If there is one thing I truly miss from my Philadelphia days is a super creamy cheesecake (ok, I miss the super greasy Philly Cheesesteak too!). And somehow the German Käsekuchen wasn't working for me. It is too healthy and the taste of quark still feels alien for me.
|The batter - always the delicious start to baking. Too bad I didn't find Graham crackers in Hamburg!|
So this time I decided to take matters into my hands and launched the NewYork cheesecake test initiation. The conditions for carrying out the experiment were perfect - (a) Accidentally I am home for once on a Friday night (b) lots of reading to be done before my next literature meet-up (c) I am in mood for food lab experiments. Mixing the three was possible that evening.
|Philadelphia Cream cheese however saves my day!|
The book in discussion is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I think it will be interesting to discuss a book I read a decade ago, keeping in mind the crux of discussion always being "Who is John Galt?" and Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism. John Galt is the fictional hero in Atlas Shrugged who quoted the famous line - "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine". It was his speech towards the end of the book that impacts me, even ten years later. He epitomises capitalism at its purest form - innovation, self-reliance, and free from government interference. Speculating on his views is nothing more than my own conflicted and ambivalent views on governmental regulations. The idea of rational self-interest fits to the T when I think about why India needs budding entrepreneurs and not just "IIT-IIM" smart employees. We have some of the world's best minds, but our entrepreneurial innovators are terrified and infuriated with lack of support from government and most financial institutions. The government is definitely anti-growth and derives sadistic pleasure on creating more (unnecessary) regulations to kill entrepreneurial ventures.
|The sight and the smell of fresh baking that engulfs my house - pure joy!|
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and I am well aware of the all sorts problems raised by Indian government when you want to start a project. Looking at all the potential of this country, it saddens me that most of them remains untapped. So I wonder, would John Galt be more disturbed by the plethora of governmental regulations, or the government's failure to support entrepreneurial ventures in the country? Two separate situations, but both intertwined with highly complex political and financial challenges. Instead of encouraging to create more jobs to boost the economy, the trend is to get a "safe" job. But is safety worth at the cost of a staggering economy? The funda is simple : no new jobs, less competition in the market, less innovation. Hence rate of progress infinitesimally small. I hate the fact that India is still a developing country. But what disturbs me the most is that most Indians are happy with that status quo.
|Sour cream topping - simple but so delicious!|
The truth is Indian entrepreneurs operate in "fight or flight" mode. Many will attempt to fight their way through by consciously limiting growth (and thus government scrutiny), keeping their employed population a small as reasonably possible. Others have and more will merely exit the field. Others will stay, with regret, in more secure positions rather than enter a rigged game. They will manifest the numbness that grips many a normally stout-heart today. This brings me to another big question : Will "going John Galt" bring a change in the entrepreneurial scenario in India? Fed up with the socialistic world he’s living in, Galt decides to leave and encourages numerous other entrepreneurs to follow him. As a result, the economy more or less grinds to a halt.
|Midnight cheesecake party - always the best sharing with friends!|
Not long ago, the Father of the Nation did tell us, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do." The implications would be dire if our business leaders and entrepreneurs actually decides "going John Galt" . Possible decay in the economic dynamism and lack of employment growth is just the tip of the iceberg. But there will be a revolution - one that protests against government's unconstitutional regulations and taxes. For that, entrepreneurs must take action. Now. Of course, it will be challenging to emulate our larger-than-life fictional hero, John Galt. However we do have exemplary heroes like Dhirubhai Ambani or Steve Jobs, who were infact true-to-life John Galt.
|And the morning-after with a cup of coffee.|
So if you are an entrepreneur, I challenge you to pick the role model you most identify with, and take actions before you lose your profits, freedom and ability to innovate. Repeat this loudly - "Get the hell out of my way!" everytime the bureaucratic puppets try to control you. The impeding question is no longer "Who is John Galt?" but its more of now "going John Galt". I want more owners and investors in this country to manage the economy. And if this sounds like capitalism outcry , so be it.
‘The guilt is ours… If we who were the movers, the providers, the benefactors of mankind, were willing to let the brand of evil be stamped upon us and silently to bear the punishment for our virtues—what sort of “good” did we expect to triumph in the world?’ - Atlas Shrugged.