Friday, 31 August 2018

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

If something is functioning properly, it's probably best to just leave it alone and not make any changes that could potentially break it.

The phrase is widely attributed to Thomas Bertram Lance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget during Jimmy Carter's Presidency. Bert Lance believes he can save Uncle Sam billions if he can get the government to adopt the motto,"If it ain't broken, don't fix it!" He explains,"That's the trouble with government: Fixing things that aren't broken and not fixing things that are broken."

It's certainly true that there are sometimes things that don't necessitate replacement, but we often put off replacing or fixing things due to our own complacency, being penny wise and pound foolish. Or by having a cavalier attitude about threats to business continuity by being under the naive assumption that horrible things will never happen to us, they happen to other people instead.

The last time the industry hopped on the clue-train was the Year 2000 problem. Countless IT professionals worked full time for several years in the remediation of software and systems in anticipation of that event. Had the date field correction not been made, transactions on many systems on the morning of January 1, 2000 would have reverted to January 1, 1900. The results would have been catastrophic for infrastructure, banking, and any system that has date dependent transactions. The world-wide cost of the remediation of that bug has been estimated at over $300 billion. IT support during the evening of Dec 31, 1999 were told to stay at work and forgo the usual New Years Eve festivities. On the morning of Jan 1, 2000, nothing happened. Very few systems around the world were affected. The reason why nothing happened is not because the Y2K bug was overblown, but it was because IT was proactive and it did its job. 

Just like Y2K, ignoring Windows XP's end of life is another catastrophe waiting to happen. There's no magic date where systems are going to just blow up. Instead, after security patches and updates for Windows XP ceases, it will be open season for hackers attacks against the OS that cannot be defended against. 

Rupee hits historic low of ₹71 per USD

USD INR breaches life time low of  ₹71
The Indian rupee touched a historic low of ₹71 against the US dollar on Fri Aug 31, 2018, falling 26 paise today, 1.55% during the week and more than 11% year-to-date. It was trading at around 64 to the dollar on same day last year. 

The causes of supporting USD and INR weakening are:
  • Consistent demand for the USD from oil importers.
  • Fall in EM currencies.
  • Rising crude oil prices.
  • Inflationary pressures.
  • Lingering Sino-US trade tensions.
  • Looming US sanctions against Iran's oil exports.
  • Shutdowns in Libya, debt crisis in Venezuela have led to crude oil supply constraints. 
  • India's widening current account deficit.
  • INR is under performing its emerging market (EM) counterparts.
  • US economy reported best performance in last nearly 4 years, showing 4.2% growth. 
  • As the US economy is growing and US Federal Reserve raising interest rates, the demand for dollar has also been increasing.
Rupee is still overvalued and healthy forex reserves may limit the downside of the rupee. RBI may crush speculative longs but it can do little to prevent INR opening weaker on gaps. RBI is unlikely to intervene as the rupee is still overvalued and currencies of EMs are also depreciating. 

Since the present situation that is strengthening USD and weakening INR is likely to continue for some more time, USD-INR rate could touch ₹80 by end of the year. Despite good monsoon, depreciating rupee and its consequences on domestic price rises etc could spell doom for Modi since general elections are just 8 months away and there is very little he could do to contain damages.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Varavara Rao & 4 others arrested - Arbitrary crackdown

Deccan Chronicle | Hyderabad | 29-8-2018
Virasam leader Varavara Rao (77 years), lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested on 28-8-2018 by the Maharashtra Police for their alleged involvement in organising Elgaar Parishad, suspected with Maoist links, earlier this year in Pune. They were arrested under IPC Section 153 (A) and according to the FIR, provocative speeches were made at the event, and these triggered the violence in Bhima Koregaon.
  • The National Human Rights Commission observed that "it appears that the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights."
  • He’s almost 80 years old. I don’t know how he will hold up in prison, said Hemalatha, Varavara Rao’s wife, as she broke into tears.
  • This entire plot is devised to garner Hindutva support. Modi is already losing support and he wants to gather sympathy by stating that a Hindu leader is going to be killed. This Bhima Koregaon, an assertion of Dalits is a barricade to the Hindutva politics, so they want to taint it, said Kurmanath.
  • This is a witch hunt and an attempt to divert attention from the failures of the current government, questions that are being raised about demonetisation, the Rafael deal, and right wing extremism, said historian Ramachandra Guha.
  • The Hyderabad High Court bench of Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy and Justice T Amarnath Goud gave the direction while hearing an urgent plea filed by Hemalatha wife of Varavara Rao. Seeking counters from DGPs of Maharashtra and Telangana, the bench said that it would declare the arrest illegal if their counters did not disclose a valid case against the writer. “If it is found that police did not follow due procedure, we will intervene,” the bench said while adjourning the case to next week. 
  • The Supreme Court today (29-8-2018) said the five people arrested yesterday in connection with the Bhima Koregaon investigation should be kept under house arrest till Sep 6, 2018 - the date of the next hearing in the case.
  • Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don't allow these safety valves, it will burst, said the Supreme Court bench, which comprised Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The recent multi-city crackdown on human rights activists and left-leaning intellectuals and academics is in violation of fundamental rights. It was totally unjust, but sought to be justified on the pretext that they working against the country’s interest. But the fact remains that they championed the cause of the country’s impoverished people. It would be a sad day for Indian democracy when the defense of the weak and vulnerable is treated as a crime.

Demonetisation - Much about nothing - RBI report

The Hindu Businessline | August 30, 2018
The RBI, its annual report released on Wed Aug 28, 2018, has revealed that only  ₹16,050 crore out of the  ₹15,44,000 lakh crore (1.04%) of the scrapped higher denomination notes have not returned back into the banking system and therefore remain missing or unaccounted for. This data has raised questions about the overall gains and the impact on the economy, especially the informal sector, because of the disruption 'Demonetization' has caused. 
  • The Modi government had framed the dramatic announcement as a move to clamp down on corruption and black money, cut off terrorist financing and tackle fake notes. But with almost all the demonetised notes coming back, everyone wonders whether the stated purpose of demonetisation has been served.
  • Modi's hidden objectives of demonetisation were (i) its perceived windfall in terms of an enhanced dividend for the government from the RBI as government expected at least 30% (~₹5,00,000 crores) of cash, black money stacked will not get back into banking system and (ii) disarming opposition parties with all their stacked cash becoming worthless and thus paving his way to win UP elections effortlessly.  
  • The initial narrative by the government was that a large amount of demonetised currency will not find its way back into the system. This purported benefit did not materialise in any significant way. It cannot be said that significant losses have been inflicted upon those holding black money.  
  • The claim that it would lead to an increase in tax collection, nothing can be anything with confidence.
  • During the reporting financial year, 522,783 pieces of counterfeit notes were detected in the banking system, which was 31.4% lower than in the previous year.
  • The cash-based terror and criminal activities may have been disrupted for some time, as did cash-based legitimate activity, it is not clear that there has been any significant disruption.
  • The liquidity surge in the banking system that came about in the aftermath of demonetisation complicated the RBI's conduct of monetary policy.
  • RBI had to introduce many instruments to absorb demonetisation induced liquidity from banks.
  • The increase in CRR dented bank's earnings.
  • The mopping up of liquidity eroded the RBI’s earnings. 
  • RBI's expenditure on printing of currency doubled from the previous year. 
  • RBI's income for the year decreased by 23.56% and its expenditure increased by 107.8% resulting in a sharp decline in the RBI’s surplus.
  • Demonetisation served as a negative shock to the economy. GDP growth in the Jan-Mar 2017 quarter slowed to 6.1%, and to 5.7% in the next quarter (April-June 2017). 
  • A number of small-scale businesses were adversely affected. The unorganised sector especially bore the brunt of the sudden shock. Economic activity shrinkage is over ₹300,000 crores & loss of jobs at over 2 million, this is the worst any PM could do to any nation. 
  • The value of banknotes in circulation increased by 37.7% over the year to ₹18,03,700 crore as at end-March 2018. The volume of banknotes, however, increased by 2.1%.
  • While there no benefits at all (all pain & no gain), the clear lesson is that tax reforms and effective monitoring of suspicious transactions are a better alternative for addressing the stated objectives. 

What India has done to its money is sickening and immoral - Steve Forbes ... In November 2016, India's government perpetrated an unprecedented act that is not only damaging its economy and threatening destitution to countless millions of its already poor citizens but also breathtaking in its immorality. Without any warning India abruptly scrapped 85% of its currency. It claims the move will fight corruption and tax evasion by allegedly flushing out illegal cash, crippling criminal enterprises and terrorists and force-marching India into a digitized credit system. Human nature hasn't changed since we began roaming this planet. People will always find ways to engage in wrongdoing. Terrorists aren't about to quit their evil acts because of a currency change. There's no misunderstanding what this is truly about: attacking your privacy and inflicting more government control over your life. What India has done is commit a massive theft of people's property without even the pretense of due process--a shocking move for a democratically elected government. (One expects such things in places like Venezuela.) Not surprisingly, the government is downplaying the fact that this move will give India a onetime windfall of perhaps tens of billions of dollars. By stealing property, further impoverishing the least fortunate among its population and undermining social trust, thereby poisoning politics and hurting future investment, India has immorally and unnecessarily harmed its people, while setting a dreadful example for the rest of the world. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

WTO and globalisation

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995. Two major changes agreed were: (i)  not to impose import duties in excess of certain agreed rates and (ii) not to manufacture a patented item using alternate process. 
  • The large-scale imports of goods from China taking place at present is a consequence of  provision (i) of the WTO which we willingly accepted.
  • The provision (ii) restricted the growth of our pharmaceutical companies.
  • The drugs invented by MNCs were hitherto produced by our pharma companies using alternate processes and making them available at a fraction of the MNC's price and that freedom was lost.
  • The major benefit expected from WTO was that our farmers will be able to export their produce to the developed countries and get much higher prices. But the developed countries fudged the rules of the WTO and continued to provide subsidies to their farmers and that deprived our farmers ability to export their goods. 
  • Thus the WTO and the globalisation has become largely a losing proposition for us. It has even become a losing proposition for developed countries like USA as well. They find that their jobs are disappearing. 
  • The WTO needs to shape up for the US to stay a part of it, said former Trump trade advisor Dan DiMicco. He further said that WTO has enabled China’s bad behavior and allowed the country to manipulate its currency from 1995 to 2015. Nobody has held them accountable.
  • President Donald Trump told that the WTO has treated the US “very badly". Trump also said "I hope they change their ways. We’re not planning anything now, but if they don’t treat us properly we will be doing something.” Trump told his advisors, “I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the US"
  • India has walked out of the WTO mini-ministerial being held in Geneva in July 2006 to thrash out the thorny agriculture and industrial tariff issues, with the US refusing to agree for wider cuts in farm subsidies. The Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said: "We came here to negotiate, but there is no space for negotiations. We are on 8 to 9% growth. I've come here looking for a trade deal which helps me to reach 10 to 11%. I have not come here to get a trade deal which makes me go to 4 or 5%." 
  • The failure of WTO to move ahead in framing rules for global trade means that globalization is retreating.
  • Our Mughal rulers thought that by allowing the British to trade in India will be beneficial for the country. Similarly, we have agreed and signed the WTO treaty because we thought we would get foreign investments and access to foreign markets for our exports.
  • The globalisation under the Mughal rulers and the WTO are fundamentally similar. In both the cases, we ceded our sovereign rights willingly in the belief that the benefits will be more than the costs. In the former case the benefits to us were less than the costs and that arose Mahatma Gandhi and we retracted from that globalisation. Very much the same is happening with the WTO today.
  • The globalisation succeeds only if it provides more benefits than costs to all the member countries. We can today walk out of the WTO because it is not beneficial to us. People are the ultimate sovereign and no power on earth can take their sovereignty away. The people will rise no matter how strong the forces of globalisation are.
  • The challenge is to inform the people of the benefits and costs of globalisation to make an informed choice to withdraw or not. The worry is that our intellectuals will get coopted and misinform the people of the true costs of present globalisation.
  • Our government should wake up, walk out of WTO and start supporting domestic businesses instead of running after MNCs.

Copying western models and implementing in India without proper groundwork is futile. The more we stay in WTO and globalisation, the more our poor and peasants would lose and suffer. Since the present WTO model can't be modified so easily due to the influence of vested interests like China, the only option India has is that it should walk out of WTO and work in the direction of mutually beneficial bilateral treaties and self-sufficiency.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Gossiping is good

Gossip is casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true. Gossip is also defined as the unsanctioned evaluative talk about people who aren’t present. We all enjoy the pleasures of talking about other people. Word on the street is that gossip is the worst. Gossip was once characterized as “the faceless demon that breaks hearts and ruins careers.” It was described as a “three-pronged tongue” that kills three people: the teller, the listener, and the person being gossiped about. An observation was that “if people really knew what others said about them, there would not be four friends left in the world.” Convincing as these indictments seem, research suggests that gossip may in fact be healthy. 
  • Talking behind other people's backs may not always be nice, but sometimes it can help promote cooperation and self-improvement.
  • Gossip can play the role of protecting others from being exploited by passing on information about bad behavior to warn others.
  • Gossip is a good thing since it is pervasive. Despite its dodgy reputation, only 3-4% is actually malicious.
  • If two people share negative feelings about a third person, they are likely to feel closer to each other than they would if they both felt positively about him or her.
  • We can trade information with third parties about people who aren’t around in order to learn from other people’s experiences.
  • In organizations, management becomes defensively tight lipped at a time of impending crisis. Nature abhors a vacuum and the gossip rushes to fill it.
  • Gossip may even make us better people. Gossip about others made research subjects more reflective. Positive gossip inspired self-improvement efforts, and negative gossip made people prouder of themselves.
  • Many people felt upon hearing a piece of negative gossip, are likely to say they had learned a lesson from it.
  • Negative gossip can also have a pro-social effect on those who are gossiped about. Once people who were ostracized from a group due to reputed selfishness had reformed their ways in an attempt to regain the approval of the people they had alienated.
  • Leaders and politicians have to be reminded that openness costs less than the impact of false stories and the time it takes to rub out the stain they leave. It requires a community of trust for gossip to be good for all of us.
So the next time you are tempted to dish the dirt, fear not. You may actually be promoting cooperation, boosting others’ self-esteem, and performing the essential task of the human family. 

Small people talk about other people, 
mediocre people talk about things and great people talk about ideas.
Gossip is when you hear something you like about someone you don't ... Earl Wilson
Gossip is what no one claims to like, but everybody enjoys ... Joseph Conrad
Women are more skilled than men at making gossip entertaining ... Kate Fox

Although some benefits exist for gossip, it is basically negative trait. But it is part & parcels of the fundamental rights of citizens and can't be accused of any crime. The problem with gossip is that it is based on little facts, fiction or hearsay. That's what makes it fun, but people take it as the truth, turn it around, and throw it in your face. However, it is better to stay away from gossiping as it serves little purpose and ruins our character.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Kerala floods, a man-made disaster

In late July 2018, severe flooding affected Kerala due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. Kerala's worst floods in nearly a century affected all 14 districts placed on high alert. Report as on 21 Aug 2018 ... No. of Villages Affected:776 | Population Affected:54,11,712 | Lives lost: 373 | Missing: 32 | Evacuated:2,80,679 (7,500 in last 24 Hrs) | Relief Camps:5,645 | Inmates in Relief Camps: 12,47,496The flooding has affected hundreds of villages, destroyed about 10,000 km of roads and thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed. The total loss is estimated at about ₹20,000 crores.
  • The rainfall on Aug 8, 2018 was 310 mm. Kerala has 41 rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea, and 80 of its dams are now said to be open after being overwhelmed.
  • The overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened after a gap of 26 years. For the first time in history all five overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened. For the first time in the state's history, 35 of its 42 dams have been opened, flooding local low-lying areas.
  • Around 42 teams from the Indian Army and the Navy, along with over 20 helicopters and hundreds of boats, were involved in rescue operations across the state. The Coast Guard is working in 28 locations and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed 39 teams so far. The NDRF has rescued over 4,000 people, while the Navy has rescued 550. 
  • As all the districts in the state have been affected by flood, there have been demands to declare it a "national calamity" but the centre has declared the floods a “calamity of severe nature.”
  • Heavy rains have caused severe landslides and have left the hilly districts isolated. Between June 1, 2018 and August 17, 2018, Kerala received 2226 mm rain fall against normal of 1620 mm i.e. 41% excess.
  • Kerala state government has sought a special package of ₹2,600 crore for relief and rehabilitation. While HM Rajnath Singh has announced immediate relief of ₹100 crores during his aerial survey, PM Modi in his aerial survey has announced additional ₹500 crores. Very meager by any standards.
  • UAE, where thousands of expatriates from Kerala work, has promised assistance to ₹700 crore, which is rejected by centre citing UPA policy of 2004. The Thailand’s offer of assistance and aid was also rejected. This international disaster relief policy is only limited to foreign governments with conditional aids. Since 2004, India has refused relief aid from Russia, United States and Japan for disasters across Uttarakhand and Kashmir.
  • On August 15, Cochin International Airport, India's fourth busiest airport suspended all operations until 26 August, following runway flooding.
  • Over 80% of the state has been cut off from power supply. Schools in all 14 districts of Kerala have been closed and some districts have banned tourists, citing safety concerns.
  • More than 300 boats are also involved in rescue operations.
  • Life and general insurance companies expect deluge of claims of about ₹500 crores, it is less than 3% of the total loss.
  • Insurers are also expect big claim for Kochi airport, which has an insurance cover of ₹2,500 crore. (Claims from the 2015 Chennai floods were over ₹5,000 crore, followed by the Mumbai floods of 2005 over ₹4,000 crore and the J&K and Uttarakhand floods, at about ₹2,000 crore each).
  • The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also known as the Gadgil Committee, headed by Madhav Gadgil, had suggested that 140,000 kilometres of the Western Ghats be classified in three zones and recommended strong restrictions on mining, quarrying, use of land for non forest purposes, construction of high rises etc. The report submitted in 2011 was rejected by the Kerala government and none of its recommendations were adopted. Madhav Gadgil says that the recent floods and landslides in Kerala was a "man-made calamity" and irresponsible environmental policy is to be blamed for. 
  • There were allegations that the shutters of 34 dams were opened in one go. The unplanned opening of sluice gates of the several dams caused most submergence. CM Vijayan stated that Idamalayar and Idukki dams were opened after proper inspection and deliberation with officials. Vijayan said “Nobody could’ve foreseen this but still warnings were given and evacuations were done, but torrential rains were beyond any control."
  • Kesari, a weekly affiliated with RSS published an editorial on its website criticising the central government appeared to be acting vengefully towards Kerala and was not responding with the political decency shown by Vijayan. Later it was taken off claiming its website was hacked.
  • Kerala's flood relief fund drive is getting overwhelming response from all kind hearts across the world and donations have crossed ₹309 Crore on Aug 22, 2018.
  • As people left camps, many found mud and slush up to six feet level in front of their houses. All possessions have been lost, and people have to start afresh in obtaining their books, certificates, Aadhaar card, ration card etc. More important is the drinking water, electricity supply, managing contagious diseases etc.

There is no question that Kerala floods was a man-made disaster and is a result of ecological destruction and lack of protocols and weather forecasting algorithms to manage this type of calamities. While its occurrence could not have been avoided, its impact on life & properties could have been contained. Modi government rejecting unconditional cash aid of ₹700 crores from UAE & significant aid from Thailand willingness and granting meager amounts for relief operations has sent a very wrong message to the people of opposition ruled states. Modi has violated most of the UPA policies and why he preferred to follow this particular policy remains unexplained. For Visakhapatnam 2014 Hudhud cyclone damages, Modi announced ₹1000 crores aid but paid only ₹750 crores. During 2017 Bihar floods, against a request for ₹7,600 crore, the Centre had given ₹1700 crore, including the ₹500 crore initial relief given to the state. Keeping aside Centre-State politics, the government should gracefully accept the assistance for Kerala and junk the 2004 policy or precedent.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Turkey's woes today

Turkey's currency, the lira, has hit record lows, creating a headache for the country's president and pushing up prices on everyday items. Although the exact cause is, of course, hard to say, tourism bookings to Turkey have gone up in recent months. Holiday company Thomas Cook has seen a 63% rise in bookings to Turkey.
  • On Fri Aug 10, 2018, the US dollar would buy almost six Turkish lira; at the end of January, it would have got you less than four. The Turkey's currency Lira, has lost more than 34% of its value against the US dollar.
  • The stock market has also fallen 17%.
  • Government borrowing costs have risen to 18% a year.
  • Inflation in Turkey has hit 15%.

The causes are:
  • Investors are worried that Turkish companies that borrowed heavily to profit from a construction boom will struggle to repay loans in dollars and euros, as the weakened lira means there is now more to pay back.
  • Turkey's worsening relations with Trump administration with sanctions due to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has has been held for nearly two years over alleged links to political groups.
  • On Fri Aug 10, 2018, the US dealt Turkey and the lira a further blow when Trump said he had approved the doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium.

These problems were compounded by a political set-up which is unconducive to proper economic management. Much of the recent concern has been fueled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policy. Flustered by the current situation, President Erdogan urged supporters not to worry, saying that while overseas investors had dollars, Turks had Allah. Meanwhile, UK Foreign Office recommends against all but essential travel to a number of regions and says not to travel within 10 km of the Syrian border at all, due to the ongoing Syrian war. The US rates Turkey at level three, urging people to reconsider travel to the region.

Although far better, India's direction is Turkish way. Today INR stands eroded by 16% against USD in the past 2 years. In 2018, INR lost 8% value against USD. Our FE reserves is looking southwards. Trade deficit increasing due to reckless import of non-essential items from China. Exports stagnating, inflation above 5% are other negatives. Flight of dollars is due to Fed Reserve increasing interest rates indicates our vulnerability. Increasing oil prices suggest that INR will remain under pressure for many more quarters. Unfortunately, our government doesn't have any plans to resurrect while preferring to be in observing mode perennially. 

Monday, 20 August 2018

No amount of forex reserves is ever adequate

In April 2018, India's foreign exchange reserves had hit a life-time high of $425 billion. Things have changed since then. The forex reserves have been falling by about $2 billion a week for seven weeks and present balance is under $400 billion. But government maintain that there's no reason to panic. Falling reserves are a result of RBI's intervention to arrest the slide of the rupee, which has depreciated around 8% in this year (16% in the past 2 years). On Aug 17, 2018 USD/INR touched 70-mark and analysts predict it may touch even 80. Widening trade deficit, sluggish export growth could put further pressure on the country’s forex reserves. 
  • Our CAD worsened from $15 billion in 2016-17 to $49 billion in 2017-18. Higher oil prices were only partly to blame. Exports struggled, while we guzzled smartphones and gold. Our FDI/FII flows flipped from an inflow of $21 billion in FY17 to an outflow of $19 billion in FY18.
  • The Centre’s response to the rupee weakness was nonchalant. RBI was mum and FM tweets that India’s FE reserves are comfortable, going by global standards and sufficient to mitigate any undue volatility in the FE market.
  • Although India's FE reserves are better than many emerging economies, we should remember that no amount of forex reserves is ever adequate and it might not be right to feel complacent about the country’s FE reserves.
  • Given that the country’s widening trade deficit, sluggish export growth and growing imports — our FE reserves are likely to be under pressure in the coming quarters. It is therefore better to acknowledge the challenges and think about corrective actions, rather than be in denial.
  • After the 2013 crisis, the RBI has been careful about building its forex reserves. Reserves had increased from $275 billion in Sep 2013 to the life-time high of $426 billion in April 2018. Apart from low oil prices & higher NRI remittances, strong inflows from FII's/FPI's and FDI's helped to a large extent in shoring up reserves.
  • But this support is likely to be withdrawn in the coming quarters.
  • FDIs had been robust in the first two years of NDA rule, growing at 25% and 23% in FY15 and FY16 as PM Modi reached out to overseas investors to fund the country’s growth. But the momentum has slowed down since then with the FDI inflows growing 8% in FY17 and at an even slower pace of 3% in FY18.
  • FII's have withdrawn ₹15,771 crore from the equity market for far in FY19 while the outflows from debt segment has been ₹35,449 crore. (In FY18, there were inflows of ₹1,44,682 crore in equity and debt markets).
  • In addition between April and June 2018, RBI sold off $14 billion to stave off depreciating rupee. It is therefore not surprising that the reserves are down 10% their peak level recorded in April 2018.
  • The Federal Reserve began shrinking its balance sheet since Oct 2017. This is reducing liquidity in global markets, the rate hikes from the Fed are making the cost of financing expensive. It is therefore not surprising that global investors are reducing their investments in emerging markets including India.
  • The IMF estimates that the Fed’s tightening can result in reducing flows into emerging markets by $35 billion a year. The world is moving from a period of easy money to one were liquidity becomes tighter and funds become more expensive.
  • With Federal Reserve and Bank of England hiking interest rates, the cost of refinancing the loans will become difficult, leading to repayment of some of these loans, causing forex outgo.
There are no easy fixes to this problem. The measures taken to improve the ease of doing business and GST are likely to improve FDI flows in the long term. The government needs to renew the efforts to boost exports, reduce dependence on imports in order to ensure a sustained improvement in the country’s reserves.

Rupee is expected to remain under pressure in the near future due to rising oil prices, global trade wars, tightening of global liquidity and a strong dollar. When USD/INR touched 70, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said that India’s foreign exchange reserves are comfortable by global standards and sufficient to mitigate any undue volatility in the foreign exchange market. He is only monitoring and reassuring but not indicating any corrective steps. By not improving our exports and reduce dependence on imports, during the past 4 years of low oil price regime, we have squandered away the opportunity to consolidate our economy. Now we can only look eastwards and pray God to help us.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

The 1908 Hyderabad flood

The OU Women’s College, during Musi floods of September 28, 1908
Around 110 years ago on September 26, 1908, it began to rain in the surrounding areas of Hyderabad as a result of a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. Over the next 48 hours, the downpour continued in the Musi river basin logging 98.57 cm rainfall. Of the 788 tanks and lakes in the river basin, 221 breached due to the cloudburst. At 11 a.m. on September 28, an estimated 4,25,000 cusecs of water raced through the city swirling and sweeping away over 19,000 homes, and killing about 15,000 people.

SC Judges press conference - Reactions

Four senior Supreme Court (SC) judges today called an unprecedented press conference on Jan 11, 2018 acknowledged that what they were doing - in speaking to the media - was highly unusual. "This is an extraordinary event and it is with no pleasure we are doing this...We are left with no choice but to address the nation," said Justice Chelameswar. 

Here are the reactions of eminent people have to say about that: 
  • It is appalling. How can you administer Supreme Court by press conference. Are you going to hold a referendum and ask people what is right and wrong  ... Justice R.S. Sodhi
  • This trade unionism is wrong. Democracy in danger is not for them to say, we have parliament, courts, police functioning. Issues don't matter. It is their complaint on administrative matter. They are only 4, there are 23 others. 4 get together and show the Chief Justice in a poor light. It is immature and childish behavior. I think all 4 judges should be Supreme Court judges' should be impeached, they have no business to sit there and deliver verdicts anymore ... Justice R.S. Sodhi
  • The judiciary is the sanctuary of the common man. This kind of a situation will trigger doubts about the institution and this should not have happened ... Former CJI K G Balakrishnan
  • This is a black day for the judiciary. Today's press conference would cause a bad precedent. From now on every common man could look at all judicial order with suspicion. Every judgement will be questioned ... Ujjwal Nikam, senior lawyer
  • Even our editorial view was that it is one of the stupidest shots fired, because it was not going to go anywhere ... Sekhar Gupta, NDTV
  • I have never come across something so demeaning as this. There are certain things that can’t be done. You either wait till the chief justice retires or you go away, that is all. These four judges erred in going public. We are not concerned with their frustration. We are concerned with the Supreme Court. We are concerned with the institution. Of the roster, he is the master. The five (collegium) are important only for one reason. All judges should be treated the same. CJI became a leader because of the constitutional convention that the senior-most judge should become chief justice. If you want to impeach a judge, impeach him on proper grounds. You have to shoot to kill. If you shoot to hurt it will not hurt a man or woman but the institution ... FS Nariman Eminent jurist and senior advocate
  • I’m very upset about this, I wish the four Supreme Court judges hadn’t done this. This will have severe repercussions on judiciary ... Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney-General of India
  • I feel very sad about it. I am sure they (the four judges) are hurt with many things which ought not to have happened. But for heaven’s sake, what they did was wrong. I don’t think this damage can ever be repaired ... N Santosh Hegde, former Solicitor General
  • The following SC Bench passed judgement on him saying “We are of the unanimous opinion that Justice C S Karnan has committed contempt of this court, of the judiciary and also the judicial process.” SC Bench Inlcuded: CJI Khehar, Justice P C Ghose, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph. Sanctity of SC of India was very well protected by the Hon. Judges in this case. But it does not seem to protect it in the case of this press conference  ... An observer in social media
  • Justice Arun Mishra of the Supreme Court, who was allegedly targeted after the controversial press conference by four senior most judges, took serious exception to the tarnishing of his image. At the customary morning tea meeting where the press conference came up for discussion, Justice Arun Mishra expressed his strong views against the developments. Justice Arun Mishra in an emotional outburst said, “The only thing I have earned in my life is reputation and you have tried to attack it... How do you propose to give it back to me? You should have killed me with a bullet rather than attacking my reputation.”
  • This is a small court… we are small people... junior judge. Are you sure you want us to hear your case? ...  Justice Arun Mishra asked a lawyer while hearing a case
  • Why is so much crowd here? I am a junior judge. Why don't people go to some senior judges' court? ...  Justice Arun Mishra, asked some advocates in Court No. 10
  • We can't criticize them, they are men of great integrity and have sacrificed a lot of their legal career, where they could've made money as senior counsels. We must respect them. The PM must ensure that the 4 judges and the CJI, in fact, the whole SC come to one opinion and proceed further ... Subramanian Swamy, BJP MP
  • Deeply sad and pained, also feel a sense of agony that the highest court of the land should come under such severe stress that forces judges to address the media ... Salman Khurshid, senior advocate and Congress leader
  • It is certainly a very serious development which has cast a huge shadow on the Chief Justice. Somebody had to confront the situation, where CJI is blatantly misusing his powers, hence the unprecedented step (by the 4 judges) ... Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and politician
  • I am sure they (four judges) have exhausted all other remedies. One could see pain on their faces while they were speaking. The whole matter is with respect to judicial propriety. The question is of natural justice. Whatever is the law for common man, it is applied much more rigorously as far as judges are concerned because they must always be above suspicion ... KTS Tulsi, Senior lawyer 
  • I Feel very disturbed over the issue. This should not have happened, but it has and there might be strong reasons for them. Consequence would be it would create apprehensions in the minds of the people ... AK Ganguly, retired judge
  • I think it's a historic Press Conference. It was very well done. I think we, the people of India, have a right to know what is going on within the judiciary and I welcome this ... Indira Jaising, Supreme Court advocate
  • Absolutely unprecedented, the press conference of the four senior judges of supreme court. Most important take away ‘when national interest is at stake ordinary rules of business do not apply' ...  Yashwant Sinha, BJP leader 

Ever since independence, democracy was constantly in danger in India. Judges appointment was neither based on any merit nor transparent. Earlier it was 'to become judge you should know the law minister' and these days it is 'to become judge you should know collegium member'. Delhi HC retired judge RS Sodhi rightly said, "I think all four judges should be impeached. They have no business to sit there and deliver verdicts anymore. This trade unionism is wrong. Democracy in danger is not for them to say. We have parliament, courts, police functioning". It is sad to note that our learned top 4 SC Judges did the right thing in a wrong way! They proved themselves unworthy of the positions they are holding. If they were serious about what they were talking, they should have simply resigned and then did what ever they wanted to do. The actions of these 4 SC Judges were applauded by Media and common citizens but almost all legal fraternity admonished this.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Imran Khan inherits bankrupt Pakistan

Pakistan is grappling with a big economic crisis. The State Bank of Pakistan has only about $10 billion of foreign exchange reserves, enough to fund two months importsPakistan runs a serious risk of defaulting on its payments. The situation poses a challenge to Pakistan’s prime minister-elect Imran Khan who will be sworn in today, August 18, 2018. 
  • Pakistan's current account deficit has grown four times in just two years. It touched $18 billion in FY18, up 42.5% over the previous fiscal year. Two years ago, it was at $4.876 billion, rising to $12.621 billion the following year. 
  • The import bill ballooned mainly due to higher oil prices and imports from China which is building several infrastructure projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor programme. 
  • There was a marginal increase in exports which are mainly textiles. Pakistan has devalued its rupee four times since December with an aim to make its exports cheaper. 
  • The previous Nawaz Sharif government failed to take advantage of low oil prices to build foreign reserves. Corrupt regimes, faulty economic policies and low tax revenues have brought Pakistani economy to the brink. 
  • But the only option visible to Pakistan is to go for IMF loan. Pakistan has borrowed from IMF several times since 1980. Though the total financing gap for the current fiscal is at around $12 billion, Pakistan may not get more than $9 billion from IMF according to its maximum quota. For the IMF bailout, it needs support of several countries, including the US which has warned the IMF against helping Pakistan as the country could use the IMF money to repay its China debt.
  • Even if IMF extends help to Pakistan, it will come with conditions like devaluation of the currency, disinvestment in loss-making PSUs, hiking electricity rates and cutting agricultural subsidies which will jeopardise Imran Khan's new government as well as hit economic growth. 
  • Imran Khan has announced that he would run an "Islamic welfare state" hinting at higher public spending. So far, IMF has not made any promise to bail out Pakistan, nor has Pakistan asked for a bailout.
  • Pakistan can also seek Saudi Arabia's help, which can only defer oil payments. 
  • Pakistan can borrow from its all-weather friend China which would mean a higher debt burden. Chinese debt is already a worry for Pakistan. China has lent Pakistan $1 billion in June and total lending to Pakistan in this fiscal year exceeded $5 billion. 
The new Imran Khan government faces a tough task of turning around the economy. Khan needs to bring in economic reforms, restrict government spending and imports, try to increase tax revenues and increase exports. 

In April 2018, India's foreign exchange reserves had hit a life-time high of $425 billion. Things have changed since then. The forex reserves have been falling by about $2 billion a week for seven weeks and present balance is under $400 billion. But government maintain that there's no reason to panic. Falling reserves are a result of RBI's intervention to arrest the slide of the rupee, which has depreciated around 8% in this year (16% in the past 2 years). Rupee slide against USD is the worst among the Asian currencies. No amount of reserves is ever adequate. China's reserves also fell by $14 billion in one month to $3,111 billion. Rupee is expected to remain under pressure in the near future due to rising oil prices, global trade wars, tightening of global liquidity and a strong dollar. On Aug 17, 2018 USD/INR touched 70-mark and likely to touch the 72-mark soon. 

Why NDA lost in 2004?

The Congress-UPA has just won 26.7% of popular vote people's mandate while BJP-NDA has won 22.16% only. Congress became the most voted party in this elections with a vote share that was 5% more than BJP. While UPA won 145 seats (gain of 31 seats), NDA won only 138 seats(loss of 44 seats). Although it is not a clear victory for Congress-UPA, it is a clear defeat for BJP-NDA. Here are the core reasons for the BJP-NDA's defeat. 
  • NDA projected the election as the battle between Vajapayee and Sonia, and Sonia won and Vajapayee lost.
  • NDA fell because of their own weight, own sins and Vajpayee's visionless leadership. 
  • Old men are supposed to lose their marbles and AB Vajpayee seems to have lost the same. 
  • Media singing songs of Vajpayee's greatness harmed NDA. 
  • The media created a hype that Vajpayee is the greatest Indian leader, who could do no wrong and people didn't find any substance in that.
  • NDA created an illusion that Vajpayee is the greatest PM, but people of India saw this old man, who never said a word or gave any opinion on any issue and remained silent through out his prime ministership and never took any crucial decision or reigned any of his colleague or Parivar people.
  • People saw Vajpayee was old, forgetful and incompetent to solve India's problems while in Sonia Gandhi they saw a fresh face with purpose.
  • The middle-class lost their hard-earned money in the UTI scandal.
  • Large rural population's welfare has been over looked. 
  • Unemployment and anti-poor stance. 
  • Over-indulgence on trivial Hindutva issue.
  • NDA reduced interest rates and impacted the voters honest savings. 
  • The Tehelka reporters who exposed corruption were harassed.
  • Concentrating to impress world nations and criminal negligence of the people's problems.
  • Inaction on Gujarat CM Modi for not catching either Godhra train massacre culprits or Gujarat communal riots culprits that killed 2000 Muslims.
  • After the horrendous massacre, Muslims were expecting that the Gujarat CM Narendra Modi will be put to trial, but instead he was awarded 127/182 seats (2/3rd majority) in mid term polls immediately after the riots with a gain of 10 seats.
  • Gross miscalculation of NDA and their misreading of the 'pulse ' of the people.
  • Impressive orations, debates and arguments like in court rooms than performance.
  • BJP went overboard with the “India Shining” campaign which offended the rural & urban poor. Sonia Gandhi used the opportunity to mock at this campaign by pointing out India’s poverty.
  • Anti-incumbancy factor.
  • NDA allies too fared very badly - TDP(5/42) in AP & AIADMK(0/39) in Tamilnadu suffered humiliating defeats.
  • BJP criticised congress and Sukhram.  Congress expelled Sukhram and in the next election Sukhram becomes an ally of BJP. BJP ought to be more ethical.
  • Never in the history India witnessed such a low level malicious campaign by the ruling party. 
  • BJP belived that insulting people is Hindu dharma, that's the price they have paid for. That's one of the main aspects in BJP debacle.
  • BJPs failure to control Modi and his uncultured tirade against Sonia Gandhi.
  • The consistent "Sonia Bashing" by BJP and it's top leaders, the larger than real life images and speeches by the so called second rung leaders of BJP ... Mahajan, Jaitley etc. and Rabble-rousing by Katyar, Modi, Uma bharati etc. have all had negative effects.
  • Over-usage of the tasteless word "pseudo-secularism". It was flogged to death. Watching the arrogant BJP men debating on TV in the last two years.
  • Corruption as exposed by Tehelka, Petrol-pump, coffin-gate by George Fernandes, etc. had its effect.
  • Towards the end of this campaign, the BJP even openly begged Muslims for votes, thereby upsetting lakhs of its conventional supporters.

It has become fashion to interpret defeats with figures and statistics. It is very easy to come up with statistics and 'spin' the results any way you want but the reality is that the voting population preferred the Congress and their allies much more to the BJP and its allies. If anyone feels that it was not a mandate for Congress since they did not get majority of votes, it is just a joke. It might have been local issues that have brought the Congress to power and the people had no clue that they were sending Vajpayee packing who never deserved such a drubbing. Indian mentality will not allow appreciate a sacrifice and we always attribute some ulterior motive to every one. Even Mahatma Gandhi had serious critics at his time. No one wants to acknowledge Sonia Gandhi's sacrifice. If Sonia Gandhi wanted to become prime minister, nobody could have stopped her even if it was for one month and go down in history. If any one tries to find out for reasons why BJP should have won in 2004, he would have been amused with none. Vajpayee's inaction against Modi-Gujarat riots and ignoring poor and peasants are the primary causes for NDA's debacle in 2004. Today in 2018 similar situations are prevailing that is causing jitters among BJP, Modi & co., who are clueless how to come overcome this mess they created for themselves.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Improve your marriage

Every marriage has its ups and downs. Conflict is a normal, even healthy, part of any relationship. What’s important is how you handle it. The rules for marriage are simple. No sudden moves, don’t crowd the other person, and keep all disastrous thoughts to yourself. Misery is the secret of happiness in marriage. Go make yourself miserable, and then come home. 
  • Positive thinking can transform your life and your marriage immediately. Having a positive attitude can take practice, but the contagiousness of positivity can save your marriage.
  • Positive thinking can reduce stress levels and may increase lifespan, improve cardiovascular health, lower depression levels, and even cut down on the common cold. 
  • It’s basically impossible to be positive 100% of the time. But being mindful of your attitude is the key to making positivity an outlook you can attempt on the hardest of days.
  • Showing gratitude and appreciating spouse is a great way to truly see all the things that they do for you. 
  • The happier you feel, the happier your relationship will be, and the easier it will be to manage conflicts.
  • Few people know your spouse as well as you do, so he or she will undoubtedly appreciate the power of your full attention. 
  • Stopping to listen to your partner is a luxury you don’t have. Before you speak, take a minute to listen and empathize. Stop and listen to what your partner is saying. Showing empathy can improve communication.
  • Steer clear of criticism, confrontation and hostility. Avoid verbalising critical thoughts, keep discussions from escalating, and don’t use absolutes. If a fight does start, try to change the subject, inject gentle humor, empathize or show your partner extra appreciation. Walk away and cool off for a while.
  • If you find yourself in the middle of a heated argument, take 10 minutes to calm down and reconvene when the stress has left the room. Go for a walk, listen to a couple of your favorite songs, or agree to take a break together to put your disagreement aside. When you’ve both relaxed, you’ll be able to come back at your discussion with a fresh perspective.
  • It’s tempting to blame your partner when you feel angry, disappointed, bored, betrayed or stressed out about your relationship. The next wrong step is expecting your mate as the one who must change for the relationship to improve. Change yourself. When you address your own flaws and seek the best in your companion, magic happens. Optimism increases. And you both feel motivated to change in ways that lead to even more joy.
  • We get caught up in the daily chores and we feel like we don’t have time to have hobbies. May be you have hobbies, but they don’t involve your spouse. Put an activity on the calendar you can both look forward to. There are countless hobbies or vacation that you can start together that take very little time or money, but can strengthen your marriage considerably. 
  • If you haven’t had a vacation in a very long time, plan a trip - even a one-night getaway counts. The much-needed time away from home can be refreshing and rejuvenating. 
  • Here are little ways to make your spouse feel loved. Sit down and reminisce the photo albums of some of your favorite moments together. Revisiting some of your old wonderful experience to share and will bring about new memories for your long, happy future together.
  • Be sure that compliments and thank yous are heartfelt and specific, and make eye contact when you smile. Speak less and listen more.

The couple that plays together stays together.
Marriage is not a contest; Never keep score.
In marriages, there are neither guarantees nor rules.

Adultery and its consequences

Adultery is one of the worst things that can happen to a marriage and demolishes everything you’ve built with your partner in such a personal way. Infidelity can feel like a death of trust, the death of affection, the death of all the work you’ve done in your marriage. The fatal blow to any marriage is an adulterous affair where one or both spouses think they finally found their soul mate. Once convinced that he or she married the wrong person, the idea of divorce can take root and grow. Blinded by the deception of the affair, most people have no idea how they got there, and don’t know how to get out. There’s no doubt that adultery affects marriages in the worst way. 
  • Cheating is one of the easiest ways to damage a relationship. It shatters trust.
  • Guilt and shame are big components of adultery for both who cheat and for the wounded spouse.
  • When infidelity is discovered in a marriage, it is a black mark, embarrassment and shame for the cheating spouse and even  more for the wounded spouse.
  • The wounded spouse wants to shrink, wants to hide and indeed feels as if he or she is tainted. The persistent negative thoughts can make life constricted.
  • A fatal consequence of adultery is broken trust and loss of intimacy. An entangled affair is always the result of an intimacy deficit in the marital relationship. 
  • Part of the lure of the affair for an unfaithful spouse was the opportunity to be himself or herself. They desperately needed that freedom to be themselves, to be accepted and appreciated. 
  • Cheating may not always end in divorce but it can have a devastating impact. About 60% of men and 40% has extramarital affair at some point during their married life. The depth of betrayal and emotional pain that often leads to divorce after infidelity. 
  • Negative emotions are hard to put behind but will eventually fade and life will become normal again. For that to happen, you need to divorce and that is exactly how most people deal with infidelity in their marriages.
  • Infidelity is lonely and isolating. If you’re unfaithful, you don’t want to tell anyone for fear of being labeled bad. If you’ve been betrayed you also don’t want to tell anyone for fear of the pity or the sense of shame and the unsolicited advice. 
  • It’s also hard to find a safe place or group of people you can talk to and not be told what you should do or how you should feel.
  • On top of the dangers of being exposed to different sexually transmitted diseases when a partner cheats can occur.
  • Being cheated on can make you feel awful, but also ill. Infidelity can lead to illness. Infidelity can develop mental illness and can also have consequences for a person’s physical health.
  • The discovery of a partner’s infidelity can be a psychologically traumatic and can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and even flashbacks to the discovery. 
  • Adultery may mean that you have to start all over again within or outside of the marriage. After years of marriage, discovering the affair can destroy you. Friends may disappear that leads you to isolation. It feels like everything you’ve worked hard for is destroyed. 
  • Even if you choose to stay together, it will never be the same again. The pain gets less intense but the mind never seems to rest. Somewhere inside you have to find renewed strength to begin to redefine yourself all over again. 
Cheating can collapse even the strongest bonds and is especially dangerous because it has the power to implode your relationship. Don’t cheat on your spouse, unless you’re ready for some major consequences.

PM Modi's remark expunged in Rajya Sabha

PM Narendra Modi's comments about BK Hariprasad, a Congress candidate in the August 9, 2018 Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson election, have been expunged from the records. PM Modi's comments were delivered after Hariprasad lost the election to the NDA's Harivansh Narayan Singh. This is the first time a prime minister's statement in Parliament has been removed from the records.
  • In a lighter vein, Mr. Modi, referring to the JD(U) candidate and Opposition nominee, Congress MP B.K. Hariprasad, said the election was between two “Haris”, He then went on to take a swipe at Mr. Hariprasad, playing on his initials, which left the House in splits.
  • RJD MP Manoj Jha, flagging the PM’s comments, said they were derogatory in direction and intent. He requested that they be expunged. The remarks were expunged by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Rajya Sabha chairman. 
  • The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has confirmed that the part of the prime minister's speech that involved a wordplay on BK Hariprasad's name has been expunged from the House's records.
  • The Congress leader was miffed by PM Modi's jibe. "The Prime Minister belittled the dignity of the chair and brought down the dignity of the House," Hariprasad said.
  • Earlier on May 13, 2018, ex-PM Manmohan Singh etc has written to President Ram Nath Kovind, asking him to advise PM Modi against using "unwarranted, threatening and intimidating" language. The letter stated that the PM's words as unacceptable and termed them as “menacing” and “intimidating” with the “intent to insult” and “provoke breach of the peace.” On May 6, in Hubli public meeting, PM Modi said, "Congress ke neta kaan khol ke sun lijeye, agar seemayo ko paar kaorogi, toh yeh Modi hai, lene ke dene pad jayenge (Congress leaders should listen to me with open ears, if you cross your limits, this is Modi, you will have to pay)." That had led to a Parliament stalemate with the Congress demanding that PM Modi apologise on the floor of the house. The issue was finally resolved after FM Arun Jaitley tendered a half-apology
  • “I think it becomes a massive shame for this country when the PM uses unparliamentary expressions in any House of Parliament,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said. 

Modi's comments are perversion of rhetoric. These unprovoked remarks reflects the true nature of the person and his attitudes towards other people in general and opposition leaders in particular. It is a national shame to have such a irresponsible fellow as our prime minister who neither tender apology nor expresses remorse for the offensive, derogatory and unparliamentary remarks on the floor of the house without any context or provocation. The least people of India could do is to defeat this type of people in forthcoming elections.

Meritocracy is myth

Merit is simply a good quality or feature that deserves to be praised. Merit and justice play a crucial role in ethical theory and political philosophy. Some view justice as allocation according to merit. Others view justice as based on criteria of its own, and take merit and justice as two independent values. Merit and justice are strongly linked in the human perception of social order. Spoils system, also called patronage system, is a practice in which the political party winning an election rewards its campaign workers and other active supporters by appointment to government posts and by other favors. A change in party control of government necessarily brings new officials to high positions carrying political responsibility, but the spoils system extends personnel turnover down to routine or subordinate governmental positions. Although spoils system is an American political term, it is common in many other countries as well.
  • The merit of all things lies in their difficulty. Everyone agrees that justice must be in accordance with some kind of merit.
  • Meritocracy has been presented as a means of breaking down established hierarchies of privilege.
  • Merit systems is an uniform and impersonal employment and advancement policy based on evaluation of abilities and achievements, instead of on favoritism or politics.
  • It is not hard to see why people find the idea of meritocracy appealing. It carries with it the idea of moving beyond where you start in life, of creative flourishing and fairness. But all the evidence shows it is a smokescreen for inequality. 
  • The fact is, meritocracy is a myth. Social systems that reward through wealth, and which increase inequality, don’t aid social mobility, and people pass on their privilege to their children.
  • Meritocracy contradicts the principle of equality, no less than any other oligarchy. Meritocracy is the great delusion that ingrains inequality.
  • Our leaders sell meritocracy as a utopian system of fairness, but merit has been manipulated to privilege the wealthy. Merit is a malleable and easily manipulated term. 
  • Meritocracy was a term of abuse, describing a ludicrously unequal state that surely no one would want to live in. Why would you want to give more prizes to the already prodigiously gifted? Instead we should think about how to give those doing difficult or unattractive jobs more leisure time, and share out wealth more equitably so that we all have a better quality of life and a happier society. 

It is better to be an eminent person than to be a prominent person.

Unequal growth is a threat to democracy. Meritocracy that promotes unequal growth and is also in conflict with the 'Preamble to the Constitution of India' which confers and guarantees equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all. The sooner we disband this myth called 'meritocracy' and replace with widely acceptable, efficient and equitable criterion for distribution of scarce resources and facilities, it is better.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Religion - Swami Vivekananda Quotes

Swami Vivekananda was religious, but never a superstitious person. 
  • All religion is to be based upon morality, and personal purity is superior.
  • All religious superstitions are vain imaginations. 
  • Beliefs, doctrines, sermons do not make religion.
  • Believe in the doctrine, and you are safe.
  • Circumstances can never be good or bad. Only the individual man can be good or bad. What is meant by the world being good or bad? Misery and happiness can only belong to the sensuous individual man.
  • Despondency is not religion.
  • Experience is the best source of knowledge. 
  • First bread and then religion.
  • Great is the tenacity with which man clings to the senses.
  • In religion lies the vitality  of India.
  • Intellectual assent and intellectual dissent are not religion.
  • It is an insult to a starving people to offer them religion.
  • Mere believing in certain theories and doctrines will not help you much. 
  • No destruction of religion is necessary to improve the Hindu society.
  • One religion cannot suit all.
  • Religion is the greatest and healthiest exercise for the human mind.
  • Religion requires hard and constant practice.
  • Religion is a necessary thing to very few, and to the vast mass of mankind it is a luxury.
  • Religion is the retaliation of Spirit as Spirit; not Spirit as matter. Religion is a growth. Each one must experience it himself. 
  • Religion has no business to formulate social laws.
  • Religion is not in doctrines, in dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation;
    it is being and becoming, it is realization.
  • Religion is manifestation of the Divinity already in man.
  • So long as even a single dog in my country is without food,
    my whole religion will be to feed it.
  • Talking is not religion.
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
  • The goal of all religions is the same, but the language of the teachers differs.
  • The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. 
  • The ideal of all religions is attaining of liberty and cessation of misery.
  • The man who is frightened into religion has no religion at all.
  • The proof of one religion depends on the proof of all the rest.
  • The very rich can understand truth much less than the poorer people. The rich man has no time to think of anything beyond his wealth and power, his comforts and indulgences. The rich rarely become religious. Why? Because they think, if they become religious, they will have no more fun in life.
  • True religion is entirely transcendental.
  • Try to be pure and unselfish— that is the whole of religion.
  • We must not only tolerate each others, but positively embrace them, and that truth is the basis of all religions.
  • We must not judge of higher things from a low standpoint.
    Everything must be judged by its own standard. 
  • You are what you make yourselves. 
  • You are religious from the day you begin to see God in men and women.
Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. The unselfish man says, 'I will be last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers.' This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva.

मातृदेबो भब पितृदेबो भब, दरिद्रतृदेबो भब, मूर्खतृदेबो भब
The poor, the illiterate, the ignorant, the afflicted -- let these be your God. 
Know that services to these alone is the highest religion ... Swami Vivekananda

Thursday, 9 August 2018

India's first newspaper 1780 - Hicky's Bengal Gazette

  • Hicky’s Bengal Gazettewas the Indian subcontinent’s first English language weekly newspaper published in Kolkata (then Calcutta), the capital of British India and was started by Irishman James Augustus Hicky on 29th January 1780. 
  • The Gazette was a weekly publication, typically running at a length of four pages, with three columns of text. 
  • The Gazette newspaper was published once a week on Saturday, and retailed for Re 1. Its circulation was estimated to be around 400 copies per week. The newspaper became famous not only among the British soldiers posted in India at that time but also inspired Indians to write newspapers of their own.
  • The Gazette was almost solely the product of J.A. Hicky’s labor, with Hicky acting as writer, editor, and publisher. Hicky's first editing policy was neutral and his slogan was "Open to all Parties, but Influenced by None."
  • The paper was a mixture between tabloid and satire, rather unlike the more serious tone of newspapers in Britain at the time, which had just won the right to report on Parliamentary proceedings. 
  • Though Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was ostensibly concerned with political developments within the East India Company, Hicky primarily focused his coverage on the mockery of his personal enemies.
  • His male writers opined that women should be chaste, faithful, and submissive. Their role was to satisfy and please their husbands. Their value was in how many children they could produce, and their responsibility was to preserve society’s moral values. 
  • One of his correspondents wrote: "A good wife is one who ever mindful of the solemn contract which she has entered into, is strictly and conscientiously virtuous, constant, and faithful to her husband; also chaste, pure and unblemished in every thought, word and deed. She ought to be humble and modest from reason and conviction, submissive from choice, and obedient from inclination. She must make it her constant study to appear truly amiable in the eyes of her husband, being conscious that every thing which promotes his happiness, must in the end contribute to her own."
  • Hicky argued in his columns that women should be subservient, reflecting thoughts of those times but chiefly on the profligacy of our women, and women should remain modest, virtuous and be educated only for the pleasure of men. They should be taught only subjects like dancing, music and French. He spread the idea that education made women less sexually attractive, that it stripped them of their femininity, and that women’s biology made them intellectually inferior and unable to participate in serious male-only conversation.
  • Hicky reprinted sections from a 1772 book 'Fatal Consequences of Adultery' which argued that it should be illegal for someone to marry the person they committed adultery with. The book's hope was to reduce adultery by reducing the incentive to commit it. The burden fell hardest on women, who unlike men, would have to live with society’s judgment of their actions.
  • Hicky  realized that a person’s religion did not matter, nor their education or social class. Anyone from any background, man or woman, could be good and righteous. In conclusion Hicky let people draw was that goodness did not come from class, education, or modernity. Goodness was innate. Indian women were not inferior to their European counterparts.
  • His success meant that others saw a good business opportunity. And, an event was about to come that would make it easier for any competitor with the right connections to challenge him.
  • Despite the paper’s satirical tone, it was widely read by members of colonial society at the time. Hicky’s criticism of Governor General Warren Hastings, and his particularly malicious ridicule of Hasting’s wife, landed him in jail repeatedly. 
  • He was finally suppressed when Hastings instituted fresh law suits against him. Hicky's Bengal Gazette ceased publication on 23 March 1782 when its types were seized by an order of the Supreme Court.