Update to Liberalisation – A True Story

Shouting down a well….

Every artist is a cannibal
Every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration
And sing about the grief

The Fly – U2

I dunno if anybody reads my rants or cares, and since I have not been blessed with a response from Amit of India Uncut (see last post), I can only assume that my write-up prompted him to update – and justify himself – this is when you know you’ve made an impact – when somebody actually feels obliged to defend themselves *pats self on back, for the millionth time*

Some people will no doubt consider such articles to be “unpatriotic”. Some of the responses I got to my AWSJ oped � just a small minority, thankfully � berated me for showing just the dark side of India’s liberalisation.

Ok first – complete inaccuracy. What Amit mentions in his blog is NOT The Dark Side of India’s Liberalisation. It’s the regular everyday side of India that’s existed since independence.

Second, at least now he admits that the liberalisation is not a myth. :-p

Third. It is not for me to judge whether anybody is ‘unpatriotic’ or not. Patriotism these days is almost like a swear word. Bush, and his ilk are ‘Patriotic’. Hitler loved his country. I’m sure Saddam loved his country too, and I’m sure Musharraf considers himself a true patriot.

….This gives globalisation and free markets a bad name, and it was important to point out that the reason for India’s inequalities is not the process that began in 1991, but the fact that it was wasn’t widespread enough, that it touched just a fraction of the people, and crucially, that it was the state, and the vast bureaucratic apparatus set up by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, that were coming in the way of progress….

So then… again… Liberalisation is not a myth… it’s just not complete (or as Liberal as MANY of us would like it to be). Big. Big. Difference. When you go spouting off to the Asian Wall Street Journal, please try to be a bit more accurate. Second has anybody else noticed his contradiction? Near the top, you say the Dark Side of India’s Liberalisation. Down below, you try to clarify that it is NOT the post 1991-process that’s holding things back.
I don’t think I’m nit-picking. If you write for the Asian Wall Street Journal, you should have an idea of what you’re writing, and what you’re trying to say…

But too many of us get too caught up in ourselves and don’t notice that most of India is still on the outside looking in.

Nope. 99% of us – us being Indians in India, and the rest of the world, are too busy worrying about the Large part of India on the outside looking in. This is called Socialism. And it is ingrained in us, as you show below.

Yes, our prosperity will touch them in small ways, but televisions in slums don’t count for progress if the owner of that television does not have legal entitlement to that land and a system that enables him to get ahead instead of pulling him down repeatedly.

1991. Slum-dweller with no legal entitlement to land tries to fight off starvation
2001. Slum-dweller with no legal entitlement to land manages to earn enough money to buy a TV
2011. …ummm can somebody see a pattern, or is just my naivete, stupidity, and optimism getting in the way. Could the entry here be… Slum-dweller makes enough money to either move out of slum, or get legal entitlement to his land? I think this is called progress…..

It is for him, and the millions like him, that it is important to point out what still needs to be done, and to not rest on whatever laurels we’ve earned.

1) Will all those Indians resting on our current laurels and who say that India has achieved all she has to achieve please stand up. All of those who are complacent, again please stand up. I don’t see anybody standing up.

2)I can hear my communism detectors going off – or I guess just left-wing detectors going off, because Amit claims to be all for free markets and stuff. “It is for him…” once upon a time, I wrote a post called The Common Man Myth. It is what every India denouncer uses to get his/her point across. It’s for that poor little common man. Forget the common women, and the other uncommoners. Note Amit says “It’s for him”, not it’s for them, or her. Sure it’s common for all of us to use hims or hers whenever we feel like. But can anybody see the picture that Amit has just formed for himself. It conforms to that same old stereotype used by the politicians down the ages. All of us want our country to be a better place. But I don’t want it to better for the slum-dweller of dharavi. I want it to be better for me. I want it to be better so that I don’t have to walk down a street covered in Cow Shit. So that I can contemplate the meaning of life in an air-conditioned room without having to suffer through a power cut. Slum-dwellers in Dharavi be damned. The Road to Hell, and a place called Pre-1991 India is paved with Good Intentions. Socialism is all about Good Intentions. You want to eliminate those slum-dwellers? Well then stop denouncing your country and scaring foreign investors away. Stop scaring the Indian Diaspora away. Try showing them that good things can happen in your country. Bring them back (along with their nice fat wallets). And eventually, the change will come. It has already begun.

What needs to be done is obvious. But it is difficult. It is obviously easier to progress to the level where the slum-dweller can afford a TV, than to drag HIM (or her :-p) out of that slum. Duh. But that is what comes next. Or were we all hoping to wake up one day and magically find our country transformed, with butterflies flying by while the rainbow’s on the horizon…..?


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