This article is addressed to you — the individual reader! It’s an impassioned plea demanding that you stand up and be counted. It intends to highlight the urgency of why you must join the national fight for individual liberty and good governance in India. For how long are you going to tolerate terrible living standards, filth, corruption, and poor governance?
Most Indians have no idea of how badly they have been cheated out of prosperity by their corrupt socialist, communalist, and casteist politicians. Even those who have an inkling are not aware of the magnitude and its extent. People cynically take it for granted that India is an ungovernable mess and perpetually doomed to remain a basket-case. Educated Indians reject politics as the “arena of thieves” and want to have nothing to do with it. They can’t make the relation between the socialist policies and anti-liberty agenda of their politicians to the poor living standards and frustrations that they experience in their daily lives.
Indians are a confused lot! Many blame the large population, poverty, and other symptoms for the cause of India’s misgovernance and poor living standards. They have no idea of how things would have otherwise been, had their leaders focused on ensuring complete rule of law and had embarked on the tried-and-successful path of free market capitalism, free trade, meritocracy, and incentive-compatible governance from the start. India could have easily been one of the most prosperous nations on earth — the Switzerland of the East. Had the nation embarked on this path of freedom and good governance, its citizens would not be facing poverty and abysmally low living standards today.
Those of us who have left India to settle in first world countries like Australia, Canada, US, and Singapore are faced with this stark contrast daily. Everyday we get to witness this massive discrepancy between what India is and what India could have been. We compare the high quality of life we experience there to the poor living standards we had in our home country.
In developed countries, the roads are all smooth and without pot-holes; streets are clean, well-planned, and well-paved; public services are excellent; and the cities tend to be beautiful. The infrastructure is first-rate. There is no corruption at all. There is none of the muck and chaos of India. There is no foul stench in the air. We don’t get to witness disgusting sights of people spitting missiles of phlegm on the sidewalk or urinating on the corner. There is no litter or filth anywhere to be seen. Cows do not block traffic and aren’t even seen on the road. Drivers and pedestrians alike follow road rules. The roads are not congested with traffic and we don’t have to withstand the aggravation of long traffic jams.
Indians living in these countries don’t suffer power-cuts. Water is available non-stop for 24 hours. We all live in good houses with neatly manicured lawns and earn high figure incomes, as we go about enjoying our lives without frustration. We don’t get harassed by an army of beggars every time we step out to shop or dine. Extreme poverty doesn’t exist and even the poor seem to be fat and well-fed. The poor live lives that would qualify for a middle-class lifestyle in India. People are rich! Period!
In India, we could never expect to have anything close to the high living standards currently experienced in the world’s most developed countries. It is little wonder then that most of us who leave don’t return. India is a corrupt third world mess. We deserve better, and those of us who have emigrated abroad won’t return to an India that doesn’t satisfy our basic needs. These are not luxuries. These are modest needs that every human being is entitled to.
Now what created this distinction, you might ask! What made developed countries rich and well-governed, whereas India remained poor and became an exemplar of chronic governance failure? Here too many Indians have a lot of bizarre ideas as they go about speculating the reason, but the formula for national success is simple and basically boils down to having an OPEN MARKET ECONOMY and GOOD INSTITUTIONS. That’s all that is required really for a nation to thrive and prosper.
While developed countries chose the successful models of capitalism and meritocracy, India chose the failed models of socialism and a feudalistic colonial governance setup. These make all the difference between affluence and poverty, between cleanliness and filth, and between orderliness and chaos.
It makes us wonder what India could have been today had our leaders focused on ensuring the right things, namely rule of law, free markets, free trade, meritocracy, and incentive-compatible governance. I shall paint an alternate picture of such an India, based on what we know about the latest findings in economics and the history of developed countries.
We can conclude the following with the utmost confidence:
With systems of governance that focused on the right incentives; corruption, poor quality of public services. and other governance issues would have been non-existent. We would have been the most honest and law-abiding society on earth. With strict enforcement of laws and harsh penalties, people would have no incentive to break the law. Our crime rate would have been extremely low, as prosperity and strict law enforcement would have deterred criminal behavior to the maximum extent. Women would have thus felt safe to walk the streets at night. India would have been among the world’s safest places to live and raise a family. Organized crime would have been a high risk and low profit enterprise, as their major rackets such as drugs, prostitution, and gambling would have been legalized and lightly regulated. With zero tariffs and no import duties, criminal gangs would be deprived of the opportunity to make money out of smuggling goods. Consumer safety standards would have been strictly enforced, and as a result, our food would have been safe to eat and water safe to drink.
With environmental safety standards properly enforced, we would have had a clean environment and our rivers would not be filthy sewers. Our air would have been clean and breathable. Our environmental policies would have been incentive-based (including market based), and so our forests and wildlife would have been thriving. Many animal and plant species would not have gone extinct.
Tourists overwhelmingly shun India in favour of other countries because they are disgusted by all the chaos, poverty, filth, and poor infrastructure that they see and read about in the news. Even most of those who visit are so repulsed that they don’t feel like returning for the second time. Third world countries simply do not make for good tourist destinations. First world cities like Dubai and Singapore receive more tourists annually than the entirety of India. A well-governed and prosperous India would have surely become one of the world’s most visited countries.
By virtue of being a developed country, the Indian passport would have been among the most valuable in terms of visa-free travel. India’s poverty currently makes developed countries restrict access to Indian tourists, as they fear that a liberal visa regime would open the floodgates of economic refugees from India who would continue to live there illegally after their visa expires.
The rupee would have been the world’s strongest currency, in fact, much stronger than the US dollar is today. In a free banking system with the value of our currency tied to precious metals like gold and silver, and with our currency printing subject to competition between multiple private banks, inflation would have been kept in check. The rupee would have consequently become the world’s top reserve currency — a status presently enjoyed by the US dollar. Our taxes would have been very low, and this would have significantly increased our purchasing power. Unilateral free trade with the rest of the world would have brought us the world’s high-quality goods at increasingly lower prices, which would have further increased our purchasing power.
With free markets, India would have become the most economically free nation of all time. It would have also become the easiest country in which to start and operate a business. Registering and closing a business would have taken a few days. There would be no corrupt inspectors or politicians who could delay the process and had to be bribed. We would have had lax labour laws. Employers and employees would have been free to reach mutually beneficial contracts with each other, whereas good regulations would have ensured the safety of employees.
There would be no stupid restrictions on investment, capital flow, trade, and business activities. Laws would have been very simple. Businesses wouldn’t be choked by thousands of stifling regulations. Rather they would have been encouraged by a welcoming and friendly government which would be working at a feverish pace to attract the world’s entrepreneurs and international investment. India would have thus become the top destination to attract the brightest professionals, the most ambitious entrepreneurs, and biggest investors from around the world.
India would have been the world’s largest as well as most vibrant, dynamic, competitive and productive economy. The exponential increase in productivity coupled with the strength of the rupee would have raised our incomes and purchasing power to become the world’s highest.
Our unilateral free trade policy with the rest of the world would have forced domestic industries to become internationally competitive, and also boosted our purchasing power by making high-quality products from around the world available to us at cheaper prices. India would have become the world’s second largest trading nation after China. Our share in the world trade would have accounted for as much as 25 %, and our economy would have accounted for more than 30 % of the global economy. The Indian economy would have been ten times larger than it is now. India’s meteoric rise would have been met with the world’s awe. It would have been touted as one of the Asian “economic growth miracles” and “tiger economies”.
Unemployment would not exist. Good jobs would have been in a surplus — more than enough to employ the millions of Indians who join our workforce every month. India would have industrialized and become the world’s factory producing all of the world’s goods. This would have uplifted all our poor into middle-class status within a generation. India would have urbanized long ago, as everyone would be able to afford raising their families in the cities.
With a free market in agriculture, our farmers would have been earning good profits on their produce and so many would not have been forced to commit suicide. They would have been free to set their own prices for their agricultural produce and consort with international and domestic retailers of their preference. Also, much of India’s food would not be rotting in the sun or eaten up by rats in poorly maintained godowns.
In a country with strong property rights, governments would not be seizing private lands to hand it over to their cronies in big business. Millions more among the poor farmers would have possessed ownership deeds to their lands. Strict limits on government spending and strict mandates restricting the size and scope of the government would have prevented our politicians from squandering taxpayer money on subsidizing businessmen in exchange for personal favours, and on welfare schemes for farmers and poor devised with the intent of securing cheap votes. Public money would not have been burnt on running perpetually loss-making enterprises like Air India, Indian railways, power utilities, etc.
We wouldn’t be faced with high levels of public debt. Our politicians in fact would have had a strong incentive to treat taxpayer money as their own money, and this would have led them to invest public revenues wisely on performing functions within its limited scope of responsibilities. The government budget would thus constantly be in a surplus.
Our schemes to help the poor would have been effective and well-formulated. The state would have ensured reasonable equality of opportunity for the poor through the negative income tax, school vouchers and basic healthcare for the poor, and emergency healthcare for all. Extreme poverty would have ceased to exist. People would have been well off and had enough to live a decent and dignified existence.
India’s political culture would not have been corrupted by evil collectivist ideologies such as socialism, hindutva, and caste-identity politics. The common folk would have imbibed liberal values of individual liberty and economic freedom. The blame for our rotten political culture lies squarely at the feet of India’s founding father Jawaharlal Nehru who was enamored with socialism and brainwashed the Indian electorate through freebies and the education system. Every Indian political party, other than SBP, follows Nehru’s socialist ideology of corruption and detests freedom, and are therefore Nehru’s godchildren.
In a culture grounded in liberty, communal parties like the BJP, socialist parties of all hues, and caste-based parties would have failed to win popular support. They would have been marginalized and relegated to the fringes as they deserve. People would have only voted for freedom-oriented parties that represent their values. As such, there wouldn’t have been laws dictating how Indians should live their lives, such as the stupid restrictions against freedom of speech, restrictions on what we should eat, restrictions on alcohol and marijuana, restrictions on prosletyzing and converting to another religion, bans on books and movies, etc.
Indians would not have been slaves. The government and our politicians would have been our servants, and not our masters. India would consequently have become the freest country on earth with individual liberties to live as we like and seek personal fulfillment safeguarded in our constitution.
With the rule of law being supreme, the numerous communal riots and state-supported pogroms would never have occurred. Kashmiri Pandits would still be living in their homes. People would not have been targeted and killed for belonging to a particular religion. Neither would have the caste massacres taken place in the 90s or the daily constant atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis be occurring as we speak. Such incidents only occur in failed societies. In a truly free India, there would have been no caste violence, for prosperous and well-educated people do not partake in oppression and violence against their fellow humans.
The sensitive parts of the country, Northeast, Jammu & Kashmir, and the Red Corridor, would not have been ravaged by insurgencies, as people would have had no reason to revolt and pick up arms in a country where the government is responsive to their needs and cares for them. Lakhs of people would not have lost their lives unnecessarily.
Our politicians would have all been honest, as the Indian political system would have had placed strong mechanisms in place to ensure that only the honest and competent join politics while the corrupt and criminal were kept out. Corruption scandals of any sort could simply not occur in a system embedded with the right incentives to ensure that politicians are all honest, are held accountable, and perform their duties well; forget about mega-scandals like Bofors, Augusta Westland, 2G spectrum, coal license allocation scam, etc. They would not be handing over thousands of crores of public money to their industrialist cronies. Since politicians would have been paid well and not allowed perks, VIP culture would not have existed.
Our bureaucracy would have been the world’s finest and most professional bureaucracy with honesty and meritocracy at its very core. Bureaucrats would have been forced to be held accountable for their conduct, and would have been rewarded or punished based on their performance. There would have been no place for reservations and so-called “positive discrimination” measures in such a meritocracy. Our bureaucracy and public institutions (government, regulatory agencies, police, forestry, and judiciary) would have surely benefited from modern advances in these fields that were discovered in Singapore and the West.
The police would have been well-behaved, well-trained, and law-abiding servants equipped with the latest technology. They would have focused their energies entirely on keeping the citizenry secure. They wouldn’t be harassing citizens for bribes and arbitrarily using violence. Encounter killings, custodial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, etc, are all hallmarks of a society whose governance systems are broken. In first world societies, life is not cheap and every individual life is held to be of the highest value.
Our courts wouldn’t have been understaffed, and the monumental backlogs of pending court cases wouldn’t exist. Justice would have been swift. Courts would truly have been places of justice administered with the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied!” It wouldn’t be taking many decades just to hear a simple civil case. Judicial corruption and perjury would have been dealt with the harshest penalties.
With zero corruption and by being up-to-date with the latest technology, our military and intelligence organs would have been top-notch. India would not have lost the 1962 war to China. Thousands of Indians would not have lost their lives or been maimed in terrorist attacks.
Our pursuit of free market capitalism, free trade, rule of law, meritocracy, and incentive-compatible governance from 1947 onwards would have propelled India to become a developed country in a little over a generation. India would have become a first world country by the early 80s. We would have become the richest nation on earth, with one of the highest standards of living. Such an India would have also been one of the best countries to be born in and raise a family.
There wouldn’t be vast swathes of people living and dying on our streets everyday. The total population of India would have easily been half of what it is now, as increasing levels of prosperity ensured that people became better educated, modern, and had easy access to birth control.
Aside from the usual first world conveniences that all people living in developed countries take for granted such as non-stop water and electricity, clean streets, etc; our schools, universities, hospitals, and critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports, airports, subways, internet, and power utilities would have all been state-of-the-art and world-class. India would have been home to some of the world’s best universities and hospitals.
Our people would have become overwhelmingly well-educated, modern, cosmopolitan, and liberal, as people living in large advanced multicultural countries tend to be. Indians in general would be very individualistic today, and so very few would have bothered with absurdities like caste, religion, and patriarchal norms like dowry.
Indian cities would have been the envy of the world, far from the polluted, filthy, congested, and poverty-stricken dumps that they are now. Efficient urban management coupled with strong local governments would have transformed them into the world’s most livable cities — huge beautiful megalopolises bursting with dynamism, creativity, and energy. While slums would have existed at the initial phase of our urbanization, they would have disappeared as the poor became increasingly affluent and got uplifted into the middle class.
The emigration of our best and brightest citizens to the West which began in the early 70s would not have taken place at all. Rather aspiring immigrants from all over the world would have been making a beeline to immigrate onto our shores and make India their home. India would have been the greatest land of opportunity that the world has ever seen.
Internationally, the mantle of the leader of the free world would have passed on to India. The US, being less free than India, would have lost the moral right to retain that title. India would have been a moral superpower and a great cultural force spreading the ideas of liberty and good governance far and wide. India was the world’s greatest nation for 2000 years before British rule; it would have become the greatest nation, yet again, by becoming the hub centre of liberty, justice, peace, innovation and prosperity. A sone ki chidiya!
Alas! All of these would have been, had our political leaders had the right priorities from the moment we received independence. But they sabotaged us through their socialism and corruption, and deprived us of what is justly ours — the right to live our lives in dignity and prosperity. Now there’s no point in despairing over and regretting the amount of time and opportunities wasted. That’s all water down the stream. It won’t come back.
It’s still never too late to fix things and work towards solving our issues. But first, the Indian middle-class needs to get out of its slumber and wake up.
Enough is enough! It is time for us to regain our dignity. We must take back the liberty that has been stolen from us. We must gain the prosperity and high living standards that we have been cheated out of. We must rise from being the world’s filthy sewer to become the greatest country again.
The only way that will happen is if our governance systems were to be radically overhauled and we were to adopt a new political framework based on the ideals of individual liberty, rule of law, free market capitalism, free trade, meritocracy, and incentive-compatible governance.
Swarna Bharat Party is the only party in India with an agenda of freedom and which has the solutions to our governance issues. It is India’s only hope for good governance and prosperity. Unlike the other political parties, it is not a personality cult and is not corrupt. It follows the highest standards of internal democracy and transparency. No other party comes close. It is light years ahead of all the other parties. I request all freedom-loving Indians to join and actively support it.
You must become politically active and even step forward to lead India if you have to. This is a job for you, not for others! You must help make Swarna Bharat Party a viable force in Indian politics and kick out the scoundrels in our parliament, central, and state governments; who are looting our country in the name of governing it. We need good servants, and they need to be made accountable and put in their proper place.
Please visit: http://swarnabharat.in/ and register to join as member or volunteer. Lifetime membership fee is currently only Rs.100.