MAKE IN INDIA DIWALI? REPORT SAYS SALE OF CHINESE PRODUCTS MAY DECLINE BY 45%

The article originally appeared on India Today on October 9.

An Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) survey has found that the prevailing anti-China sentiment in the country can result in 40-45 per cent decline in the sale of Chinese products this Diwali when compared to their sale last year.

A quick survey by ASSOCHAM-Social Development Foundation (ASDF) has said that be it decorative items like lights, gift items, lamps, Ganesha and Laxmi idols, rangolis, wall hangings crackers or even the electronic products like mobile phones, the decline is visible across all the sectors.

The ASSOCHAM survey that was conducted across multiple cities, i.e., Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Mumbai, found that people were preferring Indian goods over Chinese products and were demanding Indian lights and earthen diyas and shopkeepers were stacking products this festive season accordingly.

According to the ASSOCHAM release, the share of Chinese products during Diwali festivities last year was estimated to be 30 per cent or around Rs 6500 crore and Rs 4500 crore of it came from only Diwali related items like toys, fancy lights, gift items, plastic ware, decorative goods etc.

The ASSOCHAM paper also found that the demand of electronic items like LCDs, mobile phones and others items made in China has also declined by 15-20%.

India-China relations are going through a rough patch especially after the 73-day long Doklam standoff, the border row between the countries in the Doklam region of the Sikkim sector that saw an abrupt end in the last week of August. Though India claims a status quo has been maintained in the region ever since then, there are conflicting reports emerging in the media that China is again scaling up its operations in the disputed border territory.

Also, some reports in August had claimed that the Doklam standoff had adversely affected business of Oppo and Vivo in India, two major mobile manufactures from China. A report in the Economic Times had said that 400 expat Chinese workers were being sent back after the sale of smartphones of these companies fell sharply in July and August months owing to the ‘anti-Beijing sentiment’.

©SantoshChaubey

Advertisements

CLEANING THE GANGA: GANGA ACTION PLAN PHASE 1

STATALES

14 JUNE 1985: LAUNCHED
MARCH 31, 2000: DECLARED CLOSED

INITIAL OBJECTIVE IN 1985: IMPROVING THE GANGA WATER QUALITY TO ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS (VAGUE)

REVISED AND CLEAR OBJECTIVE – IN 1987: RESTORING THE GANGA WATER QUALITY TO BATHING STANDARD

COST

  • RS. 256.26 CRORE: ORIGINAL SANCTIONED COST
    RS. 462.04 CRORE: REVISED SANCTIONED COST, APPROVED IN AUGUST 1994

AREA COVERED
25 CLASS-I TOWNS SPREAD ACROSS FOUR STATES

  • 6 TOWNS: UTTAR PRADESH
  • 4 TOWNS: BIHAR
  • 15 TOWNS: WEST BENGAL

STATUS OF SCHEMES

  • WEST BENGAL: 110 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – ALL COMPLETED
  • UTTAR PRADESH: 106 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – ALL COMPLETED
  • BIHAR: 45 SCHEMES SANCTIONED – 44 COMPLETED

WASTEWATER TREATMENT CAPACITY CREATED

  • 1340 MLD: TOTAL ESTIMATED WASTEWATER IN 25 TOWNS COVERED UNDER PHASE-I
  • 868.69 MLD: SEWAGE TREATMENT CAPACITY CREATED UNDER PHASE-I
  • 882.19 MLD: SEWAGE CAPACITY CREATION TARGET OF GANGA ACTION PLAN PHASE-I
  • WEST BENGAL: 371.06 MLD – 15 PROJECTS
  • UTTAR PRADESH: 375.09 MLD – 13 PROJECTS
  • BIHAR: 122 MLD – 6 PROJECTS (TARGET – 7 PROJECTS)

©SantoshChaubey

FRENCH PRESIDENT MACRON LAUNCHES WEBSITE AND INVITES US CLIMATE SCIENTISTS TO MAKE FRANCE THEIR HOMELAND

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Taking his criticism of US President Donald Trump’s stand on climate change to the next level, French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a website inviting US scientists and research scholars to live in France and do research there on climate change. Earlier this month, after the US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, he had assured the US scientists that France was like a second homeland for them.

The website ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ (www.makeourplanetgreatagain.fr), an apparent dig at Donald Trump’s favourite slogan ‘Make America Great Again (#MAGA), says it is an initiative of President of France Emmanuel Macron who launched it to invite American scientists to “come work in France after facing the climatic skepticism of the new government of the United States.”

Macron says “he wants to make our planet great again” and appeals to the scientists that “the planet needs their innovative skills” and asks “if they you IN to change (literally) our daily lives and make our planet great again?” While terming the US decision unfortunate, he says “it has only reinforced our determination. Don’t let it weaken yours. We are ONE planet and together, we can make a difference.”

On June 1, US President Donald Trump had pulled the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a global climate pact to deal with emission of greenhouse gases. 195 countries signed the agreement document in December 2015 and 147 countries have ratified it so far and the agreement came into effect on November 4, 2016. Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President.

After Trump’s announcement, according to France 24*, while slamming Trump for making a historic mistake, Macron said the US scientists and entrepreneurs “disappointed” by Trump’s decision “will find in France a second homeland: I call on them, come and work here with us.”

It was unprecedented when he chose to address the world in English from Elysee Place, the official residence of the French president, after Trump’s no to Paris Accord. It was, in fact, a first for a French president, The Telegraph** said. Also, the press release sent to French journalists from the Elysee Palace on the website launch was in English, again “an unprecedented move by a French president”, the France 24 report said.

Macron, in fact, had released a video statement in English on Twitter on February 10, while he was campaigning for the French presidential polls, calling the US scientists and entrepreneurs working on climate change to relocate to France after Trump had decided to curtail the climate change research budget.

US withdrawing from the Paris Accord is certainly a bad news as the country is the second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases. China, the European Union and the US account for more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions, an analysis from the World Resources Institute says. The US exit is bound to affect the norms and goals of the Paris Accord even if other large emitters including India, Russia, European Union and China have reiterated their commitment.

©SantoshChaubey

SCIENTIST ACCUSES TRUMP OF MISUSING MIT STUDY TO JUSTIFY US EXIT FROM PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

An MIT scientist has accused US President Donald Trump of manipulation and misuse of an MIT study he co-authored to justify the decision of pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the first global climate pact with worldwide representation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The agreement signed by 195 countries in Paris in December 2015 has been ratified by 147 countries so far.

While Trump blasted the Paris Accord of being unfair to the US, at the same time, he tried to downplay the global agreement as ineffective in combating the climate change by quoting an MIT finding, though without naming it, “It is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.” But soon it emerged that Trump had picked up selective information to justify the rationale behind his decision.

According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, Donald Trump and his team quoted figures from an earlier MIT study which was done a year before the Paris Climate Agreement was signed and therefore could not factor in the emission pledges of all the signatories to the accord.

Erwan Monier, co-author of the study, “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?”, and principal research scientist at MIT’s department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences says “It appears that the White House cherry picked the lowest number they could find among studies that explored the impact of the climate accord”. And as per Monier, the Trump administration didn’t contact the MIT team before quoting its findings.

The 2016 MIT study which took into account emission pledges of all the participating nations came to the conclusion that the Paris Agreement was the first step in the right direction and if the participating countries followed their pledges, it could “reduce the surface air temperature in 2100 between 0.6 and 1.1 C relative to the no climate policy case” and thus could slow down the global warming process.

The 2016 study also emphasized that tacking climate change and global warming needed much more. Monier says, “The Paris agreement is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is only a step. It puts us on the right path to keep warming under 3 C, but even under the same level of commitment of the Paris agreement after 2030, our study indicates a 95 percent probability that the world will warm by more than 2 C by 2100”. And in absence of any global climate control framework, the earth may warm up to 5 C or more, a Time report said quoting co-director of the MIT program John Reilly.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE TONIGHT HIS DECISION ON PARIS CLIMATE DEAL

US President Donald Trump will announce today his decision on the Paris Climate Deal. He tweeted that he will make public his decision at 3 PM Thursday local time (12:30 AM Friday India time).

The whole world is embracing for a Donald Trump decision on the most ambitious climate control pact of our recent times. US withdrawing from it will be bad news as the country is the second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases and its exit is bound to affect the norms and goals of the accord even if other larger emitters including India, Russia, European Union and China has reiterated their commitment. During his recent visit to European countries and to the Vatican, European leaders and Pope Francis urged him stay with the climate pact.

But reports in the US media are almost unanimous that Trump will withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord even if he is facing backlash back at home. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is on the Business Advisory Council of the White House has said that he will quit the advisory board in case Trump withdraws from the Paris Climate Accord.

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods has written a letter to Donald Trump requesting him to stay in the Paris Accord. Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been trying to convince Trump to go for dilution of commitments instead of complete withdrawal, a CNN report said. Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democrat rival in the last year’s presidential election and former US Secretary of State, has said it would be “incredibly foolish” and “totally incomprehensible” to pull out of the agreement”.

A CNN report Wednesday said, based on its interaction with two senior US officials, that Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and a formal announcement can be made as early as this week.

Fox News wrote, quoting the Associated Press, that though Trump is expected to withdraw from the agreement, “but officials cautioned that there may be “caveats in the language,” leaving open the possibility that the decision is not final” while a Time report said that “Trump has told aides he intends to pull out of the agreement but has not decided exactly how to do it”.

Axios, a new media company, wrote on the development that “President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision.” The Axios report says that modalities of withdrawal are being worked out by a team led US Environment Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who believes Paris Climate Agreement is a “bad business deal” and has called for an exit from it. The exit route can be “a full, formal withdrawal” that may take up to three years or the “exiting the United Nations Climate Change Treaty, a faster but more extreme process”, the Axios report further wrote.

Another report in Politico says that “President Donald Trump is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, according to a White House official”. The Politico report states that it would be second such development when the US has rejected a global climate treaty after endorsing it. In 2001, then US President George W Bush, a Republican, had withdrawn from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, that was accepted by his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton. This time also, it is a Republican president who is going to overturn a decision by his Democrat predecessor Barack Obama.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President. During the recently held G7 Summit in Sicily, he behaved on the issue like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP TO PULL US OUT OF PARIS CLIMATE DEAL?

Reports in the US media say US President Donald Trump has decided to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement which came into force on November 4, 2016, news agency AFP has tweeted.

A CNN report Wednesday said, based on its interaction with two senior US officials, that Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and a formal announcement can be made as early as this week.

Axios, a new media company, wrote on the development that “President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision.” The Axios report says that modalities of withdrawal are being worked out by a team led US Environment Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who believes Paris Climate Agreement is a “bad business deal” and has called for an exit from it. The exit route can be “a full, formal withdrawal” that may take up to three years or the “exiting the United Nations Climate Change Treaty, a faster but more extreme process”, the Axios report further wrote.

Another report in Politico says that “President Donald Trump is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, according to a White House official”. The Politico report states that it would be second such development when the US has rejected a global climate treaty after endorsing it. In 2001, then US President George W Bush, a Republican, had withdrawn from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, that was accepted by his Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton. This time also, it is a Republican president who is going to overturn a decision by his Democrat predecessor Barack Obama.

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Paris climate deal and he had promised to cancel the deal if he became the US President. During the recently held G7 Summit in Sicily, he behaved on the issue like he was acting unilaterally. While six G7 members, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Japan and Canada reiterated their commitment for the 2015 Paris climate deal, Trump remained non-committal saying he needed more time to think over it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was blunt in her criticism over Trump’s stand saying the developments say the US will not stay with the climate deal.

©SantoshChaubey

A NON-COMMITTAL DONALD TRUMP MAY PUSH CHINA TO WORK WITH INDIA IN FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Global Times, one of the mouthpieces of China’s People’s Daily, the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist party, has once again come up with a report appealing that India and China should work together to fight the climate change, especially after the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.

The report says, “US President-elect Donald Trump said earlier in 2016 that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax” and has suggested that he is disinclined to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement. In light of this, China and India should play a much stronger leading role in the international effort against climate change.”

The report that focuses on the intense fog in Delhi and northern India and likens it to Chinese pollution and Beijing’s smog alerts, says that both, India and China, are the world’s top polluters and it is “meaningless to debate whose air quality is better”.

China is the world’s largest polluter and India ranks at number three behind America in emitting the greenhouse gases contributing to the global warming. In the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 10 are in India and four in China.

So, that makes sense, even if India and China differ on many issues and even if this official mouthpiece, Global Times, regularly comes up with articles and opinions suggesting why India should not be given the NSG membership or why India’s efforts towards a permanent membership of the UN Security Council are futile or why India should control anti-China content in its media or how the Chinese goods are being victimised by boycott calls in India.

Because climate change and the subsequent global warming will affect all, irrespective of who is the biggest culprit, America, the world’s most industrialised nation whose per capita emission at 19.86 tons is almost eight times to that of India’s 2.44 tons, or China, the largest emitter currently with over 25 per cent share of global emission while India is still at 7 per cent. Even China’s per capita emission is more than three times of India’s as per the figures of the World Resources Institute (WRI).

And because now there is a very real possibility that the world’s second largest emitter can walk away the landmark agreement. Donald Trump, during the campaign phase, had said in unequivocal terms that if elected, he would withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, adopted in December 2015 and came into effect the last month. Though, after his election, he had said in an interview that he had now an open mind about the Paris Climate Agreement, his stand is still viewed as being non-committal on the agreement that many believe is humanity’s last chance before environmental destruction becomes irreversible.

Most emitters in the top-10 list are advanced societies with less population like the US, Japan, Russia and the EU countries. They have technological superiority in the environmental protection techniques and can afford them, certainly a problem area when it comes to India and China, the world’s two economies in top three with over 36 per cent share of the world’s population. According to an estimate, 70 per cent of sewage generated by urban India goes untreated and advanced waste water treatment technologies are prohibitively expensive for the developing economies.

The Global Times report recognises this saying “China and India should encourage scientific institutions, environmental groups and firms to cooperate on research to develop environmentally friendly techniques that are tailored for both countries”.

Here are two burgeoning economies, buzzing with manufacturing, construction and energy industries, catering to an ever increasing demand of masses, and now they have to retain their emission levels and control pollution. And a collaboration in this area can show the way ahead like the “clean energy vehicle technologies and electric cars” as this article proposes. We all know that the vehicular pollution is the biggest contributor to the deadly smog that every now and then blankets our cities.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD FLOOD AS WELL..

The Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly house was scene to some chaotic developments yesterday. The political opposition led by the Congress was taking on the Madhya Pradesh government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan and an all around ruckus was in the air.

And in the centre of it was the poor common man – this time afflicted by the flood fury!

And by essential by-product of it – the designs of bureaucratic corruption!

The issue in point was distribution of adulterated and rotten wheat sacks to the flood victims. Reports said some wheat sacks contained as much as 20 kg soil in a pack of 50 kg.

The news had come from a state which has a popular chief minister who has been consistently elected by his constituency and who is now in his third consecutive term.

Well, it’s a flourishing business – the relief and rescue work in the aftermath of annual spells of droughts followed by Monsoon floods – the annual pilgrimage for bureaucrats and politicians who see them as the opportune channels to siphon off money.

We should be thankful journalists like P. Sainath who devoted their whole life to rural reporting, especially on farm suicides, droughts and agrarian crisis. The book written by Sainath, ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’, makes for a pithy and informed reading. It shows how droughts have become big money spinners for the governing machinery and the appendages dependent on it.

He writes, “A great deal of drought ‘relief’ goes into contracts handed over to private parties. These are to lay roads, dig wells, send out water tankers, build bridges, repair tanks –– the works. Think that can’t total up to much? Think again. The money that goes into this industry in a single year can make the withdrawals from Bihar’s animal husbandry department look like so many minor fiddles. And the Bihar scam lasted a decade and a half. The charm of this scam is that it is largely ‘legal’. And it has soul. It’s all in a good cause. The tragedy, of course, is that it rarely addresses the real problems of drought and water scarcity.”

The above paragraph from his book is enough to sum up the malaise of corruption that has deeply corroded the drought management system in our country. His book says the drought victims call the drought relief bounty “teesra fasl (the third crop), a harvest that never reaches them.

Floods are in the same category – the annual ritual of harvesting illicit wealth.

It’s not that P. Sainath was the first person to write on such issue. And as long as the human apathy goes, there will always be the concerned souls exploring our hinterlands to tell their stories who are left on the margins to die. Yes, but P. Sainath gave us a seminal book, an event to talk about, a reference to go back, again and again.

We are yet to see such a consolidated work on floods – because floods, at times, prove a better milking cow than droughts for corrupt officials.

The 2013 Uttarakhand floods disaster killed thousands. The rehabilitation process is still not over. But see the crass apathy of the bureaucratic machinery. Those tasked with relief and rescue efforts were busy in minting money – submitting forged bills and manipulating relief figures. While thousands had died and many more thousands were displaced and were in imminent danger, the Uttarakhand rescue officials were busy in ordering lavish foods in hotel accommodations that they claimed cost them Rs. 7000 a night. This and many more shocking details have emerged in many RTI replies. The information obtained clearly shows how the data were manipulated for personal gains – Rs. 200 for half a litre milk, diesel bills for two-wheelers, relief materials to the same lot of victims again and again and so on.

In the season of annual Monsoon floods, first it is about manipulating resources in the name of checking immediate human crisis elements like arranging shelter and food for the victims. In the immediate aftermath, it comes to controlling a looming epidemic because of the stagnant water that carries dead carcass and other pollutants. The rapidly going up floodwater presents a golden opportunity to push for anything and everything – no tenders, no negotiations. The rush to keep supply lines sustained sees cheaper relief materials and medicines being pushed at higher cost. Floods, in that sense, provide a better opportunity to money vultures than droughts.

Post this comes the phase of rebuilding infrastructure – roads, bridges, railway tracks, embankments – and here the big money lies. Contracts are given to the parties and we all know how it is done.

We all, every year, think about this basic question – that why can’t the administration lay out a stronger layer of concrete that would last for at least four-five years? We all know the answer – corruption. Every year, new tender is floated and fund is released to the contractor carrying the work. And it is a good deal for everyone – from government officials to contractors. Money changes hands. The process is repeated year after year, sometimes season after season.

And the practice goes long back. In fact, a 2007 report by the Financial Times, quoting commentators and media reports wrote, “Even flood prevention mechanisms, such as river embankments and sluice gates, are deliberately left unmaintained. Every time they are washed away, it means more money for the contractors, technocrats and politicians.”

The 2007 Financial Times report was based on reports of corruption that was siphoning off money that should have ideally gone to the victims of the 2007 floods that had affected India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Stories of manipulation and corruption in the 2008 Kosi floods of Bihar are yet another eye opener.

Floods present a similar opportunity, like drought – or in fact any natural calamity of big scale – but what makes floods and droughts big opportunities for money minded vultures – are their geographical spread and regular frequency. Their earning potential far outweighs other catastrophic happenings like earthquake, cloud burst or cyclone. These are localized in nature and thus are limited in scope. And even then we find our Google searches inundated with the news reports of corruption and manipulation in their aftermath – replete with stories of human misery.

Big projects, big money. Small projects, small money. Simple!

If everybody loves a good drought .. ‘that’ everybody loves a good flood as well!

©SantoshChaubey

RECENT RAINFALL PATTERN IN MP BUNDELKHAND

BUNDELKHAND DROUGHT DISTRESS

MP Bundelkhand

RECENT RAINFALL PATTERN IN MP BUNDELKHAND

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/