Have Modi's Misguided Policies Turned India Into A Beggar Nation?

India is set to receive nearly $500 million in emergency aid from Japan to cope with rising covid19 cases and worsening economy, according to Hindustan Times. This is the largest amount of financial assistance announced by any country so far to support India’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has had widespread impacts on the Indian economy and health sector. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter. It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic. Have Indian Prime Minister's misguided policies turned India into a beggar nation? The fact is that India was already the world's biggest recipient of foreign aid even before the pandemic. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.

India in Crisis:

Many in the world, including India's biggest cheerleader Fareed Zakaria, are beginning to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. Indian state has failed to contain the deadly COVID19 pandemic. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter.  It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic.  The country's democracy is in decline. India seems like a roadkill for China. This turn of events has created serious problems for Pakistani "liberals" who have long seen and often cited India as a successful example of "secular democracy" at work in South Asia.
Top Aid Recipients and Their Donors in 2017. Source: Wristband Resources

India World's Top Aid Recipient: 

The Japanese emergency aid of $500 million to India is only the latest instance of multi-billion dollar aid Tokyo has provided to New Delhi in recent years. In fact, India is currently the world's largest recipient of official development assistance (ODA) and Japan is its biggest donor. India's $4.21 billion in assistance is followed by Turkey $4.10 billion, Afghanistan $2.95 billion, Syria $2.77 billion, Ethiopia: $1.94 billion, Bangladesh $1.81 billion, Morocco $1.74 billion, Vietnam $1.61 billion, Iraq $1.60 billion and Indonesia $1.48 billion. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.

India: Epicenter of COVID19:

India is rapidly becoming the world’s new coronavirus epicenter, setting a record for the biggest single-day rise in cases as experts predict that it’ll soon pass Brazil -- and ultimately the U.S. -- as the worst outbreak globally, according to Bloomberg. Over 78,000 new cases were added in a single day taking the total tally to over 3.6 million. This represented the highest ever one-day surge among all major countries. At the current growth rate, India’s virus cases will eclipse Brazil’s in about a week, and the U.S. in about two months. And unlike the U.S. and Brazil, India’s case growth is still accelerating seven months after the reporting of its first coronavirus case on Jan. 30. The pathogen has only just penetrated the vast rural areas where the bulk of its 1.3 billion population lives, after racing through its dense mega-cities.

COVID19 Growth Fastest in India. Source: Bloomberg

Private International Charity to India:

India tops the list of charity recipients from private foundations while Pakistan is ranked as the 12th largest recipient of philanthropic giving in the world, according to a report released by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Private Foundation Philanthropy in Asia. Source: OECD 

Global Philanthropic Foundations:

Philanthropic contributions of major international private foundations in Pakistan totaled  $267 million out of the $42 billion global contribution in  2013-2015.  This compares with $1.6 billion in top-ranked India and $498 billion in second-ranked China.  US-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) contributed nearly half of the $42 billion in global charity by private foundations.

Private foundations are filling the huge gaps in public funding of health and education sectors in developing nations. . They contributed  $11 billion for the health sector alone in the three year period, ranking third behind the United States and a global fund for fighting disease.

Massive Western Aid to India:

In addition to being the biggest recipient of private foreign charity,  India has been the number one recipient of official US aid since 1947, according to the US government data.   The country India's first Prime Minister turned to for help during the 1962 China-India war was also the United States.

India has received $65.1 billion in US aid since its independence, making it the top recipient of American economic assistance. Pakistan, with its $44.4 billion, is at number 5 on the list.  US data also shows that Pakistan is not among top 10 for military or total economic and military aid.

Local Charity in Pakistan:

Pakistanis donate generously to local charities in the country in the form of religiously mandated donations such as "zakat, sadaqa and fitrana".  One of the key measures of empathy is generosity to others, the kind of generosity demonstrated in Pakistan by the likes of  late Abul Sattar Edhi. The Edhi Foundation set up by the great man is funded mainly by small donations from ordinary people in Pakistan.

 Anatol Lieven, author of "Pakistan: A Hard Country" wrote the following tribute to the Mr. Edhi:

"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in an arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its elected representatives - and to see the flag of Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality."  

What Professor Anatol Lieven describes as "human religion and human morality" is the very essence of the Huqooq-ul-Ibad (Human Rights) in Islam. Abdus Sattar Edhi understood it well when he said, "there's no religion higher than humanity".

Edhi understood the meaning of what the Quran, the Muslim holy book, says in chapter 2 verse 177:

"Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteous is, one who believes in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the prophets, and who gives wealth for His love to kindred, and orphans, and the poor, and the son of the road, beggars, and those in captivity; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives alms."

A recent article written by Shazia M. Amjad and Muhammad Ali and published in Stanford Social Innovation Review said that "Pakistan is a generous country. It contributes more than one percent of its GDP to charity, which pushes it into the ranks of far wealthier countries like the United Kingdom (1.3 percent GDP to charity) and Canada (1.2 percent of GDP), and around twice what India gives relative to GDP."

OECD says corporate donations in Pakistan have increased from  $4.5 million to $56.4 million over the last 15 years. Corporate donations are dwarfed by individual donations made as zakat, sadaqa and fitrana as commanded by the Quran.

In addition to zakat, sadaqa and fitrana, Pakistanis spent about $3.5 billion on Eid ul Azha in 2017, according to analysts. This included sacrifice of $2.8 billion worth of livestock and another $700 million on clothes,  shoes, jewelry and various services. This amount represent a huge transfer of wealth from urban to rural population, including many rural poor, in the country. It also brings philanthropic donations of Rs. 2.5 billion to Rs. 3 billion ($25-30 million) worth of animal hides which are sold to the nation's leather industry.

Empathy Study:

A Michigan State University (MSU) study of 63 countries finds that Pakistanis have higher empathy for others than people in their neighboring countries. It also finds that the United States is among the most empathetic nations in the world.

The MSU researchers, led by William J. Chopik,  analyzed the data from an online survey on empathy completed by more than 104,000 people from around the world.

The survey measured people’s compassion for others and their tendency to imagine others’ point of view. Countries with small sample sizes were excluded (including most nations in Africa). All told, 63 countries were ranked in the study, according to MSUToday, a publication of Michigan State University.


India's biggest cheerleaders, including Fareed Zakaria, are beginning to see the stark reality of Modi's India as a big failure on multiple fronts. India is set to receive nearly $500 million in emergency aid from Japan to cope with rising covid19 cases and worsening economy, according to Hindustan Times. This Japanese emergency aid of $500 million to India is only the latest instance of multi-billion dollar aid Tokyo has provided to New Delhi in recent years. In fact, India is currently the world's largest recipient of official development assistance (ODA) and Japan is its biggest donor. India was already the world's biggest recipient of foreign aid even before the pandemic. Pakistan is not even among the top 15 recipients of foreign aid.  This $500 million is the largest amount of financial assistance announced by any country so far to support India’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has had widespread impacts on the economy and health sector. India’s economy in the organized sector shrank nearly 24% last quarter. It is likely a 40% decline in GDP after the government takes the unorganized sector into account, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, India is seeing record new daily coronavirus cases and becoming the new epicenter of the covid19 pandemic. Have Indian Prime Minister's misguided policies turned India into a beggar nation?

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Is Fareed Zakaria Souring on India? 

Pakistan Success Against COVID19

Study Says Pakistanis Have Higher Empathy Than Neighbors

Comparing Median Wealth and Income in India and Pakistan

Eid ul Azha Economy

Foreign Aid Pouring in India

Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Islam

Philanthropy in Pakistan

Panama Leaks Scandal

Misaq-e-Madina Guided Quaid-e-Azam's Vision of Pakistan

Interfaith Relations in Islam

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
Narendra Modi has left #India's #economy a shattered mess. #Modi is proving increasingly inept at managing India's economy, with his dream of building a $5 trillion behemoth by 2025 now looking increasingly unachievable. #BJP #COVID19 #pandemic


Ritesh Kumar Singh is chief economist of Indonomics Consulting and a former assistant director of the Finance Commission of India.

Despite his pro-business image, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is proving increasingly inept at managing India's economy, with his dream of building a $5 trillion behemoth by 2025 now looking increasingly unachievable.

A native Gujarati, one of India's most advanced industrial states, Modi has consistently raised hopes that he'd fix the economy and create enough jobs for the 12 million youths who join the country's workforce each year.

six years after riding a wave of optimism into office, India's economy is a shattered mess, with gross domestic product expected to contract for the first time in four decades and unemployment at an all-time high. None of the major growth engines -- consumption, private investment, or exports -- are firing. Worse, the government doesn't have the capacity to try and spend its way out of the downturn.

Managing the economy hasn't been Modi's only fumble. After promising to rein in corruption, Modi approved a disastrous banknote demonetization scheme aimed at eradicating the black market economy and clamping down on tax evasion. In addition to the chaos it created, the scheme ruined the prospects of hundreds of thousands of farmers and small to medium enterprise owners, the two sectors which relied most on cash transactions. While supporters insist the adverse impact of the note ban was short-term, the supposed long-term gains in the fight against corruption remain a pipe dream.

Then came the introduction of a nationwide goods and services tax, which, weakened by inconsistent rates and a plethora of exemptions, hasn't been the game changer voters were promised. Instead of creating a seamless market of 1.3 billion people that businesses could tap to grow faster, it's been a compliance nightmare. In other words, Modi's attempts to use the note ban and the GST to help clean up the Indian economy have actually dampened India's growth prospects.
Riaz Haq said…
#Coronavirus Crisis Shatters #India’s Big Dreams of middle-class lifestyle for its people, powerful military and global superpower status that could someday rival #China. #Modi's #lockdown-and-scatter policy being blamed for it. #BJP #COVID19 #economy https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/world/asia/india-economy-coronavirus.html?smid=tw-share

A sense of malaise is creeping over the nation. Its economic growth was slowing even before the pandemic. Social divisions are widening. Anti-Muslim feelings are on the rise, partly because of a malicious social media campaign that falsely blamed Muslims for spreading the virus. China is increasingly muscling into Indian territory.

Scholars use many of the same words when contemplating India today: Lost. Listless. Wounded. Rudderless. Unjust.

“The engine has been smashed,” said Arundhati Roy, one of India’s pre-eminent writers. “The ability to survive has been smashed. And the pieces are all up in the air. You don’t know where they are going to fall or how they are going to fall.”

In a recent episode of his weekly radio show, Mr. Modi acknowledged that India was “fighting on many fronts.” He urged Indians to maintain social distancing, wear masks and keep “hale and hearty.”

India still has strengths. It has a huge, young work force and oodles of tech geniuses. It represents a possible alternative to China at a time when the United States and much of the rest of the world is realigning itself away from Beijing.

But its stature in the world is slipping. Last quarter the Indian economy shrank by 24 percent, while China’s is growing again. Economists say India risks losing its place as the world’s fifth largest economy, behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

“This is probably the worst situation India has been in since independence,” said Jayati Ghosh, a development economist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “People have no money. Investors aren’t going to invest if there is no market. And the costs have gone up for most production.”

Many neighborhoods in the capital of New Delhi where low-paid workers used to live are deserted, shell-like, a hot wind blowing through empty, tin-walled shacks. A few years ago, when the economy was expanding at a 9 percent clip, it was difficult to find a place here to rent.

When Mr. Modi was swept to power in 2014 on a tide of Hindu nationalism, many Indians felt their nation had finally found the forceful leader to match their aspirations.

But Mr. Modi has concentrated his energies on divisive ideological projects, like a new citizenship law that blatantly discriminates against Muslims or tightening the government’s grip over the mostly Muslim region of Kashmir.

Quarter by quarter, India’s economic growth rate has been dropping, from 8 percent in 2016 to 4 percent right before the pandemic. Four percent would be respectable for a developed country like the United States. But in India, that level is no match for the millions of young people streaming into the work force each year, hungry for their first job.

Many of the complaints that investors make about India — the cumbersome land policies, the restrictive labor laws, the red tape — predate Mr. Modi. But his confidence and absolutism, the same qualities that appealed to many voters, may have added to the problems.

Four years ago he suddenly wiped out nearly 90 percent of India’s paper currency to tamp down corruption and encourage digital payments. While economists cheered both goals, they say the way Mr. Modi sprang this move on India did long-lasting damage to the economy.

That impulsiveness emerged again when the coronavirus struck. On March 24, at 8 p.m., after ordering all Indians to stay indoors, Mr. Modi shut down the economy — offices, factories, roads, trains, borders between states, just about everything — with four hours’ notice.

Tens of millions of Indians lost their jobs instantly. Many worked in factories or on construction sites or in urban homes, but they were migrants from rural India.

Riaz Haq said…
#Modi seems oblivious to what his Finance Minister has publicly admitted. There could be war with #China, the #economy could totally collapse, young, jobless #Indians could soon take to the streets out of desperation. #India #COVIDー19 https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-india-economy-slowdown-china-border-tavleen-singh-6584632/ via @IndianExpress

Life in our dear Bharat Mata can sometimes seem more surreal than real. Last week we saw surrealism totally subsume reality. It began with the official release of a video of the Prime Minister, in Rishi mode, strolling solemnly in his garden as peacocks frolicked and danced and ate birdseed from the hands of our leader. Who would have thought watching the Prime Minister in his garden that hours later would come the horrible news that the economy has shrunk by 23.9 per cent India has done worse than any other G20 country. This is attributed to that brutal first lockdown being imposed without warning.

The surreal element of this awful news is that the Prime Minister then addressed the US-India Strategic Partnership and said all was well. He urged investors to bring their money to India because of the boundless opportunities for investment that exist. He said, “You have a government that believes in delivering results. A government for which ease of living is as important as ease of doing business.” The truth is that neither is living easy nor doing business. Modi seems oblivious to what his Finance Minister has publicly admitted. Things were bad, she said, but what had happened was ‘an act of God’.

Wrong, Madame, quite wrong. The economy was showing such serious signs of contraction before Covid arrived, that economists evoked memories of those dark decades when the Indian economy was mocked for growing at ‘the Hindu rate of growth’. The economy was doing badly because since his second term began Narendra Modi has concentrated on political matters such as abrogating Article 370 and ramming through that discriminatory amendment to our citizenship law. Both decisions have failed in their separate ways. The Kashmiri people are more alienated than ever before from India, and jihadi violence continues despite the Valley having been under curfew for more than a year. As for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), it has made most Indian Muslims feel as if they are lesser citizens than their Hindu brethren. No amount of soothing words from Modi will erase the memory of the Home Minister describing illegal immigrants from Bangladesh as ‘termites’.


To return to the surreal quality of the week gone by, may I say that the media played its own part in this. With the terrible economic news and the bad news from Ladakh you would think that there would be an end to the obsession with Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. The highest investigative agencies are now examining whether he committed suicide or was murdered, so there is no need for senior TV anchors to behave like bloodhounds waiting for the kill. Alas, the hunt goes on and seems to turn uglier and uglier. On the morning that I write this I switched from channel to channel in English and Hindi and the main story was this venomous hunt.

There could be war with China, the economy could totally collapse, young, jobless Indians could soon take to the streets out of desperation but the only thing that seems to bother our ‘investigative’ TV reporters is the tragic death of a Bollywood star. They have turned the heartbreaking death of a talented young star into a tawdry circus. Indian journalism has never stooped this low.

Riaz Haq said…
Goldman Sachs projects deeper recession for #India in FY21 with #GDP contraction of 14.8% against its earlier estimate of 11.8% dip in #economic activity. India’s #economy shrank 23.9% in June quarter. #Modi #BJP #COVID19 https://www.livemint.com/news/india/goldman-sachs-projects-deeper-recession-for-india-in-fy21-11599565479963.html

Investment bank Goldman Sachs on Tuesday said it expects Indian economy to undergo a deeper recession in FY21 with a contraction of 14.8% against its earlier estimate of 11.8% dip in economic activity.

“In light of the Q2 (June quarter) GDP report, we are making further significant adjustments to our GDP forecasts for India. We now forecast Q3 (September quarter) 2020, and Q4 (December quarter) 2020 at GDP growth of -13.7% yoy and -9.8% yoy, respectively (compared to -10.7% yoy and -6.7% yoy previously). Our estimates imply that real GDP falls by 11.1% in calendar year 2020, and by 14.8% in FY21 (vs growth of -9.6%, and -11.8% in our previous forecasts)," the investment bank said in a research note.

India’s economy contracted 23.9% in June quarter, worst among the G20 countries and significantly below expectation of most economists. The stringent nationwide pandemic-induced lockdown created a double whammy through both a supply and demand shock as businesses shut down operations and consumers were forced to stay home.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian #startup valuations uncertain amid uncertainty about more #Chinese investments. #China has already invested in 18 of India's 30 #unicorns that include food delivery apps, a ride-hailing app, a hotel chain & #edtech startup. #technology #Ladakh https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-54085830

Indian start-ups, still reeling from the effects of a global pandemic, are now faced with a fresh challenge: the ongoing military standoff between Delhi and Beijing.
India has been on an economic offensive since June, when a border clash in the Himalayan region of Ladakh left 20 Indian soldiers dead. The two sides have since accused each other of violating the border consensus, and tensions have been rising.
Chinese companies have already invested in 18 of India's 30 unicorns - technology companies with a valuation of over $1bn (£772m). The list spans popular food delivery apps, a taxi aggregator, a hotel chain and a company that offers e-learning programmes.
But now their fate - and that of start-ups that were hoping to attract Chinese money in the future - looks uncertain.
“Clearly one big source of capital has vanished,” Haresh Chawla, partner at True North, a private equity firm, said.
“The ecosystem is likely to see muted valuations and slower deal flows, since they [Chinese] were very active, especially in the mobile and consumer segment of the market.”
Delhi has already banned more than 200 Chinese apps, including hugely popular ones such as TikTok and PUBG. It also proscribed investment from China in highway projects and small and medium enterprises. And “boycott China” has become a loud rallying cry.

But all of this came on the heels of something bigger - in April, India introduced tighter foreign direct investment rules to prevent hostile takeovers during the pandemic.
The result has had an outsized impact on India’s capital hungry start-ups.
A decade ago, Chinese investment in India was negligible.
But data obtained by the BBC from start-up research firm Tracxn shows that 35 Chinese corporations and 85 venture capital and private equity firms have invested over $4bn in major Indian start-ups including PayTM, Snapdeal and Swiggy since 2010.
Chinese investment into India as a share of foreign direct investment has more than doubled during this period, from 5% to 11%.
India may have refused to sign up to Beijing’s multi-billion Belt and Road Initiative – a mammoth infrastructure project of overland and maritime routes, often called the modern Silk Route.
But the country “has unwittingly signed up for the virtual corridor,” Gateway House, a think tank, observed in a recent report.
“The impact is unlikely to be dramatic on early-stage investments," Mr Chawla said. "There is enough dry powder with many VCs to shepherd firms through.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's supply chain fantasies will not save #India's failing #economy. #Japan's SCRI offers a way to counter #China's dominance of global #manufacturing but #Delhi's ill-prepared for it, writes Ritesh Kumar Singh, chief economist of Indonomics Consulting https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Modi-s-supply-chain-fantasies-will-not-save-India-s-failing-economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been busy reminding the world, again, that he remains clueless when it comes to securing India's long-term economic future.

The issue this time is trying to reduce India's dependence on China by teaming up with Australia to join Japan's proposed Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, or SCRI.

It's not a bad idea, in theory. Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 have underscored the risks associated with excessively relying on China, and provided the perfect opportunity for India to present itself as the world's next best manufacturing hub as more and more countries and corporations seek to limit their China exposure.

Given this backdrop, Japan's SCRI proposal offers a way to counter China's dominance of global manufacturing. Plans to invite the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and probably the U.S., which is engaged in an intensifying trade and tech war with Beijing, would further strengthen the initiative.

But joining Japan's SCRI is not just a matter of flicking a switch. Integrating with the Japanese or Australian economies will be no easy task, not to mention the U.S. and ASEAN. Overcoming the challenges required will involve a deep commitment not only from India, but Japan and Australia as well.

Has Modi forgotten India's recent experience, where freer trade with Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN bloc has resulted in more imports than exports? Despite a full-fledged free-trade agreement with Japan, India's apparel exporters say they are still effectively denied preferential access to Japan's market. Pharmaceutical companies complain that slow regulatory approvals are acting as non-tariff barriers.

India has had a similar experience in Southeast Asia, where its trade deficit with ASEAN has risen from $5 billion in 2011 to $24 billion last year. And despite India signing a free-trade agreement on services with ASEAN, it doesn't benefit Indian services companies all that much, especially those in software development and information technology.

India has its own protection problems too. After raising import duties on 3,600 tariff lines since 2014, more and more goods are being added to its restricted import list. India's excessive cane and sugar subsidies have made it difficult for Australia to compete in international markets, forcing it to take India to the World Trade Organization. Japan, along with Taiwan, has already filed a separate WTO case after India raised its import duties on information and communications technology products.

Trying to involve the U.S. -- the world's largest economy and top importer -- in any alternative supply chain initiative makes sense because it will expand the size of the market needed to help manufacturers reap the benefits of economies of scale. But that's easier said than done.

After nearly four years of President Donald Trump complaining about the size of the U.S. trade deficit, Washington is clearly not in the mood to join an alternative alliance that would lead to it importing even more goods and services. Even a limited India-U. S. trade deal has proved elusive, with Trump demanding improved access for American merchandise, agriculture, and dairy products that no Indian politician can afford to give. Besides, if the U.S. joined the SCRI, it would likely insist on tighter rules on intellectual property, extensive labor law reform, and a range of environment and investment protections that would be difficult for India to comply with.

Riaz Haq said…
#India's #coronavirus infections surge to 5.4 million with 92,605 new infections in 24 hours. India lags behind only the #US, which has 6.7 million cases. A total of 1,113 people died of #COVID19 in the last 24 hours, taking total mortalities to 86,752.

India’s coronavirus case tally surged to 5.4 million as it added 92,605 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Sunday.

The country has posted the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, and lags behind only the United States, which has 6.7 million cases in terms of total infections.

A total of 1,113 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said, taking mortalities to 86,752, which is a relatively low 1.6% of all cases.
Riaz Haq said…
‘Buses are packed, as are shops and markets’: #India’s rising #COVID-19 approaching cases in #US. Life alternates between slender hope & looming despair, with people uncertain of being alive tomorrow, yet thronging fish markets bereft of mask & distancing https://www.marketwatch.com/story/buses-are-packed-as-are-shops-and-markets-indias-rising-covid-19-infections-are-rapidly-catching-up-with-the-us-2020-09-23?reflink=mw_share_twitter

Atul Thakur, referring to major Hindu festivals occurring in October and November, poses that question in the Times of India. He is not talking about primacy in economic growth. Rather, he refers to the number of COVID-19 infections and the pace of their increase, which are likely to catapult India ahead of the U.S. by mid-September, conferring the dubious distinction of being the worst-affected nation on the planet.

With Unlock 4 having commenced and most institutions and services back in full-fledged operation, infections too are going through the roof, having increased by 1.5 million in the first 17 days of September. While permitting the reopening of transport, temples, gyms, businesses, industries, malls and wine shops, the government has run the gamut from total lockdown to near-normalcy.

Of course, government relaxation notifications stipulate “subject to SOP” (use of masks, social distancing, etc.), thereby absolving it of any blame for the rising death toll and knowing full well that adherence cannot be ensured or enforced.

Predictably, buses are packed, as are shops and wholesale vegetable and fish markets, with people shopping as if there is no tomorrow, which is a very real possibility. Many do not wear a mask and the less said about social distancing, the better. The police have mopped up a tidy sum by way of fines for mask-wearing noncompliance, though social distancing is not being enforced.

By now, the coronavirus has become a stark reality, with many people losing one of their family members, neighbors, friends or acquaintances to the infection. Last week, the block of flats both to the left and right of my own bore banners from the Pallavaram Municipality, cautioning of homes under quarantine due to COVID-19. Yet the realization of “It could be me tomorrow” doesn’t seem to have dawned on most.

One wonders whether this is the innate arrogance of man, who considers himself invincible enough to triumph over nature and disease, or just ignorance, plain and simple. India has reported more than 5.6 million cases, just behind 6.9 million confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday, and more than 90,000 deaths, still less than half the 200,000-plus COVID-related deaths in the U.S.

While malls, gyms and shops are crowded, temples — especially the smaller ones — still find visitors few and far between. “Hardly anyone drops in, though the temple is now open for several hours,” says Sri Jagannatha Bhattachariar, a priest of one of the smaller shrines in Chrompet, Chennai. It makes you wonder whether people have at last found God within themselves, rather than search for Him in shrines.

Rural and indigent pupils find it difficult not only to afford the devices required for online classes, but also to comprehend them fully, and some have died by suicide. And while the lockdown did provide people the opportunity to spend quality time with their families, cases of domestic violence have also been on the rise.
Riaz Haq said…
In #India, engineers and MBAs are turning to manual labor to survive the #economic crash amid #COVID19 . “If I don’t work, we don’t get to eat,” said Bawge, flicking beads of sweat from his brow. “Hunger trumps any aspiration.”


On a recent muggy afternoon in southern India, Earappa Bawge hacked at the ground with a pickax, his white shirt pasted to his back. Each dull thud reminded him of how far his hopes had fallen.

Just months ago, the 27-year-old engineer was poring over project files in an air-conditioned room at a factory hundreds of miles away. The job was a ticket out of rural poverty for Bawge’s entire family, who had sacrificed for years so he could complete his studies.

Now he was back in the village where he was born, propelled by a wave of economic destruction rolling across India during the pandemic. To survive, Bawge began digging ditches under a public works program. Alongside him were a former bank employee, a veterinarian and three MBA students. At the end of the day, each received $3.70.

“If I don’t work, we don’t get to eat,” said Bawge, flicking beads of sweat from his brow. “Hunger trumps any aspiration.”

As India’s economy reels in the aftermath of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, a rural employment program has emerged as a lifeline for some of the tens of millions left jobless. The government program — which aims to guarantee 100 days of unskilled work in rural areas — was intended to combat poverty and reduce the volatility of agricultural wages. Now it is a potent symbol of how the middle-class dreams of millions of Indians are unraveling.


India Is Expected To Surpass The #US In Reported #Coronavirus Cases Soon. #India has more new cases daily than any other country but #Modi is still reopening #economy, making the #pandemic worse. #COVID19 https://www.npr.org/2020/09/24/916625401/india-is-expected-to-surpass-the-u-s-in-reported-coronavirus-cases-soon?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social
Riaz Haq said…
#COVID19 in #India: false optimism amid rapidly rising cases & continuing relaxation of #Modi's lockdown that created a parallel crisis as incomes fell dramatically, hunger increased, and migrant workers walked long distances home. #economy #coronavirus https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32001-8/fulltext#.X24HL0t2N-c.twitter

Despite a strong response at the outset of the pandemic, as of Sept 22, India has the world's fastest growing outbreak of COVID-19 in absolute numbers according to WHO, reporting more than 5·6 million infections. Restrictions began to be lifted in June, and this relaxation has continued in the face of a continuing dramatic increase in case numbers nationally. Beneath these alarming national figures, the pattern of spread in India is nuanced and complex, with marked differences between states, and between rural and urban areas. For example, cities like Kolkata and rural areas in the north of India were relatively spared the outbreak initially, whereas Delhi, with strong international connections, was at the forefront of the first wave. Even so, India is clearly facing a dangerous period.
The country has responded well in many regards, especially for such a large and diverse nation. India instigated a national lockdown in March, which was praised by WHO. During the lockdown period, tertiary care provision was increased, including access to specialist equipment such as ventilators. Testing numbers also increased quickly, with India being among the first to roll out innovations like pooled testing. India has also been at the forefront of efforts to develop and manufacture a vaccine, both through domestic vaccine candidates and manufacturers such as the Serum Institute of India preparing production capacity for internationally developed vaccine candidates.


According to news reports, hours before announcing the national lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told owners and editors from India's largest media organisations that it was important to tackle the spread of pessimism, negativity, and rumour. This pressure to avoid negative news, and to offer reassurance, appears to have been felt by several professional scientific organisations in India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been singled out by experts for straying from scientific evidence, appearing at worst politically motivated and at best overly optimistic. A letter from the Director General of the ICMR, Balram Bhargava, said that the ICMR envisaged launching a coronavirus vaccine on Aug 15 (Indian Independence Day; a deadline considered unrealistic by most medical experts); ICMR has supported treatment with hydroxychloroquine despite insufficient evidence; and news reports claim that data on coronavirus infection were removed from a scientific paper.
Transparency of the data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, especially those underpinning the case fatality rate, has also been questioned, as detailed in a recent World Report. The Indian Government reports a case fatality rate of 1·8%, much lower than the reported rate in other countries, but it is difficult to know if the numbers are comparable.
Riaz Haq said…
Harley-Davidson to close #India factory, another blow to #Modi's #MakeInIndia. #US #automobile companies Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) have both cut back operations in India in recent years. #COVID19 #economy #coronavirus #BJP https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/25/business/harley-davidson-india-exit/index.html

Harley-Davidson is retreating from India, calling time on a decade-long attempt to break into the world's biggest motorcycle market.

The company said in a statement on Thursday that it will close its Bawal factory in northern India and "significantly reduce" the size of its sales office in Gurgaon, near Delhi. Dealers will serve customers through the end of their contracts and the company is exploring ways to continue to sell its iconic motorbikes in the country.

India is the world's biggest market for motorcycles and scooters, with more than 17 million sold last year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Two-wheelers are by far the most popular means of transport in the country, which was also until recently one of the fastest growing markets for cars.
When Harley-Davidson (HOG) entered India in 2010, it was the second-fastest growing two-wheeler market in the world behind China. But its 33 dealers have collectively sold just 25,000 motorcycles since then, according to the company. Its business has struggled with high import duties and sales taxes, which have been repeatedly criticized by President Donald Trump.

News of the company's retreat will come as a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hopes of attracting more foreign investment and broadening India's manufacturing base. Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) have both cut back operations in India in recent years.
The withdrawal is part of an overhaul that Harley-Davidson (HOG) unveiled in July, which will see it streamline models and focus its energy on North America, Europe and parts of Asia Pacific. "A total rewire is necessary to make Harley-Davidson a high-performance company," CEO Jochen Zeitz said in a statement at the time. The company was battling a slump in sales even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, which has further dented demand for luxury goods.

Riaz Haq said…
#Indians & #CentralAsians Are the New Face of #ISIS. This comes in the context #Modi's #Hindu nationalist narrative that is openly anti-#Muslims. There has also been a notable uptick in jihadist propaganda against #India. #BJP #Islamophobia #Hindutva https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/08/isis-indian-kyrgyzstan-tajikistan-uzbekistan-central-asians-are-the-new-face-of-islamic-state/

India’s history of jihadism goes back even further. The country was the birthplace of the Deobandi movement, a sect that was a source of ideas for the Taliban among others. And the conflict in Kashmir has long been held up by extremist groups as one of the world’s most long-standing unresolved jihadi conflicts. While most Kashmiris are nationalists furious at New Delhi, their conflict is one that is regularly adopted as a rallying cry by extremists who point to it as one of the many places where Muslims are being abused.

Yet notwithstanding this heritage, neither India nor Central Asia has historically produced many figures in the international jihadist movement, launching attacks far from their borders. Indians have stayed involved in networks in India, or occasionally Pakistan. Central Asians have shown up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but rarely farther afield. That is changing.

This comes in the context of a tense political environment. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advanced a series of policies promoting a Hindu nationalist narrative openly hostile toward Muslims. There has since been a notable uptick in jihadist propaganda toward India. In Central Asia, governments may not be stoking the same fires, but there has been an active pursuit of political opponents across the region. While there are numerous programs in place seeking to counter violent extremism, it is not always clear how effective they are, nor is it clear they are able to deal with problems of radicalization amongst diaspora communities.

And there is the continuing question of what will happen to the fighters from these countries who went to Syria and Iraq. Some may try to come home, but others may end up fostering new networks which create problems elsewhere.

The danger is that there may be an increasing number of Indian and Central Asian links to plots outside their regions. Earlier this year, German authorities disrupted a network of Tajiks linked to cells in Albania and in contact with the Islamic State in both Afghanistan and Syria. They were reportedly under orders to launch an attack in Europe. Other Central Asian cells have been reportedly disrupted across Europe, and authorities in Ukraine have made numerous arrests of fighters fleeing the collapsing battlefield in Syria.

India has seen less such activity, though there were Indian links to the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter attacks. Like many violent Islamist extremists, a Southern Indian cell involved appears to have followed the sermons of Indian prominent extremist preacher Zakir Naik, whose speeches have helped radicalize numerous different jihadists around the world.

Most of the current attention on new terrorist groups focuses on the extreme right—something that is understandable given the deeply polarized political environment in the western world. But violent Islamist threats have not gone away, and are transforming. The story of Central Asian and Indian jihadism is one that has historically received too little attention. Emerging from domestic environments that are creating more opportunities for disenfranchisement and radicalization to take place, they are exactly the sort of threats which may slip under the radar until it is too late.
Riaz Haq said…
The Next #China? #India Must First Beat #Bangladesh. India’s #COVID19 #economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita gross domestic product (#GDP) may be lower for 2020 than in neighboring Bangladesh https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/the-next-china-india-must-first-beat-bangladesh/2020/10/16/e228a854-1014-11eb-b404-8d1e675ec701_story.html?tid=ss_tw


Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts its global image. The West wants a meaningful counterweight to China, but that partnership will be predicated on India not getting stuck in a lower-middle-income trap.


Consider first the exceptionalism of India’s growth. Bangladesh is doing well because it’s following the path of previous Asian tigers. Its slice of low-skilled goods exports is in line with its share of poor-country working-age population. Vietnam is punching slightly above its weight. But basically, both are taking a leaf out of China’s playbook. The People’s Republic held on to high GDP growth for decades by carving out for itself a far bigger dominance of low-skilled goods manufacturing than warranted by the size of its labor pool.

India, however, has gone the other way, choosing not to produce the things that could have absorbed its working-age population of 1 billion into factory jobs. “India’s missing production in the key low-skill textiles and clothing sector amounts to $140 billion, which is about 5% of India’s GDP,” the authors say.

If half of India’s computer software exports in 2019 ceased to exist, there would be a furor. But that $60 billion loss would have been the same as the foregone exports annually from low-skill production. It’s real, and yet nobody wants to talk about it. Policymakers don’t want to acknowledge that the shoes and apparel factories that were never born — or were forced to close down — could also have earned dollars and created mass employment. They would have provided a pathway for permanent rural-to-urban migration in a way that jobs that require higher levels of education and training never can. Bangladesh has two out of five women of working age in the labor force, double India’s 21% participation rate.

Riaz Haq said…
"India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history," as per the article titled 'Economic Activity Index', authored by Pankaj Kumar of the Monetary Policy Department. ... The RBI has estimated that the economy will contract by 9.5 per cent for the full fiscal year.


India's GDP growth is likely to have contracted 8.6 per cent in the second quarter this financial year, rendering the economy in a state of recession, the first ever published 'nowcast' report of the RBI said. This means that India will enter into a recession for the first time in history in the first half of this fiscal with two successive quarters of negative growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history," as per the article titled 'Economic Activity Index', authored by Pankaj Kumar of the Monetary Policy Department. 

A recession is a period of declining economic performance across an entire economy that lasts for several months. A recession is defined as two successive quarters of decline. India's economy had shrunk about 24 per cent in the first quarter ended June. 

Researchers have used the 'nowcasting' method to arrive at the estimates ahead of the official release of data and their views in an article in RBI's monthly bulletin released on Wednesday do not constitute the central bank's views. ‘Nowcasting’ is the prediction of the present or the very near future of the state of the economy. 

The government is due to publish official statistics on November 27. 

The pandemic-induced lockdowns had led to a steep contraction of 23.9 per cent in the GDP for the April-June quarter as compared to the same period a year ago. The RBI has estimated that the economy will contract by 9.5 per cent for the full fiscal year.

It, however, added that the contraction is "ebbing with gradual normalisation in activities and expected to be short-lived." The economy will break out of contraction of the six months gone by and return to positive growth in the October-December quarter of 2020-21. Incoming data for the month of October 2020 have brightened prospects and stirred up consumer and business confidence, it said.

“With the momentum of September having been sustained, there is optimism that the revival of economic activity is stronger than the mere satiation of pent-up demand released by unlocks and the rebuilding of inventories. If this upturn is sustained in the ensuing two months, there is a strong likelihood that the Indian economy will break out of contraction of the six months gone by and return to positive growth in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020-21,” it said.

The index is constructed from 27 monthly indicators using a dynamic factor model and suggests that the economy rebounded sharply from May/June 2020 with the reopening of the economy, with industry normalising faster than contact-intensive service sectors, it said. The economic activity index can be used to gauge directional movements in GDP growth well ahead of official releases, it said.

The article said despite the raging pandemic, preliminary estimates are showing a jump in household financial savings to 21.4 per cent of GDP for the June quarter, as against 7.9 per cent in the June 2019 quarter and 10 per cent in the immediately preceding March 2020 quarter. "The sharp increase is counter-seasonal and may be attributed to the COVID-19-led reduction in discretionary expenditure or the associated forced saving and the surge in precautionary saving despite stagnant/reduced income," it said.

Riaz Haq said…
#India’s ruling #BJP party invents a #Muslim plot against #Hindu women, accuses #Muslims of being rapists, rails against interfaith marriages, warns against "Love Jihad". #Modi #Islamophobia #hate #lovejihaad https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/11/19/indias-ruling-party-invents-a-muslim-plot-against-hindu-women

The ORGANISER, an English-language weekly that is a mouthpiece for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the century-old flagship of India’s swelling armada of Hindu nationalist groups, is in no doubt about the dangers of “love jihad”. The luring of good Hindu girls into marriage and conversion is only the first phase of a broader Muslim plot, asserts a recent article. The second stage is rape jihad, “a more unequivocal operation in which non-Muslim girls or women are raped and subsequently killed in many cases”. The third and final stage? Mass rape and ethnic cleansing.

Such ravings are not confined to the fringes of politics. Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest whose day job is running Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, proclaimed in October that those who practise “love jihad” should mend their ways or plan their funerals. So far five Indian states, all ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), have enacted or are considering laws against love jihad. On November 17th, for instance, the government of Madhya Pradesh announced a “Freedom of Religion” bill. This would punish any form of matrimonial trickery for the purpose of conversion to Islam with five years in prison.
The spectre of “our” innocent womanhood being preyed upon by “their” boys is not new. Hindu nationalists depict the long period of Muslim rule as a prolonged violation of “Mother India”. During national elections in 2014, the head of the bjp in Uttar Pradesh repeatedly asserted, entirely falsely, that Muslims, who make up 19% of the state’s 225m people, were responsible for 99% of rapes. The Election Commission chastised another bjp leader, Amit Shah, for describing the vote as a chance for Hindus to avenge violations of their women. He is now India’s home minister.
Replying to a parliamentary question in February, one of Mr Shah’s deputies admitted that there were no known cases of “love jihad” in the state of Kerala, at least. Journalists with ndtv, a news channel, found that even in Uttar Pradesh, a police team created in August to crack down on “love jihad” had already dropped seven of the 14 cases it had opened, for lack of evidence. Yet Tanishq, a fancy jewellery brand owned by the Tata group, one of India’s biggest firms, recently felt obliged to withdraw a television commercial portraying a happy interfaith marriage.
Indians rarely marry outside their caste, let alone their religion. The law that allows interfaith marriages is hedged with clauses that permit parents, bureaucrats and other outsiders to interfere. Courts have often seemed keener to uphold patriarchal ideas than to apply secular laws or give women freedom to choose. For India’s 200m Muslims, it is another affront. As one lamented on Twitter: “You can’t criticise, you’re anti-national…You can’t protest, you’re terrorists. You can’t fall in love, it’s ‘Jihad’.”
Riaz Haq said…
Rebooting Economy 41: India's growing poverty and hunger nobody talks about

Latest estimate from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports - World Economic Outlook: A Long and Difficult Ascent, October 2020 and Fiscal Monitor: Policies for the Recovery, October 2020- shows that 90 million people globally would slip into "extreme poverty" (surviving on $1.9 a day) due to the pandemic. This is in line with the World Bank's June 2020 estimate ("Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19") which estimated 70-100 million to slip into extreme poverty.


Earlier this month, the Global Hunger Index 2020 report ranked India at 94 (of 107 it mapped for the 2020 report), far below neighbouring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This index is based on four component indicators: (i) undernourishment (insufficient caloric intake) (ii) child wasting (under 5 years) (iii) child stunting (under 5 years) and (iv) child mortality (under 5 years).

India's progress has been very tardy compared to its neighbours as the following graph shows. Its "child wasting" (low weight for age reflecting acute undernourishment) and "child stunting" (low weight for age reflecting chronic under-nutrition) is particularly poor. The hunger index scores are measured on a scale of 0-100, where '0' represents zero hunger.


The inept and callous handling of the pandemic and the untimely and unplanned lockdown has jolted India like no other country. Its GDP growth for the April-June 2020 quarter tanked to minus 23.9% - the highest among major economies. The RBI estimates the GDP growth for the entire fiscal to be minus 9.5%, as against the IMF's estimate of minus 10.3%, while its global average is estimated to be minus 4%. (To know why read "Rebooting Economy 37: Do high-frequency data suggest V-shaped recovery? ")
Also Read: Rebooting Economy VIII: COVID-19 pandemic could push millions of Indians into poverty and hunger

India would account for 40 million of the 90 million the IMF says would turn extremely poor or 44.4% of all. The following graph from the IMF's Fiscal Monitor report shows that in India (extreme left), their number would rise from 80 million in 2018 to 120 million in 2020.


Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Economy Shrinks Sharply as #COVID19 Slams it. #China has come roaring back, #US , #Europe & Japan are finding their feet but

India’s economy shrank 7.5% last quarter on top 24% decline in previous quarter. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva |The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/27/business/economy/india-economy-covid-19.html

“India was expected to really step into China’s shoes and give that additional boost to globalization that was missing,” said Priyanka Kishore, head of South Asia at Oxford Economics. “And that’s where India didn’t really play out the role it was largely expected to play, and that role seems to be diminishing more and more.”


An estimated 140 million people lost their jobs after India locked down its economy in March to stop the outbreak, while many others saw their salaries drastically reduced, the Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy said. As the lockdown was eased, many went back to work, but more than six million people who lost jobs haven’t found new employment.

In a June survey by the All India Manufacturers Organization, about one-third of small and medium-sized enterprises indicated that their businesses were beyond saving. The industry group said that such a “mass destruction of business” was unprecedented.


Just a few years ago, India, with a population of 1.3 billion people, was one of the world’s fastest-growing large economies. It regularly clocked growth of 8 percent or more.

Global businesses began to warm to the idea of India as a potential substitute to China, both as a place to make goods and to sell them. China’s costs are rising, and its trade war with the United States has complicated doing business there. The Chinese Communist Party is increasingly intruding into business matters, and local Chinese competitors have upped their game against international brands.

But India’s economy was facing headwinds well before the pandemic. Between April and December 2019, G.D.P. grew only 4.6 percent.


One of Mr. Modi’s policies, called demonetization, banned large currency notes overnight in an effort to crack down on tax avoidance and money laundering. Under another, India replaced its welter of national and state taxes with a single value-added tax, in part to cut down on corruption among tax collectors.

Mr. Modi also increasingly turned India’s industrial policy inward, which many economists say has hurt overall growth. The country has long nurtured some of the steepest trade barriers of any major economy, to help its domestic industries develop. Mr. Modi added to that in areas like electronics. His government has also tightened rules around e-commerce, to assist Indian businesses that compete with companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart.
“The slowdown,” said Ms. Kishore, “is almost homegrown.”

Riaz Haq said…
#India's #economy is shrinking, and tens of millions of Indians have lost jobs or sunk into poverty. But #Modi's friend Gautam Adani’s personal wealth has more than doubled to $32b. Mukesh Ambani’s fortune has grown 25% to $75b. #Inequality #COVID19 #BJP https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/12/05/indias-super-rich-are-getting-much-richer


Some of India’s tycoons have prospered because they have learned not just to weather unpredictability, but to game the system. That system, alas, is failing India’s poor. Measures of malnutrition and stunting reveal an alarming backward slide over the past year. The unemployment rate shows some recovery from the worst of the covid shock, but that fails to capture the astonishing bleakness of India’s labour market. Before covid hit, barely 40% of adults were in paid work, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, a research firm. Now only 36% are. The rest, including legions of housewives, see no point in even looking for a job.


Some people have almost all the luck. Over the past year, as India’s economy has shrunk by around a tenth and tens of millions of Indians have lost jobs or sunk into poverty, the fortunes of the country’s two richest people have swollen. Gautam Adani, whose conglomerate sprawls from ports to coal mines to food, has seen his personal wealth more than double, to some $32bn. Mukesh Ambani’s riches, which derive from oil refining, telecoms and retail, among other things, have grown by just 25%, albeit to an intimidating $75bn or so.

The share of wealth and income going to the top 1% has been rising rapidly in recent years in India, as it has been in many countries. Last year they hoovered up 21.4% of earnings, just ahead of their counterparts in Russia, according to the World Inequality Database. Credit Suisse, a bank, puts their share of India’s wealth at 39%, well ahead of the richest 1% of Americans or Chinese. Most alarmingly, in India some of the rich have become super-rich by using their heft to crush smaller competitors and thus corner multiple chunks of the economy. The tilt in fortunes has rewarded not so much technical innovation or productivity growth or the opening of new markets as the wielding of political influence and privileged access to capital to capture and protect existing markets.

Merely a decade ago, according to data compiled by Marcellus, an investment-advice firm, among listed firms in India the 20 most profitable generated less than a third of profits. They now account for 70%. A study by Krishna Kant, a journalist, reveals that between 2014 and 2018 competition within ten different industries, from aviation to tyres, deteriorated markedly.

Across Indian markets, only the shares of giant firms have gained consistently over the past decade, says Rohit Chandra of iit Delhi, a university. International investors have noticed, and now bet increasingly not on promising new firms but on big old ones, which they expect to get even bigger. The government boasts that the five months from April to August saw a record $36bn in foreign investment, suggesting that its wise policies have sustained confidence during the covid-19 epidemic. What it trumpets less loudly is that more than half of that money, including hefty investments from Facebook and Google, poured into Mr Ambani’s hands alone.

Riaz Haq said…
The Virus Trains: How #Modi's #Lockdown Chaos Spread #COVID19 Across #India. Emergency trains provided by #Indian government to carry stranded workers back to their home villages became vehicles for #coronavirus transmission to rural areas. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/15/world/asia/india-coronavirus-shramik-specials.html?smid=tw-share

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coronavirus restrictions sent migrant workers fleeing. To get them home, the government offered special trains. But the trains would spread the virus across the country.

India has now reported more coronavirus cases than any country besides the United States. And it has become clear that the special trains operated by the government to ease suffering — and to counteract a disastrous lack of lockdown planning — instead played a significant role in spreading the coronavirus into almost every corner of the country.

The trains became contagion zones: Every passenger was supposed to be screened for Covid-19 before boarding but few if any were tested. Social distancing, if promised, was nonexistent, as men pressed into passenger cars for journeys that could last days. Then the trains disgorged passengers into distant villages, in regions that before had few if any coronavirus cases.

One of those places was Ganjam, a lush, rural district on the Bay of Bengal, where the Behera brothers disembarked after their crowded trip from Surat. Untouched by the virus, Ganjam soon became one of India’s most heavily infected rural districts after the migrants started returning.

Many people in Ganjam’s villages had no idea what coronavirus symptoms were — until people around them started dying.

“There was a very direct correlation between the active Covid cases and the trains,” said Keerthi Vasan V., a district-level civil servant in Ganjam. “It was obvious that the returnees brought the virus.”

The tragic irony is that Mr. Modi’s lockdown inadvertently unlocked an exodus of tens of millions. His government and especially his Covid-19 task force, dominated by upper-caste Hindus, never adequately contemplated how shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would introduce desperation, then panic and then chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry.

A top economic adviser to Mr. Modi, Sanjeev Sanyal, confirmed that the administration had been aware of the risks posed by moving people from urban hot spots to rural areas but said that the situation had been managed “quite well.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Aid pours into #India from around the world as #Covid cases soar. Flights from #UK, #US, #EU, #Taiwan and #Uzbekistan have delivered hundreds of tonnes of supplies, with more expected in the coming days from Israel and elsewhere. #Modi
https://www.ft.com/content/3da16e0d-bc3e-4e8e-a4b3-fa88427f2f7a via @financialtimes

India had in the recent past refused to accept international relief, which it felt was not in keeping with its own self-image as an emerging global power.


Emergency medical aid is pouring into pandemic-stricken India from around the world as the government seeks to fend off criticism about the slow pace of dispatching supplies to hospitals and states in desperate need.

Dedicated relief flights from countries including the UK, the US, EU member states, Taiwan and Uzbekistan have delivered hundreds of tonnes of supplies, with more expected in the coming days from Israel and elsewhere.

The inflow of oxygen generators, concentrators and cylinders, as well as life-saving drugs and other medical equipment marks the first time India has accepted large-scale international humanitarian aid since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, reflecting the magnitude of the crisis.

In a statement on Tuesday, the central government said the authorities were working “24 x 7 to fast track and clear the goods on arrival”.

Riaz Haq said…
PM Modi: The Joke Indians are Not Allowed to Crack
4 April 2022, by THOMAS Rosamma


Parul Khakhar, a poet from Gujarat, posted a poem on Facebook in May, expressing her anguish at the sight of bodies flowing down the Ganges at the height of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. ‘Shav vahini Ganga’ – Ganges the Carrier of Corpses – was read widely, translated into several languages and shared on social media. The state government’s literary mouthpiece came down heavily on the poet, claiming it was “misuse of a poem for anarchy”.

Ganges, the Carrier of Corpses
Translated by Salil Tripathi
Don’t worry, be happy, in one voice speak the corpses
O King, in your Ram-Rajya, we see bodies flow in the Ganges
O King, the woods are ashes,
No spots remain at crematoria,
O King, there are no carers,
Nor any pall-bearers,
No mourners left
And we are bereft
With our wordless dirges of dysphoria
Libitina enters every home where she dances and then prances,
O King, in your Ram-Rajya, our bodies flow in the Ganges
O King, the melting chimney quivers, the virus has us shaken
O King, our bangles shatter, our heaving chest lies broken
The city burns as he fiddles, Billa-Ranga thrust their lances,
O King, in your Ram-Rajya, I see bodies flow in the Ganges
O King, your attire sparkles as you shine and glow and blaze
O King, this entire city has at last seen your real face
Show your guts, no ifs and buts,
Come out and shout and say it loud,
“The naked King is lame and weak”
Show me you are no longer meek,
Flames rise high and reach the sky, the furious city rages;
O King, in your Ram-Rajya, do you see bodies flow in the Ganges?


Riaz Haq said…
#UK #aid to #India does little for #humanrights and #democracy, watchdog finds. Aid Program spent £2.7bn between 2016 and 2021 but is fragmented and lacks a clear rationale. There's no programming related to democratic space, free media or human rights https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/mar/14/uk-aid-india-human-rights-democracy-watchdog?CMP=share_btn_tw

Britain’s aid programme to India is fragmented, lacks a clear rationale and does little to counter the negative trends in human rights and democracy in the country, the government’s aid watchdog has found.

The findings are likely to be used by those who claim the UK government risks using its aid programme to deepen its relationship with India, including seeking free trade deals, rather than attempting to reduce poverty, which is the statutory purpose of UK aid.

The review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact said the government spent £2.7bn on aid to India between 2016 and 2021, including the provision of loans by the government-run British International Investment to mainly smaller companies. In total, loans to India represent 28% of the BII global loan portfolio.

The review finds “the overall programme is fragmented across activities and spending channels and lacks a compelling development rationale”, particularly since India already has relatively developed financial markets.

The UK does not use its aid programme, enshrined in a joint roadmap signed by India and the UK in 2021, to support Indian democracy and human rights, despite backsliding in this area under the premiership of Narendra Modi, the review says.

The ICAI review group reported: “To explain the limited activity on democracy and human rights, Foreign Office officials noted India’s acute sensitivity to any external influence in its political affairs, particularly from the UK. They acknowledged that the UK and India have different perspectives in this area and described the roadmap as being based on shared interests, rather than shared values. They informed us that the UK engages in ‘quiet diplomacy’ on issues such as freedom of speech.”

On human rights the report finds the 2021 roadmap setting out India and the UK’s joint cooperation goals “does not include any objectives related to the promotion of democracy or human rights in India” and adds that “the UK has not been particularly active in India in this area in recent years, either in its aid programme or in its public diplomacy”.
Riaz Haq said…
#UK being taken for a ride! #India lands on #moon after taking £2.3bn in UK #aid over five years
The UK paid India £2.3billion in overseas aid to India between 2016 and 2021 - even though Britain's economy is a fraction of the size. #chandaryaan3 #Modi


14:25, Wed, Aug 23, 2023 | UPDATED: 21:21, Wed, Aug 23, 2023

On the day India landed a spacecraft near the south pole of the Moon, a Brexiteer has asked why Britain continues to pay foreign aid to the world's second-most populous nation - having handed over £2.3billion between 2016 and 2021.

On Wednesday (August 23), India landed a spacecraft in uncharted territory which scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements, as the country cements its growing reputation in space and technology.

However, while many, including the UK Space Agency (UKSA) itself, offered warm congratulations, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib was more concerned about the fact that Britain is still paying money to a nation whose economy dwarfs our own.

He told Express.co.uk: "It is odd, to put it mildly, that the UK gives increasing amounts of aid to India, a country with a space programme and an economy bigger than our own.

"Kemi Badenoch may think the aid will make her job getting a trade agreement easier, but it will not.

"They will take the aid, bank it and drive negotiations without any recognition of our generosity.

"Neither can the UK afford it. It should not have escaped the FCDO that we are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis. Our finances stretched.

"Instead of spraying aid around the world, perhaps HMG could instead cut our taxes?"

"People speak of the soft power that providing aid gives the UK. It is a quaint but wrong notion.

"The £100 million given to India over three years will do nothing for India, will not be recognised and will not improve the UK’s standing one jot.

"Like so much of government expenditure, our foreign aid is being wasted."

The £2.3 billion of aid spending between 2016 and 2021 consists of £441 million in bilateral aid, plus £1 billion of investments through BII, £129 million in FCDO investments, and £749 million through multilateral channels such as the World Bank, according to publicly avaiable figures.

Figures uncovered by the Taxpayers’ Alliance last year indicated Britain spent more than £112million in 2021 on foreign aid projects in India and Pakistan - where almost £12million went towards a scheme promoting various contraception methods.

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