The India That Might Have Been (Part 3)

Nayi Disha

He called his program for freedom and prosperity “Nayi Disha” – a new direction, a future of prosperity and possibilities. He laid out a plan for the journey ahead. He said that some changes will not be easy, but asked the people for their trust and patience. They had voted for a break from the past, a new future for themselves and their families. He outlined his two intertwined objectives for India’s transformation: Swatantrata and Samriddhi (freedom and prosperity). Central to this was the change in the role of government and its relationship with the people. No longer would the government be the anti-prosperity machine that had denied freedom and prosperity for past generations of Indians by intervening deeply in their lives and driving the best out of India.

The new government would get out of their lives and focus on what it should have done all along – maintain law and order and be a referee. The government would limit its role to enforcing contracts, preventing coercion, protection of property, and providing a stable monetary framework. It would not interfere in the economy. In short, be the “protective state” or the “night watchman state.” All agricultural, manufacturing and services would be produced in the private sector. The population would be highly urbanised. There would be public funding of primary health and primary education, and privately provided vocational and higher education. Social welfare would be provided by voluntary civic organisations. Domestic markets would be freed, and India would be completely open to international trade and investment. Liberty, non-discrimination, non-interference, limited government, and decentralisation – these were the principles for New India. Minimum government, maximum governance.

He also announced the Dhan Vapasi program: starting in six months, every Indian family would be paid a substantial dividend from the monetisation of the public assets that had been controlled by the government. In the past, these assets had been milked by politicians, bureaucrats and their cronies to enrich themselves. No longer. This was the public wealth of India, with every Indian having a share. The money from the monetisation would be returned to every Indian. This would give them the freedom to build their future lives. It would also bring into circulation the idle assets which would be another enabling factor for growth and prosperity.

He ended his speech by quoting Adam Smith’s words written in 1775: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” He hoped the Indian people would respond to their newly found freedoms and chart out their individual paths to prosperity.

Thus began the journey. As people saw the benefits, they took it forward. What had been one man’s vision became the daily actions of a billion. All he had to ensure was that the temptation of intervention was resisted. It wasn’t that difficult, after all.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.