Archive for August 10th, 2018

Dadabhai Naororji: The first black man in Britain’s house of commons

August 10, 2018

Interesting profile of Dadabhai Naororji.


Why is there such a fuss over IKEA Hyderabad?

August 10, 2018

Vishwaveer Singh of Scroll walks us through the much hyped IKEA store in Hyderabad:

The IKEA store launched on August 9 and is a culmination of a journey that started more than six years ago. It was the brainchild of Telangana’s Special Chief Secretary (Industries) at the time, Pradeep Chandra, who wooed the Swedish retail giant, convincing them to choose Hyderabad as the launch city over several others that were in the race, including Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi. While IKEA’s Global CEO Jesper Brodin said, at the launch press conference, that they have “spades in the ground in many other locations across the country,” the store’s opening in Hyderabad has been a victory for the state government, who all but laid out the red carpet. Land allotments and permissions were expedited and an entire metro station’s plan was changed, so it would eventually get constructed opposite the store.

Why all the brouhaha for a furniture brand? The answer becomes evident after a walk through the store. On the first floor there is a 1,000-seater restaurant, among the largest in India, serving a mix of Swedish and Indian cuisine. IKEA’s famous Swedish Meatballs find their way to the menu (in a chicken avatar, keeping in mind cultural sensibilities), while the smoked salmon tastes like it was fished but a few moments ago from a fjord in Sweden. There are also an impressive array of desserts and of course, Hyderabadi biryani (for Rs 99), samosas and dal makhani.

Next to the restaurant is the entrance to the labyrinth that houses IKEA’s 47 show apartments. Ranging in size from small and medium to large, each space had been fitted with its own design aesthetic. Products are displayed within the setting of a living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, children’s nursery, a library doubling up as a study, artworks hang on the wall, rugs sit perfectly positioned on the floor. It’s not hard to sit in one of the many armchairs and be transported to a Los Angeles loft or an apartment in New York’s meatpacking district.

There are Indian touches aplenty. IKEA’s design teams visited more than 1,000 homes around the country across various income groups, to get a sense and feel of the cultural sensibilities and needs. They then curated the merchandise for the store, along with the themes and designs for the show apartments, which include pictures of Indian monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, hanging beside Beatles posters and little touches like laundry in an apartment balcony. There are also several innovative elements: intelligent storage options that hide away into furniture that could quite possibly surprise an Indian consumer, who is otherwise used to a very different school of furniture design.

There was almost a stampede at the launch.

Till they open at other places, this will become a place to visit in Hyderabad…

The ethnic segregation of immigrants in the US from 1850 to 1940

August 10, 2018

Interesting piece by Katherine Eriksson and Zach Ward:

Building State capacity for regulation in India

August 10, 2018

Four Shubho Roy, Ajay Shah, B.N. Srikrishna and Somasekhar Sundaresan review practices of regulators and their regulations in India.

At the beginning, we had Indian socialism, a world where departments of government indulged in bans, schemes, public sector enterprises which were often monopolies, entry barriers, price controls, and intervened in detail in products and processes. The objective of the reforms was to get to private competitive industries. However, there is a need to address market failures. It was felt that this would be done by specialised sectoral regulators which would bring a new style of limited intervention in the working of private competitive markets.

A few decades into this journey, the results are disappointing. At its worst, the regulator has become like the erstwhile department of government, operating bans, schemes, entry barriers, owning or controlling organisations that are players or even monopolies in the regulated industry, forcing price controls and intervening in detail in products and processes. These outcomes derive from limited
understanding of regulation in the 1990s, which led to errors in the drafting of law. There was inadequate understanding of what is a regulator, and inadequate understanding of the principal-agent problems between Parliament/department and the regulator. Too often, Indian laws have treated the text of the SEBI Act as a template for the construction of other regulators, and this is a poor foundation
to build on.

The way forward lies in focusing on the incentives of employees of the regulator. State capacity does not come from exhortations to better behaviour, or by recruiting great men. The individuals who man regulators respond to incentives. Institutional capabilities arise through modications of these incentives. These incentives are determined by the text of the contract between principal and agent, i.e. the Parliamentary law that creates the regulator. The key insight lies in addressing these problems using the tools of public administration and legal thinking.

The paper mainly focuses on financial regulators/regulation but I guess would apply to other regulators/regulations as well.

We need more of such papers which help us in figuring the several governance and regulation issues in India.

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