Atanu Dey On India's Development

May 19, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Ministry of Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy

Government bureaucrats can hardly be accused of being the sharpest knives in the drawer. I have met many of them and have been uniformly underwhelmed by their understanding of the subject that they are charged with governing. Here’s an example. Most of us get by with using the words “power” and “energy” interchangeably in everyday speech. But I have met poorly educated engineers (around 80 percent of Indian engineers) who couldn’t precisely distinguish the two. They are anything but interchangeable. Although I cannot be sure, I am willing to bet that the bureaucrats and politicians in the ministry that deals with energy — one of the most critically important inputs in any economy — don’t know the distinction between energy and power.
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May 18, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Prefer a Functioning Economy

I would rather be the average person who lives in a functioning economy, than be the average person who lives in a “democracy” ruled by perhaps well-meaning but certainly intellectually challenged morons who make it impossible for people to adequately feed and educate their children.

From “Was Nehru a Dictator?

May 18, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Political Discrimination is Socially Harmful

Justice as Individual Fairness

Any conception of justice is about the relationship between the members of a society living in cooperative arrangements for the benefit of all members. For any society that is presumed to consist of free and equal persons, the necessary conditions for ensuring justice are equal personal and political liberties, and equal opportunities. Equality before the law is fair. That is, justice is about fairness, as the great political theorist John Rawls argued. He conceives of society “as a fair system of cooperation over time, from one generation to the next.”
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May 17, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Markets & Competition

Both personally and professionally I love markets. As an economist, I marvel at what the market can do. As a consumer, I am grateful for what it brings to life. It is one of the most significant inventions of humanity. Although it is an old idea, it makes the modern world possible. It is the great coordinating mechanism that creates order without orders, or “spontaneous order.” Markets enable cooperation between strangers, each of whom is motivated by self-interest (which is not the same as selfish interest) but is a necessary part of an emergent order that, in the words of Adam Ferguson, “is the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.” Markets enable cooperation as mentioned before but their power is a consequence of competition among market participants. Let me tell you a few simple stories.
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May 13, 2015
by Atanu Dey
4 Comments

Universal Literacy

It stands to reason that compared to the poor, rich people educate their children more. That’s because they have more wealth and can spend more on education. Rich countries therefore have a more educated population compared to the poor, which naturally implies that their populations are more literate. But since at some time in the past every currently rich and literate country was poor and illiterate, it’s interesting to ask which came first — the literacy or the wealth.
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May 5, 2015
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

What Comes Before

Don’t you like the new header images? In any case, there it is. Now that the blog has a new cap, it is time to write a new post. So I was thinking about development in general. After all that’s the idea, isn’t it? The idea I was turning over in my mind is this: what comes before development?
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May 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Buddha Purnima Greetings

It was Buddha Purnima yesterday. I was driving to get some dinner last evening around 8 PM and saw the beautiful full moon racing over the treeline. It didn’t realize it then that it was Buddha Jayanti. I realized it this morning but I am totally unprepared to write a new post. Here’s a recycled post from 2011.
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May 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion

Free speech has always been under attack. Throughout history, there have always been people who claim to know the truth and to possess the right to silence others who hold contrary views. So also throughout history, there have been defenders of free speech. The great English political theorist and moral philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a formidable force in defending the freedom of speech. He devoted the second chapter of his book “On Liberty” (1859) on the topic of the freedom of thought and expression. Here’s a brief excerpt from it.
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April 28, 2015
by Atanu Dey
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Reading Ronald Coase

ronaldcoase Are you a well-read economist?

You aren’t if you cannot appreciate the Coase Theorem. (That theorem is one of the most cited in all of academic literature. Note, not just econ literature but all academic literature.) In other words, understanding the Coase theorem is part of being a complete economist.

Here are a few references to Ronald Coase, winner of the Economics “Nobel” Prize 1991, and his work:

Ronald Coase (Dec 1910 – Sep 2013) wiki page.

The Nature of the Firm” (1937) wiki page.

The Problem of Social Cost” wiki page.

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April 27, 2015
by Atanu Dey
15 Comments

Ask me anything

It’s time to have a conversation. I intend to have google hangouts on a regular basis. I am taking suggestions on the day and time. But first, would you like to join? Would the weekends be a good time for you? And if so, what time? Of course, you can ask me anything by leaving a comment on this post. I hope to hear from you on this open thread.

April 15, 2015
by Atanu Dey
3 Comments

An ad from 1947: “The Uphill Task Ahead”

My friend Veer shared this advertisement from 1947.

uphilltaskahead

After 68 years, Indians are still fighting a war on poverty and it is still an “Uphill Task Ahead.” Very little has changed since 1947 in the economic environment, and what little change there has been regressive. Certainly relative to 1947, Indians have progressed but relative to others, India has slipped further behind.
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April 14, 2015
by Atanu Dey
3 Comments

Pohela Boishakh, Vishu, and Puthandu Greetings

It’s a new year for the people of Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Happy New Year wishes.

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Om, may all become happy,
All be free from illness.
All see what is auspicious,
May no one suffer.
Om peace, peace, peace.

April 11, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

Rich People Spend More

It is very satisfying when research corroborates naive intuition. We expect water to flow downhill and when research after much painstaking data analysis concludes that indeed water flows downhill, it is a valuable addition to human knowledge and understanding. Switching off sarcasm mode now. I entered that mode when I read “Rich People Are Great at Spending Money to Make Their Kids Rich, Too” in The Atlantic. (Hat tip: Rajan.) An accompanying graphic shows “Share of Spending on Certain Categories, by Income Group” —

richpeople

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April 4, 2015
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

Watching the Lunar Eclipse

Right now, as seen from San Jose, CA, the moon is close to totally eclipsed. The footage from Los Angeles’s Griffith Observatory below.

Lunar_Eclipse_4-4-15

MWSnap541 This is the third in a series of four total lunar eclipses that began in mid-April last year.

MWSnap540

March 13, 2015
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

Friday the 13th, Pi Day the 14th & Beware the Ides of March

But first, if you are superstitious then be wary since it is Friday the 13th. If you know anything about numbers, and you live in the US, then you can be irrational on Saturday which is Pi Day.
piday

This pi day stuff works only in the US convention of writing mm/dd/yy for dates.

But whatever you do, beware the Ides of March.