Sunday, November 27, 2011

FDI in RETAIL in INDIA: A CORRECT PERSPECTIVE

The total retail industry in India is of the order of Rs. 2.3 lakh Crores and 95% of it comprises of normal Kirana shops, mom & pop stores and about 5% of organised retail sector. The latest government decision to allow 50% FDI in retail is seeing a lot of resistance from the opposition parties as well as some of the constituents of UPA. This action of government will add a small percentage to the organised sector of retail Still the contribution from normal Kirana stores will be in excess of 90%. It is hard to understand the rhetoric of employment opportunities getting reduced as a result of this and it appears to be similar to the fears that were raised when decisions on computerisation of government departments, LIC and banks was taken a few decades back. In fact more job opportunities of a different kind and higher order will emerge which will give all the benefits of employment which accrue from organised sector employment, to our youth.
Any capital inputs to the retail sector will upgrade our back end infrastructure, logistics capabilities and  realty sector directly and benefit the employees involved in giving them better remuneration, working environment and social security. The unorganised sector of retail is a major contributor to black money through excise duty, sales tax and income tax avoidance. Big retail outlets will help reduce this tax avoidance and contribute to the tax kitty of the country.
Those opposing this step are playing petty politics and are in fact working against the interests of their major vote bank of poor citizens of this country as the farmers will be deprived of getting better value of their produce and small time Kirana stores of getting cheaper goods from wholesale mega stores. In fact they are only resorting to mud slinging and slogan mongering for it aids them in cornering the government for immediate political gains. If we don't take decisions that will bring about major changes in our work force capabilities, say from unskilled to semi skilled and finally to skilled one, we are not going to add to their's and country's earnings. The dream of becoming a prosperous and developed nation will never become a reality.

Indian Nuclear Power Option:A Fraud On the Nation

Indian government seems to be in undue haste to sink trillions of rupees of the nation on the nuclear power option as energy security which is defunct, redundant and out of sync with the best available options in the 21st century and  future ahead. No other nation on this globe seems to have any conviction on this energy security option, not even the main advocates and suppliers of nuclear power technology themselves.
Apart from the safety and environment concerns associated with nuclear power option, it is the civil liability magnitude which seems to be beyond any tangible solution. The total damages in the case of a full blow  out can be thousands of lives, condemned area of about 10000 sq. kms. and effects lingering on for many decades. In terms of money, the damages amount to a whopping sum of Rs 90000 Crores or higher. Who is going to pay? If Government of India has to exercise nuclear power option, what provisions have been made for blow out damages? If damage amount is taken care of, even the much touted lower cost of nuclear energy production becomes much more than the cost of production of solar and wind energy.Lastly, what surety is there that India will be ensured nuclear fuel supplies for all times to come; for tomorrow the economic and political interests of nuclear cartel countries and India could clash. Or does India has to be under the black mail threat for all times to come once it exercises the nuclear power option. Do we have a suitable and fail safe penalty clause included in these contracts for we are going to sink a fortune in these plants.
While Germany has decided to phase out its nuclear power option completely by 2030, the French and British governments are under tremendous pressure from a vast majority of their populace to phase out nuclear energy completely by 2050 or so.In USA no new nuclear plants have come up during the last three decades. It cannot be just a coincidence that the most developed countries are fighting against the very presence of nuclear power plants on their soil. Indian government is either oblivious of the concerns that are bothering the citizens of developed nations or is holding them back from the nation for reasons best known to it.
India is likely to add up about 5 lakh mw of electrical power in the coming two decades and a similar demand is likely to emanate from Asia and Africa who are likely to be denied access to nuclear power.The energy requirements of developed world will be confined to small amount of replacement of their obsolete plants. In this scenario, the advanced countries will like to delay the employment of huge funds for developing renewable clean energy technologies till such time they earn huge sums of money from their earlier investments in nuclear power technologies. The same money will be deployed for researches and industrial infrastructure development for clean renewable energy technologies.This is the right time and opportunity for India to make best use of trillions of rupees to be spent in power sector by giving impetus to relevant researches, technology development and manufacturing facilities for renewable clean energy options and become world leaders in this field which is going to be the backbone of development and prosperity in the immediate, intermediate and long term future.The government policies are certainly denying the nation the golden opportunity to become world leaders.
Let us wake up and not allow these politicians to opt for nuclear power option and deny the nation the golden chance to become world leader. Even a mother does not feed milk to its own child unless it cries.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nuclear Power In India:Our worst enemy

Those who are advocating the case of nuclear power for India are the worst enemies of the country and are in fact playing into the hands of Western Giants by nurturing their quest to remain global super economic powers and technology leaders for the coming fifty years at least. Let us not fall into this trap and place trillions of dollars as the cost of nuclear power plant technologies in their hands. These technologies are definitely defunct and out of sync with the energy security concepts of  21st century. The huge sums of money gained by these countries through sale of these technologies will enable them to remain technology leaders through major researches and engineering infrastructure development in the upcoming fields of wind and solar energy. Let those in power and policy makers of the nation show to the nation that they are working for Indian National Interest in the same way as US and French leaders are working for their country's interests.
It should be clear to one and all of this country that western nations have not suddenly developed special love and concern for India and its poor masses for nothing. They are only ensuring their own economic interests. For if today India does not buy 30000 mw of nuclear power plants, all their efforts and investments in research and technology infrastructure development for nuclear power plants will go unrewarded as none of their favored friends are willing to buy new nuclear plants or replace the earlier ones.They have little incentive for pouring in large sums of money in solar and wind power as catering to replacement requirements of nuclear and thermal power plants is a smaller economic activity and new economic powers like Germany, Japan, China and India are also gearing up to have a share in this pie.
For India, the opportunity of developing wind and solar energy is something like 75000 to 80000 mw in the coming decade. If we harness our research talent and expertise of engineering giants of the country for technology development, we will reap the benefits of this massive in house requirements and opportunity of massive scale up of engineering operations. We can easily become the world leaders and exporters of these technologies to the whole world.
So far for the opportunity to become world leaders in the field of power generation. Let us now concentrate on the problems associated with nuclear power generation which in themselves are strong enough reasons for abandoning the path of energy security through nuclear options.
  • No nuclear reactor can be 100% safe. A normal accident of whatever magnitude in any industry can at worst affect a couple of lives for once, whereas the worst possible nuclear accident can destroy thousands of lives,affect very large tracts of lands and couple of generations of those involved in the accident. These accidents could be a result of engineering failures, natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunami, terror attacks etc.
  • The capital cost of  1 mw of nuclear power plant is approx. 40 crores which as it is exorbitant. If we add the cost of radioactive waste management ( about 10% ) and insurance liability cost against terror attacks and accident damage ( 100% or even more ), nuclear power  becomes only a liability to the nation. This is perhaps the reason that no new nuclear power plants came up in USA during the last three decades and Germany has decided to totally abandon it by 2025. Japan will be no longer be replacing their old reactors. Australia the second largest producer of nuclear fuel has no nuclear power plant.
  • Problems of proliferation, susceptibility to theft or sale to terrorist and criminal organisations
  • Extremely long gestation periods of 10 - 15 years
  • India will always be prone to blackmail at the whims and fancies of fuel suppliers. After all we have been subject to this blackmail earlier also.

Indian Reality:Rudderless Education system

Successive governments have been telling us that education is the foremost priority for them. In spite of that we still have millions of illiterates even after 64 years of independence. The first and foremost priority must be accorded to literacy drive and simultaneously evolving an education system and infrastructure that could do some value addition to the earning prospects of an individual and his contribution towards the growth and prosperity of the country.
We are producing graduates and post graduates in large numbers and a majority of them in mere IIIrd division. We do not realise that we are wasting our money and scarce resources on these people. All such students or candidates get through in examinations because the universities as well as teachers do not want to have low pass percentages. Additionally it encourages discretion, graft and favouritism etc.during selections in jobs and puts sub standard candidates on government posts.
Our education system produces about 3 million graduates ( B.A.'s ) , about 1 million technical graduates, 0.18 million MBA's, 0.27 million polytechnic diplomas and 0.75 million ITI's. Out of all these so called educated and qualified class about 80% are simply unemployable. Instead of contributing towards India's progress, they are just a drain on the system as a lot of government money is spent on these colleges and institutes. These people invariably find jobs in the government sector wherein utter discretion is used in the name of  'Interview' and a lot of money changes hands in the form of bribe. One is not surprised to read reports in newspapers that over 8000 teachers in Bihar failed class V test. Only 5% of our Information Technology graduates are employable in the real sense and when it comes to Engineering Graduates and MBA's, a vast majority of them get placed at sub 1.00 Lakh annual packages. So far for the story of white collar job aspirants.
In the Skilled manpower segment which is the essence of progress of productivity of a country the situation is all the more worse. Firstly the quality and standard of skilled labour and supervisors is simply not up to the mark. Secondly we have a very distorted pyramid structure when technical manpower is in question. Imagine for 1 million engineering graduate pass outs per annum, we produce only 0.27 million diploma holders and 0.75 million ITI's. On the top of it we have about 200 million unskilled workers who just have two hands as their competence. There is an urgent need to convert these hands into Semi Skilled ones or Blue Collar Manpower  which includes Plumbers, Masons, Carpenters, Electricians, Drivers and workers in leather, jewellery and textile industry to name only a few. It is only in India that in these categories we have only 2% of manpower with any formal vocational training. In Industrially advanced countries more than 90% workers have proper vocational training which helps increasing the productivity and quality of produce and earnings of the individual.
This is the result of collective wisdom of our elected representatives who claim to have only nation's interest and the welfare of poor masses in mind when they form policies. The fact is that they have not shown any sincerity or concern towards the country or its Aam Admi during sixty years of meaningless and politically motivated governance. My Country men, it is time to wake up, for only good, selfless, sincere and honest people at the top can guide the nation and its poor millions to prosperity in less than a decade.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Indian Governance:Motivated and Guided by Corruption

The menace of corruption should only be talked of and should never be addressed to is the guiding principle of all political parties in India. If it were not true we would have seen some measures, some activity to fight it and reduce it over the last six decades. If only our rulers were  a little sensitive to this problem or in fact not motivated to let it escalate for their personal,  party or political gains, it would not have grown exponentially. Even to day when we have a very large parallel economy affecting the achieving of social and economic goals  at the desired speed, there seems to be little effort to put even a symbolic control on corruption, an effective control is perhaps expecting too much from our motivated politicians.
Corruption results in black money which in turn is a result of discretionary powers vested with the authority in our country where discretion is only motivated by self interest rather than the good of organisation and country. This fact is known to all those in power whether in States or Centre but self interest and political interests and compulsions force them to keep their traps shut and make them insensitive to the demons of corruption and black money.The total polity of this country talks only of black money stashed in foreign banks, for getting it back is a long drawn affair and is riddled with so many international complications and the time so gained gives them a golden opportunity to carry on endlessly in mud slinging on each other and keep all avenues of earning ill gotten money for themselves, their parties and their relatives, friends, cronies and political clout.
We have never heard of 10 to 15 lakh Crores of black money being generated every year which is almost equal to our annual budget and it requires action solely by the Centre and State governments. Surprisingly no politician of this country has ever talked about it. The reasons for not doing so are best known to them but do not require any rocket science for a common man to guess their ulterior motives. Imagine how fast  poverty eradication, education and health care for one and all and giving a comfortable and meaningful life to the have nots of this country can progress if our annual budgets can be doubled through controlling black money generation.
Sisters and brothers of India, whether from villages or cities, from  any religion, caste or creed,rich or poor, don't be taken in by any of the tricks of politicians, for end of corrupt people  and corruption will be the end of your poverty and miseries.Your poverty is a direct result of  corruption  by  those in authority and power.