Connect with us

Analysis

Climate change will worsen disparities, may increase support for Naxals: Report

Published

on

Maoists Naxal

Bengaluru, Oct 16 : As the effects of climate change on livelihoods become more pronounced, especially for people involved in agriculture and fishing in South and South-East Asia, support for rebel groups and the Naxalite movement is likely to shoot up, according to a new report.

There is evidence that climate change will worsen socio-economic and political disparity in the region as those in power will get to decide who gets the limited resources and how much, the report, co-authored by researchers Pernilla Nordqvist and Florian Krampe while working for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has said.

“The climate-conflict linkage primarily plays out in contexts that are already vulnerable to climate change and violence, and where income is highly dependent on agriculture and fishing,” Nordqvist told IndiaSpend in an email.

Human activities have already caused warming of 1 degree Celsius as compared to pre-industrial times, according to the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By 2030, or latest by mid-century, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Close to 2.5 billion people live in South and South-East Asia, where poverty rates have been declining substantially, thanks to years of strong economic growth in countries such as India. However, the region is also prone to the fallouts of climate change, with glaciers in the Himalayas melting and several island-countries facing rising sea levels. Floods, cyclones, heat waves and droughts are now a frequent occurrence and are expected to intensify in the coming years.

“The region is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and also has a recent history of political violence,” Krampe told IndiaSpend.

Nordqvist and Krame examined 2,000 peer-reviewed studies on the relationship between climate change and conflict and narrowed down on 21 of the most authoritative works for their report, which was published in September 2018.

Their findings from India show that rebel groups and government forces both find recruitment easier when drought is around the corner.

The IPCC report also adds that climate-related risks to livelihoods, food security, health, water supply and human security are projected to increase as the planet warms by 1.5 degrees. With a 2-degree rise, the risks will intensify.

In some areas affected by the Naxalite conflict, the worsening of livelihood conditions has been related to the increased intensity of ongoing civil conflicts. During a drought, or a potential drought, there is an increased risk that rebels and government actors recruit or cooperate with civilians in exchange for livelihood and provision of food.

Naxalites could use climate-related events to gain power in an ongoing conflict, and rebel groups more generally could increase their use of violence against civilians to ensure their groups’ food security, according to the report.

“They violently remove local farmers from their land to ensure enough cropland and agricultural supplies for their own use. The risk of violence seems especially high in rural areas, where government control is scarce and the local population is dependent on the support or protection of rebels or other armed actors,” Nordqvist said.

As climate change pushes up migration, it introduces the possibility of riots in urban areas over resources, the report said. Highlighting the case of riots in Tripura in northeastern India, it said the effects will be most felt in areas where there are already low levels of socio-political stability.

“Many of the climate change problems are trans-national. The Brahmaputra, for example, flows through three countries and is seeing frequent flooding. There is no question that countries will need to cooperate and tensions like the ones between countries India and Pakistan will make this difficult,” Krampe said.

There is some research on the relationship between climate change and conflict in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the report said, adding that there is little understanding of how climate change could be driving conflict in places such as Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Elsewhere in South-East Asia, in some coastal areas of Indonesia the reduced income opportunities from fishing have been linked to a rise in piracy-related activities.

But the impact does not end there.

In Pakistan, for instance, the Islamist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) was able to increase its stronghold in Sindh province after the group participated in relief activities following extreme floods.

The IPCC report also warns that those living along coasts and populations dependent on agriculture will be the worst hit by climate change, which will push up poverty rates in coastal areas and in developing countries.

However, “Not everyone affected by climate change will join a rebel group but this also relates to the failure of the governments to respond to disasters,” Krampe said.

At the same time, not all areas will see conflict in the face of climate change. Some might even see a greater cooperation in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These regional dynamics are evolving, however, and their contours will only become clearer with time.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Disha Shetty is a Columbia Journalism School-IndiaSpend reporting fellow. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

Analysis

Investment policy: Looking at 2019 and beyond

Published

on

Rupee currency

Given the current economic scenario of India, it would be prudent to have our eyes on the pressing issues that need the attention of the government over the next six years. Policy changes, new policies and an environment that facilitates investment will be vital.

The recent renewable energy auctions, which failed to attract significant bids, bring to the fore the crucial question around price caps. While providing low-cost electricity is essential, so is a sustainable power sector. The issue that merits more debate is whether a free-pricing market with a regulator that ensures no cartels are formed is a better solution in the long run than price caps.

This argument applies not only to renewable energy, but all sectors. Investors in any sector face variable dynamics across a variety of factors ranging from input prices, credit costs, research and development costs and foreign exchange risk. “Pricing” of a product or a service needs to consider all that goes into making or producing the product.

To give an example, drug pricing for a patented drug involves significant research and development costs. Therefore, the price of a drug needs to factor in a fair amount of analysis to determine the price over and above raw materials.

Similarly, for other sectors, it is vital that the rapid pace of growth and expansion can continue so that risk-taking businesses can get rewarded adequately. Extreme measures to control prices can lead to sector problems, thereby discouraging investments and research. Therefore, over the next few years, it is essential to strike a balance between low-cost products and services, and sustainable industry dynamics.

In the financial markets, India needs to further embrace mark-to-market valuations in the corners of the market that still utilise hold-to-maturity accounting. Banks hold certain financial instruments as hold-to-maturity from a regulatory perspective. Besides these instruments, the quicker the rest of the fixed income product universe moves towards mark-to-market regulations the more robust a capital market India will have.

While increased mark-to-market regulations might lead to an initial slowdown in the bond markets, the long-term benefits of a transparent credit pricing market far outweigh any short-term costs. The most significant advantage of stringent mark-to-market regulations will be the ability of market prices to be a better indicator credit risk of products, thereby encouraging effective risk management by investors and financial institutions alike.

Divestment of government assets to create new infrastructure will be crucial. The recent decision to approve the divestment of the government’s stake in the Dredging Corporation of India and the in-principle approval of the PPP model for six airports is a step in the right direction. However, to deliver valuable infrastructure, the government must ensure that non-tax revenue is used to develop infrastructure in the specific sectors where the divestment occurs, or the PPP happens. Enabling infrastructure creation that is industry-specific regarding both the divestment or partnership and in creating new assets will add significant value.

The agriculture sector will require focus with renewed vigour over and above minimum support prices and farm loan waivers. The sector is vital not just to improve the lot of farmers (who are at the riskiest end of the farm-to-fork model) but also to create avenues to feed a sizeable consuming population. The farm-to-fork model is much spoken about and needs a step-wise approach to succeed in the long-run.

A good start would be to choose sub-sectors within agriculture that are amenable to a farm-to-fork model so as to create a “model template”. A farm-to-fork model would involve procuring the original product, processing, storage and transportation, and merchandising the product. Choosing the low-hanging fruit to create templates will help expedite the process. More importantly, user-cases will help spot the gaps within the agricultural supply chain.

Government policies that create an effective pricing environment and avenues for revenue generation to enable investment and infrastructure will be crucial going forward. More importantly, long-term sustainable growth will require a balanced approach to help promote a broad spectrum of sectors such as energy, finance and agriculture.

BY  Taponeel Mukherjee

IANS

 

Continue Reading

Analysis

Denigrating Nehru is like throwing pebbles at a mountain: Shashi Tharoor

Published

on

Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi, Nov 13: Alleging that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its followers lose no opportunity to denigrate Jawaharlal Nehru, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has stated in a new edition of his 2003 book “Nehru: The Invention of India” — scheduled to be launched on Tuesday evening by Sonia Gandhi — that accusing Indias first Prime Minister of “every conceivable sin” is like “throwing pebbles at a mountain”.

“They cannot even begin to dent the scale of his contributions to India. The truth is that Jawaharlal Nehru’s extraordinary life and career is part of the inheritance of every Indian. His impact on India is too great not to be re-examined periodically. His legacy is ours, whether we agree with everything he stood for or not. What we are today, both for good and for ill, we owe in great measure to one man,” Tharoor writes.

He describes Nehru as “a moody, idealist intellectual who felt an almost mystical empathy with the toiling peasant masses; an aristocrat, accustomed to privilege, who had passionate socialist convictions; an Anglicised product of Harrow and Cambridge who spent over 10 years in British jails; an agnostic radical who became an unlikely protégé of the saintly Mahatma Gandhi” and contends that for the first 17 years of India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru’s stature was so great that India seemed inconceivable without him.

Following is an extract from the new Introduction of the book where the author explains Nehru’s contribution in constructing India’s democracy:

It was by no means axiomatic that a country like India, riven by so many internal differences and diversities, beset by acute poverty and torn apart by Partition, would be or remain democratic. Many developing countries found themselves turning in the opposite direction soon after independence, arguing that a firm hand was necessary to promote national unity and guide development. Upon the Mahatma’s assassination in 1948, just five months after Independence, Nehru became the keeper of the national flame, the most visible embodiment of India’s struggle for freedom.

Gandhi’s death could have led Nehru to assume untrammelled power. Instead, he spent a lifetime trying to instill the habits of democracy in his people — a disdain for dictators, a respect for parliamentary procedures, an abiding faith in the constitutional system. He himself was such a convinced democrat, profoundly wary of the risks of autocracy, that, at the crest of his rise, he authored an anonymous article warning Indians of the dangers of giving dictatorial temptations to Jawaharlal Nehru. ‘He must be checked,’ he wrote of himself. ‘We want no Caesars.’ And indeed, his practice when challenged within his own party was to offer his resignation; he usually got his way, but it was hardly the instinct of a Caesar.

As Prime Minister, Nehru carefully nurtured the country’s infant democratic institutions. He paid deference to the country’s ceremonial presidency and even to its largely otiose vice-presidency; he never let the public forget that these notables outranked him in protocol terms. He wrote regular letters to the chief ministers of the states, explaining his policies and seeking their feedback. He subjected himself and his government to cross-examination in Parliament by the small, fractious but undoubtedly talented Opposition, allowing them an importance out of all proportion to their numerical strength, because he was convinced that a strong Opposition was essential for a healthy democracy. He took care not to interfere with the judicial system; on the one occasion that he publicly criticised a judge, he apologised the next day and wrote an abject letter to the Chief Justice, regretting having slighted the judiciary.

And Nehru never forgot that he derived his authority from the people of India; not only was he astonishingly accessible for a person in his position, but he started the practice of offering a daily darshan at home for an hour each morning to anyone coming in off the street without an appointment, a practice that continued until the dictates of security finally overcame the populism of his successors.

It was Nehru who, by his scrupulous regard for both the form and the substance of democracy, instilled democratic habits in our country. His respect for Parliament, his regard for the independence of the judiciary, his courtesy to those of different political convictions, his commitment to free elections and his deference to institutions over individuals, all left us a precious legacy of freedom.

Nehru’s opening remarks when he moved the motion at the newly established Constituent Assembly on 13 December, 1946, gives us a view of the immense pressure and responsibility he placed on himself to ensure that the embodiment of his democratic vision for the country responded fittingly to the situation and did justice to its enshrinement in the process of Constitution-making. He had to preserve the “past” idea of India and march towards the “future” idea of India…

The American editor Norman Cousins once asked Nehru what he hoped his legacy to India would be. “Four hundred million people capable of governing themselves,” Nehru replied. The numbers have grown, but the very fact that each day over a billion Indians govern themselves in a pluralist democracy is testimony to the deeds and words of this extraordinary man and the giants who accompanied him in the march to freedom.

(The new Introduction also looks at Nehru’s contribution towards secularism, socialism, foreign policy and his life as a writer. Excerpts published with Permission from Penguin Random House India)

IANS

Continue Reading

Analysis

US tech giants promise tougher action to fight fake news in India

Ahead of the 2019 general elections in India, Facebook was teaming up with global news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) to do fact checking, Khanduri said.

Published

on

Fake News

New Delhi, Nov 12 : Three US tech giants – Google, Facebook and Twitter – on Monday promised to do more to fight news in India, while refusing to provide any definite timeline for bringing tougher actions that could eliminate the menace of fake news from their platform.

Participating in a panel discussion hosted by BBC’s Matthew Amroliwala at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, the representatives of the three top technology companies outlined the actions they were taking to fight misinformation on its platform.

Fake news, the three executives said, were not in the interest of their business.

Manish Khanduri, Head of Facebook News Partnership in India, said the social networking giant would strengthen its partnerships with third party fact checkers to curb misinformation.

Ahead of the 2019 general elections in India, Facebook was teaming up with global news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) to do fact checking, Khanduri said.

“We are increasing the number of third-party fact checkers and we are also reaching out to various policy makers and law enforcement officers to ensure how best this platform could be used,” Khanduri said while responding to a question on what Facebook was doing to safeguard the 2019 India polls.

Facebook has also taken several measures to arrest the virality of misinformation on its platform, he said.

Khanduri, however, did not divulge anything on what the company was doing to help trace the origin of fake news and rumours spread with the aim of harming people on popular instant messaging pltform WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.

More than 30 lynching incidents in India have so far been linked to rumours on various social media platforms.

Irene Jay Liu, who leads Google News Lab in the Asia-Pacific region, said the company was focusing on training and upskilling people in India in a bid to help them spot fake news.

The tech giant in June announced the launch of the Google News Initiative Training Network in India in partnership with BoomLive, DataLeads and Internews.

This training network aims to support journalists from across India in their fight against misinformation, providing in-depth and hands-on verification training to 8,000 journalists across English and six other Indian languages over the next one year.

Vijaya Gadde, Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead at Twitter, said the micro-blogging platform was working to bring in more transparency to political advertisements on the platform.

Responding to a question, she also said that Twitter would also consider measures for making it easier for people to report fake news on its platform.

The event was held as part of BBC’s “Beyond Fake News” — a series across TV, radio and digital that aims to investigate how disinformation and fake news are affecting people around the world.

A research commissioned by the BBC World Service and published on Monday revealed that fake news was fast spreading in India owing to a “rising tide of nationalism”.

Earlier in the day, speaking at a town-hall at IIT Delhi, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that misinfomation itself was not a problem, but information intended to mislead people was.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Most Popular