Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Missing Pieces: India’s Needs, Mozambique’s Resources, and More

by Isobel Coleman
March 16, 2012

A man stands on a stepladder to fix tangled overhead electric power cables at a residential area in Noida, India, June 1, 2011 (Parivartan Sharma/Courtesy Reuters). A man stands on a stepladder to fix tangled overhead electric power cables at a residential area in Noida, India, June 1, 2011 (Parivartan Sharma/Courtesy Reuters).

Charles Landow focuses on Asia and Africa in this edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy and have a good weekend.

  • India’s Daunting Needs: New household data from India’s 2011 census starkly show how many Indians still lack basic needs. Only 47 percent of households have a toilet in the home; the same percentage have a water source. Sixty-seven percent have electricity and 63 percent have a phone (mostly mobiles). Computers are found in less than 10 percent of households and internet access in 3 percent. These findings represent progress since the 2001 census. For example, only 9 percent of households had a phone that year, according to an Economist blog post. The figures for electricity and toilet access in the home are also up 11 points each. A Wall Street Journal blog post and BBC story provide additional analysis.
  • Mozambique’s Resource Rush: “One of the world’s richest undeveloped coal reserves,” as well as “huge discoveries” of natural gas, are sparking massive investment in Mozambique, reports the Financial Times. The familiar dilemma: how to attract the firms needed to surface the bounty while ensuring that Mozambicans share the benefits. The investment seems sure to prolong Mozambique’s blistering growth, according to IMF projections. But corruption, among other ills, poses a challenge. The country is tied for 120th in the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. According to the Financial Times piece and a follow-up blog post, Mozambique’s government is aware of the challenges and is weighing reforms to boost transparency.
  • South African Lessons: In a speech excerpted on ForeignPolicy.com, former South African president F.W. de Klerk, a central figure in ending Apartheid, offers five lessons for countries seeking to transition from autocracy and conflict to democracy and peace. First, leaders on all sides must embrace peaceful and sweeping change, abandoning both conflict and simple tweaks to the status quo. Second, inclusive negotiations are needed to craft a new order through popular consensus. Third, all sides must give something; negotiations “should not end with victor and vanquished.” Fourth, large minorities must feel included in order to balance “unity and diversity.” Finally, a process to deal with “political crimes” is essential so that leaders can cede power without fear of arrest or retribution. There is no recipe for successful transitions, but de Klerk’s principles offer thoughtful guidance.
  • Myanmar’s Reformer-in-Chief: A New York Times article profiles Burmese president U Thein Sein. Long “a loyal apparatchik in one of the world’s most brutal military regimes,” Thein Sein has launched vigorous and unexpected reforms since taking the presidency last year. He is described as thoughtful, gentle, and uncorrupt, qualities that the article links to his rural upbringing. He is also more worldly than many of his fellow generals, having traveled widely during a stint as prime minister. The danger is that Myanmar’s opening is “overly dependent” on this single intriguing figure.

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Terry

    Mozambique’s government is “aware of the challenges” ?

    Of course they are. The challenge is corruption and unfair distribution of wealth. And, they ARE corruption and unfair distribution of wealth.

    They know exactly what they’re doing:
    Give just enough to the people to survive so as to avoid riots and formation of a fresh guerilla, and keep repeating relentlessly that everything possible is being done for development and that special attention is being taken to share the mineral ressources wealth.

    A few months observing Mozambique’s society and its (often english-speaking, clear skinned) bourgeoisie, and you know that it’s all lies.

    This is a good old rush on gold, but this time being run by a posh looking, soft spoken, donor-friendly MAFIA.

    Mozambique says they are giving guarantees (ITIE etc.) but let’s not be fooled: the Maputo’s political/economic elite is not sincere about improving the population’s life.

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