Economic Cost of Indian democracy – 1% economic growth

Democracy in India reduces its overall rate of economic growth by about 1%. Startling as it might sound, it is a good price to pay. International investors as well as companies love to put their money in a non-authoritative regime. This is evident by the fact that although everyone has money in China, they have faith in India. Can we overtake China? Definitely. Is it a distant dream? Not at all. We’re only like 15 years behind China when it comes to the pace of economic reforms. The primary difference is that while China’s reforms are investment centric, India’s reforms are people centric. This is where we pay the price for democracy. Not to mention that China’s workforce is going to reduce by about 50% in the next 30 years, whereas ours will effectively double in the same time period.

India is a land of beliefs, languages, colors, and their associated idiosyncrasies. On one hand we have the pro-divestment, pro-globalization Government in power, while on the other hand we have the left. The Left has its own concerns; concerns which bear their own merit. It is hard to please everyone in a democracy. Indian democracy is corrupt, filthy, inefficient, lethargic, and polluted. But, things still get done. We are still the world’s second fastest growing economy, and at conservative counts, are growing at the rate of about 8% per annum.

I have made a brief, albeit slightly educated post on India’s economic growth before. Experts believe that a democracy can never achieve more than a 9-10% economic growth rate at all. I would like to study this verdict in detail, and would certainly talk about it when I do. A very good quote by Gurcharan Das, a prolific writer – “In the case of China, you have a government which is inducing this miracle, in India it is despite the government”. He goes on to say that the Indian economy grows at night, when the Government is asleep.

Why then, does India’s finance minister Dr. Chidambram believe that we don’t pay a price for democracy, rather the lack of it? Of course, he has a very rational view on the whole thing from the perspective of a democracy in India that is actually authoritative at certain granularities; a democracy where some people are still afraid of exercising their fundamental rights. Is it true that a democracy can exist without any ills of its own? Is it possible to be truly democratic? Is it possible to have a democracy where everyone is happy?

What changes the equation when we consider the economic synergies created between India and the developed, industrialized west? Why does the newly awake America love India so much? It is a fact that Indians rank second in their liking for America after Americans! Whereas 83% of Americans like America’s ways, about 71% Indians endorse it, according to an article in the latest Newsweek. Who wouldn’t want to do business with a country that likes their way of doing business?

Things are changing, and I am happy that we paid, and continue to keep paying the price for maintaining the world’s largest democracy. Post-colonial India has evolved. We have changed, and have even been through an authoritative regime, only to see our growth rate slow down further. The world loves us, and we are taking over the world by exporting intelligence and our way of (overcoming obstacles in) life.

In the words of Gurcharan Das – For 3,000 years, we have been working with knowledge that’s basically invisible, so it might just be that our core competence is invisible.

My Great Clips experience

Hair Care is a $55 billion+ industry in the US. It is also akin to the restaurant business in that it is highly recession resistant, and is almost always a guaranteed source of revenue if it reaches out to a good demographic.

I have a strange aversion to female hair dressers/stylists because of one bad experience. Nevertheless, I decided to give the new neighborhood Great Clips a shot because they were offering a haircut for $7. Now, each Great Clips franchise is independently run and offers the same kind of ambience. Every store maintains a list of names and addresses of their customers. This is not shared among the different locations, and I am guessing serves to maintain the spending/services received profile of every customer at a location.

In addition to regular hair care services, the company has also forged “strategic” alliances with product companies that market different hair care products for both men and women. And, what better way to reach out to potenial customers than to offer them a free trial of a shampoo or hair thickening lotion! I was offered a free shampoo as soon as I sat in one of the chairs.

Another thing I noticed was that my stylist was actually certified by Great Clips as a qualified hair stylist. This is something I have never seen before, at least at any run of the mill cheap salon. I was fairly impressed, and discussed hair care with her. She recommended me a particular shampoo and hair lotion, and even offered to give me a free trial of the lotion.

In the end, I walked out of the salon spending more than what I expected to, and wondering about how, for the first time, I actually enjoyed being a customer at a chain than an independent establishment. I am pretty impressed with the way American chains work. They are able to capitalize on a brand name with so much efficiency. This also made me wonder if there was anything similar back home in India. All I could come across in my search was a fairly new company called Brushman (India) Limited. I am not sure about the size of the hair care industry in India, but with such a large population, I am guessing it is pretty big. Now, it’s another thing that the biggest chunk of that industry rests with small little roadside barbershops offering hair cuts for a dollar.

Meaning of life

I am deeply interested in philosophy pertaining to the way of life, along with theology and theomorphisms. Being an engineer with a good amount of exposure to biology, I now tend to think of life with a greater metaphysical twist in reasoning. A lot of my friends don’t agree with the crudeness with which I describe life as primarily being a set of complex chemical reactions; all gone haywire. I respect life, and my scientific, causality based, and somewhat rational approach to finding the answers to questions about life have really helped me, or at least that is what I want to believe.

A lot of philosophers have spent a lot of time trying to find out the meaning of life. Why are we alive? Why do we die? Is death inevitable (although a very recent research has isolated a gene that inhibits programmed cell death!) ? Questions of this sort have always haunted each one of us at one or the other stage of life. There is no concrete answer simply because we do not understand the mechanism of life. We can only restrict ourself to our existential state of reference and try to formulate theories. Life could very well be an accident.

What makes us believe that we are alive? Is it because we move? Is it because we die? Would it be right to say that it is death that defines life? Maybe our life on earth is the spiritual precursor to a real life somewhere else. Maybe life on earth is a way to separate or maybe conjoin soul with mind in the grand scheme. I would love to get answers to some of these doubts and questions.

Now, I talk about life a lot when I am with friends, and tonight was no different. It started with one of my friends making a comment that he just cannot understand females. I have to admit; I have no problems understanding people. I believe that we are all minions working tirelessly to reap the most benefits out of this supposedly limited life we have been “gifted” with. Now, all you have to do to understand people is to put yourself in their shoes. Easier said than done, this is a sure-shot way to understand anyone’s behavior. I don’t think anyone is born evil. In fact, I can argue with anyone about the definition of evil. Saying that something is evil or a sin is like calling someone ugly. No matter how ugly someone appears to you, there’ll always be a large number of other people who find beauty in that someone. Who are we to judge someone or something?

Sure, the humans in power, either politically, monetarily, spiritually, or professionally would love you to believe that you have a deficiency. This is how they are able to force their ideas and “threat” down to the others. Humans, by design, love to follow orders. We yearn for spirituality. We crave to be controlled. We seek order; order through external authority. Some people are beyond that and they are the ones who use their persuasive powers to counter equality. What makes something ethical and/or right? Again, what’s ethical for me could be a sin to you.

My take tonight on the whole meaning of life issue wasn’t any different from one I realized later on after I searched the Internet for “meaning of life”. I believe that we are on earth to find out the answers to questions regarding life. We have achieved our goal from life when we run out of questions to seek answers to. At that point, it is time to die. We have completed our objective. Different people have different ways of finding answers to their questions. Some believe in leadership, some in following orders, some in doing what they deem as good to others. In the end, we do not deserve to breathe any longer if we run out of questions.

Sometimes I feel that I don’t have any more questions about life …

Away from the Sun…

It’s down to this
I’ve got to make this life make sense
Can anyone tell what I’ve done
I miss the life
I miss the colors of the world
Can anyone tell where I am

‘Cause now again I’ve found myself
So far down, away from the sun
That shines into the darkest place
I’m so far down, away from the sun again
Away from the sun again

I’m over this
I’m tired of living in the dark
Can anyone see me down here
The feeling’s gone. There’s nothing left to lift me up
Back into the world I’ve known

‘Cause now again I’ve found myself
So far down, away from the sun
That shines into the darkest place
I’m so far down, away from the sun
That shines to light the way for me
To find my way back into the arms
That care about the ones like me
I’m so far down, away from the sun again

Oh no,
Yeah,
Oh no…

It’s down to this
I’ve got to make this life make sense
And now I can’t tell what I’ve done

And now again I’ve found myself
So far down, away from the sun
That shines to light the way for me

‘Cause now again I’ve found myself
So far down, away from the sun
That shines into the darkest place
I’m so far down, away from the sun
That shines to light the way for me
To find my way back into the arms
That care about the ones like me
I’m so far down, away from the sun again

Oh no,
Yeah,
I’m gone

– 3 Doors Down