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The page of Gurcharan Das

29 January 2019

Key to China’s miracle: Nurturing talent and shunning quotas can bring prosperity and transform India

On the same day, ironically, the Rajya Sabha passed the constitutional amendment enabling the whacky 10% quota for the ‘poor’ in higher education and government jobs, an email arrived in my mailbox about an ongoing research project at Harvard comparing meritocracy in India and China. The Harvard project is based on the belief that the two largest and oldest societies in the world can learn from each other in managing talent despite their different political systems.


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28 December 2018

How to rescue democracy: Liberal education will teach us to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason

Another series of elections has come and gone. Like an imminent surgery, an election has a way of crowding out all thoughts from the mind and turning the focus of politicians to populism and free giveaways, forgetting the difficult job of economic and governance reform. The results of the latest state elections have reminded us that Indians are by nature sceptical and not shy to change their leaders. The grand certainties of 2014 have suddenly become the grand doubts of 2019.


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2 November 2018

The #MeToo revolution: It will come to nothing unless our society begins to bring up boys differently

At the very moment when great threats are facing economic globalisation, quite an opposite trend has surfaced in the world of emotion and culture. The extraordinary speed with which the #MeToo movement has spread is a tribute to globalisation. Within a year, societies around the world have become astonishingly comfortable in discussing social and emotional issues which earlier they had swept under a carpet.


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12 September 2018

Gays and colonial brainwashing: Learn from India’s open, exuberant past and respect those who differ from us

My son is gay and i no longer feel reluctant to admit it. He has been in a loyal, happy relationship with his partner for 20 years and my family and close friends have accepted it gracefully. I didn’t dare speak about it in public, however, for fear of bringing him any harm – that is until 12.35pm on Thursday when the Supreme Court (SC) decriminalised homosexuality. My wife and i suddenly feel as if a great burden has lifted. The chief justice’s wise words continue to ring in my ears, “I am what I am. So, take me as I am.”


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27 July 2018

Growth is good: Acche din comes only on the back of brute economic growth and jobs

Arvind Subramanian’s recent parting shot as chief economic adviser added a new phrase to our vocabulary, “stigmatised capitalism”. By it, he was suggesting that the free market had still not found a comfortable home in India. The problem goes deeper. Many Indians have unthinkingly embraced the latest Western fad of questioning economic growth ever since the global financial crisis.


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29 May 2018

Amazon vs Walmart: Take advantage of the coming battle of giants by freeing India’s farmers

In the uproar surrounding last week’s acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart, the true significance of the world’s largest e-commerce deal escaped everyone. Headlines screamed about the coming battle in India between two American giants, Amazon and Walmart.


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27 April 2018

Licence permit raj, renewed: Industry was liberated in 1991, but education’s shackles are growing heavier

On April 7, private schools from across the country converged on the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi for Shiksha Bachao, ‘Save Education’. Never before in India’s 70-year history has this happened. Schools were protesting the ‘license-permit raj’ in education and demanding autonomy and respect.


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23 February 2018

Maunmohan to Maun Modi: What’s behind the silence?

Narendra Modi continues to be an enigma. Here is a leader who wants to go down in history as a great statesman—not only in India but in the world.


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26 January 2018

In the age of anger, stop thinking your way of life is superior

My neighbour makes resolutions diligently each New Year’s Day and breaks them promptly before January is out. We usually meet in the first week of the year to exchange our resolutions but as I was away in Myanmar this year, we could only meet this week, when my wife asked him politely over a mug of masala chai: ‘So tell us, what resolutions do you intend to break this year?’ My neighbour is adept at stepping over the minefield of my wife’s bon mots and confessed that one of his resolutions was to be less angry over politics and religion.


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12 January 2018

Giving while living: India’s new rich lose the stingy tag

Two events in the 1960s had a deep influence on my life. When I was 17, I got an undergraduate scholarship to Harvard. I was able to go only because an anonymous American family gave money for the scholarship — I never knew the family and would never know them. When I was abroad, I felt ashamed because newspapers called India a “basket case”.


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