Friday, December 11, 2015

Modi-Abe Camaradarie - Getting Down to Brasstacks

Prime Minister Abe in India now, and its time, once again, for the media to make hay while sun shines.

The Indian Express has come out with a special RED 'advertorial' initiative (pages 6-7) to mark the ocassion. It has the usual (unattributed) writeups on the history of investment, trade and social cooperation between Indian and Japan, as well as fillers to mark spaces where the expected advt revenue did not turn up. One of these is a "Fact File" box right below a message from the new ambassador designate, Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu, and the first point here states: "Japan is the world's largest consumer of Amazon rainfalls"!

Indian Express Fact File: Really?

What was that again?? Japan is the world's largest consumer of rainforest wood, but where on earth did the IE staffer get this absurd "fact"?

Not to be left behind, the HT Mint marketing media initiative carries a marketing initiative titled "India-Japan Deepens Ties". Here too the only advertisement is from Maruti Suzuki and the set pieces toss around numbers that make little sense. During Modi's visit last year, the title article claims, "Abe had set a target of 3.5 trillion yen $33.5 billion of public and private investment.." . There is no mention of how much of this has actually fructified over the past one year, since November 2014. The only data point at hand is a 2013 FDI figure of $1.7 billion!

Perhaps journalists working on advertorials can be excused for putting out shoddy data. However, the loss of credibility in the color-pages is not balanced out in the editorials or oped pages. In the opinons section there is one piece from Harsh V Pant who makes one pointed comment - "Thought there has been significant movement on these issues over the past year, these initiative still remain highly contested between the bureaucracies of the two nations."

Therein lies the rub. The Dedicated Freight Corridor project agreed a decade ago continues to be a snailpaced work-in-progress. And now we have the new promise of a $14.7 billion (₹ 98,000 Cr) bullet train project linking Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

While there has been a lot of hype around the Modi-Abe camradarie, substantial progress on India-Japan linkages is still bogged down in the red-tape, both in New Delhi and in Tokyo.

What exactly does it take to get the babu's cracking on both the sides?


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LINKS and REFERENCES:

* 11Dec15 - Reuters - Japan's bid for bullet train gets cabinet nod -- http://in.reuters.com/article/india-japan-train-idINKBN0TT0PI20151210
- Cabinet approval for $14.7 billion Japanese proposal...Mumbai-Ahmedabad - 503 km...Japan had offered to finance 80 percent of the cost ...at an interest rate of less than 1 percent.

* Pant, Harsh - 11Dec15 - The Abe-Modi Connect - http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/yoDbATculxoLxfwhlzSL8N/The-AbeModi-connect.html
- US-2 amphibious aircraft - submarines - nuclear plants
- Earlier this year Japan lost out to China is a bid for a high-speed railway in Indonesia

* Mint marketing media initiative
- 2014 Abe set a target of Yen 3.5 trillion $33.5 billion of public and private investment and financing from Japan including ODA to be made over a period of 5 years
- JETRO - number of Jap companies operating in India has grown from 267 in 2006, to over 1800 in 2013.

* 11Dec15 -- IE -- http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/japanese-pm-shinzo-abe-to-arrive-today-number-of-pacts-on-table/

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