Economic Times | 16 August 2003

Indians have good reasons to feel confident. Our economy has grown 5.9 percent per year since 1980, making it the fifth fastest growing major economy in the world over a 23 year period; this is not a case of one swallow making a summer. We may be well behind China, but remember that the West created its Industrial Revolution at a 3 percent growth rate over 100 years. More recently, our population growth has begun to slow, and in 1998 it was down to 1.7 percent compared to its historic 2.2 percent growth rate. Literacy has also begun to climb—it reached 65 percent in 2000 compared to 52 percent in 1990, with the biggest gains taking place among women and the backward states. More than 200 million Indians have risen out of destitution since 1980 as the poverty ratio has declined to 26 percent. And we may have finally found our competitive advantage in our booming software and IT services. Finally, all this has happened amidst the most appalling governance; imagine, what might happen if governance improved.

Read more
Times of India | 14 July 2003

I have an old friend in Mumbai and every once in a while, he will pause, sit back, and ask, how are we doing? How are we changing? A small but visible change, I told him last week, is the rich aroma of coffee in our bazaars. Thanks mainly to Barista, but also to Cafe Coffee Day, Quickies and others, the well-heeled young of a tea-drinking nation have found a fashionable place to hang out, and its women a safe public place to be sociable.

Read more
Times of India | 30 June 2003

When our tax refunds arrived in May, within six months of filing our return, we thought we were dreaming. Since it normally took years, something must be afoot we thought, and decided to pay North Block a visit. There we were astonished to learn that computers had already completed 95 per cent of this year's returns.

Read more
Times of India | 15 June 2003

On a recent lecture tour of America I found that Indians are regarded with new seriousness. Whether in a Bay Area restaurant or a Wall Street office or a Chicago hospital we are now perceived differently. Indian professionals abroad have succeeded in making India relevant: something our leadership of the non-aligned movement could never achieve.

Read more
Times of India | 01 June 2003

I made a new friend last week. Shashi Kumar is twenty-nine and comes from a tiny village in Bihar, where his grandfather used to be a low caste sharecropper in good times and a day labourer in hard ones. They were so poor that on some nights he didn't get to eat. But his father somehow escaped this bondage and got a job in a transport company in Darbhanga.

Read more
Times of India | 18 May 2003

Two weeks ago I met an old friend after a longish gap and he asked me what I had been up to. I admitted somewhat reluctantly that I had been wrestling with our ancient Sanskrit texts, but mostly in translation.

Read more
Times of India | 03 May 2003

Kevin lives in America but he is no different from most Indian nine-year-olds who do their arithmetic homework before dinner. One evening in February he worked diligently on the ratio of birds to worms and gave it the next day to his teacher, who was pleased that he had begun to grasp fractions. That evening Kevin showed his homework to his parents, who taped it on the fridge. On Saturday Kevin's mother casually threw the homework into the paper section of the family garbage, from where it was picked up and taken to Clifton, New Jersey's recycling centre.

Read more
Times of India | 20 April 2003

I wrote in my last column about how arbitrary and tenuous are our borders and how we should treat them with a bit of healthy contempt. The right attitude is to think of 'South Asia without Borders', which is the title of a seminar at Harvard, and which is consistent with the cosmopolitan Indian way of the first millennium AD, when Sanskrit was the subcontinent's common language of culture before the vernaculars rose.

Read more
Times of India | 05 April 2003

Whether it is the continuing ugly massacres in Kashmir or this dreadful war in Iraq, the truth is that far too many of the trouble spots in the world are the consequence of the frontiers created ad hoc by Britain's wicked old imperialism and the legacy of its divide and quit policy.

Read more
Times of India | 23 March 2003

For more than a decade now we in India have been moving in the direction of some form of capitalism. It is a much misunderstood and much reviled system, which seems to put everyone on the defensive, and one of our defence mechanisms is to use euphemisms like "the market" to describe it. The governance scandals involving Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson and others have confirmed to its detractors its evil nature. Although I am an apologist of this system, I too have been deeply concerned about some nasty myths that have taken hold inside the corporation in the past 15 years, which Henry Mintzberg and others have recently written about, and which might explain its recent failings.

Read more