Monthly Archives: December 2008

An effort to build a list of good international news programmes to get news from diverse perspectives Over the last few years, I have developed an interest in international affairs. Unfortunately, International English news sources were dominated by channels in USA and Britain.  BBC and CNN that were available widely had some high quality programmes but put forward highly circumscribed views.  My earning for diversity of views got a fillip with online news channels.  I am now trying to compile a list of good weekly programmes, documentaries, etc. that we can watch now and then to catch up with major […]

Best international news programmes: A list

Acemoglu and team have authored a set of influential papers arguing that colonial experience has had a lasting influence on the growth rates of countries well after colonisation through the lasting impact they have had on institutions. Apart from very neat econometric estimations testing of their hypothesis and evaluating them against a variety of alternate thesis, they also draw attention to a host of historical literature on this subject. All this is very impressive. They make a spirited argument that countries with extractive institutions have done poorly in terms of growth. This is where their work starts getting under-defined and […]

What is expropriation in Acemoglu’s work?

Book: The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics Author: William Easterly Magnanimity of IMF and World Bank leads to policies unfavourable to poor people – The Fund and the Bank did not go far enough, argues Easterly The Elusive Quest for Growth by William Easterly reviews various theories of growth and the consequent efforts by World Bank and IMF. As the title indicates he looks at how these approaches ‘failed’ and traces some reasons for their failure. The book is interspersed with live accounts of little cases (“intermezzo”) from the field to animate the discussion. […]

Review of Easterly’s Elusive quest for growth

Understanding popular theories and their challenges is crucial to understanding institutions. Notions such as Clash of civilisations by Huntington have a powerful influence on how foreign policies are shaped in the United States. In a memorable talk, Edward Said takes on Huntington’s thesis with a powerful critique. Edward Said incisively analyzes Huntington’s notion that differences in culture between the ‘West’ and ‘Islam’ will lead to conflicts between the two civilizations. Arguing against monolithic understanding of cultures, Said makes a powerful case for multiculturalism. Edward Said is one of the most powerful speakers I have listened to off-late, and this dense […]

Edward Said’s talk on ‘Clash of Civilizations’ by Samuel Huntington

Book: India: Development and participation Authors: Amartya Sen & Jean Dreze My favourite book on India’s development issues. Provides a comprehensive overview of many important development issues In my opinion this book is gold standard and is a must read for anyone intersted in development issues. Amartya Sen is distinguished for his ability to incorporate a wide variety of concerns including growth, inequalities, gender issues, power relations, etc. Dreze complements these abilities and also brings in significant field-level experience apart from rigorous research. India: Development and Participation combines a broad understanding of development with remarkable balance in dealing with various […]

Best book on India’s development by Amartya Sen and Dreze

In his famous book Elusive quest for growth William Easterly criticizes World Bank’s attempts to control population. But his ‘economic approach’ and failure to get contextual information makes his analysis poor and prescriptions dangerous. For an overall review of the book, click here Critique of ‘unwanted babies thesis’ The key theme of The elusive quest for growth is ‘people respond to incentives’. This is a statement that will find broad agreement – but the devil is in the details. In a chapter titled Cash for Condoms? Easterly discusses efforts by World Bank to contain population growth in various countries. He […]

Easterly’s critique of cash for condoms: a case of poverty ...

Book: Anthropology and institutional economics Editor: James M. Acheson This volume is one of the rare collection of papers I found looking at Anthropology and institutional economics. Surprisingly, though the two have a large scope for collaboration, there is very little work happening between these two disciplines, to my knowledge. This volume provides a useful introduction. The book starts with an introduction about Anthropology and Institutional economics by James Acheson. This is followed by an essay on New Institutionalism by Robert Bates. The best part of the book is made up of case studies divided into three sections (1) Transactions […]

Collected works on Anthropology and institutional economics

A growing collection of Ambedkar’s works are available online at Ambedkar is easily one of the finest Indian thinkers ever. Academically, he has a degree in law, a Masters in economics (from London School of Economics), and a doctorate in social sciences (from Columbia University). At Columbia he majored in sociology and economics for his M.A. with a smattering of anthropology, politics and philosophy as other subjects. He also had a stint at University of Bonn. His experience ranges from being a untouchable boy to the principal architect of India’s Constitution. He started and ran a political party and […]

Babasaheb Ambedkar’s works online: Books, articles, talks

The husband of my most admired cousin died today. It was sudden and completely unexpected by any of us, and he was just 44. I am told that she has taken this bravely; courage has been the story of her life. Nine years ago she had a child with severe CP. Through these years, I have never once seen her complain, and was touched every time I met her to see her cheerful dedication to give the child a good life. She trained herself in special education and became a teacher in the school that her child goes to. Special […]

To a brave cousin

In this very entertaining talk, Ha Joon Chang argues against mainstream trade theories. He argues that most of the success stories, including the USA followed practices that are rejected by the current trade theories and that those who followed the policies have actually not done well. Ha Joon Chang argues this from an institutional perspective and makes a case for “infant industry argument”. While these arguments themselves are not too new, he brings in a lot of historical information that were new to me and gave me many “ah ha” moments. This entertaining and passionate talk is also delivered with […]

Institutions for an unequal world: Talk by Ha Joon Chang

During my recent field work in India, I was impressed by the depth of social understanding by common people I met in the villages. Often, their views on the society were more sophisticated than many works I read in the academia. This has made me question not just what we learn in the social science disciplines, but also how we learn. I feel that the process of disengaged reading comfortably away from the hustle-bustle of the society compromises our learning. I have been thinking about how we can “teach” social sciences better and this talk by John Seely Brown was […]

Learning as doing: John Seely Brown’s exciting ideas