The Quint’s editor-in-chief Raghav Bahl speaks on business, politics and policies.
Will India Do Better Or Worse Under ‘Centrists’ Biden & Harris?
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) nominated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the November elections in a uniquely spectacular manner. The fact that it was a COVID-induced ‘virtual event’ was perhaps the least of it.
But the parade of Republican heavyweights at a Democratic convention was unprecedented, from Colin Powell, John Kasich to Cindy McCain. I shudder to think what legal convolutions would have gotten triggered if India’s moth-ridden anti-defection law was applied to these worthies!
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Music: Big Bang Fuzz
Budget 2020: Despite ‘Fixing’, ESOP Remains A Much-Abused Acronym
India taxes ESOPs, ie employees stock options, harshly, very harshly. Let me give you a quick history lesson.
When I founded TV18 in the early 90s, we had given generous stock options to our critical team members. In that sense, we belonged to a clutch of ESOP pioneers in India. And since we were leaders in business news, we also drilled hard into issues around entrepreneurship, taxation and union budgets.
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Budget 2020: Don’t Give Tax & Fiscal Cuts — Just Give Us ‘TRUST’
It’s a familiar cacophony. Cut taxes. Invert the inverted duty structure. Control the fiscal deficit. Be honest about your arithmetic. Abolish equity taxes. Step up government expenditure, the fisc be damned. Bring back investment allowance. Slap inheritance taxes... And on it goes, a laundry list of standard policy tactics which could revive India’s economy.
Frankly, the time for budget quick-fixes is over. If PM Modi genuinely wants to rejuvenate, he’s got to create ‘TRUST’ for India’s private enterprise which accounts for 90% of the economy.
India’s bureaucracy has always been deeply suspicious of well-regulated markets. Which is why they love to micro-manage outcomes. But this time, their quest has become maniacal. If you create truly competitive markets, ‘super profits’ will vanish on their own — when will our policy-makers understand that?
We should have learned from Ben Bernanke, who authored TARP (Troubled Assets Reconstruction Program) and saved America’s economy in 2008.
The ‘criminalisation’ of business has now become quite outrageous.
Therefore, it has also had the most harmful impact on India’s economy.
Host: Raghav Bahl
Editor: Mohammad Ibrahim
Producer: Sonal Gupta
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Terrific Reforms, But Beware of ‘BABU-JAAL’ — Bureaucratic Cobwebs
For over five years, I’ve criticised ‘state creep’ on Prime Minister Modi’s watch. This tendency hit a crescendo on 5 July 2019, when the second Modi regime’s first budget was read out in parliament. While that document was riddled with state over-reach, I will remind you only of the most egregious measure: a voluntary contribution under CSR (corporate social responsibility) was converted into a criminal liability! Mercifully, it was quickly aborted, but not before it had betrayed the underlying instinct.
Inevitably, the sentiment, markets and financial indicators tanked after the Fifth July Budget. A concerned Modi tried to ‘talk up’ the economy by feting ‘wealth creators’ in his Independence Day speech, but it fell on deaf years. The markets continued to plummet.
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Let’s Not Waste a Good Maharashtra Political Crisis
The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress coalition in Maharashtra is perhaps the second most ‘unthinkable’ political alliance in India, next only to the most incompatible BJP-PDP coalition in Jammu & Kashmir, that ended with devastating consequences.
So, what are the lessons from this most unusual, 80-hour-long Maharashtra political fiasco?
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Dear PM Modi: Crack This Quiz & Fix the Economy
India’s economy today can be described by a four-letter word. Oh c’mon, it’s not what you are thinking… Even the sarkari (government-owned) State Bank of India says that GDP growth could fall to around four percent when the July-September number is revealed, that’s what!
And as usually happens in an acute crisis, everybody and her aunt is offering solutions. Fix this, increase that, cut here… If anything, Prime Minister Modi is getting buried under a million “miracle ideas”. But sadly, too many good fixes also become a bad thing, because only a bit of this and a bit of that gets done, and the problem never goes away.
So let’s answer a small quiz. I will throw ten options at you. All of these are critical actions required to pull India’s economy out of its current funk. At the end, I will ask you one final question. Check if you’ve really got it figured out in your head.
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