Anil Padmanabhan (for Info only, not official)

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Anil Padmanabhan

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    ...On the face of it, this is a routine exercise carried out every five years to detail the fiscal relations framework—which needs to be tweaked in accordance with the changing economy—of a federal polity like India. In particular, the Finance Commission, set up in 1951 under Article 280 of the Constitution of India, focuses on the vertical (division of revenues between centre and states) and the horizontal distribution (between states to ensure regional equity). True, but this time, the constitution of the 15th Finance Commission can be potentially more than merely serving this broad mission objective. It actually comes about at a very interesting cusp in the evolution of India. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 27, 2017, 2:39 a.m.

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    ...For the first time, it comprehensively identified the disease burden of the country; at the same time though, it revealed the extent of disease burden, which if unaddressed on a war footing as it were could nix the country’s enormous growth potential. This is something that Bill Gates, who coincidentally was in town last week, captured in a wide-ranging interview unrelated to the health study published in The Times of India on 18 November. “Every other country that moved to middle-income status spends over 3% (of its gross domestic product, or GDP) on public health. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 20, 2017, 12:56 a.m.

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    ...For any lay person, listening in on this political grandstanding, it would seem as though the entire meeting was about the slashing of GST rates for over 200 items and as to which of the two parties deserve the credit—understandable since the Congress has made GST, especially the glitches in its implementation, a central issue in its campaign for the Gujarat elections. Indeed the facts of the matter, as always, are otherwise. More importantly, the political differences didn’t derail the day-long deliberations. Actually, it almost did, when tempers frayed over some of the social media messages put out by some Congress politicians. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 12, 2017, 7:09 p.m.

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    ...With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deciding to take up the gauntlet thrown by the opposition—who plan nationwide protests—by declaring it anti-black money day, political grandstanding and bickering will be par for the course. The fact that we are in the middle of two key state assembly elections, Himachal Pradesh (which votes a day after the first anniversary of demonetisation) and Gujarat, has only added to the decibel level. Clearly, there is a high-stakes battle for public perception (a collateral gain is that economics is dominating the political discourse, which hopefully will transform from name calling to an illuminating debate). The last time there was a similar showdown on demonetisation was in the run-up to the election campaign to the Uttar Pradesh assembly. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 6, 2017, 7:54 a.m.

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    ...By drawing a reference to the celluloid bandit Gabbar Singh, immortalized in the cult film Sholay, Gandhi was being anything but subtle in his criticism of India’s marquee tax reform. In contrast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, immediately after the GST rollout on 1 July, chose to describe it as the “Good and Simple Tax”. The big question then is that who is right? Unfortunately, there is no binary response, which is what either side would desire. Instead, the truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. But before that, the ownership of GST and thereby the responsibility/claim implied from either side of the political aisle is misleading; GST is a genuine creation of a federal polity consensus wherein the states and centre have pooled their individual sovereignty to enable it. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 30, 2017, 8:19 a.m.

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    ...The biggest takeaway from his 48 years of public life, he said, “I learnt a fundamental lesson that there is nothing comparable to debate and discussion and exchange of views in Parliament. Of course, there is dissension. For the success of parliamentary democracy, this lesson should be learnt by everyone who wants to serve through Parliament.” Yes, it was a stinging admonishment, like a school master serving a dressing down to his errant class, by Pranab-da (as he is fondly referred to). At the same time, the former president has actually put the finger on India’s biggest problem—lack of a dialogue. It is true of almost every institution in this country; worryingly they also make up the foundations of Indian democracy. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 23, 2017, 12:40 a.m.

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    ...As a destination architecture the move is very desirable and hence welcome; ideally even petroleum products should be brought under GST. But the more immediate concern is that in the nearly four months since GST was rolled out on 1 July—it has just crossed 100 days—some threats to its architecture are emerging. And tragically some of the efforts to tinker with the existing GST architecture are being masked as so-called relief measures—partly a knee-jerk response to the ongoing rhetorical political debate on the economy and the efficacy of GST. Most worryingly they are challenging the core of the GST: ‘One Nation, One Tax’. And unless the GST Council addresses this, any such expansion of the scope of GST to bring in more sectors will be risking this marque piece of tax reform. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 16, 2017, 12:02 a.m.

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    ...AP Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the ongoing rhetorical debate on the state of the Indian economy with a strong defence of his government’s actions over the last three years. Among other things, his intervention put the spotlight on the Indian economy—something long overdue, but not for the rhetorical charges that are being flung around on both sides. If indeed there is a pithy way of summarizing the state of affairs suffice to say that the country’s economy has transitioned from a state of policy paralysis (which identified the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance or UPA) to one of investment paralysis. Both are cause for worry but for entirely different reasons. One was the outcome of a government which, for whatever reasons, went into a policy funk with disastrous consequences. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 9, 2017, 12:45 a.m.