Abheek Barman (for Info only, not official)

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Abheek Barman

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    ...Oriyas, who find themselves on the losing side of this epic, multi-year struggle over India’s most celebrated sweet need not commit seppuku. They can still call their local variant by another name like, say, the ‘Odisha Rosogolla’, pronounced with the more sibilant sound. Merry-Go-Round This is no laughing matter. Around two years ago, after Bengal’s claim to the roshogolla/rosgolla was contested by Odisha, the regime of Mamata Banerjee filed a suit. That year, Odisha filed its counterclaim, supported by hundreds of pages of documents. To add insult to injured Bong pride, in 2015, Bhubaneswar started a social media campaign #RasagollaDibasa. This was followed by festivities called Rasagolla Divas in 2016. Bhubaneswar contested Bengal’s claim that the first roshogolla was created by Nabin Chandra Das in 1868. ...

    TOI on Nov. 16, 2017, 11:32 p.m.

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    ...The song is called ‘Laughing Gas’, an archaic name of nitrous oxide, which induces a feeling of euphoria and is used as an anaesthetic. On Wednesday, the 30-share BSE Sensex and the 50-stock NSE Nifty closed at all-time highs. Instead of glee, many investors and fund managers wore worried expressions. On Thursday, BloombergQuint quoted Sankaran Naren, who manages about $43 billion for ICICI Prudential Asset Management, saying, “The real problems at this point of time are high valuations and the local exuberance.” India’s stock market has zoomed 33 per cent in the year so far, in close competition with South Korea as Asia’s second best-performing market after Hong Kong. But equities, now trading at more than 25 times profits per share, are among the most expensive in the region. Even if you deflate today’s prices with expected earnings next year, the ratio dips to 22, still the most expensive in Asia. ...

    TOI on Nov. 2, 2017, 10:25 p.m.

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    ...The Supreme Court upheld the right to free expression, freedom of speech and so on. This is welcome. Indians talk big about democracy, justice and rights, but when it comes to books, we develop ultra-thin skins and shed our vertebrae. Formally or informally, we’ve banned books ranging from a novel by Salman Rushdie to a historical study of Shivaji and even a biography of tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani. Voltaire said he might entirely disagree with the views of someone, but would die to support his right to air those views. This is Axiom 1of free expression. Axiom 2 says your freedom ends where my nose begins. Free expression doesn’t extend to hate speech or abuse, to stir up violence. Ilaiah aspires to the standards of scholarship practiced by Bhimrao Ambedkar: logic, evidence and illustrations from texts or real life. Both expose how conservative Hinduism is blind to social justice and its toxic outcomes. ...

    TOI on Oct. 22, 2017, 11:54 p.m.

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    ...Later, over lunch, he is asked by an incredulous sociologist why he didn’t pick up the $100 bill. “Well,” says the economist, “If the note was lying on the pavement, anyone passing it before or along with me would have seen and picked it up, right? Since nobody had done that, it’s rational to assume that there was no $100 bill on the footpath.” This is meant to illustrate the theory of ‘rational expectations’ — or ‘ratex’ as it’s called on campus — developed by a mathematical economist called John Muth in 1961. It was later applied, with devastating and often absurd outcomes, by macroeconomists like Robert Lucas Jr, Edward Prescott and Tom Sargent. On Monday, Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics for his efforts to exorcise economics of the baleful influence of the Ratex Man. Ratex Man is the ultimate optimising, rational incarnation of homo economicus. He has perfect knowledge and insight. He can correctly anticipate economic policy and makes adjustments for them. ...

    TOI on Oct. 9, 2017, 10:54 p.m.

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    ...Uttar Pradesh is home to 200 million people, the combined population of Italy, South Korea and Spain. Each average person in UP earns Rs 72,300 every year, around Rs 6,000 per month. The average ‘Mallu’ is two-and-a half times wealthier than the ‘Bhaiyya’. Kerala’s prosperity has come from decades of high investment in education, healthcare and human development. Malayalis acquired the ability to get skilled jobs across India. They were leaders of our global diaspora. Every 10 years, India conducts its census, a gigantic operation that contacts every adult in a country of 1.25 billion to discover how they live, what they do, learn and so on. In 2011, the census found that over 90% of households in Kerala had access to electricity. This lengthened the productive hours beyond sunset, gave children light to study by, businesses and stores to stay open longer and media, like radio, TV and films, to reach millions. It allowed the spread of technology, mobile phones and the internet. ...

    TOI on Oct. 6, 2017, 11:41 p.m.

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    ...It refers to the dreadful choice faced by Odysseus while sailing through the Strait of Messina, between Italy and Sicily. Get dashed to smithereens on the rocks of Scylla or sucked into the whirlpool of Charybdis. Rakshit and Co weren’t sailing ships or flying kites: they were saying New Delhi had dug itself so deep into a fiscal hole that its only choice was to splurge and break the bank, or get stingy and choke the life out of growth. They used jargon, but you get the drift. Flashback to September 2014, when PM Narendra Modi unveiled a scheme called, ‘Make in India’ (MII), with a gear-and-cogs lion logo. Three years later MII has, literally, gone off the rails. By October next year, work was supposed to start on the largest MII project: a $2.5 billion venture by America’s GE to make diesel-electric locomotives in Marhaura, in Chhapra, Bihar. ...

    TOI on Oct. 1, 2017, 1 a.m.

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    ...Since then, the online version of his story has received many comments that compensate for lack of linguistic virtuosity with vitriol and bile. The story, ‘Fewer Working Women in India than in Nepal’ (goo.gl/4ytB iQ), cites a recent study by the World Bank written by economist Luis Andres and four co-authors. It tries to answer a puzzle. Measured by GDP, India’s economy has grown over the last 20 years, but the employment of women has shrunk. What’s Cooking? This is contrary to the experience of almost every other country. In the US, China, Japan and Europe, economic growth is accompanied by more women in the workforce. Here, women’s employment has fallen off a cliff during growth. Around 10 years ago, 43% of Indian women found work. Today, this number, covering women in cities and villages, has dropped sharply to 27.4%. Women’s unemployment is more miserable only in Pakistan, where less than 25% of women work. ...

    TOI on Sept. 22, 2017, 12:13 a.m.

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    ...In the first quarter, profits shrank. Businesses are struggling to understand the goods and services tax (GST), supposed to simplify our earlier indirect taxes. The gap between imports and exports is widening and GDP growth is down. Money Flees, Through FIIs… Figuratively, there’s blood on the streets. Global investors ought to be gorging on Indian stocks. Well, no. In August, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold around Rs 17,000 crore worth of paper assets. Through the first four trading days till September 6, FIIs sold every day. Remember, these are sales net of purchases. September’s FII sell-off is already Rs 3,500 crore. In a month and four days, FIIs have sold around $3 billion worth of assets. Domestic institutions have tried, heroically, to stanch this outflow, with little success. A lot of folks in the markets are wondering what went wrong. ...

    TOI on Sept. 7, 2017, 10:57 p.m.