The Modern tale of Ant & Grasshopper: Global Inequality -Lessons for India

When I was in the engineering college I came across with a modern version of the ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ from the Aesop fables. In short the story goes like this:

The Old Version: The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and Laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or Shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and Laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed. While others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper Next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arvind Kejriwal stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house. Anna Hazzare goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter. Amnesty International and UN criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt Support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance). Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

The Ant is unable to cope its retroactive taxes, its home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV. Arvind Kejriwal calls it ‘ A Triumph of Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’. UN invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly. The PM takes the credit for always caring about the ‘aam’ Grasshopper.

Many years later, The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar Company in Silicon Valley, hundreds of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere In India, and as a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the Grasshoppers, India is still a developing country.’

At that time it made so much sense to me as why there is inequality in the world. I wondered why just people can’t be just like ants, work hard for themselves, save, invest and be wealthy. I didn’t realize the story of the world isn’t as simple as the above story. But now, after acquiring some basic knowledge of the world, I think there are few assumptions in the story which doesn’t hold true in the real world. First, Ants and grasshoppers don’t have the equal access to the resources in the real world. Secondly, they are not equally equipped to use those resources. Third the world doesn’t work in isolation. The ants are dependent on grasshoppers and vice versa. There is a certain kind of hierarchy in place which make this relation and the whole context a bit complex. Over that there are so many sociopolitical realities which can’t be ignored. Keeping all these flawed assumptions in mind, this story doesn’t capture the core problem of chronic inequality of India and the world. As Thomas Piketty said, “Intellectual and political debate about the distribution of wealth has long been based on an abundance of prejudice and a paucity of fact.” Thus, this phenomenon should be analyzed by more than mere stories, opinions and fantasies.

Thomas Piketty’s recent book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ tries to that. His approach was simple. He collected the data on income and wealth and then defined the two basic categories, wealth and income, broadly and assertively but in a way nobody had really bothered to before. The book’s terms and explanations are utterly simple; with a myriad of historical data, Piketty reduces the story of capitalism to a clear narrative. Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital (r) outstrips the rate of growth (g), inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth (r>g). (Thomas Piketty, 2014)

Now, this huge wealth inequality where world top ten percentile controls the 90 percent of the world wealth, shows that there is something wrong with the way current world is operating. If we see most of today’s global system of production are capitalistic. And in Capitalism, there are two major players firms and the workers. Now the firms represent the demand and the workers as supply data. By way of combining different variables, which broadly cover the household, personal, labor market characteristics, the results of our paper tend to suggest that wage function in India is bound up with conventional variables predicted by human capital theory, personal and social dualistic identities, and human development. (Bino Paul, D & Krishna, 2012). But there is one important distinction here i.e. firms have capital with them and capital itself can earn generate income which cause the wage gap to grow exponentially. Whereas the workers’ only source of income is through jobs which are again dictated by the firms most of the time, and amidst the risk of the markets and without the proper social security nets, things become even worse for workers.

In India the inequality gap is as stark as US and the reasons are not that different. There is a huge disparity among the wages of the workers, supervisors, managers and top executives. And not only that the real wages of the workers didn’t increase much with respect to the inflation whereas the supervisors, managers and top executives earned huge premiums in formal manufacturing sector in India (Krishna et al., 2017). The wages of the workers has been defined as functions of different variables, which broadly cover the household, personal, labor market characteristics. The study conducted by Bino Paul and Krishna concluded that the wage function in India is bound up with conventional variables predicted by human capital theory, personal and social dualistic identities, and human development (Muralidharan, D, & Murti, 2014)

The lessons which can be drawn from Piketty’s book can be used be India. According to Piketty, there are forces of convergence and there are forces of divergence which acts on the inequality gap. Now India has a huge labour supply and as per Piketty there are two major forces of convergence for the huge inequality gap: The law of supply and demand and the diffusion of knowledge and skill. As the supply is already in abundance, it will be prudent to focus on diffusion of knowledge and skill. The education system from the grassroots level needs to be inclusive of people from the all different strata of the society. Education and opportunity to education is the biggest equalizer of all. Scandinavian countries have understood it well and we can see the difference not only in their wealth equality but also Human development index and other indicators. Thus, focus on inclusive public education system which helps in diffusing the knowledge and skills is one of the most essential step towards reducing the harrowing wealth gap.

Acting against the forces of convergence are the forces of divergence which are the inequality r > g, combined with the inequality of returns on capital as a function of initial wealth, and these can lead to excessive and lasting concentration of capital: no matter how justified inequalities of wealth may be initially, fortunes can grow and perpetuate themselves beyond all reasonable limits and beyond any possible rational justification in terms of social utility (Thomas Piketty, 2014).

To curb these forces of divergence, Piketty recommends progressive tax and as much as 80% to the top and present it as a utopian idea. He says,

“If democracy is to regain control over the globalized financial capitalism of this century, it must also invent new tools, adapted to today’s challenges. The ideal tool would be a progressive global tax on capital, coupled with a very high level of international financial transparency.”

IMG_3504Thomas Piketty is right about Progressive tax: It will be able to take away the undue advantage of the rich people compounding their wealth. Now progressive tax is a regulatory mechanism that can in some way reduce the gap but it comes with its own set of caution. It certainly allows to put a check on wealth accumulation but on the other hand, it start punishing some people for their work ethics and risk taking abilities. It takes away the motivation to work hard, to go that extra mile to acquire the skills which takes months or years. Thus, there has to be a fine balance in using progressive taxes because regulations curb freedom and as Milton Friedman has rightly said,

 

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

To conclude, ants and grasshoppers of today need freedom and equality of opportunities. Then the story of ant and the grasshopper will hold somewhat true in actual world. Because in the world there will always be some ants and there always be some grasshoppers and there should be something for everyone. Let us not punish ants for working hard and let’s not condone the laziness of the grasshoppers but before that we have a long way to go. First we need to achieve the equality of opportunity for all.

References:

Piketty, T., & Goldhammer, A. (2014). Capital in the twenty-first century.

D, B. P. G., & Krishna, M. (2012). Labour Market in Urban Agglomerations : A Case from an Indian Global City, 3, 453–478. https://doi.org/10.1177/097172181201700306

https://www.ft.com/content/202ed286-6832-11df-a52f-00144feab49a

Krishna, A. M., Bino, P. G. D., Indian, S., Relations, I., Issue, S., Krishna, M., & D, B. P. G. (2017). What Explains Wage in India ? Published by : Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/23510794 What Explains Wage in India ?, 48(3), 487–499.

Muralidharan, T., D, B. P. G., & Murti, A. B. (2014). Should Real Wages of Workers Go Up in Indian Manufacturing ?, xlix(30), 153–162.

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Malala Yousafzai

Salute n Get well soon ….. The paragon of Courage
Salute : Malala Yousafzai, 13 ( Get Well Soon )

At the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai took on the Taliban by giving voice to her dreams. As turbaned fighters swept through her town in northwestern Pakistan in 2009, the tiny schoolgirl spoke o

ut about her passion for education — she wanted to become a doctor, she said — and became a symbol of defiance against Taliban subjugation.

Malala Yousafzai is the first Pakistani child who has been nominated for the Peace award on Universal children’s day. This year a total of five children have been nominated from around the globe and Malala is the only one from Pakistan.

On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen answered Ms. Yousafzai’s courage with bullets, singling out the 14-year-old on a bus filled with terrified schoolchildren, then shooting her in the head and neck. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack. All three survived, but late on Tuesday doctors said that Ms. Yousafzai was in critical condition at a hospital in Peshawar, with a bullet possibly lodged close to her brain.

We truly salute your efforts, Malala. May you continue to work for the betterment of Pakistan and for the children who are denied the basic right to education. Pakistan needs people like you.

Like her official page

http://www.facebook.com/malalayousafzaiofficial

At the Advent of Enigineering Final Year

WE ALL CAN DO IT

Well its hard to believe that our three years of degree have ended. Just one year more n we will be engineers.

Jee taan nai kar reha  par hun assi proffesional life wal pair pattan ja rahe haan…..

Yaar kyu na hun assi thoda serious ho ke apne aan wale future nu vekhiye. Bas hun ehi ik saal da samma hai jidde wich assi apna career decide karna hai. Eh vi sach hai ki bahutiya ne sadde wicho eh hi nai sochya hai ki assi ki karange agge.

I just want to share this …. ki lets challenge various exams like GATE , CAT , CDS , IES , ICS etc. so that we can win them. meh vi try kar reha haan. ho sakda ke assi shayad pehli waar wich na kaamyaab na hoyie but kadde ta hovange. je na vi hovange kuch kuch na kuch sikhange hi. As they say failure is not crime…but Low aim is crime.

Its time to groom our personality.Time to have a positive change.

U know we all r intellgent n have talent . bas we have to find dat within ourselves n ignite dat spark. Outside our campus the life is really harsh. bahut competition hai. may be we will realise wen we will pass out.

Frienz… lets use this time to d most…whether its training time or studying semester so that we can have some decnt job in our hands.

n frienz try to learn english also… menu vi bahut ghat aundi hai , but i m trying to giv my best in it. Bhavien punjabi saadi maan boli hai but naal naal english sikh ke assi punjabi bhulange te nai na…. so its better to have two language than one. As it is international language .. we should be fluent in it o that aleast we can express ourselves.

Our college , especially civil deptt. is also mentoring us. Our parents , our teachers n our college have lot of hopes from us. lts time to fulfill all those dreams.  For those who have training in 7th semester coaching classes are being arranged for GATE aspirants which will start from August. So those who would like to do higher studies ( Mtech) , they should attend those classes. Those who have other aims can work on their respective exams by having coaching or even without coaching.

I hope this coming year will bring loads of good news from my batch mates.

Wish u all d very best !!

Running: ‘To run is to fun’

To run is fun

A lot of people run to see who is the fastest

but I run to see who got the most guts.’

Most of us will like running when we are chased by a dog or so. But for some it is really fun.

To many it as a painful exercise but its an art of getting into furnace and coming out as hard as burnt brick, both physically and mentally.

Sometimes a question pop up, why to run? Well there may be different reasons for different people as in this fast forward world.

A rich man run to digest his bread

Whereas a poor man to have it.’

Life has become so hectic that people hardly give attention to eating habits and health. We humans, are constantly improving technology to make life simpler and easier but doesn’t its getting complex?

Life is to enjoy. Running is beautiful. There are bits of happiness is running. Running makes us realize to enjoy every single breath of life. Spending our day, we don’t realize our sub-conscious mind is busy in taking breaths, until we run.

Running gives hope. It teaches many thngs and improve personality. It tells the importance of each breath and even the water tastes best after running. While running, time seems to stretch and each second becomes long, there is constant war going on between head and heart whether to stop or keep going. Streams of thoughts come and go in mind, determination begin to shake, endurance shatters, every step feels like pulled by gravity of Jupiter. Most of the time a thought at the point of exhaustion ‘ Why the hell I am running?’ Heart says stop,stop but the purose, the aim in your heart gives you strength to go on, as they say

When the going gets tough,

The tougher gets going.’

Medically, its an exercise which have no alternative. Many health problems are cured just by running.

It improves digestive system, respiratory sytem, blood circulation etc., makes you fit and slim and the list goes on.

Well you can find many reasons apart from these. Its certainly a good way to keep both mind and body stress free, healthy and sound. Psychologically it gives you strength and makes you believe in you.

There is runner in everyone of us, you just need to explore it.

Remember, To run is fun and Life is to enjoy.

STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH !!!!!

One day I read in newspaper……….. beautiful lines !!

” Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown out your own inner voice and have the courage to follow your heart and intution. They somehow know already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

by STEVE JOBS :

The lines has really touched me. I didn’t knew who Steve Job was ….

Few days after when i was surfing on the net, I came across Steve Job video on you tube. It was his speech to passing out graduates of Stanford university. He was delivering his speech on his life and how he became CEO of APPLE just from a college drop-out. His company had also one day thrown him away…… (surprising !!)

His stroy is not less than great personalities who always had bounced back whenever they fell. The complete speech was worth listening but his last word induced a flamboyant energy in me.” STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH “ was the words he said.

I wrote in my mind , my heart. Moreover i added it with my name on ORKUT. Many of my friends asked why I have written that??? They asked if i want to remain hungry and foolish??? Really how can one know the meaning of words if one does not know in which context or manner they have been said. Just take the case of “GOD IS NOWHERE”. what can be interpret by reading it ?? Think !!!!

It depends upon you how you read it >><< It can be …. GOD IS NO WHERE or GOD IS NOW HERE.

There is one more example …. RUKO MAT CHALO !! Its upon you how you read it………. it can be RUKKO, MAT CHAL !or it can be… RUKKO MAT, CHALO ! There is complete transition in meaning.

I hope you must have got what i wanted to say………….

So, as i was telling about my friends ……. I replied them to me it means Stay fool to keep on learning in your life. Never feel or say that i have become  A  LEARNED PERSON now . That’s enough……No its not enough yaar. As it is said ….

” LIVE AS IF YOU WILL DIE THE NEXT DAY and LEARN AS IF YOU WILL NEVER DIE “

And stay hungry for purpose of life ……as somebody has said >>

” AS LONG AS YOU ARE ALIVE, THE PURPOSE OF YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER”

Stay hungry for success and achievement , to grow and keep on give yourself to betterment of the SOCIETY.

Never feel satisfied by your success. always stay hungry for that but simultaneously feel emtionally stable and THANK GOD for whatever he has provided us.

One thing more………

Never measure success wrongly. your success is not in comparison to others. You are the only competitor of yourself.

Set your own milestone and beat it !!!!!!!!!!!!

GO NOW ……….. Conquer the WORLD………..say………I WISH, I CAN and I WILL !!!!

BYE …its already 2:30 am and tommorow again …. have to go to College ;

Dated : 27 / JAN/2010