T.N. Ninan

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Full name: T.N. Ninan

Area of interest: India - Economy and business environment

Journals/Organisation: Business Standard (India); Financial Times

Email: 'Write to the editor' contact page

Personal website:

Website: business-standard.com / columnists | FT.Com / T.N.Ninan





About: President of the Editors Guild of India, chairman and chief editor of Business Standard

Education: University of Madras: MA Economics

Career: Former Editor: The Economic Times (responsible for establishing it as a leading financial daily); Business World Magazine. Former Executive Editor: India Today.

Current position/role: Publisher and editor Business Standard - India's second largest business daily

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role: Chairman of the Society for Environmental Communication (Publisher of Down to Earth magazine). Previously on the executive committee of the Editors Guild of India. Member of the Board of Trade and a member of the Indo-German Consultative Group as well as the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

Other activities:


Viewpoints/Insight: T.N. Ninan interview - in Dainik Jagran, 29th September, 2003

Broadcast media:

Video: Regular role on Indian national television as commentator on economic issues


Awards/Honours: B.D. Goenka Award for excellence in journalism; Sachin Chaudhari Award for excellence in financial journalism, 1984



Books & Debate:

  • Media matters a symposium on growth, diversification and challenges before our media OCLC 239923476, 2006
  • India 2007: a symposium on the year that was OCLC 236157039 T N Ninan; et al, 2008

Latest work: Business standard India 2008 OCLC 254929162, 2008


Current debate:

Business Standard (India): 'Weekend Ruminations'

Column name:

Remit/Info: India: Economy and business environment


Role: Editor / commentator


Email: 'Write to the editor' contact page

Personal website:

Website: business-standard.com / columnists

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length:

Articles: 2009
  • The end of fear - The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance - 4th April 2009
  • Writer's buck - Authors have finally started making news in India, with the size of their book advances and not just their books themselves - 28th March 2009
  • Relentless posturing - A new CPI(M) website was launched on Wednesday, a couple of days after the party’s election manifesto was released - 21st March 2009
  • Encouraging the fringe - Bimal Jalan and other public-spirited individuals have set up a Public Interest Foundation, which is leading a pre-election campaign to keep criminals out of politics - 14th March 2009
  • Muckrakers - Till the current downturn in advertising, a common criticism about the Indian press used to be that it had become more of a money machine than a publishing industry - 7th March 2009
  • The Sonia effect - The next two months will be filled with the din of campaigning - 28th February 2009
  • And now, de-globalisation - The world has seen several phases of globalisation, starting with the first migration of homo sapiens from Africa some 70,000 years ago - 21st February 2009
  • Rich & ‘Third World’ - It is rapidly acquiring many of the hallmarks of a “Third World” system - 14th February 2009
  • A superpower's options - What governments are doing to tackle the economic crisis raises uncomfortable questions - 7th February 2009
  • Fairy tale warning - No one told Ramalinga Raju about the goose that laid the golden eggs - 31st January 2009
  • Not the bottom - The corporate results that have been announced so far for the October-December quarter would suggest that there is some way to go down, before companies hit the bottom - 24th January 2009
  • How many bad eggs? - The Satyam scam isn't an accident; it has to do with broader, systemic failures - 17th January 2009
  • The deeper crisis - However much one may want to avoid saying it, the truth is that a crisis stares publicly-held joint stock capitalism in the face... - 10th January 2009
  • Why it won't work - Those in public life have twisted the system into one that suits their purpose, not the public's - 3rd January 2009
Articles: 2008
  • Keeping track - The government's statistical system is being overhauled with painful slowness - 27th December 2008
  • Enough is enough? - So everyone said “enough is enough”. First, they said it to the politicians. They said it in the media, and then to the media... - 20th December 2008
  • The good news is oil - The World Bank’s chief economist has certified that we are going through the “worst recession since the Great Depression”... - 13th December 2008
  • And the solutions? - How does one turn the energy and commitment of citizens reacting to the Mumbai terror strikes, in ways that are constructive? The first step would be to understand that the system’s failures... - 6th December 2008
  • Failures at the top - The quote that stands out from the last three days is of the soldier who escorted to safety guests who had been herded into a salon in the Taj Mahal Hotel... - 28th November 2008
  • Change means pain - Is there unrealistic enthusiasm, and hope, generated by Barack Obama’s election as the next US president? Many people seem to think that he is “The One” (to quote Oprah Winfrey)... - 22nd November 2008
  • The PM as EAM - British diplomats tell you that Gordon Brown has a great relationship with the Prime Minister—the two former finance ministers are able to chat freely about economic issues that their aides find - 15th November 2008
  • The news gets worse - Forecasting is a hazardous business, doubly so when there is turbulence all around... - 8th November 2008
  • Why money is scarce - The overnight call money market is back to where it was a fortnight ago, with interest rates in the sky-high, 14-21 per cent range... - 1st Movember 2008
  • Now the real sector - It may sound crazy to say this when stock markets have crashed through another floor, but the primary problem today is not the financial but the real sector - 25th October 2008
  • Stalled - Fewer than a thousand people were retrenched across all of India in 2006—the latest year for which the labour ministry has statistics. Since 2003, there has been no year in which the number crossed 3,000. In an organised sector that employs 30-40 million people, these are amazing statistics — a retrenchment rate of less than 1 in 10,000, if the statistics can be relied on - 18th October 2008
  • Escaping history - The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” That was Mark Antony’s lament, in Julius Caesar. To be sure, we all have our list of evil-doers, the bad boys of our contemporary history—VK Krishna Menon as defence minister (and Antony was right in this case, the good that Menon did is not remembered!), Sanjay Gandhi (only Khushwant Singh remembers his good deeds), Mohan Kumaramangalam (for sundry nationalisation decisions, supersession of Supreme Court judges, calls for a committed bureaucracy), and so on - 11th October 2008
  • There's good news too - When the really bad news dominates the headlines, as the western financial crisis has done these past many weeks, the good news tends not to get noticed. We forget that, three months ago, the over-riding economic problem in India was inflation. So the good news is that the tide has turned - 4th October 2008
  • More to come? - When the financial history of 2008 is written, someone will record how many times the heads of the big financial firms, and those in charge at regulatory and government bodies, said that the worst is over — only for the situation to get worse - 27th September 2008
  • Naked - The United States is supposed to have not just great markets and great enterprises, but also great regulators. The Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission are respected and feared the world over. Those great markets also rely on institutional mechanisms, like the rating agencies — all of which are now American-owned. The amazing thing about this entire pack is that the financial crisis has shown all of them to be as naked as the emperor who strutted out in what he thought were his new clothes - 20th September 2008
  • Not through ideology - You wouldn’t have thought that an ex-chairman of Goldman Sachs would be ordering what someone has called the greatest nationalisation in the history of humanity”. But that is what Hank Paulson did last week-end when, as the US treasury secretary, he nationalised the giant mortgage refinance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - 13th September 2008
  • Questionable numbers - The World Bank said the other day that 24 per cent of all Indians in 2005 lived on an average of Rs 13.14 per day or less (taking the weighted average of the different figures for rural and urban areas) - 6th September 2008
  • Strike three - Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has got it wrong, though he is right to protest against the “gherao” and the “hartal”. The first keeps a manager captive, without means of sustenance or access to a toilet —which must be illegal as it is involuntary confinement, usually accompanied by intimidation if not personal violence - 30th August 2008
  • Visionary Rajiv - Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary was celebrated this week by the Congress party (and pretty much no one else). He was killed 17 years ago; so most people under 30 have no real recollection of him. Those who do, will have mixed memories. Looking back, it is hard to imagine a country as complex as India being led as prime minister by someone who was all of 40, and whose only real experience till then had been to pilot a plane - 23rd August 2008
  • A politician is born - Many people have commented that Manmohan Singh is a different man after the trust vote in Parliament — more confident, assertive, someone who has manoeuvred to become the obvious candidate for prime minister, if the UPA should win the next elections. Perhaps, but what may have changed more than the man himself are our perceptions of him - 16th August 2008
  • Developers all - Is real estate the answer to India’s infrastructure problems? So it would seem, judging by some recent examples. The Delhi Metro in 2006-07 got more revenue from real estate than from its transport operations (Rs 252 crore, against Rs 223 crore). The previous year, the metro had raised even more (Rs 296 crore) from real estate selling and leasing - 9th August 2008
  • Low-floor performance - The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has a fleet of some 3,600 buses. In two years, it will have 80 per cent more buses, despite retiring about half of today’s fleet. That is not because the existing fleet is old — most of the buses were inducted only a few years ago when DTC switched from diesel to gas as fuel - 2nd August 2008
  • Traveller`s diary - So you thought that privatising airports would mark a new beginning in traveller service and amenities? Well, yes — and no - 26th July 2008
  • Life after Tuesday - A lot of people in the world of business are hoping that if the government survives the confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday, it will push ahead with long pending economic reforms in the six or seven months that it will still have before the election process kicks in - 19th July 2008
  • Power shift - Mumbai has long prided itself on being the country's commercial capital. Maybe the time has finally come for it to give up such notions - 12th July 2008
  • How poor are we? - A person who spends Rs 20 per day spends Rs 600 in a month. A 5-member family (which is the Indian norm) in this income bracket therefore spends Rs 3,000 per month - 5th July 2008
  • Oil slick - There is much criticism of the government and the Reserve Bank for their handling of the macro-economic problems caused by the spurt in international oil prices - 28th June 2008
  • A perfect storm? - They say that the phrase "the perfect storm" (which originated from a 1997 book by that name) should be banned because of its over-use - 21st June 2008
  • it for the C-suite? - A friend commented that it must be nice for Malvinder Singh of Ranbaxy to pocket Rs 10,000 crore and also get nice things said about him by the media - 14th June 2008
  • Servant, not master - Back in the early 1990s, the well-known Chicago economist Rudigar Dornbusch came to India and told a packed audience in New Delhi that India should simply stop trying to do cautious, step-by-step reform and go for a big bang approach - 17th May 2008
  • Not by exception - In a country where the gap between an idea and its execution is often quite large, the most dangerous ideas are those which sound good in theory but have little chance of working in practice - 10th May 2008
  • Oh, to be the CM! - Narendra Modi was impressive. Speaking without notes at the annual meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Gujarat chief minister reeled off an impressive list of achievements -like multiplying more than five-fold the cotton production in the state, and sustained double-digit growth of state GDP - 3rd May 2008
  • An age of discontinuities - We live in a world of discontinuities. Oil is at $100 one day, $90 the next, and $115 on the third, with some forecasters looking ahead at $150, if not $200 - and people still recall the time not long ago when Opec thought the upper end of the desirable price band was $28 - 26th April 2008
  • Sins of omission - A lot of people are exercised about the Reserve Bank's decision on Thursday to suck some more money out of the market, thereby prompting interest rates to climb a little higher - 19th April 2008
  • Over to Mumbai - Time was when the main statement of government policy that businessmen looked at was the Budget. The second most important statement was the trade policy. This latter has gradually lost importance - 12th April 2008
  • Rich man, poor state - Having listened over the past fortnight to stories from businessmen about the demands being made on them by politicians in different states, it is obvious that corruption in the states has reached - 5th April 2008
  • Flight of capital? - Everyone feels chuffed about the way Indian businessmen are taking over global companies, especially marque brands like Jaguar and Land Rover - 29th March 2008
  • Better safe than sorry - For years, the wunderkinds of the financial world have railed at the Reserve Bank's dullness and stupidity, its unwillingness to allow innovations, and its excessive caution - 22nd March 2008
  • A crisis foretold - Anyone who looks can see, through the pall of gloom that hangs over any discussion of the economy and the markets, that so many people have been caught unprepared by what has happened, and by what is - 15th March 2008
  • Smart PC - Maybe we don't give the finance minister as much credit as we should, for what he is managing to do. Take the criticism aimed at the government, that it is wasting good public money on a national... - 8th March 2008
  • Duty-free index - Speaking last week at a function where he released the first title to be brought out by Business Standard's new books division, the Prime Minister acknowledged the criticisms that this newspaper has... - 23rd February 2008
  • The rise of Bharat - Business Standard has launched itself today as a Hindi business newspaper - in addition to the 33-year-old English one. We have started with the New Delhi and Mumbai editions; other editions will roll... - 16th February 2008
  • Small doses only - Shakespeare talked of vaulting ambition (“…which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other”). It is a phrase very relevant, when considering events as far apart as the nuclear deal with the US, the mega-tonne steel and aluminium projects that have been stalled in eastern India, and (going back in time) even the Dabhol power project on the west coast - 9th February 2008
  • Above our weight - Back in the early 1990s, China’s Deng Xiaoping spelt out, in 24 characters, what should be China’s foreign and military policy. Deng said: Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs... - 2nd February 2008
  • Put up those walls - In a week when yet more banks have reported yet more trouble, and when many more billions have disappeared from their books, the debate about obscene salaries and bonuses for the people who create - 26th January 2008
  • Who can rule? - In an interview to Newsweek magazines Fareed Zakaria, President Musharraf speaks bluntly about the realities of who can fight the terrorists in Pakistan. It is worth quoting him... - 19th January 2008
  • The ugly duckling - Over the past 30 hours, I have asked several people what previous event in India’s manufacturing history they can compare with Ratan Tata’s launch of the Nano as the world’s cheapest car... - 12th January 2008
  • Russian roulette - Cricket is the only game where 70,000 spectators and millions of TV viewers can watch replays on and off the field, and see how the umpire has made a mistake - but not allow the affected player or team to appeal against the wrong decision to a higher authority - 5th January 2008

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