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Mark Tully
Articles by Mark Tully

The contours of the Bengal battle

In this election, the BJP is hoping that its Hindu identity will trump Banerjee’s Bengali identity. To strengthen its bid for the Bengali Hindu vote, the BJP has accused her of cultivating a Muslim vote bank

The BJP has also tried to persuade Bengalis that joining the mainstream will revive investment in Kolkata and its hinterland, once known as the workshop of India (AP)
Published on Apr 24, 2021 08:26 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The economic rationale of bank nationalisation

A better solution than privatisation may well be giving PSBs autonomy to reform themselves and function free of political interference. Remember, most East Asian success stories have been underpinned by financial systems effectively controlled by governments, and in the West, governments have had to rescue private banks from bankruptcy. India should think through its approach to public banks.

It’s not surprising that the nationalisation of 14 banks in 1969 has generally been seen as a politically-motivated decision. At the time, PN Haksar was secretary in the prime minister’s secretariat. He was, in the words of his biographer Jairam Ramesh, “Indira Gandhi’s ideological compass and moral beacon”. She was then fighting a running battle with the Syndicate, a group of veteran leaders who had earlier chosen her to be prime minister, and with her rival, Morarji Desai. (HTPHOTO)
Updated on Apr 10, 2021 03:40 PM IST
ByMark Tully

For migrant workers, a year of suffering

Why is manufacturing so heavily dependent on exploited labourers, who are effectively bonded workers? There are laws regulating the employment of migrant workers but they are not enforced.

Migrant workers walking towards Farrukhabad and Sultanpur pause during a sudden dust storm, Ghaziabad, May 10, 2020. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
Published on Mar 27, 2021 02:10 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The Pope sends out a message of fraternity

During the Iraq visit, the Pope’s call for fraternity was appreciated by Muslim leaders. Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, the Sunni Grand Imam of al-Azhar University, tweeted, “I hope his trip achieves the desired outcome to continue on the path of human fraternity.”

Pope Francis, accompanied by the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Najib Michaeel Moussa, looks on at a square near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul, March 7, 2021 (AFP)
Published on Mar 13, 2021 06:20 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Securing India’s international image

India is described as a flawed democracy in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. It has slipped from 27 in the rankings in 2014 to 53 in 2020. But does the government care about this slippage or indeed should it care? Three recent events make me wonder.

Disha Ravi has now been granted bail. However, in his judgment granting bail, Judge Dhamender Rana said, “The offence of sedition cannot be involved to minister to the wounded vanity of governments.” The government must heed this warning. (REUTERS)
Published on Feb 27, 2021 08:09 PM IST
ByMark Tully

From the Himalayas, a warning for us

The 2021-22 Union Budget will increase the pressure on the government to ignore the concerns of nature. It is heavily focused on investments in infrastructure, especially roads and railways, which the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, hopes will revive Gross Domestic Product growth. This may be true. But these projects will, also, inevitably give rise to concerns about their environmental impact.

Rescue operations continue at Tapovan Tunnel, following the Sunday's glacier burst in Joshimath, Chamoli, Uttarakhand, February 10, 2021 (PTI)
Updated on Feb 14, 2021 06:48 AM IST
ByMark Tully

Budget 2021: Overcome poverty, battle inequality

It would be right to go back to socialism’s commitment to equality, and to reform India’s economy so that overcoming poverty once again becomes the top priority.

The Oxfam report on inequality included another surprising voice calling for global economics to change. The Financial Times is one of the world’s most influential economic and business newspapers. It is quoted in the report as calling for “radical reforms to reverse the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades”, the period dominated by neoliberal economics. (AP)
Updated on Jan 31, 2021 06:19 AM IST
ByMark Tully

Budget 2021: Balance economics with politics

With the budget just over two weeks away, economist after economist is calling on finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman to spend, spend and spend

When Sitharaman weighs up the short-term political consequences of following the advice she is receiving, I’m sure she will be aware of the longer-term political consequence of getting the arithmetic wrong (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 16, 2021 11:50 PM IST
ByMark Tully

A robust public broadcaster can guard against anti-vaccine rumours

There seems no reason to doubt that a large number of Indians are, to say the least, undiscriminating in the source of news they chose to watch. This will make them liable to fall prey to false information which can undermine the vaccination campaign.

A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine, Lima, December 9, 2020(AFP)
Published on Jan 02, 2021 07:02 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Parliament and the virtues of listening

The government is now paying the price for not hearing the concerns of the Opposition and farmers before rushing its three controversial agricultural bills through Parliament

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiling the plaque to lay the foundation stone of the New Parliament Building. The Opposition boycotted the ceremony because it claimed the government had not been willing to listen to its views on the project(ANI Photo)
Updated on Dec 19, 2020 09:11 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The possibilities and limits of solar energy

By concentrating so much on solar and wind energy, there is a risk of the government falling into the trap of thinking that we can rely on these alone to control the climate crisis. We can’t

Solar energy development also raises environmental issues(Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 05, 2020 08:44 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The three messages from Bihar’s verdict, writes Mark Tully

The results have resulted in three humiliations, all indications that opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s hardline Hindutva policy is crumbling.

It is sad to see a politician like Kumar, once so renowned for effective and honest governance that he was talked about as a potential prime minister, ending his career accepting humiliating subservience as a price for staying on in office(Santosh Kumar/ Hindustan Times)
Updated on Nov 21, 2020 09:19 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The degeneration of electoral democracy

Elections in both india and the united states have become focused on political personalities, not policies or parties

An electoral official marks a voter's finger with ink after casting her ballot during the last phase of Bihar state assembly elections at a polling station in Thakurganj, November 7, 2020(AFP)
Published on Nov 07, 2020 07:32 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Bangladesh: From a ‘basket case’ to a robust economy

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) projection that Bangladesh’s per capita income in dollar terms is likely to overtake India’s has focused attention on a nation that has risen like a Phoenix from the ashes.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York, 2018(REUTERS)
Published on Oct 24, 2020 07:22 PM IST
ByMark Tully

New FCRA rules: Small NGOs will be hit hard

On the issue of human rights, Amnesty’s standing is far higher than that of the Government of India

NGOs fill the gaps left by the inadequacies of the government, provide last-mile connectivity for the delivery of government schemes, promote handicrafts, research and innovate, encourage participation in development, teach awareness of the wider issues involved in target-based schemes such as beti bachao, beti padhao or the Swachh Bharat mission.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Oct 10, 2020 05:26 PM IST
ByMark Tully

India’s far from cooperative federalism, writes Mark Tully

There is a principle of European law known as subsidiarity. Under that principle, the European Union can only act if it can be shown that the action taken at that rarefied level would be more effective than action taken at the national or local level.

Members of various political parties stage a protest, demanding the clearance of states' GST dues, Parliament House, September 17, 2020(PTI)
Updated on Sep 27, 2020 06:48 AM IST
ByMark Tully

Pay heed to the voice of David Attenborough, writes Mark Tully

The world’s voice of nature delivered a message relevant to India’s past, present and future

Attenborough said it was up to us, the voters, to make it clear that we want politicians to act to avoid the major crisis he fears we are heading for, a crisis he said “which is not national, not international, but global and which the nations of the world must face together”.(AFP)
Updated on Sep 12, 2020 07:20 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The intellectual legacy of Charles Allen

In his prodigious output of 25 books Charles wrote about many disputed issues in Indian history some of which have political implications today

Although Charles Allen was no imperialist and was particularly critical of British racism inevitably, his view of the work of the Orientalists also challenged the schools of history, including Hindutva, which see no good in the British record(Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 30, 2020 09:14 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Why the State must promote religious tolerance

Who is to promote religious tolerance? Arvind Sharma ‘s reading of history has led him to conclude that it is only a slight exaggeration to say “the state of religious tolerance is determined by the State.”

Sharma also has an answer to those who argue that it takes two hands to clap, that, in the Indian case, Hindu tolerance has to be met by tolerance from Islam and Christianity(Deepak Gupta/ Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 15, 2020 07:31 PM IST
ByMark Tully

How self-confidence is key to becoming self-reliant, writes Mark Tully

To achieve self-sufficiency, India has to reform the bureaucracy and its politics. In managing its economy, India has to have the self-confidence to learn from other countries

Narendra Modi mentioned self-reliance no less than 17 times in a broadcast to the nation(PTI)
Updated on Aug 01, 2020 06:18 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Allowing communities to manage common assets | Opinion

In India, village common land is an example of an asset which is theoretically common property, and should be managed by the community, but all too often, is not

When common assets are not managed on a community basis of mutual trust, either the government or the market steps in to take them over (Representational image)(SHUTTERSTOCK)
Updated on Jul 18, 2020 08:30 PM IST
ByMark Tully

For a leader, there’s value in knowing the bad news, writes Mark Tully

There is still critical coverage of the government in the media. But it is instructive to see the ways in which the government exerts pressures on the media in an effort to keep organisations and their journalists in line.

It is the media’s job to bring bad news. The PM should take note of that news and act on it rather than try to suppress it. He should not shoot the messenger, he should listen to the message(Hindustan Times)
Updated on Jul 04, 2020 08:13 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Create opportunities for migrants back home

Many of the migrants who have returned are, in fact, craftspeople. Crafts provide the second-largest source of livelihood in India and are a source of employment even in the most remote parts of the country

Will the workers stay in their villages or will they return to the cities once the coronavirus pandemic is no longer an ever-present threat?(REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 06, 2020 07:33 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Put cash in the hands of people and businesses

In an interview, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was asked whether monetising the deficit to make more money available was being considered. She replied, “I have kept myself open. We will have to see how things develop.” So this policy change too is not ruled out. It will depend on how the Covid-19 virus spreads going forward.

The stimulus package also commits the PM to fulfil his ambition to open up space for private sector participation in all sectors(REUTERS)
Updated on May 23, 2020 10:22 PM IST
ByMark Tully

India’s migrant workers deserve better than this, writes Mark Tully

Why has the outcry against this suffering inflicted on men and women who are more than 90% of India’s workforce been so muted?

Migrant workers, dismissed by employers, enjoying no protection from their governments, often thrown out of their accommodation by their landlords, in urgent need of food transport and money, have been driven by desperation to walk home.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 09, 2020 07:17 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Relax fiscal norms and reform the bureaucracy, writes Mark Tully

India’s health and welfare services are inadequate. This is not just because the government’s expenditure on them is low. They are also hamstrung by the stifling bureaucracy that administers them.

The home ministry has ordered NGOs that receive foreign funds to report on their coronavirus-related activities every 15 days. Imagine the waste of time this involves for overstretched NGOs. Imagine the hassle they will face from nitpicking officials. The ministry’s intervention is typical of India’s stifling bureaucracy.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 25, 2020 06:38 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Communication is key in this war against the virus

Gone is Modi the bellicose orator we are so familiar with. Instead, he has become the humble father figure, pleading with folded hands for his people to practise strict social distancing

There’s no denying that the sudden decision to impose this lockdown has caused suffering, particularly to the poor. The prime minister has admitted this. There has been a heavy economic price to pay too. But, whatever Modi’s critics may say, his communication has persuaded millions of Indians to obey the lockdown, and it is the only way known so far of slowing the spread of the virus.(HTPhoto)
Published on Apr 11, 2020 10:37 PM IST
ByMark Tully

Covid-19: Time to rethink State-private sector ties

Those of us who can afford private sector medical care by bypassing government health services, and can hire guards to provide us security, often crib about the government. But we should think about what would happen if the government was not there to fall back on now.

Migrant workers walk back to their villages after the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown for three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak, March 27, 2020(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Mar 28, 2020 06:44 PM IST
ByMark Tully

The PM needs to listen to independent economists | Opinion

It does seem that the PM now chooses his advisers because they have agreed with him in the past. Isn’t there, therefore, a danger that they will feel obliged to read his mind before giving advice now, and that rather than being independent-minded, they will become committed?

When he first came to power, the PM did appear to listen to his economic advisors(REUTERS)
Updated on Mar 15, 2020 07:13 AM IST
ByMark Tully

Delhi riots: The police have lost their autonomy | Opinion

The most tragic outcome of the police handling of the protests has been the death of at least 42 people.

The most common punishment for the police who don’t bow to political pressure is suspension or transfer(AFP)
Updated on Mar 01, 2020 08:48 AM IST
ByMark Tully
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