Month: October 2016

Economic diplomacy and development partnerships: Rethinking India’s role and relevance

Samir Saran  and Urvashi Aneja, ORF Website, Oct 28, 2016

Original link is here

There are two prisms through which India’s role as a provider of global public goods and as a contributor to the evolving global growth and development agenda can be assessed. The first is a continuum starting from the independence of the erstwhile colonies, the Bandung conference and the Non Aligned Movement, to a more recent focus on south–south cooperation. This continuum is located within the narrative of solidarity, justice, economic reparations, development rights, and more recently, around the texture of assistance forthcoming from the emerging economies willing to share their growing available surpluses with their G–77 compatriots. India and its development sector analysts have, for the most part, framed its development partnerships through this prism. The recent BIMSTEC–BRICS meet in Goa, followed this course.

The second view of India’s role could be understood through the phenomenon of ’emergence’, one that breaks away from the above continuum and instead positions India (and some other nations) at a juncture where, beyond solidarity and rights, it is the responsibility of being a global power (and attendant benefits that flow from being one) that compels a certain development partnership agenda. In this view, India has new opportunities that necessitate new responsibilities driven by its expanding global interests, both of which shape the country’s development partnership initiatives. This assessment replaces romanticism with realism and is less frequently voiced for this very reason. India must be careful that this hesitation does not reduce the scope and ambition of its development partnership agenda to one limited to the vocabulary of south–south cooperation.

India has new opportunities that necessitate new responsibilities driven by its expanding global interests, both of which shape the country’s development partnership initiatives. This assessment replaces romanticism with realism and is less frequently voiced for this very reason.

This is not to suggest that south–south cooperation is not important and has not influenced contemporary conversations on development and growth. It certainly has redefined ‘aid’ by introducing new financial and technical ethics and cemented the concepts of ‘partnership’ and ‘national ownership’ as normative benchmarks. Even more importantly, new southern partnerships for development finance and international economic support have shaken up the institutions of the OECD from their ambivalent slumber characterised by a prescriptive development policy agenda and conditional financing. It has made the traditional donors more reflective and considerate in their economic engagements.

But, taken too far, the south–south cooperation framework can reduce the role and ambition of a country like India in global development to a mere extension or function of southern solidarity, one proscribed by the limits to south–south cooperation reflected in its description; one by the ‘south’ for the ‘south’. The global south must be the core constituency and ethical mooring of India’s development partnerships but not its ambition or the philosophical anchor of its economic diplomacy responsibility.

Taken too far, the south–south cooperation framework can reduce the role and ambition of a country like India in global development to a mere extension or function of southern solidarity.

It is too limited a world view for a country of 1.3 billion people that has set itself a goal of becoming a USD 8 trillion dollar economy in the next decade and half. It is inevitably poised to become a net provider of global public goods. It is perhaps destined to inherit the task of managing global institutions that exist and building new institutions that this century will demand. These likely eventualities must steer policy formulation and implementation of India’s economic diplomacy objectives, even as it indulges in the grammar of historic solidarity.

India’s role for itself must be redefined through the prism of its ’emergence’, as an actor with agency already far above its economic weight, and likely to increase significantly over time. This is due to a number of factors. First, the largest incremental capital for global development and infrastructure beyond what exists today will be contributed by India, its institutions and corporations in the next fifteen years or so. Even if this incremental capital only comprises a modest proportion of the total development finance pie, the fact that India will make the largest new contribution will augment its global agenda–setting power in the age of climate change and renewed commitment to sustainable development. In absolute terms as well, back–of–the–envelope calculations suggest that the current $2.35 billion earmarked for overseas grants, concessional loans, and technical training will rise to approximately $10 billion by 2030 if deployment follows GDP growth. To put this in perspective, the UK Department for International Development’s (DfID) annual budget for 2015–16 is $12 billion, a figure likely to come under stress in the days ahead. Other agencies like the German GIZ will also at best be able to maintain their level of contributions.

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Second, beyond the numbers, India may also have a new path to offer, a new development narrative to share. In all likelihood it will be the first country to move from low–income existence to a mid–income economy in a fossil fuel constrained and climate aware world. It will have to make this transition discarding the key economic choices and policy assumptions that aided Europe and America, Japan and China. Cheap labour, bulk manufacturing, cheap energy, exploitative economic policies with scant regards for human rights and even perhaps the liberal and open trade regimes that have defined the past decades of growth. The India story, if and when mature, will resemble none; it could be a unique and contemporary blueprint for other developing countries attempting similar transitions. While it is impossible to predict the details of India’s transition, some aspects can be anticipated. The economic change will ride on frugal innovation helping a frugal service economy. It will be buttressed by the capacity to at the same time offer high–quality low–cost services to domestic and global markets. It would have also created a new framework to provide skilling, education, employment and security to not only the half a billion population added in the past three decades, but also to the burgeoning senior citizenry growing each year.

The India story, if and when mature, will resemble none; it could be a unique and contemporary blueprint for other developing countries attempting similar transitions.

And finally, India may also lead the way in crafting a new trade architecture in South Asia and with partners in the developing and emerging world. The current global trade regime is under strain as restrictive agreements amongst the OECD countries and some others are undermining the WTO, and the benefits to developing countries are dwindling. The current trading system is also based on an incomplete globalisation. It is biased towards the movement of capital and goods, but much less towards the movement of services and peoples. For developing countries compelled to respond to 21st century challenges through the acceleration of a service economy, this partial globalisation poses clear challenges. For India, its South Asian neighbours, Africa and some others herein lies an opportunity to re–craft their trading arrangements to support their 21st century development trajectories.

Looking through an emergence prism, India’s development partnerships and economic diplomacy must be built around three concentric circles of interest and influence. The first must encompass India’s immediate neighbourhood and the big powers; the second, would cover its extended neighbourhood extending across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral with some localities important for what they offer; and the third may include some distant geographies, all global commons and vital global issues and institutions to manage them. Development partnerships and economic diplomacy in each should be driven by a specific set of interests, capabilities and priorities.

Development partnerships built around these three concentric circles will allow India to build direction, specificity, and flexibility into its initiatives; to create a differentiated approach across various geographies; to build alliances and institutions that cut across the north and south; to find a balance between its immediate economic and strategic interests and its global responsibilities; and to manage and respond to the complex and multifarious requirements of a global development provider.

To be clear though, to argue for an emergence prism over a south–south narrative does not imply that India’s economic diplomacy should reject the importance of communities and collective norms for a singularly realpolitik logic; on the contrary, sustaining the role of a leading development provider will require India to be a normative power more than ever before and build communities, create opportunities and discover growth across the binary North–South and East–West divides. As a leading power it must cross this bridge first.

 

जलवायु के जंजाल से कोयले को अभी मुक्त् रखने की जरूरत

Samir Saran|Vivan Sharma

जलवायु परिवर्तन रोकने की आड़ में रचा जा रहा है’कोयला पाखंड’

पेरिस जलवायु शिखर सम्मेलन से पहले भारत ने जलवायु परिवर्तन को धीमा करने और इसे अनुकूल बनाने के उद्देश्‍य से 2 अक्‍टूबर को राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर निर्धारित अपने अभीष्‍ट योगदान (आईएनडीसी) की बाकायदा घोषणा कर दी। भारत ने अपनी कार्बन उत्‍सर्जन तीव्रता को वर्ष 2005 के स्‍तर की तुलना में वर्ष 2030 तक 33 से 35 फीसदी तक घटाने का इरादा व्‍यक्‍त किया है। वैसे तो अनेक हलकों में इस प्रतिबद्धता की भूरि-भूरि प्रशंसा की गई है, लेकिन हरियाली के पैरोकारों ने अटकलों के ठीक अनुरूप ही भारत कीस्वच्छ ऊर्जा संबंधीदुष्कर महत्वाकांक्षा को नजर अंदाज कर दिया है औ रइसके बजाय कोयले पर भारत की निर्भरता पर अपना ध्यान केंद्रित किया है।अत: अब समय आ गया है किइन विशेषाधिकार प्राप्त ‘हरियाली के पश्चिमी पैरोकारों’के ‘कोयला पाखंड’ को बेनकाब कर दिया जाए।

भारत की कुल ऊर्जा खपत चीन, अमेरिका, यूरोपीय संघ और ओईसीडी के मुकाबले कहीं भी नहीं ठहरती है।जलवायु परिवर्तन से जुड़ी वार्ताओं में भारत मानव विकास के लिए ऊर्जा तक पहुंच की केन्द्रीयता को निरंतर प्रतिबिंबित करता रहा है। इन वार्ताओं में भारत के प्रामाणिकरुख की पुष्टि विभिन्‍न आंकड़ों जैसे किऊर्जा तक पहुंच और मानव विकास सूचकांक (एचडीआई) के बीच के सकारात्मक सह-संबंध से भी होती है।

जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा

वैसे तो अनेक अनुमानों में यह बताया गया है किविकास लक्ष्यों को पाने के लिए कितनी ऊर्जाकी जरूरत है(हम इसे ‘जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा’ कहते हैं), लेकिन एक दिलचस्प बेंचमार्क 2000-वाट (डब्ल्यू) वाली सोसायटी से जुड़ा हुआ है, जोस्विट्जरलैंड के एक अनुसंधान समूह के निष्कर्षों पर आधारित है।अनुसंधान में कहा गया है कि प्रति व्यक्ति 2000-वाट ऊर्जा का एक बुनियादी स्तर हैजिसका वास्‍ता आवास, गतिशीलता, भोजन, खपत (विनिर्मित वस्तुओं) और बुनियादी ढांचागत सुविधाओं से है। विदेश संबंधों पर यूरोपीय परिषद के लिए एक आगामी प्रपत्र मेंहमने यह दलील दी है कियदि जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा संबंधी जरूरतों को पूरा करने की दिशा में कोयले की खपत के लिए भारत को दी गई ‘गुंजाइश’ नाममात्र भी न्यायसंगत है,तो भारत को विकास और तरक्‍की से जुड़ी अपनी आकांक्षाओं के लिए समझौता करने की कतई जरूरत नहीं है।

औसतन, अमेरिकी नागरिक कोयले अर्थात ‘अप्रिय ईंधन’का उपयोग करते हुए इस जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा बेंचमार्क की लगभग पूर्ण सीमा तक उपभोग करते हैं। वहीं, दूसरी ओर भारत कोयले के जरिएइस बेंचमार्क के केवल 19 प्रतिशत का ही उपभोग करता है।वास्तव में, ओईसीडी देशों के नागरिकों कोगैर-ओईसीडी देशों की तुलना में 2000-वाटवाले बेंचमार्क के सापेक्षअपनी ऊर्जा जरूरतों का एक बहुत बड़ा हिस्‍सा कोयले से प्राप्‍त होता है।

उल्लेखनीय है कि वर्ष 2014 में भारतीयों का औसत उपभोग अमेरिकियों की औसत कोयला खपत का लगभग 20 प्रतिशत और ओईसीडी की जनता की औसत कोयला खपत का लगभग 34 प्रतिशत आंका गया था।हालांकि, विकसित देश इस बात को लेकर काफी चिंतित हैं कि जहां एक ओर वे प्रति व्यक्ति कोयला खपत को वित्तीय संकट से पहले के स्तरकी तुलना में कम करने में कामयाब रहे हैं, वहीं दूसरी ओर भारत में इसी अवधि के दौरान कोयले की खपत बढ़ गई है।अपने विश्लेषण मेंहमनेइस ओर ध्‍यान दिलाया है कि जिस तरह से वित्‍तीय संकट के बाद विकसित देशों में कोयले की खपत में आई कमी इस तथ्‍य की पुष्टि निश्चित तौर पर नहीं करती है किवे अब जलवायु के प्रति कहीं ज्‍यादा ‘जिम्मेदार’हो गए हैं,ठीक उसी तरह से भारत में कोयले की खपत में दर्ज की गई वृद्धि उसकी ‘लापर वाही’को कतई प्रतिबिंबित नहीं करती है।

वित्‍तीय संकट के बाद नजर आ रहे दो अहम रुझानों से इस तथ्‍य को कहीं बेहतर ढंग से समझाया जा सकता है। पहला, जहां एक ओर विकसित देश ऊर्जा की खपत को पूर्णरूपेण कम करने में जुट गए हैं, वहीं दूसरी ओर विकासशील देश ऊर्जा की खपत को बढ़ाते रहे हैं। हालांकि, यह गति धीरे-धीरे कम हो रही है।दूसरा, जहां एक तरफ विकसित देश प्राथमिक ऊर्जा खपत के मुकाबले कोयले की खपत में कहीं ज्‍यादा तेजी से कटौती कर रहे हैं, वहीं दूसरी तरफ विकासशील देशों में प्राथमिक ऊर्जा खपत के मुकाबले कोयले की खपत में कहीं ज्‍यादा तेजी से वृद्धि हुई है। इससे साफ जाहिर है कि औद्योगिक खपत (विनिर्माण और नौकरियां) विकासशील देशों के मामले में जीवन रेखा खपत मैट्रिक्स का एक अहम हिस्सा है।

विकास व तरक्‍की की कड़ी

अनेक वित्तीय संस्थानों जैसे कि अमेरिकी एक्जिम बैंक ने कोयला आधारित विद्युत उत्पादन परियोजनाओं का वित्त पोषण बंद कर दिया है। विश्व बैंक भी इसी दिशा में आगे बढ़ता नजर आ रहा है। हालांकि, कोयले की खपत विकासशील देशों में बढ़ती जा रही है और ऊर्जा के उत्‍पादन स्‍तर को बढ़ाने के लिहाज से कोयला आधारित ऊर्जा ही अब भी सबसे व्यावहारिक विकल्प है।यह प्रवृत्ति आर्थिक विकास को जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा से अलग कर देती है और विकास के भीतर तरक्‍की के केंद्रीय लक्ष्य को एक किनारे पर रख देती है।

भारत की स्थिति न तो प्रति व्यक्ति कोयला खपत के मामले में विकसित देशों की भांति है और न ही उसकी तुलना चीन से की जा सकती है।वास्तव में, हमने तो यह बाकायदा दिखा दिया है कि भारत विकसित देशों की तुलना में 2000-वाटबेंचमार्क के कहीं ज्‍यादा बड़े हिस्‍से को ‘स्‍वच्‍छ’ ईंधनों के जरिए हासिल करेगा।अत: भारत के लिए इस बात की काफी गुंजाइश है कि वह अक्षय ऊर्जा पर अपने विशेष जोर को तेजी से आगे बढ़ाने का सिलसिला जारी रखते हुए अपनी कोयला खपत को बढ़ाए।और यह ठीक वही स्थिति है जिसे भारतीय आईएनडीसी प्रतिबिंबित करते हैं।

भारत ने वर्ष 2022 तक 175 गीगावाट की नवीकरणीय ऊर्जा क्षमता हासिल करने का लक्ष्य रखा है और इसके साथ ही उसने ‘ईंधनों की आपूर्ति सुनिश्चित होने’ पर 63 गीगावाट परमाणु ऊर्जाप्राप्‍त करने कावादा किया है।भारत भी उन चुनिंदा विकासशील और विकसित देशों में शामिल होगा जो अपनी जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा जरूरतों का एक बड़ा हिस्सा गैर-परंपरागत स्रोतों से हासिल करेगा।

इस बात पर विशेष जोर देने की जरूरत है किअपनी ऊर्जा खपत को पहले ही चरम पर पहुंचा चुके विकसित देशों के विपरीत भारत को प्रति व्यक्ति 2000-वाट की जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा सभी को मुहैया कराने की कोशिश करनी चाहिए, भले ही वह इस ऊर्जा मिश्रण को स्‍वच्‍छ करने में क्‍यों न जुटा हो। भारत अपने औद्योगिक आधारको बढ़ाने, मानव विकास सूचकांक (एचडीआई) को बेहतर करने और अपनी अर्थव्यवस्था को विकसित करने के लिए कोयले की खपत के क्रम को आगे भी जारी रखेगा। इससे भारत को गैर-परंपरागत स्रोतों में भारी-भरकम निवेशकरने के लिए वित्‍तीय क्षमता हासिल होगी। भारतीय आईएनडीसी इस चिरस्थायी विरोधाभास को प्रतिबिंबित करते हैं। भारत को अगर सफलतापूर्वक पर्यावरण अनुकूल बनना है, तो उसे अपनी कोयला क्षमता विकसित करनी होगी।

विकसित देश जैसे कियूरोपीय संघ में शामिल राष्‍ट्र अपने उत्सर्जन को वर्ष 2050 तक घटाकर प्रति व्यक्ति दो टन के स्‍तर पर लाना चाहते हैं, जो आगे चलकर प्रति व्यक्ति उपलब्धकुल कार्बन‘गुंजाइश’ को प्रतिबिंबित करेगा, बशर्ते किपूरा विश्व ग्लोबल वार्मिंग को सीमित करके प्रबंधन योग्‍य स्तर पर लाने के पक्ष में हो। वैसे तो पेरिस का मार्ग इस तरह के अच्छे इरादों से प्रशस्‍त प्रतीत होता है, लेकिन यह आवश्यक है किइस धरती पर रहने वाला हर व्‍यक्ति समुचित कार्बन प्रोफ़ाइल हासिल करने की ओर आगे बढ़ना शुरू कर दे। इसके दो स्पष्ट प्रभाव होंगे।

पहला, भारत जैसे बड़े विकासशील देशों को नवीकरणीय ऊर्जा के तय मानकों मेंअवश्‍य ही उतना निवेश करना चाहिए, जो विकसित देशों से मेल खाता हो। दूसरा, विकसित देशों को अवश्‍य ही प्रति व्यक्ति कोयलाखपत को घटाकर उस स्‍तर पर लाना चाहिए, जोकोयले के माध्‍यम से भारत की भावी जीवन रेखा खपत के बराबर होगा।

आसान शब्दों में कहें, तो जब भी एक नया कोयला संयंत्र भारत में लगे, तो ओईसीडी में एक कोयला संयंत्र को बाकायदा बंद कर दिया जाना चाहिए।यदि कोयले के उपयोग को स्वच्छ स्रोतों से प्रतिस्थापित किया जा सकता है, तो यूरोपीय संघ और अमेरिका में करोड़ों टन की कोयला क्षमता को बेहद आसानी से निपटाया जा सकता है। भारत अपनी संभावित जीवन रेखा ऊर्जा जरूरतों के पांचवें से भी कम हिस्‍से को पूरा करने के लिए कोयले का उपयोग करता है,जबकिओईसीडी के सदस्‍य देश अपनी दो-तिहाई ऊर्जा जरूरतों को पूरा करने के लिए इस ‘अप्रिय’ ईंधन का उपयोग करते हैं। अत: अब समय आ गया है कि हम मिल-जुलकर कुछ ठोस तय करें। बेशक, हम ऐतिहासिक जिम्मेदारी लेने की सलाह नहीं दे रहे हैं। हम केवल सुरक्षित भविष्‍य के लिए कंधे से कंधा मिलाकर चलने की सलाह दे रहे हैं।

यह टिप्पणी मूल रूप से The Hindu में प्रकाशित हुई थी।

भारत को महाशक्ति बनना है तो अगला चीन बनने की कोशिश न करे

Samir Saran

महाशक्ति बनने के लिए भारत को चीन की नकल से बचना होगा

China,Digital India,Globalisation,Labour,Make in India,Manufacturing

भारत इस समय दो  बड़े लेकिन अलग-अलग किस्म के प्रयासों के बीच है।

पहली कोशिश है पिछले दशक के अधूरे एजेंडा को पूरा करना और इसके लिए वह सब उपलब्ध करवाना जिसकी जरूरत किसी भी विकसित अर्थ व्यवस्था को होती है मसलन  आधुनिक बुनियादी ढांचा, ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में सुविधाएं, सामाजिक सेवाएं व कनेक्टिविटी । दूसरा प्रयास, जो पहले से ज्यादा महत्वाकांक्षी भी है, का लक्ष्य है नौकरियों का सृजन, धन-संपदा में वृद्धि और ऐसे मूल्यों का निर्माण जो एक युवा तथा महत्वाकांक्षी जनसंख्या को फलने फूलने का  अवसर दें, गरीबी को जड़ से खत्म करें तथा जीडीपी में तेजी से वृद्धि हो पाए।

लेकिन ये दोनो प्रयास ऐसे  समय किए जा जा रहे हैं जब वैश्विक स्तर पर हवाओं का रुख विपरीत दिशा में है और स्थितियां काफी प्रतिकूल हैं। मौजूदा हालात में पांच मुख्य बाधाएं हैं जो भारत को विकसित देशों के समूह में शामिल होने से रोक रही हैं।

पहली बाधा है एक ऐसे नए दौर की शुरूआत जहां उदार, स्वतंत्र और लोकतांत्रिक विश्व व्यापार व्यवस्था अपने पुराने स्वरूप की परछाई मात्र है। बहुपक्षीय व्यापार प्रणाली  को प्राथमिकता देने के दिन लद गए, अब उसका महत्व दिन प्रतिदिन कम होता जा रहा है।  इसकी जगह अब मुक्त व्यापार समझौते ले रहे हैं। कई छोटे देश यां क्षेत्रीय समूह  आपस में इस तरहं के समझौते कर रहे हैं। इस तरहं कुछ मुट्ठी भर देश यां क्षेत्रीय समूह जिनके हित इन समझौतो से जुड़े होते हैं, उन्हें व्यापार की शर्तें अपने हिसाब से तय करने के अवसर मिल जाता है।

इसके साथ ही कमजोर विकास दर के कारण दुनिया भर में हम वित्तीय प्रवाहों में ठहराव देख रहे हैं।  दिलचस्प बात है कि विकसित देशों में भी अब  भूमंडलीकरण को लेकर असंतोष के स्वर उठने लगे हैं। यूरोपीय संघ से लेकर यूके व यूएस तक  राजनीतिज्ञों को भूमंडलीकरण के रूप में एक ऐसा बलि का बकरा मिल गया है जिस पर वे घरेलु अर्थव्यवस्था व समाज को प्रभावित करने वाली सारी समस्याओं को थोप रहे हैं।

इस पृष्ठभूमि में भारत को नए बाजारों, वित्तीय संसाधानों के नए स्त्रोतों व नए व्यापार समझौतों की तलाश करनी है।

दूसरा, तकनालाजी के विकास व बढ़ते रोबोटाइजेशन के साथ डिजिटल अर्थव्यवस्था के विस्तार के चलते निर्यात  आधारित   विनिर्माण विकास (मैनुफैक्चरिंग ग्रोथ) की संभावनाएं धूमिल होती जा रही हैं। इन कारणों के चलते विकासशील देशों को सस्ता श्रम होने की बदौलत जो लाभ था वह अब काफी हद तक समाप्त हो गया है। इसलिए मैनुफैक्चरिंग के माध्यम से औद्योगिकीकरण अगर असंभव नही तो कम से कम बहुत मुश्किल तो जरूर हो गया है।

Manufacturing, Globalisation, Digital India, Labour

उभरती अर्थव्यवस्थाओं की कई कमजोरियां उन्हें पीछे धकेलती हैं मसलन कमजोर प्रशासन, ढुलमुल अफसरशाही, गुणवत्ता और सक्षमता से जुड़े मुद्दे, कमजोर आपूर्ति श्रृंखलाएं-सप्लाई चेन- और दक्ष श्रम शक्ति की कमी जबकि उनके सामने  मशीनों और मशीनों से मिलने वाले ज्ञान की चुनौती है।  श्रमिकों की बड़ी तादाद का तब तक कोई फायदा नहीं मिलने वाला है जब तक कि इस श्रम शक्ति को पुनः प्रशिक्षित कर उसे उपयोगी नहीं बनाया जाएगा।

ये सब भारत के लिए मुश्किलें पैदा करने वाला है। हो सकता है कि अगले 10 सालों में भारत को उर्जा की गिरती कीमतों, चीन को छोड़कर बाहर आ रहे उद्योगों और प्रत्यक्ष  विदेशी निवेश का लाभ मिले, पर विनिर्माण यानी मैनुफक्चरिंग के क्षेत्र में प्रतिद्वंद्विता करना भारत के लिए और मुश्किल होता जाएगा।

इस संदर्भ में एक महत्वपूर्ण उदाहरण है कपड़ों और गारमेंट  का उत्पादन विकसित देशों में स्थानांतरित होना।  इससे पहले यह सेक्टर सस्ते श्रम को लेकर बहुत ज्यादा संवेदनशील था इसीलिए सबसे पहले इसी उद्योग को विकासशील देशों में स्थानांतरित किया जाता था। लेकिन आज ये उत्पादन अमेरिका और यूरोपीय संघ में रोबोट चालित कारखानों की  ओर वापिस लौट रही हैं।

वैसे तो यह तर्क भी दिया जा सकता है कि  आर्टीफिशियल इंटेलिजेंस और 3 डी प्रिंटिंग के इस दौर में मैनुफैक्चरिंग अपने मौजूदा स्वरूप् में स्वयं ही समाप्त होने की ओर है। भविष्य में मैनुफैक्चरिंग  को जो भी नया स्वरूप उभरता है इतना तो हम मान ही सकते हैं कि उसका आधार उच्च स्तरीय डिजाइन, पदार्थ विज्ञान,संसाधन प्रबंधन, सुपर कम्प्यूटिंग और सूक्ष्म इंजीनयरिंग होंगे; इन सभी को उपलब्ध करवाने के लिए मूलतः मशीनों का इस्तेमाल होगा, जबकि श्रम की आवश्यकता न्यूनतम होगी।

तीसरी बाधा यह है कि जीवाश्म ईंधनों से निकली ऊर्जा  औद्योगिकीकरण के किसी नए प्रयास में इस्तेमाल नहीं की जा सकती है। पर्यावरण को लेकर जागरूक हो चुके इस विश्व में यह स्पष्ट है कि कम आय और गरीबी से समझौता करके रहने को लोग तैयार हैं पर इसे दूर करने की कीमत वे विकासशील देशों को और ज्यादा कार्बन उगलने की अनुमति दे कर नहीं चुकाना चाहेंगे ।

चौथी बाधा यह है कि परंपरागत औद्योगिक विकास के प्रति वैश्विक वित्तीय  संसाधनों का रूख दोस्ताना नहीं है। अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मुद्रा कोष -आइएमएफ- के एक शोध के अनुसार, ‘‘पेंशन फंड, बीमा कंपनियां, म्युचुअल फंड, व स्वायत्त संपदा फंड जैसे निवेशकों के पास 100 खरब अमेरिकी डॉलर से ज्यादा मूल्य की संपत्तियों का प्रबंधन है।’’ इस अध्ययन के अनुसार बुनियादी ढांचे को दुरूस्त करने के लिए जरूरी और उपलब्ध संसाधनों में सालाना 1 से 1.5 खरब डॉलर का अंतर है। यह कमी विकासशील देशों में कहीं ज्यादा है। इस अध्ययन के अनुसार संसाधनों की मांग और उपलब्धता में ये अंतर इसलिए है क्योंकि निवेशकों के लिए न तो उपयुक्त वित्तीय उपकरण उपलब्ध हैं और वे परंपरागत औद्योगिक परियोजनाओं  को लेकर भी अब बहुत ज्यादा उत्साहित नहीं है। विकासशील देशों में तो दुनिया भर से आने वाली पूंजी और स्थानीय व्यवसायिक पूंजी का निवेश भी अब बुनियादी ढांचे में ही हो रहा है।

पांचवी समस्या है नई खोजों और आविष्कारों  यानी कि अन्वेषण का विस्तार अभी असंतुलित है। नई खोजें और आविष्कार अभी अटलांटिक प्रणाली में ही होते दिखते हैं जबकि एशियाई और अफ्रीकी अर्थव्यवस्थाओं का जोर उपभोग पर नजर आ रहा है। यह एक प्रकार नया अन्वेषण विभाजन यानी कि ‘इनोवेशन डिवाइड’ है। इसे अगर पश्चिमी कंपनियों के लिए बनाए गए बौद्धिक संपदा अधिकारों की व्यवस्था के साथ जोड़कर देखा जाए, जो कई तरहं के अंकुश लगाती हैं, तो विकासशील देशों के लिए बुरी खबर है। ऐसा लगता है कि विकासशील देशों में बस इतना परिवर्तन होगा कि सस्ते श्रम,  कम क्रय क्षमता वाले उपभोक्ताओं  और संसाधनों का स्त्रोत बने रहने के बजाए अब वे उन आंकड़ों का स्त्रोत बन जाएंगे जो पूरी प्रक्रिया को चलाने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाते हैं। वे मूल्य श्रृंखला यानी कि ‘वैल्यू चेन’ का एक हिस्सा बन जाएंगे पर असली संपन्नता पहले से विकसित अर्थव्यवस्थाओं में ही पैदा होगी।

इस के चलते  विकासशील देशों की क्रय क्षमता कम रह जाएगी। निर्यात आधारित मैनुफैक्चरिंग तथा तकनालाजी के स्वामित्व से आने वाली आय के अभाव में  इस बात की पूरी संभावना है कि  मध्यम दर्जे की आय तक भी नहीं पहुंचे विकासशील देश  कम उत्पादकता और वेतन के दुष्चक्र में फंस कर रह जाएंगे।

बेहतर भविष्य की राह

वैश्विक आर्थिक विकास के इन पांच रूझानों के  मद्देनजर सवाल ये है कि अब भारत को क्या करना चाहिए?

सबसे पहले तो भारत को अपना घर दुरूस्त करना चाहिए।  मानव समाज का पांचव हिस्सा भारत में है और यह अपने आप में एक बड़ा बाजार भी है और उत्पादक आधार भी। लेकिन अपने विशाल आकार का लाभ उठाने के लिए  भारत को सबसे पहले तो अपने साथ ही मुक्त व्यापार समझौते पर हस्ताक्षर करने चाहिएं।

औपचारिक तौर पर भारतीय गणराज्य का हिस्सा माने जाने वाले लगभग 30 राज्य और केंद्र शासित प्रदेश एक ही अर्थव्यवस्था का हिस्सा हैं। पर हकीकत में उनका आपस में आर्थिक  जुड़ाव यूरोपीय देशों के आर्थिक जुड़ाव से भी कम है। भारत के राज्यों व केंद्र शासित प्रदेशों में अक्सर अलग प्रकार के नियम और विरोधाभासी कर प्रणालियां होती हैं। इसलिए राज्यों की सीमा पार कर एक दूसरे के यहां व्यापार करना बड़ा ही कड़वा अनुभव है। भारत को सभी राज्यों को व्यापार की दृष्टि से एक सूत्र में जोड़ने की जरूरत है।

इस संदर्भ में एकीकृत कर के तौर पर जीएसटी को लागू करना सही दिशा में पहला कदम है क्योंकि इससे ‘मेक इन इंडिया’ के अंतर्गत स्थापित की गई नई मैनुफैक्चरिंग इकाईयों को विविध बाजारों तक पहुंच बनाने में मदद मिलेगी।

Manufacturing, Globalisation, Make in India, Labour

इसके अलावा अन्य सरकारी नीतियां भी इन प्रयासों को और बल देंगीः ‘डिजिटल इंडिया’ बाजारों को  बेहतर ढंग से एक साथ जोड़ रहा है। इससे ई-कामर्स और व्यापार-से -व्यापार यानी ‘बिजनेस- टू-बिजनेस’ अवसर ज्यादा प्रचुरता में उपलब्ध हो रहे हैं। ‘स्टार्ट-अप इंडिया’ से नए उद्यमियों को वित्त और अन्य शुरूआती मदद मिल रही है जो उन्हें इन संभावनाओं का लाभ उठाने के लिए आवश्यक  अवसर उपलब्ध करवा रहा है।

दूसरा, असंगठित रोजगार के प्रति रूख बदलने की जरूरत है। समय आ गया है कि हम असंगठित अर्थव्यवस्था को अभिशाप न मानें, खासकर इस तथ्य के मद्देनजर कि बहुत बड़ी संख्या में भारतीय कर्मी (कुछ आकलनों के अनुसार 90 प्रतिशत से अधिक) इस सेक्टर में काम कर रहे हैं। जरूरत इस बात की है कि सरकार  इस प्रकार का सहायतापूर्ण माहौल तैयार करने पर ध्यान दे जिससे काम करने वालों की इतनी बड़ी संख्या  को ज्यादा सुरक्षा मिले, उनकी उत्पादकता में वृद्धि हो और जहां संभव हो सके उनमें उद्यमिता को बढ़ावा मिले।

अंत में यह कहना होगा कि भारत को अपनी सोच को बड़ा करना होगा। उसे इस संभावना पर गौर करना चाहिए कि किस प्रकार वह औद्योगिकीकरण की प्रक्रिया को लांघ सकता है। भारत को खुद को रोबोटिक्स जैसी नई संभावनाओं के केंद्र के रूप में खुद को स्थापित करने की परिकल्पना करनी होगी, ठीक वैसे ही जैसे जापाना इलेक्ट्रानिक्स, जर्मनी आटोमोबाईल और चीन मैनुफैक्चरिंगे के केंद्र में है और वह भी लागत  के दसवें हिस्से पर।

ऐसे समय में जब कि पूरी दुनिया विकास के अभाव से परेशान है और पुराने मॉडल टूट रहे हैं, भारत को डिजिटल क्रांति का प्रमुख हिस्सेदार बनना होगा और यह सुनिश्चित करना होगा कि उसकी विशाल जनसंख्या इसमें लाभकारी ढंग से शामिल हो सके फिर भले ही वह अनौपचारिक ढंग से हो।

यह टिप्पणी मूल रूप से Quartz India में प्रकाशित हुई थी।

How to regulate ride-sharing cab applications like Uber and Ola

Arun Mohan Sukumar| Samir Saran

Caps on surge prices with its effect on market remain under-studied. However, Ola & Uber cannot resist regulation

 Aggregator,App based,Ola,Regulate,Surge Pricing,Uber
independent.

On 31 October, the Central government is expected to announce rules on “surge pricing” by cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, and set in motion a protracted debate over the regulation of India’s digital economy. Surge pricing, which refers to the spike in taxi fares during rush hours, has been a sensitive subject in India, with cab aggregators having had run-ins with regulators in New Delhi and Karnataka. Surge pricing helps stabilize demand and supply during peak office hours, argue companies, while regulators have sought a “cap” on such fares. It is an issue that illustrates well the dilemma facing Indian regulators as they go about calibrating laws to provide affordable Internet services while ensuring that the digital economy remains competitive. Whatever regulations on surge pricing are eventually adopted, their effect will be immediate: If prices are capped, it may provide relief in the short term to consumers, but can also affect the availability of cabs in a particular area, the earnings of taxi drivers, and, of course, the bottom lines of technology companies.

Uber representatives told these writers that “almost all the earnings from surge fares” go to cab drivers. Between October 2013, when it started operations in New Delhi, and September 2016, Uber suggests “less than 8% of trips surged in New Delhi” and the average multiplier—the rate at which users were charged during peak hours—was 1.8 times the normal fareThe case for surge pricing rests on the assumption that a spike in fares will draw cab drivers to a particular location, and consequently balance the demand for rides and the supply of taxis. If markets for traditional goods like oil and tourism witness rise in prices based on output and seasons, there is certainly a case for demand-driven models in technology.

The regulator, meanwhile, is faced with the unpalatable choice between supporting a populist measure like capping fares, or leaving them untouched, in the hope that technology companies thrive in the absence of regulations. Neither decision is informed by evidence: Taxi riders may save a few rupees if surge pricing were to be capped, but it will be insignificant compared to the value of person-hours that will be lost were taxis unavailable during peak hours. If economic productivity is enhanced by technologies, regulations should not have the unintended consequence of limiting their availability. At the same time, leaving technology companies unregulated will induce market distortions and anti-competitive practices, which also affect the consumer. Given this dilemma, we offer a few baseline principles to measure the effectiveness of regulations on ride-sharing models:

  1. Pricing should be the final point of regulation—prices, or caps on prices—should be a factor of urban congestion, availability of cars, a thorough mapping of user demand and consumption patterns, and an assessment of how neighbourhoods correlate to income in Indian cities. Information on these indices can be absorbed into the algorithms of ride-sharing apps, to tailor affordable rides in urban and semi-urban settings. Armed with such information, regulators too can frame better policies, and resist impulses to cap fares.
  2. The private sector should share data with regulators, especially as they relate to safety. Road safety—which should be understood broadly rather than just through accidents or vehicle-related casualties—is the prerogative of states, but there is little sharing of information on this count between ride-sharing companies and state governments. By sharing local crime statistics, governments too can help cab aggregators offer better services, and ensure their availability in areas which are crime-prone or unsafe. Surge pricing is as much a factor of safety as any, since it is reasonable to expect city-based users to pay more for safer rides.
  3. Build capacity among drivers: If ride-sharing companies want prices to be left unregulated, they should be investing in a community of entrepreneurs and drivers to ensure the ready availability of taxis. But for informal tie-ups with loan agencies and banks for their drivers, there is very little that Ola and Uber have done to boost taxi supply, so it is not enough that they push for deregulation of prices alone.
  4. Monitor and regulate anti-competitive practices: Rather than targeting prices, policymakers should be assessing their impact on the entry of new operators into the market. If surge pricing does indeed follow market-based models, they should attract more investors to the sector, and facilitate the entry of cab-aggregator start-ups. If the spikes in prices, however, end up consolidating the monopolistic positions of established players, then regulators should step in. Capping surge prices does little either to open the market, or prevent anti-competitive practices.

The number of motor vehicles per 1,000 people in a country is often used as a metric for its economic development: It is just as illustrative of the future of the shared economy. By most estimates, the US in 2014 had nearly 800 cars per 1,000 people, Germany had 600, and China just 84. India fared at the bottom of this list, with 18 cars for 1,000 people. This number is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade, but it is neither realistic nor desirable to aspire to the numbers that the US or Europe currently have. For one, demands for cleaner air will push the use of public transportation and greener automobile technologies in India. But crucially, they will drive the growth and adoption of transport-sharing models with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and urban congestion. Any decision that affects this sector must consequently be based on informed assessments.

It is premature to push for caps on surge prices when their effects on the market remain under-studied. Cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, on the other hand, cannot resist regulation without investing significantly in the Indian market. The market may drive prices in Western jurisdictions, where users have deeper pockets. Foreign companies should weigh different models in India, innovating using the richness of data for cost-effective solutions to public transport. For tech giants, India remains among the most open digital economies for business, but it cannot be business as usual.

This commentary was first carried out in Livemint

India’s new Pakistan strategy: It raises the costs for nurturing terror even if isolating Pakistan is not entirely feasible

Samir Saran| Ashok Malik

In the period following 29 September, India has embarked on a two-pronged Pakistan strategy. First, it has indicated it is willing to use hard force when faced with terrorism and cross old lines, literally or figuratively. Second, it has intensified its campaign to diplomatically “isolate” Pakistan in the neighbourhood. Together these have been called the “new normal”. It is important to examine the contours of this new normal.

For a start, the new normal is not limitless. The use of force in retaliation or anticipation of terrorism is not suggestive of an Indian inclination for a full-scale war; not at all. The Narendra Modi government is conscious of that and has repeatedly said the cross-LoC strikes were targeting terrorism and not the Pakistani military. Diplomatically too the absolute isolation of Pakistan is not feasible. The BRICS summit in Goa was a case in point.

What is possible, however, is to raise the costs for Pakistan for its nurturing of terror, and for those supporting it on various diplomatic and multilateral platforms. Whether it is the Chinese in Goa or the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, those who support Pakistan or at least not ostracise it will need to go to ridiculous lengths in making arguments or expending diplomatic capital. This by itself may seem meaningless, but does mean Pakistan’s backers — like apartheid-era South Africa’s backers — will be reduced to contortions of logic. In the long term, they would push Pakistan towards behaviour change.

That the Chinese have had to articulate their support for Pakistan and use their veto to protect it places Beijing in new territory and changes its assumptions of a workable relationship with India. That it had to do this even as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) identified Pakistan as the roughneck of the region would have been doubly troublesome.

Not everybody is happy at this turn of events. Two groups have reacted to the Indian government’s new posture — and it is a new posture, irrespective of supposed precedents that are trotted out — with some hostility. Domestic critics of Modi would rather believe ISI and its propaganda than the Indian PM. Frankly, this is a feature of most robust democracies. Domestic disaffection with a ruling party influences international postures as well. Take Donald Trump reaching out to Vladimir Putin to spite his Democrat rivals.

Next there are the nuclear ayatollahs and South Asia specialists in the Washington Beltway. India has done something their playbooks did not conceive as possible. The anger is exaggerated because an emerging power has had the gumption to intervene in a geography (Pakistan-controlled) that was underwritten, fattened and perversely tolerated by the feckless academic and security analysts’ lobby in Western capitals.

Ironically, political leaderships and governments in those very capitals have been more understanding of India’s cross-LoC strikes.

Realist political leaders recognise conventional space exists and no amount of nuclear sabre-rattling is going to stop a sovereign power from responding to asymmetric warfare.

Four facts stand out then. One, irrespective of level of damage or intensity of operations, India did act — and told the tale. India has decided to make cross-border response, at a place and time of its choosing, a new possibility in the Pakistan-terror dynamic. What should not be lost is that this time it was Pakistan that was in denial.

Pretending it did not happen allowed Pakistan a face saver and gave its establishment space not to respond or escalate. In doing so, it tore apart the escalation theory it had fed its friends in the West in the first place. That bluff was called and reams of briefing papers and opeds were made to look foolish. The world has to live with this. That space for significant conventional action, under a nuclear umbrella, exists and may be expanded in future has been established.

Two, India didn’t inform any big power before the event and neither did any big power intervene, ask India to back off and advocate (pointless) talks. This was the second bluff that was called: that the world would instantly intervene. It did not. Actually, if and when it does, it could well be to Islamabad’s disadvantage.

Three, contrary to editorial imagination, Pakistan’s army and its civilian arm are managing the implications of the Indian strike in tandem and in a spirit of cooperation. They are both in trouble. The Military Terror Complex allowed the generals immeasurable sway over people and territory. The civilian government benefited from the political advantages of cossetting extremism and the rent-seeking advantages offered by Pakistan being part of terrorism’s global supply chain.

Manipulative use of a journalist to push the idea that Pakistan was rethinking support to terror proxies only points to the desperation with which Pakistan wants to reclaim the international narrative. It is telling that this new tack comes after Nawaz Sharif’s truculent UN speech found absolutely no takers.

Finally, despite the heightened emotions, it is obvious the surgical strikes were not an antidote to terror itself. They were a symbolic strike at a smug sense of immunity that Pakistan had developed, an early warning to Islamabad’s cussed all-weather friends and the beginning of a new diplomacy with Beijing. The Chinese can continue to differ, defy and deny. Even so, the perpetual free pass afforded to them by a reluctant South Block has expired.

This commentary originally appeared in The Times of India.

BRICS remains on course for bigger, more effective projects in the years to come

Updated: Oct 17, 2016 21:23 IST, Hindustan Times

Original link is here

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(From Left) Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma, at BRICS summit, Benaulim, Goa, October 16 (PTI)

Heading into the BRICS summit in Goa last weekend, Indian diplomacy sought four key objectives. First, use the forum to strengthen bilateral relationships with all four countries, especially Russia and China. BRICS as a grouping will undoubtedly be served well, and its mandate strengthened, as a result of political exchanges at the bilateral level. Second, stabilise the BRICS regime at a time when some of its major constituents have been perceived as disruptive forces in the international order. Third, leverage the platform to highlight concerns of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and lend momentum to India’s efforts to promote a comprehensive, multilateral instrument to tackle terrorism. And fourth, consolidate and build on the institutionalisation of intra-BRICS initiatives, aimed mainly at promoting economic growth.

All four objectives were materially advanced by New Delhi at the summit, with varying degrees of success. At a time of general turbulence in the international system, whether it is armed conflict in Syria, contestation in the South China Sea or the imminent overhaul of global climate and trading regimes, India can take credit that the summit concluded on a sober, even footing, without letting the political predilections of each power holding sway over the group.

On the subject of terrorism, the Goa declaration strongly endorsed multi-national efforts to tackle the spread of terror networks, and specifically urged countries to crack down on terrorist organisations designated by the United Nations Security Council. It is frankly besides the point that groups based in Pakistan. such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed did not find mention by name in the declaration, since they are groups that are listed by the UNSC under its anti-terror sanctions regime. The references to terrorism in Afghanistan in particular are significant, as they cast a shadow over Islamabad’s conduct in preventing its neighbour from pursuing its “independent political and economic course”. India’s pointed references to Pakistan’s less-than-constructive role in tackling home grown terror networks indicate New Delhi is prepared to sustain its recent efforts to draw ever more global attention to the subject.

The conversations on terrorism in Goa, however, should not detract from the substantial progress that BRICS countries have made in the last year in charting a common economic narrative. Thrown into sharp relief by Britain’s exit from the European Union, the diminishing appetite for integrated markets and indeed, globalisation as we know it, has not deterred BRICS countries from pushing ahead with key economic initiatives.

The Goa declaration correctly highlights the critical role of the New Development Bank (NDB) in attracting foreign investment and supporting renewable energy and infrastructure projects in the global South. Consensus on a BRICS credit rating mechanism was not forthcoming at the 8th summit, given that a consolidated view on perception of financial risk and regulation is a sensitive matter. It is worth noting here that the NDB itself was the product of many such BRICS meetings, both at the level of leaders and sector experts. The credit ratings mechanism is an important initiative that should be pursued with vigour when BRICS finance ministers, industry associations and independent experts now meet over the course of the calendar year to flesh out its details.

Among the biggest takeaways from the summit’s deliberations is BRICS’ continued willingness to take on the unfavourable economic headwinds together, whether by pushing towards greater integration of its markets, facilitating the mutual ease of doing business or providing accessible capital to its businesses. India’s hosting of the BRICS and BIMSTEC summits helped in highlighting that trade ties need to be significantly enhanced, not just among BRICS, but also between BRICS and BIMSTEC countries. On this count, the declaration’s heightened attention and call to build the capacity of micro, small and medium enterprises to ensure they are included in global value chains are significant as they are crucial sources of employment.

The summit declaration also brought the focus back to international norms that promote stability and inclusion in common spaces. At a time when mega-regional trading agreements have significantly altered the discourse on cross-border trade, the summit stressed the need for co-operation in crucial matters relating to Intellectual Property Rights and the digital economy. BRICS members have always attributed a position of “centrality” to the WTO-led trading system, but their endorsement this year is significant.

The Goa declaration reflects an important moment in the group’s history, which has seen the “alternative” powers weighing on the side of liberal, multilateral trading institutions that were conceived by the West. References to the “open and non-fragmented” nature of digital spaces should not be viewed from the prism of Internet governance alone. It is also a pointed reference to the need to keep cyberspace open for commerce, and prevent its “stratification” by exclusive trading regimes.

The BRICS summit in Goa reinforces India’s position as a “bridge” between the liberal institutional order and the potential disruptive impulses of major powers that have opened up the possibility for contestation. Its concurrent hosting of the BIMSTEC heads of state meeting allowed New Delhi to raise the grouping’s profile, and signal its importance to India’s neighbourhood diplomacy in the days to come.

As for the Goa declaration, India may not have had its way on every issue – this is only natural, just as New Delhi sought to moderate the influence of Moscow’s holding the pen at the BRICS Ufa summit last year, the gives and takes of diplomacy ensure a document that is acceptable to all. The Goa declaration ensured the BRICS ship continues to sail steady, and remains on course for bigger and more effective projects in the years to come.

Samir Saran is vice president, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi

 

Navigating the Digital ‘Trilemma’

Samir Saran

Debates around internet policy have taken centre stage in domestic politics and international relations alike thus the stage is set for Digital Debates

Privacy. Security, Access

Debates around internet policy have taken centre stage in domestic politics and international relations alike. While national debates are shaped by local priorities, politics and contextual ambitions, cyber diplomacy differs from traditional diplomacy in two important respects. First, the stakeholders invested in internet policy include not just states and governments but industry and civil society as well. Second, the norms that define conduct over cyberspace remain diverse, divergent and fluid. Creating a universal set of norms to guide policymaking on digital spaces is further complicated as individual sovereign assessments are significantly implicated by regional and strategic tensions unique to them.

Concurrently, the world is also witnessing two parallel sets of conversations on digital policy. One is largely focused on translating rights from the offline world to the online world. This conversation is premised on a clear understanding of what the rights entail in the offline world; the central task that remains is focussed on demarcating the contours of those rights online. The other, related, conversation attempts to negotiate the very nature of, and need for, these rights. For instance, the European Union holds data protection in the highest regard, enshrining it within the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the same time, India, the largest democracy in the world, is yet to explicitly recognise a right to privacy within its constitution. The difference in these approaches transcends legal regimes. The social contract in Europe, a product of legal, cultural and political factors, pried access to data away from the regulators and ceded agency over it to the private citizen. This equilibrium is today reflected in the EU data protection norms. In India, where norms of social behaviour are evolving concurrently with lawmaking, there is no national consensus on a ‘right to privacy’, with some constituencies alleging that a ‘Western’ model may not be fully appropriate,  or would need significant redefinition when applied to the Indian context. In India as in other emerging economies, cyberspace regulation has shouldered the additional burden of delineating and guaranteeing rights that are not necessarily available in offline spaces.

The real challenge therefore lies in creating a public sphere and a digital public sphere that attends to the integrity of both conversations.

Ironically, both these conversations are coloured by concerns about security and access. In the developing world, even as countries strive to ensure affordable access, the proliferation of unsecured devices has lowered the overall standard of digital security. Attempts across the world to enhance cyber security through online intelligence gathering has often had the effect of watering down the right to privacy and stifling free speech, and in some instances even comprising hardware and network integrity. Even though issues around access are largely missing from Atlantic debates, security (motivated by unique and different circumstances) has become an all-encompassing and opaque hindrance in the realisation of the full potential of the internet.

The unique challenge of digital policy is addressing the ‘trilemma’ of reconciling security, rights and access. When we explore both the sets of conversations as discussed above, it becomes evident that while all three are  present in policy formulation on most occasions, one or two are often given more importance. What we must instead strive towards is a re-imagination of these challenges as a equal-sided triangle, where each issue is given the same importance as the other.

Access to the internet is not an end in itself. In India, it is the means for social and financial inclusion. The Indian government has announced plans to slowly transition to a cashless economy while the market remains inundated with cheap and unsecured devices. This, however, is not a central concern to those who remain without access. For instance, individuals in rural India who own smartphones to access government services are often dependent on a family member or another second generation internet user to ‘go online’. Often enough their phones serve as communal devices with one source managing many connections and many accounts. Neither privacy nor security is deliberately accounted for in their daily transactions, leaving them entirely to the mercy of technologies available on the device. To the state that is attempting to foster financial inclusion and digital payments, this ‘human’ component of cyber security is extremely important. How does policy formulation that is still informed by trans-Atlantic notions of privacy contend with these radical realities that defy information or device management?

Of the rights envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many are implicated online. However, the imperative for maintaining the balance between these, sometimes conflicting, rights is more complex online. For instance, the mandate of states to make digital spaces more inclusive and less hostile is often at odds with the overarching imperative to foster freedom of expression. Prominent social media companies like Twitter that were created to allow internet users to voice their opinions online must also constantly attempt to reduce – if not eliminate – online harassment and gender based violence. The translation of offline rights to the digital space is often less than perfect. More often than not it ends up clamping down on one or more rights. For countries that do not have the resources to monitor and tackle online extremism, the restrictions on an open internet are not always imposed by choice but rather by compulsion. How does the objective of maintaining a marketplace of ideas, free of hostility, contend with the universal recognition of free speech?

The threat to an open internet, however, is not only from online radicalisation and hate speech. Opportunities for access – to knowledge, to markets and to people – available online must never cost more than those available offline. Exclusionary mega free trade agreements could potentially render vast swathes of knowledge and data inaccessible to emerging economies. On the one hand, countries and regulators are criticised for heavy-handed censorship or imposing restrictions on an open internet; on the other, restrictive provisions aimed at the digital economy — which in India is yet to fully bloom — could convert the open internet into a luxury. If draconian laws and oppressive governments cannot be allowed to dismantle the openness of the internet neither should commercial arrangements and mercantilist considerations.

Security presents the greatest challenge of the three vertices of this invisible triangle. Cyber security involves the protection of both infrastructure and information. Difficulties arise when in the name of security, governments start to dictate norms of behaviour in cyberspace. This raises the philosophical question of whether the enhancement of a nation’s cyber security automatically means an enhancement of the individual security of every internet user. Or as a corollary, does enhanced individual online security result in higher national security in this sphere? We must also ask: do internal security and cyber security complement each other or will the resolution of one lead to the dilution of the other? This is perhaps best exemplified by the ongoing tussle between the United States government and Silicon Valley. It has been well documented that technological alternatives to bypass government-monitored means of communication are readily available. Keeping this in mind, it seems unlikely that allowing governments access to certain modes of communication will greatly enhance the internal security of a country. The overall security is rather affected by the individual strength of devices and modes of communication available to the citizens.

The common thread that runs through all three issues is data integrity – both national data and individual data. Managing data integrity can serve as the golden median that helps strike a balance between the needs to ensure affordable access, secure cyberspace and enhance rights. Ensuring the integrity of citizens’ data can protect them from commercial exploitation by private entities, intrusion into their lives by the state, and from criminal exploitation by hackers. It can strengthen privacy and foster free expression and exchange of ideas over the internet. Maintaining the integrity of data is therefore something that all states must aspire to. This, and digital anonymity are preconditions to ensuring a safe, discursive space online.

As net exporters of data, Asia and Africa are locked in an uneasy relationship with Western companies that provide most services over the internet. The digital trilemma is acute for emerging economies: access is a ‘here and now’ concern, but is also a factor of the individual security and human rights. A major cyber attack on financial networks could have the consequence of weaning first generation users away from the internet altogether. Regular and unchecked instances of harassment and gender-based violence online could constrain the rights and contribution of women to digital spaces, further skewing inequalities based offline. Platforms purporting to offer affordable internet access should not emerge as walled gardens that restrict the freedoms of speech or expression. Managing the three vertices, therefore, is a delicate process that should eschew dramatic or heavy handed regulation.

The resolution of this invisible triangle, far from being a purely national concern, is central to the stability of digital spaces, which are global commons. Access, rights and security, must be weighed in their own respects and given equal degrees of importance. While responding to the threat of climate change, for instance, all countries recognised that growth, employment and environment were equally important to everyone. A similar realisation must be arrived at in relation to digital policies.

This article originally appeared in the third volume of Digital Debates: The CyFy Journal

Digital Debates 2016

Samir Saran

Debates around internet policy have taken centre stage in domestic politics and international relations alike thus the stage is set for Digital Debates

Editor’s Note: Navigating the Digital Trilemma | Samir Saran

Debates around internet policy have taken centre stage in domestic politics and international relations alike. While national debates are shaped by local priorities, politics and contextual ambitions, cyber diplomacy differs from traditional diplomacy in two important respects. First, the stakeholders invested in internet policy include not just states and governments but the industry and civil society as well. Second, the norms that define conduct over cyberspace remain diverse, divergent and fluid. Creating a universal set of norms to guide policymaking  on digital spaces is further complicated as individual sovereign assessments are significantly implicated by regional and strategic tensions unique to them.

Concurrently, the world is also witnessing two parallel sets of conversations on digital policy. One is largely focused on translating rights from the online world to the offline world. This conversation is premised on a clear understanding of what the rights entail in the offline wold; and the central task that remains is focussed on demarcating the contours of those rights online. The other, related, conversation attempts to negotiate the very nature of, and need for these rights. For instance, the European Union holds data protection in the highest regard, enshrining it within the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the same time, India, the largest democracy in the world, is yet to explicitly recognise a right to privacy within its Constitution. The difference in these approaches transcends legal regimes. The social contract in Europe, a product of legal, cultural and political factors, pried access to data away from the regulators and ceded agency over it to the private citizen. This equilibrium is today reflected in EU data protection norms. In India, where norms of social behaviour are evolving concurrently with lawmaking, there is no national consensus on a “right to privacy”, with some constituencies alleging that a “western” model may not be fully appropriate,  or would need significant redefinition when applied to the Indian context. In India as in other emerging economies, cyberspace regulation has shouldered the additional burden of delineating and guaranteeing rights that are not necessarily available in offline spaces.

The real challenge therefore lies in creating a public sphere and a digital public sphere that attends to the integrity of both spaces.

Ironically, both these conversations are coloured by concerns about security and access. In the developing world, even as countries strive to ensure affordable access, the proliferation of unsecured devices has lowered the overall standard of digital security. Attempts across the world to enhance cyber security through online-intelligence gathering has often had the effect of watering down the right to privacy and stifling free speech and in some instances even comprising hardware and network integrity. Even though issues around access are largely missing from Atlantic debates, security (motivated by unique and different circumstances) has become an all-encompassing and opaque hindrance in the realisation of the full potential of the internet.

The unique challenge of digital policy is addressing the “trilemma” of reconciling security, rights and access. When we explore both the sets of conversations as discussed above, it becomes evident that while all three are  present in policy formulation on most occasions, one or two are often given more importance. What we must instead strive towards is a re-imagination of these challenges as a equal-sided triangle, where each issue is given the same importance as the other.

Access to the internet is not an end in itself. In India, it is the means for social and financial inclusion. The Indian government has announced plans to slowly transition to a cashless economy while the market remains inundated with cheap and unsecured devices. This however is not a central concern to those who remain without access. For instance, individuals in rural India who own smartphones to access government services are often dependent on a family member or another second generation internet user to “go online”. Often enough their phones serve as communal devices with one source managing many connections and many accounts. Neither privacy nor security are deliberately accounted for in their daily transactions, leaving them entirely to the mercy of technologies available on the device. To the state that is attempting to foster financial inclusion and digital payments, this “human” component of cyber security is extremely important. How does policy formulation that is still informed by trans-Atlantic notions of privacy contend with these radical realities that defy information or device management?

Of the rights envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many are implicated online. However, the imperative for maintaining the balance between these, sometimes conflicting, rights is more complex online. For instance, the mandate of states to make the digital spaces more inclusive and less hostile, is often at odds with the overarching imperative to foster freedom of expression. Prominent social media companies like Twitter that were created to allow internet users to voice their opinions online must also constantly attempt to reduce – if not eliminate – online harassment and gender based violence. The translation of offline rights to the digital space is often less than perfect. More often than not it ends up clamping down on one or more rights. For countries that do not have the resources to monitor and tackle online extremism, the restrictions imposed on an open internet are not always a by choice but rather by compulsion. How does the objective of maintaining a marketplace of ideas, free of hostility, contend with the universal recognition of free speech?

The threat to an open internet, however, is not only online radicalisation and hate speech. Opportunities for access – to knowledge, to markets and to people – available online must never cost more than those available offline. Exclusionary mega free trade agreements could potentially render vast swathes of knowledge and data inaccessible to the emerging economies. On the one hand, countries and regulators are criticised for heavy-handed censorship or imposing restrictions on an open internet; on the other, restrictive provisions aimed at the digital economy — which in India is yet to fully bloom — could convert the open internet into a luxury. If draconian laws and oppressive governments cannot be allowed to dismantle the openness of the internet neither should commercial arrangements and mercantilist considerations.

Security presents the greatest challenge of the three vertices of this invisible triangle. Cyber security involves the protection of both infrastructure and information. Difficulties arise when in the name of security, governments start to dictate norms of behaviour in cyberspace. This raises the philosophical question of whether the enhancement of cyber security of a nation automatically mean an enhancement of the individual security of every internet user? Or as a corollary, does enhanced individual online security, result in higher national security in this sphere? We must also ask, do internal security and cyber security complement each other or will the resolution of one lead to the dilution of other? This is perhaps best exemplified by the ongoing tussle between the United States government and Silicon Valley. It has been well documented that technological alternatives to bypass government-monitored means of communication are readily available. Keeping this in mind, it seems unlikely that allowing governments access to certain modes of communication will greatly enhance the internal security of a country. The overall security is rather affected by the individual strength of devices and modes of communication available to the citizens.

The common thread that runs through all three issues is data integrity – both national data and individual data. Managing data integrity can serve as the golden median that helps strike a balance between the needs to ensure affordable access, secure cyberspace and enhance rights. Ensuring the integrity of citizens’ data can protect them from commercial exploitation by private entities, intrusion into their lives by the state, and from criminal exploitation by hackers. It can strengthen privacy and foster free expression and exchange of ideas over the internet. Maintaining the integrity of data is therefore something that all states must aspire to. This alongside digital anonymity are preconditions to ensuring a safe, discursive space online.

As net exporters of data, Asia and Africa are locked in an uneasy relationship with western companies that provide most services over the internet. The digital trilemma is acute for emerging economies: access is a “now and here” concern, but is also a factor of the individual security and human rights. A major cyber attack on financial networks could have the consequence of weaning first generation users away from the internet altogether. Regular and uncheck instances of harassment and gender-based violence online could constrain the rights and contribution of women to digital spaces, further skewing inequalities based offline. Platforms purporting to offer affordable internet access should not emerge as walled gardens that restrict the freedoms of speech or expression. Managing the three vertices, therefore, is a delicate process that should eschew dramatic or heavy handed regulation.

The resolution of this invisible triangle, far from being a national concern, is central to the stability of digital spaces, which are a global commons. Access, rights and security, must be weighed in their own respects and given equal degrees of importance. While responding to the threat of climate change, for instance, all countries recognised that growth, employment and environment were equally important to everyone. A similar realisation must be arrived at in relation to digital policies.

Read the full issue here.

Government of India should not Make in India

Samir Saran|Vivan Sharan

The government should remain a licensor, regulator and adjudicator where neither capital nor technology are in constraint and should not make in India

 Make in India, Horse, Parade

Make in India during the Parade

Source: TopCount

Make in India’s greatest threat is the ubiquitous government-run enterprise itself is recording historically high investments in technology-oriented industries such as telecom and over the top (OTT) services that ride on telecom networks such as financial technology and e-commerce.

The latest infusion of Rs47,700 crore by UK-based telecom giant Vodafone Plc. into its Indian arm is indicative of the fact that the Indian market remains much coveted despite the headwinds to global growth. Manufacturing investments are also targeting the tech-hungry Indian consumer.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei will begin manufacturing smart phones in India this year, the 40th such manufacturing investment in the country in the past two years alone. With such investments and parliamentary consensus on the GST, one may be tempted to conclude that ‘Make in India’ is on track. This may be premature.

India’s transition from an agricultural economy to a service economy has posed a conceptual challenge for many who see industrialisation as the only way to create jobs. Industrialisation requires best-in-class infrastructure, cheap energy and a skilled workforce, all impossible prerequisites to fulfil in the short or medium term. But the ‘digital economy’ offers a way out.

While productivity gains from automation and digitisation have driven industrial growth in advanced countries over previous decades, their effects are not fully felt here.

The digital economy can potentially mobilise millions of Indians, constituting the ‘informal workforce’, bringing them within a more productive fold. India’s biggest challenge is also its best opportunity: it has a large, young and untrained workforce that can intuitively understand applied technology, if given early exposure.

In fact, India can extract greater relative gains from the digital economy than its advanced country counterparts. Real income growth in advanced countries requires sustained and fundamental innovation whereas India can harness incremental innovation towards higher rates of growth (mostly owing to a favourable demographic).

But continued innovation support through private sector investments is not inevitable. Many policymakers mistakenly believe that India cannot be ignored as an investment destination. Nothing is inevitable.

Conversely, Make in India’s greatest threat is the ubiquitous government-run enterprise itself. And this is borne out in a number of technology-oriented industries; which is worrying as successive governments have first created favourable conditions for investments and then jeopardised them.

For instance, the telecom industry, often cited as an example of successful liberalisation, finds itself at a crossroads. It is dependent on falling voice call revenues despite enough global precedent to show that data revenues are the future. The industry lacks the bandwidth to deliver affordable data.

And there is policy inertia to address this, partly due to the existence of BSNL. Policymakers have hesitated from undertaking comprehensive reforms around key challenges such as Right of Way regulations, hoping that BSNL’s networks will save the day. And BSNL has not delivered the goods: the quality of its Internet infrastructure and service ethic are reminiscent of the pre-liberalisation era.

Instead of harnessing a well-designed ‘ring network’ as was originally conceptualised in ‘BharatNet’, India has to settle for optic fibre cables thrown on electricity poles, barely resilient enough to withstand a windy day.

Another competitive technology industry, broadcasting, is another example. While most advanced countries have public broadcasters, few have created legacy issues as profound as Prasar Bharati has here.

The private broadcasting industry has been haemorrhaging money owing to high cost of ‘carriage’ and regulatory restrictions on deriving more revenues. Prasar Bharati has been on the wrong side of both these issues—not readily relinquishing spectrum to private operators which could help lower carriage costs, and forcing private operators to circumscribe their lifeline advertising revenues by applying Mandatory Sharing regulations on high value content such as sports broadcasts. Policymakers have conflated national interest with consumer choice.

The result is that broadcasting investments have been muted over the past decade despite progressive liberalisation of FDI caps. The larger lesson to draw is that governments should not be both regulators and competitors. This is not the easiest pill to swallow, particularly when sentimentality accompanies the notion of government-run enterprise.

The introduction of RuPay cards by the National Payment Corporation of India, which is heavily guided by the Reserve Bank of India, indicates that the government is tempted to enter markets to disrupt perceived monopolies even in the digital economy.

Ironically, India is a party to the US-led dispute with China at the WTO on the Chinese variant of RuPay, called UnionPay. India’s approach therefore is neither consistent nor wise. It is a legacy of the past, wherein the government created markets for ‘old economy’ industries such as energy and infrastructure.

While public enterprises have succeeded, to an extent, in traditional industries, they are not optimized for the new economy which requires constant innovation and high standards of service delivery.

The government should remain a licensor, regulator and adjudicator and let consumer choice select winners in markets where neither capital nor technology are constraints.

This commentary was originally published in Mint

 

Why India should sign a free-trade deal with itself

World Economic Forum, Monday 3 October 2016,  in collaboration with Quartz.

Original link is here

High-rise residential towers under construction are pictured behind an old residential building in central Mumbai September 9, 2011.

Image: REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

India is currently in the midst of two large but different endeavours.

The first is to complete the unfinished agenda of the previous decade, providing the country with the modern infrastructure, rural amenities, social services and connectivity that any developed economy needs. And the second, the most ambitious of the two, is to create jobs, wealth and value to accommodate a young and aspiring population, eradicate poverty and boost GDP growth.

 

But these two projects are being undertaken at a time when global headwinds are deeply unfavourable. Today there are five hurdles that stand between India and its ambition to join the club of developed economies.

 

India’s challenges

 

The first is the advent of this new age where the open, free, and democratic global trading system has become a pale shadow of its previous self. The multilateral trading system—and the preference for this kind of model—has waned considerably. It is being replaced by free trade arrangements between smaller groups of countries and regions, where a handful of stakeholders are able to decide the terms of trade.

 

This is coupled with a stagnation in global financial flows, because of weak growth, and the growing disquiet over globalization, curiously enough, in the developed world. From the European Union to the United Kingdom to the United States, politicians are using globalization as a convenient culprit for all that ails domestic economies and societies.

 

It’s against this backdrop that India has to discover new markets, new sources of funding and new trading arrangements.

 

Second, the advance of technology and the expansion of the digital economy, along with the advance of robotics, is in many ways closing the window for export-led manufacturing growth. They have significantly eroded the advantages that cheap labour typically provides for developing countries. Industrialization, when seen through the narrow prism of manufacturing, therefore already looks improbable, if not impossible.

 

End of manufacturing as we know it

 

Emerging economies will be stuck with the traditional disadvantages of weak governance, cumbersome bureaucracies, quality and competence issues, fragile supply chains and a lack of skilled labour, even as they compete with machines and machine learning. Large labour pools are unlikely to provide any competitive advantage unless the labour force is reoriented, retrained and reimagined.

 

That’s going to make things difficult for India. Even though the country might benefit in the next 5-10 years from weak energy prices, industries exiting China, and inflows of foreign direct investment, it’s going to get harder to compete in manufacturing.

A case in point is the relocation of textile and garment production to the developed world. This was previously a sector most sensitive to cheap labour and therefore the first to be off-shored to the developing world. Today, it’s now returning to robotized factories in the US and the EU.

 

Indeed, it can be argued that with 3D printing and artificial intelligence, manufacturing as we know it may be coming to an end. Whatever form that manufacturing takes in the future, we can safely assume that it will based on high competencies in design, material science, resource management, super-computing, and precision engineering, all delivered by machines or sets of machines and requiring minimal labour.

 

Third, energy derived from fossil fuels may no longer be a given in any new industrialization effort. In a “climate-aware” world, it is apparent that there is a willingness to compromise with low incomes and poverty but little appetite to allow the developing world too much carbon space.

 

Fourth, global finance is increasingly agnostic, if not outright unfriendly, to the idea of traditional industrial growth. An IMF working paper suggests that “investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds, and other investors such as sovereign wealth funds, hold around $100 trillion in assets under management.” This study estimates the infrastructure-funding gap between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion each year, with the deficit significantly higher in developing countries. This paper and other studies have argued that this stems from a lack of financial instruments and a lack of appetite to invest in the industrial ventures of the past. Global capital and even local commercial capital in developing countries are being crowded away from investing in infrastructure.

 

Fifth, innovation itself has a spatial flaw. Discovery and invention are still the preserve of the Atlantic system while consumption and absorption are witnessing greater uptake in the Asian economies and in Africa. This new innovation divide, when combined with restrictive intellectual property regimes set up for the benefit of Western corporations, is bad news for developing countries. It’s likely that they will merely transform from being labour sources, marginal consumers, and resource-rich spaces to markets for innovation, sources for the data that drives the process, and part of a value chain where the largest wealth will still be created in the old economies.

This will ensure that their purchasing power remains low. Without large-scale, export-driven manufacturing, and without the revenues that would accrue to the owners of technology, there is a high possibility that developing countries that are not yet middle-income will remain trapped in a low-productivity, low-wage spiral.

India: GDP in current prices from 2010 to 2020

Image: Statista

The better way forward

 

So what should India do, given these five trends in global economic development?

 

First, India must get its own house in order. One-fifth of humanity is a market and a productive base in and of itself. But for the country to take advantage of its size, it must sign a free trade deal with itself.

 

Currently the 30-odd states and union territories that comprise the Republic of India are nominally a single economy. But in reality they’re less integrated than the economies of Europe. India’s states and union territories often have sharply different regulations and incompatible tax systems. As a result, trading across state boundaries is a nightmare and India really needs to focus on creating a trade association among these regions.

 

As a single tax, the GST is the first step in the right direction as it will allow new manufacturing units set up under the “Make in India” programme to have access to multiple markets.

 

And there are other government policies that also fit well with this endeavour:Digital India knits markets together, allowing for vast e-commerce and business-to-business opportunities, and Start-up India gives new entrepreneurs access to the finance and incubation required for them to take advantage of these opportunities.

 

Secondly, the attitude towards informal employment needs to change. It’s time to stop thinking of the informal economy as a bad thing, particularly since an overwhelmingly large number of Indian workers (over 90% by some estimates) are currently employed in the sector. The government should instead focus on creating support systems that will allow for India’s vast informal workforce to become more secure, productive, and, where feasible, more entrepreneurial.

 

Finally, India must think big. It must consider the possibility that it will have to leapfrog over the industrialisation process itself. It must imagine itself becoming the epicentre of the robotics and AI world, much like Japan become the hub for electronics, Germany for automobiles, and China for manufacturing everything at a tenth of the cost.

To prosper in a world that is suffering from the absence of growth and the disruption of old models, India must strive to become the principal stakeholder of the digital revolution—and ensure that its teeming millions partake in it gainfully, even if informally.