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Why Sukh Ram Is So Popular

This is an election in which the fate of many political giants is uncertain. But when I toured Himachal Pradesh last week, I discovered that one person is regarded by all and sundry as unbeatable—Mr Sukh Ram, the union telecom minister. Ever since Mr Sukh Ram made the future of Himachal Futuristic, he has been More >

The Rules of Chandraswaminomics

Spiritualism is supposed to be on a higher plane than material wealth. Yet there is no shortage of people visiting temples, dargahs or churches to pray for favours form God. The prayers are often buttressed by donations or ritual sacrifices. The belief that the gods can be purchased in this fashion is so widespread as More >

Social Impact of Reform and Non-Reform

What has been the social impact of the economic reforms? What have they done for education, health, employment, poverty alleviation? Many observers look at the data before and after 1991 and make comparisons, some of which are favourable to the government and some not. But surely this entire methodology is wrong. Reforms are not a More >

Towards a foreign investment policy

Does India really have a foreign investment policy? This, I believe is the question we need to ask, rather than worry whether the outburst against multinationals from Mr Tarun Das, director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, is a protectionist demand. I moderated a TV discussion on the subject last week between a former CII More >

Fish Mongers, Unite!

WE, who sell fish to the public, must protest against the slur cast on us by Justice S N Dhingra during his remarks on TADA detainee Kalpnath Rai. He compared the functioning of Parliament to a fish market. This is surely an injustice to us fishmongers. He said, “In the past, most of the time More >

The special Economics of Cricket

Cricket was at one time an upper class sport of the British. Today it looks the most egalitarian of games. Three of the last four World Cups in cricket have been won by low-income countries-India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The domination of a game by poor countries is almost unprecedented. How do we explain it? More >

Debt Can Be A Virtue

The annual publication of the World Debt Tables has, for many years, been an occasion for moaning and groaning that India is the third largest debtor in the developing world, after Brazil and Mexico. But the latest edition of World Debt Tables shows that by the end of 1994, China’s foreign debt had overtaken India’s. More >

Why Public Charity Can Fail

In the coming election campaign, politicians will promise a thousand new subsidies. Will these really alleviate poverty? In a recent seminar, Mr Deepak Lal argued that there are three sorts of poverty. One is destitution, caused by disease and other disabilities. A second is conjunctural poverty, caused by a drought or industrial recession, which disappears More >

Swadeshi plus religion equals Buchanan

The shock victory of Mr Patrick Buchanan in Republican primaries in the USA shows two things. First, Mr Buchanan is a caricature of the BJP-his campaign, like that of the BJP, rests on the twin pillars of swadeshi and religion. Second, his castigation of the World Trade Organisation, multinationals and foreign trade shows how important More >

The economics of elections

It is impossible to fight elections without lots of black money. Every politician needs access to black money, either directly or through his party. Maybe this leads to corruption, but it is politically necessary a democracy’. This sums up the attitude of virtually all politicians. Even fundamentally moral ones, who do not accept bribes themselves, More >

Imposing discipline on a super power

When the World Trade Organisation was formed as a successor to GATT, many Indian critics claimed it would be a neo-colonial instrument of domination. They said cross-conditionalities would be used by rich countries to bring cases against and impose trade sanctions on low-income countries like India. Defenders of the WTO argued the contrary — they More >

Liberalisation improves Public Morality

Many critics say economic liberalisation has led to an increase in kickbacks. Haven’t there been scandals relating to power and telecom after liberalisation? Dosen’t this shows that corruption has worsened? In fact, kickbacks have disappeared in deli censed areas. They continue, alas, in areas with only half-baked liberalisation. Telecom and power are still areas marked More >

The Case for Unbundling Infrastructure

Industrial and export growth are booming, but looming infrastructure shortages mean the boom cannot be sustained. Power shortages are widespread, overloaded ports cannot cope with demand, the railways are unable to carry desperately-needed goods, roads are overcrowded and slow, airports are clogged, telephones work badly. Without a boom in infrastructure, we cannot sustain a boom More >

Special Prosecutor needed for Hawala Case

A liberal society is based on rules applicable to all, not on the whims and discretion of rulers. Payoffs in return for favours are ant-liberal. Liberalisation is not simply about delicensing an activity or two. It is about empowering citizens by empowering citizens by replacing government diktat by competition within a set of fair rules. More >

Can Radios replace Teachers?

Businessmen and NGOs sometimes ask me what they can do to improve the deplorable state of education in India. I believe that primary education must and can be done only by the state. But industrialists d NGOs (who get plentiful foreign funding today) can play an important supplementary role. Many businessmen have set up schools, More >