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It’s social spend boom, stupid

Economists have, for over a month, had an internet debate on growth and social spending. It started with the Financial Times citing Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen as saying it would be “stupid” to focus on double-digit GDP growth without spending more on social sectors. The newspaper also cited Jagdish Bhagwati, a potential Nobel Laureate, as More >

Budget 2011: Rising prices & black money under the spotlight this year

Most budgets are dominated by tax rates and high finance. But Budget 2011 will be dominated by inflation and corruption, the current two political hot potatoes. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will have to announce tax and administrative changes to curb prices and black money. At the same time, he will try to enthuse investors by More >

Electoral irrelevance of Cabinet reshuffles

The Cabinet reshuffle last week led to profuse but mostly vacuous analysis on TV. Many analysts claimed the reshuffle aimed to influence the 2014 parliamentary elections. Some opined that the coming state election in Uttar Pradesh was a major consideration: three ministers from that state had been given Cabinet rank. Many others expressed dismay that More >

MFIs must go beyond lending

Foxconn , the world’s biggest manufacturer of electronic components, runs an entire city of 4,50,000 workers in China, Foxconn city. This summer, 14 workers committed suicide. The media blamed this on low wages and bad working conditions. One Chinese professor wrote that Foxconn’s working conditions were actually high by Chinese standards. Another said 14 suicides More >

India’s global image is driven by private initiative

What’s India’s position in the world as we enter a new decade? In 1990, India was seen as a bottomless pit for foreign aid, holding world records in starvation and poverty. India tried to project itself as a Third World leader, but at international conferences other developing countries saw India mainly as an expert drafter More >

Free the police of political control

Corruption booms when perverse incentives reward rather than penalize it. We need institutional changes to end those perverse incentives. I hope 2010 will go down as the year when an angry electorate finally obliged politicians to stop treating politics as a lucrative, tax-free profession. Scams like illegal mining, the Adarsh cooperative society, Commonwealth Games and More >

Fast growth slashes poverty, wins elections

Many say that fast GDP growth has benefited only a few rich businessmen. That’s simply false. The latest data and research show that record GDP growth has benefited the masses and the poorest states. Poverty has fallen sharply and the poorest states have increased growth amazingly. That’s one reason so many incumbent governments in poor More >

The rupee is not too strong

I rarely cross swords with Shankar Acharya, former chief economic adviser and one of the savviest observers of the Indian scene. But I must do so on the exchange rate. Contrary to what he and some other analysts claim, the rupee is not over-strong and is not hurting exports and manfacturing. Exports rose 26.7% in More >

Lennon a Marxist or capitalist?

Having gone to college in the 1960s, I belong to the Beatles generation.Last week, we mourned John Lennon on his 30th death anniversary. How the Beatles lit up our lives in the 1960s! Lennon’s “Imagine” has been voted the greatest song of the 20th century. Both liberal globalizers and Marxists claim Lennon as one of More >

How to prevent licensing scams

Governments should govern. When misgovernance is exposed, as in the 2G spectrum scam, remedial action should follow. Yet we are seeing theatre parading as principle. A rowdy opposition has paralyzed the current Lok Sabha session. Opposition parties insist that they will let the Lok Sabha function only if a joint parliamentary committee is appointed to More >

Learn from Kiwis how and why to grieve

When I was checking in for a flight in New Zealand last week, the whole airport stopped work and observed a two-minute silence in remembrance of 29 coal miners who had just lost their lives. The tragedy had dominated television for weeks. Sorrow and shared pain were etched on faces round the airport, including those More >

Nitish’s Bihar has a million mutinies now

Journalists covering Bihar’s long assembly election campaign are almost unanimous that Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) will be re-elected. Let me add my voice to the chorus. Nitish very much looks a winner and the opposition—led by the once-formidable Lalu Prasad —looks in bad shape. Lalu can justly claim that, after decades of upper caste oppression, he More >

Obama has given India a ticket to Mars

Euphoria over President Obama`s support has led some Indians to believe that India will soon become a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Others say Obama has offered a ticket to the UNSC contingent on India paying a ticket fee: it must support the US position on Iran and Myanmar. Wrong, and wrong More >

India a ‘natural’ partner for US, but so are Pakistan & China

India and the US are natural partners, but not natural allies. That is the lesson that flows from the ups and downs of President Obama’s visit, which started on a disappointing note in Mumbai with his refusal to name Pakistan as a perpetrator of 26/11, but ended on a high note when he backed India More >

Why India has fared better than Africa

INDIA, which has lagged well behind Africa in economic reform, has nevertheless fared much better. Most Indian reforms occurred well before the spurt in GDP growth from 6% to 9%. British academic James Manor says that thoughtful people in Ghana and South Africa have asked him “How do the Indians do it? They have liberalised More >