Why I chose Path 1


Bhau (Class XI, 2018-19) explains why he joined Path 1.

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What bananas can teach us

Look at these three bananas.

I bought the first one from a fruitseller near the municipality office in Suri. I took a photo of it before having it.

I bought the second one from the newly opened More supermarket at Suri. I took a photo of it too and then ate it. I must say, that taking the photo of the second one was more pleasurable than eating it.

The first one didn’t look as good as the second one, but tasted far superior. The second banana which looked healthier, had a more pleasing colour, and had fewer wrinkles, tested bland and powder-y.

I downloaded the photo of the third one from the web. They say it is from a supermarket from a developed country. It does look far better than our first and second banana. Longer, more perfect in shape. But going by the trend, maybe it will be even more tasteless than the second banana!

Things that look good may not always taste good.

Things that sound good may not always give you a good experience.

For example, ‘Stanford University’ sounds good, but who knows whether it is going to be the best for you? ‘Investment banking’ sounds good, but have you actually talked to an investment banker to know how his job is? Come on, even IIT sounded quite good before Sir explained why it may not be great.

To judge what might give you a good experience, you need to actually experience it, or at least you need to think deeply about it.

When it came to choosing the ‘path’, I was not lured by what sounds good. I knew I already experienced the best place in the world.

To tell you the truth, I did not always know this is the best place in the world. I liked it here, sure, but I thought surely the world outside must be full of such places like our school, even better ones.

Wisdom came suddenly, when I visited Delhi with Sir to attend a conference. A high-level educational conference, attended by many principals, even senior members from the ministry. There were many speeches, panel discussions. There were many informal conversations I had with people.

During the whole of that time, I did not meet even as many sensible, intelligent people as I have inside my tiny, 12-student classroom.

I understood that the world outside may not be as advanced as we thought.

But I am happy to report I met one interesting person. Well, he would fit right in here at our school. A senior journalist from the Economic Times, we had a great dinner together. Many interesting conversations, almost as good as our class discussions. But one thing that he told Sir stuck with me.

He said, “Your boys will find it very difficult to adjust to the world outside. After Levelfield, everything else will seem a compromise, second-rate.”

Sir said, “No, no, they will not go to such second-rate places — my students will go to top universities abroad — Harvard, Princeton, Yale etc.”

He replied with a smile, “Yes, even those places will be unsatisfactory for them.”

That comment suddenly put everything into perspective. I understood why I found the conference so unsatisfactory. I also understood the look of utter admiration that I see from some of the visitors that we meet at the school.

I must talk a bit about the visitors.

Me and Motu are often entrusted to talk to the visitors, show them around. There are many school principals who come. There are some who wants to build a school. Some are journalists who are sent to cover the school. Regardless of their motive, their background, almost all of them are awed by what they see here.

They cannot believe that such a place exists. They cannot talk enough about it. There is invariably a look of utter admiration on their faces, looking at what has been achieved here in less than ten years.

Given the pace of progress, I know even more will be achieved in the next ten years, and I am absolutely sure that I want to part of that creation.

Why would I like to go out in the imperfect world when I can be a part of building perfection?

Why I joined Path 1


Motu (Class XI, 2018-19) explains why he joined Path 1.

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To answer that, let me go back to June 2016, when I spent quite a few evenings with Sir, working on designing the five pre-primary apps that our school made.

It was a great time. We discussed, debated and felt intellectually challenged. Whenever we hit a roadblock, Sir was always ready with a solution. We took just an evening each to design each of these apps. We then got them coded, and very soon we could see the fruits of our work inside the baby classrooms. It felt very satisfying that we identified a problem, quickly designed a technological solution, and very soon our product is being used on a daily basis.

I read in many articles (particularly in Philosopher’s mail) that it is very difficult in the modern world to see the connection between what you do in your office, and the final product that your company produces. That seemed scary. In future, I wanted to do something that has a more direct impact.

In our school, I have always been involved in various kinds of work. I helped out during the contest week and sports days. I talked to the parents to explain our school’s apps. I fixed many technological issues in the computer lab. I worked on and tested many of the apps that the school produced. I loved working on all of those, because I could see how they are immediately useful. I wanted to continue to do work that’s relevant and useful.

Our school taught us a lot of relevant and useful stuff. We learnt to speak well. From an early age, we learnt to navigate internet and use MS Office. We learnt a lot from the movies shown in the school. We learnt from books like Sapiens. We learnt to concisely write while using Twitter. Every activity in the school helped us grow and mature.

However, of late, after reaching class IX, I felt it was not the same as before. We had to study ‘subjects’ which are not immediately relevant. Even history, one of my most loved subjects, became one of the hated due to the invasion of textbooks. In our school, economics was about explaining real-life issues, but in the board exam we are asked to define ‘unemployment’ or ‘GDP’.

Please do not misunderstand — even those boring, irrelevant stuff was taught very well by Sir. He made those as interesting as possible. He even tried to give inventive reasons why we must learn those: ‘Real life is boring, so these textbooks are a preparation for that’, or ‘Learning this obscure math will sharpen your mind and improve your focus, which is useful for other activities.’

But as much as he tried, I knew I liked the relevant learning far more than the textbook learning. Prodded relentlessly by Sir, we all did well in the board exams, but I wanted to get back to our old life where learning was connected to real-life. I did not want many more years of textbook driven learning, which would be exactly what’s on offer if I had chosen Path 2.

I wanted to get back to organizing events, designing apps, learning to speak in front of an audience, reading great books. I wanted to get started on real life sooner. I did not want to waste time reading stuff you have no use for.

In case you are thinking that in Path 2, in the Western universities, learning will be totally relevant, you are probably wrong. Even the Cambridge board, which has a more modern syllabus than the Indian boards, is still focused on subjects most people will not use. There are no courses in most boards or universities on the skills that’s most needed in life: speaking, writing, coding, working with people.

So I will get started on working early, doing a degree from University of London after my 12th, sitting right here, working part-time for the school. I regret the fact that I still have to do this degree, which I know will add nothing to me in terms of learning (neither will any other degree that most of you will be doing).

But our society has not yet advanced enough to accept something as radical as not doing graduation! So useless as it is, I will go forward with it. At least it gives me a chance to devote most of my time to the school, learning real stuff by working.

The only thing I may still be interested in studying for is programming. Our school automates a lot of stuff through technology, and I have been part of that initiative in the past. In future too, I would like to be part of that effort. However, making software will be far easier if we ourselves can code. So that’s one skill I want to study for.

Sir tells me that there are 12-week long coding boot camps in California where we might go after we finish A level board exams. That will be an exciting thing to learn, and I am sure it will be quite useful for the school too.

Overall, I am quite happy that I have chosen this path where my work will be relevant and useful, where I will not waste many years of my life pursuing a useless degree, but where I would still continue to learn at a fast pace.

Why I joined Path 1


In the recent essay writing contest organized by the school, the students were supposed to write about their ‘purpose’ in life; how they are going to help make the world a better place.

Path 1s were not asked to write the essay, presumably because they are supposed to have already found their purpose. But Goody Goody thought of writing an essay anyway, explaining why she has chosen path 1.

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I’m not going to spend a long time discussing how great our school experience has been — this is one topic all of us students agree. We learnt real skills, had a lot of fun, grew up faster yet remained children. We learnt from movies, literature and puzzles. Our classroom discussions were free-flowing. Teachers (I had only one teacher though, throughout my school life) were more like friends. There were so many great things about the school that I can fill a whole book writing about those. But this essay is not about that. Here I want to talk about my chosen path, and why I have made such a choice.

To tell you the truth, I began writing about it some time back as Sir told me a newsmagazine is interested in publishing such an unusual story. But in the midst of all the classes that I take as a teacher, and all the classes that I study in as a student, and balancing all the preparatory workload of being a teacher and student at the same time, I could never progress much in this writing.

However, yesterday I had the chance of reading through some of the essays written by my classmates and my juniors — and that made me feel that I must share my experience. Most of those essays were well-written (as expected from the students of this school), but most of you did not think deeply about what you are going to do in the future.

When it came to making my choice on the 4th of June this year, after the ‘path’ breaking meeting which Sir had with the parents, I was absolutely clear about what I wanted to do. I am lucky to get a great education in this school and I was sure I wanted to help spread this education so that many more students can benefit from it.

In our school we have always discussed that being an insignificant ‘cog’ in a meaningless corporate wheel is not a great idea. In many cases, you may end up adding to the excess of the world, and at the same time yourself leading an unsatisfied life. Running a business, rather a ‘social’ business is a better idea — but I knew it was a tremendously difficult task. From many of Sir’s articles and class discussions, I was acutely aware of the challenges he faced, and what a herculean effort it took to overcome those. I did not want to go through that, and I’m not arrogant enough to claim that I would make it through the process. But what was the need to redo the same thing anyway? Sir has already made it happen for us. If I want to lead a life of significance, and if I want to contribute to the society, what is better than working in the very school which I believe is the best school in the world?

I would have been very happy to join the school as a mere teacher. Our classes are great fun and I would have liked nothing better than teaching kids Animal Farm, or Mughal Series, or showing them movies like ‘The Lives of Others’. I joined Levelfield from a Bengali medium school in class V, and initially I struggled a bit with English. It would have given me great pleasure to help students learn to speak, read and write better English.

However, the Path 1 offer was much more than being a teacher. We are to work closely with Sir to help him run the school. We know that our school responds to change fast, and every year we do something new. For example, last year we had the Twitter initiative, and this year we had the internship program. It would be great to be part of a place which is always thinking and changing. It would be great to design and implement new ideas in response to changing situations.

In all of these new initiatives, we students played a part. When our school was launching the Delta software, we were the first students to test it thoroughly. One day, right in the class, in front of us, Sir designed the magic square algorithm. He started by saying it is something which is quite difficult to do — he started explaining to us why it is difficult, and very soon he was onto the full logic of it. I remember being quite excited when that algorithm translated into a full-fledged app.

So I hope when I would work in the school, in addition to being a teacher, I would be part of something new every year. I hear most corporate jobs are reasonably routine. In contrast, I hope to be part of something new, exciting, and challenging every year.

I would also be leading a ‘campus life’ throughout my life. Instead of an anonymous and lonely life in a city, I would be part of a community — a community of like-minded people who all have joined (and will join) path 1, like me. I know I spent some of my best times with my friends in the school, and in path 1 I can continue to have their company.

I would also be living in the school with this community. I imagine playing badminton or TT in the evening after a hectic day at school. I imagine sitting down in the library with a hardcover book. I imagine having dinner with my friends in the newly constructed large dining area, bursting out in laughter just as we do during our lunch now. I imagine taking a walk on the tennis-court road, discussing Harari’s new book, or some new plan that we are going to launch.

I know I am not going to miss the commute in the suburban trains. I will live in a place with absolutely modern infrastructure, but from my room I will be able to see green fields. I will not worry about polluted air. I will not worry about money either, as we will probably make more than IIM-grads.

I will have to work hard, as I already do, but I hope it will make some real difference. More importantly, I know, directed by Sir, the work here will always be world class. I hope to continue learning, continue playing and continue having fun. I hope to be happy, as everyone does.

I hope all of you also choose your path prioritizing happiness, of yourself and others, over everything else.

The schools of life


Here’s another short story written by Koka of Class XI (2018) about how animals would view our world, if they could express themselves.

(First part of this story called ‘A Strange New Society’ is also available in the blog) 

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Humans had always been a distant mysterious creature to me. Living in the forest, I had come across many stories about them, mostly about their cruelty. In the past few months, the cases of animal deaths had suddenly skyrocketed, all of which were being linked to the increasing number of human visits to the forest.

Scary though they sounded, I had never had the opportunity to see a human for myself. It made me wonder; what exactly was it that had made them such threatening creatures.

This was the case until yesterday….

As I was making my way through the forest, I felt a tall, colourful creature cross the path ahead and disappear behind a tree. I had never encountered such a creature before and it piqued my curiosity, as I approached it and asked, “What animal are you?”

“I am a human. Please don’t kill me!” It said rather fearfully.

A human? What is so sinister about this creature? It doesn’t look as big and powerful and an elephant. Neither does it look as fierce as a lion. On the contrary, it seemed more frightened of me!

“Don’t worry! I am not going to eat you. But you’ll also have to return my favour.”

“Anything…. I’ll do anything for you!”

But what could I ask for from a human?

Then an idea struck….

“I am really intrigued by the thought of humans and would like to know more about them. Could you take me to your society?”

 

***

Early morning today the human and I got out of my cave to head towards the city.

My guide led the way and I followed him. Upon entering the city I immediately understood that today was a special occasion. A large crowd of humans were gathered around a single man covered in garlands who was speaking and making exaggerated gestures at the same time.

I asked my guide who he was. My guide replied that he was the leader of the people.

“So, how is this person chosen?” I asked, “Do you organise fights within your community and then declare the winner as the leader?” In the forest the leader of a pack was chosen by a fight among the competing wolves. Due to this very efficient way of choosing leaders, naturally the best wolf in the pack became leader.

“No!”, my guide replied, “Every few years the people competing to become the leader hold rallies like this and try to convince others that they are the best. Then the people choose who they would like as their leader.”

So just by speaking, people can become leaders. It’s strange that the humans don’t check whether he is actually good at what he’s claiming.

Of the torrent of words escaping his mouth, the two most frequently occurring ones were ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’. It seemed that he was arguing vehemently against the Muslims.

I asked my guide who were these ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’. Are they like tiger and deer, one predator one prey?

“No.” My guide replied, “They are both humans.”

“So,” I wondered aloud, “they must be like two packs who are having a territorial dispute.”

“No,” the human said, “both Hindus and Muslims live in this city.”

So Hindus and Muslims were of the same species and they were not different packs fighting over territory. I couldn’t understand what exactly their fight was about.

Suddenly the leader’s arguments became even more vehement.“We will bury them!” He screamed. “If Pakistan throws one bomb at India, we will bombard them with ten. We will prove ourselves to be a stronger nation.”

I asked my guide what a ‘nation’ was.

“A nation is the piece of land that we live on.” He replied.

“So, how can you make a piece of land stronger?” I fired back.

My question was met with a look of bewilderment on my guide’s face.

“And what are ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’?”

“The nation that we live in is India, Pakistan is our neighbouring nation.”

“So what are the differences between different nations? Are they different habitats like forests and deserts? Or are they places with totally different climates from one another?”

My guide seemed very puzzled at these questions; perhaps he had always accepted these things as the truth and never found them to be unnatural.

Now he replied, “I have never been to Pakistan but I have heard that it is pretty much the same as India.”

So why was the leader differentiating between Pakistan and India? Why was he inciting people against a very similar place where similar people lived? Not wishing to confuse my guide any further, I kept these questions to myself.

Not being able to bear the rally anymore, I asked my guide to take me to some other place. In the process of asking my guide, I saw several identical human beings crossing the road. Instantly my curiosity was piqued.

“Who are these?” I asked.

“These are students. They all study in a school.”

“But why do they all look the same?”

“All students have to wear the same clothes so that they can be identified with their school.”

“What’s the point of that?”

But my guide seemed to be in no better position to answer my question.

I demanded to be taken to a school to see the what happened inside. So my guide led me to the nearest school.

Inside I saw a woman showing the children pictures of various kinds of soil and speaking. I asked my guide what she was doing.

“She is teaching geography. In this particular class she is teaching them where all in India minerals are found under the ground.”

“Oh” I said, “so these children are all going to dig the ground for these minerals when they grow up.”

“No, most of them won’t.”

“So why are they filling their heads up with things that they are never going to see outside this class room?”

My guide was completely stumped by this question. Probably he had also learnt about minerals under the ground.

Remembering the true purpose of the visit I asked my guide to take me to some place more entertaining.

He replied, “I have been planning to take you to a movie since the beginning, if you want we can go there.”

Intrigued by this thing called the movie I agreed. My guide then led the way to the theatre, the place where the movie was supposed to be screened.

On the way to the theatre I saw a large poster in which there was a picture of a car and a woman beside it. Since the woman did not seem to have anything to do with the car, I asked my guide what this poster was.

“It is the advertisement of a car,” he replied, “Using this the makers of the car try to sell the car to people like me.”

“What about the woman? Do you get the woman as well when you buy that car?”

“No obviously not!” The human exclaimed.

“So why is the woman there beside the car?”

“I don’t know why, but the woman makes me feel like buying the car even more.”

Not fully satisfied but seeing that my guide was unable to provide a better explanation, I moved on.

The movie theatre was a large building with a long queue of humans in front of it. My guide stood in the queue and bought tickets for both of us. Before the movie started there was a deluge of advertisements similar to the one that I saw in the poster outside. After almost half an hour the movie started. After watching for a while, the only thing that I was able to understand was that a fair person seemed to be outwitting a dark skinned person at every step and beating him up during any confrontation.

In the forest the skin colour of the animals did not matter at all. In fact, I was dark skinned myself, and I seemed to be doing fine! No white wolf was coming and beating me up every once in a while.

I looked at my guide with questions in my eyes, but he was too enthralled with the movie to look at me.

I slipped outside silently. The city terrified me. However, the artificial laws which suffocated me seemed to sustain these humans. They found differences when there were none, discriminated arbitrarily, and filled the heads of their children with information they were never going to use.

I thanked my fortune that I had the option of living in a place far more simple and authentic. I ran towards it.

Dr. Strangelove: A Movie That’s Still As Relevant As Ever


This is a review of the movie ‘Dr. Strangelove’ by Nonny of Class XI (2018).

In today’s world, humankind has power like never before. Technological and scientific advancements have elevated human beings to the position of gods, providing them with the ability to destroy the entire planet by simply pushing a button. But what happens when these deadly weapons are placed in the hands of petty, vengeful fanatics who are no better than children?

That is the central theme of the movie ‘Dr Strangelove’. A parody of the Cold War, ‘Dr Strangelove’ portrays the famous rivalry between America and the Soviet Union as something utterly pointless, and at times even comical.

The movie starts off by introducing Jack Ripper, a general in the U.S. airforce who feels strong hatred and suspicion towards the Communists. Feeling that the U.S. government wasn’t taking a tough enough stance towards the Russians, he decides to take matters in his own hands. Things spiral out of control after he orders the bombers under his command to attack Russia.

The events that follow show how a small incident such as what Jack Ripper did can have immense, unintended consequences. As news of this incident reaches the ‘War Room’, the President of the United States panics since he is unable to figure out a way to recall the airplanes that are now heading towards Russia. Further alarm is caused by the news that any attack on Russia will automatically trigger the ‘doomsday machine’, a machine that would destroy all life on earth.

By demonstrating the huge consequences of such a trivial event, the movie implies that there was actually no substantial reason behind all the animosity between the two superpowers. ‘Dr Strangelove’ makes fun of the Cold War by depicting it as an event that wreaked a lot of unnecessary damage, while being completely absurd and meaningless. This applies not only to the Cold War, but also to the all the other battles waged between nations in the last century. In the end, they were all really just petty squabbles that, masked and glorified by values such as patriotism, were taken much more seriously than they should have been.

In more modern times, giving these squabbles more importance than they deserve could have dangerous consequences. Empowered by scientific advances, leaders of nations could now annihilate entire civilizations at will, and ‘Dr Strangelove’ shows that the leaders of the past were indeed at the brink of doing so for all sorts of trifling reasons.

We may think that our current leaders are more responsible than the ones of the past, but that’s not really so. The kind of god-like power that humankind now has should not exist with anyone, because the risk of it falling into the wrong hands is too great. If Kim Jong Unlost his temper on one fine day and decided to push that button, we are all as good as dead.

Likewise, the movie ‘Dr Strangelove’ ends with a scene that shows mushroom clouds erupting everywhere, portending the end of the world. The chain of events that followed Jack Ripper’s actions demonstrate the extent of the damage that can be wreaked by one deranged zealot wielding toys too powerful for him to handle. And when we really think about it, aren’t some of our current world leaders very much the same?

SAT or IIT? A student’s viewpoint


An article written by Koka (Aranya Pal of Class XI, 2018) about how it would be better if India had only one exam after 12th, instead of a multitude of exams that stress out the students.

I have just finished my 10th standard board exams, and have just started my classes for 11th standard. In addition to my A-levels which is due in two years, I will also sit for SAT for an admission into a US university. It’s some work, but it’s nothing compared to what I see around me.

I stay in a thermal power township – it’s a closely-knit community of around five-hundred families. Even though many of us study in different schools, given the intimate nature of the community, I know most of the students who are of similar age as mine. And I am not envious at all of their situation.

Many of my acquaintances from the Township have been attending private tuitions and have been going to well-known IIT-JEE and medical coaching centres right from class VI! After the 10th standard, the pressure multiplied. A friend of mine, who sat for board exam this year, was never seen in the Township after the exams – I hear he has taken a permanent residence in Durgapur, a nearby town, a hub for such coaching centres.

Some are preparing for IIT-JEE, some for NEET, some for WBJEE – but some – and this is the most important part – are preparing for all of them. This intense preparation for a multitude of exams, in addition to their 12th standard boards, takes a toll. I do not see them any more in the Township park, playing badminton, as they used to before. Neither are they available for a friendly chat or a leisurely walk in the evening.

Some, in addition to these exams, sit for the gruelling entrance examination for Indian Statistical Institute, focusing on pure mathematics. Some study for CLAT (a common law entrance), yet some others prepare for the aptitude tests needed for IPM-AT (for IIM-Indore), and some of the general college entry tests.

This plethora of entrance exams is not only meaningless, but also harmful. Because it is difficult for children to study for so many different examinations, they have to make a career choice early in their life, knowing nothing about the relative merits of the medical, legal or engineering professions. This leads to many years of dissatisfaction later on. In addition to that, their childhood is sacrificed at the altar of constant pressure of coaching and tuitions – often on areas which will bear no relevance in real life in the future.

I am lucky; I will be taking SAT after 12th. This is an exam that does not require me to take special coaching and prepare for it. The preparation is more long-term; as a result, the exam cannot be gamed easily through coaching centres and exams. Since my childhood, I have been interested in reading, and that is one skill that is tested in SAT. In addition, SAT tests reasoning and problem-solving skills (based on the foundations of basic math) – that too requires no coaching and last-minute preparation.

These skills come in use not only during the exam, but also during the rest of the life. Reading comes in handy every day not only for students like us but also the adults that I see around. Ability to reason is also a useful life-skill. So none of this preparation is actually ‘wasted’, in a way most of the rote-learning driven exam preparations are.

Moreover, having one uniform entrance examination means students can get into any college and make their career choices at a later stage of their life, when they are more informed.

Looking at the state of my friends, I wish India also had just one entrance examination for all the colleges, which would both reduce the pressure on the students and allow them to make more satisfactory career choices. An exam like SAT will be the way to go.

Our economics textbooks are mostly flawed – here’s why!


Vulture (Debarghya Deb of Class XI, 2018) talks about how our economics theories are little too perfect for it to perfectly work in the real world. 

Let me make one thing clear at the outset – I am a mere student, studying in class XI, and I am not here to talk about the flaws in the economic theories propounded by the great economists of the past era.

The theories are all perfect — a little too perfect — and that is precisely why some of them do not work well in a nation like ours.

Most economics books talk about economics from the point of view of developed countries. In the developed countries the law and order works; the countries are normally stable and peaceful, and there is very little corruption in the government. This makes the environment quite conducive for the economic theories to work perfectly.

But most countries don’t have the necessary environment for such perfect economic theories to work. The laws of supply and demand are not allowed to work without government intervention, property rights are not respected and there is corruption in every step.

Now let’s take some theories and see how they work differently in underdeveloped countries.

The first thing taught in economics is that prices of goods are determined by the forces of supply and demand. But things are very different in underdeveloped countries.

Instead of the invisible hand, is often the guiding (or misguiding?) hand of the government that sets the prices. For example, a few years back in Kolkata, a limit was put on the price of bus tickets. Bus owners started making lesser profits, many buses went out of the market creating a huge shortage. The remaining buses were not maintained well (because it was unprofitable to maintain them), so public transport became much worse.

As a result, many people had to pay a lot more money to travel in a cab or autorickshaw. The policy which was supposed to ‘benefit’ the common people left them worse off.

Mind you, I am not talking about public transport here – these are privately operated buses that the government sought to regulate. Similarly, the government often seeks to regulate fees in private schools and hospitals – as a result, the benefit of the invisible hand of the market does not reach the people.

As a second example, let’s consider how government contracts are won in underdeveloped countries. According to economic theory, the suppliers who provide a service at the lowest price are able to sell the service.

In underdeveloped countries, however, contracts are often won by a different process; there is often underhand dealing between policymakers and suppliers.

The politician is happy to earn money for a future election campaign, the contractor recoups his bribe by cutting corners in materials and quality, and in the end, it is the people who suffer.

They get pothole-filled roads, collapsing bridges and other poor quality infrastructure.

Textbook economics also claims governments can improve market conditions by stopping a company from becoming a monopoly and increasing competition.

But most governments in underdeveloped countries do the exact opposite. Most of the monopolies are created and supported by the governments. The governments make sure that no other companies join the field and increase competition.

But what do the governments get in return? Simple: election campaigns cost a lot of money and these election campaigns are funded by these monopolies which help the government to remain in power.

You might argue that at least the chapters that do not deal with policy but deal with measurement are correct. For example, we had several chapters on measuring key economic variables like GDP, inflation and unemployment. Alas, there too, our textbooks fall short.

Data does not lie but it can be made to lie. Most of the data that comes out of underdeveloped countries are not trustworthy.

Half the economic activities happen in the underground economy and as a result are not recorded. Some governments use accounting tricks to improve their numbers.

Often governments manipulate data is by changing the way something is calculated. Such differences are too subtle for common people to notice – who celebrate a year of great GDP growth, or record low inflation.

Another big problem with our economics textbooks is they focus too much on finer debates.

For example: ‘Does minimum wage laws end up hurting the people it is supposed to serve?’ or ‘How much government intervention should be there in an economy?’ The books forget that in most countries the condition is so sub-normal that these debates don’t make any difference – they are mere academic debates.

Minimum wage laws might be put but in most countries but they are not enforced. We might endlessly debate whether an import quota or import tariff is better – but then we have a president who wants to put up a wall between two countries!

The list does not end here. For every economic theory that’s out there, you can find examples of real-life situations where it’s subverted by governments. I hope that someday, somebody will write an economics textbook which will reflect our reality more accurately.