We celebrated the Independence Day of Mother India on August 15. An independent state like ours must ensure independence from societal evils, especially discrimination and violence against women. The Modi government should be courageous to have a Uniform Civil Code to unite the nation under a common legal set up with a particular emphasis on equal rights to women. All religions provide equal rights to women. But there has been growing crime against women; one of the most heinous being acid attacks. This ghastly crime claimed two victims recently. The Acid Survivors Foundation of India has been working for prevention of this crime and providing support to survivors. Apart from timely legal and medical help to survivors, there should be speedy dispensation of justice by severely punishing the offenders but unfortunately, the law takes a slow course. Women in rural areas are more vulnerable to such heinous crimes.
In a multi-religious country like India, secularism is essential for its survival. Our Constitution allows the freedom to practice any religion but this comes with the duty to not use religion for disruptive or harmful activities or in a manner, that it contravenes of someone else’s right to practice his/her religion (Articles 15-25). One such provision is the Article 25 in context of which anti-conversion laws must be viewed and understood. No one can be forced to convert due to fear (coercion, violence, harassment) or favour (monetary and other inducements). The teachings of Swami Vivekananda for communal harmony and secularism should shape our actions. Those guilty of forcible conversions must be punished within the bounds of law. A board of conversion of religion should be set up to look into the matter objectively. A person who wants to convert and reconvert to a religion has to apply to the board with all the required details and reasons of being willing to convert. Foreign funds must be regulated to prevent these from being used for forcible inducement/allurement/conversion campaigns. Peacock is the National Bird. Cow must be declared as National animal. India must stand united for the welfare of all.
The International Monetary Fund in its paper ‘Monetary Transmission in Developing Countries’ has raised doubts over the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) ability to target inflation through monetary measures (as the financial sector is smaller in India) and the effectiveness of controlling inflation by interest rate. BE has reported in the past that the RBI’s action in keeping high rate of interest to control inflation is ineffective and is killing the manufacturing sector. Infrastructure projects have been stalled or stopped altogether. Gestation period for these projects are long. Viability after completion and marginal return on capital take a long time to realise. High rate of interest push up the costs and make these unviable. Inflation is not deflated but inflated. In a bid to defend the Rupee from exchange vulnerability, the Foreign Currency Non-Repatriable (FCNR) deposits were raised by banks to participate in a subsidized swap scheme of the RBI for which credit was taken by the RBI’s outgoing Governor Raghuram Rajan. The currency will come under pressure once redemptions of FCNR start in September 2016. Banks raised dollars through this scheme. Now banks have to pay back in dollars. The rupee is expected to weaken sharply. Inflation of 6.07% in July will fall. One wonders how the inflation in July has risen despite monetary control and high rate of interest. Economists know that July’s inflation is seasonal. Mainly the prices of vegetables and fruits have gone up in the rainy season as there are problems of flood damage and increase in cost of transport. Despite bumper crops and stocks, prices of cereals have gone up. This is principally due to transport cost. There is need for close coordination of fiscal and monetary policies for inflation, growth, and employment. None of these can work in isolation. The RBI intends to create a special class of borrowers called “Specified Borrowers” having a fund base limit of over ` 25000 crore. The limit will progressively reduce to `15000 crore in 2018-19 and `10000 crore from 2020. It will not restrict the growth and add to the sickening of already stressed or non-performing assets.
There are growing economic measures taken by the government. Dumping duties on some more steel items have been imposed and extended. The amendment in the Foreign Exchange Management Regulation on Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) will enable inflow of foreign investments through the automatic route provided they are under the regulation of the financial sector. The Factories Act 1948 has been amended for allowing overtime hours from existing 50 hours to 100 hours (section 64) and 75 hours to 125 hours for quarter. Urjit Patel, the new RBI governor, was previously its deputy governor. It is expected that he would take a pragmatic monetary policy harmonizing the measures on inflation, growth, and employment.
The sports industry has become a multi-billion dollar global industry propelled by passion. It has goodwill, big brand names, less chances of recession and more opportunities for growth and employment. It is a health-making industry. Sound mind will be in a sound body. The happiness of the nation depends on the health of its people. Swami Vivekananda exhorted the nation to “Have muscle of iron and nerve of steel”. In developed countries, employment in sports sector is around 2 to 4% of the total employment in the economy. It has a wide range of job profiles-blue to white collared. The global sports sector is estimated to be $ 480-620 billion. India has to recognize it as an industry or economic sector. Due to lack of infrastructure and non-recognition as an economic sector, the sports sector is suffering. Its growth is not commensurate with its population growth. However, the sector has grown from ` 43.7 billion in 2013 to ` 48 billion in 2015. And it is becoming a multi-sports nation. Private sectors companies are promoting sports activities in a big way now. Sports sector assistance and promotion should be considered as a corporate social responsibility (CSR). In cricket, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the best in the world. Similarly, the Hockey India League is the best in the world of hockey. The Pro Kabbadi League has become the second most viewed league tournament after the IPL. It is high time that corporates just do not run after the top athletes with a bag full of money, but promote a large number of meritorious athletes. It is pity that the nation has 118 world class athletes against 410 in China. India’s rank is 67 against China’s 3. The country is gearing up for the 2020 Olympics. It should use the experience of senior athletes and engage internationally acclaimed athletes to train and promote young athletes from the local and regional levels. World class training centres with foreign coaches have to be set up. With time and growing skill, exposure and experience, young Indian coaches will become primed and ready to replace the foreign coaches. This was done by Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Indian sports can be and will be world class.
May God bless the nation to excel in sports.
Dr H P Kanoria