On being reunited with Arrow Hahn after a dozen years

On being reunited with Arrow Hahn after a dozen years

 

 

Professor Kenneth J Arrow

 Stanford

 

 

Dear Professor Arrow,

 

I am delighted to say I am reunited today after a dozen years with your canonical book written with Frank Hahn, a collaboration of 17 years I think Frank told me once.

 

It is not my own annotated 1976 copy of the first 1971 edition. 

 

That was in my professorial office at IIT Kharagpur as of September 2003, when I was compelled as a senior professor to object to grave (and admitted) financial irregularities, a battle that continues to this day. In August 2011, the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court ordered the return of the contents of my professorial office and residence, books, papers, student theses, gown, teaching award, etc. The Institute refused, returning three mud-drenched pamphlets from my collection and a few items of damaged furniture from my campus residence, nothing else. A Contempt application was filed immediately. The Institute had in the meantime surreptitiously purchased both my senior counsel and my solicitors, which came to be accidentally exposed, so new counsel have had to be engaged.

 

My personal copy of *General Competitive Analysis* was primus inter pares in my office collection, along with Bliss, Takayama, RGD Allen, Sargent, AEA Surveys and a few dozen other volumes including the second volume of your collected works (the first volume I had at home fortunately).

 

The papers in the office included most importantly the original copy of the memorandum Milton Friedman had written for the Govt of India in 1955, which Milton had sent me in 1984 and which I published in Hawaii for the first time ever in 1989.

 

I have had to function since 2003 without any of these — until yesterday and today when a very kind Twitter friend in a far away Pacific land sent me first Takayama, and now Arrow-Hahn.  I am delighted by both, especially I have to say the latter.  Frank paid me £50 back in 1976 to proof-read the 1971 original for errors for its second edition which he’d said you were handling.   

 

 

With warm regards

 

Cordially yours

 

Suby Roy

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On India’s Education Policy

http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinion/Task-Cut-Out-for-Smriti-Irani/2014/06/16/article2282316.ece
http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/289101/The-New-Indian-Express-Chennai/16-06-2014#page/8/3

Mrs Irani’s New Job
Published in New Indian Express 16 June 2014 as “Task Cut Out For Smriti Irani”

 

When there is success in Indian education it is because of the genius of our children and youth, the deep involvement of parents, our stable families and cultures, and the efforts of thousands of dedicated unsung teachers and professors. Education is the ladder of social and economic mobility, allowing within a generation the children of labourers to become teachers, electricians, nurses and pharmacists, the children of teachers and tradesmen to become engineers, doctors and industrialists.

It is a universal task of government to make sure such ladders of learning exist to be climbed everywhere and that they’re sturdy and spacious. The ladders do not have to be government-provided; there can be as many or more privately offered alternatives too, and the choice should belong to parents and children as to which ladder of which kind they invest their hard-earned money and time in, so their families are best able to climb out of poverty or misfortune.

Education can be government financed without being government provided. For example, government can provide the parent or guardian of each school-pupil a handsome voucher to be used at any school of choice, public or private, for the child. This would allow a vast resource to be tapped which is the local knowledge that parents and pupils have about specific educational problems and opportunities in their own area.

Besides public financing of at least school education, government’s role remains one of ensuring and enforcing academic and financial discipline, so that any education provided at any level by any purported provider is worth its name. At its loftiest we may want education to nurture the child’s soul and build character, and consist of science, mathematics, literature, as well as music, sports and games. At the very least in Indian circumstances, we may insist upon a minimum of the three traditional Rs of Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic reaching every child without fail. There is a vital public interest in wanting every citizen to comprehend the world around him or her and function in it productively and thoughtfully as an adult.

Such may be Mrs Smriti Irani’s goals in her new job. The reality she faces though may be abysmal at best and appalling at worst. Throughout the system, Indian education has come close to being ruined in recent decades.

Those responsible for the situation include her predecessors in recent decades, plus bureaucrats who range from indifferent at best to corrupt at worst, and self-styled educationists and bogus “educational consultants” purveying the latest expensive educational fad, besides administrators, professors and teachers who have too often lost all sense of vocation, being interested more in the business of building and equipment contracts, private consulting, private tuition, everything but their simple job of transmission of substantial standard knowledge to young people.

The government’s own India Education Report said not long ago: “It does not require clever tools of measurement to demonstrate that there are millions of children in India who are totally deprived of any education worth the name. And it is not as if they are invisible, remote, and therefore unreached. They are everywhere in the cities: on the streets, wiping cars at traffic junctions, picking rags in mounds of waste; in the roadside eateries; in small factories, as cheap labour or domestic help; at ‘home’ completing household chores. In the villages again they are everywhere, responding to the contextual demands of family work as well as bonded labour.”

Even leaving that aspect of the tragedy aside, our schoolchildren have ranked last or near last in standardised international testing in recent years, while our best higher education and technical institutions fail to reach world standards despite their pretensions and expenditure. That individual Indian students fare very well in foreign educational systems only reinforces the idea that they must escape our own system to do so, that a “brain drain” is somehow inevitable of our finest talent who have to migrate abroad to serve foreign nations after being educated at Indian public expense.

Mrs Irani can tell her bureaucrats: “Look, I do not pretend to be a highly educated person but if you think you and your ‘educational consultants’ can bamboozle me you are wrong. I am determined to improve our systems of education and let me tell you what we are going to be doing: we are going to be putting the full power of this ministry on the side of the weakest, most powerless and voiceless stakeholders in the system. Your sole criterion for policy in each educational situation you face is going to be judging what it does for the weakest voiceless stakeholder, typically primary and secondary-age children and their parents, as well as undergraduate or postgraduate students and dedicated teachers and researchers. That’s it.”

She can tell IIT and IIM directors and university VCs and registrars: “Why are you so interested in so many buildings and computer contracts? I’m going to have specially audited all such big purchase items in the last decade and more. And top foreign varsities are putting all their courses online. Can you at least put your faculty members’ names and credentials and courses online too, as well as your syllabi, schedules and accounts? Everyone in higher education will be asked to do the same. All this may enable better informed choice by parents and students while encouraging productive faculty members and discouraging the corrupt”.

She can tell state education ministers: “I fully know your problems of schools with one teacher for 100 children, schools without water or toilets or blackboards or roofs or books, leave aside midday meals. I know your problems with teacher-training and rote learning. Please prepare a practical school-by-school wish list of all the resources you need, and I assure you whatever funding the state government gives towards achieving such a goal, the Union government will double or triple that. We have a lot of public money being wasted on foreign weapons’ systems and all sorts of subsidies leave aside corruption, and I assure you I will find whatever money you need to establish proper schooling throughout India for the first time ever, for all our children.”

If Mrs Irani seeks to even try to do something like this seriously, hope for Indian education will be revived and she’ll have earned the applause of the country.

On the rot of institutions (and what an Academy might be like in the Facebook/Internet Age): Listening to the ladies….

From Facebook Aug 31 2011:

Subroto Roy has really done what he can, just about, for his country, & has been rewarded by his country’s government and its “institution of national importance” with the most despicable evil. It is a toss-up between whether my personal experience of Indian corruption and vicious state-tyranny is worse than my personal experience of bribery and perjury in the federal court system in America.

Andrea Kent Your bitterness is understandable. Patriotism is rising above appropriate anger toward individuals and continuing to love and serve the nation, even if it is infected by wicked individuals.

Subroto Roy Yes it is indeed, you are right…

Andrea Kent The history of most great nations contains examples of individuals who, though later acknowledged as heroes, were treated shabbily by their respective homelands. It is sad that you are being treated badly, but surely it is just by one institution and its envious employees, rather than by the entire country? At least, I hope this is caused by a small number of wickedly envious people rather than by an established policy of the government.;

Subroto Roy Corruption is endemic in India… the matters I exposed some years ago had to do with (a) apparent siphoning off money in building (and purchase) contracts; and (b) apparently abusing the fiduciary interest of students by stealing from their fees to pay for round the world business-class travel, etc.. No, I am not bitter, either about India or about America but yes, as I have said it is a toss-up between whether my personal experience of Indian corruption and vicious state-tyranny is worse than my personal experience of bribery and perjury in the federal court system in America.

Aletha Kuschan Andrea is right, though, that you were affected by individual actions more, I think, than by the nation as a whole in both instances. I wish that your fine work was getting the lion’s share of attention and not causing you troubles at all. But ideas have their natural audiences and all too often that audience is located in the future — as Andrea noted. Keep the faith, Suby. Truth does win out in time. And that really does matter too. Listen to the ladies, Suby …

Subroto Roy Thanks Aletha, Andrea. Aletha, re “Andrea is right, though, that you were affected by individual actions”, Individualism is of course something I know much about since my Hayek days (Frank Hahn called me 26 years ago “probably the outstanding young Hayekian”) but my experience has been mixed.

I have had quite long associations with three academic institutions, two in America, one in India. At the first, my academic work was attacked by a gang of what I have called “inert game theorists”, game theory being the prevalent fashion at the time, there was an academic freedom issue and I let it be; but on top of that arose the open and blatant sexual harassment of a woman graduate student by the department head, and my helping her, in a very minimal but essential way, contributed to the conflict. I did not fight it more than a bit and left (for BYU, where the Mormons gave me refuge and allowed me to complete my book, almost).

The second case, also in America, was one of outrageous collective targeting of my work as an academic and an economist by my national origin, even my purported race and religion, and when I did battle that, having immense faith in the American system, my adversary responded by demonstrated perjury, buying out my attorney (and getting caught doing it), and compromising the federal judge. Not good. Certainly my faith in the American system was shaken but *not* in America herself — why? because two of the greatest 20th C American economists, Milton Friedman and TW Schultz — gladly stood for me, and their testimony (ignored by the compromised judge) was far more important than anything else to me. I.e., it was these two American *individuals* (as well as several others less eminent but equally heroic) who allowed my faith in America to continue unshaken even though the personal experience of the institutions had been ghastly.

The Indian case is wholly different as it is a wholly different political culture for the most part. The issues are cheap and pathetic — fraudulent academic credentials, stealing money from the government, stealing money from students, stealing others’ property wherever possible in the knowledge you can get away with it, etc.

There is hardly anything of deep significance involved except it gives the lie to all the government and elite propaganda about how well India is doing — and in that context becomes relevant too what I did in America which came to Rajiv Gandhi through my advice to him in his last months:

Aletha Kuschan meanwhile, it was Abigail Adams’s sage advice to “remember the ladies”

Subroto Roy Indeed I do, and follow it; my best buddy, an old lady almost 86, is usually full of sage wisdom these days.

Subroto Roy What is the solution? It is, in my case. what I have said here: “A friend has been kind enough to call me an Academician, which I probably am, though one who really needs his own Academy because the incompetence, greed and mendacity encountered too often in the modern professoriat is dispiriting.”

Subroto Roy And what does such an Academy consist of in the Internet/Facebook Age? Big buildings? Naaaa…

Aletha Kuschan What would Socrates do???? WWSD — for short

Subroto Roy Quite so, what would Socrates do? His Academy today would be his Facebook profile and his blog. 🙂

Aletha Kuschan I get to be Plato — called it first!!

Subroto Roy LOL… Platoletha has a nice ancient ring about it…

Andrea Kent I think Aletha would be Πλάτωνίσ, and I would then be Ἀριστοτέλά, your devoted acolytes.

Subroto Roy LOL… 🙂 I actually was given the Roman name Subius Maximus myself by my buddy Bobbus Fluhartius, aka Bob Fluharty in Charleston WVa..

Theft of my academic books, papers, notes, student-theses etc from my professorial office at an “Institution of National Importance” in India?

From Facebook August 11 2011

Subroto Roy is glad to hear on the telephone from the Registrar of the “Institution of National Importance” where my professorial office was left in-tact on August 23 2003 that he now agrees my “personal belongings” there are not “Institute property” and he is making efforts to trace their location.

        Arrow and Hahn, General Competitive Analysis, 1971
Bliss, Capital Theory and the Distribution of Income, 1975
Arrow, Collected Works
Burrows and Hitiris, Macroeconomic theory
Allen, Macroeconomics
Henderson and Quandt, Microeconomics
Varian, Microeconomics
Takayama, Mathematical economics
Markowitz, Mean Variance analysis
Bernstein, How futures markets work
Akehurst, Modern introduction to international law
Dumont, Homo heirarchicus
AEA Surveys of economic growth, two volumes
Amartya Sen, Collective Choice and Social Welfare
Amartya Sen, On Economic Inequality
Amartya Sen (ed) Growth Economics
Townsend (ed) Price Theory
Clower (ed) Monetary Theory
Lecture notes in statistics
Lecture notes in econometrics
Lecture notes in mathematical economics
IMF working papers, research monographs
About 16 masters level student theses
About 4 undergraduate BTech level theses…
Etc etc, a partial reconstruction from memory…

From Facebook August 10 2011:

Subroto Roy fears that many of his academic books, papers, lecture notes, student theses, mostly invaluable, even his Cambridge gown, may have been stolen, yes stolen, from his professorial office by a conscious deliberate decision of the administrative authorities of a major academic institution in India, deemed an “Institution of National Importance”….

Sully Augustine Outrageous!

Subroto Roy Indeed. I have managed eight years without them and now there is a High Court order for them to be returned to me, but the Registrar of the place tells me on the phone he thinks it became “Institute property”…

Frank Cowell ‎!

Subroto Roy Battling corruption in academia is a painful and exhausting business.

Subroto Roy fears that his precious priceless 1977 copy of the 1971 edition of Arrow and Hahn has been stolen, yes stolen, by a major academic institution in India, deemed an “Institution of National Importance”….

Will the Telangana flare-up awaken New Delhi from its dream-world and into India’s political reality?

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy thinks the flare-up of the Telangana issue has one and only one positive consequence: it brings home to New Delhi’s ruling elite that there are real political questions in India, and not everything can be left to spin-doctors and lobbyists to handle.

Does Dubai real estate have a lesson for the GoI?

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy  thinks the Dubai real-estate collapse has a lesson for Government of India policy-makers (a lesson which will not be learnt): it is as ridiculous to think Mumbai can be an international financial centre as it is to think  India can build “world class academic institutions” overnight.  Such things don’t depend on tall or big buildings but on the people inside them.


Subroto Roy recalls a conversation in 2004 in London about Dubai’s sheikhs aspiring to make Dubai a new NYC-like financial centre with the euro displacing the dollar in the aftermath of the 9/11 backlash against the Arab world. Those plans have been presumably put in cold storage.

Subroto Roy thinks among Edward Hugh’s interesting points on Dubai’s technical default, is that crane-usage may be a leading indicator, at least in “emerging markets”…..


My One-Semester Microeconomics (Theory of Value) Course for Graduate Engineers Planning to Become MBAs

For a half dozen or so years from about 1996 onwards, I taught graduate engineers  a course on microeconomic theory  as part of an MBA syllabus.   The level would have been that of Varian’s undergraduate text as well as, where possible, Henderson & Quandt’s intermediate text (Postscript: and, I now recall, a little of Arrow & Hahn Chapter 2 if there was time).   It was quite successful as most students were very serious and had a more than adequate mathematical background.

Subroto Roy

Kolkata

Exchange, utility analysis and theory of demand

Rational decisions as constrained optimization

Theory of the firm, technology, profit-maximization, cost-minimization, cost curves

Market equilibrium under competitive conditions

Pricing under Monopoly, Oligopoly

Theory of games

Inter-temporal decision-making

Asset markets : arbitrage and present value

Decision-making under uncertainty

Mean-variance analysis : equilibrium in a market for risky assets