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Today’s Talk on Editorials November 11, 2017- Civils360

Opportunity for India in Asia: The Indian Express

Background: With USA ditching Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement for a “America First” Policy and uncertainty looms over the USA Pivot to Asia policy as well, India has got an opportunity to flex her powers in the continent and be the new “rebalancer” to China’s self proclaimed peaceful rise doctrine.

  • The root of the Asian instability is the changing dynamic between the traditional hegemon, America, and its challenger, China.
  • Washington and Beijing need each other is not in doubt. What happens is on the terms of a new economic and political settlement between the two through the latest diplomatic visit of US to China.There is no clarity on what a potential accommodation might look like.
  • America has put forward to China her  demands for “fair” rather than “free trade”. It also have to balance between problem of accommodating China’s rise without abandoning its long-standing allies and friends in the region.
  • Americas aims was to gain solution for three front problems. One was to get greater reciprocity in the commercial engagement with Asia. The second was to strengthen US alliances and partnerships in the region. Third was to get a better fix on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. It is proving difficult due to the multiple state actors in the region.
  • On the question of political relations, USA and China had nice things to say about the need for greater cooperation and engagement. But there was no apparent breakthrough on the question of North Korea that was at the top of Trump’s agenda.
  • America and China will continue trying for political primacy in Asia, the tension between Washington’s traditional commitment to economic globalization and Trump’s “America First” policies is unlikely to be resolved any time soon; and most countries in the region are beginning to diversify their security partnerships.
  • Delhi has a unique opportunity at her hands in this complex situation. Delhi should stay the course on managing its problems with China and deepening ties with the US and key Asian actors, Japan, Korea, ASEAN, and further afield, with Australia.

Affordable Housing – The Hindu business line

Background: “Housing for All by 2022” aimed for urban areas with following components/options to States/Union Territories and cities:-

a) Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource;
b) Promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy;
c) Affordable housing in partnership with Public & Private sectors and
d) Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.

  • With an estimated slum population of about 65 million and another 0.9 million homeless people in urban India, the Housing for All / Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is an important urban policy thrust. Affordable housing registered growth of 27 per cent between January to September, 2017  compared to an overall residential housing contraction of 33 per cent.
  • At a time when the unilateral, supply-side push for ‘Housing for All’ is at an all-time high,   policy makers have to take informed decisions with empirical data about demand side calculations. An artificial demand side bubble cannot have a favorable cost – benefit ratio.
  • For example , Indian real estate marked by a great deal of unsold inventories was also predicated on false hopes of adequate demand for housing. So, affordable housing projects have to be careful and must be backed by proper data about the demand as well. This is also significant when considering the rising land crunch faced across the country.
  • An alternative way to accommodate the migrants to the urban cities is by having rental housing. The National Urban Rental Housing Policy 2017 is currently awaiting the Cabinet’s approval. An important facet of rental housing is that it would absorb floating population/seasonal migrants, who might not want to invest in property.
  • Policies cannot be designed as an overdrive of hard infrastructure alone, but also incorporate human behavioral insights, for them to be successes, in terms of achievement of outcomes, rather than merely output.