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The page of Gurcharan Das

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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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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