All posts by Mira Sethi

Mira Sethi is a young economist having deep interest in policy making,Indian economy and International trade. She is Post graduate in economics from Delhi School of Economics.

How Demonetization will benefit Indian Economy in the Long Run

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Demonetization was introduced with the objective of curbing black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency.

Demonetization was introduced with the objective of curbing black money, terror financing and counterfeit currency. No one knows the exact measure of our black economy but as per certain estimates the black economy is large as 3 times our GDP imposing an immense drain on our resources. All over the world the countries that have experimented with demonetization of high denomination currency have met with varying degrees of success. But in none of the countries a measure of this magnitude had been introduced as was the case with India where almost 85% of currency was rendered illegal with a single stroke. This move came at a time when the government had initiated several measures in the preceding months to curb black money including the Black Money Bill, Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, Income disclosure scheme etc.

Although the move might impact the economy negatively in the very short run owing to liquidity crunch and excessive dependence on cash transactions in real estate, jewellery, retail, logistics, consumer durables, cement and some segments in MSMEs which may get deferred, but in the long run the benefits are going to far exceed the costs.

Firstly, there are significant costs to cash economy and cashless economy would help to eliminate those costs. Hard currency transactions involve the cost of time and shoe-leather cost involved in approaching the bank or ATM to withdraw cash. Also there are significant costs of printing currency, logistics involved in maintaining currency chests that can be avoided with greater use of digital transactions. Moreover cash transactions are anonymous while digital transactions ensure greater accountability and transparency.

Secondly, this move will severely dent terror financing which thrives on counterfeit currency and high denomination notes. Greater transparency in transactions will deter smuggling of arms.

Thirdly, it will boost tax revenues of the government as the black and unaccounted income gets converted to white. It is a shocking fact that in a country with 1.2 billion population, only 24 lakh persons declared their annual income to be above Rs. 10 lakhs. There is serious under-reporting of income to evade taxes causing significant loss to the exchequer.

Fourthly, going cashless will improve financial inclusion in remote areas where bank branches are far and unviable. The move has shifted behaviour of the people to move towards cashless transactions.

Demonetization is also expected to reducing liability of the RBI. It is expected approximately Rs. 5 Lakh Crore may come to the government in the form of extinguished RBI Liability, Taxes and Penalties, an amount that is enough to meet entire Fiscal Deficit for a year. Recent figures released suggest that only Rs. 1 to 2 lakh crore may actually come to the government from the money not drawn back into the system. However the final estimates would only be known after penalties on unaccounted income are realized by the Income tax department.

More importantly, in the long run, policy rates are expected to come down as bank deposits increase and NPAs decline which would further boost overall investment in the economy. Also higher tax revenues arising from better compliance would offer scope to reduce rates over the long term which will boost consumption demand.

Although there are immense opportunities for economy to grow in the long-run from demonetization, few threats remain in the short-run. The liquidity crunch caused by demonetization will negatively impact sectors with high level cash transactions. Also there will be added costs of replacement of currency. Moreover it will be a big challenge to turn the society cashless where more than 50% population is not well versed with card transactions and mobile wallets and do not possess smart phones or internet.

The Government is however making all efforts to ease the liquidity crunch and encouraging cashless transactions. The central government started the “Lucky Grahak Yojana” and “Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana” to incentivize digital transactions so that the e-payments are adopted by the poor as well. The government also launched the digital payments BHIM app (Bharat Interface for Money)- after Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, to support Aadhar-based transactions using fingerprint. To make the demonetization move a success, efforts on the digital India campaign also need to be intensified.

Overall demonetization is a progressive step shaped by the right idea, intention and initiative and like any other shock will have negative impact in the short run but will be instrumental in a positive transformation of the economy in the long run.

Could the BRICS New Development Bank usher a New Bipolar Financial World Order?

Brics-bank

With the emergence of the New Development Bank, formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank, and the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), the world is increasingly becoming Bipolar, with China and India together growing as the ‘Eastern power Bloc’ challenging dominance of the Western powers led by the United States. The Bank was created with an idea to counter the dominance of European countries and the U.S. in global financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF.

Infrastructure is needed in much of still emerging Asia, and by providing the funding to construct it, China and India make stride towards achieving economic and political status at par with the United States. BRICS countries have also created a $100 billion Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), meant to provide additional liquidity protection to member countries during balance of payments problems. The CRA, unlike the pool of contributed capital to the BRICS bank, which is equally shared, is being funded 41% by China, 18% from Brazil, India, and Russia, and 5% from South Africa.

China and India are among the fastest growing Economies in the world. The economies of the five BRICS nations account for almost 30% of global GDP and 40% of the world’s population. BRICS countries produce a third of the world’s industrial products and half of all agricultural goods. Trade between BRICS countries has increased by 70% since the group was established in 2009. Noone can deny the ubiquitous presence of both India and China in the world stage.

Besides, China has recently proposed the IMF to add its currency Renminbi as a reserve currency as part of the Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).This move has the potential to shift the global economy toward a bipolar order with two dominant reserve currencies-the U.S. Dollar and the Chinese Renminbi.

In the past IMF has been accused of practicing ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and imposing liberalization indiscriminately even on those countries where financial institutions were not well-developed. IMF conditionalities allegedly ruined several developing economies. The World Bank along with the WTO has advocated protectionism against industries of the developing countries while protecting interests of the developed countries, such as the recent Agreement on Agriculture, which stipulates reduction of export subsidies on agricultural produce on which livelihoods of the poor in the developing countries depend.

Emergence of this new ‘Eastern power Bloc’ will motivate the IMF and the World Bank to function more normatively, democratically, and efficiently, in order to promote the reforms of international financial system as well as it will lead to democratization of international relations.

China is also undertaking ambitious project to build Maritime Silk Route connecting all major ports across South, South-East and Central Asia through land and sea to boost its trade and gain strategic importance. The initiative will push each economy to advance toward the goal of setting up deep integration of markets, multi-level communication, efficient network of land, sea and air passages, and closer cultural exchanges.

Recently India has also been accorded full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with Pakistan at its Ufa summit held in Russia. SCO membership to India will have significant benefits from Economic point of view. It will open up trade, energy sector and strategic transit routes between India and Russia, Central Asia, China. As Iran has observer status in the SCO, it will serve as a platform for India to boost trade through the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar. These ports are considered as India’s gateway to Central Asia through International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Thus, in this politically polarized world, SCO will play an important role in counter-balancing India’s perceived tilt on security issues towards U.S. and its allies. It can help to maintain full balance of India’s relations with the western powers.

Regional stability is the basis of the economic collaboration and economic development boosts regional stability. Therefore, both the BRICS and the SCO will jointly and effectively promote stability and prosperity in Asia and counter the hegemony of global institutions such as World Bank and IMF.

Unlocking the Greece Crisis: Is the world tilting towards socialism the wrong way?

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Greek Debt Crises

The Greek crises is interesting, not just because it points to how bad government policies can bring a state on the brink of its own failure but also because it points to a much a deeper crisis within capitalism. Capitalism as a system has its inherent weakness in generation of excess capacity from overproduction of goods and services arising from the two of its own major tenets viz. competition and maximization of self-interest. When market forces fail to match demand with supply, it leads to unemployment and depression. This was the main reason for Great Depression in the free-market US Economy of the 1930s. In the 1930s Keynes gave a new lease of life to Capitalism with the ‘General Theory of Employment ,Output and Money’ wherein Government’s intervention through fiscal policies was advocated to raise aggregate demand and pull an economy out of depression. Hence State assumed a greater importance only after the world realized market forces are only invisible, and they need to be regulated and directed with State’s intervention.  But, isn’t this exactly what the Greeks did? Perhaps they over-did it.

In the years preceeding the US Financial Crises of 2007, the Greek Government had doled out huge pension plans and socialist schemes, the cost of which they could never meet. For years they had been fudging their fiscal accounts and understating their debt inorder to be able to borrow more and more money to finance their excessively costly socialist schemes. With years and years of mounting Debt, Greece ultimately had to be bailed out by the IMF and ECB in 2013 with a package of almost 200 bn$, further adding to their debt. The IMF in return had imposed its usual conditionalities on the borrowing state in the form of fiscal austerity measures. In the years that followed, Greece was pushed to a deeper recession with spending cuts and steep hike in taxes which lowered aggregate demand of the economy and led to deeper unemployment and humanitarian crises in the country.

In the normal course of action, an economy would seek to recover by devaluing its’ currency or lowering its’ interest rates to boost investment. But unfortunately, Greece being part of a Currency Union EU does not have that leverage of pursuing an independent Monetary Policy.  If Greece defaults on its sovereign debt and chooses to exit the EU i.e. a ‘Grexit’ then it may trigger a whiplash effect throughout EU as most of the major banks spread across Germany, Italy, Iceland, Spain, Portugal that are holding Greece debt may go bankrupt, leading to a recession of a wider magnitude. This may eventually threaten the very existence of EU.

Greece is totally stuck, and there seems to be no way it can get out. A ‘Grexit’ will only make things worse. It clearly will never be able to repay all that mountain of debt. It should rather focus on restructuring its fiscal policies and building stronger and transparent institutions to prevent recurrence of such a calamity in the future.

 

Modi Deepens Ties with Sri Lanka, Seeks Edge over China on a Landmark Visit

PM Modi during bilateral talks with the Sri Lankan counterparts
PM Modi during bilateral talks with the Sri Lankan counterparts

As part of PM Narendra Modi’s first tour to Sri Lanka, India and Sri Lanka today signed four bilateral pacts which includes agreement on visa and customs to simplify trade and reduce non-tarriff barriers, agreement on youth development and building Rabindranath Tagore. Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka is the first stand alone bilateral tour by an Indian Prime Minister since 1987.  Modi met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and discussed issues of regional importance. Modi called for greater security cooperation with Sri Lanka whose drift towards China has raised concerns in India.

Modi said that it will take time to reach an amicable solution to the fishermen’s issue between India and Sri Lanka as it has both livelihood and humanitarian dimensions to it. The Prime Minister said his meeting with Sirisena has been very productive. It “gives me confidence and optimism about the future of our relations,” Modi said.

The progress indicates the countries’ shared commitment to stronger economic cooperation.

Modi said India stands ready to help Trincomalee become a petroleum hub and announced that India will provide a fresh Line of Credit of up to USD 318 million for the railways sector in Lanka to procure rolling stock, and to restore and upgrade existing railway track.

In addition, the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter into a Currency Swap Agreement of USD 1.5 billion to help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.

“We stand with you in your efforts to build a future that accommodates the aspirations of all sections of society, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka”, said Modi.

Economic Survey endorses Modi’s Vision of “Achhe Din”, forecasts GDP growth at 8%

India will grow at 8% GDP
Achhe Din here?

The Economic Survey for 2014-15 forecasts around 8.5% growth in FY16 for India, which would make it one of the fastest growing economies, surpassing China. The survey emphasizes more on the small effective policies which can have impact in the long–run as opposed to any “Big-Bang” reforms. The government should shift its spending from public consumption to public investment which can trigger private investment. The survey lays down roadmap to kickstart stalled projects worth Rs. 8.8 Lakh crores including converting Land Ordinance into the Bill to boost investor’s confidence and lowering Debt-overhang plaguing the private sector.

The survey forecasts inflation of 5-5.5% and Current Account Deficit to be at 1%, suggesting headroom for the RBI to ease the monetary policy in the short-run in the light of declining global oil prices. However the government needs to be cautious in its spending as the Survey advises fiscal consolidation and targeting Fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP by 2017-18.The Government needs to control expenditure and eliminate subsidy leakages. To eliminate subsidy leakages and ensure efficient delivery of public resources to the needy, the government will use the Jan-Dhan Yojana, Aadhar and Mobile Banking for Cash-Based transfer.

To boost the “Make-In-India” programme of the government, the survey advocates special subsidies to SEZs, lowering corporate taxes and removing the negative protectionism surrounding the industry. To boost agricultural sector, the survey suggests investing in technology and irrigation systems along with liberalizing agricultural markets and opening them to the private sector. Foreign investment (FDI) in Retail infrastructure like warehousing and cold storage can fill infrastructure deficit which results in supply chain inefficiencies. Eliminating middlemen will also help lower prices for consumers and raising prices for farmers.  The government should aim to establish a unified agricultural market to deal with price fluctuations and demand-supply imbalances.

Meanwhile, the government will have to tackle some of the challenges including low employment growth, enacting the GST legislation and passing the Land Amendment Bill in the near future to put the growth on track.

How Syria crisis will impact India and the World

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Syria war

Russia called on Syria to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to international authorities as prelude to the arsenal’s destruction. The Syrian foreign minister immediately “welcomed” the demand. The turn in Russian pomposity was variously depicted as a “stalling tactic” to put off US military strikes and maybe a shift in the world order.

Russia has its own interest in protecting Syria as Russia has a naval installation in Syria, which is strategically important and Russia’s last foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union. Also Russia is a major exporter of military products to Syria.

The twist in the Syria debate originated with apparently offhand remarks by US secretary of state John Kerry. In a London news conference, Kerry said Assad could avoid strikes by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.

Meanwhile the developing economies such as India, which are already facing a weakening currency due to Federal Reserve’s withdrawal of dollar liquidity; will face severe impact if the war occurs. Syria itself produces very little oil, but its’ neighboring countries produce a lot. The fear is that these neighboring countries could get dragged into the conflict, and oil production and export may be interrupted. Iran is one of the Syrian government’s main sources of weapons, while Saudi Arabia (along with Qatar) is arming the rebels.

Many analysts see the Syrian conflict as a proxy war between these two countries. If the oil imports become expensive for the developing country, the current account deficit may shoot up as the demand for oil is inelastic. This would mean a higher inflation, and possibly precipitate stagflation in developing economies such as India.

Sen-Bhagwati Debate: The missing link in the two-way effect of growth and development

growth vs developmentThe recent debate on growth-development dynamics between two economists Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati has created much interest in the world of Development Economics.  At the heart of the debate lies the question whether growth is a pre-requisite for development or whether development must precede growth.Growth often refers to sustained increase in per capita income of a country, while development is a structural concept encompassing improvement in the overall standard of living, health, nutrition, education levels of a country.

In Sen’s terminology ‘Capability Development’ refers to enabling people to attain freedoms to achieve goals which they have a reason to value.Sen firmly believes that state-led human development welfare measures must be given precedence over pro-market growth reforms and that growth will be an inevitable outcome of improved human development indicators such as literacy, life expectancy etc. Eradicating poverty which Sen defines as a ‘Capability Deprivation’ through state-led welfare programmes should be given priority over pro-market growth reforms. This implies once poverty is eradicated and a country has well-educated healthy and productive citizens, growth would follow. On the other hand, Bhagwati is of the view that growth is indispensable to achieve better human development indicators and must precede development. This means growth is necessary, particularly for poorer countries, for attaining resources to spend on welfare programs.

India has somewhat followed Bhagwati’s model since the 1960s when it moved away from policy of import substitution to export promotion. The priority for the government was at that time to build fiscal resources through improved growth and later on spend those resources on welfare programmes. In India several state led reforms have been initiated in recent times, such as MGNERGA, Mid-Day meals Scheme, ICDS, PDS,Right to Education, with an aim to improve the abysmal levels of human development. However very little has been achieved so far. India ranks very poor in global hunger Index and fares worse than many sub-saharan African countries in several other indicators of development. This means that there has been flaw somewhere in India’s growth story. The growth effect has not trickled down to the poor. In other words growth has not translated into development as Bhagwati would have expected. Also state led welfare programs have not yielded any positive results for the growth as Sen would have expected. These welfare programs have added more to the fiscal deficit than contributing to the growth. For example, despite enabling better access to education, unemployment levels are still quite high, particularly among urban youth in India. Hence it would be inept to hold polarized viewpoints in this debate as the reality suggests.

Unlike what Sen believes, growth itself is not to be blamed for the failed results and unlike what Bhagwati believes growth need not always translate to development. There are issues much deeper and intrinsic to the system such as corruption, bureaucratic bottlenecks,market rigidities and  lack of transparency in Governance. These structural factors are specific to an economy and cannot be sidelined in the debate. Hence the conclusions also need to be contextual. One cannot arrive at a policy prescription for all developing countries based on general perception unless one examines the root cause behind failure of delivery mechanisms inherent in the structure of an economy. Unless the root cause is attacked neither growth will lead to development and neither development can bring growth.

Uttarakhand Tragedy: Further rains may hamper relief work

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Uttrakhand tragedy – Forecasted rain can hamper relief work

KEDARNATH/DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand disaster is turning out to be nature’s fury at its worst. Over 1200 are feared dead and thousands still missing in one of the worst tragedies the country has ever seen. Yet, the Centre is still feeling shy of declaring it a national calamity.

It’s a race against time for the nearly 6000 army personnel deployed in rescue operations, as heavy rains are predicted from Monday onwards. Evacuating pilgrims from some of the remote areas is turning out to be a tough task due to the weather and harsh terrain. Meanwhile several stranded victims are on the verge of death having gone without food for a week. At least 25,000 stranded people are still awaiting rescue. Fresh rain could add to the woes of the stranded people, taking down night temperatures even as they battle hunger.

Even with hundreds dead and thousands stuck in tragedy-hit Uttarakhand, there are people who have decided to make a quick buck by exploiting the helpless and stranded. Survivors narrate tales of horror when they were being asked to pay over Rs. 150 for a single roti by the locals, when they had lost everything except their own life. With reports of such apathy by the locals, we clearly need to reflect on our own humanitarian values.

The temple town of Kedarnath lies completely destroyed amidst boulders and rocks with strewn bodies all around the shrine. It is ironic that such a disaster happened at the shrine of Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction. Local priest who witnessed the entire disaster described it as Shiva’s Tandava (Dance of Death) as the raging river Manadkini swallowed everything that came in its’ way. Only the main temple structure and the Shivlinga remained intact with no one around it anymore to worship it.

Images of rescue operations flashing on the news channels show commendable efforts by the paramilitary forces in organizing bridges across some of rivers where bridges were completely swallowed by the raging river.

Meanwhile, politicians squabble as Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted to a “lack of coordination between government agencies engaged in rescue operations”. Shinde, who arrived at the site to review the rescue operations, said “the disaster was not man-made”.  However the government should understand that any more lives lost now due to delayed or inadequate rescue response would be no short of a man-made disaster.

The apparent lack of coordination which delayed the rescue operations raises questions over disaster preparedness of the states. Even though a disaster of such magnitude never occurred in the history of Uttarakhand, there is no reason for the disaster management systems not to be in place.

Moreover, climatologists claim that occurrence of such extreme events has increased exponentially over the last two decades due to global warming.  Melting of glaciers of the Himalayas due to climate change was a known fact and disaster was only waiting to be struck. As probability of climate catastrophe due to global warming is rising, more resources need to be allocated for adaption and mitigation of climate change.

 

 

India records slowest growth in a decade: FY 2012-13 at a glance

indian-economy-slowdown-2013
Despite government efforts to revive the slowing economy after a burst of pro-market reforms at the end of last year, most independent analysts see continuing slack in aggregate demand.

Indian economy grew by only 5.0% in FY 2012-13, its slowest pace in a decade, according to figures revealed by the Ministry of Statistics today. Low investor confidence, slumping investment, high inflation and weak export demand were blamed for the economy’s dismal performance. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at 4.8 percent in the quarter ending March 31st. The manufacturing sector grew an annual 2.6 percent during the quarter while farm output rose just 1.4 percent. The economy in contrast had grown by 6.2 percent in FY 2011-12.The economy has clearly not been able to sustain the booming growth rates of the last decade which hovered around 10 percent.

Global ratings agency Standard and Poor’s warned earlier this month that India faces at least “a one-in-three” chance of losing its prized sovereign grade rating amid new threats to economic growth and reforms.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this week lowered its projection of India’s GDP to 5.3% in 2013, from 5.9% earlier, yet said India might be the third largest economy by now after US and China.

Despite government efforts to revive the slowing economy after a burst of pro-market reforms at the end of last year, most independent analysts see continuing slack in aggregate demand. The UPA government has been surrounded by corruption scandals during its second term in office which has had a detrimental effect on investor sentiments. Few of the reforms which government had initiated last year included opening up of retail and aviation sectors to foreign direct investment (FDI) and partial deregulation of fuel prices to ease the subsidy bill. But it has failed on various fronts such as on passing legislation to open up the insurance and pension sectors or a long-delayed law to simplify land acquisition.

On the other hand, the fiscal deficit figures for FY 2012-13 were impressive at 4.89% of GDP, owing to higher revenues. Lower levels of inflation which the economy is currently facing can be linked to the lower fiscal deficit. India’s wholesale inflation dropped last month to a surprise 41-month low of 4.89%. But the consumer price index is at 9.39%, led mainly by high food and beverage prices.

Government pressure has mounted on the RBI to ease borrowing costs to encourage investment. The RBI had raised interest rates aggressively in 2010 and 2011 to combat double-digit inflation. However, RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao has said the bank has “limited space” to ease monetary policy further due to the risk of inflation flaring up again.The persistent decline in rupee is also a cause of concern. Depreciation leads to imports becoming costlier which is a worry for India as it meets most of its oil demand via imports. The depreciating rupee will add further pressure on the overall domestic inflation and since India is structurally an import intensive country, as reflected in the high and persistent current account deficits month after month, the domestic costs will rise on account of rupee depreciation.

The Sensex and Nifty came under tremendous selling pressure on Friday, while the rupee hit an 11-month low. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao on Thursday said inflation was still high and current account gap remained a concern for the Indian economy.

Mr Subbarao’s comments dented rate cut hopes. Traders, who had been certain the central bank would cut rates by another 0.25 per cent at its June 17 review, hit the panic button on their terminals.The Sensex traded 461 points or 2.3 per cent lower at 19,755, while the Nifty shed 141 points to 5,983 as of 3.10 p.m. The rupee extended losses to 56.73 against the dollar.

 

With depreciating rupee and mounting CA Deficits, the automatic stabilization through rise in inflation due to mounting import bills could lower the interest rates and boost investment. The rise in investment can help revive the economy and sustain higher growth rates in the long run. It however remains to be seen how the government plans to improve the investor confidence and speed up the pending policy reforms to remove investment bottlenecks.

World No Tobacco Day: Say No to Smoking and Yes to Life

Smoking Kills
Smoking Kills

31st May 2013: The world today observes World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).The aim of this day is to spread awareness about the harms of tobacco consumption and encourage abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption. There are approximately 120 million smokers in India, about 37 percent of all men and 5 percent of all women between the ages of 30 and 69.

The theme of this year’s ‘World No Tobacco Day’ is to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The ban on any promotion of tobacco usage can bring down the incidence of diseases associated with tobacco usage significantly.

Tobacco ills

Cigarette smoke contains several Carcinogenic products. There are roughly 45 Carcinogens in cigarette smoke. However, cessation of smoking can repair the damage gradually. The primary risk of tobacco usage includes many forms of cancers like cancer of larynx, head and neck, breast cancer, bladder cancer, oesophagus and pancreas cancer and cervical cancer.

Long term smoking is responsible for pulmonary damage leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) including emphycema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases the chances of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease besides increasing blood cholesterol level leading to atherosclerosis. Smokers are also at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, influenza, periodontitis, gingival recession and white mucosal lesions.

The ills of smoking
The ills of smoking

 

Tobacco is linked to susceptibility of infectious diseases like tuberculosis. Incidence of impotence is 85% higher in male smokers than non-smokers. Smoking is harmful to ovaries causing female infertility and tobacco use is a significant factor for miscarriages among pregnant smokers. Smoking can also cause psychological issues such as mood disorders.  Usage of tobacco can create cognitive dysfunction.

Smoking Stats

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, smoking kills 900,000 people every year in India, and unless corrective action is taken soon that number will increase to over 1 million smoking-related deaths annually by this decade.

The projected increase in smoking-related deaths in India is part of a global trend, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which estimates that smoking-related deaths worldwide will surpass 9 million annually by 2020—with 7 million of those deaths occurring in developing nations. Twenty-five years ago, nearly 70 percent of the lung cancer deaths worldwide occurred in high-income nations. Today, 50 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in low-income nations, and by 2030 that number is expected to increase to 70 percent.

It is truly remarkable that one single factor, namely smoking, which is entirely preventable, accounts for nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India.

According to the study:

  • Smoking may soon account for 20 percent of all male deaths and 5 percent of all female deaths among Indians between the ages of 30 and 69.
  • About 61 percent of men who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared with only 41 percent of non-smoking men who are similar in other ways.
  • About 62 percent of women who smoke can expect to die between the ages of 30 and 69, compared to only 38 percent of non-smoking women.
  • On average, men who smoke bidi—the popular hand-rolled cigarettes that contain about one-quarter as much tobacco as a full-sized cigarette—shorten their lives by about six years. Men who smoke full-sized cigarettes lose about 10 years of life.

Fight against Tobacco

Comprehensive Tobacco control is the single most cost effective, economically viable and practical approach to prevent this tragedy. There are three different types of treatments available — behavioural counselling, nicotine replacement therapy, and medication. The kind of treatment differs from person to person. A few psychological therapies and regular support meetings at city hospitals have also helped several smokers quit smoking.

However, a few city doctors feel that despite the high levels of awareness and anti-smoking campaigns and laws, the battle is far from being won. Even the incidence of lung cancer has not seen any climb down. This should be a wake-up call for smokers to stub that cigarette butt forever.

 

Country gets its first Yoga University in Gujrat

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The university will offer a three-year degree course for those aged between 15 to 35 in ashtang yoga, karma, bhakti yoga, philosophy, psychology, anatomy, ayurveda and naturopathy

The country’s first Yoga University, Lakulish Yoga University was inaugurated by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday . The private university has been set up by the Life Mission Trust of Gujarat near Chharodi in front of Nirma University on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway. The University has been pioneered by Swami Rajarshi Muni who has been spreading the yoga education across the state. It is claimed to be the first ever such private sector self-financed institution in the country. The state government had earlier enacted a law for creation of a Yoga university in the state.

The university has been named after Lakulish who is considered to be the 28th and the last Avatar manifestation of Rudra (Shiva) and the propounder of Yoga system.

Narendra Modi in its’ inaugural speech advocated yoga’s inclusion in the foreign policy and emphasized on the need to spread yoga officially across the world as an Indian tradition. “The whole world is curious about yoga. It would have been better if successive governments of our country had included it as a path to connect India with the entire world,” Modi said. “Yoga was intentionally neglected by Britishers while they were ruling the country as they feared that through yoga India will become powerful in the world.But even after Independence, we didn’t come out of the slave mentality and continue to ignore the importance of yoga. And sometimes by equating yoga with communalism, we inflicted a great damage on us,” he added.

“Today, every human being in the world is confused, unhappy and is seeking inner peace. He does not need materialistic wealth but needs peace and only yoga taught by a professional, an exponent or a complete teacher can facilitate this peace,” he said.
.

“Earlier, people used to question the logic of yoga, saying at a time when advances have been made in the field of science how can anyone talk about yoga. Today, not just this country, but the entire world has accepted the power of yoga,” the chief minister said.

The university will offer a three-year degree course for those aged between 15 to 35 in ashtang yoga, karma, bhakti yoga, philosophy, psychology, anatomy, ayurveda and naturopathy. There will also be short term courses for senior citizens. Swami Rajarshi Muni said the university will not have any language barrier and anybody from across the world can pursue yoga courses at the university.

IPL IN A SPOT FIX – CAN THE “SPOT” ON THE GAME BE FIXED?

ipl6-fixing-scandal-bcci
The voice for banning the IPL is only growing louder with each passing day as the web of the scandal comes to light.

The controversy-ridden Indian Premier League (IPL) has turned out to be nothing but a hell for cricket and a haven for black money. The IPL spot-fixing scandal that was recently exposed by the Delhi Police last week runs much deeper than just a few rogue players. After the confession of Rajasthan Royal Players, Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila in the scandal, the investigators believe that the rot could be much deeper and wider.

With the kind of money floating in IPL, corruption was imminent. It was only waiting to be exposed. Yet the BCCI officials and even the government chose to turn a blind eye to it.

Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha said in a statement yesterday that a report prepared by the Standing Committee on Finance, which he is heading, had pointed out “financial irregularities and involvement of black money in the tournament, but the government had not acted pro-actively to stop these illegal activities.”

This indicates a nexus which could be much more deep and complex than what the evidence suggests. Actor Vindu Dara Singh, who is in police custody has confessed to fixing and also revealed some of the big names in Bollywood who could be involved in the scam. Mumbai Cops on Thursday summoned BCCI chief N. Sreenivasan’s son-in-law, owner of CSK, in connection with the controversy. Not even the umpires have been left untouched.

Pakistani Umpire Asad Rauf has also been charged with links to the spot-fixing scandal. ICC in response was quick to remove Asad Rauf from the panel of match officials for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England, as his role in the scandal is presently being investigated by the Mumbai Police. Meanwhile, BCCI is still deliberating on their future course of action.

The spot-fixing controversy has tarnished the image of the only sport which India has. Rahul Dravid, the captain of Rajasthan Royals whose three players had been arrested on charges of spot fixing, described it as tough as handling “bereavement in some ways”. Strong reactions are emerging from the cricketing world and cricket fans. Fans are fast losing faith in the game which they worship, as they are feeling cheated by the players whom they once treated as demi-gods.

The voice for banning the IPL is only growing louder with each passing day as the web of the scandal comes to light. It would only be in the wider interest of the game that appropriate mechanisms are devised to enforce fair play and punish the defectors. However, the big question is can lost faith of the cricket fan be revived?