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The Times of India

Start an Olympic-style competition for state governments

Many people wonder what Niti Aayog, the successor to the Planning Commission, will do. It will serve as a think tank, making policy proposals. But history shows that policy proposals not backed by cash are typically ignored. Nobody would listen to the World Bank or IMF but for the fact that their advice goes with More >

Kejri and NaMo are two sides of the same coin

Astrologers remain in high demand no matter how often they are proved wrong. That’s true of the media too. Those who failed to analyse or predict voter behaviour before the Delhi election were holding forth the next day on the implications for future elections. In the general election nine months ago, the BJP won as More >

The nuclear ‘breakthrough’ is mostly hype

Indian officials say the Obama visit broke a seven-year logjam in nuclear cooperation, opening the way for US firms to set up nuclear power plants in India. However, in Washington there is no jubilation, much caution, and some plain scepticism. Hope springs eternal, but the logjam has not yet been broken. The Modi-Obama meeting whipped More >

Ideas for a dream budget from Jaitley

I called Arun Jaitley’s first budget “a Chidambaram budget with a dash of saffron lipstick“. Jaitley made only minor changes from Chidambaram’s interim budget a few months earlier. BJP supporters said Jaitley had assumed office only in May, lacked the time for a radical overhaul by July, and so kept his powder dry for his More >

China needs democracy for next big leap

The IMF reckons India will grow by 6.5% in 2016, against China’s 6.3%. The World Bank estimates India will grow by 7% in 2017 against China’s 6.9%. Many Indians are rejoicing. Caution, please. First, we are light years behind China in absolute economic measures and may take a century to catch up. Second, China is More >

A tale of two ethnic cleansings in Kashmir

January 19 marks the 25th anniversary of the Azaadi (independence) uprising in the Kashmir Valley, leading to the ethnic cleansing of around 400,000 Kashmir Pandits. For some, this day heralded the rejection of Indian rule by protesting Kashmiris, followed by the bloody suppression of Kashmiri human rights by Indian forces (portrayed in the film ‘Haider’). More >

Ordinances bad for democracy but opposition disrupters are worse

When I wrote last week about the government issuing ordinances on coal auctions and foreign investment in insurance, this seemed a one-off tactic. But now ordinances look like they are becoming a standard Modi strategy to overcome opposition obstructionism. The last session of Parliament left Modi looking weak and hobbled. Opposition disruptions totally prevented the More >

Ordinance Raj signals the rot in democracy

Having failed to get Rajya Sabha approval for bills on auctioning coal blocks and raising foreign investment in insurance to 49% of equity, the government has issued ordinances to give both the force of law. Finance minister Jaitley says this should convince investors that parliamentary chaos won’t thwart economic reforms. Alas, foreign investors are aghast More >

Global tremors: bure sitare can bring bure din

Narendra Modi’s first six months in office reflected “achhe sitare” (lucky stars) more than “achhe din” (good days). But luck can turn nastily. Suddenly, dark global clouds over Russia (and maybe even China) signal the risk of “bure din” (bad days) ahead. Is last week’s rouble collapse the start of a debacle like the 1997-99 More >

‘Make in India’ can’t be a policy, only an outcome

Narendra Modi has come to power by promising rapid economic growth that delivers millions of jobs. To achieve this, Modi has devised a ‘Make in India’ policy. Launched with a blaze of publicity , it seeks to make India a manufacturing giant and attract global investors. It aims to raise the share of manufacturing in More >

Country’s linguistic glue is Bollywood, not Sanskrit

Education Minister Smriti Irani has decreed that Kendriya Vidyalayas (schools for children of government officials) cannot teach German as a third language (in addition to Hindi and English), and must teach Sanskrit instead. RSS groups like Sanskrit Bharati want Sanskrit made compulsory in all schools. This will evoke strong opposition, especially in parts of the More >

Modi must not create rules that cannot be enforced

In his election campaign, Narendra Modi said that for every new law we should abolish 10 old ones. This admirable sentiment expressed a golden rule of good governance — create a minimum of sensible laws and enforce them fully. Don’t create a plethora of laws that overwhelm administrative capacity and remain unimplemented. Alas, this principle More >

Six months of Modi: achhe sitare more than achhe din

Have six months of Narendra Modi’s rule produced the achhe din (good days) promised during his election campaign? To some extent, yes. But this owes more to good luck than good policy. The most dramatic improvement by far is falling inflation. After years of double digit inflation, consumer inflation is down to just 5.5%.Wholesale price More >

Did Modi learn from the fall of the Berlin Wall?

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago. An entire generation has come up since, barely aware of the Wall’s history. Its lessons must never be forgotten. World War II ended with East Germany occupied by the USSR and West Germany by the US and its allies. East Germany by the US and its allies. East More >

Beedis a bigger killer, tax them like cigarettes

Dear Dr Harsh Vardhan, You are rightly worried about the health effects of cigarettes. You are campaigning for much higher taxes to deter cigarette smoking, a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes, and a ban on e-cigarettes. You want three-quarters of every cigarette pack to be covered with health warnings. Very good, but there More >