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Needed: An exit policy for bad businessmen

Vijay Mallya has not paid employees of Kingfisher Airlines for months, and has defaulted on thousands of crores due to suppliers and creditors. Yet he has just donated three kilos of gold, worth almost one crore, to the Tirupathi temple. In August, he offered 80-kilo gold plated doors to the Kukke Subramanya temple in Karnataka. More >

Staggered rise in diesel price will squeeze inflation

The government is considering raising the price of diesel by Rs 1 per litre per month for 10 months. This will slash the fiscal deficit without creating the big outcry of a one-shot rise of Rs 10. However, many politicians fear that a higher diesel price will have a cascading effect on the prices of More >

Films sanctify pestering and stalking of women

The ghastly assault and rape of a female paramedic in Delhi has produced an avalanche of protest and comment on why we treat women so badly. But a major cause, the film industry, has hardly been mentioned. It has fostered thoroughly retrograde male attitudes that are at least partly responsible. Some feminists focus on the More >

Three major hurdles in Modi’s march to 7, RCR, Delhi

Let me stick out my neck and say Narendra Modi will not lead the next BJP election campaign. Almost all other analysts, whether pro- or anti-Modi, think he is inexorably headed for New Delhi as the new battering ram of the BJP. Modi’s own post-election speech showed clearly that he aimed to become the next More >

Narendra Modi – a powerhouse in Gujarat but a flop show outside

The Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections have proved that Narendra Modi is a powerhouse in Gujarat, but a flop show outside it. That should dent his prime ministerial ambitions, and improve the prospects of others. If indeed the next BJP prime ministerial candidate is to be a three-time chief minister, there are other candidates too. More >

Why job losses are good for us

In the debate over multi-brand foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, opponents repeatedly highlighted potentially large job losses and closures for small retailers (kirana shops). Astonishingly, even the left asserted that the interests of the aam bania were more important than those of the aam aadmi. Proponents of FDI cited studies by NCAER and others More >

Modi as PM will be at the mercy of allies

As the Gujarat election campaign reaches its apogee, many observers predict a massive victory for Narendra Modi of the BJP, bigger even than the one he won in 2007. This can propel him to become the party’s candidate for Prime Minister in the next general election. The Congress Party is in poor shape, dogged by More >

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

The paralysed, risk-averse UPA-2 government has suddenly become a risk-taking reformer. Last week it risked defeat in both Houses of Parliament on foreign direct investment in retail. Its victory showed that fortune favours the brave. For its first three and a half years in office, UPA-2 focused on survival, not performance. Its hairline majority in More >

Gold imports provide aam aadmi with capital convertibility

Gold imports in 2011-12 were almost 2% of GDP and 9% of all imports. Economists blame gold for bloating the current account deficit to dangerous levels. Puritans moan about the import of unproductive, speculative gold. Some want stiff measures to curb lending against gold, thus reducing gold’s attractions. Much of this tirade against gold is More >

Real and imaginary problems of electronic cash transfers

The Congress Party is about to launch what it hopes is an election winner — an electronic cash transfer scheme (CTS) to send government payments and subsidies directly into the accounts of beneficiaries, instead of through existing channels bedeviled by corruption and waste. Starting January 1, the government will transfer 29 sorts of benefits (like More >

Declassify report on the 1948 Hyderabad massacre

The Gujarat election will revive charges that Narendra Modi killed a thousand Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots, with the BJP accusing Rajiv Gandhi of killing 3000 Sikhs in the 1984 Delhi riots. To get a sense of perspective, i did some research on communal riots in past decades. I was astounded to find that More >

A sandy solution for Nitish’s revenue coffers

Chief minister Nitish Kumar keeps demanding that New Delhi should make Bihar a special category state. But New Delhi points out that special category status-which entitles a state to get 90% of central assistance as grants instead of loans-is meant to overcome the problems of hilly states with remote, difficult terrain that makes transport and More >

Lesson from US: money does not buy elections

Spending vast sums on elections is not an Indian speciality. The US just spent $7 billion in the latest election cycle, up from $5 billion in 2008, equally divided between the presidential and Congressional elections. Yet the outcome suggests that massive election spending is wasted money. Cynics disagree. They say while Romney got corporate billions, More >

Adapting to climate change is less costly than spending trillions on emission targets

Most educated people say climate change threatens disaster. The few sceptics are denounced as climate deniers. All governments are firm believers. This consensus was underlined last week when Cyclone Nilam hit India and Hurricane Sandy hit the US. Greens, journalists and politicians declared this was proof of climate change. However, words are cheap, actions speak for themselves. Since global warming will raise sea More >

Backward states surge even as India slows down

The UPA government’s theme song for eight years has been that we have achieved record GDP growth but not been inclusive enough-poor people and backward states have not benefited enough. The very opposite is now evident. Backward states are advancing fast, poverty is declining precipitously, and fast growth has disappeared! After exceeding 8% for a More >