Gurcharan Das (for Info only, not official)

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Gurcharan Das

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    ...More significantly, it has improved on all 10 criteria — no other country has achieved this. Reading this report alongside the study by IDFC/Niti Aayog based on an enterprise survey of over 3,200 companies, gives tangible grounds to believe institutional reforms on the ground have finally begun. This is the first tangible proof of Narendra Modi’s promise of ‘minimum government, maximum governance,’ and in upgrading India’s rating, Moody’s has also underlined that only through institutional reforms will India realise its potential. India is a bottom-up success; China is a top-down success. A purposive Chinese state has built the most amazing infrastructure at breakneck pace and converted China into a middle-class nation within a generation. India’s is a story of private success and public failure–its rise is due to its enterprising people rather than the state. ...

    TOI on Nov. 19, 2017, 1:08 a.m.

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    ...As children, we were reminded that ‘pleasure is a sin and sin is pleasure’, and ‘a life of pleasure’ was an expression of abuse. When I was a child I was mostly up to no good, and before I could even ask her anything, my mother had a standard reply: ‘No’. It became such a habit with her that for a while I believed that my name must be ‘No’. Later, when I began to read the daily newspaper, I discovered the same prejudice existed in the media. Our paper focused relentlessly on bad news — murders, rapes and wars — and the only pleasurable things, even today, are the advertisements. Fortunately, my grandmother disagreed with the majority view in our family. She did not believe in suppressing desire but in ‘cultivating’ it. Cultivating pleasure meant that you were in charge and not the other way around. She was far more connected to our classical Sanskrit civilisation in which kama means both desire and pleasure. ...

    TOI on Oct. 15, 2017, midnight

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    ...Bhutan has, of course, become famous for pioneering Gross National Happiness to replace Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of national success. Initially, I was sceptical if governments could make one happy because happiness seems to be an ‘inside job’, a matter of personal attitude and domestic circumstances. Most of us are unhappy because of failed marriages, ungrateful children, losing a promotion, or even a lack of faith. But now I think Bhutan has a point — a state which ensures freedom, good governance, jobs, quality schools, healthcare and absence of corruption can vastly improve the wellbeing of its people. Not surprisingly, Scandinavians are at the top of the World Happiness Report 2017. America is ranked 14th and China is at 71. Surprisingly, happiness hasn’t risen in China although income per capita has multiplied five times since 1990. ...

    TOI on Sept. 17, 2017, 12:49 a.m.

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    ...The school does well and gets a nice reputation. Then a new law, the Right to Education Act (RTE) comes in 2010. It mandates parity with teacher salaries in government schools. You are forced to triple your teachers’ salaries to Rs 25,000 per month. Even Doon School has to raise its salaries. The law also insists that 25% of your students must come from poor families. Although the government is expected to cover fees of the poor, it pays only a partial amount or none at all. Fees of the 75% students rise steeply to cover the costs of both factors. Soon, teacher salaries rise again to Rs 35,000 as mandated by the pay commission. Again, you have to raise fees. Parents are angry now with constantly rising fees and ‘fee control’ becomes a political issue. The government steps in with a new law to control student fees. Gujarat, for example, caps the fee at Rs 1,250 per month for primary and Rs 2,300 for high schools. Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab also have fee caps and Uttar Pradesh and Delhi are considering one. ...

    TOI on Aug. 6, 2017, 12:20 a.m.

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    ...We celebrated ‘the best of times’ at midnight on Friday, June 30, when what seemed like a distant dream became a reality as the goods and services tax (GST) replaced 17 state and central taxes to make India one common market. It was a visionary constitutional moment as our states voluntarily gave up some sovereignty in taxation for the common good. Ironically, when the English are fighting for symbols of sovereignty, Indians chose a mature path of ‘pooled sovereignty’ based on a sobering recognition that freedom to act independently in our interconnected world is an illusion. The GST is not perfect but it is good enough to get started. ...

    TOI on July 9, 2017, 12:10 a.m.

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    ...At the time, I had been worried that India had a narrow window of opportunity called the ‘demographic dividend’. If we elected the right candidate, prosperity would enter crores of lives, and in course of time India might become a middle-class country. Our opportunity came from being uniquely young; if those in the productive age got jobs, there would be gains in prosperity far outweighing the burden of supporting the old and the very young. This window would close in a dozen or so years as India would also begin to age. As I evaluated the candidates, I concluded that Narendra Modi offered the best chance of harvesting the demographic dividend. I was aware of the risks — Modi was polarising, sectarian and authoritarian. But I felt the risk in not voting for him was greater. If India failed to create enough jobs, we would sacrifice another generation. I also felt India’s democratic institutions were strong enough to prevent a dictatorial or a fascist state. ...

    TOI on June 4, 2017, 12:10 a.m.

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    ...Despite Narendra Modi’s avowals to the contrary last week, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s zeal to abolish this controversial practice has more to do with its commitment to a uniform civil code and a Hindu Rashtra rather than compassion for a Muslim woman. The record of the Congress in this regard is no better. A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will soon begin hearing a host of petitions challenging its constitutional validity and it’s difficult to predict the outcome. The solution, however, lies neither in a social boycott proposed by the Muslim Personal Law Board, nor a mere change in the law. The real answer is a radical transformation of the mindset. To this end, it is important to understand how women have changed in history, from being mostly objects of male pleasure to free and equal human beings. ...

    TOI on May 7, 2017, 12:10 a.m.

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    ...His long-time collaborator Julia Jones says, “He used to talk a lot about dharma — he felt very strongly about dharma… one of the strongest principles throughout the Gita.” Like Krishna in the Gita, Bannon believes that the world is in moral crisis. The West is declining politically and economically from a lack of mooring in traditional Judeo-Christian values. “We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict… (and we) need to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000-2,500 years,’’ he told an audience at the Vatican in 2014. In his apocalyptic view, the world is a cosmic battlefield in a clash of civilisations. ...

    TOI on March 26, 2017, 2:03 a.m.