Rajiv Bahl, Founder, Fun Foods & Author, Re-imagining Jobs in a Fast-Changing World
Rajiv has authored two books namely, Reimagining Jobs in a Fast-Changing World and The Economic Reactor. He was the Founder of the well-known- Funfoods. He is a sailor, entrepreneur, and a unique author!
Rajiv has authored two books namely, Reimagining Jobs in a Fast-Changing World and The Economic Reactor. He was the Founder of the well-known- funfoods. He is a sailor, entrepreneur, and a unique author!
In conversation with host Ashutosh Garg, Rajiv shares the story of his professional journey and the many experiences that he has gained on it. Rajiv talks about his book and also explains the story behind it. He speaks about choosing employment as a subject and his incline towards the economic situation of our country. In order to answer some big questions around the articles he read about decreasing jobs, Rajiv started researching about employment and the economy. This led to his very first book- Reimagining Jobs in a Fast-Changing Economy.
He talks about the idea of creating a hundred million jobs and how this vision can be achieved by the local multiplier effect. Rajiv also highlights the 8 important aspects that are mentioned in his book like – sharing economy, transport, water, etc. His opinions are technology-driven and cater to the modern economy. Rajiv also shares his thoughts on what makes a good writer and shares his working style as a writer.
My schooling was all over the country, with my father being first in the army and later joining the railways and having transferable jobs. I studied in some of the better-known schools of the country but regrettably did not finish my schooling. While in the eleventh, I appeared for the entrance exam for the training ship Dufferin, got selected, and joined the merchant navy before I was 16, without finishing school. My sea career lasted 17 years, the last 7 of them as captain of my ship. Those were the golden days for sailors before container ships arrived on the scene. We had really long port stays. We also had plenty of time to read both during long voyages at sea and during leave periods, which were typically of many months. Fortunately, I had developed a reading habit early on which I could now indulge in vociferously. I soon realized that there was little that did not interest me.
We also got to see the world up close, albeit from a waterfront perspective. Some places were better off and often more convivial than others. Often neighboring countries with very similar resources were very different from each other. China in those days of the sixties was a very different place from what it is today, with everyone wearing ungainly Mao suits and at most possessing a bicycle, whereas Taiwan was a bustling and thriving place with motorcycles being the predominant mode of transport. From a sailor’s point of view, Taiwan and open economy places like Taiwan were also happier places with thriving bars and nightclubs. The difference was palpable. Even if we had never visited a particular port before, we became adept at guessing what sort of a stay we were going to have there. This roused a curiosity within me regarding economics. I read whatever book on the subject I could lay my hands on. Nebulous ideas about an economic engine with its many parts began forming in my mind.
Later after hanging up my sea boots, I started a food processing company in India, with the brand name of Fun Foods. The USP of Fun Foods was that we were able to introduce to the Indian market a large variety of products, such as Mayonnaise, Sandwich Spreads, and Mustards, among many others, which had hitherto not been available in India. We were also able to tweak the taste profiles of our products to make them more acceptable to the Indian palate. While trying to run a food processing company in India, I was directly confronted with the problems of doing business in India. I saw how an economic engine ought not to be running. In 2008 I sold the business to a multinational company.
I then tried to put my thoughts about an economic engine that works all around us and of which we are all a part, down on paper. The result was my first book The Economic Reactor. The name of the book forced itself upon me after realizing that the workings of the economic engine mirrored the workings of a nuclear fission power plant. The radioactive atoms of the nuclear plant, which gave the starting impetus to the reactor, were replaced by human minds and the particles they emitted, were replaced by ideas generated by fissile minds. Other parts of the fission power plant also dovetailed with the economic engine with the heat exchanger representing the marketplace and the coolant representing money. It was an unusual way of looking at an economy but was pertinent to every economy. The book was released by Mr. Vinod Rai, who agreed to launch the book after reading it. Mr. Rai, who has done his Masters in Economics, paid me a huge compliment when he said his understanding of economics had increased after reading the book.
My second book, ‘Re-imaging Jobs in a Fast-changing World’, was triggered by the realization of the rapidity at which jobs were being lost worldwide to the rising adoption of robotics and AI and major breakthroughs in almost all fields of human endeavor. Some sort of a Universal Basic income or a Universal supplementary income scheme seemed inevitable. While some other economists and social thinkers have also propounded the idea of a UBI or USI, they have all done so with an aura of diffidence and almost apologetically, with their focus being on alleviating physical and psychological hardship among the poorer segments of societies. To the best of my knowledge, no one has spoken about the enervating effects of such a scheme on the economy at large. No one has grasped the possibility that such a scheme if put into practice, could under the right conditions, act as if pouring petrol on the smoldering embers of a stagnant economy. There could be a conflagration of economic activity, bringing growth and generating jobs all across the economy. Again, no one to the best of my knowledge has tried to estimate the number of jobs a USI may generate. In the formula I have evolved to estimate the number of jobs, I have employed values at best based on informed guesswork and all the values may be disputed. It will be difficult however to dispute the approach.
I think it is important that this book be brought to the attention of decision-makers.