Sunday, April 06, 2008

China's population policy: Blessing or Nemesis

China, home to the world’s largest population has done a commendable job in reining its once alarming population crisis through concerted efforts to promote holistic family planning and enhancing the quality of health & education of its people. A two fold reduction in birth rate, a four fold reduction in natural growth rate, implementation of a 9 year compulsory education program leading to marked improvements in literacy, universal access to the public health ystem, emancipation of women on professional and social fronts, flexible schemes to support the retired and the aged together with enhanced awareness and international endorsement of the Population and Family planning program are some of the highlights of China’s untiring efforts towards solving the problem of population and development.
With the advent of the 21st century, China is gearing up to formalize a set of targets & principles and is charting a plan of action augmented by guarantee measures to sustain its positive drive to control population while improving the quality of life in general. Important targets include sustainable development to improve the economic conditions of people, setting goals to limit population and maternal / infant mortality rates, close coordination between the legal, educational, economic and administrative frameworks to help facilitate the better utilization of resources and thus result in anthropocentric form of development. The important steps to achieve the set targets include promoting family planning with emphasis on information, education and communication along with developing industries related to reproductive health, disseminating knowledge on child bearing and caring, better health education among farmers and women, continuation of the 9 year compulsory education program to expand to middle school and higher learning, raising the people’s ideological and moral standards, safeguarding children’ and women’s rights in the social, political and the cultural spheres, optimizing labor resources, steps to reduce poverty in the rural and urban areas, providing better facilities to the elderly and improving the ecological environment to alleviate human settlement. An improved legal system, better incentives to promote family planning, intense publicity and education, developing a robust scientific and technological backbone, better policies to improve money input and actively involving the non governmental and mass organizations are some of the guarantee measures planned.
While China’s population and development policy is all set to meet with stellar success given the disciplined approach that is being taken I would like to draw your attention to the mainstay of today’s Chinese economy. Cost effective manufacturing due to availability of cheap labor fulfilling the needs of the cost-conscious western world forms the back bone of China’s remarkable economic growth. The current population and development policy is bound to have a two pronged effect on the Chinese economy.
1. Firstly China is bound to face a noticeable shortage of manpower with the proportion of youth dropping consistently over the next 25 years vis-à-vis other countries like India. This may result in China faltering on its core-competency of “abundant” low-cost labor.
2. Secondly the reduction in population coupled with the marked improvements in the quality of people’s life will increase the bargaining power of its labor force which over time will no longer be willing to settle for the “low wages” it traditionally earned. This will lend another blow to the China’s ability to satiate the low-cost production aspirations of the world which is currently out-sourcing its manufacturing to China thereby weakening China’s strong position in the manufacturing domain. One can already notice such effects in the Indian BPO industry which offlate has come under a lot of pressure
due to cheaper alternatives mushrooming in the Philippines and Eastern Europe.
3. This could further snowball into an all round increase in prices of manufactured goods the world over as the goods will no longer enjoy the benefits of cheap labor thereby negatively impact all the consumers.
While undoubtedly the efficacy of China’s population and development policy is well on track to achieve its desired objectives, only time will tell if it proves a blessing or a nemesis to the Chinese and the World economies in the long run.

A Usual Love Story - Concluding Part

( This story wan't written by me... found it somewhere in the blogosphere... Sorry for not quoting the reference )
I spent a sleepless night thinking about all the events that had happened between me and her wishing that my mom had not taken up this topic.The time to visit her place came sooner than expected and we drove to her place at around 6 in the evening. Her father greeted us at the doorway and I must say that I liked him at once. He seemed really cool..not bad for a first impression!!! We were ushered inside and my parents were happily chatting with their prospective samdhis. I started getting fidgetty noticing which the girls mother called her out...Anu...pls bring something to drink for them.I could hear her footsteps as she walked into the room and my heart skipped a beat hearing each of her steps. I just couldnt bear the suspense anymore and I put the head down prompting some friendly badinage from the people around...the girls mother had a ball teasing me saying..."Tum to dulhan se bhi zyaada sharmaa rahe ho bete!!!"She came close to me and said..."Chai lejiye!!!"

I knew it. The same voice....which had haunted me all these years...I looked up only to see her right in front of me. I looked up slowly to see her staring at the floor. The same girl whom I really loved and the one who rejected me was right in front of my prospective wife!!!What a situation to be in.Not even once did he look at me. I had a doubt whether she knew it was me all along. There were lots of questions in my mind and lots of thoughts which were floating inside and on top of it, the elders yakking around was not helping my cause.Fortunately, the girls father noticed it and said..."Beta...akele mein baat karna chahte ho??To sharmaate kyun ho??Waise hum oldies ke beech mein tum log to bore ho jaaoge :-)...VenkateshJi, you were telling me that you have an interest in gardening right!!I have a small terrace garden and at this time, the breeze is also good. Why dont we go there...and let these youngsters talk what they want...(winking at me)!!!! They immediately left us alone to do all the talking...and now was my chance again. WE sat opposite each other without saying a word until I said "How are you Ananya?"

Ananya:"FIne Vivek...its been a long time."

Me:"Yeah...did you expect me to be your prospective groom once you heard what your parents said?You didnt seem to recognize me at all"
Ananya:"Dont be silly!!!Of course I knew all along that it was you. And what do you expect me to say in front of everyone...Hi Vivek how are you...abhi tak tum mujhe bhoole nahi or what??"

Me:"Sorry for putting you in such an uncomfortable situation. IF I had known it was you, I would not have come."
Ananya:"Why do you say so?"

Me:"IF you had really wanted to marry me, you wouldnt have rejected me then."

Ananya:"Vivek, why dont you understand??Things were really different then. I didnt want to get committed at all. I wanted to achieve something in my life. I wanted to be independent and prove something to the world..I never said that I didnt like you know how much I missed talking to you when you were avoiding me?Do you know how much I wanted to tell you that I really loved you...??" Tears were streaming down her cheeks. In a flash I forgot everything and I was by her side once again.
ME:"You know Anu...seeing you after such a long time, I feel really nice. But I need to think about this now...I am really confused and right now, all this is too much for me...I will get back to you soon".

Ananya:"I totally understand..I will wait for your answer."

We left her place after having dinner. I spent the whole night thinking about her and the events which took place at her house."Lots of negative thoughts also flew by.."How can someone who rejected you without thinking now suddenly come up and say that she loves you...??She broke my heart...and now...wants to make amends...does she love me??But who cares yaar...the problem is that I still love her."The final thought settled it all and I
slept in peace having made my decision.

The next day, I called her up and asked her to come to cafe coffee day in the evening. And when she came, I made sure that she saw the most beautiful sight ever in her life. I had decorated every corner of coffee day with red roses with each one having her name on it. And just like college days, I went down on one knee, pulled out a rose from my pocket and repeated the same words. Her emotions took over and she hugged me as if she was never going to see me again.

We conveyed our approval to our respective parents and immediately got engaged. Wedding preparations were going on when Ananya's parents invited us over for dinner. I sat opposite to her enjoying my view and my dinner when her father popped up a shocker...!!"So did you propose to my daughter in college?" We were speechless. I immediately looked at her and she seemed equally puzzled. I looked at my parents and they were smiling too...Suddenly everything dawned on us. This wasnt a co-incidence at all. Both the parents knew this beforehand and therefore arranged our marriage!!!!

FInally, her dad admitted that he had found my photo under her pillow...which she hadnt told me at all...and also that he had found out the details about the entire incident from her best friend to whom she had confided earlier...and conveniently forgot to tell me about it.

Immediately they met up with my parents, got our horoscopes matched and then you know the rest!!!!! "Anu darling...!!!"'Hmm..."she said!!! We were sitting in the same garden in Kodaikanal where we had come for our honeymoon. Do you remember this place??""I remember this place and also how stupid you looked while you tried to propose...but cant help looked too cute :-)""Shall we go to Coco's walk tomorrow?"Coco's walk.."she exclaimed with childish excitement...not quite for a 24+ woman....I smiled and brought her face towards mine...eagerly hoping that the years to cme will be as sweet as this moment.

A Sweet Love Story Part 1 ( An usual Love Sotry )

It was the end of a usual tiring day. I had returned from office ennervated and tired after undergoing an arduous routine throughout the day. Today, my house had a different air around it. My parents were behaving in a different manner and that didnt go unnoticed by me. I knew that eventually something would come up at dinner so I didnt bother to ask.
Dinnner time finally arrived and I sat along with my parents waiting for them to break the suspense. As the silence lingered, my parents talking in hushed tones obviously how they are going to talk to me, I started feeling uneasy. I was hoping...Oh God...anything but that please.....finally the thought I dreaded came from my wonderful mothers mouth..."Vikku, we have seen a girl for you. Your horoscopes have matched and we are going to meet her family tomorrow so come early from office."
As soon as I heard that, I groaned with agony. I was a fiercely independent person who loved his independence. I was really unsure how I would be able to adjust in this new relation. The idea of losing it was a bit painful, a view all bachelors would share. I tried to wrigle out of it but no avail. Finally I gave in and asked my mother what is the girls name. And the reply was the girls name is "Ananya".
This name sounded really familiar to fact...more than familiar. I retired for the day and was lying in my bed thinking about my past, something I had locked somewhere away in my life. I closed my eyes searching for the face which haunted me throughout these years, the face...on which even a smile would light up my entire day and for which I was even willing to die a thousand deaths.......yes that face was Ananya' Ananya's.
Ananya always had a larger than life personality. A very sweet girl with a never say die attitude and always lightens the atmosphere around her. Though we share the same friends circle, I never had the courage to talk to her. She was always yakking around with everyone she knew and was always there for her friends. Our talks were always limited to studies, notes and other boring stuff. But she made me realise that my life is incomplete without her.
There were numerous occassions when I tried to tell her what I felt but ended up fumbling with words. Finally the moment came...we had planned a trip to Kodaikanal...just a group and Ananya was also coming (well...that was the only reason why I decided to camp along)...all of us had a great time sightseeing. After sometime Ananya just wanted to sit down and she told us to continue. We were not for the idea of leaving her alone and here, I grabbed the chance with both my hands and told the guys that I will stay here and you people continue.
Ananya was as usual at her radiant best and one look at her beautiful face is enough for a guy to lose his mind completly. I gathered enough courage to start the topic. I said "Anu, If you dont mind, can I talk to you about something??'Ananya: "Sure Vivek, why are you hesitating...?Are you going to propose to me or what??" There was a childish chuckle on her face when she said that. GOD!!!I hate these girls for this...they very well know whats going on in your mind but they plead ignorance...
I: "Ya you are absolutely right...thats what I was going to say"Ananya: "Go on what do you want to say...chuckles again"....God this was too much for me to take.
I immediately took out a red rose from my pocket, the one I wanted to give her when I profess my love, went down on one knee and said ..."Anu, I may not be the smartest or the most romantic guy around but believe me...I really love you and would do absolutely anything for you. Every time you smile at me, I feel as if I have been reborn. You have given my life a new meaning and have absolutely no idea of what difference you have made to it. All I know is my life without you would be hell. Please....will you be mine??"
She was surprised...rather I would say shocked!!!!"How can you say this Vivek?? I mean how can you even think about this??" "Why what is wrong" I asked. "There is absolutely nothing wrong...but I never felt the same way for you. I respect you as a person and as a friend but nothing beyond that. My parents trust me a lot and I would not want to let them down. We will be good friends forever."
I felt that my entire world came crashing down that day. Soon after, the others returned and this incident never came up. I made it a point to avoid Ananya and no one suspected a thing as I never spoke to her much. Eventually, we finished college and moved to our respective careers. I never made any efforts to find out what she was doing or whether she was married and moved out of the country. I never thought about her.......................... until today.
Part 2 coming up!!!!

People were better off during ‘India shining’ days, claims Advani

NEW DELHI: There is no let-up in the attack mounted by the Opposition on the Manmohan Singh government for its failure to control prices.
With inflation touching 7%, Mr L K Advani, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, on Sunday contended that the development was “an official admission of the UPA regime’s utter failure to control prices of essential commodities.’’
Mr Advani sought to use the issue to puncture the Congress’ claims of being champion of the aam aadmi. “As far as the common man is concerned, price-rise means daily loot from his meagre family budget,’’ he said while addressing party workers on the occasion of the BJP’s foundation day.
The BJP leader juxtaposed the Manmohan Singh government’s track-record on the economic front with that of the NDA regime, and claimed that the people were now realising that that they were better-off during the six years of the Vajpayee government.
``The common people are today fondly recalling the BJP-led regime’s success in keeping prices under check,’’ he said, adding, ``Indeed, the people are also seeing the contrast between the two governments in every aspect of governance.’’
The BJP veteran made it clear that the sky-rocketing prices would form a crucial weapon in the party’s arsenal during the next round of assembly polls, including Karnataka. ``
Today, I wish to forewarn the Congress: There are several reasons why people are angry with you. But as far as prices are concerned, they will make you pay a heavy price whenever elections are held,’’ Mr Advani maintained. He argued that the Congress’ track-record in governance had traditionally been marked by betrayal of the common man, and warned the people not to be taken in by the party’s claims. ``The UPA government’s failure to contain prices reminds them that, historically, whenever the Congress has come to power at the Centre, price-rise, corruption and mal-governance have also come along,’’ Mr Advani said.
The BJP leader argued that it was not just prices of essential commodities which were rising. “It’s not just roti (food) and kapda (clothing) that is now beyond the reach of the common man; even makan (housing) has become unaffordable, since the prices of steel and cement have shot up enormously since UPA came to power,’’ he said.
The Vajpayee government, Mr Advani pointed out, had also ensured that bank interest-rates were kept low, as a result of which tens of lakhs of people, especially the urban middle classes, saw their dreams of owning a house realised. “Today, that dream has disappeared for them,’’ he contended.