“NIC in the eye of a storm”, Mint, 14 October, suffers from partisanship and lack of objectivity. You state that “…violence in states such as Orissa and Karnataka is communal in intent and origin; on the other hand, all terrorist episodes point to the involvement of some misguided members of a minority community”. While, on the one hand, you forgot to mention non-BJP/UPA-ruled states such as Assam, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh where communal violence has taken place, on the other hand, you are more than appeasing in calling jihadi terrorists “some misguided members of a minority community”. Is it, therefore, any surprise that NIC failed to achieve anything substantial for the reason that, just like you, it refused to call a spade a spade?
— Anant Gupta
Christopher Butel, in his article “Why Indian banks are immune to the US disease”, Mint, 18 October, has correctly analysed why Indian banks are immune to the malaise that afflicts the US financial sector. I think there are two more reasons for this, in addition to what he has written.
For one, the black money component (not financed by banks at all) is around 40-60% of the actual home value, and comes totally from owner’s equity/family and is, usually, a once-for-lifetime investment in 80% of the cases. This is possible only after years of saving and hardship.
Owning a home is a dream for almost all Indians. This dream, once it is made real, should not be broken.
Two, home ownership has a strong emotional component in India. Once a person acquires a home, he will try his best not to give it away. As a result, defaults on this count are likely to be low. In my estimate, this is still true in about 65% of the cases.
So, the owner’s equity — emotional as well as economic — in homes is very high vis-a-vis the loan value of the houses constructed by builders. Regulators know these facts well.
— Rakesh Chopra
There are some points that I wish to highlight about your interesting and comprehensive report, “Will a resentful middle class define electoral outcomes?”, Mint, 17 October.
It is true that a discontented middle class isn’t good news for politicians. It is also true that this class is more critical of the government than either the poor or the rich. It is the class that drives the economy and forms a big chunk of the consumer base. While its members vote with their purses in shopping malls, they are too lethargic to go to the polling booth to cast their votes. Its proverbial apathy in the past had produced election results vastly different from the wishes of the majority of its constituents.
In fact, some political parties have ignored the middle class on tactical grounds and have concentrated on capturing the votes of the poorer classes by showering pre-election gifts on them.
Middle-class ranks are naturally expanding in tandem with the economic progress in the country in the last two decades. But the past experience of middle-class voting apathy continues to be enigmatic. Possibly, the conduct of political parties is partially responsible for this state of affairs because they never lent their ears to the woes of the middle class.
Delimitation of constituencies, something that your report touches upon, may play a crucial part in election results depending on the demographic composition that it may have brought about.
This will be tested for the first time in the forthcoming elections.
Electoral arithmetic is a slippery factor. But the present dangers of uncontrolled inflation, glaring and pronounced inadequacies in governance and terrorism will be uppermost in the minds of the poor and the middle class.
— S. Subramanyan