Livability in a city, over the past 18 months is strongly influenced by the extent of the ravages unleashed by the COVID-19 virus. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) annual survey done in February 2021, “The Livability Index”, focuses on the pandemic’s impact on city rankings. It is a relief that no Indian city is in […]Read More Indian cities: Victims of outdated political-economy constructs
How should government balance the interests of retail sellers whilst protecting the interests of consumers? Even handed legislation and transparent, market-based rules to kindle higher investment and growth, better employment opportunities and higher tax collection from trade would be the long-winded answer. Political economy shoulders out technical common sense Sadly, legislation, in democracies, is strongly […]Read More Taming regulatory excess in retail
In a desperately poor land, which just got poorer, it is ironic that we succeeded in the big challenges, like keeping democracy alive, but failed in the most basic of municipal functions – quality education to develop skill sets for productive employment; health services, sanitation, sewage management and drinking water facilities to insulate people from […]Read More Scraping the fiscal barrel-the bottom up view
Sometimes, as in the case of electricity, hacking through a tangle of pancaked, well-meaning policies seems like the only way. There are many challenges, including a split legislative mandate, between the Union and the states, for what should be an integrated, network industry. This leaves cities – even the largest growth drivers- completely divorced from […]Read More Exorcise familiar ghosts in electricity supply
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?
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
Over the last three decades, it has become customary to disregard the fears of the “little woman” at the bottom of the income pyramid, as mere misinformed or worse—unenlightened, unreasonable insecurity. Unrequited love for markets After all, markets, if regulated appropriately, have delivered wonderfully and poorer economies have benefited more than developed ones. South Asian […]Read More Decentralize to empower the bottom of the income pyramid
Finance Ministers have an uncanny way of figuring out what makes the fish bite and neutralizes the sceptics. Nicely rounded words in the budget speech – like phonetic “quick wins” – come in handy to send the roosters crowing a new Dawn. A three pronged paradigm shift in the budget? FM Sitharaman’s salad dressing for […]Read More Budgetary provisions matter more than the speech