What India’s 65 million ‘missing women’ mean for the state of its democracy

By Geetika Dang, Prerna Sharma

As the largest democracy in the world, India has boasted a consistent record of free and fair elections. A democratic government derives its legitimacy and power to implement policy from the “consent of the governed”. But if a significant chunk of the population is “missing”, does it reflect the true consent of the people? Using Ravi and Kapoor’s 2013 paper[1] as motivation, this blog presents the concept of ‘missing women’ in Indian democracy.

The persistence of gender inequality which is embodied in “missing women”, a concept developed by economist Amartya Sen (1990, 1992),[2] is a common occurrence in China and India. When you extend the concept to women missing from the electorate, it begs the question: are policies truly representative of the will of the women of this country, or are they in fact artificially skewed against them? If women are grossly under-represented in the Indian electorate, can policies enacted based on election outcomes be representative of their policy preferences?

If women are grossly under-represented in the Indian electorate, can policies enacted based on election outcomes be representative of their policy preferences?

Using Sen’s methodology, Ravi and Kapoor first compute the sex ratio of the electorate (those registered to vote) across all states in India over five decades. Then they choose the state that performs the best in terms of gender ratio of the electorate—Kerala—as a reference point and compute the missing numbers of the female electors across India. Their results estimate that over 65 million women — around 20% of eligible female voters — are missing from India’s electorate. This number has increased fourfold from 15 million (13% of the electorate) to 65 million (20% of the electorate) in the last 50 years. While a part of this inflation maybe due to the overall increase in population, the trend suggests that this phenomenon has disproportionately worsened over time.

Another alarming finding from the study highlights that not only has the adverse sex ratio not improved, it has worsened in large states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. This implies that fewer women voice their opinion through elections. Going further, the authors find that with the exception of very few states such as Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, the sex ratio of the electorate is far worse than the general sex ratio of the population. This implies that women who are eligible voters are actually not registered in electoral rolls and remain “missing from the voters lists”. The difference adds up to millions when translated from percentages to absolute numbers in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where the differences in the ratios are as high as 9.3% and 5.7%, respectively.

Research has established that the identity of lawmakers (or political representatives) has a significant bearing on policy agenda and direction; that ‘increasing the political representation of a group increases its influence on policy.’[3] What emerges from this phenomenon of missing women in India’s elections is a question mark over the representativeness of our elected politicians. Since politicians respond to the preferences of the existing electorate, the danger is that electoral competition will ensure that they end up choosing policies in favour of their average voters who happen to be male.

This is a fundamental ‘market failure’ of democracy in India and has far greater and deeper implications. Even when politicians are not biased against women, their policies might be.  This is one of the key reasons for the perpetuation of gender-biased practices and policies election after election, government after government. True political representation of women cannot be ensured unless preferences of women get significant attention. The adverse sex ratio of the Indian electorate makes it impossible for women’s welfare to feature in political agendas and policymaking.

True political representation of women cannot be ensured unless preferences of women get significant attention. The adverse sex ratio of the Indian electorate makes it impossible for women’s welfare to feature in political agendas and policymaking.

Ravi and Kapoor argue that in the Indian context, competitive electoral processes is likely to undo the impact of any women’s reservation policy. Though both men and women have equal rights to vote, even in reserved constituencies male voters will far outstrip women, compelling women political candidates to choose policies that favour men in order to win. In such a setting, how can the Women’s Reservation Bill address the problem of gender bias in India? The authors suggest that policymakers should target constituencies with the worst gender ratios to be reserved for women.[4] However, even so, the authors argue that the bill will have not have a great impact due to the nature of electoral competition highlighted earlier. With or without women’s reservation, our competitive electoral processes will do little to promote gender-responsive policies. The larger problem rests in correcting the sex ratio in the population at all age groups. This will require innovative policy interventions from the government, but to a much larger extent this requires the Indian society to value its women.

[1] Kapoor, M., & Ravi, S. (2013). Women voters in Indian democracy: A silent revolution. Available at SSRN 2231026.

[2] Sen, Amartya. “More than 100 million women are missing.” The New York Review of Books 37, no. 20 (1990): 61-66.

Sen, Amartya. “Missing women.” BMJ: British Medical Journal304, no. 6827 (1992): 587.

[3] Osborne, Martin J., and Al Slivinski. 1996. “A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 111(1): 65–96.; Besley, Timothy, and Stephen Coate. 1997. “An Economic Model of Representative Democracy.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(1): 85–114.

[4] See more at “Why so few women in politics? Evidence from India” Kapoor and Ravi (2014).

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هجمات سريلانكا والتهديد الذي يشكّله المقاتلون الأجانب

By Daniel L. Byman

أعلن تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية مسؤوليّته عن الهجمات الإرهابية المروّعة التي استهدفت كنائسَ في سريلانكا يوم أحد الفصح والتي راح ضحيّتها أكثر من 300 شخص. ويبدو أنّ التنظيم ربّما عمِل مع مجموعة إسلاموية راديكالية محلّية تدعى جماعة التوحيد الوطنية، فدمج بين موارد الطرفَين وقدراتهما معاً. وتفيد التقارير الأولية، التي لم يتمّ التحقق من صحّتها بعد، أنّ الكثير ممّن اعتُقلوا في عملية المسح التي تلت الهجمات قد حاربوا في سوريا. وغالباً ما تكون التقارير الأولية خاطئة أو مبالغاً بها، لكن إذا كان للمقاتلين الأجانب في سريلانكا دورٌ بارز في الهجمات الإرهابية، فستشكّل تلك الهجمات أكبر عملية قتل يرتكبها مقاتلون أجانب مرتبطون بتنظيم الدولة الإسلامية والاعتداءَ الأوسع المرتبط بمقاتلين أجانب منذ اعتداءات 11 سبتمبر. وتشير الهجمات على حدّ سواء إلى الخطر الذي يشكّله المقاتلون الأجانب والأهمّية التي تتّسم بها جهود الحكومات لوقفهم. 

فعندما يغادر الأفراد منازلهم ويسافرون إلى مناطق حرب أجنبية، غالباً ما ينقلبون رأساً على عقب. إذ في أغلب الأحيان يخضع هؤلاء المسافرون للتدريب والقتال، وغالباً ما يصبحون أكثر مهارة. وفي بعض الحالات، على غرار أولئك الذين ذهبوا إلى أفغانستان في التسعينيات، قد يخضع الأفراد لدورات تدريبية متعدّدة ويتعلمون مهارات متخصّصة للغاية. وفي بعض الحالات الأخرى، غالباً ما لا يتعلّمون سوى أسس القتال، غير أنّ تجربة القتال هذه تجعلهم أكثر مهارة وانضباطاً، إذا نجَوا. وقد تفسّر تجربة كهذه القفزةَ النوعية في مدى فتك الجهاديين في سريلانكا، الذين قبل هجمات عيد الفصح لم ينفّذوا أيّ عمل إرهابي كَبَّدَ خسائر جماعية. فالهجمات المنسَّقة أصعب من الأعمال العدائية المتفرّقة، واقتصر سجلّ جماعة التوحيد الوطني على عملية تدمير لتماثيل بوذية ومستوى متدنٍّ من العنف الاجتماعي. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، انفجرت جميع السترات الانتحارية المستخدمة في هجمات سريلانكا (وهو أمر تعجز عن تحقيقه الكثير من المجموعات الإرهابية)، وأظهرت المجموعة بشكل عام درجة عالية من التطوّر، بحسب ما قاله الخبير في الأعمال الإرهابية سكوت ستيوارت. ويشير ذلك إلى أنّ هؤلاء الأفراد خضعوا لتدريب عالي المستوى وامتلكوا المعدّات اللازمة لتنفيذ عملياتهم. 

بالإضافة إلى كسب الأفراد مهارة أكبر عند السفر إلى الخارج، يتمّ تلقينهم عقيدة التنظيم. فربّما غادروا منازلهم لأنهم يرغبون في العيش في خلافة أو محاربة الكفّار في أرض أجنبية، لكن متى أصبحوا في الخارج هم يتشرّبون من أفكار المجموعة أكثر، فتزيد لائحة أعدائهم. بالتالي، ربّما غادر المهاجمون السريلانكيون منازلهم مع شعور طفيف بالعداوة لجيرانهم المسيحيين، إلّا أنّهم تعلّموا أن يكرهوهم في الخارج. أخيراً، بإمكان عملية مغادرة البلاد والانضمام إلى مجموعة راديكالية للقتال أن تساهم بتشكيل شبكات. إذ يلتقي الأفراد ذوو الميول الجهادية براديكاليين يفكّرون بالطريقة عينها، بمن فيهم أولئك القادمون من مناطق أخرى في بلادهم الأمّ، وينشئون روابط قد تدوم لعقود. وتسهّل هذه الروابط تنفيذ هجمات المقاتلين الأجانب ووصول موجات المقاتلين المستقبلية. 

وقد حقّق الصراع في سوريا رقماً قياسياً في عدد المقاتلين الأجانب الجهاديين يفوق العدد في أفغانستان والصومال والعراق بعد العام 2003 وغيرها من الصراعات الشبيهة مُجتمعة. ومن البديهي أنّ الاهتمام الغربي قد ركّز على العدد الكبير (الذي بلغ أكثر من خمسة آلاف) للمقاتلين الأجانب القادمين من أوروبا وعلى الخطر المحتمل الذي يشكّلونه. غير أنّ اللافت أيضاً هو النطاق الجغرافي الذي يأتي منه المتطوّعون. فقد شارك أشخاص يحملون أكثر من 50 جنسية في الصراع في سوريا إلى جانب تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية، مع إرسال ترينيداد أكثر من مئة مقاتل (أكثر من الولايات المتحدة) ومعاناة المالديف أحد أعلى معدّلات المقاتلين للفرد الواحد في العالم. وأفادت التقارير أنّ عدد المتطوّعين من سريلانكا بلغ العشرات، غير أنّ البلدان التي تضمّ أجهزة أمنية محدودة القدرة تركّز على تهديدات أخرى، مثل تلك التي في سريلانكا، غالباً ما تجهل مدى حجم المشكلة. 

وعلى الرغم من التدفّقات الهائلة الإجمالية في عدد المقاتلين الأجانب، تشير التجربة الأمريكية والأوروبية إلى أنّه من الممكن الحدّ من تهديد المقاتلين الأجانب من خلال طريقة أفضل لمكافحة الإرهاب. ففي الولايات المتحدة، لم يقم المقاتلون الأجانب بأيّ هجمات إرهابية ناجحة منذ 11 سبتمبر، مع العلم أنّه وقعت هجمات محلّية نفّذها أفراد أو خلايا صغيرة مستوحاة من تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية أو مجموعات أخرى غير أنّها كانت غير مضبوطة أو منسّقة عن بُعد. وشهدت أوروبا حوادثَ دامية متعددة، ولا سيّما هجمات العام 2015 على باريس. لكن حتّى مع ذلك الحادث، اضمحلّ دور المقاتلين الأجانب بفعل تغطية متطرّفين محلّيين أكثر عليهم في السنوات الأخيرة. ويعود سبب جزءٍ من هذا التحوّل إلى الحملة العسكرية الأمريكية الناجحة ضدّ معقل الخلافة في العراق وسوريا، التي ساعدت على الدفع بالتنظيم إلى العمل سرّاً وصعّبت على المجموعة التخطيط لهجمات، نتيجة قتل الولايات المتحدة الكثير من القادة أو إجبارهم على الاختباء. وتبيّن أنّ للتنسيق الاستخباراتي دوراً حيوياً، فقد عملت الولايات المتحدة عن كثب مع حلفائها لتشاطر المعلومات حول سفر الإرهابيين وهوياتهم ومعلومات مهمة أخرى، معطّلين بذلك الخلايا حول العالم. وأصبحت الدول الأوروبية أكثر صرامةً في الداخل، فقد زادت موازنة أجهزتها الأمنية وأقرّت قوانين جديدة لزيادة قوّتها في محاربة الإرهاب. وحتّى بلجيكا، التي لطالما اعتُبرت أحد البلدان الأوروبية الأقلّ استعداداً للأعمال الإرهابية، وسّعت إلى حدّ كبير جهودها لمكافحة الإرهاب. 

غير أنّ سريلانكا خير دليل على أنّ عدم الاستعداد للأعمال الإرهابية قد يكون مميتاً. فقد تلقّت الأجهزة الأمنية السريلانكية إنذاراً قبل وقت طويل باحتمال حصول هجوم، إذ حصلت على أسماء وعناوين وأرقام هاتفية لأعضاء من المجموعة المشتبه بها بتورّطها في الاعتداء. وأُفيد أنّ الهند قد زوّدت معلومات هائلة بالاستناد إلى تحقيقها الخاص في موضوع تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية. وتلقّت الحكومة السريلانكية إنذاراً حتّى بأنّ الكنائس الكاثوليكية من ضمن الأهداف المحتملة. وحتّى لو رغبت الحكومة في تجاهل كلّ هذه الإنذارات، فقد تمّ العثور قبل أسابيع من هجوم عيد الفصح على أدوات تفجير ومتفجّرات وغيرها من المؤشّرات الواضحة إلى أنّه يتمّ التخطيط لهجمات. ومن غير الواضح بعد سبب هذا الفشل الاستخباراتي والأمني المُلفت. لقد كانت الحكومة السريلانكية مقسَّمة للغاية، وربّما لم يتمّ تشاطر المعلومات كما ينبغي بسبب ذلك. بالإضافة إلى ذلك، ركّزت سريلانكا تاريخياً على إرهاب التاميليين أكثر منه على العنف المسلم المسيحي. ولا بدّ من التحقيق في كيفية تعامل الحكومة مع الهجوم من أجل تحديد سبب عدم تحرّك الأجهزة الأمنية على ضوء ما أشارت التقارير الأولية إليه على أنه تحذير واضح بوقوع هجوم وشيك.  

وبعد الهجمات المدمِّرة، لا شكّ في أنّ سريلانكا ستعطي الأولوية لمحاربة تهديد المقاتلين الأجانب وتنظيم الدولة الإسلامية بشكل عام. ويجدر بالبلدان الأخرى التي تضمّ عدداً كبيراً من المقاتلين الأجانب أن تحذو حذوها. وتتراوح الخطوات من زيادة جمع المعلومات الاستخباراتية إلى إقرار قوانين تحرص على محاكمة الإرهابيين المشتبه بهم والمقاتلين العائدين إلى بلادهم كما يلزم. وتشاطُر المعلومات الاستخباراتية العالمية أمرٌ ضروري أيضاً، وعلى البلدان أن تُظهر انفتاحاً على التعاون حتّى عندما لا يتعلّق الأمر بمواطنيها بشكل مباشر. ويشكّل عرض إدارة ترامب بتقديم مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي مساعدة تقنية وتحقيقية لسريلانكا بدايةً جيدة. 

وإن نتج أيّ أمر إيجابي عن الأعمال المروّعة وسفك الدماء جرّاء هجمات عيد الفصح، فقد يكون دحضَ أيّ وهم بأنّ تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية الذي يشهد تراجعاً هو منعدم القوة. ومن شأن إيلاء المزيد من الاهتمام الآن أن يقلّص الخطر الناجم عن مخضرمين آخرين في التنظيم، وقد يؤتي ثماره في السنوات المقبلة عندما تبرز تهديدات جديدة. 

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Cathedrals on Fire

The Domes of the Yosemite, by Albert Bierstadt, 1867 (Wikimedia Commons)

Notre Dame is on fire! one of my oldest friends, Jessica, texted me from New York the morning of April 15th

I saw. So awful, I typed back.

Then I lost cell service. Pete and I were driving toward Yosemite, taking advantage of his spring break from teaching high school to explore the park. After paying the entrance fee, Pete and I drove through a natural arch formed by two massive boulders, like granite gargoyles touching noses. With the burning spire still flickering in my mind, I turned off my phone.

It was strange to be in Yosemite that day. Feeling tired, Pete and I chose the easiest path in the valley, a paved boulevard that leads straight to the base of Yosemite Falls. We raised our faces to the mist, surrounded by international tourists. A few spoke French, and I wondered what it felt like to be in Yosemite’s so-called natural cathedral while the world’s most beloved human-built cathedral collapsed in flames.

Both cathedrals were destined to burn. As I (and everyone else) learned later when I Googled the fire, Notre Dame’s wood lattice ceiling was made of roughly 13,000 oak beams, including trees so big they likely started growing in the 8th or 9th centuries. After nearly 100 years of policy suppressing low-intensity fires that would normally sweep Yosemite, the park is increasingly vulnerable to fires so hot they threaten its oldest residents, giant sequoias.

Notre Dame Cathedral Nave, ca. 1877. Source: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library

Sequoias have an unmistakable smell, as potent and alive as the scent of horses. Their bark is the color of cinnamon, soft and almost furry to the touch. Just seeing a picture of them can’t convey what it’s like to walk in a grove — spongy decaying wood underfoot, dust motes swirling through golden columns of sunlight — any more than looking at a photograph of Notre Dame can convey what it’s like to sit and walk in a place that embodies centuries of human effort, or the cumulative faith of millions of people.

Some fires occur in hours, others over decades. For me, the Notre Dame fire was terrible to watch because so much history was consumed so quickly. Watching climate change consume Yosemite and its sequoias is no less painful — just a slower burn.

One of the best things about being offline as Notre Dame went up in flames was that I had time to consider what it meant to me without getting too swept up in other people’s reactions, or reactions to reactions on social media. Instead, as I walked around Yosemite, I thought about when I first met Jessica.

She was sixteen, I was fourteen. I plucked a ladybug off her shoulder, and just like that, we became friends. A year later, she came along when my family visited Paris, and we spent hours sketching in Notre Dame together, soaking up the cathedral’s slanted, multicolored light.

At the end of the day, when I finally turned my phone back on and started reading about the latest damage, another text from Jessica came through:

I’m glad we spent so much time sitting there.

Me too.

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Another example of how automated appraisals miss the mark by a mile

Tonight Sedo sold CasinoEngine.com for $40,000, the Australian company that owned the name since 2003 cashed in big time. EveryMatrix a company based out of Romania is involved in iGaming and has a product called “Casino Engine”. EveryMatrix is an independent company offering award-winning software solutions to the iGaming industry. It was founded in 2008 […]

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Growing Up With I Spit On Your Grave: A Documentary Telling of the Original Film 40 Years Later

“Maguire comes across as bright and personable, clever and focused without ever wallowing in jargon, and perhaps most importantly of all, aware that ISOYG is not a perfect film whilst still eminently worth of a closer look. A well-written piece of work, the book could easily reward fans as much as students and it’s well
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Samuel Hideo Yamashita on the “Japanese Turn” and Hawaii Regional Cuisine

Five people after library talk, including Samuel Yamashita and Roy Yamaguchi, with librarians

(L to R) Tokiko Bazzell, Monica Ghosh, Mire Koikari, Samuel Yamashita, Roy Yamaguchi

Pomona College history professor Samuel (Sam) Yamashita‘s lecture on what he calls the “Japanese Turn” in fine dining drew a full house to University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Hamilton Library last week (April 17). Audience members included well-known chef Roy Yamaguchi, who was part of this “turn” during his years in Los Angeles when he pioneered Euro-Asian cuisine. As a tie-in, advance copies and flyers were displayed of Sam’s cover of book, Hawaii Regional Cuisinenew UH Press book, HAWAI‘I REGIONAL CUISINE: The Food Movement That Changed the Way Hawai‘i Eats. His talk was related to the library’s exhibit by Japan collection librarian Tokiko Bazzell, “Washoku: Japanese Foods & Flavors,” Yamashita next to Washoku displaywhich is on display until May 27 in Hamilton Library’s First Floor Elevator Gallery.

Read the wonderfully comprehensive information and view more photos on the event here. Sam will be returning to Honolulu in mid-July to launch Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine; meanwhile, order the book here. If you would like to be notified of the July events, contact Carol Abe in the UH Press marketing department. Mahalo to the UH Libraries and other sponsors for hosting Professor Yamashita during his UH Mānoa visit: UHM Center for Japanese Studies, UHM Department of American Studies, UHM Department of Women’s Studies, Kapi‘olani Community College, and UHM Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED).

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Islands or Continents: An Excerpt from How Can I Call What is Between Us a Past?” by Adonis

Yesterday, as part of our National Poetry Month celebration, we introduced you to the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong (IPNHK) chapbooks. Published by the Chinese University Press, these chapbooks are written by each participant and include the poems in the author’s native language, English, and Chinese. Today, we’re featuring an excerpt from How Can I Call What is
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Economic geography bites back

By Indermit Gill

Ten years ago, Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics, and the World Bank published the World Development Report “Reshaping Economic Geography.” There is never a bad time to win a Nobel Prize, but 2009 might have been the worst year to launch a report on economic geography. It was hard to get people to think about long-term transformations amid the global financial crisis.

Conversely, 2019 may be the best year to talk about economic geography. There is no smoldering crisis, but the world’s economic geography is changing in disconcerting ways. Trade is in retreat, and international flows of capital have dropped to a fraction of what they were a decade ago. In India and Africa, cities are getting clogged with people and pollutants. In Europe and the U.S., the sentiment towards migrants has turned hostile and is deepening political divisions. China has been cementing trade and investment relations with its neighbors, coaxing them into adopting a “Chinese model of development” and making others nervous. New technologies promise—or threaten—to radically alter the shape and size of cities, regions, and international trade.

On the report’s 10th anniversary, we examine three big developments in global economic geography.

1. India’s Sudden Southward Shift

It will take GDP growth rates of about 6 percent sustained over 25 years for India to get to China’s current per capita income. India will not be able to do this without integrating more fully into global markets and by integrating domestic markets. As India does this, its economic geography is changing in favor of the southern states. This is not surprising. The south has done better in providing basic services, building infrastructure, rejuvenating industry, empowering women, and educating girls. Projections of GDP growth over the next decade indicate accelerated rearrangement of activity towards the south. What is instead becoming concentrated in the north is pollution (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Air particulate pollution in 2005 and in 2016Air particulate pollution in 2005 and in 2016

Source: Greenpeace (2018)

But India may soon have to contend with an even more difficult problem. For a long time, political power, population, poverty, and production were concentrated in the north. As production moves southward, political power will inevitably follow. And as the economic center of gravity moves away from traditional centers of power, it could exacerbate regional tensions. India will have to figure out ways to manage them.

2. An Unexpected Anglo-American Populism

The second change in global economic geography has given Europe Brexit and the world President Trump. Both these changes were actually the result of what happened in small parts of the U.K. and the U.S.: the British Midlands and America’s Great Lakes. But they should make us think again about the debate about place-based versus people-centered policies.

Figure 2: Regional convergence in the U.K. until 1997, divergence afterward

Regional convergence in the U.K. until 1997, divergence afterwards

Source: Nguyen (2019) NIESR Paper 010

In 2016, the British voted narrowly against staying in the European Union, swung by Great Britain’s Midlands where two out of three people voted to leave. Between 1966 and 1996, London, the South East, and the North remained richer than the rest, but other regions were catching up. The exception was the Midlands, which steadily lost ground. Between 1997 and 2016, London pulled ahead, the South East maintained an edge, but every other region lost ground. The East Midlands did especially badly (Figure 2). By the time of the referendum, nine of northern Europe’s 10 poorest regions were in the U.K.; six were in the Midlands. The scapegoats in the election were migrants from Central Europe who had benefited from the European single market and the jobs in London. Older British workers in the Midlands had not.

The story in the U.S. is the same. Between 1980 and 2016, the Great Lakes Region lost ground in regional economic vitality—income, poverty, unemployment, labor force participation, life expectancy, and housing vacancy rates—with Wisconsin, Michigan, and western Pennsylvania performing especially badly (Figure 3). In 2016, these three states would vote Trump into office.  

Figure 3: Regional incomes in the U.S. since the Great Depression

Regional incomes in the U.S. since the Great Depression

Source: Nunn, Parsons and Shambaugh (2018)

As in Britain, the scapegoats in the U.S. have been immigrants. When we were writing the World Development Report, we might have given too much attention to the economics of migration, and not enough to its politics.

3. China’s Extraordinary External Outreach

The third big change is the rise of China’s influence in the developing world. Back in 2009, we paid a lot of attention to what was going on inside China. We should have paid more attention to China’s activities abroad.

While China has many reasons to expand its outreach, the state of its finances may be the most important. China’s banks have assets of about $35 trillion—three times China’s GDP—making it the biggest banking system in the world. Lending by China’s banks abroad is less than $1 trillion or just 3 percent of total assets until 2016, but it is causing big headaches.

Chinese money has financed investments in energy and transport—sorely deficient in Asia and Africa—but the fear is that the projects are not always chosen well. Researchers estimate that since 1997, ineffective investments at home have cost China $10.8 trillion. Chinese banks are now holding a lot of bad debt, and foreign borrowers should expect the Chinese government to take care that the loans will be repaid. Foreign governments should be doubly careful about how they use the money.

Figure 4: China’s banks will be looking for profits abroad

China’s banks will be looking for profits abroad

High Stakes

A new approach to development has been gaining popularity. The orthodox, or Western, way put institutions first and infrastructure second—“institutions for the ages with infrastructure that is good enough.” The Chinese approach can be seen as reversing the order—“infrastructure for the ages with institutions that are good enough.” The World Development Report advocated for orthodoxy: first institutions, then infrastructure, and finally, if necessary, targeted interventions. It is time to assess whether this should be corrected or qualified.

In any case, the altered trajectory of India’s urbanization, the rise of populism in the world’s two leading market economies, and the noisy regional integration initiated by China should encourage us to rethink the rules of economic geography. Three big questions hang in the balance: how urbanization can best be made quick and clean, what should be done to reduce regional disparities in welfare, and whether more international integration is always a good thing.

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The Three-Character Question at the Heart of Single-Character .COMs: W-H-Y?

In the matter relating to O.COM, I've focused on the fact that VeriSign has — in correspondence to the organization that is counter-party to its .COM and transliterated .COM IDN Registry Agreements, in earnings calls with its investors and financial analysts, and in policy published on its website for every innocent and unsuspecting Tom, Dick, and Harry in the world to be duped by — stated an unequivocal and unwavering commitment — for almost a decade — that a registered second-level domain name in an IDN transliteration of .COM [which o.קום (o.xn--9dbq2a) most certainly is] shall be:

"...unavailable in all other transliterations of .com IDN TLDs and in the .com registry unless and until John Doe (and only John Doe) registers it in another .com IDN TLD or in the .com registry."

I've taken the liberty of selectively bolding for emphasis, but the words are all Verisign's.

Taking a spin around this junkyard in a different jalopy, let's ask the central question that any 2-year old child asks: why?

Why — when I have published previously and pointed out that this Verisign commitment remains on the corporate website even though most companies would have either amended it, issued a correction, or taken it down if it was inaccurate or misleading — does a company as deliberate and risk-averse as Verisign still have this commitment posted, unless it is meant to be?

Why — for a corporation not known for spontaneous acts of charity and that is widely viewed as being of similar temperament to Ebenezer Scrooge before being visited by ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future — is the release process for SCDNs so tortured and with the proceeds being designated for non-profits?

Why — when there is an alternative path offering much less discernible resistance — has Verisign taken an indirect route that doesn't accrue value associated with these SCDNs for their shareholders?

If I were employed by Verisign, I would take one look at exigent circumstances along with the company's past statements — which include a 2011 assertion that .COM IDN TLDs are not new domain space, but represent new resolution services instead — and I would recommend packaging the remaining unregistered IDN SCDNs together with their corresponding legacy .COM SCDN and offer each of these as platinum-plated "technical bundles" at the absolute highest price the market will bear.

By doing this, VeriSign would strategically leverage the full range of options afforded by its portfolio of gTLDs in order to create value for its shareholders while demonstrating the indisputable power and relevancy of a truly globalized .COM domain name. The company would achieve these oft-stated and longtime aims while satisfying its regulatory burden by ensuring that only $7.85 from each of these multi-million dollar sales is credited to the registration of the legacy .COM domain name — all of the other value is attributable to the unregulated .COM IDN SCDNs.

This is, seemingly, Verisign's big moment — to pull off the greatest of escapes, outdoing Houdini himself, while accruing some very attractive revenue to the bottom line in the process — so what the hell are they waiting for?

I suspect that the answer to that question may reside in phantasmagorical activity — not of Christmases past, present and future — but of ICANN.

After all, these SCDNs are existing, registered domain names. The registrant, according to WHOIS records, is IANA. Prior to 2016, IANA was a function that was a shared responsibility and governed by a web of contractual agreements that included a U.S. federal procurement contract, a Cooperative Agreement, and an Affirmation of Commitments between ICANN, NTIA and VeriSign. As part of the IANA transition, Public Technical Indicators was legally established to house the IANA functions — for the first time creating a single legal entity, wholly owned by ICANN, which also happens to be a domainer — having maintained the registrations for these SCDNs since 1993.

I know, from firsthand experience, that VeriSign leadership is exceptionally rational and almost always acts to maximize value for the company's shareholders. So, if the most obvious route of least resistance that leads to profit is being neglected, then there must be something better on the horizon that just isn't quite apparent yet. Before the much-vaunted community of stakeholders reveals itself to be a cheap floozy that can be bought off with some charitable contributions, maybe they should follow the lead of my 2-year old nephew and start asking — why?

Written by Greg Thomas, Managing Director of The Viking Group LLC

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More under: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Multilinguism, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services, New TLDs

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Sedo weekly sales led by Yotta.com

Sedo released their weekly sales and Yotta.com led the way at $100,000. Yotta is the largest decimal unit prefix in the metric system, denoting a factor of 10 or 1000000000000000000000000. EndlessSummer.com sold for $20,000 to take second place. eCommerce.co sold for 15,000 Euros, ($16,736). 42 .com sales 18 cctld sales 5 other tld sales From […]

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