Editorials, GS-1, Uncategorized

Is globalism dead?

Whether you love Donald Trump or you hate him, you cannot deny that he has a knack for capturing the zeitgeist. At his acceptance speech at the recently concluded Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the newly anointed presidential candidate declared in no uncertain terms: “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” Trump, presumably, was speaking not only for himself and his campaign, but presumptively for the American populace, whom he hopes to lead into a brave new world come January 2017.

Is globalism dead, buried at the hands of a resurgent provincialism, parochialism, and even xenophobia in some of the major advanced economies? The rise of Trump and former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, as well as the recent decision by British voters to exit the European Union, seem to suggest the alarming possibility. In the US case, even though Sanders has exited the race, in the end gracefully, his shadow hangs over the successful Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, who has opportunistically lurched to the left to try to capture Sanders supporters—exactly as Trump courted them in his acceptance speech.

The defensive crouch and inward turn into which the US, the UK and other advanced economies appear to be descending has, of course, many parents. It would be presumptuous of economists to discount the role played by the sense which seems to pervade a section of the old stock populations in places such as the US and the UK, that the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture is beleaguered by a new and threatening (to them) polyglot multiculturalism, and one can certainly read the rise of Trump and the success of the Brexiteers in this light. (Canada is the one major Anglo-Saxon nation which, at least thus far, seems to have bucked this trend, with an assertive embrace of its plural identity by a large swathe of the political and intellectual elite.)

Yet, a defence of traditional culture and an aggressive assertion of national interest, as opposed to the global good, whether or not it is merely masking garden variety racism and xenophobia, is not the whole story. Many, although not all, of Trump’s and Sanders’ most ardent supporters, and the most fervent Brexiteers, comprise white, blue-collar workers, mostly men, who have seen their wages and employment opportunities stagnate, or worsen, in the past quarter-century or more: exactly the period we associate with the rise of globalization. These individuals are not wrong to believe that increasing integration into the global economy, through reduced trade barriers, outsourcing and the rest, bear some responsibility for their current plight. The putative new protectionists thus have a receptive audience.

It is right and proper to point out that the proposed remedies—measures which, in effect, involve turning inward and retreating from the global economy—would do more harm than good, which is the standard, and correct, received wisdom from economics. But this amounts to locking the barn door after the proverbial protectionist horse has bolted.

A signal failure of globally minded politicians and policymakers in the advanced economies in the current era has been to make an intellectually honest and politically robust case for globalization in general, and the freeing of trade in particular. Trade liberalization, under the aegis of the World Trade Organization, has been an elite-driven exercise, in which decisions taken in smoke-filled backrooms in Geneva by bureaucrats and trade lawyers are presented as a fait accompli to (what was seen to be) a docile populace back home, with no serious attempt to explain the benefits and the costs.

Rather than trying to explain that the freeing of trade creates both winners and losers, but that the losers can be compensated while the winners continue to gain—in other words, that freer trade is Pareto improving, in the jargon of economics—politicians would simply duck the issue, or use lazy and misleading locutions such as “free and fair” trade, without explaining exactly why plain old free trade was somehow unfair on its own.

Regrettably, it is not just politicians, but right-leaning economists, with some important exceptions, who have failed to articulate an intellectually coherent, while at the same time politically acceptable, case for the freeing of the economy, including for free trade. The notable exceptions, of course, include first and foremost my own great teacher, economist Jagdish Bhagwati, but, alas, his has been one of relatively few prominent voices articulating the case and fighting the good fight.

This kept the field wide open for left-leaning economists such as the Nobel winner Joseph Stiglitz. His pronouncements on the ills of globalization are music to the ears of political parties, non-governmental organizations and other assorted left-wing foes of globalization and the freeing of trade.

Forging common cause with right-wing xenophobic and nativist elements, the centrist core of support for globalism has been squeezed from both wings of the ideological spectrum. It is no coincidence that supposed polar opposites Trump and Sanders have almost identical views on the imagined ills of the global trade regime, something I pointed out in these pages and which has now become a commonplace observation.

If globalism is threatened, its supposed advocates, thus, bear at least part of the burden.

Essay, Uncategorized

Indian marathon runner O P Jaisha said she fainted at the Rio Olympics on a hot, humid day because no Indian sports official provided her with water or glucose water, a reminder that sports federations in India are often ignorant of sporting requirements.

Much has been written about Indian sports associations managed by politicians instead of athletes. Now, there is clear data on the details:

  • Only one sports association (SA)–the Athletics Federation of India–has a former national athlete as president.
  • Only nine SAs have former or present players on their governing bodies.
  • 12 SAs have not made available any details about the tenures of presidents and members.
  • Only two SAs have any kind of plan for the future.
  • Women constitute between 2% and 8% of SA governing bodies. Hockey India, with 34% female representation, is the exception.

The report outlines six major recommendations that could improve governance of sports in India:

i. Design a strategy/road-map for future: The IOA and all SAs should adopt a strategic roadmap that is disclosed to the public domain. Implementation of this roadmap should be monitored and disclosed regularly.

ii. Revamp of elections and succession planning: The SAs should amend their constitutions to set: Maximum term limits and retirement limits for members and office bearers (such as president, secretary, treasurer). Once they reach the limit, they should not be considered for future appointments.

iii. Be transparent: SAs should put their financial statements, profiles of executive council and administrative staff, budgets, expenses and remuneration details in the public domain.

iv. Mitigate conflicts of interest: SAs should disclose conflicts of interest and ensure they are not allowed.

v. Increase player- and female-representation on the council: This is important to enhance diversity on councils.

vi. IOA should be more transparent: The IOA must disclose its budgets and audited financial statements of its participation in any national and international events. For these events, it should disclose participating sportspersons, non-playing staff, including officials and doctors and a break-up of expenses.
Link

Essay, GS-1, Uncategorized

Why Swachh Bharat Is Floundering May Surprise

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to see a clean India. To fulfill this ambition, he has launched the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission, a supply-side initiative which, among other things, plans to build 110 million toilets across India between 2014 and 2019.

In spite of the government constructing 8 million toilets in 2015, worldwide, India still has the highest number of people defecating in the open, around 600 million.
Religion, caste and culture have an important role in determining whether any particular individual is likely to use toilets. Our research demonstrates that Muslim households are 5.4 times more likely to use a toilet than Hindu ones. Even Christian households are 1.3 times more likely to adopt a toilet in comparison to their Hindu counterparts. Hindu households have the lowest coverage of sanitation facilities in comparison to other religions.

This result is surprising, as Indian Muslims are on average both poorer and less educated than Indian Hindus. There are two plausible reasons for it. Open defecation among Hindu households is linked to the caste system, where the customary circumvention of excreta is sustained by keeping defecation away from the house and entrusting the cleanup job to the so-called “untouchables” or “lower” castes. Many rural Hindu households are averse to the idea of having toilets in the same building as their living quarters.

The importance of culture and behavioural attitudes is evident from the Bangladesh experience. Although it has a much lower per-capita income, Bangladesh has a significantly superior sanitation rate to that of India. Only 3% of the population in Bangladesh defecates in the open in comparison to India’s 50%.
A campaign that ran in Bangladesh, pointing out that defecating in the open may end up contaminating crops, also helped as it left many disgusted at the thought.

Muslims are more likely to live in urban areas . Spatially, households living in urban areas are 19 times more likely to use a toilet in comparison to their rural counterparts.

The caste system matters. Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Class (OBC) households have a lower probability of using a toilet when compared with households from general caste. These communities live in relatively inaccessible areas of the nation, and thus have lower access to public goods such as water connectivity, in comparison to others.

Culture and location

The likelihood of households in the Northeast Indian states of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya, and the southern state of Kerala using a toilet facility is much higher than that of a household in Delhi. In fact, in Kerala communities like the Nairs and Ezhavas, and in Meghalaya the Khasi, Jaintias, and the Garo tribes (comprising a majority of the population) practice matriarchy, where women have power in activities relating to allocation, exchange and production. This can also explain the greater prevalence of toilet users in these states. In contrast, households from Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu are less likely to use toilets in comparison to a household from Delhi.

First, the government should concentrate on creating a demand for the use of toilets. Policymakers must ensure that a larger proportion of funds are directed towards social marketing and educating people about hygiene. Intervention should target areas/districts with more per-capita open defecation rather than merely building toilets.

Second, as female literacy is important, it would be wise to target women and actively involve them in policymaking. Our study show, a household in which a woman has attained higher education (18 years of schooling) is 3.1 times more likely to use a toilet.

Finally, there is a need for government policies specifically focusing on improving sanitation in rural areas. These policies can be combined with rural education initiatives, along with measures to improve availability of water among households in villages.


The state must intervene to inject some antibodies and upend the caste order. These need not be magic bullets but relentless prescriptions for social reform devised in consultation with experts and civil society. People must be nudged, shepherded, exhorted, pressured, mandated and legislated to relinquish caste.

1. Prepare a next generation that rejects casteism: Mandatory caste sensitivity training for all students and teachers from late primary through middle school, enforced by HRD. Have every student pledge to disavow caste, similar to the recent compulsory anti-sexual harassment training from WCD for all private and public companies.

2. Indoctrinate public officers with unswerving allegiance to equality of all:  Mandatory periodic training of public officers on constitutional fundamentals. Police, public transport employees, teachers, lawyers and judges etc. Audit periodically.

3. Reward voluntary caste shedding by citizens: Incentivise voluntary annihilation of caste like civil marriage, dropping caste surname, inter caste marriage, adoption etc.  Tax breaks, preferential benefits like loans etc.

4. Appoint right talent to social equality policies, programs: Appoint genuine visionaries and apostles for a casteless India to ministries, departments and commissions of HRD, National Commission of Scheduled Castes, Education and Law Enforcement. Use prompt and stringent law enforcement for incidents against Dalits to send a strong message.

5. Government sponsored propaganda: Frame a readable constitution for children and public alike and promote in schools and elsewhere. Advertisements and propaganda similar to anti-smoking campaings that exhort public against casteism.

Three score and nine years after Independence, when we already have the character and soul of the India sketched out in the Constitution, the time is ripe to go beyond tokenism. India can truly unite in diversity only when the state commits to expand an India for a few to an India for all.

The Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi has solicited public input for his Independence Day address, this August 15th 2016. If he were to pick one thing, just one, it should be to issue a loud and clear clarion call to non-Dalits to end caste discrimination while backing up the rhetoric with clear, committed, comprehensive programs for social equity and hence gift India freedom from caste.Link!

Editorials, GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Researching education

  • India in a big need for research in education sector, to improve quality of education.

Research

Two kinds of research can be done in education.

untitled-diagram

 

Second type of research is usually done by economists, political scientists, sociologists and scholars from similar intellectual backgrounds.

In India nobody is bothered about first type of research, very little can be seen, and second type of research gets disproportionate attention of policymakers and the public.

It basically focuses on issues of peripheral importance to the reality of education.

If research really want to help educational policy and practice, in improving the educational experience and attainment of the millions of students in our schools, we need to pay adequate attention to the first kind of research also.

This type of research requires focus on understanding the two important elements in our education system.

  1. The teacher
  • Most teachers in India deal with heterogeneous student group
  • That present complex challenges.
  • Example
    • different age groups
    • A large number of these children would have parents who have never gone to school
    • and even for others, the brutal struggle for livelihood leaves little possibility of educational support at home.
    • Language issue: child knows different from the language used as the medium of instruction at the school.
    • For many of these children, the only full meal is the mid-day meal provided by the school. Before and after school, most of them are engulfed with their share of daily chores.

Now the questions arises:

  • How does a teacher deal with this situation?
  • How can she be effective as an educator?
  • How does she tackle the issue of multiple languages?
  • How does she provide required support to those children facing the most acute deprivation?
  • What are her struggles in doing all this, day after day, for years?
  • What support does she require and how can we make that happen?
  • How can she deal more effectively with the local community?

There is no one correct answer to any of these questions. There can be multiple valid approaches, influenced by factors factors, which may change over time.

With experience and rigorous reflection, one can arrive at relevant operating principles that can help in multiple contexts and situations.

Even these need constant critical interrogation, because of our dynamic social reality.

Now arises second set of questions which requires deep understanding of education systems in their complex social setting.

These type of questions take account of, the aims, values and concerns of education revealed by the first set with empathy.

Questions arises are:

  • How can the capacity of our 8.5 million teachers, who have a full-time job, be improved within the constraints and diversity of our education system and social reality?
  • How does community engagement with schools become effective?
  • How can schools foster constitutional values?
  • How should schools be governed, recognizing fully that simplistic, industrial-mindset governance mechanisms are not only ineffective but also harmful to good education?
  • How do we deal with the rot in the pre-service teacher education system?
  1. Individual educators and organizations
  • Some have conducted systematic inquiry and they have been able to abstract the experience into shareable knowledge.
  • And if we compare multitude of these matters and their complexity, such inquiry has been microscopic in India.

Conclusion

  • Research in education must focus on the real and important issues within education.
  • Educators themselves should adept at asking and answering research questions, rigorously and systematically.
  • If educators take responsibility for research, it will definitely cause a quiet revolution in education research and education itself.
Editorials, Uncategorized

Azaadi from a colonial rule boo

Article Link

Most major Indian laws are legacies of the British, the results of a great codification movement that failed to make much headway in the colonial metropolis, and therefore chose India as its laboratory.

  • Such laws include the Indian Penal Code or IPC (1860), the Indian Evidence Act (1872), the Indian Contract Act (1872), the Transfer of Property Act (1882), the General Clauses Act (1897), the Code of Civil Procedure (1908), and — until its overhaul in 1973 — the Code of Criminal Procedure (1898).
  • Among these, Sections 377 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code have received much attention in the recent times. These sections highlight how the British left their stamp upon India’s criminal law in a manner entirely inconsistent with a democratic, constitutional republic.

Background:

  1. Section 377:

Section 377 was in news recently, when the Supreme Court agreed to refer the curative petition against its earlier decision upholding its constitutional validity to a bench of five judges. Section 377 is one of the clearest examples of the then colonial morality that pervades the IPC.

What is it all about?

Section 377 of IPC which came into force in 1862 defines unnatural offences. It says, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

  1. Section 124A:

Section 124A is about the offence of sedition. This nineteenth century law, enacted to silence the Indian people by the colonial rulers, has been retained by the democratic government in free India. Not only that, it has perhaps been used more often by free India’s governments than the colonial government did during the 77 years of its presence in the Penal Code.

  • Sedition was not a part of the original Indian Penal Code (IPC) enacted in 1860 and was introduced in 1870. Created to deal with the rising Wahhabi movement in the 1870s, used against Gandhi, Tilak, Besant and many other stalwarts of the freedom movement, and in its latest avatar, invoked against sloganeering university students, the law of sedition is perhaps amongst the most recognisable — and notorious — provisions of the IPC.
  • Section 124A reflects a colonial logic, predicated upon a subject-ruler relationship between the Indians and the British. Its prohibition upon spreading “disaffection” against the government, and the manner of its use, makes it clear that it was enacted to preserve the reputation of the colonial government in the eyes of its subjects.

How these laws have been impacting?

The colonial context of these laws, and the manner of their use, has often left the courts in a bind. These laws have been forced into a number of unconvincing contortions to try and reconcile the colonial law with the constitutional republic. The government has also been unwilling to strike down these laws.

  • While upholding the constitutionality of sedition, the Supreme Court has restricted its operation to incidents inciting towards, or leading to, public disorder. However, this is directly at odds with the language of Section 124A, and has failed entirely to prevent abuse at the level of the police and lower judiciary.

What can be done now?

  • It can be concluded that the problems with the IPC cannot be solved in a piecemeal manner by taking isolated sections of the code and attempting to modernise them (as the Verma Committee tried to do with the laws of sexual assault, in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case). Therefore, a comprehensive relook is necessary.
  • Besides, this is not a task that the judiciary can accomplish. It is for the legislature to take a comprehensive relook at the IPC for the first time in its 156-year history and introduce reforms that do not merely tinker at the edges but transform the very philosophy of the penal law in a manner that is consistent with our constitutional principles.
  • Also, any such reform would have to be carried out in conformity with the basic principles of the Constitution.

Conclusion:

Change has never been more overdue, or more urgently required. Even the criminal law of the United Kingdom was comprehensively reviewed and changed as recently as 2003, via the Criminal Justice Act. Also, laws that claim to protect individuals from moral degradation and corruption, that privilege community sentiment over the individual right of speech and conscience, and that are based upon stereotypical assumptions about men and women, must be reviewed and modernised in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution in the Indian cont

Editorials, GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Education key to quality public representation

Many believe that while acceptability of democracy continues to be unquestionable, there is enough empirical evidence suggesting that efficacy of democratic governance has always remained doubtful. Poor functional ability of the elected representatives is the main reason behind this.

  • The question of palpable tensions between electability and functional ability of an elected representative has always figured as a prominent theme in contemporary discourse about democracy the world over.

Concerns:

It is now generally agreed that the quality of elected representatives has been the main factor responsible for this abysmally low result orientation of democratic governance.

  • In India, even today, electability, or ability to get elected, remains the single-most decisive factor in awarding a party ticket. Those who get party nomination are more often than not unable to boast of any high personal qualifications.
  • This is certainly bound to affect quality of representation, impacting deliberations, decision-making and delivery in a democratic setup.
  • And being a part of competitive democratic polity, there is an obvious limitation for any single party taking ameritocratic view (A political philosophy holding that power should be vested in individuals almost exclusively based on ability and talent). Obviously then, electability becomes the common single denominator, leading to a situation where people get a representative that they in fact do not deserve.

How to tackle this problem?

Driven by the need to overcome this quality crunch, different democracies have evolved some screening mechanisms. Measures such as a term limit to facilitate entry of fresh blood, qualifying thresholds for parties and candidates, age limit and similar such regulatory provisions were introduced by different countries at different levels.

Efforts in India:

In a bid to improve the quality of elected representatives, in 2015, Haryana amended the existing law.

  • The new law mandated that matriculation is required for a general male candidate, middle pass for a general woman candidate and for Scheduled Caste (SC) male candidate and only Class V pass for an SC woman candidate, as the minimum educational qualifications to be eligible for contesting the elections to the Gram Panchayats, or village bodies, and other Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • Having a functional toilet at home was also made a mandatory eligibility criterion for candidates.

Opposition:

Many people, including few experts, opposed the amendment, and few even contested in the apex court.

  • It was argued that whether a man or woman, SC or general, the functions of a panchayat member is the same and hence if a Class 5 pass is enough to discharge a member’s function, why has a higher qualification of middle pass and matriculation pass been imposed?
  • It was also argued that the amendment goes against the spirit behind the principle of adult franchise.
  • However, much to the dismay of the critics, the apex court upheld the amendment, which is now in force. In fact, the state went ahead with elections to village bodies under this amended act and its impact is highly remarkable and hence noteworthy.

Impacts of this law:

This law has brought many changes in the state. For the first time, Haryana, a state that had acquired a bad name for female foeticide, saw several young women making it to the positions of sarpanch. Also, most elections were held without any violence, the reason being that many hooligans were automatically driven out of the fray.

  • It has also helped achieve greater gender justice as the number of women making it to rural local self-government institutions has gone beyond the quota limit of 33%. The state has as many as 43% women members across its Zila Parishads while in Taluka Panchayats, the proportion of women is 42%. More importantly, a total of 41% villages are now headed by a woman as its chief, or Sarpanch.
  • A by-product of this new measure, making minimum education mandatory, is that the fierceness of the contests disappeared hugely. Of the total 70,071 seats for which elections were held, in as many as 39,249 seats the elections were unanimous. This takes the number of consensus candidates to a whopping 56%! Again, of the total 6,187 Sarpanchs elected, 274 got the mandate unanimously.
  • Much to the surprise of many, this amendment, being assailed as “meritocracy”-promotion has also led to social democracy with greater representation to the marginal sections of society.
  • Because of this law, many more backward class candidates have made it to the elected bodies, leaving the statutory quota figures far behind.

Way ahead:

Now, the real test of the impact of these amendments will be in the way these representatives conduct themselves. This will largely depend on the quality of deliberations, decision-making and delivery. Also under watch will be their public conduct. Now, it is up to the state government to work on a massive capacity building campaign for these newly elected representatives.

Conclusion:

When popular confidence in democracy is under severe strain, mainly due to the quality of public representation, although debatable, reforms-oriented experiments are always very important. In this regard, Haryana has taken a bold step. The apex court has already validated these reforms. Now, it is for the new entrants in Haryana’s Panchayati Raj institutions to establish that quality representation also leads to good governance, helping achieve egalitarian goals of a society where justice, harmony and avenues for aspirations are accessible to all.

GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

Essay on economic reforms in yesteryear decades

The 21st century was marked with measures to propel India’s business and economic reforms, pace for which was set in the early 1990s.

It triggered the process with a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand in 2003, followed by a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore in 2005.

Under the aegis of Foreign Trade Development and Regulation(FTDR) Act, 1992, enacted with a view to augmenting international trade,  rolled out foreign trade policy (FTP) with selective incentive regime for targeted trades.

Qualitative easing of trade barriers was ably complemented by exchange control reforms in the form of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 2000 replacing archaic law of 1973.

The (implemented in 2004) marked a significant step in Parliament’s resolve to ensure fiscal discipline. After giveaways of 2008-10, the Act was amended in 2012 with revised goals, focusing on effective revenue deficit and medium-term expenditure framework.

India embraced reform of competitive policies in line with application of World Trade Organization (WTO) principles. Whilst the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Act (MRTPA) which had been in force since 1969, as mandated by Article 38 and 39 — part of Directive Principles of States — stood in the way of prompting market-force based competitive business practices.

In a major policy shift from curbing monopolies, to promoting competition, a new Competition Act was enacted in 2002, to replace MRTP Act. The Competition Commission of India and Competition Appellate Tribunal were instituted as apex bodies to oversee effective implementation of the law.

Rush of foreign investments followed a liberal approach to foreign direct investment (FDI) policy, which catapulted India to double digit billion dollar FDI growth in past decade ($30 bn+). Fortunately, progressive liberalisation of FDI has sustained since then, including the recent policy move to permit composite FDI caps across sectors, and allowing FDI up to 49 percent (under automatic routes) in most sectors except a few which require protection due to socio-economic reasons.

Permitting FDI in newer entity forms, i.e. LLPs, AIFs, REITs and InVITs were bold policy moves initiated by successive governments, and hopefully shall unleash the growth potential of capital starved India in key sectors, particularly telecom, infrastructure and real estate.

The alter ego of FDI policy — i.e., Monetary Policy of the Reserve Bank of India — has undergone periodic review to level the field for investors in debt instruments; recent policy moves to allow rupee denominated bonds (masala bonds) and overseas borrowings in rupees provide much needed natural hedge from Forex risk to Indian companies, and reduces the end-use arbitrage vis-à-vis equity instruments.

reforms have been at the forefront, though more on policy and less on administration. Finance Act 2001 introduced the transfer pricing rules prescribing arm’s length standards for cross border transactions.

A series of tax incentives were rolled out in the past decade targeting high growth economic sectors, including special economic zones described as a wonder baby, pushing exports and accentuating employment, particularly in the area of R&D, BPO and KPO services.

In 2005, India embarked on an important indirect tax reform by replacing archaic sales tax regime with contemporary VAT regime, signalling a move towards partial VAT at the state level and gave confidence to the Centre to announce a nationwide GST, which is currently mired in political battle. During the same period, service tax legislation was broad based and eventually all services (barring negative list) were covered by 2013.

In recent years, India has embraced a contemporary and best practice-driven tax policy stance. In the past decade, India has been a significant contributor at multilateral forums (such as OECD, UN) in the global tax policy arena. Historically, India assumed an observer status at the OECD’s committee on fiscal affairs, in the wake of OCED’s project on ‘Preventing harmful tax practices’.

More recently, the OECD and G20 led BEPS project witnessed India’s participation as an associate member, i.e. at par with OECD member countries. This by itself underlines the distance India has come in the global political order in shaping tax policy.

A host of other legislative and policy initiatives are in works — start-up policy; draft bankruptcy code; ordinance to modernise arbitration and conciliation legislation; setting up of commercial courts, India’s policy on permitting arbitration in bilateral tax treaties, implementation of financial sector legislative reforms, etc. Clearly, the executive and legislative have their task cut out — only if economic wisdom prevails over political missions.