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October 2004

Don't you dare to defend yourself?

Here's a great article on how right to self-defence has been progressively taken away from English citizens .
When, last Christmas, thousands of Radio 4's Today listeners called for legislation authorising them to protect their homes by any means necessary, the proposal was immediately denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable, blood-stained piece of legislation".

The authorities instead advice people to retreat when attacked at home. They are not supposed to keep any weapons to protect themselves. Is it any wonder that violent crimes such burglary have been growing steadily in England? In fact, most of the burglaries happen when somebody is at home as burglars know that they cannot defend themselves. Heck, the police have been prosecuting homeowners for defending their property and person. People jailed for defending their home against burglars are not easily released for fear that they might harm burglars:

Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for killing one burglar and wounding another, was denied parole because he posed a danger to other burglars. "It cannot possibly be suggested," the government lawyers argued, "that members of the public cease to be so whilst committing criminal offences" adding, "society can not possibly condone their (unlawful) murder or injury".

To make matters ridiculous, police even prosecute public for defending themselves using imitation weapons:

In recent years governments have even felt it necessary to prevent the public from defending themselves with imitation weapons. In 1994 an English home-owner, armed with a toy gun, managed to detain two burglars who had broken into his house while he called the police. When the officers arrived, they arrested the home-owner for using an imitation gun to threaten or intimidate. In a similar incident the following year, when an elderly woman fired a toy cap pistol to drive off a group of youths who were threatening her, she was arrested for putting someone in fear. Now the police are pressing Parliament to make imitation guns illegal.

In US by contrast, strong right to self-defense is ensured. This results in low rate of burglaries and violent crimes.

Bharateeya Blog Mela - Call for entries

I will be hosting the next Bharateeya Blog Mela on Nov. 4th, 2004. Please send me nominations of your favorite posts. You can send them at ashish_hanwadikar - at - yahoo - dot - com or leave them in the comments. Rules are pretty simple:
  1. Posts should be preferrably dated between Oct. 29 to Nov. 4th.
  2. You can nominate your own posts or those authored by others.
  3. Posts must be related to India or written by Indians
  4. Personal posts are fine but they should have some relevance for others.
  5. Send your posts by Nov. 3rd midnight.

You can checkout last few melas were hosted at AnarCapLib, Aadisht, MadMan's Web, and SelectiveAmnesia. The full schedule for Blog Mela is here.

nBlog Mela at AnarCapLib

Join the fun of Blog Mela at AnarCapLib! Next week, Blog Mela will be hosted by yours truly! I will soon post guidelines for submission. But meanwhile, please email me at ashish_hanwadikar @ (or leave it in the comments) any good posts you see!

When I started reading blogs, various carnivals such as Carnival of the Vanities and Carnival of the Capitalists helped introduced me to many great blogs that I now frequent. It also gave me tremendous inspiration to start my own blog. Without Blog Mela I would have never known about great many Indian blogs. So, please spread the fun among your friends and contacts who have not yet been introduced to blogosphere.

Is Taxation a legal theft?

Yazad Jal at AnarCapLib compares Customs duty collection by Govt. to highway robbery! I lean heavily towards being a libertarian and hate ubiquitous Govt. However, this comparison really shocked me! At a minimum libertarians are supposed to believe in sanctity of property rights. Highway is a Govt. property and hence levying Customs duty is within Govt. rights. If the highway had been a private property and the owner had levied usage fee or tax on goods then it wouldn't be called a theft. Then why would it be a theft if owner happens to be the Govt.? Just like any other private entity, Govt. had built the road, it maintains the road, polices traffic and so on. Highway robbers don't build road, nor do they maintain them! They occupy a Highway by force and demand ransom. Thus, Customs duty collection by Govt. (on Govt. built roads) is not a theft.

The issue, separate from above, is public (or Govt.) ownership of roads (or other infrastructure). I believe even basic infrastructure can be built, owned and operated by privately. Govt. unnecessarily monopolizes its role in infrastructure business. This reduces the amount of capital available for infrastructure and causes substandard and inadequate infrastructure. It will be better if Govt. focuses instead on making sure that private owners of infrastructure are able to charge and collect users of infrastructure! We should never confuse the two issues.

Poverty and NGOs

Via InstaPundit, SEBASTIAN MALLABY recounts how Western NGOs sometimes hurt the poor in their enthusiasm to fight for their own pet causes:
The war against poverty is threatened by friendly fire. A swarm of media-savvy Western activists has descended upon aid agencies, staging protests to block projects that allegedly exploit the developing world. The protests serve professional agitators by keeping their pet causes in the headlines. But they do not always serve the millions of people who live without clean water or electricity.

He takes the case of a dam that is being built in Uganda on Nile river:

The International Rivers Network, based in Berkeley, California, maintained that the Ugandan environmental movement was outraged at the likely damage to waterfalls at the site, and that the poor who lived there would be uprooted from their land for the sake of electricity they couldn’t afford. It was surely a clash that went to the heart of the globalization struggle. Was the NGO movement acting as a civilized check on industrialization, standing up for millions of poor people whose views the World Bank ignored? Or was it retarding the battle against poverty by withholding electricity that would fuel economic growth, ultimately benefiting poor citizens?

He interviews the poor who the NGO claims are getting exploited:

My next move was to visit Bujagali. I met up with a Ugandan sociologist who knew the region well and promised to translate for me. She stopped at a cluster of buildings on the edge of the dam site to check in with the local government representative who, far from threatening to call the cops, greeted us cheerfully. For the next three hours, we interviewed villager after villager and found the same story: The “dam people” had come and promised generous financial terms, and the villagers were happy to accept them and relocate. My sociologist companion said we might have sample bias because we were interviewing men, who might value cash more than the land that women tended. So we interviewed some women, who offered the same pro-project line. The only people who objected to the dam were those living just outside its perimeter. They were angry because the project would not affect them, meaning no generous payout.

The story sounds familiar! Publicity hungry people like Arundhati Roy might have damaged the cause of fighting poverty by obstructing projects like Narmada dam.

India's poor economic performance

I was reviewing some historical economic data on GDP, Population and per-capita GDP for various countries in the World. I knew that India lags behind many Asian countries in terms of GDP and per-capita GDP. But the magnitude surprised me! I compared the figures for 1950 (when India became a Republic) and 2000 for various Asian countries. Here are the tabulated results (some of figures could have been rounded. Blame MS Excel):

Table 1: Year 1950

Country Population (000 at mid-year) GDP (millions) Per Capita GDP
China - Chine 546815 239903 439
India - Inde 359000 222222 619
Indonesia - Indonésie 79043 66358 840
Japan - Japon 83805 160966 1921
South Korea - Corée du Sud 20846 16045 770
Thailand - Thaïlande 20042 16375 817
Taiwan 7981 7378 924
Hong Kong 2237 4962 2218
Malaysia - Malaisie 6434 10032 1559
Singapore - Singapour 1022 2268 2219

Table 2: Year 2000


Per Capita GDP

(000 at mid-year)
GDP (millions)
China - Chine 1,264,093 4,329,913 3,425
India - Inde 1,007,702 1,924,297 1,910
Indonesia - Indonésie 210,875 675,503 3,203
Japan - Japon 126,700 2,669,450 21,069
South Korea - Corée du Sud 47,261 677,871 14,343
Thailand - Thaïlande 62,352 395,046 6,336
Taiwan 22,151 368,635 16,642
Hong Kong 7,116 152,980 21,499
Malaysia - Malaisie 21,793 171,553 7,872
Singapore - Singapour 4,152 92,198 22,207

Table 3: Comparison between 1950 and 2000.

Country Population ratio GDP Per Capital GDP
Ratio (2000/1950) Ratio (2000/1950)
China - Chine 2.332401 19.04849 8.166901
India - Inde 2.851226 9.014378 3.16158
Indonesia - Indonésie 2.71122 10.5156 3.878547
Japan - Japon 1.514134 16.30483 10.76842
South Korea - Corée du Sud 2.284371 43.54758 19.06327
Thailand - Thaïlande 3.143804 24.55921 7.81194
Taiwan 2.794441 49.01477 17.5401
Hong Kong 3.223292 30.89198 9.583983
Malaysia - Malaisie 3.455041 17.1861 4.974211
Singapore - Singapour 4.207435 39.83862 9.468626

What is India's excuse for such a dismal economic performance? Large population? No, because China had more population than India in 1950 and 2000! Hong Kong and Singapore had increased their population by a ratio of 3.2 and 4.2 resp. while India increased her by 2.85. The China's GDP grew by 19 times in 50 years while the figures for Hong Kong and Singapore are 30 and 39 resp. British looted us? China, and South Korea were terrible in 1950. China had a bloody civil war and resulting rise of communism, while South Korea was invaded before by Japan, and ravaged by war with North Korea.

Other than our failed economic policies (Nehru and Indira Gandhi are to be blamed here) I cannot find any other explaination! The facts and figures are just too dammning!

The Excel spreadsheet has this note regarding the source of the data:
* Source: Virtually all the data are derived from The World Economy: Historical Statistics,
OECD Development Centre, Paris 2003, which contains detailed source notes.
See also The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, OECD Development Centre, Paris 2001.
Figures for 1820 onwards are annual, whereever possible. For earlier years,
benchmark figures are shown for 1 AD, 1000 AD, 1500, 1600 and 1700.
Figures for 1820 onwards are annual, wherever possible.

For updates of the GDP and per capita GDP figures beyond 2001,
readers may find it helpful to refer to the ggdc database (

Update: I tried to format the tables so as to fit within the margins. Thanks for all those who gave feedback on the page problems. Unfortunately, I could not make the tables better than this. Any help will be appreciated.

John Kerry will be a great President, but

James Taranto points out this quotes by John Kerry from the first presidential debate:
  • "I'll never give a veto to any country over our security. But . . ."
  • "I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are. But . . ."
  • "We have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we're there. We have to succeed. We can't leave a failed Iraq. But . . ."
  • "I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence. But . . ."
  • "I have nothing but respect for the British, Tony Blair, and for what they've been willing to do. But . . ."
  • "What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders. You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But . . ."
  • "I couldn't agree more that the Iraqis want to be free and that they could be free. But . . ."
  • "No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But . . ."
  • "I've never wavered in my life. I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force. But . . ."

This may make many to vote for John Kerry. But ...