Friday, January 16, 2009


Socialism – Industrial Revolution is a serious requirement for a nation to thrive. But rich individuals or business houses don’t aspire to bridge the gap between rich and poor. So, the state (read government) has to take responsibility to drive all the major industries. Whatever losses incurred, the rich should never be promoted to trade freely. There should be a lot of restrictions, regulations and bans on the private entities. The state should play the role of developing and managing the complete industrial base for the nation as a whole. This is Socialism.

Typical example - Post independence India under the visionary rule of Nehru, who envisaged a mixed economy, a government that would be a mix of capitalistic and communistic ideologies, where the state ran all the major industries and necessarily make the remaining dependent upon the state.

But things did not turn out, the way Nehru wanted them to. Bureaucrats enamored power and felt no shame in using it for the betterment of their own being. Bribing became a common phenomenon, from T.C to collector, from manager to peon, from tax inspector to sub-inspector; everyone employed under any government organization was corrupt.

Later on came Indira Gandhi with her stiffer, uglier policies of socialism – she nationalized all the banks (China still has all its banks owned by the government); imposed free trade barring acts like MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices act). In her regime, came the era infamously called the License Raj, where a company was required to get licenses for almost every new act. You wanted to open a new shop; buy telephone, scooter; go abroad or for that matter anything which state felt like required license, you had to get a license. The same required a whole round of bribing starting from peon to the ministry.

As a result of all such (mal) practices and that too for such a long time, Bureaucrats gained more power and hence became more corrupt than ever.

But there was an uglier and much more unacceptable consequence bound to happen. The Indian businessmen created this hard and harsh notion, that here in order to run industries you have to be corrupt. A businessman before writing the first draft of his proposal/plan had to bear certain things in his mind:

  • No matter how good his plan was, he had to bribe the bank officials to sanction the loan.
  • No matter how he is killing his margin, he had to convince (read bribe) the ministry that he was doing it not for the sake of profits (A businessman starting a new venture and that too not for profit – how foolish!!).
  • Once the plan would go on track anyhow, there would be union troubles even before the first quarterly results would be declared.
  • Expanding the business would require more convincing (bribing) than starting the same.
  • In no case he could think of promoting the business oversees, pertaining to the strict laws with regards to exports and foreign trade practices.

(JRD always felt bad for not being able to convince Nehru (also Indira) about the benefits of a private enterprise parallel to the one owned by state)

So, what socialism did for Indian private companies willing to grow was something like this –
They kept on pouring acid instead of water to the seeds that were sown by someone else (private houses). Knowing the fact that the seeds would require proper care and nurturing and above all water, they still poured acid. Certainly, they killed most of the seeds; the plants were nipped in the bud. But the ones that were able to thrive even upon acid-care, Can you even imagine them to be any fruitful to the nation building. No they can’t. They can’t conceive any fruits for the people of the nation (who anyways were willing to eat anything that came their way, pertaining to the prolonged hunger and the prolonged beatings by the mighty).

The businessmen became corrupt from the root itself. Tax-theft was no more considered a theft, illegal imports, bribing the officials for official/unofficial sanctions, bending jurisdiction as per the trade requirements with the aid of contacts and the green notes became a daily practice. From a small kirana-store to the million-dollar business house, all lost their ethics, their morality; all they knew was how to get rid of the ugly, sticky clutches of the socialistic beast, Nehru created (though unknowingly).

But times have changed ever since India adopted the free trade practices. Now Indian companies are buying out their foreign counterparts. And there are enough of initiatives by the government to pour water instead of acid.

Paulo Coelho

I have particularly liked Coelho ever since i read 'The Alchemist' because of the simplicity in his writings. He tries to teach life lessons that are so simple but all forgotten, all buried in the sands of civilizations. He is the guy who is removing the sand. For me he is a cleaner, a soul cleaner.

There are gurus who say do this dhyaan, asana, Samadhi and whatnot, and we forget all that, minutes after listening. But Coelho is different, he is a simple story-teller with that grace, that aura, and that magic to transform the complex life lessons into easy, comprehensible and good to read fables.

You always wish to live in the world, in the shoes, in the troubles of the central characters of Coelho. Be it the girl who decided to die (Veronika decides to die) or the guy who was willing to cross deserts to attain his much desired treasure (The Alchemist), or the girl willing to learn magical powers (Brida) or any character for that matter.

You actually think what if I get to experience all this, but here is the trick, Coelho through his lessons want to convey one very strong point and that is – You need to experience everything in this life yourself and no one is going to actually teach you any of those strange or mundane or whatever things. You have to be a self learner.

You have to go through the pond of wealth as well as the creek of bitter life yourself. Life and time are bigger teachers than anything else ever existed on the face of this planet. So, I sincerely request you to read Paulo Coelho, he may sound silly, insane, or childlike at some instances but he is actually a connector between the unknown, unidentified being and the small us.

This spiritual extravaganza awaits anyone who wishes to explore, who is willing to remove the dust off the lid. One who is eager to take pain, suffer at the hands of the society, the customs, and the dictums to find the unknown will be the one who is going to find true spiritualism, true eternity and will eventually become the flag-bearer of the coming generations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

India Unbound

After reading 'Freedom at Midnight', Gandhi's autobiography and 'Hind Swaraj', i was willing to read something that could give me more insight into the transition of India from
Narrow minded - socialist - Nehruvian - licence raj driven - India
Global minded - capitalist - Privatized - business people driven - India
and hence i found 'India Unbound'.

Authored by Gurcharan Das, one of the most senior guys in P & G (then, now he is an independent consultant cum advisor cum journalist cum board member of various institutions, and ofcourse a fine author).

He has recollected the events of Indian uprising very brilliantly. He has criticised and praised everyone whom he felt responsible for the Indian upbringing from a socialist state to a global economy.

He has suggested how Nehru failed in his socialist model of India where capitalism was driven by the state itself. All the industries regularised and restrained. All the policies benefitting the government and sucking the private industies. One of the astonishing figure of these times - 55%of workforce belonged to the public sector but that only contributed to 27% net output of the nation.

Than he suggested what was wrong with the Indira era - Bureacracy by this time had become such a stiff, corrupt and unabashed dragon that private bodies were left with tax theft, smuggling and false practices to stay existent in that red (-tapism) world. State disliked globalization, exports, better farming practices, open policies etc.

The Rajiv Gandhi era was also not very noteworthy because what India wanted at that time was full freedom from various money and idea sucking acts and not sanctions.

Than came the time of openness in 1991, things started to pace up. Laws like privatisation of banks, MRTP Act (Monopolies and Regulatory Trade Practices Act) were removed with direct effect. Bringing in a new wave of globalisation, a new light of hope for Indian entrepreneurs which implied more openness.

Apart from all this there were essays on Palanpuri Jains (hey!! i am one :)) and marwari banias (i am one here too coz i am half gujju and half marwari). Various revolutionary acts by majors like Birlas, Tatas, Ambanis etc.

So, a must read.