sábado, 14 de noviembre de 2015

The madness of the modern war against terrorism

While preparing for my work about Ex-Yugoslavija​ and trying to be objective as much as possible "be aware of my own biases" (well, we all know how hard that could be) I am trying to understand "the madness of the modern war against terrorism". First of all, there is a lack of generally agreed definition on terrorism internationally. I found that to be a problem.

If it is wealthy European country it is a terrorist attack  and nobody questions that. When it is a poor, middle income country, the same is considered to be either a civil war or they are "insurgents" fighting for their civil or human rights. To be honest, when poor people "fight" it is always a civil and human right issue.



When in the Macedonian parliament​ they are representatives sitting that have killed or massacred something is terribly wrong with the political system. If those have been elected despite what they did, then something is wrong with that society and that needs to be fixed.

During the "war" (what in a Western world would be called a theorist attack) atrocities were made both by the Macedonian police and the terrorist (by the western media they were referred to as "fighters for human rights and the other side of the war were the called contemptuously "Slav-Macedonians"). They are assassins sitting in the Macedonian parliament. Many of them would have never imagined such career if there was not blood shedding and killings. Ethnic Macedonians did that by the (mis)use of the legitimate Macedonian

police to go and kill some Albaninas just to prove they were defending the country from the terrorist. The ethnic Albanians (many of them experienced in Balkan war) tried to kill and/or scare off as much as possible Ethnic Macedonians from "their territory". There were a lot of displacement of both Macedonians and Albanians at the time.

It was called a Civil War, The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) symbolically sentenced Tarchulovski to 12 years of imprisonment and Boshkovski was found not guilty. The number of the dead toll from the conflict was never to be known, as fighters from the Islamic States and others that were not registered as Macedonian citizens were shot down by the Macedonian police. It was a "fight" between the Macedonian police and mainly foreign citizen. Tarchulovski and Boshkovski made a political career that would not have been possible without a war.

Another person that made a good business from  killing people is Ali Ahmeti. Ahmeti is a former leader of a the Albanian therorists that was fighting against the macedonian police, People like Ali Ahmeti and others are now in the parliament as representatives. A lot of cases involving group killing of Macedonian civilians (Macedonians were either working on the field, having a day at the lake with the friends etc ) remain unsolved because of the lack of interest or maybe not to offend the feelings of the other ethnic minority.

The Parliament of Macedonia consists of murderers, very corrupted politicians and other slackers.

Internationally, terrorism looks different in practice and it is according to our political interest and ignorance. We are forgetting that they have one thing in common. No matter the definition, your countries political intelligence or where are you listed by World Bank, a person, collective group that perpetuates such atrocities against humanity finding different excuses, mainly hiding behind political, need to be persecuted and excluded from the society. As simple as that. There is never good enough excuse to kill.

Where in war there is never and never will be a good and a bad side from reasons that are too obvious to say. Terrorism should be equally understood in: UK, USA, France, Turkey Syria or Macedonia.

martes, 3 de noviembre de 2015

Las multinacionales y la miseria - ¿Qué fue lo primero?

El miedo y el desconcierto cuando algo no se conoce puede llegar a destruir la oportunidad que existe. Como ha dicho Paul Krugman​, la miseria ya estaba cuando llegaron las multinacionales solo que ahora son menos pobres. Si hay tanta competencia para fabricar en el tercer mundo, subirá la demanda de mano de obra barata. Se abren cada vez menos fabricas de estas que compiten para atraer más gente para cubrir puestos de trabajo. Hasta en el tercer mundo están libres a decidir si quieren ir a trabajar y dónde.

Según Paul Krugman, mejor algún trabajo que ninguno. Desde allí se puede ya empezar ir mejorando a los condiciones de trabajo. Si no hay puestos de trabajo, no se puede mejorar algo que no existe.

Y allí es donde entra en juego la International Labour Organization (ILO)​ para imponer a los países a respetar condiciones mínimos de trabajo y remuneración.



Y sí las fabricas textiles ofrezcan cada vez peores condiciones de trabajo, es porqué quieren  y nada los impide. Si vas a trabajar en una fabrica textil tercermundista, Amancio Ortega no te va a hacer la entrevista, sino un compatriota tuyo que se va a aprovechar de tu confianza.  Y exactamente ése es la persona que luego negocia los condiciones con Amancio y Co. a tu costa. Los que carezcan de moral y conciencia son nuestros compatriotas. Esa es la sociedad que tiene que trabajar para imponer unos valores de mutuo respeto y empatía.

El trabajo es mucho más que un sueldo, un numero de unidades monetarias. Te enseña de la dura que es la vida y te capacita para mejorar.

Los únicos perjudicados de cada empresa que sube las ventas y gana mercado son las otras que la siguen por detrás - la competencia.

Además, tengo la corazonada que siempre cuando se habla mal para una empresa detrás de esas malas lenguas suele ser otra multinacional. Cada vez que los marxistas hablan sobre el tema hacen un favor al capitalismo malo.

Con que Amancio Ortega y Co. cuide de sus empleados que su empresa contrata y no perjudique directamente a la naturaleza que es de todos, me vale y me sobra. Y si eso lo hace o no, es otra tema por discutir.

A continuación pongo los enlaces de los artículos que me inspiraron a "estallar" sobre el tema:

1. In Praise of Cheap Labor - Paul Krugman
2. El buen trabajo de Amancio Ortega - Miguel Ors Villarejo
3. Inditex: ¡Bienvenido a Macedonia! - Biljana Veljanoska

lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2015

Do you fancy a cup of guil-free coffee?

Did you know that only 4% of the coffee that Starbucks sells is Fair Trade certified (as to 2005). When you buy an unfair - trade coffee in coffee chains like Costa, Starbucks, Coffee Republic etc... coffee farmer earn only 1p or less.

But, then I discovered Progreso Cafes LTD (creation of Oxfam GB). They were located on Portobello road and Covent Garden. They were 100% Fair Trade.

The biggest difference with other coffee stores comes from the fact that the coffee farmers own a share of the business and benefit from its success. Progreso was also supporting @ONE water and all the sells went for a charity called Roundabout.

Unfortunately, just when I tried to find out more about this coffee store, I was disappointed to see that they didn't lasted long. They were set in 2005 and no longer exist.

Is it possible to rescue this idea and put it into practice again? What failed exactly?

It's true that Starbucks has its own schemes supporting coffee growers, and it buys and sells more FT coffee each year. The efforts that Starbucks makes are certainly not enough and there is a lot more to do.


It seems like in international development good intention are not enough. We all know what's the best but is it always possible to make it that perfect?

It takes more than just nice words and good intentions. Give an idea that works not just one looking good on paper.

miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015

Searching for a lost identity / En búsqueda de la identidad perdida / Во потрага на изгубениот иденитет

Just to warm up my heart before leaving the premises to meet the cold, cruel and the inconsiderate. Here in UK, get prepared to be asked in numerous occasions are you thinking of taking your own life, that after consistently nagging about that you will start to consider it as a good option. Ironically. All you long for is a smile, nice word, warm hug and a kiss without somebody calling a police or the ambulance if you ask for it. So, if you can’t beat them, join them. For a hug, kiss or a smile I would have to buy a plane ticket to get to you and keep all my love for you - the codemned southern Europe. Maybe poor, but definitely not heartless. Cheers to that! 



Y quien mejor que Melendi, para despejarme la mente, abrir el corazón e ir cerrando puertas. Se me había olvidado de la sensación esa cuando te digan algo bonito y lo acompañen con una sonrisa, ternura, emoción y pasión. En algunos países (UK, por ejemplo), decir algo bonito casi siempre va acompañado con sirenas de la ambulancia o la policía metropolitana ja, ja… Y tú, atrévete….




Ние јужнациве сме си чувствителен народ и со песна знаеме сѐ тоа убаво да го искажиме. На островов, човек ќе заборави како беше тоа, па си патиш, додека не те праша некој дали си помислувал на самоубиство. Всушност и не е така лоша идеја, после вакво глупаво прашање хе, хе. Не човеку, само си чекам некој да ми каже нешто убаво, да ме насмее и разубави денот, без да ми викне полиција или брза помош. Ете баш затоа сум си голем обожавател на цела јужна европа.




viernes, 11 de septiembre de 2015

Be fair, respectful and generous - go Fair Trade

Ethical Markets represent the effort that is build upon the way we uplift the human well-being as well as ecological integrity. This movement is very important today as we are well aware that humans have the ability to destroy the environment.

Therefore, Fair Trade as part of Ethical Markets, has become one of the most important global movement. We live in a business world where things are measured in euros, dollars and pounds. Trade, as a sacred art of exchange, is the most ancient practice. Unequal trade, when countries unable, unprepared, un-knowledgeable traded it was a seen as a one of the reasons of increasing the poverty gap between countries. But trade created wealth for those that used it wisely and knowledgeably. Who came first, the poverty or the wealth?

Fair Trade is the knowing that we must treat people with respect. Fair Trade policies are meant to maintain small-farmers their traditional lifestyle and earn a living wage. It is more than what ethical trade represents. It's about engaging people into co-operatives where they can freely decide about their way of work and life, providing fair trade and fair prices.

Ethical trade means that the companies are trying to ensure that the farmers in developing countries that grow their products have decent working conditions. It also includes the efforts to reform obsolete, malfunctioning economic models that ignore social, human and environmental costs. Governments must promote and enforce decent work and sustainable development 

Many companies find outsourcing in developing countries a way to reduce cost and increase their profit. They are well aware of what is happening in the production facilities as they have representatives there all the time, checking on quality (read more about that in my article "Inditex - Bienvenido en Macedonia!") Many of them have adopted corporate codes of conduct dealing with Corporate Social Responsibility. That is being far from ethical markets. 


It means that companies tend to control every aspect of their production, because it is in their best interest.


That doesn't mean we as a consumers have to pay more for a "fair trade" labelled products, but to ensure that the labour conditions in developing world are maintained at decent level. The cost of labour is only a small fraction in the price we are paying. The goods are overpriced while labour conditions under which the goods were produced is extremely low due to so called "race to the bottom". 

Instead of focusing of export of raw materials and unfinished good, whenever that is possible, the country should aim to get into world trade with processed goods, where more value is added. That's where the profit comes from. That's how the wealth is created. While we might find difficult to control a multinational if it goes fair or not, we might find it easier to control when a country goes fair or not.  


Therefor there is a debate weather a fair trade certificate should be awarded to multinationals.



The problem with fair trade is that despite it success, only a selected group of overseas producer cooperatives are involved and very few of them are coming from the poorest countries. In order to receive the minimum price guaranteed they must pay to be certified, join a cooperative, agree to certain standards for using pesticides and pay fair wages to their laborers. As a result of that many small farmers that are not in cooperatives, can be excluded from the benefits of Fair Trade. Some argue that few of the fair trade certified products come from the poorest countries.



Myself had been working in agriculture on tobacco fields in Prilep, Macedonia and I know how difficult, laborious and under-payed it can be. But I also know how much care and effort we put to get the best quality possible by providing special care to every leaf and every tobacco plant. Your hands are yellow, damaged from the needle and have to wake up every morning at 3 a.m. to be able to collect as much tobacco as possible before the sun hits high up in the sky.




My point is that as I could read and confirm what I read with my own experience, agricultural work is often very laborious and time consuming. As in my case, whole family is employed and try to share the workload. That can leave less time, or no time for studding, spending time with friends. Some would say that the answer is to produce less not more so people to be able to improve their situation and get out of poverty through education and access to better paid jobs.


It is said that the coffee is that one commodity that illustrates the problems  that agricultural producers confront. The price of coffee can fluctuate significantly and in recent years it have shown a dramatic fall. 


Unlike other agricultural products that might be grown in big plantations, coffee is grown on small independent farm. It takes three years for the coffee bush to produce it's first beans. There are many small farmers around the world and their is an oversupply of coffee that pushes the prices further down. 



Another problem is power related. Small farmers have little or no power to dominate the retailing phase of the product. Between them and the final consumer there is a number of wholesalers and other intermediaries. It is said that coffee beans can change hands more than 150 times between the farmer and the supermarket, and every time price is growing. 



It is still difficult to separate real commitment  from marketing when it comes to why companies commit to Fair Trade. We need a company who is well known among consumers to share the values and engage consumers into buying its Fair Trade certified products.  


When we look for a "Fair Trade label" we look to be assured that poor farmers have not have been exploited, nor children were employed or natural resources have been despoiled. 

Well, poor people like us can not eat talk. While trying to figure out how to make this world more rightful for people that work and care creating a small wealth for themselves and others, I could only take a sip of my favorite fair trade coffee and I can invite you all to do the same. We might not save the world alone, but you know, every effort counts. Buying Fair Trade is our personal, consumer power in action. Make a statement, buy Fair Trade!
Fair Trade Logo


miércoles, 6 de mayo de 2015

Learning from success: China’s development miracle

Made in China



Since initiating market reforms in 1978, China has shifted from a centrally planned to a market based economy and experienced rapid economic and social development:

  • GDP growth averaging about 10 percent;
  • The most dramatic reduction in poverty.

It's economy has been growing so fast that, even though inequality is rising fast, extreme poverty is disappearing. China pulled 400m people out of misery in 1981-2010, and reduced its extreme-poverty rate from 53% in 1981 to 8% in 2011.

China’s great success in growth and poverty reduction it is not in question.


Source of success


For such a stunning record, the roots of China’s success remains a source of disagreement. 

  • Manufactured exports are a key to Chinas growth;
  • Market incentives has played primary motivational role in business decisions;
  • Activist industrial policies, pushing exports of increasingly high skill and technology content in 1980ties before significant trade liberalization.
  • Rural township and village enterprises which had quasi-cooperative and and quasi-municipality owned character. They were vaguely owned by local government, but their private entrepreneurs held some property rights
  • There was less privatisation of state-owned enterprises than in most developing countries etc.
  • As part of its economic openness and policy of opening in the world, beginning in 1980, Special Economic zones were created to attract foreign firms in many industries;
  • Rapid industrialization marked by increased clustering.

"Demonstration" models


The presence of regional “demonstration” models has been crucial.

v  Japan was emulated by other East Asian region;
v  Hong Kong, Taiwan  and South Korea provided an additional example for China (much of the success came from regional specific influences and regional spillovers).




Gradual Implementation of reforms



One of the most important features of its economic history is the gradual systematic implementation of reforms.

Opposite to many East European countries that opted for a sudden changeover toward free-market economy, China:


v  Introduced new and transitional institutions that exist side by side with previous institutions of central planning for extended period. The served a dual purpose: to improve inefficiency while compensating the losers;
v  kept the central planning system partially intact for an extended period;
v  SOEs remained in government hands for extended period and encouraged and allowed more efficient sector and to grow up around them.

High rates of domestic savings



Savings has been extremely high and raising in China. As of 2008 China was saving about a half of its national income. Explanations for such high domestic savings include 
  • “life-cycle” saving for retirement for the aging population;
  • precautionary savings due to increased income uncertainty;
  • poor financial intermediation;
  • compete for prospective wives by offering larger houses and other wealth, etc.


One country - two systems




After the unification in 1997 with China, Honk Kong’s economic performance remains unshaken and remains as a major trading and financial centre.

The basic law passed by the National People’s congress in 1990 stipulates that HK will retain it’s free market system for 50 years after unification.

Hong Kong has played a crucial role as China's window to the world. Since reforms started in the late 1970s, Hong Kong has done much to channel goods and capital in and out of China. As a result the two economies were closely integrated well before their political unification.

As Chinese window to the world it is an important source of knowledge and expertise in Chinas private and public sector management.

Corporate Social Responsibility in Contemporary China




China is famous for its sweatshops, environmental pollution problems and poor working conditions.

The recent episodes of scandals, involving substandard products, has reminded the world of the shocking fact that Chinese companies are unscrupulous about making money at the expense of human rights and human life. China as a product brand, has been badly damaged and “made in China” brand has been associated to low prices and low quality and socially irresponsible production process.

In a global market where countries are brands, China has to promote itself as a positive brand through effective corporate governance.

Numerous steps and measures has been taken to affect the shift toward more sustainable economic, social and ecological form of development.


This shift has led to many new laws, including the revised company law and labour law with additional provisos on protection of the environment and other stakeholders.



Business and work ethic 



China has always had skilled and disciplined labour force.

Chinese culture has been, and continues to be, shaped by three primary philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.

The Confucian cluster (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,Thailand) emphasizes hierarchy, pragmatism, entrepreneurship, mastery, and embeddedness, values consonant with Confucianism.

Many authors were able to establish a causal link between economic development and Confucianism.

Confucianism not only provides justification for Chinese business practices, but Confucian ideals of family, pragmatism, and interpersonal relationships are at the core of its economic life and success (Crawford, 2000).

As a 2500-year-old philosophical tradition, Confucianism is the fundamental belief system of the Chinese.

Emphasis on:
  •           morality,
  •           interpersonal relationships;
  •         social order.

Confucianism also serves as a code of ethics for the Chinese. Confucianism encompasses six core values: moral cultivation; importance of interpersonal relationships; family orientation; respect for seniority and hierarchy; pursuit of harmony and avoidance of conflict; and the concept of face (Fang, 1999).

The golden rule of reciprocity encapsulates the co care between real and concrete individuals in a community.

Management by guanxi



Guanxi can be seen as a key for the corporate success in China.Within this high-context culture trust is guaranteed via the potential damage to one’s face (mainzi) that would result from failing to honour an exchange obligation. The preservation of one’s face and the gathering of favours owed (rending) are the basis of the concept of Guanxi.

Within these confines, if someone does a favour for you, there will be an expectation that you, at some point in the future, will return the favour.

Some researchers believe that effective guanxi can reduce cost of information search, relationship monitoring and enforce contracts. Other argue that such relationship can provoke ethical concerns about bribery or corruption.


An effective management by guanxi works as a relationship-based mechanism that comes from Chinese cultural ethics based on cooperation that derives from the philosophy of Confucianism, gathers necessary resources for business performance and the survival of Chinese companies. Identifying and cultivating a network of the “right people” helps chines companies to work successfully in and out of China.

China 2015: A hunger for better services




China’s state-led model of economic development has favoured investment over consumption. Official has practised “financial repression” offering very low or even negative rates of interest for deposits. 

The gains are then used to direct subsidised capital to favoured state run firms. In this and other ways the system has repressed consumption. 

Rising middle class in China becomes increasingly fed up by poor services in some areas. 
Liberalization in the health sector, for example, means that 2015 could bring a flood of private capital in posh hospitals for the well-off. At the moment such people travel to Hong Kong or Singapore for medical care.

They demand for better ones through innovation boom in everything from dry – cleaning to gourmet – food delivery to entertainment.

Chasing the Dragon




India is on track to overtake China as the fastest growing major emerging market in the world this year.

Asia's third-largest economy is forecast to expand 7.5 percent in the current fiscal year ending March 2015, using the government's new method for calculating gross domestic product (GDP), up from 7.2 percent in the previous year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

China's economy, by comparison, is expected to grow 6.8 percent in 2015, down from 7.4 percent last year.


sábado, 25 de abril de 2015

KERALA - Beneath the coconut tree

To Shilpa and Yatin. Thank you for all your help and support.
No doubt is one of the most beautiful states of India. With all those coconut trees around, makes you wanna go there just to climb one in search of peace and tranquillity that you can’t find here in London.

It might be a place to heal a broken heart, spend your holiday with your loved one or just a perfect place to escape.

The name of this state means "land of coconut" that comes from Sanskrit. Coconut trees provide shade, food and drink for the Keralits and some extra excitement for a foreigner like myself.

Beneath all those coconut trees lies a model of development praised and talked about for the last couple of decades. No doubt it is an impressive achievement, although not so much for the rest of the world as it is for India. There are better examples of achieving high human development, although not as many examples where it was achieved while low levels of growth.

Impressive how a communist philosophy can serve people interest not the dictators. Highly participative democracy made possible to shape the policy into achieving good quality of life without any populist rhetoric used and abused by other hard core socialist countries.
HDI across States, 1999–2000 and 2007–8

Yet, communist have nothing to celebrate for, as I believe that KMD is just a (good) job half-done. The deficit of political imagination endangers the sustainability of this model and, as many authors would say, it needs to generate growth to sustain itself.

Drunk malayalams wonder the streets at night, many of them because they have nothing productive to do. 

Behind it’s natural beauty there is a true despair, domestic violence, alcoholism and suicides. 

Hindu man have never been good toward real women, while they praise and elevate to goddesses female fictive characters. 

In Kerala there have been some significant positive changes. Women have gained access to education, as their role in enhancing human development has been recognized and supported both by the society and the state.


Women in Kerala

But still, educated woman are voiceless within the home and society and there are not enough of them in politics. People get into huge debts to provide good dowry so to find the perfect match for their daughters. A cases of suicide and domestic violence are widespread in its chauvinist society. 

Kerala is providing with educated people the rest of India and abroad. The government proves to be incapable to provide jobs for its educated people. Many of them flew the country to find a job elsewhere and support the family from a distance. 

The harsh unionisation within the country scares away the manufactures. Not much of a business friendly country. 


Unemployment Rate of major states 2011-12 (Age: 15-59 years)

Source: Economic Review 2014


Remittances are proved to be around 21-22% of the state income that basically sustain the state, together with tourism. 

Not only education but, providing the youth with the right skills and spread entrepreneurial culture may improve the situation. 

KMD has proved to be first world country in human development but in economic development in just another third world country. This phenomenon is called Human Development lopsided growth (HD-lopsided)

Modi-nomics: Development for who?


Let’s go to Gujarat for a while. 

Gujarat is richer and basic infrastructure is provided, there is no more big electricity cuts, and water is abundant. 

The state of Gujarat that has experienced a rapid economic growth in the last 12 years. The state economy raised 10% a year between 2002 – 2012 driven by massive industrialization and much Modi-nomics.

The Economist

Much of its economic success is attributed to one man, now prime minister of India, Narendra Modi. 

In 2014 he won a tremendous victory to make India’s economy work. Good governance is at the heart of India’s failure. It is partly because of the fact that much power is given to the states, the fact that one must deal with a regional and caste based parties, and the colonial and socialist past has given India a bureaucratic system hard to change. 

Born as OBC (other backward casts) Modi married a child while a child himself later abandoned his wife to pursue a career in politics. True Hindu toward his woman but it gives hope to know that an OBC in India can go high as Prime Minister.

He’s been state minister since 2001. Built a reputation as a fierce technocrat, operating always in a focused way making his state business friendly. A true corporate man having into account that India is ranked 142nd for Doing Business according to the World Bank last report. 

Where Kerala succeeded Gujarat has failed. It failed in poverty reduction, in closing the gender gap in access to education, where there it’s 17% while in Kerala is only 4%. Fells above in almost all human development indicators compared with those of Kerala. This phenomenon in known as economic growth lopsided ( EG-lopsided).

Kerala or Gujarat? Nothing much to choose from really, unless the two models merge. Not something to expect to happen, unless the new government is prove to be more imaginative and pro-poor oriented. 

What is true development?


Human life has several dimension: social, political, economic, psychological, and cultural and they should be all part of the development process.

More people access to basic education and health care, more likely is for the poorest that they would have better chance of overcoming penury. 

The KMD proves that high human development doesn’t transfer into an economic growth. Human development is necessary but not sufficient condition for economic growth. Economic growth is an instrument, not a final objective in development.

The first country should be looking upon KMD is India. Then it should be followed by other poor countries as it clearly proves the argument presented by Amartya Sen that we don’t need to wait to achieve certain level of economic growth to provide basic social services to all people in our selected country. That’s what I call a good news with an example. 

Overcoming the restriction created artificially by a caste system imposed by a predominantly Hindu society is another way to go. Outcasts, like dalits form more than 40% of the society and are the poorest in the country. The Hindu culture is still restrictive toward others and prejudices based on caste are still well alive.


Breaking India's Unjust Caste System

Development priorities should be set according to the country or region of interest and it’s unique characteristic. Could not accept the argument that development is all about human development. 

Human development and economic growth make a two way relationship. Both must be promoted to sustain any countries progress. 

Lower growth, as noted in Kerala, may negatively affect the economy by shrinking the governance revenue and the availability of resources necessary to improve human development. 


The History of Hindu India







The song that most of the time was in my background while learning about India.