Atanu Dey On India's Development

Thomas Schelling

I wrote about Thomas Schelling’s book in my last post. Here’s an account of a reporter’s lunch with him that is worth a quick read: The Game of Life.

Let me highlight a sentence fragment from that piece: ” . . . his work treats human frailties as something to be analysed and worked with, rather than denounced or denied.” That lies at the crux of a multitude of failures. People don’t fully appreciate the fact that what we have is frail human nature and if we refuse to confront reality, we are likely to make public policies that are wrong-headed and disastrous because they are built upon fairy-tale visions of human nature. Mohandas K Gandhi is the most illustrious example of a person who was seriously deluded about the nature of human beings and that, in my considered opinion, has contributed to a significant degree to the poverty that has dogged India for so long.

  • Ram Garib

    Atanu:

    I am a civil servant I find it a catch-22 scenario.

    As a bureaucrat, you have enormous authority to raise objection against other people’s intiatives (including other bureaucrats’). A corrollory to this is that other bureaucrats are also in a position to stall your initiatives. The net result is that everyone is left with enormous negative powers and very little actual authority to make positive impact.

    Does this mean that these checks are useless? The answer is no. As you mentioned about human frailties, it is equally necessary to put thorough checks on a bureaucrat earning Rs. 40000/- pm given to exercise discretion in crores of rupees. So what is the way out?