Freedoms we now know
- Spot-fixing: Chandila was in touch with four sets of bookies, says Delhi Police
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives, to hold talks with PM on boundary, water issues
- IPL 2013: Delhi Daredevils crash to defeat, finish last
- Jaganmohan's wife attacks CBI, accuses it of working at Congress behest
- Blast accused death: UP govt seeks CBI probe, FIR against 42 persons
Those born into certain freedoms will have no idea of what it is like to live without them. This is plain human psychology. So those born after India had done away with its official licence-permit raj in 1991-92 can barely imagine what it is like to stand in long queues to procure a cooking gas cylinder or a telephone connection. With more economic freedom and competition, India transformed itself from an economy of perennial shortages to one of choices, where producers started chasing consumers.
Some years ago, at an interaction with corporate chiefs in Mumbai, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dwelt on the question of new material comforts that would be taken for granted by subsequent generations. World-class roads and other urban infrastructure would be seen as par for the course by the next generation, he said. Last year, a taxi driver in Bihar told me how new roads to Bodh Gaya had cut travel time by half and made his Japanese clients very happy!
Of course, there is a flip side to being on the treadmill of rapid economic growth and globalisation.
Existing structures of the political economy get threatened and a heavy backlash is experienced from time to time, especially because there are winners and losers in the short run. This is the 20th year of economic reforms and there has been a lot of learning along the way.
Indeed, this is a good time to take stock of how economic liberalisation and India's deeper engagement with global trade and investment have shaped a new materialist consciousness in our society. This needs to be recognised, first and foremost. As any marketing guru will tell you, children are increasingly shaping the buying decisions of their parents, at least in urban India.
However, this new materialist consciousness has also created other myriad tensions in the political economy, which are still unresolved. India has 16 per cent of the world population and less than 3 per cent of natural resources like cultivable land, rainfall, forest cover, etc.
- Quake-hit and shaken, Bhaderwah spends nights in the open
- UP blast accused dies on way to jail, govt wanted to drop case against him
- Former civil aviation secy changes mind, seeks airport security exemption as EC
- BCCI suspects Gujarat players in other teams were also approached
- Police on money trail, Sreesanth in fresh trouble
- Chhattisgarh 'encounter' leaves 8 villagers dead, no Maoist link yet