Times of India

Two months on, mantra’s clear: Less talk, more action

It’s been a little over two months since the Modi sarkar came to power. Too soon, perhaps, for a definitive assessment, but there are signs of change; patterns are emerging; and even hints of a larger picture. Where we had expected discontinuity there is surprising continuity. This may say something about the evolution of authority, a maturing of the Indian state. Those who expected big bang reforms are disappointed and those who feared an intolerant autocracy are reassured. Modi himself has been remarkably silent.

After months of talk, it’s go time for new PM

John Ruskin, the 19th century British art critic, once re marked that the greatest contribution that an aristocratic duke could make to the modern world would be to take a job as a grocer. This apparently bizarre suggestion goes to the heart of middle-class dignity -an idea that I identified in my last column to explain the significance of Narendra Modi’s victory. In our unequal, hierarchical Indian society, we need to correct our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life.

Modi’s moment is about middle class dignity

If Indians won their political freedom in August 1947 and their economic freedom in July 1991, they have attained dignity in May 2014. This is the significance of Narendra Modi’s landslide victory. The hopes and dreams of an aspiring new middle class have been affirmed for the first time in India’s history. Modi has made millions believe that their future is open, not predetermined, and can be altered by their own actions.

Modi shouldn't forget Fareed and millions like him

It has been an exhilarating month. We have marvelled at the sights and sounds of India's great election mela on our television screens. The image, most memorably etched in my mind is of a confident Muslim boy, Fareed, in a small town in Western UP. When the female interviewer asks his name, he retorts with a flirtatious smile, "Who wants to know?" He tells us proudly that the pucca street on which they are standing was a kaccha village road not long ago.

Secularism or growth? The choice is yours

This month’s national election may well be the most important in India’s history. Our country faces a limited window of oppor tunity called the ‘demographic dividend’ and if we elect the right candidate, prosperity will enter crores of lives. And in the course of time, India will become a middle class country. If we elect the wrong candidate, India will experience a ‘demographic disaster’ and the great hope of youth will turn into despair.

Elect to transform India with these eight big ideas

The world is divided between optimists and pessimists. Optimists believe that if the government invests in infrastructure, removes barriers facing entrepreneurs, jobs will multiply, the economy will grow, and the country will gradually turn middle class. Pessimists worry about problems— inequality, crony capitalism, degrading environment, etc. The problems are real but optimists focus on opportunities and lead nations to success.

Modern marriages aren’t made in heaven

In the past few weeks, sexual tragedies have blighted some prominent and attractive lives. Sunanda Pushkar, wife of the writer and minister, Shashi Tharoor, died recently in Delhi. Around the same time, the French First Lady, Valerie Treirweiler, had to be hospitalized in Paris. Both events followed revelations of alleged sexual affairs. Sunanda Pushkar accused her husband of an intimate relationship with a Pakistani journalist. Ms Treirweiler was devastated by the French president, Francois Hollande’s liaison with an actress; France’s first family split a few days later.

Inflation, not corruption, will be the key issue in LS polls

In the last assembly elections, the aam admi complained inconsolably of rising prices. TV clips showed voters quoting the prices of potatoes, onions, and dal. Pundits put it down to the ‘usual election whining’, but more than corruption, inflation turned out to be the reason for Congress’ defeat. Even though it has slowed a bit recently, all political parties are warned — the aam admi is not going to forget the pain of inflation in the coming general election. 

Desire or dharma: Dilemma that is as old as the vedas

Over the past few weeks we have been mesmerized by the tragic story of Tarun Tejpal. He was a moral voice to a whole generation, looked up to for courageous and uncompromising journalism. The evidence of sexual assault against the founder editor of Tehelka suggests that he not only failed a young colleague but collectively all journalists, workingwomen, and his legion of admirers. Millions of words have been written on this story but no one has explained why men in positions of power behave badly.

Our bullion-dollar troubles can end if India goes for gold

It was a subdued Diwali this year. Gold trading on Dhanteras was down by 50%. Traders blamed it on mostly on the lack of gold supply which was 83% lower than last year. But policy makers cheered. Their draconian policy of restricting gold imports was working. India’s trade deficit had declined and the rupee had calmed. But it is a temporary victory. Gold smuggling is on the rise and will eventually triumph, undermining a great victory of the 1991 reforms, which was to kill the havala market. There is breathing room, however, as gold forecasters expect world prices to fall.