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Showing posts from February 7, 2021

Crony Capitalism in Ukraine : Relationship between Political Connectedness and Firms' Performance

Crony Capitalism in Ukraine : Relationship between Political Connectedness and Firms' Performance Abstract This study combines firm-level data and data on politically exposed people to explore correlation between firms' political connectedness and their economic performance in Ukraine. First, it estimates the share of politically connected firms in Ukraine's economy. Second, the study looks at how different the performance of politically connected firms is from that of their nonconnected peers. The analysis finds that 2 percent of firms are politically connected, but they control over 20 percent of the total turnover and over 25 percent of the assets of all Ukrainian companie s .  Over the past two decades, politically connected firms used various channels to access economic rents :  〰public procurement,  〰subsidized loans,  〰transfers from the budget,  〰trade regulations that restrict imports, 〰privileged access to state assets through privatizations,  〰and beneficial tax

Traffic Crash Injuries and Disabilities : The Burden on Indian Society

Road crashes endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of road users globally and in India. Owing to the epidemic of road crashes, in 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2011 - 2020 as the "Decade of Action for Road Safety" and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included two important targets on road safety. The risk of a road crash in low-income countries is three times higher than compared to that in high-income countries. Not only does it lead to untold and unaccounted for suffering and loss for victims and their families, but also, it drains the GDP of countries by claiming millions of economically productive young lives. The World Bank estimates the total cost of Road Traffic Injuries (RTIs) at 172 billion dollars (INR 12.9 lakh crore) for the year 2016. While it is recognized that RTIs affect the developed and developing world in different ways, it also impacts poor households and disadvantaged sections of the population within developing cou

Ph.D. entry in IITs tougher for students from marginalised communities

A view of IIT Madras | Photo Credit:  File Pon Vasanth B.A. CHENNAI  12 FEBRUARY 2021 22:17 IST UPDATED: 13 FEBRUARY 2021 00:10 IST Despite official policy, OBC, SC and ST applicants less likely to gain admission as compared to those from General Categories Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe applicants are half as likely to get selected for a Ph.D. programme at leading IITs in the country as aspirants from the General Category (GC) are. Data collated from a series of RTI applications, including from  The Hindu , on the number of applicants versus the number of those admitted to Ph.D. programmes in the five older IITs has indicated that the acceptance rate is skewed against students from the SC, ST, and Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities. The acceptance rate, which refers to the number of students selected for every 100 students who applied, stood at 4% for students from historically privileged castes (General Category). It falls to 2.7% for OBC students and further down to just


Russia Should Be Invited Back to Arctic Security Forums, New Report Suggests Newport Arctic Scholars Initiative, a network of researchers and sailors from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway, released a  report  on Arctic conflict and cooperation. “The way it is today, deterrence and military posturing are more or less the only signaling that takes place in the Arctic. That may lead to an accelerating security policy challenge in the future,” said Professor Lars Saunes of the U.S. Naval War College. The report identified that NATO is not an adequate platform for conversations on Arctic security, in part because it does not include Russian participation. Instead, the authors recommend reinstating regular convening of the Arctic Chiefs of Defense Forum. This is supported by Nikolay Korchunov, the Russian Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic. Additionally, the authors suggest revamping the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, a similar platform for Arctic s

Welfare for Autocrats: How Social Assistance in China Cares for its Rulers

, Jennifer Pan (Oxford University Press, 2020) ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ That the Chinese Communist Party maintains an extensive domestic surveillance apparatus should come as no surprise to anyone. Maintaining political stability is the clear number one priority for the Chinese authorities and plenty has been written on this subject. But Jennifer Pan’s Welfare for Autocrats sheds a unique light on this issue by analyzing how the provision of welfare can be appropriated for surveillance and social control. The book focuses its attention on the Chinese dibao system – the Minimum Living Standard Assistance that provides cash transfers to the poorest. In theory, anyone below a certain income threshold is eligible for these transfers. However, because the system is severely underfunded, just 16 percent of eligible citizens actually receive the dibao. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in China and test requests to local authorities, Pan demonstrates that, through the allocation of these funds, stability

Guo Shuqing – the regulator set on de-risking China’s fintech sector

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ China’s top banking regulator, Guo Shuqing, is on a mission to rein in the country’s growing fintech sector. As opposed to the traditional banking sector, China’s fintech sector is dominated by private companies. As chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), he is attracting attention as he takes on the task of de-risking and regulating the financial sector. In November last year, he was at the helm when the CBIRC when the decision was taken to halt Ant Group’s USD 37 billion initial public offering, and last month he was behind the issuance of new draft rules that could force the break-up of the company’s online payment arm on antitrust grounds. Taking on Jack Ma has important symbolic value - Guo is quoted as saying no fintech company should be allowed to become “too big to fail”. Guo has been in his current position since 2017 and is also the vice governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), where he heads the bank’s Communist Party

Tracing Fa-Hien’s Journey Through India (399 CE - 414 CE)

Aditi Shah February 8th 2021 “In this desert, there are a great many evil spirits and also hot winds; those who encounter them perish to a man. There are neither birds above nor beasts below. Gazing on all sides as far as the eye can reach in order to mark the track, no guidance is to be obtained save from the rotting bones of dead men, which point the way.” That’s an excerpt from the travel writings of Fa-Hien, a Chinese monk who left Chang’an in 399 CE, at the age of 62, and set forth on an expedition through Central Asia to India, and ultimately Sri Lanka. Accompanied by four others, he was on a mission to visit the land of the Buddha and search for Buddhist texts. The journey was not easy. Sixteen hundred years ago, the Gobi Desert was still untracked and the mountain passes of the Himalayas perilous to pass. It took months to get from one place to another. Weather conditions ranged from scorching heat to sub-zero cold and, with most of the journey done on foot, exposure was a very

Rise of Hindutva has enabled a counter-revolution against Mandal’s gains

The BJP's rise to power may, therefore, result in the promotion of some upper-caste orthopraxy and ethos via state vigilantism. Written by  Christophe Jaffrelot  | Updated: February 10, 2021 8:59:00 am The Modi government has transformed the reservation system. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar) Hindu nationalism is generally defined as an ethno-religious movement. But it may have as much to do with social factors as with identity markers, as its last phase of expansion has been primarily a reaction to Mandal. Soon after the then prime minister, V P Singh, announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, Organiser wrote of “an urgent need to build up moral and spiritual forces to counter any fallout from an expected Shudra revolution”. And when Mandal II happened, the same newspaper argued that the “Congress-led-UPA government at the Centre is bent upon destroying the last bastion of merit…”. After the  BJP  was defeated in 2004, and again in 2009, it became urgent to hon

Chhattisgarh Maoists suffering from betrayal, fewer leaders and weapons, and too many roads

2020 saw a steep decline in Maoist violence with just one major, seven medium and 90 minor ambushes, making it the quietest year in two decades. ASHUTOSH BHARDWAJ 10 February, 2021 An under-construction bridge on the Indravati river that will connect Abujhmad | Ashutosh Bhardwaj H aving recently completed 20 years of the formation of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army or the PLGA, the CPI (Maoist), perhaps the most ideologically committed and dreaded revolutionary movement of Independent India, is facing two huge challenges. First on the organisational front: a lack of trust among the cadres, depleted armoury, and absence of new leadership. Second, the government’s big push towards constructing roads and bridges in the “core area” of Bastar has considerably shrunk the Naxal citadel. Aided by these roads, the Chhattisgarh police has opened as many as 16 new “base camps in the core Naxal area”, which has also led to protests by the local people. Also read:  Chhattisgarh NGO plans digital

Four Ways To Be Funny

Rod A. Martin, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, specializes in clinical psychology and has published his research on humor. In his 2007 book,  The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach , he classified humor into four fundamental categories, centered on a joke’s effect and its target. “Understanding the four styles helps you determine the type of humor you want to use,” says Tarvin, the New York engineer-turned-comic. These important distinctions offer a simple, practical approach to humor that puts speakers in better control of their jokes. Self-Enhancing.  Focuses on yourself in a positive way, showing you thriving through something bad that happened to you.  I’ve learned to accept my limitations, so I can move beyond them! Affiliative.  Focuses on others in a positive way, a type of “we’re all in this together” humor about commonly shared experiences. It’s the safest form to use at work or in a club meeting.  Eve

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO, but these five eccentric leadership tips live on

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO, but these five eccentric leadership tips live on STEPHANIE PALMER-DERRIEN FEBRUARY 3, 2021 AMAZON FOUNDER JEFF BEZOS. Jeff Bezos is set to step down as chief executive of trillion-dollar e-commerce giant Amazon, having held the top job since he founded the tech behemoth out of a garage in 1994. Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair in Q3 this year, with Andy Jassy — currently chief of Amazon Web Services — stepping into the chief executive role. The announcement comes as Amazon reveals its results for Q4 2020, revealing a 72% increase in operating cashflow during the past 12 months. Operating cashflow reached $66.1 billion during 2020, up from $38.5 billion in 2019. An increase in online shopping globally during the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the company’s share price skyrocket. It currently has a market cap of almost US$1.7 trillion. Bezos himself is reportedly worth about US$185.7 billion. Once considered the richest man in th