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Economy unplugged

Wherever you go, and no matter whom you are talking to, the conversation will eventually come to a point where one of you, apart from saying Villu is an insufferable movie, will point out how things are getting from bad to worse as the economy is in a very bad shape.

You might have gone to a doctor to deal with persistent hemorrhoids. And the medical man, looking grave and sniffy, will say: ‘It looks serious and needs immediate attention’, and you will pathetically ask him, does it require a scan or an endoscopy. ‘No, I am talking of the economy,’ he will say and inevitably send you for a full round of scan and other tests, so that at least his personal economy is in the pink of health.

You would like to think that doctors are wily and calculative. But I wouldn’t want to commit myself as much in print, as libel laws are sharp enough. And in these days of economic downturn, it will be doubly so as lawyers, this again you will say, are equally wily.

The point is, despite advocates and doctors knowing ways to keeping themselves well greased, economy is stuttering and stumbling around. It is indeed in a bad shape, like an askew trapezium or some such figure that you fail to remember from your geometry class.

But we can’t let economy to die like the dodo or slowly become extinct like the Siberian tiger. And the day (Saturday) has now come to take the bull by its horn, the dog by its tail, the camel by its hump, the lizard by its tongue, the giraffe by its neck, the bison by its bulk, the emu by its non-existent wing, and figure out what the heck of an animal this economy is.

We have to do this so that tomorrow (Sunday) our children get to live in peace and prosperity, which is to say have enough money to pay the advocates and doctors. The need of the hour (12 p.m.) is, therefore, a precise primer on economy that dejargonises the theories and demystifies the numbers by asking the right questions and lays bare all that that hide behind the inscrutable prose, which has made economy what it is today (needless to say, Saturday).

What is economy?

Well, it is a class in flight travel. It is named so because of the fact that the passenger has virtually no arm or leg space and is hemmed in from all sides. In short, there is economy in his movements. Further, the stewardesses and airhostesses deal with all those travelling in this class rather ‘economically’.

Economy is also defined as the study of a subject that has been chosen because every other major has been taken up by others who had the nous to score better marks.

Who is considered the father of modern economy and why?

According to the first ever census published, Adam and Eve were the first to apply for ration card as they could come up with proof for the address of their cave. Cane and Abel were their sons as registered in the records, but they had an illegitimate one which they didn’t name because of austerity measures as represented by lack of interesting names. Later Greek historians, who found details of this hidden kid, named it Eko-nomi (Greek meaning ‘no name’), S/O Adam (Smith). Eventually this became ‘Economics’, a symbol of anything that is uncared for, but blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong.

What is inflation?

Before you understand what inflation is, you must know what are Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI). CPI and WPI are a set of crusty acronyms that have been thoughtfully introduced by economists in a bid to keep off any unwitting enthusiast from even accidentally taking an interest in the subject. Inflation, in numerical terms, is a random percentage calculated out of CPI and WPI which are even more random having no connection to real life.

What is stagflation?

This is a term to describe the fact that the economists have slowed down because of regularly using the word inflation in their reports. Stagflation is also an alternate term to establish that economists have not slept off while composing their reports.

What is a sub-prime crisis?

When a person takes some money from a bank it is called a loan in every part of the world. But the Americans, in a strange and irresponsible profligacy, called it a mortgage. As you can see ‘mortgage’ is mighty big than ‘loan’. Banks did not have the financial wherewithal to handle such a huge fiscal change and challenge. Hence all financial institutions choked under the weight of huge ‘mortgages’ and went under prime properties, leading to, well, a sub-prime crisis.

What are Repo rates, CRR, SLP?

These are handy monickers and acronyms thought up as an affirmative action to provide for reservation to numericals in English language. But when the going gets tough, tough bankers get tough with Repo, CLR and SLPs.

What is the main function of RBI?

It is a pivotal institution that employs serious people whose job is to look serious when sitting around a conference table as the press photographers whirr away. These serious blokes’ other main work is to tell the country that the economy is in good shape and is looking to grow at 7% as and when the economy is actually on a tailspin in a dark abyss. After this they can go back to collect their pay checks, which is 250% of the nation’s GDP, which is another acronym that they are happy to use.

What are chief qualifications of a Finance Minister?

From Madhu Dandhavate to V P Singh to Manmohan Singh to P Chidambaram, the smart among you would have noticed, the common thing is their ability to wear spectacles. Finance Ministers have to be by qualification glass-wearers so that they can spot any impending financial tsunami. Yashwant Sinha did not sport one, and that is why he falsely spotted India to be Shining.

Now that we have covered all the bases, it is time to go ahead set right the economy, which is infuse more cash and credibility in the system and also give the country a new Finance Minister.

For the record, I am bespectacled.

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