The Curious Case of the Denial of Depression

Ladies and gentleman, we just have a “credit crunch” or call it “credit crisis” if you like. Don’t worry, it’ll blow over. That was 2007. And there was still some optimism in the world. After that came denial and gradual acceptance:

It’s not a slowdown… wait! It is a slowdown!
It’s not a recession… wait! It is a recession!
It’s not a depression… wait…

Well, wait long enough and soon you’ll be told it’s a depression. Then it’ll be called the Great Depression II (GD2) a la World War II.

The US Government is $10 trillion in debt. The $6 billion Lehmann Brothers shut down. The 100-year-old Ford Motor Company is fighting bankruptcy. The Sensex has crashed from 21,000 to below 10,000 wiping out thousands of crores of virtual money in one shot. (Thank God we recovered half of it in the euphoria of a new stable government. What happens when that euphoria wears off?) And you still think the recession will blow over in 2009. Well, keep thinking.
Denial is actually a great place to live in.

But I digress from why I am writing this. I wanted to make a few other points about the depression. And why it’s “Great”.

1. You asked for it!

Here’s what I (and probably you) keep hearing all the time:

*These ITwallahs are getting too much money, IT is really over hyped…

*These real estate wallahs charge five times the rate of a flat, they are all crooks…

*There are too many cars on the roads, there should be a cap on the auto industry…

*The stock market is more than double of its actual value, it’s all inflated…(@21K levels)

*Too many people are getting rich too fast, we’re getting to be an opulent and lazy country…

*We ape the Americans too much, dependence on America should go…

*These youngsters have too much money to spend on mobiles and pubs…

And so on and so forth…

Well guess what? God has finally answered your prayers! The answer is called GD2 (2007- ). Check all the above laments. They no longer hold true, for a couple of years at least.
Nice na?

2. India gets to be a superpower

OK, OK, maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. But I think that at the end of GD2 India will go on the road to superpowerdom. At the end of GD1, America built the foundations for being a superpower and the post-GD2 world could just be India’s.

For one, according to some experts, depression in America was caused by the vast economic boom in the 1920s, overproduction, plunging farm incomes and ill-regulated markets. Doesn’t all this sound familiar and something that’s happening in India: post 1991 economic boom, overproduction, plunging farm incomes (for the small farmers atleast) and ill-regulated markets. While America corrected itself, here’s India’s chance to do so. With Manmohan’s stable dream team in the saddle, we could get it right eventually. Manmohan looks destined for even bigger things. Just look at his path: Oxford-Cambridge-IMF-World Bank-Finance Ministry-RBI Governor-Dy Chairman of Planning Commission-Finance Minister-Uncertain Prime Minister-Certain Prime Minister…

It was during GD1 that road making got a big boost in America. In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his team a hand-drawn map of the US marked with eight superhighway corridors. Sounds familiar? That’s something like what former Prime Minister Vajpayee promised when he was in power. The Golden Quadrilateral. Something a lot of people scoffed at, but the results are there for all to see. The National Highways Development Project is pretty ambitious in proposing 45,000 km of roads. Though we saw a blip for a few years, there’s every chance of it picking up speed in this term, with Kamal Nath at the helm.

After 9/11 America lost it’s aura of invincibility and faced great economic vulnerability. Its economy is shrinking and gradually the world’s dependence on American economy will go down slowly and steadily. Even the oil industry may de-link itself from the dollar in the long run.

That leaves countries like BRIC—Brazil, China, Russia and India. Russia is yet to get its act together. China is way ahead of India, but only as long as Communism lasts. When Communism finally collapses in China, all the fudged figures will come tumbling down and all the near-slave labour economy will disintegrate. While China dazzled everyone with the Beijing Olympics, in the aftermath, all the stadiums are not being put to good use and are lying idle with many whispers that it has been a colossal waste. This is in contrast to other cities where Olympic infrastructure is put to good use. That leaves India and Brazil in the running for the title of Emerging Economic Power. So we do have a good chance.

Quick Facts

Many people think that the Great Depression of 1929 didn’t affect India. But it did hammer the economy and was also a possible catalyst for India’s Independence:

1. There was a steep fall in imports and exports hitting India’s international trade severely. Inflation levels soared and the British refused to devalue Indian currency, making matters worse.

2. People started selling their gold in large numbers to meet expenses. Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy of India is quoted to have said: For the first time in history, owing to the economic situation, Indians are disgorging gold. We have sent to London in the past two or three months 25 million sterling and I hope that the process will continue.

3. Did the Great Depression spur on Indian Independence? Anti-British sentiment became higher. Prices and other factors also led to the Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha.

While the US stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, Nehru first officially talked of Poorna Swaraj at the December 31, 1929, Indian National Congress session. Coincidence? If it is, then let’s hope another one happens after GD2 and India gets another fillip.

Post Script

Strictly speaking, it’s not a depression in India and not even a recession since the economy is still growing. Only certain sectors like real estate and the auto industry are in recession. But it’s an interconnected world and the depression in the West is bound to catch up with India even more in 2009-10. So as of now it could be called the Great Slowdown (GS), but GD2 will eventually get to us, for a little time at least.

And after the darkest night, comes the dawn…

© Sunil Rajguru

10 things my 7-year-old son worries about…

1. What if President Pratibha Patil is made the Prime Minister of India after her term expires?

2. Poor Pluto. After it was stripped of planetary status, what changes came in its atmosphere, rotation and revolution?

3. What if due to some reason Mercury and Venus are also stripped of their planetary status. Then won’t Earth become the first planet from the sun? Can that make things a bit hotter?

4. Is Hrithik Roshan real or is he just another fictional character like Tom and Jerry?

5. Army ants are planning to migrate from Africa to India. Generation after generation will settle closer and closer to India. Then they’ll hitch rides on birds and planes. They’ll get onto elephants and buffaloes to get across rivers. For some strange reason, their ultimate destination is India in general and Bangalore in particular.

6. If I somehow manage to live for a billion years, won’t I die when the Sun explodes?

7. Why can’t my grandmother give me company in my old age?

8. There are currently more believers than atheists in this world. Tomorrow if there are more atheists, then will God cease to exist?

9. People say India will become a Superpower tomorrow, but is it at least a Power today?

10. Marriage looks to be too tough to handle. So like many small boys he’s decided not to get married and definitely not to have kids.

And two things he’s not worried about…

The expanding universe and the ultimate fate of the universe
Doesn’t that mean much more space for everyone as the population increases?

Global warming and the rise of oceans
Bangalore might finally get a beach!

© Sunil Rajguru

You know you’re a 2020 addict when…

1. Whenever there’s any cause for celebration in your life, you wonder where all the cheerleaders are.

2. You watch the first session of the first day of the Test match and put it off after that thinking the match has ended in a draw.

3. In the office you feel the need for a “Strategy Break” every hour or so.

4. You’re totally bored out of your skull when you watch an ODI.

5. Being a Bangalorean, you involuntarily start for cheering for Jacques Kallis in an India-South Africa match.

6. You look at Royal Challenge Premium Whiskey and think there’s a spelling mistake: Where’s the missing r?

7. You put SetMax on at 9pm and wonder why the hell they are showing an old Hindi movie.

8. You were a Shahrukh Khan fan before IPL2 started, but you can’t stand him any more.

9. You call every Delhiite you meet a Daredevil and every Chennaiite a Superking.

10. You Google search Bradman’s 2020 average.

11. You watch an India-Australia match and are surprised to find out that Warne, Gilchrist and Hayden are all retired.

12. You think Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a Tamilian.

13. You vote for Vijay Mallya for Businessman of The Year Award because his team made it to the IPL finals.

14. You start buying Deccan Chronicle because Deccan Chargers won the IPL.

15. You suddenly want everything in your life to be quicker and shorter and more exciting.

© Sunil Rajguru

Yahan Ke Hum Hain Bandar

Dedicated to the first IPL season of the Kolkata Knight Riders management.

Please read to the tune of Yaahan ke Hum Sikander from the movie Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander

Woh bandar hi doston kehlaata hai,
Jeeti baazi ko haarna jise aata hai,
Niklenge maidan mein jis din hum jhagad ke,
Cricket pitch dolegi ye kadam choomke

Jo sab karte hain yaaron woh kyon hum tum karein,
Yoonhi Dada ki baat sunte sunte kaahe ko hum marein
Kolkatawaalon se Dada se bhala hum kyon darein
Yahan ke hum hain bandar
Chaahein to rakh lein kisiko bhi apne team ke andar
Arre humse bachke rehna mere yaar
Nahin samjhe hain Dada hame to kya jaata hai
Jeeti baazi ko haarna hame aata hai

Ye bowlers apne, ye batsman apne, kaun aayega inke aage
Hey raahon mein humse takrayega jo hat jayega woh ghabraake
Yahan ke hum hain bandar
Chaahein to rakh lein sab ko apni jeb ke andar
Arre humse bachke rehna mere yaar
Nahin samjhe hai vo humein to kya jaata hai
Jeet baazi ko haarna humein aata hai

Spoof By Sunil Rajguru

(Original Song: Yahaan Ke Hum Sikander
Film: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
Year: 1992)

15 Things I never thought could happen when I was a kid…

1. A non-Nehru descendant completing a five-year-term as Prime Minister and actually getting re-elected after that!
- Jai Ho!

2. Pakistan cricket becoming irrelevant in the world and India.
- Arre baba, IPL ka matlab Indo-Pak League nahin hain.

3. A mobile phone becoming one of the most common of devices.
- Mere paas Star Trek ka kam se kam ek device to hain!

4. An Indian picking up two Oscars on one night for Bollywood songs in a Hinglish movie.
- Jai Ho again!

5. Prabhakaran actually getting shot and killed without a fight.
- Do tigers just roll over and die?

6. No years of waiting for scooter, gas, phone,…
- Instant ka zamana aa gaya hain, aur bahut accha hain.

7. A Western type lifestyle and roads jampacked with cars.
- Watch an old Hindi flick, roads look so empty and only the hero is so well-dressed and educated.

8. A non-Russian becoming the World Chess Champion and that too an Indian to boot.
- Vishwanathan: Jaisa naam, waisa kaam.

9. An African American getting elected to the White House.
- Now that’s Change we all can believe in!

10. Coalition governments actually lasting in India.
- NDA doesn’t just mean National Defence Academy and UPA is here to stay.

11. Indians buying out top world companies.
- Mittal and Tata: What an appetite!

12. India becoming an IT powerhouse.
- When will Microsoft be toppled? Maybe the answer lies with India.

13. Veerappan getting caught and killed.
- Sandalwood? That’s the Kannada film industry.

14. The Berlin Wall crumbling. Communism falling. Russia becoming almost irrelevant in world politics.
- One world. One Germany. No USSR.

15. A Governor of Indian origin getting elected in a US state. Indian origin CEOs worldwide.
- So there is such a thing as Indian leadership after all (But currently only outside India).

And 15 Things I’m still waiting for…

1. Toppers and professionals outnumbering criminals in Parliament.
- “Hi! I’m an IIT Gold Medallist and Politics is my first choice!”

2. The Kashmir dispute getting solved.
- The Indian and Pak heads of states walked into the sunset saying, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

3. India becoming No. 1 in Tests and actually staying there for a few years.
- “First it was the Windies. Then the Aussies. Now these mean Indians!”

4. India producing the fastest bowler in the world.
- “Aur isike ke saath Lucky Singh ne 100mph ka barrier cheer ke rakh diya!”

5. India playing in a Football World Cup.
- “India scores the decisive goal against Argentina and enters the quarter finals!”

6. An Indian company wholly producing a Windows or iPod type of product.
- Hail India, the new powerhouse of patents.

7. America playing cricket and India playing baseball.
- Slamdog Millionaire!

8. India becoming an economic, military or cultural superpower ahead of America.
- China door raho, tum hamse takkar nahin le sakte.

9. India making it to the list of 10 least corrupt nations on the Transperency International list.
- Corruption, woh kis chidiya ka naam hain?

10. A Bollywood production which makes $250 million in the US box office
- Farhan Akhtar? Abhay Deol? Anurag Kashyap? Abhi-Ash ke beta/beti?

11. The extinction of farmer suicides and local blood-sucking moneylenders
- Article in Economist: The Indian farmer is now a model to the world

12. India 100% electrified along with a pukka road and school in every village.
- Elections 2030. Bijli, sadak aur paani to aa gaya, ab mudda kya hain?

13. The entire MiG-21 fleet to be grounded and replaced by the latest fighter jets.
- F-22s anyone?

14. Dalai Lama returning gracefully to a Free Tibet.
- Tibeti-Chini bhai bhai.

15. Communism getting totally wiped out in West Bengal and Kerala and the states becoming the economic powerhouses of India.
- In Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram, they have something that’s called Communist Museums.

Ek eighties ke schoolkid ke nazariya se dekho to ab India main kuch bhi ho sakta hain!

© Sunil Rajguru

If Mayawati became Prime Minister of India…

1. She would build a 58-foot monolithic statue of herself at the centre of Lucknow, relegating the 57-foot Bahubali statue in Shravanabelagola (the current world record holder) to second spot.

2. The Taj Mahal would become the official residence of the Prime Minister of India and Agra would be the national capital.

3. Amar Singh would be secretly tossed into the Indian Ocean without a life jacket.

4. Connaught Place would be turned into a huge Ambedkar Park. This would include the inner Connaught Circus and radial roads. All roads like Kasturba Road, Sansad Marg etc would become dead ends, with a statue of Mayawati signifying that the road has indeed come to an end.

5. A record 1.5 million government officials would be transferred all over the country within a week of her coming to power.

6. Her income tax would go up from Rs 26 crores to Rs 26,000 crores, which would be bandied as an achievement. The amount would be touted as her “donation” to the Central Government.

7. Along with Income Tax, we would have to pay a Mayawati Birthday Tax Surcharge. Habitual evaders of this surcharge would be shot dead in the long run.

8. She would file 1000 cases each against Mulayam, Rahul, Narendra Modi and maybe a 1000 other people.

9. Shoes would be banned at her rallies citing security issues. One rupee would be charged for their safekeeping. The money would go to the Mayawati Income Tax Donation Fund, which would now become Rs 27,000 crore.

10. Mahatma Gandhi would be stripped of his Father of the Nation status. That title would now go to Kanshi Ram.

11. Sanjay Dutt would get a pardon in his Arms case and be given a 20-year-jail term instead for his “Jadu ki jhappi” statement towards her.

12. The Laws of Manu would be banned. The Laws of Maya would be promulgated. India would make its transition from the Manuvadi to the Mayavadi era.

13. Uttar Pradesh would be renamed as Gautam Buddha Nagar, Lucknow as Kanshirampur. Agra would be quickly renamed Mayanagri.

14. The national motto of India would change from Satyamev Jayate to Sab Maya Hain!

15. Sonia, Mamata and Jaya would be exiled. Ek desh main sirf ek Loha Mahila raha sakti hain!

Maya Ho!

© Sunil Rajguru