Sunday, April 13, 2014

Its ALL about elections in India

The election time is here and running up quiet fast. Bad time to read good things about anything under the sun. Everybody lies about anything but future of polity and politics. The citizen is once again fooled by all kinds of promises about material and non-material things in society. Not matter, its all about groups in which you favour.

Big storms are here and there for all kinds of political reasons. Here are some strange readings about India and its economy-policy, polity and people.

I have waited long to read Dr.Sanjay Baru's book on Manmohan Singh. Here are first excerpts from the book. Its must read for all Indians.

Amit Verma writes about Indian polity and politics over election fever.
  • "There are two factors that shape politics in India. One is the nature and structure of government. Ours is far more powerful than it should be, with an excess of discretionary power over the common man. We are worse off under our government, regardless of which party is in charge, than we were under the British. Our government is effectively set up not to serve us, but to rule us — and to extract hafta. Think of political parties as rival mafia gangs fighting for the right to loot us for five years."
Shanu has good piece in the DNA on Sanjay Baru's book on Prime Minister Singh.

Whatever you say wrong about Gujarat. It is the top state with higher level of economic freedom which means more chances to produce wealth and prosperity for the people.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

India "move towards a centrist politics"

Some useful reading:

"India is definitely ahead of Europe in how so many diverse cultural, linguistic and even religious communities have all kept together in a federal political system. Look at Europe — it has become more and more divided into countries. Within several countries that are much smaller than India, deep and violent divisions persist. Ireland is one example...

But I must add that one dangerous phenomenon has emerged — post-election alliances. What should happen is that parties get together before an election, declare some kind of common programme and then face the electorate. Instead, I see parties openly declaring that they will enter into alliances after the results are out. This is not fair to the voters and leads to problems in the political system. " More here.

The quality of governance matters, not 10-year averages.

 the Praetorian guards of the “idea of India”

No political party can hope to win even a municipal election in India by relying on the votes of rich Indians. 

Socialist parties have had the enduring slogan of Bharat verses India. Leaders and intellectuals have argued that cities are colonising the countryside and creating a conflict between villages and cities. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Must read

Swatantra's Real - AAP's Fly by Night Politics

"Independent politicians like Masani, who did not believe in the socialist route taken by Nehru, rallied around Rajagopalachari. In the General Election of 1962, within three years of its formation, the Swatantra Party won 22 Lok Sabha seats. The next election in 1967 was its highpoint. It got 44 Lok Sabha seats and was the largest opposition party. It got 9.6 per cent of all votes polled and won 256 assembly seats in various states. And then, just as abruptly, by the polls of 1971, it slipped to eight Lok Sabha seats with just 3.1 per cent of votes polled. By 1974, the main party had ceased to exist." More here.

"The Swantantra Party had become the more legitimate voice of the free market...A decade ago, Mr. Vajpayee’s free market policies were staunchly opposed by Sangh affiliates such as the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Mr. Modi managed to banish them all from Gujarat, making it a middle class utopia. The anti-capitalist strand in the Hindu right that repelled the modernising, pro-market middle class is now invisible and inaudible." More here.

The impending demise of the Left....on May 16, do not forget to note history in the making, with the Left seats in the low teens if not at a single-digit level.

Chinese president Mr.Xi says "Constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parliamentarism, a multi-party system and a presidential system, we considered them, tried them, but none worked,"

"Indian society internalised the Victorian critique"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interesting reading

The 80 year old Economic Freedom lover S.V Raju shares many things on the birth and death of Swatantra Party (SP) in India. SP was the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha in 1967 with 44 MPs. It won about 256 assembly seats in various States. The party ruled in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan. The article also talks about other old men who were with SP and now with NCP, etc (Open Magazine page:42-44, April 7,2014).

" if reservations are to be expanded, political parties should begin with quotas in their own leadership."

An unconventional take on the Partition

"There is right now no shortage of ideological grandstanding but little analytical insight on inequality in India" "....inequality came down during the socialist planning era while it began to increase after liberalization"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Free the market in Indian agriculture sector

Very insightful thoughts from Ashok Gulati. Many interesting things he shares with BS. I did met him in one of the conference in Delhi recently. Inf act, he had shared most the following things in that talk he gave:

  • "export controls is one way of taxing the peasantry by suppressing prices"
  • “The problem is the government is trying to achieve equity through price policy and not using income policy, so you have massive misallocations. This is how Soviet Russia collapsed. We need to get out of this socialist mindset and allow markets to function,”
  • “This is the area where the second Green Revolution is supposed to happen. It was a bumper year, but you had export controls so you didn’t allow foodgrain to go out, you restrict the private sector domestically, plus you are not procuring. So the market collapsed for farmers in Bihar. Yet you are procuring from Punjab, which earns Rs 4,000 crore extra by charging a tax of 14.5%, what the heck!”
  • “He said, ‘Tumne saare desh ka theka le rakha hai? [are you responsible for the whole country?] The government has made you a chairman. Enjoy life’.”
  • He found Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar “progressive, more market oriented than other ministers and with a broad vision.”
  • “Well, the food minister wanted to protect consumers, the agriculture minister the farmer. Each ministry works in a silo, so, really, it is for the prime minister to take a call. That’s when you need a leader.”
  • “Vajpayee didn’t say much but he listened. Once, there was a discussion on deficit financing and Montek talked about how we need to disinvest in Maruti, Ashoka Hotel and so on. Vajpayee’s response was, ‘Bawaal khada ho jayega’ [it will become a problematic issue]. Yet, 15 days later, that’s exactly what the government announced. That’s leadership.” 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rajaji, Jaswant Singh and Jan Sangh/BJP

Apart from one wing of the Swatantra Party that lived and died with the privy purses, 

K.K.Pathak says:

"I am somewhat surprised to note Jaswant’s unique understanding of Rajaji’s views and opinions as exhibited by him in his charming explanations of them in true national interest."

"C.Rajagopalchari wanted to unite the Opposition before the 1971 elections. Prof. N. G. Ranga, the then Chairman of the erstwhile Swatantra Party, was hobnobbing with the RSS, he even addressed its annual rally. He wanted a merger of the Jan Sangh and the Swatantra Party. C. Rajgopalchari was much influenced by Ranga in favour of a merger between the two parties. M.R. Masani was General Secretary of the Swatantra Party and was against Ranga’s move. Rajaji asked me what I thought of the proposal made by Ranga. I quite remember my remark: For God’s sake let’s do nothing to pollute the sanity of the Swatantra Party with the fanaticism of the Jan Sangh. When Masani came to know about my opinion he congratulated me for speaking the truth without mincing words. Today I feel I was right and Ranga was wrong in pleading the cause of merger. Nothing has changed over these four decades after I gave my opinion to C.Rajagopalchari in response when he asked me to unlock my heart." Read the interesting story from here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Must read!

For me, T.C.A Srinivasa Raghavan is one of very interesting writer as far as the economics is concerned. He is also writes so excitingly about the political economics of India. I have been reading his articles for about a decade. However, I must confess that he writes so well and interesting topics only when he is with BS. His other works in newspapers like BL etc. were pretty bad and the reasons are know to any regular reader of The Hindu group. Infact, T.C.A wrote some very critically interesting articles on Indian political economy during the period 2004-2009 but for that he paid huge price in the next few years! 

Here are some interesting articles by T.C.A in the BS:

Monday, March 10, 2014

"India’s self-styled liberals have sprinted ahead of them"

Very moving lines to ponder over it for months to come before and aftermath of coming general elections in India:

  • India’s self-styled liberals have sprinted ahead of them. Seduced by the intellectual and financial patronage enjoyed under Congress dispensations, they have come to believe in their own unsubstantiated innuendoes against Modi as incontestable truths. They could neither hear, see nor smell anything wrong with the Congress in the past. Now the courtesy has been extended to the AAP despite evidence staring them in their faces.
  • Between cussed, old and yet ambitious politicians and pseudo-intellectuals, they have succeeded in reducing India into a socially dysfunctional economic rump.
  • If they succeed in stopping Modi from becoming prime minister after these elections, they will complete the task of making India an irrecoverable economic basket case. Restoring trust in the country’s leaders and institutions will be a lost cause forever if, even at this juncture, personal interests trump national interest.

B.R. Ambedkar, the greatest economist India never had

Whenever I hear about anything on to B.R.Ambedkar- bear with me- I only think of him as a greatest economist India never had at least so far. Of course, I am not overestimating him as an economist. All I am trying to say is that let's give him due credit to him for what he had achieved by giving wonderful original economic ideas in the field of economics which become dominant factor in the second half of last century. Its, strange that none has bothered to look at his many books and scholarly articles published in professional journals on economics. 

As far as the people are concerned virtually all are passionate about Ambedkar's contributions in the field of politics, social development, constitutional morality, etc. Out of all these, the one which comes to public attention and occasionally the attentions of authors and experts is the issue of Caste on which Ambedkar made some extremely controversial arguments. 

Remember, Ambedkar was neither a Marxist nor socialist. At the age of 45, Ambedkar wrote this text purely for a lecture to be delivered at Lahore but it was not delivered due to its controversial content. His work on Annihilation of Caste is the book which has been revisited by none other than the Marxist and socialist.

Arundhati Roy has written an introduction to the new edition titled Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition B.R. Ambedkar with ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ . The Caravan has published her introduction almost in full version. On the whole, she merely takes Ambedkar's thinking into a wild argument of why people have not taken serious about the Ambedkar's work as compared to M.K Gandhi. Of course, she try to give some idea of the role of castes in India in today's context.

In the early part of introduction Roy writes and rightly so that "Ambedkar was a prolific writer. Unfortunately his work, unlike the writings of Gandhi, Nehru or Vivekananda, does not shine out at you from the shelves of libraries and bookshops." This is something I quite agree with her as a matter of fact. That is all I can agree with her!

M.K.Gandhi vehemently criticized Ambedkar's work by saying its a big challenge to the Hinduism. Ambedkar replied to it with much muse in it.

One of Ambedkar's half-truth-full follower revisited his text and had written about recently in a English magazine. Nothing new in it.

Here you can see the range of people commenting on Ambedkar's revisited work. Why don't we have such similar authors/experts to comment on his economic writings?

The Hindu also carried Roy's shorter version of the introduction. Also another shorter version in the outlook. She also has some long interview with the Outlook magazine. Somehow I did not liked the interview and the kind of words she used.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Narendra Modi Mania-Tall Order or Tall Leader

There comes time when someone seems as ordinary becomes special and extraordinary in a few months time. Like this can only happen in the open-media society like the one we are blessed with now and enjoying in the middle of this revolution. Narendra Modi become one such person for all the good reasons and causes. Modi's ideas have been hot debate now more intensively. Some are very interesting and few are more political in nature. But that is always the case for any persons who work in the political process in any country.

The purpose of this post is to re-count the economic ideas of Mr Modi. Some grant ideas.

  • urbanisation, infrastructure, education and healthcare, apart from cracking down on scourges such as inflation and black money... Modi...wish list includes Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management and All India Institutes of Medical Science in every state, 100 new smart cities and bullet trains to all four corners of the country. 
  • "If the railways is modernised, we can give impetus to progress. By the time the country celebrates the diamond jubilee of independence (2022), we should have bullet trains going in four directions. The world will start seeing us with a new vision,"
  • Modi spoke also of building Brand India through 5 Ts - talent, tradition, trade, tourism & technology and said India’s demographic and democratic dividend along with these plans will set in motion the investment cycle and revive India’s stalled growth.
  • 'Nobody has a textile policy like us. It is based on five Fs. Farm to fibre; fibre to factory; factory to fashion; fashion to foreign,' 
Here are some articles: One, second, third, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelveOther articles: here,

OPEN Letters to AAP & AK

It become big viral to do a wild motive of writing open letters invariably addressed to the new infant political party in India, the AAP and the infant politician Mr AK. Some letters are not at all good to read but its out there to judge the merit and content of it. Here are some list:

There are about 13 letters. All of these letters were written in the last two-three month. One of my friend has penned a very interesting two letters at CCS Blog, first and second. Prof.V Raghunathan has two letters: first and second. Letter of former supporter of AAP. Letter appeared in BS. Letter on former Law Minister of AAP government in Delhi. A blogger letter. Media blogger letter. Letter in Kashmir Times. DNA letter. Letter in fairobserver. Letter in TSE.

The use of AAP in Indian polity-Very objective analysis. Another one here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bulky Beasts

"The Planning Commission’s internal systems are run on the lines of a government ministry. It has a secretary like all other ministries. The secretary reports to the deputy chairman who is a “minister” with independent charge. All officers in the planning “ministry” report to the secretary. Members of the Planning Commission are ranked as “ministers of state” for protocol purposes, and like ministers of state in other ministries they have no say in the appointments, transfers, evaluations, and quality of the staff in the divisions they are notionally responsible for. Thus the organization is run like a “ministry” albeit with a “commission” of a few full-time members attached to it. These members are expected to deliver high-quality guidance on the subjects assigned to them and to change the ways in which the Commission engages with the country and plans for its progress. They do not have the resources to do this." More here.

"Two hundred and fifty years have passed since the great debate between Burke and Paine. The 21st century has commenced with a noticeable decline of trust in elected governments in India and in the West too." More here

India's cockpit, 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nowhere or Somewhere in between?

Let's utter something on the politico economy of India. Forgot the numbers produced by the nunny State time and again. No doubt, the economy is undergoing a different plane and where it has headed is surely nobody's guess. Talk to anyone who is observing, doing business, working in policy or simply pondering over it compared to the rest of the economies in the world. Its simple common sense that till next government is in place, nothing can be said assured for progress and prosperity. But it does not mean that the people will simply not at work with their own commonsense to achieve progress and prosperity in life. 

This season is also about the high drama of elections in India. Biting the words has become a kind of business in modern society-always this or that. People's characteristics are better visible during the elections. Once the elections are over, the people or citizens of any country should start working backward to the folly promises or vows entrusted by the political workers.

Too much focus is being concentrated on the particular political establishment for usual if and buts of the polity of folly. I mean the senseless stupid talk about personal attacks on each other. 

Here are some useful articles appeared recently in the popular media. Some are repeating the old things. Before that there are some interesting stuff happening at newly created Pune International Centre.  

"eliminate the nearly 70 clearances (yes 70, according to planning commission’s new manufacturing policy!) for starting a business"

In Kautilya's Arthashastra, this situation is called matsya-nyaya, or law of the fish (in other words, the big fish eat the small). That is why Kautilya argues that the rule of law is the single most important responsibility of the state. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Moving response on the BIG beast

You asked one of your interviewees “Is Government dying?” — a question many on the street are asking. What would be your response to the question?

In its current form, there is a real risk to government as an institution. However, all of us need governance; we need a collective process that must have some form of regulation. In India, we need to step back and think of our great grandchildren, we need to ask ourselves, would they be better off because we were there before them? We need to work backwards from that sense of a timeline and make some far reaching changes. These changes can’t be done on the streets. They can’t be done in anger. Anger is a bad emotion, it is meant for dealing with fleeting risks, not for architecting generational change. More here.