Of the five natural elements (Panchabhuma) which comprise the world – Earth, Water, Air, Space and Fire, it is the last which best describes the existing relationship between Delhi (Union government) and Kolkata (state government of West Bengal) .Didi’s salvo protecting her citadel The most recent flare up is over Chief Minister Mamata “Didi” Banerjee […]Read More The problem with fiery federalism
Sometimes, as in the case of electricity, hacking through a tangle of pancaked, well-meaning policies seems like the only way. There are many challenges, including a split legislative mandate, between the Union and the states, for what should be an integrated, network industry. This leaves cities – even the largest growth drivers- completely divorced from […]Read More Exorcise familiar ghosts in electricity supply
Social media — the use of online platforms, as substitutes for old style, high-touch, physical contact formats like newspapers and one-on-one meetings — is now near ubiquitous, boosted greatly by the pandemic. Follow the money The ebb and flow of advertising revenues best illustrates the media preferences of customers. Digital marketing accounted for more than […]Read More Through the social media looking glass
The tragic snafu over making sufficient oxygen available to meet the spike in demand from COVID-related morbidity is a red flag for an underlying malaise—of overlapping mandates, state governments enfeebled by decades of Union government spoon feeding, and under capacitated local government. Sadly, state governments have voluntarily accepted this hollowing out of their core functions. […]Read More Repurposing governance- trim the fat in state governments
India spends around just under 2% of its GDP on managing external threats as a core sovereign function of the Union government. By all accounts, this arrangement works well. Two generations of Indians since 1965, have never known war personally, except those brave hearts, who chose to take upon themselves, the weighty task of protecting […]Read More Who’s in charge here?
Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — all awaiting new governments in early May this year — are the last bastions of strong linguistic and cultural regionalism which have resisted the mainstreaming of politics under BJPs “one country one party” theology. Assam capitulated in 2016 and is expected to remain within the BJP’s fold in May […]Read More Indian regionalism- past its expiry date
Economists belabour the point that emerging out of the pandemic–induced economic downturn is qualitatively different from emerging out of a long–drawn economic recession. Simply put, it is easier to get back to where you were. Turning on a light switch and flooding a dark room with light instantly is apt for describing what happens once […]Read More Unraveling fiscal stress
A bill approved by both houses of Parliament last week March 2021, will sharply reduce the Delhi’s Government’s ability to act independently of the Lieutenant Governor (LG), an appointee of the President of India (ergo the Union government). Every executive decision has now to be referred to the LG. Similarly, whilst the Delhi Assembly can legislate, […]Read More Is Delhi democratically enfeebled?
In Hong Kong, British style democracy is being nudged out by Sinicized democratic norms, where the Communist Party of China, and not citizens, determine the limits of democratic conventions. But it is not just China which feels compelled to sculpt the principles of classic, citizen-centric democracy to the objective conditions on the ground. Post-colonial Africa […]Read More Improbable democracies or impossible benchmarks
Over the last three decades, it has become customary to disregard the fears of the “little woman” at the bottom of the income pyramid, as mere misinformed or worse—unenlightened, unreasonable insecurity. Unrequited love for markets After all, markets, if regulated appropriately, have delivered wonderfully and poorer economies have benefited more than developed ones. South Asian […]Read More Decentralize to empower the bottom of the income pyramid