Thinks 989

Economist: “A world in which India and China set their territorial dispute aside, as they did previously for over three decades, following an accommodation to that end in 1988, could be very different from the one many American strategists envisage. India is already much less likely to provide support to American forces in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan than many in Washington seem to imagine. A sustained India-China thaw would make that unimaginable. In such a world, India would also be even less of a friend to the West on thorny global issues such as climate change, trade and debt than it is currently. A continued India-China detente would be in both countries’ interests. India’s momentary effort to reduce its economic dependence on China underlined how hard that would be. Two of Mr Modi’s biggest priorities, infrastructure and manufacturing, are especially reliant on Chinese inputs. India’s pharmaceutical industry, a big exporter, gets 70% of its active ingredients from China. And even if the prime minister could bear to curb such supplies (of which there is little sign) India’s influential business lobbies would try hard to dissuade him. The brief hiatus also illustrated their strength of feeling and traction on the issue. This does not allay India’s security concerns over China. They are long-standing and India will in any event continue to build up its defences because of them. India sees rapid economic growth as the essential condition for the build-up, among much else. And it rightly sees business with China as a necessary means to help it achieve that growth.”

WSJ: “The world’s population has increased eightfold since 1800, and standards of living have never been higher. Despite increases in consumption, and contrary to the prophecies of generations of Malthusians, the world hasn’t run out of a single metal or mineral. In fact, resources have generally grown cheaper relative to income over the past two centuries. Even on the largest cosmic scale, resources may well be limitless…Long before humans have extracted all the useful atoms in the Earth’s crust and oceans, we will develop the technological sophistication to obtain vastly more atoms and energy from asteroids, planets and beyond. In that future, just as has always been the case, the only bottleneck will be the rate at which new knowledge can be created. And nothing prevents us from improving that rate too. Knowledge is the ultimate resource and there are no limits on creating it.” More from Johan Norberg: “History shows that we don’t have to be satisfied with the economic and intellectual limits of the age in which we live.” And George Will: “Economic growth has not just coincided with, it has been caused by, population growth — more brains, more trade in knowledge. There are, however, those who consider people a plague, and who favor ever-larger regulatory government to prevent ruinous human ingenuity and planet-threatening dynamism. Such people resent the time-price metric of economic (and hence social) progress because it measures the results of millions of unplanned and uncoordinated decisions, cooperations, inventions and refinements. The metric frustrates those who believe, and who benefit from, pessimistic predictions that the supposedly retrograde present is a harbinger of a stagnant future of scarcities — unless government plans a better future. The time-price metric blows to smithereens the idea that progressivism is conducive to progress.” FT: “Energy generation, health and working life could all transform for the better this decade.”

Reuters: “Q: How does the world’s biggest pizza brand respond to high inflation in the world’s most populous nation? A: With the world’s cheapest Domino’s pizza. The 49-rupee ($0.60) pizza in India, Domino’s No.1 market outside America, is the tip of the spear in its fight against rampant inflation that’s squeezing profits and pricing out many customers, according to the CEO of its franchisee there. The company wants to “own that price point”, said Sameer Khetarpal, confirming the stripped down, seven-inch cheese pizza with a “sprinkle” of basil and parsley is Domino’s cheapest anywhere. “You are coming to the store or open the app, because there is a 49-rupee callout,” he said, adding that Domino’s global team supported the plans. “Customers are going to eat out less because prices are higher everywhere – our existing consumers should not go out to some competition.” In Shanghai, by comparison, Domino’s cheapest savoury pizza is priced about $3.80, and in San Francisco about $12, online menu prices show.”

WaPo: “There is, however, no reason that the theory of the novel should be a strictly academic affair. Almost all of us read novels, after all, and it’s worth thinking about what we’re up to when we do. Joseph Epstein, longtime former editor of the American Scholar magazine and longer-time literary culture gadfly, has attempted just that in his slim but ambitious new book, “The Novel, Who Needs It?”: It is, or at least initially seems to be, a theory of the novel for the rest of us. In that regard, it is an admirable effort. Unfortunately, it is not one that Epstein himself seems prepared to put into practice. “Reading superior novels,” Epstein writes, “arouses the mind in a way that nothing else quite does.” Echoing some other prominent theorists on the subject, he seems to hold that this is an effect of the novel’s polyphonic qualities, its ability to let various voices jangle against one another. “More than any other literary form, the novel is best able to accommodate the messiness of detail that life presents,” he argues. “The novel, for those who love it, is the literary form of forms.” Above all else, for Epstein this means that novels are good at getting us to experience other minds, mostly through our encounters with their characters: “What the novel does better than any other form is allow its readers to investigate the inner, or secret, life of its characters.” This capacity makes them powerful tools for human improvement, he says, expanding “one’s appetite for the richness of human experience.” It is the novel, he concludes, that guarantees our access to a “more complex view of life, its mystery, its meaning, its point.””

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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