80 percent of Indians questioned “God had a human form”

India sees God as creator, not controller – report

Sun Nov 26, 2006

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Most Indians perceive God as a macro-manager responsible for controlling things like the earth’s rotation, rather than being in charge of the actions of humans on a day-to-day basis, a survey said on Saturday.

According to a poll conducted for the Times of India newspaper across 10 cities with 1,007 respondents — which included people of Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh faiths — Indians were not convinced that God controlled our daily lives.

“(God) is seen as the Creator — 91 percent feel God controls macro-affairs like the rotation of the earth or the cycle of life and death,” the newspaper reported.

“A significant 46 percent said (God) was an observer, not a controller.”

Predominately Hindu India is seen as being a deeply religious country where idol worship and superstitious beliefs are widely adhered to, but the poll found that only one third of Indians sensed the presence of God in idols.

While 80 percent of Indians questioned thought God had a human form, 23 percent felt God was male and 11 percent believed God was female. Forty-nine percent thought God took both a female and male form.

The poll, conducted by market research firm TNS for the daily newspaper, also found 54 percent of Indians believed God answered their prayers and 56 percent thought God was never unjust.

The newspaper said that while India is often perceived as a land of God-fearing people, God is seen by many as more a source of energy than someone to be feared.

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More Indians enter Fiji’s prison system

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The growth rate of Indians entering the prison system over the past three years exceeds the growth rate of Fijians, a study by the Australia and Fiji Law Justice Sector Program has revealed.

And the majority of prisoners in jail today are between the ages of 20-25 years, according to the report by Rehabilitation Adviser David Evans.

It calculated that in 2002 the average prison population was 354 but this figure later sky-rocketed to 501.

It said the significant rise in sentenced prisoners could be owed to increased police efficiency in detection and prosecution, to changes in sentencing practices or demographic changes.

“Whatever the reason, the increase in numbers has placed considerable pressure on a system that already had difficulty coping with inadequate resources,” the report said.

“Being at the end of the criminal justice process chain, prisons have little control over the numbers of prisoners it has had to deal with. Fiji Prisons Service is continually being stretched to the limits.”

A large number of people have been held in remand for short periods but this has a considerable bearing on the workload of the prison authorities, the report said. For this year alone, 1358 prisoners were held in remand, the report said.

It said there were serious shortcomings in prisoner rehabilitation and an over representation of young prisoners serving very short sentences for minor cases.

And together with the lack of programs to address offending behaviour, these factors contributed to prisoners overcrowding in antiquated unsuitable prison accommodation, the report said.

NRIs sent $20 billion from Arabian Gulf Countries

* India recieved $23 billion remittance during 2005-06 from NRIS
* Non Gulf NRIs contributed only $ 3 billion
* A whopping amount of $ 20 billion was from Arabian Gulf
* Kerala recieved  the huge portion
* FDIS from GCC exceeded $ 2 billion this year
* India calls for more Arab investment

Nov 13, 2006,

New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) India Monday reiterated its solidarity with the Arab world, home to over a four million strong Indian diaspora, and called for converting longstanding historical and civilizational ties into a vibrant economic partnership.

‘We should use attitudinal ties between people to enhance trade linkages between India and the Arab world. Oil-exporting countries of the Arab world, in particular, should increase investment in India,’ Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in his inaugural address at an international conference at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre on promoting India-Arab economic relations.

The two-day conference, which is being attended by ministers, diplomats, academics, business and opinion leaders from India and Arab countries, has been organised by the Indo-Arab Economic Cooperation Forum and the Institute of Objective Studies.

Underlining India’s centuries old multi-faceted ties with the Arab world, Chidambaram spoke about geographical proximity, long-standing cultural and trading ties and ‘unbroken relation of cordiality’ between the two sides.

He, however, rued that the foreign investment from Arab countries in India are much below potential. Even rich Arab countries are not investing in India enough, he said.

To further accelerate bilateral trade and investment, the minister said that India will be signing bilateral investment protection agreement with more Arab countries and discussions are already going on for negotiating a free trade area (FTA) between the two sides.

Calling Indian workers in the Gulf countries ‘an investment of human capital in the Arab world,’ Chidambaram said remittances from Indians working in these countries worked out to a whopping $20 billion. In the first quarter of this year alone, remittances have exceeded $6 billion, he said.

Bilateral trade between India and the Arab world has been growing steadily and will scale new heights in the future, he said. FDI from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has exceeded $2 billion this year.

Besides the continuing cooperation in energy sector, the Arab countries supply nearly 30 per cent of India’s crude oil needs, IT, infrastructure, biotechnology, nanotechnolgy, and financial services are key future areas of bilateral cooperation between India and the Arab world.

Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, lauded the rise of India on the global stage and praised the strong fundamentals of India’s economy as exhibited in its high economic growth and its increasing attractiveness as a hub of investment for the world.

Alluding to Indian Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘development is freedom,’ Ibrahim, who was the guest speaker, said that the Arab countries should take a ‘closer look’ at India and called for balancing economic growth with a more humane social order.

‘In India and the Arab world, we have to maximise the opportunities that globalisation is creating to ensure that there is inclusive and all-round growth in our regions,’ said Mohammad Manzoor Alam, president of Indo-Aran Economic Cooperation Forum.

India received the highest inbound remittance estimated at $23 billion in 2005-06, while China received $21 billion. In 2004-05, China received $20 billion and India received $18 billion.

Interestingly, India received the highest inbound remittances with only 22 million non-resident Indians, while there are about 40 million Chinese residing outside China. Western Union managing director (South Asia) Anil Kapur said this was primarily due to the social and family structure in India.

Interestingly, India received the highest inbound remittances with only 22 million non-resident Indians, while there are about 40 million Chinese residing outside China. Kapur said this was primarily due to the social and family structure in India.

“The number of Indians going abroad is increasing every year and the money coming into the country in the form of remittances is also swelling,” MoneyGram International country manager Harsh Lambah said, adding the industry is all set to witness further growth. As per an estimate, about half a million Indians migrate annually.

Kapur also said this industry needs to be more organised as it would directly add to the foreign exchange kitty. Remittances are high in all the southern states, apart from a few in the north like Punjab.

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

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

Indians want to go to US and England : VS Naipaul

Indo-Asian News Service, Brussels, November 8, 2006
Nobel laureate VS Naipaul believes that India is heading for a cultural clash between the city-dwellers and the village population.

People in cities are turning their backs to Indian civilisation. They want green cards. They want to migrate. They want to go to England. They want to go to the US, Naipaul told media persons at the Centre For Fine Arts, Bozar, here.

“There is a fracture at this moment of great hope for India. A fracture in the country itself. It is possibly quite dangerous at the moment,” and added that the consequences “could be a very radical kind of revolution – village against city”.

However, at the same time, Naipaul said that India “is a very dynamic, moving culture.”

Naipaul aired similar views during the reading and interview session for the general public as part of the ongoing India Festival at the Bozar Saturday evening.

During the press meeting, Naipaul held forth on various issues, reports INEP agency.

“There is no tradition of reading in India. There is no tradition of contemporary literature,” he claimed. It was only in Bengal that there was a kind of renaissance and a literary culture, he said and added: “But in the rest of India until quite recently people had no idea what books were for.”

Reading in India, he claimed, was limited to books on wise sayings.

According to him,

“Indians have no regard for museums”

He recalled that Rabindranath Tagore’s house and university has been pillaged.

“They stole even his Nobel medal”, he said.

“The idea of a museum is a Western idea. It’s not an Indian idea. The idea is that these things are old, they are finished.”

Naipaul asserted that at the end the British rule in India was “very good.”

“They gave a lot back to India. All the institutions that now work in India were given by the British. So the British period was not that bad.”

He dismissed Mahatma Gandhi’s book “Indian home rule” published in 1909 as an “absurdity.” He said:

“Its an absurdity. He knows nothing. He said he wrote it in two weeks. He is against everything that is modern in 1909.”

Denouncing multiculturalism as a bad, destructive idea, he said: “Multiculturalism is a very much left-wing idea that gained currency about 20 years ago. It’s very destructive about the people it is meant to defend.”

He cited the example of Britain where he said there was a large immigrant population, “many of them bending the laws to be able to stay in England.”

“They wish to do that but at the same time they don’t wish to enter the culture. I think that is parasitic and awful.”

He defended the caste system in India, arguing that “caste is a great internal series of friendly societies and in bad times it kept the country going. But people don’t understand this. It has to be rethought and a new way of looking at it.

“In India it is having trouble at the moment because it rules politics. Foolish people think that the upper castes are oppressing the lower caste. It is the other way,” he said noting that lower castes have reserved seats in education and employment.

Asked if he felt like a European, he replied: “No, not at all. One doesn’t have to be one thing or the other. One can be many things at the same time.”

Could he live in India?

Naipaul paused for a moment, but his wife Nadira replied:

“Yes, quite happily, if we didn’t have a cat. Our cat is an English cat. It is hard for it to live in India, but we can.”

Naipaul added: “If you would have asked me this question fifty years ago, I had to say ‘out of the question’ It would have been impossible. So things are moving and changing all the time.”