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Attempts to clear stalled projects will soon result in higher growth

The Indian economy presents a puzzle today. On the one hand, it exhibits many symptoms of overheating. On the other hand, many businesses complain of a complete lack of heat. GDP projections reflect the second phenomenon, not the first. But I suspect data revisions will ultimately show GDP to be somewhat better than suggested by More >

Our tax system should go the ASEAN way

To meet a budget crunch, taxes on income, capital gains and dividends have gone up in the US, and may rise further. This has fed speculation that the Indian budget will follow suit. There is also speculation that Chidambaram will introduce an inheritance tax, as in the US. Some Indian analysts think that soaking the More >

New economic activism has strong political roots

Six months ago, the government was seen as a hopeless, paralysed ditherer, frightened of annoying anybody (especially Mamata Banerjee). But since Chidambaram became Finance Minister, the government has started looking like an activist reformer that means business. Risking defeat in Parliament, FDI in multibrand retail has been pushed through. Rail fares have been increased, diesel More >

Tax illiteracy is no solution for budget deficits

Dear Mr Chidambaram, You have been globetrotting to convince the world you are dead serious about budgetary prudence, limiting your fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent of GDP in 2012-13. You have also promised an investment-friendly climate to attract foreign investment. Alas, your first objective is, unwittingly, sabotaging the second. Your tax officials are so More >

From kirana store budgets to open budgets

Once, budget proposals were top secret. The Finance Minister wouldn’t breathe a word on budget-related matters for months before the event. But no more. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is touring the world, hitting global headlines on what the budget will contain. He initiated this open approach with domestic audiences and has now gone global. He More >

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 >