Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lokpal Bill and India in ditch

Seems like Opposition Parties in India have taken a leaf from Senate Minority Leader McConnell - scorched earth policy when it comes to pulling down ruling party politically. Dr. Singh once again lost the plot and failed to pass even a diluted Lokpal bill. Anna Hazare is not on board for the government's version and even Anna misses what is really needed here - forcing judicial systems to function as intended at all levels. In absence of that, everything is substandard. Failure and incompetence of the government in passing these modest reforms are simply going to feed the overall gloom in Indian Economy.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Land without Justic

"...the murder case of LN Mishra, former chief minister of Bihar and right-hand man of Indira Gandhi, is dragging on 37 years...

The corruption case against Sukh Ram, former telecom minister, has gone on for 16 years.

 In the category “enforcement of contract” , India ranks 182out of 183 countries! It is the second worst in the world.

An outrageous 1,500 persons died in police custody last year, and only the na├»ve will believe that these were mostly natural deaths. 

To put it bluntly, India is a land without justice. So, Hazare’s belief that a powerful Lokpal with investigative powers will stem corruption is dead wrong. Unless we have root-and-branch judicial reform to speed up processes and verdicts, the new Lokpal will simply increase the already formidable backlog of incomplete cases in the courts. Unless there is justice for all cases, we will not get justice in corruption cases."


Aiyar has been arguing for long why Hazare's anti-corruption drive is essentially just a run around the core problem - no working judiciary. One can understand that Indian Politicians would not take any interest in changing all this since they are full party to this state of affairs. Career politicians benefit enormously - personally & politically - in keeping this totally dysfunctional system as is. These same politicians would once in while do some political white wash by sacking few ministers here and there, but basically there are no fundamental changes there.

Really sad part is people who otherwise can change India - Anna Hazare and his followers in millions - also in a sense miss the whole point. Same goes with those few politicians who want to make some real change - Dr. Singh or Rahul Gadhi and others. All of them miss the core issue of total absence of functioning courts in India at all levels. As Aiya puts it so well, unless it is addressed; Team Hazare in unlikely to move the battle against corruption decisively.

Sometime back Aiyar listed 3 sectors which drive maximum corruption in India - land & real estate, mining and finally defense contracts. This rings a bell when one reads:

"In today's China, the abilities to buy and sell real estate and to win government contracts are among the greatest drivers of wealth, and it's those who are already wealthy and well-connected who have access to these opportunities."


This means both these economies - China and India - are still hobbled by transparency and lack of basic contract enforcement of through local judicial system. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Media Notes

Here is the last word in Global Bond Market - Bill Gross of PIMCO and our young blogger Matt does not hesitate to take on him! Now, that is some courage. What do I think of it? Matt still does not have the currency of credibility when he talks about all electronic no cash money; but for sure he is doing what a true blogger needs to do - open minds of readers.

And then here you have a true Economist single handedly carrying the burden of pointing out what is truly scary with this country and what is terribly wrong with America.

Both led the road in truth telling nevertheless; regardless of how 'out of fashion' things are what they say about.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DPRK

As I am dumb down with senseless things going on in the world and cannot make much sense of what is happening, here is one thing I found very interesting - a Japanese magician invited for Kim's funeral! Very funny.

I do not read much into this news since there is indeed nothing much to read. Eventually what all it implies is that the new young ruler will continue father's policies for a while, he may attempt to be more strident from time to time to silence his military as he is inherently likely to be disposed towards Liberalization; just because of his age.

West should basically 'pamper' him and should not punish his regime for the decisions he would have inherited. On the other hand if every decision of his which loosens his father's grip is awarded lavishly; a strong constituency for the change will be created in North Korea.

My bets - West (USA, S. Korea, Japan and their aligned powers like Australia, Europe, etc.) would take this bet and as it starts succeeding, China may throw a wrench just to keep the status-qua. But, we will see; things are still in infancy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Great Warrior Finally Puts Down the Sword

I am not aware of any great and very public atheist than Christopher Hitchens. The guy used to go where very few mortals / thinkers would dare to go. What a great life!

Rest in peace Christopher Hitchens.

Update - Of reactions and obituaries I am going through, I found Joe Klein's reaction most apt:

" but more, I worry that Hitch is taking with him a world, a world of contemplative reading and writing - the very opposite of what I am doing right now, posting an immediate reaction to his death on this blog....We need more such, and left with less."


But may be Joe need not worry so much. This very blogging, tweeting, Facebooking have come off age - we just have to see what revolutionary changes all these have done in Arab world and at times helped even a vast country like Russia to coalesce together to attack what ails in that society. Changing - for sure we are; but equally potent opportunities are present for Thinking & Thoughts to make our life better. We just have to be as courageous and honest as like Hitch. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

NAFTA is the way?

Reading these commentaries, it is clear that what Niall Fergusson and his friends on Wall Street Journal and other Blue House Clubs along two sides of Atlantic wished is coming true - UK is on way to get booted out of EU.

For once one has to agree with French President Sarkozy - you cannot keep on opting out of a deal and still continue to insist on having a say on that deal. Besides UK never had a strong case for objecting Continental nations  about how Euro business to be conducted when it continues to keep it's own Pound. 

UK's decision of staying out of Euro and sticking with Pound has been a great call. It just has to continue to build upon that. Going forward, Frankfurt will be the city of Finance as far as Europe goes. City of London for sure will suffer from that loss as well as UK economy from potentially market loss to Continental Europe if the divorce of UK-EU is complete. Such a separation may be inevitable as Germany tries to reuse EU institutions (wisely, instead of adding new institutions to already crowded place) making UK's involvement more and more problematic in any of these EU institutions. 

As Asian, Arabian & Turkey Market develop dramatically and trains start reaching to Berlin from Beijing; Germany will continue to pull Continental Europe more and more towards Middle Earth - China and land locked countries of Asia. That makes sense for Germany, for Europe and globally too. Given that, bridging over Atlantic to join brethren of Canada, USA and Mexico may not be 'bridge too far'. What is not to like there? Most speak English and each one of these countries continue to print their own currency. If Obama overtures across Pacific for a FTP with Asian (san China) countries succeed; even more access to Market.

These Europeans (especially UK) have been living for centuries practically for one single thing - access to Market. If your Left Side (Continental Europe) is squeezing you, move to Right (towards North America); that should be the operating model when UK faces the world. Why bother  endless rounds of negotiations and labyrinth of hulking Continental Europe, especially when it is not clear how all these deals would solve the European Crisis? May be joining NAFTA is the way for UK. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Desperation

Reading George Will warning for any coronation in GOP nomination race, 'desperation' is the word which comes to the mind. He knows frailties of both candidates - flip-flops in case of Romney and past baggage in case of Gingrich. Relatively it is much more easy for Obama to defeat any of these two candidates and Will knows that. I say desperation because on this background to hold any hope for Rick Perry, whose candidacy has failed to arouse Americans in any ways, is non-sense and that is where Will is going because of his blindness to see obvious faults of Perry and rest of the candidates.

If it were for Mitch Daniels that Will was rooting, then things would have been different. Even Chris Chistie one can understand if one ignores his baseless bombast like this. But reality is, the current GOP field is hopeless and none of the nominees have any coherent thinking to take America forward. At least it does not appear sitting here in December 2011. So to argue 'hold on for Romney or Gingrich' but not to have any consequential candidate in the wing is nothing short of desperation.

Well, with Will's idealogical blindness; I am happy to see him in this state. Granted I risk possibly Will having the 'last laugh' on the night of November 6, 2012. But we will see how things develop, today at least Will seems more in a hole.