Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Collapse of the ideology of socialism

Today socialism has its usefulness only as the vision of an ideal society. Socialism, in its effort to control excesses and transgressions of the private sector through state capitalism and controlled economies collapsed like a house of cards all over the world.

The problem of socialism is of performance, not of faith, and the price paid by the nations for this faith has been efficiency and its future prosperity.Almost all the socialist nations had made six specific mistakes: –

  • It adopted an inward looking, import substituting path, rather than an outward looking, export promoting route, thus denying itself the chance to share the world’s prosperity of the 70s and 80s,
  • It set up a massive, inefficient and monopolistic public sector, to which it denied the autonomy of working,
  •  It over-regulated private enterprise, thus diminished competition in home market,
  • It discouraged foreign capital and denied itself the benefit of technology and world class market,
  •  It pampered organized labour responsible for lowest productivity of labour and capital, and
  • It ignored primary education at the cost of higher education.

 The inherent weaknesses of socialism gave to the public want, deprivation, fear and dissatisfaction, which raised doubts in the minds of people allover the world about the efficacy of these principles. The whole atmosphere became suffocating once again for different societies.

Around 1990’s, yet another wave swept the world. Surprisingly, this time, it was led by capitalist ideology, which was supposed to have been defeated by now.

Since 1979, under Margaret Thatcher’s supervision, British Government that had a huge inefficient public sector and a heavily taxed private sector, started reducing its involvement in the economy boldly. Tax rates were cut and simplified. Her success fostered a fundamental change in people’s attitude towards the role of government.

Another example is of New Zealand. Alarmed that the country might finally become bankrupt, the Government, slashed welfare spending and sold off state owned enterprises running at loss. Price and wage controls were lifted, subsidies and trade barriers were lowered and Government employment was trimmed. The result was that New Zealand reduced its inflation to below 1% very soon.

Even communist leader and USSR President Mr.Gorbochov admired and watched her actions with interest. The collapse of the Soviet Union as socialist super power in 1990 effected adversely the commitment of the world to an egalitarian social order and towards socialism “as an ideology and a program”. One after the other, democratic countries started opting for liberalisation.

The shift from economic control to economic freedom took the shape of a larger global movement engulfing western democracies, former communist forces and almost all the developing nations. After experiencing destructive effect of tampering with market forces, many Western and Asian democracies switched over to free economies.

Economists collected the data of the yester years from the world over and concluded –

  • Those countries, which promoted private enterprise performed better than those dependent on state enterprise, Those nations, which encouraged foreign investments, did better than those who discouraged it,
  • Those nations, which opted for an export path with free imports or low tariff did better than protectionist nations,
  • Nations encouraging productivity through right labour policies did better.
  • The countries investing in primary education were better off and had brought down their population rates. Japan, Korea, Taiwan set the example and Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia followed. Latin America, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica etc., pursued the same success path.

 Now free economy is destined to shape the world of 21st century. Mr. Paul Johnson says very correctly, “the question, future historians will ask, is not why politicians and public opinion turned against the welfare state, but why it took them so long. Indeed, if ever a theory has been tested and disapproved, it is that of the all powerful, all benevolent state – a theory, that has led in practice to violence, to the death of millions of people and to the scorching of the entire economics and environments. Never before mankind has created such an all consuming monster. In both its totalitarian and social democratic versions, it has proved efficient in nothing except a capacity to squander resources and lives”.

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Era of ‘Committed Bureaucracy in India’ (1965 to 80)

 

With many of the old visionary leaders like Pt. Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties,  many changes took place in political climate, values and systems in India. A rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up during this period and there started a cult of committed bureaucracy. 

By the late sixties, a spirit of frustration and despair with `development administration’ and with `development’ in general had set in. For one thing, it became evident that externally induced modernization had failed to eradicate the basic problems of under-developed, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered. The same could be said of the growing gap between the rich and the poor nations or between different social strata within a nation.

The two wars of 1962 and 1965 followed by successive droughts in 1966 and 1967 put the economy under severe strain. It led millions to poverty and unemployment. Concept of easy money started taking birth. The politicians relied more on populist slogans rather than the real issues like population explosion, illiteracy, inadequate health care and poor social service programs.

During this period, in Mrs. Gandhis rule the political climate at provincial level started changing. Many new regional parties emerged at provincial level and came to power. Some states like Bihar, U.P., Haryana, and Punjab etc. witnessed political opportunism. Tall promises were made to win elections. Floor crossing, defections, attempts to topple Governments; betrayal of people’s faith and consequently political instability and frequent changes in provincial Governments became the order to the day. All this resulted in intensification of competitive politics.

Mrs. Gandhi, after becoming Prime Minister in 1966, felt very insecure due to the hold of syndicate in politics. But she refused to act as a puppet in the hands of the syndicate and, therefore a split in Congress took place in 1969. Insecurity made Mrs. Gandhi to get complete hold over the bureaucracy.

She and her colleagues could not appreciate the value of efficient and impartial civil services. They did precious little to check deteriorating standards of the service. The changes in the political complexion of the nation was reflected in the performance of civil services and its capacity to work impartially without any fear or favor.

During 1969 to 1974 personality cult was promoted. The officers were not expected to be as loyal to the Constitution, as they had to be to their ministers. Mrs Gandhi desired the bureaucracy to be completely committed to the ruling party. On a sustained and systematic basis, the process of committed bureaucracy flourished, thus undermining the integrity, values, ethos and confidence of the service. Officers were supposed to be the servicemen to carry out the orders of political bosses.

The simplest of the arm-twisting measures, which politicians took in their hands, was to take the power of transfers, posting, and extensions. It placed the officers at the receiving end. Political patronage gave encouragement to corrupt and ambitious officials. Shrewd officers, who could get away, if any wrong done, were given more importance.

Earlier, attention was paid to initial training, Departmental examinations in accounts, civil, criminal and revenue laws and varied experience to understand, what happens behind the scenes. The role of senior was crucial, both to impart professional knowledge and also to inculcate proper service values like honesty – intellectual and pecuniary, impartiality in dealing with the rich/powerful and the poor/weak, political neutrality and so on. Now professionalism of officers depends on amorality (meaning capacity to get done, what superior authorities wanted to be done) and proximity (meaning getting closer to people having authority and position).

Right or wrong, presence of laws, rules and regulations were irrelevant to smart officers. During Emergency in 1975, the trusted officers of the Congress Party were placed on crucial positions. Slowly, but steadily the service lost its capacity to be the true agents of healthy change. Bureaucrats of proven competence and integrity found it comfortable to toe the footsteps of the political leaders. Willingly more and more officers became a tool in the hands of politicians. Upright officers with some mission and neutral approach had been sidelined.

By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world. Events like industrial developments and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.

In 1970’s, the Government assumed a pervasive role of being the sole guardian of public interest and assumed tremendous authority in the name of socialism. The absolute authority intoxicated the politicians, making them trample over everything including the democratic institutions – bureaucracy being one of them. Subsidies registered substantial increase putting additional financial burden on the nation. In 1950-51, explicit subsidies amounted to only Rs. 41 crores. By 1960-61, this amount had risen to Rs. 93 crores, to Rs. 337 crores in 1970-71. It jumped to a hoofing Rs. 31,600 crore in 1980-81 and increase of 837%.

The green revolution brought prosperity to landowners of intermediate castes in the North. With it, a definite trend of rural orientation took place in the services. The demand for Reservation in Services arose amongst the newly emerging group. Political expediency put fire in it during late 70s. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world. Events like industrial developments and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.

In 1970’s, the Government assumed a pervasive role of being the sole guardian of public interest and assumed tremendous authority in the name of socialism. The absolute authority intoxicated the politicians, making them trample over everything including the democratic institutions – bureaucracy being one of them. Subsidies registered substantial increase putting additional financial burden on the nation. In 1950-51, explicit subsidies amounted to only Rs. 41 crores. By 1960-61, this amount had risen to Rs. 93 crores, to Rs. 337 crores in 1970-71. It jumped to a hoofing Rs. 31,600 crore in 1980-81 and increase of 837%.

The green revolution brought prosperity to landowners of intermediate castes in the North. With it, a definite trend of rural orientation took place in the services. The demand for Reservation in Services arose amongst the newly emerging group. Political expediency put fire in it during late 70s. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world. Events like industrial developments and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.

In 1970’s, the Government assumed a pervasive role of being the sole guardian of public interest and assumed tremendous authority in the name of socialism. The absolute authority intoxicated the politicians, making them trample over everything including the democratic institutions – bureaucracy being one of them. Subsidies registered substantial increase putting additional financial burden on the nation. In 1950-51, explicit subsidies amounted to only Rs. 41 crores. By 1960-61, this amount had risen to Rs. 93 crores, to Rs. 337 crores in 1970-71. It jumped to a hoofing Rs. 31,600 crore in 1980-81 and increase of 837%.

The green revolution brought prosperity to landowners of intermediate castes in the North. With it, a definite trend of rural orientation took place in the services. The demand for Reservation in Services arose amongst the newly emerging group. Political expediency put fire in it during late 70s.

In order to divert public attention from real issues, abstract issues like social justice, socialism, secularism, communal-ism were floated in the political world. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics. The developmental activities of the previous years could not keep pace with the challenges facing the country at that time. 

 

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

Democratic Socialism

 

Some people think that Democratic socialism itself is a contradiction in terms, as a socialist society or a planned economy cannot be democratic. The uneven distribution of economic power and benefits through manipulations of polity had created major distortions and problems for the smooth administration / governance. Mr. Paul Johnson, a historian of 20th century says, The more the State grows and impedes the free exercise of market forces, the more the quality of information deteriorates, and the more likely those decisions based on such an information, will be wrong.

A Polish communist Government planner says, In this crazy system, we do not know, the true cost of anything. We do not know which factories are efficient and which are hopeless. So we are continually reinforcing failure and punishing success. Mr. Subramanyam says, The hypocrisy of socialism developed along with centralization of authority, denigration of democratic institutions and strangulation of Panchayat Raj institutions as part of one integrated political process in the country. J Krishnamurthy said, Working for social welfare is to fill water into a pail that has holes. The more water is poured in it, the more it pours out and the pail remains empty.

Milovan Djilas, a Yugoslavian revolutionary and writer, who predicted the fall of communism and fought both Tito and Stalin, said The suppression of classes would be the first step towards the extinction of society… There can be no society without classes. The problem is how to create a balance between the classes, to prevent some from getting rich at the expense of others,”… “ The central problem is, how to distribute wealth without disrupting economic activity, while at the same time building a society based on human solidarity…. The future ideology of the reformist left must not become a barrier to the achievements of capitalism such as efficiency and the profitability of business.” Socialism aims “to prevent the oppression of one class by another…. It will never be possible to establish an ideal equilibrium among different social classes…There will always be injustice and inequality in the world, which will be the task of the social democrats to combat. …. “This idealism should not be confused with the chimera of establishing a society with rigid and permanent forms – I believe the more varied a society is, the better and more creative it will be.”

 

September 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

   

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