The most important exit poll - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
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Investing in India - Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal
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12 MAY 2014


India is about to know the answer to the most important.
It is a question that has troubled us for nearly a year: is there any hope for India?

We know we have an incompetent government led by a sleepy head Prime Minister.

Hopefully, he will show up for his own farewell dinner on May 14th.
But how does a nation - once claimed to be a god of the hydra-headed monster called BRIC - deal with its decline?
Will sweeping brooms show they are a useless tool?
Will chest-expanding, fire-spouting words make us a Shining India? Oh, we know how that ended in 2004...
Will the Conmen still get to rule the roost with alliances and money deals and further abuse us with their arrogant attitude which suggests they are doing India a favour by "ruling India"?

A man feels less of a man when - in addition to the domestic squabbles at home - his social circle begins to go against him. When his friends are no longer his friends.

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In May 2013, Ben Bernanke announced the mild reduction in dosage for the biggest drug fix ever seen in the history of civilization: the Fed will print less money under the Quantitative Easing and other conceptual ways to enrich Wall Street like the Troubled Asset Repurchase Program (TARP). Asked whether the impact on this would be bad for the emerging market economies like India, officials of the Fed have said - in a very American "It's my life" way: Read My Lips.

Basically, they don't care what happens to India or other emerging markets. Policies are, in the end, written for what is good for each countries local economy. Speeches of new world cooperation - as RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has discovered are good for speeches and when the developed world needed our help.

In Russia, President Putin has his own version of Read My Lips to Ukraine and Crimea.
The Middle Kingdom of China has now sent a USD 1.6 billion oil rig to search for oil and gas in the South China Sea in waters claimed by Vietnam. Yes, it is Read My Lips time for much of Asia.

America, with its focus on counting the wealth of its titans of Wall Street and government officials who are now hired to work for the private sector, cannot even see the movement in the lips of the Russians or the Chinese. All they wish to know is: what is their cut in any business deal? For a few dollars more, they will be willing to sacrifice anything. Even motherhood and apple pie messages will be recorded by their security agencies. Their Presidents are travelling salesmen - not inspiring statesmen.

Whose passport is it, anyway?
But sweeping the spotlight back home, TV channels will be looking for a glimpse of the most important exit poll.
Will India regain its mojo, as one headline suggested?
Will India recover from yet another lost decade said another planted headline?

To me, the biggest exit poll on how the world views India - and how we view ourselves - occurs at the immigration counters of the airports of Europe and the US.
And the immigration counters of Indian airports.

The summer holidays have begun in full earnest.
Indian families have been to Asia, Europe, and the US - and back.
How was their visa experience?
Did the consulates and embassies stamp their visa wherever they felt like?
In any arbitrary page, with a total disregard for something as elementary as page numbers?
Did they treat the Indians like some piece of unwanted junk - but only wanted for the money Indians may bring in as tourists?

Come to think of it - the candidates for the elections and the immigration officials have a lot in common. They really don't like these individuals who land up at the polling station or at airports.
But they need our votes -or our tourism money.
So, we are tolerated.
If we had no vote - there would be no respect for those few weeks every five years.
If we had no tourist dollar - there would be no stamp of approval to enter foreign lands.

Your passport was probably stamped on any random page.
When your passport came back from the consulate it had some sticker on the cover which took you a few days to peel off - and the glue still stays on it like a number stamp tattooed on a criminal.
There was probably a staple so large that it made a hole in your passport - and the immigration offices now wants to know whether the passport is a counterfeit: unaware that his consulate colleague punched those holes in the first place.

The Indian immigration officials' performance mirrors that of a mid-cap or small-cap stock: it can have a great spike in performance or it can slump to lows and stay there for a decade. A line of 200 people can be shunted from one counter to another depending on the "duty is over at 8 am" mentality. The replacement crew is chatting in the room behind counter 56, no doubt discussing their own view on the exit polls.

Well, the less important exit polls that will start rolling out from Monday evening will tell us who may lead India for a potential five year term.
But I already know what the world thinks of India - and our tourist dollars.
No, there is no magic wand and no chest expansion exercises can take away the hard work needed to clean up the mess caused by politicians of all political parties.
Sadly, the broom turned out to be a weak collection of random straws not strong enough to clean up the muck.

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Disclaimer: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt. Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd. The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and has not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author, Equitymaster, Quantum AMC and Quantum Advisors do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site. To write to Ajit, please click here.


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3 Responses to "The most important exit poll"

saad

Jun 20, 2014

Ajit!!!!I agree, U have hit the nail right on the head !

Like (1)

jayaramtd

May 19, 2014

Reality described in words.enjoyed reading the article

Like (1)

Anish Shah

May 12, 2014

Very apt article, Ajit!!

Like (1)
  
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