India: Major economic growth projected

According to a recent Goldman Sachs report, India will become the world’s fifth largest economy within 10 years, moving ahead of Italy, France and Great Britain. India may reach second place by mid-century, behind China, it said.

The report, according to a BBC story, attributes India’s economic growth to government policies allowing for “competition and efficiency.”

As if in rebuttal, last week the Communist Party of India (Marxist) noted, “Investment, modernization, efficiency and productivity increases are terms which have to be looked at within a class context.” The party has criticized the government’s neoliberal economic policies, saying they have caused severe hardship and ruin among India’s working people, particularly in agriculture.

The Goldman Sachs report predicted that within 15 years a fourfold rise in average personal income in India is likely, as is a fivefold increase in automobile purchases and a tripling of oil requirements. It said India will need to overcome inadequate port facilities and highways, insufficient electricity generating capabilities and looming shortages of skilled workers.

Great Britain: Public service unionists demand respect

Hundreds of public service workers descended upon parliamentarians and government ministers in London Jan. 23 as part of a Trades Union Congress campaign against privatization.

Threatened pay caps and lack of recognition for workers’ contributions to improved services is causing low morale, they said. The lobbyists asked ministers to refrain from justifying austerity measures — so-called reforms — by harping on public service shortcomings. Ministers were encouraged to consider the complexities of providing public services and hazards of a “quick fix.”

Unionists protested against inflexibility and top-down management strategies, cautioning that contracts with private companies may violate the ethical foundations of the public sector. Market mechanisms for promoting choice were criticized as causing divisions among providers and blocking collaboration.

Ministers “should work with public sector staff, treating them as part of the solution, not part of the problem,” according to General Secretary Brendan Barber, quoted on the TUC web site.

Djibouti: U.S. sets up unified military command

On Jan. 11, a single U.S. military command for Africa was established in Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. The new headquarters, which includes 2,000 troops, replaced command operations shared between Europe and the U.S.

Washington is confronting a “caliphate from Spain, all of Europe, Africa, across Asia, Indonesia,” according to Gen. Peter Pace ( That was the context for U.S. military support for Ethiopia’s recent invasion of Muslim-ruled Somalia.

U.S. arms sales to Africa — 40 percent to East Africa — totaled $39 million in 2005 and $60 million in 2006.

Nearby Kenya hosts two U.S. bases; Zambia and Uganda, one each. Mombasa, Kenya, hosts an oil pipeline terminal that is accessible to U.S. ships.

Oil from Africa currently accounts for about 20 percent of total U.S. imports, and that figure is expected to climb to 25 percent by 2015.

Iraq: Workers mobilize against privatization

In Basra, refinery workers belonging to the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions of Iraq (FWCUI) demonstrated Dec. 27 against fuel price increases at their state-owned petroleum complex.

In Karbala, the unionists joined other workers, “Shia and Sunni alike,” in a large demonstration on Jan. 12 against corruption in the electric power industry.

The FWCUI is continuing its protests against government price increases for commodities, especially fuel, which have led to elevated production costs. The federation theorizes that the government intends to make the refinery in Basra noncompetitive to prepare it for privatization. That scenario, the workers fear, would lead to the loss of many of the 5,000 jobs at the refinery.

The report on, the web site of a worldwide 20-million-member energy workers’ federation, notes, “FWCUI has called for the end to military occupation in Iraq, and [for] workers to take a real and active role in determining the structures, labor laws and constitution of the Iraqi government.”

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney (atwhit @