Trade Notes: Buy Coal India?

coal mine in India
Image via Wikipedia

The head of Coal India’s IT department told me a remarkable story in the mid-1990s.  They had started putting the CV’s of all their employees (about 800,00 of them, though the numbers were a bit imprecise) into what they called the world’s largest employee database.  That’s when they’d found that some of their employees, if alive, should be more than a century old.

Turns out some of the coolies (the people who would be physically transporting the coal) and other laborers had been transferring employment from father to son and so on.  Each coolie had a medallion as an identity piece, as long as you had one, you could work and you could get paid.  Continue reading “Trade Notes: Buy Coal India?”

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Background: Maoism is bad Enough Without Arundhati Roy

The Naxalite Corridor in India

The Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh considers Maoism the biggest security threat to his country.  Considering India has two nuclear-armed and decidedly unfriendly neighbors, this is a pretty strong statement but I think he’s right.  China is more of a long-term threat, especially in terms of future competition for resources and markets while Pakistan remains a fissiparous, albeit nuclear armed, foe with little strategic depth.  But the Maoist (also called Naxalite after the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal) threat is both more immediate and more critical to the future of India.This counterinsurgency is a reaction to decades of misrule and corruption in some of the poorest Indian States with the worst record of local government.  In a sense, if it hadn’t been for the Naxalites, the long-suffering locals would very probably have had to come up with versions of their own (left, right, extremist Muslim, extremist Hindu, animist, you name it).

Pared down to its essentials, the solution is also somewhat simple (not easy, simple):  fix the military threat, fix the governance.  But India is somewhat ill-prepared to deal with threats like this. Continue reading “Background: Maoism is bad Enough Without Arundhati Roy”