The first big test

Donald Trump’s first big test will be his choices for the cabinet posts.

After he offended Mexicans, the British, Muslims, the Chinese, Koreans, Europeans, and the Japanese, the person that he chooses as America’s top diplomat will need to be an accomplished professional, capable of repairing the almost irreparable damage.

That choice will tell the world whether the shock of the election justifies their concern.

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India’s competition with China

Although politicians deny it, the competition between China and India once again hit the headlines as India successfully launched it’s first mission to Mars.

In New Delhi the competition with Beijing is also evident. The air pollution is making life unbearable for the inhabitants.

IMG 5022 The haze that obscures parliament is being explained as the after effects of the weekend’s fireworks celebrations for Diwali.

Air quality measurements taken before the celebrations had even started, showing pollution levels have not deteriorated significantly, suggest a different reason. Perhaps it’s because a third of the population don’t have electricity, and so rely on burning wood to stay warm as as the weather cools.

But you can’t blame the gods for the electricity.

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Escaping the poverty trap

That elusive goal may now be in sight. The statistics coming out of Bangladesh make the point. In spite of dysfunctional politics, the country’s poor are finding a way out.

Income per capita has more than tripled in the last 20 years. Over the same period life expectancy has grown from 59 to 69 years, now four years ahead of its wealthier neighbors India and Pakistan. Infant mortality has plummeted, while female literacy rates, for a long time among the lowest in the region, at 77% now exceed both India (74%) and Pakistan (61%).

Empowering women, giving them control of their fertility as well as family finances, are the factors attributed for the remarkable turnaround of a country that Henry Kissinger once called a development “basket case”.

This success strategy is borne out in research conducted by Esther Duflo, the co-author of “Poor Economics”, in Bangladesh and other parts of the world.

There are a group of developing countries, including some of the poorest, that share the “demographic dividend” that is a part of Bangladesh’s potential. The median age, at 23.3 years, is low. Declining fertility rates mean that people in the workforce of the future will far exceed dependents at both ends of the age spectrum. The window of opportunity is a relatively short one. It’s realization is dependent on whether equal opportunity exists. The best, regardless of background, should be allowed to achieve their potential, especially for education.

China, the current economic growth champion, with its hukou system that discriminates against rural migrants is exposed.

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