Do you think India’s democracy is a problem to its success?
Jim Rogers : I can only make some observations. Japan, Korea, Singapore, China were all one-party states and, in some cases, were very vicious one-party states, but, as they became more prosperous, their people wanted more, demanded more and got more democratic, and they say this is the Asian way.
Greek philosopher Plato in The Republic, says that societies develop from dictatorship to oligarchy to democracy to chaos and then back to dictatorship. Chaos develops out of democracy. This seems to be what is happening in some of the Asian countries.
In the Soviet Union, they did the opposite—they said we will open up and let all people complain and they did. The people there were poor and they complained about being poor and hated the government. When South Korea opened up, the people were rich and they decided to get rid of the government without ruining the place. Taiwan did the same. Democracy being a problem may have credence in some Asian countries. But, I am not sure if India has been really a democracy in the true terms—from 1947 onwards, the opposition has had just one full term at the centre. The first five decades of its democracy, the centre has only seen a government led by a single party.
Power corrupts. Singapore was lucky. There has been plenty of criticism of Singapore’s (founding father) Lee Kuan Yew, and some of them are probably valid, but look at the results. Congo had a dictatorship for a long time, but has nothing to show for it. Singapore had a strong central government and look around you—I did not move to Congo, but I moved to Singapore. So it can go both ways.
In 1947, India was one of the most successful countries in the world relative to others. Even as recently as 1980, India was more successful than China, but then you know how that story turned. It was more successful than South Korea, more successful than most places in Asia—but, for me, it is unfortunate that you have failed to take advantage of some of your most valuable assets. India has some of the smartest people in the world, but it does not have an education system to support it. Infrastructure is equally poor. So, I don’t know if India would have been better without a democracy, and some of the greatest periods in history have been without democracy. But these are just my observations, and it is the Indians who must decide what they want.
Jim Rogers started trading the stock market with $600 in 1968.In 1973 he formed the Quantum Fund with the legendary investor George Soros before retiring, a multi millionaire at the age of 37. Rogers and Soros helped steer the fund to a miraculous 4,200% return over the 10 year span of the fund while the S&P 500 returned just 47%.