Illustration by Gaurav Sood


Ensuring democracy

Reform of Parliament
Subhash C. Kashyap

Parties in disarray
Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Judicial independence
Fali S. Nariman

Responsive governance
N. N. Vohra

Fighting corruption
N. Vittal

Criminalisation of politics
B.G. Verghese

Strategic vision
K. Subrahmanyam

India’s global role
M.K. Rasgotra

Neighbours and friends
S.D. Muni

Economic roadmap
Pranjoy Guha Thakurta

Energy for progress
S. K. Sharma

New agriculture
S. S. Johl

Save the cities

Water use and waste
Ramaswamy R. Iyer

Science in the 21st century
R. A. Mashelkar

Lessons in education
K. N. Pathak

Empowering women
Mrinal Pande

Problem of numbers
Ashish Bose

How to protect environment
Darryl D’Monte

Health of the nation
Usha Rai

Ensuring quality of democracy
H.K. Dua

Fairly at the beginning of the 21st century, India is trying to emerge as a major player on the world scene. If all goes well, it may succeed in its effort in a couple of decades. What gives it confidence are the aims the country set before itself during the freedom struggle and soon after Independence and its experiments with nation-building during the last 58 years.

Parliament, reform thyself
Subhash C. Kashyap
Representative democracy and parliamentary institutions have endured in India for five decades and more. It is a great tribute to their strength and resilience. To say that Parliament of India is not effective would be a gross overstatement. Bashing Parliament and parliamentarians has become a fashion with self-proclaimed intellectuals.


Tackle disarray, factionalism
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
There is a currently fashionable view that India’s diversity will necessarily entail a large number of political parties. In this view, a two- party system is a product of peculiar historical circumstances that may not be applicable to India. Rather than lament the fact that we do not correspond to a classic two-party model, we should recognise the fact that India’s diversity will entail a party system that is truly its own.


Protect integrity, independence
Fali S. Nariman
ARMED with a written Constitution our proud boast in India is that we are a nation governed by laws, and not by men. But this is only true in theory: the law is ultimately what the judges of the final court say it is. The reach of India’s highest court is all-pervasive. The Supreme Court sits in final judgment over the decisions not only of the high courts in the states (there are 18 high courts for 28 states and Union Territories), but also tribunals, (Central and State) functioning throughout India; there are literally hundreds of them.


Make the system responsive
N.N. Vohra
British ruled India to further their imperial interests. They left behind a seriously impoverished economy — a feudal agrarian sector and a fragile industrial base which contributed to large-scale unemployment, abysmally low incomes, widespread poverty and illiteracy.


Moral values must prevail
N. Vittal
World Bank defines corruption as use of public office for private profit. When the world was divided between the two superpowers and the Cold War was on, the World Bank did not focus on the issue of corruption as a significant issue. The reason is obvious. So long as the Cold War prevailed, what mattered was the ideological orientation of the country receiving the aid. It used to be said by the superpowers, "We know that so and so is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch".

Keep them out of public life
B.G. Verghese
boasts of being the world’s largest democracy. With the passage of the 73rd and 74th Amendments on Panchayati Raj, it can make the further claim of being the most representative one, with over three million grassroot legislators being elected, a third of them women. The country has of course a strong democratic tradition of electoral politics and the Election Commission has won plaudits, both at home and abroad.

Wanted leaders with vision
K. Subrahmanyam
to popular opinion, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War with the signing of the Paris Agreement on November 19, 1990, did not transform the world from a bipolar to a unipolar system. As was argued by Dr Henry Kissinger in his book Diplomacy that unprecedented event led to the emergence of a polycentric world with the US, a Germany-dominated European Union, China, Japan and Russia as players in a balance of power system.

New India’s global role
M.K. Rasgotra
the end of the Cold War, the world order has been in a state of dynamic transition. With unprecedented military, economic and technological preponderance, the US dominates the scene. Europe is reunited, at peace and engaged in consolidating its political unity and economic integration. NATO, a remnant of the old order, without a security role in Europe, has found something to do in the heart of Asia in Afghanistan.

Win their awe and affection
S.D. Muni
NDIA’S neighbourhood is on the boil. Pakistan is struggling to resolve its self-imposed dilemma of balancing politically aroused religious extremism and calls for domestic stability and international civility. Bangladesh seems all set to follow the Pakistani model if the series of bomb blasts all over the country last month were any indication.

Ending poverty still a goal
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
most commonly used clich about India is that this is a country of crazy contrasts. The one generalisation, it is said, that can be made about India is that no generalisation is possible about this subcontinent of over a billion people. The world’s second most populous nation-state is very rich and very poor; it is extremely educated and extremely ignorant.

Take a holistic approach
S.K. Sharma
is the prime mover of economic growth and human development. It encompasses all sectors of the economy and every section of society. There is a direct correlation between gross domestic product (GDP) and energy consumption. It has been estimated that 26 tons of oil equivalent is required for a GDP of one million rupees.

Sow right for a rich harvest
S.S. Johl
commercially viable business enterprise must grow and expand in size and scale. Though the Indian agriculture sector has a vast potential for growth, yet it seems to be suffering from irrational exploitation of natural resources, technology fatigue and policy indifference that is creating several kinds of bottlenecks and anomalies that are hindering its growth and development with equity.

Save cities from collapse
could be stated with a fair degree of certainty that the world of the 21st century would be an urban world. Between 1950 and 1990, the cities grew more than twice as fast as villages. The last decade, 1990-2000, saw an increase of about 83 per cent in the world urban population, and the cities have added, on an average, about 81 million people annually.

Strive for sustained supply
Ramaswamy R. Iyer
water scene in this country is profoundly disquieting. The one positive aspect that we can think of is the contribution that irrigation undoubtedly made to the Green Revolution. We can regard that as a success story, ignoring the many qualifications that need to be made. However, there is not much more to be said on the positive side.

Case for dangerous optimism
Dr. R. A. Mashelkar
tasks ahead of us will be decided essentially by the future of the India that we foresee in 20 years. It is important to envisage a future for the India of 2025. It must be realised, however, that visualising the future could be a very hazardous task. Twentyfive years ago, there was no WTO, no European Union, no AIDS, no laptop, no Internet, no mobile phone, and so on.

Time for overhaul
K.N. Pathak
HE overall growth and development of the country during the pre-Independence period, as we are all aware, had been not only unsatisfactory but also discriminatory. With this experience in mind, our planners thought it fit to adopt the approach of planned development of the country as a whole.

Make them partners in progress
Mrinal Pande
upon a time, 50-odd years ago, we Indians gave ourselves a Constitution. It is one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, and guarantees equal rights to men and women, including the right to vote, to own property, to move about freely within the country and to earn a living.

No push-button solutions
Ashish Bose
Malthus to Manmohan Singh (via Marx) is a long march. It is no more politically correct to talk of "population explosion". Instead, one talks of "demographic bonus" and the emergence of India as a world economic power in a matter of decades. What about population stabilisation, a much-cherished goal set out in all Five Year Plans, from the First (1951-56) to the Tenth (2000-2007)?

Stop overloading atmosphere
Darryl D’Monte
is no question that environmental issues are taking a back seat in the country these days — a far cry from the build-up to the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and for a few years later, when "green was beautiful". Today, most environmentalists will find it difficult to recollect who the Union Environment Minister is, in sharp contrast to spirited advocates like Kamal Nath and Maneka Gandhi in those good old days, along with secretaries like the formidable T.N. Seshan.

Majority remains in poor health
Usha Rai
any glossy magazine today and there are wonderful stories on fitness clinics—men and women on treadmills, diets and recipes galore to keep the hard worked corporate executives fitting fit, brain ticking on fruit juices and protein-high nuts, nutritious salads and cold cuts. Health tourism and medical tourism are the buzzwords as patients in search of specialised surgeries and healthcare troop into the country.