Saturday, 2 July 2011

National Statistics Day --- what a waste of an event

 I was surprised to know that we in India are supposed to celebrate National Statistics Day according this government advertisement. I do not see any reason to celebrate, rather I want to grieve. There was this half a page ad in the Times of India. I'm sure the govt. would have paid the newspaper hefty sum for the space.

Anyhow, what was shocking to know is that we have a Ministry of Statistics, that is spending a whopping 650 crores of our money. Money the government of India will either borrow or print, we as citizens have to pay for this waste via taxes or indirectly thru inflation.

Even if one assumes that we have the money, then we as country could be better off spending 650 crores on other pressing priorities.

There are many things that is wrong with use of statistics and odd economic indicators. Good reading material that explains this are Statistics: Achilles' Heel of Government by Murray N. Rothbard and The Trouble with Economic Statistics by Robert Higgs.

In the corporate world I come from, there is a general obsession with data. Many a times it supersedes common sense, reason, experience and conviction even though the quality of "data" is suspect and full of biases of the data collector and interpreter, there is a blind faith often leading to wrong decisions. I guess years of state prescribed curricula and factory schooling has contributed to this.

Besdies, the wasteage of money involved in operating a Ministry for Statistics, just for data collection which obviously will be stale and junk, the real issue here is the dangerous policy presrectipons that will come out subjectively interpreting this "data".

Friday, 1 July 2011

Glories of government land grab

I read a puzzling and very troubling news about the High Court asking the Government of Karnataka to provide details regarding the utility of 2,650 acres of land allocated to Bangalore International Airport (BIA).

The story is that that the government wants to acquire even more land i.e 1000 acres for an aerospace park and guess what the project requires just 35 acres and govt. has not even paid compensation for some of the land owners from whom it had grabbed land earlier.

This is another case of government preying on its citizens and once again shows us the importance of property rights as the only way to prevent tyranny.
The court rightfully has asked what is the utility of the land that was grabbed and it has come out strongly against the state. I do not think it will make any difference until "Right to Property" is a fundamental right all existing clauses, sub clauses and other means of acquiring land for development purposes, for public good etc., are revoked.

Below is the full news item and exposes the sinister intents of the government. By the way I did a quick research and comparison between our own BIA and the Heathrow in London one of the busiest airports of the world. As you will notice BIA has way to much land than it requies for its buisiness.

  Heathrow  BIA
Total size of Airport: 1,227 hectares 1,600 hectares
Number of runways 2 1
Aircraft stands 119 42
Number of remote stands 80 19
Number of airlines 89 31
Number of destinations served: 176 in 90 separate countries 50 destinations across India & of the world

HC pulls up government over land acquisition

Express News Service
The New Indian Express
BANGALORE: The High Court on Tuesday said that the submissions made by the State Government over the land acquisition for Aerospace Industrial Area near Devanahalli are unacceptable, vague and evasive and adjourned the further hearing of the case. Justice D V Shylendra Kumar observed that the court had asked the government how the project originated and what was the basis to acquire 1,069 acres of land.
The state government replied that some very important companies,without naming them, had evinced interest to set up their manufacturing units there. The court found the reply evasive.
According to the information submitted by the state government, there was demand for only 35 acres of land and it was not a valid justification to acquire 1,069 acres of land in eight villages, he felt.
Justice Kumar observed, “You have acquired over 1,000 acres of land disturbing the lives of these land owners and drain `370 crore from the State exchequer without any basis. This sort of acquisition is due to arrogance of power. According to the normal procedure, the companies approach the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) and the board submits a proposal for the land acquisition based on the demand for government’s approval.
However, in this case, the State Government has directly told the KIADB to identify the land for acquisition.
This is a gross violation of statutory provisions, even a high level committee cannot violate the laws.” Justice Kumar further asked the State Government why Sections 28(2), 1(3) and 27 were simultaneously invoked to acquire the land under urgency clause though there was no urgency.
Expressing his displeasure over the submissions made by the State Government, Justice Kumar observed, “The annexures submitted by the State Government contain only the Supreme Court’s judgements, correspondence made between the government advocate and the principal secretary and some regulations. Nothing in these documents answers the questions raised by the court.” Mathekar-Un-Nissa has filed a writ petition challenging land acquisition. She contended that the government had acquired 12.5 acres of her land without notice.