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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 >

Multinational oil on troubled Indo-Nepalese waters

North India is reeling under a power shortage. Yet close by is 83,000 MW of hydroelectric potential in Nepal. This is by far Nepal’s biggest natural resource, which lies unexploited while its people are mired in poverty. It has a huge trade deficit with India. The obvious solution is for Nepal to harness its hydel More >

Why Shareholder Value Suddenly Matters

Traditionally, the best business policy in India was to manipulate netas, babus and markets. Manipulating netas and babus yielded contracts, clearances, and financing from banks and financial institutions. Manipulating stock markets raised money at fancy premia from unsuspecting investors. Those days are now over. Even the most expert manipulators today find it difficult, sometimes impossible, More >

Who’s afraid of WTO

The World Trade Organisation is vital for India and the world, but needs to be restrained form wandering into fields other than trade. This lesson emerges form the ministerial meeting of the WTO in Singapore. In three respects, the WTO has proved very different form its predecessor, GATT, WTO has more teeth, faster negotiation speed, More >

India needs the WTO

Mention of the World trade Organisation (WTO) bores most people stiff, as I discovered on returning after reporting on the ministerial meeting of WTO at Singapore. It excites only a few politically minded souls, who view WTO as a forum where rich countries hammer poor ones of the head. In fact, WTO symbolises the new More >

Why Corporate Scams are in the News

Some time ago, finance secretary Montek Singh Ahluwalia was asked by businessmen to do something quickly to revive sagging stock markets, which have fallen to a three-year low. He replied that whenever he opened the newspapers in the morning, he read about yet another corporate scam. In such circumstances, he asked, was it surprising that More >

The Limitations of Cheap Rice

Prime Minister Deve Gowda has promised to give 10 kilos of cereals to every poor family at half the market price. This may cost up to Rs 3,500 crore if fully implemented. This big fiscal burden will be mitigated by reducing the subsidy for the non-poor. Many readers will support the move. After all, is More >

I say, Chaps, I’m not a Common Crook

When politicians like Mr P Sangma and Mr Vayalar Ravi complained that judicial activism was getting excessive, I shrugged it off as the ploy of vested interests. I had a similar reaction when businessmen began to complain about raids on corporates. But now I find many middle-class folk saying the authorities have been too harsh More >

Owners versus Professional Managers

Many people wail about the ITC scandal.Who would have thought that such top class professional managers would behave like the most crooked Iwnias? If professionals behave like this how can they claim to be superior to owners who siphon crores out of their companies?’ This is a good occasion to review the old debate on More >