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Monday, September 10, 2012

Interesting readings

Rajdeep Sardesai on the problems of law and order in Bombay. Nothing is more important in the priorities of the State than the police and the courts.

In recent weeks, we're seeing fresh attention on the flaws of the HR processes of government. Shashi Tharoor in the Indian Express on the IFS, and Sundeep Khanna in Mint.

Trampling on the individual in India:
- Sending cartoonist Aseem Trivedi to jail is ridiculous.
- Vijaita Singh in the Indian Express about the government interfering in grants to think tanks, followed by an editorial on this.
- As Robert Kaplan says, underdevelopment is where the police are more dangerous than the criminals. Here's a story about the police in Gurgaon.
- Meghan Davidson Ladly writes in the New York Times about the struggle for freedom that many women in Pakistan are facing. We can't say we're finished with this. What fraction of India faces this level of social backwardness?

N. Sundaresha Subramanian has a great first draft of history, telling the story of Sahara in the Business Standard. This is a great vindication for K. M. Abraham and C. B. Bhave, and a reminder of the importance of the recruitment process in government. Also see great reportage on Firstpost : Sahara will have to sell realty assets to pay off investors by Raman Kirpal; ROC: The dog that did not bark when Sahara came in by R. Jagannathan.

I recently blogged about checks and balances that will keep Indian capitalism safe. I guess I am picking up ideas from the zeitgeist. On related themes, see: The old India is dead. Wake up, netas and business babus by R. Jagannathan on Firstpost; A long way from 1984 by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express and an editorial Behind the curve in the Business Standard.

Many people in India like to invest in gold and in real estate. I would like to remind them that the analytical case for these is weak. Here is some new evidence on gold, and here are some older arguments about real estate.

Sunil S. in Pragati magazine about India's electricity grid problem.

Mobis Philipose in the Mint writes about an intruiging development: a `Intermediaries and Investor Welfare Association (India)' has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court alleging that algorithmic trading is bad. I wonder who is behind this.

On the theme of the transformative impact of google maps, see How Google Builds Its Maps, and What It Means for the Future of Everything by Alexis C. Madrigal.

Sebastian Mallaby has a great response (originally in the Financial Times) to the Apple-Samsung patent violation case. If you're in the US, you need to run, not walk to buy cool Samsung equipment, or buy it when you travel abroad.

The Euro crisis is back from vacation by Adam Davidson, in the New York Times magazine.

If Xerox PARC invented the PC, Google invented the Internet by Cade Metz in Wired magazine.

Why sex could be history by Kira Cochrane in the Guardian, about a new book by Aarathi Prasad.

Some of the biology that we learned in high school is getting overturned.


  1. Its extremely annoying when people like Sashi Tharoorm who know better, make disingenuous arguments. The diplomatic staff comparison is flawed. Chinese economy is 4-5x times India's (GDP) and Brazil's is 50% bigger. The IFS staff numbers are commensurate with those GDP sizes (Tharoor uses population comparisons, which he should know... is the wrong metric). US and UK do have a lot more than the GDP ratios, but they have been developed economies for a long time to be able to afford that many (and its probably not a good idea for them to have that many anyway). The best way for India to have a larger impact globally, would be to solve its issues at home. With that sentiment, I think it makes more sense to have the best people serve here at home instead of outside, where they will be limited by our global GDP footprint (and domestic shortcomings) anyway. This is not to say that the IFS should be neglected or that merit standards should not be improved. But, staff numbers are not as bad as Tharoor makes it look.

  2. great collection of links to read from. thanks for sharing.

    It seems like our govt has a very thin skin and gets offended very soon by some cartoon, book, movie, music, blog etc. But it doesnt seem to have any problem with politicians and their cronies inciting communities to kill each other in broad daylight.

    such misplaced priorities.

  3. just and off beat question. It has been lingering on my mind for a while and have never got an answer which I can truly understand. So if you can write an article or point me to an existing ariticle(s) it would be great.

    The question is : How does a middle class or aam aadmi in developing countries such as Brazil, India , Russia etc get affected by ridiculously low interest rates in West , specifically the US. ? Is there any dependency ? If there is a dependency, I am wondering if ranting against the government ( from inflation perspective) even makes sense since they can do nothing much to prevent it from happening.

    1. "How does a middle class or aam aadmi in developing countries such as Brazil, India , Russia etc get affected by ridiculously low interest rates in West , specifically the US."

      They don't unless they give up monetary authority by pegging exchange rates to the dollar. Or, if they partake in competitive devaluation.


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