Thoughts on economics and liberty

Gurcharan Das’s advice continues to be relevant

Despite a few (minor) differences with Gurcharan's worldview, he is the Indian public intellectual whom I respect the most. Each time I visit India I make it a point to meet him, and luckily he is around later this month, just in time to catch up before I return to Australia. We generally go for a walk in the nearby gardens, an activity that provides both a mental and physical workout.

Here's an extract from his recent excellent advice:

The past twenty years of capitalist growth have made India one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The contrast between a successful private economy and a weak, public order has led to the impression that India might be able to manage without a strong state. But markets do not work in a vacuum. They need a network of regulations and regulators to enforce them. 

A ‘strong state’ usually carries a bad odour, conjuring up authoritarian images of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. A ‘liberal, strong state’ is, however, not oppressive. It is efficient, enabling and tough against law-breakers. It punishes the corrupt swiftly. But it also protects liberties and dissent and enjoys legitimacy among the governed. A strong civil society is needed to hold such a state accountable. More than ever, Indians today need to make a liberal case for such a strong state. 

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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4 thoughts on “Gurcharan Das’s advice continues to be relevant
  1. Polevaulter Donkeyman

    A ‘liberal, strong state’ is, however, not oppressive. It is efficient, enabling and tough against law-breakers. It punishes the corrupt swiftly. But it also protects liberties and dissent and enjoys legitimacy among the governed.
     
    I am not against a state that is efficient and tough against law-breakers. The problem is what prevents the state from ever expanding into newer areas, that are served better by the free market. Mr. Das has not propounded (in this piece atleast) any limiting principle governing the size of the state. One should remember the "stronger" the state, the more is its temptation to interfere in everything (cf. Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China and even New Deal America)

     
  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    “Mr. Das has not propounded (in this piece atleast) any limiting principle” – he has, in his many other works.

     

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