India Uncut

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On limitless markets

Chandrahas recently pointed to an old piece by Ramachandra Guha titled "In High Disdain -- Why Indian intellectuals and activists are hostile to the market," which puts forth some interesting views on why so-called intellectuals keep ranting about globalisation. (The kind who type their anti-market creeds using Microsoft Word on Lenovo laptops, while perhaps even wearing Levis jeans and Nike shoes. Suchlike.)

Guha is an essayist I respect enormously, and I have learnt much from his writings, but one particular para towards the end struck me as somewhat naive. This one:
The market does have its imperfections. One is that left to itself, it tends to pollute and degrade the environment. A second is that employers generally do not pay attention to the health and safety of the worker. A third is that without consumer vigilance and action, industrialists do not always deliver on quality. A fourth is that the market disregards those without purchasing power. A fifth is that one cannot rely on the market to deliver on goods and services whose value cannot be reduced to monetary terms, such as primary education and basic healthcare.
All of these are invalid points, and I was just about planning to write a post to explain why when I came across an excellent post by my friend Gautam Bastian that serves as a perfect riposte. If you agree with any of the points Guha has raised, then I recommend you read Gautam's entire post.

PS: I'd recorded a long interview with Guha a few months ago that I'd intended to be part of the first India Uncut podcast. But the logistics of doing a podcast all on my own are a bit daunting, and I've shelved those plans now. So I'll publish a transcript of the conversation I had with him soon.
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