Posts tagged ‘Arab States of the Persian Gulf’

11/10/2016

Diaspora Dollars Dwindle: Indian Remittance Growth Slips to 12-Year Low – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s global army of expatriates–which does everything from writing software in Silicon Valley to building skyscrapers in in Qatar–is the world’s most generous when it comes to number of dollars sent home, but this year they have become a bit stingy.

Recently released World Bank estimates predict the Desi diaspora will send home $65.45 billion this year. While that is just above remittances into China ($65.17 billion) and tens of billions beyond any other country, it is a 5% decline from last year.

The last time India saw a bigger slide in remittances was back in 2004 when remittances fell 11%.

Globally, remittances are expected to edge up about 1% this year, the World Bank predicted, so why is India underperforming?

The main problem is that many of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have been struggling with the decline in oil prices. That has meant they are hiring fewer Indians, providing fewer perks to their international employees and in some countries even restricting the number of foreigners that can be hired.

“This year the South Asia region would see a decline of 2.3% in remittances to the region due mainly to the impact of declining oil prices and labor market nationalization policies on remittances from GCC countries,” the report said. “Moving forward remittance growth in the region is expected to remain subdued.”

Some parts of the southern state of Kerala and other regions in India that depend on remittances are already starting to feel the pain from the decline in oil riches.

The World Bank expects remittance growth to return, expanding 2.2% in South Asia next year and 2.3% the year after that. Globally remittance growth will likely be stuck below 4% for years, the bank said.

“Remittances continue to be an important component of the global economy, surpassing international aid. However this ‘new normal’ of weak growth in remittances could present challenges for millions of families that rely heavily on these flows. This, in turn, can seriously impact the economies of many countries around the world bringing on a new set of challenges to economic growth,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group.

Source: Diaspora Dollars Dwindle: Indian Remittance Growth Slips to 12-Year Low – India Real Time – WSJ

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18/06/2016

New App Promises to Tell Indian Farmers When to Sow Crops – India Real Time – WSJ

Monsoon season in India has just begun, but farmers in Andhra Pradesh, a southeastern coastal state of India, won’t need to look to the skies to know when to sow their crops.

A new mobile application launched earlier this month and developed by a local agriculture research institute, Microsoft India and the state government tells farmers in the state which week is perfect for sowing seeds, the health of their soil and other indicators.

The app uses rainfall data collected from farms in 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh over 45 years to give farmers a sense of when to start planting, Suhas P. Wani, director of Asia research at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics or ICRISAT, a research organization in Hyderabad said.Farmers are asked to register a mobile number with the state government, choose a language–currently limited to the regional Telugu and English–and enter details of the village, district or sub-district.

The advice received could vary from farmer to farmer and from village to village, Mr. Wani said. “The app has crop-specific information such as 10 years of groundnut sowing progress data” to guide farmers who grow specific crops, he added.

He said that constant data on crop yield was being collected on a monthly basis by field officers and sent for evaluation to provide regular forecasts to farmers.

A weather button shows the temperature and rainfall as well as fertilizer recommendations for the day and projection for the next seven days. Additionally, a farmer can get weather alerts for extreme conditions like hailstorms or unseasonal rains that impact crop yields.

Andhra Pradesh logged the highest number of farmer suicides in the country last year. At least 58 farmers took their own lives in the state, according to an agriculture ministry report.

But not every farmer can afford to invest in expensive smartphone technology.

So far, most of the farmers have requested to be sent the information via SMS message. Mr. Wani said once registered, farmers can get the predicted sowing date through SMS. “The main idea behind the application is to help farmers reduce losses by telling when to sow seeds or spray the plants,” he said.

The application will be rolled out in other Indian states next year, based on feedback from farmers in the state, he added.

Source: New App Promises to Tell Indian Farmers When to Sow Crops – India Real Time – WSJ

21/12/2015

Shifting barriers | The Economist

THE pillars of social control are flaking at the edges.

First came the relaxation in October of draconian family-planning restrictions. Now it is the turn of the household-registration, or hukou, system, which determines whether a person may enjoy subsidised public services in urban areas—rural hukou holders are excluded. On December 12th the government announced what state media trumpeted as the biggest shake-up in decades of the hukou policy, which has aggravated a huge social divide in China’s cities and curbed the free flow of labour.

The pernicious impact of the system, however, will long persist. As with the adjustment to the decades-old family-planning policy (now all couples will be allowed to have two children), the latest changes to the hukou system follow years of half-hearted tinkering. They will allow migrant workers to apply for special residency permits which provide some of the benefits of an urban hukou (a booklet proving household registration is pictured above).

If an urban hukou is like an internal passport, the residency permit is like a green card. Under the arrangements, migrants will be able to apply for a permit if they have lived in a city for six months, and can show either an employment contract or a tenancy agreement. The document will allow access to state health care where the migrants live, and permit their children to go to local state schools up to the age of 15. It will also make other bureaucratic things easier, like buying a car. Such reforms have already been tried in some cities. They will now be rolled out nationwide.

For those who meet the requirements, the changes will bring two main benefits. They should allow some of the 70m children who have been left behind to attend school in their native villages to join their migrant parents. And it will allow migrants to use urban services without losing the main benefit of their rural hukou: the right to farm a plot of land. According to a survey in 2010 by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 90% of migrants did not want to change their registration status because they feared losing this right.

Source: Shifting barriers | The Economist

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