Has KaranThapar lied re “doctorate…from..Oxford”? A pity if so. Bodleian can’t find a record! And what about Bibek Debroy? Why all this bull-shit from Dilliwallahs?

I have not met Karan Thapar as far as I know. Back in 1975, when I was at LSE a cousin of his who was my friend mentioned he had finished a first degree at Cambridge and was passing through London, so I assumed he was ahead of me; looking it up yesterday, I find he graduated in economics at Cambridge in 1977 which meant we may have crossed paths at Cambridge as I went there as a Research Student to do my PhD in 1976 after finishing at the LSE.

Karan Thapar’s biography also said “he subsequently obtained a doctorate in International Relations from St Antony’s College Oxford”.


That’s interesting I said to myself, on what subject, I asked, so I inquired at the Bodleian Library.  Unfortunately, I am disappointed to say the Bodleian came up with nothing.  They said:

“I’m afraid that I can find no trace of a thesis by a “Karan Thapar”. There is nothing in our thesis card index, in our online catalogue, or in the ProQuest thesis index either in the UK/Irish section or internationally.

Karan Thapar does appear in the postgraduate student lists registered for an M.Litt. (initially termed “B.Litt.” – this is the same degree) in politics from 1977 until 1980, by that time with 3 extensions to the time limit for submission of a thesis. College was St Antony’s. Here is a scan of his last appearance in the 1980 list:

unnamedThere is no corresponding entry in the annual successful candidates lists that I can see (I have checked up to 1985). This I think is all the published information to hand. There is doubtless an explanation to be had in the departmental archives but it would not be available to a third party due to the UK’s Data Protection Act.”

Has Oxford made a mistake? Did Karan Thapar successfully get a doctoral degree there but there is no record of it? It is not logically impossible.  Or has he lied?

(No, it isn’t enough to say a public biography of a prominent Indian journalist and “media personality” is erroneous through no fault of his own: his registration for the BLitt/MLitt at Oxford is itself so obscure that mention of the College involved has to mean he is himself the source of the disinformation at some stage or other.)

A few years ago a Delhi Dolt was said to be in line for Deputy Governor Reserve Bank of India, he had made out he had a Princeton PhD and was actually in office as Director General of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, besides being a Manmohan Singh adviser (and favourite).

All false! I had innocently asked Princeton for his doctoral thesis…when they couldn’t find it, I asked him for it as perhaps there’d been a mistake. But no, it had been a lie! He resigned as Director Gen of NCAER, and as a Manmohan adviser too!

Why all this bull-shit from Dilliwallahs?

The Mother of All Delhi Academic Frauds of course has been the old Soviet spy affecting the Congress Party over years (& now BJP)

Not that BJP is any better… I had to ask my Cambridge stable-mate Bibek Debroy before Narendra Modi’s 2014 win:

 There is case after case…

E.g.  the sociologist who did some post-graduate research at the Indian Institute Management and now passes off as a pre-eminent historian with a doctoral degree from an institution that does not award any degrees…Etc etc etc

So I repeat

Why all this bull-shit from Dilliwallahs?


Delhi can never be improved — until the rest of India improves!

As a general rule, capital cities are economically unproductive places. They neither grow food nor create industry. What they produce, or are supposed to produce, are public discussion, debate, decisions, as well as data and information for governance of the country as a whole.  People who come to capital cities — whether politicians or foreign diplomats or businessmen or students or even bureaucrats and journalists — should come there only for  temporary purposes, and then, once their work or business is done,  leave for their own “native places”… 

Of course only one city is a capital city.  Other cities and towns develop naturally in response to economies of scale in commerce and industry. My second piece of academic research at Cambridge back in 1976-77, which I talked about at the Delhi School of Economics in 1977-78 as a  Visiting Assistant Professor, had to do with India and other developing countries markedly being “Dual Economies”, where city and countryside, towns and metros and hinterland, are linked continuously by that wonderful two-way mass movement known as internal migration….

There is obviously seasonal migration of agricultural workers in search of urban employment during the time a crop is growing in the ground, returning home for the harvest and other festivals.  Beyond such seasonal flows, we may expect  rural-urban migration to continue depending on individual family calculations of expected employment, income, benefits etc, until as it were, the last person who has been thinking about migrating from village to town or from town to city decides not to move but to remain where he/she is.  Families typically maximise their well-being by having some members here, other members there or there etc, meeting up again during seasonal festivals when they can.  Besides, with modern commuter railways, large numbers of day-workers and vendors travel in and out of cities from the towns and villages every day.

The academic literature is vast and excellent, starting with Dale Jorgensen “The development of a dual economy”, 1961 EJ, Harris-Todaro, 1970, AER, and easily available, Jerome Rothenberg’s 1975 MIT discussion paper “On the economics of internal migration” http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/63948/onmicroeconomics00roth.pdf?sequence=1… See too e.g. from 2010 http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/conferences/2010-edia/papers/275-eberhardt.pdf

In case of Delhi, despite its lack of water and its inhospitable climatic conditions on the edge of the Rajasthan desert, the British stamped it to become their Imperial child in India for ever more…  Yet even the British routinely fled to Simla or England every summer — as the current Delhi elite flees abroad to their exported children in America, Europe, Australia etc…  

Since British times, Delhi has been pampered with India’s public resources.  Not making its own food or clothing, it must import everything from the rest of India. After 1947,  millions of Hindu & Sikh refugees from the new Pakistan set up shop… then came migrants from all over, Bengal, the South, North East, UP, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir — everywhere.  Now Delhi’s problems can never be solved until the endless migration slows down. Delhi is India’s capital and the more it is pampered, the better it seems to become and hence the more attractive it seems to India’s many millions of free people.  It is not hard to see that Delhi can never do enough for its residents because, since, qua capital city, it does not grow food or create industry (and is supposed to produce only public debate, decisions etc as a service industry), whatever it spends on public services comes from India’s exchequer, which in turn creates incentives for mass migration to continue from everywhere with no equilibrium being ever reached. 

The fascist solution that was, as I recall, suggested momentarily by a former Congress CM of Delhi, would be to forcibly prevent people from coming in from the outside.   Apparently the PRC as a totalitarian regime has some kind of system of internal passports which restricts citizens from travelling into metros on their own free will.  That cannot work in free India, where the Constitution would forbit it. Hence the correct long-term way to help Delhi solve its problems probably involves trying to improve the rest of the country!  It is something for the AAP Government to think about when it talks to Narendra Modi: seek to help the aam admi *outside* Delhi if you want to really help the aam admi inside Delhi!  In the meantime, try to improve efficiency in the local public goods the local government is supposed to produce, and do not ask for more resources from India.

This has been a 15 minute analysis…More to come…   

Map of Delhi Enclave c. 1916