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N-deal effect: India needs a strong Iran to combat ISIS, al-Qaida

Indians are happy with the lifting of UN sanctions on Iran after its nuclear deal with the US. This will mean more Iranian oil production and hence cheaper crude. It will mean more trade and investment with Iran. The Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline may become a reality. Yet an emphasis on economic benefits is mistaken. The More >

After gay rights, is polygamy the next revolution?

Historical sexual and social taboos are disappearing in ways considered impossible even a couple of decades ago. Indian and US courts have decreed that transgender persons have the same rights as males and females. In the US, where conservative Christianity is a powerful force, the supreme court has upheld gay marriage as a fundamental right, More >

100,000MW of costly solar power can sink ‘Make in India’

Narendra Modi has raised the target for solar electric capacity from 20,000MW to 100,000MW by 2022 at a cost of maybe $100 billion. This is a serious blunder. It will sabotage his “Make in India” plans by technically disrupting the whole electricity grid, and raising the cost of a critical manufacturing input — electricity. India More >

Why foreign acquisitions need opportunism, not gigantism

Back in 2008, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian co-authored a paper showing that India had overtaken China in outward FDI as a proportion of GDP. Typically, FDI flows from rich to poor countries, and many Indian economists warned in 1991 that Indian industry would be decimated by multinationals if India opened up. Subramanian showed that More >

Government should lease land, not acquire it

The Joint Parliamentary Committee reviewing the proposed land acquisition law has asked for suggestions from the public. I suggest that the law’s thrust must shift from compulsory acquisition to leasing. This will benefit all concerned — farmers, governments and project authorities. I instinctively dislike compulsion in sales. Yet for linear infrastructure projects like roads, railways, More >

‘Make in India’ and ‘Manufacture in India’ are two different things

The Modi government has laid much stress on its “Make in India“ campaign. After all, he won the election by promising jobs galore through rapid indus trial growth. However, industrial jobs are not growing fast anywhere in the world. Modern technology is increasingly mechanizing industries, and manufacturing requires ever fewer workers per unit of output. More >

Little sign of Modi cronyism in stock market trends

Last week’s column cited news reports of The Times of India and Economic Times in which businessmen and bureaucrats agreed almost unanimously that big corruption had fallen dramatically under Narendra Modi. But Rahul Gandhi says that Modi heads a suited-booted government favouring only the rich and a few close cronies. Let’s examine that claim this More >

Modi’s greatest feat: Booting out big corruption

Narendra Modi’s biggest achievement in his first year in office is, arguably, a huge reduction in big corruption (involving top politicians and industrialists). Hard data on corruption doesn’t exist, so assessments can be subjective and incomplete. But for the most fascinating, credible insights into the government-business interface, please read a May 5 report in The More >

Both PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi can learn a few things from the British election results

Many lessons flow from David Cameron’s victory in the British elections for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. First and foremost: it’s the economy, stupid! Economic performance in your last two years matters hugely, even though it’s not the only factor. The last Labour government ended with an economic downslide and so lost the 2010 election. More >

Directionless? Learn from Narasimha Rao

Former BJP minister Arun Shourie has lambasted Narendra Modi as directionless in policy. He says Modi’s haphazard, inconsistent and half-hearted reforms send conflicting signals. A prime minister must not move project by project or slogan by slogan: he must have a clear overarching vision, and move swiftly and unswervingly to fulfill it. Instead, Modi plays More >

Depression is the main cause of farm suicides

The vast majority of suicides are of non farmers. Why are their deaths treated as lesser tragedies than those of farmers? Because presenting farm suicides as a single mass tragedy can win awards for journalists, TRPs for TV anchors, donations for NGOs opposing commercial crops and globalization, slogans for leftists attributing everything to class war, More >

New land bill will win, not lose votes for Modi

Rahul Gandhi wants to escalate the suicide of a farmer at a Delhi AAP rally into a national election issue, painting Modi as pro-industrialist and anti-farmer. Mamata Banerjee leveraged resentment against land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram to unseat the Marxist government in West Bengal. Can Rahul do something similar? Some BJP stalwarts want to dilute the new land acquisition bill to win More >

More achhe intentions than achhe din

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has used the spring meeting of the IMF-World Bank to tom-tom the economic performance of the BJP government. At the Peterson Institute, he said: “In late 2013, India was teetering on the edge of a macro-economic crisis. Inflation was at double digits, the current account deficit at 4% of GDP, growth More >

Delhi’s air is being polluted by three perverse subsidies

Delhi’s air pollution is terrible. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned diesel vehicles more than 10 years old, having already banned petrol vehicles over 15 years old. But IIT Professor Dinesh Mohan has revealed that old vehicles constitute a tiny, almost irrelevant fraction of Delhi traffic. Delhi has fewer cars per thousand persons than More >

Harness Hindu religious fervour to cleanse Ganga

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently reiterated his call for an “uncompromising mission-mode approach” to cleanse the polluted Ganga. This is the wrong way forward. We do not need the battering-ram approach of yet another government mission, but new institutions with long-term stamina. The right way forward must include the empowerment of religious groups to help cleanse More >