Monday, January 30, 2006

Although the virtues of democracy are well documented and constantly fed to us by the great propaganda machine of our government the idea of a benevolent and omnipotent dictator has been the fodder for countless discussions, especially among our armchair intellegentsia.

I acknowledge the huge risk of reposing all our faith in one man and agree to the fact that absolute power corrupts.... but the idea of an irresistible guiding force leading our country to development always catches my fancy.

I know that the risks outweigh the benifits and we have countless examples to drive home the point..... but then why this fascination?
Is this one of those eccentricities we can never explain but universally agree to or is there some deep lying reason?
Has thousands of years of monarchy embedded this in our genes?
Or....... is it the fact that our belief in the supreme being finds an unlikely outlet? Does the dictator give us a persona which we subconciously identify with god?
Love to hear what others think about this..........


Sunday, January 29, 2006

the very idea of capitalism, in all its 'purity', is one which is based on exploitative realtions. it distinguishes between 'classes' of people...those who have rights of ownership to property, and those who are bereft of any such claim on property and have to offer services of labor in order to earn their livelihood...

if a system, in its very conception is based on unequal, almost parasitic relations, how can any form its implementation do away with elements that constitute the very essence of its existence? what we see today is no "bastard child' of capitalism, but capitalism in its quintessentially purest form...likely to develop into a monster that will consume all that is left of those already languishing in its trail....


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pure..... An often misused term due to it's positive connontations and the power of associative recall...

Most ideas in their purest and originally envisaged form are quite noble... however its some mutant form of theirs which finally comes to being.
The same thing would apply to the currently prevalent form of capitalism which is a cause of great heartburn for my fellow clueless comrade.
Originally, production relations in capitalism put workers on a equal footing. It could be seen as a mutually symbiotic relationship where the worker got a fixed wage and wasnt affected by the inherent instability of profits. The classic risk return tradeoff. Financial intermediataries could allow anyone with an innovative idea to raise capital and start his own venture.
However, things went horribly wrong somewhere along the way and we are currently saddled with the bastard child of capitalism and sadism.

However, this cant be seen as an argument for socialism as this tendency to mutate might inflict it as well.
Should we try to fix capitalism or usher in a new form of economic organisation?

we are but small pieces of colored glass....each giving a tint of its own to the light that passes through us...and its together that we are beautiful...a kaliedoscope.

and the day we forget that we have a certain color, a certain quality distinct from those around us, we are reduced to lifeless shards...waiting to be picked up, glued to some other enitity so we may borrow from of its significance....


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Man is known to be a social animal... some are more 'social' than others but complete isolation is rarely seen.

We conform to societal norms and try to blend in.. all for the sake of being 'accepted' by our peers. This straitjacketing is something which we are made to accustom to from a very early age, our guardians being the primary conduit.
However, as we grow older we try to differentiate ourselves from the crowd, try to find our own place under the sun.Inspite of this we take care never to move beyond the limits set by society.
Thus, all our attempts at the abovementioned endavour are restricted to say the very least.

I wonder why.... Is homogenity encouraged because we are terrified of anything which doesnt conform to our way of life? Instead of assimilating a whole new set of ideas why do we try to stamp them out and replace them with our own?

What stops us from being truly at peace with ourself and others?

Hmm..seems like the ghost of Ayn Rand has possesed you...

I'm not talking about a society that gets rid of inequalities. I'm talking of one that does away with EXPLOITATIVE relations. Like I said, an incentive based system is necessary for inducing people to work. But the system should be such that every one gets equal OPPORTUNITIES. I'm not talking about equity in terms of money or status, but equal access to opportunities (i've come accross the most horrific arguments such as those who are poor, are poor because they deserve to be so...they just haven't worked hard enough. Wonder what a child who is born into a poor family has done to deserve a life of satrvation. And i wonder how many opportunities and incentives your capitalist system provides to help him find work so that he may escape his fate).

There are a lot of things that are not evident. I hope Prof. Utsa Patnaik's lectures will help us, so we may begin to "see".....


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One of the more noble pursuits of modern society has been to create a society without inequalities. Infact the primary thrust of socialism was due to the gross inequalities perpetrated by capitalism.
In an utopian socialist society there would be no inequalities.
Although I agree that any inequality based on creed, sex, race and all the other usual suspects is morally unacceptable, creating a society with no differentials will present its own set of problems.

By having an economic differential within a populace, we give induviduals something to strive for, some sort of incentive to work hard and think differently, out of the box so to speak. In most socialist models this incentive is lost. If we encourage such an incentive within a socialist framework, over a period of time an economic differential will appear. Thus, we are back to where we started.

Our conundrum might be resolved by taxing away the noveau rich but this, however, would then be seen as a punishment for working hard therby pushing society towards mediocrity.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

thats my point dearest...

we need to give socialism another chance...this time with an incentive based system..

capitalism has been around for much too has only resulted in increasing number of farmers committing suicides, underpaid workers etc etc etc...its not difficult to see that capitalism is based on highly exploitative production relations and no varaint of it will ever do away with them...because if it does..then the system will cease to exist...

like i said dikshant...THINK about it...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Ah! The cute little argumentative Indian of our class.. see her in all her glory!

I have never said that the leftist way is incorrect... infact I believe that they seem to have gotten it right, atleast on the ideological front.

The problem isint with their theories but the inherent fallacy in every system.... MAN!

The whole socialist concept is based on the premise that people will be willing to sacrifice their own pleasure for the good of others. It seems to subscribe to the belief that the altruistic side of man will always shine through.
By basing itself on something which in my personal opinion is not one of the core instincts of man, I believe it destined to fail.

I am not saying that man is this 'evil' and selfish being, what I would like to point out is that man will only help others after his own needs are satisfied to a certain degree.

Thus, a variant of socialism will eventually take precedence but we will need capitalism to bring man up to the level where materialistic needs are satisfied and non-tangibles such as pride and altruism seem to hold centrestage.

The percieved failure of socialism in India can be attributed to the attempt to bypass capitalism by our leaders, a noble attempt but doomed from the very beginning...

In response to Dikshant's views about the 'left' of economics (which, he thinks is being forced down his throat):

1. the economics we have been taught so far is certainly not 'leftist'. In macroeconomics usually the Keynesian prescription was emphasized, thus building a case for intervenion and not anti-capitalism. In the theory of international trade the exploitative nature of trade treaties and unfair practices in various trade regimes was brought to the forefront( i fail to see how ideological biases could creep into mathematical methods and statistics). Whatever has been taught so far has been substantiated with strong arguments and evidence and atleast i have found that most arguments are indeed convincing.

2. when any system becomes institutionalized and perpetuates itself for long periods of time, those who benefit from such systems never really question its institution. infact, over time the very basis of production relations become obscured from everyone's view. it is for us to unearth these truths and find out where exactly what went wrong.

3. our policies so far have failed to provide development for the masses and the "leftist talk" might just get us somewhere in terms of including the masses on the growth trajectory and in helping us realize that "growth without employment" is infact the most ridiculous way of going about it.

4. don't worry about the job jerboa...there is enough demand for economists out there. coupled with this is the fact that there aren't as many institutes providing good post graduate courses (remember the tough time we had trying to make it here). so eventually leftist or not you will get a decent job with a package that will more than just fulfil your basic needs. but if a fat pay cheque and heavy bonuses was the sole reason you joined this university, then you have indeed come to the wrong place. i guess this is the place for peole who want to bring about a change and well, have more simple needs( in terms of materialistic gains).

about the failure of the "great experiment"...don't u think its a little unfair that we draw conclusions about the success of a system on the basis of a few examples when we compare it with another that has been around for a few hundred years?...just think about it...

Friday, January 20, 2006

A little bit of money goes a long way in JNU.....

Our fees per semester is about Rs200...
Our daily hostel fees is about Rs10( Including food).
U cant get anything above Rs15 in any canteen.

People can get used to these kind of prices pretty quickly.

Thus jnuites(god bless their souls) have a pretty warped view of life outside the campus, especially when considering monetary transactions.

Although most would frown at such blatant subsidisation, by pricing everything at such ridiculously low levels, every commodity available on campus is within reach of every student.

This has resulted in the creation of an egalitarian society on campus.
Wonder if JNU could be seen as a microcosm for the whole world...
Well..i know Dikshant thinks that i'm a freak..but i shall not hesitate in saying that i'm thoroughly enjoying the lectures these days! Especially 'problems of the Indian economy' and 'theories of growth and accumulation'! its all bout strategies kiddo...i thought u'd love em!

Its strange how economics is being reduced to econometrics and is becoming a highly isolated discipline in most universities. I'm glad we do a lot more than applying intimidating forlmulae to various data sets.

But yes, i do wonder at times why we are being taken back into the paleolithic and neolithic ages...but then..questioning the significance of everything isn't always the smartest thing to as we are being told about the improvements in stone implements and the developments in agricultural production, i turn my head around to catch a glimpse of dear jerboa...such a striking resemblance to Neanderthal man...i'm glad...i dont have to use my imagination!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Have been trying to think of a better way to put it...havent been too successful though..... IM BORED!!

Classes have started.... new subjects... new teachers... but just cant get myself to study.

Shruti would doubt my sincerity and probably accuse me of being lazy (Something im quite accustomed to now) but I claim innocence.

The problem isint with me but with our subjects. 3 out of 4 papers are predominantly theoretical, arcane theories to say the least and the last one is microeconomics(Praise the lord for small favours!)

Hate being all whiny but why o why o why are we subjected to three papers with extremely doubtful real-world applications!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Life is full of choices.........

Studying at jnu we've been exposed to a lot of literature which brings into focus the evil underbelly of 'the corporate'....... a profit grabbing, selfish entity with only it's stakeholders interest in mind.
Although I have always believed in the capitalist way of life all this has made me wonder whether Ive been supporting the wrong camp.
Coupled with the above is the fact that I do have to earn my own bread in life and all this leftist talk isint going to get me anywhere....
Maybe the lefties do have a claim to a moral high ground but the fact is that their policies rarely work..... the great experiment has undoubtedly failed.
At times like this I wonder.... what should I do....

Friday, January 13, 2006

second day of the second sem...lecturers pacing up and down ...nail bititng, head scratching, consoling yourself (take a look around, everyone's adrift...) , writing inane poems with dear jerboa (such a sport!)...

my dear life is being taken apart again..."meaning, meaning, where's the meaning?"..the head teases my complacent existence..

answers are not found in classrooms stupid!! "in chatty conversations then??"

who needs answers? i'm just like everyone else..trying to have good time! i could do a very good job at it you know! "now now love.."

silence..shall delay the turmoil for later..."meet you when you unwind in your little corner then...keep up the act!"

sigh...i should be proud...i'm doing a course that makes me think...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This is the blog of two students pursuing a masters in economics from jnu, India. Although good friends we rarely agree on anything.
The primary purpose of this blog would be to provide an insight to life in our university, one of india's few left bastions...
Two different opinions to essentially similar issues.