Archive for ‘India alert’

16/01/2017

India’s prime minister has a knack for shrugging off embarrassment | The Economist

ADDRESSING a conference in his home state of Gujarat on January 10th, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, exuded confidence. India’s economy is the fastest-growing and one of the most open in the world, he declared, reaffirming his government’s commitment to reform.

The 5,000-strong audience, sprinkled with foreign heads of state and corporate bigwigs, applauded warmly. One multinational’s boss drew cheers with a sycophantic call for India to “export” Mr Modi to run his home country, America, too.

The optimism and praise, however, contrasted with sobering economic news. Since November rating agencies have sharply lowered their growth forecasts. Small and medium-sized firms report big lay-offs. Vehicle sales fell in December by 19% compared with the previous December, their steepest drop in 16 years, says a car-industry lobby group. Housing sales in India’s eight biggest cities slid by 44% in the last quarter of 2016 compared with the year before, reckons Knight Frank, a global property firm, in a report. “The Indian government’s demonetisation move on November 8th brought the market to a complete standstill,” it says, alluding to Mr Modi’s surprise order to withdraw 86% of the notes used in daily transactions.

There is little doubt that Mr Modi’s assault on cash has caused ordinary Indians disruption, annoyance and, particularly for the poorest, severe distress—though the pain is easing now as the government prints more money to replace the scrapped notes. Yet just as would-be foreign investors seem happy to continue boosting Mr Modi, many Indians also still trust and admire the prime minister. Like America’s president-elect, Donald Trump, who once claimed he could “shoot somebody” and not lose votes, Mr Modi’s support seems oddly unaffected by his flaws. Anecdotal evidence, online polling and informal surveys all suggest that the prime minister’s misstep has scarcely dented his standing.

Opinion polls in India have a poor record, and none published since the demonetisation drive has specifically measured Mr Modi’s popularity. However, two surveys carried out in December in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous, suggest that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains poised to perform well in imminent state elections. When the results from several rounds of voting are tallied in March, the BJP could be basking in its biggest triumph since Mr Modi won national elections in 2014. The party has not suffered in municipal votes in several states since November and is well positioned in several other looming state polls.

Prior to the demonetisation drive, Mr Modi had handily weathered other storms. Murderous communal riots tarnished his long term as chief minister of Gujarat, for instance. Yet according to Pew, a research firm, the prime minister’s popularity in mid-2016, at an enviable 81%, had declined only marginally from a stunning 87% the year before. The liking is personal: Mr Modi regularly scores higher in such polls than either his party or his policies.

Some pundits speak of “Modi magic” to explain his immunity from criticism, but there are more straightforward reasons. One is the prime minister’s talent as a politician. Although often dour in countenance, Mr Modi is a pithy speaker in Hindi, with an unerring nose for the class-driven grudges that often guide voter sentiment. In debates over demonetisation, he successfully projected himself as a champion of the common man against currency hoarders and tax evaders. He is also extremely protective of his own image as a man above the fray. Mr Modi’s dress, gestures and public appearances are theatrically staid and uniform, punctuated by meaningful looks and silences. He does not hold press conferences, preferring to retain control of his narrative via carefully rehearsed interviews and his monthly “From the Heart” radio address.

Pygmy-slayer

Mr Modi is also lucky. His well-funded, highly disciplined and pan-Indian party faces an unusually divided and uninspiring opposition. Congress, a party that ran India for decades and still commands a nationwide base, is burdened by squabbling and corrupt local branches and a lack of clarity over ideology and the role of the Gandhi dynasty. India’s many other parties are all parochial, tied to the interests of one state, caste or other group, and so with little hope of playing a national role. Handed the golden opportunity of Mr Modi’s demonetisation fumble, the opposition has failed to mount a united charge.

Other institutions that might check Mr Modi’s ambitions, such as the press and the judiciary, are also not as vigilant as in other democracies. Some parts of the media are owned by Mr Modi’s friends and supporters; others by business groups with interests that are vulnerable to retribution. Journalists, whistle-blowers and activists are keenly aware that critics of the government often pay a price, whether in the form of “trolling” on the internet, harassment by officials or spurious lawsuits. India’s courts, meanwhile, do often clash with the government but are cautious in picking fights: on January 11th India’s supreme court airily dismissed a public-interest lawsuit demanding investigation of documents that appear to implicate dozens of officials in bribe-taking.

Even Mr Modi’s foes believe his administration is less corrupt than previous ones have been. However, as the banknote debacle revealed, it is not necessarily much more competent. The most iron-clad rule of Indian politics is anti-incumbency. Even the investors vying for Mr Modi’s attention may take note that, for all the talk of openness, India still has some of the world’s most tangled rules, highest corporate tax rates and most capricious officials.

Source: India’s prime minister has a knack for shrugging off embarrassment | The Economist

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16/01/2017

Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians? – BBC News

Why do India’s political parties field candidates with criminal charges?

Why do the voters favour them despite their tainted past?

Political scientist Milan Vaishnav has been studying links between crime and democracy in India for many years now. His upcoming book When Crime Pays offers some intriguing insights into what is a disturbing feature of India’s electoral democracy.

The good news is that the general election is a thriving, gargantuan exercise: 554 million voters queued up at more than 900,000 stations to cast their ballots in the last edition in 2014. The fortunes of 8,250 candidates representing 464 political parties were at stake.

The bad news is that a third (34%) of 543 MPs who were elected faced criminal charges, up from 30% in 2009 and 24% in 2004.

Fiercely competitive

Some of the charges were of minor nature or politically motivated. But more than 20% of the new MPs faced serious charges such as attempted murder, assaulting public officials, and theft.

Now, India’s general elections are not exactly a cakewalk.The Indian politicians facing criminal charges

Why do many India MPs have criminal records?

Politics and the barrel of the gun

Over time, they have become fiercely competitive: 464 parties were in the fray in 2014, up from 55 in the first election in 1952.

The average margin of victory was 9.7% in 2009, the thinnest since the first election. At 15%, the average margin of victory was fatter in the landslide 2014 polls, but even this was vastly lower than, say, the average margin of victory in the 2012 US Congressional elections (32%) and the 2010 general election in Britain (18%).

India’s elections are fiercely competitiveAlmost all parties in India, led by the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress, field tainted candidates. Why do they do so?

For one, says Dr Vaishnav, “a key factor motivating parties to select candidates with serious criminal records comes down to cold, hard cash”.

The rising cost of elections and a shadowy election financing system where parties and candidates under-report collections and expenses means that parties prefer “self-financing candidates who do not represent a drain on the finite party coffers but instead contribute ‘rents’ to the party”. Many of these candidates have criminal records.

There are three million political positions in India’s three-tier democracy; each election requires considerable resources.

Many parties are like personal fiefs run by dominant personalities and dynasts, and lacking inner-party democracy – conditions, which help “opportunistic candidates with deep pockets”.

‘Good proxy’

“Wealthy, self financing candidates are not only attractive to parties but they are also likely to be more electorally competitive. Contesting elections is an expensive proposition in most parts of the world, a candidate’s wealth is a good proxy for his or her electoral vitality,” says Dr Vaishnav, who is senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Political parties also nominate candidates with criminal backgrounds to stand for election because, simply put, they win.

During his research, Dr Vaishnav studied all candidates who stood in the last three general elections. He separated them into candidates with clean records and candidates with criminal records, and found that the latter had an 18% chance of winning their next election whereas the “clean” candidates had only a 6% chance.

Many Indians vote on lines on identity and religion

He did a similar calculation for candidates contesting state elections between 2003 and 2009, and found a “large winning advantage for candidates who have cases pending against them”.

Politics also offers a lucrative career – a 2013 study showed that the average wealth of sitting legislators increased 222% during just one term in office. The officially declared average wealth of re-contesting candidates – including losers and winners – was $264,000 (£216,110) in 2004 and $618,000 in 2013, an increase of 134%.

‘Biggest criminal’

Now why do Indians vote for criminal candidates? Is it because many of the voters are illiterate, ignorant, or simply, ill-informed?

Dr Vaishnav doesn’t believe so.

Candidates with criminal records don’t mask their reputation. Earlier this month, a candidate belonging to the ruling party in northern Uttar Pradesh state reportedly boasted to a party worker that he was the “biggest criminal”. Increasing information through media and rising awareness hasn’t led to a shrinking of tainted candidates.

Dr Vaishnav believes reasonably well-informed voters support criminal candidates in constituencies where social divisions driven by caste and/or religion are sharp and the government is failing to carry out its functions – delivering services, dispensing justice, or providing security – in an impartial manner.

“There is space here for a criminal candidate to present himself as a Robin Hood-like figure,” says Dr Vaishnav.

Clearly, crime and politics will remain inextricably intertwined as long as India doesn’t make its election financing system transparent, parties become more democratic and the state begins to deliver ample services and justice.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested state funding of polls to help clean up campaign financing. Earlier this month, he said people had the right to know where the BJP got its funds from. Some 14% of the candidates his BJP party fielded in the last elections had faced serious charges. (More than 10% of the candidates recruited by the Congress faced charges). But no party is walking the talk yet.

Source: Why do Indians vote for ‘criminal’ politicians? – BBC News

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13/01/2017

India’s Working Women – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

India has one of the world’s most lopsided female participation rates in its labor force, an imbalance global chains want to change as they establish foothold in the world’s second-most populous nation.

A Wall Street Journal article outlines how fast-food chains have become an unlikely source of female empowerment and employment.

Here is a look at the numbers behind the country’s female workforce.

Less Than One Third

Only 27% of India’s workforce is female, far below the world average of 50%, according to the World Bank. Tanzania has the highest percentage of women in its workforce, at 88%, while Syria has the lowest, at 14%.

63%

A vast majority of India’s working women–about 63%–are employed as helpers on farms. Women typically account for less than one in five employees in sectors outside agriculture.

1%

It is hardest to find women in the transportation sector in India, partly because families shield their daughters and sisters from traveling alone and forbid them from activities that may involve late nights, such as trucking. Only 1% of India’s transport sector is made up of women.

At Least One Third

At least one in three employees working for a global food chain in India is female. American fast-food chains offer female-only shifts, self-defense classes, mentoring programs and parents’ lunches to draw more women into their stores and convince their families they are a safe place to work. Having 30% workers as women may not seem particularly high, but that’s more than twice the average for the food-service industry in India, where only 14% workers are female.

Source: India’s Working Women – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

13/01/2017

India’s Massive Aadhaar Biometric Identification Program – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

The rollout of India’s new biometric identification system is not without problems as outlined in a story in The Wall Street Journal Friday.

One of the biggest reasons there are still issues with the biometric IDs–which are already being used widely to distribute subsidies for food and fuel–is the sheer scale of Aadhaar.

Here are a few of the numbers that point to the size of the program which is leading to the problems.

1.1 BILLION

The number of Aadhaar cards issued. Enrollment started in 2009, and now the system can process 1.5 million applications a day. That still leaves out about 150 million Indians without cards.

86%

The percentage of all Indians who hold Aadhaar cards. For those older than 18 the percentage is 99.5%. Most of those left out are infants, because fingerprint recognition isn’t reliable until a certain age. Still the government has already started to assigning numbers to newborns.

15 MILLION

The number of transactions per day involving Aadhaar. That is a five-fold rise from a year ago when there were 3 million a day.

4 BILLION

The total number of times the Aadhaar system has been used so far for authentication and identification.

377 MILLION

Number of Aadhaar number linked to bank accounts. Going forward, the connection to bank accounts will make transactions smoother and allow bank clients to move funds just by using their fingertips.

Source: India’s Massive Aadhaar Biometric Identification Program – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

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12/01/2017

Amazon Yanks Indian-Flag Doormats as New Delhi Threatens Punishment – India Real Time – WSJ

Amazon.com Inc. pulled doormats emblazoned with the Indian flag from its Canadian website after the South Asian nation’s foreign minister threatened to oust the Seattle company’s employees.

This is unacceptable,” Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to a posting from a user showing an image of the doormats for sale.

Ms. Swaraj, who has 7 million followers on the platform, called on Amazon to remove the “insulting” products and threatened to rescind visas for Amazon’s foreign staff in India if action wasn’t taken.Her three tweets on the issue garnered more than 19,000 retweets and more than 30,000 likes, with some users calling on “all angry Indians” to email Amazon founder Jeff Bezos directly.

Source: Amazon Yanks Indian-Flag Doormats as New Delhi Threatens Punishment – India Real Time – WSJ

10/01/2017

Will India Get Rid of Plastic Money by 2020? – India Real Time – WSJ

After India’s government took 86% of currency out of circulation a couple of months ago, its main policy think-tank has a new plan for the country: rendering plastic money “irrelevant” by 2020.Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog, which helps the government formulate long-term policies, said Sunday that India was in the midst of a “huge disruption” in financial technology and innovation, which will enable the country to transition from using plastic money to mobile transactions.

“By 2020, India will make all debit cards, all credit cards, all ATM machines, all [point-of-sale] machines totally irrelevant,” Mr. Kant said at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangalore.

“In 30 seconds flat, we’ll all be doing our transactions by using our thumb.”

The annual event is aimed at increasing engagement between the government and Indians living overseas.

Mr. Kant was referring to a new mobile app launched by Mr. Modi last week as the 50-day deadline for depositing invalidated 500- and 1000-rupee bank notes came to an end.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event in Bangalore, India on Sunday.

Mr. Modi had on Nov. 8 announced the withdrawal of the country’s largest bank notes to crackdown on corruption and counterfeiting. The move caused a severe cash shortage in the economy, although Mr. Modi said later that the problems would abate in 50 days once new bills were back in circulation.

“Give me time until Dec. 30. After that, if any fault is found in my intentions or my actions, I am willing to suffer any punishment given by the country,” he had said.

After 50 days, queues were still forming outside ATMs to withdraw cash, despite the work to recalibrate almost all of the country’s 215,000 ATM machines to issue the new, slimmer notes being completed.

“Bhim,” the new digital payments app currently allows users of Google’s Android platform to transfer money directly from one bank account to another. The government plans to link the app to “Aadhar,” India’s unique identification program. Once that is done, consumers will be able to transact by using their thumbprints to authorize transactions.

“In the next two years, the power of ‘Bhim’ will be such that you wouldn’t need a smartphone, feature phone or even Internet. Your thumb would be enough,” Mr. Modi said at the unveiling of the app on Dec. 30.

The app has already been downloaded by more than 10 million users, Mr. Modi said in a tweet on Monday.

He also took to twitter to tell Indians how the app was a “fine example” of the government’s ‘Make in India’ plan aimed at encouraging local manufacturing, and also the use of technology to end corruption and black money.

On Sunday, Mr. Modi thanked 30 million Indians living abroad for contributing about $69 billion to India’s economy through remittances and hit back at the critics of his government’s currency move.

“It is unfortunate that some worshipers of black money are calling our move anti-people,” he said.

Source: Will India Get Rid of Plastic Money by 2020? – India Real Time – WSJ

06/01/2017

The high economic costs of India’s demonetisation | The Economist

MOST economists might hazard a guess that voiding the bulk of a country’s currency overnight would dent its immediate growth prospects. On November 8th India took this abstruse thought experiment into the real world, scrapping two banknotes which made up 86% of all rupees in circulation. Predictably, the economy appears indeed to have been hobbled by the sudden “demonetisation”. Evidence of the measure’s costs is mounting, while the benefits look ever more uncertain.

At least the new year has brought a semblance of monetary normality. For seven weeks queues had snaked around banks, the main way for Indians to exchange their old notes for new ones or deposit them in their accounts. That is over, largely because the window to exchange money closed on December 30th. The number of fresh notes that can be withdrawn from ATMs or bank counters is still curtailed, but the acute cash shortage is abating, at least in big cities.

As data trickle through, so is evidence of the economic price paid for demonetisation. Consumers, companies and investors all wobbled in late 2016. Fast-moving consumer goods, usually a reliable growth sector, retrenched by 1-1.5% in November, according to Nielsen, a research group. Bigger-ticket items seem to have been hit harder. Year-on-year sales at Hero Motocorp, the biggest purveyor of two-wheelers, slid by more than a third in December.AdvertisementA survey of purchasing managers in manufacturing plunged from relative optimism throughout 2016 to the expectation of mild contraction. Firms’ investment proposals fell from an average of 2.4trn rupees ($35bn) a quarter to just 1.25trn rupees in the one just ended, according to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a data provider. As a result, corporate-credit growth, already anaemic, has reached its lowest rate in at least 30 years (see chart).

All this amounts to “a significant but not catastrophic” impact, says Shilan Shah of Capital Economics, a consultancy. Annual GDP growth forecasts for the fiscal year ending in March have slipped by around half a percentage point, to under 7%, from an actual rate of 7.3% in the last full quarter before demonetisation. Other factors, such as the rise in the oil price and the surge in the value of the dollar after the election of Donald Trump, are also at play.

Whether the costs of the exercise justify the benefits depends, of course, on what those benefits are. In his speech announcing the measure, Narendra Modi, the prime minister, highlighted combating corruption and untaxed wealth. Gangsters and profiteers with suitcases full of money would be left stranded. But reports suggest that nearly 15trn rupees of the 15.4trn rupees taken out of circulation are now accounted for. So either the rich weren’t hoarding as much “black money” as was supposed, or they have proved adept at laundering it. The Indian press is full of tales of household staff paid months in advance in old notes, or of bankers agreeing to exchange vast sums illegally.

Fans of demonetisation point to three beneficial outcomes.

First, banks, laden with fresh deposits, will lend this money out and so boost the economy. Big banks cut lending rates this week (quite possibly nudged by government, the largest shareholder of most of them). But their lending recently has not been constrained by a lack of deposits, so much as by insufficient shareholder capital to absorb potential losses, and by the over-borrowed balance-sheets of many industrial customers.

Second, Indians will move from living cash in hand into the taxed formal economy. Mr Modi has recently promoted the idea of a cashless, or “less-cash”, India (not something mentioned at the outset), as one reason for demonetisation. Progress towards getting Indians to pay for things electronically is indeed being made, but from an abysmally low base.

The third upshot is the most controversial. Now that the demonetised bank notes are worthless, the government is intent on in effect appropriating the proceeds. The procedure requires trampling on the credibility of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank, which must first agree to dishonour the promise, on all banknotes, to “pay the bearer” the value. If it does so, “extinguishing” the notes and its liability for them, it can transfer an equivalent amount to the government budget.

With so much cash handed in at banks, the amount remitted to government by the RBI might amount to perhaps 0.2-0.3% of GDP. Proceeds from a tax-amnesty scheme for cash-hoarders may swell the figure. Even so, it will not be enough to justify the costs of demonetisation—or even, perhaps, the damage to the reputation of the RBI, which is already facing questions about its independence. But having imposed the costs, Mr Modi will be keen to trumpet whatever benefits he can find.

Source: The high economic costs of India’s demonetisation | The Economist

04/01/2017

India’s double first in climate battle – BBC News

Two world-leading clean energy projects have opened in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

A £3m industrial plant is capturing the CO2 emissions from a coal boiler and using the CO2 to make valuable chemicals. It is a world first.

And just 100km away is the world’s biggest solar farm, making power for 150,000 homes on a 10 sq km site.

The industrial plant appears especially significant as it offers a breakthrough by capturing CO2 without subsidy.

Built at a chemical plant in the port city of Tuticorin, it is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by incorporating them into the recipes for baking soda and other chemicals.

Here’s how it works:

The plant operates a coal-fired boiler to make steam for its chemical operations.CO2 emissions from the boiler’s chimney are stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.

A stream of CO2 is fed into the chemicals plant as an ingredient for baking soda and other compounds with many uses, including the manufacturing of glass, detergents and sweeteners.

Zero emissions

The owner of the chemicals plant, Ramachadran Gopalan, told a BBC Radio 4 documentary: “I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.”

He says his operation has now almost zero emissions. He hopes soon to install a second coal boiler to make more CO2 to synthesise fertiliser.

The chemical used in stripping the CO2 from the flue gas was invented by two young Indian chemists. They failed to raise Indian finance to develop it, but their firm, Carbonclean Solutions, working with the Institute of Chemical Technology at Mumbai and Imperial College in London, got backing from the UK’s entrepreneur support scheme.

Their technique uses a form of salt to bond with CO2 molecules in the boiler chimney. The firm says it is more efficient than typical amine compounds used for the purpose.

The plant is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year

They say it also needs less energy, produces less alkaline waste and allows the use of a cheaper form of steel – all radically reducing the cost of the whole operation.

The firm admits its technology of Carbon Capture and Utilisation won’t cure climate change, but says it may provide a useful contribution by gobbling up perhaps 5-10% of the world’s emissions from coal.

Lord Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell, and now director and head of the UK government’s carbon capture advisory group, told the BBC: “We have to do everything we can to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels and it is great news that more ways are being found of turning at least some of the CO2 into useful products.”

Solar farm

Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India’s ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.

The world’s largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern IndiaIt is truly enormous; from the tall observation tower, the ranks of black panels stretch almost to the horizon.Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a “more of everything” approach to energy.

The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia’s biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India. Renewables, it says, can’t answer India’s vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.

Will India stick to its renewables promises with Donald Trump as US president?And questions have been raised recently as to whether India will stick to its renewables promises now President-elect Donald Trump may be about to scrap climate targets for the US.

At the recent Marrakech climate conference, China, the EU and many developing countries pledged to forge ahead with emissions-cutting plans regardless of US involvement. But India offered no such guarantee.

Some environmentalists are not too worried: they think economics may drive India’s clean energy revolution.

Source: India’s double first in climate battle – BBC News

31/12/2016

5 Billionaire Families From India’s Powerful Parsi Minority – Briefly – WSJ

India’s Parsis are one of the most successful minority and migrant groups in the world. They make up less than 0.005% of India’s population but three out of the country’s top 10 billionaires.They fled Iran and settled in India in the 10th century and have since played an outsized role in the evolution of India’s economy as pioneers of trade and industry.

For centuries, prominent Parsis have shared their success through philanthropy – their religion encourages wealth creation as well as charity–so the names of top Parsi traders and industrialists are plastered on the hospitals, schools, libraries and streets of Mumbai and other cities.

A Wall Street Journal article looks at how the battle for control of the $100 billion Tata Group–which was founded and headed by Parsis – has caused a lot of stress and soul searching in the proud community. Three of the richest Parsi families – the Tatas, the Mistrys and the Wadias – are involved in the unusually ugly and public brawl which has now shifted to the courts.

Here are snapshots of those three Parsi families and two others that have made billions building the backbone of Indian industry.

1 Tata Head: Ratan Tata

Net worth:  $570 Million

Established: 1868

Industries: Software, steel, autos, hospitality, airlines

Companies: Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Tetley Tea

2 Mistry Head: Pallonji Mistry (father of Cyrus Mistry)

Net worth:  $15 billion

Established: 1865

Industries: Property development, construction, energy

Companies: SP Real Estate, SP Infra, Eureka

3 Wadia Current leader: Nusli Wadia

Net worth:  $3 billion

Established: 1736

Industries: Textiles, property, food, health

Companies: Bombay Dyeing, Britannia, Go Airlines

4 Godrej Current leader: Adi Godrej

Net worth: $12 billion

Established: 1897

Industries: Consumer durables, retail, property

Companies: Godrej Consumer Products, Godrej Properties, Gorej Industries

5 Poonawalla Head: Cyrus Poonawalla

Net worth: $12 billion

Established: 1966

Industries: Biotech, vaccines

Companies: Serum Institute of India, Poonawalla Stud Farms

Source: 5 Billionaire Families From India’s Powerful Parsi Minority – Briefly – WSJ

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22/12/2016

Are India and Pakistan set for water wars? – BBC News

India is stepping up efforts to maximise its water use from the western rivers of the Indus basin, senior officials have told the BBC.

The move would involve building huge storage facilities and canals.

The three rivers flow through Indian-administered Kashmir but most of the water is allotted to Pakistan under an international treaty.

Experts say Delhi is using the water issue to put pressure on Pakistan in the dispute over Kashmir.Relations have deteriorated since a deadly militant attack on an Indian base in September. Pakistan denies any link to the attack.

Why India’s water dispute with Pakistan matters

Kashmir: Why India and Pakistan fight over it

Kashmir profiled

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said a government taskforce is finalising details of the water project, which he has made a priority.

“The ball has started rolling and we will see some results soon, most of them will be about building new storages in the basin,” one top official said on condition of anonymity.

Another senior official said: “We are quite familiar with the terrain as we have already built a number of structures there.

But he added: “We are talking about few years here.

“How much water is at stake?

India wants to “maximise” its use of water from the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers. Millions of people in both countries depend on water in the rivers.

An official with India’s water resources ministry insisted that this action would be “well within” the terms of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

India began reviewing the treaty after the militant attack in Indian-administered Kashmir in September in which 19 soldiers were killed.Delhi accused Islamabad of being behind the attack and relations have plummeted, leading to a rise in cross-border tensions.

The IWT was signed in 1960 and allocated the three eastern rivers – the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej – of the Indus basin to India, while 80% of the three western ones – the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab – was allotted to Pakistan.

India says it has not fully utilised the 20% of water given to it in the three western rivers. Pakistan disputes this.

Officials in Delhi said the IWT allows India to irrigate 1.4 million acres of land using water from those rivers.

But they say only 800,000 acres are irrigated at present.

They added that the building of hydropower projects would also be accelerated.

India currently generates around 3,000MW of hydroelectricity from the western rivers, but the Indus basin is said to have a potential of nearly 19,000 MW.

How safe is the water treaty?

 

Pakistan is watching India’s moves closely.

India shares a heavily militarised international border with Pakistan

Speaking in an open debate of the United Nations Security Council on “water, peace and security” last month, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, denounced any use of water as an “instrument of coercion and war”.

“The IWT is equally a good case study of what could go wrong if such agreements are not honoured or threatened by one of the state parties to be abrogated altogether.

“Water experts say the treaty seems to have at least survived because India is not talking about withdrawing from it.

But, they believe, maximising use of water from the western rivers in the Indus basin can still fuel tensions.

Islamabad is already unhappy with some of India’s existing water projects.It has asked the World Bank, which brokered the signing of the treaty between the two countries, for a court of arbitration to consider two Indian hydropower projects in the Indus basin.

India has objected to this move, prompting the bank to pause the dispute process while it tries to persuade the two countries to resolve their disagreements, fearing that otherwise the treaty itself could be in peril.

In 1987, Delhi suspended the Tulbul navigation project on the Jhelum river after Pakistan objected to it.But sources within India’s Water Resources Ministry say this project could now be revived.

“The decision to review the suspension signalled the Modi government’s intent to revive it irrespective of Pakistan’s protests,” the Times of India newspaper wrote.

“As an implication, India gets to control Jhelum water, impact Pakistan’s agriculture.

“What else could India do?

Some experts say India could also demand a review of the IWT.

“The review can be used to demand more rights over the western rivers,” says Himanshu Thakkar, a regional water resources expert with South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People.

Some water resources analysts believe Delhi will also have to be mindful of China before making any major move.

In September, Tibet blocked a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo river (known as the Bramhaputra in India) as part of its most expensive hydro project, Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The news came just when Indian media were suggesting that Delhi could pull out of the IWT.

“We need to remember that China is an upper riparian country in Indus and Bramhaputra basins and it is also Pakistan’s closest ally,” said Mr Thakkar.

Many experts agree that completing such huge and complex infrastructure projects may not be as swift as some Indian officials suggest.

Source: Are India and Pakistan set for water wars? – BBC News

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