India’s Raj inheritance

Delhi has yet to overcome its Raj inheritance. The capital exudes the complacence of satiated imperialism, decades after the rest of the country has been democratized.  The most egregious twin dogmas Two particularly deep-seated Raj dogmas plague Delhi. First, that India has an entitlement to lead the world and second, that our long-term foe is […]

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How much is your vote worth?

One wo(man) one vote” is the nominal cornerstone of our democracy. But in practice the elective power of a vote varies significantly across states. On the surface, we are very democratic — elections are held regularly and voter enthusiasm has not waned unlike elsewhere. Participative Indians Voter turnout — the proportion of those on the […]

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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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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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Lock your data & sell it

The concept of information asymmetry” was taught using the well-worn example of a secondhand car salesman who uses his insider’s knowledge to sell a “lemon” (a defective car) to the innocent buyer. The new-age example of information asymmetry relates to data. Visionary business leaders know that “data is the new oil”. But the average person […]

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Aadhaar – catching crooks & criminals

The Aadhaar fever started in 2009, when the UPA government was in office. It encountered turbulent times in 2014 when the government changed. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a technology enthusiast, was persuaded to look beyond the past at the opportunity it gave to reduce official discretion and corruption, whilst targeting and delivering public services. […]

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TRAI should junk net neutrality

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), was once the gold standard for “light touch” regulation, in stark contrast to electricity regulators, who continue today, to be stuck in byzantine rate of return regulation and administering cross subsidy between classes of users. TRAI loses industry focus TRAI has changed since. Consider that on November 29 it […]

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“Demonetisation” as a morality play

The politics around “demonetisation” — a misused term for what happened on November 8, 2016 — has taken centerstage in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh (that voted yesterday) and Gujarat (which goes to the polls in December). Finance minister Arun Jaitley has added “morality” to the cluster of objectives, that seemingly […]

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