The 'Dream Hoarders' and The Indian Economy

Right now, India is one exciting economic story. Its population is young and its economy is growing. The government, with a strong mandate in Union and State levels, have been introducing a number of structural reforms that the previous governments, over a quarter century, could not do. With legislative reforms, private participation in infrastructure building is becoming easier, and there is hope that India's rickety ports, faltering railways and mostly potholed roads would soon appear in a different, shiny, avatar. In a lot of ways, India is at a moment like China in the early 80s: The structural changes should unlock a steep growth, quick growth of employment and a new cycle of private prosperity.
This would be a reasonable expectation but for India's deficiencies in Education and Health, which may mean that India's demographic potential would never be realised. Structural reforms and infrastructure building can create the opportunities, but without corresponding growt…

The Race Between Technology and Education: Round Two

Indeed, I have borrowed the title from Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz's classic study, because we are living through a time when the race has entered a new phase, showing up in all its splendour with anxious hinges and critical turns. It's time to decide and act, and every step counts. Of course, technology is not autonomous and we are indeed the 'driver in the driverless car', and the choices we make today will decide whether technologies will tear apart our society, as some fear, or, if it would unleash the next cycle of prosperity.
The optimists have empirical evidence, indeed. They cite - and this is what Goldin and Katz were primarily looking at - Industrial Revolution. Despite all the early fears of job losses and social unrest, the technological progress eventually ended up unleashing a new era of prosperity. The prosperity took time to build, and there were many social unrests along the way: Malthus came along to make us think people can be surpluses and war…

The College and The Coffee House: Local or Global?

Should Education become more local, or global? This was a question posed to me in a conversation: As in these cases, I improvised an answer. But, as usual, the obvious answer is not necessarily the right one, and is indeed worth interrogating.
Most education, at the present time, is locally focused. This is because Education, at least mostly, is a part of the State, that funds its existence and direct its agenda. Many educators around the world work for the State, or at least, their wages are subsidised by the State. Even in cases where a global institution sponsors education - Church is the most prominent example - the State controls it tightly, through curriculum and credential. 
The dynamic of work and commerce, however, has been global. The WTO-inspired globalisation touched far corners of the world over the last few decades, as did the crumbling of the cold war politics. English as a language has gained currency, even in China, and the Internet and the Worldwide Web has changed …

The College and The Coffee-House: 1

I wrote earlier about the tension between The College and The Coffee-House - between formal and informal systems of education and knowledge sharing - and I intend to focus my attention on this in my work in 2018.
My thesis is simple: Most learning is experiential, contextual and situational; however, learning as a socially mandated function must have form, be broadly applicable and based around general principles. This tension is indeed central to the idea of knowledge, between the high ground of theory and field of practice, and it is a dialectical relationship. The societies value both, but often more one than the other, depending on economic and political situations of the time. Generally, stable societies privilege 'scribal' classes and formal learning, but breaking of times and paradigm shifts are generally brought about by ideas emerging out of practice; therefore, when times change, Coffee-houses play a crucial role.
In our own time, right now, we have privileged forma…

On The Uses of Compassion

The easy point to miss about the different modern institutions that we live by - markets and democracy - that these take for granted a compassionate society. Take away compassion and democracy looks like a majoritarian oppression, and markets a grinding mill where all human values are destroyed for a self-defeating end. Hannah Arendt may have got Adolf Eichmann wrong and took his defence strategy - that he was a mindless, powerless, small cog in the Holocaust machine - too seriously, but she was accurate in her meta-diagnosis of the Nazi mind, the complete incapability to see anyone else's point of view or to contemplate the consequences of one's own action. The difference between the American Democracy as imagined by the Founders and in the age of trump is the abandonment of compassion, and suddenly that shining example of Republican imagination looks like a belligerent monstrosity intent on tearing itself apart. And, withering of compassion turns Adam Smith's dynamic…

Working Notes on Nazi Ideology and Holocaust

I have spent this holiday season working on my essay on Nazi Ideology and Holocaust. Earlier this year, I spent the first two weeks of the New Year doing another essay, a mistake that I don't want to repeat this year: I would rather start the New Year completely focused on making a new start on the various work projects. So, in essence, I am working through the holidays, which may not sound like fun, but I feel very good about it. 
However, the claim that I am working on the essay is a little overblown, because I have not typed a single word yet. What I am doing now is reading and thinking, and writing the essay in my mind. This is usually my style - I take more time thinking and less time writing - though this is by no means optimal and many a times in the past, I pledged to myself to start writing sooner. And, yet, here I am - doing this again! However, this time, I hope, I am not just procrastinating, but rather developing concrete ideas.
So, what I am trying to do is to write…

Summing Up 2017

When I migrated in 2004, I suddenly became, from being comparatively well-off in a poor country, poor in a rich country. I did not come with a job in hand, and did not have a technical degree of one kind or another. So, I had to start from scratch: From an warehouse to a front-line sales job and thereon. At this point, I developed a theory of existence: That the world is not going to be perfect, but as long as I have done better in the current year than the previous one, I have done well. 
I ended up violating this golden rule of immigrant existence in 2017. As I end the year, I have gone backwards. Ironically, this is a result of one thing I knew an immigrant can not afford - living in hope - and yet I took the eye off the ball. Got carried away, as one would say, as I loved what I was doing, and let other considerations, rather than the maxims of my own rule, take precedence. So, I am back at ground zero, almost.
When I made a comment about going back in time on Facebook, a young c…

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