This is Nitin Pai's cyberspace.

I recently moved my 2003-2017 archives here. Take a look. More column archives coming soon.

contact: @acorn

I’m interested in coffee, philosophy, sharp objects, public policy, tech and stationery.
You are in the structured section of my domain where I have my blog posts, newspaper columns, updates on my teaching and research, and other things you had always been warned about.
My raw notes with thoughts-in-progress are in the unstructured digital garden.


▸ What I’m up to now.

This is a partial list. I’ll add the rest over the next few weeks. I recommend you check these out before looking at the stream of blog posts below ↓

▸ Recently been writing about: ☼ information ageliberal democracygeopoliticseconomicsCovid-19philosophy and everything else

▸ In these columns: ☼ Debates with my DaughtersMintThe PrintThe HinduPragatiPax Indica

▸ And the blog posts follow:

This is where The Acorn blog now resides.

The coming regulation of social media is an opportunity for India
October 11, 2021 // India's competitive advantage in the tech economy has always been high quality human capital at scale. The challenge now is to create millions of people who can exercise good judgement in addition to writing great code.

On strategic autonomy
October 5, 2021 // Strategic autonomy is not about refusing to take sides in itself; but rather avoiding getting into situations where taking sides means losing the capacity for independent action.

Towards an Indian strategy for the Information Age
October 4, 2021 // Key points from the chapter in "India's Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift"

A strategy for India in a world adrift
September 28, 2021 // An analysis of India’s strategic path amidst tectonic external and domestic shifts by an independent group of leading policymakers, analysts and thinkers

India must invest in more sophisticated cyber weapons
September 27, 2021 // Without offensive cyber capabilities it is impossible to defend the nation's information sphere.

Early thoughts on AUKUS and India
September 16, 2021 // AUKUS is a military pact within a military pact. Non-inclusion has opportunity costs for India; but also offers other opportunities for partnership.

Organic farming should not be an article of faith
September 13, 2021 // Policies that respect the farmer's economic freedom are the best route to sustainable agriculture

Exploiting the projects that China builds
September 1, 2021 // Instead of handwringing on Beijing's growing geopolitical footprint, New Delhi should exploit both the asset and liability side of such projects.

Fighting the Strong Force
August 31, 2021 // The Chinese Communist Party wants to separate kids from their smartphones. Even the Taliban might have surrendered on this front.

Extracting value from underutilised public assets is good public policy
August 30, 2021 // The National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) is a desirable shift in thinking especially if state and municipal governments can use the model to extract revenues from their unutilised assets

Where the United States failed
August 25, 2021 // A lot of people are offering commentaries on why and how the United States failed in Afghanistan. Yet the more important question that few are asking is "Where the United States failed."

On diplomatically engaging the Taliban
August 20, 2021 // The Taliban will chafe at being treated as puppets by their external backers and reach out India. But New Delhi can afford to wait.

Make China accountable for the Taliban’s actions
August 16, 2021 // It is in India's interests to prefer a Pax Sinica over Afghanistan. Beijing has skilfully avoided commitment -- and been let off the hook -- for too long. Its culpability has been ignored: By supporting the Taliban it has thrown the Afghan people to the wolves.

Beyond theatre commands and towards networked battle units
August 16, 2021 // The meaning of networked warfare has changed from equipping armed forces with data networks to reorganizing the forces themselves into networked units. Instead of forever playing catch-up, India has a unique opportunity to leapfrog into building not only integrated, but networked forces.

Westland Publications to publish Nitin Pai’s forthcoming book
August 10, 2021 // Through playful anecdotes and stories-within-stories, the book teases out the intricacies of the dharma of citizenship, quite distinct from the rajadharma of the Arthashastra or the swadharma of the Dharmashastras.

What Pegasus tells us about India’s national security and cyber power
August 2, 2021 // India urgently needs a serious, realist, non-partisan policy debate on the development and governance of national cyber capabilities.

Why China is attacking its consumer internet companies
July 27, 2021 // Because size, reach and control of consumer data gives them narrative power. Xi is pre-empting threats to the Communist Party's monopoly on political power.

India can protect its interests even if Afghanistan falls to the Taliban again
July 19, 2021 // New Delhi's strategy must shift to exploiting the contradictions among the foreign powers influencing Afghan politics.

Liberal democracies have a fundamental advantage in offensive cyber capability
July 5, 2021 // Authoritarian states suffer a high opportunity cost of censorship, coercion and propaganda tying up their resources in ideological defence.

Swadeshi in a free society
July 2, 2021 // In the Indian Public Policy Review, I present the very interesting economic history of Swadeshi and self-reliance and uncover some very unexpected facts. This post is an excerpt from the concluding part of the paper.

The Bangalore Model of Civic Engagement
June 28, 2021 // I conceptualise the “Bangalore Model of Civic Engagement" that many technocrats, activists, philanthropists and civic leaders have helped shape; and explain why it is different, what makes it possible, and where it is falling short.

Reimagining social security for the 21st century
June 23, 2021 // The most effective way will be for the government to enable a multi-contributor model that brings whole of society into supporting the needy.

The world should fight the pandemic as one
June 21, 2021 // In early 2020, there was a chance to use the pandemic crisis as an opportunity to shape global cooperation that could then form the basis for a new world order.



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