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South India surges ahead of the north

The four states in the south have performed better than the northern states on a variety of economic, social and political indicators, according to a report by the Bangalore-based Public Affairs Centre. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are doing better on human development indicators compared to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, it says. The report says

What about teaching as a career?

For the past few months, education minister Kapil Sibal has kept the nation enthralled with a slew of proposals to reform the education sector. Some are aimed at doing away with multiplicity of courses and entrance exams (core curriculum, single entrance test); some others with taking away pressure on children (raising age of admission to pre-school to 4 years, grading system for class X) and y

An underdog`s bark

Dear Pranab-da, You will get this missive just as you are readying to present the budget and so may not have the time to read it. Not that it matters for even if I had sent it earlier, you wouldnt have had the mind. For I am not one of those elite Bombay Business Club wala or member of any big industry association or a pushy moneybag or part of any other powerful lobby who all have the

Union minister of West Bengal Railways!

The practice of union railway ministers using the annual budget to please their states/constituencies is too common to merit comment. As with many other practices in the governance of our country, we have come to accept it as a given. We have also come to reason that there is nothing wrong in ministers showering goodies to specified voters if indeed the region they live in requires development.

Gods & soldiers all adore, when in trouble nevermore?

The first military court martial I ever heard of was in a film called J’Accuse, in which Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French army has been accused of spying and is found guilty. In a gut wrenching ceremony of dishonor he is stripped of his ranks, his sword is taken out of its scabbard and broken and he is marched out under guard as a civilian to spend his life in jail. He is proven innoc

Cash incentive scheme finds UNDP favour

A study by UNDP says conditional cash transfer schemes can be effective in India as a measure of improving the delivery system. This system works on the priciple of providing direct cash incentive to poor for performing certain tasks like sending children to school or to health centres for regular health check up. This policy, which was first tried in Latin America

Commissions of Omissions

The government`s decision to wind up commissions, tribunals and appelate authorities which are not only infructuous but a drain on the exchequer is a welcome move. Justice Balakrishna Eradi has been heading a commission for the past 24 years to resolve river dispute between Punjab and Haryana. Though the commission was not accepted by Punjab, 88-year-old Justice Eradi has been gainfully employe

Thames restorer`s advice for cleaning the Yamuna

Robert Oates, director of Britain’s Thames River Restoration Trust (TRRT), a charity dedicated to improving the river and its tributaries, was in Delhi recently. Oates spoke to Governance Now on his experience of cleaning up the Thames and its relevance to the Yamuna. Edited excerpts: What is the role of the government in cleaning up a river? To mana

Nutrient-based subsidy regime

The central government has announced a long-overdue paradigm shift in fertilizer policy, opting for a need-based approach to agro-chemicals. So far, carpet-bombing has been the norm, resulting in tremendous wastage and soil degradation. On the face of it, this is a step in the right direction – but it is only a half-step. In brief, apart from hiking the price of urea, the p

Nutrient-based subsidy regime

The central government has announced a long-overdue paradigm shift in fertilizer policy, opting for a need-based approach to agro-chemicals. So far, carpet-bombing has been the norm, resulting in tremendous wastage and soil degradation. On the face of it, this is a step in the right direction – but it is only a half-step. In brief, apart from hiking the price of urea, the p

Infrastructure report by CDE

Conflict between the individual and the organisational objectives leads to delay in infrastructure projects at every stage, from planning to final execution, says a report by the Centre for Development Economics. Sure, the delay hinders economic growth. The report says performance of north-eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir in implementing projects is worse than the rest. The s

BJP needs to rediscover itself, not Rahul Gandhi

It is easy, if not entirely wise, to be completely dismissive of the Bharatiya Janata Party these days. The party appears bereft of self-belief, a charismatic leader and, above all, a coherent political strategy. Two successive debilitating defeats in general elections and a painful leadership transition account for much that is wrong with the principal opposition party in the country. Add to i

Civil society and government

A Janus-faced civil society in India has made important contributions to the state of governance and towards realisation of rights to its citizens. It has worked with people in addressing their concerns and at the same time advocated with the state attempting to reformulate the programme for radical democracy. In Roman mythology, Janus, the god of doorways, gates, and transitions, faces both fo

Civil society and government

A Janus-faced civil society in India has made important contributions to the state of governance and towards realisation of rights to its citizens. It has worked with people in addressing their concerns and at the same time advocated with the state attempting to reformulate the programme for radical democracy. In Roman mythology, Janus, the god of doorways, gates, and transitions, faces both fo

BJP`s return to roots, or to RSS?

At Indore, the BJP`s national council is displaying an unmistakable imprint of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. For a beginning, tents have been erected to house 3,000-odd delegates away from the city and its five-star luxuries. But tents are only a glimpse of the party`s vision to take leaders back to the roots. The entire area has been converted into a model village where delegates are living

PRS on private member`s bills

How serious are our parliamentarians about the legislative work? A report by PRS Legislative Research shows that no private members’ bill has been passed by parliament since 1970. In the year 1956, a maximum of six private member bills were passed. The report also shows that on an average, Congress MPs have introduced more such bills than their BJP counterparts. In fact, r

A Yen for Maharashtra

It was probably our Pune generation’s first exposure to governance of the demonstrative kind. The year was 1989 and the Christian school we studied in had punished a few schoolgirls for turning up with mehendi on their palms. The Christian school is over 100 years old and despite the changing diktats of the fashion world, had managed to uphold the simplicity that education requires. The l

Mao...didn`t preach revolution through murder

In this country and beyond, Irfan Habib is widely recognised as one of the most influential historians in the modern era. His initial and substantive work pertains to what is called the medieval period of Indian history.  However, Habib is equally known for his incisive insights into earlier historical processes as well as key themes of recent and contemporary times.  Much of his acad

They, the politicians of India...

Governance was the buzzword of the 1990s. The Cold War was over and ideology was dead. There was no battle about grand issues. Markets were here to stay as were governments. Governments were to regulate markets. But citizens were to be treated like sovereign consumers. Hence the quality of government had to be improved. As no one wanted to be judgmental about the bewildering variety of governme

Shaheen should not be alone, Mr Chavan

The expected has happened. My Name Is Khan opened across the country this morning but in its place of birth, Mumbai. Shamefully, Bal Thackeray had his way this morning. The Congress government in Maharashtra showed it has no steel in its spine to uphold the rights and freedoms of its citizens guaranteed in the constitution. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has paid lip service to th



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