Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

23 June 2017

A substitute for planning - Learning to do better by looking at other states

Ashok V. Desai

As chief minister, Narendra Modi had to spend a few days every year in meetings with the Planning Commission. It was a begging trip; the Planning Commission decided the allocation of plan funds to states. He had to accept whatever he was given. Gujarat's fiscal and economic performance was good. He was not rewarded for it; instead, he was given less because he was raking in so much in taxes. He hated the supercilious looks and shrill sermons of Montek Singh Ahluwalia; he did not see why Ahluwalia should lord it over just because he had been to Oxford. He was determined to abolish the Planning Commission if he ever came to power in Delhi.

When he finally arrived in 2014, he kept his resolve. That, however, raised problems he had not anticipated. For one thing, loans and revenue transfers from the Centre to the states had to be determined on some rational criteria. That is what the meetings with the Planning Commission that he hated were doing; in its absence, who was to do it? He could have asked Vijay Kelkar, the fortune-teller who gives weekly and annual astrological predictions for each of the dozen astrological signs; for instance, if you are Leo, his current advice to you is to take care of your belongings when you travel. But he was never asked; instead, Vijay Kelkar, the familiar figure who has spent years in the Delhi government, was asked. He passed on the report of the Finance Commission which he had chaired. That was, however, five years old; and it only told how Central revenue should be shared with states. When he was asked to come back to Delhi and show how to do that from year to year, he refused; he was happy to be out of Delhi's dog-eat-dog world.

India wants to be a trade, transit hub; inks UN pact in bid to counter China’s OBOR

By Indrani Bagchi

NEW DELHI: India became the 71st country on Monday to join the United Nations TIR Convention, the international customs transit system, to position itself as a regional trading and transit hub.

The TIR system is the international customs transit system with the widest geographical coverage.

As other customs transit procedures, the TIR procedure enables goods to move under customs control across international borders without the payment of the duties and taxes.

TIR Convention is more than a transport agreement and has a strong foreign policy element.

In a world where China's 'One Belt One Road' (OBOR)+ is the dominating project straddling economics and geopolitics, India has no option but to play a better game if it wants to be counted as a serious rising power.

Welcoming India into the global transport arrangement, Umberto de Pretto, the secretary general of IRU which manages the TIR Convention, told TOI from Geneva that India's accession would have a big impact on regional connectivity. "TIR can help implement the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement by addressing policy incompatibility among the BBIN group. For example, Bangladesh does not recognise insurance policies made in India, Nepal or Bhutan. With TIR, there would be no need for bilateral arrangements as guarantors are covered by the global guarantee chain."

Yoga: India’s Soft Power That Can Change The World

David Frawley

The Yoga initiative, starting with International Yoga Day, is a welcome break from India’s prior cultural lethargy.

It is imperative that India expands its yogic culture as its civilisational strength.

India has a tremendous cultural power or civilisational shakti that has maintained a profound impact on the world for thousands of years. This is represented by India’s great gurus, rishis and dharmic traditions at an inner level, along with a sophisticated artistic and material culture outwardly.

India’s many-sided civilisation spread to Indochina and Indonesia during their formative periods, and had a lasting influence on China, Japan and East Asia. It also had significant effects on Central Asia, extending into West Asia. India’s civilisation was honoured in ancient Greece and Rome, and India had regular trade contacts with Mesopotamia and Sumeria, going back to the third millennium BC. Ancient Indo-European traditions like the Persians, Scythians, Celts, Germans and Slavs had much in common with India’s Vedic culture.

22 June 2017

Darjeeling flareup: We had it coming

Sunanda K Datta Ray

The bloodshed in Darjeeling highlights how foolish it was to try to make Bengali a compulsory school subject even in a Nepalese-majority district. But the agitation that flared up had been simmering for more than a century and concerns not just West Bengal but India as a whole. The ascendancy of an authoritarian, monocultural party at the Centre greatly increases the likelihood of minority groups seeing the state as “the prison house of nationalities”, Lenin’s term for Tsarist Russia.

The turbulence in Jammu and Kashmir is the most obvious instance of this gulf between nation and region. Whatever the outcome, strife will not end so long as the Kashmir revolt is dismissed as only the outcome of Pakistani mischief, jihadist terrorism and black money. As A.S. Dulat, the perspicacious former head of the Research and Analysis Wing, pointed out, there can be no solution until the Kashmiris themselves have been won over through a process he called “selling peace through a sustained dialogue”. That demands a sympathetic approach and some knowledge of the historical background. I am reminded in this connection of the legendary Ranjit Gupta’s response to my outrage at alleged human rights abuses against the Naga tribes. Known for suppressing Naxalites when he was Kolkata’s police commissioner, Ranjit Gupta was interested in anthropology and was aware of history. “Don’t forget,” he said, “that India was an imperial creation and can be kept together only through imperial methods!” Far from admitting that modern India was an imperial creation, the change of place names — will the Gateway of India be the next victim? — suggests that many Indians would like to deny that the British ever ruled us. Not for them the view that “to strengthen their attempt at developing an India-wide response to the India-wide rule of the British” the Congress, virtually the sole opinion-maker then, “invented the idea of an ancient ‘Mother India’ to which all Indians had once owed allegiance.” Mother India means nothing to Nagas, Mizos, Meteis or Kashmiri Muslims.

Where is the data for India to make a case on terrorism from Pakistan?

Tara Kartha

It’s that time again during the term of a prime minister, when he has to prepare to call on the President of the United States, a country that is still seen as powerful enough to count as a desirable parti in times of stress. Apart from plans to buy a fleet of commercial aircraft guaranteed to catch the attention of an anxious industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States is also expected to focus on Pakistan’s proxy wars against India.

As always when negotiating with the US, it is not only White House aides, bureaucracy and members of the Congress who matter, but also the think tanks and media who aim to influence policy at the Hill. Any diplomatic mission worth its salt aims to engage with these ‘expert’ groups and bring them into public debate preferably in aid of India, but at least not against its stated positions.

This is where the difficulty starts. Major think tanks in Washington have a very different view on terrorism in the region. For instance, a prestigious think tank while classifying conflicts, cites Afghanistan as a “‘civil war’’ on its interactive map. This flies against facts, given that almost the entire top Taliban leadership lives, strategies and more importantly, banks in Pakistan. A civil war is an internal phenomenon, and the term ‘Af-Pak’ itself illustrates the cross border pall under which the war is being fought. The only instance of cross border terrorism that is cited in Asia is oddly enough limited to sectarian conflict in Pakistan.

Darjeeling Unrest Has National Ramifications, Mamata Banerjee Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Mishandle It

Jaideep Mazumdar

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee resists deployment of central paramilitary forces during elections in Bengal. Over the past six years that she has been in power in the state, Banerjee has never sought central forces to tackle internal disturbances in the plains of Bengal, relying solely on her police force to act (or not act, depending on the community involved) in all such incidents.

But when it comes to the Darjeeling hills, it is a different ball game altogether. Ever since trouble broke out in the hills, Banerjee has been insisting on getting central forces to be deployed. She even got the Army, which she had once ludicrously accused of trying to stage a coup, and shamelessly charged Army soldiers (deployed in a drill) of extorting money from truckers at a traffic check-post, to hit the streets of the hill town since trouble broke out on 8 June.

The reason why Banerjee wants the Army and central forces deployed in Darjeeling is that she wants to fire the gun on Gorkhas from their shoulders, with the state police remaining safely behind the battle-lines. Banerjee has a sinister motive in doing so. She wants to suppress the Gorkhaland movement by brute force, but she wants her police (and, thus, herself) to remain free of any blame for bloodshed. She knows that there will be casualties if the movement is to be suppressed by force, but she wants the central forces and the Army to be blamed for those casualties.

Here, Mamata is looking at her immediate political gains and she cares little for anything beyond that. In order to safeguard her political interests, she is even willing to put national interests to grave risk and danger. The Gorkhas are a very proud and emotional race, and the death of three Gorkhas in police firing on agitators in Darjeeling on Saturday has agitated them, hurt them and caused the community no little trauma.

Government Is Going Overboard With Aadhaar; Mindless Expansion Can Be Dangerous

R Jagannathan

The government has won one half of the battle for linking PAN with Aadhaar, but it is in danger of losing the larger case on privacy if it mindlessly pushes Aadhaar to areas it was never intended.

The irrational haste with which the Narendra Modi government is rushing to make Aadhaar compulsory for almost any and every purpose will cost it dearly. Last week, the government made Aadhaar mandatory for bank accounts, sending everyone a chilling reminder that Big Brother is not only watching you, but now has your finances at his finger-tips.

There is no better way to kill a good idea and make people suspicious of your intentions than to repeatedly shove Aadhaar down unwilling throats.

Let me be clear: I opposed Aadhaar when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government began collecting biometrics without a law to back it. I changed my position when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government showed some willingness to provide at least a figleaf of privacy protection by enacting the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. I also have no problem if Aadhaar is mandatory for tax filing and PAN numbers – a position upheld by the Supreme Court recently.

Moving forward on defence and security

Dhruva JaishankarTanvi Madan

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump for the first time, the focus will be on establishing a good rapport between the two leaders. There remain concerns that their two governments’ objectives are not compatible: that Trump’s “America First” approach, which conceives of US interests in narrow, transactional terms, will be at odds with Modi’s agenda to transform India. But one area of natural convergence is in the defence and security realm.

Part of the bilateral security agenda involves developing India’s capacity to assume a bigger role as a net security provider in its region. Unlike parts of Europe and Asia, India is not dependent on US security guarantees, and is eager to have a larger military presence, particularly in the Indian Ocean. Indian efforts have complemented US interests, including in patrols of the Strait of Malacca, counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the evacuation of civilians from Yemen.

Balochistan: The Chinese Chequered

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

The Islamic State (IS, also Daesh) on June 8, 2017, claimed the killing of two Chinese nationals who had been abducted from the Jinnah Town area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, in the afternoon of May 24, 2017. Amaq, the IS propaganda agency, declared, “Islamic State fighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, south-west Pakistan.” The Chinese couple, Lee Zing Yang (24) and Meng Li Si (26), were studying Urdu in Quetta, where they reportedly also ran a Mandarin language course.According to Deputy Inspector General Police Aitzaz Goraya, unknown abductors, wearing Police uniforms, had forced the two foreigners into a vehicle at gunpoint and driven away. They also tried to overpower another Chinese woman but she ran away. A man present at the site attempted to resist the kidnapping, but was shot at by one of the abductors. So far no local group has claimed responsibility for the incident (abduction and subsequent killing). Reports speculate that the actual perpetrators were linked to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Alami (LeJ-A), the international wing of the LeJ, which believed to be affiliated to Daesh.

The claim came hours after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released details of a three-day operation (June 1-3) by the Pakistan Army against Daesh-affiliated terrorists in the Mastung area of Balochistan, in which Security Forces (SFs) had killed 12 suspected terrorists, including two suicide bombers. ISPR claimed, There were reports of 10-15 terrorists of a banned outfit Lashrake-Jhangivi Al-Almi (LeJA) hiding in caves near Isplingi ( Koh-i-Siah/Koh-i- Maran) 36 Kilometer South East of Mastung." And further, "The suicide bomber used against Deputy Chairman of Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haydri on May 12 was also sent by [the targeted group]." The ISPR statement asserted that SFs destroyed an explosives facility inside the cave where the terrorists were hiding, and recovered a cache of arms and ammunition, including 50 kilogrammes of explosives, three suicide jackets, 18 grenades, six rocket launchers, four light machine guns,18 small machine guns, four sniper rifles, 38 communication sets and ammunition of various types.

Charting the Indian banking sector’s future

Renny Thomas

The Indian banking sector is at a critical juncture in its evolution. It is now clear that the slump in credit growth and increase in stressed assets has affected the profitability of all banks, and threatens the very survival of some of them.

State-owned banks account for more than three-fourths of the stressed asset load, which is now far higher than their net worth. Provision levels are inadequate, as the banks hold only 28% of gross non-performing assets and restructured assets, as provisions. There is a $110 billion gap between the stressed assets in the system and the provisions made. Shifts in consumer preferences, combined with changes in technology and regulations, have created a perfect storm. The way out will depend to a large extent on the speed and direction of stakeholder reactions.

The core challenge is that many of the public sector banks (PSBs) are undifferentiated, sub-scale, and with limited capabilities to be full universal banks. About 80% of them own only 25% of the assets. They also operate in virtually every market segment with very limited sector or vertical-focused specialization. In fact, they focus on the same customer segments, offer similar products, and very often compete only on price. Some of this is because PSBs face challenges that impede them from competing effectively. They have to shoulder a disproportionate share of social and nation-building obligations. Policies on compensation and human resources reduce management autonomy, and inhibit their ability to attract and manage talent.

21 June 2017

*** Countering China’s High-Altitude Land Grab


Bite by kilometer-size bite, China is eating away at India’s Himalayan borderlands. For decades, Asia’s two giants have fought a bulletless war for territory along their high-altitude border. Recently, though, China has become more assertive, underscoring the need for a new Indian containment strategy.

On average, China launches one stealth incursion into India every 24 hours. Kiren Rijiju, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, says the People’s Liberation Army is actively intruding into vacant border space with the objective of occupying it. And according to a former top official with India’s Intelligence Bureau, India has lost nearly 2,000 square kilometers to PLA encroachments over the last decade.

The strategy underlying China’s actions is more remarkable than their scope. On land, like at sea, China uses civilian resources – herders, farmers, and grazers – as the tip of the spear. Once civilians settle on contested land, army troops gain control of the disputed area, paving the way for the establishment of more permanent encampments or observation posts. Similarly, in the South China Sea, China’s naval forces follow fishermen to carve out space for the reclamation of rocks or reefs. In both theaters, China has deployed no missiles, drones, or bullets to advance its objectives.

* The lost Sanskrit treasures of Tibet

Ananth Krishnan

When Ye Shaoyong, a prominent Chinese Sanskrit scholar, first came across the old yellowed palm leaves from Drepung, one of Tibet's most important monasteries, he was intrigued by the letters on the page. The 14 palm leaves he found bore ancient writing, older than anything that the Sanskrit professor from Peking University had ever seen. That day in 2003, Ye stumbled upon one of the oldest undiscovered Sanskrit texts from India-a 2nd century text, the Mulamadhyamakakarika, one of the founding texts of Mahayana Buddhism that had, until Ye's discovery, only ever been seen referenced in quotations in later commentaries. 

Chinese scholars say this rare palm leaf is among hundreds-possibly thousands-that still lie in Tibet's monasteries, carrying a trove of more than thousand-year-old information about Indian philosophical thought and history, from between the 2nd and 14th centuries. Ye spent a decade painstakingly translating the old manuscript, which was finally published four years ago and is among the first from this forgotten treasure to be made public. "Tibet might be the last treasure of Sanskrit manuscripts which has not yet been fully investigated," he wrote in his book. "Nonetheless," he lamented, "they are still gathering dust on the shelves of monasteries or in the drawers of museums." 

New Alignments, Old Battlefield: Revisiting India’s Role in Afghanistan


Afghanistan is transitioning from one crisis to another. It has moved from being a place where extremists coexisted and used terrorism to gain a political voice on a national and international scale, to a place where radical ideologues are fighting for dominance and external powers’ priorities diverge. This raises questions about India’s long-standing approach to the country.

India’s Afghanistan policy, especially after the 1979 Soviet invasion, has worked on the premise that an external friendly power would do the heavy lifting in Afghanistan’s security and political sector. India, meanwhile, would invest in soft sectors, such as infrastructure development, and would limit its involvement in the security domain. In the 1990s, India’s Afghanistan policy was tied to Iran and Russia, and a regional alignment between the three states was strategically viable. Though the states had differences, they supported the United Front of the so-called Northern Alliance against the Taliban. This allowed India to avoid direct involvement in the conflict.

That was potentially an acceptable choice when other major actors involved were behaving in line with India’s interests and aims. But today, the context is different. Russia’s and Iran’s approaches are no longer in accord with India’s. Russia’s ongoing outreach to the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan has raised concerns that Moscow could be deviating from earlier approaches that it had shared with India. Moscow and Tehran are challenging India’s advocacy of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process. India relies on U.S. support to Kabul for maintaining stability, and it is largely focused on what it views as the threat from Pakistan. But whether the United States can be relied on is an open question, and India’s stance on Pakistan puts it at odds with Iran and Russia.

India’s Vanishing Wildlife - Balance Between Conservation And Development Beyond Us?

It may be the national animal but the tiger sadly needs roaring campaigns to save the last few of its tribe left. Elephants in all their mammoth glory may have paraded the royalty but are now often found loitering on highways much to the displeasure of those driving past. And given the growth versus groves debate, with most developmental work being undertaken at the merciless cost of a declining forest cover, wildlife is certainly vanishing.

This crisis is what author Prerna Singh Bindra tries to address. Does development always come at the collateral damage of environmental destruction? The author while discussing these issues also talks of various interesting characteristics of animals and life in the woods.

In one of her travels the author visits the Panna Tiger Reserve , where the a debated Ken-Betwa river link is likely to submerge the reserve’s pristine forests. Here is an excerpt from the book, in which the author discusses the sinking of these forests that are hosts to the endangered national animal.

Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

At Ground Zero, in Panna Tiger Reserve, the mood was sombre; the upcoming river link is a dark shadow that stalked my visit—every beloved site I saw, animal I observed, vista I drank in—river, valley, gorge, grassland—appeared to have its days numbered. My anxiety was mirrored, manifold, in the eyes of the forest staff by my side. They have clocked innumerable hours—days and nights—to protect this reserve and its tigers; they have taken on poachers, timber smugglers, graziers. They have calmed irate villagers and faced their wrath when ‘their’ tigers preyed on livestock. Human–tiger conflict situations are understandably tense, and usually villagers, fatigued and frustrated by the losses, vent their ire on foresters who are the custodians of the forest, and its wildlife.

Fixing India's Economic Diplomacy

By Pritam Banerjee

The world stands on the cusp of a great technological and political shift. Radical shifts in production technology and processes are rendering the old global value-chains redundant and competitiveness is being re-defined. The post-World War II global institutional consensus and strategic alignments are shifting as the power-centers in western Europe and North America seek to contain the gains from liberalization even while dealing with increasing demands of protectionism from large sections of their population. The rise of India and China has led to intense competition for energy and resource security, and various tools of economic diplomacy are being used to create dedicated corridors to secure such resources.

With the largest single cohort of young people in the world, which represent both a resource and a challenge, India finds itself at a crucial juncture in its growth trajectory. India needs a strong policy road map for its economic and geostrategic priorities in order to be able to harness the creative energy of its massive working age population and emerge as a global power.

While these challenges raise the bar for India’s economic diplomacy abilities, the question remains whether India’s economic diplomacy establishment is ready to up its game. The old 20th century ways of engagement are increasingly ineffective. The focus is increasingly on execution over atmospherics, and on specifics supported by domain knowledge over generalities. This is definitely a concern from India’s traditional economic diplomacy establishment, primarily led by the Ministries of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), which while already being relatively under-staffed, compared to other major economies, allow little time for its key officers to spend enough time on a specific desk and develop domain knowledge. The systems for retaining and using institutional knowledge within these ministries are also quite weak.

A dealmakers’ draw

by Bharat Karnad

PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA Modi should have pondered the perils of visiting Washington this early in Donald J Trump’s presidency. It will do him and the country no good, especially if Trump chooses to turn it into a staged affair of yet another third-world leader paying him obeisance. At a time when the US president is distracted by numerous investigations of Russia’s role in tilting the 2016 US presidential election his way, Modi may find the unpredictable Trump in a funk, or in a flinty mood. 

Trump, unlike Barack Obama, is not a liberal internationalist. As an impulsive isolationist with a sharply constricted view of America’s role in the world but gifted with a keen eye for promoting his profitable family businesses worldwide, Modi may get the US president’s attention if he talks of Trump Towers mushrooming all over the Indian urban landscape. No, really! Even as he is supposedly running the US government, the president, on the side, has just firmed up plans for a chain of more affordable Trump hotels across the United States. Trump may be vocabulary- challenged but is far from dimwitted. He is pursuing his three- point agenda of more jobs for Americans, more trade for America, and of getting freeloaders—assorted NATO and other allies and strategic and trade partners—to pay up for the security afforded them by far-flung US military forces. It follows that Trump believes in ‘free trade’ and ‘free trade agreements’, but only if these are partial to America. 

This is a roundabout way of saying Trump doesn’t give a damn for India (or any other foreign country for that matter). If Modi thinks he can cash in once again on that clichéd rhetoric of shared liberal values, democratic freedoms, et cetera, he had better do a rethink, lest the airing of such sentiments lead Trump to first delay their meeting and then cut their eventual discussion short, as he did with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in early May when the latter brought up the subject of refugee intake. Some of Trump’s best friends are dictators and the regimes he is most comfortable dealing with are autocratic. Ask Chinese President Xi Jinping. Or, better still, Russian President Vladimir Putin. India and Modi lose out on both these counts—unless, who knows, Trump takes a liking to the strongman in Modi. 

20 June 2017

*** A new emphasis on gainful employment in India

By Jonathan Woetz

As India’s labor market shifts, it is time to focus on improved quality of work and the income derived from it, not simply the number of jobs being lost or created. 

Statistics showing that India’s overall labor-force participation declined between 2011 and 2015 have prompted a heated public debate about whether the country is experiencing jobless growth. Scratch the surface, however, and it becomes clear that Indian labor markets are in fact undergoing a significant structural shift, away from agriculture and towards the non-farm sector, particularly construction, trade, and transport. Employment in agriculture shrank by 26 million in 2011 to 2015, while non-farm jobs rose by 33 million over this period (exhibit). 


Asia Is Trawling for a Deadly Fishing War


THALVUPADU, Sri Lanka — Stanley Cruz, a fisher in this beachside village on the island of Mannar off Sri Lanka’s northwestern coast, stands with his bare feet in the sand, holding up a green net between his hands.

“This is the kind of net, you see. Last week, we lost many hundreds of these. Twelve of us fishers, when we went out to get them in the morning they were gone,” he says.

He points toward the waters behind him: the Palk Strait, a narrow body of water separating Sri Lanka from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Cruz was out the night before, laying his nets in the sea, just like thousands of other fishers from both sides of the strait. But when he went to get them in the morning, they were gone.

“It keeps happening over and over,” says Mary Subramali, an elderly woman who cleans and sorts the incoming fish. “The trawlers come to take our fish and cut our nets, destroying them with their propellers. My son just lost his for the second time.”

She picks up a cold, slippery fish from a basket and severs its head and fins with ease. For her and others on the northern coast of Sri Lanka, losing nets has become a familiar story. Over 30,000 people from the minority Tamil community in Thalvupadu work as fishers, mainly on a small-scale, mostly earning less than $2,500 per year, about two-thirds of the islands’ average. Nets in these coastal societies are precious investments — even a small one costs $23, and the village has lost nearly 1,000 of them.

American GI Life In India During Second World War

Shefali K. Chandan

American GIs were well-behaved and light-hearted than the British, and would become friends to Indians.

The GI life in India was popularised by the annotated photographs of American military photographer Clyde Waddell.

"Dear Mom, I got a valet", wrote one American in his letter home (from Calcutta) in November 1942. He had just discovered the bearers – Indian valets – who usually served British officers in India. Apparently, the bearers preferred American bosses because they were richer and friendlier.

“The bearer of an important English official recently deserted without so much as collecting back salary. He was finally discovered happily valeting nine American enlisted men – colored quartermaster troops. Earning twice his old salary, he was also becoming proficient at American slang and winning heavily at craps. After a life spent quietly pussy-footing through plush apartments, salaaming and calling all Europeans ‘master' and 'sahib', he was drunk with a life in which he indulged in horseplay with his bosses and called them by their first names. An old saying of the bearers in India goes as follows: Work for the English and sweat; work for the French and be well-dressed, work for the Dutch and travel; but work for Americans and be rich."

19 June 2017

***Modi’s DeMo Gambit Failed: Costs Exceed Gains And Farm Anger Is The Final Piece Of Evidence

R Jagannathan

Good politics begins with accepting that DeMo did not work. Hiding the truth can hurt Modi more than acknowledging it – directly or indirectly.

But DeMo is his ultimate test. If he learns from this, his next two years may still be his best.

It is time for a mea culpa on demonetisation. This writer has been largely positive on the medium-to-long-term benefits of notebandi, as opposed to its short-term downsides, including a fall in gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates for one or two quarters. Now, and especially after the farmer agitations for loan waivers, I believe that the negative side of the ledger on demonetisation (DeMo) is larger than the positive. It has failed.

The critics have been right for the wrong reasons. They did not have a better crystal ball on DeMo’s side-effects than the optimists; but they did have a deeper animus against the Narendra Modi government that the optimists, including me, did not have. Thus, they were faster to pick up the negative signals than the rest of us.