Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My latest article in French Journal!

Here is a good news. My latest article (with friend Vipin) has been published in the French Journal. See here for full article. The article is on 20 years of economic reforms in India. It has many new analysis.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Competing is not a cup of coffee

Excerpts from P V Indiresan article:

  • The IITs have had a long history of admitting SC/ST students. In 1971, the Indian government introduced reservation of 22.5 per cent for the SCs and STs in admission to the IITs. It was done hurriedly and without preparation.
  • Reportedly, there was a case in one of the IITs, where a student was admitted with zero marks in all four subjects of the entrance examination. While the other SC/ST students had realised they had performed badly and opted out of the later examinations, this particular candidate had entered all four exams, and as it happened, there were not enough students to fill the quota, and so he too was admitted.
  • At this stage, I became the Dean in IIT Delhi, in charge of undergraduate courses. Realising what a travesty of justice it would be if such poor quality students were allowed to continue for five years or even more without any prospect of getting a degree, I introduced minimum performance for continuing in IIT. At the end of the year, of the 53 SC/ST students admitted, admission for 47 of them was terminated. In fact, one of them wrote me a letter of thanks for saving his career.
  • Professor Nurul Hasan, the then Minister for Education, called me for an explanation. I told him that every student had written two sets of internal tests, two semester examinations and also a supplementary examination. On each occasion, I had sent letters to the student and to the parents, expressing my concern at the poor performance and fears that if they continued in the IIT, their future would be ruined.
  • The Minister was impressed but still concerned. He went through the list of students who had been terminated and found one Ashok Chaturvedi there. Ye kaisa aa gaya (how did he come in here?) he asked. I explained that the IITs give automatic admission to the top 10 students from each school board and that he was one of them. He looked at me and then asked aap kya lenge — chaior coffee? (What will you have, tea or coffee?) That was that.
  • In a subsequent meeting, I suggested that no SC or ST student should be admitted without securing a minimum of two-thirds of the marks listed for admission for the general candidates to the IITs and to the BHU.
  • That did not help because not enough candidates qualified. Mr Shankaranand, himself an SC, had become Minister for Education and, at first, he objected to the suggestion made by the Additional Secretary, Professor Jha, to reduce the qualifying marks further, by saying that it would bring a bad name to the community. In the end, he yielded.
  • Nowadays, the cut-off is 50 per cent. Unfortunately, sympathy and charity have not helped. Even after 40 years of reservation, SC/ST candidates do not seem to be doing well in the IITs. In IIT Delhi, general category students passed out with an average Grade Point Average of 7.5, whereas the SC/STs had an average of around 5-6. By IIT standards that is low, very low.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Gandhian is dividing India

"So, when Khairlanji massacre occurred in which four member of a Dalit family was slaughtered on September 29, 2006 in Bhandara district, Maharashtra the new Gandhian was absent. When Dalits’ in an Odisha village were prevented from visiting the village temple few months ago, the new Gandhian was absent again. When Khap chases the Dalits, the new Gandhi is no where to be found. When Dalits demand their rights, he is missing. A 100 miles away from this Gandhian’s village, a Dalit entrepreneur is building a sugar factory, but has been 
prevented from doing so by the so-called civil society."

More here

Friday, August 26, 2011

Modi effect

I happen to directly see two powerful Chief Ministers who are now ruling two powerful States. One of them is Gujarat. Yes, I did see Modi from less than a few meters away. I also felt after hearing his talk, he lacks nothing becoming a powerful Prime Minister of India!

The point here is the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah made a statement while speaking in a public in Modi's own state and indeed in front of him.

Faroog siad:

"The day I see Allah in Modi’s eyes and Modi sees Bhagwan in my eyes, India will grow.” 


“This Ram I mean is Viwakaram. This Ram is Modi’s Ram, and this Ram is my Ram,”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Open licence for mass corruption

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today while addressing in the parliament. It is not surprise at least to me but the context in which he said is important to record here.

Singh said that:

".......corruption sources are numerous. Until the early 90s, the biggest single source of corruption was the licensing system, the industrial licensing system, the import controls and the foreign exchange controls. The liberalisation that we brought about has ended that part of this corruption story.

Another major part of corruption was the rates of taxation which were so exorbitant that people were tempted to enter into corrupt practices to reduce their tax liabilities."

Of that my child mind

Not to be missed out this well reasoned thought which merits attention. Shampa writes:

  • "Unsure about what to do and lacking direction on how to do it (even if they had the infrastructure), students turned to their parents for help. Fathers were called in from office early; siblings sent out to buy the tools, and working mothers were ordered to download and print all the relevant material (and the misuse of the office facilities be damned). Dining table cleared, dinner forgotten; the entire family sat down to do the 12-year-old’s home assignment.

  • The education ministry doesn’t want our school children to be burdened with annual exams; so it’s pelleting them with weekly assignments instead. What no one seems to factor in is the kids’ contribution—or lack of it. The teachers know that the beautifully-finished project reports, filled with thoroughly-researched data, turned in by the kids cannot be the latters’ doing. The foreign hand is obvious, but goes ignored.

  • Children think homework should be banned because they are at school all day and then get home only to encounter more work. Or at least the supervision of the work—as done by the parents. Parents who can’t spare the time or handle the stress believe homework should be banned too. Meanwhile, they outsource—to tutors, the extended family, stores selling science projects and, increasingly, to ‘homework websites’. Nothing apparently is too difficult for these sites. Not only can they ensure that the kids ‘pass that class’, they also help with SAT revisions; Science Fair models, and teach your child ‘How to be a Mathionaire’.

  • Confucius said, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” Well, someone is understanding a lot; pity that it can’t be our children."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Too many 'Bills'

Mahesh Bhatt said something very interesting one has to ponder: 

  • "I am an imperfect person with an imperfect view of the world – couldn't that hold true for everyone else, including Anna?"


  • “Anna's bill is just as impractical and dangerous as the government's bill. The nation must question Anna's bill as much as the government's. The bill proposes to create a power that is dangerous. Democracy must destabilise power, not augur it in the wrong hands. I get abused online by Anna's supporters so badly when I criticise his agenda. Arre bhai, just because I am not with you, does it mean I am against you?”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nehru’s blunders

The below paras are from the article by Sharad Joshi who is an eminent liberal economist and former parliamentarian in India. 
  • “The fact is that most recent problems relating to industrialisation and development of infrastructure could have been resolved at the dawn of Independence itself, had not Jawaharlal Nehru brought Soviet-brand socialism into independent India. 

  • The legislation Nehru brought in to abolish zamindari was rejected by most courts in the country as being violative of the fundamental right to property, including its acquisition, maintenance and disposal. Undaunted, Nehru moved the very first amendment to the Constitution — to abridge the fundamental right to property. His daughter, Indira Gandhi, gave that right a final burial. This established here the principle of eminence juris, copied from the British system, broadly meaning that the land belongs to the monarch and can be taken away only through due legal processes. This was unknown in the Indian system, where the land was considered to be the property of the village. Jairam Ramesh, had he done his homework properly, would have found that he is now grappling with a problem created by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, both near-deities to the Congress.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eastern vibration of liberty

During the MPS meeting I met Razeen Sally whose talk was one of the greatest I ever listened. Here is a para from his article in Business Standards:

The zenith of economic freedom outside the West in pre-modern history was medieval Indian Ocean trade beforeEuropean colonisation, a Golden Age of south and south-east Asian commerce. Before the Portuguese muscled in, the Indian Ocean was Mare Liberum, not controlled by any power and fully open to trade. Coastlines were dotted with “port-polities”, independent towns and cities whose lifeblood was overseas trade. Aden, Hormuz, Cambay, Goa, Calicut, Aceh, Malacca and Macassar were religiously tolerant, polyglot, cosmopolitan places, energised by trading diaspora. Freewheeling economic competition went in tandem with decentralised, flexible political institutions and advanced legal structures. Fractured geography and competing polities combined to promote economic freedom, growth and prosperity.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Do not worry about social problems beyond a tipping point!

In my age group, I find, there is too much sympathy towards social causes in India. When they actually go for doing something with that, they simply get lost! Why? Normally they don’t have simple empathy towards any particular causes or any understanding of it. Their intention is well understandable, but their actions are questionable on many ways. The basis is how they think about the social problems and of course the people involved in it.

Indian born reputed economist Avinash Dixit once wrote advising young chaps who aspire to be an economist that :  “Don't give too much weight to the social importance of the issue; instead, do what captures your intellectual interest and creative imagination.”

Salil Tripathi writes in Mint:

These defeats aren’t a national catastrophe. If Indians want to get angry about something, here’s a little list to get them started, and it is by no means complete. Trains that crash or get derailed, killing passengers. Politicians who take bribes. Leaders unrepentant about hundreds of deaths in riots under their watch. Rural schools that lack blackboards, chalks and teachers who fail to turn up at schools, but give private tuitions to the children of those who can afford to pay them. Public hospitals that fail to provide healthcare to the poor. Food thatrots in central warehouses. Police officers who think nothing of custodial deaths and cannot provide a coherent explanation about what happened. And the enduring shame of women not being able to walk freely on Indian streets, without fear, without being leered at, harassed or molested.

Add to that here is the Indian roads pothole numbers view.