Indian States Must Recognize the Ghost of Lord Wellesley

It is the overall organization of politics and commerce which the Wellesleys of India created that we call as the Government of India today. The spirit of the Subsidiary Alliance is so deeply entrenched into India’s political establishment that even to this day, the Government of India considers itself the higher-up who needs to intervene in order to maintain tranquility. The ‘kids’, i.e., State governments and political parties vying for power at the State level, for their part, have been brainwashed into believing that they need to appeal to this higher-up whenever any quarrel arises.

When children quarrel, it’s natural for the victimized child to report the incident to an higher-up and try and get justice. This is because he (or she) believes that the higher-up will look at the matter from a neutral standpoint, if not his or her own standpoint, and protect him (or her) from the other child using methods inaccessible to him (or her). This belief, of course, is acquired. Children are instructed to bring such matters to the notice of adults and refrain from trying to settle it themselves “beyond a point”.

Colonialism works exactly like this. British colonialists in India, who looked at Indian rulers as adults would children, declared it to be the duty assigned to them by Providence to maintain peace and calm by intervening as the greater power in the quarrels of the natives.

General Marquess Wellesley used this idea to justify the Subsidiary Alliance in 1804 [Ref 1]. Without British intervention ‘warfare, turbulence, and disorder’ would remain ‘irremediable’ according to him. Not only that, placing the kids at a high degree of ‘dependence on the British power’ was important in making sure that they didn’t form ‘a confederacy hazardous to the security of the British empire’.

This latter motivation is normally absent in the adult-child relationship. The adult who cares for the children wants peace and tranquility alright, but he or she also wants them to learn how to work and play in a group. That is, the ‘confederacy’ that the colonialist fears is exactly what a loving adult actually wishes to see in children. This is because the higher-up, in this case, has no intention to run an Empire.

The analogy remains valid, however, in the case where the intention does exist. If the adult doesn’t care much for the children but acts entirely in his or her own narrow self-interest, he or she would do exactly like the colonialist: keep the children from uniting, always ask them to come to him or her to settle disputes, and extract his or her pound of flesh for ‘keeping general tranquility’.

It is the overall organization of politics and commerce which the Wellesleys of India created that we call as the Government of India today.

The spirit of the Subsidiary Alliance is so deeply entrenched into India’s political establishment that even to this day, the Government of India considers itself the higher-up who needs to intervene in order to maintain tranquility. The ‘kids’, i.e., State governments and political parties vying for power at the State level, for their part, have been brainwashed into believing that they need to appeal to this higher-up whenever any quarrel arises.

In reality, the relationship between the States and the Centre is not constrained to be analogous to the child-adult relationship. It can potentially resemble an employer-employee relationship. That is, the States can potentially look at the Centre as a service-provider who is called, employed, and paid according to the quality of service, when and where the need arises.

For this to happen in reality, the States have to find a cure for the disease they contacted during British days: the Higher-Up Syndrome. That cure is not complicated. They just have to realize that they aren’t kids and there’s no higher-up to go to. The higher-up who does show up is not the loving adult we all went to as kids after quarreling, but the ghost of Lord Wellesley.

Reference:

  1. For further info and a quote from Wellesley’s dispatch to the Resident at Hyderabad on 4 Feb 1804, see Ch. 5 of The Pyramid of Corruption.

Nationalism Is Materialism

Taking materialism – dry material transactions with profits and losses – out of nationalism, even for a moment, is taking everything out of it. Adding spirituality to it, on the other hand, actually creates a great danger. This is because nationalism, a method of protecting different peoples from hurting each other, as it were, requires us to descend to the world of materialism, acknowledge that different peoples exist, and recognize them as separate nations in the first place. When we stay put at the spiritual level and talk of everyone belonging to one family, these nations vanish from sight. Unfortunately, so does the intended protection of these nations from one another.

The sages of India have produced perhaps the most humanistic philosophy in the world. Despite the obvious diversity, they essentially saw and preached the oneness of man wherever he is in the world. However, that oneness is spiritual, not material. When this simple fact is forgotten, diversity doesn’t get the respect it deserves, and this leads to grave consequences in a world obsessed with nationalism.

The Indian concept that the entire world is one’s family, or vasudhaiva kutumbakam, is a spiritual one (the caste system is a great example of not applying this on the material plane) whereas the concept of nationalism is purely materialistic. One can’t use the former to justify the latter. But that is exactly what we do in India without realizing that if we’re serious about this one-family business, we shouldn’t be talking about any nation, including ours.

Nationalism developed in Europe which, although it had religion, hadn’t embarked on spirituality as we understand it in India. When such a culture, which hadn’t considered all human beings as one with any seriousness, had to come up with a solution to conflicts due to material competition between diverse peoples on European soil, it naturally hit upon what we now call nationalism.

This European materialistic culture imposed itself all over the world for several centuries in order to appropriate its resources. It spread slavery and created colonies wherever it went, and its slaves and colonies had no option but to respond to the colonizers on the same level as their culture. That is, they had no option but to quickly make the alien concept of nationalism theirs. Despite all pretense, Indian nationalism is no exception to this. The British had to leave because they weren’t part of our family.

In spite of its newly acquired nationalism, India hasn’t let go of its cultural roots, its idea of the spiritual oneness of all humanity in particular. It can’t. But we haven’t carefully understood the two concepts and how they can or cannot be mixed. As a result, the fact that nationalism is a purely materialistic concept hasn’t registered fully within India. Used to seeing everything as spiritual, Indian intellectuals with even a rudimentary exposure to Indian philosophy consider the nation a spiritual entity. This is why the names of sages such as Adi Shankara are roped in to justify Indian nationalism even today.

But taking materialism – dry material transactions with profits and losses – out of nationalism, even for a moment, is taking everything out of it. Adding spirituality to it, on the other hand, actually creates a great danger. This is because nationalism, a method of protecting different peoples from hurting each other, as it were, requires us to descend to the world of materialism, acknowledge that different peoples exist, and recognize them as separate nations in the first place. When we stay put at the spiritual level and talk of everyone belonging to one family, these nations vanish from sight. Unfortunately, so does the intended protection of these nations from one another.

Educated Indians assume, as our constitution does inasmuch as language is concerned, that Indians must give up all diversity to support Indian nationalism. The most erudite reason for this is that Indian philosophy requires us to think of everyone as belonging to the same family. Never mind the fact that that wasn’t meant in the materialistic sense, and never mind that we ought to be applying it even in the spiritual sense to the entire vasudhaa (world), not just India.

One-sixth of humanity lives under the umbrella of the Indian nation and yet there’s a push from above to forget all diversity. The result is that the exact same situation which led to dozens of nations in Europe exists in India, too, but there is no attempt to deal with it head on. Instead, there are repeated assertions of unity at a spiritual level. Inequalities of caste and language, which are ultimately regional, take their toll on the material plane but our attempts to build unity are on the spiritual plane.

This refusal to think of nationalism as something purely materialistic, and the mistaken belief that spiritualism can solve conflicts between diverse peoples on the material plane, lies at the root of India’s problems. We, who glorify Bharat Mata, may not have the intention to cause harm. But our refusal to come to terms with what nationalism really is, and our attempt to deify that which can’t be deified, are nothing but harm.

AAP’s ideology of cleanliness is not an ideology at all

Despite all assertions to the contrary, operational cleanliness is not a political ideology. Things like abstention from bribery and horse-trading cannot be bullet points in an ideological document. They can only be bullet points in a party’s code of conduct – how it behaves on the path to achieve ideological goals. Ideology is the direction in which the vehicle moves when it’s roadworthy, not roadworthiness itself.

Immunity from realpolitik, which is a fancy word for the give and take behind the scenes, was the central campaign message of the Aam Aadmi Party. That message has been completely destroyed after the sting operation involving none other than the self-appointed icon of political cleanliness in India, Mr Arvind Kejriwal. There are cartoons out there with the Kejriwal bee stinging itself.

As if to add to the party’s woes, two of its top leaders, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, expelled from the party’s Parliamentary Affairs Committee, are engaging with the volunteers and explaining how they did nothing wrong. Their courage seems to indicate that Bhushan and Yadav have less to hide, and less reason to hide, from the public than Arvind Kejriwal.

The problem with this whole experiment called AAP is that, in the absence of an ideology, the public is made to switch meaninglessly between parties and party leaders in search for mister clean.

The Delhi assembly election was pretty much won on the basis that Mr Kejriwal is essentially that person, complete with Gandhian public announcements extolling the need to control the ego. But now he has competition, and in the midst of it all, the idea that political parties have to stand for something over and above individuals is getting completely lost.

Despite all assertions to the contrary, operational cleanliness is not a political ideology. Things like abstention from bribery and horse-trading cannot be bullet points in an ideological document. They can only be bullet points in a party’s code of conduct – how it behaves on the path to achieve ideological goals. Ideology is the direction in which the vehicle moves when it’s roadworthy, not roadworthiness itself.

The fact that this simple thing is not understood by some of the most intelligent men and women in the country speaks volumes of the poverty of political thinking in India. Politics is no longer about ideology, it appears, and that is a problem.

It is not as if the framers of the Constitution of India finished off the job of creating a perfect democracy. It is not as if sticking to the Constitution is all it takes for the hopes and ambitions of every Indian to attain fruition. It is not as if all we need now is a few clean men and women to do what the book says.

We always need men and women who understand what’s wrong with the Constitution at any given point in time, and what can be done to rectify it. That understanding has nothing to do with operational cleanliness. It is the domain of ideology. Our search must be for a clean ideology; the ideology of cleanliness is not even an ideology.

[First Published: IBNLive March 13, 2015 at 06:19AM, http://ift.tt/1GzprMf]

The Law Cannot Prevent Rape

The law pretends to be many things, including being good enough for all those who are required to submit to it. Those who make laws would like us to think of them as the complete solution to public problems. They’d like us to believe that we, the people, can’t come up with any useful solutions ourselves. But we must be wiser. We must understand what the law can never do. It can never guarantee protection from rape.

Rapes happen because both men and the law are bad. If any one of the two were good, they wouldn’t happen. Since they’re happening, let’s first begin by blaming both men and the law. Next, since we can’t do anything about men’s bad, let’s make the law so good that no rapes happen. This is how we’re supposed to think about rape in India, and I think it’s stupid.

The generalization that men are bad is too obviously wrong for me to address it. The other generalization, that the law is bad, is right. But however good it may get, the law can’t prevent rape. Since this is not widely understood, and since this lack of understanding actually works as a reason for rape, let me focus on the role of law in rape.

First of all, I’m not talking about the law being bad in this or that location, or even this or that time. I’m talking about the law being bad in all space-time settings. This is because every criminal, in this case a rapist, is always above the law before it catches up. Every rape is proof that the law was powerless in preventing it.

I’m not denying that the fear of law can prevent rapes, but the crux of the matter is that we’re talking in the language of probability and statistics here. We can only move towards a reduced number of occurrences of rape using the law, but no woman, including you if you are one, is guaranteed protection from rape by the law. All the law guarantees is punishment for the rapist after the rape has occurred.

Therefore, it’s unintelligent to completely rely on the law to prevent rape. In the olden days, people weren’t stupid enough to do that. They had their own methods outside of the law. Today, however, this stupidity of relying entirely on the law not only seems to have come to stay, but has also become globalized and acquired an honor and legitimacy of its own.

What were those methods over and above the law? They varied from culture to culture, place to place, and time to time, but in principle they were all forms of women refraining from kindling men’s sexual instincts in public. Our ancestors understood, apparently, that even in the presence of the law, it helps prevent rape if male sexual instincts aren’t publicly kindled by women.

I’m not talking about a particular woman protecting herself by her not kindling male sexual instincts publicly, but all women protecting themselves as a whole by none of them kindling them publicly. I have to say this for the benefit of those who are programmed to conclude that I’m ‘blaming the victim’ here. I’m blaming the stupidity of relying exclusively on the law to prevent rape, not anything else.

But today, this imprudent public kindling of male sexual instincts is being described as women’s freedom, notwithstanding the fact that any definition of women’s freedom cannot take away men’s freedom to enjoy sexual and mental health (which are affected by such kindling). People take women’s ‘freedom to kindle’ from one corner of the globe, which has its own culture, system of law, and male kindle-ability thresholds, and apply it to their corner of the globe.

If and when rape occurs, they blame the local men as a whole for being too kindle-able and the local law for being too insufficient or inefficient or both. When men elsewhere aren’t kindled by x amount of kindling, why should they be kindled here? Even if they’re kindled, why shouldn’t our law prevent rape? That is, why isn’t the law catching up with increasing ‘freedom to kindle’? These are the questions they ask, and it’s doubly stupid because they understand neither the local conditions and the local males, nor the fundamental shortcomings of law.

The law pretends to be many things, including being good enough for all those who are required to submit to it. Those who make laws would like us to think of them as the complete solution to public problems. They’d like us to believe that we, the people, can’t come up with any useful solutions ourselves. But we must be wiser. We must understand what the law can never do. It can never guarantee protection from rape.

Therefore, it is prudent to look for other forms of protection, too. The one of our ancestors, tried and tested, isn’t bad at all. We need not go back thousands of years and replicate that environment today, but we can at least begin by appreciating the need to stop kindling male carnal desires in public. How to stop it is something each small community, however defined, will have to decide for itself. We shouldn’t pretend, like our legislators and their laws, to know everything about the men and women of every community.

Generalization Is Inevitable When Talking Meaningfully about India

Prof S. N. Balagangadhara’s argument that the Europeans described their experience of India and not India itself is obviously right. It is only from the frame of reference of one’s own culture that anyone can describe what one sees in the world. The observer is intimately connected to the observation. It is only from the frame of reference of their culture that the Europeans saw and talked about Hinduism, the caste system, etc. I’d like to submit here that the Europeans had another important compulsion over and above their culture: the need to generalize what they saw.

Prof S. N. Balagangadhara’s argument that the Europeans described their experience of India and not India itself is obviously right. It is only from the frame of reference of one’s own culture that anyone can describe what one sees in the world. The observer is intimately connected to the observation. It is only from the frame of reference of their culture that the Europeans saw and talked about Hinduism, the caste system, etc.

I’d like to submit here that the Europeans had another important compulsion over and above their culture: the need to generalize what they saw.

Prof Balagangadhara will agree that words like Hinduism and caste system are huge generalizations. But generalization is inevitable when one is compelled to account for innumerable and diverse phenomena. European colonial writers had to generalize what they saw because their Empire had spread itself recklessly wherever possible. The colonizers didn’t have any reason to stop their conquests at any sort of previously existing boundaries because easy money didn’t stop at those boundaries. How does one talk meaningfully about such a recklessly spread Empire without making generalizations? It’s impossible.

To make matters worse, the list of collective nouns the Europeans used to describe and generalize what they saw has another entry in it which Prof Balagangadhara doesn’t seem to have paid attention to: India. As long as we wish to take this entry seriously, there is no escape from generalization. Every statement about India is a generalization because the very word is the result of European generalization. I’m not saying that we must refrain from making any statement about India. I’m only saying that we must recognize the fact that we’re compelled to generalize when we make one.

I think it’s still possible to make a very good generalization, but we have to be careful. If we aren’t, what we end up calling the Indian way to generalize will continue to have European generalization at the base because European generalization thrives in the very word India. In some sense, we have to remove Europe from India before making our generalization, and it’s not an easy task. (In passing, I have to point out that even European is a generalization, but we can live with it because Europe is quite far away from us and we’re not interested in describing Europe but India here.)

Fortunately, we can talk much more easily about generalization by a Vedantin, a Buddhist, a Jain, a Lingayat, a Shudra, and so on, without including European generalization by default. Similarly, we can also talk about generalization by a Kannadiga, a Tamil, a Telugu, a Gujarati, and so on. These categories were attested before our brush with European colonialism, and continue to exist even today. But we have to be very careful when we talk of an Indian way to generalize because the very category owes its birth to our colonial experience.

Let me end with a few comments on how we could think in order to arrive at an Indian generalization. In some sense, we must arrive at the least common denominator of all the pre-attested categories described and implied in the above paragraph. We must arrive at what is common to all of them and lodge ourselves in that common frame of reference before making our generalization. Most importantly, our generalization must apply to the new India, which is a product of European generalization, and which we also like to call as a democracy.

The task is neither impossible nor simple. Until we come up with such a generalization, there is no option but to use what the Europeans have left us with — Hinduism and caste system. Unfortunately, it is also true that different people will naturally come up with different ways to tinker with these concepts in this interim period. They will infuse them with their own meanings, knowingly or unknowingly retain the European-ness in them to different degrees, and try to explain their version of reality as well as they can.

Understanding Rape as a Statistical Phenomenon

If the statistical occurrence of burglary can be discouraged by building houses in a certain way, then the statistical occurrence of rape can be discouraged by women dressing in a certain way. I have seen many who take this argument to be an approval of the criminal mind housed in a rapist, or an argument to curtail the freedom of women, but that is a mistake.

If the statistical occurrence of burglary can be discouraged by building houses in a certain way, then the statistical occurrence of rape can be discouraged by women dressing in a certain way. I have seen many who take this argument to be an approval of the criminal mind housed in a rapist, or an argument to curtail the freedom of women, but that is a mistake.

It is the same mistake as thinking that securing a house with a compound, thick walls, grilled windows, reinforced cement concrete ceilings, etc., is an approval of the criminal mind housed in a burglar, or an effort to curtail the freedom of its residents. If in one case people do not depend entirely on the law to discourage crime, there is no fundamental reason why they should in the other.

I am aware that some will conclude that I am equating women with property, but that is incorrect, too. I am not equating women, but that which is lost in rape, with property. Whose property? It is every woman’s individual and private property, and, like all property, it is prudent to guard it well from criminals irrespective of how strong the law of the land is, or how effective its enforcement is.

The question of the relationship between the way in which women dress and the incidence of rape, which is but one of the many relationships that one needs to consider, is the question of the relationship between two statistical phenomena. That is, it is the question of the relationship between the general environment created by the dress-sense of all the different women in society and the statistical probability of rape.

The existence of this statistical relationship cannot be rejected on the grounds that particular sample-cases can be produced wherein the victim’s dress can be shown to have been the least of the motivations for the crime for the most criminal of minds.

The criminal mind of the rapist is not necessarily set in motion by the dress-sense of the victim under consideration, but by the general impact of the overall environment in which he finds women, especially on television and in the movies. This should be read in conjunction with the fact that rape is, first of all, an act of violence which could have been triggered by many factors, only one of which is the general image of women formed in the mind of the criminal due to the overall environment in which he finds them.

To summarize, I say the crime of rape deserves the toughest punishment: capital punishment. But I am certain this will not solve the problem.

An Alternate Way To Run India’s Finances

Neither the own money nor the aid money of the States needs to be collected by the Centre. It can simply get out of this whole business of collecting and distributing money. Each State can collect all the money it needs from its own people, and we can call this as state money. In case there are States that send in any aid, it can simply be added to this and utilized with thanks.

The Government of India is under the impression that the States are fundamentally incapable of dealing with money. The idea has stuck that they can neither make money nor spend it in the right way. One can see this in the sermons the Centre gives the States on how to spend the money it gives them, both tied and untied. While it is true that the Centre collects the money in question, we must not forget that it actually comes from the people of the States. The Centre doesn’t have people of its own.

The funds that a State gets from the Centre is of two types. The first is money that originally went from the State to the Centre and returned, which we can call as the State’s own money. The second is money coming in from the wealthy states via the Centre, which we can call as aid money. Every State gets its own money back, although the wealthy States get only a fraction thereof. And then, of course, it’s only the poorer States which get any aid money.

As far as own money is concerned, it takes simple commonsense to conclude that the States can collect the necessary tax from the people directly instead of looping the Centre into the affair. This requires a reduction in the Centre’s powers, not any sort of ‘growing up’ or ‘evolution’ on the part of the States.

As far as aid money is concerned, the whole concept is based on the theory that it is good for everyone concerned. But it is important to note that this theory, right or wrong, assumes one society which the rich and the poor are part of. But this is not the case here. It is nonsensical to talk of, say, the Kannadigas and the Biharis being part of one society. They are part of one political unit, yes, but that doesn’t make them one society however much one might pretend they do.

In fact, Indian states can be called nations going by the universal understanding of the term. When a rich nation supports a poor one, it is not out of any compulsion by some sort of Central Government of the world, but out of its own self-interest. Even in the case of one State supporting another in India, there is no fundamental reason why the Centre should collect aid money and decide how to distribute it.

There are some who are concerned that if the Centre gets out of the loop, the wealthy states will no longer support the poorer ones. Opinion is divided on whether aid money to entire States is useful at all, but the worst way to address the concern is to use Central coercion. Although coercion can appear to be the ideal solution till the last moment, it can ultimately lead to the secession of the wealthy States, as has happened elsewhere in the world.

Nor is it true that if States stop giving or receiving aid money the idea of India simply dies. What dies is the thinking that aid money is central to the idea of India. It helps to note that this aid money didn’t feature in Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of India. He wanted Gram Swaraj or the independence or self-sufficiency of the village, which ruled it out.

Thus, neither the own money nor the aid money of the States needs to be collected by the Centre. It can simply get out of this whole business of collecting and distributing money. Each State can collect all the money it needs from its own people, and we can call this as state money. In case there are States that send in any aid, it can simply be added to this and utilized with thanks.

The Centre needs funds to do things the States don’t need to. As I see it, the Centre should hold only defence and external affairs portfolios and leave everything else to the States. The funds to run these portfolios, too, need not be collected by the Centre directly from the people. Over and above state money, the States can collect federal money  (money to run the Federation of India) and pass it on to the Centre.

[Photo credit: livemint.com]

No Mr. Modi, Tax Devolution To States Won’t Make Centre Much Poorer

While it is true that the Finance Commission has recommended a 10% increase in the share of the states in the divisible pool, it is not true that the award leaves ‘far less money with the Central Government’ if the Centre’s finances are considered as a whole, i.e., including money not in the divisible pool.

In his letter to Chief Ministers announcing his government’s decision to accept the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi writes:

The 14th FC has recommended a record increase of 10% in the devolution of the divisible pool of resources to states. This compares with the marginal increases made by previous Finance Commissions. The total devolution to states in 2015-16 will be significantly higher than in 2014-15. This naturally leaves far less money with the Central Government. However, we have taken the recommendations of the 14th FC in a positive spirit as they strengthen your hand in designing and implementing schemes as per your priorities and needs. (italics added)

While it is true that the Finance Commission has recommended a 10% increase in the share of the states in the divisible pool, it is not true that the award leaves ‘far less money with the Central Government’ if the Centre’s finances are considered as a whole, i.e., including money not in the divisible pool. I’ve summarised the recommendations of the Finance Commission in the table below (all numbers in rupees crore).

moditable

While Mr. Modi and his government have highlighted the fact that tax devolution to states has increased as a percentage of the divisible pool (purposely omitted from the above table) from 32% to 42% in the award, one cannot conclude from it that the Centre is left with ‘far less money’. One needs to look at aggregate transfers to states as a percentage of the gross revenue receipts for it. That is what I plot in the following chart, together with the percent-wise break-up of the transfers in terms of tax devolution and grants (from the data in the above table).

2015-02-27-transferstostates.bmp

Clearly, the aggregate transfers to states (middle curve) indicated by the FC-XIV remain relatively flat before and after the 14th Finance Commission (i.e., going from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and later). In fact, the report clearly states in Section 2.28 that:

We have noted that aggregate transfers accounted for around 50 per cent of the gross revenue receipts of the Union. Keeping in view the Union Government’s expenditure responsibilities, and the need for fiscal adjustment at the Union level, we do not see the scope for increasing the transfers beyond the current level.

Historically, the actual aggregate transfers have tended to lie between 44.7% and 53.7% as a percentage of the gross revenue receipts (as explained in Section 12.6), and that is not changing. The 10% jump from 32% to 42% happening at one go in the first year of implementation, which everyone including Mr. Modi is talking about, appears when one takes only the tax devolution portion of the aggregate transfers and divides it by the divisible pool. This is not to be seen in the above chart which presents the whole picture.

In fact, this 10% jump being talked about everywhere is misleading because it masks the actual expected increase in the aggregate transfers to the states as a percentage of total money with the Centre, which is far more modest (middle curve, 47.54% in 2014-15 to 48.33% in 2015-16). The major increase recommended by FC-XIV is only in the tax devolution portion of these transfers (upper curve, 50.98% to 66.93% in 2015-16), but the grants portion is recommended to be reduced almost equally (lower curve, 49.02% to 33.07% in 2015-16).

Thus, although it helps lend Mr. Modi’s political party the hue of martyrdom, it is not correct to say that the Centre is left with ‘far less money’ because of FC-XIV. The confusion here is because only the tax devolution part of the overall transfers to the states are highlighted, that too expressed as a percentage of something other than the total money in the Centre’s kitty.

Note, however, that Mr. Modi and his government are right in their communication that the states have more of a free hand when it comes to using their funds now. This is because of the recommended and welcome shift of funds to tax devolution from grants, which essentially require state governments to do what the Centre wants them to do.

[First Published: Huffington Post March 05, 2015 at 06:54PM, http://ift.tt/1EOOigJ]