Thursday, March 6, 2014
Swaraj : a must-read book for every Indian who wants to know what the real problems are in their country
Pro-Modi arguments : Country has so and so unsolvable problems, all these other people can't solve them, THEREFORE Modi = Our Only Hope (OOH!). He's the man-with-the-plan, but no one has any idea whatsoever what the plan actually is. "He will bring more development" is NOT a valid plan, FYI. How? Details? Wiping out all the forests? Killing all tribals in the name of stamping out Naxalites? What?? The coward can't even handle a live QnA or a debate that hasn't been rigged, because he's himself following orders of his bosses (now you know why it's important to know who's funding BJP and Congress??)
How can we consider these on any equal level? One is with all details laid out, the other is a magic viagara-pill that's going to set everything upright if you just close your eyes and swallow... it's a choice between reality and delusion.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Thank you so much for this episode. Nearly every close female friend of
mine has undergone sexual abuse or attempted abuse, and NONE of them
were able to get even to the stage of filing an FIR.
Our law and court system is DESIGNED to maximize and protect our rape
culture. More than the individual actors themselves, I hold the people
at the helms of these institutions responsible for all these abuses.
The security and law and order that I hear people keep defending and
saying "Oh no, without all this there will be anarchy, there won't be
anyone to stop rapes.."
>> What do you think is happening right now?? We ARE in chaos. There is
NO security right now. It's just an illusion. There is nothing about our
present systems that is worth defending. We have to change it.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Press release: AAP condemns illegal field trials for GM crops :: http://www.aamaadmiparty.org/AAP-condemns-illegal-field-trials-for-GM-crops
Conducting field trials of GM foods is like giving 10,000 HIV+ infected people an experimental cure, then setting them loose among the general population and paying them to go have intercourse with everyone they can without any protection. Because this will prove that the experimental cure, as claimed by the producing company, has worked.
In the event that the cure does not work :: "OH, no no no, see, we are perfectly sure it will work, 1001% sure! Which is why we didn't even bother to do any CLOSED, quarantined trials. Which is why there is no evidence from our official studies that suggests that GM is harmful.. because we haven't bothered CONDUCTING any (well, we shut down the ones we were conducting and prevented the results from being publicized), and we won't accept the results of any of those biased independent organisations who did! "
Further comment, on if this is just rhetoric or realL
Evidence is about as sketchy and controversial as AAP's current "haalat" in Indian media. Here's one article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/28/study-gm-maize-cancer
And here's a site which is part of worldwide grassroots movements to stop GM, it has a collecton of articles: http://www.foodrevolution.org/blog/category/genetically-engineered-foods/
But through all the arguments and counter-arguments, some salient points stand out :
1. Pepsi, Coke, Nestle etc made enormous donations via front organizations to fund for advertising, lobbying to prevent GM labelling on food products in the US.
2. Several countries and states around the world have banned one or all GM Food or crops from being grown on their soil.
3. The only long-term studies conducted ended up with the animals getting severe cancer and dying early. All the "safe" result studies were just 90-day trials. However strong the objections that the findings were flawed, Monsanto or US-FDA have till date not tried ANY long term study. And with the only results on animals showing horrible cancers, no one is daring to try a human long term study (logical.. same rules followed in all drugs trials).
4. Abroad and in India, there is no grassroots activist organisation with any degree of reputation on the ground who are batting for GM/Monsanto. Every last one of them, without even knowing each other, is saying the exact same things against GM/Monsanto.
5. Monsanto has a proven track record of producing and aggressively pushing the most toxic pesticides like DDT which they got govts to subsidize! and which later got banned practically across the world. For all those years they were defending and pushing their products the same way they are defending their products today.
6. A huge source of income for Monsanto across North and South America is from legally suing family-run farms into whose fields GM crops' pollen have flown in (initially from neighboring FIELD TRIALS), pollinated and grown into GM crops. (officially, the offspring only needs to have certain gene portions in it to be identified as "belonging" to Monsanto.) Because they hold a patent on the gene, therefore anyone whose field grows a GM plant without paying them royalty, gets sued. WTO rules either have or will make this doable in India also. This has bankrupted thousands of small farmers across the Americas.
This is quite weird and shows how much wisdom decreases when court judges only follow the rules of the book and don't bother to look up. Because logically, I'd sue Monsanto for INFECTING my field with their GM strains! Would a person having AIDS be entitled to sue you if you got AIDS from them?
It's a bit unfair to call all the grassroots activists biased and unscientific.. they're the ones with their feet on the soil and they're not going to make any multi-billions if their words are believed. The experts are very far away from the ground, and there is a very clear profit motive for those whose careers depend on Monsanto etc. As for how come the activists all saying the same things : Imagine that tomorrow a big company claims that their scientific research proves that the sun is black in colour. If all the people say "No it's not", then would you call the people unscientific and biased?
Monday, February 24, 2014
AAP Weekly Email Newsletter: 17th Feb to 23rd Feb 2014
We just kicked off our national campaign with a rally in Rohtak, Haryana. The response was overwhelming.
Storify compilation of this week (click on link to view):
AAP Articles this week (click on link to view):
AAP on TV this week (click on link to view):
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Radio Interview with Deborah Frieze, on Walking Out and Walking On (what my life journey has been about)
Saturday, February 22, 2014
These 10 years have been wonderful, creative and at the same time, extremely challenging.
In India, we have planted over 29,000 trees and harvested hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of water. In Haiti, Sadhana Forest has planted 80,000 food-producing trees that will feed up to 70,000 people and trained 7,000 Haitians in agroforestry and permaculture.
These days, we are starting Sadhana Forest Kenya, creating food forests with the Samburu people who suffer from drought and malnutrition.
Sadhana Forest has been funded by one-time donations, which have brought us this far, but are very unpredictable. In order to continue our work, we now need your support. We are now launching the Sustaining Member program that will enable you to contribute a small amount on a monthly basis. Any amount would help us!
To support our work please click here: www.sadhanaforest.org/sustain
Thank you very much for your help!
Yorit and Aviram
Thursday, February 20, 2014
We are organizing an adivasi food festival where both cultivated as well as uncultivated
and / or forest foods that the adivasis depend on will be displayed on
25th February at Bisamcuttack, Rayagada. This is a unique event where
people from a dozen tribes who live in the villages of Odisha,
Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will gather
with their local produce to tell us how and why they prefer their
traditional food. Members from the Kondh, Koya, Didai, Santhal,
Juanga, Baiga, Bhil, Pahari Korva, Paudi Bhuiyan and Birhor from more
than 300 villages spread across the tribal heartland of India.
The idea behind this adivasi food festival is to show that traditional
food culture of these people, based on their age-old agriculture
practices, have provided food and nutritional security for them down
the ages. If such practices are nurtured and improved upon, it would
provide far better food security than the current public distribution
system does and also help the communities and the forests in
protecting each other.
It will be a colourful event with singing and story-telling in an
unusual mingling of tribal cultures. Adivasi and Dalit children from
nearby villages and schools will also participate in this festival
which will showcase the richness of their food diversity and local
cultures. We will also be putting together more than 400 recipes for
dishes made from locally cultivated crops and uncultivated and /
forest produce - a rich storehouse of knowledge that needs to be
preserved and respected.
It is this thought that prompted us to hold the food festival. The
imposition of modern agriculture systems based on the use of chemical
inputs has had several adverse impacts, not least in undermining the
traditional practices of adivasi farming practices. It has reduced the
space for interaction among the tribes people who grow their food
mostly through exchange of labour, seeds, skills and services. It has
also destroyed the age-old custom of consulting one another on
farm-related decisions, etc.
This has begun to worry the elders in the community who fear the
modern system is distancing their people from their once strong
traditions and shared ways of living. They are apprehensive that their
customary support systems have begun to wither away as community
resources are being converted into individual assets and individuals
are being forced to adapt to the ways of the so-called civilized world
where each man has to fend for himself.
The food festival at Bisamcuttack is aimed at deepening their
communitarian ethos and shared knowledge systems. The event will
highlight their sustainable way of growing food and their relationship
with their ecology -the forest, seeds, land and food.
We hope to encourage the young adivasis to imbibe the significance of
the old ways by listening to the stories and songs of their and to
think critically about their future. We hope the event will help these
communities to regain pride in their sustainable practices and reclaim
control of their collective spaces. We also hope it will also prove to
be a stimulating forum for sharing the associated ecological knowledge
and cultural linkages that exist or were prevalent in earlier times.
The food festival on 25th February will be followed by a discussion
the next day on ways to increase such linkages through collective
efforts to protect tribal practices and thus ensure the harmonious
relation between people and forests.
We look forward to meeting you on the 25th February at Bisamcuttack, Rayagada.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
This article published by the New York Times on environment conservation efforts in the Indian state of Nagaland, paints a picture of Naga villagers following a harmful practice of hunting an endangered species of migratory birds. It then tells how through persistent "education" and awareness efforts by State and NGOs, the villagers are getting reformed.
But there's more to this story than what most of it portrays. Some important questions were neglected:
Have the villagers been indiscriminately hunting this bird to near extinction since time immemorial? If not, since when? How did they come to this situation?
The answer to these comes almost as an aside, in 3 small paragraphs halfway down the article:
"Their other sources of income had run into problems after the Doyang dam, a huge structure generating 75 megawatts of electricity, was commissioned in 2000. In a wet, mountainous state like Nagaland, it is not irrigation but flat land that is most coveted by farmers. The Doyang reservoir came up in some of the flattest areas in Doyang, submerging cultivable fields.
Attracted by the new body of water and the sugar cane and wild bananas that were growing on the banks of the reservoir, wild elephants trampled over several crops, say villagers. Suffering losses, villagers decided to capture Amur falcons, which were now congregating in dizzying numbers over the reservoir, for their livelihood.
Villagers have argued that if they are not allowed to hunt wild birds and animals, then they need to be provided an alternative way to generate seasonal income."
In this article, the "hunting is steeped in their tradition" got a lot more stress, even getting downright repetitive. An image was built that these villagers are inherently, by their very culture and way of life, inclined to hunt the falcons to extinction. Whereas the part quoted above was seldom referred to in the rest of the article. It's almost as if these paragraphs were inserted later as an afterthought. Omitting these parts out completely would have exposed the bias for what it really is, so other tactics are used. This is a typical example of control over what inference the reader makes. Even without outright lying, by choosing which parts of a story to lay stress on and which to downplay, a totally different picture can be conveyed. This happens regularly in our present mainstream media at the reporter/writer’s level or the editor's level; in the latter case, the original author might find out about the ideological edits made by their superior only after the article gets published.
Look at how much it is downplayed : "Their other sources of income had run into problems after the Doyang dam.." :: Other sources of income, or primary livelihood? If you permanently stop an entire community engaged in a livelihood like farming from doing it, then that doesn't mean that their "other sources of income" have "run into problems". It means you've deprived them of their livelihood, their way of life, their food security. At an average farmer's level, it means that unless he takes some drastic, desperate measures, his family is going to go hungry, and in the absence of community support (true here as everyone's in the same fix), they might even die.
In this case, the desperate measures manifested in resorting to hunting of Amur falcons. Hunting which was until now a cultural ritual (which inherently has limits and wouldn't lead to overhunting), was now commodified (which doesn't have any limits: the more you hunt, the more you earn). All these millennia these people didn't over-hunt any bird to extinction : it started happening only after their livelihoods were taken away from them, by the State and the power industry building a dam over their farmlands. Of course, the proceeds from the dam cannot be expected to go to these "backward" villagers to compensate them monthly for their livelihood losses (which would be a certain very large amount to be paid monthly for ever): that would make the dam non-profitable for the entities who built and operate them.
A miracle is conveyed over the killing of the birds dropping down to zero in just an year of efforts. This happened because the over-killing had only recently started, after the dam was made. It wasn’t a feature of the villagers’ cultural traditions as is repeatedly indicated.
So, which entity was really responsible for the endangerment of the birds? Those who were evicted from their ancestral lands, desperate to feed their families and given no other choice? Those who flooded flat farmlands in a mountainous region with a dam made to sell electricity for a profit? Or those consuming the electricity for whose consumption the dam was built? (The north east states sell electricity to various states on the mainland.. it could be your own city) The article decisively points fingers at the villagers, albeit giving some small defense on their behalf towards the end, but never going into the root causes.
And now we come to the truly dangerous part. By misinterpreting the problem itself, it becomes possible to justify any narrowly-focused solution, as professed all over this article. We're not fixing any problem by "educating and reforming" the villagers : a feat trumpeted like a heroic effort by the government and NGOs involved. This also highlights a serious problem with field-specific specialization of NGOs that come in from the outside : You cannot expect a Natural History Society to be telling anyone anything about dams, even if it's clear that it was a dam's hasty construction that is causing the problems they're endeavoring to solve.
So here's an exercise for the reader : If you were given an opportunity to rewrite the article under discussion, would you write it differently? What would your inferences be, and what would you be more comfortable with your readers inferring? What would your advocated solution look like?
(this article is being published as an Editorial in an upcoming website on alternatives that I'm partly involved with.. will update with link when it's up)
Sunday, February 16, 2014
2. To fend off bankruptcy due to above, IFI's (intl financial institutions) force the opening up of Indian economy with totally unrelated terms and conditions in lieu of loans accepted by govt without any public discussion thanks to country being occupied with communal issues, and 500-yr old colonialism comes back in the form of MNCs.
3. Environmental and community safeguards are waived to make way for unprecedented extraction of natural resources, bringing windfall profits to a few private players, and employment for a small educated middle class, and little gain to the remaining Indians. Largest human migrations since Partition happening across the nation as people are evicted from homelands to make way for SEZs, industrial corridors etc.
4. Food production gains made with Green Revolution are lost as vast lands put on fertilizer/pesticide drug overdoses succumb and lose fertility and biodiversity, sea fisheries lose capacity due to fertilizers/pesticides runoff, and India becomes a food importing nation once more. Overdependence on now failing BT cotton and hybrid seeds combine to induce the greatest wave of suicides witnessed in all of human history.
5. People standing up against all this : Govt, in pocket of industrialists, brands them as Naxalites and likens them to terrorists.
6. Country now needs continuous increasing foreign investment to offset its now continuous increasing outflow of resources.
7. Economic regulations relaxed and increase in currency circulation being done to adjust to above situations. Causing runaway inflation.
8. Mass media nearly completely owned by industries causing the problems, continues distracting and keeping the people in the dark, hence very few know what's really going on with their own country.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Even in India, the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) Nagpur, which monitors the cotton crop, has admitted: "No significant yield advantage has been observed between 2004-2011, when the area under Bt cotton increased from 5.4 to 96 per cent." Thus, the argument that the world needs to produce more for the growing population by the year 2050, and therefore it needs GM crops, does not hold true. "
Ask them a question. Ask them what they feel about so and so issue.
So get your questions ready, go out there and make people think.
Localisation : The most strategic way to tackle our escalating social and ecological crises?
Over the past 30 years, giant banks and corporations have become wealthier and more powerful than ever before. This has happened because governments, in the name of 'economic growth', have supported ever-increased global trade while neglecting local business potential. Through a series of 'free trade' treaties, trade and financial deregulation continues today, weakening and impoverishing governments and whole countries. This is the essence of economic globalisation.
Despite the rhetoric of inevitability that supports it, globalisation is a process of planned change — the consequence of government policies that support the profit-driven agendas of big businesses and banks. These policies include the building up of transport, communications and educational infrastructures tailored to the needs of global corporations; the over-regulation of local and national businesses; and the use of misleading indicators like GDP.
Since globalisation is at the root of so many problems, localisation — a shift away from the global and towards the local — is an obvious part of the solution.
The central principles of localisation
• Localisation is the diversification and decentralisation of economic activity. • Localisation strengthens human-scale business — especially for basic needs such as food, water, and energy, but also in housing, banking and healthcare.
• Localisation relies more on human labour and skill and depends less on energy and technology.
• Localisation requires less transportation, less packaging, and less processing, thereby reducing waste, pollution and fossil fuel use.
• Localisation adapts economic activity to the diversity of ecosystems, restoring cultural and biological diversity.
• Localisation fosters a deeper connection between people and nature.
• Localisation rebuilds social interdependence and cohesion, providing a more secure sense of identity and belonging, which in turn is a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence.
• Localisation challenges conventional notions of international development, instead reclaiming and regenerating diverse knowledge systems, languages, aesthetics and wisdom traditions.
Global to local policy changes:
¥ The renegotiation of international trade treaties, this time putting local needs first. This means the re-regulation of global trade and finance, along with the relaxation of regulations that currently stifle local trade and finance.
¥ A shift in taxes and subsidies that currently favor the large and multinational. Rather than tax labour while subsidising the use of energy and technology, policies need to promote the creation of jobs and livelihoods while minimising the wasteful use of energy and other resources.
¥ A re-direction of public investments in infrastructure. Billions are still being invested in creating and improving trade-based infrastructures — superhighways, shipping terminals, airports — while the needs of local economies are being neglected.
¥ Government control and regulation of the creation of money and debt. Leaving these key elements of modern economies in the hands of unaccountable banks and financial institutions has led to reckless speculation and economic collapse, as well as a widening gap between rich and poor.
***At the grassroots, a powerful localisation movement is emerging worldwide. India itself has a rich history of innovation and activism. Here and elsewhere, the localisation movement is showing that strengthening community and the local economy can undo many of the problems created by the mad rush towards globalisation.
Central to this new thinking has been the local food movement, which is already demonstrating that shortening the distance between farmers and consumers creates a multitude of benefits, including: healthier and fresher food; more income for farmers; more agricultural and biological diversity; and less pollution and fossil fuel use. Perhaps most importantly, small, diversified and locally-adapted farms actually produce more food per acre than large industrial monocultures, while reclaiming the food supply from multinational corporations.
The same logic that underlies the local food movement applies not only to other aspects of primary production (for example, fisheries and forestry), but to other quite different areas of economic life. Amongt the countless initiatives already underway are:
Via Campesina Transition Towns Decentralized renewable energy Local business alliances Local banking Alternative currencies and local bartering Local stock markets 'Gift economies' Ecovillages School gardens Non-school education Eco-building Biodiversity economics 'Counter-development' Anti-Corruption Inner Transformation
We believe that these and many other initiatives like them can gain strength by forging alliances under the localisation banner. Together, we can build a movement that will challenge the might of the mega-corporations and bring the economy back home.
We invite you to join us!
Thursday, February 13, 2014
I had switched on Ads on this blog to explore if there's any chance of
a little income generation.. a couple of months on I've decided to
switch them off.
For one, there was practically no earnings. And in return, when I
visited my blog, I was embarassed to see promotions for the very
things I've been writing and advocating against!
One day there was an ad asking for donations to BJP's Modi for PM
fund. The next day there was an ad asking donations to Congress's
And then there are these ads for online clothes and gadgets stores...
and I know that the major ones like Flipkart are pursuing seriously
predatory competitive practices : I've personally heard of cases of
them lowering their sale price below the cost price, and enduring a
loss (which with their large coffers they have the capacity to), just
so that all buyers buy from them, they capture the market and starve
other sellers. So they'll actually sell at loss just for the sake of
shutting down competitors. Anyways, such companes' ads I found on my
And then there's ads encouraging you to buy a car or a bike... Which
will only increase your dependency on fossil fuels, plus yet another
nail in the planet's coffin!
Google's Adsense account has extensive settings and all, I explored
that, but there's no end to what categories I have to check on and
off. No matter how many areas I keep blocking, I ultimately have no
influence over the ideological decisions of which ads to display.
For example, I'd love to see ads calling for contributions to
grassroots movements, campaigns for sustainability and justice, and
currently I'm also finding AAP as a worthy alternative. But their
stuff will never come, as the bad guys have paid more money. It's
money power which ultimately dictates which ad will be shown, and so
any choices given to me are window-dressing.
So, off with Adsense. My sincerest apologies to readers for shoving
these ads in your faces : I'll do my best to make sure it doesn't
happen now on. (Of course, I won't have a choice if the blog service
provider decides to show ads irrespective of whether I like it or
And it crashes on 10th February 2014 :
These guys know their stuff, they called it, and it happened. So now I
would advise the reader to pay attention to the other things they've
been writing / videoing about: http://stormcloudsgathering.com
I think this also brings out a deeper message, and these happenings
are reinforcing it for me.
Bitcoin came about as a result of a hunt for an alternative currency.
But the way of transacting : the buying and selling of materials and
services in an environment of conditionality and selfishness that
we've taken for granted to be the only way things can get done... that
was kept the same. The core was the same, it wasn't rethought.
So Bitcoin was a substitute. Not an alternative.
I don't think that's going to cut it. This is kind of like seeing
there's some problem in education, and substituting the existing
teachers with higher quality replacements, and expecting that that
will solve the problem. That doesn't solve the problem, because we
didn't change the system itself. The education will fail the students
regardless of what substitute teacher we bring in; similary, the
substitute currencies will fail.
The people who went in for Bitcoin, and wanted a decentralized
currency, I don't think they're recognizing that centralizing is an
inevitable consequence and a requirement for the system of
transactions where there's conditionality and selfishness involved.
What we need here is an alternative to that system of transacting. An
alternative that doesn't have conditionality and selfishness inherent
in it. We have to keep in mind that even barter, commonly mistaken to
be the only original mode of transaction, also has conditionality and
selfishness inherent in it. And that's why I hear the cliche, "So
you're saying we should just go back to barter??" The assumption here
is that barter was the origin and we all came from it, hence "go back
to". The brain shuts down there, and no consideration is given to
thinking how families, extended families, indigenous communities, and
even ecosystems and communities in the animal/plant world operate
I do have a solution in mind and at heart, but I don't think I can do
justice to it in writing it here... I can feel it but would need more
time and space to write it. But there are some wonderful resources I'd
like to point you to. The real alternatives, which do not have
conditionality and selfishness inherent in them, have different names
but common core values. The names go by "Gift Economy", "Giftivism"
And don't be too vindictive by saying "5 less criminals" etc... it's a lot more probable that these were the Edward Snowdens / Chelsea Mannings of the financial sector and they got stopped before they could whistle-blow, plus their deaths will send a chilling effects down the ranks to prevent anyone else from going public with what they know.
JP Morgan Executive Becomes 5th Banker to Die in Last 2 Week
The politicians are their agents... they may get a 5% cut.. but who's
running off with the remaining 95%??
They provide jobs to 1 lakh people only after throwing 10+ lakh people
out of their homelands and centuries-old livelihoods.
They occupy 1000s of hectares of public land for practically free, get
lakhs of crores worth of tax benefits and subsidies, do not have to
spend anything on international standards of pollution control and
safety, and then boast of how they are 'competitive' and give high
paying jobs to Indians (by passing on some of the loot gotten through
They rip off Rs.1000cr and then put Rs.1cr in CSR and make a huge show
of it. They're hiring most of the social work graduates through their
foundations and keeping them busy in solving symptom problems while
preventing anyone from digging too deep.
Even while boasting of giving jobs, automation is constantly on (our
textbook chapters on India having labour-intensive industry and hiring
more ppl are irrelevant now; technology has caught up) and the
ABSOLUTE NUMBER of jobs in many private sectors has DECREASED in last
10 yrs, esp in mining which is being pushed so heavily even overriding
They talk eloquently about ordinary Indians spitting on roads, while
secretly spitting billions of liters of toxic pollutants into our
They have wrecked our rivers and lakes, wiped out our forests,
polluted our air, depleted and poisoned our groundwater.
If local people being harmed by them stand up to defend their
motherland, these companies are the ones ordering the media and govt
to brand them as naxalites, terrorists. Our own defense forces, whose
job was to protect the country from foreign invasion, are being used
like private merceneries to murder our own citizens who are standing
up in self defense. (why else do you think there are increasing cases
of suicide, depression and fratricide among these forces? They're
realizing they're being ordered to kill their own people)
They own the mainstream media and have used it to paint themselves as
good, disciplined, reputed, honorable and needed for the country's
'growth', without explaining exactly what we're supposed to grow into.
(Picture a desert spanning across the country and 1 billion dead
people : that's what we're growing into.)
They are the real foreign hand, the shadow dictators of our nation.
White skin or brown skin, it's the attitude to grab and control
everything, to take and take as much as possible, which matters. We
don't need them at all; it's a big fat lie we're being brainwashed
What you can do : For starters, stop believing whatever the mainstream
media portrays, particularly watch out for them imposing their
opinions on you.
Find out who their owners are; you'll be shocked to find out.
Talk to people on the ground, visit the countryside, spend your spare
time on thinking and discussing rather than watching TV.
Look for independent news sources, particularly orgs that have
transparent funding and are reader-funded. Invest in these independent
Find out which banks are using citizens' savings to lend to these
corporates, and don't keep your money with them (that will be
difficult as these guys will be the ones giving highest interest rate.
That's because they're giving you a cut of the loot of your own
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
This short video shows the Unconditional Basic Income experiments done in India (Delhi and Madhya Pradesh) and interviews the recipients of the cash transfers.
The interviewees reveal positive effects on health, labor supply (quality), financial stability, improved environment, resource access, equity, investments, debt reductions and most of all, EDUCATION!!
This is a game changer. It clearly debunks most of the arguments against taking care of the basic needs of the human population. Even though these experiments were done on a small scale with significantly small amounts of cash transfers, they are a good start for the Indian community (and even the world).
Although barely reported in the media, two basic income pilot projects are have been underway in India since January 2011. One pilot is being conducted in part of Delhi and the other in eight small rural villages in Madhya Pradesh. The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) began planning and raising money for the rural project in 2008. The Delhi government eventually joined in, working with SEWA to organize an urban pilot project in Delhi....
Publicity about the project has been deliberately kept low because opponents have been using scare tactics to disrupt and to discourage participation in the project. They have spread rumors that the pilot would lead to the reduction or elimination of existing government support for the poor.
Families participating in the urban project receive 1000 Rupees per month (about US$22). Some participants have reduced access to other government transfers; some participants receive the grant all with full access to other government transfers. In the rural project, adult receive 200 Rupees a month (about US$4.40) and each child under the age of 14 receives 100 Rupees a month (about US$2.20). The project organizers will study the consumption, expenditure, and nutrition of the different groups of participations to a “control” group receiving no additional transfers to determine the impact of cash transfers.
These projects are similar to the Namibian basic income pilot project and to the U.S. and Canadian governments’ Negative Income Tax experiments conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, but the rural project adds an important new innovation to the method: the project is being conducted on the village, rather than on the individual, level. All residents of eight Indian villages will receive the basic income, and their behavior will be compared with residents of twelve “control” villages. This method will allow project designers to study village-wide effects of the transfer.
Guy Standing, professor of economic security at Bath University (UK) and an honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network, helped to conceive and organize the project. He argues that it needs to be conducted with scientific dispassion. But he’s hopeful of the outcome. Asked about the results of the Namibian pilot project—which he was also a part of—Standing said that organizers documented many positive effects: “Child school attendance went up dramatically, use of medical clinics went up. Those with HIV/ AIDS started to take ARTs (Antiretroviral Therapy drugs) because they’d been able to buy the right sort of food with the cash. Women’s economic status improved, and the economic crime rate went down. Income distribution improved.”
For more about the projects see an interview with Guy Standing in The Times of India:
Universal basic income (UBI)—the unconditional provision of an amount of money to every citizen—is an idea that has gained ground in several Western countries. Switzerland is planning a referendum on the subject; and a vigorous debate is on in the US and European countries on the feasibility of UBI. There have been instances in individual cities in the US and Canada where UBI has been tried out, with a degree of success, in the past.
There are good reasons to pursue the idea in India, the primary one being equity. There is a strong case to provide UBI to all Indians, a significant number of whom do not have a regular source of income. The second reason, which is equally important, is the damage that a bloated government is inflicting on the Indian economy. A vast number of “welfare schemes”, “flagship programmes” and the like eat into a huge amount of government revenue. In fact, the reason why India is in such dire fiscal straits is the explosion of such programmes and the money that has to be borrowed to keep them running. The macroeconomic consequences have been devastating. If a lump-sum is handed out to every Indian family, this flab can be cut easily.
It is not a utopian idea. One way to fund UBI is to dramatically reduce expenditure on subsidized goods and services such as food, healthcare and education. The freed up money can then be used to provide UBI. The numbers are simple. If, to pick an arbitrary number, every Indian family is handed out Rs5,000 every year, then for a population of 1.2 billion, the expenditure works out to Rs1,20,000 crore every year. This is not a big, unrealistic, sum. By comparison, the budgeted amount for total subsidies alone in 2013-14 is Rs2,31,000 crore—almost double of what is required to provide UBI of Rs5,000 to every Indian family. The entire non-Plan expenditure stands at Rs1,10,9975 crore, more than nine times what is needed for UBI. Now shaving off non-Plan expenditure in toto is not feasible, but surely if providing UBI is a political priority, the sum required can be easily found.
Financial affordability is one thing, political feasibility is another. But even on that count UBI can be a winner. Take a careful look at all the major welfare schemes being run currently—including the gargantuan Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). In the end, they serve as ways of transferring some money to the poor. This is seen to be a vote-spinner for any party in power. UBI can be a far more attractive idea politically. Giving regular income to the poor, far in excess of what they can earn through the MGNREGS or any other scheme, is more promising.
These issues apart, UBI promises to be a humane idea: It can end the uncertainty that so deeply afflicts the poor in this country. MGNREGS promised to be a good idea. But as it stands currently, it is a corruption- and inefficiency-ridden scheme. The poor may want work but may not get it. And even if they work, chances are they will not get the money due to them.
There are, of course, design issues that need to be confronted head on. What is the amount that must be provided as UBI? What should be the principles on which this sum is decided? Will establishing UBI make India a country of layabouts who refuse to work because they have a guaranteed income? These are contentious issues that need to be debated. But the logic of introducing UBI remains strong.
The reasons for providing UBI in Western countries are different: stagnant wages, an effective demand collapse and associated sociological problems. In India, these issues are different but the background remains the same: helping the poor and ensuring that government intervention in the economy—devastating in recent years—is minimized.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014