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An ad from 1947: “The Uphill Task Ahead”

My friend Veer shared this advertisement from 1947.

uphilltaskahead

After 68 years, Indians are still fighting a war on poverty and it is still an “Uphill Task Ahead.” Very little has changed since 1947 in the economic environment, and what little change there has been regressive. Certainly relative to 1947, Indians have progressed but relative to others, India has slipped further behind.

Note that in the advertisement, the attitude is one of collectivization, that we have to mount a war on poverty by “closing ranks” and “unitedly attack”. That sets the stage for a top-down, command-and-control regime.

A country of free people should not resemble an army. Soldiers inhabit a hierarchical structure where orders flow from the top and they have no freedom in choosing whether or not to obey. That’s an obvious operational difference between an army and a society of free citizens. But there is a more salient functional difference too.

The basic function of a society is the production and consumption of wealth; the basic function of an army is not the production of goods and services but rather to resist foreign forces. By organizing or even conceptualizing a society as an army invariably leads to loss of civic freedom, and inspires fear and suspicion of all things not domestic. This distinction can be illustrated by examining the two Koreas. North Korea most closely resembles an army. Its citizens lead a Hobbesian existence — “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. South Koreans enjoy greater freedom and a materially rich life as a consequence of that freedom.

For India to prosper, Indians must somehow become free of the command-and-control regime that India inherited from its colonial masters, and Nehruvian socialism continued uninterrupted. The politicians who do the commanding and controlling of course have no incentive to grant freedom to Indians. Most tragically, though, Indians are not even aware that they are not free. They are still irredeemably committed to the task of fighting a war against poverty.

It is all karma, neh?

Atanu Dey on India's Development

Atanu Dey
Chapters
PJ O’Rourke: Every government is a parliament of whores
The Amazing Power of Technology
Swami Vivekanand: To the 4th of July
No True Islamic State
Herbert Simon — Information consumes attention
Yoga has no Religion
Hayek on “The Mirage of Social Justice”
An Open Letter to PM Shri Modi
Prefer a Functioning Economy
Political Discrimination is Socially Harmful
Markets & Competition
Ministry of Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy
John Stuart Mill on the Liberty of Thought and Discussion
Reading Ronald Coase
Universal Literacy
Man versus the State
What Comes Before
An ad from 1947: “The Uphill Task Ahead”
Pohela Boishakh, Vishu, and Puthandu Greetings
Rich People Spend More
Goodbye, Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Friday the 13th, Pi Day the 14th & Beware the Ides of March
Money is the root of all Evil
Warren Buffet’s Letter to the Shareholders
The Man Lee Kuan Yew Admires the Most
An Informed Citizenry is the Bulwark of a Democracy
Problems and Solutions
People I Admire – Part Doh
Nelson Mandela on Education
Criticizing Modern Indian Holy Cows Considered Dangerous
Richard Dawkins on the Monotheistic God
List of Pages on Teresa the Merciless
People I Admire
Lee Kuan Yew is under Intensive Care
On Monkeys, Cats & the Generality Principle
The Great Indian Bamboozle has to Stop
2400 hours of electricity for Delhi — every year?
Make India first to “Make in India”
Republic Day Thoughts on Reading the Constitution
A Day of Shame and National Mourning for India
The most dangerous man to any government
Socialism, Competition and Politicians
Open Thread: Ask me anything
Aakash, the “iPad Killer”, Vaporware has Evaporated
The Dreamer and the Dream
Circular Firing Squad of Flying Attack Monkeys Target Rajiv Malhotra
We need more Anandamide, not Jihadamide
Constitutions Matter in our Daily Lives
The Only Home We’ve Ever Known
Adam Smith on the Division of Labor
The Passing of Former President Mr APJ Abdul Kalam
Socialism Works its Wonders in Venezuela - also in West Bengal
Why the terrorists killed the satirists of Charlie Hebdo
Islam Poses an Existential Threat
The Wisdom of the Crowd
On Knowing Enough to Know that You Don’t Know
NITI — New Initiatives for Transforming India
Will India Recover?
The Unbearable Stupidity of Controlling Prices
Nov 14th as the “Day of Shame and Lamentations for India.”
The Indian Constitution — Part 2
Hayek on Valuing Individuals
Mr Modi goes to Washington