Vol-CIX : June 1, 2013

Dear Colleagues

A fortnight at 45+ degree Celsius can drain one’s ability to be creative; hence, another random reflection for your perusal:

1.  There is much buzz around capitals of Europe and North America about the ‘rising south’. The economic growth of countries like China, India, Brasil, Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico and South Africa has created a sort of fixation in those societies which were hitherto used to being ‘northern/western powers’. As economic stagnation and recession sets in Europe, there is a larger-than-life portrayal of the ‘rising powers from the south’. UNDP’s Human Development Report 2013 is devoted to this theme; DFID has been supporting a research programme on this theme; BMZ is now hosting a conference later this month in Berlin; OECD has set up several task forces to map and study this phenomenon. What about citizens in these ‘rising south’ countries? How rising they are? How do they view the economic and social changes that are taking place as their countries are ‘rising’?

2. The present generation of young people in Spain are the most highly educated ever in that society. Nearly 75% of young people complete college education there. Yet, nearly half of all educated youth are unemployed. The economic crisis is rendering higher education worthless? It is clear that individual’s progress on economic ladder through education depends a great deal on the socio-economic context in which she lives. Mere qualifications do not lead to gainful livelihood. Not all unemployed educated youth can become entrepreneurs either; all enterprises need some workers too?

3. There was a time when sports was recreation. Now, it is big business. As a consequence, governance of sports at national and international levels is facing serious challenges. International Olympic Association, FIFA (international football association) and ICC (International Cricket Council) are a few examples of deficits in transparent and accountable governance. Sports federations, associations, clubs, leagues, stadiums and ministries in India seem to be at the forefront of mal-governance these days. Following the disastrous Commonwealth Games in 2010, the Indian Olympic Association has been disqualified as a member by IOC; dozens of national level athletes and sportspersons have been charged with doping; and now, the Indian Premier League (IPL) of cricket is in shambles as owners, players and umpires have been jailed for match fixing. Governing sports in a transparent and accountable fashion is urgently needed in India, and globally.

4.  The final Report of the High Level Panel on post-2015 set up by the Secretary General of the UN has just been released. It has the usual lofty language, starting with the glorious achievements through MDGs. It sets up five agendas—usual suspects—end poverty, put sustainability, inclusive economic development, peace and transparency and global partnerships. While all of these have been variously mentioned in all and sundry documents already, the rhetoric of the universal coverage for this post-2015 agenda has to be viewed in light of the just released report of massive unemployment in Europe, especially amongst the young. There is a curious new recommendation about data banks—the need to generate new, more, and comprehensive data. This looks like providing more business to the growing ‘statistically significant’ quantitative evaluation industry. Whose data will count? Who will count data? Who will use data? And, for what?

5. It is quite fashionable for various companies to be launching initiatives to transform India these days. Maruti Suzuki has launched one ‘I Lead Change’ in India, in partnership with a leading media group. The initiative is inviting young people to provide leadership in 20 cities to transform them. Laudable as all such initiatives are, it is important to start the change from within. In recent years, Maruti’s track record of dealing with workers and their unions has been disastrous. Now, a report by International Committee on Labour Rights has produced a damning critique of Maruti management’s anti-labour approach. To begin with, Maruti should act in a manner that behooves of an enlightened and accountable corporate entity in the country. Once it demonstrates a model of leadership through its own actions, the youth of India can learn from that?

Best wishes, and sincerely

Rajesh Tandon