Manish Sabharwal rightly emphasizes quantity over quality,but this concept is not restricted to education alone (“Taking on the education Nazis”, 26 May). In World War II, the real Nazis were proud of their superior quality in men and material, whereas the Soviets concentrated on quantity and eventually won. A Soviet general famously said, “quantity is also a quality”, and one can see this in the ubiquitous AK-47, the weapon of choice for all guerilla movements. Nearer home, this approach is at work in the all-pervasive cellphone and cable TV: both models of the private sector. This philosophy should be applied without delay at the primary school level; by the end of the present government’s tenure, there should be no illiterate children of the relevant age group.
— Chudamani Ratnam
The answer to whether the United Progressive Alliance government will let markets determine local oil prices is a decisive no (“The next oil shock for India”, 27 May). It is not the first time that the government has harped on a complete phase-out of subsidies and a shift to a market-determined system, and also not the first time that we have not seen this happen.
One of the primary reasons that good economics is not equivalent to good politics in India is that the vast majority of the population has been left out of the purview of the market and has become far too dependent on government subsidies to even fathom an alternative to it.
Oil, being a basic commodity that enters the input cost of almost every other commodity, is a topic of nationwide interest. Therefore, high oil prices are bound to raise inflation as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and have a spillover effect on all other commodities.
The oil subsidy regime will, as in the case of fertilizers, lead to inefficiency in use. With the government acting as a price regulator even in the case of Reliance’s D-6 oil exploration block, it acts as a deterrent for private enterprises to undertake such heavy investments only to have their output priced far below market price, and be faced with delays in the disbursement of the subsidy from the government’s side.
Having said that, however, a complete decontrol may not be recommended at this stage, given that oil constitutes 70% of India’s import bill. Hence, stepping up production is not entirely in the hands of the Indian government, since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) is the final authority that decides the price and output.
— Tanya Sethi
I do not fully subscribe to Jayati Ghosh’s views in “A case against market reforms” (27 May). Reforms or no reforms, welfare measures are needed to safeguard the interests of people and more particularly those below the poverty line.
However, the government should keep in mind the burgeoning fiscal deficit and maintain a balance between growth and welfare measures. Hence, the government cannot completely dispense with the reform process, as the same is needed for creating employment opportunities and also to facilitate more foreign investment to become more competitive.
The high bids for eventual underperformers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions are one of its few imperfections (“Looking back at IPL 2009”, 26 May). It is akin to an investor buying a stock based purely on past performance.
Yet, that these prices are eventually passed on by the sponsors to Indian consumers is a strong reflection of the resilience of the Indian economy.
While the world struggles its way through the downturn, it is India that can afford to pay for some of the most expensive professional sportsmen in the world.
— Anand Shanbhag