For crying out loud …


Why is English-speaking India so eager to give credit to the West where none is due.

Indian Economy  |  Cartoon By Marty Two Bulls; Image source & courtesy - bimedia.net  |  Click for image.

Indian Economy | Cartoon By Marty Two Bulls; Image source & courtesy - bimedia.net | Click for image.

Saurabh Srivastava, co-founder of the National Association of Software and Service Companies in India, explained that for the first 40 years of Indian independence, entrepreneurs here were looked down upon. India had lost confidence in its ability to compete, so it opted for protectionism. But when the ’90s rolled around, and India’s government was almost bankrupt, India’s technology industry was able to get the government to open up the economy, in part by citing the example of America and Silicon Valley. India has flourished ever since.

“America,” said Srivastava, “was the one who said to us: ‘You have to go for meritocracy. You don’t have to produce everything yourselves. Go for free trade and open markets.’ This has been the American national anthem, and we pushed our government to tune in to it. And just when they’re beginning to learn how to hum it, you’re changing the anthem. … Our industry was the one pushing our government to open our markets for American imports, 100 percent foreign ownership of companies and tough copyright laws when it wasn’t fashionable.”

If America turns away from these values, he added, the socialist/protectionists among India’s bureaucrats will use it to slow down any further opening of the Indian markets to U.S. exporters.

It looks, said Srivastava, as if “what is happening in America is a loss of self-confidence. We don’t want America to lose self-confidence. Who else is there to take over America’s moral leadership? American’s leadership was never because you had more arms. It was because of ideas, imagination, and meritocracy.” If America turns away from its core values, he added, “there is nobody else to take that leadership. Do we want China as the world’s moral leader? No. We desperately want America to succeed.” (via It’s Morning in India – NYTimes.com).

Cartoon Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on May 27, 2009 @ Frugal Café Blog Zone. Click to enlarge.

Cartoon Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on May 27, 2009 @ Frugal Café Blog Zone. Click to enlarge.

Doors and windows

For sixty years now, India has been closing doors and opening windows. And no, the US, Great Britain had nothing to do with it.

Between the 1950-1960, all the British patronized and protected companies were asked to restrict imports and become self-reliant. Monopolies were taken away. Many of these companies went under. Out went products like cars from GM, watches from Switzerland. I presume you want to ‘credit’ the Americans and British with this?

The sixties was about Indian industry updating itself with buying technology. Bajaj made a winning move in two-wheeler segments. Daimler Benz trucks tied up with Tata Motors for heavy trucks. Indian agriculture was given tax reliefs – which allowed Indian peasants to start breathing again. Food shortages started easing. No, the UK and USA and nothing to do this.

The Seventies was about oil. Especially Bombay High. This discovery of oil allowed India to stand up for the first time. Indian space program got a boost. India’s atomic explosion announced India’s entry into the atomic club. Multinational monopolies and cartels like IBM and Coke were simply told, “Or else!” You think the USA and UK had anything to do with this?

The Eighties saw the beginning of relaxation in licensing. Automobile sector saw new licences which made India into a world-class competitor in automobile ancillaries over the next 20 years. Telecom and computing technology were declared as ‘missions’ – and we saw India gain a cutting edge position in the next twenty years. Currency devaluations partially corrected the rupee overvaluation of the previous 30 years. Who was pushing this – UK and USA?

The Nineties was finally ‘The Great Push’ – driven by policy formulations of the previous 40 years. Industrial licensing was abolished. Capital markets were freed. New private sector banks were set up. Import restrictions were removed. Telecom industry was made competitive with the entry of private sector. India’s unsung Unix revolution was copied in Silicon Valley – which changed the computing landscape forever. You will want to hand-over all this credit to the USA again, I surmise!

Will we ever credit this poor, vernacular, dhoti-wearing man some credit? (Cartoon character - RK Laxman's Common Man).

Will we ever credit this poor, vernacular, dhoti-wearing man some credit? (Cartoon character - RK Laxman's Common Man).

Open your mouth – ha-ha-ha

Saurabh Srivastava!

Open your mind and shut your mouth. The deal goes something like this. If people think you have the smarts, don’t open your open mouth and prove them wrong. Nothing makes people more mad, than when they are proved wrong.

Saurabh – Remember, one of your predecessors was Dewang Mehta.

Poor Dewang Mehta. His ash particles must be doing a wild tandav in grief.


  1. A fan of your blog
    November 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    The Nineties was finally ‘The Great Push’ – driven by policy formulations of the previous 40 years. Industrial licensing was abolished. Capital markets were freed. New private sector banks were set up. Import restrictions were removed. Telecom industry was made competitive with the entry of private sector. India’s unsung Unix revolution was copied in Silicon Valley – which changed the computing landscape forever. You will want to hand-over all this credit to the USA again, I surmise!

    While India’s “friendship” with America is quite new, I do not see the “logical progression” that you see with India’s competitiveness. The truth is somewhere in between. What made the big difference was the end of protectionism that was harbored by JN and IG governments and the license raj that it created. What PVN and MMS did was not a stroke of great genius, but a fiscal necessity to keep the bankrupt Indian economy afloat. It was shoved down our throat by the likes of WB. Let’s not kid ourselves by saying India would have achieved its current rate of economic growth, had we not opened our economy to the free international markets. Those who knew what this would do for us as a country, wisely invested in the happenings by starting software companies and leveraging our skillsets that complement our educational strengths. How did we know we had these strengths? Because many of our own brothers had ventured to the Silicin Valley and succeeded in a similar economic environment.

    Where does America come into the picture? Like Mr. Saurabh Srivasta suggests, America has been a beacon of free market economics and capitalism for a long long time. A few years before, the Soviet Union collapsed and communism was routed out completely. Only one model of economics had stood the test of time and the writing was on the wall for people who knew and understood trade, economics and commerce.

    Is capitalism the best model of economic governance? Absolutely not. It has many ills and vices, all too well known to repeat here. But it still is the only form that has stood the test of time in creating wealth in societies and uplifting lives of common people. It is on full display in India of today as well. The Silicon Valley model that Mr. Srivastava talks about is what has been followed in India as well, and with great success.

    Despite your best efforts to take credit away from western nations, particularly America, by citing slavery as their only reason for economic growth, the truth speaks for itself. America has championed economic growth and human freedoms and rights for decades, and quite successfully. Most Indians have learnt to respect it and apply it in our own backyards, and so has Mr. Srivastava. That does not mean India is inferior to USA. India is great in its own right. Thats what makes them equal partners.

    Where I agree with you is that India did not become great because of USA. It became great due to its own volition, effort and intelligence. We should not attribute our success to anyone else because we deserve the credit. India was great much before the land that makes the USA was ever discovered and will always be. No question about it!

  2. Galeo Rhinus
    November 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    the entire article by Saurabh Srivastava is nonsensical… and your rebuttal – unfortunately – is a half-hearted defense of obnoxious restrictions placed on Indian citizens under Nehru et al… under the guise of “socialism” these restrictions allowed for the Indian capitalists to entrench themselves… the 1950s cemented the marriage of socio-capitalism… an oxymoron to those who are trapped in the left-right dichotomy…

    …I am disappointed that you continue to defend India’s policies from 1950 to 1991…

    …now 1991 – afoyb – let’s be clear… almost none of the so called “reforms” by Manmohan Singh were based on Indian interests… yes – there are collateral benefits – but let’s not get carried away and defend those reforms based on the successes of these collateral benefits…

    It is silly to defend those “good ol’ days” of the 1950s as it is silly to call the economic mayhem MMS1 (1991-1996) and MMS2 (2004-2010) have potentially unleashed on India… get ready for some *serious* problems ahead…

  3. November 10, 2010 at 8:09 am

    the entire article by Saurabh Srivastava is nonsensical

    Coming from the head of NASSCOM – this is a serious nonsense!

    your rebuttal – unfortunately – is a half-hearted defense of obnoxious restrictions

    In this post there is no defence or critique of the India’s policy framework of the last 60 years.

    Indian citizens under Nehru et al… under the guise of “socialism” these restrictions allowed for the Indian capitalists to entrench themselves…

    Like I have said before,

    1. Seeing this from an absolutist’s point – Yes, India did not make the best of choices.

    2. From ‘available’ choices, where post-colonial India’s choices were restricted – and India had to make way, it did what it did.

    3. The important point is we have what we have – and we need to move from Desert Bloc political models to Bharattantra. That is more important – and Nehru is hardly relevant anymore.

    get ready for some *serious* problems ahead

    What do you anticipate? That would be interesting.

     

  4. November 10, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Where I agree with you is that India did not become great because of USA. It became great due to its own volition, effort and intelligence. We should not attribute our success to anyone else because we deserve the credit. India was great much before the land that makes the USA was ever discovered and will always be. No question about it!

    I think this post is all about this one paragrapgh. To believe that India is nor caught in Asuric propaganda (maya in Sanskrit) is delusional. We are clearly entangled in maya.

    But the hurry with which all discredit for any failures is to Indians and all credit for any Indian success to non-Indians is interesting mental model and behaviour. And that is what am talking about.

  5. A fan of your blog
    November 10, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Anuraag Sanghi :

    the entire article by Saurabh Srivastava is nonsensical

    Coming from the head of NASSCOM – this is a serious nonsense!

    your rebuttal – unfortunately – is a half-hearted defense of obnoxious restrictions

    In this post there is no defence or critique of the India’s policy framework of the last 60 years.

    Indian citizens under Nehru et al… under the guise of “socialism” these restrictions allowed for the Indian capitalists to entrench themselves…

    Like I have said before,
    1. Seeing this from an absolutist’s point – Yes, India did not make the best of choices.
    2. From ‘available’ choices, where post-colonial India’s choices were restricted – and India had to make way, it did what it did.
    3. The important point is we have what we have – and we need to move from Desert Bloc political models to Bharattantra. That is more important – and Nehru is hardly relevant anymore.

    get ready for some *serious* problems ahead

    What do you anticipate? That would be interesting.
     

    Anuraag,

    How do you propose we go back to the Bharattantra system of governance you described in that post of yours. We have moved so far away from a such a model. What would be a roadmap to get back on track to Bharattantra. What are some of the impediments we will face? How will we overcome them?

    These are big issues and I do not think it is a practical system anymore, given where we are today. Nothing short of cataclysmic will need to happen to take us back to that system. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on how, if at all, we can go back to it.

  6. A fan of your blog
    November 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Galeo Rhinus :…now 1991 – afoyb – let’s be clear… almost none of the so called “reforms” by Manmohan Singh were based on Indian interests… yes – there are collateral benefits – but let’s not get carried away and defend those reforms based on the successes of these collateral benefits…
    It is silly to defend those “good ol’ days” of the 1950s as it is silly to call the economic mayhem MMS1 (1991-1996) and MMS2 (2004-2010) have potentially unleashed on India…

    Galeo Rhinus,

    The “reforms” thrust upon us as a nation were quid pro quo arrangements, which at the very heart of them, were beneficial to India. There was a long history of success with these, specifically with the Asiam tigers. India had been successful in resisting these reforms till that time, mainly because we were averse to indulgence from IMF and others. With a near bankrupt environment, we were forced to implement these reforms and really had very little choice with them. As of 1970, India was better situated than China economically. But China embraced the same reforms much earlier, and see where China is today, even with its shoddy human rights record. The “externalities” that you talk of are well known and not truly externalities in the sense of economic theory; they are core benefits of the liberalization process.

    The fact that the ABV Govt continued with the reforms is testimony to their effectiveness. It is now well acknowledged that, if India has to continue with its ascent in world economy and politics, the liberalization process has to continue. While there is no question that there are many ills of this process, the fact that over 300 million people (equivalent to population of the United States) have “escaped” from below the poverty line is a tremendous achievement. Had the population been in the 300 million range, where it actually should have been if our leaders had been more proactive, we would have been the richest nation in the world in a mere 20 years. Even though this is trickle-down economics at its best, it is the only system that has worked.

    The last bastion still remains liberalization of the PSU sector. However, given that there is such a big collusion between government power and corporate power, it is probably good that we are not taking the PSU sector to the dogs yet. It will be in our interest to make sure that the power is dissipated to many amongst the masses versus a few rich and influential people.

  7. November 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

    How do you propose we go back to the Bharattantra system of governance

    We don’t go back to भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra. The future is भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra.

    भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is not an anachronism (something that belongs or seems to belong to another time.). भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is something that will solve today’s problems – and is relevant today and important for our future.

    भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra is not about our ‘glorious’ past.

    We have moved so far away from a such a model. What would be a roadmap to get back on track to Bharattantra

    The reason why भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra became popular is because it was simple to implement. No impossible systems like Republican Democracy that modern Western ideology proposes.

    What भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra asks for is access to three essentials – ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land) for everyone.

    What it guarantees is four freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh (liberty) and धर्मं dharma (justice).

    This cant be difficult.

    These are big issues and I do not think it is a practical system anymore, given where we are today. Nothing short of cataclysmic will need to happen to take us back to that system.

    The key to this is – Remember Buddha.

    Buddha was someone who propounded भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra and spread this system far and wide. He did NOT wield any power, position or pelf. He found ways and means to implement this system without power, position or pelf.

    For instance – access to the three essentials – ज़र zar (meaning gold), जन jan (meaning people) and ज़मीन jameen (meaning land)

    Ensuring access to gold simply means that all restrictions, licenses, limits on gold ownership should be removed.

    Similarly there cannot be restrictions on sex and intrusion by the State in personal lives of the people.

    Land on the other hand must be handed over to users – and not to rentiers.

  8. Galeo Rhinus
    November 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    The paradigm of GDP and growth numbers – combined with the unlimited monetary control all governments and central banks exercise today – the notion of progress is illusory – Maya.

    About Vajpayee’s continuation of those policies bearing testimony…

    …there are two things which need to be understood. First, the BJP government operated with one hand tied behind its back. Second, in the limited transformation that the BJP embarked on – they chose to tactically accept the liberal paradigm…
    …because the liberal model indeed has collateral benefits… Gujarat is a showcase of a successful implementation of a liberal model… this tactical acceptance – IMO – is not necessarily an ideological endorsement of the so-called “liberalization”… too much power resides with the government… in fact – the mere fact that the divestment ministry was allowed to stay on for six years – despite every attempt to scuttle it shows that the BJP was at its core did not want a centralized top-down model for development…

    I look at BJP’s six year rule and find that they were able to exercise their autonomy – to some extent on foreign policy… The first expressway built in India wasn’t the Mumbai-Pune highway – but a freeway in Arunamachal Pradesh bordering Burma… the naval seal routes were changed to monitor SE Asia (Admiral Bhagwat’s “resistance” to these orders led to his sacking)… Iran’s Rafsanjani was given a red carpet welcome (in a continuation of an Indo-Persian alliance… and so on…)

    These changes to the foreign policy combined with a nuclear assertion (Narasimha Rao to his credit considered – but Congress insiders ensured failure) – has at a minimum allowed India to some autonomy as it makes a half-hearted alliance with the western powers in geo-politics… BJP did a few important things – despite a few important changes – economic and political restructuring was not one of them…

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