Saturday, 1 August 2009

Chasing the Capitalist

"I do not know of any book that describes the impact of India's economic policies on her growth as analytically, logically and vividly as this one" - N.R.Narayana Murthy on "India Unbound" by Gurcharan Das.

The socioeconomic transformation of our nation has been well documented in this novel by the much acclaimed writer and public intellectual. If one is looking for a perfect introduction to contemporary India, it is here. Something tremendous has been happening in our country right since the dawn of 15th August 1947. India had to go through various phases in this epoch that started after the spring of hope in 1947. There was the lost generation in the era of 60s and 70s which went through Caste based demarcations, licensing blues and a surge in inequality. And then came the rebirth of dreams in the form of the "Golden Summer of 1991" and then we had a new country. We are what we are today, solely because of all the things that happened in the summer of 1991. Financial reforms came out in unbelievable speed and efficiency and the country was starting to enter the limelight.

In 1947 we were a free lot and there was a lot of enthusiasm and energy in the air. Nehru stood at the fore and showed signs of able leadership. Everything in the country started to happen in an organized fashion. Bureaucracy was the order of the day. The License Raj was at the helm. Entrepreneurs were a titular lot. This was the era of socialism. And soon, economists started realizing the negative implications of Nehru's ideologies. Things became worse when Indira Gandhi decided to build upon what her father had laid. The war in 1971 and the emergency that followed didn't help things anyway.

Our nation, which once was prey to dogmatic colonists in search of riches and treasures was becoming a poor nation after all. Harvard graduates were coming of age and the Indian top brass needed a good overhaul, when Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao gave powers to two such graduates Dr. Manmohan Singh and P.Chidambaram. And then, the rest is history. The economy began to grow leaps and bounds year after year after 1991. This was when the country went through a phase called liberalization. I would prefer to call this phase-"the quest of Capitalism". The west had proved a point which their capitalist methodologies and The tigers of Asia viz. Hongkong, Singapore, Japan et al. had followed suit by now.

The country allowed investment and gave powers to budding entrepreneurs. The bourgeoisie became a buzzword and reforms were underway to get its size soaring year on year. This growth was fueled by a variety of foreign investments mainly due to the abundance of highly skilled software professionals in the country and the open society that was on offer due to liberal tax regimes.

The book touches each of these eras and paints a clear picture of the Indian economy's trajectory over the past 60 years. Our economy has been one that should be placed right at the center of an imaginary line drawn between socialism and capitalism. The learned top brass that we have as our representatives today have carefully sketched the coordinates of the point on that imaginary line. Arguably, that has been the main reason for India's nonchalance and tactical brilliance in having avoided the traumatic consequences of the recent global slowdown.

Verdict: This book offers layman friendly discussions of economic theories of poverty and serves as a key guide to the country's recent past.


Arjun said...

Good ur reading a whole lot of good books!...nice..keep going!

vagabond911 said...

Glad to see the ManU Posters taken down.. My commendations for the same!

Vinay said...

Wasn't Manmohan a Cambridge or oxford graduate. I know Chidambaram did his MBA in Harvard but Singh? anyways good post..

pradeep sekhar said...

Ya I wasn't too sure of who came from where and all that. The intent was to convey the "ivy" background both these stalwarts have in common.