The Politics Of Hatred

The Hindu nationalists see people of a different religion or ethnicity as rivals. The left-wing politicians perhaps hate the rich far more. But, almost everyone hates foreigners, though they do not always go overboard in expressing their hostility. Democratic politics in India is a lot more complex than that, but this does not change the nature of the issue: Politics is about hatred. Politics is about envy and resentment.

It is hard to think of a popular policy that is not intended at lowering the status of such enemy groups, and raising the status of the in-groups. If you think that the “well-intentioned” redistribution schemes are any different, you are fooling yourself. Hatred is hatred, and resentment is resentment, regardless of who the voters think to be the enemy group, regardless of how they justify their acts.

Read The Politics Of Hatred in DNA

Why do liberal intellectuals hate Narendra Modi?

PM Narendra Modi in Singapore

“For liberal intellectuals, it is very tempting to blame Modi for the “politics of hatred”. But, is there any good reason to assume that the vast ethnic massacres, ethnic cleansing and forced sterilisations that underscored post-Independence India like a long trail of blood has nothing to do with the “politics of hatred”? 

The philosophy of anti-capitalism too targets “convenient scapegoats” like the foreigners, the corporations and the rich. In practice, though, it ruins the man at the bottom of the income pyramid. It does not occur to liberal intellectuals and journalists that it does not take great virtue or insight to damn a politician who condoned riots. But, if they genuinely cared about social justice, their hearts would have been bleeding for such “convenient scapegoats” too, and not just for the riot victims. 

But then, it is worse than a waste of time to blame politicians. Without pandering to popular prejudices, they would not have been elected to power. But, the common man could have easily taken reasonable steps to avoid political ignorance. After all, he has nothing to lose. The liberal intellectuals themselves could have read an elementary text on Economics. They too have nothing to lose, except their friends and those positions of power and influence.”

Read my piece Why do liberal intellectuals hate Narendra Modi? in DNA

The Accidental Politician: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh

Critics of Manmohan Singh tend to believe he is a neo-liberal economist, but this is, of course, nonsense. The term ‘neo-liberal’ is often an epithet hurled by their anti-capitalistic critics at the proponents of the market economy in India. I have never read a free-market economist who used the term ‘neo-liberal’ to describe his position. As Sanjaya Baru observes in his memoir, like many economists of his age and times, Singh is a Keynesian.

However, like most reasonable economists, Singh did not share the suspicion Indian politicians and policy makers had toward free trade. When Baru interviewed him in 1991, Singh

p.m. Manmohan Singh

had said he was always an opponent of Indian policy makers’ opposition to free trade. He had then recently visited South Korea and felt there was a lot India could learn from South Korea’s economy.  Many of his contemporaries would not have fully understood what this meant. When India gained Independence, both India and South Korea were impoverished nations. South Korea’s per capita income was higher than that of that of India. But, in many ways, South Korea did not have the advantages India had, like the infrastructure and the institutions the British had built. India was rich in natural resources when South Korea was not.

However, when India opened up the economy in 1991, South Korea’s per capita income had risen up several times. India was desperately poor. If Indian public and policy makers had understood the virtues of free trade in 1947, India would not have faced a crisis in 1991. India would have been a rich country, like South Korea is, today.

Read my piece on The Accidental Politician: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh in DNA.

Cash-Registers for hearts?

Many believe that Indian businessmen have cash registers for hearts. Their philanthropic contributions are believed to be insignificant in comparison to their wealth. According to the 2012 Forbes list, the wealth of the 100 wealthiest Indians is around $250 billion—13.89 per cent of India’s GDP. But, according to the estimates of a 2010 report of Bain Company, the charitable donations of Indians is only 0.6 per cent to 1 per cent of the GDP, when the charitable contribution of Americans is around 2.2 per cent of the GDP.

But, before one jumps to a conclusion, there is the other side of the story as well. On a program aired on the CNN recently, Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Sons, said that of 60-65 per cent of the Industrial proceedings of goes into programmes for education, medical, rural development or eradication of poverty. Only two per cent of the industrial proceedings go to the family.

Read my piece, Cash-Registers For Hearts

Learning From The Inflationary Mistakes Of The Past

“As usual, inflation targeting began in the United States. In 1971, the US cut the link between the dollar and the Gold. Soon other countries followed suit. Inflation started rising to unprecedented levels in the US and the other industrial nations. Like in today’s India, the inflation of the 70’s was blamed on the rising oil prices, and various external factors.

Like in today’s India, many economists had believed that with rising inflation unemployment would fall. Low growth was also associated with high inflation. But, in the 70s, with high inflation, growth fell and unemployment rose.

Economists now generally agree that inflation has no beneficial effects.”

Read my piece, Learning from the inflationary mistakes of the past in Business Standard

Interview With Cyn-Young Park

Read my interview with economist Cyn-Young Park

Cyn-Young Park is assistant chief economist of the  She has written widely on the economies and the financial markets of Asia. She was a speaker at a satellite event held in IIFT Delhi, as a part of the recently concluded  In a conversation with Shanu Athiparambath, she spoke on the importance of macroeconomic policy in shielding the economy from economic crises.

Q. If the public sector has to spend money, it has to be taken from the private sector. It has to be taxed. If the private sector does not have enough funds to make the necessary investment, where does the money come from?

A. In a way, the governments can take a long-term view when compared to the private sector. How much can the government actually spend? It depends on the country’s medium term fiscal sustainability. Unlike the private sector, the public sector can think of tomorrow, and spend today. But, that spending should not be wasted. That will be bad governance. You have to actually have a very strong governance system. The public should be able to ensure good governance.

Merchants Of Policy

When I decided to give the job a shot, I had little idea what was in store for me. I had believed that think-tanks engage in research and policy advocacy. But it was not easy to miss that my colleagues were incapable of giving the world anything more than their mindless labour. I remember two new recruits wondering what a ‘think-tank’ was, struggling to spell the word. It took a while for them to come to grips with the various nuances of Google search. A young girl had a difficult time telling ‘international economics’ from ‘environmental science’. Another girl had a Master’s degree in mass communication, but did not know what the word ‘molestation’ meant. They badly wanted to improve their writing skills, but even the tycoons of mass market fiction were beyond them. The think-tank head spent much of his time flying across the world. And my modest salary cheque often arrived months later.

Read The Merchants Of Policy .in Open Magazine.