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Michael Higgins, the economist (and blogger) is no stranger to this blog. As a blogger, the simple and still highly effective way he has explained fundae of economics and suggested solutions to many seemingly intractable problems is something that I have admired for long.

In his latest post, he tackles the servant - owner culture, as seen in countries like India, and puts across quite a few valid points.

The peon and pooh-bah culture is not unique to India. Europe in the seventeenth century was in many ways the zenith of the peon and pooh-bah culture. Consider Louis XIV of France. He spent everyday the entire day thinking of new ways for people to make him feel more important. This was his life’s work: being the great pooh-bah of France. His greatest accomplishment was inventing new positions to assist him in the lavatory. After using the facilities, one really wouldn’t expect a royal to sully his hands with “paperwork.” No, Louis XIV merely said, “Let the royal bum be wiped,” and it was – with a smile.

You tell this story to a classroom of American kids and you will get a very predictable response, “Ewww Yuck!!” The idea of strange hand touching this area does not appeal (well, not to most people). But they fail to understand the real value of having such a servant. The real value comes in the art of conversation or more precisely the art of belittling others in conversation. A monarch from a lesser nation comes visiting. Louis XIV deftly steers the conversation towards lavatory servants (great skill is needed to steer polite conversation in this direction). The other royal politely and innocently inquires, “What is a bum-wiper?

And at this point, Louis XIV exclaims, “You mean, you wipe your own?? Mon Dieu!

While the post is insightful and readworthy in its own right, what made me feel compelled to link to it is the snide yet highly enjoyable dig at the most farcical situation in Indian Cricket, Dravid and Ganguly.

Read it all here.

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