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Falling commodity prices are good, unless they signal global recession

The stock markets have soared this year, with blue chips up 30% and some midcaps up 100% or more. Many analysts believe that, even without radical reform, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administrative dynamism will help raise GDP growth from last year’s 4.7% to 5.5% this year, 6.5% next year, and 7% later. Some stock market More >

PM Modi’s US Visit: Rock show in New York over, it’s time to roll action in India

Narendra Modi’s Madison Square Garden address to overseas Indians was more a rockstar concert than a prime minister’s lecture. He had delirious fans cheering, clapping, and chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi!” He plucked their heartstrings, praising them lavishly for raising India’s global image, and promised that India would become a stunning success that would make them More >

Denationalize coal, produce gas along with it

Denationalize coal. Auction all future coal blocks. Allow all winners to produce associated gas (methane) as well as coal. These should be the key features of a new coal policy, following the Supreme Court’s striking down of 214 coal block allocations since 1993. Many analysts call this a verdict against corruption. Actually, the court has More >

PM Modi’s US Visit: India has to look like a superpower to get US investors interested again

WASHINGTON DC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit is a damage repair job, not a triumphal clinching of a strategic relationship. Indo-US relations resemble a broken-down car covered with dust. Modi must do more than wipe off the dust. He must convert India into an economic powerhouse that is globally relevant again, and has strategic More >

If Indians aren’t investing here, will foreigners?

Narendra Modi came to power by promising fast economic growth to create millions of jobs. So, it’s mysterious that he has spent so much time on foreign visits and receiving foreign dignitaries like Chinese president Xi Jinping. Foreign relations matter, but cannot create millions of jobs – that requires structural reforms that dynamise Indian investment. More >

A Kelkar Committee model could be the best option for oil and gas pricing

Media analyses of the Kelkar Committee on reducing import dependency in oil and gas have focused on the committee’s suggestions on gas pricing. But it has also proposed new models for exploration and production contracts to reduce disputes and corruption, while improving bidders’ interest in new exploration blocks. For decades, India has signed production-sharing contracts More >

Sell gas at top prices like coal blocks, spectrum

The Kelkar Committee has produced a road map for a market-determined price for natural gas. Inter-generational equity, it says, requires non-renewable resources like gas to be sold to the highest bidder. A lower price deprives future generations of their full entitlement to national resources. This novel argument strengthens the simple logic of auctioning resources to More >

Modi’s been lucky; now make it sustainable

When a general with excellent credentials was recommended for promotion, Napoleon asked “But is he lucky?“ In politics, as in war, luck counts for a lot. Narendra Modi today is riding a wave of good luck. GDP growth in the April-June quarter hit 5.7%, the highest for two years. BJP spin-masters say “achhe din“ have More >

Jan Dhan Yojana has all the characteristics of those bad old loan melas

Is Narendra Modi’s new Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana — providing two bank accounts each to 75 million poor families, an overdraft of Rs 5,000, accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh and a life cover of Rs 30,000 — a breakthrough in financial inclusion? Or is it a Rs 75,000-crore loan mela, as suggested More >

Stop new Babri movement against churches

When the demolition of the Babri Masjid was threatened in 1991, Parliament en acted a law prohibiting the conversion of any place of worship of one religion into that of another, the only exception being the Babri Masjid itself. Back then, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad sought to demolish 3,000 mosques, claiming these were once temples. More >

Adam Smith vs Manu: Look who’s winning

The most heartwarming book of 2014 is Defying the Odds, by Devesh Kapur, Shyam Babu and Chandrabhan Prasad. It tells the stories of 21 dalits who rose from humble origins to become millionaire tycoons. India has long been a land of oppression. It has just started becoming a land of opportunity too. Sukesh Rajan came More >

Corruption? Protection rackets more than crony

RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has lambasted crony capitalism. Other critics say economic liberalization has enriched only cronies through monopoly profits from political allocations of land, minerals and spectrum. Now big corruption is rampant. But I distinguish between crony capitalism and political protection rackets. The former bestows monopoly profits on cronies. But if after paying up, More >

Will Modi grab the idea of Kashi dwip?

During the general election, I was among journalists that visited Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s constituency. In the evening we went down to the famous Dashashwamedha Ghat, winding our way through crowded bazaars full of beggars, sadhus, religious offerings and mementos. Most photos you see of Varanasi are of the Dashashwamedha Ghat and its neighbouring one. These More >

Scrap subsidies that burn funds

In Gujarat, Narendra Modi has pioneered the Jyotigram project which provides 24×7 domestic electricity to all rural households. He wants to spread this to the whole country, and some states (like Madhya Pradesh) have already implemented the idea. However, neither Modi nor any chief minister is asking a simple follow-up question. For decades, kerosene has More >

To clean up the economic mess, Modi must prioritise three things: execution, execution, execution

Even if a Budget lacks any wow factor, as in Arun Jaitley’s maiden effort, this hardly matters provided the government acts on the other 364 days of the year. The media are full of speculation of significant reforms on many fronts. But everything will depend on execution, no matter how good the ideas. Sonia Gandhi More >