It’s time to invest in Swadeshi

Indian corporations have been the country’s biggest wealth creators over the past 40 years, generously protecting shareholders’ living standards. Yet this wealth is distributed among about 5% of the country’s population who pay income taxes, buy life insurance, receive pension benefits or are exposed, directly or through intermediaries, to the stock market. . Less than a third of Indian households benefit from shareholder capitalism. The rest is relegated to the periphery of the wealth creation process by saving relatively unproductive assets like gold and houses. Part of the reason is a cultural risk aversion. But financial access is also denied to those operating in the country’s large informal economy.

Why do so many Indians end up exporting their savings through gold when there is a much better alternative swadeshi? Indian savers have loaned western borrowers some of the wealth created at home and abroad anyway. The country’s market capitalization is five times the size of its foreign exchange reserves. In return, foreigners own a fifth of India’s most productive domestic assets. Warren Buffett made a fortune for his followers by asking them to bet on American business. Surely this can be replicated here as well.

For a country that achieved its freedom through, among other things, a vigorous swadeshi movement, the idea of ​​nationalism in savings choices should not be foreign. Most household financial savings contribute to nation building through the government borrowing program. If Indians could be weaned from their affinity for physical savings and channels to the stock market were widened, more of them would contribute to the national effort and, therefore, become richer sooner. Major stock indices serve as markers of the health of emerging economies, and broader local participation mitigates the volatility caused by international capital flows. The government should encourage the markets to play Robin Hood in the redistribution of wealth. It’s time for a Swadeshi investment move.

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