August 13, 2007

Random Thoughts from a Hectic Week

1) Floods. Government helpless.

We keep hearing about how omnipotent our military forces and bureaucracy are. We fund them enough that's for sure.

So, where were they?

From the sounds of it, AL and BNP organizations are apparently the only ones with enough grassroots experience to make the relief effort effective. That's straight from the CAS's mouth. What does that say about our government structure? That it's less effective than the party structures?

2) Why was the response from the parties so sluggish this year? Granted a lot of their workers are in jail or in hiding, is this something that would need a clearance from the top leadership? If it did, how sad is that? What happened to simply helping people for the heck of it? Were they afraid of becoming "shushil shomaj" with all the horrors involved?

3) Conversation with an Indian friend this week focussed on bureaucrats in Bangladesh and India, and Japanese corporate workers. Essentially, all 3 groups are given the same deal: lifetime employment, job security, steady paycheck. Result: GoB and GoI bureaucrats are lazy, inefficient and corrupt. Japanese workers are among the most efficient in the world and Japanese firms are running General ("we might fire your ass tomorrow") Motors out of business.

My friend suggested culture as a possible explanation. I went with greater scrutiny at recruitment and greater pay in terms of PPP and position in society. Any thoughts?

4) Is it just me, or has the debate since 1/11 been between those who advocate for a corruption-laced, dynastic, electoral democracy and those who want an "efficient", meritocratic (and perhaps, military) oligarchy? Now which side do I deplore more?

5) India today has better child mortality rates than the U.S. in the fifties. That one just blew my mind.

6) One of the most personally appealing endeavours I have come across in recent times. Kudos to the authors, despite my disagreements with them on some points. Rickshawalas (not a spelling mistake) are the life-blood of Dhaka and this blog would not function without emulating - on an enormously smaller scale - their daily resilience.

7) If you liked the video below, you might want to visit Gapminder and play around with the statistics yourself. Among my favourites:

a) Iran's contraceptive use among adult women, which spikes right after Khomenei's death

b) Iran's child mortality which falls dramatically after the Revolution,

c) Bangladesh's fertility rate during the 80s (obvious)

d) Bangladesh's women labour force as a %age of total, which despite popular perception, has shrunk over the 90s.

e) Any oil-rich MENA country's urbanization over time. My personal favourite, Libya.

1 comment:

J @ Shadakalo said...

Asif:
Thanks for posting the Hans Rosling video. It was a true eye opener, and GapMinder World is amazing. I played with it until 3 AM.