India witnessed the second largest outflow of millionaires globally after China during 2017
In Ayn Rand’s classic novel Atlas Shrugged, business leaders start disappearing from America because of stifling government controls. Something similar is happening in Narendra Modi’s India: the rich are leaving the country for better places.
India witnessed the second largest outflow of millionaires globally after China with 7,000 high net worth individuals changing their domicile during 2017, 16 percent more than last year, according to a survey by New World Wealth. As many as “7,000 ultra-rich Indians shifted overseas in 2017. In 2016, the figure stood at 6,000, while in 2015 as many as 4,000 millionaires shifted base,” reported PTI.
Modi too indicated of a meaningful change. A key slogan was ‘maximum governance, minimum government’—which suggested that he believed in small government
Evidently, India’s high net worth individual (HNIs) are giving a new meaning to the term ‘secession of the successful.’ Coined by the famous economist J.K. Galbraith, the term connotes the process by which the wealthy, instead of depending on the government for its shoddy services, arrange for everything they require—private security, gated habitations, exclusive clubs, generator-driven power supply, etc. All this for a more comfortable life, given the shoddiness of whatever the government does. Our HNIs have added another dimension to the term: they have not only turned their back on government but also started leaving the land of their birth for better standards of living in (mostly) Western countries.
It would be facetious to deprecate the escaping HNIs as treacherous cowards leaving their country for and using their sizeable wealth in foreign lands. The problem is not with them but with the powers that be in our country. A few years ago, it was a corrupt and incompetent regime, under Sonia Gandhi and her pinkish toadies, that was tormenting the captains of industry. They complained of tax terrorism, policy paralysis, entitlement-crazy governance, venality, etc. They, along with Middle India and others, looked forward to Modi, hoping that he would effect a paradigm shift in statecraft and economy and usher in achhe din.
On his part, Modi too indicated of a meaningful change. A key slogan was ‘maximum governance, minimum government’—which suggested that he believed in small government. In an interview before 2014, he had said that the business of government is not business; this was seen as an endorsement of a free economy.
But that, alas, was not to be! All his promises have proved to be, to use Bharatiya Janata Party Amit Shah immortal words, “chunaavi jumlas” or “election gimmicks”—not be taken seriously. At any rate, the promises have been observed in the breach. The size and scope of government have only increased, what with Aadhaar thrust down the throats of citizens forcibly. Instead of introducing major economic reforms, he brought a major disruption with the demonetization of high-currency notes, leading to incalculable damage to businesses, especially in the small and medium sectors, and huge job losses. While it was jobless growth during Sonia rule, it is jobless slowdown under Modi.
This is not surprising because the authorities have made the lives of HNIs miserable
It is not just the bad economic policies that are wreaking havoc; in general, India is increasingly becoming unlivable, the patriotic chest-thumping about sujlam-suflam… notwithstanding
It is not just the poor and lower-income sections of the society that are suffering; the rich are no less distressed. While those with limited means are condemned live in India, those with deep pockets have options; and, as the New World Wealth study shows, they are increasingly exercising those options.
This is not surprising because the authorities have made the lives of HNIs miserable. In the name of eradicating black money and implementing the goods & services tax, taxmen and bureaucrats have been pestering businessmen no end. Consider this: the Bombay High Court has slammed the government for the poor execution of GST. It is not very often that the judiciary criticizes the executive in the execution a tax. But such is the sloppiness exhibited by the authorities that the court pointed out that the new indirect tax regime is tarnishing the “image, prestige, and reputation of the country.” And that too “when we are inviting and welcoming foreign investment in the state and the country.”
It is not just the bad economic policies that are wreaking havoc; in general, India is increasingly becoming unlivable, the patriotic chest-thumping about sujlam-suflam… notwithstanding. The onset of winters makes north India a gas chamber, and neither Modi nor any other leader is bothered. Our rivers have become drains, our forests have been pillaged, our countryside has been plundered, and our cities have become dust bowls and gigantic garbage bins. If there is any surprise, it is that only 7,000 rich Indians have quit India.
Modi-bhaktas may try to explain away the exodus of HNIs as inconsequential, but the fact this development signifies is simple and indisputable: Modi has failed comprehensively.