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Will Chamling become the Deve Gowda of 2014?

Most opinion polls predict a seriously hung Lok Sabha in 2014. A Third Front government, supported by either the BJP or Congress Party, looks very possible. This will be reminiscent of the Third Front government of 1996-98, a motley collection of small and regional parties headed by Deve Gowda. Will something similar happen again next More >

States need to reform fast to speed up projects, growth

With GDP growth having halved from over 9% in 2010-11 to just 4.5% today, many observers are demanding more reforms from New Delhi. Finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram replies that a new wave of reforms is indeed being implemented. The central Cabinet has cleared more than Rs 3 lakh crore worth of projects. Yet, industrial growth More >

A nation that has forgotten about competing

Back in 1991, India was the world’s greatest aid recipient, a patently uncompetitive giant begging for alms. Economic reforms from 1991 onwards gradually made India highly competitive, enabled it to touch 9% GDP growth, and to be called a potential superpower. Those days are gone. GDP growth has halved to 4.5%. India has become uncompetitive More >

New global trade pacts may cut out India, China

A new global trading system is being erected, almost unnoticed in India. One of its unstated aims is to check China’s rise through economic discrimination. But it could end up discriminating against India too. Two major new international trade pacts are under negotiation. One is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), creating a free trade area More >

Poverty falls fast for dalits and Muslims

During the period of fast economic growth in the 2000s, how did poor minorities fare? Some heartening answers have been provided in a Columbia University paper by Panagariya and More (Poverty by Social Religious and Economic groups in India and its Largest States, 1993-94 to 2011-12). Poverty has declined much faster for dalits and tribals More >

CBI needs skill, not just speed

For years I have demanded faster, stronger action against crooked politicians and businessmen. But I stand abashed after the CBI fiasco on the allotment of a coal block to the Birlas. The aim was to nab crooks. Instead the CBI fingered a retired bureaucrat of reputed integrity (Parakh), a businessman of high repute (Kumar Birla), More >

Industrial growth likely to be much higher than estimates, suggests IIP data

India’s industrial production and GDP have been plunging for three years. But one person believes that major revisions are going to make the data look much better. Pronab Sen, former chief statistician, thinks that the current GDP growth estimate of 5% for 2012-13 may be way short of reality, and revisions could take it above More >

Nobel Prize winners say markets are irrational, yet efficient

Are stock markets irrational, driven by greed and fear, subject to euphoria and panic? Or are they highly efficient indicators of intrinsic value? Both, says the Nobel Prize Comittee for Economics, with no sense of contradiction. It has just awarded the prize jointly to economists with opposing views. Robert Shiller is famous for two versions More >

Obama shows why India must not seek a presidential system

Narendra Modi’s rise owes much to his image as a decisive, efficient go-getter. A recent magazine poll showed 86% of new voters wanting an “authoritative and decisive” prime minister. They hate the corrupt bumbling and drift of the UPA government. For the same reason, many Indians favour a presidential system of government, to ensure decisive More >

End of US individualism: Rise in social spending will make US similar to welfarist Europe and Japan

Newspapers carry alarmist headlines about the partial shutdown of the US government because of a budget impasse over Obamacare. Yet, the markets have moved only slightly. Veteran traders yawn with amusement: they know the US has had such shutdowns before, and none lasted long or inflicted significant damage. Yet, this is not just one more More >

Time to get cracking on fracking

After years of consideration, the government has come out with a disappointing shale gas policy. The public sector companies, ONGC and Oil India, will be allowed to drill for shale oil and gas in blocks they already have, but fresh auctions will be conducted for all other shale deposits. Private sector companies will not be More >

Pakistan shows why military ultimately fails to govern

Indians don’t realise how exceptional they are in never even thinking about the army when discussing politics. In many developing nations, the army casts a long shadow on politics even when it does not rule directly. Pakistan is a classic example. Fakir S Aijazuddin has written a slim volume From a Minister’s Personal Journal about More >

Clearing projects is not the Cabinet’s job

The rupee has bounced back, the stock market has soared, and finance minister Chidambaram is smiling again. This will not last, because there’s no clear strategy to remedy the economy’s structural weaknesses. One big structural problem is the creation of ever more laws, rules and regulations. Every new rule has admirable aims like inclusivity, environmental More >

Reforms: clear the clutter

Economic reforms should be clear and simple, not cluttered with endless terms and conditions. This has long been forgotten by the UPA government, which tries desperately to ensure that any change satisfies several vote banks simultaneously, supposedly to ensure inclusion. This approach clutters even the most desirable changes (like the land acquisition bill) with loads More >

Bills won’t win polls

The Congress party is feeling good after passing its two new bills on food security and land acquisition in Parliament. It believes it has occupied the moral high ground, and left the BJP making vague, unconvincing objections. The Congress hopes these bills will prove vote winners in the general election next May. These are delusions More >