Dis-Invest our past

Arvind Panagariya blames the socialist educated elites, from leading Indian Institutions of higher learning, sprung up during the previous regime, for India’s current shrunken GDP. He cites “the government attempts to privatise a large number of public sector enterprises, which have remained stalled despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push, to get cabinet approval for the list of companies drawn up by the NITI Aayog”. He goes on to further state that,


“Remarkably, in India even business leaders have played an insignificant role in pushing for market-friendly reforms. In most countries, businesses try to use an economic crisis as an opportunity to seek removal of regulations that impede their progress. But in India, they use a crisis as the opportunity to seek subsidies and protection from imports,” he says.

Why do we have so many different Ministries in a nation of good governance. The list is alarmingly long, so I won’t print its entirety, but suffice to say that a huge 80% reduction, would not hurt as you could still effectively lead as in Germany. There should be fewer ministries, but effective ministries. The Indian Government needs to Dis-invest on a large scale, from current Investments in such sub Ministries which prevent them from being privatized. The clear answer is to reduce the Government, and to let private industry develop, to fill the gap. It is time to finally step away from the ‘Nationalist” era of Indira Gandhi, which followed Nehru’s Socialist and Non-Aligned Era.

Huge land and other resources from these closed enterprises, can then be re purposed to build the new cities, airports, transportation hubs, Universities, Hospitals of tomorrow. The money from the spin off, of majors like LIC, IOC, SBI, or the top 50, would make a sensible approach, to build India’s tomorrow.  Banks, Insurance, Healthcare, Education should be largely dis-invested to form large Private service industries. The focus should be to provide the most jobs, on a massive scale, to let the Indian entrepreneurship, and native intelligence, combine with modern markets, and interfaces, to develop. The people will find their own way of life, as this is India after all that we are talking about, once they are provided the tools. We can enjoy all the bonus, of India’s young and growing population, for the coming decades, Will have to take the right steps now and change direction, to a more direct approach.

Our Government has no business being in Business.,and should free itself from this burden with the right precautions. For too long has the Indian Bureaucracy caused a pause, in India’s growth story. They hold on to it’s colonial and socialist past, while the nation needs to move ahead; into modern markets and modern industrial\service areas.  The left often gets in the way of the right’s implementation, causing good recommendations, to flounder in red tape. It is time to cut this red tape once and for all. Mr Modi should allow the Indian people, to decide their own economic future, and not ministers, enclosed near him on Raisaina Hill.

It is time indeed for a new Era, for the young and newly educated Indian youth; to become the service providers, to the modern world of the future. We need to fund them with all the States resources at its command, to make the future digital India.  This only means massive dis-investment from the old businesses of yesteryear’s. Now we have to make the most important investment for our future, into the youth of this nation. All our public enterprises, rightfully belong to them, and should be used for their greatest good. Get rid of Syssypuse’s burden of running large economic enterprises, and rise to build the superhighway of the future, with energy and hope. I hope, with a slight change in direction; our path ahead, becomes clearer, and brighter!

Future incubators

I am surprised, to read that in the US, “ Research and development have been cut so much that the US is now in second place and high-quality higher education is becoming unaffordable for most middle-class students. Yet every time someone proposes new investments in our future, they are told that the nation is broke, massively in debt, and cannot afford new investments.”

The Jouirnal Blog continued, “The United States had plenty of money half a century ago. In the 1950s and 1960s, we paid down the huge World War II debt at a time when we maintained a much larger military than today and fought wars in Korea and Vietnam. We built the Interstate Highway System and much of the other physical infrastructure we use today. We funded vigorous research and development, including the fabulously expensive Apollo program. We supported higher education well enough that middle-class students could graduate from elite universities without crippling debt.”

I am surprised, as I always believed that the best years are ahead of us. Yet the article sounded as if our wild economy, and can-do attitude, is a setting Western sun. We have become a nation that refuses to invest in itself, it allows private business to thrive, at the cost of public expenditure. Who will build the future modes of transportation, or the new fuel cells and batteries? Future cities will house, millions in a new tech world. Future farms will be climate controlled. Flora and Fauna will be preserved in video, and reserves. Humans will use artificial companions, for living, and transportation. Entertainment will be through focused sensory stimulation experiences, including physical, chemical and mental stimulants. 

Traditionally we have been a nation of Innovators and Free Thinkers as part of the American Way. Unfortunately, the cost of fostering human social conditions, for this innovation and education, has been going up. Over the past 5 decades, cost of social justice and security, has largely drawn from the pocketbook of employees, instead of the pockets of the corporations. Even before Reagan the cry to lower taxes, on the corporate and Wall Street big wigs, had a quaint resonance, in the elected house and Senate. Lobbyist swarmed and payroll taxes doubled many times, since initiation. Corporate taxes continued to slide, even hailed today by current President Trump, as one of his proudest moment, in this White House.

It is time now, to once again invest in the American Spirit and our people. Ever since the revolution, we have always risen from the ashes of past wars, and failures, with even more strength and determination. We are on the cusp of another revolution, where we tax more, and invest more, into American roots. The roots will grow green shoots which will create the forests of tomorrow. These schools and, universities are incubators, of our future world. What we teach them today, as basic human values, will take our place; in the universe, of tomorrow May they live long and prosper, on our blue planet!

A big deal!

The photo shows a century old electric alternator from the Budapest hydroelectric station. India is entering the second Industrial revolution a century later, due to inertia, ineptitude and inadequate resources of its ruling elite.  A World Bank report recently pointed out that India was doing electrification of over 30 million homes per year, between 2010 and 2016. “India is doing extremely well on electrification. We are reporting India about 85 per cent of the population has access to electricity,” Vivien Foster, Lead Energy Economist at the World Bank, said. This means that the Modi Government will have enabled almost all the accessible villages, and majority of households in India with access to electricity.

The World Bank report went on to explain that India was in the last leg of its electrification project, with over 80 percent of the population having access to electrical energy. This, the report said, meant that the efforts to provide electricity to the remotest households would have to be more pronounced, as reaching those places would prove challenging. The report also looked into global cues and pointed out that Bangladesh and Kenya were faster in electrification than India. This is a remarkable turnaround for India with over 1.2 billion people in a very short time. Political questions of whether it could have been faster, cheaper, earlier are being asked? The work completed to date, is most welcome, and should be celebrated by the millions of citizens, who have been enlightened.

I left India due to a shortage of electric power, to run my factory, many decades ago. It is amazing to see the bold steps being taken to increase energy production, via all means available. Indian Government owns the coal mines, the rail used to transport coal, the thermal plants that produce power. The State transmission systems, then deliver it to eventual consumers. It is all starting to come together, in a cohesive whole, under a hard working party and civil service, which is encouraging greater transparency and productivity. New auctions have been largely digital and productivity based, whether for mining, green energy, infrastructure or telecommunication. Privatization is the eventual answer for smart cities under development, and may help bridge the last mile problem.

There are many promises yet to keep in India, as a lot of people live in dire poverty, on the edge of an improvised existence. Universal health care and social security is a far dream, for the poorest citizens. Housing, Health, Education and employment for the young population about to enter the workforce, is the greatest challenge. To create a million jobs a month, is not easy, and to train many more millions is harder. Skilling its resources to become more productive, will strain India’s finances. IOT and a digital world is coming and India’s challenge is to leap right from the colonial times, into the Digital Age of Cloud and goods and services delivered on demand. The world needs the services that this new workforce will supply, and it is the adoption of globalization which will help India and our world.

Entrepreneurs have to spring up in a free and democratic India, to take up these harsh new challenges. The 500,000 villages which are being electrified now, will unleash the resources of almost a billion people, who have not been truly globally engaged before. The economic contribution of such a large part of human population, will drive Indian economic growth for decades ahead. It is a country readying itself for a productivity takeoff, after centuries of oppression. Its people have been a victim of bad policy and poor execution by its leaders and was preceded by autocratic rule. Finally there appears to be a democratic government, ready to govern. It is striving to ensure that basic needs of its citizens, irrespective of class, creed, caste, religion or gender, will be met. If not wholly today, but an attempt will be made to meet the basic needs in the coming years.

There is still a promise of hope for the largest democracy in the world, as the winds of change have arrived. The ship of State is being steered by firm hands and the nation is progressing, in small but meaningful ways. Power has literally come to the people and now a new day will dawn. The Vedic wisdom will be studied again in remote hamlets, and a new compassionate citizen of this universe, will reappear. For too long has the beauty of the human mind stayed hidden, in remote darkness, neglected by us all. A light has been shown where there was none before, and with it will come enlightenment for the masses. This rising of hope and passion in people who were deprived of it for too long, to quote Joe Biden, at the passing of the Affordable Care Act is, “A big Deal!”

IoT the new frontier

Some recent development shows that we can expect major advances in the Internet of Things (IoT), as major investments are being made in the field right now. SpaceX is deploying the Next set of satellites ordered by Iridium a communication player in IoT space and who wants to be a leader in the new technology. Using multiple polar orbit satellites, it hopes to cover the whole world and provide the next generation of services. By the time NEXT is fully deployed, at the end of 2018, it will include 75 satellites — 66 that are operational satellites and nine as on-orbit spares.

“All 10 new satellites have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operation Center and are preparing to begin testing,” the Iridium Corporation wrote in an update after the latest launch. Iridium promises better tracking than before, using L-band broadband service. L-band service is faster than the current service from satellite ground terminals. As NEXT becomes more powerful, this will generate all sorts of tracking information to benefit customers. For example, tracking shipping containers will increase delivery accuracy and security. Monitoring remote power lines from afar will reduce the time needed to check them in person, Matt Desch chief executive of Iridium said.

The reason why this is really important for the next stage of human development to take place, we will need this and even more infrastructure to track humanity and its activities. When IoT  development is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart gridsvirtual power plantssmart homesintelligent transportation and smart cities. This will be a game changer as it will allow us to track and optimize major systems in logistics, energy and communications, on a scale not even imagined today. There is revolution about to happen in how we will live, work, communicate and travel in the future.

Looking in amazement at the launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket, as it took the latest 10 satellites into space I thought to myself “This a wonder and the awe of Space flight is now going to become a common sight, as nations across the globe start competing for this new race. Our Grandchildren will wonder why this is such a big deal to our generation. Their cyber-physical world will be very different from what we have today.”

My only wish is that the next generation’s times be filled with more compassion and happiness, than the world we live in today.  Hopefully as communication increases we can overcome our differences, and strive for the common good of humanity. As productivity and logistics improve, we should also expect to see a growing need, for everyone to come together. The world is going to be far better connected in the future and many things will become much easier to know. Humans will be able to live more closely with each other, by being constantly connected with the IoT. We have to learn to enjoy this new world and be happy,  as it is coming whether we like it or not.

Mass unemployment in developing nations

It is well known that in our 21st century there is currently huge mass unemployment in the less developed and developing economies. The more developed economies on the other hand have severe human capital shortage looming in their future, in Japan, Europe, China and the US. Due to this demographic divide between the have and the have nots, the future of a nation’s economy and civilization, may be thrown into peril. Currently there has been a huge urbanization in the developed economies, with mass movement of labor from the agricultural interior, to the large urban centers. World civilization lives and works in these new Mega urban clusters, formed by modern cities. Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai, New Delhi, London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, Brazil to name a few, have continued to grow bigger.

India has the greatest potential for mass unemployment, or mass growth on a scale, which can drive the world economy. The consensus from even Nobel Prize economists is, that India has to grow its Industrial base and urban centers, to provide employment to the million young people, who will join its workforce every month. This trend is likely to continue for a decade or more, as the young population enters its work force.  The new arrivals are just the tip of the iceberg, as there is a mass underemployment in its half a million villages. Most statistics indirectly say that almost 80% of the rural population, is engaged in “agriculture”.  This disguised unemployment leaves a vast labor force, available for taking up the new services, which the world will need.

Indian history does not show a goods exporting nation, but one of ideas and aspirations. The new Digital revolution suits India well, as a first mover, in the computer services industry. The Independent nation of 60 years, is finally throwing off its colonial past, and getting into its stride. There is resurgence of public works which will truly benefit its hinterland. More people are getting Highways, connecting their remote regions to the rest of the world, in this decade, than has happened in the history of the sub-continent. Similarly more people are getting electricity, sanitation, education, health services in the coming decade, than in the many decades since Independence. There is a remarkable will to overcome the past and leapfrog into a green future, and to provide services to its citizens,especially in its undeveloped areas.

On the other hand we have the economic sceptics, who question every move, and state that the implementation of truly global and far reaching reform, is beyond the capabilities of India’s people. They will plod on at their usual uneducated, undeveloped, unhealthy pace and the promise of a bright future will come, but not now, they claim. They question the competence of its democracy and the will of its public and private sector’s ability, to provide the productivity and investment needed, to provide employment at scale. They fear that a state of mass unemployment is coming, where lack of Industrial growth will hold back employment, and bring untold misery to its farmers and urban poor.

To all these naySayers I can only advise that it is time to read Indian history again. For most of human history till the 18th century, India had the highest GDP in the world. Whenever its people had a stable just and fair society, its people have prospered beyond expectations. The producer of Buddha,Ram, Krishna and the Vedas is a land steeped in time and evolution, of humans themselves. It has reinvented itself many times and still kept its culture and belief system intact. There is a secular society that has prospered in its diversity, from the time of the Greeks at tIndus. Chandragupta who was Alexander’s contemporary and ruled a huge empire left his throne, to seek salvation. His grandson Ashoka the Great renounced his prosperous empire, and started to serve humanity. His edicts and efforts spread Buddhism across the world.  The most dangerous ideas that promote all life, like non-violence, vegetarianism, salvation arose in these lands. These ideas and aspirations come only, after the basic human needs are met.

The service industries will be India’s savior, as our world moves into a new era of prosperity for all. The basic hypotheses is changing as the solution is no longer in Industry, but in the new world of communication and service. Industry is required and China, Germany and the US have mastered it, and other nations will also catch up; based on their investments, and needs. It is in the new world order of ideas, compassion, health and love that change will come. Once the basic needs are filled for the developing world, it is then that India will play its part. Whether it is in providing basic services or in art, music, philosophy and the striving for a higher life, India will have a role to play.  Its demographic dividend will become the world’s greatest asset, as the developed world will welcome Indian’s help, to become better. Currently only about 53% of India’s young people are employed, and the rest are a lotus bearing gift, which will open, when the light shines and the world opens its arms to welcome them. I say the Phillips curve shown above, is going to be severely tested in the future for the good or bad of humanity, based on what steps we take today. India is the diamond in the rough, getting ready to shine (at least it has the diamond cutters, to do so for the world)..

It is in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production to overwork some workers while keeping the rest as a reserve army of unemployed paupers.

Marx, Theory of Surplus Value

The Tolling bell

The Health Protection initiative announced in the latest Indian budget is planned to benefit nearly 10 crore families and 50 crore people (500 million), would be the world’s largest government-funded health protection programs when rolled out. Providing health to the poorest of the poor could dramatically reduce sickness and death, in a positive direction for its citizens. The increased build out of the Medical Facilities required for them, has been acknowledged for the first time, and a rudimentary plan to increase Hospitals, Medical Colleges and Private services for the people has been put in motion.

The new Indian budget also advocates a rise in allocation for infrastructure by 21% accompanied by broadening of corporate tax relaxation for Micro SMEs, a unique focus on generating livelihood creation in agriculture and rural sectors via new Operation Green is important. New incentives to enhance employment in labor intensive sectors of textile, leather and footwear, will ensure a stronger consumption and investment impetus in FY19. This could finally kick start the entrepreneurial spirit of millions and create jobs for the next decade. Improving agricultural income would create a rising spiral for consumption and production,

These measures help to ensure that the citizens of India at the lowest levels of society may finally rise out of dire poverty and helplessness. Each of them will now have a reason to seek a better life as health and happiness has been brought closer to them. Too long was caste and religious stratifications ruled the land. Now the measures are changing and becoming human. No longer is economic incentive based on religion, caste, and backward class distinction but on economic need and basic human dignity. When you are one of a billion then it is important for everyone to help take care of you with no divisions. Each citizen is prized and can be a productive member of society if given basic human inputs.

The economy can only grow when it is an inclusive economy of all classes. The Rich may have to pay a disproportionate share to raise standards for all, but it is an exercise worth doing. The final arbitrator will be the ability of this government to bring true reforms in labor, property, disinvestment and Banking and Insurance. To turn the State’s Public Sector behemoths into dividend declaring contributors to the economic growth will provide much needed relief. At the end of the day can this government truly implement the reforms and programs that it has announced or proposed will determine the common man’s vote. The next toll rests on how they perform for their constituents..

No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. -John Donne, poet (22 Jan 1573-1631)

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)

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!

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.

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.