Untangle this Mess–Indian Telecom Infrastructure

There is much ballyhoo about the emergence of global outsourcing giant. It always been my argument that compared to China, India’s telecom and other infrastructure facilities are teetering on the brink. I got these pictures through email today. Talk about India’s telecom infrastructure. To say that it is jumbled would be an understatement. Here, take a look for yourself and identify which wire is connected to which call center. How long do you think this infrastructure arrangement will last?

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Bushism, Global Food Prices and India–The Blame Game

No doubt global food prices have gone up. Last week big box food retailers and wholesalers started to ration key grains such as rice. The reasons for the sudden jump on food prices is complex. Particularly, speculation in the commodity prices, jump in fuel prices, and use of corn as a biofuel, drought, global warming, and increasing consumption are some of the reasons for the jump in commodity prices. It is completely surprising for high consuming United States to argue that the emergence of the Indian middle class as the reason for the jump in global food prices. The current US administration has indeed hit the pits and reached new lows. Really, rise in the middle class in India is the reason for jump in food prices? Really? I mean really? India is a net food exporter not an importer. You are unbelievable, lil bush and condi. Did you guys know that US agri-business is heavily subsidized by the American taxpayers so that corporations can make a tidy profit.

Tom Friedman Earth Day Lecture Welcome Reception

Tom Friedman gave an Earth Day lecture in Brown University recently. He was received very warmly by concerned students interested in protecting earth from corporate environmentalism. Here see for yourself the warm reception he got:

Friedman, Outsourcing, Globalization-My Analysis

Here is my analysis of Tom Friedman’s take on Outsourcing. Mr. Friedman seems to overstate the impact of outsourcing on India and he seems to jin-up the young and upcoming youth in India. Yes, true call-center jobs have indeed opened up new vistas to a lot of Indian youth, but these jobs have high turnover rates and low job satisfaction. Besides, these are not career-paths, the terrible hours, high-pressure environment, bosses obsessed with the bottom line and mean clients produce very minimal attachment to these jobs. These positions are bottom-feeders and they are unlikely to push India up the value chain in the long-run. Now, if you are serious programmer, with good coding skills, and language ability I am sure you will be picked-up by the MNCs and exported abroad.

Towards the end of the video clip, Tom Friedman travels to the slums outside of Bangalore and meets with some NGO activists. The most problematic element of this tour is that despite seeing the devastating poverty around him, he simply ignores them and continues to focus on the Malls, software industry, etc. Mr. Friedman’s selective analysis leaves one with the impression that everything is hunky-dory in India. Few weeks in India, with its terrible infrastructure problems, sky-rocketing food prices, and housing market that has hit the stratosphere will only demonstrate that life in India has become really miserable and the lives of the common-man or the aam adami lies shattered. Bollywood stars, supermodels, and Cricket players rake it in, while the rest transfer their wealth to them so that they can view the shameless and grotesque displays of wealth.

Outsourcing and Globalization-Tom Friedman

Here is Tom Friedman’s (New York Times and the author of World is Flat) take on the global outsourcing to India and its impact on globalization and Indian economic development. Take a look at the video:

Monetary Incentives to Increase School Attendance

With dwindling attendance, schools have been trying different tricks to keep children in school. In India and in many parts of the developing world, the classic draw used to be free lunches. In the southern state of Tamilnadu, the state government came up with an innovative scheme of providing one free egg per school day to every child enrolled in government schools or other government supported schools. The purpose of this innovative program was to not only address issues of hunger and malnourishment, but also increase attendance in schools (there has been other unintended consequences, such as the impact on the supply and demand aspects of eggs and poultry). Certain incentives such as free food, which includes access to special foods such as eggs or meat, free school uniforms and books or transportation to and from school, and separate restrooms for girls and boys have said to increase attendance significantly especially in rural areas and in other impoverished areas in the developing world.

Recently, another incentive based system has been introduced to induce children to attend school–money. Yes, money, how about that. The old moolah or dollar works pretty good apparently. Some schools in India have started handing 1 rupee a day (approximately 40 Indian Rupees = 1 USD) to children for regularly attending classes. Increase in attendance means more money. If there are 200 days in a school year, a kid can make 200 Indian rupees (roughly 5 dollars), which they remit as tuition fees or use the money to other school supplies. In the Indian case, kids are paid in cash, in the US, money collects in a savings account that students can use as a form of voucher to pay for various educational services.

Although this program is lauded in certain circles, it has encountered criticism from opponents who believe that pure monetary motivation should not guide student interest in attending school. Besides, students might attend class just to make a buck and not really get involved in their studies (the age-old problem of physically present, but mentally absent). In addition, schools could face the problem of sick children showing up in school, which can generate a public health situation. Either way, this phenomenon seems to be catching-on in different parts of the world, variations of monetary incentives to achieve academic advancement. Some argue that it is very similar to getting a scholarship to go to school. After all, colleges in the US use scholarships as a tool to recruit students to various sports programs. So, why not use money to encourage participation? Your thoughts?

Reflections on Karl Marx and Capitalism

Here is a series of interesting posts on the relevance of Karl Marx by noted economist and UC Berkeley Prof. Brad Delong and very interesting comments his posts on Marx have elicited. Students in my campus are equally attracted to Marxian thought. We even have the main square on the campus named Red Square.  Although students are less and less taken in by the complexity of Marxian thought.  They revert to reflexive criticism of modern capitalism, particularly globalization and corporate capitalism.  More than anything else I am extraordinarily tired of students believing that somehow “centralized state socialism” has provided all the answers and that Cuba has a great health-care system.  Why don’t they fly to Cuba to get their major medical ailments fixed?  Why head to Mass General?  I will answer this another day.But, for now let us turn to Karl Marx. Now, I am not going to say anything about Karl Marx himself, but turn you to the post by Prof. Brad Delong.