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The XI that won the Gujarat Test

There was much cheering last week when our cricket Test team demolished New Zealand . Yet the truly great Test and victory was in the Gujarat High Court, which imposed stiff sentences on perpetrators of the Naroda Patiya massacre of 2002. India’s institutions and civil society defeated a state bent on protecting the guilty. This More >

Don’t cancel coal blocks, levy high royalties

Opposition parties want Manmohan Singh’s head for supposed corruption in 57 coal blocks that were allocated, not auctioned. The government is under pressure to cancel the allocations. That would be politically, legally and economically wrong. Politically, it will look like a confession of crookedness. Neither the CAG nor anybody else has produced any evidence of More >

CAG, SC, EC: institutions up in arms

Indian politics today seems driven less by politicians and more by the Supreme Court and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). What does this imply for Indian democracy? The answer is that we are seeing a revolt by India’s institutions against a corrupt, callous state. An implicit political conspiracy ensures that all parties can, with impunity, More >

End discretionary allocations in coal and everything else

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on coal block allocations highlights the mess in the coal sector, but has led to very faulty interpretations of what exactly has gone wrong. The report exposes the pitfalls of ministerial discretion to allocate coal blocks. Market-based procedures like auctions, which would eliminate bribes and increase revenue, More >

Independence Day: Why Partition was a good thing for India

  Today we celebrate the 65th anniversary of India’s independence. Some mourn it as the 65th anniversary of India’s partition, which killed a million people and forced 10 million to flee across borders for safety. Utopians wish Partition had never happened. Supposed realists say Partition was inevitable. I would go a step further and say More >

Drought relief, poll freebies will widen fiscal deficit

When India’s GDP growth declined to 6.5% last year, some shrugged it off as an aberration. But drought and industrial stagnation have led financial analysts like CLSA to slash their growth estimate for 2012-13 to 5.5%. Citibank fears it could fall to 4.9%. Consumer inflation remains high. Don’t blame just the weather and global conditions, More >

Anna’s party would be a great blunder

Dear Anna Hazare, Frustrated by your failure to draw large crowds or sway Parliament, you have decided to convert your India Against Corruption movement into a political party. This is madness. Please abandon the idea. A mass movement can flourish on a single issue like fighting corruption. A single-issue movement can draw support from many More >

Why RBI’s fears about India’s growing current account deficit are misplaced

The Reserve Bank has expressed grave worries about the current account deficit (CAD). This hit a record 4.2% of GDP in 2011-12. In January-March 2012, it was even higher at 4.5% of GDP, in stark contrast to just 1.3% in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. Some analysts are calling for anti-crisis action. Their More >

Drought not a big calamity in India anymore

The monsoon has failed badly this year as it did in 1965. But it’s little more than an inconvenience this year, whereas in 1965 it was a monstrous calamity. The drought-proofing of India is a success story, but one widely misunderstood. India in the 1960s was pathetically dependent on US food aid. Even in the More >

Exit Sharad Pawar, champion of farmers

Nobody believes that agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has resigned because of policy differences. He is miffed at being denied no 2 status in the Cabinet. He may also be preparing for life after UPA 2 – the next general election may give him a chance of becoming PM at the head of a coalition of More >

Indians getting outraged at criticism abroad shows immaturity & inferiority complex

US President Barack Obama says India’s investment climate is unsatisfactory and limits foreign direct investment in too many sectors. Time magazine has run a cover story calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an ‘underachiever’. The outraged reaction of many Indians can only be called juvenile. Such criticisms are so commonplace – most Indian critics have been More >

China beats India again, this time in corruption

Angered by crony capitalism in India and the power of the top 1% in the West, some analysts favour the so-called Beijing Consensus, or China’s model. Sorry, but China has as much cronyism as other countries. A recent study in Financial Times shows that relatives galore of Chinese politicians have become millionaires. The “princelings”, as More >

Don’t expect major reforms from Manmohan as FM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has become finance minister too. His first spell as finance minister (1991-96) was a heady period of economic reform, converting India from an international beggar into a potential superpower. Will his second spell as finance minister produce another courageous set of major reforms? Not a chance. Singh has been pretty powerless More >

Student vouchers preferable to sinking taxpayer money into Aakash tablets

Politicians love to pick and subsidise industrial winners. Crooked politicians simply seek kickbacks for backing ‘winners’. But clever, honest politicians believe they have the brains and vision to outguess the market. Kapil Sibal, the minister in charge of education and information technology, is clever and honest. So, despite repeated failure, he cannot resist the temptation More >

Bad news: world is sliding into a new recession

Many rich countries have struggled for three years to emerge fully from the Great Recession of 2008-09. Alas, the world is slipping into a new recession. No global authority has dared say so, but the writing is on the wall. A classic lead indicator of a global recession is a crash in commodity prices, which More >