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India’s growth can be inclusive and sustainable: World Bank

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

World Bank sees a great promise in NDA government’s three pronged development agenda. It feels that Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government’s strategy of promoting fast and durable economic growth; involving states as active development partners; and improving the delivery of social benefits and extending social safety to the elderly and the underprivileged, will accelerate inclusive and sustainable growth but reforms have to be stepped up.

World Bank report, India Development Update, April 2015, said that the Indian government has already started implementing reforms to improve the business environment; liberalize FDI; boost both public and private investment in infrastructure; quickly resolve corporate disputes; simplify taxation, and lower corporate taxes. The states are going to receive more resources and power while the implementation of GST will improve tax to GDP ratio.

The report said that the reforms of the government, coupled with favorable external environment like reduced oil prices, have led to growth acceleration, inflation decline and narrowing of current account deficit. However, it also cautioned about the negative impact that oil price rise or tightening of US monetary policy can have on the country.

The bank also said that new investments to the country are still dented due to the debt overhang in the corporate balance sheets, which has extended to the Public Sector Banks (PSB). Promotion of private investment to bridge the infrastructural deficit was also required.

The report offered some solutions too, like the need to increase manufacturing competitiveness significantly to carve a space among the world’s large exporters. It also talked of the need for infrastructural boost to bring India at par with the world’s manufacturing hubs, in addition to the competitive supply of labor, land, finance, and skills, as well as a friendly business environment.

The World Bank report also emphasized on the role of MGNREGS in the process of development in India.

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India will become High-Middle Income Country by 2047, says World Bank CEO

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on Saturday said she has no doubt that India will be a high-middle income country by 2047.

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World Bank CEO
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. IANS.

New Delhi, Nov 4: Lauding India’s increasing per capita income, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva on Saturday said she has no doubt that India will be a high-middle income country by 2047 when it completes its centenary year of independence.

“In the last three decades, India’s per capita income has quadrupled. I have no doubt India when it hits its century of independence in 2047, will be a high-middle income country,” Georgieva said while addressing India’s Business Reforms conference at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra here.

Georgieva praised India for its sudden jump of 30 ranks in 2017, the biggest leap ever, in the history of the ease of doing business.

World Bank CEO
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia.

“We are here to celebrate a very impressive achievement. In 15 years of the history of the ease of doing business, such a jump of 30-ranks in one year is very rare. In cricket, I understand that hitting a century is a big milestone.”

ALSO READ: Doing business in India is easier now!

She hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “high-level ownership” efforts and “championship of reforms” that led to achieve India such a ranking in ease of doing business.

Reminding Guru Nanak Dev’s preachings, the World Bank CEO said: “Today is also the anniversary of Guru Nanak which reminds me of his words that whatever seed is sown, the plant will grow thus.” (IANS)

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69 Years a Slave? Balochistan’s Struggle for Freedom : A Detailed Report

Baloch nationalists assert that theirs is a freedom struggle; they were occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and have been fighting since to free themselves.

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Balochistan
Baloch people address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Wikimedia
  • Even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, Balochistan refuses to associate itself as a part of the country
  • Pakistan’s military occupation of Balochistan began in 1948 before which the province had existed as an independent state
  • The insurgency in Balochistan traces its roots in ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion

Balochistan, August 31, 2017 : Located in the South West of Pakistan, the Balochistan province of Pakistan constitutes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s territory. However, even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, the people of the province refuse to associate themselves with Pakistan or its framework of a nation state. They believe they have been Balochis for over three thousand years, who have now been invaded.

“It is freedom struggle,” believes activist Naela Quadri Baloch like many other Baloch nationalists. According to her, Balochistan had been occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and “ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves”, she believes.

In 2016 during an interview with The Times of India, the women’s leader and activist Naela Quadri Baloch had asserted that Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiris but specifically in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its desire to control the Indus river system. Similarly, it is also not interested in the Balochis, but the land of the state for its strategic location and mineral reserves.

Baloch nationalists assert that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on loans from the IMF, World Bank and the Western countries that are allegedly taken on the pretext of Balochistan’s rich mineral resources. They further claim that Pakistan’s strategic importance is also due to Balochistan coast. Pakistan would not be able to survive, which is why it does not want Balochistan to emerge as an independent state.

Balochistan
Balochistan comprises of about 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory. Wikimedia

While the world views it as an insurgency movement, Balochis address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

They maintain that Balochistan was never a part of India or Pakistan and it had always been an independent country.

Balochistan At The Time Of Partition

Balochistan comprises of four erstwhile princely states – Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran, that had been unified by Naseer Khan, the Khan of Kalat.

During the British rule, the province was divided into British Balochistan (25 per cent) and Native Balochistan, occupying 75 per cent of the total territory with people pledging adherence to Naseer Khan.

Immediately following partition and the creation of Pakistan, Khan’s descendant, Mir Ahmed Yaar Khan was faced with three options – independence, or accession to either India or Pakistan. He decided upon independence, following which a communiqué was released on August 11, 1947 giving independent sovereign status to Kalat.

However, by October 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat did not agree to the accession which was followed by a standstill between the two leaders upon the status of present-day Balochistan.

Becoming A Part Of Pakistan

By April 1948, the Pakistan army moved into the province and captured Kalat. The Khans’ attempts of an armed campaign against the Pakistan army went futile and the province was merged with Pakistan by June 1948.

At the center of Balochistan’s forced accession was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had previously been hired by the Khans for his legal services to negotiate Kalat’s independent status with the Britishers.

Before partition, Jinnah had successfully mooted an ‘Independent Status’ of Kalat for which he was graciously awarded with gold. But, Balochistan breathed as a free country only from August 1947 to March 1948, after which Jinnah breached trust and betrayed the Khan, forcing the Pakistani invasion and eventual accession of Kalat.

ALSO READ Violence surges yet again in Balochistan

Surprisingly, during the struggle and annexation of present-day Balochistan, the Indian Congressmen, Mahatma Gandhi or the then-Governor General Lord Mountbatten made no attempts to hinder in the remonstration. This indifference can be attributed to the Indian leaders’ failure to realize the strategic implication of a sovereign Balochistan at the time.

A Growing Ethnic Nationalism

Following the formation of Pakistan, distorted power relations existed among different Muslim ethnicities. Additionally, unchallenged power was exercised by Punjabis who comprised of about 56 per cent population of the state.

In 1954, the One Unit scheme was launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four existing provinces of West Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkawa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab) to form a homogeneous, united political entity in an attempt to,

  • Forge national unity on basis of Islam and geography
  • Reduce gross expenditure
  • Help eliminate ethnic prejudices.

The move triggered violence throughout the country and especially in Balochistan, wherein this was interpreted as a strategy to establish Punjabi domination.

Balochistan rose against the move, which came to an end in 1970 with the overthrow of the One Unit scheme.

However, following the rebellion, a strong sense of nationalism, propounding larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan broke a full-fledged insurgency from 1973 to 1977; over 80,000 personnel were deployed to quell the rebellion.    

Armed struggle to achieve separation from Pakistan lasted throughout the 1970s, in which 3,300 army personnel and 5,300 Balochis were killed. However, the Pakistani government successfully compressed the movement.

Economic Alienation

Baloch nationalists have repeatedly argued that they are yet to receive any benefit from the development projects that have been initiated by the government in Balochistan.

  1. Reportedly, the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan caters to most urban households in the country. Despite producing about 45 per cent of gas for Pakistan, the province gets to consume a mere 17 per cent. Additionally, the Balochis get a nominal amount of Pakistani Rupees 6 for a 24-hour supply.
  2. The Pakistani government, in collaboration with China, initiated the development of the Gwadar port in the province, with an aim to better trade ties with Asia, Europe, and US. However, a large number of Punjabis and non-Baloch people were hired for the project, leaving an increasing population of Baloch engineers and technicians unemployed.
  3. Balochistan has one of the world’s richest reserves of copper and gold. However, as much as 16 kgs of gold is seized everyday by the Chinese under an arrangement with the government, which robs the Balochis of major economic benefits.
  4. Despite being one of the country’s key providing areas,
    • 80 per cent population of Balochistan continue to live in the absence of safe drinking water
    • 80 per cent people do not have access to electricity
    • 70 per cent children have never been to school
    • 63 per cent of Balochis live below the poverty line

While ethnic nationalist interests continue to worry Balochistan, a primary demand has also been about better control over the economic resources of the region.

However, the Pakistani government blames the nationalist struggle in the region for impeding the developmental process.

Political Subjugation By Islamabad

Balochistan makes up nearly 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory but the Balochs comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, making them a minority in Pakistan.

Their representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan is also negligible (17 out of 342) which reveals that the Balochis have lost their say in policy formulations and are forced to adhere to laws that have been put in place for them by power honchos sitting in Islamabad.

Additionally, the Pakistan government centered in Islamabad has eradicated most of the Baloch activists and nationalists, calling them ‘foreign agents against the state’. This can be supplemented with the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was an ex chief minister of Balochistan.

ALSO READ Akbar Bugti: Remembering the Balochistan Hero on his 11th Martyrdom Anniversary

Pakistan And Its inherent Demand of Balochistan

Ever since the creation of Pakistan, it has been evident that the Pakistan government is more concerned with occupying the physical territory of Balochistan, with meager interest in its indigenous population.

The Pakistan army, on command of the government has employed every possible armory against its own people of Balochistan, in an attempt to contain the province within its seizure. Furthermore, army cantonments have been established at Dera, Gwadar, Bugti and Kohlu to gauge activity and movement of the Baloch people.

Additionally, despite occupying 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory, the budget allocated to Balochistan is minuscule in comparison to its vast landmass.

In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf had striked a deal with China over the Gwadar port development as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch people condemned the allocation of land to the rich businessmen of Punjab and Karachi and further lamented the unemployment stemming from the project. The move also instigated further violence in the region.

Balochistan
Gwadar port in Balochistan. Wikimedia

As of now, according to report, all 22 districts of Balochistan continue to suffer at the hands of the enduring insurgency with the tally of displaced people now crossing over 2 lacs.

In more recent times, the Pakistan army took aid of suicide bombers to tackle the ongoing insurgency. On August 8, 2017, as many as 54 lawyers became victims of a suicide attack, which is being touted as a State-funded action as the group included several Baloch activists who had been vocal about Pakistan army’s interference in state affairs.

ALSO READ Balochistan Suicide Bombing: Provincial Government Falsely blames India for the Attack

According to a report published in Dawn,prince of the now redundant Kalat state, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch who is now the  Baloch Rabita Ittefaq Tehreek chief,  had said that Balochis are not looking to wage wars. Until now, Balochis have not once attacked Pakistan, but only defended themselves.

He said the objective of their protests has been to draw the government’s attention. However, regretfully, no one is paying any heed to their cries.

Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar had rightly quoted in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly that the “ethnic difference remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics.”

The Balochistan insurgency thus, traces its roots in a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion. This animosity among the country will continue unless Pakistan accepts its non-Muslim history.


 

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Indus Water Treaty: Is the Agreement leading to War between India-Pakistan or is it a Possible Resolution?

Indus water treaty is said to be one of the world's most generous water-sharing treaty

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Indus Water Treaty
Indus River. Wikimedia

New Delhi, August 04, 2017: Indus Water Treaty has recently gone through major developments, as a long pending project proposed by India has resurfaced and gained a lot of buzz in the media. While the media proclaimed that World Bank had allowed India to build Kishanganga and Ratle power plants on the western river. In an official clarification statement by the “World Bank”, they have denied any confirmation on the Indian power plants being permitted to set up on Jhelum and Chenab river, they further added that the parties have agreed to continue discussions and reconvene in September in Washington, D.C.

While the media proclaimed that World Bank had allowed India to build Kishanganga and Ratle power plants on the western river. In an official clarification statement by the “World Bank”, they have denied any confirmation on the Indian power plants being permitted to set up on Jhelum and Chenab river, they further added that the parties have agreed to continue discussions and reconvene in September in Washington, D.C.

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What Is Indus Water Treaty?

The Indus Water Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.

According to this agreement, control over the three “eastern” rivers — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej — was given to India, while control over the three “western” rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum — to Pakistan. More controversial, however, were the provisions on how the waters were to be shared. Since Pakistan’s rivers flow through India first, the treaty allowed India to use them for irrigation, transport and power generation, while laying down precise regulations for Indian building projects along the way. The treaty was a result of Pakistani fear that, since the source rivers of the Indus basin were in India, it could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan, especially at times of war.

Since the ratification of the treaty in 1960, India and Pakistan have not engaged in any water wars. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty.

Why Is It Still a Reason of Discord?

Indus water treaty is said to be one of the world’s most generous water-sharing treaty, in terms of higher sharing ratio and the total volume of basin waters for the downstream state (Pakistan gets 90 times greater volume of water than Mexico’s share under a 1944 pact with the U.S.).

Today, it remains the only inter-country water agreement in the world embodying the doctrine of restricted sovereignty, which seeks to compel an upriver state to defer to the interests of a downstream state. Treaty curbs, for example, obviate any Indian control over the timing or quantum of the Pakistan-earmarked rivers’ trans-boundary flows.

Pakistan’s obstructionist tactics are a testament to how water remains a source of discord for Pakistan despite a treaty that is one of the most successful water-sharing pacts in the world. Run of the river project was a major example that displayed the India-Pakistan rocky relations, by aiming to deny J&K the limited benefits permissible under the treaty, Pakistan wanted to further its strategy to foment discontent and violence there.

While the decision to approve this project was pending, Pakistan used the situation to spread violence in India, even though soon after India blamed Pakistan for the Uri attacks, the Prime Minister of India approved the project followed by that was his statement – “blood and water cannot flow together”. His remarks were seemingly two fold and the terrorism had to end but India could have fully utilized the economic potential available to it within the treaty.

ALSO READ: Trump’s Border Wall Could Trouble Waters With Mexico

Kishanganga and Ratle Power Plant Project:

While India had proposed this project much earlier in 2010, Pakistan standing true to their fanatical nature projected international arbitration over the proceedings of a small scale 330-megawatt plant in a small tributary of Indus river called Kishanganga. It persuaded the arbitral tribunal in 2011 to order India to suspend work on the project. With Indian work suspended, Pakistan ramped up construction of its own three-times-larger, Chinese-aided hydropower plant on the same river so as to take a priority right on river-water use.

While India requested the appointment of a neutral expert in this matter and contending Pakistan’s “technical” concerns. The World Bank’s role in relation to “differences” and “disputes” is limited to the designation of people to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties, the fact sheet said.

Earlier, in a letter dated July 25, the World Bank had assured Indian Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna its “continued neutrality and impartiality in helping the parties to find an amicable way forward.”

The issue still remains unresolved as the World Bank mediators in a fact sheet have raised concerns from both the parties involved and “in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation”, the parties have agreed to continue discussions and reconvene in September in Washington DC.

Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.

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