Friday, July 31, 2009

Hey let’s have Choices in Currency

This is the age of controlism or monopoly-raj as for as monetary policy is concerns just see is there any one talk about free market’s concepts of ‘choices in currency’ in India forget about the idea to implementation.

Of course, there are few who talks about the reforming of RBI which is stood for saving India in the on going world financial crisis. But the folks failed to realize how they have damaged the freedom of millions of poor in the course of saying RBI saved India, which actually not the true case in India. I mean the financial institutions regulations.

Ajay Shah is one those guys who at least advocate reforming RBI that in “International comparisons show that RBI is one of the least transparent central banks in the world. In the recent decade, most central banks have made progress towards greater transparency, but RBI has not. RBI scores near the bottom in international tables in terms of either the level or the change in transparency. China, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have better scores than RBI on transparency, and have made progress on increasing transparency in the last decade (while RBI has not).”

However, I am 100 percent suspicious of what Ajay says “There is now a consensus in India that every government agency must be subject to stringent transparency and accountability requirements”.

The road to Ludhiana from Kolkata= road to Uttar Pradesh from Tamil Nadu!

It is amazing to see how schools and colleges and universities are not teaching a simple truth, that at least in economics that every resource has an alternative use in some or other way which is the basics of market economy. Time and again our ideas giants have reminded us that the market alone can allocate these scare resources into alternative uses efficiently.

Years after I learned these facts from none other than Sowell’s beautiful book The Basic Economics.

Just see what other giant L. E Read said that the “aim of teaching is to evoke thinkers, not followers. The mark of a teacher’s success is to have his students surpass him”.

By this time you must have reached the conclusion why millions of our younger people become followers rather than thinkers? Even we had thinkers without attending schools.

I never heard any single teacher from Indian education system as of now who stood for the Mr Read's words. Yet, I read somewhere that the IIPM Delhi teaches Dr. Sowells Basic Economics book in their MBA classes!

Rajesh Chakrabarti in an article published in the financial express writes:

  • in economics, the questions never change. So when, back in the 1980s, the Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto subtitled his book The mystery of capital with the query Why capitalism triumphs in the west and fails everywhere else, he was asking a question development economists have wrestled with for decades. The broad answer, institutions, was not new either—indeed Douglas North would soon win a Nobel Prize for having said so. Nevertheless there was something starkly different this time around. De Soto showed— by actually starting a business!—that an entrepreneur in Peru needs 289 days to register a business, and almost seven years to get the permit to build. It’s just plain torture to start and run a formal, law-abiding, tax-paying business in most developing countries. Little wonder the system does not work.

Samuel Paul & Kala Seetharam Sridhar from Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore writes:

  • In a recent study we have completed, we find that India’s southern states have performed distinctly better than their northern counterparts. Taking the example of Tamil Nadu from the south and Uttar Pradesh from the north, we found a marked upward shift in per capita income and reduction in poverty which TN experienced when compared with that of UP since the mid-1980s. This is true even though a comparison on the poverty rate showed that during the 1970s until about 1985, TN was actually about the same as, or perhaps worse than, UP as far as the extent of poverty was concerned! Judged by per capita income, we found TN was always ahead of UP by a modest margin, but TN had moved far ahead of UP by 2005 (50% higher in 1960-61 vs 128% higher in 2005-06).
  • In order to examine the efficiency of resource use, we examined expenditures on sectors (such as roads and primary education) which are inputs, and their outcomes such as the change in road length in TN and UP. Outcomes manifest themselves only with a lag after the initial expenditure/investment has been made. Hence, based on the data available, in the case of roads, we used the 1980-85 period for examining expenditure and with a 5-year lag, used the period 1985-90 for observing the outcome, i.e., road length. We found that TN spent a total of Rs 92,483 during 1980-85 for creating every additional kilometre (km) of road during 1985-90, whereas UP spent 3.5 times more than that of TN, Rs 328,788 over 1980-85 to create an additional km of road during 1985-90.
  • We take another example from the social sector (primary education) to demonstrate the relative efficiency of resource use in the case of the two states. Two surveys done by the Public Report on Basic Education in India (PROBE) team in the Hindi-speaking states (in 1996 and 2006), showed that despite the fact that schooling infrastructure had expanded rapidly, classroom activity levels had not improved during the decade. For instance, there was an impressive increase in the number of primary schools between 1996 and 2006, with one out of every four government schools being set up during this decade. Further, the proportion of schools in UP with at least two pucca rooms went up from 26% in 1996 to 84% in 2006.
  • Next, in 1996, free uniforms and textbooks were provided respectively only in 10% and less than half of schools, which increased to more than half of the schools and nearly 99% of schools in 2006. Let us compare this to outcomes. In rural north India, in 1996, about half of the time, there was no teaching going on in primary schools. However, despite all the increases in resources and inputs during 1996-2006 reported above, a resurvey conducted in 2006 found that nothing had changed with respect to educational outcomes — half of the government schools still had no teaching activity when the investigators arrived.

What kind efficiency is there in our states economy you can find?

PS: I did many review studies on doing business in Indian cities but my feelings are nothing, yet a terrible!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jillmato’s musings!

Is that every poor in India needs to be stimulated by providing direct cash transfer?

Is that every poor in India needs government programmes which are often authored or co-authored by socialist ink and The State?

Is that every poor in India understands, how the governments is financing all these ‘poverty alleviation’ programme ever since this country got independence?

Is that every poor in India understands the idea of individual liberty, will they ever?

Is that every poor in India understands the idea of individual freedom which will enable them to act morally, ethically, naturally?

Is that every poor in India needs dependency of The State in all their day to day business?

Do the poor people in India know The State’s monopoly of PRINTING OF MONEY?

Do every poor in India know that they are living in the independent India?

Do they believe; that they can do most extraordinary things to their life country without the help of The State?

What will be the state of their mind about their child’s future?

Do ‘The State’ protects poor people’s future and their children’s life or it destroys?

Do all these mockery of dirty politics eroding India’s liberalism?

Where are those liberal leader’s disciples in India?

Why are liberals in India fragmented by every meaning of egos, false ideology, understanding The State’s damages, etc?

The above questions are obvious to ask oneself in the modern India especially the era of globalisation. A lay student who came from road less village in southern India was entering a undergraduate degree in Economics asked all these question a decade back to another fellow student who was also enrolling the same degree. The lay student is nonetheless this blogger and the fellow student is my friend who answered all or most of the above questions by searching himself in the world of ideas. One great advantage he always had been is the world of web ever since it emerged.

The title of this post was my pet name given by my fellow friend who came from Sri Lanka to study undergraduate degree in economics in southern India, Chennai.

Mockery reading!

Creating a subaltern stimulus

T C A on our only monopoly giant who issues all kinds of money

But some time I hate (including myself) completely people who talk about free banking, choice of currency, etc. Though, there is real sense in arguing all those things and of course few are there to listen and virtually none are there to question seriously as F A Hayek did. So hope is the weapon to reply on future that something will change.

OK let’s see T C A’s gorilla economics.

  • “One sympathises with the RBI, though. It has to divert attention from the gorilla that walked into its drawing room and is sitting there on the sofa, quietly smoking a cigar. This has made the RBI twitter nervously in dulcet tones about inconsequential things. So the document is full of such civilised chatter.
  • But chatter has never made gorillas go away. The fact therefore remains: the Government intends to borrow a massive Rs 4.5 lakh crore. The RBI says it can manage this gorilla. Perhaps it can. But for the moment, it is in a sweat.
  • This is because it knows, better than anyone else, that the consequence is going to be inflation in consumer prices, even if not in the whole-sale price index, which is like those pacifiers given to babies to fool them. Show me an economic agent who acts on the basis of the WPI and I will show you a fool. The reason why we will have massive food price inflation is simple: the Government wants to borrow and spend a lot of money in the rural sector, where the votes are. But this expenditure will lead to a lot of holes being dug, not an increase in grain output.
  • REGA alone has ensured that those who used to eat one meal now eat one-and-half. That may make moral and political sense but it does not increase grain output. Imagine what will happen when even more money (demand) gets into the system without an increase in supply of grains, and perhaps even a decline because of the bad monsoon.
  • The RBI also thinks that interest rates can be brought down further. But lower rates are not the point in the current context.

Let’s bloom thousand of edification manufacturing in India

Rahul Bajaj on freeing Indian Education system:

  • “I need to free education from the licence-permit raj. Let colleges set their own fees and salaries, curriculum and exams and expansion plans. The current system obstructs the ethical and promotes the unethical through over-regulation. We also need to substantially increase vocational training. Industry has to step forward to create a market for the vocationally trained. However, the government's rigid labour policy is hindering this by discouraging employment-creation in the organised sector.
  • Industry is the primary end-user of products of education. The government should use people from industry to evaluate proposals and institutions. Every NAAC and All India Council for Technical Education committee should have people from industry.
  • As in corporate governance, the key is transparency. If data on cut-offs, percentage of students passing, number of permanent faculty, number of placements, fees etc is easily accessible to students and parents, they can make informed judgements. Education is too important to be held hostage to outmoded thinking. The time has come to reform it, based on a progressive vision, a clear understanding of ground realities and the courage to cut through the nettles it is enveloped in.”

How free markets exchange produces much of what we enjoy about modern life

Tyler Cowen on Creating Your Own Economy, Embracing Your Inner Autistic, and Obama's Reckless Fiscal Policy

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The gentlemen called “The Fiction of Social Justice”

Nonsense From Professor Amartya Sen

I first heard Professor Amartya Sen when I was in school that is too from my Tamil teacher who was applauding that the first Indian won the Nobel Prize in Economics. I could not understand what was (is) his contribution in economics and the relevant to Indian economy at that time. But now, I could understand a how much demage has done to the discipline called economics and millions of poor in India. Though, Professor Sen’s contribution is full of mathematical and hypothetical. Infact, Sauvik Chakraverti has written many good articles critiquing Sen’s works.

Indeed, Sauvik has already commented on Sen’s latest interview in TOI the interview which was based on his latest book titled “The Idea of Justice”.

I am going to take this interview a step ahead. Since Sauvik has already cited Professor F A Hayek work titled on “The Mirage of Social Justice” which was published in the Law, Legislation and Liberty, in Volume 2.

Just before the publication of Law, Legislation and Liberty, especially Volume 2 Professor F A Hayek gave lecture titled of the lecture was “The Fiction of Social Justice” I have a copy with me. It is a part of Readings in Liberalism published by Fredrich Naumann Stiftung.

Let’s take what Prof Sen said in the TOI interview and the excerpts from the book.

The interview:

  • “the idea of justice interests us all.
  • There is a kind of vanity of the self-defined "intellectuals" who bend down to talk to "common people". (It is, by the way, very bad for the intellectual's back to do so much bending down!)
  • Has the concept of justice in this century come only to mean human rights?
  • This is a very interesting question. The idea of human rights is much used in practice, and is very powerfully invoked by activists these days, often with admirable effect.
  • In that quiet confidence there are reasons of hope for the future of justice and democracy in India.
  • Lord Meghnad Desai once said that you "prefer to be subversive in a technical way". Might he have meant that you are not a 'doer' but seek change through technical argument? Do you see yourself as an activist?
  • I see myself as an activist - through writing, speaking and arguing. I've done my share of demonstrations when I was young, when I was a student in Calcutta. Do I believe that causes that activists take up could be helped by reasoning? Yes. But perhaps Meghnad's comment about my being subversive in a technical way relates to the fact that I don't take the view that technical or mathematical arguments are useless and distractive. I still don't know why I was given the Nobel Prize, but whether that was deserved or not, the works of mine they cited were all quite technical - many of them also mathematical.
  • If I could just get you to comment on an unfolding matter here. Would it be just to give Ajmal Kasab the death penalty? We're often criticized for continuing with capital punishment.
  • I'm opposed to the death penalty in general and wouldn't want it given to Ajmal Kasab or anyone else. But this, of course, is not a subject matter of my book - it is not an engineer's handbook. I do discuss the need for prevailing practices, including capital punishment, to be scrutinized by public reasoning, and note the fact that capital punishment is most used in countries with relatively little public discussion, the three biggest users being China, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Next comes the US, and I discuss why I disagree with those judges in the US Supreme Court who think that arguments coming from elsewhere (like Europe) are of no relevance in America.
  • Is justice culturally specific?
  • No, because there is an obligation to engage in argument no matter where it comes from - far or near.

Excerpt from Sen’s book:

  • “Having heard all three and their different lines of reasoning, there is a difficult decision that you have to make. Theorists of different persuasions, such as utilitarians, or economic egalitarians, or no-nonsense libertarians, may each take the view that there is a straightforward just resolution staring at us here, and there is no difficulty in spotting it. But almost certainly they would respectively see totally different resolutions as being obviously right.
  • The general point here is that it is not easy to brush aside as foundationless any of the claims based respectively on the pursuit of human fulfilment, or removal of poverty, or entitlement to enjoy the products of one's own labour. The different resolutions all have serious arguments in support of them, and we may not be able to identify, without some arbitrariness, any of the alternative arguments as being the one that must invariably prevail.”

My comments:

First of all Professor Jagdish N. Bhagwati said the notion of “human right” is nonsense in more than one ways. It was published in the Economic Times I do not have the exact date and other things.

From Professor F A Hayek lecture:

  • “To discover the meaning of what is called ‘social justice’ has been one of my chief preoccupations for more than 10 years. I have failed in this endeadvour- or, rather, have reached the conclusion that, with reference to a society of free men, the phrase has no meaning whatever……But I must at first briefly explain, as I attempt to demonstrate at length in volume 2 of my Law, Legislation and Liberty, about to be published, why I have come to regard ‘social justice’ as nothing more than an empty formula, conventionally used to assert that a particular claim is justified without giving any reason.
  • Indeed that volume, which bears the sub-title The Mirage of Social Justice, is mainly intended to convince intellectuals that the concept of ‘social justice’, which they are so fond of using, is intellectually disreputable……they have been led to the conclusion that all uses of the term justice have no meaningful content.
  • I have therefore been forced to show in the same book that rules of just individual conduct are as indispensable to the preservation of a peaceful society of free men as endeavours to realise ‘social justice’ are incompatible with it. The term ‘social justice’ is today generally used as a synonym of what used to be called ‘distributive justice’.
  • Justice has meaning only as a rule of human conduct, and no conceivable rules for the conduct of individual supplying each other with goods and services in a market economy would produce a distribution which could be meaningfully described as just or unjust. Individual might conduct themselves as justly as possible, but as the results for separate individuals would be neither intended nor foreseeable by others, the resulting state of affairs could neither be called just nor unjust.
  • We must not forget that before the last 10,000 years, during which man has developed agriculture, towns and ultimately the ‘Great Society’, he existed for at least a hundred times as long in small food-sharing hunting bands of 50 or so, with a strict order of dominance within the defended common territory of the band.”

Further reading:

Why Amartya Sen’se of Justice is Pure Nonsense

Review of Amartya Sen's rationality & freedom

Sen and Sensibility - Amartya Sen's Rationality & Freedom Re-Examined

Lose, lose lose, lose, lose ……………..

Nothing more to write on what the political leadership is delivering in India. Let the India and UP will stay in abject poverty for centuries to come, obviously that’s not my wholehearted wish but the Indian politician does assure us this is what they wanted for this young India!

Read what happened in UP recently.

How to lose the high ground By Menaka Guruswamy

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 22, 2009 at 0428 hrs

“The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President, Rita Bahuguna-Joshi, was recently arrested for her comments directed against UP Chief Minister Mayawati. The FIR lodged in Majhola police station indicates that Joshi has been charged under various provisions of criminal law. Yet, while Joshi’s comments are disgusting, they are not criminal. And by making them so, and taking them out of the realm of politics where they should have been dealt with, the legitimacy of the criminal process is undercut.

At a public gathering in Moradabad, Joshi criticised the CM’s payment of Rs 25,000 compensation to Dalit women who had been raped, and that it cost around Rs 5 lakh to deliver the compensation by official helicopter. She added: “I say one should throw this money in Maya’s face and tell her — if you get raped, I’ll give you one crore.” Joshi, who was recently granted interim bail, says she wanted to convey the plight of the Dalit women who were raped, and that she made the remarks so that the state’s woman CM would appreciate her concern.

Her choice of words was misogynistic, disgusting and crude. Further, as a professor of history at Allahabad University, she should have been aware of the historically privileged position she occupies in terms of caste. Finally, this is not the calibre or form of critique that one expects from the leader of a large well-established political party. And for her lack of civility, her lack of propriety, and her lack of judgment, Joshi must pay a political price, and be unequivocally censured by her political leadership. But, did her words qualify as criminal in nature?

Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), one of the charges she faces, criminalises any word or deed that promotes or attempts to promote enmity between different groups on the grounds of caste. This offence is punishable with up to three years imprisonment. The government has to take cognisance of a court to process such an offence; in this case, it seems reasonable to assume that the state government sanctioned such cognisance.

Yet Joshi did not make her offensive statements because of the CM’s caste, so an invocation of this section to target crude speech by a political opponent seems an improper use of the provision. The Supreme Court in 1999 was categorical that the intention to cause disorder or to incite people to violence is the sine qua non of the offence under this provision and that the prosecution has to prove the existence of such mens rea on the part of the accused. Clearly, Rita Bahuguna-Joshi has no such intention: at worst her intention was to score a few political points.

Much more fantastic is the charge under the Victorian-sounding Section 509 IPC which punishes any word that is intended to “insult the modesty of any woman”, with imprisonment which may extend to a year. (Perhaps, the most famous case prosecuted under this section was when K.P.S. Gill slapped a senior officer, Rupan Deol Bajaj, on her posterior at a gathering.) The intention to outrage the woman’s modesty is mandatorily required: so eve-teasing, the making of obscene gestures, the writing of vulgar letters and molestation are some of the actions that invoke this section, usually against a man. The charge requires indecency, or actions that contemplate a sexual relationship of an indecent manner.

Finally, Joshi was also charged under the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The only possibly relevant provision under this statute is an atrocity whereby a person intentionally insults a member of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes “in any place within public view”. The statute demands that the accused intentionally cause insult, locating the offensive words in the context of the person’s caste. Joshi, a political opponent, was crudely critiquing the CM over an arguably controversial policy. She did not, it appears, intend to degrade a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.

The CM could have emerged as a leader from this situation — by condemning the opposition politician’s misogyny. She could have used this situation to highlight what arguably might be a well-intentioned policy that is not meant to cover up a damning problem of violence against women, but only seeks to provide some minimal redress in the form of money. She could have used the situation to highlight the pandemic of violence against women. Instead, by her party members allegedly burning down Joshi’s house, and by her government sanctioning prosecution under severe provisions of criminal law, she lost the moral high ground that she rightly should have enjoyed. By blatantly politicising the application of criminal law, Mayawati has disregarded her years of legal training.

The writer practises law at the Supreme Court of India”

Random ideas

Manish Sabharwal is a giant in emerging skill making subject. He has a piece in the Mint where he says that:

  • “Public policy education has not taken off in India because of the lack of an entry ramp into real policy action; even the small window that got us Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and finance commission chairman Vijay Kelkar is now closed.
  • And any thinking about fixing public policy human capital has to include politicians, because there is some truth in the cynical comment that the only highways to get ahead in Indian politics are either genetic or geriatric. The problem is complex but, as Lant Pritchett at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government says, the Indian state’s inability to deliver outcomes ranks as one of the world’s top 10 biggest problems— right up there with AIDS and climate change.

Thomas Sowell on disaster government groupies:

  • “Nothing has torn more countries apart from inside like racial and ethnic polarization. Just this year, a decades-long civil war, filled with unspeakable atrocities, has finally ended in Sri Lanka. The painful irony is that, when the British colony of Ceylon became the independent nation of Sri Lanka in 1948, its people were considered to be a shining example for the world of good relations between a majority (the Sinhalese) and a minority (the Tamils). That all changed when politicians decided to "solve" the "problem" that the Tamil minority was much more economically successful than the Sinhalese majority. Group identity politics led to group preferences and quotas that escalated into polarization, mob violence and ultimately civil war.
  • Group identity politics has poisoned many other countries, including at various times Kenya, Czechoslovakia, Fiji, Guyana, Canada, Nigeria, India, and Rwanda. In some countries the polarization has gone as far as mass expulsions or civil war.”

David Brooks on “The Power of Posterity”

Parth J Shah on education bill:

  • “While evaluating the Education Bill, ask yourself this question: What has changed since the Bill got introduced? The answer is: Nothing. The same bureaucracy is in charge today, there is nothing on governance standards or on the use of independent assessments of learning outcomes. So, it is difficult to see just what the new bill hopes to achieve and how it plans to improve education outcomes in the country.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No need for herd-mentality

Chetan Bhagat has story on India’s higher education, in this story he writes a mini letter to HRD minister, of course it is fiction one but there is no much difference in reality, either.

Dear Education Minister,

I hope you are doing fine and the large staff of your massive bungalow is treating you well. I won’t take much of your time.

I’ve passed out of class XII and I’ve decided to end my life. I scored ninety-two per cent in my boards, and I have a one foot high trophy from my school for scoring the highest. However, there are so many trophy holding students in this country and so few college seats, that I didn’t get into a college that will train me to the next level or open up good opportunities.

I know I have screwed up. I should have worked harder to get another three per cent. However, I do want to point out a few things to you. When my parents were young, certain colleges were considered prestigious. Now, forty years later, the same colleges are considered prestigious. What’s interesting is that no new colleges have come up with the same brand or reputation level. Neither have the seats expanded in existing colleges fast enough to accommodate the rising number of students.

I’ll give you an example. Just doing some meaningless surfing, I saw that 3.8 lakh candidates took the CBSE class XII exam in 1999, a number that has grown to 8.9 lakh in 2009. This is just one board, and if you take ICSE and all other state boards, the all India total number is over ten times that of CBSE. We probably had one crore students taking the class XII exam this year.

While not everyone can get a good college seat, I just want to talk about the so-called good students. The top 10 per cent alone of these one crore students is ten lakh children. Yes, these ten lakh students are their class toppers. In a class of fifty, they will have the top-5 ranks.

One could argue that these bright kids deserve a good college to realise their full potential. Come to think of it, it would be good for our country too if we train our bright children well to be part of the new, shining, gleaming, glistening or whatever you like to call the globalised India.

But then, it looks like you have stopped making universities. Are there ten lakh top college seats in the country? Are there even one lakh? Ever wondered what happens to the rest of us, year after year? Do we join a second rung college? A deemed university? A distance learning programme? A degree in an expensive, racist country?

Your government runs a lot of things. You run an airline that never makes money. You run hotels. You want to be involved in making basic stuff like steel and aluminum, which can easily be made by more efficient players. However, in something as important as
shaping the young generation, you have stepped back. You have stopped making new universities. Why?

You have all the land you want, teachers love to get a government job, education funds are never questioned. Still, why? Why don’t we have new, A-grade universities in every state capital for instance?
Oh well, sorry. I am over reacting. If only I had not done that calculation error in my math paper, I’d be fine. In fact, I am one of the lucky ones. In four years, the number of candidates will double. So then we will have a college that only has 99 per cent scorers.

My parents were a bit deluded about my abilities, and I do feel bad for them. I didn’t have a girlfriend or too many friends, as people who want to get into a good college are not supposed to have a life. If only I knew that slogging for twelve years would not amount to much, I’d have had more fun.
Apart from that, do well, and say hello to the PM, who as I understand, used to teach in college.
Yours truly,
(Poor student)”

Living out of ideas rather than being a bureaucrat is so wonderful

Meghnad Desai gave an interview in 2008 to the Indian Express where he talks about his professional life in economics:

  • “Caste and superstition have been strengthened and politicized and the rest of the world admires India precisely for the things that keep it backwards. Spirituality is a weapon for the exploitation of dalits, women and so on. There is no such thing as secularism anymore. Even the communist party is totally mired into religion, lost in a mish-mash of petty nationalism claiming to be anti-American, while believing it can peddle into some secular Hinduism, which is total nonsense. There is a tolerance of religions which can be so damaging, such as people dogmatically saying "let us be nice to Muslims": in doing so, a lot has been conceded to Muslim religious prejudices and no attempt has been made to modernize Muslim society, in particular for Muslim women who suffer from religious superstition and backwardness.
  • When you live in the West and work in academic circles, by and large, you meet very decent people. Had I been here, I would surely have had to compromise myself with some politician or professor. It is a rare academic in India who can claim not to have been corrupted by the system. Also, I was lucky not to have an unequal professor-student relationship such as the guru-shisha relationship can be, and which I abhor. On the overall, living there means being in a system with no status inequality. The British society is hierarchical but there is social equality. The fact that I am a Lord means nothing, no one treats me differently. The feudal habits that still prevail in India, the way people behave towards their servants, people constantly being humiliated because they are so called inferior and so on --- all those things are not there and I am so grateful for that.
  • Some friends of mine are still waiting for the great thing to happen, for instance at least a dozen are worried about not having yet received the Nobel Prize. I do not reason that way. I look back at what my ambitions when I was 18 --- to read and write --- and I am so much past that. I never thought I would be a professional economist, teaching in one of the best places in the world, having fantastic colleagues, having this adventure of ideas. The fact that I could make a living out of ideas rather than being a bureaucrat is so wonderful. Being an academic in the Western context is the freest you can be, because you have a salary and no boss, and you can do whatever you want. So I have had a fantastic life and I am going to go on having a fantastic life, because as long as the mind keeps functioning, ideas will come and I will develop ideas.

Ed Phelps on Hayek

In 2008, Hayek Institute, Vienna organized a lecture on Professor F A Hayek (“Hayek and the Economics of Capitalism“ The Road back from Welfare State to Liberty and Economic Growth). The lecture was delivered by Edmund Phelps winner of 2006 Nobel Memorial Price for Economics.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The name is awkward

Amity Shlaes on PC:

“Who is the public and what is the choice? The theory originated with Nobel Prize-winning economist James M. Buchanan and is actually quite simple. It says that the laws of economics aren't suspended at the door to City Hall. Government reformers view themselves as morally superior, but that is an illusion. They are just like private-sector operators, who do things that are in their own interest, not society's, first. Those things include taking advantage of an economic crisis to aggregate power for themselves and their offices.

Forget Keynes vs efficient market hypothesis- Remember F A Hayek

Writes economist Meghnad Desai the article is thundering like a true liberal, wait, this gun shoot is too on T. C. A who has written a few pieces in the Business Line on economics subjects saying in the last 25-30 years nothing has advanced in the subject of economics. But Mr Desai argues “Markets in this way of thinking are not allocation systems, but signalling mechanisms where profit opportunities are and where accumulation would be fruitful. Marx, Wicksell, Schumpeter and Hayek all theorised capitalism as a system in which cycles are endemic . For Marx a crisis is not a disease, but the way capitalism cures its own problems. Wicksell also theorised about cumulative dynamics of booms and slumps. Schumpeter is of course famous for his idea of creative destruction and Hayek was at the forefront of analysis of capitalism in the years before Keynes wrote his General Theory.

And more convincingly, perhaps in my view he says that “Capitalism mind you, not some bloodless notion of markets. It is the dynamics of profit-seeking innovators and entrepreneurs who scour the world for new niches and gaps in the demand structure and supply opportunities. This is how globalisation has transformed the world in the last 25 years.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let’s not surrender to The State

After taking over as a “Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of IndiaNandan M. Nilekani said in his blog post that “I can no longer comment on government policy.” This is a bad intension in many ways than one good intention.

True liberals can not do this or should not do this at any cost. Although he has a lot of good intentions but the present one is terrible bad intention.

I read his book in last November quite revealing one. Reading a book will not take more time than writing a good review. I am still writings the review.

After all I am not depressed but disappointed when he posted this post.

Knowledge problem or dismal science- while claiming wait and look back for a moment

Mind you, a movement may last for years!

In the latest issue of Economist there is an article on ‘What went wrong with economics'.

What we need to note is here at least to my mind:

  • “Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics in 2008, argued that much of the past 30 years of macroeconomics was “spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst.” Barry Eichengreen, a prominent American economic historian, says the crisis has “cast into doubt much of what we thought we knew about economics.”
  • The charge that most economists failed to see the crisis coming also has merit. To be sure, some warned of trouble. The likes of Robert Shiller of Yale, Nouriel Roubini of New York University and the team at the Bank for International Settlements are now famous for their prescience. But most were blindsided. And even worrywarts who felt something was amiss had no idea of how bad the consequences would be.
  • Macroeconomists also had a blindspot: their standard models assumed that capital markets work perfectly. Their framework reflected an uneasy truce between the intellectual heirs of Keynes, who accept that economies can fall short of their potential, and purists who hold that supply must always equal demand. The models that epitomise this synthesis—the sort used in many central banks—incorporate imperfections in labour markets (“sticky” wages, for instance, which allow unemployment to rise), but make no room for such blemishes in finance. By assuming that capital markets worked perfectly, macroeconomists were largely able to ignore the economy’s financial plumbing. But models that ignored finance had little chance of spotting a calamity that stemmed from it.
  • And if economics as a broad discipline deserves a robust defence, so does the free-market paradigm. Too many people, especially in Europe, equate mistakes made by economists with a failure of economic liberalism. Their logic seems to be that if economists got things wrong, then politicians will do better. That is a false—and dangerous—conclusion.

The morality of free markets

Sauvik has a great article titled “The morality of free markets

After all what an economist is expected to say about the Hindu rate of growth in a paragraph.

Here is sauvik’s take on this:

“The greatest failure of socialism in India lies in the moral sphere, confusing ideas of good and evil. Let us now look back at 60 years of Nehruvian socialism. To Jawaharlal Nehru, profit was a “dirty word”. He strangulated all enterprise. He called upon the best and the brightest to join the State—and in many more ways, he unleashed upon our society a dominant mode of survival using “political means”. His daughter took this evil idea further by nationalizing vast swathes of the economy. In her time, almost all Delhi University graduates ended up in government jobs. None was encouraged to be entrepreneurial. The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, trained managers for public sector units (PSUs) then. The whole of society was politicized. The markets were barren. The shop shelves were bare.

Yet, has much changed? If we look at Manmohan Singh’s “flagship” National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in the light of the above discussion, we must conclude that he is encouraging millions of poor people to seek the political means of survival. Meanwhile, our markets are still strangulated by predatory bureaucrats. Many trades are suffering. There is protectionism enforced by the customs bureaucracy. There is the excise department that strangulates the hospitality trade. And it is indeed strange that Singh should create menial jobs in villages with our money while the high-paying jobs of 70,000 dancing girls in Mumbai were destroyed by ex post facto legislative diktat. This is economic repression. Tyranny!”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sea-frog and dog bite polity

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha quotes:

“Individuals choose, and as they do so, identifiable economic interest is one of the ‘goods’ that they value positively, whether behaviour takes place in markets or in politics. But markets are institutions of exchange; persons enter markets to exchange one thing for another,” said James M. Buchanan in a speech entitled The Constitution of Economic Policy that he gave on winning the Nobel Prize in economics in 1986.

“… The extension of this exchange conceptualization to politics counters the classical prejudice that persons participate in politics through some common search for the good, the true, and the beautiful, with these ideals being defined independently of the values of the participants as these might or might not be expressed by behaviour. Politics, in this vision of political philosophy, is instrumental to the furtherance of these larger goals,” Buchanan said.

“Patronised, condescended to and often robbed by a state whose minions at the interface of poverty are brutally predatory and criminal”-Mantra over 1,

Percy S Mistry had two insightful articles in the Financial Express yesterday and day before yesterday. Its interesting bites but nothing new for liberals who have been arguing all these things ever since independence but at the same time it is worth to reminding people, but you know that become a norm now when the Indian society accept an idea it will be delayed or denied for long let’s face it.

From first article titled “How to change the country in 1700 days-I”

  • America, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Korea and China have clocks and watches. But India just has time—all the time in the world!
  • It is taken for granted in UPA-2 officialdom that the Indian boat cannot be rocked or be allowed to sail at more than 2-3 knots. It might capsize. This is conveniently perceived fragility. India is a robust, resilient and adaptable country. It is not shaken or destabilised easily. It hungers for more rapid change. The alleged fragility that is a perennial excuse for going slow on reforms is unacceptable to India’s impatient young globalised population. The real reasons for slowing reform down are different.
  • In this day and age it is impossible to assert rationally that the Indian state has to own Air India, BSNL, MTNL, Coal India, GAIL, SAIL, banks, insurance companies and a plethora of other PSUs to serve the public interest. These could all be run better by private domestic and foreign shareholders and managers (not just the politically connected). Then they would make fewer demands on the exchequer. More likely they would contribute far more to it by way of taxes on profits. Their privatisation would result in massively increased inward foreign investment. They would become far more efficient. Some would be made extinct. But in total such reforms would, for example, accelerate broadband and financial services penetration and provide far better services to the public and especially to the poor. Moreover, their sale would enable the Indian state to reduce its burgeoning public debt that is becoming perilous. Contrary to UPA leadership opinion, the crisis of 2008 does not prove otherwise. We lost a decade learning the wrong lessons after the Asian crisis of 1997-2000 and pulled our horns in at the wrong time. We may repeat that colossal mistake yet again.
  • Some PSU outfits like Air India are buckets with no bottom into which money must keep being poured. The airline flies more for the convenience of its ministry, staff, and political owners than for the travelling public. It is overstaffed and uncompetitive. It is no longer needed. It would be better off being run by Tata, Mallya, Goyal or Branson. Must the state keep pouring money into it ostensibly to protect the interests of the public and the poor? The contention is laughable. Those are the two interests most compromised by state ownership, management and control. In India it is a mistake to equate public ownership with public interest. What history has shown with remarkable clarity is that public ownership in India means taking care of the private interests of those elected as well as those hired professionally to govern or to run and work in PSUs. It does not benefit the governed. The public does not even figure in their thoughts except as a nuisance.

From the second article titled “How to change the country in 1700 days-II”

Equally interesting and worth to read with understandings some bites here:

  • The history of post-independence India makes it clear that the state’s involvement in PSUs—through the misguided Nehruvian policy of capturing the ‘commanding heights’ followed by the even more misguided policy of entrenching a state-dominated financial system—has led to an egregious waste of resources. It resulted in the proverbial Indian socialist rate of growth of 0% per capita before reforms began in earnest. Sadly it has also contributed to the progressive erosion of the Indian state’s capacity to govern properly. A secondary function of government, legitimised by questionable Fabian economics of the mid-20th century, which most of our present generation of leaders were weaned on, has corrupted and vitiated the primary one.
  • To his credit, Rajiv Gandhi saw that the choices made by his ancestors had led India to a dead end. In India, of course, it is never acknowledged that anyone in power could possibly make the wrong decision or choice. The textbooks always attempt to rationalise such choices as the best ones in their circumstances and time. We need to break that absurd habit. Rajiv began changing that state of affairs in 1985. That was when he beguiled some of India’s best and brightest to re-migrate from Washington, DC to New Delhi. Surely it is in the interests of those who want to protect any Nehru-Gandhi legacy to continue on the path Rajiv paved to reform, rather than glorify the unjustifiable by lauding his forbears’ woeful lack of economic wisdom.
  • f India were Singapore such arguments might not hold. One would be hard pressed to argue that Singapore Airlines or DBS should be privatised. They are run better than most of their private counterparts worldwide. But like it or not Singapore is a corporate state. That small island country is run as if it aspires to be the most efficient transnational conglomerate on earth. Standards of governance in Singapore are on a different planet. The likelihood of India emulating those standards in conscionable future, given the nature of its politics and the proclivities of its bureaucracy, is remote. So ideology is not the issue. Pragmatism is. India needs to deploy its resources as efficiently as possible. Right now it is not doing so. And to progress and grow at 9-10% it must.
  • The public and the poor will benefit more by the extended activities of a private sector encouraged to profit from the bottom of CK Prahalad’s pyramid; far more than being patronised, condescended to and often robbed by a state whose minions at the interface of poverty are brutally predatory and criminal.
  • The Indian state has had 63 years to deal decisively with poverty. The garibi hatao slogan was in vogue in the 1970s. So was The Emergency. Yet what the state has actually done is aggravate, exacerbate and perpetuate poverty. It has certainly not alleviated it. Far too many politicians responsible for running the state in India have engorged and enriched themselves at the expense of the poor. Almost everyone in Indian politics has assets grossly disproportionate to known and declared sources of income despite laws to the contrary. In many instances their submissions to the Election Commission on their net worth are pure fiction posing as unbelievable fact. The exceptions could be counted on one’s fingers and toes. Their championing state intervention in the name of the poor is rank hypocrisy to ensure that their own private coffers never stop overflowing. For that reason if no other the legitimacy of state ownership of anything other than good governance needs to be looked at askance by all Indians.
  • Inevitably, the type of reforms that India needs will transform the role of the state from its current default setting of ‘command-and-control’ over every aspect of Indian life. Such reforms must transform and cure the multiple personality disorder that the psyche of the confused and overstretched Indian state so obviously suffers from.
  • It is not that the state and its apparatus are inherently malign or incompetent. Often, it is to the contrary. Some of the most capable people on earth are in the IAS. Many (but not all) managers of PSUs and PSU banks could hold their own in managing any equivalent enterprise anywhere. But those are exceptions drowned in an ocean of mediocrity enforced by public rules on recruitment and quotas. Unfortunately the system for which they work converts their inputs into some rather ridiculous outcomes.”

Why? Who are we? How do we fit into this cosmic process? I don’t know --- explain!

Amit Mitra said:

It was a centre for inquiry. It was a very stern one though, and the Principal was known for caning as much as for his staunch anti-Communism. When he learnt I was reading Marx, I was put under coventry, meaning I could not talk to any one, for a total of eight months. As a reward for my stubbornness and capacity to stand up to him, he made me principal monitor! And over time I became a committed non Marxist. This was mostly due to my uncle’s influence. He belonged to the Democratic Socialists, typically the most anti-Communists in India, because they read Marx and deferred with him. He introduced me to Arthur Koestler’s “God that Failed” and I began to think. He would constantly feed me with books as a counterforce to a regimented undemocratic society.

Karan Thapar said in a interview to the Indian Express:

Charley gave me all the confidence because he saw some spark in me which he was prepared to risk and nurture. I did not get everything right, but he covered up, supported me and helped me. Though many people viewed him as arrogant, extremely opinionated, with aristocratic airs, I saw him as someone tremendously inspirational. And I told myself that if I ever am a boss with younger people working with me, I should do the same three things: spot talent, nurture it, and have the courage to stand by that person when he or she is making mistakes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chak de, check dam India

"Research shows that rural roads are the most important investment for agriculture."

Zero multiplied by zero is zero-Why economics do exits?

T.C.A. Srinivasa-Raghavan is one economics journalist who constantly engaged to find out where the discipline of economics moves and in which direction.

He has article today which says some of interesting narrative on economics vs other subjects.

I am posting full article here:

Caste, cost and cause by T.C.A. Srinivasa-Raghavan

"People marry within their castes because it is not costly to do so, say four US-based economists.

The latest issue of The Economist shows that it has finally woken up to what I (and many others) have been pointing out for some years — that there is something seriously and fundamentally wrong with economics. But the writer of the article thinks that economics can be redeemed.

My own view, to which others will doubtless come around in the fullness of time, is the opposite, namely, that it is beyond redemption. I believe that both theoretical and empirical economics have shot their bolt.

They no longer have anything useful to do or tell us. As dead-ends go, the one economics has reached is hard to beat.

Theoretical economics had reached this point sometime in the 1970s and empiricism was a reaction to it.

But now empiricism has also become mindless and utterly pointless. Zero multiplied by zero is zero.

If we can learn anything from the fate of other disciplines that were once fashionable, the reaction to this will not be redemption. It will be a rejection of economics as a serious discipline.

The best measure is to use student enrolments as a proxy. The declining enrolments show what happened to political science in the 1960s, psychology (not to be confused with clinical psychiatry) in the 1970s and to sociology in the 1980s.

Economics escaped because, being a relatively new discipline, it was still possible for it to re-invent itself.

That room has now been exhausted. From here on, there is only one way left — down. This will be reflected in due course in the salaries of economists. I am willing to open a book on this.

Caste and marriage

Just look at what economists are doing these days. Two “highly respected” economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, along with two others, Maitreesh Ghatak and Jeanne Lafortune, have written a paper called “Marry for What: Caste and Mate Selection in Modern India” (NBER Working Paper No. 14958). They say they got hold of a unique data set about people who placed matrimonial advertisements in one major newspaper in India.

Unique? I wonder if this is the same set of ads that the late Dr K. N. Raj used to collect, albeit as an amusing diversion. If it isn’t, well, some research assistants must have managed to earn some money.

Anyway, this paper, say the authors “studies the role played by caste, education and other social and economic attributes in arranged marriages among middle-class Indians…
We estimate the preferences for caste, education, beauty, and other attributes. We then compute a set of stable matches, which we compare to the actual matches that we observe in the data. We find the stable matches to be quite similar to the actual matches, suggesting a relatively frictionless marriage market.”

Key finding

All this is fine. But now comes what the authors call their “key” finding. This is that “there is a very strong preference for within-caste marriage.” Then, seemingly aware that this is a banality, they add a bit of ‘economics’ to it.

“However, because both sides of the market share this preference and because the groups are fairly homogeneous in terms of the distribution of other attributes, in equilibrium, the cost of wanting to marry within-caste is low. This allows caste to remain a persistent feature of the Indian marriage market.”

As ignorant rubbish goes, this is hard to beat. Caste preferences are not about cost. They are about notions of purity. But how can you expect economists to pay attention to sociology?

But read the gibberish to see the direction in which economics is headed. “Our results indicate that while caste is highly valued in terms of preferences, it does not require a very high price in equilibrium. This is consistent with assuming that preferences are relatively horizontal and that the populations are close to being balanced.”

So, inferences-wise, where do we go from here? The authors come up with three conclusions. First that economic growth will not undermine caste. So, whoever said that it would? Second, caste-based marriages will not impede economic growth. Whoever said they would?

Last, they say: “If caste becomes less important, inequality might increase along other dimensions as we will see more assortative matching.

Given that the matching is already close to being assortative this is probably not an important concern.” Well, thank god. The authors also found that about 30 per cent marry outside their castes even though they gain very little from doing so.

“So why do they do it?” ask the authors. One reason is some of this 30 per cent don’t really care. But “a substantial fraction of the marriages that are not within caste are love marriages.”

And the main takeaway after all that? “An institution that economic forces are not able to destroy may be endangered by love.” As my grandmother would have said. “Aiyyo, Rama!”

Who’s afraid of homosexuality?

Who’s afraid of homosexuality? By RAM JETHMALANI

  • The legal philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham produced The Theory of Legislation in the first half of the 19th century. It propounded the great principle of utility, a veritable working manual for lawmakers all over the world: “The PUBLIC GOOD ought to be the object of the Legislator, GENERAL UTILITY ought to be the foundation of his reasonings. To know the true good of the community is what constitutes the science of legislation; the art consists in finding the means to realize that good”.
  • The lesson was simple yet profound. He propounded that nature has placed man under the realm of pleasure and pain. To these man owes his ideas, judgments and determination of his life. Evil is pain or the cause of pain. Good is pleasure or productive of pleasure. Criminal law prescribes a series of punishments for different acts and omissions. Every punishment produces pain at least to him on whom it is inflicted. Punishment, therefore, is an evil. Its only justification is that it prevents a greater evil or produces in some other or others or the general public much more pleasure. From these two principles he had no difficulty in formulating the principles on which a rational penal code should be constructed.
  • The Delhi high court recently produced a memorable judgment declaring Section 377 of the Indian penal code constitutionally invalid. Lord Macaulay and his fellow commissioners who framed that code had presumably not taken Bentham’s teachings seriously, at least when they introduced their notion of Victorian morality into this section.
  • Voluntarily having intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal is declared a serious crime for which the punishment may well extend to 10 years and fine or both. As judicially interpreted and noticed by the Delhi high court, sexual activities hit are the following:
  • 1. Intercourse by a man with a woman other than vaginal; such as involving the anus, mouth or any other orifice in the human body;
  • 2. Intercourse with any male involving the anus or any other orifice;
  • 3. Act commonly known as practice of bestiality.
  • Section 377 by its marginal note classifies all three as ‘unnatural offences. Macaulay did not know that the fish, iguana lizards, roosters, dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, lions and many other species mount others of the same sex. Homosexual behaviour is so rampant in non-human species that it is difficult to justify the epithet unnatural for this behaviour.
  • Neither Bentham nor any other rational person would see in these actions any element of producing the evil of pain. Of course my assumption is that intercourse is by free consent and does not involve minors who are incapable of consenting to remain untouched by the section.
  • The Delhi high court judgment is full of learning and references to literature on psychiatry, genetics, religion and judgments delivered in other jurisdictions, particularly the US and Canada. It refers to the report of the British Wolfenden Committee and the Sexual Offences Act, 1967, by which English law de-criminalised homosexuality. It fortifies its conclusions by the 172nd report of the Law Commission which also took the same view: ‘Section 377 in its present form has to go’.
  • The Delhi high court judgment is substantially based upon the citizen’s right to privacy and a life of dignity. The court correctly concluded that these rights can only be subordinated to some overriding public interest. Counsel for the Union of India could not point out any and the court rightly rejected his feeble argument that the law in some remote way promotes public health. The submission was in the teeth of the view of the American Psychiatric Association presented to the United States Supreme Court in 2002 in the case of Lawrence v. Texas :
  • “According to current scientific and professional understanding, however, the core feelings and attractions that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence. Moreover, these patterns of sexual attraction generally arise without any prior sexual experience.
  • Thus, homosexuality is not a disease or mental illness that needs to be, or can be, ‘cured’ or ‘altered’, it is just another expression of human sexuality”.
  • Now the view for which the additional solicitor general canvassed was the view of the home ministry with which the health ministry did not agree. To the best of my knowledge it has never happened that two government departments made conflicting and irreconcilable submissions in a public hearing before a high court. I hope that the government puts its house in order before the Supreme Court.
  • What further surprises me, is that the most effective 8th respondent, namely the National Aid Control Organisation (NACO) did not use Bentham’s powerful argument which any court should normally consider almost conclusive.
  • The Delhi Judgment does not recommend homosexuality or even approve of it. But it is obnoxious arrogance to claim that my conduct is natural while others violate nature. The constitution of India does not tolerate such tyranny.
  • No legislator or ruler can tell those who obey his laws “I am one of the elect, and God takes care to enlighten the elect as to what is good and what is evil. He reveals himself to me and speaks by my mouth. All you who are in doubt, come and receive the Oracle of God;” thus wrote Bentham.
  • A short reference to the history of homosexuality is called for. During the Greco Roman period, there is ample evidence to show that homosexual behavior between men as well as between women was common — and within clear conventional limits — approved. Judeo-Christian literature, however, reflects a general aversion to homosexual behaviour which was seen as an emblem of decadent paganism — godless, debauched, and heretical. For both Jews and early Christians, the Old Testament story of the destruction of Sodom became the foundation text of homophobia, even though neither Jews nor early Christians, including Christ himself, unanimously interpreted it as a text condemning homosexual behavior.
  • During the next thousand years between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance, the Roman Catholic Church condemned any nonprocreative act between persons of either sex. Pope Gregory IX called sodomites ‘abominable persons — despised by the world and dreaded by the council of heaven’. In the late 13th century the first case of a homosexual being burnt at the stake came to be staged. Protestantism was equally rigorous in its condemnation.
  • In the 19th century, homophobia turned into hysteria. Lord Macaulay imported it into India. Homophobia is thus a western product which was unknown to sexually free India. The Delhi high court can take credit through its judgment that India is going back to its enlightened roots. Oscar Wilde and his lover Alfred Douglas had already shocked Victorian England, initiating the end of homophobia.
  • Our earth is a crowded planet and can not sustain more humans. Semitic religions condemn pederasty because it does not add to the population. Malthusian wisdom, which I endorse fully, is a credit item in the balance sheet of homosexuality.

The writer is a senior lawyer and former Union law minister

Monday, July 20, 2009

Polity vs E-mics

“I had to realize that in India it is not “about economics, stupid!” but it’s “about politics, stupid!”

Hillary ben: Amey Global Che

Yoginder K. Alagh on:

  • “Then the adivasi girls will largely be in school and having got across the cantankerous phase we would have learnt how good lectures can be given in India and good Phds produced by universities which had made global grades but fell down after everybody who has never produced a Phd reformed the system. Then we will really get going and the G8 will be also-rans. At present you are seeing only a trailer.
  • We will really respond when somebody tells us that nuclear weaponisation is a disaster. We will send h(er)im a free copy of My Experiments With Truth and Nehru Chacha and Rajiv Bhaiyya's speeches and say we thought of all this before but we will make you do it and then will do it together. People like me would have finally succeeded in convincing others that they shouldn't be luddites because technology is the flip side of removing poverty and social progress and nuclear power would be a reality. We will make the one of a kind fast breeder reactor and go the thorium route because that is the only sure guarantee that our educated adivasi girl and the young ones we train will get the energy we need. It's tough but he said if the truth is on your side then your tormentors will have to go even if they wrongly believe that the sun never sets on them.

Here is full article

Economists have no clothes

Was the new paper by James Buchanan who won Nobel Prize in Economics science in 1986 "for his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making" otherwise called The Theory of Public Choice.

  • “Economists have been parading around, really very naked, walking around in space” ” Buchanan said. “It’s time to recognize that.” With the establishment of macroeconomics as a field of study, economists have developed models and algorithms that make people think the numbers can be manipulated, he said.

If anyone wanted to read all about Prof Buchanan should read this fantastic brief. For long I was confused about the notion of policy advice to The State or government. Prof Buchanan says:

  • “First, I have been influenced by Frank Knight and F. A. Hayek in their insistence that the problem of social order is not scientific in the standard sense. Second, I was greatly influenced by Knut Wicksell’s admonition that economists cease acting as if government were a benevolent despot. Third, I rejected, very early in my thinking, the orthodox economist’s elevation of allocative efficiency as an independent standard of evaluation.”

And more importantly:

  • “I resist, and resist strongly, any and all efforts to pull me toward positions of advising on this or that policy or cause. I sign no petitions, join no political organizations, advise no party, serve no lobbying effort. Yet the public’s image of me, and especially as developed through the media after the Nobel Prize in 1986, is that of a right- wing libertarian zealot who is antidemocratic, anti-egalitarian, and antiscientific. I am, of course, none of these and am, indeed, the opposites. Properly understood, my position is both democratic and egalitarian, and I am as much a scientist as any of my peers in economics. But I am passionately individualistic, and my emphasis on individual liberty does set me apart from many of my academic colleagues whose mind-sets are mildly elitist and, hence, collectivist.”

On his personal economics:

  • “I like space around me. I bought this century-old log cabin and started fixing it up and added to it and so forth. I kept buying more land, more land, more land. I found out something about my utility function as I did that, because I found out that every step I took toward genuine self-subsistence really gives me a big charge. If I can build a fire in my wood stove and don’t have to depend on electric heat if we have a power outage, then I’m that much happier. Or if I can go across the street to the spring and get a bucket of water as opposed to having an electric pump to the well, that gives me a charge. Or if I grow my own vegetables or pick my own berries, which I’m doing now. This year there is a good blackberry crop. I became more and more interested in having at least a backup, so self-subsistent existence really did give me a lot of utility.”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Underplanning or no Commission?

Buzz Aldrin says “today, no nation — including our own — is capable of sending anyone beyond Earth’s orbit, much less deeper into space.A race to the moon is a dead end.”

In a funny, yet a sensible words Shekhar Gupta’s article titled “Babuji dheere chalna”. Some interesting paragraphs:

Why was the man not showing some “humility” and slowing down? Must he continue to risk the lives of workers? This in a system that is so forgiving of railways that move slowly, completing every project in double the scheduled time if not more (look at the Jammu-Srinagar rail link, for example), while still consuming hundreds of lives every year in completely ridiculous and avoidable accidents. Or, in fact, our view could be, thank God, our trains run so slowly, or so many more would die in these accidents!

Admitted, we can’t always hope to match the Chinese obsession with scale and speed, and the belief in the principle of “If you build it, they (users) will come.” But we have internalised the whole idea of “hastening slowly” as a core national belief, possibly drawing inspiration from our romantic poetry, even film songs that always counsel patience over speed: “Babuji zara dheere chalo” (Dum), “Haule-haule ho jaayega pyar” (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) and that evergreen favourite of three generations, Geeta Dutt’s “Babuji dheere chalna” from the ’60s Aar Paar. You just tweak the next line a bit replacing “pyaar” with “sarkar” and you get the most fitting anthem for our system: Babuji dheere chalna, sarkar mein, zara sambhalna. Because if you move slowly, you take no risks at all. There are enough elements in India for you to justify delays and, in any case, excuse-mongering is our most prized national tribute. It is only if you break that rule, try to finish things on schedule, or dream big, that you run the risk of going wrong. That, if you are in this mai-baap sarkar system, is just not worth it. Even our folklore, our traditional, even Sufi, wisdom passed down generations pleads only eternal patience, as in Bhakt Kabir’s “Dheere, dheere re mana dheere sab kuchh hoye (Be patient my heart, everything will happen, but slowly, slowly).”

Finally an IIT (Delhi) Prof argues, nothing new, but reminding ourselves become a norm now, isn’t? He saysthe government should be ready to roll out the red carpet, and roll away the entire red tape — in the interests of the nation and the students crying for high quality education opportunities.