Bibek Debroy

Articles By Bibek Debroy

127 Articles

A president preaches: What should a president write on?

With revelations to justifications, Pranab Mukherjee’s last memoir begs the question, what should a president write on?

It’s more a question of morality and ethics.

National Rail Plan: Indian Railways’ route to growth

Other than reiterating policy issues and listing operational constraints within the Railways, the primary value addition of the NRP is analysis of the existing network

But DFCs are meant to do that, aren’t they, be dedicated? In the process, they free up capacity elsewhere.

Essential commodities act: The essential and the non-essential

There is an issue of de-seasonalising prices of agricultural commodities, often subject to cycles. But ECA doesn’t solve that problem. It is solved by ensuring storage and processing, allowing markets to function, not throu

A case for pre-packs: Insolvency resolution in India could benefit from pre-packs

Pre-pack incorporates the benefits of both informal and formal insolvency proceedings. In many jurisdictions, there exists a codified framework for pre-packs

“Nevertheless, being fully aware of the need to provide commensurate NCLT capacity, government has proposed in the budget that NCLT framework will be strengthened and e-Courts system shall be implemented,” Sahoo said.

Land of syrup & honey? Traceability, technology and digitisation can help ensure purity of honey

As a consumer, when you buy multi-flora honey, you probably pay Rs 400 per kg or more. But the beekeeper’s price has crashed to Rs 75 per kg, making apiculture unviable. What’s wrong?

The plain truth: Judgements should be made easier to Comprehend, by use of simpler phrasing

The unnecessary ‘latinisation’ of legal concepts also needs to be avoided

When asking the ministry of law and justice and the Bar Council to respond, the Chief Justice of India referred to Anthony Burgess’ book (1964) Language Made Plain.

The PH factor: Why should farmers, even those in Punjab and Haryana, not have the choice?

Reforms are about choice, competition and efficiency, and those haven’t touched agriculture.

The 2015-16 Agriculture Census tells us that most operational holdings are in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, in that order.

National Educational Policy: Rebooting the legacy

The real issue is amnesia about our history, roots, culture, legacy and language, and production of interpreters and clerks. That is what NEP 2020 seeks to reboot

But were orientalists familiar with any of the scholars mentioned in the NEP quote?

Looking back: Breaking Through is a chatty, warm and humorous account of a full life lived well

The trigger for these articles was Isher Judge Ahluwalia, who was then working on her 1991 book on productivity and growth (for Indian manufacturing).

Isher Judge Ahluwalia with husband Montek Singh Ahluwalia (Express photo)

NEP 2020: Bibek Debroy explains philosophy behind MPhil

The NEP 2020 has done away with Mphil. it was considered an essential filter for pursuing A PhD. However, it seems to be more of an exit option

For 2018-19, we have some numbers from All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE).

China, quid without a quo: 1954 India-China trade agreement was one-sided affair

By any yardstick, the trade agreement was one-sided, in favour of China. Today, any negotiator who agreed to this would be hauled over the coals.

In any such trade agreement, while negotiating, negotiators try to identify products where their country has a comparative advantage, though comparative advantage is necessarily dynamic and changes over time.

Pests and Law: Drumming up support against locusts

Anything built into legislation has to be formally repealed. Consequently, an anachronism like Section 4(1)(2) remains. The ordinance should have lapsed

Indeed, locusts are efficient sources of food, far more than meat, but obviously, not when swarms have been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

Robinson Crusoe’s skills: Because of the virus, some autarky vis-à-vis the external world is inevitable

But Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson (published 1812) are also a metaphor for something else, that of self-reliance, which is why economists coined the expression, Robinson Crusoe economy.

But growth, productivity and employment are about society’s economic goals, not morality.

Risk, uncertainty and COVID-19: A stark choice

Risk has a known probability distribution. For uncertainty, the probability distribution is unknown. Covid-19 makes us confront uncertainty, not risk

If I mechanically divide India’s Covid-19 deaths by its total number of confirmed cases, I will get a death rate just over 3%.

Covid-19 Pandemic: Why India urgently needs a uniformed statute

The seventh schedule lists health as a state subject, and different states have provisions that aren’t necessarily uniform and harmonised.

Today, health issues are different, and broader, than what they were in 1897. (PTI Image)

Bite that beetle: Entomophagy promises smaller environment footprint, higher food conversion efficiency

Two billion people eat insects today, but for many, they are not part of mainstream diet. With global population soaring, humans will be forces to seek them out as a food source.

Distorted balance of India’s population pyramid: Ageing population creates pressing economic concern

With declining birth and death rates having distorted the balance of the population pyramid, social security for senior citizens has become a pressing economic concern

Indian Railways reforms: A single cadre for Railways management

The newly minted Indian Railways Management service can break down the silos that plague the Railways. But this will not be without its challenges

Railway reforms, Indian Railways, IRPS, Debroy Committee, UPSC, Railway Board, Group of Secretaries

Indian Railways departmentalism worse than 1905! Reforms to cut Railway Board, merge cadre the right step

Departmentalism plagued the management of the railways, the railway board reform addresses this

Indian Railways

Salt bureaucracy pounding salt

With other departments/bodies having assumed most of their functions, the most that Salt departments can do today is to exploit the land they own.

Justice delayed: Are fast-track courts fast enough?

In 2017, Fast-track courts in only six states managed to dispose 50% of their cases within a year.

Swachh Bharat shows how to nudge the right way

Setting up a ‘behaviour insight team’ in the govt, to help different ministries incorporate psychological and cognitive dimensions in public policy, may be useful.

swachh bharat mission,

Junk Boilers Act and relook Seventh Schedule

With perceptions about inspections by private companies having changed, the Indian Boilers Act, 1923, and the entire Seventh Schedule, needs a relook.

Irrespective of whether boilers needed oil and grease or not, inspectors did. Since 2014, there have been more relaxations, with self-certification pushed (Representational Image)

Restructuring of centrally sponsored schemes cannot be done without consultation with states

A CSS restructuring/rationalisation debate requires relook at the Seventh Schedule, and cannot be done without consultation with states at an appropriate forum.

The difference between a CS and a CSS is that for a central sector scheme, all expenditure is borne by the Union government

Giving legal rights to water bodies a great leap forward

Without contesting pollution in Ganga and Yamuna, one should be sceptical of lists and rankings, both because of data problems (there are good data only for OECD) and because of the way numbers are used

Ill-being of rivers is primarily due to raw sewage and industrial waste. (Representational image)

India’s economic journey: A fountain-pen story

Though fountain-pens weren’t branded, the ink certainly was. It was, and had to be, Sulekha. Sulekha Works, started initially in 1934 in what is now Bangladesh, was identified with self-reliance and the Independence movemen

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GDP revisions and what has been said on growth numbers

Revising GDP series isn't unusual. Nor should one ascribe a malignant motive to a continuous and evolving process.

Income Tax Calculator, Budget 2019, How to Calculate Income Tax


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