Friday, August 20, 2004

After a long break...OK not so long break

Anil Ambani. What is right about the speech? It is realistic. That's true. Years and years of socialist rhetoric - idle chatter at that - has banaoed us into thinking that all we need to do is to have a semblance of the objects, structures, processes that other countries have. It doesn't matter how good it is. I don't say that we haven't achieved anything. We have achieved much since 1947 given that 200+ years of colonial rule courtesy the Brits saw us living thru stagnant GDP, declining health standards, decline of knowhow generation, immiseration of the peasantry, five famines the last of which occured during 1942 - so much for the benefits of colonialism. But whom do we have to blame after Independence? Ourselves and only ourselves. Did the light escape every PM from Nehru to Rajiv? Did no one ever understand the utility of a freer economic regime? Did no one ever realise the need to grow and hit the high notes? To be the best at something?

That's what Anil Ambani is asking today. In the 80s Dhirubhai once asked if he was happy about doing well said something to the effect that when India had 10 companies with a paid up capital >$100 million, he would smile.

Anil isn't the first person to be critical of our record. Some have made living out of spewing "India Stinking" articles for over 15 years now. A guy who won the Beam BcSride Prize is an expert at this sort of vacuous writing. Anil is different - way different. He is educated abroad and well travelled around the world. He has gone against the grain and fought his family in personal matters. He has put his money where his mouth his and done his bit to make Reliance the staggeringly successful company it continues to be. He has entered the political arena instead of staying behind the scene to pull strings for sundry political favors. He like his late father and his brother treats his company's shareholders and employees and other stakeholders with all due respect. He mayn't be self-made like his father was, but it's just one generation removed and a fame and fortune acquired through the market not thru dubious means - like smuggling antiques or earning commissions on big deals. If we need youth, freshness and competence at the helm, why not Anil Ambani? How about a Mulayam Singh mediated practical 3rd Front. It would be the confluence of economic right-headedness, rural touch, nationalistic fervor and genuine participation from the educated and up and coming Dalits - the sort that Ambedkar so powerfully sought to encourage - Educate, Organise and Agitate? Contrast this with the old time satraps and carpet baggers of the Congress who now with Rahul and Sonia around are looking forward to another 35 years of mediocrity?

The need to excel hasn't been nurtured by the Congress or the Bam Phront (Bengali Colloquial for Left Front). The Congress culture is built upon sycophancy and entitlement. The Left Front is so mired in reactionary ideology that any talk of doing something well is dismissed as a bourgeois/reactionary impulse.

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