Why Future Deck?
The Takshashila Future Deck is a set of cards designed to spark conversations about emerging challenges and opportunities that are facing India and the world.
Creating the Deck
This project was inspired by a similar deck created by the Centre for Strategic Futures, Singapore. Each card in the deck is a potential driver of India's future. The cards are grouped in the following sub-sets: Macroeconomic Shifts, Technology and Society, Citizenship and Governance, Future of Conflict and the Drivers of Growth.
Using the cards
The deck can be used in workshops to prioritise issues for further research, to examine the impact of the issues on public policy, and to craft scenario narratives about the future.
Participants can assume public roles and examine how individual cards could impact them, and also draw up new scenarios based on how two or more cards would affect each other.
Why Future Deck? The cards are
designed to spark conversations about
emerging challenges and opportunities that
are facing India and the world.
Creating the Deck. This was inspired by
a similar deck created by the Centre for
Strategic Futures, Singapore. Each card in
the deck is a potential driver of India and
the world’s future.
Using the Cards. The deck can be used
in workshops to prioritise issues for further
research, as an aid to teach and learn, to
examine the impact of the issues on public
policy, and to craft scenario narratives
about the future.
Participants can assume public roles and
examine how individuals cards could
impact them, and can also draw up new
scenarios based on how two or more
cards would affect each other.
Comments and New Ideas. We are
always looking for new ideas to incorporate
into the card deck, as well as new ways of
using them. Do write to us at
The Takshashila Institution
Note: The views expressed in the cards do not necessarily reﬂect
the views of the Takshashila Institution.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Harshit Sekhon
Who are we.
The Takshashila Institution is an
independent, non-partisan think tank on
India’s strategic affairs and a school of
public policy, registered in Chennai and
with ofﬁces in Bangalore.
Takshashila contributes towards
building the intellectual foundations of
an India with global interests. It aims to
establish itself as one of the most
credible voices in India’s public policy
discourse, known for its unambiguous
pursuit of the national interest, through
consistent high-quality policy advisories.
Heritage and Inspiration.
The ancient city of Takshashila was the
site of perhaps the world’s oldest public
policy school. It was the intellectual
fountainhead not only of Indian
statecraft but indeed of all walks of
human endeavour. The Takshashila
Institution derives inspiration from that
civilizational lighthouse in the pursuit of
its contemporary objectives.
PUBLIC POLICY EDUCATION
Takshashila has pioneered modern public
policy education in India, and has over 300
alumni from multiple courses thus far.
Graduate Certiﬁcate in Public Policy.
The GCPP is a 12-week certiﬁcate course
that provides a rigorous introduction to
public policy and economic reasoning,
equipping students with the skills and
concepts required to engage in public
affairs. It is largely online, can be taken
from anywhere in the world, and is
designed for working professionals.
BCLIP Civic Leadership Incubation
Programme. In association with the
Bangalore Political Action Committee,
Takshashila trains the next generation of
civic leaders and local politicians in
Bangalore, equipping them with the
practice of urban governance.
Executive Programmes. Takshashila
conducts bespoke training programmes
on public affairs and policy for business
leaders, corporate professionals, think
tanks, NGOs, media and others.
Foundational Certiﬁcate in Public
Policy. In partnership with Mount Carmel
College Bangalore, Takshashila teaches a
credit course for undergraduate students,
providing a foundation in public policy.
Nagara – The Democracy Game.
Takshashila has developed a 3-hour role-
playing game on understanding how
democratic politics and decision making
works in modern India. It can be played
by groups of all ages.
Read more at www.takshashila.org.in
TAKSHASHILA POLICY RESEARCH
Takshashila aims to build the intellectual
foundations of an India with global
interests. Its policy research is focused on
providing high quality advisories and
recommendations on emerging issues of
national importance. Takshashila’s
research is public-facing and is open to all
in the form of policy briefs, research
reports, opinion articles, blogs and more.
Shaping India’s New Growth Agenda.
Takshashila partnered with the Hudson
Institute, Washington DC to conduct a 2-
day conference in Bangalore in August
2014 on how India’s new growth agenda
can be shaped and what implications this
will have for the world. The conference
included panel discussions on labour,
innovation, health, trade and investment.
A Survey of India’s Energy Prospects in the
Middle East Region. Discussion Document by
Reforming ONGC Videsh for India’s Energy
Security. Policy brief by Ameya Naik.
Making India’s Labour Market More
Flexible. Policy brief by Hemal Shah.
Risks to India’s national security from
tensions along the Iran-Pakistan Border.
Strategic Assessment by Sumitha Narayanan
Kutty and Pranay Kotasthane.
China’s Economic Outlook in 2015: The
Trump Card of a Yuan Deﬂation. Discussion
document by V Anantha Nageswaran.
Read them at www.takshashila.org.in
PROMOTING THE INDIAN NATIONAL INTEREST
Bridging India’s governance gap is a
marathon, and it can be run only when a
lot more people engage in public affairs in
an informed manner. Takshashila aims to
engage all sections of the public with fresh,
bold ideas that promote the Indian national
interest and strengthen the Indian republic.
Pragati – The Indian National Interest
Review. Pragati is an online magazine on
strategic affairs, public policy and
governance that has been running since
2007. Articles examining India’s
engagement with the world are published
every week. "
Indian National Interest Blogs. Pragati
is complemented by a network of blogs
where Takshashila’s fellows, scholars and
analysts write regularly on policy matters.
INI9 – 9 Minute Conversations.
Takshashila and its people are active
online, 24x7. Find us on:
“Village Changes its name to SnapDeal.com
Nagar”, IBN Live. 20 July 2011. Web.
Workshops and Speeches by the Takshashila
Rajagopalan, Shruti and Tabarrok, Alexander
T., Lessons from Gurgaon, India's Private City
(October 24, 2014). GMU Working Paper in
Economics No. 14-32.
Nitin Pai, “NRI Voting Should Not Be Made Too
Easy”, The Acorn. 25 Nov 2014.
The Indian Republic is unique because it
sees the government as an agent of social
change. The Constitution of India upholds
values, ideas and laws that may be
different from prevailing social norms and
This inherently implies a State-society
conﬂict that does not exist in other
republics. This conﬂict, caused by a
contradiction between social norms and
constitutional norms, works to delegitimise
the State in the eyes of society. Society is
less likely to see a government which
upholds laws that question its traditions, as
a representative government.
Disregard for laws is fungible, and a
disregard for one set of laws creates an
overall culture of lax respect for, adherence
to and enforcement of laws.
The task of social revolution has not
traditionally been taken up by governments.
It is therefore prudent in India’s case to
question whether and how the government
can or should change behaviour, through
the political process or otherwise.
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Photo Overleaf: CC by Kannan B
Can our governments respond to networked societies?
RADICALLY NETWORKED SOCIETIES
Photo Overleaf: CC by Pra:k Gupte
The onset of the internet and social media
has created radically networked societies.
This networking has also created new
imagined communities, which have their
own politics and political structures. These
communities are not deﬁned by
geographical location, and they consist of
groups of people with similar values and
norms and who share a culture.
In contrast, our governments are
hierarchical structures. When these
pyramid shaped governments interact with
mesh shaped societies, structural conﬂicts
arise. Such conﬂicts lead to the loss of
moral authority of the government.
One way to prevent these conﬂicts is to
restructure our governments as networks.
The successful nations of the industrial age
were the ones that were able to structure
their governments according to the
demands of the time.
Similarly, in the information age, the nations
that are able to structure their governments
into networks will have a greater chance of
FINDING THE BALANCE
A nation is deﬁned as a group of people
united by common descent, culture, or
language; a state is a territory that is
considered as an organised political
community under one government. In a
nation-state, there is a large degree of
congruence between the nation, or the
people, and the state, or the political
institutions governing the people.
Whether or not every community that thinks
of itself as a nation should be entitled to its
own state lies at the heart of the debate over
“self-determination”. What is more
important, liberty or self-determination?
If a nation that achieves self-determination
ends up as an authoritarian state, which is
not uncommon, would it be better off being
under colonial or federal rule where its
nationals enjoy greater liberty? In other
words, is self-determination overrated?
This question highlights the importance of
reason in a democracy. Democracy in itself
cannot be enough, because self-
determination has a built-in externality: it
ensures that a community is ruled based on
the beliefs and preferences of its voters,
and the decisions of each individual voter
impacts every other voter.
Self-determination as a system must also
take responsibility for using political
institutions appropriately In order to ensure
that reason or liberty are not compromised.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Michael
The privatisation of public good provision
is happening at an unprecedented rate in
India. Everything from security to
playgrounds now have private providers.
The development of residential townships
in Gurgaon was spearheaded by the
private sector in the early 1980s. The
private sector also took on sewage, water
and electricity due to the failure in public
However, this sort of privatisation often
has hidden costs. In Gurgaon, this has
lead to excessive waste generation, water
consumption and pollution levels due to
diesel based electricity generation.
Gurgaon lacked a government that built
infrastructure to keep up with private
sector led development.
PRIVATE PROVISION OF PUBLIC GOODS
Investment with Private Participation
(in USD as of 2013)
Photo Overleaf: CC by seaview99
In 2011, SnapDeal.com decided to use a
part of its proﬁts to help Shiv Nagar, a
remote village in North India by installing
15 hand pumps to provide the village with
the only source to potable water. The
villagers voted to change the name of
their village to express their gratitude. Do
companies need help to be philanthropic?
India is the ﬁrst country to have a
mandated Corporate Social Responsibility
law. The law indicates that the
government is unable to efﬁciently spend
the money they receive through taxation
and instead are requiring companies to
tax themselves and spend the money
more effectively than the government has
been able to. It remains to be seen if the
CSR law will help or hinder Indian
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Photo Overleaf: CC by waterdotorg
While the idea of NRIs being given
absentee ballot has received a certain
level of popularity, the signiﬁcance of this
is rarely fully considered.
Absentee ballots can be problematic
because of the moral hazard issue. NRI
voters will not have to bear the
consequences of their choices regardless
of whether the outcome is positive or
Another issue with NRI voters is
constituency. The Representation of
People (Amendment) Bill, 2010 allows
NRIs to vote in the constituency of his/her
place of residence as listed in his/her
However, an NRI might not be fully aware
of the quality of the public services being
provided in his/her stated place of
residence. This reduces his/her desire to
keep an elected representative
accountable. Current electoral rules fail to
address this issue.
Without absentee ballots, only NRI voters
who value their vote enough to pay the
cost of travelling internationally to vote will
do so. NRIs should be included in the
Indian political system and have a voice
but not in a way that lowers the economic
cost on voters.
PROBLEMS WITH ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Photo Overleaf: CC by Al Jazeera English
Ministry of Home Affairs, 2011 Census:
Indira Rajaraman, “Taxing Agriculture in a
Developing Country: A Possible Approach.”
World Bank Group. Feb, 2004.
Michael Moore, “An Indian Agenda for Trade
and Investment Reform” Pragati. 15 Nov 2014.
Mukul Asher, “India’s Budget 2014-15”,
Pragati. 18 Jul 2014.
Donovan Storey, “Setting the Scene: The Rise
of Secondary Cities” LKY School of Public
Policy, National University of Singapore. April
Agricultural income has been exempted
from the Indian Income Tax Act since
1961 and has remained under State
control in order to bolster the agricultural
sector and encourage growth.
Taxing agricultural income would increase
government revenue, improve cross-
sectoral parity and increase the overall
efﬁciency of the Indian economy. The tax
exemption was intended to foster
agricultural growth but despite the
exemption, the contribution to GDP by
the agricultural sector is falling.
However, strong political opposition from
the agricultural sector has prevented tax
TAXING AGRICULTURAL INCOME
Contribution of Agriculture, Value Added
(World Bank Indicators)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Lee Tucker
A key reform area for India is trade and
investment. Domestic policies that
increase international competitiveness of
Indian ﬁrms and encourage investment
both on domestic and foreign fronts will
play a big role in aiding economic growth.
Reforms could include improving labour
market ﬂexibility, reducing red tape,
rationalisation of taxes and tariffs, and
innovations in ecosystems. Signiﬁcant
enhancements in these areas can help
India receive more domestic and foreign
As Indian trade increases and India
becomes more economically integrated
with the world, these reforms will become
necessary. Undertaking domestic policy
reforms could have a whole host of
beneﬁts in the global environment.
INCREASING ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
Contribution of Trade
(World Bank Indicators)
Photo Overleaf: CC by epSos.de
The tax-GDP ratio of India has been low
for decades. An important reason for this
is the extremely small tax base.
The 35 million tax payers are
conservatively considered to be only half
the people who should be paying. In
addition, there are several occupations
where only 25-50 percent of true income
Policy needs to be implemented using an
evidence-based approach to track the
missing taxpayers and to improve the
true-income reported. This will allow for a
fairer tax administration.
INCREASING INDIA’S TAX BASE
(Indian Public Finance Statistics, 2013-14)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Dinesh Cyanman
GROWTH OF SECOND TIER CITIES
Second-tier cities like Surat are assuming
greater prominence as India’s megacities
struggle to cope with the infrastructure
demands of their rising population.
McKinsey estimates that about 400 mid-
sized cities in the emerging markets could
generate almost 40 percent of global
growth by 2025.
In order to continue to increase the
number of second tier cities, India needs
• Utilise intrinsic locational advantages
like proximity to consumer markets
• Create strategic investment plans to
attract businesses, industries and
• Build infrastructure
• Increase local government capacity
(IIHS Analysis based on Census 2011)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Reinhiold Behringer
While cities have become symbols of
India’s economic growth, urban
municipalities remain economically weak
resulting in poor infrastructure and service
delivery in cities. The roots of their
weaknesses lie in poor ﬁscal
decentralisation in India unlike countries
like China, where municipal bodies in
major cities are allowed to keep a
generous percent of the revenue they
India has heavy ﬁscal centralisation – the
union government of India allocates funds
to the state governments, which then
allocate funds to urban governing bodies.
The excessive controls over receipt and
expenditure of municipal funds make
them slow, over-regulated and insufﬁcient
for the needs of most cities.
As a result, while cities generate
substantial national revenue, they receive
and aggregate revenue of only 0.75% of
the country’s GDP. Fiscal decentralisation
is necessary to enable fast and quality
development of cities. The union
government has resisted devolving
authority to state and local bodies,
especially in ﬁscal and ﬁnancial matters.
Local bodies know their needs best and
should be allowed ﬂexibility to retain and
spend funds the cities generate
themselves. How federal is the Indian
Photo Overleaf: CC by Simply CVR
Soren Dayton, “Sharing India’s Democratic
Talents”, Pragati. 6 Oct 2014.
“Remarks by the President to the Joint Session
of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, India”.
Ofﬁce of the Press Secretary, The White
House. 8 Nov 2010.
Nitin Pai, “Why India must swing”, Yahoo
Blogs. 26 May 2010.
Pavan Srinath, “Potash from Russia with love”,
Business Standard. 12 Sept 2013.
Nitin Pai, “Confronting a new world order”,
Business Standard. 18 May 2014
Nitin Pai, “So why should India project power
abroad”, Yahoo News. 5 April 2011.
For many emerging economies the process
of building a democracy has to be
accompanied by the process of building a
sense of nation. Indonesia, Nigeria and
South Africa are some of the biggest
emerging democracies that share
characteristics with India but have yet to
build democratic institutions like those in
India can share what it has learned from
being the largest democracy in the world
with these countries. The lessons that India
could share are much more relevant to the
world than those of the USA or Europe who
built their democracies while facing a
different set of problems. India can help
countries struggling to build democratic
systems while furthering its national
LEARNING FROM INDIA
“We [Japan and India] should work together
and let the world know what democracy is,
and what democratic values stand for.”
-Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
Photo Overleaf: CC by Vineet TImble
India has fought long and hard for a
highly-coveted permanent seat on the
United Nations Security Council. With
India accounting for one-sixth of the
world population, it seems natural to
President Obama, Prime Minister
Cameron and several others have, on
occasion, expressed their general support
for India’s quest but have remained quiet
when convenient. China and Pakistan
have a vested interest in standing in
The issue boils down to whether India will
beneﬁt enough from being on the UNSC
to endure a long and arduous battle to
get there especially considering India’s
extreme scarcity of diplomatic resources.
INDIA AND THE UNSC
“We salute India’s long history as a leading
contributor to United Nations peacekeeping
missions. And we welcome India as it
prepares to take its seat on the United
Nations Security Council.”
-Barack Obama, President of USA
Photo Overleaf: CC by Zack Lee
As China’s military and economic growth
continues, the tensions between China
and the USA will also subsequently rise.
This puts India in a very unique position.
Despite differences in world views, the
likelihood of war between India and China
remains low with the presence of nuclear
arms in both countries. However, India
and China continue to battle for
dominance in cyberspace as well as for
access to resources and markets.
While this means that having the USA
remain the dominant global power is in
India’s interest, China might soon become
number two in the global pecking order.
Thus, one option for India is not to align
itself with the USA but instead swing
between the USA and China. As long as
the USA-China relationship is tense, India
can leverage it to improve its relationship
It is important for India’s political leaders
to realise the beneﬁt of swinging between
the two if India is to achieve this
NAVIGATING BETWEEN WORLD POWERS
Photo Overleaf: CC by Danny Howard
“To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, India's
options toward the United States and China
must always be greater than their options
toward each other. It serves our purposes
best if we maintained closer relations with
each side than they did with each other.”
-Nitin Pai, Director of Takshashila Institution
Cartels ensure ﬁxed prices by coming to
an agreement over market shares and
total industrial output. India is on the
wrong side of international cartels most of
the time, and it is in our strong economic
interest to champion the cause of free
global trade. One such cartel -
Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC), has successfully
controlled the global oil market for over
To ensure economic growth in the long
run, India will have to do its best to
destabilise OPEC, or at least secure
Cartels can be broken when a
technological breakthrough makes new
sources viable. The shale revolution in the
US is one such breakthrough that can
break oil cartels.
The lifting of economic sanctions on Iran,
a major non-OPEC oil producer will also
help countries like India. New discoveries
of oil reserves in the Arctic region can also
On the demand side, a change in the
energy mix can lower dependence on
cartels like OPEC.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE CARTELS
Photo Overleaf: CC by alex.ch
THE CHANGING GEOECONOMIC ORDER
Photo Overleaf: CC by Peter Liu
In recent years, the Washington
Consensus has represented the dominant
aspirational geoeconomic order. This
order is based on free markets, public
spending cuts, trade liberalisation and
privatisation of state enterprises.
International organisations like IMF, World
Bank and World Trade Organisation
(WTO) have been strong advocates of this
However, the status quo is quickly
altering. Given that norms are outcomes
of a combination of domestic politics,
ideological clashes, intellectual
developments, and possibly historical
learning, there is no guarantee that we will
see greater support for free trade and
Even discussions about the Washington
Consensus versus the East Asian model
appear antiquated now. The focus has
now shifted to reduction of inequality
following Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the
India, on its growth path, will intersect
with all these geoeconomic frameworks.
It will be important for everyone to get a
better grip on the mechanics of both how
India’s growth affects the world and how
the international developments inﬂuence
We can no longer afford to be oblivious to
the balance of power across our national
frontiers. The age-old grand strategy of
keeping the country together must shed
its sub continental preoccupation and
also concern itself with maximising and
projecting national power.
One such development is the emergence
of China, a civilisational power with a
clashing geopolitical worldview and a
competing political model. To the extent
that international norms are shaped by
power, China will use its inﬂuence to
change such norms in its favour, and
attempt to make others, including India,
play by its rules.
India may have to project power abroad
to deliver prosperity at home.
The dominant view among the members
of India's strategic community is that
India lacks a strategic culture. The
scholars who lamented the lack of a
strategic culture were perhaps looking for
Alexandrian or expansionist elements as
However, India's strategic culture exists. It
has developed and pursued a grand
strategy that can simply be described as
"keep the country united”.
Unfortunately, this preoccupation with
unity has blinded India to the need to be
aware of developments beyond the
INDIA’S GRAND STRATEGY
Photo Overleaf: CC by Adaptorr-‐ Pllug
A MULTI-POLAR WORLD IN THE MAKING
Photo Overleaf: CC by Francois Proulx
Even as the United States remains the
pre-eminent global power, Washington
seems either too preoccupied, reluctant
or incapable of using its clout to enforce
norms and punish transgressions even by
Without US power, the nearly 70-year old
UN system would collapse. Britain and
France are no longer the kind of powers
that can get Russia, China and other
major countries to play by the rules
agreed to in 1945.
States that have the power, or the allies,
to do what they want and get away with it
are beginning to do actually so as
evidenced in Syria, Ukraine and the South
It is also becoming clear that despite its
massive global inﬂuence, China may not
assume the USSR’s place as one of the
two hegemonic global powers.
India therefore, might be staring at a
couple of decades of a "polycentric
world", where a number of regional
powers have enough room to maneuver
in their respective neighborhoods. Some
of these maneuvers could then set off
ripples across a larger geography, some
of which might affect India.
As such, India will have to constantly
work out and revise game plans for the
contingency that such scenarios may pan
Kukil Bora, “Mark Zuckerberg Meets Narendra
Modi: Facebook CEO Assures Contribution to
Digital India Initiative” International Business
Times. 11 Oct 2014. Web.
“TRAI Annual Report 2012-13”, Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India.
“FIFA Secretary General and AIFF launch
strategic plan for Indian football”, Football
Development, FIFA.com. 15 Oct 2014. Web.
Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook-led
project, Internet.org to help provide
internet access to all of India.
In the information age, access to internet
allows people from all over the world to
compete on a level playing ﬁeld. Less
than 300 million Indians have access to
internet but this number is likely to rapidly
grow as technology spreads through the
country. Over 900 million Indians have cell
phones, indicating that there is great
potential for internet use in India.
Greater access to internet would need
improved infrastructure, lower costs and
widespread acceptance of new
technology. Making access to internet
akin to a basic right could shape the
course of the Indian economy.
RIGHT TO INTERNET
Number of Cell Phone Users
(Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)
Photo Overleaf: CC by twi[er.com/ma[wi1s0n
Global messaging services are growing at
a rapid rate. While apps like WhatsApp
gained popularity for increasing personal
connectivity, businesses are now starting
to pay attention.
WhatsApp provides an easy way for a
company to communicate with staff. For
companies looking to cut costs, services
like WhatsApp and Skype provide
While WhatsApp is predominantly used
for informal communication, its increasing
use in the business arena means that it
could soon be commonly used for ofﬁcial
purposes. There is great potential for
businesses to do everything from
organising events to providing customer
service on WhatsApp.
BUSINESS ON WHATSAPP
Photo Overleaf: CC by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Just as it is impossible to ask people to pay
for breathing the air around them, news
agencies have been unable to get people to
pay to consume their product in India.
People want to read news online, but are
not always interested in paying for it.
Similarly, television sources also end up
relying on advertisement revenue to pay for
News organisations will have to reevaluate
their operating model, as every reader can
end up being a free rider. The use of
advertisements is giving diminishing returns,
and paywalls & volunteer contributions have
only worked rarely.
When users do not want to pay for the
news, whoever else pays for it can try to
attach a few strings.
The viability and the credibility of news are
both at stake thanks to the internet, smart
phones and a changed technological
How news media remains vibrant,
independent and successful in this age
remains an unsolved challenge. HBO, The
Economist and a few other news and
entertainment sources are able to make
consumers pay for what they read or
watch. News organisations will have to
discover means to stay proﬁtable in the
FUTURE OF JOURNALISM
Photo Overleaf: CC by epSos.de
India is ranked 159 in the FIFA rankings,
and has never progressed past the ﬁrst
round of qualiﬁcations. In October 2014,
FIFA declared India to be a priority
country in Asian football development.
FIFA seeks to revise the framework of
Indian football over the next ten years
with the eventual goal of qualiﬁcation to
the World Cup Finals.
India inaugurated its football
championship, the Indian Super League
(ISL) in 2013. The ISL has clearly stated
that it wants India to qualify for the 2026
World Cup which FIFA strongly supports.
Indian football will need a complete
overhaul to achieve its goal. Success
stories of Spain and Iceland indicate that
youth involvement at a grassroots level is
an essential factor.
QUALIFYING FOR THE WORLD CUP FINALS
“We are investing a lot in this country
because we believe in its huge potential. It’s
a fast growing economy with 1.2 billion
people. There’s deﬁnitely space for other
sports than cricket.”
Jérôme Valcke, Secretary General of FIFA
Photo Overleaf: CC by US Department of State
World Bank database. Retrieved November
Mukul Asher, “Re-thinking MGNREGA”,
Pragati. Oct 2014.
Narayan Ramchandran, “What it takes to make
in India”, Live Mint. 19 Oct 2014
“Move to open up government jobs for
technocrats, specialists”, The Economic Times.
4 Nov 2014. Web.
Innovation in agricultural technology will
result in an increase in the productivity
levels of India’s agricultural sector. As
productivity increases, the need for labour
will decrease allowing people employed in
agricultural areas to seek employment in
the manufacturing or service sectors.
The agriculture sector accounts for 47
percent of the labour force but only 18
percent of GDP. The movement of labour
out of the agricultural sector could speed
up India’s journey towards being a high-
income country by increasing GDP.
Many young adults entering the workforce
in rural areas are choosing not to enter
agriculture. Employment in other sectors
for millions of new people every year
remains an unsolved challenge for India.
SMALLER AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
Employment in Agriculture
(World Bank database)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
As the number of people employed in the
Indian agricultural sector decreases, the
employment levels in the manufacturing
and service sectors are expected to grow.
Typically, countries like the USA and
Germany saw their agricultural labour
move on to the manufacturing industry
resulting in a period of high industrial
growth and increases in median income.
However, India never experienced the
manufacturing boom. Instead India is one
of the ﬁrst to have had services-led job
creation and economic growth. It is not
yet clear if the service sector can absorb
all the extra labour from agriculture. This
could result in a big increase in
unemployment levels in India and slow its
ABSORBING EXCESS LABOUR
(World Bank Indicators)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Raj Singh
There is currently a big debate on the
legalisation of prostitution. Proponents like
the All India Network of Sex Workers argue
that engaging in prostitution is a choice and
should have have the same beneﬁts and
rights as other occupations. The National
Commission for Women states that a
regulated industry could reduce forcible
However, as a hot button issue, it is not one
that is appealing to lawmakers. Any political
party that is in power is unlikely to champion
the legalisation of prostitution during its reign.
The lack of political support decreases the
odds of real reform happening. Despite loud
voices from NGOs and other groups that
want the sex trade to be out in the open,
politically, it is a long shot.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Mukul Bha:a
The Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has not been
successful in increasing income
proportional to the economic resources
Reforming the scheme could involve
evaluating the merits of moving towards
skill development instead of welfare. This
will help the beneﬁciaries to have a
sustainable livelihood as well as acquire
assets and subsequently wealth. The
reformulation of the scheme should
include refocusing it towards outcomes
instead of inputs.
The success of MGNREGA will be
determined by an increase in the number
of people who no longer opt for it.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Eileen Delhi
What if the Government hired trained professionals?
During the independence movement and
in the early days of the Indian republic,
the most talented people were working
within government in various capacities.
This does not hold true today. The
talented and the trained now opt for jobs
outside of the government. How can the
government utilise this reservoir of talent
currently outside its ambit?
Many contemporary government
functions like telecom regulation, cyber
security and environmental risk
management are complex technical
tasks. Such tasks are best suited to
administrators who understand the
Lateral entry schemes or Short Service
Commissions for talented technocrats
can help bridge the governance gap.
The government acknowledges this. In
November 2014, the Union Government
asked all ministries to carry out an
exercise for identifying posts that require
people with specialised or technical
As of today, various ministries have ad-
hoc mechanisms for appointing Ofﬁcers
on Special Duty (OSD) for jobs requiring
As governmental functions get
complicated in a radically networked
society, a formal mechanism to hire the
best equipped will become imperative for
efﬁciency and effectiveness.
GOOD GOVERNANCE NEEDS SPECIALISTS
Photo Overleaf: sourced from imagegranted.com
Mukul Asher, “India’s Budget 2014-15”,
Pragati. 18 Jul 2014.
Atish Patel, “How would India handle an Ebola
outbreak?”, Wall Street Journal Blog. 17 Oct
Gardiner Harris, “Study Reassesses Dengue’s
Impact on India”, New York Times. 7 Oct 2014.
Based on remarks presented in panel at the
Takshashila-Hudson Conference held in
Bangalore on 2 August on Shaping India’s New
Nitin Pai, “Economic ties with China? Modi
must move closer with caution”, Rediff.com. 15
Anto T Joseph, “China’s $20 billion investment
falls short of Japan’s $35 biillion”, DNA India.
19 Sept 2014.
The focus of the 2014-15 Budget on tax
administration, and on reducing compliance
costs of taxes and is a welcome change for
The key tax administration points in the
Budget proposal can be summarised as
• Fresh cases under the retrospective
taxation measures introduced in 2012
are unlikely to be pursued
• While retrospective taxation was not
withdrawn but the scope of Advanced
Tax Rulings was expanded
• India’s Transfer pricing regulations need
to be more consistent with international
However, there is a need for far reaching
changes in the spirit, purpose, organisational
structures, skill sets, internal work processes,
external communication and dispute
management of tax organisations involving
both direction and indirect taxes.
Greater synergy between the two (including
sharing of certain services to save costs),
and emphasis on functional specialisation in
their activities are needed.
There is a need for far reaching changes in
internal work processes, external
communication and dispute management of
tax organisations. This requires tax rules and
regulations that are sensitive to economic
and commercial conditions, and which are
system-oriented and not individual-oriented.
INDIAN TAX ADMINISTRATION
Photo Overleaf: CC by 401(K) 2012
India has yet to be hit really hard by a global
epidemic. India’s large population,
inadequate health care and absence of a
proper sanitation system would be hugely
problematic in the face of something like
Clearly there is a huge need for an Indian
equivalent to the American Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in
order to properly handle a pandemic.
India reportedly has 300 million severe
dengue cases than are ofﬁcially disclosed by
the government. India has had dengue since
before Independence and yet has failed to
completely eradicate the disease. Nigeria
was able to successfully contain its Ebola
outbreak by September 2014. It seems
unlikely that India will have similar success
rates in the face of a pandemic.
DEALING WITH PANDEMICS
Photo Overleaf: CC by European Commission DG ECHO
Probability Distribution of Importing [Ebola] Cases
MOBS Lab, Oct 2014
India is less at risk of importing the infection than those
countries because of low air traﬃc with West Africa,
but the country is 21st in a list of 30 nations most likely
to see an Ebola case, even if air traﬃc is reduced by
Should it be easier to hire and ﬁre people in India?
For India to transition to a modern
economy, creation of good quality jobs is
imperative. This requires a modern labour
market, which currently suffers from
extremely restrictive laws. This hinders
industrial development, discourages the
growth of businesses and encourages the
growth of the informal sector.
Two essential counterparts to employment
are education and employability. Educated
unemployment and shortage of completely
skilled labour co-exist in India, so there is a
need to develop skill sets to both match
the supply with the demand, and prepare
the supply for the demand. This will create
an infrastructure of opportunity that can put
India on par with other modern economies.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Boaz
Original data from NSS Employment and Unemployment
Surveys adjusted for population censuses by IGIDR
Share of Total
2009-10 (in %)
Doctors per 1000
One of the biggest challenges to healthcare
in India is that the ratio of qualiﬁed doctors
to the population is very low, because
medical education and new entries to the
medical profession currently suffer from
overregulation, by bodies which do not
share the public interest in populating the
industry with competing practitioners.
It is important for this industry in particular
to be competitive and rigourous because of
the huge information gap that exists
between the consumer and the service
provider. For reliable and high quality
healthcare service, therefore, the practice
of medicine and healthcare cannot be
dependent on and linked to the
management and regulation of medical
CREATING MORE DOCTORS
Photo Overleaf: CC by Calcu[a Rescue
World Bank database, 2012
As identiﬁed by the Make in India initiative,
India needs to create the right innovation
ecosystem to enable the growth of its
manufacturing sector, which is essential for
global competitiveness in the economy.
Such an ecosystem considers factors like
regulation, infrastructure, skill development,
technology, funding, and exit mechanisms.
A developed and globally competitive
manufacturing sector is advantageous to
India because it requires the acquisition of
skill sets that can then be transferred,
further aiding the growth of the sector.
However, it is also important to increase
the ease of doing business in India to
ensure that output is created for domestic
use. An integrated domestic market is an
important indicator of the success of the
manufacturing sector in India.
The Make in India initiative has the following
• An increase in manufacturing sector
growth to 12-14% per annum over
the medium term.
• An increase in the share of
manufacturing in the country’s Gross
Domestic Product from 16% to 25%
• To create 100 million additional jobs
by 2022 in manufacturing sector.
MAKE IN INDIA INITIATIVE
Photo Overleaf: CC by BBC World Service
Prime Minister Modi has said that India
needs latrines more than it needs temples.
Throughout its history, sanitation in India
has received funding from the Union
government; as a consequence, India’s
approach towards sanitation has been
programmatic and supply driven.
Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan needs to
consider the signiﬁcance of open
defecation as a practice that is
unconnected to the presence of latrines.
The Finance Minister has called for an
increased budget for sanitation and the
proposal that every household will have a
latrine by 2019. In addition to this, the
campaign to end open defecation needs to
focus on behaviour change, and monitor
usage of latrines as well as construction.
Photo Overleaf: CC by Gates Founda:on
Sanitation, Quality, Use, Access & Trends (SQUAT) Survey,
Research Institute for Compassionate Economics
While inﬂation, revenue deﬁcit, labour
reform and subsides remain important
macroeconomic issues that the
government should focus on, economic
reform should not neglect smaller and
more domestic issues – integration of state
economies and ease of trade
internationally. These are as important as
the integration of India into the global
One of the reforms which aims to do this is
the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a
uniform value added tax that is applied at
every stage of sale or purchase, preventing
proﬁts to be made of tax and creating a
more transparent and efﬁcient tax
This system will increase coordination
between the Union and states, and reduce
the friction in transport and delivery of
goods and services across states in India.
India should examine similar domestic level
reforms that can have greater long term
beneﬁts to its economy.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Photo Overleaf: CC by Miran Rijavec
The information revolution has made
everyone both a producer and a consumer
of information, taking most consumption
practices out of the control of the
traditional providers of information. Pirated
material is widely available and difﬁcult to
regulate because sites that are shut down
can come back through different IP
Given this technology, the meaning of
‘property’ changes. Open sources of free
art or software ensure the highest reach
and minimum cost to the ‘producers’. This
can be advantageous to corporates like
software developers, who can utilise
channels that resist intellectual property, to
maximise their potential consumer base.
Pirated software improves user awareness
of the systems and turn all ‘pirates’ into
Firms therefore now have the technology to
take advantage of intellectual property theft
and use it as long term investments.
Constant modiﬁcation of what constitutes
successful business practice, to keep up
with technology, is imperative for a modern
Photo Overleaf: CC by Steve Jervetson
Can China build another Bandra-Worli Sea Link?
Xi Jinping on his visit to India in September
2014 expressed Chinese interest in making
huge infrastructure investments in India
over the next ﬁve years. Investing in
infrastructure like highways and bridges
gives China a good return on their surplus
funds and reduces India’s cost of ﬁnancing
for infrastructure growth. Infrastructure
investments also do not share the same
dangers as becoming dependent on
Chinese technology or undermining
This investment plan is an optimistic step
up from India’s refusal to allow investments
in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust by Hong-
Kong based Hutchinson Port Holding over
a decade ago.
Given India’s worsening trade imbalance,
the plans show promise for India. At the
same time, China’s intention to “more
resolutely advancing or protecting China's
territorial and resource interests and claims”
should not be ignored.
CHINESE INVESTMENT IN INDIAN INFRASTRUCTURE
Photo Overleaf: CC by Rckr88
“Obama’s Speech on Drone Policy”, The New
York Times. 23 May 2013. Web.
“Clouds of Hypocrisy”, The Economist. 24 Jun
Pranay, Kotasthane, “A solemn reminder,
courtesy Pakistan”, Pragati. 15 Nov 2014.
Mehtab Haider, “32 plants to produce
40,000MW: PAEC”, The News. 27 Feb 2014.
Nitin Pai, “Climate Change and National
Secuirity”, The Indian National Interest. April
Nitin Pai, “Buying into superstition instead of
military strategy”, Business Standard. 1 April
Rohan Joshi and Pavan Srinath, “Spending for
a modern armed force”, Pragati. 14 Mar 2014.
The use of drones in the military has
proliferated greatly in recent times. Their
roles have evolved from surveillance to
air-to-ground attack roles against targets,
largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Future conﬂicts fought between more
advanced nations are likely to see the
widespread use of more sophisticated
and lethal combat drones.
The US, UK, Israel and China all
manufacture armed drones, with India
buying a number of them from Israel, and
the DRDO involved in a few indigenous
projects. India might need to consider
encouraging further private sector local
development of such systems. Can it
catch up with established players?
ATTACK OF THE DRONES
“New technology raises profound questions
— about who is targeted, and why; about
civilian casualties, and the risk of creating
new enemies; about the legality of such
strikes under U.S. and international law;
about accountability and morality.”
-Barack Obama, President of USA
Photo Overleaf: CC by Qine:Q Group
Globally, there are general beliefs about
religions that mark them as inherently
peaceful or innately violent. Buddhism is a
clear example of a religion that is widely
believed to be peaceful especially when
compared to a religion like Islam that is
now being equated with violence.
However, the perceived predisposition to
violence stands falsiﬁed the moment we
survey the Sri Lankan civil war where a
Buddhist nation-state that perpetrated
systemic violence on religious minorities
discovered unwavering justiﬁcations from
monks and ancient Sri Lankan Buddhist
texts to vindicate its stance. In the same
vein, the Rohingya Muslims ﬁnd
themselves at the receiving end of
systematic discrimination in a Buddhist
Thus, it would be simplistic to assume
that the adherents of Hinduism, Sikhism
or Jainism are somehow less prone to
using violence on account of their religion
Preventing religion from entering
the domain of the State should be a
target we must never take our eyes off.
Upholding a republican constitution that
afﬁrms fundamental individual rights must
become our supreme goal.
The good news is that for many of our
challenges, we do not need to reinvent
the wheel. Our constitution already
presents us with a template that can help
us ward off the evils of majoritarianism.
ROLE OF RELIGIONS IN CONFLICTS
Photo Overleaf: CC by epSos.de
The India-Pakistan relationship has long
been conﬂict-ridden and seems likely to
continue. Both heads of state, Narendra
Modi and Nawaz Sharif are under
pressure to stand up to the other.
This is further complicated by each
country’s nuclear weapon status. Neither
country has signed the Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) and it seems unlikely that
either country will make a unilateral
decision to back down on this issue.
India has stated its nuclear program was
developed for peaceful purposes but as
Pakistan plans to build 32 more nuclear
power plants, a peaceful future
relationship seems less likely.
Number of Nuclear Warheads
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 2014)
Photo Overleaf: CC by Jaume Escofet
Photo Overleaf: CC by Nagarjun Kandukuru
The last time war broke out purely over
water was 4500 years ago, between two
tribal states in Mesopotamia.
The next war over water might not be far,
both in time and location. The melting of
the Himalayan glaciers as a result of the
rise in the earth’s temperature will ﬁrst
increase the drainage through the major
river systems into the ocean, followed by
reduction in the their volumes once the
glaciers begin to disappear. It is projected
that some of the mightiest Himalayan
rivers might end up as seasonal,
monsoon-fed rivers like those in southern
It is possible to envisage that a water
deﬁcient Pakistan will continue to adopt
the proxy-war strategy in an attempt to
secure a more advantageous territorial
India must consider reviewing its strategic
doctrines to deter ‘water wars’. India’s
current “no ﬁrst use” nuclear doctrine
threatens punitive retaliation upon a
nuclear attack on Indian territory or on its
forces. While bringing water wars directly
inside the nuclear red line might be
disproportionately escalatory, a
commitment to the use of force in the
event of unilateral diversion of water
resources by the upper riparian is likely to
have a deterrent effect.
CONFLICTS TRIGGERED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
Photo Overleaf: CC by MendezEnrique
Sustained investment in military
modernisation accompanied by a determined
emphasis on achieving outcomes has never
been more important.
Glacial melt, rising sea levels and extreme
weather will exacerbate ongoing conﬂicts
and will require India to develop military
capabilities to address a range of new
strategic scenarios: from supporting
international co-operation, to managing
‘hot peace’, to outright military conﬂict.
As such, the use of military force—as is
the general case— should be the last
resort. If international climate change
negotiations succeed in creating a co-
operative atmosphere for problem-
solving, credible military capability serves
as an insurance policy.
Long-term defence policy planning should
ensure that the Indian armed forces have
the capability to address future climate-
CYBERWARFARE IN THE FUTURE
Photo Overleaf: CC by Eric Constan:neau
Conventional discussions on cyber
strategy have adopted the concepts and
terminology from traditional warfare
without always asking if they make sense
when applied to the cyber domain.
In many ways, this mirrors the 1940s and
'50s, when it was believed that nuclear
strategy was similar to conventional
military strategy, causing the Cold War
antagonists to develop ‘tactical’ nukes
and vast arsenals. It was decades before
the world understood that nuclear
strategy is more about strategic
deterrence than actual war ﬁghting.
Today, we are witnessing a militarisation
of cyberstrategy across the world, led by
China and the United States.
This poses a dilemma for us: while
premature militarisation might be wasteful
and risk unintended conﬂict, delayed
militarisation might cause us to repeat the
errors of the nuclear non-proliferation
treaty (NPT) negotiations.
Less obvious, and perhaps more
important, the government has realised
that it cannot develop the capacity to
govern cyberspace on its own. The
proposal to "set up a permanent
mechanism for private public partnership"
that taps into the expertise and human
resources available in the country, and not
just the government, could pave the way
for correcting India's governance deﬁcit.
CAPITAL INVESTMENTS IN INDIA’S ARMED FORCES
Photo Overleaf: CC by Jaskirat Singh Bawa
Capital outlays for defence acquisitions
have seen a systematic decline since
2010-11. The issue is exacerbated by the
large size of India’s armed forces.
All nations routinely reassess the size and
strength of their armed forces. In 2008,
Russia announced sweeping military
reforms that envisioned reducing the size
of its armed forces from 1.13 million to 1
However, not only are there no routine
assessments on the structure of India’s
armed forces, their size also continues to
grow rather inexplicably. This expansion
skews the revenue-to-capital ratio further
in favour of revenue allocations, and stalls
Photo Overleaf: CC by Prabhu B Doss
Indigenisation of defence production has
hitherto met with limited success. Even
offsets that require foreign suppliers to
spend part of the contract price in India
do not result in the transfer of knowledge,
skills and human capital that are essential
for India to build a modern defence
India could open its defence sector to
foreign investors in order to produce the
equipment our armed forces need.
The biggest argument for indigenisation is
that reliance on foreign suppliers is risky
because supplies can be withheld in
order to coerce us. That risk can be
mitigated if we procure military equipment
from countries with which India has
extensive economic ties, and vice versa.
Reducing the incongruence between our
top trading partners and our top arms
suppliers ought to be an important policy
Defence procurement has geopolitical
consequences as well. Awarding the
tender to the lowest bidder might be the
best method to resurface parade grounds
— but not for billion-dollar purchases of
equipment. Blacklisting companies from
friendly powers exposes India to
purchases from less friendly ones.