Vol- CXXI : July 1, 2014

Dear Colleagues

The soccer fever is on in Brasil these days; it seems that a combination of competence and luck is required for victory. Here is another set for your perusal:

  1. Every year, Times lists 100 most influential people in the world. The recently released list includes nearly 2/3rd from North America and Europe. Considering that these regions have about 10% of the world population, it is indeed interesting that the ‘west’ has disproportionately larger number of most influential people residing there. Given the major shifts in global political economy of late, the Times list may suggest certain bias, or lack of information or lack of understanding, or?
  2. Several NGOs based in rural Maharashtra seem to be accessing a new funding source – CDF, or Constituency Development Fund. Several MLAs, MPs – current and former – seem to be supporting various socio-economic development projects of NGOs in their constituencies. This may suggest that NGOs can perhaps access MLALAD and MPLAD funds in the coming future? Since increasingly larger numbers of MPs are persons of substantial means, they can also be ‘angel philanthropists’ for NGOs?
  3. Voters around the world seem to be rejecting old orthodoxies. In recent polls in Quebec (Canada), the party that wants independent Quebec for decades was summarily voted out of power. The party that won the elections has promised greater public investments, reductions in subsidy and major reforms in governance. Does that appear similar to the pronouncements of the new government in Delhi?
  4. In many countries, remittances from immigrants constitute a substantial part of the national economy, even larger than Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and/or Official Development Aid (ODA). In Sri Lanka, one in every sixth worker is abroad, and every family in the north receives monthly remittances for ‘running costs’. As a consequence, there is real shortage of semi-skilled and skilled workers in the region, a phenomenon similar to Kerala in India. If manpower export becomes an official policy for economic development in India, its youthful workforce would have considerable ’employability’ in the global north?
  5. Several man-made disasters have struck in different parts of India last week. A railway accident in Bihar killed dozens; houses have collapsed in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, killing and injuring many; industrial accidents have occurred in Andhra (gas pipeline leakage), Kanpur (industrial fire in a factory) and Rourkela (gas leakage in a factory). Death and injury to hundreds of people no longer makes news in India; we have become immune to such tragedies and disasters. At the base of these accidents is the attitude to ‘fix everything’ (the jugad syndrome) and to carry on merrily (chalta hai); the institutions of regulation and ensuring compliance have become ineffective, incompetent and insular. Without basic institutional reforms and compliance monitoring mechanisms, man-made disasters will continue to occur in the country. There are no short-cuts to safety, or well-being?

Thanking you

Rajesh Tandon