Money is important. The real economy cannot function without a stable and predictable currency. Money serves as a numéraire, which the wiki defines as “a basic standard by which value is computed . . . the numéraire is one of the functions of money, to serve as a unit of account: to provide a common benchmark relative to which the worth of various goods and services are measured.”
These days, nearly all money is fiat money issued by the central bank of an economy which is controlled (indirectly perhaps) by the government. The quantity, and therefore the “price” of money (which is the interest rate), is controlled by the central bank. Continue reading →
The Center for Civil Society convened a day-long conference on Nov 20th at The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi, to honor the memory of S V Raju. I attended and had the opportunity to meet with many friends and also some people I had heard about but never met before.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men . . .”
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 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 have been a long-time supporter of Shri Narendra Modi. But I am seriously disappointed at his performance as prime minister. Certainly he has done better than his predecessor, Sonia Maino. But she’s an Italian who really did not care for India. Doing better than Sonia Maino is no achievement. I expected better than this from Modi. I think Modi’s greatest achievement so far has been political. He disarmed the Maino mafia. But I fear that there are Maino moles in the Modi management team.
Anyway, here’s a piece I wrote for the New Indian Express where I claim that India is still on the same old policy path. It was published on June 14th. I reproduce the piece here, for the record. Continue reading →
“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.” –George Washington
The importance of the freedom of speech is underestimated by most people.
George Washington stressed the instrumental role of the freedom of speech — as a defense against oppression. But freedom of speech, like the right to be left alone, is also something of value in and of itself, even if there was no possibility of being oppressed.
Human societies are rule-based. Rules not just define human societies but rules also differentiate between societies. Sufficiently large collectives of of people (say 100,000 or more) are indistinguishable in terms of their endowments because we all belong to the same species and we are just random draws from the same gene pool with minor variations. IF that is so, then what’s the origin of the inequality we observe in the wealth of nations? Why is Burundi not as wealthy as Sweden? The answer is that different societies follow different sets of rules, and the outcomes differ. Out of all the rules, norms, customs and traditions of a people, the formalized high-level set of rules is called the constitution.
In the following piece, co-authored with Rajesh Jain, I argue that India needs a new constitution. It was published today in Quartz. Here it is, for the record. Continue reading →