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Tag Archives | innovation

Should autos be allowed surge pricing?

If you don’t restrict the market you don’t need to restrict the price.

The Mumbai auto drivers followed their brethren in Paris and New York and went on a one-day strike against the growing number of cab-aggregator services in the city. The strike itself is a testimony to the popularity of these new and innovative means of urban transportation. It shows that people are interested in trying out new options if it helps them save time and money. The resistance from the entrenched players is obvious but what is not obvious is what the government will do about it. The confusion begins right from the start, is this public transport or private transport?


Source: Flickr

We generally refer to autos and taxis as public transport even if they are privately owned. Perhaps because the government mandates many things that the autos need to do. The color, the fare, the uniform, even the number of autos that can be on the roads is fixed by the government. In fact, the increase in the permit charges from 200 to 10000 is one of the reasons for the strike. But why would a government try to restrict the number of autos (by increasing the price of the permit or not allowing more permits)? If there are more people who want to commute by autos, then shouldn’t there be more autos on the road? The reason generally given is to protect the livelihoods of the auto drivers. Then why are the auto drivers themselves striking against the decision?

The auto drivers in Mumbai are one of the best in the country when it comes to plying by meter. But will they be now tempted to do surge pricing as well? The way to control surge pricing is not by capping it. But by allowing more vehicles and drivers to offer their services. This is beneficial for both drivers as well as passengers. The central government sent out an advisory in July of 2015 and Karnataka State Government has come out with its own policy for regulating the cab-aggregators. Both policies have focused on treating this new phenomenon like traditional auto or a taxi service. Which it is most definitely, not.

Safety should be the chief concern of these regulations. Other operational parameters like prices, hours of service, etc. should not be unnecessarily regulated. Urban public transport is in desperate need of innovation and the government should do all it can to support it. Greater use of such services will result in less vehicles on the road and easing of pressure on the current municipal transport systems. Both would benefit the poor who are dependent on fast and cheap public transport for their everyday needs. Creating a regulatory framework which puts safety and ease of compliance at its heart would be a step in the right direction in this regard.

Siddarth Gore is a Research Scholar at the Takshashila Institution and he tweets @siddhya

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Start -up India

Prime Minster Modi on 16 January 2016 started the new government  initiative called “Start-up India”. This initiative is a venture towards new enterprises and investments in India. This initiative is a movement to bolster innovative new ventures in India. The Government hopes that it would be able to tap ideas and innovation as an effective driver for India’s transformation. The new venture if effectively utilised could help generate employment opportunity in the country .


The new endeavour  encompasses innovation and development of new products or services. The government is offering several tax benefits  and there is a lighter regulatory burden. This probably could result in innovation-driven companies . Since start-ups often faces several impediments, the new programme seems to be a very positive initiative.

Several Indian entrepreneurs are keen to play a new role in the economy .Start-up ventures triggered by the Silicon Valley successors  is a new trend and with the government support seem to draw several investors. Today Indian entrepreneurs are moving from a safe vault initiative to take up challenges.

India’s tech savvy Prime Minster has set up a $300 million fund for start-ups and also has eased restrictions for Indian’s living abroad who want to invest in venture capitals in India. The adage is “old money, new money-everybody wants a piece of our start-up-boom”.  The start-up India is to be promoted through bank finance and incentive to boost entrepreneurship, job creation and an conducive environment to set up start-ups. Withs several plan drawn, innovation in research is a key are that the government would call for investments.

This has raised a sense of hope amongst the Indian investors and is seen as an important landmark for  emerging India. An action plan is created to this effect drawing several government officials and entrepreneurs. They are  working towards hassle and barrier free environment conducive to investment.The action plan kick starts a new era in building entrepreneurs thus laying a foundation for New India.

The visibility of the initiative is at an infant stage. How is it going to be nurtured and developed  is a question that remains to be seen. Started with a major fanfare the success or the credibility of the vision “Start-up India”  is something that has be watched .


Priya Suresh is a Research Scholar with the Takshashila Institute. She tweets@priyamanassa.


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Net Neutrality: Innovation in the Age of the Internet

How the debate about Net Neutrality can learn from the successes (and failures) of Intellectual Property Rights

Net neutrality is currently a topic en vogue; various pundits, netizens and companies have weighed in on whether or not regulations are required to keep the internet open and equally accessible to all. While the debate often involves phrases like “free market”, “data discrimination” and “walled gardens”, the argument is really one about innovation. In fact, the phrase “net neutrality” was coined by Tim Wu in his paper, Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, where he observed that the “questions raised in discussions of open access and network neutrality are basic to both telecommunications and innovation policy”. As such, both sides of the net neutrality debate ultimately rely on innovation as a justification for their arguments. The most popular defence for net neutrality critiques “access tiering”, where telecom providers charge web sites and application providers more for premium, high speed services. The argument is that start-ups will not be able to afford such rates and will therefore be unable to compete with established firms. This is invariably followed by the statement that the internet has had the impact that it has had because of the ability of such start-ups to distribute their new and innovative ideas on a global scale. In other words, it is not so much about the potential of access tiering to cause monopolisation as it is its capacity to hinder innovation. On the other hand, detractors of net neutrality argue that increased regulations will only hamper telecom and content providers from innovating new technologies and business models with which to operate.

Given the importance of innovation in the global debate globally it is unusual that debates in India have not discussed it more prominently. The Indian discourse on net neutrality has been characterised more by a debate about free markets vs. regulations than the composition of best innovation policy. This is unfortunate because not only is innovation supremely relevant to the discourse on net neutrality, but much can be learnt from the previous methods of promoting innovation – Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

One such lesson is the danger of romanticising aspects of the issue. The ultimate purpose of IPR is to legally ensure the expectation of earning money from a new idea so that people have an incentive to invest their time and money to create and innovate. This purpose has been significantly buttressed by the narrative of romantic authorship. The moral argument for securing financial rewards for people who come up with brilliant new inventions, stories or songs is one that very few can counter. However, as with many other laws, the reality is different. IPR, more often than not, secures the interests of publishers and distributors, not authors. This is merely an outcome of simple economics; the people spending money on creating and distributing a product will expect a financial return regardless of whose idea it originally was. It is not to say that the romantic author does not deserve his due, merely that his importance is often overstated.

This very human tendency towards romanticism (especially when discussing human creativity and innovation) must be kept in mind when debating net neutrality as it is very easy to become detached from ground realities. A good example at the heart of net neutrality is the narrative that the internet is a network that has revolutionised society due to its non-discriminatory and open nature. While this is true to an extent, it has prevented certain realities from entering the popular discourse on net neutrality, namely that it is already possible for content providers to pay for faster content delivery. Content providers can cache their data with content-delivery networks like Akamai, who store it in servers across the world so that the travel time to end users is shorter. Akamai, obviously, charges a fee for this service. It is therefore important to be wary of placing undue emphasis on the more appealing or engaging aspects of the net neutrality debate and keep in mind the requirements of a successful internet, whatever they may be.

Another way in which IPR is relevant is the extent to which it has adapted to the internet or more accurately failed to. The world wide web is easily the most disruptive technology of our time and it will be unsurprising if future generations end up viewing the advent of the internet on par with the Industrial Revolution in terms of its impact on societies and economic activity. One of the more prominent of these impacts has been on traditional methods for the distribution and publishing of content; the internet has rendered physical book and music stores obsolete for most customers. This has occurred due to new and legal online distribution models like e-books or iTunes, as well as less legal ones like Napster or BitTorrent. Attempts by record companies to use IPR to secure their traditional distribution lines against online piracy have been unmitigated disasters. Lawsuits have been a waste of money because perpetrators are almost instantly replaced even when they are successful while some of the less successful lawsuits show a clear reluctance to accept the changing dynamics of the industry. This spectacular failure of music companies in enforcing IPR in courts demonstrated that the best solutions to adapting to the Internet might not be legal-centric.

One such non-legal solution for many businesses has been the adoption of new revenue models based on the volume of traffic on their websites. Companies measure this traffic in incredible detail and use the data collected in two ways. One is to use to it to invite ads from companies with the lure of targeted and more effective advertising. The other method is to sell the data itself to marketing companies; a great deal can be learnt about consumption habits of consumers through their online behaviour. Google was the pioneer in the first method as a majority of its early growth can be attributed to advertising revenue. Facebook is one of the industry leaders in the second model (though it does also utilise advertising) as the ubiquitousness of Facebook means that user data is a treasure trove for marketers. These new volume-based revenue models are crucial to the debate about net neutrality.

Another way in which firms have adapted to the internet is to update the age-old techniques of hostile maneuvering. Though intended to promote innovation, IPR has sometimes skewed too much in favour of securing financial returns of existing ideas. This has enabled many firms use their IP portfolios aggressively to threaten and browbeat competitors to maintain a big piece of the market. It should be pointed out that the costs of litigation can achieve this same purpose even in the presence of a balanced IP regime. The various patent battles between cell phone manufacturers are an excellent example of the aggressive use of IPR. However, as IPR has been shown to be a comparatively toothless remedy on the internet, firms needed to find alternate methods to secure their market domination.

These methods have invariably been more technical in nature than legal and capitalise either on the traffic dependence of online revenue models or the capacity requirements of data-intensiveness of services like video streaming or VoIP. Advancements in technologies like Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) have allowed companies to discriminate data in a manner not possible during the early years of the internet. Companies can now enter into preferential agreements with telecom providers to ensure that their websites run faster or cheaper than their competitors. Faster speeds attract more customers, especially with data-intensive content, and give companies a competitive advantage. Cheaper data rates for certain websites and zero rating schemes in particular, are even worse in that they can consolidate and strengthen the market share of established firms and prevent entrants from securing enough customers to make their business model operational.

It is at this stage that the last, and perhaps the most important, takeaway from IPR becomes relevant. The concept of Copyright evolved largely as a reaction to another disruptive technology: the printing press. The press drastically changed both the volume and content of books capable of being published; previously most books were biblical as they had to be labouriously and expensively hand-written by monks. Though the process of its evolution was slow, copyright was first codified by the jurisprudentially revolutionary law, the Statute of Anne. Not only was the statute the first law for copyright, it transformed copyright from a tool for monopolisation and censorship to one that encouraged education and creativity. It did this by making the monopoly over a work temporary thus creating the concept of public domain (previously all works were owned by publishers forever). To put it another way, the printing press was such a disrupting technological advancement that it forced a new type of juristic thinking. It can be argued that the internet has had as much of an impact on societies, if not more and as such, will and should lead to the creation of a new jurisprudence. This can be evidenced not only by the debate about net neutrality but also the global concern over privacy and surveillance in the post-Snowden era. It is thus imperative that regulators of the internet do not limit their perspective by willy-nilly resorting to existing models of regulation. In other words, it is hoped that regulators will follow the path laid by the Statute of Anne and themselves innovate a new body of jurisprudence in order to secure innovation on the internet.

Madhav Chandavarkar is a Research Associate with Takshashila Institution and can be found on Twitter on his handle @MadChap88. The views expressed here are personal

Other responses on Net Neutrality by the Takshashila Community:

Viability, not just Neutrality by Pranay Kotasthane

Net neutrality is like Net Neutrality by Varun Ramachandra

Using price discrimination to ensure Net neutrality by Anupam Manur

The Financial Viability of net neutrality by Devika Kher

How 2ab explains net neutrality by Karthik Shashidhar

Thoughts on Net Neutrality and Zero Rating by GK John

On net neutrality and national interest by Nitin Pai

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Information Asymmetry in the Information Age

Why the impact of new technologies on markets requires governments to revise their regulatory policies

In their interesting article, Alex Tabarrok and Tyer Cowen discuss the declining relevance of asymmetric information. Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more knowledge about the transaction than the other. Usually this grants that party an undue advantage in the transaction whereas the other faces a higher risk. Taborrok and Cowen explain how various new technologies have provided enough avenues to minimise information asymmetry within the economy. They go on to conclude that this change deserves a re-examination of regulatory policy as most of the theories relating to information asymmetry are now obsolete. This post shows how this conclusion is equally relevant in the Indian context through the following scenarios.

 The Ordeals of a Family Vacation

Till recently, a typical middle income family in India would spend lots of time, effort and money planning their itinerary for their yearly holiday. Better off families would opt for travel agents who could reduce the amount of time and effort required, i.e. the transaction cost. However, the monetary cost would probably increase considerably as travel agents often exploit their customers’ poor knowledge of ticket prices and regulations to increase their profits.

This entire set-up changed dramatically with the advent of online travel booking sites. The entry of sites such as Yatra, TravelGuru, and MakeMyTrip into the market reduced the transaction costs of travel as booking a ticket was now just a click away. Furthermore, these sites supplied travellers with data they could use to make more informed choices. Such data would range from information about weather conditions and popular tourist sites to customer reviews containing user-uploaded photos. The most important contribution of these sites was to reduce the information asymmetry by removing the middle men. By providing limitless options for travel and accommodation, and the option of online payment they enabled middle income families to plan their holidays in hours.

 The Maid Market in India

Information asymmetry can increase the risk of buyers making uneconomic decisions because it often leads to a decline in the quality of products offered in the market. This decline induces buyers to reduce the amount they are willing to pay for the product and can eventually force sellers of costlier and higher quality products out of the market. This creates a market which is dominated by sellers of low quality goods. In economics this is referred to as adverse selection; a good everyday example would be house maids.

With the rise in the incomes and aspirations of middle income India, a larger number of families have started looking for house maids who comply with their living standards. Such families are increasingly looking for maids who understand English, care for hygiene, can cook continental food, handle hi-tech home appliances and are neatly dressed. However, the market for house maids suffers from an asymmetry of information. Households are usually at the losing end of the bargain as each maid has more knowledge of her expertise than the house owner. House owners would try to reduce their risk by initially paying a low wage to the maids. This would price out higher quality maids who value their service at a higher rate and would leave only low quality maids in the market.

This problem has been solved by home maid agencies. These agencies recruit domestic workers or people interested in domestic work and train them according to changing demands within the market. These agencies help domestic workers in finding better opportunities by guaranteeing a higher quality of service provision to house owners.

 The GPS Tracking of Garbage

The principal-agent problem occurs when a person (the principal) hires someone (the agent) to perform certain tasks. However, in most cases the incentives of the agent differ significantly from the principal as the costs incurred are borne only by the principal. The textbook solution is to create incentives for the agent such that it is in his or her self interest to follow the principal’s directions. One such incentive is to share the risk. For example, companies like Infosys pay their CEOs with stock options as a compensation for relatively low salaries. Another method would be to increase the cost of disobedience by monitoring the agents more. An example of the latter method is the use of GPS fitted garbage trucks in Delhi.

Garbage trucks are owned by private garbage disposal services or by municipal corporations. These trucks collect garbage from all across the city and dump it at a particular location. However, the drivers of the trucks have various incentives that interfere with this role. These include profits from reselling the garbage or alternate uses of the truck. In 2013, the Delhi government fitted GPS devices to garbage trucks to track their movements and monitor their work performance. These monitoring systems reduced the information asymmetry between the drivers of garbage trucks and owner of the garbage disposal services.

 Uber: the Escrow Agent

Asymmetry of information can often create distrust between the parties to a transaction. In such cases, escrow agents act as a trusted third party that ensure that parties maintain the standards of performance set by the contract. A simple example of this would be Uber, an international company which operates a mobile app that allows customers to book taxis.

Uber’s legal page describes the company as an intermediary for taxi drivers and people interested in availing their services. This role allows Uber to guarantee that there will be no bargains over fares for customers as well as a regular stream of income for drivers. In doing this, Uber reduces the information asymmetry by providing details about the driver ranging from his current location to his basic profile. This has helped in reducing the transaction costs of cab rides and has empowered customers trying to narrow the information gap.

 In Conclusion

The advent of new technologies has mended multiple market failures by narrowing the information gaps in various economic exchanges. In doing so they have also changed the very fabric of transactions and have thus rendered many theories from the past obsolete. As many regulatory policies were designed on the basis of those theories the onus is on political systems to revise these regulations. When they do so, they must keep in mind the ways in which new technologies have affected information asymmetries. In order to maintain pace with innovations, these policies would have to be time bound and adaptable to the needs of the time.

Tabarrok and Cowen succinctly summarise the challenges of such reforms in their piece:

 These changes cast new light on the costs of a political system that produces many new regulations but repeals very few old ones.

Devika Kher is a Research Associate at Takshashila Institution. Her twitter handle is @DevikaKher

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Opportunity Cost

ಹಿಂದಿನ ಅಂಕಣದಲ್ಲಿ scarcity, trade-off ಹಾಗು innovation ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದೆ, ಈಗ trade-off ಮಾಡುವಾಗ ನಾವು ಯಾವ ಆಧಾರದ ಮೇಲೆ ಮಾಡಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಗಮನಿಸೋಣ. ಮೊದಲು ಒಂದು ಕಾಲ್ಪನಿಕ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಕಲ್ಪಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳೋಣ. ಮಂಜುನಾಥನು ತನ್ನ ಇಂಜಿನಿಯರಿಂಗ್ ಪದವಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆದಿರುವನು, ಆತನಿಗೆ “ಮಾಹಿವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ Technologies”ನಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ಕೆಲಸ ದೊರಕಿದೆ, ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು ವರ್ಷಕ್ಕೆ ೪ ಲಕ್ಷ ರುಪಾಯಿ ಸಂಬಳ . ಇದರೊಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಜಾಂಬಿಯ  ದೇಶದಲ್ಲ್ಲಿಸ್ನಾತಕೋತ್ತರ(post – graduate) ಪದವಿ ಓದಲು ಸ್ಥಾನ ದೊರಕಿದೆ. ನೀವು ಮಂಜುನಾಥನ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾವುದನ್ನು ಆಯ್ಕೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಿರಿ?

ಈ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಯ ಉತ್ತರವನ್ನು ನೋಡುವ ಮುನ್ನ, ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಒಂದು ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ನಿಯಮವನ್ನ ಅರ್ಥೈಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳೋಣ

Optimisation principle — ಮನುಷ್ಯನು ತನಗೆ ಇರುವ ಸೀಮಿತ ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಯಾವುದು ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠವೋ ಅದನ್ನೇ ಆಯ್ದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡುವನು.

ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಅಧ್ಯಯನದಲ್ಲಿ ಇದನ್ನು ನಾವು ನಿಜವೆಂದು ಭಾವಿಸಿ ಮುಂದುವರೆಯುತ್ತೇವೆ . ಮನುಷ್ಯನು ಇಷ್ಟೊಂದು ಆದರ್ಶ ಜೀವನ ನಡೆಸುವನೆಂದಲ್ಲ ಇದರ ಅರ್ಥ, ಇದು ಕೇವಲ ಅಧ್ಯಯನದ ಸರಳತೆಗಾಗಿ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡ ಊಹೆ*.ಯಾವುದೇ ಒಂದು ವಿಷಯವನ್ನ ನಾವು first-principlesನಿಂದ ಓದಲು ಹೊರಟರೆ, ಹೀಗೆ ಹಲವಾರು ideal assumptions ಮಾಡಬೇಕು. ಇದರಿಂದಲೇ ನಾವು ವಿಷಯವೆಂಬ ಕಟ್ಟಡದ  ಪಾಯ ಕಟ್ಟಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯ.

“ಏನೋ ಒಂದು ವಸ್ತು ಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಪರ್ಯಾಯವಾಗಿ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ವಸ್ತುವನ್ನು ತ್ಯಜಿಸುವೆವು. ಇದನ್ನೇ ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞರು (economists) “trade-off” ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ.  ತ್ಯಜಿಸುವ ವಸ್ತು ಹಣವಿರಬಹುದು, ಸಮಯವಿರಬಹುದು ಅಥವ ನೈಜ ಸ್ವರೂಪದ ವಸ್ತುವೇ ಆಗಿರಬಹುದು.” ಎಂದು ಹಿಂದಿನ ಅಂಕಣದಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದ್ದೆವು. ಹೀಗಿದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು ಯಾವುದಾದರು ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ trade-off ಮಾಡಬೇಕಾದರೆ, ಆ trade-offನಿಂದ ನಮಗೆ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದನ್ನೇ ಆಯ್ದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು optimisation principleಗೆ ಅನುಗುಣವಾಗಿದೆ. ಆದರೆ trade-off ಮಾಡುವಾಗ ಏನನ್ನು ಪರಿಗಣಿಸಬೇಕು? ಸಾಧಾರಣವಾಗಿ ನಾವು ಕೇವಲ ಮೊತ್ತ(price) ನೋಡಿ ನಿರ್ಧರಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ, ಇದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದೇ, ಆದರೆ ನಾವು ಮೊತ್ತವನ್ನ ತುಲನಾತ್ಮಕವಾಗಿ ನೋಡಬೇಕು . ಹೀಗೆ ನೋಡುವಾಗ “opportunity cost” ನಮಗೆ ಅದರ ಉತ್ತರವನ್ನ ನೀಡುತ್ತದೆ .

“Opportunity cost” ಎಂದರೆ ನಾವು ಒಂದನ್ನ ಪಡೆಯಲು ಇನ್ನೋದನ್ನು ತ್ಯಜಿಸಿರುವ ವಸ್ತುವಿನ  ಮೌಲ್ಯ. ಈ ಅಂಕಣವನ್ನ ಬರೆಯಲು ಸುಮಾರು ೧ ಘಂಟೆ ವಿನಿಯೋಗವಾಗಿರಬಹುದು, ಈ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಂದು tv ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮವನ್ನು ನೋಡಬಹುದಿತ್ತು,  ಅದನ್ನ ನೋಡುವಾಗ ಸಿಗುವ ಲಾಭ(ಅಥವ ಹಿತ)ವೇ ಈ ಅಂಕಣ  ಬರೆಯುಯುವುದರ “Opportunity cost”.

ನಾವು ಯಾವುದೇ ಕಾರ್ಯ ಚಟುವಟಿಕೆ ನಡೆಸಿದರೂ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ “opportunity cost” ಇರುವುದು. ಹೀಗೆ ಯೋಚಿಸುವುದು ಮೊದಲಿಗೆ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ  ಕಷ್ಟವಾಗಬಹುದು, ಆದರೆ ಹೀಗೆ ಯೋಚನೆ ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ನಾವು ಉತ್ತಮ trade-off ಗಳನ್ನ ಪಡೆಯಬಹುದು. ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಸರಳ ಉದಾಹರಣೆ: ಒಬ್ಬ ಗಣಿತ ಹಾಗು ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಯು ಸಮಯವನ್ನ ಕೇವಲ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನವನ್ನು ಓದಲು ವಿನಿಯೋಗಿಸಿದರೆ, ಗಣಿತವು opportunity cost ಆಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೀಗೆಯೇ Opportunity costನ  ತತ್ವವನ್ನು ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ಮಂಜುನಾಥನು(ಮೊದಲ ಪ್ಯಾರ) ಏನು ಮಾಡಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ಓದುಗರು commentನೀಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾಚಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.  ಇದರೊಂದಿಗೆ  opportunity cost, ideal assumption ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಆಂಗ್ಲಪದಗಳ ಸರಳ ಕನ್ನಡ ಅನುವಾದನ್ನು ತಿಳಿದಿದ್ದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ commentಮಾಡುವುದಾಗಿ  ಕೇಳಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತೇನೆ.


ವರುಣ ರಾಮಚಂದ್ರ ತಕ್ಷಶಿಲಾ ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ನೀತಿ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಕ. Twitterನಲ್ಲಿ  @_quale


* ನಾವು ಬಹಳಷ್ಟುಸಲ ಹೀಗೆ ವರ್ತಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಮನುಷ್ಯನು ಈ ತರಹದ ಆದರ್ಶಗಳನ್ನ ಪಾಲಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದೇ ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞರು behavioural economics ಎಂಬ ವಿಷಯದ ಮೇಲೆ ಸಂಶೋಧನೆ ನಡೆಸುತ್ತಾರೆ



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ಅಭಾವ – ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಮೊದಲ ಪಾಠ

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

– Thomas Sowell

ಇತ್ತೀಚಿಗೆ ದೆಹಲಿ ಸರ್ಕಾರವು ೪೦೦ ಯುನಿಟ್ ವಿದ್ಯುತ್ ಹಾಗು ೨೦,೦೦೦ ಲೀಟರ್ ನೀರನ್ನು ಉಚಿತವಾಗಿ ನೀಡುವ ಘೋಷಣೆ ಮಾಡಿತು. ಇದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ನೀತಿಯೋ ಅಲ್ಲವೋ? ನಾವು ದಿನನಿತ್ಯ ಈ ತರಹದ ಹಲವಾರು ಆರ್ಥಿಕ ಸುದ್ಧಿಗಳನ್ನ ಓದುತ್ತೇವೆ, ಈ ಸುದ್ಧಿಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಏನಾದರೂ ಒಂದು ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯವೂ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ, ಆದರೆ ಈ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯದ ಹಿಂದೆ ಧೃಢವಾದ ವಿದ್ವತ್ತು ಇರುವುದು ಬಹಳ ಕಡಿಮೆ.  ಕೇವಲ ಪ್ರೌಢ ಶಾಲೆಯವರೆಗೆ  ಓದು-ಬರಹ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದರೂ ಒಬ್ಬ ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟಿಗನ ಬ್ಯಾಟ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಸರಾಸರಿಯನ್ನು(Average)  ನೋಡಿದರೆ ನಮಗೆ ಸಹಜವಾಗಿಯೇ ಅದರ(ಸರಾಸರಿಯ) ಅರ್ಥ ತಿಳಿಯುವುದು ಆದರೆ ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ(Economics)ದ  ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಜ್ಞಾನವು ಅಷ್ಟು  ಸ್ಪುಟವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ.  ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಶಾಲೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ  ನಾವು ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನ ಕಡೆಗಣಿಸಿರುವುದೇ ಕಾರಣ. ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವೆಂದೊಡನೆ ನಾವು ಮೊದಲ ಪಂಚವರ್ಷೀಯ ಯೋಜನೆ, ಎರಡನೆ ಪಂಚವರ್ಷೀಯ ಯೋಜನೆ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿಗಳಬಗ್ಗೆ ಓದುತ್ತೇವೆ.  ನಿಜಹೇಳಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ ಇದು ಅರ್ಥ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವಲ್ಲ, ಇದು ಅರ್ಥ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಇತಿಹಾಸ (Economic History). ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಮೂಲಭೂತ ತತ್ವಗಳನ್ನು ಕ್ರಮವಾಗಿ ಓದುವುದು ಗಣಿತ, ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ ಹಾಗು ಭಾಷೆಗಳನ್ನು ಓದುವಷ್ಟೇ ಮುಖ್ಯ.

ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಮೊದಲ ಪಾಠ “ಅಭಾವ ”(Scarcity). ನಮ್ಮ ಜಗತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳ(resources) ಅಭಾವ  ಅನಾದಿಕಾಲದಿಂದಲೂ ಇದೆ. ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳ ಅಭಾವ  ಇದ್ದರೂ ನಮಗೆ ಅನಂತ ಬಯಕೆಗಳು(infinite wants).ಈ ಅಭಾವ -ಬಯಕೆಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಯೋಚಿಸುವ ಗುಣ ಮಹತ್ವಾಕಾಂಕ್ಷೆಯುಳ್ಳ ಮನುಷ್ಯನ ಲಕ್ಷಣ. ಹೀಗಿರುವಾಗ, ಮನುಷ್ಯನು ಅಭಾವದ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಯನ್ನು ಹೇಗೆ ಬಗೆಹರೆಸಿರುವನು? ನಮಗೆ ಅರಿವಿಲ್ಲದೆಯೇ ನಾವು ಈ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಯನ್ನು ಪರಿಹರಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ, ಏನೋ ಒಂದು ವಸ್ತು ಬೇಕಾದರೆ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಪರ್ಯಾಯವಾಗಿ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ವಸ್ತುವನ್ನು ತ್ಯಜಿಸುವೆವು. ಇದನ್ನೇ ಅರ್ಥಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞರು (economists) “trade-off” ಎಂದು ಕರೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ.  ತ್ಯಜಿಸುವ ವಸ್ತು ಹಣವಿರಬಹುದು, ಸಮಯವಿರಬಹುದು ಅಥವ ನೈಜ ಸ್ವರೂಪದ ವಸ್ತುವೇ ಆಗಿರಬಹುದು. ಗಮನವಿರಲಿ ಇದು ಅಧುನಿಕ ಸಮಾಜದ ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲ, ನಮಗೆ ಹಿಂದೆಯೂ ಸಂಪನ್ಮೂಲಗಳ ಅಭಾವ ಇತ್ತು ಮುಂದೆಯೂ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ.

ಅಭಾವವು ವ್ಯಾಪಕವಾಗಿ ಹರಡಿರುವ ಕಾರಣದಿಂದಲೇ ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧಾತ್ಮಕಭಾವನೆಯೂ ಬಂದಿರುವುದು. ನಮಗೆ ಬೇಕಾದುದನ್ನು ನಾವು ಪಡೆಯಬೇಕೆಂದರೆ ಇನ್ನು ಹಲವಾರು ಜನರನ್ನ ಮೀರಿಸಿಯೇ ಪಡೆಯಬೇಕು, ಇದು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ನಿಯಮ.    ಈ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧಾತ್ಮಕಭಾವವು ಕಠೊರವೆನಿಸಬಹುದು, ಆದರೆ ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮ ಸುತ್ತಮುತ್ತಲ ಜನರನ್ನ ಹಾಗು ಅವರ ನಡೆಯನ್ನ  ಗಮನಿಸಿದರೆ ಇದರ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಉದಾಹರಣೆಗಳು ಗೋಚರವಾಗುವುದು.  ಈ ನಿಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲೇ ನಾವು innovation ಕಡೆ ಸದಾ ಗಮನ ವಹಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಸಣ್ಣಪುಟ್ಟ ಸುಧಾರಣೆಗಳನ್ನ ನಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಳವಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತೇವೆ. ನಡೆಯಲು ಕಷ್ಟವೆಂದು ಗಾಲಿಯನ್ನು(wheel) ಕಂಡುಹಿಡಿದೆವು , ಗಾಲಿಯಿಂದ ಸೈಕಲ್, ಸೈಕಲಿನಿಂದ ಮೋಟರ್ ಸೈಕಲ್ ಹೀಗೆಯೇ ಮಂಗಳ ಗೃಹವನ್ನೇ ತಲುಪುವಷ್ಟು ಮುಂದುವರೆದಿದ್ದೇವೆ.

ಹೀಗೆ  tradeoff ಹಾಗು innovation ಅಭಾವದ ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಗೆ  ಹಿಂದೆಯೂ ಸಹಾಯ ನೀಡಿದೆ, ಮುಂದೆಯೂ ನೀಡುತ್ತದೆ

Footnote – tradeoff ಹಾಗು innovation ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಉದಾಹರಣೆ : ಸುಮಾರು ೨೦ ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಯಾವುದಾದರು ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಅಥವಾ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ತಿಳಿಯಬೇಕಿದ್ದರೆ ಗ್ರಂಥಾಲಯಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಹುಡುಕಿ ನಂತರ ಓದಬೇಕಿತ್ತು(ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಾವು ಜ್ಞಾನಕ್ಕೆ, ಸಮಯದ trade-off ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆವು) ಆದರೆ ಈಗ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನವು ಎಷ್ಟು ಮುಂದುವರೆದಿದೆಯೆಂದರೆ ವಿಕಿಪೀಡಿಯ ಮೂಲಕ ನಿಮಿಷಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ನಮಗೆ ಬೇಕಾದ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಬಹುದು. ಈಗ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯು ಸುಲಭವಾಗಿ ದೊರೆಯುತ್ತದೆ, ಆದರೆ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯ ಮಿತಿ ಎಷ್ಟರ ಮಟ್ಟಕ್ಕೆ(information overload) ಬೆಳೆದಿದೆಯೆಂದರೆ ನಮಗೆ ಮಾಹಿತಿಯನ್ನು ಗೃಹಿಸಲು ಕಷ್ಟವಾಗುತ್ತಿದೆ.

ವರುಣ ರಾಮಚಂದ್ರ ತಕ್ಷಶಿಲಾ ಸಂಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ನೀತಿ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಕ. Twitterನಲ್ಲಿ  @_quale


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