Times of India

A Budget speech you will never hear


It is Budget time again and next Thursday the finance minister will address  parliament with a speech which you will never hear except from my auto-wallah:   

To equate capitalism with greed is a mistake

On an evening in early October , the announcer at one of our premier news channels screamed 'greed' while describing the misdeeds of the latest victim of Arvind Kejriwal. Earlier that day, Mr Kejriwal had accused Robert Vadra of receiving favours from the real estate company DLF Ltd. In the next breath, the announcer explained that crony capitalism was at the root of the problem.

The loss of inheritance

The approach of another festival season raises the old question of the place of myth and classical culture in our contemporary lives. This is not an idle question—it forces one to confront the difficult problem of what it means to be fully and richly human. For millions of young Indians who have risen in recent years and are now part of the confused, upwardly mobile, post-reform internet generation, the question has a new urgency.

Don't turn Gurgaon into a Faridabad

It was the same question on everyone's lips. Aggrieved Suparna Prasad Dev asked, "If 50 policemen were at the scene, why didn't they act when a hundred Maruti workers brutally attacked managers and killed my husband?" When the police did finally act, it was too late. The factory was in flames, almost a hundred managers were bleeding, many injured seriously. Awanish Kumar Dev, head of human relations, was dead.

Will ‘tyranny of cousins’ decide who’ll rule in ’14?

Andimuthu Raja, former telecom minister, having spent 15 months in jail under trial in the 2G spectrum scam, received a hero’s welcome in Chennai a few weeks ago. The ecstatic crowds burst firecrackers for a man who was largely responsible for his party's defeat in Tamil Nadu’s election, demolishing India’s image in the eyes of the world, and bringing the government of India to its knees. Even bigger celebrations are planned next week when he visits his Nilgiris constituency and his hometown, Perambalur.

Don’t waste a good crisis, learn from the 1991 lessons

The arrest of Jagan Mohan Reddy, MP from Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh, is another reminder of a lesson that Indians have failed to learn so far. And this is that the root cause of corruption lies in the excessive discretionary authority in the hands of politicians and officials. The reforms in 1991 took away some of that discretion but many sectors of the economy are still unreformed.  Thus, scams happen in the dark alleys of unreformed sectors such as land transactions, mining, and government purchases. So, the answer to corruption may well lie in actions of the 1991 variety.

This crisis of authority does not have an easy fix

The sight of a weak prime minister humiliated repeatedly by a coalition partner has been too much for most Indians. Time and again Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal, has undermined actions of Manmohan Singh’s government that were approved by the Cabinet and patently in the nation’s interest. They have ranged from an agreement with Bangladesh over the sharing of waters of the Teesta river, foreign investment in the retail sector, a reformist Railway Budget, and more. The latest embarrassment has been over the setting up of a counter-terrorism centre.

The government is not above the rule of law

It takes a lot of doing to make the economy fall from a 9 per cent growth rate two and half years ago to 6.1 per cent in the quarter ending December. A fall of one per cent means the loss of almost 15 lakh jobs and so there is a lot of pain, mostly inflicted by the UPA government. Corruption scandals also refuse to cease. But the real tragedy is that the rule of law, one of India’s strengths, is crumbling.