Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Billionaire Raj by James Crabtree

I had no idea what was going on in India. As Crabtree writes, “Rather than fearing the world, India has embraced it.” (16) The decade of growth and globalization has produced an increasing number of billionaires.

Crabtree look at three aspects of India. The first aspect is the rise of the super rich. Just one percent owns half of the nation's wealth. Yet the poor remain. The inequality in the nation is great. Only South Africa has higher levels of income inequality. (101) The second issue is crony capitalism. Much of the country's growth has come because of collusion between business and political elites. Although this has changed some, India may still be the most bribe-ridden nation in Asia. (359) The third issue is the boom and bust cycle of India's economy. It is experiencing what America did during its Gilded Age. But economic challenges are looming. At least ten million young people will be added to the labor market every year for decades. (331) At this point, no new jobs are being created. (344)

I like Crabtree's method of interviewing business and political people and adding historical, financial, and political information. That technique really added a personal sense to the book. I was amazed at the shear wealth some possessed. Like Jayalalitha Jayaram, a past minister and movie star in India. She gave a wedding reception in 1995 for her son that included 150,000 people and cost twenty three million dollars that's still a world record.

I recommend this book to readers who would like to understand the current condition in India. You'll get a good idea of the corruption and excess of the elites. You'll find out what some have done to try to bring India into a viable and growing democracy. You will also know the future choices that must be made to keep the growth but lose the corruption. While India is the world's largest remaining emerging market, the average Indian income lags far behind Chine. I'll be waiting to see how India moves forward.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

James Crabtree is an associate professor of practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He was formerly the Mumbai bureau chief for the Financial Times.

Tim Duggan Books, 416 pages. This book releases July 3.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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