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Center for Civil Society: liberals, reason, and power




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Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
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I consider Dr Parth Shah, the founder of the Centre for Civil Society,
to be
a close intellectual ally and a fellow classical liberal, even though we
are
not  personal friends.    I came to know his name in 1988 in Hawaii from
Dr
Shyam Kamath when the three of us were literally just about the only
three
Indian classical liberals around, a very lonely existence.    Dr Shah
told
me in 1997 that he had come to known my name from Milton Friedman and
other
American and British classical liberals.    As such, I agree with much
of
what his Centre, and that of Barun Mitra, the Liberty Institute, believe
to
be right for India.

However, it appears to me, and I have told Dr Shah this, that the Centre

cannot without contradiction maintain itself to be politically neutral
and
at the same time be as closely identified with the Congress Party
President
as it has been recently.    There is nothing of course wrong in being
identified with the Congress or any other party as such, and if the
Centre
has been contributing to converting the present Congress to a classical
liberal agenda, that will be to the good.    One should merely  have to
admit for sake of consistency that one wants to see those whom one
supports
displace those presently in power, i.e. that one is partisan.
Certainly
that was my position in assisting the present Congress President's  late

husband when he was the Congress President and Leader of the Opposition
in
1990/1991.    For myself, I have been sympathetic to Mr. Vajpayee since
1996, but have almost given up trying to convert anyone any more to a
classical liberal political or economic philosophy.    At a Liberty Fund

Conference at Oxford in 1978,  Peter Bauer told me something which I am
now
able to understand: he said that what classical liberals like himself or

myself or others normally failed to grasp is the nature of political
power,
how to get it, how to hold on to it at any cost.   Both Marxists and
fascists of all persuasions tend to be very good at doing just that even

while the classical liberal flails away gassing about the light of
reason.

Subroto Roy



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