Chapter nineteen of ‘The Deal Maker’ by Rakesh Wadhwa (www.rupapublications.com) takes you to November 2013, to the boardroom of Asset Finance International, in London.
The company’s ‘products’ involve betting on government performance, one learns. The destination is India, declares Ray Upton, the new member on the board. ‘Why India?’ asks Damian Knight. In response, Ray refers to ‘the budding political star’ Sudesh Kumar, representing ‘a new party with a radical laissez faire agenda’ but managing to win a Delhi seat for parliament.
He also draws a parallel to Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ in which innovators and entrepreneurs went to Galt’s Gulch to set themselves free of government intervention, and argues that going to India is more realistic, because it has huge readymade markets and cutting-edge technology.
It is April 2014 and you get introduced to a crisis in Washington, DC. “Congressman Henderson is supporting a new law forbidding the use of petrol-powered cars on interstate highways. We’ve been told that punters are already betting on the Upton Exchange that the law will not be passed. The UE (a gigantic, international betting agency) has a powerful effect on public opinion, so now there is less chance for the Bill to pass.” Thus reads a snatch of conversation between Katy Chan and a Goldman Sachs’ lobbyist, David Kaplan, at Willard Hotel in Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now, what can be done to influence the Exchange, wonders Katy. Where the government has published a regulatory impact assessment or cost-benefit analysis, then it is simple, opines David. “All Upton’s analysts need to do is see whether the outcomes are as predicted. Alternatively, a cost-benefit analysis is undertaken by a top accounting company, working according to published rules and procedure.”
Shift to East Delhi, July 2017, and you see Anju, a small woman in a ragged salwar kameez approaching an ATM cautiously. “She gazed into the device indicated by a stylised pair of eyes, and a voice said in Hindi, ‘Welcome, Mrs Basu, your welfare payments are available, please proceed.’ The face recognition device was standard, and the machine was programmed to provide up to the date information in simple language,” narrates Wadhwa.
“The woman put her Care Card into the device as she had been taught, and her credits were downloaded. She would use the credit limit to buy food for her family and support education of her two children.”
At the street corner, she asks a shopkeeper, ‘The social worker told me I can buy food with this card. Do you know what I must do?’ Just choose the items you want and bring them to me, he says.
“After the shopkeeper had rung up the total, he produced a small card reading device and asked Anju to swipe her card. She placed her thumb on the fingerprint recognition pad. ‘Done,’ the man smiled at Anju. And here is a printout showing you the items you bought, what they cost, and how much you have left with for the rest of the month…’”
Keywords: Asset Finance International