Thinks 275

Pratap Bhanu Mehta:”The moral of the 1930s was clear. Once unleashed, communalism always breaks nations. It took the sheen off India’s renaissance in the 1930s; it will again corrode new India’s energies. It has momentum that we can only pretend to control. The logic of Partition and the logic of freedom are fundamentally incompatible. One traps us in compulsory identities, the other lets us define ourselves. One sees fellow citizens as a potential threat, the other as a resource to build something special. One wallows in the past, the other is oriented to the future. One concentrates on the true foundation of national greatness, the other creates an impostor-like substitute. One is premised on fear, the other on hope. One on violence, the other solidarity. Which logic will we embrace — freedom or Partition? A question for both India and Pakistan. And alas, the answer is looking depressingly clear.”

Amartya Lahiri: “The key lesson to take away from this history of poverty alleviation in India is that the most effective way of helping the poor is faster economic growth. Social welfare programmes that work through redistributive schemes can at best be complementary mechanisms that provide social insurance against bad luck in the labour market or in health. But, in the absence of growth, relying on redistribution to fight poverty only guarantees a lot of poor people.”

Some Classical Liberal Priors: by Donald J. Boudreaux. “It’s easy to say that in an ideal world the human mind would be free of biases. But freedom from biases requires the absence of priors. And the human mind is simply too puny, relative to the size and complexity of the reality that it seeks to understand, to operate without priors. Priors are not merely potential sources of bias; they also are necessary for productive thought and, as such, are indispensable. A mark of wisdom is to be aware of one’s priors and to struggle to prevent these both from obstructing one’s own personal quest for a better understanding of reality, and from impeding productive discussion with other persons. To this end, it’s worthwhile, from time to time, to step back and take stock of one’s priors.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.