2016

Bigger than Panama: Clean up global tax havens but India’s deeper problems lie in domestic kala dhan

panama papers

A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!” wrote the British playwright Leigh Mercer in 1948. Long before Project Prometheus made Panama synonymous with the biggest data leak in history, it was famous for the Panama palindrome: clever wordplay that reads the same backwards or forwards. Revelations from 11.5 million documents and 2.6 terabytes of […..]

Watching, Streaming, and Other Things to Do with TV

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In early- 2014, when India’s over 400 TV news channels were enmeshed in a bitter fight for ratings to cover the most significant election of their lifetimes – with then-challenger Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party taking on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in a presidential-style campaign – many experimented with political satire. […..]

Lessons in Apple nationalism: Not just angry nationals, but thinking nationals

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Imagine if an Indian corporate bigwig – say Vishal Sikka of Infosys – was asked by NIA, investigating the Pathankot terror attacks, to get his company to write software hacking into a confirmed terrorist’s digital or financial transactions. Now imagine if he flatly refused, arguing that this would breach Infosys’s confidentiality agreements with clients, leave […..]

Explaining Trump, the “Frankenstein’s monster”

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Two months ago, Strobe Talbott, President of Washington’s venerable Brookings Institution, told me that it was “extremely unlikely” that Donald Trump would get the nomination and if he did Strobe would “fly back to Delhi” and buy me “expensive dinner”. Now, few people know American politics better than Strobe Talbott, also a former Deputy Secretary […..]

Budget a wasted opportunity … do structural reform of factor and product markets … I stand by Ishrat affidavit: P Chidambaram

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P Chidambaram was finance and home minister in the UPA government and is the author of Standing Guard: A Year in Opposition. He spoke to TOI on Arun Jaitley’s budget, the NDA government and Ishrat Jahan. You have called the budget a wasted opportunity. Why? This government has a majority which no government has had […..]

Why 5,000 cops cant do what 5,000 troops can?

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Quiz question: how many police-wallas in Haryana? Answer: 56,979. Yet, when Jat agitators took over its streets, this large force seemed to just collapse in the face of real civic disorder from its own brethren. Much of the Army too comes from the same stock but when it was called in, roughly 5,000 of its […..]

Explaining BJP’s Jat problem and the reservation bogey

Jat community members protest at Rohtak

Haryana’s chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is not only a first time MLA, he is also a Punjabi khatri. Seven of Haryana’s chief ministers so far have been Jats and the former RSS pracharak from Rohtak, hand-picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead the state’s BJP government in 2014, is struggling to deal with […..]