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
I 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.)
@atanudey How do Indians do in the US Math Olympiads? Are they less, more or equally important to Spelling Bees? Just asking!
— speaksanskrit (@sanatanabhasha) July 24, 2016
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
One man had tried to steer Turkey away from that fate: and had indeed succeeded to some extent. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881 – 1938), a Turkish army officer and revolutionist statesman who was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. He wanted Turkey to be a secular state, and naturally so since he was irreligious. But now Turkey is regressing into an Islamic state and will probably become a failed state in the decades ahead. That’s a real pity.
Here are a couple of quotes attributed to Kemal Ataturk. Source: Wikiquotes.
Wikileaks.org has set a cat among the pigeons. Or you may say it has upset the (rotten) apple cart with what it calls its “Hillary Leaks Series.” Follow the @wikileaks twitter account to get interesting bits. However if you are a real political junkie, you can search through the entire collection of “19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee.”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a sage. Politicians are generally vile, myopic, self-serving, stupid, vacuous windbags. That Singapore had a Confucian sage for its first prime minister is amazing. Too bad Singapore is a small country. Imagine if LKY had been the first prime minister of India. India’s economy today would probably have been about 10 times that of China, instead of being 1/5th that it is today. Continue reading
The good life has to be a happy life. I am much in favor of Bertrand Russell’s view on the good life: “The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.” The good life also has to be the successful life. But what is a successful life? The definition must vary from person to person. I like the simplicity of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s operational definition: Continue reading
I like this picture I found on tumblr. There’s something satisfying about it. I think it has to do with what’s happening: the sparrow must feel contentment. (Hover over image.)
Anyhow, it’s time for this month’s AMA. What’s on your mind?
I am not a fan of the Modi government’s “Make in India” advertising drive. My view is certainly unpopular. I think that advertising cannot (and must not) replace real changes in policies that could make India attractive to domestic and foreign manufacturers. As it happens, the prevailing sentiment, even among many domestic manufacturers, is that India is really a very hard place to make things. Which partly explains why so much of what’s consumed in India is made in China. So trying to woo foreign manufacturers through advertising slogans is pointless.
I ended the previous bit of this essay with these questions: First, why is it that central planning appears to work in familial situations and in firms but not in economies? Second, does planning really work for firms and corporations? Finally, if it is indeed true that centralized planning does not work at the economy level, why do petty despots (like Nehru) go for it despite the ruin it causes?
I will address the first two questions here and the third question in the next part.
Let’s see why planning works in families. The parents are emotionally motivated to do what’s best for the family and are best placed to plan for the family simply because they care. They know the preferences of family members, know the means available, the tradeoffs involved, and so on. The information and computing power required to get to an approximate solution to meet the objectives are well within their cognitive capacity. Though not trivial, planning for a family is a manageable task.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”