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Geocracy

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash Institutions Institutions are the mechanism through which we impose collective order upon our lives. Some institutions are tacit, such as customs, habits and rituals. Why do people in many cultures drink and write with their right hand? Is there a law on the books that says so — usually not. Others are […]

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The Emergent Design of Failure

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash I am not letting any secrets slip in saying that the world has become much more authoritarian in the last decade. The largest countries in the world: China, India, the US, Russia, Brazil are all now ruled by authoritarians. The concentration of power in a few hands is not an isolated […]

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Lynchings are acts of terror

If you’re Indian you know this already and if you aren’t you may not care, but in this note, I want to pay attention to a new innovation in the annals of violence: the Whatsapp driven lynchings of muslims accused of being rustlers of cows, though like every other innovation, it’s spread to lynchings of […]

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Alternate Dystopias

As you might know, I have been writing extensively about demonetization. In case you have missed some of the articles on medium, they are here: While demonetization is undoubtedly important — perhaps the single most important economic-financial event anywhere in the world after the 2008 recession — and it affects the lives of the Indian poor much more than […]

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Permanent Demonetization

It’s an error to compare today’s demonetization to what happened in 1946 and 1978, for those were simply cases of removal. What’s being attempted today is the wholesale replacement of one financial system — based on cash — with another financial system, based on credit and electronic trade. It’s not a surgical strike; it’s bypass surgery on an unwilling […]

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Is Economic Freedom Important?

Whether we like it or not, we are all homo-economicus. I find it amazing that economic freedom is considered an essential part of freedom, but of course homo-economicus would think so. Some time ago, I went to a talk on fieldwork in Cuba by a friend of a friend. I didn’t do anything about these […]

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Assassinating Gandhi’s Character

Today is Gandhi Jayanti, and as usual, there’s no shortage of people who people who are trying to take him down. Sex is the easiest route to do so, since the man spent so much time thinking and writing about his lack of involvement with it. There’s been a long tradition of people trying to […]

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Traffic sense

Traffic is a good metaphor for the rest of India. Here is a short primer: Everyone runs red lights, but buses do it more often than others. Policemen fix the red light by making it turn green as their van approaches one. Chief ministers ignore red lights since traffic has been cleared for their motorcade. […]