10th February 2012
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.