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Strange rise of Eastern neo-colonialism

For 60 years, the International Monetary Fund has bailed out distressed economies, imposing onerous conditions aimed at ensuring that the loans are repaid. The borrowers have often complained that loan conditions violate their sovereignty. The IMF is dominated by rich countries, and always has a European chief. So, leftists have long accused the IMF of More >

Democracy depends on the unelected

What is the best way of reducing poverty? The UPA government has highlighted its rural employment guarantee scheme (NERGA). It has allotted huge sums to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all) and irrigation. It has increased spending on rural electrification and health. And it ordains subsidies worth tens of thousands of crores for fertilisers, electricity More >

Attack polluting policies, not the Nano

RK Pachauri, head of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, is getting nightmares because of the Nano, Tata’s Rs 1 lakh car. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says that it isn’t the Nano by itself but cars overall that give her nightmares. The villains in my nightmares are neither the More >

My murders are better than yours

Some analysts want to explain away Narendra Modi’s victory in Gujarat by saying Gujaratis are a special breed different from the rest of us Indians: that they have been especially communal since the Muslim destructions of the Somnath Temple; that they have shown unforgivable amnesia in not penalising Modi for the mass killings of Muslims More >

Red tape rising in ‘Land of the Free’

When talking to youngsters, I find some want India to become more like the US, and some less so. However, both groups are under the illusion that the US is a bastion of free enterprise. Alas, the supposed Land of the Free is actually the land of rising red tape. The Wall Street Journal last year More >

Why Tata should be more like Mittal

Ratan Tata says he is a nice guy who does not believe in hostile takeovers. But this has consequences. It means that a takeover target can spit in your face and say that mere association with you will be demeaning, leaving you looking like an oppressed Harijan. This is the situation Tata faces after being More >

Why Modi will win in Gujarat

The Gujarat state election has probably been handed over to Narendra Modi’s BJP on a platter. The row kicked up by other parties and the media — with Sonia Gandhi calling the BJP “merchants of death” — is working entirely to Modi’s advantage. The violation of human rights, which worries those outside Gujarat, worries Gujarati More >

Postpone 123 deal by 12 months

Dear Dr Manmohan Singh, Your reputation as a good man is being overtaken by your reputation for lack of spine. You received much applause in the media when you appeared to stand firm in the face of Marxist threats to bring down the government if it proceeded with the nuclear deal with the US. Hence, More >

Mystery of India’s economic growth unravelled

For more than two decades, from 1980 to 2003, India’s GDP growth averaged around 6% per year. Reforms in 1990 produced no dramatic acceleration. Then, with no new policy impetus at all, GDP growth suddenly shot up after 2003 to average 8.6% in the next four years. How and why? One has heard four explanations: More >

Ambani needs to learn from Deveshwar

The skills of Reliance Industries in “managing” the investment climate are legendary. Why, then, has it grossly mismanaged the political economy of its retail foray? Traditional agricultural markets have several layers of intermediaries, who prosper at the expense of the farmer and consumer. Eliminating intermediaries and linking the farmer directly to retail means the farmer More >

Cricket for the masses, not classes

Cricket should be for the masses, not the classes. After India’s victory in the first Twenty20 World Cup, this version of cricket looks certain to oust Tests and one-day matches in popularity. A T20 match compresses thrills and spills into just three hours. So, it attracts the biggest possible TV audiences at prime time. Coca More >

Will rate cuts avert a recession?

I am somewhat surprised that the sensex as well as other stock markets the world over have taken off after the US Federal Reserve cut its short-term interest rate by 0.5%, to 5.5%. Other central banks are also expected to either cut interest rates or forbear from increases which had earlier been expected. Most central More >

150-year dream for 150-year old ships

Religion and history do not mix well. I shrug my shoulders at those opposing the Sethusamunda-ram canal because it will damage the remains of the bridge that Ram’s army used in the Ramayana. Now, i too oppose the canal, but on economic and environmental grounds. Its rationale is more political than economic. It will become More >

How the reforms changed Bollywood

Indian films are going though a revolution. Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag , billed as blockbuster of the year, flopped. So did earlier big-budget films such as Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Salaam-e-Ishq . But high-quality small-budget movies have done well. A single big-budget song sequence costs Rs 2 crore, but Bheja Fry was made for More >

Recession is a probability now

Journalists do not have a good reputation for predicting recessions. Indeed, they are reputed to have predicted 10 of the last three recessions. A month ago, I wrote that the US had a 33% chance of going into recession next year. Events of the last month have, in my view, increased the chances to over More >