Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Opening new shipping lines between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar

In the movie 'Good Will Hunting' Robin Williams tells protagonist Matt Damon that, you can tell me a lot about Michelangelo and 'Last Judgment'; but not about how I feel when I am inside Sistine Chapel and look at the ceiling!!!

This is true in foreign relations as well. India can offer a big credit line to Bangladesh and Myanmar; we can export electricity to them; we can conduct joint military exercises... Will these actions build a relationship? yes. Will it survive the bad days and turbulent times? probably no. These fragile relations need to be reinforced by strong people to people interactions. How we can reinforce those relations? I think the best option may be trading – not only through the one conducted using Panamax ships but also through medium sized ones, which can anchor at most of India’s, Bangladesh’s and Myanmar’s small ports.

I was always an advocate of better integration of India with her IOR (Indian Ocean Rim Region) neighbours; especially eastern and south-eastern ones. Current government’s decision to open new shipping routes between India-Bangladesh and India-Myanmar is indeed a positive sign in this direction.

Looking towards future

Government needs to focus more on opening small ports on India’s Western and Eastern Coast lines; along with upgrading facilities in existing major ports. I don’t believe opening more major ports will give us substantive gains. Let's open a string of medium sized ports along India's coastlines and try to move at least 10-15% of road traffic to sea lines.



1. India to launch shipping service to Myanmar, Bangladesh to boost ties - TOI

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dead Poet Society - On Conformity

Dead Poet Society (DPS) is one of my all time favorite movies. Starring Robin Williams, this movie was released way back in 1989. DPS, describes the story of an English Teacher (Robin Williams) in an all boys school. His love for teaching, his love of alternate teaching methods, conservative society's opposition for change etc are fully visible here.

I love many scenes from  DPS like, removing the definition of poetry from text book, old wise man, carpe diem, captain-o-captain etc. However, there is one scene which directly of indirectly affect us everyday. Ladies and Gentlemen, here it is - 'On Conformity....'


Friday, August 8, 2014

Tomato festival in Vadodara – A monumental wastage

India consistently holds top ranks in most of the reports on poverty. In terms of sheer number of hungry people we even beat countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. We don’t have to see those reports to understand the situation in India. However, for many, this hunger and common man’s fight for survival is a mere a joke. Otherwise they would have thought twice before organizing tomato festival in Vadodara.

This party which saw the wastage of more than 5 tonnes of tomato also witnessed a participation of close to 3,000 people.

Well, there is nothing legally wrong in organizing a tomotino (just like the one in Italy) festival in India. But, living in a modern society can we simply turn our eyes away from the life of our fellow beings and support these kinds of monumental wastage?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dhoti storm finally ended?

Finally Tamil Nadu government introduced a bill to remove all entry restrictions for people wearing dhoties in clubs, hotels, theatres, malls etc. Well, I agree to this bill in principle; people wearing honorable local dresses should be able to access public places.

But, I have doubts about its applicability in private clubs. Clubs may be formed around a common theme. Isn’t it possible for them to mandate strict dress code for their members, which may explicitly forbidden dhoti?


World Bank and IMF are financial institutions not charity foundations

BRICS leaders in Brazil
People from former communist and socialist (including India) world refer Bretton Wood institutions as some animal who extract blood like leeches. Reason for this particular hatred towards Bretton Wood institutions is due to the strict conditions they impose on countries (borrowers) who are applying for loans.

Let me ask you one question, will any bank would give loan to any individual or institution without making sure that, borrower have sufficient capability to pay it back? What assurance IMF and World Bank have, when they give loans to countries which are on the verge of default? After all it’s the undisciplined economic policies, which brought those countries to the economic cliff in the first place.

Today when I read Samir Saran’s article “Waking up to theBRICS” in 'The Hindu', I suddenly remembered all those accusations hurled against IMF and World Bank. This article is basically in support of New Development Bank proposed by BRICS.  I believe two points mentioned there demand a reply.

Relation between bank and borrower is going to change?

“The NDB’s mission must be to create a business structure where borrowing countries are given greater agency in prioritising the kinds of projects they would want funded. Over a decade, this could become the demonstrator project through which the relationship between donors and recipients, lenders and borrowers, will be rewritten. Hopefully this will be in favour of developing economies and will enable the reimagining of economic pathways.”

Well, I agree on giving more say to borrowing country in prioritizing projects. However, there is world of difference between normal banks giving loans to an individual and World Bank giving loans to sovereign countries. If financial institutions are not insisting on policy terms then what leverage they have? What is the guarantee that countries will move away from the dangerous path? Would India have changed her economic course in 1991, if IMF’s conditions were not there? If a country defaulted on repayment, then World Bank don’t have much chance to get the amount back any time soon. Hence, relationship between bank and borrower won’t undergo any radical change because of New Development Bank. Any bank worth its name will demand security – in the form of change in policies perused by borrower.

GDP in PPP terms

“With around 16 per cent voting share at the World Bank, the U.S. has a de facto veto. Conversely, BRICS, with 40 per cent of the global population and a combined GDP of $24 trillion (PPP), collectively accounts for a mere 13 per cent of the votes at the World Bank.”

Why Indian observers often fall back to GDP in PPP terms rather than looking at real facts? Is it because GDP in PPP terms is in favour of BRICS? It’s time for us to come out of the cocoon and face the real world.