Private Schools in the Desh

On a more positive note…. City Journal has a review of a fantastic new book chronicling the untold education successes in the 3rd world – “The Beautiful Tree“.

University of Newcastle professor James Tooley journeyed to Hyderabad, India in early 2000 at the behest of the World Bank, to study private schools there. Or, more specifically, to study familiar private schools–that is, those that served the children of middle-class and wealthy families.

But while on a sightseeing excursion to the city’s teeming slums, Tooley observed something peculiar: private schools were just as prevalent in these struggling areas as in the nicer neighborhoods. Everywhere he spotted hand-painted signs advertising locally run educational enterprises. “Why,” he wondered, “had no one I’d worked with in India told me about them?”

The reason no one had “told him about them” was because these private schools were non-chartered, private enterprises operating under the government’s radar — aka “unrecognized institutions.” Instead of the sometimes hundreds of dollars charged by yuppy private schools, these unrecognized institutions often charged as little as $1-$2 per child per month.

I suppose before we get into any other details about these schools, question #1 is – “so how good are they?” And it turns out they are astonishly good -

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The Monkey Man Cometh

In between favorites like WWII documentaries, Modern Marvels, and Gangland, the History channel occasionally dabbles in supernatural themed programming. Normally, shows like Monster Quest make me change the channel about as fast as Designing Women. This time however, History will be taking on one of the more colorful incidents of desi-themed hysteria in recent times – no, not Sanjaya but close, the New Delhi Monkey Man

Engrained in the history and mythology of India are tales of a ferocious creature, half-man, half-ape. It has been dubbed the monkey-man and headlines across the world have told of the vicious nocturnal attacks that occurred in India’s capital, New Delhi. The city’s population was gripped with fear of a violent creature described by eyewitnesses as having sharp claws, fangs and dark hair. After three people died and dozens were hospitalized fleeing the creature, 3,000 police officers were tasked with capturing the animal, but came up empty handed…

Wednesday, June 10 09:00 PM
Thursday, June 11 01:00 AM
Sunday, June 14 02:00 PM

Should be interesting… Razib pointed out the wikipedia entry for the Monkey Man including some tragic cases of mistaken identity –

A four foot tall wandering Hindu sadhu was beaten up by an angry mob who mistook him for the Monkey Man.

On May 18, a van driver was set upon and sustained multiple fractures in another case of mistaken identification as Monkey

To prevent future cases of this ilk, Delhi Police have provided this helpful sketch so you can ID the real Monkey Man should you ever run into him – Continue reading

Posted in TV

Healthcare Innovation in the Desh

It’s been pointed out that when it comes to capitalism, there are often many cases where the poor can teach the rich a thing or 2. In the past, we profiled private education available even in slums. A few weeks ago, the Economist had a great article about the innovative entrepreneurship that’s starting to deliver healthcare to millions of previous unserved desis.

As the patient was chatting away, Vivek Jawali and his team had nearly completed his complex heart bypass. Because such “beating heart” surgery causes little pain and does not require general anaesthesia or blood thinners, patients are back on their feet much faster than usual. This approach, pioneered by Wockhardt, an Indian hospital chain, has proved so safe and successful that medical tourists come to Bangalore from all over the world.

This is just one of many innovations in health care that have been devised in India. Its entrepreneurs are channelling the country’s rich technological and medical talent towards frugal approaches that have much to teach the rich world’s bloated health-care systems.

There are hundreds of ways to slice and dice “innovation” but one of favorites buckets stuff into 2 broad categories – Continue reading

2 Desi Events in SF

Hey Mutineers – sorry I’ve been MIA the past few weeks but I’m back home for the immediate future and have a few posts queued up

First, TONIGHT, the SF Giants are hosting Indian Heritage night as they battle the Washington Nationals. Now I have no idea what the connecting line is between the two and even if it’s just a marketing gimmick, it’s still sorta cool. As a bonus, bring a group and you get a saffron-colored “SF Giants” Hindi T-shirt. .

“The evening will proudly reflect the culture and the people of this heritage night, all while enjoying AT&T Park and your SF Giants. Come out for this evening game against the Washington Nationals as we celebrate the Bay Area Indian residents and their families.”

Second – Ultrabrown’s Manish Vij & I have combined forces with a few other friends, and are dialing in long time mutineer DJ Drrrty Poonjabi to bring down the house this Saturday night –

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand

It’s become pretty old hat for us to find Bollywood rip offs of Western music and movies. Indian Superman is probably still my alltime favorite but this music video manages to chart new ground on an extremely crowded landscape.

Not only do they rip off the tune, they also rip off the band –

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, some Westerner’s gave the video the Tunak Tunak treatment. The result is below the fold –

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First they came after Paan, but I didn’t chew…

If you’re a race conspiracist, perhaps this is just the latest insult to fall upon the brothers in arms in Dubai. Going after paan is just an indirect, more politically correct way for the ruling elite to cram desi’s into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind box -

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Be warned: Spitting here could get you deported.

We’re not talking just any kind of spit. In this case, it’s the red-tinted juice of a popular Asian leaf that’s causing the fuss as Dubai tries to buff the image of its less-posh districts.

The crackdown — announced this week amid a broader effort to stem behavior deemed offensive — has stirred an unusual Arab-Asian culture clash in a city where the friction is often between Western ways grating against conservative Gulf sensibilities.

…”It’s like telling an Italian not to have an espresso,” said Pakistani security guard Munir Ahmed.

On the other hand, maybe paan spitting is just gross and Dubai’s officials really are trying to clean up the place. Though it runs against my usually libertarian sensitivities, I’m reminded of Lee Kuan Yew’s recipe for wealth in Singapore

The difficult part was getting the people to change their habits so that they behaved more like first world citizens, not like third world citizens spitting and littering all over the place.

That was the difficult part. So, we had campaigns to do this, campaigns to do that. We said, “Look, if you don’t do this, you won’t get the jobs. You must make this place like the countries they came from. Then, they are comfortable. Then they’ll do business here. Then, you’ll have a job. Then, you’ll have homes, schools, hospitals, etc.” That’s a long process.


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Desis Can Save Us… Part II

A few months ago, I mentioned a unique proposal from Alan Greenspan for addressing our housing-led recession – basically, import desis to shore up the buyer side of the market –

Here We Come to Save the Day… Again.

“The most effective initiative, though politically difficult, would be a major expansion in quotas for skilled immigrants,” he said. The only sustainable way to increase demand for vacant houses is to spur the formation of new households. Admitting more skilled immigrants, who tend to earn enough to buy homes, would accomplish that while paying other dividends to the U.S. economy.

He estimates the number of new households in the U.S. currently is increasing at an annual rate of about 800,000, of whom about one third are immigrants. “Perhaps 150,000 of those are loosely classified as skilled,” he said. “A double or tripling of this number would markedly accelerate the absorption of unsold housing inventory for sale — and hence help stabilize prices.”

In the meantime, several other pundits have come forth with similar proposals including Thomas Friedman

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Aristotle as Kerala’s Suicide Cure?


p>I came across a brief blogpost about the correlation between literacy, GNP and suicide rates in Europe and it spawned some rambling thoughts Perhaps this is exactly what blogging’s meant for -




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Does He Have An Answer?

Dr Andrej Maruai, a Slovene psychiatrist involved in organizing the conference, presented a paper called “Suicide in Europe: Genetics, Literacy and Poverty” which convincingly shows the links between the social factors of literacy and poverty, and suicidal behavior. . . .

According to Maruai’s theory, the higher any given country’s literacy rate and the lower that country’s GNP, the more likely the country is to have a high suicide rate. The theory can be convincingly applied to the countries with the highest suicide rates in Europe, namely the three Baltic states, Hungary and Slovenia, where literacy is at almost 100 percent and where the GNP and standard of living have been adversely affected by the transition process.

Maruai’s hypothesis certainly fits one of the oft-cited downsides of “the Kerala model”

…among other states of India Kerala has highest suicidal rate. This is in spite of the fact that Kerala is having the highest rate of literacy and Kerala is having an accepted model for Health Care Delivery System. In this context it is also important to note that Kerala is the largest market of psychiatric drugs in South India and our state is having the highest rate of unemployment and the highest per capita alcoholic consumption.

Why is this so?

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“Slumdog Thousandaire”

One of the things Slumdog Millionaire does a great job of is implicitly portraying is the economic seachange in India over the past 20 years – a rising tide may not do it equally, but it does eventually lift all boats including Jamal Malik’s. dug into this a bit more & came away with lessons about India’s economy and hopefully ours as well –

“One IT company doesn’t just employ computer professionals,” says Dalmia. “It also needs landscaping services, cleaning services, and restaurants. There was this tremendous spillover effect that allowed people to lift themselves out of poverty.”

With politics & conventional wisdom in the US tipping towards equating deregulation with financial ruin (contrary to the the actual Bush legacy) it’s nice to see the gains from liberalizing markets celebrated elsewhere.

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Thomas Friedman on Desi Muslims

I‘m pretty lukewarm on Thomas Friedman overall but he’s built quite a franchise on turning a good phrase or 2 and he does occasionally deliver some solid bits. Lately, in a media environment where every other article about Islam involves beheading, suicide bombs or sharia, he’s been doing a great job of recognizing the important & emerging pockets of liberalism in Muslim society writ large. In Iraq, for example, he recently noted an important reversal of the usual storyline for what happens to an intellectual who violates Arab society’s norms –

Combatting Islamophobia His Own Way…

Here’s a story you don’t see very often. Iraq’s highest court told the Iraqi Parliament last Monday that it had no right to strip one of its members of immunity so he could be prosecuted for an alleged crime: visiting Israel for a seminar on counterterrorism. The Iraqi justices said the Sunni lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, had committed no crime and told the Parliament to back off.

That’s not all. The Iraqi newspaper Al-Umma al-Iraqiyya carried an open letter signed by 400 Iraqi intellectuals, both Kurdish and Arab, defending Alusi. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of press freedom. I can’t imagine any other Arab country today where independent judges would tell the government it could not prosecute a parliamentarian for visiting Israel — and intellectuals would openly defend him in the press.

More stories like this & I believe Islamophobia worldwide would be taken down a notch or two. Towards the same end, Friedman has a great column this week about the Indian Muslim community’s response to the Mumbai attackers & how it contrasts with too many Arab Muslims –

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