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Differences down under: India & Australia

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By Kushagra Bhatnagar

The article is about the experiences of an Indian who moved to Australia. The differences he witnessed in the functioning style of both the countries’ governments and societies.

Australia: I migrated to Australia in 2008. Since then I have been observing the Australian way of life rather minutely in comparison with the Indian way. There are stark differences between the two societies, and we all know most of them. Each one of us has their own way of explaining away the differences especially when the Indian side appears to be weaker, which it is in many cases.

However, I am not going to discuss the most commonly known real as well as the perceived differences. I am taking up the difference in the way the governments of the two countries handle regulations. The glaring difference exists in the fact that many businesses in India are completely unregulated while those same businesses in Australia (and I suspect in most of the developed world as well) are strongly regulated. Let us study a few of them one by one.

It is no discovery that two of the most unregulated breeds in India are commercial drivers and builders/developers. The commercial drivers whether for taxis, auto-rickshaws, trucks or buses are hardly under any kind of regulations. With total impunity, they feel free to cheat customers, behave rudely with them, violate traffic rules, not to speak of occasional rape of some hapless woman. No government has so far been able to rein in these people. Why? Because this crowd forms a strong vote bank.

Any effort to control their conduct is perceived to be politically unwise. This may or may not be true because no one has tried it. This needs no passing of bills in parliament; this needs no presidential ordinance; this just needs those in power to enforce the law with a stern hand.

Now we have some muddled minded rulers in India who had issued the dictum that the taxi/auto-rickshaw drivers are free to do what suits them. The police cannot book them for refusing a fare, for misbehaving with a customer, overcharging and even for drunken driving. Anyone residing in the national capital Delhi would vouch for the misery commuters have to suffer at the hands of the misbehaving lot of taxi/auto-rickshaw drivers. So in effect, the only law for this lot is that there is no law.

In sharp contrast in Australia, all the commercial drivers are strongly regulated. While an ordinary citizen has the chance of getting away lightly for traffic offenses, the commercial drivers have zero chance. One error and he loses his license, making him unemployable as a driver. I know for sure that even in Dubai and Turkey the commercial drivers are subject to tight discipline. Even the slightest over speeding will have the driver’s license taken away for a few years. Second offense and he loses his license for life.

Likewise, the builders/developers in India also enjoy the luxury of working in a regulation-free environment. Name any aspect of bad, irrational, unruly, unethical, customer unfriendly, outright cheating, fraudulent business conduct and you will find this lot is guilty of it.

They enjoy complete, unrestricted freedom of whatever business practice each one of them wishes to employ. Why? We cannot explain this nonsense by trying to link this with the politician’s’ fear of losing an election. This lot does not exist in numbers that are large enough to become a vote bank. So why the inexplicable liberty? Possibly the black money. We all know that property market is the largest creator of black money. It creates black money and it also consumes black money.

A great proportion of parallel economy thrives in the property market. Who are the people with enormous amounts of unaccounted money? Of course, the politicians. Hence, it stands to reason that they have a huge stake in the property market. This is why irrespective of which party is in power or out of it, this lobby continues to make merry at the expense of the customers. If I as a politician invest billion rupees in property market, I will jolly well make absolutely sure that the people who handle the market remain protected at all times.

Again in sharp contrast the builders/developers are regulated with strong rules in Australia which do not permit any discretionary powers to the bureaucrats or politician which can be misused. We all know there is a thin, practically invisible line between discretion and discrimination.

(The article was first published at http://indiantimes.com.au/)

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Northeast is Fast Emerging as the new Start-up Destination, Says Minister Jitendra Singh

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship

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Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 16, 2017 : Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh claimed that the area was fast emerging as the new start-up destination for youngsters from all over India, an official statement on Monday.

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship and take advantage of its unexplored potential, he said, according to a DoNER Ministry statement.

Citing an example, he said in certain areas of Northeast, including states like Arunachal Pradesh, “while almost 40 per cent of the fruit goes waste on account of lack of adequate storage and transport facilities, the same can be used to produce and manufacture fresh and pure fruit juice at a much more cost-effective price”.

ALSO READ Over 4,000 km of roads, highways to be constructed in northeast

During an interaction with youngsters, Jitendra Singh also pointed out that many new airports coming up at Pakyong (Sikkim), Itanagar and Shillong, which along with a time-bound plan to lay broad-gauge rail track, would bring in further ease of doing business.

“Another sector of entrepreneurship which is fast emerging in Northeast is the medical and healthcare sector.

“For years, there has been a trend for patients to shift outside the region, mostly to Kolkata or Vellore, but the encouragement given to the private corporate sector has now resulted in the opening of new hospitals within the region itself and young entrepreneurs are taking the lead,” he said. (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.