There’s No Voter Apathy in India

With 2019 Lok Sabha elections a few days away, I have been thinking of one question: what explains the voters’ confidence in Indian governments to provide them with guaranteed incomes, guaranteed pensions, or guaranteed work even when governments are terrible at doing what they must – fix market failures?

In other words, the Indian State’s performance on law and order, education, and public health, is poor. And yet there’s wide support whenever Indian governments and political parties promise new schemes to accomplish even grander things. What explains this paradox?

I have two hypotheses.

One, the political enthusiasm hypothesis. This is the reverse of the voter apathy idea. It means that the voters who have a disproportionate influence on setting the political agenda (read middle-income voters) were never apathetic to politics but only to government provision of public services.

They became apathetic towards government provision of public services because with rising incomes, they could substitute the missing services with their own private solutions. Having done that, politics became a means to achieve other outcomes – those unrelated to market failures. Voting apathy never meant political apathy.

See this from the Exit, Voice, Loyalty thesis. Loyalty makes exit difficult. So the median Indian voter never really exited from Indian politics and instead chose to voice concerns unrelated to government provision of basic services.

My second hypotheses is more charitable to the Indian voter. I call it the expanding moral arc thesis. It is based on the book The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer. The book argues that the moral arc is continuously expanding. A few decades ago, the arc excluded non-White men in large parts of the world. Today, it includes all humans and even animals.

The key insight for us is that Indian politics is being played out in the background of this rapidly increasing moral arc. This makes the Indian developmental challenge more moral but less fast. The demand for universal basic incomes in India is a reflection of this expanding moral arc. The government’s role in India is seen as a moral project not a utilitarian one and hence we are okay to give its record on fixing market failures a free pass.

Census is Political

Any counting exercise is political. Counting persons in a particular jurisdiction is even more so. A few months ago, I had written how census is a politically charged issue in Pakistan.

Unsurprisingly, this is the case in India as well. A few days back, I needed state-wise population projections for the years 2012-2019 and I came across a few inferences to illustrate how even though the census is conducted regularly in India, the politics of counting manifests itself in some other ways.

One, there are no official population projections data after 2006. The last population projection exercise was carried out by a Technical Group constituted by the National Commission of Population in 2006 based on Census 2001 data. Even eight years after the last census, the updated population projections have not been released. The National Commission of Population itself seems to have become defunct – their website returns a 404 error and there have been no recent press releases from the Commission. The politics of counting might have a role to play in this inexplicable delay.

In any case, based on the Census 2011 data, I have a state-wise population projection dataset which is available on ResearchGate if anyone wants to use it.

Two, Nagaland’s decadal growth rate stands out. While compiling a simplified population projections estimate, I noticed Nagaland is the only state that shows declining population between 2001 and 2011. Turns out this is so because Census 2001 overestimated population numbers. Notably, Nagaland had recorded the country’s highest decadal population growth rate in the 2001 and 1991 census. A news report claims this as the reason:

Rejecting the 2001 Census, the State government on various occasions found that most of the villages recorded exaggerated population figures believing that they would get more financial allocations from the government for various rural development schemes.

I don’t think this reason alone sufficiently explains the overestimation because reporting exaggerated figures is not unique to Nagaland alone. Instead, what this indicates is weak state capacity in Nagaland. I had written earlier that census taking is as fundamental an indicator of state capacity as raising taxes is, and can be used to measure effectiveness of States. Nagaland has particularly seen violent bouts of insurgency and hence it is quite likely that census officials weren’t able to conduct the exercise with rigour. They instead extrapolated based on numbers reported by village officials.

Three, migration into Assam problem is more an unresolved historical issue than a problem that’s getting worse by the day. It’s a stock problem rather than a flow problem. I say this because Assam’s decadal growth rate between 2001 and 2011 is actually below the national average. This was not the case earlier. See this table:


In the 100 years between 1901 and 2001, there was were only two decades in which Assam’s population growth rate was slower than the India average. But this has not been the case since the 1991 census. Illegal migration from Bangladesh is considered to be a big driver for population changes in Assam and the latest census data tentatively suggests that the flow of new migrants has been arrested. Another alternative explanation is that the lowered decadal growth rate was a result of political negotiations that tried to downplay the extent of the problem. I am inclined towards the first explanation because Bangladesh is making rapid strides in its own growth story and this will disincentivise high-risk illegal migration to Assam.

From Chapter 8, Policy Paradox by Deborah Stone

These three instances again assert how any counting is political. I’ll leave you with this excellent nugget from Deborah Stone’s classic The Policy Paradox.

A Duty to Question Fake News

The discourse around fake news often focuses on the ones disseminating it. Organised troll factories, chatbots, media houses with questionable integrity, elected leaders who like to play fast and loose with facts: the list is endless. But it is equally important to look at individuals, the targets and consumers of fake news, and ask what they should do when bombarded by inaccurate information.

This was the subject of a short essay titled The Ethics of Belief, written in 1877 by the mathematician and philosopher William K. Clifford. He sets a very high standard for people to follow, as is evident from the following line:

…it is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

Clifford justifies the need for such an ethical duty for three reasons. One, and the simplest of them all, a wrongful belief can dictate wrongful action. Second, it can foster a bad habit where individuals become credulous believers, their sense of discernment dulled by a tendency to accept whatever is presented to them. And three, the larger social reason of human actions and thoughts being a form of common property, and thus to be considered both a privilege and a responsibility.

Regardless of how convincing one finds Clifford’s reasons, what makes his position relevant for the current age is its flipping of the discourse. By presenting the questioning of beliefs as an ethical duty, the essay gives primacy to individuals. It remains to be seen if this framing can be used to arrive at a public policy solution to the problem of fake news.

Understanding Witch Hunts

One of the signs of good literature is the ability to stay relevant with the passage of time. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, written in the 1950s, uses the Salem witch trials as an allegory for the paranoia surrounding Communism in the US after the end of the Second World War. It is a testament to the strength of the play that it resonates just as strongly in the world of today, with the fears around fake news and the targeting of individuals and communities.

The play has a fairly straightforward narrative (minor spoilers to follow): a group of young women lie and claim that certain members of their town are indulging in witchcraft. This sets off a chain of events both absurd and scary, with the accused being presumed guilty until they either confess (leading to a loss of reputation and property) or refute the charge (leading to a death sentence).

As I read the play, two things struck me as being particularly relevant for understanding the nature of witch hunts in general.

One, the women who accuse others do not create a new divide in their society but instead widen existing ones. They allow the townsfolk to give voice to their prejudices and social distrust, something that normal bounds of propriety would have otherwise prevented them from acting upon.

Two, and a related point, is that the people who back the claims of the women often have baser reasons for doing so. This includes the pursuit of material profit at the cost of a neighbour’s, petty dislike, or to right perceived historical slights. In other words, these people are self-aware. They are not acting for the “right reasons,” even if they claim otherwise.

The Police Should Not Police Hate Speech

A recent report (of which I was a co-author) looked at the way in which hate speech provisions in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (the IPC) need to be reconfigured to fulfil their function and prevent their abuse. The report recommended replacing certain existing provisions in the IPC with narrowly constructed alternatives that do away with vague standards and instead hold liable only that speech which incites violence.

As I think more about how this will be an improvement on the status quo, I also believe that more must be done to further reduce the scope for abuse. One way of achieving this is by rethinking the way these hate speech provisions (in particular, sections 153-A, 295-A, and 505 of the IPC) are categorised under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (the CrPC).

These provisions are cognizable offences at present. What this means is that a police officer receiving a complaint about one of these offences can arrest anyone without an order or a warrant from a magistrate. The subjective satisfaction of a police officer that this entails is a recipe for disaster. This is particularly so for complaints regarding hate speech, where there is a need to evaluate the content of the speech itself and its proximity to violence before taking any action. It is too much to expect police officers to perform this function. Thus, in addition to reworking the provisions of the law, it would be prudent to classify them as non-cognizable offences under the CrPC to ensure an additional layer of scrutiny.

A Presidential Pardon for Turkey: West Asia Fortnightly Update, 03-01-2019

What a week it’s been for Turkey. Practically overnight, it has become the most critical player in West Asia. The country now begins the New Year as the belle of the ball.

First, a little context. Since the Saudi-sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey has been warming up the US, which suddenly finds that it’s going to need a more credible partner in West Asia. (The irony of the country which leads the world in jailing journalists now being “credible” is an interesting lesson in how reputations work in international relations.) US President Trump, apparently wanting to prove that he knows how to be “decisive” after causing a government shutdown in late December, spoke to Turkey President Erdogan, who promised him that his country would take over the fight against ISIS. Trump then announced “victory” over ISIS and ordered an immediate withdrawal, prompting his overstressed Secretary of Defence to retire.

I wrote then that Turkey had an unprecedented opportunity for regional hegemony. And, it seems, the opportunity has been seized.

Trump has “discussed heavily expanded trade” with Erdogan, and will visit Turkey this year. US Sanctions on Turkey have been lifted. Trump’s NSA will be visiting this month. American prosecutors will also be visiting Turkey to discuss the possible extradition of Fetullah Gulen, Erdogan’s friend-turned-foe whom he blames for the failed 2016 coup against him. (The Pakistan Supreme Court has declared the Gulen Organisation to be a terrorist outfit and ordered the closure of its schools).

Turkey’s importance in resolving the Syrian Civil War is now even clearer than it was before to Russia, which was gleefully watching Trump’s earlier sanctions on Turkey. Now, however, Russia has agreed to coordinate military activity in Syria with Turkey after the American withdrawal, and will be arranging a tripartite summit in Moscow early this year with Iran and Turkey. It’s likely that some sort of agreement regarding the status of Kurds will be reached – at the very least, they will have to retreat from Northern Syria, where they hold territory bordering Turkey.

The Kurds aren’t sitting around waiting for Erdogan to attack them (which he had promised to do until Trump’s enthusiasm to withdraw took everyone by surprise). On the 28th, they invited Syrian troops to join them in Manbij, a crucial city which Turkey seemed interested in attacking. They are now in a standoff with Turkish troops at the border. Chaos is likely to ensue when the American withdrawal is completed – unless Russia and Turkey reach an accommodation, which cannot be ruled out. After all, Russia is doubling the quota of tomatoes it imports from Turkey in a bid to normalise ties!

(It is worth emphasising at this point that both the Russian and Turkish economies aren’t doing great. Whether this will make their leaders more or less interested in nationalist headbutting remains to be seen – a renewal of war in Northern Syria, with ISIS still active and Turkey involved as an active combatant, would be disastrous. Trump has managed to throw the entire region into confusion.)

Finally, some good news to end this update on: a Turkish policeman saved a puppy from a frozen lake.

Unbundling “household work” to get more women to work

At a recent Takshashila roundtable, I met Shruti Rajagopalan and we discussed the challenges faced by working women in detail. An enriching conversation, Shruti provided various insights such as looking at the female labour force participation as an inferior good. As the household income increases, the demand amongst households to send the women to work reduces and is substituted with women focusing only on household chores. Reasons as Shruti pointed out varied from lack of household help to the increasing pressures of being a working mother. The conversation brought out an interesting insight: the biggest problem with reducing household chores for women is that it is a bundled good.

What is commonly referred to as “household work” contains a bunch of varied tasks like cooking, cleaning, stocking food, managing the assets at the house, managing vendors and neighbors, etc. A set of two or more goods or services when sold or consumed together are called bundled products. Due to the bundled nature of the products, it is difficult to create specific markets for individual subsets within the bundle. For instance, it is difficult to break down the household tasks such that separate agents manage vendors and assets at the house. The closest we have come to distributing the tasks is still within the household unit and yet to create a market where external agents that can be hired for it.

Each of the tasks under “household work” would cost a certain amount to the household. Hence, when a household reaches a certain income, instead of hiring an external agent, the household substitute the cost by letting go of the income earned by the female in the house. Only two chores have been unbundled till date- cooking and cleaning. The exclusive nature of the tasks and clear job description has helped in building both demand and supply for these chores. Hence, being able to unbundle the tasks would help households to outsource the chores as the income increases rather than substituting it with the income earned by the women.

The other obvious solution is to reduce the pay gap between men and women such that the income earned by women are not dispensable enough to be substituted for household chores.

More than a source of empowering women, creating a market for household chores would help solve the increasing job crisis in India. We need to create 20 million jobs per year in order to cater to the people entering the workforce and the disguised unemployment in the agriculture sector. One of the ways to generate these new jobs would create a services market for household chores. As per the study was done by  Bela Bandyopadhyaya, and Hilary Standing in the paper “Women’s Employment and the Household-Some Findings from Calcutta”, high-income families create 1.5 jobs per household for the child and household care (full time and a part-time employee). As most of the domestic care is under the purview of the women in the house, each working women helps increase the household income and generates jobs for a cook, a housekeeper, a cleaner and for general domestic work.

As I unravel the giant problem of declining female labour force participation rate in India, I have realised that social mindsets play an integral part in keeping the status quo intact. Hence, the change in the viewpoint towards household chores and the distribution of the agency would only improve as the social narratives are altered. Until then, making it easier for women to chose between staying at home and working should be a step in the right direction.

Why do Liberals Drink Lattes?

The term latte liberals has been used as a derogatory term for a while now in the US. The phrase came about to describe “liberals who sit around and drink overpriced diluted Starbucks coffee while lamenting the plight of the poor.” This is quite similar to the term “wine’n’cheese”, which caught on in India for those who oppose Aadhaar. Though we do not have any conclusive proof of whether Aadhaarophobics truly consume large quantities of wine and cheese, a study has been conducted in the US to establish the link between liberals and lattes in the US.

Using a large-scale survey, researchers Diana C. Mutz and Jahnavi S. Rao did find a positive relationship between being a liberal and preference for lattes. However, undoubtedly, this relationship is not causal. Being a liberal doesn’t make you drink more lattes or drinking lattes won’t make you a liberal. The interesting aspect is to then find out the reasons behind the positive relationship. The authors provide four explanations, which they have empirically tested:

  1. Their first assertion is that this relationship occurs because latte consumption is a function of the sheer availability of coffee shops. Although chain coffee shops are everywhere in America, they are more prevalent in urban areas, where liberals are more likely to live.
  2. A second possibility is that the cost of purchasing one’s coffee beverage at a coffee shop means that both latte consumption and liberal ideology are functions of income. According to a 2015 survey, consumers will spend $3.28, on average, for a cup of regular coffee at a coffee shop; for barista prepared beverages, the cost can run much higher. As a result, those with higher incomes find it easier to afford lattes than those with limited incomes and it is also empirically proven that liberals tend to have higher incomes.
  3. Their third assertion is linked to gender. It is almost well established in American politics that women tend to be more liberal than men. Women are also more likely to drink lattes.
  4. The final assertion is that conservatives tend to have a disdain for globalization and will thus, avoid foreign sounding products (even though lattes are made in the US).

The paper gives other interesting examples of when the fourth point has stood out in the US.

On the other hand, the name of a product may be as important as, if not more important than, its actual country of production. For example, in 2003, when the US conflict with France over whether to invade Iraq escalated, there were calls from people including Bill O’Reilly to boycott French products. Even the US House of Representatives cafeteria temporarily renamed its French fries and French toast, “freedom fries” and “freedom toast”

Since latte is an Italian word and almost definitely does not have linguistic roots in American English, conservatives tend to believe that it is a foreign product and will avoid it.

Are EU Markets More Competitive than Those in the U.S.?

In a really interesting paper in NBER, authors Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon argue that US markets have gradually become less competitive and markets in the EU have seen the opposite trend.

In many cases, the EU markets exhibit lower levels of industry concentration and excess  profitability, as well as fewer regulatory barriers to entry.

They suggest that divergence in market competitiveness between the U.S. and Europe is related to the powers granted to EU regulatory institutions at their inception. They note that both the European Central Bank and the Directorate-General for Competition were given more political independence than parallel institutions in the United States and thus have been able to pursue more aggressive antitrust enforcement in recent years.

In almost areas of competition law, they find that there was increasing enforcement in the EU and decreasing enforcement in the US, which has also seen more number of cases registered and higher penalties imposed in the EU. This has had a direct impact on consumer welfare in terms of prices. Prices for many products and services (such as broadband internet) which are under the scrutiny of the anti-trust authorities are significantly higher in the US than in the EU.

A large reason for this is also the lack of political independence for the regulatory authorities in the EU. They note that there is “higher levels of both lobbying and campaign contributions in the U.S. than in the EU. Political campaign contributions are 50 times higher in the U.S. than in the EU”. 

Another important trend here is the level of profits for EU and US firms. US firms have had significantly higher profits, on average, than EU firms. My question is this: does the excessive regulation in the EU prevent profits for firms? Will this have a negative effect on innovation and new firms starting up?

How Many Governments Does it Take to Fix a Light Bulb?

In a series of surveys conducted over the last five years, the Lok Foundation and the Centre for Monitoring the Indian economy have been attempting to understand the attitudes that the Indian people hold from everything from jeans to caste and privatisation. Some interesting and counterintuitive attitudes have come up, pointing to a need for policymakers to re-prioritise the problems they aim to tackle, and re-evaluate possible solutions.

(This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I will aim to unpack some of these attitudes).

Privatisation, especially for key utilities, seems to be catching on – with three cities in Maharashtra announcing earlier this year that they will privatise power supplies. Consumers, though, are likely to be less than overjoyed. Here are results from a January 2016 survey on a nationwide sample of 158,624 households:


Two interesting takeaways: on average, a whopping 65% of Indians prefer that the Government provide electricity – and the richer they are, the more likely they are to say so. I suspected that this may be due to the fact that richer Indians tend to be urban and are thus used to larger amounts of affordable electricity with relatively few interruptions. It turned out that this was indeed the case. Here are responses for urban Indians:

And electricity is hardly an exception: the exact same pattern appears in responses to the question of who should provide piped water. But note that poor and middle-class respondents are around 3% less optimistic about the government in this question:

Why is there such a high degree of trust for the government? Here’s my theory: perhaps the State is perceived as a paternalistic and essentially benevolent (if not exactly efficient) institution, thanks to its decent track record in expanding the provision of basic services. And if a government isn’t able to provide affordable utilities, it can always be replaced by one that will (long-term effects be damned!) On the other hand, Indians who are more exposed to government inefficiencies – especially rural Indians – prefer that the private sector take over instead. This may not necessarily reflect an actual awareness of how the private sector operates, but rather a case of “if A couldn’t provide it, and we voted them out in favour of B, and they couldn’t do it either, maybe C will.”

Not convinced? Check out this article that I wrote a while back. Next week, I’ll look at attitudes towards government jobs to support the case that the “government” is seen as a magic wand which will solve India’s knottiest problems despite its patchy record at actually doing so.

UDAN May Come Crashing Down

The government’s low cost, regional connectivity scheme is facing massive turbulence on route (Do excuse the terrible airline puns). Though it initially led to the development of a few airports and the introduction of new routes, three out of the four airline carriers relying on UDAN are set to shut shop.

Except TruJet, the other three regional airlines – Zoom Air, Air Deccan, and  Air Odisha – are in a terrible financial state. While Zoom Air has not flown a single passenger since July, Air Deccan and Air Odisha have managed 3,000 and 1,000 passengers, respectively, in these four months. This is despite the government providing viability gap funding – a fancy term for subsidising low fares.

Unfortunately, the seeds of destruction were sown in 2016 itself, when the scheme was announced and the 4 companies started operations. Since established commercial airlines deemed it commercially unviable to fly on the routes that were proposed by the government, UDAN tried to bring in newer airlines. A company with paid up capital of Rs 5 crore could apply for a regional airline permit. Further sops followed- airport charges and taxes on fuel would be waived off and the government would even pay the airlines to sell half of the seats at Rs 2,500. The 4 airlines in question were enticed by this offer and decided to take up on the offer.

These regional airlines were quite aggressive when bidding for routes. Air Deccan and Air Odisha bagged 84 routes- 60 percent of those on offer. However, just one year later, these airlines are operating in only 10 out of the 84 routes. Basically, though it was easy to enter the sector, operating and sustaining business in it was really hard. The ecosystem was just not conducive.

This excellent piece in Business Standard by Arindam Majumdar explains why the scheme failed for the regional airlines:

Start-up airline operators in India, without any credible background, pay around 10 months of lease as a security deposit. Then the aircraft remains grounded for at least 2 more months waiting for clearance from DGCA and other regulators.

ZoomAir had to wait 5 months for the required license and lost out 6 crores in the process. Also, as the government had put a deadline for registering under the scheme, the airlines did not have the required time to plan the routes and choice of aircrafts. They bought small aircrafts (19 seaters), though it is much more expensive to run. Add to this the problem of finding pilots who are trained to fly these outdated smaller aircrafts and the entire thing is an operational mess.

The smaller the plane, the more expensive it is to operate. Cost of pilot, crew — everything remains the same. If you divide that over a lower number of seats, it becomes more expensive.Without pilots and spare parts planes are frequently grounded leading to high cancellation. Data from aviation regulator DGCA shows that the two airlines had an average cancellation rate over 50 percent since starting operations.

Then, there was the problem of infrastructure. Large airports in the metros did not want to waste precious real estate on the small regional flights and the airports in rural areas did not have the adequate infrastructure to be functional, even though they were inaugurated with pomp and show.

But electoral compulsion meant that the first flight could not wait. After all, an airport gives a government bragging rights in election season.

So, Bastar Airport in Chattisgarh was inaugurated by PM Modi in June. Nothing like getting air connectivity to a Maoist hit area in a poll bound state. Except that the airport was not ready for a landing in monsoon. Bastar is a VFR (Visual Flight Approach) airport meaning if visibility drops below 5,000 metre, landing is cancelled. “We used to prepare every day for take-off from Raipur and then cancel it as Bastar was not ready for landing,” said an Air Odisha executive. Then the aircraft remained grounded for maintenance which meant more cancellations. “Imagine the loss of revenue and public confidence in the service”.

Since July, the airline has cancelled flight for at least 30 days. It flew only 45 passenger in entire July- that’s barely one per day.

The entire scheme seems to be in shambles for the regional carriers. Some of the big carriers who have the ability to scale and can take advantage of the scheme are doing well though. However, they will still not fly on all the routes that the government wants them.

A Global Shift in the Nuclear Weapons Narrative

It’s quite fascinating to observe the global conversation on nuclear weapons. It resembles a simple pendulum oscillation with a time period of ten years.

Back in 2009, the then US president pledged to seek an arms reduction treaty with Russia, ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and convene a global summit to discuss the eventual elimination of nuclear stockpiles. It was the first time that a US president spoke of a roadmap for nuclear disarmament.

And yet that goal seems even more distant nine years later. An excellent article titled ‘The Vanishing Nuclear Taboo‘ in The Foreign Affairs describes the situation well:

After decades of arms control agreements, security cooperation, and a growing consensus about the unacceptability of nuclear weapons, the world is now headed in the opposite direction. Geopolitical tensions have heightened. New arms races have started. States have reverted to valorizing nuclear weapons. The nuclear taboo is weakening. But nothing about this is inevitable; it is a choice our leaders have made. Nuclear disarmament will have to be a long-term project. Today’s decision-makers may not be able to complete the task, but they have an obligation to pursue it.

The taboo is vanishing fast. Apart from the usual suspects, the European states have also changed their tones. This excellent paper gives an idea of the possible scenarios in Europe that seem likely as a result of the ongoing churn. While rejecting the idea of a single European deterrent, the paper argues that the following scenarios appear realistic:

  1. In the current context, Paris can consider extending nuclear deterrence to Europe as a whole including rotations of Rafale fighter-bombers (without their nuclear missiles) to allied bases across Europe.
  2. If the US-Europe relationship worsens further, France can consider these options:
    • base part of its airborne arsenal (say, in the order of ten missiles) in Germany or in Poland (basing) and/or agree that they could be carried by European fighter-bombers (sharing).
    • replace the NATO SNOWCAT (Support of NATO Operations With Conventional Air Tactics) procedure with an identical European one, where non-nuclear nations commit themselves to participate in a nuclear strike with non-nuclear assets.
    • create the possibility of a European nuclear maritime task force, with accompanying European ships and, possibly, a European nuclear squadron based on it.

The fact that such themes are even being discussed seriously in Europe is just another indication of the fact that the NPT regime is falling apart. Consequently, the terms of the debate now need to shift from the ambitious goal of zero nuclear weapons to the more realistic goal of nuclear restraint by a global commitment towards no first use and by taking weapons off high alert to reduce possibilities of accidental use.

The terms of the nuclear weapons debate are definitely up for a change; it would be interesting to see which nation-state will declare itself as the next nuclear power. Any guesses?