It was 20 years ago today, the World Wide Web was born to the Public Domain

“It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Peppers taught the band to play . . .” Actually, I got carried away. What I really meant was that it was 20 years ago today, on April 30th 1993, that a bunch of researchers at CERN, a physics lab in Switzerland, decided that they would put some of the software they had created for sharing data in the public domain. That was the birth of the World Wide Web. And the first website, you ask? Here is a screen capture. (Click on the image to visit the world’s first website.

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The Case Against Government Compensation of Crime Victims

Money does grow on trees. Quite a bit of it is printed on stuff that is grown — wood cellulose & cotton. But money is not wealth. It is easy to confuse money with wealth but they are not the same. Governments create fiat money but that does not mean that governments create wealth. People through their effort create wealth. The government merely takes some of that wealth and uses it for various purposes, only some of which are defensible and some are not.

Today I read that the Bengal government is going to spend Rs 500 crores to compensate the victims of a chit-fund scam. The chit-fund scam is a crime but I believe it is also criminal to use public money to compensate the victims of fraud. I have argued against the use of public funds even in cases involving victims of accidents and crimes such as rape. I wrote the following for Quartz (March 13th, 2013).
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Mahavir Jayanti Greetings

mahavir-jayanti-idol-of-mahavira Mahavir Jayanti namaskar to all sentient beings. According to Jain tradition, Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527 BCE) was the 24th (and the last) tirthankara. “In Jainism, a Tīrthaṅkara is a human being who helps in achieving liberation and enlightenment as an “Arihant” by destroying their soul-constraining karmas, became a role-model and leader for those seeking spiritual guidance.” (Wiki.)
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India Suffers from Bad Governance

They put the nasty in dynasty India is not doomed to be poor due to factors outside its control. Yet India is desperately, depressingly, chronically, and acutely poor. Why is that so and what is missing? I explore this question in this piece which is part 2 of a series I am writing for Part 1 was “All Men are Created Equal but Nations are Not.”
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All Men are Created Equal but Nations are Not

nationsWhy are nations unequal? Apparently a simple question but hard to answer. I am writing a set of columns on that topic with reference to India. Here’s part 1. A slightly different version of this appeared on earlier this month.
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Three Lessons of Development Economics, or Why Utsav Mitra is Mistaken

ecodev101 The first lesson of development economics is that economic policies matter. Even if a country has everything going for it, lack of good policies condemn it to poverty. So it is easy to believe that if only good policies were known to those in power, economic development would necessarily follow. My good friend, the globe-trotting adventurer and consultant to capitalists, Utsav Mitra, brought that lesson to mind in a recent twitter exchange on my timeline. As a student of development, I have written a bit over the years on the matter and Utsav refers to it in a tweet which is embedded below.
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Hauled from the archives: The Three-ring Anti-corruption Circus is in Town

Dumbo is in town
Alright, time to get down to some serious work. The weekend is here and I have places to go, people to meet. And of course I have to get back to reading and writing. So while I do that, here’s one old post hauled from the archives. It’s from August 2011 and titled “The Three-ring Anti-corruption Circus is in Town.

Below the fold I quote a bit from the start of that post to lure the reader into the tent.
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Why a Vote for the AAP is a vote for the Congress

I don’t usually argue with people’s claims about their objectives but once in a while when I see a claim that is absurdly irrational, I cannot but call bullshit. So it was that I (perhaps irrationally) decided to challenge a person’s stated objective. Here’s what @ReclaimBharat’s twitter header says:


I responded. Here is a picture of that twitter exchange.

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The Iron Lady who Fought for Freedom

“Freedom, freedom, freedom . . . Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, A long way from my home,” sang Richie Havens at Woodstock. Lots of people struggle for freedom. What are they seeking freedom from? From other people. We have to remember this: People need to leave other people alone. Do what you will and don’t impose your will on others. That should be the totality of the law.

Below the fold, the text of my recent column at, “The Iron Lady who Fought for Freedom.” But first here’s Richie Havens in 2009 singing that song which he sang in the 1969 music festival held on Yasgur’s farm near Woodstock, NY.

After 40 years, the man still retains his voice. Watch him at Woodstock here.

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