The Habit of Being Honest

A few days ago, a Pakistani singer by the name of Rahat was caught smuggling around $130,000 out of India. It does not matter what the prescribed penalties are for such an act but the interior minister of Pakistan called up the Home Minister of India, P. Chidambaram and thanked him for facilitating Rahat’s release. Thanks to Mr Chidambaram’s intervention in the matter, it all ended well for the singer. But not for the country.
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Of Human Savagery and Human Joy

Christopher Hitchens once wrote “I think human civilisation only begins when people separate religion from the state. Policing that frontier, making sure of it, is a huge thing, culturally and politically. You realise that any attempt to cross it is poisonous – in the sense of lethal.” I am reminded of that while reading yet another account of human savagery in a land which was based on a lethal religious dogma. But be warned that this is rated R for violence. If you don’t have a strong stomach, skip the text and just go to the embedded videos.
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Isn’t China Socialist? What about Motivations?

My apologies for not keeping in touch. I am afraid that this dry spell on my blog is going to continue for a couple of weeks more. I am on a road trip and the whole of the coming week I will be on the road to Yellowstone National Park. So I thought I would reply to a few recent comments on this blog.
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The Unbearably Sad Reality of India

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reported how the US is pressuring India to (what effectively is) surrender its interests to Pakistan’s whims. “U.S. Aims to Ease India-Pakistan Tension“. Why? Because Pakistan presented to the US administration “a litany of accusations against the Indian government,” and suggested “the U.S. intercede on Pakistan’s behalf.” Which the US is in essence doing. Continue reading

The Numbers in Pictures

Even after living more than half my adult life in the US, I am constantly amazed by the profligacy in consumption of people in the US. What is even more remarkable is how the ultra-consumption is not limited to native born Americans; many fresh off the boat immigrants quickly take up the habit of mindless waste.

I have arrived at a generalization: Americans are extremely efficient in production and (perhaps as a consequence) are extremely inefficient in consumption. They can afford to be wasteful because they are rich. Conversely, I believe that people that are inefficient in production (in other words, poor) are forced to be efficient in consumption.
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A Place where Indians Thrive

Hi all from JP’s place.

No sooner do I arrive in Edison, NJ that the NY Times calls it a place where Indians (now New Jerseyans) thrive. [Hat tip: Maria]

Oak Tree Road [in Edison, NJ], which runs through this sprawling town of 100,000 people and into neighboring Woodbridge Township, may be America’s liveliest Little India, with 400 Indian businesses that attract Indian immigrants from across the region. But the impact is more than just commercial. Indians make up from 20 to 25 percent of the population, and they have spearheaded the transformation of Edison — an overwhelmingly blue-collar and middle-class white community a generation ago — into a town with a decidedly Asian flavor.

Edison is next door to New Brunswick where my old alma mater Rutgers is located. On Saturday afternoon I drove briefly through Rutgers. Those were the days my friend, we thought would never end . . .

The weather is cold and rainy.

So that’s the story. I am alive though not totally well. I got a bad stomach ailment and was laid up most of Sunday and today. I hope to get well enough to travel to Chicago tomorrow. More later.

Debunking Myths about China and India

Pranab Bardhan, a professor of mine at UC Berkeley, whom we have met before here (see Crouching Tiger, Lumbering Elephant, and Pranab Bardhan on the Indian Economy, for instance) has an excellent article in the Boston Review titled “What Makes a Miracle: Some myths about the Rise of China and India.” (Hat tip: Yuvaraj Galada.)

He states the standard view explaining the rapid growth of the two countries:

What explains this strikingly rapid growth? The answer that continues to dominate public discussion in the United States runs along the following lines: decades of socialist controls and regulations stifled enterprise in India and China and led them to a dead end. A mix of market reforms and global integration finally unleashed their entrepreneurial energies. As these giants shook off their “socialist slumber,” they entered the “flattened” playing field of global capitalism. The result has been high economic growth in both countries and correspondingly large declines in poverty.

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