Atanu Dey On India's Development

A Tale of Two Countries — Part 2

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An Admirable Evasion of Whore-master Man

I believe that a person is at his most pathetic when he makes excuses for his failures and justifies them saying that they are primarily due to circumstances beyond his control. It is not merely an abdication of responsibility but what is worse, it precludes the possibility of corrective behavior. If it was not his fault, there’s no reason for him to change. He believes that when circumstances change, he will not fail.

I call this failure to own up to one’s failure “meta-failure.” I am only too familiar with my failures, and at times I have taken the easy way out by making excuses. But even when I try to fool others by shifting blame away from myself, I am not so deluded as to really believe my own excuses. That leaves me the opportunity of fixing my failures in the future. In other words, I fail but I don’t meta-fail. Redemption is possible but only if one is not asleep or self-deluded.

Shakespeare, as always, puts our unfortunate tendency to deflect blame from ourselves with his usual awesomeness. Listen.

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that,
when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeit
of our own behavior) we make guilty of our
disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as
if we were villains by necessity; fools by
heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and
treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards,
liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of
planetary influence; and all that we are evil in,
by a divine thrusting on: An admirable evasion
of whore-master man, to lay his goatish
disposition to the charge of a star!

King Lear (1.2.132)

These ruminations are a result of the “Yaabutt Singapore is a small country and cannot be compared with India” idea that I claimed was bogus at the end of my post, “A Tale of Two Countries“. It’s bogus because at best it is a meta-failure, an attempt to explain away India’s failure and thus absolve oneself of responsibility.

Not just poor, but impoverished

As I constantly remind everyone, India is a large country of extremely poor people. More accurately, India is a large country of extremely impoverished people. Impoverished because it has been reduced to poverty, deprived of all vitality and creativeness, driven to mass misery. India need not have been this miserable but it has been made to be so. It can be something else, something vital and rich in all senses of the word. But that possibility is precluded if Indians make excuses. That meta-failure is what I rail against in these pages. (The best way to become unpopular is to strip people of their comfortable delusions.)

The list of excuses advanced to explain away India’s backwardness is not long. Heading the list is the popular, “India is a democracy.” Then there’s “India is a large country and cannot be compared to small rich countries.” When compared to China’s rapid transformation, the excuse is “India will surpass China because China is authoritarian.”

Aside from the excuses list, there is a list of comforting delusions. The top of that list is “India has a demographic dividend coming due and will beat China.” Also on the list is, “India is a superpower.” Sometimes the super-powerdom is specified: “India is an IT superpower.” At other times, it is economic: “India has N billionaires.” At times it is based on an inability to do arithmetic, and not being able to understand the distinction between gross measures and per capita measures: “India is the largest producer of milk.”

Excuses and delusions. Where would we be without our excuses and delusions? Without our popular delusions, I think we would be on the road to success.

Bigger is Better

Here I will address, as promised, the matter of why the argument — that India’s failure to develop cannot be compared with Singapore’s enviable success due to differences in size — is meaningless. It is based on an absolute misapprehension of the way the world works. All we need to do to see through the matter is a little bit of common sense, a quiet place, and a bit of time to turn things around in one’s head.

Being large confers benefits. Look at it from any angle, and you will see the advantages. Large entities live longer. Compare a mouse to an elephant. Large corporations persist, and can weather downturns better than small firms. Large ships do better in storms than small boats. Large objects can affect the environment to their own benefit. A candle in the wind goes out; a large forest fire creates its own environment and whips up a storm. Large corporations can influence policy. Large suppliers can dictate prices and change the market equilibrium. Large universities have access to better faculty and students. Large cities attract the more talented compared to small towns and villages.

Look at it any which way, and you find that large entities have advantages over tiny ones. Especially being “economically” large is a great advantage.

When it comes to economies, larger is better because of some fundamental principles. First there is the notion of specialization. As Adam Smith reasoned over 200 years ago, division of labor and specialization allows the greater creation of wealth. The degree of specialization possible increases with population, which translates into greater productivity and production.

The second matter that confers advantage to size is that large economies have large domestic markets. There are scale economies in most modern production. The more you manufacture, for instance, the lower is the per unit cost. So if you have a large domestic market, you will achieve economies of scale, which lower your costs, and that enables you to be competitive in the world market. Not just competitive but you can even create a comparative advantage for yourself. Large economies have power to change the terms of trade to their advantage.

As human civilization has progressed, the size of the interacting group has increased. From small tribes, to city-states, to nations, to blocks of nations engaged in mutually beneficial trade arrangements.

The Western European economies not too long ago became part of a large economic union — to obtain those benefits that large size affords. They would not have done so if the benefits did not out weigh the costs.

Scale Economies

It is true that there are disadvantages to size as well. Very large organizations — like oil supertankers — cannot turn on a dime. Their momentum is hard to dissipate. But that can also be an advantage. Long after they engines have stopped turning, they can coast along for quite a while. A large corporation can typically survive economic turmoil better than little shops.

Large organizations turn out more complex manufactured goods. You cannot have a small firm turn out superjumbos like the Boeing 777s or the Airbus 380. These superjumbos exist because they are super efficient. Once again, scale economies kick in.

There’s one thing we have to bear in mind, though. Merely being large does not confer any advantage. Size is necessary condition but not a sufficient condition. For a large entity to be successful, it also has to have a complex nervous system. For proper functioning, the brain has to be sufficiently large as well.

The large dinosaurs, we are told, had small brains for their physical size. That’s a recipe for disaster. Some of them evolved to have large bodies but really tiny brains. In a sense, the same can be said about India — large body and a tiny brain. We will explore this incongruity a bit later.

Cooking Up a Good Economy

Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable. A useful metaphor for production in an economy comes from the kitchen. To create valuable final products, we mix inexpensive ingredients together according to a recipe.

Paul Romer.

Previously on this blog I explored the idea that at the bottom of it all, what matters is “stuff.” I am a stuff fundamentalist.

I believe in stuff. First of all, I am made of stuff. Second of all, I use stuff. I eat stuff, wear stuff, use stuff to get around, need stuff to shield me from the natural elements, etc. We all do. Those who don’t have stuff that they can use, are poor. Poverty is the lack of stuff. Everything that we do, ultimately involves stuff.

From the composition of sublime music to mind-blowing accomplishments of theoretical physics—they all involves stuff because they are all produced by people who, as we can easily appreciate, need stuff. Any system that produces lots of useful stuff has the necessary condition for producing all sorts of things. Conversely any system that is unable to produce stuff in sufficient quantities is one that is characterized by poverty.

Romer’s analogy of final products as the result of the operation of a recipe on inputs is instructive and accurate. You need good recipes and you need ingredients. If you do, you produce good stuff. If you have a lousy recipe, you can make a mess of even the finest ingredients. Conversely, if you have a good recipe, you can make delightful stuff with even modest ingredients. Broadly speaking you need three bits — the cook, the recipe and the ingredients — which then have to come together well for a good outcome.

You’d notice that the three bits are actually quite different in nature. The recipe is an “information good” and therefore falls in the category of “public goods.” You can not “use up” a recipe. Any number of people can simultaneously use a recipe. On the other hand, the ingredients are “private goods.” If you use that pound of butter for your dish, that same pound of butter is not available to me. Butter is a “private good.” The cook embodies “agency” — she has a purpose, makes choices, acts to achieve her goal, mixes and chops stuff, determines when the batter is just right, and when to stop the cooker. The cook “implements” a recipe and uses up ingredients (input stuff) to produce a dish (output stuff.)

So let’s see their analogues in the case of an economy. The government (cook) chooses and implements policies (recipes) to combine resources (ingredients) to produce final goods and services that the economy consumes immediately, or intermediate stuff for use in the production of final goods and services.

This general description of how an economy functions applies to economies of all sizes, large and small. If an economy fails to produce sufficient amounts of goods and services relative to its population, it is poor. This failure can be attributed to a lack of any or more of the three basic bits. Even with the best recipe and ingredients, a lousy cook can mess it all up by not choosing the right recipe, or not correctly following the right recipe.

So far we have not seen any reason for why a large economy cannot be as equally successful as a small one. The government and policymakers are taken from the population. There is nothing to suggest that in large populations, the percentage of smart people is lower than that in smaller populations. Public policies (recipes) are chosen from a large set of available policies. Being public goods, these can be taken from anywhere at all. With a little bit of care, one should be able to look around and distinguish between those policies that have proved good and those that haven’t. Take those that work for your specific circumstances. It’s a matter of public choice, and that depends on the competency of the policymakers and their objectives.

The Bogus Argument

With that background established, now we are ready to discuss why the objection, “yeah but Singapore is a small country, and India is large,” does not make sense.

First, large size is an advantage rather than a handicap. Singapore does not have the diversity ant the geographical extent of India. One or the other regions of India has any of the resources required for economic production, and it also has a large domestic consumer market. The number of smart people in India’s population of 1.2 billion far exceed the number of smart people in Singapore’s 5 million population (although in percentage numbers they may be the same.)

The public policies that Singapore uses — whether home grown or imported from abroad — are also available for India to use. The stock of public policies available is the same for all countries. It is a matter of which to choose with regard to the specifics of the country.

Singapore has access to limited domestic resources — human or physical. India has a wider choice since India is large. Granted that the per capita stock of resources for India is low. For example, India’s per capita availability of arable land, water, and other natural resources are lower than many other countries, large and small. But India is not entirely devoid of resources either. (Then of course there is no reason why India’s population should have been allowed to balloon to the point where it overwhelms the available resources. That itself speaks to a failure of public policy.)

In international forums, large size gives more bargaining power. In trade, it gives the ability to dictate terms. Large populations allow greater degree of specialization. Large economies can afford large fixed costs — thus allowing lower average costs in industries that have low marginal costs.

Conclusion

All things considered, large size is an advantage rather than a disadvantage in most cases. But even in those areas where size is a disadvantage, the large economy can (almost costlessly) disaggregate to the extent required to reach optimal size.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s take an analogy. Suppose in the manufacture of widgets, the larger the factory producing them, the per unit cost is lower — but only up to a certain point. So a factory producing 1 million widgets has a lower per unit cost than one that only produces half a million widgets. But suppose this advantage on the side of the large peaks at 2 million units. That is, beyond 2 million units, the cost per unit starts rising. At 10 million units, the cost per widgets rises to be the same as the cost of the factory producing half a million widgets.

Now consider two countries. Singapore needs only 1 million widgets domestically, and cannot export any. India needs 10 million widgets. So if India builds a factory to produce all 10 million widgets, it will be paying more per widget than Singapore which is using one factory to produce the 1 million it needs. Singapore does not have the option of scaling up the factory to 2 million units to get a lower cost per unit. Therefore its small domestic market has handicapped it. India, on the other hand, has a way out. It can produce the 10 million widgets in five factories of the optimal size — 2 million unit.

This is an important point worth repeating. A small economy cannot scale up it operations to that of a large economy, but a large economy can scale down if necessary.

If the optimal size for the administrative efficiency of a population is say 10 million, then a population of 100 million has the choice of splitting itself into 10 units of 10 million.

I think I have given sufficient reasons to believe that the objection that Singapore cannot be compared to India for the reason of size is bogus. Indeed, in the ordinary course of events, one would expect that given India’s size, India would be the more successful of the two, not Singapore.

But why is India so desperately poor relative to Singapore? What explains India’s poverty?

I think that would be a good topic to explore in a future post. I am sure that you already know the answer. In terms of the analogy, the answer is incompetent cooks. Let’s talk about that next.

Thanks

Thanks to all who have posted comments to “A Tale of Two Countries.” I will address them shortly in a separate post.

{Read Part 3 of this post.}

  • ashutosh

    u buddy missing the point. lesser the people easier to influence. big always does not mean better all the time. try writing an article about it. i am sure you can do it

  • http://swaraj.nationalinterest.in Harsh Gupta

    Atanu,

    Since we agree that larger population results in larger specialization, larger scales of economies, larger national bargaining powers and most importantly more per-capita “stuff” in the long run, have you modified your views and do you now oppose government-enforced population control?

    (Apologies in advance if I had mis-interpreted your original position correctly, or if you had changed your views in the interim and I missed that)

    http://indianeconomy.org/2006/10/21/demographic-cognitive-dissonance/#comment-166527

    Regards, Harsh

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  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    Re. your explanation of your/Romer’s analogy/metaphor of the cook, the recipe and the ingredients.

    I seem to have a few issues with a certain passage above, mostly, the two paragraphs which begin with “You’d notice that the three bits are actually quite different in nature….” and end with “… in the production of final goods and services.”

    1. You said: “The recipe is an “information good” and therefore falls in the category of “public goods.”"

    Non-sequitur.

    Forget “information,” a very late 20th–early 21 century Bay Arean Socialistic term (i.e. an anti-concept). Let’s make your argument worthy of examination by replacing it with a broader (and actually valid) term: ideas.

    Ideas are held by *individuals*. As such, ideas can only be, by their very basic nature, *private*. Thinking is a private process that can only be performed by an individual man, and so is the end-product of that process.

    Thus, like all property, ideas too are a private property: to begin with, and in the most fundamental senses of the terms.

    Now, an individual can certainly trade ideas with other individuals—which implies that both/all such individuals are *producers* in some basic sense (else there can be no *trade*). A traded idea may be deemed to be public only inasmuch as two or more individuals have ownership rights to it—the creator, the basic rights of creating it; and (each of) the possessors after the trade, as per the terms and conditions of the trade—not to mention what he can make of it (including its betterment into another idea).

    The very idea to warp the proper domain of ideas from the private and into an implicitly socialistic kind of “public” nothing, is a very 20th-century American phenomenon (and before them: Russian, German, Italian, British…). (Some got it from Marx, others from Hegel, still others from Goethe, the (then) Church, and whatnot. But in an ultimate sense, they all got it from Immanuel Kant.)

    I am sure your purposes are far nobler than any of that. But still, to me, you seem (inadvertently) to commit a mistake here. Just a friendly pointing out.

    BTW, there still is an implicit value-exchange even when ideas are exchanged in more informal settings such as a mother teaching her kid how to use a spoon, or a school-teacher going out of the syllabus to teach the students under his charge the better principles of morality, etc.

    2. In any social realm, including that of economics and politics, ultimately, the only metaphysically possible agent of any kind of a change is: Man, in the singular—i.e.: an individual. This is true of course of culture, but most particularly, it is also true in the realm of economics, i.e., of production.

    The government metaphysically cannot be an agency of *anything* that has to do with production. By its metaphysical nature, all it can do is to either let individuals to be free to produce, restricting itself to only supplying the necessary security to them, to their produce and to their mutual contractual transactions. Or, alternatively, to act as an institutionalized thief/looter. There is no third way.

    Most emphatically, unlike current fashions in academia (whether in the countries from the third world or the first) it is a fallacy to regard the government as an economic agent.

    Even if a government is capable of grabbing properties of producers at the point of a gun, notice, stealing is not the same as producing.

    3. The position in the second of your paragraphs under consideration is completely statist in nature. A government cannot even “combine resources” let alone even “produce” goods and services (whether the preliminary/crude, or intermediate, or the final). Please do watch out against that premise; I am sure you often are against it yourself.

    4. I believe that it was Ayn Rand who first identified that all property rights ultimately are, in a certain sense, *intellectual* in nature. Man’s mind is his basic tool of survival—of living qua Man.

    The artificial division of property into the two realms of ideas and of material goods, seems to spring from a certain deeper mind-body dichotmy. The connection of these two into the private and the public seems to complete the dichotomy’s outward expression.

    5. Regardless of my above criticism (which I do think was due), your overall writeup is, I think, good “stuff,” to borrow your term. I especially liked the great variety of causal factors and observations that you have weaved in while addressing the issue of big-ness of organizations. Also, the suicidal policies adopted by the successive governments (in which I also include the one “shiningly” run by the BJP).

    6. I still believe that comparison of India to Singapore are not apt. Another comment. (This one has become too big.)

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • Gdef

    Well, the whole issue is about control.

    Wild forest fires, as you have described, take a lot of effort and time to bring under control; large corporations can take a long time to make decisions, especially if committee-controlled. A small fire (or a candle, as you put it), can be put out easily, just as in a 100-person company with a two-man committee can come to a decision rather quickly.

    India is a large country, and there are at least 3 levels (if not more) of bureaucracy. In comparison, Singapore has probably just as couple of levels of bureaucracy. It is management of the bureaucracy that the giant stumbles along while the midget runs far ahead.

  • larissa

    China’s Middle-Class and Affluent Consumers May Almost Triple in 10 Years

    More news about growing Middle Class in China. And India? It will probably have a few more billionaires with connections to government in real estate, mining and land and will increase poor living on less than $2 a day population by the same amount if current trends do not reverse.
    Here is the link
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-08/middle-class-affluent-consumers-in-china-may-almost-triple-in-next-decade.html

    China’s middle-income and affluent consumers will probably almost triple in 10 years with the bulk of the increase coming from smaller cities, Boston Consulting Group Inc. said today.

    There will be 270 million more consumers whose annual household incomes exceed 60,000 yuan ($9,000) in the world’s most populous country by 2020, said Carol Liao, a partner at the Boston-based consulting company. That would lift the total number of middle-class and affluent Chinese to 415 million from 148 million now, she said.

    I remember a Chinese who once working in India telling me, yes there is corruption in China but there is pressure to get work done along with the corruption, and some output has to be shown. What he noticed about Indian corruption he said is no work done with corruption when it came to bureaucracy (as opposed to meeting some targets in China with corruption present) and no work done is gotten way with in India.

  • pankaj

    @larissa, in china there is corruption no doubt but the top leadership is very strongly against it and they execute anybody who is found doing it and they do it in months,in contrast to india where it is taken as way of life,in china they have national pride which we don’t, hence each person thinks for himself.
    about this post, atanu has forgotten that ultimately what matters is not quantity but quality of people as i have seen that smaller nations are more united and more manageable than larger ones.regarding singapore not to be forgotten are they are predominantly chinese,and they are very progressive people.east asian miracle happened only because of east asian values which we indians dont have,as a matter of factly the only values we have are dishonesty.
    singapore’s leader lee kwan had also said this,that culture plays a lions share in a country progress.
    Hence india becoming like singapore is pipe dream.

  • larissa

    east asian values which we indians dont have

    Now you are talking nonsense. The problem is that the Indian State, something copied willy-nilly from the British without a concern for what the native needs really are is dysfunctional. This State as it currently functions seems to be against the native way of life (as exemplified in the traditions native to India). The Indian native culture is just as progressive as the East Indian, but the State hinders it, as it is spreading its tentacles in all walks of life in India. The other ways of thinking of nationhood and national identity were sidelined by Congress at the time of independence, and the Congress way of thinking is strangling the entire country, you have got a bootlicker press which does not impart information but seeks to “influence” events and outcomes. The national pastimes of India, cheap Bollywood and the cricket arena, is futher evidence of a deracinated culture. The result is a deracinated nation which does not understand what it means to think for itself, and must copy obtaining a “lead” from others, which is what deracination and a slavish way of thinking results in.
    I do not care for India to be a super power. I will be happy if as in functioning countries, you do not see massive amounts of swarming hungry, illiterate and human degradation on the levels seen there. Even attaining a middle level income level would be a great achievement for India.

  • http://youths-love-sports.blogspot.com/ sportsblog

    Thanks for giving good information about “A Tale of Two Countries “.from all “Scale Economies”&”The Bogus Argument” that is nice…

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    Hi Atanu

    Good analysis.

    I think the big vs. small argument doesn’t hold simply because countries haven’t developed or underdeveloped in such a pattern. The US, Australia and France are fairly big countries and they are extremely successful whilst the likes of UK and Japan have been successful despite their size. On the other hand, Russia has been fairly unsuccessful and so are hundreds of tiny countries all over the planet.

    There’s no correlation between the size of the country and its success factor. Period.

  • Pushkar

    More than size , success depends on brain. Our Govt is like our brian which should control resources appropriately. For example a person who gives much importance to his tastebuds would make whole body suffer, by eating more and spicy things! So Our Govt in a way is captured by rich and powerful and ignores rest of the body mostly.

  • Oldtimer

    There are two insinuations in the Yabutter argument:

    1. Economic policy (ie, socialism) is NOT responsible for India’s sorry state. This stems from a fanatical belief dogma.

    2. (This is a corollary) Chacha Nehru, who adopted and then and bequeathed this policy to his family, is NOT responsible for India’s sorry state. This stems not from a love of Chacha but from the calculation that any weakening of the dynasty would pave the way for BJP.

    Of course, the onus is on the critic to state them as arguments rather than as insinuations. But these days even many leftwingers are not so nutty as to rashly proclaim that socialism is still sexy

  • Loknath

    Thanks Atanu for bringing out this post. I have a question for you. India being given what it is..an impoverished country, what explains the fact that INR didnt appreciate the “way it should have” in contrat to appreciation of SGD to USD. India had 15 years of pent up growth (incomes for the trained professionals have grown upto 5 to 10 times between 00 and 2010) I would have expected that as proportion of incomes, goods and services in India should have cost the same proportion as it works for an American or Singaporean. I am excluding the poor little bastards out of this comparision as I dont think they will ever come out of poverty. I am talking of normal educated employable people whose spend basket is getting more and more disproportionate to the incomes vis a vis our equally competent Amercian employees. Would rupee’s power to buy, alleviate or assuage such a situation. Why does certain basic goods cost less in America even when I convert dollars into rupees. Is there more to econnomic theory of demand, supply and elasticity at work.

  • TiredProf

    @Loknath: The Indian economy is much more inefficient than America’s. As just one narrow example, how many city miles per gallon can you go in Mumbai vs. Mountain View? No wonder everything costs more. We waste more, and for every unit of GDP, there are many many more deadweights than in America. Don’t pity the “poor bastards”. They at least have a vast network of social loyalty. City people with “real jobs” are so isolated that a few weeks of garbage strike or blockading produce trucks on freeways will completely screw them over. The “poor bastards” will work underground and survive, but you or I won’t.

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    Ok, now a bit about why comparisons between Singapore and India are not apt.

    1. First and foremost, Singapore is a city-state; India is a nation-state.

    In the World War II, Singapore fell in five days (Wiki); India sent hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight on the side of the allies. (Wiki also says that later during the WWII, the Indian Army became the largest volunteer force in history, earning 30 Victoria Crosses.)

    If something happens tomorrow on this side of the world, you know which nation will survive—and why.

    A city-state is basically easier to govern i.e. to control. There are reasons grounded in the “stuff” part of it—i.e. in the physical factors such as the land area and the logistics. Here, imagine just how much time it would take for the Mumbai police to hunt *all* Maoists and bring them *all* to justice—provided the Maoists were not hiding scattered in remote jungles but existed only in Mumbai, and if their number was in exact proportion to India’s total population today. Even granted their current inefficiency, the time-period could be in matter of days. (Though I don’t, you may assume Shiv Sena to be in power, if you want this argument to be really convincing! :) )

    Which brings us to the next part.

    2. For the same reason as above, a city-state is also easier to fall prey to dictatorial tendencies—which could be the reason why convent-educated blue-eyed boys often escape into that favorite day-dream of theirs, of seeing Mumbai made into Singapore—with they in the charge, of course! (If not you, Dr. Dey, at least Godrejs and Shouries and NC Shainas and whonot, do!)

    Look up the Wiki page on “Democracy Index” and, despite all the inconsistencies introduced by that term (Democracy means unlimited majority rule), they still manage to convey enough information on the (implicit) respect to the individual rights that various nations in fact accord. Check out Singapore on that list.

    3. To explain Singapore’s explosive GDP growth, three factors are to be acknowledged. (This is an on-the-fly analysis of a non-economist.)

    3.1 Singapore is a nation of immigrants to an extraordinary degree. Since you live in the SF Bay Area, I need not emphasize that mmigrants, as a general rule, tend to have more initiative, be more enterprising in nature, and, in general, more hard-working and productive.

    3.2 Singapore’s *economic* policies are all tilted towards free enterprise. However, never forget the “kind” and “benevolent” central control. (There *are* definite reasons why I wouldn’t get selected so easily in a Tata or Godrej company—or an offshoot thereof like Geometric Software. And, I, actually, wasn’t.)

    3.3 The rich and powerful countries of today are not capitalist—and most importantly, have not been even mostly capitalist for almost a century now. Look up the government expenditure growth in the USA. Even for the original “capitalist” country like the US, the graphs show dramatically ominous trends over at least 50 years by now.

    That (two/three generations or more) has been enough time for a different kind of “businessman” to rise and acquire control over the sheer financial staying power (or the bigness of it).

    Implication? You always have to apply filters to anything these assholes say. The words may look capitalist; the intention—and the actual action—can be expected to fall even below what the words seem to convey. And, the words themselves do not convey 100% pure Laissez-Faire Capitalism, anyway.

    One direct consequence of the above is that it is easy to imagine Singapore to be a toy in the hands of these kind of powers—a different kind of a “businessman,” and a different kind of a “politician,” which together form the de-facto establishment in your country today—and similar countries elsewhere (rich, advanced, first world, call it whatever you may). It may not necessarily be so. But it is easy to imagine that.

    You can make this argument: And how different is it from having to live under a select priviledged few in India. Point taken—provided you allow also the BJP assholes to be put into that category, but not otherwise.

    And, there is a difference. India is not a city-state—which provides for better grounds for hope. If the downfall has to occur (in terms of losing control), it would be more catastrophic in Singapore than in India.

    4. Yet another point that I am only mentioning in the passing, without integrating it to the rest. The point is ironic because it touches on what the BJP is so proud of, and is busy furthering—namely, the historic context. Despite all the glorious elements of its past, you cannot deny that India has had mysticism as the ruling philosophic condition for thousands of years. Think of the divisions along the caste lines. (Can I realistically expect a Brahmin girl to respond to my matrimonial queries today—after the BJP movement and regime in the recent decade+? Don’t answer me—and I am sure you won’t—but the truth is literally out there.) And, that’s just one division. There are idiots selling Vastu Shaastra (and their ranks had remarkably swollen during the shining BJP years—they made enough killing back then to be able to survive even today, and some of them continue to prosper too). There are idiots selling their whims and fancies of fatalism under the garb of astrological predictions—and their ranks too had swollen during the BJP years. Why, someone as statesmanly as AB Vajpayee also surrounded himself with Hindu religious leaders during his stint as the foreign minister, on the visit to the nation that had first showed what a truly secular nation-state is like. (“In God We Trust” came in 1952—not in 1776—though no Sangh Wallah will let you know that.)

    Historically, other nations have had to overcome the elements of mysticism existing within them too. Historical evidence shows that Laissez-Faire Capitalism is the most potent system in accomplishing so. Note, I said Laissez-Faire Capitalism, not the version of it that the BJP tries to sell (which consists of equal statism as the Indira Congress’, merely with a different group of intended beneficiaries: those among Hindus (esp. Hindu Brahmins) who are close to the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.) But, yes, as Capitalism advances, it leads to a certain silent revolution in the methods of organizing the productive factors, most particularly, human resources. Ordinary people may not realize, but if they have to survive under the sever requirements that Capitalism imposes, they learn how to accomodate other people of other caste, religious, race, etc. background. Mysticism takes a back seat. In India, Mumbai shows the effect most dramatically. And, Nagpur is one of the least advanced in this respect—regardless of how many Sangh Wallahs extol it.

    With a nation of that kind of a background—a foot stuck in the past—you cannot expect the kind of growth that Singapore has shown. Not even if it is made 100% Laissez-Faire Capitalist country tomorrow. (And, some of the cancers holding others back would belong to the established BJP backers, too.)

    I am sure I missed many other points too, some, in favour of India. But, what the heck, this is just an online comment to a blog-post.

    All in all: I could go for work to Singapore on a limited time basis, perhaps even for years. However, I know that I wouldn’t want to be its citizen, full-stop.

    Thanks for publishing my previous comment.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • dodo

    OMG!!

    “1. First and foremost, Singapore is a city-state; India is a nation-state. ”

    Am I the only one to whom it translates to:

    ” “Yaabutt, Singapore is a small country of 4 million and India is 1,200 million. You cannot compare the two.”

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    dodo,

    You are spot on!

    It is a classic example of a logical fallacy called “begging the question.

    The fallacy of petitio principii, or “begging the question”, is committed “when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.” More specifically, petitio principii refers to arguing for a conclusion that has already been assumed in the premise, in effect “begging” any listener to “question” the basis of the logic.

    In this case, the point we are discussing is why the proposition “Singapore cannot be compared to India because Singapore is small and India is large” is false.

    And in arguing for the proposition by saying “Because Singapore is a city-state and India is a nation-state” is basically asserting the proposition.

    When someone starts an argument by begging the question, one can justifiably ignore the rest of the argument.

    Thanks for pointing that out, dodo.

  • larissa

    you cannot deny that India has had mysticism as the ruling philosophic condition for thousands of years.

    This is absurd. The Gita tells you to fight for a just cause, all of our mythology is based on glorifing self-control and self-evolution the result of which fosters real strength. If after 800 years of Islam and the damage of colonial rule, if Indians are deracinated and cannot understand their history properly, don’t blame the culture, but the lack of education which is controlled by the State; Indians are taught nothing in school about their history, so they know nothing, the only tradition that survives is what is passed via family, this much the State cannot control, although it wants to.

    Despite all the glorious elements of its past, you cannot deny that India has had mysticism as the ruling philosophic condition for thousands of years. Think of the divisions along the caste lines. (Can I realistically expect a Brahmin girl to respond to my matrimonial queries today

    This is ridiculous. If Sikh wants to marry a Sikh, a Brahmin a Brahmin, a Baniya Baniya, these are personal choices. You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. As for caste, Hinduism came up with movements like Buddhism and Jainism. As to why India stopped being creative intellectually consult and read Indian history properly. It is a wonder that despite all the destruction in the course of history, all the colonialism India maintains something distinctly Indian, and is not deracinated 100% although the State perhaps would like it to be as it is spreading its tentacles.

    Historical evidence shows that Laissez-Faire Capitalism is the most potent system in accomplishing so.

    I think you should take a look world wide and see what is happening. The right is making a comeback in Europe and elsewhere. And the Chinese might beat the Capitalists at their own game. Communism and Capitalism are just two sides of the same coin, do not really have much that is different between them.

    The native culture in India is a tolerant culture in terms of allowing different ways of thinking (but that does not mean that anything was allowable), but within its native civilizational ethos and culture. India is not a Pakistan or Bangladesh because a man called Nehru copied the Bristish and gave India “demo-crazy” but because of its old civilizational ethos which is adaptive and forward looking when the right political conditions are present which is not against the native culture and way of thinking. The challenge for Indians is to foster this kind of political climate.

    As for India’s culture being mysticism, I don’t know where you are from, but read a book or two about your own history before you make such stupid remarks. The “mysticism” in government that can be found is largely attributed to Christianity (Gandhian ideals) and Nehru’s socialism.

    As for your much vaunted Bombay, it seems like hellish place with a few high rises like Ambanis’ overlooking massive slums (great views ain’t it even if you are a billionaire), and known for not much but a soft-porn industry (Bollywood) and some private enterprises.

    The sucess of Singapore is due to its enterprising Chinese population and educated Indian expats and a government that does what is needed for national self-interest.

  • larissa

    @Ashish Deodhar
    “Russia has been fairly unsuccessful and so are hundreds of tiny countries all over the planet.”

    This is rubbish.

    Russia is ruled by oligarchs, that is why it is the way it is. On the corruption index Russia is on par with countries such as Kenya and perhaps India. Bloomberg reports that 300 bn are paid in bribes annually. So it is the way it is because of these things, not size. Read a little before you make such facile comparisons.

    Russia’s revolution or rather coup d’etat which it more properly was, got rid of two things Russia had which was a link to any higher culture Russia had: the Orthodox Church which is making a comeback and their aristocracy which the coup wiped out. Now Russia is asking the old Russian aristocrats who migraged to South America to come back as they realize the damage.

  • larissa

    The Indian native culture is just as progressive as the East Indian

    I meant to say just as progressive as the East Asian

  • sriram

    a posit:
    when i am in a smaller pond i feel more connected than i am in a large ocean. its just one of the many important instincts which add up. I see the example in *gated communities* where people really don’t mess up for several reasons and primarily they can effectuate more and step up to the neighborhood wellbeing is their personal wellbeing.
    The key could lie in getting rid of central control and setup distributed governance. it gives people to expand beyond 4 walls to the *next step* which is not as collossal as 1200 Million but say, fewer ( A LOT fewer)

    2cents
    Sriram

  • sriram

    Addendum to the above, from my IT background:
    Engineering challenges for scaling and performance force many Systems to be re-architected and require quite a paradigm shift in thinking than to solve a smaller scale. Its time and again I see in many software designs.
    What worked for small system did not work when customer wanted more scale.
    I can emphatically state that the contrary is usually true : What worked for Large system usually works well for smaller systems.

    Again, apologies for not being able to dig up a different (more english) paralell.

    -Sriram

  • Amit S

    I think the focus is wrong when we blame India’s size for its problems. The basic problem is not India’s size but the centralization of power, i.e. command-and-control mentality. There are people who think they can/should plan for an entire nation of several hundred million (or a billion), invariably leaving to very suboptimal results. They also extract “rents” based on monopolizing that control using coercion or threat thereof through restrictive and useless laws, police, army etc. The scope of this centralization and monopolization is expansive geographically and into as many spheres of the economy as possible.

  • http://www.economicstutor.org Economics Tutor

    Atanu,

    I just stumbled upon your post vis Rajesh’s blog. Excellent stuff. I will follow this more regularly.

    Since you cover the indian economy, I wanted to share a recent link from the NYT by the journalist Friedman http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/opinion/03friedman.html?_r=1&ref=thomaslfriedman

    Senith

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    Evasion *is* the only tactic that, in any logically conducted debate, BJP supportersand Sangh Wallahs are often left to. When confronted by fundamental issues, men metaphysically have no recourse left but to go back to their individual basics—whether rational, predominantly rational, irrational, or irredimably irrational.

    Here, what was evaded by the University of California at Berkeley-graduated American citizen Dr. Atanu Dey?

    It is this: namely, that distinctions pertaining to the political forms of states is an issue orthogonal to that of their size. And yet, such distinctions are important in *comparing* them.

    Let me end by mentioning that I believe that no matter how they *talk*, in their heart, and, if they are given the political power, in their actions, both the nameless dodo (recall your God again, dodo, you sure would have occasion to do so), and Dr. Dey the statist, would enthusiastically support the idea of Special Economic Zones wherein the state forcibly takes the resources of one group and allocates it to another—say BJP’s friends—so as to create sort of like Singapores within India. And keep beating their breasts about that shining story. Point over. (Time for you to try to get a connect with your God, nameless—and almost fully evidently selfless—dodo!)

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • Oldtimer

    Same old story. Not without reason is it known widely that when Comrade-log can’t dazzle people with brilliance, they try to baffle them with bullshit.

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    In reference to what the nameless “larissa # 9 November 2010 at 9:18 am” wrote (the “you” in the following refers to the aforementioned entity):

    First, I thought that apparently, you feel shy of naming me while replying to my comments. I also thought that such shyness was not really necessary. (I didn’t think of plagiarism because you talk on the same thread, and the general reader can still get which part had been written by me, and which part, by others.) [I could also keep aside my suspicion that you have not been taught that it is necessary to put quote marks while quoting others' passages. It could be a typo; I myself often commit these.]

    But then, I caught my mistake—in thinking of shyness as your attribute—when I came to this passage of yours:

    “As for India’s culture being mysticism, I don’t know where you are from, but read a book or two about your own history before you make such stupid remarks.”

    Hmmm… Where am I from?

    I am from Pune, India. I was born in Pune, but due to my engineer father’s transfers, I was raised and educated in the rural parts of Western and Northern Maharashtra (in Marathi medium, of course), 5 different schools already before I ended up for my X standard at Nasik—then a (Marathi) “pothi-nishTha” and Sangh-Wallah’s bastion. You can get the rest from my resume, which is easily located on the ‘net. (Many of Dr. Atanu Dey’s selfless moron associates have.)

    That was the “stuff” part of it. Now, if you thereby meant to enquire about my intellectual position, for most of them, visit this site: http://www.AynRand.org . I will be writing about the remaining part of my convictions myself. But for the time being, for this thread, the Ayn Rand site by itself is more than adequate.

    In particular, for my position that mysticism has been the dominant philosophic/cultural trend in India (also in the Indian sub-continent, if I may enlarge it), I first got it first-hand while still in school (about the same time when I finished reading Vivekananda’s prominent books, and yet, I got this not from him, but, as I said, more or less first-hand—the books I read supplied only the vocabulary/terminology part of it, not the observation or truth or validation part which I did completely on my own), then also heard it from the socialists and communists while I was in my early college years (esp. in the junior college i.e. XI and XII standards), then also heard it from Dr. Leonard Peikoff once I had grown up. I would have been happy to leave you at his door-step: http://www.Peikoff.com . But, such is not my luck: you have not yet developed basic reading and writing skills, and probably also have yet to acquire a self!

    You can see that I don’t care to address the rest of what you write. It’s a matter of entailments, but I want to make sure that the basics are there first.

    But, yes, overall, I am happy that by providing a link to a couple of Objectivist sites, I invite their attention to threads such as this. Recently, I had received an email from a young American Objectivist (an engineer from neither the West Coast nor the East Coast) who seemed curious about India, and said that he was watching a lot of Hindi movies. I would be happy if people like him come to see this thread and get to realize *one* of the kind of people who I have faced in India, over the years—with such people sometimes holding the proverbial (or is it metaphorical? allegorical?) sword over my head: with my life literally dependent on the swings of their whims. It was near enough. And I am committed to see that it does not repeat—for me, or for others like me. *That* is the reason why I at all wrote this reply.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    @Larissa

    “it is the way it is because of these things, not size.”

    I think you missed my point then. That’s exactly what I said – there’s no correlation between a country’s success or failure and the country’s size.

    You don’t seem to have read my comment in its entirety.

  • dodo

    @ Dr. Jadhav:

    ” the nameless dodo … would enthusiastically support the idea of Special Economic Zones ”

    You are almost right here. I support the idea of SEZs but oppose the “special” status. Why not turning the whole country similar to a big SEZ ( in that case there would be nothing “special” about it)?

    Rest of you post was charming. Loved it. Please keep those coming.

  • Amit S

    Ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention to Exhibit A – “Doctor” Ajit Jadhav – a frequent product of our nation’s so-called “higher” education. My guess is that he is somewhat knowledgeable in the subject that he got his PhD in. However, for topics outside his area of expertise, he hides his incomprehension and projects his preconceived notions by writing long-winded flowery sentences, most of which lack coherence, logic and direction. Also, by using titles such as “Dr”. This is because our education system does not do a good job of teaching comprehension, critical thinking, fluid expression and logical argumentation. Most of its products are quick to draw conclusions that are unsubstantiated, make implications that don’t exist, and draw metaphors that are invalid. Deep down inside, they have an idea of their shortcomings. So, they carry an inferiority complex compared to those who have studied in the Berkeley’s of the world. Of course, not everyone graduating from our institutes of “higher” learning is like that. Then, those exceptions do not suffer from complexes either.

    Dr Jadhav, you claim that Dr Dey is evading the question of political form leading to different economic outcomes when comparing two states. Precisely the opposite. Dr Dey is actually claiming that India’s political class and political structure is responsible for its poverty. Kindly please note that the aforementioned political structures cannot be summarized by simple words such as “democracy” or “dictatorship” as there are deeper levels of details thereof pertaining to matters of economics of countries relevant to such comparison. In other words, just because India is a democracy does not mean that it is destined to be poorer in per capita production/consumption and inefficient in governance. The deeper structure of that democracy matters a lot.

    Take the relationship between Center and states, or states and cities/districts. When was the last time a state was able to sell natural resources in the open market for the benefit of the state’s people? Or take the relationship between heads of political parties and party workers. When was the last time party workers were able to oust its leader for incompetence?

    Also, where in his entire blog does Atanu support the idea of SEZs? Where does he support taking resources from one person and giving it to another? If there is one thing that I have learnt on his blog it is this- For economic prosperity, all exchange has to be *voluntary*, and state has to simply provide the mechanism (and guarantees) for such voluntary exchange. SEZs, on the other hand, are all about state coercion (in collusion with those setting shop in the SEZs) against the local people, thus a very *involuntary* exchange from the point of view of the locals.

    Advise to mathematicians- Don’t drink and derive!

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    “Amit S # 10 November 2010 at 6:58 pm”:

    “You” expect me to take exception to “your” writing, don’t “you”? also, get angry, perhaps?

    Since I am going to abandon this thread (I have better things to do), before doing that, shall I try to oblige “you” and “your” “ladies” and “gentlemen”? … Here I go (can’t say “we”).

    “You” said:

    “So, they carry an inferiority complex compared to those who have studied in the Berkeley’s of the world.”

    Though “you” don’t say quite directly, “you” indicate (through the flow of “your” writing) that the “they” here does include me. Let me make this assumption, so that a reply (of some form) to “you” at all becomes possible.

    Next time “you” run into a PhD in engineering or physical sciences graduated by or employed in (in no particular order) MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, UIUC, Princeton, Harvard, CalTech, GeorgiaTech, Austin, etc., or Cambridge, Oxford, etc., or any of the Max Planck Institutes, or Paris, or Utrecht, or Uppasala, or Melbourne, Sydney, etc., or NUS etc., and then also, Perimeter, Kavli, Ayn Rand Institute, etc. then raise the following issue to him (for no *reason* except that “you” do publicly talk about my PhD and my research):

    1. Tell him that one Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav (and “you” know my Web and blog sites don’t “you”?) has been making claims that his PhD research has provided certain firsts in the world in ~75, ~102, and 200+ years. Tell him that the number of years for the last result could go back to as many as 250+ or more years.

    2. Tell him that the first of these results deals with the resolution of the quantum wave-particle duality (WPD for short).

    3. Then, to add the listener’s interest, add immediately later that Dr. Jadhav claims that his approach leads to empirically testable predictions which are expected to be slightly—but definitely—different from the predictions of the currently accepted quantum mechanical methods/theories—the standard or the mainstream treatment, as well as Feynman’s.

    4. Then, tell him that Dr. Jadhav believes that unless he were to get that first-in-200 years result at least implicitly, he himself could not have resolved the WPD.

    5. Then, also add that Dr. Jadhav has been blogging about it openly, including at Harvard’s iMechanica forum where one of his applied mechanics-related post is an all-time hits, and therefore, Dr. Jadhav believes that he has invited attention of researchers from all over the world to the other parts of his PhD research too.

    Also add that iMechanica members do have interdisciplinary research connections to physics departments (mostly due to nanomaterials etc. research), and sometimes publish in pure physics journals such as Nature, Science, PRL, etc.

    Also add that iMechanica members include the next NSF Director Prof. Subra Suresh.

    Finally, add that iMechanica members have shown not only initiative but also intersest continuing for months in catching false claims, e.g. Koenemann’s.

    6. Then, add that Dr. Jadhav claims not to have received a single communication contradicting his basic claims (i.e. the firsts in ~75 etc. years) over the 3 to 5 years since their publication.

    7. Finally, if he enquires about it, tell him that this PhD research was entirely Dr. Jadhav’s own idea, and that he could conduct it in India. And then, if he still persists further, tell him: Dr. Jadhav believes that this research of his could not have been done at any of the above mentioned places (MIT etc.)

    Once “you” are done, get in touch with Dr. Atanu Dey—he might entertain “you.” If he does, and provides the end-result of the interaction publicly, then I can assure “you” right away that I also certainly would entertain “you”.

    In the meanwhile, I realize that “you” and “your” friends (and some of Dr. Dey’s associates) would remain engaged in ridiculing me, even in mud-slinging. I have nothing to say in response to that—after all, I do believe in the principle of free speech.

    Dr. Atanu Dey, with this reply, I now abandon this thread. People who wish to communicate with me about this thread are welcome to write me an email or, better still, interact with me at any of my two blogs: my personal blog (link above), or at iMechanica.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • http://AjitJadhav.wordpress.com Dr. Ajit R. Jadhav

    Errata to my post above (November 2010 at 10:01 pm):

    1. Replace:

    “3. Then, to add the listener’s interest, add immediately later…”

    by:

    “3. Then, to keep the listener’s interest, add immediately later…”

    2. Replace:

    “4. Then, tell him that Dr. Jadhav believes that unless he were to get that first-in-200 years result at least implicitly, he himself could not have resolved the WPD.”

    by:

    “4. Then, tell him that Dr. Jadhav believes that unless he were to get that first-in-200 years result at least implicitly, he himself could not have thought of the approach that leads to his WPD resolution result.”

    Thus I stand corrected. I will let further/other errors here (and in the referred reply) remain as they are.

    –Ajit
    [E&OE]

  • larissa

    @JADHAV

    “First, I thought that apparently, you feel shy of naming me while replying to my comments. I also thought that such shyness was not really necessary. (I didn’t think of plagiarism because you talk on the same thread, and the general reader can still get which part had been written by me, and which part, by others.) [I could also keep aside my suspicion that you have not been taught that it is necessary to put quote marks while quoting others' passages. It could be a typo; I myself often commit these.]“

    What a sense of self-importance! Fine, I realize I often do not revise my comments after typing and forgot to place quotation marks around your comments, but still, my comments are clear enough and not rambling like yours, and I do not leave the reader scratching their heads as to the point I am trying to make!

    “…Now, if you thereby meant to enquire about my intellectual position, for most of them, visit this site: http://www.AynRand.org …”
    “… I first got it first-hand while still in school (about the same time when I finished reading Vivekananda’s prominent books, and yet, I got this not from him, but, as I said, more or less first-hand—the books I read supplied only the vocabulary/terminology part of it, not the observation or truth or validation part which I did completely on my own), then also heard it from the socialists and communists while I was in my early college years …”

    Your ideas come from Ayn Rand. That constitutes your bible? It is not my job to show here the limited intellectual horizon of one whose outlook has been shaped by the likes of Ayn Rand and “socialists and communists” as you put it, that has already been done by countless others. Regarding your claim that you read Vivekananda, that is also suspect as Vivekananda was against Ayn Rand’s way of thinking and argued for manly action, and he would have completely disapproved of the current governing ideology which strangulates India and would have urged people to oppose it. I have reason to suspect your reading comprehension, although you have accused me of lacking reading skills to be able to understand AYN RAND.

    “who seemed curious about India, and said that he was watching a lot of Hindi movies. I would be happy if people like him come to see this thread and get to realize *one* of the kind of people who I have faced in India, over the years—with such people sometimes holding the proverbial (or is it metaphorical? allegorical?) sword over my head: with my life literally dependent on the swings of their whims. It was near enough. And I am committed to see that it does not repeat—for me, or for others like me. *That* is the reason why I at all wrote this reply.”

    Again your comment is rambling such that I cannot make sense of what you are trying to say. You complained on another post that you were sure you would be rejected on matrimonial sites by “certain” people, even claiming discrimination on account of this. I found that amusing. Has it ever occurred to you that the cause might just be “you” judging from your sense of self-importance and pretensions to critical thinking on the basis of having read AYN RAND?

  • larissa

    Reading Dr.Jadhav’s comments, one can see the intellectual damage done by the “communists and socialists” who he takes as his mentors. Now we all realize that most Indians do not know much about their history as the State makes sure they are not educated about it apart from what the State chooses to indoctrinate them with. Apart from the great task of properly exposing Indians to the truths about their history and culture, how much greater is the task of undoing the intellectual damage done by the leftist dominance when it comes to indoctrination in schools and universities, an ongoing process!

  • larissa

    Hey Atanu,
    Singapore is in the news!

    Singapore Seen Overtaking Malaysia 45 Years After Lee’s Tears
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-10/singapore-seen-overtaking-malaysia-45-years-after-split-left-lee-in-tears.html

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