Band aid for cancer

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?

Market for Public Office

According to news reports, two young men of Mumbai, both scions of political families, have purchased a 6-acre property of Kohinoor Mills in a competitive bidding process at an astronomical price of Rs 421crore. Given Mumbai’s skyrocketing real estate prices, this may well be a reasonable investment. And in a market economy, it is no sin to be wealthy. As Deng Hsiao Ping said, it is glorious to be rich.

Citizen, Wealth and Society

To Paraphrase Dickens, we seem to be living in the best of times, and in the worst of times!

On the one hand, there is undiluted exultation among growth enthusiasts.  Low tax rates, 9% growth, high savings, declining deficits – all seem to be promising.  “If only we pursue the reform agenda, particularly in pension, insurance, and labour sectors, things will only get better”, claim market fundamentalists.

Will the FM Grab the Opportunity?

Probably no Finance Minister had it so good as Mr. Chidambaram now.  Our growth in robust and confidence is high.  The government is stable, and most free market policies are accepted across the political spectrum.  The FM may not be able to repeat the ‘dream budget’ of a decade ago, when direct taxes were reduced dramatically and the process of liberalization was given a fresh impetus.  But he can reshape the future with next week’s budget.

SEZs and Stakes for All

The government’s announcement of review of the policy on rehabilitation of land-losers in SEZs indicates the complexity and contention involved in land utilization and industrialization in a densely-populated, poor country like India.

Is National Health Insurance Viable in India?

The UPA government’s National Common Minimum Programme advocates a national health insurance scheme to help poor tide over the economic crises resulting from costs of illhealth. Is such insurance a viable option? This requires detailed examination, and a serious national debate. Several states are toying with such an idea of health insurance in recent months. Any hasty decisions without careful evaluation of costs and benefits will land the nation in a potentially no-win situation.

Real Estate, Black Economy and Equity

In the midst of robust growth indicators, one issue which is causing concern is the black economy and the role of real estate in that. Some estimates put this parallel economy between 25 and 50% of the accounted GDP.

Challenges in Agriculture

The union government’s announcement of the Rs.17,000 crore rehabilitation package for farmers in the 31 suicide-prone districts of AP, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra focuses attention on the plight of agricultural sector in a fast-growing economy. Emphasis on irrigation, interest waiver, watershed development, seed replacement and dairy industry is welcome.

Employment, Poverty and Productivity

The impact of economic liberalization on poverty levels in the country has been vigorously debated by economists and politicians over the years. The data seems inconclusive, and scholars often seem to arrive at conclusions suspiciously close to their own ideological proclivities. The broad consensus appears to be that poverty is declining; it is difficult to conclude that all the decline in poverty is attributable to liberalization and rapid growth; and the decline in poverty is less than what the free market enthusiasts hoped.

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