Once upon a time long, long ago I used to be a fan of Ayn Rand’s books!
This must have been circa 1980 when I was a student and believed that there is a perfect world…and it exists in the world occupied by the White Man. It was a time when it was easy to believe that democracy existed, capitalism was perfect, Americans were literate, Indian philosophy was not relevant today, and Ayn Rand was the ‘Economic God of Perfect Capitalism’.
Then I graduated, did my CA, read a little more. Then understood Bhagwat Gita better.
Saw that the Americans loved democracy so much, that they kept it all to themselves! They did not like democracy unless it was made at home – OMG what patriotism!
Capitalism was spelt – L-O-B-B-Y-I-N-G (and my Economics teacher did not tell me that). Capitalism meant wheat, rice, sugar grown in India could not be sold in USA, but Pepsi had to be allowed to buy potato in India at Rs. 3 a kg and sell chips to Indians at Rs. 500 a kg. Gillette was allowed to buy Indian steel, Indian plastic, use Indian models but sell shaving blades at US prices :). No, I am not complaining – I hold shares of Gillette.
India will not allow foreign retail, but Citibank was allowed to sell anything in retail – ask Hero Honda group!
The way Ayn Rand understood capitalism was that the owner was wanting the long term good of the organisation. Sadly this was her understanding of a ‘An unknown Ideal’
However, today I meet CEOs who have a 2-3 year view on the company where they work. Management and Ownership is really diverse – nobody owns up the responsibility for the long term (say 30 years) of the organisation. Imagine I have bought a ULIP for 25 years in a company where the CIO changes often!
Ayn Rand is relevant only when the owner is managing. When employees, minority shareholders and the majority shareholders have a divergent view on what should happen in the company….well it is the MAJOR shareholder who wins. Sometimes it is the employee who wins. Many a times it is the ego of the CEO (who may not have any shares at all) which makes him do things AGAINST the wishes of the board of directors!
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