The Real Enemies
India’s real enemies have never been across our borders but in the highest positions of power within the country. India’s real enemies are our politicians (across all parties) and bureaucrats. They are visible everywhere and yet we refuse to see them.
It is not Pakistan and China that have caused our per capita GDP to languish at $2000 a year while the world average has risen to $12,000. It is not Pakistan and China who imposed the license-permit-quota-raj in the 60s and 70s. It is not Pakistan and China who impose high taxes on us. It is not Pakistan and China who squander our wealth in public sector undertakings. It is not Pakistan or China who have kept farmers trapped since 1950 by controlling their input and output prices. It is not Pakistan or China who have denied poor farmers jobs in manufacturing – because manufacturing at scale does not exist! It is not Pakistan or China who have controlled India’s education system and denied learning opportunities to children, generation after generation. It is not Pakistan and China who did demonetisation. It is not Pakistan or China who harshly locked India down during the pandemic and hurt the very people that needed to be uplifted. It is not Pakistan or China that still allow the use of British-era sedition laws.
Every decision that has impoverished India can be traced to the politician-bureaucrat combine. And yet, even now we worship them. We rejoice at the mere utterance of the word ‘privatisation’ of a (single) handful of entities and forget to ask why the government should even be in business via hundreds of entities across the country. We fail to see the imposition of tariffs for what it really is – mercantilism at its worst and a replay of failed import substitution policies of the past. We fail to see the innumerable barriers imposed on private voluntary exchanges and rejoice when an itsy-bitsy ‘reform’ is announced. We fail to see how a few cronies have always run India in cahoots with the politician-bureaucrat. We ask for facts and are given falsehoods. We speak in hushed private tones on WhatsApp Signal but are not willing to speak up about their misdeeds publicly – for fear of reprisals to our family and business. And yet we readily proclaim Pakistan and China as our enemies.
We turn a blind eye to the fact that almost every Indian channel and media entity has become a clone of Doordarshan and the Press Information Bureau. Pakistan and China have not done that; our own citizens have succumbed to the pressures from the politician-bureaucrat nexus. We turn a blind eye to the subjugation and capture of every independent institution – because it had also been done by other parties in the past, so now it is okay for the other side to do it. (For some of us, it is our side.) In fact, Indian democracy never got a chance to live. It was grievously injured by the colonial Constitution and then killed quickly with the First Amendment. We didn’t even notice.
Pakistan and China did not put obstacles on our path to freedom and prosperity; our politicians and bureaucrats did. Unless we open our eyes and understand this, we will not change our present and future. Our real enemies are those in power; it has always been the case. Just because we keep voting for them does not mean they will look after our interests or even the ‘national interest’. It is not replacing one of them with another of their ilk that will change the course of India. What we need is a new order, a disruptive innovation, a real alternative – one that takes power and the control of public wealth away from the politicians and bureaucrats and returns both to people.