A Different Species

Posted on August 1, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog, Writing. 1 Comment

There is this strange sense of duality that India seems to bring upon you. On one hand there is this feeling of being on the cusp of something extraordinary. The giddy experience of watching something once so far removed from the developed world morph so rapidly and palpably into a modern society. The sense of possibility, the sense that something big is about to happen is now regular dinner party conversation.

The journey of one generation to the next has been so fast that parents often have little context for the lives of their children. Particularly for the lives of the children who have been abroad and returned speaking, dressing and acting differently. This new India is English speaking, moves easily from one city to another, sometimes one country to another. It is hyperconnected and watches all the same TV shows … Read More »

Gross Domestic Poverty

Posted on July 4, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Physics of Poverty, Writing. 3 comments

For those of us with a memory of India in the 1980s and before there is no doubt at all that this is a country moving forward economically. From my schooldays when there were only two or three sub-standard brands of everything from soft drinks to soap to chocolate to cars, today’s India is remarkably different. It’s not just that there is every major brand available today. There is construction everywhere and sleek glass buildings are slowly but surely replacing old concrete structures. And there is a palpable feeling of change and a growing national pride. Incredible India. Every so often I get caught up in it and then I look at the numbers and I realize how easily we can distort our self-perception.

Here are the facts. India and China are often compared as the Asian giants, both with over … Read More »

Income Distributions around the World

Posted on March 19, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Income Distributions around the World

In my last, and much lighter post Who cares about the average income! I talked about the heavy tailed nature of income distributions. Here’s a link to some actual income distributions for the USA, India, Japan and France (scroll all the way to page 3 and look at Figure 1 on that page). Of course, the data for India includes only that of taxpayers and most of India has insufficient income to pay taxes so this is grossly misrepresentative. And unfortunately, the authors also note that the Indian data, even for taxpayers, is incomplete relative to the other countries for the reason that: “In spite of the best of our efforts in collecting the equivalent data from the Income Tax Department of the Government of India or the Reserve Bank of India, we are unable to give … Read More »