September 4, 2016

Across the Aisle: Lift the veil, hold a debate

Last week, India and the United States quietly signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). The agreement had been under discussion since 2002. NDA I and the UPA government, especially the Ministry of Defence under Mr A K Antony, were not in favour. The Congress party too had reservations. The Left parties stoutly opposed the proposal. The discussions dragged […]
August 28, 2016

Dalits are right: Enough is enough

On July 11, 2016, a video of cow vigilantes mercilessly beating up seven Dalit men for skinning a dead cow in Una district, Gujarat, came to light. In protest against the incident, many Dalits have refused to handle cow carcasses. The gau rakshaks should be happy, but they are not. Non-Dalits, presumably including gau rakshaks, have retaliated with more violence […]
August 21, 2016

Across the Aisle: Gameplan, gambit or gamble?

As I write this, the curfew in the Kashmir valley has entered the 42nd day. The official death toll of protesters and civilians is 65. The number of security personnel killed is two, not counting the brave men who were killed in encounters with infiltrators. The state government is paralysed, the coalition partners are divided, and the chief minister is […]
August 14, 2016

Across the aisle: Awaiting space for policy action

Dr Raghuram Rajan will lay down the office of Governor, Reserve Bank of India, on September 4, 2016. It is a pity that the government has eased him out at the end of three years when he would have willingly served until September 2018 and, if nudged, until the government’s term ended in May 2019. Anyway, let us put those […]
August 7, 2016

Across the aisle: Good sense triumphs, danger lurks

The first round of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill is over. There were no losers. The next round is expected in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning in November 2016. Key issues are still at large, and I wish to begin a debate on them. Contrary to the impression that the Central government may have conveyed to the […]
July 31, 2016

Across the aisle: Silence-new gold standard of governance

India elected an eloquent, some would say voluble, candidate as prime minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks frequently, tweets extensively and writes sparingly. No one is surprised when he seizes the occasion and speaks. It is only when he ignores the occasion and withdraws into silence that questions are raised. Here are a few samples of his silence: VYAPAM: That […]
July 24, 2016

Across the aisle: Defend the land, win over the people

The protests in the Kashmir valley continue for the third week, There is curfew in many parts of the Valley. Fresh incidents occur in the Valley every day. That is why I have decided to stay with the subject and write a follow-up column to my previous column (The Indian Express, July, 17, 2016). During the debate in Parliament last […]
July 17, 2016

Across the aisle: Kashmir is more than land, it is people

I am not surprised that the Kashmir valley is on the boil. The surprise is that it has taken so many months after the demise of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for the people to rise in revolt. We must define ‘Kashmir’. To most people it is another state that is part of the territory of India. It may have acceded to […]
June 26, 2016

Across the aisle- Economic reforms: Act I, Scene I

Twenty five years ago, the mood of the people of India was one of fear and despair. The nation was in the middle of an election. 221 constituencies had voted, the remaining had yet to vote. Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a bomb blast on May 21, 1991, and elections in the remaining constituencies were postponed. When those elections took place […]
June 19, 2016

Across the aisle: Fake encounter with facts, fake controversy

Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed by the Gujarat police in an encounter. Was it a genuine encounter or a fake encounter? I do not know the answer. There are others who claim to know the answer. I am astonished by the certitude of some of my fellow citizens that the encounter was a genuine encounter. None of them […]
June 12, 2016

Across the aisle: Gross domestic product or puzzle?

It was good that Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, RBI, has cleared some of the mist — and myth — surrounding the GDP numbers. He gave two simple examples: * First example: ‘Exports minus imports’ is a contributory factor to GDP. Exports declined in 2015-16, but imports declined even more. So, ‘exports minus imports’ in 2015-16 was greater than ‘exports minus imports’ […]
June 5, 2016

Across the Aisle: Then and now – The model is flawed

‘Swachh Bharat’ or ‘Clean India’ cannot be a slogan or an event. It has to become a habit, nay, a passion. It involves many factors including: *Behaviour *Social structure *Technology *Money *Execution *Administration Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, with the objective of eliminating open defecation by 2017, was apparently designed after taking into account these and other factors. In the early months […]
May 29, 2016

I wish the Prime Minister had said

My fellow citizens, brothers and sisters, I greet you on this day, May 26, 2016, when my government completes two years in office. The usual practice is to make a self-congratulatory speech and repeat old promises or make new promises. I have decided to break from this tradition and present an honest and objective assessment of the state of the […]
May 22, 2016

Across the aisle: It is not yet the turning point

Sometimes, the expected masquerades as the unexpected. Sober reflection had told us many months ago that the governments in Assam and Kerala would be voted out and new governments voted in. That a change would also happen in Puducherry. That in West Bengal, the TMC would be returned to power overcoming the unusual (but understandable) tactical alliance between the Congress […]
May 15, 2016

Across the aisle: Misadventures of the Modi government

Back in the summer of 2014, almost anything was possible for the BJP government. The once-in-a-generation mandate had endowed the government with enormous political capital that could be used to implement any reform, including some long-pending and difficult reforms. Alas, two years after May 2014, the government has become a punchline for jokes. Its hardcore supporters are scrambling desperately to […]
May 8, 2016

Wanted: A Bharatanatyam dancer, please

In a caustic comment on an economist, Dr Jagdish Bhagwati once said, “if he is an economist, I’m a Bharatanatyam dancer!”. Dr Arvind Panagariya is an honourable man. He has a job to do, but has a useless tool — the NITI Aayog — in his hands. The NITI Aayog is neither an all-powerful arbiter of policy differences and fund […]
May 1, 2016

Government should back CJI on idea of a Court of Appeal

The CJI proposed the idea of a Court of Appeal which would be a beginning of the end of an over-burdened and choked Supreme Court and the restoration of a true Constitutional Court. The subject cannot be dealt with in a single column, nevertheless I think I should make a beginning. The break down of the justice-delivery system is happening […]
April 24, 2016

Across the aisle: Let’s admit we are challenged in one eye

This government is a bundle of nerves. It sees ghosts where none exists. It sees enemies even among friendly and neutral commentators. And it has men and women who are ready to shoot to kill even without orders (under a political version of AFSPA — Angry Friends Special Powers Act). What did Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, […]