04:02 pm New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of India rising to a $5 trillion economy by 2025 is unrealistic though it will happen at some time, says Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and whose document prepared in 1990 largely influenced the economic reforms unveiled the next year, in his book "Backstage - The Story Behind India's High Growth Years". He is also extremely harsh on "two major policy mistakes" of the present government -- demonetisation and the hasty implementation of GST. To become a $5 trillion economy "calls for an average growth rate of about 9 per cent in real terms over the six-year period from 2019-20 to 2024-25. With growth below 5 per cent in 2019-20, and only a slow recovery expected next year, achieving an average of 9 per cent for the period as a whole is simply not credible. We will certainly get to $5 trillion, but it will be a few years later," Ahluwalia writes in the book, which has been published by Rupa. "A more realistic target would be to try to reach a growth rate of around 8 per cent per year as quickly as possible. This is certainly necessary if we want to continue to reduce poverty and generate the employment needed to satisfy our young and aspirational labour force. Is 8 per cent growth feasible? India did achieve GDP growth of 8.5 per cent in the first seven years of the UPA, but a return to that growth rate is easier said than done," Ahluwalia warns. India's growth was at 6.8 per cent in 2018-19 and dropped to 5 per cent in 2019-20. It is expected to "strongly rebound" to 6-6.5 per cent in 2020-21 the Economic Survey tabled in Parliament on January 31 said. Demonetisation, Ahluwalia writes, "came as a complete surprise when the government on 8 November 2016 announced that all currency notes of denominations Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, accounting for 86 per cent of the value of currency with the public, were no longer legal tender. Holders of these notes were given up to 31 December to take the notes to banks to convert them into new notes. The decision was originally presented as a decisive attack on black money and corruption, but as that particular justification seemed difficult to sustain, several other justifications were advanced." "Raghuram Rajan, who was then governor of the RBI, was consulted informally about a possible demonetization and he had advised that any long-term benefits would not be worth the short-term costs. In any case, he counselled that if the government was determined to demonetise, there should be careful planning to ensure adequate supply of new notes. In fact, demonetisation was hastily announced a couple of months after Raghu's term as governor came to an end." Rajan's fears were "amply vindicated. People rushed to banks to exchange their holdings of old notes for new notes, but as there was a shortage of new notes, amounts handed over to banks could only be credited to their bank accounts, from which cash withdrawals were permitted on a restricted basis until the supply of new notes could catch up with demand. The shortage of cash disrupted agricultural markets and operations in the informal sector, both of which are highly cash-dependent", Ahluwalia writes. Eight months later, "the economy received a second jolt when the GST was introduced in July 2017. Unlike demonetization, which had very little support from professional economists, the GST was universally regarded as a major reform of the indirect tax system. It was expected to generate larger revenues, and also simplify the system but it failed on both counts because of a flawed design and poor implementation." Also, "frequent changes in the rates added to the confusion, giving the signal that rates could be adjusted through lobbying, which goes completely contrary to the signal of stability that GST should normally convey", Ahluwalia maintains. He also cautions against "strong centralised governments", a scenario that is now unfolding in India. "Strong centralised governments have some advantages but they also have a major disadvantage: the failure to provide room for different views. This reduces the likelihood that policy mistakes will be acknowledged and corrected. "Manmohan Singh recognised the importance of encouraging free expression of views and descent in a liberal democracy. We are now about to go through a different experience with a government enjoying a strong majority and also one which was expected to rely on much greater centralisation of power in the PMO," Ahluwalia maintains. Ahluwalia concludes that India's "transition to high growth was not a chance development. It was achieved by deliberate policy steps taken by those who had conviction and belief in the need for change. Changing policies in a country as complex as India has to go much beyond making declarations of intent. It needs an open society where businessmen and other stakeholders are free to criticize the government and draw attention to whatever is not working. It needs a team of technically skilled professionals with the ability to understand economic issues offering honest advice to the political class. It also needs a political class that can combine the unavoidable compulsions of adversarial politics with working towards building consensus on the broad direction of economic policy". "Good economics may not seem to be good politics in the short run, but wise political leaders will realise that it is almost always the best politics in the long run. How to marry the two is, in some sense, the real test of political leadership. I remain an unrelenting optimist that our political system can resolve this conflict and that the India story of high growth and development will therefore continue. India can and must return to its high growth years-our younger generation deserves nothing less."
12:02 pm New Delhi: Mahatma Gandhi wanted India's unity at any price and fought for unity every moment of his public life. Also Gandhi was against dividing India on religious lines saya former President Pranab Mukherjee launching journalist M.J. Akbar's new book "Gandhi's Hinduism - The Struggle Against Jinnah's Islam" "Gandhiji's whole life was dedicated to Hindu-Muslim unity... Gandhiji is not just the father of our nation, he was also the maker of our nation... he was the moral vector to guide our action by the measure by which we are judged," Mukherjee said. Veteran journalist M.J. Akbar's new book "Gandhi's Hinduism - The Struggle Against Jinnah's Islam" is a chrinicle upon leading facts discussing endgame of India Pakistan partician and fomation of Pakistan. Noting that "communal unity and harmony is the bedrock of India's strength and the key to its glorious future", Mukherjee said Gandhi believed in the "intrinsic power of Hinduism" of assimilation, evaluation and adaptation, "as it was inclusive and offered space for the presence of people from every faith". To this end, the book "strongly emphasizes" the fact that "Gandhiji fought for the unity of India for every moment of his public life", rejecting "the conventional explanation that partition would be a solution to the communal problem (created by the British)", noting at a prayer meeting a month before Partition that this would lead to a conflict between India and Pakistan, Mukherjee said. "It will go to the credit of Mahatma Gandhi that he not only saw through the designs of the British in first creating and then fostering the communal divide in India when they saw that the continuation of their rule was not viable and then did everything for their future strategic and geopolitical interests "with the Muslim League under Mr Jinnah", Mukherjee said.
04:02 pm New Delhi: Award-winning author Siddhartha Gigoo's latest 'The Lion of Kashmir' (Rupa Publications), that released recently explores and reflects on the happenings in Kashmir from 1990 to contemporary times. But there is more to it. "Essentially, I wrote it to study a father-daughter relationship in the light of the deeply complex political and law-and-order situation in Kashmir," the author tells IANS. The book revolves around the Special Operations Group ('Special Forces' in the novel), a pro-government counter-insurgency militia in Kashmir largely composed of surrendered Kashmiri militants who have been a target of their own aides and partners from various militant outfits. They have been criticized by local political parties, successive governments and even by the people of Kashmir. "Branded as turncoats and traitors by the very people whom they are duty-bound to protect from militant attacks, they often find themselves caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Their identities are shrouded in mystery; they can't even reveal their faces. Imagine their lives in such a hopeless scenario. They are 'neither here nor there' cops. They walk on the razor's edge on a daily basis." Author of 'The Garden of Solitude' (2011) and 'A Fistful of Earth and Other Stories' (2015), which was long listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award 2015, Gigoo's short story 'The Umbrella Man' won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2015 for Asia. Talking about his writing process, Gigoo, who has a day job, prefers writing during nights and weekends. "However, I spend a great amount of time pre-writing a novel, meaning conceiving a novel in my head before I begin to write. It has taken me years. Sometimes a sentence takes days." Mention the fact that he began with writing poetry and then switched to prose, and the author asserts, "Storytelling must also be poetic. Baudelaire says: Always be a poet, even in prose. I still write poems, but I don't write to get them published, though I share some on Instagram. Sometimes, while writing a poem you discover a story. And then you're compelled to write it. For me, the first line of a story is born in the shape of a poem." Even as it has been 30 years since the Pandits were forced to leave the valley, Gigoo is optimistic that they will go back home. "It might take us years, decades, centuries, but we will go back to our homeland, reclaim our past and rebuild our homes." Preferring to present the 'complete picture' when it comes to Kashmir, incorporating different points of view, he stays away from presenting only a single point of view. The author asserts that it is important for him to look outside the frame and have a 360-degree view. Quietly looking at people, reading their expressions, snooping into their conversations, and imagining them in all sorts of situations and circumstances while they are going about their daily lives. "More importantly, placing yourself at the centre of their worlds. Being with them and yet being detached. As a novelist, I don't think in terms of Muslim side of the story and the Hindu side of the story. I am incapable of such narrow-mindedness. What intrigues me is the human condition. It is not divided along the lines of religion. Something interesting and of profound human significance is always taking place in the most ordinary places and with the most ordinary people. All we got to do is look, and then discover the extraordinariness. One must have the ability to shut the door to the outside world, yet keep all other doors to the same outside world open." Also a filmmaker, who has made short films like 'The Last Day' and 'Goodbye Mayfly' says he does look forward to making more short films, "Only if I am able to arrange the budget." Ask him if the abolition of Article 370 would really pave a path for the return of Pandits to the valley, as stressed by the present government, and he says, "I hope it does. One can only hope. People all over the country are talking of being able to buy land and property in Jammu and Kashmir now. Stripped of its special status, Kashmir is now a place that belongs to everyone, where everyone can settle. Article 370 was supposed to give us a special status with unique rights and privileges no other Indians born elsewhere had. The special status that was bound by the state's constitution to protect us from persecution in 1990, then guarantee our dignified return to our own homes before it is late, but failed to do so, is now gone forever. The yearning for restitution is stronger than ever in my heart. The dream of home persists. The dream to reclaim everything that was snatched from us lingers on."
04:02 pm Kanpur, Feb 9: Well-known Hindi litterateur and Padma Shri awardee Giriraj Kishore passed away on Sunday, following a cardiac arrest at his Suterganj residence in Kanpur, doctors said. He was 83 and is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. Giriraj Kishore's body would be handed over to the medical college as per his wishes on Monday. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the President of India in the year 2007 and was the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award in 1992. He was conferred the Vyas Samman in 2000, and an honorary Ph.D. by Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University in 2002. Kishore was best known for his novel 'Pehla Girmitiya' that was based on Mahatma Gandhi's stay in South Africa. The novel was a bestseller.
03:02 pm Bhubaneswar: Manoj Das, who was recently bestowed with Padma Bhushan for his outstanding contribution to English and Odia literature, on Saturday received Mystic Kalinga Literary Awards-Indian and Global Languages. He received the award at the fourth edition of the two-day long Mystic Kalinga Festival (MKF) here. Mystic Kalinga Literary Award has been instituted to recognise and celebrate prolific and inspiring writers, poets and performers. Das also presented a talk on "Divine Madness: Knowledge, Ecstasy, and Transformation", the central theme for the fourth edition of the Mystic Kalinga festival. The eminent litterateur informed that he is in the process of translating 'Savitri', the epic poem written by freedom fighter and spiritual guru Aurobindo Ghosh into Odia language.
11:02 am New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Not too long ago, India was the darling of the world with its rosy growth story. Then came the 2008 global meltdown and it all came crashing down. Thereafter a recovery seemed in sight with GDP growth at 8 per cent in 2018-19, but now it's down to 5 per cent in 2020-21. But then, as a new book says, there hasn't been a single decade since 1950 when the Indian economy hasn't lurched from one crisis to another. More importantly, how did China do it while India fell far, far behind? "Though few people realise it, the strategy that China has followed since the late 1970s -- and that India only partially followed till it almost gave it up in the 1970s -- was the same as that was first depicted by Alfred Marshall in his 'Principles of Economics' while attributing competitive efficiency to the emergence of what later came to be be called (in his honour) 'Marshallian industrial districts' -- a clustering of firms in a similar industry operating from a certain geographic area proximately located close to a city," T.C.A. Ranganathan and T.C.A. Srinivasa Raghavan wrote in "All the Wrong Turns" (Westland/pp349/Rs799). The co-location of several firms of the same industry allows a number of benefits, sometimes called benefits of agglomeration or externalities, the book says. What is forgotten in India-China comparisons is that China also focused on 'combo' development: cities/industries/commercial zones "together as an integrated issue. The 'foreigners', attracted by the amenities available in the newly well-planned cities, built their vast variety of factories in these government created and managed zones", the authors explain. The authors then present six essays, most of them some 60 pages long, on six critical areas: agriculture, manufacturing, international trade, banking, fiscal policy and institutions. The first four have been penned by Ranganathan, a career banker with close to four decades of experience who retired as Chairman of the Export Import Bank of India, and the remaining two by Srinivasa Raghavan, an economic journalist of some four decades standing. What then ails the Indian economy? * Agriculture: It's not that agriculture and farmers do not get state support in other countries; they do but mostly it is in the nature of 'income support' (i.e. farmer-oriented or land-oriented income transfers), not 'production distorting support' (crop support schemes such as fertilisers, water, power pricing, subvented loans, MSP and procurement price announcements etc) practised by the Indian authorities. The debate on agrarian distress "requires to be made more holistic instead of being studied only under a 'partial equilibrium' framework with 'ceteris paribus' assumptions. Quick fixes and palliatives frequently announced by various 'fast thinking' members of the governing class will never be appropriate substitutes," the book says. * Manufacturing: The focus of reform has to be where 'mis-signals' get generated. "A one-size-fits-all methodology will not work. Alongside, the uniquely Indian definition of what constitutes good governance will need to change. In a globalised world where we are likely to enter into regional and preferential trade arrangements, we will need to fall in line with the governance style of the rest of the world," the book points out. * International Trade: The main challenge which India Inc. is seen to experience while engaging in international trade, looks remarkably similar to that experienced by the average citizen in day-to-day living. "Adequate well-paid jobs are not coming up because enough 'good companies' are not setting up operations in most parts of the country....There is thus a need for India to reflect and reorganise its thought processes and reflexes," the book says. * Banking: Noting that it is often forgotten that Indian PSBs had no prior experience with either infrastructure lending or large project finance till the late Nineties, the book says that nowadays, increased network size and lumpy agglomerations are looking to be a more attractive solution to the PSB woes and that "interesting times" could lie ahead. "In sum, what emerges is that the other peer countries, without exception, followed a certain structural model. The Indian state believes otherwise and has taken the less travelled path. This has influenced the evolutionary path of the various sub-components, making the story of banking in India rather chequered if not interesting," the book says. * Fiscal Policy: Income tax has been justified on the grounds that it helps the rich help the poor, "never mind that it is at gunpoint. The truth, alas, is different. But far from having any egalitarian outcome, it basically forces the productive parts of society to pay for the upkeep of those who contribute absolutely nothing to it. The state has replaced religious bodies (which received zakat, tithe, daan and so on) as the intermediary", the book says. Thanks to its economic policies, India -- instead of becoming a manufacturing economy where the mass of the people earn regular wages, salaries -- has become a service providing one. This in turn has meant a huge proliferation of self-employed individuals such as doctors, lawyers, architects, IT professionals and so on, the book says, urging that the tax rate be reduced to 5 and 10 per cent. "If the state must act an an intermediary, it can at least copy the religions which taxed at a fixed low rate. The short point is this: we must take politics and the accompanying moral imperative out of taxation," the book says. * The Institutions: The time has now come for some original thinking by Indian economists. It has become necessary to move away from the one-size-fits-all economic theory. The starting point must be the abandonment of the postulate in which western economics is rooted, namely greed, the book says. "Every country needs to develop analytical frameworks which are best suited to its context....(this) is not going to develop overnight, but some Indian economists need to start thinking about these issues. To do so efficiently, they will have to learn Indian sociology, rather than assume that it is irrelevant because their discipline is value- neutral. It is not," the book concluded. Source : IANS
12:10 pm By Radhika Nair The translucent moonlight settles on my room's ceiling, bugging me to take notice. As the day has been long gone and the sun dipping far below, questions my current motive. The drizzlig rain shells another beauty of the delirious dark, making it hard to let go of tonight. The primary ignition of captivating the goddess of sleep rebooting your system must be set right. Roundabout the edge of midnight, the brazen melancholia in me has arisen. Sobbig about facing the deceitful tomorrow makes me invite an uncalled liaison. The ticking clock leaves behind my second of calm, forbidding me to resurrect my numbness. The bedspread longing for me crawl on it, makes me drift away to the utter wildness. Can't the time slow down its haste to finish the night as my limbs act quite unheeded? The lusty want of a tired body and soul wishing to sleep till the afterlife is much needed. And when the night slowly comes to a standstill, it brims my brain and the vibes turn blue. The thought of encountering the rush hours of the day makes me picture my work station's view. The curtains caress my window blinds shutting the ugly world outside, draping it so humbly. I dread the moment it will unwittingly welcome the sunshine, yearning me to get up so numbly.
04:07 pm BY VISHNU MAKHIJANI New Delhi, American investigative journalist Katherine Eban pored over roughly 20,000 internal documents from the US FDA, including emails, memorandums, minutes of meetings and thousands of internal government records, as also replies under the Freedom of Information Act, to piece together a riveting and definitive account of how once storied Indian pharma major Ranbaxy blatantly cut corners - to improve its bottom line. "I discovered that a cloud hovered over the company. American regulators were investigating whether Ranbaxy had fabricated quality data in order to gain approval to market its drugs. The allegations had first been made by a company whistleblower who had contacted the agency (FDA)," Eban, who travelled halfway across the globe as part of her investigations, writes in "Bottle of Lies - Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma" (Juggernaut/pp 482/Rs 699). The whistleblower in question, says Eban, is Dinesh Thakur, then Ranbaxy's Director and Global Head of Research, Information and Portfolio Management, who, in 2004, put together a team to study a deadly secret he had come across: that the company was fudging data. "Little by little, as the team members stitched together small bits of information, they stumbled into Ranbaxy's secret: the company manupulated almost every aspect of its manufacturing process to quickly produce impressive looking data that would bolster its bottom line," Eban writes. "Each member of Thakur's team came back with similar examples. At the behest of managers, the company's scientists substituted lower-purity ingredients for higher ones to reduce costs. They altered test parameters so that formulations with higher impurities could be approved. They faked dissolution studies. To generate optimal results, they crushed up brand-name drugs into capsules so that they could be tested in lieu of the company's own drugs. They superimposed brand-name test results onto their own in applications," the book says. Noting that document forgery "was pervasive", the book says: "The company even forged its own standard operating procedures, which FDA investigators rely on to assess whether a company is following its own policies. In one instance, employees backdated documents and then artificially aged them in a steamy room overnight in an attempt to fool regulators during inspections", the book says. Essentially, Ranbaxy's manufacturing standards "boiled down to whatever the company could get away with", the book says. Thakur worked 14-hour days and after weeks of exhaustive research, brought his team's preliminary findings to his boss, Raj Kumar. "Once Kumar heard from each member of Thakur's team, it finally sank in. The company was committing fraud and potentially harming patients on a global scale. He distilled the information into a four-page report for the CEO, Brian Tempest," that "laid bare systematic fraud in Ranbaxy's worldwide regulatory filings", the book says. Predictably, there was no action as the findings "were not news to Ranbaxy's top executives", Eban writes in the book , and when Thakur pressed the issue, the company fought back in a rather unusual manner: It accused him of downloading pornography on his office computer. Thakur realised he had to go but agonised on what to do next. He made his first move, masking his identity, on the morning of August 15, 2005 but when there was no action for two weeks, he sent a message directly to FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, the book says. The result was immediate and set in motion a chain of events that culminated in May 2013 with Ranbaxy pleading guilty to felony charges in the manufacture and distribution of certain adulterated drugs made at two of its facilities in India, and misrepresenting clinical generic drug data. "In the largest drug safety settlement to date with a generic drug manufacturer... Ranbaxy also agreed to pay a criminal fine and forfeiture totaling $150 million and to settle civil claims under the False Claims Act and related State laws for $350 million," the Justice Department said in a statement on May 13, 2013. Ranbaxy also pleaded guilty to three felony FDCA (Food Drug and Cosmetic Act) counts, and four felony counts of knowingly making material false statements to the FDA. Among the adulterated products were antiretroviral (ARV) drugs destined for treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa. In this context, the book notes that the endorsement in November 2013 of Ranbaxy and other Indian pharma companies by former US President Bill Clinton for their efforts at producing low-cost generics had set the sales of the ARV drugs zooming. In the midst of all this, Ranbaxy initially passed into the hands of Japan's Daiichi-Sankyo in November 2008 and was bought over in April 2014 by India's Sun Pharmaceutical. In February, the Supreme Court asked the company's former owners, Malvinder Mohan Singh and his brother Shivinder to cough up the Rs 35 billion they owe to Daiichi Sankyo in compensation post its exit from the company - warning they could be jailed if they failed to do so.
12:07 pm New Delhi: Literary publisher HarperCollins India on Friday announced the acquisition of a three-book series titled, "The Gopi Diaries" penned by noted English and Kannada author Sudha Murthy. In a statement, the publisher said that the series is told from a dog's perspective. They are Murthy's first books with HarperCollins, and draw inspiration from her own dog, Gopi. "Told in Gopi's voice, the first book begins with Gopi coming home, and tells the story of how he settles down with his loving, human family. How Gopi sees the world around him and what he thinks of the people in his life give the story a truly unique flavour," it revealed. The books will be in told in Murty's inimitable style, and are simple stories that talk of basic values even when told from a dog's perspective. "It is my first book for youngsters, particularly those kids who love animals. It is about my dog Gopi who is the joy of my life," Murthy, 69, who also chairs the Infosys Foundation, said. Childrens' publisher Tina Narang said that the 2006 Padma Shri recipient writes from her heart, and when the subject is as close to her heart as Gopi is, the "stories are bound to be as charming as it gets". Murthy, who married Indian industrialist N.R. Narayana Murthy in 1978, is the recipient of the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature (2006), the Attimabbe Award from the Karnataka government (2011) and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Crossword Book Awards. The first book of the trilogy is expected to towards the end of this year.
03:07 pm New Delhi: On the occasion of International Yoga Day on Friday, yoga guru Baba Ramdev announced his first official autobiography, titled "My Life, My Mission". It will release in August, the publisher Penguin said. Sharing the news on Twitter, Ramdev said that although a lot has been written on him by other people, he will now share his life's story in his words. The volume, co-authored by senior journalist Uday Mahurkar, is touted as an one of a kind personal narrative of the life and times of the globally renowned yoga teacher. "This autobiographical account uncovers the trials, tribulations and triumphs of his life and provides insights into his childhood, his passion for yoga and good health, his friends and foes and the Swadeshi campaign he spearheaded," the leading publishing house said in a Friday statement. The upcoming book will also show the journey of Ramdev's venture, Patanjali Group of Institutions and how it became a multi-billion corporation and is considered one of the fastest growing companies in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) in India with a turnover of about Rs 12,000 crore. "I hope readers, fans and followers from across the world will read it and be a part of my journey," the 53-year-old Ramdev said about the gripping 'tell-all'. Ramdev's first autobiography, that spells his journey from a small village in Haryana to the international stage, is available for pre-order on e-commerce sites.