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
There is a fun-side to budgets beyond the dreary boredom of the data and pedantic truisms bandied about. The lightest side of the budget this year, were capital receipts from disinvestment (code for under-the-radar privatization) which at 85% below budget outclassed, for the “back bencher award”, revenue receipts, which only shrank – like cooked methi (Fenugreek)- to […]Read More Budgetary #funstuff- “never befores” for 2022
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
One of the realizations, home-spun by Covid in India, is that there is value to “atmanirbharta” (ANB) or self-reliance – the capacity to march alone, if necessary. An admirable attribute except that “aloneness” creeps up silently on you like a habit, difficult to shake off. Looked at more cheerily, it is not so different from […]Read More Marching alone
The win in Bihar for the BJP- JD(U) combine, presages continue strength to the NDA at the center and a potential spread across more states. This is a source of anxiety for those who miss the more lassiez faire approach of previous governments, where the “dharma of coalitions” restricted strong-arm action on any front. BJP […]Read More Post Diwali sentiment boosters