Curtailing Automobile Fuel Consumption

29/01/2010

One of the most visible industries in India, after liberalization of the economy, is the automobile industry. The industry is expanding the already large capacities of two-wheelers, three wheelers and four wheelers. Yet, there is shortage of petrol/diesel in many places on many occasions and crude oil availability may not see much increase in in the future. Though crude oil has been discovered in a few places in India and exploration of these new finds may ease the fuel crunch (to a small extent), India may continue to need to import about 60-80% of its fuel requirement. As the global availability of crude oil becomes uncertain, the government should take policy decisions to curtail fuel (petrol and diesel) consumption. Some of the measures that could be taken are:

  1. In all places – small towns to big cities, two-wheeler taxis should be introduced as in Thailand and Vietnam to minimize the high fuel consumption of three- and four-wheels taxis
  2. Automobile manufacturers should be encouraged to limit the capacity for petrol run vehicles and increase the capacity for diesel vehicles as diesel vehicles give higher mileage, thus reducing consumption of petrol
  3. Public transport vehicles such as buses should be reconfigured to make space for luggage by removing 2 or 3 rows of seats. This will make a large number of passengers avoid taxis, auto rickshaws and mini trucks
  4. Government should also encourage production of vehicles which run on natural gas/LPG
  5. To minimize consumption of LPG for cooking and diverting the same for the automobiles, an alternate fuel for cooking should be marketed in large quantities. Compressing and bottling bio-gas should be encouraged by offering reasonable subsidies to new ventures in this field. This will be new industry in India
  6. Some subsidies could be extended to electric bicycle/scooter/car manufacturers so that these customers move towards these vehicles

Padma Awards

26/01/2010

The Government of India has released a list of 130 persons for whom three categories of the highest civilian awards, the Padma Awards, are to be conferred in 2010. The three Padma awards – Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Sri – are given for exceptional and distinguished service, distinguished service of the high order and distinguished service, respectively, in the fields of art, science & engineering, trade & industry, literature & education, public affairs, medicine or social work.

A perusal of the list shows that of the six Padma Vibhushan awardees three are from the arts, one from public affairs, one from science & technology but from the UK and the sixth is from trade & industry. The Government has a well established procedure for selecting awardees and the awardees help maintain the prestige of the awards.

It seems that it is now time to review the policy guidelines with a view to confer separate awards for an individual’s exceptional achievements in his/her  field and individual’s distinguished service in his/her field to the country or the humanity as a whole.

The distinguished service could be like the following:

  1. Finding cures for till now incurable diseases such as cancer and new diseases such as chikungunya and swine flu
  2. Developing new and cheap technology
  3. Evolving new varieties of high yielding and drought resistant crops
  4. Sacrificing comforts and improving the standard of living and quality of life of people

Padma awards could be given for exceptional achievements in one’s field and a new category of awards could be instituted for distinguished service.


Revaluing Indian Rupee against Foreign currencies

23/01/2010

A few decades ago, Sri Lanka brought down the prices of several items by revaluing the Sri Lankan Rupee i.e. by changing the rate of exchange between Sri Lankan Rupee and foreign currencies, making foreign currencies cheaper. This meant that costs of all imported items came down immediately. Then the prices of domestic products which have foreign components by way of equipment, raw materials and fuels also came down.

India imports most of its requirements of petroleum and petroleum products. By changing the rate of exchange between the Rupee and US$ dollar, to say $1 = Rs.20, instead of Rs.45 now, costs of petrol, diesel oil, fuels etc. would come down by about 50%. Costs of imported coal would also come down. Costs of electricity production would fall. Costs of transport would fall heavily. With cost reductions transport, electricity and fuel oil, prices of all manufactured items will also fall. There would be all round decrease prices.

Similarly, India also imports rough diamonds and raw cashew nuts which are then processed. With a revaluation of the Rupee, there would not be a need to subsidize exporters of these and other processed goods.

With such an action, exports will be affected. Though the exporters will continue to get the same price in terms of dollars, and their cost of production would have come down, their realization in terms of Rupees will come down.  They can be compensated by way of suitable cash allowance as had been the case in 1970s.  Instead of the importers subsidizing the exporters, the government would be subsiding the exporters but to a lesser extent. Tourism industry may not be affected much as the tourists could be made to spend more in terms of foreign currency.


Increase size of the Police Force to reduce crime

22/01/2010

The Police Force is not adequate in any of the Indian states. For example, in Tamilnadu state for a population of 65 million, there are only 8,5000 Police personnel. This works out to one Police person for a population of about 750. This is not adequate, particularly because of high crime rates, deployment of large number of personnel for VIP protection and shortage of sophisticated equipment and transport. In many of the developed countries, the Police- Population ratio is one is to 250. The strength of the Police Force in India should be doubled, if not tripled.

The Police Force should be proactive. Finance companies cheating their depositors is a frequent news item for the last several years. While it is mainly the greed which makes people believe in promises of unbelievable returns on deposits, a dedicated Police Wing could follow advertisements in the media, posters etc and seek explanation from the companies as to how they would fulfill their promises. Action could be initiated wherever necessary.

Another frequent news item is the cheating by recruitment agencies, promising to get lucrative jobs in foreign countries. The Police should ask for the relevant documents from such agencies and get them verified from concerned Embassies/High Commissions.

For each 500 people, there should be 2 local friends of police who would report matters of relevance to the Police on a regular basis. Police should take suitable action on these reports. The Police should have records of all the people – their names, addresses, jobs, approximate income, the people living outside the locality, their whereabouts, work, remittances to home etc. and the lifestyle of the people and make use of these records. Thus crime could be reduced to a large extent.


Use of nuclear energy to build dams

12/01/2010

India uses nuclear energy mainly to produce electricity, and in medicine, food processing and food preserving

In 1965, Soviet Union used nuclear energy to create across Chagan river, a dam,called Lake Chagan, 100  meter deep,400 meter in diameter and 20-35 meter in height. India at present needs lakes and canals badly, to irrigate the lands to increase the food grain production from around 230 million mt per year to about 400 million mt i.e 300kg Per capita, per year  which is the world average. India,to start with should use nuclear energy to build such a dam across  one of  the major rivers like Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri in the South. It should also try to dig canals with the help of nuclear energy to link  two of the above mentioned rivers.

Incidentally, these efforts would refine the nuclear technology available with us beside increasing the food grain production and eliminating or minimising floods..


Attacks on Indian Students in Australia

12/01/2010

There are attacks against Indian students and other Indian nationals in Australia for quite some time. There have been attacks in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria province. The matter has been taken by the highest authorities of India with the highest authorities of Australia, both in India and Australia. The Government of India seems to feel that the Government of Australia has taken serious and concerted efforts to prevent the attacks against Indians.

Australia benefits from students from India studying in Australia, not only in terms of their fees but in other ways also. Victoria province has a population of about 50 lakhs and has a police force of nearly 14,000, i.e. they have police personnel for every 400 people. It should therefore not be difficult for the police to identify the potential perpetrators of crime and take them under preventive custody. Instead of just expressing our concerns, Government of India should demand that Victoria Police set up a Special Squad for Protecting Indian students. (as also the Police in other provinces). A committee of Police and Indian Students should be formed to identify places usually visited by Indian students with a view to intensifying the patrols. Victoria Police should also involve local people and volunteers to identify the criminals.  The Government of India should also warn that if such measures are not taken, it may not be possible for the Government to allow Indian students to study in Australia. 

What is said above is quite reasonable and the Government of Australia will only be willing to accede. Therefore, Government of India need not worry that these demands would be misunderstood and that this would have an impact on the good Indo-Australian Relations.

 

 


Lowering minimum age for employment and enhancing age for retirement

11/01/2010

There was a time when Indians used to take pride that illiterate mechanics, masons, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc did a wonderful job by learning from seeing and working with experienced people. They used to work with the seniors from the age of less than 10 years. Now child labour is banned and children cannot go for jobs at 10 years. 

Now one finds that the quality of work of mechanics etc. is poor and quantum of output is very low. It appears that like in developed countries, students should study at vocational training institutes all the trades mentioned above as well as trades like laundry, hair cutting, domestic work etc. A student completes 8th class at the age of 13 and thereafter goes to vocational institutes for period of 2 years. They can go for jobs from the age of 15. The minimum age for recruitment to the post of Lower Division Clerk is pass in 12th class. In states like Tamilnadu, a person completes his 12th class at the age of 17. So, the minimum age for recruitment to the post should be kept at 17 instead of 18. Earlier the minimum qualification required was pass in 11th standard which means, the minimum age for recruitment should have been kept at 16 and not 18. Even elementary school teachers used to be available for jobs from the age of 15 after 8 years of studies in general schools and 2 years course in training.

 By keeping the minimum age for recruitment at a higher level the country loses their due contribution to the economy by 1- 3 years.

With the longevity increasing, people can work up to the age of 65. By retiring people at the age of 58/60 the country loses 5-7 years’ contribution of people to the country’s development.

With proper priorities, the government and the people  can create so large a number of jobs that India would have to import labour.


Interest Rates on Deposits

11/01/2010

There was deceleration in the economic growth during 2008 and 2009. Among the measures the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) took, one was decreasing the interest rates for loans as well as deposits. While one can understand the eagerness of the govt and RBI to accelerate growth rate, it is difficult to accept the reduction in interest rates on deposits as it amounts to asking the depositors to bear the burden of reviving economic growth. Reduction of Interest rates on loans will encourage higher consumption leading to higher production. Banks will suffer loss, if they were made to lower interest rates on loans but maintain interest rates on deposits. Wherever, the banks are made to lend at lower rates, the government should meet the loss arising from lowering interest rates and should not ask banks to meet the expenditure by reducing interest rates on deposits. Interest rates on deposits have come down from around 10% per annum to around 6% per annum while interest rates on house financing, vehicle financing, industry have come down from around12% to around 8%. While concluding agreements for Build Operate and Transfer projects and Power Purchase Agreements, government agrees on return on capital of 10-15%. Wages are increasing by 10-15% every year. In the unorganized sector, the increase is higher. Prices of consumer items also increase by more than 10- 15%. Gold price has increased by 100% in the last three years i.e. at 30% per year. Share market has seen increase in index,. If interest rates on deposits are not kept at a reasonable level, say 10-15%, depositors will withdraw their money for investment in gold, real estate etc and the banks would starve of money for lending to automobile purchase, housing sector and trade and business activities. Why should the depositors invest in deposits and get lower return when they can get higher returns in investing in gold, real estate etc.?


India- Electricity Production and Consumption

03/01/2010

India is the 6th largest producer and consumer of electricity in the world. However, India’s per capita production and consumption is very low as seen from the table below.

country Population

(million)            

Production

(million kwh)

Percapita prod.(Kwh) Consumption(million kwh) Percapita consu ption(kwh)
Bangladesh   156     22990    147      21380    137
Vietnam     87     66810    768      59300    682
Venezuela     27   113300   4196      83020   3075
China 1339 3041000   2271  2835000   2117
France     62   535700   8640    447000   7210
UK     61   368600   6043    345800   5660
United States   307 4110000 13388  3837000 12498
INDIA 1166   761700     653    568000     487

 

Even as late as 2003, Vietnam’s per capita production and consumption of electricity was much lower than India.  Electricity consumption is an indication of the economic and social development of a country.  India should increase its consumption by about 10 times to join the club of economically developed countries. Every town authorities should be encouraged to produce electricity from garbage, biogas and sunlight in cooperation with local consumers. Every water reservoir should attempt to produce hydro power.


India and China- agricultural production

03/01/2010

India claims to have brought in green revolution. The green revolution is reported to have been brought mainly by introduction of high yielding and drought resistant varieties and increased use of chemical fertilizers. It is a fact that more than anything, for increasing production irrigation is required. India has failed to provide irrigation to the extent possible. Rainfall in India is neither low nor high, over large parts of the country. Comparison between India and China shows, how India is failing in agricultural production and yield.

  China China China India India India
Crop Area(ha) Production(mt) Yield Area(HA) Production Yield(mt)
Cereals 86,060 000 457 443 000 5.31 99 472 000 260 480 000 2.62
Pulses   2 884 000     3 777 000 1.31 23 200 000   14 170 000 0.61
Oil crop 28 962 000  14  955 000 0.52 39 193 000  12  019 000 0.31
Sugar

cane

 1 813 000 115 363 000 63.63   4 900 000 355 520 000 72.56
Vegetables 23 717 000 451 633 000 19.04  5 905 000  77 243 000 13.08
Vegetables 102 405 000  57 456 000
             

 

Except in sugarcane, yield is much lower in India than in China.  Government has to take urgent action to increase the irrigation facilities by digging new lakes, deepening existing lakes, connecting rivers with lakes, linking rivers wherever possible, draining rainwater into the nearby lakes and harvesting rain water etc.  If these are done, there is no need to subsidize sale of fertilizers, electric power supply for pump sets etc. as increase in yield will take care of the higher costs of fertilizers, power etc.

Introduction of courses on water management in all major universities could be considered.