Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

In FT: Varshney Cites Excesses of India's Gilded Age

January 10, 2011

India is beginning to resemble America’s Gilded Age – both in its heady dynamism and scandalous corruption, according to Faculty Fellow Ashutosh Varshney, who co-authored a recent op-ed in the Financial Times.

The piece compares India’s billionaire class with the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Morgans of America in the late 1800s. In modern India, for instance, “using access to power, families of ministers and heads of state governments, belonging to various political parties, have illegitimately bought land and houses at below-market prices and powerful business families have procured mining rights in a corrupt manner.” The op-ed, titled “It is Time for India to Rein in its Robber Barons,” urges the Indian government to move towards greater transparency and crystal-clear bidding processes, while pressing India’s tycoons to consider how to generate legitimacy for their accumulation of wealth.