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The geopolitics of the nation of Bangalore

There is more to Bangalore geopolitics than meets the eye.

By Thejaswi Udupa

The most common narrative one hears about Bangalore is that of “two Bangalores”—the city, and the cantonment. This is about as useful as the tired “two Indias” trope. India cannot be explained away with such a simplistic dichotomy. Bangalore cannot be either.

In fact, if one looks at Bangalore as a nation, it has all the nuances that a large and complex nation such as India would. Secessionist movements, disputed territories, powerful non-state actors, everything.

Any country needs to have natural defences that make it tough for outsiders to invade. India has the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. Bangalore has two such too. The traffic jam at Silk Board Junction, and the traffic jam in the whole KR Puram-Mahadevpura-Whitefield region. Thanks to these defences that Bangalore has naturally developed without spending too much money, any invasion of outsiders has to happen at non-peak hours. Some say that the inordinate delays that we are seeing with Namma Metro is the act of Bangalore patriots who are worried about an efficient public transport dismantling Bangalore’s best natural defences—its traffic jams.

The most prominent secessionist movement in Bangalore is that of DPRK. Democratic People’s Republic of Koramangala. Just like its far-eastern namesake in Korea, this DPRK too isn’t democratic, or much of a republic. It is culturally so different from the rest of Bangalore that most citizens have no issues with Koramangala seceding. As long as they have access to Forum Mall, that is. Forum Mall is at a strategic location, and connects Bangalore on one side with Koramangala on the other. Or Forumangala, as some put it. If and when the DPRK freedom movement succeeds, Forum will become the ideal transit point between the two countries, and people can eat at Transit, the food court at Forum Mall while waiting for the visa formalities to be completed.

The largest of disputed territories in Bangalore is that of ToK. Tamil occupied Karnataka. These are large swathes of interconnected parcels of land in the South-Eastern quadrant of Bangalore. ToK’s existence is mostly under the radar, and people notice it only when the census figures come in once a decade with its linguistic break-ups, and suddenly people realise that nearly 25 percent of Bangalore’s population is Tamil. However, there are many who believe that ToK stands for Telugu owned Karnataka, as most of the land here is owned by Telugu landlords.

Forming an intricate set of enclaves and exclaves with ToK is Amit Pradesh. The existence of Amit Pradesh can be directly traced to the Aryan (Amit being the Aryan John Doe) invasion that happened simultaneously with the development of the IT industry in Bangalore. They came from north of Hebbal flyover, and set up camps at places close to where IT parks were coming up in ToK. The first few waves of Amits (and Ishas) were also the ones responsible for DPRK. The further waves just settled for Amit Pradesh. Just like ToK, Amit Pradesh stretches all the way from Marathahalli to Madivala, from Banaswadi to BTM.

Just like in India where there are many movements for separate states, there are a lot of places in Bangalore that seek to carve out their own identity and split from the larger region they are associated with. JP Nagar has for a while been campaigning for an identity of its own that is separate from that of Jayanagar. There is also a movement to split Malleswaram into two. The stretch from Central (near Mantri Square), to 5th Cross where you have Big Bazaar and Brand Factory wants to identify itself as Malleswaram (same spelling as the rest of Malleswaram, but the first syllable is pronounced differently—mull over it)

India’s internal divisions are defined by its river systems—the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, Kaveri, etc. Bangalore’s rivers are its arterial roads—Mysore Road, Magadi Road, Tumkur Road, Bellary Road, Old Madras Road, Sarjapur Road, Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, and Kanakapura Road. While India is still making plans for a grand river linking system, Bangalore has done this many times over. Inner Ring Road, Intermediate Ring Road, Outer Ring Road, NICE Road, Peripheral Ring Road.

A significant chunk of India’s geopolitics is defined by its adversarial relationship with Pakistan. Similarly for Bangalore, it is Chennai (and by extension, the rest of Tamil Nadu). The Kashmir in this case is another K-word. Kaveri. If you are a Tamilian venturing outside of ToK, it is advisable that you scream “Kaveri Nammadu” in the most Kannadiga of accents to avoid trouble from those still waiting for their Kaveri Stage IV water supply connections to work.

I can go on with these analogies for a while yet, but I have proven my basic point. There is more to Bangalore geopolitics than meets the eye. I shall tell you the rest over a beNNe masala and strong coffee at CTR (a wonderful restaurant in Bangalore, and not DPRK, ToK, or Amit Pradesh)

Thejaswi Udupa’s day job involves attempting to break cartels in the construction industry using a few lines of code. He holds strong opinions on science fiction, heavy music, and the boundaries of Bangalore.

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India’s independent judiciary

A summary of the debate in the Constituent Assembly about the need for a separation of the judiciary.

In December 1948, the Constituent Assembly gathered to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a separate executive, legislature and judiciary. The advantages of a Parliamentary democracy were advocated the most strongly, thereby resulting in an interdependent executive and legislature (wherein the executive, or Prime Minister, is decided by the majority in the legislature). However, it was agreed upon to make the complete independence of the judiciary a Directive Principle of State Policy.

There were several reservations towards this amendment also, though –the primary one being the dangers of giving too much power to the judiciary. As T. T. Krishnamachari said, “In trying to give the judiciary an enormous amount of power, a judiciary which may not be controlled by any legislature in any manner except perhaps by the means of ultimate removal, we may perhaps be creating a Frankenstein which would nullify the intentions of the framers of this Constitution.” He also felt that it was too early to appoint such a responsibility on a judiciary whose members had not yet even been fully decided and had not yet shown themselves to be the best people for the job. This, in addition to the high costs of paying salaries of separate lawyers, judges, and executive officers, was why Krishnamachari and B. Das suggested that India make the decision for independent bodies in a year, when it had experience as a nation-state.

However, it was more fervently agreed upon that despite its shortcomings, an independent judiciary was essential for a democratic and accountable government. It was what the Congress had been demanding of the British on principle for years and had never got. An example was related by Dr. Bakshi Tek Chand, of an incident of the Ministry trying to get a Magistrate to stay the proceedings of a criminal court case against an official. This incident brings out how politicians interfered and would continue to interfere with the judiciary if this motion was not passed. In this instance, the High Court expressed its disgust with this attempt by the executive to influence the way they functioned, and today’s judiciary often shares the same sentiment, as we have seen by Chief Justice R. M. Lodha’s reaction to the government refusing to clear Gopal Subramaniam as a Supreme Court judge.

This incident, however, shows clearly that the anxieties of the Assembly Members were not unfounded. The appointment of Supreme Court judges is not the responsibility of the Prime Minister or anyone representing a particular party. However, Gopal Subramaniam’s critical remarks of the Modi government in its early weeks led to his segregation from a list of four Supreme Court Judge candidates, without the knowledge of the rest of the Chief Justices, resulting in his withdrawal from the candidacy. This type of interference of the executive with the judiciary’s functioning is exactly what the Constituent Assembly Members wanted to avoid.

As in most of their debates, the Constituent Assembly showed sharp awareness of both the daunting nature of their task in shaping laws, as well as the nature of the people they were trying to both represent and reform at the same time.The kind of segregation being practiced by the current Centre in appointing judges for the Supreme Court is clearly something the Assembly had the foresight to be wary of. This was the objective of making an independent judiciary a Directive Principle. And, as Shri Loknath Mishra went the extra mile in pointing out, good administration of justice is not just about an independent judiciary – it is about just laws, and laws which are intelligible to the masses, both of which he said India lacked. These conflicts are inherent in this group of people that were too far ahead of their time, and they mirror the conflict embedded in the Constitution, the conflict between representation and reformation.

Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.

This article is part of a series of posts on the constituent assembly debates, meant to highlight the various points of views and negotiations that went into the creation of the Indian Constitution. Each post analyses the debates on a particular issue.

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Midterms: how important is the senate?

By Karthik Tadepalli

The relevance of the US Senate results in the November midterm elections

November’s midterm elections are going to dictate how much traction President Obama’s agenda can get in a divided Congress over the next two years. It’s more a case of “how little” than of “how much”–with the House firmly in Republican hands and the Democratic Senate majority looking precarious, the chances of the Democratic Party actually legislating any partisan agenda are low. A lot of commentators speculate that the Senate will be a deciding factor in the path the administration takes.

The Senate does not matter as much as it’s made out to matter, for the simple reason that neither party is likely to gain a decisive majority in the midterms, enough to push legislation comfortably with the two-thirds majority required by the Senate rules. With the current split of the seats being 53-45 plus two independents, let’s look at the three possible scenarios:
One, Democrats keep the Senate, with a net loss of 4 seats. (On an average, since 1947, the president’s party has tended to lose 4 seats in the Senate midterms.) Their majority has shifted from 53-45 (in practice 55-45, since the two independents generally vote with the Democratic caucus) to around 51-49 (49-49 and the Democrats keep majority by retention.) The majority is razor-thin but still there.
Two, Republicans take the Senate, with a net gain of 6-8 seats.  They have at least a 51-49 majority.
Three, Democrats make a net gain of 2-4 seats and increase their majority to at least 57-43. They have a comfortable majority and a greater chance of passing legislation and/or procedural amendments to counter Republican filibusters.

Scenario three is unlikely, but not improbable. If the Democratic Party can bolster President Obama’s flagging image (an effective way to do this would be to revamp a much-criticised foreign policy; nevertheless, the US should refrain from playing games with its foreign policy, especially for the sake of elections), appeal to young, non-white voters (the lowest turnout voters; these voters are found to find civil rights issues, gay marriage, minimum wage and other such agendas decisive), effectively sell voters on the Affordable Care Act (approval of the ACA is wavering, and with the GOP set to make opposition to it the centerpiece of the midterms, getting voters to support Obamacare may be crucial) and exploit the GOP’s image as traditional and out of step with a progressive America, then such a situation could be in the works.

Scenarios one & two, however, are the likely ones. In both cases, the Senate is held by a thin majority. Except for a switch in the positions of the Majority and Minority Leaders, there would be little change. Passing of legislation would become even more gummed up and only the most bipartisan issues would make it out alive. It’s true, then, that the Senate will decide the administration’s ability to push its agenda; but almost all the scenarios have a single result: no majority substantive enough for partisan legislation.

However, the Senate results this year are significant for another reason; they can signal how well each party will do in 2016. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are already looking at the future: Republicans try to find a strategy to bridge the divide between the conservatives and the libertarian moderates in the Party while fighting off Tea Party candidates in the primaries, and Democrats decide how to get their disillusioned voters to turn out. With several Senate seats from both parties likely to be even more hotly contested than they will be this year, as their senators become primary candidates, 2016 will be much more decisive for the Senate–and maybe even the House–than 2014.

Karthik Tadepalli is a student at NAFL Bangalore and an alumnus of Takshashila’s Public Leadership Camp. 

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Constituent assembly debate on reservation

By Apoorva Tadepalli

The concept of reservation, which was discussed in great detail during the Constituent Assembly debates, is much older than the drafting of the Constitution. The Members of the Assembly, along with many of the minority groups that they represented, were wary of the implications of reserving seats in the Legislative Assembly, claiming that it would serve to exacerbate differences that people felt with one another and increase separatist tendencies. They also identified that promoting reservations, ironically, came with a certain degree of exclusion.

There was exclusion of religion. The motion originally did not apply to many Christian, Sikh or other non-Hindu groups. Lower or backward castes of different religions had to institutionalise themselves into the group “Scheduled Castes” just to be able to express that they had been oppressed and needed representation. There was exclusion of lower caste communities that were less populated than others and had less probability of representation. And finally, there was exclusion of poor people of upper castes.

With this, most Members of the Assembly expressed worry that reservation was not the ideal way of achieving true representation. Even Muslim and Sikh Members knew that it would create a series of sub-castes that would further worsen the relations between and within the existing communities, making it difficult to achieve adequate representation. Further, many believed that trusting the elected representatives, even if they were part of majority communities, was a part of democracy.

The Members of the Assembly also believed that a fundamental part of democracy was the changing nature of the public. This comes through in Vallabhai Patel’s certainty that social justice would be seen in democracy’s natural course, without the need for political intervention, which is apparent when he says, “What brought about the abolition of slavery? Was it safeguards granted to them by anyone? No, it was the awakened conscience of the various countries.” As with other social evils worldwide, he believed that caste discrimination would eventually become unacceptable in Indian society.

The Members talked about uplifting the backward classes. But the fact that identifying these people was a point of contention shows the ambiguity of the term. Mahavir Tyagi said, “The term Scheduled Castes is a fiction…there are some castes who are depressed, some castes who are poor, some who are untouchables…How is Dr Ambedkar a member of the Scheduled Castes? Is he illiterate? Is he an untouchable? Is he lacking in anything?…I do not believe in the minorities on community basis, but minorities must exist on economic basis.”

This identified the final goal of reservations, which was and is to provide equal opportunities and representation to everyone, irrespective of social status. As Brajeshwar Prasad said, the Scheduled Castes’ “downtrodden nature is not political, it is cultural and economic and educational.” Clearly this is an economic problem in our country, as shown by Tyagi’s further assertion: that it was not the scheduled castes that needed special provisions “but “cobblers, washermen, and similar classes,” along with farmers, who did not enjoy this very urban provision. Many identified it as an economic problem in our country, including Dr P S Deshmukh, who said, “there are millions of people in our country whose obstacles are in no way different from those of the Scheduled Castes; and I wish to leave room for such people.”

Reservations were finally agreed upon even by those who were uncomfortable with it, because it was initially only supposed to be in place for ten years, and because the reasons expressed for the need for them could not be disputed – it could not be denied that lower castes and minorities had faced appalling atrocities from other communities in their history, and needed justice. However, no distinction was made between social and economic backwardness in the drafting of the articles. It may have just been easier to distinguish the latter from the former because of the significant overlap. It is also important to note that the Poona Pact had already taken place by this point and that reservations in the Assembly had been acknowledged as preferable to separate electorates, which would have been even more dangerous for the notion of equality.

Interestingly, it was also brought up during the debates that the sense of justice with which Indians were judging caste discrimination, was a product of British rule, and that the myriad of communities and their relations had been reduced to the British-introduced majority-minority binary. This binary made the extent of discrimination all the more apparent.

The fact that reserving seats in the Legislature has not eradicated the social evil that is the caste system supports the contention that social evils and economic inequality cannot be solved with political changes. What the Members of the Assembly fundamentally wanted was to provide some form of equality. There are more appropriate ways to achieve the same goals as political representation without the use of political representation. This is particularly desirable in the current context, wherein placements in government enterprises are less valuable than they were fifty years ago. Identifying people on the basis of income level or standard of living, and providing them with education, land, employment or subsidies, as many contemporary programs do, offers more empowerment to individuals than does political representation. Providing backward castes with “functional capabilities”, as Amartya Sen defines them, brings about a more sustainable approach to real progress and equality.

Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution. 

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Paying for your own money

By Varsha Ramachandran

The conventional method of token system seems to be finding its way back, thanks to Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to put a cap on the number of free ATM withdrawals. One must now stash up money in their wardrobes or find time from their busy schedules to line up at their banks.

Until now, unlimited free withdrawals were allowed from the same bank’s ATM, but withdrawal from a different bank’s ATM would cost after five free withdrawals. However, starting from 1-Nov-2014, the RBI has allowed banks to charge customers if they use their own bank ATMs more than five times a month. And if they conduct more than three transactions on other banks’ ATMs in a month, they will be charged Rs 20 per transaction. This applies to transactions in six metros: Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad. This decision comes in the wake of growing costs incurred by banks on establishing and maintaining ATMs.

In the era of high speed transactions, the central bank seems to support the commercial banks in going back to its orthodox ways. The number of ATMs in metros has increased manifolds. Easy and quick accessibility has made it convenient for people to withdraw at regular intervals from ATMs. An average person withdraws more than five times a month from an ATM. Clearly, an ATM has become more of a necessity now. Bringing the minimum to three seems highly irrational.

What is more surprising is the reason behind this decision. The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) highlighted that cost of ATM deployment and maintenance in growing, thereby asking RBI to put a cap on free transactions at ATMs. The number of ATMs increased from 27000 in 2007 to over 1.5 lakh by end of March this year. The rationale behind increasing the numbers is to make them accessible by as many citizens as possible. If the costs are so high, what was the point of RBIs policy to increase the number in the first place?

Three main costs are associated with ATMs for banks, cost of establishment, refilling, security cost and maintenance cost. Keeping aside cost of refilling for now, all the other costs will remain irrespective of the number of times people withdraw from ATMs. And the cost of refilling will not change drastically because people will withdraw more or less the same amount either in more intervals or less intervals. So what cost are they referring to then?

Coming to the customer side, metros comprise of immigrants and locals. Among the two, immigrants are the ones who tend to use ATMs more than the locals. The cost of going to a bank to withdraw money most certainly costs more than Rs. 20 per additional withdrawal. Moreover, immigrants living in hostels and sharing basis will not prefer stashing money in their wallets or rooms because of the fear of losing it, further driving them to continue using ATMs despite the charges. Locals on the other hand might prefer withdrawing larger sums of money and stashing them in their homes. The basic short term implication of keeping larger amount of cash in hand is liquidity crunch for the banks.

The RBI also aims at increasing the use of electronic financing options such as debit/credit cards for purchases. While this might be a good objective, the biggest flaw with this is the fact that card payment facilities are not available at several small kirana shops in these cities. Moreover, a number of the outlets charge additional interest for card payment modes.

With this move, banks may as well make marginal amount of profit from the fines, but all this at the cost of short term liquidity crunch. This whole concept seems flawed and irrational. Instead of moving towards faster transactions, this decision will lead to tedious and time consuming transactions.

Varsha Ramachandran is a Research Associate at the Takshashila Institution

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Job search for a digital India

By Devika Kher

It is IT that has the potential to connect each and every citizen of the country.

The Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech brought wider attention to the idea of having digital India work for the poor. His emphasis on using Information technology to drive development will be a boost for those ideas that seek to use an IT led approach to bridging the developmental divide. One area where this can be implemented effectively and efficiently is by changing how the job search works in rural areas.

The space for job search is dependent on three factors- skill (What one can do), location (Where it can be done) and revenue (How much will it earn?). With the advent of Internet, the answers for the three questions are available on online job portals. Websites like of Naukri.com and Times Job have created single platforms to enable employees meeting  employers. This has led to a multifold reduction in the time, energy and money spent in job hunting, or to use an economic jargon, has reduced the ‘search cost’ multifold.  But in order to enjoy these fruits of Internet technology, every individual requires an exposure to the advances of the IT. This is where the rural India is far behind the urban counterpart.

The foundation for providing digital exposure to the poor has already been laid by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). The Department of Electronics and Information Technology under MCIT has created Common Service Centres (CSC) with one of the provisions being an IT terminal at village level. However, in order to change the space for job search in the rural ends of the country, we need more than just the infrastructure. We need a drastic change in the mindset. We need to create awareness as well as a will to change the perception of job search.

All of this is to be done with the ultimate goal of making job search as costless as possible.  The scope for the change is not only to reduce information asymmetry  regarding urban jobs but also about the jobs in rural districts. To begin with, the prime beneficiaries of this intervention would be the skilled and semi-skilled labour with adequate knowledge to access Internet. The benefits can then percolate as the skill enhancement initiatives by various NGOs and governmental organisations attains broader base.  The extensive use of online portals would help broaden the choice for both employer and employee and would help in smoothing the process of wage settlement.

This drastic change in “the way things are done” can be understood and implemented using Kurt Lewin’s three step process for change. Kurt Lewin, popularly known as the father of modern social psychology, made important contributions to study of organisational development with the change process being one of his most famous works. Lewin used the analogy of changing the shape of a block of ice to describe the change in the organisation structure. Appropriately enough, he called the three stages as- Unfreeze, Change and Freeze.

In case of changing the pattern for job search, the Unfreeze stage would essentially include breaking down of the status-quo, which in the given case is the cumbersome and corrupt process of application for jobs and the negative effects of a grapevine communication currently substituting for a formal setup. This can be brought about by creating awareness about the advantages of accessing mobile and Internet services in the process of job search within the rural ends of the country. A strong campaign can be made to promote the use of online portal and highlight the advantages of the use of a common platform for job seeking. The main focus in this stage would be to convince the population about the need to change which would pave way for a change in the outlook.

During the stage of Change, the political-socio-economic setup can be altered such that more people start opting to the new way of job hunting. This would require a dedicated effort by the government authorities such as Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology etc. to work towards creating platforms for promoting endeavors which would help reduce the fixed employment cost faced by the employers and search cost confronted by employees.

Along with the government authorities the private players in the market such as Naukri.com can expand their database to accommodate the information regarding the jobs in the rural ends as well. The rise in the number of users of the online portal would create network economies by expanding the scope of information available. Hence, time and communication would play a vital role in bringing about the much required change in the entire process of job search.

Finally, in the Freeze stage, as the modes adopted for job search would alter for good, the government and private players can spend their energy in creating a framework which could incorporate the changes in the most efficient manner. An important consideration in this stage would be to identify the barriers and support system of the altered process so as to sustain the change within the system. For instance, a significant area of concern would be creating a structure to ensure the robustness and the efficiency of various modes of technology used within the framework. A system would have to be made to keep a check and bring appropriate changes to the developed framework as and when required.

These three steps can be seen as the guiding principles for the new government in order to attain the dream of a digital India in at least the very basic hurdle of job search.

Devika Kher is a Research Associate at the Takshashila Institution.

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Why is the economic power still with the west?

Economic activity has certainly shifted from the west to the east. However, it is a long road ahead before the economic power so to say shifts.

The West is rich; the East remains comparatively poor, in spite of all the great recent economic achievements”. Asia has gained significant importance in the wider world economy today. Enormous growth of two major Asian economies – China and India in the past decade coupled with the slowdown of a number of advanced economies in the west only hints towards economic power shifting from the west to east. However, it is a long road ahead before the global economic order faces such a radical change. This is simply because developed countries have accumulated immense wealth and socio-economic infrastructure over the centuries which continue to give them an advantage in capacity as well as influence over the east.

The downward spiral of the west started with the global financial crisis of 2008. This was followed by notable failures of the European Union. Crisis in independent debt management, fragility in financial sector and problems due to weaknesses in their institutional design were the main characteristics of the advanced economies of the west. The downturn of United States coupled with the crisis in the European Union only acted as catalysts in the decline of the west.

At the same time, the east emerged in a number of areas. This emergence is attributed mainly to the demographics, rapid urbanisation, growing middle class and potential for increasing productivity. 60 percent of the world lives in emerging markets of Asia, however, only 20 percent fall under the consumption bracket. When this consumption increases, these emerging markets are going to become mega markets of the world. Growing trade among developing countries is regarded as one of the major driving force of these markets in Asia. Another interesting aspect to note is that for the first time, Asian economies are investing across the globe. This is in stark contrast to the fact that Asia has been the hub for global investment for many decades now. It is encouraging and worthy to observe the change in this trend.

Government, financial institutions and households are robust, healthy and growing in the emerging economies of Asia. However, they seem to have weakened greatly in the West. Asia has experienced commendable and significant structural changes in the past few years which have contributed towards the rapid growth of this region. It has grown faster than any other region around the world. This phenomenal growth has been termed as a super-cycle which is characterized by rising trade, high rates of investment, rapid urbanisation and technological innovation.

Among the emerging economies of Asia, China and India are regarded as the front runners that are experiencing massive expansion. While China had been the center of global manufacturing, India has become the international hub for global services industry. 60 percent of the GDP of Asia comes from just these two economies. The economic resurgence of the two economies has also made way for the emergence of a number of other Asian economies such as Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

However, on the flipside, this excessive growth and improved structural transformation has been very uneven. A number of economies still need to come a long way to reach the standards of the front runners. Several countries have moved out of agricultural sector to industrial and service sector. Despite this, agriculture continues to employ a large portion of the workforce in Asia. There has been a shift from agriculture to low productive sub service sector. The exports basket has also become more diversified and refined, but only in the advanced economies of Asia.

Asian economies need to engage in inclusive growth and oppose all forms of trade protectionism to fuel economic growth. They must come together collectively and work towards policies which will further boost economic activity within Asia. Increasing importance is given to emerging economies by global organizations in order to consider their requirements towards integrating the global economy.

The emerging economies of Asia must take this to their advantage and ensure maximum assistance is received from global institutions.

Innovation is one major area where the west still dominates and the east has to catch up. They must also focus on structural transformation and direct labor towards highly productive sectors. Agriculture needs to be developed specifically in the low income economies by making modern and sophisticated methods available and implementing policies to increase productivity of this sector. These are some of the key areas that will drive employment and thereby contribute towards increasing wages in the sector which will thereby lead to increase in investments.

Emerging Asia has immense competitive advantage in manufacturing and service sector. Hence, looking forward, Asia most definitely appears to be better placed than the rest of the Global Economy. They must, however, work towards ensuring continuous innovations and build deep intellectual and institutional capital to have an edge over the already established west.

The Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, in September 2012, said “The rise of emerging economies was set in motion by the changes in technology, transportation costs and regulatory environment”. This swing in economic power has profound geopolitical consequences that will hardly be reversed in the foreseeable future.

However, while new economic and political trends have emerged, the rules and institutions governing multilateral cooperation have not kept pace with these changes. The difficulty in finding a new balance between advanced and emerging economies in a muted context has certainly played an important role in holding back meaningful progress.”

Asia has weathered the Global Financial crisis better than any other region. It has not only shown resilience and prompt recovery, but has also contributed largely towards the global economic recovery. However, despite the fact that the rapid economic growth of the developing countries has led to a more balanced distribution of economic power, they do not have much say in the global political and economic affairs. Many emerging countries are still way behind the developed countries in overall capacity, international outreach, institutional building and economic and social growth.

Economic activity has certainly shifted from the west to the east. However, it is a long road ahead before the economic power so to say shifts.

Varsha Ramachadran is a Research Associate at the Takshashila Institution.

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25 Years since the Tiananmen Massacre

By Piyush Singh

June 5th will mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. A pro-democracy movement which had started nearly 6 weeks back was brutally subjugated by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) under the orders of the Communist Party of China.

Chinese government not for the first time though, used brutal military tactics to quell the protest organised by Beijing University students for more freedom and basic human rights as enshrined in the Chinese constitution. What started out as a student revolt soon became a mass protest movement drawing peasants from the countryside to Beijing. Similar protests also started in other cities in China. The Communist Party, under the leadership of the autocratic Li Peng, vowed to use “firm and resolute measures to end the turmoil swiftly”. Martial Law was subsequently declared in and around Tiananmen Square and the protesters were given final warning to disperse or be responsible for what happens next.

On the night of June 4th under firm orders from the party leadership “to clear the square by dawn”, the army began its advance. Throughout the night scores of peaceful, unarmed protesters were killed or brutally injured. People were shouting at the foreign journalists present at the scene to take videos and pictures to show the world what is going on in China. It was a mere coincidence that foreign journalists were present in Beijing in large numbers to cover the event because it occurred simultaneously to Gorbachev’s visit to China. What happened was the most brutal oppression of peaceful protest in the world. Majority of countries from all over the world condemned the Chinese government. India, in order to not agitate China carried a very limited broadcasting of the event.

The scars of the event remain fresh in world’s memory even though Chinese citizens have no clue about it. Chinese internet search results are very strictly censored with regards to the event.  Searches like “May 35th”, “April 65th” etc are blocked. Chinese authorities have gone at great lengths to erase the memory of the protest from public view. Beijing has been attempting to expunge their collective memory through the worship of a soaring economy.

The protest also served as a wake-up call for the Chinese government. Already the Chinese market was going through huge reforms and the government after the brutal crackdown brought in further reforms to pacify the citizens. They stuck a deal with the citizens which basically were that you will have economic development but no political freedom. The sort of deal you make with the devil.

Since then China has transformed on a huge scale. Its economy is one of the largest and recently it became the world’s largest trading nation. However their citizens rue the lack of basic human rights and representative form of government. Human dignity signifies not just economic prosperity but also able to live his/her life freely, be able to voice opinions which are against the government etc. Recently in 2008, Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo came up with Charter 08 to demand political reform and an end to single party rule in China.  He suffered the same fate as all political dissidents in China suffer. One outspoken film professor, Cui Weiping, wrote, if people continue to stay silent, “June 4 will no longer be a crime committed by a small group of people, but one in which we all participated.”

Even though former President Hu Jintao and current President Xi Jinping have regularly advocated that western democratic values won’t work in China, it is essential that China follow its own Constitution which speaks about democracy, rights to its own people and constitutional supremacy.

As we near the 25th anniversary of the oppression, it is to be noted that even though China is still far away from incorporating democratic values and institutions into the society, a single misstep by the Party rulers in the long run will surely ignite a new protest. They are banking on economic growth and prosperity to bide time for themselves but it won’t last for long. China has become extra vigilant as the 25th anniversary approaches near and has been rounding off scholars and pro-democracy protesters so that they do not create any sort of disturbance on that day.  All efforts made by the Chinese government to wash-off its hands of such heinous crime should be resisted and people should slowly and steadily work to fulfill the dreams of those who died that day. Lu Xan in 1926 after witnessing a brutal protest wrote “Lies written in ink can never disguise facts written in blood” should serve as the dictum for people who still hope for democracy in China.

Piyush Singh is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.

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Fast track courts

Fast track courts are seen to be a new dawn in the over burdened judicial system proposing not only justice but timely so.

“Fast track courts” was one of the most influential means of judicial reforms. Over 1700 special courts were established in India exercising on the principle of “justice delayed is justice denied”. The Ministry of Finance sanctioned an amount of Rs. 502.90cr under Article 275 as “special problem and upgradation grant” for judicial administration. These courts are expected to clear the excessive strength of pending cases in the subordinate courts. The previous law minister, K Sibal said necessary steps should be taken to establish a suitable number of Fast Track Courts to especially hear “offences against women, children, differently abled people, senior citizens and marginalised sections” of society. Interestingly these courts are also expected to be cost effective as in the initial months, they will handle petty crimes that have been backlogged and held offenders in jail for longer than required, and this would in turn relieve jails off some of the burdens of over-populating. The fast track courts can thus be seen as an act in furtherance to Art 21 which provides for both right to life and speedy trials.

The scheme says that there must be at least 5 fast track courts in every district. Beyond that the distribution is done on the basis of amount of pending cases. These courts will take state their working first with those cases that have been hung along for 2yrs or more.

“An effective justice delivery system requires that justice should not only be delivered on time, but should also be easily accessible to people, particularly people from vulnerable sections of society,” said President Pranab Mukherjee while delivering a lecture in seminar organised by the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

For quick and efficient decision making the sub-ordinate courts are being integrated with technological infrastructure. By the end of March 2014, 12000 out of the total 22000 lower and district courts were sanctioned to be computerised.

The Supreme Court in “All India Judges Association vs Union of India & Ors” stated that, “An independent and efficient judicial system is one of the basic structures of our Constitution. If sufficient number of judges is not appointed, justice would not be available to the people, thereby undermining the basic structure.” The court explained importance of fast track courts saying that “to create a court is to appoint a judge”. The appointment of judges in these courts will be done through Chief Justices, further amongst the retired session and additional session court judges; few would be chosen to be ad-hoc judges by the High Court. The credential of judges was also stressed upon by the court. It was observed that a good judge is not when who is good but who’s also thought to be good. Simply stating the trust of public on judiciary not just lies in their trust over the judges. The substantiate this, the Court in its decision in Brij Mohan Lal v Union of India pronounced that no person who was dismissed or removed or compulsorily retired or made to seek retirement shall be considered for appointment under the Scheme. The Court has been monitoring the functioning of fast track courts since this judgement in May, 2002.

The Law Minister and the judicial system seemed to have a strong trust in this scheme and hoped that it would help in eliminating the back-log of cases and make justice readily available to all those who seek it. Unfortunately these courts have failed to live up to their expectations. The 2012 Delhi gang rape case which spurred the need of quick delivery of justice, took 7 months to be resolved. Now, although the judicial system as a whole considers this to be a good start, the hopes of public were much higher. Further despite the Supreme Court direction for setting aside 10 percent of existing courts as additional fast-track courts, no efforts were made in furtherance to it. Hence the Supreme Court upheld the government’s policy to stop funding fast-track courts, which were created a decade ago to speed up trial in pending cases but have failed to deliver.

Although contrasting views on its success, fast track courts are seen to be a new dawn in the over burdened judicial system proposing not only justice but timely so.

Ruchita Sharma is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.

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Constituent Assembly debate on alcohol consumption

The principles of liberty dictate that a man, in his capacity, without hurting the rights of other, is privileged to make his choices himself, without any outside coercion.

Consumption of alcohol was as debateable while forming the constitution as it is now. People drink to celebrate, to relax, to repress their thoughts and so on. Although it has its pros and cons, alcohol is still looked down upon in the country. The matter of whether ban of “alcohol and other drugs” should be a part of Constitution was discussed, in what can be called a rather heated debate, on November 24, 1948.

It was fascinating to note that the members disapproved of alcohol for the cause of effects it has on individuals themselves. Although Shri B. G. Kher (then Bombay General) while speaking for ban of alcohol, mentioned the gratitude of families whose members before the ban ‘used to drink them to death’, the spotlight maintained on the long term affects of alcohol on the consumer himself.

The motion was to amend Art 38 of draft Constitution which read, “shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health except for medicinal purposes”. Shri BH Khardekar (Kolhapur) introduced the motion stating that the arguments put forth to pass the ban were rather flimsy. He explained in great detail how Gandhism would treat this issue and that it’s about hating the sin and not the sinner. Khardekar was attempting to draw the distinction between the inward and outward approach of Gandhism and called prohibition as the outward approach. He said Gandhi being a Gita-student professed that although there is one truth it is of grave importance that everyone shapes their own path to it. It can be deduced that he proposed that it’s up to the will of people to decide. The government cannot spoon feed its way to public welfare.

The principles of liberty dictate that a man, in his capacity, without hurting the rights of other, is privileged to make his choices himself, without any outside coercion. In the wider sense Khardekar was pointing at the welfare nature of state and believed it created unnecessary restriction on free will and liberties. He quoted GB Shaw, “examine, test and then accept” and criticised the ban saying that citizens are not cattle to be hoarded around. The welfare state looks for an overall development of the citizens and increasing the number of restriction and limiting the scope of free will hinder that development.

No matter how strong and ‘futuristic’ his views were, Khardekar failed to make a mark on the assembly. His point was singlehandedly flogged by Shri Jaipal Singh (then Bihar General) who called alcohol to be a vicious element. He contended that alcohol is neither required for religious purpose nor is it the only mean of recreation. He further added that government sometimes, on the course to protect the welfare of individual, has to limit their rights so that the code of civil society is maintained.

A very intriguing point was that before the British invasion these so called vicious-elements were alien to the population and so it only seemed fair that with the departure of British, these things should also leave the country. Again, intriguing but futile. The argument was based on the notion that items like whiskey, beer, wine-the bottled liquour- was introduced by British; the assembly did not consider materials like bhang that prevailed in the country as “intoxicating drink which are injurious to health”.

Further, economically the country was at such a point that giving absolute liberties on certain issues will only result in the downfall of the societical order. Not to ignore the crimes that follow after indulging in such activities. Although, it was marked out that only a minuscule of the entire drinking community indulges in such activities.

It was observed that while imposing the ban might be seen to be a little authoritarian but the consequences of not taking any action appeared far abhorrent. The motion was hence passed. Presently it is part of DPSPs under article 47.

Now the fact that ban on alcohol consumption was introduced as a part of Directive Principle of State Policy speaks a lot about the intention of the legislature. Article 37 clearly states that though DPSP cannot be enforced in the court of law, they are, nonetheless, fundamental in governance. It means although the constitution imposes a ban on alcohol consumption, its implementation is such that one cannot enforce it in the court of law. Following which the government took various steps to clearly state its intention; the Karnataka Prohibition Act 1962, Bombay Prohibition Act 1949 and other such acts are individually introduced by respective state governments. These acts not only define the age limit but also the consumption limits of alcohol. They also state the procedure of acquiring liquor licence, it shall be noted that no person can sell, import or manufacture alcohol without the prior permission on concerned authority. And to show its concern on the matter, the Government via the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2000, completely prohibits cigarette and alcohol advertisements.

While few states like Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland have a complete ban on consumption altogether, some States interpret Article 47 in the manner to not ban the but merely regulate it; The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) is owned and operated by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the state.

It appears to be a “safe-step” on the part of the legislature to incorporate these provisions. Merely to avoid handling the negative consequence that maybe created by a very small percentage, this provision ceases the right of choice altogether. And the fact that alcohol is still present in the country, available at the mercy of Government, it can very well be questioned that whether the intention of legislature was truly public good? As rightly put by Benjamin Franklin, “any society that gives up a little liberty to gain a little security deserves nothing and will end up losing both” and the more liberties are scarified, the less would be the development of society.

Ruchita Sharma is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.

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