Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interesting readings

One cool idea for improving the Indian police : video monitoring.

We always knew that gender-segregation of society, as is practised in most of traditional India, is deeply damaging. Writing in the New York Times, Adam Grant shows new insights on why men need women.

Are India's policy rates too low? by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha in Mint.

Atul Gawande in the New Yorker at his best: he has deep insights into how new ideas diffuse. In India, with GDP doubling every decade, we need for new ideas to come into every organisation at a hectic pace. The organisations which are more closed have become obsolete and have failed.

A public interest litigation to be imagined by Somasekhar Sundaresan in the Business Standard. Also see this post where I have an interesting comparison against the election commission.

The recent war on rupee depreciation has inflicted enormous damage. Read Devangshu Datta in the Business Standard, and Tamal Bandhyopadhyay in Mint and Sugata Ghosh in the Economic Times.

The Indian State suffers from basic blunders in the field of health: Too much spending on private goods and not enough spending on public goods. Gardiner Harris has a fascinating story in the New York Times about the detective stories in Indian epidemiology which require State attention. These are the public goods in the field of health.

Mobis Philipose on problems faced by exchanges.

Remya Nair reports on RBI and NBFCs. This should be seen in the context of the FSLRC recommendation on shifting NBFC regulation out of RBI.

When evil was a social system by Christopher Caldwell, in the New Republic.

While we have long heard skeptical views while China thundered ahead with high GDP growth, the problems today seem to be a bit worse than usual. See William Pesek, Paul Krugman and Brad Plumer interviewing Patrick Chovanec. In some sense, the market has known this for a long time. Over the last decade, Nifty has generated returns of 291% while the Dow Jones Shanghai Index gave only 62.6% despite faster Chinese GDP growth.

Take a glimpse into the life of Albert O. Hirschman and Christine Granville. They don't make people like this anymore.


  1. Love 'Interesting Readings' - thanks!

  2. About "gender-segregation of society", I know from personal experience that the all-girls schools and colleges cause lots of problems for the girls growing up as they do not learn how to interact and judge men. Same for all boys schools, but the original article and the comment here was more about the other direction of how women are useful to men, which is not the right way to put it (perhaps, that wasn't the intention). But, worth stressing that it works both ways.

  3. You are either wrong or just mistaken in conflating stock market returns with economic growth.

    "In a recent survey Jain and Kranson's ‘The Myth of GDP and Stock Market Returns’ noted: ‘The data shows clearly that, over long periods and when adjusted for inflation, stock market returns and GDP per capital growth are negatively correlated.’"

    For a more detailed layman-level discussion, please check here:

    I feel that a lot of people lazily invest in the stock market and property in India because investing in productive firms is fraught with risk not only to the economic investment but also to one's security and life. One ends up opening up to the risk of outright forfeiture and even jail time before one's innocence is proven in the court of law after many years. It's just too much risk for paltry returns. It's easier to "invest" in the stock market (where the number of large players are minimal to begin with) or even better the property market.

  4. On the health sector and public goods issue, I was wondering about the recent brouhaha about Sen, Bhagwati, etc. Not necessarily about the main issues in that exchange. But, it seems that Sen has written about state capacity, etc. What I'm unable to figure out is if he is saying the same thing as you, when you talk about increasing state capacity in public goods, or is he aligned more with the development economists and social welfare folks who are going to be inclined towards wrong-headed measures like FSB, etc. I guess I'm not sure where the line is between the old, socialist intelligentsia and the new technocratic elite which you may represent. Or, is Sen reinventing himself out of his outmoded social welfare background.

    Or, perhaps, I should just ask if you have anything to say about Sen and Dreze's key observations and suggestions. I think I can guess where you would stand on Bhagwati.


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