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Nuclear power gives energy security

How important is nuclear power going to be in India’s future? Nobody knows for sure, since the future is full of uncertainties. But the nuclear option is a must for providing energy security. Manmohan Singh thinks nuclear energy will be absolutely vital for India’s energy future, and he might be right. His critics say nuclear More >

The advantages of irrelevance

Having won over the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Manmohan Singh government can push ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal, and hope to complete its full five-year term. If the government survives the trust vote, Congressmen will be delighted, since they are terrified of an early election, given that inflation is running at 12%. Their delight More >

India should turn ‘oil speculator’

Politicians in India and abroad have lambasted traders who buy oil contracts for future delivery as speculators that have driven oil to $145/barrel. In fact, India itself should start buying oil futures and options. This will be a sensible risk management, not villainous speculation. Futures are contracts for oil delivery at a specified price on More >

Indian lessons & non-lessons for China

India today presents a sorry picture of messed-up opportunities and policies. The government may fall because of Marxist resistance to the Indo-US nuclear deal. The government is too timid to pass on the high price of oil and fertilisers to consumers, so the true fiscal deficit has suddenly doubled. Infrastructure is a mess. Inflation has More >

Excess speculation or excess money?

From ancient times, Indian rulers have always blamed inflation on the perfidious bania. That is happening globally today. Politicians everywhere are blaming speculators for high inflation. Actually, inflation occurs when too much money chases too few goods. Today, no great shortfall in goods is evident. World oil production is rising, though slowly. Mineral and metal More >

Oil will fall below $100 a barrel

Predicting oil prices is a mug’s game. Yet I will stick my neck out and forecast that oil will fall from today’s $135/barrel to under $100/barrel by the end of 2008. Usually, when prices go up, demand falls. But world demand for oil has kept rising for five years even though the price of oil More >

Path to nowhere leads to success

I was a gung-ho liberaliser when economic reforms began in 1991. At the time, a sceptical politician asked me which sectors would benefit most. I replied it was not possible to predict the winners. In that case, he sneered, why embark on a path with no destination. The answer is clear today, now that India More >

Bharat Drowning or Bharat Rising?

India has a world-class elite sitting on top of hundreds of millions with low skills and literacy. This accounts for the title of a new study on India’s educational tragedy — ‘India Shining and Bharat Drowning’ — by Jishnu Das of the World Bank and Tristan Zajonc of Harvard University. What does this imply for More >

We’re really subsidising Opec

Crude oil costs $135/barrel globally, but Indian prices of petroleum products have long been linked to barely $60/barrel. This has meant under-recoveries — explicit and implicit subsidies to consumers — of a whopping Rs 2,45,000 crore. So, the government has reluctantly increased the price of petrol by Rs 5/litre, diesel by Rs 3/litre and cooking More >

Will the Left topple the government?

If I were Prakash Karat, I would topple the Congress-led UPA government in the monsoon session of Parliament starting in July. Why? Because the Congress faces a terrible election climate right now, which might improve by May 2009, when the next general election is due. That’s an excellent reason for Karat to force an early More >

Knee-deep in the 12 deadly sins

The report of the Commission on Growth and Economic Development, headed by Nobel Laureate Michael Spence, gleans lessons from 13 countries that averaged 7% economic growth for more than 25 years. India crossed 7% only recently, but most people assume it will keep growing fast for 25 years. After reading the Spence Commission report, i More >

Oil subsidies are bogus socialism

Oil hit a record $135/barrel last week, up from $51/barrel in January 2007. Taking a longer four-year perspective, the price of the crude is up 230%, but Indian petrol is up only 35%, diesel 46%, and kerosene not at all! Why not? Because government diktat obliges oil marketing companies to provide massive implicit subsidies to More >

Roti, kapda, makaan and TVs

Surging food prices and the Karnataka election once again raise the question, how needy and distressed are Indians? Karnataka has been at the very forefront of India’s record GDP growth of almost 9% per year. But critics claim that rapid growth has bypassed the wretched poor. Karnataka can be cited as a case in point More >

Ban on food exports from India fueled world prices

Indians are outraged by President Bush’s claim that rising food consumption in India and China have sent world food prices skyrocketing. When incomes rise, people eat more meat, so more grain is fed to animals. Seven tonnes of grain produce only one tonne of beef. The conversion ratio is 4 to 1 for pork, 2 More >

Let others starve, self-righteously

Indians are outraged by President Bush’s claim that rising food consumption in India and China have sent world food prices skyrocketing. When incomes rise, people eat more meat, so more grain is fed to animals. Seven tonnes of grain produce only one tonne of beef. The conversion ratio is 4 to 1 for pork, 2 More >