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The page of Gurcharan Das

28 January 2014

Inflation, not corruption, will be the key issue in LS* polls

In the last assembly elections, the aam admi complained inconsolably of rising prices. TV clips showed voters quoting the prices of potatoes, onions, and dal. Pundits put it down to the ‘usual election whining’, but more than corruption, inflation turned out to be the reason for Congress’ defeat. Even though it has slowed a bit recently, all political parties are warned — the aam admi is not going to forget the pain of inflation in the coming general election.


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17 December 2013

Desire or dharma: Dilemma that is as old as the vedas*

Over the past few weeks we have been mesmerized by the tragic story of Tarun Tejpal. He was a moral voice to a whole generation, looked up to for courageous and uncompromising journalism. The evidence of sexual assault against the founder editor of Tehelka suggests that he not only failed a young colleague but collectively all journalists, workingwomen, and his legion of admirers. Millions of words have been written on this story but no one has explained why men in positions of power behave badly.


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7 November 2013

Secularism or development: Making the right choice

At long last India’s democracy is moving in the right direction in offering voters genuine choices in the upcoming general elections. One of these is a choice between “left of centre” and “right of centre” economic policies — a polarization that exists in many democracies and ends in educating citizens about two distinct paths to prosperity. The two main parties, Congress and the BJP (after Narendra Modi became its official candidate) now reflect this polarity.


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27 September 2013

Long-term prosperity vs short-term populism

“Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards,” says an epitaph from the philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. It rightly belongs on the grave of this dying UPA government that has destroyed our economy, with the traumatic collapse of the rupee its latest achievement. The epitaph reminds us that we must not ignore history if we want to lead a reasonably predictable life in the future.


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30 July 2013

Just one hour a week is the answer to our political discontent

Democracy is as depressing in practice as it is uplifting in theory. There have been so many corruption scandals in the past few years but political parties refuse to learn. In Uttar Pradesh, which always leads the country in bad behaviour, workers of the Samajwadi Party are back to their crooked old ways while they settle scores against Dalits. At the centre, the UPA has pushed through a dreadful food security law via an ordinance in a desperate move to shore up its popularity before the coming elections, knowing full well its potential for fraud and waste.


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24 May 2013

Narendra Modi: temptation of the middle class

The sudden ascent of stocky, 62 year old Narendra Modi as a serious contender for the nation’s leadership has taken people by surprise. The general election is still a year away but the average, open minded, middle-of- the-road Indian wonders how to think about the polarizing chief minister of Gujarat. Either you love him or hate him, which is precisely why one must not react with a knee-jerk but try and go beyond the shallow surface of a flawed but remarkable human being.


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9 April 2013

Food security, Corruption by another Name

On the same day as the central cabinet approved the food security bill two weeks ago, Sheila Dixit stood up courageously to defend the rising price of electric power in Delhi. By not raising the power subsidy, Delhi’s chief minister was able to increase investment in roads, public transport, education and health care. The contrast between the two actions could not have been more dramatic.


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24 February 2013

A budget speech you will never hear

It is Budget time again and next Thursday the finance minister will address parliament with a speech which you will never hear except from my auto-wallah.


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11 January 2013

Stop talking, start doing

Ratan Tata is a reticent man. He is 74 and retired as chairman after guiding his group to be the country’s number one, $ 100 billion, in revenues. He commands respect not only from his 450,000 employees but from the entire global business community. He is courteous and complains rarely.


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8 December 2012

To equate capitalism with greed is a mistake

On an evening in early October , the announcer at one of our premier news channels screamed 'greed' while describing the misdeeds of the latest victim of Arvind Kejriwal. Earlier that day, Mr Kejriwal had accused Robert Vadra of receiving favours from the real estate company DLF Ltd. In the next breath, the announcer explained that crony capitalism was at the root of the problem.


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