Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Ethanol Blending

The arguments made by Mr. R. Vishwanathan for the use of ethanol blending in his article “A Sugar Rush that could fuel the economy” are biased and does not take into consideration the ill effects of such a move.
Firstly, he pointed out that use of ethanol will decrease the carbon emissions and improve quality of air. Though he is right; the use of ethanol will increase the emissions from other sources. As pointed out in a recent report of FAO (published in The Hindu, Wasted Food For Thought), changing land production pattern is also a factor of climate change and GHG emissions. Further increased production of Sugarcane will put huge pressure on land and water resource. In a country like India, which is already suffering from increasing quantum of wasteland, it will not be prudent to introduce such a scheme without measures for restoration of land.
Secondly, it may threaten the food security of the country in a long run. More and more farmers will tend to produce sugarcane in search of better returns and for maximizing their profit. That will lead to decrease in the production of food crops like Wheat and rice which will escalate the prices of these subsistence crops. On the other hand, lower production of sugarcane will lead to escalation of prices of ‘mandatory’ ethanol blended fuel which will be out of bound from the reach of middle class.
Thirdly, ethanol is an excellent solvent (if it crosses 10% of the amount) and will have adverse affect on the motor engines, their rubber and plastic parts. Some sources point out the dissolution of resins that create a black sludge that coats and travels through the engine, causing engine stalling and complication in its working. Further high compression ratio will decrease mileage due to low energy content.
What is required, is not the introduction of new methods for acceleration of growth of private vehicles but a way to sensitize the public about the use of public vehicles. For making  India least depended about its energy security on foreign players, it must introduce multi-pronged strategy ranging from electrification of diesel based trains, creation and promotion of end to end public transport infrastructure with fast means of commutation. As said, ‘ A country’s progress and self sufficiency is not marked by the number of people who owns car but is testified when both rich and poor share the same space on a public vehicle for his/her commutation purpose’.  


Monday, 23 September 2013

Environmental movements in India


Man in India is a cultural being and culture emanates from worship of rivers, forests and resources. Environment and Nature establishes a deep link between man and his culture.
Environmental movement in India is the product of difference between the perception of state about the nature and perception of common man about the same. When state considers it as a tool for growth, development, acceleration of wealth to its contrast, man considers nature as expression of belief, love and aesthetics. The overexploitation of nature has led to exploitation of tribals, pastorals, or people living in the vicinity of forest areas or natural resources. When private developers make huge gain by appropriating wealth, locals feel the brunt of growth due to displacement, marginalization and eviction and loss of livelihood and their culture.
Indian environmental movements have political, ideological and material connotations.  The material context is provided by the wide-ranging struggles over natural resources. These conflicts have set in opposition on the one side, social groups who have gained from economic development while being insulated from ecological degradation and on the other poorer and relatively powerless groups such as small peasants, pastoral nomads, tribal and fishing communities whose livelihood have been seriously undermined through a combination of resource flows biased against them and a growing deterioration of the environment
Guha and Gadgil indicate that environmental movements are the products of unsustainable development process. While Gandhian crusaders consider that environmental movements are directed against big dams and industries. There go for small and medium industries at the village level.
Ecological feminist consider that gender equality can only be established if women’s right over nature is guaranteed, protected and respected because it is a means of livelihood. Women movements like Chipko are getting momentum for legitimate right of women over nature.
Socialist Environmwentalist considers that state and big industries monopolized the natural treasure which was traditionally linked to local people and tribals. This gave rise to environmental movements in India.
Environmental movements in India are carried out in 3 ways
1. Through organized mobilization and struggle as in case of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Yamuna Bachao Samiti, Ganga Mukti Abhiyan etc
2. Through extensive use of media both print and electronics to propagate their idea. Leading environmental activists Sunderlal Bahuguna and Baba Amte wrote signed articles in newspapers, drawing attention to the struggle they were engaged in. There has been extensive coverage by print media in reporting, interpreting and publicizing nature-based conflicts in modern India. Less visible but equally significant are the programmes of ecological restoration that various social action groups have undertaken.
3. Creating awareness through tree plantation camps, soil and water conservation programs and adoption of environmentally sound technologies.

They employ different methods like Rasta Roko, Jal Samadhi, Pradarshan, Gherao or Jail Bharo to court their dissatisfaction.
Paul Brass call these movements as Grass root movements while Rajni Kothari calls them as Non Party Movements.
An influential line of thinking within the state and state agencies is scientific conservation. We can see the work done by B.B Vohra a senior bureaucrat who was the first to draw public attention to land and water degradation. He noted in his paper ( 1973) that no countrywide organization or policy to deal with these problems ,nor was there coordination between concerned government departments. For him the solution lies in the creation of new ministries and departments to deal with problems of environmental degradation.
State is seen as the ultimate guarantor of environmental protection by many and the formation of Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 ,Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and Environment Protection Act of 1986 were seen in that direction.

Thus in order to encapsulate, environment movement can be considered as new social movements because they are issue specific and inclusive in character, unlike identity focused movements based on caste, class or ethnicity

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Growth of Communism and its relevance in post liberalization period (250 words)

Communist genesis in India dates back to late 1920s after Russian revolution of 1917. M.N.Roy, a staunch communist was instrumental in evolution of communist and socialist ideology in India. This led to emergence of new leaders like Dange, Singravellu chettiar, Nalini gupta at regional and national level accelerating socialist agenda.
However its gaining influence led British to declare it a banned outfit. This led the communist ideologues to get into the ranks of Congress in the form of CPI & CSP and later on various blocs developed. They resisted any kind of piece meal approach of the British and organized industrial strikes, Workers and Peasants conferences & developed a blue print for socialist society based upon transfer of all power to people, economic activities to be planned and controlled by state, nationalization of industries, redistribution of land.
After independence, India opted for socialist agenda as a Directive Principle. The initial period was marked by imminent factionalism between communist party which led to its split. After LPG reforms, CPI as a political outfit started losing its sheen. There has been disintegration of communism as a political ideology and as a party. However, there has been considerable rise in the demand for a new socialist and communist agenda that should balance both growth which is a capitalist imperative and welfare and equitable, inclusive development which is communism prerogative. This has been manifested in the form of grass root mobilization or growth of naxal movement, resistance to different mining, nuclear projects and hydropower plants. New socialist agenda is also expressed in the form of trade union strike against disinvestment of PSE like NLC or resistance from labour unions in maruti plant.
In conclusion it can be advocated that character of communism has changed from ideology based to need based and it is less organized and more revolutionary and parochial

Contributions of Subash Chandra Bose

Subash Chandra Bose, known as netaji, was a staunch adversary of British rule in India. His role in INM was confined to last decades of independence but wielded great inflictions on brtsh prospect of ruling India.
He believed in direct action against British through militaristic means. For this, he extensively toured provinces in order to create a stir among the youths and injecting a sense of sacrifice for India’s independence. This popularity let him get elected as President of INC in 1938 and 1939. He propagated great hater for the British and charted out a plan to cash in the World War II was a road map for India’s freedom. His approach was resented and he resigned from INC. He established Bharat Nauwajan Sabha and was also instrumental in political mobilisation in Bengal presidency during his tenure as Mayor.
He fled to Germany to set up an agenda with Nazis to wipe out British from India. He then landed at Singapore to organize Azad Hind Fauj which created apprehension in the minds of Indian government in latter stage.

Though his freedom of seeing India freedom does not fructify, neither his Azad Hind Fauj attained its objectives due to end of world war, he was instrumental in mobilizing militant youth aspiring of blood of imperialists and putting last nail in coffin of British imperialism.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

RBI and the Magic Wand


So, the mid-term policy review document is out and our revered Governor has whirled the much anticipated Magic Wand in his maiden policy announcement, though much to the dismay of industry. RBI has once again raised short term Repo rate by 25 basis point in order to rein inflation that has crossed comfort zone of RBI and clocked more than 6% on account of rising food and fuel prices especially the bulb, protein based food items and soaring crude oil prices.
The measure will not bring the respite either to antagonist of inflation or protagonist of growth. Rather it will increase interest rate on cars and home loans. RBI policy is based upon WPI which is far from the actual figures at the retail stores which is based on CPI. CPI is currently muzzling around double digit figures and has no changed despite the measures of RBI to soak money from the market in order to suppress demand.
Various reasons are responsible:
1. The current situation of high inflation of food produce is the product of hoarding by the speculators for better returns. These supply side and structural lapses have made the situation worse with onion in death race with petrol. The government must come down heavily on such unscrupulous hoarders and black marketers and import the food articles so as to bring the prices.
2. The crude oil prices reached new heights due to brewing tension of war in Syria. As the war clouds hovering over Syria have drifted, the crude oil prices will come down. Secondly, decrease of oil import from Iran due to unilateral sanctions by western countries has cost the country dear. India must upheld its commitment under NAM and BRICS and avoid any recognition of these sanctions.
3. There is still a lack of back end infrastructure like cold storage chains which lead to rotting of food crops and horticulture produce. No headway has been made in this regard and most of the proposals are mired in bureaucratic red tape. Government must provide a liquidation of provisions of Foreign multi brand retail and better mobilization of funds in order to set the things right.
4. Reforms of the APMC act are long due. It is a known fact that both consumers and farmers are at the receiving end of middlemen as there is stark difference between the whole sale prices and retail prices as can be seen from the government indicators. The farmers must have the freedom to enter into contract farming direct selling of their produce in the market.
5. WPI consists of 65% of manufacturing products. Given the dismal performance of domestic manufacturing (various factors are responsible from long due labour reforms and tight rules and regulations)and eroding of manufacturing base of the country, these products are imported most of the times. The depreciation of rupee has rendered these manufacturing products costly which consequently increased WPI. Government must promote its NIMZ model in order to strengthen the manufacturing base.

It can be seen that most or all of the reasons are due to inertia and deep slumber on the part of the government and RBI policy has nothing to do with it. The traditional role of RBI is limited to managing the money in the market and not revamping the structural flaws in the economy. The external sector may or may not improve, but the government must first set its books right. That will itself has a cascading effect to bring the country to growth trajectory. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Brief Contributions of Teg Bahadur Sapru

Teg Bahadur Sapru was an eminent jurist and   Indian nationalist. He was an active player during INM through his liberal approach. His views on nationalism were in sharp contrast with congress whether moderates or extremists or swarajists and also Muslim league and to propagate this he established liberal party.
He believed that Indian Nationalism should be based on Self government under the British rule, through constitutional means. He did not believe in swaraj as he thought that India is yet not prepared for independence. So he did not support non cooperation movement or quit India movement that believed in overthrowing British rulers. Therefore, he participated in legislative council elections and demanded more constitutional reforms through petitions and memorandums. He also acted as a mediator between government and nationalists and Gandhi and Ambedkar. He was also against the partition of India and wanted to establish a federal government.
However his views did not hold water due to growing resentment among people and rise of revolutionary activities. His liberal party lacked popular support and was more intellectual biased who did not take into account the popular sentiments, grass root resentment and feelings

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

THE IDEAL OF WELFARE STATE



Welfare state is defined as a government that guarantees a proper standard of living and services to its citizens without any discrimination. The government plays a key role in promotion of every section of society and distribution of resources in an equitable manner. It is a novel feature of modern democratic state which evolved with the evolution o constitutional form of government. It means that state exists for securing the inalienable rights of individual. A welfare state, unlike a regulatory/ laissez faire state, performs dual function i.e. apart from regulatory function, development function as well. It seeks to establish an egalitarian society.
The idea of welfare state has long been a matter of debate and discussion. Various scholars based on their academic knowledge, speculative judgment tried to define the concept of welfare state. Rousseau considers a welfare state driven by the principle of general will as ideal. He advocate that when the chasm between the individual will and collective will is mitigated or eliminated, only then a state can guarantee welfare to its people.
Karl Marx, in his study of Communist Manifesto, tells that a welfare state is the product of mass mobilization and revolution of the proletariat class. He advocated for a state in which means of production will be owned by all and everyone has stake in the forces of production. His utopian goal was the establishment of a classless society what he called as communism. According to Marx, only communist rule can provide the welfare and development to every nook and corner of the society.
Durkheim considers a welfare state based on the principle of organic solidarity and rule of law in which the desires of the individual fit into the demands of society. On the other hand, Max Weber considered welfare state based on the legal rational capitalist state, legal rational authority and bureaucracy driven by objectivity and rationality.
In India, there has been considerable debate on state responsibility between various nationalists during the course of nationalist movement. Gandhiji considered welfare state as a government that will promote cottage industries and help in the promotion of grass root Panchayats Raj System as a unit of self government. His idea of a welfare state rested on the premise that state will take the affirmative role to bridge the gap between various sections of society by constructive work in the field of education, dismantling caste consciousness and creation of self employment opportunities for individuals. While Nehru took welfare state as a mixed blend of big industries owned by the government with a conduit for distribution of fruits of growth to different sections of society.
Of late, idea of welfare state is also manifested in the form of Gross National Happiness as propounded by Bhutan King Jigme Thinley Wangchuk. His idea of welfare state rests on four dimensions of promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of natural environment and establishment of good governance.
The advent of globalization and consequent growth of capitalism has given way to disproportionate exploitation of resources and growing inequality both inter nation and intra nation. It has led to growing unrest among the workers and their economic exploitation, increasing crime against women, increased competitiveness and dynamic and exponential growth of market which entered into private life of the individual, growth of leftist extremism or naxalism, cyber crime etc. In this context, welfare state gains important.
India opted for a welfare and socialist pattern of government functioning by enacting Directive Principles of State Policy. It was considered a judicial mix of Gandhian ideology, socialism, western liberalism and freedom struggle of India. Various ideas were propagated through this part that state must endeavor to achieve for the overall social, economic and administrative development of the society. Based on these principles, government has enacted various legislations like, Abolition of Zamindari System for equal distribution of natural resources, Community Development Programs for development for particular communities, Co-operative movement for overall development of a specific sector and increasing the wages of people, priority lending schemes for low interest loans, promotion of self help groups for self employment, Nationalization of banks for saving the individuals from unscrupulous moneylenders and vagaries of market; and ownership in various industrial activities for equitable distribution of resources in the name of public good, equal pay for equal work for decreasing the gender and social divide, various labour legislation laws for better work environment and bargaining power of workers, factories act, Mines act and poverty alleviation programmers’ like MGNREGA.
The ideal of a welfare state must contain various legal provisions in order to protect vulnerable and marginalized poor sections of society to secure and protect a social order which stands for welfare of people. A state must secure to individual various rights both legal and constitutional. For example, a welfare state must provide free and compulsory education to all individuals without any discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, ethnicity or sex etc. It must provide accessible and affordable healthcare to underprivileged sections of the society to prevent their out of pocket expanses. It must promote progressive taxation so as to mitigate the growing inequalities between individuals. It must promote gender justice through special intervention for girl and female subjects. It must create just and humane conditions of work and must strive to abolish child labour or bonded labour.
In contemporary times, an ideal welfare state is the one which takes into account, the voices of every section of the society like individuals, pressure groups, non-governmental organization, social activists and intellectuals while formulating policy or enacting any social welfare program.

In conclusion, it can be advocated that though the concept of ideal welfare state has not lost its utility and has evolved over a period of time. It is still the responsibility of the state that globalization should be inclusive and every person has stake in it and he/she can use all his potential to invest in the market. Only then, world will emergence as a single entity driven by the principles of equity, empowerment and inclusion in which every individual will have say in the political, economic or social structure.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Much Awaited Revolution

I have an ambition. Ambition of becoming an administrative officer. Studying for this itself invigorate a sense of patriotism towards the country and belonging to ones country’s people. When I think about the problems faced by India as a country or as a nation or as a society or as a diverse multi-cultural state, I find myself in limbo. The political, social , cultural and every single structure is facing a problem due to caste, political apathy, illiteracy and educational challenges , regional imbalances in development, regionalism and parochialism,  surreptitious acts of government and complete dependence on foreign magnanimity, economic havoc etc.
The other day I was watching a news channel in which Manmohan Singh (the coveted though puppet PM) advocated that India achieved an average growth rate of 8.2% in 8 years of UPA rule. I wondered how this growth rate has compromised the interest of more than 80% of the population of India. Most of the growth was the result of funds generated through World Bank and Other international banks for the developmental purpose. I am not talking about the budget expenditure because domestic budget is for the welfare of IPL (Indian political leaders) and not for the aam aadmi. The political class cutting across party lines, regions, ideology came together on a recent decree of CIC advocating accountability of the parties to the public. They even gave a thought of repealing the law itself or creating changes in order to sideline the ruling. The Financial autonomy is denied to CBI despite of a lot of hue and cry over the issue. Many Scams surfaced ranging from games to gates (even greater than India gate) and many criminals got into political fray everyday without any fear of penal action. Still the political class boasts of getting success in the upcoming general elections. A women monarch at the helm of affairs, knowing little about the culture, about the national language, about the grass root problems is controlling everything and anything. The food security ordinance is passed completely based on vote bank politics still no substantial voice from the public. A student from 5th class cannot read the syllables of 1st class still India has provided right to education to all at primary level with no retention, no teachers, no quality education and no schooling infrastructure. India has one of the largest education cum feeding program still more than 42 percent children are malnourished. Women are raped; they are subject to extreme exploitation still no one cares. Different laws are cased in the law book only for the sake of reading without implementation. Disaster strikes and people feel apprehensive of providing relief because of a mindset that even the relief fund will be routed for the gratification of political whims and fancy. The apathy of the police and nexus between different unscrupulous interests has proved any change, futile. The false consciousness has been injected to every section of the society and it became so pervasive that no social revolution has been initiated till now. It is right that external colonialism has been replaced by internal colonialism.
Marx pointed out that the workers should come together to overthrow the ruling capitalist bourgeoisie for creating a just and equitable socialist society. I must say that the middle class should change its mentality of maintaining status-quo and come out together to overthrow the ruling class for a better future. Many eruptions in the form of protests without any institutional support happened in Middle East called as Arab Spring or Jasmine Revolution. India requires its own Lotus Spring or Tiger revolution.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Different form of contemporary protests


Protest, is an overt reaction of the public to old social order which is driven by clandestine and unrepresentative approach of the government or by violence against the people whom it represents or seeks to represent. There has been a tremendous increase in the protest all over the world and in every sphere whether social, political, economic or religious. People have thronged on the streets, filled the squares and congregated in ‘maidans’ or parks, up against the authoritarian, communist and democratic regimes alike.
On the international front, we had faced or have been facing many protest like Occupy Wall street, protest by people in middle east, brazil etc. However in case of India, protests and protestors have become the orders of the day. No day passes when you do not have a news or cover story about a protest.
The protests in the form of Satyagraha, which was made famous by our Bapuji, won India freedom, though there has been continuous support from revolutionaries as well. But most of the political base and mobilization was the result of economic and political protests in the initial period by moderates which was later accelerated during Gandhian Era.
However, after more than 6 decades, there has been a paradigm shift in the form of protests. Two decades of globalization has led to India-Bharat divide which is debated and discussed by our huge and intellectual dividend in the form of Amartya sen v/s Jagdish Bhagwati debate, Aruna Roy and others. The growing regional disparity in economic sphere and suppression of people’s voices, absence of grievance redressal mechanisms, rising corruption in the public life have all contributed to new form of protests.
Jal Satyagraha has been in news for the past some time. These protests are generally related to hydropower plants and dams. The decision of the government to increase the height of dam led to mobilization of number of people who faced the threat to their land. These people immersed themselves in neck deep water to express their inconvenience with the decision of the government. Other forms of protest are also manifested in the form of self immolation bid as has been seen in the case of Tibetian monks.
The disproportionate growth in the country and subsequent mushrooming of islands of prosperity in the sea of poverty has led to the development of different forms of protest. There have been demands for new states based on economic divide which led to growth of ideological groups like naxalites, factions and regional parties like TRS. They all have been instrumental in expressing their protest against the paternalistic way of central government functioning and funding.
The protest of workers of Coal India Limited and Neyveli Lignite Corporation against the decision of government for disinvestment of its stake has led to great turmoil. The mobilization of people especially youth against the rising corruption and in the aftermath of Delhi gang rape is another example to new form of protests. Protests are also expressed virtually but mightly through networking sites and signature campaigns due to vast coverage and appeal.
All these protests have one thing in common. They all are based on non-violence. As Gandhiji once said,
“A state cannot tolerate violent defiance of authority, but it feels perplexed and puzzled when people show a great strength of non violence through peaceful protest.”


These protests have the power to derail the government or authority and have the capability to mobilize large number of people for the betterment of future. It is upto the government and its bureaucratic machinery on how to deal with these to make India a inclusive, corruption free, value based democracy in which the concerns and grievances of the people are taken into account to find out a way forward.