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The Times of India

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 >

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 >