Rajesh Jain at the India Business Conference at Columbia University

~ ~ The Low Library, Columbia University
My colleague Rajesh Jain was a speaker at the the Eight Annual India Business Conference 2012 at Columbia University on 14th April in New York City. It was held at the Low Library, a US national historic landmark building (picture on the right.) I was at the conference and had the opportunity to meet Prof Jagadish Bhagwati and Prof Arvind Panagariya. I am pleased to say that Rajesh’s talk was very well-received. Here’s what he said.

Rajesh’s point is that we know what needs to be done to transform India, for it to become a developed country. He therefore talked about the “how”. We have to change India’s governance. As he put it, “. . . the road map is there, what’s missing is the driver; the vision is there; what’s missing is the leadership, and the will and vision to implement it . . . “.

He talked about the need to change the policies that got us into the present state. Those policies derived from the objectives of the kind of governments India has had — extractive and exploitative. I will not repeat his arguments here as you may as well hear it as Rajesh said it in the conference.

Let me add my two bits here. India had just about started moving in the late ’90s. It was not sprinting but neither was it stuck in the mud. A modest degree of liberalization had given it the freedom to break out of the socialist chains that tied it down since independence. Though still mostly chained, India was at last limping along, and many of us saw a glimmer of hope. We earnestly prayed that the economy will be further liberalized. Liberalization — the act of making free — was after all the whole idea behind India’s independence from British Raj.

But it was not to be. The Indian electorate, in its infinite wisdom, dealt a serious blow to India. The UPA, led by the Congress took over India’s fate in 2004. Then when post the 2009 elections the UPA continued to rule India, India’s fate was sealed. Where before it was merely limping, the UPA crippled India. India was not moving ahead, for sure. But what’s worse, the UPA began dragging the crippled India back. Read what’s happening to India now and weep for all the unnecessary misery that has been imposed on it by the UPA.

It will be a long time before India can recover the lost ground. But first we have to stop the back-slide. It is hard not to despair but we have to keep hoping that better sense will prevail among the voters of India, especially the middle-class which has the most to lose. We have to wake up to the reality and not pretend that the UPA led by Antonia Maino aka Sonia Gandhi is not actually hell-bent on destroying India for the personal enrichment of Ms Maino and company.

17 thoughts on “Rajesh Jain at the India Business Conference at Columbia University

  1. Thanks Atanu for sharing this recording. I was thinking of a new word that can pair with kakistocracy to describe India viz. .

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  2. Biggest divide – linguistic

    I work in the so called high tech city of Bangalore…good money is paid to a lot of people…

    But, just check and see the division…

    Telugu and Telugu Bhai-bhai, Tamil with Tamil Bhai-bhai, Bengali with Bengali bhai-bhai and so on…they just do not open up to someone from outside or trust anyone from outside their linguist identity…

    If this is the state of affairs with well paid, well educated people…imagine the India in its entirety

    It will not change…Nope…I can bet that for next 20/30 years…but it does not mean that India’s development will stop…there will be more development…but development does not mean change in mentality…

    No wonder we elect highly corrupt leaders like Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Sashi Tharoor, Jyoti Basu ….. and finally the most corrupt of them who presides over as the PM of India…

    Yatha praja…tatha Raja (as are the people, so is the leader)

    Btw, good speech…claps and claps and claps for Mr. Rajesh Jain…thats all…GOOD SPEECH

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  3. Jeevan,

    The bhai-bhai thing is more profound outside India, esp. US, Canada, UK and NZ where most Indians have migrated. In the US they have chapters of telegu, tamil, bengali associations in every state, even if it means just 4 families living there.

    One fine day someone proposed a brilliant idea of “All America Indians Association” to bring all these regional chapters together. They only interest.. is to protect their kin, jobs and monies in the US. The last thing they value is prosperity of India.

    True Indians can never outgrow the linguistic divide. It will be difficult to conclude whether thing is a good thing or a bad thing but definately bad for Governance and adminstration.

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  4. The local factory had an election and all 100 Irishmen voted for the Irish candidate whilst the one Italian voted for the Italian candidate.
    Later, an Irishman snuck up to the lone Italian and said, “You eyeties really stick together, dontcha ? “.

    There is no harm in having different associations, because there are major differences in between ever so many groups in India.

    From accents, to concepts, to food to movies to festivals to religious ceremonies….. everything IS different in different regions.

    Use it to celebrate, not to divide.

    My nephews, born in the US, have just moved on to college in Texas; they confirmed that several groups of this kind OF AMERICAN ORIGIN existed in their schools as well; eg. blacks with blacks, mexicans with their own etc. So don’t make a big deal about it.

    Look up and laugh once in a while; it really helps!!

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  5. This idea that for some mythic pan-Indian solidarity, those of Indian origin should let their regional and ethnic identity be sacrificed is a dangerous anti-freedom idea.
    India needs more federalism not more centralism soviet style.
    India is like Europe and it should strive towards the endgame where India is setup the way European Union is but with one major improvement – Fiscal union and single monitary policy. Instead of that India is like soviet union right now. Centrally mis-governed!!

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  6. Isn’t the bhai-bhai news great for India? Clearly we want a fault tolerant administration without depending on any central point of honesty (which will generally translate, over time, to a point of failure). To implement a fault tolerant system, let a bhai watch a non-bhai and vice versa. Rotate people in complementary or parallel roles from diverse ethnicities on a regular basis, using random selection, to prevent collusion. Mechanism design to prevent collusion seems like the economist’s primary job in India today. Sadly, experts in game theory and incentives do not seem interested in this problem.

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  7. Yes, Bhai-bhai is good news…but in the process finding the trees …loose the woods – INDIA …which you call the central failure…

    Yes, failure is good and that is what it is being led to, which many of us want to believe, but it won’t….because self serving, conniving and selfish land of people…, they will find ways to self serve again…how was Pakistan born anyway???

    Guess what?

    Which is the only state of India to have both IIT and IIM together? And what impact it had on neighboring states?

    West Bengal…impact on Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam …a big zero…like typical Bengali bhai-bhai style, they claimed up everything…

    Which is the first state in India to claim that their language is so “classical”? And what impact it had on other states?

    Andhra and Karnataka followed suit …

    What lessons learnt especially by other states from India?

    Loot the country at any cost. Learn something from Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Buddhdev Bhattacharya, Mulayam, Mamata Banerjee and the Left.

    Which is party is in power, join them. It does not matter what your politics is…join the center in looting the country…or you will be left out…

    Yatha raja…tatha praja again!!! (more corrupt and moral-less the people are, more corrupt the leader is and more “monies” come to you)

    A lesson to be learnt by states such as MP, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Assam et al.

    Learn something from this bhai-bhai culture and how they have benefited since Independence…

    Sorry to be so dramatic…but ain’t is the truth???

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  8. @Jeevan — unfortunately, you totally missed my point. Economists like Atanu should be studying game theory, collusion and incentives to design mechanisms by which the system can break out of the prisoner’s dilemma into a better local optimum and eventually work toward a global optimum. This is very complicated, even technically, and the best mathematical minds are needed to work on this. Basically, either one has to prove that at current levels of honesty and competence, working out of the pit is impossible, or that the solution will work under measurable notions and levels of dishonesty, and rates of honest people becoming dishonest. It must also be possible to seed the solution without massive buyouts and conversions. I am amazed economists waste their time peddling market capitalism as a religion that fixes all evils, instead of diving straight down into human nature and how to keep society working despite it.

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  9. Seadog and RC,

    Where were the 1 million Amru Indians and 100 dozen Indian Associations of all flavours, when Baba Ramdev was attacked.

    Where were they when Antonia Maino claimed she went to America for treatment while the truth was she was in Swiss followed by vist to the hospital in US where 3 Indian doctorS was asked to go on leave weeks before she was admitted.

    How many American Indians from Bay Area and NJ took to streets and expressed their disgust for the spineless leadership of India esp. given what happened in the recent past and still happening.

    How many Indian Americans made New York Times do a front page story to let Americans know the real horror stories of India sponsored by the congress party of India.

    How many American Indians actually paid to expose the real devils in current ruling party even if it means by paying to not so popular local radio and TV.

    Egyptians did. Libyans did. Even few tens of Yemenese protested in solidarity but the bladi Indians living outside India did not. I was in NY for 2 weeks when Ramdev was attacked. I was following the events in India by the minute. I was feeling restless and helpless. I could not do anything but for whatever monetary contribution I could make to keep the soldiers fed. You might call it impulsive, so be it. I was desperate.

    I saw sprinkling of bongs, gujjus, tams and golts coming to streets the following weekend trying some slogans of the likes we were forced to do in our state run schools where probably most of us studied. No, I am not a racist.

    Nothing was spontaneous.

    I would have expected few million dollars coming in for declaring a war on Indian state, consequences notwithstanding.

    Nothing happened.

    I would have expected American Indians to show their testicular fortitude by meeting the President of America and homeland security chief to declare the likes of sibbal, maino,chiddu, khursid, dogvijay, raul vinci and manmohan singh as terrorists, the way congress managed to declare Modi as a terroist. Even if this means actually spending a few million dollars from the pocket. But most Indians seem happy with their f.in linguistic and cultural associations and identities even decades after they have left India.

    TP:

    Other than pontificating on what economists should be doing, could you please let us all know what would you care to do to make some f.in difference to India. Surely if you are India you live in muck.

    India doesnt need game theorists and mathematicans like you to transform it. It needs people who have gut, spine and balls.

    Do you have it ?

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  10. tp,
    Like Atanu has mentioned many times on this blog, the solution to India’s ills is not a mystery. It is out in the open. Just like Mr Jain mentioned in his keynote speech it just needs to be executed. No need of complex analysis.
    From your comment it appears that you do not like “market capitalism”. Should India follow “command and control” instead?

    Loknath,
    Why should Indian Americans protest against injustice meeted out to Baba Ramdev? How will that change anything? What does shouting slogans in a foreign country achieve?
    “Yoon muththiyaan bandh lene se inquilaab nahi hota”
    Why are you assuming that all Indian American should have the same point of view vis-a-vis government in India as you?
    BTW, how is that thing in Egypt working out? It is just the beginning, what happened in Egypt is what happened in Iran 1979. Jeffersonian democracy in Egypt is not a likely outcome.

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  11. RC,

    Egyptians and Libyans in America didnt think like you do. Many who came out in the open incl. from fairer sex were born Americans. Yet they moved white house to tell the story of their social injustice to the world. When they decided to speak up, they probably didnt think how will that change Egypt. They also didnt shout non-sense slogans with tight fists on a weekend. They all came forward because they had balls (incl. women), gut, spine and shared concern for social justice for their brethern.

    The story of Egypt and trial of Mubarak still manages some headlines in national dailies in the US but major events of butchery and buggery involving 10’s of 000’s of real Indians doesnt find any mention anywhere. In India definately not because media is not free. Of course the congress machinery is active outside India too (the full time job of embassies and consular parties doubling up as congi workers). Indians in the past have shown their might on one occassion and I am much pleased with this man.

    Check this..

    http://narainkataria.blogspot.com/2009/01/third-consecutive-ignominious-defeat.html

    Let us know how many Indian Americans have a spine like this man has. This man was not a bay area technocrat, not a university professor, not an economist, not a naxalite, not a white house employee, not a game theorist, not a mathematican, not a popular blogger. I am sure most Indian Americans wont even have a clue of what this man has done and what it means to self respecting Indians. I respect him as much as I respect Bose.

    Some 10’s of Indian Americans work in the white house, some 000’s claim to be be millionnaires and capitalists but none uttered a word of protest, atleast for the sake of gratitude to their genetic origins. May I also say that since 9 in 10 Americans still continue to hold Indian passports and beg for favours in India on some or other pretext, so they should payback when its time. This holds true of Indians everywhere… UK, Oz, Canada and other greener pastures where Indian migrated with testicles in their throats.

    Remember the world is watching you and measuring you up. If you need some feedback given to me by notable people in the west on what they have to say about Indians in general, do let me know.

    I am not expecting resident non-Indians and Non-resident Indias to take up arms. I want them to speak, speak loud, speak in the media, organize debates on popular TV channels so that the world knows how Indian have been sodomized by thier own leaders..physically and mentally.

    The day Americans (who collectively do have more ethics than Indians) decide to boycott Indian products and services on ethical and moral grounds, India will get its act straight.

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  12. Loved the talk. Importantly, it focuses on what needs changing and the how of it. Moving forward with positive intent is what I like about the talk.

    Like

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