Thinks 60

Organise, not just mobilise: Advice for India’s Opposition by Ruchi Gupta. “In a democracy, political power comes not from sporadic protests but from the ability to act in concert at important junctures. This is possible only through organisation. There are many instinctively liberal people who need a platform but may not be comfortable with protests. We need to give them accessible non-confrontational ways to participate. This is possible only if the Opposition — civil society and political — first hammers out an agenda around which different sections of the society can coalesce and develops programmes to enable volunteerism and mobilisation for organisation at the local level.” Useful in the context of United Voters of India (UVI).

An urgent need to reform the country’s legislative processes: by Shruti Rajagopalan.Agriculture needs to be reformed, but that trap cannot be wished away or solved through protests. It needs deliberation, perhaps even reforms in other areas like land policy. We cannot build a consensus through protests any better than we can through a dysfunctional parliament and assemblies…To continue with reforms and heal as a society that aims for consensus, India must reform its legislative processes.”

How to Make Your iPad More Like a Laptop: WSJ. “Get a mouse and keyboard, use an external display, get to know the Files app.”



Thinks 59

Only 7% of urban Indian women have paid jobs: from The Economist. “The International Labour Organisation says that only a fifth of adult women had a job or sought one in 2019, compared with three-fifths in China.” More. “Largely because of the dismal level of female participation, India’s overall workforce has failed to grow. It was 420m in 2016, and is now just 400m by CMIE’s count. It would be around 600m if India had a similar labour participation rate to, say, China or Indonesia.”

The Deliberate CEO Substack

Rise of Chief Evangelists: by David Perell. “We’re already seeing the rise of people who are simultaneously: (1) creators, (2) entrepreneurs, and (3) investors. It’s all part of the same “people as media companies” wave. Traditional media has lost its distribution monopoly, and the means of creation and distribution are now in everybody’s pocket.”

Thinks 58

An agenda for agricultural reforms: by Barun Mitra. “Indian agriculture has performed a miracle in the past 50 years, defying the dire prediction of many. Yet the plight of farmers have only worsened relative to other sectors of the economy. There is a general consensus on these two points, even at a time when opinions are quite polarised on the new farm laws. By focusing on the areas of agreement it might be possible to chart a path that need not be so divisive.”

The Auto Industry Bets Its Future on Batteries: NYT. “Carmakers, government agencies and investors are pouring money into battery research in a global race to profit from emission-free electric cars.”


Thinks 57

Privatisation: But from which PM Modi? by Debashis Basu. “Human memory is short. That alone can explain why many are deliriously happy with his latest slogans and ignore seven years of poor “doing business” climate, taxtortion, extortionate oil prices.”

Just berating babus is a waste of time: by Sunil Jain. “Bureaucrats may stymie what the ministers want, but the only way to fix that is to have sweeping reforms.”

Vaccinating India brilliantly: by Naushad Forbes. “For vaccination too, the approach must be decentralised, and not micro-managed. Having set the rules, the state must step out of the way, and let a thousand flowers bloom. Trust in institutions is critical. Trust hospitals, NGOs, industry, schools, colleges. Everybody has a role to play. Working together, we can run the world’s largest vaccination programme brilliantly. As with testing, no one else will be able to match us for cost or efficiency.”

Thinks 56

The Joy of using a Notebook: by Harish Bhat. “Notebooks help you record your thoughts the very moment they occur to you, and you can then keep playing with them, refining them, as you go along…A notebook at your constant disposal encourages you to be creative.”

Create a Digital Commonplace Book: Advice in NYT. “Readers have collected their favorite literary lines for centuries. Now compiling a portable word scrapbook is easier than ever.”

Ben Thompson on memes: ” I was looking to the real world as a guide to understanding the Internet, when it was in fact inevitable that the Internet would, over time, come to impact the real world. Some of that impact will be fleeting, like many of the protests Tufekci documented; some will have short term effects, particularly in places, like Wall Street, that easily translate sentiment into prices. The biggest impact, at least for the next few years, will likely come from memes capturing existing infrastructure, like Trump did the Republican party, and Ocasio-Cortez, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party. The most intriguing people, though, both for the potential upside and the potential downside, are those that leverage memes to build something new.”

Thinks 55

On Product-led Growth: “The difference between product-led companies compared with sales-led companies is that they use their product to do the heavy lifting. Instead of paying expensive salespeople to convince executives to sign large contracts, these companies impress the pants off the end user with a free version of the product. The end user then kicks off bottom-up growth by spreading the product within their organisation and creating an internal request for the paid version.”

Protest. Agitation. Movement — Various facets of dissent: As a protest captures popular imagination and becomes a topic of conversation in every home, Financial Express examines the various facets of dissent.

Atanu Dey: “Since India is a socialist country, government control of the economy is by intent and design. Being in government gives one immense discretionary powers — to grant or deny licenses, to block and prevent legitimate economic activity, to extract rents wherever possible. Therefore political power translates into economic power. This politicizes the economy, meaning economic policies are dictated by what is politically expedient or what is most financially rewarding to the policymaker. That leads to poor economic outcomes.Politicization of the economy then leads to the corruption and criminalization of politics because ultimately money determines who wins elections. The lesson here is that corruption is not just an unintended side effect but actually the designed objective of a command and control economy.”


Thinks 54

Steven Johnson’s new project: “A century ago, at the end of the Great Influenza, global life expectancy was in the mid 30s. In the US, it was 47. In places like India, it was in the mid 20s, significantly lower than the average lifespan in most hunter-gatherer societies. Average lifespans were so low in part because childhood was shockingly dangerous. Roughly a third of all children died before reaching adulthood. Today, just a hundred years later, in the middle of a global pandemic, global life expectancy is in the 70s. Childhood mortality worldwide has been reduced by a factor of 10. The doubling of human life expectancy should be understood as the single most important development of our era.”

On APIs: “Going down the API-First Ecosystem Rabbit Hole with Shopify, Stripe, Twilio, and more.”

The Case for Semicolons: from NYT. “It’s a period on top of a comma, and it works like both a period and a comma. You can use it to separate two independent clauses — two sentences that work on their own — or to separate items in a series that would be particularly unwieldy with only commas, often because the items contain commas.”

Thinks 53

What comes after smartphones? by Benedict Evans. “We’ve spent the last few decades getting to the point that we can now give everyone on earth a cheap, reliable, easy-to-use pocket computer with access to a global information network. But so far, though over 4bn people have one of these things, we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can do with them…now the innovation comes from everything else that happens around them.”

Build a Personal Monopoly: by David Perell. “The ultimate goal of writing online is to build a Personal Monopoly. It’s your unique intersection of skills, interests, and personality traits where you can be known as the best thinker on a topic and open yourself up to the serendipity that makes writing online so special.”

The victory of the peripheral? by Santosh Desai. “The government’s iron grip on the media and its ability to push through any narrative no matter how far-fetched has given it is a sense of invincibility that becomes a source of frustration when it has to deal with international criticism...The net result is that the peripheral issues are what is taking up our time and attention.”

Thinks 52

The Shadow of England in India’s Farm Protests: by David Fickling and Andy Mukherjee in Business Week. “Faster urbanization and quicker economic growth await. But, first, New Delhi has to make agricultural reforms palatable to farmers.”

Machines Are Inventing New Math We’ve Never Seen: “A group of researchers from the Technion in Israel and Google in Tel Aviv presented an automated conjecturing system that they call the Ramanujan Machine, named after the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who developed thousands of innovative formulas in number theory with almost no formal training. The software system has already conjectured several original and important formulas for universal constants that show up in mathematics.”

David Brooks on the coming technology boom: Vaccines, geothermal energy, fusion, autonomous vehicles, AI, space exploration, new drugs.

Thinks 51

All Stories Are Wrong, but Some Are Useful: by Neil Kakkar. “Stories, not people, rule our world. We’re always telling ourselves a story about how the world works, and this makes stories very powerful.”

Best Stories Win: by Morgan Housel. “A truth that applies to many fields, which can frustrate some as much as it energizes others, is that the person who tells the most compelling story wins. Not who has the best idea, or the right answer. Just whoever tells a story that catches people’s attention and gets them to nod their heads.”

Adopt a short story a day: by Vinita Dawra Nangia. “Short stories convey unforgettable life lessons very effectively, focused and succinct as they are. At a time when we struggle with short attention spans and limited time, what better than a short piece of fiction? If well-written by a master storyteller, most short stories leave you thinking, with vignettes lingering in your mind and imagination for days after you finish one.”