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The page of Gurcharan Das

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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7 September 2014

Cautious optimism is the verdict on Modi’s 100 days

Indians elected Narendra Modi to create masses of jobs, give good governance, and control inflation. It is too soon to tell if he will keep his three promises. The first hundred days indicate how he intends to pursue these three objectives. The verdict so far leaves us cautiously optimistic.


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5 August 2014

Two months on, mantra’s clear: Less talk, more action

It’s been a little over two months since the Modi sarkar came to power. Too soon, perhaps, for a definitive assessment, but there are signs of change; patterns are emerging; and even hints of a larger picture. Where we had expected discontinuity there is surprising continuity. This may say something about the evolution of authority, a maturing of the Indian state.


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9 July 2014

After months of talk, it’s go time for new PM

John Ruskin, the 19th century British art critic, once re marked that the greatest contribution that an aristocratic duke could make to the modern world would be to take a job as a grocer. This apparently bizarre suggestion goes to the heart of middle-class dignity -an idea that I identified in my last column to explain the significance of Narendra Modi’s victory. In our unequal, hierarchical Indian society, we need to correct our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life.


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19 June 2014

Modi’s moment is about middle class dignity

If Indians won their political freedom in August 1947 and their economic freedom in July 1991, they have attained dignity in May 2014. This is the significance of Narendra Modi’s landslide victory. The hopes and dreams of an aspiring new middle class have been affirmed for the first time in India’s history. Modi has made millions believe that their future is open, not predetermined, and can be altered by their own actions.


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16 May 2014

Modi shouldn't forget Fareed and millions like him

It has been an exhilarating month. We have marvelled at the sights and sounds of India's great election mela on our television screens. The image, most memorably etched in my mind is of a confident Muslim boy, Fareed, in a small town in Western UP. When the female interviewer asks his name, he retorts with a flirtatious smile, "Who wants to know?"


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17 April 2014

Secularism or growth? The choice is yours

This month’s national election may well be the most important in India’s history. Our country faces a limited window of opportunity called the 'demographic dividend' and if we elect the right candidate, prosperity will enter crores of lives. And in the course of time, India will become a middle class country. If we elect the wrong candidate, India will experience a ‘demographic disaster’ and the great hope of youth will turn into despair.


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7 March 2014

Elect to transform India with eight big ideas

The world is divided between optimists and pessimists. Optimists believe that if the government invests in infrastructure ,removes barriers facing entrepreneurs,jobs will multiply, the economy will grow and the country will gradually turn middle-class. Pessimists worry about problems — inequality, crony capitalism, degrading environment, etc. The problems are real but optimists focus on opportunities and lead nations to success. Let’s hope an optimist is elected in 2014 after a decade of UPA’s pessimism, and here are eight big ideas to help him/her restore India to health.


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