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The New Indian Politics: No Slowdown, No Panic

This piece originally appeared in the Financial Times on September 23, 2012 (gated) and is posted here with permission.

The Indian government’s recent reforms to reduce government subsidies and embrace greater foreign direct investment were unexpected and bold. Markets have rewarded them with surging stock prices and a rebound in the value of the rupee. The reforms may yet be reversed or diluted because of the political backlash. Their impact may be more symbolic than substantive. Nevertheless, they are significant in that they reflect changes in the operating assumptions of Indian politics.

Can India’s Power Problems Be Solved?

This post also appears on the Peterson Institute for International Economics Real Time Economics Watch.

In Lord Richard Attenborough’s movie Gandhi, an underling of the British Empire heatedly warns his supercilious boss that Mahatma Gandhi’s impending protest march to the sea poses a far greater threat than the Raj realizes: “Salt, sir, is a symbol.” This elicits the memorable sneering put-down from the boss (played by Sir John Gielgud): “Don’t patronize me, Charles.”

Fast or "Farce"? Whither India's Anti-Corruption Movement?

When I last blogged about India's recent anti-corruption groundswell, a loose coalition of NGOs and citizens led by social activist Anna Hazare had just scored a crucial victory in the ongoing struggle to curb corruption in the world’s largest democracy.  For months Anna's India Against Corruption movement (dubbed “Team Anna” by the press) had engaged in agitations meant to pressure the government of India in

India’s Summer of Scams Reaches a Climax

Picture this: an Indian social activist from humble origins, dressed in homespun and espousing the virtues of non-violent civil disobedience, takes on his country’s corrupt overlords by launching an indefinite hunger strike to bring the government to its knees.  Think you’ve seen this movie before?  Think again.  This time around, the year is 2011 and the man in question is 74 year-old Anna Hazare, a Gandhian social activist who is responsible for taking the anti-corruption fight to the Indian government’s doorstep with his leadershi

Obama Set to Lob Canadian Carbon Bomb at India

President Obama is widely expected to approve this year the construction of a massive new oil pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to Texas refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting boost in the emissions of heat-trapping gases has been called the world’s biggest carbon bomb. India would be among its primary victims.

President Obama’s India Visit: A Book and Movie List

This post originally appeared on PIIE.com.

President Obama is heading to India today on a state visit that is fraught with expectations and hopes on both sides. His two predecessors, each in his own way, made a lasting impression on India. President Clinton’s reaching out to the Indian people nearly ten years ago erupted in a spontaneous dance with a group of illiterate rural women in Rajasthan, and the president etched himself in the Indian psyche as the modern day Lord Krishna—the legendary lover-god of Indian mythology. President Bush endeared himself to Indians by pushing through the civil nuclear deal, whose real import was the signal that: “You, India, are one of us.” Lacking the natural press-fleshing charms of Clinton, and the goodies that Bush had to offer, President Obama will have to find his own, cerebral, route to winning the hearts and minds of Indians. Here’s a book and movie list for President Obama that might help understand four dimensions of India: society and culture, history, religion, and cricket.

India Emerges as an Aid Donor

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

Last month, the Indian Express reported that India might not accept aid from the United Kingdom after April 2011. India has been the largest single recipient of British aid, receiving more than €800m (about $1.25b) since 2008. This announcement is perhaps symbolic of the fine line that India is walking between being a “developed” and “developing” country. It is the eleventh largest economy in the world, growing 8-9% annually. But it is also home to one-third of the world’s poor—there are more poor people in India than in all of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nonetheless, over the past decade, India has quietly transitioned to a donor country, emerging on the world stage as a significant provider of development assistance.

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