Thoughts on economics and liberty

My peeve against intellectuals, officials and businessmen in India

By 2000 I had developed a strong aversion (better expressed as ghrina: sense of detestation or disgust) towards most officials and businessmen in India who are mere stooges of corrupt politicians. Not from them can one expect to get a good country to bring up one's children, for they are all going in only one direction: money making through corrupt means (or, at best, conniving with the corrupt).

But even as my faith in officials and businesses declined precipitously, I retained some faith in public intellectuals. However, by 2005 I had begun to develop a strong ghrina even towards intellectuals. I have since decided that most 'elites' of India are not worth listening to since they talk a lot but do nothing. Worse, they consort with the corrupt and take pride in such dalliances.

Indeed, India is flooded with 'advisors' today – a dozen of them clustering on top of each rupee coin ('rupee a dozen'). They cluster particularly around policy makers like bees around honey; they write articles and publish books, but they only have lame excuses to make to avoid entering active politics. That would not be so bad if they did not then go out of their way to consort with corrupt politicians.

Many Indian intellectuals tend to be stooges with absolutely no self-respect. They seek audiences with corrupt politicians, they accept awards from them, get photographed with them. They suck up to the corrupt to form part of committees established by governments. Never during this whole process is any tough question asked, never the thunder of public challenge issued. What they should do each time any Minister approaches them for anything is to demand a declaration of assets, a declaration of certified accounts of his elections – and of his party, and spit hard (metaphorically speaking, of course!) on any politician who doesn't prove his or her honesty. You want my advice: first show me you are worthy of my advice. But they don't! You'll find them rolling out the red carpet for corrupt politicians every day.

Therefore I now prefer to spend my time talking only to simple citizen-doers who are untainted by a desire to run around corrupt politicians. Particularly on FTI we should avoid mixing with idle intellectuals who carp and criticise but refuse to undertake any action as citizens.

Liberty did not advance in its early years (17th and 18th centuries) through those who only wrote books (which is always a necessary accompaniment), but by those who actually participated in politics. From Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Milton, Burke, Jefferson, to Paine and beyond, about 80 per cent of the initial impetus to freedom came from doers – liberals who recognised their obligations to society and humanity. It is only in the 20th century that liberals seem to have stopped leading politically in the West and limited themselves to writing books or novels. That might be acceptable in the West but it certainly is not in India, where even rudimentary advances in freedom have yet to be made.

Let's hope Indian liberals are made of sterner stuff than most Indian public intellectuals and will step forward to defend their and their fellow countrymens' liberty – by joining the Freedom Team.

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