Janus’ Musings

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Social

Choice

leave a comment »

Further to my previous post, while the dispute in Bengal rages on land and fair compensation for Tata’s Nano factory, Anand Giridhardas has another superb article on what this means from the farmer’s point of view.

I am guilty of thinking this was much ado about nothing – some farmers agreed to sell; they get money for the land. They can’t change their mind. Certainly those whose land was taken away without their consent deserve it back – but the main issue remains, we in the cities think the farmers are getting a good deal and they should grab it. As Anand says:

In the prosperous cities, they sneered: Don’t they get it? They want land, not money? But the urban sneerers were early adopters. They may not realize it, but they live on a grid of advantages. They have bank accounts. They know how to invest. They have the ethic of thrift and saving that moneyed families pass down the generations.

The late adopters live in an economy of land, a universe where barter still operates, where status and prestige and security still come from the earth, and where the choice to join an urban, moneyed existence feels ever less like a meaningful choice.

Advertisements

Written by janusmusings

September 15, 2008 at 11:41 am

Posted in Asia, India

Tagged with

Insular?

leave a comment »

For people who have been looking at India for a long time can discern a noticeable change – the country is becoming insular – as long as we’re getting our latest mobile phones and LCD TVs, it doesn’t really matter where the rest of the world is going. This is also true in the US – they are very insular, really not caring about the World outside – there is the US and then there’s everybody else. Perhaps it is a sign of confidence of a country – we don’t need you guys anymore, we’re pretty much self-contained.

More importantly, the middle class and above have become disenchanted with politics and politicians. This is a worrying trend – political power has shifted to the rural population and we urbanites have accepted it and moved on.

Anand Giridhardas writing in the IHT talks about these changes:

The great fault line today is not between wealthy and poor, but between those still invested in this society and those who have effectively checked out.

The checked-out classes love to read feel-good stories. The newspapers oblige, burying news about flooding and hunger and millions of easily averted deaths, depriving India’s change agents of knowledge of what needs changing.

The comfortable follow politics the way others follow heavyweight boxing. Over Black Labels with soda and ice, they grumble about spectacles like the ideas-free parliamentary debate. But they rarely vote, rarely run for office themselves and rarely work to reverse things. The disinterest of the thinking classes frees politicians to play their game unsupervised, with the pesky duty every five years to gather the consent of the unlettered poor.

Written by janusmusings

September 15, 2008 at 11:19 am

Posted in Asia, India

Tagged with

Demographics and the future

leave a comment »

Demographics play an important role in determining the future of nations and their evolution. Europe has seen a declining birth rate and it’s certain that at least in our life time we will see the decline of Europe and the emergence of Asia along with America as a dominant political and economic force. Given the surging oil prices and the projection of them touching $200 by year end of course brings in one more group as a force – the Middle East.

India’s demographics is “heavy” around the centre – meaning that most of her people are young, China’s demographic is heavy around the top – a sign of aging population and that’s one of the reason experts maintain that India will probably overtake China politically and economically.

But the demographics of the Middle East have been largely ignored. There is an older article (which is now a centre of a free speech argument) which puts a point across quite well that we have a lot to fear from this group.

Written by janusmusings

June 12, 2008 at 11:50 am

Posted in Asia, India, Middle East

Tagged with

Monkey Brain?

leave a comment »

All the papers have been reporting on a paper published in Nature on how researches have inserted sensors into the head of a monkey who was able to control a robotic arm to feed itself using it’s brain waves. Remarkable!!

Such systems, Dr. Kalaska wrote, “would allow patients with severe
motor deficits to interact and communicate with the world not only by
the moment-to-moment control of the motion of robotic devices, but also
in a more natural and intuitive manner that reflects their overall
goals, needs and preferences.”


Perhaps this could be used for this person – very tragic.

Written by janusmusings

May 30, 2008 at 3:26 am

Posted in Technology

Tagged with

Malthus – a false prophet?

leave a comment »

A lot has been written about how wrong Malthus was with his theory and how all is well with the population v/s food balance in the world. The recent increase in food prices has helped re-ignite that debate and the Economist calls Malthus a “false prophet”. I have a few disagreements:

  1. Malthus first set out his ideas in 1798!!! Given the time, I think his study was probably way ahead of his time.
  2. In 1803, Malthus published a second edition of his essay and softened the tone by introducing the concept of a “preventive check” – saying the problem could be averted if the birth/death rates changed voluntary. Again, way ahead of his time!
  3. This was pre-industrialization and pre-green revolution so when these happened people came to the conclusion that Malthus was wrong.
  4. However, the statistics today show more than ever that Malthus was right about the “preventive check”. World population growth has reduced to an annual rate of 1.2% – probably the slowest ever.

This leads me to believe that maybe Malthus had it wrong in the 1798 essay but probably got it right in the 1803. Without a preventive check we will have a problem and that should be a warning to everyone. Increased productivity of food through better use to technology can only go so far.

Written by janusmusings

May 30, 2008 at 2:24 am

Posted in Lies Damned lies and Statistics

Tagged with

Unbalanced success

leave a comment »

It is really unfortunate that we have been able to translate the success that corporate India ha enjoyed recently down to the poor. I am not sure what is the point of this success if 80% of the people don’t benefit. How many of us have turned our face away when we have seen beggars on streets, sometimes saying that they were part of a “gang” who make a lot of money.

Amelia Gentleman writing in the IHT, talks about one such have and have-not story somewhere near her home in Delhi. Very touching but I guess most of us Indians prefer to look the other way then actually help. Specifically, we’d rather feed stray dogs than human beings:

There is a kind woman who parks her car near my gate once a day to distribute parcels of rice, neatly wrapped in newspaper, to the wild and possibly rabid dogs who roam the quiet street in this rich part of central Delhi. She caresses them and addresses them by name. One mangy yellow, malevolent animal she calls Bruno.It is an act of generosity that I still find confusing. Around the corner, sitting by the traffic lights, is a family of four, which receives no rice parcels. The mother, Sayari, is bony thin, and the children’s matted hair has a dull orange tint, a sign of the malnutrition affecting nearly half of all under-fives in India.

Written by janusmusings

May 14, 2008 at 4:56 am

Posted in Asia, India

Tagged with

Globalization Part 2

leave a comment »

Globalization was supposed to bring down national borders – the world would be flat. Everyone celebrated the fact that government had taken a back seat to markets. The markets had won. Now it seems, nationalism is on the rise given the effects of globalization

The rising influence of governments can be seen in massive state-funded investment pools, many backed by countries that were reeling financially a decade ago. Sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Middle East are now propping up wobbly financial institutions in the U.S. and Europe, and may hunt next for real-estate bargains. The growth of state power may also serve to make dealing with global climate change — the most borderless of all issues — even more difficult.

Written by janusmusings

April 28, 2008 at 11:01 am

Posted in Trade

Tagged with