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The page of Gurcharan Das

29 May 2015

One-year itch: Modi shift to political centre angers both right and left

Politics is a short game while economics is a long one. Both tend to converge in the end but in the interim they pull in opposite directions. Because of this mismatch, most of the people are invariably disappointed. This is Prime Minister Modi’s problem on the first anniversary of his government. Although his record is reasonably good, he has neither met the extraordinary expectations of his supporters nor followed through on key priorities.


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28 April 2015

Ten steps that can put the railways back on track

Once upon a time we used to proudly call Indian Railways the ‘nation’s lifeline’. Today, we are embarrassed by it. Every Indian had an impossibly romantic railway memory. Today these memories have faded as successive politicians have played havoc with a grand old institution. The root problem is that railways is a state monopoly, starved by politics of investment and technology, and prevented by a pernicious departmental structure from becoming a modern, vibrant enterprise.


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27 March 2015

Land agitators forget even a farmer’s son needs a job

India elected Narendra Modi to control inflation, restrain corruption and bring back jobs. Inflation has come under control; there has been no corruption scandal in the past ten months; but jobs are nowhere in sight. Modi is banking on his ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme to revive manufacturing and deliver a million new jobs that are needed each month.


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27 February 2015

AAP staged PM must heed a Mughal prince

On the fateful day that the Aam Aadmi Party won a stunning victory in Delhi’s state election, I was captivated by the tragedy of ‘Dara’, a superb play by Pakistani writer Shaheed Nadeem, which opened recently at the National Theatre in London.


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29 January 2015

Dharma vs desire, therein hangs a morality tale

For the past few weeks Shashi Tharoor, the celebrated writer and politician, has been the victim of a phenomenon called trial by media. The media can be unkind when life takes a bad turn. It delights in raising celebrities to the sky on one day, and with equal glee brings them crashing down the next. If you live your life under the glare of publicity, you must be pre pared to be tried by the public.


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9 January 2015

To fulfil his economic agenda, Modi must manage his party’s cultural right

It has been a brilliant year for BJP and Modi’s great achievement is to have broadened its appeal to bring in a vast number of aspiring Indians who have effectively become the ‘economic right’ of the party. Having risen through their own efforts they were uncomfortable with Congress’s leftish policy of giveaways. Many, however, do not subscribe to Hindutva. Modi may have filled a political vacuum but he has created tensions in his party between the ‘economic right’ and ‘cultural right’.


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17 December 2014

Sanskrit, taught well, can be as rewarding as economics

There was a time when I used to believe like Diogenes the Cynic that I was a citizen of the world, and I used to strut about feeling that one blade of grass is much like another.


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14 November 2014

Can our best salesman sell us the free market?

Too many Indians still believe that the market makes “the rich richer and the poor poorer” and leads to corruption and crony capitalism. This is false, of course. Despite the market having generated broad-spread prosperity over two decades — lifting 250 million poor above the poverty line — people still distrust the market and the nation continues to reform by stealth.


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31 October 2014

An idiot-proof and swachh guide to nationalism

Civic virtue seldom comes naturally to human beings. It needs constant, relentless reminding and nowhere more than in India, which is still struggling to create citizens out of its people. The word ‘civic’ comes from ancient Greece and is related to ‘city’ and ‘civility’. A ‘citizen’ lived in a city and a ‘civilized’ person was expected to show concern for his fellow citizens. In this kindly act ‘civilization’ was born. Those without civic virtue were called idiots in Greece, which is, indeed, the origin of the word ‘idiot’.


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14 October 2014

The $74m Mars mission benefits India every bit as much as clean water

Last week India sent a satellite into orbit around Mars,with a low-cost, nimble mission that has stunned the world. At $74m over three years, the cost was roughly one-ninth that of the latest (also successful) US mission, which took six years. And in reaching the red planet on its first attempt, India’s space agency succeeded where many other leading powers – including the US, Russia,China and Japan– failed.


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