Thoughts on economics and liberty

Tag: Some early writings

Good governance

In 1998-99 I started a handful of articles/ academic papers which I never got to progress, having come down with the most acute case of RSI. I accidentally came across some of these old writings a moment ago. Some of these papers are over 14000 words long and not suitable for a blog post. But a few short ones might be OK for a blog.

This one, on good governance, is a preliminary paper of 1999. Some of this material has flowed into BFN. The rest remains unexplored/unpublished. 

=== DRAFT ARTICLE WRITTEN IN MAY 1999 ====

Introduction

The demand for good governance is voiced  across the country, but few have stated explicitly the fundamental changes it will take to arrive at this objective. We have dug our head into the sand regarding the analysis of the fundamental deficiencies in our democracy, and this is now beginning to take a heavy toll on our daily lives. I will touch upon four issues here which I believe are fundamental problems of our system needing to be addressed urgently.

Four Issues

1. Democracy costs a lot of money

Democracy does not come for free. Enormous expenses are incurred both in the organisation of elections by the Election Commission and in contesting elections by candidates. Whereas the first of these easily runs to many hundreds of crores per general election, and has our sanction as a citizenry, we seem to balk at considering the likelihood of candidates spending similar sums of money. We have not only imposed limits on electoral expenses, which are flouted blatantly by candidates, but we have also kept no relationship between the expenses incurred in election by candidates and the remuneration received after elections by the successful ones. The limit of expenditure in a Parliamentary Election is now Rs. 15 lakhs, a number of reports — informal as well as formal — prove that candidates spend on average well over Rs. 1 crore (for example, see pp. 272-278, pp.296-298 of The Black Economy of India by Arun Kumar, Penguin, 1999). At the end of this process in which one out of many are elected, the take-home pay of the successful representative, a Member of Parliament, is Rs.4,000 per month (details in Annexure I, including why other expenses are not part of this take-home pay). Clearly in this process there would be some who wish to provide charity to us citizens by spending their own money with no thought of returns, but on the whole, the main category of persons who enter this absurd process are those who have no compunction about misusing their elected office to capture rents from the Government machinery to recover their heavy investment . In not-so-polite language, we can say without fear of being rebutted that a vast majority have come into public office with the primary objective of looting the system. The N.N. Vohra Committee report on the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and criminals including the Mafia is as explicit a statement of fact as any one can get from within the system. “In certain states … these gangs enjoy the patronage of local level politicians, cutting across party lines and the protection of  government functionaries.”  Democracies do not run on charity and we should not be depend as citizens on the good will of a few charitable souls who spend their own money in order to ‘serve’ us. Our representatives must not have to depend on loot and black money for their sustenance.

To make matters worse, the Election Commission of India prevents debate on whatever expenses have been declared to it by political parties. The mystification of the basic processes of democracy is causing large scale corruption in India. It is the root cause of corruption and unless this is removed, no amount of economic liberalization will help.

In brief, the solution here is (a) to remove limits on electoral expenses but to insist on transparency, and (b) to drastically increase the take-home remuneration of MPs while completely eliminating their ‘perquisites’ except those that are necessary in the interest of security. 

2.         Transparency

The Official Secrets Act of 1923 talks about not disclosing secret official information which is likely to assist, directly or indirectly, an enemy or which relates to a matter the disclosure of which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State or friendly relations with foreign States. However, the system has made it a point to cite this Act each time any information which is relevant to the people is sought to be made available to them. This Act was designed for an imperial Government and not for a democratic India. There is no information in most departments of Government which is potent enough to affect the sovereignty or integrity of India in any way. India’s defence and security has been compromised by rampant corruption in the entire system. Transparency will help reduce corruption. That is a major priority. All information handled by the Government must be made accessible to citizens through the internet except in very rare cases. We also need statutory provisions to protect whistle blowers in the Government who bring to public notice the serious discrepancies that are occurring in their Departments. In April, 1997, the Conference of Chief Ministers on Effective and Responsive government recommended some of these steps. A bill on these lines is being brought to the Parliament soon, but mere information on demand will not do. Citizens will have to play an active role, and the internet will have to be fully used.

3.         Supervision of Government Machinery

We can skirt the micro-  issue of supervision of the government machinery at our own peril. In order to be truly representative, a democracy has to be designed to leave the control over, and superintendence of, governance, with the citizens at all times. India’s democracy does not meet this criterion principally because we have never explicitly enunciated or desired this control so far.

Under the current dispensation, we have a system of representing ourselves democratically at the highest level of governance. We give to ourselves a government every few years in order to carry out functions that we cannot perform ourselves as individuals. This representation is very thin, though. As a ratio, at the national level, one out of every twenty lakh people represents us. At the state level, this is slightly better, but still very thin. The actual structure of government is many tens of thousands of times larger than the number of representatives.

Our representatives are authorised to create laws and statutes by which we are to be governed. Some of these representatives are then empowered to execute these laws. We also expect the representatives to supervise — through the use of mechanisms such as government auditors and committees of the legislature — the actual implementation of these laws and the thousands of rules framed thereunder. Unfortunately, due to the way the system of supervision has been designed, most of the laws are violated fearlessly by the very same gargantuan governmental machinery which was designed to assist our representatives execute them. I believe that a vast majority of these violations are never even brought up to the notice of various committees of the Assembly or Parliament, and therefore, functionaries continue to violate laws with impunity.                              

Once the contentious process of framing laws is resolved democratically, each of us should resume to ourselves the power to verify that these laws and rules are being followed strictly. The Local Board that I envision would be attached to each local office of the government, such as each district library, each post office, each branch office of each public sector undertaking. Without having any power to legislate or to execute, its sole function would be to supervise the procedural aspects of functioning of the governmental organisation to which it is assigned. Voters of the city or village in which the office is located would be eligible to apply for membership of such Boards. A public drawing from among the eligible applicants would take place. Members of the Board would be authorised to inspect all records with due advance notice. Members would be responsible for pointing out errors of omission and commission in procedure to the concerned elected representatives and to the people directly through the press. They would, in addition, be invited to all statutory meetings, where they would act as observers, such as at the time of opening of sealed tenders.

            Local Boards will ensure that the fundamental control of our country’s governance vests with citizens at all times.  As part of the process of deepening and strengthening democracy in India, and as part of the package of reform of governance, such direct supervisory mechanisms need to be designed and implemented.

4.         Using the best technology 

By now India could have been be a powerhouse of technology. Instead, it is hobbling along using primitive technology in most cases. There is an urgent need to educate our government machinery about technology. Technology, by definition, is labour-saving. By enabling us to do many more things in the time available to us on this planet, technology — embodied in the latest discoveries and inventions, latest machines, the latest software, the latest management tools — multiplies the power of the labour that we possess, improves the quality of our life, and increases our life span by destroying disease. Its economic effect is seen through lower costs, such as in the case of USA where it costs 20 times less in real terms to produce a bushel of wheat today than it cost 150 years ago. Ayn Rand very aptly called machine “the frozen form of intelligence” (Atlas Shrugged,Part 3, Ch. 7).

This does not necessarily mean that the use of latest technology is optimal for each situation. In the case of private goods, the most labour-saving technology chosen — and the availability of this choice is of the essence — by a self-interested individual facing a personal budget constraint can be defined as optimal. If all technology, of all vintages, is freely available, then all individual decisions made in the marketplace of technology are optimal and thus appropriate, making the term appropriate technology tautological, merely representing free choice. It then does not possess meaningful content for a policy maker, leaving no scope to interfere with the forces of the market.

            For public goods, the choice of appropriate technology is not quite as obvious. It is difficult to choose between hand-made roads (labour-intensive) and machine-made roads, for example. Since social cost-benefit analyses have serious shortcomings, I suggest that human dignity, safety and standardisation of quality be considered in making these decisions.

Using manual labour for tasks such as collection of garbage in cities, cleaning public drains, breaking large stones into gravel and carrying bricks up bamboo scaffolds, is inhumane. These activities are almost always carried out without concern for the safety of the citizens involved. Since labour is cheap, the life of these temporary workers, often hired newly each day by contractors, is itself felt to be cheap, and little is heard of their injury, disease, and consequent lay-offs in government sponsored projects, except when a major accident takes place and tens of them are crushed to death here or there.

Machines provide dignity and also standardise quality. The construction of roads by machines leads to durable roads, permitting the use of larger trucks of higher quality to operate, reducing the cost of maintenance of roads as well as the cost of transportation of goods across the country.

As a very important spin-off, machines demand and indeed compel, the development of indigenous skills, both to handle them properly and to build and manage them. Vocationalisation of education will become meaningful if government insists that contractors employed by it should employ only licensed technicians empowered with the best tools.

Paradoxical though it may appear, societies which set incentives for the best technology generally enjoy a low rate of unemployment. The compulsion to use the best technology forces an entire society to become intellectually competitive over time. Competitive societies in turn overwhelm other countries with their exports and ability to lower costs internally. Japan did not become a great competitor on the foundation khadi and pot-holed roads.

Thus as a nation, only the world’s best technology is appropriate for us. We have to put an end to the annual sacrifice of thousands of citizens at the alter of our Temple of Low Standards. 

Conclusion

I have touched briefly upon some of what I thought were the more important issues relating to the strategy for improved governance. These are of course many more areas which deserve our urgent attention, and we must try to set aside time in our daily lives to look into these matters. For example, improved governance needs vast improvements in economic and social policy at the same time. These are vast topics in themselves and need further debate. As a matter of principle, a free democracy needs much more open debate and interaction in order that  its citizens understand the issues involved and to collectively act in order to bring about significant change in the lives of the common man. Bureaucrats are citizens first. They should come out and talk about what they have learned from their experience. 

STATEMENT SHOWING  THE SALARY, ALLOWANCE AND OTHER

FACILITIES ADMISSIBLE TO MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

 

S. NO. & ITEM

ADMISSIBILITY

TAKE HOME VALUE

1.

Salary

Rs. 4,000/- per month

Rs. 4,000/- per month

 

2.

Daily Allowance

 

Rs.400/- the MP have to sign the register except on holidays.

Zero. Given in lieu of expenditure on being out of their place of residence. Similar DA given to all government servants.

3.

Other Allowance

Constituency Allowance @ Rs. 8000/- per month and Office Expense  Allowance @ Rs.8,500/- per month, Out of which Rs.2,500/- should be for expenses on stationery etc. and Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha Secretariat may pay upto Rs. 6000/- per month to the person (s) engaged by the MP for obtaining secretarial assistance.

Zero. MPs are expected to incur miscellaneous expenses for their constitutency. In fact they probably spend more than this per month. The others are in lieu of actual expenses on PA/ stationary.

4

Telephone

1,00,000 free local calls per annum on both the telephones Delhi and Constituency residence pooled together. Trunk call bills adjusted within the monetary equivalent of the ceiling of 1,00,000 local calls per annum. Excess calls made over and above the quota allowed to be adjusted in the next years quota.

Zero. A necessity for MPs, just like similar entitlements to senior government functionaries.

5.

Housing

Rent free flats only (including hostel accommodation). If a Member is allotted bungalow at his request, he shall pay (a) Full normal rent if he is entitled to such accommodation; and (b) Full normal rent and a non-entitlement charge of Rs.500/- per month, if he is not so entitled.

Rent free furniture upto the monetary celling of Rs.24,000/- for durable furniture

and Rs.5,000/- for non-durable furniture.

Free Washing of sofa covers and curtains every 3 months.

Tiles in bathroom, kitchen wherever demanded by MP.

Zero. MP has to maintain his original establishment elsewhere. This is more like free hostel accommodation and you do not get to take it in cash, home.

6.

Water & Electricity

25,000 units of electricity per annum 12500 units each on Light/Power meters or pooled together Members who have no power meters installed are allowed 25000 units per annum on light meter and 2,000 kl. of water per annum beginning January every year.

Zero. Addition to above accommodation.

7

Medical

As available to Grade-I Officers of the Central Government under CGHS.

Zero. Govt. servants get similar facilities.

8.

Conveyance Advance

Rs.1,00,000/- on interest as applicable to the Central Government Employees recoverable within a maximum period of 5 years not extending beyond the tenure of MP.

Zero. Govt. servants get better facilities.

9.

Pension to ex-MPs

(i) Minimum pension of Rs.2,500/- per month for membership of 4 years and Rs.500/- per month for every year in excess of five without any maximum celling.

(ii) Pension to Members with two terms of Lok Sabha and to all the Members of Provisional Parliament (Constituent Assembly). Minimum Rs.2,500/- per  month.

(iii) (a) In case where the elections are not held due to unforseen  circumstances like weather conditions etc., such as in Ladakh in J&K and Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, such period should be counted towards their eligibility period for grant of pension.

      (b) Where in any General Elections held for the purpose of constituting of a new Lok Sabha, polls were delayed in any Parliamentary Constituency of any part thereof on account of terrorism, Insurgency or public order problem, the delayed period will count for pension purpose at the rate admissible under the law for the time being in force and from the date on whcih the dissolution of such House took place.

(iv) Ex-MPs pension allowed irrespective of any other pension without any upper limit on the aggregate.

This has a positive Net Present Value to be determined separately in each case.

10.

Pension to the spouse/ dependent of an MP dying in harness.

 

Rs. 1000/- per month for a period of 5 years from the date of death of MP, to the spouse, if any, or dependent.

Very small, almost like that given to Jawans. Best ignored.

11.

Travelling Allowance

RAIL     One 1st Class + One  II Class fare

 

AIR       One and one fourth air fare. Also air fare for one companion in case of a blind/physically incapacitated MP.

STEAMER One and 3/5th of the fare for highest class (without diet).

ROAD  (i) Rs 6/- per km (ii) Minimum Rs.120/- to/fro from Delhi airport and residence at Delhi. (iii) TA by rail or by road during session/committee meetings for to and fro journeys between usual place of residence/place of duty to the nearest airport even when the places are connected by rail. (iv) TA for air journey (s) during the short interval between two sittings of a Departmental related standing Committee during budget session recess, limited to one air fare + DA for the days of absence. (v) Also admissible for the journey by road by the spouse of a Member when not accompanying the Member.

Zero. No take home cash component. Govt. officers get similar facilities for official duty.

12.

Travelling Facility

(1) Railway pass for MP for travel in AC 1st Class or Executive Class of any Indian Railway. Spouse can also travel with MP in the same Class. If such journey or part thereof is undertaken by air from place other than usual place of residence of the Member to Delhi and back, to an amount equal to the fare by air for such journey or part thereof or the amount equal to the Journey performed by air from usual place of residence of the Member to Delhi and back whichever  is less.(ii) Companion can also travel with MP in AC II tier. (iii) To and fro air travel for the MP from Ladakh for Member and Spouse/companion. (iv) To and fro air travel facility for Member and spouse/companion between the Island and the main land. (v) Thirty-two single air journeys in a year from any place to any other place in India either alone or alongwith spouse or any number of companions or relatives within this ceiling. (vi) Steamer passes for highest class of steamer for MPs and spouse/companion  (without diet). (vii) To and fro air travel when the usual place of residence is inaccessible by rail, road or steamer, between the nearest place in his constituency where there is air service and the nearest place having rail service.

This has some value (only as far as spouse is concerned. MP is supposed to be doing official duties) depending on how much the spouse uses this. If spouse flies 10 times at an average of Rs. 5,000 each, it is worth Rs. 50,000 per year.

13.

Travelling facility to ex-MPs

Ex-MPs alongwith a companion are entitled to free AC two tier rail travel facility from any place to any other place in India, on the basis of an authorisation issued for this purpose by either Secretariat of Parliament as the case may be.

Part of pension benefit. Has “take home” value in some cases. Should be added to pension and included in NPV of pension.

 

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An autobiographical essay (1996)

I found this short essay (below) among my papers today. It may interest no one, but a blog is a place for one's own notes: matters which interest me, whether they matter to others or not.

This 1996 essay interests me on two grounds: (a) I cite Schumacher as an influence, which is no longer true, and (b) I was reminded that since 1990 I had worked towards a manifesto for a political party to be launched in Assam.

My disillusionment with existing political parties had clearly started by then, and I was looking for solution: what would a good party do was the question I asked. If I find a copy of that initial manifesto of 1990, I'll put it up on my blog for whatever it is worth! Just memories to me, if nothing else.

In any event, that thought – of writing a manifesto – re-emerged in 1998 and led to the Victory of India Party and then to the India Policy Institute. This essay also reminded me that I never budged from my early aim (since about 15, I think) to be philosophically self-sufficient and to lead life the way I see fit.

There is a conflicting element in this essay: so, why was I preparing a manifesto in 1990 if I did not intend to join real politics (as I wrote in the essay)? I suspect I was not sure of my goals then; these things take time to evolve. But by February 1998, I had no doubt that I should join active politics, in a systematic manner. That aim remains good even today: though I had a setback in 2005, and I am only now recovering my interest in this goal, again.

Sanjeev, 7 Jan 2009

==
ITEM 14. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY

(submitted as part of an application for the USC College of Arts and Sciences Pre-doctoral Merit University Fellowship on 22 January 1996)

My family background has been relatively exceptional in terms of Indian norms. Though my parents are Hindus, they are extremely liberal, and did not interfere in my attempts to determine my own opinions through a vast reading of Western and Indian philosophy from the age of 12. Despite not being too well off, my father encouraged me to purchase any amount of second-hand books that I could lay my hands on. When I declared at 13 that I was not a Hindu, and began to offer various proofs of my atheistic contentions, I was not curbed in my expression of dissent. I have considered humanism as my religion since the age of 16. Later, I worked out stern ethical principles for my own reference, and attempted to write a book on philosophy at the age of 19. The book is far from completion (a hand-written 3000-page first draft was penned down in 1979-81), but the two years of work put into it opened my eyes to the complexity of issues involved, and enabled me to leap headlong into public service from the age of 22 with a determination to do something positive for my fellow human beings who were relatively under-privileged. Voltaire, Bertrand Russell, R.W.Emerson, Vivekananda, M.K.Gandhi and E.F. Schumacher have been some of the key influences in my intellectual development. In many ways I therefore represent a modern, liberal, independently thinking human being who could be found anywhere on the globe.

Today, I am thirty-six years old – an age when it is rather uncommon, at least in India, to be reverting to university education for one’s personal development. I have extensive financial pressures living in USA, which will get worse as both my wife and I attempt to complete a Ph.D. degree here. The salary back home will stop in August, 1996, as I move to extra-ordinary leave, and there will be a steep drop in funding available to my wife. I also have important commitments of time to my family with two children – with a daughter being born only 25 days ago, on the 29th of December, 1995. It was therefore definitely not necessary for me to have returned to higher study, or, having taken a break of two years to study for a Masters degree, to attempt a Ph.D. program. Back home, the challenging job, power, prestige, large house, servants, chauffeur driven cars, and other perquisites, are sufficient to prevent most IAS officers from leaving India for a student life. In terms of job satisfaction, also, my work was very fulfilling. But by 1989, I had began to realize that personal hard work and dedication were of not much avail if economic policies were “defective” in the first place. This meant a re-consideration of many of the economic premises which I functioned under.

It would be necessary to mention in this context that I have always taken a deep interest in politics. I have seen the political system at very close quarters in India and I believe that ultimately I must contribute to its betterment. Since 1990, I have been preparing a draft manifesto for the launch of a new political party in Assam along with a few active friends. But I soon realized that it is very difficult to work out a set of consistent humanitarian policies for political action, in the absence of immense knowledge of economics. In 1993, therefore, I considered the necessity of a trip to a good university in USA to fill up these gaps in my knowledge and thinking. I have not reached anywhere near the level of confidence I think I need to begin to sort out the issues involved. Hence the need to go beyond the Masters degree. I must state here that I have no intentions of joining active politics, however. My interest remains purely academic and intellectual – at the policy level.

The overall style of my life is therefore moving, as I planned it, in the direction of participation in events of real life, while retaining sufficient distance from them, to be able to look back and deliberate on the broader issues of life and philosophy. I would be happiest as a writer of normative philosophy and economic policy. I would like to be able to sit back and write on issues which I believe are of long-term interest to human beings everywhere. A Ph.D. degree in Economics would be just the right thing for my vision to be established on sound academic principles.

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Why socialism can’t work for India

While searching for some data from my old records, I found this draft article on socialism in one of my early 'computer writings'. Never attempted publication. It is dated 25 October 1992, when I was studying in Curtin University. I’ve made no attempt to edit it or polish it up except to get rid of a couple of obvious spelling errors using Word. It was a draft anyway. Also, a wide range of my writings on policy are found at the IPI archives at https://www.sabhlokcity.com/lists/india_policy/search.html (1998-2001). Sanjeev 22 Feb 07.

In 1977 (check) India passed the amendment to the Constitution, making India a socialist republic. Practically from the time of our independence we have followed socialistic practices, though in a less draconian manner than the true socialistic countries.

But in each and every endeavour where we have applied the tenets of socialism, we have failed. The ruinous public sector, instead of reaching the commanding heights of the economy, actually reached all the depressing depths which could possibly be conjectured. They sank like a heavy anchor into the depths of losses and have almost pulled the entire ship of India along with them to disaster.

The bureaucracy, given a cosmetic facelift (by browning its face and calling it the IAS and allied services), was expected to maintain its trust-worthiness and hard-working spirit to help the country achieve its socialistic goals. Bureaucrats got busy in creating more and more wasteful programmes, arrogating to themselves the entire wisdom of the Indian people and recruiting more and more lowly qualified and politically supported people into government. Their fundamental premise was that the businessman who can produce is an enemy of the people, since he may become rich. There could perhaps be no greater crime in their eyes than a person becoming rich. They wanted to be the richest of all themselves. After the ministers, perhaps. So all kinds of laws and rules were invented in the name of socialism to curb production, both in the private and in the public sectors. The net result was an unprecedented increase in corruption. Almost everything that has been created by governments in the past forty-five years has bred corruption. And ever-increasing innovations have been made in this field of "knowledge".

By attempting to do everything itself, while at the same time aggrandising itself, the bureaucracy (including its lowest rungs), effectively became anti-socialistic: look at the practice of having a large bunch of peons both in the office and at home: bureaucrats love servants. And servants are often treated as inhumanly as can be expected in the old-fashioned Marxian capitalistic societies where the bourgeoisie discriminates against the working classes. Even feudalism is perhaps better. We should modify our Constitution to state that we have socialistic republic for the ruling class and feudalism for the poor. Could no one get rid of the system of peons in the past forty five years of socialism? What kind of society are we trying to achieve? Where one human being has to serve the petty needs of another human being? Will that be termed a civilised society? And at the same time this is a system which destroys the productivity of a large body of people. What, after all, does a peon produce? Does a peon's work go into the GDP of a country? Is a peon efficient? Why cannot the "officers" clean their rooms, and carry their files and briefcases? If at all someone is required to be provided, perhaps he can be a common office boy, rather than a personalised peon.

Thus much of the "respect" given to working classes is hypocritical. In a so-called capitalistic developed country such as Australia, on the other hand, one is forced to respect the working classes. All kinds of blue collared workers work with sophisticated machines which increase their output nearly thirty to forty times of that of an average Indian worker. Even sweepers sweep the roads with special machines which blow the dirt to particular areas from where it is removed.

Consider the garbage lifter. Each household is provided with a large plastic black bin with a cover, which is supposed to be filled up with the garbage of the house. This garbage bin is kept in a particular place outside the house, where a garbage collector can reach and collect. The garbage collector comes in a huge truck fitted with complicated mechanical devices, and picks up the garbage bin with the machine and empties it without touching the bin at all, before putting the bin back, with the help of the machine, to its original place. This garbage collector performs his work at an amazing pace, and one such garbage collector with his machines would be able to pick up the garbage of more than one thousand households in a given day.

Then there is an employee who waters the public lawns. Now, there are a huge number of public lawns, and since Perth has almost no rain in its very hot summer (where temperatures reach nearly 50 degrees centigrade), there would be no possibility of grass growing on the lawns unless there were special machines which are available for this purpose. And so there are. One "gardener" or "lawn-engineer", as I see him, is capable of watering huge bodies of lawns, and mowing them too, with his machine, yielding an output which exceeds by over ten thousand times the efficiency of an average Indian gardener. Keeping a city of the size of Perth clean would require thousands of employees if it were located in India, but it takes surprisingly few employees to keep it the cleanest city in the world (Perth has won many international shields as the cleanest city of the world).

These workers are paid at very high rates, and often the manual worker earns more than his white-collared counterpart. Does that mean that Australia is more socialistic than India? After all, the main purpose of uplifting the working classes to the level of the bourgeoisie has been achieved here. Further, social security offers huge benefits for unemployment, and disability.

So what is this illusive socialism that we are running after, so hypocritically? Can we not be honest with ourselves now at least, after the great fall of the Humpty Dumpty (USSR)? What do we need this futile stupidity called socialism for? To produce more clerks and servants for our pampered ruling classes? To create public sector undertakings whose raison d'atre to exist is the amount of money the politicians can make from them? To have electricity undertakings which provide power only to the chosen few, and a great amount of illegal money to its officials? What has socialism done for us except to impoverish us both physically and mentally?

India exported two percent of the entire world's exports in 1947, but today we export only one half of one percent of the world exports. We had Nobel Prize winners even in Physics in the first half of the century. Now we are incapable of even mimicking the Nobel Prize winners in science, not to talk of achieving a Nobel Prize of our own. We did somewhat well in the Olympics in the first half of the century, but now we are reduced to the most pathetic position which even the worst enemies of India could not have imagined for India. We have been made almost impotent in the world stage. This great country, with great people, and great potential – ruined, corrupted and destroyed – all by itself, internally. By socialism. The scourge of mankind. The diseased look at human beings. We even lost our sense of human decency, and allied with the terrible empire of the Soviets which systematically got rid of its best people, and we did not condemn its shoddy trampling over human rights as done by Stalin.

We have become afraid. I am sure that is not what Gandhiji wanted us to become. We have to reaffirm our capacity as a great
people; we have to regain our self-confidence and hew a great country once again from start: only, this time we are in a worse position relative to the world than we were in 1947. We have lost forty five years in stupidity. Let us learn from our blunders and at least now think of the tasks before us.

There is no alternative to capitalism.

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