Chaitanya Kalbag (for Info only, not official)

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Chaitanya Kalbag

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    ...She noted in her speech at the GES (theme ‘Women First, Prosperity For All’) that the city of pearls would soon see its innovation outstrip its famous biryani. That reminded me of a clip in which a poor little kid is repeatedly asked the question ‘Who is the chief minister of Kerala?’ perhaps in preparation for school entrance. The toddler keeps tripping on ‘Pinarayi Vijayan’, and can only manage ‘Biryani Teacher’. Take that as a comment on our politics or our education system, I leave it to your taste… The Ivanka Trump collection (“founded by women for women”) of shoes, handbags, jewellery, and other fashions, has not yet swept India’s stores, but it will. ...

    TOI on Nov. 30, 2017, 1:27 a.m.

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    ...Ready-made garment exports in October shrank 39 percent from a year earlier to $829.44 million. Apparel exports in April-October 2017 totalled $10 billion, rising just two percent year-on-year. More significantly, apparel exports declined by nearly six percent in the July-October period after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced. Our apparel industry is in deep trouble. It employs about 12.9 million people, most of them in small and unorganised units; the textile sector as a whole employs 44 million. A study just published by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) says grimly that total employment in the country declined by 12.8 million between 2013-14 and 2015-16. ICRIER says the apparel industry accounted for 19 percent of the total 13.25 million workers in the organized sector. These were ‘good jobs’ and deserved encouragement. Apparel exports have hovered around $17 billion annually for the past few years. ...

    TOI on Nov. 15, 2017, 10:50 p.m.

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    ...The government seems incapable of doing so by itself. Inspiring good-news stories are dotted around our vast country – and they are all happening in disparate ways, like brightly-lit ships passing one another. The ocean is still dark and deep. The people who are trying to bring about systemic change, acknowledge that the challenge is huge. They are all trying to move children in government schools from rote learning plagued by teacher absenteeism, inadequate tools, and the temptation to drop out in secondary school, to ‘21 st -century’ skills like problem-solving, innovative thinking, and an aspiration to progress to college or vocational education. Each model is remarkable, reproducible, and scalable – if only the government could borrow all best practices, create a template, and pour money and resource into a nationwide crusade. ...

    TOI on Nov. 3, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

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    ...The churning of India’s education system, thankfully, is not taking an eternity. Over the past 70 years, it has yielded more poison than nectar. But it is underway. The Narendra Modi government has been trying to frame a new National Education Policy (NEP) for the past three years. In January 2015, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) launched an “unprecedented collaborative, multi-stakeholder and multi-pronged consultation process” covering 33 themes across the country. In October 2015, it appointed a committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian to draft an NEP. Four months later its name was mysteriously changed to a “Committee for Evolution of the NEP”. The Subramanian committee submitted its report in May 2016, with about 95 recommendations. It was never published. Instead, the MHRD issued a report titled ‘Some Inputs for Draft NEP 2016’. ...

    TOI on Oct. 26, 2017, 11:38 p.m.

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    ...The discovery is tragic and frustrating. But first some good news: Sandip Karbhari Gund (whom I hadn’t heard of until this week, and I am a little ashamed about it) is a 30-yearold who taught third- and fourthgrade children in a small zilla parishad school in Pashtepada, a tiny farming hamlet (population 347) in Shahapur taluka in Maharashtra’s Thane district. Sandip’s innovation has put Pashtepada on the national map, but note three things: it got a proper road only after Sandip rose to prominence; it still has very patchy electricity (most houses have none and there are long blackouts during the monsoons); and despite Sandip becoming a symbol of Digital India, it still does not have broadband connectivity – in other words no Internet. ...

    TOI on Oct. 18, 2017, 11:47 p.m.

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    ...The combination of these two images led to his 2014 victory,” Jha writes. “There has since been a third, under-appreciated, shift: Narendra Modi is today a garibon ka neta, a leader of the poor, even as he retains elements of his other two avatars.” Poverty has indeed become the most popular hashtag in the marketing bumpf for the latest Yojana. You would hope that with the hundreds of schemes launched in the name of the poor over the 70 years since independence, we would bestow instant divinity on the leader who vows to never come up with another poverty-eradication plan because real poverty has been wiped out. But that is not about to happen. ...

    TOI on Oct. 5, 2017, 12:17 a.m.

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    ...Then you felt full and happy. But it was mostly gas. It’s feeling a lot like that these days, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have a tough time keeping our spirits up. Every few days there is a saccharine shot, but let’s face it – we are in the doldrums. Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have both extracted an economic price from nearly every Indian. The drumbeat of dismal data continues. The Index of Industrial Production rose just 1.2 percent in July compared with a 5.2 percent rise in July 2016. IIP for the manufacturing sector inched up only 0.1 percent in July, compared with a rise of 6.3 percent in July 2016. Consumer price inflation rose by 3.36 percent in August, up sharply from 2.36 percent in July and a cheering low of 1.54 percent in June, driven mainly by higher food and fuel prices. Since ‘dynamic’ daily pricing for petrol and diesel was introduced in June, prices have shot up. ...

    TOI on Sept. 21, 2017, 1:37 a.m.

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    ...We knew weeks earlier that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was going to re-order his squad after the end of parliament’s monsoon session. By Saturday, everybody and her sister knew exactly who was in and who was out. Six ministers had obediently resigned in advance. There were already three vacancies — Manohar Parrikar, Venkaiah Naidu and Anil Dave. It is zero-sum arithmetic: Modi had 75 members on his team before those vacancies, and has exactly the same number after nine new people got to wear the cap on Sunday. It was the third cabinet reshuffle since Modi took power. This team has to carry the baton for the final third of Modi’s term. However, politics is not cricket. A good cricket team can win by performing well together for the five days of a test match. If a government rules well for a five-year term, the party it owes allegiance to stands a good chance of winning the next election. Of course, voter behaviour is not always predictable. ...

    TOI on Sept. 7, 2017, 1:15 a.m.