India’s Budget

The Economist calls the Indian budget “an opportunity for bold reform spurned by India’s finance minister.”

The big challenge facing any Indian finance minister is that, as this one put it, the country is perilously close to the limits of fiscal prudence. This government, led by the Congress party elected last year, faces huge pressure to fulfil its promises to lavish money on agriculture, infrastructure, education and health care. But it suffers a massive fiscal deficit (see chart). Though the deficit came down somewhat in the past year and is forecast to do so again in the coming year, foreign credit-rating agencies were disappointed that Mr Chidambaram has, in his words, pushed the pause button on meeting the deficit-reduction targets imposed by a law passed in 2003. They argued that now, while the economy is growing rapidlyby around 7% last year and this oneit would be far easier to make difficult choices than later in this economic cycle.

As it was, Mr Chidambaram was given credit both by the left, for doing his best to meet his spending promises, and by those keen to see faster economic reform, for his tax cuts, deregulation measures and promises to consider further opening of the economy. But both groups were disappointed he had not gone further, and the minister must know that he cannot rely for ever on growth strong enough to allow him to have it both ways.

Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar writes in the Sunday Times of India: “The days of visionary Budgets are over. The unstated priority of Finance Minister Chidambaram’s Budget is to ensure that his minority government, uncertain of its political viability, survives a full term of five years. And so it is a technician’s Budget that implements suggestions of sundry expert tax committees, but steers clear of radical visions that may annoy its coalition partners… In this new political climate, there is no need any more for budgets to become vehicles of brave new visions. Especially when coalition politics makes visions more foolhardy than brave.”

The Master Task List

Michael Hyatt writes:

Master Tasking is the process of identifying your five to seven most productive, most important work-related tasks. A Master Task List is similar to a job description but more useful. It answers the question, What was I really hired to do? Here are some characteristics of master tasks:

* They are usually important but not urgent.
* They spell the difference between success and failure.
* You have a hard time getting to them.
* They are things you usually do on your own.
* They can be scheduled but usually arent.

The purpose of developing a Master Task List is to enable you to focus more easily on those activities that really add value to your department, your division, and your company. Once you have a Master Task List you can measure your performance against it. More importantly, you can schedule these activities so you accomplish the most important tasks related to your job.

Your Master Task List should be written down and periodically reviewed. Each Master Task should be stated as a broad activity area; for example, Manuscript Development, Copywriting, Travel Planning, Financial Review, etc. Then, you should list three to seven bulleted subpoints that represent the specific activities related to that particular Master Task.

Rural India Crafts Initiatives

Dina Mehta writes about some of the work already underway:

Indext-C, a Gujarat Government endeavour has been created to provide information and guidance in organising the Cottage & Rural Industries sector as a catalyst for a better quality of life for artisans and small entrepreneurs.

The COTTAGE INDUSTRY-GLOBAL MARKET (CIGM) project works with women’s craft cooperatives in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India to support capacity building and local development. K2Crafts is the online marketplace for the CIGM project, established to market the cooperatives; hand-made, world-quality shawls. There’s a whole lot of interesting master’s theses covering research by CCT students on different aspects of the project: strategies for sustainable development, generating social capital, women’s empowerment, and Internet branding for local industries.

PEOPLink, a non-profit organization has been guiding women communities in countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Haiti and Kenya, involved with handicrafts to place their products online, and building a global network of Trading Partners (TPs). The TPs have digital cameras that allow easy uploading of images, which are in turn used as promos to retail and wholesale buyers in the industrialized countries.

The Asian Center for Entrepreneurial Initiatives (AsCent) has made an attempt to introduce CAD / CAM technologies to artisans in the Belgaum district of Karnataka, alongside online advertising and sales.