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 […]

Read More IL&FS Robber Baron of India’s gilded age

Unbundling State effectiveness – current perspectives

Context is everything. No one model exists of an effective State. Hugely diverse countries like India can benefit from a modular approach enabling sub-national jurisdictions to shape their State architecture taking into account their context, the available resources and their dreams. The last is important. “Dreams” -as opposed to short-term ambition- are a mix of […]

Read More Unbundling State effectiveness – current perspectives

BJPs half-win in Gujarat

The David versus Goliath battle in Gujarat Assembly elections has ended, as expected, with Rahul Gandhi failing to pry away the State from the BJP. But the Modi magic has been dented, particularly with the slim margin of victory and the loss of his home constituency of Unja. With a 41% plus vote share the […]

Read More BJPs half-win in Gujarat

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. […]

Read More Aadhaar – catching crooks & criminals

Indian Railways: Slow and unsafe

It seems to be raining rail accidents these days, with two in swift succession. The hapless Suresh Prabhu is a good general but an unlucky one. He made sweeping changes in Indian railways (IR) since November 2014 when he became Minister. Most dramatic was his willingness to diminish his “empire” by merging the rail budget […]

Read More Indian Railways: Slow and unsafe

Fly India, fly

Udan — the new regional air connectivity scheme — is not likely to get the aam aadmi (common man) to fly, but it will correct the historical wrong done to the air transport business in India. The hallmark of faux socialism was the targeting of some services and goods as “luxury” and by implication, anti-common […]

Read More Fly India, fly

Book Review

  Connectography: Mapping the Global Network Revolution, Parag Khanna, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2016 In the 1980s, Disney World, Florida offered a gripping, virtual journey as viewed by a blood corpuscle as it rushes through the arteries, veins, into and out of organs in the human body. Parag Khanna’s fourth and latest book –Connectography: Mapping the Global […]

Read More Book Review

Rebranding Indian Rail

Indian Railways: Lifeline of the Nation” — runs the bold title of a 2015 government white paper. But the reality is that post-1991 the Indian Railways (IR), whilst retaining its high ritual status, ceded ground to competition from road transport. Too many consultant chefs It has only itself to blame. The railways steadfastly stonewalled all […]

Read More Rebranding Indian Rail