cambodia

South East Asia has always been in the cusp of two overwhelmingly large civilizations, namely India and China. While China’s rise is looked upon with apprehension, the admiration for India’s growing clout is viewed more positively by SE Asian Nations. Unlike other major civilizations, Indian never resorted to use of force to enforce their dominance. Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA once said”India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” Nowhere is the sight of India’s soft power more evident than in Khmer nation of Cambodia, a cradle of our civilization in the Southeast Asia. Not many people know that the largest temple dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses, lies outside the ambit of Indian sub-continent. The Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, houses the ruins of the largest temple on the planet. More heartening is the fact that propagation of Indian civilization there, was without any form of violence or allurement. Unlike Semitic Religions, the expansion of Hindu fold was powered by sanskritization and incorporation of local deities and legends with Hindu Mythology. Khmer rulers were great proponents of shaivite philosophy.

Their monuments are among the greatest architectural wonders, humanity has ever come across; However power games and ethnic rivalries got better of this great architectural heritage. Angkor wat was ravaged repeatedly by invaders and lately by treasure hunters from across the world. The ruins of Angkor silently remind us that in race for superiority and proving one’s point, Mankind has destroyed some of its greatest asset. Throughout history, Emperors and looter have taken pride in destroying icons of the vanquished civilization .If not for these beastly tendencies our cultural heritage would have been many times richer. However all that seems to be changing;Today the ruins of  Angkor Vat are among the most visited heritage sites in the world. International efforts for its restoration and general appreciation of the monuments indicate that the age of globalization is here to stay.

Dissipated Idols in Angkor Vat Temple Complex 

Crystallization of India’s “Look East” policy has paved way for participation of Indian Industry in the redevelopment of Cambodia. In line with the above vision, Ruchi Soya has already commenced operation in Cambodia. We believe commercialization of Agriculture and development of Agro-processing Industry in the Nation will give Cambodian the best chance to meet the challenges of future with confidence.  With the zeal for development and immense potentiality of human resource,  the day is not far when Khmers will regain their lost glory.

ram

 

Greetings for Ram Navmi! As we commemorate the birth of Lord Ram on this last day of Navratri, its time we contemplate for a minute or two, about the relevance of the ideals and values Lord Ram stood for. In the rat race for material possession, Ram may look irrelevant particularly for to a generation, that believes in success at any cost. The idea of giving up a rich kingdom to honor the words of one’s dying Father or showing deep respect for sworn enemies; Its hard to find them reasonable, especially if you have inquisitive children, who refuse to take faith as it comes. The greatest strength of Indian culture is the high regards it gives to the faculty of reason. Instead of suppressing questions on faith, we must encourage them. Contrary to the popular perception, faith and Rationalism can beautifully co-exist. In fact with rationality, faith is strongly cemented

Man is not a moral animal at birth. Our animalistic tendencies tend to take over our conscience, more often than we notice. It is therefore extremely important to develop a moral fabric, especially in children before they develop a worldview or develop prejudice about society and life… Once morality is developed, it is absolutely OK to question it or correct it; but thats strictly after a socially acceptable set of values are strongly entrenched in the child’s psyche; since without them social order as we know it will collapse.

Questions can be raised about reasonability of Lord Ram’s decision but their moral correctness and social compatibility can never be questioned; even by the biggest critics of Lord Rama.This is something that has kept the ideals of Ram relevant and cherished for millenniums. “Ram Charitra’ provides a base for social morality; an ideal King, an ideal Son, ideal Brother, ideal Husband; ideal Master and even an ideal Enemy, Lord Ram’s behavior and decisions in each and every role of life is inspiring; they have set benchmarks of morality in personal and social life. Ram Navmi is time to cherish these age-old values that pass and them to our future generations.

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After nearly seven decades of bitter conflict on ground and economic front,the virtues of economic liberalism and consumerism overpowered the idealist call for communist society. The reason for this overwhelming success of market forces is its identity association with instinctive  aspirations of human beings.The United States of America are considered the nerve center of economic liberalism and consumerism. However this idea is not native to America. It has much deeper roots. Indians discovered the power of free-trade, millenniums before Adam Smith produced his theories on Laissezfaire According to historical estimates, India remained world’s largest economy for almost the entire first millennium of Christian era.This is remarkable if we compare this with the dominance of western world; In less than 200 years of industrial revolution its might has started waning. India is again on the road to achieve its past glory.

Economist across the world agree to the fact the rise of India as a super-power is the logic of history and economics; and it is not that difficult to grasp. India is a land of festivals and celebrations; this is turn induces and maintains constant demand in the local markets. when such a situation is  aided by strong fundamentals and mass-morality in life economic growth is but natural. Celebration of Diwali is one of the greatest testimonies to this fact; and who would be worried on international front when lord Krishna himself professes the virtues of globalization through his ideals of ” 
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Vasudeva Kutumbakam

 

India has one of the highest rate of rural to urban migration in the entire developing world. Many see government schemes like MREGA as an attempt to contain this exodus. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme  was never meant to be a development programme; it was and is meant to be a social-security / safety-net.

The genesis of this scheme is in the EGS of the State of Maharashtra enacted after the horrific drought of 1972. It was realised that there was severe shortfall of work in rural areas. Government did not want to run a scheme of merely transferring money to the poor because it, rightly so, feared leakages. This scheme was the work of a genius. It pitched the daily wage rate at just below market. It also made provisions for manual labour only. This meant that the scheme became self-targeting because no rich / powerful person in a rural setting would want to work on this unless (s)he actually needed the money. This is not to say that there were no leakages but that is another story. The main purpose of the scheme was employment which will enable the poor to access the safety net and yet maintain their dignity; which would be lost if they received dole. A by-product of this scheme was that the work would be around building infrastructure that would hopefully keep back drought. That, sadly, did not happen much. The MNREGA is more or less in the  same mould. Is it ‘populist’? Perhaps. Does it help the very poor? Yes, in spite of the leakages, it does.

At First we must understand and accept that gainful employment for every adult in a rural setting in India is not possible. Even and especially in agriculture. This is because with every passing generation land holdings get smaller and smaller as land is divided amongst the sons in the family. Considering that over 65% of all Indian farmers are already small and marginal farmers with less than 1 Ha of land, the problem gets more acute. That over 70% of agriculture is rain-fed exacerbates the situation especially as climate is fast changing and rains are becoming unpredictable.

Second, there is a limited demand for ‘services’ in rural settings. Services that we take for granted in urban areas – security, house help, drivers, creches etc have little scope in rural settings.

Third, there are severe restrictions on the number of people who can be involved in trade. Very often one or two retail shops and tea stalls is all that villages can handle profitably.

Fourth, self reliance of any community / district / State or nation in this globalized world is very very difficult. The smaller the unit, the lesser the chances. The need to trade and exchange goods and services will remain. What I am interpreting self reliance as is theability to source what one needs. 

What then can be done?

The solution is to encourage and even promote urbanisation. This does not mean we encourage people to move to large urban centres but that smaller urban centres are created all over. In any case this is the trend world over.

Romantics point to the idyll of rural life. Often these romantics don’t actually stay in rural areas. They say that the poor moving to urban centres end up in slums. True. In spite of knowing that the poor migrate. The question to be asked is “Why would anyone willing choose to live in slums in pitiable conditions and face enormous risks if they had an option?” The answer is that the poor, when faced with despair, find the lure of urban areas irresistible.  They know it is difficult but are forced to pin their hopes on migrating and improving their lives; in many cases they reason, that their lives could not get worse.

Urban areas offer improved chances of obtaining work, health facilities and eventually education for children. They improve access to media and hence information that can be useful to improving lives. They improve recreation options. Research has shown that migration can reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth.

The nature of poverty is fast changing. It is no longer only economic but is increasingly related to skills or lack thereof. In order to be better able to reduce the skills poverty, India needs to invest in improving quality of education . India also needs to invest in vocational training so that small entrepreneurs can emerge. Aligned to this is access to easy credit and good infrastructure.

It is not going to be easy; poverty alleviation never is. Till we reach a point where most of the youth have gainful employment, we are going to continue to need social safety net programmes like the MNREGA. We have to make a start though and this the time.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr. we are faced with theurgency of now.

E57

As the festival of Navratri commences today, the entire social landscape of our great country will be immersed in faith and jubilation.But what is it that makes this festival of nine nights stand-out ? Faith becomes all powerful only when nurtured by the stream of rationalism. As the festive spirits run high, we often tend to ignore the deep historical, social and philosophical rationale associated with the occasion. especially in the light of prevailing socio-political conditions.

Goddess Durga and the continuity of ancient fertility cult ‘Durga’ is representative of the ancient fertility cult that anthropologically speaking is the oldest form of worship known to human society.Traces of mother goddess and fertility cult can be found is ancient human agglomeration across the world. Evidences suggest that “mother goddess” has been an object of worship from as early as the middle stone age, (before 10,000 BC) The totem of Brekhatram, discovered in Golan heights Israel provides evidence of worship  in stone ages. It also considered to be one of the oldest instance of worship in human society.Similar discoveries have also been made in almost all ancient agglomerations like Egypt, Sumeria, Anatolia, Greece, Rome and off-course India

The Shakti cult of Goddess Durga in India

In Hindu religion mother goddess is represented as Durga. She is the personification of material aspect of nature; all that can be seen, and felt is considered “prakriti” which is the gross manifestation of Durga. Prakriti’s union with Purusha is reconsidered the root-cause for the creation of cosmos. Purusha (the manifestation of Shiva) is the conscious, masculine element of universe.  Durga is representative of effeminate aspect of the creation

The nine days of Navratri are often associated with nine divine manifestations of Goddess Durga; i.e feminine aspect of creation; namely:

1. Shailaputri 2. Brahmacharini 3. Chandraghanta 4. Kusumnanda 5. Skandamata 6. Katyayini 7. Kalratri 8. Mahagauri 9.Siddhidatri

From Benevolent Shailaputri Parvati to the all powerful Kalratri Mahakali,  Goddess Durga manifests herself in various form. This is a silent reminder of the fact that feminine force, when aggravated has the power to annihilate the universe. In the light of above observation we may conclude that Navratri is a celebration of feminism and its creative and destructive aspects. Increased significance of Navratri in prevailing socio-political condition. Spirit of Navratri cherishes the power and dynamism of effeminate aspect of cosmos. Recent spurt in crime against women have shaken the foundations of our age old tradition of respecting women. Let’s take this opportunity to remember that there is a reflection of supreme goddess Durga in every women we may come across; and aggravating them can lead to complete annihilation.  Women in all their forms, be it Mother, Sister, Daughter,  Friend or even a stranger passing by, deserve our respect; for in its absence, continuation of life as it exists, will not be possible…

tax ds

India is the fourth largest oilseed producing country in the world, next only to the USA, China and Brazil. However in our country differential between crude oil and refined oil has narrowed to merely five per cent.

Aggressive policy initiatives by South East Asian countries  

To encourage local processing industries, the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s largest vegetable oil suppliers, have raised the export duty on crude oil In fact, the Indonesian government increased export duty on crude palm oil (CPO) from nine per cent in June to 10.5 per cent for July. The country also has a lower duty on RBD at four per cent to promote local refineries.

On other hand, Malaysia has a relatively lower export duty on CPO at 4.5 per cent and RBD palmolein at ‘nil’. Malaysia and Indonesia jointly supply about 87 per cent of the world’s palm oildemand.in contrast, the Indian government narrowed the differential tax between CPO and RBD palmolein to five per cent from the earlier 7.5 To change the inverse duty structure in exporting countries, as well as the domestic industry’s sentiment, Indian edible oil manufacturers have urged the government to raise import duty to 20 per cent for crude palm oil and 10 per cent for refined oil.

“The anomaly in the government policy has hit the industry very hard in the past six months. Current fluctuations in the rupee-dollar exchange rate have added to the woes of Indian refiners. We urge the government to restore the duty differential between CPO and RBD immediately. The government should impose an import duty of 10 per cent on CPO and 20 per cent on RBD. This would give sufficient protection to Indian farmers, as well as the desired 10 per cent duty differential for the Indian vegetable oil refining industry,” said Shahra.

The industry’s demand to restore the duty differential to 7.5 per cent is in line with the recommendations of the Ashok Lahiri committee.

syrian

 

India’s economy is heading into a deep slump.India’s once booming economy now seems to be  hit by deepening of crisis; Our country grew just 4.4 percent this summer, a far cry from the 7.7 percent average for the past decade. The prevailing conflict in Syria poses the risk of further worsening the economic recovery. In the recently concluded G20 summit, Chinese deputy finance minister, reiterated that  military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on oil prices. Considering the recent depreciation in value of Rupee,impact on India will be no less.Like Indonesia, Brazil and other developing countries, India has been hurt as investors have moved money to the US to take advantage of the prospect of higher interest rates. But most of India’s biggest problems – like its high inflation, which was nearly 5.8 percent in July has domestic causes. A combination of International and domestic crunch in the economy will further aggravate the downturn of Indian Economy. In response to this challenge  India has cast its lot with countries counselling against military intervention in Syria, saying it would wait for the report from United Nations inspectors to fix culpability.

On the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria, India has consistently supported elimination of such weapons worldwide. The international legal norm against their use anywhere and by anyone should not be breached. India’s stand is in line with its traditional stand of appreciation of the Arab cause. Only brilliant statesmanship and extraordinary efforts on the part of our thinkers and policy maker, can help us see off this adversity

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