Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Ram Guha on John Dreze

February 17, 2018

An inspiring profile of an economist!

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Two recent reads

January 17, 2018

A colleague of mine lent his copy of The myth of the holy cow. Interesting reading — especially, the piece by Ambedkar at the end of the book in the navayana edition I read.

I completed reading Sheldon Pollock’s Rasa Reader. A remarkable read even though it is a bit of a slow and at times difficult read. Enjoyed thoroughly; I am sure I will go back for at least sections of the book if not to re-read. Strongly recommended!

Here is a review and an Indian hard copy edition from Permanent Black is available which is not very costly!

Another fabulous podcast

December 7, 2017

History of Philosophy in India. Strongly recommended. Many episodes can be listened to more than once — just for the pleasure of appreciating the simple expositions of such complex concepts!

The private life of Mrs Sharma

October 9, 2017

Ratika Kapur’s novel is written very nicely. However, as Radhika Santhanam noted in her review in the Hindu, I also felt that the climax is totally out of whack!

A goddess in the stones: travels in India

September 3, 2017

By Norman Lewis is a very different travelogue. It is a frank report of an off-beat travel that Lewis made in the early nineties into the tribal belts of (the then) Bihar and Orissa. At times it is moving; sometimes it is frustrating that problems that were seen in these regions nearly 25 years ago are still there and in many places have probably become worse. A very interesting read which also makes you reflect on some of the current Indian predicaments. Strongly recommended.

Gandhi

February 28, 2017

Is very demanding! His speech at IISc in 1927.

Venky Ramakrishnan on high-impact vanity journals

January 15, 2017

On the other end is the pressure to publish in Science, Nature and Cell, what I call ‘high-impact vanity journals’. People are taking shortcuts to publish papers in these journals. So that’s also creating very bad pressures.

If you publish in a good, solid journal, if it is a nice piece of work it shouldn’t matter that it is not in some high-impact journals. It’s the failure of the system to evaluate the work rather than where it is published.

From the Hindu.

Economics and astrology

January 20, 2015

David J Griffiths in his Millikan lecture 1997: Is there a text in this class? makes the following statement:

People who believe in UFOs and astrology are, on the whole, merely pathetic, but those who think you can run a modern society without taxes are downright dangerous.

The piece of Ashok Desai in Telegraph reminded me of this statement of Griffiths; Desai has some recommendations to the prime minister:

Growth of manufacturing output has been close to zero in recent months; industrial investment is also negligible. Till six months ago, this could be blamed on the UPA government. Industrialists did so, and funded the Bharatiya Janata Party generously. But the economic environment has hardly improved; if it continues to be bad for another six months, the industry-BJP honeymoon will also turn sour. The Prime Minister’s solution – asking foreign businesses to come to India – will not solve the problem.

If he wants a serious answer, Raghuram Rajan gave one in his Bharat Ram memorial lecture. It is well thought-out. Rajan is in the wrong job. He should be finance minister; Jaitley might do a better job in external affairs. And for commerce and industry, the Prime Minister simply does not have a minister in his party; it calls for abolition or a radical reconstruction – what we used to call reforms two decades ago.

Economists do have ideologies, but are generally not party creatures. No respectable economist has Hindu nationalist inclinations: the ideology is mistaken according to economics. So it was no wonder that Jaitley made the first budget in India’s history without a chief economic advisor. Now he has one – a very good one – who organized a conference of economists in the first week of December. It was a good idea, but for the fact that the distinguished economists who had been flown in from abroad had little idea of the problems facing India.

But the planning commission has been emptied, and remains a shell. The Prime Minister has got one big office building close to his office, with no people in it. In my column of September 3, I suggested that he should create a think tank that would connect India’s 139 best economists with policymakers through an equal number of research assistants. It did not strike me then, but it would not work, because Modi’s ministers are largely incapable of using economists or research assistants. Meanwhile, we have the most desperate economic situation in 60 years, and the present government has to live through it. It is important in these difficult times that it should have the best judgment and counsel available to it. The Prime Minister should revive his predecessor’s Economic Advisory Council, appoint any economists he likes to it, and consult it frequently; he cannot do without economics.

A good piece!

Three ways to be alien of Sanjay Subrahmanyam

December 15, 2012

This is the first time I have read Subrahmanyam though I have heard about him sometime back. I enjoyed the book — though the reading is a bit slow due to the foot notes, quotes and unfamiliar ideas. Recommended. And, I have already ordered his Mughal history book and connected history volumes.

Kannadiga-ness of R K Narayan

October 6, 2012

Ram Guha on xenophobia in Karnataka:

I was reminded of Gandhi’s polemical words when reading about a protest by some well-known Kannada writers against the proposal to make R.K. Narayan’s home in Mysore a memorial to his life and work. Fifteen writers — among them the lexicographer G. Venkatasubbaiah, the poet G.S. Shivarudrappa, the novelist S. L. Bhyrappa, and the critic L. S. Sheshagiri Rao — argued that since Narayan was born in Chennai and spent his early years there, and since even while he lived in Mysore he wrote in English, he was not really a Kannadiga, and thus the government of Karnataka need not spend money honouring his memory. Narayan, complained these writers, “never introduced any Kannada work to the outside world through an English translation.” Narayan’s betrayal apparently ran further; he was guilty, it was said, of selling the scripts of his novels to an American university rather than gifting them gratis to a university in Karnataka.

Of course, the saving grace is there too!

the angry chauvinists of Karnataka have been put in place by two men who are the best-known, and perhaps also the most greatly admired, Kannada writers now living. The playwright, Girish Karnad, asked to comment on the statement signed by Bhyrappa, Sheshagiri Rao, et al, pointed out that “Narayan lived in Mysore, wrote about Malgudi, a place he created [out of towns and locations in Karnataka].” Therefore, to say that he was not a Kannadiga was “absurd”. Karnad’s words were weighty enough; and here they were endorsed by his great contemporary U.R. Anantha Murthy. “Anyone who lives here and writes on the state is a citizen of Kannada,” remarked Anantha Murthy. He thought it “very mean on the part of those who have said Narayan is not a Kannadiga.”

Take a look!