Monday, July 18, 2011

Assignment 8

Assignment 8

The government should abandon the move to criminalise tax evasion , for multiple reasons. To begin with, this would reverse the entire logic of tax reform pursued since liberalisation began in 1991. The effort has been, since Dr Manmohan Singh presented his first budget in July 2001, to lower the rates of tax, simplify the tax structure and broaden the base, ultimately to collect ever larger amounts of tax.

Underlying the strategy shift in tax administration is the philosophy of liberalisation, which dethrones the all-powerful state from the commanding heights of the economy and puts, in its place, the animal spirits of entrepreneurship. Instead of seeing businessmen as
presumptive criminals unless they prove themselves otherwise one by one, the new philosophy requires that businessmen be recognised as valued citizens who generate income, prosperity and welfare.

However, for businessmen to play this role, many things have to be organised beyond the level of the individual and at the level of the collective: national defence, internal security, macroeconomic balance, fiscal measures to dampen the volatility of business cycles, international relations, enforcement of contracts, social harmony, physical and social infrastructure. The more sophisticated these activities of governance, the more money it takes to finance them.

Total government spending as a proportion of GDP is upward of 30% in the OECD countries and since it is not wise to finance this expenditure out of borrowings on a scale upwards of 3% of GDP over a business cycle, most of this money has to come out of taxes. In other words, taxes are a necessary evil.

India's tax to GDP ratio is only about 17%, for the Centre and the states combined. India clearly has to collect more taxes, at the state and central levels. But this has to be done by lowering the incidence on individual taxpayers and widening the base of taxation further. Those who file income tax returns are less than 3% of the population.

Tax rates have come down from an all-time high of 97% during the Emergency to 30% now. Reform has created a large class of salaried employees whose taxes are deducted at source. Listed companies have the incentive to show rather than hide their incomes, so as to boost valuation on the market. A computerised tax information network gathers intelligence on the tax-base that still waits to be creatively tapped. Instituting a goods and services tax will complete tax reform, creating automatic audit trails for both direct and indirect tax potential.

There is scope to reduce tax rates further, and simplify tax rules so as to make
compliance hassle-free. For this, the information gathered by the tax information network, for example on expenditure incurred by people who file returns showing disproportionately small incomes, or file no returns, has to be mined and the tax base widened to bridge the huge gap between the actual and the potential number of taxpayers.

The single most important reform required to
clamp down on black money is to make political funding and expenditure wholly transparent. The thousands of crores of rupees required to make Indian democracy work is mobilised through corruption as unaccounted money at present.

Changing this is the real challenge before the government. Trying to
demonise businessmen instead is sheer populism. The purpose of mobilising taxes is to enable governance. The purpose of governance is to enable human creativity in multiple ways, not to stigmatise those who deploy creativity to generate incomes as well as taxes.

Q1. Suggest a suitable title for the passage.

Q2. What is the main purpose of the passage?

Q3. Why are taxes indispensible for a country like India?

Q4. By OECD standards what is the deficit in India’s Tax to GDP ratio?

Q5. According to the passage how can tax collection be increased?

Q6. What are the meanings of the words in bold?

Assignment 7

Assignment 7

Korea's endless nuclear nightmare

Praveen Swami

Six decades since nuclear weapons first flew towards the peninsula, slung under a B29, they continue to cast a malevolent shadow.

Even as victorious North Korean troops surged into Seoul on June 30, 1950, nine B29 bombers armed with nuclear bombs began the long flight across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Guam.

Harry Truman, President of the United States, had signed a directive authorising a nuclear task force to stand by to use the bombs if communist forces took control of all Korea. It began badly: one aircraft crashed as it took off from the Fairfield-Suisan base, killing a dozen people and scattering radioactive material across the area. The long-term fallout has proved even more lethal.

South Korea commemorated the 61st anniversary of that war last week. Before it ground to a stalemate in July 1953, 1,37,899 of its soldiers had been killed in action, along with 2,15,000 North Koreans, 1,83,108 Chinese, 33,686 Americans, and thousands more from 15 other countries; 2.5 million civilians were butchered by the war and its grim handmaidens, hunger and disease.

Every day, the Korean peninsula lives with the fear that it could see new carnage. “The miracle on the Han river,” South Koreans call their fairy-tale economic success. For long, among Asia's poorest countries, their war-torn land is now the 15th largest economy in the world.

South Koreans hoped the miracle would heal history's wounds. In 1998, Kim Dae-jung, South Korea's former President, initiated a dramatic reconciliation process called the “Sunshine Policy.” He injected billions of dollars into North Korea's economy — as well as several million, credible accounts have it, into the personal accounts of the country's ruler, Kim Jong-il.

Kim Dae-jung won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts but storm clouds gathered not long after the ink dried on the citation. In 1999, naval clashes left at least 30 North Korean sailors dead. Then, in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. declared North Korea part of the “axis of evil.” North Korea responded by calling off talks, and adopting increasingly confrontational tactics.

Four years later, North Korea tested its nuclear weapons. The country conducted a second nuclear test in 2009, and accelerated work on long-range ballistic missiles.

Last year, North Korean forces torpedoed a South Korean corvette, killing 46 sailors, and then shelled the island of Yeonpyeong, killing four and injuring 19 — sparking off the worst military crisis on the peninsula since 1953. Furious, South Korea threatened retaliation — but neither it, nor its regional allies, nor the world's great powers, have proved able to act.

North Korean forces have long held a gun to South Korea's heart: the Seoul national capital area, the hub of the country's economy and home to almost half the country's 50 million citizens, is just 50 kilometres from the border. The North's conventional weapons, which include over 10,000 artillery and rocket pieces, could devastate Seoul, killing hundreds of thousands.

In addition, the country is believed to maintain an arsenal of over 600 Hwasong-5 short-range missiles with ranges of around 300 km, clones of the Soviet-manufactured Scud-B it obtained from Egypt in 1976. North Korea also has some 200 Rodong missiles, the model for Iran's Shahab-3 and Pakistan's Ghauri missiles, which can hit targets up to 1,200 km away.

Tonchang-ri, a new super-secret long-range missile test site, has seen a surge of activity. In January, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates publicly said North Korea could threaten the U.S. itself inside of five years. Experts are divided on just how close North Korea is to having a nuclear device light enough to be mounted on its missiles — but no one can take the risk it might already have one.

Put together, North Korea's capabilities allow it to pursue the kinds of low-level aggression seen last year — secure in the knowledge that its ability to target Seoul with conventional weapons, and threaten its allies with missiles, will deter large-scale retaliation.

Even though Kim Jong-il and his dysfunctional regime are often cast as insane, there is method in their apparent madness. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union saw North Korea lose its principal source of patronage. Following the death, in 1994, of Kim Il-Sung, the founding patriarch of the country and its ruling dynasty, 3.5 million people died in a famine called “the march of tribulations.”

Kim Dae-jung's government saw this as an opportunity: North Korea's economic need, it believed, could provide an opening to unify the two states. But North Korea's ruling élite understood that the massive asymmetry of economic power between the two states meant Seoul would have control of any new dispensation. In effect, the Sunshine Policy was an invitation to commit suicide.

Pyongyang thus milked the Sunshine Policy, but simultaneously forged a strategy to extort the cash needed to sustain the regime. It was an uncomplicated enterprise, which would have been comprehensible to any big-city organised crime cartel.

Kim Jong-Il's son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong-un, is now pushing an ambitious 10-year plan intended to raise the country's GDP from an estimated $40 billion to $360-400 billion. Pyongyang hopes, among other things, to build a ship construction zone at Wonsan, pharmaceutical plants in Nampho and offshore special economic zones. Taepung International Investment Group, owned by millionaire Korean-Chinese businessman Park Chol-Su, has control of the projects.

For the plan to succeed, North Korea needs capital. South Korea and the U.S. are willing to make cash available, but only if the North gives up its nuclear weapons and fissile material stockpiles. Kim Jong-Il's regime fears, though, that the deal would end in its own destruction — its suspicions underlined by the experience of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who shut down his weapons of mass destruction programmes in return for an end to western sanctions, only to find himself without a bargaining chip to protect his regime from destruction.

Put simply, North Korea is likely to continue using the threat of terror as a bargaining chip, hoping to extort what rents it can secure in return for keeping the peace.

It isn't as high-risk a gamble as it might seem.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has taken a hard line position. “It is inconceivable that we will allow future attacks to go unpunished,” a senior South Korean government official told The Hindu. South Korea has put some muscle behind the talk, deploying its arsenal of 221 Lockheed Martin-manufactured MGM140 tactical missiles, which will allow it to target the North's artillery.

But few believe South Korea can actually destroy the North's weapons fast enough to prevent unacceptable losses. South Korea's 2010 Defence White Paper focuses on means to deter an all-out war with the North — but does not lay out any doctrinal response to the kind of low-grade warfare waged by North Korea.

“Even though South Korea would without doubt win an all-out war,” says Andrei Lankov, a leading strategic expert at Seoul's Kookmin university, “the victory would be ruinous.”

How might events then play out? Great powers China and the U.S. have an interest in reining in North Korea. South Korea is among their most valued economic partners. Beijing does not want a regional crisis that would draw more U.S. forces into the region — nor the U.S. the costs of doing so. Neither side wants to strengthen elements in South Korea which are calling on the country to develop an independent nuclear deterrent.

But mutual suspicions also make it hard for them to act in unison. President Barack Obama's pursuit of a ballistic missile defence shield, which would protect the U.S. and its allies from a nuclear attack, are seen in Beijing as undermining China's nuclear deterrent. China has thus begun expanding its arsenal — fuelling concern among its neighbours and the U.S. North Korea thus forms a bargaining chip in larger contestation.

Even if Beijing does run out of patience with its irksome ally, though, there may not be a great deal it can do. “It could cut off oil, or shut down trade,” Dr. Lankov argues, “but these moves would plunge the country into chaos, and potentially precipitate even more confrontational North Korean behaviour.

“People talk about Chinese leverage”, he says, “but the truth is it has a hammer — not a lever.”

Even though no one wants a crisis in the Korean peninsula, therefore, each side is locked into a strategic impasse which will continue to threaten the world's most economically dynamic region.

In 1954, Mr. Truman warned that “we are being hurried forward, in our mastery of the atom, toward yet unforeseeable peaks of destructive power.” He was right: those nuclear peaks still cast a malevolent shadow over the Korean peninsula's geo-strategic landscape.

Q1. State whether the following are True or False

  1. This article was written in 2010.
  2. US was involved in the radio active contamination in Korea in 1950’s
  3. Andrei Lonkov is a Korean General.
  4. North Korea’s belligerence is logically unsound.
  5. Sunshine Policy was a failure.
  6. North Korea is the 15th largest economy in the world.
  7. North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2009.
  8. Pyongyang was suspicious of South Korean peace efforts.

Q2. Why is North Korea not much apprehensive of the US and S.Korea?

Q3. What was the Sunshine Policy and who was its biggest beneficiary?

Q4. What is the primary purpose of the passage?

Q5. What is the source of this passage?

Q6. State the meanings of the words in bold?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Assignment 6

Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic?


Published: June 25, 2011

A BEAUTIFUL woman lowers her eyes demurely beneath a hat. In an earlier era, her gaze might have signaled a mysterious allure. But this is a 2003 advertisement for Zoloft, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (S.S.R.I.) approved by the F.D.A. to treat social anxiety disorder. “Is she just shy? Or is it Social Anxiety Disorder?” reads the caption, suggesting that the young woman is not alluring at all. She is sick.

But is she?

It is possible that the lovely young woman has a life-wrecking form of social anxiety. There are people too afraid of disapproval to venture out for a job interview, a date or even a meal in public. Despite the risk of serious side effects — nausea, loss of sex drive, seizures — drugs like Zoloft can be a godsend for this group.

But the ad’s insinuation aside, it’s also possible the young woman is “just shy,” or introverted — traits our society disfavors. One way we manifest this bias is by encouraging perfectly healthy shy people to see themselves as ill.

This does us all a grave disservice, because shyness and introversion — or more precisely, the careful, sensitive temperament from which both often spring — are not just normal. They are valuable. And they may be essential to the survival of our species.

Theoretically, shyness and social anxiety disorder are easily distinguishable. But a blurry line divides the two. Imagine that the woman in the ad enjoys a steady paycheck, a strong marriage and a small circle of close friends — a good life by most measures — except that she avoids a needed promotion because she’s nervous about leading meetings. She often criticizes herself for feeling too shy to speak up.

What do you think now? Is she ill, or does she simply need public-speaking training?

Before 1980, this would have seemed a strange question. Social anxiety disorder did not officially exist until it appeared in that year’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-III, the psychiatrist’s bible of mental disorders, under the name “social phobia.” It was not widely known until the 1990s, when pharmaceutical companies received F.D.A. approval to treat social anxiety with S.S.R.I.’s and poured tens of millions of dollars into advertising its existence. The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-IV, acknowledges that stage fright (and shyness in social situations) is common and not necessarily a sign of illness. But it also says that diagnosis is warranted when anxiety “interferes significantly” with work performance or if the sufferer shows “marked distress” about it. According to this definition, the answer to our question is clear: the young woman in the ad is indeed sick.

The DSM inevitably reflects cultural attitudes; it used to identify homosexuality as a disease, too. Though the DSM did not set out to pathologize shyness, it risks doing so, and has twice come close to identifying introversion as a disorder, too. (Shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shy people fear negative judgment; introverts simply prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments.)

But shyness and introversion share an undervalued status in a world that prizes extroversion. Children’s classroom desks are now often arranged in pods, because group participation supposedly leads to better learning; in one school I visited, a sign announcing “Rules for Group Work” included, “You can’t ask a teacher for help unless everyone in your group has the same question.” Many adults work for organizations that now assign work in teams, in offices without walls, for supervisors who value “people skills” above all. As a society, we prefer action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. Studies show that we rank fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likable and even smarter than slow ones. As the psychologists William Hart and Dolores Albarracin point out, phrases like “get active,” “get moving,” “do something” and similar calls to action surface repeatedly in recent books.

Yet shy and introverted people have been part of our species for a very long time, often in leadership positions. We find them in the Bible (“Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?" asked Moses, whom the Book of Numbers describes as “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”) We find them in recent history, in figures like Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust and Albert Einstein, and, in contemporary times: think of Google’s Larry Page, or Harry Potter’s creator, J. K. Rowling.

In the science journalist Winifred Gallagher’s words: “The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Neither E=mc2 nor ‘Paradise Lost’ was dashed off by a party animal.”

We even find “introverts” in the animal kingdom, where 15 percent to 20 percent of many species are watchful, slow-to-warm-up types who stick to the sidelines (sometimes called “sitters”) while the other 80 percent are “rovers” who sally forth without paying much attention to their surroundings. Sitters and rovers favor different survival strategies, which could be summed up as the sitter’s “Look before you leap” versus the rover’s inclination to “Just do it!” Each strategy reaps different rewards.

IN an illustrative experiment, David Sloan Wilson, a Binghamton evolutionary biologist, dropped metal traps into a pond of pumpkinseed sunfish. The “rover” fish couldn’t help but investigate — and were immediately caught. But the “sitter” fish stayed back, making it impossible for Professor Wilson to capture them. Had Professor Wilson’s traps posed a real threat, only the sitters would have survived. But had the sitters taken Zoloft and become more like bold rovers, the entire family of pumpkinseed sunfish would have been wiped out. “Anxiety” about the trap saved the fishes’ lives.

Next, Professor Wilson used fishing nets to catch both types of fish; when he carried them back to his lab, he noted that the rovers quickly acclimated to their new environment and started eating a full five days earlier than their sitter brethren. In this situation, the rovers were the likely survivors. “There is no single best ... [animal] personality,” Professor Wilson concludes in his book, “Evolution for Everyone,” “but rather a diversity of personalities maintained by natural selection.”

The same might be said of humans, 15 percent to 20 percent of whom are also born with sitter-like temperaments that predispose them to shyness and introversion. (The overall incidence of shyness and introversion is higher — 40 percent of the population for shyness, according to the psychology professor Jonathan Cheek, and 50 percent for introversion. Conversely, some born sitters never become shy or introverted at all.)

Once you know about sitters and rovers, you see them everywhere, especially among young children. Drop in on your local Mommy and Me music class: there are the sitters, intently watching the action from their mothers’ laps, while the rovers march around the room banging their drums and shaking their maracas.

Relaxed and exploratory, the rovers have fun, make friends and will take risks, both rewarding and dangerous ones, as they grow. According to Daniel Nettle, a Newcastle University evolutionary psychologist, extroverts are more likely than introverts to be hospitalized as a result of an injury, have affairs (men) and change relationships (women). One study of bus drivers even found that accidents are more likely to occur when extroverts are at the wheel.

In contrast, sitter children are careful and astute, and tend to learn by observing instead of by acting. They notice scary things more than other children do, but they also notice more things in general. Studies dating all the way back to the 1960’s by the psychologists Jerome Kagan and Ellen Siegelman found that cautious, solitary children playing matching games spent more time considering all the alternatives than impulsive children did, actually using more eye movements to make decisions. Recent studies by a group of scientists at Stony Brook University and at Chinese universities using functional M.R.I. technology echoed this research, finding that adults with sitter-like temperaments looked longer at pairs of photos with subtle differences and showed more activity in brain regions that make associations between the photos and other stored information in the brain.

Once they reach school age, many sitter children use such traits to great effect. Introverts, who tend to digest information thoroughly, stay on task, and work accurately, earn disproportionate numbers of National Merit Scholarship finalist positions and Phi Beta Kappa keys, according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, a research arm for the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator — even though their I.Q. scores are no higher than those of extroverts. Another study, by the psychologists Eric Rolfhus and Philip Ackerman, tested 141 college students’ knowledge of 20 different subjects, from art to astronomy to statistics, and found that the introverts knew more than the extroverts about 19 subjects — presumably, the researchers concluded, because the more time people spend socializing, the less time they have for learning.

THE psychologist Gregory Feist found that many of the most creative people in a range of fields are introverts who are comfortable working in solitary conditions in which they can focus attention inward. Steve Wozniak, the engineer who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, is a prime example: Mr. Wozniak describes his creative process as an exercise in solitude. “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me,” he writes in “iWoz,” his autobiography. “They’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone ... Not on a committee. Not on a team.”

Sitters’ temperaments also confer more subtle advantages. Anxiety, it seems, can serve an important social purpose; for example, it plays a key role in the development of some children’s consciences. When caregivers rebuke them for acting up, they become anxious, and since anxiety is unpleasant, they tend to develop pro-social behaviors. Shy children are often easier to socialize and more conscientious, according to the developmental psychologist Grazyna Kochanska. By 6 they’re less likely than their peers to cheat or break rules, even when they think they can’t be caught, according to one study. By 7 they’re more likely to be described by their parents as having high levels of moral traits such as empathy.

When I shared this information with the mother of a “sitter” daughter, her reaction was mixed. “That is all very nice,” she said, “but how will it help her in the tough real world?” But sensitivity, if it is not excessive and is properly nurtured, can be a catalyst for empathy and even leadership. Eleanor Roosevelt, for example, was a courageous leader who was very likely a sitter. Painfully shy and serious as a child, she grew up to be a woman who could not look away from other people’s suffering — and who urged her husband, the constitutionally buoyant F.D.R., to do the same; the man who had nothing to fear but fear itself relied, paradoxically, on a woman deeply acquainted with it.

Another advantage sitters bring to leadership is a willingness to listen to and implement other people’s ideas. A groundbreaking study led by the Wharton management professor Adam Grant, to be published this month in The Academy of Management Journal, found that introverts outperform extroverts when leading teams of proactive workers — the kinds of employees who take initiative and are disposed to dream up better ways of doing things. Professor Grant notes that business self-help guides often suggest that introverted leaders practice their communication skills and smile more. But, he told me, it may be extrovert leaders who need to change, to listen more and say less.

What would the world would look like if all our sitters chose to medicate themselves? The day may come when we have pills that “cure” shyness and turn introverts into social butterflies — without the side effects and other drawbacks of today’s medications. (A recent study suggests that today’s S.S.R.I.’s not only relieve social anxiety but also induce extroverted behavior.) The day may come — and might be here already — when people are as comfortable changing their psyches as the color of their hair. If we continue to confuse shyness with sickness, we may find ourselves in a world of all rovers and no sitters, of all yang and no yin.

As a sitter who enjoys an engaged, productive life, and a professional speaking career, but still experiences the occasional knock-kneed moment, I can understand why caring physicians prescribe available medicine and encourage effective non-pharmaceutical treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

But even non-medical treatments emphasize what is wrong with the people who use them. They don’t focus on what is right. Perhaps we need to rethink our approach to social anxiety: to address the pain, but to respect the temperament that underlies it. The act of treating shyness as an illness obscures the value of that temperament. Ridding people of social unease need not involve pathologizing their fundamental nature, but rather urging them to use its gifts.

It’s time for the young woman in the Zoloft ad to rediscover her allure.

Q1. State whether the following statements are true or false:

A. People with high IQ win more number of academic awards.

B. Proportion of sitters in humans is similar to that in other species.

C. The author admires the Zoloft advertisement.

D. Evolution prefers only rovers.

E. Steve Wozniak has described himself as an introvert.

F. DSM is a drug for depression.

G. Eleanor Roosevelt was the wife of a former U.S. President.

H. The author sincerely wants a drug which would cure all shy people without any side effects.

I. Zoloft is a SSRI.

Q 2. What is the primary purpose of the author?

Q3. What are the meanings of the word in bold?