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TK Arun is a Senior Journalist and Columnist based in Delhi.

Political Roots of the Budget’s Sobriety

How come the government has shown sober responsibility rather than wanton populism in the last full Budget available to it before the 2024 General Election? We see many pundits struggle with this puzzle on television and in newspaper columns and either remain puzzled or conclude that this government stands tall, beyond the temptations of expedience to which ordinary mortals are prone.

Hindenburg’s bet against Adani

Few can vouch for the veracity or otherwise of Hindenburg’s research that raises serious allegations of wrongdoing against the Adani group. The present author certainly cannot. These charges could be accurate to varying degrees but that does not put Gautam Adani in the company of fly-by-night operators or the likes of arms brokers and others who profit purely from government patronage. Adani is a first-generation entrepreneur who has dreamed big, executed with excellence and has built chunks of the Indian economy’s essential infrastructure, whether ports, power plants, grain storage or renewable energy.

Budget 2023- 24: Pro-Growth and CAPEX Conundrum

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has come up with a Budget that did not deserve a thumbs down from the Nifty, which ended the day’s trading 0.26% lower. This was more on account of the troubles of the Adani Group and, by association, of public sector banks with exposure to the group.

The big boost to capital expenditure — including grants in aid of capex; the increase in capex is Rs 3.2 lakh crore, to Rs 13.7 lakh crore — is welcome and suggests that the Budget is pro-growth. That pro-growth glow loses some sheen when we take into account the total size of the Budget. It has come down from 16% of GDP in 2021-22 to 15.3% in 2022-23 and is slated to fall further to 14.9% next fiscal year. This reflects the longstanding inability of the system to significantly increase the share of taxes in GDP — the only way to raise total expenditure is to borrow, which means that fiscal correction also brings down the size of total spending.

India’s Economic Survey Omissions: Identifying Constraints and Making Recommendations

Telling the truth to power is, of course, the job of journalists. But it used to be the case that the pre-Budget Economic Survey took pains to highlight challenges (near-term and structural) that policy and Budget outlay need to address.

This year’s Survey has the unique distinction of brushing off two traditional responsibilities of the Survey: identifying constraints and making recommendations. Instead, it sings an erudite paean to India’s economic management over the last eight years and projects continued growth, even if the world economy slows down.

Budget 2023- 24: The Case to Build New Cities

By 2051, India may have an additional 335 million urban population. Several new cities will be needed to settle them.

ndia needs more than a pat on the back from fiscal-deficit-focused rating agencies and analysts, in order to regain economic vigour in a slowing world. A whole lot more. India needs a new New Deal, and, in the present national and global context, that would mean investing in a large project that creates demand for material and machines produced in India and for lots of labour, both skilled and unskilled, while adding to India’s future productive capacity. Building a new city is a good choice.