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Re: Sanjeev's allergy to the word 'socialism'

Sanjeev Sabhlok wrote:
"I am against all kinds of dogmatism. But if we say that the word
socialism should be removed from the Constitution, and replaced by a
blank, that is not being dogmatic."
    The trouble is that we are carried away by the debasing of the term
socialism by those who have 'practised' it. It is wrong to equate it with
state capitalism, centralised planning, or bureaucratic governance of the
kind practised by us in India. In its original connotation, socialism
represented a set of values, a moral doctrine. The "doctrine asserts the
primacy and mutual dependence of the values of liberty, equality, and
fraternity." (See Bernard Crick, Socialism, Open University Press, 1987.)
One cannot exist without the other two. While, we may have different
theories and approaches to achieve our goals,I do not think that as a group
we would like to contest the basic values.
    At a practical level, if our policy paper asserts that we should delete
the word from the preamble, even if justified, we will not be able to build
any kind of national consensus. There is enough common ground between the
alternative economic and political theories to form the basis for sound
policy in the present Indian context. We should explore this common ground
and formulate the paper so that we can carry as many people with us as
possible. Our people already stand divided along several 'fault lines'.
are not in need of new provocations!

Sanjeev Sabhlok also wrote:
"I would strongly urge that the fundamental theorems of welfare economics
treated as a beautiful piece of art/maths and that we leave them in the
textbooks for young economics students to solve."
    I have started learning economics at a late stage in my life. Being a
student of mathematics, I wanted to see some mathematical proof of the
assumed 'efficiency' of the free market system. The only one I came across
is in the context of these theorems. If there are others, I am willing to
learn. Meanwhile, if the theorems can give me a set of working rules to
formulate public policy, I see no reason why I should jettison them.
     I believe that working rules somewhat on the following lines have a
good chance of finding wide acceptance:
    1. There are certain prerequisites for free markets to function
efficiently and deliver. The first duty of state is to bring about their
fulfilment. Any other role assigned to the state will require separate
justification. On the most effective means of fulfilling the prerequisites
there could be debate and consensus building.
    2. As important as policy is the transition to the new state of the
political economy. There is the process of adapting the present
instituitions, policies, and programmes to suit the new policy. First, we
should forge new instituitions, policies, and programmes that serve the
objectives of both efficiency and equity - these represent missed
opprotunites of a nation which is pulling itself up by the bootstraps.
    3. We can then begin eshewing all those institutions, policies and
programmes which are detrimental to both efficiency and equity.
    4. Simultaneously, evolve democratic mechanisms to achieve realistic
compromises on the existing institutions, policies and programmes in which
there is a conflict
between the objectives of efficiency and equity.


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