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Bharat and India joined at the hip

After being thrashed in West Bengal and losing in Kerala, CPM policies have come in for much criticism. Yet it is not just the Left Front that lost. It is also the notion that this country suffers from a grave rich-poor divide, often called the India-Bharat divide, and that politicians must favour Bharat over India. More >

No Politician to head IMF, Please

Given the depth and complexity of the Eurozone crisis , many observers say the next IMF chief should be from Europe. Phooey! During the Asian financial crisis, nobody suggested that the IMF should be headed by an Asian. Indeed, Asians were regarded as singularly unsuitable because of the need to impose politically unpalatable conditions on More >

Social democracy, not communism

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union and its red empire, one minor principality of that empire, West Bengal, has also fallen. A post-election analysis by Brinda Karat shows how blind the CPM is to why first the Soviet Union and now West Bengal have fallen. British imperialists claimed More >

As public anger increases, corruption falls

The electoral debacle of the DMK-Congress in Tamil Nadu highlights public disgust with corruption , and underpins the Anna Hazare anti-graft crusade. But is corruption really worsening, or is the public simply angrier about it? Most survey data suggest, surprisingly , that corruption has been declining . Crooked politicians look enormously richer than ever before. More >

Don’t worry about inequality

If people are totally free, the most talented (and lucky) will get far richer than the dullest and unluckiest. So, freedom will create inequality. Communist countries aimed for equality of outcome through totalitarian controls, but this was hypocrisy: there was no equality of power between those laying down the rules and those forced to obey. More >

Osama’s death may end bloom of Arab Spring

I did not celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death. Killing an individual is easier than killing an idea. Osama’s idea of jihad survives his death. He was the mastermind of 9/11 and the most iconic jihadi figure. Yet he had long ceased to direct jihadi movements and had run foul of some by killing Muslims opposed More >

Why the poor want to stay very poor on paper

Poverty has declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 32% in 2009-10, according to preliminary Planning Commission estimates based on consumption surveys of the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO). Some welcome the news; others complain that fast growth has not reduced poverty fast enough. Still others, notably economist Surjit Bhalla, pour scorn on the data, and More >

Lokpal not enough, we need radical reform

I wondered in this column some years ago why top businessmen were frequently prosecuted and convicted in the US but not in India. Answer: crooked politicians had mangled the police-judicial system such that it could never convict them beyond all appeals, and obviously such a moribund system could not convict crooked businessmen either. Solution: only More >

Poor states reap big demographic dividend

Poor states reap big demographic dividend Many have celebrated the census revelation that Indias population increased only 17.64% in the last decade, down from 21.54% the previous decade. Yet, the best news relates to kids aged 0-6.Their numbers have actually fallen 3.08%. Fewer children translate into a demographic dividend that will send per capita income More >

Literacy improves fastest in poorest states

The census has good news on literacy. This explodes leftist claims that economic reforms have benefited only elites while bypassing the poor, and that social improvements have slowed, not accelerated, after 1991. Literacy is a not an elite benefit. It benefits those at the social bottom, giving them dignity, status and income potential. The census More >

Famous Populist, Secret Liberaliser

There is no contradiction between accelerating economic growth, being fiscally prudent and showering welfarist handouts to woo voters. An excellent example is documented in The Economic Freedom of the States of India 2011, brought out last month by the Friedrich Naumann Institute and Cato Institute. It shows that under Y S Rajashekhara Reddy (or YSR), More >

Fast breeder reactors are the least safe

Nuclear safety has become a top priority after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Safety at all Indian plants is being reviewed, and coastal reactors may be built on higher ground for tsunami protection. Critics have objected to unproven French reactors for the Jaitapur nuclear power complex. Yet critics and agitators are ignoring the biggest More >

Forget WikiLeaks, codify House privileges

WikiLeaks continues to amuse rather than enlighten us. The latest leaks took us back to the cash-for-votes scandal of 2008, when the Congress and allies desperately sought the support of small parties to survive a confidence vote after the Indo-US nuclear deal. At that time, BJP MPs displayed huge stacks of currency allegedly offered by More >

Freedom means faster growth

How do we measure economic freedom, and how relevant is it for economic growth? Some answers come from Economic Freedom of the States of India 2011, a report just brought out by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Cato Institute and Indicus Analytics. The report shows that measuring economic freedom at the state level is a difficult More >

Cash transfers are a good idea but hasten slowly

The finance minister’s Budget speech proposed a radical change in subsidies: instead of trying (and failing) to provide subsidized goods to the needy, the government would provide cash transfers. This would cut leakages in subsidies, which former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi estimated at 85% of outlays. By June, a task force headed by Nandan Nilekani More >