Sabarimala

It may seem odd to begin a piece regarding the on-going struggle surrounding the centuries-old Sabarimala temple in Kerala with the first lines of a book, published relatively recently in 1974 by an American, which deals primarily with the rights of people and what the state can do. But it is actually quite relevant.

The preface in Robert Nozick’s book Anarchy, State and Utopia begins with the simple declaration that —

“Individuals have rights and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights). So strong and far-reaching are these rights that they raise the question of what, if anything, the state and its officials may do. How much room do individual rights leave for the state?

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Webinar on “The Path to Prosperity” Today

Today, Saturday 20th October, Rajesh Jain and I will be hosting a webinar titled “How to Walk the Path to Prosperity”. It starts at 8:30 PM India time (8 AM Pacific, 11 AM Eastern.)

Register here for the event. To join the webinar, click on this zoom link at 8:30 PM India time (8 AM Pacific, 11 AM Eastern.)

Here are the details.  Continue reading

Modi Needs You to Transform India

Here we go again. Now that India’s 2019 general elections are just a few months away, Mr Modi wants you to help him “transform India.”

Here’s an opportunity for India’s best brains to work for PM Modi’s campaign in 2019. 

Take a sabbatical from your current job and work with Nation with NaMo till May 2019.

Dedicate your 8 months to transform India in the next 5 years.

“… work with Nation with NaMo …”  Seriously? Couldn’t find a decent copy editor even?

It’s déjà vu all over again, as the great sage Yogi Berra said.  Continue reading

Curing a disease by intensifying its causes

“War is a judgement that overtakes societies when they have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws governing the universe … Never think that wars are irrational catastrophes: they happen when wrong ways of thinking and living bring about intolerable situations.”
— Dorothy L Sayers.[1]

That quote is from E. F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful [2] where he meditated upon the causes of the bind that humanity finds itself in and indeed is responsible for. He posited that it was lack of wisdom that impels people to ‘cure a disease by intensifying its causes.’ Here’s what he wrote:  Continue reading

What Should the Government Do?

In a comment baransam1 asks, “Should the government fund primary education, fund higher education, fund research in basic sciences?” The answer is “No, no, and no.” Emphatic no’s.

No for the same reason that the government should not be in the business of income and wealth redistribution. It should not be in the business of charity. It should not be in the business of taking care of the indigent, the sick and the victims of accident and natural disasters. The government should not be in the business of religious indoctrination, or indeed indoctrination of any kind. The government should not engage in commercial activities like transportation and communications. It should not run hospitals and hotels, clubs and cafes, factories and farms. It should not run banks and non-banking financial institutions.

The list of prohibitions — the “blacklist”– is too long. It is best to have a “whitelist” of what the government is allowed and required to do, and nothing beyond that.  Why? The answer is one word: violence.  Continue reading

Credit-constraint — the Inability to Borrow

For anyone concerned about the poor and poverty, the first task is to clearly define the words “poor” and “poverty.” Wealth and income are reasonable measures that usually serve in defining a poor person: one who has less than some defined minimum of wealth and/or income. But that definition is not comprehensive. What if a person could borrow the money needed for an investment with a sufficiently high return such that it would be possible to return the money with interest, and still have some left over? Then the person is not poor. Meaning, anyone able to borrow is not poor. Conversely, anyone who is unable to borrow is “credit-constrained” and is comprehensively poor. Continue reading