India’s Enemy, the State

I have consistently argued for years that the greatest enemy of the Indian people is the government of India.

India doesn’t have to be pathetically poor. But the government makes sure that Indians remain poor by preventing them from creating wealth. It’s a toxic mixture of idiocy, greed, and stupidity of the politicians and their bureaucratic minions. Why is this so? I believe the stage was set by the British.

The Anti-prosperity Machine

The British imposed an extractive and exploitative government on India. They created the original “anti-prosperity machine”. That is natural, expected and entirely reasonable since the British were colonizers. Colonizers don’t colonize out of altruism. They do it to — let me repeat that — to exploit and extract. The Indian government is a British creation, designed with the specific purpose of keeping the Indian people under its control. After the British left, those who took over realized that as the new masters, the system suited them perfectly well. All the talk about Indians gaining freedom from an oppressive government is a lot of hogwash that only the stupidly deluded can believe. Indians are still enslaved. They are still not free to create wealth. Here’s an example I came across in a hard-hitting piece by Raghav Bahl. Continue reading

Victor Davis Hanson — Why World War 2 Matters

I had not known that Americans call it “World War 2” while the British call it the “Second World War.” That I learned from a public lecture Victor Davis Hanson gave at the Hillsdale College History Department. He is a Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno.

It is hard to overestimate the valuable education one can get from the world wide web, in particular from YouTube. The interwebs, as I like to call it, is a great resource and also the greatest impediment to doing my work. Easily distracted as I am, I find learning stuff delightful. And at times I despair at how little I know of the subjects that interest me.

Anyhow, I have my favorites among the great teachers on the web. Dr Hanson is a marvelous teacher. This is the first time I mention him on this blog (it won’t be the last) but I have been learning from the master for a few years. Here’s a treat for you. Continue reading

Prospects for Indian Development Models – Part 2


All revolutions begin in dictionaries.[1] I think that all confused thinking begins with an improper understanding of words — and often ends in needless man-made misery. To think and discourse effectively, we must define precisely the words we use. In the context of economics, words like “capitalism” have been misused and the concepts abused to the point that all related discussions are pointless. Douglass North said, “I don’t know what the word capitalism means and therefore I have never used the term.” [2]

If North, a Nobel laureate economist, hesitated using that word, who are we to use the word without at least attempting a definition? Dictionary definitions don’t quite serve the purpose. Every shorthand definition is inadequate for complex concepts. Understanding comes prior to the formulation of a concise statement of the idea, not after. It’s like the mathematical equation E=mc² — you have to understand a truckload of basic physics ideas before you can come anywhere close to understanding what the equation implies. Continue reading

Alan Watts and South Park

Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) was a great entertainer. A “philosophical entertainer” with the emphasis on the entertainer bit. Fortunately for us, his talks are available on YouTube. He was a fascinating person, as you can gather from the wiki page on him (linked above). My interpretation of Vedanta, Zen and Buddhism matches perfectly with his.  I think that at his core he was a Hindu. Wiki says —

Though known for his Zen teachings, he was also influenced by ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Vedanta, and spoke extensively about the nature of the divine reality which Man misses: how the contradiction of opposites is the method of life and the means of cosmic and human evolution; how our fundamental Ignorance is rooted in the exclusive nature of mind and ego; …

Theologically trained, he was an ordained Episcopal minister. He wasn’t overly impressed with the Bible. He wrote — Continue reading

DIY BS Detection Meter

In a comment, Akshar asked, “As a lay person one of the question I have always had in my mind about economics is that how exactly should I separate good opinion from bullshit vending. …  If as a layman I can’t tell the difference between informed opinion on economics v/s Bullshit why should I take Mr. Atanu Dey more seriously or why should I waste my time supporting Milton Friedman’s ideas.”

It is an unalterable fact of life that since time is a scarce resource we have to rely on others for most of what we value, whether physical or non-physical. We don’t have the time to discover for ourselves all the truths of mathematics, the laws of physics, the facts of nature; or invent technology (i.e., how to do things), grow food, build houses, engineer machines, make clothes, and so on. Given the limitations of time and cognitive abilities, we depend on trade and the division of labor that it entails. Each of us specializes to some degree. What I earn by writing code I exchange for everything else I need.

So how do I choose from among what’s on offer? As it happens, there are institutions in society that help in this regard. For most goods and services, we reply on the markets for signaling quality. If something continues to appeal to a large number of consumers for extended periods of time, it is probably OK for me. And of course my own taste guides me to choose among the many alternatives. Continue reading

Prospects for Indian Development Models – Part 1

Economic development of nations is a vast topic that people are unlikely to reach a consensus on ever. It lies beyond what’s even theoretically feasible. It’s a big enough elephant that defies easy characterization, and the best we can hope for is that the necessarily partial views are not obviously wrong.

Economists have debated the topic since the very beginnings of the discipline of economics. Indeed, the enterprise of economics was motivated by the very question of what economic development is. Adam Smith’s book, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, published in 1776 represents the first comprehensive attempt at systematizing the subject.

It’s the nature of the beast that makes it so intractable. An economy is an organic, living, breathing, dynamic, evolving thing. Unlike the inanimate objects that the natural sciences (physics being the foundational science) study, economists have at the core of their subject something that thinks, has volition, acts and reacts — the individual human. Economics is not, and cannot be, a science in the sense that physics is. Continue reading