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Don’t ignore the saner voices of moderate Muslims

There is much in common between those who hit Paris last week and Mumbai on 26/11. Let nobody pretend, like elements of the left, that Paris was just revenge against Western imperialism. ISIS aims to become the biggest imperialist of all, re-creating the ancient Islamic empire from Portugal to China. The Ottoman caliphate once came More >

India is more sensitive now, not more intolerant

Narendra Modi said in London that “India will not tolerate intolerance”. Secular critics jeered, since the BJP had raised the communal temperature during the Bihar election. Over 50 writers have returned national awards in protest against intolerance. They cite the Dadri beef lynching, murder of three prominent writers, and the ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni. More >

The tragicomedy of being forced to import sand

Narendra Modi wants to create millions of jobs. India’s biggest job creator is construction, creating over 20 million jobs in the last nine years. Jobs in other sectors are growing slowly, or falling. Yet construction now faces a problem that is as comic as tragic. Once, India’s growth was hobbled by shortage of foods, foreign More >

For Nitish, rural electrification can be a winner

Forget caste arithmetic. Economic development gave Nitish Kumar his Bihar election victories in 2005 and 2010. He looks set to win a third victory based on development, the trump card this time being rural electricity. When Bihar was partitioned in 2000, Jharkhand got the lion’s share of coal and power stations. The rump Bihar state More >

China’s Taobao villages show e-commerce can transform rural India

Narendra Modi’s Digital India is a scheme that includes connecting all Indian villages with broadband. He says this will empower rural Indians, without spelling out all the details. He should learn from China’s Taobao villages, which have been transformed by e-commerce. China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, has pioneered rural e-commerce through its rural arm, Taobao, claiming More >

Longer life is the greatest form of poverty reduction

Angus Deaton, who has just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, is famous for three major findings. First, humanity has enjoyed a Great Escape from poverty because of rapid economic growth, especially in China and India. Second, humanity has also enjoyed a Great Escape from death and disease. Third, foreign aid typically fails to reduce More >

The Dadri effect: Killing beef-eaters will not win elections

Predicting elections is a mug’s game. Nonetheless, I predict that the BJP will lose in Bihar. Killing beef-eaters does not win elections. Journalists have long accused the BJP of trying to win Bihar by stoking communal passions with stunts like throwing calf heads or meat near temples. This is not conclusively proven. But BJP governments More >

A beef-eating Hindu demands his rights

As a beef-eating Hindu, I am utterly outraged at the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri by a Hindu mob claiming the man had beef in his house. Even worse is the attempt of BJP politicians to sanitize the lynching. Culture minister Mahesh Sharma claims it was just “an accident.” Former MLA Nawab Singh Nagar More >

G20 should consider a new, more fair intellectual property rights regime

Cynics say that G20 meetings are a complete waste of time. The G20 was created for a coordinated fiscal and monetary push out of the Great Recession of 2008-10. Since then, it seems to have lost its rationale. Arvind Panagariya, India’s Sherpa for the next G20 summit, seeks new ideas that India can take up More >

Reclaim land for industry from rivers, reservoirs

Last week, I wrote of the huge potential for creating fresh land by reclaiming it from the sea, instead of dispossessing farmers to build future industries and airports. India has a very long coastline, with large mud flats (especially in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu) that can be reclaimed cheaply. One reader objected that most of More >

Create land offshore instead of acquiring it

The land acquisition issue has been brushed under the carpet for the time being. Yet officials in the department of industrial promotion and policy say that the land banks available with many state governments are getting exhausted. A JP Morgan study of the biggest 100 projects suggests that 43% have land problems. So, if the More >

Don’t be afraid of US raising interest rates

World Bank’s chief economist Kaushik Basu wants the US Fed to postpone raising US interest rates, fearing “panic and turmoil” in emerging markets like India. Alas, this mistakes dither and indecision for good policy. For years, the Fed has kept interest rates close to zero. This is utterly unnatural. It has been justified as a More >

China’s market crash presages coming political crisis

A financial typhoon from China has sunk stock and commodity markets across the globe. This is neither temporary nor just economic. It represents an existentialist political crisis for the Communist Party of China. Till now, the party has combined authoritarian politics with steady but limited economic reform to produce the fastest GDP growth in history. More >

Are achhe din over for markets? Only time will tell

Is the market crash just the beginning of a global recession? Maybe. Is the market crash just a temporary blip, providing a great buying opportunity, as during the ‘taper tantrum’ of August 2013? Maybe. Both pessimists and optimists can make a case. Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley has long predicted a Chinese crash arising out More >

Land issue: How Modi can go on the offensive

The government believes it has found a roundabout solution to the land acquisition imbroglio. One investment bank estimates that acquisition problems affect over 40% of major stalled projects, though they are not always the binding constraint. The 2013 Act on acquisition provided for the consent of 70-80% of affected persons plus a social impact assessment. More >