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Showing posts from October, 2008

What ails Indian writing ?

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The Man Booker award to Adiga is a fine statement of affirmation of Indian writing. There have been previous winners too from India. But the Indian writers who have spent bulk of their lives in India still fail to fire the imagination of readers in the world.

Their stories are engagingly told and capture a time and place perfectly well. But the themes are not universal enough to connect to everybody. The writers lack the penetrating insight of a Naipaul, who harshly throws a searchlight into our souls. They do not have the suave urbanity and haunting themes of emotional loss of a Kundera. They do not provide the searing intensity of a Coetzee or the subtle romanticizing of a Mahfouz.

I think this happens because Indians grow up in protected environments. They live within defined boundaries and fail to explore the limits of their lives in relationships and in their own internal journeys. The society also tries its best to see that any behaviour or attitude beyond its five thousand years …

All That Additional Space !

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A recent report in a financial daily says that the additional mall space in India is going to double in 2010 from the current levels. The additional availability in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, NCR, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai is 16.2 mn sq feet in 2008. This is going to become 19.1 mn sq feet in 2009 and 32.4 mn sq feet in 2010. Does demand exist for all this space?

In the US, the first mall in the world came up in Minnesota (Southdale Shopping Centre) in 1956.Victor Gruen, a refugee from Austria, conceptualized this to provide the experience of a European city centre. He made the structure covered and air-conditioned to enable people to visit it round the year. This also helped the whites perfectly well to have a cloistered environment in the suburbs. Today, the rich whites are going back to city centres and the suburbs are getting more mixed. This is taking away the principal customer segment for the malls - the affluent, white women. The conventional mall is also facing troubled ti…

Who is to blame for the financial crisis ?

The conventional view is that the bankers and lenders were greedy and in their attempts to get their bonuses, went on a lending spree to unsuspecting borrowers. The Wall Street has been accused of being corrupt, stupid and irresponsible. Obama and McCain ensure that the message is repeated in every rally and sound bite.

Is this true?

The root cause of this crisis is in the sub-prime mortgages. And the fact is that the US government policies have led to this fall. Right from the days of GI bill, the government has followed a policy of encouraging home ownership at any cost, blatantly flouting sound economics. The borrower had the options of refinancing a long-term loan at his convenience for times when interests went down but staying at a fixed interest otherwise. This threw the mortgage lender into a crunch in the interest-volatile periods. In order to manage the interest fluctuations esp. after the seventies, the financial system engaged in significant financial engineering through mul…

Global Meltdown and India

The financial meltdown has sent shockwaves throughout the world. For many Indians, it is their first exposure to how integrated the world economy has become. This is a novelty for them when the newspaper headlines are not about the shenanigans of ministers or rantings by a communal organization but what is happening to Lehman or Morgan Stanley or even ICICI.

The Indian economy remains fairly robust despite the shocks. The banking system is very conservative. There is practically no use/misuse of financial instruments which have sent the Western markets to a spin. The drivers of growth like increasing liberalization, demographic advantages, low cost skill arbitrages and technology-led productivity growth in several sectors continue as they are. The stock market of course is getting battered due to fear, panic and flight of foreign capital (which is increasingly wary of emerging market returns).The overheated sectors like realty or the businesses primarily dependent on the Western market…