Our Greatest Weapon

Used to be that might was determined by the size of your muscles and how many men you could command to do your bidding. Time was when you had to club someone over the head to get them to submit to you. Things have changed and with it has changed what determines might. The world has changed with each revolution. The agricultural revolution privileged foresight over just plain sight. The industrial revolution gave power to those who had knowledge of science and technology over those that didn’t. The post-industrial information age has once again redefined the rules. Continue reading “Our Greatest Weapon”

India: A Case of Bad Governance

In today’s Business Standard, Pranab Bardhan in his article “India — A case of bad governance“, makes a number of very important points.
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India needs a New Set of Rules, not Rulers

“we should invite britishers again to manage our country step by step. first Bihar & UP last kerala. like they developed Hong kong.

That’s a direct quote of a comment from a reader, Jitendra, on a rediff.com article, “India’s ‘real’ Poverty“. Don’t bother reading that rather pointless article — it goes into details of how the poverty line should be defined and what the level of real poverty is in India — but let’s ponder that non sequitur quoted above. Continue reading “India needs a New Set of Rules, not Rulers”

A Digression on Corruption in Six Acts

ACT 1: A Course on Development

This summer for teaching an undergraduate course on economic development (Econ171) at Berkeley, I naturally considered the major factors that affect — and effect — economic growth and development of an economy. The major headings included growth models, energy, infrastructure, urbanization, education, agriculture, and one other topic which I will come to presently. It should come as no surprise that the government of India — being one that professes a sincere commitment to economic growth and development — actively intervenes in all of those areas. There are government departments and ministries at the central and state levels. Continue reading “A Digression on Corruption in Six Acts”

Of Trucks and Roads and Corruption

Let me tell you a story. It’s a vignette of what I consider to be important although it may appear to be rather trivial. Perhaps its apparent triviality is what should astonish us. But allow me to first recount a conversation I had the last week.
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The View from the End of the World

India, like all other countries of the world, is embedded in the larger context of the world. Naturally therefore India’s fortunes and the prospects for its development are circumscribed by the world’s prospects. Religion — especially the monotheistic ones — are arguably one of the most powerful of the forces that shape the human world. One cannot hope to study economic growth and development without understanding how religion is impacting the world at large. One fact is undeniable: when societies undergo severe stress, they fracture along predictable lines. The most prominent of these fault-lines is religion — and I stress once again, that monotheism is at the heart of all major religious strife. That is so because monotheism does not, by its very constitution, suffer non-believers to exist or even tolerate a plurality of views. The danger to the continued existence of human civilization on earth may proximately arise from such matters as doomsday nuclear warfare but the ultimate cause can definitely be traced to anti-humanistic monotheistic religious dogma.
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Internet and Higher Education

A BusinessWeek article of 14th September, “Next: An Internet Revolution in Higher Education,” makes the case that the way higher education is done will be changed by the internet revolution. This is not the most earthshaking bit of news you may have heard since it is fairly obvious that nearly everything has been affected by the internet and in the future, every aspect of human society will be qualitatively different as a consequence of the ease with which information is recorded, stored, transmitted, searched, and retrieved.
Continue reading “Internet and Higher Education”

Learning to eat gruel

The title of this post is borrowed from an article by Arun Shourie in today’s Indian Express, “Conduct above all.” In it Shourie recounts a story told about an ancestor of mine, a fellow called Diogenes. Also known as Diogenes of Sinope, he was a cynic. Here’s that story:
Continue reading “Learning to eat gruel”