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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

We Must Reclaim Nationalism From the BJP

This is the 18th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. The man who gave us…

To Escalate or Not? This Is Modi’s Zugzwang Moment

This is the 17th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. One of my favourite English…

India’s Problem is Poverty, Not Inequality

This is the 16th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. Steven Pinker, in his book…

Here Is Why the Indian Voter Is Saddled With Bad Economics

This is the 15th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times of India. It’s election season, and promises…

We Live in an Age of Bullshit

A slightly shorter version of this was published as the 14th installment of The Rationalist, my column for the Times…

31 January, 2017

The Seen and the Unseen Episode 3: GST

This is the third episode of my weekly podcast, The Seen and the Unseen.

There are two kinds of diversity in India, one good, and one not so good. Our greatest strength is our diversity of people and cultures and languages. But one of our great weaknesses is our diversity of taxes, across states and regions. We have so many different kinds of taxes that the cost of compliance is the most daunting cost for many businesses, and corruption is out of control. Also, taxes create friction in trade, and the costs are borne by consumers and businesses alike. It’s a negative-sum game.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was supposed to be the panacea that would get us out of this mess. While India has been one country since 1947, it hasn’t been one market, and the GST was expected to get us to that promised land. It has been many years in the making, though, and has become more and more convoluted in the process of political and bureaucratic negotiation. Thus, while the Seen Effects of a perfect GST would normally be excellent, the potential Unseen Effects of the GST in its evolving form could be quite messy.

In Episode 3 of The Seen and the Unseen, Devangshu Datta takes Amit Varma through the nuances of the GST and their possible implications.

Posted by Amit Varma in Economics | India | Podcast | Politics | The Seen and the Unseen

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