Showing posts with label Our World. Show all posts

Will Harvard Boy Chidambaram Make India The Promised Land Again for American Business?

There are ways to test the worth of things. But the means of real tests are always harsh and bruising like the touchstone on which you rub your gold nugget to see if it is genuine. For Harvard, the proof of the pudding is when its alumni get roasted in the harshest ovens of real life business and come out shining.

Palaniyappan Chidambaram, an alumnus of Harvard, is about to prove his worth with another stint as India's Finance Minister. But in his case, his nemesis and his biggest distracter is also an ex professor of Harvard, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

The problem is that, to gain the confidence of foreign investors, Chidambaram has to find ways to arrest and reverse the powerful negative trend in India's growth which has ended up in a yawning gap in the nation's fiscal balance and high inflation, left behind by his predecessor and the new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Perhaps this was also the main reason behind the decision of the UPA leadership to project Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate.

Moreover, since his last stint, despite the confidence of the political leadership he enjoys and repeatedly publicly proclaimed by the Prime Minister, Chidambaram is confronted with a variety of allegations from electoral tinkering to corruption.

While being the country's Finance Minister, Chidambaram has also to fight off extreme political attacks and damaging allegations of corruption, pending legal scrutiny in the courts, which Dr Swamy and the main opposition BJP are spearheading, making his task really daunting for any politician.

To be fair to Chidambaram, he has already been credited with some convincing reforms to India's archaic investment framework during his stint as the Finance Minister during the previous government of the United Progressive alliance of Sonia Gandhi.

Though Chidambaram had to leave the position in the Finance Ministry with an unfinished agenda in the wake of the 9/11 Mumbai Terror attack to take over the Home Ministry, at the behest of the party leadership, unfortunately, no one gives him the credit for stabilizing the country's governance and internal security with swift and decisive actions. Like everywhere good acts in politics have no rewards in India too.

However the impressive measures of modernisation and reforms he undertook as the finance minister is much recognised by the foreign and Indian business community.

In fact this is the main reason why the sentiment of foreign investors has been boosted raising the NIFTY a couple of hundred points since his elevation, from the beginning of the month, as the Finance Minister by the Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh.

Though the political baggage he has to carry is making his task of putting the country's economy back on track extremely hard, his task is in fact not only important for India and its future but is vital for the survival of the UPA and its success in the elections to be held in 2014.

It is this imperative against which Chidambaram's mettle being tested which makes his actions and steps so vital to the world investors looking for successful business in India. It looks like the UPA leadership has realised that it is time for decisive action if the government has to expect another term after the next elections. This will certainly strengthen the hands of the new Finance Minister, giving hope to the investors in India and abroad.

However, a host of other issues from land reforms to mining and power generation which are outside of the Finance Minister's control also need to be sorted out on extremely high priority, which will decide Chidambaram's success in turning the economy around.

So far, it looks like Chidambaram has been successful in boosting the sentiments by quick and decisivemeasures and steps everyone has appreciated. Whether he will be able to carry through the political anarchy which modern India is turning in to through the so called civil society and anti corruption movement of Anna Hazare and others is a matter to see.

If what Harvard instilled in the Finance Minister by his education will stand him in his seemingly gargantuan tasks of being decisive and taking assertive actions in the face of furious opposition, the world famous university can really be proud.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Posted by Unknown

Is There Anything Mitt Romney Can Learn from India's Anna Hazare Movement?

Anna Hazare has proved to be the modern Don Quixote of India. Your life is only worth as the cause you stand for and legitimate action by the government can wipe out your cause. That is what Anna Hazare movement eventually shows the world. If America's Mitt Romney has taken up any cause and is counting on it to win the election he has to make sure it won't be gone in thin air, come November.
Like any other consummate politician who he claims he isn't, Anna Hazare took on an opportunistic fight against corruption when an avalanche of perception of rampant corruption was engulfing India and its UPA government, led by the Congress party.

A year back, negative public sentiment, fanned by a series of presumptive allegations by India's CAG of loss of billions of dollars to the government due to corruption, gave Anna Hazare a cause worth giving his life for. The protest and agitation by Anna Hazare, who went on a fast for several days, forcing the Indian parliament to agree to enact a bill, caught the attention of the world by the mass following it generated.
However, a year own his attempt to rekindle the massive public support he had has fallen flat, with hardly a fraction of the masses coming forward to support his fast and forcing his gang to adapt the path of politics to achieve their goals.
So what has happened even as the proclaimed cause of removing corruption from the public life remained unresolved?
The problem was, like Don Quixote, Anna and his gang were trying to tilt his imaginary windmill of corrupt government whereas the real cause lay in the staggering inequality in education, healthcare and housing of urban population, heightened by the influx of massive amount of foreign investment in recent times.
The influx of easy foreign money has since abetted, even retracted with several billions of dollars withdrawn from the Indian stock market on account of falling confidence and global crisis. The reality of faltering growth and unemployment has dawned on the Indian urban elite making Anna's life not all that important to save at any cost.
Perhaps, more importantly, genuinely honest actions of the government and the political leadership to let law take its due course, which saw several high profile ministers and business leaders involved in corrupt practices behind the bar, had a much more sobering effect on the public sentiment as well as anyone prone for corruption.
Though this has not vastly changed the corruption faced by the people in day to day life, several high profile politicians and administrators all over India have been pulled up, giving a common feeling that, after all serious governments can do with existing laws to act against corruption.
Though a series of faux pas by Anna Hazare and his team over the year might have eroded the credibility, this general impression of positive government action may have more do with the evaporation of the mass support for Anna Hazare.
Of course there are no comparable issues in the American public life Mitt Romney can declare to undertake a fast for which will turn millions in his support. Corruption, nepotism and related evils, which get promptly punished whenever exposed, are a way of American life everyone has taken for granted. Mitt Romney's fasting is not going to change much.
However on issues like the Obamacare, which Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal, he might find the hard lesson from Anna Hazare that a cause can disappear over time, worth taking note of.
Given that the presidential aspirant of the GOP has numerous other issues like his taxes and those related to his employer to convince the American public about, this may not be important to him. But for the world who is keenly watching his steps abroad and see only faux pas whether it is with the British Olympics or his recent visit to the Middle East, a scenario of a landslide victory for President Obama, already being talked about, will be more reassuring.

Saturday, August 04, 2012
Posted by Unknown

London Olympics 2012, the Night Danny Boyle and the British made Rest of the World Feeling Cheated and Green Eyed.

What secret mission can be more daring for James Bond than whisking the Queen and dropping her in to the Olympics opening Ceremony from the sky? If anyone ever doubted whether the British Monarchy is in touch with the common man, is there any better proof than a Monarch willing to amuse the whole world, for the sake of her country, in such a down to earth appearance? The daring Royal entry in to the Olympics alone has redeemed the pride of the British who have suffered a series of mishaps and international doubts about their ability to stage the London 2012 Olympics, by their sheer sense of humour and ingenuity.

The truth is the world is dazzled and jealous how the British pulled off a magical night as their own with characters that in fact belonged to the whole world. The London Olympics opening event is slowly getting its shower of praises after not so flattering and sarcastic remarks from foreign media.

There were some early cringe-worthy scenes of pre-industrial Britain: maypole dancers, thatched cottages, mustachioed beekeepers, and a hirsute Kenneth Branagh dressed up as British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel orating from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
At times quixotic, the Opening Ceremonies were immediately accused by some of being simply too British, laced as they were with obscure references to the National Health Service and English club music

Despite being fantastic eye catching events, many people can hardly remember anything from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing or several others before, which were telecast to the whole world.

From Chincha Alta (Peru) to Siem Reap (Cambodia), who doesn't hold a little corner of their heart with some affection for many of the characters who enlivened the evening? Starting with the Queen, several living and fictional characters like Mr Bean, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, James Bond, Harry Potter, Paul McCartney, David Beckham and many others have left indelible marks on human memory and will continue to do for centuries.

Is there anyone fortunate to have a basic education who is not taught of the Industrial revolution? Is there anyone who whish they didn't have a universal health assurance epitomised by the British NHS, except perhaps the Americans who think it is a crazy idea?

Of course one could argue that going back further in history, to Shakespeare and Henry VIII; you could be really English and British. Though that would have been more 'Greek' to the rest of the world, there would still be some universality about it.

The reality is, it is almost impossible to conceive a 'totally British' Olympics 2012 opening ceremonylike the one presented by Danny Boyle without having a universal appeal. That is because there was hardly a 'British' character in the whole show that didn't belong to the whole world.

Yet, the London Olympics opening spectacle of Danny Boyle, with the Bond-Queen séance and Mr Bean's version of Chariots of fire, both of which have gone viral on the social web, is already being etched in to the human psyche.

If the British characters have become the world's own, you can't blame the British for it. Neither can you blame the English Language. It is the genuinely human appeal each of these British born or conceived heroes evoke in human minds which make Macbeth to Slumdog Millionaire endearing to human minds, something no other nation has been successful at.

That is the quintessential Brutishness evinced by Danny Boyle's wonderful and ingenious production the British can be really proud of. In fact a celebration of the freedom of spirit and mind engrained in the British social values, and in the ultimate British sense of humour.

As the IOC president Jacques Rogge reminded in his opening speech, London is home to the Olympics games in many ways, by establishing many of the ground rules in the 1948 games and proceedings. Danny Boyle and his team can be proud that the 2012 Olympics Opening Gala will make it even more so by establishing the standard and benchmark for future opening events.

That sheer regimentation, pyrotechnics and robotics, at the cost of millions of dollars just for showmanship and the grandeur of any event have come to the end of their limits, is shown by the Beijing Olympics. That the way forward, in the real world beset with economic crisis, is the ingenious use of imagination and modern technological innovations in media and imagery is shown by the London 2012 ceremony.

Yet it will be almost impossible to better what was seen on the night of the 2012 Olympics opening night in London in the imaginable future, because Danny Boyle has already pulled out the best of everything.

Whether you like it or not the British have done it again. No point being jealous about it.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Posted by Unknown

Will the Indomitable British Spirit Still Save the London Olympics From a Fiasco?

The Brits, as a nation, get pretty excited even at the drop of a royal hat. Anything remotely British like mere thought of winning a Wimbledon or World cup which were last won decades ago can turn the national pride and spirit a notch or two.

From the public reception the Olympic torch received around the UK, braving heavy rains, floods and even attempts to snatch it, the British are determined to make it a brilliant success by all means.
Yet judging from the sparse and lukewarm and evennegative coverage of the much expected event and its preparations during the week before the event in the media, the London Olympics seems to inspire no one, even the British. With the proposed strike of the border security and London trains Is it heading towards the greatest fiasco of the new century?
One reason for the global lack of enthusiasm no doubt is the paucity of adrenaline which has dried up in the wake the excitement over several recent sporting events like the Euro cup, Wimbledon and others.
Perhaps it Is the unpleasant reality, that at the end of the day, when the flags come down and the visitors go back, no jobs, only the bricks and mortar of the shiny infra structure in London will remain, which douse the Olympics spirit? You have examples of Olympics and Commonwealth games of the past to prove that claims of these expensive international sporting events paving way to economicgrowth haven't been substantiated by economic growth in the past.
There is a sense of imminent disaster in the air with  men in military uniforms controlling movement and security around the game venues and advice being given to Londoners to stay locked inside their homes. Is it the over regimentation, which makes it look as if the Olympics games are being held in Pyongyang by the North Korean President Kim Jong-un rather than by the most democratic nation in the world, which fail to enthuse the crowds?

Is it the sponsorship mania which has killed the goose before it can lay any eggs? Each day more and more dictats are being issued about phones, cameras, tee shirts and shoes and food you can take to the games which makes you wonder what you can wear and take to the games and what you will be left with when you come back?
In fact there was great euphoria and excitement eight years back when the United Kingdom won the rights to stage the 2012 Olympics. Perhaps that was the greatest moment for the UK for this Olympics. A series of controversies around the games have overshadowed most of the preparations towards the games.
The Olympics 2012 Logo itself came to be criticised for being various things other than an inspiring symbol of the planned games.
The Orbit, a commemorative structure, which looked like a heap of scrap and eye sore reminiscent of its sponsor rather than sports came to be much criticised.
Now the mascots of the Olympics 2012 are under similar scrutiny for being something no one can judge.
The British weather, particularly unkind this year, with heavy rains and floods coming in the way of the Olympic torch hasn't helped.
It is amazing how very often these international events create international anxiety by reports arising out of unfinished preparations or snags during trials, raising questions about the success of the events. Yet once the inaugural ceremony is over and the games get under way, the world is mesmerised by the new heights of human physical prowess and endurance displayed by the athletes.
Despite the snags, the reported problems of traffic chaos and the imminent strikes of border staff and London bus drivers, the British spirit, hopefully will render the much awaited Olympics 2012 a memorable event of the new century. If there must be a reason to be British and feel British it will no doubt be in plenty in the coming days. David Beckham has already shown that.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Posted by Unknown

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