This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
From October 2008:
A year or so ago, the Indian columnist and former Communist politician Ashok Mitra wrote of how he was at one of those TV shows so beloved of Indian channels where a hyped up anchor tries desperately to make grown men and women throw hissy fits at each other like spoiled six year old kids.
In that particular show, Mitra said, there was one of the noveau riche of the Great Indian Muddle Class, one of the many who have battened on the alleged economic miracle of the last couple of decades since we abandoned socialism. This man, who boasted of his immense shoe collection, was challenged by some of the others, who asked if he felt justified in buying so many shoes when thousands went barefoot because of the lack of wherewithal to purchase them.
Arrogantly, this man declaimed that he didn’t give a damn about anyone else. He had his money and he intended to get the full enjoyment of it, and to hell with all those who couldn’t afford what he could.
Well, that article by Mitra brought in a storm of replies – not condemning the shoe lover, as you might think, but supporting him. All those men and women, good citizens all, said that the shoe fetishist had every right to his wealth and that there was no point in thinking about anyone else. The nation, they said, could only move forward as a whole if each person worked for himself and himself alone.
And over the years, that mindset seems to have only been reinforced, with the state abandoning any semblance of even-handedness in its treatment of the populace. In simple terms, the more money you have, the better you are as a person. India’s alleged economic miracle is simply one of privatisation run riot and the common man (aam admi, in Hindi, which also translates ironically to Mango Man) being sucked dry.
Well, guess what? Nemesis strikes.
With the stock market crashing, and crashing, and crashing, nobody can expect me, at least, not to rejoice over the plight of the shoe fetishists and others who have been growing fat on unearned wealth, as I wrote about a few days ago. And nobody can expect me not to rejoice over the plight of the MBA graduates who might suddenly actually have to earn a proper living doing real work, instead of sitting back watching their overblown salaries roll in. I rather fancy some aspirants to business colleges might be having second thoughts right now. How does dentistry sound as a career?
And I’m very, very happy also because those people who owned no shares but who claimed to feel national pride at the soaring stock market indices have to go seeking a new source of pride for themselves.
I’m even happier at the response of our estimable Finance Minister, who, like our (unelected) “prime minister”, is an “eminent economist”, and who keeps telling our investors not to panic and quit. As this pair knows, because it is they who are responsible, hardly any Indians own stock. Most aren’t even aware what a stock exchange is. Almost all the stock is owned by what are called Foreign Institutional Investors, which are basically holding companies with offices in Mauritius (why Mauritius? Because – as I blogged about a year or two ago – any firm with an office in Mauritius doesn’t need to pay taxes in India). It is these unsecured investments which created the myth of India’s “soaring foreign exchange reserves” and the surging stock indices…nothing more. These firms, naturally, will pull out their investments when stocks fall. Nothing the prime and finance ministers do will have any effect on them. So I can absolutely expect the situation to get much, much worse for the money market before it gets better.
We’re witnessing the demise of the capitalist system, people. It will take a while, but bandit capitalism is done for, and the other sort will undoubtedly follow.
I used to read the reports of the demise of socialism, and I used to think those reports slightly premature.
He who laughs last laughs longest. And I’m grinning now.
(And, no, I don’t give a damn if some greedy little idiot loses home and shirt to the stock market. The stupid berk deserves all he gets.)