Ridiculing Economic Activity & Political Rival Not Same Thing

It is an Indian pastime to ridicule others without any reason. Even ideas are ridiculed. Ridiculing political opponents is mistaken for superior leadership. It becomes quite comical when highly educated, even foreign educated, politicians indulge in this game. They make such a pathetic show of their high education and low leadership when they freely indulge in attacking the person, policies, programmes, ideas and enthusiasm, mocking him left & right, day in and day out, at every conceivable opportunity or no occasion at all. While it can be considered as their right to freedom of speech, it ends up exposing their shortcoming in understanding the accurate meaning of an economic idea. Only because of an opponent’s mind-set, the spontaneous response from such leaders to an idea is pooh-pooing, mockery and ridicule. Their minds are so prejudiced that they don’t see the merits of the idea being floated. Humbleness is not what they like. They think big, dream big, want big but only for self or family and never the people.

Let us consider for a moment the pizza. Was it a great hit from the day it was conceived? Or it has turned out to be a big hit in due course? Should it be mocked because it is no activity comparable to car or aeroplane manufacturing  or similar other activities? It might have started as a livelihood venture for some brilliant entrepreneur, but achieved the rare success of creating millions of jobs globally. Getting technological support, investment and professional services, a very humble venture has been converted into a big business. Every big idea develops from a small, maybe even insignificant, flash of an idea. Receiving encouragement from mentors, peers or family, a humble idea can be developed into a big business proposition. Nobody should ridicule such idea if shared in trust or for testing the waters. But in India by habit simple looking ideas are trashed with contempt for falling short of those big ideas which they never bring to the table. Welcoming new ideas, from whosoever it comes, is a sign of advancement of an individual and society. Lack of it, a sign of backwardness and bankruptcy.

Giving full consideration to an idea may result in big ventures. Treating it superficially makes it smaller further. It makes the person small too. The apple has been falling to the ground ever since it started growing and innumerable people had seen it falling but only one person thought of examining the reason for it falling down and not going up. That inquisitiveness made all the difference and created history in scientific development.

A few days back, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was talking about economic activities for creating jobs. To illustrate his point, he mentioned Pakoda– an Indian popular snack. It is served in office, school, college canteens. It has more than a dozen varieties. Shops do a good business and many of them have loyal customers. However, the Congress was quick to react sharply.   Former Finance Minister of India P. Chidambaram ridiculed prime minister Narendra Modi for confusing jobs with self-employment. But he erred as selling Pakodas is not self-employment only but also jobs. In 5 Star hotels in India, it is served as starters. It can’t be a self-employment at a hotel but only employment or jobs. It is a very popular snack in the country, which is eaten in all seasons- winter, summer and monsoon. It has its own geographical identity too. The variety of the ingredients makes it a proprietary item. The place lends it a different flavour. It tastes different in different seasons because of the ingredients suitable for that season. It is served hot and spicy with different chutneys/sauces. A lot of people take bhang ke Pakode (Pakodas containing bhang or cannabis) for that kick or a dab of opium too. Though data is not available on the number of persons employed in this Micro Industry, but it won’t be less than a million at least. Pakoda is such a popular snack that shops selling them can be found by roadsides throughout the length and breadth of India. Three things that can be found here are tea, Pakoda and liquour shops. It is one of the most reasonably priced snack that it is readily available even in the remotest areas. A Pakoda seller employs at least one helper. That means ample jobs. Whether these jobs qualify as remunerative jobs is a different question though the same yardstick will apply to other similar jobs like delivery boys at pizza shops. Why would a finance minister, former or current, ridicule such an economic activity? The roadside vendor sells it @X per plate and the 5 Star hotel charges 10X for the same.

A brilliant finance minister should see the potential for job creation by making it an industry- medium or large. As one of the longest living Indian snack the Pakoda needs technological support and not contempt or ridicule of the government or the opposition. It has the potential of developing in to an MNC in a very short time like Mac Donald or other food chains. Machines, packaging, hygiene, storage, transportation and highly skilled food technologist services can make it one of the world’s successful MNCs. It is truly a global snack. The beauty of it lies in just eating, because making is a complex and tiring job. However, in cold climate zones, this heat & eat snack, with or without a glass of wine/whisky or tea/coffee, is bound to prove an instant hit with connoisseurs & consumers alike.

But to be as successful as the global food chains, it has to think as big too. Unfortunately, we are missing the opportunity and revelling in ridicule of the idea, because it came from Prime minister Narendra Modi, who has no foreign education and hence, can talk only about the poor man’s snack pakoda for job creation in India. It is different that the former finance minister can’t live without getting regular serving of his quota of Vada and Bonda, which are identical twins of Pakoda, for more than a week!

The point is that the Opposition, especially the Congress Party and its leaders, are so intolerant of Narendra Modi since the day he got party nomination for parliament election in 2014 that they have so far refused to extend him “recognition” as a thinker politician, even though he has his admirers in the country as well as the larger community of nations. Narendra Modi is so much ahead of these people that they will take at least 10 more years to come anywhere near him. They shall keep ridiculing him till parliament election 2019, criticize him without rhyme or reason, ridicule his ideas for development, misconstrue his achievements as failures on all counts and try to portray an immature Rahul Gandhi as a taller leader than him. It impedes development. However, even their own leader late Rajiv Gandhi was ridiculed as a “young man in a hurry” only because he too was moving fast and banned middlemen in government purchase programmes. The middlemen enjoyed the patronage of the leaders of the congress party and soon settled scores with him by creating the Bofors Scandal. Rajiv Gandhi lost badly and was assassinated. Narendra Modi is made of sterner stuff and stood his course. Nobody has been able to arraign him for any corruption scam like Bofors, Coalgate, CWG, 2G etc. Narendra Modi is on the right track. A big country like India can find jobs for its people by way of cottage, tiny, micro, small and medium industrial units and self-employment ventures. Research and development needs to be carried out in each one of these areas. The potential lies here only. Large manufacturing industries will create jobs for a limited number of people, but the largest scope for it remains within these sectors of the economy, which have suffered neglect due to the flawed thinking of the successive finance ministers, who thought selling Pakoda was a menial job even as the star hotels had proved that it is modern marketing which can raise its value upward manifold.

It is necessary to dilate on the subject as more manufacturing facilities in India have closed down due to this neglect in the last 70 years than 150 years of foreign rule by industrialised Great Britain which needed to do so for selling their factory products. We need to register the value of trade related intellectual property rights. Pakoda qualifies for TRIPRs. Only problem is nobody has done anything for developing the product into Brand, Trade Mark, Patent. Instead, they laugh at it, ridicule the idea of Brand, Trade Mark, Patent or TRIPR for it and express full blast contempt for anybody vouching for it- even if it gets pat from the prime minister as a job creator. But the critics conveniently forget similar privileges obtained by humbler products and snacks like burger, pizza, ice cream, cola, biscuit, chocolate and many more. Each of these items have been developed to such an extent that they have led to the setting up of many transcontinental production and sale facilities. Nobody has beaten Britannia Biscuits though several attempts had been made. The reason, its competitors lack the sophisticated technology inputs. Were the humble Pakoda to get the same technological investment, our former finance minister and Congress Party leader would have been spared the embarrassment of showing contempt for a stable job generating product like the Indian Pakoda.

The policy makers need to promote food industry on a priority basis because it is the most successful industry segment for sustainable development, without endangering the environment and creating huge quality employment. It is here that the self-employment merges with what Chidambaram calls “jobs” and his party (the Congress Party) has made an issue to attack their bete noire Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, who looks all set to get public mandate for a second term in 2019 and which the opposition wants to check by fair or foul means, lies or twisting facts. Fortunately for the masses, they choose to pick up wrong issues every time they fire their missile: this time they have chosen the Pakoda.

One flaw in our policy formulation is to depend on research done by others and then adapt it. So, we become followers, not leaders. For an aspiring economic superpower, it is incumbent to adopt Leadership role in research, such as the food industry. How many years will it take for us to own patents for special foods for the space travellers? We are using imported technology even for making biscuits and ice creams. What we need is a few imported ideas for MNC level of enterprises like pizza or burger, which work on franchisee networks. Imagine the Indian Pakoda acquiring that status with franchisee outlets all over Europe and North America besides Asia. Variants of the humble Pakoda for non-vegetarian palate, such as Kabab, can win hearts anywhere in the world and generate jobs too for the franchisees.

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