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Courting competitiveness

The commercial division of high courts bill, 2009, already cleared by the Lok Sabha, has finally been posed before the Rajya Sabha select committee. The buzz is that the MPs found merit in arguments posed by Sunil Munjal of Hero and Manoj Kumar of Hammurabi & Solomon. The argument that our courts should take much less time to adjudicate commercial disputes is crucial to our competitiveness.

Get off that phone and talk to me

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor....bureaucrat, politician, the rich and the powerful, they are the worst. Have you ever been in this position? You have an appointment in someone’s office and you make the effort to fetch up on time and you enter his office after the a mandatory wait outside and shake hands and sit down all cordial and pleasant and then he gets a phone call and sudd

Budget laid bare by CBGA

The budget presented by Pranab Mukherjee on February 26 has shifted focus from ‘inclusive growth’ to economic growth, says a report prepared by the Centre for Budget and Government Accountability (CBGA). The report also points out how the budget missed out on the most cri

What`s new about your model, comrades?

The Maoists now claim to have developed an “alternative development model”. If you remember, while dubbing the Maoists as the biggest internal security threat since 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also been taunting the rebels and their civil society sympathisers by saying that they didn’t have an alternative vision or development plan. More than four years lat

PM`s selective political amnesia

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s repeated intervention to LK Advani`s contestation on the motion of thanks is rather unprecedented. Though Singh`s new-found belligerence vis-a-vis Advani has much to do with the muscles he acquired after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and diminished stature of the BJP stalwart, his interventions singularly lacked merit. In fact, Mamohan Singh

Futility of talking to Muivah

When a ceasefire was announced with the most violent and dominant Naga insurgency group, the Nationalist Social Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), in 1997, it was hailed as a big step to bring peace to the region and eventually integrate the fiercely independent Naga tribes into the national mainstream. Barring minor incidents of violence and violations of ceasefire agreements, peace has prevai

"India can`t eradicate poverty by 2015"

India cannot eradicate poverty by 2015: that is the assessment of the Social Watch, an NGO which monitors governance across globe. Its Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) was released in February. Social Watch coordinator Roberto Bissio told Governance Now that India’s progress has been fast in the recent years, but the poor are becoming poorer since the launch of economic liberalisation. Exce

“Balance between government, civil society, businesses is vital”

Jeffrey D. Sachs, among the most influential voices on developmental matters, is the director of The Earth Institute, teaches sustainable development at Columbia University and is also special advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. During 2002-06, he was director of the UN Millennium Project and special advisor to then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals th

Bottom-up approach to local self-governance

It has indeed become clichéd to say that India is a land of paradoxes. However, the contradictions in Indian society and polity continue to baffle many scholars across the world. We are one of the few post-colonial countries that have witnessed successful functioning of democratic institutions over six decades. On the other hand, there are glaring deficiencies in our democracy and we hav

Parliament needs to find its voice

Over the past few years, parliament and MPs have faced continued criticism. There are a number of things that ought to be better with our national law-making body. But before launching into a tirade, it might be useful for us to pause and understand some of the issues and constraints that prevent parliament and MPs from delivering to their fullest potential. The constitution fram

United colours of opposition

It was the rarest of rare sights to see Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav proclaiming their unity against the Congress party. Sharad Yadav heads a party, Janata Dal (United), which is determined to wipe out Lalu Prasad`s Rashtriya Janata Dal from the face of Bihar. Then what could have brought these leaders together? If the proclamation of unity by disparate opposition leaders is to be taken serious

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

Visionary Talk with Vir Sanghvi On the future of News Journalism





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