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 […]
October 4, 2015

Across the aisle | Cut in repo rate: Now, do the heavy lifting

As they say, it is “done and dusted”. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) finally met the expectations of the Government, business and a number of economists and cut the repo rate by 50 basis points. The Governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan, was hailed as a hero. He would have been hailed as a hero even if the RBI had cut […]
September 27, 2015

Across the aisle | Encryption Policy: Act first, think later

The zeal with which the policy was announced was matched only by the speed with which it was withdrawn. It lasted all of Monday morning to Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, a scapegoat was found — a poor low-level scientist — and everyone else washed his or her hands of the draft National Encryption Policy. It was indeed a draft, but it […]
September 20, 2015

Across the aisle: Refugees, immigrants and humanity

As long as humankind has existed, misery has been its companion. Poverty, disease, civilian strife, persecution and wars have brought untold misery to humankind. There is no greater misery than having to flee one’s home and hearth and seek refuge in another country whose people may speak a different language or practise a different religion or follow a different culture. […]
September 13, 2015

Across the aisle: The OROP whodunit

The other mystery story running on our screens is One Rank One Pension (OROP). Actually, there is no mystery. All the facts are recorded and documented. However, in the race to claim credit (and disown criticism), the OROP issue is being presented as a big controversy shrouded in mystery. Get facts right Let’s get the facts right. The Indian Armed […]
September 6, 2015

Across the Aisle: The rise and rise of intolerance

Among the many myths about Indian society is an ancient one — that we are, and have always been, a tolerant society. It is an old yarn to cover the prejudices, discrimination, oppression and violence that have, unfortunately, marked our history. The intolerance is most pronounced when it comes to matters concerning identity — not religious identity alone, but every kind […]
August 30, 2015

Across the Aisle: At last, will we have an economic agenda?

In August, the rupee has depreciated by about 3.3 per cent against the US dollar. Such volatility and decline in asset prices are stressful. The Government will scramble to do something, and even if it succeeds, success will come at a cost. Contrary to popular belief or desire, in a global economy, the Government is no longer the lead player, […]
August 23, 2015

Across the Aisle: Will someone please read the tea leaves

The Government seems to think that negative inflation in the wholesale price index is a sign of economic good health. It is not. It could mean that demand is sluggish. Besides, it depresses prices for the producers, especially the farmers, leading to distress in the agriculture sector. The Prime Minister is entitled to choose the place and subject of his […]
August 16, 2015

Across the Aisle: PM Narendra Modi has promises to keep

June 2015 marked the seventh straight month of decline in exports, year-on-year. During the seven-month period exports have shrunk by 14.11 per cent. The Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation has warned that exports may decline significantly even in volume terms which will lead to lay-offs and retrenchments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from the ramparts of the Red […]
August 9, 2015

Across the Aisle: An open letter in reply to the Finance Minister

Your letter pointedly refers to the dissent note submitted by three members of the Congress and rebukes them. In fairness, you should have also referred to the dissent notes of AIADMK and CPI-M members. From your letter, it appears that you do not intend to engage them in further discussion. Nothing can be more fatal to the Bill than a […]
August 2, 2015

Across the Aisle – Monetary policy committee: vote or veto?

So much has happened that is cause for grief, concern or plain disgust. The universally admired Dr A P J Abdul Kalam passed away. There was a terror attack in Gurdaspur. Amidst a debate on the legality and morality of the death penalty, Yakub Memon was hanged. Cases of molestation or rape continue to be reported every day. Government is […]