Warning: I do not have solutions, if I did I would have been writing for [Project Syndicate.] (www.project-syndicate.org)
“Capitalism? Socialism? India wants an answer!”
I have been part of so many discussions recently which end up in political debates that I have been feeling like Arnab Goswami.
Never, Ever, Ever, Ever
Usually these debates are healthy but once in a while they transform into a heated discussion which gets out of hand. I don’t mind that, honest opinions by level-headed people is what shapes up the political debate scenario. Some people tend to compare political debates to fanboyism in the tech-space and although it’s the same ball-park, political debates are usually non-standardized, which in my opinion makes them way more absorbing.
In Defence of Capitalism
I am not a fan of the mixed economy India tries to be, I say ‘try’ because it is extremely hard to not lean on either sides. I tend to lean on the capitalist side. I believe that real development does not take place when you are trying to be nice to people. Privatize everything which is sick and get back to governing the country, core utilities aside, let the people who know how to run a company, provide good or at least decent customer service and obviously know how to make money run the show. There is no point in trying to do everything, you will fail.
I honestly cannot find a single thing wrong with capitalism, in theory. Even though, capitalism recently, specifically in the United States has been about protecting the wealthy and legalizing greed, as Michael Moore so rightly said. That’s their version of capitalism and not a blanket ideology.
Any country works on the basic economic fundamental of money rolling in: The more money the people make = the more employment opportunities = more people actually paying taxes = more win.
I know I tend to simplify things and sometimes even over-simplify. I even made simple formulas for my business class.
Any government which leans more towards capitalism could make certain discretions as to how it would work, compulsory CSR policies which are mandated and updated from time to time taking the market scenario under consideration and the chalking up of the policies could be done by a collective effort between the corporates and the policy makers. Although, that does sound like what the definition of a mixed-economy should be, it’s not, specifically in India. Our policy makers usually tend to lean towards a side instead of finding solutions by creating more homogenous policies which respect both the ideologies.
“Capitalism has worked very well. Anyone who wants to move to North Korea is welcome.” - Bill Gates
Critics state that India isn’t a mixed economy anymore, specially after the liberalization policies post 1991. India isn’t definitely a through and through socialist economy nor is it an out and out capitalist driven one. So what do they call it? Nothing yet, sadly.
“My father would have slapped me if I wished to be PM” - Rahul Gandhi, Indian National Congress
India is in it’s growing period and with the elections around the corner, political candidates have been either been pro-Karl Marx or pro-Adam Smith, two different people with extremely different but competing theories, both excellent in theory, nonetheless. Deciding what is more beneficial for a country like India is extremely difficult, thanks to the fragmentation. Hence, our mixed-economy ploy has still been the one we side with.
Instead of devising an economic structure devised to facilitate the ideologies of capitalism and socialism and truly creating a mix economy our politicians and policy makers use pepper spray at parliament sessions.
Political parties during elections have various manifestos and points of discussions along-with “revolutions” waiting to happen, it is extremely simple and clear once you look at the history of the political parties as to where they stand as far as the economic system is concerned, since most of them don’t come out openly and discuss it anyway. Plus, I highly doubt that India actually needs a revolution. We’ve had plenty of revolutions and what we need now is a system to hold the elected officials and policy makers responsible for their behaviour and have higher standards when it comes to our politicians.
“Most of the manifestos put up by the political parties contain more false promises than on the box of something you order from those Tele-Shopping companies.”
Political parties in India are never crystal clear as to where they stand on economic reforms and the economic system. For an extremely obvious reason, nonetheless: The campaign funding comes from huge corporate houses and the majority of the votes come from the “common man” It is an extremely tough decision to have an agenda about which side the forming-government wants to be at. However, with the recent trends it does seem like India is a closet capitalist, waiting for the right opportunity.
We have seen some major (on paper) developments in respect of the up-liftment of the have not’s in the past few years with the SEZ and the SRA development schemes, policy makers have been patting themselves on the back since years about this and this is how the government has been justifying and sticking with the “mixed economy” system. In theory all of these policies and schemes which have been deployed sound terrific but sadly when it comes to practicality, the rich can even get away with murder.
Agendas which aren’t precise and promise something concrete, not only confuse the voters and the citizens but also put a stop to both the direct and the indirect investments from non-Indians. Our agendas are not focused, nor are they clear. A one-track agenda from a political party is extremely important when it comes to the economic systems, reforms and regulatory bills concerning the development and the openness of an economy. A simple example would be that of the issue of Foreign Direct Investment in Retail, when put to vote in the house, it won with a majority and yet candidates running for election are saying they are against it. Things which are said in public by a potential Prime Minister have a huge impact on the mindset of the foreign investments which is not good for the economy.
“This morning…I got up at night” - Rahul Gandhi, Indian National Congress
I do often meet skeptics who use the first line of their fifth grade economics textbook to challenge capitalism by stating “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” These skeptics, henceforth referred to as socialists believe that corporate houses are evil and that the ‘community’ can handle things better when given the chance.
The socialism debate is over, socialism lost. Socialism also quit in 48 days.
Socialism on paper sounds like a neat concept, a win for everybody in a community and death to all the giant corporate houses who have only one motive: profit. However, in practicality it is extremely hard to actually enable the functioning of such an ideology. Ask a socialist about why they believe in socialism and they start ranting about how capitalism ensues war and that socialism is not only an ideology but also a revolution.
“Socialists are just hipsters with a different agenda.”
Revolutions are more easier said than done, like most things in life. The idea of having something so unforgiving like capitalism which apparently is the leading cause of war is not only saddening but also terrifying to many. Socialists sometimes believe that they are talking about democracy and even though democracy isn’t a form of an economy, socialists keep claiming that it is. There have been way too many articles talking about how liberalising the economy is theoretically the same as democracy. Bringing everybody to the table and giving them a fair chance to compete? I am on board! However, before getting excited, you have to understand that democracy in economics isn’t and can’t be a thing, it is too linear as a concept and easily corruptible and broken. People who compare an economic system with a form of government just to sound smart should probably write for BuzzFeed.
What is Democracy? (Hindi)
Socialism is not a bad ideology when it is confined to a bunch of hipsters in a basement smoking up joints and talking about anarchy. It does become a hinderance when you have a country to run. However, even America’s economy system has some socialist ideologies inculcated into their economic system.
Every public service, public infrastructure and government benefits schemes are based on the socialist ideology.
It is time to come out of the closet. Indians were born capitalists, we love our dirty politics and mind-games and obviously not to forget: money. Our competitions are usually unfair and we are sore losers. All these qualities make us a perfect country to go pro-capitalist. What are we waiting for? Seriously?
“Women Empowerment” - Rahul Gandhi, Indian National Congress