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I have never ceased to be astonished at the moaning of groaning of Left intellectuals over the boom in consumer durables. India’s consumption of such durables is pathetically small by even Third World standards. Brazil (population 160 million) produces thrice as many cars as India (population 950 million). A single world-size TV plant has a More >

The Right to Listen

Mercifully, we have a new Information and Broadcasting Minister who is intelligent, decent and clean. Mr Jaipal Reddy has done well to clarify that the new Broadcasting Bill before Parliament is only a working draft, and that he will invite widespread debate on its provisions before giving it final shape. The Bill is highly flawed More >

The real Path to Social Justice

The new Prime Minister, Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, says that he will give high priority to social justice. Everbody will applaud politely. But he needs to ask why, despite the sworn intentions of party after party over five decades, social justice proves so elusive. The problem is that all parties want to solve the problem More >

Liberalisation must include the Police

Bihar is an economic black hole, into which all Plan and ‘private investment disappears without producing any worthwhile output. In the 1950s, it was an industrial powerhouse, home of the coal and steel industries. Today it is a stagnant backwater. Why? Because governance has collapsed. There is no law and order or provision of public More >

From Al Capone to Gender Justice

Andhra Pradesh has decided to end prohibition. There has been a cry of protest from a spectrum of people ranging from moralists to feminists. Others say attempts at prohibition the world over have only encouraged organised crime, illicit distillation, deaths from spurious liquor, and widespread defiance of the law. Where does the truth lie? In More >

Create Small-Scale Multinationals

Despite rhetoric about small being beautiful, Indians have always regarded small as weak. We see multinational as strong and small-scale industries as weaklings to be protected. A radically different view in Taiwan has helped take its per capita income to $13,000, 40 times higher than India’s. Taiwan’s prosperity is based but not on giant conglomerates More >

The 11 Commandments of Hong Kong

Of all the miracle economies of East Asia, the most miraculous is Hong Kong. Its per capita income of $23,000 makes it far richer than its colonial master, Britain. It is twice as rich per head as Korea, which often gets more international attention. All this in a country threatened for decades with extinction by More >

The Big Picture

Vision as India’s Biggest Export MR P Chidambaram’s new budget has vision. Most budgets make niggling tax changes to meet the limited challenges of the coming year. But Mr Chidambaram is thinking way beyond next year. He has a vision of India’s place in Asia, and indeed in the world community . He has not More >

Chidambaram emerges from Manmohan’s shadow

For years, Mr P Chidambaram as lurked, with obvious unhappiness, in the shadow of Dr Manmohan Singh. But after his latest budget he has come into his own. He will now be seen as a statesman and visionary in his own right. He will win the Finance-Minister-of-the-Year awards which international groups earlier gave to Dr More >

Chidambaram takes on the world

Taxes, duties cut across the board Despite shortcomings, it is the best budget in decades. Finance minister P Chidambaram has combined global vision with stern expenditure control to perform the ultimate conjuror’s trick. He has slashed income tax, corporate tax, customs duties, provided huge sums for the Pay Commission award and higher Plan and social More >

Lumbering along towards a puff-out

IF THE Railways were a company listed on stock markets, its share price would have tumbled after Mr Ram Vilas Paswan’s performance as its chief executive officer. It is not yet a BIFR case, but is heading in that direction. The Railway budget confirms that infrastructural shortages could strangle India’s economic growth in coming years. More >

The poor labour under wages of prosperity

EVEN as the GDP growth soared above 7 per cent in 1994-95 and 1995-96, the real wages of unskilled agricultural labour declined, albeit marginally. This suggests, reading between the lines of the Economic Survey, that the poor were left out of this record rise in prosperity. Real wages (adjusted for rural inflation) of unskilled rural More >

How Deng guided India’s reforms

There is an old saying about inventions, that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your doorstep. A mousetrap is a device to catch mice. And Deng Xiaoping has replaced the Pied Piper of Hamelin as the most famous mouse-catcher in history. Mao’s communism was revolutionary, but Deng’s capitalism More >

Indians now bring dollars back to India

The absence of a crisis is usually a non-event. But I think the absence of a foreign exchange crisis this year (1996-97) is big news. When India went bust in 1991, it borrowed from every possible source-IMF, World Bank, and non-resident Indians (for whom it floated $ 1.6 billion of India Development Bonds). Critics of More >

An Indian Singapore In Africa

Last week, Prime Minister Deve Gowda returned from Davos via Mauritius, a bunch of tiny islands off the shore of Africa. A pleasure trip, you might think, to a tourist center run mainly by migrants from India. In fact Mr. Deve Gowda, and for that matter all Indians, need to learn some basic lessons in More >