India: Links for 21st October, 2019

In honour of the delayed departure of the monsoons from India, five articles about what the monsoon is, and what it means for us here in India.

 

  1. “The unique geographical features of the Indian subcontinent, along with associated atmospheric, oceanic, and geophysical factors, influence the behavior of the monsoon. Because of its effect on agriculture, on flora and fauna, and on the climates of nations such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka — among other economic, social, and environmental effects — the monsoon is one of the most anticipated, tracked, and studied weather phenomena in the region. It has a significant effect on the overall well-being of residents and has even been dubbed the “real finance minister of India”.
    ..
    ..
    Wikipedia is always a good place to start.
    ..
    ..
  2. “Simulations of future climate generally suggest an increase in monsoon rainfall on a seasonal mean, area-average basis. This is due to the twin drivers of an increasing land-sea thermal contrast, but more importantly, warming over the Indian Ocean which allows more moisture to be carried to India. Typically increases in total rainfall over India may be in the region of 5-10%, although some climate models suggest more and some less. Climate simulations also show different patterns of rainfall change, so it is difficult to predict how rainfall might change within India. ”
    ..
    ..
    The Royal Meteorological Society’s take on what is likely to happen in India in the years to come when it comes to the monsoon, and why.
    ..
    ..
  3. “This Wednesday witnessed a rare meteorological coincidence. The southwest, or summer, monsoon, finally withdrew from the country, having overstayed and delayed its retreat by a record time. The same day, the northeast, or winter, monsoon made its onset, on time. The two events rarely happen simultaneously, though the three month-winter monsoon season is supposed to begin almost immediately after the end of the June-September summer monsoon season.”
    ..
    ..
    The Indian Express on a relatively rare occurrence in meteorological terms.
    ..
    ..
  4. … and the Livemint on the same topic.
    ..
    ..
  5. “Along with their ancient perfumery, the villagers of Kannauj have inherited a remarkable skill: They can capture the scent of rain.”
    ..
    ..
    I’ve probably linked to this before, but it is always worth a reread: on capturing the essence of petrichor.
Advertisements

EC101: Links for 10th October, 2019

  1. “Coase’s originality was not in his reasoning, but in recognizing that economic exchange is not the mere trading of physical goods but trading rights to property or rights to engage in certain types of conduct affecting property.”
    ..
    ..
    Was Ronald Coase the first to come up with the Coase theorem?
    ..
    ..
  2. “However, the joy of this book is less in the big picture than in the detail. And what a lot of it! The mind boggles at Smil’s extensive reading and absorption of information. We get the speed at which marathons are run – over the entire course of human history; the growth rates of piglets and weight of chicekns over time; sales of small non-industrial motors over time; the envelope for the maximum speed of travel; Kuznets cycles; Zipf’s law for city size…. The middle section of chapters offer a fantastic overview of technical progress over long periods in a wide range of technologies. I love all this detail.”
    ..
    ..
    Diane Coyle thoroughly approves of Growth and Civilization.
    ..
    ..
  3. “When a daughter is married, we do worry about her future. But why should I worry when the government of India is my son-in-law who married my daughter Syndicate Bank,” asked the late Tonse Madhav Ananth Pai in 1969, in the aftermath of the nationalization of the first-generation private-sector banks. Fondly known as “Brahma of Manipal”, Pai was the founding father of Syndicate Bank in 1925.”
    ..
    ..
    A lovely read on bank mergers, bank nationalization and banks from a particular part of Karnataka.
    ..
    ..
  4. “This is where the popcorn enters the picture. Pricey popcorn makes those lower ticket prices possible, And that is why you should buy popcorn at the movies.”
    ..
    ..
    Expensive popcorn? Uh, no, cheap movie tickets. Yes, really. Cheap for whom, you ask? Welcome to microeconomics.
    ..
    ..
  5. “This leads to the question: Why try these markets at all? This is quite similar to creation of super highways which help reach destinations much quicker but lead to accidents as well. Should we then not create highways?Policies always raise such trade-offs and hopefully, the regulator will take steps which minimise the negative aspect of creation of these markets.”
    ..
    ..
    Amol Agarwal, in Moneycontrol, on securitization in real estate loans in India. Me, I think this is not such a great idea.

India: Links for 7th October, 2019

  1. This was a fascinating read. I was aware of the flu and its impact on India, but had no clue about the extent, the severity and the multiple what-might-have-beens. For example:
    ..
    ..
    “y 1918, Gandhi was being seen in intellectual circles as a future leader of the nation, but he lacked grass-roots support. That spring, in his native state of Gujarat, he had organised two of his first satyagrahas, but these were followed by thousands of people, not hundreds of thousands. When the flu returned that autumn, he was struck down, as were other leading members of the independence movement who shared his ashram, notably Gangabehn Majmundar, the formidable spinning teacher, and Shankarlal Parikh, who had helped organise one of those early satyagrahas. Gandhi was too feverish to speak or read. He could not shake a sense of doom. “All interest in living had ceased,” he wrote later, in his autobiography.”
    ..
    ..
  2. Professor Jayanth Varma is less than impressed with benchmarking for loans, and the rules associated with them:
    ..
    ..
    “In the next few years, India needs to work on creating both a better banking system and better financial markets. One of the pre-requisites for this is that regulators should step back from excessive micro-management. For example, the RBI Master Directions require the interest rate under external benchmark to be reset at least once in three months while elementary finance theory tells us that if the floating rate benchmark is a 6-Months Treasury Bill yield, it should reset only once in six months. Either banks will refrain from using the six month benchmark (eroding liquidity in that benchmark) or they will end up with a highly exotic and hard to value floating rate loan resetting every three months to a six month rate. Neither is a good outcome.”
    ..
    ..
  3. “The Socioeconomic High-resolution Rural-Urban Geographic Platform for India (SHRUG) is a geographic platform that facilitates data sharing between researchers working on India. It is an open access repository currently comprising dozens of datasets covering India’s 500,000 villages and 8000 towns using a set of a common geographic identifiers that span 25 years.”
    ..
    ..
  4. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through “Make in India”, has the right idea when he says he wants to make India a global or regional manufacturing hub. But this cannot be accomplished by keeping an inefficient domestic industry shielded behind import barriers forever. Until something is done to change that, the industry will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis, and no lessons will have been learned.”
    ..
    ..
    Rupa Subramanya and Vivek Dehejia in Livemint on what ails the automobile industry, and how to correct it.
    ..
    ..
  5. Speaking of which
    ..
    ..
    “For a car financed to the extent of Rs 6 lakhs and driven for 1500 km every month the effective cost of ownership/operations, with a driver is probably in the region of Rs 28 per kilometre. Shared mobility wins hands down against this arithmetic of ownership costs.”

Etc: Links for 27th September, 2019

  1. Inside the lives of food delivery riders.
    ..
    ..
  2. “Michael Shermer, who advances the case for moral behaviour determined by science and reason in The Moral Arc, argues that the arc of our moral universe is expanding and over history, “we have been steadily—albeit at times haltingly—expanding the moral sphere to include more members of our species (and now even other species) as legitimate participants in the moral community.” ”
    ..
    ..
    I look forward to this day. I have a six year old daughter.
    ..
    ..
  3. Do you like bananas?
    ..
    ..
  4. Speaking of which, I enjoyed listening to this podcast a couple of years ago. Vikram Doctor on bananas.
    ..
    ..
  5. “Musk’s believers argue that the details of his ventures don’t matter: It’s the grand vision that counts. “The guy has a will to make stuff happen that is extraordinary,” says someone who worked closely with Musk. “He willed Tesla to happen. And in willing a reality into existence, he might not stick to the facts.” But in the case of SolarCity, Musk’s penchant for making promises he can’t deliver on turned out to matter a great deal—and could even pose a threat to his entire empire.”
    ..
    ..
    An update on Mr. Musk and his endeavors.

Etc: Links for 6th September, 2019

  1. Livemint with a rather fascinating list of companies that were operating in India before 1947.
    ..
    ..
  2. “I obeyed. I opened one door and then another, and a pure white light emerged from the tiny bathroom. I entered, and looked up. The ceiling was an improbable 25 feet above me with a glass ceiling. Sunlight flooded the room. The sink was black marble. And in the middle of the otherwise whitewashed space was a simple, beige toilet. It was the most ridiculously and gloriously presented toilet I had ever seen. Imperial. It was an imperial toilet.”
    ..
    ..
    If reading that doesn’t make you want to click on this, I admire your self-control.
    ..
    ..
  3. A useful list.
    ..
    ..
  4. Savor this one, at leisure. And keep YouTube handy.
    ..
    ..
  5. “As you grow older, observing your surroundings, you realise that real people argue, debate and discuss. There are certain homes where the dining table conversations may be intellectual or mundane or even mockery of an emotional crisis another family member is going through but the point is that everyone does have a sound and cultivated thinking, a mind with opinions which are freely expressed. Their education, the books they’ve read and the places they’ve been to defines them, forms their ideologies, firms their faith and gives them a standpoint on a particular topic. I grew up in one such household. There was a room for disagreement amongst its members, yet each person was valued, irrespective. Relations didn’t break in a jiffy. There was no melodrama.”
    ..
    ..
    Juhi Chaturvedi pays tribute to Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Lovely read!

India: Links for 26th August, 2019

Five more articles about Kashmir today.

  1. Shekhar Gupta on India’s first mover advantage.
    ..
    ..
  2. “Again, a counter-question: Who are the Kashmiris? The Right-Nationalists are missing nuance when they say just 10 districts of the Valley can’t speak for all of the state. Because these represent the state’s majority. The liberal argument is more flawed. If the majority view of Valley Muslims then subsumes the sizeable minorities of the state, what do we do for the view of the rest, about 99.5 per cent of India? Can you have the democratic logic of majority work in one place and not in the other?”
    ..
    ..
    No better paragraph, to my mind, than this to help you understand what democracy is, and what it’s limitations (by design) are.
    ..
    ..
  3. On cutting the Kashmiri knot.
    ..
    ..
  4. “So the idle thought is this: If religions and constitutions are both the product of the human brains devised in order to bring order to peoples’ lives and societies, why do some people prefer one over the other? As demand theory would say, they should be on an indifference curve.”
    ..
    ..
    Speaking of wonderfully written paragraphs
    ..
    ..
  5. In search of peace(?)

Livemint Interviews Cass Sunstein

Quick update, especially pertinent given the behavioral economics workshop at Gokhale Institute: Cass Sunstein interviewed by Anil Padmanabhan.

 

Who is Cass Sunstein, you ask?

Here’s a slightly old profile. Here’s the link to his Amazon author page. Here is an interview he did with Tyler Cowen. Here is his faculty page. Here’s a piece I loved reading (written by him).