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, […]
April 17, 2016

Across the aisle: Embracing Kashmir, alienating Kashmiris

‘Who am I?’ is a question that no one has been able to answer satisfactorily. Just as an individual seeks answers to the question of his or her identity, a people sharing many characteristics — land, language, religion, culture, history, suffering — also seek an answer to the questions who are they and where do they belong. Many people find […]
April 10, 2016

Across the aisle: A factual report from the ground

Data is pouring in from diverse sources and one thing is clear: investments are not taking off any time soon. New investment proposals that stood at Rs 22,00,000 crore in 2008-09 declined to Rs 10,64,000 crore in 2014-15 and further to Rs 8,00,000 crore in 2015-16. Why is this so despite the government’s efforts to motivate entrepreneurs to invest? Let […]
April 3, 2016

Across the aisle: Basking in an illusory sunshine

The Revenue Secretary is reported to have sent a missive to the Central Board of Direct Taxes asking the Board to explain why direct taxes collection had fallen short of the revised estimates. That the Revenue Secretary did not wait for the provisional accounts for the year is revealing. I think he gave vent to his frustration. Why is direct […]
March 27, 2016

BJP’s attempt to define a nationalist as one who will say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ is a gross distortion of history

Slogans and elections are inseparable companions. When the Lok Sabha election of 2014 was imminent, the BJP named Mr Narendra Modi as its candidate for Prime Minister, and the candidate almost immediately began to popularise the slogans that would eventually define the election: Achhe din aanewale hain; Kaala dhan wapasi; sabka saath, sabka vikas, and many others. Along with other […]
February 14, 2016

Across the aisle: Crouching tiger vs hidden dragon

How quickly an idea or a word or a phrase can spread across a country! In a matter of weeks, the phrase “net neutrality” went from a term used by a small group of tech industry insiders and academics to a phrase of common usage. The phrase means that the Internet will treat all content it carries equally, indifferent to […]
February 7, 2016

Across the aisle- MGNREGA: Making a meal of words

Parliament is the highest legislative body. The Prime Minister is the Chief Executive of the country. A statement made by the Prime Minister in Parliament must have a certain sanctity and solemnity. On February 27, 2015, while replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Prime Minister Modi said: “Sometimes, we are told that we […]
January 31, 2016

China and India: In same choppy waters

India became independent in 1947; the Communist Party of China (CPC) proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949. However, the two countries are not siblings separated by two years. India’s multi-party democracy is constantly compared with the one-party system of China. When China grew at a blistering pace, as it did for nearly three decades, India’s growth rates, pre-liberalisation […]
January 24, 2016

Across the aisle: ‘My birth is my fatal accident’

‘Reservation’ for the socially and educationally backward classes in schools and colleges brought Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula to the University of Hyderabad where he won a place in the general category as a PhD scholar in Life Sciences. ‘Preservation’ of the old social and economic order brought him death. It is a miracle of our times that a Dalit, son of […]
January 17, 2016

Across the Aisle: To talk or not to talk

Barely three weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit to Lahore and agreed with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the two countries will carry forward the agreement on Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue reached between the two countries. It was hailed as a brave move. Brave or not, it was an unusual, though impulsive, move and helped create an […]
January 10, 2016

Across the aisle- Oil windfall: Gone with the wind

Several statements in the Mid-Year Economic Analysis are intriguing. For example, paragraph 1.4 says, “It is true that the decline in nominal GDP growth relative to the budget assumption will pose a challenge for meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP ” and quantifies the hit at 0.2 per cent. Nevertheless, paragraph 1.5 asserts, “As in […]
January 8, 2016

Across the Aisle: Price of procrastination

I write this with a profound sense of grief, contrition and disappointment bordering on despair. Since the subject I have chosen for this special column is the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air force base, I resolved that I should weigh every word and phrase with extra caution before I commited them to paper and ultimately to print. First, let me […]
January 3, 2016

Across the aisle: New Year resolutions for the NDA government

I don’t like making New Year resolutions, but I am happy to make resolutions for others in the sure belief that they will be broken before the week is over. There is no fun in making resolutions for the poor, the meek or the peacemakers. It is better to make resolutions for the high and mighty, and watch the fun […]
December 27, 2015

Across the Aisle: Confessions of a stricken conscience

The truth is out, finally. I began this weekly column in January 2015 with a piece on the state of the Union. I have been saved the trouble of making a year-end assessment. That job has been performed admirably by the Economic Division of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. Thank god, we have always […]
December 20, 2015

Across the Aisle: Searching for a method in the madness

It is said ‘there is a method in the madness’. The Bihar elections had a lesson for everybody. The BJP learned that there was no one-size Modi cap that will fit all the states. The Congress learned that it could not be the lead player — or a lone player — in all situations. The JD(U) and the RJD learned […]