On preserving liberty, preserving India Can we keep our Republic? All this has held for close to seven decades, so much that we take the Indian Republic’s survival for granted. Yet our confidence might be as contingent as the scepticism of many in the 1940s and ‘50s who didn’t think that the grand political project … Continue reading "Three thoughts on Independence Day"
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Social reform is too important an issue to surrender to an ideological monopoly It’s twitter. So it should not be surprising that it didn’t long for my tweet supporting ACLU against Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees to turn into a debate on caste. I also found out that I am not qualified to have … Continue reading "Can I have an opinion on how to annihilate caste?"
On defending democracy from populists, reminding the Supreme Court of its duty to protect liberty and on upholding representative democracy. For quiet contemplation on Republic Day: Eternal nervousness might be the price of democracy Should liberals relax when populists are democratically elected? Supporters of liberal politicians and parties sometimes do engage in the dubious sport … Continue reading "Three thoughts for the Republic"
There will be fewer takers for US promises in Asia now As promised, Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional preferential trade agreement that his predecessor put together to secure American primacy in East Asia against a rising China. It does not matter that the TPP had … Continue reading "America defeats itself"
The speed and legitimacy of social change Here’s a chart that compares various ways social change can be attempted. In the light of contemporary public debates on a number of issues — most of which land up in the Supreme Court — it is appropriate to examine the menu of options and the trade-offs in … Continue reading "How social change happens?"
New Delhi must not buckle to Chinese pressure in its engagement of Indo-Pacific countries. After hiatus of over a year, I resume my monthly column in the Business Standard on the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Indo-Pacific region. As the edit page is behind a paywall, I will put up unedited drafts, excerpts or the … Continue reading "Being credible"
Perhaps it’s time for new champions of democracy, liberty and open economies I was in a panel discussion with Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School and T K Arun, senior editor of the Deccan Herald at the Deccan Herald Spotlight, Taj West End, Bangalore on 9th January 2017. The topic of discussion was … Continue reading "Geopolitics in Trump’s age"
Stop worrying about Trump being in Putin’s pocket. Start thinking of how to deal with him. Donald Trump’s attitude and statements both during the election campaign and after his victory have led many analysts to conclude that the new president of the United States will share an unprecedented cosy relationship with Vladimir Putin, the long-time … Continue reading "Trump is not Putin’s puppet"
The defence ministry must quickly resume issuing official medals. Last week, a colleague and I were struck by what we saw at a new military supplies store that had opened in our neighbourhood. Among the usual uniforms, shoes, hats, bags and kit, we were surprised to see medals. Not just the ribbons, but the entire … Continue reading "Medalless army"
The big idea in urban transport is to get users to pay for parking and suchlike. Not another piece of paper. The Union government is considering a proposal to make car ownership contingent on the prospective buyer producing an “adequate parking space available certificate.” M Venkaiah Naidu, Union urban development minister stated that he was … Continue reading "Why parking needs more than proof of space"
Politicisation will limit politicisation Two of the more thoughtful critiques of the Modi government’s decision to jettison the principle of seniority in appointing India’s next army chief appear in the Indian Express and Business Standard today. Sushant Singh and Ajai Shukla are among the most astute commentators on the subject so it is important to … Continue reading "A better way of selecting the top brass – 2"
Satyagraha, Neoliberalism, CIA…we’re running out of ideas It is perhaps a good time for newspaper editors to stop publishing any more polemical opinion pieces on the great currency transfusion (‘demonetisation’). When someone argues that people standing in lines to deposit and withdraw their own money after being compelled to do so by the government, are … Continue reading "Time for a stiff drink"
Nothing is lost by abandoning the principle of seniority, but the armed forces need restructuring Yesterday, the Modi government decided to supersede two general officers and appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next chief of army staff. In a system where seniority has risen from a criterion to the criterion, and where “lines of … Continue reading "A better way of selecting the top brass"
As long as schadenfreude exceeds inconvenience Many of us at Takshashila have been struck by the seemingly paradoxical situation of the Prime Minister enjoying popular support for the Great Currency Swap (‘demonetisation’) even when everyone has been inconvenienced to various extents. In a recent post, I argued that this confirmed my cynical hypothesis of what … Continue reading "How long will the Great Currency Swap be popular?"
On making big bold moves in uncharted territory Over the past few weeks, many people have asked me (just as they’ve asked each other) what I think of the Modi government’s currency reform (popularly known as ‘demonetisation’). To this day, my response has been that PM Modi has taken a very risky bet, and it’s … Continue reading "A conservative criticism of the Great Currency Transfusion"