India’s NRI (Network Readiness Index)

Global Information Technology Report 2002-2003 – Readiness for the Networked World

The Global Information Technology Report is the most comprehensive assessment of “networked readiness” — how prepared an economy is to capture the benefits of technology to promote economic growth and productivity. As the world experiences an economic slowdown, the Report highlights that the use and application of information and communication technologies (ICT) remain among the most powerful engines of growth. This year’s Report benchmarks the performance and monitors progress in networked readiness of 82 countries.

Finland ranks numero uno in the NRI — Networked Readiness Index — followed by the US. India is somewhere in the middle (number 37th of the 82 countries listed) because “of its immense pool of trained IT manpower”. China is ranked 43rd. This came as a bit of a (pleasant) surprise to me.

Dining on Weapons

A report in the online edition of India Today, INDO-US RELATIONS HIGH ON TECH starts off imaginatively with

Imagine a commercial satellite blasting off from the Sriharikota Space Centre with NASA-ISRO painted on the launch vehicle. Or building modern weapons using Indian software and US technology. It is the kind of vision Indian and US strategists dine on.

While the Indian and US strategists dine on the mouth-watering prospect of building modern weapons, the poor in India get to dine on nothing. To a large extent, chronic hunger is a consequence of the strategic dining that takes place all over the world. To quote from my article Continue reading “Dining on Weapons”

Two stories about development


FOR A HUMAN CHARACTER to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.

Thus begins one of the most inspiring stories that I treasure. It is by Jean Giono and the story is called The Man who Planted Trees. It is a short story and there is a story about the story itself which I will go into another day. I have yet to meet someone who did not find it inspirational. The story concludes thus:

I am convinced that, in spite of everything, humanity is admirable. But when I compute the unfailing greatness of spirit and the tenacity of benevolence that it must have taken to achieve this result, I am taken with an immense respect for that old and unlearned peasant who was able to complete a work worthy of God.

Stories teach us a lot provided we take the trouble to think about what they mean. I like stories that teach a deep lesson — a lesson that has wide applicability. One such story I came across in Douglas Adam’s book Last Chance to See and the story is called Sifting Through the Embers.
From areas such environmental degradation to economic development to personal striving — that story has something important to say. I will not give the punch line away right now. For now, I hope you enjoy the two stories.

ICT and Development (Part 2)

Rambling on about transaction costs from the last post.

Transaction costs are all over the place. When I travel to talk with someone, the cost of the travel in terms of time and money is the transaction cost of the talk. I could use the phone to have a talk. That reduces the transaction cost of having the talk. Telephones are a lower cost substitute for transportation in this case. This is one way that information and communications technologies reduce transaction costs. It is cheaper to move electrons than to move molecules.
Continue reading “ICT and Development (Part 2)”

It is transaction costs all the way

In my last post (Transaction Costs — Part 1) I claimed that the fundamental role of ICT is reduction of transaction costs. What, you may ask, is transaction costs? The answer is this: pretty much everything is transaction costs, with a little bit of physical stuff thrown in.
Continue reading “It is transaction costs all the way”

Transaction Costs — (Part 1)

It is worth pondering this question: What exactly is the role of ICT in any economy?

This week, I would like to address myself to that question in detail. The answer can be succinctly stated as: It reduces transaction costs. It will take a pretty long time to explore that answer. But first a few personal experiences to set the stage would be appropriate.
Continue reading “Transaction Costs — (Part 1)”

Outsourcing and Comparative Advantage

Are you as tired of reading the next article on the out-sourcing of white-collar jobs from the US to India as I am? If not, here is one by Katharine Mieszkowski in Salon.com called “Gone in the blink of an eye”.

A couple of UC Berkeley economists, Ashok Bardhan and Cynthia Kroll, estimate that 14 million white-collar jobs are at risk of being outsourced, or about 11 percent of the total, by 2015.
Continue reading “Outsourcing and Comparative Advantage”