india frustrates, Uncategorized

India: Navigate the Deceptions

When I moved back in 2003, India was a country that held a lot of promise. A promise to be the next IT global super power, a military super power, a economy that in a couple of decades will be the second largest economy. On budget day 2011, Pranab Mukherjee quoted that India will overtake China by 2050. The India story is often overhyped: India this, India that, India will become this and India will become that, claims that have lot of noise well laced with deception. Many and I for one believed this story. A story that has more rhetoric than substance, more potential than reality, more deception than honesty. Question remains, at this juncture what is the real future of this country. What is really needed is a solid foundation that unleashes a bright future.

It all starts at the top, where we have a very weird situation. A honest Prime Minister who leads the most corrupt government. If you take a moment and think, this is really absurd absurd! Have you ever heard of an honest leader with dishonest followers ? Or a honest CEO with dishonest employees. This is the kind of garbage that is generated daily and consumed. Very few challenge the status quo, half of Indian poor and illiterate struggling for the next meal, a middle class struggling to make ends meet, the rich relishing their real estate gains. Even I was ranting and raving but it caught up with me one day when I started questioning myself ? should I really participate in this raving and ranting, am i doing justice to myself and others ?

If one starts peeling the onion, the well lit India story starts to fade. FDI has fallen significantly last year and rightly so. Some of my friends who run global hedge funds have indicated that Indian allocations have fallen down. Many Indian companies have started investing abroad. Indian capital is fleeing Indian shores instead of global capital entering Indian shores. It is illegal Indian money that finds a way into India and illegal money supports illegal activities.

I am not saying all is lost because i still believe there are good and honest people in India. I still go back to Pratyush SInha, former CVC head’s observation that 20% of this country is utterly honest. This 20% is not a small number of people, that is 240 million honest people who should be encouraged and empowered. I was told by the son of a senior army officer that even if the person appointed to the Indian army canteen ( supplies everything from food, durables and liquor to army personnel) is honest, he will be removed by implicating false charge on him. However if he is dishonest he will be duly encouraged, to collect bribes and distribute. This is just one example and if this is the case, can you imagine a country that promotes corrupt people to positions of power ever make progress.

India is full of noise: rhetoric, false claims, rosy stories and deception. If you want anything done in India you have to first find competent and honest people. Honest because they will tell you the true story with no agenda, who will keep the interest of the country first, company second and themselves last.

I am convinced this 9% growth means nothing. If competent honest people are not protected and promoted, the India story will continue to deceive the world. For if money is lost nothing is lost but if character is lost everything is lost.

7 thoughts on “India: Navigate the Deceptions”

  1. Who doesnt know of the dire state of affairs in our country. We – all of us are part of this corrupt system. Saying it repeatedly is hardly going to change things.

    Let us come with some solutions for a change. I suppose, we are masters in commenting about things around us, but when it comes to making a difference, we run in different directions. I suppose we leave it to people like Tilak, Gandhi. A country of our population, needs common men like us to participate to make a difference.
    Would love to see you write on how to make a difference.

    If we cannot make any difference and cannot think of how to solve our own problems, then we deesrve this situation.

    Are people like you and me willing to take on the corrupt system and walk the distance? if not let us atleast support people like Anna Hazare who are fighting corruption.
    Let us write about people like Anna Hazare and the difference they make, whenever we write about the terrible state of affairs in our country.
    Talking and discussing is necessary to bring about a change but is not enough/sufficient. We need to dirty our hands and change things.

    It will be interesting to study why we Indians are mostly corrupt. Why is it that we place self before the country? may be this could be the starting point to correct the system and make our country a better place to live in for future generations.

    Tell me, have you not been part of the corrupt system? Have you not directly or indirectly contributed to the corruption in our country? All of us have, at some point of time or the other. But when it comes to hitting out, we will conveniently forget our own actions which drives the corrupt system.
    We are all too caught up with making our own lives comfortable. Are we willing to divert these efforts to change things in our country? Are we willing to sacrifice self for the country?
    Are we the kind of people who will deprive ourselves to ensure an honest system? if the answer is no, we need to introspect and find out why and change it.

    Incidentally, a honest CEO with dishonest employees cannot exist. the CEO is equally dishonest for having a team of dishonest employees.

    Irrespective of whether we participate in the raving and ranting about the sad state of affairs in our country, the only thing that will change things is, when common people like you and me actively participate beyond discussions and start acting.

    1. Dear Narayanan

      Yes I have been part of the corrupt system and have been coerced to participate. However there are compulsions you cannot avoid which i will articulate in another article. The systems takes your family, your company or you hostage. If it is only you there is no problem but when you are not alone the forces are different.

      … Shrikant

  2. Since you are a doyen, you may know this already? I quote Robert Solow:

    “Over the long term, places with strong, distinctive identities are more likely to prosper than places without them. Every place must identify its strongest most distinctive features and develop them or run the risk of being all things to all persons and nothing special to any…Livability is not a middle-class luxury. It is an economic imperative.”

    9% growth => middle-class luxury, i.e., yours’ and my irrational desires. So, effectively you are right when you say, it does not truly mean anything!

    I always make this remark while pointing out that Japan couldn’t sustain its “growth” because it abandoned its identity and adopted that of its “victor” after losing in WW-II.

    “India” as we know today is a “British construct/model” and not a local idea. It is said that most Americans prioritise family, community, church, county, state, country in that order. People overlook that this is even more relevant to India, even today. So, “build a cathedral” model may have worked for Drucker, but won’t work for us. We need to go back to Schumacher’s models. That would be possible by adopting the way like your acquaintance Prayaag Joshi.

    Only when you work in the grassroots level can you effect any change. Otherwise it will be a waste of time.

    Last but not least, If you moved back because you thought there would be a US carbon copy being set up here, I am both sad and disappointed. In that sense, Gurcharan Das’s (India unbound) story rings better, but his sons’ reasons were similar to yours.

    Since you write about Gandhi, I want to point out something from his own life. All his life, Gandhi freely adapted ideas from other people around the world, but always modified it to fit the Indian mould/psyche. In your case, you take his work and try to fit it into an outside model.


    1. After WWII Japanese scouted for ideas/concepts around the world and started implementing them. There is a lot about Japan that one can take note off, however the most important one is honesty and integrity in public life. Their civic sense is probably better than most so called advanced countries.

      Agree with the points you have made, however nothing is possible without passion and integrity.

      1. Shrikant,
        Thanks for the response. I am sorry I wasn’t more clear to start with.

        Whatever Japan may have adapted/adopted from you me and our Uncle, they were unable to relate to it nor maintain it and it inevitably failed (I speak of the economic woes, not the tsunami) – for the simple fact it wasn’t all theirs to begin with.

        Hence my remark about Gandhi: Thoreau’s “civil-disobedience” would have flopped miserably if it had been adapted to India. OTOH, “Satyagraha” built on the same premise, but with references to Harischandra, ahimsa, Gita, etc., made it the tour de force that we by-rote in History text books today. 😐

        There’s a lot to take note of from the Indian models too. But applied in context of a larger model it flops because neither the (Eurocentric) model to which the (Indian) values are told to be applied nor the (Indian) model to which (Eurocentric(*)) values are being told to apply will ever converge.

        (*) Like it or not, “Passion” is definitely an alien word to Indian minds. Until my generation, and I am a 70s boy, dispassion, fatalism, shraddha, etc., were part of our childhood education at home in the mythology and religion classes from the family. Now, when we job-hop every two years, ‘diss’ our colleagues’ work in performance appraisals while simultaneously “teamworking” with them in public….etc.,etc. because our jobs “demand it” 😦 Such small things are more corrosive in destroying societal framework/fabric than we are willing to accept or give credit for.

        Hope I am clear.

      2. Once again,
        Gurcharan Das’s book is very profound in this point, that it highlights how they had to Indianise P&G’s product, workings, ethos, virtually everything before Vicks became what it is today.

        Did you know what a fit the Americans threw about calling “their” medicine as an “Ayurvedic” one and how long Das had to lobby for it? Sigh!
        Just a small thing. But it made me realise we are stupidly riding someone else’s life and desperately claiming it as “our own” while this dissonance is eating away our insides without our knowledge

      3. Just remembered reading this article few days ago. It is relevant to the point I am making. From the article:

        While Japan is renowned for its cutting edge technology, it also maintains an anachronistic element in its society that relies on humans for tasks that have given way to automation in many other parts of the world, such as operating elevators and warning motorists of road construction.

        Whereas, we adopt/adapt wholesale UK practices (British India), USSR policies (in Nehru’s times) blindly, all the way up to now where we have American policies left and right, US style lobbyists (Radia), etc… etc., while there was a functioning system tailored for our way of lives before all these stupidities dotted the landscapes. With this kind of ruling for nearly 200 years, is it any surprise that we’re confused and don’t give a damn about anything else but our own pockets and our own backs?

        I am not condoning corruption, nor am I condemning other countries, the harsh truth as Schumacher puts it, is:

        No one seems to think that a Buddhist way of life would call for Buddhist economics, just as the modern materialist way of life has brought forth modern economics.

        We ought to throw away the current books and go back to the old rule books which is pretty much encoded in our genes already.

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