dr anonymous's blog

A Crude Drawing For A Crude Industrial Policy

By: on 21 Mar 2008

The latest news is that Sonia Gandhi is considering requiring SEZs to give back some land that they acquire from farmers. "One model under consideration is for the developer to return eight to 10 per cent of the land back to the farmers once the project is complete. Land in peripheral areas of the projects can be earmarked for this. This will ensure that the contiguity of the project is not hampered.

Hello Bhutan!

By: on 13 Mar 2008

The other day, I was at a lecture on the politics of personal law systems in South Asian countries. The speaker decided, in his infinite wisdom, to read slowly from his paper for about an hour and a half. I was too bored and sleep-deprived to be able to give an apt rendering of my opinion of it, but suffice it to say it was not the most intellectually engaging lecture I've ever been to; that it ran well over time was frustrating to say the least.

The reason I mention this story is to tell you why I became sympathetic to the speaker by the end. He was about 70% of the way through the talk, had just gone through the politics of religion and personal law in Sri Lanka and Nepal, and was about to go on to Bhutan and the Maldives. Upon hearing this, the person from I school who had invited the lecturer crankily interrupted and asked him to skip to the conclusion, which the speaker subsequently did.

Voila! No Bhutan and Maldives. It's amazing how that happens, isn't it ;)

My purpose here is not to go into the usual tirade about the neglect of the fragments in South Asian studies, despite that the contents of my postgraduate education in South Asia has followed roughly this pattern: India, India, India, Pakistan, India, India, Pakistan, India, India, India, India, Bangladesh, India, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, India, Pakistan, India.  And despite that I seriously believe it could be much worse.

Rather, there was one comment following on kettikili's discussion on the lack of quality discourse on Sri Lanka that left me with a few stray thoughts on responsibility and authentic South Asianness.  Here is an excerpt of the comment:

One Drop Rule, I Guess

By: on 4 Mar 2008

Yet more obscure revelations that reinforce what we already know.  Guess how many of emperor Shah Jahan's grandparents were raised "Hindu."  That's right, three.  The only one that was raised "Muslim" was Akbar.

This tidbit prompted by Jodhaa Akbar.  Good flick, if you can deal with some nationalism.

India's Rs 60K Waiver For Banks

By: on 2 Mar 2008

The last day of February is an exciting time for people who are part of the capitalist sector in India because that's when the Wizard of Oz (i.e. Finance Minister) comes and tells everyone what the budget will be for the next financial year. This year (pdf), in the "populist" budget, one of the centerpieces that has been hyped pretty extensively in the media is a Rs 60,000 crore offer to write off the bank debts of farmers (completely for farms of less than 2 hectares, and 25% of debt for those with larger farms).

Debts to moneylenders (which, common sense generally holds, have much higher interest rates) are not affected. This, combined with the old saying about mice and men and government programmes in India, leads me to wonder if a) this will in any sense alleviate the suffering of those farmers who are at the edge of survival (i.e. most); and subsequently b) actually have a significant political benefit for Congress in next year's elections.

This programme apparently targets the right people, but in the best case scenario offers relief for less than 60% of their debt (the part to government and private sector banks) and in the worst case scenario offers much, much less to them. The banks, however, in the midst of a global financial crisis, seem to get Rs 60k no matter what. So even if commercial banks are only 20% of the recipients, tell me who the real winners are here: poor farmers or financial institutions? One can only hope that this institutional programme will be accompanied by a corresponding informal sector initiative (e.g. political power brokers buying off poor farmers for their votes), but forgive me if I'm skeptical of that happening in a way that's fair or socially too healthy.

Picture Page Continues

By: on 26 Feb 2008

Sorry, still no jello pudding pops.

Based on some genetic testing whose worth I have no way of judging, this dude from Harrow on the left is allegedly descended from the desi royalty on the right (Prince Freddy, not to be confused with Freddy Mercury).

Bizarre Connections

By: on 7 Feb 2008

The NY Times blog has an interesting bit on what happens to all the clothing that was made to celebrate the historic win of the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl--you know, the one that never materialized :)  As it turns out, the apparel is given to a Christian relief agency, World Vision, for distribution to poor people of various countries.  One commenter on the post

We Have Friends

By: on 24 Jan 2008

A recent article (courtesy Portside) describes the tension between the Iranian government and radical leftists in Iran. Interestingly, it points out that the government pursued the same "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy as the United States had in, say, Afghanistan. Except this time, the powers-that-be encouraged leftists in order to promote attacks on liberal reformists.

Another member, a woman who has an anonymous blog at faaryaad.blogfa.com (faaryaad means shout), writes 'Reform died, long live revolution.'

Whether "the Left" in Iran is a significant issue or simply something that's being trumpeted to keep Iran in the news is your call.

Anyway, iqra! Longer excerpt below the fold.
-dr.a

Open Thread: American Election

By: on 22 Jan 2008

Having undertaken the moronic step of becoming emotionally invested in an American Presidential election again, am I to be relieved by The Fates?  Because the Barack-Obama-first-Black-President-hooray! bubble seems about to burst: he loses; or perhaps he wins by "being tougher" (i.e.

Notes on American Politics and Economics In The Crisis

By: on 18 Jan 2008

A New York Times article on the credit crisis has a lot of what you need to understand about recent American politics, but it's mostly implicit :)

The background to the following discussion is that politicians and economic managers have belatedly woken up to the fact that they need to panic in order to protect the system that maintains their class supremacy. So, they're talking about an emergency bill to inject money into the economy and there are two broad classes that really want or need help: "finance capital" as well as those who invested in it and "labor."

Your Deck Of Race Cards Is Missing A Jack

By: on 17 Jan 2008

...and the Lord awoke,
"Let there be light!"

"I applaud your efforts to press Mr. Obama and the other presidential candidates on issues related to Asian Americans. But I think your Defeat Obama campaign is divisive and not related to your stated mission of uniting Asian Americans. Worse, I think it plays to the racism that is unfortunately so prevalent in our society, including among some Asian Americans."
[Bob Wing, mass e-mail, 1/15/08]

Below, behold:
the truth is HIGH!

In response to Sen. Obama's steadfast refusal to address the grievance faced by Asian Ams, and given that the presidential primary season will begin in 7 days, the Board of 80-20 has voted unanimously to defeat Sen. Obama's candidacy in the Democratic primary unless he replies to OUR questionnaire with all yeses. This resolution has been formally transmitted to Sen. Obama.

Until further notice, please vote in the Dem. Primary for Senators Biden or Clinton or Dodd or Edwards or Gravels who have readily replied to OUR questionnaire with all yeses. They even emphasized that remedying such inequities was one reason they wanted to be the President. Regrettably, none of the Republican candidates have replied with a single yes yet, so they have not earned our support.
[80-20 initiative, 80-20 website]

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