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From Underwear to Cars, India’s Economy Is Fraying (nytimes.com)
135 points by known 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments

I am an Indian, in India. To be honest I think our current situation is not just a slowdown. I feel the country has become largely divided when it comes to day-to-day economics.

I am sitting in a co-working space in Bangalore, I do that in Kolkata often and will head to Mumbai soon. I hardly see people talking about slowdown in these spaces. The cities seemingly are powered more by funds from outside and are alienated to the issues in agriculture or manufacturing.

Not just the government, but the well-to-do educated class have simply stopped looking at the country as a whole - that is my feeling and I am guilty of the same.

> the well-to-do educated class have simply stopped looking at the country as a whole

There is lot of misguided guilt-tripping that goes on in India. Misguided because it doesn't produce any outcomes.

I feel India is massive and most people including Indians don't realize how massive.

I worked on project a few years back, which required traveling around/studying just one district. That district alone had a population larger than Norway. And India has 700+ districts. Just think about that for a moment.

We might as well be talking about 700 countries when we talk about India. There are many districts doing really well and healthy and many on the other end of the spectrum. Whenever people talk about "India" as a whole they don't know what they are talking about. Get them to be specific about a district and the conversation gets much more productive.

This is true. But when discussing the economy, the Indian economy is extremely interconnected. Arguably, the Indian economy is far more integrated and 1 corner of the country is far more affected by impacts from another corner than in Norway, because the lower population numbers mean that people in Norway simply don’t rely on other Norwegians as much as they do on foreigners, which is far less true of India.

Yes India is a very diverse country and that is why policies which treat it as a single homogeneous entity won't work. They might work in tiny countries with similar populace but not when you scale it up to something like India. People fail to realize this.

>>> that is my feeling and I am guilty of the same.

To acknowledge the problem is the first step towards its solution.

Your observation is very similar to what I have felt as well. There is a wide urban-rural gap.

India is primarily an agricultural country. A fairly large part of Indian population resides in villages and is directly or indirectly dependent upon agriculture sector.

The current state of economy also stems from the agrarian crisis that has been brewing for a long time now.

I don't think this government is exclusively to be blamed for the plight of farmers, but given the mandate they got in 2014, they had the means to enable farmer friendly policies - unfortunately they did not.

I was actually traveling in different parts of India when the demonetization move happened. I saw firsthand the immediate aftermath in both the urban and rural India. There were diverse opinions, but given how simple, credulous and sheep-like most of the Indian population is, most people I talked to were ready to bear the brunt because our leader told us it was overall a good move for the country. These people didn't realize how it would come back to haunt them when they start loosing their livelihood in the coming times.

I can't imagine anywhere else in the world, where people wouldn't have protested on a mass scale, if such a sudden, disastrous move would have been made on their lives without consulting them.

If you read about the history of Independent India, we still haven't settled down as a nation yet. Each decade has brought it's fair share of challenges and the churn is always on. I hope the current situation is just one of those and the idea of India, as what our forefathers deemed it to be, shall survive to fight another fight.

Edit: Grammar, Typos

To protest on a mass scale you need resources which cost money. When the very money is invalidated how do you think somebody would be able to protest? No one would be ready to take on the risk to provide goods for money which is invalid with the hopes that a protest might be a success.

This is hardly a new phenomenon.

India has for the past few hundred years been run by an elite linguistic minority - the so called Macaulay's children. It's hardly a wonder that the deep state in India both despises and organizes self-righteous protests against local linguistic communities, all while simultaneously ensuring that education, the bureaucracy and employment remain isolated to English speakers. Little wonder that most of India's bright minds leave for the US right after (or even before) graduation.

It's astonishing that Social 'Scientists' have paid such little attention to such glaring structural disparities (compared to say China), while they go on wrecking what's left of Indian society using theories entirely developed by foreigners. Education has definitely gone downhill as a result over the past few decades - while my parents tell us stories of great education in Public schools (run, quite sensibly, in the local languages), I can see the abysmal state of these today. The state has tried to offload its duties (while imposing one of the highest tax rates in the world) by emburdening Hindu-run schools (somehow this is 'secular') using RTE, but the competition and the fees at some of the better schools has become quite absurd of late, costing people close to ~$3000 annually, and an additional one time 'donation' which will help cut the long queues for these schools.

Considering that this kind of colonial social structures are absent in most countries, it is to be expected that the Indian economy can't really outgrow its ~100 million elite, while the underclass remains bound in a sub-saharan level educational and cognitive achievements (that is if they're even literate).

It is very interesting that the self-labelled "Left" in India is at the helm of further pushing these colonial policies, while the supposed "right", in their bombastic arrogance, are happy to implement them (see Shiv Sena, BJP etc., and also the DMKs in Tamil Nadu). It's very unlikely that India will ever achieve parity with China in our lifetimes, considering its self-destructive tendencies.

English is the ideal "neutral" link language for a country with as much linguistic diversity as India (thus also making it a suitable medium for education.) The alternative would be to force the whole country to learn a single language (Hindi), which is to them more foreign than English is, or to use only regional languages, making it difficult to have countrywide exams/educational content.

There is nothing colonial or elite about English -- it is simply the most practical choice for a link language, given we have to learn it anyway to interact with the rest of the world.

Agreed with everything. English is single most important factor towards upward mobility. Hindi imposition will suffocate linguistic diversity. Even the Hindi cooking channels for example, have started inserting so much nationalistic and religious issues in there. I just prefer Pakistani channels instead nowadays or just websites.

Notice how you need English education to even comment on forums like these. Now if you don't know English you just get filtered out of a lot of big things in this age. There is little you can do about it, because the west got ahead a few centuries during the industrial/renaissance age.

Don't blame west for anything, because our country was reasonably well off. It has warm tropical weather with 12 hours of sunlight, and plenty of water with fertile soil. Plus we didn't have those bubonic plagues. Despite this the kings here barely did anything on the human resources end. Heck there isn't even a remote concept of social equity in India.

Local languages can't show any miracles because you can't do any serious training or academic work with them.

This is a lot of self hate. The west got ahead in the colonial era, not just the industrial era. We had plenty of empires that worked on developing the country such as Mauryan, Maratha etc. I very much agree that a strong command over English is the only thing that can help someone in this country if they’re not born massively advantaged; but there is no need for un-true self-laceration.

If I could go back in time I would definitely smack some emperors around the head for not being more exploratory on the Naval front - but our very fertile soil was our undoing - much like China, no need to go anywhere if agriculture is highly viable right where you are, and foreigners come to YOU looking to buy the nice stuff you grow (spices).

What I wrote is a brutal self appraisal of the reality we are living through.

Where we stand is a direct consequence of what we have done in the past. To verify it all we have to do is see where are today.

Sorry if this offends you. But this is the reality.

You didn't do anything in the past. People from the past are not here now. You found yourself here as an accident of birth and are now aware of where you are and maybe how it came to be.

Now decide where you want to go from here, just like the countless before you have done - leading to you being here.

P.S : This is more as a note to self :).

The pejorative 'Macaulay's Children' should have given ample idea to where his comment was heading, and it did not disappoint.

>>> It's very unlikely that India will ever achieve parity with China in our lifetimes, considering its self-destructive tendencies.

And to add to that, we don't really exist in the most peaceful part of the world with at least two of our neighbors ( Ch, Pk ) having fought wars with us in the last fifty years.

It is interesting that you've mentioned 50. if you expand that to 80, that would be almost every country in the world.

Our biggest worry is climate change in the near future. Especially water scarcity.

We're in for a bad time in the coming two decades unless we go on a militant drive to conserve water.

Unfortunately I don't see that happening. Agriculture is our biggest consumer of water by a huge margin, but telling farmers to not grow water reliant but lucrative crops like sugarcane is political suicide.

UP is water scarce, yet it is also one of the biggest producers of sugarcane. Go figure.

Both of them being nuclear powers further complicates our security situation.

We fought with China, not the other way around.

> We fought with China, not the other way around.

That is not true.

From Wikipedia [0]: Unable to reach political accommodation on disputed territory along the 3,225 kilometre- (2,000 mile-) long Himalayan border,[10] the Chinese launched simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line on 20 October 1962.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_War

Not that I am a big fan of SCMP, but this fact is well known that India provoked the war[1]. There was even an opportunity to call off the war but we (our government) denied it.

[1] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2102555/i...

To each their own, but I'll stay with relatively neutral media, such as Wikipedia, as my source of information.

Anyway, we're digressing from the main topic of this post.

Sorry to say but Wikipedia is far from a neutral source.

I don't think that is all that relevant in this context (see Israel).

I tend to agree with you that Israel, as a country of its size and kind of neighbors its surrounded with, is not placed very pleasantly. But it is a country far more homogeneous than India in all the respects that make a nation ( religious, social, demographically and economy wise ).

As GP pointed out that India has the potential to self-implode given the inequality and poverty that has been bred for a long time ( hundreds of years ) by various rulers of the land.

The self destruction reaction might just fasten up if a catalyst is provided by anyone of the hostile neighbors.

Israel is very far from being homogeneous. It's made up of people who immigrated there from all over Europe and the Middle East. There is a big cultural divide between the people from European backgrounds and people from Middle Eastern backgrounds. It also has a significant Muslim population (17%).

Not sure about your overall points but Israel is far from homogenous with a large part of the country literally controlled by another government (Palestine).

Israel's neighbors don't have nukes. In India's case, on one side you have a known sponsor of terror(where Osama was found) and on another side we have One Party Communist China. And the fact that they both are partnering isn't helping.

The problem has been the absolutely pitiable amount of money which is being spent on human capital by the government. The government schooling systems across the country is in a mess - and this has nothing to do with "Macaulay's children" or English because most government schools are in the vernacular language.

The present government also made huge budget cuts in the mid-day meal programme which is an essential programme which draws the poor into the schools. So overall, things have gotten much worse.

> It is very interesting that the self-labelled "Left" in India is at the helm of further pushing these colonial policies..

When it comes to economy, the current Government will also fall into the "Left" category. BJP for all its talks, has done very little to take the country towards the capitalistic way. It took them years to slash the corporate tax which any economic-right government would've done long ago.

The political divide in the US is along similar lines. It's not a problem unique to India, it's driven by technology that gives those who can exploit it best a big economic edge.

It's not driven at all by technology. It's driven by central banks with easy money, further fracturing the divide between the poor and ultra wealthy. Technology just allows you to see evil for what it is.

Central banking is a technology. Capitalism is a technology. Democracy is a technology.

At least that's what the tech tree in Civilization says :).

Seriously, in the modern world, almost everything is a technic[1].

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Technological-Society-Jacques-Ellul/d...

You can choose to view things that way, but that's just a perception, not the actual nature of these concepts. You could equally well say they are all philosophies and use that to reinforce a view you hold.

Yes, my thoughts are partly shaped by how I perceive things, see them, read about them.

However when you have spent time exploring the concepts, go to their origins, subject them to your analysis, to what people before you have thought about them through the different ages, pay attention to the meaning of the names and not use them flippantly, look at who wields the power and who benefits, watch your own motivations and those of others, then I believe it ceases to be mere perception and the true nature of the thing under consideration reveals itself. Yes you may not understand it in its entirety, but you tend to grasp the essence where earlier it was cloaked in myth.

I'll give you an example. People exemplify the benefits of division of labour stated by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations. That is how it is conventionally taught. But they conveniently ignore how he talks about the soul crushing, mind numbingness of it later in the book. How it negatively affects the nature of man. And this resonates with ones experience having gone through the grind.

Also the nature of things is not fixed, static. It evolves too. It changes those using it and in turn is shaped by them. What started of as a good idea, mutates into a self-perpetuating myth.

Please read the book I referred if you are really interested in the actual nature of these concepts.

Exactly. The science and art of economics is also a technique with only probability based outcomes. If the underlying assumptions change, then things will slowdown / grow in unexpected ways.

If anything, easy money transfers wealth downward. Tight money transfers wealth upward.

>>well-to-do educated class have simply stopped looking at the country as a whole

To put it bluntly they don't care. They don't care until they lose their jobs, until they can't pay their kids school fees, until they lose their home/car when they default on their loans, and more importantly they don't care for the social problems until its their kids or family whose life is on the line.

They outsource their hate to political parties who do the work for them, they wake in the morning read headlines in the news papers, and if it fits in their political world view they just carry on.

To put it frankly not a single person from the current working generation will likely face much issues from these socio economic problem. Mostly a few problems. The coming generation are screwed, they will inherit a dead economy and impossible to fix social conditions.

what do you think of movements like Sadhguru's Cauvary Calling -- to replenish the greenery in India's agricultural areas and bring back prosperity to farmers who are on the brink of suicide. I find his talks very inspirational, from someone halfway across the planet.

I think he is a charlatan who preys on insecurities and charges hefty amounts for his seminars. He was holding one such environmental one and the organization itself was deemed pretty bad for the environment. So much so that the PM didn't show up.

They've planted 35 million trees[1] through volunteer activity, trained farmers and provided schooling to poor villagers, and they are bad for environment? what sources are you using? And secondly, could you be so kind as to provide your preferred alternative organization that provides these resources in the country? I would like to learn why you think their efforts are disingenuous, and how they would function as an organization , buying assets such as centres/schools etc without charging rich(relative to the 400m starving ones in the country) people fees to attend yoga/meditation retreats. [1] https://www.ishaoutreach.org/en/project-greenhands

Sadhguru gets very cheap land in prime areas from the government.

Also this stuff


I have only heard but have not taken the time. To be honest, I think city-zens like myself are so far out from the agricultural areas that I have really never taken deep interest. But I have recently become more interested and I will read up.

"Prosperity" here means stable 2 meals a day...

this is happening in the west and is one of the reasons of a wave of authoritarian governments elected in a mostly democratic fashion, with a little bit of a stir from certain nation states psyops divisions.

Same as America. We have been doing this for the last 50 years.

Would you say the socialist policies of the government have had a negative effect or a positive effect on the country's economy? In your opinion as a resident, does this play at all into why things are the way they are economically?

You can hardly call the policies socialist, because there is no coherent thinking behind any of the policies.

Rather, the current government’s actions seem to be driven solely by the government’s electoral needs of the day.

New election coming up? Announce huge “socialist” policies promising free stuff to a lot of people.

Massive foreign rally where the economy will be a rallying point coming up, but your markets are at a low and falling? Announce a huge “capitalist” 10% corporate tax rate cut that boosts the markets and doesn’t throw a dampener on your rally.

> Rather, the current government’s actions seem to be driven solely by the government’s electoral needs of the day.

That's what any Government does in India.


There are both good and bad aspects to the socialist approach taken by India.

(+) The biggest gain: There have been no famines in Independent India - in the previous 80 years, around 20 million died in famines. This was a massive issue during the freedom movement.

(+) State-subsidised education has succeeded in producing an elite which is world-class. However, state-subsidised _basic education_ is non-existent in many places, and literacy rates have been slow to grow nationally.

(-) Excessive regulations have stymied industry, and led to massive corruption. The regulatory codes in India are needlessly complex and stringent. Many people opt to bribe out than comply, it is much cheaper that way.

Overall, it has taken India more or less along a path of progress and is less of a mess than others think it is (see Hans Rosling's informative presentations for this). But, Indians feel frustrated because we feel the pace of progress should be much more.

An absolutely avoidable problem.

On the day the Indian govt announced demonitization, the first phone calls I made were to economists and to people with actual experience working in the hinterlands.

Because the fact that was true in 1990, 2000, and the day of demonitization was that more than 70% of India transacts through cash.

This has never changed. Demonitization meant that for those people, the economy didn’t just stall, it stopped.

However, people are resilient and the belief was that people would recover.

Except that the govt followed up with a new tax regime that applied to everyone - including these cash driven workers.

These are people who don’t have electricity, and aren’t even necessarily literate.

I think most people can appreciate the cost to their razor thin margins when the costs of compliance, translation, formal accounting and more get tacked on.

The part that most people forget, because this govt has superb PR, was that before The elections the largest protests by farmers was taking place in Delhi.

Farmers commit suicide in india at some rate measurable in multiple dead farmers per day. It was bad before and was getting worse.

However this was obscured A few days later, by India’s assault on terrorist camps in Pakistan territory.

The dramatic and muscular response changed the focus- people went from complaining to “I should endure, see what my country is doing to my enemies.”

In short : the signs have always been there, they have never been hidden, and it’s likely the relatively more privileged classes who were unaware of what was happening.

There are over 100 million farmers in India. If India farmers had the US suicide rate you would expect ~40 suicides per day.


>The US farmer suicide crisis echoes a much larger farmer suicide crisis happening globally: an Australian farmer dies by suicide every four days; in the UK, one farmer a week takes his or her own life; in France, one farmer dies by suicide every two days; in India, more than 270,000 farmers have died by suicide since 1995

2015 had about 37 farmers killing themselves everyday if I’m not off.


And Wikipedia article on Indian farmer suicides.

I get what your saying, but ~630 people per day commit suicide in India. That's ~50 million people since 1995.

In other words Indian farmers are not unusual likely to commit suicide, it's just a sick talking point.

Alternatively, the suicide rate is pointing to systemic issues present in society, and while other counties may be okay with ignoring these issues as part of a “personal responsibility”, it’s not something to be generally approved of.

The OP is Indian, can we not agree that the OP does not think this is an acceptable suicide rate regardless of how comparable it is to the general rate or the rate in other countries?

That works out to ~5 million, not 50m. Still horrible to think about. 5.518 million people killed themselves?


Ops, had 5.5 million figured that was false precision, and somehow edited it to 50 :(

This isn't a competition. It's also bad in the US. That doesn't make it acceptable in India

The point is that, given India's population, "multiple suicides per day" tells us nothing. That could be astoundingly low or astoundingly high. More precision is needed.

Demonetization is just one of many issues. It mainly affected cash and credit based businesses. It's not directly responsible for the lack of demand in various sectors. The current slowdown is a result of many more things. Some issues are structural, while others are cyclical.




As I stated, demo and then GST.

Further, remember that 5 Rs biscuits are not being bought.

This means that other more expensive things like perhaps medicine were already casualties when that news hit the airwaves.

This means Discretionary spending is likely dead.

To give you context of how bad this is- remember that india survived multiple oil crisis, the 2008 global meltdown and more- without similar damage.

We’ve at most been hurt by the rise of fuel costs - I remember the BJP staying that ONGC was unprofitable when they were the opposition - that was because of the cost of buying fuel from abroad.

The other thing that hurts India has been the price of onions.

However we have not really faced a crisis of this nature.

This is not like what we have had to face before.

People should be paying close attention to rural demand.

Rural demand is the leviathan beneath the surface of the sensex/nifty and the organized sector.

You should be looking at headlines with a laser focus on rural demand and the monsoon impact on crops.

What has 5 Rs biscuits are not being bought has got to do with GST? It's specifically addressed in the podcast I shared. It's more like the company wants tax cuts from the Government.

And, no, "Discretionary demand" is not dead. There's no data to back that claim. The demand has decreased and that's why we're in a slowdown.

Rural demand is not the only thing that has gone. Urban demand is also down. We've had years of bad loans, high taxes etc. Add to it sector specific changes like new Engine norms in Auto sector and introduction of norms like RERA in real estate. These were going to culminate in a slowdown sooner or later.

Cmon man, even the articles you link support my statements.

Look, you are free to believe what you want. Belief is deeply personal.

However I can state factually that when demo happened it was obvious to me and others that this would harm the unorganized sector.

Same with GST.

At the same time I have regularly asked everyone, from people in the know to think tanks - where is govt spending going.

Know that the center and state govts have been spending heavily since the BJP came to power - hence the unprecedented transfer of funds from public entities to the center, or the reduction of funding to NGOs in favor of Govt CSR initiatives.

This means that GDP has been propped up by govt spending all these years.

Taxes are not a sufficient issue, And I personally oversaw a transition to a new engine regime in my previous firm whose primary item was engine driven - NONE Of that leads to today’s scenario.

You want to believe - feel free. But the subject matter here is not about beliefs, it’s about facts as best stated in that article:

>Almost all these economic indicators suggest that we are well into an economic slowdown, and it can possibly get worse from here. The irony is that this slowdown seems to be obvious to everyone except the government. The question this leaves us with is, how do you solve a problem without acknowledging it first?

PS: if you, an Econ neophyte we’re aware that the culmination of all these measures would result in a slow Down (even with the new untested GDP figures) then the govt should know fat earlier than you and simply not do all of it at the same time, or gradually change things.

However that is beyond the ability of this govt and it was their primary criticism when they were elected- india needs actual talent able to manage it, because it’s ovviously far more complex than people imagine.

>>PS: if you, an Econ neophyte we’re aware that the culmination of all these measures would result in a slow Down (even with the new untested GDP figures) then the govt should know fat earlier


On 8 November 2016, as Modi prepared to announce his surprise decision to annul all high-denomination bank notes, he gathered his top ministers.


When a colleague later asked Gadkari about this, “he said, ‘He had already made up his mind, he was just doing a paper exercise to corner us. So I tried to go one up on him.’”

Basically 2 - 3 people are making big decisions in the government without any advice, inputs or feed back from anywhere.

This is a recipe for disasters. Governments are not a one man show. Politicians are the least qualified people to make any real decisions, governments should be advised by experts panels and committees with politicians doing an intersection of that and what's in the interest of their constituencies.

Also one of the biggest access to talent to human resources this government had in the planning commission was fired and the body dissolved.

> This is an extract from The Caravan’s April 2018 cover story, “Son of the Sangh.” It has been edited and condensed.

They are citing themselves?

It's a small part of their article from the print edition posted online.

You seem to willfully feigning ignorance and splitting hairs all throughout this thread.

My beliefs are irrelevant to the discussion. You haven't shared any data or analysis to support your claims. No one's denying that Demonetization and GST harmed certain sections of people. But blaming the current slowdown on just those two measures is ignoring the deeper issues with the economy which were discussed in the links I shared. And yet you make more claims without any citations or source.

Your links are quora- a non academic source, an article that supports my position, and a non academic pod cast by a CEO.

Sorry, I’m having trouble connecting the concepts between your paragraphs. What is the main point you like to convey?

That the government's financial policies were disastrous and high handed. Attention from these was diverted by PR blitzkrieg events and invoking nationalism.

> Farmers commit suicide in India at some rate measurable in multiple dead farmers per day.

India is big. What's the per capita rate?

India's GDP per capita = ~$2,000 . India is a $2.6 trillion economy with 1.3 billion people.

In comparison: * US GDP per capita = $56,000 . US is a $18 trillion economy with 325 million people. * Mainland China GDP per capita = $8,000 . China (supposedly [1]) has a $11 trillion economy with 1.3 billion people.

[1] "Supposedly" because China's GDP and other economic numbers are reportedly inflated and no one knows what the true numbers are.

He wasn't asking about gdp. He wants to know the suicide rate per 100,000 people and see if farmers are outliers.

That's great, but I struggle to see the relevance to how many people per million commit suicide.

I live and work in a Tier 3 city in India. I generally find it more comfortable and liveable in (though perhaps a little too slow and boring).

Anyway, one of things that I've reading about and slowly beginning to align with is the massiveness of the unorganised sector in the country. Lots of transactions and activity takes place in a way that the central government and planning agencies don't have direct visibility into.

To use a programming metaphor, it's a huge ball of legacy code with patches on top of patches on top of workarounds and special cases. Trying to systematically manipulate this is hard, to say the least. I'm not sure if the push to digital transactions, the demonetisation and other things will change this. I don't think it's likely but neverthless, it's an interesting thought exercise.

One interesting podcast that recently discussed this is https://www.thinkpragati.com/podcast/the-seen-and-the-unseen.... It specifically discusses GDP as a performance measure, what its limitations are and how those are relevant to India.

I live in a Tier 1 city and online transactions have gone up over the years. Not sure how much of this is due to the Demonetization, but UPI has played a significant part.[1]

1. https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/banking-finance/in....

My experience as well. A lot of people even in Tier 3 places ask whether if you have Tez or something especially if they don't have change.

India's policymakers seem to have no idea how the country actually works. Both Demonetization and GST are classic examples, as is the constant back and forth on taxes. The GST system is so draconian that most small businesses can't use it without seeking outside help. And this outside help is expensive - at least for a small trader making tiny profits.

The surcharge on FPIs is another example. Could the government not have foreseen that there will be a flight of capital because of the surcharge? They ended up retracting it anyway.

Given the size of the informal economy in the country, both GST and Demonetization were necessarily draconian for the scale of the problem they were trying to address.

Admittedly both failed at improving the economy, but it has caused progress in strides towards the gargantuan problem that is the grey market.

Everyone uses banks now, and online transactions have become the norm. My observations are restricted to urban areas though, so YMMV.

Formallization of economy does come at a price

Does the price include weekly rule changes and the assumption that your largely poorly educated population will somehow learn to use your poorly designed, complicated software?

Yes. Things that have never been done before on such large scale can be only be perfected with incremental changes after gathering data.

Easy for us to say sitting in our ivory towers my man. Draconian laws aren't impacting our ability to feed and clothe ourselves.

I'm not sure how complicated GST software impacted someone's ability to feed and clothe ourselves.

Most of the key laws in India do impact many people in India because it's a country with a huge population. Nowadays there is the talk of banning single-use-plastic in the country. Companies are likely to lose business and some people will be severely impacted. Does that mean we should continue to use that kind of plastic(which harms the environment)?

I agree that there have been problems. And yes, many people are impacted due to the slowdown.

But I am not sitting in an ivory tower. I am a middle class Indian living in tier 3 city who is trying to learn to code and make a living remotely...

Having a poorly educated population is no excuse for not bringing in technology. India is a country with huge population(more than 1 billion people). It will take time to get everyone "properly" educated.

It's no excuse for bad policy making and poor software design either. India doesn't have a lack of software talent. Yet every single government touchpoint is atrociously designed with UX that gives even a seasoned computer user like me pause.

Policy that disregards its intended target - the bulk of the population - is bad policy.

I've a theory but that is not backed by data.

Land prices in India are dropping rapidly. Here how (my hypothesis): People for generations have thought that land prices will always increase. It might have been true before Demonetization. But now it is almost impossible to do anything with cash (expect the purchase of land). So if anyone thinks of buying land for any residential, commercial or industrial purpose, they will not able to use their cash in building because there are subsidies available for those who take loans to finance such building. So people will use loans (accounted money) to build their buildings. You cannot also buy cars with cash (unaccounted cash).

Because of this, land purchases have either gone down or vanished (by unaccounted cash which was majority of the purchases).

So the prices are rapidly falling as people decide on selling and don't find a buyer at the perceived market rate. So they lower the prices and the vicious downward cycle continues.

Put simply: There was a land price bubble because of black money. Now the bubble is slowly bursting. IMO the bubble was so huge (as a % of the GDP), I think we're in serious trouble with the spillover effect of fallen property prices.

Long term real estate returns are roughly equivalent to bank fixed deposits. The higher returns are during periods of speculation in certain regions.

While it is true that a lot of real estate transactions used to happen in cash, one of the major increase in housing prices was easy availability of credit. Banks would extend credit to both the developers and buyers. However the developers weren't required to repay the loans as they were extended, allowing them to sit on the inventory and keep increasing prices.

While the cash crunch has contributed to decrease in RE prices, the banking/NBFC NPAs are also equally responsible.

I find this vilification of cash naive and disingenuous. Naive for those who do not understand that many who deal in it earn too low to be taxed. Disingenuous for those who understand and still propagate this myth.

Governments want to get rid of cash because it is a debt to them and they cannot easily confiscate it as they can money lying in a bank. Also cash provides a little safeguard against negative interest rates. Also transactions cannot be tracked or taxed. With digital transactions, the payment processors introduce a 1-2% tax on the economy.

I did not vilify cash in any way in my argument. I just stated my (little, unscientific) hypothetical analysis of the existing underlying situation.

Ofcourse, getting rid of cash is very helpful to a "government" or "state" in collecting taxes, tracking as well as negative interest rates (even though I hope that is far away for India).

But cash also helps get rid of corruption and any government which itself exists on the basis of black money will never do anything against black money which is what a factual analysis of the previous government will tell you.

And the cash earners who earn too less to be taxed should be helped to get out of poverty which is only possible when they get a bank account and receive the money via direct benefit transfer which was meant for them instead of political goons.

So it is no myth that the money Indian government was spending for the poor, never reached the poor and one of the reasons was because it was cash. And if we do not vilify corruption, I don't think any positive future is possible.

*Not that the current government is white-washed and exists without black money, but the previous simply wasn't interested in solving the problem.

I did not mean that about you, but in general. Sorry if it came across like that.

>>There was a land price bubble because of black money. Now the bubble is slowly bursting.

High value transactions were already tracked AND you can't register a property anywhere in a city without a PAN card. So enough with this depicting investors as cheats.

There is no bubble because India is in the beginning of urbanization phases, and land rates are obviously high because the demand is way beyond the supply. So the prices being high is basically Econ 101.

Instead of framing arguments this way, try understanding how some people are able to anticipate and buy lands years in advance, while some people can't even maintain discipline to invests in SIPs.

Just to make it clear, not all part of the deal used to happen via formal money exchanged. Some part of deal was transferred via bank/check and some part via cash. This was done to avoid tax on the whole deal amount. And I believe people will still try to do that.

> High value transactions were already tracked AND you can't register a property anywhere in a city without a PAN card.

I don't how you never experienced or know that this PAN card requirement is not much. A lot of land/home transaction involves large amount of unaccounted cash and this does not reflect on registered property price. Also if land price is 'obviously high' why rental yields are lowest in India compared to price of property. Who would really buy real estate if bank fixed deposits give better returns than rental income?

>>I don't how you never experienced or know that this PAN card requirement is not much.

You literally can't register a property in Bangalore without a PAN card. So please... AND the registrations are online. Everything is tracked. And in fact people themselves prefer its tracked because it prevents encroachment, double registrations etc.

>>A lot of land/home transaction involves large amount of unaccounted cash and this does not reflect on registered property price.

This was there long back. People keep repeating this, without any basis. The government can evaluate every single property and its evaluation traded as of at least 15 years now.

>>Also if land price is 'obviously high' why rental yields are lowest in India compared to price of property.

Because of several things. Firstly Land prices are high because individual people want them. Second when home units are built they are built several units over a single piece of land. Thirdly rental yields are also dependent on quality of construction, access to infrastructure, locality etc.

>>Who would really buy real estate if bank fixed deposits give better returns than rental income?

Simple reason. If you put money in fixed deposits inflation will eat the principle and you will eat the returns. Liquid money is easy to spend so it goes fast. Real estate is hard to dispose, so it stays and can be transferred over to the next generations.

Plus land rates appreciate, and you get rental yield and you can use the deposit money to earn interest. Beyond this you get the advantage of owning a piece of real estate in prime locations as time passes.

Stock investments require a lot of baby sitting and economic problems like these its hard for people to make decisions. Money once gone cannot be recovered easily. In case of real estate lands don't rot or vanish.

Looking at it from multiple vantage points, Land ownership is by far the best investment you will make in a country like India.

I just explained why the demand is falling...

Not just the land but also Real Estate in big cities.

A lot of Real Estate deals happened with significant cash percentage so that people could cheat with Stamp duty and Registration. At the same time, this also inflated the prices , thereby making them unaffordable to a large section of society.

American (who spends lots of time in India) here: what is stamp duty and registration? I see a lot of stamp paper and still don't really understand what it is

Think about it as the weak government trick to collect taxes. Government is weak and can't enforce tax collection: i.e 99% of citizens will still not comply even if you are aggressive in auditing. So instead, they collect taxes where you can't escape them.

Since you need to register land/house at the national registry (or similar), they require that you pay a tax before you can execute such a registration. Obviously, you can lie here but at least they are getting something out of it. Other tricks are taxes when you are leaving the country (buy a stamp so that you can board a plane), arbitrarily giving tickets on highways, super high taxes on telecommunication, cars and other stuff where you need to go through government, taxes collected by municipality go to the government instead, etc...

It'd be interesting to study all countries and deduce that if a government is using these measures then it is a failed government.

> Other tricks are taxes when you are leaving the country (buy a stamp so that you can board a plane)

What is this about? Genuinely curious. (Indian, and I haven't heard of this before.)

Basically you buy a stamp before being able to travel.

You mean passport?

No a stamp. A real stamp that you show to the immigration officer. And you have to buy a new one every time you travel.

Again, this is the first I'm hearing of this. Do you have a link that explains this?

Pakistani-American here - land transfers in subcontinent are carried out by first going to the local patwari (clerk) in charge of land revenue records. Stamp duty and and registration is charged after that on declared transfer price of the property, so cash portion is under the table and not subject to it


Source: family selling a house in Karachi

As a note, that site is out of date for Punjab, in 2017 they combined a lot of taxes under stamp duty (not relevant to me obviously)

So black money is equally prevalent in Pakistan also? Another sign of our strong bond, connection and brotherhood! xD

Not Paki, but aware of their situation.

It is not "equally" prevalent. It is at least an order of magnitude worse. Almost everything in Pak is about an order of magnitude worse than in India. Almost everything, except civic violence - that's about 2-3 orders of magnitude worse. The establishment has traditionally had other priorities. The current PM is trying to fix some things but faces tremendous pushback.



Quote from wiki - "The use of stamped paper in the American colonies was so unpopular that it has been credited with sowing the seeds of the American Revolution"

Suppose you wish to register ownership of a house/car/etc. The government might want to collect taxes at that point. Instead of asking that you remit money with the specific agency, you are asked to buy "govt authorized stamps" (from a central agency) worth the same amount and affix it to the registration documents as proof of payment.

When you buy a property, you have to register the property (on your name) with the local government body (generally the Municipal Corporation).

The fee paid here is calculated as a percentage of the price paid for the land/property. So everyone buys (on paper) at exactly the ready reckoner rates (the minimum prices) and then pay the minimum taxes (or registration fees). While in reality the prices are way higher than the ready reckoner prices (generally 5 to 10 times) and so the rest of the price is paid in cash (unaccounted black money).

If I may ask: Where in India so you like to spend your time in terms of urban/rural India? Have you found any life-threats just because you're a foreigner?

> While in reality the prices are way higher than the ready reckoner prices (generally 5 to 10 times)

Sub-registrars often refuse to value the property at the ready reckoner price. I've seen transactions where the registered value was more than 60% of the actual value, though this is in an urban area.

Basically when you buy any property in India, you have to get your name as the owner in the historical record of the owners with the Land Registrar. This is the registration which is around 3-4% of the property value. The respective states also charge 2-3% for the sale.

Do you have an yearly property tax also?

Yes, that you pay to the city.

This was due. It was disguised due the euphoria of the election year.

I think the current government is going to find out the hard way that one cannot tame the economic beast. There are things like delays, feedback, international events, the weather which you cannot control and can render your models ineffective. Huge expenditures were lined up expecting increased tax revenues which declined due to faulty policies/increasing compliance cost leading to a downward spiral. No transparency in handling the NPAs. Instead we get bank mergers, saddling good ones with the bad.

Also the increased exposure to sovereign debt denominated in foreign currency will be a greater risk.

Everything is glossed over/tinged by nationalistic fervor which makes admitting you were wrong or you made a mistake an anathema.

> Also the increased exposure to sovereign debt denominated in foreign currency will be a greater risk.

Borrowing from outside could be good if the interest rates are lower.

In theory yes. Except you don't have control over the interest rate nor the exchange rate. When the double whammy hits you, you have no cover.

If a government has internal debt, i.e in it's own currency, it can print the debt away which would cause inflation and some distress.

If the government has external debt i.e foreign currency, it is at the mercy of those creditors who can now dictate policy.

To expound further, the government borrows roughly INR 5 lakh crores net per year. In the next year, the estimate of revenue that we want to collect just taxes, Indians will collect about 16 lakh gross, the government will pay 6.5 lakh crores in debt interest payment. About 40% percent of all of money that you're paying as a tax, is going not to build infrastructure, not to feed the hungry, not to pay farmers for food. It's going towards interest payments on the debt they borrowed in the past. Why would this be a problem? because we borrow debt at extremely high rates part.[1]

1. https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cDovL2NhcGl0YWxtaW5kLm...

I know most of the revenue goes into interest payments. The solution to that is not to borrow more at lower interest and waste on profligate projects which won't generate revenue.

We cannot exactly determine in advance if a project is going to be a waste.

The Government has to get more money in one or the other for purchasing weapons, infrastructure building and financing social schemes. One way is to increase taxes which we all hate, the other way is to borrow. So, why not borrow at low interests?

>> We cannot exactly determine in advance if a project is going to be a waste.

Really ? Please stop the doublespeak.

Purchasing weapons, social schemes (read subsidies/guaranteed income), mega infrastructure projects are all wasteful.

Borrowed money when not invested in revenue generation is an extra tax on future generations.

Obviously, those things will not bring in revenue and they are wasteful from that perspective. But they are still required for national security, upliftment of poor and to facilitate people of the country.

> Borrowed money when not invested in revenue generation is an extra tax on future generations.

That's true. But Government isn't a business, they've to finance a plethora of things.

This article states the symptoms without even remotely touching the root causes. When the current government took control in 2014, they moved swiftly and banned entirety of 1000 and 500 notes in circulation. This was a move called Demonetisation. This effectively killed the economy. This was originally hailed as an ace move by the government's supporters. Because it was originally thought untaxed money(also known as black money) is the root cause of India's illness. What happened in reality was a lot of capital intensive businesses suffered as an immediate aftermath. The most important of them being Real estate, which employees a huge section of people and drives a lot of business. Cement, Paint, Plumbing, Electrical, Logistics etc etc. Indian public is also very price sensitive. It's not considered wise to be spending money buying cars if you don't even have a home. This was the first blow.

Secondly, there was a tax policy called GST. This was the next big blunder made by the government. The Indian economy is a result of tons of hacks carefully evolved and put into place over decades. GST had a flawed execution and with equally screwed up tax rates. Revisions are painful to impossible. Quarterly filing is hard for small businesses and rates are just unworkable. Combined with a lot of extortion like activities from Tax authorities. Tons of start ups suffered too.

This is above and beyond the fact that the current government has possibly the worst possible social policy. India's diversity is at risk. Choice of food or religion can get you lynched. The government is planning a country wide citizenship register, on the same lines of Reich Citizenship Law, detention(concentration?) camps are already being built. This is a serious threat to India's future on the very longer run. These experiments have never worked anywhere in the world, and will be an even bigger disaster given how big and diverse India is.

For what its worth stating, economy isn't even in the top ten list of priorities this government has and its constituency doesn't care either.

> The Indian economy is a result of tons of hacks carefully evolved and put into place over decades.

This is a key line for me. There will always be a point where a country has to replace the hacks that developed over a decade or two with a more comprehensive system. - This reform should have been implemented much more carefully, but it generally was a step in the right direction (In contrast to demonetisation).

You can see this by looking at opposition parties: While they are all opposed to it in its current form, nobody is suggesting to go back to the old system. And some things certainly have improved as a result of the tax reform, too. - It is just that the government now seems unable to round out the rather substantial problems that have come to light.

The opposition being dumb/timid doesn't make you right.

>> It is just that the government now seems unable to round out the rather substantial problems that have come to light.

This is the key. In the hype/fervour these were ignored and those who were pointing it were ridiculed.

To paraphrase Boromir, One doesn't simply tinker with the economy.

Yes you may brute force/propagandize your way (again) out of this, but in the end, the people have to bear it. And they still support the very people who inflict this damage which I cannot fathom why. It cuts across economic/class hierarchy.

> And they still support the very people who inflict this damage which I cannot fathom why.

For 80% people life was always brutish and nasty in India. They are not going to have sympathy for rich asshole is not buying car due to GST or BS V1. In fact they would really support political class which made well-off people suffer.

> The government is planning a country wide citizenship register, on the same lines of Reich Citizenship Law, detention(concentration?) camps are already being built.

That's flase. This Government didn't "plan" NRC. It was actually supposed to happen as per the Assam Accord which was signed by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. Successive Congress Governments didn't act on it due to vote bank politics.[1] It was finally implemented in 2013 when the Supreme Court directed the Government to do so.[2] The current leadership came into power in 2014.

1. https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/rajiv-g...

2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Register_of_Citizen...

>>That's flase. This Government didn't "plan" NRC.

They are now: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-natio...


This is recipe for disaster. Keep in mind, India has millions of people who lose homes, and documents during floods, or have to migrate because they are daily wage workers and can't find jobs, or have to escape pogroms, or lose documents due to other reasons.

In fact most of the Indian public is poor and can't produce land records to prove anything, they don't own any land. They don't have passports because they haven't traveled or even had a need to.

> In fact most of the Indian public is poor and can't produce land records to prove anything, they don't own any land. They don't have passports because they haven't traveled or even had a need to.

That was also true in 1985 when GoI signed the Assam Accord. Why did the GoI lie to the people of Assam if all this was a disaster in the first place?

Regardless of what happened in the past, the recent stress on NRC is due to the SC order in 2013. I'm not sure how the Government should've defied the SC order. Even if they had done that, it could've had ramifications in Assam which has already seen a lot of violence against ethnic Bengalis.

You forget the part where there are now calls to implement it across other states also.

This has become predictable. You use historical context to set a precedent and then extend it to everybody.

I see that calls are being made in West Bengal which also borders Bangladesh. Not a surprise.

> a country wide citizenship register

Ignoring the fantastical claims about "detention camps" (What on earth is the relation to citizenship registry?)

> These experiments have never worked anywhere in the world

What experiments? A citizenship register? What is the problem with a country having a registry of the people who live in the country? In most functioninig countries there are multiple such registries (tax authority, social security, ...).

The register will make non citizens out of citizens who have lived in the country for 30-40 years. They have to provide evidence that they were in the country 40 years ago. This is hard enough in a developed country (I mean, look at the nonsense surrounding Obama’s birth certificate), but it’s absolutely ridiculous in a country that is about 70 years old, and the period selected was surrounded by war and mass migration.

Further, the intent was clearly to disempower religious minorities because after the register found way more Hindus didn’t have evidence than they predicted they said Hindus were excluded from this (which is actually not surprising...imagine you fled Bangladesh to come to India due to the war there in the 70s. It’s far more likely you would have some sort of paperwork that you would hold on to than someone whose family had been living there for generations).

Are not census and the Domesday book examples of 'citizenship registers' 'working'?

I'm familiar with the holocaust.

I'm not following how normal (census, social security etc) government people registries are connected to the detention centers, much less to the holocaust.

My question was: isn't registries of people normal in most countries? There must be something about these registries that is bad, in the way they are created or (ab)used.

>> I'm not following how normal (census, social security etc) government people registries are connected to the detention centers

This is anything but a normal registry. NRC (National Register of Citizens) effectively strips about 2 million people of their nationality in the north-eastern state of Assam [1]. Even the ones who have lived their entire lives are put on the NRC list if they can't prove their ancestors (not just them) didn't come to the state prior to March 24, 1971. In most cases, they are asked to produce birth certificates of their parents [2]. They have a large poor and uneducated population that won't have birth certificates. In fact, birth certificates weren't commonly issued in India for decades post-independence. And when they realized that it's not just the Muslims that will be impacted by this, Modi introduced Citizenship Amendment Bill [2] that openly declares to grant Indian nationality to anyone who is persecuted in a nearby country — except if they're Muslim. It is in this context that the detention centers are being built [2]. They are not even pretending anymore - xenophobia is the only excuse.

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49520593 [2] https://www.npr.org/2019/05/10/721188838/millions-in-india-f...

> strips about 2 million people of their nationality

That's a fantastic argument for why it's bad. "This isn't a normal registry". Thanks. I wonder why the previous person couldn't make that argument. Another person argued a risk that it would contain an element of ethnical/religious register, which is also a bad sign.

What I was trying to argue was that a register is not by definition a bad thing. There is something about it that is bad. Such that its implementation is discriminating, for example.

Citizenship bill was introduced long before NRC's final list was out.

NRC had already been introduced. The final list was out later. Doesn't change anything about the point being made.

Citizenship bill was first introduced in 2016. And the final NRC list was out in 2019. How would the Government know three years in advance that a large number of people from one particular religion will be out from the list?

That still doesn't make discriminating against a religion OK, does it? NRC timeline is irrelevant here.

Discrimination against any religion is not OK and NRC has been religion-agnostic. So, I fail to see your point.

NRC is a list(Table). Tables are not laws. Table is data on which you apply the laws.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill has been designed precisely for this purpose. Your name wasn't included in the NRC? As long as you are not a Muslim you don't have to worry. Because non-Muslims get a blanket citizenship(per CAB), or in other words blanket inclusion into NRC.

India also has a Census. The NCR is not a Census but a miserable ploy to divide people on the basis of religion and disenfranchise minorities. I say this as someone who is a Hindu and is frankly disgusted with this authoritarian government using religion to solely empower themselves.

They’ve learnt the colonial British tricks well.

What's with the religion in NRC? The last I checked the process was religion-agnostic. Lot of Hindus and Muslims were left out in the final list. Doesn't look like a ploy to divide people.

Three things:

Step 1: Citizenship Amendment Bill, gives citizenship to every one apart from Muslims(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_Amendment_Bill_201...)

Step 2: From Step 1, all religion adherents apart from Islam are automatically included in NRC.

Step 3: From Step 1 and 2, NRC becomes all about Muslims.

This is an exact tweet by Amit Shah:

"We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus and Sikhs: Shri @AmitShah #NaMoForNewIndia"

Tweets and real life are not always in sync.

No other state has anything equivalent to Assam Accord.

It's amazing how you can dismiss the home minister's own words as not "real life".

The horse neighs and you still insist it's a duck.

But that is precisely the plan. BJP has made it clear that they will want NRC implemented nation wide.

From less than a week ago:

Amit Shah reiterates that NRC will be implemented nationwide: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/govt-will-implemen...

UP and Haryana have stated that they are going to implement NRC.

NRC in Haryana: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/we-will-implement-nrc-...

NRC in UP: https://www.news18.com/news/politics/up-can-look-at-rolling-...

> The NCR is not a Census but a miserable ploy to divide people on the basis of religion and disenfranchise minorities

That is a much better explanation. That's an ethnic/religious register not merely an register of people in a country.

You can't show up with thugs and take something you don't know exists. Sure you could go door to door looking for whatever your after (be that people or property) but that scales inefficiently and the false positive rate will be so high it will probably provoke a revolt. In practice registration is a necessary precursor to the government showing up and taking something unless the government can get people's neighbors to rat on each other (good luck with that).

Governments have killed a lot of people and stolen a lot of property over the years. People are justified in being very weary of the government knowing who they are and what they have.

The first 20yr of the USSR are probably a better point of comparison than the holocaust but whatever.

>>I'm familiar with the holocaust.

Doesn't look like it.

>>I'm not following how normal (census, social security etc) government people registries are connected to the detention centers, much less to the holocaust.

Because https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Laws

On April 12, 1933, the German government announced plans to conduct a long-delayed national census.[2]:54 The project was particularly important to the Nazis as a mechanism for the identification of Jews, Gypsies, and other ethnic groups deemed undesirable by the regime. Dehomag offered to assist the German government in its task of ethnic identification, concentrating upon the 41 million residents of Prussia.[2]:55 This activity was not only countenanced by Thomas Watson and IBM in America, Black argues, but was actively encouraged and financially supported, with Watson himself traveling to Germany in October 1933 and the company ramping up its investment in its German subsidiary from 400,000 to 7,000,000 Reichsmark—about $1 million.[2]:60 This injection of American capital allowed Dehomag to purchase land in Berlin and to construct IBM's first factory in Germany, Black charges, thereby "tooling up for what it correctly saw as a massive financial relationship with the Hitler regime".[2]:60

They even bought in state of the art technology of the day to track all those people: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust


Holocaust didn't start at the concentration camps.

It started way earlier. It's not easy to convince ordinary good people like you to support gassing millions of people. The Nazis had to first build a case(propaganda, brainwashing, racial pride, internal enemies, traitors etc etc kind of trash), then the filters(list(registers) of people whom to gas), processes, logistics and infrastructure to execute a project of that horrific scale.

In this case there is an explicit intent in the form of citizenship amendment bill: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_Amendment_Bill_201... and then nationwide NRC and camps as to what should be done. And the whole surrounding social case of lynchings and pogroms.

> > I'm not following how normal (census, social security etc) government people registries are connected to the detention centers, much less to the holocaust.

> Because https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Laws

You still not argued why registers of people in a country are a precursor to ethnic cleansing. Pointing to the nuremberg laws wikipedia page doesn't really constitute an argument.

There is something here that you think is obviously bad about this law/register, but that you haven't told me. Something that makes you connect the dot between a list of people and the Nuremberg laws. Is the problem that the register contains ethnic/religious info (if it does?)? I agree that's nothing that necessarily belongs in a register. Also of course it can't exclude/include based on traits such as ethnicity/religion. It needs to be a register of everyone.

Given the current grim plans of the government, I feel an economic slowdown is a necessary evil to wash out the government and force people to figure out what is important for the whole country.

Economic slowdown is unlikely to change anything at all. If any thing it will only accelerate the problems. It's easy to create the illusion of internal enemies as ruse to execute these kind of projects. Also people in general do not feel the effects of economy in a way it could effect their deeply routed political and socially held beliefs.

You have to just let it play out. The current government is here to stay. There are plenty of people who will vote for pride etc kind of things. And there is no shortage of such projects the government has in pipeline, the nearest one is that Babri Masjid one. Unfortunately that is very likely it will happen in the case of India. It will be bad, and it will ruin everything we know. But then this generation(people in age group 35+ years) will be through(That is if they escape these camps). The next generation will see their illusions of supremacy shatter. The generation after that is what will see the con as it is. The economy and social conditions would largely be irreversible by then. This is beyond what other mess they left with to clear.

The other part is the way Indian economy is structured, you won't see a collapse in the very same sense as US recessions happen. The living conditions and quality of things in general, plus the unorganized structure of the economy won't allow a one big collapse to happen. It will be a gradual pain, year after year. Come every year there will be less things going around. Until too much is lost. That is how it will very likely play out in India's case.

Which grim plans you're talking about?

> What happened in reality was a lot of capital intensive businesses suffered as an immediate aftermath.

Can you please explain a bit, please? Isn't traceable capital (cheques, bank transfers, credit cards) as worth as liquid capital?

> Isn't traceable capital (cheques, bank transfers, credit cards) as worth as liquid capital?

Theoretically, yes. In a country with unreliable power and wireless Internet infrastructure, no.

More critically, there are switching costs with digitising an economy. Dropping those out of the blue on the whole country simultaneously will knock out businesses.

Speaking as an outsider, demonetisation and the erosion of the RBI’s independence have been huge red flags for investing in rupees or in India. (Case in point: non-deliverable rupee trading in London recently surpassed spot trading in India.) That makes it harder for businesses to access international capital markets.

I think the OP may be talking about MSME industries which employ and subcontract to people who rely on cash.

The other point is you may have traceable capital, the other party may deal in cash out of necessity. Think maids, laborers, companies employing them, small time traders/contractors, transport. Sucking out cash disabled a whole bunch of them.

Underneath, the formal economy is supported by the informal (read cash transactions) economy most of whom don't earn enough to be taxed. This was the doublespeak they got away with.

RE: The government is planning a country wide citizenship register, on the same lines of Reich Citizenship Law, detention(concentration?) camps are already being built.

Can you expand on this? Why are these camps being built?

The camps are being built across the country. Maharashtra, Karnataka etc.. Source: https://scroll.in/latest/936556/navi-mumbai-to-have-maharash...


The consequences for those who end up in these detention camps can be severe because the likelihood that most of them can be deported is very remote. If the person cannot be deported, they may be detained for life.


To begin with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Register_of_Citizens_...

These are live pictures of the camp being built: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/assam-detention-centre-insid...

The ruling government has promised a nation wide building of such camps. Including in Mumbai, India's financial capital: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/after-assam-citizens-list-pl...

Also there is this bill will be almost assuredly passed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_Amendment_Bill_201...

This is very similar to the Reich Citizenship Law. Which will first disenfranchise people, and then when they are stripped of citizenship. They are free to immigrate wherever they like(Which is basically nowhere, given most will be poor and no one will take them), or they can work till death in the labor camps, or.. oh well. The Holocaust.

It's typical fear mongering.

It deals with Assam which is a state in India that has suffered decades of illegal immigration, so much that the locals have often resorted to violent agitations to protest. Failure of successive governments to act on the issue has further complicated the issue.

The current Government is implenting NRC which was decided by a previous government. Those who can't prove their citizenship as per NRC will probably loose their citizenships.

It is not as simple as that because the government is deciding citizenship based on religion as well. Multiple members of the government have made it clear that Hindus will not face issues (implying that others will)

In the state of Assam if you are unable to produce documents proving that your grandfather was an Indian citizen you can be stripped of citizenship and sent to a detention camp. There is talk of extending this to all of india.

It's tangential, but I hate sentences like:

> Dollar pays him a monthly salary of 12,000 rupees, or about $167, and provides lodging and some subsidized food.

It reads like it's supposed to illicit a 'Cor, just $167?' response, but what do I know of what $167 means to him? How hard would it be to include alongside it the retail cost of the underwear he's contributing to the manufacture of?

The fact is at average indian income level the consumption has drastically increased compared to Income in last 2 decades. So slowdown like this inevitable.

It is strange that some people claim GST is bad which is kind of forcing lot of firms to pay taxes which otherwise operated in grey area for a long time and never really being captured by existing tax mechanisms. As if not paying taxes is better if well-off people continue buying more cars and eat out more often.

Saving rates in India is much lower so it can not fund further economic expansion. Government and financial media is generally obsessed with petty money in form of Foreign investments for growth. No country has sustainably developed just by foreign funds. It must have substantial saving level to provide low cost funds for investments.

Looking at the CO2 pollution charts ...

It's clear that India is the next China: The country that we order cheap manufactured goods from, so our own CO2 numbers keep looking good and we don't have to concern ourselves with worker rights, pollution, etc.

Also, what many people forget, that the country is so big, their middle class (or even rich class) is bigger than their/my entire country.

I think the average Indian consumer has become more aware and conservative in their spending. Thanks to the wider reach of the internet, financial literacy is gradually increasing. Combine that with an economic slowdown and people are just more thoughtful about where they spend money. This is a natural consequence of a slowdown as Indian people are very risk-averse.

Prices of Cars and Houses have increased at a much higher rate than the Incomes, so people are delaying spending on expensive purchases. However, this is probably just one of the factors.

Demonetisation has definitely had an adverse effect on small individual businesses that operated on cash. Cash was the primary mode of transaction for maximum number of Indian people, especially the non-urban population. Unavailability of sufficient cash in the system for a long period of time has hit them hard. You cannot expect a barely literate rural person to suddenly start using digital form of payments.

The Government has recently slashed Corporate tax.[1] We will have to see how much it helps in addressing the economy.

1. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/govt-proposes-to-slash-c...

Obligatory reading:

The IMF Confirms That ‘Trickle-Down’ Economics Is, Indeed, a Joke


I come from TN in India where it is an open secret that the politicians, their thugs and benamis [proxy] own a large chunk of the economy. Nepotism had become the norm.

Indian industries have also woefully lagged behind China in technology and sophistication. And even new entrants like Vietnam & Bangladesh pushed on by their export oriented economy have surged ahead.

The changes made since the new government took to power has shaken up this. The backbone of the old network of big wigs thriving on subsidies and crony capitalism has been broken.

This is both a short term pain and a great opportunity to fill the void with more advanced industries. There is no fundamental reason India can not aim for 10+% growth rate, given its young population and the fact that it has a lot of productivity growth to catch up with.

My own prognosis is that even with a global recession, this might be a temporary realignment of industries.

Unlike many other commenters here, maintaining "Status quo" is not in India's best interests.

I think it's important that proper lessons are learned and reforms are taken. Just like what happened in 1991.


Indian economy is in a mess. The National Saving Scheme (NSS) which is where a lot of people store their life savings has been raided by the present government to fund the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in a very scandalous way to artificially hide the fiscal deficit. The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has also been plundered by the present government and most recently the Reserve Bank's coffers have also been raided.

The GST collections have fallen, the employment figures have skyrocketed to being the worst in over 45 years and now the govt has stopped releasing unemployment data, all the largest industries are in turmoil. Commercial vehicle sales have shown nearly a 60% dip.

But the govt continues to spin stories of how things are just wonderful. Modi continues to fly on tax payer money to meet his overseas supporters and to hug Trump.

>Families are even skimping on the 7-cent packets of Parle biscuits that are a staple of India’s morning milk and tea. They are turning instead to even cheaper snacks made by local food vendors, according to Mayank Shah, a Parle executive. Biscuit sales are down about 8 percent, he said, and if current trends continue, the company may cut as many as 10,000 jobs.

Sounds like grave news for the "economy", and good news for India's next seven generations of humans and their habitat.

"Parle denies reports of 10,000 job losses, calls for rational tax structure on biscuits"

"The facts have been hyped by the media. The condition of job loss is actually an eventuality if our demand for lesser tax rates is not met," Mayank Shah told ANI." [1]

[1] http://www.newindianexpress.com/business/2019/aug/27/parle-d...

This is how bad the "factual" NYT media coverage about the whole thing is.

BTW, consumption of higher value biscuits/ cookies have gone up.[2]

[2] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/...

How is this good for future generations?

A smaller portion of their habitat will be ground up and reshaped into factory farms.

global economy is slowing down, it’s not just India.

skip-the-paywall link: http://archive.is/IHh34

Funny to see how the nytimes manages to shoe horn in blaming Trump for this somehow. Hard to find anything bad these days without trump to blame.

It's referencing the trade disputes between the current US administration & India. So it's of relevance when talking about the Indian economy:


Problem is, for those of us that don't buy into the incessant 'Orange Man Bad!' narrative it's becoming like The Boy That Cried Wolf trying to determine the signal from the noise as regards Trump. And the fact you responded to point out 'no, this one is actually true' suggests it's a genuine problem.

Wait you're blaming the parent for self-inflicted burnout not reflecting reality?

Well, this might actually be very good for the environment. Like the environmentalist keep repeating, the expectation of eternal economic growth is having a big toll on the environment and India was set to almost double their (already quite hight) CO2 emissions by 2030.

This might actually be a blessing for the environment.


Stupid statement. Nature doesn't care about country borders. Per capita emissions from India are extremely low compared to countries like the US.

The same site says that the US has "critically insufficient" commitments towards climate change.


Maybe look at your own country before blaming others. You have more work to do towards climate change than the Indians.

Nationalistic flamewar is not welcome on HN, and you crossed into it egregiously in this thread. That is not allowed on HN, regardless of how badly someone else is behaving. Moreover, your account has been using HN primarily for this purpose; we ban accounts that do that, because it is destructive of the intellectual curiosity HN exists for. I've banned your account for this reason, but if you'd like to review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and email hn@ycombinator.com with reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future, we'll be happy to unban you.

wtdata 21 days ago [flagged]

> Nature doesn't care about country borders.

You are right, what nature actually cares greatly, is about exponential population growth with no regard for future sustainability.

Maybe we should look at India's over-population before demanding other countries to sacrifice for India's (and many countries in South East Asia) shortsightedness.

> You are right, what nature actually cares greatly, is about exponential population growth with no regard for future sustainability.

Perfect, I was waiting for you to say this. Now I have the chance to educate you (which should have been done by your "superior western education" but anyway).

Read these articles and you will find that exponential growth is a myth. We are already close to replacement levels. The population is high in India and China only because of historic reasons - they are one of the most fertile lands on the planet.



Then watch this video to understand the real trends in population growth.


Great! You finally rid yourself of these myths.

wtdata 21 days ago [flagged]

> We are already close to replacement levels

We are at those levels for almost 50 years now in "the west". Guess you are conveniently disregarding the mess you created over this last half century(and long before when the growth in India was 6 children per couple while in the USA it was 3).

Here is a novel idea for you: you use the resources available by your territory as you see fit as long as you don't destroy the rest of the planet for us. If you choose to do it with double your population or half your population, is solely your sovereign choice and we have nothing to say about it. The same way you shouldn't have anything to say about how we use our resources with our - in check - population where people - for a very long time now - mostly think twice about if they can actually support a child with the resources available (natural or economic) before having it.

> We are at those levels for almost 50 years now in "the west".

Even with 1/4th of the population of India, and having access to latest technology, the US has emitted obscene levels of CO2 in the last 50 years [0] and has not shown much signs of improvement. And you are blaming a 70-year old country that was in post-colonial shambles 50 years ago. You should be ashamed of yourself.

> don't destroy the rest of the planet for us.

Peak arrogance. Isn't it you who is destroying the planet with your luxury lifestyle? Take a look at [0]. You expect poor people that barely have enough food on their plate to reduce their living standards? That's never going to happen - it is you who needs to do that. The people in India will continue to work towards improving their living standards, as they deserve to.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_di...

wtdata 21 days ago [flagged]

> Good luck stopping us.

It's so sad that you don't even realize that:

1. You are doming us all, you included.

2. India will actually be one of the first countries to deeply suffer from an increase in temperature.

> Guess why that happened? Because of illiteracy due to poverty - because of your colonising ancestors.

Mugal empire reaps the territory for over 400 years, nobody bats an eye. British are there for 90 years... suddenly everything is their fault, even if India continues with their totally backward ways 70 years after the British left them to rule themselves as they see fit.

P.S.: I don't know why you continue to wave the anti USA flag. I have nothing to do with the USA (or UK for that matter). So sad.

> You are doming us all, you included.

Nope. India's rise was always going to happen. It's not their fault if they want to increase their living standards. Thus, India is not "dooming us all".

But if you are from a country that has high per-capita emissions (I'm assuming you are from one) then your country is much more responsible for the problem. So you are dooming us all, because you can do something about it but you choose not to (because of your selfish need to live luxuriously).

> India will actually be one of the first countries to deeply suffer from an increase in temperature.

That's the harsh reality, but we have to accept it. Because of the large population, many will still survive. And I hope they then get to have the same lifestyle enjoyed by others in the developed world. Being a massive country, India has a lot resources and will prevail even after such a disaster happens.

> Mugal empire reaps the territory for over 400 years, nobody bats an eye. British are there for 90 years... suddenly everything is their fault

Another chance to educate yourself :) Please read [1]. Unlike British, Mughals (not Mugals) stayed in India. So this did not really result in wealth flowing out of the country.

[1] https://www.quora.com/Who-hurt-India-the-most-the-British-or...

wtdata 21 days ago [flagged]

> But if you are from a country that has high per-capita emissions (I'm assuming you are from one) then your country is much more responsible for the problem.

It's interesting that you expect someone in a country that has 1 brother and 2 children and 4x times more natural resources per capita (our population density is 1/4 of a India's), to enjoy the same level of life of someone in India that has 4 brothers and 3 children.

Now is my turn to say it: good luck with that.

We've banned this account for proliferating flamewar on this site. That is not allowed here.


nphard85 21 days ago [flagged]

Did you confuse HN for Breitbart?

India just like any developing country needs outside funds to run projects. Not easy, but that is just the way it is.

Oh...and India is running of water.


You don't know scary until 1.3 billion people all decide they have to leave India at once or they'll die of thirst.

And India has nuclear weapons.

While I agree that water is an increasingly scarce resource, I find the argument that "people will die of thirst" very misinforming of the situation.

The thing is that we may call it drinking water, but it's used for all purposes like washing, sanitation etc. An average person's daily water consumption is 150-300 litre in various countries, but she uses probably only 3-4 litre for drinking. The problem is scarcity of water to fulfill our wasteful living standard, where we flush drinking water by the liters everyone we go to the toilet. A different problem is the distribution of water, where the poor haven't been able to get reliable access to this water. This is why people die of thirst.

No its not. India has a ridiculous number of rivers and surrounded by ocean on all sides.

What India is facing is distribution issues and there are already broadly understood solutions to the problem.

Many of the ridiculous number of rivers depend on disappearing glaciers and worsening erratic rainfall patterns though.

How is having water problems related to having nuclear weapons? Please explain.

Lack of water leads to breakdown in civil society, which can end up in civil war.

Also, India, Pakistan and China all depend on the Himalayan glaciers for water. With global warming, those glaciers are melting down, and there is likely to be a demand to secure water sources.

Three nuclear powers fighting over a scarce, essential resource is not going to be fun.

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