By Pradeep S Mehta and Kshitiz sharma

    Indian civil society organisations are active in Sub Saharan Africa sharing their expertise and experience as models from a fellow developing country. This engagement is based on a tripod, firstly the development realities and issues faced by both the regions are quite similar, secondly, there is a larger strategic interest of the Indian government and Indian businesses to engage with Africa for natural resources and growing markets, and thirdly English speaking Anglophone countries in Africa enable easy operations for Indian CSOs. Use of ICT tools and cheaper international travel has also added to the growing cooperation among CSOs in the two regions.

    India is seen as a progressive democracy and role model in Africa.MEA`s partnership with the Indian civil society to deliver foreign policy programmes through DPA is a refreshing model which will enhance India`s image. This approach will also help to simplify the foreign policy for domestic constituents who have become increasingly interested in it since Prime Minister Modi`s engagement with the international community.

    A partnership approach between the governments and civil society in India and Africa can deliver high social impacts for the countries in Africa and establish India as a partner of choice. Synergising efforts with African civil society to strive for common goals will result in robust and forward looking partnership between India and Africa, the continent of hope More…

    Economic Times, October 29, 2015


  • Neutral Net: A gate-pass to the global society

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Noam Chomsky, a famous leftist American philosopher, once said: “The Internet could be a very positive step towards education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society.” This stands true in the current scenario, where the Internet has moulded the world into a global society, truncated distances and enabled thought sharing beyond boundaries. Also acting as an educational hub, the Internet has helped providing solutions in seconds, which earlier used to take hours of search in libraries. There is no denying that the Internet has now turned into what Bill Gates once referred as “town square for the global village. More…

    The Asian Age, September 19, 2015

  • India’s change of tack on climate issue

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    A pull-back from the emission reduction commitments made in 2009 is likely. But we should have a sustainable plan.

    With the submission deadline for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for the Paris Climate Summit drawing near, the spotlight is once again on New Delhi. India, which is hosting a meeting of like-minded developing countries on this subject, is the last major player which is yet to announce its INDC. More…

    Business Line, September 17, 2015

  • The mess that is food regulation

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has produced a volcanic blast in the Indian food processing industry.

    In the process, it is not just Maggi or Nestle which has been singed; the law and the regulator, the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 (FSSA), and the FSSAI, have been scathed as well. This is especially after the Bombay High Court’s order questioning the lab test results and violation of the principles of natural justice by it, during the process. Both, consumer safety and investment climate are at stake; we need a convergent approach.. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, September 03, 2015


  • Roti, kapda, mobile aur makaan

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    In 1974, a blockbuster movie was released highlighting the basic necessities of man, Roti Kapda aur Makaan. If the same movie was to be remade today, the title would have added another necessity as “roti, kapda, mobile aur makaan”. Needless to say, mobile phones have become a standard companion for people. Mobile phones, in a lot many ways, have made life easier. Now it is easier to contact people whenever and wherever you want, you can message friends, stay live on social networks, do shopping, call in cabs and click selfies and share them and what not. Not only that but the government has launched the JAM trinity to empower the poor in the country, where J stands for Jan Dhan (financial inclusion), A stands for Aadhaar (identity) and M for mobile telephony. More…

    The Asian Age, August 28, 2015

  • Restoring law and order in Parliament

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    “The monsoon session of the parliament was washed out due to flooding of the well of the house,” says the contemporary weekly hoarding of Nana Chudasama on Marine Drive in Mumbai. This hoarding, carrying thoughtful remarks on contemporary issues, is an icon of Mumbai broadly reflecting the public sentiment. This sentiment has been echoed by none else than the President. The President is empowered, under Article 86(2) of the Constitution, to send specific or general messages to either house of Parliament. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, August 21, 2015

  • A new competition law enforcement paradigm

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Many young IAS One of the biggest movie grosser of recent times, Baahubali, was produced in Telugu and dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi, and will perhaps be also done in French, Mandarin and Japanese. Fortunately, exhibition of dubbed Indian language versions was not prevented by powerful film and TV bodies, else Bahubali may not have broken records. In a first of its type, the film and TV trade bodies in Karnataka who were blocking dubbing of popular films and serials were hauled up by the Competition Commission of India in a complaint by a consumer group: Kannada Grahakara Koota. More…

    Financial Express, August 17, 2015

  • A national competition policy for India?

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The power sector continues to remain in the news every other day because of the shortage that affects our economy hugely. Recently, business chambers, along with private sector power equipment companies, were howling that the government utilities are patronising BHEL for power plant orders without inviting tenders. More…

    The Asian Age, August 11, 2015

  • A financial idea whose time has come

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) was set up in 2011, with a mandate to rewrite and clean up the financial sector laws and to bring them in tune with current requirements. It drafted an Indian Financial Code, to regulate the financial sector, and submitted the draft Code to the government in March 2013…The FSLRC and Code gels well with the other reform initiatives the government has been working on…Consequently, the Code must be urgently adopted as, in the words of former PM Manmohan Singh, it is an idea whose time has come, and no power on earth must be allowed to stop it!.. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, August 07, 2015


  • Where’s the reforms momentum?

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    …Adoption of an overarching competition policy and reforms has resulted in significant benefits across jurisdictions…India should also move fast towards adoption of NCP. It is a non-legislative instrument and the government should not face any bottlenecks in its adoption. Only when NCP is adopted will the government be able to showcase the synergies which could be created. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, July 24, 2015

  • Tackling trade associations’ anti-competitive practices

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Need to penalise members who benefit from such practices. Trade associations play the important role of mobilising voices of different players across sectors, which makes it easy for advocacy purposes as well as for negotiating issues of common interest to the members. However, in the process, associations often go beyond their legal mandate and end up being avenues for anti-competitive behaviour. More…

    The Financial Express, July 23, 2015

  • To renew the civil services

    Many young IAS officers often fall prey to the incompetency of the framework. Once inducted, postings and training seem to turn them into generalists rather than specialists…Civil servants should also be encouraged to move out and work for different sectors on a short-term basis to enrich their knowledge and enhance their motivation and efficiency. Therefore, lateral exit is as important as lateral entry. This has the potential to raise the civil services from its slump. More…

    The Indian Express, July 22, 2015

  • When nothing is resolved in court

    India’s dispute resolution mechanisms are in bad shape, leading to abysmal contract enforcement. This must change. Conflict management is a complex art. Researchers have spent a lifetime identifying approaches and skills necessary to manage conflict resolution. Situations get further complicated in commercial disputes where high financial stakes are involved. To manage such situations, two draft legislations have recently been issued in public domain by the government. These are the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015; and the Public Contracts (Resolution of Disputes) Bill, 2015. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, July 09, 2015

  • Base NPE on credible data

    By Pradeep S. Mehta & Abhishek Kumar

    India’s dispute resolution mechanisms are in bad shape, leading to abysmal contract enforcement. This must change. Conflict management is a complex art. Researchers have spent a lifetime identifying approaches and skills necessary to manage conflict resolution. Situations get further complicated in commercial disputes where high financial stakes are involved. To manage such situations, two draft legislations have recently been issued in public domain by the government. These are the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015; and the Public Contracts (Resolution of Disputes) Bill, 2015. More…

    The Asian Age, July 09, 2015


  • Will States do their BIT?

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    While launching the Make in India campaign, the Prime Minister had also unveiled ‘Team India’ — including the Prime Minister and chief ministers — to work in sync for development. This has become pivotal in economic decision making at the Centre, and its imprint can be seen in almost every policy. That said, since States are pursuing investment they are also competing in improving the ‘doing business’ indicators furiously. And many are engaging in economic paradiplomacy — CMs are travelling abroad to woo investors. However, attracting investment is also tied up with the Centre’s policies — international agreements, for protection measures through its exclusive power to do so. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, June 26, 2015

  • Regulating dream realty

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    In spite of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development and comments of relevant stakeholders, including consumer organisations, industry associations, academia, experts, and the media, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013, was watered down by the government under pressure from the builder lobby. It did not go through in the last session of Parliament and a combined opposition has ensured that it be revisited so that it is fair to all parties, particularly the consumers. The bill is now before a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, which has invited comments from all stakeholders.. More…

    The Asian Age, June 14, 2015

  • Make in ‘digital’ India

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Snapdeal, Flipkart, Ola Cabs, Zomato and Hike are good for the economy as well as for consumers.. currently generating over 70,000 jobs. In the next five years, this could grow to a quarter million jobs.. which means more choices and lower prices In the midst of the debate on allowing foreign direct investment in retail and in e-commerce, it would be worthwhile recalling what Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, early this year said to a group of students at Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, “Yes, I would personally invest in India.” As it turns out, Ms Lagarde is not alone. Year on year investments in Indian tech startups are growing at exponential rates, and our startups have raised close to $3 billion, and that too in the last five years. More…

    The Asian Age, June 01, 2015


  • How to quench smart cities’ thirst

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Round the clock water supply is one of the indicators for the highly ambitious smart cities programme launched by the government. Consequently, it is absolutely essential that the government treats this as a top priority area With the objective of providing 24×7 power supply to consumers by 2019, the Modi government has pushed for regulatory and consumer-oriented reforms through the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014. Perhaps, the government may want to consider a similar initiative for a more critical basic need — water. For all purposes, water is something which a person cannot live without. Thirty per cent villages in India do not have access to electricity, while the same number still lack access to tapped water. More…

    The Asian Age, May 18, 2015

  • Resource-rich Mongolia has much to offer India

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    A new era is expected to usher in stronger India-Mongolia ties when for the first time an Indian Prime Minister sets his foot in Ulaanbaatar on May 17. Mongolia is a country with which India shares centuries-old cultural and historical linkages. The relationship was renewed in the mid-20th century when the two countries reciprocated diplomatic relations in 1955. Since then there has been a steady but sluggish improvement in the strategic dimensions of our bilateral relationship including trade and economic cooperation among others. More…

    The Asian Age, May 18, 2015

  • The Railways needs new policy signals

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    India has adopted the mixed economy approach as a mantra. The same applies to the Bibek Debroy Panel’s treatment of private participation in the Railways. It does not recommend privatisation of the Railways anywhere in its report. There has been much noise over whether the report recommends privatisation, which the minister Suresh Prabhu has contested. India liberalised the airline sector but did not wind up the haemorrhaging Air India…The draft report is well done and can change the face of the Railways if the recommendations are implemented in a defined time frame. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, May 15, 2015

  • The new trade order

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    One of the two mega regional trade and investment agreements being negotiated by the US will soon reach the winning post, by, say, the end of the year. The US Congress might soon give “fast-track authority” to the US President to sign on the dotted line of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment agreement covering 12 countries. The other big one is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the European Union, which will take a longer time. That said, the TPP becoming a reality in the Asia-Pacific region would have many implications for India, not only in tariff preferences but also higher standards. More…

    Business Standard, May 02, 2015

  • Jan Dhan- easier said than done

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The unfolding of the financial inclusion tale in India provides significant lessons about the need for regulators and market players to come together…Two recent initiatives aim to completely transform this scenario. First, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), which saw the opening of 12.54 crore bank accounts and issued 11.08 crore RuPay debit cards by January 2015. Second, technological innovations, which have enormous potential to cut costs, making business sense to cater to the rural populace. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, May 01, 2015


  • Power haves, power have-nots

    By Pradeep S Mehta and Ashwini K Swain

    Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal has promised 24×7 electricity supply to all Indians by March 2019. A decade ago, launching the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, the UPA government had set a similar target to ensure universal access to electricity by 2012. Yet, a quarter of the Indian population still lacks access to electricity. The major problem is in the stressed distribution sector — mainly in the public sector, coupled with freebies given to vested interests. Unless that is addressed squarely, the 2019 target will be just another mirage. More…

    The Indian Express, April 08, 2015

  • Why the RCEP is the opportunity India needs

    By Bipul Chatterjee and Kyle Robert Cote

    As two mega-regional preferential trade agreements — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — loom closer to completion, India must move towards higher trade standards. Trade diversion from non-member countries of these mega-regional trade agreements is likely to occur and could be detrimental. This is a serious concern for developing countries cut out of the talks. More…

    East Asia Forum, April 08, 2015

  • Let’s get down to business

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    What India needs is a coherent and systematic approach. While the urgency shown by the new government to bring about necessary reforms to help businesses is promising, it needs to be followed equally ardently with action on the ground. More…

    Asian Age, April 06, 2015

  • Land Bill, a step in the right direction

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 — also known as the Land Acquisition Bill — has kicked up a storm. Given that the title is the objective of the Bill, one wonders why it could not be labelled simply as Fair Land Acquisition Act. It would replace the old 2013 Act unanimously adopted by the Parliament. Faced with implementation problems, the current government has sought to make it simpler and is being labelled as anti-farmer. Alas, as in all such cases, politics may trump economics. More…

    The Hindu Business Line, April 02, 2015


  • Budget strives for a competitive and growth oriented Rajasthan

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The budget has emphasised on construction of roads for connection between villages, and making land banks available for industries. To adequately focus on labour issues, the government has proposed establishment of a non-resident labour cell, and dedicated skill and employment department. In addition, commercial training of artisans has also been proposed. The government must be appreciated for the efforts it has made to capitalise factor conditions.More…

    DNA, Mach 11, 2015

  • The FCRA-NGO conundrum

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    A survey done by Institute of Rural Management, Anand in October 2012 showed that Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) is an ineffective legislation as it controls only US$2bn, which is only about two per cent of the total foreign funds that come into the country. So why should the voluntary sector be singled out for money-laundering, the study asks. Better monitoring mechanisms are required rather than curbing.More…

    The Asian Age, March 06, 2015

  • What sort of federalism do we want?

    By Udai Mehta and Kanika Balani

    Ever since the Modi government assumed office, the chant of ‘cooperative federalism’ has grown louder. First, the Cabinet resolution on the creation of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog spelt it out and 40 days later the e-book on the new body reiterated the same. The sudden entry of competitive federalism in the government document seems like a crucial afterthought.More…

    The Hindu Business Line, March 05, 2015


  • Small industry needs a better policy deal

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    If the Make in India campaign has to be successful and help many in our country, we need to focus on enabling small units to function and contribute. A major problem small and medium units face is that of finance. Banks and financial institutions are always very wary of assisting them in an optimal manner because of mistrust and the fear of bad debts. But if we see how big business houses are defaulting on their commitments, figures of which run into lakhs of crores, the losses arising out of defaults in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector seem quite insignificant.More…

    The Hindu Business Line, February 20, 2015

  • Time for ‘seller beware’

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The Budget must introduce a shift in the manner consumers are dealt with in the country. A change from the hitherto sectoral perspective to deal with consumer issues to a principles-based approach on issues of consumer saving, investment and expenditure is required.More…

    Asian Age, February 12, 2015

  • Rajasthan alone witnesses 12.8% deaths due to road accidents

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Jaipur city continues to remain on top in terms of road accidents and deaths in the state and mishaps are also reported from other cities like Kota and Jodhpur…The cost of the accidents is about three per cent of our GDP, and our record is the worst in the world. There has been some improvement last year but much more has to be done. Data shows that over 80 per cent of all accidents are due to drivers’ fault, but it would be unfair to put all of it on drivers. The enabling environment also mattersMore…

    DNA, February 09, 2015

  • For that perfect blend of policies

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will confer with an eminent group of economists on the possible agenda for the brand new National Institution for Transforming India Aayog (Niti) Aayog. On January 16, at a recent global business summit the Prime Minister said that development has to become a people’s movement. Indeed, this will be an imperative because trust has to be gained of the people at large, which can be reached by good and dispassionate civil society groups.More…

    The Hindu Business Line, February 06, 2015


  • Network congestion

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    All of us suffer because of the frequent call drops and lousy services of mobile phone service providers. Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had imposed fines amounting to Rs 5 crore on telcos for poor services. But what is the reason for bad service? Fines have not been deterrents and too much competition has resulted in poor quality services. Indian telecom is frequently cited as an example of the benefits of a market-based sector…India is the world’s second largest telecom market and also the fastest growing. It presents huge opportunities for telecom operators. However, there are concerns that too many operators are competing in the Indian marketMore…

    The Indian Express, January 20, 2015

  • How not to contain the fiscal deficit

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    India is in a precarious situation. More than eight months into the current fiscal, fiscal deficit is almost breaching the annual target; revenue receipts are not reaching even half the yearly target; and over ₹8 lakh crore are pending in direct tax recoveries. Future steps would demonstrate if the government has a long-term strategy in place for fiscal governance…Therefore, containing deficits is important. However, it must be noted that in doing so means are as important as ends. Use of unsuitable means, while providing short-term relief, compromises the ability of a country to develop a long-term fix.More…

    The Hindu Business Line, January 22, 2015

  • Niti Aayog: No quick fix

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    As an institution, Niti Aayog will have to emerge as a credible lean knowledge body or a think tank. In doing so, it needs to be equipped to think through sound policy initiatives for the medium term and beyond to grow the pie. In order to do that, it must have the ability to envision future scenario and suggest corrective steps when required. Secondly, it must also revive the Independent Evaluation Office rather than depend upon an in-house body that has so far proved to be ineffective. In doing all this effectively, it will have to build up sustainable partnerships with the private sector, trade unions, media, think tanks and CSOs. In its second role, it needs to deliver directional and strategic recommendations to the governments on the developmental process. With no clarity on the fate of five-year and annual plans, it remains uncertain how Niti Aayog will achieve this.More…

    The Asian Age January 20, 2015

  • Addressing civic indiscipline in Jaipur needs education & enforcement

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    Jaipur continues to take baby steps to achieve its dream of becoming a world class city, but a change in our mindsets is a precursor to its realisation, which is not the government’s responsibility alone. Another act of civic indiscipline is defacement of our road signage. There is a law against defacement, which includes a liability of the poster owner, but enforcement is nil…In the ultimate analysis, it is we the citizens of this beautiful city who have to take up the cudgels of dealing with indiscipline through education and enforcement, and ask the authorities to cooperate.More…

    DNA, January 12, 2015

  • A $10 trillion economy by 2030?

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    A strong national market backed by clean procurement policies and realistic fiscal management can take us there. While the general mood in the country seems buoyant, the business sentiment is not quite in sync. The reasons are well known, but there is ardent hope for progress under Narendra Modi. We need to cross the Rubicon of 5 per cent-plus growth rate and aim for at least 6 per cent in the new financial year, with the goal of turning India into a US$10tn economy by 2030 in absolute terms.More…

    The Hindu Business line, January 09, 2015

  • Time to Energize BIMSTEC

    By Bipul Chatterjee and Surendar Singh
    With negotiations stalling at the SAARC, it’s time for India to focus on the Bay of Bengal. It has been more than thirty years since the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was formed to promote regional economic cooperation. However, it has made only middling progress. Each time, the SAARC Summit has ended with relative disappointment, as was the case in Kathmandu this year. Like previous summits, it became a hostage to India-Pakistan bilateral issues.More…

    The Diplomat, January 07, 2015

  • A bitter pill for doctors, pharma companies

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between the pharma industry and medical professionals has greater implications for developing countries such as India, with high private participation in healthcare sector. Many doctors often prescribe a particular brand of medicine for personal gains. To curb this unethical practice, the long awaited Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, it does not cover unnecessary diagnostic tests and surgeries. Yet, it covers a large area in our healthcare system’s distortionsMore…

    The Asian Age, January 06, 2015

  • When the regulatory apparatus falls flat

    By Pradeep S Mehta

    During a recent star-studded seminar in Mumbai on the Indian Financial Code, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government wished to implement a large number of recommendations of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), including a cost-benefit analysis of regulations. He said the government had set up four task forces to study the IFC. These recommendations are in tune with the government’s agenda to ease doing business in India. As a result of erratic, unpredictable and frequently changing policies, the cost of doing business is a big problem. Compliance with costly, multiple and antiquated directives of regulatory or government agencies is a burden on enterprises; it eventually smothers economic growth.More…

    The Hindu Business Line, January 02, 2015