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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Welcome To Vivek

India Economy Watch is a new project, and as such we hope it will be changing/evolving/improving quite a lot in the not to distant future. The most immediate change is that we'd like to welcome Vivek Oberoi to the team.

Our objective is India Economy Watch is to try with time to produce a non-sectarian forum where a wide variety of views associated with the hopes and difficulties for India's future can be debated. We also hope to bring you ongoing coverage of the most important developments in real-time: that is, as they happen.

IEW has no 'group line', but among the themes which interest us are: what kind of agriculture, the future of indian industry, structural and regulatory reform, trade and Cancun, IT business outsourcing, technology and simplicity, and, (of course) demography and economic growth, rural and urban India, is an alternative development path available to India etc etc.

We hope to have more news and more changes in the not too distant future, but meantime, and as a form of introduction, here's a piece Vivek wrote for Business Standard, back in the summer:

Have you seen Tea with Mussolini? It's quite a charming film - especially if you are the sort who loves art and Italy. The film is set in Italy at the time when the fascists were in power. At least one protagonist - an English lady - is happy with the turn of events.

She is happy that the trains run on time! Many Italians, of course, shared the same sentiment at the time. I have heard similar stories about the emergency in India. More than a few people have said that the emergency really wasn't so bad. The trains ran on time, everyone came to office at the right time and so on. The more things change, the more they remain the same! Meanwhile, this month The Atlantic Monthly carries an article in which "analysts at the RAND Corporation lay out 10 international security developments that aren't getting the attention they deserve".

One such international security development is the growing "Hindu-Muslim divide" in India. Rollie Lal, a political scientist at RAND writes, "A defining element of Indian politics since independence has been a commitment to secularism. That commitment is now at risk from an aggressive brand of Hindu nationalism that equates Indian national identity with Hindu religious identity." So what do the Italian fascists and the emergency in India have to do with each other? Well, both have their roots in stresses produced by rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.

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