Times of India | 08 April 2002

The past month has been the saddest in memory as the communal violence in Gujarat has not only diminished us all but has brought home the truth that Hannah Arendt uttered forty years ago, that evil, in the end, is banal. Some Indians have persistently asked, what let us down? Others wonder what do we dare to believe in now?

Read more
Times of India | 25 March 2002

Every Indian seems to have one impossibly romantic railway memory, and mine is of a journey from Kalka to Simla as a five year old when I feasted for the first time on the snow tipped crests of the Himalayas, and I later recounted it in “A Fine Family”. But these memories are rapidly dying, as are the railways. Today, the Indian Railways are in financial crisis, and if something drastic is not done, they will wither away like the state in Bihar.

Read more
Times of India | 11 March 2002

Like many Indians I was stupefied to read that the railways plan to bottle water. In that case, I thought, why don't they also grow tea (and wheat and rice) for their catering department? And cotton for their conductor's uniforms, and make shoes for the drivers while they are at it? Perhaps then we can get someone to run the trains safely. The issue is not bottled water but the astounding mindset of the railway board that is ignorant of the basic managerial concept of “core competence” and thinks that the railways with its inefficient, high cost labour can do it cheaper.

Read more
Times of India | 25 February 2002

Nothing in our country diminishes us more than our power situation. It reminds us everyday that we are a Third World country. We have lost ten years since we began electricity reforms, and had we made the same progress as we have in telecom, we would have been able to say proudly what a Chinese woman said to me in Shanghai recently, “I feel I am living in a different country.”

Read more
Times of India | 28 January 2002

A few years ago the respected head of a multinational company observed the unreal quality of our public discourse. He said that he had read our newspapers voraciously for two weeks and for every report on China he had counted eight on Pakistan. “To the world at large only China and India matter in Asia,” he said. “When people say that the 21st century will belong to Asia, they have China in mind, and then India. Japan doesn't count, because its demographics are wrong. Pakistan doesn't even exist in the big picture.

Read more
Times of India | 14 January 2002

The stubborn persistence of our software exports is a source of some embarrassment to our armchair intellectuals who have been regularly predicting their crash. Instead, they have kept growing by an amazing 50 per cent a year for more than a decade, and even in this worst year in the industry's history they will grow 30 per cent. Any other industry would die for this sort of constancy, and so would our cricket team.

Read more
Tribune | 18 September 2001

Isaiah Berlin, the Oxford philosopher used to say, “Men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals.” This is good advice in these troubled times when our minds on the sub-continent are so obsessed with war that all other thoughts have been crowded out. No positive goal of Berlin's, I believe, is more worthy of debate than the quality of the education that we are imparting to our young. Ever since the draft paper on the national education policy came out, the debate across the country has been hijacked by the secularists who rightly see subversive designs in the saffronisation of education. All attempts to give colour to education—whether saffron or Marxist—are bad, but the real problem is that in the process important issues relating the imparting of excellence and the intellectual development of the human personality have been lost.

Read more
Tribune | 11 February 2000

A few years ago, as a result of an unbelievable mix-up, I found myself at a party of middle-class youngsters in Delhi, mostly between 13 and 17 years old. Instead of making a quiet exit, I decided to stay, and make the most of it. The first thing I noticed at this teenage party is that the boys and girls were in separate corners. The boys were bragging and talking about adventurous things. The girls were giggling, speaking about clothes, gossiping about boys, and nervously sucking on Pepsi straws.

Read more
Tribune | 02 January 2000

Today is the first day of the twenty-first century and a good time to take stock.   The ascent of a country from poverty to prosperity, from tradition to modernity is a great and fascinating enterprise. India has recently emerged as a vibrant, free market democracy after the economic reforms and it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralised, bureaucratic state, which killed our industrial revolution over the past fifty years, has begun a subtle but definite decline.

Read more