99 thoughts on “Open Thread – 04/03/2021 – Brown Pundits

  1. Are Clubhouse conversations recorded somewhere as podcasts perhaps? I installed the app but it says I need someone to invite me in.

    1. Some of them are, a couple of them are up on youtube. Yes, you’ll need to get an invite to get in. I could send you one but would need the phone number.

  2. A Pax Sinica takes shape in the Middle East
    The emerging Sinocentric bloc of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan could leave America’s ally India isolated and weak

    A “Pax Sinica” is emerging in the Middle East and Central Asia in plain sight, albeit unnoticed by American planners. The main brace of the strategic architecture is an emerging alliance between Pakistan, a Chinese economic dependency, and Turkey, which relies increasingly on China for financing and trade.

    Chinese media reported the Turkish foreign minister’s visit to Pakistan January 12 to 13 as a key step towards such an alliance. And if Turkey and Pakistan ally, “Iran has no choice but to find a way to join the Turkish-Pakistan camp,” in the view of a Chinese military site reposted by NetEase.

    I first raised the prospect of a “Pax Sinica” in the Middle East in 2013, and noted last year that a much-discussed (but so far only discussed) Sino-Iranian investment deal of up to $400 billion was “a move on a global game board in response to American efforts to hinder China’s breakout as a technological superpower.”

    The Turkey-Pakistan rapprochement of the past several months adds a new dimension to China’s ambitions in the region.

    While America focused on the peace agreements between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, China maneuvered among the only three Muslim states with significant military capacity and economic potential.

    The Belt and Road Initiative will provide the economic foundation for Chinese hegemony from the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea. The emerging Sinocentric bloc of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan will leave America’s ally India isolated and weak, Chinese planners believe.

    It’s geopolitics played on the principles of Go, whose object is to encircle and isolate the opposing pieces.

    https://pjmedia.com/spengler/2021/04/02/china-plays-the-iran-card-and-calls-washingtons-bluff-n1437010

  3. Biden being more hawkish on Iran basically seals the deal for Iran to jump into the China camp (albeit with reservations). Biden’s hardline stance against MBS by releasing intelligence report against home will also alienate Saudi Arabia and other of its GCC allies, which is now feeling isolated and may end up warming to the Chinese. As the importance of oil declines rapidly, it seems like the Americans have decided to gradually reduce their focus from the Middle East and concentrate on Asia Pacific.. Not sure why American policy makers are leaving the field open for China to collect all these countries in West Asia. Interesting times.

  4. https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1378625033707298816

    “Gujaratis are trying to capture Bengal by bringing goons from UP and Bihar. We will not allow Bengal to become like Gujarat. BJP tries to create communal disturbance: West Bengal CM & TMC chief Mamata Banerjee in Howrah

    India’s progressive oppostion taking on ethno-facist BJP ☝️

    1. I’m starting to think that bhadralok see gujaratis the same way that neo nazis see jews( and UP bihar people as poc who cant think for themselves and only do what the jews tell them)..

      1. The whole election has had this unfortunate effect of making Bengalis ( and mainly Bhadralok) feel that they really matter for the BJP (and India overall). After this election they will become even more insufferable.

        If only they knew the truth….

  5. Too bad we can’t have downvotes, as Narasingha deserves one for invoking Godwin’s Law in record time. As for Mamata Banerjee, she is basically trying to find a way to defuse Hindutva by appealing to localised xenophobia. We’ll see how far that will take her – hopefully it will fail.

    1. The appeal to localized xenophobia is probably helped by the RW’s incessant hateful rhetoric re Bengal and Bengalis.

  6. Would it be possible to get Balaji Srinivasan on podcast ?

    He was early on Covid, Crypto and has some interesting ideas with regards to the future of USA, China and India.

    He has been on a publicity binge to promote 1729 project so should be accessible.

  7. Rafale: Dassault paid one million euros to Indian middleman, says French report
    The report by Mediapart contradicts assertions by both the Indian and French governments in the past that no middlemen were involved

    The Rafale deal involved the payment of 1 million euros to an Indian middleman by the fighter aircraft maker Dassault, a French media report said on Sunday.

    The report contradicts assertions by both the Indian and French governments in the past that no middlemen were involved in the inter-government agreement.

    It also breathes fresh life into a scandal that has survived a refusal by the Supreme Court of India to order a probe, vehement denials and an attempt by the Narendra Modi government to construe the mandate of the 2019 general election as a clean chit, and silence by large sections of the media.

    The report by Mediapart, which describes itself as an independent French online investigative journal, noted that the deal had “threatened to tarnish” both governments.

    “In India, it implicated someone very close to the ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had announced the deal in April 2015. The affair potentially threatens two Presidents of France: François Hollande and his successor Emmanuel Macron. Also potentially in the firing line is Jean-Yves Le Drian, who as defence minister effectively became Hollande’s roving Rafale salesman before being named foreign minister under Macron,” according to the report.

    https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/scandal-that-refuses-to-die-rafale-hidden-commission/cid/1811694

    1. If Pakistan puts its mind to it, it can excel India economically. I doubt if it can put its mind to it, though.

      1. @Prats

        This is not true although you can claim that the probability of nothing in this world is zero.

        Pakistan is always the frontier zone for empires and never a independent prosperous region in its own right. It was the eastern extreme of the Achaemenid empire, then part of the Greek Satrapies. Then it switched to become the western extreme of the Mauryans and Gupta’s empires. Then it becomes the eastern extreme of the Caliphates followed by Persian/Central Asian/Turkic influences. Then back to western edges of Mughal and British empires. An outlier was the Sikh empire. And the current existence is also one such outlier. It is always sitting on the doorstep of ownership changes. The pendulum of history might be a little slow, but it will swing again.

      2. “If Pakistan puts its mind to it, it can excel India economically.”

        Well that can be said about India. Or to put it in every middle class Uncle favorite watsapp theory, “What India needs is a dictator” 😛

      3. @Prats
        Pakistanis seem capable enough of flourishing materially. Much like NW indians, pragmatic and industrious. But I’m short on them because they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot with high birth rates and low investment in female education. India won’t leave them in the dust on a per-capita level as some may fantasize, but will maintain a modest nominal margin. If someone can pull up the data, it would be interesting to compare median per capita income and household wealth in India vs Pakistan. I’ve heard that they are still comprable and Pakistan may be higher still.

        1. Not sure about Income / wealth.
          But India’s least developed large state (Bihar) has higher HDI than the most developed large province in Pakistan (Punjab).

          This really boggles my mind. Because subconsciously I expect Bihar to be the worst on human development in South Asia. ( and this was correct in 2005 bit not anymore)

          If you want to compare apples to apples Indian Punjab is way more developed than Pakistani Punjab on HDI measures.

          Source:
          https://globaldatalab.org/shdi/shdi/IND+PAK/?levels=1%2B4&interpolation=0&extrapolation=0&nearest_real=0&years=2018%2B2015%2B2010%2B2005

          1. @Sumit
            “India’s least developed large state (Bihar) has higher HDI than the most developed large province in Pakistan (Punjab).”

            I think this is because education is a parameter in hdi and lack of female education would be dragging pak punjab down

          2. @Narsinga Deva

            So Bihar has better female education than Pak Punjab ?

            Thats still either a really poor reflection on Pakistani Punjab or a positive reflection on Bihar.

            I imagine the ‘education’ here is more or less about things like basic literacy not advanced degrees.

            And then Pakistani Sindh does worse and NW Pakistan even worse. So overall Pakistan is in poor shape.

            This doesn’t mean it can’t pull ahead, in the future.

            The development trajectory of Bangladesh in recent years is a good example of a South Asian success story.

        1. The Sindhi Hindus were the enterprising ones and they left for India. Pakistani Sindhis are generally not enterprising at all, they are split between feudal and peasant, with a very thin business and educated class. In fact it seems that specific feudal Sindhis are actively inhibiting enterprise in Sindh by holding back development of Sindh, especially Karachi.

          Anyway, I think this caste angle is overplayed.. perhaps it mattered 50 years ago as Memons dominated Pakistani industry and finance, but these days its free for all for everyone that has the ability. I think in the long term its better that we don’t have specific ethnic groups monopolizing the industry.

        2. Dont know about specifics, but i think its true for both Punjabi and Sindhi Hindus, who were the enterprising castes. That is somewhat true in today;s India as well.

          During Partition, in Punjab (unlike Sindh) there were no readymade enterprising castes who migrated like Mohajirs, and mostly Punjabi muslims from other side of the border came in. This allowed second generation entrepreneurs like Sharrif family to grow. In Sindh i feel , the mohajirs stymied the growth of an organic Sindhi entrepreneur castes since they couldn’t compete with folks who had such high head start.

          I agree today its less important to which caste one belongs to , than it was 50 years ago. But i would still say caste networks matter. In India some of the new age entrepreneurs from the gig economy and all are still people from the same older entrepreneur castes. And most of the neo business castes in India have just mimicked the caste networks of the older rich to get ahead.

        3. @Saurav
          That they lack hyper-entrepreneurial castes is the point. The middle castes thrive as they are able to participate further up the value chain. A close friend is a punjabi arain with connections to sindh. The integration they have between agriculture and export trade is impressive. I know the mango export sector in MH (konkan) quite well which is considered a case study in excellence here, and it seems quite a bit behind the horticulture scene in sindh.
          Also looking at many of the same communities that exist in both countries, like the arain of punjab and the rayeen of haryana/up, the former seem so much more prosperous. This is why median income data is important to consider. If we discount india’s top 1000 families, does the GDP story look different?

          1. “If we discount india’s top 1000 families, does the GDP story look different?”

            The income share of the top 10% are quite similar in both countries.
            https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.DST.10TH.10?locations=IN-PK

            ” ask people who’ve been to both lahore and delhi which one has a higher standard of living, and the results will be split but lean towards the former.”

            The data tell a very different story.
            https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Pakistan&city1=Lahore&country2=India&city2=Delhi&displayCurrency=USD

            Note that despite salaries in Delhi being more than twice that in Lahore, the cost of certain basics like rice, wheat, milk, electricity, mobile and internet are substantially lower in Delhi than Lahore. This means that the poor in Delhi can earn more, spend less and save more for remittances or children’s education. Not to mention that Delhi’s free public schools possibly have the best infrastructure in the entire developing world. On the other hand, gas at the pump is significantly more expensive in Delhi, implying the rich are progressively taxed.

          2. Vikram, my take as someone who’s been to both cities, is that we shouldn’t discount what our eyes see. The cost of living data doesn’t tell you about the cost of dignity, to live in a clean, respectable environment, and this is what most people see. That you insist on only seeing this through a balance sheet could be emblematic of a problem i see in both india and the us. Nominal values matter the most when we are talking about a nation-states ability to project power and influence, and this isn’t what was being discussed. The first thing I saw when I arrived in lahore at the train station was an upper- class man and his driver hug each other. The difference in dignity in the driver class between the cities is reasonably vast and if we don’t reckon with it then our outlook is at least as perverse as what we accuse islamo-narcissists of having.

          3. This is a good discussion, and I agree that one shouldn’t discount what the eye sees to someone who’s been to both India and Pak – which is probably a very small sample set given the state of Indo-Pak relations. The pictures and videos that I’ve seen of Lahore (I know Islamabad is a planned city) does show it to be a bit cleaner and more orderly than say Delhi. But on the flipside I am also aware that Karachi, which is Pak’s economic hub like Mumbai suffers from orders of magnitude more organised crime and killing. Maybe this is reflective of a regional divide in how cities are treated in Pak, with Punjab being more favoured, etc.

            What is more interesting to me is what seems to be the absence of a meritocratic middle class in Pak. Purely anecdotal – pretty much all of the Pak students that I saw at my Uni in Europe, or colleagues in the UK who aren’t second gen are from one of these two backgrounds – father who made it to high up in the military from humble beginnings, or parents rich doctors/lawyers/business owners who sent their kids to boarding school abroad. The pictures I’ve seen of their homes (what we’d call bungalows in India) with gates, guards and multiple servants, and the lavish weddings with qawwali singers that feature on coke studio make me think that this class is (obviously) a very small minority in Pak – most likely smaller than what can be called the middle class in India that does well enough to send their children abroad but lives much less lavishly but is also of course a small minority as well.

            Most Indians who go abroad are those from solidly middle class background, who work for a few years in an MNC to save up. And many who study abroad do return, given the burgeoning tech scene back home. In Pak it seems the army is the most obvious choice for upward mobility, and I haven’t come across any Pak student who did actually go back. Again, part of this this could also be down to the fact that Pak allows dual nationality while India doesn’t.

            Circling back, if one does argue that India has a more unequal social starting point with caste and all that, I’d argue based on anecdotal observations that modern India does seem to offer more avenues for advancement to the lower classes than modern Pak thanks to the economic priorities of the two countries.

          4. Siddharth, indeed, india is the better place to be for white collar workers. My sense is that pakistan had notably higher median household wealth for quite a few decades and now india has caught up. There is an intra-india effect as well where the surging economies south of the vindhyas must still catch up to the NW in terms of household wealth. And kerala still has much higher family wealth than karnataka, for example (despite criticisms of its policies). Momentum is always shifting and there are aspects of the economy like construction, shipping, refineries, and insurance ect that pakistan conducts in a way that can’t be considered primitive vs india. In fact they might be doing a more clever thing by working more closely with global consultants and contractors.
            Its surprising pakistan even industrialized to the extent that it has, if a lack of mercantile castes is so crucial. That’s my main contention. India’s doing some fine things and is having a moment where its being recognized for its competence. I don’t think this credit goes to the mercatile castes proper. The indian mercantile mentality rent-seeking and a race to the bottom. India has more examples of excellence that work outside this paradigm.

          5. Dont know abt top 1000 family, but if u take out the baniyas from India , India would actually have per capita income of some african countries.

          6. @Siddharth
            The Pakistani origin undergrad students (not local UK) in UK universities are almost entirely from the upper classes of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.. If you wanna meet Pakistani students hailing from middle or lower middle class backgrounds in Europe, those go to places like Germany or Sweden where tuition is free and only cost of living has to be covered.

            Usually the students that want to settle abroad usually belong to the middle classes.. and they don’t end up going to Europe, they go to USA or Canada..

        4. The middle castes in India thrived mostly due to economics of land and business which rise from it. After Mandal , India;s middle castes found power and they started dominating political power and with it all the industry related to land. That’s true of Pakistan as well, If u want to check community why Arians and why not the biggest community Jats? Jats have been controlling levers of power regarding land in two and half states (PB, Haryana and West UP). And they are succesfull in both Pakistan and India.

          But as i said there is only so much u can do if you are just a country of Land-castes. To really grow you need real entepeanurship and trade, which only mercantile caste bring to the table.

          1. Do you think mercantile castes are really entrepreneurial and innovative? Everything that I have seen points to the direction that while they are good at money lending and managing business affairs and generally being fiscally conservative, they are not good at innovating or taking big risks investing in R&D which is important to sustain prosperity for the masses. This type of culture may work for developing countries but sooner or later innovation is required and fiscal conservatism just becomes a roadblock at that point.

          2. “while they are good at money lending and managing business affairs and generally being fiscally conservative, they are not good at innovating or taking big risks investing in R&D which is important to sustain prosperity for the masses.”

            Well you are asking for first world stuff in third world countries. If not managed properly, both India and Pakistan can fall even further down the development level. Just one year of Pandemic bridged the difference b/w India and Bangladesh in many parameters. Our countries growth are very fragile.

            So in medium term mercantile castes provide the base and aveneus to move to a higher degree of development. Like the guilded age of US, lot of dirty money and obnoxoius business practices , but necssary evil. Pull up the names of India’s big Tech startups , 90 percent of them are still from the same mercantile castes.

          3. India, for all its over-achieving castes, doesn’t have enough of a margin of development over its neighbours to indicate that it has an advantageous social structure. Maybe someone will say “wait another 10-20 years and see how we earn dividends on all the FDI and innovative startups”. perhaps, but it stands that nothing has been proven now. The smell test matters, ask people who’ve been to both lahore and delhi which one has a higher standard of living, and the results will be split but lean towards the former. Where india excels is that our peak concentrations of wealth in our biggest cities are higher, but you’d have to know the land prices to even perceive it inasmuch as its not impressive in and of itself. Pakistan also has a near absence of the luxury hotel chains that are all over india, SL, and nepal. The hallmark of developed country if anything is that producer communities create higher value goods, not brokers and merchants taking over industries.

          4. “Pull up the names of India’s big Tech startups , 90 percent of them are still from the same mercantile castes.”

            This was more true 5 years ago than today and I think it will be less true 5 years from now than it is today. I have a theory on why.

            Most tech funding does not depend on caste networks but on college networks. Banias dominated the JEE for a good few years in the 2000s due to the Kota effect. That cohort of people came off age then. The other factor is that other upper caste IITians were more likely to pursue options like higher studies or the civil services exam. This was because entrepreneurship was not considered safe. Even a lot of bania folks didn’t startup.

            That perception has changed now. Things like YC have made starting a business a very deterministic process. So others are now joining in on the game. Almost every fourth guy from IIT that I know started a company at some point and I think it’ll like a third 10 years from now. Younger batches have an even higher share.

            That said, folks like Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Naveen Tewari or Sridhar Vembu are not from trader castes. I even have Bengali friends who are running some pretty successful startups.

            You could say that exposure to dhandha from childhood perhaps gives bania tech folks better business instincts increasing their chances of success. I still don’t think it’ll lead to the kind of disproportional share that they had earlier.

            And as the post-liberalization generation starts to have kids, this instinct will also be shared by more folks. At some point, you’ll also start to see more and more of Meena or Yadav founders.

          5. “And as the post-liberalization generation starts to have kids, this instinct will also be shared by more folks. At some point, you’ll also start to see more and more of Meena or Yadav founders.”

            For all we know there might be Yadavs and Meena founders who are actually there, and are not making the cut.

            Though i agree that at least on the gig economy level which is a more level playing field u would see perhaps the most dramatic decrease in banias. But what India needs is not more services but manufacturing ,aka the hard stuff. And that will be done by the likes of Ambani and Adanis than BYJUs and PayTM.

          6. For manufacturing related stuff, see Zetwerk or any of the budding battery startups like Grinntech.

            Interesting times ahead.

            Hope some of them turn into a desi Foxconn.

      4. I think Pakistani elites are in general not as competitive as Indian ones. I wonder if this is because there is a genuine challenge to the hegemony of the traditional upper castes in India from the upsurging castes like Jats, Marathas and Yadavs and Dalits. Indian elites feel insecure, Pakistani elites do not, yet.

        1. @Vikram

          Caste is social capital – as more Indians are emerging from the shadows of a colonial period and eurocentric philosophies, the notion that ‘caste is backward’ is being challenged at an economic framework level.

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/caste-as-social-capital/article22995911.ece/amp/

          This helped me form my own newer insights that it might have been the Vaishyas who operationalised Varna/Jati and not the Brahmins.

      5. @Prats
        Please understand that Pakistan has low mineral wealth than many other nations. Majority of Pakistan comes under Indus plains which are fertile and agriculture may flourish in the Punjab region. Rest of Pakistan has mountains, deserts and earthquake prone region. The Balochistan Plateau has some mineral wealth like copper, few deposits of Aluminium and very few deposits of Iron. Industrial complex cannot be sustained by so low mineral wealth. Pakistan can have at best agricultural based Industrial growth but NOT mineral based industrial growth.

        1. @Shashank
          Mineral wealth can lead to resource curse, especially in countries like pak. Plenty of nations have developed without mining their own stuff and instead importing raw materials (Japan)

          1. @Narasingha Deva
            Partially right. Japan had gone Industrialization twice. Once before WW2 and once after. The first Industrialization of Japan started in late 1880s when they actually mined their own resources and developed. Post WW2 development happened the way you described as networking economy. Resource curse is primarily due to policy paralysis. Its a human induced phenomena. Natural mineral resources are the only way to improve incomes keeping human related factors out.

      6. To be very honest, I only wrote this semi-seriously. I was partly looking to troll and partly looking to elicit some new insights. That said, I do think there are certain arguments that can be made to support this idea. Listing them out in no particular order as such:

        1. Less complex and more equal society:
        This is somewhat similar to girmit’s point.
        They have one level less of social complexity since caste is not as strong as India.
        This makes it easier for them to execute the standard template of improving human capital and labour intensive industrialization.
        (Basically their society has less variance )
        This is not to say that India cannot do this but that’ll require dealing with the caste issue. Or we could follow our own unique path to growth for which no templates exist.

        Punjabis also generally seem to be industrious and folksy people even if they have feudalism.
        (At least that is my impression of Indian Punjabis).
        They don’t seem to have the stark bhadralok and chotolok distinction that most other Indian ethnicities have. So this should aid in the typical industrial path where you’d need a large mass of people to work factory jobs.

        2. China as a sugar daddy:
        China can do to Pak what the US did to South Korea and Taiwan. This also somewhat addresses the point made by Ugra. Historically, the region that is now Pakistan has been at the fringes of empires. But in pax sinica, it is sort of in the middle of China, Iran, and Turkey. It’s also China’s main access point to the India Ocean.

        3. Islamic influence:
        Islam has this archetype of the adeventurer trader in the mould of Sindbad, who makes wealth in his youth and then retires to a life of intellectual stimulation and fine luxury. This is an image that can be evoked to inspire the masses in the way Ertugurl has been used.

        4. Pakistan doesn’t have luddite anti-industrial faux leftists to wreck its path. And even if the tiny liberal section does try to make some noise, they’ll either be bought off or the military will take care of them.

        5. Higher TFR means Pakistan can continue to grow late into this century while India will start to struggle with an ageing population by 2050. Considering China is also looking at a demographic decline, this also provides Pak with a good export opportunity – both for good/services as well as human capital. I think China will be fine absorbing some low-medium skilled industrial workers from Pak unlike the west, which only wants the best and the brightest.
        (You could say that China is not all that friendly towards immigration but empires have a way of inviting suzerain subjects. Plus the demographic issue obviously)

        6. Benevolent military dictatorship:
        We know that benevolent dictatorships, though rare, work. Pakistani military has exerted itself enough on ‘geopolitical’ stuff. So when they do decide to focus inwards on the economy, they’ll start to get stuff done.
        (Addressing Saurav’s point here)

        Now when I say Pak can excel India, I do not mean to say that Pakistan or even West Punjab will ever do better than states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, or Tamil Nadu. I also don’t think that Pakistan will best India at cutting edge stuff. We’ll continue to produce rocket companies and flying planes at our middling Indian level that Pak most likely won’t. Nor will the best and the brightest Pakistanis generally outshine the best and the brightest Indians.

        But Pakistan can certainly do better than the Indian average.

        Think of it this way. Pakistan as a whole can beat whatever is the average of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh 20 years from now.

        1. Pakistani Punjab was richer than UP and Bihar for two reasons. Higher agricultural productivity and better integration into global markets via migrant labour force in the Gulf. The first reason has dissipated with more investments into agriculture on the Indian side and higher population growth rate in Pakistan. The second reason persists and is still siginificant. Pakistani Punjab receives about $ 12-15 billion in remittance annually for a population of 120 million. In India, UP and Bihar’s share in foreign remittance is miniscule, they receive about $ 3 billion for a population of 300 million.

  8. Hi, Can someone determine my Iran farmer, steppe and AASI percentages? Davidski emailed me my G25 coordinates a few weeks ago:

    PI_scaled,0.045529,-0.052808,-0.152357,0.087533,-0.084939,0.048248,0.010105,0.016153,0.026793,0.014761,-0.004384,0.00015,-0.003271,-0.003578,-0.004479,-0.005436,0.002999,-0.00038,-0.001257,-0.012006,-0.003119,-0.007666,-0.005669,-0.001325,-0.002395

    1. “The labour shortages which caused employers in the ‘Asian tiger’ countries to resort to hiring women, have never materialised in South Asia”
      This could be an unintended consequence of haryana’s job reservation. Factories could finally tap into low caste female demographic for workers . women are more docile labourers and tend to work for less wages (don’t know if that would be the case here) so that could contribute to an east asia style industrialisation in India

    1. I just jumped into the middle of the podcast with Shahid Raza (where he’s talking about UAE and Israel) and found him immediately interesting. But I’m wondering what his background is? In particular via his Twitter bio (@schaheid) I see he writes a lot for Russian-backed geopolitical forums like Katehon and Sputnik. I have nothing against such forums, in fact there are many fascinating people who write for them, and I read them a lot. Nonetheless, it’s a very specific milieu and I wonder if it provides Raza’s bread and butter, or if he has an institutional base independent of that, and if so what it is.

  9. I got 21 in the steppe quiz, which was surprising as there was little I knew for a fact and I answered mostly by making inferences based on stuff I already knew. So I’m curious what other people here got

  10. girmit, your observations are well-taken. Indeed, even the anecdotes I can think of (servants sitting on furniture that the house holders also use for example) confirm that Pakistan is not as socially stratified as India is. It would be interesting to see for example if apartment buildings in Pakistan have separate elevators for servants/drivers and residents. This, however does not negate the fact that India’s government is able to serve India’s disadvantaged much better in general.

    Speaking of balance sheets, Hofstede’s data actually confirms Pakistan’s relative social equality in his country comparisons. In the comparison here, it is interesting that Nepal, despite being a Hindu country resembles Pakistan in terms of social equality, while Bangladesh being a Muslim country resembles India in terms of social equality. The data here also illustrates my point about the competitiveness of India’s upper castes, India is much more individualistic than other subcontinent countries.

    https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/bangladesh,india,nepal,pakistan/

  11. Was watching the life of Prince Philip in photographs, and while I’ve never really had any opinion on the UK Royal Family beyond it being a sentimental indulgence of an otherwise thoroughly practical people, I must say that his life seems to have been a shining example of noblesse oblige. Didn’t shy away from military service, such as in WW2 for example. I wonder if there were/are any equivalents of this sort of elite in the subcontinent – would the Rajputs be an example?

    1. The Parsis as a group maybe.

      Its very rare for a such a disproportionately prosperous religious and ethnic minority to be universally liked instead of hated.

  12. https://twitter.com/UzairYounus/status/1380533981767213061

    “CHART: The latest IMF report sheds a light on Pakistan’s external debt situation.

    Data shows that 27.5% of Pakistan’s total outstanding external debt is owed to China, which includes commercial debt to Chinese banks (~7.5% of total).

    In March 2020, the debt owed to China was USD $11.8 billion.

    Latest IMF data suggests that the debt owed to China (excluding commercial) has increased by almost $7 billion!

    Basically, it should be the Chinese finance ministry, not the IMF, that should be making Pakistan’s economic policy and determining what path the country takes to pay back its debts! “

  13. What is this news about vaccine shortage?

    I have not been following the news much this week.

    1. Vaccine shortage is the latest political hot potato – barely two months ago the opposition was crying about the non-efficacy of vaccines and the question of safety. Now they want everyone in the population to get the vaccine.

      At the heart is a logistical issue and a supply-demand matching OR problem. Some zones are reporting higher than normal queues for vaccines – those districts where the second wave is peaking.

      The Central Health ministry has published some stock numbers – it looks like we will be able to vaccinate the 45 plus population only by the end of June with current stock supply rate. So the opposition jumped from the vaccine-not-safe to the vaccine-not-enough wagon.

  14. We need a blog post or Browncast on Prats friends. Bengali start up bros, hippie music types, ultra woke journalists …. this man is on the edge of India’s emerging urban milieu. Also girmit with his wide range of first hand experiences.

    1. Don’t forget our man sbarkum, about whom i often wonder if we crossed paths as two brown men in 90’s harlem. Totally agree with your suggestion of having Prats on a browncast, he’s got a great take on metropoltian subcultures and personas.

      1. girmit
        about whom i often wonder if we crossed paths as two brown men in 90’s harlem.

        For sure must have crossed paths, subway etc. Omar too had lived and worked in Harlem.

        Lived in Harlem; South Bronx and Bronx
        South Bronx/Mott Haven; Willis Avenue and 141st St, Was getting gentrified in 2000.
        Harlem; Bradhurst Ave and 145 Street. Very Gentrified now.
        Bronx, Kingsbridge/Fordham; E Kingsbridge and Creston Ave (not gentrified).

        All my life lived on an island except the time I was in the Bronx.

        Saurav
        On sbarkum i think he is Sanath Jayasuriya’s long lost brother. He fucked with Indians a lot.
        I dont have the reach of Sanath Jayasuriya’s ahem cricket bat, may I say.

      2. I am afraid I am about to leave that metropolitan life and move to middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Greater Noida for a new job.

        Depending on the how the next 2-3 years go, this could either be the best or the worst decision of my life.

    2. “Bengali start up bros”

      Pretty sure he means Prashant Kishore 😛

      On sbarkum i think he is Sanath Jayasuriya’s long lost brother. He fucked with Indians a lot.

      1. Prashant Kishore is Bihari.

        As far as well known Bengali startup folks go, the CEO of Dunzo comes to mind off the top of my head.

        1. I know.

          Bong start ups just seems like an oxymoron. It like saying gujju civil servant. Or Dravidian Hindu.

  15. These talks of middle caste banias is quite amusing to a Jain vania origin dude. Few things for sure: we do live below our means, prioritize education, and on average stay away more from vices compared to others in the same circumstances. It is cultural. This is my experience at least. The culture of pragmatism is there. It makes for a tradition of weighing arguments, recognizing merits to different sides in order to critically analyze on balance what is better. This tends to lead to more success than blind idealism.

    1. All I could read in the article was “whine, whine … blah, blah, blah …. whine, whine, whine”.

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