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Showing posts from April, 2010

A step forward, finally

We had in November 2008 argued in a piece entitled ‘Euphoria now – apprehensions to follow’, that the Barack Obama reality may turn out more subdued than the dream. This prophecy sadly seems to be ringing true. The healthcare victory last week, in which Mr Obama invested so much of his personal authority and consequently political capital, was a significant step forward. His achievements in other areas, however, are hard to list. The presidency is increasingly viewed as being weak and several foreign capitals have begun to suspect that the Obama administration may well be a single term one. Universal healthcare has been important to the Democrats, so the passage of the healthcare bill is a commendable feat. But Mr Obama failed to garner wider support, as polls suggest that more Americans oppose his healthcare reforms than support it. Republicans are horrified that the bill does almost nothing to control costs and American business, which has always felt alienated by the administration

A recovery, but risks remain

2009 appears to have been a remarkable year by most benchmarks. Global financial markets bounced back with clear indications of economic stability and perhaps even those of a hesitant recovery. Trade flows have picked up and the Baltic Dry Index, an indicator of shipping demand, has begun to edge upwards after falling by more than 90% of its peak value. The massive fiscal and monetary stimulus provided by governments, in careful coordination, across the world, paid off and an extended recession that might so easily have crept in was averted. Emerging economies understandably recovered quicker with stock markets leading the upturn. These were sustained by large capital inflows. Chinese and Indian stocks literally doubled in a short period of time making good their earlier losses. Even optimists would agree that things simply could not have turned out better. However, the power of printing money does come with a fall side. The underlying systemic problems that created failures in the fi

Picking the wrong Issues

Following the May 2009 elections, which brought in a second term for the UPA administration, some analysts believed that working relations between the Congress Party and the BJP opposition, would finally turn more cordial. That would, in the least, facilitate better floor-coordination for important legislation and, national interests would over-ride petty political bickering. The previous term of Manmohan Singh’s government are well remembered for perpetual squabbling. The subsequent election campaign too involved frequent run-ins between Mr Singh and BJP leader LK Advani. Unhappily, things have not improved, and this time the blame would appear to lie largely on the BJP’s parliamentary leadership. The BJP walk-out during the budget presentation over a fuel price hike was in shallow form. It seemed odd that even experienced lawmakers, who have unhindered access to information on government finances, would seek to gain inane political mileage over an issue of national interest. Whilst

Australian Attacks

The Indian media has over the last several months revealed a bias on a matter concerning the racial abuse of Indian students living in Australia. Apparently, a hundred cases were reported involving acts of aggression, leading to Australians at large being tarnished, as an overtly racist society. Politicians riding on public opinion joined the band-wagon with emotional outbursts. Unfortunately, one fed into the other to such an extent that important diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Canberra are being unnecessarily undermined. This note is intended to provide a balanced perspective, with a view to setting the record straight. An escalation in migration… Over the past few years the population of Indian students in Australia has escalated exponentially – from 6,000 in 2004 to over 120,000 presently – largely an outcome of liberal immigration policies. Many of these students obtain visas for vocational courses such as hair-dressing, cookery and personal services and travel with

Futile Debate

The Earth has warmed and cooled in succession for millions of years. This was largely the outcome of natural cycles created by geological changes, some of which scientists have understood but several that remain largely unrecognised. There is therefore the line of thought which suggests that the debate on climate change is perhaps marginal in the context of the several geological factors that contribute to the formation of long term weather patterns. The prominent natural causes include continental drifts. The surface of the planet looked vastly different 275 million years ago and comprised of one large land mass. As plates shift, continents are formed. With such movements of the earth’s surface, oceans and seas are created and destroyed which in turn affects the earth’s climate. The Himalayas yet continue to rise slowly as the Sub-continent inches forward each year. Volcanic eruptions too affect weather patterns. Ash and sulphur are thrown up into the atmosphere together with large a