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By Gaurav Sharma
Yesterday, India celebrated its 68th year of Independence. From tenderly treading baby steps in the nascent stages of nationhood to galloping briskly towards a greater stake in the global economy, the Indian journey has been a roller-coaster ride.
Monikers such Shining India and the Bright spot highlight the growing economic clout of the country and arouse global interest in India, both as a market and an investment hotspot.
What was once the tedious Hindu rate of growth of 1 per cent in the first three decades following a century of exploitative British colonization has now rocketed into a burgeoning 7 per cent growth trajectory. When the World Bank expects India to top its growth outlook charts for 2015-2016, with the economy growing steadily between 7.5-8.3 per cent, it further cements the India’s rise as an economic power.
How did we traverse the topsy-turvy journey, through the crest and the trough? How did we reach the current state of being?
After Independence, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (through the statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis) undertook a socialist reform of the country. Skeptical of his colonial experience, Nehru adopted a protectionist economic policy, under which development came largely under the ambit of the government. Central planning, regulation and import substitution emerged as the key features of the Five Year Plans based upon the Soviet model.
Nehru’s reply to industrialist JRD Tata, “Never talk to me of profit. It is a dirty word”, emboldens the denigrating and suspicious mindset of politicos towards the private sector prevailing during that time. Industries such as steel mining, insurance among a host of other industries were controlled and run by the public sector.
In 1965, the Green Revolution was ushered in, to facelift the agriculture sector. Use of high yield variety seeds (HYV) and genetically modified (GM) crops not only resulted in India achieving self-reliance in food security but also stealthily brought the problem of income disparity and institutional breakdown to the fore.
Although the Morarji Desai government of 1977 did ease restrictions on the economy by removing price controls and reduction of tax rate, by the end of the decade India was staring itself in the dark pit of external payment crisis. With the disintegration of Soviet Union and a sharp decline in oil prices, India’s balance of payments (BoP) had enlarged to dangerous proportions.
India was forced to borrow a heavy sum of Rs 28,000 crore from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the largest sum for any developing nation at the time.
In the 1980’s, the Indira Gandhi government was successful in stalling the prospective deterioration underlined in the loan conditions, by unleashing a slew of reform measures such as reducing import duties, delicensing industry and revamping the public sector. Transformation was on it way.
Then in 1991, a breakthrough was achieved by Narasimha Rao while working in tandem with the then finance minister Manmohan Singh. Public monopoly came to an end, interest rates and tariffs were reduced, license raj was quashed and the country was opened up to the world. Globalization, Privatization and Liberalization emerged as the motto of the new dispensation.
The new millennium (particularly the period 2003-2007), saw India touch a high 9 percent growth rate, with Goldman Sachs predicting India to become the third largest economy by 2025.
Despite donning the hat of the new global economic power, India’s fundamentals were tested during the 2008-09 recession. Although it managed to brace through the economic cyclone, in the aftermath of the disaster, India’s growth rate had tumbled down below 5 per cent.
High current account deficit, weak rupee and a sluggish manufacturing sector aggravated the situation. Furthermore, the tapering of quantitative easing in the US meant that foreign investment into the country ebbed. India’s global standing took a hit even as the ease-of-doing-business index ranked at an abysmal 142 out of 189 countries.
Fast track to today. And with the change in political power, things have started changing. With almost 15 years of developmental experience behind his back, Narendra Modi has promised a slew of reforms aimed at reviving India’s economic muscle.
Critical sectors of the economy have been opened-up to woo foreign investors and to revivify the ailing sectors. FDI in defense has been increased to 100 per cent and insurance FDI limit has spiked up from 26 to 49 per cent.
Not to get fixated with the idea of growth as the sole plank of development, Modi has also vied for social initiatives. This is in line with what Amartya Sen (a notable critic of Modi) believes economics to be; a value of freedom not limited to a utilitarian concept of wealth and income.
On his Independence Day speech, Modi continued with his hawkeye focus on development and boisterously claimed that his government had scaled down the complex labour laws into 4 simplified codes; safety, social security, wage and industrial relations. It will be interesting to see how the grand plan actualizes.
If Kisan Kalyana Yojana ends up as mere rechristening of the agriculture ministry rather than a new scheme, Modi’s credibility will surely take a hit. Dreaming of an entrepreneurial revolution and setting a target of three years for rural electrification plans are ambitious plans indeed. Still, in the midst of the precocious focus on development, the key area of electoral reforms has been left untouched.
This only shows how adept Modi is when it comes to towing the precarious line of economic reforms and social development–of leadership and populism–with much alacrity. If only as a photo-op, critical social issues have not been left sidelined.
Perhaps this how the neo-hindu statesman works. When, and if he walks the talk, can we expect a new neo-Hindu rate of growth?
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021