Verbatim
Tavleen Singh - The reason why the leftists in Sonia Gandhi's kitchen cabinet have managed to reverse the economic direction that India took after 1991 was because nobody spoke for reforms. The Prime Minister, a man of silences at the best of times, said nothing and the handful of ministers who believe in the economic reforms said nothing either. And, it did not improve matters that major Indian companies were caught colluding with ministers to help politicians become tycoons in their own right.
Harish Khare - Democracy and its imperfections have taken a toll on society’s morals. And because we ask nothing of our citizens — not sacrifice, not restraint, not moderation — we have ended up creating a morally unappetising divide between the haves and have-nots: under instigation from the bogus vendors of “good governance’ the haves have started asking why they should pay taxes if “their” wealth was to be wasted on giving food or medical care to the poor. A most extreme version: why should we pay taxes to a government that we have declared to be “corrupt?”
Harsh V Pant - India had long claimed to be detached from al-Qaeda or any international terror plot — even though it has the second largest Muslim population in the world. This, of course, has turned out to be false: every major Islamist urban terror cell in the country since 1993 has seen a preponderance of Indian nationals. Attacks are being carried out with impunity by home-grown jihadist groups, trained and aided by organisations in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh. The most prominent terrorist group in India today, the Indian Mujahideen, is a loose coalition of jihadists bound together by ideological affiliations and personal linkages, with its infrastructure and top leadership scattered across India. India’s response to terrorism has always been inadequate but the competitive politicisation of national security will only ensure that India’s adversaries can be rest assured that if nothing else, India’s feckless politicians will be there to give them succour. 
Editorial in Mint - The UPA’s excessive reliance on doles and subsidies rather than on investments in public goods has only stoked the fires of inflation, raising deficits, and slowing growth. The UPA inherited stable finances and witnessed a global boom in its early years. It missed that opportunity to build the base for a sustained attack on poverty. Given the slowdown in the growth engine and the fall in public resources, India has now run out of ammunition to fight poverty with the same vigour as before. Neither growth nor inclusion will be easy now.
Sandipan Deb - Dear Dr. Sen: Your much-touted Kerala development model is a joke, especially among Malayalis who have a sense of humour. The state—which, anyway, is a money order economy—leads the country in suicide rates, the number of mentally ill people, domestic violence, alcoholism, bandhs and man-days lost, and lust for gold jewellery. Reams of statistics have been hurled at you, and yet you keep speaking about it, but then, philosophers don’t care about data, do they? Only economists do.
Arvind Panagariya - Ten years ago. nobody questioned Amartya Sen. Not today. The whole debate has been unleashed. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh  is more of a Bhagwati... I think it is his political compulsion that has driven him to this. A lot of the Prime Minister's fault is that he embraced it without providing sufficient opposition... he could have made a lot better effort to persuade the Congress president that this (not pushing reforms) was not a good path.
Nirmala Sitharaman - The Congress, in its desperation to return to power in 2014, has created an environment similar to the Emergency days: control the media, criticise the judiciary, call members of the Opposition “obstructionists” and misuse government machinery for propaganda. People want good, accountable governments which ensure basic civic facilities, jobs, education, health and safety. The Congress knows it has failed to deliver on these. The “secular versus communal” debate is a smokescreen behind which the Congress is trying to hide.
Virendra Kapoor - While rejecting the curative petition of the Gujarat Government seeking review of its order upholding the appointment of Justice (Retd.) R.A. Mehta as the State Lokayukta, a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, inter alia, said, "...The recommendation of Chief Justice (of Gujarat) suggesting only one name instead of a panel of names is in consonance with the law laid down by this court, and we do not find any cogent reason to not give effect to the said recommendation..." Very well, then. But how do you square it with an order passed by another bench headed by Justice K S. Radhakrishnan, which said: "The Governor of the State of Karnataka can appoint Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta only on the advice tendered by the Chief Minister and that the Chief Justice of the High Court is only one of the consultees and his views will have no primacy." The bench thus upheld the Karnataka High Court order quashing the suo motu appointment of Upa Lokayukta by the state Governor. Or what is good for Karnataka is not good enough for Gujarat?
Shekhar Gupta - For a full nine years, India's economic reform had no champions in national politics and only a handful within the commentariat. The Congress party's rented intellectuals, led by the NAC, took over the entire discourse and nobody dared to question them, although some fretted behind the scenes. Inevitably, even some usual suspects, who had been celebrated as reformers in the past, took the cue and changed sides. This was a risk-free bandwagon. There were many who disagreed, but nobody was willing to come out in the open to take on the Sen-Dreze doctrine read with Stiglitz. For Indian economists, whatever their beliefs, the ultimate prize is the embrace of the establishment. The only two reckless enough to be anti-establishment were Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya.
R Jagannathan - Criticising Modi for his statement on being a Hindu nationalist since he was born a Hindu, Sibal makes this point: “ It seems that the chief minister believes that every born Hindu is a Hindu nationalist. With respect, there are some born Hindus who are anti-national. Some born of other faiths are also anti-national.” Sibal’s “burkha” of secularism stands exposed from his statement. He is not coy about identifying “some born Hindus as anti-national” but anti-nationals of “other faiths” will not be identified with their faiths. Is he talking about Parsis or Buddhists here? It’s quite clear, for the Congress party, Hindu communalism is the only for of communalism. The “burkha of secularism” protects the rest of the bigots.
Yashwant Sinha - The Modi-baiters have a clear game plan. The more he speaks, the more controversy they will create. The pre-election political discourse will, thus, be distorted and attention will shift from the mis-governance and corruption of this government. The secular/communal divide in our polity is the most spurious of all divides. Rabid casteists are masquerading as champions of secularism. The real issues are the bread, onion and salt of the people. The real issue is corruption at every step in which this government has indulged. It will be a grave mistake to allow Congress to change the agenda and force a debate on its terms.
Ravi Shankar - Sonia Gandhi’s pet populist project, the Food Security Bill (FSB), is nothing less than a bribe offered to the people of India. A gigantic vote bank will get food at throwaway prices at taxpayers’ expense. UPA II is undeniably the most corrupt government in history. Scams, from telecom, sports to coal, have looted lakhs of crores of public money in the name of development. The economy is at a standstill. The fiscal deficit is Rs 4.89 lakh crore. Inflation is poised to hit 7 per cent again and food inflation exceeds 6 per cent. The rupee promises to slide to `70 against the dollar. Foreign companies are wary of investment because of corruption. But all that is not Sonia’s concern. It is the Gandhi Family Security Bill alone that matters.
Shekhar Gupta - The Congress knows that if they allowed this election to be fought on governance, they would be laughed out. And if they let the opposition set it up on corruption, they would be wiped out. So the Congress has gone right back to trying to convert this into a single-point contest: not to bring themselves back, but to keep Modi out. In political English what this means is, if I can set up this campaign on the single point, who the Muslims should fear and who they shouldn't, I may be able to deny the NDA, or rather Narendra Modi, power.
Deepak Parekh - Our biggest failure is that we have allowed ourselves to become immune to corruption. Today bribes are being channelled through sophisticated corporate deals, which prima facie look like normal investments, but are in companies that are backed by those in power. These funds are in actuality pay-offs in return for various favours. Such transactions are harder to detect, but what is worrisome is that the amounts involved are stupendous. India must have an act similar to the UK Bribery Act, 2010 wherein it is a criminal offence for both, the giver and taker of a bribe and it is also a corporate offence if a business is found to have failed to prevent bribery.
Samanwaya Rautray - The Supreme Court said that while freebies do destroy a level electoral field, they don't amount to a corrupt practice — because the law only speaks of corruption by a candidate and is silent on parties. It's not okay for an individual candidate to hand out pre-poll sops and promises, but it's fine if his sponsors do it? Now look at the cost. The voter in Tamil Nadu has free TVs and grinders, but no power to use them. The state is reeling under 16-hour power cuts. Not that things are better in any of the other states; Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Odisha, to name a few. In rural Odisha, agriculturists are leaving their fields fallow. Who wants to work hard on tilling and harvesting when rice is free? What does that do the state's economy?
Srivatsa Krishna - "Why do you Indians have the spectacular ability to mess yourself up?" asked one of the world's most respected CEOs of one of the largest global private equity (PE) funds recently. Likewise another one of his ilk remarked: "We see policy change in every major country in the world when the government changes, but in no other country does policy flip-flop happen even without a change in government!!" According to yet another peer, "India is too slow for us to do things in one lifetime".
R Jagannathan - Over the last 11 years, the full resources of the state, the media, the courts and every possible investigative agency in the land have been put to work to get one man nailed. This is how the schema has worked. If lower courts can’t implicate or nail Modi, try the higher courts; if the higher courts can’t go too far, get another investigation started; if that doesn’t work, move the courts again to appoint a SIT; if the SIT’s report is not enough, try an amicus curiae; if that doesn’t work, try another SIT in another case; if that doesn’t work, try the CBI. And so it goes on and on. The goal is simple: keep trying till you get the verdict you want. Make everyone feel guilty that our job as liberals is not done till one man goes to jail. The Congress party is willing to do enormous damage to the country to achieve its goal of keeping Modi out of power at the centre. It is willing to risk setting one intelligence agency against another and compromise national security...
Swapan Dasgupta - It is now quite apparent that Rahul doesn't like spending his birthdays in India. The reason for this annual flight from the fatherland to the extended motherland is a subject of unending speculation. Rahul was a bit unlucky this year that his annual birthday break coincided with the tragedy in Uttarakhand. The Congress vice-president didn't quite realize the enormity of the disaster - after all he isn't terribly familiar with religious tourism - and was missing when the PM and Sonia Gandhi did their mandatory aerial survey and Narendra Modi rushed in where angels fear to tread. When he finally returned - did he cut short his holiday? - Rahul did the mandatory aerial survey but he failed to dispel the impression that he is never there when his party needs him the most.
T.N. Ninan - The decision to allow Reliance and others to double the price of natural gas boggles the mind with its barefacedness. Bizarrely, the price approved by a Cabinet committee on Thursday is 24 per cent higher than what was reportedly favoured by the "parent" ministry of petroleum and natural gas for April-June 2013. Remember that the previous minister for petroleum and natural gas, S Jaipal Reddy, was shunted out after he wrote a strong note opposing what has now been approved. If power consumers and fertiliser users will now be told to pay more in order to please India's richest man, it would be the most regressive step imaginable.
R Jagannathan - Family-dominated dynastic parties are particularly prone to believing in such fallacies - that freebies win elections – because they are often cut off from ground realities, and their courtiers are happy to suggest pork-barrel schemes as vital for success. This is particularly true of the Gandhi family, which chooses to operate behind high walls, and less true of dynasties that are more rooted in the soil (Mulayam Singh, Sharad Pawar), but even they feel the need for freebies when the next generation gets into the picture. Dynasties are by definition insecure, and ultimately they try to buy votes to sweeten the deal for an electorate which asks ‘why should I elect your son/daughter’?
Vinod Rai - I think we need to trust the business community, we need to trust corporates, and we need to see ourselves in the light of facilitators. Unfortunately, what has happened in India is that a climate of distrust has been built up and that is why we go wrong. We give out a signal that we are not going to be following a system that is transparent and objective and that is why we encourage people to jump the queue. I bel­ieve the government should be seen to be encouraging enterprise in general and not particular entrepreneurs. This means, I wish to encourage power projects, but not any particular individual’s project. Whichever is the superiormost, let us go in for that.
Ashok Malik - On its treatment of Patel, the Congress (today’s political party, not the historical entity) is on the defensive. Take Patel’s Bharat Ratna. It was awarded posthumously in 1991, 41 years after the man had died. In contrast, Nehru was given the Bharat Ratna in 1955 and Indira Gandhi in 1971 (both by Governments they headed). Rajiv Gandhi got it posthumously in 1991, just before the conferment on Patel. This represented a strange oversight. In the interim period, even K Kamaraj (posthumously in 1976) and MG Ramachandran (posthumously in 1988) had been awarded the Bharat Ratna — but not Patel.
Nitish Kumar, in December 2003 - What happened (in 2002) was a blot. But it’s not good if we remember just that and forget other things that are happening. I congratulate Narendra Bhai. Gujarat’s development is helpful for India and if Gujarat develops the nation will also develop. I hope Narendra Modi won’t be confined to Gujarat for long and the nation will get his services.
Tavleen Singh - What is it about Mr Modi that has so caught the imagination of young people, captains of industry, ordinary workers in his party and even a handful of political pundits?... Nobody other than Modi has dared say 'government has no business to be in business'. Nobody other than Modi has dared admit that India has lost its way and needs to discover where it wants to go and how it wants to get there. And, nobody other than Modi has talked of the need for India to get beyond poverty alleviation and dream a dream of prosperity. It is these things that make Narendra Modi seem like the right man to lead India, especially since he comes at the end of a wasted decade during which Sonia Gandhi's socialist economic policies have ruined what used to be called 'the India story'.
Meghnad Desai - The precision of the timing with which the CBI announced that they were investigating a case against N Srinivasan was uncanny. Not just any case but one involving Jagan Reddy as well, which put Srinivasan in a special class of those who have displeased the top of UPA. At first it looked like Srinivasan, like all other netas, was immune to removal and could carry on his trade with impunity. After all, a corrupt son-in-law is almost a must-have fashion accessory in the top families among India's elite. What are daughters for then?
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