Monday, April 13, 2015

 PM's address, after unveiling the Bust of the Mahatma Gandhi, at Culemannstrasse, in Hannover, Germany

महात्मा गांधी भारत में जन्मे जरूर थे। महात्मा गांधी पिछली शताब्दी में जन्मे जरूर थे लेकिन न वह सिर्फ भारत के थे, न ही वह बीती हुई शताब्दी के थे। वे पूरे विश्व के थे और वे युग पुरुष थे और युगों तक जब-जब मानवता की चर्चा होगी तब महात्मा गांधी का जीवन, उनके शब्द, उनके संकल्प, संकट की घड़ी में भी मानव जाति को मार्गदर्शन दिखाएंगे। विश्व दो संकटों से गुजर रहा है। एक आंतकवाद और दूसरा ग्लोबल वार्मिंग। पूरे विश्व को इसकी चिंता है और अगर हम महात्मा गांधी की तरफ देंखे तो इन दोनों समस्याओं का समाधान महात्मा गांधी के विचारों में से मिलता है, उनके आदर्शों में से मिलता है। वे प्रकृति को प्रेम करते थे। वे प्रकृति के साथ-साथ जीवन की बात करते थे और वे पर्यावरण की रक्षा के लिए बड़े जागरुक थे।

उस समय विश्व में कहीं पर भी Environment की चर्चा नहीं होती थी उस समय वह प्राकृतिक जीवन के प्रति लोगों को आकर्षित करने के लिए अपने जीवन के माध्यम से संदेश देते रहते थे। दुनिया जो आज रक्तरंजित हो रही है। मानव जीवन पर आतंकवाद का साया मानवता को नष्ट करने पर तुला हुआ है। तब, महात्मा गांधी का अहिंसा का संदेश महात्मा गांधी का सह-जीवन का संदेश और भारत की धरती का ‘वसुधैव कुटुंबकम’ का संदेश इस संकट से मानवता को बचाने का उत्तम रास्ता है और उस अर्थ में महात्मा गांधी आज भी पूरी मानव जाति के लिए आदर्श हैं, प्रेरक हैं|

मैं मेयर Stefan का, हेनोवर की जनता का हृदय से आभार व्यक्त करता हूं कि आज महात्मा गांधी की प्रतिमा यहां लगी है और मुझे बताया गया कि यहां की जनता ने मतदान करके तय किया था कि हमारे हेनोवर में महात्मा गांधी की प्रतिमा होनी चाहिए।

लोकतांत्रिक तरीके से, और इसलिए आज महात्मा गांधी की प्रतिमा की स्थापना हर हेनोवर के नागरिक के लिए गर्व का विषय है, जर्मनी के लिए गर्व का विषय है और मैंने जैसे कहा, हर भारतीय तो गर्व करेगा लेकिन मानवता में विश्वास करने वाले विश्व के हर व्यक्ति के लिए आज गर्व का अवसर है। मैं फिर से एक बार मेयर Stefan का बहुत-बहुत अभिनंदन करता हूं।

बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद। 

16 hrs · 
unded by seven Gujarati housewives with a capital of about 7 pounds, it now has 42,000 owner-producers with a turnover approaching 70 million pounds.
The largest collective of women in India's informal sector is SEWA—the Self-Employed Women's Association, also founded by a woman. Its achievements within the country to provide a social security net for its members and add value to household enterprise have been widely recognized. But one of its most recent endeavours is particularly noteworthy—a programme in war-torn Afghanistan to train women, especially war widows, to acquire skills, set up food processing enterprises and initiate ecological regeneration. A similar programme is the Hand-in-Hand project in two provinces in Afghanistan based on the experience of our self-help-groups. In a true spirit of sisterhood, they are contributing to women's empowerment in that country. "
Excerpt from Commonwealth Lecture by Smt. Sonia Gandhi Hon'ble Congress President
Women as Agents of Change
Thursday, 17th March 2011, London

Export pessimism again: Trade policy of Modi government falls short on ambition and ideas

The Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) of the NDA government, announced by trade minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month, is in two parts. It includes an FTP statement itself 66 pages long, accompanied by the actual policy that is another 159 pages! With all this commendable effort, it may still not achieve Sitharaman’s stated objective that “it will enable India to respond to the challenges of external trade environment and take India to the next level in international trade”.
The reason is not far to seek. FTP, while being in the right direction, reflects business as usual and attempts only incremental change rather than the bold new beginning that is needed if India is to “assume a position of leadership in the international trade discourse”.
India cannot aspire to be a global leader with a mere 2% share in global trade. This may rise to 3.5% with FTP’s target of raising total (merchandise plus services) exports from $465.9 billion in 2013-14 to $900 billion by 2020-21. Even this will not suffice to give us the status of a major export power or a legitimate seat on the global governance high table. We have to do better than achieving an annual export growth rate of 15% as assumed by FTP.
The assumed growth rate is inexplicably significantly lower than the 21% achieved by Indian exporters in the five years between 2005-06 and 2010-11. Between 2003 and 2010 Chinese exports increased from $438 billion to $1,578 billion at a compound annual growth rate of more than 30%. As a result, China’s exports were $2.2 trillion in 2013 and accounted for 11.7% of global exports. At this level they are nearly five times India’s total exports!
Clearly FTP has adopted a somewhat cautious target, which will not allow India to exploit the full potential of external demand for generating employment and expanding domestic manufacturing capacities.
FTP includes some steps for simplifying the system of rewards or incentives for exporters. First, it introduces the Merchandise Exports from India (MEIS) and Service Exports from India Schemes. These bring together a number of existing schemes under one head, makes these rewards payable in the form of duty credit scrip that are freely transferable and can be used to pay for customs and excise duties as well as service tax.
Second, these incentives are also made available to units operating from the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Third, manufacturing exporters who are also status holders can now self-certify their goods as originating from India. Fourth, export units operating under four export promotion schemes will henceforth have access to fast track mechanisms, allowed to share infrastructure facilities and permitted to establish warehouses near their chosen ports. Other measures may well be hidden in the minutiae.
However, despite being nine months in the making, FTP leaves several well-known constraints unaddressed. SEZs continue to suffer from the minimum alternate tax. MEIS comes with a non-eligibility list of 19 criteria; MSME exporters will neither have any relief from the number of inspectors that plague them, nor be assured of better access to formal credit.
There is no special effort to attract export-oriented FDI and address infrastructure weaknesses, which are recognised to be two essential conditions for making Indian exporters a part of global value chains. FTP does not give a firm date for setting up the Directorate General of Trade Remedies.
It also does not give any details of the proposed Centre for Research in International Trade, which will hopefully be merged with the ministry’s own Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. It might have been advisable to announce FTP after another three months during which these details would have been worked out and action completed on reducing cost and time in processing export and import applications.
There are three major omissions. First, lack of a policy for ramping up foreign tourism in which India is truly a poor performer. With its meagre 7.5 million foreign tourist arrivals per year, India is losing out on a major employment expansion opportunity.
Second, the MSME sector – which produces 45% of manufacturing output and 40% of total exports – receives only cursory treatment without any tangible steps to make it a part of global value chains or improving access to needed technologies and markets. Third, FTP leaves the large panoply of export promotion and facilitation institutions virtually untouched, despite the majority of them not contributing effectively to the export effort.
The argument that tourism, manufacturing or MSMEs come under different ministries and consequently cannot be covered under FTP is contrary to FTP’s own assertion that the document represents the effort of the ‘whole government’ and tries to mainstream export activity. It would have been far better if FTP was accompanied by policy announcements for export expansion by other ministries like tourism, handicrafts, textiles, IT services and ministry of MSMEs.
Such a coordinated exercise, undertaken for the first time, would have shown a government working towards a common goal and inspired greater confidence. As it is, government has reinforced the impression that it is happy to tinker at the margins rather than go to the drawing board for designing a bold new policy approach.
Such incrementalism could disillusion investors who expected a new policy paradigm from the Modi government for tackling India’s serious employment challenge.
 is senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

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