A Union for Lakshmi
We need to discuss the next question: why will those who delivered Ram be unable to deliver Lakshmi?
This is a question that was first asked in a different way by Adam Smith in 1776: what creates the wealth of nations? In other words, why are some nations rich and others poor? It is a question that has been at the core of economics and even more central to public choice theory, a subspecialty which takes the tools of economics and applies it to the study of voters, politicians and bureaucrats.
This is a question that was also central for the founding fathers of the US and at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. All one has to do is to read the American Constitution – and yes, it is very readable at 4,543 words in plain English. They put the limits on those in power and diffused power among the three branches of government – to ensure the freedom of Americans was never compromised or intruded upon.
The answer to why the leaders who delivered Ram (or India’s Independence) can never deliver Lakshmi lies in understanding their motivations. From Nehru to Indira to Modi, the single driver for every leader is power – and the desire to stay in power for as long as possible. Everyone wants to be Emperor (or Empress) of India. And that means using the full force of government to alter the lives of people. It results in more interventions in people’s lives – with every such act, however well-intentioned it may seem, working as an obstacle to Indians bringing home Lakshmi. The biggest ally of the government in its mission to control the Indian economy is the Indian Constitution which actually mandates government interventions anywhere and everywhere.
To bring home Lakshmi, Indians need the government to do only a few things – protect private property, enforce contracts, maintain law and order, and secure the borders. That’s it. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll: “If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.” It is not an easy thing to understand – we grow up in a family which is the epitome of paternalism and socialism, we are led to believe that the world has to have a designer, and we see all sorts of government institutions around us. If someone is not in charge, how will things get done?
Adam Smith answered this question in 1776. Unfortunately for us, none in India absorbed the full meaning of Adam Smith’s ideas as we were busy dealing with the British for the next 170 years. When the opportunity came in 1950 to craft a new set of rules for India, the blueprint used was the 1935 Government of India Act rather than the 1789 American Constitution.
Mission Lakshmi needs individual, political and economic freedom while a politician or bureaucrat in power seeks to perpetuate his or her power and control. If only we are left free to ‘mind our own business’, Lakshmi will make her way into our homes. It is not an easy idea to understand – especially for those in power who have the monopoly on the use of force to control our lives repeatedly.
Our leaders – politicians and bureaucrats – in whom we have faith are the real enemies of our prosperity. All we need to understand is human nature to figure it out. Their self-interest lies in wanting power and wealth for themselves, not freedom and prosperity for us. If we want to move from Mission Ram to Lakshmi, a new union will need to be crafted. A union where we, not they, are the alternative. A union with an agenda to dismantle decades of anti-prosperity rules and regulations. A union to ensure our lives are our own and our businesses are our own – neither is there for the government to mess around as it pleases. A union for freedom.
Bharat needs a Nayi Disha – a mindset switch from Ram to Lakshmi. And for that, we need a majority of Indians to unite and create a government of freedom, not intervention, in the next election. Only then will Lakshmi come into the home of every Indian and the real civilisational project of Mera Bharat Mahan be complete.