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Yamini Aiyar
Articles by Yamini Aiyar

The budget does not address the crisis of demand | Opinion

The FM made a good faith attempt to present her vision. But the budget lacked a diagnosis of what is wrong, a prescription to address it, and made baffling choices

The decline in consumption demand, especially in rural India, is a matter of pressing concern. But the budget may have made the problem worse with cuts in allocation. Instead, it should have streamlined public finance management systems and re-prioritised expenditure(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Feb 01, 2020 10:24 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Indians are reclaiming, and redefining, the idea of secularism | Opinion

What it means for Indians to be secular in everyday life has emerged with renewed vigour

Rather than dismissing and wishing away the assertion of religious identity, understand it as a part of India’s conversation with secularism and definition of its practice(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 17, 2020 08:43 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

The assertion of Indian federalism gives hope

States are taking a stand against the BJP’s majoritarian push. Will they succeed?

Left Front parties and Congress workers participate in a joint protest rally against CAA, NRC and NPR, Kolkata, December 27, 2019(PTI)
Published on Jan 01, 2020 07:31 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

In defence of Indian secularism

When it is threatened, multiple identities are threatened. That is the lesson from the protests

The real challenge to the CAA-NRC is that protestors are bereft of a vocabulary to defend secularism(PTI)
Published on Dec 17, 2019 06:01 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

HTLS 2019: Administrative reforms vital for 21st century State

Over the next few decades, India will need to confront head on the consequences of unequal growth, rapid urbanisation, climate change and technological advancement.

People queue up for a Digital Ration Card form in Kolkata. The West Bengal government began digitising ration cards in September.(Samir Jana/HT Archive)
Updated on Nov 27, 2019 02:03 PM IST
New Delhi | ByYamini Aiyar

Reviving faith in India’s statistics

Transparency of data is essential both for good governance and the health of democracy

It is time to give statutory status to the National Statistical Commission(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Nov 20, 2019 07:18 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

The citizenship bill must be opposed

Secularism must be defended. But the political Opposition lacks courage, conviction, legitimacy

By explicitly excluding Muslims from its ambit, the citizenship amendment bill violates Article 14 and undermines secularism(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 31, 2019 07:05 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

MGNREGA can revive Rural India | Opinion

The scheme needs a higher budget. Finance it by rationalising the regressive subsidy regime

An improved MGNREGA can serve as the vehicle for delivering a rural stimulus(Hindustan Times)
Updated on Oct 15, 2019 08:17 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

The missing link in India’s governance

Both the ease of living and ease of business are laudable goals. But bridging the two is essential

India needs to leverage welfare gains to enable productive economic participation of the poor in the economy(REUTERS)
Updated on Sep 25, 2019 11:06 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Remaking the idea of an Indian citizen

The Constitution promises religion-neutral citizenship. NRC and its fallout could upend that

Bureaucratic failure and corruption have resulted in the government viewing its own documents with suspicion(AP)
Updated on Sep 03, 2019 06:39 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

India’s journey towards centralisation | Opinion

Federalism has been posited as antithetical to development. This bodes ill for democracy

The silencing of voices of those affected by the unprecedented move mark a rupture in India’s federal trajectory(AFP)
Updated on Aug 11, 2019 07:20 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Why the RTI amendments must be opposed

As institutional mediators between citizens, their right to information and the State, it is the information commissions who shape norms (and limits) of transparency.

Since its passage in 2005, the RTI has been enthusiastically used by citizens. By one estimate, nearly six million citizens use the RTI annually. And this may come as a surprise to many readers, but governments respond to applications.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Published on Jul 26, 2019 09:12 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Union Budget: A lost opportunity

With its historic mandate, and ambitious targets, the government could have embarked on structural reforms. But Narendra Modi has yet again opted for an incrementalist approach.

The critical issues facing agriculture are well-known. The Union Budget fails to address them(Hindustan Times)
Published on Jul 05, 2019 10:03 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Keep the Centre-state channel open

Even as state governments complained about the centralising nature of the Planning Commission, the commission provided an institutional platform through which states could dialogue (and complain) with the Centre. The challenge for the new Modi government will lie in creating a renewed institutional space for political deliberation and negotiation of Centre-state relations

The fifth meeting of the governing council of the NITI Aayog, New Delhi, June 15. The primary fault line in India’s fiscal federal architecture is this: the fiscal centralisation, necessary for poorer states, has in fact benefited richer states. Negotiating this fault line will require radical reforms in the design of central schemes(PTI)
Updated on Jul 02, 2019 08:16 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

The Congress must realise it can’t fight an ideological battle through policy

The real challenge for the Congress is its unwillingness to be courageous and articulate an ideological counterpoint to the BJP’s hegemony. And without this alternative, the BJPs hegemony is going to continue, unchallenged.

An Indian National Congress party rally, Bandanwara, Rajasthan, April 25, 2019(AFP)
Updated on May 25, 2019 07:12 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Reclaim the concept of secularism

The Congress, once the custodian of secularism, has pushed it to the margins of political discourse

The coarsening of debate in the campaign is an extension of what has become the new normal in public debate in India. Aided in no small measure by the new modes of communication that social media allows, the space for careful argumentation and reasoning has shrunk giving way to an increasingly partisan endorsement of ideas(PARWAZ KHAN/HINDUSTAN TIMES)
Updated on May 13, 2019 10:06 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Can lateral entrants save the day?

A babu-mukt Bharat requires deep structural changes not mere lateral entrants.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, chances are that lateral entry will be a priority for civil service reforms going forward. It is thus important to question and examine the proposal’s potential.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 24, 2019 10:30 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Planning Commission 2.0: A political challenge

Any attempt to reform or create a new body will need to curb Delhi’s tendency to centralise power.

Rahul Gandhi’s statement that he will replace Niti Aayog with a lean Planning Commission serves as a reminder that the Aayog has failed to live up to its promise(HT)
Updated on Apr 03, 2019 01:35 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

India’s data-driven governance regime is not foolproof

It serves as a reminder of the dangers and vulnerabilities of data when they are deployed without adequate investments in quality, objectivity and credibility. This is now a challenge for the new government.

Economists Abhijit Banerji and Shrayana Bhattacharya in a recent article note the existence of as many as 400 MIS systems for monitoring the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes, a number far beyond what most middle income countries report. Technology has also enabled administrative data to become increasingly more sophisticated.(HT PHOTO)
Updated on Mar 27, 2019 06:20 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Is the new pension scheme a case of old wine in a new bottle?

The Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana is yet another scheme with inbuilt flaws

To deliver pensions, India needs a clear vision, strategy and institutional architecture(HT)
Updated on Mar 08, 2019 09:24 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

The welfare debate must go beyond corruption

The most damaging consequence of the focus on corruption is that it has legitimised the view that the only way to fix India’s broken welfare system is by curbing discretion and tightening scrutiny

The focus on corruption has served to deeply centralise the welfare bureaucracy at the cost of building a local government system that is genuinely responsive to citizen needs.(Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)
Updated on Feb 20, 2019 11:02 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

OPINION | The budget has exposed the NDA government’s nervousness

Fiscal prudence has been compromised in favour of pleasing every conceivable vote bank the NDA can appeal to

The showstopper of this 2019 budget is the PM-Kisan Scheme (PMKS): a <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>6,000 per year direct income transfer for small and marginal farmers with a budgetary allocation of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>75,000 crore(PTI)
Updated on Feb 02, 2019 08:30 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Opinion | The limits of single-party majorities

The Opposition’s mahagathbandhan can only be a viable proposition if it offers an alternative politics.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Opposition leaders at the Trinamool Congress-led 'United India' rally, Kolkata, January 19, 2019.(ANI)
Updated on Jan 29, 2019 07:48 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

What 2018 taught us about how not to reform the Indian State

As India heads to the polls, 2019 is likely to witness renewed promises, across party lines, of “maximum governance”. But achieving this goal will require the new government to resist the impulse for seeking quick fixes and confront head on the limitations of the current reform imagination.

India has historically been a centralised State. But the early rhetoric adopted by the Modi government of co-operative federalism and the adoption of the 14th Finance Commission indicated the possibility of a new phase of decentralisation. In 2018, however, the pendulum slowly swung back toward centralisation.(HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 09, 2019 07:31 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

India’s challenges need visionary leadership to break political interests

Building a 21st century state requires visionary political leadership that challenges entrenched political interests and pushes policy imagination beyond business as usual

The changing, impatient Indian voter affords a unique opportunity for our polity to forge a new development discourse for India(PTI)
Published on Dec 26, 2018 10:04 AM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

India needs a renewed debate on federalism

In these last four years, the BJP has actively sought to use its dominance in Delhi to re-centralise political discourse and re-assert New Delhi’s power.

Under the Modi government however, federalism has been challenged not just through the misuse of constitutional offices but also by a subtle brand of administrative governance by the Centre, which risks undermining state autonomy.(Hindustan Times)
Updated on Nov 28, 2018 06:06 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

Let’s shift towards a new politics of welfare

If the current election rhetoric is anything to go by, our politicians have failed to recognise the potential for change

People queue outside a polling station to vote during the first phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly elections at Sukma district, November 12.(HT Photo)
Updated on Nov 15, 2018 01:06 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

What has India achieved by rejecting the Human Capital Index?

Rather than acknowledge reality and raise questions that elevate the debate on how to develop and measure human capital, the government’s summary rejection has exposed its own small-mindedness and lack of political imagination

Rather than acknowledge reality and raise questions that elevate the debate on how to develop and measure human capital, the government’s summary rejection has exposed its own small-mindedness and lack of political imagination(REUTERS)
Published on Oct 24, 2018 02:41 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

How to strengthen India’s frontline bureaucracy

A concerted effort will need to be made for building institutional spaces that break down hierarchies and encourage participation across the political and bureaucratic hierarchy. The PM certainly has the rhetorical skills to initiate this change. What’s missing is the will and vision.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with the ASHA, Anganwadi and ANM workers from all over the country through video conference, New Delhi, September 11, 2018(PTI)
Updated on Oct 11, 2018 12:37 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar

There are no short cuts to building State capacity

Fixing India’s broken welfare system is about investing in the people that make the State. As the Aadhaar debate rages on, this must not be forgotten.

Aadhaar is designed to address the problem of false identity or ghost beneficiaries. But, as activists and researchers have repeatedly pointed out, ghost beneficiaries are not the only form of corruption(Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
Updated on Oct 05, 2018 03:20 PM IST
ByYamini Aiyar
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