Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Honest scrape

“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog’s content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!”

So Mathew thinks the blog's content is brilliant and all (the design certainly hasn't been changed one bit from what blogger provided me). Thanks Mathew! I take a bow! Then an arrow! I aim, and shoot him with it. For he has put me in spot of bother. It is very hard for me to write about myself. I don't I have any very clear notion of what I'm like. But here's my list:

1) I think I have little fear of money today. Since I started earning, which was about 3 years ago when I started my PhD, I have made a deliberate effort to overcome fear of money. I have splurged in a number of ways to overcome all inhibition to spending money and to avoid the rut of the saving mind-set. This has liberated me considerably from over-valuing money. Now I see it completely as a means to desired ends. I find that this has been a source of much happiness and freedom to me.

2) That said, I also like to keep a minimalist lifestyle. Hence, most of my splurging has been on non-durable goods and services. I have not splurged on acquiring material possessions. To illustrate, I still wear in the US my T-shirts from my school days and shirts that my grand-dad used to wear decades ago. Even in the future, I do not see myself acquiring a big home or a big car or other such possessions off my own desire. I am not interested. In fact, I find them a burden.

3) I am atheist. I am actually an agnostic in that I can't disprove the existence of god. However, I am reluctant to say this because too many believers are ignorant of Russell's teapot, and keep trying to prove the existence of god through a gap-filling exercise in one's arguments, rather than by making a proper proof for god's existence.

4) I am a sports addict. I absolutely LOVE playing sports. With all modesty, I am reasonably good at volleyball, table tennis, basketball and cricket. I am currently actively looking to improve at raquetball.

5) I try to be objective in thought. I certainly wish to be.

6) I used to be a terribly ill-tempered kid. In particular, I have troubled my brother, and hence my mother, a lot. But I have turned out alright. I rarely lose my temper any more. And my family would agree.

7) I love my family very much. However, if you were ever to meet us, you would never get that impression because we have almost no explicit show of affection.

8) I honestly think I am happier in the present than in the past, and that conscious effort goes a long way in helping to keep one happy. I see myself only getting happier in the future.

9) I don't feel a sense of belonging with any one community in my country. I was born in Kerala, brought up in Hyderabad, and speak a vague palakkad iyer-ish tamizh at home. So although I know malayalam, tamil, telugu and Hindi, I don't ever feel a sense of belonging with any one community wholly.

10) I make acquaintances easily but I don't make friends easily. The former because of my familiarity with so many regions and languages(including English of course), and the fact that I am curious about people. The latter because most Indian boys/men, I've noticed, move in regional groups, and since I am not properly a part of any one, I get left out or feel odd. Secondly, I might be too judgemental for my own good. That makes it very hard for an individual to jump the acquaintance/friend barrier.

I don't really think there are 7 people I know who read this blog regularly. So I tag:
Gounder Brownie
Rukmani Ram
You reading this line.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


I am certain democracy isn't the best form of governance for a nation, in terms of efficacy. But pics like this make me think it IS the most lovable form of government :)

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8014949.stm

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Manmohan Sick!

I seriously feel like puking after reading that Manmohan Singh took Obama's autograph after the G20 summit! YUCK! The rest of the article makes for an interesting read too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I remember that either one or both of Bush and McCain used to say 'nucular weapons'. But having little respect for either I thought it was an individual idio(cy)syncrasy. However, today I witnessed an interview of former Joint Chief of Staffs Richard Myers on the Charlie Rose show and even he said 'nucular' weapons! I was a little taken aback by this and after some thought I finally managed to convince myself that given the informal nature of American communications even at official levels, they must be very used to saying 'nuke's. So out of that habit they just say 'nukular' like tubular or granular and mean by 'nukular weapons' 'nuke-like weapons' or WMDs. Finally, things are cular!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Why not?

Why is it south/north-west/east and not west/east-south/north?


In general, there is a time lag between the institution of an economic policy and its consequences being reflected in the economy. The reasons could be a combination of factors like market inertia, time for enforcing of the policy measures, time for the ensuing changes to become significant etc: If the elections happen at a spacing that is equal to the lag, the ratio of bad governments to good governments for the nation would be 2 to 1 given a voting populace whose default state is anti-incumbent and a two party system. This is because when we have a good government that implements beneficial economic policies, the changes will only be seen when the next government(the bad one) is voted in to power. Now when the bad government is in power, it will benefit in its first term from the previous government's good policies, although it would be sowing the seeds for disaster with its own economic policies. So it will be re-elected by the public, and the public will find a poor performance in its second term due to the bad policies of the first term. Now the bad government will be voted out and we have the good government back in again, but during their governance the economy will reflect the bad policies of the previous government and hence they get voted out, and this cycle repeats! So as you can see, if the spacing between elections is not calculated to be over twice the lag between the institution of an economic policy and its impact reflecting in the economy(in a theoretical world this can be quantified), we'll have a greater period of bad governance than good given a two party system and a populace that is anti-incumbent. I didn't really pull this out of a hat. What prompted all this thought was the possibilities in the present system. India, it has been observed, is invariably anti-incumbent. Also, at present, while there is no single party majority, there is essentially a two-party or to be more precise a two-coalition system(viz the UPA and the NDA). The UPA has been shining in the limelight of the average educated public's eyes largely because of brilliant and active liberalisation policies pursued by the NDA government when it was in power. So now you see what got me thinking about this whole business!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Just when I thought I couldn't decide on my vote!

I see this. But I don't believe it! That seals it for me. There is no way anyone in praise of the terrible fiasco that was the attempted socialism of the Indhira Gandhi days can be trusted with my country in today's globalised world when India is finally developing thanks largely to hard fought and won efforts at liberalisation. India is still nursing the sore wounds of the Indira Gandhi regime and here we have her progeny praising that same nationalisation debacle that stalled the liberalised regime of the 1950s and even the relatively liberal regime of the early 1960s and finally dealt death blows to private and foreign investment in India! And to top it all, I don't quite understand why Sonia speaks of Indhira's move to nationalisation as if it was calculated to benefit the nation. Here is what the above article quotes her as saying:
"Every passing day bears out the wisdom of that decision. Public sector financial institutions have given our economy the stability and resilience we are now witnessing in the face of the economic slowdown,” Gandhi told a conference in New Delhi on Friday morning.

But here's the truth(Source: India - The Emerging Giant, Arvind Panagariya p.53):
In his memoir, I. G. Patel (2002, p. 135), who served as the economic secretary in the Finance Ministry at the time the banks were nationalized offers an interesting account of the decision-making process:
It was, I think, later in July 1969 that I was sent for once again. No one else was present. Without any fanfare, she asked me whether banking was under my charge. On my telling her it was, she simply said, “For political reasons, it has been decided to nationalize the banks. You have to prepare within 24 hours the bill, a not for the Cabinet and a speech for me to make to the nation on the radio tomorrow evening. Can you do it and make sure there is no leak?” There was no pretence that this was not a political decision, and the message was clear that no argument from me was required. I assured her that we will keep to the timetable and keep the secret. I summoned courage, however, to make two suggestions: to leave the foreign banks alone, and nationalize only the major ones. The former was intended to avoid a sharp reaction abroad; and the latter because the purpose would be served by taking only the major banks and leaving the scores of small banks alone. She immediately agreed and added that she could trust the details to me.

That political decision was in reference to a power struggle between I Gandhi and the Syndicate(Morarji Desai et al).

p.s: I am not sure how much influence Sonia might exert over Manmohan's decisions or the finance and commerce minsters' portfolios but it is a risk I'm unwilling to take.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Its a good thing I don't have to vote

The BJP said it was also committed to building a temple to Hindu god Ram in the northern town of Ayodhya.
So much for secular government! :(

I am utterly confounded as to whom to vote for! (if I were in the country that is)