Debate has changed, thanks to reform

published on August 15, 2007


Debate has changed, thanks to reform

The world’s largest democracy is hosting the

biggest debate of its 60 years of existence.

We have always been argumentative, of course.


we have also tended to be far too enamoured of shibboleths

and respectful of secular deities.

Much of that awe and respectfulness is gone now

and that wonderful result,

which engendered so many convention-indifferent arguments

 across this continent-sized country,

is a direct result of India junking the biggest shibboleth

and deity – economic collectivism.


Look around and tune

 in to some of the arguments being heard around

 India as this 15th August is celebrated.


 Should industry buy land directly from farmers?

Is industrial capital being exported, that too to the West,

because Indian entrepreneurs are finding India too inhibiting?

 Can we have quotas while our education delivery remains poor?

 How close strategically should India be to America?

 Why make PAN cards mandatory for investment,

since it can block out investors from the informal economy,

 whose capacity to invest is such a triumphal vindication

 of the nation’s economic course correction?

Does the public sector really have a future worth fighting for?

Are government salaries too low?

Are skilled professionals being paid too much in the private sector?

How fast is poverty falling?

Should we involve the private sector in social welfare projects

as some state governments are already experimenting?

Not one of these questions

was being asked

 when India celebrated 50 years of independence.

The paradigm shift in public debate has been vast and, naturally,

 in a democracy of this size and of this awesome complexity,

 the arguments are furious, occasionally raucous.

What other way is there for a democracy to move forward?


Let’s again recall though why we are moving forward:

in this debate, liberal economics and its adjunct, a confident foreign policy,

 are being closely scrutinised, but they are being scrutinised

because they are in the intellectual pole position.


When Marxists use ‘neo liberal’ as a term of abuse –

 India’s public life would have been noticeably poorer without our Marxists

 – it is proof economic liberalism has won many battles over a short period of time.


 Some of us occasionally indulge in a counterfactual exercise:

where would India be today if its establishment had chosen 60 years back

what it is entirely comfortable with now.

Never mind.

Let us look ahead, and look at shibboleths still

 with us that need to be consigned where they belong.

One thing stands out.

Independent India is a young country

 – 60 is hardly any age for a nation-state – full of young people.


grey is the colour of India’s public life.


How many Indians below 50, forget 40 or 30, are in positions of real power?


How many Indians above 75 think those below 50 are just too immature?


 These are particularly ironical questions

when you realise what a ‘teenager’ has done for this country

– economic reform is just 16 years old.


Sriram Savarkar
Dharmo Rakshati Rakshithaha
If you protect Dharma, Dharma will in turn protect you

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