Thursday, April 30, 2009

Learning to Live with Bloggers

Salil Tripathi has a article on bloggers and media, it’s interesting.

Bimal Jalan on The idea of a Rs 1 lakh house

Bimal Jalan on The idea of a Rs 1 lakh house

L K Advani Mantra: Physical and social, that is second to none

BJP Prime Ministerial Candidate L K Advani says

  • India won swaraj in 1947, thanks to the struggles and sacrifices of crores of patriots. But, even after 50 years, we have not yet succeeded in transforming swaraj (self governance) into su-raj (good governance). By good governance I mean adherence to suraksha (security), samruddhi (prosperity) and shuchita (probity in public life).”  
  • There is no better way of understanding and experiencing India than road travel. It was agonising for me to see, in large tracts of our country, the lack of the most basic necessities of economic growth and social progress. 
  • However, every once in a while, I also saw symbols of development that radiated hope. For example, after travelling on excruciatingly bad roads for several weeks, my yatra suddenly encountered a beautifully laid highway, a 200-kilometre-long stretch from Sambhalpur to Rourkela in Orissa. Built and maintained by Larsen & Tourbo (I was struck by its corporate slogan “We make things that make India proud”), this was one of the first experiments of PPP in road construction in India. 

Thinking is Science and writing is Art

Friend Sunil asks “Why are you limiting your blog to smallish commentaries on what others are thinking or writing? Looking forward to forms and structures of how you create your critique.” 

There are two different things in his question which need to be understood properly. Sunil, it is not as simple as you may see it the “smallish commentaries on what others are thinking or writing?” if one wanted to understand the process of social science as an entity in a economy  must try to understand two things one is how these “smallish commentaries” arises and at what situation. Most importantly, how it got formed his or her “thinking or writing?” what were their pushback’s to believe in some time and rubbish in another time but both are in his or her life time. 

Secondly “to forms and structures of how you create your critique” is an important exercise of a persons mind as well as its relationship with the writers or thinkers mind. You can not simply ignore one and look for other one. It is something like this if the child wanted to make sense of any word or letter (mostly merely ‘told’) have to be sure that at what extant that child has thought through and in at what way. 

So don’t ignore or underestimate any sort of opinions unless you are sure that he or she is making deliberately wrong and stupidly. 

If you ignore today, tomorrow its role will be as like the present Indian communists who are terribly ruined people’s mind and still continues. 

Who are responsible for that? It is the question of the leadership that has taken place in the fifties and later period India

In this process the ruled socialists created a situation where people believed that there is no alternative for issues like poverty, hunger, unemployment, The State Education etc. 

 Now you look back and honestly think that who was responsible for “creating the great Indian socialist darkness”. 

No more research is needs to answer the above question than the past fifteen or eighteen year period.

The housing boom and bust

The housing boom and bust

Kalam's four Grids….

Kalam's four Grids….

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hello, is anyone out there? I am saying some truth about THE BIG BLUNDER OF LEFT!

Yes, Mr Shashi Tharoor says in a interview to The Economic Times.

You have always been apolitical in your views. What made you join hands with the Indian National Congress? 

In a parliamentary system, political parties matter. Parties decide who should form the government which, in turn, decides the course of the entire nation. When I was making early decisions (to enter politics), I looked for values and wondered how I could make a contribution towards liberalism and social democracy. 

In the end, there was no doubt, it had to be Congress. There is very little scope in our system to stay independent and contest polls. Of the three national parties, the Left sadly is a prisoner of 19th century ideologies; it’s not a party to initiate progress and development…”

Swami’s Mantra….

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar writes in the Forbes that: 

  • “Liberalization of foreign investment in banking and insurance will not make much headway, given the mess that financiers have made in the U.S. Small businesses may thwart the entry of foreign investment in retail. Yet, post-recession, economic liberalization should spread to finance and retail.
  • Two major dangers remain. Every political party is promising grandiose subsidies and spending sprees. Congress promises every poor family 25 kilos of grain per month at three rupees per kilo, while the BJP promises 35 kilos at two rupees per kilo. The fiscal deficit is already 11% of GDP, and will continue this high for at least two years. National debt is over 80% of GDP. This could crowd out private investment and remains a long-term issue.
  • The second big danger is Mayawati's demand for a job quota in the private sector for dalits and tribals, a form of reverse discrimination. Other parties may agree as a condition for her support. The Constitution guarantees job quotas for these two classes in government jobs. But quotas in the private sector could mean substandard manpower, seriously hitting India's competitiveness, especially in high-tech areas like computer software. Legal experts feel that the Supreme Court will strike down job quotas in the private sector as unconstitutional.
  • A minor danger is the return of wealth tax and capital gains tax on shares. This could hit the stock market. These measures are favored by the Left Front and Samajwadi Party, which might just dominate a Third Front government. Finance Ministry technocrats may manage to scotch such moves.
  • The race is wide open, and I estimate the chances of key candidates as follows.
  • Mayawati (BSP) 33% to 38%
  • Manmohan Singh (Congress) 28% to 33%
  • L.K.Advani (BJP) 20% to 28%
  • Others 20% to 28% 
  • "Others" include Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP); Sharad Pawar (NCP); Laloo Yadav (RJD); Jayalalitha (AIADMK): Chandrababu Naidu (TDP): Navin Patnaik (BJD): Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) and Nitish Kumar (JDU).” 

 We have already seen our libertarian Mr Sharad Joshi comments here

Blind media….

In the business of reporting news many misreporting happens in all kinds of media. 

See today’s one in the rediff: 

  • In a surprise move, the 84-year-old Chief Minister drove to the memorial of late C N Annadurai early this morning and sat on a fast there demanding immediate ceasefire in the Sri Lankan army's offensive against the LTTE. 
  • Pranab Mukherjee [Images] and AK Antony have been discussing this with their officials over phone. These two are busy in electioneering. Hence they may not be arriving before noon in Delhi. Doctors attending on DMK chief Minister Karunanidhi have expressed concerns over the health of 88-year-old politician.” 

This is only one example, think of every reporting persons do the same in some or other day.

The news items are already skewed, now again misreported means what sort of services these people are doing for The Society? 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thanks to unelectable people

Shortcut to India Parliament

Socialist India wasn’t interested in individual enterprise in a free market.

Socialist India wasn’t interested in individual enterprise in a free market. 

Thanks to “namesake of the model”

Tim Swanson writes in the 

  • “It should be noted that there is nothing inherently wrong with attempting to mathematically model human behavior. However, what they and others like Prasanta Mahalanobis (namesake of the model) attempted to do was quantify human action using inherently incomplete equations — using false assumptions to fill in for a continually changing series of individual preferences (or in their case, risks/demand). 
  • everything that policy makers – at every level – are doing is more of the same foolhardy economic planning that leads to lower productivity and more financial strain. But, before lamenting the details of any recent political escapades, another aspect should be brought into the fold.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It is very easy to come out with an idea but to validate that idea…..

Image: (Left to right) Sudha Murthy, N R Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani and Rohini Nilekani, a journalist at Bombay magazine before their wedding, at a picnic near Bangalore in the early 1980s. | Photograph, courtesy: Infosys technologies and Rediff.

In the second part of his interview with Rediff Mr N R Narayana Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys Technologies says interesting and disappointing.

What do you think could be done to make higher education in India better?

To enhance the quality of our higher education, we can do five things:

One, enhance the autonomy of our higher education system;

Second, encourage them to collaborate with world-class institutions outside India, within India too, but most of them are outside India... ;

Third, bring in a sense of meritocracy in the selection of students and the appointment and promotion of faculty;

Fourth, create incentives for our faculty members to do more world-class research; and

Fifth, remove any licensing in the education system. We gave up most of industrial licensing in 1991. It is silly that we continue licensing of our educational institutions.

Talking about higher education... even the recommendations made to the Knowledge Commission have not been implemented? Why does this happen?

The Indian society is a society of ideas. It is a society that has revered talk. In this society, articulation is mistaken for accomplishment. We are quite satisfied with our voice, with our writings. This is not a society that is focussed on execution.

Frankly, the problem is due to our caste system and the dominance of Brahmins in our society for long period. The Brahminical system said my job is to think of the higher worlds. My job is to think of connecting you people with God. I don't want to do anything that has a relationship with the real world.

Now that is a problem that has played havoc with the Indian culture. So, here in this culture, if you do anything with your hands, it is considered less honourable that anything to do with your brain.

Here everybody wants to be an engineer, nobody wants to be a technician. So when a society does not value implementation, execution, what happens is you create more and more reports and nothing gets done.

For example, (Reliance Industries Chairman) Mr Mukesh Ambani and I gave two reports on how to improve the higher education system: one to (then prime minister) Mr Vajpayee and one to Dr Manmohan Singh.

Second, there has been the Knowledge Commission. Nothing has happened. Third, in 1998 I was a member of the IT Task Force -- which was headed by Mr Jaswant Singh -- and that task force submitted its report somewhere in 1999 0r 2000.

Nine years and I don't think even one suggestion has been implemented. And we made 108 suggestions! So that is why I am not a big fan of ideas in India.

My brother-in-law is a famous professor of physics at Caltech and he tells me it is very easy to come out with an idea. But to validate that idea he and his doctoral students will have to work hard for six months, one year... sometimes two years. That takes 20 hours of work each day for two years. So it is important to come out with new ideas, but it is even more important to execute them.

We are not a nation of doers; we are a nation which believes that our articulation is our accomplishment.

Was he a visionary politician?

Image: Narayana Murthy with his just released book. | Photograph: Rajesh Karkera

In a interview with Rediff Mr Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys Technologies says: 

Which politician has influenced you the most? 

Jawaharlal Nehru. See, first of all Mahatma Gandhi... but he was not a politician, so we should not even bring him into the conversation. 

But Jawaharlal Nehru was a visionary politician. He achieved so much in the first 12 years since the birth of the Republic of India. We built five steel plants, we built Bhakra Nangal dam, we built Damodar Valley Corporation, we had atomic energy establishment, Indian Institutes of name it, Nehru did it. 

He demonstrated that we in India can bring about extraordinary progress even through public sector, but what has happened is that after him successive governments somehow have condoned corruption, have condoned inefficiency, and have lost sight of focus of excellence in implementation. 

That's the reason why you see delays in almost all projects. It's got nothing to do with people, with the country. 

It's got everything to do with the leaders or the quality and vision of leaders in the country. 

Chacha Manmohan Singh's Daman Singh words

Daman Singh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second daughter, interview to the rediff said. 

  • “My mother, my father, my dog Snoopy and I, all of us sit, and everybody except my dog reads the newspapers. My father reads some dozen papers in English and Urdu. He scans every single newspaper. He sometimes makes notes as well. 
  • Asked about Dr Singh's single most important achievement, Daman Singh says, "I think my father has given a lot of dignity to our country. He has enhanced national dignity."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We all accept crooks in the subject of ‘politics’ but not in ‘science’

V. Raghunathan asks some basic questions as a citizen of India but the relevant is very high both in terms of time and the future democracy is concerned. 

  • The abysmal attendance record of some of our celebrity parliamentarians—as measured by mere signing of the register and not by participation in the parliamentary proceedings—has been much in the news recently. Clearly, no attendance requirement applies to our representatives. Why? 
  • Criminal background and behaviour, which may be unacceptable in students or employees in any decent school or organization, are perfectly acceptable for our parliamentarians. Why? 
  • Our education minister does not have to be an educationist or the minister for urban planning an architect. Nor is it essential for a parliamentarian to be a degree holder in political science or have a record of public service. Why? 
  • One would imagine that neither running of industries nor running of the state is a part-time job. How, then, do we expect industrialists such as Rahul Bajaj and Vijay Mallya to juggle their industrial empires with statecraft? Or a senior leader such as Sharad Pawar to juggle statecraft with cricket? Or a Govinda (incidentally, he did not attend a single parliamentary session in 2007) or a Jaya Prada to juggle their Bollywood careers with parliamentary sessions? But we have put them there as members of Parliament. Why? 
  • While a 56-year-old colonel is too old to run his regiment, an octogenarian parliamentarian is not too old to run the country. Why? 
  • Corporate governance is important, but not so country governance. Why?

Elections: Little debate on national issues

The Founder of Shetkari Sanghatana and Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Mr.Sharad Joshi says

  • There is every likelihood that the post-2009 government will last no more than 24 months and that fresh elections will need to be called, at the latest, sometime in 2011.
  • The Third Front would, of course, like the country to go back to the old days of socialist protectionism. In fact, they are convinced that if India has come off rather lightly from the present crisis it is because of the reservations they made when they were a part of the UPA.
  • The Congress Party would be embarrassed to talk of ‘return to socialism’ and, at the same time, present Dr Manmohan Singh as their prime ministerial candidate. The party is resorting to gimmickry by shrouding socialist philosophy in its ‘aam aadmi’ philosophy.
  • This populist thought has its origin in Nobel Laureate Dr Amartya Sen’s exhortations. In the hands of the politicians it can be summarised as: Enticing voters by waving promises of ‘free lunches’ and perks of all kinds at the cost of the state exchequer and using a highly leaky state pipeline to carry the goodies.

The idea of an independent has arrived……..

The Association for Democratic Reform associate Ajit Ranade has reasonable questions like why there is no single law that regulate or governs Indian political parties. Ajit writes in the today’s TOI

“Our democracy functions through parties, but our parties themselves do not function democratically.  

We need a comprehensive law to regulate the functioning and funding of parties. We need to enforce inner party democracy, transparency in finances and criteria for entry and advancement. Until then we have to depend on the voice of the lone independent, both from within or outside parties who will make sure that the script returns to genuine democratic dialogue.”  

Indeed, our current home minister P Chidambaram wrote in his article in the Indian Express which was published later in book form. He said “…what we need is comprehensive law to regulate political parties just as we have a companies Act to regulate the affairs of companies we must have a law that will lay down detailed rules to govern the functioning of political parties” (p. 280). 

After writing this he was in UPA government for five years but he could not do anything on this idea. Because no political party is willing to buy his ideas and result is all they wanted to make is fool of people and the business community. 

The plans and commands of centralized government failed understanding of economic laws and principles.

My mentor and liberal economist Sauvik Chakraverti has good article in today’s Mint. The last paragraph read: 

“To clear this mess, we must get The State out of education. As Frederic Bastiat, a classical liberal, wrote in his manifesto of 1842: “If you want to have theories, systems, methods, principles, textbooks and teachers forced on you by the government, that is up to you; but do not expect me to sign, in your name, such a shameful abdication of your rights.” He added: “The monopoly of teaching cannot reasonably be entrusted to any but an authority recognized as infallible. Otherwise, there is an unlimited risk that error be uniformly taught to the people as a whole.” So let us be optimistic. There is much we can achieve without The State.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What good are economists anyway?

 What good are economists anyway?

Much of the party is still nostalgic for the Nehruvian socialism that for so long impeded India’s growth

The Economist has Leaders article on Indian general election, it has taken its position by saying (seems to be) in one line that ‘India is in Great Socialist Darkness for long time’. Some excerpts:

  • India’s general election got under way... It will be spread over five stages, taking four weeks and involving 6.5m staff. In 543 constituencies, 4,617 candidates, representing some 300 parties, will compete for the ballots of an electorate of 714m eligible voters. In 828,804 polling stations, 1,368,430 simple, robust and apparently tamper-proof electronic voting machines will be deployed. It is hard not to be impressed by the process—and its resilience. 
  • A poor, diverse country of more than 30 main languages and six main religions, India also has, in the Hindu caste system, a tradition of hierarchy seemingly at odds with a system of universal suffrage. The country suffers security threats that would provide many a government with the excuse to suspend elections. Kashmir has been riven by insurgency for more than two decades; parts of the north-east for even longer. Maoist revolutionaries-cum-bandits stoke another fire in India’s interior and staged attacks as polling began this week. Yet, apart from the brief months of the “emergency” in 1975, India has never curtailed its people’s right to choose their rulers. And now, more than ever, that right is to be prized. 
  • The election comes amid the deepest global economic slump for two generations. India faces difficult choices as it seeks to escape the worst of the downturn. 
  • Yet Mr Singh’s government has made scant progress towards one of the main goals it set itself in 2004. This was to reform India’s creaking, corrupt administrative structures so that policies formulated in Delhi might actually be implemented in the villages where most Indians still live. Partly because of that failure, and despite sharp falls in the poverty rate, appalling numbers of Indians are still desperately poor. One-quarter of the world’s malnourished live in India, among them 40% of all Indian children under five. To Mr Singh’s credit, it is the plight of the poorest, not India’s GDP growth-figures, that is usually the starting-point for his policy speeches. This is also shrewd: the poor do not care about his achievements as a diplomat and globaliser, which scarcely impinge on their lives. 
  • As in other countries, elections in India tend not to be dominated by grand national issues. And, as elsewhere, an Indian election may look splendid from a distance, but up close can be ugly. Campaigns are dominated by personalities, money and, in some places, intimidation. Many candidates seek votes through beggar-thy-neighbour appeals to the self-interest of a particular linguistic, caste or religious group. 
  • Even in such an unpredictable contest, two outcomes are sadly fairly safe bets. First, parliament will have to make room for a lot of shady characters. Nearly a quarter of the current members have faced criminal charges. Nor are their alleged offences all petty. They include murder, rapes and kidnaps. 
  • Much of the party is still nostalgic for the Nehruvian socialism that for so long impeded India’s growth. 
  • In power, the BJP also had a creditable record of economic management. But it has not escaped its origins as the political wing of the Hindutva, or “Hindu-ness” movement. 
  • For this reason, The Economist, if it had a vote, would plump for Mr Singh’s Congress. But in reality, the choice between the two big parties is not the one on offer. In India the poor, proportionately, are more likely to vote than are the middle classes. It often makes sense for them to back regional parties campaigning on local issues: they are more likely to fulfil their promises. But it does make for hopelessly unwieldy governing coalitions. One solution would be to introduce national thresholds below which parties would be ineligible for seats in parliament. But reform would need the approval of those elected under present arrangements, so it is not on the cards.”

More nuanced answer to failure……….

Mr.GURCHARAN DAS has piece in WSJ titled “The Dharma of Capitalism” in which he writes:

  • “President Barack Obama's reaction to the crisis, among other things, was to seek to claw back bank bonuses. Congressional Democrats suggested an extortionate tax on bonus recipients at banks that received federal bailout money. To want to punish someone in this crisis is understandable but it is a dangerous path. What the world needs instead is the calm and principled voice of King Yudhishthira. He would have appealed for a voluntary return of bonuses while explaining to the public that Wall Street had been bailed out to save Main Street's pain. Furthermore, honoring bonus contracts is necessary to support the rule of law.
  • If envy is the sin of socialism, greed is the sin of capitalism. As capitalist nations grow, the resulting wealth creates enervating influences. Generations of savers are replaced by spenders. Ferocious competition is a feature of the free market and it can be corrosive. But it is also an economic stimulant that promotes human welfare. The subtle art of dharma tries to strike the right balance between healthy and unhealthy competition.
  • The choice for policy makers today is not between free markets and central planning but in getting the mix of regulation right. No one wants state ownership of production where the absence of competition corrodes the character even more. Dharma's approach is not to seek moral perfection, which leads inevitably to theocracy or dictatorship. It recognizes that it is in man's nature to want more and it seeks to give coherence to our desires by containing them within the discipline of an ordered existence.
  • We must learn to live with imperfection but seek the sort of regulation that not only catches crooks but also rewards dharma-like behavior and nobility of character.”

In the ET Mr Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar says “… the problem as Obama’s cowardice rather than corruption. I don’t expect another Great Depression: at worst, the US will suffer stagnation of the sort Japan had in the 1990s. Most likely, we will see a long, weak recovery. Either way, it’s bad news for India, which badly needs US resurgence.

Only such people have succeeded…….

In the second part of the interview with Rediff Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi says some interesting information; some excerpts. 

You know that India has the world's largest population of youth. This could be a demographic bonus or a demographic time bomb, depending on how they are harnessed. 

There was a time when it was believed that population was a problem, but the way the world's economic environment has since changed, India's population is considered an asset. The same advantage is with China also. 

But if these young people don't get jobs, it could lead to major social unrest. 

I don't accept this theory. The youth have talent -- they don't want a job, they want work. They want to develop their skills. China has begun work on some 80,000 skill development projects, whereas the Indian government has started only 600. 

I told the PM at a meeting, 'What are we doing? By itself my state is running 2,000 skill development projects and I want to increase this number by the hundreds, have public-private partnerships.' 

Our youth need value-addition, they are capable of doing it and they are doing it. They should be given an opportunity. 

Similarly, if an opportunity is given, will you lead the nation? 

I believe that the chief ministers of even the smallest Indian states are major instruments of powering the nation. And I, as a chief minister, am part of running the nation. 

Will you deny that you have no ambition whatsoever to become the prime minister? 

I have a mission, not ambition. I was not born to become something, I was born to do something. 

I did not have a desire to become somebody when I was a child, I don't have it now, nor will I have it in the future. 

I have a dream, to do something. I want to do something for the nation. I am part of the mission, not ambition. 

Ambition doesn't inspire me, mission does. 

What are the other things that drive Narendra Modi? 

Only devotion to Bharat Mata. That is enough for me. 

What are the challenges that face India today? 

We have a 100 crore population, which presents us with an opportunity to make the 21st century ours, to unleash the energy in the common man and take the nation forward. This is a big opportunity, and we should grab it. 

Who is your leadership model? Who are you inspired by? 

From my childhood I have been influenced by Swami Vivekanandji's life. I have studied his life, and live by it. I don't cross the limit. 

How much time do you spend on politics? 

In a way, if I say it myself it will seem immodest, but the reality is I am an apolitical chief minister. I leave for office at 9 am, and am there till 11 pm. Only during the elections, for those 30, 40 days, I spend my time on party work, otherwise the rest of my time I spend as an apolitical chief minister. I am not interested in this type of political activity.. 

People say this time you got your way with the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. 

We have a collective leadership, a democratic system. We heard the opinions of 10,000 party workers, the state team went to every district, and after listening to everyone we debated the findings from which we zoomed in on the plus points and minus points of various potential candidates. 

The state's 17-member team met them and gave their opinion. Then the decision from the grass-roots was conveyed to Delhi, and not to the chief minister.

In Delhi the 21-member team discussed the choice for hours and after this exercise whatever the Delhi team decided, I accepted it. This was the entire process.

Isn't this the problem with Indian politics? Too much credit is given to age and experience while someone who is younger and more dynamic, more efficient is ignored...

Let me share my experience with you. Please don't take this in any other way, and don't give a political colour to it, it's of no use.

I am saying this as a student. We should compare any two prime ministers, and here I will take the names of two Congress prime ministers. Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao.

Rajiv Gandhi was young and dynamic, had foreign exposure, he had everything, was good-looking, charismatic. Narasimha Rao had retired completely from public life, but had to suddenly return to active politics. Healthwise, and looks-wise, he was different.

But who ran the government better for five years? Who provided India a better leadership? If you think about it, Narasimha Rao's government was connected to the masses, and the nation benefited.

One simple reason: India is such a large nation, with so many languages, and only someone who has been around for a long time can solve its problems. So in this case, he was successful.

If you look at India's political history, too, only such people have succeeded.

But Narasimha Rao's government was accused of corruption.

Look, it was less compared to the Bofors scandal. I am not calling him great. I am merely saying, in comparison, who was plus and who was minus, I am only saying that. I am not giving Narasimha Rao any certificate. Bofors was no less. I am saying, compare the two and see who comes off better.

Both had pluses and minuses.

But the ultimate plus, was more with him though I agree no one has only negative aspects. And that is because for years he was involved with the situation, with the problems, any issues in Nagaland he could sit here and discern if this was the case, then that would be the outcome. Because he had experience, vision. He wielded a lot of power in such a large country.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hay Demand and Supply-what economists don’t understand

When I was undergraduate student in economics a accountancy professor use to tell us how Chartered accountants forget to remember which is ‘credit’ and which is ‘debit’. 

How economists misunderstand the concept of Demand and Supply. 

Brian Wesbury writes in The American Spectator: 

  • “President Obama argues that, “with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life.” Unfortunately, the federal government gets those resources from the private sector in the first place. So where is the “jolt” to come from?” 
  • “Supply-siders get excited about the future and remain mostly optimistic because they believe in human ingenuity. They look for ways to encourage risk-taking, wonder where the next invention will come from, and believe that opportunity is endless. What the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter described as “creative destruction” is the process of economic advancement. 
  • In the end, supply-siders have faith in individuals, especially in times of crisis, while demand-siders have faith in government. Think about this for a minute.” 

I strongly recommend the American economist Thomas Sowell book on “Basic Economics- A Common Sense Guide to the Economy to the US President Obama  to understand the jangle of supply vs demand side and how resources are allocated an market economy vs state controlled economy.

India is new to IT and urbanism… but still lingering with the Great Indian Socialist Darkness….

In a interview with the ET Mr N R Narayana Murthy says some interesting discussion especially about Nehru. Some excerpts:   

  • “we have been unable to redeem the pledge that our founding fathers took when India got independence. That is to provide decent access to education, nutrition, healthcare and welfare to the poorest of the poor. India has the largest mass of illiterates in the world, largest mass of poor people in the world, 250 million people don't have access to safe drinking water, 650 million people do not have access to decent sanitation. So this whole paradigm of 8-9% GDP growth becomes somewhat irrelevant when you look at these aspects. 
  • ..a country like India we need to solve three pieces of development -- first is creating a public opinion that values good work ethic, honesty, discipline, secularism. Second, we need to develop a cadre of leadership who espouse these values and serve as role models and demonstrate leadership by example. Third, we need the determination of the elite and the powerful in the society to eschew creation of asymmetry of benefits in their favour vis-à-vis the common man. Only when these three conditions are fulfilled will we be able to create a fair, just, equitable and inclusive growth in our society. In essence this is the fundamental thesis on which the book is based.  
  • I don't think that there is any shortage of good quality people. The important thing is for our political parties to provide opportunities to the young. For instance just as in Infosys I voluntarily gave up the MD position when I was 52 and later the CEO position at 56 years and supported those youngsters who came to those position. I believe it's important that politicians give new opportunity to younger people.  
  • Can you tell us about some of the lectures in the book? 
  • They all address different, crucial aspects of our progress. For example, Address to Students and Values (parts 1 &2) I believe are extremely important. There is a lecture about `What Can We Learn from the West' delivered as the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture which touches upon how we can make our already wonderful value system even stronger. Then there is the Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture `In Praise of Secularism' which is very important at this hour of extraordinary progress we are making.  

I read with interest particularly the `What Can We Learn from the West' and `In Praise of Secularism' the latter one is not just eye opening but seems to be miracle of war with word like minority. I was happened to receive the last copy of Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture `In Praise of Secularism' published by TERI. 

  • We have to ensure that there is a spirit of oneness in our country rather than differentiating ourselves. We have to summon the energy, enthusiasm, hope and confidence of every community in India to make this a better country and that's where secularism is very important. There is a lecture on the Role of Discipline in Accelerating National Development which emphasizes that unless we embrace discipline in every aspect of our live we will not be able to bring fast and equitable growth.  
  • The way our politics is going these days regional issues are more important, regional parties are taking centre stage... 
  • That's because the quality of our political leaders is going down. Remember when Jawaharlal Nehru was the PM between 1950 and 1962 this country achieved extraordinary growth. Five steel plants were completed, Bhaba Atomic Energy Research Centre was established Tata Institute of Fundamental research became strong, Bhakra Nangal dam came up, IITs, AIIMS, you name it all of that happened in 12 years post independence. You tell me of any other 12 year period where we made such growth in government. 
  • If you have a great leader of the caliber of Nehru even India with all its problems even after independence, with all its lack of resources can make extraordinary progress. Establishing five steel plants is not easy but the man did it. Establishing a centre for atomic energy research is not easy, he did. Getting 400 plus Phds from around the world to IIT Kanpur was not easy, he did it. All of this happened because of the vision of one man. 
  • In fact in 1967 many of my professors at IIT Kanpur said they all came back to India because of the vision and the enthusiasm of Nehru. Today these institutes are not able to attract five such faculties per year but that man attracted 400 such people at just one institute. What does it tell you? It tells you if you have great leaders you can achieve what seems impossible. I am absolutely convinced, as I have written in the book, three fundamental pieces of development -- values practiced by people, leaders who serve as a role models and the elite and the powerful who will eschew any asymmetry of benefits. These three pieces of development puzzle are absolutely necessary if India has to make decent, equitable, just fair, growth. 
  • ………….unfortunately as Franz Fanon has said in his book *Black Skin, White Mask*, the tragedy of most post colonial societies is that the elite and the powerful continue to operate as colonizers, operate under a different set of rules. The civil society has to stand up and change this.” 

A group of men come and construct an empire called language, words etc.

In a lunch interview with BS Mr Ramachandra Guha says

  • “The link between tribal deprivation and Naxalism is very clear and should be a wake up call to our policymakers.” It would be very foolish to see Naxalism as simply a law and order problem. It is a problem of mal-development or distorted development. “But the tragedy is that Naxalites can’t provide the Adivasis a long-term solution. It may be too a romantic but if the Naxalites were to follow the Nepali Maoists and enter the democratic process, if they were to lay down guns and fight elections, that would really bring about concrete change in those areas.” 
  • Mr Roy gently puts Mr “Guha has recently hit the headlines with a seven-book contract with Penguin which has reportedly fetched him a crore. His emphatic response is, “I hope so, I hope so. I think there are lots of talented young Indian writers who have gone into writing fiction because they felt that’s the true mark of literary success, not just financial success.” This is a pity as “India is a large diverse complex society undergoing some profound transformation. There are so many interesting and exciting topics — biographical, historical, political — that we could write about. I hope that younger writers are now encouraged to move into this field.”

Amartya Sen warns against banning English

There is a news which says that the India Great Indian Socialist economist Amartya Sen warns banning English!.

But he could not do it against the socialism that killed or killing equally like the one by banning English.


The idea of “A Better India, A Better World”

So, it’s now his turn to make reader busy with his book probably the young people. The Infosys chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy book "A Better India, A Better World" just released.

He says in a interview with NDTV:

When I look at the big canvas of India, I often feel confused, agitated and powerless—but also motivated to find solutions to the problems of poverty. We continue to rationalize our failures. No other society has mastered this trait as well as we have. Obviously this is an excuse to justify our incompetence, corruption and apathy. This attitude has to change.

Asked for his wish list for the new government that is due to be installed in a few weeks' time, Murthy listed the all-important issue of food security for children as a top priority.

“Mid-day meals to alleviate hunger is even more important than healthcare,” he said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big idea of Indiauncut!

Indiauncut blogger Mr Amit Verma has been ranked in a list of India's 50 Most Powerful People 2009 in Business Week. 

Congratulations Amit!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Conglomerate of American Universities

Harish Damodaran has interesting article on "Universities must be well endowed"

I have an innate need to write!

During my school days I was busy with either farming or sports (mainly hokey, food ball and kabaddi). But in college I turned to write what I liked but intended to do. All I wrote was in Tamil (my mother tongue). I wrote essays, poems both for competition and personal likings. I also won few awards for these works. 

Two special things is worthy to mention here: one, for an essay I have received a journal every month in free of cost as a prize, second, for an poem which I wrote on ‘Pongal’ (Tamil Nadu’s harvesting festival) won a award called “Kavi Murasu”. These two things I considered as important in my life as it influenced to learn further on diverse topics. But I always questioned me writings and why I do and the purpose: a couple of questions that I was asking myself were also asked by a literature Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk

I wrote an essay which won a prize and the prize distribution function was organized in central Tamil Nadu (Salem). I could not receive this prize because I was travelling for another event in Delhi

Pamuk interesting questions are from his Nobel lecture: 

“…..the favourite question, is; why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can't do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. 

I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. 

I write because it is exciting to turn all of life's beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can't quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.

Long live millions of poor!

A IAS turned economist turned RBI Governor turned nominated Member of Parliament in Indian Raja Sabha (upper house)  Mr Bimal Jalan wrote a piece recently in The Hindu in which he express his concerns on the function of Indian Parliament. 

Some excerpts: 

  • “The time allotted to different parties and nominated members is decided in terms of their number as a percentage of the total membership of the House. Nominated members who constitute 4 percent of the total members of Rajya Sabha are entitled to a maximum of only 4 percent of time allotted for debate on any subject. What is even more significant is that their turn comes after all major parties have spoken and the House is virtually empty.
  • First, the accountability of ministers to parliament has been considerably eroded. We now have coalitions in power with a large number of parties of different sizes. Leaders of different parties can continue in cabinet without any individual or collective responsibility to parliament or, for that matter, Prime Minister. 
  • Second, in view of anti-defection law, individual members of a party are completely subservient to their party leaders. Interestingly, this law does not apply to small parties which join a government. Thus, there is a built-in incentive for any leader to set up a separate party with even 4 or 5 members. If he or she is the leader of a small party, that person would command a huge premium and would be sought after by dominant parties. Third, the rules of business in parliament can be ignored with impunity without any adverse consequences. Fourth, the overwhelming primacy is given to whatever government wants to be done by parliament, including passage of bills with or without discussion. 
  •  An immediate priority is to make anti-defection law applicable to all parties which join a government rather than only to members individually. Similarly, changes in business procedures of parliament are required to improve the speaking order and minimum time allotted to individual members who wish to participate in debates. Under no circumstances should a legislative bill be passed without discussion and actual voting. Another priority area for reform is the internal democratization of political parties. 
  • Let me end with a quote from a note handed over to me by a Member of Parliament who was a distinguished member of a political party: 
  • “You made an excellent speech and a lot of us totally agree with you. The Anti-Defection Amendment has curbed the consciences of MPs. We have to follow party whips even if we do not agree as in this case of the Offices of Profit Bill. Congratulations.” 
  • I am, of course, grateful for the above generous remarks. However, it is equally disheartening to note that even if that member were a great “celebrity” and a recognised genius, she would not have been able to express her views. 
  • It would benefit citizens, if in addition to counting questions and attendance of members in parliament, public-spirited organisations and media were to highlight the urgent need for political reforms to make the working of India’s democratic institutions less oligarchic and more people-oriented.” 

We had peoples President, now we have peoples car but we do not know where is our people’s parliament?

Imbalance is the balance: real vs money and balance of payment

Kaushik Das has good piece in today’s Mint emphasizing the real sector and money growth but what will never happen is what he is also concerned about it. He says in an economy the “...M3 growth should equal nominal gross domestic growth (GDP) growth (ex ante Real GDP growth plus ex ante inflation) after factoring in the income elasticity of demand for M3 growth”.  

The same logic goes with the countries balance of payment which is not balanced.

Not a single party leader was ready to make that promise

In a interview with Rediff Mr Jayparakash Narayan President of Lok Satta Party says: 

  • In what way Lok Satta is different from the other political parties? 
  • The conventional parties are trying to make the people a beggar by offering free things like free TV, free rice and free electricity. Instead of seriously making efforts to eradicate poverty and enabling the people to stand on their own feet with dignity, they want to reduce them to beggary. They have made politics a business. They buy voters with money and liquor and on coming to power they make ten times more money. They eat the public money and remaining they would use for distributing free TV, free rice and electricity. Divide and rule remains their political philosophy. They divide people in to Hindus, Muslims, in the name of region and castes. 
  • What is your agenda? 
  • We need do three things on top priority. Eradicate poverty, decentralise the government completely, and third -- bring accountability, transparency and fight against corruption.
  • Poverty can be eradicated within five years and with the present budget of Rs 1 lakh crore for Andhra Pradesh. For this we need four things, compulsory education for every child irrespective of his/her community, caste and creed, free, in private or government sector, with English and computers. We need to develop skills in the youth to make them employable. We want to build 1,000 small towns across the state at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore generating 50 lakh jobs stimulating the economy. We will provide urban facilities in the rural areas. 
  • Third, we need free health care to the people as a national policy ranging from preventive cure to the treatment and surgery for any big ailment. We can do it through private-public participation and competition between the service providers. Fourth, in agriculture and traditional occupations like weaving, pottery etc, we will enhance income by upgrading skills, using technology and providing access to the market. 
  • Will it be same as the Zilla Parishad? 
  • No. It will be much better than that. The will have more power. It will be a local government at the doorsteps of the people. 
  • Secondly, we will try to achieve Rs 1000 per capita to every town, village and ward. Suppose if a village has a population of 5000, we will give them Rs 50 lakh per annum to meet the local needs like drinking water roads, drainage, toilets at home and in public places, parks, street lighting. They will have to take care of all these things. It will be only 8% of the total public spending. They will not have to go around begging money for these purposes. 
  • Take a city like Hyderabad where every ward has a population of 50,000. We will give Rs 5 crore to every such ward which will be spent by a ward committee including a local corporator and a local elected citizen from every polling centre. Thus we will build a local government around the citizen, unlike a centralised, remote, incompetent and corrupt government 
  • How about corruption? 
  • We will have zero tolerance for corruption and make Right To Information Act a powerful weapon by implementing it completely and fairly. Once the politics itself is clean, we don't spend Rs 5 crore to get elected. When there will be no vote buying, then you can have clean government. 

However, Mr Narayan is silent on how he will get money and where and how much he will tax and so on. Unless he has clarity people will start doubting him and his party. If he wanted to be transparent let us share your plan of tax and how to get resources for funding.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Probably I am mad when I read the history of Indian Economic Thought………

I read an interesting excerpt from Patrick French’s biography of V S Naipaul. Mr V S wrote in the 60s which Patrick says “After nearly a year of travel and enquiry in India for the book, Vidia returned to London and wrote a letter to Moni Malhoutra, an IAS officer with whom he had stayed in the district of Faizabad, UP:” 

V S letter: "The point that one feels inescapable is the fact of India's poverty; and how deep is one's contempt for those Indians who, finding no difficulty in accepting one standard in India and another outside it, fail to realise this, and are failing to work night and day for the removal of this dreadful insult and humiliation.... The lavatories at Palam (airport) were literally covered with shit and the aerodrome officer could only speak of the shortage of staff (i.e. sweepers). I wonder, wonder if the shitting habits of Indians are not the key to all their attitudes.... So goodbye to shit and sweepers; goodbye to people who tolerate everything; goodbye to all the refusal to act; goodbye to the absence of dignity; goodbye to the poverty; goodbye to caste and that curious pettiness which permeates that vast country; goodbye to people who, though consulting astrologers, have no sense of their destiny as men.... Not only must caste go, but all those sloppy Indian garments; all those saris and lungis; all that squatting on the floor to eat, to write, to serve in a shop, to piss.... Probably I am mad. But it seems to me that everything conspires to keep India down." 

Mr V.S was “Aged barely 17, he had written to his sister Kamla, then studying at Benares Hindu University: "I am glad you told off those damned inefficient, scheming Indians. I am planning to write a book about these damned people and the wretched country of theirs, exposing their detestable traits. Grill them on everything." Now it was time for Vidia to write that book, to grill them on everything:An Area of Darkness was the result, offering a passionate analysis

Power of entrepreneurship in solving the problem of poverty in India…..

N.R. NARAYANA MURTHY writes in his book (Excerpt published in outlook 20 April 2009 from A Better India: A Better World by N. R. Narayana Murthy; Allen Lane (Penguin India), Rs 499): 

  • “The enigma of India is that our progress in higher education and in science and technology has not been sufficient to take 350 million Indians out of illiteracy. It is difficult to imagine that 318 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and 250 million people do not have access to basic medical care. 
  • Why should 630 million people not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities even in 2009? When you see world-class supermarkets and food chains in our towns, and when our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, why should 51 per cent of the children in the country be undernourished? 
  • When India is among the largest producers of engineers and scientists in the world, why should 52 per cent of the primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes? When our politicians and bureaucrats live in huge houses in Lutyens’ Delhi and the state capitals, our corporate leaders splurge money on mansions, yachts and planes, and our urban youth revel in their latest sports shoes, why should 300 million Indians live on hardly Rs 545 per month, barely sufficient to manage two meals a day, with little or no money left for schooling, clothes, shelter and medicine?
  • These questions have been troubling me right from that day when I spent a lonely, hungry, cold and introspective 21 hours in the guard’s compartment on a freight train going from the historic city of Nis, in what was then Yugoslavia and is now Serbia, to Istanbul, way back in 1974. I have had some success in demonstrating the power of entrepreneurship in solving the problem of poverty through my experiment of creating Infosys. Yet, when I look at the big canvas of India, I often feel confused, agitated and powerless—but also motivated to find solutions to this problem.

Marxist as killer of freedom and new Dailt parties are lover of castes

A friend of mine was studied accountancy and costing and I studied economics. We use to discuss whenever we meet but never on Marxist ideas but in general. One day he suddenly wanted to discuss about the Indian Marxist parties and their approach of economic policy. 

It was not surprise when he said that “these Marxist are destroying our country otherwise would have been much better than the present level”. He went on in fact these people have killed many millions by advocating what they like and like one side minded and never thought of alternatives. He further discovered that “these people considered non Indian or outsider policy advocates as foreigners but these folks never considered Karl Marx as foreigner! What a nonsense he said.

And now Mr Ramachandra Guha writes in the Outlook (April 20 2009) that “..Marxist politicians are in some respects more decent than the rest. Surveys have consistently shown that CPI and CPI(M) MPs are less corrupt and less prone to criminality than politicians of other parties.” 

I gave only one example just imagine in a larger level. And in my view it is wrong to say Indian Marxist are “decent than the rest”. If we say likely or dizzily we tend to fool ourselves. 

Further Mr Guha urges that “A pragmatic Left must also appreciate the benefits of entrepreneurship and innovation, of seeking to increase the size of the economic cake so that there are bigger slices to go all around.” 

At least to me it looks he is asking a dead snakes to show picture but not to attack people! 

Even if the ‘left’ or Marxist decided to accept free market ideas, the world will not be hunger, poverty, inequality (add whatever you think) free world! 

They have done more than enough damages in India. For example, as Mr Bhagwan Das, a research associate of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar said in an interview to TOI in which he says: 

  • “What changes have you witnessed in Dalit politics since independence? 
  • It has deteriorated. In the pre-independence days, Dalit leaders used to be well educated and informed about issues regarding their community and the society as a whole. The movement was vibrant. Unlike today it wasn't only lip service and vote-bank politics. They encouraged untouchables to take up education. For example, Babasaheb started three colleges across Maharashtra and a school in Mumbai. Ambedkar didn't only talk about fight against exploitation but also against the caste system. But today, everybody uses Babasaheb's name only for political gains. No present-day politician can ever come close to following what the great Dalit leader preached. They don't even know about his teachings and principles. No Dalit leader can ever acquire a pan-Indian identity like Ambedkar. And that's why Dalits continue to wallow in poverty and illiteracy. 
  • Do you think that proliferation of Dalit parties and leaders has changed the course of Indian politics? 
  • It has certainly, but only for the worse. Instead of abolishing discrimination, Dalit parties have worked to strengthen the caste system, by further driving a wedge between scheduled castes and other groups. Their method of assertion is wrong. Only a few people in the corridors of power have benefited from the ascendancy of some Dalit leaders. For example, a chamar leader will only work for his community since Dalits as a whole are not united.
  • Has reservation in jobs, education and legislature helped to improve the lot of Dalits? 
  • Quota has helped but it has not been implemented properly. Prejudice against us is very strong and officers from our community are still humiliated at the workplace”.

Economics vs Physics

Economics and its history have been a limelight of economists and historians. Few economists made attempt to discover something which can be a constant action in everywhere irrespective of location but at the end nobody did to happen yet because unlike physics we are in social science. But is that the economists wanted to see economics as science like physics? Or something else they were trying to look at and say.   

There is an interesting article by T. C. A. Srinivasa-Raghavan on economics as he has been trying to understand where the subject stands and how it looks now. 

And he quotes economist Mr Solow which is more interesting than his narrative. 

The following is excerpts from a article published by Robert M. Solow in The American Economic Review, Vol. 75, No. 2, (May, 1985), pp. 328-331. 

  • “For better or worse, however, economics has gone down a different path, not the one I have in mind. One consequence, not the most important one, but the one that matters for this discussion, is that economic theory learns nothing from economic history, and economic history is as much corrupted as enriched by economic theory. I will come to that, too, later on. 
  • To get right down to it, I suspect that the attempt to construct economics as an axiomatically based hard science is doomed to fail. There are many partially overlapping reasons for believing this; 
  • Unfortunately, however, economics is a social science. It is subject to Damon Runyon’s Law that nothing between human beings is more than three to one. To express the point more formally, much of what we observe cannot be treated as the realization of a stationary stochastic process without straining credulity. Moreover, all narrowly economic activity is embedded in a web of social institutions, customs, beliefs, and attitudes. Concrete outcomes are indubitably affected by these background factors, some of which change slowly and gradually, others erratically. As soon as time-series get long enough to offer hope of discriminating among complex hypotheses, the likelihood that they remain stationary dwindles away, and the noise level gets correspondingly high. Under these circumstances, a little cleverness and persistence can get you almost any result you want. I think that is why so few econometricians have ever been forced by the facts to abandon a firmly held belief. Indeed, some of Fortune’s favourites have been known to write scores of empirical articles without once feeling obliged to report a result that contradicts their prior prejudices. 
  • If we are honest with ourselves and others. It would be a useful principle that economists should actually believe the empirical assertions they make. That would require more discipline than most of us now exhibit, when many empirical papers seem more like virtuoso finger exercises than anything else. The case I am trying to make concerns the scope and ambitions of economic model building, not the intellectual and technical standards of model building. 
  • In his own methodological writing, Court made the point explicitly that men "living as they do in different societies. ..make their decisions according to different schemes of values and according to the habits and structures of the society they find themselves living in." Therefore an economic historian should be an "observer and re-creator of the codes, loyalties and organizations which men create and which are just as real to them as physical conditions."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It is due.................


The Great Indian Socialist Darkness-1

The following are excerpts from a great Indian economic thought book! The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga.

“The inspector made me write my name on the blackboard; then he showed me his wristwatch and asked me to read the time. He took out his wallet, removed a small photo, and asked me, "Who is this man, who is the most important man in all our lives?" 

The photo was of a plump man with spiky white hair and chubby cheeks, wearing thick earrings of gold; the face glowed with intelligence and kindness. 

"He's the Great Socialist." "Good. 

And what is the Great Socialist's message for little children?" I had seen the answer on the wall outside the temple: a policeman had written it one day in red paint. "Any boy in any village can grow up to become the prime minister of India. That is his message to little children all over this land." The inspector pointed his cane straight at me. 

"You, young man, are an intelligent, honest, vivacious fellow in this crowd of thugs and idiots. In any jungle, what is the rarest of animals—the creature that comes along only once in a generation?" 

I thought about it and said: "The white tiger." 

I came to Dhanbad after my father's death. He had been ill for some time, but there is no hospital in Laxmangarh, although there are three different foundation stones for a hospital, laid by three different politicians before three different elections. When he began spitting blood that morning, Kishan and I took him by boat across the river. We kept washing his mouth with water from the river, but the water was so polluted that it made him spit more blood. There was a rickshaw-puller on the other side of the river who recognized my father; he took the three of us for free to the government hospital. There were three black goats sitting on the steps to the large, faded white building; the stench of goat feces wafted out from the open door. The glass in most of the windows was broken; a cat was staring out at us from one cracked window. 

A sign on the gate said: 


Kishan and I carried our father in, stamping on the goat turds which had spread like a constellation of black stars on the ground. 

There was no doctor in the hospital. The ward boy, after we bribed him ten rupees, said that a doctor might come in the evening. The doors to the hospital's rooms were wide open; the beds had metal springs sticking out of them, and the cat began snarling at us the moment we stepped into the room.

"It's not safe in the rooms—that cat has tasted blood." 

A couple of Muslim men had spread a newspaper on the ground and were sitting on it. One of them had an open wound on his leg. He invited us to sit with him and his friend. 

Kishan and I lowered Father onto the newspaper sheets. 

We waited there. Two little girls came and sat down behind us; both of them had yellow eyes. 

"Jaundice. She gave it to me." "I did not. You gave it to me. And now we'll both die!" 

An old man with a cotton patch on one eye came and sat down behind the girls. 

The Muslim men kept adding newspapers to the ground, and the line of diseased eyes, raw wounds, and delirious mouths kept growing. 

"Why isn't there a doctor here, uncle?" I asked. "This is the only hospital on either side of the river." 

"See, it's like this," the older Muslim man said. "There's a government medical superintendent who's meant to check that doctors visit village hospitals like this. Now, each time this post falls vacant, the Great Socialist lets all the big doctors know that he's having an open auction for that post. The going rate for this post is about four hundred thousand rupees these days." 

"That much!" I said, my mouth opened wide. 

"Why not? There's good money in public service! Now, imagine that I'm a doctor. I beg and borrow the money and give it to the Great Socialist, while touching his feet. He gives me the job. I take an oath to God and the Constitution of India and then I put my boots up on my desk in the state capital." He raised his feet onto an imaginary table. "Next, I call all the junior government doctors, whom I'm supposed to supervise, into my office. I take out my big government ledger. I shout out, 'Dr. Ram Pandey.'" 

He pointed a finger at me; I assumed my role in the play. 

I saluted him: "Yes, sir!" 

He held out his palm to me. 

"Now, you—Dr. Ram Pandey—will kindly put one-third of your salary in my palm. Good boy. In return, I do this." He made a tick on the imaginary ledger. "You can keep the rest of your government salary and go work in some private hospital for the rest of the week. Forget the village. Because according to this ledger you've been there. You've treated my wounded leg. You've healed that girl's jaundice."

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