Salil Tripathi’s column “Books are not for burning”, Mint, 20 March, was interesting. Yes, that last scene in Apur Sansar has to be one of the most memorable scenes in cinematographic history... The article also brings to mind Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451—a futuristic society where books are forbidden, how they are secretly read by those who want to read them and the repressive measures against those who disobey the law. Most of all the haunting scenes from Francois Truffaut’s film, based on the same book, where people have finally memorized all that they want to... So, maybe the Laura manuscript (card notes) should be published, after all!
- Nandini Sra
This refers to the editorial “The rise and fall of conceit”, Mint, 19 March. I read the article with deep interest. The article seems to lay the blame for the debacle in financial markets solely on the number crunchers and not as much on the people who believed and took solace in all the mumbo-jumbo peddled out by the modellers.
To be fair to the modellers, their bit of work has been quite useful in the past and is finding increasing application in numerous fields hitherto unexplored. However, the point to be noted is that most modelling techniques seem to work under “normal” conditions and one extraordinary event (the Six Sigma or a one-in-a-million or Black Swan event) can bring down the edifice of mathematical modelling, with a huge thud!
How ever much we castigate the modellers and their techniques, we need to accept that the world cannot live without such skills. However, in a world which is increasingly and dangerously veering towards quick and huge gains, sanity needs to be maintained at the top levels of management, which needs to play the devil’s advocate in a more daring manner rather than be swept aside with the tide. Corporate governance, apart from perusing reams of sheets and data, applies to putting one’s ear to the ground and picking up danger signals ahead of others.
It is the dictum of the universe to always achieve a “state of equilibrium”. Whenever greed exceeds fear, the law of the universe comes into operation and it takes a definitive toll on the high and mighty!
- Chandru Badrinarayanan
Your edit “Consult, and then appoint”, Mint, 21 March, has reopened the issue of central bank independence. The edit gives an impression that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has enjoyed independence. You have quoted the refusal of the central monetary authority to reduce interest rates despite the pressure to do so as an example of its independence. This is quite a trivial issue when we observe that on important policies (dating back to July 1969 and April 1980 when major banks were nationalized) RBI was never consulted by the?Union government. Even with regard to the latest loan waiver proposal of Rs60,000 crore by the finance ministry in the Budget, there is no evidence of consultation.
At best, RBI has been engaged in academic exercise (good at that) on important policy matters, knowing fully well that it’s the government (read finance ministry) that has the final say.
All people who matter in the banking industry fully know about this, and the finance ministry has intelligently set precedents to demonstrate its authority.
- K.V. Rao