For the first time in its 10-year history, the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2015, which opens on Sunday, will be used as a stage for business-related diplomacy with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attending the high-profile event.
Started as a brainchild of Mr. Modi in 2003, the biennial event has been steadily rising in stature with every edition. The seventh edition of the three-day Summit, is set to get grander in terms of the sheer number of participants and the guests involved.
This year’s event will see eight countries, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa and the U.S. partnering with the State. With aggressive campaigning, the government expects participation from over 2,000 companies, two million-plus visitors and over 2,500 international delegates.
In the last six Vibrant Gujarat Summits, the States signed MoUs worth Rs. 48 lakh crore. However, the investment generated has been way below the intention expressed in these summits.
Vibrant Gujarat, held every two years, has yielded billions of dollars in investment promises but only a fraction of the deals announced has come to fruition.
Why oil prices falling?
If basic demand-supply equations are one factor for sliding oil prices, the other is financial market equations. The oil market was funded in a major way in the last few years by cheap dollars flowing out of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programme. With interest rates at near zero, surplus funds flowed into the commodity markets, notably crude oil, driving their prices upwards.
The inability, or unwillingness rather, of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which accounts for about 40 per cent of global oil output, to cut production to match the demand is a major factor.
With the Fed winding up its stimulus programme and an interest rate hike in the U.S. possibly just round the corner, funds are now flowing out of commodities, driving their prices down. It is not a coincidence that oil prices started falling at around the same time that the Fed first indicated the possibility of a rate hike in the near term.
OPEC members are caught in a difficult spot as cutting down production will mean loss of revenue. They are also conscious about holding on to their market shares; cutting output will mean a loss of market share, especially if the U.S. shale gas producers continue to pump away. Yet, every barrel that they are unable to cut is adding to market surplus and depressing the price.
Saudi Arabia, which dominates the cartel with the highest share, appears determined to stay in a race to the bottom along with U.S. shale oil producers.
The kingdom is gambling that shale oil will become economically unviable to produce — if it already has not — as prices head below the $50 a barrel mark. First signs of that gamble paying off are just beginning to appear on the horizon. Drilling activity for shale oil is beginning to slow down as producers begin to feel the pinch of unremunerative prices. America’s oil output may now be at a three-decade-high but 2015 will be a crucial year as shale oil producers begin to cut down on output.
Impact on global economy
Cheaper oil is obviously good for the global economy; for an energy-intensive economy such as India’s, which also depends on imported oil for meeting four-fifths of its needs, a fall in oil price is like manna from heaven.
There are issues with the Chinese economy which is seeing a slowdown in manufacturing growth (mind you, this is not the same as a recession) and the euro zone’s troubles continue with Greece headed for snap polls amidst fear of a run on its banks. But the positive impact of falling oil prices outweighs these worries, at least at this point in time.
A recent IMF study says that every $10 fall in oil price adds 0.2 percentage points to global GDP growth. And that should mean a boost of a over 1.2 percentage points to global GDP growth given that oil has dropped from around $115 a barrel six months ago to less than $50 a barrel now.
Meeting the Maoist Challenge
In a spectacular strike on the security forces, cadres belonging to the CPI-Maoist ambushed a large team of police and paramilitary forces and killed 14 personnel of the CRPF in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh in December 2014. Ironically, two days before the attack, Chief Minister Raman Singh had declared that, “The day is not far when the state and Centre will together wipe out the Maoist menace and succeed in making Chhattisgarh Naxal-free.”
The Sukma attack has punctured such optimistic assessments. It was by far the gravest attack since the BJP-led NDA government assumed power in New Delhi in May 2014. The previous major attack targeting the security forces had occurred on 11 May 2014 in Maharashtra in which seven C-60 police commandos had been killed when Maoists blew up a police vehicle in Gadchiroli district. Between June and November 2014, the average monthly fatalities among the security forces was less than three – a comforting, yet complacency-inducing figure. The extremists, on the other hand, had suffered 56 fatalities during the period.
Extremism-related fatalities usually decline during the monsoon, which compels both the extremists and the security forces to scale down their operations. In addition, the CPI-Maoist was rocked by a number of high profile surrenders of some of its leaders. This led to the further extension of the lean period of Maoist violence in 2014. In the first 10 months of 2014, 472 Maoist cadres surrendered, compared with 283 in 2013. In his statement on the Sukma attack in Parliament, the Home Minister referred to the success achieved by Chhattisgarh in terms of the record surrender of the extremists, which has led to a weakening of the “morale of the Maoists”. The adverse operational impact of the recent desertions from the so-called revolutionary path has been acknowledged by the Maoists.
How to stop radicalisation?
A proactive government role and a holistic policy involving multiple government departments incuding health, education and housing for a gamut of schemes and programmes that can tackle “various contributory factors pushing people away from the mainstream”.
This would include, for example, programmes for more inclusive patterns of housing, an outreach programme for the mainstreaming of madrasa education and dealing with even the perceived grievance that minority-dominated areas are victims of wilful municipal neglect.
A Singaporean law mandates mixed ownership in all housing complexes through a fixed percentage of Malay, Chinese and Indian owners. While it may not be possible to replicate the model entirely, it could offer insights into government-mandated mixed housing. “At least in government-subsidised properties, can we not say there should be a percentage of housing for minorities?”
The challenge for authorities right now is to locate those being swayed by online propaganda, especially since those being radicalised are not just impoverished rural youth but also educated young Muslims with good jobs and prospects. Alongside encouraging deeper linkages with the community at every level, another suggestion is to push for change in the madrasa system of education through the introduction of Marathi and computer science as subjects. Only small percentage of madrasa-educated youth find employment as maulvis and pesh imams, many others struggle to find jobs.
To reduce the sense of alienation among Muslim youth, there is a need to sensitise members of one community to other communities’ religious beliefs and to tackle biases among members of various communities starting with government employees.
– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/how-to-stop-radicalisation-maharashtra-dgp-says-start-with-inclusive-housing-madrasa-reform/99/#sthash.fV4t3LOs.dpuf