Atanu Dey On India's Development

January 17, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

A stage too big for the drama

On my way to India, I am in the university town of Leuven, close to Brussels. I have become quite a regular — last year I was here in February and then again in September. Along the way — I think it was on the flight from SFO to New Jersey — I caught a bug. I had a sore throat upon arrival at NJ and over the next few days it became a chest cold. By the time I left for Brussels, I was running a temperature (confirmed with a thermometer on board the flight) and I declared myself officially sick.
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January 8, 2014
by Atanu Dey
3 Comments

Leaving on a jet plane — the Jan 2014 edition

jetplane As the song goes, ” . . . I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again . . . ” I am off to strange and exotic places. For the first part of the journey, I will be in the East coast, arriving at Newark International on Friday and departing for Brussels next week Wednesday. Lots of places to see and people to meet. Here are the exciting details.
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January 5, 2014
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

Central Planners and Wooden Boards

central planning In my favourite Bruce Lee movie Enter the Dragon (which I have seen at least a dozen times) there’s a very telling scene. Just before a particular fight, Bruce Lee’s opponent, to demonstrate how awesomely tough he is, holds up a wooden board and with one swift punch smashes it to bits. Bruce Lee impassively looks him in the eye and calmly says, “Boards don’t hit back.”
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January 1, 2014
by Atanu Dey
17 Comments

Freedom is Incompatible with Free

I hear that the new Delhi government is promising free stuff — water and electricity. It warms the cockles of this economist’s heart. Actually, I lie. What it does is deepen poverty and make people more dependent. Socialists love people to be dependent on them. So what we have in store for India is continued poverty. But we must remember that this is a choice made by the people of India, not something that is imposed from some force outside India. India is poor because Indians choose poverty over freedom. So be it. As I say, it is all karma, neh? (This piece was published on Niti Central today.)
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January 1, 2014
by Atanu Dey
3 Comments

Individual Freedom and Bondage

0781_8477 First post of 2014 and therefore sets the tone for the rest of the year — freedom. Individual freedom. Actually, freedom is about individuals. Collectives are really an abstraction and in reality only individuals exist. So to say that a particular collective is free — Indians or Americans or Africans — what is really meant is that each individual in that collective is free. The question is: what is the individual free from? From coercion by other individuals. The following is an opinion piece published last month in Niti Central.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2014.
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December 17, 2013
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Leadership through inheritance is a compelling sign of a poor or a declining nation

Ruling a banana republic does not require special qualifications

Item: Captain John Wright, 58, is retiring as a senior pilot. He has had a distinguished flying career with 35 years of sitting in the left hand seat in the cockpit, much of it of heavies like the Boeing 747s and Airbus 340s. But it’s time that he hangs up his wings and retires from a job well done. Bluesky Air, the airline that Captain Wright served so competently, has announced that on Capt Wright’s retirement next month, his seat will be occupied by his son Jack. Jack will move from his job as a janitor at Burger King to be the chief pilot at Bluesky Air. He will fly the planes that his father flew.
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December 15, 2013
by Atanu Dey
4 Comments

Open Thread: Say what you will

Lots of interesting things happening around the world and in India. Those assembly elections were interesting — if you go for that sort of thing; I don’t. The expected death of that great South African leader Nelson Mandela. An interesting ruling by the Supreme Court of India, etc. It basically goes against the most important principle of human social behavior — don’t poke your nose into things that don’t concern you. You mind your expletive business and I will mind my expletive business. Be that as it may, here’s what I tweeted recently. Take a look at them. And leave a comment if there’s something on your mind that I should know about. Here are the tweets that may be interesting.
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December 12, 2013
by Atanu Dey
11 Comments

AAP: The transition to Nehruvian Socialism 2.0

Social media has a derogatory term for people who enthusiastically support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). They are called “AAPtards”. Perhaps retards is a little too extreme; maybe these people are merely seriously deluded, gullible, somewhat ignorant, easily misled, et cetera, et cetera. But that’s not the worst of it. Kejriwal is a serious threat to the possibility of India giving the Maino-led UPA a quick burial. Here’s why —
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December 9, 2013
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Oscar Wilde on Selfishness

oscar wilde “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one’s neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him.”

― Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man and Prison Writings

December 6, 2013
by Atanu Dey
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Disguised Apartheid is also Morally Repugnant like Naked Apartheid

Nelson Mandela’s death is an appropriate occasion to reflect on the fact that apartheid is no longer a state policy in South Africa. And also to recognize that the accounts of the death of apartheid are quite exaggerated.

What exactly is apartheid? The Merriam-Webster defines it as “a former social system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people.” It is the systematic and legally enforced segregation of people.
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December 2, 2013
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

Profiting from Conflict — The Monkey and the Cats

This question has bothered me for a long time: Why are there riots and other forms of social unrest in India? Are Indians intrinsically unsocial or is there a structural reason for this? What is it in its political makeup that there is inter-group conflict? I explored that question in a piece I wrote for Niti Central a few days ago. I am posting it here, for the record.
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December 1, 2013
by Atanu Dey
0 comments

Contributing for a public good

A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the road near the Parliament building in N Delhi. Nothing was moving. Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped the politicians. They’re asking for a Rs 1,000 crores ransom. Otherwise, they’re going to douse them all in petrol and set them on fire. We’re going from car to car collecting donations . . .”

“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks. The man replies, “Roughly two liters.”

November 26, 2013
by Atanu Dey
6 Comments

The Indian Constitution was adopted on Nov 26th, 1949.

The wiki entry says, “The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950, proclaiming India to be a sovereign, democratic republic. It contained the founding principles of the law of the land which would govern India after its independence from British rule. On the day the constitution came into effect, India ceased to be a dominion of the British Crown. The Indian constitution is the world’s longest constitution. At the time of commencement, the constitution had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. It consists of almost 80,000 words and took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to build.”

I have tried unsuccessfully to read the constitution. I could not understand it. Over the years I have asked thousands of educated Indians if they have read the Indian constitution and not one has claimed to have read it fully. A few have read parts of it, some only the preamble, and most have no idea what it is about except for that they know that it is the longest constitution in the world.
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November 23, 2013
by Atanu Dey
2 Comments

You cannot Parody a Parody

I have never made it is a secret that I find Bollywood unbearable. But I have to confess that I have watched the 1975 blockbuster Sholay a dozen times at least. Why? Because one particular sequence in it cracked me up something wicked. It is a traditional joke — someone ostensibly speaking in favor of a person but actually doing everything possible to undermine that person’s case. As a rhetorical device, it is deliciously persuasive because the humor hammers home the underlying message more effectively than straightforward speech.
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