Wednesday, October 18, 2017

'Burnout culture' and sexism

Arianna Huffington, the well-known co-founder of the Huffington Post has courageously articulated an open secret. She has blamed the inappropriately high importance attached to performance excellence as the cause of sexism we find in many organisations.

A member of the Board of Uber, the company recently buffetted by allegations of sexism in the work place, she has undertaken to end the 'cult of the top performer' at Uber. She says that Harvey Weinstein could carry on his sexual misdemeanour uninterruptedly for a long time at Hollywood because of the 'cult of someone who delivers results' that is prevalent also in the Silicon Valley.  She advocates a pause in the practice of worship at the altar of hyper-growth.

She pleads for the need to find bonding activities other than boozing. Very strong statements, indeed. An assault on hedonism that is the hallmark of contemporary companies?

Why Indians disfavour democracy?

India is the largest democracy in the world in terms of population. Elections to representative Houses are held periodically and the collective will of the people is reflected in the constitution of parliament and assemblies.

It is therefore surprising that Pew Research has found an underlying support for autocracy in the country. According to recent surveys, 55% would prefer an autocratic leader. 27% strongly support this preference. Even more surprisingly, 53 % would not mind military rule.

These findings expose popular disgust with the quality and integrity of elected representatives. There are exceptions though. 85% retain trust in central leadership. Apparently, Modi continues to sustain an ethical image that contrasts sharply from the image of an average politician.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Crony capitalism again?

It used to be cynically said that parents are the enemies of children ("makkalukku chathru matha, pita"). It is more appropriate now to say that children are the enemies of parents. Indira Gandhi had Sanjay Gandhi, Morarji Desai had Kantilal Desai, Chidambaram has Karti Chidambaram and Jayalalithaa had Sudhakaran, an adopted son. Is Amit Shah's son, Jay Amitbhai Shah one such? (I should not go overboard on this theme; many politicians do not need their children to bring disrepute to them. They do it themselves.)

The Wire reports that a company and a few partnership firms owned by Jay Shah have recorded some transactions which are worth probing. These transactions include humongous increase in revenues in 2015-16, loan from IREDA, a public sector unit concerned with renewable energy, to a firm which was till then a stock-broking firm , a loan from a co-operative bank (any loan from a co-operative bank to any politician's associates prima-facie attracts adverse attention) and a loan from an NBFC  not reflected in the latter's Balance Sheet.

Would Amit Shah and Jay Shah come clean on this? Otherwise the needle of suspicion cannot be deflected.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Economics Nobel

Clarivate Analytics has announced a list of six probables for Nobel prize in Economics 2017. CA has become a household name in India because it has included Raghuram Rajan in the list.

The list contains Colin F.Camerer, George F.Louwenstein, Rober E.Hall, Michael C.Jensen and Stewart C.Myers in addition to RR. The first two are neuro / behavioural economists, the third one has researched unemployment, recessions and worker productivity. The other three are known for their brilliant work in corporate finance. In addition, Raghuram Rajan retrospectively mesmerised the world by having predicted the 2007- global economic meltdown / tailspin.

In case RR wins the Nobel which he richly deserves, the opposition in India will be gifted with a massive ammunition which it does not deserve to lambast the government for having spurned RR away from RBI.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Humour, unlimited

I saw the following news items in The Hindu today on the same page and could not control my laughter:

Mr.Modisaid, "Nov 8, 2016 will be known in history as the first day in the war against corruption and black money."

Mr.RahulGandhi said,"Farmers and youth are the two main issues concerning India and if Modiji cannot address these, he should say so and the Congress will come and do it in six months."

Modiji, are you beginning the battle only now? Were you waiting for an auspicious time?

Rahulji, What did the Congress do when it was in power?

Do these leaders believe their own statements? Do they think all Indians are fools?

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Nobel prize

We are now halfway in announcement of Nobel prize winners. Winners of prize in Medicine, Physics and Chemistry are now known. Only Literature, Peace and Economics are left.

There are 3 joint winners in each of the subjects so far. Seven out of nine are Americans. All are male. Lawrence Summers of the Harvard University was hauled over the coals for stating that female brain is not as attuned to science as the male brain. Is preponderance of males among Nobel laureates in medicine, physics and chemistry year after year proving him right? Are unpalatable truths banished from public debate?

It is likely that male domination among winners of Nobel prize in remaining three subjects this year may not be 100%  It is worth watching.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Roadside corruption

While taking a walk, I witnessed a traffic constable stopping a car, speaking to the driver briefly and accepting some cash. Evidently, it was the usual bribe we keep seeing on the streets day in and day out.

What made this scene memorable was that my fellow-walker recognised the cop who also spontaneously reciprocated. I learnt that the same policeman had stopped my fellow-walker's car a week earlier and had demanded money which was refused.

When confronted, the cop justified his behaviour: "What else can I do? My normal salary is Rs.30,000 p.m. But it has been cut to Rs.10,000 thanks to scores of complaints against me. I have a family to maintain. Please help me if you can. But do not harm me by making a complaint."

So, by pruning the cop's salary, has the government made him more corrupt?