The Indian Economy Blog

September 12, 2005

Taking Economic Liberalism To The Masses

Filed under: Politics,Regulatory reforms — Amit Varma @ 7:18 am

Ramesh Venkataraman feels that “[t]he problem with reforms is not with the Left,” but with the Right. He writes in the Indian Express:

Liberal economics must shed the taint of being the “dogma of the rich” that the Left has attached to it and liberalisation shown to be in the best interests of the broader populace. This means that our champions of reform have to leave their elite, English-speaking circles and plunge into the rough and tumble arenas of vernacular India to openly challenge the Left’s monopoly on speaking for “the people”. For instance, why can’t the case for relaxing restrictive labour laws be made in terms of creating opportunities for the millions of young people coming into the workforce every year all across the country? Or why not present PSU privatisation as eliminating the squandering of government funds, a material fraction of which comes directly or indirectly from taxes borne by lower income groups?

There are three reasons to be cautiously optimistic that the language of economic liberalism will strike a responsive chord amongst the people. First, anti-statism is arguably closer to the ethos of much of India’s population and, right from the days of the Indian National Congress, has appealed to a core electoral base. Second, the fruits of reform are now enjoyed by a broad swathe of our society, not just the middle classes. Finally, the exposure provided by satellite television, combined with the increasing reality of upward mobility in our society, is giving even those who are not yet beneficiaries of liberalisation a stake in its success.

Yes, we need a Swatantra Party. But who will step forward to build one?


  1. Well, such a party is in formation. “Based on the principles of Open Society, Free Economy, and Limited Government, Samudai Bharati will engage in electrol polictics to bring about a more responsive, transparent and accountable government….” For more details, visit Samudai Bharati will be officially launched on March 22, 2007.

    If any of you are interested knowing what Samudai Bharati currently upto or to simply exchange views on how Samudai Bharati will go about doing what it intends to do, please email me at or at

    Comment by piyushgupta — September 12, 2005 @ 7:49 am

  2. Sounds good in concept. But elimination of subsidies, and un-restricting the actions of business, when some of these business make enormous sums of money, does not play well with the masses. Liberalism favors the free play of incentives – and with it, the possibility of gross inequality. Demagogues can easily pander to free-lunch and egalitarianist instincts of the masses, particularly when the underlying logic of liberalism is, however valid, less than transparent.

    Comment by Roehl Briones — September 12, 2005 @ 11:11 pm

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