Modi’s Surgical Strike on Black Money Has Also Hit Maoists Hard

Prayag_Article1

The rise of Left-Wing Extremism in India goes back to the first peasants’ uprising at Naxalbari in 1967. It reached its pinnacle in 2009, when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Maoist activities as “the biggest internal security threat ever faced by the country”. This shows the grave concerns the state and the civilians face from Left-Wing Extremism.
This article is drawn from the study undertaken in Dec ’16 – Jan ’17 by Prayag Soni, Research Intern, VIF. Read the complete article on The Quint.

How Demonetisation Choked Pakistan’s Fake Currency Influx Into India

Abiram_Article1_SwarajyaDemonetisation has hit multiple targets, and one certainly, is fake Indian currency notes in circulation. The outcome is clear with violence in Kashmir reducing by 60 per cent, what with the Hurriyat Conference’s funds drying up. This article is drawn from the study undertaken in Dec 2015 by Abiram Devnathan, Research Intern, VIF.

Read the complete article published on Swarajya

Know The Teachings Of Swami Vivekananda On His 154th Birth Anniversary

Shyam_Article_Vivekananda

Today, more than a hundred years later, his words have permeated across India and set fire to thousands across our land. In every village in this country, chances are that we shall find at least one charity named after him. What is about the vision of Swami Vivekananda that drives so many people to strive for a higher and more selfless life? Shyam Krishnakumar, VIF Research Associate, shares his thoughts from the inspiration he has drawn from this man, since the nascent age of 13.

Read the complete article published at The Logical Indian

Impact Assessment of Change in Yatris – Good Governance Yatra ’16

 

ggy-survey-results

The GGY is an immersive learning experience that changes perspectives about government and elected representatives in our country. The bar graph shows an impact assessment of this change in the yatris from the recently concluded yatra – The final question reflects that the yatra indeed is contributing to change agents for nation building.

 

emitra

How E-Mitra Kiosks in Rajasthan Help People Access 300 Govt Services without Going to Govt Offices

Aditi Sinha and Prateek Behera write about an e-governance initiative that is streamlining the system of government service delivery in Rajasthan.

e-Mitra is an e-governance initiative taken up by the government of Rajasthan in association with several private entities to form a dedicated, transparent, and a viable system to assist the community with more than 300 deliverable state services under a single ceiling.

 

Read the complete story at The Better India.

trifurcationmap

Why Delhi Should Discuss MCD Trifurcation Before 2017 Municipal Elections

A series of three articles aims to shed light on the rationale behind the trifurcation process; its impact; and the outcomes of trifurcation, particularly on service delivery. These articles are drawn from primary research undertaken from October 2015 to January 2016, for a Master’s thesis by Apula Singh, VIF Research Associate. Different officials across the MCD, Delhi government and councillors were interviewed to collect primary data.

Read the complete article published at Huffington Post.

Amritsar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, MoS for External Affairs V K Singh and other delegates, poses for a group photo before the inauguration of the 6th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference, in Amritsar on Sunday. PTI Photo by Kamal Kishore(PTI12_4_2016_000023B)

How India can isolate Pakistan at Heart of Asia

By Kamal Madishetty

The holy city of Amritsar is all set to host the sixth Heart of Asia ministerial conference over this weekend, where representatives from over 40 countries are congregating to discuss and deliberate upon issues of peace, prosperity and progress of the nation which lies at the “heart” of Asia – Afghanistan.

Read the complete article published at DailyO.

Remembering Sri Aurobindo And The Vision Of A Life Divine

Shyam_Article0_SriAuronbindo

Sri Aurobindo spoke of his five dreams for the nation – a united India, the resurgence of Asia, unification of the world, the spiritual gift of India to the world, and evolution through raising human consciousness. Shyam Krishnakumar, Research Associate VIF, shares his thoughts on the learnings that one can draw from Sri Aurobindo ji.

Read the full article on Swarajya.

Aadhaar Platform to be Given Legal Backing – Much Needed Legislation

Shobhit Mathur

“We will undertake significant reforms such as the enactment of a law to ensure that all government benefits are conferred upon persons who deserve it, by giving a statutory backing to the Aadhaar platform. Public money should reach the poor and the deserving without any leakage.” – Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Union Budget 2016-17 speech

The Aadhaar project was aimed at authenticating beneficiaries and directly transferring benefits and services to them. Currently over 98 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated. The government has been able to directly transfer benefits to 16.5 crore beneficiaries through it. The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in LPG has been particularly successful and the Government aims to expand it to other schemes. The Government expects to save Rs 15,000 crore in leakages in cooking gas subsidies each year. If the Government could save 40% of what it spends on food grain subsidy by reducing leakages, it will save about Rs 50,000 crore annually.

No wonder the Government is keen to expand the Aadhaar platform by introducing a bill for targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services using the Aadhaar framework in the current session of Parliament. Mr Jaitley in his budget speech announced that DBT of fertilizer subsidy will be piloted in a few districts. At present manufacturers sell subsidized urea to farmers and claim the subsidy from the Government. India gives a large subsidy on fertilizers, about Rs 72,000 crore annually. DBT of fertilizer subsidy to farmers will plug the diversion of urea to non-agriculture uses and neighboring countries.

However the Aadhaar project lacks legal backing and the Supreme Court has limited its use to cash transfers, PDS and MNREGS. Legal backing to Aadhaar can help it overcome legal challenges and permit Aadhaar to be linked to many more Government schemes. The Supreme Court has asked a constitutional bench to look into whether the Aadhaar platform violates the citizen’s right to privacy as it collects and shares biometric data of citizens.  A legal backing to Aadhaar is just a statutory step; it does not amend the constitution which is perhaps needed to permit schemes like Aadhaar. So, if the constitutional bench decides that the Aadhaar platform violates the right to privacy, the legal backing will not hold.

Clearly the Government has decided to invest further in the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity. Reducing leakages and better targeting of beneficiaries will provide more fiscal space to government.  Additionally delivering within-government transfers (e.g. MNREGS) via JAM will reduce idle funds, lower corruption and improve ease of doing business with the Government. The last-mile delivery challenges (getting money in the hands of the beneficiaries in rural areas) and opposition from civil society groups (which petition against the Aadhaar platform) will be the most difficult to overcome.

 

Shobhit is the executive director at VIF.

Greenhouses Gases and Vegetarianism

The world is struggling to protect the environment and achieve sustainability. Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are real concerns. Population growth has exploded from around one billion people two centuries ago to seven billion now, of which more than 10 percent do not have enough to eat. Under these conditions, it is imperative to re-examine the environmental impact of human diet.

In preparation for the Paris climate conference in December, India has recently put forward its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to limit its carbon emissions and mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Nowhere in India’s INDC is there any discussion of the environmental impact of human diet, meat in general and beef in particular.

Evidence suggests that meat is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reveals that the production and consumption of meat are responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to 13 percent from all transportation. A non-vegetarian diet can release anywhere between two to ten times more carbon dioxide equivalents than a vegetarian diet, depending on the type of meat. Beef production releases methane, which is 23 times more harmful than CO2. One pound of dry beans produces 0.4 kilograms of CO2 equivalents against 1.6 produced by chicken and 7 by beef. Greenhouse gases cause global warming and meat produces greenhouse gases.

The study by the FAO also concludes that livestock agriculture is the ‘single largest anthropogenic user of land.’ Livestock takes up 70 per cent of all agricultural land, making it a key factor responsible for deforestation and degradation. A non-vegetarian diet not only leads to more degradation but also requires more land for its production. A Netherlands-based study published in 2002 noted that an ‘affluent’ diet requires three times as much land as a vegetarian diet. With the world population growing and people suffering from hunger, it is remarkable to consume a diet which needs more land and even degrades it.

The American state of California is suffering from acute water shortage. The Pacific Institute, a US-based research center, reports that meat and dairy products consume nearly half of California’s water. India too is a water-stressed country. Falling water tables pose a food security risk for the nation, and agriculture is a key sector for water consumption. The FAO also observes that livestock is the largest source of water pollution. Livestock maintenance pollutes freshwater sources, degrades coral reefs in coastal seas and harms human health. Therefore, just like land use and degradation, meat consumes more water while also polluting more of it. Land and water resources are used to produce grains which are in turn used to raise livestock. This has significant consequences for land, water and energy available to the world.

To understand how diet measures up against other efforts towards sustainability, consider solar energy. Typically, solar energy saves one kilogram of carbon emissions per kilowatt-hour of energy. An average Indian consumes 700 kWh per year. Shifting to solar energy saves that many kilograms of CO2 equivalents. Shifting to a non-meat diet can save up to 1 ton of carbon emissions per person per year, more than that achieved through solar energy. And the cost? Zero. The world can take a big step towards sustainability, and this is a step that comes at no cost. In fact, it saves money while saving the planet.

Roughly 40 percent of Indians are vegetarian, making India home to more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined. This saves enormous amounts of greenhouse gases when compared to other nations. When the parties meet to negotiate climate change, India must highlight its vegetarian behaviour. India’s INDCs should be based not only on what the government is planning to do. It should also come from what Indian people have been doing for years. Five hundred million Indians have mitigated and will keep mitigating global climate change, simply by not eating meat. India should support sustainability efforts for research, development and entrepreneurship so that humans can gradually shift to a green and healthy diet.

The referred study by the FAO gives all possible solutions to save resources and reduce emissions but does not advocate a change in dietary habits. The UN and the international community need to recognize meat reduction as an actionable goal in order to achieve sustainability. In a scenario where eating beef has become criminal for some and fashionable for others, we need to forge a middle path. This path should neither be criminal nor fashionable, but rather responsible. There is no conservative or progressive way to save the environment. There’s only the way that works.

Armin Rosencranz, advisor to Vision India Foundation, and Sahil Aggarwal, program director.

The article was originally published in The Statesman.