Harsh V. Pant hit the nail on the head with his correct analysis of the Narasimha Rao years (“Give Narasimha Rao his due”, Mint, 16 December).
Almost all the present-day policies, whether pertaining to external affairs, finance or even security, were initiated by the P.V. Narasimha Rao government. Earlier governments only limited themselves to friendship with the Soviet Union and did not think beyond that country. Rao had a vision much beyond that on all aspects. But those who believe in the “dynasty” will never give him his due. The Babri mosque case was the brainchild of Rajiv Gandhi who organized the shila nyaas. And yet people ignore the facts and are ready to dump Rao. What a pity for the country.
The apocalyptic scenario you outline for London (“A tax whiplash for London”, Mint, 16 December), is far from the situation we are experiencing here.
A presence in London brings unrivalled benefits to both established and growing companies, and these won’t disappear overnight: It allows access to large pools of capital, talent and accounting and legal services. Our time zone means in a normal working day, a trader can tap into Asian, European and US markets, not to mention the cultural and linguistic benefits and the fact that a worker of any creed or colour will be welcomed here. Even those companies which have moved abroad in an effort to reduce their tax bills have retained their listing in London because they value the importance of being close to London’s institutional investor base.
Of course there are concerns that a harsher tax environment could drive some of the 250 or so overseas banks based here away, and we cannot afford to be complacent. We also recognize the growing importance of Asian financial centres like Singapore and Mumbai which is why we work so closely with them, but London is still a leading destination for the world’s best financial services companies to do business and will, I believe, remain so.
—Stuart Fraser, chairman, policy and resources committee, City of London
Your article (“The poverty estimates debate”, Mint, 14 December) does tell what the new methodology has moved away from, but not much about what has replaced the calorie norms. As you say, there would no doubt be debate(s) about appropriateness of the new methodology—but the unfortunate part is what you have mentioned about the debate being influenced by the ideological divide. If a methodology were to be judged by where it pegs the poverty levels, it would be unfortunate indeed. The right way would be to judge the methodology on its merits first, and only then look at the results. The importance attached to actual estimates, flowing from the stakes involved, vitiates the exercise and the debate, too. For most of the time since India’s Independence, the government is being looked up to for providing solutions. This is a sure symptom of a very unhealthy society. In the process, what should have been emergency measures have become normal solutions.
Other than serving distributional issues regarding government “support” to various programmes, states, etc., poverty estimates over time do serve to tell us how we are faring as a society. This is an important function in itself. To fulfil that purpose, it would be appropriate that estimates are recalculated for all rounds using the new methodology. After all, with data already available, recalculation is not a Herculean task. Secondly, compiling distribution tables on economic indicators used for poverty estimates will provide more information and have at least a supplementary value.
—Naresh Kumar Sharma
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