Archive for ‘Economics’

30/08/2014

Houses in Shanghai are not built, they’re printed[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn

A Chinese company recently built 10 full-sized houses using a giant printer.

Houses in Shanghai are not built, they're printed

The detached, one-story houses now standing in the Shanghai Hi-Tech Industrial Park, in the city’s Qingpu district, look like ordinary buildings. But they were “printed out” in less than a day with “contour crafting“, commonly known as 3-D printing technology.

‘Mirror’ perfect fit for shoppers  Four huge printers measuring 32 meters long, 10 meters wide and 6.6 meters tall were used to make the houses, which were built layer by layer.

“It’s not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly,” said Ma Yihe, inventor of the printers, who is also president of the Shanghai Winsun decoration and design company.

“Unlike traditional construction, the new technology doesn’t produce any waste,” said Ma, who has been working in the 3-D printing construction industry for 12 years.

The materials used to make the houses are a mixture of quick-drying cement and recycled industrial waste, which help lower construction costs by up to 50 percent. For the moment, the company is keeping the recipe for the cement a secret.

Meanwhile, the houses can withstand just about any safety test, Ma said.

via Houses in Shanghai are not built, they’re printed[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn.

30/08/2014

The backup power in Indian apartments are funded in the name of a poor Indian farmer

In India’s urban areas, you can tell the interruption in power supply by an accompanying noise – a diesel genset whirring into life somewhere nearby, releasing plumes of dark smoke into the air. Power failure is so endemic in some areas that factories, call centres, hotels and apartment complexes all install large gensets to provide back-up power.

So much so, that the installed power generation capacity of diesel gensets in India has now exceeded 90,000 megawatts, or the equivalent of 36% of India’s total power generation capacity. This estimation by the power regulator, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, in fact takes into account only large units with over 100 kilo volt ampere. If smaller units in apartment complexes and household are taken into account, the figure could be much larger.

Policymakers thus far believed that the installed capacity of such units was just over 1,000 MWs, while in reality it was 90 times as much. And so there is no estimation of how much fuel is consumed by these gensets.

There should be. Because these gensets all consume subsidized diesel.

Fuel subsidies were a little under 2% of India’s GDP in 2011-12, according to IMF calculations. Diesel subsidies accounted for nearly half of it.

The rationale for subsidizing diesel is two-fold. Farmers use it to operate motor pumps to irrigate their farms. And second, cost of transporting essential goods and food needs to be kept down to rein in inflation.

Both these reasons are undermined by the situation on the ground and what researchers have shown.

Nearly 27% of diesel sold in India is consumed by vehicles, the economist Kirit Parikh estimated in 2013. All of these are not trucks transporting vegetables. Many are sports utility vehicles owned by the rich. Parikh estimated that an SUV owner received an annual subsidy of Rs50,000 on account of the diesel subsidy in the name of the poor.

Researchers at the thinktank Integrated Research and Action for Development showed in 2012 that a 10% increase in the price of diesel would only result in a 0.6% rise in consumption expenditure of the poorest 10% of people both in the rural and urban areas. A 4% rise in wholesale price index, which can be caused by fiscal deficit-fuelled inflation, can have a much greater impact, they found.

The government recently set up an expenditure reform commission to streamline spending and ensure better targeting of subsidies.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

30/08/2014

India posts highest GDP growth figures in over two years

GDP up by 5.7 per cent in April-June quarter

India’s Gross Domestic Product increased by 5.7 per cent in the April-June quarter, up from 4.6% in the previous quarter. Growth in this quarter was the highest since March 2012, and it was sparked by a boost in the manufacturing and service sectors. However, economists said that this rebound could be temporary and stifled by poor monsoon rains and rising food inflation.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

29/08/2014

In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek

Indian developer Babulal Varma’s job requires the human touch. The company he co-founded, Omkar Realtors & Developers, specializes in coaxing Mumbai’s slum dwellers from their hovels, then bulldozing the slum and erecting a mix of luxury condominium towers and free new homes for the slum dwellers on the cleared land. Omkar has completed 12 projects, rehousing 40,000, with 12 more in the works, making it the most successful business in this niche. Mumbai’s slums still house 6.5 million people.

One of Omkar’s luxury high rises, under construction

In one slum several years ago, an old woman wouldn’t leave her home. Omkar was keen to develop the site into a $1 billion complex of six luxury high rises and modern housing nearby for the slum dwellers. As Varma recounts it, he visited her and learned that the woman wanted two free apartments, not one. The woman lived with her two sons and their wives in a 90-square-foot shack. The wives argued constantly. Yet the law regulating slum redevelopment says a family that proves residency since 2000 can get only one new, 269-square-foot home on the same land.

Varma came back with a piece of paper showing a line drawn through the unit they’d be moving into, with a second door cut into the hallway. The wives could live separately, he explained. Agreement came in 45 minutes. “If you can understand their problem, if you can understand their issues, all the issues are very small, like a peanut, but to them this is the biggest thing,” says Varma, who cites karma as his operating philosophy as he sits beside an incense-burning Hindu altar.

By law, Omkar and other developers must secure the consent of 70 percent of a slum’s inhabitants before a project can go forward. Slum dwellers who have lived in the same spot since 2000 hold rights to the land but can sign them over to developers.

Omkar (the long form of the Hindu mantra “om”) contributes to the city’s efforts to get its slum dwellers into the middle class. “There is all-round social upliftment as people move from slums into proper apartments,” says Nirmal Deshmukh, chief executive officer of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which selects the developers for the slum projects.

Since her marriage to a postal worker 13 years ago, Swarangi Pingle had lived in a 90-square-foot bilevel hut with her in-laws, her husband’s two siblings, and her daughter, now 11. On May 1 she and her family became homeowners in the development where Varma persuaded the old woman to go along. Pingle’s home on the top floor of a 23-story building has plenty of ventilation and sunlight. In the slum, Pingle would wait an hour to fill water jugs at the communal tap and for her turn at the common toilet. “This is much better,” she says as she shows off the private bathroom, kitchen sink, and aqua-painted living room. The new homes allow space for children to study, she says: “I may have married into a slum, but my daughter won’t go back to one.”

via In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek

During a stint in the U.S. Army, Dennis Schenk worked alongside canine rescue units in the aftermath of a hurricane. He fell in love with dogs and decided he wanted to make them his career. He eventually got certified as a dog trainer by the International Association of Canine Professionals and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and in 2009 moved to China. Now he’s flown around the country by clients who pay him 500 yuan ($81) an hour to train their dogs to come and sit, and to treat them—the pets, not owners—for anxiety and aggression.

"Building a Beautiful Home for Your Pooch" (left); "The Most Beautiful Tail"

Cat and dog lovers are a relatively new breed in China. Up until the 1980s, keeping pet dogs was illegal in Beijing, because pets were considered to be a bourgeois affectation. Restrictions were loosened in the 1990s and early 2000s. (A height limit on dogs is still in place.) By 2012 the city had more than 1 million registered pet dogs, now served by more than 300 pet hospitals, according to the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association. China has become the third-largest pet market in the world, after the U.S. and Brazil, according to Euromonitor International, and is home to 27 million dogs and 11 million cats.

Maoist rhetoric hasn’t disappeared entirely. In early August the Communist Party-run People’s Daily ran an editorial decrying pet ownership as a “crude and ludicrous imitation [of a] Western lifestyle”—and argued that uncollected sidewalk poop disrupts “social peace and harmony.” In some cities, unwanted puppies are dumped on the street and become strays. The local press has reported cases of auxiliary police officers beating strays to death.

via China’s Skyrocketing (Pet) Population – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek

In his book Citizen Canine (PublicAffairs, 2014), science writer David Grimm links the rise of the 19th century and early 20th century movement opposing “animal cruelty” in the U.S. to the then-novel practice of keeping dogs and cats as inside pets, enabled by such recent inventions as flea and tick medicines and kitty litter.

Dogs that were rounded up in Nanjing, China

China is still a place whose newspapers report that government employees beat unregistered dogs to death on the street and bury alive stray mongrels seen as nuisances. Meanwhile, China’s rising urban middle-class is increasingly embracing pet ownership, spending 7.84 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) on pet care in 2012. Beijing alone is home to more than 1 million pet dogs.

Deborah Cao, an expert on Chinese law at Griffith University in Australia, sees growing pet ownership in China as helping to create a base of middle-class support for anti-animal cruelty campaigns in the country. “There is much greater public concern today in most Chinese cities, especially among young and educated people,” she says. “That is what I called the emerging grassroots animal liberation movement. … I think it has to do with more people having pets, having more contact with animals. And for some it is related to spiritual beliefs, such as Buddhism.”

In a country where citizen groups face intense government scrutiny and often harassment, a recent series of volunteer (or even ad hoc) animal-rights campaigns has made headlines—and scored some surprising victories. Partially in response to citizen-led anti-animal cruelty campaigns, on June 30 China’s Food and Drug Administration ended requirements for mandatory animal testing of domestic cosmetics.

via Don’t Kidnap My Dog: An Animal Rights Movement Starts in China – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Celebrities who endorse ads for products they don’t try may need to start being a guinea pig in China.

On Monday, an updated draft of the Central Party’s advertisement law submitted to lawmakers said that celebrities who are paid to be spokespeople for products, should try the product before they represent it, according to state media. The goods and services celebrities endorse need to be “based on facts,” the draft says.

False endorsements have been a big problem in China and across Asia. In 2006, Hong Kong actress Carina Lau was sued after she endorsed a luxury Japanese skincare cream, which she said could reduce wrinkles by 50% after a month of use. Later, it was discovered that the cream contained harmful chemicals, including toxic metals chromium and neodymium, and that some consumers had adverse reactions to the cream. (The Japanese skincare brand, SK-II, was fined 200,000 yuan, or about $32,500, for false advertising.)

More recently, Jackie Chan endorsed one of Bawang International’s anti-hair loss herbal shampoos. After a Hong Kong-based magazine revealed that the shampoo contained a substance that may cause cancer, Mr. Chan responded. “I have always been very careful with what products I endorse. But there are some media who are specifically gunning for me and a few other artistes, I am not sure why, as though it is better that we all just died.” .(For its part, Bawang said its products had passed quality tests and that many shampoos and cleaning products contain small traces of carcinogens.)

The revision comes on the heels of last year’s revised Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of Consumers, which states that celebrities who appear in misleading commercials, and the media that broadcast the ads, are legally liable.

Monday’s updated law reinforces celebs’ legal liability and says their “illegal income” can be confiscated if they stump for false advertising. They could also face hefty fines.

But it isn’t exactly clear how the law will be enforced or whether the government can actually monitor whether celebrities actually try out the products they promote.

via China Says Celebs Have to Actually Try the Products They Endorse – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

26/08/2014

For young Indian urbanites, caste is no longer a marital consideration – but Mummy and Papa are

Caste and language are losing significance in urban India, at least as far as marriage is concerned, according to a survey of more than 400 single adults in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. But other social traditions are not being forgotten: adults between the ages of 20 and 35 say the most important thing is that their partner respects elders and treats their spouse’s family just as they do their own.

More than half of the participants in the survey conducted by Floh, a forum for singles to meet and interact online and offline, said they would take the decision of whom to marry jointly with their parents. Only 22% believed that they could marry someone their parents did not entirely approve of. The respondents all came from similar socio-economic background, with at least an undergraduate degree and earning more than Rs 40,000 per month.

Floh founder Siddharth Mangharam believes that the survey shows that India treads its own path when it comes to social interactions. “We are not following some Western ideology, just 20 or 30 years behind,” he said.

Young urban Indians – and parents, who were also interviewed – seem to have unshakable faith in the idea that humans fall in love at first sight. When asked, 71% of single adults and 62% of parents said they were convinced the phenomenon existed. Most respondents’ main reason for being single was that they had not found the “right one”.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

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