More Stories

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

India needs an attitude adjustment towards sports and the medals will follow


Sports itself is not the reward

In India, it’s either celebration at winning, or cynicism at losing. This is the short description of how India sees sports. Since the interest is related to general pride and not an ingrained sports culture, the interest is fleeting and fizzles out soon. No medal and the entire system is under the scanner, but then you get a few medals, and all is forgiven. There’s no real intent of improving the sports in the country.

Physical excellence not the focus

Though cricket has evolved into an extremely competitive professional sport, at it’s core it’s a team sport, driven by strategy and numbers. However athletics events at Olympics are more inclined towards physical excellence. Pure fitness has never been a focus in India. Since sports is not a natural ingredient of upbringing, parents view sports from the point of ‘Return on Investment’ and it never qualifies as a viable career option.

Sports bodies not pro-player

If red-tapism and babudom is a disease in Indian administration, then sports bodies are not free of it. Sports bodies attract so many politicians because it’s a free power and money buffet, all sans accountability. The entire approach of sports administration is not pro-player. The sports person is never the top priority. Since the approach is not human centric, it’s inefficient at cultivating talent.

Let’s stop blaming cricket

Cricket sells because it’s a good product. Putting guilt on cricket fans to watch other non-cricket sports is not the solution. The solution however is selling non-cricket sports well to fans. Simplest example to understand this is how Ranji cricket still fails at attracting crowds, being just one rung below international cricket, whereas IPL has created a dedicated fan following right from the start. IPL is a more complete entertainment product and it’s thriving.

Sports economy needs fixing

Money does become the bottom line eventually, for the players and the organizers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can’t keep a sport alive on government grants. Sports economy needs to be fixed. If money has to be earned, then create a great product, make the human resource (the athlete) the top focus; such attempts have been made with Kabaddi and Football. Athletics can be promoted the same way; success at Olympics will be the natural progression then.

Written by Ishaan Mohan Bagga

Political Analyst. Social Visionary. Editorial Journalist. Founder of open-magazine Indian Exponent.

Follow him on twitter @IshaanMohan

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Where Light Ends, Where Darkness Begins: Kashmir, JNU And Everything Else


Long before Twitterati and its social cousins went berzerk over JNU and its offsprings - long before they butchered the words and methods of Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid - long before when JNU was considered to be the embodiment of social cultivation rather being investigated as a hive of breeding terrorists and anti-nationals as it is now - I visited  the JNU campus and instantaneously fell in love with the environment it offered.

The semblance of some places is quite welcoming and one cannot resist succumbing to their charm. Colonized by the down to earth populous - the mammoth thoughts of which travel throughout the campus - incorporated in words and reflected in varying facets - from loud discussions to murmurs - this very congregation of intellects accounts for the soul of the scholarly hub. Seat yourself at any of the eating joints that inhabit the 'tea-point' and perk up your hearing senses   - and with the passing of time, you will realize that most of the crowd around you is drowned in conversations related to socio-politico issues - seldom cinema and its artistic virtues - but never the regular chit chat. It may sound monotonous to the readers but the truth is that whenever I was about to bid adieu to the place - it always seemed to occur to me - that if and only if I sat there listening to whatever discussions that were transpiring around me - for some more time - just some more - then I could actually attain a form of enlightenment. It would not be wrong to term the place as the 'Bodh Gaya' of our generation.

But I am pretty much sure, that no matter how much I like JNU, there shall always exist people with contradicting views, who harbor cutthroat hatred to counter attack my views - in any form - immense or minuscule. For instance, once I was leisuring around the campus along with an acquaintance of mine who was accompanied by this - self-proclaimed - 'Godman'. He was keenly observant of the beings around and kept making notes of their views only to proclaim after a while that since JNU students thrive on the tax payer's money, hence they blatantly display - lack of respect for the Government, society, and even studies - he added - that if they had been students of private universities - the likes of which are spread in abundance along the Delhi-Noida belt - then they would have had been more faithful towards their studies and other issues, since they would have had exhausted lakhs from their own bank accounts. And dear readers, sometimes it is best not to withdraw yourself in a cheap argument with a person who lives in Greater Noida and claims that Narendra Modi visits him regularly for advice that shall help him profit in his political career.

With that put forth, let us steer towards the current course of issues that have been so tangled in twists created by the media and people themselves, that it has become quite hard to sort everything out. Kashmir is one burning soul and there is no pride in denying it. I don't support Burhan Wani nor do I criticize his encounter by the Indian army - what I condemn from the bottom of my heart is the bullying of people of the likes of Umar and Shehla who tend to exercise their right to freedom of speech and expression over and over again - only to realize that in this nation of ours - the terms 'speech' and 'expression' in their righteous form are actually notions that are not meant to clash with the mindset of the majority - and if they do - then the one who imparts such ideas is outcasted and bullied to the extent of being termed as 'anti-national'. Truthfully, I know nothing of the plight of Kashmiris - I don't know of the atrocities that they have been inflicted with in the past, I know not of the horror that they are facing at the moment - all I know of, as a human, is that the barbaric violence  that is being imposed upon them by the Indian army cannot be justified. Not today, not tomorrow, not years later, never. For such actions are straightforward, a plain simple feat of modern-day Nazism. Having said this, am I too a counterpart of Umar or Shehla? Having raised my voice against India's erroneous ways, shall I be branded an 'anti-national' too?

The jargon they hurl at JNU's souls is blunt - but we can't withhold the fact that when our pledge and fidelity towards our nation is questioned then it is quite a severe ordeal to deal with. As I witnessed, as of yet - only the wholly biased are able to measure Kashmir's present scenario as either unconditionally right or completely wrong. These biased classes are composed of corrupt media personalities, politicians, and social media fanatics who update their status on Facebook, tweet their phony views and write open critical letters to their competitors - they are the miserable sorts who are brewing a war of their own - a word war of their own puny world where they can superficially regard themselves as the ones who are fighting for a cause. And all of this is occurring far away from the land of Kashmir - the heaven turned hell - where the events in questions are actually transpiring.

Are Kashmiris right or the Indian army? 

We can only make assumptions if we are aided by an unbiased approach - we can study the scenario and try to fit ourselves in either's shoes - try to witness the past and the future from their perspective only to sort out the chaotic present. But still, no matter how much we try, we will still be lost - for we will be able to single out a few rights and a few wrongs for the either side and then - we will be at a loss for being impartial leaves a little room to judge anyone. The fact is, it is hard to determine where the light ends and the darkness begins - even if we carefully tread along a path, only to determine - we will find ourselves in a zone where there is visibility but scarcely - that's where we get all glass eyed, that where everything gets muddled and that my fellow readers, shall forever be the case, when it comes to Kashmir.

But if mere expressions of views of a nation's individuals are considered to be poisonous enough for the society and if people, who have a set of beliefs that don't adhere to the opinions of the majority, are bullied then that's not a healthy society, that's grade school all over again. The idiocy lies in this very instance: Say, I don't like a particular person. Well, then I just don't like him. I may tend to be critical of him, I may not talk to him, I may not do him any favors but that doesn't mean I would kill him or cause any form of lethal harm to him. Same is the case when it comes to our nation. Someone not being happy with India does not imply that he/she shall sabotage the safety of the nation or its people. Those who are critical of India are not necessarily ISI agents or terrorists. And frankly, if people believe otherwise then they have probably gone mushy in their heads and such individuals do not deserve criticism from anyone, they deserve pity.

Nature conjured continents out of the planet, our ancestors carved nations out of them and our forefathers ended up scattering crumbs of those nations hither and tither, leaving our generation in a mess, that even the generation that is yet to come, shall clean in futility. How can we force a group of people, folks of a particular culture - to like a nation, to pledge devotion to that nation? How can we so naively put forth - the like or dislike for a piece of land - as right or wrong? If I will be burned for this, so be it but I still believe in my nation, I still believe in the freedom of speech and expression, I still believe in the best that my motherland and its honers have taught me and it's by that tolerance I I shall abide and think to resolve an issue, not by guns - not by violence - not by murder.

My grandfather witnessed wars. My father witnessed wars. I have witnessed wars. With the pace that we are accumulating when it comes to protests, riots and curfews - I am tad sure that the generation that's yet to come shall know a very little of peace. And we sure are doing a very good job at that. The truth is that violence never liberates. The actions of our army might be able to suppress the current situation in Kashmir but it won't be durable. Violence has always evolved into a form of superficial peace that's short lived - for wounds of the time gone by always have a story to tell - and such stories always impart hatred as their moral and hatred incites more revolutions and revolutions can never ever be killed.

What liberates, is a lesson learned on the campus of JNU itself. I shall resist myself from festooning the event that I am about to narrate but it was definitely the most beautiful evening of the season - nature at its best - the sky was all colorful and graced up. I and a friend of mine had finished eating snacks at one of the joints at the 'tea point' and we were gearing up to leave for home. As we strolled towards the crossroads, my friend nudged me into witnessing a sight - a Muslim boy, probably of my age, stood at the corner of the road, all dressed in principle attire - 'topi' and 'salwar kameez' - with a sign that hung around his neck that stated, 'If you don't discriminate me and accept me as one of your own, then hug me'. With the passing of time, that vision has incorporated itself in my mind as a memorable photograph and has utterly evolved to inspirational standards.

I remember, I was hesitant to hug him at that time, not because I discriminated him but because this entire act - me hugging him - seemed a little too bogus. In my terms - phony. But my friend had already taken hold of my hand and was pulling me - before I could resist I had already crossed the road and stood facing the Muslim boy. My friend hugged him and I saw a genuine merry smile cross his face. It was beautiful. The act of making anyone happy. Then came my turn. I didn't want to leave without hugging him for it would be embarrassing as well as hurtful - so I went along with the flow and hugged him. And to tell you the truth, my dear readers, that perhaps was the moment when my soul felt as liberated as his.

Written by Prahaas Oldman

Prahaas Oldman is an aspiring writer and film maker who resides in New Delhi, where he chases his dreams. You can follow him on twitter @PrahaasOldman

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A discussion with a Kashmiri co-worker on Separatism, Burhan Wani and Terrorism


Kashmir is a very delicate issue propelled by hardcore Islamic (Wahabi) religious fanaticism so I'm of a view that the more attention we give to their incessant complaining in media the more fodder we provide our enemies against us.

I also had a belief that because it is a religious issue so separatists have silent support of Muslim majority of Kashmir. But after having a discussion with one of my co-worker recently, a Kashmiri girl (Shia), I was forced to think to change that belief a bit.

Here is the excerpt of the conversation that we had. Let us call her K.

Me: Hey how are you?

K: Fine! How are you?

Me : Good too. So it has started in Kashmir again?

K: Yeah! Situation is a bit tensed.

Me: Who is responsible? You only. Why do your people do that? If you hate India so much then leave India instead of attacking our soldiers with stones.

K: Hey! I am as Indian as you are and I, including the people far far into my contacts has never opposed India or the army. Not all Kashmiris are against India and we don't conspire for the so-called 'azadi'. Even we are fed up of those extremists who have made Kashmir a hell on earth.

Me : Then who are those people whom I see on internet tirelessly calling India and Indian Army names. And who made constitutes that mob to stone pelters, the ones who were crying tears for Burhan Wani?

K: Hardly 20% of the entire Kashmiri population supports the separatists and they are responsible for the violence.

Me: It's still a product of Islam. Muslims want a separate land because of their Islamist identity.

K: I told you I am a die hard Indian and most Kashmiris like me carry the same sentiment but it is Indian government and media's impartiality which offends many. Now look at this Burhan Wani case. Have you ever heard his name before this incident?

Me : No, do you have sympathy with him ?

K: No I don't have any sympathy with him. He was a terrorist and was treated as such, but the main thing is that even I have not heard his name before this nor do my many Kashmiri friends. But all of sudden he became a hero for all those extremist and even for other common people. Who do you think is responsible for this ?

Me : Who?

K: Indian MEDIA. Army killed a terrorist but media made him a martyr. His news was shown as of some hero on TV and printed as he was some rock star in news paper. This changed narrative of a terrorist has huge impact on Kashmir. Tell me do you like if some good looking young guy, a rebel of your city or town would be killed by someone as shown in TV. He was never referred to as a terrorist but as young, good looking son of a teacher from the valley. This gained him a lot of sympathy and disgust for Indian government amongst common Kashmiri masses plus extremist are always waiting for these kind of opportunities to emerge. Now when Kashmir reacted, Police and CRPF counter reacted, hence situation escalated.

Me: So you blame the opportunist Indian media? And what about local kashmiri channel and news papers?

K: Yes 100%. This is the only news that runs in Kashmir day and night, like to hypnotize the entire Kashmir population into a hate frenzy. Specially Barkha and NDTV, they are the ones who are building this fire in Kashmir.

Me : Hmm.. Yeah true. Good to know your side too.

With this conclusion we reahed a truce and moved to our respective desks for work.

Written by Abhishek Abhimanyu Sharma

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Prophet Muhammad foretold a satanic sect within Islam, now we know it as Wahhabism


Sufi origins of Indian Islam

Islam in India was spread by Sufis like Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Ajmeri RA, Hazrat Sabir Kaliyari RA, Hazrat Haji Ali, Hazrat Makhdoom Shah Mahimi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Hazrat Waris Pak RA, etc. Hence, Indian Muslims, since the beginning, were always peaceful and adjusting (except the some in the ruling class).

Remember, these incidences of Sufis were all very early, much before Britishers, Marathas or Mughals.

Then came Britishers and their supremacist takeover of as much of the world as they could. They had a war, World War I, whose main target in Arabia was the fall of Ottoman Caliphate.

How Saudis corrupted Islam in the name of purity

British had to install a puppet rule in Arabia, for which they chose Ibn Saud as the political face and Ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi as the religious face.

Ibn Abdul Wahhab was conditioned to preach extremism and literal interpretation of Islam. He used to preach Ibn Saud’s Army and his own disciples that he and his co-ideologues are the only true Muslims and other people of Arabia are only namesake Muslims, they have become polytheistic (which was obviously false allegation) and deserve to be killed.

This is the ideology that helped Ibn Saud’s Army to take over Kaba and become the ruler of Al Hijaz (the province which contained Mecca and Medina). Since then, this ideology was referred to as Wahhabism, or Al-Wahhabiyya. All this happened circa WWI which was around 1920s or so.

Prophet foretold satanic Wahhabism

There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari (and many other Sahis) which roughly translates into that a man of Najd (current day Riyadh) requested Prophet to pray for prosperity of Najd, Prophet instead prayed for Syria and Yemen, and this happened thrice. When other companions curiously questioned Prophet’s denial of prayer for Najd, Prophet said that there will rise a fitnah (mischief) from Najd. In another Hadith Prophet is reported to have referred to Najd as (abode of) Satan’s horn.

It is recorded that Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s brother kicked him out of the house due to his heretic ideology and said “Verily you are the Devil’s horn that my Prophet talked about!”

Now this ideology was gaining traction, Britishers began pumping money to spread this hate filled ideology which was partly responsible for partition. After partition, Pakistan remained in the grip of this ideology and its influence began to skyrocket a couple of years later with the rule (rather I should say dictatorship) of Zia ul Haq.

The percentage of people who adhere and swear by this extremist ideology is pretty high in other muslim populations compared to India, which is why Indian muslims rarely get attracted towards terrorism. India is mostly Sufi and Pakistan is mostly Wahhabi. All the hate mongering Muslims are adherents of this ideology or any of its offshoots like Ahl ul Hadees, Salafi etc.

Hindu extremism, as bad as it can be, is still not as bad as Wahhabiyyat. Pakistan has a very strong influence of Wahhabism and especially on the most influential people of Pakistan. Many of the top orders are corrupted by Wahhabiyyat already. Pakistanis who want peace and development, need to encourage their Sufis to undertake politics and try to bring Pakistan back from Wahhabiyyat to Tasawwuf (true traditions of Islam) and Rasoolullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam.

Reality of Zakir Naik, and I used to be fan

Being an ex-fan of Zakir Naik I know exactly what he is about.

He first used to project himself as a person who only abides to what is written in Qur’an and Hadiths. I thought that was so cool. But soon I discovered that he too is an ideologue (being an ideologue is nothing wrong, but being an ideologue of a mislead ideology is certainly very bad).

I discovered it in one of his QA sessions when someone asked a question to which there were many different opinions of ulamas (scholars) and he said “there is a difference of opinions but I tend to lean towards the verdict and opinion of Shaykh Bin Baaz, Nasiruddin Albani, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Aziz etc.” All these had one thing in common, they are all Saudi!

I recognized that he is just a Wahhabi in disguise, he is camouflaging himself as an evangelist in order to lure uninformed and religious illiterate Muslims towards Wahhabism.

He is a Wahhabi, I now know that and this fact is enough for me to hate him. India being a land of Sufis cannot tolerate such a Wahhabi. We have seen a lot of protests against Zakir Naik from Muslims in Mumbai and all over India.

I guess, like every cult, right or wrong, he too has his following and they are pressing hard to gather support and sympathy in the name of ittehad (unity of Muslims) but Muslims, beware, unity is possible with non-Muslims but not with Hypocrites like him.

In Hyderabad and Kerala Wahhabism is gaining ground. Though, keep in mind that India has 200 Million Muslims, assuming that just 10% are Wahhabis makes 20 Million Wahhabi leaning muslims, that is a huge lot to make things worse and they are making it worse indeed.

Though, Hindu extremism is real. Government and opposition are both very strongly reacting against all kinds of extremism. It makes me happy to see Modi lining up with the Sufis. I notice that after the first International Sufi Conference the influence of Sufism has increased in public in media and in entertainment. The 3 best sources of influence that is. So, there's hope that future can be better, but we need to be extremely vigilant.

Written by Imran Munshi

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Co-passenger confronts Ashutosh on AAP drama and leaves him tongue-tied


One aam aadmi Alok Tiwari ran into "AAP ka Ashutosh" at an airport, asked him a few hard questions, over pleasantries, on shrill drama that AAP serves on a daily basis, left Ashutosh tongue-tied. Alok Tiwari later shared his experience on social media*. This is how it followed,


Flight from Delhi reached early at Ahmedabad and while waiting for driver outside at airport, standing right next to me was Ashutosh of AAP who too was waiting for his car. 

Just to kill time after initial pleasantries exchanged when topic came to AAP and I took him on several issues, from Sheila Dixit to Batala House to stroking Khalistan fire in Punjab to Modi ji wants to kill me, he quickly switched to petrol prices not reduced by Modi to favor Ambani. 

When I gave him figures of old petroleum subsidy burden which has to be paid, and who will and when pay it, he started craning his neck looking for his car. 

While shaking hands before leaving when I said "Ashutosh, Gujarat is not Delhi or Punjab. Don't manufacture Dalit issue to fish in troubled water," looks on his face was a give away. 

He had probably come to attend some Dalit rally to show AAP solidarity with them to create Gujarat election issue. 

Though, I knew about Ashutosh's English "acumen" but was still surprised to find that an ex- News editor of a leading TV channel was unable to carry his arguments with any conviction. 

Anyways it was good time pass of 15 minutes.


AAP has long ago stopped answering straight questions, which is why you never see them on non-krantikari news channels. Kejriwal however continues to tweet about his dreams and nightmares in-between movie reviews, as he gets time; you see, applying your IITesque creative brain in cooking up entertainment agenda for the country is a hard task, takes a lot out of him.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The Indian Economy - Hayek's scheme of things


In economics, the most significant task is to make working models based on knowledge that we do not possess. The knowledge of ‘the market’ exists within the market and is possessed by the many individuals that form the market. This knowledge can never be concentrated and therefore, much of economic ‘planning’ is dependent on a set of concepts that basically get their steam from abstractions. Even if we held fairly credible data, it would still disregard human action and motivation, which is an absolutely essential parameter in gauging the tides of the market. While Adam Smith’s invisible hand might not exist in absolute terms, neither does the possibility of absolute ‘visible’ control. Our fundamental problem with planning, then, is the presumption that we possess such knowledge or at least, are in a position to gauge the extent of its ramifications.

To quote Hayek from his last book, ‘The Fatal Conceit,’ “the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” To paraphrase further, the naïve mind conceives order as the simple product of deliberate arrangement – and this arrangement, or at least the perception around it, is largely conceptual. The seminal question here is, does order, as we know it truly exist? And if such order doesn’t exist, then we’re in a serious predicament as to how we must proceed in the field of economics.

The most significant case in point in recent times is the global recession in the mid-late 2000s. Rewinding back to 2001, when the US Federal Reserve slashed interest rates in order to boost economic activity, which led to the eventual bursting of the property bubble, we can see, in retrospect, exactly how important it is for us to revisit Hayek. The Hayekian argument here wouldn’t be that the central bank got rates wrong, but that the state should not be in the business of setting interest rates in the first place. This is squarely different from the view of other prominent free marketeers. If the market had set rates, they would be much higher and the question of a kickback wouldn’t surface at all. This is just another manifestation, almost a century later, of Hayek’s prediction of the US market crash in 1929. The central idea is that the seeds of the bust are sown in the boom. The setting of unrealistic rates ends up in an unsustainable boom that leads to the unavoidable bust that follows.

This is of crucial significance, especially in light of the recent #RExit and the debate around interest rates. Whilst discussing interest rates in India, which by all measures could be reduced significantly, we run into a major roadblock. This is because of two major reasons. For one, the Indian economy has a deep-rooted tint (which is why, perhaps, the likes of Hayek are mysteriously absent from our economics classes) and secondly, because the individuals that comprise the market might not necessarily be satisfied with procuring lower interest rates on lending. It is common knowledge that if borrowing rates are to be reduced, lending rates will have to correspond. How then is the system to perform this balancing act of interest rates, deficit, trade and the innumerable sops that are a part of our economic DNA?

This is where the argument for a free market steps in. Of course, it would be thoroughly naïve to expect this change to be instantaneous, but let’s play with the idea for a while. Imagine a market the government doesn’t meddle in, which would act as a communications system with billions of unique pieces of information. This system would impartially influence the use of resources and by extension – prices, which would guide our actions as they rise and fall. These prices, as Hayek points out, are abstract signals, the knowledge of which we do not possess and therefore, we cannot tutor the signals that inform us about circumstances we don’t know about. This, in contrast with the government setting interest rates and prices – which may or may not be in tandem with the swings of the market, thereby sending wrong signals to the players in the market. Post the great depression and the (now) great recession, it would be prudent for us to learn while we can. Besides, it is impossible to guarantee other freedoms to people while they do not enjoy economic freedom – the less the economic freedom in the market, more will be the need to control other areas of people’s lives. This is because, to start with, tastes and preferences would have to be moulded to conform to the direction in which the market is being steered leading to a domino effect affecting all other areas. As a result, it is almost impossible to be a market collectivist whilst adhering to all other principles liberal.

In light of this, let’s explore a theory about why Hayekian policy has been ignored in large parts. The idea that the manufactured boom is unsustainable has a very sinister undercurrent. That is, that the recession that follows is essentially a return of the economy to normalcy. The notion that the recession must be left alone to do its job, essentially liquidating unsustainable ventures and letting ‘the fittest survive’ is too bitter a pill for politicians or the populace to swallow. While it is almost impossible to separate the two, this is more a moral question than an economic one – the question of social justice.

Hayek’s answer is simple, that any system, which is to ‘decide upon’ a general functioning of the market, cannot take into account the merits or the needs of any individual. It has to be absolutely dispassionate. It is true that individuals make up the market, and that is precisely why each one cannot be taken into consideration individually! Prices come about as a result of the action of individuals, but they aren’t and shouldn’t be decided by such individuals. However, such a colourless view wouldn’t only be counterproductive to our commitment as a welfare state, it would be against any standard of what we call social justice. Therefore, we must inch towards providing a minimum standard of living for all individuals beyond which, we must rely upon the signaling system of prices. The great problem with achieving this is that it is possible only in a wealthy society. Not only is India not wealthy, it is also a democracy – and as much as we love that, there’s no escaping democracy’s little sister, tyranny. Consider land acquisition; the new law facilitates the acquisition of land in four years. Compare that to the two and a half years that China took to not only acquire the land, but complete the Beijing-Shanghai railway line.

So how does one go about this goal in a country like India? This author has a few broad ideas. Firstly, the government must get out of all industries that it has no business running and/or has not the means to manage. Profit driven private or PPP models will provide the same employment and better production, in all probability, while being far more efficient than our cobweb ridden public system. The way roads and airports have been built is a good case in point. Besides, it makes no sense whatsoever for the state to be running airlines, hotels and the like when it has failed miserably to provide the basics that are necessary in a civilised society – basic education and health, law and order, sanitation and so on. The Nehruvian hangover of state sponsored productive growth must certainly be questioned at this point in history.

Better communication systems must be set up rapidly – roads, low budget airports, waterways and IT infrastructure – to boost trade and inch towards the setting up of more urban centres. The only way to ensure upper mobility without overburdening our cities and environment is the development of more urban clusters. Agricultural output must be increased in order to provide skills to and move the labour force (landless farmers, for instance) into the production of secondary and tertiary commodities. For this, we need better conservation of water and the apt application of technology. The production of value added commodities is of utmost importance – here, we can learn a thing or two from China and other East Asian countries.

One of the most damning mistakes India made in the post independence years was to look wholly inward. With a large population immersed in poverty, it is but natural that we must concentrate our energy in trying to solve domestic problems, however, that can’t be done at the cost of international trade. India has been an economic prison for a long time and as a result, we’ve missed the train in several spheres. It would be foolish to try and compete with the likes of China; as TN Ninan puts it, trying to make a China out of India is like asking Greece to be like Germany! But with China’s demographic and other problems, it is essential that we manage to secure our space in the world as the next great manufacturing hub. It would be prudent to delve into services and the manufacturing of commodities that are uniquely indigenous in nature or commodities to which the value added is attractive beyond the simple labour-capital paradigm. In a word, innovation. A good example is the textile and garment industry where Bangladesh, for instance, has superseded our output – for our lack of labour reforms, tax reforms and the like.

This brings us to how we inherently look at industry. India has a history of looking towards industry to fuel development, especially in backward areas. However, there’s a crucial flaw in that reasoning. While industry provides employment, its primary role is to be productive – this cannot be reversed. If it is more productive and efficient, employment becomes a natural by-product. The anecdote of the Andhra Pradesh electricity board comes to mind where, upon being asked to create 10,000 odd jobs, the chairperson’s reply was that the role of the electricity board is to generate electricity, not jobs. There is a great lesson to be learned from that. The natural response of the state that more government jobs must be created in order to curb unemployment might not be the best way out, especially when it doesn’t possess the resources or the level of efficiency required. The state must also cease to regulate prices arbitrarily. Look, for instance at sugarcane. One wants farmers to be happy and therefore, gives them a higher price for their harvest; on the other hand, one also wants sugar to be cheap in the market! In this little game, what happens to the industry? This can be seen across sectors. Another example is the power sector – India, for the first time, has a power surplus, but regulated pricing disallows this power from being distributed! Couple this with the artificial rise in price via the hoarding of essential commodities and other skeletons from the License Raj closet, and we’re in a soup.

Our view of the profit motive is of importance too. If a system of prices is to govern economic activity, thereby giving birth to healthy competition, the profit motive is the most important means to be employed. Our Fabian Socialist roots might drive us to view the profit motive with disdain, but it is the only objective incentive that can be relied upon in a market. An anti-profit view then, is indistinguishable from an anti-market view. Indeed, if private players are to be observed, there is little else that one can point out to as an ‘ultimate driving force.’ Of course, this must be in line with the principles of fair practice. A good way of ensuring that is to ensure a low cost of entry, letting smaller players enter the market with greater ease. In this regard, the emphasis on entrepreneurship, especially in the service and IT sectors seems to be a step in the right direction. Small and mid-level players entering the market would, without a doubt, give birth to healthy competition – the invisible hand.

Of course, in order to move towards freer market conditions, we need massive structural reforms, especially in the tax regime, labour laws, investment, the banking sector and infrastructure development. But India’s sheer size makes certain of the fact that it is and will remain one of the largest contributors to world growth, this growth however, must not be jobless and certainly mustn’t be concentrated. Our demographic dividend and heterogeneity is a boon, the challenge is to not let it slip into stagnation. The question is, how do we avoid concentration? We’ve tried to do it artificially; perhaps the time has come to consider freer market conditions. In our land of contradictions, the greatest contradiction is that we have a profound love for freedom and liberty, which for some reason, doesn’t extend to the economy!

Written by Keshav Iyengar 

Keshav Iyengar is a musician and a student of economics and law.