Posted tagged ‘South Asia’

$2000 CAR FROM INDIA SLAMS NORTHERN AUTOMAKERS’ RENT-SEEKING

September 12, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good morning from the suburbs south of Manila!

To continue with our exciting news for the ‘ember’ months, let me share some reflections about the recently released people’s car from India. The array of new innovations goes longer than that, with the car serving as the icing in the cake.

Beth Day Romulo, international journalist who’s the other half of the late Carlos P. Romulo who is one of Asia’s greats in the foreign policy field (former President of UN), featured the Nano car in her regular Sunday space at the Philippine Panorama, dated July 25, 2010. The Nano was engineered by the giant Tata group of companies of India, and sells at a very affordable $2000 apiece.

As Beth Day Romulo aptly titled, “In India, cheap doesn’t mean shoddy.” A sleek yet classy looking prototype, the Nano would surely be an envy of many countries up North who just couldn’t think of a car unless it sells past $25,000 apiece. Accustomed to the corrupted status-seeking behavior, the North’s customers would do everything in the books (e.g. get credit) to acquire flashy Mercedes Benz or Porsche and brag the same to their family circles and peers.

Mass markets are the in-thing in automotive industries as far as the bankrupt or near-death Northern car manufacturers are concerned. Flashy cars & SUVs would be okay for the fractional upper middle class markets up North and their clones down South, but for the larger billions of workers & professionals in emerging markets utility is the yardstick, hence the affordable folk car suits them well.

Before I venture into other thoughts, let me declare my own deep admiration for the Tata Group over its feats across the decades. I encountered this group during my own research on the steel industry in the late 90s, and in 1999 their representatives presented papers in the Manila-held conference of the Asian Iron & Steel Institute (I participated in that conference held at the Shangrila Plaza in EDSA).

From Tata Steel to Tata metallurgies and now to automotives, what can I say but SALUTE! With top-of-the-line scientists among their design innovators, including the world-renowned steel expert Dr. Mukerjee, the only way for Tata to go is to jettison upwards in a very exponential fashion.

What the Tata Group is silently proclaiming to the world is that the price policy of Northern car makers is pure and plain rent-seeking practice. Look at the Volkswagen beetle for instance, a people’s car that is now priced at past $23,000 apiece, and that surely makes one have doubts about the ‘people’s car’  facet to the Volkswagen.

It’s all pure and plain rent-seeking. Profiteering is a more palatable term for the layman. Just like those Western pharmaceuticals that are produced for a mere $0.01 apiece but sell for over $1 per pill, rendering the pharmaceutical companies the top-gun of obnoxious rent-seeking firms.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we’d find out that a people’s car up North should be selling at merely $4000 apiece, using factors of production costs in their own backyards. A Beetle should be selling at $3000 or even lower, come to think of it.

At any rate, the peoples of the emerging markets have lives of their own, and they set the patterns of consumption on the basis of their own needs. Such as the need for utility cars that are truly ‘utility’ and not luxury items masquerading as utility.

As per report, the German engineering company Siemens had jumped the gun, by committing to mass produce and market the Nano in India, China, Russia, and Brazil. The Mumbai subsidiary of Siemens alone will produce half of the Indian innovations (Nano’s just one of them) that they’ve committed to produce and market.

As Beth Day Romulo reported, “While western engineers work on highly sophisticated products, the Indian engineers, who focus on high quality but low cost, aim at simplification and adaptation to the environment.”

Stressing on the infusion of social technologies to the engineering works, Madam Romulo concluded that “all of those devices and products are the result of local innovation, the engineers on the ground who study and recognize the needs of the Indian consumer.”

Not just the Nano car but also a whole array of innovations from India have been showing the way to the fusion of quality and consumer sensitivity in the product prototypes. This is what true development should be in terms of technological innovations: driven by people’s needs rather the pockets of greedy corporate executives and owners.

[Philippines, 02 September 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

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INDIA’S RURAL SALVATION COULD BE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

August 26, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

Good morning from Manila!

 

India’s rural poor is very high in frequency as its overall rural population is still at an all-time high of 80%. No matter how heated the industrialization efforts are at the moment, it will take time before the benefits of industrialization will permeate the rural folks.

 

It is no wise action to force rural areas to commercial urbanization as an option to alleviate urban poverty.

 

[15 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to eldis.org database news.]

 

 

Sustainable agriculture: a pathway out of poverty for India’s rural poor

Produced by: Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (2008)

Millions of farmers in remote rural areas of India struggle to feed themselves and their families, while the resources on which they depend are deteriorating daily. This book shows how sustainable agriculture can help India’s farmers – especially those in poor, remote areas – pull themselves out of poverty.

The book details 14 examples of how development initiatives have helped farmers in some of the remotest parts of the country break out of the cycle of poverty, debt and environmental degradation, and improve their lives and livelihoods through agriculture that is economically, ecologically and socially sustainable.

The examples fall into three areas:

  • organic agriculture
  • land and water management
  • improving market access for small-scale farmers.

These examples were selected not only due to their success, but also because they have the potential to be replicated on a large scale. The analysis and lessons are intended to be applied to a wide variety of situations, not just in India, but also throughout the world. The authors argue that such large-scale application is vital if the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability are to be met.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=38679&em=310708&sub=agric

ASIA & PACIFIC UPDATES

August 9, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning from Manila!

Let’s see what we got across Asia and the Pacific recently, concerning development engagements, relief and humanitarian activities. Below are news captions about Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Japan, and Sri Lanka.

[31 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Asia & Pacific

 

 

Australia

A draft blueprint of Australia’s emissions trading scheme will include fuel, but is unlikely to recommend what the country’s key emissions cap should be. The blueprint’s government-backed architect, economist Ross Garnaut, is due July 4 to release a plan for how emissions trading could operate, likely suggesting that government force companies to bid for emissions permits at auction, a perceived failing of the EU scheme. But inflating already record-high petrol prices could fuel a backlash against the government’s pledge to cut emissions with a trading system by 2010. (Reuters)

Bangladesh

Obtaining food remains the biggest priority for Bangladeshi families living in areas still devastated by Cyclone Sidr last year, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said July 1, announcing it will continue its aid operations to the affected region. The next major harvest in the delta country is not due until November or December, and many households lack sufficient food reserves to last until then, according to a press release issued by WFP. (UN News Service)

Burma (Myanmar)

At least 7,000 cyclone survivors sheltering in three temporary camps in Laputta town, in the Irrawaddy delta, are under renewed pressure from the local authorities to return home, according to sources there. About 10,000 refugees are still living in Laputta’s five refugee camps, supported by local authorities and nongovernmental organizations. The 7,000 now urged to return to their home villages have been warned that unless they leave the camps they can expect no aid next month, said one local source. (ReliefWeb)

China

The UN expects China to be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, such as the global food crisis, climate change and the quest to slash poverty, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said July 1, calling on the Asian nation to step up its contribution in international affairs. Addressing students at the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, at the start of the second leg of his East Asian tour, Ban said China is already playing an important role as a permanent member of the Security Council and as a growing contributor to peacekeeping and the UN budget. (UN News Service)

India

The Jammu and Kashmir state government should protect Parvez Imroz, an award-winning human rights lawyer who survived an armed attack on June 30 in Srinagar by alleged security forces members, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said July 1. The state government and Human Rights Commission should launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack and take criminal action against those responsible. “All members of the security forces found responsible, no matter how far up the chain of command, should be prosecuted,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. (HRW)

Indonesia

Indonesia’s anti-terrorism police unit has found assembled bombs and detained suspects during a raid on a house in Palembang in South Sumatra province, the national police spokesman said on June 2. The detentions came as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was visiting the area in the west of Indonesia on Sumatra Island. Earlier, Metro Television reported that seven suspects had been detained, but a police source involved in the raids told Reuters that more than seven were being held. (Reuters)

Mongolia

The president of Mongolia has declared a four-day state of emergency in the capital amid violent protests over claims the general election was rigged. Crowds torched the HQ of Mongolia’s governing party – the former Communists – and attacked a police station. Over 60 people were hurt – around half of them police – as officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon against stone-throwing protesters. The unrest went on into the night, with reports of bank robberies and looting. Rioters set fire to the Cultural Palace, home to a theater, museum and national art gallery in the capital, Ulan Bator. (BBC)

Nepal

Nepalese police have detained more than 40 Tibetan monks and nuns near the country’s border with Tibet. The group was planning to protest at China’s policies in their homeland. The demonstrators were halted several kilometers from the frontier after marching through the mountains from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. Tibetan exiles in Nepal have protested almost daily since China suppressed violent anti-government demonstrations in Tibet that broke out in March. (BBC)

North Korea (DPRK)

A new agreement between the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) paves the way for the agency to step up its food assistance to more than five million hungry people in the country. The agreement, which was signed on June 27, was hailed by WFP as a significant breakthrough in its long-standing efforts to ensure that all those in need of food aid in the DPRK are able to receive it. (UN News Service)

Japan

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Japanese leaders in Tokyo on June 30 and praised the “immense contribution” Japan has made to the work of the United Nations. Speaking to the press after meeting Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Ban said that “Japan should be proud of being ‘a peace-fostering nation’ and its commitment to multilateralism,” Ban added. “The Japanese people should know how much Japan’s global role is appreciated in the United Nations and worldwide.” (UN News Service)

North Korea (DPRK)

The UN World Food Program, which has warned of a humanitarian crisis in North Korea due to a food shortage, said on June 30 it reached a deal with Pyongyang to rapidly expand aid, and that a US ship carrying wheat had arrived. Flooding last year, higher commodity prices and political wrangling with major donor South Korea have pushed North Korea to a food shortfall similar to ones it faced about a decade ago when famine killed an estimated 1 million people. The WFP said the agreement it reached with the North will allow it to expand its operation, previously aimed at feeding 1.2 million people, to feed more than 5 million in the country of about 23 million. (Financial Times, UK)

Sri Lanka

For thousands of Sri Lankans without easy access to potable water, a low-tech filter has provided them with a convenient source of safe water, saving on fuel costs and cutting disease. The water filter was first mass-produced in Nicaragua and used in emergency relief operations. It is essentially a clay pot fortified with ground paddy husk and coated with colloidal silver that strains out virtually all harmful bacteria and parasites. The American Red Cross (ARC) began production of the clay filter in Sri Lanka in January 2007 and has distributed some 10,000 units so far. (IRIN)