Archive for ‘Politics’

23/04/2014

Xi’s Corruption Crackdown Hits China’s Restaurants – Businessweek

Dirty officials aren’t the only ones getting slammed as Xi Jinping continues his crackdown on corruption and waste. China’s restaurant industry grew 9 percent, to 2.56 trillion yuan ($411 billion), last year, its slowest growth in more than two decades, according to a report released by the China Cuisine Association on April 19.

Xi's Corruption Crackdown Hits China's Restaurants

Restaurants, particularly the pricier ones, have long been popular venues for China’s bureaucrats and the businessmen wanting to curry favor with them. “This is a sign that the central government’s antigraft campaign against waste and extravagance has been well implemented,” said Feng Enyuan, deputy chairman of the CCA, reported the China Daily on April 21.

Midrange and high-end restaurants have been particularly hard hit, according to the association. China Chuanjude Group, the 150-year-old state-owned roast duck chain, saw its revenue fall 2.13 percent, to 1.9 billion yuan, while net profit dropped 27.6 percent last year, to 110 million yuan. In response, the chain has tried to lure more families and friends, in part by adding more affordable dishes to its menu.

via Xi’s Corruption Crackdown Hits China’s Restaurants – Businessweek.

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23/04/2014

Guns and Gowns: Documentary shows two faces of the Indian woman | India Insight

Cosmetic surgeon Jamuna Pai inspects the face of the Miss India contestant before her in Mumbai, furrows her brow and points to a blemish. The verdict: the young woman needs a botox injection in her chin because the “proportions are off by 0.6 percent.”

About 400 kilometres away in the town of Aurangabad, worlds apart from India’s financial capital, a middle-aged woman in a sari lectures adolescent girls about wanting careers.

“How can you deny 5,000 years of evidence that you are the weaker sex? Stop asking for equality,” she thunders to her audience of rapt teenagers in traditional Indian attire.

The two women in Mumbai and Aurangabad, and the subjects of their scrutiny are at the crux of Nisha Pahuja‘s film “The World Before Her,” which opens in Indian cinemas next month.

The documentary juxtaposes two training camps — one for the Durga Vahini (army of Durga), the women’s unit of the right-wing Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), and the other for the annual Miss India beauty pageant.

Pahuja said that she wanted to make a film that would explore a common theme in two worlds that at first look like they are opposites. What they have in common, Pahuja said, is that women are constantly being told, often by women themselves, that they are not good enough, whether they are being judged for their perfect legs or being pushed to give in to the patriarchal society.

“And that’s what makes it more dangerous, because it’s a combination of these two extreme perspectives and they are married to each other. That is terrifying. It is regressive ideology masquerading as progress. It will create this bubble, and people won’t be able to see beyond it,” the film-maker said.

“The World Before Her” shows girls at the Durga Vahini camp being taught martial arts and to fire a gun as part of self-defence training. The students are told these skills are essential if they are to defend Hinduism “against the threat of Islam and Christianity.”

Pahuja’s film also puts the spotlight on a boot camp for 19 women contesting in the country’s beauty pageant. Here, they are primped and pushed — often in ways they aren’t comfortable with — to make them fit the exacting standards of a contest winner.

Pahuja started work on the documentary in 2008, and didn’t complete it until four years later. The Canadian-born filmmaker said she wanted to make a documentary on the Miss India contest, but expanded the film’s scope when she heard of right-wing protests against the contest’s swimsuit round.

“It took me two years to get access to the Durga Vahini camp, but when I went there, and met Prachi (one of the camp instructors, a fiery 24-year-old who says she wants to be the next Sadhvi Pragya Singh, a Hindu woman accused of orchestrating terror attacks), I realized that this was a compelling part of the story of the Indian woman,” Pahuja, 46, told India Insight in an interview.

“The World Before Her,” won Best Feature at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, and a clutch of awards at other festivals. The documentary is backed by Indian film-maker Anurag Kashyap and actress Nandita Das.

Pahuja, who was raised in Toronto, said her film was evidence that the two ideologies — the perceived superficial consumerism of the pageant and the fundamentalism of right-wing Hindu groups — co-existed in India.

via Guns and Gowns: Documentary shows two faces of the Indian woman | India Insight.

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21/04/2014

On the Fence: Will Indians Actually Vote Against Corruption, or Not? – India Real Time – WSJ

A report in today’s Wall Street Journal probes an important contradiction in the Indian electorate: People say they are fed up with corruption — but will they say it at the ballot box?

Political corruption is a defining issue in the national vote, which runs all month. The only issue that tops it is economic growth, according to a survey sponsored by the Lok Foundation. Indians rank political parties as the most corrupt institutions in the country, Transparency International says.

The Journal traveled to Karnataka to look at the parliamentary race in Shimoga, where B.S. Yeddyurappa — a seasoned politician who faces corruption allegations — is representing the Bharatiya Janata Party. Mr. Yeddyurappa, who is considered a front-runner in the race, denies the allegations.

From interviews with voters in and around Shimoga, two things are clear: Pretty much everyone knows about the allegations against Mr. Yeddyurappa. And pretty much everyone thinks all politicians are corrupt. As a result, many people said they will simply vote for the person who they feel will help him or her the most.

“Corruption needs to be eradicated,” said Manjula H.N., a young woman who lives in a village about a half-hour drive into the countryside.  But, she said, she is more worried about unemployment.

Bottom line: She was leaning toward voting for the BJP. “Yeddyurappa has done more good works” for locals than the other candidates, she said.

via On the Fence: Will Indians Actually Vote Against Corruption, or Not? – India Real Time – WSJ.

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19/04/2014

Bank of China vice-president resigns over allegations of affairs | South China Morning Post

A vice-president of China’s fourth largest bank has resigned after he was investigated by the Communist Party’s top discipline body but cleared over suspicions of corruption, Chinese media reported.

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Wang Yongli, 50, a vice-president and executive director of the Hong Kong-listed Bank of China, had resigned from the bank effective on Wednesday, the bank said in a statement on Friday night.

Wang, who holds a doctoral degree in economics from China’s Xiamen University, had worked at the bank for 25 years and been vice-president for more than seven. He had been in charge of various key departments within the bank, including finance and IT, before being promoted to vice-president in 2006.

Wang was a hot contender for the bank’s top job when its former president Li Lihui retired at the end of last year, but lost out in the competition to fellow Vice-President Chen Siqing, who was named Bank of China’s president in January this year, reported Beijing-based Caixin magazine.

Caixin cited multiple sources as saying that a “lover” of Wang, who is married, had alerted the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to the fact that Wang, a Party member, had maintained multiple extramarital affairs in violation of party discipline.

The anti-corruption body then conducted months of investigation into Wang but found no evidence of “economic problems”, or corrupt behaviour involving money, said Caixin.

Wang was not charged with any crime, but was placed on a two-year probation within the Party as an internal disciplinary measure, it said.

Bank of China was the fourth largest bank in the mainland and 11th in the world with US$2,226 billion in total assets, according to a ranking by SNL Financial in December last year.

Wang is among the latest senior executives at Chinese state-owned firms to be investigated for romantic liaisons.

via Bank of China vice-president resigns over allegations of affairs | South China Morning Post.

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19/04/2014

India’s Mobile Marketers Try Phone Calls to Reach Rural Consumers – Businessweek

In many parts of the world, businesses relentlessly market to customers via their Web-connected smartphones, slipping pitches into everything from interactive games to graphics-laden productivity apps. Not so in rural India: To better reach the country’s 833 million villagers, Unilever (UL) is delivering free Bollywood music to their basic cell phones via old-fashioned phone calls.

In India, Mobile Ads Mean Phone Calls

Between the popular tunes and cheesy jokes presented during the 15-minute recorded programs served up by Unilever’s mobile phone music service, users listen to four product ads. Consumers are biting: In March, at least 2 million people subscribed to the free service available in two states, says Anaheeta Goenka, executive director of Lowe Lintas & Partners, the agency handling the campaign for the world’s second-biggest consumer company. The service expanded to Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, on March 31.

Companies from Unilever to PepsiCo (PEP) to Mondelēz International (MDLZ) are turning to mobile campaigns to win over consumers who live in locales where cable television or even newspapers may have limited reach. In a country where most people don’t live in big cities and 88 percent of phones aren’t smart, the tuneful approach makes sense because rural spending growth now exceeds that of India’s urban centers. And mobile phone ads cost less and are more targeted than mass media campaigns on the subcontinent.

via India’s Mobile Marketers Try Phone Calls to Reach Rural Consumers – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

India struggles with rebel threats during election – Businessweek

Indians cast ballots Thursday on the biggest day of voting in the country’s weekslong general election, streaming into polling stations even in areas where leftist rebels threatened violence over the plight of India’s marginalized and poor.

Nationwide voting began April 7 and runs through May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to be announced four days later. Among the 13 key states voting Thursday was Chhattisgarh, now the center of a four-decade Maoist insurgency that has affected more than a dozen of India’s 28 states.

With roadside bombings, jungle ambushes and hit-and-run raids, the rebels aim for nothing short of sparking a full-blown peasant revolt as they accuse the government and corporations of plundering resources and stomping on the rights of the poor.

via India struggles with rebel threats during election – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek

A little over a year ago, Xi Jinping embarked on his first foreign trip as China’s president, making stops in Russia and Africa. Over the past 13 months, his administration has focused unprecedented attention on strengthening economic and political ties in Africa, according to a new policy briefing by Brookings Institution scholar Yun Sun.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob on April 8 in Beijing

While China’s People’s Liberation Army has long maintained what Sun calls a “tacit operating principle of ‘no troops on foreign soil,’” last spring Beijing sent 170 combat troops from the PLA Special Force to accompany the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. In the past, only Chinese engineers and medical personnel had ever been dispatched to foreign soils under a UN mandate.

“China’s choosing Africa to dispatch combat troops for the first time does suggest Beijing’s rising interests,” writes Sun, as well “enhanced commitment and [a] direct role in maintaining [the] peace and security of Africa.” China has also “dispatched a total of 16 fleets and escorted more than 5,300 ships and vessels” around the Gulf of Aden, in effect taking responsibility for maintaining the security of key shipping lanes.

via In His First Year, China’s Xi Puts Unprecedented Focus on Africa – Businessweek.

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19/04/2014

Chairman of China Resources removed from office – Sports – Chinadaily.com.cn

Song Lin, chairman of state-owned China Resources (Holdings) Co., Ltd, has been dismissed from office for suspected serious discipline and law violations, authorities said Saturday.

Song was also removed from his office as the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of the enterprise, said an official with the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.

The case is being handled according to relevant procedures, the official said.

The news came after the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced earlier that Song was under investigation.

via Chairman of China Resources removed from office – Sports – Chinadaily.com.cn.

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17/04/2014

Non Residents Are Stakeholders in India’s Future Too – India Real Time – WSJ

Conversations in Mumbai are usually about the elections these days – be it at roadside food stalls or in the boardrooms of India’s financial capital.

The stakes, after all, are high: following a period of robust growth, the country’s economy has slowed considerably in the past few years – largely because of (depending on who you talk to) the global crisis, policy paralysis, corruption and such. Inflation too is a massive concern.

The need of the hour, most agree, is a secular, stable and investment-friendly government that helps create prosperity for India’s multitude, and not just for a few seen close to the powerful.

That in essence is also the main topic of discussion some 2000kms to the west of the city – for non-resident Indians in Dubai, a fast growing regional financial hub.

Back in the 70s and 80s, hordes of Indians left the country in search of better opportunities – many of whom came to the oil-producing Middle East countries. The tech boom of the 90s provided them another global opening, though by then economic reforms at home were also taking effect – helping drive growth and creating more and better-paying jobs in the next decade.

Many Indians still look abroad for livelihood, but have increasingly channelled a big chunk of their earnings back home in search of returns. And why not? Even global investors are happily betting on the country’s future.

India topped the global list for remittances in 2013 – receiving some $70 billion, according to a World Bank report last week, underscoring its importance as an important source of foreign exchange. To be sure, remittances last year were “more than the $65 billion earned from the country’s flagship software services exports,” the World Bank noted.

That the country has been among the leading recipients of remittances over the past few years is not surprising, given that some 25 million Indians (variously classified) live abroad and, in several cases, continue to have strong familial ties back home.

The importance of Indians living overseas and their contribution to the country has been recognised on various platforms – such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which has been held every year since 2003 to “mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India,” according to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

The ministry says these conventions facilitate the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people for “mutually beneficial activities”. Simply put, Indians living overseas are increasingly participating more actively back home.

But they – the millions of NRIs – still can’t vote from foreign locations and choose a government of their liking in the country’s general elections.

via Non Residents Are Stakeholders in India’s Future Too – India Real Time – WSJ.

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16/04/2014

Promises and more promises: India’s parties pitch their visions | India Insight

Campaign season in India means it’s also promise season, and political parties aren’t short on pledges for what they would do if they come to power after election results come out in May. From the Tamil Nadu-based MDMK party’s pledge to rename the country “The United States of India” to the Odisha-based BJD‘s promise to “guarantee” development projects, there are plenty of promises floating around to help parties capture, retain or regain power.

There has been plenty of coverage of the manifestos from the biggest national parties, Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, so here are some highlights from the others.

Lok Satta Party: This Andhra Pradesh-based party has promised to nationalise the sale of liquor and to limit the number of stores where people can buy it. Families of liquor “victims,“ meanwhile, would get pensions.

BJD: In power for more than 10 years, the Biju Janata Dal of Odisha has promised to guarantee primary infrastructure needs in the state. It will also make it mandatory for industry to provide shares in projects to people whose land they buy for their projects.

DMK: The former ally of the ruling Congress party will oppose reservation, the setting aside of government jobs for members of groups recognized by the government as disadvantaged, based on economic criteria. It would, however, support caste-based reservation in the private sector. It also proposes that only qualified Tamil people be appointed as India’s envoys to the nations where Tamils live in considerable numbers. The party has also included not “bashing” other parties in their pitch.

AIADMK: Tamil Nadu’s ruling party says it would stop the sale and privatisation of state-owned companies. To stabilise the rupee, the AIADMK says it would not encourage short-term capital flows and will support long-term foreign direct investment.

CPI-Marxist: This Leftist party favours the production of goods for mass consumption rather than “unsustainable” luxury goods. It also would enforce a code of conduct for all elected representatives against sexist language. CPI-M favours revising the India-U.S. nuclear deal and will seek removal of nuclear weapons from the U.S. military base in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

TMC: West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, has promised it will provide a stipend and medical insurance to artists and folk performers. It has also promised to form a court to try human rights violations.

TRS: With the new state of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti says it will give a special “Telangana increment” to government employees to celebrate the state’s formation later this year.

JD(U): The Janata Dal (United) manifesto has promised legislation for the safety and security of migrant workers in India. It wants a commission to study the socio-economic condition of poor upper caste people to draft welfare measures for them.

MDMK: An ally of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, MDMK promises to rename the country “United States of India” to put emphasis on the federal structure. It wants to lift the ban on the LTTE, the Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.

AAP: The Aam Aadmi Party, or common man party, is interested in animal welfare as well as human. It wants to protect the dignity of animals used in industries “for food, clothing and entertainment.” To encourage young people to join politics, it favours allowing 21-year-olds to run for office (the current minimum age is 25). Apart from laws to deal with violence against women, it promises long-term public education programmes to end the culture of gender-based discrimination. It has some provisions to regulate media as well.

BSP: The Bahujan Samaj Party of Uttar Pradesh, which counts millions of Dalits among its supporters, did not release any election pitch. “We do not release manifestos as we believe more in doing real development work for the people rather than making hollow claims which are never realised,” party chief and former UP Chief Minister Mayawati declared at a rally.

via Promises and more promises: India’s parties pitch their visions | India Insight.

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