Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Autorickshaw vs The Free Market!

Again, the autorickshaw driver refused to give me conveyance from the suburban railway station back home. I was late in the evening and maybe he was winding up for the day and the direction he wished to go was opposite to where I wanted to. So, I was stranded at the railway station, tired after a long day at work, with a daunting task of having to walk 5km back home. Should I curse the free market system? After all, it is this system which allows these autorickshaw drivers to decide if they are going to accept taking me as their passenger, based on the overall benefit they see in the transaction. Right?
I think not... Read on

Friday, June 20, 2008

StumbleUpon a pot of Gold!

I have recently installed the now famous Stumbleupon toolbar on my internet explorer, and man! is it addictive! All I have to do is indicate what my preferences are and voila! I can be directed to very interesting websites I never knew existed! This works very well when you have sometime to kill; you have finished reading all the updates on the regular sites you usually visit and don’t know what to find on the internet. (Ofcourse, Stumbleupon is not a substitute for going outdoors or reading a book, when one has time to kill; but it defenitely makes sense when its pouring cats and dogs, especially in Mumbai, where one dares not venture far from home, during the rainy season)
Stumbleupon is a very powerful tool according to me. Google currently makes money by... Continue

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Smaller State? No, Smaller Government is Better...

The American magazine has an interesting article on the topic of Geopolitics and how maps are being redrawn. The article titled “Map Quest” talks about the continual flux in the way the various nations of the world keep changing in their ideaologies and with it the economic conditions leading to different postures in foreign policy. Economic changes and the ambitions of the people of a nation always seems to have some kind of correlation. What seems to be interesting is the fact that this economic upswing and downswing seems to be of a cyclical nature.

Take for example the case of India and China; some three hundred years ago, the Indian and Chinese economies were the dominant economies in the world. America and Japan were nothing more that third world countries. During this period, most products that originated in the subcontinent and China were held in very high esteem. And true to the famous saying that ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’ the western businessmen actually copied the articles from the oppulent orient and sold it in their countries for a premium. Ceramic is a classic example of this kind of a situation. It was a product of China and some European entrepreneurs perfected a process to make cheap imitation ceramic and sold it to the western nations. Today, when the US is the dominant economy, we see a reverse situation. Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs are the one becoming competitive by manufacturing western products in a cheaper and better way! Continue...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Krypton-86 vs The Infinite Wisdom

Jug Suraiya has an interesting article in The Times of India dated 14th, June 2008. It lambasts a research/survey which claims that atheists are smarter than theists. When I read the first few lines I was appalled; how could good ol’ Jug Suraiya do this. As an agnostic myself, I was offended that Jug Suraiya thought that Atheism/Agnosticism did not need intellect.
But after completing the whole article I was in splits. Jug Suraiya contends,
Atheism requires no special brain power. It’s as easy as falling off a log. It’s believing in a God who — omnipotently, omnisciently — creates all these horrors, and more (Hitler, Hiroshima, Mao, Pol Pot, the AIDS virus, sickle cell anaemia, Alzheimer’s, polio etc, etc), which requires adroit intellectual footwork
This indeed is funny stuff. But, however agnostic/atheist I am, there is a seed of doubt. For a believer, there is the blanket of blind faith which covers for all questions; for non-believers on the other hand, there is no such prodigal blanket of faith... Continue


It is almost fascinating (as if by intelligent design!!) that I came across an article in today’s edition of The American after writing this post, about the culture war between believers and non-believers. Peter J Wallison, in the article titled “Lets declare a truce in the culture war” argues on a similar premise that both the believer and the non-believer are basically unable to prove or falsify the other’s belief. To quote the author,

To the extent that they believe in the correctness of their own position, both sides are simply relying on faith. The only truly rational position is that of the agnostic, who says there is no way to know and probably never will be

I very much agree with what the author contends on this topic. All the rhetoric from both the believer and the non-believer about the correctness of his personal belief and more so the incorrectness of the other side is unfounded and wasteful.... Continue

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Constraints, and the way to approach issues

Manangement techniques and aproaches argue that there are constraints which govern any business model and the businesses need to exploit their available resources to the maximum extent therby achieving the best possible outcome that is ‘allowed’, as defined by the limits imposed by the constraints.
A thought came to me when I was travelling on the local suburban trains here in Mumbai. Amongst the three suburban rail corridors which run in Mumbai, the Western Railway system is considered to be better than that of the Central Railway and the Harbour Line. Not that the Western Railway is any less crowded, but what one observes is that rakes on the Western corridor are better maintained and rattle and sway less, literally!
I was being thrown about on the Central Railway earlier today, between the Currey Road junction and Victoria Terminus; and this dichotomy came to my mind.... Continue

Friday, June 13, 2008

Whose Plate is Half Full?

The Financial Times has a lead article on India’s rising inflation. The wholesale price inflation today (June 13th, 2008 ) hit a seven year high of 8.77%. This figure has crossed the anticipated figures by most economists and has got most policy makers tied up in knots over the impact on the economy. The major cause people attribute to the inflation is the rise in crude oil prices and to the rise in food prices. The increase in food prices in India has followed the international trend with around a 30 to 50% increase in the prices of commodities like rice, lentils, vegetables and milk.
The global food crisis which has been in the media for a while now has prompted many reactions from across the spectrum of observers. Policy makers in the government have gone on to increase price controls on food commodities to control the spiraling food prices leading to greater regulatory architecture coming into the market. Other reactions which have come to the media, mainly because of their comical nature, is the assertion of President Bush that food prices around the world are increasing as Indians are eating more!
One intriguing argument .... continue
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