October 18, 2015

Across the Aisle: A call to the collective conscience

After many years, ‘protest’ has found its voice and a new legitimacy. In the last two weeks, about 25 writers have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards and some have resigned from the Akademi. Most of these writers practise their craft in regional languages. They are quiet private citizens wrestling with the human condition using the written word. Protesting against the […]
October 11, 2015

Across the aisle: What’s at stake in Bihar polls

Novelty of elections is passé.  Elections will take place, the results will be announced, a party or an alliance will win, a government will be formed, and in a few days life will be back to the usual routine. However, I have the feeling that post-Bihar elections, life in Bihar — and India — will not be back to the […]
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The zeal with which the policy was announced was matched only by the speed with which it was withdrawn.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, […]
May 17, 2015

Across the Aisle: It is the ‘Middle’ that makes or breaks

Middle class values, not quite defined, are considered good values. Belonging to the growing and anonymous middle class encourages one to join street protests, engage through the social media, and be critical without being offensive. Throughout the world, it is the middle class that has readily supported green causes, LGBT rights, free speech, and whistleblowers I believe that the people […]
May 10, 2015

Across The Aisle: Government proposes, RBI disposes

If the RBI that Mr Rajan heads is now opposing the reforms (the idea of PDMA and entrusting the regulation of government securities to SEBI), he is obliged to disclose the RBI’s reasons and also explain why he changed his own views. Equally, Mr Jaitley is obliged to explain why he gave in to RBI’s opposition, and what the “further […]
May 3, 2015

Across The Aisle: Even to the causing of death

Some things do not have a place in a civilised country. One of them is The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, hereinafter AFSPA. AFSPA is unique in many respects. I cannot recall any other law made by Parliament which applies only to the Seven Sisters of the North East — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. […]
April 26, 2015

Across the Aisle: Inflation is bad, but is deflation good?

There is satisfaction all around that inflation has declined. The decline in the rate of inflation began in November 2013 (which was the month when both CPI inflation and WPI inflation had peaked). The decline has been secular, and in November 2014, WPI inflation touched zero. The numbers published in March 2015 estimated WPI inflation at (-)2.33 per cent and […]
April 19, 2015

Across the Aisle: The bugle has been sounded

In a column that was published in this newspaper on March 22, 2015 (‘Equity suffers Rs 75,000 crore blow’), I had pointed out that Central assistance to State Plan(s) had been reduced by more than Rs 75,000 crore in the Budget for 2015-16 from the assistance in the revised budget of 2014-15. If one compared the budget estimate for 2014-15 […]
April 12, 2015

Across the Aisle: Land acquisition – Nine steps to nirvana

It is difficult to believe that a government will stake so much — risk of defeat in the Rajya Sabha, political capital, support of allies, the Prime Minister’s time — on a mere land acquisition amendment Bill. It is also difficult to believe that the Government has decided to brave farmers’ anger, street protests and media criticism to get the […]
April 5, 2015

Across the Aisle: Who wants rupee at 40 to the dollar?

Not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Not Ms Sushma Swaraj (who famously tweeted in August 2013, “The rupee has lost its value. The Prime Minister has lost his grace”). At least not any more, and it would not be polite to remind them of their promise during the election campaign last year. We should be happy that that was a promise the government has not kept...
March 29, 2015

Across the aisle – Natural resources: Fog is yet to clear

We were told that auction was the only correct way to transfer the right to use a natural resource. Thankfully, the Supreme Court retracted from that obviously wrong position and approved of any fair, transparent and non-discriminatory method of allocating natural resources...
March 22, 2015

Across the Aisle: Equity suffers Rs 75,000-crore blow

The Finance Minister listed thirteen points for his Vision 2022. Among them were a roof for each family, clean drinking water, providing medical services, upgrading schools, and increase in agricultural productivity. Everyone agreed wholeheartedly. He also listed five major challenges but promised that “the government has decided to continue supporting important national priorities such as...
March 15, 2015

Across The Aisle: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

To most Indians, the story of the struggle for Independence ended on August 15, 1947. In fact, the struggle began on that day. The idea of an open and free society was unknown in most parts of India and to several generations of Indians. Many of them lived their whole lives under a king or a satrap. Many lived their whole lives in fear of God and godmen. Many accepted the societal rules and restrictions as if they were scripture...