Archive for August 1st, 2016

How support for free-trade does not mean liberalism anymore..

August 1, 2016

This is a superb post by David Glasner. It is one of those blogs which digs deep into history and philosophy of economic issues.

He says how American political circus stands for opposite things today. Earlier to be liberal normally meant the candidate supported free trade. Not any more. I just means the opposite actually. If you are liberal, you don’t support free trade!

In the run-up to, and immediate aftermath of, Hillary Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine to be her running mate, one of the recurring comments was how unpopular Tim Kaine is with the liberals who supposedly comprise the bulk of Bernie Sanders’ supporters, and must somehow be coaxed, cajoled or persuaded to reconcile themselves with Kaine’s supposedly moderate centrist political views.

Here’s a typical description of Kaine’s liberal problem in the Washington Post:

Hillary Clinton has made her selection for vice president: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

That will come as a disappointment to many liberals. After rallying behind Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and being teased with Elizabeth Warren as Clinton’s potential running mate — an audition that appeared to go very well — Clinton opted for a more boring, more moderate pick. This despite some liberal groups saying Kaine was unacceptable and even “disastrous.”

First, let’s run through why some liberals don’t love Kaine. Over at Wonkblog, Max Ehrenfruend details three issues on which Kaine could be a particular disappointment to the Warren/Sanders crowd: trade (he’s generally pro-free trade), banking (he has suggested softening some Dodd-Frank regulations) and abortion (he is personally pro-life but votes pro-choice).

So, according to this article, which I think accurately reflects the current understanding of what it now means to be a liberal in America, we have arrived at a state of affairs in which supporting free trade is sufficient justification for casting Tim Kaine out of the liberal fold. Or to make the point in a slightly different way, on international trade at least, Donald Trump’s views are more liberal than those of either Tim Kaine or Hillary Clinton.

In this crazy year of 2016, we have witnessed all kinds of farcical events that no one ever dreamed would actually happen. But for protectionism to now be identified as a defining tenet of liberalism surely belongs on any list of the improbable plot twists in the tragicomedy of an election campaign that we have been watching in disbelief in America’s political theater of the absurd.

Considered historically, the notion that you can’t be a liberal if you support free trade is nothing short of preposterous, the British Liberal Party having came into existence in the nineteenth century largely as a result of the great political battle over free trade in Britain in the 1830s and 1840s.

He goes into UK political history which got these two liberalism and free trade together. Now they just mean the opposite. As they say, anything can happen in politics. Never be surprised..


Yesterday (31 July 2016) Funai stopped manufacturing VCRs..

August 1, 2016

Superb piece by Palash Krishna Mehrotra of ToI . I didn’t know Video Cassette Recorders continued to be manufactured till yesterday. For those who don’t know what this is about, well this is how we saw movies in 1990s. They looked like this. Those were also some times.

Anyways, Krishna takes you down the memory lane:

Today, the last day of July, is when Funai stops manufacturing VCRs. For those who thought that the VCR was dead already, no, this wasn’t the case. Japan-based Funai was the last company left and now they too have shut shop citing lack of demand and difficulty in acquiring parts. The VCR is officially no more.

If you grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s, the VCR was an essential part of childhood. It was, to use a cliche, our window to the world, that is to say – the world beyond Doordarshan.

The first time I experienced the joys of the VCR was in the Jehan Numa Palace Hotel in Bhopal. My parents were attending a poetry festival and I’d tagged along. The hotel had an in-house cable channel which played the James Bond film Octopussy on a loop. As it turns out, the second film I watched on a VCR was also a James Bond flick – Dr No. This was in Mumbai, at poet Adil Jussawalla’s flat in Colaba. The rental was Rs 20. These were still early days for the VCR in India; not everybody had one.

My parents were never too keen on it. Every time we had to travel by bus somewhere, my father would make sure that it wasn’t a ‘video coach’. To him, a video coach meant a splitting headache.

With me, it was more the fear of being left behind. In school, during morning assembly, the boys would talk amongst themselves about the latest films they’d watched, they knew the scenes and dialogues by heart – I felt I was missing out.

So I did the next best thing – go over to friends who had one. Renting VCRs was quite common in Allahabad when I was growing up. You could rent one by the hour. The idea was to cram as many films as possible into 12 or 18 hours. Friends, neighbours and relatives dropped in for these movie marathons. It was a communal affair.

Apart from the new Hindi blockbusters (all featuring Sridevi), there were certain films which were mandatory at every viewing session, like Jaani Dushman, the cornerstone of desi horror. From Pakistan, came the hit comedy Bakra Quiston Pe. The small-town middle class also built up its own canon of Hollywood favourites: Crocodile Dundee, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, House of Wax and Evil Dead.

The rise of the VCR coincided with the decline of cinema halls. Movie theatres became run down places where only unemployed youth went, not ‘respectable’ families.


🙂 This story would be common to so many of us.

How technology moves in time…


Should India have a ministry of the future?

August 1, 2016

Gautam Bhatia of ToI makes a case for having a Ministry of Future.


Gurgaon Floods: State remaining blind to private interests overruling public good?

August 1, 2016

The last week was a great reality check on the hyped India story. India’s two major cities and one upcoming smart city were flooded due to rains in three different parts of the country.We have already witnessed shocking scenes in another major city Chennai last year.  These were not untimely rains but pretty timely as South West Monsoons happen this time of the year. Infact good rains were highly anticipated this year due to two years of successive poor downpour. All this has become pretty common now and each rain shows the same story. One wonders the status in other cities now.

Given this, the coverage was mostly partial to Gurgaon given the traffic situation looked far worse there compared to others. People were stuck for 6 hrs and above in Gurgaon and perhaps 4-5 hours in other two. Those in Bangalore actually brave traffic wit or without rain on a daily basis. Bangaloreans can safely say “This time is not different”.

One wonders when pathetic life in India’s cities ever be a part of our agenda. It is just getting worse and worse. The media is also just ignorant about these issues and reacts only when there is a crisis. The current obsession is GST where utopian columns are being written how goods will move smoothly from one part of the country to the other. It is of least worry that people are now increasingly unable to move from one part of the city to another in desired time.

Coming to Gurgaon, this article by Prof Sanjay Srivastava says we have moved from being modern to global to smart. But reality is haunting as we are far from being good even on a local basis:


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