This page is set up as a database of constructive ideas for dealing with problems affecting South Asians inside and outside the subcontinent. Each person can have one page of upto 200 words on each topic. It is not meant to be a point and counter point type of debate as on usenet groups and reference to others should not be made by name if possible . Pages can be updated about once a month and can be deleted at the request of the author but are meant to stay here as a long term record for many years. Topics can range from Kashmir , enviornmental issues , Women's rights or anything that might interest you. Please send your email to ukindia.
What about subsidising taxis to work ? Most peopke will not use public transport even if its free- the inconvenience of walking to and waiting at bus stops in the dark winter months , in rain etc. These can be at long distances as most have moved to the suburbs. Allowing commuters to deduct say $1000 a year for fares to work and allowing the first $10,000 of income from using one's car as a taxi will provide the incentive to use them. A taxi can take three or four sharers to work and come back for more. In the 7-9am rush hours and 5-7 pm return each day each taxi could transport more than 10 and cut down traffic by 50% or more. In the suburbs taxis could transport to the rail station for long distances.
Those countries which ensure that wealth gets into the hands of the most number of people do prosper since it allows their industries to build up economies of scale. However welfare causes great harm to the people who come to depend on it.Far better to give every adult a basic allowance say £50 ($75) a week . A family of four would get about £120 as a right (if child allowance was £10) and it would encourage couples to stay together since heating and other costs would be shared. Of course charities might have to make up the difference if some people needed more and were unable to find any work.
This scheme would encourge people to become part of the economy as more earnings would not make them lose their benefits. To cover all the 30 m adults of Britain would cost about £70 billion a year .Currently about £90 billion is being spent. The rich of course would pay back the £50 in their taxes. it would eliminate signing on and other time wasting. Welfare should not penalise effort and enterprise. Child allowance should be limited to the first three since a large family is the commonest cause of poverty in Britain.
Those countries which adopted the common agricultural policy ie paying the farmer a tiny guaranteed profit for his produce - Switzerland , Germany , the EEC , even USA and India have become self sufficient and quite wealthy (India is an exception because of its immense population growth.) .
It sets up a virtuous cycle - this tiny profit for the farmer translates into demand for tractors etc. more work for city dwellers , higher pay packets ...
In contrast African countries which have been foolish enough to listen to the IMF and cut 'subsidies' to farmers have undergone a marked decline in income.
The moral is subsidising production -space , defence , agriculture , manufacturing (Germany) is good -subsidising consumption -cheap food prices for example is not good.
How can countries like Britain and on the Indian subcontinent increase the number of students going through to University ? Education after all is the prime requiste for wealth creation -in fact as Singapore , Hong Kong and others have shown educated people create their own wealth even in a resource poor country - Singapore now has per capita GNP higher than Britain and three times that of Saudi Arabia !.
One answer is to pay the schoolchildren -say £15 a month provided they get more than 50% marks in all ten subjects in yearly exams from the age of 6.
This is a small sum for the state £180 a year compared to the £2200 per child being spent already but it is an enormous one for the kids and will motivate them - after all many do paper rounds for less than that in the cold weather , and encourage parents to set space aside for them in the house where they can study ,and make the teachers job much more pleasant.Children will cooperate and teach other to make sure their friends get the money as well and disrupters will get the cold shoulder. Hopefully within a year or two ALL children will get more than 50% average and qualify -the few who cant can have more time spent on them.
It doesnt matter if there are no jobs for them at the moment , they will create their own.
Let criminals have three months off for each GCSE subjects they pass in prison. Many will have to learn to read first but at least it will give the brighter ones a goal to work for and it will encourage cooperation as they teach the others. Freedom is what they want the most and three months is a good incentive for non violent prisoners .
A compulsory day of fasting say every Monday would also give them a chance to meditate on why society is angry with them-and why farmers and others do not want to work for robbers etc. One day a week fasting does no harm and will dent the macho image many criminals like to cultiviate as society will feel sorry for them.
The subcontinent is adding people at an alarming rate. One failed monsoon could mean that food imports needed for one billion people could wipe out most of the foreign exchange so painfully accumulated over the past few years. In less than another generation both Pakistan and Bangladesh will pass current US population and India will have more than North America , South America , Africa and Soviet Unions an immense area covering most of the world- combined !. The land needed to grow enough food for all these may mean the end of forests.
What is needed is a non coercive population policy. Paying all girls from the age of 15 say $25 a month about 750 rupees UNTIL the birth of the third child will induice most of them to accept a lifelong bounty and stop at three. It will double family incomes overnight and quadruple it as the women go to work after the birth of the second.
The scheme could be started on a small scale by NRIs by sponsoring one woman $25 each month and if the US and UK govt devoted say 10% of their aid budget to the subcontinent to it -covering about a 1 million women . Even one woman covered in each village would have a tremendous psycholgical impact on others who would wait to become eligible when more funds were available.the time to act is now before famines and warfare due to land and water scarcity starts in the subcontinent.
It would also the raise the status of women since this amount of money which represents less than 2% of the defence budgets of Western govts , would make them into very effective bread winners. Western exports will benefit from the rising prosperity in these countries.
Kashmir is not one homogenous state but a collection of widely different ethnic groups . Independence is not a viable option for these small states since civil war may break out as in Afghanistan or they may be swallowed up by countries like China - as happened to Tibet and Aksai Chin. Chinese soldiers with access to the plains would anyway be unacceptable to the Indian govt.
A referendum should be held in each area under UN auspicies. It is likely that the Northern Territories will vote to stay with Pakistan. Jammu , part of the Valley and Ladakh will choose to remain with India and the rest of the Valley and Azad Kashmir will opt for Pakistan.The Valley could become a permanent demilitarized area . Such a solution would remove a long term irritant between India and Pakistan .