Atanu Dey On India's Development

August 5, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Whose money is it anyway?

Milton Friedman used to elegantly distinguish between four ways of spending money. First, when you spend your own money on yourself, you are very careful to get the most benefit for your buck. After all, it is your money and you know what you want for yourself. Second, when you spend your own money on someone else. Here too you carefully economize to meet your objective but since you don’t know the other person’s needs as well as you do your own needs, your spending may not be as optimal for the other person. Third, you spend other people’s money on yourself. In this case, your incentive to economize is certainly blunted. You are much more concerned with getting the best and less with what it will cost.

Finally, when you spend other people’s money on someone else. That is, you transfer resources from one group to another group. In such cases, economizing goes out the window, and what is worse, you promote your own ends rather than the ends of those whose money you are spending or those who are the ostensible beneficiaries of the transfer. The most ubiquitous example of this is what he calls the “distributor of welfare funds” — taxpayers money being spent by government officials for welfare. Here’s Friedman in his own words:
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July 15, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Mises on Bureaucracy

“The characteristic feature of present-day policies is the trend toward a substitution of government control for free enterprise. Powerful political parties and pressure groups are fervently asking for public control of all economic activities, for thorough government planning, and for the nationalization of business. They aim at full government control of education and at the socialization of the medical profession. There is no sphere of human activity that they would not be prepared to subordinate to regimentation by the authorities. In their eyes, state control is the panacea for all ills.”

Ludwig von Mises. “Bureaucracy”. Page 4. Yale University Press. New Haven. 1944.

June 25, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Indira Gandhi Imposed “Emergency” on June 25th, 1975

Thirty-nine years have passed since that day when Indira Gandhi decided that Indians had enough of “democracy” and it was time that she dictated to them. Indians did what they have always been good at: they obeyed. Instead of resisting, they obeyed. Our problem, as Howard Zinn used to say, is not civil disobedience; our problem is civil obedience.

Emergency ended on 23rd March, 1977. Did the people learn much? No. She won a landslide victory and once again became the prime minister in January 1980. She was right: the people did not deserve freedom. The people believed that they were free but in truth it was — and still is — an illusion. Frank Zappa said it best. “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

Indira Gandhi was an evil person. Indians suffered much because of her and her spawn. However it was well-deserved. It’s all karma, neh?

Note: The source of that Howard Zinn quote is from an opening statement in a 1972 debate at Johns Hopkins. Read the transcript here.

Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; . . . Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

I agree. For the record I should state that I agree with Zinn on many, but not all, matters.

Speaking of obedience, do read this post: THE POLITICS OF OBEDIENCE: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude.

And finally, here’s Matt Damon reading excerpts from the transcript of Howard Zinn’s speech:

June 16, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Where is #LooteriBahu these days?

This screen capture of an India Today tweet is from just six months ago but feels like much longer. Posted here for the record.

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Where is Waldo?

The link above leads to “Stick to huffing and puffing: Congress’ Manish Tewari reacts to Huffington Post’s story on Sonia’s wealth”.

Also see, “Sonia Gandhi worth $2 billion, richer than Queen Elizabeth“.

{By the way, if you hold the cursor over the links above for a second, it will show brief quotes from those reports.}

June 10, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

If you had the luck of the Indians . . .

If you had the luck of the Indians
You’d be sorry and wish you were dead.
If you had the luck of the Indians
You’d wish you was English instead!

I have substituted “Indians” for “Irish” in the song “The Luck of the Irish” by John Lennon.

I was born and brought up in India. By most measures, I did get a decent schooling in India. But my education did not expose me to any even remotely accurate version of history. What little “history” was taught was a heap of lies over a handful of selected politically correct sanitized facts about India’s past. The horrors that the Islamic invaders and the European colonial rulers of India committed on Indians were carefully hidden.
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June 6, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Discussion on “India’s Transformation” in the South Bay — Sunday 8th June

I am meeting an informal group of people who are interested in India’s economic growth. It is on Sunday 8th June at 4:30 PM in Sunnyvale, CA. The discussion will focus around India’s future trajectory and what are possible barriers to the real transformation of India.

Sierra Madre Conference Room.
Plug N Play,
440 N Wolfe Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA, 94085

RSVP if you wish to come to the event:
Akshar Prabhu Desai

May 21, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Narendrabhai Modi, the Man who will Transform India

MWSnap076 India’s Phase Transition

Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s administration can be considered to be a “phase transition” for India’s economy, to borrow a concept from thermodynamics. Phase transitions are abrupt, often discontinuous changes in systems that alter the degrees of freedom available to it. A familiar example of such a transition is the change from ice to water. Under Modi’s administration, India’s phase transition is likely to be from an economically bound state to an economically free state.
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April 30, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Hi from Brussels

I am back in Brussels. Accurately speaking, I am in Leuven. I arrived at Brussels airport this morning from Mumbai (Jet Airways). It was overcast and 10 degrees Celsius on arrival at 7:30 AM. Quite a change from 35+ degrees C in Mumbai. Tomorrow is the start of a road trip to Marseilles and Nice for three days. Cheers.

April 20, 2014
by Atanu Dey

The Indian Constitution – Part 1

So far I have asked around 10,000 Indians if they have read the Indian Constitution. Not one of them admitted to having read it. A few say yes initially but when probed a bit admit that they haven’t really read the whole thing. Some claim to have read the preamble. That is like saying that they have seen the movie merely because they have seen the ad in the newspaper or have had lunch because they checked out the lunch menu.
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April 16, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

A New Kind of Test

TIME has a brief piece on an interesting change in what the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) tests. “Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to breeze through vocab sections, matching a word with definition B by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word means.”

April 12, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Who Killed Indians at Jallianwala Bagh?

Today is the anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, was a seminal event in the British rule of India. On 13 April 1919, a crowd of non-violent protesters, along with Baishakhi pilgrims, had gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh garden in Amritsar, Punjab to protest the arrest of two leaders despite a curfew which had been recently declared. On the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. The dead numbered between 370 and 1,000, or possibly more. [Wiki.]

The picture on the left shows the narrow passage to Jallianwala Bagh Garden through which the shooting was conducted. The question is: who killed those hundreds of Indians — men, women and little children — in cold blood at the orders of Gen Dyer? They were Indians. Indians killed Indians mercilessly, in cold blood. They always do. Indians kill Indians and help foreigners rule India. Here’s some evidence that you must read to understand that point.
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March 25, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Notes on GDP, money and wealth

Considering how ubiquitous talk about GDP and growth rates is, it is noteworthy that as a concept it is of fairly recent vintage. The idea of having a measure of the “income” of a country was invented by the American economist Simon Kuznets for use in a US Congressional report in 1934. The “product” part of gross domestic product refers to the production of goods and services. It is an aggregate measure–and hence a macroeconomic measure. It is a measure of the total amount of goods and services that an economy produces. Full disclosure: I am not a macroeconomist and find the subject painfully boring. But here I am only discussing the limited idea of GDP.
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March 16, 2014
by Atanu Dey
1 Comment

Happy Holi

Wishing you all an enjoyable Holi. Like all Hindu festivals, this one has multiple meanings. I cannot vouch for the accuracy but this site has some information on what Holi is about. Here’s a video of a Holi celebrations in 2012 in Utah. The creators of this video, The Good Line, say, “This was filmed in Spanish Fork, Utah (of all places). The Hari Krishna temple holds this festival every March. It has grown into the largest Holi celebration in the western hemisphere. Everybody is more than welcome to come!” (Vimeo.) The videography is spectacular.

February 26, 2014
by Atanu Dey

Maha Shivratri Greetings from Mumbai

Today is Maha Shivratri — Great night of Shiva. Shiva (the auspicious one) is known by many names — Mahadeva or Mahesh (the great god), Bholenath (the simple god since he is an ascetic), Parameshwara (the supreme god), and Nataraja (the king of dance). I am partial to Shiva as the Nataraj. He dances the Tandava, the dance of destruction and creation.

The image of the Nataraja above is from CERN headquarters. Click on the image for more details.