Moving Mountains

Golf, not Chess

Economic growth in a sense, and to a much larger extent economic development, is more akin to a game of golf than a game of chess. In golf, the opponent’s moves matter very little; you may as well play by yourself and later compare scores if needed. In chess, your move depends on how your opponent has moved and how he is likely to respond to your move. In other words, chess is a strategic game while golf is not. All this is very broadly speaking, naturally. I don’t mean to imply that there are no dependencies among economies as they grow; what I mean is that, especially for a large economy like India, how much it produces and how determines how materially prosperous it is and is independent of how other economies are growing. For strictly benchmarking purposes, one can glance over at the neighbors. And if one is smart, one can learn from the experiences of those neighbors. Still, when it comes to economic growth, it is largely the case that you are playing against yourself.

Here I want to glance at India’s large northern neighbor and recently a strategic competitor in the fiercely competitive game for control of scarce resources. China has been moving mountains — quite literally as you will soon note — for quite a few years for growing its economy. From an Indian perspective, it is a chilling reminder that there are no shortcuts to economic growth and that it takes something special in terms of will and perseverance to overcome the ill-effects of flawed economic policies and failed leadership. It is also a story of hope and the indomitable human spirit, a story of almost superhuman striving by mere mortals.
Continue reading

Dr Frankenstein, I presume

The makers of monsters and their fates are inextricably tied, both in fiction and in real life. Dr Frankenstein’s monster. Dr Faustus. Mrs Gandhi, the elder and Sant Bhindranwale. The CIA and Osama bin Laden. The CIA and the Taleban. Add your own favorite examples.

Dr MM Singh. VP Singh. The monsters created for gaining political power by legislating divisions of the country along caste and religious lines are beginning to have a life of their own.

Soon to be released, the sequel to the hit drama, “August 1947: The First Cut.” New updated imported Gandhi. Bigger bombs. In production, “August 2017: The Final Cut.” Totally new cast, with hundreds of specially recognized castes. Supporting mega roles by ISI in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Islamic terrorists and RDX will blow you away. You can’t miss it. You won’t be able to.

India, the Lamb State

Don’t know much about history. Thanks to the government control of education, we are not told inconvenient truths. Fortunately, in this day of free information flow, one is slowly getting wise. I think it is just a matter of time before Indians figure out the truth. I find it bitter irony that India’s national motto is “Satyameva Jayate” — Truth Alone Prevails — and the powers that be do all they can to delay the victory of truth.

Continue reading

Thundering Airlines

The mother of all thunderstorms is roaring outside the window as I write this from Kolkata. I got here last night from Pune after a brief stop-over in Mumbai.

The sky was ominously dark this morning and now it is pouring so hard that visibility is reduced to less than 100 feet. The thunder and lightening is almost continuous. There is something deep inside which rejoices in beholding the awesome power of nature. There must be something atavistic in this reaction, a genetically programmed response to life-giving rain.
Continue reading

Indian Reservations

George Bernard Shaw with characteristic cynicism noted that a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. Regardless of their specific stripes, all Indian governments, because they are “democratically” elected, naturally solve the problem of identifying the Peters and the Pauls by a numbers game: Pauls must outnumber the Peters. So it should come as no surprise that yet another idiotic scheme is hatched by the party in power to gain the support of a large underclass by promising them something that will not in any substantial way be of any use to them but gives the appearance of providing relief. Continue reading

Fragments – 5

BBC reports that the US has done a U-turn and is not opposed to the Iran-India LNG pipeline through Pakistan. I suppose that the US has finally figured out that the pipeline would make India vulnerable to even more Pakistani blackmail and all in all, it would be a bonus for the US. Normally the US puts the screws on India by merely arming Pakistan to the teeth. This time the dumb Indians are obliging the US by voluntarily bending over for Pakistan with no help from the US.

The Iran Pipe-bomb is on its way.

If you pay for the cost of the instrument that will be used to screw you over, you might be a third world country.

The Holy Land of Nehru

Most regular readers of this blog figure out soon enough that when it comes to the question of India’s ills and its causes, I refer to Jawaharlal Nehru. Like all roads eventually leading to Rome, all my explanations into what India is suffering from and why lead to Nehru, the Nabob of Cluelessness, at some point. I look around the country and marvel at how much damage has been caused by one single individual. It will take centuries to clean up and the cost in terms of lives lived in abject poverty and misery will amount in the billions. According to estimates, fully 700 million people in India are below the poverty line defined by international standards which is approximately less than $2 a day. Nehru and his descendants — both direct (Indira Gandhi and her progeny) and intellectual (the communists) — are responsible.
Continue reading

An NRI MP from Andhra Pradesh

Along the lines of my earlier post on new political parties, here is another item from the news related to Indian politics regarding an NRI member of the Indian parliament from the Toronto Star. (Hat tip: Reuben Abraham.)

The man, Madhu Yaskhi, moonlights as an MP for the Congress Party and his day job is being an immigration lawyer in Manhattan.
Continue reading

Lee Kuan Yew on India — Part 4

[Continued from Part 3.]

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe, said Abe Lincoln. Astonishing how much profoundly practical wisdom is packaged into that simple declaration. Time spent in sharpening the tool is time well-spent; so is time spent in thinking through a problem and thoroughly understanding the problem before rushing off to solve it. And in most cases, since there is almost nothing new under the sun, there are already known solutions to many problem. So the most efficient method to solve a problem is to first seek the solution that someone may have figured out already.
Continue reading