Friday, December 7, 2007

Policy Brief 2: Why is Tanzania Poor?

(Policy Brief # 2 Submitted December 6th 2007, for Econ 346 - Economic Development, Lafayette College)

Over the course of the 20th century, Tanzania experienced a multitude of social, political and economic changes. It still remains poor today. The WorldBank classifies a ‘low income country’ – such as Tanzania – as one with a Gross National Income per capita of $905 or less (WorldBank Data 2006). As of 1992, Tanzania’s per capita income was recorded at $110, and average per capita consumption was $0.5 per day (OECD 2000).

Several possible factors have been blamed for contributing to current hardships, such as Julius Nyerere’s failed attempts to collectivize agriculture between 1961 and 1975 through his socialist Ujamaa policies as the first president of Tanzania (Pratt 1980). While pre-independence plans “focused on the commercialization of agriculture and the creation of industries that could reduce the need for a variety of imports”, post-independence interventions by the Government, especially in agriculture, proved damaging: Only 23% of the volume of 1967 sisal exports were being exported in 1980. Exports of cashew nuts were down to 49% in 1980 of their original 1967 volumes. (Sahn and Sarris 1994).

Another factor contributing to current hardships in Tanzania is its involvement in and use of resources for expelling Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the late 1970s. Furthermore, in 1997 The Vice President of Tanzania blamed the loss of economies of scale due to the breakdown of the East African Community (NPES 1997[1]).

In truth, however, history should not be blamed as the only reason for the current situation, nor can it be changed. Instead, identifying and improving current causal factors should be focused on more. There is strong evidence suggesting that Tanzania is poor because first, it lacks a solid system of government regulation; second, the country experiences severe credit market failures; and thirdly, the development of human capital is alarmingly weak.

The first major reason for Tanzania being poor is the lack of efficient government regulation (NPES 1997). Without a solid framework for legal and social infrastructures, it is not realistic for the government to be able to execute its policies effectively. Moreover, systems of accountability are relatively weak in Tanzania. This is partly due to the lack of records and infrastructures for permanent residential addresses, which is highlighted in the next section of this paper. Accountability contributes to the motivation of the government to perform well and lack of such can undermine their efforts to create conditions suitable for poverty eradication and sustainable development. The government is not able to allocate resources efficiently, since it does not act on the immediate needs that are apparent from the private sector, and on the provision of public goods such as healthcare and transport (Gumbo 2007).

A major strand in the poor regulation by the Tanzanian government is corruption. The current President Jakaya Kikwete and Former President Benjamin Mkapa made distinct efforts to investigate and alleviate corruption within the government. The National Framework on Good Governance, written in the late 1990s by Tanzanian authorities aimed at a “transparent, responsive and accountable” governance system (REPOA 2006[2]). While these movements towards cleansing the government of corruption are important, the incentive to see through the successful execution of policies is just as significant. Cutting down widespread corruption ensures that the government is able to better allocate resources to accumulate labor and tangible capital. In addition, such a focus encourages a solid system of hierarchy and trust, which in turn builds intangible capital.

The existence of credit market failures is the second major reason for Tanzania being poor. This is closely related to the absence of a strong legal structure, as emphasized in the previous section. While loans are given from banks and other financial institutions, citizens often lack the collateral to back their loans up (Stifel - lecture 2007). In addition, residential infrastructures have been designed on an ‘ad-hoc’ basis, which means that addresses registered with the city counsel are almost always outdated or simply false (Lugalla 1997). Furthermore, because of the lack of an efficient legal system, there is often little incentive to repay loans (Ray 1998). A credit market cannot exist in a society where an individual cannot be tracked down to compensate their credit allowances. Finally, high transaction costs due to lacking infrastructures make it increasingly difficult and in many cases not affordable for the rural population to have access to credit, which thus limits their ability to participate in the economy by expanding production beyond subsistence-level (Stifel – lecture 2007). In short, these factors bring about country-wide credit market failures, which stagnate the Tanzanian economy.

Probably the most significant implication of this weak credit market is its effect on Tanzania’s agricultural sector development (Dugger 2007). Specifically, the market for fixed capital, which is vital to processing agricultural goods, is not as easily accessible as it would be if farmers could efficiently use credit (Ray 1998). To make matters worse, investment in the agricultural sector has declined since 1980, after Nyerere’s collectivization policies were seen as failures (Pratt 1980). As a result, foreign aid towards agriculture has dropped because “African governments have too often spent less of that wealth than they might have on rural development” (Dugger 2007). Hence, credit market failures not only affect industries and formal businesses in capitals, but they affect rural areas even more severely. And considering that Tanzania, like many other Sub-Saharan African countries, depends primarily on agricultural goods to feed its people and for exports, this is a serious cause for concern and should be one of the main policy-targets when addressing poverty.

The final reason for poverty in Tanzania is the slow and insufficient development of human capital. There is a great need for high quality expertise from education to provide technical assistance to the projects endorsed by the Tanzanian government or through Structural Adjustment Policies. Increasing the number of teachers in rural schools and qualified professors in higher learning institutions are some examples of this expertise. Furthermore, the need for the development of human capital appears to be a great opportunity for social entrepreneurs who focus on creative and sustainable solutions to current problems, which would otherwise be slowed by bureaucratic processes of government procedures (Easterly – interview 2007). A famous example of how human capital can be developed through the private sector is the concept of microfinance, which in turn, stimulates further entrepreneurship from the poor. In addition, Tanzania has more labor than capital, so there should be increased focus on developing labor-intensive production, so that more jobs are created and there is greater incentive for people to become economically active such that they are capable of pulling themselves out of poverty. Given these reasons, the need for efficient development of human capital is urgent in Tanzania.

To better understand this idea, one should examine the reasons for poor building of human capital in Tanzania, among which is the unequal access to education. According to a survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1991, the percentage distribution of employment resulting from graduates of higher education was only 1% in urban areas in Tanzania. Secondary school graduates were recorded at 9%, while primary school leavers were at 53.4%. This means that 34.1% of those employed in urban areas had no educational background whatsoever, as of 1991. The connection between the lack of access to education (more so in rural areas) and unemployment is evident from survey data, which shows that formal employment makes up less than 10% of the labor market (OECD 2000). Thus, Tanzania continues to be poor: While government regulation is weak and legal infrastructures are not being improved, the credit market continues to be inaccessible, and human capital remains low due to the low provision of and low access to education.

In conclusion, it is important to note that according to most sources used in this paper, Tanzania stands out as a very motivated African country, dedicated to poverty alleviation. In fact, through the NEPS paper, the government has made it a mandate to completely rid the country of poverty by 2025 (NEPS 1997). However, current data and WorldBank evaluations do not provide optimistic evidence for these expected developments, but this further highlights the importance of identifying the main reasons that hold Tanzania back from reducing poverty: Poor government regulation, the absence or lack of access to formal credit markets, and the poor quality of human capital development collectively pull back the attempts for poverty eradication and achieving higher growth rates. Therefore, future policy efforts should focus on these problems, which – once solved – have the potential to create a better economic outlook for individuals to make healthier rational choices in order to progress.


Endote: A full Works Cited document can be obtained from me via e-mail.


[1] NPES stands for the National Poverty Eradication Strategy, drafted by Tanzanian authorities, in 1997.

[2] REPOA stands for Research on Poverty Alleviation

Friday, October 19, 2007

Policy Brief 1: Is Foreign Aid Effective?

(Policy Brief Submitted October 2007, for Econ 346 - Economic Development, Lafayette College)

Foreign aid has become a topic of concern on the international stage. Development economists are assessing whether foreign aid is actually effective, either through poverty reduction or growth. There is little evidence that households actually lose out when foreign aid is distributed thereby making the aid ineffective, but this is not the focus of this paper. The following brief presents conditions found to be the important prerequisites of growth based on economics literature. Considering (a) the existence of market failures in developing countries (Dercon 2003) and that (b) “raising aid effectiveness is a matter of improving the framework conditions, of setting new priorities and of finding new operational means” (Langhammer 2004), this brief recommends restructuring foreign aid so it is specifically allocated to (1) improving governmental structures and accountability, (2) funding social entrepreneurs, and (3) improving educational systems.

Consequently, I make two assumptions. Firstly, I refer to foreign aid in terms of growth, and not poverty reduction. There is a difference; while growth emphasizes forward-thinking and sustainability, poverty reduction has a more “current” focus of shortening the gap between the poverty line and those living under it. Secondly, I define an “effective” scenario as one in which, households living in the country receiving foreign aid are left less-dependant on further foreign aid, and are moving towards a more equitable society.

Economic growth is generally known as the increase in value of the goods and services produced in a particular country’s or region’s economy. Conventionally, this is measured using the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is adjusted for expected inflation. Whether or not foreign aid is effective in increasing GDP, and thereby supplementing economic growth, is uncertain. This does not indicate that foreign aid is ineffective. What it means is that some policies may be more effective in achieving growth compared to others.

There has been a lot of speculation in the last century about the potential of increased investment leading to growth. The Harrod-Domar model offers some insight into how giving aid leads to an increase in savings (including capital accumulation), which is then technically invested, which then yields a higher GDP, signaling growth. This relates to how economists today use the “financing gap” approach to economic growth. However, there are too many unrealistic assumptions in this model. The economy is assumed to be closed, in absence of a government, and has fixed savings rates. Furthermore, William Easterly conducted a study (2001) that essentially resulted in Tunisia being potentially the country in which there was a possible correlation between aid to investment, and investment to growth. The Solow growth model differs from Harrod-Domar, in that Robert Solow proposed that long-term growth can only be attributed to technological change (1956). Yet, while the Harrod-Domar model is recognized as flawed, it is more accepted than Solow’s model, even though it is extremely difficult to empirically prove both these models. In short, economists and policy-makers do not have a solid model for growth that can be applied universally. Given the economic, social and political (and in some cases, environmental) hardships in developing countries, any model for growth would have to be flexible enough to be interpreted on a country-by-country basis. Without applications being relative, we cannot be sure that every country will respond to foreign aid in the same way.

In addition, several renowned economists, such as William Easterly, have noted that people respond to incentives. This should be the number one consideration when thinking about foreign aid. If there is no incentive for people to whom aid is distributed to create sustainable solutions, aid will not increase growth as has been expected.

Amartya Sen defines “development” as the level of access to freedoms and capabilities to function in an economy (2000). He recommends that households in developing countries need to be provided with the appropriate ‘freedoms’ to be able to make rational choices. The more capabilities the poor have, the more choices they can make, and - assuming all choices made are rational – the more efficiently they can meet their needs.

Thus, combining the ‘people respond to incentives’ motif, and Sen’s definition of economic development, foreign aid has the potential to result in growth only when it is distributed specifically to improve government efficiency through clearly-defined organizational structures and accountability, social entrepreneurs and educational institutions.

Foreign aid should partially be invested in strengthening a government because this creates capital. One Wall Street Journal article brought attention to the world’s ‘intangible wealth’ (2007). According to the article, based on studies conducted by the World Bank, average capital owned per capita in the world does not account for all the capital that exists in the world. There is a huge portion, known as intangible capital, which is attributed to “intangible factors such as the trust among people in a society, an efficient judicial system, clear property rights and effective government”. As the World Bank, the IMF and economists such as Deborah Brautigam and Stephen Knack have suggested, there is a correlation between efficient government and growth (Brautigam, Knack 2004). Also, Craig Burnside and David Dollar are known for advocating that “growth in developing economies depends to a large extent on their own economic policies”. If we relate intangible capital to this, it can be derived that if governments can increase accountability by maintaining a solid framework of organization and hierarchy, this in itself will create a flow of capital through increased circulation of information and the various trust-relations between government officials and the people they work with and serve.

Given a solid framework of law and order, social entrepreneurs are given increased capabilities to function efficiently. In an interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera, William Easterly made clear that social entrepreneurs in poor countries have potentially the best ideas as to where foreign aid should go. Government bureaucrats in developing countries slow down the aid-distribution process, even when in cases where corruption is not considered a major problem (for most African nations, though, it is). Social entrepreneurs, on the other hand can easily distinguish where and how to distribute resources. They are also heavily involved with building human capital and keeping up with advances in technology. Social entrepreneurs have a solid idea of what exactly is needed through supply and demand mechanisms, since they are already involved – both, economically and culturally – in market activities. Due to this, innovation in poor areas can “leapfrog” through technology. This means that while more developed regions in the world experience the development in technology, poorer areas are implemented with technologies of current times.

Distributing aid to social entrepreneurs and for the cause of improving government organization has the potential to see that current problems are being solved. While governments maintain law and order, and see through the efficient execution of policies, social entrepreneurs can determine through their social networks how to service immediate basic needs in sustainable ways (after all, entrepreneurs think profits, too, and would like their initiatives to be self-sustaining). Yet, with increased aid being distributed through social entrepreneurs, there comes the question of sustainability in the longer-run, given innovations in technology.

An investment in efficient educational systems is therefore necessary for preparing for future problems. Aid could be given to subsidize the cost of going to school, or could be used to provide education in rural areas that have traditional community-based schools. Attempting to provide education to as many children and growing youth as possible encourages a different kind of saving: this saving has to do with human intellectual capital (Easterly 2003). Increasing educational capabilities has the potential to provide an increased number of local skilled workers, which in turn, will sustain the current investments in growth by strong, improved government legislature and social entrepreneurship. This is in tune with Sen’s ‘development as freedom’ idea: The government’s focus should be on maintaining current freedoms; the entrepreneurs create new freedoms; and the people recognize and utilize these freedoms to progress.

Easterly summed it up best in his interview with Riz Khan. “Home grown development is what works” as opposed to development ‘brought in’ by outside countries. Essentially, distributing foreign aid specifically to better governments, encourage social entrepreneurship and increase educational capabilities is one step closer to home-grown development. In this way, foreign aid is being used firstly to speed up home-grown ideas to reduce poverty, and secondly to secure the future by preparing younger generations to be more skilled in order to sustain growth.

Central to the foreign aid debate is the question of whether the aid is getting to the people that need it most. But in order for aid to flow efficiently through the various protocols and eventually be received by households in the form of increased freedom and decreased dependency, research shows that there needs to be a strong infrastructure of a driven government, but also a driven market. Therefore, foreign aid seems to only be effective when it is allocated specifically to improving government structures and accountability, to social entrepreneurs with innovative and per-country-customized growth solutions, and to the improvement of education.


Endote: A full Works Cited document can be obtained from me via e-mail.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Learning...

Every once in a while, something happens and makes you stop and think. I don't mean think in the sense that you sit around in the afternoon sun sipping on a drink and musing about what a beautiful life it is. I mean really stopping. And thinking.

It's at these times when you tend to see the bigger picture. You see beyond your next class, or meeting or appointment. You see beyond all the things that annoy you. You see beyond gossip, and malice and discontent. You see beyond your educational and career endeavors.

You see beyond what you normally perceive as every-day life.

It's also at these times when you are met with the ultimate but discouraging reality that you might be doing things wrong. You're hit with the realization that some things just will not work out the way you might have thought they would.

And today I realized that it's at this very time when it is healthy to be able to admit to yourself that you ... for a change ... did not do the right thing. It seems as though these are the only times when you give yourself a chance to understand and question your instincts, and the only times when you can actually change.

All in all, I think I learned one important lesson today: Good leaders are not only honest to those they represent, but they are also honest to themselves.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Frustrated

There are times when my patience can be tried. And then there are times when people have these power trips, and it simply ticks me off. Bureaucracy is bullsh*t.

Enough said. That's what it do.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Transcendology.

Belief is a strong word. Faith is too. It's never been completely convenient to believe or have faith in something, because you often have to attribute some responsibility of a what might seem like a doubtful and intangible possibility to some divine power. That's where belief and faith, less the uncertainties, step in to attempt to solidify you.

That's also a good time to put on a progressive and vocal track.

Most patterns are - and have been - already laid out in electronica. There has always been a finely specific infrastructure that binds most of electronica together. A producer's special touch is involved with how to translate this pattern to you. He blesses his track with tweaks within the infrastructure. Each rhythm is designed with euphoric enthusiasm, and you pour with emotion. At the same time, it surprises you. While what might come after every 8th beat is almost an uncertainty, you learn to trust the infrastructure. You learn that no matter what comes after the next 8th beat, you'll be guided further.

You learn to believe in the music. You learn to have faith.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Busy Times

So what do you get when you mix 2 days into a week, International Student orientation, a computer that needs to be fixed, house chores, crazy numerous other tasks, and constant rain?

A really bad start to the week.

But it's been fun too. Mumo moved in this past weekend, and we've been setting up our studio apartment. So far, it's looking good! We thought we were going to be cramped, but the efficiency with which we are handling our space looks as if we'll be good :)

I really, really, REALLY need to make a mix. We've been sampling some insane tracks that would absolutely turn an average mix into a banger. I also need to get some fries...

Gotta bounce. More soon!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

DJ'ing by code ... LIVE.

Ever since I learned about music production using software on a computer, it almost scared me to think about how hard producers had to work to compose music in front of a computer screen.

But today I found out that DJ's not only produce their own music sometimes, but produce it while playing LIVE in front of a crowd. Check it out here, courtesy of Wired.com.

Now that's pretty insane.

Summer, Almost Done

There's about a week and a half left until August 27th, the first day of classes of my senior year. I have to say, it's been one long, fun but stressful-at-times kinda summer. I still haven't finished everything that I needed to get done, but it should all be settled by this weekend.

I've been dying to make a mix, but have not had the time - or the space, for that matter - to set up my decks and put together a good mix-collection of music. I've been sampling some fresh tracks, but that's about it. Be rest assured that my next mix will be just as fresh :)

Otherwise, most of my life right now is preoccupied with imagining what the next episode in life is going to be for me. I am working on grad school applications (mostly for Europe) and a few grant applications (to be able to start a public service project back in Dar), but you still get the feeling that anything could change, anytime. And it's this realization that constantly creeps up on me. No matter how sure you are, you're never really completely as sure as you think.

Meh... Can't wait for school to start. Need to keep my mind buzzing.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The 411 This Summer

So it's hard not going home this summer. I've been hearing a lot about how Dar is getting heated with people. People are going down for Deedar and for some good old family reunions!

However the regretful feeling, I am still in for a busy summer. Working with network services has thus far been pretty hectic, but things are slowly beginning to ease into the summer vibe. I've started moving on my thesis, FAAP's project - DreamsWork - is already seeing the rise of its first two projects downtown in Easton, and I'm finally starting to make music!

Details will follow. For now, enjoy the warmth. You'll wish it was around in about 7 months from now.

Badaye.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Amsterdam

So here's the deal. Try thinking of a street that has a constant murmur, and an occasional yell here and there. At any point in time, your ears can pick up on one of several conversations taking place around you simultaneously. You are walking in one direction but there are people walking in both. You think you find some faces similar in the crowd, but then you try to remember that you haven't been to Amsterdam much to know anyone. Your mind is buzzing from a good night, your ears can still hear the music from Club 11, where an intensified and bassful house party is still raging into the night. You're a bit hungry, but you're not worried because all the shops along the streets - doner kebabs, pizza, frites, falafel, candy, cake ... the works - are still open, and will be open for a while. What's nice about the scene is that everyone is from everywhere. You have a Rwandan friend on one side, and a German on the other. Now you just smile to yourself as you walk...

It's a good feeling when your mind stops moving every once in a while and just sits to observe what's moving around you. Amsterdam has been everything I wanted it to be.

Later,
Kheraj

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Holland!

So Den Haag is treating me well. Diliana (Maria's mom) and Jan (Diliana's friend) have been hosting Maria and I like we were royalty. The meals have been hefty and the feeling of being on a holiday, a pleasure. We went to Centraal today (central Den Haag, basically downtown), and I saw my first 'smartshop' where they sell shrooms. I also saw one of everyone's favorite coffee shops, which I only though I'd see in Amsterdam.

Speaking of which, we're currently making plans to go there some time this weekend... Felix where are you?!

All in all though, it's great to be back in Europe. It's one step closer to home but it's also one step closer to being LIKE home :) Hopefully in the near future I'll have photos and more stories to put up. For now, I have to go and make the most of my vacation...

Badaye!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Summer sweet summer

My season has finally come around, and I'm feeling mixed vibes. BGIA is done, and I'm at Lafayette for the summer, working with ITS. Good times - It's good to finally be able to catch up on sleep and other projects that have been sidelined by the past semester.

I will be visiting Maria and a few friends in Holland, and I'm leaving on Monday! Can't wait to be on vacation for 2 whole weeks! It's back to Lafayette after that, and I'm going to begin recording my first track.

Also in music news, I have been planning on my next two mixes for this summer. Rhythm Electro episode 3 will be coming out alongside a brand new fresh summer mix. I've been looking into finally setting up that studio and it's looking harder than I thought. It should be functional by the time school starts up again in late August.

For now, I'm going back to packing for Holland and sampling some Ministry of Sound tunes. Ciao!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Last week of BGIA!

One last sit-in final and one last paper, both due Tuesday, and then I'm pretty much done with BGIA for this semester. Goodbye New York, hello once again summer at Lafayette. I'm actually looking forward to a quiet summer of just working, and trying to get my thesis started. I'll also be helping with the new FAAP microfinance project, DreamsWork!

In all honesty though, I'm writing on my blog right now so I can procrastinate my final IR paper on global warming a threat to global security. So, I'm going to stop here, and get back onto my document. Or maybe I'll check out slashdot first...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Atari Games back up, New look

So the atari games website is back up (must have been as of today, since I was experiencing downs last night), though it has a completely new look. The java has been upgraded, but it seems the site is much slower. I couldn't get a steady game going, let alone send someone an invite to play Monopoly.

I'll keep checking back and see how it improves, if that.

Back to my 2 pager, then 4 pager, then 14-pager... what an end to a semester.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

games.atari.com down?

So it's one of those all-nighter sort of nights, and I just made myself a fresh bowl of pasta with meat-sauce, and I sit at my computer in the greatest of moods to play online monopoly, only the find my regular site, games.atari.com down!

The front-page of the site works, but once you hit 'play games' (http://games.atari.com/playgames/home.jsp) the page is down. Oh man, this is going to make the news tomorrow. I know there are hundreds who use the site at any moment of any day...

I'm going to sulk now. Maybe youtube has something entertaining...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Playing the Outsourcing Game

The implication of Globalization's biggest financial offshoot, and what can be done about it
(Submitted for a Journalism class assignment - OpEd piece)

When Alexander Graham Bell's patent for the telephone was granted in 1876, little did he know that it would eventually lead to the emergence of Globalization: A powerful international phenomenon that has paved the path for technological comparative advantage, where countries are now trading based on what they are best-suited to produce. In terms of trading skill, this has become infamously known as outsourcing. A little over a century ago, European nations were scrambling to set up industries in African countries. Now, using mouse-clicks and Skype, the United States' corporate world has most of its operations based in the Asian Tigers like Singapore, India and China, where people are putting in more time for less money.

In the last decade the increasing use of the Internet has taken outsourcing to another level. American workers, particularly in finance and technology sectors, have already begun losing jobs because someone on the other side of the world can afford to work for less. In addition, whopping population growth rates in the Southern Asian region mean that there are more people willing to work for every one U.S worker. The U.S has a labor force of just over 150 million people, compared to China, for example, that has almost 800 million. Yet, the prospect of job-loss seems to be the only shortfall of outsourcing; business is otherwise booming.

BBC correspondent Steve Schifferes reports that Reuters, the world's biggest news agency, hires journalists in Banglore to work the night shift to report financial markets in the U.S. “Most US companies now put out their press releases on the internet, and they all use financial PR firms to release their profit figures just as the stock market opens.”

Software development has also been a key success story for India. Wipro, a Banglore-based software support company, witnessed a 44 percent increase in profits in the first three months of 2007 from providing services to U.S-based companies. “There were no signs that the U.S economy was going to slow down,” adds Wipro chairman Azim Premji. Nevertheless, BBC mentions that “the speed and scale of economic change has made it increasingly difficult for governments to keep their economic destiny in their own hands.”

For such governments, this should have come as no surprise. People talk about skilled labor like its an issue today. Skilled labor was an issue during the industrial revolution. That's old news. There's two things that America needs to wake up to, and before Christmas would be nice. One, the standard of living here in the U.S is higher than in most of its trading partners. Two, there's more that the rest of the world can produce for the U.S than the U.S can produce for the world.

So what's next? Should Americans begin to hold onto their jobs with everything they have, stay longer hours and make better coffee for their bosses? Should they look to other specialized technical or financial fields where the Tigers can't bite?

Neither.

What the world needs now is an influx of American expertise... outside the U.S. What the U.S is better at, compared to their so-called outsource buddies, is corporate management. Let's welcome Outsourcing Phase Two, which really isn't outsourcing, but smart international financial collaboration. If the U.S were to set up shop with the help of their trading partners in less developed countries in Africa and South America, for example, they would not only have more than enough people to train and work; they would also be helping in a strategic phase of providing positions for skilled labor, otherwise known in poorer countries as a decent education.

Everyone is pumping aid into developing countries. But problems with the aid getting to designated projects arise because of corruption and, in some cases, civil conflict. Rarely do we experience the lack of resources or man power in developing countries. Natural resources are abundant, machinery is constantly donated, and people are ready to work. Rather, it is the poor mobilization of these resources and working masses. The U.S would do well in stepping in, not so much to take over such projects, but to assist in their management. China has already begun this in Africa by providing civil engineers to plan urban infrastructural development in Nigeria and Tanzania.

These are not new terms. You and I have heard them, but we've been too caught up in the drama between the East and the West. It's time we stopped shying away from outsourcing and confronted it in a positive and constructive manner. It's time the U.S played its part...in full.

Finally Legal

What a week. And from what a weekend! Turned 21 last Saturday, and I have to say that it was one of the craziest weekends I have had so far this year. Got to spend some good quality time with folks over at Lafayette on Friday night and then did it up bigtime with Aly, Maria and Khati here at PM in New York City on Saturday. Amazing times.

The semester is almost over, and I'm stressing out. I wrap up work at the EastWest Institute next week, but final papers are due for classes, and I have an exam for my IR theory class. It's been quite a semester, and I feel like I'm coming out having learned a lot. But geez... what a semester. When I think about my mood changes, the people I've met, the experiences I've had, that's all I can say - what a semester!

I figured I'd also start posting some of the paper's I've been writing for my Journalism and Human Rights classes. If I look back on the reflections I put in those papers, compared to what I thought about the topics before this semester, I think I'd see some pretty significant changes. It's funny how people's opinions change vastly after they actually sit down to think through what they have an opinion about.

Anyhow, that was the best short update I could do for a lazy night. More updates to follow. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dell Goes Ubuntu!




"Michael Dell, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Dell, is himself an Ubuntu user. He has the operating system installed on a high-end Dell Precision M90 laptop he uses at home."

Seems like Michael Dell is moving from taking work home, to bringing home to work. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Big ups

Props to the ISA of Lehigh University and Zeta Psi @ Lafayette for a great dj'ing weekend! Shout outs to Mumojay for helping out at the Zeta formal. Great times!

Coming up next weeked - non-stop music at March Field in Lafayette for All College Day! Time to play some chill hip-hop blended with a flavor of sunny house.

In other news - I had an interview for the FOCUS/AKYSB internship in Tajikistan for this summer. I think I was way to nervous, but hopefully, things will work out. Inshallah.

Not much left to say except I have a book review to write. That's all. Badaye.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Time flies...

So I'm sitting in Mumojay's room, and listening to "Face The Music" by Conjure One (house mix). And I'm browsing through my CD cases, through some music from a long, long time ago. I saw a CD dated "September 2004". Wow - that makes it almost 3 years in college, still loving the music.

Wow.

2 gigs this weekend!

Lehigh ISA formal tonight, and Zeta Psi formal kesho. Busy but good times. If you're reading this and want to come, hurry up! I'll be spinning my favorite desi tunes mixed with a flavor of progressive house and bongolized treats!

Friday, April 27, 2007

DJ xmms is spinning tonight


For some reason, my XMMS can play at two different instances on one computer! I can DJ using linux now! PLUS the equalizers for each instance works individually! Check out the screenshot.You can thank me for your easy Xubuntu DJ'ing experience later.

Cheers,
Kheraj

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pursuit of Happyness

A great movie! And for a great past weekend! 2 gigs this past weekend - Lehigh and then Lafayette for the ISA formal - brilliant times :)

This coming weekend is going to be just as crazy - hopefully 3 gigs lined up! Lehigh Indian Students Association formal, Youth empowerment day at Fisher Field @ Lafayette, and then the Zeta Psi formal! Meatpacked.

In other news, the weather is getting warm, which is solid, very solid, news. Also, I've been thinking a lot about where my senior year will take me. It's going to be an interesting ride, considering what might happen this summer. I'm still waiting to hear on the FOCUS internship in Tajikistan, but I'm also trying to meet the FSD deadline for Kenya. Fast times...

Talk badaye.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chakra - Home

Don´t be afraid, your world is dark tonight
For without love, how can your spirit sing?
You are a bird with wounded wings

You´re not alone
I´ve come to take you home
You´re not alone
I´ve come to take you home

I´ll show you life
I´ll heal your heart tonight
Everybody needs a helping hand
I can help you understand

You´re not alone
I´ve come to take you home
You´re not alone
I´ve come to take you home

You´re not alone

Virginia Tech Shootings

Yesterday, a student at Virginia Tech shot 32 people at his university - professors and students included.

You can read today's latest article on the shootings on the BBC website.

Things like this make me think about how safe we really are. You just never know. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace.

Monday, April 16, 2007

w00t!

Wow... Campus Pizza (of all places) was one of my favorite sessions last night. I played a mix of everything, and felt really good about it. People seemed to have enjoyed it too. Next weekend's sessions - at Lehigh and Lafayette - are hopefully going to be (at least) just as good, because I've been sampling some hot tracks lately.

I also went to Boston on Friday night, and I have to say - that 6-hour road trip with Mumojay at the wheel was completely worth it. Props to Neechi and Gebre for hosting some interesting conversational pre-games. We'll do it again sometime soon.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Back!

I'm back from spring breaking in Myrtle Beach - good times, but while the sun was shining, it was still chilly. Global Warming is really beginning to take on the world...when will we step up? That is a multi-billion-dollar question.

In other news, I am hoping that I'll be able to be accepted into the Aga Khan Foundation's FOCUS program this summer in Tajikistan! A few things are on the table, but it would be great to have the chance to do some humanitarian work on that side of the world. I can't wait to hear back from them. Inshallah, things will work out.

More updates coming soon...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Gloomy

So I'm still at Lafayette, just lounging for the day. Should be going back to New York in the next couple'ours. It's gloomy out, and seems like a typical Sunday. Can't wait to get all my work done in the next two days and then get out to Myrtle Beach!

I'm hearing Armin Van Buuren is going to be in Canada soon (or is playing out now), and that's pretty crazy...how he's been on the roll for a number of years now, and may be getting the djlist.com's voted number 1 position next year.

I've been thinking about getting monitor speakers for a while now, but when I heard Serdar's solo today (a small project he's working on), I went insane! Those monitors will definately be on the 'need to purchase' list. And next semester, deadline December 2007, we're going to try to come up with a track... from scratch. Good times.

For now, I'm going to kick back for the next 2 hours, welcome Mumojay back to Lafayette and then bounce.

Carpe Diem.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Gigs everywhere!

I am very happy to say that since the last time I posted on my blog, I have been successful in scouting out a few underground gigs here and there, mostly around Lafayette! I DJ'ed for an RA formal at Lehigh last week, and last night I was at Campus Pizza... good times.

I've been getting some insane electro beats, it's even surprising me! On top of all this, I had spring break, which is perfect for the coming warm weather. Going to be going to South Carolina on Wednesday to enjoy some beach and sun!

In other news, we (FAAP) hosted yet another successful fundraiser today - Change the World. The mapping out of the world went perfectly as planned, and pictures for that will be circulated pretty soon.

More news after spring break...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Who I am

I've been called an Idealist. A dreamer. A crazy young fool who will end up drinking in the subways of New York. I've also been called an Indian. An Arab. A Mexican. An Italian. (Nobody who has met me for the first time has ever guessed correctly that I'm Tanzanian)

Solid. Here's what I have to say: I'm going to save the world.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Armin at Pacha last night

Last night was incredible. Absolutely insane. A few friends and I went to Pacha for Armin's set... and it was balistic! He played Yearzero, which made my night! Loved the club set up, too. Makes me want to go to Ibiza more and more.

So for everyone who knows me, I'll be DJ'ing pretty much for sure at Lehigh next Friday, and hopefully at campus pizza on Saturday! We are on.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Random


So I'm sitting here bored, and I'm about to go to bed. But I decided to play around with screenshots.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Push the feeling on

It's amazing. I think I'm beginning to feel it all over again... I'm rediscovering why I like electronic music so much. I've been listening to tracks by Interstate, Nightcrawlers, Cass Fox, Andy Moore - the list goes on - and I feel so alive. It's crazy how far one track can take you!

So I know I've been ranting on about making my new mix, but I have to confess, New York City is one place that can steal your time. No kidding. I've been meaning to make Rhythm Electro 4 - "And Beyond" for months now. But I promise I'll get on it the next time I go back to Lafayette. Which reminds me ... I tested out my new speakers! Behringer B215's... they're insanely light and versatile. For 600 watts each, they really are teasers... I love them.

In other news, I was thinking things over today, and I figure that next year is going to either be really good year or a really bad one for the same reason; I'm going to be trying some new things out - with music, with business and with FAAP - and if they work according to plan, it's going to be bananas!

Alright, I'm sitting here with my faithful bottle of JD and I need to be getting ready. It's a night on the town tonight. The Kheraj Brothers are about to do it again ...

Until next time, bon chance.
Cher,
Kheraj

Friday, March 9, 2007

Note to self...

... mixing (drinks) is never a good idea.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

"Jihad" does not mean "holy war"!

I'm sick of seeing this all over news articles. If the media stopped being ignorant and actually took the time to look up the word "Jihad" in an Arabic dictionary, they wouldn't be putting out half the crap they do now.

No, it DOES NOT mean "holy war". Jihad is a word used to express "struggle". In the Holy Quran, it is used to express struggle in the name of Allah. And no, this does not automatically mean waging war. A muslim working in the New York Stock Exchange and simply integrating himself into American society can be seen as a Muslim with a personal Jihad. A Muslim professor in a university teaching about the modern interpretation of the Quran can also be seen as a Muslim with a personal Jihad.

So the next time you hear the word "Jihad", don't piss your pants, or breathe harder, or panic. The media doesn't know what they're talking about.

Seriously, let's get with it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Dance for Darfur

Wow ... what a great weekend! I had a great gig at Lafayette on Saturday night for the "Dance for Darfur". They ended up raising more than $2,400! Also got a chance to catch up with some peeps... good times.

More ideas for next year's recording studio came up... I'll be updating this section and my website in the near future. Until then, stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What goes around ... Comes around

So it's been yet another long period. I just haven't had the time to sit down and do something casual for a change ... it's bananas.

But I got my speakers! From here on, I have my own equipment for live DJ gigs, which makes me feel great. Hopefully, next year I'll be able to put together a studio with Bender and Mumo so we can start recording.

Also, I was in Boston all weekend on a Model UN conference at Harvard, which turned out pretty well this year, considering I was representing Nepal.

I'm beginning to get into "Heros" and while I'm hating myself for it, I love the show.

More updates later ... for now, stay tuned for my gig on the 3rd of March at Lafayette - Dance for Darfur. For more information: http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~kheraja/ace/booking.htm

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Bright Side

Eish, it's been too long since I've written. I've been trying to get my act together with gigs here in the city, and so I've been spending a lot of time on CraigsList and emailing folks about potential demo submissions, try-out dates, competitions and events. It's all a hustle, but it's completely worth it.
 
In other news, yours truly has finally been able to order his speakers! 2 Behringer B215 speakers and 1 Behringer EP2500 amp. They'll be in next week hopefully, and from there on, I am up for private hiring wherever there's a party! Be sure to call/e-mail because I'm always up for a gig.
 
Classes/work are moving along smoothly. I'm beginning to get a know so many people here in the city, and it's an amazing experience just sitting down and listening to their stories. The world has a wealth of information that nobody really has time to pay attention to. I've learned so much already just from trying to keep my mouth shut for a change and listen ... it does wonders.
 
Many, many ideas have been running through my head lately, which gives me a feeling a lot is going to be happening in the next few weeks. I will be updating this blog as things begin to unfold. I'll be going to Lafayette tonight to check up some business, but I'll be back with more updates soon!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Trance Nation

My brother gave me some tracks from the Trance Nation Hits 2007 CD last night, and I have got to say ... it's probably the most solid music I've heard for a while! Tracks 1, 2, 4 and 5 below are some samples from the collection.

1. Giuseppe Ottaviani - Through your eyes
(Thomas Brozwear mix)
2. Dave 202 - Generate the wave (Original mix)
3. Benny Benassi - Feel alive
4. C-Quence Pres. Assure - Enemy Territory (Original mix)
5. Epos - Vivagio (DJ Danjo & Rob Styles remix)

The Life

It's been a while since I updated my blog, but a lot has been going on. I was at Lafayette a few days ago, and then John and Olga came down for the weekend. I ended up seeing the Statue of Libery, and taking some amazing photographs! I'll be putting those up on my website soon (thanks to Olga's Fuji).

Also, one of my friends from back in the day invited us to a house party, and I already have my hands on some new music from that night. Rest assured that those tracks - as well as tracks from a hot Trance Nation album my brother gave me to listen to whilst on the subway - all be incorporated into my new mixes: "Rhythm Electro (Episode 3) - And Beyond" and "Revolution Trance (Episode 5) - Subway". Speaking of which, I've been window-shopping online for speakers, and I can't wait until I can get them. You'll know when I do :)

Otherwise, New York continues to burn my wallet beyond extremes, but I'm learning how to deal with it. I'm in college ... what else can I say.

I read 2 days ago that Hillary Clinton has opposed Bush's "plan" to send more troops to Iraq, and has in fact strongly recommended that troops already in Iraq be brought back by 2009. Go Hillary! Though, I have a bad feeling about the next year ... let's hope for the best.

In other news, I'm becoming more and more acquainted with Xubuntu - it's stable, it's simple, and it does what I need. My hardware is another story, but hopefully after I upgrade to a gig of ram, things will run much more smoothly. I would still recommend Xubuntu to anyone deciding to switch to Linux.

That's all for now, but I'll be back with more later!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Fast Lane

So I have officially moved into New York City as off yesterday! I'm really excited, and I start my internship on Wednesday. In the meantime, we'll be getting all the orientation jazz out of the way for classes and such. It's going to be a good semester, hopefully!

In other news, I need to set up my deck and get cracking on those mixes. If all works out with my next paycheck (ching ching), dj ace is going to get a major upgrade. I'm thinking about getting monitor speakers, since I know I'll be doing some recording in the near future, so stay tuned with that.

Otherwise, don't forget to listen to the 4th episode of my 'Revolution Trance' series - 'Into the Sky', mixed and recorded live in December! More coming soon.

--
Small steps. Big things.
http://www.alaminkheraj.com

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Solid Beats

Been getting swamped with good music, so I thought I'd let you guys in on some of it. Here's what's been playing a lot on my computer:

:: Nelly Furtado feat. Timbaland - Promiscuous girl (Crunk remix)
:: Fedde le Grand - Get this feeling
:: Fonzerelli - Moonlight party
:: Karen Overton - Your loving arms (Original club mix)
:: a LOT of Shawn Mitiska

Happy listening!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When it hits the fan ...

It's cold, I've only done half the things I wanted to do today, and I lost 2 monopoly games today. Yeah ... it blows. But it's not the end yet. I have tomorrow morning left to run around like a headless chicken.

Might not be able to make my mix tonight. Worry not though, because yesterday I got some tracks that I figure I'm going to have to make a new hip hop mix for!

Closer

So I realized that my term here at Lafayette is almost done for the interim. And as usual, I realized this a bit too late. Lotta things have to be sorted over the next 3 days, some less exciting than others. Most importantly, I have to catch up with a new mix (Rhythm Electro Episode 3 - And Beyond) which, to my disappointment, I failed to play this past Saturday as planned.

I'll hopefully be able to make it tomorrow night, if I manage to tackle some EXCEL work. And then ... I'm off to New York City! I have an appointment with a certain Balkan.

"Acetronik to Misson Control ... Permission to shift into Sixth."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Works

Yes, it works - just next time, I'll remember to take off my signature below!

In other news ... I'm currently trying to find a way in which to integrate the blog template into my website. As you've probably realised, it's inconvenient to go to an external page just to read my blog when you're on my website. Also, I'll be working on how to play my mixes from the website, as opposed to being able to download them.

E-Mail Blogging

Ah, what can I say - I had to try this out (e-mailing a blog-address to have it automatically post). Whether its a good or bad thing, I think I am getting the hang of this.

--
Small steps. Big things.
http://www.alaminkheraj.com

iPhone

I forgot to mention - the iPhone is out!

Google Calendar, etc.

So I finally embedded a dedicated 'dj ace' calendar onto my website. It's not all that, but it's something for potential bookers to look me up with. Someday, it'll all be done in flash ... for now, I gotta keep my feet on the ground.

I still have to work on putting up some photos, and I have to also update the FAAP website. Those updates should be coming in the next few weeks.

Less than two weeks of break left. In two Wednesday's I'll already be in Manhattan for orientation with the BGIA program. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

FAAP and Music

So I think I've made a pretty solid decision on where I want to go after I graduate from Lafayette: I'm going home. I think I may have finally found a way in which to combine making music with building community spirit and encouraging the alleviation of poverty. I'm not going to say much about the idea because I have a lot to figure out, but in short words, I intend on teaching kids back in Dar-es-Salaam how to DJ, mix and record, through FAAP's Tanzania branch.

That's all for now, more coming later :)

Monday, January 8, 2007

The Year 2007

So here I am, a week into the year 2007, and already things are beginning to take shape. There's a lot I want to accomplish this year, and hopefully, with the right amount of focus and work, I'll get there. For some reason, I keep thinking that goals have become even more important than they ever used to be, and that as long as I have some kind of target to hit, I can hit it.

For now, I'm caught up with a few things here on campus. Whoever says that staying at Lafayette over vacation is boring isn't doing the right things. I'm working with the Network Center, doing research, helping to fill out an FAAP/UWC proposal amongst other tasks, but I'm still having a great time. 3 weeks until Bard in NYC and I can't wait!

Testing 2

OK, so I've gotten this to work with my website. Posts will directly update the links and such on the ww2 server at Lafayette. I'm thinking I'll use this until I have my own domain and webspace. Until then, this should be good to go!

Testing

Just testing to see if my blog works, afterall!

I never thought I'd actually start a complete blog. Wow ...