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The IMF’s Big Blunder

The international financial system has cracked apart like a smashed eggshell, and all the imp’s horses and all the IMF’s men cannot put it together again. That is why President Clinton of the US and Prime Minister Blair of Britain have called for an overhaul of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The Asian More >

Is Capitalism Dying?

The old left is smiling. It is gleeful about the economic disaster in East and South-East Asia; about the collapse of Russia; about the strong possibility of Latin America becoming the next domino. Even the USA, whose booming economy once looked insulated from the typhoon hitting global markets, is now feeling the blast: its stock More >

Re-establish the Russian state

Russia today proves the point that economic reform cannot take place in the absence of governance. When governance collapses, no mount of foreign money can save a failed state like Russia. Quick-fixes like those attempted by the IMF will fail or work only temporarily. The fundamental problem is not economic policy but governance, which is More >

A Post-Washington Consensus

For years, leftists have criticised the Washington Consensus, seen as the joint manifesto of the World Bank, IMF and USA. The Consensus, according to the left, says “Liberalise everything, create a minimal state, be tough in fiscal and monetary matters.” Many in Washington will protest at this caricature of rather complex ideas. And in practice More >

Rebelling against Quotas

Indian politics is about quotas. We have demands for a quota for Parliamentary seats for women, a sub-quota for backward caste women, job reservations for backward Muslims and Dalit Christians. Now, granting reverse discrimination is a form of social progress, a recognition of the need to correct historical wrongs. But real progress is better indicated More >

Convert Disadvantages Into Advantages

I was recently in Nepal, and met many of its promising young economic journalists. None of them was gung-ho about the country’s future. Most felt that Nepal had deep structural problems that were difficult to overcome. They cited three main problems. First, Nepal is a hilly country, making transport and agriculture very difficult. Second, it More >

The State, by Other Means

The conventional wisdom in development economics now holds that economic success occurs only where the state does an excellent job in non-market areas like education, health and rural development. Bangladesh has come up with an original alternative. It has a corrupt, inefficient state capable of delivering basic services. But its non-government organisations (NGOs) have become More >

Should India have a Tobin Tax?

A tax on forex transactions may prove a godsend to the finance minister, should the sanctions force him to have a supplementary budget, say Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar The Asian currency crisis has revived interest in the Tobin tax, a small tax on all foreign currency transactions proposed by Nobel Laureate James Tobin in the More >

Hindu Rate of Inflation again

Finance ministers, industrialists, bankers all pay lip service to price stability. Yet they all gain so much from inflation that they have institutionalised it. In the 1950s, inflation was negligible. But since the mid-1960s it has averaged 8 to 9 per cent per year, a rate so ingrained in every nook and crevice of the More >

From Saffron to Yellow

After its nuclear tests, a triumphant Bharatiya Janata Party proclaims that saffron means toughness, courage, unwillingness to be eked around by mighty foreigners. It means standing up for your principles regardless of the cost of sanctions. We demand recognition as nuclear power, we demand ore respect from the rest of the world, says the BJP. More >

End of nuclear celebration

Sorry folks, but Pakistan has spoiled our nuclear celebration. You thought our bomb made us a great power on par with the USA? No, we remain on par with Pakistan. You thought we had become high-tech geniuses? Sorry, we are not far ahead of Pakistan. You thought we could now incinerate Pakistan? Well, it can More >

Saffron Storm Rising

People are still debating the merits of India’s nuclear tests, but that matters little now that the deed is done. What has been tested can be detested, but not detested. The relevant question is, where do we go from here? On the economic side, the government has sought to combat economic sanctions through measures to More >

Explosion of Nuclear Myths

India’s five nuclear blasts have led to a proliferation of hype and myths. Fantastic gains, say some. Terrible costs, say others. Don’t believe either. Myth No 1: The nuclear tests make India a full member of the nuclear club. Not so. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognises only five countries as nuclear-weapon states, and refuses to More >

Stand up to the Musclemen

The thugs are taking over in the name of religion. For decades I have told foreign friends that MF Husain epitomises India’s essential secularism. Here is a Muslim painter who has delved deep into Hindu mythology and folklore analysed these as some of the main themes running through his work.This has made Husain not just More >

Don’t Censor Caste Data

Should the census in 2001 ask people to specify their caste? Yes, say the Census Commissioner and Home Minister. Definitely not, say others indignantly. I am agnostic on this issue. I see some technical reasons to question the inclusion of caste in the census, but no moral or political ones. I am amused at the More >