Mukti

Illiberal development

Posted in democracy, development, economics, governance, institutions, politics by jrahman on June 15, 2015

A few years ago, Vietnam was the rage among the Bangladeshi chatteratis who hobnobbed in the development circle.  Look how they have forged ahead under a strong, patriotic leadership, while we languish behind because of our corrupt, venal political class — that was the refrain.  Of course, anyone who knew anything reasonably detailed about both countries would have their eyebrows raised by that.  I have vague recollection of writing something for Zafar Sobhan on this, but can’t find any link anywhere.

In any case, who cares about facts in Bangladesh?

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Bleak, Ne’er-do-well, Past

Posted in democracy, dynasties, politics by jrahman on December 12, 2014

There is no shortage of punditry along the line of BNP-is-in-trouble, most being pretty vacuous like this.  Shuvo Kibria had a better attempt a few weeks ago:

সরকার ….. নিজের আস্থাহীনতার সঙ্কট আছে।….. জনব্যালটে তার ভরসা নেই। …..সরকার চাইবে রাজনৈতিক শক্তি হিসেবে বিএনপিকে সমূলে উৎপাটিত করতে। বিএনপির চ্যালেঞ্জ হচ্ছে, রাজনৈতিক শক্তি হিসেবে নিজেকে পুনঃপ্রতিষ্ঠা করা।  (The government has its own crisis of confidence…. It doesn’t rely on public ballot…. The governent will want to uproot BNP as a political force.  BNP’s challenge is to re-establish itself as a political force).

I think the above is in on the whole correct.  And there may be a degree of validity in this as well:

বিএনপির প্রথম সারির নেতাকর্মীদের মাঠে নেমে প্রমাণ করতে হবে দলের স্বার্থে তারা যেকোনো ঝুঁকি নিতে প্রস্তুত।  (BNP’s front row leaders and workers will need to prove their willingness to take any risk for the party by getting into the field).

But I think even Kibria misses some key nuances.

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Political philosophy of football

Posted in sports by jrahman on June 17, 2014

Macroeconomists have an abysmal record when it comes to forecasting.  As Tim Harford documents, as late as September 2008 —when the Lehman Brothers collapsed —consensus among the economists at the Wall Street and City of London was that no major economy would fall into recession in 2009.  Not deterred by such abysmal failure, market economists have ventured into predicting the World Cup.  The overwhelming favourite is Brazil.

And economists of Goldman Sachs —which dominates the Wall Street the way Brazil dominates football —have actually published the analysis behind their prediction. According to their analysis, Brazil has a nearly 50% chance of winning. Of course, Brazil is also the favourite in the betting markets.  But as of kick off (that is, before the Croatian counter attack stunned the world), betting agencies such as Ladbrokes were implying only around 25% chance of a Brazil win.

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Bangla politics — Zafar Sobhan style

Posted in AL, BNP, Islamists, politics by jrahman on October 11, 2012

Zafar Sobhan is a good friend, great editor, and sometimes, a good political analyst.  Yes, I’ve had my public disagreement with him, for example about the 2010 Indo-Bangla summit (my scepticism has been backed by reality).  But Zafar also got some big things right.  His general Awami leanings notwithstanding, he was one of the first to be bluntly honest about l’affaire Yunus  — something many of my AL-er friends have failed to do.  More importantly, when all the pundits — from Mahmudur Rahman to Asif Nazrul to Nayeemul Islam Khan to Nazim Kamran Chowdhury to yours truly — expected a last minute rally towards BNP in 2008 election, Zafar correctly called the Awami landslide.  

Sadly, his recent piece on Bangladeshi politics is not one of those stronger ones.  Rather, it characterises both elements of Zafar’s analysis — astute description of the underlying issue, and a rather naive conclusion. 

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