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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Congrats to India

India now has a satellite orbiting Mars:
India put a satellite into Mars orbit early Wednesday, the only nation to have done so on a maiden voyage and the first in Asia to reach the red planet.
 And unbelievably inexpensively too!
Mangalyaan, Hindi for Mars craft, cost $74 million ... [Prime Minister] Modi boasted in June that India had spent less than Hollywood had on producing the film “Gravity” to reach the red planet.
A second cost comparison is that $74 million could buy you (or them) about 50 cruise missiles.  The per mile cost is stunningly inexpensive; as Tyler Cowen points out, the mission was cheaper per mile than a cab ride in Delhi.

It just goes to show that it's a lot easier to pull off impressive feats of rocket engineering than social engineering.  And yet the saying is "it's not rocket science" when implying something isn't all that difficult. Shouldn't it be, "It's not social science?"

16 comments:

erp said...

Kudos indeed!

Clovis e Adri said...

India has always been a mystery to me.

They invented the zero, had always mathematical geniuses throughout their history, among other very gifted people in other areas of knowledge too.

Yet... they did not revert much of that for economic greatness.

And guess what? You can't blame welfare in this case. I wonder how our Libertarian friends here can deal with that :-)

erp said...

Interestingly I had a chance to spend several hours chatting with a young (26) Indian student who just got a master's degree in electronics/computer science.

Good looking, spoke English with just the slightest adorable accent. He was traveling to start his first job at a salary of several hundred thousand dollars/year.

His plans: Get experience, make some money and return to India to bring his country into the first world financially and every other way. His time-table is ten years.

He was delight and if there many more like him, I'd put my money on India becoming a force of nature in the not too distant future.

Howard said...

Clovis,

Here are two things to ponder regarding development in India: 1) effects of the caste system 2) at the time of independence the intellectual inheritance in the policy arena was that of Fabian socialism

Annoying Old Guy said...

What Howard said, plus you can correlate recent (last few decades) economic advancement in India to shifts toward a more free market economy. It's good empirical evidence for the economic theories I espouse.

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

Thanks, since I've never heard about Fabian socialism before, I've learned something.


AOG,

---
It's good empirical evidence for the economic theories I espouse.
---
Sir, you are relentless - I give you that.

Harry Eagar said...

I would not have called Gandhi a Fabian, or any other kind of socialist. The Nehru government was socialist, true, but not hard to figure considering his experience of Tory economics and administration.

Indeed, why was the Raj, run by rightwing classical economic liberals, not a modern economic powerhouse?

Think, must think hard.

erp said...

Harry, I guess you missed Indian history in your vast studies.

Gandhi was quoted as saying that he espoused socialism as a perfect system, but only if could be imposed without violence.

Annoying Old Guy said...

I would not have called Gandhi a Fabian

No doubt, but not particularly meaningful from some one who calls government the private sector.

Howard said...

... the intellectual inheritance in the policy arena was that of Fabian socialism

Many of the people involved in governance were educated in British schools in India and England. They imbibed what was intellectually fashionable. "Personnel is policy"

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

A few questions:

- If India ihnerited this Fabian socialism from Britain, and it was a significant reason for its economic failure, why is it not true for Britain itself?

- How do you take in account the other milleniuns of India's history prior to Fabian socialism in your framework? Relative to its whole history, I can't see why the particular mindset of "people involved in governance" of this small time frame is preponderant.

- Couldn't be the case that culture - and religion, in particular Hinduism - would be a more important factor?

Howard said...

Clovis,

I was trying to focus on why India lags so much in modern times. The longer historical question is obviously more involved. You could reshape the question and take it in many different directions. Here is one to try. It starts with India but moves on to the question around the world...the question of the Great Enrichment.

Enough Brits eventually realized that things were not going well. When they were ready to move on they were fortunate enough to have Lady Thatcher to lead. (insert epic rant by Harry here)

erp said...

... bbbbut Howard, the Iron Lady didn't play nice with union leaders.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] Yet... they did not revert much of that for economic greatness.

And guess what? You can't blame welfare in this case. I wonder how our Libertarian friends here can deal with that :-)


As it happens, I get to India a fair amount: six times, out of six, more often than I wanted in the last year alone.

The entire country is suffocating under an invasive, all encompassing, soul deadening, corrupt, bureaucracy.

Kind of the opposite of libertarian.

And then there was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhian_economics>Ghandi's economics</a>, within which there was more than enough anti-human twaddle to set back India by 50 years.

Hey Skipper said...

And here is the NYT on the subject in a rare moment of good sense.

Harry Eagar said...

Gandhi recommended everyone in India spend an hour a day spinning yarn by hand. I cannot think of anything less compatible with Fabian socialism.