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  • Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist" - Excellent Overview for Those (like me) Lacking Basic Understanding of India -

    'Reimagining India' is comprised of a collection of mostly short essays, mostly by Indian citizens or expatriates. This creates discontinuities throughout, but thanks to the competence of the contributors the overall impact is quite helpful.

    India contains at least 15 major languages, hundreds of dialects, several major religions, and thousands of tribes, castes, and sub-castes. The majority of its states are governed by regional parties that have little draw in other states. The country's chief divide is between Hindus and Muslims. Most (almost 70%) of the nation's GDP comes from urban areas, but 70% of its population still live in rural India. The middle class numbers exceed 30%, yet seemingly has resigned itself to political impotence and instead of vehemently protesting lack of basic government services such as education and security, they generally pay for their own private schools and security guards. Three-quarters of the population has mobile phones - establishing ready communications and obviating years of delays in getting land lines installed.

    China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan have shown it is possible to grow at near double-digit rates for three or more decades, regardless of the global economy. Further, they did so with policies that promoted rapid urbanization and the rise of manufacturing. India, however, has been less intense, focused, and consistent in its reforms - and results reflect that.

    India's fractious democracy is often offered as an underlying excuse for these shortcomings. However, of the 124 nations that have generated growth over 5%/year for at least a decade since 1980, about half were democracies and the other half were authoritarian. Another contrast - Pakistan has had an authoritarian government during this same period, but its growth has been considerably inferior to India's.

    Another problem - during the last decade, India's government has thrown money at expensive populist schemes (eg. guaranteeing everyone at least 100 days of work/year), doubling government spending in the process. Indian firms are investing more heavily in foreign markets and spending more to acquire foreign firms than foreign companies are investing and spending in India. Manufacturing represents only 13% of its economy, vs. 44% for China in 2004 and 31% in 2011 (World Bank).

    Four out of ten workers in India are self-employed; India ranks 132 on the World Bank's ease of doing business index, vs. vs. Singapore (#1), Hong Kong (#2), U.S. (#4), and South Korea (37). (China was not listed.) India spends 4% of GDP on education, 1% on basic healthcare, and less than 1% on social security - OECD averages are 5%, 7%, and 22%. Money is instead wasted on power and fuel subsidies, inefficient public enterprises, and graft.

    While fragmentation is a major political problem in India (the 2014 election may be the first in its history in which the two main parties together receive less than half the vote), Washington has shown that having only two parties isn't necessarily better - especially when combined with separation of powers. Neither system is likely to change in the foreseeable future because the only viable and defensible means of doing so lies in going through their respective broken systems. At least one contributor suspects both the U.S. and India would be better off without constant press coverage.

    By default, India has embraced an economic model that relies on a limited pool of skilled labor for growth rather than its abundant supply of cheap, unskilled labor. This strategy has meant that India specializes in services rather than manufacturing, and accentuates the problems within its education system. Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore's long-time leader) notes that no country became a great economic power without first becoming an industrial power. India's unskilled labor contributes little to growth because of regulations that stifle expansion of its labor-intensive industries. Corruption in land, coal, and frequency spectra also add to manufacturing problems.

    High-performing states in India tend to be run by authoritarian democrats who, once elected, face few checks and balances. Regardless, cities in India do not have the authority to raise resources and are not directly accountable to citizens --> crumbling infrastructure, even in Mumbai. Moreover, talent is fleeing the public sector. Only about 10 million Indians are employed in private-sector companies with ten or more workers, while an estimated 12 million join the work force each year.

    Only about 20% of food subsidies reach people below the poverty line and there is a 25% chance that any public-school teacher is absent on a given day --> most fifth-grade students cannot read at even a second-grade level.

    The best way to improve the incomes of the poor is to create jobs that help move them off farms. South Korean farm employment fell 3.9%/year from 1975 to 1995, and China's fell 2.4%/year over the last decade - meanwhile, India's has risen. Building industry clusters can be important in accomplishing this. India first tried this idea in 1965, 15 years ahead of China, but accomplished little because the government provided little in the way of infrastructure to support them. China, Dubai, Singapore, Egypt, Malaysia and others have shown these can work. Provide skills training for poor workers is another key path, encouraging private innovators to provide services - clean water, sanitation, video-conferenced medical advice (some areas have @ 37 cent cost), and technology-based education to replace failed/non-existent public systems. Transfer welfare benefits directly to the poor, while linking their continuation to school attendance and health checkups --> lower leakage/administration costs. Other needs - availability of better seeds for farmers and extension services, energy conservation that focuses on buildings and use of LEDs.

  • Tracy Talley "Book Addict" - Everlasting Love Found, Windswept Seas & Adventure Abound!

    The third in the 'Outlander' series and still kept me riveted. In this enstallment, Claire is in her own time and its twenty years later from the time she first went back (1945)and she has a daughter from Jamie, Brianna who is 20 years old.
    Claire is now a succesful doctor living in Boston and still longs for her lost love, a Scottish warrior from the 18th century named Jamie Fraser. Her twentieth century husband Frank having passed away two years ago, Claire is feeling that heartwrenching pull to return to her love.
    But how does a mother leave her only child to find a man she once knew and loved almost two hundred years ago? How does she explain this to the man's daughter who looks just like him? Just seeing Brianna makes her heart ache for Jamie.
    With the help of Brianna and a friend who studies genealogy charts, Claire finds out that Jamie somehow survived the bloody Battle of Culloden! Dare she risk another trip through the stones to find him?
    With understanding and the love from her daughter, Claire finds the support and courage she needs to take the plunge into the unknown with the knowledge that she may never again be able to return to the future and Brianna.
    Seeing Jamie again nearly knocks the breath from her. Their love is still intact, even 20 years later. Trouble is still in the air, this time they are uprooted from the battlefields of Scotland to the exotic and mysterious West Indies. Coming face-to-face with an 18th century serial killer, Claire is the only one who can stop the madness.
    Voodoo magic and political intrigue, Claire and Jamie are thrust on a voyage to the pits of humanity and must use their love and trust in one another to survive.
    I thought the use of voodoo and the islands in the 1700's was unbelievable! It was so fascinating and kept you on your toes! Their journey through the world of magic and greed for life made sense and also explained things to me that I missed in the first novel 'Outlander'. The stones are more in depthly explained along with the travel of time. It was so unbelievable that I was engrossed for hours and hours and found it dark outside before I thought to even eat!
    This is probably one of my favorites so far of the three I've read. It moved faster and with more excitement that the last (even though I loved 'Dragonfly') and I was sad to see it end, some 1050 pages later, lol.
    The time spent apart made the heart grow fonder and I was happy to see the passion still well alive between them. I love Jamie anyway, and fell in love with him in 'Outlander', but in this, I loved him even more and wished I were Claire, lol. I am anxiously ready to plunge right into the fourth installment, 'Drums of Autumn', in the New World...

    1. Outlander 2. Dragonfly in Amber 3. Voyager 4. Drums of Autumn 5. The Fiery Cross

    Tracy Talley~@

  • A. Gallegos "Costa Rican Prog Rocker" - Smart album

    This album contains my favorite song from Pink Floyd, the amazing "Dogs". It's beautiful how this guys managed to create a great album that reflected the reality of their enviroment, back in the 70's. As any other album consider a "classic", Animals is a reminder for all that intelligent music is still alive and well, and that it's possible to critize society with smart and intriguing music.

  • Haines4Health - What a time saver!

    Incredible time-saving software. Once you have it set up, just click one button and download all your bank and credit card information quickly and easily! I'm a procrastinator, and usually wait til tax time to manually enter all the year's info. Not anymore - this makes it so easy. No more manual entering! Hint: most banks only allow you to go back 90 days for download history. Don't wait all year to hit the button! Do it monthly when you get your statement. Love it!