Apr 29, 2008

The One with the Sting

I dont think there is any doubt about the fact that Gill and Co have been a disaster for Indian Hockey. At a time when the country as a whole has grown manifold, Indian Hockey kept losing its place in the Indian consciousness.

However, one point must be mentioned. Every time a politician is caught in a sting row, there are all these questions raised about the ethics of stings and all the news channels are basically told to self regulate and the specter of the Orwellian broadcasting bill is raised. Here, no questions about the ethics of Sting. No one raised a doubt on Gill, still this incident was good enough to dissolve the IHF.

How many chief of parliamentary whips were even asked to resign in the Cash for Questions sting. How many indirect parties have resigned over any sting when it comes to politicians

Apr 19, 2008

The Current Food "Crisis" or "Opportunity"

The Economist has a very good chart explaining the causes of the current crisis. While the food prices started rising, the market has started responding with in creasing yield in the last year. The other notable thing to note is how the yield growth has stagnated over the last 45 years.

I guess that the rise in food prices is following the natural rise of commodity prices in the last decade or so following increasing demand from India China etc, and thus food prices thus following commodities like Oil, Metals etc (While you may argue Metal prices are cyclic, i do believe the current upturn is more secular in nature. So, if we agree with the given analysis and assume that the increased food prices are here to stay, we shall come to the important question - What will be the impact on India, and thus How should the Indian policymakers respond.

Regarding the impact, i think there is a clear dichotomy exist(as it should), between the demand side and supply side. While the Indian consumers will suffer, there is tremendous scope for gains to the Indian primary sector. Let us focus on the structural changes due to higher prices which will improve the primary sector*

Government - Government will be unencumbered by the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism and then can fully focus on the market enabling measures to ensure that the gains in trade are diffused enough to prevent backlash of higher prices among general populace. Here the basic logic is that while the MSP does create a floor of prices, the given inefficiencies in the buffer system, means that the gains form trade are not passed on to the farmers in times of high prices. With the high prices, the burden of procurement will be on government and thus will have a fiscal impact, but anyway i don't expect the government to be fiscally efficient in near term.

Market - Higher floor prices means that enough incentives exist for the middlemen and traders to take advantage of India's improving road and rail connectivity to reach the hinterland leading to better price discovery across locations

Farmers- Incentives to improve productivity, and increasing disposable income.

Frankly, rising food prices can be an unmitigated blessing for a country like India with the worlds highest gross acreage and largest population in agriculture. Just imagine Oil Prices doubling for Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia on the cusp of finding more oil wells. Well for us, the oil prices have just doubled and the infrastructure and communications improvement are our new oil wells.

* Of course the glaring omission in this analysis is the effect of high prices on inflation thus leading to loss in real income for many of the populace. I still feel that the government should take a fiscal hit rather than limit the upside of the price rise for million of farmers by commodity price targeting which seems to be the current mode of thinking in the current political/bureaucrat regime.

Picture Courtesy The Economist

The Debate Starts

If you follow English soccer, football rather, you must be aware of the "club vs country" debates that rages every time the English national team under performs, which btw makes it sort of an annual debate. Now i feel Indians are going to have the taste of the debate big time with the start of IPL.
Also on a serious track, some of the celebrations was off putting for me, its alright for Shahrukh to cheer Mccullum hitting Zaheer as he is the owner, but the odd thing was that nobody mentions the of shifting loyalty from country to club and the implicit transition. It is as if the official policy of the event organisers particularly the commentators is to not to comment on the contradiction and just hope that by pretending that strong Club loyalties exist and behaving as such will make the crowd see it that way. Well i am not convinced and find it difficult to accept that i will ever cheer Zaheer getting hit for a six by Mccullum.

Also for a bit of humorous take, see my cricket fanatic friend and perennial commenter Vibhash's post

Beyond Washington Consensus

Dani Rodrik says
successful policy reform is at its core governance reform
I completely agree with this sentiment. For too long, the multilateral agencies have focussed on policy formulations and seeing it fail and blaming it on governance. While the link has been made many times, mostly in a post facto manner. The right way to go about is i think going for governance reform, enablers (Specifically MIS), and then policy reforms. While this seems self evident on reading, it must be noted that "washington consensus" which was the staple of reforms under development agencies, for long has focussed on policy reforms while treating Governance as an exogenous variable.

The unbearable longing for emptiness of being

One of the great things about my life is, i really long for these moments of emptiness...when the world sort of stops...you are not supposed to meet any deadlines...you are at peace with yourself...when i can do anything i want.. (which is basically nothing)..I i really go for pop psychoanalysis of myself, its the lazy bugger syndrome..i cant seem to handle stress and so long for escapism....but that will be the cynical approach...the solitude coupled with the belssedness really does makes you feel like nirvan is actually not a bogus concept.

Apr 18, 2008

The Linearity of Time in the Space Time Continuum

The signs were all there. I was being nice to people. I was not abusing my friends nearly enough. I tried to resist thinking about it, i even tried some counter measures e.g Singing frequently, extemporaneously giin dissertations about my innate qualities etc, b ut my friends i cannot ignore it anylonger, for today was the last straw. I failed to eat just half a water melon. I am sad to state that i have grwon up and my bodyt has given up on my will powers ability to turn back the clock. So from now onwards, less antics and more books. prepared to be surprised.

Apr 14, 2008

The Moment

There was this sweet types golf movie called 'Tin Cup' starring Kevin Costner and Rene Russo..and while the movie was the typical run of the mill underdog sports movie..one of the statements really stuck with me..it goes something like.."when the defining moment comes..either you define the moment or the moment defines you".. ..and right now, i feel like one of those defining moment are going to cross by me.. and i really wanna be an active player in this round...and hope my golf is better than roy mcavoy.

P.S - Talkin of defining moments etc- this is my 100th Post. Thanks to all of my readers....(Yes chuchu and malik u both)