India, A Country Of Thieves?

42 comments Written on September 9th, 2012 by
Categories: General

A recent article by John Hempton tells us that China is a Kleptocracy:

China is a kleptocracy. Get used to it.
I start this analysis with China being a kleptocracy – a country ruled by thieves. That is a bold assertion – but I am going to have to assert it. People I know deep in the weeds (that is people who have to deal with the PRC and the children of the PRC elite) accept it. My personal experience is more limited but includes the following:
(a). The children and relatives of CPC Central Committee members are amongst the beneficiaries of the wave of stock fraud in the US,
(b). The response to the wave of stock fraud in the US and Hong Kong has not been to crack down on the perpetrators of the stock fraud (so to make markets work better). It has been tomake Chinese statutory accounts less available to make it harder to detect stock fraud.

If this is the yardstick, India's a kleptocracy too. And I speak of the recent scams:

  • 2G
  • Commonwealth Games
  • Power projects scam
  • Bellary Mines
  • Coal Mining
  • and many more

In all the above, the scam has been that a public resource has been squandered away at low prices to benefit a few, possibly in exchange for big bribes.

Apart from this, they have looted our money to keep the deserves-to-die-yesterday Air India alive. The beneficiaries of these scams are politicians or bureaucrats, with some large companies having political links getting some of the pie.

Some smart people have realized the scale of the fraud and exposed many, with a lot more to come, I'm sure. The government is not keen to punish offenders; the self-confessed perpetrator of the Satyam Scam hasn't even been charged yet (while they have sentenced Bo Xilai's wife already in China).

That we are ruled by thieves is obvious to any observer. But I place before you a greater truth - that we are a country of thieves.

No, really. We complain about black money but won't stand up and refuse to pay for our houses in "cash" (or get paid as such). We talk about bad or crumbling infrastructure, but will happily dump our garbare out of cars, on roads, or the footpath - anywhere that's not in our back yards. We will give money to temples and religious activities like Ganesha and Diwali and what not, and not even a tenth of that to other charitable causes, anywhere from educating the poor to cancer research. We happily pirate books, software, videos. We don't think twice before we double-bill foreigners for software services, or loot them when they buy from our shops. We turn to rioting when our demands are not met, and are happy to get reservation for our caste at the expense of, well, someone else. We steal, and then we complain that someone stole from us.

I used to think that this is an exception. That people truly are nice, but they sometimes go wayward. I've come to realize I now assume the exact opposite. Nearly every purchasing department requires "feeding" to get your money or to get a contract. Tenders are created to benefit certain companies and disqualify competitors. Bankers push terrible products to people, and then demand bailouts and NPA easing. Borrowers falsify documents to get loans. To get jobs, otherwise sane people fake degrees and experience. The traffic in any large city tells you that people care for no one other than themselves. We'll park on pavements, park in spaces reserved for ambulances, and honk at pedestrians for trying to - heaven forbid - cross the street. We won't pay the tiny municipal taxes on property, while happily paying 10 times that much as building maintenance fees.We think nothing of faking medical receipts for annual tax exemptions. Anything goes as long as we personally benefit, even if the cost is borne by others.

We are a country of thieves.

I'm not saying this justifies the government's behaviour. It most certainly does not.

But it's time for a deeper introspection than the refrain that we are ruled by thieves. It is us that our politicians reflect. They just used a few more zeroes. And I'll come to why that is important, later.

More from Mr. Hempton:

The other key fuel for kleptocracy is a copious supply of domestic savings to loot. The reason Chinese savings levels are so high is the one-child policy.

In most developing countries the way that people save is they have multiple children hopefully to generate a gaggle of grandchildren all of whom are trained to respect their elders. Given most people did not live to old age if you did you became a treasured (and well cared for) family member.

There's no one-child policy in India. But savings rates have gone incredibly high recently.

image

While it has come down a bit, the rise since 2005 is huge. The increasing in savings rate might not have to do with the reasons in China, but people in India do save a significant amount in non-banking ways (like Gold) for similar reasons. Yet, the fact that official savings rates are this high drives the money into the "kleptocracy" - since savings are used by the government to nurture and further its own.

The other similarities are much more. If China has had a negative savings rate, so has India. For the longest time - and I've been writing about this - inflation has remained stubbornly high. So much that even when we changed CPI measures (to a "new" CPI) we still got figures north of 10%, while bank deposit rates have been lower. (And remember, you get taxed on the interest, so the real rate is lesser)

These "negative real rates" have been used to fund the same kleptocrats as in China. Government owned companies and the crony capitalists. Look at this FirstPost Article about the Coal Scam

The case of Nav Bharat Power, one of the biggest beneficaries of the scam and one of the companies that were raided on Tuesday, is illustrative. The Times of India reports that  the company was registered in Hyderbad in December 2005 with a paid-up capital of just Rs 1 lakh. Yet, on that small capital base, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Odisha government promising to invest nearly Rs 10,000 crore in to power plants.

That MoU was signed barely a month after it had secured a 4.7 million tonnes per year coal linkage. In addition, Nav Bharat Power secured an allotment from a coal block in Odisha: the mechanics of that allocation point to the company’s extraordinary clout. Of the 108 applications received for the Odisha block, Nav Bharat Power was one of only six firms that secured allotments: all the others were biggies in the power space.

By 2009, Nav Bharat Power had been acquired by Essar Power. In its IPO prospectus in 2010, Essar listed its primary consideration in acquiring Nav Bharat Power: the expectation of access to the accompanying coal bloc allocation.” And although it is difficult to arrive at a precise valuation of the acquisition, it is believed to be in excess of Rs 120 crore.  In other words, in just over four years, a company with a Rs 1 lakh paid-up capital had leveraged its clout, cornered coal blocks for free, and sold itself over for excess of Rs 100 crore.

...

Three of the five companies that were raided on Tuesday belong to one family: the Jayaswals, based in Nagpur. The various members of the Jayaswal family empire had between them cornered 10 coal blocks, accounting for more than 900 million tonnes of coal – although they had just one project on the ground.  (More details here.)

It appears to have been able to do this owing to one tenuous political connection: one of the directors in one of the group companies was the son of Vijay Darda, the Congress MP (whose brother also serves as  a Minister in the Maharashtra government).

In the 2G scam, it was private companies paying politicians to get cheap spectrum, using intermediaries to siphon large amounts of money to the parties and individuals. Ex-Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran supposedly got 323 ISDN lines installed from his house to the Sun TV business office, using them to have his family owned TV channel transmit data. Politicians own media TV channels, newspapers and companies that directly benefit from policy. It's kleptocracy any way you look at it.

Indians can't easily invest abroad - except the thieves. This is why they buy gold instead. This is also why we buy real estate. It's about how to keep money in an asset rather than as money, which is being debased (the RBI has tripled the money supply in the last six years!).

Inflation in India helps the politicians in the same way it does China - it allows the government to continue to finance their companies and cronies at a negative real rate, which can then be siphoned. In one scenario, if there are debt defaults by the power/coal companies, the house of cards can come falling down.

A deleveraging by banks will cut growth and cut inflation. Growth drops mean higher unemployment, and thus demands for a bailout. The overstretched government can't finance itself in a deleveraging situation, so it will either raise taxes or make ridiculous restrictions to stave off riots (but will have to provide loan waivers or such). The looting will continue, till everyone that can riot will have rioted to get what they want.

The problem in such a situation is that if we are all thieves, we won't know who to choose next. We could vote out one set of politicians, but there's another set that's probably just as bad. Because, in the end, we're all thieves. This is what I said I would refer to earlier - that because they're just reflective of us, we aren't going to find it easy to change anything unless we change ourselves. And right now, all I hear, everywhere I go, is that the problem lies with "them".

But it's not just them, it's us.

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About the Author:
http://www.capitalmind.in
The man behind Capital Mind. Deepak is a co-founder at MarketVision, a financial knowledge company. Deepak also provides data research and consulting services, and now lives in Bangalore. Connect with him at deepakshenoy@gmail.com.

42 comments “India, A Country Of Thieves?”

Somewhere I get a sense unless I myself come and do something positive, nothing is going to change. No one can do better than my efforts and initiative.

Well said.

Very well said, add farmers asking for loan waiver even though they can pay,free electricity for farming, subsidized LPG for well off people, not declaring rental income for IT returns, asking money as black while selling property, unwillingness to pay in accidents even though it is his fault , burning public property for anything and everything …

Very true Deepak. The more I think on this issue, the more I am convinced that we have the politicians we deserve. And that is not going to change. Most people of India understand this and they are focusing on themselves rather than the govt. in the same vein as Warren Buffet tells us to focus on the micro and ignore the macro.
The best we can hope for is less government everywhere.

Yatha Praja thatha Raja

Chennagi helidri Praveen.

Wonderfully TRUE-it is not only with India but with most of the developing countries of the world-we are all thieves- i had written similar articles in Nepali but the actor was “I ” in my article but was a reflection of the bureaucracy at large!
Deepak it is a good readable piece for all

Wimps, all of you, wimps! All of you end up with the conclusion that you deserve this? Great, if you think so, then you all certainly do.

Interesting read.

In fact, it promptd an instrospection (and a rationalisation too).

It is true that, given a chance (and a reassurance that one is not caught), one tends to cheat. Not sure if it is humana nature.

For some there is a disticnction between the cheating which is done for basic needs and cheating for greed’s sake. I too agree with the same. However, when one grows up with the first, it will be difficult for midway course correction. This is not a justification for a behaviour, but am trying to reason. I think that a large percentage of people in india fall in this category.

As regards others who do it for abnormal(this usage is funny as normal is subjective) gains, others feel that they are cheating.

As they say and indican constitution agrees, one is innocent, till proven guilty.

Slippery slope mate. Cheating for “basic needs” evolves into cheating for greed’s sake. The guys who fake medical receipts to save tax are greedy pig cheats, not basic need cheats. But they will argue otherwise.

True.

However, i am referring to a phenomenon. A person, not well to do off, tries some short cuts which are basically(initially atleast) for survival. How they evolve will be subjective. Point to note here is about 50-60% in our country are in that bracket.

To counter this, we can only hope for 50% of next generation be Gandhi’s.

I agree — if you’ve grown up in an environment where it’s basically OK to cheat for small things or basic necessities, you will go on to bigger and better cheating.

In a country of our (and China’s, and to some extent the USA’s) size, I blame scale and this totally arbitrary thing I came up with called Give A Shit capital, or GAS Capital.

Being brought up in hyper-competitive and crowded environments dilutes a person’s GAS capital, which is a finite resource, and pretty soon that person is chiselling away at social contracts like waiting their turn, or being polite, or basic civic manners.

I’ve rambled on about this a bit more here: http://shrik.theswamp.in/2013/07/why-people-think-what-they-think-and-do.html

Very well written Deepak, the question thats relevant although is how to invest in this kind of environment? Is it real estate or gold as you mentioned most of the people do? the stocks arent cheap enough now considering all these risks.
One more question for you, where do you get the data about rbi tripling the money supply? it would be a great help if you can help me understand

The India versus China bit :

1. India is a democracy. It does not have a ponzi / mafia “single” political party which focuses on looting the nation. Check out the number of billionaires in the Communist Party of China. They beat US and Indian politicians.
2. Patents are relatively much safer in India.
3. The press is free and vibrant.
4. There is no “mad” overcapacity in anything like empty/ ghost buildings/ cities and the like.
5. The Indian judiciary is slow but generally very fair.
6. India does not have problems associated with the one child policy.
7. Air pollution in Indian cities is probably lower.
8. Most importantly- the fundamentals of the Indian economy in few ways are better than the Chinese.
9. India does not control its currency artificially.
10. There are fewer Indians trying to run out of India than Chinese trying to run out of China. Infact most Indians can take foreign currency outside the country upto a limit. But few Indians do it. Most Chinese will smuggle their moneys out buying fancy properties in Mayfair/ Kensington in London.

India has a long way to go….. inspite of the government (if you know what I mean).
If I have to bet on 3 countries in the world, the US is still number one ! But India is number 2 ! F#@k China. I can’t figure a third country at this moment !
Betting off India is a big mistake. If you take this negative load, you will get a hernia.

You propose exactly who is clean?
Is John Corzine of Man Financial (MF) a saint? He funds Obama. What did we think MF stood for ?

Did Peregrine not play with client money? Anyone in jail so far ?

Did REFCO not go bankrupt ? I think they were accused by an British of Indian origin stealing money from his account. And he won in court. They certainly lost my money. They lost it. Not me.

Did Standard Chartered not say F U to the Fed (Iranian money laundering) till they said “loose your licence or pay up”. So the guys bribed the Fed !

Do you know where does the American defence budget go? In whose pocket? Who funds the elections ?

Why no investment banker goes to jail in US other then Sri Lankans and Indians?

How come Goldman Sachs was given clean chit by the US govt after shorting the securities they were peddling to pensions funds for old people? How much do they fund the elections?

What was Barclays doing with LIBOR?

Why did the previous British PM, Tony Blair, get funding from Mittals ?

Where did the Swiss get their wealth from? Today where is Singapore getting its wealth from? What is the source of funds in their banks today?

Get positive. Bet on India. The temporary hiccups will continue even in the future. But we will beat all this negativity in the long run. Most of us all are part of the system. We all abuse the system. Now do your bit. Go vote. Be honest. Be positive.

Aren’t you an effing ray of sunshine.

I’ll make a guess that you don’t live in India, do you?

Its just a matter of negativity, is it? 300 million illiterate people, similar number of people below the poverty line will be glad to know that. Would you care to explain, how we will beat this “negativity” without doing something about it, and without talking about it? You do realize that only when severe criticism happens, do we Indians take some action, right? The economy was opened up in 1992 not because of some inherent positivity among Indians, but because of external pressures and economic crisis, you do realize that, don’t you?

As an Indian doctor told me once, we have a cultural problem. We rely on hope, not actions. That was in the context of health-related decisions, but its true about everything. Its true that most problems resolve themselves, but that is no basis for good decision-making.

Many million people will die, then the govt will wake up and do something, someone or some company will make a lot of money and you will then celebrate that India is shining. That’s pretty sick! You want to compare fundamentals, please compare education indices, health and human development indices, business conditions indices, etc. We lag badly in all of those. We rank 130/180 and 80/200 in two international reports on press freedom, so you are wrong that our press is free. We have declined approx 10 positions in the last year. Unless we shout and make a noise about this, no improvement will happen.

In India, you wouldn’t even know who is funding whom, because as a ToI report said yesterday, 90% of Congress funding and 80% of BJP funding is anonymous. And, a lot of payments are made in cash, so they cannot be traced. You do realize that crony businessmen in India “fund” politicians, do you not? Take all those examples you are giving us, adjust them by GDP size, then raise them to some power and you’ll get India. And, 50% of those guilty might go to jail in other countries, and the rest will be socially castigated. In India maybe 5% of them will go to jail, that too after 20 years of living a normal life, when they themselves have given up and are on their death-bed.

“Why no investment banker goes to jail in US other then Sri Lankans and Indians?”
a) Those Indians/Sri Lankans were not investment bankers but hedge fundies, or tech people or board members.
b) Those were not Indians/Sri Lankans but US citizens.
c) Preet Bharara has sent 60+ people to jail on insider trading. Only the Indians try to see bias where there is none. That is partly why India is so corrupt, because we give a clean chit to anyone from our community/family irrespective of guilt, which is sick.
d) Preet’s focus is on insider trading. His focus is not on investment banking or the financial crisis.

You have 4 errors in one sentence. I won’t even talk about the others. Please understand the events before you go ranting about them. And, please have some absolute sense of morality, not relative to other countries.

Hey Phoenix, you just got ‘nixed’! (by Vikram:)

Now, more seriously:

1. Let me tell you, the #1 Justification used by corrupt bureaucrats and politicians is: ‘All other’ people are (also) corrupt! And if they don’t steal it, someone else will. So let me do it myself.
>>Powerful argument…but totally self-serving.

2. Dear Phoenix: What if your daughter gets raped in India by a ‘powerful’ person or your son meets an accident? Would you not want justice? Can you even imagine what you’d have to go through, to get justice? or would you say, heck! this is a temporary hiccup; the powerful get away even in the US!
>>Now mate: Do you realize, it is not just about financial corruption? It is first and foremost, about JUSTICE and about a life of DIGNITY, and the outrage you see among common people in India is actually less about ponzi schemes or taxes or inflation.

3. The comps with US and China you presented don’t mean much, because in my country, there are over 400mn people living in abject poverty, 400mn living a hand to mouth existence and 400mn living a decent middle class life (but without much dignity or justice or real empowerment). The rest 50mn are living like KINGS, lording over 1.2billion SERFS.

4. The biggest government failure is reflected in our large-scale poverty even after 65 years of independence. Even for middle class and well-off people, the existence of such appalling large scale poverty, is probably the ONLY moral dimension to any conspicuous consumption.

5. Like you, I will also have a casual view of corruption, once India becomes a US$40K per capita economy. Ok? But let me get there first…

This is a great write-up by Deepak Shenoy. The change has to start in our hearts and in our minds, and each one of us has to accept and honor our responsibility as Citizens.

I follow the ‘deserve before you desire’ rule. It helps

Have a question?
How does higher savings rate drive corruption in India? As per author of Bronte Capital it drives corruption in china because:
Most Chinese savings however are not invested in see-through apartment buildings. Bank deposits still dominate. The Chinese banks are the finest deposit franchises in human history. They can borrow huge amounts at ex-ante negative real returns.

And those deposits are mostly lent to State Owned enterprises.

The SOEs are the center of the Chinese kleptocracy. If you manage your way up the Communist Party of China and you play your politics really well may wind up senior in some State Owned Enterprise. This is your opportunity to loot on a scale unprecedented in human history

In India there are not many SOEs, but yes the banks are funding companies like Kingfischer and wavier of loans to farmers.
And yes it is furthering the Gov cause in a in-direct way, and not in a direct way, right?

Let me answer – Bank deposits dominate India’s investments as well. SOEs take a significant chunk of loans (apart from the fact that 23% of all deposits must be invested in government securities as SLR) Kingfisher is tiny; the waiver of loans is just 40K cr. which is also small. The scale of lending to government and SOEs is of the order of 75% of all bank assets (including the SLR)

Thanks, I get it now

I will also have to agree with the comment by one named “Phoenix”. It is a dog eat dog world. Every country has thieves and the advanced nations have more sophisticated thieves. They have reached a level of sophistication where they loot money without disturbing people’s lifestyle and environment, unlike here in India. The most advanced nations do the looting on other countries while their people enjoy better lifestyles. Considering those facts, India has a long way to go to reach that level of sophistication.

I don’t understand why any person thinks that any country does not have bad companies or bad people. We are all the same human beings in every country, no? And, yes, there are imperialist countries running their agenda in other countries, but do you think they would be able to do anything in another country without that country allowing it? Please blame the main entity responsible. If an entity does not take its destiny in its hands, others will take it up for them, that’s true for individuals, companies, countries, etc.

Absolutely agree, it’s us. As per Gandhi, “You be the change you want to see in the world” !

And we make everybody lazy by giving free shelter, rice, current, mixie, grinder, fridge, fan, TV, what not.. then why would they work?

Agree with your thoughts but I have a different perspective too..one that I chose to write about on my blog here – http://exploreamaze.wordpress.com/

I think this is partly true but i can think of many nations that has experienced/ experiencing crony capitalism. China – as your article mentions, South Korea, Indonesia, Middle East, Europe for most decades especially Italy and United Kingdom and of course, United States and most of South America.

Now the average person in each of these countries lives a bad life than the average Indian.

I have read couple of things that also that countries that have high levels of corruption in fact do better. It is a fact of life, there are two types of corruptions – speed money and collusive.

I dont think there is anything wrong with speed money except for the ethical argument.

Also, i don’t think India is a country of thieves, neither is any other country. People do what they have to do. Most people in India live an honest life and do little wrong. Indians probably know what dharma means more than any other culture. Could there be any other reason why there has not been a 1789 in India?

lives a better* life than the average Indian.

Apologies

Vikram,
I have lived in India for 20 consecutive years. I had been an NRI for 10 years. Almost my entire family lives abroad today. I have been on the Boards of companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ.

I understand your points. I agree with most of them ofcourse. I myself have stated that the courts are slow. I too have stated about the headaches of election funding.

An American citizenship does not mean that the local courts care for you. Try living in some of the countries abroad if you have a particular religion, name or headgear. They can shoot you for it. You know it. The courts are made of men. Like us. You are right on Preet Bharara. You may please also comment on the other American names I have written about. Why are they not behind bars? By mentioning ‘IB’, I indicated some buy side examples as some reader so not differentiate the nuances. Are you saying that everyone in US is clean? Is that your belief?

1992, as you stated correctly, happened because of external pressure. We acted then, right? Have we not come a long way ?
“We rely on hope, not actions”. My last comments are on actions. I am not talking about ‘hope’ really. Actions will happen. Our actions. The process will take our entire lives. Maybe 2 lives. But I believe that we stand a better chance than others. Having been an NRI, I am obviously more critical than this article on India. I have the same frustrations stated by you.

My point is about ‘not to be negative from an investment point of view’. Which means I believe the economic cycle will eventually turn and give some investment opportunities to us. If you remain negative like in 1993 (post Harshad Mehta crash) , 1995 (post US interest rate hikes?), 1997 (Asian Contagion), 2001 (WTC attack) and the recent 2009 crash then you might miss the goodies which came subsequently. I do not want the readers of these blogs to miss those money making opportunities. Thats all. Is that a crime ? What do you think negative investors did when the market kept breaking records for years?

You have stated that I have given a ‘rant’. But we all have a right to an opinion – even a positive one. And one should not call a positive opinion a rant. I encourage you to look at the longer story.

I have been down that road of negativity before. And this is what I have learnt……it does not pay a dime to be negative in this business (of investments). Good luck.

“if you have a particular religion, name or headgear. They can shoot you for it. You know it.”
And, if you are from Assam, north Indians will rape or shoot you for it. If you are Maoist, our govt will shoot you for it. If you are Bihari, Marathis will shoot you for it. If you are Muslim, Sanghis will shoot you for it. If you are a foreigner trekking the himalayas, you will get raped and murdered and never tracked down by police. You won’t see these cases, because they are on the other side of racism as you. What’s your point? Bad people and racism exist everywhere.

“The courts are made of men. Like us.”
Indeed, and the point was?

“Are you saying that everyone in US is clean? Is that your belief?”
Why would I say that. That would be dumb. Just in the other comment, I asked why people think that bad things should not happen in the US? They are human beings like everyone else, with the same flaws, why do we expect better? As someone else said, we would be happy to have the problems in the US, if our average (or rather median) person was in the same shoes as the median person in the US (or some other developed country).

“We acted then, right?”
Did we have an option?

“Have we not come a long way ?”
Every country has come a long way since 1991. We haven’t come as far as we should have, given the really low base we are starting from. And, we shouldn’t compare the growth rates of a baby with a middle-aged person.

“The process will take our entire lives. Maybe 2 lives.”
Precisely! The frustration is that it has to take that long. Doesn’t that suck for 1.2 billion people alive right now? Biggest tragedy on the planet.

“I do not want the readers of these blogs to miss those money making opportunities. Thats all. Is that a crime ? What do you think negative investors did when the market kept breaking records for years?”
I agree with you here. Some may not differentiate aggressive denouncing of governance vs stock market performance. I’m long stocks myself since 4800 Nifty levels. I’m long Coal India, which has been one of the better large caps, even though I know it is a stupid PSU representative of all the ills I spoke of. But, the way I see it, the more we talk and resolve the negative issues, at least within the limits of what every individual can do, we lay the basis for a better country, one tiny bit by bit. The more people and govt recognize problems and take ownership, I will likely increase my stock allocation. When they are blind and ignoring “negativity”, I will run away from stocks. But, you did not make that argument directly, instead making irrelevant (and may I say incorrect) comparisons between countries, etc. You are partially right with your investment-related conclusions, but I don’t agree with your reasons for it.

“And one should not call a positive opinion a rant.”
I disagree. What does positive or negative have to do with being a rant? But, I’ll apologize for calling it a rant, nonetheless…

“it does not pay a dime to be negative in this business (of investments). ”
I don’t agree with that… but more so with the way you are framing the issue, than the conclusion itself.

Phoenix: I read your 1st comment and this one. And whatever transpired in between. You are right when you say ‘be positive’. I would encourage people like you, who are in US and other countries, to come back to India and be the change agent. Help our country, socially, economically, politically, morally, academically, professionally … ally … ally …

When Pankay Udhas sang ‘Chithi Aayi Hai’ I heard many NRI’s came back for the interest of their nation. I don’t sing well, neither I can write good lyrics. Otherwise I would have done Part II of what Pankaj did few years ago.

India needs more intellectual people: doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, statisticians, visionaries etc. etc. We need you more than other countries do. Help the nation. 65 years of freedom has been no better than British colonial rule, to say the least. The loot is still on. If more people like you leave this country to lead better lives and develop state/countries other than your own, we will never become a dependable responsible superpower. If we are successful with the reverse-migration we will see the transformation happening in this life itself and then proudly say (to our (grand) children’s), we did it, for you … !!

Lastly, you are right when you say we should be an action-oriented economy. With the current state of affairs we are way far from that. Help India write it’s balance sheet Y-o-Y. Let’s show people the real growth – the progress – the way it works in professional companies. It is a shame when people start talking about India as ‘Country of Thieves’. Though true to an extent, it hurts.

I read your 1st comment and this one. And whatever transpired in between. You are right when you say ‘be positive’. I would encourage people like you, who are in US and other countries, to come back to India and be the change agent. Help our country, socially, economically, politically, morally, academically, professionally … ally … ally …

When Pankay Udhas sang ‘Chithi Aayi Hai’ I heard many NRI’s came back for the interest of their nation. I don’t sing well, neither I can write good lyrics. Otherwise I would have done Part II of what Pankaj did few years ago.

India needs more intellectual people: doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, statisticians, visionaries etc. etc. We need you more than other countries do. Help the nation. 65 years of freedom has been no better than British colonial rule, to say the least. The loot is still on. If more people like you leave this country to lead better lives and develop state/countries other than your own, we will never become a dependable responsible superpower. If we are successful with the reverse-migration we will see the transformation happening in this life itself and then proudly say (to our (grand) children’s), we did it, for you … !!

Lastly, you are right when you say we should be an action-oriented economy. With the current state of affairs we are way far from that. Help India write it’s balance sheet Y-o-Y. Let’s show people the real growth – the progress – the way it works in professional companies. It is a shame when people start talking about India as ‘Country of Thieves’. Though true to an extent, it hurts.

Great to see some really bright and passionate people comment on this topic. Otherwise, most people in India tend to agree with the pandering by foreigners who want to get good ROI; or they object strongly – often taking things too personally – to any criticism from any foreigner or NRI. This article hits the nail on the head. The more people think about it and understand the small changes in their attitude and behavior that they need to make, the better for the country. The changes of the past 20 years have taken the country back 120 years, but gave bigger opportunities to a few to raid the riches the country had to offer. Unfortunately the current generation is learning only from these throw-backs and wasting away. Feel bad for them. Hopefully the future generations will see through the mistakes and learn from the current times – from what would be their history.

I am a retired person in chennai and need certificates from state level ( birth certificate for example ).
the autorickshaw driver fleeces you and you pay Rs 150/ to go to the muncipal office.I have two options-be honest to the core and keep going up and down till I get it. or pay him something and get the job done.I save time , money and energy at my old age. Forget your micro,macro, agro economics and degrees from Harvard, M.I.T, ,Stanford etc – they helped the stock market crash in U.S -that certainly is not a crime- it happened !!! Each one is interested in himself and only because of strict laws. men are disciplned -like in the US .

I will close my comments with this quote of Warren Buffett for whoever can understand, ““Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful “. Try calling him a rant or muddle headed.

In January 2010, somebody blogged on this website about the onion price rise (Deepak may recall) and how it will lead to tears for all- serious inflation across several foods going ahead. That guy read the market well. I bet he was selling then. Nobody complained then about negative India at market peak. But that chap alone was fearful at market peak. I have a fair clue what is he doing now.

It is never about the ego for investors. He fights no one other than his own mind, his own swinging moods. And his PnL gives him the final answer.

Errata: Jan 2010 should be read as Jan 2011.

Thanks for the anguish that is being expressed, all the concernfor the country is welcome.
Deepak, it reminds me of a book I read long time back. THE ATLAS SHRUGGED by AYN RAND. But where is Jon Galt?
Of late , another reference I believe is appropriate, to mention, The legendary NEELKANTH , the saviour of the Meluhan Immortals is not even present.
As someone said, we are living on hope. Expecting someone else to do the tricks for us.
Either the way, your dream of a UTOPIA seems to be far fetched. We are all guilty of our past sins, be it tax evasion or intentionally or reluctantly giving bribes, but it is this guilt, the majority of those 50 million RICH are using to go above hand. What happens if either you are me to become one of THEM, is left to our conscience.
Your article seems to make us a bit introspective, but at the same time, it also highlighted the LARGER problem.
Good One.

can we do anything apart from this discussion threads?

Corruption is everywhere in Indian companies. For example, if you are a supplier to BATA – India, you should be prepared to pay bribe to buyers, which they say is demanded by top level. If you supply anything to Bata India, you should be prepared to bribe. Bribing is a part of life. Corrupt companies alike Bata are the national pride today!

I’m bothered by something to the extent that I’m going to comment on it everywhere, where relevant!

It was amusing to see in the news: “The Union cabinet has approved an accord with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to nearly quadruple airline seats between the two countries over three years.”

What the… ? Does no one find it ridiculous that the govt decides how many seats are going to be available between two countries? Does it do this for every country? I was making fun of Chidambaram’s trips abroad last year as his attempt to find new, foreign bakras to invest in India, since no one in India is investing. It seems this is one example where they found a willing bakra, although UAE likely isn’t naive.

But, this raises all sorts of questions. What is the likelihood that UAE did not bribe someone in govt for this? Surely close to zero?

I don’t understand why the govt sits and approves individual deals. It is a recipe for corruption. Why don’t they set policy and then stand back and let the markets work? Of course we know why, but how is it going to change?

The hope has been that with the exposure of the scandals of the last few years, governance will change for the better. This example shows that there is no chance of that? Will the media attack this way of governance. Likely not, in which case, who will?

DJ: intercountry landing rights are decided at the country level, unfortunately. Supposedly the UAE deal was a quiet payback for them losing their investment in the 2G scam related scrapping of licences.

Media has raised this issue, but apparently no one cares…

Hmm.. I guess it makes sense for the landing rights. I guess I didn’t think it through. It felt very odd at first glance. Oh well, just another opportunity for corruption nonetheless.

As the article states: “The accord has been criticized by opposition politicians who said it favoured Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, which in April agreed to buy a 24% stake in Jet Airways (India) Ltd by paying nearly one-third higher than Jet’s stock price.”

Quid pro quos and all…

ok, but even if landing rights are decided at the country level, there has to be some transparent way of doing it? Some minimum norms of competition, fairness across routes, etc have to be satisfied. I guess dept of aviation may or may not have followed norms, one would have to look into it. I’m sure though there is more discretion here than needs to be.


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