Saturday, December 26, 2009

Riding the Elephant...

Title derived from Shashi Tharoors - The Elephant, the tiger and the cellphone. (Currently reading)

I'm in an enamored phase - with my country. India. Call it the rub off effect of the two back to back books I just read - 'We are like that only' - Rama Bijapurkar and 'The elephant the tiger and the cellphone'. While the former turned out to be a light read given the industry I work in, the latter was a wonderful experience with its sophisticated language, insightful details and substantiated opinions. Shashi Tharoor is an intelligent man, one Ive grown to respect through the years.

Ive begun understanding Why we are like that only! from a few culturally rooted customs in India which our parents pass down to us. Surely we are a confusing lot, the really rich and the not so rich, the middle class and its upper and lower, the have some's and the have not's. But one things for certain -- India is represented in its plurality, its heterogeneity and the intertwining of cultures, religions, languages and the juxtaposition of classes. Tharoor says The Spanish speak Spanish, French speak French and Indians speak Marathi, Bengali, Gujarathi, Parsi, Sindhi and so on. So what defines brand India?

We know that the purpose of a brand remains the ability to spontaneously associate values, images and differentiators to a product offering. Say Life Insurance, and your likely to say LIC or say LIC and your likely to think trust, stability and security. Either way, your associating a brand with a category or vice versa. Unfortunately, think of brand India and we're likely to come up with myriad answers - foreigners are likely to conjure images of people squatting on public places, poverty drizzled all over the cityscape while Indians are likely to think of a more westernized answer - the IT/BPO rise of a new generation, Slumdog Millionaire etc.

India's getting richer -- but where is it going? We're certainly not investing in stocks or mutual funds. They're too risky a proposition for our conservative liking. The number of billionaires in India nearly doubled to 52 in 2009 and their combined net worth reached $276 billion, or a quarter of the country's GDP, the India Rich List published by Forbes magazine revealed. Not much of this money's going out of India though, most are settled within the country itself.

As we move into another year -- this one hopeful of a recovering economy, hesitant to exult much too early until results are backed up with a tremendous final quarter. Things do look good on the financial front though - the GDP forcecast exceeded expectations and stocks have slowly begun giving positive returns as well. Retail Investors had many opportunities of rallies and short term gains with a see-sawing index. A very senior person at a Broking firm I once presented to once told me "We guy get scared when the sensex plateaus - its when there are ups and downs that we're really geared up" Well, he sure had plenty opportunities this year.

I want to see reform in 2010. Delivery of promises. Burial of Ajmal Kasab. Burning to death actually. I want to see the end of the Trial and want my city to finally have its peace.

I want my country not to back down at Copenhagen in the future -- maintain its resolve on issues that are important. I want India to rise to the questions that surround its very existence - the success or failure of democracy, the globalization of its civilization and the threats to Indians from within India itself. I want this bird of gold*, to take flight.

(*bird of gold - name borrowed from Mc. Kinsey Global Institute report 2008)


Just another Indian said...

take my advice ... do not invest in stocks ... its ppl like U who get blown away when the floodgates open ....

in india everyone thinks that they know the stock market and can earn a few bucks here and there ...

but it is such a dirty speculation game played by dirty crooks .. that the retail investor doesnt stand a chance

CrazyDiamond said...

oh nice. I like it.
The post that is.

I also want more financial freedom. In every developing economy, as it advances to a developed one, the only people who ever make money worthy enough to be the morgans, rothschilds etc are those that invest in the stock market or the property market. No other way.

We need the financial transparency, accountability and freedom to do that in India.

Roy said...

I too have been reading a lot about india lately but mostly history, michael wood, darymple and albina.

Para mi, we need more freedom to invest in whatever we deem fit...more liberalization of capital markets

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