Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Kasab execution is reminder of Pakistani foot-dragging

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Nearly four years after the horrific Mumbai attacks that left over 160 dead, including six Americans, India put to death the lone surviving gunman, Pakistani citizen Ajmal Kasab.

The Indian government conducted the execution quietly at a facility in Pune. A senior commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group which directed the attacks from Pakistan, called Kasab a hero who would inspire more attacks.

The 10 perpetrators of the attacks had travelled from Pakistan by sea, and were armed with AK-56 automatic assault rifles, hand grenades, GPS devices, and cell phones. For nearly three days the attackers terrorised Mumbai, gunning down innocent civilians at a train station, hospital, two five-star hotels, a Jewish centre, and a restaurant frequented by Westerners.

Kasab hanging a resolute and prudent decision

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

By C. Uday Bhaskar

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman among the perpetrators of the Nov. 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai was executed by hanging at Pune’s Yerwada prison on Wednesday, bringing to judicial closure a high-profile case that had generated both anger and anguish in India.

Why online is the right way forward in life insurance

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Insurance in India is divided into two broad categories — life insurance and non-life insurance (also called general insurance). For the record, most retail non-life products such as health insurance, car insurance and travel insurance are already sold completely online by most insurers.

The year ahead: expectations and apprehensions

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The economy is presently under stress and there are no indications that recovery is underway in spite of recent reforms announced by the government. India is not alone in under-performance. But it has fared too badly for its own reasons.

Xi Jinping at the helm in Beijing, responsibility looms large

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The carefully orchestrated and much awaited leadership transition in Beijing was formally concluded on Thursday with the elevation of Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

Is finance too competitive?

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The opinions expressed are his own

Many economists are advocating for regulation that would make banking “boring” and uncompetitive once again. After a crisis, it is not uncommon to hear calls to limit competition. During the Great Depression, the head of the United States National Recovery Administration argued that employers were being forced to lay off workers as a result of “the murderous doctrine of savage and wolfish competition, [of] dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost.” He appealed for a more collusive business environment, with the profits made from consumers to be shared between employers and workers.

Concerns about the deleterious effects of competition have always existed, even among those who are not persuaded that government diktat can replace markets, or that intrinsic human goodness is a more powerful motivator than monetary reward and punishment. Where the debate has been most heated, however, concerns the effects of competition on incentives to innovate.

Exit Afghanistan?

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The opinions expressed are his own

In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his re-election, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will now end. The line was greeted with prolonged applause — and understandably so. In fact, this ill-advised war — launched on the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution — has been grinding on for 11 years, making it the longest in American history.

At the beginning, the war was aimed at eliminating Al Qaeda, vanquishing the Taliban, and transforming Afghanistan into something resembling a Western-style nation-state. With none of these goals fully achieved, America’s intervention — like every other intervention in Afghanistan’s history — is ending unsatisfactorily.

US-India strategic partnership set to grow in second Obama administration

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The re-election of President Barack Obama is likely to be more promising and fruitful for the growing strategic partnership between India and the United States. During the second Obama administration, his India policies are expected to be upgraded further and there would possibly be more tangible outcomes from policy pronouncements made in the last four years.

India Market Weekahead: Trading subdued but markets back on track

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Last week was a volatile one with the stock market poised for a surge but the Nifty eventually closed in the red with a loss of 0.20 percent at 5686.

Higher growth can help lower deficit

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s bloating budget deficit has been a matter of concern. It means more borrowing by the government which results in overcrowding of the debt market and consequently, a higher rate of interest for the private sector. It also raises the rate on borrowings from abroad due to the downgrading by rating agencies which is bound to follow.

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