– August 1, 2014

Dear Colleagues

Here is another round of it for your perusal:

  1. The Synod (Governing Council) of  Church of England has finally voted to include female bishops amongst their fold. After years of maintaining status quo of male supremacy, the change of heart followed some tough talking  by the parliament of England to introduce a legislation to force such a reform.   Eliminating all forms of discrimination in all spheres of human activity is the sine qua non of a functioning democracy. In a similar vein, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all forms of religious decrees, or ‘fatwas’, are unconstitutional as they violate  the tenets of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution. Good news?
  2. A recent global study showed that  last year Indians were ‘duped’ for about Rs 5000 crores ($1 bn) through fake internet promises for windfall gains, called Advance Fees Fraud (AFF). Not only that Indians are thus more gullible to such internet-based fraud, the systems of cyber security continue to be very weak to hacking and other forms of espionage. Considering that India is viewed as a power-house of information technology competencies and companies, and people of India account for nearly one-third of all IT-related manpower in the companies of the silicon valley in USA, it is indeed truly callous for the government and people of India to allow this to continue. Look no further—most senior government officials and ministers continue to use ‘gmail’ accounts for official communication! Why blame American NSA  or Chinese?
  3. The new government in Delhi is taking a strong position with respect to global leadership. Some of it was reflected during the BRICS Summit in Brasil. The launch of New Development Bank by the BRICS Summit on July 15, 2014 was seen as an outcome of smart negotiations by the new Indian Prime Minister to secure the leadership of the Bank for a nominee of Government of India, even as its headquarters are in Shanghai (China). Despite aspirations to become ‘China-like economic power, it will be worthwhile for the new government in Delhi to remember that India continues to rank around 135 (out of 180+ countries ranked) on Human Development Index in 2014 as well.
  4. It has become trendy to talk about innovation and innovative solutions; conferences, projects, funding are all chasing innovations; if you do not use the language of innovation, you are labelled as traditionalist, conservative or out-dated. I sometimes wonder what drives such pursuit of innovations? As I look around,  I find that many things and ways of the world haven’t really changed – boys are falling in man-holes; men are getting electrocuted in monsoon from broken live wires; ‘ebola’ outbreak resembles plague of the previous era; might continues to be right (observe bombing of Gaza and annexation of Crimea); police participate  in crime;  and so on. What innovative solutions would solve these for ever?
  5. Typically, the annual budget of the national government gets more media attention than the Economic Survey preceding it. The new government in Delhi presented its first Economic Survey on July 9, 2014. It has many interesting formulations, deviating from the past. Two such formulations may have relevance towards better governance. One, the role of the government is to support market development and address market failures through regulation; it practically implies that citizens can do anything, unless restricted by the government. Second, the push for a continuous process of institutional reforms to make the institutions relevant, responsive and accountable. How can these formulations practiced on the ground?

All the best

Rajesh Tandon