This weekend we went to a wedding reception in Mumbai.
There were beautiful women dressed in brightly colored traditional gowns. Men favored western business suits, but a few sported the outfits usually worn at Hindu weddings…with flowing, colored tunics, baggy white pants and little embroidered slippers.
These were the men and women who are leading the Indian economy in one of the most remarkable growth stories in economic history. India has been upstaged by China. The middle kingdom’s story…from communist rags to capitalist riches in a single generation has a lot of dramatic punch. But India’s story may have a longer run. Because India grows without relying too heavily on exports. And it seems to have a large class of people who may be capable of keeping that growth on track.
“I now work for Blackrock,” said a pretty young woman. “I did my undergraduate work at the University of Texas. Then I worked in New York for a while.
“My sister lives in Georgetown, not far from you…”
Another man was a Sikh, with a turban on his head.
“I’m a metallurgist. I believe in machines. When I have money, I buy machines. I don’t trust stocks…”
It was a Sikh who assassinated Indira Ghandi. The Sikhs – a military caste – were regarded with deep suspicion for a while. Incidentally, the French prohibit people from wearing a turban when they get an official photograph. This is to provide the government with an accurate picture of the person, presumably. But since the Sikhs wear their turbans all the time, a more accurate picture would show what the man looks like with his turban on…
“I went to the University of Nevada,” said one of the guests. “I went to MIT,” said another. “I went to the University of Pennsylvania…”
“I got a patent on…. I’m a biochemist… I’m on the board of… I run a business that…”
One after the other, the résumés were impressive. These are people who have money, training, ambition, manners…
“There is no Social Security in India,” explained a colleague. “And no welfare. We’re too poor for that. People know they have to work to support themselves and their families. And the economy is still an entrepreneurial economy. The people who have money usually run their own businesses. The money is still in the hands of entrepreneurs instead of professional managers. It’s more like the economy in the US during the early part of the 20th century, in other words, than like today’s US economy.”
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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success in numerous industries. His unique writing style, philanthropic undertakings and preservationist activities have been recognized by some of America's most respected authorities. With his friend and colleague Addison Wiggin, he co-founded The Daily Reckoning in 1999, and together they co-wrote the New York Times best-selling books Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. His other works include Mobs, Messiahs and Markets (with Lila Rajiva), Dice Have No Memory, and most recently, Hormegeddon: How Too Much of a Good Thing Leads to Disaster. His most recent project is The Bill Bonner Letter.
Bill, I heard there is some sort of wellfare in India, which actually made impossible to hire a live-in nanny, since the price was not set too high by the govmt.
Dear Mr. Bonner,
As I read your articles daily, I would like first start off by congratulating you on an amazing job. Your articles are very informative. I would just like to correct you on your statement above, the Sikh religion is not a “warrior caste”. Sikhism denounces the caste system in all it forms. The caste system is a integral part of the Hindu religion (the belief that your birth dictates your position and job in society). Sikhism rejects this in all forms, that is one of the reasons why Sikhism is an completely different religion then Hinduism.
Your headline and main point is that India may have a “longer run” than China. You neither defined what longer run means nor performed a comparative analysis between the two countries to illustrate your point. So you met educated people at a wedding… so what?
India is a BIG country.
India is a very old Culture(s).
India has social welfare built into it’s family structures.
India has many farmers committing suicide because they had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if they switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead. (oops)
India has child laborers.
India is changing rapidly.
India is a BIG country.
More like America in the 1880’s?
I’m jealous, Bonner gets to travel a LOT. Wasn’t he just in Argentina, or was it Paris, or London, or Baltimore? Well, I’m not so jealous about Baltimore!
I once went to a small Bulgarian wedding party. Almost everyone there has a PhD.
Mr Bonner, there is NO WAY India can compete with Bulgaria!
And I know three(!) people from Iceland with Ph.D.’s in engineering. The twenty-first century will belong to Iceland, I predict. It’s not like it could end any worse than it started. Unless it exploded in simultaneous eruptions. That would suck.
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