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...