Can Indians trust likes of P Chidambaram, Sam Pitroda, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Nandan Nilekani and C Chandramouli, who are collecting our biometric data just because they say that their heart bleeds for unreached poor? In addition, the silence of Congress, BJP and other political parties on Aadhaar-NPR issues is deafening
In an academic paper In Other Words: The Indian City and the Promise of Citizenship, Jankaji Nair from the Centre for Historical Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) asks, “Can the mere refusal to be visibilised, by planning agency, law, census, and now in the pernicious plans for unique identity (UID), add up to social justice in the city?” The synonyms of the word ‘pernicious’ include malicious, wicked, evil and malevolent.
It is becoming abundantly clear that the market, rather than the state is attempting to define the identity of a citizen, amidst ‘mutinies’, ‘adjustments’ or surrender by them to avoid a ‘fugitive’ existence. The right to the republic, in particular, and right to have rights in general are increasingly getting determined by ulterior motives of global finance, which wants free trade in all sorts of data at any human cost and even at the cost of sovereignty.
Kamal Sadiq in his book Paper Citizens: How Illegal Immigrants Acquire Citizenship in Developing Countries published by Oxford University Press in June 2011 has argued that although citizenship is ‘expressed through documents’ but the process of creating the document (for Right to Identity) is not the consistent monopoly of the state. His reference to the phenomenon ‘documentary citizenship’ is quite relevant in the context of biometric documentation being bulldozed down the throats of Indians. While it is not crystal clear as to whether those citizens who obtained citizenship through registration and documentation can and should be allowed to have the right to deprive natural citizens of their rights as is being done by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Under the influence of cartels of ID cards if they are allowed to establish that it is documents that create citizens and not the states it will a deeper affront to the episteme of natural citizens from artificial citizens. The latter seem to remain foreigners in local communities. The rights of natural citizens go beyond proof of documentation.
At page 198 Kamal Sadiq writes, ‘The bounded nature of citizenship, where the nation-state was a container for all rights, has eroded because of its dependence on documents. Citizenship is no longer a secure political realm…documentary citizenship presents a serious problem for our understanding of the composition of states’.
Some artificial citizens whose rights are documents based are out to disinherit the natural citizens of their rights by initiatives like biometric identification. Such initiatives merit robust resistance from the natural citizens. Kamal Sadiq points out the ability of documentary citizens to partake in the political affairs of a country – vote, run for public office, while retaining their previous sense of nationality and belonging. He makes a case that documentary citizenship undermines state sovereignty.
In an article dated 18 January 2014, Nick Turse, the co-author of The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyber Warfare, Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 underlines that as of 2013 elite US forces are deployed in 134 countries around the globe. It is not about whether or not Government of US or its allies who are part of Five Eyes intelligence alliance or government of China is being hostile towards India and Indians. It is about whether as a nation are Indian political parties, battle ready in the event of such calamities. Aren’t centralised electronic and biometric databases of Indians, vulnerable assets?
Notably, The UN resolution was passed by the General Assembly on 18 December 2013, as ‘Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’. It was sponsored by more than 50 countries, including India, and approved unanimously by the 193 members. The resolution has requested Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance and/or interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data, including on a mass scale, to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council at its 27th session and to the Assembly at its 69th session.
Ms Pillay recalled that Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with one's privacy, family, home or correspondence, and that everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. She said, “People need to be confident that their private communications are not being unduly scrutinised by the State.”
The ruling parties in India are violating these rights and, wittingly or unwittingly, opposition parties have become complicit in surveillance exercises in the name of delivery of welfare services for the poor.
The US resolution deals with the emerging question of cyberspace privacy. The UN General Assembly has established, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium, and therefore the need for protection both offline and online.
But does electronic and biometric surveillance bother the political parties who are part of the ruling coalition led by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram? Does it perturb the opposition parties led by Lal Krishna Advani, Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj? Do the parties who seem to belong to the federal front of Nitish Kumar, Arvind Kejriwal, Navin Patnaik, Mamta Banerjee, Jayalalitha and Mulayam Singh Yadav concerned about the corrosion of sovereignty? Does it matter to the parties of the secular front which has been proposed by Prakash Karat?
The stance of these political leaders on biometric identification reveals their character as to whether they wish to be deemed legitimate opposition parties to fight for the political rights of citizens, or they wish to remain wedded to ruling coalition with mere token oppositionism.
Each of these parties seem to have failed in their political duty to announce whether they support or seek scrapping of biometric identification that violates the fundamental ’tenet of a democratic society’ and the ‘Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’.
After the UN resolution, US president Barack Obama has attempted to unsuccessfully defend the indefensible acts of surveillance on 17 January 2014. He claimed that National Security Agency (NSA) was created to give us insights into the Soviet bloc. He referred to “totalitarian states like East Germany offered a cautionary tale of what could happen when vast, unchecked surveillance turned citizens into informers, and persecuted people for what they said in the privacy of their own homes”, but by implication underlined that the in the post-Soviet bloc era, democratic countries are being turned into totalitarian states through indiscriminate profiling of citizens through US based companies or through the allies of US.
He admitted that “the government collection and storage of such bulk data also creates a potential for abuse” and “surveillance technology and our reliance on digital information is evolving much faster than our laws.” He observed, “There is a reason why BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the White House Situation Room.”
Obama underlined “the vulnerabilities to privacy that exist in a world where transactions are recorded, and emails and text and messages are stored, and even our movements can increasingly be tracked through the GPS on our phones.”
Almost echoing the farewell speech of the then US President, Dwight D Eisenhower delivered in January 1961, who had prophetically warned against the new coalition of companies, agencies, and lobbyists that dwarf the state, Obama reminded, “Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes; that’s how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically.” Eisenhower had urged citizens to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military-industrial complex”. (Read: No warrant, no problem: How the government can get your digital data )
Obama says, “Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.”
Can Indians trust likes of P Chidambaram, Sam Pitroda, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Nandan Nilekani and C Chandramouli, who are collecting our data just because they say that their heart bleeds for the leakage in the system for the sake of the unreached poor? Chidambaram’s election to Parliament faces challenge in the court. Other big data players of his ilk have become a challenge for the legislature itself because they are cabinet ministers without any oath of secrecy, office or accountability.
Obama will have us believe that Government of US does “not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to US companies or US commercial sectors.” This is not true at all because there is evidence to establish that the opposite of this claim is true. (Read: The surveillance reforms Obama supported before he was president )
Obama said, “I have also asked my counselor, John Podesta, to lead a comprehensive review of big data and privacy. And this group will consist of government officials who, along with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, will reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders, and look how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors; whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data…”
Has the link between big data like Centralised Identity Data Repository (CIDR) of biometric Aadhaar number and National Population Register (NPR) numbers and violation of right to privacy been studied prior to their launch?
The silence of India’s political class in general and opposition parties in particular on the issue of UN resolution, surveillance regime of the victors of World War II and automatic identification in the digital age is deafening.
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)
During the December quarter, Shree Cement’s net profit fell on decline in sales as well as 79% fall in profitability in its cement business
Shree Cement Ltd has reported a 47% fall in its December quarter net profit on lower sales in a flagging economy as well as 79% fall in profitability in its cement business. This is the second consecutive quarter for the cement maker where its sales have fallen.
For the quarter to end-December, Shree Cement said its net profit fell to Rs115.49 crore from Rs217.44 crore a year ago period while its total sales declined 6% to Rs1,316.98 crore from Rs1,401.28crore a year ago period. Last quarter its sales declined by 4%.
During the quarter, Shree Cement reported 14% increase in its profitability from power segment to Rs112.56 crore while its cement segment reported 79% fall in its profitability to Rs37.65 crore.
During quarter to end-December, the company got MAT (minimum alternative tax) credit entitlement of Rs9.25 crore and deferred tax of Rs1.79 crore. This reduced total tax payable amount to Rs15.27 crore from Rs26.31 crore.
During the last one year, FIIs shareholding in the company grew to 8.15% from 6.83% in a same period a year ago, while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) shareholding fell to 5.87% from 6.17.%. However, promoter shareholding has remained the same, at 64.79%.
Shree Cement, on Monday closed 1.1% down at Rs4,349 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark closed 2.02% down at 20,707.
For more stock results, check out this page
Throwing good money after bad is never a good idea, but if you put too much stress on an overleveraged system, you risk a systematic impact. Either way, the Chinese government, like other governments, will reap what they have sown. The only question is when?
Default. It is an ugly word. It is not only disturbing for lenders; it has nasty connotations for other investors, management, employees, politicians and even central bankers as well. Lenders could lose their money; investors their investments; management and workers their jobs; and politicians their offices. So everyone tries as hard as possible to avoid it. Sometimes too hard. But, like death, default is part of capitalism and it has to be faced. If it is put off too long the consequences can be dramatic. The time has come for China.
The Chinese have a lot of debt. Perhaps not compared to Greece, but it is certainly impressive. The money owed by Chinese companies shot up from 90% of GDP in 2007 to 124% by the end of 2013, a total of Rmb 64 trillion ($10.6 trillion). But companies were rather conservative compared to local governments. Their debt increased 70% in just two years to Rmb 17.9 trillion ($2.95 trillion). It is not just the debt itself, but the money has been spent in very inefficient ways. It now takes Rmb 3 of credit to create Rmb 1 of growth.
The Chinese government created this orgy of lending. Much like the orgy of money printing by central banks in developed countries. It was supposed to help China grow and avoid recession. It was very successful until 2010; since then growth rate, though still impressive, has been declining.
The reason is simple. Just because a government can create a plethora of cheap money does not mean that it will be spent wisely or even used at all. Quite the contrary, something that has a low value is bound to be thrown away. This is especially true of China where locals used massive borrowing to finance industries that were successful in neighbouring provinces. This led to overcapacity especially in the steel and solar-cell industries. Cheap money and local pride prevented the less efficient from being weeded out.
The Chinese leadership, like their developed country colleagues, are now trying to pull back in hopes of encouraging more efficient utilisation of capital. To achieve better efficiency, the Chinese and the US are beginning to tighten. The Americans are ending their experimental program of quantitative easing, while the Chinese are raising interest rates.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has limited the amount of liquidity it provides to the financial markets through its seven-day repo rate. This rate has shot up five times since last June. It increased twice in December alone and once again a week ago. It was about 4% and has increased to about 5.4%, but in for short periods of stress it is almost 10%. When it spikes, the PBOC steps in to provide more liquidity; but the trend has definitely been rising.
The result is that China’s economy is slowing. Its sterling growth rate has declined from over 10% three years ago to 7.7% in the latest quarter—it’s slowest since 1999. Last week, China reported a flash manufacturing PMI that showed contraction.
With credit tightening and economic growth slowing, it is hardly surprising that non-performing loans are increasing. In the third quarter, they increased at an annualised pace of 30% in the third quarter. The level of bad loans for the banks has remained steady at about 1%, but this is accomplished in two ways. First, there is the eternal question as to what constitutes a ‘non-performing loan’. This definition varies by bank and country. Second, new loans have been increasing faster than the recognition of bad loans. If you increase the denominator faster than the numerator, the number looks better. But these are only the loans we know about. There is a vast shadow banking which is subject to lighter regulation. Two large defaults have recently come to light.
Both concern so called trust companies. Trust companies were developed to provide borrowers, often municipalities and real estate developers with funds that were not available because of restrictions by the traditional state banks. They also provided investors with far better rates of returns. Often 5% or more over official bank deposit rates. The authorities tolerated them because they provided additional capital. Over the past few years they have exploded. Since they were often sold through the state owned banks, investors assumed that the bank and the government would stand behind them even though there are no specific guarantees.
Recently, products offered by two trust companies may go in default. Both provided credit for the troubled coal industry. One product was sold by the Jilin Trust. The product worth Rmb 1 billion ($165 million) backed exclusively by loans to Liansheng Resources Group. Liansheng is a big player in the Chinese coal industry and it is insolvent. Its debts have reached Rmb 30 billion and it filed an application with the local court to restructure. Unfortunately, Jilin did not take any collateral for the loans. It only has a guarantee from another coal company that is also having problems. Liansheng loan product sold by Jilin Trust was distributed in part via China Construction Bank.
Another trust company, China Credit Trust, distributed a Rmb 3 billion ($495 million) product that also provided money for another coal company, the Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group. China Credit distributed its product through China’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Shanxi is now defunct and the loan is due on 31st January.
No trust company product has yet gone into default in China. The problems of the China Credit Trust product with the unfortunate name of ‘Credit Equals Gold No 1’ is being dealt with in the way almost all defaults have been dealt with in China. The Shanxi provincial government is trying to put together a package to bail it out. No doubt Shanxi government has other large debts of its own. So the real issue is whether ICBC will contribute anything to the bail out.
The question is how many of these deals can be bailed out. Trust products are usually for short periods, not more than two years. More than Rmb 100 billion ($16 billion) mining related trust products are due to be repaid this year. The total number of trust products coming due is $660 billion. Some no doubt will default.
The choice for the Chinese government is whether to let the defaults take place. Throwing good money after bad is never a good idea, but if you put too much stress on an overleveraged system, you risk a systematic impact. If you don’t allow some defaults, it just delays the day of reckoning. Either way, the Chinese government, like other governments, will reap what they have sown. The only question is when?
(William Gamble is president of Emerging Market Strategies. An international lawyer and economist, he developed his theories beginning with his first-hand experience and business dealings in the Russia starting in 1993. Mr Gamble holds two graduate law degrees. He was educated at Institute D'Etudes Politique, Trinity College, University of Miami School of Law, and University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. He was a member of the bar in three states, over four different federal courts and has spoken four languages.)