Mitras Analysis of News : 6-05-2017

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1.Rise of Populism and right wing (The Hindu, Guardian)- Special post

2.A case for a high-speed Rail network (The Hindu)

3.NTCA VS. FRA, perspective of tribal (The Hindu)

 

1.Rise of Populism and right wing (The Hindu, Guardian)- Special post 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the rising phenomena of right wing ideology and support towards anti-establishment. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • There is rise of right-wing politics in several countries of the world. Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US demonstrate the popularity of right-wing politics in various parts of the world. Also, right-wing politics is gaining traction in countries like France and Germany.
  • Backed by populism, right-wing politics is becoming more and more popular and widespread in several countries.

A mystery of right-wing rise

  • Brexit,  Trump’s victory and French presidential results make clear enough that how populist and right wing is winning without any real idea or solution, but simply by suggesting a drastic change.
  • it is true that racism, sexism and xenophobia (nationalism and prejudice) have played a role, but they do not explain why such politicians are actually winning now. That is so because the base maximum 20% in any country that votes on a consistently racist, sexist or xenophobic platform is not sufficient to carry an election.
  • In order to win, such politicians have to buttress their captive constituencies with at least another 10% votes. These 10% extra voters are not driven by racism, sexism or xenophobia; they are driven by the failure of mainstream politicians to address their problems.

Some recognisable explanations

  • All of them makes exactly the same noises i.e. noises against the status quo and promises of significant change. So desperate are many people for drastic change that they buy these noises.
  • Faced with such sweeping distrust and dissatisfaction, centrists, liberals and leftists seem to have no answer but to chant the mantra of “racism, sexism, xenophobia”. It is a mantra that is based on a ground reality there is a base of voters with such prejudices but it does not explain the main phenomenon, which is the political distrust of voters who are not primarily motivated by such prejudices.
  • The rise and popularity of right-wing politics can be categorized into economic and non-economic factors. Immigration and the movement of refugees into Europe played a role. While xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia and other kinds of discrimination play roles in the rise and popularity of right-wing politics in various countries, there are economic factors at play as well.
  • Many Western countries have followed a policy of neoliberalism for the last few decades. A combination of privatization, deregulation including financial deregulation, free trade and globalization characterize neoliberalism. Globalization and outsourcing have allowed countries like China to rapidly develop while developed countries have benefited from cheaper goods and services produced in low-wage countries. At the same time, technological improvement has allowed to automate manufacturing processes, lowering manufacturing costs by using fewer number of workers. Automation has benefited companies as fewer number of workers mean lower costs and, consequently, higher profits and efficient production processes.
  • However, the benefits of globalization, outsourcing and automation came at a high cost. Companies in developed countries moved their production processes to low-wage countries or outsourced parts of their production processes to low-wage countries. Globalization, outsourcing and automation have led to dissipation of the manufacturing sector in developed countries that employed the working class in these countries. This led to increased unemployment among the working class and a shrinking middle class. While manufacturing flourished in low-wage countries.
  • However, the unemployed did not find alternative employment which forced them to fall into difficult financial circumstances or even poverty. At the same time, the beneficiaries of globalization, outsourcing and automation included the multi-national companies and large corporations. The suffering of the working class and middle-class have led to rise of angst and anger among this segment of the population, which is a majority in many developed countries. They are disillusioned with globalization and free trade, and the way it has wreaked havoc to their livelihood.
  • This led to these people rallying against the establishment in these countries contributing to the rise of anti-establishment popularity among the masses and support of right-wing politics, including far-right politics, in these countries. The disillusionment and resentment with neoliberalism, globalization and insufficient social programs have contributed to Brexit in the UK, Donald Trump being elected in the US and the rise of right-wing parties in France, Germany, etc.
  • Moreover, the failure is not that of voters. The failure is of politicians who have become simply managers and junior-level ones at that of capital! They are not doing their jobs, and when the ordinary voter casts her ballot for someone like Mr. Trump, who is part of the problem rather than the solution, she does so out of desperation more often than out of prejudice.

Way ahead

  • Globalization, outsourcing and automation have taken a toll on the working class and middle-class of developed countries. The governments of these countries can introduce social programs that will help the adversely affected population. Health care is a considerable cost to people, especially the working class and middle-class segments of the population. Sometimes, health care costs can push someone into poverty. The introduction of more affordable health care or universal health care could help the low-income and middle-income people in having access to health care services.
  • while some of the unemployed workers found alternative employment, others have fallen into financial difficulty or poverty. In order to help them have a decent living that will contribute to social stability, guaranteed minimum income may be introduced.
  • The income tax system can be made more progressive so that it taxes high-income earners more to finance social programs targeting the low-income and middle-class sections of the society. This will reduce income inequality while helping the low-income and middle-class.
  • The introduction of subsidies and lower corporate taxes can encourage companies to produce domestically and even reshore, which is bringing back jobs to their home countries.
  • A combination of these economic and public policies accompanied by social policies like increased awareness among the population of the benefits of immigration will definitely reduce the anger and disillusionment among the adversely affected sections of the population in developed countries.

Question:  Rising phenomena of xenophobia and ultra nationalism is not only hurting the immigrant and sending countries but also hurting the host countries in the long run. Critically analyse. 

 

2.A case for a high-speed Rail network (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on issue of high speed rail projects in India and how it is a chance to replicate the success of the auto industry.(GS paper III)

Overview

  • Indian Railways is exploring the possibility of a high speed rail network in India. The Railway Minister’s vision is to make rolling stock the driver for India’s shift from being a technology importer and manufacturer to becoming a developer and designer for future rolling-stock technology.
  • India does not have indigenous high-speed or super-speed railway technology. The high speed rail (HSR) project creates a unique opportunity in India to replicate the success of Maruti, in the rail sector. Japan, which has decades of expertise in developing and running high speed rail networks, will be key to the Indian government’s plan.

What is HSR project?

  • India’s Prime Minister approved the choice of Japan to build India’s first high-speed railway. The Mumbai–Ahmedabad high speed rail (HSR) corridor is a proposed high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Mumbai, Maharashtra and Ahmedabad, Gujarat in Western India.
  • It will be India’s first high-speed rail line. Construction of the corridor will begin by the end of 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2023.
  • Transfer of Technology (ToT) and Make in India are important pillars of the Indo-Japanese agreement on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train (HSR) project.
  • Japan is providing financial assistance for the project in the form of a loan of up to 81% of the cost at a nominal interest rate of 0.1% per annum. This loan has to be repaid in 50 years with a 15-year moratorium.

High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited (HSRC)

  • The High Speed Rail Corporation of India Limited (HSRC) has been formed on the directions of Ministry of Railways, Government of India, for development and implementation of high speed rail projects.
  • This Special Purpose Vehicle has been incorporated in 2012 as a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited which is a Mini-Ratna public sector enterprise of Government of India.

Objectives

  • To undertake feasibility studies and techno-economic investigations and prepare Detailed Project Reports and Bankability Reports of selected corridors for introduction of High Speed trains in India.
  • To plan, design and freeze technical parameters for High Speed Rail Systems including fixed assets, rolling stock and operations.
  • To develop financing models, explore PPP options, coordinate with stake holders and funding agencies and obtain various Government approvals.
  • Project development, project execution, construction, upgradation, manufacture, operation and maintenance of High Speed Rail Systems on existing as well as new rail corridors.
  • To enter into and carry on all businesses related to High Speed Rail Systems and other rail based traffic as may be approved by Government of India or RVNL or any other Authority created by the Government for such activities.

Vision 2020

· The Indian Railways’ VISION 2020 envisages the following on High Speed Corridors:  “India is unique and alone among the major countries of the world in not having a single high-speed rail corridor capable of running trains at speeds of over 250kmph.”

· High Speed corridors have played a major role in revitalization of Railways in Japan and Europe. Of late, high speed-rail networks are also getting built in China, Taiwan, and USA.

Indian Railways would follow a two-pronged approach in this respect-

1.  The first approach would be to raise the speed of segregated passenger corridors on trunk routes using conventional technology to 160 to 200kmph.

2. The second approach would be to identify a number of intercity routes, depending on viability, and build state of the art high speed corridors for speeds up to 350kmph through on PPP mode in partnerships with the State Governments.

· Partnerships with the State Governments would be crucial as real-estate development would be a key element of viability of these high-cost projects. By 2020, at least four corridors of 2000kms would be developed and planning for 8 other corridors would be in different stages of progress.

Learning from examples – It is worthwhile to see how other countries have handled similar situations

  • China by opening its market to foreign players has successfully expanded its HSR network, which created large-scale joint ventures with local Chinese enterprise. The Chinese government encouraged the absorption of technology through state-sponsored companies. It merged local rolling stock and rail equipment businesses to make them more competitive.
  • The aircraft industry in Brazil and the automotive industry in South Africa grew with substantial government support. In both cases apart from tax incentives, the government facilitated building physical capacity, human resources and technological capabilities by establishing collaborations with foreign partners. Growth was also supported by the close interaction of industry and government research or academic institutions.
  • The pharmaceutical sector in India grew as the government encouraged private drug companies to undertake collaborative research through government-owned institutions.
  • Many successful joint ventures (JVs) were also formed in the Indian automobile sector. These JVs, with international collaboration, became a preferred route for technology acquisition.

“For the facilitation of business-to-business interaction between Japanese and Indian industry, joint ventures in manufacturing sector require substantial support from both government and industry associations. The capabilities of Indian industry will have to be assessed in terms of their willingness to partner Japanese counterparts and upgrading their processes to suit Japanese manufacturing companies.”

Way ahead

  • The HSR can provide a unique opportunity in India to replicate the success of Maruti, in the rail sector.
  • The high-speed project will be a technological jump for India, there is need to expand the capabilities of Indian industry and human resources. Technology absorption will also require large-scale skill upgradation. High-speed training centre will be very much helpful for skill generation. There is a need to undertake an engineering development programme in Indian technical institutes. HSR will not be possible without skilled engineers.

Question: High speed railways can be a boon for the development of Make in India. However, it is not devoid of various structural bottlenecks. How government should respond to these bottlenecks?

 

3.NTCA VS. FRA, perspective of tribal (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the emerging conflict between right of tiger reserves and the scope of FRA with respect to safeguard of tribal interests. (GS paper II)

Overview

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) recently ordered that there would be no tribal rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) in critical tiger habitats.
  • This is indicative of flawed conservation practices that India has stuck to since colonial times. It has added to actions that are thrashing environmental protection and hard-won rights under the FRA.

The fate of Chenchu tribal

  • Following a recent order from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Chenchus will no longer be able to claim Nallamala in Eastern Ghats as their home. (Nallamala forest which also happens to host India’s largest tiger reserve, the 3,728-sq.-km Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve NSTR)
  • Chenchus enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the Nallamala was recognised early by the British, who gave them rights not just to stay inside the forest but also do subsistence farming and grazing. Chenchus take pride in describing themselves as children of the Nallamala forest. Besides hunting with bows and arrows, they live off forest produce and also sell it to the Girijan Co-operative Corporation, set up in 1956 to support economic empowerment of tribals.
  • It also means living in a red zone of man-animal conflict with an inviolate space for the tiger and virtually no place for Chenchus who ironically are counted among the oldest aboriginals of south India and have lived in the Nallamala hill range for hundreds of years.
  • The order has come at a time when the Chenchus thought the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 — commonly called the Forest Rights Act or FRA — had come as a huge relief providing them the forest land rights they deserved and waited for so long.

Earlier dislocations

  • Between 1990 and 2006 the Chenchus were caught in the crossfire between Maoists and Greyhounds, the elite anti-Naxal force of the Andhra Pradesh police. With the Maoists shifting base to Chhattisgarh and the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border, and just when the Chenchus heaved a sigh of relief, the recent NTCA order puts them into yet another uncertain phase.

Cohabitation or relocation?

  • How much space within the forest should be left for tigers and the indigenous tribes like Chenchus? There is no reconciliation yet with Forest Department and wildlife conservationists sticking to the argument that tigers require an exclusive protection zone while the supporters of tribal rights favour them staying within the tiger habitat.
  • In any case, Survival International, a global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, reported in December 2015 that tiger numbers have increased rapidly in the first tiger reserve in India where local tribes (the Soligas in this case) have won the right to stay inside, the Biligiriranganatha Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or BRT Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka.
  • The tiger population doubled between 2010 and 2014 from 35 to 68. This increase is far higher than the national rate at which the tiger population is growing.

Way ahead

  • The rehabilitation policy envisages concrete one-room tenements replacing the traditional conical bamboo and thatch huts. Internal roads, drinking water supply, education and health-care facilities have been provided in at least some of these colonies but no new or alternative sources of livelihood have been concretely proposed.
  • On top of this is a health emergency that stares these tribal in the face, with a plethora of diseases ranging from anaemia to tuberculosis and high infant and maternal mortality rates and malnutrition. Hence, there is a need to strike a fine balance between the Tiger conservation and the rights of the tribal.

Question: There is a question of conserving wildlife on one hand and upholding cultural sanctity of adivasis on other hand. How this dilemma should be resolved?

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