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Showing posts from August, 2012

The karmayogi device unplugged

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By Rajiv Shah
Early this week, one of the senior-most state bureaucrats in Gandhinagar Sachivalaya was suddenly summoned by Gujarat chief secretary AK Joti for an urgent meeting on scarcity conditions prevailing in the state. Sitting in his chamber, I innocently wondered whether there was any urgency. Ruefully, this bureaucrat, who would make tall claims for being “close” to chief minister Narendra Modi, angrily told me, before moving out of the room, “This will be another long meeting without substance. The entire district-level administration has collapsed. Everyone is busy with Modi’s melas and yatras, which he has been undertaking across Gujarat with an eye on December assembly elections. Nobody has time for anything else, least of all for helping people suffering from scarcity conditions. Be it district collector or district development officer, mamlatdar or taluka development officer, or even the village talati, all speak nothing but melas and yatras. Very few have any idea of t…

Gujarat's 'skewed' land liberalization

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By Rajiv Shah
I have in my hand one of the latest books on Hindu nationalism and Gujarat, which on cursory glance would appear to be the examination of a subject, many would allege, has become quite hackneyed. I also thought so till I decided to scan it from page to page. Authored by Nikita Sud, a University of Oxford scholar, and titled "Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and the State: A Biography of Gujarat", what impressed me particularly was the book's couple of chapters on how the state, over the years, has sought to consistently promote land liberalization, irrespective of the political class, and how this liberalization has become the cornerstone of the protagonists of market-based development, seeking to encourage entrepreneurs wanting to put up shop in Gujarat as a "preferred" destinations.
Sud came down to Gandhinagar from London, where she is based, about a couple of years ago, when she was in the process of preparing the book. Daughter of a retired …