Doing my bit in transformation

I consider myself extremely lucky to be a part of a recently concluded transformation exercise by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. The GoAP is collaborating with the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of the Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Malaysia in conducting a problem solving exercise called the “lab”. It is a unique method which spans across 14 weeks during which elaborate stakeholder consultations are conducted, issues are identified, solutions are emerged, and initiatives are designed. I was part of the retail lab whose objective was to transform the retail sector in Andhra Pradesh and make it a key economic driver and employment generator. The team which I was a part of specifically focussed on improving the linkages of the small producers with the retail supply chain. Continue reading Doing my bit in transformation

The really big database on world poverty

The World Bank has an amazing tool which is the window to a big database on poverty numbers. They call it PovcalNet. For almost every country, it has figures for poverty headcount ratio, poverty gap, squared poverty gap, number of poor, and total population. Both the latest and historical data are available. Continue reading The really big database on world poverty

I think the idea of referendum is ridiculous

This is going to be a short piece, also a very basic one on the topic. My arguments may sound too naive- I don’t have much knowledge of this but still I wanted to write this here, at least it’s an original thought. We will see another referendum soon, in the UK, to decide whether it should stay in the European Union (EU) or not. Google defines a referendum as “a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision”. Which means that the government asks the people whether it should go ahead with a particular decision or not. The last major referendum we saw was also in the UK- the Scottish people were asked whether Scotland should be an independent country or should it continue as a part of the UK. Majority of the people who voted wanted to continue and hence Scotland remains in the UK. One happened in Greece recently where the people were asked whether to accept a bailout package or not. People said yes.

My problem with any referendum is that it presents a very complex political question of serious and long lasting consequences of all kinds to people who may not be in the best position to judge. I mean, the average citizen is not equipped enough- with information and capabilities, to take a call on matters that referendums normally are about. Continue reading I think the idea of referendum is ridiculous

India and poverty- some basic numbers

India has a lot of people who are called “poor”, take any scale or definition of poverty. The governments agree to this, the World Bank and the UN agree to this, everybody does. But do we know how many are the so called “poor”? Do we know the magnitude of the challenge of eradicating poverty? Do we know where do we stand with respect to rest of the world? The following charts may give some answers to these questions.

All charts are created by the author. The poverty figures are from the World Bank. The India population figures are from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators database; and the world population figures are from GeoHive. Continue reading India and poverty- some basic numbers

Book: Ayn Rand and the world she made

Ayn (pronounced “ein” or “eye-in”) Rand is the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (and a few more works of fiction and philosophy), most favorite books ever, for millions of readers. I recently read a biography of hers, by Anne C. Heller.

Ayn RandI was new to Rand, have never read any of her works. But heard a lot though, mostly from devout fans of the aforementioned two books.

But, millions love to hate her too, that’s the irony of Ayn Rand. Why? The answer is Objectivism, the branch of philosophy she developed. It’s extremely individualistic:  a man should pursue his individual interests, no matter what; one should not care about others, do not bother about philanthropy, and so on. Those who are powerful and better than others can, will, and should dominate the others. Morality and ethics was strictly woven around personal choices. She is pretty infamous for calling the Native Americans “savages” and justified violence against them. Her works are said to be filled with this propaganda. The Individualist Manifesto, the thirty-three-page essay presents her moral philosophy. Continue reading Book: Ayn Rand and the world she made