Stopping the Flailing State

‘India Today’ had carried an article recently on how the present government in India had improved the culture of selecting bureaucrats and how it had been careful to go for meritocratic appointments, even appointing non-IAS officers, etc. All heartwarming stuff. The same tale with a slightly more personal angle is here.

A thought arose as I decided to provide a link to this piece in my blog post, ‘Weekend links – 28.11.2015’. Are we cherrypicking on the positive pieces that the English-language media in India writes, while calling it biased? So, is the English-language media in India biased when they criticise the government and that they speak the truth, when they write the occasional positive story on it? If they are untrustworthy and unreliable, they must be uniformly so. So, is this biased selection on my part?

I found the answer. No, it is not that this reflects a bias on my part. This reflects the higher information content or information value of a piece that is not routinely done. Hence, its enhanced significance and importance. If a teacher routinely criticises a student often and then rarely praises him one day, that praise is and will be taken seriously and a higher credibility and sincerity is attached to that praise, simply because it is out of the ordinary and not ‘normal’.

Karthik Shashidhar had brought out this point well in his piece in MINT on the information content of the bombings in Paris versus in other places in the Arab world.

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