Friday, March 20, 2009

Now Deflation!!

Inflation, if you remember was the buzzword for most economists and policy makers. Even you as students would have had to bear seminars, presentations, questions and discussions on inflation. Less than a year later, the government seems to be worried about “Deflation”!!

Now wasn’t it the same government who went to lengths trying to reduce inflation? So should they not be happy that inflation figures are diving headlong and fast approaching zero and if some experts are to be believed, will hit negative figures by year end. The same policy makers are now scared of the looming Deflation!

So what is this “Deflation” and why is it so scary?

To understand deflation, let us review inflation first. Inflation you may remember was a term used to signify a general increase in price levels of stuff. Inflation meant that stuff would keep getting more and more expensive and in a way the value of money would decrease as the same one rupee would be able to purchase less. And I am sure you remember the two very basic reasons which can cause inflation: Increased money supply and the resultant increase in demand or a decrease in supply due to various reasons.

Now deflation is a persistent fall in price levels or the commonly followed macroeconomic indicators like in our case it would be the WPI (Wholesale Price Index). Please remember, the decrease in the rate of inflation (the rate at which inflation is growing) is called “Disinflation”. Disinflation and deflation are two very different terms. Generally, a one-time fall in the price level does not constitute a deflation. Instead, one has to see continuously falling prices for well over a year before concluding that the economy suffers from deflation.

In a deflationary environment, as the price of goods fall, people have look to delay purchases in the hope that the prices will fall further and that reduces the demand and therefore overall economic activity. So it is almost like a negative vicious circle where decreasing prices lead to decreasing demand (as people do not buy hoping for further fall in prices) and the decreasing demand leads to further decreasing prices. Ultimately the wealth creation of an economy goes for a six!

On Un-Built Roads and Non Working Street Lights

Finally the administration has decided to build the road in front of my house. They have also decided to repair the streetlights. I wish they had done that a couple of months ago, had they been working, a fatal accident I witnessed would not have taken place.

But why did they wake up now? In the words of an official supervising the repair work, “Elections are here!” Ahhh Yes!! The Elections!! How could I forget that I am an empowered citizen of the largest democracy in the world??!!?? How could I forget that people like me and you are poster boys for advertising the “success” of democracy??!!

I do not wish to indulge in yet another diatribe on the Indian polity. Neither do I wish to mourn the state of affairs of governance in India. Enough of that is available else where on the net. I wish to turn the tables. I would like to blame you and me, the citizens of this country for all that is going wrong in this country. It was because of my apathy that the roads remained un-built for so long. I needed the lights and I did not take the initiative to ask for it when I saw that the administration is not doing anything about it. My only contribution to the whole situation was to curse and analyse. “Curse and Analyse”, this is what we do. This is the only thing we ever do.

My belief is that the inaction, apathy and insensitivity of government bodies flows down from what they see as the status of a common man in the eyes of their political masters and I assure you that the people who sit in the Lok Sabha as your representatives care two hoots for you. I had the privilege to witness that first hand during my stint with a news channel in New Delhi. I was shocked to see what these politicians say before and after the official press conference is over. I was stung by the language they would use to describe their colleagues in the opposition and the total disregard for what we call the “common man”.

How did this happen?

In Greek, “Demos” stands for people and “Kratos” stands for rule. At least in principle, democracy is supposed to provide you and me, direct and equal access to power. The people whom we revere as our ministers and MLAs are supposed to be our representatives and our humble servants. In the run up to the elections all political parties are busy cobbling up partnerships and seat sharing agreements. Till now I have not heard of a single news story which might indicate that they are even considering being answerable to the citizens or asking them for their perceptions as activities worth pursuing.

What right do I have to decry the politicians and their activities when I am the very person who sent them to the hallowed halls of the Parliament? Please ask yourself the following questions.

·         Will I vote this time?

·         Do I know the festering issues in my state and in my country?

·         Do I know which party stands for what?

·         Will I vote for a party or will I choose the person?

·         Will I even consider independents?

·         Will I vote for candidates with criminal cases pending against them?

·         Will I consider caste, creed and religion while deciding my vote?

·         Will I caste my vote just for the heck of it or will I be serious about it?

·         Do I really believe that I can loose the victim and helpless mentality?


The answers to these questions, my dear students will decide the fate of the road in front of your house, the streetlights near your home. . . . . . . . . The answers to these questions will decide the fate of your nation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Being "Negative" ( I am one, by the way)

What is the difference between, “being a cynic” and “being a pessimist”?

Both adjectives have been used quite liberally to describe me by two who probably understand me more than anyone else!!!

How did I get to be such a negative person? Why do negative feelings come so naturally? As a teacher I feel it is my responsibility to talk to you about being negative.

Negativity is easy. It is far easier to say “no” than “yes”. It is far easier to look for reasons “why it cannot work” than look for “why it should be done” and “how to do it”. It is so easy to complain, whine, blame others, blame the system, the government, the society………… My parents are not rich, my teachers are not good, my college does not bother about students, the system is corrupt, you need recommendations and references to get a good job……. Some of the many grouses expressed by the many I teach. Try to calculate the ratio of the time we spend talking positive and good things to the time we spend talking trash, criticizing, making fun of, and cursing someone or something. We don’t even have to talk negative to be one, we just have to think negative!!!

Of course most of these views are correct. But the point is, Do you have the mettle to stop whining and do something useful to somebody?

Option 1: If yes, you are a success waiting to happen!

Option 2: If no, you are belong to the vast majority of human beings who spend a lifetime wallowing in self pity and do nothing worth mentioning in an entire lifetime.

Something tells me that if given these two options, as educated (not merely literate!!) human beings, we should take option number 1.

I have initiated a process of introspection and correction and I would recommend you guys do the same.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Simple Lesson

Apologies for having stayed away for so long but I guess what matters is that I am back. As this is my first blog for the year, I guess I will make it the distilled extract of my learnings in 2008.

It does not last, nothing does.

I had a wonderful time last year and went through really tough times too. As it happened almost every year, neither did the good times last nor did the bad times!! Even after realizing that, I admit that the good times exhilarate me and the bad times scare me to death. But I guess my reactions are moderating and that is a good sign. The message for my students then would be: Focus on the present, take life as it comes, everybody goes through what you are going through, no big deal!!! OK???

Take it this way, you have been allocated a limited time that you call “life”. The only surety in life is that it is terminal. That would automatically mean that all of us irrespective of our socio economic status, our gender, our religion………. In fact whoever the hell we may be, we have a very limited time to live. Only a complete moron would spend even a single minute wallowing in regret, fear and self pity. On the other hand, if we claim to be intelligent and educated, we should be enjoying ourselves as much as we can……….

I don’t know about you guys, but I have made up my mind. I am going to have some fun……. Fun working, listening to music, reading, travelling…… Hell I am gonna have fun whatever I do! For I have realised that if I cannot be happy with myself, no one else ever will be!!