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Jugaad is our most precious resource

People ask me, what exactly is jugaad? Global management experts attribute India’s rapid economic growth to jugaad. In a recent survey by the Legatum Institute, 81% of Indian businessmen said jugaad was the key reason for their success. Many years ago, innovative Punjabis mounted a diesel irrigation pump on a steel frame with wheels, creating More >

Success despite govt, courtesy jugaad

No less than 93% of Chinese businessmen say the main reason for their spectacular success is network connections (guangxi), especially with government officials. Indian businessmen, however, have succeeded despite the government: 81% say the main reason for their success is jugaad, the ability to find innovative way round prohibitive rules and institutions. This is the More >

Expensive solar power can mean another Enron

What’s desirable is often not practical. The National Solar Mission has set a target of 20,000 MW of solar electricity by 2020. This may be desirable, but at today’s solar technology costs, it will be economic suicide. Remember that just 700 MW of high-priced power from Enron in 2001 was enough to bankrupt the Maharashtra More >

Microfinance — the banks of the future?

The Reserve Bank of India is preparing a discussion paper on new banks. Meanwhile, SKS Microfinance, India’s largest microfinance institution (MFI), has just raised a whopping Rs 1,600 crore through a public offering. SKS and other MFIs could evolve into banks. Bangladesh’s microfinance pioneer, Grameen Bank, is a regular bank. The RBI severely restricts bank More >

Disasters sow seeds of success

Great disasters occur constantly. The Asian financial crisis blasted the miracle economies of Asia. The Great Recession of 2007-09 led to the bankruptcy/rescue of the five top investment banks on Wall Street, the biggest bank (Citibank), the biggest insurance company (AIG), the biggest auto manufacturer (General Motors) and the biggest mortgage underwriters (Fannie Mae and More >

CSR can cloak irresponsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has long been a hot topic globally. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lectured companies on it. Some corporations have won acclaim and awards for CSR. Two of them were BP, the oil giant, and Goldman Sachs, the big investment bank. But BP has just created the greatest environmental disaster in history More >

Why grain traders will love Sonia

Sonia Gandhi has approved the National Food Security Act. This aims to deliver 35 kg of grain per month at Rs 3 per kg to every family in the 200 poorest districts, extend this as feasible to other districts, and provide 25 kg per month to families that aren’t poor. This is supposed to help More >

Climategate: Beyond inquiry panels

Two British committees, one Dutch committee and a US Senate committee have investigated Climategate — the disclosure from emails that scientists at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University sought to withhold data from and sabotage research publications of other scientists questioning the conventional wisdom on global warming. The first three committees gave More >

RIL should bid to take over BP

The share price of British Petroleum, the fourth largest company in the world, has halved after causing the greatest environmental disaster in history. Its out-of-control Macondo well is spewing thousands of barrels of oil daily into the Gulf of Mexico, killing birds and sea life and ruining tourist beaches and the livelihoods of fishermen. It More >

Europe could still suffer a meltdown

For those who think the Great Recession is over, I have disturbing news. I asked a top Wall Street manager last week what the chances were of a full-blooded European financial crisis. He replied, “100 per cent.” In February, the Greek fiscal crisis sent Indian markets crashing. This was the beginning of a European crisis More >

Ill-informed debate on oil decontrol

The government has finally hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene and LPG, though by less than recommended by the Kirit Parikh Committee. It has decontrolled petrol , and hopes to decontrol diesel in due course. But its timidity suggests that price controls will return if global oil prices shoot up again. Financial TV channels had More >

Hills show way forward for tribals

So you think that Indian tribals are utterly downtrodden, oppressed and bypassed by national economic development? You think activists are right to view Maoist insurgency as a tribal blessing and the only way forward for such an oppressed group? Think again. No less than 17.1% of tribals own colour TVs, 46.6% have bicycles, 20% have More >

Selling family silver to fund profligacy

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is smiling. He had hoped to get Rs 35,000 crore from auctions of spectrum to telecom companies for 3G and broadband wireless access. In fact, the auctions fetched a whopping Rs 106,000 crore. Thanks to this bonanza, government sources claim that the fiscal deficit will now be only 4.5% of GDP, More >

Inflation as a solution for Europe

Earlier this year, IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard suggested that countries should raise their inflation targets from a typical 2% per year to 4%. His suggestion was greeted with hoots of derision. Yet in a world where there are no good solutions to the European debt crisis, inflation could be the best of bad alternatives. More >

Mumbai’s rail toll tops Bhopal

An outpouring of anger and passion has greeted the conviction of seven former Union Carbide officials for negligence in the Bhopal gas disaster. This caused the immediate death of 3,787 people, and the ultimate death of 15,000 to 20,000 people whose lungs were corroded by the gas. If this anger and passion results in greater More >