Four years ago, the Modi Government was voted into power with a stupendous majority that shocked its critics. Vowing to transform India and accelerate it on the path to progress and prosperity, the government rolled up its sleeves and got on the job with diligence. Today many of the results are visible in concrete and steel; and well researched figures to back up its track record of nation building. Clearly the promises of yesterday are now the springboard of today’s growth and global success.
Apart from the ruling party, major publications and media houses have put together a report card for the Government. There is a consensus on the capability of the NDA government to deliver solid results to very difficult deadlines. Perhaps its most spectacular achievement is the slew of tough economic reforms it launched and faithfully carried them through. Global institutions and rating organisations have acknowledged these efforts and upgraded India’s credit rating.
With numerous reforms under implementation, India shot up on the rankings of ‘Ease of Doing Business’. This ranking opened the floodgates for considerable investment in India. The stock exchanges too reflected the buoyant nature of the improved economy touching new highs. GDP growth has climbed up and so have exports. The government, however, is facing criticism for low domestic investment and job growth. The ballooning NPAs and losses of the nationalised banks are another cause of concern that have to be addressed.
The countdown for the FIFA World Cup to be held in June- July in Russia has started. 32 teams will play over 30 days to decide the world champions. But PM Modi’s informal summit with President Putin at Sochi didn’t happen to talk football. The two leaders are believed to have had “extremely productive” discussions during which they reviewed the complete range of Indo-Russian relations as well as various global issues.
The informal summit was the stepping stone to give an impetus to bilateral ties and to cement strategic defence partnerships. The timing is particularly significant as the US is imposing sanctions on Russia and is slowly escalating a trade war with India. The ‘agenda less’ summit has raised many eyebrows and fuelled much speculation, as there was no joint statement by the leaders at the end. Traditionally Russia has been the cornerstone of Indian foreign policy. Today, however the situation has changed with China becoming a mega trade partner and the warming of relations with Washington. New Delhi today is treading the tightrope very carefully not to upset the delicate balance between these global giants.
The world’s largest retailer Walmart this month bought 77% of India’s largest e-commerce marketplace Flipkart because this is the only way it can tap the retail market in India as for now. The Indian market is worth $672 billion currently and set to cross the $1 trillion mark by 2020. It provides Flipkart, which needed money and prevents it from worrying about working towards a public share sale. The deal will also create jobs, directly and indirectly, and help create much-needed supply chain and cold chain infrastructure — something that could improve India’s appalling farm-to-fork efficiency, thereby benefiting farmers.
Besides, the transaction is a milestone for India’s internet industry. Although a handful of internet start-ups have achieved multibillion-dollar valuations on paper, this is the first time that any of them have cashed out in a big way.
The rivulets of sweat coursing down our faces every time we step out to brave the sweltering summer, focuses my attention on water. It’s a resource India desperately needs, yet water gets blatantly wasted across India. To understand the gravity of the situation, let’s look at some figures. Groundwater accounts for 40% of our supply but it is getting depleted faster than it is being replenished. Rain water is another vital source, and here again, we manage to capture only a dismal 8% of it. Water infrastructure is plagued by leaks causing losses of 40% of piped water in urban areas. And to top it all we recycle only 15% of used water.
Droughts are becoming a frequent reality, as farmers become increasingly dependent on the monsoon. India desperately needs a concerted water management and conservation policy to save it from an economic disaster. It is believed that if we continue with status quo, the demand will soon outstrip supply which will result not only in GDP tumbling but also in a civil war!
Change is essential on four fronts to prevent this problem from snowballing! Firstly, policy needs to be revamped making water a national resource with the government as the ultimate owner. Secondly, extensive water infrastructure needs to be built and maintained to optimally distribute water to all sectors and corners of India. Thirdly, behaviour needs to change so that we respect water as a blessing and not waste it frivolously. Finally, we need to collect and build a water data system that will enable the government to allocate and price water efficiently. All in all, the mantra is to conserve water effectively. At the Society we need to salute the efforts of Late CA Pradeepbhai Shah and CA Rashminbhai Sanghvi under whose leadership, BCAS got the opportunity to support check dam projects in Gujarat which is now a boon for those villages.
The Southwest Monsoon hit Kerala as predicted marking the arrival of the rainy season in the country. As per forecast, the monsoon is set to have a normal advance over the subcontinent. Two consecutively good monsoons have played a key role in reviving demand for consumer goods in rural India which led to better crop yields. Equallydistributed rain usually sees a healthy uptick in demand for products from rural areas and results in an increase in rural citizens' purchasing power. Hopefully this year also we should get adequate rains in all parts of the country.
Reading the papers today has become such as arduous and torturous task. The reason being the high quantum of ‘bad’ news in the media. By bad, I refer to the callous and cold-blooded perversions being inflicted on humanity. Even the marginalised are being ruthlessly exploited and heaped with such indignities that it causes one to shudder with shame. And sadly, a lot of these atrocities are now becoming so commonplace in India; it does not even elicit a reaction.
What happened to India, considered one of the greatest civilizations of the world? India, the birthplace of some of the most profound religions, influential philosophers and apostles of peace; now seems to be sliding downhill. The bankruptcy of ethics is visible in the hopelessness, weak morals, lack of empathy and low willpower that’s rampant in society. Perhaps it is time to confront the situation more aggressively, with a greater emphasis on ethics in education.
There is already a provision to learn moral science and religion in schools, but I fear most schools and teachers don’t feel this is an important facet of education. Students well-grounded in ethics will choose compliance, construction and inclusion and not promote defiance, destruction and exclusion. Students should understand the importance of acting responsibly and respectfully even when they are using forums, social media, or mobile devices. Ethics and value-based education needs to be ‘hardwired’ into students so that as adults they rediscover their soul and infuse hope into an otherwise bleak future.
Value education is rooted in Indian philosophy and ingrained in every tradition of Indian culture. After all, educational institutions play a significant role in the promotion of ethics.
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With kind regards
CA. Narayan Pasari