India Vs China – What Price Democracy?

I keep reading comparisons between the progress of China and India. Some say it is quite telling. It has been said that for all the advice of the ‘west’ it is the world’s largest democracy that has lagged. The recent release of health statistics makes for uncomfortable reading. Per 10,000 of population India has 6 doctors and 9 hospitable beds; China has 14 and 30 respectively. Indian GDP per capita is US$2800 and China US$5970 (OECD, 2008). Maybe democracy does have a price – but is it one worth paying? Let me first discuss about the conclusion that a dictatorship will grow faster than a democracy. I think there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that all conditions being same, a dictatorship will definitely grow faster than a democracy. This is intuitive and can be derived from natural laws. A democracy is like a chariot with 100 horses, each of whom has an opinion and thinking about the direction that they would like to take. So what happens is that each of the horses or a set of horses with same ideas will pull the chariot in their desired direction. The result is that the chariot is acted upon by forces that are pulling it in different directions. The final direction and the speed of movement will be determined by the resultant force which is the vector sum of all the different forces. On the other hand, a dictatorship is like a chariot with 100 horses out of which only one will make the decision about the direction the chariot has to move in and all the other...

Will Guest Control At Parties Reduce Food Shortage?

Yesterday I read one of the most hilarious pieces of news which said that to reduce food wastage the government could look into the Guest Control Order of the 1960s, which limits number of guests at marriages and other events. It seems that the government has woken up to the fact that there is a food shortage and they have arrived at a brilliant realization that the food wastage at weddings and social gatherings is ”criminal” and must be curbed to ensure food security. Is there really a relationship between food shortage and the number of guests Today, however, I would like to limit my thoughts to the possibility of a curb on the number of guests at a party and like to explore if a party with large number of guests results in food shortage. My thinking is that it does not. And my case is given below: When I go for a dinner party, I eat at the party. On coming back, I do not have dinner again at home. I somehow get this feeling that is the case with all others as well. Therefore, if hypothetically speaking, I invited the entire population of Delhi (about 17 million strong) for the reception of my son’s wedding (a dinner party can’t get bigger than this), that night dinner will not be cooked at any other dwelling except mine. It therefore means that irrespective of the number of guests at a party, the same numbers of “man-dinners” are consumed. So there is no wastage. Corollary to the argument being that attending parties does not contribute to food shortage. At...

The Politics Of Movie Titles

Invariably movies from Bollywood get into trouble in India. It could be because someone does not like the title, or the theme. Sometimes it could be the story and at other times it is the fact that the city has not been called by its correct name. Take the case of Kiran Rao’s maiden film “Dhobi Ghat” that ran into trouble in Kolkata and Delhi on the day of its release. Many a washer men felt that the title was derogatory to the community and carried posters to that effect. In Delhi, the community leaders went one step ahead and approached the Delhi high Court seeking a change of the film’s title. In my opinion the community leaders were being highly “unambitious” when they protested against the title of the movie. After all, the word Dhobi Ghat has not been invented by Kiran Rao. It is a word that exists in the hindi language and also in the dictionary. The protest should have been against the language and the demand should have been that it be removed from the dictionary and the colloquial language. When the Shah Rukh Khan movie titled “Billoo Barber” was being released, at that time too there were protests from the barber community saying that the title demeaned them. I fail to understand how that could be. As per Wikipedia, a barber (from the Latin barba, “beard”) is someone, most often male, whose occupation is to cut any type of hair, and to shave or trim the beards of men. The place of work of a barber is generally called a barbershop, or simply the...

They May Exist, But We Can’t Communicate With Aliens

From time immemorial man has dreams of encounters with the aliens. There have been books written on it, movies made and it is the stuff of romantic scientific fantasy. I am however certain that even if there were other intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe, chances are that we will never get to communicate with aliens. This, in spite of the fact that there was a news item some days back that the chances of finding alien life were given a boost after NASA revealed it had found evidence of more than 1200 planets in orbit around far distant stars. It is also stated that if the findings are confirmed, it will more than triple the number of the known planets outside our own solar system in one full sweep; amazingly 54 of them could support life. Why do I think we may never be able to communicate with aliens The answer lies in the fact that planets that could support life are so far away that a meaningful communication would just not be possible. The NASA discovery is a case in point. According to the scientists, the newly discovered planetary system made up of at least six planets that could support life are orbiting a star 2000 light years away! 2000 light years away? So even if we were to make a rocket that traveled at the speed of light, it will take us 2000 years to reach them. Any message that they give will take another 2000 years to reach us. Can we have a communication where each dialogue takes 4000 years to complete? In 4000 years the entire complexion...