Paranjoy Guha Thakurta


Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is an educator and commentator

Green government, red alert

Can the Communists achieve what appears impossible to all but its most die-hard supporters and be re-elected to power in West Bengal for the eighth time in a row? The odds appear so heavily weighted against such a possibility that many analysts expect a tsunami of support in favour of the Trinamul Congress, in an uneasy coalition with the Congress.

Stop grain drain

Even as a global food crisis looms on the horizon with high prices pushing more and more into poverty, India prepares to export wheat and rice following a record harvest and another one in the offing because of an expected normal monsoon. But there is a huge irony in the prevailing situation.

A binary revolution

Although Anna Hazare has been able to epitomise public anger against corruption in high places, euphoric descriptions of these events as the beginnings of a middle-class inspired “revolution” or as an example of “street power” prevailing over “state power” (as in Egypt) are uncalled for.

The slippery slope of soaring oil prices

The turmoil in north Africa and West Asia will render awry the budget arithmetic of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee even if global prices of crude oil stabilise at around $100 per barrel. An increase in the administered price of diesel is expected in the second week of May — which may be accompanied by hikes in the prices of subsidised kerosene and cooking gas. All of which is certain to ensure that inflation will remain high despite government claims to the contrary.

Is the CBI free?

Is the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) truly autonomous? Very few believe that the country’s premier police investigative agency is free from political interference. Yet, somewhat paradoxically, more people seem to have greater faith in the ability of the CBI (more than state government police agencies) to prosecute offenders, particularly influential politicians, if not, at least, unearth relevant facts relating to the commission of crimes, including acts of corruption.

Please all, please none

Pranab Mukherjeeis the most seasoned politician in the present government. He was finance minister more than a quarter-century ago when Manmohan Singh was the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. He has seen economic policy in the country change over the decades. In this year’s Budget, he has conveyed an impression that he is trying to walk the proverbial tightrope by seeking to please everyone and his brother. That’s not an easy task in the best of times. The chances that he will fail are quite high.

JPC: Now too little and very late

Has the Union government finally veered round to the view that it will accept the demand of the Opposition to set up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to inquire into the 2G spectrum scam in the interest of ensuring that the forthcoming budget session of Parliament proceeds smoothly? That was the impression some of those present at an all-party meeting convened by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on February 8 had.

A wiry mess

Even as the government has tied itself up into knots over the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas and the institution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to inquire into the spectrum scam, in his zeal to show hoe quickly and efficiently he has been working, Union minister for communications and information technology Kapil Sibal has announced the contours of a proposed new telecommunications policy that directly contradicts his own position — as well as that of the deputy chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia — that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has erroneously calculated the extent of the under-valuation of second generation (2G) electromagnetic spectrum.

A political charade

The attempt by Union minister for communications and information technology Kapil Sibal to trash the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (cag) in the scam relating to under-valuat

UPA’s twin problems

The biggest problems of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, less than two years into its second term, can be summarised in two words: corruption and inflation.

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