India Uncut

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Profit as a dirty word (and Wodehouse v Simenon)

"Profit is a dirty word," Jawaharlal Nehru once said, and this attitude still persists among loads of people, including some in government. I was reminded of this today when I met up with my friend JAP, the blogger who is an IAS officer in his day job, running a PSU from Kolkata. He told me an interesting story about how, a couple of years ago, he went to his minister and proudly informed him that he had turned the previously loss-making PSU around, and it had made healthy profits that year. The minister frowned and said, in a worried voice:

"I think we should keep quiet about this."

Befuddled, I asked JAP why, and he told me that the minister, no doubt under a Nehruvian kind of conditioning, wasn't sure if making a profit was a good thing to do.

Oh, how I wish I was kidding and had made this up. Of course, JAP was all praises for the minister he currently works with, as also for PG Wodehouse's writing discipline and prolificacy. Pah. Wodehouse wrote just 96 books. What's that compared to Georges Simenon? Babyfood.

Update: Speaking of Nehru, catch him say "Yo Mahatma, I still got all my notes from Cambridge" in this illustrated strip on India's economic history, by some chappie named Horsey. Whoever thought Keynes and Hayek would land up on the same page as Nehru, Gandhi and Gandhi. Muchos funno. (Link via email from Kunal.)
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