Correspondent in New Delhi

July 04, 2009 10:35 IST
The Election Commission has now officially taken up the investigation of charges of rigging and fraud through the Electronic Voting Machines.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla [Images] is sitting over a major scandal of a possible massive rigging of elections by manipulation of software of the Electronic Voting Machines.

But for the charge levelled by a former Delhi [Images] chief secretary five years senior to him in the Indian Administrative Service cadre, Chawla would have rejected such claims of rigging.

Omesh Saigal, a 1964 batch IAS officer of the Union Territory, stunned him with a presentation to force him to order an inquiry into any possibility of such a rigging.
Chawla is himself a Union Territory cadre IAS of 1969 batch.

Deputy Election Commissioner Balakrishnan has been asked to conduct the inquiry on the basis of a report handed over by Saigal to the CEC, with a software he got developed to show how the elections can be rigged.

Saigal, who is an Indian Institute of Technology alumni, has demanded an urgent check of the programme that runs the EVMs used in elections since 2004.
He demonstrated with his software that its manipulation ensured that one has to just key in a certain code number and that will ensure every fifth vote cast in a particular polling booth goes in favour of a certain candidate.

In his letter to the CEC, Saigal alleged that the software written onto the EVMs has never been checked by the Election Commission ever since these machines were manufactured than 6-7 years back.

His contention is that the EC merely relied on the certificates supplied by the manufacturers, the government-run BEL and ECIL. He alleged that these government firms had subcontracted private parties who actually provided these certificates.

“A public software audit of these machines from time to time, especially after and before an election, was a must to retain the credibility of the elections,” Saigal affirmed, demanding that for the sake of transparency names and ownerships of these private companies must be disclosed, as also the details of the factories where they were actually manufactured.

The records retained in the factories must also be immediately taken over by the EC to prevent any tampering and to facilitate an audit, he said.

He also pointed out how, after nearly two years of deliberation, Germany’s [Images] Supreme Court ruled last March that e-voting was unconstitutional because the average citizen could not be expected to understand the exact steps involved in the recording and tallying of votes. Earlier, Ireland had given up e-voting for similar reasons.

In the United States too, after considerable controversy the Federal Election Commission has come up in 2005 with detailed voting system guidelines which run into more than 400 pages.
Saigal said that it is noteworthy that not a single safeguard mentioned in these guidelines are in place in India.

Saigal said he had gone into all the safeguards built into the e-voting system in India with the help of former colleagues and IT experts and finds it both ‘possible and plausible’ to rig these machines and get a crooked result.

“If the credibility of the electoral process is to be ensured, pre- and post-election checks of the software now fused onto the chips of the EVMs is a must,” Saigal said.

It is not that all the 10 lakh odd machines used in the poll need to be checked. If we take only those booths where one of the candidates has received 75 per cent of the votes and in constituencies where the
margin of the winner is less than 15,000, not more than 7,000-odd machines will need to be checked.

Saigal argued in his report that “if we cannot do this we must revert to the paper ballot.”
“The need for a fair, free and transparent polling system transcends any reasons anyone may have to the contrary,” he added.

Obama ignores ‘secular’ group complaints, promotes Sonal Shah

Obama ignores ‘secular’ group complaints, promotes Sonal Shah
21 Nov 2008, 0329 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Obama_ignores_secularists_protests_promotes_Shah/articleshow/3738975.cms
WASHINGTON: US President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday named Indian – American policy wonk
 
  Sonal Shah as a leader of a key policy working group, ignoring charges from the so-called leftist-secular Indian groups in the U.S about her alleged links with radical Hindu groups.

Shah is one of nine leaders who will head seven Policy Working Groups tasked with ”developing priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration,” the transition team announced on Wednesday.

Shah will co-chair the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform panel along with Julius Genachowski and
Blair Levin.

Other panels, all of which will be headed by a single person, are as follows: Economic: Daniel K. Tarullo,
Education: Linda Darling-Hammond, Energy and Environment: Carol M. Browner, Health Care: Senator Tom Daschle, Immigration: T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar National Security: James B. Steinberg, Dr. Susan E. Rice.

Some of these positions could conceivably lead to appointments in the administration. For instance, Daschle is now strongly tipped to be the health secretary. On Wednesday, the Obama transition team also formally announced several other White House positions, including David Axelrod as Senior Advisor to the President, Lisa Brown as Staff Secretary, Greg Craig as White House Counsel, and Chris Lu as Cabinet Secretary.

In naming Shah to head a policy group, the President-elect has seemingly snubbed Leftist activists in the U.S who loudly protested her inclusion in the Obama transition team last week, ostensibly because of her family’s connections in India to the RSS and the VHP.

Shah responded with a statement that her ”personal politics
 
have nothing in common with the views espoused by VHP, RSS, or any such organization,” and she has always ”condemned any politics of division, of ethnic or religious hatred, of violence and intimidation as a political tool.”

In its press release about the new policy planning panels, the transition team referred to Shah’s work as the co-founder of Indicorps, a U.S.-based non-profit organization offering one-year fellowships Indian-Americans to work on development projects in India, which Leftist groups had viewed suspiciously.

The transition team also cited her work at the Center for American Progress on trade, outsourcing and post conflict issues and the Center for Global Development on development policy issues.

Sonal Shah currently heads Google.org’s global development efforts and is on temporary on leave from that job to help with the transition. Prior to joining Google, she was Vice President at Goldman, Sachs and Co. developing and implementing the firm’s environmental policy.

She also worked at the Department of Treasury from 1995-2002 on various economic issues and regions of the world, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Asian crisis and sub-Saharan Africa, and at the National Security Council
from 1998-1999.