First, let me state this. In the backdrop of Obama’s visit to India, this blog is more a reflection of the current economic state of United States of America and India, than about the visit itself.
Obama’s visit had been scheduled in an in-opportune moment for both Obama and India. It was scheduled just after the US elections, which itself is not a right moment, in particular for a president who has been the target of hate campaigns and whose economic policies are seen as not working for United states.
This visit could only invoke negative reactions back in United States, as Americans continuously question the utility of his visit and its relevance to the economic situation in United States, which is their current biggest problem.
This visit is also not a good time for South Asian region. There has been a war going on in Afghanistan where insurgents seem to be gaining strength. Neighboring Pakistan has been highly un-stable and any proximity shown by Obama to Indian leaders in terms of business or military or space technology decisions could trigger a negative feedback to the current rulers of Pakistan and further destabilize their hold on governance and the situation in Afghanistan.
The bottom-line is there is not much significant in this visit to achieve in short-term. Nor it is going to produce any long term shift given all the problems in this region and in United States.
Historically, United States is in a situation that its citizens cannot easily comprehend. This is one of the main reasons for their love-hate relationship with their current president.
Any Civilization, not just United States of America, when it starts, provides huge and ample amount of opportunities to its citizens.
Over a period of time, as the natural economics gets evolved, captured in its dynamics and currents, sections of population start loosing their opportunities.
Free flowing competitive model economics works centrifugally, pushing a lot of people to the sides and creating a cream in the center.
This is a natural model of competition. This has happened to all civilizations of the world and United States is no exception.
The net decline in opportunities for increasing number of people is subtle and happens over several centuries. As civilizations age into thousands of years without active economic intervention, huge sections of population get left out and opportunities to grow become the privilege of few.
In between there are several transients, but if we carefully study and take a time-scale of few centuries, it would be clear that people loosing out on opportunities consistently go up without active state or people intervention.
The in-equalities become in-grained and natural in the society and they are not seen as against the human moral system. They get justified under various religious, personal reasons and become part of the moral fabric of human society.
Foregin India, various religious, moral and philosophical systems have come up to aid a fairer distribution and feed those sections of population who were increasingly left out. These systems were playing the role of Welfare state in today’s parlance.
For long time, we had large sections of poor people just feeding on Raagi and Jowar, while the few rich feasted on rice and wheat. We had sections of people living on rotten meat with single piece of cloth around their body while sections of people had plenty of vegetables and panaroma of clothing.
Though from current moral values this may seem to be disgusting, we need to realize this is going to be the result of any competitive centrifugal economic system.
If citizens of United States think that they are going to be an exception to this centrifugal dynamics, they live in fool’s paradise.
Free market philosophy is inherently based on competition and centrifugalism to separate the cream out of the rest. As it churns more and more, economic in-equalities are bound to grow, making a lot of people redundant.
United States for long has been a land with ample opportunities. Most people have been on the right side of economics, wanting very little of the government and taxes, as they were well off on their own.
In just 300-400 years significant sections of population (much faster than the Indian Civilization) have moved left, as they have been left with little opportunities to sustain.
I see this clear and gradual shift of American population towards left, when I baseline it on 17th Century America.
In between there has been lot of transient movements between right and left, but overall America has been prefering less of government and taxes for most part of its existence.
But that is gradually changing and is bound to change further, as it happens to any aging civilization.
Today I presume it is somewhat at 60:40, 60 holding onto right-wing economics and 40 on to left-wing economics. There are always transient cross-migrations between these schools of thought in different US elections resulting in different electoral victories.
But I predict in another hundred years from now, United states would have moved 60:40 to the left totally, as more people find themselves out of opportunities.
Because this is how Europe has concretized today, with preference for higher state intervention to reduce gross inequalities between people.
Both United States and Europe would become exactly like India, in terms of solidified gross inequalities in another 200-300 years. They have nowhere else to go.
I see Obama having the right focus for America, though his efforts may not succeed temporarily. Given the drag that Americans are experiencing towards the left against their own will, as a necessary evil, the anger that this drag generates may consume Obama.
Obama’s focus on clean energy and advancing technologies is the right focus for America, along with his mechanisms of state intervention.
These can help stem the tide of declining opportunities for significant sections of American population over a period. It will not stop the decline. But it would really help spread opportunities to more sections of population for quite some time.
It seems Obama has understood the dynamics that I have written above. Hence he has kept his focus on what is need to be done for his country in the long term.
He is enabling the state to actively intervene and shore up the sections thrown to the fringes, though significant sections of American population do not like it that way, today. For they do not understand, in the next churn, one more layer of American society is going to be thrown to the fringes and it is a continuous process that need active intervention.
If India retains its own mixed model of economics with its own characteristic State intervention and mixture of Public/Private enterprises, it can show a better economic model to the world, where competitive centrifugalism pushes people to economic edges, but state and social interventions push them back to the center. And in this see-saw of things, overall society keeps evolving.
I mentioned social intervention specifically, as I see culture and moral values as a strong social interventions to combat the competitive centrigual economic forces.
I also see Indians do not have the right focus at this point of time. We have refused to learn lessons from our history.
When we lost edge in indigenous technologies, thousands of years before, we lost everything.
But we are not worried about it today. Similarly, Clean energy could easily become a state tool for economic and social intervention to push the people into the centre and sustain their aspirations, as energy requirements are huge for this country and could push huge sections of population out into the edge, due to its non-availability
Hence instead of borrowing these from United States or Europe, India should step up the State Investments in new technologies and clean energy and try to be the leader in these arenas.
We, Indians are acting as if we are going to Sprint with a heavy mass, while the reality is our feet is firmly in the land and it is the upper torso that is making all the movements of sprinting.
From Obama’s visit, I can clearly see United States has a president who has understood his country’s dynamics.
I can also see that we Indians have not understood what we really need for our future, except for what is Sold by the Americans, be it their economic models, new technologies or clean energy.