The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Why Ashokans Should Invest

Medici’s Mindset

Shivank Sarin, Class of 2019

The word Renaissance paints frescoes of political, scientific and cultural revolutions in most of our minds. Some are even reminded of Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s Great Books lectures covering Bertolt Brecht’s play on Galileo. Interestingly, history’s cradle of science and culture (Italy) also gave birth to the art of managing wealth.

The Medici were the sculptors of modern finance. They traded with one another on benches, the Italian word for which was ‘Bank’. Thus was born the institution of banking. As pioneers of banking, the Medici family benefitted enormously. Their fabulous wealth enabled their rise to power. Not only were they rulers of Florence for most of the Renaissance period, but 5 of the Medici’s became Popes! There has been no greater example of wealth creation leading to absolute power in the history of mankind. There’s a lot we can learn by embracing the Medici Mindset. The first step towards developing it is to learn how to invest.

Investing is the art of deferring current consumption in the hope of consuming more in the future. The principal amount may be invested in diverse financial instruments including but not limited to currencies, stocks, bonds, commodities etc. These instruments, technically known as ‘asset classes’, act as storehouses of value that are expected to earn a return over and above the principal amount invested. The basic premise of investing hence lies in achieving returns that beat the rate of inflation, so that one’s personal wealth grows faster than that of the economy. Business magnates like Andrew Carnegie and Jeff Bezos have used the gains from investing to found great institutions like Carnegie Steel and Amazon Inc. respectively.

Source: Washington State University

The great Chinese reformer, President Deng Xiaoping once said — ‘To get Rich is glorious”. He set the tone for reform in China in the early eighties, and made China the fastest growing economy, which is now in a position to beat USA and become global leader.

Examples like Jeff Bezos, Andrew Carnegie, the Medici’s and China show us that in the past 500 years, successful investors (whether families, individuals or countries) have become financially rich and socially influential: such is the power of investing. Closer to home, the Indian stock market has grown at 13% on average over the past 20 years. Investing ₹10,000 in the year 1998 would have left you with ₹1,10,00 today! The same amount, if invested in a bank Fixed Deposit, would have yielded ₹42,500 today (61% lesser), and a meager ₹22,000 (80% lesser) if put in a savings account. We see that investors became richer than savers, even in India. This is due to the phenomenon called compounding. The earlier you start, the longer the forces of compounding act on the investment.

So why must Ashokans Invest? For one, to learn the art of getting rich and hopefully gain financial and social influence with that. This power and influence can then be used towards the betterment of mankind. A case in point would be our founders: Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Mr. Ashish Dhawan, to name a couple, who have invested a significant portion of their investment returns towards philanthropic ventures.

Investing can also be a lot of fun, and a great tool to learn about the world. Consider this — before making an investment in any company, most seasoned investors conduct a detailed evaluation of the company, its competitors, the industry, etc. Hence, the quest to becoming a good investor also involves becoming knowledgeable about a variety of other disciplines. At the very least, an investor can certainly expect their knowledge to compound, even if their wealth doesn’t. To quote Benjamin Franklin on this subject, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Investing further imbibes the qualities of patience, critical thinking and self-control. Thus, it has the power to subliminally shape us for the better without demanding a substantial time commitment.

So you see, the returns of investing may be more than just on the capital employed, and the earlier we start, the better it is for ourselves. I conclude by suggesting a few elementary books and videos that have helped shape my views on investing and personal finance. I hope that this acts as the first step towards developing the Medici Mindset for you!


Learn to Earn- Peter Lynch

Rich Dad, Poor Dad- Robert Kiyosaki

Poor Charlie’s Almanack- Charlie Munger

Fooled by Randomness- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Videos- — How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio — William Ackman- Everything You Needed to Know About Finance and Investing In Under an Hour

Shivank Sarin is the Founder and President of the Ashoka Undergraduate Investments Club.

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