Across the Aisle: Modi govt believes it can fool all the people all the time, writes P Chidambaram

APMC market yards are, however, important players in states like Punjab and Haryana where the marketable surplus is huge.
An Indian farmer carries fodder to feed cattle at Ranbir Singh Pura, on the outskirts of Jammu (AP Photo)

Boosting pulses production: From scarcity to sufficiency

India used to import pulses in large quantities. With MSP & procurement schemes for pulses, domestic production shot up, putting us on the path to Atmanirbharta

There was a 42% increase in production of pulses, unheard of in any other category of food articles.

Act decisively against cartels

According to the CCI Annual Report for FY19, of the total penalties amounting to about Rs 13,881 crore, the amount realised was only Rs 127 crore

As early as 483 AD, the Constitution of Zeno provided for property confiscation and banishment for joint action of monopolies or price-fixing in products like clothes, fish and other goods.

Unified digital policy framework is a need of the hour

Such an overarching framework can be the skeleton for all state and central policies on the various areas that concern, or are impacted by, digital technology—from AI, cybersecurity and data privacy

In between, there was National Digital Communication Policy, 2018 and comments were sought on the Draft PDP Bill as drafted by the committee chaired by Justice Srikrishna.

Cloud computing: Immense potential of Pocket PCs in country like India

Pocket PCs are here, and they promise to revolutionise computing and access to computers

However, the gains from cloud computing are not lost on other tech giants. (Representative image)

Vodafone shows up India in a big way

From unfair tax administration to challenging even arbitration awards, India is a tough place to do business

The Vodafone case was wrong in so many ways, indeed it is the perfect symbol of just how treacherous it is to business in India even today.

Agri reforms: Where did the APMCs go wrong?

States subverted the intention behind the creation of APMCs to serve their revenue interests, but APMCs remain crucial to price discovery and must reinvent themselves

Over time, the system, designed with good intentions, deteriorated and vested interests took over.

Virtual no more: Digital crimes becoming a threat larger than previously imagined

India specifically needs to reimagine its cyber-defence, moving from a multi-front (government departments and state governments have their separate mechanisms) approach to a more centralised system.

Last year, India was the centre of the attack, and hackers were able to gain access to the Kudankulam nuclear plant.

Setting a gold standard: A common gold standard across India will set the platform for a gold policy

The industry has an annual gold jewellery exports of more than $9 billion and provides employment to at least 3-5 million.

A free flow of gold would also require an encouragement of mining.

Cess-and-desist: Cesses are unfair to states and, CAG says, mostly misused

The CAG report for FY14, for instance, spoke of how Rs 66,117 crore had been collected under the USO Fund—for providing telecom services in rural areas—but of this Rs 39,134 crore was never transf

A ‘social welfare surcharge’ of Rs 8,871 crore was levied on Customs, but no fund was created for this.

Bills of change: Punjab should reform its subsidy structure and reduce its MSP dependence

States have no qualms in taking advantage of centrally sponsored schemes yet argue that agriculture is a state subject.

Free power and assured procurement of paddy by the FCI at a pre-determined MSP has led to a shift to rice growing in Punjab.

Pesticides Management Bill: Not really in India’s interest

If the Bill is implemented as proposed, it would be detrimental for the Indian economy; India will lose out on foreign exchange and the potential to generate employment

By not mandating registration of technical grade pesticide with formulations, the bureaucracy is doing the biggest disadvantage to Indian farmers, given how it impacts manufacturing in India. (Representative image)

Low-effectiveness Covid vaccine a Hobson’s choice

Setting vaccine effectiveness threshold at 50% is a compulsion, as CDSCO has, but need to consider pitfalls too

And, even if eradication is not a feasible short-run goal, trying to retard a disease like Covid-19 meaningfully will require a large chunk of the population developing immunity through the potential vaccine.

Farm reform? Why I can’t support the new farm Bills

The Essential Commodities Act hasn’t been really defanged, and the new law on contract farming does not look at the fundamental obstacle to formal contract farming—the various restrictive laws on

These three ordinances, and, now, the Bills are being touted as the 1991 liberalisation moment for agriculture.

Tribal welfare: GI tag can help ST entrepreneurs thrive

States must identify how traditional products can qualify for GI tags

For instance, post the GI tag, the price of Kadaknath Chicken, a native breed of the Dhar and Jhabua districts in Madhya Pradesh and primarily nurtured by the Bhil tribals, has gone up significantly.

Strengthening cities: Property tax is the key to unlocking potential

State and local governments across India should digitise property tax systems to unlock their revenue-raising potential

Successful reforms of the property tax system could thus help both individual cities as well as states with better access to resources.

Agrarian reforms: Can over-reliance on MSP harm agricultural states?

Dependence on MSP-led procurement of grains has led to low crop diversification in states like Punjab, keeping farmers from reaping the benefits of high-value crops

By focusing on lower-valued crops, Punjab is missing benefits of diversification that Bihar is tapping on.

Foreign investment rules: FPI investment by the Chinese

Should the government give regulators and licensing authorities the power to act in national interest?

The rule was also to transfer of ownership of any existing or future FDI in an entity in India.

Unrecognised labour: Frontline workers, such as ASHA workers, need to be incentivised by govt

Add to this new responsibilities such as screening migrants, contact tracing, etc, and it is fair to say frontline workers have rendered crucial services to the nation.

On the contrary, an Oxfam survey notes, only 23% of ASHA workers were provided bodysuits; with respect to the usage of PPEs, nearly one in four ASHA workers never received any training.

Few farmers really worry about MSP

Just 5-6% of the value of agricultural output is sold at MSP, and this is mainly restricted to a few north Indian states

With nearly Rs 5,000 crore at stake every year, apart from an assured market for its farmers, not surprisingly, Punjab is at the forefront of the agitation.

Transforming education! NEP 2020: Voice of the unheard

The NEP demonstrates an audacity to dream big, to give voice to the unheard from the rural and tribal hinterland

Farm ordinances: One nation, one market

The agri-reforms are a step towards a single national agri-market

We argue that the ordinance is a step towards creating a unified national market, thereby strengthening distribution and supply chains for agricultural produce in India.

Is a 5% trend GDP growth likely to be the new normal?

From the response to the pandemic to increased statism, as Ruchir Sharma argues, India is relatively badly placed

The right prescription? Rural stint for PG students good, but don’t burden private colleges

While many experts have called for a series of measures—conversion of district hospitals into teaching hospitals, creating a cadre of nurse practitioners, etc—to bridge the healthcare personnel ga

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