Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

‘Emerging India’ – The Same Old Story…

If you live in a country long enough, you observe qualities about its people, administration, culture, economics and the kind of life it offers. It is hard for any Indian to miss a certain predominant characteristic about their homeland: glaring contradiction. Technically, ‘contradiction’ is not a characteristic, but an identification of a particular kind of relation between different qualities. Nevertheless, as a concept it serves well to identify the haphazard mix of opposing and contrasting forces that are at play in this nation. At one level its leaders miss no opportunity to present it as an emerging superpower, at another level it has a poverty count comparable to sub-Saharan Africa; at one level there is talk of brilliant minds, at another level it presents a hollow education structure topped by a largely defunct university system; a concern in limited pockets about justice and the rule of law is mocked openly by vast tracts of utter lawlessness; an emerging business district flaunting promising towers of glass and concrete (read Gurgaon) stands at the end of unkempt, rickety roads strewn with potholes – one could go on, but it is not a very agreeable prospect.

Perhaps this is why it doesn’t come as a very remarkable surprise to anybody when they read a news item that says that Rs 204 crore of taxpayers’ money per annum has been feeding over 22,000 bogus employees in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). An American would probably be shocked at the apathy with which such a news item is received. Of course, a system of unearned benefits is a long running tradition in India, courtesy its socialist background, and every time someone makes an attempt to overhaul such a structure, vehement protests follow (try removing any class from the ‘scheduled caste’ category).

The only way principled consistency can combine with sustained progress in India is if it accepts the principles of individual rights, rule of law and limited government, and its administration works sincerely to put these principles into practice. If this happened, one would not confront such a piece of news ever again.

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