Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Donkey Vs Elephant

That voting behaviour in India has nothing to do with policies is known to everyone. Voting is just another form of political signaling. My colleague Nakul is doing some interesting work on Voter behaviour in India, and is looking at the special case of Tamil Nadu which has had only two major parties and leaders the last 3 decades or so. However, irrespective of who is in power and what their election manifesto is, business is as usual in the state. Meanwhile, what gets politicians votes in India is what mode of transport they use to arrive at the court complex to file their nominations. Here is one politician on a donkey. Here's another on an Elephant. What can I say? India is a pretty vibrant country!! :D

Monday, April 20, 2009

Most Powerful in India

Business week published a list of India's most powerful 50 people. I did a quick count and about 28% of them are Politicians or Bureaucrats. The rest are Entrepreneurs, businessmen and individuals. It heartens me to see several entrepreneurs in the list!! Here is the link. 
Hattip Amit Varma

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grad school colleagues

I am proud to be part of the GMU tradition of grad students. Several of my batch mates and colleagues have defended their dissertation recently and their record is truly amazing. Several of them have completed their Ph.D. in four years, and none later than five years. Not only have they successfully defended, they publish in peer-reviewed journals and they also have great jobs. All these students are sympathetic to Austrian Economics. That is why I think the labeling does not matter. What matters is whether you do good economics consistently. Here they are in some chronological order. I have listed only those that I have known personally. Several more defended who I do not know personally, so I have not listed them.

Pedro Romero
Jenny Dirmeyer
Michael Thomas (defending soon)
Jeremy Horpedahl (defending soon)

Congratulations guys!! I am proud of you and very happy for you. 

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Slums of India

Thanks to the Oscar winning movie, the slums of India have become a much discussed topic in socials these days. In big cities like Bombay, slums, though illegal encroachments have water supply, electricity and other public goods. The reason for this is that slum-dwellers are a big vote bank, and no power-seeking politician can hope to win an election by over-looking this group. The economists' solution may be simple!! Evict them, or the government should sell the land to the highest bidder. Well!! Neither is an easy solution, and both will lead to much violence. What if they just gave the slum-dwellers titles to the encroached land? That solution is rife with problems as well. It creates perverse incentives for more slums to emerge. Most slum-dwellers, unlike popular opinion, are hard-working people. They just do not have enough resources to pay exorbitant rents in these cities. The problem thus logically goes to city laws that are unable to protect lessor and lessee.  Thus, lessor's ask for a security deposit equivalent to ten months rent, which is not a small sum for low income individuals.  So, to stop slums from developing and growing, cities just need to change their laws. Any other solutions?