Modi’s move to dismantle bureaucracy, the demonic relic of the Raj, deserves a standing ovation

By Amit Kapoor – I personally believe that, despite having elected leaders, the country is under absolute control and in the clutches of the bureaucracy and bureaucratic processes.

The present-day bureaucracy reflects the age-old analysis propounded by Socrates that the strong (bureaucrats) have the advantage. Here we need to ask the question: What is the job of a civil servant? Is it to enable or control?

What I see is that processes in the country have been built to perpetuate control at all possible levels, and the bureaucrats have have ended up being the de facto rulers of the land. The advantage that the bureaucracy has is accentuated by information asymmetry that gets perpetuated through masquerading control via processes that slow things down and thereby enhance corruption.

Bureaucrats are representatives of the state and not the state in themselves. They behave as if they are the state with their arrogance and know-all attitude. These are the people who I see as the biggest folly of our democracy that none of us have thought of setting right. They have been waging war against the people of this nation by enslaving their will, destroying and stalling the pace of change and setting the the country back. more>


Use the mandate

PM Modi’s political capital should be leveraged to reform Indias product markets
( of India – India is a country of young people and around a million of them enter the job market every month. Unless enough jobs can be found for them, the ‘new’ India will end up looking very much like the old.

In terms of employment potential, organized retail offers enormous opportunities. Instead of opening up FDI in retail in a piecemeal manner, the best way ahead is to repeal all restrictions on investment. At one stroke, it will end lobbying and the search for loopholes in the law.

India’s economy is over-regulated. Instead of safeguarding consumer interests, the focus of regulation is on creating unnecessary obstacles to business.

Dismantling this perverse structure requires government to take on powerful vested interests. In this context, recent elections assume salience as Modi has the political capital now to bring about structural changes in India’s regulatory architecture. more>


Pure red herring

Modi may be looking to create the New Indian in an uncomfortable echo of Mao but also Gandhi
By Manoj Joshi – Speaking to the nation on New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Narendra Modi weighed in, terming the whole demonetization exercise as ‘a historic rite of purification’ aimed at ridding the society of the ‘badness’ and ‘evil’ that had crept in in the form of corruption, black money and counterfeit currency.

‘Purity’ is fine as a scientific concept, but applied to religious, political, social and economic categories it is troublesome. We often hear of temples being washed after Dalits have entered them, or Dalits being segregated from upper castes in schools, villages and eating places.

A glance back at the growth of capitalism will reveal that the industrial transformation of the West came along with crass exploitation, colonialism, robber barons and genocide. Subsequently these countries have cleaned up their act, though instances of corruption and bribe often pop up in countries like Sweden, Norway or the UK. The Chinese version of growth between 1990-2010, too, came with huge corruption, which Xi Jinping is now trying to fix. But wealth came before the cleanup.

The essence of modern capitalism is the freedom of choice, constrained by rules and laws to make an otherwise brutal system, humane, efficient and inclusive. Certainly, India need not go through the terrible 19th century experience of capitalism. more>