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The page of Gurcharan Das

13 October 2015

Smriti Irani, have a good cry. Then give 240m kids a chance

Smriti Irani should begin by asking why 15-year-olds from India who took part in a famous international test came second last — only ahead of Kyrgyzstan. Yes, Indians ranked 73 out of 74 in 2011 in a simple test of reading, science and arithmetic called PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). The response of the UPA government to this shocking result was to refuse to participate again in PISA.

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28 September 2015

Death penalty: Life can be far worse, says the Mahabharata

It has been over a month since we hanged Yakub Memon. Since then many Indians have wondered, what did we achieve? Some are worried that we may have made Yakub into a martyr, especially among a section of Muslims who feel that they are singled out for the death penalty. Others believe that justice was done, sending a powerful signal to terrorists. In a landmark report, the Law Commission, headed by Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, has now recommended abolishing capital punishment, except in terrorist cases.

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8 September 2015

Trading communities thrive on risks, trust

Unlike the mood of diminished expectations in the West, ours is an age of rising expectations. India has risen in the past quarter century on the back of liberal economic reforms. Sixty-four countries, however, made the same reforms as India, but why did India become the world’s second fastest-growing economy? I am not sure if anyone really knows, but my own ‘politically incorrect’ answer is that if you make reforms in a society where there are groups who know how to accumulate and conserve capital, your reforms will have a bigger bang.

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21 August 2015

Elusive tryst with destiny: Sixty-eight years into Independence, the market still remains in chains

An approaching Independence Day is a good time to pause, extend our circle of concern beyond day-to-day events, and reflect upon our nation`s journey over the past 68 years as a free nation. As i look back on our confused history as an independent nation, i discern in the fog three great milestones: in August 1947 we won our political freedom; in July 1991 we gained economic liberty; and in May 2014 we attained dignity.

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31 July 2015

Wanted: Vyapam reforms to overhaul our democracy

Something has gone terribly wrong with our republic. There are ominous clouds over the approaching monsoon session of Parliament. When MPs should be deeply concerned with the fragile nature of our economic recovery, debating how to create a million jobs a month, they are straggling back to work in a stupor having forgotten why they were elected.

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30 June 2015

Modi is building on India’s wondrous trading past

Last week’s historic accord with Bangladesh erased a dispute as old as Kashmir while nudging the subcontinent towards a common market.Trade and investment have been the refreshing focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomacy. He understands instinctively that power emanates from a bowl of rice, not from the barrel of a gun. In this respect, he is following an ancient tradition that once made India a great trading nation that carried its amazing soft power on merchant ships.

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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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