Yale Global Online | 29 March 2005

Two reports appeared recently in my newspaper and they left me bewildered. The first said that the Karnataka government has still not decided to rescind its ban on English in primary schools despite huge popular pressure from parents. In the second report, a Karnataka minister, after a busy visit to China, announced, 'Members of the Standing Committee of the Jiangsu Provincial People's Congress wanted the help of the Karnataka government in teaching English in its primary schools'. This was in pursuit of its objective to make every Chinese literate in English by the 2008 Olympics. The contrast between the ambivalence of India and the certainty of China is always instructive.

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Time Magazine | 07 December 2004

India's rich are doing well, and good for them--but the growing middle class in the real story  

There will always be rich people and poor, but a good society Aristotle says, is the one “where the middle class is in control and outnumbers both the other classes." Yes, India has its share of billionaires, and a quarter of its people are poor, but the most striking characteristic of today's India is the explosive growth in the middle class.

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Outlook | 13 July 2004

It is no use pretending. While the last general election brought some good news--especially, a well deserved slap to Narendra Modi's fascist face—it also brought bad news. The hugely positive global sentiment in favour of India that had prevailed until mid May has received a setback. The clearest example is the dramatic slowdown in the growth in the nation's reserves. Until the week ended May 7, reserves had been growing at the rate of US $750 million a week. This accretion to reserves had diminished to less than US $100 million a week. The rupee has also reversed its appreciating trend. Although this may, in fact, be good for exports, but the currency trend combined with the stock market crash demonstrates that sentiment has changed, and if this is not reversed quickly it will hurt new private investment in the economy, and longer term growth, competitiveness, and jobs.    

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Outlook | 13 April 2004

“The country with the most impressive and intelligent secularist movement is India,” wrote Christopher Hitchens in the respected journal, Daedalus, last summer. Hitchens is a public intellectual who is read and listened to with some admiration on both sides of the Atlantic. He did not explain, but I think what he meant is that Indian secularism has acquired many voices and it seems to be maturing.

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Outlook | 26 February 2004

It is a month since the macabre dance of death in New York and Washington and we are now in the midst of a war, but I am not sure that we understand what this is all about. People around the world are uncomfortable and insistently ask whom is America fighting? Americans are also confused. They want to know who are their enemies and why do they hate us? And hate so much that that a few young men defied the instinct to live and died for it. The trouble is that America is at war against people it doesn't know, and having gone off to war, it can't very well return without having won it.

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Outlook | 26 February 2004

It is more than a month since the short, macabre dance of death in New York and Washington changed the world. We are now in the midst of a war, but many are uncomfortable and ask who is America fighting? Some are confused, and insistently ask why were they made targets of the September 11 attacks? They also wonder why is America disliked? And in this case, so hated that a few young men were willing to defy the basic human instinct for survival and die for what they believed to be a worthwhile cause.

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Outlook | 26 September 2003

The truth is that a decade after the reforms most Indian companies are floundering. With a couple of dozen exceptions the vast majority has failed to become truly competitive. Our companies have still not acquired the confidence or the skills to succeed in the global economy. Most continue with a “factory mindset” when the industrial age is disappearing. Most sell cheap, shoddy products.  

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Biblio | 14 September 2003

 

Medha M. Kudaisya, The life and Times of G.D. Birla, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003, 434 pages, Rs

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Seminar | 18 May 2003

In India Unbound I wrote about how India embraced democracy first and capitalism afterwards and this had made all the difference.1 India became a full-fledged democracy in 1950, with universal suffrage and extensive human rights, but it was not until 1991 that it opened up to a freer play of capitalist forces. This unique reversal, I think, explains a great deal about Indian society today, and particularly why the pace of reforms is so painfully slow.

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Seminar | 11 September 2002

The essay attempts to address the following issues related to the structure of Indian business:

1) Indian business is overwhelmingly owned and managed by families. Is a family firm necessarily at a disadvantage versus a professionally managed firm? Will an economy based on smaller family business grow slower or be disadvantaged compared to one based on large professional companies?

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