Reservoirs Water Scarcity Government Apathy Part-1


Of late it has become apparent the the Governance – both in Centre and in the States have become more inefficient, lacklustre, controversial, and outright lack of foresight.  The prime example is the flooding in unprecedented scales during abundant monsoon, and water scarcity if the monsoon is even slightly deficient, leave alone a failed monsoon.

Now, water scarcity is felt all around the world, ironically when research and observations prove that the planet is ‘sweating’ more from its ice caps due to global warming.  Australia has suffered a couple of years with drought, due to El Nino-La Nina conditions.  On the other side, two of the largest aquifers in USA – the Central Valley in California, and the Ogallala in the Midwest – suffer from unregulated over pumping out of the ground water.  The thing about these aquifers they are all riverine, that is surroundings of a river catchment or watershed areas.  Hold this thought in mind.

In the USA, the aquifer (underground basins that hold groundwater reserves) systems are well mapped, with their extent, capacity, and levels very well understood.  However, in India, we only woke up to the aquifers in 2009, after the NASA GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites exposed that the North West India Aquifer (NWIA) is being depleted rapidly.  It took us another 3 years to girdle up, and a World Bank funded National Aquifer Mapping Program (NAMP) was initiated in 2012  In fact continuing observations (till 2016) show that NWIA aquifer has the world’s highest depletion rate.

Unlike the Americans, we could not use the satellites.  The reason was technology – basically we needed access to precise GPS code for a GRACE like mission – and India’s GAGAN was then still on the drawing board.  So we opted for mass pilot drilling projects to map the aquifers funded by World Bank. 

First the types and extent of the major aquifers were identified.  It was to have been expanded in the 12th (2013-2017) and 13th Five Year Plans.  The 13th Five Year plan is kaput, thanks to Narendra Modi’s shutdown of Planning Commission and replacing it with Niti Aayog.  So, right now, no one is sure whether the NAMP will progress further or not.

While we do not know the actual capacity – depth, volume, sustainable extraction capacity, interlinking and interaction within - of the Indian Aquifers, we do have a fair idea of ground water levels.  Thanks to the budding NAMP programme, groundwater level measurement stations are now fairly distributed on the ground. 

NAMP is the reason we find reports in the last few years about ground water levels falling below 200 or 500 feet in some areas, and almost every summer, dire warnings about sea water ingress into coastal groundwater, especially in Tamil Nadu.

You might ask what exactly has all this to do with Water Scarcity and Government Apathy.  By any measure, it would appear the governments have actually woken up from 2012 and are on the job.

Actually, this is the primer, the foundation, for what the apathy or lack of foresight is all about.

Here is the animated GIF of the depletion of the North West India Aquifer between 2003 and 2008.

noth-west-india-aquifer-nasa-grace
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What is exactly Black Money? Part-2


In the first part, the Accounted Sector was explained, and also how the transparent money, sometimes does not stay within that sector, but morphs into Unaccounted & Informal Sectors.  Before we plunge into those forms, let us try to understand the other extreme, the Illegitimate sector.

When people talk of Black Money, it is this Illegitimate form they think of.  But people being illogical, attribute all the bad aspects of this Black Money on anyone who protests – even when those who protest actually fall under the Accounted, Unaccounted, or Informal cash economies.

Illegitimate Black Money is the one which is generated purely based on criminal activity.  It is money generated by anyone of these activities – bribes, corruption, drugs, terrorism, counterfeiting, smuggling, hawala, illegal betting, over & under invoicing, video piracy and even ordinary thievery.  Thus, this sector too contains 2 different forms of money flow.  The almost white-collar section with bribery and corruption, and the fully organized crime section of the rest.

BTW, admit it.  When the bogeyman of Black Money is raised, you and most everyone, visualize this sector, and support the the counter-measures in all your fervour with the belief that this illegitimate cash should be stopped and will be done so. 

But remember this, not one single rupee from this sector will ever Queue up to the banks.  Probably half the money has already been laundered by now, in the 20 days between 8 Nov and 29 Nov. 

Contrary to beliefs, the amount of money actually stashed, kept as a cache under the settee, without being circulated, in this sector, is a very low percentage.  Crime would not pay, if you start accumulating cash, without a way to move it. 

This sector of course pays no taxes at all – neither direct, nor indirect – except when the stash comes out as laundered money to be used in legitimate purposes, when it coughs up the indirect taxes – VAT, Service Tax, etc., or even some direct taxes – Property Tax etc., when invested in real-estate or in stocks.

For all the deadly dangerous activities, and scare, this is one of the smallest sectors of the four.

 According to studies, the white collar section would add up to just 2% of the GDP, and the counterfeiting even less – under 0.5%.  The biggest section of them all, the hawala-hundi field is suspected to be as large as the official remittances from NRI, which is about 4% of the GDP.  In all, this Illegitimate sector would be between 8-10% on the whole.

hawala-hundi

(TBC part-3)
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What is exactly Black Money? Part-1


A lot of people, especially people who voted for Narendra Modi, do not have a clear idea, or even the basic idea of what is meant by Black Money.  So here is the actual explanation of what it is.  And, once you understand the problem, hopefully would also understand the right or wrong of Demonetization of the 500 and 1000 Rupee notes.

First and foremost, people think that it is the ‘others’ – a loosely defined bunch of others – are the ones who generate Black Money, and they themselves are pure as snow.  As I questioned in an earlier FB post, if you had ever cooked up medical reimbursement, pocketed travel reimbursement, paid donation or capitation fee to get into a better school or college, scalped IPL, movie, concert tickets – you are also one who had generated Black Money.

That defined, let us see the various (for the want of better word) sectors, where, how, and which way cash flows in India.  They are the Accounted, Unaccounted, Informal, and Illegitimate sectors, all within the Indian economy.  And I would even split the Unaccounted into Micro-unaccounted, and Professional-Institutional-unaccounted to understand the complexity better.

Accounted Sector is where the money (like salaries) are directly paid into bank accounts, and all the taxes are paid on it – both direct taxes like Income & Property Taxes and indirect taxes like VAT, Service Tax etc., when it is spent, through the digital, cashless transactions, & cheque payments.  This is the so called transparent sector.

But it is fallacy to think that this accounted money stays on as accounted money.  A sizeable part of it oozes out into unaccounted and informal sectors – when we buy from hawkers, pay auto-fares, engage a plumber, consult a doctor or lawyer, or any other transaction which is OTC.

There are other ways the accounted cash is transformed into unaccounted cash, even in honest households.  Indian women usually keep a ‘secret’ stash, the slowly accumulated savings from household expenditure – the popular cookie jar money – only this cookie jar is ‘hidden’ from menfolk.

Another form is the emergency money, usually a few thousands, always held in households with children or old people.  Even in homes without young children or old, natural disasters like the Chennai Floods & the resultant ATM chaos had made people to hold on some cash reserve.

I would estimate this Accounted money sector to be just above 10% of GDP, perhaps with this demonetisation push toward band deposits, has even inched upwards to the 15% mark.

(TBC in Part 2)

COOKIE-JAR-NOT-BLACK-MONEY
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Watch Fantastic Beasts for Free - not the movie though


By all accounts, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a terrific success.  In the language of the millennial, it is a megahit.  In the language of the people of certain age, a super-duper hit. And unfortunately because of the idiotic note ban by the Narendra Modi Sarkar, I’ve found enough spare cash to watch the movie, yet.

But then, I woke up one fine morning, and found that there are enough quaint beasts running around, which are even more fantastic than the made up world of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.  In fact, they are even more crazier than Harry Potter can imagine.  They vary in colour from orange to dark to yellow, the spew absolute nonsense, their actions are mostly bizarre and wear outlandish outfits.  If you bother to take a a real, open minded, humourous look at them, you will realise that these are indeed, Fantastic Beasts, and you always know where to find them, and watch them for free – courtesy internet and cable.

So, here are the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Google Maps, and also on Google Tour Builder.  The image is just for representation and pinning.  Soon the Fantastic Beasts will be telecast live on YouTube.

BTW, I started around Rift Valley, Africa, where the fantastic beast Homo Sapiens is theorized to have emerged, walked over the Red Sea, from where one branch drifted out east, to India, China, to the South and finally that topsyturvy continent Australia.  Meanwhile another group is theorized to have branched off northwards, displaced the Neanderthals in Europe, then emigrated to the New World.

If you do have some suggestions for a few more fantastic beasts, do post in comments – there are about 6 slots open.

Note: Names, Characterization, Localization, & Images are entirely fictional & of author's imagination. Any resemblance to reality is entirely coincidental.
fantastic-beasts-google-maps-2016

If you would like to enjoy it in Google Maps, here is the link
If you would like to tour it on Google Tour Builder, the link
A YouTube video will soon be available.

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Is Donald Trump acting like Roman Dictator


Oh Well! I guess I’d to pull my arse of the wall to write this one up.  Earlier I had, had the hopes that the consummate businessman in Donald Trump would emerge.  That He would begin to realize that he had a very good people around him to win over the Electoral Collage (for not even a foreseer myself could have him win popular vote – as far back in Oct), he would sober up,

My hopes went about a bit when He appointed Mike Pence to head the Transition Team.  But it is disappointing.

I, honestly think, that if Donald Trump gets his act together, could be the Best President ever in US History (of course after Honest Abe – for not even me would say Donald Trump would put an axe to a cherry, may be grab it, but not cut it down!)

And I haven’t given up hopes on this guy, even with all the reported Transition Team problems.
I’d say my hope would last till Christmas.  By that time Donald Trump better get his act together.

Or else, Bad Santa will visit him – and we all know what happens when Santa Claus doesn’t leave the preferred ‘Presents’.

You’d Go and Sulk!

calvin-hobbes--clinton-trump-santa
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Bernie Sanders is not the future of Democratic Party


It has been more than a month since I pointed out that the Democratic Party is the proverbial frog in the slow boiling water, when all the Political Pundits and Media were rooting confidently of a Hillary Clinton win.  Now that she has lost, they are out to tear up the Democrats, and offer bizarre solutions.

For a first, Politco led with a story that Bernie Sanders cronies are on a putsch to replace the Democratic leadership in at least, the States where Bernie won against Clinton in the Primaries.  Now, it seems the Democratic Donors have huddled together to work our future, and Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and their hanger-on are egging for a more ‘Progressive’ political stance.  We will see whether the data backs them up.

Second, is the chiding by President Obama yesterday that Hillary Clinton did not do as much ‘leg work’ as he himself did, and abandoning the Rust Belt states. In fact, he should address it to the Democratic Party in general, and not to HRC alone.  The time wasted to tackle Bernie Sanders, and the later convention (than the Republicans), left her with no time to do that.

He also said that Democrats have to compete everywhere, even in Rust Belt states, which is the correct strategy – as I had written before regarding the Congress party defeat in May 2014.  That the Congress party should forget about aping the US style of abandoning others strongholds, which is counterproductive in India.  Even earlier, in the Bellweather states article, I had opined that a more aggressive push in Gujarat might have even stopped Narendra Modi. So it is not HRC’s fault that the Democrats are organized like that.

Third, is the hype around the internet that if it was Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump would have lost.  Which is patently untrue as we will see from the data, which is actually a bombshell.

The first thing to remember is Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders fair and square in the Primaries – in both total votes polled, and in delegate count.  To which an argument is being thrown about that even that was ‘rigged’ in her favour as revealed by Podesta emails.  The actual fact is both the Democratic establishment, and President Obama allowed this Bernie Sanders circus to run on for so long.  They should have stepped in long before to thump him, and stop him from wasting resources.

The second thing is, Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote in the US Election 2012, but lost out in Electoral College. As of this writing with Michigan still learning to count with their toes, the sum up of the popular votes (in millions) are:
2016 Hillary - 61.055
2012 Obama – 62.611
2008 Obama – 66.862
2004 Kerry – 56.249
and which is quite normal.  The stark truth is Democratic vote share was shrinking, and continues to shrink.  They would have been totally wiped out, if not for the 1st Black President hype of 2008 – and that bump as we can see was fading even in 2012.

On the other hand, since 2000, the Republican vote has been consistently close to 60 million (2000 and before, the vote was less than 50 million for each party).
2004 Bush – 59.729
2008 McCain – 58.319
2012 Romney – 59.134
2016 Trump – 60.627.

So, here is the quick tabulation of the states which were won by Bernie Sanders, and the total Democratic vote scored by Hillary Clinton.  It just shows that none of the Bernie Sanders voters had deserted Hillary in the election, and at places, she has polled more than their combined Primary votes.  Yeah, some of those states are Caucus so it is difficult to actually count the number of votes, but the broader picture is Bernie has run out of steam – that is all the vote he would be able to gather on his own.



link to view as GSheet: https://goo.gl/GXcVRQ

And look at the 6 states which Flipped Red in 2016.  Even if Obama could have found a way to run for third time, and managed to get the same number of votes as 2012, Donald Trump would have outvoted him in 2016, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  That is 67 Electoral College votes among them, and as Obama scored only 332 in 2012, without those 67, even he would have been in trouble.

Of course, that is assuming that the NY Times Data is correct, and Obama managed to poll exactly the same number of votes.

Image


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