[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Why Indians Hate Capitalism ?
I have been a silent spectator so far, but the interesting debate on
Capitalism v/s Socialism has prompted me to forward the following article
by a leading private sector manager in India. It appeared in Times of
India sometime back.
> Subject: Why Indians hate capitalism By GURCHARAN DAS
> The Times of India
> Tuesday 17 March 1998
> ``THERE is an eternal dispute between those who imagine the world to suit
> their ideas, and those who correct their ideas to suit the realities of
> the world,'' wrote Albert Sorel. It is this problem which is at the heart
> of Shanti Swarup's attack on me (February 27). He accuses me of
> trivializing the modernisation vs westernisation debate in ``Culture
> Complexes'' (February 9). He may well be right, but I think the real
> difference between us is that he has fallen into Sorel's trap in believing
> that the world fits his obsolete ideas, rather than in seeking to
> understand a changed reality.
> Often I ask myself why is it that so many Indians, especially
> intellectuals, hate the market. There are two reasons I can think of. One,
> no one is in charge in the market economy and this causes enormous
> anxiety. And two, we tend to equate the market with businessmen. Since we
> think that businessmen are crooked we tend to transfer this negative image
> to the market. Hence we feel the need for the heavy hand of government to
> keep the market in line.
> Because the market is invisible nothing one can say seems to convince
> people that the market is morally blind--that it is merely an arena in
> which people buy and sell. We forget that the market is, in fact, the best
> ally of the ordinary citizen, because it forces businessmen to compete. It
> is like democracy, in this respect, which forces politicians to compete.
> This suspicion of markets is magnified when it comes to the global
> marketplace, for there truly no one is in charge. Hence all our anxieties
> get multiplied and for this reason MNCs, FIIs, become obvious targets. And
> to diminish the anxiety we take comfort in Hindutva and the familiarity of
> swadeshi objects.
> Mr Swarup and I agree that to be modern is to subject our ideas, and
> attitudes, as well as our production methods and systems to the test of
> reason and experience and retain what is tenable and shed what is not. In
> light of the experience of the last eighty years, it is clearly irrational
> and unmodern to retain our attachment to socialism (despite the historical
> The problem with socialism is of performance, not of faith. If socialism
> had worked we would all be socialists today. It was the noblest vision
> that man ever had--to build a compassionate society which would sweep away
> poverty and oppression. Alas, every time it was tried it led to statism
> and oppression. That evidence is no longer in dispute. A series of
> controlled experiments were conducted in the last fifty years on a scale
> that is the envy of every social scientist. Germany, Korea, Vietnam and
> China were sawed into two and capitalism was installed in one part and
> socialism in the other. In every case the capitalist part not only
> out-produced the non-capitalist one, but it also delivered freedom and
> Yet most Indians do not accept the market economy. Even my mother, who
> thinks that socialism was the work of the devil, believes in ``fair''
> prices and ``decent'' wages. Although she accepts that people must earn
> vastly different salaries in order to give incentives for performance, she
> complains that there is now too much greed in our society. Like most
> educated Indians she does not think, as I do, that better results will be
> achieved if people shamelessly follow their self-interest in the bazaar
> rather than lofty moral principles.
> Mr. Swarup says that Japan is a poor example of a modern society. He may
> well be right from the perspective of the five per cent well- fed, upper
> middle class Indians. But for the majority of our countrymen, who live
> degraded lives in desperate poverty, Japan is a modern utopia, which has
> delivered unparalleled prosperity, education, health and welfare to all
> its citizens --all of this in a couple of generations. Japan has its
> flaws, to be sure. But so does every society. We Indians, who are at the
> bottom of theheap on any scale of human welfare, would do well to put
> ourselves in the shoes of our less fortunate compatriots before we pass
> judgment on other nations.
> Mr Swarup has written much nonsense on the obsolete technology of MNCs,
> which keeps Indian firms permanently dependent. It is the usual gibberish
> from the over- active minds of the ``dependency school,'' which has no
> basis in the real world and shows a total lack of understanding of how
> companies operate. An MNC, like any company, invests in order to succeed
> in the market place, and it will employ whatever technology it takes to
> win. If it employs old technology against a competitor with the latest
> technology then it clearly shoots itself in the foot. MNCs have no
> interest in neo-colonial constructs.
> Mr Swarup has not addressed the main issue in my article: can one be
> modern without becoming Western? This is unfortunate, for if he had then
> he would have truly furthered the debate on modernization.