Mata Hurry writes from New Delhi: Let’s be clear: if you’re a regular law-abiding citizen you will be mauled by inflation and within a year or so you will be bankrupted by rising prices and high taxes. Inflation in India was in double digits last week and is expected to linger in high single or double digits in the months ahead. The Indian Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee blithely assures us that inflation will fall to 6 per cent levels in March. Trouble is he never defines the year when the inflation rate will supposedly fall. Especially as the GDP growth is sliding and the fiscal deficit is ballooning, thanks to profligate spending on boondoggle social security schemes by the government. Exports have slumped, the rupee is falling against the dollar and of course unemployment is rising. Amid this economic gloom, it would seem that the politicians have a right to scam, while we the scammed citizens have a fundamental right to inflation.
The investment bankers and market analysts prattle on incessantly about the conventional avenues of investment to beat the inflation blues. Invest in bank deposits they say. What these gifted morons don’t tell you is that you’re earning a negative return on your investment. If your fixed deposit earns 9.5 per cent and inflation is 10 per cent plus: your return on the term deposit is minus 0.5 per cent.
Invest in stocks they further add. If you follow their advice and buy blue chip shares in the stock market today don’t be shocked to discover that the next day the stock tanks when hedge funds and mutual funds dump the shares you just bought. The gullible investor is the last to know that the company he or she has invested in is drowning in debt. So avoid the stock market like the plague for now.
If you have nerves of steel with a proclivity towards fraud and swindles, try the following to rake in that extra cash. The lily livered weaklings or faint hearted wimps are advised to just roll over and wither away.
Becoming a hustler is a fairly easily option with minimum risks. For some inexplicable reason, hustlers are also called ‘touts’ here. The latter can be broadly defined as a commission agents, black marketers or dodgy salesmen. This species is generally the preserve of males, who are shifty eyed and nimble footed. The tout has to be quick on his feet; he can’t be a fat slob since he has to be constantly on the lookout for the police who may demand a slice of his illegal pickings.
It’s easy to spot a tout and probably easier to become one. He usually has large pockets bulging with cash, and he is often found loitering outside railway stations, property registration offices and cricket match venues. At the railway station, the swindlers will purchase vast numbers of train tickets days weeks before the departure date, and then flog them at a hundred per cent plus premium to poor travelers desperate to travel on the last train home for their annual holidays.
Obviously, there are no invoices and no receipts. What can be more blissful than tax free money to add to your treasure chest of cash safely stored in that capacious mattress under your bed?
During the 2011 Cricket World Cup at Mohali three young men were arrested for selling tickets worth 250 rupees for 50,000 in a sting operation. They were the unlucky ones. Most of these scalpers, however, never get caught, so it pays handsomely to be one. And even if they do get arrested, they will soon be out on bail; their trials could last decades and they may eventually be acquitted for lack of evidence.
Begging on the streets is risk free choice worth pursuing only if you have a lean and hungry look. Working hours though can be long and arduous. For starters, a street vagrant should don some tattered filthy clothes, rattle a battered old can with a few coins and hang around crowded markets, railway stations and traffic junctions. A stentorian voice that can resonate across streets is an added advantage; a wailing wife to recount sad tales of family tragedies will further enhance the authenticity of the wails. There may not be rich pickings every day, but at least they are tax free. Besides you don’t have to shower or wash your clothes for days on end so you will save on exorbitant water bills.
The riskiest choice of all is to start a Ponzi scheme because authorities have a track record of taking punitive action once the fraud has been exposed. Recently, a company splashed halfpage advertisements in several papers promising investors 300 per cent returns on investments in gold and silver within 2 years. When investors stopped receiving payouts after 6 months they complained to the authorities. The owners of the company were arrested.
There are always suckers for such dodgy pyramid schemes. You can always rhapsodize about your product in newspaper advertisements, and glossy brochures. For instance, extol the medicinal properties of a wonderful herb, Festuca arundinacea which is Latin incidentally for a kind of common weed. Bolster the therapeutic claims with some fictional research from the University of Mongolia that this wonder plant Festuca arundinacea can cure diseases such as Exploding Eyebrow syndrome. Claim that you are growing the plants in a thousand acres of pristine land in the hills. Thousands will queue outside your office to buy a stake in your swindle. Now which investor does research on his investments? Do they visit the manufacturing facilities of Fortune 500 companies when they purchase these companies’ shares?
The Ponzi scammers alas are often nabbed by the authorities because of their unbridled greed for lucre. Within four to six months of launching the scams, you would be well advised to vamoose with your loot before the investors wise up to your extortion racketeering and send you to the slammer. Decamp to a remote island beyond the reach of the authorities with your booty. With economies in a tailspin across the world, real estate on remote islands could be easily available at a discount.
The hustlers and swindlers will combat and defeat inflation. As for the rest of you, fasten your seatbelts: you’re plunging headlong into insolvency.