Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rural finance in India

Edward Luce interview with Kissinger

It is behind a firewall. Internet search may help. Henry Kissinger:"We are in a very, very grave period"  some of the excerpts are in Trump, Putin & Helsinki: Kissinger still calls the shots . One excerpt "I think Trump may be one of those ļ¬gures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences.”

Monday, July 30, 2018

About Vitamin D deficiency

i do not understand this well. From what I can gather, higher doses are needed than those recommended by US. Generally many other countries follow US but Finland seemed to have bucked the trend.
US admits math mistake was made in 2010 in estimating Vitamin D, but will not change recommendations – Nov 2017
Improved health due to Vitamine D fortification in Finland
I saw the general idea in this article but did not understand it well. Towards the end, the previous article links to The big Vitamin D mistake whose introduction is clearer.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

India's linguistic diversity

Podcast: Two scholars, a century apart, record India's rich linguistic diversity from Scroll.in July 2016
The Centre Cannot Hold How GN Devy challenges our concept of knowledge from Caravan magazine, July, 2018
I posted the Telugu recordings in 2011 but none of the links work except this Voices from Colonial India by Sohini Chattopathay from January, 2011,
The Telugu recordings are Here, posted by sumanspati reddy from Hyderabad. At that time Hyderabad state was omitted since it was not officially ruled by the British.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

John Lanchester on ten years after 2008

After the fall The early parts are familiar. Towards the end, he talks of the missing wealth:
"The frustrating thing is that the policy implications of this idea are pretty clear. In the developed world, we need policies that reduce the inequality at the top. It is sometimes said these are very difficult policies to devise. I’m not sure that’s true. What we’re really talking about is a degree of redistribution similar to that experienced in the decades after the Second World War, combined with policies that prevent the international rich person’s sport of hiding assets from taxation. This was one of the focuses of Thomas Piketty’s Capital, and with good reason. I mentioned earlier that assets and liabilities always balance – that’s the way they are designed, as accounting equalities. But when we come to global wealth, this isn’t true. Studies of the global balance sheet consistently show more liabilities than assets. The only way that would make sense is if the world were in debt to some external agency, such as Venusians or the Emperor Palpatine. Since it isn’t, a simple question arises: where’s all the fucking money? Piketty’s student Gabriel Zucman wrote a powerful book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations (2015), which supplies the answer: it’s hidden by rich people in tax havens. According to calculations that Zucman himself says are conservative, the missing money amounts to $8.7 trillion, a significant fraction of all planetary wealth. It is as if, when it comes to the question of paying their taxes, the rich have seceded from the rest of humanity."

Pay it forward

the Wikipedia article Pay it forward. I came across this in Second shot coffee. Possibly one unconsciously knew it and practiced it off and on.

Eric Weinstein on inequality

Excerpts and comments via Arnold King who says “I would describe the interview as a set of very interesting threads, which to my frustration are left dangling. I don’t know whether the fault lies with Eric, the interviewer, or the editor.” one of the comments says that there are some podcasts which are more satisfactory.

On Khemchand Prakash

 KHEMCHAND PRAKASH : DIL NE PHIR YAAD KIYA by Sushrut Vaidya, a comprehensive article on his life and work.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Three books in one review

By John Lanchester : Can economists and humanists be ever friends? Very nice article like some other things he has written.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Barefoot: worlds apart by Harsh Mander
"I accepted an invitation three years ago to teach a semester course every year on poverty and governance to the MBA students in this business school. The challenge of speaking about hunger, homelessness, want and discrimination to a classroom of some of the brightest achievers in the country — who, within months of my course, would be recruited to jobs which would easily place them in the top one per cent income bracket in the country — was daunting. But I found my students intelligent, engaged and caring, as young people anywhere are.
A different exercise
Instead of an examination at the end of the course, I asked my students every year to each find one impoverished person, in Ahmedabad or elsewhere, and try to learn about their lives, write their stories, and share these with their classmates. Their first reaction was usually one of understandable panic: how could they cross distances imposed by history, class, power, language and so much else; they were convinced that these were insurmountable. I assured them that what was required was no more than one human being reaching out to another, and if they could approach them with true respect and empathy, the people they were trying to learn from would, in all probability, reciprocate."
More about Harsh Mander. He is the author of Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Interview with Cornel West

Cornel West: 'Obama was never the revolutionary Mandela was'
Now, Barack Obama - you have a neo-liberal black president of the most powerful empire in the world; he was never a revolutionary figure in the way Nelson Mandela was.
He has always been a neo-liberal politician. He was a black face of the American empire and he [has], in my view, commit[ted] war crimes with his drones in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia and Libya.
So, I think the people have the right to protest because you don't want Obama to come in and act as if somehow he is connected to the revolutionary Mandela. Now, on the other hand, it is also true that you want a variety of voices to be heard in these lectures."......."
Sure, there is a big difference. Barack Obama was the brilliant, poised, neo-liberal face of the American empire. Donald Trump is the know-nothing, xenophobic, white neo-fascist face of the American empire.
There are some continuities between Obama and Trump in terms of foreign policy and in terms of Wall Street friendliness, but there are some discontinuities ... Obama was never the explicit xenophobe that Trump has been since he took office.
And there is a difference between a neo-liberal and a neo-fascist. Both of them, for me, require serious critique.
But there is a difference between a neo-liberal who has some kind of concern about spectacle, some kind of concern about style, and some kind of concern about the rule of law - even if the rule of law is very tilted against the poor.
But with neo-fascists, its just his raw, crude, gangster to the core and xenophobic, and has no concern for the rule of law. That is what you get with Donald Trump.“
P.S. an exhaustive article on the topic by Paul Street:

Monday, July 16, 2018

The need for religion

What Religion Gives Us (That Science Can’t) By Stephen T.Asma . There have also been life long non-religious people like Bertrand Russell. It would have been interesting to compare with that group and check for any common elements that kept them going.

Survival in future

Survival of the richest : The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind by Dougla Rushkoff
Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”

Another inspiring story

Saturday, July 14, 2018

SriSri influence on an IAS officer

https://www.clipzui.com/video/l3q4b5g3q3o4f3q4c41553.html starts around 36:27
Meet Pallavi Akurathi – The Daring IAS Officer Who Is An Inspiration To All The Telugu Medium Students! also A battle I didn’t need
“Ironically, all that effort to learn English, and the humiliation faced along the way, seems ridiculous now. A majority of our daily transactions are in Kannada. I would be a miserable administrator if I were proficient in English but didn’t speak Kannada. While one’s comprehension of English is already tested in the mains, what sense does it make to exclusively ensure the English proficiency of administrators? she wonders. “Even today I cannot understand the poetry that a 6th standard ICSE student writes. How can a government school student, who studies all through only in a regional language, be asked to compete in English comprehension with those from English-medium schools? Can you imagine how unequal the battle is?”

Friday, July 13, 2018

Time investment

Exposing modern slavery

The hidden face of modern slavery by Jean Allain
The Bellagio-Harvard Guidelines state, in part: “To determine, in law, a case of slavery, one must look for possession. While the exact form of possession might vary, in essence it supposes control over a person by another such as a person might control a thing.” The control may involve physical constraint, but control may also “be evident in attempts to withhold identity documents [as in the case of the Thai prostitutes]; or to otherwise restrict free movement or access to state authorities or legal processes; or equally in attempts to forge a new identity through compelling a new religion, language, place of residence, or forcing marriage”. 
Professor Allain says that “this is the essence of slavery: that one person controls another as if they owned them. So the slave no longer has a say over their life, and is forced to do the bidding of the person who controls them.””

More on Mahesh Kathi

It seems that what was used is  Telangana Prevention of Anti-Social and Hazardous Activities Act, 1930.: “Among those who are targeted specifically in these laws include “bootleggers, dacoits, drug-offenders, goondas, immoral traffic offenders, land grabbers, gamblers,” as listed by these Acts." ” The same law law was later used to stern Swami Paripoornananda who wanted to organise a march against a Mahesh Kathi. From https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/what-externment-law-telangana-cops-used-ban-mahesh-kathi-hyd-84500 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Inter caste marriages in India on the increase says The Guardian

Intercaste marriages and grooms who pay their way: welcome to the new India :
Hitesh Dhingra, co-founder of dating app TrulyMadly, believes there are two reasons for the enlightened views expressed in the survey. One is that young Indians, as users of the internet and social media, are exposed to new ideas that challenge traditional social mores.
The other is that, as more millennials choose their partners using dating apps and websites, they are more likely to focus on personality and compatibility than caste and religion.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sheila Dhar on Bhimsen Joshi

From Raga’n Josh
The following video may give some indication of his performances:
A longer version here 

Pankaj Mishra reviews ‘Ants among elephants’

God’s oppressed children  “The result is a book that combines many different genres—memoir, history, ethnography, and literature—and is outstanding in the intensity and scale of its revelations......At such moments, Gidla’s book achieves the emotional power of V.S. Naipaul’s great novel A House for Mr. Biswas, which describes the solitary struggles of a descendant of indentured laborers.....Rather, “it is a battle for freedom…for the reclamation of the human personality”—an arduous, never-ending battle in which Gidla’s book represents an all too rare victory.”
I have repeatedly mentioned and quoted from the book. There has been very little response from the upper caste bloggers so far. There are lots of posts about Trump or Vedas but this book has  eenstudiously ignored by the Indian netizens. Even among the Dalits, there is resentment among ambedkarites. She seems a difficult personality if her internet comments on all kinds of issues is any indication. But the book is excellent.

Miracle in Thailand

All out of the cave
How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave
When the 12 Thai boys who’ve been trapped in a cave and are being rescued one by one were first discovered by British divers a week ago, they were reportedly meditating.
“Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting. No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing,” the mother of one of the boys told the AP, referring to a widely shared video of the moment the boys were found.
Turns out that their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, who led them on a hike into the cave when it flooded on June 23, trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach. According to multiple news sources, he taught the boys, ages 11 to 16, to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and preserve their energy through their two-week ordeal.”

Mahesh Kathi banned from Hyderabad for six months

It all began after Kathi Mahesh allegedly made derogatory comments against Lord Rama and Sita during a debate on a regional news channel.
Mahesh was participating in a debate about a sedition case filed against rationalist Babu Gogineni, when he said, “For me, Ramayana is just another story…I believe Rama is as much a cheater (dagulbhaji) as he is ideal in that story. And I think perhaps Sita would have been better, might have gotten justice if she had stayed with Ravana. What’s wrong with that?” ” from The news minute. More about  Mahesh Kathi

  • See also  Shambuka story for some of the reasons why some people may not appreciate Rama.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Some thoughts from Tyler Cowen

If technology has arrived everywhere, why has income diverged?
Informational autocrats
Theabove are links to ideas in papers which he seemed to have appreciated. Here is an article by himself Holding Up a Mirror to the Intellectuals of the Left :
Often my best conversations are with doers and practitioners, rather than intellectuals and writers. The politics of the doers are typically difficult to discern or to boil down to simple classifications.”

More of Jim Holt

A review of his recent book When Einstein walked with Godel by Parul Sehgal. A review of his earlier book Why does the world exist? By Free an Dyson :What can you really know? Freeman Dyson links to earlier review of his of the book

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World

by David Deutsch
which is very nice but behind a firewall.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Interview with Jim Holt

 Why does Jim Hilt exist? “I do in fact steer by One Big Idea, which makes me a hedgehog rather than a fox. It is this: the part of reality that we can make meaningful claims about is limited by our experience and observation. This is a Big Idea that tends to deflate other Big Ideas.”

Kalpana 1948

Martin Scorsese restored version here https://indiancine.ma/BKLU/player/EZU
This is through a comment in Richard Singer’s blog ‘Dances on the footpath’ where there is a discussion of different restored versions https://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2008/11/06/in-search-of-uday-shankars-kalpana-1948/#comment-13577
There is also one on YouTube https://youtu.be/e0U7ORtnJ78

An old post by Scott Alexander

Though I know the name, I have not really read any thing by Scott Alexander. Today, I stumbled on this old post I CAN TOLERATE ANYTHING EXCEPT THE OUTGROUP which has some very nice insights though some may be US specific like “I am saying that the underlying attitudes that produce partyism are stronger than the underlying attitudes that produce racism, with no necessary implications on their social effects.” A crucial insight which I liked and which reminded me of ‘intimate enmity’ of  D.R. Nagaraj (of The flaming feet) is the Narcissism of small differences. More about Scott Alexander and a link to some of his posts here.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

An apparaisal of Tom Paine

from Jacobin, last year. Reading Paine from the left by Sean Monahan. Paine’s writings were familiar in India in the fifties through cheap editions of American books published by USIS. I remember reading some of the works of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Gundhur and others those days. It is through John Gunthur’s ‘Death be not proud’ that I first came to know about John Donne. Somewhere around that time, I came across ‘Citizen Tom Paine’ and ‘Spartacus’ by Howard Fast. Some of these books seem still influential in my case.

Refugees at Dachau

The refugees housed at Dachau: 'Where else should I live?' “Like many other German towns, Dachau has made huge efforts to help refugees. The small community of only 45,000 inhabitants is housing about 350 refugees in the communal shelter. It is planning to open another shelter for up to 100 people in the coming months, and may see numbers rise given the current influx. Faced with such pressure on the available space, the town may not rehouse the Dachau camp residents any time soon. Hammermann, the director of the memorial site, says she could accept a compromise that would still see some of the buildings used as residential space, and the rest for exhibitions and seminars. Negotiations between the town and the state of Bavaria over the future use of the herb garden will take place this winter.”
This was from three years ago. Current situation?

Why don’t Americans take more vacations?

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Persistence of practices

During a recent trip to India, I noticed that though there is less resistance to divorce and remarriage than before, some of the attitudes widows seem unchanged. Even in the cases where widows regular saree and use bindu, when they are invited to functions either there is no bindu or it is put on the entrance of the house. This was in one area. Some practices related to ceremonies have strengthened; even those which were not observed frequently before like clothing ceremonies, and several ceremonies accompany marriages. This also seems to be true with Indian diaspora practicing various ceremonies when they buy new cars to houses. I started for looking for articles about change and persistence of practices, particularly associated with religion. In an interview with The Hindu, Daud Ali showed interest in such studies. But so far I could find only articles on friendship among the articles he authored. Perhaps there are more. Also, it seems difficult for people living abroad to observe current practices which have a lot of regional variation. Here is one more on friendship take from a book on ‘Same-sex love in India’. Unlike many interpretations of Gita, it emphsizes friendship between Krishna and Arjuna Ancient Indian materials by Ruth Vanita. Any pointers are welcome. 

Dalits among Gadars

Babu Ram and probably Pridhvi Singh Azad
Found these while listening to a story from Aruna Tella:”Aruna Tella tells me that he jumped from the train near Ongole while being transported from Andamans to Rajahmundry. He was from the Gadar party. He crawled to Mukhtinuthalapadu about four miles from Ongole. There was in the village who knew Hindi( this was in early 1920s) and his shackles were broken and are still on display in the village. He was recaptured and sent to Rajahmundry. Apparently Alluri Seetharama Raju tried to free him but failed and died soon after. So this was just before 1924. The Wikipedia entry says that he was a ‘harijan’ and also a Rajput from Punjab. He was a minister in Bhimsen Sachar cabinet in 1949 and died at the age of 96. His autobiography seems available at least in libraries and the google version confirms that he was in Ongole and Rajahmundry. He also visited Russia on the advice of Chandrasekhar Azad and a book on this trip is also available from libraries. More information welcome.”

A mosquitoe repellent

Devesh Kapur on social science research about India in USA

In the US, there is a rise of social science research about India – but it has little policy impact
When asked how many of these expensive randomised control trials had moved the policy needle in India, Arvind Subramanian, chief economic advisor to the Indian government (who announced in June that he would be stepping down from the post), was hard pressed to find a single one that had helped him address the dozens of pressing policy questions that came across his table. By contrast, the compiling of just some key facts on learning outcomes by the non-governmental organisation Pratham has had a big impact on policy discussions in education, because it is backed by a degree of specific knowledge and engagement that is more credible and persuasive. One could question whether “relevance” or “timeliness” are a valid standard for good research – yes they are, when those are precisely the reasons given to funders for these projects.
One should acknowledge the wide range of social science type work in US business schools, demography, and even development economics that has been adding to a body of knowledge about India. Nonetheless, a not inconsiderable number of research articles in top journals elide facts or simply interpret them selectively, relying on reviewers’ ignorance about India. That would normally not matter, but because they are published in prestigious journals, they effectively create “new facts” and become the gatekeepers of knowledge in that area.”

Lukaku Dummy

He did not touch the ball but look what he did Romelu Lukaku Against Japan during the last moments

The monster has been with us all along

Forget it By Corey Robin

Monday, July 02, 2018

Interesting new paper by Daniel Gilbert and others

but based on relatively small samples (20-100) of Harvard graduate students:
Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgement.
Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept of it. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This “prevalence-induced concept change” occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.
Discussion at Sciencedaily Problem with solving problems and Marginal Revolution Why Sexism and Racism Never Diminish–Even When Everyone Becomes Less Sexist and Racist

Daniel Gilbertis the author often best seller Stumbling on Happiness which has been mentioned before a few times in this blog. See also Overton window.