India in The 21st Century

India and The 21st Century

First Published: ADawnJournal.com May 1, 2010

India is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. Going back 5,000 years, there has been organized civilizations living on the Indian subcontinent. Through all this time, India has had an immense impact on our civilization. It was in India where Buddhism first came into being, as did the Hindu religion. In addition, India was as far as Alexander the Great reached before turning back his army and India gave us two of the most important people of the 20th century; Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. What does the 21st century hold for this amazing country? Well, if many experts can be believed, the 21st century may be the century where India becomes a superpower.

Many publications and academic papers cite India as being a potential great power in the 21st century but there are many challenges facing the country. Many consider India to be the underdog in becoming a superpower because of these challenges. First of all, most consider China an emerging superpower, but China is several decades ahead of India in several regards and the average Chinese individual has a better life than the average Indian individual. Other problems that relate to India include immense rural poverty, slums that are often full of disease, corruption and the huge maternal mortality rates that exist within the India subcontinent.

Another problem with India attaining the superpower label in the 21st century is that there are a lot of Indians leaving the country, in massive numbers, which is something that China is also suffering from.

This doesn’t mean that the country is not making headway. For one thing, the caste system which has existed for centuries is being dismantled to allow more upward momentum within the country, allowing more to live the lives they have always dreamed of. In addition, the country, unlike China, is completely democratic and is the world’s largest democracy.

Will India become a superpower on the scale of China, Russia, the European Union or the United States in the 21st century? Well, most likely it will not occur within the first 50 years of the century. As the century draws to a close, there is a chance that the country may be able to move more towards becoming a superpower. This does not mean that India will not be important. It will be highly influential in the 21st century and will probably find its way into the upper echelon of countries at the United Nations. The country also has a very successful professional class of people and more and more people are coming out of poverty within the country. The relationship of India with Pakistan is also a problem as both countries are nuclear states and there may be the demand by many other countries that for the country to join the superpowers of the world, some sort of peaceful resolution over the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan must be reached.

India is going to be a powerful country, without a doubt, in the 21st century. Will it be a superpower? Not for many years to come.

What Is The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

First Published: ADawnJournal.com May 8, 2010

Whether you know it or not, there is an organization that has a huge impact on your life and while you probably have heard of it, you may not truly realize all that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) does for you. The IMF is an international organization that looks over the global financial system by applying the policies of macroeconomics to the countries that are members of the Fund. This includes overseeing the exchange rates of countries, as well as the balance of payments within these countries.

The IMF was formed with the objective of stabilizing international exchange rate, while also helping countries develop financially through liberalized economic policies as well as providing loans, aid and restructuring finances. In addition, the IMF offers leveraged loans to poorer countries in order to help them out.

Headquartered out of Washington D.C., the IMF was formed in July of 1944 by the 45 original members during the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. Everything was officially organized on December 27, 1945 when the first 29 countries signed the Articles of Agreement. During the Second World War, the world’s finances were in a chaotic state and it was the purpose of the IMF to help aid in the reconstruction of the international payment system of the world, as well as stabilize the exchange rates that were fluctuating widely at the time. At the time, countries would contribute into a pool that they could temporarily borrow from.

The IMF currently has 186 countries in its membership which work together to create global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, while reducing poverty, in the words of the IMF itself.

All UN member states, with the exception of Taiwan, North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu and Nauru, are members of the IMF.

All of these member states are represented by a 24-member Executive Board. There are five Executive Directors, which are appointed by the five members that have the largest quotas. The rest are made of Executive Directors that have been elected by the remaining members. All the members of the IMF then appoint a Governor to the IMF Board of Governors.

The influence of the IMF has increased greatly over the global economy as the numbers of members have increased over the years. Many cite the IMF as a contributing factor to the political independence of many developing countries, as well as helping usher in the end of the Cold War with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Of course, things have not always been rosy for the IMF. In 2008, when the financial crisis was just beginning, the IMF decided to sell some of its gold reserves. In addition, the IMF has decided to implement a new framework for the organization to help deal with a $400 million budget deficit. By 2011, it is estimated that there will be roughly $100 million in spending cuts and the removal of 380 staff positions in order to help save money.

This was not the end to the changes implemented within the IMF. At the 2009 G-20 London Summit, the IMF decided it would need more financial resources to meet the needs of its member countries as a result of the huge financial toll the global financial crisis was taking. To help, the G-20 leaders, who represent the 20 largest economies on Earth, pledged to increase the supplemental cash to the IMF from $50 billion to $500 billion, while allocating an additional $250 billion to member countries.

Through thick and thin, boom and bust, financial turmoil and recessions, the IMF has been a constant that, in various ways, is trying to make the world a better place. The lack of wars between its member countries on the whole seems to show that it has been a success at this.

IMF Website Link: The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Canada Exceeds Economic Expectations

Canada Sees Improved Economic Forecast

First Published: ADawnJournal.com February 15, 2010

While places like the United States are struggling to cope with the impact of the recession, the Canadian economy seems to be rising above the recession and moving back into the black. This is in no small part to the housing market in places like Vancouver and Toronto, which have seen record rebounds after hitting all-time lows in early-2009. As a result, Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister of Canada, has revised the economic forecast of the country upward.

Ottawa revised its growth estimate from 2.3 percent for 2010 to 2.6 percent. That .3 percent may not seem like much, but it accounts for millions upon millions of dollars in the Canadian economy and any growth is good growth in these tough economic times. The government has also forecasted that the growth will reach 3.2 percent in 2011, before falling over the next three years to 2.6 percent by 2014.

Of course, this is all just speculation and there is no way to completely know how the economy is going to do. During the 2008 Federal Election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated there would be no deficit for the government if they were elected, but come March the country was running in a deficit. It is impossible to predict how the economy will do; all that can be done is to speculate.

Currently, the Canadian debt-to-GDP ratio is about 30 percent, which is the lowest in the G-7 countries, and about half of the level in the U.S. and U.K. Unemployment rate of the country is a full 1.5 percent lower than what is seen in the United States right now.

All things considered given the potential growth, the government is not stating when Canada will have a balanced budget as there are still sectors in the country struggling and the largest trading partner of the country is still running in a recession. For the next two to three years, there is really no way to know when there will be a balanced budget, even if the economy continues to grow at over two percent per year.

It is estimated that by 2015, the government’s budget should be balanced, but again there really is no way to know for certain.

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Speaking of the housing market, across the country there were major gains in January, including in Toronto where the highest-ever gains for the month of January were seen. Toronto and Vancouver, along with other places like Calgary, are bringing the housing market out of its pit falls and the surging market sales are expected to continue until June of this year. It is at this point that the Bank of Canada will increase the record low interest rate, which currently sits at .25 percent. Once this happens, the housing market will slow and many are worried that the country will go through another housing bubble as those who got mortgages when they were cheap can no longer afford them. This is just another reason why it is so hard to predict how the economy will do. Enough people not being able to pay their mortgages – thanks(!) to a higher interest rate could send everything back into a tail spin.

A Brief History of An Emerging Giant: China

China: An Emerging Giant

First Published: February 24, 2010 ADawnJournal.com

Many people call China an emerging country that is becoming one of the most powerful on Earth, but it is very important to remember that China is not new, nor newly powerful. In fact, China is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. For the past 6,000 years, China has been a constant power, and the only country to last this long. For more than 4,000 years, the country used a political system that was based on hereditary monarchies, but that changed in 1911 when the Republic of China was founded. This caused a great deal of problems and the country erupted into civil war. By the 1940s, the country was in shambles and taken over by the Japanese. However, in 1949 the country staged its “Glorious Revolution” and the Republic of China was pushed out of the country so that the communist party could take power. The country is now called The People’s Republic of China.

What is amazing about the country is that while it is communist, in 1978 it introduced a market-based economy and that allowed the country to become the fifth fastest growing economy on Earth and the fastest growing of the top 20 economies in the world. In addition, China exports more goods than any other country and it imports the third most goods.

For most of the 20th century, China was thought of as a place for the poor, with many poor conditions, but the country has worked very hard to reduce its poverty. While the country had a poverty rate of 53 percent in 1981, the industrialization of the country helped to build a large middle class, and the poverty level is now down to eight percent. That is a drop of over 40 percent in only 29 years.

China has also shown itself to be forward thinking in many ways. The country, widely known for its environmental problems, is now becoming a world leader in renewable energy. The country also implemented a one-child policy to stop a rapidly increasing birth rate, well before high populations around the world were even though of as a problem. While the country still has problems with freedom of the press and human rights, it is rapidly changing. It is currently the third largest economy on Earth and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The country is also a member of the G-20, the World Trade Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and one of the few countries that have nuclear weapons. While China does have the largest standing army on Earth and the second-largest defence budget after the United States, it has not shown itself as one looking for war.

Many have said that the 21st century is the century for China and they may be right. The 20th century was the American century, the 19th century was the British century, it is time for a new giant and that giant is most likely going to be the country that has existed for 6,000 years and may exist for many more to come.

A Brief History of India

India: A Brief History

First Published: ADawnJournal.com March 10, 2010

One of the oldest civilizations in the world is the civilization of India. Like China, it is one of the founding civilizations in human history, and it has had a profound impact on our lives for thousands of years. While it is not easy to sum up the history of a country going back thousands of years, this article will go through a brief history of this amazing land.

Pre-History of India

The first settlements in India began to appear about 9,000 years ago, and throughout the early part of the history of the country, it has been a mysterious land, but also a very spiritual one. Throughout pre-history, the country has been a strong civilization as well, even being the only civilization to beat back both the Mongols and Alexander the Great during its history.

It was during the third century BC that the country united under Asoka the Great, during a time that was called India’s Golden Age. It was during this time that India made great advances in mathematics, art, language, astronomy and religion. In fact, both Hinduism and Buddhism came from India around this time.

Europe Arrives

The country was able to keep itself an independent nation for a long period of time, but by the 16th century, the countries of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Portugal began to establish themselves around India, greatly disrupting the country. By 1856, the entire country became part of the British East India Company, essentially making it part of the British Empire. From this point on, for almost 100 years, the country would be under the direct rule of the British Empire. The country tried to fight against Britain in India’s First War of Independence, but they were not successful.

Independence

The citizens of India would continually try and push Britain out of their land for the first part of the 20th century. However, it was not until the legendary figure of Mahatma Gandhi came along and led millions of India towards independence through non-violent civil disobedience. Through this action, India gained its independence on August 15, 1947, along with the region of Pakistan. In 1950, the country became a republic and created its own constitution.

The Growing Giant

While India gained its independence, it still had problems with its neighbours. It got into a dispute with China in 1962 that resulted in the Sino-India War, and the country has gone to war with Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. However, the country is also a member of the United Nations and it is also one of the few nuclear nations in the world. In addition, the country has transformed itself through economic reforms and is now becoming a superpower along with China. Currently, the country has one of the fastest growing economies on Earth and it is expected that India will be one of the major countries of the 21st century, along the lines of how Russia and the United States dominated the 20th century.

One thing is clear, this country, which has been around in one form or another for thousands of years, shows no signs of slowing down, or going away.