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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 >

Marxism is Communalism too

All opinion polls put the BJP well in front, within reach of power. So, many opportunists are stampeding to climb onto the BJP bandwagon, not just politicians but generals, business and intellectuals (like the highly mobile Prof MGK Menon). I am amused. To me, this proves that what used to be called a national consensus More >

The Perils of Transparency

Many lessons can be drawn from the events of 1997. One of the saddest is that crooks who function in the dark get away scot free, while people attempting to be transparent are jumped on the harassed. I had originally expected that the hawala case would dominate politics in 1997. But it proved a damp More >

Competition begins at Home

India will soon submit its suggestion to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for a competition policy encompassing trade-related matters. Yet India has no competition policy for internal purposes. Why ensure competition where foreigners are concerned, but not for ourselves? Hypocrisy on competition is woven into our policy fabric. Some laws like the Consumer Protection Act More >

Unstable Governments do better

The Inder Gujral regime lasted seven months, the Deve Gowda regime ten months. Some people bemoan unstable coalition governments as a curse. I disagree. The 17 months of the United Front produced lots of quarrels and no great feats, yet yielded significantly more than the last 17 months of Mr Narasimha’s Rao’s term. Consider the More >

The Myth of Bountiful Monsoons

Of the many hoary myths floating around, few are so widely believed as the notion that India has been fabulously lucky to get a string of good monsoons in the 1990s. Critics claim this is a lucky fluke that has made liberalisation look artificially good. In fact, a detailed look at met office data suggest More >

Socialism is Casteism

At a time when casteism is equated with Mandalism or Mayawati’s version of dalit liberation, readers may wonder at the title of this article, and its timing. The answer is that I am writing this on the birth anniversary of India’s greatest socialist, Jawaharlal Nehru. I believe his socialism was a sort of secular Brahminism. More >

The Curse of too-many Sons

The Bombay Club is not flatly protectionist. Most of its businessmen-members agree that India must open up, globalise, and get competitive. But they plead, “We need temporary protection for 10 years more. For 50 years, the license-permit Raj prevented us from becoming big enough to take on multinationals, so give us 10 years more.” There More >

Who’s afraid of free Labour Movement?

Rich countries are hypocrites that demand free movement of goods and capital but do not want free movement of labour, and this inequity must end. So said developing countries at the G-15 meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, after having said the same thing at the Commonwealth summit last week. Similar criticism has been made More >

Indians are not Inferior

Of all the false notions deeply embedded in current debates, none is more entrenched than the idea that Indian companies are incapable of standing up to competition from multinationals. Parle has sold out to Coca-Cola, Kwality ice-cream has been bought by Hindustan Liver, the Doshis have given up control to Fiat. And so both the More >

Don’t Lie for our Country

Demonising your foes achieves little except to cloud your own judgement. Gandhiji recognised this, many in the Indian media do not. When Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the martyr’s memorial at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, they were escorted by trustees of the memorial. The couple saw a signboard at the Bagh saying More >

Can we Sustain 7 Per Cent Growth?

Can India keep it up? For the last three years, it has averaged GDP growth of 7 per cent, not far short of the 8 per cent achieved by East Asian miracle economies. But this year, the economy is decelerating. Jeremiahs say the recent fast growth was a temporary surge that cannot be sustained. I More >

Learn from the whole World

Ten years ago, I asked Dr Inderjit Singh, an economist in the World Bank what he found was the main difference between dealing with China and with India. He replied, “The Chinese are anxious to learn, the Indians think they know everything already.” The late Prof Raj Krishna put it more succintly. “We are knowledge-proof,” More >

US Corporations, our new Foreign Policy Allies

When India started wooing foreign investors in 1991, critics warned that this would lead to the return of the East India Company. Business is never divorced from politics, they said, and letting in American investors will mean letting the US dominate us in foreign policy too. The very opposite has turned out to be true. More >

The misreported Battle of Haldighati

India wins glorious battle over wicked Americans trying to patent haldi (turmeric) and steal our traditional knowledge. David slays Goliath. Third World beats First World. These were the messages implicit in newspaper and TV headlines last week after India contested and got quashed the award of a patent to the Mississippi Medical Centre in 1995 More >