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17. The Case of Mister Balram Halwai

17. The Case of Mister Balram Halwai


Prof: Well,
this is what a well-worn copy of White Tiger looks
like. The style of it is pretty
striking. Anybody want to take a shot at
other novels that it remind you of?
Yeah.
Student:
>Prof: Not the cover.
Student: It reminds me
of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.
Prof: Okay,
that’s one interesting suggestion.
Sophie Quinton, where are you?
What do you think?
Student: What do I
think of the book, or is this related to the warm
call email you sent me the other day?
Prof: The warm call.
Student: Well in the
back of White Tiger there’s sort of reading group
discussion with the author, and one of the thing’s the
author says that is kind of interesting is that his
inspiration for Balram was– he’s sort of a composite
character that came out of the author’s experience just hanging
out in slums and train stations, and in servants quarters,
and listening to what, basically, the underclass of
India are saying, and how they are thinking,
and it’s sort of– it’s interesting that Balram,
who’s such an angry character, is the embodiment of something
very real that Adiga, I guess, felt talking to people
on the streets. Prof: Okay that’s good.
In the–he also mentions three
American novelists in the back, did you notice that?
Student: No, I did not.
Prof: Okay.
Well it’s interesting,
the–I’ll quote him– the influences on White
Tiger are three black American writers of the post
World War II era: Ralph Ellison,
James Baldwin, and Richard Wright.
It has many ways to look at it,
it is written in a very straightforward style that
is–each paragraph is pretty straightforward.
The subtext about how it’s
being told is a little more complicated,
and one of the other things he says in the back which–
and this goes to the point Sophie made,
is that while none of the characters or incidents are
copied out of journalism, which is the author’s business,
all of them are meant to be representative of something real
in Indian life, so that the book is literally
fiction, but has a purpose like many of
the best works of fiction, has a purpose of describing
something that is very real. Are there ways in which fiction
can do a better job than social science of telling the truth
about a country? Anybody got a thought about
that? Yes?
Student: Well it’s an
art form, and something like social
science can’t really say well this makes me feel this,
or this is like the nuance of that,
and that’s where art plays in. I mean–also,
I mean, it’s mass media too in a lot of ways,
so you can reach a lot more people through this and have it
easily understood. Prof: Okay,
its mass media, but it actually does something
that most non-fiction written by academics can’t do;
economists, political scientists, people like that,
by and large a little wooden and rigid, little category
bound, a little obsessed with methodology.
And this book covers a huge
swath of very complicated aspects of a society which,
as far as I can tell, is top half dozen in the way of
complexity in the world. I mean the structure of–the
historical structure of India and the incredible rate of
economic and sociological change have very few equals elsewhere.
Evia, have I got that name
right? Again and again the concept of
the darkness comes up in the book;
help us to try to understand that.
Student: Yes I think
it’s sort of literally and figuratively the darkness of
India, the parts of India that have
sort of left behind in the all the development and
globalization, where there’s no electricity
so, like, literally it’s dark when the
sun goes down, and where there’s also a lack
of like basic necessities, like sanitation.
And, like, proper food,
and I think also the darkness of sort of corruption and
bribery, and like, theoretically there
being resources, but those getting funneled into
the hands of, like for example,
the great socialist whose campaign to sort of lift the
darkness out of the darkness, but ended up just getting sort
of sucked into the bribery of people in the upper castes in
the town and continuing to take advantage of the lower caste,
like of the>
Prof: From the point of
view of village India, deep in the darkness,
is it clear one way or the other whether the economic–
miracle may be too strong a word, but the incredible
progress in overall development that’s been made since about
1990, is a good thing or a bad thing?
Student: I think–like
I think it kind of goes both ways,
and I think he talks about it in that–
I guess he sort of talks about it as the difference between the
north and the south or what like the two cities he was in.
When development gets kind of
entrenched in corruption and then it ends up being a bad
thing, and ends up taking advantage of people at the
bottom. But I think,
to me, it seemed a little optimistic that it can be a good
thing in places where it’s been done properly.
Prof: Okay,
you have it in the back of your mind an idea or two about what
doing capitalism properly means? Student: Well not
really. I guess–
Prof: I’ll bet you do. Student: You know not
corruption, not bribing policemen to–
Prof: Okay, not corruption,
not bribery. Student: I mean
there–I don’t know if it’s–there are I guess a lot of
things but I think that’s what he tells us.
Prof: Now let’s go on
and we’ll find some of them. Sudir–there’s a passage in–I
think it’s the first night in the book about–I think it’s
four animals, am I right?
Student: Yeah.
Prof: Who represent
people–can you help us with it? Student: Sure I
think–the first point is that Adiga’s making a statement of
how– and quite unabashedly,
landowners as animals, who in this case quite
literally feed off>
physical and human resources.
The other obvious point is that
the animal’s Adiga chooses to represent the landlords aren’t
particularly glamorous. I think he has a view of
landowners as tacky, crass, lazy,
and it’s clear that one of the few reasons or main reasons that
they hold a position of power in society is they’ve probably
descended from families of landowners who have a long kind
of history of exploiting and extorting from the poor.
Prof: Okay.
Now here’s an interesting
parallel. If you think about the–about
Clark’s Farewell To Alms, one of the big lessons there is
that land is the primary basis of economic return in pre-modern
societies, and loses its relative standing
with development. If Adiga is right are the
stork, the raven, the wild boar and who else?
Student: Buffalo.
Prof: And the
buffalo–are they basically fossils of a previous era
grasping for the last straws of a powerbase that will go away,
or given the nature of rural India will they persist in that
position generation after generation,
do you think? Student: You know it’s
hard for me to kind of identify the trajectory of India’s
development persisted– I don’t know how much of–I
guess I mean rural India is a large–
makes a large chunk of the country and the economy,
for what it’s worth, so I think there are probably,
in the foreseeable future, there’s probably a very good
chance that characters like these four will still retain a
good deal of influence in those spheres.
I mean obviously corporations
are making their way into these–
into rural areas and setting up innovation camps and large
offices, but to the extent that India
is–the rural base is strong, I think these people will
thrive. Prof: Okay,
and if capitalism seeks economies of scale as its want
to do, small landholding will be
eventually undermined by large-scale landholding,
and agricultural development on a vast scale.
That would be the textbook
hypothesis. If you look at what’s happening
in Brazil, for example,
development on the scale of farms twenty-five or thirty-five
miles square, twenty-five by twenty-five say,
is commonplace. Maybe India’s different,
and the reason it may be different is that the
indigenous– the density of indigenous rural
population is much higher, and the process by which land
would be aggregated may happen quite a lot slower.
Maximillian?
Where did the title of the book
come from and how do you understand it?
Student: He calls it
The White Tiger because Balram stands out of all
the other servants like a white tiger stands out of–
white tiger stands out of their–I don’t know other
animals who are not albinos because they’re so rare.
There’s one incident leading up
to Balram coming to white tiger that is,
I guess, where they are on the way with the two sons of his
masters to bribe the minister and Balram reaches out to a
beggar intuitively to help him and he gives him some money,
and the sons of his master get really angry with him giving him
the money, and they start to complain
about how many taxes they have to pay you and that they are
already helping the poor. Yeah, that’s how he realizes
that the entrenched inequalities in Indian society will perhaps
persist despite India’s new prosperity.
Prof: Okay good.
Do you remember the part about
the schoolhouse early on where there’s a surprise inspection,
does anybody remember this? Am I drawing a blank here?
Over there–
Student: Yeah in the beginning I believe there’s a
surprise inspection and he’s– the inspector comes in an asks
the students a bunch of different questions,
and really nobody’s able to give any good answer except for
Balram, and he then asks him,
I guess, what’s the– he asks him a certain question.
I forget exactly what the
question is but the answer was that it’s a White Tiger,
that’s the most unique. Prof: Okay so he gets
named White Tiger for being uniquely talented in a situation
where talent is not being developed.
How does the schoolroom
operate, do you remember that? Student: Well it’s
interesting that Balram didn’t actually blame the teacher,
because I guess the teacher like would steal the uniforms
and all the resources that came, but I think the one point
Balram even says, like, well, I mean,
no one really blames him because his payment also gets
taken by someone else. So the teacher–there’s just
like a chain of corruption that ends and the teacher basically
stealing the resources that were meant for the kids and just
sleeping all day or– and while the kids do whatever.
Prof: Okay
they’re–quite often there’s a mention of the fact that the
teacher was snoring while the students were supposed to be
learning somehow from one another.
You’re right in that.
I think the narrator says
something like, “Those who live in a dung
heap can’t be expected to smell well.”
Student: Right.
Prof: So there’s a kind
of environmental explanation–social
environmental explanation. What do we think?
Is this a man bites dog story,
or is corruption a fairly major issue in Indian society?
Who’s got an opinion?
Student: I think it’s a
fairly major issue because even when you make the transition
into the lightness in the book, you still get severe corruption
of course with– you know the–Balram’s boss
going to give the big bags of money to the government.
So I think it’s corruption that
pervades every level, and kind of the light is a
little bit of a deceptive name for what Balram was into because
even at the height of his success the only way he can
succeed is by killing someone and then by paying off the
policeman. Prof: Okay,
that’s elegantly put but its evidence from fiction about
fiction. What–the judgment I’m looking
for is, is his claim that the book represents broadly truthful
patterns in the society or not? You buy it or not?
Student: Well I mean
having– I was in India myself several
times, and having many friends from
there, I’ve definitely heard
considerable stories of corruption.
I mean I’m not in a position to
judge the society as a whole but it seems like it would have an
element of truth to it certainly.
Prof: Okay,
has anybody glanced at one of the world rankings from,
say, Transparency International or other organizations which
evaluate levels of corruption? Okay the Socratic Method stops
here. India is near the top of the
world table in corruption as an issue perceived by people in
business as problematic. Anybody with substantial
experience want to contradict or elaborate on this point?
Yes.
We need a microphone in the
middle. Student: For large part
of people staying in India, especially doing business
there, corruption has almost become a way of life,
so they see it–they’d rather call the system flexible than
calling it corrupt. If you want to get a government
sanction, which would generally take
three months, you can get it done in three
days if you pay an additional amount and that’s the premium–
that’s the premium not corruption, so for a large part
of the society it’s a flexible system rather than a corrupt
system. Prof: Okay,
and the good American economist would call it?
Student: The
efficiencies in the market that is exploiting them.
Prof: Inefficiencies due
to rent-seeking, right?
Student: Exactly.
Prof: Rent seeking,
I love the concept. Danielle , right on the–are
you here Danielle? Hi, Dr.***Rampundi is it, Pambi?
Student: Something like
that. Prof: Something like
that. Tell us about that incident in
the book and give us something about what you think it means.
Student: Okay so on
page forty-one in the book there’s–
when they’re all sitting in–and the White Tiger has
taken his father to the hospital and they’re sitting in the
waiting room waiting for a doctor who won’t come,
and an old Muslim man starts telling a story about this
fictitious doctor, Dr. Rampandi and he talks
about how the socialists sells off plots of like districts to
doctors, and the doctors buy these
districts, almost like a feudal system,
and then the doctors in those districts will–
he’ll take part of the salaries from these doctors and then tell
them oh well now you can just go off and work for a private
hospital, you don’t have to worry about
these people, I’ll write it down in my ledger
that you’ve been there. Basically the government is on
a totally different strata, and all the money or benefits
just get written down or written away,
and these people are left dying or with wounded legs,
like the Muslim man, and he’s just sort of laughing
about it. There’s this sense like–with
the Muslim man and all the people in the waiting room
they’re sort of laughing about their problems or bragging about
them because– I mean his father dies in the
end, Balram’s father dies in the end because his doctor never
comes, so the corruption and the
resources are just like strewn about and there’s just that.
Prof: Okay,
now that passage is actually quite polemical the way it’s
written. It probably overstates,
right–there are probably a hell of lot of places where you
actually can see the doctor, and the doctor does pay
attention to people he’s supposed to pay attention to,
but the general pattern described there–
what’s wrong with corruption? Corruption–I mean,
it–there are serious people who think corruption is not
altogether a bad thing. For example,
there are people who write about American cities and say if
you have to choose between corruption and civil service
bureaucrats who do everything to the letter of the law,
take corruption. An example is–historical
example was the Fulton Fish Market in New York,
which was run by the mafia for a long time, and ran pretty
efficiently. There was some rent seeking and
some buyons but it worked, and then Rudy Giuliani took it
over and put in clean bureaucrats to run it,
and people thought well it may not actually run as well this
way. Now but there is–there’s
counterpoint to that. There’s some big themes about
why corruption is, from the point of view of
growth and development and human welfare,
probably not on average a great thing.
Did you have a comment?
Student: Well yeah we
can almost go back to Adam Smith in this regard,
but not what he’s most famous for, but he’s–
he kind of gives us self interest, but it’s not this
naked, isolated form of self interest.
He said capitalism only
functions upon a foundation of ethical participants,
and if not, it’s brutally, grossly inefficient because you
can’t get the right information around the right time.
Prof: Terrific, right?
This is a huge point in
understanding Smith. Smith is a moralist,
Smith in his own time his famous book wasn’t this it was
The Theory Of Moral Sentiments,
and Smith is saying, “Articulate self interest
frankly pursued, within a framework of honest
communication, and with a government in the
background that enforces contract and prohibits fraud,
within that framework self interest creates an upward draft
on an economy. But if you take away that
framework, the ethical aspects of people’s
beliefs and the proper functioning of the government in
enforcing contract and related things,
you take all that away, thus the invisible hand story
works if anything in reverse. We’re inclined to just assume
that to just march too quickly by the issue of that
foundational issue. The–have I asked you this?
How many of you have done Ben
Pollack’s course on Game Theory? That’s really–I recommend it
to all of you, but think about this problem.
Suppose you are operating in a
system where everybody else is willing to lie in order to
profit, and each one of those other
people assume that about all the people she or he is dealing
with. How do you form a strategy to
make a business run? The answer is that it is
virtually impossible, because you cannot anticipate
the way people respond to straightforward incentives.
It’s a big deal and getting out
of that dilemma right– another way to put it is
there’s a famous philosophical example,
one version of which is a sentence written inside a box
which says this sentence is a lie,
or the sentence in this box is a lie.
How do you interpret that?
True or false?
False if true,
true if false, you can’t get anywhere with
that; very hard to live that way.
Vivek?
Caste is a really complex
cultural structure which I’ve read a little about and talked
to Indians a little about, and it’s obviously important.
Help the uninitiated here a
little bit. Student: Sure.
I did some research last night
but I think I got my most profound revelation when I
talked to one of my best friends from India.
He gave me an incredible
perspective on caste and most people don’t actually know about
that; I didn’t know about it and I’m
going to go a little bit into the history of caste,
because it’s–it’s honestly fascinating.
Caste actually started out as a
really advanced complex system that we see in today’s
capitalist world. It started as division of labor.
It started off as promoting
specialization. Caste–a caste wasn’t a bad
thing when it first started. It just means that people were
specialized in certain trades. For example,
we have blacksmiths and we had traders, and we had people on
different sectors of the economy here.
Similarly we had castes in
India, and they weren’t, sadly, constraining,
they were just indicating what you are best at,
its division of labor. Caste actually started
degrading, unfortunately, and it’s actually gone through
some de-evolution. This was catalyzed when the
British came. When the British came they
didn’t grasp caste as– and the advanced system of
division of labor and specialization,
they grasped caste as a more feudal system,
and so they started perpetuating this thought that
once you’re born in a caste you’re stuck in a caste forever,
and that’s what started bringing the negative
connotations toward caste. That’s what started making
caste constraining and that– I guess the best way to put
this is that the– after the British came,
it basically started destroying the cult.
People started being born in
castes and they started think–believing they were
relegated to these castes. If you look at the book,
Balram ended a passage of the quote that there are only two
destinies: eat or get eaten up. And that just shows the caste
evolved from being an advanced concept of division of labor,
or specialization to something that you’re constrained too.
I think that today the only
thing that separates caste from an advanced capitalist structure
is mobility. In the caste,
there’s not mobility because you’re born into a system and
you’re stuck with it forever. And in the American system for
example, you at least have the hope and
the ability to move from caste– from trade to trade,
from caste to caste, and I think that’s a trend
that’s going to be reversed. Prof: Well–and at the
foundation of India as a democracy in 1947 there was a
huge emphasis on the dalit, the untouchables,
and on making sure that they had opportunities similar to
other people. Anybody know anything about
that effort? Yes.
Student: There–The
Mundill Commission started this program where–
kind of like affirmative action here,
but much more restrictive in the sense that they are
numerical quotas. So there are quotas for three
types of people: OBC’s,
other backward classes, which is not necessarily as
much cast, or jati, but more
about economics. So a brahmin,
which is the highest caste can also be part of this caste–
I mean part of this relic designation,
if they do not earn as much as they are supposed to,
like ten rupees a month or something like that.
Then you have Adivasis,
which is a scheduled tribe system, and then you also have a
scheduled caste system which goes back to the original caste.
Now what’s really interesting
about the caste system as– it was just mentioned that
there is no mobility, but in essence,
there’s still differences going on in India right now,
so people do move around–can move around.
For example,
they can go in and out of the OBC category,
so that still exists. Then these designations happen
in government positions, so in IIT’s which is–as you
know Hyundai was from IIT, and all these other
institutions that are government institutions like the proportion
of the population that is in any of these designations have to
have those seats in those institutions.
Prof: Good,
admirably done. Jasmine, I asked Jasmine to
think about the passage which begins with chopping onions
unusually early in the morning, and then the discoveries which
followed that, and what it might tell us about
the role of religion. Student: Yeah.
On page ninety in The White
Tiger it talks about like a discovery of Balram,
about the number one driver Ram Prasad,
and basically he just–he found out that Ram Persad was a Muslim
because he was observing Ramadan and he was not eating.
He was chopping up onions in
the dark because he has to fast during the day,
and so Balram was able to use this fact as an advantage to
him, and basically because the
landlord is a Hindu and there is kind of like a religious tension
between the Hindu majority and Muslim’s in traditional parts of
India, so when he talked to another
servant about this and he was able to make his way to Delhi
because he was using this fact to his advantage.
Prof: Okay,
so historically this cleavage between Muslim and Hindu has
been a huge actor in the history of South Asia?
Student: Yes.
Basically I guess a lot of
Hindu’s thought that Muslims was like an invader culture,
and also in like the 1947 when they had–
well basically India was subdivided into Pakistan,
like the Muslim subcontinent–Muslim country and
the, like, now modern India.
Prof: Good.
The other layer is captured in
the line in the book, “there is no hatred like
that of the number two servant for the number one
servant.” That close conflict we
recognize–you see that everywhere around here,
you see it even on the faculty. Susie Park?
That’s the question.
I was going to ask you about
servant hostility to servant and so on.
Student: Well I
guess–well basically it’s kind of similar to servant hostility
to masters, I think, because,
like, when you look at, like, the person to person,
like you’re not actually hating the person themselves,
but more like–because you’re–like he has this,
kind of like, bitterness at the system
itself, but then, like,
in some parts of the book it said they don’t dare,
like, blame the bigger government, like the nation
itself, but they’re more about like
blaming like the local like smaller like level,
and like the landlords–so it’s kind of like they are–
like the White Tiger was more into like hitting the number one
driver rather than like the system itself.
Prof: Right and so the
idea is the displacement of hostility to the huge system
onto the little system within the household.
Nafez the–there’s–I think one
of the great lines in the book is the one about the coop;
the chicken coop is guarded from within.
What’s all that?
Student: I mean the way
I interpret it was it’s more like a social construct,
where I mean if you just look at the back of the book it says,
Balram Halawi is a complicated man servant,
philosopher, entrepreneur,
etc., but when you’re inside the coop you’re only thinking of
how can I be a better servant. So it’s a social construct
whereby, I mean, we can even relate it
to the hatred of servant one– servant two to servant one is
because the servant– you’re not thinking of becoming
a master, what you’re aspiring to is
servant one, and it just scares you to get
out of that social construct and the only way to get out of it is
to resolve to something extreme like killing your master.
Prof: Okay so that often
the victims of a hugely oppressive situation are hostile
more to people who are their peers or near peers then to
people who are their vast superiors,
and that’s a pretty good generalization actually.
Sebastian?
There we are.
Tell us about the car accident.
Student: All right,
so in page 137 there’s a– Pinky Madam decides that she
wants to drive, tells the driver to get out,
then she comes back, she’s very drunk at this point,
comes back, gets in–tells the driver to
get back in the car and then drives off and hits something.
At first we don’t know what it
is, we quickly discover it’s a child,
and everyone’s kind of in shock and I think–
I don’t know if you want me to say more of the details of the
accident, but the biggest implication is
that then Balram is asked to take the blame for this
accident, this master’s wife committed.
Instead of thinking of how he
cannot take the blame, he kind of starts automatically
assuming how am I going to survive in jail,
what am I going to do to survive?
I think it goes back to that
thing that we were just talking about on the rooster coop,
where it’s just absolute perpetual servitude;
it’s kind of very much intrinsic.
Prof: Okay, good.
Now–and what this is
straightforward- -straightforward criminal
corruption. It’s a criminal act that the
Kosh couple are committing and The White Tiger basically just
lives with it. Later in the book–Ann where
are you? Later in the book the concept
of rage gets to be center stage, I think on page 196 is it;
help us with that, what’s going on with that?
Student: Well I think
to a certain extent he realizes that the only way for him to
escape kind of from the rooter coop is to do something extreme.
One thing that he talks about
when he describes the whole rooster coop analogy is that
like he mentions family as part of that explanation.
He says that family is like the
thing– that family is the thing that
keeps you in the coop and so I think like he needs a really
powerful emotion to counteract the family ties in order to
break free. Prof: Okay,
so he’s in two different coercive networks,
one to do with his own family and another to do with the
family which employs him. Jake are you here?
The most dramatic passage in
the book has to do with the ulterior uses of a whiskey
bottle. Student: Right.
Balram uses the bottle to kill
the son of his employer, and he does this to steal the
money that Ashok was going to use to bribe officials and he’s
go off, takes it, and starts his own
life. Prof: Okay,
how do you interpret what he does?
Student: I saw it sort
of emblematic of the new India, sort of taking over and sort of
replacing the old India, that Ashok and his family are
sort of representative of because he’s the son of a
landowner, he’s wealthy,
and he’s using his money to try to keep himself in power by
bribing these officials, and Ashok takes that money–or
Balram takes the money and he goes and uses it to sort of
start his own business and get himself up to the top.
Prof: As he says an act
of entrepreneurship. Student: Right.
Prof: There was a huge
amount of parody in this. Do you think–how do you judge
him for this? Student: I mean I would
say that it was–I wouldn’t condone it, but I can sort of
understand it. Prof: Would you go so
far as to say justifiable homicide?
Student: Not
justifiable in the sense that he–
the man that he murdered deserved it,
but for him it was the only way to break out of the life that he
had been living and– to me it just sort of–it
really captured just how traumatic for a society–
a change like modernization can be.
Everyone’s scrambling to get
themselves ahead and in the process people get stepped on,
people– Prof: Okay so you see it
as a rational act? Student: Yeah.
Prof: Not an act of rage?
Student: Yeah I think
it was definitely a rational act, but I don’t know if that
justifies it. Prof: Okay well I don’t
think it justifies it. I’m not much on justifiable
homicide as a cultural trope, but it makes it easy to
understand, doesn’t it? Amy Chu in the law school has a
book about– it begins with a story from her
own family in the Philippines, and in it her grandmother is
murdered by the family chauffer. The police record where motive
is recorded as just one word: revenge.
And the relationship between
people who are completely dependent servants of
arbitrary– families who behave arbitrarily
and cruelly, this is an ancient story,
and it’s one that’s easy to understand.
Now let’s get back to bigger
picture. Why is Balram so weak?
Well there’s–I had another–I
asked somebody about English language, who did I ask?
Okay then I’ll ask myself.
English plays a huge part in
the class structure of a society like India.
The–let’s just list Balram’s
weaknesses economically. One is English is not his first
language, his family and the debt to The Stork,
was it– Student: And the debt
was the brother and sister dowry.
Prof: Yeah.
The debt which gets him jerked
out of school and which is a constant burden to the family,
that’s another weakness. He drops out of school because
his uncle rips him out of school actually, forcefully.
Other weaknesses?
Caste, he is not from an
advantaged caste. Sweet makers,
I don’t quite understand why that disadvantage but–what
about the world demographic transition?
The world demographic
transition bearing down on this young man at all?
Yes because the huge surge of
population in the darkness of India creates a devastatingly
plentiful supply of unskilled labor so that the market
equilibrium price of unskilled labor is very,
very low. The standards you have to use
in treating employees in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs
in order to keep them with you are near zero.
Rickshaw puller,
rickshaw pullers have essentially no market power and
it has everything to do with demography.
It also, of course,
has to do with educational opportunity,
command of the lingua of the country,
all those things, but when we talk about the
demographic transition it’s this ultimately benign story about
going from short lives and many babies,
to long lives and fewer babies over a period of time.
But there’s a huge coercive
aspect to the way it works out during the transition for people
who don’t have demographic luck. Luck of a–luck–big time luck,
historical luck is a pretty big thing.
I’ll give you another example,
New Haven had very few black citizens before World War II,
and at the time that World War II, when southern agriculture
was pushing labor off the land most of the black families who
ever came to New Haven came here in about a fifteen-year period,
and they came in search of industrial employment.
Exactly a decade before that
industrial employment collapsed, and went guess where?
South.
The industrial employment went
south seeking lower energy costs and cheaper labor so that the
economic– it’s of course a much more
complex story, but the timing couldn’t have
been worse, and Balram’s timing in
demographic history couldn’t have been much worse.
Now Wednesday’s case about
Selco [Video 43:53-47:15]. A couple of announcements in
closing. The case is in two parts,
A and B; both are posted on classes V2
for Wednesday’s class. On Monday I will be here only
by video. I’m in Washington Monday and
I’m going to speak the lecture to a lens and play it in my own
absence, but otherwise everything will
be normal and the exams will come back on Wednesday.
My impression is that the
grades are outrageously high.

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