February   2011

"The Economy of India"

Special Guest Lecture Hosting Mr. Paul Parambi Head of International Business at Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.
Paul Parambi, is in charge of guiding the international asset management business of the Kotak Group. Paul has been associated with the International Business of the group since 1995 and has been instrumental in many ways for its evolution over the last fifteen years, including conceptualizing and establishing its asset management business outside India. From 1991-1995, Paul was part of the corporate finance business of the Kotak Group and was the head of leasing & syndications prior to moving to Dubai.Prior to joining Kotak Group, Paul worked in the sales and marketing function of the Unilever group in India for two years from 1989 to 1991.Paul has qualified as an electronics engineer from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai (1987) and has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1989).

 
Tel Aviv University welcomes a diverse community of students from across the globe

This coming fall, TAU International will be offering 11 graduate degree programs in a variety of fields.  TAU International hosted its first Open House on February 11, 2011, and the event was a great success in furthering Tel Aviv University`s globalization efforts. To watch the lectures and information sessions that took place at the event, please view our YouTube Channel.

 
`World’s first skyscraper sought to intimidate masses`

constructed 11,000 years ago, Jericho tower was aimed at promoted the farming life, tau archeologists say.
Long before its Biblical walls came tumbling down, Jericho’s residents were being enticed to give up hunting and gathering and start farming for a living. They settled in this oasis next to the Jordan River and built a mysterious 8.5-meter (28-foot) stone tower on the edge of town.

When discovered by archaeologists in 1952, it was dated at over 11,000 years old, making it the first and oldest public building even found. But its purpose and the motivation for erecting it has been debated ever since.

Now, using computer technology, Israeli archaeologists are saying it was built to mark the summer solstice and as a symbol that would entice people to abandon their nomadic ways and settle down.

“The tower was constructed by a major building effort. People were working for a very long time and very hard. It was not like the other domestic buildings in Jericho,” said Ran Barkai of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, who was part of a team that did the computer analysis.



The stone tower is about nine meters in diameter at its base and conical in shape. Built out of concentric rows of the stones, it also contains an enclosed stairway. Archeologists say it wasn’t used as a tomb.

Barkai and fellow archaeologist Roy Liran used computers to reconstruct sunsets and found that when the tower was built the nearby mountains cast a shadow on it as the sun set on the longest day of the year. The shadow fell exactly on the structure and then spread out to cover the entire village.

“The tower is an indication of power struggles at the beginning of the Neolithic period and of the fact that a particular person or people exploited the primeval fears of the residents and persuaded them to build it,” Barkai told The Media Line.

Barkai said architecture designed to awe and inspire, and without any obviously functional purpose, isn’t unique to the megalithic period. Even today, governments erect monuments like the Arc de Triomphe to influence public opinion and enhance their standing.

The period when the tower was built was a time when people started to put down literal roots by abandoning hunting and gathering and taking up farming. But, according to Barkai, people didn’t make the transition easily because farming was actually a harder way of life.

“This was a time when hierarchy began and leadership was established. This was the time that social formations took place and many scientists have wondered why people were moved to produce food, to make the transition to agriculture,” Barkai said. “Agriculture worked for the benefit of certain individuals in the community, because people produce surplus that was stored and then divided by individuals.”

“It has been proven that people worked much harder during the Neolithic period than before. It was easier to live by hunting and gathering so we believe this tower was one of the mechanisms to motivate people to take part in a communal lifestyle,” he said.

Mysteriously, the tower was built on the outskirts of town and not as part of the fortifications of the city, which was the world’s first.

A tower was something so alien to their conceptual world of the builders, who had probably never seen or could conceive of such a building, that it must have served more than a defensive purpose, Barkai reckoned.

He backed this up with historical records indicating that no invaders were present in the area at the time it was built, about 8300 BC. According to archaeological estimates, it took about 11,000 working days to build it.

“It is something out of time and place and looks like it doesn’t belong where it was. It was a monumental effort to build, like the pyramids [built 5,000 years later], only among a village of former hunters and gatherers,” Barkai said.

 

The Uprising in Egypt: Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment



The Moshe Dayan Center

Paul Rivlin

Egypt has often been described as a giant sleeping by the Nile. In recent weeks it has woken up and roared with anger. The causes of the huge, unprecedented demonstrations by millions of Egyptians in Cairo and in other parts of the country are both political and economic. The political ones include the lack of democracy exemplified by the fact that the president, Husni Mubarak, has been in power for thirty years and even tried to install his son as his successor. Other closely related factors are the fact that his regime is perceived by the public to be extremely corrupt, which has even become a subject for Egyptian novelists and filmmakers (see `Alaa-al-Aswany’s Yacoubian Building and Khalid al-Khamissi’s Taxi, among others). The banning of political parties and candidates, police brutality, torture, appalling bureaucracy and the callousness of the authorities in the face of the population`s huge day-to-day problems are also, of course, aggravating factors. Finally, there was a tinderbox of economic grievances. Then came the spark: the deposing in January 2011, of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, president of Tunisia, which sent Egyptians, both middle and working class, into the streets, hoping for a similar result in their country.
The wealth of the few, including members of the president’s family, should be measured against the poverty of so many in Egypt. What is the scale of the problem and how has it developed? In 2009 the population numbered 83 million. The national income was $172 billion and national income per capita $2,072. As many prices in Egypt are subsidized, the value of income in terms of purchasing power was much higher: $5,680, an increase of 60% since 2000. The population is growing by about 1.8% a year, or nearly 1.5 million, but the population of working age is increasing by about 2.2% a year. This means that hundreds of thousands of young people are entering the labor market every year. A s a result, Egypt needs to create a million jobs a year just to prevent unemployment from rising.
Measuring unemployment is no easy task: the official figures define unemployment in ways that keep the number low. In 2005, 34% of those aged 15 to 25 years were unemployed. Among 25 to 30 year-olds, the unemployment rate was 16%. There is no evidence of a fall in these rates since then. Unemployment was much higher among women than men; it was higher in urban areas than in rural ones and, perhaps most worrying, it was higher among the educated than among the uneducated. There is also mass underemployment: people who work but do not make any significant contribution. Many in Egypt’s huge bureaucracy – which accounted for 25% of total employment – fall into this category. The depth of the unemployment crisis has led to the appointment of Samir Radwan, perhaps the most acclaimed labor economist in the country, as finance minister. The pressures on him to change economic policies in order to improve conditions in the labor market will be immense. How to do this while retaining the confidence of the international financial community will not be easy.
The average Egyptian exists on a very low wage and, as a result, many of those who are gainfully employed nevertheless live in poverty. The large number of low earners and non-earners means that much of Egypt’s national income accrues to the better-off. In other words, the distribution of income is very unequal. In 2008, the minimum wage was set at $70 a month and some 40% of the population had an income of $2 per day or less. In October 2010, an Egyptian administrative court upheld an earlier verdict that forced an unwilling government to set the official monthly minimum wage at 1,200 pounds ($207) for public and private sector employees, most of whom earn between 200 and 500 pounds, much less than the minimum.
Although in recent years the economy has grown by about 5% annually, employment growth has been limited. Furthermore, the pattern of employment growth has been problematic. Between 1997 and 2005, employment increased by 4.3 million, under half a million a year. Of these, 2.5 million were in services, one million in agriculture, 700,000 in construction, but only 85,000 in manufacturing industry. This is the sector that more than any other competes or should compete in international markets. It is the sector that has been at the forefront of China`s growth and the huge reduction in poverty that has occurred there and elsewhere in East and South East Asia.
One of the main reasons for Egypt’s socio-economic problems is its reliance on rental incomes. The balance of payments is funded by inflows of remittances of Egyptian emigrants, revenues from tourism, Suez Canal tolls, oil and gas exports and foreign aid. Although exports of manufactured goods have increased, they play a much smaller role than in countries that have successfully industrialized. Rental incomes depend as much on what happens abroad as what happens at home and this means that the economy is exposed to the whims of international trends. While this applies to manufactured exports as well, competitiveness plays a greater role there.
As a result the benefits of growth have been smaller than in other countries. One consequence is that 87% of Egyptian households have an annual income of less than $1,000, while 3% have above $2000. This compares with 50% of Chinese households who have an income of less than $1000, while 19% have over $2,000, and 66% of Indians households with incomes below $1,000 and 12% with more than $2,000.
Not only is unemployment understated but so is the inflation rate. In 2010, the inflation rate was 12%, but food prices rose by 20%. As food accounts for 40% of the average Egyptian`s expenditure, the sensitivity to food price inflation was something that contributed heavily to the unrest in Egypt. It is also one important source of discontent in Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, and of course Tunisia.
The challenges facing the regime are enormous. The demonstrations have brought parts of the economy to a standstill. Losses to the economy have been reported at $300 million a day. According to newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, one million tourists left the country since the demonstrations began. An official indication of the damage is reflected in the fact that the government has created an $850 million fund to compensate people for property damaged during the protests. Will the regime be able to deal with the rampant corruption and cronyism that have resulted in the loss of billions of pounds in tax revenues? Will it be able to control monopolies owned by those close to the leadership? Will it be able to improve the infrastructure? (There is a huge housing shortage with hundreds of thousands, if not more, living in graveyards and in other substandard accommodations.) Will it be able to improve literacy among the 34% of the adult population who cannot read and write? Will it be able to change the pattern of growth so as to create more jobs in sectors that are internationally competitive? These are complex and interrelated issues. The Egyptian economy progressed under Mubarak, but gaps widened and political repression was the order of the day. The combination of these factors led to the explosion, but Egypt remains under army rule. It is the armed forces who will determine the future.
Having discovered their voice, it is unlikely that Egyptians will remain as silent as they have in the past. Whoever succeeds Mubarak will need to improve the economic conditions of ordinary Egyptians or there will be another explosion – and it is likely to happen much more quickly than this one did.
Paul Rivlin is a Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University..

 
The Moshe Dayan Center ranked in the top 10 Middle Eastern and North African think tanks


The Moshe Dayan Center
ranked in the top 10 Middle Eastern and North African think tanks in "THE GLOBAL `GO-TO THINK TANKS` 2010:  The Leading Public Policy Research Organizations In The World," by The Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program, International Relations Program, University of Pennsylvania.

 
TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY GRANTED HONORARY DOCTORATE TO CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY, DR. ANGELA MERKEL

The degree was awarded  for her role as an outstanding world leader and her consistent support for the State of Israel

Tel Aviv University awarded an honorary Ph.D. degree to the Chancellor of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel at a festive ceremony.
Tel Aviv University President, Prof. Yosef Klafter, noted that the University is proud to award the degree to Dr. Merkel for her role as a stateswoman and an outstanding world leader fighting for freedom, human rights and the rule of law; for her achievements in service of the German Parliament and the German people for over two decades, and her struggle on behalf of a scientific policy coupled with social responsibility.
Prof. Klafter stated further that the degree is being given to Dr. Merkel in appreciation for her consistent and unwavering support of Israel, both personally and in her role as Chancellor of Germany, for her devotion to building bridges between Jews and non-Jews in German and throughout Europe, for her steadfast condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism, and her contribution towards continuing the cordial and special relationship between German and Israel.

 
The International MA Program in Environmental Studies

The International MA Program in Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University takes place over one-year  (3 semesters including summer session), full time, and is taught in English. It aims to provide students from all over the world with an intensive multidisciplinary insight into environmental studies, with an emphasis on Israel`s unique geographic and geopolitical setting.
Students on the program study a broad selection of environmental subjects, through core courses and a range of electives, to gain an insight into Israel`s environmental history both as an individual nation and as part of the greater Middle East region. In parallel to a broad overview, an emphasis is placed on water, exposing the students to the scientific, legal and policy aspects of one of Israel`s most critical environmental issues. The program looks at water as a political issue, and how understanding water as a shared resource is key to coexistence in the region, and also covers topics such as marine conservation, river rehabilitation, and coastal management. Classes will take place from Monday to Thursday, during afternoon hours, which will allow students to take an intensive language course in Hebrew or Arabic or participate in the program`s internship course, which places students at leading environmental organizations and government offices in exchange for academic credit.

 
The Punta Del Este (Uruguay) TAU Meeting


The Argentinian Friends of the Tel Aviv University realized their traditional encounter in the city of Punta del Este on January 2011. The Uruguayan Friends of the TAU and the Brazilian Friends of TAU participated, as well in this event, supporting the academic and cultural work of the Tel Aviv University.

 
Focus on
banner-focus-e.jpg
The International Forum

The Tel Aviv University Institute for Diplomacy and Regional Cooperation, in collaboration with
The English Speaking Friends of Tel Aviv University hosting H.E Mr. Michael Rendi, Ambassador of Austria
"Austria and Israel: An In- and Out-look into a Special Relationship"
Chairman: Prof. Raanan Rein
Coordinator: Miriam Ben-Haim

 

AVI KATZ - Arab Societies Strike Back


THE UNIMAGINABLE HAPPENED.
Hosni Mubarak, who ruled longer than
any leader since modern Egypt’s
founder, Muhammad Ali (who died in 1849),
was toppled by 18 days of massive popular
protests enabled by powerful new weapons –
Facebook and Twitter, interacting with cellphone
instant messaging and photo uploading,
YouTube and the ubiquitous, round-the-clock
feedback and cheerleading of Al-Jazeera TV.
Triggered by the “Jasmine Revolution,”
against Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,
Egypt’s “People’s Revolution” has sent shock
waves reverberating across the region. The
long-established maxim that authoritarian Arab
regimes possessed the wherewithal to dominate
indefinitely their restive but politically
impotent societies proved to be no longer universally
valid. Ruling elites and emboldened
opposition forces each hastened to draw the
appropriate lessons. From Algeria and Syria to
Yemen and Bahrain, unnerved regimes
announced economic and political reforms,
while also sharpening their proverbial swords.
From below, social and political forces
quickly began organizing their own “days of
rage” protests. In Iran, two years after the violent
suppression of large-scale protests over falsified
presidential election results, both the
regime and the opposition Green movement
sought to appropriate Mubarak’s deposal for
their opposing agendas.
Questions abound: How had societal discontent
in Tunisia and Egypt been suddenly
translated into successful action? How vulnerable
were other regimes to similar strategies?
Was this the first stage of a larger democratic
revolution, the long-delayed arrival of what
American political scientist Samuel
Huntington termed the “third wave” of democratization
which swept across Eastern Europe,
Latin America and Asia more than two decades
ago? What will be the nature of state-society
relations in post-Mubarak Egypt? What will be
the role of the military? The Muslim
Brotherhood? The direction of Egypt’s foreign
policy, its effect on other regional actors, and
on the relations with the US?
In retrospect, at least one thing is clear: the
Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes committed just
about every possible misstep over the last
decade, at a time when they were in a position
of strength. Instead of reaching out to political
and social forces to give them a stake in an
evolving, reforming system of government,
they became even more closed, corrupt and
deaf to the rising discontent. Egypt went
through the motions of institutional reform,
while in practice crushing all challenges, from
the liberal secular stream to the Muslim
Brotherhood, from the kefaya (“Enough”)
protests of 2004-05 to labor activists in 2008,
with the last straw being the November 2010
parliamentary elections, which gave the ruling
National Democratic Party more than 95 percent
of the seats.
More than ever, Egypt looked like a gumlukiya
(monarchical republic), with an aging
president preparing to hand power over to his
son Gamal, who together with his cronies in the
economic sphere had accumulated vast wealth
in Egypt’s ostensibly open economic
environment.
A new Gallup Survey on Global Wellbeing
provides one indication of the plight of both
countries’ citizens. The vast majority in both
countries reported that they were either “struggling”
(77 percent in Tunisia, 71 percent in
Egypt) or “suffering” (9 percent in Tunisia, 19
percent in Egypt), this at a time in which the
GDP in both places was rising substantially.
Reversing this trend will be a daunting task for
successor governments, especially in Egypt.
Can popular protests of the same magnitude
occur elsewhere, and produce the same results?
While political pan-Arabism, the galvanizing,
quasi-messianic ideology of the 1950s and
1960s, has long been dismissed by Arabs and
non-Arabs alike as an unworkable ideology,
the overwhelmingly youthful populations
across the Arab Middle East and North Africa
are interconnected, literally, in ways unimaginable
just a few years ago.
The simple messages of the two revolutions
– democracy, freedom, dignity and justice –
resonate loudly and widely. Nonetheless, the
mix of factors – political, economic, sectarian,
tribal – which underpin the wave of demonstrations
and demands sweeping the region
varies from place to place. The Jordanian
authorities are being targeted from rival directions
– both their East Bank tribal backbone
and the Islamic movement, which draws much
support from the Palestinian component of
society.
Unrest in Bahrain has a strong Sunni vs.
Shi’ite dimension. The Yemeni government is
confronting multiple rebellions and significant
domestic opposition even in the capital. Violent
protests have long been a staple of Algerian
life, but the lack of social and political cohesion
among the regime’s disparate opponents
(Kabyle Berbers, liberals, Islamists, secular
parties, alienated youth) and its possession of
oil and gas wealth gives it breathing room.
Morocco suffers from many of the same
socioeconomic ills of its neighbors, but the
monarchy has been more adroit in co-opting
and managing the variety of currents (Islamist,
Berber, established political parties, liberals),
and thus far avoided the regional trend.
From a comparative perspective, both
Tunisia and Egypt possess higher degrees of
“stateness” than other Arab states – welldefined
national territorial identities, traditions
of centralized government predating colonial
rule, and relatively homogeneous populations.
Paradoxically, their higher degree of social and
political cohesion, once thought to be an asset
for the regimes, rendered them more vulnerable
to being deposed, once the fear factor was
broken and a critical mass of sustained protest
was achieved.
This cohesion may work to both countries’
benefit as they begin to tackle the daunting task
of translating the euphoria of their revolutions
into lasting achievements. Building new, more
just, and more genuinely democratic systems,
which can address the countries’ underlying
social and economic ills, will be infinitely more
time-consuming, and more challenging, than
toppling two aging autocrats. •
The author is the Marcia Israel Senior Fellow
at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle
Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv
University.

 

Qaddafi`s Libya in World Politics



The Moshe Dayan Center


In light of the recent developments in Libya, I would like to draw your attention to Qaddafi`s Libya in World Politics (2008), by Prof.Yehudit Ronen, a senior research fellow of the Moshe Dayan Center. This work offers a well-researched analysis of Qaddafi`s domestic and international policies over the course of his rule..

 
UMBERTO ECO

Istituto Italiano di Cultura – Tel Aviv presents Professor Emeritus, University of Bologna, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna  
CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG NOVELIST

Introduction: Prof. Hana Wirth-Nesher
Department of English and American Studies

 
The Arab Order Undermined 
Bruce Maddy-Weitzman


The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies

 
for regional tensions and conflict,
was again plunged into crisis, as
Hizballah pulled the rug out from under
the government over its failure to disavow
the special international tribunal, which is
expected to indict senior Hizballah operatives
for the 2005 assassination of former
prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
In Sudan, after decades of war and misery,
a referendum among the non-Arab,
non-Muslim southern minority produced a
massive turnout in favor of secession.
Optimists hoped for a peaceful,
Czechoslovakian-type breakup; others feared renewed bloodshed and
further secessionist efforts by other parts of Sudan.
For a moment, however, the eyes of the region were focused elsewhere,
on normally placid and unnewsworthy Tunisia. In an extraordinary,
and stunningly rapid, turn of events, the self-immolation of a young
man in a provincial town sparked a cascade of popular protests that eventually
chased into exile the country’s powerful autocratic president, Zayn
al-Abidine Ben Ali, 23 years after he had removed the country’s founding
president, Habib Bourguiba, in a palace coup.
Never before in the history of Arab politics had a ruler been toppled
from power by popular protests. Commentators, opposition Arab
activists and many ordinary folk from around the region celebrated the
event and hastened to herald a new era, one in which authoritarian governments
could ignore the deep-seated grievances of their publics, especially
their youth, only at their peril.
It was thought that the so-called “Jasmine Revolution” might eventually
trigger democratic transformation, the way that Lech Walesa’s
Solidarity movement in Poland triggered the eventual fall of communism
in Eastern Europe, particularly if Tunisia’s own transition to
democracy proves to be meaningful and durable.
There is no little irony in the fact that Tunisia might even be considered
as a model to emulate. After all, throughout 55 years of independence,
Tunisia has been at the margins of Arab politics, studiously pursuing
its own path in both domestic and foreign affairs, seeking mainly
to avoid the embrace of radical and potentially threatening states and
political movements. Asizable and educated middle class emerged in an
economy that has a large industrial sector and very limited oil and gas
reserves, resulting in the highest level of per capita income among nonoil
producing Arab states.
At the same time, there were considerable shortcomings. During his
first years in power, Ben Ali had briefly experimented with political pluralism,
but he brutally repressed the Islamist current when it showed
signs of becoming a significant force. Ben Ali’s ruling formula – political
stability and economic growth in return for unchallenged authority
and the complete emasculation of the political system and civil society –
worked for two decades.
But against all advice, the regime failed to take advantage of its success
and widen the political and social space, even incrementally, in
order to reinforce its legitimacy. Instead, it became even more repressive
and heavy-handed. The apparently exponential
increase in the level of corruption, centering
on the Tarabelsi family (that of Ben
Ali’s current wife), deepened the anger and
alienation that young Tunisians, especially,
felt towards the authorities. The worldwide
price rises in basic commodities in 2010
added a new layer of pressure.
Tunisia has always possessed a fair
amount of the elements deemed necessary
for establishing and maintaining a political
system that at least approaches a Westernstyle
democracy: social cohesion, an educated
multilingual middle class, a legacy of
authentic non-governmental civic and professional organizations, such
as trade unions and its bar association, a strong tradition of secularism
and concern with women’s rights, and an absence of grievances and
complexes regarding the colonial past one finds in neighboring Algeria.
But at the same time, Tunisian political life has from the outset been
dominated by the president, leaving all other political parties and forces
emasculated.
Given the strong challenge mounted by the Islamist current two
decades ago, the Tunisian authorities will surely be wary of giving the
Islamists much space to operate. At the same time, excluding an Islamic
current entirely from politics carries its own risks: the possible creation
of a permanent and potentially attractive opposition pole untainted by the
need for compromise or responsibility; pushing Islamic militants into the
radical, jihadi underground; and making it more difficult to achieve a
consensus on the rules of the political game.
The Tunisian events sparked a series of similar protests, which spread
across neighboring Algeria, with Jordan experiencing discontent over
price hikes as well. Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania have all witnessed
copycat self-immolation attempts, and opposition political forces
planned their next moves with the Tunisian example in mind.
For now, however, Tunisia seems to be more of an exception than an
exemplar. Ruling elites in the Maghreb, Egypt and the Arab East were
extremely uncomfortable with the sight of popular protests toppling a
fellow member of the club of autocrats. They will surely study the
Tunisian experience closely, so as to not fall into the same trap, employing
a variety of carrot and stick measures.
To that end, Kuwait has already begun doling out cash grants for food
purchases to all of its citizens. Hosni Mubarak’s eventual successor in
Egypt may seek to reinvigorate the country’s political system, to avoid
keeping too tight a lid on the social and political pressure cooker.
Meanwhile, Tunisia’s own elites will be busy managing the competing
and complex pressures of maintaining stability, cohesion and their
own particular positions, while seeking renewed sources for regime
legitimacy through increased political pluralism, the rule of law, and
policies to ameliorate socioeconomic grievances.
As with the Jasmine Revolution, this too, will be watched with interest
around the region. •
The author is the Marcia Israel Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan
Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.

 

Editor: Gill Rosner1

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