Governance & Reforms

  • 5G tech will pave way for new applications, services & solutions

    Asian Age, October 30, 2019

    Apart from these already known use cases, 5G will also present various opportunities for start-ups for devising new business models and services in various sectors such as entertainment, transportation, healthcare, education, etc.

  • The key to Indian economy is in better wages for the masses

    Economic Times, October 11, 2019

    As per the latest World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Development Index, India ranked at a low 62nd out of 74 emerging economies. While the incidence of poverty has declined over the last five years, sixty per cent of Indians still live on less than Rs 230 per day. This, alas, is accompanied by inequality both in terms of income and wealth.

  • Can India’s Multi-Polar Commitments in the Indo-Pacific be a Game-Changer for the U.S.?

    The Wire, September 21, 2019

    There is no dearth of converging narratives between India and the U.S. But it depends upon how agile the US can be in accepting India’s stance on Afghanistan, Iran, and the Indo-Pacific.

  • Use Crisis as an Opportunity to Restart Reforms, Lessen Winners-Losers Divide

    Deccan Chronicle, September 20, 2019

    The current situation needs to be presented as a timely opportunity to push the national integration agenda of the government.

  • Ease of running a business: What Siddhartha forces us to reflect on

    Asian Age, August 23, 2019

    Siddhartha wanted to be a “wealth creator”, as do thousands of entrepreneurs who open startups in India every year.

  • Budget 2019 is long on infrastructure development but short on human development

    Financial Express, July 09, 2019

    Budget 2019-20: For employment generation, the government intends to boost agro-rural industries through cluster based development with a focus on bamboo, honey and khadi clusters.

  • Government needs to do much more to attract investments

    Outlook India, July 05, 2019

    Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman”s Union Budget 2019-20 presented the vision of India becoming a $5 trillion economy in the next few years driven by the ”virtuous cycle” of investment.

  • Positive signals from G-20 meet as diplomacy triumphs over rhetoric

    Asian age, July 02, 2019

    The just-concluded (June 28-29) Osaka G-20 summit witnessed a conciliatory approach on the part of American President Donald Trump on a range of issues threatening global peace and security. Not only that, he agreed to resume talks with China to resolve their bilateral disputes over the treatment of trade and technology, he showed conciliation towards other pressing issues such as 5G technology and Iran.

  • India must take jobs to its people and not vice-versa

    Live Mint, June 26, 2019

    One of the first things that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done in his second term is to set up two separate yet interlinked cabinet committees on investment and growth and employment and skill development, both to be headed by him.

  • Leave no one behind’, the agenda for Modi Sarkar 2.0

    Live Mint, May 26, 2019

    The last general elections broke all caste barriers and people overwhelmingly voted for Narendra Modi and his candidates. There were two remarkable things, among others, that Modi said in his victory speech that struck me.

  • If lateral entry of experts helps better governance, why not lateral exit too?

    Asian Age, May 16, 2019

    On April 12, 2019, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) announced nine candidates as lateral entrants to serve as joint secretaries in various ministries of the Government of India.

  • Building Consumer Trust On Data Driven Innovation

    Modern Ghana, March 11, 2019

    15th March is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day and also the National Consumers Day in India and many other countries. The day was chosen because John Kennedy, then President of the US declared the consumer Bill of Rights to the US Congress in 1961.

  • The role of finance commissions in sustainable development

    Live Mint, March 04, 2019

    They need to play their part by recommending empowerment of local governments to enable good governance.

  • An e-commerce policy based on assumptions is unlikely to fulfill our aspirations

    Money Control, March 04, 2019

    The e-commerce policy needs to be forward looking and informed by ground realities. It needs to design well-thought out strategies through comprehensive stakeholder consultation.

  • Posturing not enough, only promoting SEZs will bolster FDI inflow

    Asian Age, March 01, 2019

    The government had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of industrialist Baba Kalyani to review the SEZ policy.

  • The potential of AI in empowering consumers

    Live Mint, January 09, 2019

    In April 2018, the department of economic development, Dubai, launched a “Smart Protection” service, which adopts Artificial Intelligence (AI) to respond efficiently to consumer queries and resolve their complaints.

  • Why ‘competitive federalism’ could help to boost India’s eco rankings

    Asian Age, December 05, 2018

    The recently-released “Doing Business Report 2019” by the World Bank gives a big boost to India in our efforts of promoting business entry. The country has jumped 23 places since last year and has been ranked 77th out of 190 economies this year in the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) ranking.

  • Improving the business climate

    Live Mint, November 27, 2018

    The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report is out and the government has lapped it up for obvious reasons. No large country has registered gains like India in the past couple of years. The government deserves credit where it is due.

  • Who will lead India’s transition in adopting electric vehicles

    Asian Age, October 30, 2008

    According to the World Health Organisation, 14 of the planet’s 15 most polluted cities are in India.

  • Empirical knowledge needed for job creation

    Live Mint, October 29, 2018

    We need to get down to the ground, at an enterprise level, to assess what works and why, and what it is that make enterprises value human resources.

  • Civil society can play a crucial role in managing global affairs

    The Asian Age, September 12, 2018

    The UN Day for South-South Cooperation is commemorated on September 12 every year. This year as the celebrations unfold it will help to revisit the role that civil society can play in far more empowered yet dynamic global south — one that is defined by rapidly changing geo-politics and multipolar world.

  • The riddle of greening Indian transport

    The Asian Age, June 20, 2018

    Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be India’s missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of green mobility.

  • Foreign policy from the prism of currency

    Live Mint, June 14, 2018

    It is the season of high-profile conferences. At the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue held at Singapore recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined his vision for the Indo-Pacific region, extending from the shores of Africa to the Americas.

  • India will have arrived when yoga becomes yog again

    Asian Age, February 28, 2018

    The opportunity may perhaps lie in the new foreign policy articulation from the United States.

  • The perils of going digital with an imperfect design

    The Asian Age, February 15, 2018

    For the contemporary world, digitisation is like a superhero; helping and selfless. Not only does it help individuals but regions and countries as well. This is the reason there was much buzz on digitisation at the last WTO ministerial, G20, APEC, Brics and so on.

  • Dismantle barriers to prosperity

    Live Mint, January 30, 2018

    Every year, in the months preceding the Union budget, the finance minister conducts a customary consultation exercise with relevant stakeholders to seek their “suggestions” for the budget. All stakeholders of similar categories are grouped together and different groups are met separately, disregarding any possibility of discussion on diverging interests and the need to achieve a balance.

  • Delivering pro-poor development

    Live Mint, January 03, 2018

    The government must take appropriate steps to reinvigorate the rural economy for both economic and political reasons But for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relentless campaigning, inability of the Congress to highlight limitations in the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA’s) urban development model, the role of None of the Above (NOTA) option, and copious amount of luck, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would have lost its Gujarat bastion.

  • India needs entrepreneurs, not survivors

    The Asian Age, November 10, 2017

    The latest to join the list of important days in India is November 9, which has just been added to celebrate the National Entrepreneurship Day. Interestingly, it comes at a time when India has reported a significant improvement in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings even though the country is still ranked at a low 100th position.

  • In a digital democracy, who owns our data?

    The Asian Age, September 01, 2017

    A private bill on data protection introduced in Parliament by BJD MP Jay Panda, too, spells out the need for “data portability”.

  • A fundamental right to create jobs

    Live Mint, August 22, 2017

    To ensure large-scale job creation, the freedom to create jobs must be on a par with other freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

  • Will a New Vice-Chairman Mean a New NITI Aayog?

    The Wire, August 09, 2017

    The success of Rajiv Kumar’s tenure, who has moved from the left of the ideological spectrum to the right, will depend whether he succeeds in moving the Aayog away from being a government mouthpiece and creating a shared narrative around job creation.

  • NITI Aayog: An institution to fix implementation issues

    Live Mint, July 24, 2017

    NITI Aayog is responsible for monitoring and evaluating government schemes but its performance is below par During his last monthly radio address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the importance of constructive criticism in strengthening democracy and the government’s performance.

  • Digital economy: An enabler or disabler?

    The Asian Age, July 19, 2017

    A few decades since, we have witnessed a lot of such concepts turning into reality, courtesy technology and innovation.

  • Getting GST right

    Tribune India, June 19, 2017

    Prevent overcharging and ensure benefits are passed on to customers. AFEW days remain for the adoption of the first-ever competition reform since Independence to create a seamless national market without any distortions.

  • Doubling of farmers’ income needs more imagination

    Asian Age, June 05, 2017

    There is enough evidence that increasing productivity does not necessarily result in increase in farm incomes.

  • NITI Aayog and the emperor’s clothes

    Live Mint, May 25, 2017

    Instead of letting the government set the agenda, NITI Aayog needs to inform the government of its failings.

  • Economically responsible justice

    Live Mint, April 27, 2017

    Judges need to understand the complex linkages between various areas of governance and economic and legal activity today.

  • Beyond governance by intentions

    Live Mint, April 10, 2017

    Narendra Modi may claim that the intent behind his policies is good, but he must go beyond this to good implementation.

  • Little sign of change in aftermath of notebandi

    The Asian Age, February 28, 2017
    Modi had promised that inconvenience caused by the decision will soon end and he certainly didn’t expect it to last this long.

  • Digital society’s many disruptions

    Live Mint, February 22, 2017

    The digital revolution will go well beyond the disruption of industries; the entire social contract will have to be renegotiated.

  • Better, faster Net options needed

    The Asian Age, February 10, 2017

    Information provisioning, more than that available, can help consumers compare and decide on their purchases.

  • The right processes for a good budget

    Live Mint, January 24, 2017

    A transparent policymaking process is necessary for taking the right decision and obtaining a buy-in from stakeholders.

  • Let CAG do reviews, not Aayog

    The Asian Age, January 05, 2017

    A review of the performance of such bodies appears in order; but the question is who should do such a comprehensive review?

  • Sustaining transition to a digital economy

    The Live Mint, December 28, 2016

    Don’t assume that the recent surge in online transactions is an irreversible move towards a digital economy.

  • Heralding the Digital Economy Isn’t Enough, Can India Exploit it for Job Creation?

    The Wire, December 14, 2016

    Leveraging the job creation opportunity presented by the digital economy is a ‘natural fit’ for India, with demonetisation the perfect exercise for it.

  • It Is Time to Address India’s Abysmal Job Creation Record

    The Wire, November 25, 2016

    More than 550 jobs were lost each day in the last four years in India, placing it behind Bangladesh and Vietnam in terms of job creation.

  • Improving India’s job creation ranking

    Live Mint, November 15, 2016

    Structural reforms in factor markets are key for this labour-surplus economy to offer productive employment.

  • Note ban: Centre didn’t plan properly

    Deccan Chronicle, November 15, 2016

    It is essential for the government to think through all the implementation-related challenges of its policies.

  • India’s ease of doing biz isn’t just about permits

    The Asian Age, November 09, 2016

    When the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings showed that India has only gone up by one notch from 131 to 130, it sent the whole government into a tizzy. At the same time, the department of industrial policy and promotion with the World Bank also put out a comparison of Indian states on how their Eodb has been performing.Thus, India has been lately focusing more on the aspect of ease of doing business.

  • How Does India Score Well on Competitiveness But Poorly on Ease of Doing Business?

    The Wire, October 17, 2016

    If India is to become truly competitive, the government must improve efficiency and transparency of public administration among other factors. It’s that time of year when the topic of competitiveness is again making headlines.

  • Time has come for ‘Move India’

    The Hindu Business Line, June 29, 2016

    In the monsoon session of Parliament, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is likely to see the light of the day. That would be one of the most significant competition reforms India would adopt in recent times to create an internal market.

  • Make in India: Governance is the key

    The Asian Age, May 31, 2016

    In the context of a nation, organic change is always in the making. It is slow but steady, whereas sudden paradigm changes happen when either organic churning reaches the tipping point or a strong leadership takes charge.

  • Right path to a sustainable future

    The Hindu Business Line, May 26, 2016

    India needs to grow 10 per cent a year for the next one and a half decades if it has to become a $10-trillion economy and get rid of poverty. This was the central message of a recent presentation made by Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, to the Prime Minister.

  • Create a benchmark for quality education

    The Asian Age, May 23, 2016

    At two separate public events recently, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant laid great emphasis on health and education. India, he stressed, cannot register high growth for long without a good education (and healthcare) network; and for a good education system to develop, we must pose a challenge for states and assess their performance on a real-time basis.

  • Bureaucracy has had it too easy

    The Hindu Business Line, April 14, 2016

    Only now are they in the line of fire. Some lateral thinking is required to reform the administration.
    This seems to be a season of some good news as far as administrative reforms for economic growth is concerned. The commerce department at the nudge of the Prime Minister’s Office is considering setting up a large specialised team to negotiate international trade deals. Such a team would comprise specialists drawn from the Indian Trade Service, Indian Foreign Service and trade lawyers.

  • Investment in India: A few seductive tricks

    Economic Times, March 15, 2016

    Downgrading India as an investment destination seems to be the flavour of the season for international rating agencies. Ambiguous and inconsistent regulatory and policy architecture must shoulder a significant portion of the blame.

  • Obstacles to cooperative federalism

    Business Line, February 19, 2016

    The bureaucracy has been unable to take it forward, thanks to its reluctance to share information and ideas.

  • Protect intellectual property, for starters

    Business Line, January 22, 2016

    The government is on a high gear to induce growth and create new jobs through wider entrepreneurship, the latest endeavour being the grand launch of the Start Up India campaign last week. Technology will play a critical role in this effort.

  • Indian industry’s fundamental flaw

    The Hindu Business Line, December 24, 2015

    Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” The Centre’s ‘Make in India’ initiative also aims at transforming India into a manufacturing leader and thus, is being promoted aggressively by the Prime Minister on all platforms.

  • What about ease of doing farming?

    The Hindu Business Line, December 10, 2015

    The ministry of agriculture was renamed recently as the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare. A welcome step and, perhaps, the Centre will devote better attention to farmers’ welfare and not just agriculture.

  • A renewed effort to achieve acche din

    The Hindu Business Line, November 26, 2015

    A cycle of low consumption impacting production needs to be arrested. Industry and agriculture require urgent reforms.
    If the NDA government is elected today, with the mandate up to early 2019, what should its agenda be? No doubt, the objective should be sustainable and inclusive development aka acche din. But what steps can government take in three-years to generate visible benefits for it to get re-elected?

  • Rebooting NDA 2.0

    The Hindu Business Line, November 12, 2015

    The Bihar result is a wake-up call to the Centre to push economic and governance reforms through consensus rather than filibustering. The results do not mean that the people have lost confidence in the Union government. But it has reinforced the need to ensure that reforms become sustainable through a wider consensus.

  • Stabilise the civil services

    The Asian Age, October 15, 2015

    The need for good governance has never been more urgent. It’s high time India not only implements the SC’s orders in relation to civil service and police reforms, but also makes them democratic..As French director and one of the founders of the French New Wave, Francois Truffaut said: “The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure.”.

  • Why States must mean business

    The Hindu Business Line, October 02, 2015

    Narendra Modi faced a barrage of comments during his recent interactions with American business honchos in New York. In unison, they said he was doing good work but must continue to do more, and faster. They were not shy in referring to a host of obstacles such as complex regulations, excessive approvals, confusing bureaucracy, red-tapism, taxation issues, poor infrastructure, etc. “It is not an easy place to do business” said one gentleman.

  • India’s change of tack on climate issue

    Business Line, September 17, 2015

    The upcoming submission deadline for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for the Paris Climate Summit in the present month and India hosting a meeting of Like Minded Developing Countries for the purpose, has focussed the attention of the entire international community on New Delhi, India being the last major player which is yet to announce its INDC. India will deliver soon, but on her own terms.

  • Restoring law and order in Parliament

    The Hindu Business Line, August 21, 2015

    “The monsoon session of the parliament was washed out due to flooding of the well of the house,” says the contemporary weekly hoarding of Nana Chudasama on Marine Drive in Mumbai. This hoarding, carrying thoughtful remarks on contemporary issues, is an icon of Mumbai broadly reflecting the public sentiment. This sentiment has been echoed by none else than the President. The President is empowered, under Article 86(2) of the Constitution, to send specific or general messages to either house of Parliament.

  • When nothing is resolved in court

    The Hindu Business Line, July 09, 2015

    India’s dispute resolution mechanisms are in bad shape, leading to abysmal contract enforcement. This must change. Conflict management is a complex art. Researchers have spent a lifetime identifying approaches and skills necessary to manage conflict resolution. Situations get further complicated in commercial disputes where high financial stakes are involved. To manage such situations, two draft legislations have recently been issued in public domain by the government. These are the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015; and the Public Contracts (Resolution of Disputes) Bill, 2015.

  • Base NPE on credible data

    The Asian Age, July 09, 2015

    There’s no comprehensive and systematic data on the education system in India, and where it exists the government does not seem too serious about it… HRD minister Smriti Irani said the ministry would favour its own surveys over those conducted by ASER..

  • Good days for real estate

    Amar Ujala, July 06, 2015

  • There’s a gap between policy and practice

    The Hindu Business Line, May 29, 2015

    The Modi government seems to settle for big ideas, hoping that good execution will follow. But that’s a big ask“ You are what you settle for,” quipped Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter. This appropriately sums up NDA government’s approach during its first year in office Let’s take financial sector regulation. After making a big bang announcement in the Budget, the Finance Minister had to rollback his proposal to establish a ‘separate’ — note that the term ‘independent’ has been intentionally avoided — Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA). The government will now consult the RBI and come up with a detailed roadmap for a new agency. And there is no clarity if and when this roadmap will be made public.

  • Jan Dhan – easier said than done

    The Hindu Business Line, May 01, 2015

    The unfolding of the financial inclusion tale in India provides significant lessons about the need for regulators and market players to come together…Two recent initiatives aim to completely transform this scenario. First, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), which saw the opening of 12.54 crore bank accounts and issued 11.08 crore RuPay debit cards by January 2015. Second, technological innovations, which have enormous potential to cut costs, making business sense to cater to the rural populace on the ground.

  • Land Bill, a step in the right direction

    Amar Ujala, April 13, 2015

    Land Bill, a step in the right direction
    The Hindu Business Line, April 02, 2015
    The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 — also known as the Land Acquisition Bill — has kicked up a storm. Given that the title is the objective of the Bill, one wonders why it could not be labelled simply as Fair Land Acquisition Act. It would replace the old 2013 Act unanimously adopted by the Parliament. Faced with implementation problems, the current government has sought to make it simpler and is being labelled as anti-farmer. Alas, as in all such cases, politics may trump economics.

  • Let’s get down to business

    Asian Age, April 06, 2015

    What India needs is a coherent and systematic approach. While the urgency shown by the new government to bring about necessary reforms to help businesses is promising, it needs to be followed equally ardently with action

  • States may not get more funds, after all

    The Hindu Business Line, March 20, 2015

    …There seems to be a gap between Centre’s and States’ understanding in funding of development programmes, which needs to be urgently bridged. The Centre needs to clearly explain the rationale and impact of the changed devolution pattern, share of different States in schemes supported by Centre, and the need for States to raise own resources, should they wish to continue the programmes that remain underfunded…The NITI Aayog, currently occupied with the evaluation of social and economic schemes in partnership with the States, is probably best placed to do this task on behalf of the Centre.

  • Budget strives for a competitive and growth oriented Rajasthan

    DNA, Mach 11, 2015

    The budget has emphasised on construction of roads for connection between villages, and making land banks available for industries. To adequately focus on labour issues, the government has proposed establishment of a non-resident labour cell, and dedicated skill and employment department. In addition, commercial training of artisans has also been proposed. The government must be appreciated for the efforts it has made to capitalise factor conditions.

  • The FCRA-NGO conundrum

    The Asian Age, March 06, 2015

    A survey done by Institute of Rural Management, Anand in October 2012 showed that Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) is an ineffective legislation as it controls only US$2bn, which is only about two per cent of the total foreign funds that come into the country. So why should the voluntary sector be singled out for money-laundering, the study asks. Better monitoring mechanisms are required rather than curbing.

  • What sort of federalism do we want?

    The Hindu Business Line, March 05, 2015

    Ever since the Modi government assumed office, the chant of ‘cooperative federalism’ has grown louder. First, the Cabinet resolution on the creation of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog spelt it out and 40 days later the e-book on the new body reiterated the same. The sudden entry of competitive federalism in the government document seems like a crucial afterthought.

  • Small industry needs a better policy deal

    The Hindu Business Line, February 20, 2015

    If the Make in India campaign has to be successful and help many in our country, we need to focus on enabling small units to function and contribute. A major problem small and medium units face is that of finance. Banks and financial institutions are always very wary of assisting them in an optimal manner because of mistrust and the fear of bad debts. But if we see how big business houses are defaulting on their commitments, figures of which run into lakhs of crores, the losses arising out of defaults in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector seem quite insignificant.

  • Time for ‘seller beware’

    Asian Age, February 12, 2015

    The Budget must introduce a shift in the manner consumers are dealt with in the country. A change from the hitherto sectoral perspective to deal with consumer issues to a principles-based approach on issues of consumer saving, investment and expenditure is required.

  • For that perfect blend of policies

    The Hindu Business Line, February 06, 2015

    The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will confer with an eminent group of economists on the possible agenda for the brand new National Institution for Transforming India Aayog (Niti) Aayog. On January 16, at a recent global business summit the Prime Minister said that development has to become a people’s movement. Indeed, this will be an imperative because trust has to be gained of the people at large, which can be reached by good and dispassionate civil society groups.

  • How not to contain the fiscal deficit

    The Hindu Business Line, January 22, 2015

    India is in a precarious situation. More than eight months into the current fiscal, fiscal deficit is almost breaching the annual target; revenue receipts are not reaching even half the yearly target; and over ₹8 lakh crore are pending in direct tax recoveries. Future steps would demonstrate if the government has a long-term strategy in place for fiscal governance…Therefore, containing deficits is important. However, it must be noted that in doing so means are as important as ends. Use of unsuitable means, while providing short-term relief, compromises the ability of a country to develop a long-term fix.

  • Niti Aayog: No quick fix

    The Asian Age January 20, 2015

    As an institution, Niti Aayog will have to emerge as a credible lean knowledge body or a think tank. In doing so, it needs to be equipped to think through sound policy initiatives for the medium term and beyond to grow the pie. In order to do that, it must have the ability to envision future scenario and suggest corrective steps when required. Secondly, it must also revive the Independent Evaluation Office rather than depend upon an in-house body that has so far proved to be ineffective. In doing all this effectively, it will have to build up sustainable partnerships with the private sector, trade unions, media, think tanks and CSOs. In its second role, it needs to deliver directional and strategic recommendations to the governments on the developmental process. With no clarity on the fate of five-year and annual plans, it remains uncertain how Niti Aayog will achieve this.

  • Addressing civic indiscipline in Jaipur needs education & enforcement

    DNA, January 12, 2015

    Jaipur continues to take baby steps to achieve its dream of becoming a world class city, but a change in our mindsets is a precursor to its realisation, which is not the government’s responsibility alone. Another act of civic indiscipline is defacement of our road signage. There is a law against defacement, which includes a liability of the poster owner, but enforcement is nil…In the ultimate analysis, it is we the citizens of this beautiful city who have to take up the cudgels of dealing with indiscipline through education and enforcement, and ask the authorities to cooperate.

  • A $10 trillion economy by 2030?

    The Hindu Business line, January 09, 2015

    A strong national market backed by clean procurement policies and realistic fiscal management can take us there. While the general mood in the country seems buoyant, the business sentiment is not quite in sync. The reasons are well known, but there is ardent hope for progress under Narendra Modi. We need to cross the Rubicon of 5 per cent-plus growth rate and aim for at least 6 per cent in the new financial year, with the goal of turning India into a US$10tn economy by 2030 in absolute terms.

  • Too much adhocism in disinvestment

    The Hindu Business Line, December 19, 2014

    There is no long-term strategy or objective informing the exercise. This has led to misgivings in various quarters. Every other day, the government announces disinvestment in PSUs and State-owned banks, and some issues are put out in the market. But there does not appear to be any designed strategy to carry out the disinvestments.

  • ‘Make in India’ Campaign is also necessary

    Amar Ujala, November 14, 2014

  • Future of Jan Dhan Yojana

    The Asian Age, December 05, 2014

    Ever since bank nationalisation took place in 1969, many schemes aimed at financial inclusion have been launched. Most have flopped. There is a danger of the same thing happening with the Jan Dhan Yojana. The Jan Dhan Yojana should be looked as just one of the multiple approaches to achieve financial inclusion. Only a holistic framework inclusive of the Jan Dhan Yojana, financial education, specialised products, improved infrastructure can result in effective financial inclusion. But that requires political will, bureaucratic support and persistent persuasion by the regulator.

  • Should we make in India or in Bharat?

    The Hindu Business Line, December 05, 2014

    The Make in India campaign seems to be focused on big industries in big cities. But it is time to see how micro, small and medium enterprises in rural India can be a force multiplier. Whenever anyone mentions the word ‘rural’, what springs to mind is farming. But more than 65 percent of rural labour is engaged in non-farm livelihood activities, or the Rural Non-Farm Economy (RNFE). The majority of rural labour is involuntarily engaged in low-skill, low-paid, tertiary-level jobs. Their lot can be improved if a synergy is created between Make in India and Make in Bharat.

  • Growth is possible if bureaucracy delivers & works transparently

    Daily News Analysis, December 02, 2014

    …all good things will happen only when the bureaucracy delivers, transparently and is accountable. Many good ideas have suffered due to cynicism, corruption and chalta hai attitude and that will require the personal attention and commitment of the supremo, the chief minister.

  • An ombudsman for investor grievances

    The Hindu Business Line, November 23, 2014

    Narendra Modi’s government has been successful to an extent in altering perceptions about the business climate in India. It started from a very low base, when policy paralysis ruled the environment. But it is yet to succeed in changing the mindset of the bureaucracy. The dream of a business-friendly India will become a reality only when businesses and investors have an impartial avenue to get their grouses settled swiftly. Ombudsmen at all levels will be pivotal in achieving this.

  • Will India ever change?

    The Hindu Business Line, November 06, 2014

    In spite of improving on some parameters, India has slipped down two notches in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ from 140 to 142 out of 189 countries in the last World Bank 2014 rankings report. The slide in position is also due to the fact that other countries have improved considerably since 2013. This wake-up call has provoked the Government to respond that our rankings will improve next year as massive efforts are on to take us to the 50th position in the not so distant future. This is conflated with the ambitious programme of maximising ‘Make in India’.

  • The administrative route to growth

    The Hindu Business Line, October 26, 2014

    All secretaries to the Government of India should have received ‘outstanding’ grading over their last five annual appraisals, by and large, otherwise they won’t be eligible to claim the coveted title. As one babu quipped, if all of them are ‘outstanding’, why is their performance so average as evident from the poor results in many cases? Granted, truly excellent officers have to work with average colleagues and an archaic system, and cannot really work as lone rangers.

  • A clean-up for Make in India

    The Hindu Business Line, October 10, 2014

    It’s time to sweep away the pervasive red tape that makes India one of the most difficult places in which to do business. The Clean India campaign can serve as an inspiration and a metaphor. After all, we also need to clean up the maze of regulations to enable a success of the Make in India campaign. Both need a blitzkrieg approach…As with the Clean India project, the Make in India project requires will, a national campaign and a huge change in mindset. This includes getting rid of fears surrounding the endeavour to industrialise, create jobs and entrepreneurs, and ameliorate poverty.

  • For a political consensus on reforms

    The Hindu Business Line, September 26, 2014

    A pact between major parties would end the prevailing climate of adhocism and policy uncertainty. Our polity is quixotic. One party proposes a reform when in government and then opposes it when in opposition. When in opposition, it flags an excuse that it does not agree with some provisions. The recent amendment Bill on expanding the foreigners’ stake from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in the insurance sector was opposed by the Congress party when brought forward by the National Democratic Alliance.

  • Modi’s creative destruction at work

    The Hindu Business Line, September 12, 2014

    When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of the Planning Commission and establishing a new think tank, many were astounded. He was responding to calls by many that the plan body has outlived its utility in a market-driven economy, while it was relevant and useful in our early years. However, he recognised the need for a central think tank which would work closely with the Union Government and our states in pushing the reform and development agenda. Plainly, Modi is a political entrepreneur who has marketed himself brilliantly in the last general elections. He aspires to see India become a developed country and will not do it walking down a beaten path.

  • Licence raj has been replaced by a resource raj

    Hindustan times, August 28, 2014

    While Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech inter alia highlighted petty corruption, it was RBI governor Raghuram Rajan who made a frontal attack on crony capitalism, i.e. big-bang corruption in another speech. Both cancers have to be attacked. Hopefully this phenomenon will subside if the government is as serious as it claims to be. What is crony capitalism? It happens when business colludes with the polity and bureaucracy to gain unfair advantages, like the 2G spectrum scam or the Coalgate affair when a handful of oligarchs got favours without any competition or proper procedures. Just these two scams cost the nation in excess of Rs. 300,000 crore, according to CAG estimates.

  • Institutions vs organisations in the reform agenda

    Business Standard, August 22, 2014

    Among several adrenaline-pumping measures, three points of Narendra Modi in his scintillating speech on Independence Day stood out. First, his ridicule of the siloed approach of different departments of the government. Second, rejuvenating the plan body by scrapping it and giving birth to a new body with active participation of the states. And third, to work in co-operation with the opposition parties to carry the reforms agenda forward. All three ideas need an institutional approach if they have to be realised in their true sense, and not just by establishing bodies to deal with them. Institutions must not be confused with organisations. Organisations are a part of an institutional framework for achieving its objectives.

  • So, we’re getting better roads. Here are some stumbling blocks

    DNA, August 05, 2014

    Laws governing land acquisition, environmental clearances and the modalities of PPP will have to be looked into again to make this ambitious road project a success. It would make great sense if the state government drafts a comprehensive policy for roads, transport and road safety, and establishes one composite independent regulator to deal with all the three dimensions under one roof. Such a move will ensure coherence rather than face turf issues with different agencies governing the three different aspects of smoother and safer transportation to the citizens of the state. Such a regulator will be insulated from different line ministries and thus can be more effective.

  • Ctrl + Alt + Refresh

    DNA, July 15, 2014

    Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s budget tries to answer questions surrounding the economy of state through her budget speech, including that of job creation. However, questions remain over how the government will achieve the target of creating 15 lakh jobs over the next five years or how the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) would be executed to the advantage of the end user. Indeed, job creation is a core agenda of any government in today’s dismal scenario, but not the only one
    Appreciation Letter from Dainik Bhaskar

  • Assurance to provide relief by curbing expenses and wastage of food items

    Dainik Bhaskar, July 11, 2014

    In Hindi | In Gujarati

  • Tough decisions have far reaching budget minded

    Amar Ujala, July 06, 2014

  • From Yojana Aayog to Vikas Aayog

    The Hindu Business Line, July 05, 2014

    The Plan panel needs to reinvent itself as a professionally run organisation providing inputs to states. The new government means business and many of our institutions will be restructured. Empowered states would mean that the Planning Commission in its present form will undergo an overhaul to enable every state to grow without depending upon the mercy of the Central government. However, shutting down the Plan body will be a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

  • Progressive Rajasthan: Reaching Rs10 lakh crore GSDP in 2018

    DNA, July 01, 2014

    When one former bureaucrat cannot get things moving, what will be the plight of the hoi polloi? If Narendra Modi can whip the bureaucracy across country to follow the Gujarat form of glasnost, our citizens will be happier and productive. Yesterday I wrote about the high level of bureaucratic responsiveness in Gujarat based upon our own empirical experiences and compared it with Madhya Pradesh. Our own findings have also been validated by reliable people living in Gujarat and MP, by anecdotes. If Madhya Pradesh is doing well in terms of growth, Gujarat is doing better by taking along its people. Is the same happening in Rajasthan? The short answer is no.

  • Raj babus don’t measure up to Guj’s transparency levels

    DNA, June 02, 2014

    When one former bureaucrat cannot get things moving, what will be the plight of the hoi polloi? If Narendra Modi can whip the bureaucracy across country to follow the Gujarat form of glasnost, our citizens will be happier and productive. Yesterday I wrote about the high level of bureaucratic responsiveness in Gujarat based upon our own empirical experiences and compared it with Madhya Pradesh. Our own findings have also been validated by reliable people living in Gujarat and MP, by anecdotes. If Madhya Pradesh is doing well in terms of growth, Gujarat is doing better by taking along its people. Is the same happening in Rajasthan? The short answer is no.

  • Gujarat is forthcoming and transparent, MP is not

    DNA, June 01, 2014

    Guj babus are more open to sharing info; in MP it is just the opposite. While the officials in Gujarat readily shared information with us and also pointed out ways to deepen our research, officials in Bhopal with much ‘enthusiasm’ violated principles of logic and work ethics. As an election campaign issue, the Gujarat model of governance and development is being challenged that it is smoke and mirrors. One of the indicators of good governance is how bureaucrats interact with people when asked for information. Our own field experience on different dates and with different agencies suggests that unlike other states, Gujarat babus are more open and forthcoming.

  • How not to contain the fiscal deficit

    The Hindu Business Line, April 08, 2014

    The UPA has played around with numbers. This makes fiscal consolidation a daunting task for the new government The government has time and again shown its proficiency in accounting sleight of hand, when it comes to containing the fiscal deficit. It has painted a façade of a healthy fiscal situation, thereby hiding the structural cracks in budgetary and planning processes. Clearly, the next government will have a tough time in bringing down the deficit, a root cause for several of our problems. While presenting the interim budget 2014-15, the Finance Minister triumphantly declared that he would be able to contain fiscal deficit to 4.6 per cent of the GDP for the current fiscal, bettering the initial estimates of 4.8 per cent. This is being achieved through a massive reduction in the planned expenditure, of around 14 per cent.

  • The road to true federalism

    Business Standard, April 02, 2014

    It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country,” said Justice Louis D Brandeis, Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the US, in 1932. This view forms the basis of the new federalism philosophy in the US that advocated restoration of some of the autonomy and powers to the states , which they lost to the federal government, as a consequence of the New Deal. A key determinant of the role of the states in a federal polity is their participation in the formulation and implementation of critical economic plans. A central plan body usually indicates a stronger role for the central government and vice versa. It is unable to handle the differences among the states in a clear manner.

  • Fiscal deficit target, a joke

    The Hindu Business Line, November 03, 2013

    The Finance Minister has repeatedly asserted that India’s current account deficit and fiscal deficit will be limited to US$70bn and 4.8 percent of the GDP, respectively, during the current fiscal. While the former seems plausible on the back of recent policy revisions, decline in imports and growth in exports, the latter seems difficult, especially seen in light of the government’s past performance. As 2013 and 2014 are election years, it would be nearly impossible for the government to comply with the deficit targets…Thus, it would be a challenge for the Finance Minister to keep his promise.

  • We need a National Sarpanch

    Economic Times, September 25, 2013

    A recent poll among over 5,000 young people on who would make a good prime minister, more than half suggested a presidential form of government. Surely, this must have emanated from the sad experiences of horse trading in Parliament over policy debates, including whimsical partners walking out and walking in. This reinforces the point that the Westminster model of democracy is unsuitable for a stable government in India.

  • Time to check the Khemka syndrome

    The Hindu, June 05, 2013

    In April 2013, the Haryana government transferred senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka for the second time in six months (44th time in his 22-year career). The use of transfers and postings in States as a means of harassing officers who are inconvenient because of their professional independence or because they are perceived to be close to an outgoing chief minister is a well-known phenomenon. Articles 310 and 311 of the Constitution make it impossible for civil servants to be dismissed or demoted by elected representatives. However, politicians exert control over policy outcomes by reshuffling the bureaucracy across posts of varying importance. The “politicisation” of the bureaucracy has become a major public policy issue in India.

  • Re-inforce people’s trust trust to restore growth

    Economic Times, February 25, 2013

    A new leader, a growth panel, and judicial, electoral and governance reforms are the steps to restore people’s trust. Among a menu of discordant happenings and noises, one arm of the government says that we can expect five percent growth, while another says it is a mistake, and we can expect higher growth. Consequently, and also due to variety of other factors, people are losing their faith and confidence, and worse, do not trust the polity or the bureaucracy or business. The system needs an overhaul. Many of these steps need to be taken up by the government in a proactive fashion, and with the active involvement of states. Only then can we destroy the enemy, who is among us.

  • A Regulator for Land Acquisition

    Economic Times, January 28, 2013

    The current land acquisition Bill talks about direct transaction between buyers and sellers of land. Given the fact that landholding patterns in India are largely fragmented, coupled with large-scale absentee landlordism, such direct transactions will be impossible as there will be huge transaction costs. The state has a legitimate role in land acquisition for industrial development and that should be done institutionally: as a facilitator through independent regulation against a control structure. The Bill on land acquisition should be revised accordingly to upfront say why states should have a role in it by incorporating provisions for the institution of an independent regulator for land acquisition.

  • Taking India Forward in 2013

    Economic Times, December 31, 2012

    This month (December 2012) we saw some sanity revert in our law making process when law makers passed laws and pushed the reforms agenda. Thanks to the adroit handling of cantankerous issues and dissonance by the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. Whether, we agree with everything that the government has done well or not, we look forward to a resolute and smart government to take the growth agenda forward in 2013 as well…considering the nature of our fractious polity, the Central Government will need to become a true union government.

  • Policies to allocate natural resources should be dynamic and transparent

    Economic Times, November 26, 2012

    The Supreme Court is rightly peeved that the government did not auction the entire spectrum vacated as a consequence of the cancellation of the dirty licences in February, and so are the people of India. But even if the government had done so, the heroic recommendations on a high reserve price might have had the same result.

  • Restore Trust for Economic Growth

    The Economic Times, October 29, 2012

    Industrial progress is not the only key to creating economic wealth, but there are several other flanking and fundamental areas that need to be reformed. These include, but are not limited to, governance and administrative reforms, and, most crucially, restoring trust of people in government. Only then the National Investment Board proposal will earn people’s confidence. Should the government also not set in motion a process that can identify and list reform and remedial measures and report to people periodically? The checklist could begin with crony capitalism, corruption in the polity and administrative reforms. Even if we take one step at a time, it can be done.

  • Equity is Good for Growth

    The Economic Times, October 08, 2012

    Competition policy promotes economic equity and democracy, which is a building block for political democracy. While macro reforms have to be followed, micro reforms with effective meso-level institutions are as important to ensure that markets function well. In fact, the poor suffer more when markets do not function well. Businesses benefit from competition reform, so do the poor, as it leads to more equitable growth. The current buzzword for economic planning and management is ‘inclusive growth’.

  • Cross the red tape Rubicon

    Economic Times, August 23, 2012

    The origin of the term ‘red tape’ lies in an old British Indian practice of tying all files with red tape while being carted on mules and donkeys from Delhi to the summer capital Shimla. This is perhaps an apocryphal story, nevertheless revealing. While the British left India, the system got much worse than the hardy animals that carried the files to the hills.

  • States need to follow a non-partisan approach for better governance

    The Economic Times, July 30, 2012

    Not many know that the words ‘Central government’ does not exist in our Constitution, but we have ‘Union government’ and states. Our founding fathers had envisioned the idea of a true federal political structure. However, due to fears of fissiparous tendencies, which have been a part of India’s history, the practice has been that all our laws define the Federal government in New Delhi as the Central government and not Union government.

  • A policy coherence unit can resolve turf wars among ministries, helping businesses

    The Economic Times, July 19, 2012

    Policy incoherence in our governance system is serious. It is spurred by turf claims, some of which are simply irrational. In the exercise of reforming business regulations, another major effort by the Planning Commission is to ensure policy coherence mechanisms so that all the horses drawing a coach, even when blinkered, can trot in unison. Even if we have very good policies, they exist in silos – developed and administered by different branches. Or sometimes, a very good policy is rejected by some branch because it would curtail its own discretionary and rent-seeking powers.

  • Action for India’s Renewal

    The Economic Times, June 25, 2012

    The world is in turmoil and so is India, but for different reasons. The common denominator is that bad governance everywhere is the main reason for the apocalypse. In India, we have an elected government, but rudderless, and an Opposition that is suffering from sclerosis. There is severe polity paralysis and policy stasis, sprinkled with a dose of profligacy. While many politicians are busy in making money in partnership with civil servants and businessmen, most of our people are suffering from the adversity. Not all politicians or civil servants or businessmen are crooked, so it would be unfair to use a paintbrush. It is time for every citizen to be counted in the peaceful campaign to tackle corruption and kickstart stalled policy.

  • Improving Investment Sentiment

    Economic Times, May 28, 2012

    When Coca Cola, among other foreign consumer goods manufacturers, was allowed to return to India in 1990s, it was not because we needed Coke, but to send the right signal to the world that we were interested in doing business with the whole world. Other than promoting healthy competition, our domestic capital availability was limited. We need foreign investment to meet our growing needs, for example, in the infrastructure sector. We would need over a trillion-dollar capital in the near future to sustain our growth. The problem is that many cannot see the big picture, or myopically pursue their self-interests

  • The Regulatory Chakravyuh

    Economic Times, April 30, 2012

    The Planning Commission is seriously addressing problems. In order to weed out or rationalise useless regulations, the plan body’s strategy also speaks about undertaking scientific regulatory impact assessments. The catch is that states will need to be involved in this exercise closely, as much of the regulatory chakravyuh exists locally. A consensus can evolve through a dialogue and the plan body will have to market it to states, like a skin fairness cream, to demonstrate to them that revenues will rise and new jobs created.

  • Wanted: A National Sarpanch

    The Economic Times, April 19, 2012

    India has accepted the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, which is now proving to be an unworkable method of running a government smoothly. Now is the opportune time to kick off a debate for changing over from a Westminster model to a presidential system. Electing a national sarpanch to get rid of the cantankerous and retrogressive coalition political system. Our children will never forgive us if we do not start the process now, knowing that it will still take a few years to bring about the change.

  • Bad Politics Means Bad Economics

    The Economic Times, March 26, 2012

    Sacking the then-railway minister Dinesh Trivedi after he presented a reformist rail budget is one of the darkest chapters in our recent chaotic economic history. One can understand the compulsions of coalition politics…This idea was not radical because fares had not been raised over the last decade. After all, bad politics leads to bad economic outcomes, which the country can ill-afford in the current situation of an alarming fiscal deficit, obstinate inflation and unusual policy paralysis

  • Catch the Signal of Change

    Economic Times, February 27, 2012

    Is India a banana republic or a dirigisme economy? Neither. Firstly, we are not a small country with a single export item, and we are neither a state-controlled economy. However, there is a preponderance of both elements in our governance system. In a colloquial sense, we are no better than a banana republic, where public interest is given the short shrift and crony capitalism rules. The state does control a large part of our economy, particularly natural resources, and has failed in allocating them in a fair manner to the best possible bidder, whether it is minerals or oil or spectrum. And private interest overrides public interest, coupled with unjust enrichment of the polity, babus and businesses

  • Overhauling Our Steel Frame

    Economic Times, January 30, 2012

    In one of our seminars on regulatory issues, a gentleman suggested that we should have a regulator of retail corruption who would set standards of ‘fees’ and timelines to deliver what the system should have done ab initio. He was of course referring to simple issues like ration cards which cause a public pain. Some laughed but I think there was merit in the suggestion because corruption will not disappear, whether we have empowered Lokpal or Lokayuktas in our States. It is like a man eating tiger, who having tasted the human blood, will not stop at doing so even if it is faced with the threat of being eliminated. Many of our babus are like man eating tigers, and not even afraid of being eliminated. The way forward is to tackle the causes of the corruption so that the menace is curbed

  • Set Regulators Free

    Economic Times, December 26, 2011

    The demand to house the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the proposed constitutional authority of the Lokpal is indeed sensible in more ways than one. This will ensure its independence. Though the CBI is a credible institution, it often comes under the influence of the government to move, or not, on sensitive cases involving politicians. On the other hand, it is fortunate that the Lokpal will be a constitutional authority, otherwise the body would have also met the fate of several of our institutions that get suffocated under executive fiat. Hopefully, the debate should spur a larger discourse on ensuring independence of our regulatory institutions for better governance and growth

  • Why We Need New Institutions

    Economic Times, December 01, 2011

    We have a genuine dislike of creating new institutions for various reasons. But as part of the creative destruction process, should we not address ourselves to shutting down useless organisations and creating new ones or strengthening existing ones where there is a critical need and a governance gap? This is not the first time that these questions have been raised, but if we want to grow, create jobs and posit India as a global power in the new century, we do need to address the issues squarely, and now.

  • Implementation of policies more important than drafting laws

    Economic Times, October 31, 2011

    The debate on corruption triggered by the Anna Hazare movement, the apex court and the country’s auditor and vacuous political noises, along with silent demonstrations by citizens, has set in motion a process of addressing the morass in our country. The debate and unravelling of scams itself has downsides of policy paralysis, investor scepticism and general insouciance, which we can ill-afford. Therefore, catharsis must begin from confession

  • Public Procurement Woes

    Economic Times, September 26, 2011

    The railways minister, Dinesh Trivedi, has recently announced two high-level committees to look at safety and modernisation. Both of them are closely linked to each other. But what is perhaps missing is the fact that procurement distortions may just end up thwarting any progress or quality in either the safety systems or even the modernisation of railways. Why are so many accidents taking place in the railways? Because of poor quality of equipment coupled with negligence. Why are so many tracks poorly built? Because of poor quality coupled with carelessness. Corruption is a common denominator.

  • Arresting the pandemic of corruption

    Economic Times, August 29, 2011

    Corruption has now become a part of our DNA and is now a pandemic. The Lokpal Bills will now be debated before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice. A refreshing and welcome change is that their proceedings will be public…With the movement now on the Lokpal Bill that has already had a salutary impact on our economy and the governance system, we need to start a similar movement at the level of the states and our districts. Only then can we hope to arrest the pandemic of corruption.

  • Optimal regulation to push industry growth

    The Economic Times, June 27, 2011

    One of the biggest challenges that we in India face is creation of jobs, and reduction of poverty and inequality. One priority is to facilitate business as an engine of growth in a way that it is sustainable and inclusive. Facilitating private sector to contribute significantly to such a model of growth would be critical – and can be done by reviewing the role played by the government

  • We’re part of participatory democracy

    The Economic Times, April 25, 2011

    Much has been written about the successful campaign by Anna Hazare in raising the ante on corruption and getting the government to agree on the participation of the civil society in drafting the Lokpal Bill. Cynics and sceptics questioned the process on various grounds, including defining civil society advocates as self-appointed guardians of public interest and so on.

  • Liberate the voluntary sector

    The Economic Times, July 26, 2010

    One of the areas that has not been highlighted in the current debate on the proposed direct taxes code (DTC) is its treatment of the voluntary sector. Such lack of attention is not warranted, given that the draft code contains a proposal to tax the surpluses of this sector. This has caused consternation in non-government circles. Such uniform taxation of all non-governmental organisations, hitherto treated as tax-exempt charities, is unjustified. A more discerning approach is advisable. The government needs to recognise the largeness and diversity of this sector in evolving a more nuanced approach to taxation.

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