on the pragati piece

Just thought I should let you people know regarding the background of my IPL? pragati piece. It all started with this blogpost. I initially wrote it for this blog, following a comment by

on an earlier post. Then, towards the end of that post, the words “policy implications” flowed. And a few more paragraphs followed. Now, I decided it was worth publishing in the Indian Economy Blog. Without even editing it, I published there.

Then, the policy implications seemed to be significant enough to merit a post by themselves. This, I thought, might be superior to what I put on the IEB. I quickly mailed Nitin with the idea, and he replied in the positive, and I got about a week to write it.

If any of you thought that piece was good enough to be the equivalent of 241 runs in a test match against australia, then I must say it was like Sachin’s innings in Sydney in 2004. Words just refused to flow. I’d construct sentences in my head, but by the time I typed half of it, I’d forget the rest. It took me some two days to figure out how to start writing it. Even after I started, it would get hard to find words. I remembered what Kodhi told me about what Paul Theroux told him. Write using pen and paper – was the advise. I must admit it did help.

There were several points when I considered giving up. Most of the times, a few minutes’ of break would do some good. One occasion, after I’d written about half the article, proved especially painful. I just wanted to abandon it. I knew I had spent enough time on it. But then, I remembered

and his sunk cost fallacy.

There is the other side of the sunk cost fallacy (or i haven’t understood it well). On one hand, the time you’ve spent is already spent. Adn gone. And you shouldn’t worry about it. However, looking at it another way, things are ‘cheaper’ now. Because of what you’ve already done, you need to spend that much less time in order to get what you want. You’ve already done so much research. So, now, you’re significantly better off than you were when you started. You are suddenly prepared to put more effort on it.

I was over the top when the thing got published. I was so thrilled I could’ve screamed, however I took pity on the neighbours. I “screamed” in a different way. I decided to give massive publicity for myself. I was so thrilled i decided I deserved this. And I mailed anyone and everyone who I thought might be interested. It was quite a motley list. And a long one. And I just kept adding to it, unmindful of whether the recipients had the least interest in agricultural futures.

Now, there were a few things I had to learn to accept. There would be scores of “congratulations; really nice article” messages. Many from people who didn’t really understand the thing. I would have to accept the wishes gracefully, without displaying any arrogance. There would be scores of questions raised, both from people who understood the thing and those who didn’t. I’d have to patiently sit and explain the stuff to each of them. It was my responsibility, having asked them to read this piece.

A number of people in my “list” are grad students in the US. People who live and breathe journal papers. I don’t know what they’d’ve thought of me publishing something in a non-academic journal and going to town over that. There would have been a few others also who would’ve assumed I was way too arrogant for blowing my own trumpet like this. Anyways I decided not to bother with this, and just go ahead.

Regarding this particular post, I thought about it some ten times before I finally decided to go ahead and write it. Seven times I decided it’s not a Lagaan that i’ve made to release a “the making of Lagaan” DVD. thrice I started writing, only to face the writer’s block. Anyways, you just read it.

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