Artificial rain- cloud seeding

15/08/2015

In certain parts of Tamilnadu, during June-August,2015,the rainfall has been so negligible that farming operations have not been undertaken. If the rain starts in September, it may in some cases be too late for sowing certain seeds.Even drinking water for humans and animals has become a big problem. In order to ensure timely rainfall, it may be useful to resort to cloud seeding and simultaneously to undertake research on refining the existing technology to achieve lower cost, safety, avoid pollution, avoid lower rains during the period subsequent to cloud seeding. Research by as many universities as are willing should also be funded by the government. Cloud seeding is not new to Tamilnadu, as it had already undertaken several times in the past starting from 1960s in Nilgiris district, though there was a long break after 1960s. Several countries, particulary in Asia like Thailand, China etc are resorting to cloud seeding. Each district should have one organisation to udertake this operation. It can be a public or private organisation.


Promoting consumption of milk in India and other countries

10/07/2013

India is the largest producers of milk in the world with production of about 120 million tons (2011). The per capita production comes to only about 100kg per year. USA, the second largest producer of milk with a production of around 90 million tonnes has a per capita production of about 300 kgs while countries like Germany and France produce about 400 kg per head per year.

Milk is one of the few items in which India has higher per capita production than China whose per capita production is only about 30kg. India with a very large vegetarian population should increase per capita consumption considerably. However, with low purchasing power of people, India may become surplus in milk within a few years if the present rate of increase in production is maintained.

India and Pakistan are the major producers of buffalo milk. Production of goat milk is negligible in the world.

India needs to take steps to increase consumption of milk because of its nutritional value. There should be increased use of milk and milk products not only in sweets but also in other dishes. Use of milk and milk products should be promoted in countries like China and Vietnam to whom India could export. Once the Chinese and Vietnamese get used to sweets, there will be huge demand for milk and milk products.


BRICS

15/04/2012

There is need for a wide and intense public debate on India’s membership of various regional and other forums like BRICS. Some of the points to be debated are:

1.Whether BRICS will push up Russia and China to more prominent roles on par with that of United States in world affairs

2.Mmbership of fora like BRICS diverts attention from bing focussed on other imprtant and urgent issues

3.There is not much comonality of interests between India and some other BRICS members. Increasing gold prices benefit Soth Africa,Russia and China who are major prodcers while it badly affects India, which is a large importer.

4. Increae in oil prices is against India’s interests, but to be on the other side of US,Russia and China often take positions fabourable to oil exporting Arab countries.

5.Rupee trade agreements were in practice decades ago between India and countries like East European contries, Egypt. India does not have to be member of BRICS to practic it again and with any country to increase trade

6. Extending more credit in Indian Rupees to developing contries will lead to increase in India’s exorts.

7.. To increase exports and also imports, India should become a trading nation like Singapore, UAE,Hong Kong etc.to emerge as one of the top 5 importers/exprters. Indian Missions in BRICS countries can play a larger role to forge closer relations even without the existence of BRICS forum

8.India’s inerests and concerns appear to correspond to those of US in matters like fight
against terrorism, nuclear programme of new countries, democracy, individual’s freedom, fundamental rights etc.

9.The common futures which exist between these countries may not continue in future also.


China’s economic develoment

20/02/2011

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.


Developing countries should undertake more research

21/02/2010

While the entire people of the world benefits from research, major research is undertaken mostly by the US and other developed countries. According to the Government of India, at present India spends less than 1% of its GDP on research and development in the field of science and technology. According to UNESCO, China spends around 1.5%., Japan 3.4%, South Korea 3.5%, Singapore 2.6% and Finland 3.7%. The US spends around 3% of its GDP.

Developing countries, particularly large ones such as China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria should feel that it is in their interest also to engage in research and try to spend at least 2% of their GDP on research. India and China being large countries with large economies, should take initiative in this case.

Similarly a larger number of scientists should engage in both scientific and industrial research. In the year 2006, it was announced in the Parliament of India that there were only 120 (0.012% of  population) active scientists per million of population in India, as compared to 2,691 per million of population in United Kingdom i.e. 0.26% of the population. According to UNESCO, there were about 7.1 million researchers in the world which works out to a little over 0.1% of global population. Developing countries have only 2.7 million or 0.05% of population in research while developed countries have 4.4 million or 0.5% of the population.

Paucity of funds should not be a reason for such low number of scientists in developing countries. Scientific and industrial research should be given top priority.

The world will be a much better place to live, if all developing countries particularly the large one, encourage at least 0.2% of the population and 2% of their GDPs  for research and development.

This is one way of changing the world order.


Copenhagen Meeting on Climate Change

15/12/2009

By 2025, India will be the largest country in the world ahead of China. Every fifth person in the world will be an Indian. More than 4 out of 5 persons in the world will be from the present developing countries. This should be kept in mind in the negotiations between the developed and developing countries.

While the developed countries should be requested to transfer technologies to reduce carbon and other harmful emissions into the atmosphere by the developing countries, the developing countries should not make their commitments to reduce emissions on the developed countries making financial and technological contributions. There is no doubt that the lifestyle of people in developed countries contribute to large scale emissions. But sadly developing countries, imitate the life style in developed countries. India for example could do with much less than the present number of vehicles, two wheelers as well as four wheelers. India could introduce two wheeler taxis as in Vietnam and Thailand which would save huge quantity of petroleum products. India should find ways for avoiding feeding of the chicken and cows with grains as in developed countries

India however, is contributing to the cleaner atmosphere, by not consuming as much meat as in developed and other developing countries. It is estimated that if people give up non-vegetarian food, the arable land required in the world would be just one third of the present area. Of course, it is not suggested that non-vegetarians should become vegetarians. Instead, people should invent technologies to increase the yield of food grains.

There is a lot of talk on planting trees. There should also be emphasis on deepening existing lakes and digging new lakes- water reservoirs-to conserve water. Trees need water to grow.


India should become a member of IDB

06/12/2009

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) assists several projects in all its 26 member countries of Latin America and the Caribbean – from Mexico down to Argentina. It has 22 non-borrowing members who provide capital. These members include  Israel, China and South Korea. India is not a member. If India becomes a non-borrowing member by subscribing to the capital of the bank, it can become eligible to bid for supplies of goods and services for IDB financed projects.

India is a member of the African Development Bank. In the same way it should try to become a member of the ADB. This would help Indian exporters to export their products and services to projects assisted by IDB in Latin America and Caribean region.


Should the farmers also not have higher income?

23/10/2009

In the last three years, wages of unskilled workers have gone up by almost three times. In rural areas, women workers in the agricultural sector  are paid Rs.100 per day against Rs.30 in 2006. Men workers get around Rs.150- Rs.200 a day against Rs.60 per day 3 years ago. Workers in the construction sites get about Rs.300 per day in towns. In the last 3 years, Central and state Government employees and as well as employees of public sector undertakings received substantial hikes (more than 100%) in their salaries by way of new pay scales, higher dearness allowances, higher house rent allowances etc. In many of the towns and villages, self employed people have hiked charges for their services by 100% or more. For example hair cutting charges have gone up from Rs.10 to Rs.20. Tailoring charges for a shirt has gone up from Rs.25 to more than Rs.60. Private doctors’ consultation charges have increased from Rs.20 to Rs.40. The shopkeepers have increased their profit margins.

Thus the people across several sectors of the economy have 100- 200% more money than they had 3 -4 years ago. Then why cannot they pay 50% more for their rice, wheat, pulses, sugar and vegetables?  30 years ago garlic sold at Rs.30 per kilo. In 2008 also garlic sold at Rs.30. Only recently it has gone up to Rs.60. In the last 3 years the increase in the prices of rice, wheat, sugar, vegetables etc. put together is less than 100%. When every other sector has got higher income, should not the farmers also get higher income by way of higher prices for their produce?

If one includes the supply of wheat, rice, pulses, sugar etc. in the public distribution system, the expenditure on food items of a family of low income (Rs.4,000- 2 workers in family earning Rs.200 per day for 20 days a month) is not even Rs.1,000 i.e. 25% of the income. Even in a very poor family, the expenditure on pilgrimages, sight-seeing, visiting friends and relatives, customary but avoidable ceremonies, beedies/cigarettes, alcohol, cell phone charges, transport charges – even the poor people ride motorbikes instead of cycles, cable connection for televisions, and such other items is much more than expenditure on food items.

Should the government worry about this “small increase” in the prices of agricultural produce when people have got “big increase” in their income? When the prices of vegetables like tomato crash to such a low level that the farmers do not harvest, the government does not worry about the losses to the farmers. When garlic price goes up by 50%, the government wants to bring down the price by allowing imports. When onion price goes up, exports are banned or curtailed and imports are allowed. Of course, government has also come to the support of farmers by waiving loans but this has left out many farmers. Instead of waiving loans or giving subsidies and grants, the government can allow the markets to decide the prices of all agricultural produce. If prices go up beyond the reach of the common people, government may buy from farmers at market rates and sell in public distribution system at subsidized rates.

Allowing prices of agricultural produce to go up, is the way to increase production. For a population of 1,300 million people, China produces 400-500 million MT of food grains i.e. an average of about 350 kg per head, per year while India produces only about 225 million MT for 115 million people i.e. only abut 200 kg per head per year! Excluding India, the world for a population of about 5,600 million, produces 1800-2000 million MT i.e. more than 320 kg per head!


What goes around, comes around

26/12/2008

During the past few years till 2007, the economy of almost every country has witnessed significant growth. According to data from the International Monetary Fund, global GDP grew from around US$51 trillion in 2004 to around US$65 trillion in 2007 – more than 25% in 3 years. The GDP growth rate in 2007 was 5%, which is considered to be a good rate. The economies of developed countries, such as tthe US, Japan and those  of the European Union, grew by 2- 3% in 2007. This is solid given the large base of these countries. In the case of developing countries, such as India and China, growth rates of 7-10% are considered solid given their low base. These  countries have registered such growth rates over the past 4-5 years.

GDP growth rates peaked in most countries during 2007 and since then there has been slower growth. It is important to note that most countries are witnessing a decline in growth rate, not negative growth. The decline is expected to last for the next 2-3 years before the trend is reversed. The Indian economy registered a growth rate of over 9% in 2007 and despite news of an economic crisis,  the economy is expected to grow at around 7% in 2008. The US economy grew 2.2% in 2007 is expected to decelerate to less than 2% in 2008. In 2009, even if the growth rate is less than that in 2008, it should not be cause for alarm. For a large , developed economy, even a 1% growth rate is positive considering population growth is less than 1%. So in this perspective, the current economic situation is less of a crisis and more a slowdown. The sensational news stories of  economic meltdown are exactly that, sensational. The actual concern should be on the future and how growth rates develop over the next few years.

The stock market situation is somewhat similar in its lack of fundamental change. Take for example the Bombay Stock Exchange in India; its Sensex benchmark rose from around 10,000 in early 2006 to over 20,000 in early 2008, doubling in 2 years. Naturally, such an increase motivates initial investors to take profit by selling their shares. The Sensex is again around the 10,000 level. I expect investors, both new and old, to start entering the market at this level. We have to remember that since 1978-79 when the Sensex  was at 100, the index has reached to 10,000 in 2008, a 100-fold increase in 30 years. The price of gold has increased only by 20 times in the same period.

I believe that both the global economy and stock markets will face pressure in the short term, with industry being hit. However, with prudent intervention, I believe long term trends are positive.