Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Mohandas and his good intentions

Mohandas Pai recently resigned from Infosys, and seems to be a victim of nepotism. In this interview post his resignation he talks about his interests in education. 

I agree with him, education is in crisis like many things in our country. Talking about challenges of education sector he says "Today, the space lacks autonomy, quality, faculty, good ideas and financial muscle."
Unfortunately his proposal is erroneous "I believe we can ask ten eminent people/ institutions in the country to invest Rs 1,000 crore each to start 10 institutions of higher learning with the mandate that they emerge as world-class institutions within 25 or 50 years. People like the Ambanis, Birlas, Mahindras, Tatas, Premjis, Shiv Nadars, Murthys, TVS and a conglomeration of PSUs like ONGC, IOC, etc. could be enthused about it."

This enthusing of the Tata's, Birlas, Ambanis to invest thousands of Crores could mean a huge land grabbing scheme. In the name of quality education system these people would want to create hundreds of acres of campuses and they will ask the government to acquire land at preferential rates. The state as usual will engage in predatory land grabbing, abuse of property rights and the farmer will be rendered landless and looses everything to the state and its cronies.   
BTW, Infosys his previous employer has a track record of grabbing land. Today it is a real-estate and an IT company. This news item is dated  but will give you some details http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/jul/25infy.htm
Again, a well intentioned but misguided approach to solving problems.

Today the entry barriers to start a school is very high requiring massive funds for infrastructure i.e. space, buildings  bribers for various licenses and permissions. This means that the the opportunity is only for the "big players" with big bucks and political influence and forcing the small players who are genuinely interested in education out of the scene.

Education cannot be that expensive an affair after all what is required to teach students especially the junior & middle schools are bunch of books, minimal teaching aids and good teachers. This can be done out of small facility.
India has a rich tradition of learning which was mostly "informal" never ran like an "industry" it was a system where the only stake holders where the Guru and the parents along with the student. This meant the schools remained very small with great attention to each student had full autonomy on what & how they taught. The result of this system was a thinking person with useful skills. 

Similarly may other useful skills such as carpentry, house construction etc., were also taught in an informal way without text books and focus was learning rather than a culture of passing examinations and getting certificates.
I’m not advocating a system of gurukul rather making a point for freeing the education so that the teachers and parents along with students can decide what is best for them.

Today that is not the case it is an "Industry", the schools in the city resemble office towers with Air conditioners, unnecessary and expensive teaching aids, useless curriculum (computer lab for Grade 1 students)  etc.,. 

The stakeholders have also changed, the government was the first to step in to issue licenses, to define standard curricula, to enforce compliance to varied number of silly rules (easily violated by paying bribes), to conduct exams, to grade etc.,, we also have  banks involved in
providing student loans, urban planners, industry "players" providing teach aids, teacher training schools etc., etc., 

This all means teachers and the parents have very little say and the quality suffers and the costs rise. 
We Indians have come to understand education & learning to be same as passing examinations. This change has its roots with the British meddling with our system of course they wanted to create more number of "administrators" so that they can rule the empire. It was the begnning of standardized curriculum, and educational bureaucracy in the form of various ministries/departments of education, national text book authority, a system of grading & examinations etc., 
Post independence we have continued to expand this system set-up by the British, we have huge  educational bureaucracy both at central and state level.

I pity today’s  students that they have to take so many examinations.

The output of such a system means poor quality and unemployable graduates, and business have to further invest to re-equip these students.

The solution to improve India's education is to dismantle the bureaucracy abolish the
ministries and departments let the schools and colleges be free. We don’t want government as partner they have nothing to offer nor do they have any business meddling in affairs between us, our kids and the teachers & schools.

We need separation of the Separation of School & State!
This article here makes a good argument, even though it is for an American reader it applies to us Indians  http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger86.html
And check out http://www.schoolandstate.org

Monday, 25 April 2011

I cannot disagree

Kiran Karnik said "The areas in which the country has done well are the areas where the government doesn't have its hand, which is information technology and beauty. We have had a whole string of Miss World contestants. We are known for our spirituality, because we don't have a ministry of religion"

Regulate Marriages ----------- What a lunacy of an Idea!!!

The other day I read this in Times of India.
Have been independently canvassing for checking wastages had a session with food and consumer affairs minister K V Thomas and his officials on Monday. On the menu at the meeting were proposals to restrict the number of dishes served at weddings. There were suggestions to draw lessons from Pakistan, where it appears there are restrictions on serving more than one dish at marriages and similar social gatherings. There was another suggestion: weddings should not be as event-filled as some have become. If the food and consumer affairs ministry were to accept the recommendations, mehndis, sangeet, cocktail parties and receptions could be crunched into one. A third suggestion at Monday's meeting was to limit the number of guests attending a wedding reception to 200.

Where do these people get their ideas from?

I think, I have heard all the stupid ideas to "regulate human behavior" to make people virtuous. This one is definitely on top of the list.

It is the same old mentality to make new rules (as if we do not have enough), create a new bureaucracy and use the threat of force and punishment.

This will not work; more bribes will be paid out and hence more ugly marriages.

How about the great Indian ideal of tolerance, if we do not like someone’s behavior …..….. stop attending these weddings.....set an example with simpler weddings....... rather than engage in the business of law making.

We should reflect on what Murry Rothbard said “It is not the business of the law to make anyone good or reverent or moral or clean or upright”

Monday, 18 April 2011

Right diagnosis but wrong prescriptions

I'm big believer in decentralization. It always works; decentralizing up to the individual level is the only true & effective decentralization. Let the individual decide what is best for him or her.
In this Times of India piece Anna is asking the right questions and advocating decentralization. He asks
"Why should all the power be concentrated with a few in Delhi This leads to leaders and bureaucrats calling the shots"
It seems that he wants to pass more laws, administer more oaths, have more policemen and prosecutors and achieve decentralization……. meaning…… less freedom for people. This will not work and in fact will lead to more authoritarian rule.
With years of state schooling and brainwashing there seems to be no place for alternative thinking, leading to different methods of solving problems. All the news papers and public opinion is filled with statist ways of dealing with problems.  It is sad to see all proposed solutions require the state to use force. Freedom and responsibility is never proposed.
It is the same thinking........ People are not capable of making their own decisions so we need government to be involved in all aspects of our lives……....to rule over us…. to protect us by telling us what to do……. this combination of burecrats and politicians….. carefully selecting the products we should be buying…… they can give out permits only to select good business men so that we are protected from the evil business men who are looking at every opportunity to cheat us…….. to give out licenses only to select companies and use that license money for the greater good of the society. This is rubbish and in fact we Indians have to come to believe that big government to be indispensible, we cannot comprehend a society full of free individuals.
This kind of thinking leads to tyrannical rule and corruption is a characteristic of a tyrannical government. Even though the likes of Anna have the best interests in mind they do not understand human nature and constantly fight it leading to all sorts of un-intended consequences. 
These bureaucrats and politicians are no saints and as David Boaz said "Bureaucrats and politicians are just as self-interested as the rest of us". They have their interests in mind rather than ordinary people in mind when the make decisions. They make decisions that suit them, their near and dear.
The problem is that they have the power to make decisions on our behalf and thru real decentralization --- meaning cutting the scope and size of government we can take away that power.
The best way to decentralize is to dismantle to bureaucracy, abolish too many of these un-necessary laws and remove powers from the state.
Individual freedom coupled with respect to property rights and sound money is a just society…….. a society that will see very less or no corruption, almost no poverty  but peace and prosperity for all.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The anti corruption vigilantes

I read this appalling news item today

Include private sector under Lokpal Bill: BKC

It is total nonsense and dangerous.

To suggest that we should create an all powerful committee with powers of god and purpose to investigate all vices is not only dangerous but also fool hardy.

I do not know what these people eat or drink bit it is clear that they have lost thier ability to think.

These people are clueless of the causes of corruption, which is caused by increased government control. Their diagnoses of the problem id wrong and the solutions they are coming up are also wrong.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hoppe on Democracy and other things

This is what is the case with all democracies especially Indian democracy...too many people involved in plunder
As a hereditary monopolist, a king regards the territory and the people under his rule as his personal property and engages in the monopolistic exploitation of this "property." Under democracy, monopoly and monopolistic exploitation do not disappear. Rather, what happens is this: instead of a king and a nobility who regard the country as their private property, a temporary and interchangeable caretaker is put in monopolistic charge of the country. The caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his protégés' advantage. He owns its current use — usufruct — but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it makes exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock. Exploitation becomes shortsighted and capital consumption will be systematically promoted.

Read the rest here


I found Bharath Reddy's art yesterday

Nit Khair Manga from the One and Only Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

My daughter loves this song

On Corruption

Anna has already moved on from page 1 to page 8 of Times of India and as the days pass space given to him is also reducing.

The media and the rest of us will soon forget about the drama. The probelm of corruption will continue to get worse. As this Yahoo article says we in India have no shortage of anti-corruption bills and required departments to investigate and prosecute.   http://in.news.yahoo.com/ready-reckoner-to-existing-anti-corruption-laws.html
All of them have rendered  to be ineffective.

The issue is to do with too much government control and we cannot solve the corruption problem with more rules, new committees and harsher punishments. Unfortunately no one in the "Civil Society" is advocating cutting the scope of government.

Anna and his supporters solution to the problem will only make things worst.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Welcome to my blog

I am creating this blog to post my observations and activities. Feel free to comment !