Ask Me Anything — The Boston Edition

Greetings from Boston, MA. I arrived last evening from San Jose, CA to visit my friend Kanchan Banerjee and his family. The weather here was a shock — hot and humid — after the pleasant cool and dry of the SF Bay area. That wonderful weather spoils you something silly. Anyway, lots of stuff going on. What’s on your mind?

The Global Village

zzz404With all the great advances in the technology and engineering of global telecommunications systems, it is often claimed that the world has become integrated and is now a “global village.” Is it really?

What’s a village? One definition states that a village is “a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.” Therefore a village has a few hundred people, and there is a high degree of dependence among them, they know and mind each other. Their knowledge of, and their interest in, the outside world is limited and their concerns are primarily parochial. A village, by its very nature, is not an agglomeration of millions of people. That would be a modern metropolitan area, or a mega-city.
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The Journey So Far, and What Lies Ahead

Always at the start
The Road Ahead

I arrived in the US on this day, August 15th, back in 1982 at JFK in New York, NY around 5 PM Eastern (Aug 16th, 5:30 AM IST.) Though it’s been many years, I still recall exactly how I felt. It was the best day of my life that far.

I had no idea of what lay ahead.

I came to the US to get a PhD in computer science at Rutgers. At that time I had not known that I was at heart an economist. In any event, I worked for Hewlett Packard for some years in the Silicon Valley, and then went back to school. Now, after 20 years of studying economics, just this past month I concluded that I finally understood the subject.
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Independence Certainly but Not Freedom

Keep the same thing going
Continuity

It is an evident and obvious fact that India has failed to prosper. The cause of that failure is also obvious: the poor quality of its political and bureaucratic overlords. I use the word overlord advisedly because politicians and bureaucrats are not agents of the people — as they should be in a properly constructed government of a free people — but rather are rulers who position themselves above the people as commanders and dictators.

It is also easy to explain why the government is the overlord rather than the servant of the people. The reason is historical. The form, function, structure, objectives and power of the government were determined by the British during their colonial rule of India, starting in the mid-19th century. When it was no longer profitable for the British to continue to hold India as its colony, they transferred control of the British-created government to its favored minions, namely, Gandhi and his protégé Nehru. It is absolutely imperative to recognize that this transfer of power from the British to the Indians was a deliberate and voluntary act on both sides of the bargain.
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Democracy and the Economics of Politics

Lord Acton“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . .”

The truth of Lord Acton’s observation gets confirmed with sickening regularity. Here I explore that point in the context of democracy. Why do democracies, particularly those with powerful governments, tend to elect bad people? What’s the analytical relationship between power, politics, money and corruption? Continue reading

Which Countries Win the International Mathematical Olympiads

IMOI was asked on twitter how students of Indian origin do in the maths equivalent of the US spelling bee contests. (I had written a blog post on how students of Indian origin appear to have cornered the market on US spelling bee contests.)

I guess they do well in math too. I did a bit of searching on the web and here’s what I found.  Continue reading