Former RBI Governor and renowned economist Raghuram Rajan may not have won this year Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences which went to Prof Richard H Thaler, an economist and a fellow professor from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, but it is worth mentioning here that Prof Thaler had supported the much discussed demonetisation drive by the Narendra Modi government when it was unveiled on November 8 last year, though with some reservation.

Prof Thaler had then tweeted to express his opinion on the move saying “it was a policy he had long supported.” He further added that it was the first step toward a cashless economy and a good start on reducing corruption.

It is true Prof Thaler was not aware of the nitty-gritty of the Indian economy and was making a generic statement on effects of withdrawing big denomination currency from an economy. When someone questioned him about his observation on India’s demonetisation that simultaneously introduced the Rs 2000 note, his reaction was like ‘how could have happened after such a bold move when he said – really? damn!”

Richard H Thaler‏ @R_Thaler
This is a policy I have long supported. First step toward cashless and good start on reducing corruption.
Richard H Thaler added,
Breaking BusinessVerified account @breakingmoney
Indian PM Modi: 500 and 1000 rupee notes no longer legal tender as of 12 am local time (1:30pm ET) – Time of India
8:41 PM – 8 Nov 2016

Prof Thaler’s Twitter account is still unverified for it doesn’t carry the routine blue mark but it was tagged by the Nobel Prize committee announcing the Award and it does carry the link to his official profile page on the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business website which proudly features the announcement of Prof Thaler being awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences.




The article originally appeared on India Today.

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his stunned compatriots last November that two high denomination bills would no longer be legal tender, Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics today, said it was “a good start on reducing corruption.”

Thaler’s Twitter account isn’t verified. But it does have a link to his page on the website of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

And when the official announcement of the 2017 Prize in Economic Sciences was made on Twitter, the account @R_Thaler was tagged.

Now, while Richard Thaler appeared to favour the idea of demonetisation, his two-word response to being told that Rs 2,000 notes were being introduced was far less enthusiastic:

“Really? Damn.”

One of Richard Thaler’s colleagues at the Booth School of Business is none other than former RBI chief Raghuram Rajan, who recently indicated that he would have resigned had the demonetisation been thrust upon him.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

Republican US Senator Bob Corker told a leading American daily on Sunday that the threats President Donald Trump has made to other nations could put the US “on the path to World War III.”

Corker, an influential voice on US foreign policy, made this grim forecast in an interview with the New York Times (NYT). The newspaper called it “an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party.”

Donald Trump had earlier posted a series of tweets in which he claimed Corker had “begged” him to endorse his re-election bid in the US state of Tennessee (which he represents as a Senator), and that he left the race when the President refused.

He said Corker wanted to be Secretary of State, and accused the senator of being responsible for “the horrendous Iran Deal” – a 2015 agreement that limited Tehran’s nuclear program, which Trump has now threatened to decertify.

“…Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!” he wrote in the last tweet.

Bob Corker told NYT that Trump was behaving “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something,” referring to a reality show that Trump hosted for many years.

“I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker told the newspaper.

The senator, who in the interview refuted the President’s claims that he’d asked for his endorsement, also hit back on Twitter.

Bob Corker heads the powerful US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He is a supporter-turned-critic of Donald Trump – especially of his handling of issues like the North Korean nuclear crisis, or the changes he’s trying to make to the US tax regime.



A day after Trump’s vitriolic verbal attack, Republican Senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker, has hit back saying Trump is running the White House like a reality show and his reckless acts may push the United States to the World War III.

In what was described as “an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party”, the New York Times quoted Corker saying “President Trump was treating his office like a reality show….like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something….and his reckless threats toward other countries could set the nation on the path to World War III.” The Apprentice, a reality show judging business skills of its participants, was hosted by Donald Trump for many years.

Corker didn’t stop at it. He further said that “Trump was a political novice who failed to make the transition from show business and with his irresponsible outbursts, every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”

Corker also rejected Trump’s claims that he had begged him for mercy. Donald Trump had tweeted yesterday to let the world know, “Corker begged me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee as he could not win without my endorsement.”

Corker said in his New York Times interview that he had already decided that he would not seek re-election and it was instead Trump who was insisting him to run for re-election, “When I told him that that just wasn’t in the cards, he said, ‘You know, if you run, I’ll endorse you.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, it’s just not in the cards; I’ve already made a decision.’ So then we began talking about other candidates that were running.”

In his outburst against Corker yesterday, Trump had also reminded us that Corker was behind the ‘horrendous’ Iran nuclear Deal and that he wanted to be the US Secretary of State and that how Trump could have allowed the re-election of such a person! Conservative Republicans blame Corker for passage of Barack Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal as even if Corker sounded his opposition to the bill, he did not really act when it came to voting. Now Trump has threatened to decertify the Iran deal.

Senator Corker who also heads the powerful US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has been representing Tennessee since 2007. Last month, after weeks of speculation, he finally announced that he would not seek re-election the next year.

Corker is an influential voice on US foreign policy. And he is a strong supporter turned strong critic of Donald Trump, especially of his ways to handle issues like the North Korean nuclear tension or the changes he is trying to bring to the US tax regime.

And this strong rebuttal says Corker is expected to become even more critical of the Trump administration in the days to come, and as he is an influential voice, so, in a seemingly pre-emptive offensive, Trump has also tried to set the narrative from his perspective by saying that “he fully expects Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of his ‘great’ agenda.”



We don’t know so we can’t say whether it was a Donald Trump day, as he has tried to convey – that Bob Corker, Republican senator from Tennessee, begged him for mercy, for his re-election next year.

A boastful Donald Trump tweeted to let the world know, “Corker begged Trump to endorse Corker for re-election in Tennessee as Corker could not win without Trump’s endorsement.”

Trump also reminded us that Corker was behind the ‘horrendous’ Iran nuclear Deal and that he wanted to be the US Secretary of State and that how Trump could have allowed the re-election of such a person!

Now our good senses will question us, especially when it comes from a US president with historically low approval ratings right from his initial months into the White House, with almost simultaneous analytical pieces and possibilities on his impeachment and so a big question mark on his re-election chances when the US electorate goes to elect its next president.

Also, as Bob Corker has been increasingly critical of Trump’s decisions, of his ways to handle issues like the North Korean nuclear tension or the changes he has brought to US tax regime, and is expected to become even more critical of the Trump administration in the days to come, and as he is an influential voice, in a seemingly pre-emptive offensive, Trump also tried to set the narrative from his perspective by saying that “he fully expects Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of his ‘great’ agenda.”

Now, whether Corker begged Trump for mercy or not only Corker can tell us but given the way Trump and his presidency have been, Trump and his vitriol can go on to say anything. Let’s see when Corker chooses to rebut the invectives.



Like it was in 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it had helped Modi emerge as the only pan-India leader. Manmohan Singh had faded. Rahul Gandhi was not there. And regional satraps were just one-state phenomenon. If Modi had any competition from the regional satraps, it was from within the BJP only.

It seems Rahul Gandhi is honestly now trying to reach there, trying to break the image of a reluctant politician that he has carried ever since his initiation into the national politics in the latter half of the last decade. He is looking to break myths and facts around him with and after his US trip. And he is sounding focused.

It has been mostly negative developments ever since the demonetisation was announced on November 8 last year – or if we say negatives far outweigh the positives so far, it will be apt – at least the goings at the moment say so.

India is a country of small and middle income people and businesses and demonetisation negatively affected them, even if we go by the logic of the short term pain – because no one can vouch for the long term gains – except some studies including the World Bank’s and Nomura’s projections that have shown faith in an exercise that really proved unimaginable in scale (read confusion here). GST has only added to this pain and (confusion).

The Modi government has been fortunate to reap the windfall benefits of historically low crude oil prices that have helped it mitigate the huge under recoveries of its oil marketing companies. In addition, the government has also filled its coffers with lakhs of crore of Rupees by increasing the excise duty multiple times. It has kept the oil prices high, like these were during Manmohan Singh’s government. BJP had made it a big issue then, in spite of the fact that the crude oil prices were historically high then.

Now Congress and opposition parties are making it an issue and they are right, at least in public perception – and this is all what matters in electoral politics – even if the Modi government has diverted this windfall gain in several infrastructural projects. That BJP is feeling the heat due to all these issues becomes clear from the government action on revising GST structure and hinting that it is now going to pass on the benefits of the low crude oil prices to consumers, finally.

The regional satraps are still one-state phenomenon. And what goes against them is, the appeal of their parties is also limited to their respective states – SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh – BJD in Odisha – RJD in Bihar – TMC in West Bengal – TRS in Telangana – Left Front in Kerala – and DMK and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu.

The most important of them, who could have rallied other regional satraps behind him and could have posed a formidable challenge to Modi, Nitish Kumar of JDU in Bihar, is now Modi’s ally, thanks to politics of yore by RJD.

India has just few short lived governments third front governments, i.e., of VP Singh, of Chandra Shekhar, of IK Gujral and of HD Deve Gowda, and the alternative third front politics has always been a failure. The basic problem has been – all of them consider themselves to be PM material – so the unity to challenge the main national parties, i.e., first Congress and now Congress and BJP, has always been a misnomer. The maze doesn’t look different even this time.



India’s higher education is facing chronic shortage of manpower, be it the regular university education or the professional education. And when it comes to professional education, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) stand India apart in the world.

But our IITs are going through a rough phase, especially when it comes to the availability of trainers to train future engineers, scientists and tech professionals.

According to a written Lok Sabha reply by Minister of State for Human Resource Development in December last year, the sanctioned faculty strength for the IITs is 5,073. More than half of it, 2,671, are lying vacant.

According to an RTI reply obtained by a newspaper in November 2015, six of the eight old IITs (including IIT-BHU and IIT Dhanbad) are facing teaching manpower shortage, ranging from 33% in IIT Delhi to 53% in IIT BHU.

38.66% – IIT BOMBAY
41.88% – IIT ROORKEE
33.11% – IIT DELHI
53.39% – IIT-BHU

The situation of new IITs is no better, given the fact that most of these institutes have been established in the last decade, starting from 2008 and so they should have less faculty requirement during their initial formative years.

56.67% – IIT-JODHPUR
21.11% – IIT PATNA
14.44% – IIT INDORE

Six IITs, IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Patna, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Jodhpur, IIT Hyderabad and IIT Ropar were established in 2008. 2009 saw IIT Mandi and IIT indore coming into existence.

Six more IITs are upcoming. IIT Palakkad and IIT Tirupati were given go ahead in 2015 while IIT Bhilai, IIT Dharwad, IIT Goa and IIT Jammu in 2016. That makes for 23 IITs in India. When the already existing IITs, the old and new are facing huge manpower shortage, what will happen with the upcoming one. And what will happen to the quality of talent coming out of these otherwise quality institutions.



The article originally appeared on India Today.

It can happen only in Pakistan, the terror factory of the world. Its army, that virtually rules the country and in fact has directly ruled the country for most of its sovereign years, has claimed Pakistan is the best country in the world.

In browbeating its propaganda and agenda of making Pakistanis feel good, it went on to say that the mercy petition of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an innocent Indian whom the Pakistani propaganda has declared a spy and has sentenced to death, is in final stage and people of Pakistan will hear the ‘good news’ soon.

Pakistan claims Jadhav, who allegedly used the alias Hussein Mubarak Patel in Pakistan, was attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Pakistan arrested Jadhav in March 2016.
Any ‘good news’ here in this case means hanging of Kulbhushan Jadhav, a deplorable act by the coward rulers of a frustrated country that is increasingly becoming isolated by the world community because of its treachery and double-dealings.

So its army can boast of ‘good news’ – even if the International Court of Justice has stayed hanging of Kulbhushan Jadhav till any conclusion in the case. India has submitted its written pleadings in the ICJ while Pakistan will submit its reply by December 13. So, going by that measure, any ‘good news’ is not going to come in near future.

Its army can thump its chest of being the best country in the world, as its spokesperson claimed during a press briefing today, even if the US has declared it safe haven for terrorists multiple times, has stopped military assistance, openly calls it a country of double-dealings and is considering to withdraw the ‘US ally’ status of Pakistan.

The Pakistani army can brazenly lie about establishing peace in the country and wiping out every terror outfit as it claimed today, even if over 100 terror incidents have taken place this year only killing over 400 civilians and over 150 security forces personnel, the data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows. Even today, a suicide blast in a Balochistan shrine killed over a dozen and its aftermath is still unfolding.



In 1961, Kerala’s population was 1,68,75,199. The population of Uttar Pradesh was almost seven times of it, at 7,37,52,914.

From 1961 to 2011, while the population of UP went up to 19,98,12,341, almost three times of what it had in 1961, Kerala saw a balanced increase almost the same number that it had in 1961, to 3,34,06,061.

The why of it and the results of it reflect in various socioeconomic indicators of the two states.

While the literacy of Kerala went up to 94% from 48% in 1961, touching even 100% in pockets, UP is still way behind, from almost 15% in 1961 to 68% now. The huge population difference between Kerala and UP make this gap even more telling. Then quality of literacy is also a big issue here, reflecting in indicators like poverty and mortality rates.

In 1961, Kerala’s infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births) was 52 that has come down to 10 now. UP’s IMR in 1961 was 130 and is still 64. So, Kerala cut it to five times while UP could only halve it in the same period. And if we see, the gap between Kerala and UP has gone up. UP’s IMR in 1961 was 2.5 times of Kerala’s. In 2011, it is 6.5 times.

These are some of the pointers based on the historical comparison with the data set available. Even if we compare both the states on present day parameters, we find Kerala comfortable positioned than UP.

With majority of the Indian population living below the poverty line if we take the global benchmark of $1.9 a day, poverty is the most important indicator to assess the social and economical well being of both of the states.

Going by the findings of the Tendulkar Methodology to determine and define poverty in India, Kerala had its 7.1% population living below the poverty line in 2011-12 while the corresponding figure for UP stood at 29.4%. It means Kerala has just 23.40 lakh people living below the poverty line while UP is yet to uplift its 5.55 crore from the chasm of poverty and mind you, these figures are based on abysmally low Indian poverty line, Rs 27 in rural areas and Rs 32 in urban areas (by Tendulkar panel’s recommendations).

PS: I am a UP walla, a proud Banarasi.



The growing international pressure, it seems, has taken over Pakistan’s ruling corridors and it utter frustration, they are now resorting even to using derogatory words for India and its ruling dispensation that has successfully worked to isolate Pakistan on its terror track record.

We just saw a frustrated Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi terrorist during a television interview.

While answering a question about India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calling Pakistan a terror exporter nation at the United Nations General Assembly recently, Asif said it was in fact India that was ruled by a terrorist prime minister and a terrorist party.

On Geo News’ Capital Talk, Asif said the Indian prime minister had blood of Gujarati Muslims on his hands. He further went on to say that India was being ruled by a terrorist party, the RSS, and the BJP was its companion.

Link to the video clip on Geo News’ website:

Sushma’s address to the UNGA on September 23 in New York mentioned Pakistan multiple times linking it with terror and said that “Pakistan seemed only engaged in fighting India.” Sushma speech showed mirror to Pakistan for its double-dealings and treachery and held it responsible for the aborting the peace process between the two countries.

Clearly making a distinction between the two countries and showing Pakistan its real place, Sushma said Pakistan had become a hopeless case and it had nothing to offer to the world and indeed to its own people apart from terrorism.

The fact indeed is, Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists and uses terror as state policy tool. It exports terrorism not only to its neighbouring countries like India and Afghanistan but is also increasingly becoming isolated as a terror haven for groups like Al Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban who perpetrate terror globally.

US President Donald Trump has declared Pakistan a terror haven and has indicated that the US soon could end Pakistan’s US ally status. The BRICS that has China as a founding member also talked tough on terror clearly warning terror havens like Pakistan to crackdown on terrorists in its declaration issued last month.

It has created a sense of panic in Pakistan’s ruling circles, be it its civilian government or its military. Though they deny it, their contradicting responses confirm it.

A day after the BRICS Declaration, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir rejected it saying Pakistan had no terror safe havens, only to be contradicted by Khawaja Asif the next day who accepted presence of terror groups in Pakistan including India centric terror groups LeT and JeM and went on to say that his country must rein-in terror groups to avoid international embarrassment.

While Asif was trying to be straightforward, his country’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa chose to warn the US, “if Pakistan had not done enough in the war against terror, then no country in the world had done anything.” Pakistan’s parliament has also taken on its foreign minister and prime minister for letting the country down after Asif repeated the same arguments on the sidelines of the UNGA and the Pakistani PM endorsed it.

PS: We should also not forget that it was Khawaja Asif only who used to nuke India every other before surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in last September and its first anniversary just passed on September 29.

Before September 2016’s surgical strike, the favourite line of Khawaja Asif happened to be that Pakistan will eliminate India with its tactical nuclear weapons if it tried to impose war on Pakistan.

The same Khawaja Asif, after the surgical strike on the intervening night of September 28-29, was stuttering while accepting that there was an aggression by India and ‘if India tries it again, Pakistan will give befitting reply’ (and not that ‘Pakistan will nuke and eliminate India), before toeing the line of Pakistan’s army. He had gone on to say even this that ‘India and Pakistan cannot take risk of a nuclear holocaust’.