N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

India: PM Modi’s Puja Ceremony Sets the Stage for Ethical Governance

The inauguration of India’s new parliament building by Prime Minister Modi was a grand affair, capturing the attention of millions with its splendid display. Completed in just over two years, the building’s magnificent style and structure have been widely praised. However, it was the installation of the Sengol (Sceptre) that truly stood out during this elegant ceremony. Historically, Sengol has symbolized justice and good governance in India.

Amidst Vedic chants by Hindu priests, Prime Minister Modi performed the Ganapathi Puja (devotional prayer) and humbly prostrated himself before the Sengol. Seeking blessings from the priests, he then carried the Sengol in a procession, accompanied by Vedic mantras, and placed it to the right side of the speaker’s chair in the Parliament.

The discerning observers perceive Mr. Modi’s Sengol installation ceremony as a profoundly significant event, indicative of the direction in which he will lead India in the years to come. Following the installation, Mr. Modi delivered a stirring 35-minute speech, employing his characteristic emotional eloquence to paint a vibrant picture of India’s future. It was evident that the Sengol would serve as a constant reminder to those in governance of the crucial importance of probity, honesty, and fair play for all sections of society.

While some habitual critics of Mr. Modi have criticized the Sengol installation ceremony, the majority of Indians have responded with great enthusiasm, regarding the installed Sengol with respect and hope. Those who habitually criticize Mr. Modi have labeled the inaugural function of the new parliament house, carried out in accordance with Hindu practices, as an act against secularism.

In contemporary India, the term secularism is often abused and misused, with anything associated with Hindu practices being deemed non-secular, while religious activities of other faiths are considered secular. Essentially, those who promote Hindu philosophy and way of life are unjustly accused of lacking secular credentials. In India’s democracy, where vote bank politics has become central during elections, many political parties attempt to secure the votes of minority religions by claiming to be secular and progressive, while simultaneously disparaging those who speak about the Hindu ethos.

In this context, Mr. Modi has demonstrated a remarkable level of conviction and courage by openly acknowledging his identity as a Hindu, while simultaneously respecting other religions. During the parliament inauguration program, after performing elaborate Hindu pujas, representatives from all other religions were given an opportunity to offer prayers according to their religious traditions.

Over the past nine years as Prime Minister, there have been numerous occasions when Mr. Modi publicly worshipped in Hindu temples. One of the most significant events was his performance of puja, according to Hindu religious practices, during the foundation-laying ceremony of the Ram Janma Bhoomi temple. While such pujas have been conducted by Mr. Modi in temples in the past, this is arguably the first time he has performed puja, in accordance with Hindu religious practices, during a major official function for the inauguration of a new parliament building, reaching a wide audience both within India and abroad.

Hinduism originated in India and has been an integral part of Indian culture for thousands of years. More than 75% of Indians identify with Hinduism. While various countries incorporate religious prayers into official programs, such as reciting from the Holy Quran in Islamic countries or the Holy Bible in Christian nations, such practices have not been widely followed in India during major official functions. In Christian and Islamic countries, there are also many citizens who belong to other religions, and they do not object to Muslims and Christians practicing their faith during official functions. If these practices are deemed appropriate in those countries, then Mr. Modi following Hindu religious practices for the inauguration of the parliament in India should also be considered appropriate.

India can continue to be a secular country that allows freedom for all religions, much like other democratic nations such as the USA, Canada, and Europe. Therefore, adopting Hindu worship practices in official functions in India should be considered a suitable choice.

It is high time to acknowledge the grievance felt by many Hindus in India, who believe they are being discriminated against by various government policies that favor minority religions in the name of secular principles. A prime example is the government’s interference and control over Hindu temples, including the diversion of temple income for various purposes. In contrast, mosques, churches, and gurudwaras are not under government control but managed by leaders of those religions. Several other examples can be cited as well.

It is crucial for every Indian, regardless of their religious affiliation, be it Christian, Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist, to recognize that India is fundamentally a country rooted in Hindu ethos, while allowing individuals of other religions the freedom to follow their respective religious teachings. Therefore, objections to Mr. Modi’s observance of Hindu religious practices during the inauguration of the new parliament are unfounded. Mr. Modi has set an example and dispelled unwarranted fears about secularism.

By installing the Sengol, a symbol of honesty and probity in governance, Mr. Modi has brought the nation’s attention to the high principles that should underpin fair governance. The Sengol will serve as a constant reminder, ensuring that the country remains focused on advancing with truth and honesty in governance.

Will Indian Government’s Withdrawal of 2000 Note Root Out Corruption?


After demonetisation in 2016, cash circulation in India by value came down significantly . However, subsequently , for whatever reasons , the cash circulation was gradually increased by the Government of India by printing more currency notes of various denominations . As a result, present currency circulation in the country by value is as high as Rs.32 lakh crore.

It is well known that all corrupt dealings take place by cash transactions and black money in cash which is generated by tax evasion. Such cash in the form of black money is used for several corrupt and nefarious practices, ,resulting in development and growth of parallel economy.

Government of India under Prime Minister Modi has been taking special efforts to promote digitalisation and direct transfer of funds through electronic media. It is gratifying that in the last four years or so, the digitalisation of economy have forged ahead at an impressive rate and by and large , people have responded to such digitalisation exercise favourably. These days, it is seen that even small traders and even street vendors accept payment electronically by what is popularly known as google pay or payment by card.

In such conditions, Government of India has done well to take steps to withdraw Rs.2000 currency notes, amounting to more than Rs.3 lakh crore from circulation with the deadline being 30th September,2023. This positive move will certainly bring out the hoarded money by politicians and businessmen or others and dilute the black money circulation in the country to a considerable extent.

What is very important now is that having taken steps to withdraw Rs.2000 notes amounting to the value of more than Rs.3 lakh crore, Government of India should not undo the benefit by replacing the withdrawn Rs.2000 currency by printing lower denomination notes. This will undo the benefit of withdrawing the Rs.2000 currency notes.

India has to move steadily towards cash less economy which is a gradual process and it is showing healthy signs of happening now. The emergence of cashless economy is the ultimate strategy to root out political and administrative corruption in India, which lead to business corruption.

The lesser cash in currency circulation will inevitably force or persuade people to resort to money transaction for business , trade or personal purposes by digital mode.

Of course, with the withdrawal of Rs.2000 currency notes, some critics may find fault with the move ,by stating that there would be shortage of notes of lesser denomination to be exchanged for Rs.2000 currency notes, when submitted by the people to the bank. This complaint would be largely made by the black money holders with concealed cash bundles , as they would not like to use the option of depositing the Rs.2000 currency notes in their bank account.

It is necessary that Government of India should be careful in explaining the merits of the present move to withdraw Rs.2000 currency notes , so that the gullible people would not be misled by false and motivated criticisms. . It is also necessary that enlightened and knowledgeable economists should voice their views in various forums, so that a heathy and forward looking national discussions on the subject can take place, that will contribute to prepare mindset of the people in favour of cashless economy.

The Anticipations of Indians as Prime Minister Modi Embarks on His Tenth Year


The critics of India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, may say various things about his administration, but the ground reality is that both Indians living across the country and observers abroad believe that India has experienced positive changes in multiple aspects during his nine-year tenure. Numerous international expert groups and even the United Nations have praised India for its robust economic growth, particularly as many other countries face recessionary trends.

Recent opinion surveys have consistently shown that Mr. Modi is the most popular and charismatic leader in India, surpassing any opposition political figures. Some global agencies have also recognized him as an important and popular world leader.

However, the recent election results in Karnataka, where Mr. Modi’s party failed to retain power and lost to the opposition, have come as a surprise. There is now intense debate across India regarding the reasons behind this outcome. While critics argue that this election signifies the beginning of the end for Mr. Modi’s leadership, discerning observers dismiss this view. One credible perspective suggests that the BJP party, which held power in Karnataka, failed to provide the expected quality of governance, potentially leading to instances of corruption within the government machinery. This disappointment could be heightened by the fact that the ultimate leader of the BJP is Mr. Modi himself.

When Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister nine years ago, people recognized him as a strong and dedicated political leader with unwavering convictions and a high standard of personal integrity. Naturally, they expected him to launch and implement various development projects in the industrial, commercial, and social sectors, which he has done to the satisfaction of the people. Simultaneously, the public anticipated a comprehensive eradication of corruption at all levels throughout the country.

However, the reality is that the expectation of completely rooting out corruption has not been adequately met during Mr. Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister, particularly in some state governments. Nevertheless, people believe that as a national leader with a strong mandate, it remains Mr. Modi’s responsibility to eliminate corruption even at the state level.

With only around 12 months remaining before the next parliamentary election, Mr. Modi has limited time to fulfill the people’s expectations regarding the eradication of corruption. While development projects are progressing well, and a climate of growth has been established and is likely to be sustained, Mr. Modi’s primary focus for the next twelve months should be his determined crusade against corruption. Despite anticipated resistance and attribution of ulterior motives, he must persevere in identifying and punishing corrupt forces through all possible means. This will instill confidence in the people that corruption will be eradicated soon.

The success of Mr. Modi’s anti-corruption drive will serve as a crucial test during the upcoming parliamentary election.

Many Indians believe that the root cause of political corruption and subsequent administrative corruption in the country lies in the fact that almost all political parties, except the BJP and Communist/Marxist parties, are controlled by families with vested interests. People view such family control of political parties with disdain. Perhaps, the precondition for eliminating corruption is to eradicate family control and vested interests within political parties.

As part of Mr. Modi’s anti-corruption campaign, he should also launch a strong movement to denounce dynasty politics in India. Speaking forcefully about this issue would resonate well with the people and capture their imagination.

India’s Coal Policy Ignores Zero Emission Target: But Little Choice


During the Glasgow Climate Meet, the Indian Prime Minister announced with much fanfare that India would achieve zero net emission target by the year 2070.

The pre-condition to reach zero emission level is that the use of fossil fuel namely crude oil and coal and to some extent natural gas too (as it is known natural gas results in methane emission during handling and transportation) should be totally eliminated.

At present, India consumes more than 250 million tonne per annum of crude oil and around 80% of its requirement is met by import. In the case of natural gas, India imports around 35 billion cubic metre per annum, which is nearly half of India’s requirement.

India’s coal production hit a milestone of 892 million tonne during F Y 2023, which is an year on year growth of 14.7%. In addition to the domestic production of coal, India’s import of coal surged by 26.18% year on year to 237.93 million tonne during April,2022 to February,2023, with non coking coal accounting for 65% of the import.

The question is whether India can achieve the net zero emission target by the year 2070, considering the present usage level of fossil fuel and considering that the present pattern of energy mix would largely remain the same and that the usage level has to increase at the level of around 8 to 9% per annum in the coming years, if India were to maintain GDP growth rate of 6 to 7% per annum.

The ground reality is that India in all probability, may have to ignore the net zero emission target by the year 2070 with whatever consequences to global climate scenario.

Ground reality:

India and China account for about 80% of all active coal projects in the world, even as most nations take steps to reduce coal project capacity to meet climate targets. China plans to build some 100 new coal-fired power plants to back up wind and solar capacity, which goes against China’s stated intention to reduce the role of coal.

As of January 2023, only 20 countries have more than one coal project planned, according to E3G, an independent climate think tank.

India, whose proposed coal power capacity is the highest after China, has repeatedly refused to set a timeline to phase out coal, citing low per-capita emission and the need for inexpensive fuel sources.

India’s comparative emission level

India and China are the world’s two biggest CO2 emitters from coal.

However, Australia and South Korea lead the world in emissions from the world’s fossil fuel when adjusted for population size, according to energy and climate research organization Ember.

Data calculated since the Paris Agreement on climate in 2015 show that some of the richest countries in the world have the most work to do in moving away from coal to cleaner energy sources.

Coal power emissions in selected countries – per capita, G20

Name of the countryAnnual average from 2015-2020,
in tonne CO2
S Korea3.81
S. Africa3.19

World average                            1.06

India’s per capita average emission is much lower compared to developed countries ,. However, the fact is that India is one of the largest emitters in quantitative term. This is a weak argument to defend India stating that India’s per capita emission is lower than several other developed countries and perhaps implying that India should be considered less guilty with regard to emission level

India’s coal policy – Confusion galore

A number of pronouncements have been made in recent years by Govt. of India about India’s coal policy and utilisation of coal as fossil fuel. Several committees have been set up and a number of them appear to be providing what appear to be contradictory recommendations. It is not clear as to whether India’s coal policy has been finally arrived at and framed

In a draft proposal, which is India’s first attempt at revising its National Electricity Policy (NEP) enacted in 2005, it was recommended that the retirement of old coal-fired however plants should be delayed, until energy storage for renewable power would become financially viable.

In the first draft of the NEP in 2021, it was said that India might add new coal-fired capacity, though it proposed tighter technology standards to reduce pollution.

The Central Electricity Authority, an advisory body to the power ministry, had said last year that India might have to add as much as 28 GW of new coal-fired power in addition to the plants under construction to address surging power demand.

The report on Optimal Generation Capacity Mix for 2029-30, released by the Ministry in May 2023, also says that between 2023 and 2030, India will build 26.9 GW of coal power plants. The investment for that, at Rs.8.34 crore a MW, therefore, works out to Rs.2.25 lakh crore, or Rs.32,050 crore a year.

The report further says that essentially due to coal based power plants, India’s annual carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector are set to rise from 9.10 million tonne from 2,36,680 GW of coal power capacity today to 1.11 billion tonne in 2030. All this implies that coal power is both costly and harmful to the planet.

So far, old coal-fired power plants with a cumulative capacity of 13 GW have been earmarked for functioning post retirement deadline to meet high power demand

The latest news is that India plans to stop building new coal-fired power plants, apart from those already in the pipeline, by removing a key clause from the final draft of its National Electricity Policy (NEP). Obviously, the new policy, would not impact the 28 GW of coal-based power in various stages of construction.

However, the final draft of NEP, which will guide India’s policy making on energy over the next decade do not seem to have made reference to new coal fired power plants.

Will coal be the dominant fuel for all time to come in India?

Coal is expected to be the dominant fuel for generating electricity in India for decades.

Even as India has committed itself to achieve net zero emission by 2070, it has not made any efforts so far nor look like making any efforts in future to reduce steadily coal production in the country, which is a pre condition to reach zero emission target.

The Ministry of Coal has now announced that capacity for coal production would be increased by 885 million tonne per annum by the following coal projects and these projects are targeted to be completed by 2027 and India is expected to produce 1.3 billion tonne of coal by the year 2030.

Name of the companyNumber of  coal projects
Coal India Ltd          59
Singareni Colleries Company Ltd            5
NLC India Ltd (NLCL)            3
Total          67

Little choice for India: Likely fossil fuel-based energy mix in India Year 2023

CategoryInstalled generation capacity ( MW  )% of share in total
Total Fossil Fuel2,36,46957.4 %
Total Non-Fossil Fuel175,18042.5%
Total Installed Capacity(Fossil Fuel & Non-Fossil Fuel)4,11,649100%

The above figures clearly indicate that coal-based power projects would have the lion’s share of energy mix and the situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.

To reduce the dependence on import of fossil fuel and reduce the domestic consumption of fossil fuel , the Government of India has taken several steps, particularly keeping in view that the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas will not increase in India significantly and India has to depend heavily on domestic coal production for energy source.

Government strategy broadly consists of promoting electric vehicles , boosting the production of wind and solar power , blending of ethanol with petrol and promoting green hydrogen economy. Solar and wind power production depend on seasonal factors and capacity utilisation would be low. Green hydrogen technology for large scale commercial production at economic level is still in development stage. Whatever work that has been done so far to develop green hydrogen economy is in experimental stage and, at the present juncture, it would be difficult to predict about the ultimate development of green hydrogen economy at required level and economy of scale.

Obviously, the above strategies would not be adequate to reach the net zero emission target of Government of India and at best , these strategies can only contribute to reduce the growth rate in the consumption of fossil fuel in India.

Under the circumstances, achieving the zero net emission target by India can be justifiably termed as Utopian expectation.

China’s Territorial Greed – Threat to World Peace?

Since 1980s, in the last four decades, China has recorded  spectacular growth in the industrial and economic front.  Several multinational companies have invested several billion dollar  in China to set up projects , which happened due to the imaginative and proactive policy of Government of China. Aided by  the investment and technology from multinational companies, China gained immensely. China is now well recognised as one of the world  economic  super power.

With the economic power , China is also expanding it’s military capability and it’s present  annual military budget is around 2030 billion USD.

Unfortunately, along with the economic and industrial growth, China’s territorial greed have also increased to an alarming level. . To achieve it’s territorial greed , China is using it’s military and economic power.  This is now causing concern  worldwide

Chinese leaders  appear to have such territorial greed  deep in their mindset and this is  now becoming more visible

Case study Tibet

In the 1950s, China forcibly occupied Tibet and massacred thousands of protesting Tibetans brutally.  In the last few decades after China’s unethical occupation of Tibet, China has been trying to destroy the Tibetan culture and traditional practices and brainwash the youth, as if Tibet is only an extended territory of China.  While China took over Tibet militarily, there was no  significant protest in the world and this encouraged China to move on with it’s territorial greed adventures.

Case study India

After this occupation of Tibet, in 1962, China waged a war against India and occupied thousands of kilometres of Indian territory, which it is continuing to hold under it’s control till now. India has around  3500 kilometre length of land in China border which China calls as disputed territory,  and wants to occupy.  Frequently, China has been trying to intrude into Indian territory and it is reported in the media that in the year 2020, large area  of Ladakh region has been taken over by the Chinese army. Further, not satisfied with so much occupation of Indian land , China now demands that Arunachal Pradesh in India  should be part of Tibet region , now occupied by China.

To conceal it’s territorial greed , China often talks about peace with India and mischievously says that  “India and China share far more common interest than differences”  and says that bilateral relations between both the countries should be strengthened. However, territorial greed of China is now too blatant to be concealed.

Case study – Taiwan

China claims that Taiwan should be part of China, which is thoroughly unjustified.  There was a civil war in China when the communists occupied most parts of China except the Taiwan region. It was forcible occupation by China. Under the circumstances, the ground reality is that while the Chinese leaders claim that Taiwan should be part of mainland China, certainly, the government of Taiwan can legitimately claim that mainland China should be part of Taiwan.

In it’s territorial greed to grab Taiwan, China is threatening to invade Taiwan at any moment. The recent news is that China has sent 38 war planes and 6 navy vessels to areas near Taiwan.

Case study – South China Sea:

Apart from the above  territorial greed acts of China , it is laying  claims on South China sea, Senkaku Island , which is creating tension with Philippines , Japan and other neighbouring countries.

 It is a matter of concern now that China is planning to have military installations in Co Co Island in Myanmar.

Economic domination:

Apart from such military  oriented aggressive tactics, China has effectively brought countries like Pakistan, North Korea under it’s control,  exploiting   the economic and other weakness of these countries.   Sri Lanka is also now facing a threat of going down under China’s grip  due to it’s excessive dependence on China  for infrastructure projects and the  consequent  debt burden ,  which has forced Sri Lanka to undergo the humiliation of handing over Hambantota port to China on 99 years lease. The fact is that Sri Lanka has now virtually no control over the activities of China in Hambantota port .

China – A threat to world peace :

While most countries in the world are concerned about the territorial greed of China, it is strange that China has offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia to end the Ukraine war. This is like the devil quoting scripture

China emerging as an economic superpower in the world has resulted in a situation , where it competes with USA in economic super power status. USA is all the time trying to extend it’s influence over other countries in the world and now China too is trying to do the same.  But, the difference is that USA is extending  it’s influence without territorial greed and this is not so in the case of China.

It appears that ultimate result of China’s territorial greed  would inevitably result in disturbing peace in the world.  It appears that the ambition of Adolf Hitler and Chinese President do not seem to be different.

Views expressed in this article are the author’s own

Should Act of Charity be Unconditional?


Religious scriptures , mythological stories and speeches and writings of scholars advocate that love and compassion for others  should be the central focus of the thought process of everyone. It is said that development of such mindset is the  sure way of leading life process  with peace and tranquility. Obviously, such mindset would result in the regular  practice of extending support to  the needy persons, animals and creatures  in whatever way possible.

There are number of theories with regard to the charity concept such as  that the person involving himself or herself in charity activity should not have   personal motives and should not derive any benefits from the act of charity.  Further, it is also said that act of charity need not be at the cost of self denial  except in   extreme scenario  and should be practiced  only to the extent possible  after satisfying one’s requirements. The third view is  that “reckless charity”  to all and sundry  without scrutiny of the  genuine needs of the recipients is not appropriate.    There is also another view that the charity act towards   any cause should not result in negative impact on others or in the society.

Dependent mindset :

In number of  cases, the act of charity   sometimes encourage dependent mindset or “beggar attitude” amongst the recipients , who could think that they can” earn their needs” by   actively seeking donation and  support from kind hearted persons.

In recent times, with high  public discourse about the importance of charity, some people involve themselves in some  pursuits  such as costly education or treatment in expensive hospitals  beyond their affordability , even when they know that there is   no feasibility of making both ends meet.  In other words, such people hope and expect that they can plead for support . In the process , they  run from pillar to post to identify donors  and  request for funds , even risking some humiliating experience.

Such attitude  is negative, create  laziness  and  kill feeling of self respect and prevent the persons   from putting forth hard and sustained efforts and work to earn their needs honourably.

Support sought by voluntary bodies

There are several non government organisations   (NGOs) , which appear to be thousands in number all over India, ,  who undertake some welfare functions voluntarily and plead for donation publicly . Most of such organisations do not have enough  resources to carry out their intended social activities and take for granted that they would be able to get donations  from one source or the other  from India or abroad. There are also rumours that some of these NGOs even appoint agents to collect donations for their welfare programme and provide commission to the agents  for the services rendered.

Another disturbing issue is that some  NGOs even face accusation of diverting the donation money for purposes other than for  which  the donation is intended. 

As the source of fund  is not ensured for carrying out welfare activities, several NGOs   are facing difficult conditions when donations do not arrive as per their expectations and are even forced to curtail their development programmes.

The question is whether such NGOs should feel disappointed or they should blame themselves for launching welfare activities without adequate funds and proper plans for sourcing funds.

Possibly,   their expectations on unconditional charity from others,   who may  be known or unknown, may be misplaced.

Charity dinner :

What is known as “charity dinners”  are organized and such events   take place  in luxurious  settings , when a  well known celebrity   such as film actor would be invited and may be paid  lumpsum “honorarium”  and wealthy people would be invited to attend the dinner by paying hefty charges. There would be good response  from  the invitees , considering the opportunity to interact  with the celebrity .  The participants   in the event  often do so  for their own benefits .

Surplus collections   from the event   would be provided to the voluntary bodies or deprived persons, which  is incidental.

Most probably  ,neither in the mind of the celebrity nor in the minds of the participants , there would   be any thought about the plight of the deprived persons.  There is no  spirit of charity here.

Feeding stray dogs on the streets

One of the big problems in India today are the roaming of the homeless stray dogs  on the streets, which are estimated to be around 55 million in number. Some times,  such stray dogs    have become a safety threat for passers by on the streets  and some people including children have been wounded or even killed due to dog bites.

However, many compassionate minded people feed these  street dogs occasionally or as a matter of routine  everyday.  . There is criticism now about feeding the stray dogs , which are multiplying in number  and are  becoming  a threat for   the safety of the passers by.

Obviously, the government policy with regard to management of the street dogs menace are uncertain and confusing and not improving the ground situation with regard to street dog attacks.

This scenario  make some people  wonder whether the act of feeding stray dogs as  a matter of charity should be  considered as  appropriate. This is particularly so,  since those who feed the street dogs do not take care of them partly or fully and do not make any effort  to house them in proper  conditions.  Obviously, their charity act   has limits  and  cannot be unconditional.

Charity should not be unconditional

There is no doubt that the act of charity is a noble and admirable concept. But, the concept would be diluted or even the objectives would be  defeated ,if charity would be viewed as an unconditional concept.

Act of charity  should not lead to a situation where it would reach lazy persons  or those without self respect  or those who could misuse the donation amount . Then , it would mean that act of charity has lost it’s direction  and purpose.

In Tamil language , there is a saying which means that donation should be extended only after careful study of the need of the recipient  and the  recipient should strictly deserve it  and charity should not be unconditional.

Can India Outshine China In Industrial And Economic Growth?


In recent time, there have been several reports by international agencies including International Monetary Fund, stating that  economic growth in India is showing  impressive trend  and is the highest  amongst  several  countries in the world. While developed countries like USA, UK and China are facing recessionary trends and inflationary pressure, it is said that India’s economic growth profile is intact and is improving steadily.  These observations from credible global agencies have  created a feeling of euphoria in India , as if Indian economy is now at the top of the world.

Of course, India is the fourth largest economy in the world and is well placed to achieve spectacular growth of it’s economy in the coming years ,

Probably, the best way of assessingIndia’s  economic and industrial  growth profile and measuring it’s performance and future prospects would be to compare India with China, since the economic status of India and China around a  few  decades back were almost at the same level and both are highly populated countries with high population density  and reasonable level of  natural and mineral resources.

Of course, India is heavily dependent on import of crude oil and natural gas,which are essential input  to sustain industrial and economic growth, for it’s requirements and so is China.

For further analysing India’s growth profile  and track record  vis a vis China, the following indicative figuresare of interest.

Comparative figures :

  Land area3.287 million  Sq.Km9.597 million Sq.Km
Population in Yr.2021140.76 Crore1`41.24 Crore
Population density431.11per sq.km153 per sq.km
Size of economy$3.469 trillion$ 18.321 trillion
Foreign direct investment in 2021-22 84,835 million USD 180.96 billion USD
Likely GDP growth in 23-246.4%5%
Dependence on import of crude oil per annum Around 212 million tonne Around 508 million tonne
Production of coal per annumAround 892 million tonneAround 4500 million tonne
Wind power capacity41.9 GW328.48 GW (China was responsible for almost 70% of wind generation growth in 2021)
Solar power capacity64 GW392.61 GW
  Production  of wafers for solar panels  NegligibleWafers are ultra-thin silicon squares that are pieced together into solar panels, and China accounts for 97 per cent of global output.
 Lithium ion battery capacity Lithium ion battery cell not produced and entirely importedNearly 750 gigawatt-hours
Graphene production in 2022 (A product withemerging importance)NilAround 630,000 tonne of the graphene every year
Capacity in 2022Silicon metal,NilAround 5.17 million tonne
Annual capacity  for Polycrystalline silicaNilRound2 million per annum
Annual capacity for Titanium sponge500  tonne per annumAround 1,80,000 tonne per annum

The above figures which are a few illustrative  comparative examples ,  obviously indicate that   as on date, the status of India’s economy and industrial profile are  much lower compared to that of China, though the economy of both India and China were at the same level  in 1980s.

Factors influencing  China’s spectacular progress in the last three decades

While pretending  to be a communist country, the fact is that China  has a totalitarian regime with media being heavily censored , personal freedom of people severely curtailed  and rule of law by force rather than by consent.

The ground reality is that China is a communist country only in name and is virtually adopting the policies and methods of capitalist economy.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been an important part of the Chinese economy since  1980s.   To accelerate the process of opening to foreign capital and technology, the Chinese government has been providing forward treatment to foreign direct investment. That include tax incentives and loosening of administration restrictions.

From 1980s , China  liberalised it’s economy to the extent of  any other capitalist economy and threw open it’s market and investment  potential to international and  multinational companies. As multinational companies are all the time looking for market openings, invitation from Chinese government became irresistible attraction for them. Several of them came to China with huge investments and updated technologies, which immensely benefited China. What was another attraction for multinational companies is that China strictly maintained it’s promises  to them and ensured  well structured and  orderly political and economic climate , so that multinational companies can comfortably work and stay in China.

Even as multinational companies came in a big way to China, China also  encouraged and facilitated the growth of domestic companies to such an extent , that many of the domestic companies  could acquire the capability to compete with the multinational companies in China itself in the course of time. At the same time , China continued to invest in public sector organisations and encouraged infrastructure between domestic companies and overseas companies.

Under such  conditions,.today China’s industrial   and economic structure is an elegant mix of private owned domestic companies government owned public sector companies and multinational companies as well as joint venture.  The fact is that all these four entities are complimenting each other and there  appears to be no conflict of interests between them.

Today, the confidence level  of the multinational companies  and overseas organisations  in the stable policy of Chinese government is so high, that these companies from abroad are contributing to further growth of Chinese economy in a significant way.

All said and done, the underlying reason for spectacular economic and industrial growth of China is that China has thoughtfully created a situation which is  winwin situation for both Chin and multinational companies and overseas organisations.

View of global credit rating agencies on India’s economy :

According to World Bank , in general,  the economic situation In India is better than n any of the other countries in South Asia.

The services sector and the infrastructure sector are the fastest  growing sectors in India.There is still a huge structural agenda in India to make growth more inclusive . Private investment  from abroad is needed to be increased. Government has done a lot to improve the social protection but that by itself not enough.

According to Asian Development Bank between 2015 and 2019,India’s contribution to GDP growth in developing Asia was 22%, while China’s contribution was 53%.

The rapid growth  in India reflects healthy domestic consumption which will be further boosted by tax cuts.  India will be less affected by the slow down in the advanced countries, since exports have limited role in the Indian economy.

India – A few pointers

n the last nine years  after Prime Minister Modi has taken over, several reform measures have been introduced and number of infrastructure projects have been launched , apart from social welfare measures to lift the countrymen from poverty level. 

Defence shipments has risen by more than ten times since  2016.  In 2016-17, defence exports stood at Rs.1521 crore and reaching Rs.15920 crore in 2022-23.

India’s cumulative solar module manufacturing nameplate capacity has more than doubled to 38 GW in March,2023 from  18 GW in March,2022

Now, India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally with global markets reducing their dependence on China for drugs. 

On May,8, 2020,  Indian Council of Medical Research launchedMade in India COVID vaccine campaign and Indian pharma companies produced massive quantity  of COVID  vaccine in  very short period , not only for India’s needs but for  several countries in the world.  The world was pleasantly surprised to see  India’s  such achievement

Government of India has sanctioned Rs 40,900 crore to over 80630 accounts for the start up India scheme in the last seven years which are yielding results  now.

While India is a net importer of petrochemicals and intermediates, India now has become a net exporter of diverse range of speciality chemicals.

There are so many other pointers such as in space research and so on.

Can India match China ?

India is endowed with large   land area and coastal belt , different climatic and soil conditions ,  mineral resources , well established  agricultural base and “army” of  scientists, engineers and technologists  and certainly India has the potential to match China in economic and industrial growth.

What is required to achieve big leap forward  in India is that India should exhibit , future   governance capability ,  ensure growth oriented political structure , promote  innovation and R & D capability    as  well as commitment of the countrymen  to attain growth  by hard efforts, similar to what China has exhibited in the last few decades.

An issue in India which China does not have is the democratic structure in the India and the freedom of speech and action enjoyed by the citizens. As a result, every step of the government in India become a matter of debate and counter view and in recent years , several massive projects have been stopped or prevented from operating in India due to agitations and protests. It appears that the country is losing industrial and economic opportunities due to such permissive conditions and many wonder whether India is paying a by price due to it’s democracy.

In such conditions, the multinational companies  and investors from abroad cannot get the needed level  of confidence to operate in India, similar to what they enjoy in China.

With frequent elections and multiple political parties and number of political parties being family controlled development vested interests in India democracy have become a hurdle for India’s progress.

In this context , one cannot but point out that in China , apart from the proactive policies of government of China, people in China responded to the opportunities by exploiting the developing favourable conditions.  The question here is whether Indians can emulate Chinese citizens in such greed for results and achievements.

India has the potentials in multiple ways to achieve the type of progress that China made but it appears that it’s progress would be much lees than the potential level, as the present political structure, attitudinal issues of people and their mind set for exercise freedom at the cost of economic growth are unlikely to see a big change.

Suicides in  IIT Madras — A matter of concern


It is reported that four students of IIT Madras committed suicide in the year 2023, within just four months.  This is a matter of very high concern and needs to be investigated by experts taking a holistic view.  So far, all these suicides have been simply termed as “suicides”  and the matter appears to have been closed. Obviously, there should be a deep underlying cause for such sad events,  particularly since the students are in their teenage or early twenties and that too they study in an elite institution.  At the same time, it has to be noted that such student suicides have also taken place in other IITs in India.

IIT  Madras management does not seem to have come out with any credible explanation so far, for such an increasing number of suicides. The strategy so far adopted by IIT Madras to prevent such suicides appear to be only by way of providing counselling advice,  which may go only halfway.

It is known that studying engineering subjects in depth and understanding the concepts in full require hard work and a certain level of basic intelligence.

It is true that engineering subjects are the same whether taught in IITs or in any other engineering colleges under government or private management. However, when bright students study such subjects,  then their understanding and appreciation of the concepts could be better than the average student. Further, the standards of the faculty members in IITs, most of whom have good exposure in elite institutions in developed countries,  could be better in many cases than the faculty members of other engineering colleges. Therefore, the level and standards of teaching in IITs may be higher than in other engineering colleges.

IITs select students for admission based on competitive entrance examinations at all Indian level and mostly , the students joining IITs have higher level of understanding capability.

The fact is that 64.5% of the seats for admission in IITs come under the reserved category, where the students getting admitted in the reserved category could be scoring fewer grades in the entrance examination compared to the students admitted in the non-reserved category.

Reservation policy

CategoryReserved Percentage of Seats in Each Course
GEN – Economically weaker section (EWS)10%
Person with disability ( PwD )_5% in each category seats

In  studying the difficult engineering subjects  in elite institutions like IITs , the bright students are likely to maintain higher academic standards compared to the students with less level of understanding ability,  as reflected in their lower grades in the entrance examination,  than the students getting admission in non-reserved category. In such circumstances,  it is quite possible that some students could find it difficult to understand the nuances of the subjects and cope with the demand from the faculty members.

While IIT  management and faculty members treat all students in the same manner and provide the facilities to all students without any difference, the understanding ability of the students could certainly be different, particularly when some students get admission under reserved category compared to students who get admission only on merit basis. This scenario may create a feeling of diffidence in some students leading to frustration in their mindset.

Further, all students in IITs have high level of career expectations and many of them get into best of jobs in India or abroad or go abroad for higher studies in prestigious institutions.  While such opportunities happen for bright students with high academic achievements, the other students may not equally get such opportunities. Given the fact that the students are in their teenage or early twenties, students tend to compare each one with others.

All students in IITs know the opportunities ahead of them and would do their level best to reach the best of academic performance. Some students may not be able to reach the level of academic performance they desire to achieve, particularly in comparison with other students due to their lack of understanding capability, which may be lower in some cases. For such students, the fear of not landing the best jobs would be a matter of utmost anxiety.

In such elite institutions like IITs , when some admissions are based on a reservation basis, it is inevitable that the understanding ability of all students will not be at the same level. This is the problem in introducing a reservation policy for admission in elite institutions like IITs, where the faculty members are of a high standard and facilities are modern and adequate and expectations from future employers are high.

The objective of this article is not to discuss the merits or demerits of the reservation policy in educational institutions.

On the other hand, the aim is that there should be a dispassionate analysis as to whether reservation policy has led to such suicides in IITs. If this is so, then some steps would be needed to provide specialized coaching for students getting admitted on the basis of reservation. It is not clear whether this would be practically possible.

Sri Lanka Needs Proactive Industrial Policy


Sri Lanka has now got breathing time with the International Monetary Fund sanctioning a long-term loan of 3 billion USD, of course with some pre-conditions.  IMF has said that it would disburse the amount in different stages and has insisted on corruption-free administration and implementation of certain policy measures.  The Sri Lankan government has no other option than accepting all conditions put forth by IMF.

IMF should not be blamed for insisting on some conditions to be accepted by Sri Lanka for availing the loan, as IMF   would justifiably like to ensure that its loan money would be used properly and adequately in Sri Lanka so that the repayment would be done as per the promises. After all, IMF is a financing institution and not a charitable body and critics of IMF in Sri Lanka should realise this.

Sri Lanka is now at such a stage that it cannot allow its economy to slip down and it is a compelling need to ensure that it would be firm on the recovery path by properly and adequately utilizing the IMF funds.

Despite the recent troubles faced by Sri Lanka on the economic front, it is necessary to recognize that the country has basic and inherent strength by way of natural resources, which it should quickly identify and exploit to its advantage. What Sri Lanka urgently needs today is a proactive industrial policy in tune with the ground reality. The fact is that Sri Lanka does not have any significant investment capability and it also does not have the engineering and technological expertise that is required to make a big leap forward in the industrial front.  In such circumstances, there are two countries that Sri Lanka can emulate.

Several decades back, China’s economy was not in good shape, though China now is one of the countries with strong economic and industrial strength in the world.  What China did earlier was that it threw open it’s market to global companies and also liberalised the investment policies to facilitate setting up of industrial projects in China by multinational companies in a big way.  This became a win win situation for both multinational companies and China and helped China to expand it’s economy and technology base to a spectacular level. Of course, Sri Lanka does not have big market space to offer to international companies but can certainly   facilitate international companies to invest in Sri Lanka in a big way by adopting appropriate strategies.

Several decades back, Singapore’s economy was also in a bad shape and today Singapore is one of the well-developed city-state in the world. Singapore could achieve this status, despite it’s several limitations, by creating confidence amongst multinational companies to invest in Singapore and by facilitating investor-friendly policies

Both China and Singapore have ensured that the interest of overseas investors would be fully protected. In the case of both China and Singapore, the governments have been firm and did not allow local politics or vested interests to create doubts and apprehensions amongst prospective overseas investors or create bottlenecks for their operations in any way.

What Sri Lanka should do now is to offer it’s mineral and other resources to be used as feedstock for the overseas companies to set up projects in Sri Lanka.  There are several resources in Sri Lanka of which two are discussed here as examples.

Sri Lanka has good deposit of ilmenite /rutile minerals which are feedstock for the production of titanium dioxide pigment, which is used extensively in paint and coatings and other areas. Ilmenite/rutile is also the feedstock for titanium metal which is a strategic metal used in several military hardware, aeronautics and so on.  International demand for titanium dioxide is now around 6 million tonnes per annum and the demand is now increasing steadily by 3 to 4% per annum. The global demand trend for titanium metal is also very vibrant.

Sri Lanka has got a good deposits of graphite of high quality. Several value-added products can be produced from graphite such as graphite crucibles and so on. Further, with the rapid growth of electric vehicles around the world which require lithium-ion batteries, high-purity graphite for use as anode in lithium-ion batteries is in great demand all over the world with growth in demand exceeding 10% per annum. Sri Lanka should facilitate the setting up of large-size high-purity graphite anode projects.

Many other mineral and natural resources are available in Sri Lanka and multinational companies and overseas organisations would find such resources as an attractive feedstock for setting up projects in Sri Lanka.

In the last few weeks, it is reported that Sri Lankan government is taking active measures to promote tourism in Sri Lanka, which is as it should be.  But, the tourism industry alone cannot enable Sri Lanka to get out of the present economic crisis.

Ensuring rapid growth of massive industries in Sri Lanka with overseas investment and technology, would promote employment generation, strengthen the technology base and skill development in Sri Lanka and promotion of several ancillary industries and contribute to foreign exchange earnings in a big way. The such overseas investment would change the face of Sri Lanka in a positive manner as a growth centre.

What is urgently needed is that Sri Lankan government should formulate a proactive industrial policy in appropriate areas and do road shows around the world to attract investment from abroad.  The strategy adopted by China and Singapore should give a good lead for Sri Lankan policy planners.

Indian Democracy Thrives


 It is more than seventy years now, since India attained independence   from British rule and   drafted a well-balanced Constitution, which form the basis for Indian democratic process. Several national and state elections have been conducted and the victorious political party has taken over the governance in a smooth manner. Over the years, there have been building up of great awareness amongst the people about their fundamental rights and freedom of speech.  While for an outsider, it may look like a noisy democracy in India, with protests, allegations and counter allegations and even corruption charges being raised and framed and complaints about dynastic political culture being developed with number of political parties coming under the grip of family control, still the ground reality is that democracy as an institution is surviving and thriving.

Of course, in any democratic country, people have the freedom to express their views and involve themselves in public activities which may  be different for different people or different groups. In such situation, there is bound to be discussions and controversies about the way forward. The advocates of democracy would say that such conditions are the essence of democracy and noise in a democratic country very well proves that democracy is thriving.

In recent times, there have been allegations in India that central government and some of the state governments are curtailing the freedom of speech, indulging in arbitrary arrests and framing motivated corruption charges.

Of course, at the same time, it is also pointed out that freedom of individuals cannot be absolute in any society and liberty cannot be merely a personal affair and it has to be a social contract.  While freedom of speech and action are important, abuse of freedom of speech and action by any individual or group or political party has to be closely monitored   by the government and if necessary, restricted to ensure the orderly process of democracy.

Now, with the court verdict going against Rahul Gandhi, who is a Congress party member and his being disqualified from his parliamentary membership as per the prevailing law, the Congress party and several opposition parties have joined together and   are accusing the Modi government of taking arbitrary action against Rahul Gandhi and also initiating anti-corruption proceedings and investigation against several members of the opposition parties.  These opposition parties have coined a new term “Indian democracy in danger”, as if the process of Indian democracy have collapsed or derailed under the weight of what they call as “dictatorship type of governance by Mr. Modi”.

The question is whether Indian democracy is really in danger or whether such accusations are being made by certain political parties and individuals as a strategy to save themselves from being investigated against by the government. Now, these opposition parties have approached the Supreme Court claiming that investigative agencies are being misused and the court has agreed to hear the case.

One of the promises made by Mr. Modi during the election campaign and repeatedly after , is that he would eradicate corruption in India by appropriate strategies. Several proactive initiatives have been made to promote transparency in governance by introducing digitalization in a massive way to avoid middle men in transactions and so many other similar steps.  In the process, it is inevitable that the investigating agencies have to probe any corrupt dealing that it come across   and in the process raids  and enquiries  have to   necessarily take place.

It is important to keep in view that punishment for an individual for the corrupt dealings or any objectionable activity are provided by the judiciary and not by the investigating agencies or the government.  The criticism of the opposition parties against the so called “arbitrary investigation” is unacceptable, as it virtually means that investigation should not be carried out at all. How can corrupt dealings and objectionable activities be identified and brought to justice without launching investigations?

The other argument by the critics appear to be that only the members of the opposition parties are being targeted and not the members of the ruling parties.  In such case, the critics can file case in the court against the corrupt dealing of any ruling party member, which has not been done so far.  For example, it is said that Adani group is corrupt and Modi government has favoured Adani group in an unacceptable way. If it is so, what prevent the critics from taking the issue to the court, instead of confining themselves only to media outburst?

In recent time, several members of the opposition parties and critics have used several abusive term against Mr. Modi i and have gone to the extent of calling him as thief and so many other highly derogatory terms.  After using such abusive language against the Prime Minister, they have gone scot free. Is it not a proof that democracy thrives in India as even abuse of freedom to malign as important a person as Prime Minister is being tolerated?

Certainly, democracy is not in danger in India. It is as vibrant as democracy in any other country like USA, UK, Canada and so on.

One can even say that there are some aspects, where Indian democracy can even be a role model for other democracies in the world, when we see persons belonging to different political parties who criticize each other still maintain good personal relationships.

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