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 […]
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 […]
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March 8, 2015

Across the aisle – Budget 2015: Good, bad & ugly

We may have multiple parties in India but among the “commentariat” (columnists, letter-writers, tweeters, bloggers and abusers) there are only two benches: the Treasury who can see nothing but good and the Opposition who can see nothing but bad. I am an honorary member of both. I am also the selector who will unhesitatingly axe that which is plain ugly. I thought I may share with you some excerpts...
March 1, 2015

Opinion: Losing the Victor Hugo moment

Perchance, because the Budget was presented on Saturday, I can follow up on the column ‘What will the FM do with 282?’ published last Sunday. I had laid down three crucial tests. Let us see how the finance minister fared on those tests. First, the test of fiscal consolidation. The target of fiscal deficit was 4.1 per cent in  2014-15, which he has achieved...
March 1, 2015

Across The Aisle – Fourteenth FC: Generous to a fault?

ustice Felix Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court and Justice K Subba Rao of the Supreme Court of India wrote many famous dissenting judgements. The most celebrated dissenting judgement in the history of Indian courts was authored by Justice H R Khanna in the case of ADM Jabalpur. According to Chief Justice Hughes of the US Supreme Court...
February 22, 2015

Across the Aisle: What will the FM do with 282?

There is an interesting fact in the recent economic history of India. There have been only six finance ministers since liberalisation in 1991. With one exception, none of them belonged to a government that had an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. The exception is Mr Arun Jaitley. 282 is a boon. The government enjoys the support of 282 members of the BJP. Adding the allies, it has the support of 336 members...
February 15, 2015

Across the Aisle: Lessons for all in the Delhi election

There is a lesson for everyone in the Delhi election. The Winner: In the campaign, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) avoided theatrics and played with a politically straight bat, remained focused on “bijli, paani and sadak” (electricity, water and roads), and connected with voters belonging to all classes. In government, the people of Delhi will expect the AAP...
February 8, 2015

Across the Aisle: Truth, damned truth and statistics

Truth hurts. The UPA governments wasted the opportunity that was provided in May 2004 by the outgoing NDA government which had put the Indian economy on the growth path. The last year of the Vajpayee government, 2003-04, was the best ever — not just reckoning the years since 1947 but even going back to the last century, to the years of the East India Company, to the reign of Akbar and Ashoka, and to the time when...
February 1, 2015

Across the Aisle: Jan Dhan stands tall on UPA’s shoulders

Jan Dhan. The name has a nice ring to it. Like two drumbeats. Like the Republic Day march: left-right, jan-dhan, left-right…The purpose of this essay is to recall history. And to ask, how should we move? One of the grievances against banks, and one of the stated grounds for nationalisation of banks in 1969, was that they did not serve the poor...
January 25, 2015

Across the Aisle: Will the campaign end after R-Day?

In some ways, India is beginning to look like the United States. For example, take our elections. On running an election campaign, Mr Barack Obama was a master. Mr Narendra Modi was a quick learner. Never before 2014 did India’s election to the Lok Sabha witness such a masterly combination of organisation, money and technology(that cost, as the BJP officially reported, Rs 487 crore). It resembled a US presidential election...
January 18, 2015

Across the Aisle: Stand up and be counted

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act), was not passed in a hurry. It was passed 60 years too late, but nearly unanimously with the support of the BJP. The main purpose of the LARR Act was to repeal the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (the old Act). The old Act was an oppressive colonial law...
January 11, 2015

Across the Aisle: The State of the Union 2015

I am happy to be back in this space and begin a conversation. Before and during the elections to the Lok Sabha, we were concerned with the state of the economy. After the elections, and seven months after a new Government assumed office, those concerns have not gone away. Rather, new questions concerning the economy and the polity are being raised every day...