Times of India

Future is Ours To Seek

             Two trends, one good and one bad, have defined India’s first decade of the 21st century. The good trend is that prosperity has begun to spread, largely as a result of high economic growth. The second trend is the simultaneous rise in corruption. The lazy minded will connect the two trends, but in fact they are quite independent. High growth has been fostered by economic reforms and corruption is due to the lack of the reform of state institutions.  

Wanted : A World Fit For Women

The conviction this week of Ajeet Singh Katiyar in Delhi in the notorious Dhaula Kuan gang rape case of a university student from Mizoram is good news. More important than the conviction is the 71 page judgement of the court which admonished the defence for maligning the victim and maintained that the private life of the victim is irrelevant. ‘A lady who has lost her virginity is not unreliable’ said the judge, whose verdict was primarily based on the victim’s consistent testimony.

Bring in reforms to prevent more Kodas

At a smart luncheon party in South Delhi this week something very peculiar happened. Someone blurted out, ‘These high and mighty guests are friends of Madhu Koda!’ This did not go well with our celebrity hostess, to whose discomfort the conversation soon went downhill as people sought the latest ‘juice’ on the Koda scandal. To my surprise, a consensus seemed to emerge that liberalization was at the root cause of corruption.

At last, good news about poverty

If only we would pause and look beyond the horizon of day to day events, we would see a trend of great significance. More people on the earth have risen out of poverty in the past 25 years than at any other time in human history, and this has happened primarily because of sustained high economic growth in India and China. Unlike China which has embraced growth enthusiastically, India has a vast industry of ‘poverty-wallas’, who incessantly raise doubts if our growth is pro-poor.

No ifs or buts, defeat Maoist violence

Arundhati Roy writes seductively. Recently I picked up her new book, Listening to Grasshoppers, and I was mesmerized by her luminous prose but I disagreed profoundly with her conclusions. I was revolted, in particular, by her support for violence. She regards Naxalism as armed resistance against a sham democracy. I call it terrorism.

Mukesh’s Sacrifice

Corporate Affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, created quite a stir recently when he warned companies to refrain from paying “vulgar salaries” or face the music. Mukesh Ambani took his advice and cut his salary by 65%. Flaunting wealth is distasteful; it is also imprudent when market capitalism is still trying to find a comfortable home in India. However, the minister was profoundly wrong. The trouble with judging other people’s lifestyle is that soon you are tempted to control other things, and this is a short step to the command economy. Not to live ostentatiously is a call of dharma, not a legal duty.

Is the middle path the way to peace with Pakistan?

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan are meeting today in New York to carry forward the peace dialogue begun at Sharm-el-Sheikh. India’s decision to meet has been prompted by Pakistan’s arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks. Many Indians feel cynical, however, about today’s meeting, especially after the disappointment at Sharm-el-Sheikh. Negotiating with a nation whose secret service might be plotting the next terrorist attack on you seems bizarre, but is there an alternative to the slow, maddening grind towards peace with our neighbour?

Let’s protect workers, not jobs

Anyone travelling in India by air must have got a sinking feeling last week when the Congress leader, Sanjay Nirupam, demanded that Jet Airways be nationalized. He raised the spectre of the ugly days when Indian Airlines had a monopoly of the skies before 1991. This would have effectively turned Jet Airlines from one of the world’s best airlines to one of the worst. Naresh Goyal, Jet’s founder, on the other hand, was scared of his pilots forming a union because of his memory of the 1974 Air India pilots’ strike which started the decline and fall of Air India.

The dilemma of a liberal Hindu


 With the rise in religious fundamentalism around the world, it is increasingly difficult to talk about one’s deepest beliefs, says Gurcharan Das

 I was born a Hindu, in a normal middle-class home. I went to an English-medium school where I got a modern education. Both my grandfathers belonged to the Arya Samaj, a reformist sect of Hinduism. My father, however, took a different path. While studying to be an engineer, he was drawn to a kindly guru who inspired him with the possibility of direct union with God through meditation. The guru was a Radhasoami saint, who quoted vigorously from Kabir, Nanak, Mirabai, Bulleh Shah and others from the bhakti and sufi traditions.

Adam Smith's Dharma

In January this year, President Sarkozy of France, former Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, kicked off a debate in Paris on the nature and the future of capitalism. It was in response to the global economic crisis. This article--my inaugural column for the Times on Saturday--is a contribution to this debate.

The idea that an ancient Indian epic might offer insight into capitalism's nature, on the face of it, appears bizarre.