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Dear Indian: With only $320 debt, are you really poor?

As the first large scale natural disaster gets played out in glare of social media, I can see that our obsession to be look for negativity in everything and write about it on social media has power to destroy the nation, and hence we need some positive stories, about us and about the state of our nation. So, I am going to dare going against the tide and try.

Once the Kerala floods move away from the headlines, I am dreading arrival of yet another story that is ready to be picked by social media to celebrate the sad state of the nation in terms of rupee plunging against dollar.

Like millipedes that crawl out of moist ground in monsoon, the election-around-the-corner season will have economic experts crawling out of rotten woodwork of social media to aid and abet us, the proud people of this nation to discuss the subject we all love, ie how bad our nation/government/economy is, or rather how horribly bad we are in general.

While Indian economy has its own share of troubles that our experts love to highlight, for some inexplicable reason, most economists avoid one very critical number while convincing us vehemently about how poor we are and how sad the state of Indian economy is.

As economists love to tell us that international economics is all complicated math beyond the ken of us laypeople, I would not use their jargon but use simple stuff that we all can understand.

You have a group of friends with different levels of earning and debt. One guy makes about 60,000 per year but has debt of 58,000, another chap makes about 40,000 per year but has debt of 1.25 lakh and there is one chap who makes about 2,000 but has debt of only 320.

As you and I are not economists, if we apply out roadside understanding, who would you rather be from the above list?

Let us leave that set of humans and look at another set of numbers.

The heaven on earth for Indians, the mighty United States of America has $19,284,900,000,000 external debt which comes to 94 % of US GDP, ie $58,200 per US citizen.

Another heaven on earth for Indians, the great United Kingdom has $8,475,956,000,000 external debt which comes to 313 % of UK GDP, ie $127,000 per UK citizen.

And the poorest of poor, the hell on earth that its citizens love to fly out from, your own nation India has $529,000,000,000 external debt which comes to 20 % of our GDP, is $380 per Indian citizen.

If you want to return to the friends’ model, the chap who makes $2,000 but owes only $320 is you, while the your US and UK friends make more money than you but are far too deep in debt.

The world economy is a crazy system driven fundamentally by debt. It may sound strange from the homespun wisdom we all use to deal with money at personal level, but rich nations of the world are those who have incurred massive amount of debt and are continuing increasing their debt.

Borrowing and debt that you and I don’t find comfortable holds the key to prosperity, and looking at where our nation stands today, we have a lot of room to borrow compared to all the developed nations that we envy.

If debt is the key to prosperity, why are we finding it so hard to become rich like other nations?

The answer to this question has many complex economic dimensions, but it is also possible to look at it from human level.

If we return to homespun wisdom, we know that, for a person to incur debt, he should look creditworthy. If you are a lender, would you like to lend money to a cynical, self-critical, self-loathing chap? Would you lend money to people who are constantly bickering and fighting and blaming each other?

Let us grasp this local dimension and translate it to global level. We are a massive nation full of natural resources and other key assets required for borrowing, but we fail to attract lenders because of our personality as a nation.

Of all the worlds, world of money is least pretentious. The fact that we are not incurring debt shows us the true face of this great nation as the world sees it. We are short of nothing in terms of physical assets, but we are really short of credibility, stability and attitude.

If we want to become prosperous like other developed nations, it is not difficult for such a great landmass full of natural wealth, but it will not be possible if we go on being self-critical and self-loathing.

No one will lend us money if we keep fighting. No one will like to invest in us if we continue with negativity.

Negativity starts a vicious circle of building more negativity. Indians who are constantly blaming India, its systems, its government are actually part of the problem and not the solution.

Let us understand that every nation has people with reason to be dissatisfied, but we have taken it to be a national occupation. The net result is, we get more and more mired in negativity. The net result is, no one is keen to lend us money and we are unable to grow.

All we need to change is the state of mind, and rest should follow easily, especially a world driven by debt.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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