We need friends! (?)


"An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild  beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind."
~~Buddha~~

Many of you reading this post may think what’s a silly question to ask, and also may you think its my prejudiced opinion in the first statement.any way but i sometimes do ponder over the title of this post.Well interaction with others is what makes us a social creature or so called gregarious person. Is it that we were embedded with the desire to have friends naturally when we are born? or the society which we live in or the environment in which we are brought up makes us to be Introvert or Extrovert?I think the fact is, we can never say that we can live on our own without any influence from other people. Who we are today is the influence of what you have gone through all the stages in life.But i think friendship is just a feeling where we feel our frequencies matches with the other one or just we like to spend some time with them.One of our most basic fears is being alone, Whether our best friend is around the corner or in another time zone, just knowing He/she is there provides comfort. “It gives us a sense of being connected and confidence.

We knowingly or Unknowingly have categorized friends in to Good Friends,Best Friends,Close Friends etc… may be based on the index of closeness and rapport. Best friends  are totally honest with us,They know us well and are able to tell it like it is,They have always best interest in their heart for us.A honest friend will not always tell you what you want to hear, but they’ll certainly tell you what you need to know like if he/she is really that into you. When you’ve got a crisis on your hands or need to make a quick decision they are your go-to. They’re also there to keep you away from mixing paisleys and stripes. This type of friend has the strength of “feedback” and “is a pearl who will tell it to you straight when others won’t or will sugarcoat things at the very least .Some time we mayn’t like “on the face” barbs by our best friends but in the end we should thank them for being honest in their opinion and not to batter with them and do not break your friendship for some silly reasons which may crop-up during discussions.There may be times when your so called friends may quarrel with you for silly reasons but, In the end of the day you should think why did He/She said “so” to me? What all that matters in a friendship is whether my friends have best interests of me in their Conscience or not. i would like to end this post with a quote of Nicholas Sparks.

“You're going to come across people in your life who will say all the right   words at all the right times. But in the end, it's always their actions you   should judge them by. It's actions, not words, that matter.”


Census of Slums of India-Facts, Observations and Analysis


Recently Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India released a census report on Urban Slums of India.It has revealed that slum residents have most basic amenities like drinking water and electricity and even facilities like mobile phones, internet and private vehicles: the only service Missing is Sanitation.

 

Some important FACTS

  • The slum population in India has increased during 2001-11.i.e from 1103 to 2613

  • Reasons for upcoming slums-Urbanization, Industrialization,Pull factors etc..

  • Three types of slums have been defined in Census, namely, Notified, Recognized and Identified.

  • States/Union territories not reporting Slums-Manipur,Daman & Diu ,Dadra & Nagar Haveli,AND Lakshadweep

  • Maharashtra leads in the no of population of slum dwellers followed by AP,WB,UP and TN

  • Literacy rate in slum-dwellers is highest in Mizoram(98.1) followed by Kerala(93.1),Tripura(90.7),Meghalaya(89.0) and Nagaland(88.8)

  • Literacy rate in slum-dwellers is lowest in Chandigarh followed by J&K,Bihar,UP and Arunachal Pradesh-66.4,68.0,68.2,69.0 and 69.4 respectively.

 

Observations and Analysis

  • Census data shows families living in slums have a far better child sex ratio than the urban Indian average.. The child sex ratio (0-6 years) of an average slum household is 922 girls for every 1,000 boys, compared to 905 for urban India

  • The proportion of SCs living in slums has risen over the last decade. Scheduled Castes in slums have far better sex ratios than other urban communities

  • that Indian slums are amongst the most unequal and least inclusive in the world.

  • It would be incorrect to attribute migration as the principal reason for the increase in slums. As the expert group on urban poverty and slums for the formulation of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan has clearly stated, their proliferation is a result of the failure of housing policies.

  • The interest subsidy scheme, which is meant to provide financial assistance to lower income groups to secure housing and enable construction of three lakh units, has so far reached only 13,485 beneficiaries. Similarly, many State governments have failed to implement the National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy’s recommendation to allocate 15 per cent of land in residential projects for housing the poor.

  • Following the failure of many earlier schemes, the government launched a new one entitled Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in 2011. RAY has promised slum free cities in future, and commits to rehabilitate existing slum dwellers in the same place where they are living, provide secure tenure and improve access to services and sanitation.

  • The key challenge is to provide serviced land for social housing

  • How much we can rely on the urban slum census is also questionable,because many urban slums are unaccounted for with NO basic facilities in many parts of the country and the upcoming slums on the fringes of many metros are also unaccounted.

 

Without effective implementation of policies  it would be difficult to prevent the formation of new slums.Sustainable and equitable urban development is possible only when our cities adequately address the issue of housing the poor.

 

Trade Bloc Blues: RCEP v/s TPP tussle and INDIA


Backgrounder:

  • What is RCEP?-Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership-Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) scheme of the 10 ASEAN Member States and its FTA Partners (Australia, China, India, Japan,Korea and New Zealand) to be concluded by the end of 2015

  • What is TPP?-Trans-Pacific Partnership-The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement under negotiation by (as of August 2013) Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan,Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

 

 

                            RCEP will cover half of the world’s population and hover above the panoply of smaller pre-existing free trade agreements that have multiplied among these 16 nations amidst the stalled Doha round of multilateral trade talks.If negotiated successfully, RCEP would create the world’s largest trading bloc and have major implications for Asian countries and the world economy. The Thai Secretary General of ASEAN, Surin Pitsuwan, reflected this statesmanlike vision at RCEP’s launch by saying, “The effort is to try and isolate the two issues (political tussles and economic deals). Economic integration will have to go forward because everybody is going to benefit from this new architecture.”

  • The RCEP seeks to achieve a modern and comprehensive trade agreement among members. The core of the negotiating agenda would cover trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation and dispute settlement

  • TPP If completed, the TPP would cover two-fifths of the world economy and one-third of interracial trade. It aims not just to eradicate tariffs on goods and services, but would cover labor and the environment, intellectual property, government procurement and state-owned enterprises.

  • The Asian Development Bank has estimated the impact of the TPP on gross domestic product and found that most member countries would experience moderate economic gains from joining the free-trade bloc. New Zealand, Mexico and Malaysia would likely benefit the most from a successful agreement. Singapore, Australia, Japan and Vietnam also stand to gain. In contrast, Peru and Chile are expected to be hurt. Both countries already have free-trade agreements with other TPP economies, so TPP could divert trade to competitors like Mexico and Vietnam.

  • In India, there are doubters who are cagey about the universal benefits of RCEP. Though the Trade and Economic Relations Committee, headed by PM Manmohan Singh, has signalled the government’s willingness to discuss the modalities of this new trading bloc, touted as the world’s largest, some sections of Indian industry are seeing red at the prospect of further lowering of import tariffs.

  • Given that RCEP has China bang in the middle as a trading superpower hub, and since India has been hesitant about a bilateral free trade agreement with China, there are legitimate worries that RCEP could become a roundabout passage through which cheap Chinese goods will flood our markets because India is a major player in the RCEP negotiations and is under pressure currently to bring about steep reductions in its tariffs

  • RCEP may open positive opportunities to our service sector exporters, but that is unlikely to allay concerns about heavy Chinese penetration of India’s consumer-based economy.

  • RCEP has been billed as a rival to the US-led 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership bloc, which has many overlapping RCEP members but excludes China. In Beijing, Trans-Pacific Partnership is seen as a US ploy to sow rifts among east Asian countries by villainising China. Hence the eagerness with which China has pressed the accelerator on RCEP as an alternative.

  • While India is not geographically located within the Pacific Ocean littoral, there can always be ways in which we benefit from associating with the TPP as well.After all, the expanded concept of the East Asia Summit did encompass India even though we are, cartographically speaking, a south Asian country.

  • Talks to finalise accords on Trans-Pacific Partnership and RCEP will run into domestic opposition from interest groups in many member states. But now that India has taken up the gauntlet of joining RCEP, we must balance economic and strategic calculations and prepare to lead in the ‘Indo-Pacific century’

  • Critics of TPP negotiations have argued that the true U.S. goal is to contain rising Chinese influence in the region. China is not standing still, and is promoting a Sino-centric bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

  • RCEP-The partnership has much to gain from a more liberalized service trade. Though this is a sensitive issue for many countries, it would be more suitable if a sector-wise liberalization process is adopted. Nations can then integrate more confidently once the benefits become visible


The RCEP will no doubt face stiff opposition from various interest groups within the participating countries. But now that India has decided to join, it will need to balance economic and strategic calculations and prepare to lead in the so called  “Indo-Pacific century”

WTO-INDIA-FOOD SECURITY


Recently  WTO observed  that India’s food security law may violate its commitments to the World Trade Organization .India’s food security law will raise subsidy levels and Some members of the WTO, especially developed nations that are big commodity exporters, have raised concerns that its large stocks of wheat and rice could lead India to dump those on global market.

 

What WTO has said?

  • According to them, the food law that guarantees grains to nearly 70% of the country’s more than 1.2 billion people at nearly throwaway prices would artificially lower local prices and damp demand for their products in one of world’s largest markets.

  • the food security law will breach India’s AMS commitments.More specifically, India has to comply with its commitments under the “Aggregate Measurement of Support,” which stipulates a ceiling on domestic subsidies.

  • Realising FSA-2013  involve purchasing food grain from farmers at high prices and selling them through the Public Distribution System at subsidised rates. Not only should the needy be provided access to food but farmers too must be incentivised to produce more grain to reduce reliance on imports. Both actions, it has been argued, constitute a type of price support that the WTO classifies as “amber box measures” – “considered to distort production and trade.

  • If we implement the Food Bill, there are chances that we will breach the subsidy limit for rice next year itself while wheat will follow soon after.

What is India’s Response to the issue?

  • Procurement of foodgrains and distribution under the new Food Security Act will not be substantially higher than the ongoing public distribution system, indicating that it will not contribute to international price distortions.

  • India backs the G-33 proposal that wants subsidies, which are a part of the procurement of food-grains for public stock-holding for poor and marginal farmers, not to be regarded as a prohibited subsidy by the WTO.

  • The Agreement on Agriculture allows “market distorting subsidies” up to a limit of 10 per cent of the total production. Some developing countries, including India, are demanding that this limit be raised.


                  In fact, the West has seized upon the G33’s vulnerability, tying its proposal to the larger, deadlocked discussion on “trade facilitation” under the Doha Development Round. At the Bali Conference, it is likely the U.S. and EU will push for a grand bargain: lesser import restrictions and open markets in developing countries for exemptions on procuring subsidized food grain,But India said Bali Ministerial meet will look at how this permanent solution will come. The Peace Clause in Article 13 of the agreement on agriculture (AOA) has been there for 9 years. India is open to accepting a Peace Clause as an interim mechanism till an acceptable final solution. India is also ready to commit that procured food grains would not be released for international trade and the management of public stocks would be done in a transparent manner.

Cyclone Phailin handled,What Next?


The handling of Cyclone Phailin was noteworthy, loss of human life minimised by acting on robust forecasts, and given our record in disaster management there is much cause for a well-deserved pat on the back this time compared to 1999 Super Cyclone and 2004 Tsunami.That the deaths due to this natural phenomenon of mind-boggling force could be kept to under 50 (so far) is testimony to the fact that disaster management in this country may be coming of age. However, before anyone jumps up and says yay! We need to understand that saving people’s lives is not the only thing that matters when such large scale evacuation takes place. The even bigger challenge is to rehabilitate all those who have been forced to move out into shelters by the government.

                        The IMD has managed to reduce error in spotting the exact area a cyclone will hit by 35 km over the past seven years. There are huge differences in every initiatives taken by government and public compared to 1999 and 2013.

1999 v/s 2013.

  • The use of technology in the prediction game has improved over the years.for instance  until 2003, the IMD offered cyclone early warnings merely 24 hours earlier; over the past few years, it has been issuing its first warnings 120 hours before a cyclone’s landfall.

  • Role of e-media and print media made a huge difference in the govt efforts to evacuate people

  • Cyclone forecasts in India are done  using sensors on floats in the sea,using various models to come to a conclusion compared to few models used earlier.

  • NDMA wasn’t even born in the year 1993 but in 2013 NDMA played a active role

  • Centre and States have been always at loggerheads when its a matter of cooperation,but the scenario has changed from past few years and the coordination among various agencies made the management of disaster successful

 

 

What Next?What more can be done??

  • Use of still better technology for prediction i.e Cyclones originate from the sea and the initial data is crucial in any model used for calculating the intensity of a storm.Conducting twice daily aircraft reconnaissance, sometimes using five aircraft, of the eye of the storm in the ocean and around it using radars attached to the belly of aircraft to get accurate initial data. for better and accurate predictions

  • Economic growth should always be in sync with the natural environment of a specific area and We can no longer afford to act in a manner that sacrifices environmental concerns in the name of economic growth.Natural shields such as Mangroves have acted as a barriers to minimize effect of cyclones around the world and destruction of Mangroves should be stopped.

  • Governments should seriously consider the reports of various panels on climate change related issues and act on it after due deliberation among various stakeholders.

  • The government should have take the mangrove plantation drive seriously by now. as the data shows the area covered by Mangroves has drastically reduced to 1/4th of what it used to be in 1950s

 

Prevention is better than cure is not a mere proverb. As we have witnessed,disaster managment and its timely execution has helped to  save lives. We only need to extend its scope, think through all scenarios