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The page of Gurcharan Das

31 May 2019

Strong state, strong society: The reforms India needs Prime Minister Narendra Modi to courageously undertake

With the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fears are again being expressed of creeping authoritarianism in India. But i worry about the opposite problem. I do not fear a strong state but a weak and ineffective one. A weak state has frail institutions, especially a feeble rule of law that takes a dozen years to give justice and has 3.3 crore cases pending in the courts. A weak state does not protect the weak against the strong. A weak state creates uncertainty rather than predictability in peoples’ minds and allows policemen, ministers and judges to be bought. It also prevents quick action by the executive and slows reforms to a snail’s pace because of warped incentives within the bureaucracy.


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26 April 2019

The Modi Mirage

Why I Fell Out of Love With India's Reformist Prime Minister.


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29 March 2019

Voter in the middle: With acche din nowhere in sight, who does a moderate vote for this election?

I lost my friends on the Left when i voted for Narendra Modi in 2014. I lost my friends on the Right when i criticised Modi for demonetisation, majoritarian politics and weakened institutions. With the election approaching, i am disillusioned. Acche din have not come but nationalism has, and the India that i love is changing. I am surrounded by Modi bhakts and Modi haters, both of whom i find mildly distasteful.


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28 February 2019

Who are we Indians? Genetics is bringing bad news for the politics of identity: We are all migrants

Many pundits predict that the approaching 2019 election is likely to focus on identity politics primarily because of economic discontent, making BJP turn to identity and other non-economic issues. Before we are engulfed in election rhetoric this may be a good time to pause, sit back and ask – who after all, are we Indians? What are our origins? What should be a straightforward matter of factual evidence has grown into a contentious debate in recent years.


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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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