What is corruption? Snippets from my own life

Economics in action

My maternal grandfather was a clerk in the public works department. He got the job because his father-in-law (and uncle) knew some engineers in the department, and that was the time when Travancore was ruled by kings.

He received `payments’ from contractors while preparing and signing bills. However, the interesting point was that he had never reckoned this payment as a bribe or part of corruption. He considered it as a `commission’ due to him because of his `position’, which was available to him due to his connections.

His son-in-law (my father) did not like the behavior of my grandfather. He wanted to keep a distance from his `corrupt’ father-in-law. My father was a middle-level government official in charge of co-operative societies in a sub-district. He was close to the communist party (though he was not a party card-holder). As part of his job, he conducted examinations and interviews for…

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The good work by government schools gets ignored

 first published on: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/the-good-work-by-government-schools-gets-ignored/articleshow/63764801.cms? - S Giridhar I visited Government Primary School Tunalka in the Garhwal hills in 2017 after a gap of eight years. It was a very good school then because of teacher Sangeeta Bahuguna. There were around 60 children. In a story on unsung heroes, I made glowing reference to her. When... Continue Reading →

Sexual Harassment in Academia – Thoughts of a 56 year old male academic

Economics in action

Writing about sexual harassment from the point of view of a `male’ is not the right thing to do when the country is shell shocked from a few brutal cases of rape during the last few days. These are not merely cases of rape but instances of rape-politics. Let us sincerely hope that the majority of Indians have the sense and maturity to steer the country out of such a shameful and somewhat dreadful situation.

A couple of academic colleagues and friends of mine are implicated in cases of sexual harassment. There are others whose names are discussed in a social media campaign. Most of these academics are in their fifties and sixties. Hence I should consider myself as a `potential harasser’.

I have female friends who are activists in this regard, campaigning against those alleged harassers. It is good that women are willing to talk about these harassment cases…

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To Dye or Not – Coping with Greying

Economics in action

I have checked the spelling of these words twice. Otherwise, the title would have included `die’. Once I requested our Vice-Chancellor to write a `forward’ instead of `foreword’. A colleague of mine – Rajaram – is kind enough to take the trouble to inform me such mistakes which I commit in my blogs.

The title of this essay may give an impression that I am going to make a judgment on those who dye their hair. That is not the purpose of this essay. As a liberal, I have no issues when people color their hair or other parts of the body.

In a recent trip to my home city, two things have captured my attention. There are posters everywhere exhibiting the photos of not only state and local politicians but also many others. A local college celebrating the anniversary would put up posters of its founders and functionaries all…

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The `Wonderful’ Side of Indian Caste System

Economics in action

I am, like many other liberals in India, a critic of its caste system. In my view, it continues to play a debilitating role in the development of the country. It works against `schooling for all’ in two ways. First, the mindset of the upper caste (which has been indifferent to the needs of the majority, intentionally or unintentionally) has shaped the policies of education in the country since its independence. Secondly, those who have been marginalized historically from formal education through the caste system are yet to participate fully in schooling – by being in school regularly and learning adequately.  The urge to restrict sexual and marital relationships within the caste works against the mobility of single girls and this could be a major factor against their participation in paid employment.

Though there are these disabling features, there must be certain important benefits from this mechanism, to some powerful…

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By John Kurien (Formerly with the Marianad Cooperative and Retired Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum) On 21th June 2017, members of the fishing village of Marianad, Trivandrum District in Kerala State, celebrated the birth centenary of Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Bernard Pereira. He was the first Indian bishop of the Latin Catholic Diocese of... Continue Reading →

Need `Schooling for All’ – But Indian Middle-Class is not convinced

Economics in action

I got an opportunity to interact with a set of undergraduate students when Shashank, a colleague in the university, invited me to take a guest lecture in his course on `school and society’. The theme was `why quality schooling for all’. In order to use the lecture time for a Q&A session, I have sent a short note to students beforehand, with 10 reasons/propositions.

  1. There is a connection between lack of education and poverty

Households with a higher level of education are less likely to be poor. This is valid in India too. Poverty among the illiterate Tribal households was about 57 percent when that among the same group with primary schooling was only 20 (Thorat, 2010). There is a similar situation among lower castes too.

  1. Those who have some schooling gets higher incomes even in the rural areas of India

A person with secondary education is nearly 2.3 times…

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Inefficiency is Immoral

Economics in action

Economists argue for a higher level of efficiency in production and governance. However, in my view, this argument is not persuasive enough. Efficiency has to be an integral part of a desirable moral framework in modern society. Or inefficiency should become immoral.

This essay attempts to answer three questions. What is this `efficiency’ that should become part of a moral framework? Why should we integrate efficiency into a moral framework? How do we make inefficiency immoral?

Efficiency – Different dimensions

One should start with the issue of personal effectiveness.  This is arranging one’s own life in such a manner so that one can have the `best possible’ life. Here the `best’ is based on one’s own objective. For example, one can have `a best possible life’ with basic consumption and by devoting her life to enhance the welfare of other people. (We consider only those objectives that do not create…

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Update: Small Farm Dynamics in India

First published at: https://smallfarmdynamics.blog/2018/02/09/technology-and-livelihoods-versus-culture-and-diversity/ The Other Side of Development – II Technology and Livelihoods versus Culture and Diversity? Bullocks have always been an integral part of Indian agriculture. They are important as source of power (-for farm operations and transport) and manure. The symbiotic relationship between bullocks, agriculture and the agriculturist has been very unique and... Continue Reading →

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