"India - The Next Decade" Sypmposium, |
October 8 & 9, 2010
Liberalism is built around the centrality of the human being: what is good for him - or her - is acceptable. What is not, is not.
The Liberal position on the economy is very clear. The business of the State is not business but government. In a liberal State, the individual is supreme and the State must work to further his or her potential. Therefore, the State will focus its activities on maintaining law and order, defence, physical and social infrastructure, health, education and a social safety net.
India's great Liberal Gopal Krishna Gokhale spelt out the Liberal dream when he said: "I recognise no limits to my aspiration for my motherland. I want our people to be in our country what other people are in theirs. I want our men and women, without distinction of caste or creed, to have opportunities to grow to the full height of their stature, unhampered by cramping and unnatural restrictions. I want India to take her place among the great nations of the world."
Another outstanding Indian Liberal D. V. Gundappa, even while spelling out the global nature of liberal values cautioned: "It has been India's habit all through history to turn to every corner of the globe for the light of truth and blessedness of wisdom. But she must be selective in taking things from others."
The role of the Indian State, which has jettisoned State Capitalism of the communist variety and embraced Market Economics, is on the one hand, to create an enabling environment for growth by unshackling the remaining vestiges of control, eliminating regulations that stifle development and do away with the 'inspector raj'; and, on the other, to build the confidence of the nation in the rule of law and in the legislative and legal systems.
In sum, the Liberal State seeks to build an equitable society, which by definition, is a just and fair society - a society where the State provides opportunities for growth. All human beings are not born equal if economic and social circumstances are the only criteria. It is the task of a Liberal State to provide them opportunities for growth irrespective of their caste, creed or status - economic or social. The State is the enabler, providing the required social and physical infrastructure. These include basic primary education, primary health care, easy availability of safe drinking water or water for irrigation, decent roads for easy connectivity, speedy justice and the maintenance of law and order. In an equitable society the individual matters. Hence Liberals seek growth with equity.
The policies of the Indian Liberal
Group spring from this philosophy.