India Grows at Night : A Liberal Case for a Strong State
When two Indians sit down to sip chai, they quickly agree that their country seems to be rising despite the state, and cynically express the idea of private success and public failure as ‘India grows at night while the government sleeps’. But how could a nation become the world’s second fastest growing economy despite a weak, flailing state? And shouldn’t India also grow during the day? The recent slowdown is a sign that India may have begun to experience the limits of growing at night. What India needs, Gurcharan Das says, is a strong liberal state. Such a state would have the authority to take quick, decisive action; it would have the rule of law to ensure those actions are legitimate; and finally, it would be accountable to the people. But achieving this will not be easy, says Das, because India has historically had a weak state and a strong society.
‘Why should it take us 15 years to get justice in the courts or 12 years to build a road?’ argues Gurcharan Das.…You need a strong state and a strong society, so the society can hold the state accountable. India will only get a strong state when the best of society join the government and China will only get a strong society when the best Mandarins go into the private sector.’ --Tom Friedman, New York Times, 6 February 2013
‘The book raises some excellent questions...India is an open tolerant country. So why does liberalism not flourish there? Mr Das insists that liberal ideas offer the clearest answer to many of India’s woes. Corruption, for example, will not be beaten with a big, new authoritarian bureaucracy, as anti-graft protesters want. Instead discretionary powers must be wrested from dodgy bureaucrats and politicians, the state made smaller, and markets allowed, openly and freely...Mr Das’s celebration of liberalism is admirable.’ --The Economist, 10 Nov 2012
“Das has written a timely book that deserves to be widely read. And it has its share of hard-headed proposals....Simply calling for less government is no answer, says Das. It needs also to be strong. Indian capitalism needs an honest referee...India has much to celebrate nowadays but also faces a cacophony of institutional challenges....Das’s core argument is right and urgent." --Ed Luce, Financial Times, 25 January 2013