Thoughts on economics and liberty

What Would I Do If I Became India’s Prime Minister? #1

The other day, a globally admired Indian business personality came to Melbourne [I have since disclosed that this personality was the well-known Narayana Murthy who talks big but DOES NOT puts his money where his mouth is]. I knew this person had expressed considerable frustration with the Indian political and bureaucratic system. I asked this person after his speech whether he had any plan for India to move in the direction he visualized. On his replying he had one, I asked him to outline it for the benefit of the audience but he parried my request. I later wrote to him but got no response. Either there was no plan, or if there was one, it was a well-guarded secret.

I mention this incident to suggest that we need to get out of our chronic habit of criticizing without taking action. We need to outline our preferred methods which will bring about the change we want. We need to spell out our proposals in sufficient detail and share them with everyone else. Then we must engage in an open discussion; there is not much point in marking our proposals ‘top-secret’ and locking them up in a safe. This chapter is my blueprint to unleash India.It is my resistance to the cult of mediocrity and corruption foisted on us by Nehruvian socialism. Contrary to all appearances, I do not claim special wisdom. All I ask is that my plan be considered with an open and critical mind, just as I would examine similar plans from you and others. While examining our plans in this manner, we could ask questions, such as the following, to ensure that we are on the right track; in particular that we are all aspiring for freedom and not some dangerous thing like equality:
  • Will the implementation of our plans enhance the levels of freedom and its obverse, justice, in India?
  • Will our plans help us in creating a government that is not only efficient and effective but also fully accountable?
  • Will our plans encourage us, the citizens, to take responsibility for ourselves and to stop depending for everything on the government?
My blueprint requires 70 per cent of the reform to be led by high-quality political representatives and the remaining 30 per cent by a dramatically improved bureaucracy. Of course, nothing will happen without people like you getting actively involved and providing the mandate as well as the leadershipIndia needs. The immediate purpose of this book is therefore to make you a leader; nothing less than that can work. If you too hide behind the bush, as have millions of others before you since 1947, then India isn’t going anywhere far – I can assure you of that! 
This chapter is structured around a super-sized thought experiment which asks: what would I do if I became India’s Prime Minister? Such a thought-experiment is familiar to many of us from school days when we wrote essays on such grandiose themes. But adults don’t write essays of this sort, wary of being perceived as arrogant. This hesitation to start from the top, by looking at the big picture and working one’s way down to the detail, is unfortunate. Anyway, for whatever it is worth, here is my plan.
To be continued
[Note: This is an extract from my book, Breaking Free of Nehru]
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