India’s “flawed” democracy and the colonial legacy

Originally posted in OpIndia The news that self-appointed guardians of world democracy, the US based Freedom House and Sweden’s V-Dem Institute had downgraded India’s democracy to “partially free” and “flawed” has captured the headlines in Indian media. In both the rankings, some interesting facts stand out. Out of the top 10 “most” democratic countries, 90%Continue reading “India’s “flawed” democracy and the colonial legacy”

Ways to improve English communication and vocabulary

English Vocabulary: The first step to expand your vocabulary is to buy the Wren and Martin “Wordpower made easy.” You will learn the linguistic origin of words and begin to look at English words in a different light. The next step is for serious learners. You need to know as many words of the BarronsContinue reading “Ways to improve English communication and vocabulary”

Excerpt: What is the path forward?

While there are many quixotic demands of protesting farmers, the prime concerns seems to be mistrust of the private sector and questioning the intentions of the government. Much of the farmer opposition is based on “what if” scenarios which is based on wild speculation about their futures. Many are slippery slope arguments, and arguments onContinue reading “Excerpt: What is the path forward?”

Excerpt: Why not give MSP prices to all farmers?

The people advancing this argument have absolutely no understanding of how markets work. Around 60-80% of foodgrain procurement in India currently happens through the private sector. Some pay the MSP prices but most do not. Forcing every private player to pay MSP will bankrupt them as the market doesn’t demand it. This will destroy evenContinue reading “Excerpt: Why not give MSP prices to all farmers?”

Excerpt: Will farmers be screwed by privatization?

Indians have a paternalistic and socialistic approach to privatization. Nehru nationalized Indian Airlines hoping to provide top notch service and to make it accessible to everyone. Indira Gandhi did the same with Indian banks to make it accessible to the poor. The end result was extraordinary corruption, shutting the doors to the poor, rampant inefficiencyContinue reading “Excerpt: Will farmers be screwed by privatization?”

Excerpt: Are the protests non-political?

Just look at who is driving the protests in the enclosed list. We see the following – a bunch of purely political parties and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (highlighted in yellow). The President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union is Mahendra Tikait, the son of the same leader Mahendra Tikait who brought the Rajiv Gandhi governmentContinue reading “Excerpt: Are the protests non-political?”

Excerpt: Are farmers from all over India protesting?

It is silly to say that Indian farmers are protesting. While much of the protests are political, most of the protests seem to be from one state, Punjab. To understand why, it would help to understand that Punjab rice farmers sell 100% of their produce through MSP compared to say 1% in a state likeContinue reading “Excerpt: Are farmers from all over India protesting?”

Excerpt: Who are the vested interests?

Private sector players like Amul, Suguna, Nestle, Hatsun, and ITC work directly with farmers and set up storage and collection facilities to procure directly. This simplifies the supply chain and makes the overall costs cheaper. But this clearly is not a good deal for the middlemen, moneylenders and loan sharks. They have every interest inContinue reading “Excerpt: Who are the vested interests?”

Excerpt: Long term consequences of no reforms

India is stuck in the past. Figure 2 shows that it is almost 200 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to moving out of agriculture, and transitioning to other sectors of the economy like manufacturing and services. When the British ruled India, they had an incentive in keeping India out ofContinue reading “Excerpt: Long term consequences of no reforms”

Excerpt: What is the current condition of Indian agricultural supply chains?

Currently there are 10,000 suicides a year among farmers in India. 70% of them are tenant farmers who do not even own their land. In the present system, 70-80% of the value is captured by middlemen. For example, a farmer in Nashik gets Rs 35 per kg of onion when the consumer pays more thanContinue reading “Excerpt: What is the current condition of Indian agricultural supply chains?”