Thursday, 1 October 2015

Of News and Other Stuff-6

  1. Gregory Mankiw must feel sorry for writing that textbook on the Principles of Economics. But he couldn’t have known that harmless undergraduates he helped indoctrinate would grow up to be employees of donor agencies and pass off academic homilies of privatising water supply, and letting demand –supply determine who gets how much, as valid economic policy. And then shove it down the throats of developing countries as part of loan conditionalities.
  2. I realise I have a few pet topics-Agatha Christie, Sherlock, Harry Potter, Sanghi Appreciation, Condemning Vegetarianism and now the Mughals. Specifically, Akbar’s court and how much fun it must have been with all those intellectuals and wits hanging out together.  I can imagine Abul Fazl and Birbal high-fiving each other (while Akbar looks on indulgently) after  a polite (and lyrical) put down they gave to the orthodox clerics, when the latter got apoplectic about heretical stuff the Emperor liked to do. Like commission paintings, propagate tauhid-e-ilahi and treat people from other religions decently (tch tch). And Man Singh must have been the silent, well-mannered guy, who got the job done while these creative types kept things lively.
  3. The reason I am clinging to Akbar these days may be because the present is so depressing. Newspapers have been pointing out that the Dadri family that was subjected to a brutal attack by a local mob did not in fact consume beef the previous day, but mutton. Can they also please point out that it is irrelevant if they did consume beef? Because their insistence on this point is just legitimising the kind of narrative that the culture minister ‘Dr.’ Mahesh Sharma is currently trying to push-saying that the attack was a result of a misunderstanding, rather than a bigoted mind-set.
  4. Mamata Banerjee has clarified that there will be no meat ban during the Durga Puja. But is this a straw man she is destroying or are there some pious (and treacherous) Bengalis who are demanding such a stupid thing in the first place?
  5. About a dozen Bangalore based billionaires (Azim Premji, the Nilekanis and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw among them) have come together to set up a trust to fund digital media platforms. The IE reported Shaw saying that such initiatives would ensure balanced reporting that don’t push a specific agenda. Except you know, that of the super-rich.
  6. A Chinese tech company has invented a robot-journalist that can produce a 1000 word copy in about a minute on issues like changes in inflation, growth data etc. I don’t think journalists (or any class of professionals who write reports for a living) need to be worried about losing their jobs. It might free them up to pursue investigative journalism (or something more generally, worthwhile) that computers can’t possibly do. Yet.
  7. A cue to know when someone is faffing is when you see phrases like ‘lack of political will’, ‘democratic discourse’, ‘concerted effort from all stakeholders’ and the like being thrown around. Or when prime ministers start evoking Goddesses on being asked a question on what their government is doing for empowering women. Still, our government is trying to make it easier for more women to enter the workforce by revising our anachronistic Factory laws. On the other hand under Skill India, it is resorting to that perennial favourite-opening gender exclusive institutions for training. Besides my suspicion that they will be more likely to teach skills like stitching than motor mechanics, how will this equip women (and men) to survive in workspaces that will (and should) hire both men and women?
  8. I am planning to start a Raghuram Rajan fan-club. Not least for being one of the few academics who has made a smooth transition from that cloistered world to one in the public glare, but also for saying deep, intelligent things, gift wrapped in a cover of simplicity, and with a bow of optimism added to it. Also last year, he walked down the Red Carpet at the Filmfare awards. How can one not love the man? 
PS: Sorry for not providing any links. I am a lazy bum. (Let's face it my two readers, you were not going to look them up anyway).

1 comment: