Monday, May 31, 2010

Random readings

1. Throwing light on knowledge- Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within.”

2. Humans: Why They Triumphed;

  • Yet all the ingredients of human success—tool making, big brains, culture, fire, even language—seem to have been in place half a million years before and nothing happened.
  • But the sophistication of the modern world lies not in individual intelligence or imagination. It is a collective enterprise. Nobody—literally nobody—knows how to make the pencil on my desk (as the economist Leonard Read once pointed out), let alone the computer on which I am writing. The knowledge of how to design, mine, fell, extract, synthesize, combine, manufacture and market these things is fragmented among thousands, sometimes millions of heads. Once human progress started, it was no longer limited by the size of human brains. Intelligence became collective and cumulative.

  • ideas are having sex with each other as never before.
  • The rate of cultural and economic progress depends on the rate at which ideas are having sex.
  • We tend to forget that trade and urbanization are the grand stimuli to invention, far more important than governments, money or individual genius.

Eternal life of language

It is equally a language of a beggar and a minister, a layman and a scholar and a scientist and a poet. No rule can rule English because it is spoken in different ways even in different parts of England, of course like some other languages. Of late it has got the other varieties like American English and African English, at least the first having distinct spelling and way of pronunciation.

Quite a musing!

Does Living Close to Your Destination Make You Late? A Very Small Experiment

  • “I would really love to hear more of your comments on Ericsson’s paper on “deliberate practice.” I even tried it out and it worked! I play the piano, and I was really lagging back on my preparation for Trinity College of Music London’s Advanced Certificate in Solo Piano Exam. I came across the term “deliberate practice” somewhere on the Internet. I Googled it, got the paper, read it and tried implementing. I practiced motifs and passages that gave me trouble, “deliberately,” and I could see the improvements within days! It has now given me the confidence to prepare for the Licentiate of Trinity College of Music London (LTCL), Solo Piano. Thank you Professor Ericsson!

Off not too late, just got the Ericsson paper (The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance) from here (pdf)!! Will it work for me? Or will I make it work for me? Or will it make me to work for what I wanted to do? Crukk the words!!

What cannot be cured must be endured

K Natwar Singh says:

Indian democracy is now on auto-pilot. There is no danger of a democratic crash. Flawed, our democracy may be, survive it will. Its critics are mostly armchair-wallahs. Where one meets all the people one has been trying to avoid.

Bail out the hotbed India cities real estates

Says Chetan Bhagat:

Some excerpts

  • In Lutyens’ Delhi alone, there’s potentially a thousand acres of land occupied by bungalows, MP residences, various offices and quasi-government entities. Additionally, we also have dozens of ‘thinktanks’, occupying super-prime real estate. These thinktanks presumably add enlightenment to our society, though it is difficult to tell even one or two solid contributions they have made in the past few decades.
  • To do quick cost calculation, an acre-sized bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi sells for around Rs 100-150 crore. A thousand acres, at the low end of the range, is Rs 100,000 crore. Slap on a big FSI, and the number can be ten times as much. Even conservatively, at half the amount, we arrive at Rs 500,000 crore. This is the blocked capital cost of running our wonderful government where MPs claim to make a pittance. Anyway, a replacement complex in Gurgaon, to replace this entire setup, with modern housing, offices (and the fountains for thinktanks) is unlikely to cost more than Rs 20,000 crore, or only 4% of the blocked capital. The remaining amount can be used to reduce our staggering government debt. This in turn leads to saving enormous actual cash interest costs every year. (If the Rs 480,000 crore of debt is reduced, we can save at least Rs 40,000 crore of interest costs every year.
  • These are just the possibilities in Delhi. Similarly, every state capital has enormous government land in prime areas kept in sub-productive uses. The surplus railways and defence land is another level altogether. If all that capital is released, the Indian government finances will finally begin to look healthy. The dreaded inflation, a common Indian feature, will also come under control.
  • There are other benefits of off-loading real estate as well. There is something wrong about a government servant and his family living in massive two-acre bungalows costing Rs 200 crore in a low income democracy like India. It reeks of colonialism and has no place in 2010. Another benefit would be development of new areas, where the new offices and residences are located. Newer construction also means more high-tech buildings that will improve government efficiency. The move will also release land, thereby easing pressure on real estate prices as well.

And he conclude:

  • One could argue against the practicality of this move, but if there is a will, it is partially doable. Frankly, doing this is far more practical than running a 20% inflation economy, which makes the poor and middle class spend their lives chasing inflation and never be able to accumulate real wealth. To sit on assets at the expense of the common people is called feudalism, and we are supposed to have ended that 62 years ago. This move could be inconvenient for the lawmakers for a while, but not impossible. Most importantly, it will be good for Indian people. After all, our politicians are meant to serve us, right?

Tendrils of happiness (h)air

“Nor is it an urban-versus-rural thing. Witness the bored village women who sit on their verandas with vacant, listless eyes. These same women transform into giggling teenagers when they go together for a bath in the river or during a break from the fields. It is all about time and place. Shakespeare’s “whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shiny morning face, creeping like snail unwilling to school” may apply to British schoolboys but bears no resemblance to the cheerful, fresh-faced, white-uniformed schoolkids who run up the slopes in Uttarakhand or Ooty.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Education: PPP, profit making and voucher schools

Few excerpts from Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak’s article:

  • According to the model finalised by the Planning Commission in consultation with the private sector, these schools will be set up by 2014 and will have the capacity to educate 65 lakh students, of whom 25 lakh will be from the deprived sections. Each school will have about 2,500 students, 1,000 of whom will be from deprived sections and charged a token fee. Fifty per cent of the 1,000 students will be from the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes. They will be required to pay a monthly fee of Rs.25 each. The rest of the children, who will be from other deprived sections — non-income tax paying families — will be required to pay a fee of Rs.50 a month . The remaining costs of these students, estimated to be Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,200 a head per month, will be reimbursed by the Union government to the schools. It is estimated that the government will have to pay Rs.10,500 crore until 2017. The amount is likely to go up with escalating prices, in general, and increasing costs of education, in particular.
  • Over and above this, the schools may get access to relevant funds from the Centre and the State governments under different schemes. The schools will be free to admit anyone to the remaining 1,500 seats and charge any amount of fee.
  • Corporate companies with a minimum net worth of Rs.25 lakh are eligible to set up schools under this model. Each entity should deposit Rs.50 lakh with the government for the first school it proposes to set up, and Rs.25 lakh per additional school. Each can set up as many as 25 schools. Non-profit companies with prior experience in education need to deposit Rs.25 lakh for each school. The schools will need to have the sort of infrastructure available in the best private schools.
  • There are a few important aspects that are clear in this model. One, it involves a massive transfer of resources from the exchequer to private schools. Two, the schools have unlimited freedom in all aspects of governance, including specifically the fees to be charged from the 1,500 students. The model thus allows the so-called non-profit institutions to work for, and actually make, profits. Third, the government has little control over these schools. Except to insist that 1,000 students from the deprived sections be admitted and that they be charged a certain fee, it cannot do much.
  • According to earlier thinking, these schools were to become ‘voucher schools', and totally privatised, after 10 years, when government funding would cease. Secondly, the aided school system has not actually provided scope to make profits, though some schools have made profits by adopting unfair methods. In contrast, the PPP model openly allows for profit-making, as schools are free to fix fee levels and the government has no role with respect to either the fee rates or the expenditure of the schools. After all, it is now recognised that no private company will set up a school unless “a reasonable return on investment” is ensured.

Never figured out

….put more emphasis on our sentiments. People are born with natural desires to be admired and to be worthy of admiration. They are born with moral emotions, a sense of fair play and benevolence. They are also born with darker passions, like self-love and tribalism, which mar rationalist enterprises. We are emotional creatures first and foremost, and politics should not forget that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We are all “Trading with complete strangers”

Follow up of Sauvik's Catallactics in Open Society article.

“Even the simple acts of buying food and clothing depend on an astonishing web of interaction that spans the globe. How did humans develop the ability to trust total strangers with providing our most basic needs?”

From The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life, by Paul Seabrigh

  • It is a phenomenon as remarkable and uniquely human as language itself. Most human beings now obtain a large share of the provision for their daily lives from others to whom they are not related by blood or marriage. Even in poor rural societies people depend significantly on nonrelatives for food, clothing, medicine, protection, and shelter. In cities, most of these nonrelatives crucial to our survival are complete strangers. Nature knows no other examples of such complex mutual dependence among strangers. A division of labor occurs, it is true, in some other species, such as the social insects, but chiefly among close relatives—the workers in a beehive or an ant colony are sisters. There are some cases of apparent cooperation between colonies of ants founded by unrelated queens, though the explanation of this phenomenon remains controversial...

    Full Introduction chapter is here

Monday, May 24, 2010

Whatever you do, they come and undo.

Sudha Pillai said in a interview to TOI:

It's accepted that lack of development triggered the Maoist problem. What went wrong?

  • It's a fact that tribals have got a raw deal. State governments have acted in a colonial manner, disenfranchising tribals. Managing forest produce is a basic plank. Nobody can take the people's livelihood away. Tribals had a certain way of life in the forests, which need not be romanticized. But they had access to forest produce like honey, lac and resin, through which they earned a living. The biggest failure of state governments is that they denied them access to non-timber forest produce. We have suggested implementation of Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act 1996, which recognizes the traditional rights of tribals over community resources. Even after 14 years, the 73rd Amendment which gives constitutional status to panchayati raj institutions has still not been implemented everywhere.

But the dangerous thing she said in the interview is:

Do the benefits from various schemes reach the people?

  • ….When I was in the labour ministry, we started the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to provide health insurance coverage for BPL families. Wherever it was implemented, I was told, money lenders had run away. That's the nicest thing I ever heard.

Catallactics matters

Sauvik has great piece Catallaxy, key to an Open Society in Mint today.

Some excerpts:

  • Yet, community is a bogus value in a market society, which, in order to succeed, must be urban and cosmopolitan. Community makes sense in a village comprising one caste or in a small, exclusive tribe where everyone knows everyone else. It makes no sense in a city where individuals operate, peacefully trading with complete strangers. For such a society, the appropriate political value is “catallaxy”, which means an open trading arena. But first, a little about this word.
  • In the 20th century, Austrian economists alone used the word “catallactics” to denote the science of exchange. In Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action(1949), the section dealing with traditional economic issues is titled “Catallactics”. Derived from the Greek word for “exchange”, Mises mentions that catallactics was first used by the British economist and theologian Bishop Whately in the previous century, which means the word was well known to the classical political economists. Mises’ student from his Vienna years, Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek, confessed to having “fallen in love with this word”, for which he discovered two additional meanings that the ancient Greeks ascribed to it: first, “to welcome into the community”; and second, “to turn from enemy into friend”. These connotations of the word indicate its importance to an Open Society.

  • Hayek defines community as “a common recognition of the same rules”. Such rules can be religious or tribal—or they can be secular. In an open catallaxy, only one rule need be recognized by all: private property. Happily enough, as Hayek also points out, this rule has been the cornerstone of open markets for millennia. Whenever people exchange, they exchange properties. Thus, most trade takes place without legal paperwork of any kind. Hayek said that the rule of private property operates in all of us “between instinct and reason”. We follow the property rule without knowing why. We have given up the instinct to plunder, to snatch and grab—but we don’t know why.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mr. Sachs is wrongly understood F A Hayek

In 2006, William Easterly argued in a article published in WSJ:

  • p. A18) Scientific American, in its November 2006 issue, reaches a "scientific judgment" that the great Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek "was wrong" about free markets and prosperity in his classic, "The Road to Serfdom." The natural scientists' favorite economist -- Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University -- announces this new scientific breakthrough in a column, saying "the evidence is now in." To dispel any remaining doubts, Mr. Sachs clarifies that anyone who disagrees with him "is clouded by vested interests and by ideology."
  • This sounds like one of those moments in which the zeitgeist of mass confusion about national poverty, world poverty and prosperity comes together in one mad tragicomic brew.. . .
  • Mr. Sachs, who is currently best known for his star-driven campaign to end world poverty, has apparently spent more time studying the economic thinking of Salma Hayek than that of Friedrich. . . .
  • Mr. Sachs's empirical analysis purports to show that Nordic welfare states are outperforming those states that follow the "English-speaking" tradition of laissez-faire, like the U.K. or the U.S. Poverty rates are indeed lower in the Nordic countries, although the skeptical reader (probably an ideologue) might wonder if the poverty outcome in, say, the U.S., with its tortured history of a black underclass and its de facto openness to impoverished but upwardly mobile immigrants, is really comparable to that of Nordic countries.
  • Then there is the big picture, where those laissez-faire Anglophones in, first, the U.K. and, then, the U.S., just happened to have been the leaders of the ongoing global industrial revolution that abolished far more poverty over the past two centuries than a few modest Scandinavian redistribution schemes. Mr. Sachs apparently thinks the industrial revolution was led by IKEA. Lastly, let's hear from the Nordics themselves, who have been busily moving away from the social welfare state back toward laissez-faire. According to the English-speaking ideologues that composed the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, Denmark, Finland and Sweden were all included in the 20 countries classified as "free" in 2006 (with Denmark actually ranked ahead of the U.S.). Only Norway missed the cut -- barely.
  • Mr. Sachs is wrong that Hayek was wrong. In his own global antipoverty work, he is unintentionally demonstrating why more scientists, Hollywood actors and the rest of us should go back and read "The Road to Serfdom" if we want to know what will not work to achieve "The End of Poverty." Hayek gave the best exposition ever of the unpopular ideas of economic freedom that somehow triumph anyway, alleviating far more national and global poverty than more fashionable Scandinavia-envy and grandiose plans to "make poverty history."

“it is like getting a cow to jump over the moon”

T C A on Mr.Lee:

  • The main message is that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a friend of India whom it persistently disappointed in generous measure by its assumption of superiority, its arrogance about its democracy, its phony socialism and its misplaced pride in having the USSR as an ally. No decent country got it more wrong than India, is Mr Lee's considered judgment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Off the Theses of ‘buck’

The linguistics of a political brouhaha

Climate mind

Shreekant Gupta on “Let The Market Work Its Magic”

  • The point often missed in terming China and India big emitters is that global warming is not caused by current emissions of GHGs but by their accumulated stock in the atmosphere. Once released, these gases can stay in the atmosphere for up to 100 years. A tonne of CO2 emitted by industrial revolution-era Britain in the late 1800s is almost as bad as a tonne of CO2 emitted by China or India today. So, EU with 16 per cent of current emissions accounts for nearly 27 per cent of cumulative emissions, ranking second only to the US. For the UK, an early industrialiser, the difference is even more pronounced: its historic share is nearly three times its current share. Conversely, the historic share for many developing countries is sharply below their current share of global emissions. China's and India's cumulative shares (7.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively, since 1850) are only half their current shares.
  • The most transparent and objective way resource transfer can occur is through the creation of a global carbon market and the assetisation of the global atmospheric commons coupled with an equitable distribution of these assets. Any country wanting higher per capita levels than the safe limit would have to buy this right. This is how markets work: property rights are traded at a prevailing price and in that exchange is implicit a transfer of money (which in India's case could be used to finance clean and renewable energy without depending on the patronage of aid or having to deal with donor fatigue and sermonising).

Political economics = boom boom shakalaka…..

Mani Shankar Aiyar on PESA: Government's sheathed weapon

Few excerpts:

  • “To avoid making this an issue of Centre-state relations, all the National Development Council (NDC) has to do is take up the unanimous report of the Empowered Sub-Committee on Panchayati Raj submitted all of two years ago to an unbelieving Planning Commission which has refused these last 24 months to even bring the report to the NDC, largely because a sceptical deputy chairman cannot bring himself to believe that state governments would willingly commit themselves to the report's conclusions!

  • Moreover, PESA had provided that within a year — that is, or was, by December 1997! — all legislation not in conformity with PESA be amended to bring it in line with PESA provisions (in letter, of course, but also in spirit).

  • This could broadly be interpreted to mean that the two principal colonial causes of tribal disaffection — the failure to recognise community propriety rights over land of tribal communities in the Indian Forests Act, 1927 and the many glaring oppressive features of the 19th century Land Acquisition Act — could and should be amended to bring them in line with the letter and spirit of PESA which stresses the role of the tribal community in matters affecting the land they live on and the duty of gram sabhas in Fifth Schedule areas to ensure that tribal land is not alienated except with their consent.

  • While “consultation” with gram sabhas is mandatory only with regard to “minor” mineral and forest produce, the right to prevent alienation of tribal land without due consent clearly means that POSCO, NDMC and other corporate predators cannot make free with other people's property and certainly not in collaboration with state agencies, as is clearly happening.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Politicians are anti-social justice!

Sowell on:

But that is wholly different from having politicians make such decisions for other people. Politicians who take on that role stifle economic progress and drain away other people's money, in order to hand out goodies that will help get themselves re-elected. Some people call that "social justice," even when it is anti-social politics.

Hi Chimerica!

Welcome to twenty-first century! You are a new on the bath water “entwining of the boom economies of China and the US”. You always give us the “innovation and rapidly-growing productivity”. We make use of this “to become the manufacturing heart of the world, churning out consumer goods at very low prices and taming inflation” so long live you TWO my brother!

That is what I really thought after reading Mr.Swami’s article in today’s ET.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“the political trilemma of the world economy

Rodrik writes:

  • “….economic globalisation, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at the most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalisation. If we push for globalisation while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalisation, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to Bihar

Yes, that is the mood of some economists and policy analyst who preach in the English speaking media that the era of Bihar has begun. Really? Around in 2001 my friends went to Bodhgaya in Bihar as part of National Cadet Corps (NCC) camp and when they came back they told us all kinds of problems that one can imagine in living life!

But now the results speak otherwise, long back i read but could not post earlier!

Recently there were three pieces published in the Indian news paper. They are:

Welcome 2014!!

Ramachandra Guha writes:

“The Republic of India is bleeding, from a thousand little cuts and a dozen larger ones. There is continuing discontent in the Kashmir Valley, and even greater discontent in Manipur. The talks with the Naga rebels are going nowhere. The Maoist insurgency in central India has assumed dangerous proportions. The agrarian distress in the peninsular states shows no signs of abating. Linguistic chauvinism episodically raises its head in India’s urbs prima, Mumbai.

Many of these conflicts have their roots in the uneven and inequitous pattern of economic development in India. Meanwhile, prospects for more inclusive growth are threatened by gross corruption at all levels of government, from the lowly tehsildar right up to the Union minister. Economic and social well-being are also undermined by the shocking state of government schools, universities, and hospitals.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vote for Indian caste

K. Subrahmanyam writes in IE:

“The politicians who are interested in the caste census data are not as interested in advancing the living standards and the status of the traditionally disadvantaged as they are in organising them into vote banks.

It may take many censuses before the majority of Indians are willing to renounce this millenia-old institution. As India urbanises and develops, casteism and caste-based politics will lose significance.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

“out of sight is out of mind”

Embracing the imagination= vast ensemble of organisms

Book review (1860):

The Origin Of Species: On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection Or The Preservation Of Favored Races In The struggle For Life. By Charless Darwin,M.A.,

Some excerpts:

  • …..that each species has been independently created
  • that "all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was at first breathed!"
  • "I have reason to believe that humble-bees are indispensable to the fertilization of the heartsease. Hence I have very little doubt that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, this heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests; and Mr. H. NEWMAN, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that 'more than two thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England.' Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as everyone knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. NEWMAN says, 'Near villages I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice!'"
  • Nature is constantly at work doing the same thing.
  • "And we do not know how ignorant we are," adds Mr. DARWIN.
  • It is the leading idea of modern science that we need not go in search of any other causes than those which are at present in action, for an explanation of the phenomena of Nature.
  • The most important contribution to modern thought is undoubtedly the indirect teachings of physical science.
  • ……… needs literature just as much as literature needs science. He is the master of science who makes his facts but initial, leading to heights where new vistas open in flashes of beauty and repose.

“Indian society masquerading under the colour of social science”

Yes, says Pratap Bhanu Mehta and ponder that:

“The project of enumerating caste in Census is fundamentally inspired by a cast of mind that measures the legitimacy of everything largely through caste. What more pinched up conception of citizenship can we imagine?

Friday, May 7, 2010

“old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird”

Amit Chaudhuri musings on Tagore:

  • On the Mount Rushmore of Indian nationalist iconography, we can expect to see, as we pass by in an aeroplane, Gandhi’s and Nehru’s faces carved into the stone. The third face is a blur — but the myopic likeness is of course Ambedkar’s. The fourth visage just may be Tagore’s.
  • And this, you feel, is largely the company Tagore will keep in the days leading to his 150th birth anniversary: Nehru, Gandhi, Ambedkar.
  • In India, Tagore is viewed as a sort of Guinness Book of World Records-holder: he wrote more than any other modern writer did; he mastered more genres than any of his contemporaries; he was the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize; he’s the only man to have composed two national anthems. To the febrile nationalist imagination, such lists are all-important. Even if some of these claims were true, they — without reference to specificities — exemplify the sort of absurd rhetoric Tagore is surrounded by. Although there’s no shortage of kitsch renditions of the national anthem, emanating from A R Rahman and others, I’ve yet to read a persuasive analysis of the anthem as a composition.

Also read Ramachandra Guha's Why Tagore?

The Liberal Assault on the Poor

Jacob G. Hornberger writes:

"Liberals say that they love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, however, the economic philosophy that liberals favor constitutes a direct assault on the economic well-being of the poor, along with nearly everyone else in society.

Liberals claim to combat poverty in two principal ways.

First, they use the force of government (e.g., income taxes) to take money from those who have earned it in order to give it to the poor.

Second, they restrict people’s use of their property to enable the poor to have access to such property.

What liberals fail to understand, however, is that the very means they choose to combat poverty – socialism and interventionism – actually exacerbate the problem that they claim to address. Their war on poverty hurts the very people they say they are trying to assist.

In proposing welfare-state programs, by necessity liberals always make an important assumption. They assume that there is wealth in society. After all, if there is no wealth then what good would welfare-state policies do? The welfare state operates on the assumption that there are people who are earning wealth or have accumulated wealth. Those are the people from whom the government takes money in order to redistribute it to the poor".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It’s like a set of forces have been unleashed

Ramesh Ramanathan onglass both half full and half empty at the same time”

“The whole country is a giant laboratory for this experiment, and I dare say no one really knows where things are going to explode, and in which corner sublime alchemy is taking place.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deviant behaviour

Pinky Anand on Kushboo Khan

“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”

John Stuart Mill

A century-and-a-half ago, John Stuart Mill voiced his concern for free speech. The Supreme Court in Kushboo's case has endorsed these ideals.

Ms Kushboo's case is a tribute to one of the most sacrosanct rights of a democracy and to a vibrant dynamic society. The Supreme Court judgment reaffirms our faith in liberty: liberty of ideas; liberty of speech and expression; liberty of opinion; liberty of divergence; liberty of dissension, and liberty of circulation. Benjamin Franklin said: “When men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public.” It gives a blow to the power-hungry, aggressive sections of society who claim to be the defenders of faith.”

Cut the nexus

Gurcharan Das’s IPL and capitalism

  • …….markets are natural to human beings. Banias and bazaars have been with us for thousand of years, ever since Indians first engaged in agriculture and there was a surplus. Our first towns in the Indus valley emerged as centres of exchange. But markets are not the same thing as the market system, which requires that moneymaking be regarded as respectable. Historically, commerce has had a bad odour in all societies. In India, the merchant was third in the caste hierarchy. Even though we have the wondrous spectacle of thousands of young Indians starting business ventures today, the idea that their struggle for personal gain might actually promote the common is too bizarre. This is behind the animus against the big sums in IPL. Even sophisticated Indians distrust the market, perhaps because no one is in charge. No wonder Samuel Johnson said, “There is nothing which requires more to be illustrated by philosophy than trade does.”
  • Modi’s entrepreneurship necessarily involved assuming risks and valuing novelty, characteristics that are not common in a stable society. He was a brash new kid around the block, and he will admit that entrepreneurial success does not lead to social acceptance. The economic historian, Jean Baechler, tells us that in 6th century BC, firms in Babylon took in money deposits, issued cheques, made loans at interest, and invested in agricultural and industrial enterprises. Yet they were looked down upon. All agrarian civilisations have looked down upon merchant capitalists and commercial activities have been universally held in low esteem.
  • It was only in the High Middle Ages that this changed, and capitalists were finally given social acceptance and protection from the predation of the state, as Deepak Lal argues in Unintended Consequences. It was due to a legal revolution in the 11th century when Pope Gregory VII in 1075 put the church above the state. The resulting church-state created the whole legal and administrative infrastructure required by a full-fledged market economy. This led to the rise of the West and its divergence from the rest of the world.
  • India after 1991 has joined in this capitalist adventure, and with vigour. Because India got democracy before capitalism, the critique of capitalism began in the 1950s even before full-blown capitalism arrived in 1990s. Hence, players in the capitalist game have a responsibility to behave with restraint until capitalism establishes a comfortable home. IPL’s irregularities have not helped. But having said that, it is impressive that the critique of IPL has been constructive by and large, and shows we have come a long way in our attitudes. The challenge before regulators remains how to bring transparency in the market without killing the animal spirits of the likes of Lalit Modi.

All must wear bikinis

K Natwar Singh Love on the IPL saga:

"In a lighter vein, I have been mulling over a tantalising possibility. What a superb Bollywood film the IPL-Modi saga would make.

Producer and director: Lalit Modi; script writer: Shashi Tharoor; dialogue by Sardar “Sherry” Siddhu; lady stars: Madams Zinta, Shetty and S Pushkar; advisers: Sunil Gavaskar, Rudy Kirsten, Shane Warne and K Pollard; music by A Raheman; photography by Anil Kumble; umpires: former prime ministers of the UK and Australia, Messrs John Major and John Howard, both cricket buffs; commentators: three heavyweight India politicians. Authentic hero Shah Rukh Khan to play the role of Lalit Modi. Finally, the female cheerleaders. These are to be selected by the producer-director. All must wear bikinis. The IPL I, II and III girls were over-dressed!!"