The outbreak taught us the importance of local manufacturing, the domestic market and local supply chains
The COVID-19 pandemic presented India with unique conditions that forced the country to fast track innovations in the medical devices sector which, up until now, was highly dependent on imports. The Government’s proactive approach in seeking the participation of entrepreneurs, national and global medical devices companies for innovation and collaboration in the medical devices sector resulted in a host of solutions to help overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
As a result of this, several public-private partnerships (PPPs) and collaborations are already underway to address the gaps in the healthcare sector. These range from the COVID-19 Taskforce which brought together various technological advancements related to the virus in public Research & Development (R&D) laboratories, academia, start-ups, and industries to the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which partnered with various Ministries, academia and a group of private companies for the indigenous production of high-quality medical devices at a much lower cost as compared to imported ones.
In the war against COVID-19, the med-tech sector in India has stood firmly with the Government and private healthcare delivery players. The Coronavirus outbreak was especially challenging for India which has always had a highly import-dependent medical devices sector. Through its flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Centre has taken steps in the right direction by relying on local Indian manufacturers to meet the increased demand for essential medical equipment and consumables. Collaboration in the manufacturing sector has never been so important as it has been in the midst of this outbreak. This is because, no manufacturer has been left untouched by the effects of the pandemic. The manufacturing community coming together to produce critical medical supplies for the country, shows that we can do extraordinary things through collaboration.
The world has seen the danger of relying on only a few countries for critical supplies. India has already started promoting itself as an alternative low-cost manufacturing destination. Lots of companies will emerge out of the current crisis with much stronger customer and supplier relationships, which will put them in a good position for the future. To further promote local manufacturing, the Government introduced the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. The PLI scheme for the medical devices sector will help meet the objective of product diversification and innovation. Under this scheme, the Government has witnessed a very positive response from the industry, whereby 28 applications were submitted by 23 medical device manufacturers and 215 came from 83 pharmaceutical firms. These initiatives have the potential to contribute significantly in achieving self-reliance in the medical technology sector.
In the nation’s attempts to stay ahead of any unforeseen threats, diagnostics has a pivotal role to play. Obtaining timely, patient-level data on emerging threats to global health, including infectious diseases will be crucial in the long run. Framing of disease-control strategies can be aided through capturing and sharing of patient healthcare data from testing which can be instrumental in improving triage and management of infectious diseases before they become severe outbreaks.
India needs to continue with its bold efforts to be able to position itself strongly in the post-pandemic world by creating a more conducive environment for global and domestic manufacturing of medical devices, vaccines and pharma products. With an exemplar shift in global economies and geopolitics, it will be crucial for India to re-strategise a clear long-term road map for the promotion of this industry.
The contagion has accelerated reliance on diagnostics and testing. The focus of the Government since the start of the pandemic has been to scale and upgrade testing infrastructure and ensure availability of testing kits. In addition, the designated COVID -19 laboratories require skilled manpower for operating various instruments and accessories, and for the use of software for accurate reporting of test results.
There is a colossal need to train staff to efficiently handle samples and operate instruments in multiple shifts in order to ramp up the testing capability. Boosting local manufacturing will help in expanding the country’s domestic production and national self-sufficiency for implementing scalable testing strategies. Domestic manufacturers came forward to develop low-cost diagnostic kits, including Viral Transport Media kits, RT-PCR kits and RNA isolation kits, for the pandemic. The large-scale production of all these kits helped meet the requirements of the country, reducing its dependence on imports.
The Novel Coronavirus outbreak has managed to teach us the importance of local manufacturing, the domestic market and local supply chains. Through concerted efforts, the Government, healthcare stakeholders and the industry can drive innovation in diagnostics by making resources available and the healthcare ecosystem more agile in the fight against these emerging threats.
(The author is Managing Director, Poly Medicure Ltd. The views expressed are personal.)
The title, ‘Status of Leopards in India’, is a bit misleading as this report is on the number of leopards in tiger States, not for the whole of India
A report titled the ‘Status of leopards in India: 2018’, prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, was released in 2020. However, the title is a bit misleading as this report is on the status of leopards in the tiger States of India, not for the whole of the country. In fact, the ‘Status of leopards in India: 2018’ is based on the fourth cycle of tiger population assessment in the Tiger Landscape that was undertaken using the camera image capture and recapture method.
It is stated in the report that the leopard population in India has increased from 7,910 in 2014 to 12,580 sub-adult and adult leopards in 2018 in the 18 tiger-bearing States of the country. Immediately, the media jumped on this number without going into the report and stated that the leopard population had increased by 60 per cent in India. The international media, too, highlighted that the population of the smart cat was 12,580 subadult and adult leopards, but this was only half the truth. During the All-India Tiger Estimation in 2018, the leopard population, too, was estimated within the forested habitats of the tiger States. However, within the tiger States also, other leopard-occupied areas such as non-forested habitats (coffee and tea plantations, ravines and other areas where leopards are known to occur), higher elevations in the Himalayas, arid landscapes and a majority of the landscapes in the North-East were not sampled.Therefore, the population estimation should be considered as the minimum number of leopards in the tiger distribution range of the country.
The fact remains that leopards are present in 29 States and one Union Territory in India and the fourth cycle of assessment was restricted to tiger distribution areas in just 18 States. Even in these States, the entire leopard habitat was not surveyed. This raises concerns as these findings do not represent the facts or the leopard numbers for the entire country.
For instance, the high concentration zone of the leopard in the Himalayas, that has been witnessing intense human-leopard conflicts in Uttarakhand, was not covered in the survey. The Forest Department of Uttarakhand estimated that there were about 2,100- 2,400 leopards in the State during the three previous leopard censuses. This reveals that about two-third leopard habitats were not surveyed in Uttarakhand in the fourth cycle of assessment in 2018. Two other Himalayan territories i.e. Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are in the leopard zone. They, too, have been facing serious man-leopard conflicts. The Forest Department of Himachal Pradesh had reported 761 leopards in the previous count, although field officials were of the opinion that there was a higher population of the elusive cat than had been reported.
Similarly, Jammu and Kashmir also support hundreds of leopards. Gujarat is another major State which counted 1,395 leopards (1,220 adult and subadults while the rest were cubs) in 2016. Except for some areas, say below 10 per cent of the forested land, the entire forested area of seven States in the North-East and West Bengal was not covered in this survey. An analysis of the data procured from all Chief Wildlife Wardens revealed that about one-third of the leopard population occurs in about 384 Protected Areas, covering about 1,36,551 square kilometre (sq km) in India. The current occupancy area may be roughly in the range of about half of Indian forests, say about 3,00,000 sq km.
The report on the ‘Status of leopards in India: 2018’ in tiger States, the leopard censuses by forest departments in non-tiger States and many other studies provide the basis for assessment of the population of leopards in India.
Outside the country, the Indian leopard, a subspecies out of eight subspecies of leopards in the world, has a population of about 1,200 to 1,500 in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and a few in the bordering countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. Out of about 20,000-22,000 adult and subadult leopards belonging to seven subspecies of the Asian leopards, three-fourth are found in India and the rest in about 30 countries in Asia. The African leopard, a subspecies, has a different story as its number is several times, perhaps 20 times, the combined population of all leopards in Asia. Even though the number of leopards in India has increased over the years, there is a need to conserve the beautiful and highly intelligent animal. This is becoming more and more difficult given the increasing instances of man-animal conflict in India which, more often than not, results in the big cat being at the receiving end of man’s cruelty. It is high time that we learn to live in harmony with nature and leave the habitats of these creatures untouched. After all, they too have as much right over this world as we humans do. Our children need to be taught this lesson in sharing the world and its resources from a very young age. Else, the loss will be ours.
(The writer is Member, National Board for Wildlife. The views expressed are personal.)
Subhas Chandra Bose aimed for nothing less than the formation of a new and happy India on the basis of the eternal principles of liberty, democracy and socialism
The two figures who dominated the last leg of India’s freedom struggle were Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite soldiers, namely Fabian Socialist acolyte Jawaharlal Nehru and assertive and aggressive Subhas Chandra Bose, a man who admired the Mahatma but despaired at his aims and methods. Bose played a prominent role in India’s political life post-1930. He was twice elected president of the Indian National Congress (INC), the country’s most important political force for freedom from British rule. Both before and during World War-II, Bose worked tirelessly to secure German and Japanese support in freeing India. During the final two years of the war, Bose, with considerable Japanese backing, led the forces of the Indian National Army (INA) into battle against the British. Without a shadow of a doubt, Bose remains one of the key figures in the history of India’s Independence.
True to his character, Bose propounded the fusion ideology of socialism and fascism: In years that followed, he asserted that India must have a political system of an authoritarian character. In India, though, Bose is regarded as a national hero in spite of his praise of autocratic leadership and authoritarian Government, and admiration for European fascist regimes with which he allied himself. Bose was frequently denounced as a fascist, particularly in the wake of the radical, revolutionary (as opposed to reformist) views he expressed in radio addresses broadcast to India from National Socialist Germany and, later, from quasi-fascist Japan. By 1930, Bose had formulated the broad strategy that he believed India must follow to throw off the yoke of British imperialism and assume its rightful place as a leader in Asia. Until his death 15 years later, Bose would continue publicly to praise certain aspects of fascism and express his hope for a synthesis of that ideology and socialism.
However, he was willing to tone down his radical political beliefs on those occasions when he considered it necessary to do so. For example, in his February 1938 inaugural speech as president of the INC, Bose made a sincere attempt to placate the Gandhian faction. A year later he successfully re-contested the presidential election, but two months later was forced to resign because of his differences with Gandhiji and the Gandhian faction. Bose once again proclaimed his belief in the efficacy of authoritarian Government and a synthesis of fascism and socialism. He struggled throughout his life for the independence of India, in his own way.
Along with his abiding love for his country, Bose had an equally passionate hatred for the imperial power that ruled it: Great Britain. In a radio address broadcast from Berlin on March 1, 1943, he exclaimed that Britain’s demise was near and predicted that it would be “India’s privilege to end that Satanic Empire.” Bose was able to give a much grander expression to his “militarism” when, in 1930, he volunteered to form a guard of honour during the ceremonial functions at the Calcutta session of the Congress Party. Gandhiji and several other champions of ahimsa were uncomfortable with this display. A high point in Bose’s “military career” came in July 1943 in Singapore. At a mass meeting there on July 4, Rash Behari Bose (no relation) handed over to him the leadership of the Indian Independence League. This ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ would not only “emancipate India from the British yoke,” he told the soldiers, but would become the standing national army of the liberated nation. Bose clearly admired strong, vigorous, military-type leaders, and in ‘The Indian Struggle’ he listed several whom he particularly respected. These included Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Nowhere in this book is there any criticism of these dictators for having too much power, yet another man is chastised for this: Gandhiji. Bose admired Gandhiji for many things, not least his ability to “exploit the mass psychology of the people, just as Lenin did the same thing in Russia, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany.” But he accused Gandhiji of accepting too much power and responsibility, of becoming a “dictator for the whole country” who issued “decrees” to the Congress. According to Bose, the Mahatma was a brilliant and gifted man but, unlike Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin, a very ineffective leader.
Gandhiji had failed to liberate India because of his frequent indecision and constant willingness to compromise with the Raj (something Bose said he would never do). Bose’s militarism, ambition and leadership traits do not necessarily indicate (contrary to popular opinion) that he was a leader in the fascist mould.
Bose proclaimed, on October 21, 1943, the formation of the Provisional Government of ‘Azad Hind (Free India).’ While retaining his post as Supreme Commander of the INA, he announced that he was naming himself Head of State, Prime Minister and Minister for War and Foreign Affairs. (The most important of these positions — Head of State — he anticipated retaining in a free India.) These appointments involved no democratic process or voting of any kind.
He demanded total obedience and loyalty from the Indians in south Asia and anyone who opposed him, his army or government faced imprisonment, torture, or even execution. Bose aimed for nothing less than the formation of “a new India and a happy India on the basis of the eternal principles of liberty, democracy and socialism.” He rejected communism (at least its Soviet version) because of its internationalism and because he believed that the theoretical ideal found in the writings of Marx could not be applied, without modification, to India. Still, he maintained socialist views throughout his adult life and, on many occasions, expressed his hope for an egalitarian, industrialised society in which the State would control the basic means of production.
He was opposed to liberalism, believing that greater emphasis should be placed on social goals than on the will of individuals. The wishes of citizens, he reasoned, must be subordinate to the needs of the State, especially during the struggle for Independence and the period of reconstruction immediately following liberation. Nonetheless, having himself been imprisoned 11 times and sent into exile three times, he was committed to upholding the rights of minority intellectual, religious, cultural and racial groups. He hoped for social, economic and political freedom for Indians and would, he said “wage a relentless war against bondage of every kind till the people can become really free.”
Of course, Bose demanded not only the total mobilisation of Indian resources in south Asia but everywhere else, too. He called for mass mobilisation not only in support of his army, but also for his dynamic new government, the various branches of which required financing and manpower. First, his ideology and actions were not the result of any extreme neurotic or pathological psychosocial impulses. He was not a megalomaniac, nor did he display any of the pathological traits often attributed to fascists, such as aggression, obsessive hatred or delusions. Moreover, while he was an ardent patriot and nationalist, Bose’s nationalism was cultural, not racialist. Second, his radical political ideology was shaped by a consuming frustration with the unsuccessful efforts of others to gain independence for India. His “fascist” outlook did not come from a drive for personal power or social elevation. While he was ambitious his obsession was not adulation or power, but rather freedom for his motherland: A goal for which he was willing to suffer and sacrifice, even his life.
Bose was favourably impressed with the discipline and organisational strength of fascism as early as 1930, when he first expressed support for a synthesis of fascism and socialism. During his stays in Europe he was deeply moved by the dynamism of the two major “fascist” powers, Italy and Germany. After observing these regimes first-hand, he developed a political ideology of his own that, he was convinced, could bring about the liberation of India and the total reconstruction of its society along vaguely authoritarian-socialist lines. Bose’s lack of success in liberating India was certainly not due to any lack of effort. From 1921, when he became the first Indian to resign formally from the Indian Civil Service, until his death in 1945 as leader of an Indian government in exile, Bose struggled ceaselessly to achieve freedom and prosperity for his beloved homeland.
In the present context, politics since 2014 has been inspired by Netaji’s brand of politics and the present leadership of the country has genuinely embraced his ideology and political wisdom. The country is more assertive and aggressive though, unfortunately, certain democratic rights are infringed in the process. Though, history will judge the outcome regarding the better option of being Left or Right-wing, but the country voted for Narendra Modi in 2019 to reaffirm the faith in Netaji’s philosophy and vision for a modern and strong India.
(The writer is Editor, Opinion Express, and columnist, The Pioneer. The views expressed are personal.)
‘Make in India’ is already a success story for some companies; this should inspire others
As Hero MotoCorp rolled an Xtreme 160R off its manufacturing line at Gurugram on Thursday, it might have been just another motorcycle rolling off the line. But this one was being ridden off the line by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. That was because this was two-wheeler number 100 million to roll off one of Hero’s various lines across India and abroad. The company, which has been the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer for a few years now, and also in India where it has a market share of about 46 per cent, reached this milestone after four decades of operating, and has seen its sales shoot up after breaking up with its erstwhile partner, Japan’s Honda Motor Company. And Pawan Munjal, the chairman of the company, believes that Hero will sell its second 100 million within the next decade as it expands globally from Central and South America and even Africa. And while the spotlight might be on Hero, others — such as Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors — have also been huge ‘Make In India’ superstars with Bajaj, in particular, one of the strongest performers in the export market, its name ubiquitous in many parts of the world for their three-wheelers and the Pulsar motorcycle, has been so successful that Bajaj’s Chinese rivals have taken to copying it. India’s success story in the two-wheeler segment proves that Indian companies can be champions in manufacturing as well, and the narrative that India lost out to China in manufacturing does not hold true. Much like Bajaj, another Pune-based company, the Serum Institute of India (SII), is playing a major role in manufacturing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine for the world. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed its work and importance by saying that India’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic strengthened the country’s health infrastructure through the ‘Make in India’ mission. Lauding companies like the SII, Bharat Biotech and others, he said that India took quick, proactive decisions and did not wait for the problem to aggravate.
Similarly, the Cabinet Committee on Security last week approved a Rs 48,000-crore agreement for the acquisition of 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft for the Indian Air Force — the largest indigenous procurement deal to date. The Defence establishment also unveiled a slew of new, indigenously-developed equipment at an Army innovation event that included Shakti, a cutting-edge bulletproof jacket, a 9mm machine pistol and a surveillance ‘microcopter’, among other technologies. India cannot only be self-sufficient, India can and must manufacture for the world. While our services sector has proved that India can be the back office for the globe and we can make software for the entire world, manufacturing in India can employ millions and turbo-charge job creation which should be the priority of the Government right now. As companies seek to diversify their manufacturing chains away from China after the pandemic, successes like Hero, Bajaj and TVS prove that India can do it and that it can be a destination for high-quality manufacturing. Yes, there remain some pitfalls in terms of compliances, legal and regulatory issues, and as the recent incident in Bengaluru shows when an irate Communist mob attacked the facilities of Taiwanese company Winstrom that was making iPhones, there are still some major problems. And those have to be resolved if both the Government’s ambitious schemes — ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’s and ‘Make In India’ — are to go to the next level.
Whosoever wins this ‘war of prestige’, the poor peasants will still remain at the receiving end
No matter who wins the tug of war between the farmer unions and the Government, the poor cultivators will continue to remain at the receiving end. Who are these tens of thousands of farmers protesting on Delhi’s borders for almost two months, demanding a repeal of the three new farm legislations and remunerative Minimum Support Price (MSP)? They certainly do not belong to the class of peasants that is neck-deep in debt and many of whom die by suicide every year as they see no option to bail themselves out of the vicious cycle of interest payments on loan by moneylenders. A majority of those camping at the interstate borders are big and upper-middle class landlords from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh who are part and parcel of the strong arhatiya (commission agents) lobby, a community that drives the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee’s (APMC’s) mandis. These farmers constitute a sizeable chunk of the vote bank of various political parties who cannot afford to go against the populist stance taken by the community. Only the APMC-licenced traders are allowed to purchase produce from farmers within that particular APMC’s jurisdiction. This helps the cartel of traders and prevents the hardworking farmers from receiving a fair price for their produce. This is why, perhaps, the hectic parleys and several rounds of dialogue have yielded no result and the farmer leaders have even turned down the Centre’s offer to put the new laws on hold. The latest round of talks on Friday also remained inconclusive, with no date fixed for the next meeting. The growers remain adamant on the full repeal of the farm Acts and for enacting a legislation on the MSP. The farmers have also raised doubts over receiving fair treatment at the hands of the members of the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee and termed it “biased”. On the other hand, the apex court has made it clear that the panel, tasked to submit its report after noting the farmers’ reservations, would proceed with or without their participation.
However, the farmers’ apprehensions cannot just be brushed aside. The NDA Government’s haste in finalising the three laws, the lack of consultation with stakeholders and the Bills’ passage in Parliament without thoroughly discussing and debating these ought to raise a reasonable doubt over the Centre’s intention. Further, these laws were first introduced in June 2020 as Ordinances before being approved by Parliament in September by a voice vote. The farmers allege that the Centre has made the laws for benefiting big corporate houses and is not concerned about the welfare of the peasants. It cannot be denied that by promoting private investment in the sector and allowing outside-APMC trade of farm produce, the Government will subsequently buy less from farmers, and it will eventually make the MSP system irrelevant. Further, there is no denying that India’s MSP system is the costliest Government food procurement programme in the world. It’s high time the Government and the farmers think about the pertinent issues impacting the agriculture sector. The Green Revolution has given us food self-sufficiency but the chemical fertiliser-centric farming has also led to enormous health and environmental hazards, besides degrading the soil’s fertility. These harmful carcinogens have become embedded into our food web. Further, the introduction of hybrid and transgenic varieties of seeds and crops, just for the sake of increasing productivity and meeting the market demand, is a potent threat to indigenous varieties. These local varieties are naturally resistant to many diseases and pests, and are part of our rich genetic stock. Apart from focusing on eco-friendly agriculture, the Government must devise an effective policy to help the poor peasants who are in distress and who are always at the receiving end, no matter what.
Why do Americans in such large numbers continue to support the Don? Could it be the search for security that drives them?
What explains the fact of tens of millions of Donald Trump’s supporters remaining fiercely loyal to him even after his role in the deplorable storming of the Capitol Hill on January 6? The question is important. The army of supporters is numerically huge and, reports say, the Right-wing extremist groups in their ranks are likely to continue to resort to violence and terror on an escalating scale.
Any search for an explanation must begin by identifying those involved in the January 6 outrage. A Reuters report by Ted Hesson, Ned Parker, Kristina Cooke and Julia Harte, datelined January 8, cites Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which tracks extremism, as saying that protesters at the Capitol building on January 6 included some of the most extreme elements of Trump’s base, including White nationalists, militia groups and QAnon conspiracy theorists.
The last-named perhaps played the most important part in the storming as well as in organising it. As a report, by Drew Harwell, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Razzan Nakhlawi and Craig Timberg in The Washington Post — datelined January 13, 2021 — puts it: “The siege on the US Capitol played out as a QAnon fantasy made real: The faithful rose up in their thousands, summoned to Washington by their leader, President Trump. They seized the people’s house as politicians cowered under desks.” It further states: “Born in the Internet’s fever swamps, QAnon played an unmistakable role in energising rioters during the real-world attack on Jan 6.” A report by Mike Wendling, datelined January 6, in BBC, states: “Supporters of the QAnon movement were among the crowd that stormed the US Capitol building on Wednesday. Several prominent activists were spotted inside the building….”
According to these reports, QAnon propagates the baseless theory that Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of deep State operators, entrenched in the Government, business and media, who are paedophiles worshipping Satan and trafficking in children for sex. They, according to The Washington Post report, hold that there will be a final day of reckoning when “prominent people such as former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, will be arrested and executed”.
The other Right-wing organisations involved included the Boogaloo movement, which comprises Right-wing extremist groups whose ideologies and stand on issues like racism sometimes differ. Some of them are White supremacists, some are not. Many of them believe in Neo-Nazism. The movement’s adherents, known as Boogaloo Boys or Boogaloo Bois, are, however, united in their opposition to gun control measures and in working towards a second civil war to bring down the US Federal Government. Also involved was the far-Right, anti-immigrant, all-male group called Proud Boys, which has a history of street violence against its Left-wing opponents. It stands for glorifying entrepreneurship, ending welfare, everyone’s right to own guns and women playing traditional gender roles, like being housewives.
One now returns to the question: Why do people in such massive numbers continue to support Trump, with many joining the Right-wing extremist groups advocating violence to achieve their goals? According to Erich Fromm in Fear of Freedom, the search for security is the most powerful factor drawing people to militant mass movements. He adds that despite the biological separation caused by birth, a child “remains functionally one with its mother’s world for a considerable period”. The primary ties which link a mother to a child “offer security and basic unity with the world outside oneself”.
Slowly, the child becomes aware of its separateness from its mother and others. With physical, emotional and mental development, an “organised structure guided by the individual’s will and reason develops. If we call this organised and integrated whole of the personality the self, we can also say that the [sic] one side of the growing process of individuation is the growth of self-strength”. (The italics are Fromm’s). On the other side, one, on becoming an individual, and facing the world with all its threats and perils alone, experiences an increasing feeling of “aloneness” and insecurity.
Fromm believes that to overcome the feeling of loneliness and insecurity, one needs “to relate to the world in love and work; in the genuine expression of one’s emotional, sensuous and intellectual capacities”, becoming “one with man, nature and himself, without giving up the integrity and independence of his individual self”. Not all can do this. Those who cannot, resort to sadism and masochism.
Fromm holds that the infliction of pain is not the essence of sadism. “All the different forms of sadism” are rooted in the simple impulse to have complete mastery over another person, “to make him a helpless object of one’s will, to become the absolute ruler over him….” The feeling of strength and power arising from the exercise of absolute control enables the sadist to overcome his/her feeling of insecurity.
Masochists “attempt to become a part of a bigger and more powerful whole outside oneself, to submerge and participate in it. This power can be a person, or an institution, God, the nation, conscience or a psychic compulsion”. One “surrenders one’s own self and renounces all strength and pride, one loses one’s integrity as an individual and surrenders freedom” but gets a new security and a new pride in the participation in the power in which one submerges. One also “gets security against the torture of doubt”. Clearly, masochism plays a critical role in driving people to totalitarian extremist organisations — whether of the Left or the Right — demanding total, unquestioning acceptance or its creed.
Two questions arise here. What causes insecurity among large sections of people in a rich democracy like the US? A feeling of insecurity need not be caused by actual physical threats or apprehensions thereof. It is a psychological phenomenon caused by social, economic and cultural conditions. Success, for example, is highly valued in the US — perhaps more than in any other country. Failure to achieve it often leads to a feeling of inadequacy, triggering a feeling of insecurity. The fear of failure can haunt even the very successful as an uninterrupted continuity of upward progression cannot be taken for granted.
A more specific cause of insecurity — certainly a factor in the emergence of the White supremacist groups — is the fear of a large section of White Americans of being marginalised by non-Whites — African-Americans, Asians, Latin Americans and others. They see in Barack Obama’s election as the President, and Kamala Harris’s as Vice-President, both celebrations of American democracy and a corroboration of their fears. There are other causes of insecurity — fear of an economic downturn, job loss, violence in the streets and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.
The Right-wing variety of it, however, is not the only kind of extremism the US has seen. The hippie movement of the 1960s and ’70s, albeit of a harmless and peaceful variety, was another. It stood for the wholesale rejection of the American way of life with all its values and symbols — the pursuit of success and wealth, the culture of consumption, personal cleanliness, living in comfortable houses and so on. Its cause was similar but a tad different from that spawning Right-wing extremism. Eric Hoffer identifies it in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements and says: “A rising mass movement attracts and holds its following not by its doctrine and promises but from the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by removing the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves, and it does so by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely-knit and exultant corporate whole”.
What is to be done? A comprehensive congressional investigation into all aspects of the January 6 outrage should begin even as the identification and arrest of the perpetrators continue. It must cover a wide range — failure to prevent the storming, causes of security and/or intelligence failure, possible extremist infiltration of the armed forces and intelligence agencies, and any other matter that may come up during hearings. Simultaneously, the social, economic and cultural causes of large-scale alienation need to be probed and corrective educational measures and the establishment of an extensive network of counselling services, discussed. Finally, there has to be a global view. The challenge of violent extremism is a global menace.
(The author is Consulting Editor, The Pioneer. The views expressed are personal.)
Lucknow, Jan 22 (IANS) Rarely ever in history has the enigma of a leader lived on for more than half a century after his demise. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose may have "died" in an air crash in August 1945, but for those who believe in him, he lives on and on as the ellusive "Gumnami Baba".
Gumnami, in Hindi, means anonymity.
Gumnami Baba -- whom many believe was actually Netaji (Bose) lived in the guise of a sadhu at several places in Uttar Pradesh, including Naimisharanya (Nimsar), Basti, Ayodhya and Faizabad. He kept changing his place of abode, mostly within the city itself.
Baba, as he was called, remained a complete recluse and interacted with only a handful of 'believers' who visited him on a regular basis. He never stepped out of his house, rather room, and majority of the people claim to have never seen him.
One of his landlords, Gurbax Singh Sodhi, tried to take him twice to the Faizabad Civil Court on the text some work but failed. This information is corroborated by his son Manjit Singh in his deposition to Justice Sahai Commission of Inquiry, set up to identify Gumnami Baba. Later a journalist, Virendra Kumar Mishra, too lodged a complaint with the police.
Gumnami Baba finally settled in an out-house of Ram Bhavan at Faizabad in 1983 where he reportedly died on September 16, 1985, and was cremated two days later on September 18. If it were really Netaji, he would been 88 years old. Strangely, there is no proof that any person really died. There is no death certificate, no photograph of the dead body or of the people present during cremation. There is no cremation certificate either.
In fact, Gumnami Baba's passing away was not known to people until, 42 days after his supposed death. His life and death, both, remained shrouded in mystery and no one knows why.
A local newspaper, Janmorcha, had earlier conducted an inquiry on the issue. They found no evidence of Gumnami Baba being Netaji. Its editor, Sheetla Singh visited Netaji's associate Pabitra Mohan Roy in Kolkata in November 1985.
Roy said, "We have been visiting every sadhu and mysterious individual in search of Netaji, from Saulmari (West Bengal) to Kohima (Nagaland) to Punjab. In the same manner, we also visited Babaji at Basti, Faizabad and Ayodhya. But I can say with certainty that he was not Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose." Despite denials from sources -- official or others -- his 'believers' refused to accept that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji.
Though the Uttar Pradesh government has officially rejected the claim that Gumnami Baba was actually Bose in disguise, his followers still refuse to accept the claim.
The Gumnami Baba 'believers' had moved court in 2010 and brought out a judgment in favour of their petition with the high court directing the Uttar Pradesh government to establish the identity of Gumnami Baba.
Accordingly, the government set up an inquiry commission on June 28, 2016, headed by Justice Vishnu Sahai. The report stated that "Gumnami Baba" was a "follower of Netaji", but not Netaji.
A leading surgeon from Gorakhpur, who does not wish to be named, was one such 'believer'.
"We kept asking the Government of India to declare that Netaji was not a war criminal but our pleas fell on deaf ears. Baba did not want to emerge as a criminal. It does matter that the government did not believe in him -- we did and continue to do so. We want to be known as his 'believers' because we believed in him," he told IANS.
The doctor was among those who regularly visited Gumnami Baba and still remain' his staunch 'believer'. In February 1986, Netaji's niece Lalita Bose was brought to Faizabad to identify the items found in Gumnami Baba's room after his death.
At first sight, she was overawed and even identified some items to be of Netaji's family. Baba's room was filled up by the over 2,000 articles in 25 steel trunks. No one had ever seen them during his lifetime. Handwriting expert Carl Bagget was also given the two sets of letters to analyse without being told the identities of the writers.
After he said they were written by the same man, it was revealed to him that the persons in question was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Gumnami Baba.
Baggett stood by his conclusion and gave a signed statement to that effect. Baggett was an authority on document examination with over 40 years of experience and had completed over 5,000 cases.
Faizabad, the epicentre of the Gumnami Baba's myth, still believes in the story of the "sadhu", ignoring the findings of inquiry commissions.
It matters little to the 'believers' that two consecutive commissions, headed by Justice Mukherjee and Justice Sahai, had declared that "Gumnami Baba was not Netaji".
"My father was among those who strongly believed in Gumnami Baba. He respected Baba's wishes and never tried to forcibly meet him. But whenever he passed by Ram Bhavan, he would bow his head in reverence. If the government of the time did not accept the truth, it does not take away anything from the truth," said Ram Kumar, a local resident.
Dr Suman Gupta, the resident editor of Janmorcha in Lucknow and also a resident of Faizabad, said, "There were people who were in contact with Gumnami Baba and these people strongly believed that he was Netaji.
"There are many who could never see him or meet him but still believe in him. It did not matter to them if the facts prove otherwise -- it was a matter of faith and continues till this day."
However, the Delhi Govt, too, must adopt global best practices to upgrade water treatment facilities
The Delhi Government plans to start round-the-clock water supply in the Capital very soon. However, this is more of a necessity than a luxury, as the rapidly urbanising Indian population is expected to reach 1.51 billion by 2030. The Capital alone is projected to have 39 million inhabitants by 2030, up from its current population of 29 million. In fact, according to the estimates of the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the city is slated to become the world's largest and most populous one as early as 2028. This will exert enormous pressure on natural resources and delivering potable water, clean air, housing infrastructure, drainage and sanitation facilities will be even more challenging than before. However, among these, supply of clean and pure drinking water seems to be the most difficult task as it is plagued by pollution and scarcity.
The Capital is supposed to be a model city for the entire nation. Be it infrastructure or maintenance of essential services like water supply, Delhi should set an example for State Capitals to follow. But unfortunately, the city is struggling hard to maintain its present water supply, courtesy, to the rising level of pollutants on one end and unexpected shortages at the other. Contamination that brought the water supply system in Delhi to a grinding halt recently was due to the excessive levels of ammonia which reached an alarming scale of 3.4 parts per million (PPM). This prompted the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which is capable of treating only 0.9 PPM or below, to curtail the water supply for three days in a row and issue an advisory to the residents pertaining to judicious use of water. The worrying part is that ammonia levels frequently shoot up above acceptable limits in the Yamuna River.
Interestingly, this condition is no different from the recent power outage in Pakistan when our neighbour was plunged in darkness for quite a while before the supply was restored. Surely, after all these years of progress, India cannot be on a par with its failed neighbour. This is an unsettling aspect.
However, Delhi's battle with ammonia laced water is not new and the city has witnessed nearly 20 such water supply shortages in the last two years. Last year proved even worse on this account as the level of this pollutant remained above the permissible and treatable limits cumulatively for 33 days or more than a month, forcing the civic body to reduce or curtail water production at its plants at least five times.
Delhiites can blame it on Haryana, which dumps unreasonably large amounts of industrial waste in aquatic bodies that eventually cater to Delhi’s water needs. Due to the excessive untreated discharge from these industrial units, ammonia levels drastically went up to 3.4 PPM and chlorides to 112 PPM, whereas the turbidity levels, too, rose enormously. The technologically-challenged DJB, with its outdated water treatment plants, tried to remedy the situation by diluting this blackish water, but to no avail.
Consuming water polluted with ammonia can damage internal organs, lungs, the brain and cause anaemia, coughing fits, irritation in the eyes, a burning sensation and other health-related problems. The Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla water treatment plants that cater to Delhi's needs are simply not equipped to treat the high level of ammonia and this means that nearly a third of the city's supply is impacted when these plants are not operating. Ironically, despite the problem not being new, no solution or remedial measures have been taken by the Delhi Government to ramp up the technical capabilities of the water treatment plants nor have there been any efforts by Haryana to bring down its ammonia effluent quotient. This problem is traceable to the cloth dyeing industries in Panipat which release industrial waste into the sewage canal. In Sonipat, this canal runs parallel with the canal carrying drinking water for Delhi. This means, even a minor break in the wall between these two canals or overflowing of the sewage canal causes the clean water to get contaminated. This has happened multiple times in the past. Despite the DJB and Delhi Government's umpteen requests to the Haryana Government to remedy the situation by concretising the wall, all pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
How long will Delhiites have to suffer due to the apathy of the neighbouring States is still unclear. Stubble burning in Punjab is adding to the city's air pollution woes while water contamination by Haryana is making life miserable for the residents of the Capital. There seems to be a lack of political will to solve these problems.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government is left with the burden of having to clean up the water it receives. For this it must adopt the best of global practices to not only rejuvenate its natural resources but also upgrade the water treatment facilities. The Government can focus on cutting-edge technologies such as DynaSand filters that remove ammonia from water by creating favourable conditions for the bacteria in the sand filter. The Nitrification process is also a tried and tested method to remove ammonia from water.
The effects of elevated ammonia in drinking water can cause irreversible organ damage in humans. There are many measures available across the world to combat this problem, provided all Governments are determined enough to pursue these measures.
(The writer is an environmental journalist. The views expressed are personal.)
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
Sitharaman will present the third Budget of her tenure in February, with major post-Covid aspirations of a country raring to make a mark
In 2020, around this time of the year, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was busy trying to put together a Budget that would propel India into the $5 trillion economy club. What happened post February last year is from here on going to be referred to as a critical turning point in human civilisation, altering in its course social, political, economic contracts of the pre-Covid era. Sitharaman will present the third Union Budget of her tenure in February, with humongous post-Covid aspirations of a country raring to make a mark. While the usual set of demands from various industry bodies, States and other stakeholders have already been documented, here are a few innovative tweaks to make the first year of the new decade a successful one for the nation’s economy.
It may be recalled that last year’s Budget had presented most taxpayers an “à la carte menu” along with the standard “thali.” The idea was to put some more money into the hands of citizens, which they could then plough back into the economy by spending on goods and services. The pandemic-ravaged country tottered as businesses collapsed and households were thrown into poverty. Therefore, the first crucial step for Sitharaman should be to remove the bureaucratic turn of phrases in Income-Tax laws and make them truly “Saral (easy)” for citizens, while reducing rates and allowing higher exemptions on basic income slabs or savings. The second important dimension of the tax regime would be to ensure a fitter, lower-slab Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. Retail, tourism, hospitality and aviation are some of the sectors which need urgent attention and providing them temporary time-bound relief through reduced GST rates or showing an intent to do so, could help.
The expected revenue loss could be offset by a robust disinvestment process that has been stalled for a long time. If the Government intended to divest its stakes in IDBI and list the largest public sector insurer LIC in 2020, it has, as a run up to the Budget 21-22, brought Air India, BPCL, the Shipping Corporation of India and Bharat Earth Movers Limited to the initial expression of interest stage. All of these are potential blockbuster “go to market” targets which could fill the Government’s coffers if successfully implemented. The Centre is aware of the potential stalling of the process by political forces. Therefore, it needs to start utilising its efficiency in mass media communication to educate the citizens about the need and benefits of these disinvestments. An ironclad decision has to be taken by keeping employees of these large public sector undertakings (PSUs) in the loop, along with global roadshows to attract some of the best funds and corporates to run a 21st century-ready enterprise. Historically, every country that has prospered has done so by realising the wealth of its existing resources and rechanneling its efficiencies to adapt to a new world. It is time for the Government to get out of business and do so with conviction.
The third item on Sitharaman’s list should be creating jobs, the targets for which now are more steep due to COVID-19 induced downward pressure on the economy. Construction, infrastructure and healthcare are some of the sectors which need incentivisation for creating more jobs. The Finance Minister can lay out a sustainable job creating road map for the healthcare sector, which was in focus in 2020 and is expected to remain so this year, too. It could provide tax incentives and other concessions for setting up healthcare training facilities or utilising existing Government-owned dispensaries and healthcare centres across the country. This has to be done with private investments and local community participation to keep a check on the progress made. Each Government healthcare centre can be put on a digital highway (of course data privacy issues will have to be dealt with separately) of cooperation and excellence.
Telemedicine and teleconsultation have emerged as another sunshine sector of opportunity for millions in India. It requires nuanced skills to be able to provide good quality healthcare over the phone to patients located far away. The training required for teleconsultation and regulatory frameworks need to be quickly developed to be able to cash in on the huge opportunity for job creation. The Finance Minister should set clear-cut policy objectives and targets in the Budget speech to help investments in the sector. Putting all State-owned healthcare infrastructure on digitally connected highways would require Information Technology backhaul spend which would come from private enterprises. Incentives provided to the Information Technology sector for the creation of this digital skeleton for healthcare could be this Government’s biggest achievement in a post COVID-19 world. It goes with the Prime Minister’s claim of India being the world’s pharmacy and with the theme of nimble engineering for health equipment suitable for Indian conditions. One of the critiques of the Finance Minister has been that while many of her colleagues align themselves with stated policy drives towards Digital India, Sitharaman has generally kept away. It is time for the Finance Minister to give technology its due credit and dedicate a significant portion of the Budget on technologies that will take India into the next decade.
(The writer is a policy analyst. The views expressed are personal.)
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
To enhance our share in global trade, we have to address issues that plague our industry and business. Even though the efforts are on to do this, they need steady acceleration
Ever since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was founded in 1995, trade as a proportion of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen by about 50 per cent. But India’s share in the global merchandise trade is less than two per cent and in services trade it is less than four per cent. The WTO conducted India’s seventh Trade Policy Review (TPR) between January 6-8. Since the last TPR in 2015, India has implemented several measures to facilitate trade, simplified procedures and fast-tracked customs clearances for imports and exports. This earned us a substantial jump in global rankings in the World Bank’s (WB’s) Ease of Doing Business Index.
India has sought a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes and offered to share its public stockpile of foodgrain to help poor countries. Big parts of the developing world will rely on Indian manufacturers to supply easy to administer, affordably priced Coronavirus vaccines in large quantities. In order to ensure equitable and affordable access to vaccines and COVID-treatment for all, India has asked for a short-term package of effective measures by the WTO, including a temporary waiver of certain Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions to increase manufacturing capacity and ensure timely and affordable availability of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for the virus. India has also sought a multilateral initiative to provide easier cross-border movement of healthcare professionals. Globalisation — liberal trade flows across national borders — has been a defining feature of the global economy after World War-II.
In the pre-World War-I era, Globalisation 1.0 was characterised by rather unrestricted immigration and cross-border capital and trade flows. Then the world became more interdependent and regulated in the 19th Century (Globalisation 2.0). This has been both, the cause and effect of booming economic activity and unprecedented increase in the global population.
Globalisation 3.0 is the phase from the late 1990s, characterised by the advent of the internet and the establishment of the WTO. Major advances in information and communications technology drastically altered the trade and investment world, solving some problems and creating new ones; creating new risks of fraud, manipulation, data privacy and security. Trade and capital liberalisation — particularly through regional free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties — brought the integration of markets and cross-border expansion of global value chains, creating critical interdependencies.
Trade has been steadily growing since the early ’70s with two major setbacks, one in 2008-09 as a fallout of the global financial crisis and the second in 2018-19 due to trade tensions and the economic slowdown, now exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Needless to say, travel and hospitality industries have been the hardest hit, among other sectors of the economy.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2019 report highlights that international trade in physical goods has increased from about $10 trillion in 2005 to more than $18.5 trillion in 2014. It fell in 2015/2016 before rebounding to $19.4 trillion in 2018. Trade in services increased between 2005 and 2018 from about $2.5 trillion to $5.5 trillion.
The relative importance of developed countries as suppliers in international markets is declining but they still account for about half of the value of exports of goods and about two-thirds of exports of services. In 2018, the export of goods from developed countries was almost $10 trillion, while that of services added up to about $3.7 trillion. In 2018, developing countries’ exports touched almost $9.5 trillion in goods and about $2 trillion in services. Of these, BRICS exported about one-third, $3.8 trillion in goods and about $600 billion in services.
Roughly, in 2018 the global GDP was about $80 trillion and global trade was about $25 trillion. India’s GDP of about $2.5 trillion and exports of about $0.5 trillion (around $300 billion goods exports and $200 billion services exports) is a small fraction of the global GDP and exports. The period of Globalisation 4.0 is marked by disruption in the idea of the whole world as a single market due to breach of trust and allegations of manipulative trade. This trust deficit is causing even regional groupings to unravel or freeze. Terror, immigration, data privacy and security, political/security implications of economic decisions on trade and investments and automation’s impact on the future of work are some of the major concerns.
The last 20 years have seen turbulence in international relations caused by persisting concerns on terror and manipulative trade and investment undermining fair practices and trust. Last year saw great disruption in global trade and commerce and the Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated fault lines. The belief that every country will play by the rules of the game has been seriously dented. During the pandemic, India emerged as a globally responsible nation and provided critical medical supplies to around 150 countries as the “pharmacy of the world”, enhancing its credibility as a reliable supplier. Multiple hurdles in access to medicines at affordable prices created by lopsided WTO rules for protecting intellectual property need to be removed. The TRIPS Agreement did not envisage a pandemic where demand for vaccines/medicines would surge. Intellectual Property Rights should not block access to critical medicines and other devices required for the treatment of the virus. These should be declared as public goods and made affordable with fair compensation to inventors.
The WTO is facing grave challenges in the form of unilateral measures and countermeasures, deadlocks in key negotiations and impasse. Preserving the WTO’s fundamental principles and objectives is crucial to ensuring the credibility of the multilateral rules-based trading system. The WTO needs reforms to restore trust, fairness and responsibility in international trade.
Global economic partnerships must keep in mind the different size and population of each country, unequal levels of economic and human development and different political systems. India has placed humanity at the centre of its global engagement policy. Our democratic credentials, rule-based polity and a steadfast track record in sincerely meeting commitments under all treaties and conventions are appreciated by the world.
The pandemic has shown that the global economy needed to focus and brace itself against external supply shocks. Global economic resilience can be achieved by stronger domestic economic capacities, restoring the health of the financial system and diversification of international trade.
The pandemic has provided a window of opportunity for building capacities, expanding manufacturing as well as plugging critical gaps and vulnerabilities in global value chains. India has traditionally enjoyed global goodwill and respect as a healthcare and technology services provider and holds immense promise to boost services export. With ‘Make in India’ and ‘Assemble in India’, a call has been given to global businesses to consider the country as an alternative manufacturing hub, producing not just for the large and growing domestic market but also for exports. Production-linked incentives have been rolled out across several sectors. India has a centuries old, rich tradition of international trade. The terms of global trade became seriously adverse during colonial rule. India was so scarred by colonial exploitation, started by a trading company that became a political power, that post-Independence India almost opted to develop as a closed economy.
The process of opening up the economy started in the ’90s but despite several reforms, business is still heavily burdened and hassled. The regulatory and taxation regime continues to be burdensome, costly, dilatory and arbitrary. Unfettered discretionary powers fuel corruption and harassment. Although in some areas technological innovations like randomised risk-based selection of cases for scrutiny and inspections to detect non-compliance have been introduced, a lot more remains to be done. We have to change the cutting edge of administration, mired in inefficiency and corruption down the multi-layer structure of governance, up to the lowest level. This affects business and entrepreneurship. To enhance our share in global trade, we have to address issues that plague our industry and business. Even though the efforts are on to do this, they need steady acceleration.
(The writer is former Special Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The views expressed are personal.)
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)
Joe Biden’s inauguration paves the way for a new, friendlier chapter in Indo-US relations
A belligerent Donald Trump took his final bow from the White House, leaving the stage wide open in the world’s oldest democracy for President Joe Biden and his Administration to take the centre stage. Global leaders, and the world at large, expectantly witnessed the inauguration of Biden and his Vice-President, the Indian-origin Kamala Harris who has made history by becoming America’s first woman Vice-President, at the Capitol Hill early on Thursday. With Biden taking oath as the 46th President of the United States (US), the theme is now centred around “America United”. Immediately after taking over, Biden overturned several of the controversial decisions taken by his predecessor and started working as per his own agenda. The President has already signed an executive order that will eventually provide relief and citizenship to migrants who have no legal documents: Of the 1.1 crore such population, there would be five lakh Indian beneficiaries. Biden also revoked the decision to ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries which had been clamped by Trump in 2017. The country being the largest economy, it goes without saying, its possible policy changes under a new President matter to all nations, and are keenly being looked forward to. Policy watchers have been waiting for President Biden to spell out the broad contours of the US policy on globalisation and international relations, especially with regard to India and China, emerging economies, besides an economic stimulus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most expect a return to the pre-Trump era with the US playing a more active role in world dynamics. In the initial hours after taking over, of course, the Biden Administration has given an encouraging preview of what’s likely to come. His top officials, such as Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken recently said that India had been a “bipartisan success story” of successive administrations, and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has also been batting for stronger Indo-US ties. Biden himself is a vocal proponent of friendly ties with India and has been a familiar face in New Delhi since his days as the Vice-President under Barack Obama.
The US and India see each other as key strategic partners and analysts expect the Indo-US relations to grow closer and become less strained. With the coalition against China likely to persist, America’s ties with India and other Pacific nations, including Japan and Australia, may experience a further boost. The major policy changes India is hoping for are in terms of software exports, H1 visa policy, minimum compensation for engineers (via which Trump tried discouraging hiring Indian IT professionals). Bilateral trade between the two countries was at $88.75 billion in 2019-20. In 2019, the US was the largest goods export market (17% share) for India and, in terms of goods import supplier, it was the third largest. In April-September 2020, the US was the second biggest source of FDI for India. It’s likely that higher portfolio investments influenced by federal rates will flow into India. Now, Biden might not have a street-smart approach towards the other economic superpower — either by putting pressure on it to scrap the China-2025 plan, or initiating a trade war — but he might show a pragmatic attitude. With India focusing on becoming a manufacturing hub, there might be a rise in US funding influx and India would hopefully become the alternative choice.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)