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Beyond symbolism December 5, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, economics, india.

Atanu Dey has a very interesting observation whose significance we tend to overlook. He writes here about how darkness ( lack of progress ) and light ( prosperity enlightenment etc. ) are not mere symbols. Infact you can actually put a number to them. He refers to the picture of the Earth at night.

Europe is probably the most uniformly luminous; but not as bright as the eastern part of the US and its western coastline. Africa is almost completely in the dark. Latin America is lit, but mostly along the coasts. One can also see Asia’s economic story in the picture: vast swaths, including most of Russia, Tibet, and the Middle East are unlit. Japan looks like a shining moon in the middle of the pacific. The southern part of the Korean peninsula is bright, the north completely dark. China’s lights shine on the coast and slowly fade inland. India is full of a million dull lights, with a few bright spots.

Growing up I remember reading that the United States was the high school bully – that consumes 20% of “world’s precious energy resources” inspite of accounting for a mere 5% of world population. The marxist historians/economists/textbook writers of India revealed their bias in failing to state that it also accounts for 20% of the World GDP.

Yes, I know this is not it – there are other factors as well – pollutor, military spender etc. So this is not the complete picture. But then what my textbooks said wasnt either. We give our precious 12 years to school learning some of which will ( have to ) be unlearnt slowly like a water dripping from a leaky bucket.



1. Anonymous - December 6, 2006

Doesnt it depend on the time of day this picture was taken?

2. Sharath Rao - December 6, 2006

Yeah, you are rite.

I guess that has been accounted for. Two things infact-

– there is time difference – so the pic must be taken at the same local time.

– one must also perhaps average over a period of time …say 7 pm – 9 pm or some such thing.

These details ( esp. the 2nd one ) ofcourse are mostly academic, the larger point holds I guess.

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