Keep Your Hands Off Cooperatives!

There is an old adage that “if some thing isn’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing”. But the AP government is exactly attempting to do the same through its proposal for amending the Mutually Aided Cooperative Societies (MACS) Act, 1995. For some of you who might not be familiar with what is happening in the field of cooperatives, a little backgrounder.

Vertical Silos and Governance Deficit

One of the key challenges of public management in India is the absence of horizontal linkages and coordination. As a result, the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand does. What is the evidence?

Millions on the Margins

The spate of brutal killings of Salva Judem members by Maoists in Chattisgarh and encounter deaths of Maoists in Andhra Pradesh expose the fault lines of our society and polity. These are not acts of violence inspired by extra-territorial terrorist agencies to destabilize our nation. These are the products of anguish, despair and bitterness resulting from decades of misgovernance and an economic growth process which relegates millions to the margins.

Growth with Security

Once again, cowardly and murderous terrorist groups attacked India’s financial capital.  Once again, the citizens of Mumbai, in the midst of the shock and grief, have exhibited uncommon courage, resilience and tolerance.  As in April 1993, in July 2006, all of India showed how a great nation could transcend prejudice and bigotry, and uphold its liberal, humane traditions.

Corruption – Risks and Rewards

The recent CBI raids and allegations of disproportionate assets of a prominent Haryana politician to a tune of Rs. 1500 crore have barely evoked any interest among political pundits and media. There is such cynicism prevailing about politicians, that most people tend to believe the worst about ‘them’.

Energy Security – Time for Plan B?

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The recent foreign policy debates are largely centered around our future energy needs. Frenetic economic diplomacy to secure nuclear power generation oil and gas contracts, and laying pipelines on the east as well as west to transport fossil fuels are certainly of value in the short and medium term. Long-term supply contracts and investments in exploration in oil-rich countries will give us some leverage. But we need to plan for the future with clarity in an integrated manner.

Politics of Arbitrage

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines arbitrage as ‘the buying and selling of stocks or bills of exchange to take advantage of varying prices in different markets’.  Politics, among other things, are the ‘activities concerned with the acquisition or exercise of authority or government’.

Unorganized Sector – Intentions vs Outcomes

One of the great challenges confronting India is amelioration of the plight of the unorganized workers. NSS estimates show that about 370 million workers belonged to this category in 1999-2000. Of them, about 240 million are engaged in agriculture as owner-cultivators and wage labourers. Of the remaining 130 million non-agricultural workers, about 40 million are engaged in manufacturing, 37 million each in trade and other services, and the remaining in construction.

Expatriates and Indian Transformation

Over 20 million people of Indian origin are dispersed in 110 countries all over the world outside India.  About half of them constitute the first generation immigrants or their immediate families – mostly in North America, Europe, Middle East, and South-East Asia, apart from our own neighborhood.

Nature’s Fury Compounded by Human Folly

December 26 2004 saw an unprecedented disaster killing more than 150,000 innocent people, uprooting millions, and devastating the economy of vast regions in many nations in South and South-East Asia. It is impossible, with today’s technology to precisely anticipate an earthquake and know when and where it will affect people. Such unavoidable suffering is part of human existence, and we have to face it with courage and accept it with equanimity.