Budget 2014: When it comes to the fiscal deficit, Jaitley has done a Chidambaram

 Fostering Public Leadership - World Economic Forum - India Economic Summit 2010

Vivek Kaul

Alfred Hitchcock, the British director, who taught Hollywood how to make thrillers, once famously said: “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” On a lighter note, this rule should apply to the speeches that politicians make, as well.
Arun Jaitley in his maiden budget speech as the finance minister of India, junked Hitchcock’s bladder test and went on and on and on. Early on in his budget speech Jaitley said : “My predecessor has set up a very difficult task of reducing fiscal deficit to 4.1 per cent of the GDP in the current year. Considering that we had two years of low GDP growth, an almost static industrial growth, a moderate increase in indirect taxes, a large subsidy burden and not so encouraging tax buoyancy, the target of 4.1 per cent fiscal deficit is indeed daunting. Difficult, as it may appear, I have decided to accept this target as a challenge. One fails only when one stops trying.” Fiscal deficit is the difference between what a government earns and what it spends.
So, the question is how does Jaitley plan to meet the fiscal deficit target of Rs 5,31,177 crore or 4.1% of the GDP? Jaitley has assumed that tax receipts will go up by 16.9% to Rs 9,77,258 crore during the course of this financial year (April 2014 to March 2015). In the economic survey released yesterday, the economic growth for the current financial year has been projected to be at 5.4-5.9%. Governments projections typically tend out to be more optimistic than they actually turn out to be.
In this scenario how feasible is an assumption of 16.9% growth in tax receipts? Jaitley’s predecessor P Chidambaram had assumed a growth of 19.2% in tax receipts for the last financial year. The actual growth turned out to be much lower at 12.7%. In a scenario of low growth and high inflation an assumption of 16.9% growth in tax receipts is highly optimistic and is unlikely to be achieved.
Chidambaram had gone about achieving a fiscal deficit of 4.6% of the GDP for the last financial year(April 2013 to March 2014) by largely doing two things. Subsidies on petroleum, food and fertilizer which should have been paid up by the government during the course of the last financial year, were postponed to this financial year. Estimates suggest that this amount was greater than Rs 1,00,000 crore.
Jaitley doesn’t seem to have taken this into account while working out the numbers. The total cost of subsidies for this financial year has been budgeted to be at Rs 2,55,707.62 crore. This is more or less similar to the last year’s number. Hence, unless subsidies are brought down majorly, which remains a politically unpopular move and inflationary in the short-term, this amount is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the subsidy commitments of the government. And if subsidises are not brought down, Jaitley will either have to let the fiscal deficit go up or like Chidambaram push their accounting to the next financial year.
The second thing Chidambaram did in order to achieve a fiscal deficit of 4.6% of GDP was to cut down on plan expenditure. The government expenditure is categorised into two kinds—planned and non planned. Planned expenditure is essentially money that goes towards creation of productive assets through schemes and programmes sponsored by the central government. Non-plan expenditure is an outcome of planned expenditure. For example, the government constructs a highway using money categorised as a planned expenditure. But the money that goes towards the maintenance of that highway is non-planned expenditure. Interest payments on debt, pensions, salaries, subsidies and maintenance expenditure are all non-plan expenditure.
As is obvious a lot of non-plan expenditure is largely regular expenditure that cannot be done away with. The government needs to keep paying salaries, pensions and interest on debt, on time. These expenses cannot be postponed. The only thing it can do is to postpone making the subsidy payments. Hence, when expenditure needs to be cut, it is the asset creating planned expenditure which typically faces the axe and that is not good for the overall economy. If one looks at the numbers Jaitley has assumed that is the direction we seem to be headed.
The planned expenditure target of the government during the last financial year was at Rs 5,55,322 crore. The actual planned expenditure came in at Rs 4,75,532 crore, which was close to Rs 80,000 crore or 14.4% lower. This is how the fiscal deficit of 4.6% of GDP was achieved.
Jaitley has set the total planned expenditure for the year at Rs 5,75,000 crore. It is highly likely that during the last few months of this financial year (i.e. the period between January and March 2015) Jaitley might like Chidambaram have to put a freeze on this expenditure, if he hopes to achieve the fiscal deficit target that he has set. And this can’t possibly be good for the Indian economy.
Another area where Jaitley could have been aggressive is the money that can be raised through the disinvestment of public sector companies. During the course of this financial year the government hopes to earn Rs 58,425 crore through disinvestment. Chidambaram had set a target for Rs 54,000 crore but managed to earn only around Rs 19,000 crore. The advantage that Jaitley has is that the stock market has been rallying for a while. Given this, the government could have been aggressive and set a disinvestment target of close to Rs 1,00,000 crore.
What makes the fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP further unrealistic is the legacy that the Congress led United Progressive Alliance has left for the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance. The fiscal deficit number for the first two months of this financial year(April-May 2014) does not look good at all. Numbers released by the Controller General of Accounts suggest that for April-May 2014, the fiscal deficit of the government has already touched Rs 2.41 lakh crore.
This works out at around 45% of the fiscal deficit target of Rs 5,31,177 crore that Jaitley has set. Hence, he has only around Rs 2,90,000 crore to play around with between June 2014 to March 2015. This, of course is not Jaitley’s fault.
To conclude, this was Jaitley’s chance of presenting the true financial situation of the Indian government. He seems to have lost that chance by projecting a higher revenue than the government is likely to earn and a lower expenditure than the government is likely to spend.
The article also appeared on www.firstbiz.com on July 10, 2014

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Modi govt is wrong, the hike in MSP of rice will lead to inflation

Paddy_Fields_The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has decided to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of rice by Rs 50 per quintal or 3.8% to Rs 1360, for this year. The MSP is the price at which the government buys rice from the farmers, through the Food Corporation of India(FCI) and other state government agencies.
The law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was confident that this decision will not fuel inflation. As he told the media “I do not think rise in MSP is directly linked to inflation. We are taking several measures to control inflation”.
While the increase in MSP of 3.8% is lower than the average increase of 9% per year in the MSP of rice since 2007-2008, Prasad’s statement is wrong on several counts. As economist Surjit Bhalla put it in
a November 2013 column in The Indian Express “For each 10 per cent rise in previous years’ procurement prices, there is a predicted 3.3 per cent increase in the current year CPI…When the government raises the MSP, the prices of factors of production involved in the production of MSP products — land and labour — also go up.”
Given this, even a 3.8% increase in the MSP of rice will translate into some inflation. Further, several states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, levy procurement taxes on the rice and wheat procured by the central government through FCI.
A recent article in
The Financial Express estimates that these “purchase levies account for 10-14.5% of the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the Centre on rice and wheat procurement.” Hence, when the MSP of rice goes up, these levies which are a certain percentage of the MSP, also go up. This in turn pushes up the price of rice.
Also, it is worth remembering here that the FCI, directly and through state government affiliates, procures rice and wheat from farmers at the MSP set by the government. It buys all the rice and wheat that farmers bring to it, as long as it meets a certain quality. Farmers have a ready buyer, and one who keeps increasing the price.
This has led to a situation where the government of India has become the biggest hoarder of rice and wheat. A
recent report in The Financial Express points out that “the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had rice stock of more than 28.2 million tonnes at the start of the month, which is more than the double the requirement under the strategic reserve norm.” Hence, it is not surprising that the price of rice in May 2014 rose by 12.75% in comparison to May 2013.
Earlier this month the government decided to sell around 5 million tonnes of rice in the open market. As and when this happens this will have some impact on the price of rice. But that effect will be negated with the government buying all the rice that lands up at its door and starts hoarding again in the months to come.
Take the case of last year when the MSP for rice was increased by 4.8% to Rs 1310 per kg. In October-November 2013, the inflation in the price of rice was at around 15%. The only possible explanation for this is the fact that the government bought much more rice than it needed to run its various programmes. Hence, a lesser amount of rice landed up in the open market and thus fuelled inflation.
Given these reasons, Ravi Shankar Prasad is wrong when he says that the decision to increase the MSP of rice will not fuel inflation. Having said that some amount of increase in the MSP of rice is necessary. The farmers also need to be paid more every year, given the high inflationary times that we live in. The only way for the government to ensure that it does not cause inflation is to buy the right amount of rice and wheat that it actually needs to run its various programmes and not more.
The article originally appeared on www.firstbiz.com on June 27, 2014

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Rail hike: India needs a bitter pill and Modi must not fall prey to ‘rollback’ culture


narendra_modiThe Narendra Modi government has come in for a lot of criticism for raising the railway fares. The criticism has been particularly acute in Mumbai, where the prices of suburban railway season tickets have doubled and in some cases even trebled. And this surely can’t mean acche din for the average Mumbaikar who travels by local trains daily and had voted overwhelmingly in the Lok Sabha elections for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.
Now there is talk about the government reconsidering the decision to increase railway season ticket prices. “The Railway Minister has assured us that the monthly season ticket decision will be reconsidered and a decision taken within 2-3 days,”
said BJP MP Kirit Somaya after meeting the railway minister Sadanand Gowda today (i.e. June 24, 2014). This might very well turn out to be the case given that assembly elections are scheduled in Maharashtra later this year.
The Modi government will have to take a spate of unpopular decisions over the next few months, if it hopes to do something about the stagnating economic environment. These decisions might include passing on the increase in the price of oil to the end consumers. T
he price of the Indian basket of crude oil stood at $111.86 per barrel on June 20, 2014. It had averaged at $106.72 per barrel between May 29 and June 11, 2014.
The price of oil has gone up rapidly in June 2014 because of a threat of a war in Iraq. India imports nearly four fifth of the oil it consumes. The government will have to allow the oil marketing companies to pass on this increase in price to the end consumers. If it does not do that then it will have to compensate the oil marketing companies for the “extra” under-recoveries they face on the sale of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene. This would lead to an increase in government expenditure and hence, the fiscal deficit. Fiscal deficit is the difference between what a government earns and what it spends. The government is already precariously placed on the fiscal deficit front. The move to allow the oil marketing companies to increase prices is unlikely to go down well with the middle class.
The government will also have to make sure that it does not increase the minimum support price of rice and wheat at the same rate as the Congress led UPA government had done in the past. This had been a major reason in fuelling food inflation. So, if the government is serious about controlling food inflation this is a step that it will have to take. This move is unlikely to go down well with farmers.
Over and above this, the government will have to go aggressive on selling stakes it holds in public sector companies. This will help the government in controlling the fiscal deficit. Any attempts to sell stakes in the companies it owns is unlikely to go down well with the trade unions and given that they are likely to protest.
The broader point is that various steps that the government is likely to take over the next few months, will be fairly unpopular in nature. And given this there will be pressure on it to “rollback” these moves. In fact, as has been in the case of the railway fare hike, the pressure to “rollback” will come not only from the opposition parties, but also from within the BJP. Nevertheless, these steps are required if the economic environment is to brought back into some shape.
Given this, the government can take some inspiration from Paul Volcker. Volcker was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States, the American central bank, between 1979 and 1987. When Volcker assumed office in August 1979, things were looking bad for the United States on the inflation front. The rate of inflation was at 12 percent.In fact, inflation had steadily been going up over the years. Between 1964 and 1968, inflation had averaged 2.6 percent per year. This had almost doubled to five percent over the next four years, that is, 1969 to 1973. And it had increased to eight percent, between 1973 and 1978. In the first nine months of 1979, it had averaged at 10.75 percent. Such high inflation during a period of peace had not been experienced before. Volcker was not going to sit around doing nothing and came out all guns blazing to kill inflation, which by March 1980 had touched a high of 15 percent. He kept increasing the interest rate till it had touched 20 percent by January 1981. This had an impact on the inflation, and it fell to below 10 percent in May and June 1981.
The prime lending rate or the rate at which banks lend to their best customers, had been greater than 20 percent for most of 1981Increasing interest rates did have a negative impact on economic growth and led to a recession. In 1982, the unemployment rate crossed 10 percent, the highest it had been since 1940 and nearly 12 million Americans lost their jobs. During the course of the same year, nearly 66,000 companies filed for bankruptcy, the highest since the Great Depression. And between 1981 and 1983 the economy lost $570 billion of output.
Of course, all this made Volcker a very unpopular man. As Neil Irwin writes in
The Alchemist—Inside the Secret World of Central Bankers “Automakers were…livid: High interest rates meant that consumers couldn’t afford to buy cars…They [i.e. the automakers] mailed Volcker keys to unsold vehicles. But farmers may have had it worst of all. During the late 1970s, many had taken out loans to buy more land on the assumption that crop prices would keep rising at an extraordinary clip. When food prices fell and interest rates rose, people across Middle America lost their farms. They protested by driving their tractors to Washington and circling the Federal Reserve’s grand marble headquarters.”
The politicians also protested. As Irwin writes ““We’re destroying the American Dream,” said Republican representative George Hansen of Idaho. A building-trades magazine accused Volcker of “premeditated and cold-blooded murder of millions of small businesses.””
But Volcker stayed put and finally managed to bring the inflation monster under control with the bitter pill that he administered. By July 1982, inflation had more than halved from its high of 15 percent in March 1980.The steps taken by Volcker ensured that the inflation fell to 3.2 percent by 1983. After this, the United States saw solid and almost non-stop economic growth till 2000, when the dotcom bubble burst.
Interestingly, Volcker may not have been very popular in the first few years of his tenure, but now he is among the few men in finance who continues to be well respected.
At certain points of time economies need to be administered the bitter pill if they are to be healed back to health again. India is in a similar position currently. Tough economic decisions will have to be made and these decisions will be unpopular. And given that there will be protests. When there are protests the easy way is to “rollback” whatever is being protested against. But that will only postpone the problem.
The Narendra Modi government of course cannot operate totally like Volcker. Volcker was not elected by the people and he did not have to explain what he did directly to the American citizens. He did have a lot of explaining to do to the American Congress though.
But what the Modi government can learn from Volcker is that at times it is important to administer the bitter pill to the economy and not get bogged down by the protests. The important point here is that the Modi government needs to communicate more and more in order to explain its decisions to the people. This can be done through the social media, ministers talking to the media and even putting out detailed press releases. Also, it should not fall prey to the “rollback” culture made so popular by the Congress.
The article originally appeared on www.firstbiz.com on June 25, 2014
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at
[email protected])


Why the Modi govt finances won’t see acche din any time soon

Fostering Public Leadership - World Economic Forum - India Economic Summit 2010
In a report titled
How Will the New Government Cut the Fiscal Deficit dated June 16, 2014, Chetan Ahya and Upasana Chachra of Morgan Stanley write that “a national fiscal deficit below 5% of GDP would allow real borrowing costs for the private sector to decline meaningfully and encourage private investment.”
Fiscal deficit is the difference between what a government earns and what it spends. The national fiscal deficit includes the deficit run by the central as well as the state governments. In the financial year 2013-2014 (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014) this number stood at 7.6% of the GDP.
This number the Morgan Stanley analysts believe should be less than 5% of the GDP. Governments make up for their fiscal deficit through borrowing. A lower fiscal deficit means lower borrowing by the government (s) leaving more money on the table for everyone else to borrow.
Also, with the government borrowing less, the interest rates are likely to come down. Further, businesses are more likely to borrow at lower interest rates and this will encourage investment. Or so goes the story.
If the national fiscal deficit has to come down the onus lies primarily on the central government to cut down on its fiscal deficit. As Ahya and Chachra point out “The state governments’ deficit is closer to the trend line…Hence…the bulk of the reduction in the fiscal deficit needs to be at the central government level.”
The question is how well placed is the central government to cut down on its fiscal deficit? Cutting down on subsidies is one option that is suggested by the analysts. Subsidies stood at 1% of the GDP in mid 1990s and since then have ballooned to 2.3% of the GDP.
The trouble with this argument is that a lot of subsidies are offered by the government under programmes which have been cleared by the Parliament. So these subsidies cannot be suddenly done away with.
What can be cut are the so called “oil subsidies”. The central government taxes oil products and earns revenue in the process. Over the years, a major portion of this revenue has been used to pay oil marketing companies for the “under-recoveries” they suffer on selling diesel, cooking gas and kerosene.
the year 2012-2013 the central government earned Rs 1,17,422 crore by taxing oil products and oil companies. It paid out Rs 1,00,000 crore in the form of cash assistance to oil marketing companies for their “under-recoveries”. What this basically tells us is that unlike earlier, the government did not gain much from taxing oil. In 2012-2013, the gain was only Rs 17,422 crore.
If the fiscal deficit has to come down, this gain has to go up. This can only happen if oil marketing companies are allowed to increase the price of oil products. The trouble is that given the amount of central and state taxes built into the price of oil, Indians are already paying one of the highest prices in the world for these products.
Also, an increase in the price of these products will add to inflation. For a party whose main election plank was “
acche din aane waale hain” this can’t be a good sign. What makes the situation even more difficult is the war in Iraq which has led to a spike in the price of oil. The price for the Indian basket of crude oil stood at $111.25 per barrel on June 18, 2014. It had averaged at $106.72 per barrel for the period between May 29 and June 11, 2014. Hence, in a matter of days, the price has gone up by more than 4% in a matter of days.
If oil marketing companies are allowed to pass on this increase to the end consumer it would lead to higher inflation (including higher food inflation). If they are not it would mean increasing “under-recoveries” for these companies. The government will have to compensate the oil marketing companies for these “under-recoveries” and this in turn would lead to a higher fiscal deficit. Also, it is worth remembering that the war in Iraq might continue and lead to the price of oil shooting up further.
What does not help the cause of the government is the fact that the Congress led UPA government had postponed expenses of greater than Rs 1,00,000 crore to this financial year (this includes food, fertizlier and oil subsidies). This money will have to come from somewhere. Ideally, the government should settle this expenditure during the course of this year and try and start on a clean slate from the next financial year, even if it leads to a higher fiscal deficit.
Another major factor that not many people seem to be talking about is the fact that the recapitalization of public sector banks will need a lot of money in the years to come. The
Report of The Committee to Review Governance of Boards of Banks in India (better known as the PJ Nayak committee) released in May 2014, estimates that between January 2014 and March 2018 “public sector banks would need Rs. 5.87 lakh crores of tier-I capital.”
The report further points out that “a
ssuming that the Government puts in 60 per cent (though it will be challenging to raise the remaining 40 per cent from the capital markets), the Government would need to invest over Rs. 3.50 lakh crores.” That clearly is a lot of money. If the government spreads it over a period four years, it would mean an expense of around Rs 90,000 crore (Rs 3,50,000 crore/4) per year. Where is this money going to come from?
The situation becomes even more difficult given that the situation on the tax revenue front has been very weak. As Ahya and Chachra of Morgan Stanley point out “g
ross tax revenue has declined from the peak of 11.9% of GDP in F2008 to 10% of GDP in F2014.” The analysts go on to suggest that the government should look to “roll back the excise duty cuts for the automobile industry that were introduced in the interim budget.” But that would mean hitting the automobile industry, which in the recent past has looked like coming out of the doldrums that it has been in for a while. Car sales grew by 3.08% in May 2014.
One way out for the government is to start to look at disinvesting its stake in public sector companies in a very serious way, through the next few years. The disinvestment target in the interim budget presented by P Chidambaram had been set at Rs 56,925 crore. This is clearly not enough. The government needs to aim at much more than this. One way of doing this is to cede managerial control and sell out lock, stock and barrel to the private sector. In that scenario the government is even likely to get a premium above the current market price of the company’s stock. But that is not going to go down well with the employee unions. Further in a lot of companies the government will need a new legislation which will allow it to drop its stake below 50%. This includes nationalized banks as well as Coal India.
Having said that it is not a good practice to finance current expenditure by selling things that one owns. But in the short run that is the only way out for the government.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected]

Please cut our losses

narendra_modiVivek Kaul  

The investment industry suddenly got into an overdrive in the aftermath of the Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) winning a majority in the 16th Lok Sabha on its own. Both Indian and foreign stock brokerages immediately upped their Sensex/Nifty targets and categorically stated that the Indian stock market is ready for its next big bull run. Of the many targets bandied around, the most optimistic target was that of Sensex touching 35,000 points by the end of December 2015. It currently quotes at around 24,200 points.
Now, every bull run has a theory behind it. What is the theory behind this bull run? The investing community is of the opinion that the new Modi government will take measures to set the Indian economy back on track. But that is nothing more than hope and hope alone can’t  go a long way.
In the noise of the elections what everybody seems to have forgotten is that the Indian economy is still in a bad shape. The gross domestic product (GDP) numbers that were released on May 30 showed that economic growth, as measured by the growth in GDP for the year ending March 31, 2014, stood at 4.7 per cent. It was the second straight year of less than 5 per cent economic growth. Rather worryingly, the manufacturing sector contracted by 0.7 per cent during the course of the year.
Setting this right will be a major long-term challenge for the Modi government. Economic history clearly shows that countries which have moved from being developing to developed at a fast rate have done so by creating jobs in the manufacturing sector. That hasn’t happened in India as yet.
When it comes to short term challenges, the fiscal deficit remains one of the bigger challenges. Fiscal deficit is the difference between what a government earns and what it spends. The fiscal deficit during the rule of the Congress-led UPA government burgeoned big time. In the interim budget presented in February, the then finance minister, P. Chidambaram, claimed to have brought it down to Rs 5,24,539 crore or 4.6 per cent of the GDP. Numbers later released by the Controller General of Accounts suggest that the fiscal deficit for the year ending March 31, 2014, came in a little lower at Rs 5,08,149 crore.
But this was primarily achieved by cutting down on the asset creating planned expenditure and by not recognising’certain’expenses which in total amounted to more than Rs 1,00,000 crore (their recognition was postponed to this financial year, i.e. the year starting April 1, 2014). This primarily includes oil, food and fertiliser subsidies. This anomaly needs to be set right. More than anything, the Government of India should not be indulging in what is a clear accounting fraud. One of the basic tenets of accounting is to recognise expenditure during the period it is incurred. In the short run, if this leads to the actual expenditure of the government shooting up, then so be it.
The government can, instead, look at encashing some low-hanging fruit. SUUTI (Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India) holds shares of bluechip companies like ITC and L&T which are worth around Rs 42,400 crore currently. SUUTI was formed in the aftermath of the Unit Trust of India going bust in early 2000s. These shares can be sold to help shore up the government revenues.
Over and above this, the BSE PSU Index has gone up by 36 per cent since the beginning of this year. What this means is that the government can use this opportunity to sell shares it owns in a host of public sector units (PSUs). Take the case of Coal India Ltd. There is no reason that the government has to own 89.65 per cent of the company. Even at a significantly lower stake, it can retain the management control of the company.
Along similar lines, the government needs to bring down its stakes in public sector banks (PSBs). Currently, India has 27 PSBs. Why does the government need to run 27 banks? There is clearly no logic to it. A lot of money can be raised by selling shares of PSBs. Money can also be raised by quickly selling telecom spectrum. The last auction which happened in February 2014 fetched the government close to Rs 61,000 crore. There are a whole host of loss making PSUs which are sitting on a lot of land in premier locations. This land needs to be monetised.
It needs to be pointed out that trying to meet regular expenditure by selling assets is not the best idea going around. It is like you and me trying to meet our regular expenditure by selling things that we own. It may be necessary sometimes in the short run. What can also be done is that some of the money coming in through the sale of assets can be used to set up an infrastructure fund. The allocation to this fund can be increased over the years, and this money can be used to boost the physical infrastructure across the country.
Other than trying to raise revenues, the government should also try and limit its losses. Air India, which has constantly been losing money, either needs to be shut down or just sold off (assuming we can find a buyer for it).
Many analysts and experts want the government to cut down on expenditure allocated towards programmes like NREGA and the Food Security Scheme. This may really not be possible given that the BJP had voted to legislate them.
But what the government can easily do is to get the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to go slow on its purchases of rice and wheat. Currently, FCI has double the stocks than what it actually needs. Going slow on purchases can really help control the government expenditure. It will also help to control food inflation, given that more rice and wheat will land up in the open market.
To conclude, the economic scenario remains a huge challenge for the new Modi government, but to get going it can cash in on the low-hanging fruit.
This article originally appeared in The Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle dated June 4, 2014

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He can be reached at [email protected])