Posts Tagged 'Vaidyanathan'

Why the decline of the West is best for us – and them

Source: The Economist & McKinsey

Why the decline of the West is best for us – and them

By R Vaidyanathan

R Vaidyanathan is professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and can be contacted at The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organisation.

Ten years ago, America had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. Now it has no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash. Or so the joke goes.
Only, it’s no joke. The line is pretty close to reality in the US. The less said about Europe the better.Both the US and Europe are in decline. I was asked by a business channel in 2008 about recovery in the US. I mentioned 40 quarters and after that I was never invited for another discussion.
Recently, another media person asked me the same question and I answered 80 quarters. He was shocked since he was told some “sprouts” of recovery had been seen in the American economy.
It is important to recognise that the dominance of the West has been there only for last 200-and-odd years. According to Angus Maddison’s pioneering OECD study, India and China had nearly 50 percent of global GDP as late as the 1820s. Hence India and China are not emerging or rising powers. They are retrieving their original position.

The dollar is having a rollercoaster ride at present. Reuters
In 1990, the share of the G-7 in world GDP (on a purchasing power parity basis) was 51 percent and that of emerging markets 36 percent. But in 2011, it is the reverse. So the dominant west is a myth.
Similarly, the crisis. It is a US-Europe crisis and not a global one. The two wars – which were essentially European wars – were made out to be world wars with one English leader commenting that ‘we will fight the Germans to the last Indian’.
In this economic scenario, countries like India are made to feel as if they are in a crisis. Since the West says there’s a crisis, we swallow it hook, line and sinker.
But it isn’t so. At no point of time in the last 20 years has foreign investment – direct and portfolio – exceeded 10 percent of our domestic investment. Our growth is due to our domestic savings which is again predominately household savings. Our housewives require awards for our growth not any western fund manager.
The crisis faced by the West is primarily because it has forgotten a six-letter word called ‘saving’ which, again, is the result of forgetting another six letter word called “family”. The West has nationalised families over the last 60 years. Old age, ill health, single motherhood – everything is the responsibility of the state.
When family is a “burden” and children an “encumbrance,” society goes for a toss. Household savings have been negative in the US for long. The total debt to GDP ratio is as high as 400 percent in many countries, including UK. Not only that, the West is facing a severe demographic crisis. The population of Europe during the First World War was nearly 25 percent and today it is around 11 percent and expected to become 3 percent in another 20 years. Europe will disappear from the world map unless migrants from Africa and Asia take it over.
The demographic crisis impacts the West in other ways. Social security goes for a toss since people are living longer and not many from below contribute to their pensions through taxes. So the nationalisation of families becomes a burden on the state.
European work culture has become worse with even our own Tata complaining about the work ethic of British managers. In France and Italy, the weekend starts on Friday morning itself. The population has become lazy and state-dependent.
In the UK, the situation is worse with drunkenness becoming a common problem. Parents do not have control over children and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation in London said: “There are all signs of arteriosclerosis of a culture and a civilisation grown old. Me has taken precedence over We and pleasure today over viability tomorrow.” (The Times:8 September ).
Married couples make up less than half (45 percent) of all households in the US, say recent data from the Census Bureau. Also there is a huge growth in unmarried couples and single parent families (mostly poor, black women). Society has become dysfunctional or disorganised in the West. The government is trying to be organised.
In India, society is organised and government disorganised. Because of disorganised society in the West the state has to take care of families. The market crash is essentially due to the adoption of a model where there is consumption with borrowings and no savings. How long will Asian savings be able to sustain the western spending binge?
According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal (10 October 2011), nearly half of US households receive government benefits like food stamps, subsidised housing, cash welfare or Medicare or Medicaid (the federal-state health care programmes for the poor) or social security.
The US is also a stock market economy where half the households are investors and they have been hit hard by bank and corporate failures. Even now less than 5 percent of our household financial savings goes to the stock market. Same in China and Japan.
Declining empires are dangerous. They will try to peddle their failed models to us and we will swallow it since colonial genes are very much present here. You will find more Indians heading global corporations since India is a very large market and one way to capture it is to make Indian sepoys work for it.
A declining West is best for the rest and also for the West, which needs to rethink its failed models and rework its priorities. For the rest—like us—the fact that the West has failed will be accepted by us only after some western scholars tell us the same. Till then we will try to imitate them and create more dysfunctional families.
We need to recognise that Big Government and Big Business are twin dangers for average citizens. India faces both and they are two asuras we need to guard against. The Leftists in the National Advisory Council want all families to be nationalised and governed by a Big State and reform marketers of the CII variety want Big Business to flourish under crony capitalism. Beware of the twin evils since both look upon India as a charity house or as a market and not as an ancient civilisation.

Buffett should learn our ethos of giving

Buffett should learn our ethos of giving

R Vaidyanathan

First Published : 22 Mar 2011 11:09:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 23 Mar 2011 01:29:02 AM IST

The rootless wonders are agog with ecstasy that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are visiting India. They will not only explore about investing in India but also urge the Indian business to allocate at least half of their wealth to charity and this year is called year of ‘giving’.
It is important that both of them are educated about our system and ethos of giving which exist from ancient times and do not need lectures through business channels which live and even die for TRPs.
Buffett should know that the greatest hero of all times in India in our puranas is Karna who gave all and his name is interchangeably used for the art of giving in many Indian languages.
Ratan Tata may be shy to point out to Bill Gates that ‘the Tata founders bequeathed most of their individual wealth to many trusts they created for the greater good of India and its people’. So is the case with G D Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj. This may not be trumpeted by Kumara Mangalam Birla and Rahul Bajaj. As a perceptive blogger Sandeep Singh says that as early as 1895 Dayal Singh Majithia bequeathed away three million rupees for noble causes including new ventures by Indians. Actually Majithia was an early ‘venture capitalist’ in India even though not many know about him.
We also find that Swami Vivekananda could not have gone to USA but for local business people funding him and the weightlifters and wrestlers could not have won gold medals at the recent Commonwealth Games but for local traders financing their clubs in remote parts of Orissa and Manipur. Many may not have heard about Ekal Vidyalayas which are one-teacher schools functioning in remote parts of India, particularly in tribal areas. They are in as many as 35,000 villages, educating more than one million children. Take the other example of Satya Sai initiative to bring water to Rayalseema using private donations. The Ninth Plan document of Planning Commission says, “The Sathya Sai Charity has set an unparalleled initiative of implementing on their own without any budgetary support a massive water supply project with an expenditure of `3 billion to benefit 731 villages, etc.”
Later this project was extended to Chennai costing more than `600 crore. Ramakrishna Mission runs around 200 hospitals serving nearly one crore people annually mostly in rural areas. It also runs around 1,200 educational institutions serving more than 3.5 lakh students of which more than 1.25 lakh are in rural areas.
Nadars engaged in business in Tamil Nadu have funded hundreds of educational institutions and hospitals and so the Marwaris/Chettiars/Katchis/Bhoras all over India.
A lot of our education, healthcare, arts, literature and spirituality efforts/ventures have been fully financed by businessmen who are even shy to talk about it. Herein is the secret to the fundamental ethos of giving in India. It is done without advertisements and trumpets. Actually in our tradition the giver is reluctant to talk about it since it embarrasses the receiver. The fact that it could demean the receiver is reason enough for the giver to keep silent. Remember the way Nitish Kumar reacted when the donation from Gujarat for flood relief in Bihar was advertised? Nitish Kumar recalled our tradition of giving without revealing.
It is told in our ancient wisdom that one should give till the hand bleeds and one should not talk about it. The action will speak even centuries later. The upstarts of today write on every tubelight their names before donating it to a temple or call press conferences to declare their ‘intentions’. That is the US culture. Everything from lovemaking to charity should be advertised and shown on prime time television. Then only you prove that the spouses and receivers are happy.
But why this sudden wallowing in self pity and whining about giving? It all started with the Indira Gandhi Prize being given to Bill Gates on July 25, 2009, and wherein the chairman of National Advisory Council Sonia Gandhi read a speech on the need for Indian businessmen to give for charity (like Bill Gates) and it was published in full by Wall Street Journal and a columnist in that paper pontificated the “rich in India to open their wallets”. Leaders and media in India who are clueless about Indian ethos are setting the Gates and Buffett’s to further pontificate to our business people.
It is interesting that Bill Gates who has operations in Cayman islands and Reno of Nevada to minimise or evade taxes to be paid to the United States government is enthusiastic about “Giving by India Inc”. Warren Buffett is planning to give his dollar assets to the Gates foundation which will reduce estate taxes in the future. Interestingly both of them are some of the few US business barons supporting estate taxes. It is not clear who are their dinner guests in India. If it is Forbes billionaires from India we hope Shahid Balwa of the Spectrum fame is not going to be there!
Somebody should also tell Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that India Inc constitutes less than 15 per cent of our GDP and the real growth masters are small partnership and proprietorship firms which are deeply involved in giving. Actually India Inc in our economy is like an item number in a Bollywood movie. Good to talk about on TV but only has the glamour quotient. Also can we suggest to Gates and Buffett to stop investing in firms in tax havens since that sucks away billions of dollars of money from countries like India. If they really want to help India then they should start a campaign to close down all these tax havens rather than having expensive company-paid dinners at five star hotels of our country urging Balwas to give.
(The writer is professor, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore.
The views are personal)

Failure of American financial institutions is a reason to rejoice – Prof. R. Vaidanathan

An interesting read.

……..The decline of these institutions — many more to come — is the best thing that has happened to countries such as India, which are poised to play a larger role in global financial affairs.

Let us have some facts. India had 25% of global income in 1500 through 1700; by 1820, this was down to 17% and by 1951 to 5%; in 1998, the country’s share stood at 5.5% (according to Angus Maddison in The World Economy: A millennial Perspective, OECD Development Centre Studies -2007; Table-B-20 Appendix B; pp263).

We need to reclaim our position in the world — it is just returning to where we were. By 2025, we should have at least 25% of global GDP………….