Bhaskar Chakravorti (for Info only, not official)

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Bhaskar Chakravorti

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    ...Pop the champagne and pass the mithai — for it is, indeed, the epoch of belief, the season of light in the world’s largest democracy. After languishing in the World Bank’s league tables, India is, finally, getting its due: It has been admitted to the top 100 nation club for Ease of Doing Business. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one giant step closer to fulfilling every Indian’s dream. It is now time to plot the next big move — to break into the top 80 nations club. With all the hard work already behind us, this next step should be a piece of cake. Here is how. I hope someone is taking notes. The first thing to remember about climbing up the ladder of the World Bank league tables is that it is not accomplished through some theory of globalisation or “win-win” mumbo-jumbo. You win by beating others. ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 27, 2017, 12:16 a.m.

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    ... I try to teach people to make fewer mistakes,” said the newly-minted economics Nobel laureate, Richard Thaler, in an interview earlier this week. “We need to take full account of the fact that people are busy, they’re absent-minded, they’re lazy.” Congratulations to Professor Thaler; I think his brilliantly accessible work is part of a growing and important contribution of behavioural perspectives that enrich traditionally strictly “rationalist” economics. I just wish the laureate had avoided making some big mistakes of his own, where he failed to apply his theories to himself. After the November 8 demonetisation in India, he had tweeted, “This is a policy I have long supported. First step toward cashless and good start on reducing corruption.” Wiping out 86 per cent of a country’s currency is rarely a “good start” on anything. ...

    Indian Express on Oct. 12, 2017, 12:30 a.m.

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    ... This is a tale of two septuagenarians; I hope they never meet. One is the country of India as an independent democratic nation. The other is the American president, a reminder that independent democracy provides no guarantee for its product. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington DC, he extended an invitation to the Trump parivaar to visit India. Ivanka Trump accepted right away and recently the details of her visit have been re-confirmed by the official medium of this White House — over a tweet. While Ivanka’s appearance would be harmless enough, it would be best if Daddy chooses to stay away. Daddy’s appearances elsewhere have followed a worrisome pattern: Wherever principles of tolerance and civility are already under attack, Daddy’s appearance tips the balance, making a bad situation worse. The craziest elements feel empowered to do crazier things. ...

    Indian Express on Aug. 22, 2017, 1:52 a.m.

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    ... As is now well known, President Donald Trump has fulfilled his promise to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement. This “Trexit” had all the hallmarks of a scorched earth strategy. Trump bashed not only the agreement, calling it “less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage”, he also singled out China and India as free-riders and the main advantage-seekers. Paris gives China licence to “build hundreds of additional coal plants” while India can “double its coal production by 2020”, he said. ...

    Indian Express on June 22, 2017, 12:09 a.m.

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    ... Infosys plans to curry favour with the Donald Trump administration with a promise of creating 10,000 new American jobs. We should note that the first of four “Technology and Innovation Hubs” promised by Infosys will be in Indiana. No doubt, this is designed to charm Vice President Mike Pence by bringing tech jobs to his home state, hitherto known primarily for producing the highest number of basketball players per capita. Infosys’ munificence is also laced with a profound irony as America edges towards full employment: The jobless rate is down to 4.4 per cent, the lowest in a decade. In the meantime, back on Infosys’ home turf, a bloodbath ensues. Wipro laid off 600 employees recently; Cognizant plans to let go of 6,000 and Infosys has “released” 8,000-9,000 employees in the past year. These statistics are significant; the IT sector employs 3.9 million people, almost a quarter of India’s formal workforce. ...

    Indian Express on May 15, 2017, 1:36 a.m.

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    ...After the drama of demonetisation, the 2017-18 Union budget has been a decidedly sober affair. The budget speech, one of the longest in history, was short on game-changing ideas. The finance minister didn’t seem terribly perturbed by the gathering storm clouds worldwide: Populist surges in the US and Europe; a strengthening dollar and oil price uncertainties; prospects of trade or religious wars, maybe both. That the IMF has shaved off a full percentage point of India’s anticipated growth rate as the economic penalty for the November cash carnage did not seem to provoke much worry either. Watch What Else Is Making News With crucial elections looming, Arun Jaitley played it cool and he played it safe. There was the expected tilt towards expenditure on infrastructure, tax cuts for small enterprises and shots in the arm for rural households and the agricultural sector. ...

    Indian Express on Feb. 3, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

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    ...A little over two months has passed since the Narendra Modi government’s ambush on its own currency. In keeping with the unexpected nature of its launch, the manoeuvre has had some unexpected consequences. There are at least three ways in which the November 8 experiment has upended conventional wisdom. Given that the blood circulation to the economy was cut off, the system proved surprisingly resilient. Why the economy did not seize up may be traced to the age-old story of Indian adaptability in the face of adversity. Besides digital alternatives, fortunately, India offered up many time-honoured traditions: Goodwill, barter or getting chhotu to stand in the bank line. Documenting and analysing the imputed costs of all those stories will take time. However, at a macro level, some outlines are emerging. ...

    Indian Express on Jan. 21, 2017, 1:08 a.m.

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    ...“Time has come for everyone, particularly my young friends, to embrace e-banking, mobile banking and more such technology”. So said Narendra Modi, doubling up as the nation’s digital evangelist-in-chief. Appropriately, he “said” this via a tweet. PM Modi’s November 8 surprise demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, effectively took 86 per cent of cash out of circulation in an economy that is close to 90 per cent reliant on cash. Unsurprisingly, chaos has ensued. And e-wallet companies, Paytm, Mobikwik and Freecharge have experienced a nice bump. Global payments technology players are enjoying a nice “buy” recommendation from analysts. Meanwhile, the buying has stalled at kirana stores and subzi mandis around the country. Supply chain transactions, real estate deals and even wedding projects have been frozen. Consumers are coping with frustrating lines, inconsistent information and empty ATMs. The crisis has been hardest on the poor. ...

    Indian Express on Dec. 5, 2016, 1:59 a.m.