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Our politicians make better investment bankers
Our politicians are wealth creators par excellence. What does it matter if they create wealth for themselves and not for the country? Let us look at the positive side. Their expertise is something, which even IIM products cannot match.
A FRONT-paged article in the Times of India (Bangalore edition, dated April 23, 2008) reports that HDK and other politicians have multiplied their wealth manifold. The acronym HDK refers of course to the former chief minister of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy, the enfant terrible, aptly sired by HD Deve Gowda, the former Prime Minister of India and the Janata Dal - Secular (JD - S) boss. The whopping leap in the value of the assets of some political leaders has been captured by the newspaper from the affidavits filed by them in 2004 and now. As the newspaper rightly points out, there could be more surprises in store considering Karnataka will go to polls in three phases and many more affidavits are yet to be filed.

According to the newspaper, HDK, his wife and his son have assets worth INR (Indian Rupee) 49.72 crores against INR 3.76 crores four years ago, a jump of around 13 times. The newspaper has made a mistake here. If it wants our finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to understand what it says, it has to put in compounded annual growth rate or CAGR terms. The newspaper seems to have forgotten momentarily that our FM is Harvard-educated and it is blasphemous to use words or phrases, which the Harvard-educated crowd does not understand. So let me help out the newspaper. For the information of the newspaper, this translates into a CAGR of 90.69 per cent. The son of the Kumaraswamys, Nikhil, has assets worth INR 2.49 crores and liabilities worth INR 1.45 crores. This precocious under-25 son of the Kumaraswamys must be highly credit worthy, although one does not know what he does for a living. But what one does know is that the youngster works his fingers to the bone – so much so, he forgets to eat, at times. But nature has its own way of asserting itself and so if around 2 or 3am, hunger pangs force him to intrude on a posh Brigade Road restaurant and it refuses to serve food to the famished ‘juvenile delinquent’ (as the former Home minister and deputy chief minister in the Kumaraswamy cabinet, MP Prakash put it), he naturally bashes up the restaurant workers and vandalises the restaurant. Unfortunately, the press makes a mountain out of a molehill at such times instead of sympathising with the juvenile delinquent.

In 2004, Congress politician and former Bangalore development minister V Somanna and his immediate family had assets worth INR 2.61 crores. By 2008, their assets had grown by 10 times to reach INR 21 crores. Of this, his assets are valued at INR 2.93 crores. His wife has INR 15.89 crores worth of property, including land worth INR 12.8 crores in Bangalore and Doddaballapur. Their sons, BS Naveen and BS Arun, have property worth INR 1.09 crores and INR 96.59 lakhs respectively. Their daughter, BS Divya has property worth INR 27.42 lakhs. Here again, it will be in order for me to help the newspaper quantify Somanna’s wealth growth in CAGR terms. In CAGR terms, it has grown by 68.42 per cent. Well, whether Bangalore witnessed development or not, Somanna has definitely witnessed development. At least, one household out of the lakhs and lakhs of households scattered all over this sprawling city has developed.

Former Congress MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao, whose immediate family did not own any property in 2004, now has family property worth INR 20 crores. Dinesh Gundu Rao owns property worth INR 18 crores in fast-growing Devanahalli (where a new airport has come up) and a house worth INR one crore in RT Nagar. His wife owns land worth INR one crore on Race Course Road. In CAGR terms, Dinesh Gundu Rao’s wealth has grown at a whopping 111.47 percent.

In 2004, A Narayanaswamy, the BJP candidate from Anekal, had INR 25.3 lakhs as his immediate family’s assets. Now the family has assets worth INR 2.2 crores. This includes land worth INR one crore and a house in HSR Layout worth an equal sum. In CAGR terms, Narayanaswamy’s wealth has grown by 71.72 percent.

Can our Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) or for that matter, the business school that has come up in Hyderabad turn out an investment banker who can generate a return on investment of at least 68 per cent, tax-free and represent the poor people of the country, to boot? Why not our finance minister Chidambaram utilise the services of the foregoing worthies to manage government funds instead of creating a Sovereign Wealth Fund? They can help banks in improving their ‘other income’. Let these politicians teach at our IIMs as Lalu Prasad did at IIM, Ahmedabad. It will serve two purposes. The IIMs will turn out students who will have mastered the art of becoming rich overnight. The IIMs will also have succeeded in increasing the tribe (of such politicians). Chidambaram will have made amends for not setting the income-tax sleuths on corrupt politicians.
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