Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid — The US edition

From The Straight Dope, a great piece of satire: Fifty years later, does America need a stupider motto?

Seriously though, the US is showing signs of serious trouble. Huckabee is raving lunatic, as Pharyngula reports.

PS: My favorite bit in that satire bit is “… and Mexicans continue to occur.” ROTFL with the idea of Mexicans occurring like some periodic drought or infestation.

Cargo for Pakistan

I have previously observed here that India has what I call a “cargo cult democracy.” In India’s neighborhood that is not a distinction. The entire Indian subcontinent suffers from that malady. The short version is that around here democracy as practiced is a simulation, a facsimile that should not be confused with the real thing that has something to do with informed choice based on differing perceptions of priorities that matter in the larger scheme of things.

Informed choice is not a matter that can be delegated to people who are not only not informed but for the most part cannot be informed even if you wanted to because the basic channels for information transmission are denied to them. Most of the electorate is illiterate to begin with and to add insult to injury, meaningful debate concerning the issues is entirely non-existent in the mass media. In the absence of substantial policy choices, it all boils down to names and faces. In every nook and cranny of the country, one comes face to face with huge billboards with the faces of people with names—never mind what they represent or what their accomplishments are.
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Quo Vadis, Pakistan

Pakistan matters critically to India. One could dismiss it as a failed tin-pot dictatorship and is of little consequence with respect to India’s development and economic growth. But it is just because it is a tin-pot dictatorship that it matters. Even more precisely, it has been made into a tin-pot dictatorship so that it can serve as a lever to indirectly control India. I deliberately say “made” because it is a tool used by the West and therefore fashioned by and kept in “good” shape to serve the purpose. Principally, it is the US which wields Pakistan most adroitly.

One cannot escape the fact that the US is the world’s reigning hegemon. Nothing much of any significance happens around the world is not in some way affected by what the US does. No large nation or a confederation of nations is immune from US influence to some extent, whether it be India, China, or the EU. But when it comes to small impoverished dependent nations, the US is the ultimate dispenser of their destinies. Pakistan is what the US wants it to be, and Pakistan does what the US wants it to do.
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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.
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Thomas Jefferson Class Pictures

During my visit to the campuses of the Thomas Jefferson Institute school at Queretaro and Mexico city, I was asked to address the students. Talk? Me? Of course, I can talk to classes. Been doing that for a while and I must say that I miss teaching. So I am given a pretty hectic schedule of 15 classes. They said that it was up to me how much time I actually spent in each class. I guessed I would talk to them for about 20 minutes or so. As it happened, in each class I took the entire 50 minutes.
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In Mexico

For the past few days, I have been in Mexico. On Monday, on my way from Mexico city to Queretaro, I took a detour and visited the pyramids at Teotihuacan (wiki). I uploaded a few of the pictures of the pyramids.

Yesterday I spent time visiting the school Instituto Thomas Jefferson’s Queretaro campus and a little tour of the city center during the day. Later in the evening, I spoke at a meeting with parents, teachers, and some government officials. The title of my talk was “Education in a Digital Age.” (Will upload the presentation later over here.) The talk was live-cast to the other two campuses of the school in Mexico city and Guadalajara. As half the audience did not follow English, the talk was simultaneously interpreted into Spanish. Pictures of Queretaro and ITJ are here. (Note the announcement poster on the first picture? 🙂 )

Innovation and Entrepreneurship at XIMB

“Be Indian, fly Indian” could have been the subliminal message that they wanted to convey when they (whoever they are) decided that it would be good to change the name of the airline to “Indian” from “Indian Airlines.” As I have pondered that change of name before on this blog, I will move on. I only mention this because yesterday I was flying Indian to get from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. I am attending the “International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation” at the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.
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Panjim, Goa

It is interesting to learn that Goa tops the list of favorite places not just for your average European tourist but also the Al Qaeda. Israel issued a warning to its citizens.

“In light of terrorist threats by Al Qaeda in India, a concrete threat now exists specifically for the Indian state of Goa, which hosts many tourists, among them Israelis, during late December and over the civil New Year,” the National Security Council Counter Terrorism Headquarters has said.

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A Man of Practical Genius

Visiting Singapore is both an exhilarating and a depressing experience for me. To observe the transformation of a mosquito-infested swamp full of poor people into a vibrant developed nation of prosperous people in a brief span of 40 years is exhilarating. Comparing Singapore to India from an Indian’s perspective is depressing: how did we–given all the advantages we had in 1950 compared to Singapore–squander it all and end up being a poor misgoverned over-populated country? That is the depressing bit.
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