On the Eggs

Jai Choorakkot wants to know whether my attack on Dilip D’Souza amounts to a defence of reforms. That is a fair question to ask.  One of my pet peeves is that people believe that a successful counter-attack amounts to a defence of their own position. I’ve myself come down quite sharply on people whose defence of Mao amounted to saying that I am a hypocrite because I supposedly support Kissinger (or Pinochet – it was not clear who) So let’s accept that my attack on Dilip was an attack on Dilip, and move on to the question of reforms.

Jai is of the opinion that Dilip did not really mock supporters of reforms with that six eggs post, but asked valid questions. Like hell he did. Aadisht had written a well-analysed post, where he had pointed out that while people’s consumption of foodgrains had fallen, their consumption of virtually everything else – vegetables, pulses, meat, fish and eggs – had risen.  Dilip ignored the substance of the post, and focused on the rhetorical closing line and treated that as the substance of the argument.

Now, Aadisht had made a small, but important error. He concluded his post with the statement that the diet of the poor had increased by six eggs a year. His analysis actually indicated that the six eggs a year increase was for the population as a whole. (He himself told me this.) This point is important. When the poor come out of poverty, their diet improves drastically. But when the rich get richer, their diets do not improve all that much, because they are already eating well. So, when the diet of the population as a whole has grown up by some amount, it is reasonable to guess that the diet of the poor is gaining by a disproportionate amount. When I pointed this out to Dilip, his response was that he was “baffled”. (It is not clear by what.) He did not bother to update his view, and 2 years later, he repeated the same statement.

But wait, we do not have to rely on guesswork to figure out whether the diet of the poor has improved. An economist has done the analysis, and guess what, it has.  (My offer in that post still stands, BTW)

Finally,  supporters of reforms are not “happy” at the slow progress. We have, time and again, expressed our unhappiness about the speed. We have, time and again, tried to analyse the causes, and time and again given specific policy prescriptions that will speed up the progress. If your response to all this is to repeat the question, then there is nothing we can do.

3 thoughts on “On the Eggs

  1. I’m almost honored to have triggered a whole post. As I said earlier, I’m not aware of the history on this and am now reading Aadisht’s posts.

    I saw some reference to ‘richer’ food that people move to when they can afford it etc. in the discussions.

    I did not intend to imply that you, or anybody else, are happy with the slow progress. It strikes me that that is possibly an area of *agreement* between you and Dilip, and I was trying to highlight that.


Comments are closed.