West indian people

What people really want: The Tribune India


Arun Maira


Former Member, Planning Commission

Hindu majority votes have changed little after divisive events, political strategist Prashant Kishor notes, such as the razing of the Babri Masjid and the Gujarat riots in 2002. Their choices of governments are based on other issues. The opposition to Prime Minister Modi should realize this and focus on what matters to the vast majority of Indian citizens, regardless of religion or caste, as should the government. One is the state of the economy. The other is the erosion of social values.

The time has come for a national dialogue to create a new vision for [email protected] and find out who ‘we’ are.

Insufficient income is the most important concern for 90% of Indian citizens, beyond religions and castes. Over the past 30 years, the UPA and NDA governments have focused on increasing the size of GDP. In 2022 India is again the “fastest growing free market democracy” as it was under the UPA regime. However, no government has solved the problems of “jobless” growth and growing inequality. Rather than wringing their hands over religious divisions, liberals should change their ideas about economic management. India’s economic strategies are the same as those of the United States and Western countries (the Washington Consensus) where liberalism is also threatened by anti-liberal political movements.

The objective of India’s economic policies must be to significantly improve the standard of living of ordinary citizens alongside economic growth. Economists say the problem with India’s economy is the large size of its “informal sector”, which constitutes more than 90% of India’s economy. They would much rather see small businesses being large and the informal sector being formalized quickly. However, their solution of locating big companies here and there, with attractive incentives, will not create jobs. The right solution is to help small businesses grow. They generate more jobs with less capital. Moreover, they are scattered across the country in both urban and rural areas. Their dissemination and growth will create large-scale jobs.

Each entity has the right form to survive and grow in its conditions. It is a natural law. Policy makers are biased against ‘informality’. They think the informal is messy, inefficient and difficult to manage. They would much rather see small businesses adopt the form of large industrial enterprises. Industrial managers would prefer plantations with only tall timber trees in rows. They are easier to count and manage, and the forest is more “productive” in terms of wood produced per acre than an organic forest with a mix of shrub and tree varieties. However, a “formal” industrial forest also needs industrial inputs for its sustainability (which also harm the environment), while the “informal” organic forest is able to sustain itself. Similarly, those responsible for economic policy prefer that all entities have the form they deem best, to facilitate their monitoring, but also to facilitate their allocation of resources (financing, training, etc.). However, this undermines the viability of small businesses and keeps the economy trapped in a “capital-intensive, low-employment” mode of growth.

Social liberals and social conservatives have different views on a good society. For liberals, the rights of individuals to choose their own way of life are paramount, be it the vocations they choose, the way they dress or their sexual preferences. Conservatives value conformity to traditions and societal norms. Hindu liberals hold different views than Hindu conservatives, as do Muslim liberals and conservatives.

Cultural psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains in The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion that the existential question for liberals, whose moral codes are individualistic, is “Who am I?” Whereas for conservatives, with socio-centric moral codes, the question is “Who are we?” He says both uphold the universal principles of “fairness” and “do no harm”. But the Conservatives go further. They also value “loyalty” and “respect for authority”, values ​​necessary for the stability of societies. For liberals, ‘traditions’ and ‘faith’, which bring comfort in uncertainty, are regressive values. Some liberal leaders in the United States have insulted conservative citizens, calling them “scum” and “deplorable.” In India, many liberals who prefer to see the world through Western acquired lenses, dismiss conservative Indians as “unscientific” and stuck in the past.

Twenty years ago, some Indian business leaders created a vision for [email protected] with a strategy to get there. Independent India is now 75 years old and the vision is not realized. India’s rulers cannot be blamed for not having lofty goals, such as our “rendezvous with fate” in 1947, and the goals of all our five-year plans. Or doubling farmers’ incomes, Bharat without hunger, universal education, jobs for all, etc. We failed to reach most of them.

Albert Einstein said, continuing with the same methods when they haven’t produced the results you want is madness because the methods can be the cause of the problems you want to solve. We need a new way to grow the economy to make growth fairer and more environmentally sustainable. We also need a new way to reach agreements on the shape of the society we want to create and how we will govern ourselves democratically.

The Indians are in search of the soul of their country. They will not find it in the written histories of India. India’s geographical boundaries have changed throughout history, as have the contours of who ‘we’ are. The Congress at the Udaipur Nav Sankalp called on all to follow the principles of Bharatiyata. The PM says our languages ​​are the soul of Bharatiyata.

The citizens of Bharat speak several languages; they have different stories. Caste divisions are acute. Economic inequalities are increasing. The formal and the informal live in different worlds. We must come out of our partisan affiliations and identities, and our self-righteousness, to listen to people who are not like us. The time has come for a national dialogue to create a new vision for [email protected] and find out who ‘we’ are.


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