Waiting for the Mahatma

Economic freedom fighters wanted

It may be a cliche, but apart from a few determined organisations, India’s apalling lack of economic freedom does not seem to bother public opinion enough for it to become an ‘ahem mudda‘. Given that the lack of economic freedom affects a vast majority of Indians it is probably due to the abstractness of the concept of economic freedom that it does not allow it to surface as a topic for national public debate. The phrase ‘economic reform’ has hijacked public mind-share, as if reform were a goal in itself.

A century ago, Mahatma Gandhi delivered his most brilliant masterstroke when he was able to encapsulate all the abstractness of political freedom into a simple mantra and package with a simple do-it-yourself tool to help achieve it. There is both hope and despair in this analogy – the good news is that it is possible, the bad news is that it requires another Mahatma. The consensus these days is that Mahatmas are hard to find.

Related Posts: On economic freedom.

4 thoughts on “Waiting for the Mahatma”

  1. That is a brilliant piece of analysis!
    Gandhi might or might not have been a saint, but no one can question his genius otherwise.
    Gandhi had a rather simplistic solution in the form of the Chakra, but the lessons it brought to light are amazingly deep and powerful. If we can get a similarly simple and powerful idea out today, we could get the entire Indian populace to rally behind it, inspite of the vested interests of powerful lobbyists who might be affected. What is that idea, I do not know, but the very idea that such an idea could exist is – well – cool!

  2. Reform is an end in itself in today’ scenario. If only the govt can reform itself and exit where it is not needed, if there could exist an India of free-trading cities and towns with the govt only enforcing law and order, if a unified market and merit-based access to credit became a genuine reality, if freedom of information were guaranteed and the right to enterprise were enshrined in the constitution as a fundamental right….aaah, now we’d really be talking, eh?

  3. Sudhir, you are absolutely right. However if you have to capture the imagination of the masses, what you need is an idea with the following features:
    1. It has to be simple and straightforward enough so that it cannot be misintepreted
    2. It has to be targeted against a known foe – in this case poverty
    3. The results should be quick to show and easily measurable.
    You could call it Utopian!

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