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Big trade deficit with China? Excellent!

China is India’s largest trade partner. But India runs a large trade deficit of $29 billion with China. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, at their recent meeting that this “needs to be addressed.” But as an economist he surely knows it is wrong to aim for balanced trade with More >

Legalize betting, make cricket cleaner and whiter

The cricket spot fixing scam in the India Premier League (IPL) has become a media sensation. Bollywood actors, cricketing stars, bookies, highly connected gamblers, underworld dons and even a Pakistani umpire have added masala to an already spicy scandal. Outraged analysts are demanding a crackdown on all betting, the jailing of not just the fixers More >

Amartya Sen wrong in his claim that delay in Food Bill killing a thousand every week

Amartya Sen, as befits a Nobel laureate, has often produced careful calculations to throw light on dark situations, such as the number of deaths caused by Mao’s Great Leap Forward in China. So, it was astonishing to hear him say on a recent TV programme that the delay in passing the Food Security Bill was More >

Evolving out of inefficient corruption

Why did economic growth collapse from 9.3% in 2010-11 to just five per cent last year? Because, says Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan, India’s institutions have been unable to cope with the consequences of fast growth. Land acquisition, forest clearance and environmental clearance were manageable when the economy was smaller and growth was slower. But More >

Fast growth will save lives not the Food Security Bill

Amartya Sen wants to estimate the number of deaths caused by the delay in passing the Food Security Bill. He thinks this may shame Opposition politicians into ceasing disruption of proceedings in the Lok Sabha. “To capture people’s attention, you have to have a number,” he says. Fine, but let’s hope Sen will also estimate More >

Govt, India Inc must take advantage of ultra-cheap Western and Japanese money

India’s current account deficit was a record 6.7% of GDP in the last quarter of 2012. The deficit was plugged mainly by foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment and NRI bank deposits. But a significant, rising contribution also came from foreign borrowing, by corporations and the government. Total foreign debt is now estimated at almost More >

India needs a statutory, independent Police Commission

The Supreme Court says the government has “shaken the entire process” by asking the Central Bureau of Investigation to interfere in the coal scam. The court says “our first exercise will be to liberate the CBI from political interference”. Many of us will cheer the prospect. But the CBI chief has said, correctly, that the More >

Growth improves wages more than MNREGA

Agricultural wages have been galloping upwards for six years, rising much faster than prices. So, the living standards of rural labourers, the poorest of the poor, have improved at a record pace (6.8% real growth per year since 2007-08 ). What’s behind this excellent trend? Many politicians and leftist analysts think it is the rural More >

Land acquisition Bill will work for industry, farmers if leases are preferred over acquisitions

Many fear that the proposed land acquisition Bill will greatly harm economic progress through skyrocketing land prices, rewarding speculators while eroding India’s global competitiveness. Fortunately, the government has now accepted an opposition suggestion to make long land leases an alternative to outright acquisition. This is a huge improvement, and must become the preferred route. The More >

Manna from heaven, or a new recession?

The price of gold, oil and many other commodities crashed last week. The stock markets zoomed and economists smiled, suddenly seeing positive consequences in three areas — inflation, the trade deficit and the fiscal deficit. These three factors had earlier dragged down the economy to its lowest growth rate for a decade, just 4.7 per More >

Gold: The party’s over

The Indian price of gold has risen sixfold in the last decade, fuelling a record speculative import spree. Soaring gold imports have hit $42 billion in the first ten months of 2012-13 , pushing the current account deficit to near-disaster levels. The finance minister is wringing his hands in distress, while housewives say that buying More >

West should learn from India’s high patent standards

The Supreme Court’s denial of a patent for Glivec, an anti-leukaemia drug made by Novartis of Switzerland, has been widely but wrongly hailed by NGOs and castigated by pharmaceutical companies as an attack on patents and a victory for cheap medicine. Actually, the Court fully upheld the principle of patents, but set a high bar More >

Can growth tame Maoists?

Different states have different strategies to combat Maoism, which still produces violence in 80 of India’s 620 districts. Chhattisgarh has used quasi-military force and created an anti-Maoist militia, SalwaJudum, which is widely criticised for violating human rights. Andhra Pradesh has deployed a specialised anti-Maoist force, the Greyhounds, combined with development programmes in areas earlier abandoned More >

Slums are hubs of hope, progress and dignity

The Census Commissioner has released a new report showing that 64 million people, representing one in six urban residents, live in slums with unsanitary conditions “unfit for human habilitation.” This has caused much moaning and groaning. But conditions are far worse in most villages. Romantic pastoralists may fantasise about happy green villages as opposed to More >

Bihar: Champion athlete does not need steroids

At a massive Delhi rally, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar boasted of the state’s major achievements after he assumed power, and proclaimed a Bihar model of development for others to follow. If we view development as a sort of Olympics, Bihar would win several gold medals. It’s a champion athlete. Yet Kumar insists that Bihar More >