Tucked away in the dusty appendix of rarely recollected fables is one involving an ostrich.
One of Mr. Ostrich’s favourite interactions with time involved letting his head rest underground, for thought-less introspection. One gray day, horrible hurricanes descended upon him, decimating nearly everything. But Mr. Ostrich, with his head underground, didn’t have a clue and escaped unscathed. Another dusty day, a sandstorm arrived at his dwelling, did its work, and took Mr. Ostrich’s home as a souvenir, causing him unnecessary expenditure. But Mr. Ostrich, with his head underground, didn’t have a clue and escaped unscathed. Yet another particularly cold day, snow consumed nearly everything in her cool embrace. But Mr. Ostrich, with his head underground, didn’t have a clue and escaped unscathed.
A monkey came along, disturbed Mr. Ostrich from his meditative state and filled him in on the horrible events. Smugly, Mr. Ostrich declared that his carefully deliberated and thoughtful policy of sticking his head underground had helped him survive the crisis. Gallingly, for the monkey, Mr. Ostrich seemed to delight in assuming credit for this profoundly wise activity.
Soon after, Mr. Smug Ostrich progressed into the after-life. In a queer turn of events, he was reborn. In India. In yet another queer turn of events, he soon assumed office at the Government (Big G, henceforth) and was entrusted with economic policy.
Mr. Ostrich sees Red over iron-ore
A handful of diligent underlings drew his attention to rampant illegal iron-ore mining in the country. This was draining Big G’s coffers of much-needed capital. Mr. Ostrich immediately swung into action, imposing a ban on fresh iron-ore mining. Then, customarily, he decided to go underground.
It wasn’t long before several industries, where iron-ore was an unsubstitutable input, ran into trouble. With characteristic smugness, Mr. Ostrich declared that this would greatly benefit domestic industry by way of reduced iron-ore prices, even as onlookers expressed incredulity. When someone reminded him that Australia and Brazil, larger players in the global iron-ore trade, had far lower taxes; Mr. Ostrich waved his dismissal.
Then, in a move bordering on genius, Mr. Ostrich ordered a 50% hike in duty charged on exports of iron-ore. Two birds with one stone, Mr. Ostrich thought. Big G’s revenues would increase due to the duty hike and domestic industry would benefit from iron-ore availability. But he couldn’t seem to understand why producers weren’t producing any iron-ore!
Here was Mr. Ostrich’s lesson to the world.
A fool-proof method of raising revenue was to ban production and then raise taxes on non-existent exports. Further, his move had succeeded in making iron-ore abundantly unavailable in a country that otherwise produced far more iron-ore than it needed for its own consumption.
Everyone sneered happily ever after. Mr. Ostrich promptly assumed credit. For doing little.
Mr. Ostrich masters the art of buying high-selling low: Sugary tales
Mr. Ostrich was neutral towards sugar and sweetness, in general. But the industry was rather important to his electoral fortunes and so he looked at this industry closely.
Mr. Ostrich was of the opinion that exporting a commodity after a nation’s requirements were met completely wasn’t a smart idea. Even as international sugar prices ruled above domestic prices, Mr. Ostrich declined to use the dreaded ‘exports’ word. Then, global prices collapsed. Mr. Ostrich had a brain wave and expeditiously ruled that exports would now be allowed. Only now, the world had changed. There was too much supply, especially in his own backyard, where supplies were likely to be far more than was required.
Mr. Ostrich was unfazed and assumed credit for carrying out the (non)sensical.
Mr. Ostrich assumes credit for ‘avoiding’ the economic crisis
The 2008/9 crisis seemed to consume the globe. But a handful of nations miraculously seemed to have escaped its tentacles. Mr. Ostrich, promptly, got an invite from the London School of Economics for insights on crisis-warfare. Mr. Ostrich did not disappoint – he never disappointed – and delivered an oratorical masterpiece, assuming credit for ‘steering India through trying times’, for ‘keeping the toxic derivative instruments, that brought the West to its knees, at bay’.
A soul, possibly cynical, broke the bonhomie and reminded Mr. Ostrich that India was largely an underdeveloped marketplace. In financial development terms, as in most other areas, India was a good few decades behind its self-proclaimed competitor, China. Further, India made up a tiny fraction in global money-lords’ investment portfolios. It was a proverbial small fish in a massive pond.
Perhaps, India had gotten away because it was a tiny blip in Earth’s investment radar?
In an admirable display of the rare skill of keeping opinion-altering facts beyond the gates of his brain, Mr. Ostrich, waved the naysayer away. The question remained unanswered as Mr. Ostrich opted to return to his much-preferred state of thought-free meditation.
Someone mentioned that an ostrich’s eyes were bigger than his brain; so they might be expected to see better than think.
Mr. Ostrich seemed an exception. He could do neither.