IL&FS Robber Baron of India’s gilded age

India is deservedly an “emerging market”. Information asymmetries are extreme and caveat emptor rules, making investment riskier than it should be. The rapid implosion of the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) — a private group — bears this out. Opaque financials First, consider that no outsider knows how many subsidiary companies it has. Estimates […]

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Jaitley returns as FM

Arun Jaitley has returned to take charge as finance minister well before those who care for him would have advised. So what was the haste all about? The uncharitable view would be that power abhors a vacuum. Politicians and film stars — no wonder the two often overlap — are most vulnerable to the prolonged […]

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The price of democracy

Prof. Ashutosh Varshney of Brown University calls India an improbable democracy — poor, impossibly heterogeneous and multicultural, and ironically, only its colonial heritage keeps it going. So has our hubris cost us plenty? Why we are not China Forget comparing ourselves with China today. Are we at least on the same path? No, we are […]

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Book Review: Paying the price for aid

Three themes undergird the author’s exhaustive narrative of the politics around foreign aid in India between 1950 and 1975, during the early years of the Cold War — the people who made key decisions; the domestic context and, finally, the geopolitical incentives that shaped donor responses. The deal makers Indian officials come across as being surprisingly […]

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What the cash crunch foretells

Conspiracy theorists are hard at work to identify the drivers behind the ongoing cash crunch, that has left the automated teller machines (ATMs) in cities and towns across large parts of the country dry. There is much finger pointing between the Reserve Bank of India and the commercial banks, both private and public sector, each […]

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