Behavior / 24.05.2010

What are the determinants of our choices? Vijay Vikram’s post on Arundhati Roy evolved into a discussion on whether the natural resources in tribal lands ought to be mined in the existing conditions. After over a hundred comments, we are better aware of the issues involved but still left with many unanswered questions. In this post I propose a thought experiment that would explore in more detail the factors that can influence our choices in such matters. The difficulty in using real life cases (like that of mining in tribal lands) is that they are characterized by ambiguities and uncertainties that influence our thinking about them. For example, in the case under discussion we do not know the extent to which the tribals are willing partners, the extent to which they are being coerced by external agents, the extent to which the state and the mining companies can be trusted, and the extent to which the resources extracted would actually be used for the welfare of the tribals.
Ghalib / 03.09.2008

It is the month of Ramzan and Ghalib has his share of quotes for the season. Ghalib was known for his wit: when asked how many fasts he had kept he is reported to have replied ek na rakha (I did not keep one). Typical Ghalib. But in his tongue-in-cheek manner Ghalib also pushes his readers to think of many other aspects of a situation than the one that seems obvious on the surface. Our choice this week reflects this quality of Ghalib: iftaar-e-saum kii jise kuch dast.gaah ho us shakhs ko zaroor hai rozaa rakha kare jis paas roza khol ke khaane ko kuch na ho roza agar na khaaye to naachaar kya kare the one who has the wherewithal to break his fast that person should indeed keep the fast the one who has nothing to break his fast with what else can he do but be constrained to ‘eat the fast’ The Ghalib...