FOMO and other phobias we suffer from

Fear has been the greatest force that evolution has unleashed, amongst all living beings and is wired deep into our brains. Despite all the advancements in humans the instant reaction to our environment, is automatically triggered in our reptilian brain, where the decision is made to fight or flee. It is only after that initial knee jerk reaction, that our logical brain takes over and analyses the situation, based on personal past experience and actual knowledge. The adrenaline surge and preparation of the body to fight or take evasive action, happens in milliseconds, and only then do the force of civilization and culture kick in. Unfortunately the truth is that we remain animals first, and only with a great effort rise to becoming humans.

FOMA or fear of missing out was just called by Bloomberg to be the driving force, behind the current and future S & P index rise to greater heights in 2018. It best describes the irrational exuberance which led to the Tulip craze, or Dot com rise, in the past, and the Bit Currency mania sweeping some up today. It is a fundamental force that takes hold of large areas of our populace, and creates an unnatural state of economic and financial bubbles, unsustainable by fundamental economics. Property and commodity booms and busts are similar in nature where by the time the ordinary investor gets in, he/she is just joining the others in the late cycle of a giant Ponzi scheme, which is bound to crash. I am not advocating we stay away from markets, but trying to make the case that they can be a potent tool, for long term human development if used correctly.

Our greatest inventions and achievements were driven by our survival instincts. Humans are inherently weak creatures and there are far hardier living species, who have survived successfully for millennia, even before the arrival of the great apes. Prometheus stealing the fire from the Gods is a great example of human fear, capturing and taming a destructive force, to aid its own survival. The evolution of tools though not unique to humans, has also been driven by fear, to overcome the adverse conditions that seem to overwhelm us, in nature. Modern cities are just an example of how fear pushed us to come together, for our common benefit. Religion and cultural norms are all a result of the paranoia and fear, which we all face when faced with complex phenomena which we cannot explain. Out of fear comes resolution and mental makeup, which helps us to not only survive but prosper in a new reality.

The Hindu sages debated for centuries on what is existence, what is reality, what is our state of knowing, what is life, what is death, what is our purpose, what is the creator, what is the culmination of desire, what is truth and finally what is reality? They distilled this wisdom in Sanskrit in the Vedic and Vedanta strutis memorized and passed down generation after generation.  While the names of the sages may be often lost, the wisdom still remains. A philosophy rose not based on the fear of the unknown, but on the myriad paths to overcome the unknowns. “Agni Miley Purohitam..” starts the first verse of the Rig Veda the oldest of the surviving strutis and talks about the taming of fire by the householder for greater good. In another example “Isa Vasayamidam Sarvam… “ The creator envelops everything and all our individual moments, are only part of the universal movement. By renouncing (the unreal) we can enjoy (the real), do not lust after another man’s possessions. In only 18 verses it lays out the relationship of the soul to our universe, and forces our eyes and mind to what is truth (eternal), and goads us to not stray into the world of untruth (transitory), which leads to fear, wrong karma (thoughts\actions)and braking of our dharma (rightful duty).

I admit it is a long way from obscure Sanskrit texts to the happenings on modern day Wall Street and the state of the human mind today. We have Fire and Fury and God on our side in multiple conflicts, and potential for far greater Fire and Fury if we stay on the current path. The Jewish, Christian, Muslim divide of the Judeo-Christian world, and the destructive Shia-Sunni divide, will not be resolved in our lifetimes. The Middle East burns and each new atrocity, fans the execution of another, more severe retaliation. The Buddhist are committing genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar, and the recent Hindu/Buddhist war in the Pearl in the Indian Ocean, is still healing. These are all the outcome of the stroking of fundamental fear amongst communities, bring out the worst in humans. Defenseless woman and children suffer the most, while men announce new victories every day.

My fear is that in the stock market or in society, if we are driven by the basest of emotions then our humanity will be lost. We have to go beyond the boom and bust of our stock markets, or the fear of an imminent nuclear Armageddon. The stock market and our society should be used to bring progress and peace to improve our health, happiness and living standards. We should harness the forces of progress to be funded and unleashed for the collective greater good, and release ourselves from our fears and phobias. We have been given a whole universe by the creator, and our petty squabbles and fears will keep us rooted to this earth, when we have a far greater future to look up to. We all have only one life to live and our end is certain. It is how we live this life that matters, and it will determine the fate of our progeny for eons to come.

When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it. -Charles de Lint, writer (b. 22 Dec 1951)

Solitude’s lifer

Marlboro Man and I were sitting next to the fire pit at the hotel in Moosic, PA. He was drinking Bud and I had Yuengling light as we sat there smoking our cigarettes, and I thought of him by his brand. I introduced myself and we got to talking. I asked him finally what he did, he looked at me with his blue eyes and denim jacket, and said he was laying a pipe. My interest peaked as we were sitting on a huge stretch of shale rock from recent geological research, where gas was just waiting to be tapped. I had read recently in Bloomberg that the new gas pipelines being built across this land, are a modern marvel. American ingenuity is at work as miles of terrain is cleared, for these new pipelines. John told me that he was indeed working on one of those pipe lines and I sat there amazed at this modern Marlboro man. He was no longer herding cattle but gas. This is the turning of the tide for these regions, as gas instead of coal is the future. Cheap shale gas will feed these giant pipelines. This in turn will make large modern cities possible, and make it possible for us humans, to enjoy a new energy boom.

We stayed over for a few weeks at the hotel and I would see him now and then, along with the rest of the crew; loading into two pickup trucks, early in the morning. They would assemble daily at the crack of dawn and would load all their gear and head out, in their work boots. They were a hard working crew and some of them would have a friendly beer at the fire pit, where the smokers and drinkers gathered in the evenings. They were carving a huge path through these mountains, blasting their way through granite rocks and other natural obstacles. The team was building the veins, of a future greening of America. Will the fracking crowd of drillers rise to be able to fill these huge demand of gas? “Hell yea, sure as the Pope is catholic,” reported Bloomberg. Modern Marlboro Man had seen the bounty of gas from the fracking boom, in his home district, and had gladly joined this band of red necks after high school.

The Petrochemical and energy field is changing fast, as the US emerges as the next generation producer. The rise of shale oil and gas is no longer considered a phenomena, but is now an accepted fact. There is boundless energy for another revolution, just waiting to be piped for human use. Three large new Petrochemical plants are being built in Huston, by foreign investors, who believe in the US and its world trade. They are counting on the supply of long term contracts for the gas they need, from the American hinterland. These pipelines being built now, will last for the next generation. The work of these teams of men would lead to a mature market, with predictable pricing, for this natural commodity. From a net importer the US is going to become, the largest exporter of oil gas and Petro Chemicals, once the new plants become operational. This is of course near the new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, from where the outflow of commodities and bulk petrochemicals made in the USA, will flood the world.

The ingenuity and planning of these teams is extremely good, as they were able to constantly overcome obstacles in their execution, of the construction design. They have an inane comradery and readiness, to try new methods, but not compromise safety, or environment standards. These pipeline will be laid and monitored and just get forgotten, not long after they are built. They will just become a part of the nation’s infrastructure like power lines or railroads, as gas becomes the energy of choice. In Lackawanna County the new power plant being built is all gas fired, and will help the county reduce its carbon footprint. They have also put up wind power but it is miniscule, when compared to the coal rich power plants. The new gas plant is designed for the future and is racing towards the pipeline completion timeline, I think. Two major projects showing a stubborn, “never say die” attitude amongst the Americans, in the forgotten interior of the America. It feels good to be back in Pennsylvania, and our Nittany Lions are headed back to the Fiesta Bowl, in this annual rites of Fall Football celebrations. .

It is strange to be in the land where oil was discovered, and witness the next shale revolution becoming mainstream. Nothing like this was even imagined just three decades ago, when I was last here. Since then Carter and the oil embargo and its disruption, changed American thinking on energy. My life has taken many turns and it is amazing that, I am back again in this land. The people here live hard lives and a brutal winter, is sure to arrive soon and Deja Vu about Mill towns dying a slow death is all around me in Scranton. They cheer on their State Team and Beaver Stadium is filled to capacity of over 106,000 for major games. The white and blue crowd bring alive the seats, as the cheerleaders goad the fans to frenzy and the lion rumbles on. There is an elemental joy in these college events, and such harmony and beauty thrilling for the beholder and a very strong community spirit here. The athletes come from such poor white Communities, throughout the state. The program makes them into great young men, who can go out and conquer the world.. The Alumni of Penn State are great givers and have kept many programs alive, for the needy around them. Will the renaissance in energy ever peter down to these people struggling in their everyday life? I am highly skeptical as the trickle down economics is going to flow sweetly through these pipes, and head right on out of here; into the giant multinational corporations, and disappear into their annual profits

John (modern marlboro man) and I saw some amazing sunsets and finished a few cases of beer, over our stay. We were alone in our thoughts most evenings, as others took the stage around the fire pit. As I have remarked some of them were great individuals, bring a color to drab evenings, with yarns of their past. This individual spirit is still alive and well in America and each one had his own tale to spin, around the gas flames in the pit. Sometimes the talk would turn to the loneliness of this existence, away from friends and family.  Then a wise crack would turn the talk to lighter moments, or spin tales of old ball games and summer joys with the family and friends. Then it was back to the lonely night in the hotel room, and the realization that I am all alone.

A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. -R.K. Narayan, novelist (10 Oct 1906-2001)

The Great Game

“The Great Game is afoot,” Sherlock would have told Dr. Watson, being a master on world power, and the ways of men. The one who controls the “Stans” controls the world, is an old saying from my childhood. The British and Russian empires fought over them in their heyday, and now Russia and the US have fought for power in Afghanistan and the other states in these regions. India’s time has come and now it is seeking its rightful place, in its own backyard and with countries it has long cultural ties. Too long did its soldiers fight for the British empire and lose its economic might, to a foreign ruler. Now it’s time to redeem itself, in economic history, has finally arrived. For the best part of the last two millennia it had the largest GDP, and was a relatively rich nation, with wealthy citizens. Now it is a poor cousin, and till recently almost broke, with few foreign reserves.

“The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) connecting Mumbai with St Petersburg and beyond – which has been 17 years in the making – is set to be operationalised from the middle of next month with the first consignment from India to Russia. India, Iran and Russia had in September 2000 signed the INSTC agreement to build a corridor to provide the shortest multi-model transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and St Petersburg. INSTC has been expanded to include 11 new members – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria and Bulgaria (as observer),” as reported in the Economic Times.

This is not a small step and its timing is strategically significant in modern history. America and Europe have traditionally controlled political and economic world trade and China has emerged as an economic power now. Russia and Iran have lost their luster and India is still shaking off its half-naked fakir image. Indian democracy is finally maturing into a nation building, efficient government. The ease of business is slowly improving, and its credit rating has also inched up. Slowly it is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and has a long runway ahead of it. Its young population is aspiring to join the world citizenship, on an equal footing. This new road to prosperity is linked to its billion people, rising out of poverty, to make a new world order. The answer is open international trade, as was learnt from the success of NAFTA in the Americas, and the EU zone’s amazing growth over the years.

This collection of faded country names and forgotten players in the international game, may be the next economic wonders. The area has enough energy and other resources to bring prosperity for the next century. With Indian industry slowly coming into its own, massive projects can now be undertaken on a global scale, multilaterally. The plans for development in these regions, can bring great productivity and human improvement. The people have suffered enough and are now ready to become part of the community of nations. Equal rights and high aspirations driven from a rising democracy, has great power, as was witnessed, in the last two world wars. Military might can only come from economic might, and nations have often bankrupted themselves, in trying to achieve the first, without the second. The path to prosperity is only through more trade and the use of the best that any human, can bring to the market. Only legal, safe, open trade can make India great again, and this is a wonderful first step. Will the people of the “stans” now rise to the their rightful future, is a mystery, that even Sherlock will have to light his pipe and ponder!

Be Free

It is Friday night and the moon is mostly full, on this not so cold, winter night. The house is empty and quiet; once I turn off the PBS serial of Masterpiece Theater, which I am watching on the HDTV. At the end of the episode I rise and think of dessert. A ripe pear yellow and blushing red from the fridge, is ever so juicy and delicious. I follow it up with a scoop of butterscotch twirled Friendly’s extra rich and smooth Vanilla ice cream. This I top with a darkly intense chocolate, with blue berries and grapes, which adds a subtle, yet deep aroma and taste. I enjoy each bite and relish every single moment and intense flavor, as it stays on my tongue. My senses of touch, smell and taste are overwhelmed with a love for life. which only I, can experience!

I am not beholden to anyone or anything and on this night, I hold my head high and think from my life force and meditate on reality.This is the supreme existence, the sages talked about, but we ignored them, in our modern urgency. We have to slow down, to speed up, as the saying goes. Soon I am so inside myself, that I explode into eternity. This moment is stitched in the space and time continuum, and I rest in peace in a turbulent universe. What if I never existed would I have had this moment, or is this moment the cause of my existence? No one answers, as everything is only me, and I make myself to be free. There are no questions, where I have arrived..

I put away the dishes and wipe the counter clean, suddenly a very content man. My life force is still strong, yet it does not have the recklessness of youth, or the doubts, of our early attempts at life. Now I am alone in my strength and all else exists for me. I do not serve anyone and nobody serves me tonight. We have become free at last in the long history of humankind, as now we have the means to be truly independent. It is sadly an independence of decadence and extravagance of modern life, and no longer the sparse, simple garb of the ancient yogis.

The week end approaches and the choices are multiplied, if one only opens a travel site and looks for deals. We can go anywhere in days and enjoy exotic food and locations, if we so wish, at a few hours’ notice. We have become slaves of our daily habits rather than the fearless travelers and nomads, we used to be. At the end of the day I would rather live alone and not serve or be served; to enjoy the proverbial, thousand years of solitude. There is a dignity in becoming self-sufficient, but not all of us achieve this. We remain mired in our desires, fanned by our senses and memories, to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  The cycle of slavery perpetuates itself in us, as we become dependent on others, for our own happiness. This co-dependency only adds to our attachments and we can never break out, and be free.

“Here lives a free man. Nobody serves him.” -Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (7 Nov 1913-1960)

Syrian peace hopes!

Mr. Putin embraced President Assad of Syria, before talking to President Trump for an hour, to come up with a peace settlement in Syria. It will be an important step in stabilizing the overly volatile Middle East, of recent memory. The whole region and North Africa, has gone through repeated wars and coups and there has been too much destruction in major cities like Raqqa and others. Millions of refugees have been created, which are a heavy burden, on host countries. It is time to try and return normalcy and growth, which can only come from a lasting peace. Old leaders and new thoughts can lead to a long term solution, to a region’s problems. Let us work for a future which brings a sensible peace.

Our dying planet

The Alliance of World Scientists have issued their second dire warning about the state of our earth, 25 years after their first stern warning issued in 1992. The scientists have collected and analyzed data about our planet and things have become worse, since their initial findings published over 2 decades ago. We are killing flora and fauna and other living creatures at a furious pace, and this destruction is unsustainable, for a living planet. Billions of years of evolution of species are being wiped out, in our thirst for water, food and our own human habitation. .

“Global climate change sits atop the new letter’s list of planetary threats. Global average temperatures have risen by more than half a degree Celsius since 1992, and annual carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 62 percent.

But it’s far from the only problem people face. Access to fresh water has declined, as has the amount of forestland and the number of wild-caught fish (a marker of the health of global fisheries). The number of ocean dead zones has increased. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by nearly 30 percent.” They have reported.

The scientists have come up with 13 suggestions for a greener planet and more sustainable practices, which we need to adopt. We need a vigorous debate on each of their propositions now, as if we wait another 25 years, things will not magically become better. Our consumption patterns have to change dramatically to bring about a brave new world. If we shy away from this responsibility our children and grandchildren will never forgive us. The time to act is now before more waterways, forests and myriad species disappear forever. We live in a time of great scientific discovery and new technologies are developed every day. From this complexity of science we have to develop a simple method to live and let live. The 1% control our economic reality, but should we let them control the destiny of our planet also?

The self-righteousness of our super rich and inflated egos of our political leaders, are leading us down a path of death, destruction and ruin.  If a butterfly does not flap its wings in China any more, will my grandchild still see a rosy sunrise? I fear for our future and can only hope to awaken our consciousness, towards compassion and love. There is much we still have to do and only if we take a stand to do what is right and reduce our wanton consumption, will we be able to save our earth and its creatures. I want my grandchildren to walk barefoot on the dewy grass in the morning, and watch the cottontails playing in our yard. I want them to see the swans living in our lake, and not stuffed in some museum. Maybe I have too much faith in our humanity, as science does not lie.

“For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner … on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. … That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that.” -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (9 Nov 1934-1996)

Smart bombs

We live in a new world order now and China is extending its reach throughout the world, and Europe and the US have a different hegemony. India is trying to be recognized as the new kid on the block and carve out a piece of its own territory in South Asia. With Pakistan and China as neighbors it has not been easy and tensions still prevail beneath the surface, of deep cracks in the psyche of the nation from past wars. To rise above these and to find its rightful place in the nations of earth the Indian society has to change and adopt a more nationalistic stance. Only a strong nation can survive and there is much work to be done after decades of neglect of real world capabilities. The world has advanced and now India must put its best brains and capabilities into becoming a world player.

I recently read, “The Indian ‘smart anti-airfield weapon’ (SAAW), developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI), other labs and the Indian Air Force, was fired from an air force aircraft.” It has the capability of striking targets within a range of a 100 KMs without crossing the Indian border, with great precision. It can deliver enough of a payload to incapacitate, an enemy’s air capabilities. The development of smart bombs is just the start of the program, as India has a lot of catching up to do. Sadly its defense systems, need modernization on a massive scale. Big data capabilities, artificial intelligence, enhanced internet capabilities, smart weapons, and electronic surveillance are all part of the brave new world. India needs to step up its game to excel in these fields.

The planned build out of the capabilities of the Indian Defense forces, will be a major economic driver for South Asia. If done properly, it will provide much needed investment, labor and scientific development, using indigenous resources. The door for foreign partners is shyly opening up, and will become in the next few decades, a major opportunity for global defense industry corporations. The defense of the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean are at stake, and India has to develop the capabilities to project force, over greater distances. With its great rocket capabilities it now has to augments its ability, to deliver force to face any external force. Only the Air Force can ensure superiority on the battlefield, so any enhancement of their capabilities; is a step, in the right direction. For South Asia to emerge from its shell, India has to play a key role in ensuring, a safe and secure nation.

Great Banyan story

By Biswarup Ganguly – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12679235

Long have the mystics I have studied instructed followers to stay away from Anger, Lust, Greed and things unnatural. They have all advocated that life has enough to offer without needing any artificial enhancement. In a world of plenty we need to get closer to mother nature and our origins. There are so many wonders around us that we can lead a full life, without having to travel to exotic locations. If we want to travel to exotic locations, then there is no harm, in that either. We just have to follow our own path, and not let life just happen to us. We can pick any path our heart desires, and proceed along it, to a goal, or a state of being. We must seek joy, happiness and mirth in everyday situations. If we are happy now with what we have, then start giving the extra stuff away. To live like a mystic, is to not have attachment, and hence one does not accumulate anything. One lives and discovers wonders of the world like, the Great Banyan tree as life progresses. Let me tell you a little more about the wonder of this tree:

A 255-year-old Great Banyan at the Indian Botanic Garden, Shibpur, has increased its girth by a massive two acres in a little over 30 years, from 3 acres in 1985. The Great Banyan lost its main trunk long ago after surviving two cyclones. The tree is now balanced on its growing new roots. The new roots seem to be walking east towards the sun. It is also the direction away from human habitation in the city and its pollution. 4 senior botanists and their assistants take care of the Great Banyan ensuring its health, and have built a new barrier around it. This is a remarkable tree like the Redwoods in California. They are massive and live for centuries yet this covers far more space. It continues to flourish and has grown into the largest single canopy, on earth.

We must praise nature as the more we take care of it, the more it gives back to us. We must take care of the fauna and the flora, of our native lands. Like the huge store in Norway of all the world’s seeds is good for preservation, but there is no sight like looking up from the base of tall Sequoias; and wondering how tall the trees were, as one could not possibly see the top of the trees? The real life is in our fields, our forests, our woods, our lakes, our rivers, our mountains and our oceans. They have to be nourished and cared for, by an army of people, to make them whole again. We have taken and destroyed so much, that we have to take a joint exercise, just to count the tigers, living in Nepal and India. The numbers are low, and preservation is just starting to work, and a lot of work still needs to be done to preserve the jungle species. They need their own habitats with grazing lands, rivers, woods to continue to do what nature does best. Life is to be enjoyed in its enormity and not in narrow dogmas preached for human consumption. We have become very powerful and with power also comes great responsibility. Let us use our powers wisely, to grow ourselves, and allow others to prosper also, as there is a whole universe still to explore. If we must dream then let us dream big like the Great Banyan!

We become what we desire

Very early on I was given to understand that I would never be an emperor of India. I was all of 12 and dreamed all the dreams that Alexander the Great (my hero) would have dreamed, at my age. The tall Qutub Minar towered proud above me after all these centuries in the gardens of Delhi. Gardens and monuments surrounded me from the early Sultanates of India. None was more powerful than the Slave Dynasty that established Muslim rule in India. Ruling from Delhi they conquered the Indus rich lands and a large part of the Gangetic valley and prospered. The pillar was of course much older and had fascinated me for years in its height and girth.

The Ashokan Pillar marks an older tradition of Buddhism, in India. This rust less iron pillar is ascribed to emperor Ashok and was part of his many edicts and signposts, laying down the rules of Dharma. Those rules had been long largely discarded, in the India I grew up in; and long consigned, to the pages of history. Modern Indian politics of Independent India, has been turned towards a new national identity. I had stood with my back resting against the pillar, preparing myself. I looked up at the beautiful carved stone archways, left over from a past kingdom. Vainly I tried to reach around my back, and grasp both hands. Soon I knew that there was no hope, as I was short. Maybe if I had been two feet taller with longer arms, then it may have been easier as the pillar did seem to taper slightly, from the broad base where I stood, reaching our blindly.

The one thing Ashok and Buddha consistently talked about was that compassion and contentment are noble attributes. The sooner we acquire them the easier is our trip to Nirvana. We must not follow our desires as like Lucy in the Sky with diamonds they can never be satisfied in our lifetime. We can take a strange trip of chasing all our desires in a distorted reality, or one with all ones lucidity and love. Just contentment stops a lot of things from happening – mostly with positive results. We do not seek, so are not disappointed, and also do not have any guilt of missing the next high. Desires continue to flourish in our imagination as human beings desire more and more as the world unfolds before us. Every new vision or revelation makes us children again reaching out for a newer shinier toy.

Some seek God and salvation in narrow beliefs and blind faith, while others like the Isa Upanishad say God is in everything so nothing is ours and it is all His, so renounce and enjoy. Buddha did not destroy desires but he found a path we could follow, which would help us overcome becoming trapped in this world of Maya and endless rebirth leading to a state of Nirvana. Great saints have all proclaimed the supremacy of their God and shown paths to serve Him as in the prayer of Saint Francis to his Lord to, “make me an instrument of your peace.”   The end result of many of these learned beings is the concept of Sangha or society that is equal and everyone works for its betterment. God does not dwell in Churches. Temples or Mosques but in each of us and his laws do not differentiate between rich and poor. Follow your Dharma or beliefs and you will find the right path.

So to conclude we remain largely the slaves of our desires. We indulge in more ways to enjoy them and seek the company of those who are followers of the same path. The Germans did not start off as evil under Hitler but they took his beliefs to an extreme and became evil. Similarly we need to ensure we seek contentment versus the fulfillment of all our desires. Desires come and go and we need to be in harmony with nature. The universe has forces far larger and stronger than us puny men trapped on this blue planet. We are only as great as our belief and so seek higher living and thinking. When we destroy whole species of flora or fauna, we are destroying a little bit of ourselves. We have the power to create a new world, full of goodness and hope. Seek to live righteously, as in the end all of us must die.

Improving India’s economy

Arun Jaitley, India’s Finance Minister when asked about disinvestment targets not being met for the State owned enterprises said, “Always remember that privatization is the art of the possible. Therefore it is an exercise which has to be transparent, it has to be acceptable to a cross section of political and public opinion, it is an exercise that must result in a better performance.”
This argument seems false as to provide better infrastructure and build a new and better India, it can only be financed by allowing all state owned companies to go public. His wishing to time the market, and wait for an opportune time, may never come, as markets go up and down randomly in cycles. To presume that the current bureaucrats at the Public Sector enterprises are doing better, at managing their affairs, when compared to other International companies, in the same sector; it seems like smoke and mirrors. The Public sector needs modernization and investments in technology, logistics and global supply chains. He should let his older babies go, as the capital raised from their sales, will help fund the nascent projects of tomorrow.

The legacy of Nehru and Indira for nationalizing and reserving huge economic areas, allowing State Enterprises to have a virtual monopoly in Banking, Finance, Oil, Coal, Energy for so many years. As the Private Sector has grown in India it has taken up the challenge, to meet the consumer needs with more efficiency. The money can be put to more productive use and the more Jaitley can put to work the better it will be for him. It is time for the Modi government to show, how it will pull the Indian economy out of its slump. Regarding disinvestment “the art of the possible,” may be just swallowing ones pride, and letting the Market forces take over. Let the Government get back to governance of its governed, rather than be distracted in running large businesses; best left to the private sector, to grow.

A new trust has to be established where disinvestment of some sectors of the economy, yields investment in Highways, Cities, Logistics, Airports, Railways, Mass Transit and the list is endless. With India needing huge improvements in sanitation, drinking water, electricity and broadband there have to be huge public and private partnerships for improvements. The 11 B disinvestments are not going to be able to fund existing ambitious plans of the different ministries. I am advocating to go for broke and raise 100 B and maybe 200 B over three years and really impact the economy. The digitization of Adhar and direct deposits, is an easy way to share some of these funds, with the poorest of the poor. The ones who need it the most, may also provide the largest productivity gains if they become consumers. We need a helicopter economy.

Global rating agencies are following closely the adherence to the 3.2% deficit financing target and so far Mr. Jaitley has obliged, to a great extent. With his options dwindling he may have to bring all tools in his arsenal to bear. “We are all conscious of the fact that there is importance of the kind of fiscal prudence that is required in the economy,” Jaitley said. “At the same time we are also conscious of the need in such situations of spending and finding the balance between the two.” With GST rolled out and its implementation in progress and it is a game changer, from the previous state and local taxes on distribution. Making India into one market for taxation makes sense and its benefits will be shared with the States. The laws have to be enforced and systems automated and simplified with AI to ensure collection and auditing of the taxes owed and encouraging the growth of the formal economy.

With timely disinvestment it appears that Mr. Jaitley can open the spigot, to be able to spend on Defense and other BJP priorities. The Indian economy has more than enough room to grow for this century, with its young and dynamic youth. Somebody has to become the enabler, of all the Micro to the Macroeconomic needs, of India. Such great opportunities come rarely and only action is required, in the Parliamentary sessions, to take them forward. The Markets have their own mechanisms to provide the price for Assets and these exercises need to start, in a far larger manner that we see today.

Investments in Infrastructure and human capital, provide rich rewards, as seen in the case of China. Education, health and human well being need major investments and the sooner the better. Increasing the productivity of India’s billion people will yield a virtuous spiral upwards, for the poor. It needs fire and fury to awaken the forces of nature on a gigantic scale, which only a modern India can achieve. This talk of balance and improvements in performance sounds good, but it is not the action required on the ground. Speedier and better implementation is the need of the hour and good leaders should be working towards these goals for improving Indian humanity.