New Delhi Diary – February 2021

A Davos to come up at Zoji-la

If all goes well, Ladakh will have a Davos at Zoji-la! Davos is a famous mountain resort of great scenic beauty in Switzerland where international conventions are held every year.

The Government of India has drawn out a plan to curve out an 18-km stretch near Zoji-la and turn it into such an exclusive resort. According to Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, this hill station will extend from Zoji-la to Sonamarg.

According to the Minister, the hill station, with Ladakh and J&K as joint stakeholders, will be bigger and better than Davos, and it will give a big boost to the economy of Ladakh and J&K. There will be world-class infrastructure with state-of-the-art roads, transportation system, resorts and other modern facilities that will change the very dynamics of the economy of Ladakh and J&K. Situated at an altitude of 11,578 ft above mean sea level, the hill station will be surrounded by snow-capped peaks throughout the year, much like those in Europe.

The entire project will be handled by Swiss designers and architects in a few months from now. The idea is, as the union minister says, to make the best use of the unused snow-laden mountains in the region and turn them into a tourist and convention centre. In the years to come, the project can be extended to a larger area around Zoji-la, which will make it one of the biggest hill resorts with snow round the year.

11.5% GDP growth projected

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has great news for India. Its Chief Economist, Gita Gopinath, has come out with a report that India will be the fastest growing economy in the world in 2021-22, with its GDP growth at11.5%, which will be the highest growth rate in the world. Coincidentally, the recent Economic Survey of the Government of India also projected a 10% GDP growth rate in the next financial year.

India is followed by China (8.1%), Spain (5.9%), France (5.5%) and the US (5.1 %). This clearly means that India will be the only country with a double-digit GDP growth rate in the next financial year. And this growth projection is much higher than the one projected during the COVID-19 restrictions because of India’s stronger than expected recovery after the lockdown.

Reacting to these projections, former RBI Chair Professor, Mr Charan Singh, says that he had been saying this for a few months now as India’s fundamentals are strong and the economy will bounce back sharply.

Meanwhile, the UN and WHO chiefs have been heaping praises on India for its “leading role” in the controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. India had supplied all kinds of COVID-19 care medicines and equipment to 150 countries. And now, India is supplying COVID-19 vaccines to dozens of countries, and free-of-cost to its neighbouring countries.

The rise of the fifth estate

The last decade was the rise and rise of the fourth estate in the form of mainstream media like newspapers, magazines and electronic media. And now, according to global investor and commentator, Ruchir Sharma, the fifth estate has already raised its head, and will dominate the next decade.

The fifth estate refers to groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society and is generally associated with bloggers and journalists who publish their work in non-mainstream media outlets and social media platforms.

The usage of the term ‘fifth estate’ goes back to the 1960s counter-culture movement in the Western world, especially to influential underground media in Detroit, in 1965. Today, web-based technology has greatly enhanced the scope and power of the fifth estate. It is said that the rise of the fifth estate will herald the ‘death’ of the fourth estate.

Tailpiece:

Man: Hey, did you hear about the restaurant called Karma?

Woman: Yea, but there is no menu there. You get what you deserve!

By P. P. Wangchuk

P. P. Wangchuk is a New Delhi-based editor-at-large, columnist and professional speaker.

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