Jun 20, 2022Liked by Pallavi Aiyar

One of your best efforts, in my humble opinion.

I have a knee-jerk reaction to filter anything said or written by a pundit—or anyone else, for that matter—with an agenda. It can be a columnist who invariably leans right, or left. Or it can be a politician, or member of a think tank or lobby organization. If they are historically biased, I automatically discount what they say. The economist Paul Krugman in the NYTimes is a good example. He often admits when he has been wrong, but he is 20% pragmatic, 80% liberal or progressive. But he writes well, and makes common sense arguments, so I read his column. But I discount what he says.

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Jun 20, 2022·edited Jun 23, 2022Liked by Pallavi Aiyar

Not geopolitics, but prediction gone wrong: This weekend I predicted it would not rain. We were having a party, outdoors because 2022 is still like 2020, and everyone was worried it would rain. I was certain it would not. "It's too cool for rain. These clouds will blow over here and dump a storm somewhere warmer," I insisted with false expertise to reassure everyone, yes, please stay for the party! People stayed, and it rained. Thankfully my wife and a friend knew I was delusional and put up some make-shift tents with tarps. And so, when the rain came, we gathered under the tarp, intimately, like before 2020. A lovely party, a little squeezed, like a Manhattan apartment although we were in a backyard upstate.

Maybe that's a metaphor for something. Or maybe there are a lot of metaphors. Like, where there delusional leaders, there are also smart people preparing for contingencies; many plans are unfolding at once, and we do not recognize them all.

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Love it!

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Thanks Natasha. Do share 🤗

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John Galbraith called India a functioning anarchy. Today the world can be described thus. Fifty years ago, the world could not understand the oral tradition of India that resulted in a million versions of any subject. But I suggest that even digital India continues this anarchy. It is simply that we Indians can understand the world, while the converse is not true. All Indians are born 'pundits'.

N V Balasubramanian June 27th, 2022

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I like your argument: even if we do know what we're talking about, making prediction is always dangerous, though sometimes you get lucky and harp it on the nail... If I compare our beliefs 70 years ago with the utter confusion of today's conspirationists, antivaxx, covidiots, fanatics of every colour and plain gangsters (something orange?), I have the nasty feeling that we're back in the 1930s and Doomsday is around the corner. My generation fought for freedom of thought, expression and for transforming conformism into a more individual-oriented society. And what do we get? Inward-looking narcissists, egomaniacs and intolerant ignoramus in power. Of course there are a majority of generous, law-abiding, devoted and lovable people all around, but they are not in power.

Coming back to your argument: we are all more or less determined by our background, education (or lack thereof), inclinations, experiences etc. But (I have always argued) human nature is the same everywhere, hence some predictability is possible. For example, that Putin might invade Ukraine was a foregone conclusion after what he did in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Armenia and Ukraine (1999-2014); the only question was when? That Russian army is committing atrocities is "normal" (see former sentence). As for India and Mori, unfortunately, you can predict that as the effects of climate change will become ever more unbearable, his policies will look for scapegoats... need I go further? What bothers me most, is our incapacity to change the course of events: we make them only worse till a real catastrophe happens, then we change. Sorry, I am depressed today.

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