New Gang of four

Country Share of Contribution to
Global GDP Growth
  World 100.0%
1  United States 19.5%
 European Union 19.1%
2  China 11.4%
3  India 5.1%
4  Japan 4.0%

BNY Mellon Cox’s newest simulation assumes Japan manages to average growth of 2 percent for the rest of this decade, the U.S. 3 percent, China 7 percent and India 8 percent. He says that if this Gang of 4 starts to fire on all four cylinders, then we could see another $ 10 Billion added to the group’s GDP by 2020. This is not an unrealistic scenario as the current leaders Abe, Obama, Xi and Modi are all pushing for better trade treaties and greater growth. In fact these targets may be exceeded if we can only keep war at bay, and not allow any economic shocks to develop.

The banks and the largest corporations have survived the Great Recession, and have learnt a valuable lesson, and their balance sheets are stronger now. The consumer is more willing to spend, and create the demand, that growing industrial companies and service corporations will provide. There is an opening up of trade and commerce, and the next cycle of cheap manufacturing for the masses, is about to start in India. The newly created billions of consumers in Asia will become a driving force, and the young generations will develop the next smart cities, and mass transportation systems.

In my optimistic view these numbers can be surpassed with cheaper fuel costs and greater use of Green energy to save the environment. There is so much demand for green housing, higher education, better skill training, improving healthcare, more geriatric care and improved logistics, that nation building can go on for decades. We just need to balance incomes so the poor can become self-sufficient, and productive citizens. Current disparity if it continues will lead to Larry Summers ‘secular stagnation’ and we will not benefit from a growing middle class. Greater opportunity and greater trade and commerce is the only way out of this morass of low growth. Financial inclusion for the poorest of the poor, is the cry of the hour.

The time is now ripe as we have abundant resources and technology to take humanity, to the next level of existence. With a well-oiled economic engine, we can expect current growth; to create more savings and investments, in a virtuous spiral of growth. We are all in this together and if the stars align, then the new leaders will take the steps to create the right political and social environment, for this economic miracle to take place. I welcome all steps in the direction of human development and peace and prosperity for all. May the next decades be the time, for the emergence of this unlikely  gang of four; to rise to their pinnacle. We look forward to finally eradicating poverty, and bringing human equality, prosperity, dignity and well being to all our citizens.

Wealth creation for masses

World Wealth Report: 2.8nm Indian HNIs, Yet 90% Population in Lower Income Bracket

RBI, Deputy Governor, S S Mundra says, “according to census 2011, out of 24.67 crore households in the country, only about 14.48 crore or 58.70 % households had access to banking services. Further, of the 16.78 crore rural households, only about 9.14 crore or 54.46 % households were availing of banking services.”

“The World Bank Findex Survey (2012) points out that only about 35% of Indian adults had access to a formal bank account and a meager 8% borrowed formally in the last 12 months,” says Mundra.

Historically even Lord Curzon vexed by the bureaucratic Indian Banks observed, “In respect of banking it seems we are behind the times. We are like some old fashioned sailing ship, divided by solid wooden bulkheads into separate and cumbersome compartments.”

In 1960, the State Banks of India was given control of eight state-associated banks under the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959. These are now called its associate banks. In 1969 the Indian Government nationalized 14 major private banks. In 1980, 6 more private banks were nationalised. These nationalised banks are the majority of lenders in the Indian economy. They dominate the banking sector because of their large size and widespread networks.

My request to India’s finance Minister is that when Indira Gandhi nationalized the banks and the Insurance Companies, it was for the purpose of ‘Garibi Hatao’ or the reduction of poverty, for the masses and the proletariat. If this is the property of the poor, then the time has come to return their property back to them. We now have the technology, microfinance systems and means; to finally bankroll the biggest financing and banking endeavor at an individual digital level. Do the greatest good by unleashing the power of the citizens, for the long term improvement, of the largest proletariat, of poor citizens in our history. Divest all the banks and lend all the money back to the poor and the needy, and let them decide what entrepreneurship they want to follow, to improve their lives. Human ingenuity knows no bound and unleashing its potential, is the greatest duty of its government.

The government has long tried its hand at Banking, Insurance and Finance, and it is time now for the people to learn and use what is theirs. Electronic banking can spread to the most remote digitally identified persons, who can borrow small loans, to take up a livelihood or trade. Whether it is the soon to be millions of urban poor, or the needs of the largely disguised unemployed in the rural sector, this money has been put in trust, for their use. This trust can now be upheld and the minister can prove himself trustworthy by disinvesting all these banks and insurance companies, and investing the proceeds in the modern schemes; of direct deposits, and microloans for over five hundred million citizens.

By husbanding this wealth in government hands, and not to let lose its benefits on the people who need it the most today, would be foolhardy and make little economic sense, or policy. The policy should be the greatest good at the fastest pace, and in the most efficient manner possible, for and by the people. It is time for the people to rise, and for the government to stand aside, and let it happen. The government can be a facilitator, but not the creator of wealth. The wealth belongs to the people, and they have first right on how to use it. We have the old socialists’ leftist parties in the opposition clinging on to an idea whose time has come and gone. The model of the Government being the “Ma Baap” of its citizen, crumbled with the Berlin wall, and China’s affirmation that it is glorious to be rich.

While my example talks only of Banking and Finance the whole communication revolution of digitized media is going to be the greatest enabler for India’s citizens. As the Minister for Information & Broadcasting it helps, as the digital revolution of providing information, and enabling broadcasting; is the base, for any digitally enabled economy. The example can be safely extended to Railways, Highways, Industry, Commerce and other areas where the government has no business being in any longer, and they should be allowed to grow on their own. The greatest fire sale in India, of its so called Public Enterprises; will go a long way in enabling the current government, to meets its new investment and developmental goals.

The goals for the country are economic and financial equality like the Nordic nations rumored to be amongst the happiest in the world. All the people’s money should now be invested in health, education, housing and infrastructure with the government as an investor and enabler. The people will grow the wealth, as they alone know how to do it. Given the knowledge and technology of the modern world, seamless digital transactions; will allow for the raising from poverty, of India’s masses. Just like China has achieved in the past decades, India can also continue to have a double digit growth for decades. Only India’s policy and methodology should not be central controlled, but pass to a million points of light. It is the people’s land and they will husband it and grow it, and make it fruitful, and you are only a custodian; of their wishes.

Sell everything that is publicly held, and convert that into the greatest private investment in the world. To lend a $ 1,000 to five hundred million people you only need fifty billion dollars. A Keynesian behemoth of spending, of this this size; by depositing these sums directly into individual accounts, will transform India for ever. The thing is that it does not have to be done all at once and can be spread out over decades. These private investments will grow well over the rate of inflation, given the growth potential, of the young population. This initial seed money, can grow exponentially over the century; to truly make India, into what it can be as an economic power.

For centuries the villages of India have been treated as the forgotten masses. For all the talk precious little was achieved in raising financial inclusion through education or technology. Now a simple mobile phone can become the vehicle of mass inclusion. Numerous new finance organizations in existence in Africa and elsewhere can now provide a loan within an hour to deserving candidates. A unique identifier for each citizen coupled with this new credit will allow each one to prosper, at his or her own pace. The multiplier effect of this mass infusion of capital; into a largely landless labor, will have a very beneficial impact, on the gross domestic product. Consumption will rise, and demand will go up; in an economically beneficial and ever expanding spiral.

At the same time the privatization of public enterprises, will allow for further innovation and improvements, in the disinvested large corporations; who will be free to grow, and become more efficient and better corporations. Foreign investments will pour in, as the diaspora and its friends learn of the new economic miracle, about to be unleashed in human potential. The direct growth in consumer consumption will allow for more expansion of the economy. For double digit growth we need transformation of the current finacial, insurance, mining, industrial and logistics, into a modern infrastructure built by the best engineering talent, and not bureaucrats living out their tenure. We can grow the talent as we have so much youth, and need to invest in them and not for them. You are the guardian of a great wealth, and as per the doctrine of parmo dharma, it is best to invest in the citizens, whose karma will make the new India.

Let me explain what will happen. Rural individuals engaged in agriculture will be able to buy their seeds, fertilizer, agricultural implements and sell their produce directly, without any middlemen taking their share of the profits, and making the systems inefficient. Those not actively engaged directly in agriculture, will be able to enter into trading, or providing services, required elsewhere. These will be the hidden labor that will become available to make the modern India. The industrial workers and the builders of the infrastructure and cities will come from these individually enabled citizens. Development needs great sacrifices and discipline and the government should provide better governance, defense and law and order. Get out of the people’s business, while it is still time, and let people live in a just and free society, or face a future of their unfulfilled dreams.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is only a small step in this direction and there is a lot of work to be done, to make a secure digital transaction system using mobile. This has not been tried before on the scale that India requires, but that is the beauty of new technology, which is easily scalable. A lot of it can be free funded by advertising, from the consumer goods and technology giants, which will help fund this new revolution. As money flows to the poorest of the poor, we will all benefit, for financial inclusion is the only way forward.

The gift of Buddha


Buddha gift

President Xi Jiping of China was just presented with the gift of the model casket that contained the sacred remnants of Gautam Buddha , by the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, from a 3rd century stupa, in his home state of Gujrat. In the nature of global hegemony, this is a southern attack; on the minds and souls, of the north. The brilliance of this golden move, is something only ancient civilizations that count in millenniums, can truly understand. If peace were to reign between the nations of China, India and the erstwhile country of Tibet then a reintroduction of Buddhism is not a bad approach. In a communist nation, how can their be opposition of a religion; where there is no concept of God, Hell, Heaven or ritual worship.

The middle path is anchored by its four noble truths of suffering, and the eight fold path to escape from this suffering. In India, Buddhism was largely absorbed into the main Hindu faith, and largely disappeared after a thousand years; but in neighboring countries, the faith lived on all over south east asia for a thousand more. My teacher came from Burma (Myanmar) and brought vipasyana meditation back to India and many practice it today. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a living symbol of all the pure thinking and living in Buddhism. When one sees the temples in Sri Lanka one is struck by the simple faith of the island dwellers, and we feel the joy that these people live in. There are already Buddhist traditions and temples all over China and it is time now to try and revive them for the greater good of its people.

As rampant growth was effected by the leadership, as China opened out to the world in the last few decades, something is still lacking. The pheasants who are still on the land live in a different zone but modern China has increasingly Industrialized. These modern cities with well over 10 million residents in many cases, have their citizens seeking more from life; now that their basic needs, have been fulfilled. They seek more from the meaning of life and its purpose, and seek a way to live in harmony with those around them. The average citizen needs to feel a higher calling, and to try and reach a better place in life, than just a humdrum existence of studying, working, retiring and dying. Faith is a great motivator and meditation can bring a calm and happiness, and allow us to improve ourselves, if we just put our minds to it.

There is more to our existence and while we are creators of our own karma, Buddha showed a way of how we could escape from this world of Maya, and desire. His disciplined approach of right thought and action and other steps, showed a deep understanding of nature and how to live in harmony, with all of earth’s creatures. He showed a better way of life, and if followed he said, we could escape from the dharmachakra, and reach a state of Nirvana or holiness, where the suffering that afflicts mortals ends. Knowledge and awareness is the only way to destroy ignorance, which is the root of all suffering, as per the Great Buddha.

Mr. Modi has not squandered away his priceless gift on fools, as there is something deeply symbolic in this giving. It is a hand offered in friendship and faith from one leader of an ancient land to another neighbor, recognizing their common heritage. Human thought and interaction has been progressing for millennium, and now the time has come to redeem some of its ancient promises.’ Hindi Chini bhai bhai’ was a slogan I heard from Chacha Nehru, before the border war in 60s. It may be time to dust off that old slogan, and try a common path for our development. For the sake of half of the world’s population such chances should not be squandered in petty quarreling, over ancient wounds.

Buddham sharanam gacchami,

Sangham sharan gachhami,

Dharmam sharanam gacchami

‘Buddhism is more of a science of the mind than a religion’ as per the Dalai Lama. We need to use our minds to better our common human conditions, and as such any attachment to old thinking must be nirvaaned. We must now move forward recognizing our common heritage, and more importantly our common future, as fellow citizens of our world. Even more important than any economic agreements that we can make in this historic visit, will be the recognition of a commonality of our heritage, and a march to a shared future.

Art is life




Women of Algiers

“Picasso’s 1955 oil painting, “The Women of Algiers (Version 0),” sold for $179,365,000 after more than 11 minutes of furious bidding from telephone buyers at a packed auction room at Christie’s. “ reported the Economic Times. In our modern times great wealth has become so anonymous, that it is hushed voices, heard over the conference telephone bidding on priceless works; to be preserved, for their private viewing. At no time has the contrast between the rich and poor been so great in our recent history and the have nots can only hope for a decent dinner before bed, if they get lucky.

I love the painting, as it is truly remarkable how the vision of the artist; sees our world, in so many dimensions and colors. The women are so wonderfully posed in their leisure as they await life. Sensuality runs rampant and the imagination comes alive, to what they must be thinking, as they live their exotic ways. It is one of his best compositions, for that special period; when he surprised the world by taking his art, into a new way of representing the human figure. The interwoven geometric designs, blend together; in a riot of shapes and this three dimensional peeking, comes with great delight for the beholder of these beautiful women. Depth and perception have been mastered, and one can get lost into the heart of the piece; trying to find, its deeper meaning, from this wonderful artist, who lived life in its fullest measures in many ways.

I am no art critic but the stupendous out pouring of serious money for these small canvas pieces runs into billions of dollar. This is at a time when billions are malnourished and hungry and art may be the last thing on their minds. Prices are very strong right now as Christie’s auctioneer says that they cannot find enough masterpieces, to sell for the rich and famous. So it looks like the rich continue to get richer and the poor are not seeing the trickle down effect and in fact are being pushed further away from a civilized life. The ‘Women of Algiers’ is just an example of what is happening in our crazy world. Their juxtaposed body parts reflect our crazy world like no other, and we can see what the artist saw and painted. It is a mirror of our modern world where everything is now divided into the ones who live in luxury, and the ones who are driven to despair by their life.