Why Marwari Men should be taxi Drivers

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Marwaris are well known as one of the premier business communities of India. Having traveled from Rajasthan and settled all over the country, they are present in sizable numbers in many cities of India and contribute greatly to the Indian economy. Largely family owned and usually working on conservative principles, Marwari companies have thrived due to their general suspicion of debt and complete control over even the smallest of expenditures, both traits almost ingrained in a Marwari.

I’m gonna talk about a third trait, and we’ll look at it in three different ways.

1. The “Corporate Culture” Shenanigans

In recent year, words such as “professionalism” and “corporate culture” have become buzz words for almost any decent sized organization. All companies was to work in a Corporate environment and follow international business practices. Marwari businesses are no exceptions to this trend, however many have made a major mistake in their adoption. While they have copied wholesale the systems and processes of the west, they have not adopted the mindset that allows those systems and processes to thrive.

One of the most egregious examples I can find of the utter failure to understand good corporate culture is the habit of working till late. I understand that people value hard work? however life, just like school, gives no marks on effort alone. It is the results that matter. Most Marwaris tend to work hard and equate working longer and harder with success. I find this view of business laughable. If such was the case, Mukesh Ambani would be a laborer in Burrabazaar, working from morning till night carrying loads on his head. Since that is not the case, then surely this understanding of long hours = success has a flaw somewhere?

2. The “I am my own boss” myth

Lets look at this situation from another perspective. In one of his widely successful books, Robert Kiyosaki talks about the cash flow quadrant. It talks about four types of people – Employees (E), Self Employed (S), Businessmen (B) and Investors (I). Instead of going into the details of the whole setup, lets just focus on the difference between “S” and “B”, or Self Employed and Businessman. Self Employed is someone who has to work to make money, and the moment he stops working is when he stops earning. Doctors, Lawyers etc usually fall in this category (unless they start their own hospitals or law firms). Businessmen, on the other hand, earn money whether they are working or not. Their business makes money regardless of whether they are in their offices or at a beach in bahamas wearing flip-flops and sipping cocktails (well, its Marwaris, so probably coconut water).

What I see is Marwari men considering it a badge of honor coming home long after office hours have been over. I can think up a few reasons for this. One, they believe it gains them sympathy from their family members (He works so hard!) and also earns their respect. Two, they genuinely are so enveloped in their work that they have cultivated no hobbies or interests, so feel restless and bored once home. Third, it is an insurance against failure. Lets say someone’s business doesn’t do well. What do you think the reaction will be? What the Marwari Man is hoping for is “His luck must be bad, because he works so hard, there was no lack of effort, thats for sure!” Fear of failure makes men work harder and harder, without stopping to think about whether their way of working is any smarter than before. Fourth, it is a signalling mechanism that they are successful (I’m doing well, so I’ve got so much work to do that I dont get enough time to do it all!)

3. The “Fear of Failure” fallacy

Finally, lets talk about the big picture. Why does a man want to be rich? So he can provide for his family, give them a good life, make sure they have all available opportunities to grow and excel in whatever they want to do, to live comfortably till his last years, gain a little name and fame amongst his peers, and then maybe leave something behind for his next generation and society. Lets take that as a decent working definition.

Now, why do we work? To make money, because money is what makes all of the above possible. But these are not all ‘standard of life’ values, these are also ‘quality of life’ values, and this is where the Marwari Man fails miserably. Money also what enables you to work a little less and relax a little more. Our aim should be to earn enough money so that we have to work less in the future, not more. In the case of the Marwari man, the more success they attain, the more workaholic they seem to become. Working at all hours of the day, and working till after office hours, are considered signs of hard work, success and a growing business by them, whereas in reality these are evidence of pathetic Time Management, if they even know what that means.

Summary, because I dont want to work too long on this.

To summarize, if you are a Marwari Man who believes working for longer hours makes you richer, more productive and more successful, I have the perfect job for you. Become a Taxi Driver. Their take home pay is directly related to how long they work, and thus provides exactly the occupation that aligns your philosophy with your level of success.

And to those who believe in working longer hours = better results in life, before you go to buy a taxi… Please guide me to the alternate universe Bill Gates is currently inhabiting where he gets a 100 hours every day to work, since surely a man as rich as he must work FAR longer than the normal Marwari Man.

The problem with Indian Politics

A long time ago (almost a decade ago, in fact), I used to write a blog on Politics. I was in New York at the time, and I used to blog ONLY about American Politics. I made a conscious decision to religiously avoid Indian Politics, though at the time I was not sure where my aversion came from. I think I understand it now.

In the US, there are two major political parties – Republicans and Democrats. There are a bunch of others like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, but for the purposes of our discussion, they are irrelevant. Both the major parties have established platforms from which they collectively, or their members individually, do not deviate much. In highly simplistic terms, Republicans believe in lower taxes for all, smaller government and a strong defense. Democrats believe in higher taxes for wealthy people, a larger government role in public and private life of individuals, and a focus on the welfare state. The options in front of the voter are distinct. Politicians usually have to follow their parties ideology to get elected, and then follow it to survive future elections. An example is Republicans signing Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, where they pledge to not increase tax rates. 90-95% of Republicans sign it, and they usually are pretty good about keeping that particular promise. This is what politics guided by ideology looks like.

In India, on the other hand, I fail to find any political party that will do what it publicly proclaims to be right in the face of what is politically convenient. We have people changing parties at the drop of the hat (doing so is very uncommon and thus front page news in US), changing policies to whatever the public opinion polls show is popular, and in general having no deep seated guiding philosophy. Please note that the distaste I have for parties extends to regional parties as well along with national parties. In fact, regional parties are even worse in their disregard for any concrete policy proposals they champion before the elections. No policy is sacrosanct, no election promise so essential that it cannot be sacrificed at the altar of remaining in power. This utter disregard to fealty to any philosophy just rubs me the wrong way.

In the US, the purpose of power is not only to remain in power but also to move the country in the direction you want. In India, it seems the purpose of power is to remain in power… and to do whatever is necessary to maintain that status quo.

This leads to comical situations like Aam Aadmi Party campaigning against Congress corruption, then joining hands with them to form the Government in Delhi. I dont put much stock in the “They did it for the greater good” argument. Either you believe that Congress is corrupt, in which case you should not align with them in any shape or form on general principles, or you dont believe that Congress is corrupt, in which case what is the basis of your parties existence in the first place? Similarly, Didi liked BJP first, then threw them away for Congress, then broke up with them too. I dont see what had changed so drastically in those parties, except that it was politically inconvenient to carry on with them. There are many, MANY such examples in India. (I’m not even gonna go into the quagmire that is Sharad Pawar’s track record.)

If I dont trust them, its only because they dont trust themselves enough to know if they will be able to fulfill the promises they make before elections. When looking at Indian politicians, why waste time wondering what color you see when what you are looking at are chameleons?

So yeah, if I do write about Indian politics, please expect a heavy dose of cynicism and general dislike.

My first blog post!

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I wondered for a while what my first blog post should be about, then decided that I should at least lay down some information on what I would be writing about on this site right at the beginning.

I’ll probably post about economics, politics, reviews of various forms of media, pop-culture etc. I’ll try to keep it light hearted, but I am sure at some point or the other the urge to write something serious and pseudo-philosophical will over power me. I promise to do my best to resist.

For those who know me on Facebook, you are well aware that my posting style is more akin to a volcano than a glacier… spurts of activity followed by a dormant state, rather than a constant movement forward. This site is no different. Expect it to silently go defunct, utterly neglected, within six months. I personally give it three, and thats only because I’m an optimist, a glass half full sorta guy.

Oh, and if things dont work on this site, whether it be comments, pages or anything else, please let me know. I should apologize in advance for any inconvenience caused due to my complete lack of knowledge about how to run a site. I’m running this site just like how I run my life… operating far beyond my circles of competence (and often comprehension.)

It’s very possible that if something’s broken, it might never be fixed. In that scenario, we’ll al just muddle along together as best as we can. Sound good?

Let the inanities begin, then.