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Higher yields & farmer preferences show, BT cotton detractors spreading patent falsehoods

Last week, Greenpeace’s chief in India, Samit Aich, wrote a column in ET on genetically-modified crops. In this, he repeated an old green falsehood, that Bt cotton has failed to raise cotton yields in India. For the truth, consult the government’s Economic Survey 2011-12 (see accompanying graphic). India’s cotton yield was 225 kg per hectare in 1990-91. It More >

From Libya to Algeria, a bloody trail

Barack Obama’s triumphal second inauguration as US President has been tarnished by Al Qaida’s attack on an Algerian gas plant that killed 38 foreigners. US analysts may ignore the connection, but the Libyan chickens have come home to roost. A major Obama achievement is supposedly Gaddafi’s overthrow in Libya. Yet a line of direct causality More >

How an anti-GM activist learned the science of high-yield crops and became a campaigner for GM

Mark Lynas, a green activist who once ranted against and destroyed fields of genetically modified (GM) crops, has recanted and apologised for “demonising an important technological option.” Other activists like Greenpeace and Vandana Shiva need to do the same. (See www.marklynas. org/2013/01/lecture-tooxford-farminig-conference-3-january-2013). Lynas says when he first heard of Monsanto’s GM soya, he thought a nasty US corporation was putting out a monster More >

De-politicize railways, create independent corporation

Railway fares have finally been raised for the first time in 10 years. Even so, the change may reduce just Rs 6,600 crore of the loss of Rs 25,000 crore on passenger traffic. Why do governments subsidise rail fares so much and for so long? Of all subsidies, rail subsidies look the least justified. They More >

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 >