Tamil is an ancient language which jostles Sanskrit on antiquity but remains in vibrant, modern use. It is also a cultural identity. Post-Independence, in 1947, the erstwhile Madras Presidency became the Madras State within the Union of India. In 1956, its borders were redrawn to shed the non-Tamil speaking peripheral areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, […]Read More Tamil Nadu needs an economic reboot
Mission “Karamyogi”, the Modi governments first stab at public sector capacity development, was unveiled during the pandemic in September last year—a reminder that whilst the rest of us worked languidly from home, bureaucratic wheels continued to churn albeit with reduced physical presence. The name of the Mission derives from the Bhagawad Gita—a lively, ancient, masterclass on […]Read More Feeding the beast- civil service training
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?
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
Despite receipts being 18% lower than even last year till November, largely because of the yawning gap against the aggressive budget estimate for disinvestment receipts (Rs 2,1 trillion), the Union government did well to spend almost 5% more than last year by enhancing borrowing. This is in the best traditions of trying to keep the […]Read More Budget for hope, build resilient foundations
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
Creativity blooms during periods of extreme turbulence. One such example is the “Doing Business” index, which was initiated in 2003, in the aftermath of the dotcom boom-bust of 2000-2004. Back then, state led development had decisively given way to a preference for an open economy, competition, markets and private enterprise. The Doing Business index benchmarked […]Read More How creative is the Indian economy?
The “non-development expenditure” of state governments – the cost of keeping their government apparatus going amounted to Rs 10.5 trillion or 27.5% of their total receipts in 2019-20 (RBI Public Finance Data) versus 20% of receipts for “establishment” expenses in the Union government (Union Budget Documents). Too top heavy by half Putting the two together, […]Read More Indian States as Regional Ecological Managers