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The page of Gurcharan Das

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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28 November 2017

Here’s tangible proof of minimum govt, maximum governance

In this winter of our discontent — as we try and cope with a toxic smog enveloping the northwest, declining growth, job losses and a cumbersome GST — there is finally some good news that should lift our spirits. India has risen 30 places in the World Bank’s global ranking in the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). More significantly, it has improved on all 10 criteria — no other country has achieved this.


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27 October 2017

Will someone please tell North Block that pleasure’s no sin?

Diwali is around the corner and one of the few occasions when Indians allow some pleasure and joy to enter their lives. However, if you were growing up in a sombre and austere middle-class household like ours, you wouldn’t have known it. As children, we were reminded that ‘pleasure is a sin and sin is pleasure’, and ‘a life of pleasure’ was an expression of abuse.


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26 September 2017

MEN & MORALS - The secret to happiness: Don't just make a living, make a life

Everyone I know was profoundly relieved when the China-India stand-off at Doklam ended last month in a mutual pullback.Many of us were deeply grateful to Bhutan for standing by India and we longingly yearned for similarly good relations with our other neighbours. Bhutan has, of course, become famous for pioneering Gross National Happiness to replace Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of national success.


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18 August 2017

Why governments shouldn't mess with private school fees

Imagine you are a young, idealistic person and you start a private school. You hire inspired teachers like yourself. The school does well and gets a nice reputation. Then a new law, the Right to Education Act (RTE) comes in 2010. It mandates parity with teacher salaries in government schools. You are forced to triple your teachers' salaries to Rs 25,000 per month. Even Doon School has to raise its salaries. The law also insists that 25% of your students must come from poor families.


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25 July 2017

Indians grapple with a Dickensian dilemma of growth and secularism

Some of us remember from our schooldays the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” This is not only the most famous beginning of an English novel but it also captures the contradictions in our present-day life in India. Let me illustrate with two recent events.


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9 June 2017

Was voting for the BJP a risk worth taking? Three years on, jury’s out

hree years ago, I took a risk and voted for BJP for the first time. And today I ask myself, was it a risk worth taking? At the time, I had been worried that India had a narrow window of opportunity called the ‘demographic dividend’. If we elected the right candidate, prosperity would enter crores of lives, and in course of time India might become a middle-class country. Our opportunity came from being uniquely young; if those in the productive age got jobs, there would be gains in prosperity far outweighing the burden of supporting the old and the very young.


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9 May 2017

Triple talaq must go, but for real change India needs to become truly modern

Triple talaq is in the news again, and mostly for the wrong reasons. It represents a Muslim husband’s right in Islamic law to dissolve a marriage simply by announcing it to his wife; today, he even does it via an SMS over the cellphone.


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