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The Times of India

Meeting terrorists is a journalist’s duty, not sedition

If I was offered a meeting with Hafiz Saeed, head of the Lashkar e-Toiba, what would be my reaction? I would seize the opportunity with glee. Any self-respecting journalist should be delighted to get such a scoop. Yet when Ved Prakash Vaidik, a senior Hindi journalist, met Saeed in Pakistan, Indian politicians and TV anchors More >

Jaitley dons a PC mask

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s maiden budget repeats so many figures of Chidambaram’s interim February budget that global analysts call it a cut-and-paste job. I call it a Chidambaram budget with saffron lipstick. Chidambaram’s February figures were attacked at the time as bogus and inflated by the BJP. The same figures have suddenly become the BJP’s More >

Why budget? Corporatize the railways instead

Narendra Modi claims to be a radical reformer. He envisages a quadrilateral of bullet trains connecting India’s four metro cities, with more to follow. However, this cannot be done without radical surgery to rectify the total mess in the current structure and finances of the Indian Railways. Modi must declare he will convert the railways, More >

Sher ki soorat, khargosh ka kaleja

Narendra Modi’s fans expect him to extend his Gujarat model of development to all India. They think Modi’s “tough love” will lead to hard decisions that hurt immediately, but later yield handsome dividends. They believe Modi will, as promised in his campaign pledges, treat Indians not as recipients of doles and subsidies but as aspirants More >

Free the media, abolish the I&B ministry

Dear Prakash Javadekar, Your first instincts as Information and Broadcasting minister seem sound. You say you are willing “philosophically and ideologically“ to work towards abolition of the I&B Ministry, which has no place in a democracy with a free media. You accept there is no logic in prohibiting news broadcasts by private radio stations. Rather More >

Jaitley should enact a Right to Disinvest

Dear Arun Jaitley, As you prepare to present your first budget, you will be struggling to make ends meet. Your predecessor did some financial jugglery (like not paying overdue bills) to bring down the fiscal deficit, but that’s unsustainable. You also face an infrastructure crisis: the public-private partnership model has broken down, since private players More >

Modi must say no to Naidu’s demand for Rs 54,000-cr super-freebie

You have become Prime Minister by promising strong, decisive governance. To prove you are serious, you must veto the demand of your ally, Seemandhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, for Rs 54,000 crore to fulfil his crazy election promises. Your election campaign promised a dynamic economy enabling people to prosper on their own, not depend on More >

Powering up: Modi may soon control two-thirds of the states

I was among those warning that a Modi government could not transform the economy quickly. It faced deep structural constraints, both economic and political. However, both are lifting faster than seemed possible till now. Last week I wrote about how economic constraints were easing, thanks to soaring animal spirits. Foreign investors have brought in $11 More >

Soaring animal spirits can make Modi’s task easier

When expectations are strong enough, they become self-fulfilling. If enough people think land and stock prices are going to rise and all of them start buying, the price of land and stocks will indeed shoot up. If all businessmen fear a recession and stop investing that itself will cause a recession. I argued in these More >

How migrant labourers worked in Modi’s favour

Most of us are still struggling to grasp the dimensions of Narendra Modi’s victory. He won a mind-boggling 71 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats. So he won far more seats in UP than the Congress party did in all India. Mayawati, who aspired to become prime minister in a hung Parliament, was so engulfed by More >

Even in defeat, Aam Aadmi Party still matters

I have long been allergic to mainline political parties. On election day, I typically go to the polling booth, look at the photos of candidates, and vote for the bestlooking independent. I did not vote this time because I was abroad. But I made a donation to the AAP. It often makes me tear my More >

Well-intentioned laws, courts cripple growth

A key reason why India’s economic growth has halved from 9% to 4.5% per year is that, in search of inclusive growth, the courts and legislatures have increasingly made legitimate business difficult. It now takes 12 years to open a new coal mine. This is not inclusive growth but paralysis and stagnation. The new land More >

Disarmament is for wimps. Go get your nukes if you can

All my life I have opposed nuclear bombs. I have argued that such bombs are basically unusable; that, instead of ensuring security, they risk escalation of small conflicts into disasters; and that they lead to undesirable macho foreign policies. Most Indians exulted after India’s nuclear tests of 1998, claiming India was now a great power More >

Gujarat is India’s top state in economic freedom

Does Narendra Modi actually have a great Gujarat model, or just wellpackaged hype? Critics say that Gujarat has grown fast, but some others have grown faster. The Raghuram Rajan Committee on development indicators says Gujarat’s social indicators are just middling. Looking at children of class 3-5 who can do subtraction, Gujarat has declined from 22nd More >

UPA’s 10-year averages are just statistical spin

Collapsing economic growth, high inflation and corruption explain why the Congress is heading for its worst defeat ever. GDP growth averaged 9% for much of UPA rule, but has halved to 4.5% in its final two years, crushing incomes and opportunities. The Congress manifesto explains this away by using long-term averages. It says GDP growth More >