Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saptapadi, telugu film

from 1981; I just came across it via Minai's Cinema Nritya Gharana. By the time these films came I already got bored with repetitive themes and acting from the earlier Telugu films. Moreover I thought these were 'go back to our culture' kind of films. I watched recently three such because of they were mentioned in the above site. They seem pleasant and actually questioning some of the traditions, with quotes from scholarly sources (very nice sounding Sanskrit quotes with Vedic Sanskrit sounds rather than classical Sanskrit sounds, see Vedic Sanskrit: "Vedic Sanskrit had a retroflex lateral approximant (/ɭ/) (ळ) as well as its aspirated counterpart /ɭʰ/ (ळ्ह), which were lost in Classical Sanskrit, to be replaced with the corresponding plosives /ɖ/ (ड) and /ɖʱ/ (ढ). (Varies by region; Vedic pronunciations are still in common use in some regions, e.g. Southern India, including Maharashtra.)). Minai also links to an article in which the producer Bhimavarapu Bucchi Reddy explained their difficulties getting pundits to do the vedic chants for the film. Some of the personalities are too good to be true. The dances are not heavy and there seem some innovations to make them more palatable to the public (the main dancer seemed to more keen about classical dances and did not continue in films or dance but became a data base manager, according to the same article). The movie was made in Amaravati not too far from the director viswanath's native place Pedapulivarru which is also on the banks of the river Krishna. I was born on a small island in the river about two miles from Pedapulivarru. May be such things in the background helped in enjoying the movie.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Manto's prayer

“Dear God, Compassionate and Merciful, Master of the Universe, we who are steeped in sin, kneel in supplication before Your throne and beseech You to recall from this world Saadat Hasan Manto, son of Ghulam Hasan Manto, who was a man of great piety. Take him away, O Lord, for he runs off from fragrance, chasing filth. He hates the bright sun, preferring dark labyrinths. He has nothing but contempt for modesty but is fascinated by the naked and the shameless. He hates what is sweet, but will give his life to sample what is bitter. He does not so much as look at housewives but is entranced by the company of whores. He will not go near running waters, but loves to wade through slush. Where others weep, he laughs; where they laugh, he weeps. Evil-blackened faces he loves to wash with tender care to highlight their features. He never thinks about You, preferring to follow Satan everywhere, the same fallen angel who once disobeyed You”.
from the excellent article Ludhiana Personality :: Saadat Hasan Manto . I first came across Manto in Daisy Rockwell's posts Particularities of Partition II and The Reluctant Feudalist. His stories of Bollywood stars Stars from Another Sky too seems to be draing some attention.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Three of my favourite Telugu film songs

which I remembered on the Republic Day. The only common thread seems to be that they are written in 'more or less' spoken Telugu. From వాడుక భాషలో తెలుగు కవితావికాసము by జెజ్జాల కృష్ణ మోహన రావు :
"నాకు ఛందస్సు అంటే ఇష్టం. తాళవృత్తాలు, మాత్రాఛందస్సు నాకు ప్రియమైనవి. ఈ రంగంలో కొన్ని ఏళ్లుగా నేను పరిశోధన కూడా స్వతంత్రంగా చేస్తున్నాను. ఐనా కూడా, నా మనసు లోతులలో ఉండే కొన్ని భావాలకు ఆకృతి ఇవ్వాలనే అపేక్ష కలిగినప్పుడు, గేయ కవితనో లేక వచన కవితనో ఎన్నుకొంటాను. ముఖ్యంగా, హృదయాన్ని స్పందింపజేసే శక్తి ఈ మాధ్యమానికి ఉంది. ఈ ఇంటర్నెట్ యుగంలో మనం దైనందినం మాట్లాడే వాడుక భాషలో చాలా మంది కవితలను రాస్తున్నారు, అంతకంటే ఎక్కువగా చదువుతున్నారు. ఆన్‌లైన్ పత్రికలు, బ్లాగులు కూడా వీటికి ప్రోత్సాహం ఇస్తున్నాయి. ఈ విధంగా ఇవి సామాన్య ప్రజానీకానికి అందుబాటులో ఉన్నాయి. పాతంతా మంచీ కాదు, చెడూ కాదు. కొత్తంతా చెడూ కాదూ, మంచీ కాదు. ఒక్కొక్క దానికి ఒక్కొక్క గుణం ఉంది, ప్రభావం ఉంది. కవి యోచించి మాధ్యమాన్ని ఎన్నుకోవాలి."

Karulo shikaru kelle paala buggala (Lyrics) video కారులో షికారుకెళ్ళే..
Video Dongaramudu-chigurakulalo chilakamma
Lyricsచిగురాకులలో చిలకమ్మా
Palukaradate Chiluka
Lyrics పలుకరాదటే.....చిలుకా
Two of these are also available at http://telugu-good-lyrics.blogspot.com/

I notice a coincidence. J.K. Mohana Rao mentions 'karulo shikaru..' in his article. Both he and the lyricist Athreya are from Nellore area. The lyricist of the next two songs Sumudrala Sr, was from Pedapulivarru. I was born in a village two miles from there and studied in Pedapulivarru-Guttavaripalem school for an year. The only time I saw Ghantasala was also in Pedapulivarru, the village of his wife, I think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Changes in micro finance activity in India

In response to the new regulations briefly outlibed in The RBI will now directly regulate microfinance sector, MFIs seem to be shifting their focus to better income groups. Some of the possible changes are outlined by M Rajshekhar & John Samuel Raja in ET special: New journeys, new challenges as India's microfinance promoters sail into new lending areas:

"MFIs are taking one of two approaches. Some are restructuring to exceed this 15% norm - legally - and still be eligible for priority-sector loans. Take Equitas, which has three businesses. Both its new businesses, vehicle loans and housing loans, are 100% subsidiaries of Equitas Microfinance.

Further, Equitas has acquired an NBFC, to which it will transfer all its microfinance assets. This will become the third 100% subsidiary of Equitas Microfinance, which will then be renamed Equitas Financial Services and become a holding company. Since the 15% cap will apply only to the microfinance subsidiary, all three businesses can expand without limits.

The other approach is to stay within microfinance, but tweak products and operations. As Ujjivan Microfinance, which is moving into individual loans, is doing. Managing director Samit Ghosh agrees the microfinance business is not as profitable as before, but doesn't think it makes sense to diversify.
''''''''''
IS THIS A MISSION DRIFT?

All these years, the microfinance industry promoted itself as a potent means to pull people out of poverty. But now, in its bid to survive, the industry is looking beyond the poor. Is this mission drift? Ujjivan's founder, Samit Ghosh, thinks so.
......
Says Ramesh Arunachalam, a rural finance consultant: "If they wanted to make a dent on poverty, they should have developed post-harvest loans for farmers, etc." Such loans, he says, would have enabled farmers to wait for prices to improve before they sell their produce.

Most MFIs looking to diversify say they are doing so out of duress, not because they see an opportunity. But, in doing so, they are giving up the poor plank they grew themselves and their reputations on."

From a review of David Roodman's new book on micro finance A voice of reason amid the sound and fury of the microfinance debate:
"In one sense another nail in the coffin for claims that tiny loans can end poverty, the book is also a humble manifesto for reform. While Roodman insists financial services are no likelier to "lift" people out of poverty than clean water or electricity, he argues that the thriving microfinance industry can still deliver crucial services to millions in need of better ways to manage their money."

I have not read the book but read some posts in his blog David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog
. The post Finalized Brief based on Due Diligence says a brief and the draft of the book are available online.

Rereading John Harriss

A few years ago, I read a couple of papers by John Harriss which seemed interesting THE GREAT TRADITION GLOBALIZES: REFLECTIONS ON TWO STUDIES OF 'THE INDUSTRIAL LEADERS' OF MADRAS and Middle Class Politics...An Exploration of Civil Society in Chennai. When I was trying to find them again, I realized that he has written much more extensively about India and plan to read some more of his work. here are some random pieces, possibly parts or beginnings of larger work, mainly chosen because they are short and I am not sure of the dates. Thinking abourt 'development' or lack of it in India, one wonders about caste, class, religion etc. The first is a quick description of literature on such topics and one instance difference in red and clay soil crop up. I do not know the title of the second; it may be a discussion about the book "Depoliticizing development: the World Bank and social capital." The third is a review of a book which I have not seen. All the three are full of neat ideas, are short and I enjoyed reading them.
Notes on Village Studies from an Anthropological Perspective.
Remarks on Social Capital.
How and Why Does Culture Matter?.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two free courses from Udacity

From Want to program a self-driving car? Stanford’s AI guru says he can teach you in seven weeks
:
"After leading Stanford’s robotic car effort to first and second place finishes in the DARPA [1] challenge, and launching the now famous Chauffeur project at Google, Sebastian Thrun broke more new ground by teaching a Stanford computer science course online to 160,000 students last fall. After his invitation for anyone, worldwide, to audit the course went viral, registrations went through the roof.

Inspired by the class’s success (248 students achieved perfect scores — none of them enrolled at Stanford), Sebastian has taken online education to the next level, starting a free online “university” named Udacity, through his startup, Know Labs. For now, Udacity only has two classes, but they are both likely to be very popular.

The first is a basic programming class, Computer Science 101, “Building a Search Engine”, which aims to teach anyone eager enough to do the work how to program a search engine in just seven weeks. I wouldn’t count on displacing Google right after finishing, but knowing Thrun, he is quite capable of imparting an amazing amount of knowledge in a short time.
The second — probably more interesting to the many of our readers who already know a lot about programming — is Computer Science 373, “Programming a Robotic Car,” which aims to teach you to do just that [2], also in seven weeks. It is likely to be a real eye-opener, and quite a lot of fun, but please don’t take your final project out on the street near my house!"
Discussion by Felix Salmon in the post Udacity and the future of online universities

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A survey paper on corruption

Corruption in Developing Countries by Ben Olken and Rohini Pande(a short summary in Lifting the curtain on corruption in developing countries) has the following intriguing passage:

"In some cases one can use the theory of market equilibrium, combined with data on market activity, to estimate the amount of corruption. In a pioneering study, Fisman (2001) applied this approach to estimate the value of political connections to Indonesian president Soeharto. Specifically, he obtained an estimate from a Jakarta consulting firm of how much each publicly traded firm was “connected” to Soeharto, on a scale of 0-4. He then estimated how much each firm’s price moved when Soeharto fell ill to estimate the stock market assessment of the value of those political connections. If the efficient markets hypothesis holds, then the change in stock
market value surrounding these events captures the value of the political connection to the firm. Since investment bankers in Jakarta estimated that the total market would fall by 20 percent if Soeharto died, he can calibrate these estimates to estimate the total “value” of the connections to Soeharto. On net, for the most connected firms he estimates that about 23 percent of their value was due to Soeharto’s connections.

The Fisman market approach is replicable in any case where one has data on firms’
connections to prominent politicians and when the politician experiences health shocks. For example, Fisman et al (2006) has replicated the same approach for the United States, looking at the value of connections to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, using shocks while he was a candidate and while he was in office. In a marked contrast with the Soeharto paper, he finds zero effect of Cheney’s heart attacks on the value of Cheney-connected stocks."
P.S. 'Intriguing'? Halliburton, KBR, and Iraq war contracting: A history so far via TomDispatch

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Bhanupriya dance

I seem to be coming across Telugu films after 1960 through blogs like Minai's Cinema Nritya Gharana. Here is a dance and song that I enjoyed Aakasana Aasala Harivillu ; the description of the film and several other dances, I found from the link above.

Lant Pritchett Interview

Lant Pritchett talks to us about education, migration and development (via Chris Blattman)
Some earlier posts about Lant Pritchett here and here
Parts of his coming book on education available here and some of his work on India; see in particular his paper "Is India a Flailing State? Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization."

Friday, January 20, 2012

My first kinige book

I finally bought వేలుపిళ్లై by C. Ramachandra Rao through http://kinige.com/. I heard of C. Ramachandra Rao as a tennis player during my college days and was surprised by his excellent stories later on. A review by Jampala Chowdary here'
Kinige started about an year ago by Kiran Kumar Chava and friends. I believe Kiran and his wife gave up lucrative jobs for what seemed a risky venture and seem to be doing fine now and it seems very useful for Telugu enthusiasts living abroad. Ipad Users require Blue Fire Reader

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lots of neat ideas

2012 : WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEEP, ELEGANT, OR BEAUTIFUL EXPLANATION?
My own favourite Galois theory. About his last letter containg his ideas Herman Weyl said "This letter, if judged by the novelty and profundity of ideas it contains, is perhaps the most substantial piece of writing in the whole literature of mankind."

Econ 1 from Brad DeLong

From ECON 1: SPRING 2012: PRELIMINARY OUTLINE:
"Textbook:

•Reich, Tyson, DeLong--currently being written...
Auxilliary reading books:

•Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction 

•Paul Seabright: The Company of Strangers

•Milton Friedman and Rose Director Friedman: Free to Choose"

I read the first two books but I am not sure whether my understabding of economic matters improved.

As Mike Reay says in
ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERT AUTHORITY IN AMERICAN ECONOMICS:
"....it seems as if the ‘ideas’ used to
distinguish economics from a spreadsheet program were those of what might be called the ‘core’ of modern American economics, that is, a series of insights and practical techniques centered primarily on basic microeconomics. Core skills such as instinctively considering costs as well as benefits, focusing on incentives and maximizing decisions, assuming prices respond to supply and demand, and acknowledging opportunity costs, were what most subjects mentioned when asked to identify ‘what economists know that others don’t.’

This ‘core’ has in the past sometimes been glossed as simply ‘mere undergraduate level’ theory used by lowly applied practitioners (e.g. Enthoven 1963, Allen 1977, Hamilton 1992), but this is misleading insofar as it was the academic as much as the nonacademic interviewees who identified it as central to their unique expertise. Furthermore, as a set of almost unconscious attitudes, tacit skills, and habits developed through extensive experience working as an economist, the core was not thought to be something easily picked up just by doing a BA ineconomics, let alone by running a few regressions on Microsoft Excel; I think there’s sort of a reasoning of ‘maximize this subject to that’ that has implications that are second nature to us, which aren’t necessarily understood [by others]. Now that’s not something that could beexpressed in five minutes. The idea could be expressed in five minutes, but then the doctor, for example, would have to practice it for a while before it became natural."
Delong says in John Stewart Mill vs. the European Central Bank:
"One of the dirty secrets of economics is that there is no such thing as “economic theory.” There is simply no set of bedrock principles on which one can base calculations that illuminate real-world economic outcomes. ....
Economists have none of that. The “economic principles” underpinning their theories are a fraud – not fundamental truths but mere knobs that are twiddled and tuned so that the “right” conclusions come out of the analysis.
The “right” conclusions depend on which of two types of economist you are. One type chooses, for non-economic and non-scientific reasons, a political stance and a set of political allies, and twiddles and tunes his or her assumptions until they yield conclusions that fit their stance and please their allies. The other type takes the carcass of history, throws it into the pot, turns up the heat, and boils it down, hoping that the bones will yield lessons and suggest principles to guide our civilization’s voters, bureaucrats, and politicians as they slouch toward utopia."

P.S. May be there is still hope for me. I got the answer right for the question on opportunity cost in the post
Do economists understand the concept of opportunity cost?
May be not. An older post Opportunity Cost says that 78 percent of the economists got it wrong.

Mr. Daisey visits China

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory Transcript (via Ellen Contini-Morava)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chris Cook predicts fall in oil prices

may be to the extent of $45 a barrel. I do not understand the discussion but many of the commentors seem to like his analysis though many do not agree with his prediction Chris Cook: Naked Oil:
"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme, and my forecast is that the crude oil price will fall dramatically during the first half of 2012, possibly as low as $45 to $55 per barrel."

via
Housing and Oil:Dark Inventory Rules in 'The Automatic Earth'.

P.S.Why expect S&P, Moody’s, or Fitch to know it's junk when expert musicians can't tell a Stradivarius from a fiddle?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Sankranti

A random selection from YouTube
"SANKRANTI.mp4 "
"Vachenu Sankranti - KUCHIPUDI "
"Gobbiyalo"
"Palletooru - Vachchindoi Sankaranti - Ghantasala music "

A long post about the north Indian version in 'atul's bollywood song a day- with full lyrics':
Lo aa gayee lohree vey

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Two articles on democratic politics

Both from the archives of EPW, both wondering Indians following the politics of non-coperation, hartals and agitation which were useful during the independence movement. Beeteille says in his article:
"Ambedkar appealed against the politics of mobilisation in the altered conditions
created by the Constitution. He conceded that such politics may have been necessary to bring about a change of regime but that it could no longer be justified under the
new regime. What does it mean to adopt a system of constitutional democracy? "It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and
satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for economic
and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional
methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification
for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us" (ibid: 978). It is no small achievement of Indian de- mocracy that, despite the economic crises and social turbulence the country has undergone, the Constitution has remained in place for close to six decades. It has been amended many times, and there have been those who have said that it has been de- faced and defiled [Palkhivala 1974]. Yet it remains as an important signpost for the judiciary, and also the legislature. How deeply has the Constitution influenced the outlook of ordinary citizens in India? Ambedkar had hoped that our people would learn the lessons of constitutional morality in course of time. How much have they in fact learnt? Not very long ago, a prominent member of the union cabinet had said, UI know that most members of Parliament see the constitu-tion for the first time when they take an oath on it" [Guha 2007: 660]."

Unfortnately both the articles are now behind the firewall and I am enclosing the abstracts.

"In the Name of Politics" by Dipesh Chakrabarty
Abstract:
"The histories of sovereignty and democracy in India have taken a route different from the trajectory adopted by some western countries. In India, colonial sovereignty was often reduced to domination, yet ?internal wars? waged on the basis of religious, caste or even linguistic divisions, continued. Post-colonial India remains thus, a social body perpetually traversed by relations of war. As this article argues, neither colonial rule, nationalism nor even democracy in India has seen the production of a sovereignty necessary for the construction of a ?society? amenable to disciplinary power and its politics. Indian democracy thus furnishes an interesting case where the political task of creating the typically modern mix of ?sovereignty? (rights) and disciplinary domination arises not before but after the coming of universal adult franchise and a democratic polity."


Constitutional Morality
by Andre Beteille
Abstract:
"The strength or weakness of constitutional morality in contemporary India has to be understood in the light of a cycle of escalating demands from the people and the callous response of successive governments to those demands. In a parliamentary democracy, the obligations of constitutional morality are expected to be equally binding on the government and the opposition. In India, the same political party treats these obligations very differently when it is in office and when it is out of it. This has contributed greatly to the popular perception of our political system as being amoral."

The second artcle I saw via Guru's post
Beteille’s condemnation and Ramachandra Guha’s hope
.

Similar problems seem to be cropping up in 'advanced' democracies too. Daren Acegmolu says in his answers
FiveBooks Interviews > Daron Acemoglu on Inequality
:
"Q.
Jeff Sachs was giving a talk in Manhattan the other night about his new book, The Price of Civilization. He was spitting blood that Obama was in town again, not for constructive reasons, but to attend yet another fundraiser on the Upper East Side. Inevitably, rich people are going to have more influence when every politician from the president down constantly needs money from them.
A.
They constantly need money, they like talking to them, they respect their opinion. Jeff Sachs and I have had many differences but in this case I fully agree with him.
Q.
That’s what’s interesting about Occupy Wall Street. Its supporters aren’t just crazy lefties who don’t believe in free markets, but respected economists.
A.
I’m definitely in that camp. I do believe in markets. I passionately believe in the importance of property rights and private property. I think they are absolute sine qua nons for prosperity. But I also believe that these things are very political and the politics shouldn’t be one-sided. Gore Vidal said, “The United States has only one party – the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican.” If that is true, that’s a real threat to a free market and a fair society. For that reason I think Occupy Wall Street is very important. It’s a grassroots movement that tries to stand up to this tendency of our political system."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guha on the defeat of the communists in India

The artcle After the Fall is a few months old but I came across it only today. Guha makes many good points, particularly about the ideological rigidity of CPI(M), CPI (ML)...But sometimes they seemed to depend on Russisn or Chinese interpretations depending on their allegiance. Just like Guha's it is also my impression (from the its I know from coastal Andhra) that in general top communist leaders are less (financially) corrupt than the political leaders of other parties. However, I am not sure whether this is true of the middle level leadership. In the early days, the communists propogated their ideology through workshops and culural organizations like 'praja natya mandali' and communism provided a quick world view and perhaps a bit of a substitute for religion though I did not see the communists breaking off completely from religious practices. These worhshops etc more or less gone now whatever little communism there is in Andhra is inherited communism (it may be different in Telangana where 'jana natya mandali' seems to have some role). Another point that Guha does not mention is that party leadership came from the 'upper' castes. They had contacts with the less priviliged castes, but their children mostly married with in their castes and they were not able to develop leaders from the other castes. These are my impressions from coatal Andhra but I think that most of Guha's points are correct and the article, as usual with Guha, is very readale.
P.S. I have been sent these articles by A.G. Noorani containing "Extracts from interviews of India's first-generation Communist leaders throwing light on some turning points in the history of Indian communism."
Communist memories
Of Stalin, Telangana & Indian revolution
Of Quit India, Nehru & CPI split

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Roy Lisker on Grothendieck

Visiting Alexandre Grothendieck
I came across the name of Roy Lisker in the post
Galois Conference Videos
where there are links to Roy Lisker reports of the conference.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Manto on Bombay

From Saadat Hasan Manto :
"It was a blow to have to leave Bombay, where I had lived such a busy life. Bombay had taken me in, a wandering outcast thrown out by even his family. She had told me, “You can live happily here on two paise a day or on ten thousand rupees. Or if you want, you can be the saddest person in the world at either price. Here you can do whatever you want, and no one will think you’re strange. Here no one will tell you what to do. You will have to do every difficult thing on your own, and you will have to make every important decision by yourself. I don’t care if you live on the sidewalk or in a magnificent mansion, I don’t care if you stay or go. I’ll always be here.” I was disconsolate after leaving Bombay. My good friends were there. I had gotten married there. My first child was born there, as was my second. There I had gone from earning a couple rupees a day to thousands - hundreds of thousands - and there I had spent it all. I loved it, and I still do!"
It was like that for me too. I was a villager from a farming community who somehow developed an interest in pure mathematics. I found the university courses boring and stopped attending classes, was thrown out of college twice and out of home once and finally reached Bombay in 1964. The next fiteen years, I pursued my dream in Bombay helped by brahmin and American teachers.
'Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan'

Sunday, January 08, 2012

An article on C.R. Rao

by Julian Champnik in Significance,Dec2011, Vol. 8 Issue 4, p175-178
C.R. Rao (behind a firewall)
The article is based on an interview last year. At the age of 91, he still remembers the slights at the homes of his brahmin friends in his school days: "I would not be allowed into Brahmin homes. Some would allow me into courtyard, or to the front steps. If I was thirsty on the way home my friends were allowed to pout water into my cupped hands outside, but not into a cup..."
This must have been in the thirties. The situation changed, at least in some places. In the fifties, I actually stayed in the house of a brahmin friend of my father. But I stayed in the verandah and had access to some outer rooms and ate in the verandah. A professor in the Indian Statisticl Institute ( where Rao had several brahmin Ph.D. students) told me last year that he still observes caste 'rules' when he visits his father in the village.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

John Quiggin: "Solar rises, nuclear falls"

John Quiggin's post Solar rises, nuclear falls links to his article The end of the nuclear renaissance. In the post, he says that "but that’s only half the story and probably the less interesting half. The real news of 2011 was the continued massive drop in the price of solar PV, which renders obsolete any analysis based on data before about 2010. In particular, anyone who thinks nuclear is the most promising candidate to replace fossil fuels really needs to recalibrate their views. There’s a case to be made for nuclear as a backstop option, but it’s not nearly as strong as it was even two years ago."
From the article:
"The “solar vs. nuclear” dispute had been largely symbolic for several decades. After rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s, new installations of nuclear power came to a grinding halt. This was partly a result of safety fears created by the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Economic factors were even more significant. Far from being too cheap to meter, nuclear power turned out to be far more expensive than its main rival, coal, primarily because of unpredictable capital costs and generally high interest rates.

As a result, since 1977, when the River Bend plant in Louisiana commenced construction, not one new nuclear-power plant has been ordered and completed in the United States. The situation in most other developed countries was similar."
It is not clear to me why UPA is still pursuing 'nuclear power': New rules give some relief to nuclear suppliers.

Daren Acemoglu at FiveBooks Interviews

discusses raising inequality mostly in the US (It seems "...over the last 30 years, top income shares have increased substantially in English-speaking countries and in India and China, but not in continental European countries or Japan.")
FiveBooks Interviews > Daron Acemoglu on Inequality (via 3quarksdaily).
Excerpts:
"Inequality is one of the things that has changed quite a lot in the United States and other economies over the last three decades or so. A lot of things don’t change radically, but inequality has. Understanding why that has happened and what it implies for our society is important.....The default position of economists is that inequality reflects the unequal human capital or productive capabilities of different workers. If you start with that premise – that what people earn is commensurate with their contribution to their employer, and also perhaps to society – then greater inequality tells you something about how people’s productivities have evolved over time.....My caricature of a layman’s view is that inequality is an indication of something that is failing in society. If a group of people used to earn twice as much as another group of people, and then, over 20 years, that ratio increases to four, that’s something that is concerning and might indicate a failure of social policy. My own view is a mixture of the two."
He goes on to discuss the research of Atkinson, Piketty and Saez
"Some very interesting things have been going on in the top 10%, and especially the top 1%. Atkinson, Piketty and Saez have really been pioneers in this and this article is an overview of much of their research. What the paper shows is that concurrent with the increase in the college premium and inequality between a median worker and a worker at the bottom, there has been an even sharper increase in the share of the top 10% and top 1% in national income in the US, Canada, UK and so on...
For example, they emphasise that it’s very difficult to account for these figures with the standard labour supply, labour demand explanation that Goldin and Katz emphasise. That’s not going to work, and we really have to think about things like social policies, progressive taxation and the politics of it."
Acemoglu's own views seem to be in his book with James Robinson "Why Nations Fail", which is also discussed in the interview: "The absolutist institutions created a very unequal distribution of political power and a very unequal distribution of economic gains in society and the two became synergistic – the very unequal distribution of political power locked in a very unequal distribution of economics gains. This created a vicious circle, but the conflict it engendered sometimes led to a breaking down of the institutions that this unequal distribution depended on, opening the way for more open institutions, which are one of the engines of prosperity.

The last part of the book is the converse story, which is how these inclusive institutions, which create a more equitable distribution of political power and so a more level playing field, are going to be constantly challenged. These inclusive institutions don’t guarantee that everything is going to be equally distributed but will at least prevent the most egregious and unfair distribution of resources. They also ensure a more equal distribution of political power in society. But there is no guarantee that they will last for ever. If you are able to garner a little more support, and a little more political power, the danger that you can start tweaking these institutions to your benefit is always present. There are continuous challenges to the inclusive nature of political institutions. So in this framework you can see the threat of the increased inequality in the US as a symptom of the sorts of challenges to the fairly inclusive set of institutions that the US has had for over 200 years."

There is also a discussion in Economist's View Puward Redistribution in the US.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Brief Guide to DSM

DSM – 100 words
;
"DSM is an American classification system that has dominated since 1980. It is disliked by many for reducing diagnostic skills to a cold list of operational criteria, yet embraced by researchers believing that it represents the first whiff of sense in an area of primitive dogma. It has almost foundered by confusing reliability with validity but the authors seem to recognise its errors and are hoping for rebirth in its 5th revision due in May 2013. The initials do not stand for Diagnosis as a Source of Money or Diagnosis for Simple Minds but the possibility of confusion is present."
via MindHacks who has the additional remark:
"The original British plans, of course, were to have psychiatric diagnoses based on measuring the stiffness of one’s upper lip – an objective and reliable approach that was sadly neglected."

Monday, January 02, 2012

A telugu bhajan

Though an agnostic tending towards atheism, many of my favourite songs are bhajans from telugu and hindi films. The follwing has been a favourite for over 60 years.
Sarvamangalanama Seetharama - Bhaktha Pothana(1942) - V.Nagayya.