Sunday, November 30, 2014


Let me tell you a short ‘chutukla’ a dear friend once told me.
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. 

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 
The fifth would pay $1. 
The sixth would pay $3. 
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12. 
The ninth would pay $18. 
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. 

So, that’s what they decided to do.. 

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner offered “Since you are all such good customers, I’m will reduce the charge of your daily beer by $20″. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80. 

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.
And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving). 
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving). 
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving). 
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving). 
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving). 
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving). 

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.
”I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got $10!” 

”Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!” 

”That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!” 

”Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill! 

(Never mind all the math, the gist of the chutukla is that rich are overburdened with taxation in our taxation system which suffers from a ‘socialist’ mindset.)
And that is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is friendlier.
But does this tell us the complete story when applied to the real life? Let me tell you another chutukla…
To save the argument of the chutukla, let me reframe it. Let 1 beer every day be essential for a man to survive. Now obviously poor are poor. They can’t afford even 1 beer. Let us now add weight to the argument of the chutukla. Lets say there is only 1 rich man, 2 middle class men and rest 7 are poor. The rich man has the money to pay for 10 beers, middle class to pay for 1 beer each and the poor have zero money.
Lets say richest man goes in a bar alone and drinks his beer there from his own money. Now when he comes out, our other 7 poor guys and the 2 middle class men ask him to go back in and pay for their beer as well. Now in this second visit the richest man doesn’t drink, only the 7 poor and 2 middle class drink and the rich man pays the entire bill (for all 9) happily. Let this be our initial taxation system (even more unfair to the rich man than the initial chutukla, ain’t it?).
Now enter the real life. In real life, the rich man is never happy paying the bill for the other 9 men’s beers. So he goes and tells the government, “I ll pay you 1 beer (for your election spending or whatever purposes) so that you give me an exemption from paying for say 2 beers.” Now both the middle class men will have to buy their own beers (in best case)… less equity but still acceptable. But it doesn’t stop here. Our rich man now goes and tells the government, “I ll pay you 2 beers so that u exempt me from paying for 4 beers.”… Now what? In the best possible case also, 2 poor men will have to die (or be deprived of ‘minimum needed’ economic resources).
In real life, it is obvious that the rich man has all the incentive in the world (except should he be otherwise persuaded by a dissenting conscience) to bribe the government to save his taxes… and the government will have all the incentives in the world to accept the bribe since its overriding objective is to win elections. So in all likelihood the second chutukla is going to prevail. At least 2 poor are going to die, the rich man will invest the saved beer in a say beer refinery and produce 5 more beers tomorrow. GDP will grow and we will call this development. Funny…
The poor are worse off in the system. But they are in majority. So how does the system survive in a democracy like ours? Consider this…
Lets multiply everything by 2 now and let us assume that 1 beer is essential for physical survival and 1 for other basic needs like education, health, environment etc. which are otherwise essential to lead a minimum “meaningful” life. Now lets eliminate the middle class and club them with poor so that there are 9 poor. Say our rich fellow now bribes the government 4.5 beers so as to save on 9 beers in tax. Now every poor will have his 1 beer of physical survival but thats it. Election time comes and government distributes the 4 beers among the poor (read “populist” fiscal sops or alcohol, cash, mixers etc.), the poor are happy and vote for the government.
The rich are happy (they got to save 4.5 beers), the government is happy (it got reelected and also saved 0.5 beers), the poor are happy (they got election time sops). But the poor are still the losers for now they have been condemned to poverty in perpetuity. The poor – they never knew they had a chance of a better life… think of that child who has no future in our society now and yet he finds unparalleled joy in laying his hands upon a kite or playing with dustbin in a park riding it as if it were a horse….
The question we must then ask ourselves is whether in a civilized society (which we claim to be) can we condemn the unfortunate to live lives in perpetual “unfreedoms” (borrowing the term from Sen) given that they may find joy in small things (but which in no way can enable them to overcome their unfreedoms)? Lets not forget that men (and of course women) are human beings and not just a factor called labor used in the process of producing economic goods and services and its only the “accident of birth” which determines whether a man will be poor or rich in an overwhelming majority of cases in a real world society like India. (If you are considering of negating this then I implore you to impartially consider the probability of you being what you are today had you suffered from the “accident” of taking birth in any poor household. In fact at the risk of diverging from the current discussion, I would go to the extent of saying that the only difference between a feudal society and what we have today is that while in a feudal society there was legal sanction to the discrimination based on the accident of birth whereas now we have no such legal sanction but in 90-95% cases, our social and economic construct ensures such a discrimination prevails.)
So what can we do? The most compelling way I think is to “awaken” and “empower” people. Think of this… for 60 years since our independence the state had been providing all social goods to the poor (at least that was the declared aim). I am sure 450 years ago, Akbar would have been doing the same and some 2300 years ago, Asoka would have tried the same… yet none of it worked (or let me claim “could have” worked)… this is because the truth of all such efforts, however praiseworthy was that they were “acts of generosity by the state”. If you are a poor and the state is providing you with food, health and education, it was state’s “generosity”. It wasn’t your right… So if you happened to get nothing there was nothing which you could possibly do to redress the situation. However, if we are to really eliminate deprivation, it should be a matter of “right” for the poor to claim such benefits. Just because they happen to exist, they should have the right to have proper food, proper education and proper health… and if they don’t get it they could take action against the state…
MGNREGA (the national employment guarantee scheme) was implemented on this philosophy by making employment a right and not an act of generosity and dare I say it has been one of the most meaningful and successful schemes ever (true, there are defects but dude, we don’t live in a bookish world. In real world everything has defects).
-- Gaurav Agrawal
[This article is borrowed from Gaurav Agrawal's (IAS topper 2013) blog 'Khelo India', you can read original article with readers comments HERE ]

Saturday, November 29, 2014

RBI's payment bank norms to deepen financial inclusion

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday announced the final guidelines for setting up and small banks, to attract serious players and push financial inclusion. It allowed corporate houses, including telecom players and retail chains, to set up payment banks, and also gave them the option of forming joint ventures with commercial banks. But small banks will be a no-go area for companies, including promoters of large non-banking financial companies. Small banks will, however, not have any geographical restriction, as proposed in the draft norms.

Government-owned entities, such as India Post, have been allowed to set up payment banks, subject to their owner’s approval.

has asked interested parties to apply by January 16. The application will be screened by an external committee, which will send its recommendations to the central bank.

The final norms on payment banks, analysts said, were more liberal than the draft guidelines issued in July this year. Rishi Gupta, chief operating officer & executive director of FINO PayTech, said the guidelines had expanded the scope of activities and given clarity on providing third-party products and services, such as mutual funds, insurance and pension. This would open avenues to earn fee income. The guidelines have also allowed sending and receiving remittances from multiple banks & international remittances and permitted payment banks to function as business correspondents of other banks.

The guidelines have also simplified the promoter structure — listing is mandatory within three years of reaching a net worth of Rs 500 crore, unlike the requirement to dilute promoter stake to 40 per cent within three years as stated in the draft.

Besides, payment banks should have a leverage ratio of at least three per cent (its outside liabilities should not exceed 33.33 times its net worth). This was around five per cent earlier.

Payment banks are not allowed to lend and must have a cap of Rs 1 lakh on deposits which can be invested in government securities, but they will have access to the RBI’s liquidity windows. They will be required to invest at least 75 per cent of their ‘demand deposit balances’ in statutory liquidity ratio (SLR)-eligible government securities and treasury bills with maturity of up to one year. They can hold a maximum of 25 per cent in current and time/fixed deposits with other scheduled commercial banks for operational purposes and liquidity management.

Payment banks will be allowed to issue debit cards, but not credit cards, and can offer current and savings account deposits.

  • Have to use the word ‘Payment Bank’ in their name
  • Can accept demand deposits; that is, current deposits and savings bank deposits, from individuals, small businesses and other entities
  • Can hold a maximum balance of Rs 1 lakh per individual customer
  • Will be allowed to set up branches, ATMs, business correspondents
  • Will be allowed to issue debit cards and offer internet banking
  • Can accept a large pool of money to be remitted, but the balance should not exceed Rs 1 lakh at the end of the day
  • Can accept remittances to be sent to, or receive remittances from, multiple banks
  • Permitted to handle cross-border remittances in the nature of personal payments on the current account
  • Allowed to distribute mutual fund, insurance and pension products
  • Can undertake utility bill payments
  • No NRI deposits should be accepted
  • Cannot issue credit card
  • Not allowed to set up arms to undertake NBFC activities
  • Other financial and non-financial services of promoters should not be mingled with the working of payment banks

For payment banks, both cash-in and cash out services are allowed through various channels like branches, automated teller machines (ATMs) and business correspondents (BCs). Cash-in could be made through mobile banking and cash-out via point-of-sale terminals.

Initial capital requirement for payment banks, as well as small banks, have been set at Rs 100 crore. In case of the former, the promoter will have to retain a 40 per cent stake in the first five years.

For small banks, a promoter’s minimum initial contribution will be 40 per cent of the paid-up equity capital. If the initial shareholding is over 40 per cent, it has to be brought down to 40 per cent in five years. Further, the promoter’s stake should be brought down to 30 per cent within 10 years, and to 26 per cent within 12 years.

The cap on foreign shareholding has been kept in line with the existing rules for private-sector banks — at 74 per cent, with a minimum requirement of 26 per cent to be held by residents.

For small banks, the maximum loan size and investment limit exposure to single and group obligors has been restricted at 10 per cent and 15 per cent of its capital funds, respectively. Additionally, at least 50 per cent of their loan portfolio should constitute loans and advances of up to Rs 25 lakh, the RBI has said.

The central bank has also said that small banks can convert themselves into universal banks, though the transition would not be automatic; it will depend on the regulator’s approval.

The RBI has also allowed the promoter of a small bank to set up a payment bank. But banks of both types will have to be set up under a Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) structure.

“However, a promoter will not be granted licences for both universal bank and small bank, even if the proposal is to set those up under the NOFHC structure,” the RBI guidelines say.

Experts said more players would be interested in setting up small banks which liberated the scope of activity.

“Many players will now be interested in small banks as geographical restrictions proposed in the draft have been removed,” said Shinjini Kumar, leader (banking & capital markets), PwC India.

But large non-banking financial companies would still not be interested in setting up small banks, as they have to convert into banks. That would mean meeting reserve requirements, such as cash reserve and statutory liquidity ratios.

The banking regulator has indicated that applications will be invited on a continuous basis, after gaining experience from the present exercise.


India to sign TFA: positives and negatives

is all set to sign the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at WTO's special General Council (GC) meeting in Geneva today. The TFA aims at easing global customs rules for smoother and easier movement of goods across international borders. India vetoed signing the deal in July this year. However it seems to have agreed now that the government has reached an understanding with the US which has promised to support its demand for a permanent food 'Peace Clause' until a definitive solution to public stockholding schemes is achieved by the WTO. 

Here are the positives and negatives once India signs the TFA
1. Industry will save transaction costs that runs into billions of dollars for exporting their products in the international markets.
2. Indian exporters will be able to achieve greater access in some of the difficult markets like US, Europe, Japan & China that have stringent customs rules and regulations.
3. Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be the biggest beneficiaries as they will now be able to spend more on marketing their products than spending time and money on tedious paperwork that result in inordinate delays. 
1. India will lose a major bargaining power before it achieves a permanent solution on the food security issue. It is believed that once the developed countries obtain the TFA, they will not expedite talks on public stockholding issue, which is in fact India's main goal.
2. To have a permanent food security 'Peace Clause', India will have to adhere to some stringent riders to avail the provision. Farmers & civil society activists fear these stringent riders will result in disastrous consequences.
3. India's main demand of having a permanent solution to the food security issue might get delayed forever. Achieving a permanent solution to the food stockpile issue entails amendment of the  Agreement on Agriculture.

source :

WTO Trade Facilitation pact, food security signed

After almost 11 months of parleys, the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday signed the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) and agreed to India’s demand for a perpetual ‘peace clause’ till a final solution to the issue of food stockholding is found. The decisions were taken at a ‘special’ meeting of the (GC), the highest decision-making body after ministerial conferences.

Following tense negotiations and last-minute hiccups due to oppositions from Argentina and Pakistan, the GC adopted three main decisions — signing of the TFA protocol, extension of the ‘peace clause’ for an indefinite period and setting a deadline for the remaining Bali package commitments for poorer countries. “With Thursday’s decision, our chances of getting a permanent solution to the food stockholding issue gets a massive boost. Now we do not have to beg for it. We are now in a position to negotiate an optimum solution,” an official involved in the talks told Business Standard.

WTO had not issued an official statement till the time of going to press.

The breakthrough came after India and the US earlier this month reached an understating where the Americans assured support to India’s demand for a permanent ‘peace clause’ and, in turn, India agreed to sign the TFA, which it had vetoed in July.

The TFA, expected to infuse $1 trillion into the global economy and create 21 million jobs, will now be open for ratification by all 160 member countries. After that, it will be implemented by July 2015. “WTO has taken a critical step forward by breaking the impasse that had prevailed since July. I am pleased that the US was able to work with India and other WTO members to find an approach that preserved the letter and spirit of the package of decisions reached at last year’s Bali Ministerial Conference. With this win under WTO’s belt, we can again focus our efforts on revitalising the organisation’s core negotiating function,” said US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power at the Centre in May after a landslide victory, had vetoed adoption of the process that would have turned the TFA into a legally binding deal by July 31, the previously set deadline.

Since then, the government had been insisting on having a parallel agreement on public food stocks for its poor and marginal farmers.

  • Dec 7,’13: WTO 9th ministerial concludes in Bali. Members agree to sign TFA. India claims victory for achieving the ‘peace clause’ for a period of four years that will give it the freedom to provide WTO-prohibited subsidies to its poor and marginal farmers
  • February ‘14: July 31 fixed as deadline to sign TFA pact; to fully implement it by July 2015
  • July 31: WTO General Council suspended; India refuses to sign the TFA, demands a parallel agreement on food stockholding
  • Sep 29: Preparatory committee on trade facilitation meets; India stays firm on stand. US denies further meetings on TFA,  demanding a pact on along with TFA will entail collapse of entire Bali Package
  • Sep 30: PM Modi holds first meeting with US President Obama; both agree on achieving "next steps" in WTO talks
  • Oct 16: Trade Negotiations Committee meets; talks inconclusive
  • Nov 13: India claims to garner US’ support on its concern for food stockpiling
  • Nov 27: WTO ‘special’ General Council agrees to TFA implementation and food security ‘peace clause’

A permanent ‘peace clause’ insulates India and other developing countries with public stockholding programmes from challenges by other WTO members, even for violation of global rules on farm subsidies.

The so-called ‘peace clause’ also grants India the freedom to offer subsidies to its farmers without following any limit. The cap, according to WTO rules, is 10 per cent of the total production of the crops that are covered under the food stockholding programme.

At present, India offer subsidies in the form of ‘minimum support price’ for rice, wheat and cereals. However, the ‘peace clause’ does not come for free. India, along with other developing countries, have to adhere to some strict conditions to avail of the interim relief. The most important rider pertains to future food stockholding programmes, which would not be covered under this provision. In other words, any new food stockholding programme will have to follow WTO’s 10 per cent threshold.

Another condition is that countries following food stockholding programmes will have to ensure they do not distort trade and adversely affect similar schemes of other developing countries. Otherwise, the affected country will have to the option of appealing to the WTO dispute-settlement body.

Minister of State (independent charge) for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to make a statement on Friday.

--Nayanima Basu / Source :

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Ending | Review

Only reason to watch this film was ( even after critics declared it 'flop' ) its story. Its a story of a writer (best selling) who stop working coz he thought ki there is enough to enjoy so why should work! I thought, I ll gain something as writer but forgot that its a Krshna & Raj's film and they never add a single meaningful scene in their films.

Saif Ali Khan is in cool-guy avatar , is a single book wonder who is struggling to survive. Illeana D'cruz as new successful writer, who is enjoying her success. Govinda as typical bollywood hero, Ranvir Shorie as Biwi-se-Bachao character and Preity as Saif's ex GF, Kalki as Saif's current GF and Sif again as his alter ego Yogi. Overall cast is good and anyone can make a hit film from it except director duo. I don't know why they are here in film industry.

Illeana and Saif has common agent and they meet there. Saif gets new assignment as script writer for Govinda's film, hang out with Illeana and Ranvir and story goes on. Dialogue contain many urban dictionary words and few ma-bahen gali and sometimes make you laugh and sometimes you feel- why the fuck is gali is here.

Music is ok ok. None of the song will remain in your mind for so long.

Saif, Govinda and Ranvir did well, Illeana is good and looked bful. Preity is as always justified her small character.

Youth : The demographic challenge

The rhetoric on the capacity of countries to reap the so-called demographic dividend cannot mask the more complex reality of a not-so-young world in 2014, and non-uniform patterns of growth. About a quarter of the world’s population — 1.8 billion — is in the age-group of 10-24 years, according to the latest United Nations Population Fund report. In 1950, the proportion was higher, at almost a third of the global total, at 721 million. The 10-24 age segment has thus declined overall, while it has more than doubled in absolute terms during the period. This means that in theory, people in this age bracket, their number larger than China’s population, can hope to live longer, be better fed and educated, do decent jobs and earn adequate incomes. In concrete terms, this segment would swell the share of the working-age population — those between 15 and 64 years — over the next few decades. But here is the catch. Nine out of ten people, or 89 per cent, in the 10-24 age-group live in less developed countries, says the UNFPA report. Most people who are alive today are below 30 years of age. In 17 states, 15 of them from sub-Saharan Africa, one half of the population is under 18 years. One in three girls in the developing world is married before reaching 18, raising the risk of early and perhaps unintended motherhood among children and hampering the realisation of their full potential. One in seven HIV infections occur during adolescence.

According to the World Bank, last year there were 100 dependents (those below 15 years and above 64 years) for every 100 people in the working age in Angola. The ratio was even higher, at 103, for Chad; for other states in the conflict zones of sub-Saharan Africa, the figures were in the 80s and more. Whereas India’s age-dependency ratio has ranged in the 50s per 100 working population between 2010 and 2013, China has stayed in the mid-30s during the corresponding period. India’s higher ratio underscores the extent to which social protection measures would have to be strengthened for both the components to ease their mutual interdependence and enhance the quality of life. Alongside measures to boost growth and attract multinational corporations in the manufacturing and services sectors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must take up massive public-funded programmes in basic education, health care and vocational training, with a thrust on building a clean economy. Only then could the current younger age profile of the population prove advantageous. The demographic dividend refers to the potential among countries to increase economic growth by taking advantage of the changing age structure in the population. Clearly, a great deal remains to be done to realise this potential.


Before the 'second generation reforms’ / Pratap Bhanu Mehta

As expectations for reform soar, it is important to remind ourselves of the nature and magnitude of the challenge. There is much talk about second-generation reforms. But as one smart government official quipped: Forget second-generation reforms, India needs minus-one generation reforms. We don’t even know what we are facing. Political stability, the RBI’s determined effort to fight inflation (despite big business engaging in ideological obfuscation) and changing international circumstances have altered the mood. But the underlying rot is deep. Its surface has yet to be scratched. Too much energy is being expended on reforms that are besides the point, rather than on credible fundamentals.
Just imagine this. Structural regulatory uncertainty continues to affect about a quarter of India’s economy in sectors like mining, natural resources, any investment involving land. This has large indirect effects. There is always some uncertainty and dispute in an economy. But structural regulatory uncertainty basically means that a pricing mechanism has irrevocably broken down. You can have either a market mechanism or an administered price mechanism. The problem is that we do not have either that is credible.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right to say in Australia that reform by stealth does not work. What it ended up creating was institutions that had neither the old certainties of state-set prices in areas like coal, nor fully developed markets. Add to this the fact that the legal landscape has now become incredibly complicated: The coal judgment, for example, does not just raise questions about the method of giving mining licences; it has implications for federalism and who should be issuing them. But we underestimate this fact. The regulatory web is now so tangled that you don’t quite know what will happen if you pull at one string. This history of regulatory reform in India, with a few exceptions, has ended up muddying the landscape rather than clarifying it.
Two of the most critical sectors for the economy, health and education, exhibit these characteristics. The single biggest mistake of the right to education, for instance, was to muddy the distinction between public and private. Instead of saying let the public do its job and the private its function, we now have a regulatory system than distorts both irretrievably. And now it is proving near impossible to set the system right. The health sector is a combination of laissez faire and half-baked regulatory interventions. And each attempt to reform the system makes it more vulnerable. There is no reliable measure of inflation in these two sectors either, which probably has a greater effect on the rest of the economy than we realise.
All factors of production still face pricing and structural uncertainty. Add to this the quiet chaos in the financial system. The Indian banking system was not good at assessing projects or pricing risk. Or rather, what it was good at was assessing risk in the context of a closed loop of crony capitalism, where you could count on renegotiated contracts, unscrutinised gold-plating and government patronage. But there are two problems. The first is whether there will be a banking culture that can price risk and promote innovation. The jury is out on this one. The second is this: The lines of credit look more like electricity wires in a standard Indian city — so tangled that you don’t know what you will short circuit if you try and straighten and clean them up.
What will be needed for reforms under the circumstances of such regulatory mess? The first thing is a war against casualness. The besetting sin of government now is casualness more than venality. It thinks it can wing regulatory reform. The finance minister glibly concedes that the land acquisition bill was passed in a moment of populist casualness. Is there any evidence that any proposed reforms to this act will not also be equally casual in the other direction? After all, it is the same lot now trying to reverse course.
The government is underestimating the degree to which, some exceptions apart, the bureaucracy has atrophied — to the point that you cannot expect nuance or thoroughness from most departments. The one thing you could count on the IAS for — saving you from legal trouble — is no longer a virtue that exists. We don’t see the support scaffolding in place. Second, in none of these sectors is there a clear and precise articulation with appropriate nuance of the problem you are trying to fix. This is especially so in the land debate, where we are pretending as if we fully understand what we are trying to fix.
There is also a corresponding casualness in talk of taxes, deficits and so forth. Containing deficits is important. But you cannot restore growth dynamism without increased public investment. There is a deep disjuncture between the finance minister’s talk of lowering tax burdens and tight fiscal deficits on one hand, and the prime minister’s infrastructure dreams on the other. The government has not made a credible case for how it proposes to square the circle. More public investment in a broken system of rules creates its own problems, but the intellectual groundwork for it needs to be done.
The second challenge in this. Unfortunately, economies don’t come with a clean slate. There are too many sunk costs in different sectors. And creating new competencies takes time. Under such circumstances, the path to a new equilibrium is messy: it often involves cutting deals so that the costs of the new path are minimised. Banks will have to sit down with those in their debt and, in many cases, cut deals. Your problem is this: Will the forms of legal, political and public scrutiny allow for some sensible deals or will these get stuck in the logjam of recrimination? Which bankers will feel empowered to sign on them?
Tocqueville’s warning, that governments feel vulnerable when they try to reform, is still apt. Crafting reform requires recognising the depth of the rot. But rather than creating a climate for nuance, the depth of the rot often emboldens calls for more of a slash-and-burn exercise, especially when the state has low credibility. This is why governments still find it hard to come clean. After Modi’s call, what is preventing the government from producing an analytically sound, honest and credible white paper on the rot in several sectors — infrastructure, power, banking, credit, possibly land, and even the growth framework? Reform by stealth is not easy to give up in a system where you can be, for good reason, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express’ 

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lost in Translation (2003) | Short Review

Lost In Translation film is story of two american characters lost  in alien Japanese culture. But in addition, they are lost in their own lives and relationship. This leads to their blossoming friendship and growing connection with one other.

Bob Harris an aging actor, married for 25 years came to Tokyo to shoot advertisement for a good deal. Charlotte is just-graduated young wife of a celebrity photographer confused about her future. Both are alien to Japanese culture. They both meet in hotel bar and this leads to friendship. Bored due to his work, accepting offer from Charlotte, Harris spend quality time with Charlotte and her local friends. Many events happens and the affection between central characters increases. In the end Harris left from Tokyo sharing a kiss with Charlotte. (Watch it for the full story:P)

Film is directed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of very famous Francis Coppola (Director of The Godfather) and got Academy nomination for direction and won for original screenplay. So, screenplay is good, direction is also good. Music is the thing runs with the story. Some songs are very bful like 'too young', 'alone in Kyoto' 'are you awake?' Some scene from monastery, Kyoto and Harris-Charlotte kiss scene are bful and memorable.

This time I thought of writing a long review but this is kind of film where you end with explaining story.... so, keeping it simple ending here. Haan, Scarlett Johanssons as Charlotte looked very bful and Harris has a very good sense of humour.

Watch if you want to watch a simple-go story. for Sofia's direction. for Bill Murray's acting (as Harris).

Do not watch if you do not like simple-go stories. 

My Rating: 84%

SAARC, its future and India / C. Raja Mohan

For all its trappings of a multilateral organisation, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, whose leaders are gathering in Kathmandu this week, is only an aggregation of India’s bilateral relations with its neighbours. This is the reason why the world is focusing on what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to offer during the first Saarc summit that he is attending.
The PM had raised expectations that India would take the leadership of the region by his surprise invitation to all the Saarc leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony in May. His visits to Bhutan and Nepal have reinforced those hopes. Modi, however, has a problem. He has inherited a dysfunctional Saarc, whose failures are rooted in geography and history.
As the largest country located at the heart of the subcontinent, India has borders with all its neighbours. Only two other members, Pakistan and Afghanistan, have a border with each other. It is no big surprise, then, that most of the regional trade is actually bilateral trade between India and its neighbours. So are the problems that come from a common border.
That takes us to the history of these frontiers. The partition of the subcontinent created new borders and territorial disputes within the subcontinent. Nearly seven decades later, India does not have settled borders with either Pakistan or Bangladesh. In the northwest, Kabul does not accept Islamabad’s claims that the Durand Line drawn by the British Raj between undivided India and the subcontinent at the end of the 19th century is the legitimate boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Territorial disputes would not have mattered if India and its neighbours had built open economies. Instead, they all turned to state socialism that de-emphasised trade and connectivity. As a consequence, what was an integrated economic space under the Raj broke up into several inward-oriented markets.
The global compulsions for economic reform in the early 1990s had also set the stage for regional integration. If New Delhi was a hesitant reformer at home, it has been equally tentative in its efforts to rewrite the economic map of the region. The few initiatives that India has taken in Saarc in recent years have, however, run into political problems.
This unfortunate situation is unlikely to change at the Kathmandu summit. For example, it is not yet clear if Pakistan is ready to sign the regional agreements on rail, road and energy connectivity that have been drafted for the Kathmandu summit. Even if it signs them, it is by no means guaranteed that Islamabad will implement them. The experience of the South Asian free trade agreement that Pakistan was unwilling to extend to India is a case in point. Pakistan’s argument is simple: as long as it has political problems with India, it will not let regional economic integration proceed.
The merits of this argument are for the Pakistanis to decide. Whether Delhi agrees with the Pakistani argument or not, it must come to terms with it. Where does that leave the PM who has talked ambitiously about trade and connectivity for the subcontinent?
Modi has three options. The first is to focus on a two-speed Saarc. As Delhi waits for better relations with Pakistan, it could, in the interim, move towards subregional cooperation. In the east, India can take steps to foster integration with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. In the south, it can construct deeper links with the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
The second is to build on transregional institutions like the BIMSTEC, which connects the eastern subcontinent with parts of Southeast Asia or join Chinese Silk Road initiatives that hope to connect different parts of the subcontinent with various regions of China.
While India can do much on the first and second, it is the third way that offers Modi the greatest opportunity — unilateral action. Modi, for example, has already proposed, unilaterally, to build a Saarc satellite for use by its neighbours.
Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran has suggested that Modi could open India’s market for goods produced in the neighbouring countries by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers and improving trade facilitation. Delhi could also consider transit to its neighbours — for instance, letting in overland trade between Bangladesh on the one hand and Nepal and Bhutan on the other. Modi can also announce unilateral visa liberalisation.
Instead of negotiating the setting up of a Saarc bank, Modi could unveil an Indian financial facility for liberal lending to transborder connectivity projects in the subcontinent. If he can break from Delhi’s old mindset, a strategy of positive unilateralism would allow Modi to push the subcontinent a little faster towards long overdue regional integration.

The writer is a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi and a contributing editor for ‘The Indian Express’

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Police Reforms/ Maja Daruwala

The annual conference of the directors general of police will be held at the end of this month in Guwahati. Organised by the Intelligence Bureau, and not by the police establishment, the conference concentrates on insurgency and national security, rather than on everyday policing of the ordinary population, which should be a primary concern. Still, these conferences are rare moments when men of power and responsibility — there are few women in high police positions — can deliberate collectively. This time, a new prime minister will be putting his stamp on the occasion.
It is time the political and police leadership had a sincere conversation on what is holding back reform. It is time to think about the relationship between the police and the political executive: how best to design it so that one does not impinge or enervate the other. The new and improved Model Police Bill, put forward by the Soli Sorabjee Committee, set up by the ministry of home affairs, offers a solution to this issue. It is time to lay out what the common principles of policing in a democracy should be. It cannot be punishment inflicted by force on behalf of the ruling regime.
Policing must be a service that is essential to the whole population: efficient, responsive, law-abiding and accountable. The obsession with status, postings and promotions should give way to a greater emphasis on improving police stations and chowkies. These are the basic and most important service units, and are closest to the population.
There must be fundamental changes in recruitment practices and training curricula so as to bring in people and attitudes better suited to a new kind of policing. Many individual officers have generated good practices. But they remain experimental and ad hoc, given the presence of risk-averse leaderships and mean considerations of territoriality and credit.
Actionable plans with set timetables must be put in place to improve diversity across the police establishment. The force should no longer be imaged as the preserve of machismo. This has brought no glory. It is time to detail how the force means to adapt its internal culture and attitudes to accommodate and mainstream women. With the national average of women in the police force at about 7 per cent, no one can claim the force is gender friendly or “inclusive”. It is useless to blame women for not joining. The police must examine why it is so unwelcoming to about half of the country’s workforce.
The excuse that the British left behind militaristic policing has worn thin after 67 years. We need to own up to the fact that the leadership is comfortable with this design and has perpetuated its feudalism. The police needs to stop passing the buck for sub-standard service to interfering politicians, scheming bureaucrats and a dilatory judiciary.
There are problems whose solutions lie in the hands of the police leadership and not of any outside agency: for instance, accountability. It is imperative to revamp internal systems of accountability, seen as secretive, unfair and patronage-driven, and put in place systems that distinguish between disciplinary breaches, poor service delivery and outright criminality. But the police must also stop being bitter about external mechanisms of accountability like courts, human rights commissions and the new police complaints authorities. The collective leadership might want to analyse why they were deemed necessary in the first place.
The state, too, must help the police transform from a state force to essential public service, equipping it with more personnel, money and infrastructure but also demanding the strictest accountability. The PM has a penchant for using technology as a solution. It can aid better policing but it can’t change sub-cultures. In fact, increased capabilities within arrogant sub-cultures can increase their exploitive nature. Modernisation without the assurance of constitutional legality is the sure road to perdition. Today we are well on that road.
Across states, police establishments are in a parlous state. Their dubious methods — to say the least — do not even have the virtue of efficiency and, in the end, they fail in their primary duty of bringing the guilty to justice and protecting the rights of the innocent. In their defence, it must be said that the police are ill cared for by the regimes they serve.
The PM has emphasised the need to sweep the country clean of the corrupt, the ineffective, the apathetic. Recently, he was more specific about the “how” of change, calling for reforms to be “people-driven” and insulated from politics. Hopefully, the PM will stick to this credo and promote openness and wide consultation with people on root and branch reform.
He will be speaking with the authority of a government that has a commanding majority in the Centre. Today, many of the states also wear his colours. His words will have huge influence on shaping police deeds in days to come. Police behaviour with our sovereign people will be a significant marker of the ethics and legitimacy of the Modi administration, when its history comes to be written.

The writer is director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mulholland Drive (2001) | Short Review

Some films need to watch more than one to understand them, Mulholland Drive is one of those. A experimental mystery-film by Director David Lynch Mulholland Drive have Naomi 
watts as main lead. Music is a plus point as director himself has a good taste of music and screenplay is a plus point, may be coz of interest of director in literature. 

Story starts with and accident at Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles with character (Harring) survived from accident but lost her memory...... rest of the story im not telling here coz anyone can read from Wikipedia.....

Last half an hour of film is crucial.... you need to watch carefully to understand the story. The scene in opera is little pakau still need to watch... its a main part of the story... first i skipped it and later realized its importance.

Few scenes are very good in the film... the innocence on Watts's face is watchable. She looked bful as usual.

The first film i watched starring Laura Harring. She is bful and justified her character. 

Watch if you want to watch a different film. for Naomi Watts.

Do not watch if you don't want to take  headache of understanding story or if you don't like a mystery film. 

My Rating 83%

Human Trafficking

One in three human trafficking victims is a child, most victims are female, and traffickers operate with wide impunity, the United Nations said Monday in a report on modern-day slavery.
The 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, also found that the proportion of children among victims appeared to be rising. Its first report, in 2012, said the proportion had been closer to one in four.
In some regions, like Africa and the Middle East, the new report said, two out of three victims are children.
The office, based in Vienna, was authorized by the General Assembly in 2010 to collect information and publish a global report on trafficking every two years.
Other indicators in the 2014 report pointed to growth in the buying and selling of humans despite laws passed in an increasing number of countries to toughen penalties.
The report was issued against the backdrop of resilient rage over child trafficking, fueled by the mass abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls seven months ago by Islamist militants, who brazenly declared they had sold the girls as slaves and brides in forced marriages.
The militant group, Boko Haram, showed further contempt for the international anger over the mass abduction by seizing more young women last month.
While sexual exploitation remains the predominant reason for trafficking, victims are also increasingly being used for forced labor, the United Nations report said.
Other statistics in the report showed that girls account for two out of every three child victims, and that together with adult women, account for 70 percent of all trafficking victims.
The report found that trafficking was a problem all over the world, with at least 152 countries of origin and 124 countries of destination. More than 6 in 10 victims have been transported across at least one national border, it said.
“Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking,” Yury Fedotov, the executive director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a statement announcing the report’s release.
He also cautioned that the report was based only on known cases, while trafficking operates in the shadows. “It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse” than the statistics in the report, he said.
Even though traffickers do not conduct their business openly, the report said, they have little fear of prosecution because many countries do not enforce their laws. Forty percent of the world’s countries have recorded few or no convictions.
“The exploitation of one human being by another is the basest crime,” the report begins. “And yet, trafficking in persons remains all too common, with all too few consequences for the perpetrators.”

Jan Dhan: Inclusion scheme excludes most

The government has started applying exclusion principles to its inclusion scheme, the Pradhan Mantri (PMJDY). The life cover of Rs 30,000 announced by Prime Minister for all those opening a  under the scheme will now exclude many.

The has put several riders for defining one's eligibility for a under PMJDY. In the guidelines issued to banks last week, the ministry said the insurance would be provided only to one person in a family for accounts opened between August 15, 2014, and January 26, 2015.

Those filing income tax returns, serving and retired central and state government employees, employees of central and state public sector entities, and people already covered under the have been excluded. The families of the individuals in all these categories will also be ineligible for it.

"The scheme aims to provide security to those families who cannot afford life insurance, namely the urban poor and the rural poor, who are not covered under any social security scheme," the finance ministry said, in the guidelines reviewed by Business Standard.

The life cover will initially be only for five years and provided to the head of the family or an earning member in the age group of 15-59 years. The person will be excluded from the life insurance scheme after turning 60. So, someone who opted for it at the age of 59 will be covered only for one year.

The account holder should also have an active (used at least once in 45 days) and a biometric card linked to the account to get the benefit of the life cover.

"Those who already have a life cover from some other scheme will have to choose between the existing one and the one under PMJDY," said a finance ministry official, asking not to be named.
Since accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh, along with a RuPay debit card, was available even before the launch of the scheme and would be effective only up to March 31, 2015 (its extension will be reviewed later), life insurance and credit facility were the two main attractions of PMJDY. Absence of a life cover might make the scheme unattractive to many and hurt the financial inclusion drive.

Launching the scheme on August 28, the prime minister had set a target of taking banking to 75 million households by January 26, 2015. Although 78 million accounts have already been opened, 20 per cent of households are still unbanked. Many people who already had an account opened another one. Only 47 million of these account holders have a RuPay card and 59 million accounts have zero balance.

"Now, only the families which are truly eligible for the scheme will get the benefit," said a member of the State Level Bankers Committee, looking at the rollout of the scheme in a western state.

Restricting the scope of the scheme will reduce the burden on the exchequer. Life Insurance Corporation of India will create a fund for life coverage with an initial corpus of Rs 100 crore from the Social Security Fund of the Centre. It will be replenished by the government from time to time within the stipulated premium amount to meet the outgo and administrative expenses.

Earlier, the government had said the accidental insurance cover and life cover will be available to all account holders. Problems have started surfacing on the accidental insurance front, too. Although the insurance programme had come into effect from April 1, 2014, claims have shot up after the launch of and the issue has been raised with the finance ministry as the insurers did not anticipate such high claims.

"People who got the RuPay card as part of PMJDY have started filing accident insurance claims. We are awaiting more clarity from the finance ministry," said the person mentioned above. The RuPay card is being given free of cost to the customer and the National Payments Corporation of India pays the premium of Rs 0.47 per card to HDFC Ergo. It can be given to any account holder and every member of a family. A person who is already having a bank account with any bank just needs to get issued a RuPay card in his existing account to get the benefit of insurance.

-- Vrishti Beniwal / Source :

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Prometheus (2012) | Short Review

In 2012 I thought of watching this film, when it was over hyped and people watched it again and again but after almost 27 months I got the chance to watch it. Prometheus is some kind of different film for Indians but a normal sci-fi for people there is USA. I don't understand why people  (at least Hollywood) there searching for origin of HUMAN, even Darwin 150 years back already said, we are derived from monkeys. This is one of same kind of story where Human in future (in 2089) found some evidence in Scotland and by logic combined it with approx same findings from other places of ancient civilizations got result that human came from a planet of another solar system having same conditions like earth! Finally in 2090s they reach that planet with one extra-smart human-like robot ( Michael Fassbender as David ). This was a privately funded mission by an about-to-die old billionaire Mr. Vickers who supposed to be dead.

So many things happened on that planet to run  the story ( like aliens DNA matched 100% from human! ) and finally they found that one alien is alive inside 'tomb'. Now surprisingly people found that, Mr. Vickers is alive and came here to get more life by requesting it from alien (So, It was a avarice of a billionaire to buy more years!). Atleast lead scientist of mission Ms. Shaw had logical query- 'Why they created us?' 

Story ends at killing that alien with 'tomb' (that was a plane actually), because they got to know ki alien's plan was to kill earth! Shaw revived injured robot and flied to aliens-real-land with another query- 'Why first they created than want to destroy us?' with possibility of another part.

So, there is story in the film but lacks in logic. As usual they came with good graphics and i think there would be good 3D effects. Music is average script is normal. 

Overall a watchable film at least for US kids coz they don't have fictions like Ramayana, Mahabharata or Jatakas.

Watch For Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender

Do not watch if you are fed up of alien-formula of Hollywood.

My Rating 74%

The soldier as state actor /Vasundhara Sirnate

In the aftermath of the shooting of two young Kashmiri men by the Army on November 3, it is imperative to draw attention to the conditions of governance that control the everyday lives of millions of citizens. In several parts of India — the Northeastern States, Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh — the coercive arm of the state is also tasked with the creation of conditions under which civilian governance can proceed. This has not been perfectly achieved.
Since 2008, I have been researching India’s counterinsurgency campaigns in the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and the Maoist belt in Central India, particularly Chhattisgarh. In 2011, I spent a few months in Chhattisgarh. I recall here part of an interview with a Border Security Force (BSF) officer stationed in Bhilai, Durg district. The officer said, “We [the BSF] have been providing security for about one year. In this one year, there has been no development work. [The] State government has not undertaken one project. So now the BSF is doing civic action. We are providing resources. We have been distributing medicines, clothes, essentials, food, blankets, seeds for farming, utensils, sports items to children, school supplies. We have even given local panchayats and tribal leaders TV sets and DTH [direct to home] facilities. They need to have some information about the outside world … We have been providing security to the contractors, saying now get the work done. But no development has happened. We provide security, but no one carries out the job. This is the problem with our system. The Naxals are fighting this system. Their final target is the politician.”
Layering of roles
During a visit to Kashmir in September 2014, I found ‘Sadbhavna’ schools set up by the Indian military around the Line of Control (LoC) in villages like Dawar in Gurez sector, which are poor and lack much infrastructure. In an attempt to “win the hearts and minds” of people, by following U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, the Indian Army had launched in the late 1990s “Operation Sadbhavna” (Goodwill) that is aimed at providing health services, undertaking women’s empowerment, operating schools under asbestos roofs, and, providing relief and rehabilitation.
What these accounts reveal is a layering of roles for the coercive state apparatus.
Schools and medicine aside, these are also the same state actors that possess the power to barge into local houses at will, arrest or kill people in fake encounters, impose curfews, order crackdowns and commit sexual offences against women with impunity. This is all done in the name of counterinsurgency. I argue here that in conflict-ridden areas of India, governance has increasingly come to be seen through the lens of the counterinsurgency paradigm. These are abnormal conditions of governance that I call garrison governance.
Garrison governance is governance conducted under the protection of the coercive arm of the state. The logic that underpins garrison governance rests on an assumption that without the presence of soldiers, normal state institutions will be severely crippled in their everyday functioning because of the threat of anti-state groups operating in the region.
Garrison governance is the enmeshment of the bureaucratic with the coercive. This leads to a governance outcome that privileges the everyday coercive over the bureaucratic avatar of the state. This code switching of roles that the Army and paramilitary play, also creates various levels of cognitive dissonance on the ground among locals. The uniformed state actor is not only creating the conditions for governance, but is also governing, while the regular bureaucrats are missing or incapable of governing. Local political representatives appear with their political party paraphernalia around election time and then disappear. The only constant state actor in such areas is the uniformed soldier from one of the various paramilitary forces, the Army or the police.
Uniformed actors
The Indian state has had to invest heavily in a security apparatus to facilitate incorporation and control of dissenting populations. But how did the Indian state reach this point? I argue here that a combination of factors has precipitated garrison governance. India had to become a counterinsurgent state along with becoming an independent democracy. Because the police forces were not adequate to address hostile rebel groups in the Northeast in the 1950s and 1960s and the local State’s bureaucratic apparatuses were underdeveloped at the time, the state relied heavily on the military and on special regiments like the Assam Rifles and Manipur Rifles, leading to an early institutionalisation of garrison governance. This over time became path-dependent, i.e., it was easier to allow garrison governance in the hands of uniformed actors to continue, than to actually try to find political solutions to persistent problems of insurgency. Political solutions only came with regard to Mizoram and, to a limited extent, in Tripura with the Tripura National Volunteers and in Bodoland. Several other ceasefires or “Suspension of Operations” agreements with insurgent groups in the northeast have only reduced levels of violence against the Army, but not between insurgent groups and have also not contained violence by the Army against unarmed locals.
However, Army, police and paramilitary officers that I have interviewed over the last seven years express much displeasure with the Central state. One officer in particular said that the Army was sent in to control populations and directives that came from the Home Ministry were almost never clear. So, he said, the Army “just does what it is trained to do”. A high-ranking official similarly suggested that in the end, all solutions would have to be political. The Army, he said, was only stabilising certain areas and helping in conducting elections.
Rights violations
The formula for garrison governance is rather simple — boots on the ground combined with some feel-good handouts. This obfuscates a larger architecture of oppression. Soldiers are still protected by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, which has led to several reported incidents of human rights violations and sexual assault. The landscape is dotted with armed soldiers and the police; civilian movement is filtered and controlled in shopping districts and government offices, curfews and crackdowns are imposed at the slightest suggestion of dissent, and phone tapping is common. An Intelligence Bureau official stationed in Kashmir told me that they were tapping 10 lakh phones in Kashmir alone by 2014. In the last two decades, most Governors of Northeastern States have been former military generals.
Even the police in places like Kashmir have become more militarised. Assault rifles have replaced traditional lathis, which are now deemed insufficient for crowd control. Alongside this, Special Police Officers are being locally recruited, trained and deployed in Kashmir. Visitors to certain States are often visited by the special branch of the State police, which can, at will, investigate individuals and their intentions for being in the State. Security forces routinely stop inter-State buses and local buses for spot checks. Travelling in trains in the Northeast means being willing to open up your baggage to the officials of the Railway Protection Force.
During election time, troop deployment doubles across the Northeast. At a higher level, General Officers Commanding (GOCs) in these States have a high degree of power in maintaining counterinsurgency strategy. As reported by one bureaucrat deployed in Manipur in 2011, the GOC and the Chief Minister of Manipur often got into disagreements about what needed to be done about the hill tribes. Often the GOC won.
In spite of six decades of counterinsurgency, insurgencies in India have thrived. I have personally counted at least 196 insurgent groups since 1950 in India, many of which are still active. It is clear that a strategy meant to secure sovereignty has instead led to a permanent state of exception in some areas, where the character of governance itself is at odds with democratic norms since the power of elected representatives and bureaucrats is circumscribed by and enabled only at the behest of soldiers. Some constitutional rights of people stand suspended under such governance because non-insurgent, democratic political dissent has also come to be seen as a form of anti-state activity. Under such conditions, it is vital to reopen a debate into India’s counterinsurgency strategies in different areas and start thinking about political settlements to insurgencies.
(Vasundhara Sirnate is the Chief Coordinator of Research at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy.)

[ Source: The Hindu ]