Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Saraswati Rane song 1943

Shorter version
According to Vinayak Razdan, Mahatma Gandhi watched this film.
Jagalbandi with her sister Hirabai Barodekar, both daughters of Ustal Abdul Karim Khan

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Vasundhara Devi song 1943

from the Tamil film Mangammasabadham. I think she sang her own songs in the film.
More about the film by Randor Guy. Her daughter Vyjayantimala is better known. Music by S. Rajeswara Rao; it seems quite a few tunes were copied. There is also a  Hindi version of the film later, Mangala (1950)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Secretive scientists

Dr. Mercola  in a detailed post 'First-Ever Lifetime Feeding Study...' writes "The research was considered so "hot" that the work was done under strict secrecy. According to a French article in Le Nouvel Observateur,2 the researchers used encrypted emails, phone conversations were banned, and they even launched a decoy study to prevent sabotage!" This is about the same research discussed towards the end of the previous post. Russia has temporarily banned Mosanto's genetically modified corn and the French government is calling for a health agency investigation. The dubious tactics of the scientists may hopefully lead to long term studies of the effects of GM foods.

P.S. From Nature News Rat study sparks GM furore and Nature editorial.

P.P.S. (29th September) Another twist in tale; many science writers who wrote about the paper might not have read it. From The Guardian article 'Study Linking GM maize to cancer must be taken seriously by regulators' quotes a Camridge scientist:
""Like most of the GM debate, this work has very little to do with GM. The authors of the paper do not suggest that the effects are caused by genetic modification. They describe effects of the roundup herbicide itself and effects that they attribute to the activity of the enzyme introduced into the roundup resistant maize."
Update 30th September See also the post at Respectful Insolence.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Misc. links September 26, 2012

On Academic Publishing by Hugh Gusterson "So why not try this: If academic work is to be commodified and turned into a source of profit for shareholders and for the 1 percent of the publishing world, then we should give up our archaic notions of unpaid craft labor and insist on professional compensation for our expertise, just as doctors, lawyers, and accountants do."
Econo Trolls: An Illustrated Bestiary Abstract "In your journey through the Econ Blogosphere, you will be beset by a great many curious and interesting species of EconoTroll. At first you may be intimidated by their voluminous use of insider jargon, their rough-and-tumble personal attacks, their strenuous insistence that you read the complete works of their movements' founders before participating in any discussion, and above all their sheer persistence and apparent surplus of spare time. But fear not, noble traveler, for I have taken it upon myself to create this Illustrated Bestiary, in order to prepare you for (most of) the characters you will encounter on your way..."
Shades of Antony: Sheila Bair says that Timothy Geithner is an honorable man.
Bronte Capital's sahort waves(via Information Processing). Excerpts:
"Bronte has a strong track record picking Chinese frauds on global exchanges in sectors including cement, travel, medical products and education. By its estimates, it has successfully shorted more than 40 Chinese stocks.
“We really do have a hard time finding one that is honest, and we sincerely want to so we can hedge our short positions. There are a lot of good things going on in China. But the good things just don’t get shown to Western investors.”"
""To maintain its risk-management strategy, Bronte needs to find one or two fraudulent stocks a week. Hempton and Maher say there are enough targets, and they have no trouble finding them at this rate. The proliferation of apparent stockmarket fraud – or as Maher calls it, “unwarranted and excessive promotion” – leads one to question if regulators are doing a good enough job to protect investors.
Despite the Trio experience, Hempton has sympathy with the market watchdogs. “If we are 90 per cent right on a company we suspect is a fraud, we make a lot of money,” he says. “But if a regulator is 90 per cent right, they end up with a royal commission, a rap on the knuckles and they all lose their jobs.”"
"E. coli bacteria growing in a flask in a lab for nearly 25 years have learned to do something no E. colihas done since the Miocene epoch: eat a chemical called citrate in the presence of oxygen. "
and a longer version in The Loom.

Carl Zimmer : Journalists should not let themselves be played This time from anti-GM crowd "But those outside experts were slow to comment in part because reporters who got to see the paper in advance of the embargo had to sign a confidentiality agreement to get their hands on it. They weren’t allowed to show it to other experts."

P.S.(27th September) While Carl Zimmer makes good points in the last link above, he refers to another Discover blog post " Scicurious has a good roundup of the problems at Discover’s The Crux." But reading the Scicurious post, it seems that she might have misread the paper; see comments 26 and 27. She also quotes frequently experts from Science Media Centre whose credentials are not clear. Here is the link to the press release of the Science Media Centre. More reports with links to the paper here and here. From the last report:
"Despite being conducted on the other side of the world, the study has electoral implications in the United States — particularly in California. 
Proposition 37, which will appear on California's ballot in the November election, would require companies to label "food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways."..........
Monsanto has already poured about $7 million into a campaign to defeat Prop 37.'

Monday, September 24, 2012

One more tribute to Verghese Kurien

by Tushaar Shah in EPW. One excerpt:
"Kurien’s most significant contribution was in prevailing upon successive prime ministers to keep multinational dairy companies out of India for 30 years while our own indigenous dairy industry took root and came into its own. But for this grace period, the complexion of Indian dairying today would have been very different. To understand how different, all one needs to do is to walk into a grocer’s shop in Colombo, Dhaka or ­Lahore and ask for a local brand of packaged milk or product. There is hardly any local dairy industry or indigenous dairy brand in any other south Asian country – the bulk of the urban demand for dairy products in these countries is met by milk from New Zealand even as their own local milk producers crave for a remunerative market. On the other hand, one can pick up several indigenous co­operative and ­private brands of packaged milk and other dairy products in any ­Indian town or city.
Kurien’s thinking is particularly relevant today in the context of the ongoing debate on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. If what FDI has done to the indigenous dairy industry in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is any indication, FDI in multi-brand ­retail may not augur well for Indian agriculture unless there is some way to ­ensure that the new players source the bulk of their farm products locally
Kurien was deeply wedded to the co­operative ideal. He believed that putting the farmer in control of production, procurement, processing and marketing of farm produce was the only way to develop Indian agriculture. He also espoused the view that strong cooperatives underpin democratic governance structures at the state and central level. However, he also believed that the cooperative movement in India suffered from a poverty of ideas. He accepted international cooperative principles as the normative basis for cooperation but questioned if adhering to these principles ensured success of cooperatives.
In the dairy cooperative movement, Kurien ensured that there was no poverty of ideas. In replicating Amul under Operation Flood I and II, Kurien distilled a set of elegant and compelling design principles derived from the success of several early dairy unions of Gujarat: First, the presence of a stable and remunerative market is a precondition for surplus milk production. Second, one must capture the market before organising producers into cooperatives. Third, initially externally sourced milk supplies need to be used to capture the market while cooperatives are being established. Fourth, as the market is captured, extant traditional trade is forced to withdraw and surplus milk in the villages has ­nowhere to go but to the newly-formed cooperatives. Fifth, for sustaining a distinctive competitive advantage, a cooperative union must have a powder plant to deal with seasonal fluctuations in milk production. Sixth, for the new structure to remain efficient and subservient to producers, it needs to be managed by professionals accountable to a board elected by producers."
" I am a damn native"says Kurien in this documentary  on the occasion of nintieth birthday:
Shyam Benegal made a documentary Manthan in 1976 available on YouTube, which I have not watched yer. Waiting for somebody who is also interested and who can translate the dialogues.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More on Manto

Manto: An Author of Tales for Children by Josh Shahryar, his journey from trying to understand the women in the balcony of the song Deewana Aadmi Ko Banati frpom Kali Topi Lal Rumal to his discovery of Manto and how he finally understood about the women on the balcony:
"I knew the truth.
The women on the balcony were taking money to have sex with men. It was of course wrong to do it – but they were victims of the society I was growing up in.
I didn’t know what sex meant. I did know it had to do something with the mullahs being alone with the boys who went to read Quran with them at night. And whatever it was, it was too shameful. Too shameful to ever be mentioned by anyone – except for when my dad had to tell me why he couldn’t send me to the mosque to study like the other kids: “You won’t understand!”
And it’s true that I didn’t know. Couldn’t know. Not until I read Manto."
Another by Ali Sethi linked in 3quarksdaily with a comment by Ruchira on Manto's move to Pakistan:
"I don't know that in 1947 any Hindu or Muslim crossing over to the other side could be termed entirely opportunistic. Perhaps there was some of that but for most, the reigning sentiments must have been fear, uncertainty and a sense of betrayal. .....Manto was a complicated man, a man of a very sharp sense of his own literary worth. He was also brilliant. He did face discrimination as a Muslim at the Bombay film studio where he was employed at the time. His relatives including his wife were scared of the newly changed circumstances. So who knows what else other than opportunism motivated him to move to Pakistan. That he was supremely unhappy afterwards is undeniable and Manto himself made no secret of that sorrow."
Who knows what little things contributed. In the cineplot write up on Noor Jehan, Arunkumar Deshmukh comments on the the role of Baburao Patel ib the departure of Shaukat Hussain and Noor Jehan to Pakistan.

More street dances from films-1

With Kumkum, both from Kaali Topi Lal Rumal (1959)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ananyo Maitra's criteria

In a wonderful comment in a post on nuclear power, Ananyo Maitra says:
"In summary, the commissioning agency has to a) hold extensive, informed local consultation for any project, in the planning phase b) Be open, and clear about dangers, and safety measures c) Quantitatively and qualitatively prove the advantage, and demonstrate whom the advantage accrues to d) be answerable to queries from the people likely to be affected by the said project. This might sound idealistic, utopian, and plain stupid. But ignoring this is not only undemocratic, but leads to a development path which leads to rising income disparity, and increasing difference in social indicators."
There seems to be problems with 'quantitatively and qualitatively probe the advantage'. Comparing the methodologies of  different groups of researchers in 'Constructing Facts: BT cotton Narratives in India', Glenn Davis Stone says:
"While writing in the triumph tradition appears in many nonpeer-reviewed sources, most of it refers to peer-reviewed research that is at the centre of the authentication system. This research distinguishes itself on the quality of its facts, based on agreed-on conventions of evidence and peer review. 
Yet facts do not fall simply onto a linear scale of quality. Even in peer-reviewed literatures, conventions on what constitutes significance and empirical support vary between disciplines and schools of thought; conventions also vary through time."
and goes on to point out  'selection bias' and 'cultivation bias' are ignored in peer reviewed work "A study on Bt cotton impacts is unlikely to be panned for ignoring selection and cultivation biases if the referees ignore the same biases in their own work. In this way, authors, referees, and journals implicitly collude in ignoring biases. The second benefit for journals is obviously 
that this collusion in overlooking potentially disqualifying biases allows them to attract more manuscripts on a hotly debated topic, with favourable effects on their impact factor."
And "... we should expect no letting up in the dichotomous flow of claims about this crucial case. "
Stone also mentions that the debate is only theoretical, it is mostly BT cotton in India now. Bush Jr is supposed to have said:
"That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
P.S. See also The Lie Factory on how health care campaigns of Earl Warren and Harry Truman were lost.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

India's New Policy on Retailers

NY Times Skepticism and Caution Greet India's New Policy on Retailers:
"Wal-Mart, which with an Indian partner has 17 wholesale stores in India, is expected to be the biggest immediate beneficiary of the new policies, which will allow it to take a 51 percent stake in an Indian retail operation."
I noticed a 2006 article in Frontline:
"A SUCCESSFUL Indo-United States agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was undoubtedly the centrepiece of the visit of President George W. Bush. But several other important bilateral agreements and initiatives were also concluded. All these, including the nuclear agreement, essentially flowed from the Joint Statement of July 18, 2005, by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the latter's visit to the U.S. 

While there is reason to be more than satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations on the nuclear front, many elements in the initiatives in the areas of agriculture and economic cooperation, in particular the Indo-U.S. Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture (KIA), could be inimical to the national interest. 

The KIA was formalised through a joint declaration in November 2005, which stated that its objective was to promote teaching, research, service and commercial linkages to address contemporary challenges. This, it envisioned, would be carried out through "public-private partnerships" that will "facilitate technology transfer, bolster agricultural research, education and extension and strengthen trade and regulatory capacity building." 

A Board constituted in December 2005, with representatives from both countries, adopted this February a three-year work plan to achieve what it has termed an "Evergreen Revolution" based on "environmentally sustainable, market-oriented agriculture". 

Significantly, for this "market-oriented" agricultural research and education, the U.S. representation on the Board includes American multinationals Monsanto and Wal-Mart. "

P.S. Jayati Ghosh is skeptical. Entertaining Research has links to articles by Siddarth Varadarajan and Sitaram Yechury.

A lively Punjabi song from Posti (1951)

Music director Sardul Kwatra; his interesting story here:
"Sardul disclosed that he has always been a highly romantic person and his best tunes were composed during various episodes of romancing.
 ....Sardul Kwatra said that he was a great admirer of the femininity and beauty of “Shyama” and Shyama was a natural dancer, who will instantly start dancing to the tune composed. Sardul never touched Shyama, but being a silent admirer, he created some of the most everlasting Punjabi tunes.
.....Sardul used to admit that he did not have the courage to even formally shake hands with Suraiya. His romanticism revolved around secret admiration of Suraiya and that was enough to induce him into composing soulful tunes to be sung by Suraiya. On the day of the demise of Suraiya, Sardul was in uncontrollable tears. He was recollecting the precious moments he spent in her company in Bombay."
Many interesting songs in the film and Koday Shah (1953) on YouTube. Three Suraiya songs from Goonj (1952) here

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The man who fired Alan Greenspan

Michel Hudson fired Greenspan long ago:"I was a 25 year old economist at the time and he hardly new me at all, so I was the guy that…subsequently became known as ‘the man who fired Alan Greenspan’"
From the Wikipedia entry, he has impressive credentials "Hudson's April 2006 Harper's cover story, “The $4.7 Trillion Pyramid: Why Social Security Won’t Be Enough to Save Wall Street,” helped defeat the Bush administration’s attempt to privatize Social Security by showing its aim of steering wage withholding into the stock market to reflate stock market prices for the benefit of insiders and speculators – and to sell to the pension funds. His May 2006 Harper's cover story, “The New Road to Serfdom: An illustrated guide to the coming real estate collapse,” was the first major national article forecasting - in precise chart form - the bursting of the real estate bubble and its consequences for homeowners and state and local government solvency.[4] The November 2008 “How to Save Capitalism” issue of Harper's includes an article by Hudson on the inevitability of a large write-off of debts and the savings they back."
His 2006 article predicting housing bubble is here. Yet I have rarely heard of him except in some discussions of "Debt" by David Graber. In view of the above history, his current views may be worth considering. Here is an interview with him summarizing ideas of his new book and a discussion in Naked Capitalism
Michael Hudson on How Finance Capital Leads to Debt Servitude

A Sadhona Bose song?

 which also has brief biography of her. The song also appears in Atul's blog, where Arunkumar Deshmukh comments that the singer may be Suprabha Ghosh/Sarkar. She did sing in earlier films (1937). Apparently, she was a talented dancer, choreographer and produced ballets. From a 1981 article (via)by Debu Mazumdar “For men of my generation Sadhana Bose was as great a dancer as the woman she was — a living legend and the ‘toast of India’s gilded youth,’ so to say. She was a remarkably beautiful woman, a highly talented dancer and musician and a top-notch glamour girl of the screen. She was a trend-setter in the world of fashion, (the shimmering satin sari and glossy red lipstick, for example) in the same way as the legendary Harlow was in Hollywood those days.”"
Her best known film seems to be Raj Nartaki (1941) and both Richard and Memsaab wrote about it. Shovana Narayan who started learning kathak from Sadhona Bose writes about here here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The role of connections in academia; the case of Spain

From VoxEu:
"Before 2002, Spanish public universities had a large degree of autonomy regarding hiring and promotion decisions. This system was associated with extensive inbreeding, generating public concerns about the potential existence of favouritism. In 2002, the government limited the autonomy of universities and introduced a system of centralised competitions known as habilitación. The new system required candidates to full and associate professor positions to qualify in a national competition held at the discipline level. To guarantee transparency, evaluators were selected out of the pool of eligible professors in the discipline using a random lottery.

The introduction of centralised competitions with random assignment of evaluators to committees per se does not seem to eliminate the problem of favouritism. If anything, it introduces an element of randomness relative to who benefits from connections and who gets ultimately promoted. It also favours candidates with many strong connections, such as candidates from large universities. Our work might be also interpreted as additional evidence in favour of a radical change in the way higher education is organised in continental Europe. The analysis of Aghion et al. (2010) suggests that a combination of competition and autonomy would make European universities more productive. According to this view, Europe needs to move from a system of rules to one of incentives, whereby it is in the interest of universities to appoint and promote the most productive individuals (Perotti 2002).
Our analysis does not provide an answer about which of these alternatives, more rules or incentives, would yield better outcomes. Nevertheless, it illustrates the limitations of a system of centralised competitions where evaluators (and universities) do not internalise the consequences of their decisions."

Glenn Stone on BT cotton narratives in India

In some of the narratives which involve lots of technical stuff, it is difficult to follow what is what after a while. In some areas like GM foods, I have developed trust in some writers and generally try to follow the guidelines provided.This too changes with time and I started being careful with George Monbiot's writings after what I felt was his hasty reversal on nuclear power. In GM writings, I have been generally following the writings of Glenn Davis Stone, David Andow and writings from organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists. Here is the latest article on BT cotton in India from Glenn Stone "Constructing Facts: BT cotton narratives in India". Abstract:

"A group of researchers and industry writers have constructed a narrative of technological triumph for Bt cotton in India, based on an empirical record of superior performance compared to conventional seed. Counterclaims of Bt cotton failure are attributed to mutually reinforcing interactions among non-governmental organisations which avoid rigorous comparisons. However, researchers and the biotechnology industry are also engaged in a similar authentication loop for generating, validating, and publicising such facts. With Bt cotton, the convention of routinely ignoring the effects of selection bias and cultivation bias benefits researchers, journals and the industry, but keeps us from drawing meaningful conclusions about the relative performance of the technology. But as poor as the case for isolating the technology impact of Bt cotton in India has been, it is useful in helping us understand the social conventions for creating one's "own facts"."

The article is also available at his site. He also has a blog fieldquestions but there is no discussion of the article yet though similar things have been discussed before.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rohiniprasad Kodavatiganti

passed away in Mumbai at the age of 63. From
"Rich tributes were paid to the renowned scientist, science writer, musician and man of many facets Kodavatiganti Rohini Prasad who breathed his last in Mumbai, at a meeting organised by Jana Sahiti, Praja Sahiti, Jana Vijanana Vedika, SriSri Sahitya Nidhi, Virasam and others here on Sunday.Dr Anjaiah, Professor of Social Scienes, Nagarjuna University, said Rohini Prasad started aggressive writing post-retirement. He produced seven volumes, 343 published articles which showed his talent and stamina.

Inspite of ill health, he strove hard to spread scientific temper among people.He used to call on Jana Sahiti first to find out whether they were able to publish his latest book on science. "If they expressed their inability to bring out the low-cost edition, then only he would contacted other publishers," he recalled. That was his commitment to spread science, he added.

Rohini Prasad believed that science was basically committed to equality, he observed. There were a very few science writers who could produce books to bring science closer to people, he said and added that Mahidhara Nalini Mohan was among those few.Krishna, poet and member of Virasam, said that whether Rohini Prasad was in the United States or in Mumbai, he used to follow the latest poetry in Telugu."
I met him a few times and we used to exchange information about books. One of his messages last year was' books I read recently':
"One is given below:


2 on anthropology by Richard Leakey. One by Steohen Jay Gould on Darwinism.

I have Ascent of Man by Bronowski in book form as well as 13 episode DVDs.

Also bought more books on Human Antiquity, David A'borough's Living Planet, popular books on Q Mechanics, string theory etc."

He was keen about learning new things, share it with friends and would often wriote about them for the general public. I will miss him.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rahul Siddharthan on nuclear power

in The Hindu. The article seems to be pitching for nuclear power. There have been various concerns about India's Nuclear Liability Bill and the safety record after the Bhopal tragedy. The pressure from USA suggests that possibly, US companies may get some of the the contracts and it is not clear whether different methods of harnessing nuclear energy developed in other countries are considered. Apart from that there is a need to compare the pricing with other technologies. John Quiggin says in The End of the Nuclear Renaissance
"Meanwhile, the cost of PV has already fallen well below that of nuclear and is set to fall further. The average retail price of solar cells as monitored by the Solarbuzz group fell from $3.50/watt to $2.43/watt over the course of the year, and a decline to prices below $2.00/watt seems inevitable. For large-scale installations, prices below $1.00/watt are now common. In some locations, PV has reached grid parity, the cost at which it is competitive with coal or gas-fired generation. More generally, it is now evident that, given a carbon price of $50/ton, which would raise the price of coal-fired power by 5c/kWh, solar PV will be cost-competitive in most locations."
It is possible that John Quiggin is unduly optimistic and it would be good to have other opinions. There was no price comparisons in Rahul's article and I hope that he will include them in the updates in his blog.
P.S. There is a follow up post by Rahul Sddharthan Reply to Prof Atul Choksi and comment by one Anonyo Maitra who makes a point that has not been mentioned so far:"However, my fundamental problem with your mode of argument is not a scientific one. It is that you consider the problem a scientific one at all. It is in reality a fundamental question about democracy and development."  The whole comment by Maitra is worth reading, I think.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An interesting article on A.P.

During one of the several agitations about Telangana, there were several articles suggesting that democratic representation and efficiency should be criteria for new states rather than sub-nationalism. Then there was Srikrishna report recommending status quo with some more guarantees for the various regions. But the movement has not died down. A recent article by Dr. G. Vijay of University of Hyderabad describes cornering of wealth from elites of other regions and obstructions to further development by concentrating on short time again. He seems to suggest that since the Telangana movement is a popular movement in which many marginalized people took part, once the state is formed, there are possibilities of more equitable development. Perhaps, as one the earlier articles suggested:
"... we see that an increase in regional consciousness at the sub-state level would be equivalent to an increase in the cost of managing intra-state diversity and may suggest that the optimal size of states is becoming smaller.  As states get more involved in large-scale social protection programmes like the NREGA and RSBY, it may be desirable to increase investment in state capacity to deliver services effectively and one way of doing this may be to create new state administrations with more manageable jurisdictions. Smaller states can also experiment more easily with innovations in governance and service delivery, which can be replicated across states if found to be successful.   "
Perhaps, one can even think of these possibilities starting with A.P.   even three to four states in place of the current state of A.P.?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Epigenetic effects of betel chewing?

From NY Times article Why Fathers Really Matter:
"Southeast Asian men who chew betel nuts, a snack that contains a chemical affecting metabolic functioning, are more likely to have children with weight problems and heart disease. Animal studies have shown that the effects of betel nut consumption by a male may extend to his grandchildren."

More on SRI

There have been a few posts earlier on SRI (System of Rice Intensification). Now Duncan Green has a post "Paradigms, lock-ins and liberations,Robert Chambers on rice and shit" about the slow adaptation of RSI. He suggests

"Both SRI and CLTS entail multiple simultaneous changes of concepts, principles, methods, behaviours, relationships and mindsets. Both are, in a full sense, shifts or flips of paradigm taking us into new spaces with dramatic new potentials. Neither cost much to develop. Both were evolved by doing, hands-on, in local conditions. Both are close to the lives and realities of poor rural people. Both were discovered by remarkable innovators – Father de Laulanié with SRI in Madagascar in the mid-1980s, and Kamal Kar with CLTS in Bangladesh in early 2000. Both have been spread internationally by champions fired with well-informed enthusiasm – Norman Uphoff with SRI, and Kamal Kar himself with CLTS, both of them quickly joined by many other champions energized through the wonder and excitement of ‘seeing is believing’ personal experience of dramatic transformations.
These two movements are unstoppable and spreading on a remarkable scale. The governments of China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, where together two-thirds of the world’s rice is produced, are promoting SRI methods, based on their own evaluations and results. Worldwide, the number of farmers benefiting from SRI practices in over 40 countries is in the range of 2 million and growing rapidly."
More information about SRI here and here.

P.S. See also the earlier guest post by Robert Chambers on getting rid of shit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Gulzar Natarajan  in Spectrumgate vs Coalgate:
"The competitive pressures created subsequent to the allotment process, by design or otherwise, contained incentive compatibilities that forced the companies to share their excessive gains. 

However, in case of the mining blocks, despite its fundamental similarity with telecom spectrum, the winners have sought to corner all their disproportionate gains. They have, as the Jindals have done, sought to take advantage of the market structure (the freedom  Comptroller and Auditor Generalto sell the power so produced on a merchant power route). Or, as most others have done, they have sought to keep the allotted blocks undeveloped, assured by the belief that they were sitting on potential gold mines. In fact, it is a damning indictment of the whole policy framework that barring a few, most of the mines have been allowed to keep them undeveloped despite being allotted at extremely concessional rates. 

In other words, unlike the telecom spectrum, where market competition and a policy framework kept the spectrum owners honest and thereby forced them to share the benefits arising from low capital costs, the coal block owners were not constrained by any policy framework. "
M.Rajshekhar has several posts on the scam and in this studies the case of EMTA. Meanwhile, the government and the prime minister are attacking the office of the CAG (Comptroller and Audit General):
"The ruling Congress has been defending its action and the prime minster has taken the unprecedented step of making a statement in the House and has observed that the report is flawed and disputable. Charges have been made that the CAG has overstepped his mandate."

Links mostly about developing countries

Asia's next revolution in Economist. Excerpt:
"...the world's most  vibrant economies are shifting gear, away from simply building wealth towards building a welfare state."
Lancet on the momentum towards universal heath care both via Duncan Green.
Martin Khor on the recent non-aligned summit in Tehran.
Analysis finds benefits to racial quota in Brazilian higher education from ScienceDaily
Evolutionary trees of traditional medicine plants provide hints for drug-makers by Ed Yong.
Yves Smith on getting economists to acknowledge rentier finance.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Louis Malle on film and dance in Madras

From the Wikipedia article on Louis Malle
"In 1968 Malle visited India and made a seven part documentary series L’Inde fantôme: Reflexions sur un voyage and a documentary filmCalcutta, which was released in cinemas.[1] Concentrating on real India, its rituals and festivities, Malle fell afoul of the Indian government, which disliked his portrayal of the country, in its fascination with the pre-modern, and consequently banned the BBC from filming in India for several years.[2] Malle later claimed his documentary on India was his favorite film[2]
Some of the commentary in the film seems politically incorrect and some over the top but he seems unafraid to explore and spell out his reactions. There are many uploads, but the following version has English subtitles (the same person also uploaded the parts on caste):
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Duncan Green informs on development courses

in the post:
"Back to school time: CGD celebrates the start of term with a pile of online syllabuses on different aspects of development while it’s boss Nancy Birdsall is even taking 3 months off to do some teaching. The Guardian asks ‘why study development?’ Meanwhile uberblogger Tyler Cowen is running an online development economics course with Alex Tabarrok [h/t Charles Kenny]. And here’s Chris Blattman’s development syllabus."

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Songs and dances in campaigns
The description "While helping a Dalit community build houses as part of a volunteer trip April 29 - May 6 2011, we found time for some of the equally important things in life: having fun, and DANCING! The kids in Chevuru LOVE to dance. Our volunteer group also loved this song, so Emily Bucherati, one of the volunteers, compiled footage of us dancing with the kids and created into a dance video to go along with it."
After seeing this, I wondered what happened tp 'praja natya mandali; the Andhra wing of IPTA. They seem to be operating still and have a few videos on YouTube. in they seem to be cooperating with a non-communist group. Sumangala Damodaran on IPTA songs She has an album too.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Similar songs in different languages, 1949

From Patanga , Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar

 Pyar ke jahan ki nirali sarkar

From Vazhkai (from 11:35, Rajeshwari, Bhagavati?)
R. Sudarshanam, the MD of Vazhaki seems to have followed closely some Hindi tunes(from Badi Behan, Mela) in this film, but the above films are from the same year. According to
an earlier tune of C.Ramachandra influenced one in Vazhkai.

Kuffir on the efficiency of caste

mostly about economic efficiency in Caste is not efficient or capable. The thrust of the post comes from a paper of Abhijit Banerjee and Kaivan Munshi
How efficiently is Capital Allocated? Evidence from Knitted Garment Industry in Tirpur
From Kuffir's account ( the last paragraph is quote from the paper):
To sum up, roughly, the Gounders employ more capital than the Outsiders but dont get better results than them. Caste isn't efficient.

But the Gounders can start garment units more easily, get easier access to capital and labour, rely on better co-operation from local authorities, and can stick around longer (even if they are not as efficient as the Outsiders) because of what the researchers call the 'community effect' (or plain old caste loyalty, in other words). But despite all those advantages:
 In our data the Outsiders seem to outperform the Gounders. This is easiest to see by comparing the Gounders and Outsiders who have more than 5 years of experience. The Outsiders in this category own less capital stock than the corresponding Gounders. Yet they produce significantly more. Moreover, the growth rate of output is higher for the Outsiders with more than 5 years of experience compared with the corresponding Gounders, which rules out the possibility that the Gounders are trading off current productivity for future growth. Finally, these Gounders use more capital per unit of output and own more capital stock at every level of experience: everything else being the same, this should give them a higher growth rate. The slower growth of the Gounders is therefore in spite of this additional advantage. 

Micronutrient fortifications and supplements

Following up on an article in New York Times Easier Than Taking Vitamins which bemoans the delay in the spread of the use of Sprinkles, I came across the interesting article Taken with a Grain of Salt? Micronutrient Fortification in South Asia

"Abstract: This paper reviews the research on fortification of food in the context of South Asia, with an emphasis on avenues for future research in economics and policy. We argue that while the efficacy of fortified foods in controlled settings is well established, more research is needed to evaluate the take-up and effectiveness of fortified foods distributed through standard channels. In addition, we argue that more research is needed to understand the determinants of long-term demand for fortified foods."
Some sample passages about the problems of policies and distribution in India:
"Political support in India for micronutrient interventions and fortification, specifically, has been slow and inconsistent.......
 Some states, such as Tamil Nadu, have already made progress on the distribution of DFS, but these recent developments signal headway towards resolving one nation-wide obstacle in the use of fortified foods: the absence of a directive from the Central Government on the regulation of fortified foods and their use. Without such a directive, NGOs working in this area often find it difficult to motivate local governments to allocate money towards fortifying food in schools

There are important target groups not reached through schools. For example, there is evidence that children
younger than school age are more likely to benefit from nutrition programs (Adelman, Gilligan,and Lehrer, 2008). In India, 70% of children under the age of five and 56% of ever-married women age 15-49 are anemic, making reaching these at-risk groups imperative.

Another way to provide fortification is through hospital or clinic distribution, although this might be a more natural channel for supplementation. In theory, the advantage to this strategy is that there is existing infrastructure to promote health awareness and possibly better targeting of households at-risk of micronutrient deficiencies. However, the performance of health clinics across India does not inspire confidence in either of these tasks. Health providers are absent on average 40% of the time and absence rates are higher in poor places (Chaudhury et al., 2006), where households are also more likely to be micronutrient deficient. Despite public health mandates to provide iron and folic acid syrup to pregnant women and vitamin A supplements to  children, these treatments do not reach all of their intended beneficiaries: in India, 65% of pregnant women were given or purchased iron and folic acid syrup, but only 23% took it for more than 90 days, and only 25% of children receive regular vitamin A supplements
(International Institution for Population Sciences, 2007). This is likely due in part to lack of demand for clinic services, these facilities being closed unpredictably and to the health facilities not being adequately stocked even when they are open. Research on how to improve the health care sector’s performance and how to increase awareness among households on when to visit health clinics and what care to expect, are important open questions. There is little evidence on this, although one notable exception suggests that contracting to non-governmental organizations, where payment and contract renewal depend on achieving health targets, such as how many children receive vitamin A supplements, improved performance (Bhushan et al.,2007)."

A government document of India also says that the targets for the tenth five year plan were not reached.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A discussion in

Recently most commented article in Towards a steady-state economy/
Tom_ comments at 8:17 PM and 8:38 PM on September 4 seem interesting to me.
P.S. Related Is US Economic Growth Over?

The Guardian on ENCODE project

From Breakthrough study overturns theory of 'junk DNA' in genome :
"For years, the vast stretches of DNA between our 20,000 or so protein-coding genes – more than 98% of the genetic sequence inside each of our cells – was written off as "junk" DNA. Already falling out of favour in recent years, this concept will now, with Encode's work, be consigned to the history books.
Encode is the largest single update to the data from the human genomesince its final draft was published in 2003 and the first systematic attempt to work out what the DNA outside protein-coding genes does. The researchers found that it is far from useless: within these regions they have identified more than 10,000 new "genes" that code for components that control how the more familiar protein-coding genes work.

This means that the individual differences in people's diseases can be more effectively targeted for treatment. "Diseases have been defined by the medical profession observing symptoms," says Dr Tim Hubbard of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. "[But] we know, for example, that breast cancer is not one disease but there's multiple types of breast cancer with all sorts of different mechanistic processes going wrong.
"A given drug only works in about a third of the people you give it to, but you don't know which third. A lot of that is related to genomics, so if you knew the relationship between a person's genome and which drugs work for them and which ones they shouldn't take because it gives them side effects, that would improve medicine.""