Today my wife Pinky turns twenty four. Thinking about it, twenty four seems such a long time ago. Or maybe not. I don’t think there has been any other significant age-landmark for me since then. I remember that when I turned twenty four, I got a feeling that I’d become old.
The premise was based on sport, and more specifically the Indian cricket team. Anyone who was twenty three or younger was referred to as a “promising youngster”. As soon as you turned twenty four, though, you lost that tag! Of course the story is different in different countries, and in different sports. For example, KP Pietersen was 24 when he made his debut. For England, he was “young”. Not for the Indian press, though.
Given that I faced such a step up (in terms of self-perception ) when I was twenty four, it seems like a breeze after that. Completing quarter of a century of existence didn’t trigger any emotion. Neither did going into the “late twenties” (when I turned 28) have that kind of an impact. I don’t know what it is, but it was when I turned twenty four that I suddenly felt grown up, and old. And I’ve felt that way ever since.
I mentioned this “growing old” to Pinky first thing this morning, but she dismissed it saying she feels no such thing. She also said that she’s really happy that she’s turned twenty four. She hates prime numbers, she says.
This post has nothing to do with Ravi Karthik’s blog. It has everything to do with Bangalore’s roads. I can’t recall a single instance in time in the last 15 years when all roads in Bangalore have been in “normal state”. Maybe ever since the KR Market flyover started, there has been one part of the city or the other that has been dug up. And the digging is only increasing. Earlier it would be a handful of places in the city that were dug up. Now, it is tough to find two points over 5 km apart such that you don’t have to take a diversion of some sort to travel between them.
The optimistic among us think that things will become better as soon as these projects get completed. However, what we forget is that there is a small but powerful section of society that survives on the city being in transition. Road-builders, bridge-builders, road-diggers, road-fillers, and all these sundry people make their living based on the premise that the city will be in perpetual transition. And given how critical income from such activities is for their survival, they resort to lobbying and paying “rents” to relevant people in the government to ensure their cash flows continue.
The problem here is one of a small concentrated set of big winners, and a large uncoordinated distributed set of small losers. And the small set of winners can successfully get together and lobby and have things their way, because the other set is too disjointed to do anything about it.
The other (and in my opinion, the bigger) problem is that thanks to lobbying, the government has a natural disposition to spend more than to spend less. And all the spending comes from taxpayer money. So you have the road projects in Bangalore that you think you don’t need. You have the free TVs and Mixies and whatnot in Tamil Nadu. And you have rice and wheat given to the (supposed) poor at rock-bottom prices. And where does the money for all this come from? Your taxes!
I hope sooner rather than later people realize that the only solution to corruption is less government. The problem, however, is that the government has no incentive to reduce its own size – for in that case the kickbacks and rents that it (to be precise, people who are part of government) can potentially extract come down. You might institute acts like FRBM (fiscal responsibility and budget management, which seeks to put a cap on government spending) but with such a cap in space, what is the guarantee that the government will actually spend that limited money on what is necessary, and not what gives rents for its officers and employees?
Political parties may have different ideologies, and may appear to fight about every little thing. But this is one thing they agree on – that the size of the government be large – that way they all get to (in turns) have a share of the (rental) pie. This equilibrium is stable and I don’t know how we can snap out of this. And till then, our taxes will continue to flow out. And the cities will be in perpetual transition.
o!!! (super) is indeed a super movie. It is so awesome in so many different dimensions, that it’s hard to capture it all in one post. I guess in this post I’ll simply stick to the economic aspect of the movie.
So basically the premise is that in 2030 India is the most powerful country in the world. Bangalore is clean and green, with whites working as chauffeurs and sweepers, with 70 pounds to the rupee, and so forth. The movie is a fairly elaborate nested story about how this transformation is brought about. (rest of post under the fold. spoilers are there)
Continue reading “o!!!”
So the basic premise of this post is that being in a romantic relationship is like studying at IIT.
Everyone wants to get into IIT. They do thipparlaaga to try and get in. They join expensive coaching classes. Some of them even move cities. They wait for several years giving multiple attempts. People work extremely hard. Still, success is not guaranteed. There is that luck factor. There is the day’s performance that matters. Some days are important than others. Cracking the JEE is a “discrete” job.
While preparing for JEE, everyone thinks that if they clear the exam, their life is made. They come under the impression that after JEE, life will become smooth. That they won’t need to put any fight for the rest of their lives. That all that matters for their future is their cracking the JEE. And so forth.
It’s only after people come to IIT that they realize that life is not the cakewalk they assumed it to be. It is only after they get there that they realize that life after JEE is quite hard. That it is necessary to work hard. That if they don’t work hard, they will do very badly, and might flunk. It is only when they get to IIT that it hits them. Some learn quickly but others get disillusioned and give up in life. Several people do badly. Some even drop out.
So it’s similar with a romantic relationship. Everyone wants to get into a romantic relationship. Everyone looks only about the “entrance examination”. Everyone believes (before they get in) that life ban jaayegi after they get into a relationship. And getting into a relationship is a “discrete” job. It’s about how you “perform” during those blading sessions. It takes that bit of luck. It takes those set of fateful events to happen together in that precise coincidence.
And it is only when you get into a relationship that you realize how hard it is (provided you haven’t been there before). It is like being in IIT all over again. You know that you will need to work really hard to keep it going (applies to both parties). It is a continuous job, and you need to continuously “perform”. The randomness is much smaller than it is during the “relationship acquisition” phase. However, you necessarily need to work hard. There is no “stud way out”. Some people give up when they find this out and break up (drop out). Others understand and put in the requisite effort and sustain the relationship. And continue to work hard.
The thing with arranged marriages is that you are typically forced to commit as soon as you’re done with “evaluating” the other person. You don’t get to test the counterparty on their ability to work hard and keep things going. It is like offering someone a job as soon as he has cleared the JEE.
And I wonder if one can draw an analogy between marriage and (academic) tenure.