February 2020 at EFE

Here’s a quick list of topics I wrote about this month, separated out by category.

On Mondays, when I write about India, I wrote the following essays:

  • On the 3rd of February, 2020, I wrote about India’s cities, and how we have misunderstood urbanization, mis-measured it, and therefore implemented policies surrounding it in a less-than-ideal-fashion. Cities, especially India’s cities, is a bit of a passion with me, so I certainly hope to write more about this in the months to come.
  • On the 10th of February, I wrote about understanding India’s Constituent Assembly better, and therefore beginning the process of understanding India’s Constitution better. Writing this essay helped in the sense that it helped me better understand the context behind how India framed her Right to Property, which is the topic for tomorrow’s essay.
  • The essay on the 17th of February was about thinking through India’s budget. The reason was partly selfish: I was asked to be a part of a panel discussion at a college here in Pune. But writing the essay helped me crystallize something that I had been thinking about: budgets are best understood by thinking about the longer rather than the shorter horizon. There is more to unpack here, and we’ll get to it in the months to come. TN Ninan’s plea about we focusing more on the “how” rather than the “what” really resonated with me, and I intend to think (and write) more about this next month as well.
  • The 24th of February was a topic that is very, very close to my heart: higher education in India. I teach at a university in Pune, India, and I want to try and build a career in changing higher education for the better. In the months to come, I hope to read and write a lot more about this topic – and launch a project that I personally I am very excited about. More to come in the days ahead!


On Tuesdays, when I write about technology, these were the essays I wrote:

  • 4th February: Understanding Microsoft better. If I am to be critical of myself, I would have much preferred to write about Microsoft after having read books about the firm, and about the people of that era. Alas, I am sorry to report that I just didn’t have the time. Still, writing the essay helped me understand how Microsoft came to be what it is, and helped me think better about microeconomics, pricing and strategy. This article was mostly about Microsoft in the early years: understanding Nadella’s Microsoft will require another write-up.
  • 11th February: Understanding Apple better. I had read about it earlier, but the bicycle for the mind is a great way to think and teach about complementary goods, and is also a good way to riff about how teaching and evaluations need to be updated for the world in which we live. Truly one of the great companies of our era, Apple – and truly one of the most important people of our era, Steve Jobs. The New Yorker profile of Ive was also a very educational read.
  • 18th February: In honor of Clayton Christensen. I first came across Clayton Christensen when I started reading Stratechery, and have read more about him here and there. I’ll be frank and say that I didn’t enjoy reading the Innovator’s Dilemma all that much, and even skipped some parts of the book, but that is not a reflection of the ideas within the book, at all. In particular, it was illuminating to read two very different takes from the New Yorker about Clayton Christensen.
  • 25th February: Understanding the evolution of laptops. I’ve covered mainframes in earlier posts, and hope to touch upon netbooks/tablets in March, before covering wearables. Understanding the evolution of computing is a fascinating topic, especially when you think about the topic in terms of a bicycle for the mind. The easier and more accessible the bicycle, the higher the temptation to think about it as a substitute rather than a complement. And the cultural ramifications are huge!

On Wednesdays, I attempt to learn more about the rest of the world. In January, it was Poland, and in February, it was Germany. I’m debating between Afghanistan and France this month: we’ll see!

  • On the 5th of February, it was about the formation of Germany. Learning more about Bismarck has been a lot of fun, and the videos I linked to this month proved to whet my appetite for learning even more about him.
  • On the 12th, it was post war Germany. Writing this article only served to remind me that there are other ways to learn about the world than reading and writing. In particular, I would like to watch movies/documentaries about this period where Germany is concerned. Two reasons: I have only watched The Reader, and second, one of the videos I linked to this month was utterly fascinating.
  • On the 19th, it was inflation and reunification. More than the economics of that time – I speak of 1990 – I found reading about the culture and in particular art and language much more enjoyable.
  • And finally, on the 26th, I wrote about Germany’s future. But if I am to be honest, it was reading about Tunnel 29 that was the biggest bonus of putting up that article. If you haven’t read it, please do so!

Thursdays is Economics 101, where I try to teach myself how to think like an economist. If I am to be honest, February was my favorite month in this category (so far) because I really enjoyed writing about each of the four topics.

  • On the 6th of February, it was about the Kamra/Goswami incident. Thinking like an economist helps, and I tried to write an essay showing how you could think about this incident along lines of economic theory.
  • On the 13th, it was about Statistics and the NRC. If you are a student of statistics, and are wondering about how you will ever wrap your head around formulating the null, this essay might help.
  • I continued with the same theme next week, on the 20th, and spoke about demonetization, income tax returns and toll booths: all viewed through the prism of statistics.
  • Finally, on the 27th, it was about understanding value in use and value in exchange by watching 1917. Think Pragati used to do an excellent series on understanding economics better by watching movies, and the idea is from there. Short, fun read.

Besides, as always, there were five articles shared on each Friday, five tweets on each Saturday, and a YouTube video on each Sunday. Some of them are linked above, but can always be accessed by using the links available on the right panel on the blog.

Thank you for reading!



2 Videos on Property Rights

Tomorrow’s essay will be on property rights, what with it being the first Monday of the month – a continuation of the series of essay I am writing about aspects of the Indian Constitution. Research for that essay included these two videos, which I learnt a great deal from.