Thoughts on economics and liberty

Indrajit Barua – a liberal from Assam – passed away last year

Yesterday I was thinking of connecting someone from Assam with Indrajit Barua. Before I sent off my email to Indrajit, I decided to have a quick look at the internet to find any update about his current activities.

It was a very sad occasion when I learnt that Indrajit Barua passed away in June last year. Screenhot from here:

With his passing away, Assam has lost perhaps the only genuine liberal voice it had for the past seventy years.

Assam has long remained a socialist backwater of the world. From a relatively well-off condition at the time of India’s independence, it quickly dived to the bottom – pretty much like West Bengal. The socialists destroyed it as thoroughly as they could. And blamed Delhi for doing that, even as they pocketed vast amounts of corrupt wealth.

Indrajit was radically different from the socialists. He understood markets and Milton Friedman, and did not mince words about the mess created by the socialists. He was a prolific writer and published articles with a liberal viewpoint in major Assam newspapers. It would be really good if someone could compile his writings into a book.

Indrajit was a very good friend. I spent many evenings with him – mostly at his Jorpukhuri home. I met him most times when I visited Guwahati from the districts. And even when I was in Guwahati, at least till the early-1990s. We discussed Assam’s progress and policies. He led an AASU team in 1990 when I was DC Barpeta to study the Bangladeshi illegal immigration problem. I’ve reported on my findings separately.

Of course, he is best known for his work in the Assam agitation, where he was one of the most influential leaders of Assam. No history of Assam can be written without recognising his influential work in the Assam agitation. He was effectively the brain behind the student union, AASU.

I last met him at his home in February 2010 (I’ve not visited Assam since then – a visit that’s now long overdue). By 2010 he was beginning to become frail, although he was only in his mid-70s. Ms. Barua was a gracious hostess. And I spent a month travelling to various corners of Delhi with Bhaity, Indrajit’s son, as part of a survey of small business. That was the time I already fed up with the IAS and was considering resigning in order to set up a small business in Assam. But then I went first to Australia, then to the USA, and my plans changed.

I continued to correspond with Indrajit sporadically after I left India. Indrajit was not internet savvy and was not active on email or on Facebook. He did try to get me connected to some people in Assam (whom I had known earlier but had lost touch) as we were launching the Sone Ki Chidiya movement, but nothing came out of it.

While Indrajit did not directly engage in politics or launch any political front, his work must not be forgotten – for these few liberals of India in the post-independence era showed many Indians (including me) the light of reason at a time when socialist obfuscation was the norm.


Indrajit Barua’s death was headline news in Assam:


Sanjeev Sabhlok

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