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NEWS UPDATE #114


The Guardian reports: The International Monetary Fund has urged governments to take action to tackle a record $152tn debt mountain before it triggers a fresh global financial and economic crisis. New research covering 113 countries had shown that debt was currently 225% of global GDP, with the private sector responsible for two-thirds of the total.

India very close to being categorised as a ‘water scarce’ nation: Uma Bharti
Scroll.in
India may soon be designated as a “water scarce nation”, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said on Friday. Bharti said the rising demand, infrequent supply and misuse of water would bring India closer to such a situation. The minister was addressing the World Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi, where the government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on water resources development and management with the European Union.

Automation threatens 69% jobs in India: World Bank
The Hindu
Automation threatens 69 per cent of the jobs in India, while 77 per cent in China, according to a World Bank research which has said that technology could fundamentally disrupt the pattern of traditional economic path in developing countries. “In large parts of Africa, it is likely that technology could fundamentally disrupt this pattern. Research based on World Bank data has predicted that the proportion of jobs threatened in India by automation is 69 per cent, in China it is 77 per cent and in Ethiopia, the percentage of jobs threatened by automation is 85 per cent,” World Bank president Jim Kim said.

Maharashtra govt’s huge package for flood-hit Marathwada is totally unviable
Ashwin Aghor, Catch News
After several years of drought, the Marathwada region of Maharashtra has been ravaged by severe flooding owing to incessant rains over the last fortnight. Bowing to the pressure, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced unprecedented projects for the region, collectively worth Rs 49,248 crore. However, given the financial state of Maharashtra, this seems nothing more than an inflated promise. (Also read: Supreme Court Disgusted With Government Inaction On Drought Relief, Contemplates Contempt Proceedings)

Governor returns bill which seeks to shrink Bengaluru’s open spaces
The Times of India
The government’s plan to reduce the area reserved for parks and open spaces in residential layouts suffered a setback on Tuesday with governor Vajubhai R Vala returning the Karnataka Urban Development Authorities (Amendment) Bill – 2016 for reconsideration. The bill, which was applicable to all cities and towns other than Bengaluru and was said to be a boon to the real-estate sector, was passed in the legislature in July without any debate. It sought to reduce the area for public parks and playgrounds from 15% of the total area of the layout to 10%. It also sought to shrink the area to be reserved for civic amenities from 10% to 5%. (Also read: Karnataka govt declares 42 more talukas drought-affected)

Delhi Continues To Top World’s Most Polluted Megacities List: WHO
Alison Saldanha, IndiaSpend
Delhi’s air is the worst among world megacities, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed recently, even as IndiaSpend‘s #breathe network of air-quality sensors reported fine-particulate-matter (PM2.5) levels were almost four times above daily safe levels, on average, for the seven-day period from September 22 to 28, 2016. For long-term exposure, these 24-hour levels are nearly 11 times above the WHO health standards. (Related: Delhi haze: When farm fires poison the capital’s air)

Taking consent from tribal gram sabha is not practical: Anil Madhav Dave
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
Union environment, forests & climate change minister Anil Madhav Dave tells Nitin Sethi about the changes in green laws, policy and regulation in the pipeline and why he thinks India needs these changes. Edited excerpts: What are the top three or four policy issues on your agenda to address now? At present, upcoming the Montreal Protocol meeting in Kigali and the climate negotiations in Marrakesh are in front of me.

Why the New Crop Insurance Scheme is Not Helping Indian Farmers
Parul Tewari, The Quint
Only about 20 percent of all farmers in the country are insured for crop damage. This is because the insurance premium is seen as an added burden over and above the loans they are already struggling to pay. Small and marginal farmers suffer the most as the premiums are quite high. At the same time, some of the terms and conditions of the schemes are downright absurd. For instance, the farmers are required to report crop loss within 48 hours of its actual occurrence to the local agriculture department. In the days following a natural disaster, this can be difficult for farmers. (Also read: Kerala Agri Minister up in arms against Centre over GM Mustard, wants to go organic)

‘Govt to come up with pro-active hydro power policy’
Deccan Herald
In a bid to boost hydro power sector, the government is planning to formulate a policy to push stalled projects and extend the benefits for renewable sources like wind and solar to hydro projects beyond 25 mW capacity. “We are looking at coming up with a pro-active hydro power policy to push stalled projects and explore the possibility of extending benefits for renewable sources like wind and solar to hydro projects beyond 25 mW,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said. (Related: China and India’s Race to Dam the Brahmaputra River Puts the Himalayas at Risk)

Bark, bite, bludgeon
S.R. Praveen, The Hindu
Street dogs have long ceased to be a civic issue in Kerala, instead it has morphed into an emotive one and the mauling of an old woman by a pack of dogs was merely the last straw. Many stories of brutal dog attacks have been doing the rounds — of children being bitten on their face, of hundreds of fowls killed by stray dogs. But, this was a narrative we hadn’t heard so far. Predictably, moderate voices were lost in the din of debates that ensued. ‘Kill ‘em all’ became the war cry.

India’s cruelty towards chickens is unbearably horrifying
N.G. Jayasimha, Daily O
According to news reports, last month’s (September) downpour in Telangana caused the death of 40,000 chickens. In one news report, the “losses” mentioned are only in relation to the farmers and their incomes. As important as these losses are to cover, also important is the tragic suffering and eventual death of 40,000 animals — as well as the agony these animals endured while alive. The lack of concern for these animals is the latest example of how far removed most people are from their food supply.

Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say
The Guardian
The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention. A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years. (Related: Throwing Cold Water on the Latest Global Warming Prediction)

World Animal Day – 5 numbers to put elephant poaching in perspective
Ranjan Crasta, Catch News
At a landmark meeting of 182 nations this past Sunday, it was resolved that the world’s legal ivory markets must be closed immediately. The agreement was struck in a desperate attempt to curb the ongoing poaching of elephants, an act that is threatening to drive the magnificent creatures to extinction. The countries, who had come together as part of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg, for the first time in its history, agreed that a total ban on the ivory trade rather than just regulating it is the way forward. The urgency of the situation is evident in the following grim numbers. (Related: African elephant population sees worst decline in 25 years, poaching the primary cause: IUCN report)

River pollution puts 323m at risk from life-threatening diseases, says UN
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian
A week before Russia’s Daldykan river was turned red by a leak from a metals plant, the UN issued a warning as chilling as it was overlooked: 323 million people are at risk from life-threatening diseases caused by the pollution of rivers and lakes. Cholera, typhoid and other deadly pathogens are increasing in more than half of the rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to a UN environment programme (Unep) report. Salinity levels have also risen in nearly a third of waterways. Asia has been worst hit, with up to 50% of all rivers now affected by severe pathogen pollution caused by a cocktail of untreated waste water disposal, agricultural pesticides run-off and industrial pollution.

Toxic food killed tens of thousands in China in 2015
Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Adulterated food caused tens of thousands of deaths in China in 2015, a government report has said, putting the resultant economic loss at more than $750 million. Millions of people of in China are exposed to food that is toxic because of large-scale soil and water pollution, and there is rampant use of fertiliser in agriculture, said the report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), one of the country’s top research institutions.

IMF urges governments to tackle record global debt of $152tn
The Guardian
The International Monetary Fund has urged governments to take action to tackle a record $152tn debt mountain before it triggers a fresh global financial and economic crisis. Warning that debt levels were not just high but rising, the IMF said it was vital to intervene early in order to mitigate the risks of a repeat of the damaging events that began with the collapse of the US sub-prime housing bubble almost a decade ago. It said that new research in its half-yearly fiscal monitor covering 113 countries had shown that debt was currently 225% of global GDP, with the private sector responsible for two-thirds of the total. (Related: The New Banking Crisis — In Two Frightening Graphs)

World Bank admits globalization leads to inequality
RT.com
The growth of free trade has not had a positive effect for all in the developed economies, according to a World Bank document quoted by the BBC. The document, written by World Bank economists, says “Recent evidence from the US suggests that adjustment costs for those employed in sectors exposed to import competition from China are much higher than previously thought. While trade may have contributed to rising inequality in high income economies, so has technological change and the weakening of institutions that used to represent the interests of labor”.

Methane Emissions From Fossil Fuel Industry May Be 60 Percent Higher Than Estimates: Study
Common Dreams
A new study shows that methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry are far higher than previously estimated. According to the research published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, they may be as much as 60 percent greater. Out of the 623 million tons of methane—which comes in second after CO2 for greenhouse gas potency—emitted by all sources annually, fossil fuels are responsible for 132 million to 165 million tons, or roughly 20-25 percent, the team lead by NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) scientists found. (Also read: ExxonMobil sued over climate cover-up)

How the Earth will pay us back for our carbon emissions with … more carbon emissions
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
The really scary thing about climate change is not that humans will fail to get their emissions under control. The really scary thing is that at some point, the Earth will take over and start adding even more emissions on its own. A new study underscores this risk by looking closely at Indonesia, which has a unique quality — some 70 billion of tons of carbon that have built up in peatlands over millennia. In this, Indonesia is much like the Arctic, where even larger quantities of ancient carbon are stored in permafrost, and are also vulnerable. (Also read: Carbon Tracker Analysis: ‘Renewables are Already Outcompeting Fossil Fuels’)

Denmark is building the “Silicon Valley of agriculture” near Aarhus
Tafline Laylin, Inhabitat
Denmark is making huge investments in urban agriculture, with some of the world’s leading architects and designers steering the way to a whole-systems, ecological approach to growing food. William McDonough + Partners and GXN, along with 3XN Architects, BCVA and Urland, have collaborated to develop a new master plan for the Agro Food Park (AFP), an existing hub of agricultural innovation near Aarhus. The project is designed to enhance cooperation between researchers and businesses and their ability to boost agricultural performance in a dense urban environment, ensuring long-term food security without environmental degradation.

In Kenya, lion hunters become ‘Lion Guardians’
The Hindu
In the Maasai heartland of southern Kenya, some young men have swapped their ancestral role as lion-hunters to instead protect the big cats under a conservation scheme that also aims to help their community. The organisation behind the scheme, “Lion Guardians,” has set up camp in Selenkay Reserve, not far from Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain in neighbouring Tanzania.

 

One Response “NEWS UPDATE #114”

  1. 1st December 2016 at 11:52 am

    Automation is Inescapable !

    In 1952 , American technocrat / visionary , John Diebold wrote a book titled :
    AUTOMATION
    Since then , it has remained some kind of a ” Bible ” for enthusiasts of automation ( – that includes , me ! )
    Fast forward to 2016 ( 64 years later )
    A few days back , here is what the World Bank President , Jim Yong Kim said ;
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    ” In large parts of Africa , it is likely that technology could fundamentally disrupt this pattern .
    Research based on World Bank data has predicted that the proportion of jobs threatened in India by automation is 69 % , in China it is 77 % and in Ethiopia the percentage of jobs threatened by automation is 85 %
    Now , if this is true , and if these countries are going to lose those many jobs , we have to understand what paths to economic growth will be available for these countries and then adapt our approach to infrastructure accordingly
    Mechanization and technology have disrupted traditional industrial production, upended manual jobs and call time on the work that has been done by generations of families
    This trend is not isolated to the US . It is affecting people in countries everywhere ”
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    QUESTION :
    NDA government is trying hard to raise share of Manufacturing in our GDP , from current 16 % to 25 % , as is the case with most developed / industrialized countries
    It is hoped that such a transition will enable us to provide jobs to those 12 million youngsters , joining our ” Army of Unemployed ” , each year
    But what if that increase in ” Manufacturing ” comes about through vastly increased ” Automation ” ?
    In that case , instead of being able to provide jobs to those 12 million , we may end up laying off / retrenching , even those who are currently engaged in ” Manufacturing ” !
    Increased competition forces manufacturers to constantly cut costs
    And since , they have very little scope to cut costs of land / machinery / materials / money ( interest ) etc , they focus on ways and means to cut ” Labour Costs ( Salaries / Wages ) ” – often through replacing humans with automatic machines
    And wherever they can , factories are moving out of the cities / countries ( those ” high wage islands ” ) to areas where labour costs are still low !

    POSSIBLE ANSWERS :

    * Reduce the ” Cost of Money ” , through lower Interest Rates to Companies
    ( This is expected to happen soon since the banking system is flush with funds after the
    recent demonetization )

    * Reduce the ” Cost of Land ” , by mandating that the farmers providing their lands to
    become ” Equity Share Holders ” in all new projects ( whether Public Sector or Private
    sector / Infrastructure or Factories )

    * Reduce ” Cost of Machineries “, by providing accelerated depreciation for new projects
    This will also spur the demand for Capital Goods, boosting ” Manufacturing Employment ”

    * Reduce ” Cost of Materials “, by reducing GST rates from 18 % to 12 %

    * Reduce ” Cost of Manpower ” , by raising tax exemption limit to Rs 10 lakh
    By increasing ” Consumer Surplus ” , this will reduce wage-increase demands

    * Reduce ” Cost of Corruption ” by eliminating corruption ( embedding RFID chip in notes )

    * Reduce ” Cost of Inflation ” by limiting ” Annual Wages-Salaries Increases ” to 75 % of
    the preceding year’s GDP number ( ie: if GDP for 2015, is 8 % , maximum salary / wage
    increase that can be granted on 01 April 2016 , will be 6 % ) . This mechanism will set in
    motion , a VIRTUOUS CIRCLE , in reduction of CPI / WPI !

    In short , we must make ours, a ” Low Cost Economy ” as far as ” Manufacturing Sector ” is concerned

    But to save jobs , the above mentioned measures won’t suffice !

    That would require Indians to compete with the jobseekers around the World – compete with the jobseekers everywhere , in their own countries !
    It is going to be a ” Dog eat Dog world ” where it will be ” Survival of the Fittest ” !
    That would require us to turn India into ” Back Factory of the World ” described in my following blog ( sent as email to NDA Ministers / Secretaries / MPs / MLAs )
    ——————————————————————————————————
    Wednesday, 9 September 2015

    ” BACK FACTORY ” OF THE WORLD ?

    China is known as the ” Factory ” of the World

    India is known as the ” Back Office ” of the World

    Can India become the ” Back Factory ” of the World ?

    Wrong question !

    Right question is : WHEN can we become the ” Back Factory ” of the World ?

    Answer is ” hiding in plain sight ” !

    This week , an astronaut , sitting in a satellite 400 km above the earth and hurtling through space at 16,000 km per hour , operated a robot on the earth

    Earlier , scientists sitting in NASA space centre or in Shri Harikota space centre , have operated Mars Rovers / MOM ( Mars Orbital Mission ) remotely

    From a distance of millions of miles

    And soon , astronauts will be sending emails to earthlings from millions of miles away , using ” Space Internet ” on their Mobile phones

    Invariably , each such team of scientists , comprised Indians !

    So , WHEN can our scientists – and software Start Ups – enable Indian workers , sitting in Hyderabad / Chennai etc , to operate / manipulate , machinery in factories of Europe / America / China ?

    I believe this can become a reality by 2020 , if Central Government and State Governments , just get out of the way of our scientists / Start Ups and leave them alone !

    Then tell them :

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    ” You are our next generation of Freedom Fighters . Free our millions from
    poverty / starvation / jobless depression / ignominy / suicides

    Like war – ravaged people of North Africa , Indians cannot invade Europe / Australia / Canada , in search of jobs / better life

    We depend upon you to bring the jobs to India – jobs such as ,

    * Operating Machinery in Factories abroad

    * Controlling Air Traffic at Airports around the World

    * Operating upon patients in Hospitals , all over

    * Teaching students in Schools , in remote Africa

    * Any job that currently requires immediate presence of a worker

    And , if you set up a ” Back Factory ” , you don’t need to pay Corporate Income Tax for next 10 years !

    Simply register on web site of Income Tax Department as a ” Back Factory ” owner and file annual ” Zero Corporate Tax Return ”

    ——————————————————————————————————

    When this happens ,

    * Millions of skilled Indian workers will operate factories around the World ,
    sitting in , internet connected ” Back Factories ” in small Indian towns

    * Foxcon will not need to replace its high-wage Chinese workers with one
    million robots ( as officially announced sometime back )

    At half the wages of those Chinese workers , Indians will operate Foxcon
    factories , all over the World , remotely !

    * ” Contract Labour Act ” will need to be replaced with ” Back Factory ” Act

    * ” Minimum Wages Act ” will need to be scrapped !

    * India will not need to fight with WTO on ” Manpower / Service Exports ”

    * ” Make in India ” will morph into ” Make from India ”

    I hope NDA Ministers and members of NITI Aayog will ask , Narayan Murthy / Sam Pitroda / Azim Premji / Sundar Pichai / Satya Nadela / Ray Kurzweil etc :

    ” How soon can this be done ? How can you help ? ”

    ——————————————————————————————————-
    01 Dec 2016
    http://www.hemenparekh.in / blogs

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