India’s difficulty in advancing serious economic reforms is ultimately due to the lack of a home-grown intellectual tradition that can underpin them. The Congress Party, long a bastion of statist thinking, is proof of this proposition. But fresh evidence comes courtesy of the Aam Aadmi (“Common Man”) party, the rising anti-establishment movement that oddly combines an emphasis on clean government with backward economic views.
In far too many quarters, the reforms adopted during the 1991 economic calamity are regarded as the modern equivalent of the British East India Company, something imposed on the country by overwhelming external forces. Thus, no political leader of any note embraces reform as a concept and when it occurs nonetheless, it is usually the product of technocratic subterfuge. As business leader turned public intellectual Gurcharan Das noted the other week, India is bereft of “a liberal party that openly trusts markets and focuses on economic and institutional reform.”
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