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The page of Gurcharan Das

8 November 2016

Beyond the control of scions in India’s family businesses

Indians have a saying that captures the tendency of family businesses to decline over generations: “The life of a business house is 60 years.” This phenomenon was portrayed by the German writer Thomas Mann in Buddenbrooks, his novel about a wealthy merchant family in the city of Lübeck whose business disintegrates as the children lose an appetite for making money.


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25 October 2016

Army’s surgical strikes did more than save India’s izzat

The terrorist killing of sleeping soldiers at Uri on September 18 revolted me. It reminded me of Ashvatthama’s night-time massacre of the sleeping Pandava armies, which turned the mood of the Mahabharata from heroic triumphalism to dark, stoic resignation. Soldiers are ready to give their lives in battle but they don’t expect to die while asleep in peacetime. For ten days I felt uneasy and angry.


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10 October 2016

Saved by the bill? Reform aims to fix India’s medical education

A fresh breeze is blowing in Delhi’s corridors and it could well turn into a squall. It is whooshing about, not in the ministries but in Niti Aayog, which has recently hired 50 professionals, educated at the world’s best universities. The first institution to experience the welcome showers will be medical colleges as part of an overhaul of the (MCI).


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9 September 2016

Independence Day quiz: Are you a patriot or a nationalist?

It was a rare afternoon in Delhi’s August. The rain had stopped and an occasional nimbus cloud punctuated the astonishingly blue sky. A quiet breeze sent me on a walk into Lodhi Gardens on the way to meet an old friend in Khan Market. Our conversation over chai was halting and uneasy and we kept returning to the ill-fated rise of nationalism in the world.


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25 July 2016

Mr Javadekar, ask these three questions before you get to work

What was supposed to be a routine cabinet expansion this week turned into a bold shake-up. The big change is at the ministry of human resource development where the affable Prakash Javadekar has replaced the combative Smriti Irani. India has been unlucky in the poor quality of its education ministers. Irani was always the wrong choice and she did not help by picking a fight with everyone. She has moved to the textiles ministry, which is not a demotion as everyone thinks.


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14 June 2016

Arrogant liberals are doing a big disservice to liberalism

A few months ago, I was at an attractive event in Delhi, surrounded by elegantly dressed, articulate Indians and a sprinkling of foreigners. Into this privileged gathering walked an awkward young man who someone recognized from Hindi television. He seemed to be lost and was mostly ignored until someone provoked him and there followed a loud, ugly argument over the JNU controversy. He put up a spirited defence of the Hindu nationalist position but he was quickly shouted down.


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27 May 2016

Stay playful: The mantra young India needs to know

A friend from my childhood was in town last month. He runs a successful startup, and as we sat drinking chai in the scorching heat, I was struck by his easy sense of playfulness. He seemed not to take himself seriously nor worry about competence. He was open to surprise and to appearing a fool, and turned all my answers into questions.


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29 April 2016

Realty doesn’t bite. More homes bring jobs and joy

My friends tell me that happiness is an ‘inside job’ and entails changing my attitude to life. They ask me to slow down, do yoga, learn to meditate, smile a lot and think of God. This spiritual talk usually leaves me feeling grim and inadequate. I have found instead that happiness lies in the small, everydayness of life — in getting absorbed in my work, laughing with a friend, stumbling onto something beautiful. It seems to be here and now, not in a distant afterlife. I could be wrong, of course, as I have not experienced the afterlife.


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29 March 2016

The real threat to India is not Kanhaiya, it’s lack of jobs

Indian political life is rich in ironies. A leftist student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, is arrested for sedition and anti-national conduct. The arrest turns him into a hero and a symbol of the freedom to dissent. The home minister defends the arrest by wrongly citing the United States as an exemplary democracy that doesn’t tolerate anti-national dissent.


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26 February 2016

The rhetoric of inequality: It’s poverty and lack of opportunity that we need to obsess about more

Inequality has again been in the news. Thomas Piketty was in India and he spoke eloquently about inequality in the world. The French economist’s answer is a progressive global tax on the ultra-rich.


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