Rich Indians are Voting with their Feet

Disheartened by bad economic policies, rich Indians are migrating to the developed world at an alarming rate

A recent report by the New World Wealth, a South Africa based market research firm, highlights that 7,000 rich Indians left the country in 2017. This number is an increase from 4,000 in 2015 and 6000 in 2016. Overall, more than 75,000 rich Indians have left India since 2000. The report highlights that the migrants chose to move to Australia, USA, Canada and other developed nations. While the report does not explain the reasons for rich people leaving India, sincere consideration needs to be given to the issue.

The rich Indians add much more value to the economy as they create companies and businesses that make our lives easier. If the Ambanis, Mittals or Birals did not establish telecom companies, we would still be dependent on the mercy of bureaucrats in BSNL and MTNL to have a basic phone connection. The rich also help in increasing overall productivity that is indispensable for the economic growth of the country, for instance, ubiquitous mobile phones have helped create numerous business opportunities for app developers, engineers, food service providers (via Zomato, FoodPanda and others), etc. Investments and consumption by the rich also creates jobs for the economy, which India desperately needs. Thus, even if only 7,000 people have left India in 2017, the cost to the economy is substantial.

Instead of rolling out red-carpet for High Net-worth Individuals, as the ultra-rich are referred to in the report, the Indian government treats them like criminals and makes it difficult for them to go about their day to day life. In every budget, they are disproportionately burdened with new taxes, surcharges, cesses and regulations. Additionally, numerous rules are passed every year that government officials use to harass them. Moreover, doing business in the country is fraught with needless procedures. Just for registering a company, one must wait almost a month and complete 12 different procedures. The dismal state of the rule of law in the country doesn’t help either. To enforce a simple contract our courts take four years on average. Our cities remain completely chaotic, traffic is barely manageable and the air is polluted.

At times I wonder what is keeping other rich and successful people in this country.

I could go on and on about the perilous situation in the country, but the fact remains that on every measure, we have failed our people. While the middle-class and the poor do not have much choice but to continue with their lives, the rich are clearly voting with their feet. It is the time we start creating the conditions necessary for everyone to prosper within India, the rich and the poor alike, so that our fellow citizens do not need to go halfway across the world to live a decent life.