Search Results for: sikkim state lottery 20 01 2014

Selling Liquor in a Gandhian State is an Anomaly

Gandhi, the father of our nation, was strongly against the selling and drinking of liquors. He used to say, it is criminal to spend the income from the sale of intoxicants on the education of the nation’s children or other public services. The government must overcome the temptation of using such revenue for nation-building purposes.

India has come a long way ahead of the state of 1930s or 40s. The poverty level and situation have changed. In 30s, people in the state of unemployment and poverty used to spend their spare time in drinking, even if they had no money. The result was families destroyed due to head of the family being indulged in drinking habit. Violence caused by drinking problem was a common thing at that time. That’s why; Mr. Gandhi had to address the nation about drinking practice.

As Gandhi should be our ideal and our nation should reflect to follow his principles. After independence India should had to abolish the selling of liquor. But no, India is still generating revenues from liquor. Now, the thing is whether drinking liquor is actually bad habit or it was the situation which demands Mr. Gandhi to be against liquor.

According to the NIAAA – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it concluded, after much scientific reviews that moderate drinkers do have lowest death rate compare to heavy drinkers and some fellows who don’t drink. In another word, if you take liquor as a drug and take in a controlled fashion; it is good for your health and longevity. So, being strictly against the liquor or drinking habit is quick or biased judgement. Excess of anything is not good. So is the case with liquor too.

Human beings have a general tendency or affinity for intoxication. The form may be different but everyone loves to do it. When someone gets bored of their hard social life, they turn to things which can let them forget everything for some time. Either it is in the form of drinking, gaming, chatting, swimming or playing badminton after work. The motto is only one, to forget everything for some moment. It just depends on them which form attracts them. But, in the present world everyone is trying to get refreshed by one of such forms.

One may say that there are people who turn violent after drinking. But, overdose of every drugs have side-effects. Even overdose of sleeping pills. But then again, to avoid such cases there should be strict guidelines for over drinking. Also, a lot of accidents occur every year due to an alcoholic driver. Nevertheless, still it’s a case of over drinking.

Therefore, stopping the sale of liquor is not a solution. It is true that we live in a Gandhian state. But, it does not mean we should stop applying things which were true in his period. Selling liquor in a Gandhian state is not an anomaly at all.

Should FDI be Allowed in Higher Education

 

The ‘India Vision 2020′ envisages the transformation of India into a knowledge superpower. To achieve this vision, the higher education sector has to play a key role. At present India is producing highest number of doctors and engineers every year. But, if one considers the quality and quantity of higher education in India. It is worse. In US and UK, percentage of enrolment in higher education is 82.4 and 60.1 respectively. In India, despite recent increment due to private players, current enrolment is merely 12 %. Even South East Asian countries have higher enrolment rate like 31% in Philippines, 27% in Malaysia, 19% in Thailand and 13% in China. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), public spending on higher education in India is merely US $400 per students. If we consider public spending of US on higher education, it is $9629. It may be argued that the spending of India could not be compared with that of US. However, even other developing nations like Brazil, China or Russia have much higher public expenditure per student, in excess of $1000.

India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States. The main governing body at the tertiary level is the University Grants Commission (India), which enforces its standards, advises the government, and helps coordinate between the centre and the state. As of 2009, India has 20 central universities, 215 state universities, 100 deemed universities, 5 institutions established and functioning under the State Act, and 13 institutes which are of national importance. Most of these institutions are public funded. Some of these institutions have been globally acclaimed. However, India has failed to produce world class universities like Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge or MIT.

The state of higher education is very bad in India. The education system in India is often criticised for being Rote Learning, rather than problem solving. The status of teaching in most of the public run colleges in India is ill. If we see the situation of colleges in metros and cities, it may come under average level. But, the situation of colleges in small cities is very bad. The main aim for the students here is to get certificate. Corruption and negligence could be easily found in the examination conducted by these colleges. Some private universities have started operations in India. But, most of them are not giving the quality, they are for money making. In the recent years, many of the new private institutions have opened in India. But, most of them are for engineering and B-schools. The scenario is this that India is producing almost 750,000 engineers and 100,000 MBA graduates every year. But, if we see the skill in this army of graduates only 20-30% of them are doing the particular course due to interest or skill. Rest of them are there just because it is going to give them good jobs.

India in the process of becoming a developed nation needs to be technologically independent. Right now, India is dependent on other nations for technology. We are not spending a lot on Research and Development. In fact, if we see the track record in many sectors we are dependent on technology imports. Like India is the largest importer in the world for defence equipment. For the current 3G mobile technology, India is looking towards China and US for imports of machinery. India needs to spend a lot on research work. But, the atmosphere here is not research oriented. Even, in IITs, many professors find it hard to get funds sanctioned for researches.

Every year nearly 0.4 million Indians go abroad for higher studies spending approximately $ 12bn. This leads to not only loss of foreign exchange, but also ‘Brain Drain’, as most of these rarely comes back to India after completing their courses. The primary reason for a large number of students seeking professional education abroad is lack of capacity in Indian Institution. There is no doubt that the situation in public universities in India is not so good. Also, with increasing enrollment in higher education, it is not possible for the government to provide higher education on its own. But, the private institutions are themselves sick. Many don’t have experience and many are trying to just gain money without quality. Foreign investment in this field will not only check brain drain, it will also help to balance the demand supply ratio. It will develop competitiveness among private universities to deliver better quality. It will also generate employment and result in inflow of money instead of outflow. Further, the infrastructure will improve. There will be better scope for research as foreign university have different methodology to run and generate revenues. They are more research based universities. Plus India may move towards practical study based learning rather than rote learning. Other than that, India could develop itself as a provider of higher education for developing nations.

At present India is allowing 100% FDI in higher education through automatic sector. But, still no university have established a campus here, due to a large no. of guidelines and regulation. Also, many rules are unclear. Indian government is trying to pass a bill, The Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, in the parliament to directly allow 100% FDI in higher education. Right now 106 institutions are running programmes in India with collaboration with foreign universities. But, only 2 out of 106 are approved by AICTE. Indian government does not allow foreign universities to award any separate degree. It could only provide dual degree with collaboration with local institutions. Currently, many degrees given by these foreign universities are not even recognized in their own countries. Most of the universities which have tie ups with local institutions are small private universities in their own countries. If The Foreign Educational Institutional Bill will be passed, it will not only allow foreign universities to set-up campuses and award degrees in India, but simultaneous facilitate Indian government regulation of their operations.

The purpose of the bill is to regulate entry, operation and quality of education by the foreign universities. The bill will allow them to earn the status of Deemed University, which in turn will make them come under the domain of University grant commission (UGC). The foreign university then have to invest at least 51% of the total expenditure for such establishments. There will be large amount of money allocated only for the development of higher education. Plus scientific research will not be in the stage of shortage of money.

Features of the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill:

  • No foreign institution can provide degree to Indian student unless such institution is confirmed as Foreign Educational Provider by Indian Government
  • At least twenty years of establishment in its own country
  • Have to maintain a fund of at least 500 million rupees
  • Quality of education, curriculum, method of imparting and the faculty employed will be in accordance to guidelines of UGC
  • At max 70% of the income raised from the fund can be utilized in the development of institution in India and rest should be added to the fund. No part could be used in any other purpose other than growth and development of the institution established by it in India
  • Institution has to publish prospectus writing clearly about fee structure, refund norms and amount, number of seats, condition of eligibility with min and max age, detail of faculty, process of admission, min pay payable to each category of teachers and staff, infrastructure and other facilities, syllabus, rules and regulations, etc. at least sixty day prior to date of commencement of admission
  • In case of violation of any guidelines a penalty of min 10 million and max 50 million rupees along with tuition fees should be refunded to the student
  • Any foreign institution not confirmed by Indian government as Foreign Education Provider which is awarding any certificate to Indian students should submit a report regarding course to the commission

The academics, educationists and politicians are sharply divided on whether this will be a good move for India or not. As till now the experience with the foreign universities is not so good. Foreign investors in higher education have so far brought just commercial products, and may be in the future too, will bring copyrighted courses and workshops modules in order to make money. There courses will be less in accordance with the need of the Indian students or requirements of Indian science and research. Also, questions are raised about the Intellectual Property Rights, who will own the IPR? How the benefits of any research will be shared? Also, India should choose the area in which investments be invited. We should invite investments in the field where we have something to learn, where we need to build ourselves not necessarily where we are leaders ourselves. For instance, India is already doing top class research on stem cells and could collaborate with other top class institutions, but not necessarily invite FDI in this field.

Right now India discriminates its students on the basis of caste. A student’s scholarship mainly depends on his/her caste. Foreign institutions will find it hard to get inferior quality on the basis of caste. A scholarship program for economically backward students could be facilitated, but caste will be problematic for them.

The main concerns with the Bill are as follows:

  • The bill envisages regulation of fees to tackle commercialization of education which will definitely deter entry of quality foreign universities, reared in an environment where commercial success and good service quality go hand in hand.
  • It provides for government monitoring on admissions criteria which again might deter entry by high quality foreign universities which believe in using their own set of criteria.

A clear cut government regulatory policy which balances the need for freedom of foreign education providers with national interest is necessary. In other words, the accent should be on optimal regulation and the avoidance of over or under regulation. Also, Indian universities either public or private should be improved in order to compete on the same level with foreign giants.

If we see the approach of Indian government at present is to gain good quality education environment by suppressing profit motives. But, actually the correct approach should be attainment of high quality with, in accordance, profit motives. If India wants to attract world class universities in India it should have to give some liberty to foreign universities too. It should not look like exploitation of foreign university just for the sake of our profit. We should use profit as a channel to raise the quality of education.

We could take example of Singapore in the matter of framing the policy for foreign investment in scientific research. Singapore allows only world-class institutions to enter, and that only when they bring their own money. For instance the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a leading technical institution in the US, has collaboration with the National University of Singapore. From Australia, a country with which it other-wise has close contacts on several fronts, it is only the University of New South Wales, considered a premier institution, which was permitted to establish a campus solely on the basis of its own investments. As a result of its policies on foreign investment in education, Singapore has successfully achieved two goals, one to make itself an educational destination for neighbors in Asia who can now go to world-class institutions in Singapore rather than go to Australia or the US; and two, to bring in top-quality programs and skills to upgrade their own research.

If we look at the problem India is facing in development of higher education, one may say that FDI are being allowed just because we don’t have enough money to spend on this area. But, the problems are others too which FDI will focus. FDI in higher education will solve the problem of enrollment rate as we are in a situation of less supply high demand. Indian money and talent going abroad will come in check. India will become educational hub for at least neighboring countries. Infrastructure will improve. Some new methods and technology will be used in teaching. Also, it might happen that India may develop one of its own world class universities. Lastly, India needs to fill the technological lag as fast as it can to compete with China.

There are a lot of fears regarding the future of FDI investment in higher education. But, all in all on larger scale, it is going to benefit India. With better guidelines and rules, we can overcome the minute problems we assume may arise. But, in no way FDI in higher education should be discouraged. Foreign Direct investments should be allowed in India.

Welcome Back, Socialism

World have seen a lot of global recessions. Two of the famous one is The Great Depression of 1929 and the other one is recent 2007-09. Both have shown a large impact on world economy. But, in each of these recessions, there was a nation which has shown no effects of depression. In 1929 depression, that nation was USSR. In the recent one, the nation was People’s Republic of China. A very common thing among both of them is both of them were following Centrally Planned Economy. Also, both of them were socialist nation.

Socialism is an economic and political theory advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources. The model of economy followed by USSR was creation of centrally planned economies directed by a state that owns all the means of production, aka Marxist-Leninists. China follows Socialist Market Economy with Chinese characteristics. It is a mixture of socialist planning with a market economy (capitalist).

World had already seen the power of USSR as a strong economic power. Till 1970, it was a developed nation with a very high growth rate. China on the contrary followed the same centrally planned economy till 1978, which USSR used to follow. After the death of Mao Zedong, China began to reform the economy. It started to move towards a market oriented mixed economy. It started privatizing land. Later, aiming at foreign investments, it created Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in various cities of China. State owned enterprises were restructured with western style management.

Since, Economic liberalisation of 1978, China’s economy has grown 90 times. Right now, it is the fastest growing economy of the world. The Chinese economy surpassed UK as the fourth largest economy in 2005, replaced Germany from third place in 2007 and finally in 2010 overtook Japan to become second largest economy. Today, about 10% of the Chinese population (down from 64% in 1978) live below the poverty line.

Socialist market economy (Chinese) is often criticised for being capitalist form of economy. But, this Chinese model is still a form of socialist economy. Even though, state run industries are privatised in China. The Chinese government still guides overall national economic development through “indicative planning”.

For China, the road for being Numero Uno is still long ahead. Currently, GDP of China is estimated to be $5.4 trillion, while, estimation for GDP of US is $14.8 trillion. Almost, three times. With the current growth rate of China speculations are that it could surpass US in at least 20 years. But, from where we see China walking, we must say in a very short duration, they have come a long way. Once again a socialist nation is proving the world, that socialist form of economy is a very powerful and practical economy.

With China in this different world, we must welcome socialism too. Welcome back, Socialism.

Let us Legalize Gambling

Las Vegas, Macau, Atlantic City, Bahamas, Monte-Carlo, Sun City, whenever we hear names of these cities, the first thing that comes into our mind is the famous night life of these cities, which includes gambling. It is gambling which makes these cities special worldwide. There is a very popular slogan “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Tells us why Vegas is on top of other gambling spots. From these spots, governments are earning a lot of taxes. Also, tourists are attracted towards these places.

In India, gambling is strictly prohibited. Only two states allow gambling, Goa and Sikkim. There is one casino in Sikkim and 12 in Goa. Apart from these, illegal gambling is going on throughout the country. Other than lotteries, legal gambling in India is limited to betting on horse racing. Indian gambling market is estimated to be around USD 60 billion per year, out of which half comes from illegal betting.

Questions are always raised, why betting in India is not legalized. US, UK, Australia, France, and South Africa, all of these nations have legalized and regulated gambling. In China, gambling is not allowed. But, they have made Macau, a special administrative region, along with Hong Kong. Macau in the present time is the hottest destination for Gambling. These nations are regulating gambling and on an average earning 1% of their GDP by betting. By that India could earn almost 620 billion INR.

Whenever someone asks what is wrong in legalizing gambling, the answer always moves around these stories, gambling away a family’s savings reducing it to penury. As impressive this argument sounds, the truth is this argument is for unchecked gambling. If the sector is legalized, at least these cases could be minimised by regulations. The main reason why India is not legalizing gambling, comes from the fact that those illegal gambling which is going on behind the scene will be stopped. Then they have to pay taxes to the government for betting. A large amount of black money would have to be shown on paper. Also, as the gambling will be legal, there will be no one who would go to gamble in illegal places. The power of those circles is stopping the government to legalize gambling.

With this large amount of black money moving underground, with criminal minded people involved. Some serious risk is involved like large part of it may be finding its way to terrorists or drug mafia. At least the chain will be in full check after legalization. Remember, when finance ministry advised banks to ask the customer to fill PAN number on the deposit form for amounts greater than INR 50,000, what was the consequence. Also, how VAT tax code has stopped the irregularities in retail business. The same could be expected with gambling sector.

No one could deny that prohibition stops from using prohibited thing. Sometimes we see bigger and bitter consequences. Like death of a lot of people in Gujarat by low quality alcohol. It makes sense to take betting and gambling out of the illegal nooks and crannies in the underground and make it a legitimate, regulated tax-paying business.