There is something universally uplifting about independence — be it for a teenager, a city, a village, a province or an entire country. Coming into your own is empowering. But only if opportunities exist to break free of the inevitably skewed nature of endowments and constraining regulations. The warm feeling around cooperative federalism has faded […]Read More An opportunity called Independence- use it or lose it
Modi 1.0 was all about learning the ropes of national governance. Budget preparation and execution is a key ingredient. Budget purists cavil that budgets under Modi 1.0 were high on fuzzy motherhood goals and discretionary expenditure but low on schematic, multiplier enhancing allocations. Arun Jaitley’s five years as FM Rhetoric and poetry are part of […]Read More Budget FY2020 – Marching to a different drum beat
Finance high table – not a man’s world anymore There is a heady feeling to being India’s finance minister. Finance is fungible, unlike other factors of production — including the ubiquitous “ahlu” in North Indian cuisine — which gives it the centrality others lack. FM as Magic Maker This unique status of the FM also […]Read More Make the Union Budget credible again
Nirmala Sitharaman has notched up a record merely by taking over as Finance Minister in the Modi 2.0 government. She will be the first woman to hold this position as a stand-alone charge. Indira Gandhi was the first woman Finance Minister in 1970-71. But she was already Prime Minister and assumed the position from Finance […]Read More Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman – an avatar of Durga or Laxmi?
A core staff of just around 400 persons borrowed from the Union government, leveraged temporarily with an additional five million staff from the Centre and state governments to manage polling for 900 million electors — more than 66 per cent of whom are expected to cast their vote this year — would be a recipe […]Read More Weak institutions undermine India’s Election Commission
A duality of capacity and intent casts a patina over elections in India. At one end, battery-powered, surround-sound “hologram discs” worn around a party worker’s neck shock and awe while belting out the BJP’s message in remote Himachal Pradesh. At the other end, the less well-endowed Aam Aadmi Party in metropolitan Delhi is falling back […]Read More Elections highlight the duality of Indian politics
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 […]Read More How much is your vote worth?
Manifestos don’t count for much if elections are won on the popularity of a single leader — Narendra Modi. Oddly, the Congress chose to follow a similar strategy last week, with Rahul Gandhi as its key protagonist, presenting a David versus Goliath choice. We are far from junking top down, paternalistic, big man rule. Regional […]Read More BJP’s Sankalp Patra – spans realism and fantasy
The recent statistical dogfight around job creation, using data as ammunition was between NITI Aayog, intent on proving that there is no slow-down in job creation or more accurately productive work and the CMIE convinced that there has been a net job loss during the Modi years, with no give on either side. Empowered elites […]Read More The common sense on jobs
Most of the major political parties in India, other than the Communist parties, do not align their electoral rhetoric within a broad, directional, policy agenda. Why should they when the outcomes from ideological monogamy have been so very poor? The demise of ideology During the 2014 general election, the share of valid votes of both […]Read More Voters dilemma – should the heart rule or the head?