All Blogs

August 25, 2020

Development Strategy|Governance & Politics|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE

by 

NITIN DESAI

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July 14, 2020

Development Strategy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

NATURE IN PERIL

by

NITIN DESAI

 

....Read More


June 24, 2020

By Nitin Desai

 

Trapped for months at home with nothing to do all day

By a virus that refuses to go aw....Read More


June 16, 2020

Indian Economy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The fiscal conservatism of the finance ministry means growth revival is going to take longer and may not be seen till late in the next fiscal year or even later.

Discussions about the C....Read More


May 19, 2020

Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The current Covid epidemic has been compared with the great plague of the of the 14th century which led to revolutionary changes in the polity, economy and society in Europe. There are some who argue that the Covid epidermic will have a similar&nb....Read More


March 24, 2020

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Good governance requires good politics, something we are seriously short of now. Today our political process is rife with hate speeches that divide communities, groups using violence to do precisely this, acrimonious re....Read More


February 22, 2020

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Keynes said that “If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.” Montek Singh Ahluwalia is one such dentist who, quietly....Read More


February 17, 2020

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

There is a great deal of talk these days that the revival of growth will require major policy reforms. Vijay Kelkar and Ajay Shah in their outstanding book on the art and science of economic policy, give the thumb rule ....Read More


January 20, 2020

Development Strategy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

When the Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman presented her first budget in July 2019, this columnist, like many others, had listed a litany of economic woes including the sharp decline in the growth rate of GDP, fi....Read More


December 23, 2019

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The past week has seen the rapid spread of public protests against the NRC and the CAA. Besides the immediate cause, these protests also reflect a growing sense that a ruling party that won 37% of the popular vote is ra....Read More


November 25, 2019

Development Strategy

By NITIN DESAI

In July of this year Prime Minister dismissed as professional pessimists those who questioned the $5 trillion economic goal.  The budget also gave little thought to the gr....Read More


October 07, 2019

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The recent corporate rate tax cuts  have enthused the share market but are not sufficient to lift the growth rate to anywhere near the levels required for the $5 trillion ....Read More


August 05, 2019

International Relations|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

June and July 2019 have been some of the hottest months in  recorded history and 2015-2019 was also the hottest  five year ....Read More


July 08, 2019

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The Economic Survey and the budget speech have both focused attention on the need to boost the growth rate beyond its current 6-7% band. The goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy in five years is clearly the driving fo....Read More


June 10, 2019

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

Less than a month from now the new Finance Minister, Ms.Nirmala Sitharaman, will present the first budget of the reelected government. Her challenge is to combine a sense of continuity with a promise of change to meet t....Read More


May 13, 2019

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

We are now entering the last leg of one of the nastiest election campaigns that we have seen in this country. There has been little or no discussion of policies and a virtual absence of any defence of the government's p....Read More


April 15, 2019

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

In April 1947 the Constituent Assembly of India decided on holding elections on the basis of universal suffrage to fulfil the demand that had been raised during the freedom movement. In a way it was a reaction to the el....Read More


March 18, 2019

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Over the past few weeks we have heard a lot about the Rafale deal in the political playground and the media. The focus of the arguments is mainly around the cost of the present deal as compared to the earlier one which ....Read More


February 18, 2019

Indian Economy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Are coalition governments bad for the economy? This, question has arisen because of the high probability that the coming general election may give us a hung parliament. The concern is not about nominal coalitions like w....Read More


January 21, 2019

Indian Economy|Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

On February 1, 2019 the finance minister will present the final budget of this administration. It should be an interim budget as this is an election year and the regular budget for the 2019-20 should be presented after ....Read More


December 24, 2018

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, the highpoint of a season of goodwill and a time to remember the benign aspects of religious belief. Unfortunately, that is not possible in India because of the growing prevalence of religion ....Read More


November 26, 2018

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Government has opened up the issue of the relationship between the Finance Ministry and the RBI. The public criticism by each protagonist about the other in the weeks leading up to the 19 November board meeting, was....Read More


October 18, 2018

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The recent report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the aspirational target in the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C makes three important points:

    Read More


September 20, 2018

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The deteriorating trends in the current account deficit have been known for some time. But the government reacted only when the fall in the rupee value hit the headlines, possibly because it was concerned about the poli....Read More


August 16, 2018

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The recent IMF Report on the Indian economy projects a gradual acceleration of growth but also draws attention to several downside risks. The report uses circumspect language about demonetisation and the botched GST imp....Read More


July 19, 2018

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Thousands of scientists, academics and students staged a March for Science in August 2017 and April 2018 all over India.  Inspired by a global movement, these marches were....Read More


June 21, 2018

Capital Markets|Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Policy makers are struggling with several problems that can be attributed to one core deficiency - the failure to develop a rational policy framework and an effective term finance system for long gestation infrastructur....Read More


May 17, 2018

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

This month  marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, perhaps the most influential political philosopher of our times. At a time when capitalism seems to be l....Read More


April 19, 2018

Global Economy|International Relations

By Nitin Desai

Can China become a global leader in defining the contours of green growth? It appears to be aiming at that, judging by the speeches made over the past year or so  by Xi Ji....Read More


March 22, 2018

Governance & Politics|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The recent Supreme Court judgement on the Cauvery waters dispute has provoked this reflection on water governance. 

Freshwater is becoming an increasingly scarce resource ....Read More


February 22, 2018

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

The presentation of the union budget to Parliament is fast changing from the Constitutional requirement which speaks only of an annual statement about the receipts and expenditures of the Government.Read More


January 11, 2018

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Has the economy turned around and is the growth process back on track? The government’s statisticians are now projecting a 6.5 per cent growth rate for gross domestic product (GDP) in this fiscal year, lower than ....Read More


December 14, 2017

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Job creation is considered to be the most serious developmental challenge that India faces. It is a major source of contention in the political space. Data warriors have been arguing about the impact of demonetisation o....Read More


November 16, 2017

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

A little over forty years ago, when I joined the Planning Commission, Prof. Chakravarthi asked me to formulate a model for short term macro-policy analysis. My response was in the genre of a monsoon compensation model -....Read More


October 18, 2017

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Today marks the end of Samvat 2073 and the beginning of Samvat 2074 in some parts of India. The turn of the year is a time when one takes stock of the past and assesses what lies ahead. Yesterday on Diwali, many busines....Read More


September 21, 2017

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The stock market is booming but there is gloom in many boardrooms.  In many a spirit of caution reigns and in some balance-sheet woes are the source of concern.Read More


August 14, 2017

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Seventy years ago, on this day, was our tryst with destiny. The hopes, articulated forcefully by Pandit Nehru in that great speech, seemed reasonable and reachable for those of us who grew up in that era. How far have t....Read More


July 17, 2017

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Recently a seminar organized by the Institute for Human Development in Delhi discussed the proposals for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) put forward by Pranab Bardhan, and Vijay Joshi whose presence at the seminar added ....Read More


June 20, 2017

Indian Economy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The farmer’s agitation in Madhya Pradesh and several other States has raised concerns about the health of the agricultural sector. It is worth noting that the farmer’s agitation this year has come in the wak....Read More


May 15, 2017

International Relations|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The Trump administration has signalled its intentions of backing out of commitments the USA made at the Paris meeting of the UN Climate Convention in 2015. This matters because the USA accounts for about 14% of global g....Read More


April 17, 2017

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The GDP numbers that have come out recently show a continuing decline in the rate of investment, reflected also in the low level of credit growth to industry. Demonetisation may have affected economic activity less than....Read More


March 22, 2017

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The narratives that politicians fashion to project their vision of the past,  present and future have a profound influence on the trajectory of development. Such narrative....Read More


February 22, 2017

Indian Economy|Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

One month of the Trump presidency has confirmed the fears that were expressed after his surprise victory. His acts are as extreme as his views and have been restrained only by the checks and balances in the US political....Read More


January 25, 2017

Global Economy|International Relations

By Nitin Desai

On 20th of January 2017 a speech delivered from the steps of the Capitol in Washington DC signalled the end of the post war world order.  The country that led the developm....Read More


December 21, 2016

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

The Finance Minister will present the budget for 2017-18 in an economy reeling under the hammer blows of the demonetisation exercise, a sharp fall in consumer and business confidence, a continuing slowdown in corporate ....Read More


November 23, 2016

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The massive demonetisation exercise undertaken by the government has caused widespread disruption of cash transactions. Much of the focus right now is, quite rightly, on mitigating the short term pain being suffered by ....Read More


October 26, 2016

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Is the tax reform agenda running aground? That is the impression one gathers from the Centre's proposals on GST  presented at the mid-October meeting of the GST Council. T....Read More


September 21, 2016

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force when it is ratified by at least 55 signatories accounting for 55% of greenhouse gas emissions. As of mid-September 28 countries accounting for 39% of emissions....Read More


August 24, 2016

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The Government has made a wise choice for the Reserve Bank Governor in Urjit Patel who has the domain knowledge, experience and professional standing that the job demands.  Read More


July 27, 2016

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

This week marks the twenty-fifth anniversary  of the budget that launched a major  liberalisation process for the Indian ec....Read More


June 22, 2016

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Raghuram Rajan's imminent departure from the RBI has been regretted by many who value competence in the making and implementation of economic policy.  Now that his departu....Read More


May 25, 2016

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The severe drought that has hit many parts of India has reminded us about the vulnerability of rural areas to  environmental stress. For over fifty years now we have had a....Read More


April 27, 2016

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Why are so many economists writing about the current state of politics in India? Clearly they have not run out of things to say about the state of the economy and what needs to be done to accelerate growth and promote d....Read More


March 23, 2016

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Fifty years ago the American historian, Richard Hofstadter wrote a seminal essay on "The Paranoid Style in American Politics".  The context was the emergence of Barry Gold....Read More


February 25, 2016

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The finance minister faces an unenviable challenge. He has to find resources for higher public investment and a quantum jump in pay and pension provisions in the budget.  ....Read More


January 28, 2016

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

The Finance Minister faces a difficult problem in choosing between two sets of advisers. Both factions accept that the budget must aim at stimulating  investment. One grou....Read More


November 16, 2015

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The Paris Agreement on climate change has been approved by the 195 nations after four years of arduous negotiation. It has been welcomed by the exhausted officials who negotiated it, described as a middling good outcome....Read More


November 18, 2015

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The Paris climate negotiations are just a few days ahead. The base for this exercise is the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) tabled by country governments. These offers are not up for negotiation. The....Read More


October 14, 2015

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

A recent report prepared for this year's annual Fund-Bank meeting gave a much lower figure for the incidence of poverty in India than what is commonly cited-12.4% in 2011-12 rather than the official figure of 21.1%. The....Read More


September 16, 2015

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

Two recent events have provoked this reflection on the role of large corporates in our economy.  The first is the Prime Minister's meeting with corporate leaders aimed at ....Read More


August 26, 2015

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

Storm clouds are gathering and our polity and economy are going to face rough weather in the months ahead.  In Delhi there is a breakdown in the political cultureRead More


July 15, 2015

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

On 30 June China submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the the global effort for the mitigation of climate change risks. China intends to peak carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 2030 ....Read More


June 17, 2015

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

This year we have seen several thousand Indians, mostly poor labourers, die in the heat waves that have hit many parts of the country. Last year Kashmir suffered the worst flood in living memory. Indian meteorologists, ....Read More


May 20, 2015

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Government’s proposals for amending the UPA’s 2013 Land Acquisition Act has run into a storm of protests. Presumably the Government is pursuing this because it believes that its proposed amendments are e....Read More


April 15, 2015

Global Economy|International Relations

By Nitin Desai

The Prime Minister's visit to China next month is the most important state visit he will make given the centrality of China for our strategic, economic and environmental concerns. The PM's talks with the Chinese leaders....Read More


March 18, 2015

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

The only period of very high growth that India has known, from 2003-04 to 2010-11, was driven by a corporate investment boom. The central economic challenge for the Government in its drive to accelerate infrastructure d....Read More


February 18, 2015

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

The Aam Aadmi  has delivered a clear message to the political class - we are the boss not you. Perform or perish. And as your boss we want a government free of corruption ....Read More


January 14, 2015

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

We now have a successor to the Planning Commission with a carefully contrived acronym as its name, perhaps to signal what the institution is expected to do. What a pity they did not call it National Institute for Transf....Read More


December 17, 2014

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The latest round of the global negotiations on climate change ended last Sunday in the usual fashion, with the host country, Peru, brokering a decision by exhaustion nearly two days after the scheduled end of the confer....Read More


November 19, 2014

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

In a few weeks the parties to the UN Climate Convention will meet in Lima, Peru to prepare for their Paris meeting in 2015. This is the culmination of a process that began in Durban inRead More


October 14, 2014

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Kailash Satyarthi Is a tribute to a very special set of social activists. They are the ones who believe in Gandhiji's idea that political action must combine sangharsh and ....Read More


September 17, 2014

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Government's decision to wind up the Planning Commission and replace it with another institution has led to a spate of suggestions in this paper and elsewhere. So many and so diverse are these suggestions that the P....Read More


August 20, 2014

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

In his Independence Day speech the Prime Minister announced the end of the Planning Commission.  There will be a few mourners at the funeral, mainly old war horses like me....Read More


July 16, 2014

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Many years ago there was popular song from an American musical which said "Anything you can do I can do I can do better". This seems to be the theme of Arun Jaitley's expenditure budget. He may even have outdone the pre....Read More


June 18, 2014

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

The first budget of the new Government is eagerly awaited by stock market punters and corporate managers who have been greatly enthused by the electoral outcome. Middle class income earners will also expect some sign of....Read More


May 14, 2014

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

In a days time we will know what the Indian electorate has decided. Opinion and exit polls, media pundits and armchair psephologists have been projecting their assessment of what the outcome will be. But whatever be the....Read More


April 16, 2014

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

There is a certain euphoria in business circles in anticipation of a big victory for the business friendly Narendra Modi. He appears to have the backing of the corporate sector, more so from family controlled companies ....Read More


March 18, 2014

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

This is the season for party manifestos with their vague and quite unexciting promises. But in this sea of platitudes sometimes something stands out that is worth talking about, because, if implemented it would be a gam....Read More


February 19, 2014

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

For the past five years, the world economy has been heavily influenced by the policy of quantitative easing (QE) that the United States Federal Reserve launched in November 2008. It involved large purchases of long-date....Read More


January 15, 2014

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Aam Aadmi party's spectacular debut in the Delhi election has shaken up India's political class because it was an expression of views about them and governance more generally. The revolt of the people is now not jus....Read More


December 18, 2013

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The verdict of the recent State elections is clear – the Congress and UPA II are in trouble. Yes they involved only 73 parliamentary seats; but the standing of the Congress in the States that were not part of the ....Read More


November 20, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Indian economy will be about twenty times larger in 2050 if it grows at an average rate of 8%. Assuming a 2% per year improvement in resource productivity, the material throughput in the economy will go up by a fact....Read More


October 16, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

In 2050 India will be a capitalist economy with the bulk of the economy under private sector management.  The goals of poverty elimination and social protection cane no lo....Read More


September 18, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Between 2010 and 2050 India is expected to add about 500 million to its 2011 urban population of 377 million.  This means that even at the present grossly inadequate scale....Read More


August 15, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The global energy system in 2050 will be radically different from what it is today. The change will be driven by the growing shortage of cheap liquid fuels and the pressures to reduce carbon emissions to contain the ris....Read More


July 17, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Sustaining high growth will require three things – continued outward orientation so that we do not slip into stagnation behind protective walls, promoting a competitive environment locally so that successful compa....Read More


June 23, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The structure of the Indian economy will change radically by 2050. Projecting the magnitude of this change requires some assumption about growth rates. But the broad picture about the structural shift is more or less in....Read More


May 29, 2013

Development Strategy

By NITIN DESAI

The next forty years of development will be substantially different from the past forty years. India stands at the cusp of a phase change in its development imperatives.  ....Read More


May 15, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The present parlous state of our national and the global economy inevitably focuses attention on the short term.  But this runs the risk of diverting attention from long t....Read More


April 17, 2013

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Twelfth Plan aims at a high growth rate that is sustainable and inclusive. An energy policy that is also sustainable and inclusive is absolutely central to this task.  Read More


March 20, 2013

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Is the worst over?  The Finance Minister and his Chief Economic Adviser believe that the economy has bottomed out, that growth is now on an upswing and that inflation is c....Read More


February 20, 2013

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

Mr. Chidambaram must be a worried man. A week from now he will present a budget which is expected to revive growth, contain inflation and reduce the current account deficit.  Read More


January 08, 2013

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The Governments budget is generally formulated as a cash-in cash-out budget more or less comparable to a housewife’s grocery account. But the Government uses its budget to build up public assets and a large part o....Read More


December 20, 2012

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Two recent developments in the global energy dialogue require us to reexamine some old verities about the strategic dimensions of energy policy. The first is the 2012 World Energy Outlook Report from the International E....Read More


November 08, 2012

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

A hundred and thirty years ago an American economist, Henry George, wrote a famous tract called Progress and Poverty that argued that all natural resources, land included, are a gift of nature. Any private person owning....Read More


October 18, 2012

Development Strategy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Kelkar Committee Report on fiscal consolidation focusses quite understandably on the next three years because it is the near term consequences of an uncontrolled fiscal deficit on inflation, and external confidence ....Read More


September 20, 2012

Governance & Politics|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

Why do infrastructure projects in India fall prey to giganticism? Is it the grandiose vision of engineers whose culture is one of manipulating nature? Is it a certain escapism amongst planners who look to gigantic megap....Read More


August 16, 2012

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

In the wake of the 31 July blackout a lot has been said and written about the policy failures in the power sector. The litany of woes is a long one - inefficient SEBs, their huge accumulated losses, power thefts, proble....Read More


July 19, 2012

Indian Economy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

A new team of the Prime Minister and two trusted lieutenants, Dr. Rangarajan and Montek Ahluwalia has taken charge of the economy and much is expected from this change of guard. ....Read More


June 21, 2012

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

This column comes to you from Rio where I am attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly called Rio+20, the reference being to the original Rio summit of 1992.&n....Read More


May 17, 2012

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Right to Education law and the subsequent Supreme Court judgement has focused attention on the future of school education in India.  The judgement on the provision tha....Read More


April 19, 2012

Indian Economy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The next Prime Minister of India will wield even less authority over his cabinet colleagues than Dr. Manmohan Singh. The next Government in Delhi will be pushed around by powerful State Chief Ministers even more than th....Read More


February 15, 2012

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

Tomorrow the Finance Minister has to present a budget that will revive investor confidence, restore fiscal balance and rescue the electoral prospects of his badly battered party. ....Read More


February 16, 2012

Development Strategy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

Crony capitalism involves both corrupt politicians and unscrupulous businessmen in a close embrace to manipulate for private profit the discretionary powers that still rest with the government, despite liberalisation.Read More


January 19, 2012

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The central goal of the budget which the Finance Minister will present in March must be to restore confidence in the prospects for rapid growth in India.  He has to convin....Read More


December 15, 2011

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

Yet another UN climate meeting has ended with the world community taking a few hesitant steps on a road on which they need to run if they are to reach their destination in time. ....Read More


November 17, 2011

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The prospects for the world economy look bleaker by the day.  The Eurozone is on life support and the slow down of growth in Europe may be even more drastic than what curr....Read More


October 20, 2011

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

Hindsight always works better than foresight.  Hence, from the present vantage point of 2031, one can sound wise about the prognostications made twenty years ago about the....Read More


September 15, 2011

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

In the second half of August the nation witnessed a struggle between constitutional propriety and populist democracy.  Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar anticipated this. On 25 Novem....Read More


August 18, 2011

Social Justice|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The ever energetic Jairam Ramesh has unveiled a new land acquisition policy for discussion. He has taken on the difficult task of changing an old law whose implementation has led to a sorry mess in Nandigram, Singur and....Read More


July 21, 2011

Indian Economy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

Jairam Ramesh’s departure from the environment ministry is being seen as a victory by some industrialists and commentators. Their hope presumably is that we will get back to the old system of a lax, opportunistic ....Read More


June 16, 2011

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

Anna Hazare and Ramdev have taken up a campaign against corruption and black money– out of sincere belief in one case and as an opportunistic issue for self-projection in the other.Read More


May 19, 2011

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

A few weeks ago the Reserve Bank raised its policy rate by 50 basis points mainly with the intention of containing inflationary pressures.  Its intention has been quickly ....Read More


April 21, 2011

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The crisis of governance that has hit with the force of a tsunami has been brewing for a long time.  Its origins lie in the accelerated deterioration in the ethical standa....Read More


March 17, 2011

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The nation witnessed a tragedy unfold in slow motion as the Government and the Supreme Court clashed on the appointment of the CVC.  In the end the court won; but to do so....Read More


February 17, 2011

Governance & Politics|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The role of the government in the operation of land transactions has once again hit the headlines.  If earlier the focus was on the processes of acquisition of private lan....Read More


December 16, 2010

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

This has been a bad year for the Republic. The economy may have recovered with the revival of growth  our egos may have been boosted by the attentions of the great powers.....Read More


November 18, 2010

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

About ten days from today the parties to the UN climate convention will have another bash at hammering out an agreement to avert what they all agree is one of the gravest threats that the world faces in the decades ahea....Read More


October 21, 2010

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Over the past few weeks the country has been obsessed with the whether our spoilt brat of a city, Delhi, will perform well in front of a global audience.  Now that it has,....Read More


September 16, 2010

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

This week’s column comes to you from China where I have been travelling for ten days.  The last time I was here was about 15 years ago and the changes since then are....Read More


August 19, 2010

Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have launched an appeal to all rich individuals to pledge half of their wealth to charity.  If this plea is heard by the richest 1% of Indians....Read More


July 15, 2010

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Planning Commission has begun the process for preparing the Twelfth Five Year Plan. They want this to be different from previous plans, which typically involved some macro economic jiggery-pokery to justify a growth....Read More


June 17, 2010

Governance & Politics|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Two months ago this column had dealt with the challenge of the Maoist insurgency in Central India. In that context it referred to a great tribal leader from the pre-independence days, Jaipal Singh Munda.Read More


May 20, 2010

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Population growth seems to have dropped off the public agenda these days.   One reason for this is a twist in the old Malthusian argument that sees the rising proportion o....Read More


April 15, 2010

Governance & Politics|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The meticulously planned attack by the Maoists on the CRPF in Dantewada has shocked the Delhi Establishment. This episode has come soon after the stopping of the Rajdhani near Midnapore and the Maoist gains in Lalgarh.<....Read More


March 18, 2010

Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The threat of climate change is now overwhelming the dialogue on forest policy.   Forests, like other ecosystems, will be affected by temperature increase. But the dimensi....Read More


February 18, 2010

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

What do the sub-prime crisis, the controversies about climate change and the acrimonious disputes about BT Brinjal have in common?  All three are a product of methodologic....Read More


January 21, 2010

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The Copenhagen Climate Conference saw the emergence of what could be called a 40:40:20 power structure in international relations. The first 40% includes the two big powers- USA and China.Read More


December 17, 2009

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

I have just returned after performing at the climate circus in Copenhagen. Like all sensible columnists, I will reserve my remarks on why the outcome was entirely predictable, till after the event! But as I attended thi....Read More


November 19, 2009

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

At the Pittsburgh Summit on Sept. 24-25, 2009, the leaders determined that the G-20 will replace the G-8 as the "permanent council for international economic cooperation."   Read More


October 15, 2009

Social Justice|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

Elinor Ostrom, the co-winner of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics is actually a political scientist.  Her work is in the area of governance particularly....Read More


September 17, 2009

Indian Economy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

This column has been provoked by a current dispute between two publicly listed companies that has been linked to a family arrangement for partitioning the management control of these companies. My purpose in referring t....Read More


August 20, 2009

Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The Government has unveiled an ambitious programme for solar energy development with the goal of 20,000 MW of solar power capacity by 2020. The plan aims at ensuring that by 2020 solar power is cost competitive. How rea....Read More


July 16, 2009

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The climate negotiations are warming up as we get closer to December when a global deal has to be sealed at Copenhagen. With the deadline approaching the great and the good, attending seminars in salubrious well-catered....Read More


June 18, 2009

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

The Bonn climate talks ended last Friday with little to show by way of results.  However the deadline for agreement is December 2009 and in such negotiations, at this stag....Read More


May 21, 2009

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

This is the time for saying I told you so.  So here is a quote from my column last month: “My guess, or more accurately, my hope is that the Indian electorate is sma....Read More


April 16, 2009

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Indian economy is going to face a difficult time for at least another year and a half.  In foreign policy the emerging upheavals in Pakistan and, at home, aggravated t....Read More


February 19, 2009

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

When a patient suffers a traumatic shock the normal practice of doctors is to treat each problem as it appears in a symptomatic fashion without asking questions about causes or even consequences.Read More


February 19, 2009

Global Economy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

These days Wall Street bankers sound like the lady who killed her husband and then asked for mercy because she was a widow.  The New York Times even carried a story on the....Read More


January 15, 2009

Global Economy|International Relations

By Nitin Desai

There is the old story about an American and a Chinese being chased by a tiger, where the punch line is the Chinese telling the American: “I do not have to run faster than the tiger-I only have to run faster than ....Read More


December 18, 2008

Development Strategy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The terrorist attack in Mumbai exposed the gross inadequacies of governance at many levels.  At the local level the most conspicuous failure was the absence of a leader co....Read More


November 20, 2008

Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

The market for credit is not like the market for potatoes. When I buy potatoes, I choose a vendor, select the spuds, pay the cash and that is the end of it.  I do not need....Read More


October 16, 2008

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

The global financial system is on life support. But at present the focus is largely on palliative rather than therapeutic measures to prevent  what has been described, in ....Read More


September 09, 2008

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The twenty second Governor of RBI has just been named.  Since 1977, all incumbents, other than Dr. Rangarajan, have served as Secretaries in the Ministry of Finance. The n....Read More


August 21, 2008

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

A year ago the Indian economy was cruising nicely on a 9 per cent growth path with low inflation and a viable current account.  Today the situation looks very different wi....Read More


July 02, 2008

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

On Monday 30 June, 2008 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released the long awaited National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).   The statement of principles at the beginn....Read More


June 18, 2008

Global Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

For a little under a year now the world economy has been shaken by the turmoil in financial markets set off by the sub-prime crisis.  Horst Kohler, a former head of the IM....Read More


April 17, 2008

Indian Economy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The spectre of a runaway price rise is haunting the corridors of power in this pre-election year. Memories of earlier elections lost because of onion prices or sugar prices are fresh enough to divert all attention to in....Read More


March 20, 2008

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

The Finance Minister has delivered a Rs. 60000 crore handout to farmers.  How much of that will go to the farmers who are truly debt-stressed is a moot question.Read More


February 21, 2008

Indian Economy|Public Finance

By Nitin Desai

Next week the Finance Minister will present what may be the last substantive budget of this administration.  The record of his tenure in the Ministry looks.Read More


January 17, 2008

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

January is a month when, with the change of the year, journalists and columnists suffer from an uncontrollable urge to make forecasts of what the next year has in store.  ....Read More


December 20, 2007

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

Ten thousand people, including yours truly, went to Bali in early December in order to save the planet.  In reality the planet’s fate was being determined by a hundr....Read More


November 15, 2007

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Planning Commission has put out a draft Eleventh Plan where the goal is not just the rate of GDP growth but a pattern of growth that spreads rising prosperity widely through the country.Read More


October 19, 2007

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

Last Wednesday the stock market suffered a big scare.  The provocation came from a SEBI proposal on participatory notes designed partly to moderate foreign inflows and par....Read More


September 20, 2007

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

Two months ago when global stock markets were booming this column asked whether the party would continue and suggested that policy makers should prepare for less favourable times.&nbs....Read More


August 16, 2007

Indian Economy

By Nitin Desai

On 15 August this year, independent India reached the age of sixty.  So beyond the marvel of our survival as a democracy, what should we celebrate?

Read More


July 19, 2007

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

The stock market boom continues apace and has now lasted for four years from the time the Sensex started rising in mid 2003.  Since then it has risen five fold, with some ....Read More


June 21, 2007

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

The political evolution of China is perhaps the most important source of uncertainty for the world economy and for international relations.  The prospects for the world ec....Read More


May 17, 2007

International Relations|Climate Change

By Nitin Desai

Climate concerns are very much in the news these days, what with the recent reports from the UN Panel and the Stern Report. The difficulty is that this flurry of activity has not yet had the effect that one wants in ter....Read More


April 19, 2007

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Last month’s column on SEZs attracted many responses, all of them supportive of the doubts expressed.  This is an indication that there are misgivings about the poli....Read More


March 15, 2007

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Political scientists draw a distinction between business-friendly and market-friendly governments.  A business friendly government works closely with business leaders, ind....Read More


January 18, 2007

Development Strategy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

 

The reconciliation of  land rights and development is now becoming a hot political issue.  The un....Read More


December 12, 2006

Indian Economy|Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

The Government has opted for a 9 per cent growth path for the Eleventh Plan.  The Approach Paper even speaks about reaching a 10 per cent level by the end of the Plan.Read More


November 16, 2006

Indian Economy|Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

Indian corporations are going global.  The recent acquisition of Corus by Tata has signaled that some of them are looking beyond the national market and see their future a....Read More


October 19, 2006

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

About ten days ago a controversy erupted about a “We Hate India” site in the social-networking portal Orkut.  The matter has reached the High Court in Mumbai w....Read More


September 21, 2006

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

Last week the General Assembly of the United Nations held a High-level Dialogue on Migration more than a decade after the proposal was first mooted at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development.Read More


August 17, 2006

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

A few days ago a Hindu-CNN-IBN survey came out with results that must have surprised many in the Delhi dinner circuit and in the media.  The survey showed a remarkable inc....Read More


July 20, 2006

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

Yesterday the Committee on Technology Innovation and Venture Capital presented its report to the Planning Commission.  The Committee was chaired by yours truly and include....Read More


June 15, 2006

Indian Economy|Capital Markets

By Nitin Desai

The Sensex has fallen by over 20 per cent from its May 11, 2006 peak of 12671.  The correction was long expected as many market professionals thought that the implied pric....Read More


May 18, 2006

Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The youth of India are very much in the news these days as the agitations for and against reservations in education and jobs pit them against each other.  Elsewhere we hea....Read More


April 20, 2006

Development Strategy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

The recent confrontation between the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the Government has demonstrated quite clearly that our system of decision making and land acquisition for major projects needs a thorough overhaul.Read More


March 16, 2006

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

A little over five years ago the world leaders who had assembled at the United Nations for a Millennium Summit agreed on a Millennium Declaration that is truly an expression of what one could describe as a global social....Read More


February 16, 2006

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

The god who rules over foreign policy must be like Ardhanarishwara, a god who is half man and half woman.  The exercise of power by a country, or for that matter by anybod....Read More


January 19, 2006

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

The Government has recently set up a committee under the chairmanship of K.G. Subrahmanyam  to look at long-term strategic options for our external policy. Such an exercis....Read More


December 12, 2005

Indian Economy|Development Strategy

By NITIN DESAI

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has been talking lately about the possibility of India aiming at a growth rate of 8-10 per cent.  The Planning Commission has also ....Read More


November 16, 2005

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

This week Tunisia hosts a World Summit on the Information Society.  Some 50 or so heads of state or government and a couple of hundred corporate leaders are expected to be part of the 15000 or so who will gather in Tunis for this purpose.&nbs....Read More


October 19, 2005

Global Economy|Natural Resources

By Nitin Desai

Crude prices have now been hovering at over $60 for several months and show no signs of coming down. As always happens, when oil prices move beyond analyst’s expectations, the blame is put on the way the market functions rather than the more....Read More


September 21, 2005

International Relations

By Nitin Desai

In the old days, the beginning and end of a teaching period in a college were often marked by the ringing of a bell. There was a sprawling college in South India where there were several such bells, all supposed to be rung at the same moment by an....Read More


August 17, 2005

Development Strategy

By Nitin Desai

Growth-accounting exercises show that through most of the modern era, the main determinant of growth has been the “catch-all” technical progress term of growth models. 

This, in turn, can be explained in terms of the gener....Read More


July 20, 2005

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

A meritocratic system of higher education is the key.

The secondary school examination results in places like Maharashtra are front-page news. In fact, this year’s coverage was quite extensive, with the toppers being interviewed ....Read More


June 22, 2005

Global Economy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

A few weeks from now, the G-8 leaders will meet in the safe surroundings of the Gleneagles resort hotel in Scotland.  After the mayhem of the Genoa G-8 summit in July 2001, these leaders of the rich and powerful have found it prudent to meet ....Read More


May 17, 2005

Governance & Politics|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

On 7 May 2005, a well-organized group of leftist revolutionaries attacked and laid waste Hindalco’s mine in Chhattisgarh. Those absorbed in the vision of India shining may dismiss this as an isolated problem of occasional violence that the f....Read More


April 20, 2005

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The roots of corruption lie in the way our political system works.  Last months column[i] argued that parties had become personal satrapies and that this is what has led to the trading of favours for funds....Read More


March 16, 2005

Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The 2004 ranking of countries in the Corruption Perception Index prepared by Transparency International places India at ranks 90 out of 145, sharing that spot with Gambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Russia, and Tanzania.  The ranking is based....Read More


February 16, 2005

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

On February 4, 2005, Alan Greenspan made a major speech in which he signaled clearly that the Fed believes in a weakening dollar and higher US interest rates as the key to rebalancing the US economy.  It was a thoughtful speech that accepts t....Read More


January 01, 2005

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

Does a country need a policy for poverty reduction or is a policy for growth and efficiency sufficient?  Certainly, it is difficult to find any significant instance of a capitalist democracy that has managed without a safety net for the unemp....Read More


April 01, 2004

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

Outsourcing and migration are a response to the same phenomenon – the fact that the people who can best provide a service do not live in the countries where the service is in demand.  In one case the work moves to where the workers are ....Read More


March 01, 2004

Global Economy

By Nitin Desai

George Bush’s reelection has been welcomed by most economic commentators.  The expectation is that the BPO boom can continue and that protectionist pressures in the USA will be contained.  That may well be the case, but judging by ....Read More


February 01, 2004

Development Strategy|Social Justice

By Nitin Desai

The economy of my village in Gujarat has changed dramatically in the past half century.  Many things have contributed to this – the shifts in land ownership, education, an entrepreneurial ethos in all communities, the development of inf....Read More


January 01, 2004

Development Strategy|Governance & Politics

By Nitin Desai

The Indian economy has never been a planned one in a strict sense of the term.  Yes, the Planning Commission has been around for well over fifty years and some ten five year plans have been prepared.  But, as Vivek Chibber reminds us in ....Read More