Rise of Competition Jurisprudence, Vivan Sharan and Mohit Kalawatia write for The Pioneer, 01 March 2018 The increasing prominence of large online businesses has made competing authorities around the world devote more time in the ‘new economy’, characterised by rapid-scale innovation. In this context, the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) decision in the recently resolved case on Google, throws light on the approach likely to be followed by our anti-trust regulator going forward. The CCI, in its order dated February 8, 2018,  imposed a Rs 1.3 billion fine on Google for abusing its dominant position in ‘online general web search’, and the ‘online advertising search’ markets. Special characteristics of the Internet economy, and the methodology to determine the existence of dominant position, are important points of departure before abuse of dominance is established as it was […]

Vivan Sharan and Sidharth Deb write on “Maintain the Integrity of India’s Telecom Ecosystem”, in DailyPioneer, on 22 January 2018 Last week, the New York Times reported that telecom behemoth AT&T caved in to pressure from US authorities to rescind its agreement with Huawei Technologies to distribute its ‘Mate 10’ smartphone. The move stems from concerns voiced by US lawmakers to the Federal Communications Commission, pertaining to Huawei’s role in supporting Chinese cyber espionage activities. This situation has consequences for India, a market where Huawei is among the dominant telecom equipment suppliers already, and where it seeks to build its smartphone business. Reports suggest that Washington is urging AT&T to end commercial ties with Huawei, and is also considering ways to halt Chinese telecom operator, China Mobile Ltd, from entering the American market. Further, Republican lawmakers have also introduced […]

Oped by Vivan Sharan coauthored with Arvind Gupta on “How we can deal with the cyber threats in our pockets”, Mint, 15 December, 2017 Smartphones have become ubiquitous, and are forcing us to re-imagine the contours of privacy and data protection. This is for several reasons: we carry our phones everywhere we go, we use them for accessing critical services including banking and payments, we use them to store personal and sensitive data, to access our social networks and emails, and many “apps” are connected to servers and facilities that consumers and governments, often have no line of sight to. Unsurprisingly, reports of phone hacks, theft of personally identifiable information and user-tracking, misguidance of consumers and evasion of law, by stakeholders within the digital ecosystem, has become an everyday phenomenon. The Indian smartphone user is particularly vulnerable.  The sheer pace of expansion of […]

Vivan Sharan’s Oped on “Data economy: Well-heeled e-platforms”, with Arvind Gupta, for Economic Times, 01 November 2017 From languishing at the bottom of world data consumption per capita rankings, India is now among the top five countries with over 450 million Internet users. This rapid digitalisation has led to the creation of new online services that are changing the way people search for information, interact with each other, pay for things and consume content. Simultaneously, the convergence of offline business with online technologies, and the horizontal integration within online markets has led to the stacking of services on top of each other, and the creation of large online ‘platforms’. Such platforms are changing traditional assumptions about market dominance and abuse, both concepts at the heart of competition law. For instance, previous discussions of dominance considered the […]

Two cases & a sunrise sector, Prachi Arya, Head of Legal, writes for the Deccan Herald, 30th Oct On March 22 this year, the Finance Bill 2017, became law, and paved the way for the enactment of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules. The two laws merged some tribunals, abolished others and pigeon-holed all into one set of Rules. The functions of the Copyright Board were transferred to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), including the administration of rights related to the broadcasting sector. In the past few months, the Act and Rules have attained a reputation akin to infamy. It has attracted scathing criticism from a sundry group that includes environmentalists and the intellectual property industry, for being “prima facie in contravention of the directives of the […]

ORF Occasional Paper on “Exports and e-commerce in India”, by Vikash Gautam, Lead Economist for Koan Advisory, Oct 27

This paper attempts to make a contribution in the context of the recent push in making India an e-empowered economy for promoting exports. The study stems from the premise that exports respond significantly to the costs associated with breaking into foreign markets and sustaining in those markets, whereas e-commerce offers a ready platform to minimise such costs. The empirical exercise focuses on export decision and export intensity, after adjusting for self-selection in exporting, to establish their responsiveness to e-commerce treatment. The possibility to choose the treatment in a purely non-random manner prompts the use of an endogenous treatment-effects regression model. Using a sample of 2,191 manufacturing firms in the period 2010-16, the results show that, on average, firms adopting e-commerce […]

“Breaking free of the digital dragon: Responding to China’s growing control over India’s ICT”, Co-Authored by Yash Bajaj, Programme Associate, Sept 2017

India is poised to become one of the world’s fastest growing consumers of electronics over the next five years, with domestic imports expected to reach over US$400 bn by 2020.[1] At the same time, the country is becoming increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies, and the government has launched several initiatives for rapid digitisation. India, however, lags behind global competitors in its production capabilities, and 75 percent of that demand is projected to be fulfilled by imports – almost certainly dominated by China, which already supplies half of India’s electronics imports.[2] This dependence has the potential to create economic and security-related vulnerabilities for India, and is made complicated by its geopolitical contestations with China. This report explores the extent of India’s […]

Assessing the 25 billion digital payments target, Vivan Sharan for the Mint, 23 Sept The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made two big bets on digital payments. Some weeks after demonetisation, government representatives began to extol the virtues of digital payments as a means to increasing economic transparency, formalizing the economy, and widening the tax base. As outcomes have shown, this was a sober recalibration of the objectives of demonetization. And earlier this year, the government announced the “DigiDhan Mission” to achieve a 25 billion digital transactions target, outlined in the Union budget for this fiscal. This programme aims to establish a robust digital payments ecosystem in a potentially transformative attempt to drain the swamp of illicit monetary transactions. As we approach the completion of the second quarter of this fiscal, […]

Legacy Challenges for Online Video, Vivan Sharan and Yash Bajaj for the Pioneer, 22 August As Indian consumers find themselves in a technologically converged digital world, it is clear that legacy content will not satiate the growing appetite for niche and differentiated content On January, Netflix reportedly streamed more than 250 million hours of content to its subscribers across the world on a single day. To put things in perspective, that is about 29,000 years of content delivered in just 24 hours. Video on demand on the Internet has rapidly ushered in a new paradigm in the way content is being consumed. Video on demand providers can amass audiences wherever there is broadband and can carry a wide range of content catering to niche and plural viewing tastes. Illustratively, Breaking Bad, an American television series, missed the linear […]

Bargaining for better content, Vivan Sharan for Mint, 10 Aug A decade and a half since its liberalization, it seems that consolidation in the telecom industry is now imminent. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s emergence has created 100 million new broadband consumers and the consequent growth in internet penetration is without precedent. India has nearly 300 million broadband consumers, and consumption of online content has driven a large share of this growth. Illustratively, a Cisco report suggests that video traffic will contribute to around 65% of all internet traffic in India by the next year. Around 70 billion minutes of video content will be viewed across the country per month. The critical question, therefore, is whether India’s content creators and owners—including empowered youth with easy access to high-quality imaging devices […]

Economic Times on Koan Advisory’s Creative Economy Report, Aug 09

MUMBAI: Media and entertainment (M&E) industry can help India become more resilient to fundamental changes in the global economy by adding more than $100 billion to the country’s economy annually, if the government implements progressive policies, a report says. “An appropriate policy framework (for the industry) can add up to an additional $80 billion annually to the Indian economy , over and above the $30 billion or so expected to be added by 2019,“ reads the report, `Promoting the Creative Economy: India’s $100 billion imperative’, by research-driven advisory firm Koan Advisory Group. According to the report, labour, capital, markets and regulations are the four key pillars needed to work hand in hand in order to facilitate unfettered growth and bolster value formation in […]

Seminar on Content Delivery Networks, 04 August, 2017

Koan Advisory helped coordinate an event on Content Delivery Networks at the National Institute for Public Finance and Policy on 04 August 2017. The agenda and snapshot are shared below. With 422.19 million subscribers, India represents the second largest internet user base in the world, and by 2020, this number is expected to increase to 730 million. Internet traffic in India is also expected to grow commensurately, from 1.2 exabytes per month to 4.7 exabytes per month , and multimedia, particularly video, will account for a large share of this growth in bandwidth consumption. Today, video constitutes 57 percent of bandwidth consumption in India, and is expected to increase to 76 percent by 2021. This ever-increasing rate of consumption will […]

Create 4 India Forum, 08 August 2017

Koan Advisory provided knowledge support to the Digital India Foundation for a conference on the creative economy, on 08 August 2017. The agenda and snapshots are provided below. Create 4 India 2017 Driving Economic Growth through Creative Industries Creativity and innovation are intrinsic to progress and growth of nations. For centuries, creators have pushed the limits of human ingenuity and innovation, and concomitantly redefined the boundaries of technological change. This phenomenon has accelerated with ‘convergence’ in technologies and modes of content delivery – wherein artists, writers, music composers, directors, and several other creative stakeholders, generate creative content which is consumed by society through disparate means of ‘carriage’, ranging from cable TV to broadband enabled mobile phones. This convergence necessitates an […]

Conference on Copyright and the Creative Economy, Mumbai, 21 July 2017

On 21 July 2017, Koan Advisory provided knowledge support to FICCI, DIPP and the IPAB in a conference on Copyright and the Creative Economy. The agenda and snapshots are provided below:                                                                                                Conference on COPYRIGHT AND THE CREATIVE ECONOMY 21st July 2017 Sofitel Hotel, Mumbai Overview Copyright is an exclusive and assignable legal right given to creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings, to benefit society as a whole. It is generally less well understood than other intellectual property rights such […]

Article on “Imperatives for Job Creation in India”, by Vivan Sharan for The Pioneer, on 30 May 2017 Recent lay-offs of workers in India’s cost-arbitrage driven Information Technology (IT) sector, and the Prime Minister Office’s renewed emphasis on job creation have resulted in a much-needed public debate on the future of work. Automation threatens most jobs in India, according to the World Bank, which also maintains that the more widespread the use of technology, the more the impact on jobs. This argument can be challenged in the context of India’s large informal workforce. Here, technological dispersion has created jobs through efficiency gains. Notably, in the case of the logistics sector, the use of tracking and communication tools (such as GPS-enabled mobile phones) has helped in the formalisation of supply chains, in unlocking value and in creating jobs. Indeed, very […]

Article on “Putting a floor price on technology regulations”, by Vivan Sharan, for the Deccan Herald, 28 April 2017 India is a study in contradictions. On one hand, there is a wide recognition that technology investments are a prerequisite to achieving the goals of flagship programmes such as Start-up India and Digital India, and on the other, states like Karnataka have repeatedly tried to invoke protectionist economic measures to ringfence local political interests in technology-driven markets. Previously, Karnataka was the epicentre of a tussle between e-commerce marketplaces and policymakers. The local administration was determined to hold such firms liable for payment of Value Added Taxes, despite many other states maintaining that tax administration is not the responsibility of online marketplaces. And more recently, the same government has been considering putting a floor price on taxi rides that are booked […]

The Future of the Digital Ecosystem: Conference on April 2017

Koan Adviosry supported a discussion on the Future of the Digital Ecosystem, on 17 April 2017. This interaction, carried out under Chatham House Rules, led to candid conversations and consensus on future regulation. The importance of getting things right in the digital economy (so India does not irreversibly compromise our chances of leapfrogging) was also a recurrent theme. 

“Finance Bill: Rationalised Tribunals, Irrational Tribulations”, by Prachi Arya, The Wire, 6 April, 2017 A finance Bill is a money Bill tabled every year by the government along with the Union Budget and requires substantive assent solely from the Lok Sabha. The Finance Bill, 2017 has been hotly debated since it was first presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley at the Lok Sabha on February 1, 2017. A second money Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha, two weeks ago, is proving to be no less controversial. The Bill substantially amends the Finance Bill, 2017 and a slew of other legislations ranging from environmental law to information technology and copyright.  Significantly, it substantially alters 19 ‘tribunals’ and dissolves several others. The list of abolished tribunals includes the much-criticised Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CyAT) under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT […]

The Future of the Indian Workforce: Samir Saran and Vivan Sharan write for the OECD, April 2017

The informal economy is growing in India, and that may be a good thing. Even as policymakers around the world attempt to grapple with challenges linked to labour productivity and ageing, India’s circumstances are unique. By 2030, when most major countries will have middle aged or elderly workforces, India’s will still be young. Around 36 per cent of the Indian population in 2011-12 was 17 years or younger and around 13 per cent was between 18 and 24 years (Table 1). And the informal economy accounted for nearly half of the employment for those between 18 and 24. Therefore, the discussion on the future of India’s informal workforce must be brought to the forefront when discussing growth, employment, sustainability and […]

Vivan Sharan at the CASBAA OTT Summit, 01 March

Vivan Sharan spoke on the future telecom and content services at the OTT summit convened by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) at Singapore on March 01, along side Hian Goh, Partner at NSI Ventures and Yinglan Tan, Partner at Sequoia. 

Five Ideas That Should Guide a Net Neutrality Regime in India, The Wire, 13 February 2017 Five Ideas That Should Guide a Net Neutrality Regime in India BY VIVAN SHARAN AND PRACHI ARYA ON 13/02/2017 • LEAVE A COMMENT A golden median between an ex-ante and ex-post approach is possible to achieve, if flexibility is at the core of TRAI’s regulatory ethos. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) expects to conclude public consultations on ‘net neutrality’ this month, culminating a process that began last year, with the regulator prohibiting “discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”. While considered a victory for neutrality evangelists, who want the internet to be free of monopolistic interests, it left several questions unanswered. The central question is: under what circumstances can a network operator discriminate against applications or content available on […]

Koan Advisory Co-Hosts a Payments Security Roundtable on 03 February

Indian consumers using digital payment methods face risks pertaining to data security and privacy at multiple stages of the transaction process. In the context of demonetisation and the concomitant emphasis on digital payment onboarding, the potential impact of cybercrime is acute.  To identify key challenges relating to this, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Koan Advisory co-hosted a round–table discussion on “Securing Digital Payments: Imperatives for a Growing Ecosystem”, on 3rd February. The discussion was held under Chatham House Rules. The driving questions are appended below: Driving Questions 1.       What are the most pressing security challenges to digital payment gateways? 2.       How does the proliferation of mobile devices and platforms affect the security of the ecosystems? 3.       Can regulatory systems in place to protect the digital payments ecosystem be harmonised? How can non-governmental stakeholders best contribute to the regulatory/ security audits process? 4.       Does the RBI’s Vision-2018 […]

Moving Towards a Secure Digital Economy, Mint, January 26 Moving towards a secure digital economy The velocity of digitisation and technology adoption must necessitate a response different from what was the norm in the ‘public sector era’ Samir Saran and Vivan Sharan Even as incessant political bickering is polarizing opinion on demonetisation, India is making a significant transition to a digital payments ecosystem. This project endeavours to breach the urban-rural divide, geographical exclusions of the real world, and income criteria that privileged only a few with access to certain private and public services. This new digital payments ecosystem is brutal in its attempt to alter the way India transacts, trades and is taxed. A wider adoption of digital payments will invariably change the dimensions of risks, crime and […]

Koan and CAIT meet with IT Ministry on 26 December to accelerate Digital Payments adoption among small merchants

26 December 2016: Team Koan and the Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Mr. Praveen Khandelwal, at a milestone meeting with the Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on ways to accelerate digital payments adoption among small merchants through the Alliance for Digital Bharat ( The alliance aims to bring technology to traders. Some of the discussions are reflected here:

“Narendra Modi must ensure demonetisation is not seen as increasing government’s role in citizens’ lives”, Economic Times, November 27, 2016 Narendra Modi must ensure demonetisation is not seen as increasing government’s role in citizens’ lives By Samir Saran & Vivan Sharan By the demonetisation move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enacted a strong policy that has removed nearly all currency from circulation, without an immediate recourse to its replenishment. This move again positions him as a disrupter of the status quo, an attribute increasingly being endorsed by voters across the globe. If he has to carry this disruption to its logical political outcome, significant support will need to come from the ‘JAM ecosystem’ (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile). This political gambit puts into sharp relief the importance of what the government does next. Its job has just begun and […]

Koan Advisory’s White Paper on the Indian Retail Sector and Digital Payments, Released by Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Power, Government of India, on 03 December 2016

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) recently instituted the “Alliance for Digital Bharat” (ADB) with support from MasterCard. The ADB consists of several organizations from different industries including transporters, farmers, MSMEs, hawkers, labourers, self-employed groups, as well as women entrepreneurs, consumers and other stakeholders. A multi-stakeholder conference was organised under the aegis of the ADB on 6th October, 2016, to discuss the opportunities and challenges of a less-cash ecosystem. The following white paper was authored by Koan Advisory as part of its knowledge engagement with ADB and released by Minister of Power, Shri Piyush Goyal, on 03 December: A less cash society: Towards a stakeholder centric approach:

Rishabh Kumar: What we know about the wealthy, Business Standard, 27 Oct 2016 The first modern book in economics was called Wealth of Nations because its writer, Adam Smith, understood (and transmuted the idea) that the key to prosperity and growth was the generation and distribution of wealth — not just the flow of income. Recent interest in economics has started to return to this question, especially in the context of today’s rich countries. The academic attention on the metamorphosis and concentration of wealth has so far excluded poor countries. In fact, the study of the wealth of poor nations should be a core question in development economics (over income growth) because wealth tends to cumulate all past prosperity or disparity. I found it notable that despite the detailed historical analysis in […]

Government of India should not Make in India; co-authored column by Vivan Sharan, in Mint, 07 Oct 2016 India is recording historically high investments in technology-oriented industries such as telecom and over the top (OTT) services that ride on telecom networks such as financial technology and e-commerce. The latest infusion of Rs47,700 crore by UK-based telecom giant Vodafone Plc. into its Indian arm is indicative of the fact that the Indian market remains much coveted despite the headwinds to global growth. Manufacturing investments are also targeting the tech-hungry Indian consumer. Chinese telecom giant Huawei will begin manufacturing smart phones in India this year, the 40th such manufacturing investment in the country in the past two years alone. With such investments and parliamentary consensus on the GST, one may be tempted to conclude that ‘Make in India’ is […]

Don’t Shackle the New Economy with the Restrictions of the Old: Vivan Sharan in The Wire, 11 July 2016 There is a perpetual tussle between the old and the new. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this better than the tensions between the old economy and the new economy. A large share of the billions of dollars of foreign investments into India are now linked to the new economy. The new economy in turn is one that benefits from the freer movement of capital that has been enabled through a gradual opening up of our domestic market. And this capital is ruthless. It is attracted by productivity and efficiency, and not the populist impulses of our political class. Conversely, the old economy does seem to care about social equity – insofar as at least giving back through entrenched political patronage. A […]

The Tricky Challenges of Regulating Service-in-India: Op-ed in The Wire by Vivan Sharan, 27 May It has been two years since the last general elections and currently a range of assessments of the Modi government’s performance are dominating headlines. Despite the recent debate between the finance minister and the central bank governor on whether or not India is a “one-eyed king in the land of the blind’’, it is clear that for foreign investors, the country’s growth is exceptional. Evidence for this is in the equity inflows over 2015-16, which touched around $41 billion, up from around $32 billion in 2014-15.   While the final data is awaited, a large share of equity inflows were targeted at service industries. Therefore, FDI growth is not yet a cause for ‘Make-in-India’ triumphalism. Rather, trends indicate that […]

Koan Advisory supported FICCI and UNEP report released on 29 April by RBI Deputy Governor

Koan Advisory has supported the United Nations Environment Programme led “inquiry on the design of a sustainable financial system” in India. The RBI deputy governor Mr. R. Gandhi released the final report in Mumbai on 29 April 2016 in the presence of the financial community.The final report can be accessed here:

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Reach Out to China, Article by Vivan Sharan in The Wire, 3 April The Indian economy is facing some serious challenges on the external front. It relies heavily on ‘external demand’, evidenced by the fact that slowing global economic growth has resulted in fifteen consecutive months of export contraction in the country. This is despite the fact that India’s trade with emerging and developing countries has been growing faster than its trade with developed economies. The IMF estimates that the aggregate growth in emerging and developing economies would work out to around four per cent in 2015, the lowest since the financial crisis. There is growing suspicion among analysts that this subdued growth, along with the slowdown in the commodities cycle, represents a ‘new normal’. In such circumstances, it can be argued […]

Three Structural Challenges that the Budget Hopes to Overcome: Article by Vivan Sharan in The Wire, 29 March It is a strange time for the observers of the Indian economy. Some commentators seem to place a great deal of hope in the future while others are worried that the headwinds of the global economy will inevitably overwhelm us. This is a rather stark conceptual binary. Clear answers are further obfuscated by three structural challenges that are highlighted here along with the salient features of the Union Budget announced today. It worth pointing out that the finance minister (FM) himself did not succumb to the aforementioned binary. He began his speech by lauding India’s resilience to a weak global economy and simultaneously cautioned against a continuing unfavourable external environment. This was a good hedge as the FM would be acutely […]

Road map for a Future Ready Naval Force – By Rahul Prakash, Koan Advisory

With the advent of nanotechnology, robotics, directed energy technology among others, there has been a paradigm shift in capabilities of naval forces in the 21st century.  Navies of the future are likely to make use of lasers, electromagnetic railguns, unmanned vehicles, space assets, stealth technologies, and information-centric combat systems. Allocation of budgets and build-up of manpower resources are going to be critical variables that will determine adoption of these technologies. Cost benefit, long-term sustainability, maintenance requirements and inter-operability will also have a bearing on technology development and adoption in the future.  This background note was used as a curtain raiser for the ‘Make in India Paradigm: Road map for a Future Ready Naval Force’ event in collaboration with FICCI. The […]

Vivan Sharan on “No Country for Start-Ups Yet”, BusinessWorld, 06 February 2016 Government of India’s “Action Plan” for catalysing a start-up ecosystem feels incomplete and somewhat amorphous. PM Modi’s commendable vision of “starting-up” India is premised on the ability of start-ups to capitalise on the so-called “demographic dividend” and also leverage the large domestic markets for their services and products. Of course the PM’s thrust for creating this ecosystem must also derive from a desire to reduce the state’s own disproportionate burden of job creation. With one million people joining the workforce every month and only a handful of formal jobs to go around, start-ups are seen as a panacea for all that ails the Indian economy.There is much scope for improvement in the approach taken thus far starting with how […]

Vivan Sharan on “AN ODD PLAN WITH EVEN FAILINGS”, The Pioneer, 08 December Arvind Kejriwal Government should have given a more serious thought to the ‘odd-even’ plan of having private vehicles on Delhi’s roads before announcing its implementation. The idea suffers from structural deficiencies Delhi’s air pollution has once again hit record levels this winter. On Friday December 4, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal decided to announce that vehicles with odd and even number plates will only be allowed to ply on alternative days, starting January next year. While Mr Kejriwal has conceded that this measure may need to be re-looked at, once implemented over a short duration, policymakers like him must begin to develop a habit of carefully assessing the robustness of their policies lest the city suffers another Bus Rapid Transit […]

Vivan Sharan’s co-authored article for the European Council on Foreign Relations on “The False Debate on India’s Energy Consumption”, November 2015

For the original page, please click here: The false debate on India’s energy consumption Economy & Society Samir Saran & Vivan Sharan Despite having among the largest coal reserves in the world, India lags far behind in consumption, at less than a fifth of China’s levels.[1]  The average Indian’s coal consumption is around 20 percent that of the average US citizen, and 34 percent that of the average OECD citizen. And yet, in international negotiations, India finds itself caught in a shrill and binary debate pitching growth against climate. This is a false debate, which stems from the inability of the current mercantilist system to grant all actors a fair share of the “carbon space” – the amount of carbon […]

Koan Advisory Note on the Bihar Elections (Circulated on 08 Nov, 2015)

The Bihar elections have widely been seen as a referendum on the Modi-Shah brand of high pitched politics. While this may be overstating the value of the brand (and understating at the same time, the disruptive influence of the so called ‘fringe’ within the NDA fold), there is no doubt that the elections will lead to deep introspection within the alliance. While some would say it may be too early to tell, there are at least five areas where the Bihar elections will have a lasting impact. These are outlined below: 1. Rethink on the Youth Factor: Many within the NDA thought that the support of the youth, going into the Bihar elections, would be the clinching factor in victory. […]


Crop insurance is an invaluable financial instrument for mitigating risks inherent to agriculture, providing producers the means to transfer and share risks – whereby the losses suffered by few are met from funds accumulated through contributions made by many exposed to similar risks. is document aims to present a succinct overview of the Indian Weather index-based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS), its potential and challenges, examining in particular the inherent phenomenon of “basis risk” prevailing within these schemes. Th e report features a field analysis of basis risk by GIZ & AICI in Rajasthan on the basis of which essential policy recommendations are provided. For full report click here

Unbundling the coal-climate equation: Op Ed in The Hindu, Co-authored by Vivan Sharan There is still enough room for India to grow its coal consumption while continuing to accelerate its thrust on the expansion of renewable energy. Ahead of the Paris climate summit, India announced on October 2 its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for climate change mitigation and adaptation. India intends to reduce its carbon emissions intensity by 33-35 per cent by 2030, from its 2005 levels. While this commitment has drawn fulsome praise from many, the green ayatollahs have predictably ignored its herculean clean energy ambitions and focussed on Indian dependence on coal. It is time to lay bare the ‘coal hypocrisy’ of these privileged ‘western greens’. Read also: Preparing for Paris India’s total energy consumption is a fraction of that of […]

Vivan Sharan and Prachi Arya on “Women in Agriculture”, Businessworld, 21 September

Women in Indian Agriculture     Go Back Vivan Sharan and Prachi Arya   In the run up to Independence Day, Professor Ashok Gulati wrote a scathing critique of what he has described as “elitist biases in public policy”, that ignore the reality of the masses in rural areas. The reality he describes is that of low rates of growth in agriculture; a sector that majority of Indians still depend on.  He lamented the excessive preponderance of economic policy discourse in the country on creating “a dazzling manufacturing sector” and “world-class infrastructure of bullet trains”. Professor Gulati’s critique is not misplaced. Indeed the low growth rates of agriculture (averaging 2 per cent) should alarm the elite. Instead, the elite discourse pivots […]

Op Ed by Vivan Sharan on The State vs. The Foreign NGO, Pioneer, 09 September Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010, is vaguely-worded. This gives the state an undesirable discretionary lever. Instead of obsessively regulating the development sector, perhaps, the Government should consider ring-fencing itself from ‘foreign’ interference  The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010, and the rules there under have been receiving much attention in light of the tighter scrutiny of foreign funded NGOs recently. FCRA is a regulatory tool that enables monitoring and control of foreign funding. It was first devised by the Indira Gandhi Government, and then revived in a strict new avatar under the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance Government. The most prominent characteristic of this law is in its inherent vagueness. It fails to define ‘political activities’ even as it prohibits funding […]

Policy Brief co-authored by Vivan Sharan on the New Development Bank, 28 August

At the 2014 BRICS Summit held in July 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil, the heads of the Amember states signed an agreement establishing a New Development Bank (NDB) that will finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects. The NDB is designed to represent all five member nations: it is headquartered in Shanghai, the first President is from India, the first regional office is in Johannesburg, the inaugural Chairman of the Board of Governors, from Russia, and the first Chairman of the Board of Directors, from Brazil. T o aggregate diverse and informed perspectives on both strategic and operational aspects of the bank’s functioning, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) organised an intra-BRICS Experts […]

Vivan Sharan on “The Louis Berger World”, Businessworld, July 27

The shift towards technical assistance means that foreign development consultancies will continue to prosper in developing countries such as India, says Vivan Sharan A few years back I was approached by a European consultancy to bid for a project as part of the European Union’s (EU) ‘technical assistance’ for India. This project was ostensibly part of the Europe Aid, budget, which is aimed at “reducing poverty in the world, ensuring sustainable development and promoting democracy, peace and security”. The goal of the project was to provide technical assistance to an apex regulatory institution in India. At the outset, the project’s linkage with reducing poverty and sustainable development seemed tenuous. However, the justification provided by Europe Aid and the supposed by in […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “The Greek Crisis And Indian Prime Time Journalism”, Businessworld, July 04

Vivan Sharan on why the unfolding Greek drama has little appeal for Indian media The week that was will be forever etched in European history but will have little recall value in India. In 2009, the Greeks first announced that they had been underestimating their fiscal deficits for many years.Without a sovereign currency that could be devalued, and lacking the structural underpinnings to address its deficits, the economy quickly became acasualty of the European experiment. A series of loans, at market rates, were offeredto Greece by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). To the surprise of very few close observers of the Greek economy,it defaulted on a proportion (1.57 billion euros) of its debts owed to […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Smart Cities: A Reality Check”, Businessworld, June 27

To make smart cities a reality, what is needed is a framework that can harness low hanging fruits such as regular scrutiny by civil society, meaningful participation of the private sector and provision of technical support for instituting best practices within Urban Local Bodies, writes Vivan Sharan   The familiar adage that ‘India lives in its villages’ will stop holding true within a few decades. And this transition, represented by urbanisation on an unprecedented scale outside of China, is already changing domestic politics. Urban areas were given scant attention in the ‘gareebi hatao’ era, marked by an emphasis on social schemes catering to the rural poor. Today, they are veritable microcosms of India’s various challenges and opportunities. Urban areas arealso the […]

“How Yoga Expands India’s Soft Power” by Koan Partner, Vivan Sharan (Businessworld, June 21)

Today the world will awaken to the ‘International Day of Yoga’, perhaps with a Surya Namaskar. While some would dismiss this labelling as an attempt by the new government to refine India’s ‘snake charmers and elephant herders’ image on the international stage; others may think of this as an attempt to ‘saffronise’ the global events calendar. A few may think of it as a brilliant marketing gimmick. PM Modi may not have given it any more serious thought than this. However, it stands to reason that since it is already instituted, the international day of yoga must now be neatly placed within India’s soft power projection as well as its larger economic and political aspirations.    The origin of India’s […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on ‘Key Questions for India at Paris’ Vivan Sharan explores the questions Indian policymakers must ask in the run up to the UNFCCC negotiations. In December 2015, world leaders including Prime Minister Modi will gather in Paris to try and agree on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol under the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This potential new agreement is eagerly anticipated by climate change observers. In India, a country with 800 million living at less than two dollars a day, this amounts to only a handful of people in New Delhi. The fact that over half of the country relies on agriculture for employment is of more immediate concern than international negotiations. There has been a rise in farmer suicides in India – […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Cooperating through BRICS” he global economy is fragile. Very few new full time jobs are being created in OECD economies and GDP growth ofmost developing economies still does not measure up to pre-financial crisis levels. Perhaps most worrying of all, income inequality is growing across the developed and developing economies alike. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, countries that constitute the‘BRICS’ grouping, will be meeting in Ufa in July amidst these sobering global trends.    In preparation for the Ufa Summit, experts from BRICS met at a Track II meeting in Moscow this week. As India’s representative on economic issues, my interventions were premised on the fact that there are at least five sectors within which enhanced intra-BRICS […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Learning to Regulate” India is perhaps one of the few major economies in the world, where economic policies are formulated by ‘Empowered Committees’ of politicians and bureaucrats. The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers is a case in point. This Committee has been closely involved in preparing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) framework along with the Central Government. There is little doubt that there are few subjects less political than those that impact the revenue collections of State Governments. Equally, there are few subjects less well understood by State Governments than the impacts of the proposed tax reform, despite a representative committee. This merits some introspection.   Does the country need to look towards a fresh set of policy formulation processes […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Setting Standards for the Indian Services Economy”

Historically, the thrust of Indian standards has been on manufacturing sector products, with few standards for services. The nodal authority for standards, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), is contemplating a renewed emphasis on developing standards for services. Given India’s domestic context and rapid developments in the global trade regime, this would be most timely.      In April 2015, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs moved a cabinet note for making amendments to the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986. The amendments will likely give the BIS more teeth in enforcing standards. Contravention of this Act currently attracts nominal punishment. Simultaneously, the BIS must aim to create pro-competition and pro-consumer service-standards benchmarks, so that industry can take a cue and […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Goods and Services Tax”

बहुचर्चित वस्तु एवं सेवा कर (जीएसटी) संबंधी संविधान संशोधन (122वां संशोधन) विधेयक, 2014 पर लोकसभा में सरकार कांग्रेस का समर्थन पाने में सफल रही। लेकिन सरकार की असली परीक्षा राज्यसभा में होगी, जहां सरकार के पास विधेयक पारित कराने लायक बहुमत नहीं है। जीएसटी लागू होने से घरेलू स्तर पर वस्तुओं और सेवाओं के विनिर्माण, बिक्री और उपभोग पर एक समान और व्यापक कर व्यवस्था लागू होगी। इसके तहत केंद्र एवं राज्यों के सभी अप्रत्यक्ष कर समाहित हो जाएंगे, जिनमें उत्पाद शुल्क, सेवा कर, बिक्री कर, मूल्यवर्द्धित कर, चुंगी, विलासिता व मनोरंजन कर और अन्य उपकर व अधिभार शामिल हैं।इसमें राज्य और केंद्रीय जीएसटी के दोहरे ढांचे को समाहित करने की कल्पना की गई है। एकीकृत जीएसटी वस्तुओं और सेवाओं […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan on “Reviving Indian Agriculture”

The recent political discourse has centred on the many woes of the Indian farmer, and has become particularly amplified following the suicide of a farmer at a political rally in the capital. While the government has stood its ground on the proposed Land Bill seen by opposition parties as fundamentally “anti-farmer”, it is increasingly clear that the BJP and its allies will have to confront the core issues at stake. Even if the successive failures of previous governments in assuaging the farmer’s challenges are not reason enough, a gridlock on the economic reforms mandate as a result of political developments should provoke a comprehensive response.     Despite the elevated status of the services sector post economic liberalisation, agriculture remains […]

Koan Partner Vivan Sharan’s co-authored policy brief for the T20 Infrastructure Finance Working Group, feeding into the G20 This policy brief stems from the joint work of the Think 20 Turkey Infrastructure Working Group that includes Amar Bhattacharya (Brookings Institution), Zhongyi Yin (China Institute for Reform and Development) Pelin Yenigun Dilek (EDAM), Tristram Sainsbury (Lowy Institute), Vivan Sharan (ORF), Richard Manning (Oxford University), and Ussal Sahbaz (TEPAV) and but does not necessarily represent the views of the individual authors. Think 20 (T20) Turkey is chaired by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV). For more information about T20 Turkey and its work, please see

5 Big Ideas in the Union Budget

The Union Budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 28 February had a number of expectations pinned to it. It was heralded as the final chance for the Indian economy – a veritable litmus test for whether it would change direction and become more resilient and sustainable in the years ahead. The alternative would be a rapidly disintegrating social contract, with 800 million people living at less than two dollars a day and 120 million entering the workforce over the coming decade with only a fraction of the required jobs to go around. Many suggest that a turnaround would necessarily entail second generation reforms – and in this context the Budget is not of as much significance as […]

Behind the lines of credit: Koan Partner, Vivan Sharan’s coauthored article in Business Standard year Indian PM Narendra Modi announced a $1 billion concessional line of credit (LoC) on his maiden visit to Nepal. More recently he announced a concessional LoC in his March visit to Mauritius of $500 million for civil infrastructure projects, and a similar line to Sri Lanka of $318 million for development of railway infrastructure. Clearly, LoCs are becoming a key arrow in India’s economic diplomacy quiver. The Indian government subsidises the interest rate on concessional LoCs under its Development Cooperation Programme. Since LoC projects are demand-driven, recipient countries first have to make a request for a LoC to the ministry of external affairs, which considers political and economic aspects before handing over the structural and disbursement process to the ministry of finance and the Export Import […]

Union Budget 15-16: Hopes for a market driven rebalance

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley read out his Budget speech on Saturday (February 28) amidst great expectations from his government to signal a progressive, non-populist agenda. With 800 million living at less than two dollars a day and one million entering the job market every month, India’s myriad socio-economic challenges seem to have converged – and can prove to be overwhelming for a state which is not able to achieve targets. In the final few years of the erstwhile UPA Government, it had become fairly apparent that a complete revision in the government’s approach to the Indian economy would be required — to build the requisite capacities to address the scale of incumbent challenges. This revision of approach is precisely what has […]

Breaking Down Hurdles to Ecommerce, Opinion in Business Standard, Vivan Sharan, February 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently stated that digital connectivity should become a basic right of every Indian. There can be little doubt that information technology must form one of the central pillars of India’s economic transitionto a middle-income country. As India’s online footprint has increased, so has the role of e-commerce, among the fastest growing industries in the country. The industry is expected to cross $6 billion in revenues by 2015, not including ticketing and travel, according to Gartner Research. It must then follow that e-commerce should be encouraged to play a key role in building requisite supply chain efficiencies across India. The opposite however seems to be the case.Through a spate of notices and warnings issued by tax departments across the country to many large […]

Vivan Sharan’s Co-Edited Report on The Future of Energy (January 2015)

A key takeaway from the discussions and joint research that culminated in this report is that the global energy community must learn from shared experiences. Ultimately, decision-making cannot function in isolation of global and local political and economic trends. It is precisely towards the goal of providing a baseline for understanding the policy context that this report makes a significant contribution.

Vivan Sharan’s Chapter on the Future of Aid, in Global Policy Journal’s New E-Book on “The Donor’s Dilemma”

      As poverty declines, what if the remaining pockets of poverty are increasingly focused in countries where aid is already on the way to becoming irrelevant as domestic resources grow – such as some middle income countries – or in countries which cannot absorb aid easily and quickly – meaning many fragile states? This is the question addressed by contributors to Global Policy’s first e-book entitled ‘The Donors’ Dilemma: Emergence, Convergence and the Future of Aid’, guest edited by Dr Andy Sumner, Co-Director, King’s International Development Institute, King’s College London, and Tom Kirk, Researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. To purchase the entire e-book for $2.99 please click here (or for a Amazon Kindle version please […]

Interview with Voice of Russia, 15 July, 2014

Voice of Russia interviews Vivan Sharan on the reasons for a New Development Bank        

Fix the Economy, Dont Target Big Business, Op-ed in Economic Times, 19 May

With the cacophony of the 16th Lok Sabha election behind us, it is time to reflect on the realities of the politicoeconomic system that constitutes the set of initial conditions for the next government. The economy is sluggish and structurally weak. More than 60 years after Independence, only a small minority can afford a decent living. Indira Gandhi had vowed to remove poverty (“Garibi hatao”) while campaigning for the Congress in 1971, but the improvement has been so small, and the policy di ..  Read more at: