Open Forum: Is India being sold ?

… to the highest bidder ? Is the high rate of economic growth being achieved by a larger and larger concentration of wealth in fewer hands ? or is there indeed a an internal growth in productivity and wealth that is spreading through our nation……


.. certainly a huge boom in real estate and the unimaginable value of the deals being made would suggest the earlier. Sometimes the equation is pretty simple. Borrow from the small saver, and lend to the big boys. The cream in valuation is skimmed off then by the big boys. The small saver continues to get his/her small return at bank rates, but the inflation in values creates an ever increasing gap.
On the other hand i see young middle class people being upwardly mobile. Call centers have pushed salaries way up in urban areas. Consumerism is on the rise. People that never dreamed of having a phone in their life times now carry cell phones. Their is a migration of highly skilled people back to India and there is more and more optimism in the investment community.
Optimism is ultimately a driver of economic growth and the wealth of a nation. It creates hope, which in turn creates aspiration. So the relavent question then becomes : Is there at least a ‘trickle down effect’ in hope and optimism ? Even if the trickle down is confined largely to a smaller proportion of our people. Given that the creation of optimism and hope backfires if not met by opportunity.
The worst thing we could do right now is go the way of Russia. Where all the resources of the country were sold cheaply to those that could scramble into the power equation. China on the other hand seems to be trying to create wealth for it’s people on a more equitable basis. Not that anything will ever be completely equitable.
It is also true that the greatest and the most stable economic wealth comes when b consumption/savings and investment are mostly internally generated. A huge reliance on exports and inward investment leaves an economy very vulnerable.
So, which way are we going and where lies the the future of India ?
Shekhar

53 Responses to “Open Forum: Is India being sold ?”

  1. Aditarya says:

    distribution of wealth is a subject similar to open economy vs closed economy. I mean the confusion is similar. India through its various policies of land reforms, free education, reservations, subsidies, etc etc has now learnt that pushing somebody or appeasement of any class will not generate wealth or growth. India has meager, almost negligible, wealth to think about distribution as of now. Our complete concentration should always have been on generation and not distribution. Its true that in the beginning major benefits will go to the rich few. But ultimately it will trickle down and will benefit every section. As of today we shd think is India growing…doesnt matter if we are not. Our turn will surely come as long as India keeps growing. About external investments…we dont have a choice…its atleast better than borrowing money from the world bank….our debts are already high enough

  2. Kha Bu says:

    The vital point here is how accessible is education for ordinary people in India. And are there enough investing/spending on infrastructures in India. Its these two areas where China looks much more promising. As of now it looks like the bottom economic quarter population in India will have no access to good education. Without massive investment in infrastructures like road, trains, metros, fiber optics networks, India just wont have enough arteries and veins to make up a developed economy. Massive government spending in infrastructure will create jobs for the poor and help the rich get richer and good, affordable education to all will make sure people are upward mobile in the economic ladder.
    Peace

  3. medha ashtekar says:

    I work with Private equity investor: and as I see it in Real estate sector that “No builder will just build high value building unless there is end user demand for it”…with 54% population of India below age group 25 and as well easy availabilty of job(albeit in sectors like BPO, IT which are not so well paying jobs, but they definitely help people to live above poverty line). There is large expansion of middle class. Jobs are available for our graduates, which was not a case 15-20 years back. I think growth is reaching to masses now. even small farmers sell land for 1-2 crores per acre and venture into other lines with backing of this maney. Couple of years back same farmers used to depend on maonsoon arrival to feed themselves. there could be more no. of beggers on the streets of metro cities but how many of them are begging because it is an easy way to earn livelihood needs thorogh research. But I see India’s growth is reaching to masses.
    medha

  4. … Leads us to a higher question: Isn’t everything up for sale? Aren’t we at the heart of the Marketplace caught in the economics of things, and living.

  5. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    It’s 12 am in Hyderabad and I just fought with a Relience Web World guy to allow me into the internet cafe after 10pm (he agreed after I promised to to buy him coffe at the attached coffee shop java green next morning)
    I am a big proponent of capitalism and always try to see things from the perspective of the person who has made the money after taking big risks and living a risky and adventurous life rather than from the side of those who haven’t. I saluate the the rich of India who have had vision, taken risks, planned their corporations and achived great wealth and they need to have no guilt.
    Will write in detail tommorow and also have to tell a great tale of co-incidences that Shekhar would love(it relates to him). India is a stable country and when the entire middle class will grow the entire country will grow and that will give us immense power at the global level, but the captains of the industry are the ones that give millions of jobs to the middle class and initiate the chain reaction of wealth creation that goes far and wide. India is at a amzing stage with a solid foundation and I know in 10-15 yrs we’ll the world’s envy.
    I wish all of us a great future,
    Himanshu – Hyd

  6. Dash says:

    I cannot speak for everyone or don’t have any statistical numbers to share, so just sharing my personal opinion here.
    Being someone from one of the remote villages in one of the poorest states (Orissa), I have seen the positive effects of the upward moving economy in my native place. There is a general sense of optimism in everyone I talk to, and there is more money for people to use. 10 years back many young folks in the area did not have job and were helpless as their education did not have any value whatsoever. Things have changed since then and almost everyone with decent education make enough living (mostly in cities). Since many young folks are leaving the villages, the ones left behind have more land to farm and get enough even from farming as well.
    Mainly the ones who are suffering are the middle aged people who struggled hard to get low paying govt. jobs (well below their qualification), but are not old enough for their kids to get “new economy” jobs and help them financially.

  7. James Bond 003 (New one) says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    I dreamt of a brilliant story yesterday,
    The story is like this :
    A boy calls a friend of his and a girl calls a friend of hers there is a cross connection and the boy connects to girl (may be something got to do with ongoing spectrum issues).
    Day 1
    Then the girl likes the boy and they decide to meet.
    Day 2
    Now love starts ….
    Day 3 – Girl dumps the boy for a new one (again cross connection).
    The story goes on and finally she gets married @ age 40 , blessed with 2 children.
    I think this story can work , we can add some Item numbers in gaps (every 9 mins- 9 is my lucky no.).
    What do u think ?

  8. Vishal says:

    I do not think that there is a great trickle down effect. Even if there is, it will never make an average citizen of India having same quality of life
    as an average citizen of any developed nation for some good time. The villain is and will be for great time the Indian Government and the one who wants to create the trickle. It does not matter which party comes, Indian
    Government will never allow the trickle to happen in
    a proper way just by not doing any work.
    I do not think the quality of life will improve or there will be more happiness. I today enjoy the prosperity because of the trickle but am I happy.
    I do not think so.

  9. Aditarya says:

    poor shekhar… what all things u have to live with…

  10. AV says:

    >So, which way are we going and where lies the the future of India ?
    I am no economist so I do not know which way (I hope towards light and not towards an oncoming train), but this last independence day, I was given some idea as to from where we have come. I have an aunt who is a feisty, eighty year old and who loves chatting on the phone. She rang me up this last August saying that her reason for calling was she thought it her duty to let me know what freedom means to people of her generation. She says if anyone tells you freedom has brought us nothing, do not believe them. (I think I must have said that in some moment of frustration.) She said pre-independence there was no wealth. She says there were a handful of wealthy people. She said I should hear it from people like her who has lived part of her life as it was then and is living the life as it is now. She said what do we not have now? We have everything. My aunt is representative of the middle class. So I guess trickle down in comparative terms has been there. The last bit of the conversation between my aunt and I was also interesting. I said to her (perhaps just to be a devil’s advocate) that in terms of wealth life has improved, but what about art and culture? I loved her answer. She said that for good quality art some life struggle is important. She said pre independence life was hard. Perhaps that is why the literature, music etc. was of a different quality. I agreed with her whole heartedly. I felt richer for having had this conversation with her.:)

  11. HK says:

    Patchy India towards Dr. Kalam’s 2020
    Indeed, India has a lot of patches here and there of the weakest and the wealthiest. The ‘trickle down effect’ certainly had, and probably shall, show its effect on every section of the society that’s not so affluent. I ain’t an economist, but from what I have observed I believe that the living standard of the majority of Indian population has improved in the recent future, and in many terms, we are on the road to become the envy of the neighbors.
    But, the question still remains where is India heading to? Would we be content to simply see a tortoise-paced rise in the living standard of the country? Or do we really want it to become a country that’s developed in every sense of the word?
    In his 2003 speech, Dr. Kalam pointed towards the possibility of the country’s becoming a developed nation by 2020. What sort of a developed nation are we expecting? We have nuclear power, economic growth, good opportunities for higher education, a big market for high paying jobs, a considerably good medical system (above all for the well to do), a cyber city, a space exploration community… Yet, there’s something missing or pulling the country back from creating a place for itself as a strong and powerful nation at the international level.
    Sometimes I wonder whether we are still working for the outsiders, though we are making money this time… I might be wrong… but when talking about the well paying call centers and MNCs, we are not getting much out of the job except money (though which is important and can’t be ignored)… but at the same time, the human power which could have been used for the country is again being extensively used for people abroad… is it again a brain drain of a new kind?
    I guess the scene would be more hopeful if we have more of desi big boys and players.
    HK

  12. Navin says:

    India is not a piece of cake which can be sold. It is a myth to always blame the rich for the plight of the poor. For instance, it is easy for anti-capitalists to blame Mukesh Ambani (who very recently became the wealthiest man in the world for a brief period) for sucking the blood out of the poor in India. But has anyone thought that he might be responsible for removing poverty from the homes of numerous employees that work in his group companies? Has anyone thought how much wealth he has generated for the shareholders in his company, many of whom are very small investors?
    True, that there is a growing disparity between the very rich and the very poor in India. But the blame for that should squarely rest with the short-sighted/insensitive policies of the ruling government. A clear political will should be there to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Let’s hope that the next government which comes into power after next year’s general elections will be more sensitive towards the needs of the poor.
    Cheers!
    Navin

  13. AV says:

    >I guess the scene would be more hopeful if we have more of desi big boys and players.
    I wonder whether desi big boys and players are any better than the others? Human selfishness does not care for boundaries. Pockets don’t care for colour of the filler. They care just to be filled. To fill them the methods used are prompted by human character, and human character has no colour. Only human skin does. A bad egg is a bad egg no matter which coloured chicken on which side of the boundary it pops out of.
    Of course not all big boys, desi or otherwise, are “bad eggs”, but then aren’t “good eggs” also are independent of colour and boundary, and isn’t life is just too complex to fit into neatly defined packages?
    >What sort of a developed nation are we expecting?
    My personal expectation would be to see the return of old fashioned art that aims only to create a record of human life and character; and does not aim for anything else; an art that is not arm twisted.

  14. HK says:

    Agreed, a rotten egg could be a lot worse than any swadesi filler, and that the pocket sees only the colour of the mint.
    But, when talking about the country as a whole, we do need to think who is buying India and what portion of it. Though we are far ahead from our ancestors who let India become a slave and any such possibility of the country becoming one seems to be a far fetched notion, yet we do need to consider the possibility of becoming the intellectual slaves of the west. I feel if things continue like the way they are, India shall also have the tag of west’s workshop, apart from being called its dumping ground.
    The government plays a major role here in creating a balance. But, with corrupt politicians and self centered leaders, we can hardly expect any turn towards a positive development. I do believe there are genuine people in the big machinery controlling the country, but still a lot of changes needed to be made.
    As far as development is concerned, no single nation can progress with simple records…. The art of development lies in creating something genuinly beneficial. At the same time as it is important that we maintain what we have, it is also crucial that we move towards becoming self sufficient in being able to create and produce not just what we are buying today, but also what we can sell to the international market.
    If you consider the ol’ time art of India, you will come to know of what wealth it has given to the country simply by way of creation.
    Regards
    HK

  15. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    A true tale that directly relates to you.
    A tale of co-incidences in a world of NO CON-INCIDENCES
    It’s Friday, the 19th of October, 2007 and I am at the Reliance cafe near my sister’s home in the Lokhandwala area. I read that Shekhar is going to have a India premiere of The Golden Age in Nov, and I’m thinking how do I get to that premiere.
    The day passes and it’s 7pm and I am sitting at the Barista in Lokhandwala, well dressed to go out on my first weekend in Mumbai after 4yrs (don’t know where to go). I call a girl I had met 5 yrs back in Juhu (we hardly keep in touch, I just had her number) and she’s very happy to hear from me. She tells me that she would have come but has already made plans for the night. She knows my tastes and suggests a place called ‘Aurus’ on the Juhu Tara road. At 7:45, I am at Aurus only to find that their outer deck (facing Juhu beach) is closed and we have to sit inside. I realize that I am too early, but I anyways have a beer. I call her again and tell her that the place is nice but empty, so she tells me to go to a place called the ‘Vie Lounge’ right next to it (also facing the sea). I land at Vie at 8:30 or so and it is still early, so I sit in the outer deck and have a nice martini. I sit there till 9:30, a bit bored. So, I call my sister that these places are cool, but I think I am early, so tell me some place that’ll be busy. She tells me that I should just go to the JW Marriott’s club ‘Engima.’
    At around 10 pm I am outside Enigma and tons of people are there. There is some big live event by a US Rapper Chamillionaire(whom I don’t know). They tell me that I need to be with a woman to get in. Somebody suggests that if I can find some single girl I can pay her cover and get in. I find one and she tells me that if her boyfriend doesn’t come in 20 min she’ll come with me. I wait. In 15 min the guy arrives and I am back to square one. I see lots of people entering with passes for the event so I think that maybe someone can give me a pass. I find another girl and we talk for 10 min and she has a pass, but not really keen on going in. I request her to sell me the pass (with which you can enter alone) and she quotes 1500 bucks. I convince her for 1000 and give her the money before she changes her mind. All this haggling and convincing takes more than an hour and at about 11:15 or so I am finally inside.
    It is quite loud and the DJ is totally excited that Chamillionaire is going to be here. I somehow sneak into a corner and sit on a long red sofa and get a beer, finally a bit relaxed. And now the surprise happens. ‘Suchitra’ comes and sits next to me on the sofa. Well, not right next to me, like 2 seats away in a theater, but no one sitting in between. She is dressed impeccably in all black and is with another lady friend of hers. My first reaction is (maybe Shekhar is also here) so I look around in the sort of dark place. I sit quietly sipping my beer, smiling to myself (thinking how amazing life is). She is hardly talking much, not even to her friend. I think she just wanted to sit in a nice place and have a few ….puffs. I think many times to initiate conversation about different things, from Shekhar to Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na, but in the end I decide that it’d be impolite to disturb her. I think all the time about Shekhar and also think about Paulo Coelho’s book ‘The Alchemist’ that I read every 3 months. That there are no co-incidences and I should take this as some great omen, and it’s so amazing that through this blog I can put the story back here.
    I hope you liked and enjoyed this totally true story, Shekhar and do have a great time at the Marrakech festival.
    Best Regards,
    Himanshu

  16. Horst Vollmann says:

    Hello Mr. Kapur,
    it was in the Fall of 1974 in Pokhara in Nepal. A large film team from India under the direction of Dev Anan was shooting the musical Ishq, Ishq. The scene was a quaint lodge in the middle of a lake and my wife and I happened to have been there on vacation. At the time I was in my early 30’s. During the few days of shooting I had become friendly with Dev Anan and some of the lovely cast and I had ruminated with a young actor about the world and the inequities of life and the fact that Ishq, Ishq was certainly not a great jumping board for an ambitious acting career. One evening we swam together in the lake and covered quite a distance.
    My wife had taken a photograph of this young actor and the longer I look at it the more I see on this young face the features of you, the famed director of “Bandit Queen” and “Elizabeth”. Back then you had given to me your address in Mumbai (c/o Vijay Anand). You may not remember this encounter but it would still be nice to hear from you. If you explain to me how to send an attachment I would scan the photo and mail it.
    Kind regards.
    Horst Vollmann

  17. nagesh says:

    Is India being sold? I think yes, for whatever little that remains. For the moment keep the rosy figures of eek-oh-no-mix aside.
    Look at the grim picture of our food reapers fall to the grim reaper. The farmers who are supposed to feed us are dying of starvation themselves, while the rest of the country is counting the GDP number.

  18. harpreet says:

    I think the moot questions are:
    Can what we know as India be really sold?
    Should we be having greater faith in the leaders(and their ‘method in madness’)that It has produced?
    Is the highest bidder going to add to India’s affluence or otherwise?
    Even during the Raj India got the benefit of millenium old scientific evolution of the west in just two centuries.
    Guys we needn’t be cynical if we can’t be outright optimistic.The rich and affluent are also part of India.If Maa Laxmi is benevolent to them we should try to understand their virtues rather than envy or blame them.

  19. Sharanagouda says:

    Hi,
    I think we are all marching towards a great truth in future. The truth of materialistic happiness.Yes there is a spiritual connotation to the material beign also.We are not being sold to anyone it is a cultural transition of India.

  20. anshuman says:

    ‘A reporter once asked a farmer to divulge the secret behind his corn, which won the state contest year after year. The farmer confessed it was all because he shared his seed with his neighnors.
    Why do you share your best seed corn with you neighbors when you’re entering the same contest each year as well asked the reporter?
    Why sir, said the farmer,dint you know The wind picks up the pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grew inferior corn, cross-pollination would steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corns, I must help my neighbor do the same.’
    And so it is with the other situations in our lives. Those who want to be successful must help their neighbors, friends, relatives to be successful.
    Those who choose to live well must help others live well, for the value of life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness.
    Call this “trickle down effect” you may, but the fact is – the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all!
    This is India shining in its truest sense!

  21. indian says:

    this is necessary….
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    After a successful corporate career overseas, he is currently dedicated himself to providing Education and Employable Skills. He also serves part time in the Territorial Army (Sikh Regiment). I believe India has to transform and if people like Sanjiv emerge as leaders, this transformation will be faster.
    Let us support him by smsing: LEAD6 to 58888 from Sat 19th Jan 8pm to Mon, 21st Jan midnight. Your vote will get him a berth in the Semi Finals. And give India a person whose work is increasing income capacities of the deprived, contributing towards reduction of crime and migration of non-skilled labour to cities.
    Sanjiv Kaura – brief profile and voting details
    B .Com (H), SRCC; CA from Pricewaterhouse+Coopers; Masters in Public Administration, Harvard University.
    Sanjiv began his corporate career with ICI plc based in southern part of Africa. At 28, he was one of the youngest CEOs in the ICI world. He returned to India in 1998. To understand India better, he cycled from Kalka to Kanyakumari. He also led a education movement across 26,500 villages in 15 states enabling education to become a Constitutional fundamental right.
    Currently he has developed an education and employable skills building model in 2 districts in Delhi and Himachal. Also serves part time as a Lieutenant in the Territorial Army (124 Sikh Regiment) at National Stadium. In 2001, Times of India adjudged him as one of the 13 future leaders of India. In 2005 he won the Best All Round student award at Harvard.
    VOTING DETAILS: Please cast your vote by sending the foll sms: LEAD6 to 58888 from Sat 8pm to Monday midnight. Pl. note there is a space between LEAD and 6.
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  26. Arnab says:

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  29. p sidhu says:

    First of all I am a Canadian born Indian who has spent alot of time in India. Before I ever went to India my opininion of Indian people was based on my interactions with Indians living in Canada, both Canadian born and Indian born. What I had come to realize about our people is that they will do just about anthing to make a buck regardless of the morality behind their actions as long as they can get away with it. Before I had ever gone to India my beliefs about the country were based soley on the 1960`s to 1980`s bollywood movies that I grew up with, not to mention my parents stories about the India that they grew up in. So I always assumed that Indians from India were honourable and moral people. My first trip to India shattered this illusion quickly. A country were it almost impossible to get Government service without paying some sort of bribe. The people have a massive inferiority complex to the white race and have forgotten who they are. The vast majority want to be western and are throwing away their culture. Getting to the point, the country has always been divided and the caste system doesn`t help. Indians believe that some are better than others and so naturally assume that it is right for some to have so much while others have nothing. The country was sold long ago. It is overpopulated and may of its poor will simply die out as food is running out due to depletion of the ocean life and water shortages in the near future. Some of the money will trickle down, but not much. The poor will simply die out. Sad, but true. The rich and middle class will survive along with a smaller poor population that will function to serve the middle class and elite.

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  31. Ravi KUmar says:

    It is shame on u r part not to comment on indian economy i.e. India being sold. It may be that u must be earning more money. Any how u directed great movies WHICH HELPED INDIA IN ALL ASPECTS…
    May god be with u always for u r courgarious and sincere efforts
    Ravi Kumar B.V.
    Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh

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