Why plan a trip to India in 2017? Planning a trip to India is an optimal idea for any season. As you can always travel to one of the many beautiful places in India every month. While the northern Himalayas and the North Eastern Jungles […]
Decisiveness and Patience to trump life! Seeking to explain complicated financial hindsight in the most comprehensible way, here is a list of 17 questions to research before you invest your hard earned money in Equity. Stocks can give the best returns over a long term. […]
Religion makes good business sense
Religion is at the foundation of economic growth. When people talk about religion, all I think in my head is “Show me the money” . Understanding what makes religion sustainable for so many years may help us to ensure it’s future relevance.
In today’s confused world, all the best brains are too busy making and spending money to spread the wisdom around. Thinking about the economics of religion has created a new found respect for something that I never really understood before. As a former engineer, I come from a rational school of thought.
Facebook inspires a Religion vs Economics Blog
I was looking at a Facebook post of an old black and white picture of an Indian family happily posing with their two cows. The tag describing how Indians treat cows like family is innocently cute, but the economics behind the value of that cow, depicts an interesting picture about how religious and cultural practices come to exist and why being a good Hindu could have traditionally led to increase in family wealth in a typical monsoon dependent arid Indian village.
It’s almost like the religion of a region principally depends on the best strategy to thrive and prosper. A milk giving cow is a highly valued asset, that gives you inflation hedged cash flow in form of milk sale or it can also allow you to meet the minimum dietary requirements of your family.
Religion, Culture and the Economics
Just like how the Christmas markets in Europe bring in the best farm fresh products to city centers, India tries to take advantage of it’s diversity, with businesses trying to market every festival under the sun.
The modern Indian baking industry loves Birthdays, Christmas and New Years, while the traditional Indian sweet shops love all our gods. Diwali is our superstar festival. The level of massive consumer spending during Diwali ensures numerous seasonal jobs and benefits.
Even in rural India, sugar and other sweet ingredients see demand along with increased spending on travel and clothing. While traditional festivals are important as they boost local production and consumption, the modern equivalents in the form of big events like the Milan Expo 2015 can help boost global production and consumption.
It’s almost like our festivals are happily celebrated to boost demand during agriculture surplus. Sweets do have longer shelf life and qualify as a value added processed agricultural product. Coco Cola has sold the idea of getting a carbonated drink with lunch. Mean while, some of our Indian ancestors have sold the idea of increasing consumption of sweets during the festivals.
Diwali is the favorite festival for businesses in India
Not just sweets, even guests and gifts would keep pouring in during Diwali, with the gifts often getting redistributed such that it reaches almost everyone’s hands.
The economic buzz during Diwali is so much that some entrepreneurs massively exploit the import of cheaper Chinese firecrackers, making a quick buck every season. The leftover inventory could also be sold in New Years which always comes around 2 months after Diwali.
Festival sale allows setting up temporary businesses that can ride the increase in demand, and return the next year. These day’s many festivals qualify as marketing events, where opportunistic corporate executives like myself are found promoting our business.
Religion ensures simple luxuries for everyone
Consider the Coconut consumption and distribution in Hindu temples in India. Hinduism does keep the domestic coconut demand high. It also enables direct consumption in its natural form by scores of local devotees. I have paid a much higher price for fresh coconut in Milan. Hence, I can see how religion can boost local demand and distribute consumption of our under rated luxuries among the masses.
Considering that our Indian rich could have exploited our coconut production for huge profits in exports (maybe they will once they figure out the best way to export fresh coconuts), I am immensely pleased that religion serves the Indian masses by at least ensuring them coconut, dry fruits and sweets etc on visits to a temple.
Its quite similar across all religions. While the Church in Italy does a lot in helping the needy across the world, Muslims often give out alms to the poor. I am actually most impressed by the Sikhs, who really seem to have a strong sense of social service.
Religion, a framework for life
The concept of religion for me seems like merely a framework to live your life. Which would consequently ensure security and prosperity to the inhabitants of a region. A framework that often got challenged if it did not adapt with time. The need to adapt to the available local resources, trading partners, internal and external powers, and also the Industrial Revolutions seems to secure a religion’s existence for tomorrow.
If religion was a website under development, it’s future sustainability would depend on its ability to adapt to the latest technologies. Always prepared to imbibe the best practices. Adding unnecessary constraints would work great as a choice but not as an obligation for a framework that seeks to innovate and adapt.
Pre Industrial Revolution Gods: Saving lives from objectivity
Back in the day, before we had our Industrial Revolutions, lets go back to pre 1784. A more brutal time for the free thinking intellectual and a much better time for an unscrupulous strong man. When intellect could not effectively leverage on the existing technology to be better than the strongest well built compliant worker.
Religion was important to ensure sanity. Very essential to save a life from being treated like a mere machine. Without technology, the only way a human life could be valued “worth keeping alive” is with faith.
A time, where religion could have made more sense for everyone. As it explained complex sustainable group dynamics in the form of simple instructions. The common man would not fall prey to the selfish motives in a Prisoner’s dilemma and would work for the common good as a community. You don’t have to teach Game Theory to him, when you can bring the fear and awe of God.
Religion for propaganda and tourism: Massive structures
When religion was the biggest source of consumer demand that would ensure optimal transfer of wealth. No other story could sell better as even wars have exploited religion. Building a massive statue actually made sense back then as there was literally nothing better you could do a ruler.
A massive structure or a statue with a story is the best propaganda ever before newsprint and the Internet arrived. Foreign powers fascinated by a city’s richness would be more eager to trade.
I am sure the Taj Mahal in India, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, impressed a lot of visitors since long. Even the current American President Donald Trump has a huge luxury casino named the Taj Mahal.
Religion power: Incredible feat of building Taj Mahal
Back in the day, when work commitments were long and dependent entirely on your craftsmanship and experience, these workers could build an other Taj Mahal or something of that stature.
But Shah Jahan would not survive till then. He had absolutely no use of these people anymore. They could not deliver any more value in the near future. The experience they had gained was very precious and could be of great help to the next biggest bidder.
A time when human hands were the most efficient machines and religion the best framework to coordinate these individuals. What if the Taj was built a few hundred years later? The availability of steam and better equipment should have led to lesser efforts.
Q2: Would Donald Trump have named his casino different if the Taj was built later?
Shah Jahan could have hesitated crippling those builders. He would probably not value the Taj so much due to lesser effort involved in building it. With technology, men would not look at other men as mere tools that come with just a cost of keeping barely alive. The Taj Mahal would be one of many other grand structures. Trump may not value the Taj the same.
Q3: Is Religion a double edged sword? Beautiful Taj Mahal vs Amputated workers?
Sure seems like it. Religion is powerful. With great powers come great responsibilities.
Back in the day, Religion may have saved those workers from not loosing anything more than their hands. Shah Jahan, typical brat Emperor was more selfish than his grand father, Akbar.
People change, but core ideas have remained in religion to ensure sanity among the spoilt brats.
Religion may have been the best reason for some one to pay for this cost, but science & technology today not only boosts production, but it ensures prosperity that has pushed the masses up the Maslow’s Pyramid.
Human life has never been more precious. No longer valued for just its physical limits, but also its intellectual potential.
Technology taking over the job of religion
Just a supposition, but with time and rise in technology, life should be getting more civilized. The decency level in society should ideally increase. Even today, social media helps us “Shout” louder for help or any injustice. This decency is not confined to any single religion. Every community just needs more time to adapt and trust technology.
While automation slowly takes over our jobs, religion no longer serves as the social, ethical marketing scheme it started out to be. Religion has always been useful to coordinate the masses.
When religion doesn’t serve these interests effectively, it becomes less desirable among the sensible. And thats when the loonies come and take over the monopoly as God’s brokers.
My forefathers have reformed themselves and their beliefs for a better tomorrow. Even today, religious practices need to be seen from an aspect of rationalism, like it has always been seen.
Promoting seasonal festival markets like the Christmas markets in Europe can take care of a lot of unemployment problems. Organizing a dedicated open place that can ensure cleanliness, safety and a family environment would ensure high value to both the vendors and the customers.
The key is to rise up the value chain with festive celebration and commerce. Religion can also hedge the growth of genetically modified food in India (GMO), by promoting organic farming and sales.
Maybe religion needs to enter a new market in staying relevant and useful in today’s age. Sticking to it’s moral code of conduct that has evolved with generations of input will ensure sustainability.
Industrial Revolution and Religion
A brief look at the Industrial Revolutions, may help us make more sense of the direction we may have to adapt to with our religious beliefs.
|First Industrial Revolution||Second Industrial Revolution||Third Industrial Revolution||Fourth Industrial Revolution|
|Steam, water, mechanical production equipment||Division of Labor, Electricity and Mass Production||Electronics, IT, Automated Production||Cyber- Physical Systems|
While the First Industrial revolution may have lead, to increased number of people leaving rural villages and moving to the cities in England, causing a break down in the community that surrounded the village church, religion evolved with a growth in church movements such as the Methodists, where “thrift, hard work and sobriety” was promoted by the leading members .
In today’s India, we are engulfed with innovative technology and also the distractions of foreign cultures. Unfortunately, foreign culture has a few people worried for the wrong reasons. Futile it is to reverse the trend and fight the current.
History teaches us that you cant stop a better idea when it’s time has come.
Instead of looking back, religion needs to look forward to see how it can remain relevant in tomorrow’s multicultural society. How it can appeal to more stake holders to solve problems of a community instead of becoming a burden.
Read more interesting stories at milankaraja.com
Stock Markets post Indian Demonetization The recent March, 2017 Indian elections has had a favorable effect on the Indian stock markets. The rising markets and my own rising portfolio gains made me curious to explore more. Firstly, what is the trend post Demonetization? […]
Italian Banking Crisis: how to improve? Looking at the Italian banking crisis with some seriousness I made certain observations. I hope to take advantage of living in Italy for 6 years graduating with a Masters in Finance. Comparing Banking in Italy with Banking in India I […]
Do we need massive structures serving minimal purpose?
Everyone loves magnificent buildings like the Bosco Verticale in Milan. Especially since it also serves also as a structure that hosts a number of trees placed vertically. I loved the building so much that I even wished they would build something similar in India.
Unfortunately, we are still stuck in the pre historic time of using precious material on a massive statue. If a Statue has to be built, it should have some decent design in it. Let it not serve as a tool to siphon away government finances. Make it a value added project. Add some trees around it or something.
Firstly, why am I writing this blog. To merely add new content to get visitors or was there some real inspiration to write something concrete on the web?
Trolling like a school boy, Blogging like a school Teacher
Here is my inspiration. Trolling like a silly school boy on Facebook actually allows me to learn a lot. Like stuff really happening back home in India. In this case, I came to learn about an expensive Rs. 3,600 Crores or 36 Billion Indian Rupees or about 500 million USD worth mammoth 192 meters tall statue to be erected near to two of the largest slums in Asia.
Considering the dismal condition of a lot of people living in Mumbai, many have reasons to believe that the government lacks clear thought on how to ideally spend its budget when it decides to allocate big funds on such special projects that merely serve as eye candy in attracting tourists.
To look at this decision from a top-down perspective, we can maybe differentiate the positives and the negatives of the idea after first understanding where the large sum will go.
Ideally, I would prefer a brilliant idea of a mega structure that can bring in the tourists and also serve the people more directly. Something like a beautiful vertical urban jungle that will add to the city’s greenery and also attract Selfies.
Evaluating building a massive statue as an Investment
Firstly, what are the Hidden Costs:
- 500 million USD will be spent in setting up the massive structure. More expenses will go in assuring security, maintenance etc.
Understanding the purpose of investment:
- Why do we need this huge statue? Considering the structure is a massive statue, most of the amount will go to the raw material instead of design. The Chinese are on a similar massive statue building spree in order expend massive surplus. India too has realized that the Chinese are more efficient in such monumental construction.
- The “Unity Tower” structure to be built in honor of Sardar Vallabhai Patel may have got considerably outsourced to the Chinese. They could offer specialization at a cheaper price. Even if the Shivaji Statue may be Made in India, we are sure to be facilitating loads of business to Chinese companies. They just seem to provide the best value for money service these days. Any thing that is purely Made in India, may also be more expensive. Until we get more efficient. Do we really want to pay China for a massive statue?
Corruption in simplicity of projects:
- Of the money spent, most of it may have gone in concentrated pockets. As a Statue is still not as complex as a massive building. Buildings host people and thus help create wide spread massive consumption in the local economy. The value addition is merely in attracting tourists, who may come, stay, eat, do prayers and leave. To see the inflow of tourists from such activity in bringing perpetual cash flows, that after being discounted will exceed 500 million USD is a distant dream. Especially, as you deduct the recurring costs in maintenance and security.
- If the entire Statue project involves buy raw materials from a few players, then chances of corruption is ripe.
Boost Employment with unnecessary construction?
- Employment wise, there will be some job creation. But this idea is still very primitive to be treated like the optimal usage of resources.
Lastly, the maintenance of a giant structure:
- Looking at famous roman sculptures in ruins at the National Roman Museum, Statues have a life span and limited benefits.
Better ways of investing 500 million USD?
Firstly, Its preferable if the government can hit multiple birds with one stone.
- Instead of just a statue, let it be a structure encompassing great Indian architecture or locally sourced materials. It could also function as a tourist hotspot providing modern commercial space and activities of leisure for huge number of tourists. A one stop center would cater to world tourists if only it can fascinate them with some concrete value addition. Even a vertical forest in a city could be a better idea, as its hitting multiple fronts with one project.
Stress on value addition in terms of skill from skill usage and not material usage.
- Lets us try to spend more on what we have in abundance. Ensuring the money to be distributed among the people directly involved digitally. By proper planning you can hinder the window for corrupt practice boosting accountability.
Stress on local expertise in design and architecture to showcase the very best of what India has to offer.
- Treat the investment in a long term perspective. Plans to continuously organize events and activities to make the project a cash flow surplus success. Ensuring that such expenditure is a part of a larger tourism plan. Instead of every one making random decisions better organization is needed. Planning of optimal tourist investments in the city will lead to better results.
Finally, 500 million USD could easily be used to create an educated population .
- that will do multi fold in boosting tourism in India in the future
- We already have a lot of monuments and splendid structures. Adding one more while ignoring the problems affecting the others is immature.
Read more interesting stories at milankaraja.com
Blogging onboard the flixbus from Munich to Milan The last time I used Internet on public transport was from the ICE train from Nuremberg to Munich. It was comfortable but also not cheap. Fortunately, long bus travel has never been so fun and convenient before. […]
Indian currency demonetization: How it could have been done better? Should have been done in phases, first the 1000 could be banned and an effective new 2000 can be introduced in limited amounts so as to ensure an effective shift in to digital, curbing big […]
Indian currency demonetization: First reaction
When I started writing this blog, I would not have imagined that this would be such a bad decision. For a day, thanks to my imbecile friends on Facebook, I actually got interested in the idea. Read a bit and had my apprehensions.
Announced on the 8th of November, 2016, it’s been a week of complete chaos across the country. A calamity so sudden and suicidal, that all commercial economic activity has ceased. It has hit across supply chains. Farmers are lined up in long queues in front of banks instead of preparing themselves for the sowing season.
Lack of enough criticism scares me and my little pot of Investments in Indian equity. I did my own research using this app called Bushlark, which allows me to ask location specific questions. Quite useful in finding an ATM or asking other crucial questions during these uncertain times. My own research confirmed by sensible opposition parties like the AAP.
The new notes look nice. I bought my laptop in Europe and don’t have the Rupee symbol yet on my keyboard. The new 500 rs note looks a lot like 5 € but is actually worth around 7€. The 2000 rs note which would be the highest currency denomination worth around 27 €, and could pass off as the 20 € bill, though it has a distinct pink color to it.
The new notes are yet to be well distributed across the country. As long as we are constrained with a fixed number of printing machines, limited ATM centers, and limited banks the task is going to be very arduous. The lack of thought on such crucial issues is baffling. Why will the government risk losing economic growth? Are we in such grave despair? Have our corporates looted us so much that this had to be done?
Explaining Demonetization to a 10 year old
What does all of this mean? India is cleaning up its currency in circulation. Getting rid of hoarded black money ideally should make the white money worth more. Its effects can be seen in the real- estate market, which is usually inflated with corrupt money.
Housing stocks plunged after the news. But recent income tax reports claim that only 6% of the black money recovered in 2015/2016 was in the form of currency and ornaments.
Ideally, the general belief is that there is too much of old money flowing around and by regulating money efficiently with new notes, you would crack down on counterfeit currency. Now, this sounds great and theoretically seems like a simple solution to a big problem.
But the need to do something so drastic when better preparations could have been done is worrisome. A big gamble, difficult to comprehend and thus difficult to criticize. Initially, you could deposit all your cash and withdraw only 4000 rs, after some feedback they raised it to 4500 rs, after a week it is down to 2000 rs now. An indication that there is not enough cash printed as of yet.
While most people have optimistic opinions on social media and TV, I dreaded the ground situation I would have to face in India currently. Yes, I hate lines.
The uncertainty caused by the decision is from a “If they don’t have bread to eat, let them have cakes” perspective. Forcing all the informed people to take quick and prompt action and then help spread awareness about the new age of payments among a population that relies entirely on a minimum amount of rainfall a year to survive is a mammoth task that requires much more planning.
Million ways Demonetization could have been better
The inconvenience and uncertainty caused by demonetisation was strangely underplayed by the media. Some pockets are speaking out now. This blog itself was written initially in week 1 and is being updated as days pass by.
With people swarming banks in despair, ordinary Indian lives, already left to so much uncertainty faces one more shuffle which could definitely have been handled in a more graceful manner.
Was secrecy so important that, the new notes could not have been already transmitted in circulation to such quantities that the demonetization of these currencies would not cause enough discomfort to the average Indian who hardly finds time off to spend at banks.
Demonetization: Big bang reforms need to take everyone along
By the average Indian, I refer to the old man who lives 50 km away from the nearest bank, who is stashed up for a dry day, but ignorance makes him trust unscrupulous agents returning 4 X 100 rs for a 500 and 8 X 100 rs for a 1000. The losses among the weak or those slow to adapt is direct and severe.
Hoping that somehow, a big part of the black money stash or just Indian savings are now deposited in banks, the account books are all cleaned up and banks are able to lend more. But a move like this affecting the masses suddenly in such a manner, leading to loss in wealth among the masses who are suddenly being forced to make massive transactions compromising on over 20% losses, will directly affect the economy.
With over 80% of cash flow in circulation called back, liquidity will remain in shortage for a substantial time. With corporate losses and selling in stocks that is expected apart from a drop in real estate prices, the only winners are those with assets abroad, until massive inflows are made to take advantage of the inflation to start again with new bank lending from all the deposits.
So basically the plan is “burn a good percentage of existing money”, causing deflation. Experts predict a decline in all asset prices, but presently the stocks are down while gold prices are booming for now. The dynamics are crazy.
Indian Nostradamus: MilanKaRaja
I have been thinking about a few scenarios of what can go wrong with demonetisation as I was successfully able to predict the mess that is happening currently.
I am no expert, but if it would just take me an extra meeting with the team to think of an idea of injecting some usable currency in the system prior to this, the uninformed masses would not be interrupted all across the country, so as to lead to sudden stop in economic activity.
As an Investor, I hate uncertainty. As an Indian, I am always prepared for it. Better planning for such an important decision is required.
Indian currency demonetization definitely seems like a Harakiri before Japan visit. A desperate step for a desperate time or a self goal?
In any case, now that the shit has hit the fan already, I am trying to put my thoughts together to understand the consequences. Deciding to ignore the Facebook experts on my friend list, lets dig in like a 10 year old.
Making money post Demonetization: Forecast
Work for the government, you are lucky! Private companies depending on the source of revenues. How do the numbers come out in annual reports? Maybe, extra accountability should ensure higher figures, but a shortage of liquidity will lead to a stand still in consumption that will rise only out of confidence. Presently, the upper class will take it easy on spending. Shopping will be done more online. Spending will be discouraged in the society.
Every one should be hurt presently, especially those invested with real estates receiving rent in black. The black market exists to fill a void, demonetizing has led them to barter presently. The optimal flow of money has been affected and presently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see virtual currencies, often in terms of debt with individuals promising to pay at a later date far from this uncertainty.
If you are educated and have a job based on dealing with the international economy, you will be hedging yourself from the earning downturn in the domestic market.
It may be a good idea to invest in stocks post demonetization, considering that more money will be accounted now. The correction in the markets can be a perfect opportunity to enter long.
Modi & the School Principal analogy:
Maybe, I would never want to be a student in a school with Modi as the Principal. Some one who would wake all the students up at 4 AM in the morning without informing them the day earlier, to only take them on a long morning hike in the cold. Asking them to keep running faster, to burn more energy and release heat.
Promising them of great dinner later, but in more quantities to those who finish the race first. I probably already went for a run the previous day all by myself, but am being dragged along against my will as I have to eat anyway.
To make it worse, I saw some other kids sleeping early that evening almost as if they knew about the surprise running trip in the middle of the night that promises to be in the long term best interests of me and my family.
Indian Currency Demonetization: Updated on 12th November
Shit is hitting the fan,
“I have a new 2000 Rs. note. But it is useless as no one is ready to accept it for two reasons. One, they do not know how the new note looks like as no body has seen it. Two, If I buy stuff worth 500 rupees no one can return 1500 as no body has any change. The city has come to a standstill,” said one person on the Hindu today.
Looks like India will be functioning only with 100 rupee notes and digital transactions. Maybe they should have just banned the 1000s.
“If the people dont have bread, let them have cake” said my friend and former Indian colleague from Bocconi. I pointed it out to him on facebook and he decided to ignore me. The Bhakti is strong in that one.
Rural India continues to suffer as our Indian elite ignores their pleas. Not all the voices are mute, and sense is creeping in through the fog of indifference. In India you can always find someone to say something awkward in the wrong situation. With the currency exchange news, you have some of the most shameless people in India currently linking this to a patriotic duty. The army had its say in it, denying that they go to war on an empty stomach.
Demonetization: Reaction to bad implementation
When things get so bad, that our supreme leader in an act from Politics 101, has his old mother stand in line at a bank along with the masses. I was in no way interested in seeing this as it was clearly a photo gimmick aimed at only soothing the anger of our masses. Even Rahul Gandhi was at his coolest best when he said that he was not like Modi and would not comment about his mother.
Not really wanting to be anti Modi, but the guy leaves me with no choice. Its always a gimmick, a show, a spectacle. Lacking in depth, Modi could use an advisor like Kejriwal. Actually, if Modi just started listening to Kejriwal more, we would not be seeing this day today.
Demonetization of money exchange in India is a desperate step for a desperate time. To blame previous governments and the global economic outlook for this is in poor taste.
Creating obstacles to development when it comes to being a pain in the a$$ for the AAP gave the game away in my eyes.
Resources recommended post demonetisation:
EMERGENCY APP RECCOMMENDATION: DOWNLOAD NOW to find an ATM with CASH near you