Saturday, May 30, 2015

Some economics ideas from India

This is probably the most familiar but it seems to have started with a Britisher:
The myth of self-sufficiency of the Indian village by M.N.Srinivas and A.N. Shaw (1960 EPW)
The next about Gandhi says his ideas kept evolving and he is closer to Marx except for the methods:
Five myths about Gandhian economics by Koipillai Joseph: ""As a rule, whenever there seem to be conflicting pronouncements of Gandhi on any subject, the chronologically latest one is the idea that should be attributed to him...... He was not only a firm believer in socialism, but his socialism is of a very radical kind. He sometimes referred to himself as a foremost communist. His disagreement with the Marxists and communists was not about the end to be sought about which he had no quarrel with them but about the means to be adopted for the attainment of the goals of communism. " 
Ambedkar: the forgotten free market economist
Gadgil on Indian economics A review of the selected writings of D.R. Gadgil (1901-1971) "The economy was, for him, always in “a traverse from a traverse to a traverse.” His objective then was to indicate policy initiatives that could be effective in this process of continuing change. His scepticism about the value of theoretical models led to a focus on empirical micro pictures, which, in turn, led to an emphasis on local solutions, as reflected, for example, in his faith in the cooperative movement."

Strange dance song from a strange movie

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two from Michael Hudson

Fast Track for whom? (via Naked Capitalism) : "So the attempt--there's a belief among most Americans who read the paper that somehow if you sign this agreement it's just about freer trade, and all of our existing laws would remain on the books, both for us and for Malaysia and Japan and other countries. But that's not the case. They don't realize that the agreement is to essentially pass, nullify any law on the book that doesn't benefit corporations or benefits labor."
Ukraine's "Operation Vulture" and Labor Protests
Ramarao Kanneganti (also Lambert Strether) link to an article on water problems and farm subsidies in the west of USA Holy Crop: How federal dollars are financing the water crisis in the west. Lambert Strether's reaction:
"Interesting read on “Killing the Colorado”:
Growing cotton in the desert, long term, may be doomed.
Ya think? But it seems to me that the entire venture of setting up huge cities in the desert may have issues of its own. And to my taste, the theme of the Pro Publica article is a bit too close to “market distortions caused by evil government” for my taste, as if somehow Big Gummint forced people to live in the habitat they in fact systematically optimized for their own lifestyle and profit. Maybe water should be managed as a common pool resource, and not private property at all?"
Ramarao's reaction "The problem is that the current policies are holdover from the great depression era. Once we create an entitlement program, it is tough to take it away. Just like how the government did not pull the plug on Detroit car industry in the 70's that prolonged the misery (if it put in the money to do the transition, it would have been better). The current agricultural policies in the US often do not make sense."
These subsidies also figure in the Bali Bali package which India fought hard to dilute. Finally, it seems to a program that outlived its useful and in the current conditions seems to be detrimental to all.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

China on the march

New Silk Road could change global economics forever from Oil Drum by Robert Berke.
How the new China's Silk Road is shifting geopolitics by Robert Yerke, discussion in Naked Capitalism
Yves Smith about TPP which seems to more about containing China America's first black president throwing slaves under the bus on TPP

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two from Chris Blattman

From 15th May, IPA Weekly links:
  • A new IPA/J-PAL six-country randomized controlled trial looking at the ultra-poor (people living on less than what $1.25 would buy in the US, about 1 in 7 people worldwide), was published in Science. The Graduation approach offers six things:
    • A “productive asset” (way to make a living, livestock, or goods to start a store, or beehives to make honey)
    • Training on how to use it
    • Basic health support to keep them healthy enough to work
    • “Consumption support” – some cash or food for daily living while they’re learning to use the asset
    • Weekly visits from a coach for 2 years to help them overcome obstacles and raise aspirations
    • A savings account to help them build a buffer for future expenses
The researchers found benefits across the board, and scale-ups are happening in Ethiopia, India, and Pakistan. Study here (ungated), and more on the Graduation approach from NPR and the New York Times Fixes."
And from 26th May The geek heretic : One of the ideas in the book is that technology takes us only as far as our capabilities. A nice quote from Bill Gates sums it up:
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an
efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Monday, May 25, 2015

John Nash RIP

Obituary from The Guardian
From another obituary Economics in one lesson: Nash:
"he concept that makes an economist a true economist is instead Nash equilibrium. That is, it is the marginal contribution of an economist to any situation. The idea is simple: if you are trying to assess the impact of your actions, you need to consider the equilibrium. That is, you need to work out whether, if you did something, holding the actions of others fixed today, that others will likely keep their actions fixed tomorrow. If not, you need to alter your decision calculus markedly. For instance, it makes no sense to say that a new innovation (e.g., Bitcoin) will win in the market unless you can also assess that it will win in a market that understands the new innovation (e.g., one where many actors have adopted crypocurrencies or some other variant) as well as in a market still centred around traditional banking.
Indeed, even opportunity cost can be rarely computed without working out the full equilibrium of a path not taken. This is why, if I were to re-write Economics in One Lesson, it is Nash equilibrium that would be the lesson and not opportunity cost."
From a post Steven Hsu in 2011 What use is game theory?:
"I agree with Rubinstein that game theory has little predictive power in the real world, despite the pretty mathematics. Experiments at RAND (see, e.g., Mirowski's Machine Dreams) showed early game theorists, including Nash, that people don't conform to the idealizations in their models. But this wasn't emphasized (Mirowski would claim it was deliberately hushed up) until more and more experiments showed similar results. (Who woulda thought -- people are "irrational"! :-)

Perhaps the most useful thing about game theory is that it requires you to think carefully about decision problems. The discipline of this kind of analysis is valuable, even if the models have limited applicability to real situations."
Steven Hsu's obituary talks of one of Nash's profound contributions to mathematics.
One of the comments "I use game theory (potential games, specifically) to design distributed algorithms where multiple AIs interact with one another. It allows me to bound convergence time, guarantee stability, and predict operating points.
That it is applied to machine intelligence instead of human intelligence is critical as I'm assured that the utility functions that I'm modeling are exactly the utility functions being used to guide the decisions."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Links 24/5/2015

India should make more of a valuable asset abroad from The Economist but it is a double edged sword I think.
Japan and China play one-upmanship over the AIIB from Asia Times
Brics to establish new multi-currency financial order-experts to RT
Brics trample US in South America from RT
Borders are closing and banks in retreat. Is globalisation dead? from The Guardian
The West and IS Similar reports in several places.
Some of the links above are via The Automatic Earth
Saudi Arabia seeking to head the United Nations Human Rights Council from The Independent
How to motivate your kids from skipping school? (via Anirban Mukhopadhay): "It seems like a no-brainer: Offer kids a reward for showing up at school, and their attendance will shoot up. But a recent study of third-graders in a slum in India suggests that incentive schemes can do more harm than good."
Gulzar Natarajan reports on recent research Broken Windows Theory and Public Policy
France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities (via Rahul Siddharthan)
The news from Britain was a bit different last year.

The daily Buddha

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Some interesting reads

Anatomy of Error, about brain surgeon Henry Marsh from NewYorker
A plea for culinary modernism. Jacobin draws attention a 14 year old article
How spelling keeps kids from learning (about English)
George Yeo's book introduction to his speeches (Former Foreign Affairs minister of Singapore via Akshay Regulagedda)
This is what happens after you die via Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism
NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Plants via Lambert Strether
Slum squeeze for Melbourne overseas students
Gender and the Harvard Math Department by Meena Bopanna, granddaughter of people I know from USA who are contribute to a lot of social work in India through Hope for Humanity.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Elizabeth Warren on TPP

ELIZABETH WARREN: I've joined with Senator Heitkamp, Senator Manchin and a number of other senators to propose a simple change to the fast-track bill, a change that would prevent Congress from using this expedited process on any trade deal that includes so-called investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, and I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to support this amendment. 

ISDS is an obscure process that allows big companies to go to corporate-friendly arbitration panels that sit outside any court system in order to challenge laws they don't like. 

These panels can force taxpayers to write huge checks to those big corporations with no need to file a suit in court, no appeals and no judicial review. Now, most Americans don't think that the minimum wage or anti-smoking regulations are trade barriers, but a foreign corporation used ISDS to sue Egypt after Egypt raised its minimum wage. 

Tobacco giant Philip Morris went after Australia and Uruguay to stop their rules to cut smoking rates. 

Under TPP, corporations can use these channels to challenge rules right here in America. 

It wasn't always this way. ISDS has been around for a while. From 1959 to 2002 there were fewer than a hundred claims in the whole world. But boy, has that changed. In 2012 alone there were 58 corporate cases. Corporate lawyers figured out how powerful a tool these panels can be for corporate clients. 

Huge financial penalties that these cases can impose on taxpayers have already caused New Zealand to give up on some tough anti-smoking rules. It's already caused Germany to pull back from clean water protections. And it's caused Canada to stand down on environmental protections. 

If that worries you, you're not alone. 
Michael Wessel: I've read Obama's secret trade deal. Elizabeth Warren is right to be concerned:
"The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design—anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.
I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what's hidden in this trade deal—and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.......................
The text of the TPP, like all trade deals, is a closely guarded secret. That fact makes a genuine public debate impossible and should make robust debate behind closed doors all the more essential. But the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors."

Discussions of mathiness of economics

Peter Dorman in Econospeak (where there are many more posts recently on the topic):
"Paul Romer’s eruption against mathiness has been quite a spectacle.  Here you have an iconic name in modern economic theory throwing a fit in public, naming names (some of them also iconic) and denouncing his adversaries as enemies of scientific and ethical norms.  It’s a bit over the top, a bit overdue and a bit underconsidered.

I want to focus on the underconsidered part.  I was alerted to this aspect of Romer’soriginal paper by his sideswipes at Joan Robinson and the UK faction of the Cambridge capital controversy.  Now, it happens that I take a middle position on this dispute: I think they were both in some sense wrong.  The British Cantabrigians, along with their Italian comrades, were arguing from a model whose equilibrium assumption (equal rates of profit in all processes) is meaningless, in a mathiness sense, in an intertemporal context.  (If you think Lucas rational expectations is a stretch, Sraffa rational expectations is even crazier.)   But the MITers were also defending an aggregation of physical capital and its equivalence to a sum of financial capital that was also shown to be mathy—see here and here.  Romer’s attack on Robinson was signaling that a double standard was at work."
The second link at the end is to an expensive book, but it is available for free download at A shorter version in a 2014 paper The Aggregate Production Function 'Not Even Wrong'. A quote
 "The “aggregate production function” Solow diffidentlyintroduces (he is not really diffident: he is pretending to be for rhetorical effect) says the making of our daily bread is like a mathematical function’ (McCloskey,1998, p. 48). Put like this, it seems incredible that a function with only two arguments, K and L, together with a shift factor, can adequately represent the total output of an economy."

That is similar to my reaction as an outsider when I first came across Solow Model. See also The superiority of Economics by M.Fourcade and others as to how the profession came to be dominant in spite of dubious foundations of some of the main areas in it.

Seth Ackerman in his review of Piketty also praised the book and some of the difficulties in Piketty's book seem to be due to using these dubious methods in theory parts.

One more from Econospeak 'Napoleon Solow and the Phantom Mechanism'.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Similar songs different music directors If that disappears, there is an audio here, song number six in It was sung by Ravu Balasaraswati Devi and A.P.Komala%E0%B0%9C%E0%B0%AF%E0%B0%B8%E0%B0%BF%E0%B0%82%E0%B0%B9/
That was 1955 Telugu movie and was either remade in Hindi as Jaisingh (1959). This time, it was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar and the MD is Ramesh Naidu.

Jogendra Nath Mandal

The Outlook article by S. Anand linked in the previous post leads to the first law minister of Pakistan Jogendranath Mandal, a follower of Ambedkar. According to Wikipedia "As leader of the Scheduled Castes, Jogendranath had made common cause with the Muslim League in their demand[citation needed] for Pakistan, hoping that the Scheduled Castes would be benefited from it and joined the first cabinet in Pakistan as the Minister of Law and Labour. He migrated to India a few years after partition after submitting his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan."
Here is a copy of Mandal's resignation letter from October 1950 to the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan. It is long but gives a glimpse of those times. It seems that Mandal too was shafted like B. Ambedkar.

Another Nehru-Ambedkar interaction

From S.Anand in and in Outlookindia:
"Let us begin at the end, with one of the worst humiliations in Ambedkar’s life, less than three months before his death. On September 14, 1956, exactly a month before he embraced Buddhism with half-a-million followers in Nagpur, he wrote a heart-breaking letter to prime minister Nehru from his 26, Alipore Road, residence in Delhi. Enclosing two copies of the comprehensive Table of Contents of his mnemonic opus, The Buddha and His Dhamma, Ambedkar suppressed pride and sought Nehru’s help in the publication of a book he had worked on for five years:
“The cost of printing is very heavy and will come to about Rs 20,000. This is beyond my capacity, and I am, therefore, canvassing help from all quarters. I wonder if the Government of India could purchase 500 copies for distribution among the various libraries and among the many scholars whom it is inviting during the course of this year for the celebration of Buddha’s 2,500 years’ anniversary.”
Ambedkar had perhaps gotten used to exclusion by then. The greatest exponent of Buddhism after Asoka had ruthlessly been kept out of this Buddha Jayanti committee presided over by S. Radhakrishnan, then vice-president and a man who embarrassingly believed that Buddhism was an “offshoot of Hinduism”, and “only a restatement of the thought of the Upanishads from a new standpoint”. Worse, when Nehru replied to Ambedkar the next day, he said that the sum set aside for publications related to Buddha Jayanti had been exhausted, and that he should approach Radhakrishnan, chairman of the commemorative committee. Nehru also offered some business advice, gratuitously: “I might suggest that your books might be on sale in Delhi and elsewhere at the time of Buddha Jayanti celebrations when many people may come from abroad. It might find a good sale then.” Radhakrishnan is said to have informed Ambedkar on phone about his inability to help him."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why are these two books by Emmanuel Todd so expensive?

Unknown buskers in Toronto playing Awara Hun

Where are the poor?

I grew up in coastal Andhra (1941-54) and then got interested in mathematics and it has been a life of abstract thinking since then. My main connection with reality seem to those early years when poverty seemed to be all around. Now visits to that area are about once in year and half or so. Other NRIs from Melbourne visit more often to visit relatives or sick relatives or attend or perform weddings. I ask them about the poor. They say it is all fine now and there are very few poor. That does not correspond with my readings from Angus Deaton and others. So what goes? Again from my readings, the so called middle class in India is very small: about ten percent or so. So, I tell my friends this and say that may be they see only the relatively affluent. Some of them say that they spoke to one of their drivers. The personal drivers in India are an interesting category. Apart from driving, they do several tasks for the car owners like grocery shopping or car repairs and some of them keep a fraction of the proceedings. Since they spend a lot of time outside the house waiting for the owner's call they also interact with other drivers and one can get a lot of information and gossip about the other affluent people from them. So meeting them does not tell much about the poor.
My own impressions is that it reduced in some pockets. In coastal Andhra, I see much less beggars than those days and people do look a bit bigger than before. But it is different in Kolkata where you see a lot of thin people or the boatman on whose boat I crossed Hooghly for two rupees. I also saw women repairing tar roads with clothes tied around their feet, with babies sleeping on the roadside and they go off and on to feed them. There are some very rich neighbourhoods in Hyderabad where you dot see poor because they are kept outside by gatekeepers. But if there is a construction site, you can see many of the workers in small tents in rain and shine. In empty lots, you can sometimes see itinerant groups from medicine men to repairers camping. You can see them in the photographs of Kandukuri Ramesh Babu, or ...of lives and livelihoods series of Madhukar Shukla or from archives like those of P.Sainath. But we do not usually see them from our friends on Facebook which often show paunchy people attending functions or enjoying good food.
May be we cannot see misery all the time. We want to make our own spaces and live in some sort of comfort. After all, we have to make a livelihood, achieve some thing, caught up in these paradigms of growth and achievement. And anecdotal evidence and our own experiences are unreliable. Nor data as Angus Deaton and Tom Slee point out.
P.S. On my wall, Professor Shkla responded:
that's an interesting blog and observation, Prof!
the trend of keeping poor out of the frame in bollywood perhaps started with a film "Dil Chahta Hai" some 10-15 years back (good entertaining film, but that perhaps was the first of this kind showing a 
different sanitized reality), and now there are many movies which would fall into this category.
incidentally, poor have not disappeared - they are all around - in and in the backyard of most prosperous places... but mostly we dont "see" them

My response:
Professor Shukla, I see it a bit differently. We had this exclusion from times immemorial (for lower castes who were essentially poor and in Europe for Jews and Gypsies). During independence movement, there was some flowering of ideas but leadership was mostly from the privileged groups. I think films were influenced by this flowering as well as money at the bottom of the pyramid. That is why classical music, dance previously the exclusive to the privileged classes was reluctantly (remember the Keskar ban) 'diluted' (though some forms were originally adopted from folk idioms) to appeal to the masses. But now with a bigger middle class and NRI market, films can afford to ignore the poor again. Many sceneries in Piku look like those in Hollywood movies, highways, roadside restaurants etc. I think that there is also resurgence of classical music and dance among the middle classes and NRIs.  May be.

Friday, May 15, 2015



After a three year study Back-scratching: Do what is best for your mates and screw the rest:
"For me the take-home lessons are: 
  • Loyalty is strong. Rotation policies are good, unless those people being rotated in have existing loyalties. This means there is a trade-off for regulators; staff with more industry experience are also likely to come with stronger prior alliances and hence be more prone to back-scratching. In politics it means voting in a different political party brings with it the alliances of that party.
  • Bureaucracy can work. The array of procedures emerging in our large organisations could simply be the result of seeking internal fairness over favouritism. But back-scratching can still arise even with minimal amounts of discretion.
  • Social norms are strong. In organisations or groups where some people are observed ‘doing the right thing for the group’, this quickly becomes the norm. Whereas where favouritism is observed, the group descends into counterproductive back-scratching.
  • Be loyal, but not too loyal. If your alliance partner fails to come through with favours when expected it pays to look for someone else whose back needs scratching." and "And if you look deep enough there is an evolutionary foundation for this behaviour. As Joshua Green explains: 
  • Morality evolved to enable cooperation, but this conclusion comes with an important caveat. Biologically speaking, humans were designed for cooperation, but only with some people. Our moral brains evolved for cooperation within groups, and perhaps only within the context of personal relationships. Out moral brains did not evolve for cooperation between groups (at least not all groups). How do we know this? Because universal cooperation is inconsistent with the principles of natural selection. I wish it were otherwise, but there's no escaping this conclusion
    This. Fundamentally. Is why corrupt back-scratching is so hard to eradicate, and why it will continue to be the main game in politics." The part attributed to Joshua Greene seems to from a review of Joshua Green book by Thomas Nagel

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tom Slee on open data

From 'Seeing like a geek": "According to Bhuvaneswari Raman, the Dalit claim was sideswiped by a Tamil Nadu government program to standardize, digitize and centralize land records. The program, promoted by the World Bank as a pro-poor, pro-transparency initiative, was undertaken to capitalize on the boom in nearby Chennai. The absence of clear land titles made extensive land purchases time consuming and expensive, and this was a bottleneck to large-scale development projects. As part of the program, the Tamil Nadu government declared that the digitized records would be the only evidence admissable in court for land claims, so the older records and less precise data that formed the basis of the Dalit claims lost any legal footing they had, and their claim was sunk.
A new generation of land developers grew up alongside the digitized records: firms with the skills and information to make efficient use of this new resource. These developers lobbied effectively for records and spatial data to be made open, and then used their advantages to displace smaller firms who, as Raman writes, "relied on their knowledge of local histories and relationships to assemble land for development". The effects went far beyond the three-acre plot near Marakkanan: newly visible master plans became used as "the reference point to label legal and illegal spaces and as a justification for evicting the poor from their economic and residential spaces." The "pro-poor" initiative turned out to be anything but. Tamil Nadu was not alone in running an open data project that made life harder for the poor; neighbouring Karnataka’s "Bhoomi" (or ‘land’) e-governance program has had similar effects....."

Some studies about empowerment

In a previous post, I said "most people are corrupt and take advantage of whatever privileges they have". I meant not just corporations and the -1 percent. In ny case, in what sense is this correct? at personal level, I have seen how cast connections work in India or in different countries middle class people encroaching public land, or people using office stationary for personal purposes.At the academic level, I have read some articles from India in connection with "The 74th amendment, or Nagarapalika Act, provides a legal framework for urban self-governance, and the ministry of urban development of the government of India claims on its web site that the Act has “made the urban local bodies into vibrant self-governing institutions”." John Harriss in a study of civil society organizations in Chennai says "Finally, to sum up. The kind of local organisation in civil society that is looked for in the agenda of “empowerment” does exist in a metropolitan city of India like Chennai, but it is very largely exclusive in regard to the urban poor of the informal working class – certainly as active agents. It is organisation of and for the “consumer-citizen” subjects of the neoliberal state, and much of the activity that it sustains is directed at disciplining the urban poor rather than supporting their struggles over rights to housing, livelihood and protection, or their self-realisation. It is important, however, to nuance these conclusions, for there are organisations and activities that do address the needs and interests of poor people, support their claims to political citizenship and aim to extend the possibilities for them to participate in local governance. But there are then the antinomies of representative democratic politics." There are similar studies from other cities. Here is the summary of Solomon Benjamin's paper about Bangalore:
"SUMMARY: This paper suggests that an understanding of poverty in cities such as Bangalore (often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley) requires more attention to the governance processes in which different groups compete for public investments and support. It describes the differences between the “local” and the “corporate” economies within Bangalore and their links with government. The local economies provide most of the population (including virtually all poor groups) with their livelihoods. They mostly develop outside the “master plan” areas, with diverse and complex economies and land tenure forms within which poor groups find accommodation and work. Their links with government are through local government – the City Corporation and its councillors and lower level bureaucracy. The corporate economies include the information technology industries for which Bangalore is well-known. Most of their links with government are with state and national parastatal agencies that control most of Bangalore’s development functions and have access to most government funding. But there is little local representation in these agencies. This profoundly disadvantages poor groups and the local economies in the competition for land, infrastructure and services. Rigid land use controls in the expanding corporate enclave areas exclude most pro-poor economic activity and threaten poorer groups’ fragile claims to land. Poor groups suffer demolition, resettlement, increased land prices and a governance system in which their local representative structure has little power. Meanwhile, the publicly sponsored “mega-projects” in Bangalore do little to support the local economies that are so important for the city’s prosperity; indeed, as this paper describes, many serve to disrupt them."
I will try to find some other article that I read and will post the links to them when I find them.

Possible futures

This engaging essay Four Futures by Peter Frase envisions that capitalism will end imagines four possible futures after capitalism. I am not sure. The analysis seems to ignore 1) infinite capacity of humans to survive putting up with injustices and 2) most people are corrupt and take advantage of whatever privileges they have. Though I do not like it, I think capitalism will survive in much more unjust form with more and more people working hard to make a living and a few from 1-20 percent cornering the benefits.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shashi Kapoor On The Importance Of Indian Films

Cuba's lung cancer vaccine

"To be fair, Cimavax probably won’t be a game-changing cancer drug in its current form. The vaccine doesn’t attack tumors directly, instead going after a protein that tumors produce which then circulates in the blood. That action spurs a person’s body to release antibodies against a hormone called epidermal growth factor, which typically spurs cell growth but can also, if unchecked, cause cancer. (Although most people normally think of a vaccine as something that prevents a disease, technically a vaccine is a substance that stimulates the immune system in some way.) So the point of Cimavax is to keep lung tumors from growing and metastasizing, turning a late-stage growth into something chronic but manageable." More in the article Cuba has a lung cancer vaccine-and America wants it by Neel V.Patel (via Lambert Strether in Naked Capitalism)

The passion of Rassundari DevI

:Madhukar Shukla links to an article about the beginnings of girl's schools and an earlier lady Rassundari Devi born in 1810 who had twelve children, so busy with household drudgery that she did not even have time to eat on some days. But she was so passionate about reading and writing that she taught herself "to read and write by scratching the letters of the alphabet onto a corner of the blackened wall of the kitchen" (from the introduction to her pages in "Women's writing in India: From 600 B.C. to the present" Edited by Susie Tharu and K.Lalita, 1993).. Her memoirs were published in two parts in 1876 and 1906. She married at the age of twelve, the idea that she should read and write entered her mind at the age of fourteen, but could not do any thin about it. She had her first child at 18. She says as a child she used to sit in a classroom and listen to the chants of the children. At some stage (she does not say when) she started recalling thirty letters. One day she dreamt that she was reading 'Chaitanya Bhagavata' and woke up feeling happy that at least in dreams, she could read. The book was available at home but she did not know which book it was. Her eldest son was eight at that time and she got the book with his help, took out a sheet from it and kept in a secret place in the kitchen (because women were not supposed to read and write). After many days, she stole a palm leaf on which her son used to practice writing." One look at the leaf, another at the sheet, a comparison with he letters I already knew, and, finally, a verification with the speech of others-that was the practice I adopted for some time. Furtively I would take out the sheet and put it back promptly before anybody could see it."
Here is the link from Madhukar Shukla's wall

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Globalization and TPP

The first (via Naked Capitalism) says The Great Unravelling of Globalization "Indeed, although multinational executives avoid talking about it publicly, profits in global markets are underwhelming — and doing business internationally is full of unanticipated risks."
The second from John Quiggin Through the Looking Glass quotes from an article in New York Times "Obama's Pacific Trade Push Faces Senate Vote This Week: " To the president, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would counter the economic weight of China and set rules on labor, the environment, intellectual property and investor protections for the growing economies of the Pacific Rim. For members of Congress, it is about jobs." He goes on to say "For the critics (just about everyone on the left), it’s precisely the “rules on labor, the environment, intellectual property and investor protections” that represent the big concerns. All of these rules benefit corporations at the expense of workers, the environment, the free flow of information and national sovereignty. It’s the general strengthening of corporate power, and not the flow of goods, that will harm jobs, wages and working conditions Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions, for example, have been used to challenge minimum wage laws.
Leading US critics like Elizabeth Warren and the AFL-CIO have raised some of these points, noting (for the benefit of Republicans in particular) that the ISDS provisions will enable unaccountable arbitrators to override US federal and state laws.
The use of trade deals as an instrument of geopolitics is also unwelcome for a country like Australia that needs to balance itself between the US and China. Despite its enthusiastic support for the US and the TPP deal, the conservative government here signed up to join China’s regional infrastructure bank, developed largely in response to China’s exclusion from the TPP."
John Quiggin also posted this at Crooked Timber, where there will a lot of comments. Dean Baker has also written several posts on TPP, the latest here.
P.S. More from Elizabeth Warren 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Silk Road documentaries

A recent dance posted by Richard Singer reminded me of these excellent documentaries on the Silk Road which came around 1980 A similaqr dance at 25:50.
There are different uploads of these documentaries of varying quality on YouTube.

He worked in two atomic bomb projects

He also wrote the first book on Quantum Mechanics published in India by Osmania University Press in 1938. A review of the book here. Apparently, he influenced the famous Indian mathematician S.Minakshusundaram
Muhammad Raziuddin Siddiqui from Wikipedia and a short obituary here by his nephew.

Order in the family: Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Strange sentences

Keynes : "It is better that a man should tyrannise over his bank balance than over his fellow-citizens; and whilst the former is sometimes denounced as being but a means to the latter, sometimes at least it is an alternative." I thought that they go together from my observations of village landlords. The quote via Brad DeLong Jm Keynes:Concluding notes on the general philosophy towards which the general theory might lead.
Dietz Vollrath:"My mental null hypothesis here is that higher agricultural productivity, because of low income elasticities for food, means more industrialization/urbanization/non-ag production." This does not jell with my experience of Guntur, Krishna districts. The excess seems to have gone to Madras first and then Hyderabad. From Do agricultural conditions matter for institutions?


My daughter Lalita bought new walking shoes which turned out to be very comfortable and started jumping around saying ' I am happy'. Her daughter Ava responded 'Mom, you are happy because you are greedy like me'. Getting the essence of materialism by the age of six.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Class struggle in Bollywood films Minai has written about the choreography here.
The full film is available on YouTube (the two dances posted by Minai are around 3 and 14:40 minutes and look clearer to me in the film). From a review by Dustedoff, it seems Satyajit Ray saw the film and wanted to be an assistant director to Chetan Anand.
Surprisingly it is omitted from 'a listing of ten top Hindi films on class struggle, workers’ rights and unions'  in the article 'Lal Salaam On Screen'. Richard Singer on my wall " I think there are tons of movies from the '40s and '50s that could have been included in this list.....Or if they wanted to seriously pursue the "Laal Salam" theme and talk about real socialist films, they could have started with Dharti Ke Laal, the only Hindi film actually produced by the IPTA.

And so many films by Raj Kapoor... What about Mehboob Khan, whose studio logo was a hammer and sickle? I've seen a whole bunch of his films, and he really did stick the class struggle theme into everything, in sub-plots or dialogues, no matter how blockbuster-ish, swashbuckling, etc., the movie was. 

I've noticed that so many people in mainstream Indian journals write mainly about the films of the '70s and Amitabh, etc. I guess that's what a lot of people grew up with and the era that everyone thinks about. Since I didn't grow up with these films and came to classic Indian films from my own strange angle in the 21st century, maybe that's why I wouldn't look to the ''70s first. But wasn't the '50s the Golden Age?"