#TMOS (The Morals Of State, November 08, 2014):

SynTalk thinks about the characteristics of the State, and explores its ontological claims, contradictions, & morals both normatively and positively? The link between bandit kings, violence, sovereign, private property, law, justice, hot water bath, modern production methods, corporations, religion, Darwinian evolution, and the general will. The concepts are derived off / from Kant, Locke, Hume, J.S. Mill, Hobbes, Burke, Wendell Holmes, Hannah Arendt, Nozick, Fukuyama, Chomsky, James C. Scott, Douglass North, & Snowden, among others. How have we reached a state where (for most parts) the citizen is the principal and the State is the agent? What is the rule of law, & does the State have an absolute or comparative advantage over violence? How does (sacred) constitutionalism emerge out of nowhere? What is the ideal tax/GDP ratio, and do different models of statehood just compete for greater populations and GDP? Have States formed more easily in fertile plains with surplus? Does a State have a need for legitimacy, and where does it derive its morality from? How the consciousness about the concept of a nation inform the development of the Modern State. How authoritarian States run out of people, and why civilizations can’t climb hills. What is the difference between ‘doing justice’ and ‘applying the law’. What is minority, and how minority is not a person but a position? How did UK rule the world, and is modern terrorism a counter to the violence of the State? What happens when a perfectly legitimate State commits immoral acts? Are all at war with all (a la Leviathan)? Is statelessness or a Minimal State possible or desirable? Who wins a democratic contest? Should / does a State create feedback loops and structures of accountability? Does an individual really think for the others, and what is general will and public good? Will the construct of the State change in the long term to have other agglomerations come between the State and its citizens? Does the State withdraw only to (often) reappear? What is the likely impact of globalization and technology. Is the future DIY? The SynTalkrs are: Dr. Saroj Giri (political science, Delhi University, Delhi), Prof. Ajay Shah (economics, National Institute of Public Finance And Policy, Delhi), & Dr. Harsh Vardhan (strategy consulting, Bain & Company, Mumbai).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TMOS show.

Dr. Saroj Giri (political science, philosophy) is a thinker of the possible and an analyst of the actual. The possible for him is a hole in the actual, in the manner of truth being ‘a hole in reality’. He refuses to accept that the only choice against feudal fixity and conservativeness is the world of proliferating identities and multiple subject-positions. The latter are merely the symptom of fundamental contradictions getting displaced into the bad infinity of micropolitics. He has written on the Occupy Movement,   WikiLeaks, ecological thought, social movements, ‘anti-corruption’, ‘Chavismo’ and incisively critiqued the secularism / communalism binary in India. He has written commentaries on current politics and culture. He calls himself a partisan not really of ‘the Left’ but of communism, contained in the ‘rupture’ which is the Naxal / Maoist movement in India. He has contributed to the ‘Idea of communism’ initiated by philosophers Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. He holds a Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. For a living, he teaches politics in the University of Delhi and has lectured in Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, Kyunghee and other universities.

Prof. Ajay Shah (economics, public policy, finance) is currently a Senior Fellow at National Institute for Public Finance and Policy,  Delhi. He has held positions at the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (Bombay), Indira   Gandhi Institute for Development Research (Bombay) and the Ministry of Finance. His research interests include policy issues on Indian economic growth, open economy macroeconomics, public finance, financial economics and pensions. In the past decade, he was extensively involved in the policy process in the reforms of the equity market and the New Pension System. Prof. Shah is an aeronautical engineer from IIT Bombay, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He began his career as a consultant with Rand Corporation, Santa Monica and then returned to Mumbai as an Associate Professor at IGIDR. He has published several research papers, articles and books, as well as a widely read and highly appreciated blog and has been listed amongst top ten economists in the Indian Express (January 2010) and was also listed in Business Standard’s Experts who wield enormous influence in their fields in January 2009.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan (strategy, finance, interdisciplinary) has been a Partner at leading consulting firms such as Bain and Company and the Boston Consulting Group with whom he has spent over 18 years. He has also worked in the banking industry for about 3 years as a credit analyst and a fixed income and currency trader. He works primarily in the financial services and energy industry where he has advised top management of companies in North America, Europe, South East Asia, Greater China, and India on issues such as strategy, operations, organisation, and risk management. He was a member of the Banking Working group of the Financial Services Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC). He was also member of the PJ Nayak Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to review governance of bank boards. Dr. Vardhan has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from VNIT Nagpur followed by an MBA from IIM Kolkata, and an MS in Quantitative Finance and Ph.D. in Strategy & Economics from the Smith School of Business of the University of Maryland, USA.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

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