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PARTICIPATORY NOTES OR P-NOTES – A CHAOS; CONFUSION; TREACHERY OR SOME THING ELSE?…..A JOURNEY ….

P – NOTES – AN OVERVIEW

Perhaps, since Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the present Finance Minister of UPA government (2009 – 2014) has presented his finance bill on March 16, 2012, the Term “P – Notes [Participatory Notes]” has transformed or metamorphosed in an instrument of mass massacre at Indian capital markets. Probably in current era we do not have Black Friday but probably a new kind of day, i.e., P – Note day, though the common term “Black Monday” is associated with these P – Notes. Even a rumor on the issue of GAAR and P – Note is good enough to create an epic blood bath in Indian Capital Markets these days.

The class of investors suffering maximum burnt are ‘the new breed of retail investors’, and I feel this to be the worst impact of the event, as this phenomenon may turn the retail investors chary and scary both. Consequently the flow of money to capital markets may decline significantly, rather it may get once again get diverted to safe heavens, i.e., to nationalized bank in India, out of which majority are in cash plus state. This mean the capital that was meant for capital markets will get locked into banks and simultaneously these banks will have to shell out more amount as interest on these deposits; without getting any returns on them (as there are no borrowers available in market, who may love to pick money from bank in the regime of sky rocketing interest rates).

Participatory notes can be found making it to news headlines every alternate day, but due to all bad reasons. They have been in the root of biggest fall witnessed at capital markets in current era. The apex regulatory bodies of Capital Market and Money Market,, i.e., SEBI and RBI are also making it to the headlines of pink paper these days, as they are found issuing notices and warnings to the parties using this instrument.

The financial analysts and experts dealing in or related to Capital Markets are neither concerned nor worried about this instrument, as Indian Investors do not and cannot use this instrument. At the same time they do not have a say in the issue, as it is the government which is supposed decide the fate of Participatory Notes. The P – Notes come into prominence when the deliberations are regarding or related to Foreign Institutional Investors [FIIs].

But what are Participatory Notes [P – Notes]

This as question is circulating in the conscious or sub-conscious part of mind of every individual or retail investor. They are a confused lot due to probably two reasons. First being that till a few months ago they had neither heard about any such instrument nor had they thought that something unknown may throw all their investments plans hay ware. Whereas, the second reason is their failure to comprehend that why it is they, who are paying the cost for something not known, and why the government and market regulators are working towards saving their interests.

An Attempt to Explain what P-Notes Are:

Just like any other derivative ‘Participatory Notes’ too are simply ‘derivative instruments’ that is used by investors not registered in India or Mauritius to trade in Indian markets

Numerous FIIs, which are neither registered nor they wish to get registered with SEBI, but are interested in getting exposure to Indian Securities, place their orders through brokerage houses that have Mauritius-based FII accounts.

These ‘P-Notes’ are generated as a consequence of the action of brokers who buy or sell securities on behalf of their clients on their proprietary account and as a result of the transaction, issue ‘notes’ in favor of such foreign investors. It is these notes which are called in profession of securities trading as “Participatory Notes”. The brokerage houses then repatriate the dividends and capital gains back to these entities, which are generated as a consequence of such trade. In this case, the broker acts like an exchange: it executes the trade and uses its internal accounts to settle the trade. They keep the investor’s name anonymous.

Somehow, anonymous investors are not liked by the regulators of Capital Markets. The recently out, Lahiri Committee Report, also lays emphasis on participatory notes, its role and functioning.

 Functioning of Participatory Notes Depicted Diagramatically

Exhibit – 1: Functioning of Participatory Notes

P-Notes, down the line exhibit properties of Hedge Funds. Although SEBI, as a regulator had issued KYC (Know Your Client) guidelines, which include that, FIIs must know all the requisites details about their client and be able to furnish the details of the same, as and when demanded or asked by the regulator, to which there should be strict compliance, failing which the regulator may sentence them to very harsh punishments or even capital punishments, as was done by SEBI in case of UBS Securities. SEBI barred UBS Securities from trading in Indian markets on this premise only as they could not succeed in furnish the information regarding their clients. Though, finally SAT reversed the SEBI’s order.

The Bigger Issue

The bigger question needs to address the debate on hedge funds and why regulators like SEBI and RBI are wary of them….. ? That will be another topic of discussion with some other headline. For the time being the deliberations stop here.

Photograph of Author or Compiler of this Post

Author

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

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Has the Track been cleared …….for Policy Decisions, A Must for Economic Growth & Development

The counting of ballots and consequent declaration of results of Assembly General Elections 2012 held in five states of India on March 06, 2012 completed an important event in the process of Governance. Simultaneously, it also emphasized the importance of concept of Federalism for modern day democracy. On the other side of these developments, an increasing demand world over could be seen, India included, to incorporate or bring about a transformational change in the context to the ‘Governance’ issue.

It seems to be an apt time for revisiting to ensure that ‘Democracy’ as a system of governance adheres to its core attributes and the ‘Institutions’ erected to ensure its real spirit are capable of not alone performing the task, but also of representing the diversity, culture and socioeconomic issues and facets of the people, who have adopted such a system of governance.

It’s being expected by all concerned, that with culmination of Assembly General Elections 2012 of five states, functioning of Union Government would turn more efficient. Union government may now get free from the clutches of ‘Policy – Paralysis’ or ‘Stymied Decision Making Process’, which seemed to have become integral process of decision making by Union Government in Financial Year 2011 – 2012.    

Numerous issues of urgent importance, which were supposed to have been approved or rejected, are still there in cupboards of ministries, either awaiting their turn for being tabled in parliament, or are there in roll back mode awaiting the creation of elusive ‘consensus’. The post Assembly General Elections 2012 picture may not be pleasant to ruling coalition as Union Government, but it has certainly succeeded in putting an end to chaos, confusion or dilemmas born out of various presumptions and  self-fulfilling interests of a number of political parties.

The words, such as ‘Urgent’, ’Important’, ’Immediate’, ’Today ’and ‘Top Priority’ etc. have turned meaningless when seen in context of number of issues to be tabled, discussed and cleared or rejected by both the houses of Parliament, and also in the context of quantum of delay that has already occurred. Some issues out of them may be put, for purpose of illustration, as ‘FDI in Retail Sector’, ‘Direct Tax Reforms’, ‘Entry of Foreign Equity in Indian Airlines Industry’, ‘Issue of 4G Spectrum’, ‘Issue of Telangana’, ‘Creation of NCTC’, ‘Proposal on RPF’, ‘Issue of Inflation in Food Items’, ‘Deregulation of Prices of Petroleum Products’, ‘Land Leasing Bill or even Land Reforms Bills’, ‘Transforming Education in to Business’ and many more of the similar type.

The comments on issues are knowingly being avoided, as every single issue is important and also a subject matter to be covered in numerous articles, debates and deliberations. Certainly the same will be done, but the purpose here was to highlight the important issues pending approval of the parliament and also the evolution of Indian Political System and Governance as on date.

 

Always Yours —– As Usual —— Saurabh Singh

A FICTION: NOT FAR AWAY FROM RECENT FUTURE REALITY

A FICTION: NOT FAR AWAY FROM RECENT FUTURE REALITY

In late evening, when I had just pressed the shut down button of my workstation, a colleague of mine entered the office chamber (Officially allotted to me to work).Hello, was the first word uttered out by her and before I could ask the purpose, she herself expressed that she planned to have my company while walking back to home, at least the part of distance that was common to we both. I welcomed the idea and also thanked her for the same. Thus the journey homewards started. While on walk the momentary silence was done away by my colleague, when she requested the permission to ask question that was coming to her mind. I agreed to help her to the limited capacity of mine.Image- Bricks of Gold

 Probably it was the prices of yellow metal that were troubling her and my colleague wanted to know, where the prices are expected to move in future and why. This I am inferring from the talks that continued.

She started the conversation by posing her curiosity as ahead: “Where do you see the price of gold going in the days to come?”

Since, at that moment, I was not exactly focusing on ‘investment advisory’, so I responded by saying that “on a broad level, the price are supposed to continue their northward journey.”

It seems that my response confused her a bit, as she soon came up with another question that “what I mean, when I say a broad level.”

I got the point and then explained to her that “the prices of any commodity do not move in a straight line. When I say on a broad level, it means that the prices will keep moving northwards, but in between they may drop as well, but they will pick up again, and thus will continue to scale up.”

It seems, that she was not ready to buy anything that I said, therefore, she questioned that what lay behind my confidence, which she visualized while I was answering her first curiosity.

Suddenly I realized that majority of investors; rarely scan the external and vital economic variables that are often of political nature. This made me aware that now I need to go bit detailed and also in a manner that she could easily comprehend.

“Well, I was just reading through some material and I realized that there is another solid reason for gold prices to go up,” I told her.

“Is it something other than all the money printing that is happening and is likely to happen in the days to come, all around the world?” she asked.

“Yes”, I answered.

“So what is this new reason?” she was now more curious.Image - Gold with a Medival Painiting in Background

Now I started by posing a question as ahead “Ever heard of Hugo Chavez?” Pat came the reply, “nope” with a supplementary question that now who’s he?

He is the President of Venezuela, a country in South America.”                                

Probably she got a bit more confused and said that she knew that, but expressed her surprise on the issue that what “Venezuela” has got to do with the price of gold.

This made me aware that now my job was to explain history, international polity, and international trade, cost of transaction and accounting to her, and all this in very limited time of few minutes. I knew that I may be bombarded with whorls of questions.

 I started with letting her know that Venezuela has the 15th largest gold reserves in the world amounting to 401.1 tonnes. A lot of this gold is lying abroad in bImage - Golden Fairyanks in New York, London and Zurich.

“But why will a country keep its gold overseas?” she interrupted.

 I started to introduce her with history. I said that “a part of the reason comes from history. Till August 15, 1971, the world was on a gold standard. Paper currencies were ultimately convertible into gold. This meant that countries had to settle their deficits in gold.” I followed this by giving an instance from international trade. I asked her to assume that England and Germany are exporting and importing goods from each other. At the end if France exports more to England than England to France, there is a deficit.” This means that England had to pay France. This payment was to be made in gold. A look at her face made me feel that she has now started picking up what I was attempting to explain. I carried on by adding that “now this meant that gold had to be physically moved from England to France, which of course was a pain. Movement meant cost of insurance as well as security.”

Image - Gold being Transported via Air

She was prompt in asking that “what was the way out?”

 I added for these reasons “a lot of this gold is simply stored overseas at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (a part of the Federal Reserve of the United States, the Central Bank of the US).”

“How do you think this is going to help?”

It’s simple; I added and just narrated what Peter Bernstein writes in his book “The Power of Gold”. For example, if England lost gold to France, a guard at the Federal Reserve had merely to bring a dolly to England’s closet, trundle the gold to the French closet, and note the change in the bookkeeping records.’

She got the point, and allowed my request to take her back to Hugo Chavez.

The deliberations continued further, certainly with some statistical inferences. Estimates suggest that nearly 211 tonnes of the 400-odd tonnes of gold that Venezuela has are with banks abroad. Chavez has asked this gold to repatriated back to Venezuela.”Image - Hugo Chavez Nationalises the Gold Mines

Now this brings a twist in the story, and the discussion to follow will also attempt to answer possible reason for Hugo Chavez’s such an act.

 “Chavez has had an anti-US stance for years and may feel that because of that Venezuela runs the risk of its gold being seized.”

“Gold Seized? Why would such happen and does the possibility of such an act exist?” was the latest in series of questions.

“It sure is. I explained the same by making her aware of the ongoing Libyan foreign exchange reserves crisis, which happens to be an outcome of its foreign reserves being seized by allied nations with declaration of war earlier this year.”

 “But what has all this got to do with the price of gold? To me it’s as simple as me wanting to have gold in my own locker rather than the bank locker.”

I agreed to her statement, while continuing to explain by adding that all is not that straightforward as concluded by her, though to some extent she was correct. The straight forward part of transaction would be limited to 99 tonnes of total 211 tonnes lying abroad, as this 99 tonnes are deposited with the Bank of England in London. Repatriating that back to Venezuela would be a straightforward process.”

Image - Gold Jewellary at Display

 Now comes the not so straight forward part, which happens to be of the tune of 112 tonnes of the gold and same is lying abroad with what are known as bullion banks. J P Morgan is one of them. Estimates suggest that Venezuelan gold worth $807 million (or around 450,000 ounces of gold) is lying with it.”

 She was instant, and argued that this should also be as straight forward as it is in the case of Bank of England, London, while simultaneously her facial expressions conveyed me that she wanted to know, if I dare to differ from her opinion. Certainly, I had to differ, and added that things are not always as simple as they seem to be. The statistics again came handy in quoting that “estimates suggest that the total amount of physical gold with J P Morgan currently stands at around 338,303 ounces (1 troy ounce equals 31.1 grams).”

Now, it seemed that she was out of reasons, as she expressed her ignorance about having to come across any news in media regarding, such a huge bank robbery in which approximately 1,11,697 ounce or 3473.8 kilo grams worth gold was looted.  I had to instantly chip in by saying that, this is not a case of bank lifting, but a way of functioning of financial system in general and banking sector in particular. Let me add an example to illustrate it? I sought her permission. The phenomenon goes as explained ahead [the attempt was to explain the process by making it as easy as possible, so that even a novice can understand].Image - Gold of Merchants in Various Weights put at London Central Bank

“Central banks around the world had a huge amount of gold lying in their vaults, not earning any return. The end of 2007 witnessed the stock of gold with central banks around the world rising to 32,000 tonnes of gold.”

 I requested her to be more attentive to whatever I was going to add now. Out of the 32,000 tonnes gold held, the Central Bank lent approximately 14,000 tonnes to Bullion Banks like J P Morgan. James Turk and John Rubino in their coauthored book The Collapse of the Dollar, have argued that “lending, for instance, involves the central bank transferring gold to a major private bank, known as bullion bank, which pays the central bank a small-but-positive interest rate, then sells the gold in the open market.”

In this manner “central banks convert the gold into cash and then deploy this cash, somewhere to earn some positive rate of return. This based on a very fundamental assumption that idle assets provide no return, and there is fair possibility that such assets may ultimately add up some cost to the holder.” These costs may range from cost of storage to cost of security. As per meaning conveyed by the operative word “lending”, since the gold has been lent, therefore, the central banks have all the rights to, and can demand it back, whenever they want.

She chipped in by adding that probably “this is what Venezuela is doing right now”; and thus conveyed me a feeling that she was sincerely following the every single word uttered by me. 

 I nodded in agreement and continued further by adding that, since, the bullion banks have promised to return the borrowed gold to the central banks so they will have to return the same. In prevailing situations these bullion banks are not having the volume of gold that was lent to them by Central Bank. In financial and monetary world, this position is conveyed by the term ‘short’, and this means that these bullion banks are ‘short’ gold.

Now comes a significant turn in events, that may work as catalyst to force the prices of gold to break the roof. As the situation deliberated above suggests that, in case, sometime in future, these bullion banks are asked to deposit the volume of  gold lent to them by central bank, they will be left with no choice and would be obligated to buy gold in order to repay the central banks’.”

“So, as I can get, it goes like, that in such a scenario the bullion banks like J P Morgan will now have to buy back gold from the market in order to repay the Venezuelan government, given the situation that Venezuela has around 450,000 ounces of gold deposited with J P Morgan, whereas J P Morgan at present has only 338,303 ounces of gold in its accounts/ record books,” she added.

Exactly, I said in agreement, and carried the deliberations forward by adding, that this buying will lead to the price of gold rising further. I knew that now she has got answer to her question, but then too, I continued it by saying that this is only one part of the story.

Much like a child, who is curious to know about everything, she was now eager to learn that what the remaining part of story was now. She requested me to unfold the other part of the story.

I continued by giving her a reference of a report titled “Thing That Make You Go Hmmm” , and told that this report points out, ‘Chavez’s move could set in motion a chain of events whereby Central banks who store the bulk of their gold overseas in ‘safe’ locations scramble to repossess their country’s true ‘wealth’. If that happens, the most high-stakes game of musical chairs the world has ever seen will have begun’,” I said.

“This sounds very scary”, she added.

Image - Gold derails the US $ and US Economy“Yes, you are very much correct while mentioning that the report further states that ‘any delay in repatriating Venezuela’s gold could potentially start a frantic scramble by central banks to claim their physical. God save the scenario, but if it actually happens, rest assured that gold price will be on fire. A scenario will take place, which has neither been seen in past, nor even imagined.

It will give birth to an economic tsunami of magnitude, which will turn the great economic recession witnessed by world or even the jasmine revolution and contribution of social media to same to seem dwarf.

Don’t be surprised if I that there is enough in media to believe U S Govt. Manufactured Fake Gold

Perhaps, there are only few who can imagine the magnitude of risk, specifically if they are not linked to foreign trade. Let me illustrate it. It’s one thing to counterfeit a twenty or hundred dollar bill. The amount of financial damage is usually limited to a specific region and only affects dozens of people and thousands of dollars. Secret Service agents quickly notify the banks on how to recognize these phony bills and retail outlets usually have procedures in place (such as special pens to test the paper) to stop their proliferation.

Image - U S Government Manufactured Fake Gold

This is the most sacred of all commodities because it is thought to be the most trusted reliable and valuable means of saving wealth.

A recent discovery — in October of 2009 — has been suppressed by the main stream media but has been circulating among the “big money” brokers and financial kingpins and is just now being revealed to the public. It involves the gold in Fort Knox — the US Treasury gold — that is the equity of our national wealth. In short, millions (with an “m”) of gold bars are fake!.Who did this? None, but the United States Government, as claimed by Chinese Authorities.

Background
In October of 2009 the Chinese received a shipment of gold bars. Gold is regularly exchanges between countries to pay debts and to settle the so-called balance of trade. Most gold is exchanged and stored in vaults under the supervision of a special organization based in London, the London Bullion Market Association (or LBMA). When the shipment was received, the Chinese government asked that special tests be performed to guarantee the purity and weight of the gold bars. In this test, four small holed are drilled into the gold bars and the metal is then analyzed.

Officials were shocked to learn that the bars were fake. They contained cores of tungsten with only a outer coating of real gold. What’s more, these gold bars, containing serial numbers for tracking, originated in the US and had been stored in Fort Knox for years. There were reportedly between, 5600 to 5700 bars, weighing 400 oz. each, in the shipment!

At first many gold experts assumed the fake gold originated in China, the world’s best knock-off producers. The Chinese were quick to investigate and issued a statement that implicated the US in the scheme.

 

What the Chinese Uncovered

Roughly 15 years ago — during the Clinton Administration [think Robert Rubin, Sir Alan Greenspan and Lawrence Summers] — between 1.3 and 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten blanks were allegedly manufactured by a very high-end, sophisticated refiner in the USA [more than 16 Thousand metric tonnes]. Subsequently, 640,000 of these tungsten blanks received their gold plating and WERE shipped to Ft. Knox and remain there to this day.

According to the Chinese investigation, the balance of this 1.3 million to 1.5 million 400 oz tungsten cache was also gold plated and then allegedly “sold” into the international market. Apparently, the global market is literally “stuffed full of 400 oz salted bars”. Perhaps, its worth is as much as, 600-billion U S dollars.

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

 RELATED LINKS FOR READERS WHO WANT TO GO IN MORE DETAILS TO BEFORE COMMENTING ON STORY
  1. http://etfdailynews.com/2011/08/17/venezuelan-president-hugo-chavez-sends-precious-metal-etfs-a-wakeup-call-gld-iau-slv-gdx-agq/
  2. http://philosophers-stone.co.uk/wordpress/2011/08/hugo-chavez-gold-runs-bank-runs-and-bank-holidays/
  3. http://profit.ndtv.com/news/show/chavez-officially-nationalizes-venezuela-s-gold-industry-174207
  4. http://notime4bull.com/aggregator/sources/13
  5. http://mikepiro.com/blog/as-chavez-pulls-venezuelas-gold-from-jp-morgan-is-the-great-scramble-for-physical-starting/
  6. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/traders-brace-for-venezuela-gold-transfer/article2134031/print/
  7. http://www.bighaber.com/haber/chavez-to-nationalize-venezuelan-gold-industry-1072000.html
  8. http://www.advisorperspectives.com/commentaries/global_082611.php
  9. http://americasfinancialmeltdown.blogspot.com/2010/11/below-is-antiwar_4391.html
  10. http://mikepiro.com/blog/ron-paul-audit-federal-reserve-gold-stores/
  11. http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/News/061976-2009-11-26-us-govt-manufactured-fake-gold.htm
  12. http://www.the-boondocks.org/forum/index.php?t=msg&&goto=157202#msg_157202s

My Journey on Path of E-Commerce: A Recollection

The effort here is not to deliberate on the History of Computers and or Internet, but since it turns out to be a brief but vital component of total deliberations if any is being made on providing or seeking or exchanging any product, service, information etc. using Internet as a medium.  Instead of starting the sentence “long long ago….”, like in many other field, here story starts with the set words “In very recent past….” .

The deregulation of Internet and it’s use for Commerce is recent as just four decades. Today it would not be wrong if one makes an inference that it happens to be largest market place. It has also succeeded in turning itself near to indispensable and a good number of people can not imagine their daily life in its absence. As a tool of exchanging information and thought, it has even left behind the devices like telephone, fax, mobile telephony etc. by miles. Even we have the examples, though of very recent nature, that few less popular national government, when faced by some kind of event which was called by media as uprising, made internet their first target to breakdown the communication flow taking place in citizens. The case of “EGYPT” and “LIBYA” are a burning and recent example of this.

Initially there was some sense of fear amongst the people who were stakeholders in business. These stakeholder can never alone be the Business Men, they also included the beside established business houses, the Entrepreneurs,  students of business, the academic and scholarly community dealing with issues related to the domain of business, the customers around whom business revolves, and certainly a few more individuals who comprise those who thought it to be fad and expected it to die an immature death.

Here, the stage is ripe for sharing few anecdotes especially Indian to give a practical understanding of how these developments moved from nearly nowhere to everywhere. Prior to starting on it, Helpman and Trajtenberg (1998) were of the opinion that “In any given era there typically exist a handful of technologies that play a far reaching role in widely fostering technical change and thereby bringing about sustained and pervasive productivity gains.” On the similar lines Norman (1999) said that “The goal is to move from current situation of complexity and frustration to one where technology serves human needs invisibly, unobtrusively: the human centered and customer centered way.”

Now coming to Anecdotes:

1. It was perhaps Year 2000 or 2001, when I happened to give entrance examination for pursuing Ph. D. Program at Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management, Gwalior, when it was still functioning in old building. Till then I was not aware that I would be lucky enough to make my career in academics, scholarly and research work, and also in transfer of technology to masses, though I wanted to do it.

They used to conduct a written test followed by interview for admitting research scholars. Luckily or otherwise, I cleared the written test to qualify for next stage, that was personal interview. There I was interested in pursuing my research in E- Commerce. That was also a time when an e-Commerce initiative with the help of internet initiated by Shoppers’ Stop had met a debacle. All through the interview while I was trying my best to convince them that e-Commerce was the very near future, the interview board was interested in making me believe that penetration of computer required for that would never happen in India and they topped their argument by quoting the example of debacle of Shoppers’ Stop. Besides it the board also wanted to convince me on importance of bandwidth and its importance for e-Commerce, suggesting me to work on it, as it was a must for success of the concept I was arguing, but then I was least interested as it was a work for a Technical Degree Holder and not my cup of tea with MBA preceded by ZBC. Ultimately we could not land on a common platform and it could be said that they rejected me or I myself worked to get rejected.

Nearly the same got repeated at NITIE Pawai Mumbai same year. I would elaborate on it next time when I get chance to further elaborate on it. Its late night and I plan to close writing at this moment. hope spelling mistakes if any would be pardoned.

 

Always Yours — As Usual —- Saurabh Singh

 

 

Budget 2011- 12 under Scanner

Already having presented the facts prior to budget, as to what I as a country man expected in the budget to be presented on February 28, 2011, and following the same by publishing salient features in the budget, probably now it’s time to comment upon it. It’s not due to the reasons that it required so much of time for analysis, but is just due to waiting for the dust to settle down, so as to get a clear glimpse of the events.

Having said and done all the things earlier, now I can say that ‘budget or no budget’, things would have remained more or less the same.  The fundamental feature of budget lacks any focus or any strategy of any kind (Chandrasekhar, 2011). Even on the crucial issue like that of ‘financial inclusion’, only lip service has been paid, rather it could be blamed to be biased more towards ‘financial consolidation’.

Expenditure as a ratio to GDP as proposed in Budget

Plan Expenditure when compared with that of 2009 – 10 rose from 4.6 per cent to 5.0 per cent in 2010 – 11 and has been budget to come down to 4.9 per cent in 2011 – 12. On the other hand non – plan expenditure in the same period has come down from 11 per cent to 10.4 per cent and projected in budget to carry on the downward trend and reach a figure of 9.1 per cent.

Reality: Decrease will automatically be forced to be much larger

This is being said due to the reasons that non tax revenue in FY 2010 – 11 which stood at Rs. 2, 20, 148 crore had received a contribution of the tune of Rs. 72,000 Crore from sale of 3G and wireless broadband spectrum. Deducting this amount, the non tax revenue of FY 2010 – 11 will rest at Rs. 1, 25, 435 crore only.

Discussion:

In presence of such a crystal clear scenario, which clearly projects fall in aggregate revenue [due to fall in non – tax revenue], how come the budget expects to see it rising to Rs. 7, 89, 892 crore in 2011 – 12 against Rs. 7, 83,833 crore in 2010 – 11.

Even this partial increase fails to directly point towards a source from where it will accrue. Though, it seems to be, projected out of an increase in tax revenue collection. This is being said as projected tax revenue collection stands at Rs. 6, 64, 457 crore in 2011 – 12 against Rs. 5, 63, 685 crore in 2010 – 11.

While a glimpse of budget exposes that while union finance minister proposes to raise additional revenue of RS. 11, 300 crore from increase in indirect taxes, he is giving away Rs. 11, 500 crore in way of direct tax relief. These figures expose a negative contribution of Rs. 200 crore in aggregate tax revenue.

This discussion is being stopped at moment simply after discussing a single issue. There are more issues like inflation towards which this budget seems to be contributing positively, Increasing credit supply to agriculture but reducing public investment in agriculture etc. are many other important issues that require discussion.

 

Note: I am now not writing it as part one or two as my experience says that before I could think of discussing next part of story, some new event important in nature gets born.

Always Yours—As Usual— Saurabh Singh

Salient Features of Indian Union Budget 2011 – 2012

  1. IncomeTax exemption limit raised to Rs. 1.80 lakh from Rs. 1.60 lakh .
  2. Exemption for senior citizens raised to Rs. 2.5 lakh.
  3. Tax under women slab unchanged.
  4. Tax exemption raised to Rs. 5 lakh for senior citizens of 80 years.
  5. To increase service tax on air travel.
  6. Excise and customs duty proposals to result in the net gain of Rs. 7,300 crore.
  7. Export duty rates on iron ore unified and kept at 20% ad valorem.
  8. Basic customs duty on agricultural machinery reduced to 4.5% from 5%.
  9. Basic customs duty on raw silk reduced from 30 to 5 per cent.
  10. Excise and customs duty proposals to result in the net gain of Rs. 7,300 crore.
  11. Nominal one per cent central excise duty on 130 items entering the tax net. Basic food and fuel and precious stones, gold and silver jewellery will be exempted.
  12. Peak rate of customs duty maintained at 10% in view of the global economic situation.
  13. Customs duty exemptions for hybrid auto parts.
  14. Nominal one per cent central excise duty on 130 items entering the tax net. Basic food and fuel and precious stones, gold and silver jewellery will be exempted.
  15. Standard rate of central exercise duty maintained at 10%.
  16. Central government debt in proportion to GDP will be 44.2% in 2011-12.
  17. 20% export duty on all grades of iron ore.
  18. Basic customs duty reduced on certain textile products
  19. No change in service tax rate of 10%.
  20. No change in central excise duty.
  21. Plan to levy 1% on 130 consumer items.
  22. Revenue deficit fixed at 2.3 per cent in revised estimates of 2010—11 and 1.8 per cent in 2011—12.
  23. Total plan expenditure will go up 100 per cent in nominal terms in the next year.
  24. 15% tax on dividend for Indian cos from foreign unit.
  25. Direct Tax proposals result in expenditure of Rs. 11,500 cr.
  26. To reduce surcharge on domestic companies to 5% from 7.5%
  27. MAT rate hiked to 18.5% from 18%.
  28. MAT on developers in SEZs to be levied.
  29. Fiscal deficit revised to 5.1% from 5.5% for FY’11.
  30. Total expenditure raised by 13.4% at Rs. 12.57 lakh cr over budget estimates.
  31. Gross tax receipts estimated at 9.32 lakh cr for FY 2011-12.
  32. Bill to amend India Stamp Act soon.
  33. Budget allocation of Rs. 100 cr for Ladakh and Rs. 150 cr for Jammu for implementation of projects identified by taskforce.
  34. Old age pension to persons of over the age of 80 raised from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500
  35. Health allocation up by 20% to R 27,600 cr.
  36. Rs. 9- lakh ex-gratia for defence personnel for 100% disability fighting Left-wing extremism.
  37. To set up 15 more mega food parks.
  38. Remuneration of anganwadi workers raised from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000 per month, Helpers to get Rs. 1,500 from Rs. 750.
  39. Tax free bonds of Rs. 30,000 cr to be issued for infrastructure development. This will cover Warehousing Corporation, NHAI, IRFC and Hudco.
  40. Allocation under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to be raised from Rs. 6,755 crore in the current year to Rs. 7,860 crore.
  41. Rs. 50 cr grant to Aligarh Muslim University centres in Murshidabad in West Bengal and Malappuram in Kerala.
  42. Rs. 200 cr for environmental remediation programme.
  43. Age for pension eligibility reduced from 65 years to 60 years under Indira Gandhi Yojana scheme.
  44. To move insurance, pension and banking bills in Parliament.
  45. Rs. 500-cr for National Development Fund.
  46. Rs. 400-cr as one-time grant for IIT-Kharagpur.
  47. Move to set up State Innovation Councils underway.
  48. Allocation to education sector raised to Rs. 52,000 cr.
  49. Scholarship scheme for SC/ST students in classes iX, X.
  50. Increase in allocation to higher education.
  51. Plan 17% increase in social sector spending.
  52. To introduce Food Security Bill.
  53. Tax free bonds of Rs. 30,000 cr to be issued for infrastructure development. This will cover Warehousing Corporation, NHAI, IRFC and Hudco.
  54. Fertiliser industry to be included under infrastructure category.
  55. New companies bill to be introduced.
  56. GoM to be set up to deal with corruption.
  57. Five-fold strategy to deal with black money.
  58. Mega cluster for leather products to be introduced.
  59. Existing interest subvention scheme on short term farm loans at 7 % interest to continue.
  60. Self-assessment in customs to be introduced.
  61. Credit flows to farmers raised from Rs. 3.75 lakh crore to Rs. 4.75 lakh crore.
  62. Constitution Amendment Bill for introduction of GST in this session.
  63. Goods and Services Tax Bill this year.
  64. Direct Taxes Code Bill likely to be passed by Parliament next financial year after getting Standing Committee report.
  65. Public Debt Management Agency Bill in the next fiscal.
  66. Indian mutual funds to get direct access to foreign markets; FIIs to be allowed to invest in MFs.
  67. To liberalise FDI policy further.
  68. To extend infra tax breaks to fertiliser sector.
  69. To set up microfinance equity fund.
  70. Government to move towards direct cash transfer of cash subsidy as regards kerosene, LPG and fertilisers from March 2012 for BPL in view of large diversion.
  71. 3% interest subvention to farmers who repay in time.
  72. Nabard capital base to be increased by infusing Rs. 10,000 cr.
  73. Rural housing fund increased to Rs. 3,000 cr.
  74. Banks asked to step up lending to agriculture.
  75. Allocation under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana to be raised from Rs. 6,755 crore in the current year to Rs. 7,860 crore.
  76. Budget proposes to raise housing loan limit from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 25 lakh for priority sector lending.
  77. Allocation for farm development hiked to Rs. 7,860 cr.
  78. Rs. 300 cr proposed to promote production of cereals.
  79. Indian micro-finance equity with SIDBI to be formed at Rs. 100 crore.
  80. Rs. 6,000 cr to be given to public sector banks to maintain capital-to-risk assets ratio norms.
  81. RBI to bring in new guidelines for banking licences.
  82. Aiming Fiscal deficit of 3% by fiscal 2014.
  83. Central electronic registry to reduce fraud cases.
  84. FII investment limit for infra corporate bonds hiked to $40 billion.
  85. Discussions on to further liberalise FDI policy.
  86. Preparation of GST rollout in final stages.
  87. Microfinance equity fund of Rs. 100 cr proposed.
  88. Govt committed to hold 51% in PSUs.
  89. Rs. 3,000 cr to Nabard for handloom societies.
  90. Women self-help group development fund to be set up.
  91. Direct transfer of subsidy for kerosene.
  92. Goods and Services Tax Bill to be introduced in Parliament this year.
  93. Direct Tax Code Bill likely to be passed by Parliament next financial year after getting Standing Committee report.
  94. Disinvestment target at Rs. 40,000 cr.
  95. Direct Tax Code from April 2012.
  96. SEBI-registered MFs to be allowed direct access to foreign funds.
  97. Expect RBI to moderate inflation.
  98. Public Debt Management Agency Bill to be introduced next financial year.
  99. Current account deficit and average inflation in 2011-12 likely to be less than current year.
  100. FDI policy review done in Sept 2010.
  101. Economic growth in 2011-12 likely to be 9 per cent.
  102. Admits large-scale diversion of kerosene.
  103. Introduction of DTC will be a watershed moment.
  104. Debt managment bill to be introduced.
  105. Constitutional Amendment Bill on GST to be introduced.
  106. Expect agri sector to grow at 5.4% in 2011.
  107. Growth in 2010-11 broad-based.
  108. Economy resilient to shocks.
  109. RBI measures will further moderate inflation.
  110. GDP estimated growth at 8.6% in real terms.
  111. New dynamism in rural economy.
  112. Core inflation in check.
  113. Current account deficit is at 2009-10 levels, and is a matter of concern.
  114. Huge difference in wholesale and retail prices not acceptable.
  115. Total food inflation down from 20.2 per cent last year to 9.3 per cent in Jan
  116. Revival in private investment should be sustainable.
  117. Service growing in double digits.
  118. Need to reconcile legitimate environmental concerns with developmental needs.
  119. Food Inflation has declined by half, but still a matter of concern.

Agribusiness

 

 

 

 

Always Yours — As Usual–Saurabh Singh

Union Budget 2011: The Wish List

Budget-2011-12Pranab Mukherjee ready to Present BudgetGovernments come and go. But their visions outlined in the annual fiscal planning (the Union Budget) have a long lasting impact on the economy. The Budget of 1992 was one such document. It was a threshold that set India on a superior economic growth path. The first Union Budget of the current decade also comes to meet several challenges. It should not just counter risks within and outside the economy. But it needs to also fortify India’s position amongst global heavyweights.

Consequently in the Budget 2011-12, emphasis should be on maintaining and even accelerating the pace of growth and employment. The ensuing budget is expected to take note of the current scenario and announce policies and reforms to support and form a suitable base for the economy to continue to grow at 8%+ levels. In general one can feel that the budget would be skewed towards investment rather than consumption. Agriculture & related activities would continue to be the focus area as inflation and food Agricultural-Sectorsecurity is high on the government agenda. Government would allocate higher amounts towards infrastructure (logistics, rural infrastructure and water management), education and technology to give a multiplier effect to the economy to sustain high GDP growth in the coming years.

The Union Budget 2011-12 might be a key from a policy stand point and may provide incremental direction to markets. There is an inherent value in India economy given the growth story and favorable demographics, but catalysts are required at macro level to deleverage the underlying value.

India was among the few countries in the world to implement a broad-based counter-cyclic policy package to respond to the negative fallout of the global slowdown. These policy actions has helped Indian Economy to clock a growth of 8.6% in FY11 (advance estimates). While rising strongly in the world economic order, India faces the most critical challenge of crossing the ‘double digit growth barrier’. Current macroeconomic challenges are manifold

1. Controlling inflation, including that for essential commodities,

2. Maintaining fiscal deficit amongst rising oil prices,

3. Absence of one-time revenues such as 3G, WiMax license fees,

4. Allocation & channelising investment in Infrastructure,

5. Domestic financial sector liquidity management with large government borrowing can potentially be a dampener for private investments,

6. Reducing current account deficit from current elevated levels,

7. Over and above, handling corruption issues.

The upcoming elections in some of the major states may prompt the government to continue to take some populist measures

Normal Expectations, on few Specific Fronts, from Upcoming Budget  are Deliberated Here Under

Higher short term capital gains tax for FIIs:

The volatility in Indian stock markets over the past six to nine months can to a large extent be attributed to fickle mindedness of the FIIs. Loose monetary policies in developed markets have not helped either. Hence, a stricter policy to curb short term capital gains earned with the hot money is in order. While the DTC has proposed to tax all FIIs, the current budget should lay a foundation for the same by hiking the taxes on short term gains.

Incentivise low income housing: Housing Sector

The construction sector is unlikely to have a very peaceful fiscal ahead. Low bank funding and high interest rates could stall projects and build up inventory in the sector. Allowing higher fiscal incentives on low income housing loans could address the problem of high cost for the houses as well as offer a solution to builders to increase sales.

Incentivise long term investment in equities:

Institutional investors such as insurance companies, PFs and mutual funds should be offered fiscal incentives on their schemes wherein investments are locked in domestic equities for 5 years and above. This could help draw more retail savings into equities for a longer term.

Money INR

Pool in private sector funds for infrastructure investments:

Floating SPVs that can pool in private funds for meeting the 12th and 13th Five year plan targets may be an ideal way to meet the funding gap. Especially given that the contribution from the private sector is seen going up from 30% in the Eleventh 5-Year Plan to 50% in the Twelfth Plan.

Decontrol of Urea Prices:

Where as Government seems to be planning to raise Urea Prices by 2 to 5 per cent in 2011 – 2012. De-canalization of Urea imports is also expected once it comes under Neutrient Based Scheme Regime. Perhaps the fertilizer industry expects Rs 50000 Crore in cash for Financial Year 2012 by way of subsidies. It would not be a great surprise if import and export restriction on Urea trade are lifted.

Deepen India’s corporate debt market:

Developing a vibrant corporate debt market is paramount to serving the long term funding needs of corporates. The Budget should initiate policies in this direction so that retail participation in corporate debt issuances becomes easier and more transparent . The debt papers also need to be rated to suit investors’ risk profiles.

Rejig subsidies and off balance sheet items:

An increase of 245%! This is exactly how much the cost of major subsidies has gone up in India in the last five years. And mind you, this does not even include oil. In CAGR terms, it amounts to a huge 28%. When one considers India’s nominal GDP growth rate of 14%-15%,Pair of the Budget Scissors it quickly becomes clear that such a growth in subsidy is not sustainable at all. Fortunately, the Government seems to have woken up to this fact. Hence, rather than trying to increase subsidies further, it is now looking to reduce pilferage in the system. As a big step towards the same, it has set up a task force to create a way to directly transfer cash to the ultimate beneficiaries of various subsidy schemes. We believe in addition to reducing indirect subsidies, investing more in warehouses and logistics could help keep the food prices in India under control to an extent.

Image

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

THE JASMINE REVOLUTION — Part – I

At times, few events, though not very often noticed, normally not even thought worth being covered by national media, but when the acts happen to be of SUPREME SACRIFICE or same order, change course of not alone history but geography too. The attempt is not to dub an act of self immolation as an act of bravery, and normally hundreds of cases of self immolation and attempts of self immolation get reported in media every year, besides lot many which even fail to find space in news media in nearly all the corners of the world which without fuelling in a minor change in governance.

The name “Mohamed Bouazizi” is not a famous or well known name even today, and thus indirectly gives an impression that history in due course of time may even forget to contain any record of this name for reference of future generations. The act of self immolation by this Tunisian Street Vendor to protest against the corruption is an apt example of helplessness being faced by common men, irrespective of him being a citizen, subject, at mercy of any dictator, fascist or Junta or probably any other form of Structure of Governance.

Strange are ways things are destined, much beyond human vision and imagination, it seems if  21st Century were a Century of Convergence of Scale for nearly every sphere of human related activities. A Century standing witness to Convergence of Communication Technology and Tools, Convergence of Economies of Nations, Convergence of Trade, Convergence of Financial Governance, and perhaps even Convergence of Revolutions against Governance Structures across various nations and probably the list continue…s, neither can it be covered in this deliberation nor will it be attempted.

Till a couple of months back, the individual of the day was busy in himself thinking that all the problems could happen and will happen with others only, aptly defined selfish by Adam Smith and the league, was thinking of governance all around the globe being cool, calm and pleasant except the places messed up by United States of America. Perhaps still the individuals will remain individuals and will rarely form a society or nation; as people aware of history know very well that even the phenomenon or concept of nation is a gift of as recent as nineteenth century.

Connecting back, it was morning of December 17, 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26 years old street vendor of Tunisia immolated himself protesting against corruption, an event of the magnitude often not even noticed by world media, the Arab World has not remained the same as it was till hours before of this act on the same day. It has left whole geo-political area simmering and inhabitants rumbling.  It has initiated a chain reaction.

The chain reaction, that has already made twenty three years old rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, (in power since 1987) now a chapter in history of Tunisia. It did not stop here itself. It perhaps turned a torchbearer for other nations of geopolitical area often called as Gulf (British call it as Middle East), or as the author calls it, the Middle West. It did not stop at Tunisia. The next link in chain turned out to be Egypt. In Egypt, the war hero of Egypt Israel War of 1973 that made Egypt a power centre in Middle West and one time air force officer Hosni Mubarak was shown door after his thirty year rule. To world it may look a silent transition made success by people of Egypt but sources say that at least 300 people lost their life and another 3000 suffered injuries. Reality about real causalities is not known due to initial crack down on media and still no real transition to any new form of governance taking place. It is probably still another Hosni Mubarak just individual may differ, as no real transition to any form of governance has taken place, but junta in control.

“The phenomenon being deliberated, as on date, has come to be known as SIDI BOUZID REVOLT in Arab World and as JASMINE REVOLUTION elsewhere.”

Similar turmoil, protests against governments in place, in numerous other nations of gulf is being seen and also the ruthlessness and lack of human emotions with which they are being suppressed and retaliated by various governments in place. It is the same story today in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya and Yemen.

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

Egypt: Now without Hosni Mubarak in Control of Affairs– For Other Nations a Caveat Issued Against Facebook and Likes…..

A Brief Introduction to Hosni Mubarak & His Journey

Hosni Mubarak has ruled the country Egypt for 30 years, which by far is the most powerful in the Arab world. It all started on October 6, 1981. Egypt was shaken when its President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by right-wing Arab groups during a military parade before the world’s eyes. Mubarak, who was then the vice president, was wounded in the attack. Terrified he stood there and by the time stunned security police began firing back, killing two of the assassins, Sadat was already dying. Hosni Mubarak at World Economic Forum

Mubarak was a natural successor. He took control of the government on October 14, 1981 and has held it, by various means, ever since. While this is looked at as his first appearance on the global stage, one cannot overlook the crucial role he played in 1973.

He is still credited with winning the war that changed the course of Arab Israeli relations in October 1973, when he was Air Chief, under Sadat’s presidency. The victory over Israel brought him personal glory too.

Mubarak with son of Slain President Sadat

In April 1975, Mubarak was appointed as the vice president of the Egyptian republic and he loyally served Sadat’s policies. He became a popular representative of the President and had numerous meetings with foreign leaders.  Mubarak’s political significance as vice president can be seen from the fact that at a conversation held on June 23, 1975 between Egypt Foreign Minister Fahmy and United States Ambassador Hermann Eilts, Fahmy said to Eilts that “Mubarak is, for the time being at least, likely to be a regular participant in all sensitive meetings”. He advised the ambassador not to antagonise Mubarak, as he was Sadat’s personal choice.

Mubarak may be considered largely unpopular today, but as President, he allied with the West and an anchor of stability in the Middle East. Taking over as President, he moved quickly to crush an Islamic uprising and jailed over 2,500 members of militant Islamic groups engaging in violence. Mubarak retained most of Sadat’s foreign and domestic policies, and Sadat’s close ties to the United States. All the Arab states but three had criticised Egypt for the treaty with Israel, so Mubarak tried to rebuild relations with Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasir Arafat. It was Mubarak who encouraged Arafat to compromise and recognise Israel’s right to exist.Hosni Mubarak - the war Hero of 1973 Egypt Israel War

Throughout the 1980s Mubarak increased the production of affordable housing, clothing, furniture, and medicine. He also kept a close eye on his officials, firing ministers at the first hint of wrong-doing and fining members of Parliament for unnecessary absences. Egypt’s heavy dependence on US aid and her hopes for US pressure on Israel for a Palestinian settlement continued under Mubarak. He improved relations with the former Soviet Union. In 1987, Mubarak won election to a second six-year term. In 1989, eight years after Sadat’s assassination, Egypt was re-admitted as a full member the Arab League. Its membership was suspended after Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel, but Mubarak rebuilt the bridges.

Mubarak was angered over the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. When the US was hunting for a military alliance to force Iraq out of Kuwait, Egypt’s President joined without hesitation. After the war, his reward was that America, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and Europe forgave Egypt around $14 billion of debt. He won America’s support and Egypt enjoyed massive amounts of military and economic aid over the last three decades.

The Wave of Change

However, as years went by Mubarak became more authoritarian. He throttled meaningful political evolution and curbed the freedom of expression. Plots to assassinate Mubarak had surfaced in 1992, 1993, and 1995 and he is known to have survived six assasination attempts. But Mubarak continued his tough stance. His crackdown led to charges against his government of torture, threats to the press, and other human rights abuses

Political corruption in the Mubarak administration rose dramatically. Such corruption has led to the imprisonment of political figures and young activists without trials, illegal undocumented hidden detention facilities and rejecting universities, mosques, newspapers staff members based on political inclination.
And all of this worsened in 2005. After increased domestic and international pressure for democratic reform in Egypt, Mubarak asked the largely rubber stamp Parliament on February 26, 2005 to amend the constitution to allow multi-candidate presidential elections by September 2005.

On July 28, 2005, Mubarak announced his candidacy, as he had been widely expected to do. The election which was scheduled for September 7, 2005 was widely seen as heavily rigged.
Anguish against Hosni Mubarak
Votes were bought for Mubarak in poor suburbs and rural areas. It was also reported that thousands of illegal votes were allowed for Mubarak from citizens who were not registered to vote. On September 8, 2005, Ayman Nour, a dissident and candidate for the El-Ghad Party, contested the election results, and demanded a repeat of the election. In a move widely seen as political persecution, Nour was convicted of forgery and sentenced to five years on December 24, 2005.

Even the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a wide cadre base in Egypt, fielded candidates as independents due to their illegality as a political party. They won 88 seats to form the largest opposition bloc, but only after the arrests of hundreds of Brotherhood members. A constitutional amendment adopted by the National Democratic Party-dominated Parliament has made it virtually impossible for independents like former IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei to run for president.

Soon after, Mubarak appointed his son Gamal as the general secretary of the ruling NDP, a move that convinced many of his unwillingness to let go of power.

As Mubarak tried to tighten his grip over Egypt, anti-government protests strengthened in 2005 giving rise to the Kifaya (enough) movement, the unofficial moniker of the Egyptian Movement for Change.

It first came to public attention in the summer of 2004, and achieved a much greater profile during the 2005 constitutional referendum and presidential election campaigns. Since then it has opposed Mubarak’s presidency and over the years the voices have only grown louder.Now the final outcome this gradual but sure approach is in open — Mubarak Stepped Down.

Role of Social Media

In one of my earlier posts posted on this blog dated February 04, 2011, I wrote an article with title as mentioned below, but found rare buyers of the concept. Probably now its no more a secret and known to all. I did not emphasize much thereafter on role of social media because one of my teacher taught me a lession that can mentioned as  “People can believe only on the things, creations and thoughts and other things of the same kind, only to the extent if they are capable of even imagining such phenomenon in their wildest dreams. Else they will laugh at you and will say the things that you may not love to listen. Let them be mature, but do not kill your vision just for the reasons that other are suffering from vision myopia.”

THE FACE BOOK IS WORKING TO GET CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT OF A NATION: YES, I MEAN IT– IT’s EGYPT –Saurabh Singh

Adding to the dicussion further I would like to state what’s even more interesting  and that is the role played by Social Media tools like the use of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to speed the process of protests in Egypt. There has been some backlash about the use of social media, with some pundits calling it a “Facebook Revolution,” as if without Facebook this wouldn’t be happening.

The revolt still would have happened, even if the Social Media tools were not there. but their presence added fuel to fire of revolution. Today’s era of real-time communication made the “words of the January 25 protests” spread more quickly and gained momentum that would have been hard to achieve without the social networks.Role of Social Media

But it also leads oneto wonder…is the use of the Internet, and social media, a human right?

The best testimony about social media’s role in these events has to be the efforts of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments to thwart or completely cut off the Internet. The chart published on Mashable, the Internet became a critical communications point leading up to the events of the past few days. It’s no wonder that the autocratic Mubarek regime sought to protect its own power by cutting the Internet.

Internet Traffic Chart

It should be noted that the protests have significantly escalated since the proverbial kill switch was hit on the Egyptian Internet. So at best social’s role can only be painted as a catalyst, and not the ultimate factor.

Leaving the discussion on Role of Social Media to Political Pundits.. will follow If find their or comments from my audiences on the topic.

Post Mubarak Situation in Egypt : A State of Uncertain Transition

Some have termed the departure of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office on Friday as a resignation. Some others have called it waiving the office or powers of the president. The Egyptian constitution provides for both contingencies.

When a president resigns, the constitution requires that he should address his letter of resignation to the president (speaker) of the parliament. When he stops exercising the powers of the president, he addresses his letter to the vice-president.

Article 82 provides for this interesting contingency of the president leaving office without formally resigning. It says: “If on account of any temporary obstacle the president of the republic is unable to carry out his functions, he shall delegate his powers to a vice-president.”

Mubarak, while leaving office much to the jubilation of the protesters, did not inform the president of the parliament and submit a formal letter of resignation as required under the constitution.

Celebrations in Egypt as Announcement of Mubarak Leaving the office comesNor did he ask Vice-President Omar Suleiman to take over. Instead, he asked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to take over. It is a coup without seeming to be a coup.

One can go on analysing the circumstances of Mubarak’s departure. Whatever be the circumstances, Mubarak is gone from office for ever. It is time to discuss what next. Egypt is now in a state of transition under the leadership of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which consists of the following:

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who has been the minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces since 1991.

He has been a field marshal since 1989. After the protests broke out on January 25, Mubarak promoted him as deputy prime minister and asked him to continue to hold the defence portfolio.

He visited the Tahrir Square on February 4 and met the troops deployed there as well as the protesters. He is the chairman of the Supreme Council.

Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed, the chief of the air force since March 20, 2008.

Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Anan, chief of staff of the army.

Lt Gen Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, commander of air defense.

Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, chief of navy.

Is Lt Gen Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, who made the televised announcement regarding Mubarak leaving office after handing over his powers, a member of the Supreme Council? The position is not clear.

Al Jazeera says he is. Others do not say so. However, since he is only a lieutenant general and since the Supreme Council is headed by a field marshal, it stands to reason that Suleiman may have to work under the orders of the Supreme Council and not vice versa.

What next? The present constitution has become untenable since the post-Mubarak transitional arrangements are not in accordance with the constitution.

This gives rise to the possibility that the Supreme Council may suspend the constitution and dissolve the parliament. Mohamed El Baradei has said that Egypt will now have a provisional constitution.

What will be the duration of the transitional arrangements? Till September when the election of a new president is due or for a longer period?

The political elements, who participated in the protest movement, are already saying that it may not be possible for the Supreme Council to restore political and economic normalcy before September and, hence, according to them, it should be for a longer period.

El Baradei has been quoted by the BBC as stating as follows: “What I have been proposing is a transitional period of one year. We will have a provisional constitution. We’ll have a transitional government, hopefully a presidential council, including a person from the army and a couple of civilians.”

“The main idea is that the army and the Egyptian people will work together in a systematic way for a year to reach the point where we can hold a genuine free and fair election, a parliamentary election and a presidential election. I think the people of Egypt, who have been suppressed for at least 30 years, are ready to wait for a year as they see things are going in the right direction,” Baradei said.

The younger non-political elements, who played a leading role in the revolution, have not clearly indicated their view on this subject apart from expressing their trust in the army.

Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google executive, who is credited with rallying many young people behind El Baradei, has tweeted to his followers as follows: “The military statement is great. I trust our Egyptian army”.

The armed forces’ statement to which he had referred said the Supreme Council would lift the country’s emergency law but only “as soon as current circumstances end”.

It also said, “Armed forces make a commitment to caring for the people’s legitimate demands, and to seeking to follow their implementation within the time frames with full precision and resolution, until the complete transfer of power, and the achievement of the democratic free society which the people aspire to”.

It pledged not to prosecute ‘the honest men who called for an end to corruption and for reform.’

While it spoke of time-frames for the transition, it refrained from specifying those time-frames. If Ghonim comes out ultimately in support of El Baradei’s call for a longer transition, will other youth leaders support him?

Who will be in any transitional government or council that may be constituted? Everybody wants that it should be a civilian council possibly headed by El Baradei and including a representative of the armed forces.

It is not yet clear whether the Supreme Council would accept a transitional council of which the Muslim Brotherhood is a member.

The MB has been supportive of El Baradei till now. He has been advocating a role for the MB in the transitional set-up, but the MB has said it does not want any role. The youth leaders are not opposed to it. The Supreme Council has not yet spelt out its views.

Always Yours —- As Usual — Saurabh Singh

What’s even more interesting to me, though, is the use of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to speed the process of protests in Egypt. There has been some backlash about the use of social media, with some pundits calling it a “Facebook Revolution,” as if without Facebook this wouldn’t be happening.

Let’s be real. The revolt still would have happened. But in this day of real-time communication, word of the January 25 protests spread more quickly and gained momentum that would have been hard to achieve without the social networks.

I’m reminded of the Malcolm Gladwell piece that ran in The New Yorker in early October last year. In it, he describes 1960s North Carolina where a Woolworth’s wouldn’t serve black students. The story goes that the protest to not allow blacks to sit at the bar, but instead stand at the snack counter, began with four students and, the next day, grew to 27.

During the following days, the sit-ins eventually grew to 600 people and more than five colleges taking part. Soon 70,000 students were involved and thousands were arrested and even thousands more were radicalized.

He says, ‘These events in the early sixties became a civil-rights war that engulfed the South for the rest of the decade—and it happened without e-mail, texting, Facebook, or Twitter.”

While I disagree with the rest of his view on the use of social media in today’s w0rld, he eventually gets to the point that we are not in the middle of a digital revolution. And, whether you use the tools or not, you have to agree that the revolt in Egypt would have happened without social media. The use of the tools just speeds the process.

But it also leads us to wonder…is the use of the Internet, and social media, a human right?

GOVERNMENT & ADMINISTRATION BOTH ARE HAND IN GLOVES WITH THEIR SINISTER OBJECTIVE IN PROMOTING SLUMS

The evictions that were done for the beautification of Delhi Prior to Common Wealth Games have had a lasting impact on people’s lives, who were there occupying the place as slums and living there for a good number of years.

The blogger is not supporter of Slums, but if they have cropped up, then  that a very first lapse of Government in meeting its developmental agenda on one hand, and people who are provided duty of taking care of the issue of encroachment of such nature.

The blogger wants to learn that have the jobs, funds, pensions and other benefits that were being provided to such employees have ceased to exist or government wants a bigger proof of their inefficiency.

On the other had if something is illegal, under what laws the legalized electricity and water connections, ration cards, voter identity cards and an identity card were provided to inhabitants there.

IT CAN BE VERY SAFELY CONCLUDED THAT GOVERNMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION BOTH ARE HAND IN GLOVES WITH THEIR SINISTER OBJECTIVE & ARE PROMOTING SLUMS TO CROP UP AT THE PLACES WHERE PRICES OF LAND ARE EXPECTED TO ESCALATE OR CAN GET ANY OF THREE FACTORS AS MENTIONED AHEAD TO ENJOY; THE FACTORS BEING MONEY, LAND, & SEX.

 

“Gyarah din ke khel ke liye woh aaye,dhoom mahcaye aur humein phas ke chale gaye,” (They came for the games for 11 days, had their fun and left, leving us trapped in the middle of nowhere). 26-year-old Zora is angry as she says this. She is one of the estimated 200,000 people who were forcefully evicted from slums in the National Capital Region as a part of beautifying the capital in preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Anoop - One of Residents of JJ Colony, Valmiki Nagar


Zora, who is married and stays at her in-laws house, keeps coming back to what once used to be her paternal house in Indira Gandhi Camp II in Sewa Nagar in South Delhi, for she does not have parents, but has two younger sisters and a brother. Her two sisters live in a plastic tent, which is often targetted by miscreants at night. “Each night I go back home after visiting my sisters, I go with a fear. I kiss them on their forehead daily, not knowing what awaits them in the night. They have a plastic sheet as a door and it is well known in the area that there are two women in the tent, with just a 11-year-old boy for protection,” Zora said.

 

Zora - One of Slum Dwellers at a Meeting

The slum, which has been housing migrants from Madhya Pradesh for the last twenty years, was razed, without any notice in January 2009. The slum cluster consisted of approximately 300 homes, with legal water supply and electricity connections.

 


We were granted ration cards, voter identity cards and an identity card, which makes us eligible for rehabilitation. When Sheila ji (Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit) came to our basti asking for votes, she had assured us that our colony would be legalized. Instead, it was razed. I was cooking food when they came with the bulldozers. They did not even give me the time to collect valuables or even identity cards from my jhuggi,” says 35-year-old Kamla, a single mother, who has two children.

Kamla -- Another one of Them

“And all this for what? That parking lot remains empty today. There are no events in those stadiums today. The foreigners have gone,” chips in Anoop, a resident of JJ Valmiki camp near Thyagaraj stadium.

The men and women were speaking at the launch of a report titled “Forced evictions and Commonwealth Games” prepared by NGO Housing and Land Rights network. The HLRN had undertaken a fact finding mission across 19 sites in Delhi, where the government forcefully evicted colonies while preparing the capital for Commonwealth Games.

“Basic human rights have been violated during these evictions. Most of the evictions happened during extreme weather conditions, during festivals or prior to school examinations. Atleast three instances of deaths and several other cases of injuries have been reported during these evictions. The affected families have not been compensated or rehabilitated, forcing them to continue a life which lacks security and violates the basic right to live with dignity. The most alarming violation is the violation of human rights of women. Young women are vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence resulting from exposure to insecure and inadequate living conditions,” says Shivani Chaudhry, associate director of HLRN.

In addition to women facing problems like harassment, lack of security and lack of space for personal hygiene, another direct consequence of a mass scale eviction like the one that took place in Delhi since 2004, was violation of rights of children.

Raman - Who used to Manage one of the Schools
Many children were forced to drop out of schools, as atleast three schools Deepshika Primary School (sector 52, Gurgaon), Pragati Wheel School (Yamuna  Banks) and Viklang Basti Informal school were razed for preparations. Many of these children were forced to take up jobs to supplement family incomes.

Sher Singh, who was in class VI of the privately-run Pragati Wheel School on the Yamuna Banks (opposite Commonwealth Games Village), recounts how the government bulldozers razed the school while they were inside studying.

“They came and asked all of us to leave. We pleaded with them not to do it, but they told us they had to do it for security reasons. Since then, I have not been able to get admission in any school,” says Sher Singh.


Raman Khanna, who runs the school, said, “We reopened the school last month. I am running a school with no roof. I have to, as the families of the boys and girls who used to study there, requested me repeatedly to. As long as the rainy season does not start, it will be okay, I think. There were about 180 students with us before evictions and now we have about 90. I am running the school literally by paying a daily bribe to beat policemen.”


Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice AP Shah, who released the report, told rediff.com, “In 2009, a night shelter had been razed. I had initiated a suo moto case against the MCD regarding the demolition of the night shelter and ordered the MCD immediately to restore the Pusa Roundabout night shelter. Till date this order has not been followed. The government hid behind a technicality, as they so often do. In addition, not even a single notice has been sent to any of the officials connected with such mass scale demolitions. And I am also surprised that the National Human Rights Commission has been silent on the issue for so long.”

On suggestions given by Justice Shah, the HLRN has decided to submit the report to the NHRC and file a PIL in the Delhi High Court.

Miloon Kothari, the executive director of HLRN said, “We have enough evidence. We will also submit the report to the UN as well. If there is international pressure, the government will budge. The tragic violations of basic human rights should not go unpunished like this.”

 

Always Yours — As Usual —- Saurabh Singh

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