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Old August 18th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #81
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The jewel in the market-economy crown
India has at last declared its independence from red tape, Marcus Gee says, 60 years after the end of the Raj

MARCUS GEE
Globe and Mail, Canada
August 18, 2007

Close your eyes and think of India. What do you see? Elephants and swamis? Half-clothed worshippers bathing in the Ganges? Swaying lovers in a Bollywood dance number?

The image of the world's second-most-populous country has changed little since Mark Twain rhapsodized about "the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty - of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps."

But India is changing. With its economy growing at a gallop, with its new caste of homegrown billionaires snapping up companies around the world, with its thrusting middle class buying 10 million new cars a year, India is dashing into the future in a frenzy of unleashed materialism and naked ambition.

How are we to understand this revolution? How can we reconcile the old India of Western imagination - exotic, spiritual, eternal - with the fast-changing, worldly, money-mad India of today?

Simple, says Pavan K. Varma in Being Indian: The Truth About Why the 21st Century Will Be India's (Penguin, 2004). Just understand that there is no contradiction. "The image is a myth."

Indians, he writes, have never been otherworldly. They lust for material things as much as any other people, maybe more. They admire the wealthy. They are sharp traders and resourceful entrepreneurs. In the United States, they form the most successful community of recent immigrants.

Hinduism, India's dominant religion, isn't sniffy in the least about making money. Hindus unashamedly worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. "Indeed, Hinduism must be the only religion that expressly includes the fulfilment of physical desires, and the pursuit of prosperity, among the supreme aims of life," writes Varma, an Indian diplomat. Instead of living like Gandhi, most Indians would rather get rich.

The trouble is that, for decades, their masters wouldn't let them. No, not their British masters; their Indian ones. After independence in 1947, 60 years ago this month, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru embraced the socialism that was the intellectual fashion of the day, putting much of industry in government hands and regulating the rest almost to death in a mass of red tape that came to be known as the "Licence Raj."

Only after that Raj was finally overthrown in 1991, when a cash-strapped government opened up the economy in a fit of desperation, could Indians give full rein to their natural inclinations. The socialist era, Varma says, was "antithetical to the genius of the Indian people." They took to the new market economy "like ducks to water."

The foremost chronicler of that great plunge is Gurcharan Das, another smart, eloquent, courtly Indian. Educated at Harvard, he became a leading international executive for Procter & Gamble before retiring to write novels, plays and newspaper columns. I met him in Delhi this spring, and we chatted about his book India Unbound (Viking, 2000) as he walked his dog in the historic Lodhi Garden.

Like every Indian businessman of his generation, he spent countless hours cooling his heels in the waiting rooms of the petty tyrants who ruled (and, in many places, still rule) India's bureaucracy, pleading for the right to sell this product or import that one. He is still angry about it - not for himself, a privileged executive, but for the Indian masses who were left in squalid poverty while their cousins in other parts of Asia climbed the ladder to prosperity.

"By suppressing economic liberty for 40 years, we destroyed growth and the futures of two generations," he writes. "For the average citizen, it was a great betrayal."

When I met him, though, he was filled with hope. Unbound, India is doing even better than he predicted seven years ago. Its economy is growing at 9 per cent a year, nearly as fast as miraculous China's. Its software and outsourcing firms are world- famous. It has more billionaires (36) than any other Asian country. Its middle class is predicted to grow to half a billion people by 2025. More than 100 million people have risen out of poverty in the space of a single generation.

Mira Kamdar is equally upbeat in her Planet India: How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World (Scribner, 2007). An American born of an Indian father, and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute, Kamdar travels up and down the subcontinent to witness "the churning of Indian's incredible metamorphosis." She visits tycoons and software whiz kids, slum dwellers and cotton farmers. Everywhere she goes, she is awed "by the pride, the bullishness, the sense that this moment belongs to India."

Of course there are problems, immense problems. Nearly half of Indian children under 3 are undernourished. HIV/AIDS is spreading. A third of Indians still cannot read or write.

Yet all three writers are optimistic - as are Indians themselves. Varma says that "the real Indian rope trick is the persistence of hope in the most hopeless of circumstances."

Kamdar goes even further. She argues that India can give the world a lesson. If India - a multiethnic state of many religions and languages, a functioning parliamentary democracy - can rise to riches, it will put the lie to the argument made by other regimes (hello, Beijing) that you can't have freedom if you want economic growth.

For all India's problems, it's hard not to be moved by the sight of one-sixth of humanity moving together into the future. In his famous speech to the nation at India's birth on Aug. 14, 1947, Nehru said, "The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity?"

After decades of stagnation and frustration, Indians are at last saying, "Yes."

Marcus Gee is The Globe and Mail's Asia-Pacific reporter.
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 03:20 PM   #82
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Capitalizing on the India-Caribbean Connection
By Sir Ronald Sanders
Special to Huntington News Network
Aug. 18, 2007

As India celebrated its 60th anniversary of independence from Britain on August 15th, the global investment bank, Lehman Brothers lowered the country’s 2007 gross domestic product forecast to 9.1 per cent from 9.6 per cent.

If that’s bad news, it is bad news that every country in the world should welcome receiving about itself.

In any event, Lehman went on to say that this drop in the growth forecast was a mere blip since “the country’s structural economic drivers are still intact” and it should “bounce back” to 10 per cent growth next year (see, report titled 'Asia Ex-Japan Weekly Economic Monitor').

Incidentally, the 9.1 per cent growth now forecast for 2007 comes on the back of three years of average growth of 8.5%. No wonder all the projections indicate that by 2010, the size of India’s new middle class will be 300 million, almost equal to the entire population of the United States.

Of course, it was not always so. For decades after its independence in 1947, India was regarded as a backwater country, stricken by overwhelming poverty and paralysed by the sheer size of its one billion people.

In 1964, with more than a degree of ruefulness, the Trinidadian Author V S Naipaul (now Sir Vidya Naipaul and a Nobel Prize winner for literature) described it in a famous book of the same name as, “An Area of Darkness”. Today, the edges of that darkness are being pushed back, revealing a vibrant, versatile economy that has taken advantage of modern Information Technology and the large investment made in education since independence.

For sure, poverty still exists in India. Seventy per cent of the population still live in agricultural villages, and severe hardship continues. But, India seems no longer content to live in a mire of hopelessness; it sees in its future the fortunes of its past.

As one writer recently pointed out, “In the 18th century, India had the biggest economy in the world, larger than all of Western Europe and the Americas put together”. India’s economy is on course for revival and rejuvenation.

According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report (April 2007), “India’s consumption/GDP ratio – nearly two-thirds – is one of the highest in Asia, perhaps reflecting a high share of disposable income”. The report also states that investment is buoyant from corporate profits, exports are growing apace, and real per capita income should double in 13 years.

India is aware of its progress and, increasingly, of its economic strength. In the current trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), India has emerged as a powerhouse that cannot be ignored in the bargaining that has taken place amongst the globe’s biggest players.

The G8 nations – the world’s richest states – are also keenly aware of India’s new economic strength. They have considered India important enough to invite its Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to their summit meetings, and to take account of the government of India’s views.

All this is a far cry from the period between 1838 and 1920, when desperate conditions in India caused tens of thousands of Indians to travel to the Caribbean in the aftermath of the brutal system of African slavery to work in harrowing circumstances as indentured labourers, causing one British administrator to observe: “Indentured labour really stinks in my nostrils as a form of slavery that we ought really to be ashamed of”.

But that period, when Indians travelled to, and settled in, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Jamaica, Trinidad. Grenada, Guyana and Surinam established a viable link between India and the Caribbean. Certainly, India has since benefited from exports to Trinidad, Guyana and Surinam which have sizeable Indian communities.

Both the Indian government and Indian businesses have now begun to take advantage of the opportunities provided by liberalization of markets.

The Indian government has relaxed its intervention in, and regulation of the economy, giving a freer rein to both local and foreign investors. The private sector is thriving, and while India has been the beneficiary of foreign investment, the investment of Indian companies abroad has been much larger. Indian companies have acquired significant companies in Europe and the US as well as invested in new ones including in the tourism industry.

Of course, India is not perfect. As Mark Tully, a long time BBC correspondent in India, has argued “imagine how fast it would grow if the constraints (of poor governance, as distinct from government) were lifted”.

India’s achievement is all the more remarkable because in its 60 years of independence it has maintained democracy; it has held free elections; it has managed virulent dissent; it has coped with poverty; and it has accommodated religious groups. Few countries, other than those ruled by force, could make such a boast.

As the Indian Prime Minister said, “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come (quoting Victor Hugo) and the emergence of India is one such idea. We have come far and this idea is now an accepted axiom”.

This new vibrant India, which is arising from the backwater of underdevelopment and which is showing new courage in owning in those countries which once owned it, provides an opportunity for the Caribbean.

The links that were established by that other system of slavery called indentured labour are a basis for Caribbean countries to encourage greater official and private investment from India in a range of sectors including tourism, financial services, information technology and alternative energy sources such as ethanol.

Both Caribbean governments and the private sector should seriously look to India for the structured development of trade, aid and investment relations that could benefit both areas.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean Ambassador to the World Trade Organization who publishes widely on Small States in the global community.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #83
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Six decades later, still definitely a work in progress
Keeble McFarlane
Jamaica Observer, Jamaica
Saturday, August 18, 2007

If you are lamenting the dismal side of life in Jamaica after 45 years of independence, take heart - it's been 60 years since the British walked out of India, setting off one of the biggest bloodbaths of the 20th century and launching two nations on to perilous paths.

In that time, India bounced around in largely self-inflicted doldrums, then as the century drew to a close awoke from its stupor and set itself on a path of determined development which has made it one of the world's economic bright spots. As in this island's case, there is much to complain about, and to try to set right, but there's also a lot to celebrate.

When Jamaica approached independence, the template had become firmly established and the moves to disengage the colony and the colonial power were well choreographed. As we discussed here last week, India didn't have that luxury and the mistakes made by all the concerned parties unleashed untold dislocation, brutality, misery and distress at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. People of differing faiths who had lived together with minimum friction all of a sudden turned on each other with unprecedented savagery.

The legacy remains to this day. Muslims in India have to scrounge around at the bottom of the social heap to eke out a living. They swap recognisably Islamic names for Hindu ones in order to get jobs or to operate small businesses.

In spite of enlightened legislation introduced from the start by far-sighted leaders, many Hindus stoutly cling to their caste prejudice. Among the first laws of an independent India were ones aimed at wiping out discrimination against Dalits, or Untouchables (as they were once known), yet millions of these folks are mired at the bottom. They do the real dirty jobs - such as cleaning sewers and handling garbage, and even though many have acquired higher education and other tools of social mobility, they are stuck.

The British fought long to frustrate the wishes of many people, such as three English-trained lawyers, Mohandas K Gandhi, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru and their numerous followers for an independent, united state in which people of all religions, beliefs, ethnic groups and traditions could co-exist. In the end, the casual amateurism of the dilettante the British named as their last Viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, the bungling of his administrators, the escalating demands by all the various groups for the end of the British Raj, exacerbated by the dynamics which developed in such electrically charged environments, led to the Pandora's Box we have witnessed.
And yet . and yet.

India is by far the world's largest democracy, and considering the enormous logistical challenges posed by its vast population (just over a billion people!) and widely varying landscape occupying a huge territory, is an extremely successful one. In spite of the lingering caste prejudice and anti-Muslim sentiments, India manages to make power-sharing work in an atmosphere of federalism and secularism. Hindus make up 80 per cent of the population, yet Muslims, Sikhs and people from other religious groups have at various times led the government, the army and the state itself.

The sub-continental giant has good relations with many countries, notably with China and the United States. Under Nehru, India was one of the founders of the non-aligned movement, but appeared to be less non-aligned to the Soviet bloc than with the US. An early foreign minister, VK Krishna Menon, was noted for his caustic attitude towards Washington. Recently there have been overtures to its neighbour, Pakistan, with the concurrent lessening of tensions, although they still remain wary of each other.
Its economy, which crept along for many years under the crushing weight of impractical policies and stultifying bureaucracy implementing narrow-minded India-centric initiatives, has turned into one of the most dynamic in the world. Its purchasing power is the fourth largest in the world, growing at between six and eight per cent each year.

In the next 15 years or so, economists say it will probably account for some 12 per cent of the world's economic growth. It could soon outstrip China, whose growth is fuelled largely on investment by outsiders, mostly the consuming countries of the industrial west.

Most of India's growth has been self-generated, with the money and brains coming from within.
Ironically, among the keys to India's success are relics of the British connection.

Cricket - a significant social glue - was once described as an Indian sport discovered by the English. The Indian railway system, also founded by the British, is the world's largest employer and with its 65,000 kilometres of track, is a vital unifier of the myriad groups which make up the country.
Above all, perhaps the greatest (not-so-secret) weapon is the English language itself. Between 300 and 400 million Indians speak it, and that, along with the inherited university system, has produced a vast pool of well-educated and easily trainable workers. High-tech firms have sprung up like bamboo plants all over the Indian silicon belt - places like Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad, with big firms from the US and Europe plugging in.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was educated at Oxford University, remarked two years ago as his alma mater awarded him an honorary doctorate: "It used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire. I am afraid we were partly responsible for sending that adage out of fashion. But if there is one phenomenon on which the sun cannot set, it is the world of English-speaking people, in which the people of Indian origin are the single largest component."

While marking the anniversary on Wednesday, Singh noted that there is still much work to be done: "India cannot become a nation of islands of high growth and vast areas untouched by development, where the benefits of growth accrue to only a few. We have moved forward in the many battles against poverty, ignorance and disease. But can we say we have won the war?" As he spoke at New Delhi's historic Red Fort, the signs of today's reality were all too evident. Singh was shielded by bulletproof glass and sharpshooters were stationed on neighbouring buildings.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 03:39 PM   #84
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India's commercial capital badly in need of a makeover
Financial Times, UK
Published: August 18, 2007, 00:05

To assess how far Mumbai has come as a financial centre, you need only speak to Amritlal J. Shah at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Shah, who has retired but still keeps an office at the BSE, started working at Asia's oldest exchange as the assistant secretary immediately after the Second World War.

The exchange was then housed in a stone building deep in Mumbai's historic Fort business district that was later replaced by the highrise office tower in which Shah sits today.

It had a staff of 10 who handled everything from administration to arbitrating disputes. Typewriters were virtually non-existent, as was mechanisation of any kind. In the BSE's archives, boasts Shah, "you'll find hundreds of documents that have been handwritten by me".

Deals were conducted by "jobbers" who used one hand to hold on to leather straps fixed to parapets above the trading floor and the other to flash the rapid hand signals that were then the lingua franca of commerce. Average daily turnover was a fraction of today's Rs55.5 billion ($1.4 billion).

Mumbai now faces a defining challenge. If India is to become one of the world's great economic powers, it needs a financial capital with global heft.

That means turning Mumbai, where 60 per cent of the population lives in slums and the ride in from the airport makes even the most adventurous of business travellers wince, into an international financial centre.

To sustain "its trajectory as an emerging, globally significant continental economy", India needs to become an important operator in financial services, declared a special committee commissioned to study Mumbai's future by the finance ministry this year.

As the economy has grown and become more global since the 1991 beginning of reforms, India's lack of a large domestic financial services industry has meant that it has effectively been paying others to manage international flows of capital.

Moving up

According to the expert committee's report, between 1992 and 2005 two-way cross-border flows, as measured by the combined current and capital accounts, rose from $105 billion to $658 billion, generating an estimated $13 billion in fees paid for international financial services in 2005 alone.

Moreover, as Indian companies such as Tata Steel, which bought Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus for $11 billion this year, increasingly venture overseas they are generating fees offshore that are helping to "fuel the growth" of other global financial centres, the committee lamented.

And that is not small change. Based on "conservative assumptions", the fees paid by Indian households and companies for international financial services are expected to rise to $48 billion by 2015, according to the report.

The problem for Mumbai is that the difficulties it has to overcome are fundamental. Mentioned most often is the straining infrastructure.

Its roads are clogged, its airport is antiquated and the same power shortages that have plagued most of India for years have now begun to be felt in the city.

Addressing the infrastructure issue is just the beginning. India's financial sector and its regulation have a long way to go to match more developed markets. The securities regulator and its banking counterpart are widely seen as competent if conservative watchdogs.

But they are held back by outdated, sometimes protectionist, legislation. Until recently the issuance of financial products, such as derivatives, was governed by India's gambling laws.

Some 70 per cent of India's banking sector remains in public hands with foreign investors unable to buy even minority stakes in state banks.

There are now 40,000 commercial bank branches in India but foreign banks collectively are allotted just 20 branch licences each year. India's securities industry also remains a collection of small forces rather than champions with the potential to compete globally.

"Financial regime governance in India must now be transformed in the same way that governance of the 'real' economy was transformed through the 1990s to make Indian manufacturing firms more efficient and globally competitive," the expert committee wrote.

"Without such a transformation the emergence of a credible [international financial centre] in Mumbai could not be contemplated."
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 10:25 PM   #85
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A sparkling day
India's PM tells crowds marking 60 years without British rule 'the best is yet to come'
Toronto Sun, Canada

NEW DELHI -- India celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence from British rule yesterday in a triumphant mood, with many here feeling the country is finally taking its rightful place as a major global player.

"I assure you that for each one of you, and for our country, the best is yet to come," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the nation in his traditional Independence Day speech.

But with many of India's 1.1 billion people being left behind by the country's lightning economic growth, Singh warned: "We must not be overconfident."
Yesterday's celebration came a day after neighbouring Pakistan marked its independence from Britain with colourful displays of national pride. Tens of thousands rallied throughout the world's second most populous Muslim nation, waving Pakistan's olive-green flag, with a white crescent.

Britain's 1947 partition of the subcontinent brought one of modern history's biggest mass migrations as 10 million people crossed the newly created frontier, and one of its bloodiest chapters as sectarian and religious fighting killed hundreds of thousands.

Pakistan's independence came a day earlier than India's so the last British viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, could attend both ceremonies.

Lingering disputes -- especially over Kashmir -- led to three wars between the South Asian neighbours, and tensions persist.

Yesterday, the fault lines that have so long divided India also were apparent with security tight across the country. In Kashmir, mobile phone service was shut down in a bid to prevent the usual Independence Day violence.

Singh, however, focused on the challenges faced by a country where children are more likely to be malnourished than in Africa and that is home to about a third of the people in the world living on less than $1 a day.

"India cannot become a nation with islands of high growth and vast areas untouched by development, where the benefits of growth accrue only to a few," he told a crowd of thousands of dignitaries and schoolchildren dressed in the orange, white and green of the Indian flag.

Singh spoke from behind a bulletproof screen atop the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, the 17th-century sandstone structure built by the Mogul emperors who ruled much of India before the British arrived.

His speech touched on many domestic issues -- from plans to invest $6.25 billion in agriculture, which provides a livelihood for two-thirds of Indians, to improving schools in the country where a third of the people are illiterate.

"Gandhi's dream of a free India will only be fully realized when we banish poverty from our midst," Singh said, referring to Mahatma Gandhi.

He pledged to press ahead with industrialization and build "first-rate infrastructure" -- moves that in the past year have led to clashes between police and farmers who don't want their land plowed under to make way for factories.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar

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Old August 18th, 2007, 10:29 PM   #86
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India deserves credit for hitting 60-year milestone
Midland Reporter-Telegram
MyWestTexas.com, TX
08/16/2007

We don't think of India as a young democratic nation, but the country with over a billion people is celebrating its 60th year as an independent nation this week.

We extend our heartiest congratulations to India for its worthy trek through the idea of democracy.

India is a nation of contrasts. It is an emerging power with a booming economy. Yet, it is a nation littered with a poor class that lives in poverty every day. It is a burgeoning nuclear power with massive social problems, yet it is a nation with unbelievable potential.

No one recognizes those factors more than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who said, "Democracy is India's greatest achievement but we have tough challenges ahead for our country.

"The success of a secular democracy in a nation of a billion people with such diversity is viewed with admiration. The best is yet to come," Singh predicted. "However, we must not be over-confident. We have a long a march ahead."

India's economy has been growing steadily over the past decade, recording average gains of around 9 percent per year. However, poverty still is recognized by Singh and the world as a whole as India's "national shame."

Malnutrition and high unemployment run rampant, but there are also agrarian strife, civil unrest and sectarian divide. Singh says it will take a decade of hard work and sustained growth to fully realize the dreams of a nation.

If past history is followed, as it has been by many democratic nations before it, the economy may continue to improve, but the poverty will remain after 10 years. Countries that aspire to achieve true democracy often never develop the love for the individual and that is what places America on the right road in its walk with democratic reform.

We hope and yearn for nations like India to get it right. Certainly, they have mastered the tools of freedom in the economic sector, but they need to do better in spreading the wealth.

Much can be said of India's neighbor and rival Pakistan. You barely can separate the two in any political discussion since they were born out of the same circumstances. Pakistan was carved out of India in 1947 at the end of British colonial rule. That means Pakistan, too, is celebrating its own 60 years of independence.

We wish the two nations could embrace democracy and rid themselves of the militant factors that abound. Then, and only then, will India and Pakistan begin to discover the real treasures that lie ahead on the road to democracy.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 11:22 PM   #87
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Plastic car will be world’s cheapest
Tata Motors unveils plan for 100,000 rupee vehicle
From Raymond Thibodeaux in Kochi
Sunday Herald, UK

THE NARROW, pot-holed roads of this boomtown on India's southwestern coast are a sea of humanity on wheels. Here, as in most of India, right of way is accorded by a vehicle's size - motorcycles stop for cars, cars stop for trucks, trucks stop for buses, and buses stop for cows.

So, in a country where size does matter, an Indian car maker is set to roll out the world's cheapest car next year, enabling those at the bottom of the traffic pecking order to move up a notch.

And it will put the Indian dream of owning a new car - a symbol of status in a status-obsessed culture - within reach of tens of millions of people.

The car maker Tata Motors has not divulged many details about the car other than its shockingly low sticker price of 100,000 rupees, or 1 lakh in Indian currency. That's just over £1200, less than half the price of the lowest-priced cars on India's market today.

"It's going to be a revolution," said Naveen Khunna, 36, who plans to buy eight of these cars for his New Delhi-based pharmaceutical supply company. "Most people use motorcycles and mopeds, but not because they want to - they prefer cars but can't afford them. That is definitely going to change."

The car's rollout comes as India's economy expands at a faster-than-expected rate of 8% a year, second only to China. In this country of 1.1 billion people, sales of small cars are expected to double to two million in the next three years, as the country's emerging middle class expands from 50 million people today to an estimated half billion by 2025.

Supposedly, the 1 Lakh Car - Tata has yet to release its official name - will be a 4-door as big as a Volkswagen Rabbit, much of it will be plastic, and it will have a rear-mounted 30-horsepower engine. By comparison, a Rabbit has about 150 horsepower.

Tata is counting on it being a mega hit. It better be, analysts say. A huge volume of sales is necessary to make up for the car's tiny profit margin of less than 3%.

But its success could spell trouble for India's urban planners and environmentalists who say a drastic increase in car ownership could overwhelm the country's already crowded roadways and worsen its air quality.

The need for more affordable cars is sometimes glaringly obvious. In India, it is not uncommon to see entire families of four or five, precariously balanced on a motorcycle, weaving through traffic.

Sudheer Mahanan, a government forest warden, often carries two passengers on his moped, his 11-year-old son, Harikrishna, and his five-year-old daughter, Harichandana, who is small enough to fit on a flat space between the seat and the handlebars.

He is among those Tata is targeting for its 1 Lakh Car, largely by offering lucrative trade-in deals for motorcycles and mopeds. But even at 1 lakh, the car is out of his price range, as it is likely to be for the two-thirds of India's population who live on £1 a day.

"I've already taken out a bank loan to buy this moped," said Mahanan, 42, after being waved out of the traffic for an interview. "For me to buy a car, it would need to be about 50,000 rupees," he said. That's about £630. Fat chance.

As it is, only eight in every 1000 Indians own a car, compared to roughly 500 Europeans and 770 Americans per 1000.

Environmental groups have already expressed "great concern" about India's air quality, especially in most of the country's largest cities, where they say the air quality is already at "critical levels."

"Can you imagine if even 1% of Indians had a car? Our roads can hardly handle the number of cars out there right now," said Mahesh Mehta, an environmental attorney based in New Delhi.

"We should not be following the Western model of car ownership. That would be disastrous in India. We need better public transportation, better railways and subways," he said.

India's parliament is expected to plow about £152m into the country's outgrown infrastructure, including building and widening highways across the country, according to Indian commerce secretary, GK Pillai.

If the 1 Lakh Car is as successful as its makers hope, it is expected to boost sales in spin-off industries such as petrol stations, car parts stores, auto repair shops, and driving schools.

The cheap cars are expected to energise an already booming car market in Kerala, especially in places such as Kochi and Trivandrum that have fast-growing trades in tourism and technology.

In Kerala, India's only communist-run state, the occasional roadside posters of Che Guevara and red flags with gold hammer and sickle increasingly share space with huge billboards touting Western-style bling, including new car ads that say: "Welcome to civilisation."

Azad Pathan owns a Tata dealership on Trivandrum's "Motor Mile," which has about a dozen dealerships with polished showrooms for new cars and trucks.

"It is definitely going to be big. But then, Ratan Tata chairman of Tata Motors is a man with a big vision," Pathan said.

Will the car's wafer-thin profit margin leave little room for the very Indian sport of bargaining?

"This is India," Pathan said. "I'm sure we are going to get customers coming in here wanting us to throw in free floor mats and mud flaps."
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 18th, 2007, 11:35 PM   #88
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Lehman cuts India 2007 GDP forecast to 9.1 pct, sees cyclical slowdown
FORBES, NY
08.14.07, 4:35 AM ET

MUMBAI (Thomson Financial) - Lehman Brothers has lowered India's 2007 gross domestic product forecast to 9.1 pct from 9.6 pct as tighter monetary conditions, led by sharp rupee appreciation and firming policy rates, hurt the country's economy.

The global investment bank, citing Reserve Bank of India's industrial outlook survey, also noted that India's business confidence indices have fallen as firms have reported less favourable conditions in production, order books, exports and profit margins.

According to RBI's industrial outlook survey, the business expectations index declined by 5.8 pct quarter-on-quarter in Q2 and by a further 3.0 pct in Q3.

India's economy appears to be entering a cyclical slowdown but the country's structural economic drivers are still intact which should help the economy to bounce back from this soft patch with 10 pct growth in 2008, Lehman Brothers (nyse: LEH - news - people ) said in a report titled 'Asia Ex-Japan Weekly Economic Monitor'.

'We are not too concerned about this soft patch, because even at 9.1 pct in 2007, GDP growth would still be well above the average of 8.5 pct over the past three years,' the report said.

The structural economic drivers include a rapidly opening economy to foreign trade and investment, a deepening financial sector and prudent macro policies, it said.

Lehman Brothers report said it does not expect Reserve Bank of India to hike interest rates further in 2007, due to the cyclical soft patch in the economy but expects foreign capital inflows to remain strong as GDP accelerates.

'We expect the RBI to take a middle-of-the-road approach, allowing some rupee appreciation but managing the pace, working hard to mop up liquidity and liberalising capital outflows further,' Lehman Brothers said adding that it expects a 50 basis points hike in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) in the fourth quarter and two more 50 bps hikes in 2008.

India's economy has the potential to sustain 9-10 pct growth and the key to it is more supply-side reforms without politics getting in the way, the report added.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 19th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #89
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Indians splurge on children's birthdays
By Emily Wax,
Washington Post
August 19, 2007

NEW DELHI -- Inside the chandeliered party hall of an upscale hotel, with its canopies of balloons and sparkly lights, three video cameramen and two photographers jostled like paparazzi to get a glimpse of the guest of honor.

Waiters in black tie waded through the crowd, serving endless silver trays of chicken tikka kebabs, grilled shrimp, and samosas. Several deejays spun fast-tempo Punjabi pop that pulsated from refrigerator-size speakers. There were cocktails for the adults and cotton candy for the children.

This was, after all, a birthday party for a 2-year-old -- curly-haired Taisa Arora. On a recent Saturday night, she wore her Strawberry Shortcake Mary Janes and a princess-like sequined outfit, and yawned as her grandmother cradled her amid the excitement of 125 guests.

In India, weddings have long been extravagant celebrations of a lifetime. But with prosperity growing in urban India, more parents are spending exorbitant amounts on children's birthday parties.

"The birthday party is the new wedding in India, and the sky is the limit," said Rakesh Gupta, a party planner who has seen his business double in the past few years. "It's a serious industry now, and people want to spend lavishly and outdo each other. People in India don't like to save. They want to enjoy life and live for today after so many years of poverty and struggle."

For India's wealthier classes, birthday parties are a chance to network with business colleagues and to reunite relatives. Perhaps most important, the parties are a source of pride for Indians looking to demonstrate their new wealth, as parents try to impress one another with opulent soirees.

The Indian economy has experienced record growth rates of 8 percent to 9 percent during the past three years, in part because the once-socialist country has opened its markets globally Although India has the largest number of poor people struggling to survive on $1 a day, its middle class has more than tripled in the past two decades, according to the World Bank.

In cities, swanky stores hawk shiny bathroom fixtures and $2,000 Jacuzzis, and television ads show smiling housewives buying washing machines.

When it comes to birthday parties, the change has been striking. Gone is the quiet birthday visit to a Hindu temple and a simple box of Indian sweets. Now there's the frazzled party planner to hire, invitations with calligraphy to buy, and elephant and camel rides to plan. Indian banks, which have long offered low-interest loans for weddings, now offer similar deals for birthday parties. The parties are often more for the parents than for the children, a way for them to show their generosity. They are also a way they can afford to treat friends, relatives, and business partners to a lavish night out.

At Taisa's bash, her father, a real estate mogul, shook hands and slapped the backs of relatives and business associates while a moon bounce was set up next to a merry-go-round. "We're proud parents. We want to celebrate in a big way," said Gagan Arora, 27. His wife, Shivali Arora, 24, said, "Some families in India have this kind of money now, so why not celebrate?"

Indeed, India is a place of confounding contrasts. According to the United Nations, 42 percent of India's children are malnourished, a higher rate than in most African countries. Children are a fixture on bustling city streets, their hands outstretched for rupees.

Not far from the Arora birthday party, barefoot girls performed cartwheels and twisted themselves into pretzel-like shapes as they begged for rupees. "Hungry," they cried.
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 19th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #90
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India’s under-20 vision
Globalist
ChronicleHerald.ca, Canada

WHILE INDIA’S economy is growing rapidly, big challenges remain — chief among them reducing illiteracy and giving today’s youth a better education.

But the sheer number of students makes that quite a task. We wonder: As a group, Indians under the age of 20 are about as large as the entire population of which of the following countries or regions?

Which is the correct answer?


A. All but 10 countries in the world

B. The United States

C. The European Union

D. The 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

A. All but 10 countries in the world is not correct.

Just the number of Indians under age five amounts to nearly 127 million people (as of 2005). Those infants and toddlers by themselves thus comprise a group larger than the population of all but 10 countries in the world.

Interestingly, Indians under the age of five also outnumber all Indians aged 55 and above — who total just 120 million.

B. The United States is not correct.

At 374 million, the number of people in India under the age of 15 is 25 per cent larger than the entire U.S. population of 301 million. Currently, one in every three Indians is under the age of 15 — and only one in three is 35 or older.

In contrast, nearly half of the people in China and the United States are 35 or older — compared to roughly 60 per cent in Europe.

C. The European Union is correct.

The 27 member states of the European Union have a combined population of 490 million. That number is roughly equivalent to the 488 million Indians who have yet to celebrate their 20th birthday, according to the United Nations Population Division.

D. The 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is not correct.

The total population of the 30 wealthy, mostly European and North American member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 1.17 billion. That is greater than the total number of people living in India, 1.13 billion (as of 2007).

Of its total population, India’s working-age population — which includes people age 15 to 64 — is currently estimated at 734 million. That represents about 17 per cent of the world’s total working-age population.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 20th, 2007, 01:15 AM   #91
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Canberra pushes hard for fresh deal with India
By Greg Sheridan
NEWS.com.au, Australia
August 20, 2007 02:00am

AUSTRALIA will attempt to negotiate a free trade agreement with India as part of a historic shift in relations with the emerging economic powerhouse of South Asia.

The new strategic approach towards India has been endorsed by Cabinet and is considered as important as the embrace of China in the 1980s and '90s and Australia's earlier engagement with Japan.

The submission by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer went to the full Cabinet, unlike the decision to allow the sale of uranium to India, which was considered by the national security committee.

Analysts believe an FTA would be a substantial challenge, but no more so than pursuing an agreement with China or Japan, which Australia is doing.

Trade pacts with India, China, Japan and the US would give Australia almost a complete hand of interlocking treaties with its most important partners, and the world's most dynamic economies.

These agreements also provide an important defensive barrier for Australia against any rise in international protectionism, and they are an important advance in trading opportunities for Australian companies in the absence of a successful conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations.

Government figures have been surprised at how rapidly the Indian economy has grown, although the country is experiencing political problems. The Indian Government lurched towards crisis over the weekend as left-wing parties threatened to walk away from the ruling coalition unless the country's civilian nuclear deal with Washington was scrapped.

Apart from the obvious synergy in energy trade, the familiar common-law system in India, and its dazzling success in IT, mean that an FTA should also provide enormous opportunities for Australian companies in the services sector.

This could be worth billions of dollars to Australia.

The submission regarding India contains a raft of specific initiatives, and is designed to elevate the India relationship to a core element in Australia's international orientation, along with the US, Japan, China and Indonesia.

As well as attempting to negotiate an FTA with India, Canberra will continue its fully fledged engagement in the quadrilateral talks involving the US, Japan and India, despite Chinese opposition.

The Cabinet submission recognises India's growing importance to Australia, given its growing economic and strategic power. It also notes India's increased engagement with East Asia and the Pacific and Australia's rapidly growing trade ties.

The submission contains a series of specific proposals to enhance relations. Apart from allowing the export of uranium - approval for which was announced last week by John Howard - these include formal and active diplomatic support for India's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

This is a move that indicates Canberra's elevation of India to core relationship status. Australia has been a long supporter of Japan becoming a permanent member of the Security Council and the Howard Government in the past has also suggested Indonesia should acquire such status. The other two core relationships are with countries that are already permanent members - the US and China.

Much of the submission is devoted to the sale of energy to India. Given India's rapid economic growth, energy security is becoming as important to India as it is to China and Japan. The submission envisages elevating the joint working group on minerals and energy to ministerial level, as a key tool in managing the energy relationship.

The submission contains a wide range of proposals for enhanced security co-operation. Chief among these are joint naval exercises, as well as intensified co-operation in counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, all aspects of maritime security and greater engagement on border and transport security.

A permanent presence in New Delhi by the Australian Federal Police is also being sought. All these recommendations were accepted by cabinet.

Australia is also looking at establishing an Indian studies centre that would parallel the American Studies Centre, which is being set up at Sydney University.

Similarly, it is giving consideration to the establishment of an Australia-India forum for government, business and other leaders to promote bilateral co-operation. This would follow the example of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue.

The Government will move to provide more legal co-operation mechanisms. It wants to strengthen the education, training and science relationship, including the provision of more scholarships for Indian students to study in Australia.

Federal Cabinet does not yet believe Australians fully recognise the dimensions of Indian economic growth, nor their vast implications for Australia.

According to Cabinet figures, India will this year become Australia's fourth-largest export market, and Australian exports to India have been growing at more than 30 per cent a year throughout this decade. India is Australia's fastest growing export market, growing faster even than China.

India is also Australia's second largest source of overseas students and long-stay business visitors.

The Government has identified mining, agriculture, services and investment as sectors for potential large-scale expansion in Australian trade with India.

Similarly, the Cabinet submission recognises that India is increasingly central to global issues such as climate change.

The raft of actions to which Cabinet has committed has the potential to transform the Australia-India relationship.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 20th, 2007, 01:18 AM   #92
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We can't afford to miss New Delhi express
Greg Sheridan
The Australian, Australia
August 20, 2007

AUSTRALIA'S turn towards India is as important and nationally defining as were the pioneering of a trade relationship with Japan in the 1950s and the opening towards China in the 1980s.

It is the new frontier of Australia in Asia, and its potential is vast. Unlike Japan, India is not a former enemy. Unlike China, India is a parliamentary democracy. Then there's cricket.

India lies at the heart of all the great issues of our time -- globalisation, the fight against entrenched poverty, global warming, the fight against Islamist extremism, nuclear weapons proliferation, democracy in Asia, democracy in poor countries.

Geographically, India's surging economy, military strength and huge population -- it will in a few short years overtake China as the world's most populous nation and its age profile is substantially younger than China's -- makes it a strategic player in South and Central Asia. It is increasingly engaged in the Middle East and, of course, in East Asia.

If India, already a global leader in IT, pulls off its peaceful nuclear co-operation deal with the US, it will leap ahead even further in technology transfer.
India has undergone a domestic and foreign policy revolution every bit as profound as that which China has undertaken since 1979.

But there is less intellectual glamour in studying the open, accessible, necessarily untidy processes of Indian democracy than there are in apparently unlocking the gnostic secrets of Sinology, so the Australian foreign policy commentariat is way behind the curve on India and its growing economic and strategic importance.

This is why one of the federal cabinet's most promising decisions is to fund a full-scale Indian studies centre at an Australian university.

There are already some good university resources devoted to studying India but they need a massive infusion of resources if Australia is to have the intellectual firepower to match its national needs.
Similarly, the Government has decided to increase consular resources in the southern Indian city of Chennai, and to increase diplomatic resources to India generally. This should be followed by an immediate decision to make Hindi a priority language in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

All of this presents a serious dilemma for Labor. The most important part of our new engagement with India will be selling India uranium for its peaceful nuclear industry.

Labor's anachronistic opposition to this, on the mistaken basis that it will weaken nuclear non-proliferation even though India has never engaged in any nuclear proliferation to a foreign nation, puts it against a fundamental interest of Australia in Asia.

It is as though Labor has reversed what it believes are the historic positions of itself and the Coalition. Now Labor is standing against a fundamental new engagement in Asia which the Coalition is championing.

This partly results from Labor being so long in Opposition, which breeds a reliance on ideology rather than being fully in touch with the world as it really is. It also tends towards opposition to any change to the status quo.

But the Indian express is leaving the station. The only good place for us is on board.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 20th, 2007, 06:34 PM   #93
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Call centre on track to create 1,000 jobs in North Ireland
Evening Echo, Ireland
20/08/2007 - 12:00:21 PM

An Indian-owned call centre company set up in the North a year ago is well ahead of schedule in creating 1,000 jobs, it announced today.

Firstsource set up its first base in Belfast last August and another in Derry in December promising to deliver the jobs total in 2008.

“We are well ahead of schedule with 950 jobs created so far,” said Sean Canning, Firstsource’s UK operations director as the company celebrated its first anniversary in Belfast.

He said it was a tremendous achievement and paid testimony to the hard work of the staff and the availability of talented people.

“We are delighted to be here at a time when the economy is expanding and to be making a valuable contribution to that economy as a whole and in Belfast and Derry in particular.”

Firstsource is one of India’s leading business process outsourcing [BPO] service providers and employs over 15,000 people worldwide – with operations in India, the US, UK, Argentina and Philippines.

Mr Canning said: “It’s significant that in the recent quarterly results announced by Firstsource globally, the Northern Ireland operation was stated as having made a significant contribution.

“So it’s good news for Northern Ireland, our staff , our shareholders and, of source, our customers.”

Firstsource was the first India-based BPO to directly invest in the North and it said many of its management positions had been filled by internal local promotions.

“We are committed to excellence, investing in our staff, offering strong careers and rewarding endeavour, and that is reflected in our ability to recruit ahead of schedule.

“The opportunity to move up the career ladder is an important consideration for many people when they choose to work here,” said Mr Canning.

The company progress in such as short time was very encouraging for the future, he said. “Northern Ireland is certainly living up to our expectations of a highly talented and skilled workforce and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with the region.”

The Belfast centre, he revealed, had recently been shortlisted for two national customer awards and both it and Derry have achieved certification for information security.

The company specialises in servicing customers in banking and finance, telecom and media, travel and transportation and healthcare.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 21st, 2007, 03:54 PM   #94
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Progress in sight for a greener India
Rob Cockerill
gasworld.com
20 Aug 2007

After it had seemed that the future of a hydrogen vehicle economy in India was stalling, as recently reported in Gasworld, it appears that Indian vehicle manufacturers are teaming up with international firms and investing in research into commercially viable greener transport technologies.

Joining the global race to make less-polluting, greener vehicles, India is encouraging the use of bio-fuels made from renewable sources for greater energy security and emission reduction.

Conventional petrol and diesel engines are used overwhelmingly in passenger and commercial vehicles in the country, yet cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are gaining in popularity, though curtailed by limited availability.

A decade since Toyota Motor Corp launched the hybrid Prius, Indian firms from Tata Motors Ltd to Reva are testing options from bio-diesel to hybrids and are encouraged to do so by the rising demand. The region's top utility vehicle maker, Mahindra & Mahindra, has a concept 3-wheeler that uses compressed gaseous hydrogen and is studying the feasibility of hydrogen internal combustion engines and fuel cells with Shell.

Reva Electric Car Co. recently received $20m in venture capital funding and is doubling output this year to 6,000 units, of which half will be exported. Deputy chairman Chetan Maini said, "Our growth is a combination of greater consumer interest and stricter government regulations overseas."

Progress of this type in the country may be delayed slightly by legislation and a lack of government policy and incentives, though analysts are thought to expect vehicle manufacturers not to be deterred.

V G Ramakrishnan, director of Frost & Sullivan's automotive practice, supported this as he commented, "These firms have global ambitions, and are able to invest big and are willing to partner firms for technology."
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 21st, 2007, 04:04 PM   #95
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The big, fat Indian arranged wedding
Earthtimes.org
Posted : Tue, 21 Aug 2007 05:15:07 GMT

New Delhi - Post-liberalization money and online meeting grounds are empowering couples in big cities in India to arrange, assist or guide their marriage, while some parents complain about Westernization and the emotional independence of Indian youth. "Young people are unstoppable these days. They want a dating allowance and bring their boyfriends and girlfriends home," says Renu Puri, a Mumbai-based mother of two married sons.

"And when it comes to settling down, they are so sure about the partner they want. Nowadays they fall in love, inform us of their intentions, and parents scurry around getting the two families together and arranging their wedding," adds Puri.

In India, all roads lead to marriage. Upbringing, education, career, starting a family early, settling down, children - all point to a wedding - mostly an arranged one.

"Men and women in big cities are generally earning quite well, often date and are better informed. They are changing the equations of a typical arranged marriage. Children have as much leeway as their family," says Vijiya Ramaswamy, 48, a university professor of sociology.

"They put their profiles on matrimonial sites, surf on chat sites and even take out advertisements in newspapers. Many are not interested in the intricacies of cast, location, family antecedents or matching horoscopes. They no longer want to depend on their family to find the right partner," adds Ramaswamy.

"I found my life partner after surfing matrimonial websites. I met a few women and once I arrived at the right one, we went for a courtship period of six months," says Pawan Singal, whose mother's marriage was decided by her father. He sounded out the local barber and grocer (an age-old custom in the 60's and before) for the right match.

Online matrimonial sites replicate traditional Indian techniques. Family members, friends of those seeking alliance, and even office colleagues are making profiles and search on the basis of dietary habits to green-card status (for US citizenship).

The top two Indian matrimony sites, Bharatmatrimony.com and Shaadi.com, no doubt eyeing the 10-billion-dollars annual wedding pie, have 12.5 million paying members combined - with many more as non-paying members.

"In an arranged marriage, marital partners are chosen by others based on considerations other than the pre-existing mutual attraction of the partners," says Venkat Gopinath, an advocate who helps people in a court marriage and divorce cases.

"Today people are earning more, travel abroad and are not afraid of angering their family by going on the hunt on their own. So there are fresh considerations like compatibility of sensibilities, occupation,and sexual synergy. From family the emphasis is shifting to the individual," adds Gopinath.

With Indian society turning more capitalist than feudal-socialist, joint families, once the norm, are breaking up into nuclear ones and are are affecting arranged marriages.

"Arranged or love, marriages in cities are no longer sedate affairs. Market economy has taken over. There's almost a Elizabethan-like display of power and wealth. Double incomes, career pressure, and the decision to live in a joint or a nuclear family is changing the dynamics of choosing a partner," says Ramaswamy.

Some parents are concerned that customs associated with an arranged marriage are getting eroded.

"Things have changed a lot since the last 10 years. Women are earning so much now and are more emotionally independent. They are getting Westernized and forgetting our culture," says Kapil Berry, a father of a two daughters, who are unmarried and in high-flying careers.

"The traditional Hindu marriage ceremony involves chanting of sanskrit hymns in front of fire for 3-4 hours; the bride and bridegroom are not allowed to meet a few days preceeding marriage, and marrying outside one's caste is not allowed. People are giving all this a miss. This can affect a marriage," says Berry.

While Krishan Kaura, a grandfather, finds the increasing trend of living together, which one of his children is into, incomprehensible, and beneath Indian culture.

"Sure there are dangers in living together. I am financially independent and I want to make sure I know my partner well, be it interests or sexual compatibility, before taking the final plunge. A courtship period in an arranged set-up is not enough," says Garima, Kaura's daughter.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 21st, 2007, 04:34 PM   #96
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Skilled Indian workers shunning Bahrain jobs
By MARK SUMMERS
Gulf Daily News, Bahrain

MANAMA: India's booming economy could have severe consequences for Bahraini firms as skilled Indian workers stay home for better wages, experts have told GDN.The former president of the Bahrain-based Kerala Engineers Forum and consultant at a top engineering firm T M Haridasan has already revealed shortages of engineers are leading many firms to increase their prices to customers in order to offer better salaries - a practice he said is becoming necessary in a number of fields including IT and healthcare.

"We are facing a lot of problems nowadays - not on the unskilled side where the payment is less but on the skilled side.

"I currently have a requirement for about 12 engineers in Bahrain in various fields. Also in the IT field, the payment is good back in India.

"Many Indians are simply not willing to come to the Gulf now - we went there and offered them (jobs) but the payment structure here is not attractive and expenses are rising very sharply. If companies are ready to pay more then they may opt for that," he explained.

Mr Haridasan said Bahrain's policy of pegging the dinar to the US dollar was not helping matters.

"The present situation is the dollar has devalued a lot but the Bahrain currency is still pegged with the dollar and that also affects us and means I am losing around 15 to 20pc of my income.

"In India it was 47 rupees for a dollar and now it is less than 40 - but here it is still pegged with the dollar and I don't get to take advantage of that benefit. Only Kuwait has been bold enough to come out and revalue their currency against the dollar - and the expatriates there are getting the benefit of that," he said.

He also revealed as the numbers of Indian workers coming to the region starts to dwindle shortages of skilled workers is forcing those currently in the Gulf to shuttle between locations as and when their expertise is needed.

"Those are in the Gulf are shuttling between. They are switching from Dubai to Bahrain and Bahrain back to Dubai. But new entrants in the Gulf are very limited in the promotional and technical fields because India is fast developing in these areas - even in the construction field people are getting good offers as well as other benefits and they have the advantage of working in their own country," he said.

Such shortages are starting to impact on the bottom line of many firms in Bahrain, he said.

"There is a knock on effect as workers raise wages to try and tempt workers - in our industry we have a situation we have an escalation in our tenders of 20pc compared to two years back," he said.

Labour Ministry assistant undersecretary for training Ahmed Al Banna also acknowledged attracting skilled Indian workers was proving more difficult - but said this situation would offer more opportunities for Bahrainis.

"We have difficulties in technical areas - accountants, IT technicians, engineering, quantity surveyors, and in the ministry we have a lot of problems providing civil engineers for companies," he admitted.

"In the coming period there are a couple of issues going to take place in the job market which are going to provide opportunities for Bahrainis.

"In India, they are trying to upgrade salaries and this could lead to a scarcity of Indian nationals in the fields of IT, healthcare, engineering, and accountancy.

"What is happening with regard to the work permits in Bahrain, with the new LMRA taking over will start a new trend. The Labour Fund is working hard in investing more money in the development of Bahrainis. All these issues plus the demand with the continued growth of the economy will make some of these jobs really attractive to Bahrainis and there will be more opportunities for Bahrainis to take over from Indian workers," he said.

However, he acknowledged that among some Bahrainis there was little understanding of the rewards that some technical disciplines could offer.

"If you look at the unemployed, if you break them down, there are not many university graduates and if there are they are in the humanities fields not engineers and accountants and so on.

Bahrainis have to be very aware - normally when we tell them about the technical programmes they just see the job of a technician. But if you start as a technician you might be a GM one day," he said.
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 02:26 PM   #97
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Bollywood nights
A generation of South Asians melds a new cultural mix
Detroit Metro Times, MI

No vivid splashes of pink. No monsoon-drenched damsels. No lab coats, no spicy curry, no "Thank you, come again!"

It's a crowd of popped collars and kohl-rimmed eyes tonight, of diamond nose studs and hair gel en masse. Timid onlookers smoke cigarettes and drink in the scene; a few couples grind in corners, eyes locked, hips matching the up-tempo. But most are dancing Bhangra, their palms flexed, their arms outstretched, their shoulders bouncing up and down.

The bartender's brown, the bouncer's brown, the party-goers, brown — this scene reflects the growing South Asian population in the greater Detroit area.

A DJ spins a favorite — "Dhoom machaale, dhoom machaale, dhoom!" ("Cause an uproar!") And the crowd in the Farmington Hills club echoes, whistling and clapping to a — well, hip hop-tinged Bollywood beat.

The stereotypes

The general perception of South Asians — those with origins in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka — has been imbued with stereotype for years. (The stereotypes are everywhere — try, "Dr. Science purchased his pre-arranged wife for the low price of two buffalos. They danced in the rain and lived happily ever after, but only after seven or eight show-stopping tunes.") But in the past decade or so, a noticeable shift has occurred in this country. East has met West, and a lovechild is well on the way — because South Asian pop culture (stereotypes and all) is getting romanced, accepted, by the American mainstream, and vice versa.

We begin, after all, at Bollywood Night in Farmington Hills' Bombay Grille — a typical desi, or South Asian, party. Staid upscale Indian restaurant by day, the place is transformed at night into a venue for DJs to play Punjabi Bhangra music and songs from Bollywood hits. Parties such as this one have been going on for more than two decades in metro Detroit's thriving South Asian community.

Bollywood is the multibillion-dollar movie industry of India, producing hundreds of films annually (Lagaan, Dilwale Dulhenia Le Jayenge) — and with the recent trends of globalization, anyone in the world can have direct access to desi culture. The fashion, the music, even the movies themselves, have influenced designers, musicians and artists in the Western world.

It's a burgeoning phenomenon that's still in its infancy — we still don't see any South Asian Madonnas sweeping the nation — but it reflects an interesting paradox among second- and third-generation American desis today. Because though South Asian-Americans are maintaining a strong connection to "the motherland" and try to adhere to certain values and traditions ("Study hard, marry soon, believe in God"), life here, much like the Farmington Hills party, can't be all "Bollywood": The music isn't only desi. The crowd isn't always monochromatic. And the love scenes — well, they aren't always chaste.

"In one sense, South Asians have this homogenized identity in America," says Ram Mahalingam, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Michigan who studies South Asian immigrant populations. "It's superimposed — we're only seen as doctors, as engineers, as convenience store and motel owners — and often, only interpret ourselves as such.

"But the mainstream perception is clearly changing, as are trends of assimilation, which is why this 'Bollywood phenomenon' is so fascinating."

I got love for Punjab but I'm from the D

"You're Indian?" the boy asks. "Always thought you was Arabic or somethin'."

Rapper Kidd Skilly smiles indulgently, leaning back on a maroon leather couch in a Corktown recording studio, and turns to his producer Helluva's son. The boy's not far off — Skilly's face is framed by a 'do rag, baseball cap and bling, and with his immaculately trimmed facial hair and lightly tanned skin, he indeed looks like he could easily be mistaken for another race.

"What, you think they call me Indian Jay for nothin'?"

Kidd Skilly's a Detroit example of a stereotype-shattering American desi: Half-Mexican, half-Indian. He's been rapping for about a decade.

The 26-year-old Skilly grew up on the southwest side of Detroit. The youngest of three siblings, his parents divorced when he was 5, and he was raised primarily by his Punjabi father. His father taught him the Hindi and Punjabi languages, as well as respect for Indian music and culture — which influenced his decision to meld hip hop and desi music. Skilly injects Punjabi and Hindi phrases into many of his lyrics, plays the guitar, and uses flute and harmonium melodies often set to the beat of tabla or dhol drums.

His latest music video, "Bhangra Chick," is a tightly produced, over-the-top blend of genres. The video incorporates a booty-shakin' belly dancer, an ebullient Michigan Bhangra dance team, a dhol-and-harmonium-jammin' Sikh, and of course, a thugged-out "Bhangra Chick."

With the ethnic dancers and the scantily clad beauties, just about every desi stereotype is featured. It's clear Skilly's working the commercial angles here, to attract a wider audience and keep the one he has.

But outside of the garishly catchy pop gimmick seen in "Bhangra Chick," Skilly waxes philosophical about his influences and the issues that "matter."

He performs spoken word weekly at Detroit's Beans and Bytes coffee shop to improve his lyricism, and draws influence as much from African-American poet Maya Angelou as he does from Shiv Kumar Batalvi, a Punjabi poet.

"There is something about great personalities with poetic souls that fascinates me," he says. "The people who influence me most seem to transcend through age groups, religions, ethnicity and race — they make people feel a certain level of comfort."

His favorite song that he's written, "Let's Talk About Something," is an attempt to air his personal beliefs. Though it hasn't been completed yet, he "talks about" self-identity and South Asians breaking stereotypes. He goes on to contemplate the lack of content in mainstream hip hop — even delving into the flaws of his own music. Finally, he raps about "stuff that really matters" — ranging from the evils of tobacco moguls to the war in Iraq.

But Skilly admits it's a delicate interplay between rapping about things that matter to him and what appeals to an audience.

"You've got to brand yourself, play the commercial game," he says like some music-biz-hardened emcee. "I used to be more of a conscious rapper, but being in the music industry — especially when you're atypical, like me, a South Asian — you need to make strategic moves to get noticed."

Skilly has strategic aims to break into the mainstream American audience. He says that he is collaborating with such artists as Akon and Snoop Dogg, and he hopes to create a broader appeal for his music.

In that vein, he worked on a music video with Indian-American porn star Sunny Leone. Leone, a former Penthouse Pet is a true defier of stereotype if there ever was one — desi parents, in particular, value the sanctity of the loins. But Skilly canned the project in post-production.

"I didn't want to be one of those people who had to use someone like Sunny Leone to sell my video," Skilly says. "No disrespect to her — she's cool — but I didn't feel comfortable with it.

"I mean, I feel responsible for the stuff I put out there — I get 11- and 12-year-olds listening to me. What would I telling them if I couldn't sell my video on my own merit?"

And he's gaining a loyal fan base, across the globe, packing venues when performing for the desi crowd. The comments on his MySpace site say much:

"heyyy thnx for tha add your musiq is tha shizz =D xo" writes a 16-year-old girl from Melbourne, Australia.

"eyyyy i like ur music!!!! u have a great voice n i rly like the song nachna!!!!" writes another girl, also 16, from California.

"The majority of my fans are South Asian, they very well might always be South Asian," he says. "But with my latest projects, especially the song 'Ni Sohniye' with Akon, I think we might get a chance some mainstream airplay.

"There's a gap in the music scene right now — and I think that the time's right to introduce a new type of hip hop."

Evolution

A January 2007 report by investment bank Goldman Sachs indicated that within a decade, the Indian economy could surpass France, Italy and the United Kingdom — making it the fifth strongest in the world. By 2050, it's hypothesized that India could overtake even the United States, falling second only to China.

This is making the country, for the lack of a better word, sexy.

Fancier cars congest the already-packed streets, shopping malls boast upgrades to the latest luxury — basically, life is becoming increasingly lavish as the standard of living in India skyrockets. And so, in turn, prospers the already-flourishing Indian film industry.

Keep in mind that the allure of Bollywood has never escaped starry-eyed American desis: Bollywood rock concerts have toured the country for years, showcasing lip-synching Hindi superstars, such as actor Shah Rukh Khan and actress Madhuri Dixit during spectacular stage shows. There are flashy song-and-dance numbers, Technicolor pyrotechnics and staged downpours for buxom actresses to fulfill the ultimate Bollywood promise — that is, true to stereotype, a frolic in the rain.

So by combining newly acquired Indian wealth with the unquenchable Western desi demand, the film industry has capitalized. For instance, according to an Aug. 14 Forbes story, the Indian production company UTV Motion Pictures "now sees close to 20 percent of its revenues from overseas markets and plans to increase that to 50 percent over the next two years." Bollywood films like Dil Chahta Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Asoka line the shelves in suburban Blockbuster video stores; such celebrities as former Miss Universe Aishwarya Rai are accepting roles in Western-made films like Bride and Prejudice.

To an extent, the media are opening up to South Asians. But somehow, beyond the heritage-denying Freddie Mercury (his birth name? Farrokh Bulsara) and Ravi Shankar's nominally Indian daughter Norah Jones, few desi musicians have truly made it to the American mainstream.

"I'm a Desi Who Isn't Planning On Being ...

... a Doctor or an Engineer or Running a Dunkin' Donuts."

That's the name of a forum for Indians on the social networking site Facebook, and the bookish stereotype holds true: According to a 2005 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 2.9 million desis, around 100,000 of them living in Michigan. And nearly 50,000 are South Asian physicians, which is a fairly significant number, considering that few South Asians were permitted to enter the country until the late '60s.

A brief history: The first influx of South Asian immigrants arrived in America during the first decade of the 20th century. About 10,000 Sikhs from Punjab, mostly male, worked as laborers on California farmland. In 1917 the Barred Zone Act was passed, which banned all Asians from entering this country. According to the American Immigration Law foundation, "by 1940 half of the Asian Indian population had left the country, leaving only 2,405."

However, influenced by the civil rights movement, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, which allowed immigrants — professionals, in particular — to obtain visas to enter the country.

"There was actually a shortage of medical professionals by the '50s and '60s," Mahalingam says. "So immigration quotas were finally eliminated to attract foreign doctors and engineers."

So a large percentage of South Asian parents passed their expectations of accomplishment onto their children. Because, by and large, the desis who were able to immigrate to this country did so with great pains — often, they came from less-privileged backgrounds. India hasn't always housed the Silicon Valley of the East, and lifestyles have never been as luxurious as they are these days — so in order to secure a visa, it was paramount a couple of decades ago for South Asians to demonstrate either brilliant scholarship or unerring hard work.

And they, in turn, spawned a further generation of overachievers.

"From the typical Indian parents' point of view, if their children don't become engineers or doctors, they'll never get a job, and they'll starve," Mahalingam says. "That's how it is in India, so parents will often dissuade their children from pursuing 'soft' interests — including art."

Mahalingam studies the repercussions felt by immigrant families, in what's dubbed the "Model Minority Myth." He says the social competition among South Asians in America is much more intense, thanks, in part, to the ever-elusive "American Dream" — leading to elevated depression, anxiety, even rising suicide rates.

"It's very interesting — the Asian students in my Immigration Studies class — will almost always have a double major," Mahalingam says. "One highly technical major, like pre-medicine or computer science — and another enjoyable major, such as fine art or sociology, for themselves. I've heard of many bitter disputes that have been caused by this."

It's this quiet rebellion that has equipped later generations to better pursue alternate career paths — in writing, in politics, in music.

"These second-generation South Asians — the children of immigrants who came over in the '70s and '80s, have been incredibly active," Mahalingam continues. "These people, in their 20s and 30s, have formed a new identity entirely."

Pressure drop

Kidd Skilly's manager, Amit Dharmani, might be considered the product of such pressure. He's a University of Michigan grad, with a double major in computer science and biology. But at 26 years old, he laughs when he admits his dearest ambition: To be the next Russell Simmons, who became enormously wealthy by helping to take what was considered strictly black music — rap and hip hop — into suburbia, into the heads of millions of white kids.

Dharmani started DJing when he was 13, becoming slowly acquainted with the ins and outs of music production. Because by the '90s, this was already an established scene; in Michigan, the primary outlets for Indian music were niche gatherings — themed festivals, private concerts, weddings. And the entertainment was always provided by DJs.

One such DJ was Jack Sandhu, who's now an entrepreneur in the Detroit area and one of the organizers of the Festival of India in Hart Plaza. "I started DJing at desi weddings in the '80s," he says. "Back then, not too many people were doing it. But I'd play Bollywood hits, and all the aunties and uncles would dance. It was all very self-contained at first — but we got popular, fast."

Dharmani did the same. He progressed to party promotion, and after deferring acceptance to medical school twice, he decided to pursue a career as a music producer. Dharmani now holds a "day job" as a computer scientist in Florida, with which he helps back Skilly's projects, and the two have plans to diversify.

Dharmani talks of the rise in hip hop's popularity among South Asians: "I'd say that people over the age of 22 are pretty skeptical of the hip-hop world — particularly the South Asian hip-hop world," Dharmani says. "But then, you look at the younger generations — the kids that are 13 to 21 — and they've grown up with hip hop around them. They're more accepting of it.

"If you look at it this way — 10 years ago, every Indian guy, myself included, wanted to be a DJ," he continues. "That was accepted, because 10 years before that, in the '80s, the first Indian DJs began spinning. It's pretty much a linear progression."

Dharmani and Skilly want to reach out to more diverse audiences. One way is by finding more accessible venues, with better acoustics and capacity, to line up performances. And they want to organize cross-country tours with other like-minded performers — like British-Indian R&B performer Jay Sean and Indian-Canadian pop artist Raghav.

"My goal is basically to take the South Asian scene, which is leading in almost all aspects in the U.S. — in engineering, medicine, management — and reintroduce them to music," Dharmani says. "It's strange that South Asians in the U.S. shy away from it, even though we have such a rich history in both music and entertainment."

Full disclosure

This writer is an Indian. Born, though not brought up — friends call me a "coconut." Brown on the outside, white on the inside.

Don't get me wrong, I've paid dues; I've worked hard to accept and understand the Indian culture. I've danced Bhangra, albeit poorly. I've eaten with my hands, and dribbled. I've seen a lakh of Indian movies — with subtitles — and I've definitely felt the pressures of the Model Minority Myth. (In my case, to the chagrin of my parents, it certainly is a myth.)

My parents, both psychiatrists, came to this country entirely on merit. They struggled through impossible situations to secure a comfortable life in the United States. And I, like a typical American, took things for granted.

But it's been daunting, living in the shadow of geniuses, if you will. The pressures of living up to the Model Minority standard have eaten at me, as they have many of my peers. It's easy to succumb to the "Be a doctor or suffer hellish consequences" — even if they aren't explicitly imposed upon you. I was initially on the pre-med track, but floundered, flopped, then found my footing again — in the writing biz. Surely, I'll starve.

But I witness these changes among South Asians of my generation, and I'm proud. I'm proud that my best friend from childhood, Anisha Nagarajan, was the lead in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bollywood Dreams. I'm proud that the stories of our childhoods can win Pulitzer Prizes, and I'm proud that we have musicians like Skilly representin' both Punjab and the D.

In short, it seems to me that South Asians across the country are maturing. Not just in the literal sense — elder generations are, indeed, battling a scourge of bloating waistlines and Type 2 diabetes. But you're seeing more Anishas. More Skillys. Our aptly labeled generation of "American-born Confused Desis" is coming into its own. We're expanding the scope of our dreams. And as the song goes, "Dhoom machaale, dhoom machaale, dhoom" — we're gonna make some noise.
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 06:05 PM   #98
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Indian immigration helped US more than US aid did to India: Study

Date: Wednesday , August 22, 2007

Washington: India may have provided more in intellectual capital to the US just over the last decade than all of the financial aid the US has given to India over the last 60 years, says an Indian American entrepreneur researcher who has done a study on the immigration issue.

"So one may ask - who's helping who, here," said Delhi born Vivek Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur currently working as Wertheim Fellow at Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University on the release of the study Wednesday by Kauffman Foundation.

But for the first time in its history the US faces the prospect of a reverse brain drain because of its flawed immigration policies, says the study, the third in a series of studies focusing on immigrants' contributions to the competitiveness of the US economy.

The US should bring in highly skilled immigrants not as temporary workers but to stay if it does not want to lose them to countries like India and China, the study suggests.

The study is co-authored by Guillermina Jasso, professor of sociology at New York University, Ben Rissing and Gary Gereffi research scholars at Duke University and Richard Freeman, Herbert Asherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University.

Noting that the number of skilled workers waiting for visas is significantly larger than the number that can be admitted to the US, it says this imbalance creates the potential for a sizeable reverse brain-drain from America to the skilled workers' home countries.

The study estimated "there are more than one million individuals waiting in line for legal permanent resident status. The wait time for visas for countries with the largest populations, like India and China, ranged to four years in June - not counting visa processing time - and may be even higher when visas are again available in October.

This backlog is likely to increase substantially, given the limited number of visas available, it said. Evidence from the "New Immigrant Survey" indicates that approximately one in five new legal immigrants and about one in three employment principals either plan to leave the US or are uncertain about remaining.

Moreover, media reports suggest that increasing numbers of skilled workers have begun to return home to countries like India and China where the economies are booming, the study noted.

"So far, the US has the benefit of attracting the worlds best and brightest. They have typically come here for the freedom and economic opportunities that America offers," said Wadhwa.

"Now, because of our flawed immigration policies, we have not set the stage for the departure of hundreds of thousands of highly skilled professionals - who we have trained in our technology, techniques and markets and made even more valuable.

"This is lose-lose for the US. Our corporations lose key talent that is contributing to innovation and competitiveness, and we end up creating potential competitors," he said.

Wadhwa said he was by no means advocating an expansion of the numbers of H-1B visas for skilled workers. "In fact, part of this problem has been created by our expanding the numbers of temporary workers we admit and not increasing the numbers of permanent resident visas."

Noting that the focus of the immigration debate in US has been on the plight of the unskilled workers who have entered the country illegally, he said If Washington waited five years to reform the immigration system, the illegal and unskilled will still be here as these poor people have few options.

"But the highly educated and skilled - who are fuelling economic growth and contributing significantly to US global competitiveness will be long gone. They are in even more demand in countries like India and China than they are in the US. Our loss will be the gain of their home countries," Wadhwa said.

Key findings:

* Foreign nationals residing in the US were named as inventors or co-inventors in 25.6 percent of international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006, up from 7.6 percent in 1998.

* In 2006, 16.8 percent of international patent applications from the United States had an inventor or co-inventor with a Chinese-heritage name, representing an increase from 11.2 percent in 1998.

* The contribution of inventors with Indian-heritage names increased to 13.7 percent from 9.5 percent in the same period.

* While Chinese inventors tended to reside in California, New Jersey, and New York, Indian inventors chose California, New Jersey, and Texas.

* Both Indian and Chinese inventors tended to file most patents in the fields of sanitation/medical preparations, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and electronics, according to the study.

* Foreign nationals and foreign residents contributed to more than half of the international patents filed by a number of large, multi-national companies

* These included: Qualcomm (72 percent), Merck & Co. (65 percent), General Electric (64 percent), Siemens (63 percent), and Cisco (60 percent).

* Foreign nationals contributed to relatively smaller numbers of international patent applications at other firms, such as Microsoft (3 percent) and General Motors (6 percent).

* Forty-one percent of the patents filed by the US government had foreign nationals or foreign residents as inventors or co-inventors.

* Foreign nationals' contribution was the highest in California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 07:17 PM   #99
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Indian drug market to reach $20B
India's fast-growing economy, expansion in health care insurance and infrastructure, to grow national drug sales to triple by 2015.
By Aaron Smith
CNNMoney.com staff writer
August 22 2007: 11:59 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Indian drug market is expected to triple in size by 2015, to $20 billion in annual sales, according to a report released Wednesday by international consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

The report said India will undergo a "significant transformation" to become one of the top 10 pharmaceutical markets in the next decade.

The country's fast-growing economy, with an enviable GDP growth of 8 percent, is expected to be a key factor in driving the pharma market. The report said that 40 percent of the projected growth can be attributed to the doubling of disposable incomes and the expansion of the Indian middle class.

In addition, improvements in medical infrastructure - like rural hospitals and clinics - would contribute to 20 percent of the projected growth, while the strengthening of health insurance within the country would contribute to 15 percent of the growth, the report said.

India is already home to of the world's most prominent makers of generic drugs - Dr. Reddy's Laboratories (up $0.31 to $15.53, Charts) and Ranbaxy Laboratories (down $0.32 to $8.57, Charts) - which compete with U.S.-based makers of name-brand drugs like Merck & Co., Inc. (up $0.56 to $50.33, Charts, Fortune 500) and Pfizer Inc. (up $0.29 to $24.53, Charts, Fortune 500)

But to fuel more growth in the Indian pharma market, the national government should lend a helping hand, said study co-author and McKinsey director Gautam Kumra.

Kumra said the Indian government needs to create an infrastructure to expand healthcare throughout the country, to rural hospitals and clinics. He said the government should also do more to support R&D and health insurance coverage.

Kumra said that 90 percent of the Indian population is uninsured and must pay out-of-pocket for pharmaceuticals and healthcare services. Helping to accelerate the growth of private insurers in India would drive up drug sales, he said.

But Kumra added that there are formidable challenges to expanding health insurance in the country, because many Indian workers are in the hard-to-reach "unorganized sector," which includes subsistence farming and cottage industries.
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"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 07:33 PM   #100
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Back office to the world
Financial Times, UK
Published: August 20, 2007, 23:37

This year, a rumour swept through the global stock markets that the information technology services outsourcing industry was about to witness the deal of the century.

According to the speculation, Infosys Technologies, India's number two outsourcing group, was contemplating buying France's Capgemini, a deal that would for the first time combine the back office strengths of India with the front-end firepower of a western IT consulting giant.

The rumours turned out apparently to be just that, baseless speculation. But the fact they were taken seriously at all is itself testament to the amazing achievements of India's IT services outsourcing industry.

From virtually zero little more than a decade ago, India has emerged as the global hub of the outsourcing industry. The sector has become in the process the most important driver of the country's economic emergence.

"There may be some people who claim they foresaw this happening," says Lakshmi Narayanan, vice-chairman of Cognizant, the IT outsourcing company, and chairman of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the sectoral industry body.

"But even when we started Cognizant, in 1994, we never thought that in 10 years we'd become a billion dollar company."

India's IT outsourcing sector has its roots in the liberalisation of the telecom market in the early 1990s, which ushered in a new era of connectivity.

Indian companies began to realise the potential of using the country's large pool of highly educated English language speakers as a back office for the outside world.

But it was not until 1997-1998, when the world began relying on India to prepare its computer systems for the millennium bug, that the industry came into its own.

Deal-making

This coincided with the frenzied deal-making of the technology bubble era, when Indian entrepreneurs began to emerge on the global stage, such as Sabeer Bhatia, who together with his partner Jack Smith sold hotmail.com to Microsoft in 1997.

Today the industry employs 1.6 million people and handles everything from the IT functions of retailers such as J Sainsbury in the UK to the computer systems of chip manufacturers such as AMD.

Indian companies now also take care of the back office paperwork of almost any type of foreign business or government department imaginable.

But as the industry has matured, so have the challenges, among them the supply of talent. Nasscom calculates the country is facing a shortfall of about 500,000 "skilled knowledge workers" by 2010 unless "remedial action" is taken.

The shortage has led to wage inflation of between 10 and 15 per cent and higher for more experienced and specialised professionals.
__________________
"If I were to look over the whole world to find out a country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow – in some part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India."

"There is no book in the world that is so thrilling, stirring and inspiring as the Upanishads." (‘Sacred Books of the East’)

- Max Muller, German Scholar
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LIVERPOOL RISING scouseyuppie01 Liverpool Metro Area 10 June 14th, 2006 01:16 AM


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