Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vitamin deficiency

Apparently prevalent in India. A different view here. In my own case, I visited our physician years ago when I was feeling very letharic. He said that I was aneamic and iron supplements helped. The next time he said it was vitamin D deficiency and supplements helped.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Update on Bali package

"While India is championing the cause of the least-developed countries, its primary focus is an agricultural agreement on food security. WTO rules mandate that countries cannot subsidise more than 10% of agriculture because it would distort the market, and the organisation has various other rules on minimum support prices for farmers and stock holding limits for grains. Simply the Food Security Act ensures that India’s agricultural subsidies could exceed these limits.
The Bali agreement sought to give India some leeway on this matter by putting its food security programme in an Amber Box – which means that other countries agree to a “peace clause” and will not legally challenge India subsidies even if they do breach WTO limits for the moment. This gives the organisation four years to work on a broader agricultural resolution.

Double Standard
India would like to put the entire programme into what in WTO parlance is known as the Green Box, making food security programmes completely legal rather than just permissible. China has also supported this position. It has also been convincingly argued that the position taken by the developed world – that this would distort the market – is a double standard. Agricultural economist Jacques Berthelot has argued for some time now that the United States has placed most of its hefty subsidies in the Green Box, while also under-notifying the amount of agriculture it subsidises.
For the moment, this means the WTO’s signature agreement – the Bali Package – is not going to be delivered any time soon."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Evan Osnos on corruption in Chinese railways

Boss Rail from New Yorker, October 2012. This is part of Chapter in his book, 'The Age of Ambition'. In the update, Osnos says that in spite of corruption, unlike other corrupt officials, Lin Zhijun had produced a railway system. Liu was given death sentence with reprieve in  July 2013.

A detailed discussion on the New Development Bank

from Michael Hudson and Leo Panitch. Both are of Marxist persuasion and have written books on globalization. Yves Smith posted the discussion with her comments:
"The US could lose reserve currency status through a catastrophe that severely damages its economy, like a massive natural disaster or unforeseen consequences of having its aggressions escalate into a hot war. But the actions the BRICs are taking don’t rise to any kind of threat, and unless they take vastly more concerted actions, are unlikely to displace the dollar in the next ten years.
An interesting aspect of this talk is the difference of views between Michael Hudson and Leo Panitch. Hudson is bullish on the BRICs plans, Pantich much less so."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stiglitz interview on the BRICS New Development Bank

A discussion of Karl Polanyi ideas

Arundhati Roy on Gandhi

According to Arundhati Roy Groupies "It is time to unveil a few truths about a person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on the acceptance of a most brutal social hierarchy ever known, the caste system … Do we really need to name our universities after him?" Roy said.
According to Nicholas Dirks in "Castes of Mind" (page 234)
"...Gandhi modified his views on caste over the years..... When, years later. Gandhi defended himself against attacks by Ambedkar over his views on caste, he wrote that “Caste has nothing to with religion. It is a custom whose origin I do not know and do not need to know for the satisfaction of my spiritual hunger. But I do know that it is harmful both to spiritual and national growth.” At roughly the same time, he stated that “Caste has to go”"

These statements of Gandhi do not seem to be well known. The references that Dirks gave are: Gandhi, Collected works, vol. 63, p.153, vol. 62, p.121 
Several times Gandhi expressed his admiration for Ambedkar.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Some interesting flowers from India

An old review by Brad DeLong

of  "Seeing Like a state" by James Scott via Chris Blattman which links to other reviews.

CAG report on land acquisition

(via Shivam Vij) in
"Its previous avatar, the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, had been framed to enable the government to acquire land “for projects of public purpose”. However, over the last decade, state governments around the nation used it repeatedly to acquire land for private industry.
The centre and states argued that the industrialisation such land acquisitions encouraged did serve public purpose, by creating jobs and fuelling economic growth. But farmer groups and grassroot organisations maintained that such acquisition deprived farmers of a fair price for the land. Industry, meanwhile, claimed the acquisition was slow and projects were being delayed.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has studied all cases of land acquisition for private industry by the Odisha government between 2001-'12. Its audit report provides hard evidence for what many have suspected till now."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

John Weeks on the Brics Bank

in Open Democracy "We should note that the voting proposal for the BRICS bank follows the IMF/World Bank model – money votes with shares, reflecting each government's financial contribution. The largest voting share goes to China, whose record on investments in Africa is nothing short of appalling (see my discussion of Chinese capital in Zambia).....However, it is worth asking what to me is the obvious question – why is it necessary for countries to borrow to build, for example a new airport? The problem is never ‘money.’  Any government of a country that has its own currency can borrow from the central bank (this would not apply to the 14 members of the West and Central African currency zones). Only one reason comes to mind about borrowing from abroad: that the project may require substantial imports of materials. Thus, the purpose of the borrowing is to obtain US dollars, yen, renminbi, etc.  
Since the purpose of the loan is to obtain foreign currency, the process by which the BRICS bank reviews and assesses specific projects will likely involve the same unnecessary bureaucracy that we find in the World Bank. The suspicion uppermost in my mind is that the purpose of the BRICS bank, as a project funding bank, is to link the finance offered, to the construction firms and materials suppliers located in the BRICS themselves. Certainly, the Chinese Government is notorious for doing this (see 'China insists on "tied aid" in Africa')."

Discussion of the BRICS Development Bank

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Middle class in India and China

A review of Rana Dasgupta's Capital and Evan Osnos' 'The Age of Ambition': In both India and China, the growing middle class is in trouble  (Just finished the first and startin on the second) "Medicine is only one area where the state has stepped back from the lives of Delhi’s middle class. Its main role now, Dasgupta believes, is to keep the poor at bay. That vision in and of itself is nothing new. What is new, though, is Dasgupta’s belief that it isn’t temporary or simply a case of growing pains. He sees Delhi as a place where flourishing wealth and the state have stopped lifting its citizens out of poverty.
In that way, Dasgupta’s vision of Delhi is not much different from the one Evan Osnos offers of China in Age of Ambition ($31, Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Osnos, who spent eight years reporting from Beijing for the Chicago Tribune and The New Yorker, presents a much less desperate and angry view than Dasgupta. But his book is, in its own way, no more optimistic."