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.

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.

Privatisation should not ignore the equity dimension
February 28, 2021 // For privatization to be successful, widely accepted and in the public interest, stakeholder mapping should be vastly expanded to cover all sections of society that will be affected by the reforms

Without the private sector, India’s vaccination rate will be sub-optimal
February 23, 2021 // The current pace of India’s vaccination programme is, paradoxically, both impressive and inadequate. To be effective, it must be ramped up 10-20 times, so that 80 per cent of the population can be protected by the end of the year.

Social media is an existential threat to civilisation
February 21, 2021 // This threat is greater and more urgent than that presented by climate change, artificial intelligence, nuclear war, pandemics and terrorism.

Regarding the military disengagement at Pangong Tso
February 18, 2021 // It is hard to say how long the Chinese side will abide by these terms, after having seen the utility of transgressions in pushing the envelope.

India must address South East Asian concerns
February 14, 2021 // India’s foreign policy establishment must not miss opportunities to set up economic and maritime cooperation with ASEAN

Dealing with another coup in Myanmar
February 9, 2021 // For New Delhi, the challenge will be to break out of two popular mind traps: First, that supporting Aung San Suu Kyi is uniformly in India’s interests, and second, that not backing the generals will throw Myanmar into China’s camp.

Heroic privatisation targets in this year’s Union Budget
February 2, 2021 // The Modi government would do well to stay away from the failed economic policies of the Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai governments, and find a different route to Atmanirbhar Bharat.

What we must regulate when we regulate social media platforms
January 31, 2021 // Public policy should seek to prevent the concentration of narrative rather than market power in social media companies

A republic on a pedestal vs a republic in daily practice
January 26, 2021 // Yet the sum total of our actions leaves the republic weaker by the day. The crumbling started a couple of generations ago, slowly at first. Now, it is in a landslide.

Where I get an important thing spectacularly wrong
January 19, 2021 // I had argued that India is unlikely to see a major second wave of Covid-19.

America’s strategic rivalry with China won’t change under Biden
January 17, 2021 // We should expect some easing of tensions between the two countries this year, starting with a change in language, style and ambience. The underlying divergences, though, won’t go away.

Covaxin was approved for extra-scientific reasons
January 5, 2021 // India’s healthcare and pharmaceutical industry has the potential to realise the numerous opportunities in a post-pandemic, less China-reliant world. To capture these opportunities, it is more important for the healthcare governance system to be — and be seen as — professional, honest, and transparent.

The big convergence challenge that we face in this new decade
January 3, 2021 // Our opportunities and risks lie in how technology intersects with health, society and geopolitics

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