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Vivek Sengupta
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raghuram Rajan could catalyse recovery and also transform RBI

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Raghuram Govind Rajan made history on his first day as the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. At 50, he is one of the youngest incumbents ever of the RBI Governor's office. But he made waves for reasons other than just that. The kind of media adulation that he has received is unprecedented for the head of such a staid institution as the central bank of the country. He has been called James Bond, Rajinikanth, and Rock Star, among other names. And he has received top billing in newspapers and news channels. Not just the media, he has been greeted with gusto by the markets and leading influencers. "Whoa...Raghu is rockin! Rupee regains 64 per dollar level...", tweeted the South Asia MD of a global IT giant. Another adulatory tweet came from a top industrialist: "Raghu Rajan gave a master class in how to handle your....

Tuesday , July 16, 2013

Has BJP erred in projecting Narendra Modi?

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Narendra Modi's remarks likening the 2002 riots in Gujarat to puppies coming under a speeding car has understandably caused an uproar. It has brought home, for the second time in a little over a month, that the BJP has perhaps erred in jumping the gun and naming him the party's de facto candidate for PM in the next election. First, the announcement itself elicited a sharp reaction both within and outside the BJP. Veteran LK Advani all but quit the party. Ironically, the man who had once given the party the formula to succeed by adopting a hard line on the Ram Temple issue, now appeared as a force for moderation! Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his party, the JD(U), lost no time in parting ways with the BJP on the issue of Modi. An alliance of 17 years became history in the state. And now,....

Monday , April 22, 2013

Quadricycles: No way to make our roads safer

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India has the worst record of road safety in the world. The numbers are truly horrific. India accounts for 10 per cent of global road accidents, but only 1 per cent of the world's vehicles. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, which is the official repository of such statistics, around 1.35 lakh deaths were reported due to road accidents in 2010. These figures are higher than those of any other country in the world, including China. There is one major road accident in India every minute. About 370 persons, the equivalent of a full load of a Jumbo jetliner, leave home every day in India and meet with violent deaths in road accidents. As many as 35 out of 100 people dying in India die because of road accidents. An Indian is 20 times more likely to die in a road accident than a citizen of the....

Friday , March 01, 2013

An election Budget

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Make no mistake: Regardless of what pundits tell you, this is an election Budget prepared skillfully not just with a view to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, due in 2014, but also to the more immediate elections in seven states this year. For sure, there was none of the grand flourishes that have been the hallmark of a major Chidambaram Budget (think the Dream Budget of 1997 and the mammoth Rs.65,000 crore farm loan waiver announced in the 2008 Budget). But that was the red herring. Take a second look at the proposals: The feeling is unmistakable. Mr Chidambaram has been advised by party managers to prepare a Budget keeping elections in mind. In a speech remarkably well-worded for an official document there was enough that was directed at specific electoral groups. Take the rural electorate: There is a near 50 per cent hike in the allocation for....

Saturday , January 12, 2013

Road safety: Good Samaritans need fear no harassment

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The friend of the rape victim, who through her ordeal and death galvanised an entire nation, spoke out a few days ago. In his first pronouncements to the media he lamented the fact that he and the girl lay naked and grievously injured on the roadside that fateful night and not one among the many that saw them in that state rushed them to the hospital. "Nobody helped us when we were lying on the street battered for more than an hour", he said. Folks in cars, auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers passed, saw them, but did not stop to help. Had they been rushed sooner to the nearest trauma centre, the girl might have lived. It is well known that the Golden Hour after a mishap is the most critical for the survival of the victim. It was during this vital hour that the couple did not receive help.....

Friday , November 09, 2012

Will Sonia take a leaf out of Indira Gandhi's book and go for snap polls?

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Since India is a parliamentary democracy, there is always the possibility of a party, precariously in power, seeking to consolidate its position by calling a snap poll. Indira Gandhi famously did that in 1970 when she led a minority government which was in power with the support of the Left. Her move to abolish privy purses for princes was defeated in the Rajya Sabha by one vote and she decided to take the bold step of recommending the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. This was the only way, she reasoned, she could decisively break free of a political state where she was constantly at the receiving end of the slings and arrows of her detractors, particularly the Old Guard of the Congress. One full year before elections were due, she went to the people, in early 1971, with the slogan of "Garibi Hatao (Banish Poverty)". Fortune favours the brave.....

Monday , October 08, 2012

Kingfisher Airlines should not forget the staff's role in any likely turnaround

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The unending woes of Kingfisher Airlines have been brought into sharp focus by the suicide of a ground engineer's wife, allegedly because she was depressed owing to the fact that her husband had not received his salary for six months. The financial travails of the carrier were bad enough. But now it appears that the management has succeeded in alienating a substantial section of its staff. Frequent staff strikes and media reports about disgruntlement in the staff point to a serious rift between the management and the employees. Non-payment of wages for months on end is bound to cause distress among the employees. But if the management appears to be insensitive to boot, it cannot but augur ill for the company. If employees are the best ambassadors of a company, disgruntled staffers of KFA, or at least a significant section of the staff, are proving to....

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Where Hazare got it wrong

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The anti-climactic collapse of the Anna Hazare movement brings to mind TS Eliot's classic phrase: Not with a bang, but a whimper. This is not how it was meant to turn out. Just last year, thanks to an enormous build-up in the media and massive mobilisation of public opinion, especially of the young through a smart use of a variety of tools including social media, Hazare seemed to be the messiah who would deliver the country from the scourge of corruption. In less than a year's time, Hazare appeared to be a caricature of his old self. He had lost his elan. Still angelic perhaps, but an ineffectual angel, outwitted and outsmarted by his bête noire, the political establishment. He was no more the Pied Piper who had, not long ago, caught the imagination of the youth. The man, who was compared variously to Gandhi, Vinoba, Baba Amte and....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One year of Poriborton: the importance of being Mamata

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It is exactly a year since Mamata Banerjee created history in Bengal by dislodging the Left Front from power, after 34 long years of uninterrupted rule. Almost as if the visit was timed to mark the anniversary, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, came to Calcutta earlier this month and called on the Chief Minister. It was the first time since Independence that a US Secretary of State had visited Bengal. Clearly, Mrs Clinton understood the significance of Mamata's momentous achievement in defeating the mighty Marxists. That, and perhaps the realisation that owing to Mamata's clout in UPA-II the road to Delhi goes through Calcutta, made the US leader break journey during her Dacca-Delhi trip. Twelve months after she trounced the Marxists, her victory remains by far her most remarkable achievement and the only one of note. Nobody who lived in Marxist Bengal in the last....

Tuesday , February 21, 2012

Don't derive pleasure from Kingfisher's bad times

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The German word schadenfreude best describes the manner in which many analysts have looked at the travails of Kingfisher Airlines (KFA). Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived from beholding another person's misfortunes, especially one who has been exceptionally privileged and fortunate in the past. Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant King of Good Times, is in trouble deep and there is a sense in many that it is only meet that he has got his comeuppance. He was ill-advised to enter the airline business, they argue, and equally ill-advised in the manner in which he ran his carrier. Therefore, if the airline is fated to go under, it must be allowed to do so, with no external help proffered to keep it flying. The problem with this approach is that misses the wood for the trees. There is no denying that KFA is in a kind of financial trouble that....


More about Vivek Sengupta

Public affairs analyst Vivek Sengupta is Founder and Chief Executive of the consulting firm Moving Finger Communications. He can be reached at vivek.sengupta@movingfinger.in.


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