Someone shared with me the following article: Lessons from Gurgaon, India’s
private city by Shruti Rajagopalan and Alexander Tabarrok.
I was seriously disappointed with the article.
I’m used to Alex Taborrok’s promotion of corruption and crony capitalism (e.g. see my post here), but this article promotes both corruption/crony capitalism AND coercive acquisition of land for private purposes (i.e. acquisition of property at gun point).
The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 allows the federal and state governments to acquire land through the power of eminent domain for ‘any public purpose or for a company’ under Section 4(1). Similar provisions exist in the recently introduced Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Likewise, a private company is exempt from the restrictions of the Land Acquisition Act and permitted to acquire land if licensed by the state government. In Haryana, the legislature passed several laws to enable large-scale land acquisition for private firms to develop townships.
It is surprising that the coercive and crony capitalist nature of the land acquisition process has been glossed over in this article. The SUPER-CORRUPT Haryana Urban Development Authority is praised for its “single window clearance”.
Land acquisition for PRIVATE use is theft of property from one citizen for the private benefit of another. It is the complete opposite of voluntarism and markets, of private enterprise, of Coasean bargains.
And in this nightmare of MEGA-corruption and theft of public property, there is some “development” in Gurgaon.
So now it is called a “private city!”
What a complete distortion of the meaning of the term.
I will, separately, put out some findings/ thoughts in relation to private cities, but for now I want to make clear that Gurgaon IS NOT A PRIVATE CITY. Gurgaon is the outcome of an extremely coercive socialist and crony captalist state. A state that fails to perform fundamental functions including the defence of property rights.
I have a long and very old relationship with Gurgaon, having first visited it in the 1960s when I was a child and the place was little more than a village. I spent some time in Gurgaon in the early 1980s when I was Assistant Commissioner in Haryana, visiting various parts of the district. My father owns a small property in Gurgaon since the early 1990s and I have visited it on innumerable occasions.
I know precisely how Gurgaon works.
And it is NOT a private city in any sense of the word. Let’s be very clear about that.
Jamshedpur, however, started out as a genuine private city.
But a real private city would be something on the lines being attempted in Honduras by Michael Strong. It would have a set of complete and functional institutions that work.