Saturday, November 28, 2009

Articles worth a look

Life and work have been busy, so I once again have been ignoring the blog. I'll try to make up for it a bit this weekend. First, some links to articles worth a look, on many different topics.

The New York Times has an insightful piece entitled "Some Indians Find It Tough to Go Home Again" that highlights some of the challenges faced by those who "look Indian, but think American" because of the chaotic and sometimes feudal work culture. I have seen some of this in little things in the work place and around town -- how having a regular staff meeting is revolutionary, how auditors are treated royally lest they ruin a firm's reputation, how a student looking a school official in the eye is viewed as disrespect, how high level government officials sometimes seek to squash debate in the press -- and it could go on an on.

DNA ran a headline on Nov. 24 of "India Ready to Negotiate Free-Trade Pact with US" that shows that either the press and/or the Indian government doesn't really understand what free trade agreements are in the US mind. The idea that the "free trade agreement" that India has with ASEAN would be a workable base for an agreement with the US shows that someone hasn't done their homework. US free trade agreements are comprehensive -- unlike the ASEAN deal which leaves entire sectors out, and keeps very high protection for a long list of goods on both sides -- and quite burdensome from a regulatory perspective, requiring all kinds of transparency that doesn't exist here, as well as additional obligations (some that I think would be useful, others less so) -- that India is not ready to adopt. I'm not holding my breath on this one.

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece on medical tourism, entitled "The Henry Ford of Heart Surgery," explaining about how large quantities of operations performed can bring down costs (I should note that at CSTEP we have a project that examines this approach to bringing down costs and spreading coverage), and then hosts a debate about the ethics of charging different rates for foreigners than for Indians at WSJIDEBATE.

Paul Krugman's "Taxing the Speculators" published originally in the New York Times, and then in almost every paper I've seen here in India (well, only the English language press, I don't know if he gets translated into the many other languages) endorses the long-debated notion of the Tobin Tax, a small fax on financial transactions. I think this approach is long overdue, and is line with the Brazilians, following the example of the Chileans long before them, putting disincentives in place for disruptive short term capital inflows.

Kishore Mahbubani's "Obama in Asia: West Looks East After "The End of History"" posted at the Huffington Post is provocative, as his work always is. I think that he replaces Western triumphalism with his own Eastern version. But some of his comments are worth pondering, if not accepted, while others (such as the need to reconsider the place of both the East and West in today's world and the near future) clearly should be accepted.

So much to say, but so little time.

No comments: