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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 >

Is Geography Destiny?

At the annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics this week, Jeffery Sachs and John Luke Gallup of Harvard presented a paper highlighting the importance of geography in economic outcomes. They looked at data for 150 countries and noted how temperate countries were generally rich and tropical ones generally poor. The most favourable factors, according More >

From ‘bhujiya to Rolls-Royce

Even as BJP-ruled India is adopting swadeshi, Britain is abandoning it. Rolls-Royce, long the ultimate symbol of British manufacturing prowess, has been sold to Germany’s BMW (and Volkswagen is trying to come in with a still higher bid). With this, no British-owned company makes passenger cars any more. Yet Britain is not mourning the end More >

MITI or ‘mitti’?

The BJP wants to strengthen Indian industry without scaring away foreign investors. Its manifesto talks of creating an institution like Japan’s ministry of international trade and industry (MITI), which channelled substantial financial support to select Japanese industries after World War II and helped spark the Japanese economic miracle. The Korean government, too, provided massive financial More >

The right Sort of ‘Swadeshi’

The BJP says it will usher in swadeshi economic policies. What exactly does this mean? It means, says the National Agenda on Governance, that India must be built by Indians. But it could hardly be otherwise: The World Bank and General Motors (GM) will readily agree that India must be built by Indians. So does More >

What does Low Priority mean?

Now that it seems certain Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee will become the Prime Minister, the BJP’s version of swadeshi will attract a lot of attention. Its stalwarts declare that foreign investment will be allowed in microchips but not potato chips. The official BJP manifesto is more long-winded. It says it will welcome foreign direct investment More >

Billion-Dollar Potential of Nursing

OCED countries, by 2020, could generate anything upto 60 million jobs in looking after the disabled alone, says Swaminathan S A Aiyar. In my last column I said the future of business and exports lies more in services than manufacturing. Which services have the greatest scope for exports? A recent report for the Indian Institute More >

Bonanza from Geographical Rights

I wrote last week about how the World Trade Organisation’s rules have helped, Indian basmati rice exports to increase by hundreds of millions of dollars, and gain protection for it from foreign imitation. This protection is based not on the biological composition of basmati but the fact that it comes from a particular geographical region. More >

Geography, not biology

Indian basmati rice has gained hundreds of millions of dollars from intellectual property rights (IPRs) bestowed on it by the much-maligned WTO agreement. This is little known since the eco-jingoists dominating the debate in India have consistently spread disinformation that TRIPS, the WTO section on intellectual property, has only disadvantages for us. In fact TRIPS More >

From Industry to Services

India’s greatest comparative advantage lies not in manufacturing but in services, says Swaminathan S Aiyar India’s future lies in services, much more than industry. Most people in India almost automatically equate business with manufacturing. This is plain wrong. The share of services in GDP has been rising fast, and (if we go by the example More >

Lessons from the Asian currency crisis

I showed in this column last week how simple explanations for the Asian currency crisis (like going too fast or liberalising too much) were wrong, and how the lessons from each country were different. The one factor common to all countries was the financial panic that spilled across national boundaries. We need to build defences More >

The Slowcoach and sour Grapes

What lessons should India draw from the Asian currency crisis? Many layfolk believe the tiger economies made the mistake of going too fast, and India should desist from doing so. Prime Minister Inder Gujral has expressed this view more than once. This is plain wrong. It is simply not true that Asia’s problems-and some of More >

The bomb conquers Ahimsa

The urban educated Indian’s love for the nuclear option is morbid and repudiates the Gandhian heritage, says Swaminathan S Aiyar. In Hiroshima, even the birds seem to fall silent at the A-bomb memorial, built at the site of the nuclear explosion in 1945. A single bombed out building from the holocaust dominates the skyline. The More >

Theft can be good for you

What does Atal Behari Vajpayee have in common with Bill Clinton and Tony Blair? He, like them, is trying to gain power by stealing the electoral planks of his opponents. I welcome the burglary. Such theft is excellent for society. Bill Clinton started as a traditional Democrat seeking to expand welfare through health reforms. He More >