Category Archives: Asia

Common economic agenda vital for the region – Cabraal

Hiran H. SENEWIRATNE

The South Asian region has to work for a common economic framework/model fitting to each country in the region to achieve a sustainable economic growth in the long term perspective, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.

“We are the people creating our society, therefore we have to find our strategies for the best interest of the future generation in the next coming decades,” addressing the SAARC Finance Governors’ Symposium and Inaugural International Research Conference held at Central Bank said.

The event was organised by the Central Bank and Governors and its officials participated from all SAARC member countries.

He said the South Asia known to be quiet region at one time, but during the last few years this region took a new stunt achieving a high growth momentum especially India, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Continue reading

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‘Asian cities struggling against urbanisation’

SINGAPORE: Asian cities need help to cope with an unprecedented period of urbanisation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday, stressing the future prosperity of Asian cities is at stake.

Providing adequate water supplies and infrastructure are among the key issues facing urban planners and policymakers, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said, adding that few Asian cities have successfully dealt with sudden expansion.

Unprecedented: “Asia’s rapid urbanisation is unprecedented,” Kuroda said in a speech to the World Cities Summit in Singapore, explaining that around 1.1 billion Asians are expected to migrate to cities in search of economic stability over the next 20 years.

“Improving the livelihood and quality of life for so many city dwellers is an urban management task of a magnitude never before attempted by humanity.

“Clearly, Asian cities need assistance in coping with the physical impact of past and current urban growth.”

The Tokyo-Yokohoma area and Shanghai are rare urban success stories in Asia, Kuroda said.

“Unfortunately such successes are not the norm but the exception,” he said.

In most parts of Asia, investment in infrastructure has failed to keep up with economic growth, and where there are new investments, the benefits have not been distributed equally”.

Aside from the need to invest in infrastructure, the region needs technical assistance, which is critical for sustaining growth, he said.

To this end, the ADB has launched a water financing initiative that aims to provide 200 million Asians with access to safe drinking water, said Kuroda. A book launched on the sidelines of the summit indicates the region suffers from an “infrastructure deficit” as governments run into difficulty raising the funds needed. “The revenue sources of local governments are usually insufficient to meet the large, long-term finance needs of infrastructure,” the ADB said in the book “Managing Asian Cities.”

“Their infrastructure investment has often come through grants or loans from central governments but these governments also face resource limitations.

“The result is an infrastructure deficit.”

The ADB estimates the region’s infrastructure funding requirements at 60 billion US dollars annually, part of which will need to be financed by Asia’s capital markets. afp

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Asia beset by petty corruption: UN

* UNDP report says small-scale corruption limits poor’s access to education and basic health services
* Says natural resources being destroyed by illegal activity

JAKARTA: A few hundred baht here, a few thousand rupees there – a major United Nations report released on Thursday said “petty corruption” is a massive drain on Asian economic growth and hits the poor hardest.

The sort of bribes many Asians pay as a matter of course are worsening child mortality rates and perpetuating poverty across the region, the report said.

“Petty corruption is a misnomer,” said Anuradha Rajivan, who led the team that compiled the UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, titled “Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives”.

“Dollar amounts may be relatively small but the demands are incessant, the number of people affected is enormous and the share of poor people’s income diverted to corruption is high,” she said, adding that too much attention focused on the “big fish” in anti-corruption drives and not on the low-level vice that affects countless Asians daily.

“Hauling the rich and powerful before the courts may grab headlines but the poor will benefit more from efforts to eliminate the corruption that plagues their everyday lives,” she said. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, corruption, Development, governance, Poverty

Agricultural corporations boast huge profits in midst of food crisis

By Naomi Spencer

As inflation and shortages expose billions to hunger worldwide, agricultural giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Company revealed a 42 percent leap in quarterly profits. The announcement follows similarly skyrocketing earnings reports from half a dozen other agribusinesses and suppliers, as well as from major oil companies BP, Shell, and Exxon.

For the third fiscal quarter ending March 31, ADM reported $517 million in profit. In an April 29 conference call, executives attributed record earnings throughout all of the company’s operations to an enormous increase in speculative activity in commodities markets.

“Volatility in commodity markets presented unprecedented opportunities,” ADM chief executive Patricia Woertz told investor analysts in on the call. “Once again, our team leveraged our financial flexibility and global asset base to capture those opportunities to deliver shareholder value.”

Commodities markets have been flooded with investors from out of the credit and housing markets looking for more sound sources of profit. As a result, the grain, metals and oil markets have been subject to rampant turnover of stocks and huge fluctuations in the valuation of the most basic goods. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Bangladesh, capitalism, corruption, Food Security, Globalization, Inequality, multinationals, Poverty, procurement, World

Differentiation, Development, (Dis)Integration: education in Nepal’s ‘People’s War’

 An excellent article by ROBIN SHIELDS, (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and JEREMY RAPPLEYE, (University of Oxford, United Kingdom)

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A violent conflict between Maoist insurgents and the national government has engulfed Nepal for most of the last decade, a situation that has been complicated by deep-seated instability at the highest levels of the government itself. Even with the declaration of a ceasefire in 2006, violence endures in pockets of lawless banditry and unrest at the hands of separatist groups. During the conflict, education and schools played a central role, with issues such as the neglect of rural schools, the right to mother tongue education, and the expansion of private schooling figuring prominently in the Maoists’ list of grievances. Both sides used intimidation and violence to gain support from rural schools, which acted as one of the lone advocates of community interests during the upheaval. This article argues that throughout the conflict formal education in Nepal has simultaneously presented many faces: on one hand it contributed to the conflict by reinforcing social inequalities while on the other it mitigated the effects of the conflict by maintaining social cohesion and mediating between opposing sides. In other cases it seemingly did both at once: acting as an egalitarian force by expanding basic education and literacy at an astounding rate while simultaneously excluding certain groups from sharing the benefits of the country’s development. Building upon the work of Bush & Salterelli, the article shows that in the case of Nepal education presents not two but many faces that are highly contextual and remain relevant in the post-conflict environment.

 ROBIN SHIELDS, JEREMY RAPPLEYE (2008) Differentiation, Development, (Dis)Integration: education in Nepal’s ‘People’s War’, Research in Comparative and International Education, 3(1), pp. 91-102 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2008.3.1.91 

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Filed under Asia, education, Nepal, Poverty, South Asia

Global food prices rise and famine increases

By Barry Mason

The United Nations body World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in global food prices will reduce its ability to feed hungry and malnourished people.

Speaking last month in Rome, where the WFP is based, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “Our ability to reach people is going down just as needs go up…. We are seeing a new face of hunger in which people are being priced out of the food market…. Situations that were previously not urgent—they are now.”

In a press release, the WFP gave a new estimate for the funds needed for its work this year at nearly US$3.5 billion, half a billion more than estimated last year. This money is for approved projects to feed 73 million people in 78 countries throughout the world. It notes that this money is for projected feeding schemes and does not include unforeseen emergencies that may arise.

It also notes that the poorest people on earth will have to spend an increasing portion of their meagre income on food. The WFP warns that these people will be forced to buy less food, or less nutritious food, or rely on outside help.

The countries that will be most affected include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Djibouti, the Gambia, Togo, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Senegal, all on the African continent. Also affected will be Haiti, Myanmar (Burma), Yemen and Cuba. Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Development, Food Security, Globalization, Poverty, Social Protection, World

World’s warehouse for illegal organs

Source: Hindustan Times

“Illegal organ trafficking accounts for as much as 10 percent of all transplants worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In the last two decades, Asia had made up a large share of this flourishing black market. Promising quick, easy and cheap procurement of life-saving organs to foreigners who see it as their last hope, the region witnesses billions of dollars changing hands every month among iniquitous brokers, desperate patients, poverty-stricken donors and dishonest doctors.

In fact, 90 percent of the donors in the region come from below the poverty line and 90 percent of these donors agree to donate only to ease their financial troubles. Until 2006, China was the top host country for transplants. However, recently tightened regulations may change this. In the absence of less developed medical facilities and the presence of a porous Indo-Nepal border, many Nepalese people come to India to score a better deal for their kidney or liver.”

Full story here

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