December 13, 2015

Across the Aisle: Sputter, stop. Then, suddenly, start

Pakistan is there. It is on India’s western border (and until 1971 was also on the eastern border). It cannot be wished away; nor can India pretend it will go away. On the very day the two countries became independent, they inherited a clutch of problems that was the inevitable result of Partition. I know of no example in history […]
December 6, 2015

Across the aisle: How to lose a friend and alienate people

How did the ‘high’ of India-Nepal relations collapse to a point when all observers are agreed that they seem to have reached the nadir?… The Congress and the Communist parties that have an international outlook have a special responsibility to initiate a debate on India-Nepal relations. A message must go that India is a good neighbour and a reliable friend […]
November 29, 2015

Across the Aisle: What is economic reform, what is not

Post-Bihar, there is talk of returning to the development agenda. I would be the happiest person if the energies of the Government and Parliament can be channelised into implementing a solid agenda of development. Development has many models. There is a capitalist view of the market economy that lays emphasis on growth, especially growth of GDP. Growth will indeed add to […]
November 22, 2015

Across the aisle: There is a mountain to climb

Parliament has been summoned to meet on November 26, 2015. The state of the economy requires more than a summons to the Members of Parliament. Contrary to what the Government’s ministers may say in public — and more in line with what some ministers, many officials and practically all businesspersons and bankers say in private — the economy is in poor […]
November 15, 2015

Across the aisle: The ethos of India wins the election

Every student of political science will try to make sense of the outcome of the election in Bihar. It is easy to make nonsense of the result, as the BJP’s Parliamentary Board did, blaming it on the “arithmetic”. What arithmetic? They added the vote shares of the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress in the Parliament election of 2014 — […]
November 8, 2015

Across the aisle: Win or lose, Mr Modi will be on test in Bihar polls

When you read this column on the morning of 8th November, the air will be thick with suspense. Who will win the elections in Bihar is the question uppermost on everyone’s mind. There are two principal formations: the NDA led by Mr Narendra Modi and the Grand Alliance led by Mr Nitish Kumar. I think one of the formations will […]
November 1, 2015

Across the aisle: The NJAC conundrum

Imagine that we are citizens of a nation that has just won independence and tasked to write a new Constitution. Imagine we are now drafting the chapter relating to the judiciary. The main questions that will arise are (1) How will we secure the independence of the judiciary? (2) Who would qualify to be judges? (3) How will the judges […]
October 25, 2015

Across the Aisle: Paradise lost, will it be regained?

There cannot be a better moment for our closest neighbour Sri Lanka where all the planets seem to be smiling in the right houses. Before 1947, the phrase “neighbouring country” stood for Sri Lanka and, some distance away, Burma. Pakistan and Bangladesh are latter-day neighbours. We had little contact with Bhutan until Jawaharlal Nehru made his famous visit riding on […]
July 26, 2015

Across The Aisle: Sushma Swaraj, RTI and a Parliament question

I did not expect to write about the Lalit Modi-Sushma Swaraj controversy again this week. But it is the issue that has dominated media space, public discourse and Parliament for a whole week.  Irrespective of the wishes of the Prime Minister and the Government, it will not go away. A news channel broke the story on June 14, 2015. Three […]
July 19, 2015

Across the Aisle: Speech is silver, silence golden

Today we have a PM who will “see no evil and hear no evil” when it concerns the ministers in his council of ministers or the BJP’s chief ministers or ministers or his friends and fellow swayamsevaks. And because he will see no evil or hear no evil, he will not speak on any of them. Mr Modi’s new armour […]
July 13, 2015

A Greek tragedy every which way

Greece is not a rogue state. It does not harbour terrorist groups. It has no territorial ambitions. Greece is a lovely country that boasts of one of the oldest civilisations of the world and is proud of its contributions to mathematics, philosophy and statecraft. Greece’s connection with India began with a young warrior-king, Alexander. When the reigning king visited India […]
July 5, 2015

Across the Aisle: ‘Export or perish’. Have we chosen ‘perish’?

Since April 2015, the situation seems to have turned for the worse. We have the numbers for the whole of 2014-15 and up to May 2015. A trend is discernible and it is worrying There is a silent crisis brewing on the economic front and the political class seems unconcerned about it. For the first time in recent years, the […]
June 28, 2015

Across the Aisle: Magna Carta does not assure liberty

Who is the majority? Is it the majority of persons belonging to a caste or a religion? Is it the majority of a neighbourhood or a State or the whole country? The greatest threat to liberty is majoritarianism King John ruled England from 1199 to 1216. He was, by most accounts, an incompetent king. He betrayed almost everyone he could […]
June 21, 2015

Across the Aisle: Many a slip between the cup and the lip

Every finance minister (including this writer) is allowed one budget to make mistakes and learn on the job! Mr Arun Jaitley got his chance in the budget for 2014-15. Counting the mis-hits is a fun sport. The trick is not to lose one’s cool (especially the finance minister’s) when the mis(takes)-hits are pointed out and counted! Making a budget is […]
June 14, 2015

Across the Aisle – History in the making: the GST Bill

Stake holders, down to the common citizen, must be educated on GST. Nothing will be lost if a new date is fixed, allowing sufficient time for everyone to get fully ready. We are on the cusp of the most important structural transformation of the indirect tax system. Let us not flunk the test We are witnesses to history in the […]
June 7, 2015

Across the Aisle — Read Governor Rajan: Time to worry

Government is in denial about rural and farmers’ distress. When the Government thinks and speaks of farmers it is about what a great law it has made to take away the land of the farmers! Mr Nitin Gadkari is reported to have said “land acquisition is a blessing in disguise for farmers” On 26 May 2015, our mind space was […]
May 31, 2015

Across the aisle: Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Mr Prime Minister, I am an average citizen. I belong to an average family, had an average education, live in an average town, hold an average job, and have average ambitions. I am aware that because I am the son of a school teacher, hold a bachelor’s degree (second class) and have a job, I may actually be above […]
May 24, 2015

Across the aisle: How long can hot air keep balloon afloat?

In the elections held in 2014, the Congress lost and Mr Narendra Modi won, and I say that advisedly. No one remembers the promises made in the BJP’s manifesto or what the party’s then tall leaders said. No one remembers what Mr Rajnath Singh, as president of the BJP, said or did or promised — the only memorable episode in […]