Back to blog!

Dear All! Welcome back. I have been away from the blog for a while, but have decided to renew blogging actively again. I hope to give you interesting stuff to read once or twice every week, and engage you in some sort of debate on the stuff I write. So please let me know if... Continue Reading →

My article in Seminar Magazine on Parliamentary obstruction

Following is the article I wrote for Seminar Magazine (May 2013 issue) as a response to a piece on obstructions in Parliament: Communication AN article in the February 2013 issue of Seminar titled ‘The Real Price of Parliamentary Obstruction’ by Tarunabh Khaitan highlights the issue of recent obstructionism in Parliament and elaborates on its attendant consequences. The piece highlights... Continue Reading →

Consumer protection or curb on right to speech and expression?

-writing from Harvard Law School   There have been recent news reports (though surprisingly few - here and here) on new government regulations that ostensibly seek to protect cell phone users from unwanted marketing calls, but may actually amount to restrictions on individual rights to free speech and expression. The telecom regulator TRAI introduced regulations... Continue Reading →

Can “civil” society also reform the state?

-writing from Harvard Law School.   Over the last few months, people have either whole-heartedly supported Ana Hazare's crusade against corruption, or have cautioned against the dangers of un-deliberated actions by civil society. Some have also taken pains to highlight how the movement is seemingly undemocratic.  One of the most interesting analyses I read of... Continue Reading →

India’s Foodgrain policy

I am putting up an article by Prof. Kaushik Basu (working with the Finance Ministry, and authored the Economic Survey of 2009-10) on India's foodgrain problem in Economic and Political Weekly.  He summarises the point of the article as: The simultaneous occurrence of high food inflation and large foodgrain stocks in our granaries has been... Continue Reading →

How well are major government schemes working?

The background to this post comes in the realisation that though the government has launched big ticket "social-welfare" schemes in the last decade or so, the government should not merely be throwing money at problems existing in our society.  Social welfare schemes should have well-designed, well-formulated structures which can maximise benefits to the poor or... Continue Reading →

Do strict laws really help when nobody enforces them?

In another move by the government to show its doing something about the pressing inequities in society, the Home Ministry has proposed framing stricter laws to rein in Khap Panchayats and their extra-constitutional activities.  The issue simply put, is: will stricter laws help in ensuring that the laws of the state are applicable to Khap... Continue Reading →

Commonwealth Games II: Delhi’s War on Beggars

Various anecdotal evidences from peers and one's own experiences reinforce impressions of Delhi's transition to a "world-class" city without the transition to world-class systems.  One aspect of this is simply how extreme the difference between the purchasing power of those at the top and bottom of the economic pyramid is.  However, when one hears reports... Continue Reading →

Survey on SC/ST Atrocities: The Crimes we never talk about

Media coverage on crime is heavily skewed in favour of reporting urban crime as opposed to rural, or caste-based crime.  Though we occasionally hear reports of honour killings, or entire community households being burnt down, they are reported more as examples of a malaise afflicting society.  This malaise itself is not talked about.  This post... Continue Reading →

India’s Constitution that Gandhi (never) wrote

India has developed a rich tradition of Parliamentary democracy over the past sixty years or so.  However, time and again we face major disruptions and challenges to the form of government that our founding fathers established.  It might therefore be worthwhile to examine whether there was any alternative form of democracy we could have adopted... Continue Reading →

How expensive is corruption? Public Administration I

Every instance where corruption is a topic of discussion revolves around one central question (apart from the obvious immorality of it):  How much does corruption cost society as a whole?  I recently picked up a book in an order to understand the process of public administration better.  Its preface gave at least one, objective estimate... Continue Reading →

Spectrum Scam: Confidential transcripts summarised

Some official and confidential documents relating to the 2G-Spectrum allocation scam were put up by the Hindu on its website for a while yesterday.  A read through the 2gspectrumscam document reveals a disturbing network of politicians, businessmen, PR firms and journalists.  What follows is a small summary. The CBI is investigating a criminal case under the Indian... Continue Reading →

India No. 1on “The World’s Most Inappropriate Government Agencies”

A recent article in Foreign Policy Magazine titled 'The World's Most Inappropriate Government Agencies' lists the Backward Classes Bureau as one the world's most inappropriate government agencies.  The body is separate from the National Commission for Backward Classes, and implements schemes for Backward Classes. Other such bodies in other countries include: 1. The KGB in... Continue Reading →

Local Government IV: India’s municipal bodies

Municipal Corporations Municipal corporations are formed in large urban areas, and usually have one head appointed by the government who is the ‘Commissioner’.  The other head of the municipal corporation is the Mayor, who is elected either directly by the people, or indirectly from among the elected members of the municipal corporation.[i] Though the Mayor... Continue Reading →

BJP’s “Audacity of Hope”: Gadkari’s Maharashtra manifesto

An article in the April issue of Caravan Magazine drew my attention to the writings of Nitin Gadkari, the newly elected President of the BJP.  Caravan mentioned a short 90-page book titled "Politics for Development" which was written by Gadkari.   This post summarises my impressions of his book. One of the first things that... Continue Reading →

Local Government III: States – Culprits or bystanders?

The Constitution gives the state governments the power to make laws on all matters relating to the local government, the composition and powers of municipal bodies, and other local bodies for the purpose of self-government.[i] All states therefore have legislations setting out in detail the powers and functions of municipal bodies, and other local bodies.... Continue Reading →

Local Government II: Central government and local bodies

The central government does not have a direct role to play in the functioning of municipal bodies.  It however releases funds to state governments annually for urban development.  These funds are released based on the recommendations of the Central Finance Commission’s report. The central government also has a role in municipal administration by promoting urban... Continue Reading →

How bodies such as the MCD, BMC, KMC function

India likes to tout the fact that its experiments with local self-government and decentralisation have worked wonders over the years.  Starting today, I will be putting out a series of posts on how precisely these Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) function. Part I: Background Since independence, the urban population of India has grown nearly five times. ... Continue Reading →

Counting India’s poor

We have heard time and again the agenda of the present government being to promote "inclusive growth".   One of the major debates in this area is how to increase access to public services, subsidies, essential commodities etc to the poor.  Obviously, this can be done only when the poor are counted properly.  Today's post... Continue Reading →

Parliament: Bleak Outcome for Defence

In August 2005, a new experiment was initiated by India's Ministry of Finance under P. Chidambaram.  Every Ministry would have to prepare an "Outcome Budget" and present it in parliament along with its annual budget.  An Outcome Budget, as the foreword to "Outlays and Outcomes - towards achieving better results" explains is essentially the following:... Continue Reading →

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