This is Nitin Pai's cyberspace.

I have started writing occassional columns for Sakal, a leading Marathi newspaper.

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 DaughtersMintSakalThe PrintThe HinduPragatiPax Indica

▸ And the blog posts follow:

This is where The Acorn blog now resides.

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.

Moving Indians out of agriculture
June 19, 2021 // It has almost been 150 years since we recognised that to achieve sustained economic growth Indians must shift from agriculture to industry.

Human capital and national power
June 18, 2021 // The biggest change to India's national power in the next decade will come from changes in human capital

The banal geopolitical fallout of the laboratory leak hypothesis
June 6, 2021 // Perhaps Xi Jinping is right, and like it or not, China will be even more indispensable to the post-covid world.

Focus on maximising the vaccination rate
May 24, 2021 // Let’s say Melon Rusk, one of the world’s richest billionaires, approaches the Indian government and makes an offer to deliver 2 billion doses of a covid vaccine within 2 months for ₹2 trillion. Should the government take the offer?

The urgent need for administrative re-engineering
May 10, 2021 // Unless we reform how India is governed, the structures, processes and culture of government, we will continue to be disappointed by what the system actually delivers.

Goodbye and good riddance to board examinations
April 25, 2021 // To the extent that board exams have any useful role in education itself, there are cheaper and less harmful alternatives that can replace exams.

Vaccination certificates need a framework to govern their use
April 11, 2021 // India has done well so far to take the future-ready middle path of providing vaccination certificates without taking a position on their use. It is now time to put in place a framework to govern their use.

Why my estimates for the second wave of Covid-19 were wrong
April 7, 2021 // While I had qualified my assessment with a few caveats, I was wrong to expect that the second wave will be “small” in several cities and districts. I did not anticipate that people would so quickly relax their guard, engage in large gatherings and visit crowded places.

Direct vaccination to spike the surge
March 29, 2021 // Instead of pursuing a progressive nationwide expansion of vaccination prioritized by age-groups, the Narendra Modi government should open up vaccination to all adults in cities and districts where there is a surge in new covid cases.

Fukushima’s lesson is the need for effective nuclear regulation
March 14, 2021 // If India’s nuclear industry is government-run for the foreseeable future, then it is all the more important to restructure its governance.



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