Three Lessons of Development Economics, or Why Utsav Mitra is Mistaken

ecodev101 The first lesson of development economics is that economic policies matter. Even if a country has everything going for it, lack of good policies condemn it to poverty. So it is easy to believe that if only good policies were known to those in power, economic development would necessarily follow. My good friend, the globe-trotting adventurer and consultant to capitalists, Utsav Mitra, brought that lesson to mind in a recent twitter exchange on my timeline. As a student of development, I have written a bit over the years on the matter and Utsav refers to it in a tweet which is embedded below.
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MediaCrooks: Spuriousity Killed the Katju

If you have not been reading Media Crooks, you have been missing one of the sanest, most incisive commentator on Indian current affairs you could ever find anywhere — mainstream media, social media, off-line, online, wherever. I am an unabashed admirer of Media Crooks. I am a fan.

Media Crooks sets the gold standard that very few observers are capable of achieving. Take his expert fisking today (link provided below) of Mr Katju, an ex-judge of the supreme court of India who writes a lot of politically motivated stuff and is often in the media spotlight. Katju deserves to be taken to the cleaners and MC does it with aplomb and ruthless precision.
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SOPA, PIPA, and Indian Censorship

Sometimes looking at the way the government does things one wonders whether the lunatics are running the loony bin. But perhaps the truth is not funny at all, and more horrifying: the people running the country are not crazy but rather they are terrifyingly smart and know exactly what they are doing and why. Their game involves controlling the masses through lies and misdirection.
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Yes, India is a Democracy

But that’s too generic a description. Besides being too general a description, democracy is hardly a comprehensive description of the Indian government. Surely, the democracy found in say Switzerland is quite different from what’s in India. We need better descriptors of Indian governance. Here’s a partial list, offered in the hope that you will add your own favorite.
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India’s Current Leadership

Observing what’s going on in India these days, I am filled with loathing and fear. What kind of monsters occupy India’s highest public offices! I stand with H. L. Mencken when he wrote, “It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.” It appears that the primary requirements for holding political power in India are a lack of common sense, common honesty and common decency.

Manmohan Singh is a Seriously Despicably Dishonest Spineless Toady Who Will Pay for his Crimes Against India

Madhu Kishwar writing in says, “I fail to understand why almost every commentator, every TV anchor, every editorial writer feels compelled to pay ritual obeisance to the “personal honesty and integrity” of Dr Manmohan Singh.” I note that Madhu qualifies the statement with “almost every.” As a blogger, I have been insisting that the appointed prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh is despicably dishonest man, and that he will be remembered for his venality. That he is getting a free pass right now can only be because Indians are not the most clued in people in the world and it takes a few generations for the truth to dawn on the country. But eventually, as the Indian motto goes, satyam eva jayate.
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The BJP Must Get its Act Together

It is widely rumored that India is a vibrant democracy but one wonders if the rumors are wild exaggerations with little bearing to reality. I could be wrong but doesn’t the idea of a democracy include having an effective opposition to the ruling party? Or is it still a democracy if it is a one-party rule which does whatever suits its narrow interests because there is no opposition to provide the checks and balances that are needed to assure that the ruling party does not use its rule to enrich itself at the cost of the national interest? In a sense, one cannot entirely blame the staggering misgovernance of the Antonia Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi, led UPA — it is partly a consequence of the utter failure of the BJP to provide a suitable opposition to the misrule of the UPA.
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