Times of India | 13 March 2006

'How is it that so many Indians are making it in the global economy?' This was a common refrain during President Bush's recent visit.   I looked for answers in India's education system for a recent essay for an American magazine, and concluded that success belonged to students rather than teachers, and the real victory might lie with parents and their middle class insecurities—it's a rare Indian mother who will step out of the house in the evening during exam season.

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Times of India | 27 February 2006

For a country that was widely regarded as 20th century's great disappointment, it must feel good that the 21st has begun rather nicely. India is today one of the world's fastest growing economies, and there is even talk of it becoming a great power. No doubt Mr Bush will also remind us of it this week. I must confess, however, that such talk leaves me cold.

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Times of India | 13 February 2006

The recent controversy over Islamic cartoons in Europe is once again testing the boundaries of religious tolerance. Most Hindus, of course, believe that they are tolerant and trace their broadmindedness to their many gods. Some even ask: how did our tolerant pluralism turn into the intolerance of Hindutva?

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Times of India | 30 January 2006

We are not a cooperative people, and some even accuse us of a crab's mentality—we'd rather bring down the next guy than see the team win. So, when 20,000 volunteers from 700 institutions collaborate to test 332,971 village children in 484 districts at a breakneck pace, within a month that is a victory of sorts. It also says something about our voluntary movement. Where civil society begins to flourish democracy has taken hold, says de Tocqueville, and this is worth celebrating on this 57th birthday of our Republic.

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Times of India | 16 January 2006

Last month I visited the 'post-secular world'. I found myself sitting next to a group of white Americans on a train from Washington to New York, who told me blandly that I would go to hell because I believed in abortion and evolution. I had heard that Bush's America had turned religious, but I could not imagine how much till that morning. I was their captive for three hours, and they decided to do their good deed and try to convert me to their faith.

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Times of India | 02 January 2006

We live in unusual times. Who would have imagined in 1991, when communism died and our reforms began, that fourteen years later the Indian republic would become hostage to the extraordinary influence of the Left? For almost two years now, it has been instructive to observe the mind of the Indian Left. And if one compares it to the Chinese communist mind, the result is a guide to clear thinking.

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Times of India | 19 December 2005

Sheila Dixit may be one of our best chief ministers, but Elattuvalapil Sreedharan will do more to knit the vast and disparate people of Delhi into one wholesome community. I rode in his Metro the other day and I came away convinced that we are about to create a new public culture in the nation's capital. The Metro was clean, quiet, and efficient, as I had expected, but I also felt a sudden bond with strangers. For twenty-two minutes, as I rode in the comfort which the Mughal Emperor would have envied, I observed people recover some of the grace and friendliness that they normally reserve for relatives and friends. I felt connected to every person on the train. It was the same feeling I had as a child when I first rode on Mumbai's suburban train in the 1950s.

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Times of India | 05 December 2005

Nitish Kumar's victory in Bihar reminds us what a young country we are. The young look to the future, not the past, and Laloo's appeal to caste had to fail ultimately because it sought to undo the wrongs of the past. The young want to make something of their life, and they look to the government to enable them to do so. Congress learned this lesson painfully in the winter of 2003 in the west central states. The difference is that to bijlee, sadak, pani, the young Bihar voter has added padhai and naukari.

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Times of India | 21 November 2005

I was deeply embarrassed last week before a distinguished audience of sophisticated investors abroad—they virtually called me a liar. A year ago I had reassured them that our stellar reformers–Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Montek–would not only ensure that our economic reforms would continue but they might even accelerate. A year later, the reforms are stuck and they were angry. I could not pretend that the reformers had become victims of coalition politics, for insiders tell me that the problem is with the Congress Party itself, which has lost the will to reform.

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Times of India | 07 November 2005

When I was growing up in post-Independence In

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