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My book talk on India Unbound by - Guru Charan Das

Updated on April 17, 2010

Though I heard about this book long ago, I could not get a chance to read it until last Friday. My friend was pestering to make me read this book for quite some time and so I had to start it forcefully. But the book is quite good one. It is written by Guru Charan Das, the former CEO of Procter & Gamble. He had completely worked in the private sector and so he had enough freedom to expose the real challenges faced by Indian business men in his book.

Now let's get in to the book. The book starts with explaining the early days of Independent India. The econimic and political condition of the country.Then slowly starts explaining how the social and political situations stood as a obstruct for the development of entrepreneurship in the country. He explains about the policies and the beliefs of each prime minister from Nehru to P.V. NarasimhaRao which directly impacted the entrepreneurs.

He has also given some of his experiences with political leaders. I want to share one here which can stand as one of the example of government's ideals followed during the olden days and which explains the struggle of business men.

One day, the author has attended a meeting with an MP( Member of Parliament) and the MP was posed with a question to allow selling cosmetics in the country. The MP has rejected it by saying, cosmetics are not good for health and they are not liked by the people. The MP had made a decision without giving a chance to the people of the country to have options for a necessity or luxery.

many such examples are given from his real life and explained about the white and green revolutions in the country.

Talks about the economic reforms in the country during early 90's and well explained the situations that forced the government to do so. The economic reforms were taken during the tenure of P.V. Narasimha Rao and is the first to appoint an economist as a finance minister. The unique economist was Dr. Manmohan Singh who is the current Prime Minister of India (2010).

Mr. Singh had to face lot of challenges in implementing the reforms and once thought of resigning due to opposition demand in parliament. The opposition had made him responsible for Harshad Mahatha's stock exchange scam which is as stunning as Enron issue in USA.

I have lot to share on this book which I can not do here completely. It is a wonderful book and every Indian should read it for understanding the economic development of our country.

There is another master piece from the author and is titled 'The Elephant Paradigm'. I have to read it and hopefully I will write my understanding/opinion on that too.


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      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! TheGlacier

      Thanks. I have now put the article on population.

      Some more analysis of these issues should be done.

    • profile image

      TheGlacier 7 years ago from USA/INDIA

      Hi Soumya,

      You gave lot of information. I stay in USA currently. I will try to meet you when I come to Mumbai. I am pretty interested in political and economic views on India, But I do not have much time to spend on it due to my current job.

      I am waiting for your article on Myth about population.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! The Glacier

      Oh! You write very well. I am sure many will be your fan soon.

      Manmohan Singh was of course as a finance minister one of the main person responsible for reforms. But I will not really call him responsible for reforms. Real architect for reforms was indeed Prime minister at that time PV Narasimha Rao himself. His political manoeuvrings and courage played the most crucial role in reforms.

      India at that time was quite different from what it is today. With 50 years of socialist era of Congress ( you can see bad effects of that mentioned in some of my articles) - which was essentially feudalism in the name of socialism (though Nehru I must say contributed a lot in a few other things -like stabilising democracy, building up some institutions, promoting technology etc. but it became practically feudal by the end of his life and Indira Gandhi's rule-- formalized it by degenerating political social welfare to slogans like remove poverty etc. --just talks, no economic layout to improve situation, no intention to really do some thing. We became poor and even now are full of poor people for no reason-- just bad management and corruption. Otherwise India is among richest countries in terms of resources per person- (I plan to publish an article very soon on myths about population in which I may discuss some of these aspects). May be some time if we meet we could discuss all this (do you visit Mumbai some time?). We had what we call license raj in those days (One needed license to do any manufacturing business and most services).

      Manmohan singh's expertise in economics, international experience in dealing with financial bodies and macro economic factors helped a lot. He was indeed very good as Reserve Bank governor earlier. But he is not that great in taking courageous steps, or do political management to create consensus or acceptance of ideas, to generate new ideas. In fact in many of those aspects he has failed quite a bit. I think all these were Narasimha Rao's doing. He acted quite well.

      Unfortunately Narasimha Rao was not very clean in his style and feudal structure and family style of running of Congress felt perhaps threatened with him and his style of reforms. So they just managed to malign him completely and got him out of picture.

      Many experts also feel reforms were practically forced on India by IMF/world bank because previous governments missmanaged economy completely. I think that also did play quite crucial role. But I am not so sure that was responsible for removing License raj. I think such presures have been there on India earlier also. India could have managed without doing much as it did earlier. Incidentally removing License raj is the only main reform during Manmohan Singh's term as finance mininster-- though of course great one. The person who removed License raj was not Manmohan Singh but Chidambaram, minister for company affairs then and home minister now.

      Some of these views are also visible from the fact that Manmohan Singh as finance minisiter could not manage any reform after 2.5 years of initial rule. In last half of his rule almost nothing was done. (you give too much importance to his resignation threat -- that does not mean much in style of Congress politics).

      I think real reforms came during Vajpeyee's rule with Jaswant Singh as finance minster and some others like Arun Shorey responsible for getting government out of many commercial entities by making public issues of those companies. Jaswant Singh's time Governors of reserve bank like Bimal Jalan and Rangrajan were also great.

      It is all these people, I will say, who really got India out of self created mess of "socialism via slogans".

      Today government is out of random decision making in many sectors, like telecoms, finance etc. Issues are decided by Institutions created. Most of this happened during Vajpeyee's time as prime minster.

      We are still not completely out of management via feudalism (most parties except for BJP, communists etc. have no cadre based management style. They are ruled by one or two persons or families and most of these top rulers including in Congress are quite corrupt and incapable. But I have faith in Indian people, diversity, management strength of our business managers etc. I think we will imporve very soon by much more reforms. My faith is also because of these institution style management built up. That will go further at much faster speed.

      For me reforms mean "to build up enough infra structure and economy etc. to give at least a minimal style of life for family of every working person." We are still very far from that. But I feel that with our resources it can be achieved in India with in a decade. But our government has to wake up (really speaking it is not sleeping, just pretending to sleep). People joke in India that "we work when the government sleeps". That is still quite true.

      I have already written too much.

      Here is one site

      which talks about reforms. Though this guy seems to be too much against Manmohan singh but some of the contents like how idea of reforms etc. took shape initially during Rajeevgandhi period, may be right.

      There must be many better articles just search on internet.

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      TheGlacier 7 years ago from USA/INDIA

      Hi Soumya,

      I believe that Manmohan ji is responsible for reforms. Though he is an economist, It should be his knowledge/intelligence that made Congress to believe in him, without which P.V Narasimha Rao would not have taken a step to open Indian Market to the outside world.

      This is my understanding. I want to here from you if there is anything else that makes you think that he is not the reason for it.

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      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      That should have been you will not consider it as self boasting act

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Just to elaborate a little more about what I wrote. Your impression that Manmohan Singh is the main person responsible for reforms is not right. He may have been a good economist at one time but as a political leader he does not have much to count as success even in economic terms. I did not write much about economics etc. in India If you want to know a little more about how average person feels see link below and previous articles on this topic

      (I hope you will consider it as self-boasting act on my part - just I liked your interest in India and it seems you like to learn the truth hence I am trying to give some more feedback there are many experts in this field including Gurucharan das who write very well, I think you may have read many of them )

      If you want to learn a little more problems which Manmohan Singh is unable to manage specially so called socialist era left oriented politics in India by his party with which India has suffered for decades and politics of minimal level satisfaction

      read about the menace Shiv sena (a corrupt community oriented party ) m had caused in Mumbai some days back

      and all previous articles about it (links given in this article. First one describing what the menace was

      see for some basic details on govrning style of Manmohan Singh's party

      Hope you enjoy them

      I will be happy to discuss economy and other aspects related to India further with you if you are interested.

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      soumyasrajan 7 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Hi! TheGlacier

      A nice effort. I feel your impression is quite wrong about some of these issues but it does not matter. Perhaps you did get right feeling from Guru Charandas. He writes well. He must have been a good manager. He writes a regular column in Times of India which is quite enjoyable. I have not read the book but if impressions it gives are as you state then I feel his columns give much better and realistic analysis than the book.