Tuesday, November 9
"The announcement was at best a shrewd high impact low risk diplomatic gesture, an opportunity to surpass Bush’s Nuclear Deal moment and ensure reciprocal support from India on issues such as human rights in Myanmar or tougher sanctions on Iran. Obama’s support was followed by a call to India to take up more responsibility and reprimand for not speaking out against and condemning human right abuses."
Read more here.
Friday, October 22
"But neither the U.S, nor Pakistan can be really blamed for looking out for their own interests. Playing the victim and savior, and asking for money for being both at the same time, is what Pakistan does best. I think its leadership; its political and military institutions should be commended for efficiently training consecutive generations to fool the world with the same spiel! Other countries could learn a thing or two from Pakistan about consistent foreign policy."
Read more here.
Monday, August 30
"Being a regional/global power is not just about economic growth rates and size of the economies, it is also about understanding one’s regional/global responsibilities and fulfilling them efficiently. It is about being emphatic and generous to the enemy in need, while taking control of the situation; understanding one’s humanitarian responsibilities without losing sight of the opportunities that the situation presents. It is high time for regional powers to take charge and not expect the US to be the never-depleting relief bank."
Read the rest of the piece here.
Tuesday, August 17
Though it is not explicitly directed towards Indian IT companies, they would be one of the worst affected by the provision. Losses could run into millions of dollars for the bigger companies such as Infosys and TCS.The Indian side has retaliated by threatening to go to the WTO in protest against the protectionist move by the US. I, have a problem with that.
I sincerely believe that it is too soon for the move. The Indian side should first talk to the US and exhaust all bilateral avenues before going the WTO route. The proper way to go about it would be to sit down, analyze and draw up a plan of action in conjunction with the Indian companies that would be affected by the move. It is their business and their money that will be lost, and they are one of the most important stakeholders in the issue. The government is more of a facilitator. The effects on other aspects of bilateral trade and bilateral relations with the US should be carefully analyzed before taking any aggressive measures. The Indian side should have a serious conversation with the US and persuade it to change the provision. If talks fail, then taking the US to the WTO would be an option.
An important question that the Indian side needs to ask itself is, "Can the WTO really change things?" Organizations such as these are good for pressuring smaller countries with lesser clout. But would it really matter to the US if it was taken to the WTO for being protectionist? Even if the WTO were to ask the US to change its provision, would the US do it?
Another thing that puzzles me is the motive behind this desire to go to the WTO. Is it serious indignation and protest, or simply symbolism that the Indian government is interested in? As mentioned earlier, taking the US to the WTO cannot be expected to produce any significant effect. So then is the Indian government trying to show the world that it is not afraid to stand up against the US? Or is it putting up the show for its domestic US-hating/doubting allies?
I am all for standing up against the protectionist attitude of the US. But not at the cost of damaging diplomatic relations and goodwill. National interest comes first, and business, the kind that Indian IT companies generate, is a big part of it. But any protest registered against the US should be carefully planned for maximum effect and minimum damage to Indian interest. It should be remembered that the US, even with its economic recession, can afford to ignore Indian protests and wallow in its own arrogance. India can hope to affect US decisions by wielding the bilateral business/trade card, but the mutual dependence factor with a comparatively weaker Indian side should not be overlooked.
The US decision to hike H1-B visa fees is protectionist, punishes the wrong people for generating profitable business, and will most likely do more damage to US jobs and move them out of the country than the outsourcing haters would like to believe. Yet, it is still not the right time to approach the WTO against the US.
Tuesday, July 27
"The Indian Prime Minister should take this opportunity to extend support and guidance in conducting free and fair elections in Burma. As the largest and successful democracy in the region, India has the necessary experience and standing to do so. India could offer direct assistance/guidance in voter registration, ensuring security at voting booths, use of electronic voting machines, etc. It could also offer to be an external observer during the election process to oversee that the elections are held in a democratic, free and fair manner. It would help Burma’s image if it allows external observers into the process. Such constructive contribution by India to the democratic process would be of greater value than merely opposing the Burmese junta on principals."
Read the rest of the post here.
Thursday, July 15
The Indian Rupee now has its unique symbol - a confluence of the Roman ‘R’ and Indian (Devanagari script) ‘Ra’. The symbol was finalized yesterday by an Union Cabinet Committee.
Uday Kumar, the designer of the symbol explains the symbol, “My design is based on the Tricolour with two lines at the top and white space in between. I wanted the symbol for the Rupee to represent the Indian flag. It is a perfect blend of Indian and Roman letters: a capital ‘R’, and Devnagari ‘Ra’, which represent rupiya, to appeal to international and Indian audiences. After working onthe design for few months, I shortlisted eight to 10 designs and then refined them further till I got this one.”
My latest post on the Indian Rupee symbol at FPA India blog here.
Friday, July 9
My latest post on honor killings at the FPA India blog.
Monday, March 29
Wednesday, February 3
It could be argued that the malls and multiplexes have a business to run and cannot be expected to give up a big source of their income. And I am sure their will be a strong opposition and lobbying by these businesses against this proposal. But I think that as a customer I would prefer this proposal as it gives me a good safe space to park, and therefore makes the mall/multiplex more attractive. I think the businesses would definitely attract more customers if parking on premises is cheap or free. And with economies of scale at play they should be able to recover operating costs and potentially make money too. (Anyways I believe that the malls/multiplexes have already recovered and made profit on their investment in parking spaces by charging exorbitant prices until now.)
Traffic reform in Pune has never been easy and this proposal might not see the light of day. But the proposal is sensible, customer/voter friendly and would definitely come handy during election time.
Friday, January 22
It is not difficult to understand the logic behind the 1987 law assuming domicile and language as guarantees of a driver's knowledge of the roads he is driving on. You come to know the city gradually after you have lived there for a while. But that was the technological stone-age. Now we have the GPS! and other mapping/ direction providing devices. They might not be as efficient in India as yet, but the potential exists. It is only a matter of time before someone comes up with a customized GPS or mapping system for Indian cities and roads. If the government was so concerned about taxi commuters reaching the right destinations, they could have initiated the creation of such a system for Mumbai. Why did it have to regress to some old law? Why not come up with a new progressive, forward-looking policy that utilizes the technological resources available? If that was too much of a pain, a simpler solution such as requiring drivers to ace a city-specific knowledge test would have helped. Or maybe they could have asked the taxi drivers' association to have orientation and training workshops for new drivers. Even requiring proof of such training before giving out licenses would have been a better option!
Reacting to the drama of withdrawing the language specification, Raj Thackeray asked if Maharashtra had opened a "dharmashala." Definitely not! If it had, the north-Indians and Biharis would be welcome guests living for free. But these north-Indians do not live on charity. They work hard to earn their living and pay their dues to the city. If they send some money back to their hometowns, that is none of Thackeray's business. That is their money, and they are free to do what they like with it. How would he like if all remittances from the NRIs (that add significantly to India's economy and middle class prosperity) stopped? Do his Marathi people have the capacity to generate that amount of wealth for the country? How would he like it if someone attacked and tried to throw out the scores of Marathi people living in many cities of the United States?
Instead of divisive politics, it would help Thackeray more to actually come up with new ideas for job creation. If he is really concerned about the Marathi people's employment, he should think of promoting entrepreneurship or sustainable employment policy. His politics and agenda are only creating a bad image for the Marathi people, and ruining their chances of employment in other states. If he were really concerned, he would have been mindful of these things too.
Rather than starting a dharmashala for the norht-Indians, the Marathi people seemed to have done so for Thackeray and his cronies. Instead of working and contributing to society, they are living off the charity of the Marathi people and being a nuisance in return. If anyone deserves to be thrown out, its them!