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Business and Life

  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    A lack of consensus on the remedy does not mean that the diagnosis is wrong. Mongolia at the moment is carried away by increasing revenue and glowing projections, and, in addition to their general refusal to take the people into confidence, election- mode politicians cannot afford to even hint that things could go wrong, for reasons over which the country has no control. Several quotes from hard-boiled analysts and dispassionate observers, included in the section “Parts of speech” elsewhere in this issue, confirm that events and decisions elsewhere could very well dampen the present exuberant optimism overflowing nationwide. (I had thought of calling it gung-ho, but desisted as that word comes from the Chinese ‘gonghe’ and so may not go down well in Mongolia.)
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    Two Indian women recently made news back home on their doings in Mongolia. One of them was 33-year-old Sucheta Kadethankar who was part of a team to traverse the Gobi on foot along a 1,623-km stretch, achieving the goal nine days before the 60-day deadline. Only seven of the 13 in the multi-national expedition lasted the course. As far as recorded accounts go, Sucheta is the first Indian woman to have achieved the feat. Another Indian woman in the team called it quits, but only after she had come more than half the way.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    This was my seventh Naadam, and though I do not believe that when you have seen one you have seen them all, I do confess that I was hit with dйjа vu and would have found it difficult to survive the holiday week without help from the Internet. Many young Mongolians tell me they felt the same. What does this shift in social habit mean for the race? And how do we, as part of an ever evolving world, adjust to this comparatively new adjunct to our existence? One result of using the Internet,  psychologists have shown, is that people are becoming more concerned about knowing where to find information rather than knowing the information itself.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    Having followed the chequered progress of the “Doha round” of talks all these years - not always understanding the specifics of the disagreements but never losing sight of the general  intransigence of the developed countries - I am not surprised that its latest instalment collapsed unceremoniously in Geneva late last month. So many things have overtaken the talks as the global economy stumbles on its way that the event has merited only passing mention in the media. In any case, the mainstream Western media have never shown much interest in the talks even though it affects every single country in the world. They turn their attention to the talks only when there is sensational bickering between the EU and US as to who is to blame for their collapse.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    “It is European techniques, European examples, European ideas which have shaken the non-European world out of its past, and the history of the world for the past five centuries, insofar as it has significance, has been European history.”: Hugh Trevor-Roper, historian.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    In its report prepared for Asian governments attending its recent annual meeting in Hanoi, the Asian Development Bank hinted that the widely predicted Asian century may not materialise. Before choruses in China and India, supported by those in Indonesia and Malaysia (and maybe Mongolia, too, where mere expression of wishes is often equated with actual fulfilment) cry “Cassandra”, it should be remembered that the prediction has not really come out of the blue. For some time now, prominent economists have been sceptical about Asia’s ability to keep growing at current rates and challenging the basically media-spread belief that Asia is set on an irreversible course to global economic dominance.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    Long used to being seen and also to seeing itself as a rowboat between two men-of-war or as a minnow between two large fish (or sharks, depending on your attitude), Mongolia is now basking in prospects of the future. But how are its two neighbours doing? China is obviously going great guns, but things may not be that bright with Russia.  By force of habit that has not worn off,  the ordinary person here  almost unthinkingly seems to take it for granted that the northern neighbour is a world force, as it was when it was big brother, and not just in the Orwellian sense.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    The euphoria about Mongolia becoming the Qatar of North Asia, about GDP rising three-fold in a decade and a half, about per capita income rising faster than in Shanghai, and many such predictions of overwhelming prosperity appear to have taken the mind of the people away from a threat more immediate. If the media have written about rising global food prices, I have missed it. To my mind, this is a matter of great concern for a country where wealth may very well be on its way, but the way is still long.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    It should be no surprise that mining companies – or, for that matter, all companies that have to keep shareholders (which means us) happy when dividends are declared – do not like environmetal activists, whom they see as busybodies restricting their revenue-earning pursuits. Even then, it was somewhat drastic of the Behre Dolbear group to warn miners some time ago in its annual risk assessment report that they should be ready for opposition to their legitimate activity from all sorts of disgruntled and destrucive elements masquerading as environmental groups. I am generally on the side of environmentalists but am aware that some of their demands on industry are difficult to concede, if only because the world is not an ideal place, and will never be one, and not just because of industries.
  • By Tirthankar Mukherjee

    The beginning of a year is a better time than most to remember those who passed away in the year just left behind. The idea of doing so for this column came to me as I was flying back to Mongolia and that explains, even if it does not excuse, the randomness of my choice, given the exigencies of space. All my choices were exceptionally gifted minds but I do not imply that their contribution to economic thought was more important than others I do not touch upon.
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