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Why do real investors have hope in India even if ‘opinion writers’ don’t?

The day your prestige runs out, the money does too. If nothing else, the Chinese are canny with doing business. So, going forward, don’t count on Huwaei to sponsor articles on the greatness of Kerala model.

We have all heard of Neeraj Chopra, but how many have heard of Andy Mukherjee? In November 2020, Andy Mukherjee wrote an opinion piece in Bloomberg titled “Why I am losing hope in India.” The piece apparently led to a global rethink about India and even a headline in Scroll that ran “Why columnist Andy Mukherjee is losing hope in India…” Eventually, the Society of Publishers in Asia decided to give an award to this piece for “Excellence in Global Writing.”

What did Andy Mukherjee get from Indians in return for his grand intellectual contribution? Trolling, mostly. Is that how a nation should treat its op-ed heroes? Oh, and he also got this.

Bloomberg on Indian Economy

It’s called data. It’s not as valuable as opinion, but it’s better than nothing at all. And data is nothing unless you have the right people to interpret it. Take for instance Kaushik Basu, one of the most prominent economists on Twitter, and a professor at Cornell University.

Economist Kaushik Basu on WPI Inflation in August

How did WPI inflation go into double digits? Some would say base effect. For example, in May 2021, WPI inflation surged to +12.94% because it used to be (-)3.37% in the same month in 2020. But Kaushik Basu knows better than to believe in myths such as “base effect.” Except when he does. That’s why he sees it only as double digit inflation. But wait. Doesn’t he also mention low growth? How can GDP growth expected to be around 20% still be considered low? Haven’t you heard of base effect?

You can’t fool Kaushik Basu. He is too clever by half.

But one problem remains. Real investors continue to invest real money in India. In the most recent quarter, it was $22.5 billion.

India’s investment in Q1

As for FDI equity inflows in Apr-Jun 2021, that was up by 168 percent. In case Kaushik Basu is having difficulty counting, that’s triple digit growth.

In the same quarter last year, FDI in India did decrease significantly. But in the remaining quarters of 2020, it rose drastically, so that India’s total FDI in 2020 was up by 13%. This made India one of just two major economies to actually see FDI growth in 2020. The other was China, which saw 4%.

Somehow the pandits know something that the real investors just don’t seem to get. India’s economy is collapsing. It was collapsing even before the pandemic struck. And the blame goes to one man: Narendra Modi.

Bloomberg on India in September 2019

That came out in Sep 2019, when India’s stock market was in steep decline. But since then, the same market has seen a phenomenal rise. The BSE Sensex stood over the 57,000 mark yesterday. So where is the screaming headline giving credit to “Narendra Modi’s India”? And why did the global investors not listen to the pandits since 2019? Who are we supposed to question, the investors or the pandits?

Event management, the intellectuals say. They say PM Modi is the best event manager ever. But it has been like three years now since the opinion pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have been filled with articles explaining just how bad the Indian economy is. Then there are interviews, tweets, Instagram posts and Indian liberal portals that made this point repeatedly. Last year, when the pandemic struck, they said there is no chance of a V-shaped recovery. This year, they say there is no chance of another V-shaped recovery. Eventually, they are bound to get something right. Why won’t investors bet their fortunes on that?

If I may dare, let me suggest something to the pandit class. It might help them reach out to those who are engaged in creating wealth and other activities of a less exalted, more proletarian nature. How about a bit of self-reflection? You have been running down India’s economy endlessly for three years now. But investors are not listening. They are voting with their feet and their wallets. There was a time when they used to take you seriously. Now they don’t. How much longer before you become completely irrelevant?

Yes, you still have prestige. You can take a two bit troll comedian from India, get him published in the New York Times and turn him into an intellectual overnight.

But the pushback is building. On the economy, on covid management and everything else. You have been campaigning relentlessly for India to beg the world for vaccines. That didn’t happen. Yesterday, India vaccinated over 13 million people. A few days ago, we vaccinated over 10 million people in a single day. At this, a major newspaper came up with an editorial complaining about lack of “consistency.” Yes, you are a joke.

How long are you going to run on empty? Your obsession with bad-mouthing India is hurting your brand. Don’t worry about the Indian liberal outlets. They lost their reputations a long time ago. An article in an Indian liberal outlet bashing Modi is now almost a joke in itself. I am willing to bet their biggest audience is now Modi supporters reading as they say, for the lulz. Indian liberal rejects have therefore headed for global outlets to peddle their opinions. Do yourselves a favor and don’t feed these rejects. They have destroyed the reputation of Indian liberal media. And now they are out to ruin yours.

And remember one thing. The day your prestige runs out, the money does too. If nothing else, the Chinese are canny with doing business. So, going forward, don’t count on Huwaei to sponsor articles on the greatness of Kerala model.


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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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