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The Times of India

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 >

Are Prime Minister Modi’s reforms half-hearted or clever gradualism?

Policy changes after the Maharashtra elections have sent animal spirits and stock markets soaring. Diesel has been decontrolled. The price of natural gas has been revised to $5.61, with a proviso to revise it every six months. Coal blocks deallocated by the Supreme Court are going to be auctioned soon. Earlier, there were some changes More >

Can Congress bounce back from No 3?

Having been thrashed in the general election, and again in the state elections last week in Maharashtra and Haryana, can the Congress bounce back? And if so, how and why? In the past, the Congress has often been written off after massive defeats but bounced back. However, we may have entered a new phase. The More >

Child labour can’t end without good schools for all

Indians are delighted that Kailash Satyarthi has won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating child labour. This includes Indians who have, directly or indirectly, used child labour in house holds, dhabas, and artisanal work of every kind (from weaving and matchstick-making to pottery and gem polishing). Child labour is so common that it evokes tut-tutting More >

Chidambaram’s ghosts

Narendra Modi has generated much hope and enthusiasm. He has been praised for the Jan Dhan Yojana, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, higher FDI limits for defence and insurance, punctuality requirements for bureaucrats and selfcertification of documents by citizens. Some of these are simply extensions of old Congress schemes, but Modi has done a fine sales More >

Don’t bribe Pak with gas when we need it more

The government seems serious about a ridiculous proposal — supplying Pakistan five million units of imported gas per day, enough for two large power plants. When India is desperately short of gas, this is folly. Many Indian power plants lie closed for want of gas. The consequent power shortage translates into lakhs of farmers with More >

‘Bimaru’ MP now fastest-growing state in India

For several years, Bihar has been India’s fastest-growing state. In 2013-14 it has been overtaken by another backward state, Madhya Pradesh, which grew 11.08% against the national 4.7%. MP has averaged over 10% in the last three years, even as national rate has plummeted. Till the 1990s, backward states in the Hindi belt grew slowly, More >

Denationalize coal, produce gas along with it

Denationalize coal. Auction all future coal blocks. Allow all winners to produce associated gas (methane) as well as coal. These should be the key features of a new coal policy, following the Supreme Court’s striking down of 214 coal block allocations since 1993. Many analysts call this a verdict against corruption. Actually, the court has More >

If Indians aren’t investing here, will foreigners?

Narendra Modi came to power by promising fast economic growth to create millions of jobs. So, it’s mysterious that he has spent so much time on foreign visits and receiving foreign dignitaries like Chinese president Xi Jinping. Foreign relations matter, but cannot create millions of jobs – that requires structural reforms that dynamise Indian investment. More >

Sell gas at top prices like coal blocks, spectrum

The Kelkar Committee has produced a road map for a market-determined price for natural gas. Inter-generational equity, it says, requires non-renewable resources like gas to be sold to the highest bidder. A lower price deprives future generations of their full entitlement to national resources. This novel argument strengthens the simple logic of auctioning resources to More >

Modi’s been lucky; now make it sustainable

When a general with excellent credentials was recommended for promotion, Napoleon asked “But is he lucky?“ In politics, as in war, luck counts for a lot. Narendra Modi today is riding a wave of good luck. GDP growth in the April-June quarter hit 5.7%, the highest for two years. BJP spin-masters say “achhe din“ have More >

Stop new Babri movement against churches

When the demolition of the Babri Masjid was threatened in 1991, Parliament en acted a law prohibiting the conversion of any place of worship of one religion into that of another, the only exception being the Babri Masjid itself. Back then, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad sought to demolish 3,000 mosques, claiming these were once temples. More >

Adam Smith vs Manu: Look who’s winning

The most heartwarming book of 2014 is Defying the Odds, by Devesh Kapur, Shyam Babu and Chandrabhan Prasad. It tells the stories of 21 dalits who rose from humble origins to become millionaire tycoons. India has long been a land of oppression. It has just started becoming a land of opportunity too. Sukesh Rajan came More >

Corruption? Protection rackets more than crony

RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has lambasted crony capitalism. Other critics say economic liberalization has enriched only cronies through monopoly profits from political allocations of land, minerals and spectrum. Now big corruption is rampant. But I distinguish between crony capitalism and political protection rackets. The former bestows monopoly profits on cronies. But if after paying up, More >