मेघदूत: "नीचैर्गच्छत्युपरि च दशा चक्रनेमिक्रमेण"

G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Albert Einstein: “I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously.” (To P. Moos, March 30, 1950. Einstein Archives 60-587)

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The wealthy always take what they want

FT has publihsed a review of Joe Studwell’s book “Asian Godfathers”. by Victor Mallet .

Nothing about businessmen these days surprise me but it still made me shriek. Sample this:

“The first and most fundamental myth he explodes in this tour d’horizon of the billionaire businessmen of Hong Kong and south-east Asia is the self-serving notion that the godfathers were in some way responsible for high economic growth in the run-up to the 1997 financial crisis and for the recovery thereafter…

But his myth-busting is as merciless as it is enlightening. Does Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, work as hard as the myth of the toiling Chinese tycoon suggests? Yes, if you count playing golf, arriving at the office at 10am, checking the press to see if anyone has said anything nasty about you, holding a business lunch and having a massage or two as hard work…

he puts the tycoons firmly in the context of contemporary Asian politics, arguing the wealthy have merely taken advantage of the lamentable failure of the region’s politicians to regulate economies for the benefit of society as a whole.The disadvantaged are not only the labourers on low wages but also the middle classes, punished by high costs for cartel-provided goods and often cheated of their share of profits if they are foolish enough to invest as minority shareholders in godfather- controlled listed companies.”

Read that again….. the wealthy have merely taken advantage of the lamentable failure of the region’s politicians to regulate economies for the benefit of society as a whole…..

Isn’t this true of India as much as any other country in the region? Was even Mahatma Gandhi manipulated by Birlas and Bajajs and other Khadi wearing tycoons?

Based on Indivar Kamtekar’s State and Class in India, 1939-45, a harsher indictment of the Indian business class was presented by SWAMINATHAN S ANKLESARIA AIYAR in his August 2003 Times of India article “Independence & the Bengal famine”.

“…In Britain, the upper classes sacrificed much for the war effort and there was social levelling. But in India, the propertied classes benefited enormously from the war, while casual labourers suffered terribly. The Raj needed to harness the Indian upper classes for the war effort, and so pampered them while placing crushing burdens on the poor. The Bengal Famine was an outcome of this arrangement…

…. Above all, the business class flourished. The war required unprecedented quantities of every sort of manufacture. Lack of shipping constrained competition from imports. The price of cloth rose five-fold before the colonial state imposed price controls: its top priority was to encourage production, not worry about janata cloth. Business fortunes were made, and new giants like Telco and Hindustan Motors emerged in this period. Tax evasion was widespread and not seriously checked by the authorities. Indeed, some businessmen defended tax evasion as “patriotic” non-cooperation with the Raj! But the very scarcity that helped the propertied classes hit casual labourers. It also hit pensioners and others on a fixed income. The real wages of factory workers declined 30% between 1939 and 1943. By contrast, British real wages rose 49%, a levelling up. The rural landless in India were the worst hit. They had neither access to the new urban jobs or rationed urban supplies. Ranging from a quarter of the rural population in Bengal to over half in Madras, they bore the brunt of spiralling prices…

The Great Bengal Famine was a colossal human tragedy, but, cynically, no cause for political panic. Those who died could not even be counted properly, because they counted for so little. This is a harsh indictment of the class that led our independence movement. It suggests that it was no accident that Mahatma Gandhi was also a personal friend of G D Birla.”

Artist: William Steig The New Yorker 2 July 1960

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