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
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
A decadal “look ahead,” even as geopolitical, technological and environmental disruptions push uncertainty to worrying levels, closely resembles a fool’s wager. The upside, however, is an even chance of getting it right, just like everyone else. DOMESTIC POLITICS — The silence of stability Our biggest challenges will emerge from domestic politics. The political threats are […]Read More India till 2030- Testing the marginal utility of political stability
Amitabh Kant the CEO of NITI Ayog got a taste of the underside of celebrity status when his remark on there being “too much democracy in India” created a social media storm of protest. Mr. Kant clarified subsequently that the news coverage had omitted the latter part of his sentence “……. for it to be […]Read More Democratic overload
The “non-development expenditure” of state governments – the cost of keeping their government apparatus going amounted to Rs 10.5 trillion or 27.5% of their total receipts in 2019-20 (RBI Public Finance Data) versus 20% of receipts for “establishment” expenses in the Union government (Union Budget Documents). Too top heavy by half Putting the two together, […]Read More Indian States as Regional Ecological Managers
Is Covid-19 an inflection-point in Indian history? And if so, what direction does it presage? Why should this “cough-cough” moment be considered significant? Three reasons appear plausible. Political consolidation First, the Modi government is settling into a comfortable additional medium term – ten year – political run all the way to 2029. Enough secondary support […]Read More New India – Like Gujarat, minus the sugar
On top of the BJP’s rudderless leadership to get the national economy out of a rut, or very possibly because of it, comes a humiliating political defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections with Arvind Kejriwal’s broom sweeping the Congress completely out of the capital’s politics and limiting the BJP to 8 out of the 70-member […]Read More BJP electrocuted after Delhi adopts muffler-man Kejriwal