This paper estimates the proportion of grain diverted from the public distribution system to the open market in the past decade by matching official offtake figures with household purchase reported by the National Sample Survey. At the all-India level, diversion of pds grain remains a serious issue; however there are interesting contrasts at the state level. Based on trends in monthly per capita purchase of pds grain and estimated diversion, states are categorised into three groups – “functioning”, “reviving” and “languishing” states. The paper also discusses the possible reasons for the improvement in the pds in the reviving states and questions the assessment of the pds as uniformly and irreversibly dysfunctional.
(h/t Vijay: “Figure 3 is the best estimate of diversion; there are some mistakes in this document, especially re: chattisgarh and the Karnataka ranking is wrong. I wrote and commented on the article but she gave some generic answer. However, her description of diversion is not completely satisfactory.”)
Updated with a postscript on Arab Spring added at the bottom:
Some people are under the impression that democracy and Islam are incompatible. But I don’t see any contradiction between democracy and Islam. Though I admit, there is some friction between Islam and liberalism. When we say that there is a contradiction between Islam and democracy, we make a category mistake which is a very serious logical fallacy. We must be precise about the definitions of the terms that we employ.
Democracy is simply a representative political system that ensures representation, accountability, the right of the electorate to vote governments in and vote governments out. In this sense when we use the term democracy we mean a multi-party representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties, to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus democracy is nothing more than a multi-party political system.
But some of us romantics get carried away in their boundless enthusiasm and ascribe meanings to the words that are quite subjective and fallacious. Some will hyphenate it with liberalism and call it a liberal-democracy while others will call it an informed or enlightened democracy. In my opinion the only correct conjunction to democracy is a representative-democracy. There is a big difference between democracy and liberalism. Democracy falls under the category of politics while liberalism falls in the category of culture. And we don’t want to mix politics and culture together because it will give us a toxic blend which is an anathema to some of our core sensibilities: religion is roughly a sub-category of culture and it will be a violation of the tenets of secularism to involve religion/culture in the political matters. Politics must strictly be about allocation of resources, i.e. economics and any mention to culture, religion or value-system must offend our liberal sensibilities and secular aesthetics.
We expect from the individuals and the business enterprises to act in their self-interest. But then why do we expect from the government to work in the larger public interest; from the legislature to make laws and devise policy for the benefit of an entire nation; and from the judiciary, bureaucracy and the law enforcement to enforce law and justice throughout the country? Will it be morally right if they take advantage of their position and promote their own self-interest at the cost of larger public interest? No, because the government, legislature, judiciary and bureaucracy are governmental or public establishments which are more akin to social enterprise rather than a commercial enterprise; whose job is to work in the larger public interest rather than the narrow self-interest.
But where does the corporate media stands in this equation? Is it alright for the journalists and the opinion-makers to work in their individual and commercial interests rather than the public interest? The media is an informal fourth pillar of the state; and in a public relations and marketing-based democratic system, it wields far more influence than all the other pillars combined together. But it is organized as a commercial enterprise rather than a social enterprise.
The journalists write the stories which they send to the editors for publishing; the editors make the editorial policy and they are answerable to the board of directors of the media corporation; and the directors are in turn answerable to the owners or the share-holders of the media corporation. These owners and the share-holders are the very same business interests who control the Western plutocratic governments through their lobbyists and advocacy groups. They have vested interests in all kinds of trades, all over the world. How can we expect from them to do the objective reporting and show us the real picture if it goes against their commercial interests?
There are some good caveats about Samantha Power in the next paragraph but, as with all things where I disagree with the mainstream of normative preference, the central point is that you can’t begin to fix the real problem if you perceive another in its place:
As a general rule, sad to say, the good guys and the smart guys often play on different teams. For too many foreign policy humanitarians, it is more important to have good intentions than to understand the crooked and wicked ways of the world you want to change. This instinct for the ideal over the real was a hallmark of humanitarian policy failures all during the 20th century and on the evidence to date the deadly mixture of political amateurism with ambitious humanitarian international agendas has persisted into the 21st. America’s university campuses are packed with people who believe that the flaws in our foreign policy are failures of morality rather than failures of forethought and execution, but morality unhinged from wisdom is one of the most destructive forces known to man.
A while back on the FaceTubes, I posted a bit of Robert Kurzban’s humor, and Razib quickly directed me to the butt of the joke: a theory promoted by three anthropologists who believe that classic psychological tests of perception and moral reasoning were inappropriate to accurately gauge the perceptions and moral reasoning (let alone function!) of people in non-Western societies (WesternEducatedIndustrializedRichandDemocratic.) Ethan Watters, in PSMag, tells the tale of Joe Henrich, who developed this theory while studying the Machiguenga of Peru–noting that their choices in the Ultimatum Game differed sharply from typical Western results.
I do recommend reading the whole thing if you’ve not heard of WEIRD. The political aspect of this theory is that the ‘logical’ endpoint of its strategic trajectory is in an academy where theories about human behavior not only become increasingly fine-grained but also seek to elide those newly discovered differences between groups to ignore the fact that they are simply pieces of a larger puzzle and must be put together to make sense of the world. Regarding our South Asian beat, the deconstructionists of damned dirty determinists find:
We are just at the beginning of learning how these fine-grained cultural differences affect our thinking. Recent research has shown that people in “tight” cultures, those with strong norms and low tolerance for deviant behavior (think India, Malaysia, and Pakistan), develop higher impulse control and more self-monitoring abilities than those from other places. Men raised in the honor culture of the American South have been shown to experience much larger surges of testosterone after insults than do Northerners.
What norms do these people observe? What do they regard as deviant behavior? Exactly which impulses are being controlled and how much of that is absence of opportunity? I can say with confidence that growing up in a W.E.I.R.D society hasn’t robbed me of the ability to understand people outside the Western sphere but it has sharpened my focus on moral function, human suffering and the abject failure of some societies to promote the former and mitigate the latter.
The following quote is from Binayavanga Wainaina’s excellent sarcastic satire of international development (and the little hegemons of Sahar’s delightful supper club storieswho aspire to shape the future of the third world.). What I notice only now is that its 2007 publication preceded that of Sex At Dawn by nearly three years.
“We have learned from people and bonobos living in harmony in forests and deserts what your fate is and we will help you fulfil it. By the time we are done you will all be having non-sexist multiple orgasms, you will be pacifists (we make and market organic pacifiers), you will dance and make merry with stone-milled, recycled mango wines that contain herbs to make you experience sudden and overwhelming universal love.”
I’m skeptical of most academic sociology, so I don’t follow Sudhir Venkatesh too closely. But it seems that some people are peeved, Columbia’s Gang Scholar Lives on the Edge:
Today, he is a celebrity in an otherwise low-key academic field — a star on campus, an influential public intellectual, a sought-after speaker. The hardcover of his best-selling book, “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets,” released in 2008, features a full-length photo of him looking tough in jeans and a leather jacket, its collar turned up.
Through his research on gang life and prostitutes, he has succeeded against long odds in making sociology seem hip. And by writing in magazines, being featured in the book “Freakonomics,” and even appearing on late-night television, he has succeeded in bringing that research out of the academy and into the public realm.
But fame has brought controversy. Some of his peers say that in search of a broader readership he takes liberties not appropriate for a scholar: sensationalizing his experiences, exaggerating the reliability of his memory and, in one case, physically assaulting someone. Others who might not have attracted mainstream attention say he steps too eagerly into the spotlight.