Paranjoy Guha Thakurta


Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is an educator and commentator

Taxes and borders

The unprecedented case relating to the income-tax department’s demand for Rs 11,000 crore in the form of capital gains tax from Vodafone International, which was rejected by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of India, S.H. Kapadia, has become extremely murky and convoluted with an advocate petitioning for a reconsideration of the judgment on the ground that the Chief Justice should not have heard the case since his son is working for a consulting firm that had advised Vodafone on its tax dispute with the I-T authorities.

On Internet, a need for definition

Union minister for communications and information technology Kapil Sibal may claim to executives of Internet companies that he is ready to set fundamentalist hound-dogs belonging to a certain unnamed

UP and UPA

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati is no pushover. She will hit the road after all her political rivals. But it is clear that her election campaign will be a juggernaut. The leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), unlike most politicians, cares two hoots about the media, especially the English-language media. But she is conscious about building her public image as a no-nonsense administrator. After sacking 10 of her ministers in 10 days, she decided to deny half the sitting BSP MLAs tickets to contest the forthcoming polls.

A satrap plans siege of Centre

The past few months have indicated that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is one of the canniest politicians in India at present. She turns 57 on January 5. In a country where geriatrics still wield relatively greater influence and power, she has displayed instincts that are astute beyond her years. She has demonstrated that she possesses ruthless abilities to arm-twist her bigger partners in ways which few could have imagined, leave alone anticipated. She has shown that behind her apparently whimsical persona lurks a political animal that waits for her stronger quarry to show signs of weakness before striking to wound, not kill.

Is it fine to extenuate?

Imagine a situation where a person is found guilty of having committed a crime by a court of law after following a due process of ascertaining guilt. Imagine in this situation that the maximum penalty for having committed the offence is 20 years behind bars. The judge thereafter exercises his discretionary powers and pronounces that the guilty individual will be punished by paying a fine amounting to, say, `20 and by saying, “Sorry I shall never again do what I did.”

India is a democracy and it will grow too

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant past, this correspondent admired medical doctor Mahathir Mohamad who was the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years. Not any longer. Not after his stupid — yes, there is no other word more appropriate — remarks on democracy and development while speaking in New Delhi on December 2. He may be described as the architect of modern Malaysia and a man under whose stewardship, this southeast Asian country became an economic powerhouse. But, at the age of 86, the doctor seems to have clearly lost the plot.

Land grab in SEZ garb

Before and after the law to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was enacted in 2005, there was considerable opposition to the government’s move to establish export-promoting areas with superior infrastructure facilities on the basis of generous tax concessions. One important criticism was that the government’s SEZ policy would be misused for real estate development rather than for generating exports. In response, the government said it would put in place adequate safeguards to prevent this from happening. Six years down the line, some of the worst apprehensions of the critics of the SEZ policy have come true.

Rift wide open

The ideological rift within the United Progressive Alliance government has widened in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in favour of further decontrol of the prices of petroleum products. It’s not just the Trinamul Congress which is upset about the increase in petrol price (which was, in any

Wavelength of a scam

The contradiction stares you in the face. Never before in the history of independent India have so many once-influential politicians, businesspersons and bureaucrats been simultaneously spending time behind bars on corruption charges. Yet the current United Progressive Alliance government is widely perceived as being packed with people with flexible ethics, if not those who are downright corrupt. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a man whose personal integrity has not been questioned. But he is also seen as the head of a government who turned a blind eye to the corrupt practices of a few of his erstwhile Cabinet colleagues.

Mutinous footfalls?

Less than halfway through its five-year term, the second UPA government appears paralysed, if not perpetually on the edge of a precipice. Despite his personal probity, the image of Manmohan Singh has taken a battering — he is being seen (by, among others, his own erstwhile admirers) as a person no longer in command, as a spineless leader of a fractious coalition torn by dissension, whether on the so-called poverty line or on the inept handling of the biggest scandal in independent India relating to the undervaluation and misallocation of 2G spectrum.

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