February 20, 2005

India's economic resurgence & the Gayatri Mantra

Sorry if you have been misled into believing that there is some connection between the two items in today's heading but the fact is that the only thing that is indeed common is that I have been thinking about both for the past few days.

First the simple stuff.

What is the mystery behind India's current ecomonic resurgence ?

It is kind of uncanny, the way India's economy is booming .... not only the software / ITeS .. but also things like construction, roads .... and other infrastructure. Who on earth is paying for all this ? How do we suddenly have the money to pay for so much infrastructure ? The forex reserves that are piling up belong to the shareholders of exporting companies .... not the goverment and certainly not the aam-janta .... who are in anyway struggling to survive.

Frankly I do not enough about this. At a basic level I can translate India export led growth into (a) higher disposable income in the hands of a handful of employees and (b) higher income & corporate taxes that flow into goverment coffers. It also helps to know that with no legal tax friendly savings scheme in the market, a lot of money is also flowing into equity.

But all this explains the FLOW, not the origin. Where is all this money coming from ?

For an answer I would turn to today's (as usual ) excellent article by Swaminathan S Ankleshwaria Iyer. This money is coming from the US deficit .. both US personal and US Goverment. Both are borrowing heavily and spending as if there was no tomorrow. And all this money is washing up ( greenback Tsunami style ) on Asian shores ... in India, China and the rest of the Asian Tigers.

So what happens when the river runs dry as it must someday. Who will carry the water of love ? My only guess is that by that time, we would be rich enough to carry on with our own affairs. But I would still keep my fingers tightly crossed.

My next thought of the day is

Gayatri ...

That mysterious mantra that all of us, Brahmans, chant every day. Have you ever tried to translate it ? Please do not .. I believe it just cannot be translated. The syntactic structure is such that it is not possible to move it into a convenient and intuitive semantic framework. But let me try my own transcreation ...

The trinity of the world, the transworld and the self -- adores Savitri and contemplates upon that divine effulgence that animates ( us).

Now that is out of the way .. couple of things more.

First the name Gayatri mantra is wrong !! This is the Savitri mantra, that is set to the Gayatri metre .. consisting of three, eight syllable stanzas.

Second .... why is it that of all other Mantras, this is the one that all most all of us chant. In fact if a Brahman knows just ONE mantra it would be the gayatri. What is the mystery behind this pre-eminence. I have some ideas .. but perhaps I will elaborate on another day.


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