This new Indian political party is all about the free market.
This is a story of how one man, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, set back the people of India for many generations—despite his good intentions. And it is the story about the herculean challenge even today to undo the colossal harm done by him.
Nehru was a giant among men. But his flaw was that he was a socialist. The harm he caused India as a result was proportionate to his stature; it was comprehensive and universal.
In his official biography JRD Tata (one of India’s greatest industrialists) reported that “Nehru once told me ‘I hate the mention of the very word word profit’. I replied: ‘Jawaharlal, I am talking about the need of the public sector making a profit.’ Jawaharlal came back: ‘Never talk to me about the word profit; it is a dirty word.'”
At around the same time, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore was telling his people that “You make profit into a dirty word and Singapore dies.”
This difference in perspective was at the core of the difference between the two leaders. And it also lies at the core of the difference in the performance of India and Singapore over the past 70 years.
Nehru formed his socialist and anti-business views during his education in England in 1910 when he became strongly influenced by the Fabian Society. Later, he was influenced (through VK Krishna Menon) by Harold Laski and other socialists. Advocates of liberty like Ludwig von and Mises and F.A. Hayek were barely audible. The first half of the twentieth century was the time when liberalism was being rapidly replaced across the world with different forms of socialism. Keynes and the Fabian socialists led the tearing down of liberalism and individual rights. And even though Milton Friedman personally tried to educate Nehru in the 1950s, Nehru remained too arrogant to listen.
Powered on by his faith, Nehru left no stone unturned to impose restrictive policies on India’s development. Property rights were destroyed, private businesses were taken over by the state. The perverse incentives Nehru imposed on India’s governance system tore apart the moral fabric of the society and made it one of the most corrupt on earth. His injection of socialism into the bureaucracy and political system shattered all prospects of accountability.
India today has less freedom than it had during British rule. It ranks close to the bottom of the world in global comparisons of freedom. A result of this is the subhuman living conditions experienced by the vast majority of Indians—despite the proliferation of high-end restaurants, swanky shopping malls and fashion boutiques since the liberal reforms of 1991. In fact, had IMF not forced liberal reforms down India’s throat, India may have been racked by civil war by now. Despite liberalization, around 60 districts in India are controlled today by Maoist Naxalites—outside the control of civil government.
That is because India’s youth is in deep distress. The majority of India’s population comprises youth below 30 who are mostly unskilled, poorly educated or uneducated, and are unable to perform any reasonable job competently. Around a million of these youth enter the workforce every year but 18 million are jobless. And most jobs are extremely low paying, anyway.
Populist socialist demagogue Modi marketed himself as a messiah in 2014 and India’s desperate youth voted for his vikas (development) promise. But Modi is a godchild of Nehru and has done absolutely nothing to change the socialist system. His promises have turned to dust. There is great bitterness among the youth.
India’s situation today is pathetic. Let no one be misled by the hype—largely government propaganda—about India. Few investors want to invest in India. Even Indian corporations are moving their money abroad and investing in countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam, Switzerland and the USA.
So what can be done? This should surely not be allowed to go on—for the future and well-being of a billion people is at stake.
The solutions stare at us in the face. Unfortunately, this requires our discarding the heroes and false ideologies of the past 70 years. India has no choice but to use its brains instead of its emotions. Socialism can have no place whatsoever in a civilised society.
India finally has a liberal party, the Swarna Bharat Party (the party for a golden India). I may add here that Swarna Bharat Party (SBP) is a liberal party in the classical sense, not in the socialist sense in which the word ‘liberal’ is commonly used in the United States.
Liberalism is the belief that we are born free and that freedom is the highest value. Liberalism is the idea that the common man is sovereign and the government is our servant. It is the belief that through their own free endeavors the people can achieve material (and for those so inclined, spiritual) prosperity. And it is the belief that if anyone is left behind—after putting his best foot forward—then the government should top up such a person’s income and lift him above dire poverty.
SBP is committed to a focus on law and order, competent and minimal regulation over free markets, a non-corrupt judiciary, low taxes, high quality infrastructure, sound money, and a business-friendly system. It is committed to separation of the state and religion—a basic condition of civilized society.
SBP has a huge challenge ahead of it. The task involves re-educating and re-orienting India.
We are growing slowly but steadily. I invite those interested in good governance to assess SBP’s manifesto and—if persuaded—to step forward to lead.
Sanjeev Sabhlok is the overseas coordinator of the Swarna Bharat Party.