December 25, 2016

Across the aisle | Cashless economy: A distracting mirage

Why should the government or its numerous agencies have access to our lives through access to Big Data? Every now and then a new word or phrase is introduced into the conversation. On November 8, 2016, it was demonetisation. It was portrayed as the white knight on a steed who will slay the demons of black money, corruption and fake […]
December 18, 2016

Across the aisle: Winners, losers and those ruined

This week too, I must stay with the subject of demonetisation. When change takes place, there will be winners and losers. Wisdom is required to cap the gains of the winners and limit the losses of the losers. Greater wisdom is required to ensure that no one is utterly ruined. Such wisdom can only come from full information and knowledge. […]
December 11, 2016

Across the aisle: The Unravelling

The phrase of the year 2016, at least as far as India is concerned, was ‘surgical strike’. The Oxford dictionary’s word of the year, post-truth, was largely unknown to Indians. I confess that I had not heard the word used in conversations or lectures before it was declared as word of the year. Surgical strike is simple, easy to understand […]
December 4, 2016

Across the aisle: Monumental mismanagement

Dr Manmohan Singh is a man of few words. He speaks softly and is careful not to offend anyone. These, in my view, are excellent attributes of a leader but, in a loud and raucous democracy, they are regarded as failings. Our democracy is poorer for encouraging lung power. Our debates are poorer because fact and logic are overwhelmed by […]
November 27, 2016

Across the aisle: No jobs, no credit growth, no private investments

Between the gathering storm on the India-Pakistan border and the massive disruption to the economy, Saturday, November 26, passed almost unnoticed. The day marked the exact mid-point of the tenure of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a natural and opportune moment to take stock of the government, its promises, the delivery and the state of […]
November 20, 2016

Across the Aisle: Demonetising notes or demonising cash?

I am obliged to return to the subject of ‘Old Notes for New’ because the hardship and suffering of the people continue. It is now clear that the decision to demonetise notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 was ill-conceived, the preparation was terrible and the implementation was horrible. It has also emerged, through whispers of course, that besides the […]
November 13, 2016

Across the aisle: Old notes for new is not game-changer

Money, inherently, has no colour. In most countries, specified money transactions are taxed. This gives rise to two classes of money — money that is not taxed and money that is taxed. If money that is liable to be taxed is not offered to tax or otherwise escapes taxation, that money is usually referred to as unaccounted money or ‘black […]
November 7, 2016

Across the aisle: No questions please, we are patriots

A new social and political code is in the making: Don’t ask questions. It is the exact opposite of the ethos that was considered absolutely necessary in a democracy and which led to the enactment of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) — that transparency and openness are the hallmarks of a democracy and that information, with few exceptions, […]
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November 13, 2016

Across the aisle: Old notes for new is not game-changer

Money, inherently, has no colour. In most countries, specified money transactions are taxed. This gives rise to two classes of money — money that is not taxed and money that is taxed. If money that is liable to be taxed is not offered to tax or otherwise escapes taxation, that money is usually referred to as unaccounted money or ‘black […]
November 7, 2016

Across the aisle: No questions please, we are patriots

A new social and political code is in the making: Don’t ask questions. It is the exact opposite of the ethos that was considered absolutely necessary in a democracy and which led to the enactment of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) — that transparency and openness are the hallmarks of a democracy and that information, with few exceptions, […]
October 30, 2016

Across the aisle: The case for creative destruction

In my column on October 2, 2016 (How free is freedom in India?), I had made a brief reference to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report and concluded thus: “Despite the reforms since 1991, which is a remarkable story, the State-to-firm interface remains a problem. What needs to be done and what can be done deserve a separate […]
October 23, 2016

Across the aisle: Wake up and smell the coffee

Even by the usual standards it was a l-o-n-g communique consisting of 109 paragraphs, each marked not by a number but by a bullet point. I can imagine what would have happened when the deputies gathered to draft the communique. I am reminded of how a camel was created: the Creator appointed a committee to design a horse and when […]
October 18, 2016

Across the aisle: If we kill dissent, we will kill liberty

According to the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), there were “surgical strikes” on “launch pads” situated “along” the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. I believe the DGMO, as we have always believed past Director Generals and past Chiefs of the Army. The DGMO said that “significant casualties” had been inflicted on the enemy but he did not […]
October 9, 2016

Across the aisle: Bad ideas will drive out the good

We have a new Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, we have a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), and we have their first statement on monetary policy. It is tempting to read the tea leaves! The MPC’s statement, with unanimous support, is significant not only for the cut in the policy repo rate but also for the analysis of the […]
October 2, 2016

Across the aisle: How free is freedom in India?

Twenty-five years after the Congress government under P V Narasimha Rao ushered in “liberalisation” of the economy, India has still not come to terms with the idea of economic freedom. This is disappointing for a country that was at the forefront of the struggle for political freedom for all countries. We understand political democracy, but we do not understand economic […]
September 25, 2016

In search of a Pakistan policy

It is said that ‘Hard words break no bones’. But they have a way of coming back to haunt the speaker. I am prepared to allow much latitude for a leader who had never been a minister in the Central government and was, by his own admission, an outsider so far as Delhi and the Central government were concerned. Even […]
September 18, 2016

Across the aisle: Why not try alternative approach?

I am sure the Home Minister meant well when he said that he expected the situation in the Kashmir Valley to return to normal soon, but it has not and there are no signs it will. The Home Secretary was sending a message of support to the security forces when he said that the situation was improving, but it is […]
September 11, 2016

Across the aisle: Near collapse of justice-delivery system

LAST year, the Supreme Court struck down the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 that enabled the constitution of the National Judicial Appointments Commission. The Court declared that the Collegium of judges would have exclusive authority to select candidates for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. There are as many people who criticised the judgement as […]