India Uncut

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Liberalisation? Where?

In an Op-Ed I'd written for the Wall Street Journal Asia last year, The Myth of India's Liberalisation, I'd argued that "most of the country is still denied access to free markets and all the advantages they bring," and that India's so-called liberalisation "was half-hearted and limited to a few sectors, and nowhere near as broad as it needed to be." Indeed, it is a scandal how we keep gushing about India's growth rate when poverty is still so pervasive in this country, and economic inequities are so entrenched.

The problem here is not liberalisation, but the fact that the kinds of liberalisation that would most benefit the poor haven't yet taken place in the country. (An example is product market liberalisation, as Ravikiran explains here.) In my article I'd referred to Law, Liberty and Livelihood, the excellent book edited by Parth Shah and Naveen Mandava that details out many of the ways in which the state still oppresses poor people, and makes it hard for them to earn a livelihood.

Well, if more examples are necessary, Madhukar Shukla lists some absurdities from Delhi. Examples:
You can buy as many cars, trucks, vans, scooters, mobikes, etc., in Delhi/NCR as you can afford. However, you can buy only one cycle-rickshaw, by law.

Delhi government is also quite liberal for those who can afford to buy a car, truck, van, scooter, mobike, etc. However, Delhi govt has a limit of sanctioned quota of 99,000 licenses that it will/can grant to the cycle-rickshaw pullers.
And so on. The rich ride a gravy train, the middle class get by, the poor are positively screwed.

And their problem isn't liberalisation, but the lack of it.

(Link to Madhukar's post via Desi Pundit.)
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