India is one of the few countries in the world today that still styles itself "socialist" in its constitution,since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its eastern European empire over twenty years ago.
However, the original framers of India's constitution adopted in 1949 did not find it necessary to insist that the country was socialist. Socialist was added by Indira Gandhi in a special amendment in 1976 during her controversial period of emergency rule.
Yet, if we listen to the strident anti-Modi rhetoric of the Congress party and its leaders today, they say that the problem with India today is that it is too capitalist and too much favors the rich. What India needs, it seems, according to them is more socialist policies and to keep capitalism in check.
I think we need to stop and think carefully here and take a good look at India's past.
If India is poor today, if the farmers are not doing well, if there is poor education, deficient sanitation, and a lack of good jobs, then the reason likely has something to do with the dominant socialist policies over the last several decades, including the policies of the last ten years of Congress rule before this one year of Modi.
India tried the same socialist policies as the Soviet Union and other eastern block countries and with the same colossal failures. That is why even the previous Congress government, though perhaps reluctantly, tried to bring in more capitalism and liberalise the economy, which it now seems to oppose.
It is not that Modi's one year of new capitalist policies has spoiled the socialist utopia that decades of Congress rule so magnificently created. Congress and the Left have worked hard to stop any liberalisation of the economy by Modi and keep the regressive socialist state in tact as much as possible.
If such socialist policies did not raise India economically in previous decades, how will they do so today in the era of the global economy? State socialism, such as Congress embraced, is an isolationist policy that resists being part of the global economy. It has only left India unprepared to deal with the global economy that all countries must function in today. Congress goes so far as to criticise Modi's foreign travel that aims to give India a more positive role and image in the global market as neglecting the poor in India, as if economic liberalization and helping the poor were contradictory policies.
Modern India has faired poorly economically even next to nearby countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore that have better embraced capitalism, not to mention China.
Socialism and corruption
Congress raises the danger of crony capitalism. But the greater danger in India has always been the corruption and incompetence born of state socialism. We can clearly observe thisduring the last five years of Congress rule with their massive government scams that cost the country many billions of rupees.
How Congress can raise an anti-corruption platform against Modi while it has yet to deal with its own much larger corruption issues is hypocritical. For these enormously expensive Congress scams, there has yet been no real punishment meted out to the culprits and the then ruling party, much less any payback to the country and its poor.
Does Congress want to protect the poor in India or to keep India poor - perhaps hoping the poor can continue on as in the past as a socialist vote bank, accepting occasional state favours in exchange for their votes?
India's socialist leaders themselves have seldom lived lives of poverty and austerity. They might quote Mahatma Gandhi but live like the rich everywhere, putting on simple clothes mainly for the camera. Their efforts to return to socialism appear motivated to preserve their own elite status at the top of the socialist hierarchy, not any real concern for the poor who they never succeeded in raising during their decades of rule anyway.
Yes India, please realise that the great socialist experiment went bust globally long ago and need not be repeated again in India - or another generation will be lost and the global economy may leave India behind.