What Should Rational Indian Savers Do?

The World Bank and IMF consider India to be among the fastest growing world economies.

Recently India humiliated Pakistan by invading its airspace. Also, India became one of the rare countries capable of destroying low-orbit satellites.

India is on its way to becoming the most populated country. It already has more youth than any other country on the planet, offering a possibility that the manufacturing heart of the world will eventually move to India.

India is believed to have had a lead in Information Technology sector since 1990’s. Among the highest paid people in the US are Indians.

India has more graduates, engineers and PhDs than any other country on the planet.

All the above should warm our hearts, except that a strange sense of impotence actually dawns, for to an Indian the above is not his reality. Far from it.

The more he thinks about the grand successes of India, the more he suffers from inferiority complex.

His only escape is to vicariously feel successful by imagining himself to be a part of the Indian collective. He can then—while still living in slums, going out in the open to relieve himself, and existing in extreme stress and humiliation of everyday tyranny from everyone around him and the oppressive society and the state—feel glorious and successful.

Alas, you can ignore the reality and fool yourself into feeling elated by imagining an alternative world, but you cannot deny the reality for too long.

In today’s world of technology, India’s intrusion into Pakistan was actually a humiliation. India tried to imitate what Israel did 38 years back. India failed. Indian government lied, repeatedly and shamelessly.

There is nothing to be proud of about India’s nuclear capabilities. It is a copied technology from the US, and has been in existence for 75 years. Today developing such capabilities is possible for anyone with enough interest and financial resources. North Korea with a population no more than that of New Delhi has comparable capabilities. Pakistan has more nuclear war-heads than India.

It is indeed true that Indians in the US are extremely successful. That is nothing to be proud of, for it merely shows that the very best Indians emigrate. In comparison, the best Chinese return to China and form the backbone of world-class companies. Chinese companies now find prominent positions among the world’s best. Indian companies are nowhere in that list.

India might have the most engineers and PhDs but what use is it if they apply for jobs of peons? In reality most Indian degrees are not worth the paper they are printed on. People still take them for there is a new-age superstition that somehow acquisition of a certificate automatically leads to a high-paying job.

Indian unemployment continues to rise. Despite that twelve million new people join the workforce every year, only a fraction gets one. Many of those jobs require no more skills than required of an Amazon delivery person, a security guard or a peon.

Where rubber meets the road—in terms of economic growth—there really isn’t much to show. While India might have built the highest statue in the world, not many people know of a new factory that has come up.

A lot of economic growth is nothing but fudged numbers or government expense, which has no future.

What India is staring at is a bleak future. Not only there is nothing in the horizon to underpin future growth, Indian companies are failing and are dependent on direct or indirect government help. This is a recipe for wealth-destruction.

There is a reason why Indians have historically bought gold. It has simply made very little sense to invest in the Indian economy, for it does not offer positive returns. Lack of skilled and trustworthy labour and consistent interference of the state and the society makes lives of entrepreneur suffocating.

India grew over the last twenty years mostly because of the free-gift of western technology. The fruit of which have been used up.

Indian economy is staring at the abyss of stagnation and economic decline.

The biggest problem India faces is in the continual deterioration of institutions, the political environment and social structure. This deterioration had continued even when the economy was growing. Religious, tribal, and sectarian fanaticism is rapidly increasing, the destructive consequences of which will be increasingly visible with time.

Without functioning institutions—judiciary, the police, etc.—the foundations of the society must continue to weaken.

As India goes to elections over the next few weeks, the mess, the ugliness of discourse, and the extremely low-grade of politicians on offer have been emerging.

Irrespective of who forms the government next, what comes next will make me nostalgic about what India has today.

What can an isolated citizen do, knowing that democracy has failed him?

Over the last two decades, Indians have speculated in the stock market, and in real estate.

While demonetization brought property speculation to a sudden halt, this eventually had to happen. Lacking rental yields, property prices have a lot to fall in the future. Stock market offers negligible dividend yields, and is by any metrics extremely overpriced.

The reality of India leaves very little options for someone looking to protect his wealth. Days of speculating in stocks and property are likely over.

No wonder a large number of Indians are emigrating. Others are protecting themselves by buying gold (and those who can are keeping it in lockers overseas), holding interest-earning foreign currencies, or investing in foreign stocks.

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