Faster Growth at Low-cost – Is It Feasible?


Despite fractious politics and short-term populism, Indian growth rate at about 7% per annum, is next only to China’s among major economies.  This reflects the underlying strength of our economy.  However, comparisons with China are inevitable, given our comparable sizes, length of history and civilization, and somewhat parallel developments after the Second World War.

Creative Tension vs Endless Conflict

By all accounts, Mr Chidambaram presented a credible and creditable budget. He had to achieve balance in a complex situation – between political compulsions and fiscal prudence, quest for economic growth and concern for equity, and infrastructure needs and populist impulses.

Competing Strategies for Combating Poverty

The greatest challenge before India today is combating mass poverty and making lives of ordinary people bearable.  If dignity is denied to an Indian in 2004 AD, and people are forced to be hungry even as foodgrains are rotting in warehouses, then that is unacceptable.  If in 21st century poor Indians suffer in monsoon from torrents of rain for want of shelter over their heads, or shiver in cold, then that is a disgrace to our republic.

Ensuring Accountability in Local Governments

During the Chief Ministers’ Conference on June 29th 2004, the Prime Minister of India has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons by urging the Chief Ministers to consider the possibility of “providing block grants to districts based on their incidence of poverty to plan and implement strategies that optimize their resource potential.” This, he said, “would ensure that district level planning as envisaged in the Constitution Amendment on Panchayat Raj becomes a reality.”

Empowered Local Governments

A large-sized district in India is larger than about eighty (80) nation-states in the world in terms of population. Most of our larger states would be among the large nations of the world. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal - each would be the largest nation in Europe if independent. Even a truncated Uttar Pradesh would be the world's sixth largest nation! Given these mind-boggling demographic realities, coupled with unmatched diversity, our centralized, somewhat imperial style of governance is archaic and ineffective.

People, Politics and Prosperity

One of the paradoxes of modern democracies is that people want freedom, and yet they cannot stand politicians.

The national election study, 2004 conducted by CSDS shows that 88 percent of Indians favour democracy. Contrary to elite perceptions, most people value their liberty. The challenge is how to make living conditions measurably better without curbing liberties.

Political Economy of Criminalization and Corruption

align="left">The recent election results in Maharashtra and byelections in states reinforce the disturbing trends in our political economy. In Maharashtra, India’s leading industrial state with the highest per capita income among major states, neither of the major parties have shown the vision and sense of purpose to transform the economy and governance. With political process increasingly losing its legitimacy, a one-time mafia don, Arun Gawli, and a few others with notorious record of crime, have become law-makers.

Political Rigidities and Promise of Change

dir="ltr">After days of agonizing suspense, high drama and emotions, a new Union Council of Ministers took office under Dr Manmohan Singh’s stewardship.  The sage decision of Mrs Sonia Gandhi to stand aside has enhanced her personal prestige, helped the Congress party claim the high moral ground and prevented potentially disastrous national strife and polarization.

It is the States and Governance, Stupid!

dir="ltr">Harold McMillan famously said that one week was a long time in politics. NDA ignored that maxim in the exuberence which followed the victory of BJP in MP, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh in December. The stunning verdict in Lok Sabha polls brings us back to the realities of our politics.

No Substitute to Politics


dir="ltr">James M Lyngdoh – a man well-known for unimpeachable integrity and impartiality, is also famous for his intrepid and sharp remarks. His recent utterances deriding politicians created quite a flutter.

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