The Airtel-Aadhaar Fix C. P. Chandrasekhar

Despite its clear violation of the law, telecom major Airtel appears to have been let off lightly by the government. And that story, though reported, has neither led to adequate punishment nor has it received the extent of media attention it deserves. The story is that Airtel used its position as a dominant mobile services provider to strengthen its new role as a “payments bank” by exploiting a loophole in a system created through the decisions of multiple agencies. The company not only opened a large number of payments bank accounts in the names of its mobile subscribers without their…

The Obscenity of Hunger Deaths Jayati Ghosh

There is no doubt that human life is cheap in India, perhaps more so now than ever before. The attacks, atrocities and killings of people from minorities and marginalised groups that have now become so common are particularly appalling because they reflect a culture of impunity. Indeed, the lack of punishment does more than embolden the perpetrators and those who would imitate them: it also points to a deadening of sensibilities not just among those in power but in society as a whole. The murder of innocents is no longer even a cause for much outrage; the horrifying proliferation of…

The Golden “Diwali Gift” Jayati Ghosh

The Modi government made its supposed determination to end corruption in India its signature theme. The massive damage done by demonetisation as well as the continuing chaos produced by the flawed introduction of the Goods and Services Tax have all been justified on the grounds of reducing possibilities of corruption and tax avoidance. Similarly, the imposition of Aadhaar requirements on the population for access to all manner of publicly provided goods and services is regularly justified on the grounds of reducing “leakages” and misappropriation of benefits. The Prime Minister has sought to burnish his image of anti-corruption crusader through emotional…