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Learn from past mistakes and move on

The recent convulsions in the international financial markets have provoked an unseemly amount of gloating on the part of many in the developing world. What worries me, though, is the number of people in India who are saying similar things. "See, we were right in opposing all this liberalisation," one told me.

That presidents Fidel Castro and Mohammed Ahmedinejad should pronounce themselves vindicated by the crisis in global capitalism is hardly surprising, since capitalism has over the years been so strongly identified with America that both see the problem through the lens of their own anti-Americanism.

What worries me, though, is the number of people in India who are saying similar things. "See, we were right in opposing all this liberalisation," one told me, stressing that our intrusive regulatory system had saved India from a similar fate much earlier. Another approvingly quoted right-wing rants in the US about the dawning of a "Socialist Republic of America" and added, "We should nationalise the banks again - after all, even the Americans and Brits are doing it!"

They are wrong, and it's important to say so before too many people in our political classes find themselves persuaded by this lapse into historical amnesia.

Instead of integrating India into the global capitalist system, as only a few developing countries like Singapore so effectively were to do, India's leaders were convinced that the political independence they had fought for could only be guaranteed through economic independence. So self-reliance became the slogan, the protectionist barriers went up, and India spent 45 years with bureaucrats rather than businessmen on the "commanding heights" of our economy, wasting the first four and a half decades after independence in subsidising unproductivity, regulating stagnation and trying to distribute poverty. This only goes to prove that one of the lessons you learn from history is that history sometimes teaches the wrong lessons. It would be tragic if recent events in the world of finance led us to learn the wrong lessons again.

The reactionaries today seem quickly to forget that it took a humiliating financial crisis in 1991 (one in which the nation had to physically ship its gold reserves to London as collateral for an IMF loan) to prompt India to change course. And change course we did, for the better. A measure of the extent to which the globalisation debate had turned came for me a few months ago in Kolkata when I heard the chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, say: "Some people say globalisation is bad for the poor and must be resisted. I tell them that is not possible. And" - the emphasis is mine - "even if it were possible, it would not be desirable." When a Communist chief minister speaks that way about global capitalism, one can argue that debate is largely over.

Our rulers, in turn, mistrusted what ordinary people could achieve for themselves when they were freed to pursue their own prosperity within a framework of government-supported structures that ensured a level playing field, fair regulation and social justice (the model that came to be adopted in the western democracies, though increasingly dismantled in Republican-ruled America). Instead, they created a license-permit quota raj that denied Indian businesses the opportunity to prosper and grow.

The result was what was derisively called the "Hindu rate of growth", at which India chugged along at three percent while much of the rest of Asia shot ahead. Resources that the state could have spent on infrastructure development, education, health and agricultural reform went instead to massively inefficient public-sector projects that employed many and produced little.

It is sadly impossible to quantify the economic losses inflicted on India over four decades of entrepreneurs frittering away their energies in queuing for licenses rather than manufacturing products, paying bribes instead of hiring workers, wooing politicians instead of understanding consumers, and "getting things done" through bureaucrats rather than doing things for themselves. The disastrous inefficiencies of the system were masked by subsidies from the national exchequer, and a combination of vested interests - socialist ideologues, political opportunists, bureaucratic managers, self-protective trade unions and captive markets - shielded it fiercely from economic reality, as millions of Indians languished in poverty. Is this really what we want to return to?

In the last 15 years, India has pulled more people out of poverty than in the previous 45 - averaging some 10 million people a year in the last decade. The country has visibly prospered, and despite population growth, per capita income has grown faster and higher in each of these years than ever before. The current financial crisis, far from prompting us to retreat, is an opportunity to safeguard those gains and to build on them. For more than four decades India suffered from the economics of nationalism, which equated political independence with economic self-sufficiency and so relegated us to chronic poverty and mediocrity. Let us not condemn Indians again to repeating the mistakes of that unlamented past.

For the full text, click on:

Plain melodious music as far as I am concerned. This is about the best essay that I have read in the recent past on the current economic scenario, and the lessons thereof for India. I generally bother to counter all Socialisic rhetoric myself. But, this one essay has now left me happily jobless. All I now need to do is to forward the link.

Muralidhar Rao

psaram42's picture

Melodius Music

Murali sir, We understand. It has to be melodious because Socialistic rhetoric is jarring music to you as per your own admission. For me Capitalism and Socialism are the two faces of the same coin. Survival of the fittest is the law of Nature, which can be equated to Capitalism. Socialism is the product of level headed Intelligence. Though I don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, I think we are at the top rung of all living species. I am for capitalism that is survival of the fittest. However Murali sir, don’t you think the playing field should be level? I had the good fortune of getting good education because my father could afford and made me study. I was allowed to see one movie in a year. I had to be at home by 6 PM. I am what I am to day because of the education. Another aspect which comes to my mind is why are we bothered about the environment? Why is the law about protecting Tigers and Other endangered species on this earth, for that matter? Is it Socialism I wonder? The current Meltdown is due to failure of the Banking system in USA. Other Capitalist nations have been taken unawares, as they trusted the Americans. Lehman Bank the culprits were first to become bankrupt naturally. People who have lost money deserved to loose.
s_yajaman's picture

Very good points


You make an excellent point.  people forget that children from well off families begin with a massive headstart.  They go to (in general) better schools, their peer group is better informed, their parents are more educated (all in general).  Comparing their 90% with a poor boy's 50% does not work.  In villages I would think that children from lower castes might not even have decent access to the school. 

I was chatting with a Swede last week and he was telling me that in Sweden no child will ever be denied an education or healthcare or a loan regardless of their economic or social background.  The philosophy is that children are not responsible for their parents' sins.  Of course it comes with a very heavy tax rate and other problems (not enough motivation to achieve).  The balance is always hard to find.  Singapore is a country which believes in Social Darwinism and there is no safety net except what you have saved. 

For all the USA's tomtomming that they are the ultimate capitalists, the capitalists were the first to run for the bailout.


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

asj's picture

The other side of the coin

Well, this article was discussed elsewhere and I am now having to reproduce my views again, not difficult given the joys of copy+pasting.

But before I do so, here is what a Psychiatrist has to say about Darwins theory of survival. Darwin was absolutely spot on, his observation that fittest survive however applies to animals more than humans. Animals do not have well developed frontal lobes and hence no capacity to think, thus they can't go beyond fight-or-flight survival mechanisms. In contrast humans have been bestowed with the frontal lobe and with its thinking ability a way of surpassing primitive instinctual mode of being (living). Socialist welfare states as pointed above by Srivathsa with a very lucid example of Nordic states is testimony to humans going beyond Darwin, its testimony to humans being ablole to be creative and co-exist.

Now I copy-paste some other views shared elsewhere -

Tharur will be first to agree that we need to learn from not just the mistakes of our first 40 years but all of 60, including the 20 years of economic liberation. Indeed he joins many others in rightly challenging the way the rehab of 550 acres of Dharavi slums is planned, click here

 The 60 years that have gone by do not equate as failure of the model that proposes social welfare state to stand alongside capitalism. Its best described as a failed Nation thanks to corruption, selfishness and greed. The EU has enough number of countries that pove that socialism and social welfare states alongside capitalism can co-exist happily.

Todays SEZs are nothing different from the licnse raj and subsidy of years gone by. Todays Nizams are being given thousadns of acres and return the state gets almost nothing, in fact its 5 years of tax loss amounting as pointed above to money (177,000 crores) is 20 times more than today's infrastructure costs across all cities - the Nation could be transformed. Instead, the SEZ owners by virtue of their proximity to cities are not having to throw a dime towards roads, rail, shipping or air transport (all this is in place). And then, we will lose agricultural land - something so vital for food security of 1.5 billion (eventually) people. But how does one place value on agricultural lnd that can feed 4.5k crore people year after year after year (perpetually if its looked after), not to mention that it has fed 1000s for centuries already. And any one who argues that SEZs will bring lots of jobs is yet to study the impact of automation - to give an example - Bajaj produced 2.5 million vehicles with 10500 workers in 2005 as against 1 million in 1990s with 24000 workers. Agriculture in India today occupies 60% of the country, many very poor farm workers but its a sector that feeds every mouth in this country. Bajaj produced 2.4 million vehicles in 2005 with 10,500 workers. In 1990s they used to make 1 million vehicles using 24,000 workers.

At a time when the Govt should be raking in revenues via taxation and also starting a mandatory National Insurance scheme for providing health care for all free along with housing and subsistence, we are only ensuring that billions of Rupees are pocketed by select few.


Further, on the other thread, Murali Sir stimulated more use of frontal lobe -

Murali Sir suggested -

So, the economic liberalisation of the last 15 years has done a lot of good actually. Admittedly, there have been many distortions, and they need to be corrected, and that's where government's efforts needs to be concentrated. They should be framing policies whereby TATAs and TVS would be encouraged to operate efficient and affordable bus services, instead producing cars and mobikes; Mukesh Ambani gets into harnessing solar power and making it available to common man at affordable rates, rather than indulge in the vulgarity of his 'Antilla'; Anil Ambani builds a world-class football team from out of the boys playing at Cooperage in his backyard, instead of trying to buy out Aston Villa (or whatever), Nandan Nilekani makes India the knowledge capital of the world instead of having to worry about how to get the cars of his staff to reach office on time; Dr Devi Shetty leads a consortium to take over all the government hospitals to offer affordable healthcare to aam aadmi rather than saving just a child here or there; Hiranandani builds affordable housing for the Dharavi lot rather than just the fancy flats for the super rich in Powai; ITC transforms the agrarian economy rather than just operate a few e-chaupals here and there.I would like to believe that many of the Indian industry leaders would welcome such policy initiatives from the government, and the present economic melt-down I am sure will make the others also review their approaches. Now, it's for the government to get its act together, and fast.To quote Gurudev Tagore - to that heaven of freedom (and prosperity), my father, let my country awake.

And I wondered what is stopping the capital flow and investments from reaching the rural -

UN changed the norms for poverty line recently in keeping with cost of living, effectively nulling any gains and pushiing those below poverty in India to 48% - so much for poverty eradication.

You are right, when you wonder why they indulge in the vulgarity of 'Antilla'; Anil Ambani builds a world-class football team from out of the boys playing at Cooperage in his backyard, instead of trying to buy out Aston Villa (or whatever), Nandan Nilekani makes India the knowledge capital of the world instead of having to worry about how to get the cars of his staff to reach office on time; Dr Devi Shetty leads a consortium to take over all the government hospitals to offer affordable healthcare to aam aadmi rather than saving just a child here or there; Hiranandani builds affordable housing for the Dharavi lot rather than just the fancy flats for the super rich in Powai; ITC transforms the agrarian economy rather than just operate a few e-chaupals here and there.

But I disagree when you place the onus solely on the Govt because as far as I know there is nothing stopping the FDI and SEZs going to BIMARU states. In fact Bihar gets about 1% of the FDI - why? Who is stopping Tata's from going to barren lands of Rajasthan and building the Nano plant there?

To add to your Tagore quote, I quote Gandhi who said 'when everyone does what they can do, this would be a different country'.

So let the Ratanbhai, Anilbhai, et al start cuffing up the taxes rather that shop for tax free resorts.


Now here are some facts from 

The resources needed to eradicate extreme poverty are "a mere fraction of the resources available, globally and in most countries", says Mr. Jolly. "The cost of accelerated action must be measured against the cost of allowing poverty to grow ‹ that is, against continuing political conflicts and instability, against continuing poverty and disease in large parts of the world, and against affronts to humanity and human sensibilities."

The additional costs of providing basic social services for all indeveloping countries is estimated at about US $40 billion a year over the next 10 years. This amount is less than 0.2 per cent of the world income of US$ 25 trillion. The sum needed to close the gap between the annual income of poor people and the minimum income at which they would no longer be poor is estimated at another US$ 40 billion a year. Thus, to provide universal access to basic social services and transfers to alleviate income poverty would cost roughly US$ 80 billion, or less than the combined net worth of the seven richest people in the world.

Every developed nation has found a way of distributing wealth and creating level playing arena, capitalism and socialist welfare states are known to co-habit very successfully all over EU and North Americas (and down under) - so what is stopping us from arriving at the right balance. It means heavy taxation, but it means more prosperity and freedome from being influenced by Darwin's rule - make no mistake, every uprising in the past has been against the chosen few who amassed wealth at cost of others - if people think that survival of fittest applies to humans and those who earn a living are more entitled to worldly pleasures than those who can't then like the balance of how 'fittest' is defined can be titled in no time - The Tsar's in Russia, the French Revolt, the history of introduction of Poor man's law leading to National Insurance scheme, the Bevereidge report and finally the NHS in UK - they all suggest one thing, that when a chosen few think they are above the rest of the human race, the rest will revolt

Perhaps India needs a revolution of a kind.


PS: I make my case on the background of urban/rural inequality as well as blatant flaws in the SEZ model shared here

BTW - Castro's Cuba may not be perfect, but Cuba's health care model shames even US  and many privatised healthcare models(even when US spends 15 % of its GDP against Cuba's 3%).

murali772's picture

government's job

Doc ASJ Businesses are businesses, and their primary objective is to increase the wealth of their share-holders. It is the governments which are required to pursue and promote the Social objectives (There are of course the trusts formed by the business houses which can suppliment the governments' job - like Bill Gates, Azim Premji, etc). As such, if the IT rebate was given only for setting up projects in the wastelands of Rajasthan, perhaps TATAs would have set up the NANO project there. Instead, what we are seeing today is what has very aptly been labelled 'crony capitalism' by Swaminathan Aiyer, leading to SEZs coming up adjascent to already developed areas. This is apart from government's own version of capitalism - check The states besides have to provide the proper climate (indusrial) also. After burning his fingers in Singur, if Ratanbhai chose Gujarat, it's largely because of the right kind of climate that Narendrabhai has managed to build up there, even if after all the turmoil of the not-too-distant past. How would you expect him to even look at Bihar, UP, etc, where basic problems like law & order have not been addressed? A good example is the wind energy sector in the country. It's flourishing today largely because of the incentives provided by the government, though the overall energy generation by the sector is only a small percentage of the total. Similarly, if all the artificialities of the present 'license-permit raaj' are dismantled, Mr Suresh Krishna, the grandson of Sri T V Sundaram Iyengar, will be most happy to provide efficient bus services like his grandfather was doing in the city of Madurai till such time was Indira Gandhi's Socialism killed it. All in all, it's essentially the governments that have to provide the right kind of policy framework, to begin with, and the industrialists will then possibly do all that I had listed in the earlier post. We can then go on to become models for Cuba, US, or even the Scandinavian countries, and in every field including healthcare. Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
asj's picture

A job for every citizen

Businesses are businesses, and their primary objective is to increase the wealth of their share-holders - that settles one thing - Capitalists are selfish and would hardly ever go beyond self preservation. So it is down to the Government - but who constitutes the government, who votes them in, where do these leaders without vision come from, who funds their campaigns? Is Ratanbhai not a citizen of India like us all? Is Anilbhai by virtue of being a capitalists immune from thinking about what is good for the Nation or is that a task out-sourced to people on this forum? I will not go in to depth here (perhaps it can be a separate post) but look at the 550 acres of Dharavi slums that the capitalists (including Tata housing, Reliance and many FDIs) are eyeiing (in company with our governing officials), they plan to cram 6 lakh people (regularised by the previous governments) in to 225 sq feet dwellings in a built up area of 30 million sq feet and use 40 million sq feet worth of development for their profits, at current rate of 28k per sq feet the returns on investment according to architecht and town planner Prakash Apte is over 400% How obscene is that? Are we to sit and watch and say its down to the Govt or are we to join the slum dwellers to make sure they get a decent life. Inceidently Dharavi (described as a slum), has an annual GDP of 1 billion US dollars (compare that with Wipro turnover). Should the urban middle class let the flawed policy of tax rebates for SEZs that lead to massive revunue losses continue and remain by-standers? Every loop hole is being exploited with regards the SEZs - meant for manufacturing, 65% approved SEZs are IT enclaves, only 35% (used to be 25%) of SEZ need be used for manufacturing, the rest can be used for real estate development - that a huge proportion are on our door step (on out skirts of our cities) should be cause for big worry for people like us. We keep talking os sustainable transport and look at the avalanche of doubling population densities about to hit us. If any one is to blame, it is us, the middle class who are to blame. Nothing will change until we move up beyond virtual discussion, until we move beyond forming NGOs, until we move beyond playing the role of stake holders.....until we the Praja find ourselves as corporators and MPs .... I wonder and dream of the day when Praja becomes a political party with candidates in 5 years time. ASJ
murali772's picture


Exactly - it is for us to make the government correct the present policy framework, or take-over the government ourselves. Otherwise, like you have stated, we will soon be faced with a revolution. Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
s_yajaman's picture

Excellent piece by Prof. Dipankar Gupta

Not sure if you read this in yesterday's TOI. http://www1.timesofindia.... Some excerpts "It is important to realise that nothing comes easy, least of all in a democracy. We have to decide what kind of society we want before we let loose the market." "The political decision that North Europeans, and even Canadians, took was to first devise their society and then let the economy arrange itself around it. They never seriously contested America’s boast that its profit and productivity were higher than theirs. They may have objected to the ways Americans calculated unemployment figures, but even that was inconsequential. Scandinavian countries took a clear and conscious political decision that what mattered most was that mothers not neglect their children, that old people not lie in gutters and that the sick have medical care. Once these conditions were agreed upon, the market was allowed freedom." On the contrary look at ourselves. We don't know what civil society is let alone what kind of society we want. Our beloved FM sounds more and more like a broken record with his "we will grow at 8% this year" quote every other day as if the 8% or 10% growth is the only thing that matters. Our public healthcare is non-existent, our primary education is an oxymoron. Our cities are crumbling. Yet all we are concerned is about how quickly we can grow our bank balances regardless of the means. Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

murali772's picture

you beat me to it

Yajamaanre' I had read it and was preparing to post it myself. You beat me to it. Indeed, this is how the government has to direct policy. Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
idontspam's picture

Ready for more taxes?

Income taxes in Scandinavia are close to 50%. Are we willing to pay that much for the kind of support the state will provide? Below is an extract of the parental leave act in Sweden. "Both fathers and mothers are entitled to non-paid parental leave of up to one and a half years from the birth of the child, without compensation from the state. In addition, there is a right to paid parental leave (financed by the national social insurance system). If a parent is drawing a parental allowance (maximum 450 days), he or she is entitled to leave. Parental allowance is (as at January 1998) 80% of the income of the parent taking the leave for 360 days of the 450. Parents are also entitled to leave in order to take care of a sick child (60 days a year). The Act also contains special rules protecting female employees who are pregnant, nursing or have recently given birth, as well as regulations relating to, inter alia, employment protection. Limited exceptions from the Act are allowed, by way of an agreement between the employer and employee."
s_yajaman's picture

We pay substantial taxes ourselves

IDS, We pay not insubstantial taxes ourselves. A peak slab of personal tax of 33.6. Excise duties of 16% or so, service tax if 12.36%, Local sales taxes in the 12% range, corporate profit tax of 35%. I don't ask that I personally get benefits equivalent to the tax I pay - it defeats the whole purpose of taxation! Between our state of things and parental leave of 1.5 years is a wide spectrum of possibilities. Quality primary education, quality public healthcare (especially in rural areas) could be could places to start vs. mega flyovers, elevated roads and bullet trains. Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

idontspam's picture

value for taxes

I expected this response before i posed this question. But just wanted everyone to know how it is achieved elsewhere so we are not mistaken in judging our efforts towards any goal. I do not dispute the fact that we are not getting the bang for the taxes we pay. While there have been money pumped into lot of social security schemes the inefficiencies and pilferage in implementation has seen results evaporate. I am only suggesting if we aim towards a utopian social security scheme we may need to look at more taxes. But yes beuracracy hasn't proven they can deal effectively with what they have already. I don't think we should trust them with more taxes. I don´'t agree we need to compromise on infrastructure development for improving social security. We just need to look at allocations a little more closely every March on where the rupee goes.
s_yajaman's picture

The point was not really about high taxes

The point was not really about high or low taxes. It was about active government involvement in setting a framework for civil society. What is the goal? Chidambaram goes on harping about an 8% growth. How many people on this forum (let alone among the billions) know what GDP is, what nominal GDP is, what the GDP deflator is, what real GDP is? And how by cleverly manipulating numbers one can always show "growth" just like how the US claims to still be growing. "Infrastructure" is an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of things. Oc course we should not compromise on building infrastructure. But what sort of infrastructure - these underpasses and flyovers that move bottlenecks across the city or things like good public transport, good footpaths? Our democracy is in danger of becoming "of the elite, by the elite and for the elite" if it has not already become so. Srivathsa

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

asj's picture

Well put: of the elite, by the elite and for the elite

Sri - well said. We need a paraigm shift. First 40 years wealth generation was not allowed, next 20 its allowed but in a very lop-sided manner. The loss of revenue through unpaid tax and SEZs as they are currently planned (5 years of 100% tax free status) is going to help those who have it all. Look at UK model - tax structure is very similar to India (going up to 40%). On top of this, people pay their council (municipal) tax, water tax, road tax (and even £135 pa for a TV license - BBC is advert free). Plus the 17% VAT on purchases and no subsidy on petrol (at its worst, petrol was £1.30 per liter). Now on top of this every one earning enough to pay basic rate of tax, pays mandatory National insurance plus mandatory pension schemes (both these require employer to match employee contributions). UK - over 65s - all are paid state pension, every unemployed person gets a job seekers allowance, hosuing for needy is available from local council (no slums), bus travel in London up to age of 16 and for senior citizens is free, schooling up to 16 is free and all healthcare is free (UK spends 7-8% of GDP on health). In contrast, in India - Lets take healthcare - Government contributes 1% of GDP, yet in reality Indians spend 6% of GDP equivalent on healthcare - 5% comes from out-of-pocket expense, all benefiting those who can spend on getting their by-passes done. But this could be very different when every person pays a mandatory insurance over and above tax. When we pool 6% of GDP in on pot and distribute it efficiently and effectively, free healthcare can become a reality (Cuba manages this with 3-4% of its GDP). What has to happen is that the 6% will need spending across the board equally (UK uses population density and some other formulae), this means in a given area, there will be only the required number of hospital beds, CT scanners, GPs etc . Instead what we have today is a situation where in a small place like South Mumbai, there are as many as half a dozen 5 star hospitals, half a dozen Public hospitals, multitudes of nursing homes, polyclinics, path labs, CT and MRI scanners. The skew is so bad that villages in Thane and Vasai 60 km away do not have anti-snake venoms. This applies to everything - as Sri says, crores of rupees on Magix Boxes, subways, footbridges (when as I have repeatedly pointed out, pedestrian refuges and crossing within a traffic lights cycle can be integrated without additional wait times for vehicles). UKs bulk of 18 gold medals were related to water sports - its mandatory that every school going person has a swimming lesson once a week - sucess story of a welfare state. Beveridge report which is the founding stone of social reforms in UK highlights advantages of wealth distribution. Its not about giving a beggar a free meal. Its about liberating people from daily worries of life - dealing with costs of sickness (commonest cause of unemployment), providing a level playing feild for all - free education, free libraies to all (no matter caste and religion) makes way for eradication of ignorance. People can pursue their ambitions, come up with inventions, follow their dreams (of becoming artists for example rather than worry about surviving by giving up their dreams to take a job in a call centre). This needs a paradigm shift. It should start by removing all incom tax sops to people and corporates who have it all. ASJ
idontspam's picture

Advantage of social security

I have observed that capitalist countries with better social security have better entrepreneurship. Could it be because they have a fall back option they are able to take more risks in life?
idontspam's picture

Growth rate and ministries

One of the reasons growth rate is important is to ensure there is adequate economic activity happening to keep liquidity flowing. It is not a goal but a means of measuring effectiveness of policies. It maybe off by a few percentage points due to the way it is accounted for but it cant lie totally. Now Chidambaram is not the health minister or the social welfare minister or the education minister or the minister for urban development to be producing statistics in those areas. You hear more about the finance minister because he seems to be the only one doing his job. I have't heard anything from the rest of the ministers. I don't see the point in blaming the finance minister for all the ills. There is an entire bureaucracy which has become useless. My point of post on taxes is purely that. with 33% you can only get X you will not get Y. You are currently getting X/4 and until that deficit is flattened and proven to be effective, you don't want to get into providing taxes for Y-X to the govt.
asj's picture

IDS, spot on again

I have observed that capitalist countries with better social security have better entrepreneurship. Could it be because they have a fall back option they are able to take more risks in life? Absolutely right - Scandinavian countries have stable or receding populations but economic growth is still sustained. This is because of doing different things rather than just more of same. In Weste, the number of people filing patents is huge, but only a small number of them are hi-fi research products like genetic engineering or a major software. The common man has the freedom to pursue their dreams and patents are filed for new stationery products to brooms to nappy designs. Social welfare reforms offers freedom from daily hassles of life and people do not have to worry about their basic needs and can simply move forward on Maslow's ladder to self-actualisation. ASJ comment guidelines

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