Monday, July 24, 2017

Another place I visted last November with Tella Aruna and Ramasundari

Tella Aruna is sitting next to me, Ramasundari may not be visible in this upload. Aruna has been in social work for over thirty ears and runs an old people's home and a home for abused women. The picture from one of the places, both in Ongole. I plan to spend three years in Ongole this year starting in Novembrr to study teaching in the schools of the area. C.A. Prasad of Jana Vignana Samiti offered to help and Aruna said that I can stay with her. Ramasundari is transferred to Guntur and offered her house for me to stay though I told her that I am not  Marxist. Ramasundari' Facebook link may contain: 12 people, people smiling, shoes and outdoor

The picture from last November which made me reduce smoking

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, mountain, child, outdoor and nature The picture is from that post of Rahul BanerjeeWhile visiting Motia Bhil Bhanai Ghar school in M.P with Rahul Banerjee. Last night I watched cricket until 2:40 in the morning and went for a half an hour walk this morning to check the difference from yesterday's walk. Not much. Decrease in smoking seems to make a difference.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hair styles of Telugu film heros in the old days

Brother's influence

Hi - I'm reading "Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India" by Sujatha Gidla and wanted to share this quote with you.

"WHEN THE TEACHER ASKED FOR a volunteer to use the English word while in a sentence, Papa raised her hand. The teacher knew she was one of the few students he had who was capable of answering such a hard question. But even so he was surprised by what she said: “The Koreans are harvesting while the Americans are bombing them.”"
That was around 1950 in the village Telaprolu in Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh. The girl Papa was the around 14 at that time who was influenced by her brother K.G. Satyamurthy. Carey mentioned below is the younger brother. The family were Dalit Christian.
But "Papa and Carey were especially drawn to the novels of Sarat Chandra, a Bengali author whose works were being translated into Telugu. Sarat’s novels typically featured a heroine who supported her weak husband, cared for her failing in-laws, and set her husband’s wayward younger brother on the right path. These books were modern in their depiction of a strong-willed female character, though she used her strength not to assert herself but rather to endure her unhappy fate. She strained to prop up the very thing that was crushing her, the patriarchal family. Papa and Carey each formed an ideal of life from these novels. Carey longed to deliver a prostitute from her wretchedness by marrying her and making her a respectable woman. Papa dreamed of becoming an exemplary wife, daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law. Above all, she would be honest. She would do nothing that needed to be kept secret from anyone in the world."

Book recommendation from Omar Ali

On hummingbird's frenzy

Professionalism in radical political change

I am not entirely convinced. Perhaps one solution is organizing shoud be like second profession. When Organizers Are Professionals from Jacobin.
Rahul Banerjee on his experiences.In a post on the same in Facebook, he comments:
"Thx to all for the appreciation but personally i feel sad that circumstances have moved me away from mass political action. However much good constructive work we do, without a drastic change in government policies to make them more sustainable and equitable, there is unlikely to be large impact. And without mass political mobilisation for a more just and sustainable development paradigm this will not be possible. But it is extremely difficult to do that these days."

Women networks, a story from France

A Study of the Champagne Industry Shows That Women Have Stronger Networks, and Profit from Them "Combined with past studies, our research has implications for female leaders and minorities in other industries. When an organization contains just a few “token” minorities, those individuals will tend to compete with one other to distinguish themselves. But when a minority group is somewhat larger, people in that group will be more likely to identify with one another and develop supportive relationships. And, as the female grape growers in Champagne have shown, a network of such relationships can result in tangible benefits, including not just social support but also the sharing of valuable business information  such as the prices being charged in a market."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

About US jobs

Intelligence and patience are crucial

Where Do Pro-Social Institutions Come From? by pseudoearasmus. The Original post from two years ago has a number of comments.
 In the comments Peter T( Peter Turchin?) remarks "You reject CE, but “intelligence” and “patience” are learned characteristics, not innate ones (the capacity for them is innate but, given human genetic similarity but large group differences in these measures, the expression is clearly social). So they are themselves cultural."
Pseudoerasmus responds "But I rejected a very specific element of cultural evolution as the driver of institutional differences between populations — social norms — which were defined fairly precisely in the text above. And I did not say anything about the origins of the between-population differences in patience or intelligence."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Snake dance by P.Bhanumati
The dance does not seem too bad though "And speaking of her dance lessons, Bhanumati was characteristically ruthless in self-assessment – she remarked that it must have been a black day for the revered Guru [Vempati Pedda Satyam]when he accepted her as his disciple, fior her dance movements could easily be mistaken for a patient suffering from a particularly virulent fit of epilepsy!" from

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Violence against Dalits continues

More than 25 Dalit activists have been murdered in Tamil Nadu over the past year, says Madurai NGOThis kind of news does not seem to get much traction in the social media which is probably dominated by the more privileged. Going by the number of visits in this blog, I find posts about Dalits, manual scavenging etc get the least number of visits where as anything about Indian music, good things about Indian heritage get lord of visits. May be we develop immunity for things we cannot change rapidly.

Time seems to go after as one grows older

Times seems to go faster with age or so it seemed to me. Last week has been a bit slower, may be due to efforts to cut down smoking. It seemed ages but is only about six days that I am down to six cigarettes a day. Today, we went to watch Leila and Ava aged 11,9 on their Athletics Day at school. It was about 12C, drizzling and sometimes pouring, and windy. We went around the ground twice meeting the kids twice, watced one of them run, spoke to them and offered gloves and caps which were refused. After what seemed like a long time, we were resigned to kids getting sick by the end of the day and Lalita already planning to ask Gavin to stay home the next day. Then we checked our watches and found that we spent exactly 18 minutes at the ground. I googled and the first item I find is this Why does time fly as we get older?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam on decentralised violence

Lynch mobs seem to know nothing will happen to them, they’re implicitly meeting approval from higher-ups: UCLA scholar "Sadly, good parts of the international situation are also similar, so we should not think we are so unique. Turkey is witnessing the strengthening of Muslim fundamentalism and authoritarian government. In Russia, you have the Orthodox Church’s alliance with an authoritarian state. This is the new normal of neo-democratic states, which, when it suits them, say they are democratic, and at the same time, slowly shift the ground in society. If this is on the cards, politics has to come in, to pull society back from the brink. This cannot be just about civil society formations fighting a rear-guard action and taking on a political system. This is the time for the political system to show its resilience, or else we will face the consequences of one-party rule over years and years."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Some news from India

This is Not Faking News: Astrologers to 'Diagnose' Patients in MP Hospital
Priests dupe MLA of Rs 50 lakh promising minister post "It is learnt that the priests were introduced to the MLA by his relative, who had earlier approached the men for special prayers seeking an offspring. The priests had performed pooja and given him some herbs. After some time, he had been blessed with a child."
Four Sanitation Workers Die Of Asphyxiation While Cleaning Septic Tank In DelhiNEW
39 dead in 100 days while cleaning sewers: Bezwada Wilson
Mahagun Moderne residents move to ban Bengali, Odiya help; 13 slum-dwellers arrested "She says the general attitude is that these people deserve it, for daring to break into a gated society. “'Kaam bandh ho jayega, pet pe laath padega toh they'll understand what it is to protest against us' is what they think.” (When they stop getting work and go hungry...)"

The power of placebos partly explained

A conversation with David Shulman

Music, Culture, History: A Conversation with David Shulman with links to previous articles. Engaging as always.

Domestic help in India

A new book raises uncomfortable questions. This is the right time to read ‘Maid in India’, which exposes the ugly truths lurking in our homes I read the book. It is mostly about Delhi area. To begin with, it discusses some of the domestic help involves and the author visits their areas of origin from Jharkhand to Bengal, Orissa and the conditions that drove them to work in a far away place. Then there are more detailed stories of agents for domestic help, some of the organizations involved in the welfare of the people, court cases etc. some of the stories are involved and ongoing. As far as I can see, most of the reviews do not do justice to the book. A first book by the author, it is not perfect. There is a bias towards the workers but the author seemed aware of her privileges and often comparing the ratio of her earning to those of her domestic help and how the ratio is changing. Some of the later stories of cruelty, and a case where the domestic help chooses to stay with her cheating employers rather than go back home are very moving:
"‘So you’re just going to keep staying here?’ ‘Yes,’ she says. I ask that most Indian of questions: what about meeting someone and getting married? Starting your own life? ‘What for?’ she responds, with the most feeling she has shown so far. ‘I’m not interested.’ Then she vanishes to another part of the house."
This is perhaps one of the less painful ones. Some of these are possibly worth books of their own. The above review links to two such stories. There are also some 'success stories'.
How long it will Take India to move to more systematic domestic services is not clear. Moreover, the book is mostly about Delhi where there is lot of money and is the seat of central government with various power plays, which is different from other parts of India. There are also youtube interviews with the author Tripti Lahiri. Here is one:
There are also reactions like this:
"The real story, however, is not about the maudlin ‘Maid in India’ narrative being peddled by Left-liberal activists, some of them masquerading as journalists, in English language publications far and wide -— as far as The Washington Post, whose readers would not know Noida from Khirkee Extension.  Hating those who have worked hard to live a better life is fashionable and politically correct." from

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Corey Robi reviews some books on Hannah Arendt

"That careerism may be as lethal as idealism, that ambition is an adjunct of barbarism, that some of the worst crimes are the result of ordinary vices rather than extraordinary ideas: these are the implications of Eichmann in Jerusalem that neo-cons and neoliberals alike find too troubling to acknowledge." from Dragon-Slayers by Corey Robin. Somewhat convoluted and difficult essay for me but I came to the above conclusion long ago by myself.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Rethinking Marxism

Rethinking the Marxist Conception of Revolution Long read but readable, most of it seems sensible to me. It is possible when people are desperate, local collective organizations will emerge as they have been emerging all over the world. They are not all similar and it is not clear that they will combine to some sort of uniformity; it seems unlikely. But many use new technologies.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Browder saga continues

The Secret Jewish History Of Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia Scandal Read more:
I am partly interested inthe story because, as a research student, I was influence by his uncle William Browder's mathematics papers. William Browder also produce several stellar theses via his students.
More from Robert Parry How Russia-gate met Magnitsky Myth 

Husnlal-Bhagatram songs

The first duo from Songs of Yore
The diamond cutters by Salish Copra two years ago in The Hindu one of their early popular songs.

Links July 13, 2017

Beam me up, Scotty! Scientists teleport photons 300 miles into space from The Guardian
Students are Better Off without a Laptop in the Classroom from Scientific American
Don't leave health care to free market from The New York Times
How poverty affects the brain from Nature : (Via Lambert Strether) "EEG detected stronger electrical activity among children with stunted growth, along with a range of brainwaves that reflect problem solving and communication between brain regions. That was a surprise to the researchers, because studies in orphans and poor children have generally found dampened activity7. The discrepancy could be related to the different types of adversity that children in Dhaka face, including food insecurity, infections and mothers with high rates of depression.
Nelson's team is trying to parse out which forms of adversity seem to be most responsible for the differences in brain activity among the Dhaka children. The enhanced electrical signals in EEG tests are strongly linked to increases in inflammatory markers in the blood, which probably reflect greater exposure to gut pathogens.
If this holds up as more children are tested, it could point to the importance of improving sanitation and reducing gastrointestinal infections. Or maternal depression could turn out to be strongly linked to brain development, in which case helping mothers could be just as crucial as making sure their babies have good nutrition. “We don't know the answers yet,” says Nelson."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On global value chains

"Interestingly, the figure captures anxieties felt by both rich and poor countries in thinking about trade today. People in rich countries worry that manufacturing is being hollowed out. That is, that semi-skilled production jobs have moved to the developing world, and—to the extent that such jobs still remain in advanced economies—have faced downward pressure on wages. Poor countries worry that they are trapped in low-value-added activities and are locked out of the higher value-added found in design, key technological inputs, and marketing." from Global value chains shed new light on trade and more with an article to follow by David Dollar
A brief discussion byTim Taylor 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump cannot improve relations with Russia

says Paul Craig Roberts Trump Cannot Improve Relations With Russia When Trump’s Government and the US Media Oppose Improved Relations
See alsoTrump and the Middle East paradox by Alistair Crooke :
"What the Gulf and Israel’s allies have done with their agenda of cordons sanitaire along Syria’s borders, of roll-back of Iran and Hizbullah in Syria, of balkanization of Syria, and of the attempted severance of Iran from Syria (via a Kurdish wedge), is to leave Trump empty-handed. What can Trump offer Putin in the war on ISIS (beyond obstructions to Putin’s allies — and to Putin’s objective to maintain the infrastructure and territory of the Syrian State, intact), that Putin might welcome, and find useful? Equally, how can Putin assist Trump when the U.S. agenda avoids, like the plague, any and all association with the very forces trying to establish stability in Syria?
Tillerson’s statement just might be the first hint that these considerations are being given serious thought (such as the Putin-Trump agreement on a partial cease-fire in southwest Syria). We shall see, soon enough."

Guitar Natarajan on agriculture in India

Examining agriculture in India :
"Very good analysis of India's agriculture system by Ram Kaundinya. I have always struggled with a outlining a satisfactory enough pathway to agricultural sector reforms. Here is only the latest attempt. 

As a context, about 130-140 m farmers cultivate around 175 m hectares of land, of which over 60% is unirrigated and rely on erratic monsoons. Mechanization is limited and with perhaps not much (though not non-trivial) potential given the small and fragmented holdings. Farming is therefore not very productive and largely subsistence. A vast and entrenched intermediary network coupled with lack of storage infrastructure means that most of farm production is sold immediately at farm gate at lower prices in a post-harvest buyers market. Cropping patterns have been shifting, with riskier and more infrastructure dependent horticulture crop production recently exceeding food grains. "
Link to Ram Kaundinya article The difficulty of being a farmer:"The Indian farmer faces pressure from both the demand and the supply sides. Technology can help solve some of his problems...., We need to overhaul our thinking and approach towards addressing farmers’ challenges which are complicated and structural in nature. Waiving farm loans is a lazy option for governments and a costly option for the banking system. Successive governments have chosen this option because they do not have the political will to find better solutions. "

Monday, July 10, 2017

Arava and Tamil

I find this passage about Krishnadevaraya’s time in a 1995 article Sanskrit and Telugu In Medieval Andhra  by Velcheru Narayana Rao 
“An interesting tidbit that might be noted here is that people who ridiculed other languages were supposed to be fined by the king with a fine of one hundred ‘panas’, and that ‘arava’ was considered a derogatory term for Tamil.” 
Today in a discussion about Sarat's Devdas in 'Songs of Yore' on Sarat's Devdas, one RSR, presumably a Tamilian, writes in comment 94:
"I am told that tamilians are known as ‘arava’, because they do not have the fourth sound for consonants. ( pa,ppa,ba but no bha)(ka,kka,ga, no gha ) as in all the other Indian languages patterned on Sanskrit. It was just descriptive not derogatory. I feel that the fourth sound is rather unnatural and tamil omits that sound rightly!"
An internet search shows that There may be genuine roots, tribal, regional etc for the word arava. But words also have a life of their own, both in time and space. But the 'fact' that it was considered defagotary so long ago and continues to be in some places means that it has to be handled with care.

Poverty and development

My mother was't trash:
"David Joy, who is by my estimation the most talented and important young writer in Appalachia right now, recently wrote: "The truth is we live in a world where we don’t listen to people anymore. So often we’re just waiting for the next opening to respond. What we need to realize is that sometimes people don’t need advice. Sometimes people just need to be heard. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone is just to keep our mouths shut and let them empty themselves into our hands. When they’re finished, we don’t need to do anything with what they’ve given us. We just need to show them that we’re holding it for them till they can catch their breath."
Sometimes, that's all Mom needed. Someone to be present while she screamed and cried. Somebody to hold her while she caught her breath."
Related What happened when Walmart left:
"Much has been written about what happens when the corporate giant opens up in an area, with numerous studies recording how it sucks the energy out of a locality, overpowering the competition through sheer scale and forcing the closure of mom-and-pop stores for up to 20 miles around. A more pressing, and much less-well-understood, question is what are the consequences when Walmart screeches into reverse: when it ups and quits, leaving behind a trail of lost jobs and broken promises."

How the poor are coping with heat in one place with the help of an NGO

With a touch of reflective paint, women in an Ahmedabad slum are beating extreme heat
"The Mahila Housing Trust knows the disproportionate effect of climate change on the city’s poorest residents, and is trying to do something about it.
It is experimenting with reflective paint, insulated ceilings and modular roofs in homes in Ramesh Dutt Colony. These are low-cost options that can bring down indoor temperatures by several degrees, Bhonsale told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Women are also trained in measures such as using fuel-efficient stoves to reduce reliance on firewood, rainwater harvesting, composting, cleaning stormwater drains and planting shrubs to help prevent flash floods.
The trust has installed a warning system in some slums that sounds an alarm during heavy rain, so residents can move documents and food to higher spots in case of flooding, Bhonsale said.
“For poor women, their home is also their workplace, their storehouse. They are much more sensitised to the impact of climate change, and understand the seriousness of it,” she said."

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Justice after 30 years

ఓ మహిళ 30 ఏళ్ల పోరాటానికి న్యాయమూర్తి పాదాభివందనం
One Vruddula Parvateesam was dismissed from his job in 1982, goes to court and wins in 1986. However, he did not get the monetary benefits like pension despite repeated appeals and died in 2004. His wife Rajeswari appealed in 2006 for her part of the pension without any results until this year. Finally this year it comes to the notice of the District Magistrate of Visakhapatnam P.V. Jyothirmayi. She ensured that the victim who is 86 now received a cheque for 200,000 rupees ( about 4,000 Australian dollars). This was done in a public meeting,and moreover the magistrate touched the feet of the victim as a mark of respect.

Where capitalism fails

Detroit's underground economy: where capitalism fails, alternatives take root:
"The city’s so-called renaissance has reached only small portions of its 139 square miles, leaving much of the population—which is more than 80 percent African-American—behind.
But over decades of poverty, Detroiters have learned to get by without access to traditional cash or credit. There’s a resilient informal economy rooted in neighborhoods and communities: Barter, gifts, time trading and underground businesses are ubiquitous."

Some more horrible news from USA

Rahm Emanuel's cruel new plan "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new plan to keep teens off the street has been a subject of controversy since it was announced in April. Beginning in 2020, public school students will be forced to present their post-graduation plans in order to receive their diploma.  "

Some Telugu personalities

i left Andhra in 1956 except for two years in Hyderabad 1960-63. Though I visited home off and on ( some say that any area outside Krishna-Guntur Districts is a foreign country to me), my interest was mainly in mathematics. I started looking at the Telugu scene after retirement in 2005, initially for old film songs. These were supplied by the site oldtelugusongs. I have wondered what happened to many of the leftist personalities in Telugu films from fifties. Here is the third of a series about one of them K.B. Tilak , a nephew of the even more famous director-producer L.V.Prasad. Here are the other Two parts. He says "తిలక్ ప్రత్యేకంగా ఎవర్నీ ఉద్దేశించి చెప్పక పోయినా, ఆయన మాటల్లో సమాజ ప్రభావం వల్ల అభ్యుదయ భావాలు, వ్యక్తులు— వేరవుతున్నారనే అర్థం వ్యక్తమయింది. సమాజంలోని వ్యక్తులందరి లాగానే, తిలక్‌ను కూడా అంతస్తు పెరగకపోయినా.. కొద్దిగా మారుతున్నందున– కొన్ని వ్యసనాలకులోనుచేసాయి. అడపాదడపా… మద్యం సేవించటం, అలవాటున్న సిగరెట్‌ను అధిగమించి చుట్ట, పైపుల వైపు దృష్టి మళ్లించటం దాంతో పాటే తానూ ఓ స్టూడియో ఎందుకు నిర్మించరాదు–అని ఆలోచించటం జరిగాయి. వాటి తప్పొప్పుల వివరాలలోకి ఆయన వెళ్లలేదు.
అదే అంటారు తిలక్. అందరి లాగానే, తనపై కూడా తానూ– ఆ కోవలోని వాడినే అయి నందువల్ల, సామాజిక ప్రభావం అప్పుడప్పుడూ పడ్తుండేదనీ–అది, అధిగమించే ప్రయత్నంచేసాననీ చెప్పారు తిలక్. సఫలుడు అయిందీ లేనిదీ చెప్పలేనన్నారు."
I just came across another, a writer who just passed away before the age of sixty by name Dr. V. Chandrasekhar rao. He seems to be from a similar but relatively poo rer background, his father was a school teacher. Here is a speech by him in USA and another
He also seems to be of some Marxist persuasion and a medical doctor by profession. I will try to find out more about these people on the next trip to Andhra. My impression is that they were not able to make much difference.
GRK Murty on C.Narayana Reddy

Friday, July 07, 2017

Links, 7/7/2017

The rise of the Thought Leader: How the superrichch have funded a new class of intellectual by David Sessions, discusses Daniel Drezner's recent book 'The Ideas Industry', long read.
My decade leading the WHO: dirty fights and steps toward universal coverage by the departing WHO director-general Margaret Chan
China,India border row 'worst in thirty years'
Microchimerism making news again but nothing beyond this old article seems new A Pregnancy Souvenir: Cells That Are Not Your Own
Can certain foods really burn fat?

More on Sarat and Devdas

 Much of this new to me. The mortals of Devdas by J.N.Sinha:
"These true-to-life characters of this immortal story have often tempted readers to ask whether they existed in reality. What has made this novel one of the most compelling stories of the 20th century? Its admirers have tracked many a character in Saratchandra Chattopadhyay’s life and his novels. Finally, the search closes up on an elusive pair on the banks of the Ganga, in Bhagalpur in Bihar: On a closer look, Devdas is none other than the author himself, and Paro a young vivacious girl of the same town."

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Perala Ratnam, Kamala Ratnam

I picked some books edited by Perala Ratnam from our university library, these are about Indian culture in honour of Raghuvira from 1974. Three of those had articles by Kamala Ratnam. It was clear from the articles that she was the diplomat' wife and a scholar herself. A search with her name led to this article about er friendship with the Assamese author Indira Goswami. Though Perala is misspelt, it seems that he passed away in 1988. Indira Goswami's biography of Kamala Ratnam was published under the name 'Mahiyashi Kamala'. The biography probably appeared around 1995. Through people who know Assamese, it may be possible to get more details of the lives of Perala and Kamala Ratnam.
Previous post about Perala Ratnam here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

On face recognition

How the brain does face recognition, a report by Steven HSU on some very neat work.
Further possibilities in brain studies with links here. One of them "Mind Reading" technology to read complex thoughts.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sarat Chandra's Devdas

AK of Songs of Yore has a very nice post One hundred years of Sarat Chandra's 'Devdas' and the ensuing discussion about Sarat's other novels, reactions to Devdas from Indians of different backgrounds. Here is a review of the 1953 Telugu film version Devadasu by two young white women from Melbourne, they seem to have got interested in Indian films by working in some films made in Melbourne Devadasu (1953).
According to the Wikipedia page on Sarat
"He remains the most popular, most translated, most adapted, and most plagiarized Indian author of all time."
There is also lot of academic literature and a few theses on his work. He has written sympathetically about the poor of all creeds but a a speech in his later life caused controversy Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and communalism: a buried chapter.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Tim Taylor on the next recession

From what direction is the next recession coming?
"Given the good news of weak inflation, it seems plausible that the next recession will arise out during the next financial crisis. At least right now, such a crisis seems most likely to arise outside of the US and European economies. Instead, there are some troubling signs of excessive debt and financial strain in some emerging market economies, as well as in Canada. "

I found this bit confusing:
"The clear implication from this earlier line of thought is that recessions don't die of old age; instead, they are murdered by the Fed." is not clear, he may mean some thing else. Compare the sentence which comes soon after "No postwar recovery has died in bed of old age--the Federal Reserve has murdered every one of them. " The analysis assumes that there will be no wars etc.
P.S. The text is modified now. Since there were no responses here or on Facebook, I wrote to him and he has clarified.

The North-South divide again in India

Emmanuel Todd has written about this divide basing his work on the difference in the family systems
In The causes of progress. His work has been mentioned a few times before. The differences, for whatever reasons are, are surfacing again.
India is slowly cleaving into two countries – a richer, older South and a poorer, younger North 

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rahul Banerjee on solar power service problems in remote places

Solar power blues
 I have seen similar problems with Wifi  in a school he has been helping in Kakrana. These places are lucky to have his help. He is IIT Khargapur graduate and an activist for about 30 years. Apart from theoretical readings, he has developed a lot of practical expertise including legal problems and is a great source of help for Bhils in Alirajpur District. There are many more posts about his work in this blog. He is too busy with his work to develop a website for all his activities. Generally he gets about 10-12 laks of rupees an Year  funding from public for these activities and makes his living by writing reports for UN on sewage, water problems and such. Some of his work can be gleaned from the blog linked above.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Russia-gate in perspective

Russia-gate Is No Watergate or Iran-Contra by Robert Parry:
 "By contrast, Russia-gate has been a “scandal” in search of a specific crime."

A short film by Satyajit Ray

Friday, June 30, 2017

Different perspectives on Syria

Polish refugees in India 1942-48

Nivedita Majumdar's analysis some writers on subaltern resistance

In Silencing the Subaltern Resistance & Gender in Postcolonial Theory seems quite incisive. But I am not too sure about her conclusions about going back to class conflict more clearly formulated in Why We're Marxists.Both worth reading I think though I have problems with analyses using classes. Here is a speech by her One can find classes and class conflicts small big in many places throughout history. But it seems more amorphous and not that generally applicable all the time and keeps changing with the same person. The analysis by Nivedita seems to ignore human nature ( but Marx does not), qualities like status seeking, how the same person can be a worker at one stage and capitalist next.And then conspicuous consumption from those who cannot afford it because it happens all the time. It happens both in the east and in the west, for example wedding expenses. What she outlines covers a large swathe of what is happening but the actors keep shifting to different classes even if we ignore the multiple identity scenario. Are there any solutions? Bhaskar Sunkara suggests "Some broad outlines should already be clear: Worker-owned cooperatives, still competing in a regulated market; government services coordinated with the aid of citizen planning; and the provision of the basics necessary to live a good life (education, housing and health care) guaranteed as social rights. In other words, a world where people have the freedom to reach their potentials, whatever the circumstances of their birth." in Socialism's future may be its past. These days when one disruption on one corner of the world can affect many other corners, I think that we need this kind of local protection schemes to survive global onslaughts.
P.S.A discussion of Why libertarians should read Marx by Chris Dillow. I would add that at least indirectly, one should try to get an idea of what Marx said and tried to say and changes in his thinking. There may be short cuts which I tried to follow, reading articles and short books like 'Why read. Arc today?' By Jonathan Wolff and various posts in the blog 'Understanding Society' of Dan Little.

Perala Ratnam

Around 1970 (+-), I met Bharati Ashok Ratnam in TIFR, Bombay. He actually met me because he was friend with Nagisetti V, Rao who was classmate of mine from 1954-56. Bharati Ratnam's mother Kamala came from an influential family in U.P. He was very Hindu oriented and wanted Hindus to rule India and also said that he would soon be the director of TIFR. He said his father Perala Ratnam was from Perala, not too far from my native place and expected that his father to have ancestral properties which he hoped to repossess but the family has been out of touch with relatives in Perala. I said that the name suggested Christian background, that he probably came from poor Dalit background and may be that is why he never went back. Yesterday I met a Christian school teacher from Andhra in Melbourne. He remembered the name since it was the name of one of the few Christians who made it from that area.
The Wikipedia in French Perala Ratnam gives some information on him. He was the Indian ambassador to a few countries and it also leads to a list of books written or edited by him  Here. He seems to be a very talented man who wrote on diverse topics sadly unknown in the place of his worth. Curiously, there is also a mathematics article Algebraic Functions from 1949 published in 1949 in Tokyo attributed him. The Wikipedia page says that he was in Tokyo during that period. Perhaps, it was done by him as some sort of hobby.
I could not find about any more about him or his family. His son married a lady working in the library of TIFR and they migrated to USA. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 70. I met his father in Bombay as well as Delhi. He had one sister. I do not know whether Perala Ratnam is alive now, if he is he would be around 105. I do not know about his wife though at one time I heard she had a brother who was film actor.
So that is the little bit I know about a talented man who was an inspiration to a few young poor Christians in Andhra long ago. If I get to know any thing more about him, I will post again.

P.S. I contacted Rao Nagisetty who met Perala Ratnam several times in Moscow, that was where he was friends with the son Bharati Asok Ratnam. Rao tells me that it is the same Perala Ratnam who wrote the mathematics article mentioned above.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Recent news about Gobekli Tepe

Dead heads: Turkish site reveals more evidence of neolithic 'skull cult' :"The grooves and holes cut purposefully into skulls are far less ornate than the beautiful carvings of people and animals that decorate limestone pillars at the site, leading scientists to suspect that they were not for show, but instead helped others to string the skulls up with cord. 
Those who spent time at the site – there is little evidence people lived there – may have commemorated their ancestors by suspending their skulls, or displayed the skulls of their enemies. “They think the power from the dead is going to the living,” said Gresky."

Chance encounters

A Path Less Taken to the Peak of the Math World "June Huh thought he had no talent for math until a chance meeting with a legendary mind. A decade later, his unorthodox approach to mathematical thinking has led to major breakthroughs."
"When Huh was 24 and in his last year of college, the famed Japanese mathematician Heisuke Hironaka came to Seoul National as a visiting professor. Hironaka was in his mid-70s at the time and was a full-fledged celebrity in Japan and South Korea. He’d won the Fields Medal in 1970 and later wrote a best-selling memoir called The Joy of Learning, which a generation of Korean and Japanese parents had given their kids in the hope of nurturing the next great mathematician. At Seoul National, he taught a yearlong lecture course in a broad area of mathematics called algebraic geometry. Huh attended, thinking Hironaka might become his first subject as a journalist.
Initially Huh was among more than 100 students, including many math majors, but within a few weeks enrollment had dwindled to a handful. Huh imagines other students quit because they found Hironaka’s lectures incomprehensible. He says he persisted because he had different expectations about what he might get out of the course.
“The math students dropped out because they could not understand anything. Of course, I didn’t understand anything either, but non-math students have a different standard of what it means to understand something,” Huh said. “I did understand some of the simple examples he showed in classes, and that was good enough for me.”
After class Huh would make a point of talking to Hironaka, and the two soon began having lunch together. Hironaka remembers Huh’s initiative. “I didn’t reject students, but I didn’t always look for students, and he was just coming to me,” Hironaka recalled."
Huh tried to use these lunches to ask Hironaka questions about himself, but the conversation kept coming back to math. When it did, Huh tried not to give away how little he knew. “Somehow I was very good at pretending to understand what he was saying,” Huh said. Indeed, Hironaka doesn’t remember ever being aware of his would-be pupil’s lack of formal training. “It’s not anything I have a strong memory of. He was quite impressive to me,” he said.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Continuation of oil wars

: F. William Engdahl Has Washington Lost the Middle East After Qatar?:"There is a hidden thin red thread connecting the recent US Congress’ sanctions against Iran and now the Russian Federation, with the decision of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies to sanction Qatar. That red thread has nothing to do with a fight against terrorism and everything to do with who will control the largest natural gas reserves in the world as well as who will dominate the world market for that gas."
Check also Daniel Yergin's work on oil and Not all fossil fuels are going extinct.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Advice about reading scientific papers for non-scientists

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists from LSE. Difficult to follow on more than one topic. Sometimes, the article comes attached with comments by other experts and responses by the author like this Agricultural Deskilling and the Spread of Genetically Modified Cotton in Warangal
But over time, I found it difficult even to read such paper. Now a days, I seem to be generally following some experts and follow their work on a trial basis. Off and on I read long reports like this by David Andow on BT brinjal

UP police woman Shrestha Thakur

Monday, June 26, 2017

Peculiar hotel rules

A smidgen of hope

"...history is not stained with blood spilled by animosities between partisans for broccoli versus cauliflower." from
Why your brain hates other people? By Robert Sapolsky with the subheading 'And how to make it think differently'.
But These boys got the same haircut so their teacher 'wouldn't be able to tell them apart.'

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tyler Cowan interview of Raj Chetty

Here. An excerpt:
"COWEN: If I’m trying to model the Raj Chetty production function and I described it as such, it’s a multiplicative model, so there is getting the data, but that’s not the key point.
CHETTY: That’s not the key point.
COWEN: There’s then some conceptual advance that allows you to see the data can test something that other people hadn’t seen, and then there are numerous stages of execution, and then there’s also recruiting and managing the team. There’s a whole bunch of different steps, and you’re trying to do well at each of them and very few other people can do well at each and every one, and maybe that’s the way to think about your moat. Is that fair to say?
CHETTY: That is our strategy. I think the other thing that’s extremely important is, we spend a lot of time on trying to achieve clarity. There are ways to write papers in economics that are more accessible to the public and thereby have greater impact, and there are ways to write papers that are more technically oriented and narrow the set of readers."

P.S. I thought it was me who gave Raj his first computer. He seems to have forgotten. From an interview with his father, it was a Sinclair and he was three at that time.

Empowerment for the relatively privileged.

The poem 'Chopping Onions' is making rounds and drawing praise from other relatively privileged and successful people. It is one of the poems here. Recitation around 21:00 Here, may give an idea of the groups interested in such things.
The choice for the less privileged "Cut to the the 21st century. The latest census figures list only 32.8 per cent women formally as primary workers in the agricultural sector, in contrast to 81.1 per cent men. But the undeniable fact remains that India’s agricultural industry, which employs 80 to 100 million women, cannot survive without their labour. From preparing the land, selecting seeds, preparing and sowing to transplanting the seedlings, applying manure/fertilisers/pesticides and then harvesting, winnowing and threshing, women work harder and longer than male farmers.
Maintaining the ancillary branches in this sector, like animal husbandry, fisheries and vegetable cultivation, depends almost solely on women. So where are these women while the male farmers and their kakas furiously debate the future of farming, loans, subsidies and irrigation matters? Men get more than their share of visibility on TV, in governmental publicity material and within the banking sectors but millions of women farmers have no spokesperson from their ranks." from
The invisible women farmers

Another on the long term effects in development

"Are you surprised by these results? They fascinate me, honestly. Think through the logic: forced labor (in the surrounding villages) and extractive capital (rail and factories built solely to export a crop in little use domestically) both have positive long-run local effects! They do so by affecting institutions – whether villages have the ability to produce public goods like education – and by affecting incentives – the production of capital used up- and downstream. One can easily imagine cases where forced labor and extractive capital have negative long-run effects, and we have great papers by Daron Acemoglu, Nathan Nunn, Sara Lowes and others on precisely this point. But it is also very easy for societies to get trapped in bad path dependent equilibria, for which outside intervention, even ethically shameful ones, can (perhaps inadvertently) cause useful shifts in incentives and institutions!"

Another quote "But it is also very easy for societies to get trapped in bad path dependent equilibria, for which outside intervention, even ethically shameful ones, can (perhaps inadvertently) cause useful shifts in incentives and institutions! "

Saturday, June 24, 2017

From facebok feed

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Robin Hanson feels his age

I turn 58 soon, and I’m starting to realize that I may not live long enough to finish many of my great life projects. 
His Home page : And I'm not a joiner; I rebel against groups with "our beliefs", especially when members must keep criticisms private, so as not to give ammunition to "them".
Next book The elephant in the brain, its detailed outline 

Friday, June 23, 2017

On religious extremism

Religious extremism: the good, the bad, and the deadly by Lawrence R Iannaccone
  and Eli Berman from 2005-2006
 Abstract: This paper challenges conventional views of violent religious extremism, particularly those that emphasize militant theology. We offer an alternative analysis that helps explain the persistent demand for religion, the different types of religious that naturally arise, and the special attributes of the “sectarian” type. Sects are adept at producing club goods – both spiritual and material. Where governments and economies function poorly, sects often become major suppliers of social services, political action, and coercive force. Their success as providers is much more due to the advantages of their organizational structure than it is to their theology. Religious militancy is most effectively controlled through a combination of policies that raise the direct costs of violence, foster religious competition, improve social services, and encourage private enterprise.
 A recent discussion about British politics which partly uses the above paper
Irrational politics: is it about signalling?

Check also Eli Berman

The age of Trump?

I have been hearing about such incidents since 1953

Two more on democracy

Why do democracies fail? "The most crucial variable predicting the success of a democratic transition is the self-confidence of the incumbent elites. If they feel able to compete under democratic conditions, they will accept democracy. If they do not, they will not."
If you don’t like my govt, don’t take pension, use roads’: Andhra CM to voters

Check also Democracy leads to Islamism by Razib Khan posted earlier.

Two from Bloomberg

Razib Khan again

A commenter says "Razib, I am pleased to see that you have kept your options open. You seem to change your options as soon as new evidence is placed before you. I have seen you flip flopping depending on the strength of the evidence, at that particular moment in time . This shows an agile and very less biased mind without some pre-determined notions ruling your judgement. " from
Indian emetics, the never-ending argument:
"Ultimately the final story will be more complex than we can imagine. R1a is too widespread to be explained by a simple Indo-Aryan migration in my opinion. But we can’t get to these genuine conundrums if we keep having to rebut ideologically motivated salvos."
Another Democracy leads to Islamism:
"Eric Kauffman argues in Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? that modernization, economic development, and the expansion of political representation, integrates conservative rural populations and uplifts them all the while transforming the norms of urban areas.In other words, the rural bazar melds with the urban shopping mall, and both are changed. The 1979 revolution in Iran and its aftermath has been argued to be a victory of the bazar over the Western oriented gentry. In India the rise of Hindu nationalism is an assertion of the self-confidence of sub-elites from the “cow belt” who arose to challenge the Western oriented ruling class that had dominated since the early 20th century."