Changes in Tunisia in Jan. 2011-How far are welcome?


Following large scale demonstrations over rise in prices of food grains, unemployment, corruption, authoritarian rule etc. President Zine-al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia fled the country to Saudi Arabia with his family and Parliament Speaker Fouad Mebazza has taken over as Interim President. Several countries have welcomed the changes. But how far the change is turned good for Tunisia and the world?

Today, terrorism particularly that based on religious extremism is the most dreaded problem in the world. It appears that former President Ben Ali repressed the human rights/freedom of religious extremists to ensure the human right to profess religion of choice, to religious minorities viz Jews and Christians. He is also reported to have curtailed the freedom of the people by blocking access to visit jihadi blogs /websites. He also is credited to have maintained mosques as places only for prayers and not for propagation of any particular view by the Imams. He is also said to have promoted the women’s rights.

Corruption cannot be condoned on any account. Increase in prices of food grains is a universal phenomenon but efforts should have been made to subsidize food items to see that the people are not affected badly. Unemployment could also have been tackled perhaps, easily by undertaking large developmental and infrastructural projects.
Human rights are good, but it should be of all the people including minorities. Repression is bad, but anti-social elements as also terrorists of all sorts, should be dealt with strongly. Democracy is good but it should be ensured that it is not exploited by anti-social elements and religious extremists to impose their will.

Let us hope that the new regime ensures human rights and freedom of all the people including minorities, tackles religious extremism by dialogue rather than oppression and moves towards increased production of goods and services at a faster rate.

China’s economic develoment


China’s economic development in the past 30 years has been phenomenal. It has overtaken several countries including Germany and Japan to become the world’s 2nd largest economy(GDP US$5.7 trillion). It has become the largest exporter in the world. There is discussion already,on when China would overtake USA(GDP US$ 14.6 trillion) to become the largest economy. However, it appears that China may not overtake USA in GDP, in the near future, as its development is based on weak foundation:

a. unlike in countries like India, in China, the contribution of foreign invested companies to the GDP is very high- about 40%. Foreign direct investment in China is nearly US$ 1 trillion.

b. contribution of foreign invested firms to china’s foreign trade is over 50%

c. if foreign firms withdraw, China would lose its position as the 2nd largest economy and the largest exporter. GDP growth rate would also fall substantially from the present
level of around 10%

d.China’s investment in research and development is low- about 1.5% of its GDP, compared to 3% in USA. It depends on foreign countries for technology.

e.arable land in China is limited-only about 140 million hectare(just about 15% of total area) for its population of 1350 million. USA has about 175 million hectares for a population of about 300 million.

f.agricultural land is over exploited with high input of fertilizers. Soil degradation is likely to lead to drop in agricultural production.( China has however done a good thing in leasing large areas of agricultural land in Africa.)

g. natural and man-made calamities take place more often in China than in many countries.

While the achievement of China in the last 30 years is adorable, it may also have to be noted that this has been possible because of foreign assistance, which means foreign developed countries also have contributed to the progress. Of course, the foreign countries have benefited enormously from their investments.