Posts tagged ‘United States Congress’

13/10/2016

Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News

The VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, a boarding school in India‘s Uttar Pradesh state, is offering an elite education for pupils drawn from the rural poor.

There are about 200 places on offer each year – but such is the appetite for families to get a better life for their children, there are 250,000 applications.

The school, set up by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, is completely free, and offers the type of education usually available only to the very wealthy.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, a businesswoman and trustee of the foundation, says the school has been modelled on India’s private schools, which put students on the pathway to top universities and high-flying careers.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra wants the school to produce a more meritocratic generation of leaders for India

But the VidyaGyan school is open only to the very clever and very poor – which she describes as the “top of the bottom of the pyramid”.

No-one can even apply u

Unless their family income is below the equivalent of £1,500 per year, and the school carries out checks to make sure that better-off families are not trying to get in.

“Most of India is rural, there is a huge population in India not being tapped for their excellence. They have no access to great universities,” says Ms Malhotra, who is chief executive officer of the HCL technology company.

A performer from Uttar Pradesh prepares to take part in a festival

“We wanted to see if we could have an admissions system that was truly meritorious.”

The admissions system operates on an epic scale.

After the initial 250,000 applications, Ms Malhotra says, about 125,000 turn up to take a written test.

The drop-out rate is a reflection of the tough lives of these families, who might struggle to travel to a local test centre or be stopped by bad weather.

The school’s ambition is for its students to compete anywhere in the world

Based on the results, there is a shortlist of about 6,000 students, who then take another set of tests. There are also visits to the homes of applicants.

This sifting process produces an intake of 200 pupils, boys and girls, who are taught, clothed, fed and housed by the school.

These children from the poorest rural families, a deliberate mix of religions and castes, then receive a high-cost education, exposing them to ideas and opportunities.

It is an intensive process, designed to create a “stepping stone” to top universities in India or abroad.

The school has been founded to help clever poor pupils from Uttar Pradesh

It has become such a phenomenon that there are now coaching academies dedicated to training people for the test.

So far the school has cost the foundation £59m – and Ms Malhotra says there have been questions about whether the money would have been better spent on teaching basic literacy to much bigger numbers of young people.The final intake of 200 pupils stands compared with Uttar Pradesh’s population of about 200 million.

But Ms Malhotra says the distinct purpose of the school is to create a leadership academy focusing on providing a chance for disadvantaged youngsters to compete with India’s elite.

These are the children of poor, uneducated farmers, and she wants them to be equipped to reach the top in politics, business or sport.

The school is intended to provide a stepping stone to top universities

And she says there is a “ripple effect” on the home villages of these pupils, as they see their young people being able to go to a top university in India or in Europe or the United States.

“When students get into a great university, it’s a huge aspirational lift for their village. These students become beacons of hope.”

There are also expectations of paying back to their local communities. In the summer, when they go home, they have to carry out a socially useful project, such as providing cleaner water, clearing away rubbish or finding a safer way of cooking.

“It’s about getting their hands dirty and finding out how to solve problems,” says Ms Malhotra.

Once pupils are accepted, everything in the school is free for families

The school’s first graduates have left with “stellar results”, but she also wants them to be equipped to compete with international students anywhere.

“It’s not just about getting in, they need to be able to survive. All of a sudden you’re thrown in with other highly competitive students from all over the world.”

It will be some time before it is possible to see if they become India’s future leaders, she says. “But they’re on their way.”

Source: Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News

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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

23/03/2015

India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian and Chinese officials are meeting in New Delhi this week for talks on a border dispute that has for decades strained relations between the neighbors — the first such negotiations since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year.

The two Asian countries are separated by a nearly 2,200-mile border whose exact location is a subject of bitter dispute. China claims India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls southern Tibet. India claims a Chinese-controlled region it calls Aksai Chin as part of its northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir.

India periodically accuses Chinese troops of “transgressions” across the two countries’ ill-defined boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. Officials on both sides say such incidents are likely to continue – and perhaps escalate as India further develops its border lands – until the boundary is properly marked and settled.

The dispute cast a shadow over Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year – and on Mr. Modi’s efforts to improve relations with China. As Mr. Xi held his first official talks with Mr. Modi in September last year, their countries’ armies were locked in a tense face-off in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Roughly 1,000 troops were called in on both sides, making it the biggest border confrontation between the two nations in decades.

Such episodes have interfered with the two countries’ efforts to deepen commercial relations as India seeks foreign investment to modernize its infrastructure. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit China in May as part of those efforts.

Talks this week between China’s representative on the boundary question, Yang Jiechi, and India’s national security advisor, Ajit Doval, are aimed at giving momentum to the border talks.

Indian analysts say China may be more willing to negotiate given Mr. Modi’s steps to strengthen India’s ties with the United States. Mr. Modi visited the White House last year and U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to India to review a symbolically important military parade in January, signaling a willingness on India’s part to move closer to Washington.

But, Indian officials said, it won’t be easy. “It is an incredibly difficult problem if you look at the amount of real estate at stake and the length of the border,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry, who declined to be named.  The Indian government’s approach, the official said, is “let’s not let it drift.”

via India and China Talk About Their Disputed Border – India Real Time – WSJ.

19/01/2015

“Take money from BJP & Congress, but vote for AAP” – The Hindu

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal was on Sunday at the centre of a controversy when he asked voters in Delhi to take the money offered by the BJP and the Congress but “fool” them by voting for the AAP in the coming Delhi Assembly elections, drawing sharp criticism from both the parties.

Mr. Kejriwal asked voters to “fool” BJP and Congress by voting for AAP even after accepting the “bribe money” as the parties have been “fooling people for the last 65 years.”File photo

“It’s election time. When people from the BJP and the Congress come offering money, don’t refuse, accept … some have looted money from 2G, some have looted money from coal scam.”

“And if any party does not show up, go to its office and take the amount saying we were waiting but you didn’t come,” Mr. Kejriwal said amid cheers from the crowd.

The former Delhi Chief Minister was speaking at a rally in West Delhi’s Nawada area in support of the AAP’s Uttam Nagar candidate, Naresh Balyan.

“Take money from both the parties but vote for the AAP. We will fool them this time. They have been deceiving us for the last 65 years. Now it’s our turn,” he said.

The BJP lashed out at the AAP chief saying his comments amounted to questioning the authority of the Election Commission apart from being an affront to the voters.

“He is essentially saying that voters accept money and alcohol. His comments also mean that the EC is not working properly as money and alcohol are getting distributed,” BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said.

The Congress said the party would seek legal opinion to approach the EC against Mr. Kejriwal for “insulting” the people of Delhi.

“Making such statements is illegal. It is like offering money to the people,” said Ajay Maken, who is campaign committee chief of the Congress in Delhi.

via “Take money from BJP & Congress, but vote for AAP” – The Hindu.

20/02/2014

* Third Front Stokes Fears of Unstable Government: Corporate India – Businessweek

An alliance of regional parties in India is eyeing power in the general election due by May. That’s rattling some of the nation’s companies.

Eleven disparate groups holding 17 percent of parliamentary seats formed a bloc this month to pass legislation, a precursor to a possible alternative to the ruling Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Moody’s Investors Service warned last week that any so-called third front government could lack a common agenda to revive the country’s struggling economy, pressuring both the rupee and India’s credit rating.

“The minimum they can do is to remove the uncertainty on the policy front so that having invested we don’t start regretting,” Debnarayan Bhattacharya, managing director of Hindalco Industries Ltd., said in a Feb. 14 interview, referring to the next government of Asia’s third-largest economy. Otherwise “people will think twice, thrice, four times before investing.” Hindalco is India’s second-largest aluminum maker.

via Third Front Stokes Fears of Unstable Government: Corporate India – Businessweek.

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10/01/2014

Firms Give Big Backing to Indian Politics – India Real Time – WSJ

Note that unlike Western businesses that tend to make doantions to one of the main parites, Indian businesses hedge theor bets and donate to both the main parties.

“Which Indian businessman has previously claimed not to be a big fan of Indian politics? Answer: Ratan Tata, the former chairman of one of the world’s best-known Indian companies.

Still, his firm is among dozens of Indian conglomerates pumping millions of dollars into political campaigns across India each year. And unlike billion-dollar American companies who either lean left or right, big firms here extend support – at least monetarily – to both the secular Congress and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, the two largest parties in India.

That was one of the several findings by Association for Democratic Reforms, a New Delhi-based think-tank, which recently analyzed documents detailing donations in the run-up to federal polls this year.

ADR, through analysis of documents submitted to the Election Commission of India, estimated that the two parties had collectively raised about 4.13 billion rupees ($66 million) from the start of 2004 through 2012, the vast majority of which, 3.64 billion rupees ($58 million) or about 87%, came from Indian corporations.

India is expected to go to polls in May and parties likely to rely heavily on donations for funding. Although much is widely known to be off the books, according to ADR, a breakdown of public donations shows that business is one of the largest funding sources for both parties.

The country’s bureaucracy has often been dubbed a nightmare for businesses, with “widespread corruption and fickle regulations” making business a “frustrating and expensive” affair, as this Hong Kong-based consultancy notes. But that hasn’t deterred corporate houses from donating to political parties who, when in office, implement and introduce legislative red tape.

“Companies obviously want to be in the good books of both parties,” Anurag Mittal, who headed research for the ADR report, said about the corporates’ decision to fund parties with opposing ideologies. “They’re playing it safe; they want their businesses to remain intact irrespective of whoever comes to power,” he added.

The Congress, which swept national polls in 2004 and 2009, received 1.87 billion rupees ($30 million) in donations between 2004 to 2012. About 1.72 billion rupees ($27 million), or 92% of these funds, came from business houses.

Meanwhile, the BJP generated marginally more, raising 2.26 billion rupees ($36 million) in the same period. But the conservative Hindu party, which boycotted recent proposals to attract foreign investors, wasn’t quite as popular in the business world. Around 85% or 1.92 billion ($31 million) of donations to the party came from corporations.

via Firms Give Big Backing to Indian Politics – India Real Time – WSJ.

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