We have been a lucky generation. We started our career in 1992 when the engine of growth just started revving up. But for a small blip post the Lehman crisis its been great sailing with strong tailwinds for most people of our generation.
However the sea of negativity that has been all pervading and accelerating over the last few years is now getting us deeply worried. And I am sharing some of my concerns.
Match winners lose in the last over
I would rate Narasimha Rao as one of the finest PM’s India has produced. The man pulled the economy from deep crisis and set the road for a 20 year bull cycle in India – credit may have gone to Manmohan but PVN was the anchor – he was indeed the shrewd Chanakya of indian politics – he lost his next election.
Atal Behari Vajpaye was the darling of the educated urban – the India Shining Campaign , Golden Quadrilateral project , fast decision making, clean governance, brilliant foreign policy – he gave hope to millions – markets were booming , economy was on fire , the feel good factor was all pervading and thousands came back from the US in the early 2000’s – sadly Atalji and BJP lost the next election. I always felt that if Atalji & Advaniji had got 3 back to back terms they would have changed the face of this country – but that was not to be.
Closer home Chandrababu Naidu was the man who put Hyderabad on the global IT map. His vision and passion was evident as he worked 16 hrs days to realise his dream. Building the roads , fly overs getting Bill Gates to invest in Hyderabad – he was more of an effecient CEO than a politician. He also lost his next election.
What scares me is that UPA may win the next election by putting together a majority with multiple partners. NDTV , Times Now , CNN IBN , Facebook , TOI & HT touches a few Million people- we can cry ourselves hoarse – but things like the food security bill deliver votes. Nobody questions why a Food Minister who has been around for 10 years has done nothing about rotting food and a broken distribution system
Drive 30 min from Bangalore and nobody knows Anna Hazare & Arvind Kejriwal – thats were 80 % of India lives. The whole formulae of freebies & largesse to the poor , caste politics , minority politics is indeed a great concoction that delivers votes. Who cares about the 15 M educated Tax Paying salaried class who are great at intellectual masturbation but sadly 80 % of them dont vote.
If you messed it up so badly its a strategy – not a mistake
A booming economy cant get messed up so badly in 5 years. The growth momentum sustained UPA 1 , but all that they have done in the last 5 years seems to be calculated moves. 18 Months back Anna & Arvind Kejriwal were threatening the Parliament from Jantar Mantar. The whole country felt that finally we were at the anvil of a revolution. When was the last time you saw either of them in a TV Interview or read their interview in a paper ? They seem to be totally blocked out – How I wonder ?
Is there fear amongst the powerful ruling class – many of who are descendants of erstwhile Maharajas that the educated middle class like Arvind Kejriwal can upset their party. Some time back a very famous CM of Bihar had said – as long as people are poor and hungry its easy to brainwash them and get their votes. Educated people with the power of RTI can be threatening. So its better to keep the people poor and hungry. And for that you need to get the economy on the slow track. Stop investments , block FDI with retrospective Tax , complicate transactions , build infrastructure at snail pace, outsource everything for a price – what happens the factories get built in Thailand , Vietnam , Cambodia and even Bangladesh. We just become a country of Traders. But then that serves the purpose of the 10000 rich families that probably control 80 % of the wealth in India. Remember the biggest protest against liberalisation came from the Bombay Club !
As we live in a bubble economy ( Tanker Water , Generator , Private Security , totally devoid of any Government institution help) I see a lot of worried friends . Many US citiziens who came around 2000 are heading back. Not just because of the economy but because of the state of Education and the safety of women. You are really scared if your daughter cannot walk 200 m from your building to buy a packet of milk or cycle with her friends outside the complex or take a bus / train on her own. The news paper every day reports at least one ghastly rape. Quality of education has collapsed – we still have good schools but the college’s are a disaster. Even the IIT , NIT , IIM’s are nowhere close to the standard that they had in the 80’s. A leading Medical College like Manipal has a batch size of 250 + , St Johns , AIIMS, AFMC & JIPMER probably have a batch size of 25. And people are ready to pay Crores to become a doctor from Manipal. There is no work for the 15 M Engineers & Graduates who come out of College every year. There are no good teachers. Yopu pay donation join a college and then join tuition classe. So what happens most people who can afford send their children abroad to study even for UG course. And with the $ close to 70 that makes it even more challenging. The cops dont exist for the common man and the ROI for the last 5 years has not even beaten inflation. What do you do ?
I just hope I am not getting too pessimistic and I would love someone to show me the silver lining. A friend who came home for dinner yesterday did say that we have indeed been a generation that has never seen challenges. The potholes of the last five years do look like black holes but over a 20 year period they may seem miniscule. I just hope he is right – I just hope UPA 2 does not come back to power.
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