Posts Tagged ‘Political Parties’

Nearly 70,000 killed in 17-year Kashmir insurgency: rights group

December 10, 2006

SRINAGAR, India: Nearly 70,000 people have died in the 17-year conflict in India’s portion of Kashmir, a local human rights group said Friday, a figure markedly higher than the latest police count.

The Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society came up with the death toll after reviewing news reports and conducting door-to-door surveys in every district in Kashmir, Khurram Pervez, the head of the group, told The Associated Press. Most of dead were civilians.

Pervez said his group’s survey of news reports alone shows about 50,000 people have died, but he added, “We don’t subscribe to this figure as newspaper reports are mostly based on police handouts. Neither do we accept the government figure of 41,000.”

The latest police estimate said 19,987 rebels, 16,253 civilians and 4,982 security forces’ personnel were killed between January 1990 to November 2006.

However, Kashmir’s inspector-general of police, S.M. Sahai, acknowledged that many deaths went unreported in the early years of the violence.

“The initial years (of Kashmir insurgency) were chaotic … and hundreds of incidents went unreported,” Sahai said.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the main separatist political alliance in the state, says more than 100,000 people have been killed in the nearly two decades of violence. A combination of police and human rights figures compiled by AP have previously put the death toll at 68,000.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947.

More than a dozen Islamic groups in Kashmir have been fighting for independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan since December 1989.

International human rights groups have accused both the rebels and the Indian army of abuses in Kashmir. India says Pakistan arms and supports the Islamic insurgents, but Pakistan says it only gives the rebels diplomatic and moral support.

The Associated Press  IHT , December 8, 2006

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10 % of the rural housholds are landless in India: Survey

December 9, 2006

Despite the emphasis on land reforms, the survey found that about 10% of rural households were landless — owning either no land or less than 0.002 hectare. The corresponding urban figure is 49%. This would indicate that high rates of migration are creating an increasing number of people who do not own their dwellings. The percentage of landless households as estimated by the latest survey (2003) was not very different from 1971-72, which was 9.6%.

The latest survey by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) shows that the average land owned per household in the rural sector was highest in Rajasthan (2.077 hectare) and lowest in Kerala (0.234 hectare).

When it comes to maximum number of landless households in rural areas, the percentage in the rural sector was Sikkim (31%), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (22%), Maharashtra (18%), Tamil Nadu (17%) and Himachal Pradesh (15%). This would show that a large state like Maharashtra still has a significant number of landless persons, perhaps reflecting poverty figures of deprived areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada.

The estimated total area owned by households in rural sector during 2003 was 107.23 million hectare. The corresponding area in the urban sector was 7.21 million hectare. The per household average land owned in the rural sector in 2003 came to 0.725 hectare, about 27% less than the corresponding figure in 1992 which could suggest fragmentation as well as creeping urbanisation in some cases.

The share of land owned by different social groups was 11.2% for STs, 9% for SCs, 43.5% for OBCs and 36% for others in rural areas. The per household land owned by OBCs, at 0.758 hectare, was higher than the national average of 0.725 hectare.

According to the survey, land owned per household was 0.767 hectare for STs, 0.304 hectare for SCs, 0.758 hectare for OBCs and 1.003 hectare for others.

The figures of the survey are drawn from a nation-wide sample and could reflect a trend on well-to-do OBCs purchasing land in rural areas even though there are no comparisons with the previous years. In urban areas, OBCs control over 36.8% of the land. The percentage of land owned by STs was 3.3%, SCs was 4.8% and others controlled 55.2%. The per household land ownership was about 0.145 hectare for STs, 0.041 hectare for SCs, 0.139 hectare for OBCs and 0.151 hectare for other groups, while it was 0.130 hectare for all households in urban areas.

http://www.mospi.nic.in/mospi_nsso_rept_pubn.htm

India do have world’s most extensive tax administration system : Wolrd Bank Report

November 13, 2006

A World Bank report rates the Indian Ocean islands as the easiest place on the planet for a company to pay taxes while India with 9,000 pages of primary tax law and the dubious honour of the world’s most extensive tax administration system and ranked with a low rating of 134.
The World Bank’s Doing Business Project assesses how many obstacles the tax system puts in the way of a business in every one of 175 nations on earth.

The aim is to encourage faster administration, leading to more profitable business activities and hence economic growth. Reduced paperwork and lower taxes are the hallmark of wealthier nations, the World Bank notes.

The report says that an Indian medium-size company should pay a total tax rate on the profit of 81.1% and should take 264 hours of administrative burden with 59 steps. Even though such a high rated tax system is in place, the tax revenue receipts have remained below 10 per cent of GDP of Indian economy due to corruption of the civil service regime.

To enforce a commercial contracts in India is not an easy job.It takes 56 procedures and 1420 days and will cover a cost of 35.7% of the debt!

The time to resolve bankruptcies in India take 10 years but getting credit for companies in India is relatively easy. Import and export procedures in India is a very hard process which is rated at 139.

In India,the number of steps entrepreneurs can expect to go through to launch of a new business is 11 and it takes on average 35 days, and the cost required as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) per capita is 73.7%.

In India, dealing with licences take 270 days and the number of procedures will be 20. It requires an amount closer to of 606 % GNI (Income Per Captia).

Paper avalanche

Corrupt practices are most likely to be found in the highest taxing nations, as entrepreneurs find themselves forced to bribe officials in order to cut through red tape or just to operate outside of the official economy altogether.

The bureaucrats of some nations are in love with tax rules. The top 20 nations in terms of GDP have widely differing amounts of tax law. Within this group, the report ranks the UK as the second-worst offender in terms of the number of pages of primary tax legislation.

The UK has 8,300 pages of tax rules, compared with 1,300 in France and 1,700 in Germany.

This comes as no surprise to the World Bank. “The complexity of the systems in rich nations is astounding,” Ms McLiesh said.

Middle Eastern states such as the United Arab Emirates and Asian locations like Hong Kong come in the top five of easy tax locations.

Latin America and Africa impose the highest costs on complying with regulations and score poorly. The place on earth with the most difficult tax regime is the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

Tax perspective

The picture is not a simple one of Western economies beating the developing world.

The Project’s calculation of Total Tax Rate (TTR) looks beyond normal percentages of tax to include the cost incurred in dealing with the local tax regime.

The Maldives is the winner in this table, with an ultra-low TTR of 9.3%. There are some surprising entries. Cambodia has the number eight slot, beating Switzerland with a TTR of 22.3%.

The report, compiled by the World Bank and business advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers, employs an imaginary flowerpot manufacturer with 50 staff as its guinea-pig for assessing the TTR in each country.

Caralee McLiesh, a World Bank economist who is one of the report’s authors, points out that most people have a false impression of the way tax affects business.

“People think of business tax in terms of a corporate income tax,” she told BBC News, “but there are a whole range of labour tariffs and municipal rates that add to the bill.”

The World Bank takes account of the amount of time it takes its mythical flowerpot maker to deal with the bureaucracies in every country to measure TTR.

Excessive red tape can create a TTR that seems astronomical. Gambia scores worst of all, with a TTR of 291.4%.

The report is not anti-taxation, its authors point out. “Of course there is a need for taxes,” says Ms McLiesh, “but they should not deter businesses from paying and complying because of too much complexity.”

Denmark and the Netherlands have tried to point the way ahead for Europe, with moves to simplify business administration via a standardised business tax model that they are pushing the European Union to adopt.

One of the report’s observations is that businesses are more willing to pay taxes if they see the money raised being used to improve public services.

However, the developing world has a bad habit of raising taxes without producing a corresponding improvement in business infrastructure.

Online relief from Egypt

This aspect of tax administration comes with a warning that a bewildering tax regime is counter-productive. “When tax legislation becomes too voluminous, compliance drops more through ignorance than deliberate evasion,” the report states.

The internet is riding to the rescue in many countries, with online tax return filing seen as a boon for business. Allied to a policy of cutting out exemptions for large businesses or specific rules for particular sectors, the web has a real role in simplifying tax law.

The report holds up Egypt as an example of how to eliminate complexity. Inspired by the example of flat-tax adherents such as Estonia, it went for radical change.

In 2005, Egypt introduced a 20% flat rate corporate income tax, abolishing 32% or 40% sector-specific rates. A total of 3,000 detailed tax rules relating to certain activities and services were slashed. And all businesses could file electronically.

The result of tax reform in Egypt was startling. The number of businesses paying tax jumped to two million in 2005, double the 2004 total.

Report is here

Indian companies are most corrupt on Transparency Bribe Payers Index

October 6, 2006

October 04, 2006 ; NEW DELHI:

In a global recognition to the “Much Merited Upper Class Rule”, India has been ranked as the worst performer by Transparency International on its global Bribe Payers Index, which is based on the propensity of companies from the world’s 30 leading exporting countries in bribing abroad.  India has been ranked at the 30th position in the Transparency International 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI), with a score of 4.62.  A score of 10 indicates a perception of no corruption, while zero means corruption is seen as rampant.  India’s major weapon supplier,  Israel  also ranked as one of the most bribing nation, with a score of 6.01. Israel accounted for 0.4% of global trade in 2005.

Upper castes — that is, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas — constitute less than 20 per cent of the Indian population but controles the business and civil service sector of the country. They claim perhaps 80 per cent of the jobs in the new economy, in sectors such as software, biotechnology, and hotel management. The large corporates and MNCs in India prefer candidates come from the upper caste families, so that they can get their jobs done using their contacts and networks. The scores of corruption among these groups explain why they want to shut every door for the Dalits and backward communities in the name of ‘Merit’.

The BPI Index results draw from the responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2006. In first place Switzerland scored 7.81 points out of a possible 10 in the BPI.  Israel tied with Hong Kong with 6.01 points (Hong Kong accounted for 2.8% of global trade in 2005). The US, which accounts for the 8.9% of global trade, the highest proportion, received a score of 7.22 points. China, with 5.5% of global trade, and India, with 0.9%, closed the list.

Under BJP’s rule, India became Israeli arms industry’s prized market and there were also reports in 2003, of the Israeli defense establishment dispatching “scores of agents” to persuade the Indian armed forces in to buying weapons resulting in large scale bribes among civil servants and politicians. The ideological bond between Zionism and Hindutva made India as the second largest trade partner for Israel in Asia, after China. It is currently working hard with their old “Hindutva bureacrats” to make India as  their “biggest trade partner”. Since the advent of Hindutva’s grip on the Indian elite castes, every visit by a delegation of Israeli officials either preceded or followed the cementing of ties involving the purchase of weapons, or the training and/or expansion of cooperation between Israeli armaments interests and their Indian counterparts.

In 2005, Israel has achieved a four-fold increase in the bilateral trade with India which stood at $2.4 billion. Business Week reported in 2005 that India became Israel’s largest importer of weapons the previous year, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by that country. Not coincidentally, that year also proved to be the second best recorded year for the Israeli weapons industry, making Israel the 5th largest weapons exporter in the world and accounting for about 10 percent of the world’s weapons trade. Obviously the Israeli armaments industry values India as a major new market for its weapons, and as such has much to gain from maintaining and deepening the appetite for arms by the Indian state.

The international corruption watchdog on Wednesday said overseas bribery is still common among the world’s export giants despite the existence of international anti-bribery laws, while companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia are the worst performers. Switzerland has been ranked at the top slot with a score of 7.81, followed by Sweden, Australia, Austria and Canada at the top five positions on the index. The US and UK have been ranked at 10th and sixth positions respectively.

Transparency International said that Switzerland has managed a leading score of only 7.8, which is far from perfect. This indicates there might be variations here but there are no real winners, it added.

According to the report, businesses from India, China and Russia, who are at the bottom of the index, have the most propensity to pay bribes.

This year’s BPI data shows that leading exporters are undermining the development with their dirty business practices overseas, while the foreign bribery by emerging export powers is disconcertingly high.

Companies from the wealthiest countries have been ranked in the top half, but they still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies, it added.

“In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad,” the report said.

“Bribing companies are actively undermining the best efforts of governments in developing nations to improve governance, and thereby driving the vicious cycle of poverty,” said Transparency International Chairwoman Huguette Labelle.

“It is hypocritical that Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) based companies continue to bribe across the globe, while their governments pay lip-service to enforcing the law,” Transparency International CEO David Nussbaum said.

“The enforcement record on international anti-bribery laws makes for short and disheartening reading,” he added.

“Domestic legislation has been introduced in many countries following the adoption of the UN and OECD anti-corruption conventions, but there are still major problems of implementation and enforcement,” he added.

The index has been prepared on the basis of responses of more than 11,000 business people in 125 countries polled in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2006.

The watchdog said that India consistently scores worst across most regions and sub-groupings, while China is the world’s fourth largest exporter and ranks second to last in the Index.

Transparency International Chairwoman said, “With growing influence comes a greater responsibility that should constitute an opportunity for good.”

“This is the right time for Russia, China and India to commit to the provisions of the OECD Convention against bribery and contribute to the vitality of tomorrow’s markets. In doing so they will become part of the effort to make corruption history.”

Transparency International says the countries can be divided into four groups. In the first group – those whose companies are least likely to pay bribes – are Switzerland (which came top in the survey), Sweden, Australia, Austria, Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the US and Japan.

In the second group – somewhat more likely to bribe – are Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, France, Portugal and Mexico.

The third group – even more likely to bribe – are Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia.

Finally – and most likely of all to pay bribes – are Taiwan, Turkey, Russia, China and India (which came bottom in the survey).

Before countries near the top of the list start patting themselves on the back, it’s worth noting that their companies often apply different standards, according to where they are doing business. “Companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the index, but still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies,” Transpency International says. It continues:

Even high scorers are in major need of improvement. The behaviour of the Australian Wheat Board in the UN oil-for-food programme is just one example.

In March of this year, German-US motor company DaimlerChrysler admitted that an internal probe confirmed allegations of “improper payments” made by their staff in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Turkey, in 27th place, is nearly at the bottom of the BPI. This is a crucial result as the country pursues its bid for European Union membership. The poor score also raises troubling questions about the country’s commitment to the OECD (Organisation of for Economic Cooperation and Development) Anti-Bribery Convention, which entered into force there in 2003 …

The United States, which blazed new trails with its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, ought to be leading the way, but ranks behind many OECD countries.

The United Kingdom has demonstrated minimal enforcement of the Convention, despite scandals implicating firms such as British Aerospace.

Companies often try to shrug off bribes as a way of fitting in with local customs and practices, and there is a popular notion that the recipient, not the giver, is the guilty party. Apart from the fact that such payments are often illegal, they undermine any efforts to promote good governance in developing countries. Bribes also have a corrupting effect on the firms that pay them. Often, the payments are made by local subsidiaries – allowing parent companies to pretend that their hands are clean.

Transparency International warns:

Multinationals cannot be absolved of the corrupt activities of their foreign branches, subsidiaries or agents, and they must conduct due diligence before engaging with joint venture or alliance partners. The purchasing, export, and marketing and sales departments remain the business functions most vulnerable to bribery and corruption.

It adds:

The cost of a tarnished image “back home” can be immense. And companies with a culture of bribery overseas face a heightened risk of being undermined by the unethical acts of their own employees. In the long run, it pays for companies to take proper measures to end corrupt practices.

About 150 years ago, there were no Black Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the US, there were no rights for Blacks and there was no cultural influence from Blacks. But now, 75 Black CEOs are working in major US companies. On the contrary, there are no Dalits as CEOs in any private company in India today.

In 1930, the IBM Company in America gave reservation to Blacks, and at present almost all business houses there are accommodating Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics. Since the intention of our Govt. is not to empower Dalits otherwise on similar lines how US had done for Blacks and others, Dalits can be given participation in govt. contracts and the supply-chain of different articles. After millennia of oppression, it was the British in 1932 which gave reservation through the historic Poona Pact. English and public school education in India is undoubtedly out of reach for Dalits, and this is resulting in lack of English knowledge which is blocking Dalits to take up high profile jobs.

In India, the perception is that if you are a Backward then you do not deserve anything. And the worst is that the Backward is being touted as the hurdle to the ushering in the era of competitiveness. The reservation policy is only to deceive the rest that we have been properly taking care of the Backwards. But India is absolutely clueless about what results have been achieved through the huge money allocated and the policies being pursued for the development of SC/ST/BCs over the last 50 years. According to NSSO, Census of India and NFHS-II, 37 percent of Dalits living below poverty in India while 45 percent them don’t know how to Read and Write. When any insurgent or terrorist strikes, the ready answer is: “foreign hands bent upon to destabilizing our social fabric and economy”. If the reservation is introduced, our industrial giants would put the blame on reservations.

The Govt. of India protected our industry from foreign direct competition. Are they not reservations? If they talk of survival on the basis of “merit” then let the Indian market be open to foreign companies.
Who is to blame for the dismal performance of PSUs or their closure? Why do we forget that “meritorious” professionals are heading most of the PSUs since their inception? Why only PSUs enjoying a monopoly in the Indian economy are doing well? In whose interests a few PSUs (even the profit-making ones) are forced to either close down or are sold to private parties at a paltry sum?

When a person born Untouchable as per the Hindu caste system is condemned to carry the cross then why is this bogey of “merit” raised constantly by the educated elite? Let us not forget that a caste-ridden society like ours hardly provides a level playing field for a large section of Indian society. A person’s station in life is largely determined by birth. In such a system, there is little space for “merit” and efficiency. The recruitment practices in the private needs scrutiny. The upper castes have been enjoying unstated birth-based reservation since centuries. And extending the benefits of reservation to Backwards at any cost can only neutralize this. When can we see 17.5% IAS officers from Dalits, 27.5% from backward communities and 7.5% from tribal?

Someone who is familiar with the Indian social fabric know the age old doctrine of exclusion legitimised and sanctified by the Brahminical ideology. This upper caste elite controles the Business and Civil Service structure in India, by culminating “Bribing” as a ‘routine matter’ in India’s daily life. Transparency International’s BPI Index proves how this dangerous ideology of “self purity and pollution” has extended its wings to the “Globalization of Corruption.”

Website: Transparency International India

2 % for agriculture, where more than 65 % of the Indian works

April 28, 2006

In India, government policies lead to terrible toll in rural suicides, spurred by market reforms
Summary:

You will be surprised in the budgetary provision, not more than 2 percent has been allocated for agriculture, where more than 65 percent of the population works… In the last few years, the average budgetary provision from the Indian government for irrigation is less than 0.35 percent.” This neglect of irrigation, he said, forced 60 percent of agricultural areas to “depend totally on the erratic monsoon

Is India the worst governed country in the world? The dominance of the cities, the hi-tech industry, transnationals and the IMF have concentrated investment in tiny pockets of the subcontinent. Interest rates for farmers have rocketed, government supports for farmers have disappeared. The result, a death toll from suicides amongst farmers that is almost certainly greater than 25,000 in the past ten years.
Iindebtedness, crop failure and the inability to pay back loans due to high rates of interest have led as many as 25,000 peasants in India to commit suicide since the 1990s, according to official figures. The systematic neglect of India’s multi-million peasantry, combined with the free market policies implemented by successive governments, are responsible.

On February 19, Alladi Rajkumar, a senior parliamentarian from the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, reported in India’s upper house of parliament that over 3,000 farmers had taken their lives during the past 22 months under the Congress-led state government. The deteriorating conditions of the peasantry were a significant factor in the defeat of the previous TDP administration.

Andhra Pradesh has become one of India’s leading areas for investment by global transnational corporations. Under both Congress and TDP governments, the state has been largely run under budgetary guidelines formulated by the US firm McKinsey, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. While the state has been flung open to the activities of transnationals, the rural poor have been ignored. Andhra Pradesh has recorded among the highest number of peasant suicides in the country. From 1997 to January 2006, over 9,000 peasants took their lives due to the failure of cotton crops. In 2000, 22 peasants in the Kundoor district sold their kidneys to settle their debts.

The Punjab has also recorded a high rate of farmer suicides. According to state government claims, there were 2,116 cases between 1998 and 2005. Non-government organisations argue that this figure is a gross underestimate. Inderjit Jayjee of the Movement Against State Repression told the Indian Tribune on April 2: “Andana and Lehra blocks of Moonak subdivision in Sangrur alone have reported 1,360 farmer suicides between 1998 and 2005. If all of Punjab’s 138 blocks show roughly the same level of suicides, the number would exceed 40,000 for the given period.”

The suicide toll is by no means confined to these two states. The western state of Maharashtra witnessed over 250 farmer suicides in Vidarbha district during the six-month period from June 2005 to January 2006. The agriculture minister in the national Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Sharad Pawar, told parliament last month that cases of suicide have also been reported from Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Orissa.

In an interview on November 15, 2005, with the Indian Express, Pawar stated: “The farming community has been ignored in this country and especially so over the last eight to 10 years. The total investment in the agriculture sector is going down… You will be surprised in the budgetary provision, not more than 2 percent has been allocated for agriculture, where more than 65 percent of the population works… In the last few years, the average budgetary provision from the Indian government for irrigation is less than 0.35 percent.” This neglect of irrigation, he said, forced 60 percent of agricultural areas to “depend totally on the erratic monsoon.”

During the campaign for the 2004 national elections, Congress leaders such as party president Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, who became prime minister, shed a few crocodile tears over farmer suicides. The Congress election manifesto promised to “liberate the country from poverty, hunger and unemployment”. In practice, however, the UPA government has proven that its attitude toward the peasants is no different from its predecessor. The allocation for the agriculture in its February 28 budget was just 1 percent.

The UPA’s main policy in rural areas is the cosmetic National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The government has pledged that one member of every rural household will be provided with 100 days of work per year, paid just 60 rupees ($US1.33) per day. Although the scheme was part of the UPA’s so-called Common Minimum Program (CMP) during the 2004 election, its inauguration was delayed until February 2006. Moreover, while the initial estimate for the scheme was 400 billion rupees ($US9 billion) a year, the allocation in the national budget delivered on February 28 was just 117 billion rupees.

Rising debts

In 1928, a Royal Commission report on the plight of farmers under British colonial rule in India stated that the peasant lives and dies in debt. The same basic rule holds for most Indian farmers today.

The indebtedness of Indian farmers rose markedly in the 1990s following the turn by successive Indian governments to market reforms and the opening up of the Indian economy to foreign investors. Prior to 1991, 25 percent of Indian peasants were indebted. Now, according to figures provided in January by P. Sainath, the rural affairs editor of the Hindu, 70 percent of farmers in the state of Andhra Pradesh are in debt. In Punjab the figure is 65 percent, Karnataka 61 percent, and Maharashtra 60 percent.

Government actions have directly triggered the rise. According to a Reserve Bank of India report in 2003, World Bank dictates resulted in a steady decline of rural credit to small and middle peasants from government banks and cooperative societies. Lending declined from 15.9 percent in June 1990 to 9.8 percent in March 2003. This shift in government policy compelled small and middle farmers to turn to private moneylenders for loans—at exorbitant interest rates of 40 percent or more per annum—to purchase seeds, fertiliser and other agricultural inputs.

“The banks have given no loans in the past seven years,” Malla Reddy, the general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Ryuthu Sangham (APRS), explained. “So many farmers are forced to depend on sources like these for credit. The same man advises them on what to buy and then sets the rates for the purchase.” More and more farmers have failed to earn enough to pay back their loans and so have fallen deeper and deeper into debt.

Across India, over 43.4 million Indian peasant families are deeply indebted. Small and medium peasants are the worst affected. The number of rural landless families increased to 35 percent between 1987 and 1998 and soared to 45 percent between 1999 and 2000. Between 2003 and 2005, the figure jumped dramatically to 55 percent.

At the same time, farmers have faced declining incomes. According to a Ministry of Agriculture report, the income for West Bengal paddy farmers has fallen by 28 percent since 1996-97. During the same period, the income of sugar cane growers in Uttar Pradesh had dropped 32 percent, while in Maharashtra, cane growers have lost 40 percent.

A steady decline in infrastructure investment and cuts to state subsidies, together with droughts, floods and insect infestations have contributed to the growth of rural social misery.

According to New Delhi-based agriculture economist Rahul Sharma, the cost of rural production has gone up by 300 percent since the 1990s, in large part due to government policies. In Andra Pradesh, the power tariff was increased five times between 1998 and 2003. As governments have withdrawn support for rural farmers, prices for farming equipment have skyrocketed.

Due to deregulation, the quality of seeds has declined. In the past, the Indian government regulated that the minimum germination rate for seeds had to be at least 85 percent. Following corporate pressure, the minimum rate was reduced to 60 percent.

Indian peasants have faced greater global competition due to the deregulation of agricultural markets. In 1999, the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP)-led Indian federal government signed a pact with the United States to grant US producers import permission for 1,429 agricultural products that were previously prevented from entering the local market.

The UPA government of Prime Minister Singh is continuing the free market restructuring of the economy. During US President George Bush’s visit to India in early March, Singh signed an agreement that further opens the agriculture sector to firms such as Monsanto.

These measures will further exacerbate the already intolerable conditions of Indian farmers.

M.Kailash, World Socialist Website

Richest 2% own ‘half the wealth’ of the World, India is among the poorest

March 17, 2006

The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth according to a path-breaking study released today by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER). Under the study, India’s average per capita net worth was only 24.7 per cent of the world average, while its GDP was 29.2 % of the world average.Highest : $144,000 per Capita household wealth in the USA

Lowest : $1,100 per Capita household wealth in India

China is twice wealthy than India

The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth. The research finds that assets of $2,200 per adult placed a household in the top half of the world wealth distribution in the year 2000. To be among the richest 10% of adults in the world required $61,000 in assets, and more than $500,000 was needed to belong to the richest 1%, a group which — with 37 million members worldwide — is far from an exclusive club.
The UNU-WIDER study is the first of its kind to cover all countries in the world and all major components of household wealth, including financial assets and debts, land, buildings and other tangible property.

The US is the richest country, with mean wealth estimated at $144,000 per person in the year 2000.4 At the opposite extreme among countries with wealth data, we have India with per capita wealth of about $6,500 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. The two low income countries in our sample, India and Indonesia, stand out as having particularly high shares of non-financial wealth.12 This is no surprise since assets such as housing, land, agricultural assets and consumer durables are particularly important in many developing countries. In addition, financial markets are often poorly developed. In India, the only low or middle income country for which we have some detail on financial assets, most of the financial assets owned by households are liquid.

India is categorized under the last group consists of 64 low-income countries. This group’s collective household net worth on a PPP basis amounted to 8.3 per cent of world wealth, compared to 39.9 per cent of the world’s population and 11.3 per cent of world GDP.

The ratio of liabilities to total assets is particularly low in India and Indonesia (for China only non-housing liabilities are reported). Again poorly developed financial markets help to explain this phenomenon. But, in addition, underreporting of debt appears to be more severe than underreporting of assets. Subramanian and Jayaraj (2006) estimate that debts are, on average, underrepresented by a factor of 2.93 in the AIDIS.

Of the 13 countries for which we have the pertinent data, the US again ranks first in net worth per capita, at $143,857, followed on a PPP basis by Australia at $101,597, and Japan at $91,856. In this group, India is last, at $6,513 on a PPP basis and $1,112 on an exchange rate basis, preceded by Indonesia, at $7,973 on a PPP basis and $1,440 using official exchange rates. China appears to be about twice as wealthy as India, having per capita net worth of $11,267 on a PPP basis or 2,613 using official exchange rates.

‘Thirds’ feature prominently in describing the overall pattern of results. India dominates the bottom third of the global wealth distribution, contributing a little under a third (27 per cent to be precise) of this group.

The middle third of the distribution is the domain of China which supplies more than a third of those in deciles 4-8.

At the top end, North America, Europe and highincome Asia monopolise the top decile, each regional group accounting for around one third of the richest wealth holders, although the composition changes a little in the upper tail, with the North American share rising while European membership declines.

Another notable feature is the relatively constant membership share of Asian countries other than China and India.

As regards the rankings of individual countries, Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey and Argentina are now all promoted into the exclusive class of countries with more than 1 per cent of the members of the global top wealth decile. The most dramatic rise, however, is that of China which leapfrogs into fifth position with 4.1 per cent of the members. Even without an increase in wealth inequality, a relatively modest rise in average wealth in China will move it up to third position in
the global top decile, and overtaking Japan is not a remote prospect.

‘One should be clear about what is meant by “wealth”,’ say co-authors James Davies of the University of Western Ontario, Anthony Shorrocks and Susanna Sandstrom of UNU-WIDER, and Edward Wolff of New York University. ‘In everyday conversation the term “wealth” often signifies little more than “money income”. On other occasions economists use “wealth” to refer to the value of all household resources, including human capabilities.’

‘We use the term in its long-established sense of net worth: the value of physical and financial assets less debts. In this respect, wealth represents the ownership of capital. Although capital is only one part of personal resources, it is widely believed to have a disproportionate impact on household wellbeing and economic success, and more broadly on economic development and growth.’

Wealth levels across countries

Using currency exchange rates, global household wealth amounted to $125 trillion in the year 2000, equivalent to roughly three times the value of total global production (GDP) or to $20,500 per person. Adjusting for differences in the cost-of-living across nations raises the value of wealth to $26,000 per capita when measured in terms of purchasing power parity dollars (PPP$).

The world map shows per capita wealth of different countries. (Figure 1: World Wealth Levels in Year 2000) Average wealth amounted to $144,000 per person in the USA in year 2000, and $181,000 in Japan. Lower down among countries with wealth data are India, with per capita assets of $1,100, and Indonesia with $1,400 per capita.

Per capita wealth levels vary widely across countries. Even within the group of high-income OECD nations the range includes $37,000 for New Zealand and $70,000 for Denmark and $127,000 for the UK.

Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe, and high income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90% of total world wealth. (Figure 2: Regional Wealth Shares)

Although North America has only 6% of the world adult population, it accounts for 34% of household wealth. Europe and high income Asia-Pacific countries also own disproportionate amounts of wealth. In contrast, the overall share of wealth owned by people in Africa, China, India, and other lower income countries in Asia is considerably less than their population share, sometimes by a factor of more than ten. (Figure 3: Population and Wealth Shares by Region)

The study finds wealth to be more unequally distributed than income across countries. High income countries tend to have a bigger share of world wealth than of world GDP. The reverse is true of middle- and low-income nations. However, there are exceptions to this rule, for example the Nordic region and transition countries like the Czech Republic and Poland.

The authors of the UNU-WIDER study explain that in Eastern European countries ‘private wealth is on the rise, but has still not reached very high levels. Assets like private pensions and life insurance are held by relatively few households. In the Nordic countries, the social security system provides generous public pensions that may depress wealth accumulation.’

World wealth inequality

The concentration of wealth within countries varies significantly but is generally high. The share of the top 10% ranges from around 40% in China to 70% in the United States, and higher still in other countries.

The Gini value, which measures inequality on a scale from zero to one, gives numbers in the range from 35% to 45% for income inequality in most countries. In contrast, Gini values for wealth inequality are usually between 65% and 75%, and sometimes exceed 80%.

Two high wealth economies, Japan and the United States, show very different patterns of wealth inequality, with Japan having a wealth Gini of 55% and the USA a wealth Gini of around 80%.

Wealth inequality for the world as a whole is higher still. The study estimates that the global wealth Gini for adults is 89%. The same degree of inequality would be obtained if one person in a group of ten takes 99% of the total pie and the other nine share the remaining 1%.

Where do the world’s wealthy live?

According to the study, almost all of the world’s richest individuals live in North America, Europe, and rich Asia-Pacific countries. Each of these groups of countries contribute about one third of the members of the world’s wealthiest 10%. (Figure 4: Regional Composition of Global Wealth Distribution)

China occupies much of the middle third of the global wealth distribution, while India, Africa, and low-income Asian countries dominate the bottom third.

For all developing regions of the world, the share of population exceeds the share of global wealth, which in turn exceeds the share of members of the wealthiest groups. (Figure 3: Population and Wealth Shares by Region)

A small number of countries account for most of the wealthiest 10% in the world. One-quarter are Americans and another 20% are Japanese. (Figure 5: Percentage Membership of Wealthiest 10%)

These two countries feature even more strongly among the richest 1% of individuals in the world, with 37% residing in the USA and 27% in Japan. (Figure 6: Percentage Membership of Wealthiest 1%)

According to Anthony Shorrocks, a country’s representation in the rich person’s club depends on three factors: the size of the population, average wealth, and wealth inequality.

‘The USA and Japan stand out’, he says, ‘because they have large populations and high average wealth. Although Switzerland and Luxembourg have high average wealth, their populations are small. China on the other hand fails to feature strongly among the super-rich because average wealth is modest and wealth is evenly spread by international standards. However, China is already likely to have more wealthy residents than our data reveals for the year 2000, and membership of the super-rich seems set to rise fast in the next decade.’

Composition of household wealth

The UNU-WIDER study shows major international differences in the composition of assets, resulting from different influences on household behaviour such as market structure, regulation, and cultural preferences.

Real property, particularly land and farm assets, are more important in less developed countries. (Figure 7: Asset Composition in Selected Countries) This reflects not only the greater importance of agriculture, but also immature financial institutions.

The study also reveals striking differences in the types of financial assets owned. Savings accounts feature strongly in transition economies and in some rich Asian countries, while share-holdings and other types of financial assets are more evident in rich countries in the West. (Figure 8: Composition of Financial Wealth in Selected Countries)

According to the authors of the UNU-WIDER study, savings accounts tend to be favoured in Asian countries because ‘there appears to be a strong preference for liquidity and a lack of confidence in financial markets. Other types of financial assets are more prominent in countries like the UK and USA which have well developed financial sectors and which rely heavily on private pensions.’

Surprisingly, household debt is relatively unimportant in poor countries. As the authors of the study point out: ‘While many poor people in poor countries are in debt, their debts are relatively small in total. This is mainly due to the absence of financial institutions that allow households to incur large mortgage and consumer debts, as is increasingly the situation in rich countries’

The authors go on to note that ‘many people in high-income countries have negative net worth and—somewhat paradoxically—are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth.’

Download the Report here

Power Point Presentation

54% from Hindutva heart land want to settle down in US

February 27, 2006

A recent  opinion poll by Outlook—AC Nielsen  shows that 46 % of India’s urban class want to settle down in US. Interestingly, 54 % of Ahmedabad residents want to settle down in the US even their Chief Minister, Narendra Modi was denied an American Visa.

The survey  results is a blow to Hindutva’s copy righted ” Your patriotism is not enough!”  slogan against Muslims. 63 % from Lucknow, 69 % from Patna and 59 % from Hyderabad, said NO to the same question, which is having considerable muslim population. But, in Ahmedabad, the Hindutva heart land, only 38 % said NO to this question.
Survey proves that  “Right Wing Nationalism” and “Pseudo Patriotism” promoted by Hindutva fascism  cannnot sell  any more among urban Indians.
The survey was conducted in major indian cities like,  Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Patna. 37 % of the participants were looking for  Job opportunities in the  US, while 22 % them fall in love with America’s high standard of living. 38 % praised high technology owned by US.

49 % of Indians favoured Bill Clinton comparing to 43 % for Bush. 72 % consider US as a bully. Only 30 % of Indians believe US as a close ally to India, while 50 % think they are more inclined to Pakistan. On average, the results exhibit the views of a generation married to “cola” and “bubble gum” and far removed from the times when the word “India” stirred the heart, when a call from “bharath matha” meant everything else was the second lead. It is the vision of an urban generation that has its own priorities: discos, jobs and jeans. The poll results should remind a famous quote to our politicians “To love our country, Our country must be lovely”

Story of Migration from India 

In fact, Indians migrated to US is not contributing much to India’s economy comparing to Indians living in Gulf countries.Remittances from the region have continued to grow and formed the cornerstone of Kerala’s economy during 1999-2004. In 2002-03, remittances were to the tune of $14.8 billion in Kerala alone. It is expected that  remittances would go up from $21.7 billion in 2004 to $24 billion in 2005.  Nearly half of more than three million Indians working in various Gulf countries are from Kerala. They are credited with having boosted Kerala’s economy in the past three decades by sending remittances worth billions of rupees every month. During 2004, the remittance was reached 18460 crore rupees. As a result of remittances, the per capita income in Kerala has increased by 5,678.

Foreign remittances to the state have been 7 times of what kerala received from the Government of India as budget support. They have formed 1.8 times of the annual budget of the state and 1.74 times the revenue receipts of the state and the remittance were sufficient to wipe out 60% of the state’s debt in 2003!

Unlike United States, Gulf countries don’t provide citizenship to foreigners which causes them to invest more in India. “Any society which scorns plumbing will soon realise that there are neither any pipes nor any water to drink.” The observation by a Dubai-based NRI Suresh Kumar, quoting a Greek philosopher, set the tone at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2006 in Hyderabad.

At an open session on the Indians in the Gulf, the NRIs lamented that despite being the “real freedom fighters”, espousing the cause of all Indians, they get a raw deal not only at the hands of the government of the countries for which ‘they live and die’ but also from their motherland.

It’s always the ‘celebrity overseas Indians from the UK and the US’ who get all kinds of attention and walk away with dual citizenships, they deplored.

What making Indians to settle down in America?

On July 3, 1946, a bill passed through  US Congress to allow citizenship to Indian nationals. The bill was signed by President Truman. In 1949, Dalip Singh Saund became a US citizen, and four years later he became the first Asian to be elected to the US Congress. July 3 considered to be the true Independence Day for Indian nationals in the US.
Rajiv Desai, a US  thinker of Indian origin recently wrote an article about the  American dreams of Indians:

Talking to Indians in all walks of life in America, he became convinced that the key factor in the emigration of middle-class youth was the ideology propagated by the ruling elite in India.

“Over the years, the country came to be held in thrall by a government-anointed nexus of bureaucrats, politicians, academicians and businessmen, the so-called “privilegentsia.” Under this dispensation, connections counted for more than achievement, privilege more than performance. For ordinary middle-class families, with no strings to pull, there were simply no opportunities to make a decent and dignified living.”

“Today, as the wave of crude nationalism begins to recede in the face of severe problems of governance and finance, the “privilegentsia” is up to its old tricks again. This time, it seeks to revive jingoism by projecting Indian as a “beauty superpower.” This is with reference to the rash of “Miss World” and “Miss Universe” awards that have come the way of Indian contestants at mindless beauty pageants that are made for television and commercial endorsements. ”

“Meanwhile, Indian foreign policy is reduced to disputes with OECD members about visas for Indian computer programmers, who are shipped to the Silicon Valley and elsewhere, much like indentured labor of earlier times, to perform mindless tasks for Western firms at a fraction of the cost of local employees.

On the other hand, domestic policy is exercised by such weighty issues as match-fixing and illegal betting on cricket, a game with which India’s millions are obsessed. At the same time, the real issues of governance such as water, power, roads, pollution, jobs, fiscal deficits, subsidies and the privatization of the parasitical public sector are caught up in the familiar political battles over turf and spoils.

“The “privilegentsia” does not give up that easily. It will try to hold on to its power as long as possible, never mind the country and its pressing problems.” he says

Why Do Indians Flee India? Sikh Spectrum Monthly, Issue No.10, March 2003
http://www.sikhspectrum.com/032003/flee_india.htm  

Another US Thinker of Indian diaspora, Dinesh Dsouza, questions the reverse thinking habit of Hindutva fascists:

“In general, America is the only country in the world that extends full membership to outsiders. The typical American could come to India,live for 40 years, and take Indian citizenship. But he could not “become Indian.” He wouldn’t see himself that way, nor would most Indians see him that way. In America, by contrast, hundreds of millions have come from far-flung shores and over time they, or at least their children, have in a profound and full sense “become American.”

“America offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country, including the countries of Europe. America is the only country that has created a population of “self-made tycoons.” Only in America could Pierre Omidyar, whose parents are Iranian and who grew up in Paris, have started a company like eBay. Only in America could Vinod Khosla, the son of an Indian army officer, become a leading venture capitalist, the shaper of the technology industry, and a billionaire to boot. Admittedly tycoons are not typical, but no country has created a better ladder than America for people to ascend from modest circumstances to success.”

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/06/29/IN290713.DTL&type=printable

The Indian diaspora is today the third largest Asian community in the US, is upwardly mobile and is on its way to becoming a political force in that country. Cherian Samuel, a scholar at the Institute of Defence Studies and Anlyses (IDSA), made the observation during a seminar  held in New Delhi on Thursday on Indo-US relations, organised ahead of George W. Bush’s visit.

Samuel said Indian Americans totalled about 1.7 million in the US according to the 2000 census, their numbers having gone up by an incredible 106 percent since 1990. It grew at a rate of 7.6 percent annually in the last 10 years.

“In the process, Indian Americans replaced Japanese Americans as the third largest Asian community in the US after the Chinese (2.7 million) and Filipinos (1.9).”

He said much of this was fuelled by the technology boom in the 90s when Indian techies made their way to the US in large numbers. The number of H1-B visas issued to India jumped from 2,697 in 1990 to 15,228 in 1995 and to 55,047 in 2000.

“The number of Indians getting Green Cards every year has also more than doubled since 1999,” Samuel said. “And Green Cards are one step away from citizenship which gives full voting rights.

“No doubt,” he added, “Indian Americans will become a political force in the years to come.”

Samuel pointed out that Indian Americans were much above the median on a score of indices. Sixty-four percent of them were college educated as against the national average of 27 percent.

The average median family income for the Indian American community was estimated at $70,000, against the average family income of $50,000.

The Indian community was also upwardly mobile and included a large number of professionals.

To take a point, Samuel said, 38 percent of all physicians in the US were of Indian origin, as were 10 percent of all medical practitioners.

The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin was the largest ethnic medical organisation in the US, with an active membership of over 9,000 doctors and representing more than 38,000 doctors of Indian origin.

One in every nine Indians in the US was a millionaire, comprising 10 percent of the estimated 1.2 million US millionaires, Samuel said.

“Many of them are located in Silicon Valley. About a third of engineers in the Silicon Valley are of Indian descent. It is estimated that 35 percent of the technical workforce of Boeing is Indian American.

“And between 10-30 percent of the workforce in Microsoft and NASA are of Indian origin. There are also over 5,000 Indians on the faculties of US universities. This list can go on and on.”

Quoting a Merrill Lynch market study, Samuel said that Indian Americans had a net worth of $90 billion. “Given the right (Indian) government policies, much of this could be channelised into investing in India.”

Samuel also touched upon the reverse brain drain now taking place, and said a large number of Indian Americans were returning to India, bringing along the best professional practices and exposure to an international environment.

He said the diaspora played a key role in projecting India’s soft power and creating global awareness about the country. One way this was achieved was by their demand for Bollywood movies, which then entered the mainstream market in the US.

But Samuel said it would be too early to credit too much power and influence for the Indian community in the US although they contributed heavily to the coffers of both the main political parties.

“However, these groups are nowhere near acquiring the influence of their role model, the Jewish Caucus,” he said.

One reason for this, he explained, was that the Indian Americans were a relatively new entrant on the American political scene and “are yet to build up networks and war chests that would be needed to sustain an enterprise”

Full Survey  Report  can be seen at:

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20060306&fname=Cover+Story&sid=1

60,000 arrest warrants against politicians pending in West Bengal

February 19, 2006

KOLKATA — West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya says he has no option but to arrest wanted politicians because Election Commission wants all arrest warrants against political leaders to be executed come what may before poll dates are announced. Bhattacharya expressed his helplessness yesterday on the floor of the West Bengal legislative assembly. “Personally, I’m opposed to arresting politicians. But I have to follow the EC’s directives. My hands are tied”, the CM told the house. Almost 60,000 arrest warrants issued by courts against politicians of all hues were pending in the state until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, EC ordered chief secretary, home secretary, director-general of police and state election officer to appear before the poll panel in New Delhi on February 20 to give them a dressing down for their failure to arrest politicians. Since the summons, 1,400 arrest warrants have been executed at breck-neck speed across the Left Front ruled state in deference to the powerful EC’s diktat.

Senior officials said the commission’s instruction to execute all non-bailable warrants has been conveyed to all district superintendents of police and raids are taking places everywhere in the state. Mamata Banerjee had earlier dared the government to execute a warrant against her. The Barasat court had ordered the police to arrest her in connection with a 1994 incident in the North 24-Parganas district headquarters in which a man was killed in police firing. But the police did nothing. State CPI(M) secretary, Anil Biswas, said the government had no plans to arrest the Trinamool Congress chief, because it didn’t want to hand a poll plank to the opposition on a platter. In the Assembly, Bhattacharya said without naming Banerjee that the Barasat incident was much more dangerous than the case in which CPI(M) Minister Narayan Biswas had to resign from the government and surrender in court.

Significantly, Biswas put in his papers on Bhattacharya’s insistence. The warrant against Biswas, a leader from Balurghat, was pending for 26 years. “Having learnt about the status of Narayan’s case, we asked him to resign. But we didn’t do that in your (the Trinamool leader’s) case. I don’t want to touch you at all. But my only compulsion is the Election Commission”, the CM said looking in the direction of TC legislators. Things suddenly started moving after EC, which is very unhappy with the West Bengal government’s failure to execute thousands of non-bailable arrest warrants, summoned senior-most state officials to Delhi for a dressing down. But the government’s strategy for execeuting the arrest warrant against Banerjee is still a mystery.

Luxury in India is Rs 65,000 crore business: Study

February 19, 2006

MUMBAI: The Indian customer is spending more on luxury items, whose market is pegged at a whopping Rs 65,000 crore and growing at about 14 per cent a year, a new study reveals.

According to the report by Technopak Advisors Ltd, India currently has 1.6 million households earning over Rs 45 lakh per annum, and each of these households spends about Rs four lakh per annum on such goods and services. The report categorised luxury households and also classified them into four distinct segments.

“While over 1 million luxury households have been slotted as luxuriented, the topmost segment 6-7 million have been termed very affluent, 10 million as getting there and up to 15 million upper middle-class households as mid-affluents,” Technopak Advisors chairman Arvind Singhal said. The research is based on a study that took into account households that earn Rs 40 lakh per annum or more.

The company met 4,000 affluent consumers in 12 cities and covered 17 products and services. Affluence has been defined by car ownership, overseas travel in the last six months and purchase of products in luxury categories.

The categories taken into consideration for the survey included clothing, fashion accessories, timewear, footwear, fragrances, jewellery and digital accessories, furniture and antiques, tableware, collectibles, fine dining and gourment food, wines and liquor, vacation, health and entertainment.

The market opportunity across these categories is estimated at Rs 64,000 crore and is accounted for by categories such as jewellery that has 27 percent of the pie, clothing 16 percent, digital accessories 13 percent, timewear 8 percent and cosmetics and skincare 8 percent.

Technopak’s knowledge company associate director Saloni Nangia said Indian luxury retailing has not taken off due to lack of proper atmosphere. “Organised retailing itself has taken off in India very lately. All the malls have been coming only recently. With more development on in Delhi and Mumbai better retailing atmosphere is being created. This will help in the future growth,” Nangia said.

However, she did not see much contribution of FDI in the segment’s future growth.
PTI