Bihari wheels of protectionism

More than economic ideology, it is political expediency that drives Lalu’s trains

Atanu Dey points to an excellent article by Tim Worstall.

It is rare to find a single story that illustrates, in exquisite detail, all of the varied pro- and counter- arguments for free trade as opposed to managed or protected trade. In a nutshell, the Indian Railways Minister, a Mr Prasad, has refused permission to import railroad wheels into India, preferring to establish a factory in his home state of Bihar to make India self-sufficient in their production.

We may not be able to use either pork-barrel or parish-pump politics to describe that sort of behavior in a predominantly Hindu country but whatever the appropriate description we are not surprised at such actions when politicians are present. The real cost is here:

“Analysts predict that it will be many years before India can produce enough wheels to meet demand. The shortage has left 20,000 carriages awaiting wheels, and a similar number of old ones requiring replacements.”

What do you think will make the people of India richer? An indigenous railroad wheel manufacturing industry? Or a train system with 20,000 extra carriages on it and a further similar number running on new not old wheels? Please note that the industry will arrive after a decade of not having the new and repaired carriages. It isn’t really that tough a question is it? Simply another nail in the coffin for the idea that tariff barriers (whether you call them quotas, tariffs, permissions or licenses makes little difference) will make a country rich. [TechCentralStation]

Politicians like Lalu Prasad Yadav neither stupid nor mad, on the contrary they are extremely devious and clever, and know that plugging the most populist line will keep them in power. For what is the ‘reforms with a human face‘ policy of decidedly intelligent and sober economists like Manmohan Singh if not Lalunomics with an English label?

4 thoughts on “Bihari wheels of protectionism”

  1. I agree with your comment on Manmohan Singh. Lalu is not an economist. But Manmohan Singh is! The amount of damage that Lalu can do is limited by his ministerial power. But damage that Manmohan Singh has done by legitimizing the stupid policies is way more! It was C. D Deshmukh, who as a finance minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet, that screwed India by privatizing LIC and many other private financial institutions. It is not surprising that experts love to have concentrate power in hands. They believe they can really decide for others. They are worst than opportunists like Lalu.

  2. Cry, me beloved country….!!!

    Lez face it, itsthis false bogey of “secularism” that’s legitimised a lot of these buffoons to brazenly play the national stage now…Laloo has f*cked Bihar so completely, it defies words. I know of some otherwise well-meaning people who think Laloo is somehow ‘funny’ or “cute”….well, he’s neither. What he’s done to Bihar is certainly not funny. Time all right thinking people call his buffoonery for the tragedy it is and stop making some kinda semi-respectable pop-idol outta him….
    My 2 cents.

  3. My words exactly Sudhir.

    God alone knows what state this Govt will leave the country in by the time they fall as they must. (And the fall does not seem imminent very soon going by what happenned in Maharashtra.)
    Let me take a guess: We will be negotiating with Pak on what areas of Kashmir already with India that we should be keeping.
    Bangladesh would be openly laying claims to parts of the North East like Tripura and Assam, saying there are so many Bengali Muslims there (of course all illegals) that they form a majority. The rest of the North East would already be under the control of terrorists and the Naxalites (already being talked to) would be ruling large chunks of AP – and Chattisgarh and Orissa if Cong Govts come up over there by then.

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