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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Interesting readings

Since most of us in India can talk about little else other than corruption, do read this article by Nauro F. Campos and Ralitza Dimova on voxEU which is an interesting meta-analysis about papers which analyse the impact of corruption on growth. I have long heard about meta-analyses, but this one made me sit up and notice.

Anand Giridharadas in the New York Times on Arthur Bunder Road in Bombay.

Roger Bate and Tom Woods, in The American, point to a new dimension in India's crisis of fake medicines.

I I Sc will now use the IIT JEE as their entrance examination for the new Bachelor in Science course. Given that the IIT JEE is a well managed and difficult examination, it would make sense to have more and more schools plugging into it in order to filter their intake. But as you move away from the top .01% of the distribution, the statistical precision of the score on a very difficult exam as a measure of student capability tends to decline. The managers of the IIT JEE will need to shift towards adaptive testing, where the questions are dynamically modified based on student characteristics, in order to retain efficiency across the distribution. Once this is done, the IIT JEE would be useful for sifting through millions of students, and exert a beneficial effect of all of them facing a more demanding high-stakes examination.

Shobhana Subramanian in the Financial Express on C. B. Bhave.

A fascinating article by Nicolai Ourussoff in the New York Times about the attempt to reinvent Saudi Arabia.

Sadness about Europe by Orhan Pamuk in the New York Review of Books, and a tragic perspective on Istanbul by Claire Berlinski in City Journal.

A dystopian future for the world: a story of ageing and depopulation from Amakusa in Japan.

Liu Xiaobo's beautiful acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Peace. A lot of countries of the world, including India, have much to do in order to achieve freedom.


Tourism in Afghanistan by Damon Tabor.

Steven Johnson in the Financial Times on the future of linking to information sources on the web.

With 75% of world GDP in service, trade liberalisation in agriculture or manufacturing is not that important. The really big story is trade liberalisation in services, and there the picture is quite bad. Read this article on voxEU by Bernard Hoekman and Aaditya Matoo on how to obtain progress.

Understanding the rise in currency turnover by Michael R. King and Dagfinn Rime on voxEU.

Anders Aslund, on Project Syndicate, on the remarkable story of the global crisis as it played out in East Europe. Also see this story in The Economist on the same subject, which is a bit less optimistic. The recovery in East Europe matters for recovery in Europe and elsewhere. It also illuminates our thinking on some of the grand policy questions.

David Alexander points out how Australia is the role model for the world.

Barry Eichengreen, Daniel Gros and Ila Patnaik on the resolution of Europe's problems.

Devin Friedman in GQ on the strange world of social networking.


  1. Re JEE, I agree that the exam is too tough to be discriminating enough below say a 30% score. The solution I think is not another test or adaptive testing (which would be great but is not practical today). The solution imo is to make the XII board exams a little more discriminating. The exam is too easy and rewards rote learning. If the exam was better, it would solve two problems. You wouldn't need yet another entrance exam. And importantly, kids would need to attend classes, do their homework, teachers would have to teach etc. etc. - the regular things you expect from a school instead of this completely whacked out system of today

  2. Hello Ajay,

    Would you please go over your question of India getting stuck in the middle-income trap? You brought it up in August and at that time it seemed like a mild possibility. But now that all the scams have laid bare the problems in every branch of the government and also the private sector, what do you think?

    I personally feel that this is the year when India jumped the shark and showed that it is not capable of fixing its problems.


  3. Basab,

    Why not do away with the class XII exams? I can't figure out what purpose they serve today. With consolidation of entrance exams in order to have a few of them (ideally just one), and, by widening their scope using adaptive methods, they should be all that one needs to transition into the undergrad system.

    The higher secondary system should be judged on "placement" of their students into the undergrad system. That should improve goals and incentives at the higher secondary level.

    Why shift to entrance exams instead of improving class XII exams? Because the determination of what and how to test should lie with the undergrad college system as opposed to the higher secondary system, which does not have any incentive to improve its testing of outgoing students. It should be the undergrad system dictating to the higher secondary system what they need. That's the best way to make the higher secondary system accountable in preparing students for undergrad.

  4. One could perhaps also think of a tiered system. A basic qualifier/screener 6 months to 1 year prior. It might help students firm up their inclinations and focus.

  5. The link to the Australian policy magazine is broken. I would suggest using the following:

  6. Would you care to do a post on Security Transaction Tax? Especially on the Expiry day, they seem to be charging a fortune on a transaction on which you might not get even a penny.


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