Democracy, Elections and Voting — Part 3

Winston Churchill’s pithy observation that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” is unfortunately too accurate to be dismissed lightly. We are often acutely reminded of that by the results of elections, in developed as well as in developing countries. It is a marvel that the myth of the enlightened voter persists against all evidence to the contrary.
Continue reading

Open Thread: The why of things

“The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who knows why will always be his boss.” Ralph Waldo Emerson was a clever man. Someone else wrote that if we know the why, we can always figure out the how. Perhaps it was I or perhaps it was someone smarter. Anyhow, this is an open thread. Say what you will. I am going to be back in a bit.

Railway Track Replacement Machine in Action

Many of you know that I believe that the backbone of India’s transportation system has to be rail-based. I love trains and continue to marvel at how amazing railroads are. This post is about how amazing are the machines that lay, repair and replace railroad tracks in advanced industrialized countries (and I suppose nowadays in China.)
Continue reading

India’s Much Vaunted Freedom

I think the reports of India’s independence from colonial rule are severely exaggerated. Indians have been under foreign rule for several centuries and have become accustomed to being treated like irresponsible slaves, demanding to be controlled. Sure they do “democratically” determine who will rule them, but in the end, they are still slaves entrusted with the task of electing their masters. And the masters decide what the slaves will hear, read, and write. Let me explain why I hold the slaves with special contempt — because they acquiesce so willingly to their slavery.
Continue reading

Democracy, Elections and Voting — Part 2

The importance of rules cannot be overestimated. Human societies differ not so much in the physical characteristics of people or their mental capabilities as they do in the rule-sets that define and distinguish them. If we have to understand why some societies prosper and others don’t, we could do worse than to examine their rules. Culture is another term for the collection of rules, and it more than any other factor determines how successful a society is.
Continue reading