Unlearning the Economics as We were Taught

I think the biggest challenge we face is the process of unlearning. Wise men of the Wall Street pontificated in a manner that the Sermon on the Mount paled in comparison. The sermon is atleast three generations old and has been itched in our folklore as taught, researched and proliferated by creating the ‘selection criterion’ which, as one Mr. Darwin informs us, led to the survival of those who won this process of ‘natural selection’. The inviolability of the gospel has been ensured by the enlightened media-owned and manned by the graduates of the Wall Street school of management. If loss of a child’s innocence is the price to be paid for the TRPs-so be it. It is personal proclivities, deviant psyche and perversion of the few, now decides how should we bring up children, run families and marriages-thanks to M/s Ekta Kapur and Karan Johar, brought up with silver spoon and chose to be single-they tell us how Indian families should be run and that there is nothing wrong if institution of marriage is sent down under and make decisions on the model of societal and social transactions.

I have observed many traditional Indian business families- the way they managed their monies in day-today matters and it looks so very different from the way I looked at my own spending habits-though my financial status ranks nowhere in comparison to theirs. Then this at times comes perhaps because of the feeling ‘already there’ of theirs against ‘this thrift won’t in any case take me there’ so why bother. This infact gets compounded when you see beautiful citi ad targeting Indians-a young man taking his parents to their first overseas vacation-well that becomes a goal to achieve-incidentally on a credit card. Mr Ramadoss-no good in banning ads on smoke, alcohol and narcotics-this dream sell is worse than all these put together.

The extravagance and opulence has been to a large extent been on the basis of deceit and knavery at the extreme-the gullible trusted and the knaves who were trusted used age old art of ‘confidence trickster’-one pioneered by the thugs. Incidentally the hallmark of thuggery was the faith- of thugs in themselves and the fact that they have divine mandate to do so, being able to lure-the gullible by winning over their confidence and being ruthless-when they went for the kill for the entrapped. How similar it has been with our dream sellers of our banking system!!!!

Remember Arthur Hailey’s ‘Overload’ where the key offenders are profiled as people who have large houses and large cars, forced in to a life style which forces them in to ‘meter tampering’. How true it is! (Incidentally, American Express, which caters to credit card business targetted at the wealthy reports that it upped its provisions for credit-card losses from $810 million to $1.5 billion in the latest quarter, a sign that even upscale consumers are having trouble).

An Indian who had earned USD 1.2 mn a year ended his and his family’s life last week in US. Well we all thought that 1.2 mn $ is decent sum for someone to lead a comfortable life. But not unlike the villains of old bollywood movies, where the parasitic hangers on used to cling on to the rich and get them in to bad habits.  Gullible families were by the persistence of media and aggressive marketing were lured in to what was desirable but not affordable. Has the sub-prime crisis not reminiscent of the ponzi scheme-you need to get in to unsustainable chain of events where those on the vanguard has to push out the frontier out get more trapped/tricked just to ensure that you have veneer over you of people who are weaker than you-it is such chain of implosive collapse that present financial crisis has been engendered.

In days when my hairline and waistline were healthier, in a fit of philosophical angst post liberalisation (early 90s, I think in Kanpur), I noticed how a basic law of mechanics help us to distinguish between the orient and the occident thought-Whenever we restrict a degree of freedom, there would be a reaction: Indian concept of mardyadaa has been the same-our upbringing has been on how should we conduct and restrain our lives and carnal desires-husband-wife, parent-child… to how to spend … so on & so forth-infact every social intercourse and the very act of living has maryadaa circumscribing it. Whereas the western thought has been to remove all the restrictions-so we have a society where divorces are record high, live-in relationships outnumber marriages, children not out of marriage equal those out of the consecrated relationships.

So the same mindset is reflected when there is enlightened clamour of less regulation and doing away with what we have. West are exhorting Indians to fix what have been serving well, getting in to a scenario where old laws do not apply and the new ones do not exist.

So it goes…

(2009-10)

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