The Indian Express
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
– Oct 18, 11:28 AM
The next few months may turn out to be crunch time for the institutional formation of Indian secularism. The Ayodhya judgment is expected. The government is also likely going to move on three other issues that go to the core of secularism: The…
Illustration by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint The corrections to growth forecasts have come thick and fast, from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), rating agencies, investment banks, and sundry…
Wall Street Journal
– Oct 17, 3:36 PM
What message should New Delhi take from a person of Indian origin winning the Nobel Prize for economics? In a nation increasingly characterized by bristly nativism, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ought to embrace, rather than reject, India's…
arvindmahajanThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences gave the prize to Mumbai-born Abhijit Banerjee and his wife, Esther Duflo, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and to Harvard’s Michael Kremer. The official announcement lauds their research for having “considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty.” Their work involves the use of randomized controlled trials—a practice borrowed from medicine—to test the efficacy of policy tweaks in poor countries, including India.
The prize made front-page news in India, where the 58-year-old Mr. Banerjee, who studied in Kolkata and Delhi before enrolling at Harvard, was already well-known as an economist, author and columnist. But the response wasn’t universally glowing. Online publications supportive of the BJP headlined Mr. Banerjee’s brief arrest as a student protester in Delhi in the 1980s and his backing for a minimum-income guarantee championed by the opposition Congress Party that voters rejected earlier this year. Assorted trolls on Twitter held forth on why randomized controlled trials are an awful idea.
For the nativists on India’s Hindu right, Mr. Banerjee is an almost perfect villain. His Ivy League pedigree, perch at MIT, Bengali last name and French wife make him exactly the kind of global elite that many Hindu nationalists love to hate. It doesn’t help that Mr. Banerjee has criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for, among other things, its obsession with stamping out beef consumption and the erosion of academic autonomy at universities.
Mr. Banerjee says India’s current slowdown is a crisis, not a brief cyclical downturn as the government says. “All the indicators worry me,” he said in a phone interview. “We’ve seen a negative growth rate for consumption between 2014-15 and 2017-18. The investment numbers have been pathetic for a long time. Nothing looks great at the moment.” Last week, Moody’s Investors Service cut India’s growth forecast for the current fiscal year to 5.8% from 6.2%.
Mr. Banerjee also frets about the shrinking space in India for dissent. “Disagreement is not the same thing as treason,” he says. “Even on purely technical economic questions, people have begun to worry about saying the government is doing badly. You shouldn’t get to a place where you can’t even have a conversation.”
On the face of it, the Modi administration and the BJP can afford to dismiss the likes of Mr. Banerjee. Two years ago, after criticism from Amartya Sen, another Nobel laureate, Mr. Modi declared that “hard work is much more powerful than Harvard.” The government has squabbled with Western-trained technocrats, handing the Central Bank from the highly regarded economist Urjit Patel to Shaktikanta Das, a bureaucrat who implemented Mr. Modi’s harebrained 2016 decision to invalidate nearly 90% of India’s currency. A senior BJP leader has derided Western-trained economists such as former reserve bank governor Raghuram Rajan as “mentally not fully Indian.”
Voters seem to have no problem with nativism, and the BJP has only grown more adept at getting out its message. Much of the Indian media supports the party, which also has an elaborate social-media operation on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. They reinforce the nativist argument: India remains poor seven decades after independence because rootless Western-educated elites let the country down. By rejecting them and their imported ideas, Mr. Modi will lead India to prosperity and global respect.
It’s easy to see why this story line appeals to voters, particularly in the poor and populous Hindi-speaking heartland where the BJP draws much of its support. Many people blame the economic missteps under the Westernized, English-speaking Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that long ruled the country less on its members’ ideas than on their educational backgrounds and cultural influences.
Yet the idea that Western-educated Indians hurt India is nonsense. The country remains relatively poor because its rulers chose socialism over free enterprise for more than 40 years after independence. Growth has recently slowed, as Mr. Banerjee pointed out at Brown University this month, in part because successive governments have stalled economic reforms for the past decade.
Contrary to what Indian nativists claim, China didn’t grow rapidly by shunning foreign expertise. Under Mao Zedong it was an economic basket case. Prosperity began only in the 1980s, when Deng Xiaoping dispatched thousands of Chinese students to U.S. universities and aggressively borrowed ideas from wherever they worked. As Harvard’s Ezra Vogel points out in his 2011 biography of Deng, the World Bank played a pivotal role in China’s modernization.
Not every policy recommendation by Mr. Banerjee, or other prominent Western economists, will be right. But if India is to progress, it needs both hard work and Harvard.
For well over a century, researchers have labored tirelessly to understand how humans learn and remember. The resulting scientific literature is impressive, both in its scope and its depth. But it's often not obvious how to use these findings in…
4 min read. 09:20 AM IST Anindita Ghose In 2010, Chiki Sarkar signed on the India rights for Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo's Poor Economics 'without reading it' She released their second book Good Economics For Hard Times last weekend following…
This year sales will overtake those of fast-fading CDs “THE LP WILL be around for a good long while,” Patricia Heimers, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), told the Associated Press in 1989. Ms…
arvindmahajanThis year sales will overtake those of fast-fading CDs
“THE LP WILL be around for a good long while,” Patricia Heimers, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), told the Associated Press in 1989. Ms Heimers’ prediction may then have seemed tin-eared. Sales of cassettes and CDs already far outstripped those of 12-inch glossy black platters. In the 1990s vinyl almost vanished altogether. In 2005 a mere $14m-worth of records were sold in America. But like an ageing rocker, vinyl is making a comeback. In the first half of this year, the RIAA says, sales reached $224m, up by 13% year on year. In 2019 as a whole they should reach $500m and exceed those of CDs for the first time since 1986.
Even so, vinyl still accounts for only 4% of the market for recorded music. Sales of CDs have been declining fast. These days paid-for streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, bring in 62% of the industry’s revenue—which is in turn less than half of what it was 20 years ago in inflation-adjusted terms, despite a recent improvement.
Whether it is merely a farewell tour or something more durable, vinyl’s revival owes something to nostalgia. In 2018 The Beatles sold more than 300,000 records. David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen all sold more than 100,000. But there may be more to it than that. Its adherents have long claimed that it yields a richer sound that digital usurpers, and it seems younger fans are also learning to love the LP. In 2016 nearly half of British vinyl-buyers were 35 or younger, according to ICM, a pollster; only 18% were aged between 45 and 54. Doug Putnam, a 30-something Canadian vinyl enthusiast, has bought HMV, a struggling British high-street music chain. Each HMV shop now stocks 3,000 to 7,000 albums, up from an average of 500 in the past few years.
Vinyl addicts may even want to make their own records. This month Florian Kaps, an Austrian entrepreneur, unveiled the Phonocut, a device capable of pressing custom 10-inch records with 10-15 minutes of audio on each side. The company says it will start shipping its machines in December 2020. The price of your own mini-studio: €999 ($1,100).
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As 5G cellular network tech looms, conventional wisdom dictates that cell phone radiation is more or less safe for humans. But writing for the widely respected magazine Scientific American, University of California, Berkeley, public health…
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By 2070, we will have curbed the rate at which the Earth's temperature is rising. The creativity and inventiveness that will be most prized will be around human and planetary sustainability. By 2070, we will have achieved a new level of shared…
arvindmahajanA look ahead. So often when we peer into the future, it’s to the next election or earnings results. But what about, say, 50 years out? How will we get around, entertain ourselves, and stay informed? What kinds of companies will be most important? We put these and other questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers, among them scientists, artists, and business leaders like Virgin founder Richard Branson. Their answers may surprise you.