The ritual halwa has been consumed in the cavernous basement of the Ministry of Finance and the budget printing team consigned incommunicado for the next ten days in a Byzantine tactic to maintain budget secrecy. Nothing illustrates the continuing “duality” of India than the fact that meanwhile the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley remains deeply engaged […]Read More Interim Budget 2019 – style and substance
Four decades ago on January 16, 1979, Iran’s last “Persian” ruler Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi fled his palace near Tehran never to return, thus ending a divisive rule of nearly four decades. The fallout, which occasioned his political demise, was a mass outpouring of anger against entitled westernised elites; State led dilution of traditional cultures and lifestyles; […]Read More A Shah is born in India
Not so well-off upper caste Hindus, Muslims and Christians, who have so far not benefited from “reservations” or quotas, woke up last week to a pleasant surprise — they had all been included! Quota politics The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019, came into force from Monday. It provides for a 10 per cent additional reservation […]Read More Including the excluded class
In the most recent state assembly elections, the BJP lost. But given the centralised governance architecture of the BJP, so did Narendra Modi. The jury is out on the extent to which election losers heed advice directed gratuitously at them by opinion writers. But Mr Modi is credited to be a voracious internet fiend so […]Read More From assembly to the 2019 general election
History is written by the victors because they are the ones who survive and have “the force” with them. Last week the Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Union government set the Yamuna on fire — not very difficult really, since it has more chemicals than water — by releasing the back series of the […]Read More Politics, lies or just GDP statistics
In a recent freebie on social media, McKinsey – an outrageously expensive US consultancy which spurns a fee below Rs 50 million for even the smallest task – shares lessons learnt by them for producing leaders. First, good health is critical – a no-brainer. Second, company programs to produce leaders mostly fail – this is […]Read More McKinsey can learn from Modi
It is a fashion of the times that officers of the elite Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Foreign Service join political parties and get elected to public office. The civil service conduct rules, which require an officer to be apolitical, no longer apply once (s)he leaves government service. This approach is congruent […]Read More Are elite civil service cadres becoming training schools for politicians?
Low-hanging fruit gathered with minimum effort and pain are any politician’s first choice for action. Renaming cities, infrastructure projects or roads to celebrate a distinguished political or thought leader, a sportsman, a war hero; a historical event or a way of life (Queensway turning into today’s Janpath in New Delhi) are par for the course. […]Read More The populism of “renaming” has a cost
The Gandhi’s (Rahul, his mom and sister) face an existential crisis. At the heart of their problem is the stance they should adopt for the national elections coming up in May 2019. The dilemma of leadership Doing more of the same would mean upping the ante, matching Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah taunt-for-taunt, continuing […]Read More Should Rahul step up or back?
We Indians are peculiar. At least 40 per cent of us have barely benefited from Independence. Another 40 per cent have benefited only somewhat. This skewed income profile pulls our per capita income down to $1,820 (current 2017), close to the bottom at number 173 out of 229 economies (World Bank 2017). The real beneficiaries […]Read More Why India’s 20% club loves the status quo