Saturday, 30 January 2016

Gandhi after Independence

We know the contribution of Gandhiji in Indian independence struggle, but we know little about his work after the independence.

When people were celebrating the hard-earned independence, the protagonist of the struggle was busy in dealing with riots spread in eastern parts of India(Bengal). The 77-year-old man walked in difficult terrain through slush and stone. He walked 117 miles, mostly barefoot. He decided simply to fast and pray on 15th August 1947. On 31st August, there were reports of fresh rioting in Bengal which commenced after a Hindu youth was attacked by Muslims commencing retaliatory violence. On 2nd September, Gandhi went on fast-unto-death. Next day, all rioters laid down their arms.

On 7th September, he left for Delhi hoping to proceed further to Punjab for silencing the riots. However, he contemplated that to make the Muslims undo the wrong in Punjab, he should first secure justice for the Muslims in Delhi. On 13th January, Gandhiji began one more fast addressing three different sections. First were the people of India to bring the peace at earliest. The second section was the government of Pakistan, asking them to put a stop to the driving out of minorities. Third and the most controversial section was the government of India. They had withheld part of the Pakistan's share of the 'Sterling balance' due to their invasion of Kashmir. Gandhiji found it unnecessarily spiteful and asked for the transfer of money. On 15th Jan, the Indian government decided to release the remaining amount to Pakistan. Gandhiji's health was rapidly declining. On 18th, he was satisfied enough, by the unity in Delhi, to end his fast.

However, his final fast was controversial and made some Indians hostile towards him. On 20th Jan, a Punjabi refugee threw a bomb at Gandhiji in Birla House. Luckily he was saved. Unfortunately, he couldn't survive the second attempt of assassination. On 30th Jan 1948, he was shot dead by a young man at his daily prayer meeting.

Salute to one of the greatest freedom fighter and the sage who gifted a precious weapon of non-violence!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Why 26th Jan

We all know why 26 January is celebrated as republic day. Because India adopted Consitution on 26th Jan 1950. But very few of us know why 26 Jan was specifically selected to adopt the constitution.

26 January has a significance in the Indian freedom struggle. The Purna Swaraj declaration, or Declaration of the Independence of India, was promulgated by the Indian National Congress on 26 January 1930, resolving the Congress and Indian nationalists to fight for Purna Swaraj, or complete self-rule independent of the British Empire. Every year after 1930, Congress-minded Indians celebrated 26 January as Independence Day.

In fact, Indian nationalists wanted 26 January 1948 to be the date of independence. But Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, chose 15th August 1947 to be a date to hand over the power. This date was selected as it was the second anniversary of the Japanese surrender to the Allied forces in the World War-II. To compensate this the interim government selected 26th January 1950 to be the date on which Constitution of India came into force.

Happy Republic Day!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

One Step Closer to Indian GPS

With the advent of smartphones GPS (Global Positioning System) is something that most of the people are aware of. Maps and many more services in your smartphones accurately determine your current position and guide you using the GPS service. But what many people are unaware of is that this GPS service is provided by U.S. That is you are always at a mercy of U.S. to use your smartphone smartly.

With the launch of IRNSS-1E, India is now one step closer to activate its own indigenously Navigation Satellite System that will be used to provide accurate real-time positioning and timing services over India and regions extending to 1500 km around India.

What is IRNSS:
It stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It is developed by ISRO with expected cost of expected to be Rs.1420 crore. Fully deployed IRNSS consists of 3 satellites in GEO orbit and 4 satellites in GSO orbit, approximately 36,000 km above the earth surface. The constellation of 7 satellites is expected to operate from 2016 onwards. Out of these 7 satellites, 5 are already launched and next two launches are scheduled in Feb and March 2016. After activating the IRNSS, India will be in the elite group having its own navigation system.

Why India need IRNSS:
The question can be asked why India needs IRNSS when there is GPS service already operational. The reason is that India cannot rely on services controlled by foreign powers as they are not guaranteed in hostile situations. And India had already witnessed such situation in the past during Kargil war, when U.S. denied to provide locations of invading militants to the Indian military. This compelled India to build its own navigation system and ISRO accepted the challenge.

And today India is few months away from using its own positioning system which is something she will be really proud of.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Struggling China And The World

This year started with a 'Black Monday'. There was a huge dip in a stock exchange index(Sensex as well as NSE). This was accompanied with a depreciation of rupee by 0.47 (which is too much for a day). It is speculated that investors lost a huge sum of rupees 150 billion. In fact, throughout the last year, the world has witnessed multiple Black Mondays. These facts compelled us to discuss the antagonist of this tragedy: Economic Crisis in China.

From 1949 to 1978, China had Soviet-style centrally planned economy. China was experiencing an economic downturn, until the time its new president Deng Xiaoping began the economic reforms. China started economic liberalization in 1978 and moved towards market-oriented mixed economy under one-party rule. Its model was similar to that of Japan and South Korea. Like Japan and S. Korea, for nearly 30 years China has been growing at an average rate of 10%, thrusting its goods across the world. The growth of China was unprecedented in both duration and scale. It became the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP and largest economy by purchasing power parity(PPP) according to IMF. China accounts for 17% of global economic activity. As the second biggest economy in the world, its has the huge impact on global economy. This implies slowing down of China will slow down the world.

The growing streak of the Chinese economy was finally slowed down in 2015. The world was alarmed on 24th August when Shanghai main share index lost 8.49% of its value in a single day. Repercussions were seen in India's stock market as well as stock markets all over the world. As a result, billions of pounds were lost on international stock markets. Even media in China called it 'Black Monday'. It was followed by 'Black Tuesday', losing more than 7% again.

In the 1980s, China established 'special economic zones' to attract foreign investment. This allowed the influx of foreign investments into China helping its industrialization and reformed the export based economy. Growing economy and growing foreign investment kept increasing the stock exchange index. With government controlled media, China encouraged its people to invest in stock market. Many Chinese families borrowed their money to buy shares, hoping that share prices will eventually grow in value. As millions of investors started investing borrowed money into the stock market, share prices were pushed to inflated values. (This is similar to how subprime lending in the USA led to housing bubble in 2007-8)

Chinese government realized that allowing people to buy shares with borrowed money is a bad idea. They put the ban on purchasing shares with borrowed money. In the panic, investors sold off their stocks to pay back the money they had borrowed. Mass selling of shares plunged the share prices to even lower. The equivalent of $3 trillion was lost as a result of the drop in share prices.

As no external index for China's growth is available (figures published by Government is the only source), their stock market index signifies their economy. When stock index went down, even foreign investors pull out their money creating the situation even worse. The economy is also driven by psychology. When investors fear that market is going down, they pull out their investment and the market really goes down. When the economy of China slows down, investors fear of the global slow down and pull out investment from other countries also. So investors fear that Indian economy will also go down and start selling their shares in Indian stock market. This resulted in the dip in Indian stock exchange index on 'Black Monday and Tuesday'.

Only 1.5% Chinese shares belong to foreigners, but still their stock market crashes are affecting the financial markets in the UK, Europe, and the USA.

In 2015, the growth rate of China dropped down to 7.1% from 10% and was surpassed by India with a growth rate of 7.5%. These figures ratified the slowing down of China's economy. In July of 2015, China had imposed a restriction on selling the shares. These restrictions were until the end of 2015. As 2016 started, skeptical share-holders sold out their shares which decreased the stock market index by 7% withing two hours after which transaction was stopped. First Monday of 2016 became the 'Black Monday'. And this, of course, forced Indian stock market index to go down.

Today, economies of all nations are inter-dependent and when one economy starts sinking, it carries the entire world to the bottom.