Slumlord Billionaire

There’s an interesting news article in the Times of India, “Congress counts 8 Oscars as part of UPA `achievements’” (Hat tip: Sudipta Chatterjee.)

Keen to be part of the euphoric `Slumdog’ bandwagon, Congress has counted the eight Oscars as part of the UPA’s `achievements’. The party lost no time in claiming credit for the `Indian triumph’ and hinted that good times had come with the UPA government.

Danny Boyle is not Indian though the slums most certainly are. So I suppose anyone claiming credit for the Oscars won by a movie set in the Mumbai slums is proudly displaying their role in creating the slums that made the movie possible.
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OpenThread: Your turn to speak

It’s been a while since we had an open thread for readers to give feedback. So here’s an opportunity for you if you have something to say. I have never deleted any comment merely because I don’t agree with an opinion. The only time I delete comments is when it is clearly spam, totally irrelevant or is abusive.

Say what you will. And stop lurking.

A great rant from The Agitator.com

A well-written rant warms the cockles of my heart. And when the rant is against gross stupidity, crass ignorance, and idiot politicians pandering to the mindless bigotry of the public, I feel envious and wish I had written it. Here’s one for you — A Letter I’d Like to See (But Won’t) — if you like that sort of thing. But first, the background:

The Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps, who was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe, has lost a major sponsorship deal and has been suspended from competition for three months. [Feb 5th, NY Times]

Below the fold is an extended excerpt from the rant, for the record: Continue reading

Friends of BJP

The Friends of BJP is a recently formed organization with which my colleague Rajesh Jain is closely associated. On his blog today, Rajesh explained that

“The goal is to galvanise the youth and professionals to engage with the political process to bring about transformational change in India.”

The Friends of BJP is a subset of the educated civil society that is BJP-leaning, and willing to be vocal about it. We are not part of the BJP. We also do not agree with everything the BJP says or does. It is our belief that at this point of time the BJP is the better alternative. It is not a selection between black and white, but opting for the one with the lighter shades of grey.

The subtitle of the Friends of BJP blog says, “Because India Deserves Better.” Is that true? Most will agree that India’s governance has left much to be desired. But merely desiring something does not make one deserving of it. I desire lots of things but I sure am not deserving of them. There’s much hard work between desiring and deserving.
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The Economics of Urbanization

“The Economics of Urbanization” is the title of a course that I plan to teach at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, starting next week. I am looking forward to being at the ISB for the next five weeks.

The course is an exploration of the idea (related to the theme on cities and urbanization explored on this blog) that economic growth and urbanization are bidirectionally linked. I hope to argue the case for urbanization of India based on simple economics.
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Vodafone Blocks MyToday

MyToday is a set of opt-in SMS services from our company, Netcore. MyToday has around 3.8 million subscribers. Since you cannot receive the SMSs from MyToday without first sending an SMS to MyToday requesting the service, you cannot get spammed. Stopping the service is as simple as sending a “Stop” SMS to the same service.

Vodafone, one of the bigger mobile operators, has blocked the MyToday SMS alerts since today morning, as this Business Standard news item reports. I suppose the MyToday free SMS services is hurting Vodafone’s paid services. My blocking MyToday’s services, Vodafone is doing what any profit-maximizing firm does — kill competition.

See Rajesh Jain’s post on this matter for more on this.

My analysis is however in the larger context of competitive markets and their welfare implications.
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LK Advani’s speech to the FICCI

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” advised Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Does makes sense, doesn’t it? Motivating the task is the real job of the leader, not messing around with petty details.
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Strangling Freedom of Speech and Expression

The UK is on the fast track to becoming a closed society in its hurry to emulate Saudi Arabia. Last week, it denied entry to Geert Wilders of the Netherlands. “Dutch populist politician and controversial anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders has been refused entry to the United Kingdom despite being invited to visit by a member of the House of Lords, the British parliament’s upper chamber. . . Geert Wilders, perhaps best known outside the Netherlands for having made the video Fitna, in which the religion Islam and its holy book the Koran are attacked as providing a basis for terrorist attacks and for the undermining of western democracy and values, had been invited to London for a showing of this film to members of the British parliament.”

Thankfully, Fitna is available on the web and this idiotic attempt to shoot the messenger will only make the message more compelling.
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